The Intra-Uterine Device: Danger for Both Mother and Child

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

The action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation [implantation] of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action.

                                                   Searle Laboratories, on its Cu-7 intrauterine device.[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

The newest brands of intra-uterine device constitute an ideal birth control method for women who, for health reasons, cannot use the birth control pill or the insertable contraceptive NORPLANT. The convenient IUD eliminates the daily need to keep track of pills and is effective at preventing pregnancy for long periods of time.

History of the Intrauterine Device.

Stoned Camels.

History has shown us that men (and women) display their greatest ingenuity when they are at war either against other people or against their own fertility.

Some of our first inventions were designed to kill people and to prevent other people from being born.

More than 2,000 years ago, camel drivers knew about the contraceptive effect of intrauterine devices. They would commonly insert small round stones into the uteri of their female camels in order to prevent pregnancy on long journeys.

Modern-Day IUDs.

Whether or not human females used this method is unknown. However, we do know that the first modern-day IUD, the Grafenberg Ring, was placed on the market in 1915.

Several other companies immediately saw the opportunity for profit, and by the mid-1930s, there was a proliferation of IUDs for sale. They sported intimidating names: The Sterilette, the Collar-Button, the Wishbone, the Silkworm Pust, and the Star. Some of the devices were of fine quality, but many were made of "... cheaper, noncorrosive metals, or of celluloid, bakelite, and chromium-plated metals rather than gold."[2]

According to one expert, "Sometimes these [cheaper IUDs] were claimed to be made of solid gold in order to enhance the price, and a few practitioners took economic advantage of the need and ignorance of women."[2]

The only IUDs now available on the American market are Alza's Progestasert (which causes an anti-estrogenic effect) and the newest IUD, ParaGard, produced by the Population Council and GynoPharma, a small "front" corporation set up to avoid legal liability.[3] The Paragard consists of a flexible T-shape containing copper collars on both arms and a copper coil along the stem, and is supposedly 'good' for six years.[4] The Progestasert, on the other hand, only functions effectively for about one year.[5]

Methods of IUD Function.

The Uterus As a Hostile Environment.

The contraceptive manufacturers, in their zeal to destroy women's fertility, have not had many good experiences with their intra-uterine devices. This is not at all surprising in light of the fact that the exact method by which IUDs function is not known.

There is no question that IUDs do not interfere with the menstrual cycle, the thickening of cervical mucus, sperm migration, fertilization, or ovulation. By a process of elimination, we can deduce that the only remaining mechanism by which IUDs can possibly function is by acting as an abortifacient. The fact that the IUD somehow irritates the endometrium and makes it inhospitable to the blastocyst is generally accepted among reproductive scientists.[6]

The G.D. Searle company concedes that "The action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation [implantation] of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action."[7]

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which must carefully study birth control methods before releasing them to the market, stated in their Text of Required Patient Information for IUDs that "IUDs seem to interfere in some manner with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterine cavity. The IUD does not prevent ovulation."[8]

In summary, every IUD currently or previously manufactured prevents implantation: they are therefore all abortifacients. In other words, these devices insure that the purpose of the womb is perverted completely, to the point where the uterus is as barren and hostile to new life as a desert.

An Expanded Definition of 'Abortion.'

The Catholic Church has recently expanded its definition of abortion to include new drugs and surgical procedures. This expansion has not been necessary until this time because such drugs and procedures simply have not existed until this time, and their invention has created a new 'grey area' that needed to be clarified.

The Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, on November 24, 1988, stated that abortion is not only "the expulsion of the immature fetus," but is also "the killing of the same fetus in any way and at any time from the moment of conception."

This definition of abortion includes the use of all intrauterine devices, which are all abortifacient and act by preventing the implantation of the already-fertilized zygote.

It should be noted that, in order for the sanctions (including excommunication) against abortion to be applied, the woman must be fully aware that the IUD's mode of action is abortifacient.

General Classes of IUD.

More than seventy different types of IUDs have been manufactured over the last half-century. Some of these have consisted of polyethylene with barium sulfate so that they could be detected by X-rays. The Dalkon Shield, which was withdrawn from the market on June 28, 1974 due to a number of maternal deaths, was of this type.

