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Communique – May. 5, 2000

birth control

CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARIES: Contraception, an Elsevier clinical research journal, is 30 years old. The occasion sparked a series of three articles that are briefly summarized below:

  • “Bust Without Boom,” by J. W. Goldzieher, discusses the reasons why contraceptive research continues to falter, in his opinion. He includes all abortifacients in the discussion, and describes those who have exposed the deleterious side-effects of various chemicals as “a small coterie of English and American epidemiologists.”
  • “The Contraceptive Revolution,” by E. Diczfalusy of Sweden, attributes future promise to such projects as the Contraception-21 program adopted by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1993. This project laid the groundwork for “Contraceptive Research and Development – Looking to the Future,” published by National Academy Press.
  • “The ‘Boom and Bust Phenomenon’: The Hopes, Dreams and Broken Promises of the Contraceptive Revolution,” a review prepared by “>Heather Boonstra, senior policy analyst for the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

The Contraception journal is only available by subscription.

FUTURE POSSIBILITIES: Daniel Mishell Jr., M.D., writes: “During the incoming year, in the United States, it is anticipated that several new contraceptive modalities will be introduced. These include a progestin emergency contraceptive, a monthly estrogen-progestin injection, new progestin implants with one or two delivery devices, a contraceptive transdermal patch, a contraceptive vaginal device, and a new long-lasting, progestin-releasing IUD. In addition, one or more medical methods of abortion will most likely become available, together with new low dose oral contraceptive formulations.”

COMMENT: Note there is no separation between “medical methods of abortion” and other methods.

(Reading: “Thirty Years of Contraception,” Contraception, 1/00)

chemical (medical) abortion

MEDICAL ABORTION EFFICACY: A meta-analysis comparing mifepristone + misoprostol research with methotrexate/misoprostol research is published in Contraception, 1/00, pp. 29-40 (subscription required).

MIFEPRISTONE (RU-486): When researchers use low-dose mifepristone, and administer vaginal misoprostol 48 hours later, abortion may be completed through the 63rd day of pregnancy. This study involving 1137 patients – 34 of whom required surgical abortion and 16 of whom were “lost to follow up” – concludes “low-dose mifepristone 200 mg and home administration of vaginal misoprostol 800 mg at 48 hours were highly effective and acceptable to women less than 63 days pregnant, thereby expanding the number of women who can access a medical abortion.”

NOTE: Lawrence Lader, president of Abortion Rights Mobilization, sponsored this study. In 1991 Mr. Lader wrote “RU- 486: The Pill That Could End the Abortion Wars and Why American Women Don’t Have It,” and in 1997 Lader made RU-486 available in clinical trials (“Activist Offers Abortion Pill in Clinical Trials,” Bergen Record, 7/2/97)

(Reading: “Low-dose Mifepristone Followed by Vaginal Misoprostol at 48 Hours for Abortion Up to 63 days,” Contraception, 1/00, pp. 41-46, subscription required)

MISOPROSTOL: Brazilian researchers evaluated the effectiveness of a single dose of misoprostol administered vaginally to terminate pregnancy through the 42nd day. A total of 101 women 42 days pregnant or less, whose pregnancy was confirmed by ultrasound, took part in the trial. 74 women bled and expelled the “gestational sac” within 24 hours; and within seven days 88 of the 101 women aborted. A second administration of the misoprostol resulted in five additional abortions. They conclude that misoprostol, 800 mg per dose, is “a simple and safe method of pregnancy termination, without surgical intervention” and “could have a major impact on women’s reproductive health because confidentiality is better preserved than with surgical evacuation.”

(Reading: “Termination of Pregnancies of Less Than 6 Weeks Gestation with a Single Dose of 800 mg of Vaginal Misoprostol,” Contraception, 1/00, pp. 47-50, subscription required)

human experimentation

U.S. RESEARCH IN UGANDA: Commenting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, its editor, Marcia Angell, M.D., points out that ethical standards in the study might not have been uniform with those expected if such a study had been conducted in the USA. In fact, she points out “such a study could not have been performed in the United States, where it would be expected that patients with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases would be treated. In addition, in most states it would be expected that caregivers would see that seronegative partners were informed of their special risk.” The study in question, conducted in Uganda, exposed 415 couples to AIDS for the purpose of observing the transmission of the disease. The Johns Hopkins University conducted the study, and according to Dr. Angell, the Office of Protection from Research Risk of the National Institutes of Health approved the study.

COMMENT: So NIH views Ugandans (as well as American embryonic babies) as human guinea pigs.

