Think Contraception Prevents Abortion? New Study Says, “You’re Wrong.”

shutterstock--The PillYou’ve probably heard the slogan, “You can’t be opposed to both abortion and contraception.”  Or, alternatively, the accusation,  “If you opposed abortion, why don’t you support greater access to contraception?”  The idea, of course, being that if everyone was on the Pill, we wouldn’t have abortions anymore.  Well, a new study by Britain’s most prominent abortion provider, British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), shows just how wrong that is.

It turns out that over half of women (51%) who procure abortions do so because of the failure of their contraceptive method.  In fact, the study of over 60,000 women, found that contraceptive use contributes to a greater likelihood that women will have later term abortions (20 weeks and later) because they assume they can’t get pregnant using contraception and miss early pregnancy signs as a result.  Late-term abortions are not only more morally objectionable to the general public, they also carry higher health risks for the mother.

In response the study, Anna Furedi, BPAS chief executive said, “Our data shows women cannot control their fertility through contraception alone, even when they are using some of the most effective methods. Family planning is contraception and abortion. Abortion is birth control that women need when their regular method lets them down.”

This finding comes on the heels of an earlier study that found that when the UK decreased funding for contraceptive services, unintended  pregnancy rates actually decreased as well–in direct contradiction to dire predictions by family planning agencies.

And again, the reason for this is that the efficacy of artificial means of family planning are oversold.  Women are led to believe that as long as they are “practicing safe sex” and using one form of artificial contraception or another, they cannot get pregnant.  But because of  both the built-in risk of method failure and life circumstances that prevent perfect use of contraceptives in the real world–many women using artificial means of contraception can find themselves pregnant and scared.  They are, in essence, being set up to feel that they need abortion by the very agencies that promote contraception and abortion services.

Again, Ms. Furedi says, “When you encourage women to use contraception, you give them the sense that they can control their fertility – but if you do not provide safe abortion services when that contraception fails you are doing them a great disservice.”

The research is clear.  Artificial contraception use increases the likelihood of both unintended pregnancy and abortion and, in fact, increases the potential that a woman will choose a higher-risk, later-term abortion because of her misplaced confidence in her method of artificial contraception.

Despite what the anti-science left would have you believe, the only way to be truly opposed to abortion is to oppose artificial contraception and promote life-affirming, relationship-building methods of family planning, like Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods. To learn more about you can experience a healthier, happier, and more graceful sexual life, check out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide To Mind-Blowing, Toe-Curling, Infallible Loving. 

Hormonal Contraception Affects Future Children’s Health (UPDATED)

Image via

Image via

A new study published in the journal, Evolution Psychological Science found that hormonal contraceptives make women prone to choose mates with an immune system to their own.  This study found that children born to these couples are more sickly, more susceptible to common illnesses, and require more trips to the doctor do children of women who were not on the pill when they chose a mate.

According to one of the authors of the study,

One cue for mate suitability is odor, which signals compatibility between potential mates’ immune systems. Specifically, odor indicates the extent of overlapping between potential mates’ immune systems, such that more attractive odor signals less overlap between mates’ immune systems. The larger the dissimilarity between mates’ immune systems, the more threats the immune system can combat…..

Unfortunately, contraceptive pill use interferes with mate selection and reverses the natural preference for mates with dissimilar immune system, such that women prefer the odor of partners with similar immune system over that of partners with dissimilar immune system while on contraceptive pills2. This shift in preferences corresponds to the one occurring across the menstrual cycle. In particular, naturally cycling women experience male preference shift throughout their menstrual cycle that helps them obtain resources relevant to their current fertility status (fertile versus infertile).

…Results have revealed that children to mothers who were on the pill are more infection-prone, require more medical care, suffer from a higher frequency of common sicknesses, and are perceived as generally less healthy than children whose parents met on non-pill circumstances. These findings indicate that a key factor in securing children’s future might be traced to a choice people made years before their children were born: the decision to use a contraceptive pill. 

The aftermath of these numbers is gloomy: The immune system of current-generation children might be more fragile than that of our ancestors, leaving the current and future generations more susceptible to pathogens and more dependent on medical care as its effective line of defense.