Other IUDs, such as the Progesterone-T, are loaded with varying doses of progesterone crystals that were usually suspended in silicone oil. This IUD released about 24 milligrams of progesterone a year. It was originally promoted with a truly Orwellian label: "The Uterine Therapeutic System."[4]

The copper IUDs (including the "Copper-7," "Copper-T," and "Tatum-T") discharge from 50 to 75 micrograms of ionic copper into the uterus each day. These copper ions interfere with the life-sustaining functions that regulate implantation in the uterus. Copper has been proven to be the active agent in these IUDs, because identical devices are ineffective without the element. The copper IUDs are effective for about four years.[9]

Studies of Early Abortions.

When a developing blastocyst reaches the uterus and cannot implant, it becomes the victim of an early abortion. This abortion may not be as spectacular or as bloody and messy as a late-term surgical abortion, but it is an abortion just the same.

However, the results of eighteen studies of patients with IUDs found that the devices do not always prevent implantation. An average 28.6% of all implanted pregnancies that occurred with the IUD in place were eventually aborted, and another 8.4% resulted in life-threatening ectopic pregnancies that required surgery.[6]

Scientists have confirmed this method of action with sophisticated radioreceptorassay and radioimmunoassay techniques that can detect pregnancy as early as six days after conception.[10]

Side Effects of the Intrauterine Device.


Until about 1960, the medical community generally criticized IUDs because of their obvious and severe side effects. However, this criticism was generally muted because birth control choices were limited before the widespread distribution of the birth control pill.

Alan Guttmacher, president of Planned Parenthood, stated in 1959 that "Intrauterine devices are mentioned only to be thoroughly condemned because of their ineffectiveness, their potential source for infection and irritation, as well as their carcinogenic potential."[11]

Although IUD technology had not advanced in the slightest, the entire medical community performed an abrupt about-face about five years later and began to accept the device. Interestingly, this change in heart was simultaneous with its flip-flop on abortion.


The Food and Drug Administration's Ad Hoc Committee on IUD Safety met in 1974 for the purpose of summarizing complaints received about the various IUDs that were on the market at that time.

The Committee received reports of 238 cases of spontaneous septic abortion from women who had become pregnant with IUDs in place. 21 of these women died. The Dalkon Shield was involved in 11 of these deaths and 209 cases of septic abortion, and the Lippes Loop caused 5 deaths and 21 septic abortions.[12] Overall, there were about 15,000 IUD-related hospitalizations annually in the early 1970s.[13]

In the most widely-publicized case, A.H. Robin manufactured the Dalkon Shield from 1971 to 1974. Documented reports of severe injuries began to surface almost immediately after initial distribution, and, on June 29, 1975, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that it intended to "... require special warning notices for users of the intrauterine devices, the contraceptives that were linked to 43 deaths in recent years."[14] A.H. Robin pulled the Dalkon Shield from the market in 1975.

By 1985, 13,000 women had brought suit against the company for damages relating to sterility, miscarriages, and pelvic infections. There were at least 14 deaths attributed directly to the effects of the Dalkon Shield.[15]

Ortho Pharmaceuticals withdrew their Lippes Loop from the American market in 1985. It is believed that the Lippes Loop interfered with implantation in the endometrium through foreign body reaction in the uterus. Therefore, this IUD was a true abortifacient.

G.D. Searle withdrew their Copper-7 and Tatum-T in 1986 when their liability insurance lapsed. The company also faced 775 lawsuits from women who suffered injuries from their IUDs or who conceived malformed babies when the devices did not function properly.

Predictably, Searle called the accusations contained in the suits "unfounded," a strange statement in light of the fact that Searle listed 31 side effects from its Copper-7 IUD in a 1977 patient information pamphlet.[7]

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

PID is a broad term referring to a group of infections that lodge in the uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes. This condition is not a sexually-transmitted disease (STD), but is commonly caused by the intra-uterine device.

About 15 percent of all women will suffer from PID at some point in their lives, and 1 million new cases are reported each year.

