Question 128



 Dear Ms. Beck,

As a married, woman physician with 5 children, I would like to answer your riddle. But first, I have some of my own to ask your audience.

Why was the pill first introduced by Dr. John Rock back in 1960? Wasn’t it to help women make their lives a little easier? Wasn’t it to strengthen marriage? Wasn’t it to make abortion a rare occurrence? And, wasn’t it to improve society in general?

And now, 50 years later, have those objectives been achieved? No, on all counts.

The birth control pill category has one of the most serious list of side effects that I have ever prescribed, including death, pulmonary embolus, blood clots, stroke, migraines, increased rates of cervical cancer, increased sexual transmitted diseases (including HPV, Herpes and HIV), and prolonged infertility, including a whole host of minor symptoms which can become severe, such as depression. Where are the Ralph Naders of the world, who criticize every cholesterol medicine that comes out despite the obvious merits of such pills, yet remain mysteriously quiet regarding the deathly oral contraceptives – another riddle.

Oral contraceptives, since 2005, have been on the WHO’s (World Health Organization’s) list of known carcinogens list. Their cousin compounds, postmenopausal HRT (hormone replacement therapy, such as Prempro) was shown to definitely cause an increase in breast cancer after 5 years of use. Yet, the birth control pill contains much higher doses of estrogen and progestins, and are given to younger women, with much more susceptible breast tissue, for longer periods of time, and the medical community doubts that this is not causing the astronomical increase in breast cancer rates we are currently experiencing? We throw these compounds at teenagers, while their breast tissue is still immature and developing, for minor medical problems like acne and dysmennorhea, and we tell them it is safe, and then we look the other way when those women at aged 40 or 50 develop hormone positive breast cancer?

We wonder why certain studies seem to prove that oral contraceptive use, especially before a woman’s first pregnancy, do show a significant increase in breast cancer, but then seem puzzled when larger studies, funded by the overflowing coffers of the pharameutical industry seem to show no relationship. Yet another riddle. We also wonder why agencies that promote contraceptive pills and devices are linked to agencies that supposedly fight breast cancer – wouldn’t one think that is a conflict of interest? And what about the monetary incentives physicians have for prescribing the pill, performing sterilizations and abortions? More riddles.

We wonder why the pill doesn’t work all the time in preventing pregnancy. Could it be because the pill actually works several ways and only one of these ways actually prevents ovulation? The other methods change cervical mucus and prevent the baby from implanting into its mother’s womb. Could it be because ever since the pill’s inception, the drug companies have been ratcheting down the dosages of the estrogens because of the high cardiovascular risks of the drugs, and by decreasing the estrogens, this leads to higher rates of “breakthrough ovulation”. And of course, the pill in actual usage, depending on the population using it, is much lower than its touted 99% theoretical effectiveness rate. In young teenage girls, it can be as low as 70% due to multiple missed doses.

We wonder why surgical abortion rates have increased not decreased. And, as mentioned above, regarding the abortifacient nature of the pill (it prevents the tiny baby from implanting into the wall of the uterus), these “medical” abortions are too numerous to count. We wonder why certain Colleges of Physicians had to redefine when life begins from fertilization to implantation? Was this maneuver accomplished in order to evade the abortifacient nature of the pill? Another riddle.

We wonder why marriages are crumbling, instead of being strengthened. Why single parents are raising children instead of a mother and a father raising children as a team, and how this is in anyone’s best interests? In the race for women’s liberation, our selfish quest for freedom and control over our bodies has made casualties of the unborn and of the children who get a single mother exhausted by work and the overwhelming burdens of raising a child alone.

We wonder why there are never articles touting the benefits of fertility awareness or NFP (Natural Family Planning). Well, these methods are free, easy to use, 98% effective, good for marriages, and good for the environment. Couples that use NFP have a divorce rate of 1-5% contrasted with contracepting or sterilized couples who have rates over 50%.

Ms. Beck, the answer to your riddle, is that unplanned pregnancies are happening because birth control is not the panacea it was made out to be 50 years ago. I stopped prescribing the pill 3 years ago in part, because I couldn’t stand to see one more stroke victim, one more STD, one more cervical or breast cancer case, or one more “backup abortion” for failed contraceptive. The main reason, though, that I stopped prescribing and using birth control, was because I understood through my Catholic faith, Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body, that birth control is bad for women because it is against God’s plan for human sexuality and marriage. The answer to your riddle is that birth control has failed miserably on all counts, and it is my sincere hope and prayer that American women wake up very shortly.

Dr. Rebecca Peck, M.D./Pecks Family Practice/Ormond Beach, FL 32174