Previously on this blog, I have shared the mounting research demonstrating that the Pill leads to a host of medical and behavioral complications, that the Pill use leads to an exponentially higher rate of depression for women in general and teen girls in particular,  and that the Pill is bad for the environment.  Now we find that the Pill is poisoning future generations of children, making them more susceptible to disease, increasing the need for more antibiotic use, which leads to the evolution of more antibiotic resistant superbugs.  The Pill is, literally, killing us.

How much longer will people continue to perpetuate the myth that Hormonal Contraceptives are a safe, healthy means of promoting “reproductive freedom.”  True freedom comes from knowledge.  Natural Family Planning gives women the knowledge they need about their bodies to exercise TRULY healthy, safe, ethical choices about family planning.   NFP is not without its challenges, but at least it isn’t poisoning you, the environment, and your future children’s health.  In fact NFP promotes good health practices by giving women better knowledge about how their bodies work and when they are not working properly.  NFP promotes healthy mate selection by letting women know in advance if a man is too immature or selfish to be a good mate. It strengthens relationships by making couples do the hard work true intimacy requires.  It is good for the environment because it is completely natural.  And it does not jeopardize your future children’s health in any way.

The truth will set you free.  The sooner the world acknowledges the truth of Catholic teaching that rejects artificial means of contraception in favor of Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods, the sooner we will all be free to live healthier, happier lives. To discover how you can experience the joy and freedom that comes from living the Catholic vision of love, check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-blowing, Infallible Loving.

(Note: the original article neglected proper citations. That has been corrected.  I regret the error and thank my conscientious readers for bringing it to my attention.)

Secular Media Finally Admits: “The Pill” Causes Depression & Relationship Problems

shutterstock--The Pill

Despite a new Pew survey reporting that only 4% of Americans and 13% of weekly Mass attending Catholics in the US think that contraception is morally wrong,  “the Pill” is getting belated, but well-deserved, bad press from surprising sources.

Harvard psychology professor and Playboy Magazine columnist, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, is reporting on research I mentioned the other day indicating that hormonal contraceptives (HC’s)  influence the type of man that a woman is attracted to and can undermine satisfaction in longterm relationships–especially if a woman who chose a mate while on the Pill subsequently discontinues the use of HC’s.  Of course, one response to this might be, “well, then, don’t go off the Pill!” but such a flippant response denies the reality that, in most longterm relationships, couples eventually want to have children, necessitating that they stop using HC”s.  The real danger here is that just when couples need to draw closer to each other and work better together, the effects of discontinuing contraception can kick in, making partnership that much more difficult.

On top of this, a brand new article by the Guardian is accusing the medical establishment of “pillsplaining” (condescendingly minimizing the risks of HC’s) in light of a new study from the University of Copenhagen that demonstrates that the Pill can both increase the risk of depression and cause a worsening of already-existing depression symptoms in women who use HC’s.

Researchers found that women taking the combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (also known as “the mini-pill”) were 34% more likely. Teens were at the greatest risk of depression, with an 80% increase when taking the combined pill, and that risk is two-fold with the progestin-only pill. In addition, other hormone-based methods commonly offered to women seeking an alternative to the pill – such as the hormonal IUS/coil, the patch and the ring – were shown to increase depression at a rate much higher than either kind of oral contraceptives.

All of this is to say that despite the challenges that couples using Natural Family Planning can sometimes face, it remains the most safe, effective, and moral approach to family planning.  Once again, we see an example of scientists arriving at the peak of the mountain only to find that the Vatican’s flag has already been planted.  If you would like to learn more about how the Church’s vision of love can help you and your spouse experience a more passionate, joyful, spiritual sexual life together, I invite you to check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.

The bottom line?  Don’t believe the lie that opposing HC’s is somehow waging war against women.  In fact, the opposite is true.


Surprising (Negative) Effects of The Pill on Behavior, Dating, and Marriage

shutterstock--The Pill

I am working on a project about some of the lesser-known effects of the birth control pill on a woman’s psychological, relational, and behavioral well being. I came across some fascinating, high-quality research I thought I’d share a bit of what I found so far.

