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More Contraception Means More Abortions, Not Fewer

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Michie, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. solid_core

    solid_core Well-Known Member

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  3. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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  4. solid_core

    solid_core Well-Known Member

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    If your church uses a logical fallacy...
     
  5. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    You know what forum you are in right?
     
  6. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Why did abortions fall so sharply under Obama for 8 years?

    And why did abortions rise under Trump in 2018?
     
  7. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    :rolleyes: This article is about the the Catholic teaching and viewpoint. Which is not being addressed. It is not about Trump, Obama or so-called logical fallacies. This was posted in the Catholic forum for Catholics and meant to be discussed in the Catholic context.


    Opponents of the Church’s teaching on contraception often argue that, if the Church were “really pro-life,” it would encourage “effective” contraception in order to reduce the number of abortions. They claim that by opposing “family planning,” the Church in fact increases the number of abortions.

    That’s often been an assertion by Planned Parenthood (although they would be quick to add there’s nothing wrong — either in principle or for their bottom line — in more abortions). In fact, one should fully expect plenty of Catholics running for office this fall to tell us how they’ll make sure “birth control” is federally funded and a part of health insurance paid for by all employers, including the Little Sisters of the Poor.

    Putting aside the claims of politicians who traffic in Catholicism for their electoral advantage, let’s examine the claim that more “contraception” will mean fewer abortions.

    I was struck, years ago, by an observation of the great Cambridge ethicist, G.E.M. (Elizabeth) Anscombe. In her brief book, Contraception and Chastity (key parts of which are available on-line here) Anscombe articulated an observation I have yet to see anybody refute. She acknowledged the claim that contraceptive access is supposed to reduce the number of abortions, but then asked us to prove that claim empirically. Not just assert it, not just claim it, not just say it — prove it. Any honest assessment of history will acknowledge no evidence for “more contraception/less abortion.” Any honest assessment of history will admit that whereverthe practice of contraception became widespread, abortion was also legalized within a generation.

    I challenge fellow Catholics: Ask the next speaker you hear pedaling the canard that “contraception reduces abortion” to name one country where contraceptive practice became broadly commonplace but abortion is not legal.

    That legalized abortion follows widespread use of contraception should not be true if the claim that contraception reduces the incidence of abortion is true. Since, however, facts are facts, it ought to make us ask why, contrary to the popular myth of “contraception reduces abortion,” the record shows that recourse to contraception and to abortion go in direct, not inverse ratio.

    I would suggest an explanation: motive.

    Every human act, i.e., every act that has moral significance because we choose it, is made of two major parts. Those parts are the end of the act (finis operis) and the end of the actor (finis operantis). Both must be good for an act to be good. Goodness is like pregnancy: either you are or you aren’t. There is no middle ground.

    Acts have their own end, independent of the intention of the person doing them. Acts “say” things by themselves, and their language is not completely plastic — they cannot be made to “say” things contrary to their nature. I cannot slap you hard in the face and then say, “I wanted to express how much I love you.” You would either take that response sarcastically or recognize that I need mental help: a blow in the face cannot express “love,” regardless of what I say. Judas’ kiss was never going to be explainable as good. The deed could never be consistent with the intention of its doer.

    Of course, acts can be good but done for bad reasons. I can donate to charity, which in itself is good, but my motive can be to promote myself as a “caring” person, vitiating the goodness of my act.

    This distinction is theoretically important: contraception and abortion in principle each has a different finis operis. Contraception in theory prevents conception; abortion in theory interrupts continued development after conception. In principle, there is a neat distinction (although, as I will explain later, these theoretical distinctions collapse in practice). The Church itself has never lumped contraception and abortion into the same basket: even St. John Paul II, in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, acknowledges that the two are “different (evils).”

    While a neat distinction in theory can be made between contraception and abortion as acts, in real life it is often the same intention driving both. Both are compatible with and encourage the attitude that the couple — or even one member of the couple — are the “lord and giver of life.” Both contraception and abortion foster the attitude that God’s gift of life must meet my approval. I am willing to act in a way that God has connected with the possibility of giving life, but I will not be bound by God’s connections — whether or not life might be given is my decision.

    It is that act of self — arrogating pride over the gift of life that makes contraception and abortion the same moral reality for most people, regardless of any theoretical distinctions between the acts themselves. Catholics might think that abortion involves killing, which involves a greater measure of prideful malice, but while the distinction is theoretically meaningful, it generally doesn’t mean much in “real life.” However valid the difference may be on an intellectual level, when both acts are motivated by the same intention — “I choose if and when life may be given” — that intention in practice undermines the theory. Opposing abortion while approving contraception generally becomes not a principled distinction but a matter of taste, largely peculiar to Catholics, while the rest of the world simply deems abortion the backup for contraceptive failure (a position endorsed by the United States Supreme Court as to why abortion-on-demand should remain legal).

    That common intention — what St. John Paul II called “fruits of the same tree” — entail an attitude towards God and his role in creation (which is exactly what giving life is) that subordinates him to me. One presumes that a Catholic needs no explanation about the moral problems in such a viewpoint.


