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Monday, August 21, 2006

What’s Left? Dry Humping?

Posted by on August 21 at 11:17 AM

Fundamentalists have long argued that many methods of contraception, including IUDs, the Pill, and emergency contraception (Plan B), cause abortion (embryonic death) by blocking the implantation of a conceived embryo in the uterus. By that standard, the Journal of Medical Ethics reports, the “rhythm method” is a veritable embryonic genocide.

Now suppose that we were to learn that the success of the rhythm method is actually due, not to the fact that conception does not happen—sperm and ova are much more long lived than we previously thought—but rather because the viability of conceived ova outside the [heightened fertility] period is minimal due to the limited resilience of the embryo and the limited receptivity of the uterine wall. If this were the case, then one should oppose the rhythm method for the same reasons as one opposes IUDs. If it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by making the uterine wall inhospitable to implantation, then clearly it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by organising one’s sex life so that conceived ova lack resilience and will face a uterine wall that is inhospitable to implantation. … And if embryos are unborn children, is it not callous indeed to organise one’s sex life on the basis of a technique whose success is partly dependent on the fact that unborn children will starve because they are brought to life in a hostile environment?


Even a policy of practising condom usage and having an abortion in case of failure would cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method.

Of course, the article concludes,

one person’s modus ponens is another person’s modus tollens. One could simply conceive of this whole argument as a reductio ad absurdum of the cornerstone of the argument of the pro-life movement, namely that deaths of early embryos are a matter of grave concern.

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it's called the crazy, and they've got it.

What'll they think of next? A period = abortion?

After all, that unfertilized egg was a potential person.

I can see if now: woman buys tampon, protestors howl "baby killer!"

Being gay, I'm pretty ignorant of straight sexual terminology. Will someone tell me what the ‘rhythm method’ is, I’d goggle it but I’m at work right now

The "rhythm method" often refers to the practice of "natural contraception" which involves charting a woman's menstrual cycle, vaginal secretions, body temperature, etc. in order to know which days are her most- and least-likely-to-be fertile days.

Don't confuse it with "withdrawal" aka the "French rhythm method."

Both are very popular amongst the Europeans and some Asian cultures.

"What's next", of course, is not trying to prevent pregnancy at all, but encouraging it. Every sex act should result in a pregnancy, and any sex act that is undertaken with pregnancy as its goal is a moral crime, as is, naturally, any sex act undertaken when pregnancy is not possible (the rhythm method, sex after menopause, sex DURING pregnancy, sex with a known-infertile person). If you think that's crazy and extreme, you're just not getting where these people are coming from.

"Anti-sex" isn't just a slogan, you know.

The saddest part is that it is all based on a total factual error by the Catholic Church heirarchy 150 years ago: that sperm is sufficient in itself to make a human; there are no "eggs", just places to keep the baby warm. Add in a large helping of Calvinist hatred of any kind of pleasure or happiness, and Bob's your uncle: sexual perversion as official policy.

just to be clear, this is a philosophical argument in a journal of professional philosophy (eg, medical ethics). the author L Bovens (LSE Dept of Philosophy) is not arguing that the rhythm method is murder, only that consistently would require certain pro-lifers to believe such given their anti-choice arguments.

perhaps this is clear to everybody but the tone of ECB's post and some of comments here made me wonder.

Christians won't let women get abortions, and Jews believe god wants Rabbis to suck the blood of baby cocks. All religion is a farce.

But even New York Public health can't stop religious idiots -

Just some terminology clarification:

It is unclear from the article what the author means by "the rhythm method."
The traditional rhythm method is calendar-based and assumes a regular 28-day cycle with ovulation on day 14. Because cycle lengths and the date of ovulation vary, the calendar method is very ineffective.

More commonly used now is the sympto-thermal method, which charts waking temperature, cervical mucus, and changes in the cervix to determine whether a woman is fertile on a given day. This method is pretty effective.

For more information, see

Of course, from the point of ethics, all these methods do the same thing: help a woman determine when she is fertile so she can avoid sex or have sex, depending on whether or not she desires children. And that control over childbearing is what is so scary to the conservatives.

Heck, rhythm method? You can't even let your seed fall to the ground, or the LORD will smite you. Plus it can be hard to get out of the carpet.

Spot Bovens' mistake:

Randy Alcorn calculates that "even an infinitesimally low portion (say one hundredth of one per cent) of 780 million pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually".


If all of Alcorn’s 780 million pill users were to switch to the rhythm method, then these converts would be causing, in his own words, the deaths not of tens of thousands, but of millions of unborn children.

780 million pill cycles does not translate to 780 million pill users, but rather to 65 million women taking 12 monthly pill cycles a year.

every sperm is sacred!!

masterbators and other perverts (ie anyone engaging in any sex that does not result in at least 1 child per act of sexual congress) will be punished by the inquisition!

The Inquisition? I didn't expect *that*. . .

Too late, Nappie! Noone expects it!

The other problem with the rhythm method is that if the embryos don't die, then they have a much higher chance of becoming deformed in some way, which can lead to a whole slew of genetic disorders. (Especially Spina Bifida or Down Syndrome.)

There are a couple of terminology errors here.

Conception is equal to implantation, not fertilization as it is being used here.

I think that's the point. Since what gets called 'abortifacients' -- the morning-after pill, intrauterine devices, etc -- don't prevent fertilization, just implantation.

So since the rhythm method prevents implantation of the fertilized ovum, it should be as opposed as stridently as the other methods.

I think this is probably a priorities issue, rather than hypocrisy. Because, after all, no one's suggesting the rhythm method as the only pious alternative to contraception; just abstinence. Sex that doesn't lead to procreation is sinful; sex outside of marriage is sinful. The rhythm method, since it attempts to thwart God's will, is no less sinful than anything else.

Which seems like a pretty weeny God, if he's blocked by something so tenuous as a sliver of latex.

So they're inferring there's nothing wrong with Logic Genocide? Because that's exactly what they've spent 2000 years committing.

What method is it where her face cream prevents implantation?

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