home
RSS
My Take: Why I’m a Catholic for contraception
February 10th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

My Take: Why I’m a Catholic for contraception

Editor's Note: Karalen L. Morthole is a senior majoring in political science at Catholic University of America.

By Karalen L. Morthole, Special to CNN

I have been a Catholic my whole life. Baptized as a baby and confirmed in the seventh grade, I attended weekly catechism classes and received a Jesuit education. Never once did the opinion of the church on a person's use of contraceptives surface.

In high school, I was prescribed birth control to balance my hormones. I suffered from terrible mood swings that had negative effects on my relationship with my family and got me into trouble with teachers. I also experienced menstrual cramps so painful as to be debilitating; sometimes, they left me unable to move.

My mother, a devout Catholic, had no problem with my taking birth control, because she recognized the dramatic effects this simple medication had on my life. Birth control gave me a new, healthy and balanced way to live. As a 22-year-old woman, I am able to think more rationally because of birth control.

Teachers at the Jesuit high school I attended urged students to protect themselves when they became sexually active, to use condoms to stamp out the risk of contracting a viral sexually transmitted disease that would affect the rest of their lives. Some would criticize my teachers for that, but I thank them. My peers and I were taught by caring and realistic teachers with experience making decisions to promote their own health. Some had seen the horrors of sexually transmitted diseases.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Birth control, condoms and emergency contraception have all served their purpose in my life, because each work in different preventative ways. Birth control has aided my mental health, giving me a clearer head; condoms have protected me from contracting diseases from sexual partners. Emergency contraceptives were there when I was uncertain about whether I’d become pregnant and needed reassurance. I’m not ready to raise a child on my own.

Even though the official Catholic Church teaches against contraceptives, I do not feel immoral using them. They’ve allowed me to live my life without the fear of unwanted pregnancies or deadly diseases.

My religion has played a large part of my life, laying the groundwork for my personal relationship with God. It has taught me how to respect others, be a human with integrity and help those in need. Catholicism is a beautiful religion that supports family values and tolerance of others and leads us to serve others, a teaching I’ve adapted into my everyday living. The Catholic Church does an exceptional job standing up for those who live in poverty and suffer injustices.

But on contraception, the Catholic bishops have taken a stance that violates the basic rights that affect millions of Catholics across the country and shows a lack of concern for women's health.

It is disheartening that the Catholic bishops were so opposed to the Obama administration's decision to require religious institutions like hospitals and colleges to provide their faculty, staff and students with access to reproductive health care, which includes birth control, emergency contraceptives and condoms. Even after the White House announced a revised policy Friday that exempts religious institutions from having to pay for the contraception coverage, at least one bishop voiced disgust. The U.S. bishops said in a statement Friday that it's "too soon to tell whether and how much improvement (there's been) on core concerns."

The bishops have gone so far as to threaten to cease health care coverage to the faculty and staff at my college if it’s forced to comply with the Affordable Health Care Act.

Even though the church will not support women's health needs and denies them opportunities to care for their physical and mental health, it does apparently condone other uses for condoms. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI endorsed the use of condoms for male prostitutes, saying condoms “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility,” and could help “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

In my view, any sexual activity that spreads deadly diseases is sinful because it shows complete disregard for human health and human life. The Catholic Church believes that condoms negatively impact the sexual lives of men and women, preventing reproduction and the creation of life.

I believe that condoms are, in fact, pro-life. They help women and men act responsibly in regards to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Condoms also prevent unintended pregnancies that could result in abortions, another issue that the Catholic Church has strong views about.

As a Catholic, I stand with President Obama's decision to require religious institutions to provide access to contraceptives. I believe that birth control can be used by religious people without having a negative effect on someone’s faith. Catholics value human life. I believe that includes acknowledging the rights of women to take care of our bodies.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Karalen L. Morthole.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (1,826 Responses)
  1. El Flaco

    A traditional Catholic belief, in the Middle Ages, was that when a good Christian woman died, she would be transformed into a man when she entered heaven. The reasoning of Catholic scholars was that nothing imperfect would be allowed in Heaven, so naturally she would become a man.

    This is no longer taught. Was the Church wrong in this teaching then? Or is the Church wrong in its teaching now?