    Having recognized that the intention most people bring to contraception and abortion is the same, thereby eventually collapsing in practice any theoretical distinction between them, let’s also consider one other point: how “contraception” works and how we speak of it in practice.

    So far, we’ve used a variety of terms in this essay: “contraception,” “birth control,” “family planning,” “abortion.” We’ve tried to control them but we’ve also used them somewhat interchangeably, because that is what our society does. The problem is that they are not synonyms. Their equivocal use only muddies important differences, rendering “theoretical” distinctions even more meaningless in fact.

    “Family planning” can entail a whole variety of things, from natural family planning (not the “rhythm method”) to contraception and sterilization to abortion. They all allow the “planning” (usually meaning “reduction”) of families. The same applies to “birth control.” Whatever stops birth from happening, contraception or abortion, is “birth control.”

    “Contraception,” however, is not what most people think it is. The etymology of the word indicates it is “against” conception, i.e., it stops conception from occurring. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has managed to redefine the word to include any means that prevent not conceptionbut implantation.

    Conception normally occurs in a woman’s Fallopian tubes. From there, the fertilized ovum gradually migrates towards her uterus, which has prepared a place for the fertilized ovum to implant in the uterine wall and continue developing throughout the rest of the pregnancy. Implantation usually occurs about 21 days after conception.

    So “contraception,” according to the ACOG, prevents not only conception but also the continued development of a fertilized ovum for up to three weeks after conception. Precise terminology would have us speak of methods that have both contraceptive and abortifacient actions. The Pill probably works this way, both preventing conception from occurring as well as interrupting uterine development so that the fertilized ovum has no uterine lining in which to embed and so dies. The Intrauterine Device also probably has an abortifacient function because, by constantly scraping the uterine wall, it also prevents formation of uterine conditions necessary for implantation of a fertilized ovum.

    Calling abortifacients “contraceptives” allows for overcoming the refined squeamishness of those who have no problem with contraception but might hesitate about early term pharmaceutical abortion. The same goal is advanced by calling it all “family planning” and then using demagoguery to claim that those — like the Little Sisters — with moral objections to paying for abortifacients (i.e., those who bother to cut through the smoke and mirrors of what Paul Greenberg calls “verbicide”) are “taking away access to birth control.”

    Given the deliberate confusion of language that exists and is reinforced today, the neat theoretical distinction between contraception and abortion — so vital to subscribers to the myth of “more contraception means less abortion” — is one that is in practice meaningless. To be brutally honest, its sole value is to provide a fig leaf for those Catholics who might swallow contraception but strain at abortion.


    That’s a declining tribe, anyway: back in 1968 Charles Curran was insisting that he and his fellow pro-contraceptive “dissidents” against Humanae vitae had issue only with that part of Catholic sexual morality, but by 1974 Daniel Maguire was approving abortion. Later, resigned priest Maguire and his wife became the spiritus moventes of the political action group, “Catholics for a Free Choice,” a Catholic Potemkin Village promoting legal abortion. Catholics still intent on maintaining some theoretical demarcation between contraception and abortion might want to ask themselves how Catholic was their outcome, assuming that “by their fruits you will know them.”

    Another reason for pushing the shibboleth that contraception reduces abortion is that it gives certain Catholics cover. Catholics take it to mean that contraception should make abortion unnecessary (and, therefore, it should decline). But proponents of abortion and contraception (most advocates support both) take it to mean that while contraception might be the first recourse of those wanting to avoid a birth, both contraception and abortion need to be commonplace because they reinforce and back up each other. At least let’s stop the equivocation of language.

    So, while contraception and abortion are in theory different, in real life they lead to and reinforce each other. At this point, proponents of contraception may still say “but in real life, people don’t want to have X children” and “so they will choose as they see fit.” While that position is certainly not Catholic, neither is it intellectually rigorous. Resorting to it as one’s final defense implies, in the end, the theoretical “distinction” between contraception and abortion means nothing to such opponents. It is only a smokescreen to win supporters but, when push comes to shove, their position is not a matter of reason but of sheer will in support of utilitarian aims. One might ultimately adopt that position. But at least let us ask for an admission that reason has nothing to do with it, and for the intellectual honesty to forego recycling the myth that “more contraception will mean less abortion.”
     
  8. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    As someone that agrees with the general prohibitions on abortion and contraception, both....

    I was left wondering back then (after being convinced against contraception) about the exception called "Catholic Natural Family Planning".

    I was surprised when my good Catholic friend answered that this sort was ok. I don't yet understand how this particular form of 'contraception' is considered ok, so perhaps an article would help?

    Here's where I'm hung up on understanding that -- the above article, a key point (the same one that convinced me back then ) -- "Both contraception and abortion foster the attitude that God’s gift of life must meet my approval. " It would seem that 'natural family planning' would be ruled out for this same reason?

     
  9. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What's your data? Abortion numbers peaked in 1985 to 1990 years and have slowly been dropping since then. Gutmacher thinks they were lower in 2017 than 2016 and they only have guesses for 2018 and 2019.

    So why did abortions drop SHARPLY under Obama for 8 years? They didn't drop sharply. They continued to drop as the result of a LONG trend way bigger than Obama.

