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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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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