Is anything actually beneath Isa?
This is worrisome.
A British study suggests the Roman Catholic Church-approved "rhythm method" may kill more embryos than other methods of contraception. http://www.physorg.com/news67783446.html
It's believed the method works by preventing conception from occurring. But Professor Luc Bovens of the London School of Economics says it may owe much of its success to the fact that embryos conceived on the fringes of the fertile period are less viable than those conceived toward the middle.
Bovens says it can be calculated that two to three embryos will have died every time the rhythm method results in a pregnancy.
The study appears in the Journal of Medical Ethics
Not really. At least in the article it "can be calculated" which means that this is merely conjecture based on supposed mathematical odds. To compound it, this is from the London School of Economics and not the Royal College of Surgeons.
Just more typical English anti-Roman propaganda. Quoting this article should beneath you, Isa.
By as to the article, there are some interesting comments on it:http://jme.bmj.com/content/32/6/355.full
Including a reply by the author to his critics:
Some of my critics draw a distinction between the rhythm method and natural family planning (NFP). I take the rhythm method to be any method that relies on abstinence around the time of ovulation. Of course there are various ways to determine when ovulation occurs, including the calendar method (Ogino Knauss), examining mucus (Billings) or checking basal temperature (STM). I do not take this method to cover the use of barrier methods during the fertile period, as some definitions of both ‘NFP’ and ‘the rhythm method’ seem to permit. I find reports on success rates for this method between 75% as the lowest number for typical use and 99.3% as the highest number for perfect use. Should one use numbers for perfect use or for typical use in moral arguments? On the one hand, one could say that a proponent of a method of contraception should not have to take responsibility for people failing to follow proper instructions. But on the other hand, recommendations are for real people and real people are not perfect users. To postulate a 90% success rate does not seem to be out of line with the available evidence. It is probably somewhat too low for perfect use and somewhat too high for typical use.
I know Wyatt is fond of making a distinction between the calendar rhythm method (it seems that is the only one you dispute) and what HV calls NFP. Perhaps it is because the Fathers he depends on for HV condemns the calendar rhythm method, St. Augustine in particular specifically condemns this method which he used to use. Will Wyatt and other supporters of HV reclassify the calendar rhythm method as "ABC"?
If the method fails, then how does it fail? If the purpose is to avoid having sex around the time of ovulation, then the following seem to be reasonable answers. (1) The last time of having sex before the period of abstinence was too close to ovulation. (2) The first time of having sex after the period of abstinence was too close to ovulation. (3) Ovulation was atypically early or late during some cycle and though the users checked the markers for ovulation, they failed to determine its occurrence accurately. Or a combination of (1) and (3) or of (1) and (2) are also reasonable. Since we are talking about typical use, such failures could be due to self-deception and wishful thinking. (1) raises the problem of ageing sperm, (2) raises the problem of an ageing ovum and (3) raises the problem of an atypical cycle.
Now comes the main empirical point of contention. For my argument to work, it must be the case that the probability of viability given that a conception occurs with ageing sperm or ovum or during an atypical cycle is lower than the probability of viability given that a conception occurs with fresh sperm and a fresh ovum and during a typical cycle. Both Mark Witty and Anne Williams phrase the objection to this assumption very well. "There is no evidence that there is any variability of viability of the conceptus with time of fertilisation within this narrow window," writes Williams. “Any conception is as viable as the next, barring a fatal genetic or developmental defect; there is no truth to the 'old sperm' or 'old ovum' speculation...," writes Witty. So let us turn to the relevant empirical literature.