    February 11, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • kendallpeak

      An error in logical argument. "A was, I believe, wrong yesterday, so A is wrong today." This is a simple illogical argument one can learn about in first year of University. How about this one. I wish to say I belong to group A, but I disagree with and do not follow the teachings of group A, so group A is wrong and should change to accomodate me. Also illogical. Perhaps we should join the group Boyscouts who are dishonest and hate camping.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      The point is Aquinas taught women were "imperfect" men.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  2. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Why don't the catholics have an issue with viagra prescriptions? It's okay to help men out in that area, but not women? Sounds like misogyny. If I were catholic, I would look for a more accepting, open-minded religion.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • GlennUpNorth

      One is a disability, the other is not.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So it's okay for old coots to continue to have s3x even though "God" made them impotent?

      Yeah, good try.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. peteh

    The birth control issue is a smokescreen. Obama is dividing America once again. He knows that a majority favors birth control. He knows he has that majority behind him when it comes to pushing something down the minority's throat. What happens though, when he uses the authority the majority gave him to push something down the throat of that majority? It's too late. They already gave Obama the power and the precedent. Think about it...

    February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

      That's what it's all about pal, the majority.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • El Flaco

      If a hospital secretary picks up a packet of birth control pills at Walgreens, what Catholic is denied religious freedom? What Catholic is prevented from worship? What Catholic would even know? Where is the harm?

      February 11, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  4. David Rudmin

    The poor girl in this article probably was indoctrinated with "Funamental Option Theory," "Situationalism," or "Consequentialism." These moral theories from the 1960's and 70's amounted to the message: "It's okay to commit serious sins, as long as your heart remains centered on God." But you can't love God while you're sinning against Him. They were unequivocally condemned by John Paul II in the 1993 encyclical "Veritatis Splendor." By even 1 mortal sin–a fully-knowing and fully-deliberate act against God's law (the 10 commandments)–you reject God, too, and thereby merit eternal separation from God and punishment in Hell.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • El Flaco

      God told you this personally?

      February 11, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Lilyrosalie

      You can love God while sinning against Him, isn't that the point of Confession and penance?? It would all make so much more sense if it were not for the fact that the clergy has sinned and covered up for each other's sins in a much greater way than fornication. Judgement begins with the house of God. "Any one who harms one of these little ones, it would have better for them not to have been born or to have a millstone tied around their necks and drowned in the deepest sea." -Jesus Christ himself said that. He also said that "He who has no sin may cast the first stone" and "Judge not that you be not judged, for with what ever measure you judge by, you also will be judged." I am hoping for His greatest Mercy, so I try to live my life by being merciful and nonjudgemental. The churches teach lots of things, but often they don' abide and live by what they teach. Be merciful to others.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • kendallpeak

      Actually elflaco, God teaches us a great deal personaly. To hear Him one must pray, read the Bible, and congregate with fellow Christians. Study "Judges" with knowledgable Christians and you will see the foolishness of if it feels good God must approve.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      You have never read your Catechism. There are 3 requirements for mortal sin. One of them, YOU have no way of judging. Only God.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  5. julibear

    God may create all pregnancies but its fallible men and women who have to deal with those babies. This woman is 100% right about the hypocrisy of the church, and the fact that birth control and condoms actually support life in healthy sustainable ways. It would be just grand if each teen mother was attended by a host of angels and had a team of saints to help her raise her baby, but that is not the case. We may have faith that there's a God out there, but God doesn't babysit. The Obama rule simply support the end user healthcare, not the employer. The Republicans want to put the power in the hands of the religious right or corporations and in this case they're one and the same. 98% of Catholics support the use of birth control. No matter how sacred life is, its a downward spiral without decent parenting, healthcare, education, money, a safe place to live and good food to eat.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  6. Olya

    I am an agnostic, meaning I do not know whether some Ultimate Power exists or not. I'm all for contraception in any amounts and for any purpose. Using birth control for the sole purpose of healing an illness may be one thing, but you can't cherrypick which rules of your religion you like and which you do not. You have your holy book and if you are to call yourself a true devout christian of any kind, you better follow that book to a T. I don't believe in that book, so I wouldn't dream of it. But for you, do not cherrypick! That's too easy.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  7. Paul

    Thank you Karalen for a very for a very insightful opinion on this age old controversy that in the 21st century should not be an issue. Everyone has the right to all types of contraceptives; I too am a life long Catholic and I find many of the extreme Catholics take many verses of the Bible out of context. I don't believe a loving and caring God is going to send us to hell for choosing how we live our lives as long as we love and care for one another, treat each other with respect and show our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ we can follow his teachings of love, respect and forgiveness.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. Miguel

    Contraception and the Catholic Church are secondary issues in this fiasco.
    The primary issue is we have a sitting president in Obama, who through his executive order is forcing a directiive that goes against religious freedoms. Fortunately people responded to this assault and his majesty was forced to back down.

