To many influential people, millions of women throughout the world are held in situations of poverty, abuse, and life-threatening risk by an intransigent Catholic Church insisting on an outmoded morality.
In February, representatives of the United Nations enjoined the Church to change its teachings on birth control (including sterilization) and abortion. Perhaps they hoped Pope Francis, like some engineer, would steer his train away from antiquated dogma into what they consider modern reasonableness. Except they don’t get that the Church – like a train – doesn’t have a steering wheel. It travels on a track from which it cannot derail.
Maybe they believe something is about to change. Because along with the UN, at least one American political party has discovered they need not worry that the majority of Catholic voters will take their bishops’ moral teachings seriously – even on abortion. So even though there is still significant American opposition to abortion, there are presumably growing numbers of Catholics moving away from the Church, who are increasingly sympathetic to whatever the UN thinks. Perhaps they can somehow bring about needed change. What about contraception?
The contraception – abortion connection
The UN purveying of contraception would be virtually unopposed, were it not for the Magisterium and a very few others mostly in the Church. After all, doesn’t it seem intuitive that good contraception would eliminate abortion and if nothing else be justified on this basis?
Except that is not what seems to happen. Why? Because contraception creates a demand mindset, that a woman has a fundamental right to choose not to be pregnant – no matter what she’s done, and no matter if it requires abortion. Thus what we have seen in the U.S. with spreading and efficient contraception is the legalization of abortion, then an even greater proliferation of it. See, contraceptives don’t always work – especially if improperly used – but when they don’t, the demand mindset to be non-pregnant is still there. Thus, as Planned Parenthood knows well, contraception actually fuels abortion.
Contraception preventing overpopulation?
The supposed world population explosion is one of the most politically correct and strongest reasons for contraception from those in power in America and at the UN. Yet Steve Mosher, of the Population and Research Council points out that there is no need to fear overpopulation. Indeed, in all developed areas of the world, populations are dropping. Affluence lessens the desire for children. It also creates a greater demand for limited resources – which is a major reason why, according to Mosher, the developed world pushes birth control including abortion, on the 3rd world.
There are challenging problems in worldwide resource allocation, but most are eminently solvable. Thus the world’s population would fit in Texas with each person allotted over 1000 square feet – high rise housing could improve this, and if you added Oklahoma… well, you get the idea. The U.S. census would be one billion with only half the population density of prosperous and beautiful Germany. With modern techniques, Africa could produce all the world’s food. Other examples abound.
Contraception and what else?
Missed by nearly everyone who sees increased contraceptive availability as the solution to many of the world’s problems are the social evils it has afflicted on the developed world. Contraception is clearly related to the epidemics of promiscuity, infidelity, divorce, sexually transmitted disease, and dropping populations. Less obvious but no less related are epidemics of pornography and illegitimacy – currently 40 percent of American children. How much more devastating would these ills be to the 3rd world?
The Catholic Church has been assisting men and women in all areas of human endeavor for some 2000 years. The UN, with it’s less than 70 years of such experience, shows a youthful frustration that moral considerations should block its simplistic solutions. Perhaps they deserve the Church’s parental understanding but not much else.
Natural family planning is more than an inexpensive, effective means of limiting families, indeed, it’s a mindset and a lifestyle, not just a method. Quite unlike anything else, NFP will raise the dignity of women, especially in areas of the 3rd world where such dignity is poorly understood. But its promulgation will require an evangelistic and laborious missionary effort that particularly encourages men to cherish their wives. Once convinced, these husbands will be positioned to raise great families, and their marriages will increasingly mirror the Trinitarian family.