Life as an Extreme Sport

Rhythm method criticised as a killer of embryos

New Scientist Breaking News – Rhythm method criticised as a killer of embryos

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.

With other methods of contraception banned by the Catholic church, the rhythm method has been one of the few options available to millions.

In using the rhythm method, couples avoid pregnancy by refraining from sex during a woman’s fertile period. Perfect adherents claim it is over 90% effective — i.e. one couple in 10 will conceive in an average year. But, typically speaking, effectiveness is estimated at closer to 75%.

Now Bovens suggests that for those concerned about embryo loss, the rhythm method may be a bad idea. He argues that, because couples are having sex on the fringes of the fertile period, they are more likely to conceive embryos that are incapable of surviving.

You can read the rest of the article by following the above link, but I think this snippet nicely summarizes the entire piece – and the problems that could be facing the Catholic Church and fundamentalist Protestants. If the rhythm method kills more embryos than other forms of contraception, or is the cause of noted miscarriages (and the article does note devout Catholics seem to have a higher rate of miscarriage), then the Church/churches are going to have to change their view of even this method of “contraception”.

Frankly, I’ve never understood why this is okay and other forms of contraception are not – the intent, after all, is the same. Especially if you’re comparing it to non-barrier method forms of birth control; it seems to me that if the argument is that, in the case of the rhythm method, God can choose to cause impregnation, should He so desire, you’re either implying God isn’t all powerful and can’t overcome a small thing like hormones, or that God would be so pissed at you using contraception he wouldn’t bless you with a child…which is sort of playing into the point of contraception to begin with.

In the case of barrier methods, at least there is some consistency, since there is an actual barrier in place to prevent the sperm from ever meeting the egg. Although, again – God isn’t powerful enough to cause the barrier to fail, if he so wanted a pregnancy?

Yeah. Eight years of exposure, and I still don’t get the mindset.