A review of 23 studies on the different types of “emergency contraceptives,” published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds no evidence that use of the pill lowers pregnancy or abortion rates.
Another report, published Jan. 8, confirmed the failure of the morning-after pill to reduce abortion. A Spanish Web site, Forum Libertas, analyzed what had happened in the country since the pill’s introduction. In 2000, the year before the pill was introduced, there were 60,000 abortions, a rate of 7.5 abortions for every 1,000 women under 20.
By 2005, fewer than 506,000 morning-after pills were distributed. At the same time, however, the number of abortions that year had risen to 91,000, and the rate of abortion for women under 20 rose to 11.5 abortions for every 1,000 women.
Similar findings were reported in Britain last year. The Sept. 15 issue of the British Medical Journal published an editorial authored by Anna Glasier, director of a National Health Service unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Glasier wrote: “Emergency contraception has been heralded as the solution to rising abortion rates.” “Some authors have suggested that almost a million abortions could be prevented in the United States annually if every woman used emergency contraception every time she needed it.”
“Yet, despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the United Kingdom,” the article continued. In fact, wrote Glasier, they have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions) to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2004 (185,400 abortions). She added that increased use of emergency contraception in Sweden has not been associated with a reduction in abortion rates.
Concerns had already been raised over the use of the morning-after pill in Scotland. In a report published in November 2005 by the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Dr. Anne Williams observed that the morning-after pill “is wrongly and misleadingly labeled ’emergency contraception’ by medical and government bodies.”
“It is misleading because it conceals the fact that it may work, not by preventing conception, but by preventing further survival and development of an already existing embryo,” the report explained.
The term contraception is insufficient to describe the full effect of the morning-after pill, wrote Williams. In fact, the pill may act to prevent implantation (attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus), which occurs approximately seven days after conception has taken place. Contraceptives prevent conception, not implantation. “Acts which are post-conceptive cannot reasonably be included in the definition of contraception,” she stated.
The report cited evidence from seven family planning clinics, showing that more than half the women had used the morning-after pill at least once that year, and 25% had used it three or more times. Tracking health problems due to frequent use of the morning-after pill will also be problematic due to the nature of programs implemented by some governments, which include free distribution without a need for medical prescriptions.
Williams also argued that diminishing the fear of pregnancy through recourse to the morning-after pill may bring about a casual approach to entering a sexual relationship, with little excuse for a young woman to refuse. Greater sexual activity could well contribute to higher levels of sexually transmitted diseases.
Concern over the health effects of the pills were also raised by Susan Wills, associate director for education at the pro-life office of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Plan B, one brand of the morning-after pill, and other methods of “emergency contraception” are the equivalent of taking from four to 40 times the daily dose of various oral contraceptive pills in a 12-hour period, she noted in an article published Aug. 15 on the Web site National Review Online.
From a homily on today’s Gospel (Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21)
St. Luke indicates, first, the importance of the Church and of Tradition. As he explains, many before him had already “undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us” (Lk 1:1-2). Before St. Luke ever put pen to paper, so to speak, there already existed the Church and the oral tradition – literally, the “handing down” – of the faith. He did not invent a story or teach something new. Rather, as a faithful Christian he handed on the truth he received from the Church. From the start, then, St. Luke conveys the simple fact that the Church existed before the Gospels, and in fact wrote the Gospels.
It follows, then, that to read Scripture outside of the Church’s Tradition is to read it out of context – or, more accurately, without a teacher. And if most of us need help to understand human authors such as Dante or Shakespeare – and we do – then how much more do we need a teacher to explain Scripture? That teacher is the Church, and her method of instruction is Tradition. When we fail to seek her direction, we inevitably come up with fanciful and absurd interpretations. When, on the other hand, we allow Mother Church to guide us through Scripture, illuminating its pages by way of her teachings, the liturgy and the Church Fathers, then we better perceive what the Divine Author intends.
Chase Utley exchanged marriage vows with his fiancée on Saturday afternoon in San Francisco.
A day later, the All-Star second baseman made a similar long-term commitment to the Phillies, agreeing to a seven-year, $85 million contract that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2013 season. Though Utley will make less annually up front and more toward the end, this deal averages a little more than $12 million a season.
Not a bad weekend for Chase.
This is great news. Given the nutty nature of contracts this offseason, he could have gotten a lot more. As was pointed out on a Phillies email list, we’ll likely be paying for some not so great years at the end of this contract, given he’ll be in his mid-thirties and second basemen tend not to age well, but we’re in “win-now”, so I love it.
Today’s Second Reading is 1 Corinthians 12: 12-30 (in the long form, anyway). While reading it this morning, I was struck how it can be read as a direct reply to those who argue since women can’t be priests, or others who are grievances over their role in the Church, they’re aren’t Fully Catholic.” In verses 14-19, Paul writes:
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
Essentially, we each have a role in the Body of Christ and we fail that Body when we try to be something we’re not. If we’re not called to be a priest, for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean that we’re not good Catholics or that we’re not fully Catholic, it merely means that we have some other role to play. And we harm the Body of Christ (that is, the Church) when we attempt to be something we’re not meant to be.
It comes down to the concept of vocation: God has a vocation in mind for each of us. Some are called to the priesthood, some to religious life, some to married life, some to a chaste single life. Based of thousands of years of Church teaching (and more before that in our Jewish roots), we know some lifestyle choices are not valid vocational options. We know that an unchaste single life is not an option, a true and valid marriage is not to be abandoned, consistent Church practice (with a few limited exceptions) is that priests should be celibate. One of the things that struck me while reading the Old Testament is that God is quite explicit about only men are to be priests. I don’t pretend to understand His reasons on this, merely that it’s the uninterrupted teaching for many of thousands of years across the Old Covenant and in the New.
It in no way diminishes the dignity of women since as Paul states above, we each have our own role to play in the Body of Christ. As Paul states just before the verses we read today in Mass:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.
Different doesn’t mean inferior, it merely means “not the same.” The different gifts give us each a different role to play, but each gift comes from the same source: God, through the workings of the Holy Spirit. We will benefit the Body of Christ the most, and ourselves too since God works His plan for us to our own happiness, if we use the gifts God has given us to fulfil the role He has chosen for us. Rather than complaining about what we can’t be, we need to focus on being what we can and being the very best we can at it. There lies the path to fulfilling God’s will, building up the Body of Christ and our happiness in Christ.
Crossposted at Friends of Catholic Exchange.
“It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.”
– Isabel Colegate