    Why did abortions rise under Trump in 2018? Maybe you have the hottest new data for how much they have raised, but as of November 2019 there is no evidence of a rise. The data appears to be incomplete for 2018 and 2019.

    Abortion statistics in the United States - Wikipedia
     
  10. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's pretty simple. Contraception involves an action to prevent conception, an immoral act which makes sex infertile. Natural Family Planning involves no action against conception other than not having sex on some particular days. It does not make any sexual act infertile.

    NFP can be used immorally, if one uses it to never have children, to use it selfishly, and the like. But it is sort of OK if it is not used to deny God's creative will for us. One is accepting of any new life that comes from having sex and does not act against it. Then it's just not having sex once in a while, hardly immoral.
     
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  11. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Correlation is not causation. You are right about that. But when people contracept, and the almost inevitable failure happens, abortion is often their option of choice. Thus more contraception means more failures of contraception, means more abortions. So the correlation does have a plausible mechanism, one where people committed enough to not having a child that they will contracept are also committed enough to not having a child to kill it.

    We are told that improving access to contraception decreases abortion. Contraception has been ubiquitous for multiple decades. Abortion should have disappeared entirely. But the fact is abortion is follow-up contraception for the failure of the first method. I think many things can explain the slow drop in abortions in the past 30 years, but I have my doubts that increasing access to contraception, when the access was already ubiquitous, explains it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  12. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Ok, thanks. I didn't consider this to be important to resolve, but it was something I wondered about. I'm definitely not a 'critic' making an 'argument', but someone trying to understand. I think perhaps I'm influenced by the way my Catholic friend explained things to me years ago -- that we allow God to decide these things. (So, perhaps because of this understanding/attitude -- I agreed with my friend that we should allow God to decide -- these particular analogies in the first article didn't quite address my own question, because compared to allowing God to choose, if I reschedule the wedding to make an outcome much less likely, then I've taken over deciding on my own in that case. ) This isn't a pressing question for me though, nor one that I argue with anyone about, but just something I don't understand.

    The other analogy of refraining from eating as one method of dieting vs purging as another method was interesting, though it mostly just offered another way to show contraception wrong, I thought. Regarding food, a person has to eventually eat was my thought. I don't have to have this question resolved, and I don't feel it's a point to argue on with anyone, but I'm still wondering.
     
  13. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    It seems we would have to discuss things like data in another forum. But I could respond with an opinion about one thing of the several questions.

    About why I think abortions fell more rapidly (at a faster rate of decline) under Obama than during other time periods of decline under other presidents, I could offer my opinion, -- I got my opinion from carefully looking at the graphs over time. And also my opinion about the why question that would imply -- Why did abortions fall so much under Obama? -- My thought is that Obama was usually exemplary in showing a stable marriage and self control and....love -- all of these together, not just 1 -- and that sets an example that influences at least some teens growing towards adulthood, and then they when older follow his general example, at least some portion of young adults.
     
  14. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Data is data. Not much available on abortion numbers in 2018 and 2019. Not consensus numbers anyhow, considering the different methodologies used to obtain the numbers.
    George W. Bush saw a decline and he exemplified those same things. Bill Clinton didn't exemplify those things and yet there was a decline anyway. I think you are making too much of Obama moving the curve. One could just as easily make the case that tightening state regulations on abortion were responsible, things Obama opposed. Or the contraceptive mandate worked, except that contraception has long been ubiquitous. I'm not sure how to explain it all but I don't see enough in the data to show any huge Obama effect and a following Trump countereffect. I think it fits a narrative but I just don't see it in the data. You can see it if you wish.
     
  15. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Interestingly in 1995, the year during which we later in time retrospectively found out that Clinton began a wrongful sexual relation -- that is a year when the graph shows the decline in abortions suddenly flatten for a while (going from a significant rate of decline before 1995 to near flat in 1995), and then after 1995 the decline resumes, but at a slower rate than pre 1995. (and, a more rapid rate of decline finally returned/resumed again during Obama's term.)

    This is why I began to think the influence of how a President acts -- his demeanor /behavior -- appears to have some effect. Mind, we know for sure it's not the only factor.

    (also, if you wish to discuss 2018 in actual detail, I'd be happy to, but expect we need a new thread or another thread)
     
  16. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    :sigh: I give up.
     
  17. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not sure about Obama's wholesomeness as a cause of anything. GW Bush appeared even more wholesome to some. The decline is multi-causal. I think the advances in abortion restrictions by the states did more than anything. But we could argue all day.
     
  18. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Sounds like we have largely the same views on those parts (not precisely the same but a lot alike), sans the 2018 data, which I won't post here.
     
  19. Chrystal-J

    Chrystal-J the one who stands firm to the end will be saved Supporter

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    Don't give up, there are people reading who agree (but don't post).
    I saw a guy on EWTN who tried to justify contraception and abortion. The irony is none of this would be discussed by him (or others) if people kept sexual relations where they belong--in a marital bond. But he was there trying to say abortion was "Ok" under certain situations. He got set straight by the other guest in the segment.
     
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