PID is a serious matter. About one-fourth of all outbreaks are severe enough to warrant hospitalization, and about 150 women die of PID each year. PID causes half of the 60,000 annual cases of ectopic (tubal) pregnancies in the United States. Tubal pregnancies account for about ten percent of all pregnancy-related deaths, and have tripled since 1965. The primary cause of this increase in PID has been the increase of gonorrhea and chlamydia.[16]

A single occurrence of PID causes one in eight infected women to become sterile. This probability increases to one-half of all infected women by the third occurrence. PID also causes reproductive abscesses, chronic pain and physical disability, and repeated illness.

The incidence of PID in users of an intra-uterine device is nine times higher in those who do not use the device and have not had children, and two to three times for those who have not used the device and who have had children.[16]

Additionally, compared to pregnant women without IUDs, those using IUDS have a threefold higher risk of spontaneous abortion. They also face a 50-fold higher risk of death from septic spontaneous abortion and a 6 to 20 times greater risk of ectopic pregnancy.[17]

The IUD and "Contraceptive Imperialism."

The IUDs confronted the anti-fertility industry with a number of insurmountable problems, the greatest of which was the proven danger of the devices. However, this did not stop the IUD manufacturers from turning a tidy profit by dumping their products the poor women of Third World countries.

Despite being faced with nearly a thousand lawsuits claiming damage from its Copper-7 and Tatum-T IUDs, the Searle company stated that it would continue to manufacture IUDs for women in the Third World.[18] This is yet another example of our country's "contraceptive imperialism;" the willingness to dump unsafe and lethal products on poor women of other countries that are too risky for informed American women.

This is an extremely serious matter with grave implications that are not immediately evident.

Women normally lose an average of 35 to 40 cubic centimeters (cc) of blood during their menstrual period, but women using a loop IUD lose about twice as much blood, and those who use copper IUDs lose about 50 cc of blood. This indicates that IUDs are not appropriate for use in developing countries, where anemia and undernutrition are endemic.[19]

Despite the obvious dangers posed by the IUDs, the American Public Health Association (APHA) backed Searle and other IUD manufacturers by launching a campaign to distribute IUDs to Third World women and to get the United States government to assume much of the pharmaceutical company's legal liability for IUD damages, thus exonerating them of any penalty.

References: The Intra-Uterine Device.

[1] Searle Laboratories. "For the Patient: Cu-7 Brand of Intrauterine Copper Contraceptive." G.D. Searle Company, August 1, 1977.

[2] Norman E. Hines, Ph.D. Practical Birth-Control Methods. New York: Viking Press, 1938, page 138.

[3] Bogamir M. Kuhar, Ph.D. "Pharmaceutical Companies: The New Abortionists." Reprint 16 from Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879.

[4] E.B. Connell. "The Uterine Therapeutic System: A New Approach to Female Contraception." Contemporary OB/GYN, 6:49-55. 1975.

[5] Judy Berlfein. "Birth-Control Technology Creeps Along." The Oregonian, November 15, 1990, pages B1 and B2.

[6] Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. "The Intrauterine Device: Contraceptive or Abortifacient?" Minnesota Medicine, June 1974. Pages 493 to 501. D.R. Mishell. "Assessing the Intrauterine Device." Family Planning Perspectives. Planned Parenthood, 7:103-111. 1975. Reproductions. Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, The Philippines. March 1975. R.G. Wheeler, R.L. Buschbom, and R.K Marshall. "A Rational Basis for IUD Design and Development." In R.G. Wheeler, G.W. Duncen, and J.J. Speidel (editors). Intrauterine Devices: Development, Evaluation, and Program Implementation. New York: Academic Press, 1974. Page 185.

[7] Searle Laboratories. "For the Patient: Cu-7 Brand of Intrauterine Copper Contraceptive." Chicago: G.D. Searle Company, August 1, 1977, pages 7 to 9.

[8] United States Food and Drug Administration. "Text of Required Patient Information for IUDs." Federal Register, May 10, 1977.

