Being Pro Life: Catholic Bioethics in a morally confused world.
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings – and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation – need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. (Paul VI, Pope, 1897-1978, Humanae Vitae, 17).
This quote from St. Pope Paul VI’s famous encyclical on artificial birth control, Humanae Vitae, has proven prophetic, even 50 years later. He affirmed Church teaching that marital love is about giving oneself completely to the other, using the words “total,” “faithful” and “fecund” (fruitful). He went on to discuss the damage that a relationship incurs when those principles are disregarded, and how it would damage society as a whole as well.
I spoke with Dr. Diann Ecret of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) about artificial birth control. In addition to Church teaching, Dr. Ecret also spoke about the medical problems with artificial birth control. There are physical health risks such as heart disease, loss of bone density and even infertility after ceasing their use. She also discussed emotional side effects such as depression and lowered libido. The modern world downplays these risks, declaring them the tolerable side effects of a drug designed to cure an illness – as if pregnancy is comparable to death. Advocates of birth control also seem to presume that there are only two options for people: artificial birth control or pregnancy. They ignore the very real and positive choices of abstinence for single people and Natural Family Planning for married couples, a family-planning method that promotes respect, mutual love and other virtues essential for a fulfilling marriage.
On the other end of the fertility spectrum is help for those who are battle infertility. I spoke with Dr. Paul Day, a local family physician, about solutions for infertility. One of the more commonly-known methods today is in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is contrary to Church teaching for several reasons. First, it uses technology to replace the marital act, treating children as products. Secondly, IVF can lead to abortion if more embryos are successfully implanted than are desired. Finally, IVF produces multiple embryos, the majority of which are either discarded or frozen in storage. There are hundreds of thousands of human beings stored in fertility clinics around the world and possibly millions already discarded.
Is there hope for Catholics who suffer from infertility? The answer is, yes, and it is called NaPro Technology. This is treatment that works cooperatively with a woman’s body to restore fertility naturally. It begins with charting and hormone tests. Treatments can include hormone supplementation and/or corrective surgery, among others. To learn more, visit naprotechnology.com. Of course adoption and foster care are beautiful ways to make a family, as well.
This is neither the end of the story nor the end of bioethics topics. Tune in to the full interviews of Drs. Ecret and Day, as well as my interview with Dr. Ted Furton on common vaccines developed from aborted fetal tissue lines. I also interviewed Bobby Schindler on end-of-life issues in light of his experience with the 2005 court-ordered cessation of life support for his sister, Terri Schiavo. Watch the video interviews and listen to the podcasts from our website at www.catholicaoc.org/being-pro-life. Let us strive to educate ourselves so we can all take a stand for life on these important medical issues.
BEING PRO-LIFE PODCASTS Click on name to direct you to the podcast!
Dr. Ted Furton, vaccines & aborted fetal cell lines
Dr. DiAnn Ecret, artificial birth control
Dr. Paul Day, ethical and unethical treatment for infertility
Terri Schaivo’s death and Catholic teaching on end-of- life issues
This article was printed in the September edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.