Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Would you like abortion, contraception or both?

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign and other post-abortion ministries have brought attention not only to the devastating after-effects of abortion in the lives of women and men, but it has also lead the way in exposing the complex and devastating emotions experienced by women who after years of contraceptive use realize that this too brings intense feelings of grief and remorse. Co-founder of the SNMAC Janet Morana brought much attention to this matter through her testimony.

For many years, the pro-life movement has skirted the topic of contraception for the sake of “unity.” Catholic pro-life organizations typically take a formal stance against contraception, under the guidance of Church teachings, but remain largely silent on the issue. Non-Catholic or non-religious organizations typically take no formal stance on contraception, though most people in those groups personally oppose contraception. Almost no pro-life group promotes contraception as a means of combating abortion.

Both groups recognize that chemical abortion is wrong. Chemical abortion is also called an abortifacient. This includes RU-486, the Morning-After Pill, and every chemical contraceptive pill or device, such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, the Pill, etc. With these medical breakthroughs (not advances!) the line is now being blurred between abortion and contraception.

While the abortifacient factor makes chemical contraception “more wrong,” over stressing the abortifacient factor of contraception fails to address the fundamental reasons why contraception is a grave moral evil. The use of any device or chemical in order to prevent pregnancy attacks the act of conjugal love between husband and wife. It almost sounds like pro-life organizations finally will proclaim their disgust at contraception now that it promotes the anti-abortion agenda. Teaching against abortion promotes the anti-abortion agenda in a deeper and more profound way because it promotes a full understanding of human sexuality in light of the Divine Plan.

A clear, concise explanation of the Church’s position on contraception can be read in this letter to the editor in the Charlotte Observer. “Love does not seek its own self-interests. It is about giving of one’s self to another. This is the essence of marriage, and of the sexual relationship between husband and wife.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting such an important topic for discussion! I really encourage this sort of conversation about NFP, and I wanted to share three points from a class I taught recently, because I think they will be helpful, combining both the theological and pastoral aspects of the issue.

    1. NFP and the "spontaneity" argument: Spontaneity is never 100% possible because even in the luteal phase the couple needs to decide when to have intercourse, and intercourse won't occur all the time! We are human persons, not animals who can't refuse our sexual urge. Also, if a person can't say no, then his/her yes means nothing. Someone who lacks self-control is someone who can't appreciate the truly good things in life. This person has become a slave to his urges.

    2. NFP vs. the contraceptive mentality: NFP is really not something that the world's mentality will lead people to live. NFP is counter-cultural, and includes a mentality that is both reverent of the procreative act, and reverent towards God. In fact, it is our Faith that helps us live NFP. For people who want to use it because of the "natural" aspect and perhaps don't have a Faith, it might become burdensome because abstinence makes very little sense without the deeper understanding that the love between husband and wife is meant to image God's love. NFP is a challenge at times because we have been so influenced by our culture, and to think that it will be an easy way of life is not realistic. We must consider how deeply the contraceptive mentality is imbedded in couples that they could "use NFP" in the same way as contraception for 18 years (such as the man whose letter is posted in the March-April "Family Foundations" magazine, pg. 26). Usually, a married couple with the contraceptive mentality struggles with giving of themselves totally to each other, with emotional manipulation, and with fear of pregnancy. On the positive side, however, couples who are open to NFP and may not be the strongest of Catholics (or Christians) in the beginning, may over time grow in virtue, and experience a profound conversion. Virtue begets virtue, just like using muscles that had previously not been used will lead to a stronger body!

    3. The Gospel passage of the rich young man, and Jesus' call to follow Him: We can apply this to our call as Catholic Christians to follow Jesus in the way of true chastity, which embraces marriage as a way to live purity: seeing the glory of God revealed in the naked body of one's spouse, and oneself. Recall also the Gospel imagery of the "narrow gate"--how our Faith is never easy. We know that Jesus' call is usually challenging for us, but He gives us the grace to do it if we trust Him. He calls us to holiness in ways applicable to wherever we are in our life: whether we're single, married, or celibate. It would be a fruitful reflection, I think, to ponder with gratitude the fact that He has made us docile to this in the first place.

    I hope this helps!

    In Christ's peace,