Inspired by influencers on TikTok, young women are abandoning hormonal birth control and seeking alternative methods of contraception. But not everyone behind the push to “natural” family planning has their best interests at heart.

Conservative religious groups and rightwing political ideologs are taking advantage of dissatisfaction with the pill to sow misleading information and further their goal of banning birth control completely.

Calling themselves “cycle awareness coaches” and “period coaches,” these wellness gurus encourage women to exchange “scary synthetic hormones” for herbal supplements and variations on the rhythm method, now known as “fertility awareness-based methods” or FABMs for short.

While the hormones from IUDs and birth control pills may cause unpleasant side effects like weight gain and acne, they do not increase a woman’s risk for cancer or impact her long-term fertility, as some on TikTok currently claim.

This pseudoscience has the backing of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Oz and Joe Rogan — who have deemed birth control “dangerous.” But vilifying birth control also fits neatly into the agenda of religious groups who have long opposed contraception.

While the Catholic Church has officially forbidden contraception, many Protestant denominations originally saw the pill as one facet of “responsible parenthood.” They believed it was a couple’s “Christian duty” to have only as many children as they could afford, nurture and educate. Only when contraception use led to more women working outside the home did conservative leaders withdraw their support for the pill.

Much of the current pushback against hormonal birth control from conservative Christians on TikTok is rooted in their conviction that “life” begins with the fertilization of an embryo. Therefore, any form of birth control that prevents the “living embryo” from implanting in the uterus is “aborting” it.

While this might be a religious belief, it is not a scientific one. Scientifically, a pregnancy occurs after that embryo implants, not before. In fact, 30% of embryos created never implant and another 30% only do so briefly before passing out of the body.

As OB-GYN Mimi Zieman points out in Ms. Magazine, “Anyone holding religious beliefs about embryos deserving protection should actively support the use of birth control. Birth control prevents embryos from forming in the first place and therefore prevents failed implantation and ‘embryo abortions.’”

While much of the information on social media stems from ignorance about how various forms of birth control work or the effectiveness of FABMs, a significant portion of anti-birth control content is part of an intentional campaign by extremists to ban the pill, IUDs and emergency contraception like Plan B.

Candace Owens lumped birth control in with vaccines as just another money-making scheme from Big Pharma. Ben Shapiro, who called birth control the “political third rail,” interviewed a guest promoting a flawed study saying the pill makes women more attracted to men who are “less traditionally masculine.”

Some conservatives employ the language of female empowerment to persuade women to abandon hormonal birth control. Turning Point USA’s Alexa Clark encourages female followers to assert their “bodily rights” and get off the pill. But behind such feminist rhetoric are conservative mega-donors with anti-abortion agendas.

Read the entire article at Baptist News Global