Although the psychological and behavioral impact of hormonal contraceptives has been a largely understudied area until recently, a review of scholarly research-to-date in the journal, Evolutionary Psychology, found significant cause for concern.  The author states, “Women who use HCs report higher rates of depression, reduced sexual functioning, and higher interest in short-term sexual relationships compared to their naturally-cycling counterparts. Also, HC use may alter women’s ability to attract a mate, as well as the mate retention behaviors in both users and their romantic partners. Some evidence even suggests that HC use alters mate choice and may negatively affect sexual satisfaction in parous women, with potential effects on future offspring” (Welling, 2013, p. 718).

Regarding the issue of mate attraction and retention, a subsequent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences supported Welling’s (2013) earlier observations, finding that women are attracted to different types of men depending upon whether they are on or off hormonal contraceptives and that marital stability can be negatively impacted when a woman who was on HC’s at the beginning of their relationship subsequently discontinues HC use (Russell, McNulty, Baker, 2014).

For more about the truth about God’s plan for sexuality, check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.


Russel, V.M., McNulty, J., Baker, L. et al. (2014). The association between discontinuing hormonal contraceptives and wives’ marital satisfaction depends on husbands’ facial attractiveness.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. vol. 111 no. 48. 17081–17086  Retrieved September 11, 2016 at

Welling, L. (2013). Psychobehavioral effects of hormonal contraceptive use.  Evolutionary Psychology, 11(3): 718-742

Zika DOES NOT Justify Contraception, Says Catholic Bioethics Center

In light of the Holy Father’s comments on the return flight from Mexico, the National Catholic Bioethics Center released a statement.

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

February 22, 2016

Given the spread of the Zika virus and microcephaly within the Western Hemisphere, some have recommended the use of abortion and contraception as appropriate tools in the fight against this disease. In the following statement, the Ethicists of the NCBC reply to numerous media inquiries and give guidance to faithful Catholics on this topic.

A suspected connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, in children who were in the womb when their mothers contracted the virus has raised public health alarms in South America, the United States, and elsewhere around the globe. There is little question that the risks associated with the virus should continue to be carefully examined by medical experts. Appropriate recommendations to safeguard the health of all persons, and particularly those most susceptible to any serious effects of the disease, are warranted. Zika is the most recent and high-profile instance of any number of diseases that might have deleterious effects on the unborn children whose mothers contract it while pregnant. In no way, however, would it justify a change in the Catholic Church’s consistent teachings on the sacredness and inviolability of human life and the dignity and beauty of the means of transmitting life through marital relations.  Direct abortion and contraceptive acts are intrinsically immoral and contrary to these great goods, and no circumstances can justify either.


Based on available information, it does not appear that Zika poses any particular threat to the life of a pregnant woman who contracts it. Although the association is not yet confirmed, the virus’s harmful effects appear to be on the development of the child in her womb. Proposing abortion as a “medical solution” to the child’s pathology is suggesting the direct destruction of innocent human life as a means of healing. This is an evident self-contradiction. Pope Pius XI addressed the issue of “therapeutic abortion” in his encyclical Casti connubii:


What could ever be a sufficient reason for excusing in any way the direct murder of the innocent? This is precisely what we are dealing with here. Whether inflicted upon the mother or upon the child, it is against the precept of God and the law of nature: “Thou shalt not kill.” The life of each is equally sacred, and no one has the power, not even the public authority, to destroy it. (CC, n. 64)


More recently, in his encyclical Evangelium vitae, Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed the Church’s constant teaching:


The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. (EV, n. 57)


Beyond the issue of abortion, governments and public health experts may be justified in recommending that married couples delay childbearing temporarily in view of the great number of apparent risks associated with contracting Zika during pregnancy. Married couples should prayerfully assess any such recommendations. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae clearly addresses this issue, teaching that “with regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time” (HV, n. 10). Therefore, the couple should choose whether and to what extent they will accept such a recommendation, assessing all of their pertinent spousal duties and reliable medical facts: “The exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society” (HV, n. 10). Delaying pregnancy can be achieved through complete or periodic abstinence during the wife’s fertile period, which can be generally ascertained through bodily signs (natural family planning).


