Planned Parenthood and the contraception lie

Matt C. Abbott
July 29, 2015 © Matt C. Abbott
Reproduced with Permission

(The following column originally appeared at Catholic Online.)

Jonathan Merritt, senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing editor for The Week, has a July 22 column titled "On Planned Parenthood controversy, 'The New York Times' swings and whiffs."

In the column, Merritt makes some good points and rightly chastises The New York Times for its very predictable support of Planned Parenthood. But I have to respectfully disagree with this assertion of his:

Conservatives who cast Planned Parenthood as a morally bankrupt organization that contributes nothing of value to society are spinning a partial tale. In fact, many of Planned Parenthood's services are indispensable to women's reproductive health. Some, like contraception, actually prevent unplanned pregnancy and help decrease abortion rates.

This oft-repeated - and bogus - claim by Planned Parenthood and its supporters drives me crazy! First of all, we've had widespread promotion and availability of contraceptives for many years now, and yet there are still well over one million abortions per year. If contraception were truly a solution to abortion, there'd be far fewer abortions. Hardly any. But abortion is "needed" as a back-up for failed contraceptive use.

This has been the case for a long time.

As Brian Clowes, Ph.D., director of research for Human Life International, notes in an email to me:

Leaders of Planned Parenthood acknowledged 40 years ago that women who use contraception will have a higher rate of abortions than those who do not. This is still true today; half of all women obtaining abortions were using contraception when they got pregnant.

Also, a number of so-called contraceptives can act as abortifacients, meaning they can cause an early abortion. So, in actuality, the only contraceptives that never act as abortifacients are barrier methods: condoms and diaphragms. Thus, "with the introduction of chemical birth control, abortion statistics have not gone down - they've gone up - way up!" (Source)

Then there's the moral dimension of contraception.

From Blessed Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae 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. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation - whether as an end or as a means.

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these.

Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it - in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

Granted, the Church's infallible teaching on the intrinsic immorality of contraception is derided by the libertine left, and too few Catholics assent to it. (At least some of the blame for this sad reality falls on weak and dissident clergy, but that's a subject for another article.) Still, it's the truth, and it has to be proclaimed as such.

Ultimately, Planned Parenthood is in fact a morally bankrupt organization that deserves absolutely no financial support whatsoever - and, of course, it contributes nothing of value to society.