Friday, January 9, 2009
Pill inventor slams ... pill
Published: January 08, 2009
Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped invent the contraceptive pill now says that his co-creation has led to a "demographic catastrophe."
In an article published by the Vatican this week, the head of the world's Catholic doctors broadened the attack on the pill, claiming it had also brought "devastating ecological effects" by releasing into the environment "tonnes of hormones" that had impaired male fertility, The Taiwan Times says.
The assault began with a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard by Carl Djerassi. The Austrian chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.
Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction." He said: "This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete."
He described families who had decided against reproduction as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."
The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far worse, but given less attention, than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to understand the necessity of an "intelligent immigration policy."
The head of Austria's Catholics, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, told an interviewer that the Vatican had forecast 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west.
"Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi ... is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we're far away from that," he said.
Schonborn told Austrian TV that when he first read Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical condemning artificial contraception he viewed it negatively as a "cold shower." But he said he had altered his views as, over time, it had proved "prophetic."
Writing for the Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, the president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Jose Maria Simon, said research from his association also showed the pill "worked in many cases with a genuinely ... abortive effect."
Angelo Bonelli, of the Italian Green party, said it was the first he had heard of a link between the pill and environmental pollution. The worst of poisons were to be found in the water supply.
"It strikes me as idiosyncratic to be worried about this," he said.
Catholic News Agency details the claims by the president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Dr Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, who outlined a series of scientific arguments said to confirm the prophetic nature of Pope Paul VI's encyclical on artificial contraception.
In an article published by the L'Osservatore Romano, the Spanish doctor pointed to the Federation's recent document commemorating the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which "irrefutably shows that the most widely used anti-ovulatory pill in the industrialised world, the one made with low doses of estrogen and progesterone, in many cases works with an anti-implantation effect; that is, abortifacient [effect], because it expels a small human embryo."
Castellvi also pointed out that "this anti-implantation effect is acknowledged in scientific literature, which shamelessly speaks of an embryo loss rate. Curiously, however, this information does not reach the public at large."
He also pointed to the "devastating ecological effects of the tons of hormones discarded into the environment each year. We have sufficient data to state that one of the causes of masculine infertility in the West is the environmental contamination caused by the products of the 'pill'." Castellvi noted as well that the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported in 2005 that the pill has carcinogenic effects.
After explaining that the "natural methods of regulating fertility are the ones that are effective and that respect the nature of the person," Castellvi stated that "in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man we can say that the contraceptive methods violate at least five important rights: the right to life, the right to health, the right to education, the right to information (its dissemination occurs to the detriment of information about natural methods) and the right of equality between the sexes (responsibility for contraceptive use almost always falls to the woman)."
Catholic Church renews its attack on contraceptive pill (Taipei Times)
Medical Association points out prophetic nature of Humanae Vitae (Catholic News Agency)
St. Walburga's blog: This is a good news/bad news kind of thing. Good news: The Church was right!! Bad news: The Church was right!