Why Contraception Is Not Justified By “Unwanted Pregnancies”

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As the Conclave was preparing to meet to elect our new pope, the news and Facebook were naturally full of all sorts of challenges and messages.  One stood out in particular to me:  A hope that the new pope would teach that contraception is acceptable in order to prevent “unwanted pregnancies”. 

I’ll briefly re-cap an earlier post in which I revealed that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider, opposed abortion (they began performing abortions after Sanger died in 1966).  She wrote that “the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization  (emphasis mine) in her 1920 book, Women and the New Race.  She believed that contraception was the cure to abortion. 

I also attacked Sean Hannity for publicly defying the Catholic Church on contraception with a false notion that it should be available until people learn self-control.  Just a reminder: Contraception is an enabler.  The abortion rate has been astronomically higher since contraception was legalized.  Both Sanger and Hannity are gravely mistaken.

Openness to Parenthood As The Truest Intimacy

A recurring theme throughout Love and Responsibility is practicing the difference between treating someone as an object of use and treating them with personal value.  Parenthood is one issue here.  Abortion is a reactive measure to an unintended, or for the sake of the discussion at hand, “unwanted” pregnancies.  Contraception is preventative.  This makes it much easier for a couple to focus more heavily on pleasure. 

In my earlier post about evolution and sexuality, I addressed the origins of monogamy as the predecessor to formal marriage.  Many people don’t like being compared to animals when it comes to sexual activity, so we’ll call it “primitive” instead.  Because of all the extra information we’ve been able to absorb a result of the growth of our brain over many millennia, we have a more developed intellect, an awareness of the internal life.  We also have the longest childhood of any species on the planet.  Humans developed the capacity, but also the necessity to love through parenthood because of all the nurturing and education a child required. 

Openness to parenthood makes sexual intercourse the deepest and most intimate union between a man and a woman (within marriage, of course).  I’ll admit that for a while, this whole thing about procreation made me a little uneasy.  I didn’t understand why Catholics typically have larger families; all the satire in popular media didn’t help.  After studying Pope John Paul II’s writing, it made sense.  When a man and a woman are open to the possibility of parenthood (reject contraception), they break through the barriers of lust, objectification, and sexual use.  Intimacy with each other is their desire.

The key word in all this is “openness”; not every sexual encounter guarantees pregnancy.  This is why the Church teaches about natural family planning, intercourse during lower points of fertility.  A couple can have sex au natural with a lower possibility of pregnancy, but they nonetheless remain open to parenthood. 

The Seamless Garment of Intimacy and Parenthood

I tried to separate parenthood and sex in order to argue this point so I could focus solely on “unwanted children”, but it is impossible to do so.  Openness to parenthood and sexual intercourse are intertwined in a seamless garment.  If true love is to exist, they cannot be separated. This is why the divorce rate has been so high and why “unwanted children” falsely justifies the use of contraception.  Openness to and desire for parenthood are why both women and men are traumatized by abortion and miscarriage.

The biological and psychological effects of contraception on love and attraction are worth analyzing, but the fact remains that it makes pleasure the focus of sex.  Contraception is not and cannot be about reducing unwanted pregnancies because it doesn’t.  It’s about the lack of self-control.

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