A Frank Ob/Gyn's Message

An honest assessment of all things medical and ethical.

Is contraception only a Catholic issue?

The bulk of this article came from a good family practice doctor friend who stopped prescribing contraception after discovering how harmful it is to women.

Too frequently, contraception is dismissed as merely a Catholic issue and one that only the most serious and devoted of Catholics care about. The recognition of universal truths pertaining to matters of human dignity is not limited to faithful Catholics.

To millions around the world, Mahatma Gandhi is justifiably one of the 20th century’s exemplars of wisdom and compassion. Few people know, however, that he was an impassioned opponent of contraception who spent decades writing and speaking out against the artificial birth control movement that targeted his native India in the early 1900s. Convinced that contraception poised a grave threat to women, human dignity, and the good of society, Gandhi’s many arguments for his position are summed up in one paragraph he penned in 1925:

It is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth-control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her. I urge the advocates of artificial methods to consider the consequences. Any large use of the methods is likely to result in the dissolution of the marriage bond and in free love…Birth control to me is a dismal abyss.

Forty years later on the other side of the globe, the opportunity arose to test Gandhi’s hypothesis. American scientists invented the birth control pill in the late 1950s, and the 1965 Supreme Court decision in Griswold vs. Connecticutmade contraception legal for the first time throughout the US. Within a decade natural sex became the exception in America and artificial methods the norm.

Evidence today suggests that Gandhi’s prediction could not have been more accurate. In a survey released in November 2010, the Pew Research Center reported that:


– in 2008, 52% of adults were married (vs. 72% in 1960)
– in 2008, 26% of adults in their 20s were married (vs. 68% in 1960)

– only 32% of Americans believe that premarital sex is wrong (vs. 68% in 1969)

-41% of babies born in 2008 were born to unmarried mothers (vs. 5% in 1960)

Gandhi was not alone in his prescient understanding of the harm contraception would bring. For almost its entire 2000 year history, all of Christianity (Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox) forbade artificial birth control, which existed in various forms, and warned of the danger it poised. Like Gandhi, this teaching was not based on religious dogma, but rather on a profound understanding of morality and human nature. How did we in less than 50 years almost completely forget this 2000 year old tenet?

As physicians whose mission is to serve broken families in a society where almost 30% of pregnancies are aborted, where over 40% of children are born into single parent households, and where over 50% of marriages end in divorce, we should have a strong professional as well as a personal interest in this issue.

The bulk of this article came from a good family practice doctor friend who stopped prescribing contraception after discovering how harmful it is to women.

 

Too frequently, contraception is dismissed as merely a Catholic issue and one that only the most serious and devoted of Catholics care about. The recognition of universal truths pertaining to matters of human dignity is not limited to faithful Catholics.

To millions around the world, Mahatma Gandhi is justifiably one of the 20th century’s exemplars of wisdom and compassion. Few people know, however, that he was an impassioned opponent of contraception who spent decades writing and speaking out against the artificial birth control movement that targeted his native India in the early 1900s. Convinced that contraception poised a grave threat to women, human dignity, and the good of society, Gandhi’s many arguments for his position are summed up in one paragraph he penned in 1925:

It is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth-control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her. I urge the advocates of artificial methods to consider the consequences. Any large use of the methods is likely to result in the dissolution of the marriage bond and in free love…Birth control to me is a dismal abyss.

Forty years later on the other side of the globe, the opportunity arose to test Gandhi’s hypothesis. American scientists invented the birth control pill in the late 1950s, and the 1965 Supreme Court decision in Griswold vs. Connecticut made contraception legal for the first time throughout the US. Within a decade natural sex became the exception in America and artificial methods the norm.

Evidence today suggests that Gandhi’s prediction could not have been more accurate. In a survey released in November 2010, the Pew Research Center reported that:

 

– in 2008, 52% of adults were married (vs. 72% in 1960)

– in 2008, 26% of adults in their 20s were married (vs. 68% in 1960)

– only 32% of Americans believe that premarital sex is wrong (vs. 68% in 1969)

-41% of babies born in 2008 were born to unmarried mothers (vs. 5% in 1960)

Gandhi was not alone in his prescient understanding of the harm contraception would bring. For almost its entire 2000 year history, all of Christianity (Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox) forbade artificial birth control, which existed in various forms, and warned of the danger it poised. Like Gandhi, this teaching was not based on religious dogma, but rather on a profound understanding of morality and human nature. How did we in less than 50 years almost completely forget this 2000 year old tenet?

As physicians whose mission is to serve broken families in a society where almost 30% of pregnancies are aborted, where over 40% of children are born into single parent households, and where over 50% of marriages end in divorce, we should have a strong professional as well as a personal interest in this issue.

 

–Dr. Frank (with help from a friend)

 

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