    Note how quickly his stance was modified when he thought he was losing key swing state Catholic voters. Sorry it does not wash, Obama messed up in a big way, showed his true colors – and anyone who thinks he will not try to reinstate his original order – once he is safely re-elected, along with his other "Bigger Society" objectives – is deluding themselves.

    We won't be fooled again by the smooth dulcet tones of this weasel.
    Sponsored by Hope and Change Inc. ... and Audacity Company

    February 11, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • mom of 2

      Unfortunately I agree in this particular situation. It's hard for me to admit that because I voted for him the first time, not decided if I'll do it again, especially sense my other options are that great.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • bct21

      I agree. It's about religious freedoms and not really contraception. I am Catholic & voted for O in 2008 but will be rethinking based on this (and the year we ignored the Great Recession while focusing on heath care that will be repealed).

      February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      And you think "changed my mind again" Romney, Gingrich, the thrice married philanderer, but "oh I asked for forgiveness", or Santorum.."lets bomb Iran, and have an abortion when it's convenient" is any better. All advanced Western democracies, EXCEPT the US have universal health care. THAT is the issue.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • julibear

      In this case the Obama rule is supporting the individual! People of many different faiths work for that Catholic hospital, and why should they be denied healthcare services because of their employer? Would we deny coverage for blood transfusions for people who work for a Mormon hospital? Everyone's screaming about individual rights and liberties–this ruling supports the individual american in their choices to use or not use contraception!! The decision to cover basic items like the pill should not be left in the hands of a corporation, which is what the Church is!

      February 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  9. LIberalsSux

    Got the love the liberal media! You go George Soros!

    February 11, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  10. McBain05

    What a great article by an insightful young woman. Perhaps she can help bring Catholics out of the 14th century.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  11. MontanaTrace

    It's a not so subtle attack by the President. It's only one of his missions, to bring down the churches.

    A black guy, an illegal alien, a muslim, and a communist walk into a bar.
    The bartender asks, "What can I get you . . . Mr. President ? "

    February 11, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • daisy

      that's so disgusting and so are you for spreading lies. How many times does President Obama have to show his birth certificate, say he's a christian etc before you people believe him. Stop GOP lies!!

      February 11, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • visitor

      Don't trouble yourself with him Daisy. He married his cousin.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Benjamin

    It is sad to know Ms. Morthole is lacking in a sound Catholic education, especially after being in Catholic schools for so long.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • LIberalsSux

      no kidding! the morning after pill-is pretty much the gateway drug to an abortion! which is also cover in obama's health care plan!

      February 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Another ignoramus heard from. The morning after pill prevents conception and therefore abortion. Educate yourself.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  13. Robert

    "Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

    ~ G.K. Chesterton, (May 29, 1874 – June 14, 1936) a prolific English writer also known as the "Apostle of Common Sense" who convertd to Catholicism after being a Unitarian most of his life.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  14. mom of 2

    I am a Catholic (by Catholic I mean, regularly attend church, send my children to Catholic school, and work in many ministries) I also use contraception, but I don't think that organizations the church runs should have to pay for anything they oppose – even it I don't oppose it. I also don't think this is about women's health or prevention. Although I take the Pill, I also know that there are risks to my health for doing so. Taking a synthetic hormone for years isn't good for anyone's health and my doctor has already told me I need to start thinking about something else so I can get off the pill. Finally, I don't agree with the people on here stating that she's not a Catholic simply because she doesn't agree with every aspect of Church teaching. Read the Bible and you will see that Jesus also didn't agree, even though he was a Jew. After all, my faith is my OWN personal relationship with God and being Catholic is the community I choose to worship my faith with, so it would be ridiculous to think that everyone would agree with everything all the time. Religion is man made, but I understand there are traditions and principal the Church feel connected to – so I respect them, but not blindly.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • McBain05

      They don't have to pay for it. That was the compromise reached recently.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Tom R

      You certainly may believe whatever you want, but why not be honest about it and choose a religion consistent with your belief? What you believe is certainly not Catholic. Jesus Christ may have disagreed with Jewish tradition, that's not relevant – he founded the Christian faith.

