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Gambling With Life

Prepared exclusively for Vital Signs Ministries by David Sterns, M.D.; Gina Sterns, R.N., B.S.N.; Pamela Yaksich and Denny Hartford

"In light of these realities, can Christian couples truly neglect the disturbing ramifications that use of either the IUD or the various 'birth control pills' creates? Those Christians who are sincerely committed to God and His Word must strictly obey His clear mandate -- 'Thou shalt not kill.' "  

THE IUD

The primary mechanism of Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) is abortifacient (abortion inducing). While they may occasionally prevent conception (i.e., fertilization, where the egg and the sperm unite in the Fallopian tube), this is not the main mechanism of action. After conception occurs, the fertilized egg (a new human being by every medical and biblical definition) arrives in the uterus 6 to 10 days later. If an IUD is in place, this tiny human is unable to implant into the uterine wall. Thus, he or she is aborted.  The IUD has caused the death of this new life in the uterus.

This is why the Food and Drug Administration labels IUDs as "antiimplantational," describing them as working at the uterine level 6 to 10 days postconception.

Sophisticated studies of women using IUDs have shown that frequently they demonstrate positive pregnancy tests (Beta HCG serum levels) that then become negative again over a period of time. This demonstrates that conception has likely taken place but was then followed by the death of the young person in the womb.

These sobering facts have led most Christian doctors (and informed Christian couples) to regard IUDs as morally unacceptable. They are not contraceptives! Even evangelical Protestants who do not necessarily oppose contraception must deal with the very real facts that so-called contraceptives are abortifacients.

THE PILL

The "birth control pill" is not merely a contraceptive either. Although it is designed primarily as a contraceptive, it is not always effective as such.   And when it is not effective, it has a "back-up" mechanism that is abortifacient.  The "pill" has three mechanisms of action. Which anyone can easily look up in the Physician's Desk Reference.

  1. The drug attempts to suppress ovulation. When successful in this action, an egg is not released and conception cannot occur.

  2. It thickens the woman's cervical mucus.  By this the sperm are restricted from moving up the reproductive tract. This is also contraceptive.

  3. However, the "pill" causes certain changes in the uterine lining so that if conception does occur, the new life meets a hostile environment when it arrives in the uterus 6 to 10 days later. It cannot implant and it therefore dies. This is abortifacient. As you see, this is similar to the IUD.

Why then do some Christians continue to accept the "pill" as a morally acceptable choice in planning families? One justification centers upon the uncertainty of just how often the "pill" works as an abortifacient. Unlike the IUD, such persons argue, the "pill" is primarily contraceptive since it suppresses ovulation most of the time. (Emory University's Contraceptive Technology has published that the most obvious exceptions here are the "mini-pills" which have no estrogen and allow ovulation to take place as often as 40-60% of the time.)

Initial studies showed that even the early "pill" formulations (which were much more likely to suppress ovulation due to their higher doses of estrogen) still allowed "breakthrough ovulation" to occur 13% of the time! An award-winning study by the Dutch gynecologist Dr. Nine Van der Vange and presented at the Second International Conference of the Society for Advancement in Contraception (SAC) in Jakarta showed that low-dose contraceptive pills do not always suppress ovulation. In follicular ultrasound measurements she found detectable follicular growth in 52% to 56% of the cycles investigated and preovulatory size follicles in at least 30% of the cycles. Proof of ovulation based on ultrasound exams and hormonal indicators occurred in about 4% of the cycles studied. In summarizing her presentation before the Society, Dr. Van der Vange remarked, "We conclude that the contraceptive preparations are more complex than has been thought. They are not only based on inhibition of ovulation."

Dr. Ronald Chez, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), publicly stated that the "pills" of today, with their lower estrogen dose, allow ovulation up to 50% of the time! Dr. Thomas Hilgers, the renowned fertility expert who is currently the Director of the Pope Paul VI Research Institute, was present when this statement was made but the NIH has never published this information. In fact, the NIH has been more than a little hesitant to publish specific data in the medical journals to which private MDs have access. The drug companies are similarly reticent to provide such data. Nevertheless, the scientist mentioned above was at that time the head of the pregnancy research development branch of the NIH.

So just how often does the "pill" have to rely on this abortive "backup" mechanism? No one can tell you with certainty. Perhaps it is as seldom as 12% of the time (or less) but perhaps it is as frequently as 50% of the time. Does it matter?  One must not gamble with human life.

The clear conclusion is that it is impossible for any woman on the "pill" in any given month to know exactly which mechanism is in effect. In other words, the "pill" always carries with it the potential to act as an abortifacient.  In light of these realities, can Christian couples neglect the alarming ramifications that use of either the IUD or the various "birth control pills" create?

Those Christians who are sincerely committed to God and His Word must strictly obey His clear mandate ----"Thou shalt not kill." This is a most important message, involving human lives and the Christian’s loyalty to the commands of Holy Scripture,.

 David Sterns, M.D., is a graduate of the University of Nebraska School of Medicine and is Board Certified in internal medicine and electrocardiology. His wife, Gina Sterns, R.N., holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Biola University.

Pam Yaksich, a former high school principal and teacher of science, biology and theology works with the physicians of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.  Denny Hartford, (B.A., M.A) is Director of Vital Signs Ministries.