Chemical birth control, acting as an abortifacient

It is a common misconception that abortion opponents are inconsistent, or at least working against our own goals, by opposing birth control as a means to avoid abortion. But that ignores an important argument about chemical birth control, which I pointed out in the comments for a letter to the editor last week:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that chemical birth control – which even Planned Parenthood admits can act as an abortifacient – is also the termination of a human life. Scientifically, they are correct. Whether a baby is killed chemically at the earliest stages of pregnancy or surgically later, it is still the destruction of a human life.

(I am not Catholic, by the way.)

I got some aggressive pushback against this statement, including some rather nasty personal attacks. I was called a buffoon (among other things) and repeatedly accused of being dishonest. But this is not something I just made up out of thin air. The federal Food and Drug Administration determined decades ago that because chemical birth control can prevent implantation of an embryo – a newly formed human being.

For those (like me) who believe that life begins at fertilization, this is unacceptable. Obviously, I understand why philosophical or religious opposition to chemical birth control would be controversial. What I find interesting is that the finding that chemical birth control (specifically the meaning the estrogen and progestin combination, commonly referred to as “the pill”) can prevent implantation is so controversial and provokes so much rage.

It is especially interesting that this rage is provoked in people who support the right of women to have surgical abortions. Just form a visual perspective, a surgical abortion is a much more visually graphic and bloody procedure, as you can see from these pictures.

When you’re dealing with preventing implantation, we are talking about something so tiny it is basically invisible. When an embryo fails to implant (naturally or as the result of chemical birth control) a woman will probably never even know that fertilization has taken place. Abortion-rights apologists routinely dismiss surgical abortion as removing “a clump of cells.” This is obviously and laughably false in the case if a surgical abortion, but is an accurate description for chemical abortion. So what exactly is the big deal here? I honestly do not know the answer.

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