In a recent podcast, 40 Days for Life president and CEO Shawn Carney and two other 40 Days for Life directors — Steve Karlen, and Robert Colquhoun — tackled the topic of contraception and how it relates to abortion in society.
Historically, children were viewed as a gift
Steve Karlen, director of North American Outreach for 40 DFL, noted that our current cultural mindset represents a major shift from centuries past, saying, “Throughout all of human history, children have been viewed as a blessing,” adding, “We all know this to be true, and at the same time we have this schizophrenia where we have mass use of contraception that says ‘no, we don’t really want children around here.'”
Karlen further characterized contraception as “contrary to human nature” because he believes human beings “have this innate longing to bring children into the world and to love them and to make the world a better place for them.”
A contraceptive mentality increases abortions
40 DFL CEO Shawn Carney defined a contraceptive mentality as one that divorces the idea of babies from sex, primarily via hormonal birth control that acts against (“contra”) conception.
Because we expect contracepted sex to be sterile and for the purpose of pleasure only, when a child does result, as Karlen pointed out, we tend to view him or her as “an intruder, an invader, an uninvited guest. And that makes abortion so much easier to justify at that point.”
Robert Colquhoun, director of International Campaigns for 40 DFL, said many people believe “if we just use birth control, we can reduce abortions.” In actuality, he said, increased use of contraceptives correlates with increased rates of sexual activity. When the contraceptives fail, as some inevitably do, there’s an increase in unintended pregnancies accompanied by an increase in abortions to “deal” with them. He added, “Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be handing out contraceptives if they knew that they led to a decreased abortion rate.”
Some contraception may cause abortions
As Karlen, Carney, and Colquhoun noted, the science behind contraceptives acting as abortifacients is not complicated. Contraceptives act in several ways to prevent ovulation, but they also thin the lining of the uterus, making implantation of an embryo much more difficult. Once fertilization occurs, a genetically unique human being is created. Preventing implantation, then, would mean that a child dies.
Contraception’s negative impacts on society
Karlen said, “Contraception is not good for our relationship with children in the womb” because it leads to a classification of children as “wanted” or “unwanted” depending on whether their parents intended to get pregnant or not.
As Shawn Carney recalled, decades ago, the Catholic Church was considering whether to change its longstanding prohibition on contraception, and Pope Paul VI released a 1968 document called Humanae Vitae. In that document, he made three predictions about what would happen if contraceptive use became widespread: 1) a rise in divorce, 2) a decreased respect for the wellbeing of women, and 3) governmental coercion of human reproduction (i.e. China’s One Child Policy and the forced sterilization of thousands of U.S. women between the 1920s and 1970s). These predictions have sadly come true.
Life of chastity brings ‘great peace, great hope’
Carney noted that while 40-50% of couples who contracept reportedly divorce, the divorce rate among couples who use fertility awareness-based methods is only 3-5%. Carney believes this is due to a fundamental difference in mindset among those using NFP — one that values the woman as a whole person and doesn’t pathologize her fertility, and which views children as a blessing and a joy rather than a burden.
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