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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Yesterday, Pam Belluck of the New York Times wrote an article entitled Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May Be Unfounded. Reading the article from the perspective of the scientific layman, one could interpret the article as indicating that the original objections to morning after pills are being attenuated by advances in scientific understanding of their mechanisms and effects, and that remaining opposition is merely religious or philosophical objection being stubbornly clung to by the less enlightened in the biomedical community. Ultimately Belluck’s piece can only be charitably characterized as confused.

Reading the article, I noted that Dr. Donna Harrison, Director of Research for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), was made to look like a weak, shallow hack. I know Dr. Harrison, quite well. Five minutes with Dr. Harrison is all one needs to realize that she possesses a brilliant mind with an encyclopedic grasp of ALL of the research in the field, pro and con. Belluck’s quotes from Dr. Harrison indicate that she chose not to report the scientific truth that I know Dr. Harrison communicated to her in a lengthy telephone conversation.

It’s a shame, because once again women are being denied the whole truth in the New York Times, a truth which is indispensable to making decisions founded on the facts.

Dr. Harrison wrote a reply in today’s National Review Online. Some of it is reprinted here. Follow the link at the end to read the rest at NRO. If people have questions regarding the mechanisms by which these drugs act, post your questions and we’ll get them answered.

Here’s Dr. Harrison:

The Times’s Convolution of Facts on Abortifacients
By Donna Harrison
June 6, 2012 12:30 P.M.

The recent New York Times article by Pam Belluck, asserting that so-called abortifacient drugs may not be abortive at all, is a wonderful example of convolution of facts to obscure reality. First of all, lumping together two very different drugs and calling them “morning-after pills” allows for clever confusion of what is known about the mechanism of action of each drug, and the role of progesterone in helping the embryo to implant and sustain the pregnancy.

First of all, Plan B and Ella are very different drugs with very different mechanisms of action. Plan B is a progestin, a type of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that must be in a woman’s body for her to be able to allow the embryo to implant and develop the placental connections between the embryo and the mother. But Plan B is a very large dose of progesterone, higher than the woman’s body would normally make. It is the effect of that high dose which is under debate.

Ella is a second-generation derivative of the abortion drug RU-486, and is equipotent with RU-486 in blocking the action of progesterone at the level of the ovary and endometrium, one of the facts I explain in my paper on this topic. Indeed, if taken before a woman ovulates, Ella will interfere with progesterone action and prevent the egg from being released. But the critically important question is what happens when you take Ella after ovulation. And the answer is clear. Ella blocks the action of progesterone at the level of the ovary, and blocks the action of progesterone at the endometrium, both of which interfere with implantation. Ms. Belluck is in factual error in her article. The European Medical Association technical review articles state that Ella is embryocidal. That means that Ella kills embryos. I attended the FDA Advisory Committee Hearing on approval of Ella, at which data were presented which demonstrated that Ella is around 95 percent effective in preventing a clinically recognized pregnancy. One of the Advisory Committee members repeatedly pointed out to the manufacturers that there was no way the effectiveness of Ella could be explained by delaying ovulation alone. This fact does not take an FDA Advisory Committee member to figure out. If Ella works even when a woman takes it after ovulation, then of course it doesn’t work in that woman by preventing ovulation.

The same Advisory Committee member stated that the manufacturer had an even bigger problem. If you consider the pregnancies which are mentioned in the NYT article, what Ms. Belluck failed to mention is that 90 percent of those pregnancies “miscarried” and the other 10 percent were “lost to follow-up”. So what the studies supporting the FDA approval of Ella actually show is that even the dose of Ella used as “emergency contraception” is high enough to interfere with the early development of the embryo in such a fashion as to increase the miscarriage rate if a pregnancy is recognized.

And here, abortion proponents speak out of both sides of their mouth. The quote from Trussell in the NYT article was particularly amusing. If you read his previous research papers, sometimes he claims over 90 percent efficacy from Plan B, and sometimes he claims around 50 percent efficacy. Why these differences? Well, as he so readily admits, you can’t get numbers of 90 percent efficacy without some sort of post-fertilization effect. So when the issue of mechanism of action is raised, suddenly the efficacy for Plan B gets “adjusted” to what would be expected from a drug with no post-fertilization effect. But, when issues of funding arise . . . well Plan B becomes much more effective.

In point of fact, any drug which can act to prevent pregnancy after a woman has ovulated must have some post-fertilization effect. Whether it kills the embryo directly, or prevents the embryo from travelling down the tube, or prevents the embryo from implanting, or interferes with ovarian function, or increases immune rejection of the embryo, or directly destroys the placenta, some mechanism must be in place to interfere with the normal embryo functioning and then kill the living embryo.

Get the rest here.

Tomorrow, a deeper analysis of the subject.

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This photoshopped picture, swiped from a hate-filled site, is actually quite the catechetical tool in light of the recent dust-up on the Pope’s comments about condoms.

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan said something rarely uttered in public during an interview published on November 22 in the New York Times. From the article, which can be read here:

“The Pope didn’t say, ‘Oh good, you should use a condom,’ ” Archbishop Dolan said, referring to a controversial comment the pope made in a book that is being released worldwide on Tuesday.

In the book, the pope said that a male prostitute who used a condom to prevent the spread of AIDS might be taking a first step toward moral responsibility. Some Catholic analysts claimed that the pope was floating a possible exception in the church’s ban on birth control. But Archbishop Dolan said the church could not simply change its doctrine.

