Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bad Reporting from Our Side [Serge]

It frustrates me greatly when pro-abortion choicers misrepresent scientific data in order to support their ideology. It frustrates me even more when those on our side do the same thing. Here is a report from Catholic News Agency that claims this about Plan B emergency contraception:

The most recent scientific study on Levonorgestrel, the essential component of the “morning-after pill” or “emergency contraceptive,” confirms that the drug does indeed have a third effect on users, which consists in preventing the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the womb of the mother.
Here is another post from prolifeblogs that mirrors this thought:

A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that levonorgestrel, the drug contained in Plan B emergency contraception, does inhibit implantation after all, at least some of the time. (Preventing implantation interrupts an existing pregnancy and is an abortive mechanism.)
Interesting stuff, until you realize that both claims are completely untrue. Here is the abstract of the study in question. The investigators used computer models to determine the effectiveness of LNG as contraception if it acted via a pre-fertilization mechanism and compared it to the effectiveness if it also had a post-fertilization mechanism. The results were this:

With disruption of ovulation alone, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 49% (no delay) to 8% (72-hour delay). With complete inhibition of fertilization before the day of ovulation, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 90% (no delay) to 16% (72-hour delay).
This is not surprising at all, although it may very well be helpful if real experimental data ever come out that confirms the actual effectiveness of LNG. In fact, this post of mine essentially predicts these numbers. In the meantime, the authors do note that the projected effectiveness of LNG if it acts via a pre-fertilization mechanism is lower than the effectiveness rates reported in the literature. However, it is precisely those rates that have been previously reported that are under question not only by me, but by a number of pro-EC researchers. This study does nothing to shed light on the true effectiveness of LNG EC, and thus cannot confirm its actual mechanism at all. The authors understand this when they conclude:

The gap between effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC estimated from clinical studies and what can be attributed to disruption of ovulation may be explained by overestimation of actual effectiveness and supplementary mechanisms of action, including postfertilization effects.
Reporting that this paper confirms a post-fertilization mechanism for Plan B is completely irresponsible. Reporting the results of scientific papers using your ideology to cloud what they actually say is simply wrong.


  1. From the Clinical Pharmacology of Plan B (http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic/levonorgestrel_cp.htm)

    "Plan BTM is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium)."

    Mr. Klusendorf, prevention of implantation refers to the prevention of implantation into the uterine wall of the human person once concieved, that is the human embryo.

    Plan B can act as an abortifacient to prevent the implantation of the human embryo, which effectively results in the death of the newly concieved person.

  2. Anonymous,

    This is Serge, and the posts on Plan B are usually ones that I wrote, including this one.

    I have addressed the issue of information that the FDA issues right here (http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2006/09/plan-b-is-fda-using-outdated-inaccurate.html)

    I acknowledge the implications of a post-fertilization mechanism of Plan B, but I await any direct evidence that it actually occurs.

  3. Please see www.polycarp.org for research indicating the post-fertilization effects of the morning after pill. It is a fact.

    Once again, implanation refers to the implantation of the human embryo into the uterine lining. Plan B can prevent implantation of the human person and thus is an abortifacient.

  4. Having examined the abstract and understanding that the research was based entirely on simulation models I'm not sure how anyone could come to the conclusion that the research supports the hypothesis that OC prevent implantation. This hypothesis was not part of the study design, was not tested and is not a stated conclusion. Was the claim based upon an inference from the Abstract's statement regarding postfertilization effects?

  5. Anon,

    I have already responded to the Larimore article here and here. Note that it was published in 2002, and there is significantly more data. I have over 20 peer reviewed articles I have pulled regarding this topic. You are going to do more than stating "it is a fact" to refute them.

  6. Since the Life Training Institute does not acknowledge the truth that the morning after pill, Plan B, can act as an abortifacient, do you deny, as well, that there is an abortifacient mechanism of "the Patch", Deprovera, and oral contraceptives?

  7. Anon,

    As stated before, my opinion is not the official position of LTI, but I believe it is safe to state that LTI is fully committed to the truth, regardless of where that effects us ideologically. Knowing Scott as I do, I believe he would support that.

    As far as my personal beliefs about oral contraception, I concur with this statement of the Christian Medical Society, of which I am a proud member:

    CMDA recognizes that there are differing viewpoints among Christians regarding the broad issue of birth control and the use of contraceptives. The issue at hand, however, is whether or not hormonal birth control methods have post-conceptional effects (i.e., cause abortion). CMDA has consulted many experts in the field of reproduction who have reviewed the scientific literature. While there are data that cause concern, our current scientific knowledge does not establish a definitive causal link between the routine use of hormonal birth control and abortion. However, neither are there data to deny a post-conceptional effect.

    The truth is - we do not know.

    Lastly, your comment that I refuse to "acknowledge the truth" regarding the abortifacient nature of Plan B reminds me of someone very close to me. My son tends to repeat himself when confronted with information he is unhappy with. When I tell him that it is not his birthday today, and thus he is not entitled to presents - he will simply state "it is my birthday". It's something we are working on, but after all, he is only three.

    I have provided you with evidence supporting my point of view, and that evidence cannot be refuted by repeating your conclusion.

  8. First of all, the packaging on these contraceptive methods states that they may prevent implantation (of the human embryo).

    Second of all, contraception is not a matter of personal point of view. Truth is independent of opinion. Contraception is contrary to natural law, so it's immoral use applies to all persons.

