Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Life Equation, Part III

[Today's post by Nick Reynosa is part 3 of a four-part series. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.]

[Editor's note: This post was written prior to the announcement of the Hobby Lobby decision. Wherever you come down on that decision, it's worth mentioning that even the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs, who are devoutly religious and passionate enough to take their case to the Supreme Court, do not object to most forms of contraception. The case involved four types of contraception; Hobby Lobby willingly provides another sixteen.]

If pro-lifers are anti-contraception as pro-choicers suggest, then we certainly are ignoring a tool that undoubtedly prevents millions of unplanned pregnancies and hundreds of thousands of abortions. Is the pro-choice assertion true? A contingent of the pro-life movement is Catholic, and the official teaching of the Catholic Church does reject the use contraception. But this population is but one part of just one pillar of the movement.

Briefly, the pro-life movement consists of:
  1. Conservative Catholics 
  2. Non-Conservative Catholics 
  3. Protestants 
  4. Non-Christian Religious Pro-Lifers
  5. Non-Religious Pro-lifers
Of these five groups, only the first can be said to have a marked anti-contraceptive bias. And polling suggests that this group is quite small. 82 percent of Catholic women find contraceptive use morally acceptable. Only 2 percent of Catholic women use the form of contraception recommended by the Catholic Church, natural family planning, regularly. 91 percent of the conservative evangelical Protestants use contraception regularly. And of course, non-religious pro-lifers have consistently encouraged responsible contraceptive use.

In labeling the pro-life movement anti-contraception, the pro-choice movement has cherry picked the views of a minority of pro-lifers to argue against the pro-life movement as a whole. In framing the birth control issue this way the pro-choice movement has sought to claim a monopoly on the great successes of expanded contraceptive use. However, pro-lifers of all creeds who have consistently championed responsible contraceptive use are equally entitled to claim as much credit.

The bottom line is that the contraceptive variable belongs in both equations. Since contraception use can be advanced regardless of the legal policy on abortion, this variable does not effect the relative merits of the pro-life and pro-choice policies. So for purposes of the life equation, I will assume that perfect access to contraception can cut the abortion rate in half, whether abortion is legal or not.

Tomorrow, I will conclude this series with an examination of the most controversial variable of them all: women's deaths in legal versus illegal abortions.


Crystal Kupper said...

I seriously hate it when people tell me I hate sex and then in the next breath tell me I'm anti-birth control. Really? How can I personally be both?

Michael said...

Please do a little serious research. NFP is not contraception. And where do you get your 2pc figure? Is that worldwide or in the USA.

Guest said...

I'd agree that, at least in principle, pro-lifers can support expanded access to contraception. But I think it would be pretty easy to argue that the pro-choice side as a whole does much more to promote contraception and comprehensive sex-ed than the pro-life movement. Furthermore, the pro-life movement is strictly Catholic in some countries (ie most of Latin America) and is against birth control. There are also some methods (ella, probably the IUD, and maybe others) that have post-fertilization effects at least some of the time, so all pro-lifers are (or should be) opposed to them.

Also, a 50% reduction in the abortion rate is way too high. There was that St. Louis study, but all it demonstrated was that you can reduce the unplanned pregnancy rate by persuading women to get IUDs. It didn't show that more access to contraception is what's needed.

Anne Hijme said...

Actually it is. I tend to use the phrase 'Fertility Awareness' or Planned Parenthood use the term 'Fertility Awareness-Based Methods' known as FAM. There are minute differences between FAM and NFP. It is listed under their list of Birth Control methods. It also perfectly fits the definition from of 'contraception'.

It is a set of techniques to be aware as a female when you are most fertile and likely to get pregnant. This information can be used to either get pregnant or avoid it. It to me is one of the best because you get to know your own cycle and quirks because you pay more attention to it.

So do a little research yourself on this subject.

ann said...

The one thing that annoys me about contraception is that aside from condoms the whole of it rests on women. We are expected to use harmful chemicals or devices that can cause permanent physical damage. NFP seems to be the only safe form.

Maria said...

Please don't forget about non-Catholic, non-Protestant Christian pro-lifers, a.k.a. Eastern Orthodox pro-lifers!

Michael said...

Thanks! I agree with your comment that NFP is one of the best methods of family planning, and not only because it allows the woman to gain a very detailed knowledge of her cycle and take personal responsibility, but also because she can share this information with her partner and thus work together. It's about relationships.

I don't consider or PP to be very reliable sources. I wouldn't take them seriously if I saw them in a scientific discussion.

The distinction is VERY subtle, I will admit. The main advantage of NFP is that it works WITH human biology without "censoring" any aspect. You use the infertile times that are ALREADY THERE, rather than trying to reduce fertility artificially.

Michael said...

NFP can indeed be used to get pregnant. But it is incredibly effective in postponing pregnancy too.

Michael said...

If you want to be philosophically consistent, you must admit that NFP is the only acceptable form of family planning, based on the fact that medically it's not reasonable to interfere with healthy, functioning, major organs and systems, plus the basic human rights to education, knowledge of one's one body, and the empowering self-determination that comes from awareness of when (as a couple) one would or would not get pregnant. This holds for men as much as women! Think of the economic arguments too. Why should (poorer) families rely on state and big business providing them drugs or operations when they could learn NFP and indeed go on to teach it to many others themselves, having the tools and knowledge themselves instead of paying someone to keep up the system...

myintx said...

FYI: The CDC lists NFP (Fertility Awareness-Based Methods) as a 'contraceptive'. More effective than spermicides.

And early withdrawal is also listed.. Use of FAM and Early withdrawal together would reduce odds of getting pregnant to about 5% per woman per year (as opposed to 24% for FAM and 85% for no use)

Marauder said...

Yeah, people act like NFP is some sort of Catholic voodoo, but it's centered around knowing the physical indications of ovulation. There's nothing inherently religious or anti-scientific about that.