Dustin Siggins


NuvaRing lawsuit should prompt America to re-examine contraception

Dustin Siggins

Recently, a years-long class-action lawsuit against Merck Pharmaceuticals saw renewed media interest after skeleton skater Megan Henry joined the lawsuit. Henry, who used Merck's NuvaRing in 2012, ended up missing this year's Winter Olympics. 

Henry says the effects to her body have been devastating. They started with “a hard time breathing,” and concluded with “multiple blood clots in both lungs” and health risks if she was to get pregnant. 

According to the NuvaRing website (graphic content warning), the device works through insertion into the vagina, and is supposed to remain inserted for three weeks at a time. Side effects include blood clots, stroke, or heart attack, and “the most common side effects reported by NuvaRing users are: vaginal infections and irritation, vaginal secretion, headache, weight gain, and nausea.” 

The Merck lawsuit has nearly 4,000 people on board. They claim the risk warnings were underplayed. The lawsuit was the focus of a Vanity Fair profile, and the article's introduction said the author “asks why, despite evidence of serious risk, a potentially lethal contraceptive remains on the market.” 

It's not just NuvaRing getting a bad rap in popular media. Former talk show host and self-described feminist Ricki Lake is producing a forthcoming documentary looking at the devastating effects of hormonal birth control on women, as well as devices like NuvaRing. Her involvement is already drawing aggressive reactions from pro-abortion website Jezebel and celebrity Perez Hilton. 

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The goal of the video, according to Lake and the film's director, is to “wake women up to the unexposed side effects” of contraceptives. The two women claim, “In the fifty years since its release, the birth control Pill has become synonymous with women’s liberation and has been thought of as some sort of miracle drug.”

“But now it’s making women sick and so our goal with this film is to wake women up to the unexposed side effects of these powerful medications and the unforeseen consequences of repressing women’s natural cycles.”

The health risks of birth control are well established. The World Health Organization, for example, says the pill is a Class-1 carcinogen, and heart risks are widely known. There is a possible link to greater risk of glaucoma, and occasionally deaths are linked to the use of various hormonal contraceptives. 

While pro-life activists and the Catholic Church have long warned about the effects of birth control on a woman's body – as well as the consequences for relationships and general morality – such views have often been dismissed as anti-women. With renewed media critiques coming from unexpected sources, however, perhaps a new and constructive debate on the realities of contraceptives can be launched.

It would be the silver lining that at least helps to offset the unfortunate circumstances in which many women such as Henry find themselves.

A renewed debate could also have legal implications. With the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate case before the Supreme Court on First Amendment and other grounds, renewed media attention could impact how Justice Kennedy, the high court's typical swing vote, examines the consequences of mandating coverage of products with literally deadly potential.

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The flaws, foibles, and failings of Emily Letts’ ‘abortion’ video

Dustin Siggins

In March, Philadelphia actress and abortion counselor Emily Letts posted a video that ostensibly recorded an abortion she had. The video, which has garnered praise from many abortion advocates, has also garnered its share of pro-life critics, including LifeSiteNews' own Ben Johnson. Our U.S. Bureau Chief pointed out that Letts' video merely "purports to be" about abortion, since "it does not show the abortion procedure, the doctor, nor anything below her waist."

It's not just pro-lifers who are hammering Letts, either. One abortion supporter wrote that Letts' cavalier attitude ignores that “abortion is not something to be taken lightly or glorified. It is for most women a heavy decision."

More recently, another critic has offered her own takedown of Letts. In a 10-minute video worth watching, sharing, and promoting -- hence this blog post -- Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society absolutely shredded Letts.

Content Warning: While this video is excellent, and a must-see, it is also quite graphic with regards to imagery and language regarding the realities of abortion.

Among Miller's many excellent points:

  1. Letts' video did not show her unborn baby even once. "Abortion is the dismemberment of an innocent human being. That character, that person, was completely absent and completely invisible in your video,” says Miller.
  2. Letts did not clarify what "I'm kind of early" in the pregnancy meant in the video. Miller said this lack of specificity -- "the facts of fetal development" -- indicates Letts may be "hiding the baby" and does "not want to confront the reality of abortion."
  3. A music overlay of the actual abortion procedure may be hiding "the sounds of the surgical instruments," says Miller. "Where the heck is the sound of the suction machine [that] is dismembering your child?" she asked.

Citing Letts' piece in Cosmopolitan about the video, Huffington Post reports that Letts says she "searched the Internet, and I couldn’t find a video of an actual surgical procedure in the clinic that focused on the woman’s experience. We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like." As Miller, Johnson, and others have pointed out, Letts' video provides no further knowledge on that subject.

One final point: Huffington Post says Letts was not using birth control when she got pregnant. In other words, she engaged in consensual sexual activity, knowing that pregnancy is a predictable result of that activity. And rather than own up to it -- she admits to not being ready to be a mother -- she decided killing her child to make a point was preferable to adoption.

Miller has it right -- this wasn't a video about the realities of what happens to children and women during an abortion. It was, instead, Letts' "fantasy abortion." 

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Planned Parenthood president: Say ‘yes’ to life…if you make it out of the womb

Dustin Siggins

Ah, irony. From Cecile Richards' commencement speech to Barnard College, an all-women school:

These women didn’t wait to be asked. They just jumped headfirst.

To borrow some wisdom from Lena Dunham, "Don’t wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary."

If you hold out for an invitation, chances are good you’ll miss the party. And by the party, I mean life.

Growing up, Mom always told me, "The answer to life is yes."