“You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

Those last two words hang in the air, pregnant in their implication.

“We Can’t”.

In truth, bishops are bound, not free, as Paul alluded to in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4:1-6.

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

A prisoner for the Lord. ONE Lord. ONE Faith. ONE Baptism.

The moral law comes from God, not man. That is why the Pope speaks infallibly in matters of Faith and Morals, because as the Apostle Paul tells us, there is but ONE Faith. The Pope speaks infallibly when he speaks as the voice of the Apostolic Successors (the Bishops) on a topic dealing with faith and morals. Their job is to hand on the faith that was revealed to them. Consider some of the admonitions of the Apostle Paul to one of the first of the Apostolic Successors, the young Bishop Timothy:

2 Timothy 1:13-14

” 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

1 Timothy 1:3-4

” 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.”

1 Timothy 4:11-16

“11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

1 Timothy 6:20-21

” 20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”

2 Timothy 1:6-7

“6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5

” 1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

They are bound, not free.

“We Can’t.” are two of the most truthful, humble, and powerful words ever spoken by a Bishop. Prisoners for the Lord.

So long as they remain bound, we are authentically free.

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John Cardinal O'Connor

Read Part I here.
Part III here.
, Part IV here..

During the late 1980’s a narrative developed about the Catholic hierarchy, condoms, and HIV; A bunch of old celibate men, through their irrational opposition to any form of birth control, refused to teach the lifesaving truth that condoms prevent the transmission of HIV.

The problem is that the narrative is a lie, start to finish.

To begin, the opposition to the use of birth control is anything but irrational. In 1968 Pope Paul VI clearly articulated the Church’s 2,000 year consistent witness to this in Humanae Vitae, a brief but concise document. In paragraph 17, Pope Paul VI proves prescient:

“17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.”

Certainly Cardinal O’Connor and the Bishops knew all too well the rise in promiscuity following widespread access to the pill in 1968. They knew the CDC data linked here which show the steady rise in STD rates. (Click on “all slides”). Fast-forwarding to today for a moment, Research out of Harvard agrees with the Church that Condoms can make HIV worse in Africa, among other places.

In the mid-80’s, the New York Times, the self-styled ‘paper of record’ carried several articles which cast a long shadow over the absolutist claims of condom safety by AIDS activists.

On August 24, 1987 the Times reported “20% of Condom Batches Fail”.

On May 12, 1988 the Times reported that 33 million condoms had been recalled in 1987 with a failure rate of 4/1000. The paper failed to reconcile those numbers with the 20% failure rate reported in August of the previous year. The paper did report that the 4/1000 was an improvement over the 4.8/1000 rate in 1986. These rates for domestic condoms were better than the 6.5/1000 in 1987 and 7.3/1000 in 1986 for imported condoms.

On August 18, 1987 the Times ran a major article entitled “Condoms: Experts Fear False Sense Of Security”. From the Article:

“MANY health officials have begun to voice concern that the campaign to encourage condom use to curb the spread of AIDS may be misunderstood, creating a false sense of security in people whose behavior continues to put them in danger.

“Experts say condoms should minimize the spread of the AIDS virus among the heterosexual population, especially when used with spermicides containing nonoxynol-9, which has been found to kill the virus in test tubes. The experts say this justifies recent campaigns promoting the devices.

“But they stress that it is unknown just how much protection condoms offer. The officials note that condoms have been widely rejected as a method of birth control because they frequently fail, and say the devices may be no better – in fact, may be worse – at curtailing AIDS. They warn that sexually active men and women should not assume that they are protected simply because they use prophylactics.”

The article is filled with notable quotes from experts, all expressing doubts.

It was an interesting time. Because the spermicide nonoxynol-9 was found to have killed HIV at high concentrations in test tubes, it was added as a lubricant and fail-safe against condom tearing or slipping. In recent years we have learned two devastating truths.

1. Nonoxynol-9 in the low concentration on condoms is ineffective against HIV.

2. Nonoxynol-9 in the low concentration on condoms causes ulcerations in the vaginas of women who use them frequently, such as sex workers. This means that N-9 does not kill the virus when condoms tear, and facilitates infection by compromising the vaginal and rectal epithelia.

Finally, a week after the desecration of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral by ACT-UP (reported in Part I), the Times reported that The National Women’s Health Network requested the FDA to remove approval for two new condoms:

“A public-interest health group said today that it had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw marketing clearance for two new types of condoms because neither had been tested for effectiveness in preventing pregnancy or protecting against disease.

“The National Women’s Health Network, a nonprofit group based in Washington, charged that the Federal agency had erred in approving the devices under a legal provision that waives testing requirements if a new device is substantially like one already approved.”

It was an interesting time. Anti-retroviral medications were being hastened to market. New condoms were being hastened to market all in a desperate attempt to throw the entire arsenal at this virus. But desperate measures can have unintended consequences.

In time, what will be most remembered is the stubborn insistence of so many to having sex outside of a life’s commitment to mutual monogamy with ONE individual in the face of a disease that is so devastating.

Where were the AIDS activists when these reports were being published by the Times? They were busy crafting calumnies against men who read the Times and knew better, celibacy notwithstanding. These lies have become part of the HIV/AIDS lore. How many have gone to their deaths because of their false assurances and convenient scapegoating? Such activism in the name Public Health has been devastating.

It was an interesting time.

Next Wednesday, we’ll take a deeper look at the scientific data about condoms and consider them against the backdrop of STI/STD rates.

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