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On the Evils of Contraception and Abortion
Contraception and abortion are two evils that have plagued our world throughout its history and are still wreaking havoc in it today. They are especially prevalent in the United States of America, where millions of people unwittingly take a pill, hindering conception, or have an abortion, killing an innocent human being, without realizing what they are doing is evil.
Contraception is anything that prevents conception. Today, it is commonly referred to as “the pill.” The Church teaches that contraceptives are not morally permissible. Pope St. Paul VI re-iterated what the Church has always taught on contraceptives in Humane Vitae: “Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.” (Paul VI, 14)
Contraceptives are morally wrong because they go against God's plan for humanity. When a contraceptive is taken, “An act intended by God to be an outward expression of marital love becomes a lie.” (Zia 97) The marital act is reduced to pleasure, and not open to the gift of new life that comes from the spouses. From the very beginning, God wanted humanity to have children, not hinder their creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it...’” (Gen. 1:28) Pope St. John Paul II reflected upon this: “When the conjugal act is deprived of its inner truth because it is deprived artificially of its procreative capacity, it also ceases to be an act of love...Such a violation of the inner order of conjugal communion, a communion that plunges its roots into the very order of the person, constitutes the essential evil of the contraceptive act.” (Zia 97) St. Thomas Aquinas points out in his Summa Contra Gentiles that the marital act is directed to the purpose of generation, and the upbringing of offspring. Contraceptives directly violate the purpose of the marital act.
Here it should be noted that families and or married couples may decide that it would be better not to have children at certain times, for instance, if the family cannot support another child financially. “The Church does not deny the need for families to sometimes regulate their size.” (Zia 101) This requires the parents to be responsible through self-control. If a married couple believes it would be imprudent to bring a child into the world, for the child's sake, they should refrain from the marital act, “and choose a nonsexual way to communicate their love for each other” (Zia 101) instead of using contraceptives to regulate birth.
Abortion too prevents birth, but it is different from contraceptives. Abortion is when a person is conceived and then murdered in the womb. I use the word murder because murder is defined as the taking of an innocent person's life. “The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone always and everywhere.” (CCC 2261) Now there are some contraceptives that can cause abortions known as abortifacients. “Should conception still take place, they have a backup mechanism that will prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall.” (Zia 103) The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC 2271)
The Church teaches that human life begins at conception and is sacred. “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.” (CCC 2258) God creates us to know, love, and serve him. Abortion destroys this creative act of God, in union with the marital act of the married couple. Thus, in destroying human life, those who have an abortion commit a grave sin.
We must always remember that Children are gifts from God, and “the crowning jewel of marriage.” (Zia 100) Children are meant to help the parents grow in virtue. Fulton Sheen says that children “represent the conquest of Love over the insatiable ego; they symbolize deceit of selfishness and the victory of charity. Each child begets disinterestedness, inspires a sacrifice.” (Zia 100) The Dogmatic Constitution Gaudium et Spes, speaks highly of the role children have within the family: “As living members of the family, children contribute in their own way to making their parents holy. For they will respond to the kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust.” (GS 48)
To conclude, contraceptives, and abortion are evil, and sinful, because they directly attack the family, and God's plan for the family. Children are a gift, and the fruits of marriage, and are not to be seen as burdens, or products. Each child is created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore has human dignity at conception, and thus should be treated with the same respect as any other person.
Zia, Mark J., The Enduring Faith and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen. Cincinnati, Ohio: Servant Books, 2015.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000.
Pope Paul VI, Humane Vitae. The Holy See, July 25, 1968. http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html
Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Council on the Church in the Modern World. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI, December 7, 1965. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html