Kirsten Andersen

Essure sterilization device continues to maim women: 500 new complaints last year

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Three months after famed consumer advocate Erin Brockovich sounded the alarm about the dangers of Essure, a sterilization device dubbed “permanent birth control,” women are still suffering crippling complications from the device.

Essure consists of two small metal coils inserted into a woman’s fallopian tubes, irritating them and producing a buildup of scar tissue that keeps eggs in the ovaries and blocks sperm from reaching them.  Billed as a less invasive alternative to tubal ligation, the devices can be inserted during a regular doctor’s office visit, and unlike the pill, implants or the IUD, there are no hormones involved.  The device does, however, slightly increase the risk of an ectopic, or “tubal” pregnancy, which always results in the death of the baby and can be life-threatening for the mother.

But ectopic pregnancy is not the only risk presented by Essure. A growing number of women have reported severe health problems after having the devices installed.  Five hundred women reported complications to the FDA in 2013 alone, the largest number since the device was introduced in 2002. 

On Facebook, a group called “Essure Problems” has more than 5,000 members, with 100 more joining every week.  The group’s introductory page greets visitors: “Has life become a living hell since having the Essure procedure done? You are not alone.”

Group founder Angie Firmalo, 41, told the Chicago Tribune that she started the page two years after getting Essure – two years she spent suffering with heavy periods, joint pain, cramps and other symptoms.  Ultimately, she discovered the coils had drifted out of her fallopian tubes and become embedded in her uterine wall.

“They sell Essure like a cruise, hand you a pamphlet like you're going on vacation,” Firmalino told the paper.  But Firmalino is not alone in thinking her experience has been anything but a holiday.  She says in just the last year, 435 members of her Facebook group reported having to get the supposedly permanent devices removed due to complications ranging from chronic pain to organ damage. 

Because Essure is meant to be permanent, it is very difficult to remove after it has become embedded in a woman’s body, whether it is embedded in the correct location or not.  That means many of the women who seek removal of their devices end up with a full hysterectomy, major surgery that has serious consequences on the lifelong health of a woman.

Firmalino told the Tribune that she first had her coils removed vaginally, but since then, X-rays have shown that there are still several “foreign bodies” in her uterus. She now plans to have a full hysterectomy. “I don't know if this will make it any better, but I'm debilitated by pain,” she said.

Rachel Long, 34, told ABC 57 in South Bend that she was sold on Essure because it was quick, easy, and covered by insurance. 

“My husband and I had three children, I had terrible, terrible pregnancies,” Long said. “We love our children but we decided the Essure would be a permanent way to fix me.”

“We thought hey, for $50 deductible and no down time, hey why not?” said Long.  “They made it sound like this miracle thing.” 

But Long’s problems began within weeks of insertion, necessitating five trips to the emergency room in just three days and costing her family thousands.

“I felt like I was going to die, I felt like death,” Long said. “I had this deep, deep pain in my abdomen just two to three weeks after placement, anyone in their right mind would think this all started when this device was put into my body.”  Eventually, she too had to have a full hysterectomy.

At least one death has been reported in relation to the use of Essure, according to a report by ABC 2 in Baltimore.  A woman went to the emergency room with abdominal pain sometime after having the device installed, and was found to have a raging infection in her reproductive tract.  Her cervix, fallopian tubes and uterus had all become necrotic, dead tissue.  The infection ultimately killed her.

None of the women who have been negatively impacted by Essure are able to sue its manufacturer, Bayer, for damages.  The device was granted “preemption status” upon its approval in 2002, which grants its maker immunity from lawsuits related to its use. This is a major reason Erin Brockovich has gotten involved – she wants to strip Essure of its preemption protection and allow women to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

“Preemption is not about the Essure women – it affects all consumers," Brockovich told ABC. "If someone had a medical device installed, there's no recourse for victims, and the company is protected. If there's a problem, the company gets a pass, because they have preemption. It dawned on me the consumer didn't know. The women didn't know that this existed.”

Bayer, for its part, maintains that the benefits of the device outweigh any possible risks.

“Essure … has a well-documented benefit-risk profile, with over 400 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts supporting Essure’s safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness,” the company said in a statement.

Still, the company has agreed to alter its literature to add chronic pain as a “rare side effect” and warn users that it is possible for the devices to “migrate” within the abdomen.

