On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the birth control Pill, it”s eminently reasonable to assess its effect on our culture. In the following article, Fr. Matthew Habiger, O.S.B. of NFP Outreach calls into question the qualifications and neutrality of the Pill”s proponents. Even more, Fr. Habiger points out some of the ways the Pill has harmed today”s men and women.
For those wishing to learn more about the Church”s teaching on birth control and natural family planning (NFP), My Catholic Faith Delivered has an outstanding four-lesson online course entitled “Celebrating Humanae Vitae.” The course was produced by Catholic Scripture Study, with dynamic video segments by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.
Here”s Fr. Habiger”s fine article: [more]
Some praise it to the heavens
Much of the literature extolling the merits of the Pill comes from the pharmaceutical companies and Planned Parenthood. That is very strange. They are the ones who stand most to benefit from this multi-billion dollar industry. They have a conflict of interest and cannot speak without a prejudicial bias. Why would anyone look to them for an unbiased assessment of the merits, or demerits, of the Pill?
Would anyone give their unquestioned acceptance to the tobacco industry when they extol the merits of smoking? Should we not be suspicious of any study or paper that the tobacco industry produces to convince us that the latest brand of cigarette is a great gift to humanity? No matter how much money the tobacco industry has to funnel into publicity, and no matter how many times we hear or see their advertisements, the hard reality of all the medical damage that smoking causes to smokers does not change.
Why would anyone in their right mind not have reservations–and suspicions–about groups whose livelihood depends upon the sales of the Pill and other contraceptives? Should we not look to independent, disinterested, and non-profiting groups to provide us with a reliable assessment of the Pill? [more]
The pharmaceutical companies and Planned Parenthood sing the praises of the Pill to the heavens. Why? Because it is a great cash cow for them. Contraceptives are a multi-billion dollar industry.
But is every technological advancement a true sign of progress? Was the discovery and use of the machine gun and mustard gas during World War I a true sign of progress? If we have new forms of technology, does that mean we must use them? We have the hydrogen bomb. Should we ever use it? We can clone animals. Should we ever clone human persons?
Now we can suppress, or destroy, our fertility. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, a blessing or a curse?
So-called advantages of the Pill
- The Pill separates fertility from sex so that one can pursue sexual pleasure without the responsibility of a pregnancy.
- The Pill makes it possible for a man or woman to have sex anytime, with anyone, and not get pregnant.
- It allows a woman to pursue a career, have sex, and not to be bothered with a baby or a family. She is just like a man. But is that an advantage?
- It makes life easy for men. Now they can have all the sex they want, and have no responsibility for a baby that they would otherwise be begetting. So why get married? Many men now postpone marriage, or never marry. When they reach old age, who will take care of them, or be interested in them?
The Pill has been prescribed for many things. It is like a panacea. Some doctors prescribe it for acne, irregular cycles (which does not address the real underlying problems), and, of course, as a contraceptive for young girls who are already having sex. Some doctors want young girls to start taking the Pill as soon as they begin to have their cycles, “just in case.”
A balanced assessment
Sterilized sex is not the unqualified good suggested by Planned Parenthood and its cohorts. There are many, many harms and damages that result when we turn against our fertility.
Our fertility is a blessing, not a curse. When God designed us as bodied persons, male or female, He made us to be both fertile and sexual. He wants us to “be fertile and multiply,” to marry and have a family, to share life with the next generation.
Sex was designed by God to be both love-giving and life-giving. Pleasure sought only for its own sake is called hedonism. This is a weakness, not a virtue; a lack of character, not a builder of character. God designed sex to be expressed between a man and a woman, who are totally committed to each other. Sex belongs in marriage. Only there does it express and accomplish what it was meant to express and accomplish. Contraception interferes with all this. How?
The spousal act means that a spouse makes the total personal gift of self, of the man or woman, to the other. This total personal gift of self includes the heart, body, mind, soul, and will: the total person. And this includes their fertility. There are no conditions, no reservations, and nothing held back.
The Pill (contraception in general) and sterilized sex go together. It is repugnant to God and degrading to those who engage in it. Spousal love was meant to be the great symbol of total self-surrender between a husband and wife. But with the Pill, all this is reduced to recreational sex. Sterilized sex is unnatural. It has brought great harm to our bodies, to our marriages, to our families, to our national life, and even to our natural environment. It is a major reason for the shortage today of priests and religious.