      I don't understand why you so called Catholics don't simply choose the Anglican Church, which allows all of these beliefs on contraception.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • LIberalsSux

      @ McBain05-you must not have a brain or think irrationally. You really think the insurance companies/drug companies are going to pick up the tab? They will just past the cost back to the consumer.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • mom of 2

      Why is it not Catholic? I have talked about this with many priest and NONE have a agreed with you. Also, I believe in the sacraments of the Church and in the celebration of the Eucharist. My body can't physically have anymore children, so I do what I can to keep myself healthy for the wonderful children God has blessed my with.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • LIberalsSux

      @ Tom R-you hit the nail square on the head. This girl in the article isn't Catholic. If so, she needs to go to confession.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Tom R

      Because your belief is contrary to established doctrine. I doubt that your priests told you differently. Read "Humane Vitae" and get back to me on this. Look, I'm not condemning you, I'm asking you to be intellectually honest. There is a faith that accepts your beliefs, exactly as they are. It's the Anglican Church. For the life of me, I can't understand why you don't follow it, especially since you believe it is the truth, and the doctrine of the Catholic Church to be in error.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      Jesus did NOT "found" anything. The "church" was formed by his followers, who fought like cats and dogs over the meaning of those events. Jesus' brother James was in total disagreement with Paul, (who actually "founded most of the concepts we, today, think of as "Christianity"). Wouldn't the eye witnesses know more ? It should be called Paulianity.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Flinders, unless you follow the teachings of Mark. There are some that think that the coptics are the "truest" form of the church. A lot less mumbo-jumbo that was INVENTED after the fact, if in fact, any of it is factual.

      February 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  15. Butterflyer1223

    I hate how much time I waste reading comments about this topic. If you can function in society, provide for your family, and treat others with respect, I don't care what religion or practices you follow. Just don't push them on me.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • kendallpeak

      Isn't making people pay for something you believe in, but they don't, forcing things on them?

      February 11, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • peteh

      OK. Fair enough. Don't equire me to do what is against my faith either...

      February 11, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • McBain05

      Providing access to a service or product is not forcing you to use it. It provides a choice.

      The compromise that was reached means the organizations aren't even paying for it.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • LIberalsSux

      @ McBain05-you must not have a brain or think irrationally. You really think the insurance companies/drug companies are going to pick up the tab? They will just past the cost back to the consumer.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  16. Ann

    Catholics aren't against birth control. They promote natural family planning, which is something that is natural and embraces the way a women's body works, not find fault in a woman's cycle by using medication to fix it as if you were diseased. If you trust in God and love your husband, then you wouldn't need to create a barrier between you and your husband. If Catholics actually took the time to understand the teachings in regards to birth control, they would understand its about loving yourself and they body that God gave you and living your life as God created the woman. This lady is wrong, birth control does not promote Pro-life. The very definition of a contraceptive means against conception...which means against life. I won't judge this woman on how devout she thinks she is, but I truly think that she needs to understand the teaching behind this theology and how contraceptions actually disrespects a women's body.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • bct21

      Amen sister. 🙂

      February 11, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • K2

      The Rhythm method you mention is no where near as effective as modern methods. I contend the use of modern birth control has only become a sin, because the Catholic Church has said it is.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • bct21

      @K2 I don't know about the Rhythm Method but we've used Natural Famliy Planning and The Creighton Model successfully for over 10 years. To both get pregnant and not.

      Please educate yourself on the medical science behind the pill. That leads to the understanding why many think it's a sin.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • K2

      @bct21 – I'm well aware of how the pill prevents pregnancy. The Catholic Church deemed birth control a sin prior to the advent of the pill, so it didn't play into their decree. The list of items throughout history, the Catholic Church has deemed sinful is long and flawed. It's up to the individual how they hat is sinful or not and only God can determine if it is, not the Pope.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • AGuest9

      So, yahweh didn't really strike Onan dead for "spilling his seed"?

