QuiverFullPill Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet - Contraceptive Pills Abortifacient

One of the clearly stated mechanisms inherent in the overall mode of action of the pill is; "…the rendering of the endometrium unreceptive to implantation" (1)

Put simply this means a newly created embryo is not allowed to implant in its mother's womb. Since this action takes place after fertilization (conception), it is thus, by definition, abortifacient.(2,3) Indeed, clinical researchers suggest that this mechanism does actually contribute to the contraceptive efficacy of oral contraceptives.(4) Every chemical contraceptive preparation including pills, injections, implants and intrauterine devices have this backup mechanism as an intrinsic part of their overall mode of action should conception occur.

The only way it could be stated with certainty that contraceptive drugs are not abortifacient is if they completely abolish ovulation in every woman during every cycle. This is clearly not the case. The evidence reported in the table below reveals a wide range of ovulation depending on the type of preparation used. This does not indicate a true "contraceptive" action. Whilst reported ovulation rates under strictly controlled clinical trial conditions are sometimes very low, the clinical evidence indicates no pill or drug under typical in-use conditions can be claimed to cessate ovulation absolutely in every instance.


Rate of Ovulation


Breakthrough Pregnancy

Combined Pill

Up to 5%


0.1 ****

Progestogen-only Pill




Intra-uterine Device

Up to 100%



Norplant Implants

10-50% **



Depo-Provera Injection

1% ***

16,17 %


Key; ** Rising with each consecutive year of use.
*** Derived from 0.3-0.7% breakthrough pregnancies/year.
**** Figures for 1st year of use, for perfect usage. See Ref. (16)


That ovulation and fertilization do indeed occur bringing new human embryos into existence during use of contraceptive drugs is evidenced by the rate, albeit sometimes low, of unexpected breakthrough pregnancy.(7,16,17,18) Such breakthrough pregnancies appear to occur even during 'perfect' usage, i.e. even when women do not forget to take their next dose or do not become ill.(16,18).

These failure rates are indicative only of the number of human embryos that reach the stage of a verifiable implanted pregnancy; no indication is given of the scale of loss of human embryos that fail to implant at the endometrial level under the hormonal influence of these drugs. This occurrence essentially amounts to early chemical abortion.

One author estimates the frequency of such chemical abortion as one in 88 menstrual cycles for a woman continually on the combined pill.(19) This translates to 1.4 million pill-induced abortions in the U.S.A in 1989, based on an estimated 10 million users. Given the scale of these "silent" abortions, based on the millions of women worldwide using various drugs and devices, what we are considering here is truly a "Pharmaceutical Holocaust".


There is a high degree of certainty that tiny human embryos die during contraceptive drug use. What is important however is not the actual figures involved but the fact that it happens at all. Given the dignity and preciousness of all human life at all stages of existence, the abortifacient nature of contraceptive drug poses serious ethical and moral problems for all doctors and pharmacists involved in their promotion.

1) ABPI Data Sheet Compendium. Datapharm Publications Ltd. 1996-1997 (Femodene) p1007.
2) Stedmans Medical Dictionary 26th ed. William and Wilkins, London 1995.
3) Blakistons Gould Medical Dictionary 4th ed. New York 1979.
4) Somkuti, S.G., Fritz, M. et al. The effect of oral contraceptive pills on markers of endometrical receptivity. Fertility and Sterility, 65(3) Mar 1996, pp 484-488.
5) Van der Vange, N. Ovarian activity during low dose oral contraceptives. Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Editor: Chamberlain, G., Butterworths, London, 1988, pp319-326.
6) Grimes, D., Godwin, A., et al. Ovulation and follicular development associated with three low dose oral contraceptives: A randomised controlled trial. Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 83, (1) 1994, pp29-34.
7) Westcombe . R., Ellis, R. and Fotherby, K. Suppression of ovulation in women using a triphasic oral contraceptive. British Journal of Family Planning, 13, 1987, pp 127-132.
8) Ehmann, R., Abortifacient contraception - the pharmaceutical holocaust. Human Life International, Ontario, 1993, pp7-16.
9) Langren, B.M. and Diczfalusy, E., Hormonal effects of the300ug norethisteone (NET) minipill. Contraception, 21, 1980, pp87-99.
10) Neal,, M.J., Medical Pharmacology at a glance. Blackwell Scientific Publications, London, 1991, p67.
11) Belfield, T., Contraceptive Handbook, 3rd ed. Family Planning Association, London, 1992, p37.
12) Zatuchi, G. and Goldsmith, A., Long term Clinical experience with levo-norgestrel-releasing IUD. Intra-uterine Contraception. Harper and Row, Philadelphia, 1987, pp232-237.
13) Croxatto , H.B Diaz, S. et al. Plasma progesterone levels during long term treatment with levo-norgestrel and Copper IUD comparative trail. Contraception 49, 1994, pp 56-72.
14) Andersson et al ., L-norgestrel and Copper IUD comparative trial. Contraception ,49, 1994,pp56-72.
15) Shaoban, M.M. et al., Sonographic assessment of ovarian and endometrial changes during long-term Norplant use and their correlation with hormone levels. Fertility and Sterility, 59(5), 1993, pp998-1002.
16) Hatcher, R.A., Trussell, J .et al. Contraceptive Technology 16th ed. Irvington Publishers, New York, 1994, pp637-687.
17) Pardthaisong, T., Grey. R., In utero exposure to steroid contraceptives and outcome of pregnancy. American Journal of Epidemiology, 134,(8), 15 Oct.1991 pp795-803.
18) Duncan, G., Harper, C. et al., Termination of pregnancy; lessons for prevention. British Journal of Family Planning, 15, 1990, pp 112-117.
19) Kippley, J., The pill and early abortion. All About Issues, 8, Aug-Sept 1989, pp22-23.

Patrick McCrystal MPSNI/MPSI
Pharmacists For Life International