Dr. Rebecca Becks, M.D., is a married woman, with 5 children. Recently she wrote: “Why was the Pill first introduced by Dr. John Rock back in 1960? Wasn’t it to help women make their lives a little easier? Wasn’t it to strengthen marriage? Wasn’t it to make abortion a rare occurrence? And wasn’t it to improve society in general? And now, 50 years later, have those objectives been achieved? NO, on all counts.
“Birth control pills can cause serious medical problems. This category of pills has been shown to cause: death, pulmonary embolus, blood clots, stroke, migraines, increased rates of cervical cancer, increased sexual transmitted diseases (including HPV, Herpes and HIV), and prolonged infertility, including a whole host of minor symptoms which can become severe, such as depression.
“I stopped prescribing the Pill three years ago in part, because I couldn’t stand to see one more stroke victim, one more STD, one more cervical or breast cancer case, or one more “backup abortion” for failed contraceptives. The main reason, though, that I stopped prescribing and using birth control, was because I understood through my Catholic faith, Humanae Vitae and the Theology of the Body, that birth control is bad for women because it is against God’s plan for human sexuality and marriage.”
The Pill destroys real love. Real love is creative and fertile. It is also demanding: it demands patience, kindness, and “endures all things.” Only this kind of love can become the firm foundation of a strong marriage and a happy family. It is a foundation to “endure all things.”
Radical feminism and believers in women’s liberation praise the Pill for a new found freedom. But this is a false freedom, a freedom without responsibility. You can have sex and you don’t have to have a baby. Then you can climb the corporate ladder without encumbrance. If you get pregnant, you can have a backup abortion. But this is utilitarianism, the very opposite of love. It is using people as things for happiness. This concept of freedom when embraced by an entire society becomes a permanent threat to the family.
After 50 years of birth control we find these results. (1) Marriages are crumbling instead of being strengthened, as the Pill proponents promised. (2) The race for women’s liberation, for freedom and control over their bodies, has made casualties of the unborn, and of children who get a single mother exhausted by work and overwhelmed by the burdens of raising a child alone.
Here is the paradox of the Pill. It was thought that the Pill would make abortions rare. The reality is that they have increased exponentially. The Pill was introduced to strengthen marriage. But the reality is that half of all contracepting couples get divorced. People thought that the Pill would strengthen the American family. The reality is that the family is slowly being demolished.
What we need to do
We need to wake up and call the Pill what it really is: the destroyer of love, of marriages, and of families.
Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae #58: “Today we need to look the truth in the eye and call things by their proper name, without resorting to compromises or yielding to the temptation of self-deception.”
Our marriages and family life are falling apart. Consider these undeniable facts:
50% divorce rate
40% of children today are born to unmarried mothers
There were 90 million unmarried and single Americans in 2005. This group comprises 41% of all U.S. residents age 18 and older.
10.5 million single moms
5 million unmarried-households in 2005
One out of four pregnancies are surgically aborted and there are many, many more early-on, chemical abortions.
Think of all the harm and pain that these factors bring to marriages, to any sense of permanent commitments, to spouses, to their children and their families. A nation is only as strong as its family life. Take a good look at our marriages and family life today. On the 50th anniversary of the Pill, we need to look at contraception again, and objectively assess what it has done to our lives, to our marriages, and to our families.
We need to go on the offensive, as well as go on the defensive. On the defense, we point to the irrefutable harms that the Pill and contraception have brought us. On the offense, we point to the beautiful plan that God has for marriage, spousal love and the family. This plan is completely doable if both spouses avail themselves of all the aids and helps that God provides for them. Natural Family Planning encapsulates this plan, and makes is possible for a married couple to space their pregnancies responsibly, while always treasuring the gift of the child.
I recommend that people visit our website, www.nfpoutreach.org, and discover the wealth of materials there that explain the harms of contraception and the benefits of NFP and God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family. Click on “NFP Q&A,” and you will find 120 of my columns which explain the many aspects of contraception and NFP. They are free and copy ready. Use them as you wish. They make good newspaper columns, parish bulletin inserts, and radio commentary. At NFP Outreach we help you find the materials you need to be an active player on the field in the game of advancing the culture of life while exposing and resisting the culture of death. Consider also having an NFP Parish Mission at your parish. Call us at 405-942-4084.