“We are saddened to hear of any serious health condition affecting a patient using one of our products, irrespective of the cause,” said the company. “No form of birth control is without risk or should be considered appropriate for every woman.”


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UK quietly opens the door to genetic engineering, ‘3-parent’ embryos

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By Hilary White

Last month the UK’s Department of Health quietly redefined the term “genetic modification” to open the door to allow certain kinds of modification of human embryos – thus potentially making it the first country in the world to allow genetic engineering.

Scottish journalist Lori Anderson recently raised the alarm over the change in a column in the Scotsman, in which she alleged that the change is designed to “dupe” the British public into accepting “full-scale germline genetic engineering,” using human embryos as test subjects.

Anderson said that in July, the Department of Health “effectively re-wrote the definition of ‘genetic modification’ to specifically exclude the alteration of human mitochondrial genes or any other genetic material that exists outside the chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell.”

“The reason for doing this is that it believes it will be easier to sell such an advancement to the public if it can insist that the end result will not be a ‘GM baby’.”

This change follows a statement from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government body that regulates experimental research on human embryos, approving the procedure to create an embryo from one couple’s gametes but with genetic material added from a third party donor, a procedure called in the press “three-parent embryos”.

Anderson quoted a statement from the Department of Health comparing this procedure to donating blood. The statement read, “There is no universally agreed definition of ‘genetic modification’ in humans – people who have organ transplants, blood donations, or even gene therapy are not generally regarded as being ‘genetically modified’. The Government has decided to adopt a working definition for the purpose of taking forward these regulations.”

This assertion was challenged by one of the UK’s leading fertility researchers, Lord Robert Winston, who told the Independent, “Of course mitochondrial transfer is genetic modification and this modification is handed down the generations. It is totally wrong to compare it with a blood transfusion.”

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The HFEA, which throughout its history has been known as one of the world’s most permissive regulatory bodies, has been working steadily towards allowing genetically modified embryos to be implanted in women undergoing artificial procreation treatments. In a document issued to the government last year, they called the insertion of mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) into embryos “mitochondrial donation” or “mitochondrial replacement”. mDNA is the genetic material found in the cytoplasm outside a cell’s nucleus, problems with which can cause a host of currently incurable genetic illnesses.

In the statement issued in June, the HFEA said the technique of inserting “donated” mDNA into already existing in vitro embryos, “should be considered ‘not unsafe’ for the use on a ‘specific and defined group of patients.’”

“Mitochondria replacement (or mitochondrial donation) describes two medical techniques, currently being worked on by UK researchers, which could allow women to avoid passing on genetically inherited mitochondrial diseases to their children,” the statement said.

The HFEA admitted that the techniques are “at the cutting edge of both science and ethics” and said that the results of a “public consultation” in 2012/13 were being examined by the government, which is considering “draft regulations”.

In June, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children echoed Lori Anderson’s concern, commenting that the HFEA is attempting to deceive the public. Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said, “Human gene manipulation is being sold to a gullible public on a promise of reducing suffering, the same old con-trick that the test-tube baby lobby has been using for decades.” 

Any manipulation of human genetics, always breaks “several important moral rules,” entailing the creation of “human guinea-pigs,” Tully said. “Human germ-line manipulation and cloning – changing the genetic inheritance of future generations - goes against internationally-agreed norms for ethical science.”

He quoted Professor Andy Greenfield, the chairman of the scientific review panel that approved the techniques, who said that there is no way of knowing what effect this would have on the children created until it is actually done.

“We have to subject children who have not consented and cannot consent to being test subjects,” Tully said.

Altering the mDNA of an embryo is what cloning scientists refer to as “germline” alteration, meaning that the changes will be carried on through the altered embryo’s own offspring, a longstanding goal of eugenicists.

In their 1999 book, “Human Molecular Genetics” Tom Strachan and Andrew Read warned that the use of mitochondrial alteration of embryos would cross serious ethical boundaries.

Having argued that germline therapy would be “pointless” from a therapeutic standpoint, the authors said, “There are serious concerns, therefore, that a hidden motive for germline gene therapy is to enable research to be done on germline manipulation with the ultimate aim of germline-based genetic enhancement.”

“The latter could result in positive eugenics programs, whereby planned genetic modification of the germline could involve artificial selection for genes that are thought to confer advantageous traits.”


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Cable series portrays nun as back-alley abortionist

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By Ben Johnson
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'To depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,' said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

The Cinemax TV series The Knick portrayed a Roman Catholic nun as a back alley abortionist who tells a Catholic woman God will forgive her for going through with the procedure.

