Global Environmental Influences

Water Expert: Contraceptives Affect Environment (7/08)

 Mark LeChevallier agrees with Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, a pro-life obstetrician and gynecologist, that Natural Family Planning is safe, healthy and effective.

He would add one more characteristic: It's environmentally responsible. 

LeChevallier is director of innovation and environmental stewardship at American Water, the largest water and wastewater provider in North America. Along with his wife, he also has been a certified Instructor of Natural Family Planning for the past 25 years.

Ruppersberger's talk at the conference on "Scientific Advances in Fertility Management" touted the benefits he has seen for his patients and himself since he switched to an NFP-only medical practice in 1999.

LeChevallier shared the podium with Roxana Barillas [domestic policy adviser, USCCB] for a discussion on "Toxins, the Environment and the Child in the Womb."

He spoke about the drastic effects that discarded contraceptive medicines and devices have been having on the nation's water and animals, especially fish.

In "Endocrine Disruptions: Chemical Contraceptives in Sewage Effluents," LeChevallier explained that like secondhand smoke, "secondhand estrogens are being released into the environment," with devastating effect on fish, panthers, alligators and other wildlife.

…"the synthetic estrogen used in birth control pills can wreak havoc on the sex lives of fish," LeChevallier said, citing reduced penis size in male fish, masculinized female fish and other sex-related changes.

Because the synthetic estrogen is not absorbed well into the body, much of the drug is released into the environment through women's urine, he said. In addition, used contraceptive rings and patches are having a further polluting effect, he said.

Noting that in Europe, drug manufacturers are required to provide a bag for disposal or return of used contraceptive devices, LeChevallier recommended that the U.S. adopt the same policy. "Why do pharmaceutical companies here get a free ride?" he asked.

Ruppersberger explained the various forms of natural family planning in use today and said, "If you want to stop the abortion mentality, you have to stop contraception."

He said birth control pills are sometimes prescribed for women with excessive menstrual cramping or bleeding, endometriosis and even acne.

"I have not had any problem in my practice for not writing a prescription for birth control," he added. "People don't die from acne, but they do die from complications of birth control."

Ruppersberger said the new tools available to help couples practice natural family planning include the OV watch, which is worn while sleeping and notifies women four days before ovulation; Persona, a handheld fertility device currently available only in Europe; and OvaCue, a fertility monitor that detects electrolytes in a woman's saliva to predict ovulation.

He also said the Internet is increasingly being used to teach Natural Family Planning.

Ruppersberger outlined some of the medical effects of contraceptives on the human body — cancers, infections, cardiovascular complications, effects on the liver and the death of the woman, not to mention the death of an unborn child in an abortion when contraceptives fail.

The use of contraceptives also has been shown to result in increased depression in the women who take them, decreased self-esteem, increased divorce rates and increased teen promiscuity and pregnancy rates, he said.

Barillas' presentation: "the poor and powerless are most likely to bear the burden of our environmental carelessness," she said.

"The poor, the elderly and persons with disabilities often are exposed to multiple contaminants," Barillas said, adding that children especially are at risk because they suffer "greater exposure pound for pound" and have a "diminished ability to detoxify and excrete many chemical toxins."

Unborn children also face many environmental risks, including lead, mercury, pesticides and other chemicals, she said.

[July 08, www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0803877.htm]