Tag Archives: hormonal birth control

12th and Delaware and The Crisis of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

The documentary film 12th and Delaware covers the story of two clinics adjacent to one another in Fort Pierce, Florida. On one corner, sits an abortion clinic. On the other, what’s commonly called a “crisis pregnancy center” (abbreviated as CPC).

It is not happenstance alone that caused these clinics to share an intersection.

The abortion clinic was in business first. When the building across the street went up for sale, it was purchased by the organizers of CPC in order to divert the abortion clinic patients to their clinic to dissuade them from terminating their pregnancies.

If you’re not familiar with the services offered by a Crisis Pregnancy Center, I’ll give you some background. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • The “40 Days For Life” campaign menaces and intimidates women seeking medical care (RH Reality Check)
  • Tea Party advocates for small government- unless it concern’s a woman’s womb (Examiner)
  • Glenn Beck believes a woman’s right to choose is comparable to slavery (Media Matters)
  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wants to limit women’s access to birth control under the new health reform law (RH Reality Check)
  • New Missouri Law says abortion providers must tell patients life begins at conception (Huff Po)
  • Voting pro-choice is more important than ever! Read up on the potential consequences of an anti-choice congress (NARAL)

Pro-Choice Book Club: Histories of Oral Contraceptives

Hormonal birth control has an incredible history that stretches back almost a century, when Margaret Sanger wrote of her dream of a “magic pill” in 1912. In the ensuing decades, scientists were busy piecing together the complex system of the body’s “chemical messengers,” hormones, and when they learned how to synthesize them in the ’40s, Sanger’s dream was but a few steps away from being fulfilled. Three engaging accounts of the Pill’s development – The Pill: A Biography of the Drug That Changed the World by Bernard Asbell (1995), America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation by Elaine Tyler May (2010), and Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill by Gabriela Soto Laveaga (2009) – contain some overlap, while offering different perspectives.

Each author tells the inspiring story of Russell Marker, the chemist who first finagled progesterone from a wild-growing Mexican yam. Despite a near lack of support from pharmaceutical companies and the scientific community, he traveled to rural Mexico on a hunch – and ended up co-founding a laboratory that became the world’s top hormone supplier for the next few decades. Before Marker formulated a way to synthesize hormones in abundance, they were derived from slaughterhouse byproducts and were prohibitively expensive. Marker’s experiments enabled further medical research in hormones, and progesterone was soon used not only in oral contraceptives, but as a precursor for other medications such as cortisone.

While Carl Djerassi is often credited as the “father of the Pill,” both Asbell and May tip their hats to Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick, the Pill’s “mothers.” These two women also have fascinating biographies. As a nurse in the early twentieth century, Sanger was acquainted with the horrors that arose when women did not have control over their fertility. Many of her patients became infected or even died as the result of illegal or self-induced abortions, which motivated Sanger to become an activist for contraception’s legalization – an avocation that saw her illegally smuggling diaphragms into the country and serving time in jail after opening a family-planning clinic in Brooklyn. Continue reading

Coming Soon: A More Effective Emergency Contraception

Another tool for the prevention of unintended pregnancy has recently been approved by the FDA: ulipristal acetate (marketed under the brand name ella®), a type of emergency contraception that can be taken up to five days after unprotected sexual intercourse. The medication is already in use in Europe, and the FDA conducted its own clinical trials before approving it as a prescription contraceptive on August 13. Ella was found to be safe and effective, and better at preventing pregnancy than current forms of emergency contraception, such as Plan B.

While Plan B can be taken up to three days after unprotected intercourse, its effectiveness is dependent upon how soon it is taken after sex. Plan B taken immediately after unprotected intercourse is more effective than when it is taken three days afterward. Ella, on the other hand, has been found to be just as effective on the fifth day as it is on the first day. According to the New York Times:

Women who have unprotected intercourse have about 1 chance in 20 of becoming pregnant. Those who take Plan B within three days cut that risk to about 1 in 40, while those who take ella would cut that risk to about 1 in 50, regulators say. Studies show that ella is less effective in obese women.  Continue reading