Humanae vitae also goes on to explain what “due respect to moral precepts” includes. Paul VI teaches that such respect excludes “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (HV, n. 14). In response to the notion that contraception might be an acceptable lesser evil when compared to direct abortion, he further clarifies:


Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one. . . . Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. (HV, n. 14)


This provides the foundation to answer a question increasingly being asked—whether it is ethical to use contraceptive methods, such as condoms, to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the Zika virus.  Apart from the scientific questions about the actual effectiveness of condoms in disease prevention, using condoms to reduce the likelihood of Zika transmission amounts to directly intending contraceptive acts of intercourse as a means to a good end. It “deliberately frustrate[s] . . . the natural power and purpose” of marital intercourse (see CC, n. 54). In the case of a woman who is already pregnant, condom use could not have the effect of preventing pregnancy, but it would prevent a true marital act from taking place, which always involves a complete giving and receiving on the part of the husband and wife.


Some might also wonder about the use of contraceptive pills or intrauterine devices as a form of self-defense against the disease. This line of reasoning is invalid: hormonal contraceptives, IUDs, and morning-after pills do nothing to prevent sexual transmission of disease, but rather prevent the conception of a new human life or the implantation of an existing embryonic human being. Their use would amount to directly intending contraception or early abortion as a means of preventing potential birth defects. In other words, it would deliberately violate the unitive and procreative meanings of human self-giving in marital intimacy or purposefully destroy innocent human life, which are means that no good end can justify.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center

“Popes Say the Darndest Things” (Zika Edition)–Clarity for Confused Catholics


Are you confused, frustrated by, or for that matter, gloating about Pope Francis’ recent comments on contraceptive use and the Zika virus–especially in light of the Vatican Press Office’s confirmation that Pope Francis was not only speaking about using Natural Family Planning but also, potentially, hormonal contraceptives and condoms, to prevent the possibility of children born with Zika-related miroencephaly?   Be at peace.  Let’s all please take a collective breath and consider the following in which Dr. Janet Smith, world-renowned expert on Catholic sexual ethics and professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, offers some sensitive, sensible guidance regarding the context in which these comments need to be understood.

The following is a sample, but I ask you to please take the time to read the whole article which appears at Catholic World Report.

In it, Dr. Smith writes…

It is time to review some basic principles that bear upon the question of the morality of contraception.

Meaning of contraception: Thing and act

First, let us note that the word “contraception” is used to describe both a thing and an act. Only the act permits of moral analysis. There are many “things” called contraception, such as the many forms of the pill, the condom, the IUD, and the patch. Contraception as an act permitting of moral analysis is the act of doing something before, during, or after an act of spousal intercourse to prevent the act from achieving the end of procreation.

The Church teaches that acts of contraception are always against the plan of God for human sexuality, since God intended that each and every act of spousal intercourse express both the intention to make a complete, unitive gift of one’s self to one’s spouse and the willingness to be a parent with one’s spouse. These meanings of the spousal act are, as Humanae Vitae stated, inseparable.

Moreover, many forms of contraception work not by preventing ovulation or preventing conception but by either destroying an embryonic human being or rendering the uterus an inhospitable place for an embryonic human being. These “contraceptives” are not truly contraceptives. They cause the death of a new human being and are rightly called abortifacients. Both contraception and abortion are absolute evils, with abortion being a much more serious evil.

Therapeutic use of hormones

It often causes confusion that the Church permits the use of the hormones that are in the contraceptive pill to treat certain physical conditions. For instance, a woman who has ovarian cysts or who suffers from endometriosis may find that taking the hormones that are present in the contraceptive pill relieve her from some of the pain that results from such conditions. Women who use those hormones with the intent of reducing pain and not with the intent of rendering their sexual acts infertile are not engaging in acts of contraception. In the terminology of the principle of double effect, they are using hormones in pursuit of the good effect of reducing pain and, as a secondary effect, they are tolerating the infertility caused by the hormones they are taking.