In its latest episode, which aired Friday night, the series showed Sister Harriet (an Irish nun played by Cara Seymour) telling a Catholic woman named Nora, “Your husband will know nothing of it. I promise.”

“Will God forgive me?” Nora asked, adding, “I don't want to go to Hell for killing a baby.”

“He knows that you suffered,” the sister replied, before performing the illegal abortion off-screen. “I believe the Lord's compassion will be yours.” 

The period medical drama is set at the Knickerbocker Hospital (“The Knick”) in New York City around the turn of the 20th century, when abortion was against both civil and ecclesiastical law.

“It is no secret that Hollywood is a big pro-abortion town, but to depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said. “The only saving grace in this episode is the real-life recognition of the woman who is about to have the abortion: she admits that her baby is going to be killed.”

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The series is directed by Steven Soderbergh, known for such films as Erin Brockovich, the Oceans Eleven franchise, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape. More recently he directed The Girlfriend Experience, a film about prostitution starring pornographic actress Sasha Grey.

Critics have hailed his decision to include a black surgeon in circa 1900 America. But after last week's episode, the New York Times stated that The Knick has chosen to “demonstrate concern for other kinds of progress,” citing the depiction of the abortion. 


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Balcony of the Grandmaster Palace in Valletta, which houses the Maltese Parliament. Shutterstock
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Catholic Malta enacts ‘transgender’ employment discrimination law

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By Hilary White

An amendment to Malta’s Employment and Industrial Relations Act means that employment “discrimination” against “transsexuals” is now officially prohibited in the Catholic country. The provision, which was quietly passed in May, came into effect on August 12th.

The law allows those who believe they have a complaint to make a case with the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, with an industrial tribunal or the courts. A government spokesman told local  media, “Employees do not need to prove that their employer has discriminated against them.”

“They only need to provide enough evidence pointing to a likely case of discrimination. The employer will then need to prove that discrimination has not taken place.”

The amendment defines illegal discrimination against “transgendered” people as, “in so far as the ground of sex is concerned, any less favourable treatment of a person who underwent or is undergoing gender reassignment, which, for the purpose of those regulations shall mean, where a person is considering or intends to undergo, or is undergoing, a process, or part of a process, for the purposes of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.” 

Silvan Agius, Human Rights policy coordinator with the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, told Malta Today newspaper that the new amendment brings Maltese law into harmony with EU law.

“This amendment is continuing the government’s equality mainstreaming exercise. The inclusion of gender reassignment in the Act also brings it in line with the anti-discrimination articles found in both Malta’s Constitution and the Equality for Men and Woman Act,” Agius said.

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Agius is a key member of the homosexual activist apparatus in Malta’s government working to entrench the ideology of gender in law in Malta and elsewhere. In June, he was a featured speaker, with the notorious British anti-Catholic campaigner Peter Tatchell, at a Glasgow conference organised by the Edinburgh-based Equality Network, a group that helps organise and train homosexualist campaign groups.

The amendment to the law follows promises made recently by the country’s equalities minister, Helena Dalli, to a “transgender” congress in Hungary in May. Dalli, who brought forward Malta’s recently passed same-sex civil unions bill, told a meeting of gender activists in Budapest that while her government’s focus had been mainly on homosexuals, that she would shortly be turning her attention to “trans” people.

“The next step now is a Bill towards the enactment of a Gender Identity law. A draft bill has been prepared and it has now been passed to the LGBTI Consultative Council for its vetting and amendment as necessary,” Dalli said.

“Some of you may be thinking that we are moving forward quickly. I have a different perspective though. We are doing what is right, what should have been done a long time ago,” she added.

Since the legalisation of divorce in 2011, Malta has been remarkable for its rapid adoption of the gender ideology’s agenda. In 2013, Malta was named the “fastest climber” on the Rainbow Europe Index, a survey organised annually by ILGA Europe, the leading homosexualist lobby group funded directly by the European Union.

The ILGA Europe report notes (p. 114) that Helena Dalli Helena “was one of 11 EU Member States’ equality ministers to co-sign a call for the European Commission to work on a comprehensive EU policy for LGBT equality.” The report also noted that although the new Labour government has proved cooperative, the Christian Democrat Nationalist Party has “progressively proved more receptive to LGBTI issues, including same-sex unions.”


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