Ban Alcohol on the Grounds That It Is a Possible Abortifacient?


In today's New York Times, there is an article headlined, "Groups Equate Abortion with Some Contraceptives." Yesterday, a panel of religious folks testified before a congressional committee against the Obama administration's requirement (however finessed) that religiously-affiliated groups offer health insurance that pays for contraceptives. Part of their opposition results from their belief that some contraceptives sometimes act as "abortifacients." As the Times reports:

They contend that methods of contraception including morning-after pills and IUDs can be considered "abortifacients" because, these advocates say, they can act to prevent pregnancy after a man's sperm has fertilized a woman's egg.

"We object to the use of drugs and procedures used to take the lives of unborn children," the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, said Thursday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Their reasoning is that life begins the moment an egg is fertilized, and that if a contraceptive has the potential to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, it is aborting a life. …

… Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders say that if there is any chance that a method may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg they will oppose it.

Without arguing about the contestable science, assume that this does occasionally occur. How far are the believers willing to go to prevent people from engaging in activities that increase the likelihood that a fertilized egg will fail to implant? For example, a 2004 study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology reported that alcohol consumption by both females and males increases the risk of "spontaneous abortion." From the abstract: 

Depending on the intake in the cycle of conception and the adjustment factors, female alcohol intake was associated with 2–3 times the adjusted risk of spontaneous abortion compared with no intake, and male alcohol intake was associated with 2–5 times the adjusted risk. Only the adjusted relative risks for 10 or more drinks/week compared with no intake were statistically significant. Both male and female alcohol intakes during the week of conception increased the risk of early pregnancy loss.

By the way, some 60 to 80 percent of naturally conceived embryos fail to implant.