Nuns in the Congo

It also confuses many that the officials of the Church many decades ago permitted nuns in the Congo who were in danger of being raped to take hormones that prevent ovulation (which is what the “pill” does). In this case the hormones would be taken with the intent of avoiding a pregnancy, but not a pregnancy that would be the result of a spousal act of sexual intercourse. They would not be altering the purpose of a spousal act of sexual intercourse. Rather, they would be defending themselves against the possible consequences of an act of rape. Keep in mind that it is justifiable for a woman to inflict great physical harm, even death, on a man threatening rape. Her act of killing the rapist is not justified as a “lesser evil” because killing is not a lesser evil than enduring rape. Rather, her act is an act of just and moral self-defense.  

Thus, for a woman to do something to prevent a rapist’s sperm from uniting with her ovum is a part of justifiable self-defense. Her act has nothing to do with violating God’s plan for sexuality. She is not choosing to use contraception to prevent a spousal act of sexual intercourse from achieving its natural end. She is not refusing to make a complete gift of herself to her spouse.  She is fending off a rapist and all his physicality. Clearly, her use of ovulation-suppressing hormones is not an act of contraception. (A good source for information about the history/reasoning concerning the nuns in the Congo is Fr. Edward Bayer’s Rape Within Marriage (1985), pp. 82-3)

Principle of choosing the lesser evil

The principle of choosing the lesser evil (PCLE) is often misunderstood. It does not apply to doing a lesser moral evil to avoid a greater moral evil. That is, for instance, one cannot directly kill one innocent human being to save the lives of several other innocent human beings. One cannot cheat one’s customers for money to give to the poor.

We must remember that the word “evil” does not refer only to moral evil. The word “evil” refers to any imperfection of any kind, for instance, to any physical imperfection. Blindness, for instance, or lameness are physical “evils.”

The PCLE applies to the common sense choices to do or undergo some non-moral evil for the sake of some greater good. One can destroy property to save life, such as breaking down a door to save a child trapped behind the door and in danger. It is not a moral evil to destroy the property. Yes “evil” is done—the door is broken and can’t be used—but the evil is a physical evil, not a moral one. Rather, it is morally good to break down the door.

The PCLE does not justify a woman using contraception to prevent a pregnancy because she fears the child may suffer some harm during the pregnancy. Here a woman is choosing to do something immoral to prevent harm. This choice violates the fundamental principle that we must never do moral evil to achieve good. She would be intending to thwart the purpose and meaning of the sexual act in order to protect any child conceived from harm, but she is doing harm—to the marital act and her marital relationship—by using contraception to prevent a pregnancy.

There are all sorts of “harm” that spouses may wish to attempt to avoid by using contraception. In fact, one suspects that there is always some harm spouses are trying to avoid by using contraception—harms such as financial stress, inconvenience, threats to the mother’s health, sexual frustration, etc. The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception, for that would be choosing to do moral evil to avoid harm.

To suggest that some “emergency” or “special situation” would permit a person in conscience to use contraception does not align with Catholic moral theology. For spouses to use contraception is always wrong. How can any emergency or special situation justify what is always wrong? It is an improper use of conscience to use it to discern that it is moral to do what is intrinsically wrong in special situations.  CONTINUE READING


I would add to Janet’s thoughtful comments that even the Pope cannot change Church teaching.  We are all–Pope and layperson alike–merely servants of the repository of truth given to us by Christ and affirmed by 2000 years of prayer, discernment, spirit-filled discussion, and grace.  In this recent news story, the Holy Father made some off-the-cuff comments about a very serious medical and pastoral situation. These comments must be considered carefully in light of his teaching authority as the Bishop of Rome (as Pope Francis often prefers to refer to himself). But ultimately, even papal opinion stands or falls by its ability to reflect the continuity of our Tradition. If you would like an accessible, helpful guide for really understanding and living the truth about the Catholic teaching regarding sex and love, I’d invite you to check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.  And of course, I’ll offer more thoughts as this story develops.

Something Fishy? Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical?

Image Shutterstock

Image Shutterstock

I was not one of the many Catholics dreading the publication of Laudato Si.  I teach a college course on Catholic Social Teaching and stewardship of the environment is one of the major themes of this great and influential body of work.  As Catholics, we believe that when the Word of God became flesh, all of creation was raised to a new dignity in Christ.  Human beings do not own the world, we are merely stewards of it.  It is an established point of Catholic social doctrine that all of us have a grave moral duty to do what we can to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. As Pope Francis inspiringly notes, honoring God’s creation is  an important way that God’s people give praise to him.

