Friday, October 17, 2003

Seasonale Proves the Earth is Flat--Part IV

In the last 4 paragraphs of the Seasonale: A Eugenicist's Dream article any pretense of logic is abandoned. No attempt is made to show us the alleged link between Seasonale and eugenics. Instead, we are "treated" to, and I'm searching for an accurate description here, utter nonsense.

One of the main goals of the Population Council, an international nonprofit "research" institution, is to "help achieve a humane, equitable, and sustainable balance between people and resources," i.e., to "stop those Third World people from procreating!"

The Population Council's stated mission is:

. . . to improve the well-being and reproductive health of current and future generations and to help achieve a humane, equitable, and sustainable balance between people and resources.

What does the Population Council do? It:

-- Develops contraceptives and other products to improve reproductive health;

-- Improves the quality and outreach of family planning and reproductive health services;

-- Conducts research on reproductive health and behavior, family structure and function, gender issues, and the causes and consequences of population growth;

-- Strengthens professional resources in developing countries through collaborative research, awards, fellowships, and training;

-- Provides a forum for publication of innovative research in peer-reviewed journals, books, working papers, and regional monographs.

Contrary to what the article says, the Population Council doesn't "stop those Third World people from procreating!" Oh, and isn't it telling that an article which purports to be concerned with the well-being of people everywhere would use the term "those Third World people"? Just because some people in this world, due to an accident of birth, are poor and live in the Third World doesn't give anyone the right to be condescending towards them, and even racist. "Those" people are not inferior to us! We just got geographically lucky and, if there is anything we can do to help out, we do it, simply because they are our equals, in need of help.

It all boils down to the old fallacy that the planet will implode if we don't slash how many people live on it, which has long since been proven untrue. But they continue to dupe the public into believing that we must use abortion and birth control to save ourselves.

I know, this is almost too easy to bother with! How exactly does the activity of the Population Council boil "down to the old fallacy that the planet will implode if we don't slash how many people live on it"? Based on all the available evidence, the Population Council is concerned with reproductive health and research on the causes and consequences of population growth. Why is a concern about overpopulation a fallacy? Has it been proven untrue? When? By whom? How does the Population Council "dupe the public"? What evidence is there that this is a continuing practice on their part? Most importantly, why is the assumption made that the public consists of a bunch of boobs (as in dolt, not bosom) which are easily duped? And how exactly does projecting the article's core belief "that we must use abortion and birth control to save ourselves" on to the Population Council make sense?

In keeping with this mission, the Population Council is a leader in the development of new contraceptives. The notion that long-term contraceptive regimens should be used to stifle menstruation was originally the brainchild of Population Council researchers; in particular, former council vice president and endocrinologist Sheldon J. Segal, who co-authored the book, Is Menstruation Obsolete? with Elismar Coutinho, a Brazilian gynecologist. Segal is also a member of a council division known as the International Committee for Contraceptive Research.

Long-term contraceptive (birth control) regimens, which have existed for decades, have never been used to "stifle menstruation". They have been used to treat a wide range of medical problems (painful periods, seizures, migraine headaches, bleeding disorders, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, etc.). Using them is considered the standard of care, and it's approved by the FDA. Drs. Segal and Cautinho's brains do not put forth the "notion that long-term contraceptive regimens should be used to stifle menstruation" in their book (Is Menstruation Obsolete?). I know this because I've read the book. But you don't have to take my word for it. This is part of Amazon.com's editorial review:

Is Menstruation Obsolete? argues that regular monthly bleeding is not the "natural" state of women, and that it actually places them at risk of several medical conditions of varying severity. The authors maintain that while menstruation may be culturally significant, it is not medically meaningful. Moreover, they propose that suppressing menstruation has remarkable health advantages.

The article continues:

Almost all of the latest propaganda used to promote Seasonale comes directly from Segal and Coutinho's book. The Population Council further pushes the concept through a plethora of recent pro-Seasonale articles from other council members, such as "reproductive health" researcher Charlotte Ellertson and Sarah L. Thompson, both quoted earlier in this article.

Contrary to the article's allegation that propaganda is used to promote Seasonale, the FDA's rules concerning approval and promotion of new drugs specifically require scientific evidence, rather than information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause, aka propaganda. Again, there's no need to take my word for this. If you want to see the medical evidence used for the promotion of Seasonale, contact Barr Laboratories, the maker of Seasonale, and request a copy of the Seasonale randomized, open-label, multi-center trial.

