One of the most important yet most ignored topics in our modern culture is birth control. It is a common thing, yet we never take the time to stop and examine it. From a Pro-Life perspective, it is imperative we understand it completely, especially as it pertains to the abortion battle.
This topic not only relates to the abortion argument, but to every person of childbearing age. We simply cannot talk about the pro-life worldview without talking about birth control.
Why would so much time be devoted to this topic? For starters, because it is difficult to obtain accurate information on birth control from a pro-life worldview, yet one of the most common arguments thrown our way is the only real solution for ending abortion is to have ubiquitous birth control available to anyone of child-bearing age.
A late-night television host, John Oliver, recently did his own take on pro-life pregnancy centers, and may I say it was not flattering. His conclusion to the abortion debate was we do not need pregnancy centers for women, we simply need more free birth control. This “solution” is widely popular in the mainstream culture, but is there any truth to it? Can the presence of more birth control actually impact the abortion rate? That is what we are here to find out.
The first thing we need to clear up is a pretty general question: What is birth control? What does the term mean, where does it come from, and what exactly are we discussing here?
Well, the word “contraception” (i.e., birth control), comes from the Latin words for “against” and “conception” — essentially “against conception.” Contraception is any method, device, or drug used for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. This may seem fairly obvious, but what many do not realize is where the term “contraception” originated. It may surprise you to learn it was coined by Margaret Sanger, who also happens to be the founder of Planned Parenthood.
Around 1914, she and her colleagues coined the term “birth control,” and opened up the very first birth control clinic in 1916. Her motive for birth control and abortion was to thin out the population of certain “unfit” races and cultures she deemed unworthy of existence and damaging to the gene pool of greater society. So whenever we use the term “birth control,” we are referencing a phrase coined by none other than the founder of Planned Parenthood, the #1 murderer of preborn children in America.
We as pro-lifers typically separate contraception from abortion. In general, contraceptives are not abortive. Contraception prevents the joining of egg and sperm to create a zygote, whereas abortion kills an already-joined life. But what we do not realize is abortion and contraception overlap in a very distinct and interesting way. This is where we come to the term “abortifacient contraceptives.”
Before we get into that, we must first clarify our definition of pregnancy. That probably seems unnecessary, but surprisingly, the very definition of pregnancy is debated. We as pro-lifers believe life begins at conception and that the zygote, because of its unique characteristics, is a life with equal rights to those of, say, a teenager.
These rights and characteristics are present in a child the second there is union of egg and sperm. However, the birth control and abortion culture claim this is not actually the beginning of a pregnancy. According to them, fertilization is not legitimate until implantation, which does not happen until 10-14 days afterward, when the zygote begins to fully form. Right there, the terminology is skewed and leaves a window of opportunity to redefine birth control and its actual function.
According to the Plan B One-Step’s website (a popular birth control option), “Plan B One-Step works mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B One-Step may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb).”
They are fully admitting that their product could and has caused abortion of an early stage human being by preventing implantation into the womb. This is very carefully worded, however, because they avoid specifying exactly what is prevented from attaching – or rather, whom. This is not a preventative measure; rather it is the extermination of a life already formed. But they easily get away with saying contraceptives do not cause abortion because they have redefined pregnancy. A pregnancy no longer begins when sperm and egg unite; rather, pregnancy begins when the zygote implants into the uterine wall. They have replaced fact with fiction, and this is something we must be aware of if we are going to refute these false claims.
Let’s back this up for a second. While it may seem as though we have addressed the issue thoroughly, this example of manipulation to push the birth control/abortion agenda is merely the surface. And since this is a topic that is rarely (if ever) discussed, it is imperative to know as much as we can about it.
In order to properly understand, we need to know the different types of birth control options available today. There are four main methods of contraception circulating:
The first option is hormonal contraception, commonly known as “The Pill,” “The Patch,” or other similar terms. This type of contraception is designed primarily for females (although there are also male options), and works by releasing hormones into the body. Its primary purpose is to suppress ovulation, but it does not always work that way. Ovulation can still occur in some instances, so these methods have a backup operation (which we delved into above), which prevents implantation, a.k.a. early-stage abortion — deeming it an abortifacient.
The second option is intrauterine birth control, otherwise known as IUDs. This method is similar to the first method, it simply works differently because instead of a pill or patch, it depends on an implant within the uterus itself. These IUDs emit copper ions or hormones (depending on the type) to kill the sperm before it reaches the egg. This, too, can fail at which point a woman has the backup option of early-stage abortion by terminating an early embryo before implantation.