Wanted:  Strong Catholic Voice

In light of this, I was genuinely looking forward to reading what Pope Francis had to say on this important issue.  In all the debate about environmental policy, strong Catholic moral leadership has been conspicuous by its absence.  In this regard, Pope Francis does not disappoint.  He does a wonderful job recognizing the common errors that many secular environmentalists make–from worshiping the earth as a deity to misguided efforts to “save” the planet through abortion and population control and many others–and makes many excellent, practical points about how people can promote an approach to environmental stewardship that improves the life of the planet while simultaneously improving the lot of the poor.

Something Fishy:  A Curious Absence

That said, as a frequent writer on issues related to sexuality, there was one thing I was seriously disappointed to not find in the document; namely, any reference to the serious problem of water pollution caused by the build-up of contraceptive hormones in the water supply resulting in health problems for both wildlife and, potentially, people.  This is not a small issue, nor is it a fringe “Catholic” issue.

For instance, in March of 2015, The Washington Post published an article titled, Fish Don’t Want Birth Control, but Scientists Say They Get it from Your Pill.  Here’s a snippet.

Your birth control pill is affecting more than just your body. Flushed down toilets, poured down sinks and excreted in urine, a chemical component in the pill wafts into sewage systems and ends up in various waterways where it collects in fairly heavy doses. That’s where fish soak it up.  recent survey by the U.S. Geological Survey found that fish exposed to a synthetic hormone called 17a-ethinylestradiol, or EE2, produced offspring that struggled to fertilize eggs. The grandchildren of the originally exposed fish suffered a 30 percent decrease in their fertilization rate. The authors mulled the impact of what they discovered and decided it wasn’t good.

The WaPo article echoes many points raised in a 2012  article by the science portal LiveScience titled, Water Pollution Caused by Birth Control Poses Dilemma.  More frightening still, an article appearing around the same time in The Daily Mail cited similar problems in European waterways, and further suggested that artificial hormones in the water supply could be having a negative impact on human male sperm count–which has lowered, on average, by 25% in the last 20 years.

No Easy Answers

 The problem, of course, is that current approaches to water treatment cannot remove these chemicals from our drinking water leading many environmental experts to express potential concerns about human health risks to long term exposure.  Scientific American published a Q&A article that cautiously validated many of these concerns and discussed the challenges of removing artificial reproductive hormones from drinking water.

Additionally, there are no simple–or even affordable–solutions for how water treatment plants could rise to this challenge.  In fact, purifying the water supply of these chemicals could prove to be so expensive that Forbes Magazine ran an article in 2012 arguing that Women on Contraceptive Pill Should Pay $1500 a Year More Tax 

Missed Opportunity

When a pope releases a document, inevitably people in every corner pick it apart for how it did or did not treat their pet issue, and readers might well accuse me of doing exactly this, but I would argue that it is a serious missed opportunity for the Church that a Catholic document on the environment would fail to mention a serious environmental issue that the Church is uniquely–and almost singly–positioned to address.  Catholic social teaching is not a collection of random concepts.  It is a whole, a “seamless garment” if you will.  To have not included this insight–even in passing–about the negative impact artificial contraception is having on the environment is to have missed an important chance to emphasize the coherence of the Church’s moral theology as it applies to both personal and environmental morality.

None of this is, of course, to suggest that Pope Francis is soft on the Church’s stand on contraception.  In fact, he is on record as being a strong defender of the Church’s teachings on this issue and has even praised Pope Paul VI’s promulgation of Humanae Vitae as “courageous.”   Nevertheless, despite the fact that Laudato Si is an excellent and inspiring document overall, it it hard to not to argue that Pope Francis, the Church’s first fisher of men, missed the boat at least on this particular point.

The Truth Will Out

Although this issue did not get a mention in Laudato Si, I would encourage my fellow Catholics to take this opportunity  afforded by the incredible press being generated by this document to highlight yet another reason of why the Church has stood fast in its opposition to the Pill.  The more time passes, the more creation bears witness to the prophetic voice of Humane Vitae.  The Pill is bad medicine.  It is bad for women’s health.  It is bad for relationships.  And it is bad for the environment.   To learn more about how the Catholic vision of love can help you live a more passionate marriage AND empower you to save the planet, check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.

