By Judie Brown
Little girls used to dream of the day when they would meet a man, fall in love, get married, and have children of their own. They would live their lives with a man who cherished them, loved them, and honored them. And this was reality for countless women—in the past. Today’s reality is far askew of this and it makes this desire seem almost like a fairy tale. What has happened to our society to effect this change? Today’s commentary examines the reasons.
Contraception has ensnared women in more ways than one. According to many cultural propagandists, it has become part of their American heritage even though, truth be told, women are the ones who suffer and even die because of it.
The truth is that contraception has become the cornerstone of culture decay—a decline that never had to occur if only Catholics in particular had paid attention to a prophet by the name of Pope Paul VI. He warned us more than 40 years ago in his profound encyclical, Humanae Vitae: “A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
The year was 1968 and the issuance of this encyclical fell on deaf or dissenting ears by the vast majority of bishops, priests, and others who were and are in positions to teach the truth to Catholics. As sad as it was at the time, my own personal experience in 1969 testifies to this fact. During a personal discussion with my own pastor, he explained that Church teaching on contraception allowed for the use of birth control. Being totally naïve and searching for a way to avoid having another baby right away, I believed the priest. To this very day, I rue that decision. I have no idea how many silent abortions occurred in my body, nor do I know whether or not those chemicals contributed to the ovarian cancer I had in 1984.
But that was a long time ago and people’s attitudes have changed. In fact, most polls confirm that the majority of Catholics actually believe that the use of contraception is morally acceptable. While there may be some who would argue that such statistics are based on inaccurate characterizations of “which” Catholics are being polled or surveyed, that does not mask the reality. Regardless of how you figure it, most Catholics mirror the attitudes and practices shared by the general population.
This is compounded by the political reality that, because birth control is considered a “settled” matter, most pro-life groups prefer not to address contraception or the evils of in vitro fertilization. It is deemed impractical and the argument is made that abortion can be opposed without getting involved in these subjects.
As erroneous as such a viewpoint is, given the evidence to the contrary, it is the prevailing opinion. It is a perspective that must change.
American perspectives on sexual morality these days are so far off the mark it boggles the mind. Women demand “reproductive rights,” and their male counterparts wholeheartedly concur because sexual gratification without responsibility is the number one goal for many—married or single. But like it or not, women are the ones who experience failed birth control resulting in what is termed “unwanted” pregnancy. Women are the ones choosing to kill their preborn babies. Women are the ones who suffer depression, sorrow, and even death from the aftereffects of contraception and abortion and, dare I say it, women are the ones contracting sexually transmitted diseases because the pill doesn’t protect them from such infections.
In other words, birth control is a failed experiment that is nonetheless commonplace. Apparently when it comes to sex, ignorance is bliss. This is why those of us who realize this fact are working to sound the alarm. For, as long as the contraceptive mentality flourishes, abortion will remain unscathed.
Most recently Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, issued a convincing invitation calling for unity in charity and truth. His words speak to an urgency we dare not ignore: “We need to stop ignoring this truth in the search of some shallow consensus built on error. The only true human unity occurs in truth, otherwise our unity is based on use or convenience, and is dispensed with as soon as it becomes inconvenient.”
What is required of us at this crucial time is obvious. We are called to speak clearly and truthfully with patience and love. Too many lives have been shattered, destroyed, and broken because of our own weakness on the subject of contraception and its undeniable connection to the sexual degradation that surrounds us. We can and we must right this wrong.
It is long past time to help women, in particular, see the devastation that contraception has wrought. We must strive to lift the veil of sorrow by shining light on what we know is true.
Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.