Depo-Provera: Injectable Abortion

The Depo-Provera shot is a type of hormonal anti-fertility drug that works at times as a contraceptive, but also sometimes as an abortifacient—a drug that causes abortion in some instances.

Women who receive this injection must be aware of the health risks to them and to a newly created baby. Here are the 4 key facts to know about the Depo-Provera injection.

 

1. What is the Depo-Provera Shot?

Its active ingredient is depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), a synthetic form of the natural hormone progesterone originally developed for the treatment of uterine cancer in the 1950s. A woman on this drug receives this drug as an intramuscular (in the muscle) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injection every three months.

syringe blue background, depo-provera shot

2. Depo-Provera Is Contraceptive and Abortifacient

The drug has three effects, only two of which are contraceptive.

Like most hormonal drugs, it can both prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to reach the ovum. These two methods would prevent conception. Hence, they are “contraceptive.” The 2010 patient information insert for Depo-Provera, however, says that it also “inhibits the secretion of gonadotropins which, in turn, prevents follicular maturation and ovulation and results in endometrial thinning.”1

When the endometrium—the lining of the uterus—is thinned, it is rendered hostile to the baby’s implantation. This means that Depo-Provera sometimes acts as an abortifacient, since it ends the life of a newly created human being who cannot implant and grow after his creation.

However, the updated 2020 patient insert lists only the first two ways and leaves out the fact that this drug does, indeed, thin the lining of the uterus. According to the insert: “Depo-Provera CI (medroxyprogesterone acetate [MPA]) inhibits the secretion of gonadotropins which primarily prevents follicular maturation and ovulation and causes thickening of cervical mucus. These actions contribute to its contraceptive effect.”2

By using language that obfuscates the facts, Pfizer is keeping women in the dark about what this drug really does to their bodies and to their babies.

 

The Debate Is about Language, Not Science

Many women opposed to abortion would be shocked to learn that the hormonal drugs they take, such as Depo-Provera, can also cause abortions at the earliest stage of pregnancy. In 1963, the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare defined “abortion” as “all the measures which impair the viability of the zygote at any time between the instant of fertilization and the completion of labor.” The accepted government and scientific definition of pregnancy said it began before implantation—at fertilization.

However, in the mid-1960s, in order to make abortifacients acceptable to women and to circumvent laws designed to prohibit abortion, pro-abortion experts changed the definition of conception from fertilization to implantation.3 Under the new definition, if a device or drug—such as Depo-Provera—prevents implantation, then no abortion takes place even though it acts after conception.

 

3. Depo-Provera Is Used for Population Control

Depo-Provera was approved for use in the United States in October 1992.4 In June 1993, however, Canada’s Department of Health and Welfare prohibited its use, saying that the drug did not meet Canadian safety standards.

Since it is controlled by doctors more than by women, population controllers consider the injection to be an excellent tool. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug primarily under pressure from groups concerned about the “population explosion” in the Third World.5

Depo-Provera is now widely used in many African countries. As with other abortifacients that may have posed a danger to Western women, the drug was extensively tested on women in the third world first. The World Health Organization used Depo-Provera on more than 11,000 women in Kenya, Mexico, and Thailand before submitting it to the FDA for approval. Depo-Provera was also tested on Zimbabwean women, many of whom were forced to use it afterward. Today, Depo-Provera is the most widely used injectable in Zimbabwe.6

Regardless of the detrimental effects and the dangers to both the woman and a newly created baby, those who see contraception as a “need” will continue pushing it on women around the world.

According to Fr. Shenan J. Boquet:

In 2017, the Gates Foundation pledged $375 million for “family planning,” with the goal of providing contraception [like Depo-Provera] to 120 million women around the world, particularly in developing countries. This was merely the latest of the many hundreds of millions that the Gates Foundation has previously spent on promoting contraception. Melinda defends her foundation’s emphasis on contraception by claiming that there are hundreds of millions of women with an “unmet need” for contraception.

 

4. Depo-Provera Causes Many Side Effects

Like all steroid drugs powerful enough to impair fertility effectively, this drug can cause a host of adverse reactions.

upset woman black and white

Pfizer’s package insert cautions women to not use Depo-Provera longer than two years, as prolonged use causes a “significant” loss in bone mineral density, which can lead to osteoporosis. In addition, the insert lists numerous adverse reactions suffered by women who use the compound.7

According to the insert, use of the drug may be associated with:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Thrombophlebitis (inflammation of blood vessels associated with blood clots)
  • Cancer risks
  • Anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reactions
  • Impaired liver function

Side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Menstrual irregularities or cessation
  • Nervousness
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Weight gain
  • Stroke
  • Loss of vision
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Blood clots
  • Convulsions
  • Allergic reactions

For more information on the detrimental effects of birth control—including Depo-Provera—read about the Petition on Hormonal Contraceptives.

 

Endnotes

[1] Pfizer, “Highlights of Prescribing Information” and “Clinical Pharmacology: Mechanism of Action,” Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection (Depo-Provera CI) Full Prescribing Information, October 2010, accessed November 24, 2014, accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/020246s036lbl.pdf.

[2] “DEPO-PROVERA: medroxyprogesterone acetate injection, suspension,”
Pharmacia & Upjohn Company LLC, December 2020, accessed March 7, 2021, labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=522.

[3] American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), “Terms Used in Reference to the Fetus,” Terminology Bulletin (Chicago: ACOG, September 1965).

[4] Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company, “Now Available in the U.S.: Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection,” Patient Information Brochure, December 1992.

[5] “Contraceptives: Case for Public Enquiry,” Economic and Political Weekly 29 (1994): 825–6.

[6] “Family Planning Guidelines for Zimbabwe,” Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, 2018.

[7] “DEPO-PROVERA: medroxyprogesterone acetate injection, suspension,”
Pharmacia & Upjohn Company LLC, December 2020, accessed March 7, 2021, labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=522.