By: Sr. Clare Hunter
With the Hobby Lobby suit going on in the Supreme Court, there is a great deal of “The Pill” in the news. It is certainly a hot topic, with statistics, medical information and lots of personal opinions coming at us left and right. Environmentalists and scientists have been warning us for years that women’s use of artificial hormonal birth control is not a private matter. In fact, it has worldwide effects. Not only are there moral implications regarding the use of artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy, but what about the moral implications of using a drug that can cause cancer in others, or change the ecosystem?
Studies show that birth control pills have a negative effect on the environment, and primarily the water system. Scientists report that “many decades of research have shown that when released into the environment, a group of hormones known as estrogens, both synthetic and naturally occurring, can have a serious influence on wildlife. This includes the development of intersex characteristics in male fish, which diminishes fertility and fecundity.” Water treatment plants are not able to break down the hormones excreted by women who are using the Pill: High estrogen levels have been found in rivers in Paris, and studies seem to show that in some places the levels of estrogen found in waterways are high enough to affect human health.
Here’s a fascinating study that questions the link between prostate cancer in men and the Pill. David Margel and Neil Fleshner, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, looked at contraceptive pill usage and incidence of prostate cancer in 88 countries around the world. In every case, they found a significant correlation between the two. Although studies continue to look at various possibilities, and findings are inconclusive, the scientists consider this a valid and strong component in the mystery of the increase in prostate cancer; the fact is that estrogen-like chemicals pass into the urine and ultimately make their way into the water supply.
There are consistent reports that show that the environment and human health are being detrimentally affected by women’s use of chemical contraceptives, which has environmentalists around the world searching for solutions. If findings continue to reveal these links, governments will need to step in to enact laws and regulations to protect innocent citizens and future generations.
The Catholic Church has spoken consistently on the need to protect and care for creation, as it is God’s gift. Pope John Paul II stated: “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.” There is a moral responsibility to care for God’s creation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”
 Susan Jobling and Richard Owen, “Ethinyl Oestradiol in the Aquatic Environment,” in Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation (Copenhagen, Denmark: Europa Environment Agency, 2013), 279.
 Wynne Parry, “Water Pollution Caused by Birth Control Poses Dilemma,” Live Science, May 23, 2012; and “7 Surprising Facts about the Pill,” Live Science, June 21, 2011.
 John Paul II, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (January 1, 1990), n. 15.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2415.