(This is the second article that appeared in the Southern Cross. Editor)
When the Pill was first introduced in the sixties it was believed that it would be of great benefit to women. Over forty years later we know better. The Pill (along with other forms of hormonal contraception) has harmed women: it has paved the road for abortion on demand, it has harmed women physically and it has created a sexually charged society.
In the US the "privacy" doctrine that underlies Roe vs Wade was established in previous Supreme Court decisions which struck down State bans on contraception. Where contraception leads abortion inevitably follows and when it does women suffer. On a world wide basis abortion discriminates against women. In China if you are unfortunate enough to be a baby girl you stand a good chance of receiving a lethal injection into the fontanel as soon as your head clears the birth canal - simply because you are a female in a country in which a one-child policy operates and boys are more highly valued than girls. In China and India the ultra-sound has become women’s worst enemy. As soon as a couple wanting a boy finds out that their baby is a girl she is aborted.
From the very beginning the Pill has been dogged by sexism. The first clinical trials were conducted in Puerto Rico. Three women died. The conclusion: change the dosages. When the first study of a Male Pill was conducted one of the test subjects experienced some slight shrinkage of his testicles. That study was abandoned. No viable form of Male Pill has ever been developed. The risks are no doubt considered too extreme.
And from that very first study until to-day women have been dying. Dosages have been changed in order to lower the risks of heart attack, blood clots, stroke and liver tumours. But risks remain and when you consider that this is a medication is taken by millions of women even low risk percentages become significant. In addition, as the contraceptive culture gets more entrenched and women use hormonal birth control from a younger age and for greater duration new risks emerge.
Studies that have focused on younger women are now revealing a link between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer. Commenting on his 2006 study in the journal "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" Dr. C Kalhenborn stated that in "21 out of 23 retrospective studies done since 1980 ... women who took oral contraceptives prior to the birth of their first child sustained a 44% average increased risk of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer. This risk rose to 52% for women who took the Pill for at least four years prior to the birth of their first child." To-day the Pill is often given to young girls to help control acne and painful periods, to say nothing of the sexually active teens who are on the Pill.
Why is it that so few people are aware of these risk factors? Medical practitioners and many feminists understand the risks associated with hormonal and other forms of contraception. These forms of contraception are acceptable to them because they argue that the associated risks are less than the health risks of a pregnancy. This is equivalent to a doctor saying "You have a splinter in your finger. Splinters in fingers can cause infection and perhaps death, so we have to cut off you finger." The question you would ask is "Can’t we just remove the splinter". Basically you’re asking "is there an alternative, less radical treatment?".
In the field of birth control Natural Familiy Planning is that less radical treatment. We should be comparing the total health effects of hormonal contraceptives with the total health effects of natural family planning.
The reason that most liberal feminists do not want to make this comparison is that natural family planning has one ‘drawback’. A moral component that is at odds with their moral not medical worldview. Natural family planning is not the method of birth control for ‘singles bar’ pick-up sex. It is not taken seriously because it conflicts with the "Sex and the City" lifestyle so dear to liberal feminism.
From the teenage girl who attempts suicide because she was "used" to the women venting their rage against unfaithful men on the internet, it is clear that this lifestyle is not working for women. Something is broken but few people really understand the reason. It is artificial contraception that allows us to break the link between sex and children and marriage. When that link is broken sex loses its context and when that happens, it is women who bear the immediate and most serious consequences of that break.
Adultery, divorce, pornography, child pornography, prostitution, the exploitation of women by the media, the early sexualisation of girls are just a few examples of what happens in a male-dominated society when sexual pleasure is divorced from marriage and children.
In addition, the use of artifical contraception of all types has harmed the faith life of Catholic women. The Church’s teaching is clear, artificial contraception is wrong. Many bishops and priests are quite happy not to present the Church’s teaching and to leave women in a moral limbo. They should not be surprised when especially young women desert the Church. These bishops and priests have by their cowardice first deserted these women to a sexist and exploitative society. .