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 CNS Story:

LOSSERVATORE-PILL Jan-5-2009 (490 words) xxxi

Birth-control pill is linked to male infertility, says Vatican paper

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The birth-control pill is causing "devastating" environmental damage and plays a role in rising male infertility rates, said the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

"We have sufficient evidence to argue that one of the considerable factors contributing to male infertility in the West -- with its ever decreasing numbers of spermatozoa in men -- is environmental pollution caused by the byproducts of the pill" released in human waste, the article said.

Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the Vatican-based World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, wrote the article that appeared in the paper's Jan. 4 edition.

The pill has created "devastating ecological effects from tons of hormones being released into the environment for years," the article said.

According to news reports, scientists worldwide have found sexual abnormalities in fish and other water-dwelling creatures that have been exposed to sewage contaminated with synthetic estrogens and other hormones like those used in the pill.

Some European studies have blamed increased male infertility and poor reproductive health on environmental causes, especially estrogenlike chemicals found in pesticides, plastic food containers, shampoos, cosmetics and other products.

The newspaper article said that, with such clear evidence of the adverse impact the pill's use has on the environment, manufacturers should offer more information about the ecological effects of the use of these synthetic hormones.

The article was based on a 100-page document published by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations to commemorate last year's 40th anniversary of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life").

Titled "Forty Years of Humanae Vitae From a Medical Perspective," the document examines the consequences of men and women distancing themselves "from the fundamental concept of the encyclical and choosing to favor artificial contraception."

Much of the public is unaware that the contraceptive pill also acts as an abortifacient because it affects an embryo's ability to implant successfully, the article said.

The pill's function is usually described as suppressing ovulation, but in many cases, it said, the synthetic hormones in the pill create conditions that impede implantation and, therefore, are "abortive since they expel the small human embryo."

While the pill's ability to impede implantation is well-documented in scientific studies and even noted in pharmaceutical companies' sales literature, the article said, "Curiously, however, this information doesn't reach the wider public."

The article said very few people follow the church's teaching against artificial birth control because, "among the various reasons, too many doctors at the time did not accept" the encyclical's teachings.

Even today, promoting acceptance of the encyclical has been "very slow" because there has been "much reticence" among couples and doctors, it said.

The author urged the Vatican to create a special commission dedicated to "Humanae Vitae" to better inform doctors about human fertility and about natural family planning because "the prestige of the physician allows him to authoritatively offer couples alternatives to contraception."


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