Tumbling down

16 Jan 2009

By The Record

One of the Pill’s creators spells out the awful, unforeseen (except by Pope Paul VI) consequences of the contraceptive he now wishes he had never invented.

Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped
invent the contraceptive pill now says that his co-creation has led to
a "demographic catastrophe."

In an article published by the Vatican this week, the head of the
world’s Catholic doctors broadened the critique of the pill, claiming
it had also brought "devastating ecological effects" by releasing into
the environment "tonnes of hormones" that had impaired male fertility,
The Taiwan Times says.

The critique began with a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper
Der Standard by Carl Djerassi. The Austrian chemist was one of three
whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a
key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.

Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the
population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He
said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between
sexuality and reproduction." He said: "This divide in Catholic Austria,
a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now

He described families who had decided against reproduction as "wanting
to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on
with it."

The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far worse, but
given less attention, than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were
committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were
not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to
understand the necessity of an "intelligent immigration policy."

The head of Austria’s Catholics, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, told an
interviewer that the Vatican had forecast 40 years ago that the pill
would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west.

"Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi … is saying that each
family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but
we’re far away from that," he said.

Schonborn told Austrian TV that when he first read Pope Paul VI’s 1968
encyclical condemning artificial contraception he viewed it negatively
as a "cold shower." But he said he had altered his views as, over time,
it had proved "prophetic."

Writing for the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, the president of
the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Jose Maria
Simon, said research from his association also showed the pill "worked
in many cases with a genuinely … abortive effect."

Angelo Bonelli, of the Italian Green party, said it was the first he
had heard of a link between the pill and environmental pollution. The
worst of poisons were to be found in the water supply.

"It strikes me as idiosyncratic to be worried about this," he said.

Catholic News Agency details the claims by the president of the
International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Dr Jose
Maria Simon Castellvi, who outlined a series of scientific arguments
said to confirm the prophetic nature of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on
artificial contraception.

In an article published by the L’Osservatore Romano, the Spanish doctor
pointed to the Federation’s recent document commemorating the 40th
anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which "irrefutably shows that the most
widely used anti-ovulatory pill in the industrialised world, the one
made with low doses of estrogen and progesterone, in many cases works
with an anti-implantation effect; that is, abortifacient [effect],
because it expels a small human embryo."

Castellvi also pointed out that "this anti-implantation effect is
acknowledged in scientific literature, which shamelessly speaks of an
embryo loss rate. Curiously, however, this information does not reach
the public at large."

He also pointed to the "devastating ecological effects of the tons of
hormones discarded into the environment each year. We have sufficient
data to state that one of the causes of masculine infertility in the
West is the environmental contamination caused by the products of the
‘pill’." Castellvi noted as well that the International Agency for
Research on Cancer reported in 2005 that the pill has carcinogenic

After explaining that the "natural methods of regulating fertility are
the ones that are effective and that respect the nature of the person,"
Castellvi stated that "in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man we can say that the
contraceptive methods violate at least five important rights: the right
to life, the right to health, the right to education, the right to
information (its dissemination occurs to the detriment of information
about natural methods) and the right of equality between the sexes
(responsibility for contraceptive use almost always falls to the