Thursday, August 30, 2007

Contraception's Big Lies

Some conversations are more surreal than others, and this is no less true for "conversations" that take place online, in a blog's comment boxes, than in real life.

I've been participating today in a conversation about contraception. You want the definition of "surreal"--just try telling people who have rejected just about every aspect of sexual morality in toto that there's something wrong with inhibiting conception using artificial means.

Rather than attempt in any way to reproduce these conversations, I'd like to focus on the big lies of contraception, and some ways to answer them. I'm open to suggestions, here, too--if you've ever successfully reached someone regarding the immorality of artificial contraception and can share your wisdom, please do!

Big Lie # 1: Contraception helps women control their reproductive health.

Response: Contraception has nothing to do with health in general or reproductive health in particular. A woman's fertility is a natural part of her; in a woman of normal health, the fact that a particular activity will lead to pregnancy and then childbirth is the very definition of reproductive health. Every form of artificial contraception interferes with this healthy, natural function of the human female body, and some forms can cause serious, even permanent damage. Some forms have been believed to cause death. Contraception is not about the health of women, but about making sure that they won't become pregnant. It is pregnancy that is seen as "disease" by those who see contraception as "health;" neither of these views are based in the reality of human female biology.

Big Lie # 2: Contraception is necessary to prevent, or decrease, abortions.

Response: Contraception does not reduce the number of abortions; in fact, it creates a market for them. People who engage in contraceptive sex believe that they will not conceive a child; depending on the method used, they could be wrong anywhere from 2% to 50% of the time. A married couple using NFP who experiences a "surprise" pregnancy knows that this might happen and is usually well-prepared to accept the child; an unmarried woman, perhaps in her teens or early twenties, who becomes pregnant due to a contraceptive failure is much more likely to seek abortion as the solution to this "problem." Contraception creates an unfounded belief that pregnancy will not occur, facilitating the "sex without consequences" mindset of the sexual revolution. When contraception is widely available the abortion rates tend to rise, not fall.

Big Lie # 3: Without contraception, women will be forced to reproduce more or less constantly.

Response: Sex should be reserved for marriage, and married couples should welcome children. Within marriage, though, it is not true that women will have ten, twenty, or thirty children each in their married lives unless they have access to contraception. The average family size in 1900 was four children, for instance. Some people who use no contraception whatsoever may indeed have large families, but others, for no particular reason, may never be able to give birth to more than one or two. Many things contribute to family size, but it's simply not the case that every woman will give birth "constantly" if contraception is seen as the evil it really is.

Big Lie # 4: Men oppose contraception, because they want to control women.

Response: Are you kidding? Men love contraception! (Some men, anyway--I know the good guys don't.) Contraception has created a world where it's possible for a man to demand a woman's "availability" without any consequences to him. Not only that, but if she does become pregnant, he can walk away and insist that it's her problem, not his. Even in a marriage, if contraception is used, an important bond between the husband and wife is shattered; he can, if he chooses, selfishly see children not as the natural and desired result of the marriage, but as his wife's frivolous and unnecessary luxuries, her choice, not his. The subject of when to have children, how many to "choose" to have, and so on becomes one fraught with tension that may further erode the marriage bond.

These four "big lies" don't even get in to the biggest one of all, the lie that contraception doesn't cause abortions--but that's probably an issue for a separate post, another time.


Jennifer F. said...

Excellent post! Thanks!

Red Cardigan said...

Thank you, Jennifer--and CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

freddy said...

Good points all!
Regarding #4, I've known some men who, sadly, find themselves trapped by this mentality. A couple of them have said that they'd love to have more children, but that their wives won't "let" them. What a tragedy! "Eat your veggies, dear, and remember only 2 beers, you're on a diet, and by the way, NO MORE KIDS!" Adds a whole new dimension to the work "henpecked," doesn't it?