Friday, June 5, 2009

Tomorrow is The Pill Kills Day

No, that is not a joke. The American Life League is sponsoring "The Pill Kills" on June 6th. Last year's theme was "how the pill kills babies." This year they are changing their theme, probably because the pill does not in fact kill babies. The pill actually is designed so that if taken properly, you will generally NOT get pregnant. Women take birth control pills to PREVENT pregnancy not to end a pregnancy. Some birth control 101 for you in case you, like The American Life League, were unaware of that fact.

This year's theme is "the pill kills women." According the American Life League:

"Studies show that most women who have died from the use of the pill or other birth control products have died from blood clots, heart attacks, and pulmonary embolisms. As you can see on our side effects link, the pill also causes many other serious problems such as cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, depression and much more."

I think we all know that all prescription drugs have potential side effects, and in some cases can increase the likelihood of more serious illnesses. I'm not going to deny that there are potential side effects to using birth control pills. Trust me I read all about them on the enormous 12 inch by 10 inch insert that came with my first pack in size -2 font. I read the whole thing front and back word for word. I also try to keep up with issues relating to reproductive rights including birth control, so I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable on it (as one should be with any drug they are taking).

The American Life League fails to point out not only that these complications are rare, but also that the risks are much higher for women who smoke and/or are over 35. In fact, it turns out the the risk of death from ANY birth control method is less than the risk of death from childbirth. Number of deaths for 25-29 year old nonsterile women related to oral contraceptives: 1 in 100,000. Number of deaths for 25-29 year old nonsterile women related to giving birth: 9 in 100,000. (according to the insert that I referred to earlier).

Maybe American Life League should have "Childbirth Kills Day." Seriously, people like this piss me off because they are telling women lies like "birth control isn't safe" and some people buy into it instead of checking with their doctor to see if it is a good option for them. Their "talking points" advocate "Natural Family Planning" as a reliable means of birth control. If you think remembering to take a pill every day is hard, try remembering to not have sex on days 8-19 of your cycle...

Also, I would like to point out that there are actually health BENEFITS related to birth control. Women on the pill are less likely to become anemic (I was anemic in college and haven't had any problems with it since then), it REDUCES the risk of ovarian cancer, and REDUCES the risk of ectopic pregnancy. It also helps regulate your periods and in some cases reduces the pain (cramps) associated with it.

Maybe we should have "The Pill Prevents Unwanted Pregnancy Day" or hey, how about "The Pill Prevents Abortion Day." Because you know, a pretty good way to reduce abortions is to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Gosh, I wonder how we could do that?! I'm not saying that birth control pills are great for everyone or that it is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy, but it is right for a lot of people as it is a very poplular method of birth control and also very reliable if used correctly.

Groups like the American Life League are using scare tactics to prevent women from taking control of their reproductive lives. Last year they tried to tell women that using the pill is equivalent to abortion, and this year they are telling women basically that their doctors are lying to them and birth control is not safe at all. It honestly makes me angry because it's going to prevent some women from seeking out factual information and sitting down with their doctors to go over the risks and benefits. And some women are going to get pregnant when they don't want to be. Some women will embrace their pregnancies. And unfortunately, some women will enter into or fall deeper into a cycle of poverty that is hard to get out of. Some women won't be able to work while pregnant. Some women will drop out of college. Some women will also choose to get abortions. Because some nutjobs told them that "The Pill Kills."

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