One of the things I’m very passionate about is human rights. Specifically, to include unborn babies as humans. Crazy, huh? Many people would agree that unborn babies are human and deserve the right to life regardless of the circumstances they may be born into, but not everyone agrees at what point that fundamental right occurs. There’s a pretty good chance–given my audience–that if you’re reading this, you believe life begins at the moment of conception. The very moment the sperm penetrates the outer layer of the egg (in case you were confused). I’ve always believed this too, but it was a flippant belief until I had to change my lifestyle to accomodate this belief.
So, what does this have to do with birth control? It started one day a few years ago when I was researching hormonal birth control to see if there was any link to my recent hair loss. I know everybody has different side effect to The Pill, but mine was hair loss. The more I looked, the more I found those crazy christian groups that say taking The Pill or any other hormonal birth control is the same as having an abortion–which of course isn’t true, but I decided to find out how hormonal birth control really works just to make sure.
Here’s what I discovered. Hormonal birth control, whether it’s a patch, a pill, or a shot works mainly in three ways to prevent pregnancy.
1. It regulates your hormones. Obviously. I’m not a doctor, so without going into details, it releases different amounts of hormones such as estrogen or progesterone during a cycle so that the ovaries aren’t triggered to release an egg, which is known as ovulation. This, I’m completely ok with. It could be argued that doing so is in a sense, “playing God” but if you take it that far then you should apply that to any form of birth control. I don’t feel this way, because I think that reproduction is a gift from God that we are given to steward or manage to His glory.
2. In the event that an egg is released, the second thing hormonal birth control does is change the quality of cervical fluid so that environment is much more inhospitable to sperm travelling to their first date. All those charming bachelors fighting to swim to their ladylove. Sad, sad, sad. I’ll spare you the more gruesome details, but suffice to say, it prevents a chance encounter and love at first sight. I also have no problem with this. While they are living cells, neither the egg, nor the many, many sperm, are human life. Which is a good thing, because I’m going to guess you’ve “wasted” some a time or two.
3. The lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. This builds up and thickens each month in preparation for a potential pregnancy and is shed in the form of menstruation. Yes, I know–now I’m blogging about periods. Stop freaking out and keep reading. By the time a fertilized egg reaches the uterus (about a week or so after conception), it needs a nutrient-rich place to support life and so it burrows into the endometrium. As soon as it does so, it begins releasing the HCG, a pregnancy hormone which then starts a chain of hormonal events in order to stop menstruation from occurring. I’ve said “hormonal” a lot so far. If, you’re on hormonal birth control, and if the egg still gets released, and if the sperm are tenacious enough to get to it and fertilization occurs, then the last thing hormonal birth control does is regulate the growth of the endometrium so that it can’t get thick enough for a fertilized egg to implant. Instead, it is merely shed during menstruation with the endometrium. This is where I have a problem.
I know that was a lot of If’s. However, I know people, and you probably do too, who have gotten pregnant while using hormonal birth control. That means, that despite all those amazing odds they still had a baby. It also means that you can get pregnant unknowingly and lose your baby unknowingly.
When presented with these facts, I had to re-realize how important unborn life is–from the moment of conception onward. I dug through my husband’s nursing books, and I couldn’t deny the reality of life existing even in those early days post-conception. I couldn’t find a point in the life of an embryo where it suddenly mattered more than it previously had–whether it was four cells or an implanted blastocyst. I threw out my birth control pills that night and never looked back. I had no idea what my alternatives were, but I knew that in knowing, I couldn’t keep taking The Pill.
Fortunately, I did find a much better alternative to hormonal birth control known as Natural Family Planning. I won’t go into details here because this blog has already reached epic proportions, but I will say this: it’s not as easy as popping a pill, but it’s not much harder, and the method failure rate is about 2%. If you want more information, you can google it or go to this website: http://www.TCOYF.com
I’m trying to think of a clever way of wrapping up this gigantic blog. When I decided to blog about my convictions this month, I wanted to focus on things that were unique to me and my perspectives. Birth control certainly is one of them. I could apologize for possibly making you cringe here and there, but the reality is–if you’re not already, you probably will at one point be using it. Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, you share equal responsibility to be informed about the birth control methods you use. I’m including a picture i found somewhere on the internet for which i probably do not have permission, but it’s a great illustration of what occurs during the first couple of days post-ovulation.