25 May 2006

"Rhythm method" kills embryos

If you're anything like me, your first reaction to this headline was, "What...the...?!"

The range of birth control choices may have become narrower for couples that believe the sanctity of life begins when sperm meets egg. The rhythm method, a philosopher claims, may compromise millions of embryos.

“Even a policy of practising condom usage and having an abortion in case of failure would cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method,” writes Luc Bovens, of the London School of Economics, in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

I must admit I'm a bit baffled as to what qualifies an economist to speak as an expert on appropriate birth control methods from either a biological or an ethical perspective. Naturally, we all have our layman's opinions, but mine, at least, don't generally get published in peer-reviewed journals.
As many as 50% of conceptions may not survive long enough even to disrupt menstruation, Bovens says. It is reasonable to assume then, he adds, that embryos created from sperm that has been sitting for days within the female's reproductive tract before ovulation may be disadvantaged.

The situation is similar, he suggests, for eggs that have been waiting around for sperm to arrive. These are the only two likely scenarios where fertilisation might occur using the rhythm method, he points out.

These embryos may then face a less-than-ideal uterine lining, he points out, since the uterus is not as receptive outside of the most fertile period.

Bovens calculates that, if the rhythm method is 90% effective, and if conceptions outside the fertile period are about twice as likely to fail as to survive, then “millions of rhythm method cycles per year globally depend for their success on massive embryonic death”.

So his entire article is based on bullshit. I see.
“If you’re concerned about embryonic death,” Bovens says, “you’ve got to be consistent here and give up the rhythm method.”

Roger Gosden, at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility in New York, US, says: "It's quite plausible that more abnormal embryos are conceived at the limits of sperm - and especially egg - viability," he says, "and that these are more frequent in women practising rhythm contraception than those having unprotected intercourse at random stages of the menstrual cycle."

He recalls that at least one study found that Roman Catholics had higher rates of miscarriage, presumably, he says, due to aged gametes. "Actually confirming this is not easy, though," he admits.

This reminds me of when my world geography teacher (who was the biggest hypocrite you ever saw; he decried SUVs for their gas-guzzling ways but himself drove an ancient truck, and decried greedy capitalism but left teaching to work as a lawyer) announced that being vegetarian actually kills more animals, because the primary cause of death of animals is loss of habitat, and the primary cause of loss of habitat is - you guessed it - agriculture.

Bovens has enough time on his hands to make up pretentious bullshit to irritate people he doesn't like, but heaven forbid he do any actual research. His precious little fingers might get paper cuts.

I am appalled that a journal of medical ethics would publish such a paper.


Anonymous Funky Dung said...

"So his entire article is based on bullshit."

That sums it up well. :)

3:19 PM  

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