(Action: Comments should be sent to “>Office for Protection from Research Risks [OPRR], National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Suite 3B01, MSC-7507, Rockville, MD 20892-7507, or comment via e-mail)

(Reading: “Investigators’ Responsibilities for Human Subjects in Developing Countries,” The New England Journal of Medicine, “Viral Load and Heterosexual Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 3/00; “Did USAID Fund Study Infecting Ugandans with AIDS?” LifeSite Daily News, 4/12/00)


KENTUCKY: House Bill 378 establishes the personhood of the child with the language.” As used in this section, the word ‘person’ includes an unborn child from fertilization onward, without regard to age, health or condition of dependency.” The bill’s specific goal is the recovery of fees from wrongful death of the child, as a person, due to accident or intended injury. The bill does not impact, however, on the act of abortion, if “the woman has consented.”

(Reading: HB 378, Kentucky Legislature)


CONSCIENCE CLAUSE: Pharmacists for Life International has focused attention on two items of importance: the conscience clause legislation currently under consideration in the Kentucky state legislature, and the collision of values occurring in Canada where the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has issued guidelines, “Ethics in Practice,” which state in part: “Individual pharmacists may experience conscience problems when requested to provide services to which they have a moral objection. At present these services might include provision of contraceptives, syringes and needles to drug addicts, emergency contraceptives, high doses of narcotics to control intractable pain that might hasten death in the terminally ill, and medications for terminal sedation. In future these services might expand to include preparation of drugs to assist voluntary or involuntary suicide, cloning, genetic manipulation, or even execution.” And the document warns: “The moral position of an individual pharmacist, if it differs from the ethics of the profession, cannot take precedence over that of the profession as a whole.”

(Reading: “Thou Shalt Dispense Death/An Over-the-counter Abortifacient for Teens with $30,” The Report, 4/24/00; “>College of Pharmacists of British Columbia Ethics in Practice bulletin, 3/4/00)

prenatal testing

FIRST TRIMESTER: Trials involving first-trimester serum screening with measurements of certain pregnancy-related proteins are currently under review by researchers seeking the most effective way to detect Down syndrome. A combination of first-trimester ultrasonography and serum screening is also being compared to the second-trimester testing currently most popular in the United States. Researchers urge more studies before emphasis is shifted from the second-trimester tests to first-trimester screening.

(Reading: “First-trimester Screening for Aneuploidy: Research or Standard of Care?” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3/00, pp. 490-496, subscription only; extracts on line)


QUINACRINE: The renewal of efforts to press the Food and Drug Administration into approving clinical trials for these pellets (when inserted in the vagina, they burn the fallopian tubes thereby sterilizing the woman) means that vigilance is required. The proponents have a Quinacrine web site. Those of us who oppose such efforts can find documentation at the Population Research Institute site.


CHILDHOOD VACCINES: For those concerned about the various vaccines that contain cell-lines acquired from intentionally-aborted babies, Steven Kellmeyer recently wrote, “The abortionists who vivisected these children had to work closely with the scientists who scavenged their tissues in order to establish the immortal cell line. Pharmaceutical company vaccine researchers used the morally illicit cell lines knowing full well that they were established by vivisecting children. When we use these vaccines, the pharmaceutical industry, and the scientific researchers interested in grant money see that vivisecting children creates profits. As a result, both groups insist that abortion is necessary to their work, and the selling of dead baby parts has become big business.”

(Reading: Steve Kellmeyer letter to National Catholic Register, unpublished as of 4/24/00. For an analytical article by Kellmeyer on this topic, see “Medical Cannibals: The Moral Implications of Fetal Tissue Vaccines“)

RESEARCH SOURCE: For those who make an effort to remain updated on vaccine safety, J. Bart Classen is an immunologist whose work in this area is well known. Classen Immunotherapies recently issued a statement relating to the Food and Drug Administration and approval of a controversial new pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine with questionable safety record. This is among the concerns raised on this excellent Vaccine Safety web site.

web news

MARRIAGE AND FAMILIES: Pro-family magazine Marriage and Families, edited by Glen Griffin, M.D., is currently online.

reflection for prayer

In His humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and He is glad that He became so humble for our sake, glad that He came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to Himself. And even though we are told that He has now ascended above the highest heavens – the proof, surely, of His power and godhead – His love for man will never rest until He has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with His own in heaven.

So let us spread before His feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed complete in Him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him.

Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!

-Andrew of Crete 660-740 AD