      February 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  17. j.a.m.

    The writer is hopelessly confused. She confesses rather blithely that she is guilty of fornication. It's rather pointless to talk about contraception when there is a greater underlying sin.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So taking Newt's history into account, it is rather pointless talking about becoming the president when there is a greater underlying sin...

      February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Mark

      Amen!

      February 11, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • AGuest9

      What sin is that?

      February 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  18. Tom R

    This girl can call herself a Catholic all she wants, but she isn't Catholic in the least. CNN then posits her as a "lifelong Catholic." The Roman Catholic Church has a very clear teaching on contraception and abortion. She says she doesn't believe in that teaching. Why doesn't she be intellectually honest, and choose a religion that is consistent with her belief?

    February 11, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Nonimus

      Bah, "no true Scotsman" fallacy.
      Do you only consider Christians those who do not sin? In which case, supposedly Jesus was the only one who might qualify, but He was a Jew.

      Christianity: population 0.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Tom R

      @Nonimus:
      Thank you for the correction. She may be Catholic, assuming she intends to confess that her belief is contrary to the Catholic Church's, and, since her article is public, she will have to publicly retract it. In that event, I was certainly in error by judging her as non-Catholic.

      Her position on this matter, as expressed in this article, however, is most definitely not Catholic, and I re-iterate that if she truly believes this, there are other faiths which are consistent with her beliefs, and she should be intellectually honest and choose one of them.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Tom R,
      Thanks for the calm response. (too few of those)
      I'm not certain of the details of Catholic doctrine, but could one not believe in the Catholic Church and its faith without believing in the Infallibility of its view on contraception?

      February 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Tom R

      @Nonimus
      The rule of conscience is supreme in the Catholic Church. Should she, after reviewing the relevant papal encyclicals on the matter, come to an informed conscience decision that the Church is in error, she could theoretically practice the faith and keep that matter of conscience, as it applies to her own person, a private matter. However, she cannot publicly disagree with doctrine and continue within the Church. As a Catholic, I would find it hard to believe that an informed conscience would produce the work she has written, but it is theoretically possible, I suppose. In any event, the Catholic Church also teaches that neither I, nor any other human), can judge a fellow man. We can only say that their teachings are in error or, at least, we believe they are. The same holds true for their actions. This woman's actions and teachings appear to be gravely opposed to Church doctrine. That, however, doesn't permit me, or anyone else, to say that she is condemned by God. The Church wisely leaves that up to God himself.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Tom R,
      "This woman's actions and teachings appear to be gravely opposed to Church doctrine. That, however, doesn't permit me, or anyone else, to say that she is condemned by God..."
      ...or, perhaps, whether she is truly a Catholic or not?

      February 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tom R

      @Nominus:
      Good grief, man. Do you want me to kneel and say mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I admitted I went overboard, and you were right about me being judgmental, which I have no right to be. But, to be specific about your question, only a bishop of the Church can excommunicate her, or say that she is not a Catholic.

      However, you were indeed correct. I was wrong in labeling her a non-Catholic, because I do not have the authority to do so. I can and do say that her post is not in line with the doctrine of the Church, but that's all.

      February 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Tom R,
      Fair enough. Thanks.
      Apologies, for the 3rd degree, I too went overboard.

      February 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  19. Robert

    She needs to read the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" and learn why the Church has stood against contraception and abortion the full 2,000 years it has been in existence. If her teachers taught her that she was ok taking those things, those teachers were wrong. The Church does not forbid taking the pill for medicinal reasons, it forbids the use of the pill if the sole intent is to stop a pregnancy. Also, there is no such thing as an unintended pregnancy, God creates all pregnancies.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      The church isn't against contraception. They approve NFP..which is an intentional attempt to prevent a conception. They are morally relative.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  20. Randy

    Catholics have messed up a lot of theology, but it's wrong of the Obama administration to require this of them. The broad in this story is spiritually clueless though.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • NEC

      Actually Randy the 'Broad' as you put it is at least operating in this century! The Catholic church is still working from a middle ages prospective and has lost touch with the world around it.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:49 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.