Maggie DeWitte’s testimony on risks of oral contraception #2

oral contraceptionHere is Pulse Executive Director, Maggie DeWitte’s, testimony on a bill before the Iowa Legislature, IA HSB91, “a bill for an act relating to the health and well-being of children and families.” Maggie is also spokesperson for the Iowa Coalition of Pro Life Leaders, which supports Division Seven in the bill, except for subsection division V, which relates to self-administered contraception. She spoke before a subcommittee yesterday:


Maggie DeWitte testifies at the State Capitol“HSB91: thank you for bringing this forward.  The pro-life coalition worked extremely hard on educating you on the need for the MOMS bill and were thankful for the passage last session and that Governor Reynolds mentioned in her state of the state address as something she wanted to expand.

I would like to address section 5 regarding self-administered hormonal contraceptive.  I don’t understand why this was put in the bill, and it does not have the support of the pro-life community.  There are four major issues with this section:

  1. Oral contraception is dangerous.  The World Health Organization has classified combined hormonal contraception as a Group 1 carcinogen.  This is the same classification as tobacco, arsenic, and asbestos.  Women who use contraception for 11 years or longer are at a 210% increased risk of breast cancer. Contraceptives have been proven to increase the risk of blood clots, which can be fatal. They also have increased risk of causing heart disease, especially in smokers. Lawsuits have been filed blaming the Patch for several deaths due to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that the Patch carries a higher risk of blood clots than the birth control pill. These medications should not be prescribed by anyone except a medical doctor who has access to accurate medical records and the necessary medical tests. 
  2. Hormonal Contraception is ineffective and gives women a false sense of security.  The New York Times published an article that stated that the fail rate is 38% by year five and that by year ten, 61 out of 100 women who use the pill will become pregnant. According to a March 2017 Guttmacher Institute study, “A substantial proportion of unintended pregnancies occur despite women’s and their partners’ use of contraceptives. In 2001, some 48% of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy had been using a method in the month of conception.” In the same study Guttmacher also reported that “about half of pregnancies terminated by induced abortions in 2008 occurred during use of contraceptives.” So, you can give them the pills, but faulty or incorrect use makes them ineffective in reducing unplanned pregnancies.
  3. This bill states it does not include any drug intended to induce an abortion.  Unfortunately, oral contraception can be abortifacient in nature. It is a medical fact that most if not all hormonal birth control drugs and devices, including the Patch and the Pill, can act to terminate a pregnancy by chemically altering the lining of the uterus (endometrium) so that a newly conceived child (human embryo) is unable to implant in the womb, thus starving and dying. This mechanism of action is termed a pre-implantation chemical abortion. 
  4. If the intent of this section of the bill is to reduce abortions, providing OTC birth control will not reduce abortions.  More contraception leads to more abortions not less.  And frankly, we don’t have an access problem; birth control is readily available in the state of Iowa. This will undercut / damage the physician-patient relationship.  Any prescription medication carries risks, and a doctor should be monitoring those risks- it’s not the role of a pharmacist to monitor symptoms and they do not have access to the patient’s medical history.  And relying on a self-administered questionnaire is not reliable- people frequently do not remember the name or type of medication they have been on or currently on and would not know of the risks associated with that medication.”