Tarin et al. (2000) review a fifty-year literature not only on the effect of ageing gametes on pre-menstruation embryonic loss, but also on fertilization, spontaneous abortions and the pathology of the offspring...As to ageing ova, I quote:"It appears that ... post-ovulatory ageing of oocytes is associated with: (i) decreased potential of oocytes for fertilization and pre- and / or post-implantation embryo/fetus development." (Tarin et al., 2000: 544) Table 1 (Tarin et al., 2000: 533) contains a range of studies documenting the effect of the ageing of the ovum on embryo/fetus development and mortality. To pick one example, Wilcox et al. (1998) study ovulation, hCG levels and intercourse patterns of a cohort of women attempting pregnancy and find an increase in post- implantation embryonic loss for intercourse on the day of ovulation in human populations. Considering the time-lag between intercourse and fertilisation, these data support the hypothesis that post-ovulatory ageing of ova compromises embryonic survival. (I should add that Wilcox et al. (1998) do not record any conceptions from intercourse after the day of ovulation.) Wilcox et al. (1999) compare late implantations and early implantations. Late implantations have levels of embryonic loss that are radically higher (82% after day 11) than early implantations (13% up to day 9) . However, it is not known what causes these late implantations....As to old spermatozoa, I quote from Tarin et al., 2000: 544: "Likewise the ageing of spermatozoa in ... the female reproductive tract ... is associated with decreased ... potential for fertilization and pre- and/or post-implantation embryo/fetus development." Table 2 contains entries with articles documenting the effect of in vivo ageing of spermatozoa in the female genital tract and increased embryo/fetal mortality with ageing spermatozoa. Tarin et al. (2000: 542) write: "This notion is supported by the high mortality rate observed in embryos/fetuses derived from sperm aged in stagnant environments, e.g in ... the] female reproductive tract." Parkening and Soderwall, in a study of golden hamsters, write that their data "indicate that inseminated spermatozoa are capable of penetrating the zona pellucida and fertilizing some ova after residing 14 to 16 h within the female reproductive tract, but that the viability of ova fertilized in this manner is greatly reduced." (1975: 627-8)
Whitty objects to my use of the figure of 50% of embryonic loss, claims that such high figures are based on old and questionable studies (from 1956 and 1975), and that animal studies give single-digit percentages. A standard source for embryonic mortality is Edmonds (1982). Edmonds assesses embryonic loss by the appearance and disappearance of hCG in the urine at the time of implantation and presents a figure of 62%. This underestimates the actual percentage since it does not count pre-implantation loss. In Wilcox et al.'s study (1999) the pre-menstruation embryonic loss plus miscarriages is at 33%. Why is there this discrepancy? The only explanation that I can see is that Edmonds samples from a normal population, whereas Wilcox restricts his population to couples without previous fertility problems. In any case, considering that this does not measure pre-implantation loss, a figure of 50% for normal populations does not seem outlandish in the face of these data... It may be the case that, say, the viability given conception is variable, but this variability is not sufficiently great to obtain meaningful differences between embryonic death rates for condom users and NFP users...
which goes right to the heart of the matter, condoms and "NFP" having comparable failure rates where "failure" results in a child. Are they comparable for embryonic deaths? I'm afraid the author has a point:
Maybe it is worse to remove edible plants and animals from an island to make it inhospitable and then to drop off someone on it than to carefully pick a time of the year to drop off someone when you know the island not to be hospitable for human habitation. But really, is it that much worse?
Miscarriages (technically termed "spontaneous abortions") are part of this fallen world. Most are never even noticed. We had one that even my ex didn't realize what it was. I've known couples to have 5 in a row before having a child who came to term. Even those couples who followed SS. Clement, Augustine, Jerome and Lactantius etc. would have such occurences. But now, given the increase in knowledge of the biology, would not a couple guilty be guilty for not determining the optimal time for conception, and limiting intercourse to them? I've yet to see anyone in support of HV address that, and the questions of the odds of viability and the timing of intercourse that Bovens brings up have to be addressed.
As to it being the work of a professor at a school of economics, I'm a product of the U of C, which places a premium on interdisciplinary approaches, for which I make no apologies.
As to the peer reviewed journal
Journal of Medical Ethics is a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. The journal seeks to promote ethical reflection and conduct in scientific research and medical practice. It features original articles on ethical aspects of health care, as well as case conferences, book reviews, editorials, correspondence, news and notes. To ensure international relevance JME has Editorial Board members from all around the world including the US, Europe, Australasia and Far East. http://jme.bmj.com/site/about/index.xhtml
The Journal of Medical Ethics is an official journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics
and on the author:
Dr Luc Bovens is a Belgian professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics, and former editor of Economics and Philosophy. His main areas of research are moral and political philosophy, philosophy of economics, philosophy of public policy, Bayesian epistemology, rational choice theory, and voting theory. Bovens attended the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, studying Social Sciences, before moving to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Here he completed an MA in Sociology, an MA in philosophy and a PhD in philosophy in 1990.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luc_Bovens
He was a research assistant in the National Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium, before gaining a professorship in the department of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990.
Bovens was Director of the Philosophy, Probability and Modeling (PPM) research group with Stephan Hartmann at the University of Konstanz, Germany from 2002–2005, and an editor of Economics and Philosophy from 2002-2007.
He has been a professor in and the head of the department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics since 2004
It would seem he is a scholastic man, insisting on that intergration that my critics bring up when I criticize the scholastics' twining of theology and philosophy. I don't agree with many of his assumptions, arguments and conclusions, but unlike my critics, I cannot dissmiss his points on that basis.
The scientific method, including biology, involves hypostheses, of various origins, including statistics.
One thing I have wondered over the years, both from my own experience and others, that it seems for many women they must have a few attempts (ending in miscarriage) before succeeding to carry a child to term. Perhaps all women have to, but most of the miscarriages happen so early as to not be noticed. I had a friend who had a child earlier on (after years of contraception) and then, trying again years later, kept on loosing the child in the fifth month (5 or 6), this in the midst of fertility treatments for her and her husband. The morality isn't that simple, which is what Bovens is pointing out.