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June 7, 2008

The Pill Kills?

We recently mentioned the American Life League's "Pill Kills" campaign, and today is the day they have designated as Protest the Pill Day '08: The Pill Kills Babies. June 7th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court ruled, in Griswold v. Connecticut, that a state law banning the sale of contraceptives was unconstitutional because it violated a right to privacy. This right to privacy was later cited in a little case you might have heard of, Roe v. Wade.

We couldn't resist the opportunity to "participate" in this protest, so we put together a little something based on the website for the campaign.

How to Come to the Totally False Conclusion That "The Pill Kills" in Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Create your own "facts" and state them with authority. Redefine terms to your own liking if necessary.

To make this campaign work, it is necessary to define a fertilized egg as a baby and to state that a woman is pregnant the instant sperm meets egg. Once that's done, the next step can be taken in blaming the pill for sometimes preventing implantation of fertilized eggs by affecting the lining of the uterus, and you've got an instant baby killing conspiracy to protest.

During any discussion of the birth control pill, it is important to keep in mind that scientists have confirmed that at the moment the sperm and the egg join (fertilization), a new human being is created who is completely different from his/her mother.
Q: How do you know when life begins?
A: It is a proven, scientific fact that when the human egg and human sperm unite, fertilization occurs and a new human being is created.
No specific source is cited for the claim that they have scientific proof of when life begins, perhaps because they don't since it isn't possible to have it, and considering that the question of when life begins has been discussed, debated, defined and redefined by many different groups of people for centuries.

(For more on the "debate" about whether pregnancy begins with fertilization or implantation, check out this report from the Guttmacher Institute that gives some background on how pregnancy is defined by medical experts as well as the federal and state governments.)
It also changes the lining of the uterus. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the five- to seven-day-old baby to attach to the lining, where he/she would receive the nourishment needed to grow.
A fertilized egg is not a "five day old baby". A five day old baby is a baby that was born five days ago.


This is a fertilized egg.

This is a fertilized egg after five days of development. (This picture and the one above were taken from a website about in vitro fertilization, so what they show is obviously taking place outside the uterus, but we thought that was fair enough since the American Life League is also referring to fertilized eggs that have not yet implanted in the uterus.)

Thinkstock Single Image Set

This is a baby that is less than a week old. Anybody have any trouble seeing the difference? No? Good.

Step 2: Choose your sources carefully and cite them liberally.

When you're trying to pass off nonsense and lies as something legitimate, it's often helpful to have lots of footnotes with cited sources. People like the Pill Kills crew will count on the fact that many readers will simply notice that there are footnotes and not read them at all, or will just glance at them, but will still come away with the impression that what they just read had to have at least some truth to it because hey, they've got lots of sources, right? The truth is that appearing in a footnote does not automatically make something a legitimate or objective or reliable source, and that information from 'good' sources can be twisted and manipulated to 'support' arguments that they really don't support.

Here are a few examples of sources cited on the Pill Kills site:

Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, Vatican: The Holy See, July 25, 1968, (accessed April 13, 2008). [So basically this footnote might as well say "Because GOD told us it was true, so there".]

Alcorn, Randy. "Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?" Eternal Perspective Ministries. [Would these be ministries of science? Ministries of gynecology? Or is this a repeat of "God said so"?]

"QuiverFull Pill Fact Sheet" [This really needs no explanation, but if you're not familiar with the Quiverfull movement, this is a good place to start.]

Lisa Stiffler, "Birth control may be harming state's salmon: Synthetic estrogen in water seems to affect reproduction," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 2003, (accessed April 13, 2008). [This is one of the sources used to support the list of "environmental side effects" of the pill, most of which are focused on fish. Maybe for next year's campaign they can do The Pill Kills Fish. They could protest in costume!]

Step 3: Just try to scare the hell out of people so they won't think too hard about whether you really proved your case.

We now know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that not only did the Supreme Court literally make up the right that you claim gives you permission to use birth control, but the most popular form of birth control, the pill, can kill innocent preborn children. If there is a chance that human beings are going to be murdered, I am going to do everything in my power to help prevent that from happening. If you knew there was a chance that someone might poison your neighbor, don't you think you would try to notify your neighbor and do as much as you could to help save a life?

Q: Is the pill dangerous to my health?
A: Absolutely! There are links between the birth control pill and breast cancer, cervical cancer, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), infertility, birth defects, blood clots, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, shrinking of the womb, stroke, weight gain and much more. 3,4,6 [This one has three footnotes so it must be 100% true!]

Join young people across the country on Protest the Pill Day '08: The Pill Kills Babies on June 7 and witness outside of clinics that distribute this killing poison.

During this period, a total of 196,325,000 to 324,325,000 chemical abortions wiped out the equivalent of the entire United States population!
Then, of course, there's the page simply entitled Side Effects of the Pill, which includes: cerebral hemorrhage, hair loss, acne, cataracts, migraines, hypertension (high blood pressure), myocardial infarction (heart attack), mental depression, rash, weight loss or gain, colitis, bone loss, cancer (breast, uterine and vaginal), impaired kidney function or kidney failure, making the Pope mad by acting "in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will", infidelity, men objectifying women, opening the door for "temptation to youth", and "nervousness" (probably due to worrying about which potentially fatal side effect is going to claim your life first!), among other things. Nowhere in the list are there any qualifiers as to how common or rare any of these side effects are.

Wow, with all of this going on, it's a wonder than any babies ever get born at all, and that there are even any women left alive to get pregnant in the first place!

For more great info and commentary on how not great and not accurate this campaign is, check out these links:

Our lovely Chiquita has written her own thoughts on this, including some great ways to protest the protest. (The best way, today and everyday, is to offer support to Planned Parenthood and the women depend on them for affordable health care.)

RH Reality Check has a 'fact v. fiction' piece about the claim that contraceptives are abortifacients.

Feministing has a guest post from Dr. Dana Stone, an OB/GYN, about how "medically inaccurate" this campaign's claims are.

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