In July of 1968, fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI issued his watershed encyclical condemning birth control, Humanae Vitae.
Its central premise speaks, authoritatively, the beautiful truth that sexual act reaches its fullness when it fosters conjugal intimacy, is open to procreation, and is lived out in the context of responsible parenthood. The conscious choice to artificially block procreation violates the integrity, beauty, and fullness of that act.
Has this prediction proved accurate? We now see a national rate of divorce of 50% in the United States, (having been at 3% for the first year in 1969).
Today we experience an ongoing wave of sexual abuse scandals in Hollywood and television, politics, college campuses and beyond. The pornography industry earns an estimated $95 billion a year globally. The recent #MeToo movement cut across every demographic and only seems to grow.
Two blatant examples come to mind: The HHS Mandate vs. Little Sisters of The Poor (a seven-year ordeal that finally ended with a federal rollback in the fall of 2017), China’s One Child Policy (officially suspended in 2015 but still wrecking havoc on demographics and has done irreparable harm to families, women and souls).
– New England Journal of Medicine (2017) – Women using the pill have a 20% higher risk of breast cancer or even 40% higher in cases of prolonged use.
– American Journal of Psychiatry also reports that women on hormonal contraceptives have a 70% higher risk of depression and are 3 times more likely to die by suicide.
– Increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, depression, loss of fertility, and more.
Could Pope Paul VI have been right about artificial contraception? As the Church marks the 50-year anniversary of his landmark encyclical, now is the perfect time to read (or reread) Humanae Vitae and to re-educate ourselves on the grave implications – personal and sociological – of the Pill, IUDs, and other forms of contraception.
Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon / unsplash.com
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