Bioethics Blogs

Remote Control Birth Control

The goal of the Bill & Miranda Gates Foundation Family Planning program is “to bring access to high-quality contraceptive information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 without coercion or discrimination, with the longer-term goal of universal access to voluntary family planning.”  This is an extremely important endeavor and I’m glad that this program is devoting so many resources to achieving its goal. 

MicroCHIPS, a company based in Lexington Massachusetts, is one of the companies/organizations working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Family Planning program. They are developing a contraceptive chip that can be implanted under a women’s skin. The chip, just 20 x 20 x 7 millimetres, would deliver daily dose hormones and could last up to 16 years. The chip will be controlled by remote control so that if a woman decides she wants to become pregnant, she can deactivate the chip. When she wants to resume contraceptive use, she can reactivate the chip.

This technology has at least three significant benefits. First, it is long-acting so a woman doesn’t need to worry about contraception use during each sexual act. Not only is this convenient for her, but it also means that her partner does not need to be involved in or even know about her contraceptive use. Second, this technology is user independent so its effectiveness is not reduced by human error. User independent contraceptives (e.g. IUD) typically have much lower failure rates than user dependent contraceptives (e.g. male condom). 

Third, and unique to the contraceptive chip, is that a woman can continue to have this contraceptive in her body even when she is actively trying to conceive.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.