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Closed womb.

During the 1994 Conference on Population in Cairo the debate raged over abortion and contraception, thanks to the Vatican opposition to both. Many rightminded Catholics kept themselves out of the debate, or limited themselves to comments about abortion.

Catholic reluctance

The reluctance of even Catholics to address the issue of contraception has struck me before. As one who was converted to the biblical truth on this issue by Catholic teachers, I have come to accept that contraception and abortion are two sides of the one coin.

Abortion will stay our curse until we face up to reality: the contraceptive mentality consists of closed minds, closed hearts and closed wombs! Children are not considered a blessing but a burden, and God's created gift of life is only welcome on our own terms. Furthermore, children are either treated as miniature adults or as commodities to be used by the state.

Canada 1967-1969

The historical facts are always worth reiterating: the Liberals, under Prime Minister Mike Pearson, made contraceptives legal for Canadians for the first time ever, in 1967. In 1968, under Trudeau, they broadened the grounds for divorce. In 1969 they legalized so-called therapeutic abortion as well as homosexual acts `between consenting adults'. These changes ushered in the so-called `Sexual Revolution' begun with the invention of the Pill in 1960.

Before the Liberals introduced these drastic changes, there was limited consultation with Protestant churches and citizen groups. The population at large was not involved. The argument was that `these things' are already happening, and that it would be archaic to keep them in the Criminal Code. Most Protestants accepted the changes or welcomed them.

The Catholic bishops continued to be against abortion, but they withdrew their earlier opposition to the other changes in Canadian law, while calling on the faithful to continue to oppose them privately. Catholics were cautioned not to impose their opposition to contraception on anyone else, as if the Church had invented a separate `Truth' applicable only to Catholics.

The great divide

Thus began the `Great Divide' between Christians, setting up a major barrier for Protestants everywhere to participate fully in the work of pro-life groups. What had been Christian truth for 2,000 years was relegated to the Catholic Church and treated as a relic from the Middle Ages, invented by celibate old men to spoil people's fun and keep them poor and in bondage to the Church.

Proponents of abortion from now on would thrash those who opposed abortion, because they rejected the only presumed remedy: contraception. Those fundamentalist Protestants who also opposed contraception from their biblical understanding were loathe to identify themselves publicly with Catholic teaching. Many Catholics themselves also became more critical of their Church's teaching. There is also a feeling of isolation among Catholics, even though there are one billion of us around the world, and our most courageous leaders, the Holy Father in Rome and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, never miss an opportunity to speak to these issues.

In his book Contraception, John T. Noonan gives an overview of the human struggle with fertility through the centuries. To free himself from responsibility has always been the aim of fallen man. However, it took until the late twenties of this century for a Christian denomination, the Anglicans, to approve contraception for the first time. By the late Fifties most Protestants had progressed to using artificial means. Then came the Pill in 1960. The rest is history!

The Pill

In the minds of the neo-Malthusians the Pill was seen as God-sent. Since before the turn of the century the population planners have been at work, concerned that the globe will get too full and that we will all starve to death. Together with the Malthusians, the adherents of a new science, eugenics, were rising to prominence. They were worried about genes--good or bad--and concerned to find means of preventing people with inferior genes from having babies. Havelock Ellis and Marie Stopes became well-known in England, Margaret Sanger in the US, and even in Canada a young Baptist preacher by the name of Tommy Douglas wrote a thesis at McMaster University in 1932 on how to prevent the `feeble-minded' from multiplying. He suggested they should live in colonies and be sterilized. Later Tommy Douglas was one of the founders of the CCF, now the NDP. Interestingly, in his thesis he includes women who have frequent abortions in the list of the feeble-minded.

The influence of the population planners on Christians has been considerable and rages unabated to-day. They have made the latter forget that God is the author of life, and that it is sinful to obstruct the creative powers of God.

After 25 years, the propaganda against having children has been so powerful that, on a daily basis, one has to have all one's wits about one not to forget this truth. From the beginning the propaganda was designed to work on two levels: the personal level, where Ellen Peck's "Baby Trap" comes in (picture the tiredout Mom of two toddlers, sleepless nights, etc.)--and the public level, where Dr. Ehrlich's 1968 `Population Bomb' dominates with his "Are-you-personally-going-to-fill-the-Earth?" guilt.

We, and I consider myself a victim here, were told that we would all be happier, healthier and certainly richer if we had only two children, preferably a boy and a girl, in that order. Having many children was suddenly frowned upon. A friend of mine, who is over 65 now, remembers how `responsible' parenting changed from `not looking after the kids' to `just having too many'. She had seven, and recounts with some bitterness how she was said to be `having litters'.

Concurrent with the image of the large "rabbit family" (dating back all the way to Darwin, who accused the Irish of "breeding like rabbits") is the idea of the `depleted gene pool,' or inferior genes, resulting in poor- quality offspring. This, too, has become a powerful argument in favour of aborting teen-age pregnancies.

In the 90's, a young mother, when she has two children, is repeatedly told, "Now you have your family." A third child, for the most part, is considered `an accident'. In my Lutheran Sunday-school class I had several children who knew that they were "accidents." Paradoxically, sexual expression has been promoted, in and out of season, in and out of wedlock, and taught to young and old alike!

At first, the Pill was a chemical hormone designed to suppress ovulation for the fertile. It "took the worry out of being close." Later on the hormone dosages had to be lowered for "better compatibility," and thus it became just a chemical abortifacient.

Chemical pollution

People are very health-conscious these days; nobody likes the idea of hormone-fed cattle any longer. Yet the same people think nothing of dutifully popping a pill into their mouth every morning to combat their fertility. It is called "controlling your own body." Nothing could be further from the truth, because a woman on the pill is not only not in control (or she would not need the pill), but she is not in touch with her bodily function, having put herself under an artificial chemical regimen.

Opponents of artificial contraception are being denounced for condemning women to be `baby-machines'. But who thinks of the poor girl who starts the pill at 15, and at 28 or 30 wants a baby and finds out she is not able to conceive?

Countless numbers of men and women have been surgically sterilized, regardless of the consequences to physical or spiritual health, or the consequences to their marriages. Canada is a shining example of a country that keeps its birthrate down and imports people from other places, in perfect compliance to the `Global Plan'. But are we also the shining example of human happiness?

I woke up the other night from a dream that was so real it astounded me. In this dream I told someone how I had let myself be victimized by the contraceptive mentality, and in my dream I was close to tears; the anguish did not leave for a while after. My mother used to tell us about her life during the war in Germany, the terror, the hunger and six babies in nine years. She experienced plenty of pain. Yet when all was said and done, she realized in her 80's that in the end it had been all worthwhile. Given the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight, I would rather have the kind of pain my mother endured.

Pro-life "wisdom"

It has been conventional "wisdom" among a large section of the pro-life movement for 25 years to treat contraception as a separate issue. It is wisdom no longer! When we pray for an end to abortion, we must pray for an end to contraception and an increase in the birthrate. Immigrants are fine and should always be welcome, but the homegrown product should come first.

The Holy Father and Vatican officials took a courageous stand in Cairo in 1994 and again in Beijing in 1995; they expect us to stand in solidarity with them. In the Old Testament we are told to "go forth and multiply and fill the Earth." In the New Testament Jesus commissions us to "go into all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." These two commands belong together. It is a haunting question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?" It is equally haunting to ask: "Will He find people?".
COPYRIGHT 1996 Catholic Insight
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Author:Anneliese Steden
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Mar 1, 1996
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