Also, if you're interested, take a look at Dr. Sulak's excellent review article: Should your patients be on extended-use OCs?

Oh, and one more thing. Dr. Charlotte Ellertson is a reproductive health researcher because she earned a M.P.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, and because she has, and is conducting research intended to promote reproductive health for women around the world. Again, using scare quotes around words does not magically cause reality to disappear.

Quotes from these "authorities" have helped clinch public support of Seasonale and everything it stands for. Barr and friends hope to see FDA approval of Seasonale within the year; their expectation is not far-fetched. It seems that the population control agenda is more important than the fact that long-term effects of a constant influx of synthetic hormones has barely been studied, much less proven to be safe and natural.

I am a patient person, so I'll say it again: just using scare quotes ("authorities") doesn't prove anything. (Well, OK, it does indicate one is ignorant and/or lazy, but it still doesn't refute facts.) What is the evidence that the FDA approved Seasonale because "the population control agenda is more important"? A PubMed search returns 1,956 studies on the long-term effects (and safety) of a constant influx of synthetic hormones. As to the "natural=as seen in nature" issue: it is natural for women not to have a monthly period, and the "long-term effects of a constant influx of synthetic hormones" causes women not to have a monthly period.

Finally, the article concludes:

If we really want to get to the root of what is "normal", i.e. what nature intended, it's not going to be what the feminists and population control elitists want to hear: Nature designed most women to be wives and mothers in the traditional sense; fulltime moms--not fulltime executives--who often have more than the politically correct 2.2 children. Sorry, that's just the way it is. And popping a hormonally loaded pill will never take the place of what nature truly intended.

Ah, let us, indeed, get to the root of "what nature intended"! (Please pardon my use of boldface, but this can't be emphasized strongly enough.) To determine "what nature intended" you have to look at what happens in the "wild", over an evolutionary significant (tens of thousands of years) period of time.

You have to look at what happens in the "wild" because humans are social creatures. This means the frequency of our menstrual period is influenced by both nature and nurture. The only way to separate nurture's (society's) influence is to look at our study subjects in the wild. Also, you have to look at what happens over a long period of time because humans aren't fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). For humans, we need to look at roughly 1000-10,000 generations (that's about 20,000-200,000 years). I'll go into more details in a future post, but for now the bottom line is this:

-- There is an established scientific method which is used to determine "what nature intended".

-- "What nature intended" is completely independent of what the article's authors want to hear (or, for that matter, of "what the feminists and population control elitists want to hear").

-- Nature designed most women (and men) to insure survival of the species. It didn't design women to be "wives", "fulltime" moms, or "executives" since such things aren't natural (all are social constructs).

-- The replacement fertility level (the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of a country's population) of 2.1 children per woman is a well-established, scientific fact, completely unrelated to political correctness. "Sorry, that's just the way it is", indeed.

The idea of being able to "induce" a natural state is silly, at best.

Why is the idea of being able to "induce" a natural state silly? The very concept of medicine is based on this idea-- once a natural state is disrupted (you fall and break your arm, your cholesterol level is sky-high, etc.), you/your physician induce a natural state (by applying a cast on the arm, taking drugs to lower the cholesterol, etc.).

The notion that is being promoted--that women must engage in the artificial practice of oral contraception in order to return to the "natural" physiology of infrequent menstruation--should be recognized as the quack medicine that it is.

Besides the unsubstantiated allegation that a "notion...is being promoted", this section also reveals a complete ignorance of the subject being discussed. Artificial fertility control (i.e., taking oral contraceptives to prevent a pregnancy) has nothing to do with using Seasonale for menstrual management. (I will elaborate in a future post.) You can not, credibly, judge something to be "quack medicine" if you lack even a basic understanding of it.

Unfortunately, many women are falling for it.

Actually, despite the article's implied conclusion that women are feeble-minded idiots, all the scientific evidence (to say nothing of common sense!) points to the fact that women, given the correct and complete information, are quite capable of judging the quality of the available health information, and making sound decisions on their own.

Hmm, what a scary and alienating concept this must be for people who write articles entitled "Seasonale: A Eugenicist's Dream"!

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