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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

 

From Arcadia Patch:

...What sent me to my local Planned Parenthood office recently was the contraception Mirena, an IUD that contains the hormone levonorgestrel, commonly used in birth control and the morning-after pill.
I had it placed more than three years ago following the birth of my son. A year into it, I began having health problems; my hair started falling out, acne plagued my skin, I experienced occasional urinary tract infections and my stomach swelled.
While I immediately recognized a few of these afflictions as possible side effects of the IUD, hair loss wasn't listed as a side effect in the literature given to me by my doctor. Although it’s now included on Mirena’s Web site, one must search for the information. With no answers as to what was going on at the time, I felt something was terribly wrong with me.
Depression inevitably followed. 
While even the elderly men on both sides of my family sport healthy heads of hair, mine was now coming out in clumps and a bald spot was developing front-and-center.
I’m 30 years old.  
Upon scouring the Internet, I began to see a common theme: Women losing hair following a Mirena insertion. I knew it was time to get the thing removed, despite a previous assurance from my doctor that Mirena wasn't the cause of my hair loss. 
Attempting to schedule an appointment with my doctor's office, which is inconveniently located several miles from my house, but is the closest gynecologist to me covered by my insurance, I was told I would have to wait three weeks to be seen.
So I called my local Planned Parenthood office and my IUD was out the following morning. 
I was not asked to pay a dime, and following a survey inquiring about the quality of my visit, I was sent home with a bag of condoms and plenty of information on other birth control options, including a hormone-free IUD. 
That was less than a week ago. My hair has stopped falling out, though it may take a year to grow back and regain its healthy sheen. My acne is calming down and even my stomach has already flattened. I’m not a scientist and can’t be 100 percent sure all that these maladies were caused by my birth control, but I feel free.
Because, what is freedom without informed choices?
When pharmaceutical companies or even the government deprive a woman of information, she is robbed of the opportunity to make the decision that’s right for her.
We don’t need the government marching into our doctor’s office — as so many conservatives are all too quick to point out until it comes to a woman’s uterus — we need them protecting us from harmful pharmaceuticals, a task given to the Food and Drug Administration.
Citizens can report a possibly dangerous drug or device to the FDA by visting the agency's Web site, as I did regarding my side effects caused by Mirena.
Perhaps something will come of it but in the meantime, I am once again grateful to Planned Parenthood. It remains a truly unique and invaluable resource at a time when religious views are affecting policies regarding birth control. Access to contraception isn't a question of women’s rights to be evaluated by a panel of old men and virgins. It's a health issue....

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