This article is not recent, but I really enjoyed writing it, so thought I'd share it anyway.
A New Zealand university professor has landed himself in hot water after suggesting that contraceptive chemicals be put in the water supply in order to stop uneducated women having children.
His comments come after results from the latest New Zealand census reveal that women without a tertiary education have an average of one child more than women with a university degree.
Professor Jim Flynn of the South Island’s Otago University, suggested tap water contraception as a means to boost the birth rate among university-educated women while simultaneously lowering the birth rate among women without a higher education.(1) Professor Flynn also recommended that women affected by the innovative tap water could take an antidote if they wanted to become pregnant.
The media reaction to the suggestion was admirable and the Professor back-peddled rather quickly, claiming in subsequent interviews that his statement was not serious.(2) But he is not alone. Similar comments are appearing increasingly in newspaper opinion columns and on web logs where it is suggested that greater access to contraception among the lower classes would curb teen pregnancy, domestic violence, child abuse, single-parent families and infant mortality. Contraception by postcode has been suggested as a means to cure the nation’s indigenous problems. The idea is appealing to the financially-minded; certainly it is cheaper and easier to supply contraception to the masses than it is to educate them.
Professor Flynn’s comments, while inappropriate and immoral, reflect a wider concern that the younger generation is having babies but failing to raise them properly. At age 73, perhaps the professor agrees with the general consensus that contraception will curb the poverty, violence and immorality commonly associated with the not-so-well-educated. But as noted in the UN’s 2003 World Fertility Report, contraception is linked to a rising disrespect for marriage and the family and rather than fixing social problems, only serves to compound them.
Most believe that the best way to solve the problem of children being born into disadvantaged circumstances is to use and distribute contraception. If poor couples only have two children instead of three, we could soon break the poverty cycle, so they reason. The Catholic Church has ever been a bastion against this kind of thinking, and its teaching on contraception has been ridiculed and rejected most vehemently in the last 50 years. It is estimated that up to 80% of Catholics use contraception.
So, why is contraception not the cure for social ills?
• Contraception is contrary to the laws of God and the natural law. The Church’s teaching on the subject can be summed up thus: "It is wrong to impede the procreative power of actions that are ordained by their nature to the generation of human life."(3) The Church’s Biblical foundation for opposing contraception can be located in Genesis 38: 7-10 which details the contraceptive sin and consequent punishment of a man called Onan. Contraception cuts God from the equation and allows couples to proclaim that while He is Lord of their lives, they do not want Him to be Lord of their fertility.
• Numerous Scripture passages can be found in which children are seen as a blessing from God (see: Genesis 28:3, 1 Chronicles 25:5, Tobias 6:22, Psalms 127:3-5 & 128:1-4, Exodus 23:25-26, Deuteronomy 28:4), and sterility as a curse (see: Genesis 30:1-2 & 30: 22-23, Hosea 9:11, Jeremias 18:21, 1 Kings 1:6).
• Contraception fosters disrespect for human sexuality, in particular female sexuality and fertility. Rather than being viewed as the blessing that it is, fertility becomes the problem to be fixed and pregnancy becomes the new STD.
• The past half-century has seen a phenomenal increase in the prevalence of AIDS, divorce, underage and extra-marital sex, abortion and homosexuality. While the connection is often difficult to extrapolate, it would be foolish to assume that the advent of the Pill and the acceptance of contraception by most Christian groups has had nothing to do with these upward trends.
• Apart from the spiritual and emotional consequences of birth control, contraceptives have numerous physical side-effects, including: irregular or heavy periods, headaches, breast tenderness, thrombosis, nausea and vomiting, skin problems, such as acne and blotching, weight gain, amenorrhea, ovarian cysts, pelvic infection and irritation, jaundice, lethargy, dizziness, loss of libido (how ironic), mood swings, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, increased risk of miscarriage, increased risk of infertility later in life and decreased bone mineral density (Australian Medicines Handbook 2005, pp.626-638)
But if contraception is not the answer, then what is?
If we are going to curb domestic violence and child abuse and combat poverty and a lack of education, we desperately need to get back to the basics. While a secular education is extremely important to equip a person to face life’s challenges and to choose the career which best suits him, it falls a distant second behind educating for eternity.
Children must be taught that marriage is a sacred union and that sex is a gift. Parents should encourage their children to abstain; they should have a love for chastity and a desire to save sex for marriage. Babies must be seen as a blessing, not as a burden, mistake or accident. Parents should be encouraged to raise their children well, and not half-heartedly, by palming them off to 5-day-a-week childcare institutions. If poor parenting was the exception, Professor Flynn would perhaps not have shared his controversial suggestion.
According to Doctor Emma Whiteley, of Tamworth, the key to fixing the root cause is to re-establish the Faith in the hearts and minds of Catholic parents and their children. And from that, we must re-establish the social reign of Christ the King. “Then you wouldn't have single mums, worthless dads, eleven-year-old kids in juvenile justice.”
The Church’s teaching on contraception is undoubtedly correct – one need only read Pope Paul VI’s Humane Vitae to understand the intimate connection between the contraceptive mentality and promiscuity, family break-up and brutal population control. The revolution must begin in Catholic homes.
At the very beginning of every ‘unwanted’ child is an act of sex that was either misunderstood (in the case of many married couples) or abused (in the case of pre- and extra-marital sex). If society would readjust it’s perspective of marriage, sex, the family and children, there would be no ‘accidental’ pregnancies, no abortions, no unwanted children and no supposed ‘need’ for contraception in the water supply.
(1) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10450313 Brainier mums needed to maintain future generations' intelligence, says professor, Published July 8 2007 by The New Zealand Herald, accessed online 15-07-07
(2) http://www.stuff.co.nz/4121799a11.html Published 9 July 2007 by stuff.co.nz, accessed online 20-07-07
(3) Smith, J. (2000) Humane Vitae: A Generation Later, excerpt accessed online: 01-09-07 http://www.goodmorals.org/smith6.htm
(4) Personal communication with the author, 28-08-2007
© Eva Whiteley 2008