J.C. Willke MD
Norplant consists of six tiny pellets that are inserted under the
skin of the upper arm. These create a slow release of a synthetic
form of the female hormone progesterone. They continue to
release this medication over a period of five years.
to all the publicity you are seeing, this reduces her chance
for pregnancy down to one percent or less. You may have read
that different people have seized on it as a possible way
of cutting down on teenage pregnancies either voluntarily
and possibly even compulsory.
I would like to explore whether it is a contraceptive or an
abortifacient. I have looked through the scientific literature
pertaining to this rather thoroughly. Here is one: "The
rate of an ovulation varied between 25 and 80% over a seven
year period." Here is another one Feb. '90 in Contraception,
"in their testing 33%, ovulated." Another one from
Population Reports, "Norplant suppresses ovulation
in at least half of the menstrual cycles." The Journal
of Fertility and Sterility, July, 1991 said, "Almost
half the cycles among Norplant users did not ovulate."
August 1991, Fertility and Sterility , "During
the first two years 80 to 90% did not ovulate. By the fifth
year 55% did ovulate." Contraception March, 1985,
Norplant does not suppress ovulation all of the time, eggs
are released. So the question is, "Is there conception
or fertilization?" Most of these same articles describe
the drug's second effect, to thicken the mucus plug at the
mouth of the womb. This retards sperm passage. If sperm
cannot get out to the ovary, there can be no fertilization.
function is mentioned, the effect it has on the lining of
the womb. This is the one that sends up a red alert to us.
if there is no egg released there can not be conception.
This is contraception.
Second, if the sperm can not get out to the ovary there
can be no conception.
Third, if there is fertilization and this tiny new embryo
migrates through the tube, but cannot plant within the nutrient
lining of the womb, then we have a micro-abortion occurring
at one week of life. This is an abortion.
does act as a contraceptive. It is also clear from the studies
that conception can occur in as many as 20 to 40% of the cycles.
Many of these eggs are fertilized, but the embryos cannot
is a contraceptive, but Norplant is also very frequently an
abortifacient. It is more frequently a contraceptive in the
first years, it is more frequently an abortifacient in the
be accurate. Don't call Norplant a contraceptive. Call it
what it is--an abortifacient.