A Vaccine Against Pregnancy?
in Huairou, China, for the NGO Forum of the Fourth World Conference on Women in
Sept. 1995, Beverly Whipple, FWHC Executive Director, learned about a new anti-fertility
"vaccine." This so-called "vaccine" is one of the newest birth
control methods being tested in India, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Australia,
Sweden and other countries.
The anti-fertility "vaccine"
is a good example of what is wrong with population control approaches to contraception.
Instead of giving individual women more options to prevent pregnancy and protect
against sexually transmitted diseases, this contraceptive strategy is designed
to be easily administered, to large numbers of women, using the least resources.
Unfortunately, programs designed to be easily administered by the government or
health program results in contraceptives that are not user-controlled, are potentially
unsafe, and are prone to abuse by being administered without full informed consent.
is the Anti-Fertility 'Vaccine' ?
Also termed "immunological
contraceptive" the anti-fertility "vaccine" is a completely new
mode of birth control. But unlike vaccines against diseases, which prepare the
body to react against harmful germs, this "vaccine" acts against natural
physiological substances. It actually reprograms the body's self protection to
attack substances that are natural to human physiology.
works by vaccinating against the female pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic
gonadotrophin) which is produced by the fertilized egg just after conception.
The "vaccine" contains a molecule in which HCG is linked to a diphtheria
or tetanus carrier. When a pregnancy occurs and begins producing HCG, this molecule
triggers an immune reaction against it, just as it would against diphtheria or
tetanus. The body is tricked into attacking HCG and the fertilized egg.
term vaccination is a misnomer. Vaccines against disease work by stimulating
and increasing the body's ability to defend itself against a specific germ. Worldwide,
vaccines have had positive health impacts by stopping the spread of many serious
Pregnancy, however, is not a disease. In effect,
the anti-fertility "vaccine" mimics an immunological disorder. We worry
about the long-term consequences of altering the body's immune system causing
it to react to a natural human hormone.
Irreversible but Unpredictable in Effectiveness
lasts for about one year. It cannot be stopped or reversed. However, because it
takes time for the body's immune response to build up, a woman will not know when
the "vaccine" begins to be effective. Likewise, the immune reaction
to the linked molecule drops over time, usually about a year, but the woman has
no way of knowing when it starts dropping. In other words, vaccinated women will
have no way of telling when or whether the "vaccine" is working to prevent
If a woman becomes pregnant during this time, it is unknown how
the altered immune state of the mother may affect the baby.
Potential harmful effects include auto-immune disorders,
serious conditions in which the body is unable to mount a normal immune response
and for which there are no known cures. Allergic reactions and hypersensitivity
may also occur because of exaggerated immune response to repeated vaccinations
of the linked tetanus or diphtheria. The severity of these reactions may increase
dramatically if the "vaccine" is administered over several years.
Consent / Potential for Abuse
Women who are currently enrolled
in clinical trials have not been given full informed consent. The consent information
they got compares the anti-fertility "vaccine" to anti-disease vaccines
without explaining that the anti-fertility "vaccine" alters, rather
than enhances, the body's natural immune system response! Women deserve to have
a full description of all the possible consequences in the native language before
they agree to receive the "vaccine."
International standards of ethics in clinical trials
state that human experimentation should only take place if the product being developed
offers advantages over existing options. Interference with the complex human immune
system for contraceptive purposes is indefensible in the era of AIDS and rising
numbers of other infectious diseases.
Who is Funding
Funding for immunological contraceptive research
is provided by the World Bank, the UN Population Fund, USAID, Rockefeller Foundation,
US and Canadian governments, and others. The major research teams include World
Health Organization, National Institute of Immunology (India), The Population
Council (USA), The Contraceptive Research and Development Program (USA), and the
National Institute for Child Health and Development (USA).
for Populations - Not for People
The following quote from a
leading contraceptive researcher reveals the woman-blaming attitudes in many population
control programs. "Immunological birth control methods will be an 'antigenic
weapon' against the reproductive process, which left unchecked, threatens to swamp
But we know that the true causes of high birth rates are
high infant mortality, poverty, and female illiteracy. To reduce population growth,
we must empower women with skills and resources for controlling their own lives,
as well as cultural and legal support for women's right to control their lives.
For too many women in developing nations there is no food, no health services,
no education -- but there are contraceptives, contraceptives, contraceptives.
of Contraceptive Research
Iimmunological contraceptive research
to end, and to redirect the research funding toward safe, reliable, user-controlled
contraceptives that offer protection against HIV/STD transmission. The decisions
to pursue anti-fertility "vaccines" were made without consulting the
people for whom the methods were intended; they must be involved. Furthermore,
higher priority should be given to improving and making existing barrier methods
more widely available.
For more information contact -
Global Network for Reproductive Rights
NZ Voorburgwal 32
Tel. 31-20-620 96 72 / Fax. 31-20-662 24
fourth of all women live in countries that prohibit abortion.
Feminist Women's Health Center