June 15, 2018
past several decades, contraception and abortion have had far-reaching effects
in our culture, shaping attitudes on sexual behavior on a massive scale.
Contrary to the promises of freedom, empowerment, or equality, contraception
and abortion have led to a greater degradation of women, especially in their
relationships with men.
in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Blessed
Pope Paul VI warned that:
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" (HV 17).
history has shown, the widespread availability of contraception and abortion has
allowed men to push previously respected boundaries with women with greater insensitivity
and impunity. Not only has this impacted marital (extra-marital affairs, divorce,
etc.) and dating relationships, but, even more sadly, this has enabled male
sexual abusers and sex traffickers to hide their crimes, increasing the
suffering of their female victims.
promotion of contraception and abortion, in enabling a hyper-sexualized
culture, has unfairly put all women at risk, whether or not they participate in
the contraceptive mentality. The lack of respect and sexual victimization of
women by men has become increasingly clear with the rise of the #MeToo movement
and the increase in rape culture on college campuses, as well as the prevalence
of empty relationships that lack depth or permanence. Women are rightly expressing
pain and outrage over increased objectification, disrespect, and unsatisfying relationships
that promotes contraception and abortion falsely teaches women that their
freedom comes through unrestrained sexual behavior. We can't help but see the
irony of a culture that claims to condemn sexual violence against women, yet continuously
glamorizes it in the entertainment industry.
cries for female empowerment, women are expected to suppress their natural
biological functioning and place themselves into a medicated state by using pills,
chemicals, patches, and devices, as if healthy fertility were a disease, in
order to be sexually available to men. Abortion is the last resort offered when
contraception fails and a woman feels abandoned and unsupported in her
pregnancy. Sadly, she must often face the potential psychological and bodily
trauma in isolation that may result from the procedure. The destruction of an
innocent human life and repression of the woman's own life-giving capacity
doubly harms the woman in very deep ways.
society look like if a woman were valued and respected for precisely who she is—without
pills and patches to alter her body? What if her sexuality were seen as
something precious and potentially life-giving, rather than as a cheap opportunity
for another's pleasure?
and abortion promised more freedom and empowerment for women, but both have
eroded respect for women and negatively impacted their relationships with men.
If sex is not linked to authentic married love and its life-giving dimensions,
it degenerates and becomes distorted, losing its original meaning and
significance. A woman should never have to compromise herself, her body, her
fertility, or her child through contraception and abortion to feel loved or
the devastation wrought by the sexual revolution, women have an incredible
opportunity to reshape the cultural conversation and positively impact their
relationships. Women can give a powerful witness by rejecting the lies of contraception,
preserving their sacred gift of sexuality for marriage, and offering
compassion, care and support for other women experiencing unplanned
pregnancies, so that isolation and abortion never have to be the final answer.
Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life
Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the
bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.