Scare tactics and birth control

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There they go again!

Even though President Bush's political mastermind, Karl Rove, has been widely discredited for using scare tactics to manipulate voter turnout and elections, ardent followers continue to use them. I opened my E-mail inbox Friday morning to find the following missive from Concerned Women for America, a group founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of bestselling "Left Behind" series author and evangelical sensation Timothy LaHaye.

Mrs. LaHaye's group describes itself as a "U.S. coalition of conservative women which promotes biblical values and family traditions." Here's the missive:

The morning-after drug Plan B may soon be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be sold without a prescription, a move that could put women's--and particularly girls'--health at risk. The White House needs to hear your staunch opposition to this immediately.

Plan B is a super-high dose of birth control pills. The lower-dose birth control pills require a prescription because women with common medical conditions (which they may not know they have without a medical exam) should not take it. Birth control pills are known to cause blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

The truth about birth control pills and their side effects? According to the nonpartisan website hearthealthywomen.org:

  • Most common birth control pills contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin.
  • Older "high-dose" birth control pills were linked to serious heart complications, but newer low-dose pills appear to be safe in most women.
  • Birth control pills increase the risk of heart problems in women who have certain heart disease risk factors, including women who smoke, or have high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • The hormones in birth control pills can raise blood pressure--have your blood pressure checked at least once a year if you use the pill or the patch.
  • If you develop high blood pressure while on the pill, you may need to switch to another form of contraception. So, to say "birth control pills are known to cause blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes" is hyperbolic at best and inaccurate at worst.

    Scare tactics are alive and well!