[9] H.J. Tatum. "The New Contraceptive: Copper Bearing IUDs." Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology. January 1973, pages 61 to 63.

[10] R. Landesman, E.M. Coutinho, and B.B. Saxena. "Detection of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin in Blood of Regularly Bleeding Women Using Copper Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices." Fertility and Sterility, 27:1,062. 1976.

[11] Harold Dubrow, M.D., and Alan Guttmacher, M.D. "The Present Status of Contraception." Mt. Sinai Journal. New York: 26:118-124. 1959.

[12] "The Dalkon Shield and the Questions of Safety." Medical World News, September 13, 1974, pages 58 to 61. Also see Catherine Breslin. "Day of Reckoning." Ms. Magazine, June 1989, pages 46 to 52. This article describes the inside story on the Dalkon Shield disaster.

[13] H.S. Kahn and C.W. Tyler. "IUD-Related Hospitalizations: United States and Puerto Rico, 1973." Journal of the American Medical Association. 234:53-56(1973).

[14] "American Public Health Association Launches Campaign to Save IUD." ALL News, March 9, 1987.

[15] Richard P. Dickey, M.D., Ph.D. "The Effect of Recent FDA Legislation on Contraceptive Developments and Safety." 15 International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 111-112 (1977).

[16] Julia Kagan. "Sexual Freedom: The Medical Price Women are Paying." McCall's Magazine, May 1980, page 104.

[17] Willard Cates and John Ory. "IUD Complications: Infection, Death, and Ectopic Pregnancy." Controversies in Contraception, 1979, page 187.

[18] Front Line Updates. "Searle Removes IUDs From U.S. Market." National Right to Life News, February 27, 1986. Page 4.

[19] F. Hefnawi and H. Aksalani. "Menstrual Blood Loss With Copper Intrauterine Devices." Contraception, September 1974, pages 133 to 139.

Further Reading: The Intra-Uterine Device.

American Life League. "The Birth Control Game: Gambling with Life." 
Order from American Life League, Post Office Box 1350, Stafford, Virginia 22554. How IUDs and the birth control pills work by killing new human life.

Bernadell Technical Bulletin. 
An excellent bibliography of more than 150 sources on the effects of abortion and contraception (including abortifacient birth control pills and IUDs) on fertility may be found in the November 1990 issue of the Bernadell Technical Bulletin, pages 7 to 9. Order the Bulletin from Post Office Box 1897, New York, New York 10113-0950.

Couple to Couple League. "The Pill and the IUD: Some Facts for an Informed Choice." 
Pamphlet available for 10 cents from the Couple to Couple League, Post Office Box 11084, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211. Telephone: (513) 661-7612.

J.C. Espinoza, M.D. Birth Control: Why Are They Lying to Women?
Paperback. Order from: Life Issues Bookshelf, Sun Life, Thaxton, Virginia 24174, telephone: (703) 586-4898, or from Our Lady's Book Service, Nazareth Homestead, R.D. 1, Box 258, Constable, New York 12926, telephone: 1-800-263-8160. Reviewed by Eugene F. Diamond, M.D., on page 32 of the February 1983 ALL About Issues. The eugenicists, the birth-control profitmakers, and the Neomalthusians have concocted an effective and pervasive propaganda campaign against population. This propaganda is filled with lies, half-truths, and distortions. Dr. Espinoza's book exposes the health hazards of artificial contraception and shows that safe and effective natural family planning is really the only way to go from a practical standpoint. Also available in Spanish as El Control De La Natalidad: Porque Les Mienten A Las Mujeres?

Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. "An Evaluation of Intrauterine Devices." International Review of Natural Family Planning, Spring 1978. 
Available as a reprint from the Human Life Center, University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio 43952. Telephone: (614) 282-9953.

Human Life International. Project Abortifacients
June 1991, 23 pages. This summary report, updated periodically by Human Life International, lists major quotes and many major studies on the abortifacient mode of action and side effects of the most common abortifacients: The birth control pill, the intra-uterine device (IUD), NORPLANT, RU-486, and Depo-Provera. Available from Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879.

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia Published by American Life League.