The third option is the “barrier method.” This includes condoms, diaphragms, and similar methods which are not abortifacient. They do not affect body chemistry or cause termination of a joined embryo. There is no effect on conception because the goal is to prevent the meeting of sperm with egg.
The fourth option is a variety of fertility-awareness methods. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a popular term covering the basic nature of this option. Abstinence during certain body cycles or using certain methods during those cycles to prevent pregnancy are the options presented here. Abstinence, obviously, would not be an abortifacient method as no sperm and egg unite.
Yes, I realize this is a pretty uncomfortable topic to be discussing. But it is vital because of how often it is referenced in the pro-life vs. pro-abortion debate. A notable example of this is the landmark Supreme Court case involving the chain Hobby Lobby four years ago. Hobby Lobby, which is owned by a Christian, pro-life family holding biblical values in their business, ran into a problem with the Obamacare mandates.
As you may recall, the mandates required all employers to include contraception as standard health care. Hobby Lobby stood against this blanket mandate, citing the fact some birth control options are abortifacients, and it was against their sincerely-held religious beliefs to provide their employees with contraception which could cause abortions.
Rumors went around saying the family and company were holistically against birth control, but this simply was not true. This goes back to the fact there are many types of contraception, and the ones Hobby Lobby spoke against were those proven to be abortifacients. However, this truth was overlooked in the media as they bashed the company for not succumbing to the mandate.
Even today, the Wikipedia page on the court case carries the myth that pregnancy does not start until implantation:
“The plaintiffs believed that life began at conception which they equated to fertilization and objected to their businesses providing health insurance coverage to their female employees of four FDA-approved contraceptives that the plaintiffs believed, contrary to scientific consensus, prevented implantation of a fertilized egg. The plaintiffs believed these forms of contraception constituted an abortion.”
What they are essentially saying is that Hobby Lobby’s entire objection was wrong because it claimed certain forms of birth control cause abortions. But this completely ignores the fact providers of contraception like Plan B One Step have fully admitted it does, in fact, cause termination of an already-formed human.
But they are careful to word it on both ends so that no one questions it. Do you see the cleverness of the wordsmithing here? We need to be very careful because so-called “trusted” sources (like Wikipedia) spin this in a way to try and influence our thinking.
Hobby Lobby obviously wasn’t against all forms of birth control, only abortifacient ones. That is why it is not surprising the Supreme Court ruled in their favor regarding the case, stating that a mandate cannot force a corporation to provide drugs and devices against their will or beliefs.
Abortionists claimed the pro-lifers wanted to strip women of their rights, enslave them, and destroy reproductive rights. In reality, however, this case represents the acknowledged freedom of business owners to conduct their businesses according to their conscience.
One last point to cover in this first of three-part series is the point made by John Oliver which I introduced earlier. The other side claims more free birth control would result in fewer abortions. Well, obviously the presence of birth control now is not doing much to affect the millions of preborn children slaughtered every year, so it does not make sense to assume more birth control would result in fewer abortions.
The reason for this was illustrated quite profoundly in a poll Human Coalition recently conducted. Human Coalition serves and supports pregnancy centers dedicated to helping women who are pregnant and do not want to be.
In this poll, they asked abortion-seeking women why they had not used birth control. Here are some of the quotes from those who responded:
“Birth control makes me sick.”
“I don’t remember to take it.”
“My husband doesn’t like barrier methods.”
“We don’t have sex often enough.”
“I don’t believe in it.”
“I heard it can make you fat.”
“I don’t want to put those chemicals in my body.”
While the media claims free birth control would solve the problem, a simple sampling of women shows there are many other factors than simply the cost of contraceptives. The argument falls apart right here. This is why we need to discuss this topic; these simple facts and logical conclusions are eliminated from the media for fear it would prove their argument false.
So the question now is, why don’t we talk about it? Well, have you ever heard your Pastor or Priest discussing it? I haven’t. I rarely hear it discussed at all, but why is this? Why is a topic which affects every person of child-bearing age never discussed?
For one, it is uncomfortable. It means you have to talk about things you probably would rather not. Another reason is there are different theological beliefs concerning it. However we need to find common ground, and we need to talk about it. We cannot address abortion without also addressing sexuality, and we cannot address sexuality without also addressing birth control.
You can find an expansive audio version on the topic of Birth Control on The Human Element Show, a podcast by our friends at Human Coalition which combines incisive commentary and accessible apologetics to not only communicate the pro-life worldview, but also engage Americans in ending the abortion genocide in our lifetime.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.