Danger! Hormonal Contraception Use Doubles Risk of Brain Tumor in 15-49 Year-olds.

Researchers in Denmark have discovered that there is both a moderate increased risk of developing glioma (a type of brain tumor) among women who engage in shorter-term use of hormonal

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

contraceptives and a two-fold risk of developing glioma among 15-49 year olds who use oral contraceptives for 5+ years.

Every use of hormonal contraceptive was associated with an OR of 1.5 (95% CI: 1.2-2.0) and the OR increased with duration of use (long-term, ≥5 years: OR, 1.9; 95% CI: 1.2–2.9). The association between long-term hormonal contraceptive use and glioma risk was most pronounced for progestagen-only therapy (OR, 2.4; 95% CI: 1.1–5.1), especially when this regimen constituted the sole hormonal contraceptive therapy (OR, 4.1; 95% CI: 0.8–20.8). READ MORE

So many women are so careful about what they eat and how they exercise only to undo all that effort by poisoning themselves with oral contraceptives.  For more information on safe, healthy, effective methods of natural family planning, check out the USCCB’s NFP info page.  And check out Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving for answers to your questions about NFP and how it can benefit your health and marriage.

Update from the Hutch: Pope Francis Praises Large Families

For all the cyber sturm und drang yesterday surrounding Pope Francis comment that Catholics don’t have to reproduce like rabbits to be faithful to the Church, many people forget that only a couple of short weeks before,

Image credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

(yes, I know, a millennium in the news cycle), at the meeting of the National Association of Large Families, Pope Francis said some very supportive things about parents who are heroically generous in the service of life.

The presence of large families is a hope for society….Dear parents, I am grateful to you for the example of love towards life, that you preserve from conception to natural end, despite all the difficulties and burdens of life, and that unfortunately, the public institutions do not always help you….Therefore, I hope, also thinking of the low birth rate that has long been in Italy, for a greater focus on policy and administrators on a public level, in order to give due support to these families. Each family is a cell of society, but large families are a more rich cell, more vibrant, and the State has an interest in investing in it.  READ THE WHOLE SPEECH HERE.

But…wait!  Pope Francis couldn’t possibly be holding two equally important yet somewhat distinct thoughts in his head at the same exact time, could he?!?  That would be MADNESSS, I tell you!  MADNESS!

Ah, but the Catholic way, young padawan.  The Catholic way that is.

For more information about discerning God’s plan for your family size, check out, Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing,Infallible Loving.   

The Crux of the Matter: Catholics and Contraception–A Challenge to Margery Eagan.

Over at Crux News the other day, Margery Eagan posted a column indicating that she was “devastated” that Pope Francis crushed her hopes for reform on pelvic issues by affirming Pope Paul VI’s

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission.

courage in promoting Humanae Vitae.  A snippet: “Although he has not lived it himself, I had thought he understood something about good people living real lives in real marriages. I had thought he even understood something about the beauty of sex in marriage, the need for sex in marriage.  I was wrong.”

She goes on to share how shocked she was by Pope Francis’ backward attitudes about contraception.  Doesn’t he know that contraception is the key to a healthy romantic sex life (she’s apparently unaware that the pill kills libido)?  Doesn’t he understand that the pill has led to freedom for women (because she is apparently unaware of the inequality of the hookup culture that is so damaging to women)?  Doesn’t he know that contraception is the key to ending poverty and  world hunger (because condoms are both  so tasty and the progressive Catholic part of a complete breakfast)?!?   In other words, the typical “let them eat condoms” faux-social-justice, feelings-before-faith, stuff one often hears.


Who People Like Eagan Are Hurting…


Because it’s such well-trod terrain, I wouldn’t normally bother to address her column except that people like Eagan really don’t understand how many people they are hurting, not really because of the confusion they spread–there’s already so much confusion on these points that one person’s drivel will ultimately come out in the wash–but because of the fact that their constant agitation gets in the way of the Church ever being more pastoral on these topics.  What do I mean?


