Friday, April 30, 2010

What Birth Control DOESN'T Do for Women's Rights

I thought I would do something a little different with this post since this year is the 50th anniversary of the FDA's approval of birth control pills. In a "celebration" of sorts, PBS has made a surprisingly honest documentary called "The Pill" on the history of this form of contraception. 

It was once believed that only the male of the human species was responsible for creating life and a woman's body only provided the place for this life to grow. But in 1843 scientists discovered that it takes both the man and the woman to conceive. For human reproduction to occur, the male sperm must first enter a female egg. 

But it was not until the 1920s that a woman's fertility was understood as cyclical and the "rhythm" method of birth control was formulated. Women were thought to be fertile approximately midway in a 28 day cycle and scientists concluded that pregnancy could be avoided by abstaining from sexual relations during that fertile time. The problem with rhythm was that every woman's cycle is different. Not every woman operates on a 28 day cycle and many women do not even have what would be considered a regular cycle.

By 1930, science understood the role of hormones in a woman's fertility cycle. That same year, the Catholic Church issued its first statement in opposition to artificial birth control. Pope Pius XI called birth control a sin in his encyclical Casti Cannubii (Of Chaste Marriage), opposing contraception by any artificial means. In 1951, Pope Pius XII declared the rhythm method as the only approved method of preventing pregnancy for Catholics outside of abstinence.

In the 1950s, Dr. John Rock, a Catholic OBGYN doing fertility studies and operating the first rhythm method clinic in Boston (1936), met Gregory Pincus from Planned Parenthood. Pincus was working with feminist Margaret Sangar with funds from Katharine McCormick to come up with a "magic pill" for women to take like eating candy to prevent pregnancy. Rock already understood the role of hormones in fertility. Pincus wanted to use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pincus was not a physician and was thus not able to run human trials with his pill, so under the guise of a fertility study, he convinced Rock to administer progesterone to 50 women  so he could get FDA approval.

In 1960, the pharmaceutical company Searle  pressed the FDA to approve the sale of oral contraceptives and most Catholics believed at the time that it was only a matter of time before the Church approved their use. That same year, John Rock announced publicly that the Pill simply extended a woman's infertile period and that it should be considered an extension of the Church-approved rhythm method for preventing pregnancy. Finally, in the summer of 1968, Pope Paul VI came out with the decision of the Church on birth control in his encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). All artificial methods of birth control were condemned.

At first, it would seem that the pill was liberating for women. It opened the doors for women to pursue the careers they wanted. Women were now free to choose when they would have children. They could pursue work outside the home until such time as they chose to start a family. Unwanted pregnancies would be rare. Between the pill and Alfred Kinsey's supposed research on sex in both males and females in the 1950s, the sexual revolution was ushered in on a red carpet. Attitudes towards sex became more openly discussed. Free love was the mantra of the 1960s. By the time 1973 rolled around, abortion - the last resort form of birth control - was legalized and the new mantra became a woman's right to choose. We still hear it today by radical feminists.

Unfortunately, instead of liberating women, artificial birth control and abortion have only enslaved women. Feminists are doing the exact opposite from what they intend - if their goal is liberation in truth. So what is true freedom? One might define it as the ability to choose from among the goods at one's disposal for the benefit of all. You have to know what is good before you can be truly free.

One might even say that the Declaration of Independence describes it as right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness - not in opposition to others, but while giving those same rights to others. Any time one's personal rights intrude on the rights of others, they are not truly free for they are choosing for themselves over another. Choosing for oneself over another is selfishness, not freedom. Just because we CAN do something does not mean that it is right or good.

Choosing artificial contraception does not bring about true liberation for women. So how does artificial birth control actually enslave a woman?

  • Artificial birth control sees a woman's fertility as a disease when it is a gift from God. Sex was not intended for recreation but re-creation or procreation. It demeans human sexuality when it is seen as a source of entertainment and pleasure.
  • It denies both men and women the freedom of self-control. By defining human sexuality as something that is driven - outside of one's control  - it is no longer subject to the human will but to whatever outside forces may come along. It makes human beings no better than other animals.
  • It enslaves women to the sexual desires of men. As put in 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."
  • Women become sexual objects in pornography. Women unclothe themselves for the pleasure of men in the guise of freedom. The problem is that pornography becomes a means to an end, the end being self-pleasure. Women learn to sell themselves short for the gratification of men who are only using them. Pornography is a billions of dollars a year industry related in some ways to the fashion industry. Fashions have become more and more provocative as the years progress - even for little girls, who are subtly being trained to seduce men.
  • Artificial birth control also ties women to their own sexual desires as though her worth depends on her drive and ability to have sex.
  • Women on birth control pills are also subject to its side effects and they are many. As early as 1962, side effects were already known. Taking risks is not liberating; it's playing Russian roulette! So aren't women back to square one?
  • In addition the use of birth control often leads to sex before marriage and there are many repercussions as a result of that.

In their book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children, Dr. Joe McIlhaney and Dr. Freda McKissic Bush explain what we now know about sex and the human brain. According to a review of the book from the American Family News Network, powerful hormones released during intercourse leave an imprint on the brain. In women, oxytocin creates the bond between mother and child.
Oxytocin also helps females bond with men. When a woman and man touch each other in a loving way, oxytocin is released in her brain. It makes her want more of that loving touch, and she begins to feel a bond with her partner. Sexual intercourse leads to the release of even more oxytocin, a desire to repeat the contact, and even stronger bonding. . . . Oxytocin can cause a woman to bond to a man even during what was expected to be a short-term sexual relationship." So when that short-term relationship ends, the emotional fallout can be devastating, ...
Males have their own neurochemical related to bonding: vasopressin. It floods the male brain during sexual intercourse, causing him to feel at least partially bonded to every woman with whom he's been intimate. If men begin a pattern of having sex with partner after partner, they risk not developing the ability to form long-term emotional attachment. As McIlhaney and Bush put it: "Their inability to bond after multiple liaisons is almost like tape that loses its stickiness after being applied and removed multiple times."
The authors of Hooked also compiled statistics from various sources that speak to the ineffectiveness of artificial birth control among teens:
- 20% of 12-18-year-old girls who use birth control pills become pregnant within six months
- 20% of teens under 18 who use condoms become pregnant within a year
- 50% of teenage girls who use some form of contraception while living with a boyfriend become pregnant within a year
As the AFN article says, "Science now backs up what religious traditions have been teaching for generations." Abstinence is best.

The greatest teacher on human sexuality is surprisingly the late Pope John Paul II. Between 1979 and 1984, in 129 Wednesday audiences, he created an integrated vision of the human person - body, soul, and spirit in his reflections on Scripture (especially the Gospels, St. Paul and the Book of Genesis). His Theology of the Body, as it is known today, encourages true reverence for the gift of our sexuality, challenging us - both male and female - to live it in a way worthy of our great dignity as human persons. What birth control DOESN'T do for a woman's rights, Theology of the Body certainly does. Natural Family Planning and the Creighton Model System flow out of this theology. It is natural, there are NO side effects AND it is the choice of the Church. So let us choose what is good for all and live in the dignity of who we are as men and women who are children of God. From this pattern of living flow Life, Liberty AND Happiness.

Natural Family Planning with Dr. Janet Smith

Not Using Anything Is NOT Natural Family Planning

Improved Communication with Natural Family Planning
and Other Benefits of NFP

The Selfishness of Contracepting vs. the Blessings of NFP

Couples Tell How NFP Defines
the Differences between Lust and Love

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Thank you for posting this.