More consequences of the Pill, and a cautionary tale on "reverse consequentialism"

According to a recent study, use of oral contraceptive pills can cause urinary incontinence in women. So, a pill taken to allow for sexual incontinence leads to urinary incontinence. . . .

Women who used oral contraceptives were found to be 27 per cent more likely to experience leakage at least weekly compared with women who had never taken them. The risk was found to increase significantly with increasing duration of contraception use.

The researchers, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: ‘Our study findings suggest that oral contraceptive pill use may be associated with a modestly increased risk of urinary incontinence among premenopausal women.

‘However, this is one of the first reports of such an association and, thus, further research is needed to confirm our findings and investigate possible mechanisms.’

Another story in contraceptive news provides a cautionary tale of what we might call “reverse consequentialism.” Consequentialism is, of course, the ethical approach by which “the ends justify the means.” Often, in trying to demonstrate that certain actions violate Natural Law, we point to the various harmful effects those actions can have.

So, we could call this a “reverse consequentialism”: not “do evil that good my come of it,” but “evil will come of this act, so you know it’s bad.”

This is particularly true of the birth control pill.

“The birth control pill has all these harmful side effects, like cancer and stroke and urinary incontinence.”
“Condoms and diaphragms physically interrupt the sexual act.”
“Birth control pills, IUDs, and other methods that ‘prevent implantation’ are abortifacient.”

Well, some intrepid researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have developed a contraceptive device which, they believe, will take away all the problems inherent in every other form of contraception. Bold claim?

Well, it’s a ring that, when inserted into the vagina, releases a cocktail of hormones, spermicides, acids and other chemicals. Since it’s only used during the act, it allegedly will not have the harmful side effect sof the Pill (though, arguably, if used frequently enough, it would).

It is shown in laboratory tests to be effective not just at killing sperm but also at killing STDs, including HIV.

If their claims are true, it could eliminate just about every “consequentialist” approach to contraception, which forces us to be more articulate about the Church’s teaching that sexuality must be a gift of total self-donation.


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