Questioning the Pill Triggers a Big Pharma Backlash

A recent edition of The Washington Post featured not one but two articles on the same day defending the use of the birth control pill. The press for defense of the pill came in response to young women who are taking to social media to report the many dangerous health side effects of the drug which they say were hidden from them by the doctors who prescribed it. Journalists Lauren Weber and Sabrina Malhi’s articles were accompanied by two video essays and a TikTok video purporting to address “birth control misinformation.” It is clear the outlet intends to go scorched earth against the growing anti-pill movement. 

“Search for ‘birth control’ on TikTok or Instagram and a cascade of misleading videos vilifying hormonal contraception appear: Young women blaming their weight gain on the pill,” Weber and Malhi wrote. “Right-wing commentators claiming that some birth control can lead to infertility. Testimonials complaining of depression and anxiety.”

Information on the ill effects of birth control has been around for quite some time. In 2016, a Danish study found a correlation between taking the birth control pill and being prescribed antidepressants or diagnosed with depression later on, affecting teens especially. The warnings about potential side effects to the pill are right there on the label. But until recently, diatribes against taking the pill were mostly confined to the right. For this reason, urges for caution were dismissed as a right-wing ploy to increase the birth rate or entrap women into child-rearing. Now, even Elon Musk is saying that, “Hormonal birth control makes you fat, doubles risk of depression & triples risk of suicide.” 

Many of the doctors interviewed by the Post were concerned there will be a wave of young women traveling across state lines to access abortions in blue states after opting for more natural methods to prevent pregnancy. The journalists and the doctors they interviewed appeared frustrated that women were making medical decisions based on the testimonials of influencers rather than licensed medical professionals. 

But in the wake of the COVID-19 public health fiasco, no one today—women especially—can be faulted for ignoring the advice of doctors and large pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from turning patients into life-long  drug consumers. Anyone with a four-year memory will recall when women were tricked, manipulated, and coerced into taking another drug these companies assured us had no meaningful side effects with respect to female reproductive functions. 

In 2021, ESPN reporter Allison Williams was fired from her job for refusing to comply with the company’s COVID vaccine mandate. The company required the vaccine even to attend remote events, and offered no religious or health exceptions. Williams, who was undergoing fertility treatments at the time, was afraid the vaccine would adversely affect her ability to get pregnant.

Williams is but one of many women who found themselves forced to put aside their worries about an untested vaccine, or lose her livelihood. Medical professionals at the time were hardly united in recommending the vaccine, particularly for pregnant women. The British government advised that “women of childbearing age should be advised to avoid pregnancy for at least 2 months after their second dose,” in their safety instructions for the shot. Nonetheless, Williams was fired for her refusal. 

More than two years after the pandemic began, a study vindicated women who were concerned the shot affected their reproductive functions. For many, the admission came too late. 

“Among 4942 menstruating females included in this study, females who had received one or more doses of COVID‐19 vaccination reported a higher frequency of back pain, nausea, tiredness, pelvic pain with periods, unprescribed analgesics use, and passage of loose stools,” the study, published by the National Library of Medicine, reads. “They also reported higher scores describing average and worst menstrual pain. Fully vaccinated females reported heavier flow and more days of bleeding.”

In 2022, author Naomi Wolf revealed through documents obtained via a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request that almost half of women in Pfizer’s clinical trials had a miscarriage after taking the vaccine. In 2021, researchers studied 39,129 women who received Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and other vaccines. Forty-two percent of the women studied experienced a disrupted menstrual cycle. Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer’s director of research and development, was caught on camera in 2023 by Project Veritas admitting the company knew all along that the vaccine affected women’s menstrual cycles. 

But the side effects of birth control medication have long been known and they fill the better part of a large newspaper page. They include common symptom such as increased or decreased sexual interest, vaginal inflammation, and nausea, to more severe complications such as blood clots, liver tumors, and blood and gallbladder diseases. Regardless, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors begin discussing birth control use with children as young as 11 and the most common age to start birth control for girls in America is age 16. And now, when a movement of young women wants to point out these strange incongruities, the full force of the media- pharmaceutical complex comes down upon their head.

Once again, women are left to combat pharmaceutical companies and their media lackeys single-handedly.

Oral contraceptives are still used by 14 percent of American women, according to a 2017–2019 National Survey of Family Growth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When all of media, government, and medicine have banded together to push the pill, it is hardly surprising that so many women believe it is both something that they need and something that is safe for them to use. Yet the pill is not only prescribed to sexually active women wishing to avoid pregnancy, but is pushed on young women and teens to combat everything from period cramps to acne.

Now that women are getting wise to the dangers of the pill, the media is going all-in to defend it. The last time this happened, women discovered that they were lied to and manipulated but it was too late for many of them to change course. We can only hope that more women see through the media misinformation frenzy this time.

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