It was most interesting to read Michael Northcott's exhortation that "Pro-life should mean saying no to pollutants." (Clouds of Witness 1/9/07)
He argues that ecological issues have been neglected by recent papal teaching on the basis that 'John Paul II believed the greatest moral challenge was...threats to pre-natal human life and efforts to restrain population growth.' But I find this does not stand up to scrutiny when scientific evidence [which many environmentalists choose to ignore] points precisely to the threat to the environment by the chemical pollutants caused by the synthetic hormones in contraceptive pills and devices.
One recalls the shocking evidence of the scientists from the University of Denver Colorado in 2005 and which again was highlighted in July this year;who studied mutant "intersex" fish in Boulder Creek and concluded the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city's sewage system. Since their findings, stories have been emerging everywhere in the US. Scientists in western Washington found that synthetic estrogen - a common ingredient in oral contraceptives - drastically reduces the fertility of male rainbow trout. Doug Myers, wetlands and habitat specialist for Washington State's Puget Sound Action Team, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that in frogs, river otters and fish, scientists are "finding the presence of female hormones making the male species less male."
I very much doubt we are immune from such effects on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps upsetting the delicate balance of the eco-system of our waterways might not figure much in some peoples minds on the grand scale of problems resulting from environmental pollution. But according to Pope Benedict "..our earth, speaks to us and we must listen if we want to survive and to decipher this message of the earth. And if we must be obedient to the voice of the earth, this is even truer for the voice of human life." (Meeting with Italian Clergy 24/07/07)
Director, Department for Pastoral Affairs Diocese of Westminster
Thursday, 6 September 2007
This letter was sent to the Tablet but not published. (I'm always happy to publish good letters that somehow do not get to be published in that forum.)