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08/16/2009

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Tim, Corey Whelan here. Have you been reading the most recent headlines about Atrazine and the EPA? Atrazine, a common weed killer, is an endocrine disruptor found in water. The EPA along with Atrazine's manufacturer misrepresented the levels of this chemical currently being measured in the water supplies of four states - one being Colorado. Atrazine, not the Pill, is the most likely culprit hermaphrodizing frogs and other fish in Colorado's water supply. Please scroll back on this blog page to read Jenn Rogers and Luz Guerra, to get more info on this issue. Thanks for reading us! Ken is an amazing writer and truly a singular voice on issues concerning infertility and Catholicism. I hope you will join The AFA this coming December when we produce an amazing webinar on this topic.

Corey, you raise an important point: the nuance is lost on most people unaware of the nuance of Vatican-speak. That's part of why it's so effective. They have the ability to say things that are not doctrinal in nature but still carry weight.

Jenn, I fully agree that the media around this issues seems skewed, but I also realize that the media is after the story with "sizzle" and this one definitely has it.

Susan, I see that your coping strategies mirror mine!

txsierra, you raise an important point about scientific studies. The study would have to be peer-reviewed and the results replicable under the same circumstances. Thank you for pointing that out.

Bill, I found Gary Wills book "Why I am a Catholic" a really good read, and recommend it.

Tim, I know how complicated these reports make things, but I actually welcome the mess. Stuff gets messy before it gets cleaned up. I think of it like sorting boxes in the closet. You have to pull everything out and in the process, it feels like stuff just got messier than before you began, because it did. That's what it takes to ultimately complete the sort, and end up with a reorganized closet.

Again, thanks to everyone for weighing in with your wit and insight. Much appreciated!

Ken

My thanks to everyone who posted and my apology for the delayed responses. My dad, coming up on his 84th year, just returned from his 6th cross country motorcycle trip to Sturges, SD. This time, just to spice it up, he took the trip following a month-long lung infection that required antibiotics to get better, then rode 450 miles a day in the sun with no sunscreen and short sleeve shirts. Rumor has it he partied like a rock star back there, then rode home. Two days later, he was in the ER with a blood pressure in the 202/118 range. One week later, he was back home, fully recovered. I'm both in awe of him and really angry with him. Rant over. Replies to follow.

Ken: This is a good forum for dialog and I appreciate the opportunity to way in on the matter. Health issues, environmental issue, moral issues are we complicating or complimenting our world? Colorado has high estrogen levels in our water supply and it is deforming the fish according to EPA and the cause is from the birth control Pill. I do not know if this issue is everywhere else or just in Colorado. I do know that men sperm counts are down 40% from studies done in the 1950's and the reasons most expert indicate its environmental. This is complicated stuff and effects both men and women alike. I think unfortunately, most of us live in fear and we make decisions based on that fear. It is a sad statement... for example when it comes to avoiding pregnancy or achieving pregnancy the choices many people are making pay little regard to their own health and more to what outcomes they desire. When looking at fertility or infertility this can be a real tough issue for couples. A struggle that at times blinds good reason and these decisions often causes further problems for the health and well-being of these people. How do I know this or why do I care... because my company Novuscor created a fertility management software program called FertileView. I deal with these challenges daily. I often say it is good be proactive and educate yourself because that is powerful medicine and the truth is people do not see the real value in themselves that we are a gift and so is our fertility.

Ken:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Vatican and its "problems" in dealing with reproductive rights, women and sexuality. I found Garry Wills' "Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit" quite illuminating on the Church and its errors in judgment. His followup book "Why I Am A Catholic" makes it clear that he is an ardent Catholic and wishes the Church would clean up its act and redeem itself for past mistakes (http://books.google.com/books?id=3CcGlcSdxPAC&pg=PA1&dq=Papal+Sin#v=onepage&q=Papal%20Sin&f=false)
Bill

I think Corey's point is worth reiterating, but it is important to point out this is not an true scientific study. In a scientific study, you would undertake an experiment to prove a point and minimize any bias. The Vatican's study is fundamentally flawed for many reasons, but a few main ones are as follows. First, it totally disregards the impact of other variables, or sources of environmental estrogen, like plastics, that are much more likely to be the culprit. Second, they are opposed to birth control in any manner, but particularly birth control pills. This pre-conceived opposition totally biases the results and makes them untrustworthy. Most importantly, this isn't even a scientific study. At best, it is selective literature review that is being used to support a political agenda which is to reduce or eliminate the use of family-planning methods.

I like your view point, Ken. I'd like to think that the Church is moving ahead with progress even if it in a small degree. And, your friend, the Italian priest. just gave me a tip on how to handle my dysfunctional Italian, catholic family! Thanks! :)

Ken--thanks for your thoughts on this. I was raised Catholic and can really appreciate the tone and attitude from which you write. I am, however, concerned with the amount of media attention blaming birth controls pills as the main culprit of estrogens in our water. A green contraceptive is something we should work toward but synthetic estrogen used in oral contraceptives contributes only 1% to the total amount of estrogens excreted by humans. As you state, I also feel that we, as women's reproductive health advocates, need to "stay in the conversation." Our voices, our perspectives, our frames, must be told in both the traditional media and on newer social media outlets like the AFA's blog. Kudos for addressing this issue--keep it coming!

Corey here. Ken, thanks so much for your insight into the Vatican's modes of communication. The thing that most concerns me about the Vatican's position on this issue - and in the public's mind it is a firm position, particularly since so much press is being garnered about this story - is that young women, both married or single who are currently taking birth control pills will feel personal shame about polluting the environment and will leave themselves unprotected, possibly experiencing pregnancy earlier than they are equipped to. Granted, we at The AFA would prefer, for reasons other than the Church's, to see people who are not ttc using condoms, but personal choice will still prevail here and young women may feel their choices diminished.

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