    Contraceptive use has led to the abortive culture we are now living in. "Every contraceptive society down through history became an abortive society------and abortion led to the destruction of that society" (John Hardon, S.J.)

    When we accept behaviours contrary to natural law, our intellects become blinded and our wills are weakened and we are no longer able to see truth, even when it is presented to us.

  9. Anon,

    I allowed you to significantly change the subject once, but the ethical implications of OCs or PLan B is a different question than whether or not they act as abortifacients. I'll let you have the last word on this one.



  10. Anon,

    The packaging claims of any product should not be taken as evidence of the actual effectiveness of that product. It is sort of a cover all for any possible side effects that may occur. When we do our OSHA training here at the center we have to read the Material Safety Data Sheets on each and every item in the center that contains chemicals. Hand soap, Clorox Wipes, Lysol, and on and on. When you read what is in these products, the chemical reactivity, and the possible side effects of improper exposure as relayed on these sheets you might conclude that these materials are EXTREMELY hazardous. However, we all know that these sheets are meant to give the manufacturer a cover all. If something unexpected but within the realm of possibility did happen, then they can say that they had warned users of the possibility.

    I do not like EC for many reasons and have heard doctors like Serge express concerns over the wide spread propaganda and distribution of a questionable product. I honestly think that the truth on this issue, EC may have no effect at all, is much more damaging to all of the EC proponents than warning too strongly that EC kills the unborn when no evidence has been shown yet to demonstrate that this is so. I assure you, that if Serge believed that was the case, he would be as loud as anyone in voicing his opposition.

    The question of the ethics of contraception is entirely separate from whether or not EC kills the unborn. To the best of my knowledge, Serge made no claims on this front other than to affirm that his main concern is “whether or not hormonal birth control methods have post-conceptional effects (i.e., cause abortion)” That statement recognizes differing ethical positions, but targets the most important issue and gives and honest response. We do not know.

    If we do not know, we ought not to accuse as if we did. That seems to be Serge’s position and a reasonable expectation.

    God Bless,

  11. How do you respond to this statement below taken from the FDA website? Specifically, please address "Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation)".

    3. How does Plan B work?

    Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work.

  12. I had thought that I had heard SK say that if we are driving down the road and see what looks like an overcoat in the middle of the road, we probably wouldn't drive over it without knowing for sure that there wasn't a person in the overcoat. If we aren't sure if some of these hormonal contraceptives are abortifacient, should we not err on the side of they might be?

    As a Catholic, I believe that all contraception is intrinsically evil and therefore fruit of the same evil tree that has borne abortion-on-demand in this contracepting culture. So, I don't ordinarily have to worry about whether it (EC) does or doesn't prevent implantation.

    Of course, I know that the ethics of contraception was not what was being debated here in these comments. And, I agree that to be intellectually honest, we should never claim something without solid scientific evidence for our claims.

    I appreciate you, Serge, (and others on this blog) for always reminding us of that and providing this information to us in a timely manner. Thanks.

  13. You choose to ignore the scientific facts that emergency "contraception", that is the morning after pill, as well other oral contraceptives can kill the human person. The prescribing information, packaging information indidate they may prevent implantation of the human person, this is very clear.

    Those who deny the scientific facts that these chemicals can kill innocent persons do great harm to the pro life principle that personhood should be granted to every person from conception onward. In the words of Dr. Charles Rice, "When the prolife movement declares its neutrality on contraception, it guarantees its ability to prevent the institutionalization of early abortions on a massive scale by pills, implants and other means."

    Finally, regarding Dr. Lyn who states he/ she is a Catholic. Contraconception is not a matter specific to Catholics, it is a matter of natural law. THe Catholic Church, however, as she was founded by God Himself, upholds the natural law and thus speaks the fullness of the truth on the natural law. In short,it is morally wrong for any person, no matter what faith you are to use contraception or be sterilized.
    Contraception has led to the abortive culture that we now live in.

  14. Anon,

    This will be my last comment on this thread because you are not responding to specific questions and merely reiterating a point that has been already addressed. But for clarity, I will address it one more time as clearly as possible.

    Serge’s points are:
    1 – Plan B has not been PROVEN IN CLINICAL TRIALS to live up to the claims that are attributed to it by those who profit from it and those who oppose it.
    2 – To assert that Plan B kills the unborn without actual evidence that supports that claim is irresponsible.

    Point 1 is supported by the numerous posts and peer reviewed medical publications he has sited. Point 2 appears self-evident.

    My points were:
    1 – The claims of effectiveness by those who sell products are not to be taken as scientifically accurate claims.
    2 – The warnings of possible side effects of a product are not to be taken as evidence of the actual scientifically proven effects of a product.

    Point 1 ought to be obvious to any consumer that has ever purchased any product that did not do what it advertised it would do. Point 2 I addressed specifically in my previous comment.

    Please feel free to address either one of the 4 points above and leave the unsupported claims of “fact” out of your next comment. Here is an easy way to do so.

    1 – Based on what sited clinical trials that contradict the peer-reviewed articles sited by Serge can you prove that Plan B kills the unborn?
    2 – Why should pro-lifers claim that Plan B certainly kills the unborn when we can not prove that is true?
    3 – Do you believe that product manufacturer claims are scientific?
    4 – Do you believe that warnings of possible negative side effects represent medical evidence?

    Thank you,


All comments are moderated. We reject all comments containing obscenity. We reserve the right to reject any and all comments that are considered inappropriate or off-topic without explanation.