This is the only life you have so make the most of it. Take every opportunity and risk you can. You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do because you were afraid to try.

That's right. The head of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortion provider, thinks that "the answer to life is yes."

Of course, Richards was talking about saying "yes" to life after birth. Prior to that stage of being, it's clear that one of the nation's most powerful women is much against women saying "yes" to life. Over 150,000 women, in fact, will never have the opportunity to make a decision about whether to say "yes," "no," or "maybe" in 2014 because of Planned Parenthood.

According to my calculations, Planned Parenthood is killing off six percent of the females who would otherwise leave the womb with a chance to say "yes" to life.

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Consider the following:

For 2014, it is projected that there will be 4.28 million births in the United States of America. Of those, 48.8 percent will be female. (1.0 girls are born for every 1.05 males.) This means 2,088,640 girls will be born this year.

According to the latest available data, for 2011, there were 1.06 million abortions. Assuming this drops slightly due to pro-life laws that are being enforced across the nation -- among other factors -- let's assume that one million abortions will happen in America this year. (Abortion rates have been on a steady decline for most of the last two decades.)

This means that 18.9 percent of babies will be aborted in 2014. So how many lives are Richards and her subordinates responsible for ending?

Planned Parenthood claimed credit for 333,964 abortions in 2011, which means 31.5 percent of abortions in America were done in the clinics of Planned Parenthood. (This does not count the abortifacients Planned Parenthood handed out, which is not included in the organization's annual report.)

So, assuming 48.8 percent of abortions in America are done to girls, and 31.5 percent of them are done by people working under Richards' umbrella, 153,270 unborn girls will not be given the chance to say "yes" to life this year because of Planned Parenthood.

Oddly, a search for the word "abortion" in Richards’ speech brought up no references to Planned Parenthood's favorite procedure. Perhaps even she thought it a bit much to talk about supporting women while acknowledging her organization is responsible for killing so many.

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Signs of the times: Is worshipping Satan protected under religious freedom?

Dustin Siggins

In America, we tend to support more religious freedom than less. And after last week's Supreme Court decision to allow prayer at public meetings, Catholics and other Christians rejoiced.

However, that freedom is now being tested by two groups that are using Harvard and the state of Oklahoma as Ground Zero for poking a stick in the eye of Christianity.

First up is the group re-enacting a Satanic "Black Mass," which was designed to offend and mock Catholics. (Unlike a true "Black Mass," the organizers say they are not using a consecrated host.) The student group hosting the event said it is meant to be "educational," not disrespectful, according to Fox News:

“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead learn and experience the history of different cultural practices," the club's statement said. The statement went on to say that the mass will use a piece of bread but will “unequivocally” not use a consecrated host. 

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic group says if Christians can have the Ten Commandments on public property, they can have a statue of Satan:

While many of the project’s backers are Satanists — as in, they worship Satan — the piece is actually intended to make a broader point: That a statue of the Ten Commandments on public property seems to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which separates church and state. (This view is also held by the ACLU, which is challenging the Oklahoma government’s right to display the Ten Commandments.)

So what does this all mean? A few thoughts:

First, this is nothing new. Mockery of Christianity, and worship of Satan, have long been part of human history.

Second, this is one of the risks of defining freedom as the ability to do what one wants, not what's best for a person or society. In other words, the secular definition of "freedom" technically allows one to do more...but true freedom relies on Christ.

Clearly, using the Prince of Darkness as the launching pad of religious freedom fails to rely on Christ.

Third, this is a sign of our time. Morally, the president of Harvard has said she is attending tonight's Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction held in response to the Black Mass re-enactment. While it is good to see such a prominent person using the Church to stand against support for Satan, the question must be asked: Does Satanic worship qualify as "religion," especially when its sole purpose is to cause harm to society?

Likewise, such harmful activities would have been condemned a century ago, if even acknowledged. But modern technology means the Black Mass re-enactment has gotten national attention -- which is probably what the organizers intended.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air put it well:

The educational argument for conducting the ceremony is nonsense. One can have a lecture on the practices of satanists without actually conducting their rituals. Are Harvard students so obtuse that they couldn’t learn about Aztec history without watching a human sacrifice re-enactment, to use just one example? This is just an attempt to attack Christianity and the Catholic and Orthodox faiths in particular by conducting a denigration of their worship practices. If Harvard feels that this qualifies as educational freedom, I wonder what would happen if their extension club mocked Islam in a similar manner. I’d bet they wouldn’t be nearly as sanguine about that kind of campus event, nor should they be.

Morrissey also pointed to how a local priest asked if Harvard would be so accepting of re-enacting a KKK ceremony.

Fortunately, the Archdiocese of Boston is not taking this insult lying down, which is important since the same group pushing for the Oklahoma statue is involved in the Black Mass re-enactment. Via The Boston Globe:

“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship,” the archdiocese said. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”

A black mass is an often obscene mockery by satanic cults of the Mass performed in the Catholic Church. The ritual, for example, might substitute the bare back of a woman for an altar. To complete the desecration, the black mass generally uses a consecrated host, the bread or wafer blessed at Mass that Catholics believe is the body of Christ.

 So what do these situations say about our times? Mostly, they indicate the hypocrisy of our culture, which promotes immoral sexual relationships, sleeping around, and abortion -- and arguments against those practices are condemned. But a Black Mass re-enactment brings full-fledged support for the secular version of "freedom."

I wonder what would happen if the same college group burnt a Koran for the "educational" discussion that would ensue...

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