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Why throw out the birth control? Why love disabled disabled babies?

Over the years I've read Barbara Curtis' blog on and off . . . and been especially blessed by her perspective on down syndrome and loving children who are disabled. You can read one of her posts on this here and gain a new perspective on what down syndrome kids "look like".

She writes . . .

The fear is irrational but real. When women have never known a person with Down syndrome and have absorbed the implicit message of all the prenatal testing - that you don't have to have a baby who isn't "perfect" - then they panic when the diagnosis comes back positive. They're not thinking clearly, they're pressured to make a quick decision, and often they're advised by professionals to "terminate" and give it another chance.

When I talk to high school classes about this, I explain that this is the kind of decision you want to make in advance - even before you get married. And it's the kind of thing you want to talk about with a future spouse. Life comes at you fast - it's really wise to know where you stand on important issues like this before you begin to even think about marriage. Because this is the kind of issue which can tear a marriage apart.

Barbara opposes this culture of death with her pen and with her life . . . she has given birth to one child with down syndrome and adopted three more.

I was also interested to read Barbara's article on Christianity Today about Why some evangelicals are throwing out their birth control. This part particularly struck me, because it expresses my thoughts and my story so well.

Among younger Christian moms, many report going on The Pill before their wedding day as a matter of course – expected by their parents, their in-laws, and everyone else. Some report paradigm shifts set off by side effects: depression, weight gain, lack of sex drive.

Others discovered to their horror – since they considered themselves pro-life – that the pill can act as an abortifacient. They gave it up immediately.

While some went on to barrier methods, for others the shakeup of their preconceived ideas led them to rethink and scrap birth control altogether.

Many who structured their marriages to come off The Pill when they felt ready have been disappointed to find that fertility isn’t something we can turn off and on like a light switch. They struggle with infertility and miscarriages – adding up to much more time than they bargained for waiting for a baby.

I have never used hormonal bith control, but finding out about the effects of the Pill (thanks to Randy Alcorn and Eternal Perspective Ministries) did change my whole view of birth control in general . . . so much so that marrying someone who agreed was a priority. I don't feel at all "superior" to others who make different choices. I am just immensely grateful to God that he showed me parts of his truth in this area, so that I could avoid the heartbreak of making choices I could have regretted for the rest of my life.

Barbara is a wise woman. I am grateful to her, to other writers on the Internet, and especially to Eternal Perspective Ministries for changing my perspective on God's plan for family life.

Zan  – (October 30, 2007 at 1:24 AM)  

I haven't ever met a girl who didn't have those nasty side effects with the pill. They felt like they were in their first trimester, but not going to have the reward of a baby.

Did you see Susan's blog? ;-)

miller_schloss  – (October 30, 2007 at 9:56 AM)  

Good post. (Came here from TwentySixCats)

Bec  – (October 31, 2007 at 4:31 PM)  

It would be interesting to see how up-to-date that information is, a doctor told me all of 3 weeks ago that the weight-gain thing is a myth (what else is wrong?). The pill stops you ovulating - if you don't ovulate there is nothing for the sperm to meet so I think it's very rare that pill acts as an abortifacient although perhaps if it is taken incorrectly.

I fully respect each individuals descision.

I'm getting married in 2mths and for now - still being a student with several years to go (and being only 21), having a baby would a huge thing. I have chosen to go on the pill as the most effective and least interfering way. I do not think that God has a problem with us picking this.

I think we should be careful in our birth-control decision making but make sure that we use a wide variety of sources for information (not just Christian and those who have a specific world view) so that our choice can be correct scientifically understood for our 'God' driven reasons.

Sherrin  – (October 31, 2007 at 8:01 PM)  

Hi Zan and Becky - thanks for the encouragment! Loved Susan's blog . . . as you can see from my subsequent post!

Hello Bec, thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving me the opportunity to respond.

I agree with you that it is important to gain information from a variety of sources - that is why I would recommend that you research and confirm your doctor's claim that the weight gain side effect is a myth. If a doctor is very positive about the pill, he may well be biased with regard to the evidence for certain side effects.

I felt the same way as you about gaining evidence from a variety of sources - that is why I was so impressed with Randy Alcorn's research on the abortive effects of the pill. I don't know if you've read his research, but one of the reasons I so highly recommend it is that he has gone to a great deal of trouble to compile information. He consulted many secular sources. From my own research, I know that secular resources often readily admit to the fact that the Pill acts partly as an abortifacient. In fact, you are more likely to read this information in a secular resorce than a Christian one: they have less interest in denying it.

You may like to read the following article at Eternal Perspective Ministries: What about those who say there is no abortive affect to BCPs?.

May God bless you as you seek to do his will.

Bec  – (November 1, 2007 at 12:28 AM)  

Hi Sherrin,

I know Randy Alcorn writes fun books :P

The doctor is a Christian female - but to be fair that doesn't say anything, as not doubt they have to be impartial.

I think that however horrible it sounds, when it's convenient my (now fiance -then husband) will look at ways around using hormonal control etc. the abortifacient thing is concerning.

Appologies for the slight hijack of the post (re. why love disabled babies)!

I shall continue reading :)

Lara  – (November 1, 2007 at 11:22 AM)  

I've been on the Pill for almost 10 years, but not for contraceptive reasons (I'm 26 and unmarried). I haven't experienced nasty side effects and it's made my life so much easier. I'm no longer out of commission for several days each month (or 6 weeks, or 3 weeks - it was never regular) and I can skip a period if I'm travelling or have a particularly busy week when I can't afford to be dealing with the pain.

I'm not sure about the abortive effects. I'll have to check that out more before I get married.

Anonymous –   – (November 1, 2007 at 10:01 PM)  

Hi Sherrin

I think my original comment about termination for medical reasons may have prompted you to write about loving disabled babies. Bringing a Down Syndrome baby into the world, knowing that you can actually provide him/her with some quality of life is one thing and each person will deal with it differently. I had hoped my comment would be a useful source of debate, knowing the world is not black and white. There are grey areas that you can't define until you are in them.
I think this is a very interesting topic though and I am keen to know your view on contraception related to over population. Perhaps you could discuss this in a future blog?

Sherrin  – (November 1, 2007 at 10:02 PM)  

Hello Bec,

Thanks for dropping by again and responding to my comment. I don't think you have hijaked the post at all - it was more than half about birth control, and I shouldn't write about controversial topics unless I am willing to spend a little time responding to those who don't agree :).

It sounds like you may have found yourself in a place that I think many couples find themselves in. Personally, I think that for most Christian couples there are a whole lot of values that are more important to them than protecting life at its earliest stages. These include career aspirations, baby-free first years of marriage, finding the least annoying method of birth control etc. For many, even if they agree that one of the pill's actions is abortive this is not enough . . . they have to be convinced that this fact is more important than their other values.

I don't really know how to respond to this . . . all I can do is present what I believe and trust that God will work in the lives of others! I trust that he will lead you as you seek him!

Hello Lara,

Thanks for sharing your experiences! I can understand the dehabilitating effects of period pain, although I don't think mine has ever reached the levels you describe! I feel that the pill is too readily prescribed for period pain, considering its side effects, potential long term effects, and the fact that it masks symptoms rather than addressing the problem directly. Doctors have recommended it to me, but I decided against it for these reasons.

However, I am grateful that you have found it helpful. Using it for health reasons is a totally different issue to that of using it as a method of birth control. It is great that you're open to considering its abortive effects if you do marry in the future.

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