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Saying No to NORPLANT

* Although Norplant has not been generally available in the U.S. since 2002, the drug is still available in a number of different countries and the article still has direct relevance to our readers in these countries.  Also, the article stands as an important example of Christians fidelity that has its own lessons for all of us.*

by Mary Roberts

(A Governing Board member of Vital Signs Ministries, Mary has had several years of pro-life ministry experience, including CPC duties, sidewalk counseling, and mothering 6 boys and 3 daughters! She and her husband Mark attend Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, P.C.A. in Omaha.  Mary's article has been printed in several pro-life publications.)

It was at a Vital Signs Ministries gathering, that we first learned about NORPLANT, the drug that is touted as a safe and harmless contraceptive – an under-the-skin implant that prevents pregnancy for up to 5 years. However, at the meeting I learned that NORPLANT had not been thoroughly tested in its claims of safety nor, most importantly, was it a pure contraceptive at all! Wanting to further educate myself, I signed up that night to receive a fact sheet on NORPLANT printed by American Life Lobby. A few days later, the Co-Director of Vital Signs, Claire Hartford, sent it to me. I carefully read it and was again shocked by the information it revealed. 

This so-called "contraceptive," which one would suppose would suppress ovulation to prevent conception by inhibiting sperm migration, actually allows ovulation to occur between 20 to 75% of the time! Please consider this carefully because if ovulation does occur and a woman's egg is allowed to be fertilized by a man's sperm, a child is created! So what does NORPLANT do if this happens? Well, the lining of the womb (endometrium) is made hostile to the implantation of the developing child. The tiny boy or girl - unique, precious and very much alive - is left "homeless" and soon dies. Clearly, then, NORPLANT causes abortions. It kills invaluable human lives that have been created by our Heavenly Father. So, it was obvious to me as a pro-life Christian that I would have to unequivocally oppose this new chemical danger to human lives.

I didn't realize just how quickly my resolve would be tested. The week or so after learning about NORPLANT, I was very disappointed to receive a newsletter put out by the clinic where my doctor works. It stated that NORPLANT was to be offered by the clinic that spring. My heart sank as I read the article, knowing immediately that I would need to ask my OB doctor if he planned to offer NORPLANT himself. You see, my husband and I were very blessed to be expecting our third child that November. I had already had my OB workup and had my second appointment with the physician scheduled for the following week.

I began to pray for wisdom (and courage) in knowing just how to handle this delicate situation. I began to realize that just as I couldn't support a doctor who performed or referred for surgical abortions, I could not support a doctor who prescribed any type of abortifacient (IUD, the pill, RU-486, NORPLANT, etc.). If we truly believe that the life of each and every precious human being begins at the moment the egg and sperm unite, if we know that in that miraculous moment the complete genetic makeup of the baby is created, and if we understand that the abortifacient effect of these drugs and devices destroys the life which God created (no matter how frequently, it surely happens!), then how can we do any less then confront and leave those doctors who continue to threaten babies' lives? Many of us are active in boycotts. We boycott companies that fund Planned Parenthood or sell pornography or sponsor illicit sex, violence and profanity on television. How much more important is it to boycott the very doctors who are responsible for helping women to kill precious children through the use of lethal agents? These are the things the Lord began to teach me as He prepared me for the meeting with my doctor. I was also very thankful for a husband who said he would support me in whatever I needed to do.

For the first time ever, I found myself dreading my OB appointment. But I knew I had to go through with the confrontation. After the doctor and I discussed how I had been feeling and I heard for the first time my child's beating heart, I asked my doctor if he planned to prescribe NORPLANT. My spirit dropped suddenly as he said, "Yes." He could see the disappointment in my face. I said, "I have a real problem with that because NORPLANT is an abortifacient .  "I asked him to read the highlighted portions of the fact sheet and article I'd brought along. 

I guess I wasn't fully prepared for his reaction. I had hoped that he would be surprised and disturbed by the information and would consequently reconsider, but to my dismay, he showed a quite opposite reaction. He was definitely prepared to defend his decision. He explained in some detail why he felt NORPLANT would be beneficial in his practice. He could not refute the clear evidence of NORPLANT's abortion effects but he simply dismissed it as being "no different than the pill." A provocative comparison indeed!

It was a scary feeling to sit there listening to this man I so respected, trusted and appreciated for all he had done for me. (He had delivered our 2nd son only a year previous.) The doctor seemed so confident that NORPLANT was a great thing. For a few moments, I found myself doubting my convictions and even the knowledge on which they were based. When we were finished talking, he asked, "See you in a month?" I merely looked at him. I knew he could see the sadness in my eyes. He offered his hand to me; I shook it and simply said good-bye. I walked out without making another appointment. I knew that my doctor was aware of the abortion action of NORPLANT and yet was planning to offer it despite its lethal ramifications. I was hurt and shocked and greatly disillusioned. 

Once home, I cried briefly for the loss of what had been a special relationship. I called Claire to cheer me up and to remind me (as I knew she would) that I had done the right thing in being obedient to Scripture. Then, in the hours following my meeting with my doctor, I began to experience in a very profound way the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I knew it was He Who had given me the courage and strength to do my Father's will. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I had ever done but it was a necessary confrontation. To say I care about the biblical doctrine of the sanctity of life or to say that I oppose the violence directed at unborn boys and girls requires that I act consistently with those sentiments. I followed up this visit with a letter to my doctor explaining again exactly why I had to leave him. I also warned him that I would be educating my friends (many of whom are his patients) about the abortifacient effects of NORPLANT and would be urging them to find a truly pro-life doctor also.

As followers of our Lord Jesus, we are called to be truth-tellers. I want to challenge you (wives and husbands) to confront your doctor about abortifacient "contraceptives" such as NORPLANT and to leave if he or she refuses to change their position. The Lord will honor your decision to please Him rather than man, and He will give you every ounce of courage, wisdom and boldness that you need.