(In honour of the 50 years since the publication of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical: Humanae Vitae)
The slogan of those who are pro-choice is that they stand for women’s rights. But are these so-called “rights” actually good for women? Abortion and contraception, actions considered and promoted by society as liberating to women, are both really harmful to women.
The effects of contraception may not be obvious at first, but contraception paves the way to a large number of evils: greater objectification of women, fornication, divorce and marital infidelity among them. As Pope Paul VI described in the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, contraception makes women more vulnerable to being used by men, for “…a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires…”. The use of contraception is also likely to lead to divorce, from the objectification described above; the practice of fornication and a couple living together before marriage – a practice that has been proven to lead to greater rates of divorce; or because there are no children to unite a couple in a common goal and keep them from drifting apart in their own selfish directions after the ‘being in love’ feeling subsides. Additionally, contraceptive practices pave the way to marital infidelity, because adulterous acts can be more easily kept a secret.
The evil consequences of abortion are more obvious – the death of the baby, and later on, the guilt and remorse, anxiety and depression, sadness and sense of loss felt by the mother, all common emotional effects of abortion – symptoms coined by psychologists as “Post-Abortion Syndrome.” Also, women oftentimes feel pressured into abortion by a partner, husband, or family member, or pressured to keep the abortion a secret and to suppress their feelings – and these things lead to greater emotional pain afterwards. It is true that oftentimes pregnant mothers can find themselves in very difficult situations, but resorting to the ‘easy way out’ is not best for them in the long run.
Why then does society consider abortion and contraception pro-woman, and even rights that women have? How has society gone so wrong? I believe it all arises ultimately from a misplaced notion of freedom and happiness. Happiness is not found in disregarding the natural law, but in keeping it; and freedom is not the license to do whatever you want, but the ability to keep the natural law. “For man cannot attain that true happiness for which he yearns with all the strength of his spirit, unless he keeps the laws which the Most High God has engraved in his very nature.” (Humanae Vitae)
While the solutions offered by those who are pro-choice may seem to solve the problems encountered by women, they do not look ahead to the long-term consequences. It is the Church who protects the dignity of women and safeguards their true good in her teachings and commandments. It is Pro-life, and not Pro-choice, that is Pro-Woman.
In all that we do, we too must ask ourselves: What is truly good? What will ultimately fulfil me and lead me to true and lasting happiness? What will lead me closer to God? It may not be the apparent good, or an immediate or pleasing solution, but, as St. Catherine of Sienna stated: “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
Let us pray for those women tempted to resort to abortion and contraception, that they may find the strength to endure, and so receive that which is truly good for them.
Paul VI. Encyclical Letter. Humanae Vitae. Can be found at the Vatican website