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Defending life from the moment of conception

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SPUC calls for the truth about the pill

20 May 2003

SPUC calls for the truth about the pill Westminster, 20 May 2003--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called for women to be told the truth about the potentially fatal effect of birth control pills on their unborn children. SPUC was commenting after researchers at Tromsø university, Norway, found a 45% increase in the risk of breast cancer among women who took second generation birth control pills for three years or longer. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "It is quite right that women should be told the truth about how birth control pills may threaten their own health. However, they also need to be told that the pill can cause an early abortion. "Many birth control pills can prevent ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But these pills can disrupt the womb-lining too, so that if conception does occur the embryo cannot implant, and is aborted instead. It is not only the morning-after pill that does this. "This has been known for years by the birth control industry, but it is not generally understood by pill-users. Women by the million have been encouraged to take this drug without knowing how it worked. This is a serious infringement of informed consent, and will cause distress to many. It is no justification to say 'so many people now use these drugs there is no point upsetting them.' The sensitive and compassionate approach is to be honest and to invite women to reconsider the drugs they are taking. "SPUC has produced a booklet on those birth control methods which can cause abortion and will continue to inform and educate people, especially girls and women, about this serious threat to young human life. "When we in SPUC sought a judicial review on morning-after pills, two of the witness statements in support of the drug company and the judge's ruling acknowledged the fact that non-barrier birth control could affect the lining of the womb, which is where the early embryo needs to implant." Dr Connie Smith, director of the Clinical Effectiveness Unit at the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London, wrote in part 11 of her witness statement: Acknowledging the uncertainties in this area, the research evidence indicates that contemporary non-barrier contraceptives act at one or more of the currently identified key stages of the early reproductive process, ovulation, sperm migration, fertilisation and embryo implantation into the endometrium. Several commentators have argued that there is little evidence that current contaceptive methods act after fertilisation. However extensive clinical research shows their profound effects on the endometrium. It is therefore plausible that non-barrier contraceptives may act at the level of the pre-implantation pre-embryo [sic], the endometrium or the implantation process. Ms Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association of London, wrote in part 19 of her witness statement: I am not a medical expert but my understanding is that all emergency contraception [sic] methods, whether hormonal or the insertion of an IUD, may prevent implantation. Further, all hormonal contraceptives, whether being used as emergency contraception or not, have some effect on the endometrium and thus to a greater or lesser extent act to prevent implantation. In paragraph 6 of his judgement of 18 April 2002, Mr Justice Munby explained why he rejected SPUC's argument against the morning-after pill. He said that a restriction on the morning-after pill would: "extend to cover any form of birth control which may have the effect of discouraging a fertilised egg from implanting in the lining of the womb - that is to say, not merely the morning-after pill but also IUDs, the mini-pill and even the pill itself." * The team at Tromsø studied some 95,000 women aged 30 to 70. Their results have been reported in the International Journal of Cancer.

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