Well, we all know that the Church does not oppose family planning.  In fact, she proposes a very reliable  means of avoiding pregnancy through Natural Family Planning.  In fact, as I recently noted, even CNN is taking note of the rising, popular interest in NFP.  The problem is that NFP can be difficult to practice. Not so much because it is all that complicated–it isn’t and it’s getting easier all the time. Rather,  it necessarily involves some degree of sacrifice and self-discipline and couples can struggle to understand how to deal effectively with the tension and frustration that can result from periodic abstinence.  And this is where people like Egan are–albeit unintentionally, I’m sure–a real obstacle to the pastoral efforts of the Church to couples.


Even if, as writers like Eagan would have you believe,  only about 3% of Catholics practice NFP, that means there would be more NFP-Catholics in the US alone than there are Episcopalians (1.8 million vs. 2.3 million respectively).   The Church really needs to do a better job supporting those Catholics who are trying with all their might, and against significant cultural pressure,  to live faithfully, but it can’t.  Why?  Because the second it tries to be more pastoral at all, the Egans of the world hijack that effort and say, “See!  The Church is FINALLY admitting it’s wrong!”  At which point the Church has to stop what it’s doing and patiently explain, yet again, that “No Virginia, there is no doctrinal revolution.” and “Yes, Virginia, the Pope is still Catholic (and in other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead).”


The Inconvenient Catholics


Any institution only has so many resources.  Because of the advocacy of folks like Eagan, the Church has to spend all of its energy defending itself against willful stupidity, leaving it with precious little energy to do anything useful on this front for the honest-to-goodness, flesh and blood, real-life couples that are striving to serve as a witness to the world that the Church does, in fact, actually know what it’s talking about.  Too often, writers  like Eagan, give the impression that they would rather deny these couples’ inconvenient existence–or at least discount their honest experience (as she does in her rather dismissive follow-up column).


Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on Margery (bless her heart). After all, in her follow-up column she did plug my book, Holy Sex!  (which her colleague, John Allen, said read like, “Dr. Ruth meets St Thomas Aquinas) as well as Patrick Coffin’s Sex Au Naturel . Granted, she references them in a  tongue-in-cheek, “I wouldn’t read this crap, but you can,” sort-of way, but a mention is a mention and I thank her.


But after thinking on it for a few days, I decided to respond to her columns on this topic because, unlike Eagan, I actually spend my days in the trenches working with Catholics who really are trying, with all their hearts, to be what they genuinely believe Christ is calling them to be.  Couples who have invited Christ to be the Lord of every part of their lives, including their bodies and the most intimate parts of their marriage.  They do it out of love and they do it with a real heart of sacrifice and faith. I see how much these couples would really benefit from just a little more support from the very Church whose ideals they’re trying to live up to and I see how impossible it is for the Church to provide that support because its emotional and pedagogical resources are being taxed by the histrionics of the Egans of this world.  I, for one, am more than a little tired of watching those faithful couples go it alone so that Margery & Co. can feel affirmed in their okayness.


A Challenge to Margery Egan


In her follow-up column, Eagan calls herself as a “journalist.”  Indeed, from her bio,  it appears that she has some actual experience here. I would like to invite her to make good on that claim.  I’ve never gone to J-school, but as I understand it, a journalist is supposed to at least offer the pretense of being unbiased and go through the motions of becoming informed, something Eagan hasn’t bothered to do in either of these two pieces I’ve referenced.  If she really wants to be a journalist and contribute to authentic dialog, I challenge her to actually talk  to the faithful Catholics I know who are living the truth of the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics.  I challenge her to read the books she links with one hand but patronizingly dismisses with the other.  You want dialog?  Let’s dialog.  I have no interest in changing your mind, Margery.  That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.  But I am interested in challenging your self-righteous desire to wish Catholics like me and the people I serve out of existence.  We’re here.  We’re sincere.  Get used to it.  If you’re honestly interested in following Pope Francis example of encounter, here’s where you can find me.


And for anyone interested in discovering how the Church’s wisdom on love, sex, and marriage can help you take your relationship to the next level, check out, Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving,   For Better…FOREVER!  The Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage and Just Married:  The Catholic Guide to Surviving & Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage.