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.

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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. Glades2

    Karalen, I hope you make the right decision – Revelation 3:16 (not to be confused with John 3:16) says very plainly that a Christian that compromises his or her faith is unacceptable to God...

    February 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • E

      Then you better be nice to your slaves and never touch bacon or shrimp. Or do you just pick and choose which parts matter?

      February 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • chief

      re glades2 – who said she comprised her faith.... just because she doesnt fully subcribe to the dogma from men in dresses doesnt make you a judge and jury for God....

      February 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  2. Eric G

    More evidence that religions have outlived their social relevance. I will say it once again for the people sitting in the cheap seats.....

    If you attempt to infringe upon the liberties and actions of others because of your beliefs, I have the obligation to demand that you provide verifiable evidence that your beliefs are based in fact.

    So, if you are against birth control because of your belief in your god, please provide verifiable evidence that your god exists. Without this evidencial support, any claim regarding knowledge of that gods' intentions, actions or desires is not valid and must be dismissed as fiction.

    This rule also applies to any such claims made by all believers of all religions.

    Rather than waste your time in debate about what your god wants, why not just provide verifiable evidence that your god exists. If you do so, you will win all future debates.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  3. a women who was on the pill many years ago

    I am a women in her late 40's and was on the birth control pill for many years not realizing the great increase risk of breast cancer the pill causes or even the church teaching on birth control. Reference the CDC for info.on increase risk for cancer Especially the younger you take it the greater the risk. The pill is on the top list of carcenogenics. Fact 1

    Fact 2 the Catholic church is not against a couple controlling the size of their family. A husband and wife may not be able to afford another child,there may be a health risk if there is a pregnancy or an emotional risk. There is a safe and Natural way without the use of hormones that the church and many holistic doctors recommend called the Sympto Thermal Method. Another way Natural Family Planning. The methods are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and also if a couple is having difficulty conceiving these methods can often get to the cause and help if a couple chooses to have a child. Very safe,healthy and respecting the womens body. The church is all about repecting the womens body!!! After all God created women. Read John Paul ll Writings called Women God's greatest masterpiece and His letter to women.

    There is a finacial gain by the women being on the pill!! The pharmacutical companies are making a killing. Now the pill is marketed to reduce acne to young girls starting at 14.

    Unfortunately the young lady in the article has been mislead as to what the church teaching is on birth control. I am sorry for her lack of understanding. May I suggest the reading of the encyclical Humanie Vite or Theology of the body by Christopher West or better yet how to find your soulmate without loosing your soul by Jason Everett. All mentioned speak of the negative effects of birth control and why the church advises the way she does.

    Unfortunately when I was in my 20's I thought I new it all. However in my 40's now and counseling many women who made foolish choices like myself. I wish I did have right information to make informed decisions at a young age Young lady you have been misinformed by teachers who also are not informed. I am sorry you have missed the gold mine and been sold worthless lies.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are posting misinformation. Knock it off.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • E

      People who use natural family have a name: parents.

      stop lying, the breast cancer/pill thing has been debunked multiple times. and you should look at what other things are listed as carcinogens at the same level before continuing your patronizing and condescending lie filled fear mongering.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Sarah

      I am in agreement with you.

      I also have researched the connection between hormone treatments, such as bc, and breast cancer and fertility issues and have realized that it is not something that will soon be accepted by the MSM. if the truth would financially hurt pharmaceutical powerhouses, the truth will be more difficult to expose.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root poster is Astroturfing.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • chief

      your nobel peace prize for sainthood is in the mail.... when you tell a long story, make it enoyable next time

      February 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  4. chrism

    Once again Karalen is just mixing up medical uses and contraceptive uses. Hormones can be given to treat endometriosis (or in Karalen's case "mood swings" that sounds something related to bipolar disorder). Just like the church supports medically necessary abortions, it can support medical hormone use. But after that Karalen goes on to talk about STDs. Aside from the fact that the pill doesn't prevent them, what is she really talking about here? Obviously promiscuity. So really what Karalen is saying is she personally doesn't think promiscuity is a sin. Ok, but the church says otherwise. Humane Vitae ironically is not only so true but predicted exactly the things going on today. Contraceptives are a license to avoid responsibility as if there was some right to have s3x without consequences or "risk" of pregnancy. Increasingly kids are seen as an inconvenient accident. Dads are a child support check. People get a false sense of their own purpose and the beauty of the gift of human s3xuality in marriage. No one is forcing it on anyone. Follow it if you so choose. But don't sit here and criticize the church for teaching the truth. The church proclaims the truth and good news it doesn't tell ANYONE what to do.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      The "church says otherwise" is a false statement. The "church" uses birth control. No one ever asked the "church" what they thought about the matter. The opinions of the hierarchy are not "the church". Too bad you never learned about The Mystical Body of Christ. Too bad your god is stupid, and doesn't know what your "intention" is when you work at NFP. The church's position is morally "relative".

      February 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • chrism

      Flinders, the butler, I take it you're not catholic. The church says otherwise is a true statement. Your statement the church is morally relative is a false statement. Morals aren't decided by the members of the church, which is the mystical body of Christ that you are correct in stating but wrong in stating "too bad you never learned about.". That was just you attempt to insult be, but oops you slipped and showed you sole about me in ignorance. Again morals aren't derived from the "opinion" of any member of the mystical body of the church except for its head, God. God determines what is moral, and under the guidance of His Holy Spirit, humans can discern His will. No, God isn't "stupid" to understand the intent of NFP. Frankly I'm not sure I do think the church is right on NFP but there is no unnatural interference with the human body. Simply choosing when to have s3x is not necessarily contrary to God's natural order. God bless you, brother.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      Morals, in the biblical paradigm, are decided by the Spirit working through the members of the Church. Too bad you church has no structure for that to happen, (any more).

      February 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • chief

      re chrism.... theres nothing immoral about PREVENTING pregnency...... so if the pope comes out next year and says pregnecy prevention with contraceptives is ok..... does that change anything? God isnt dead, the montra changed....

      February 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • The Sane One

      You have a lot of damn gall stating what she means when she clearly laid it out for you. I read the piece and came to the conclusion she is for birth control because she is a Catholic and not an idiot. I guess you could be a Catholic and not a.... female.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things .

    February 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I pray that that is not the case.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I thought that lying was immoral.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  6. mrb

    The Bible teaches us that intimate relations should be shared between married couples, so contraceptives should not be an issue in an Christian home. I told my daughter what a condom was but I told her she would not need it because she would only be with the man she is married to.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      And you know how many mothers told themselves that ?

      February 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • mrb

      @flinders. If you raise your children in the right kind of environment and teach them to respect themselves and marriage then yes I believe she will be with only one man.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • E

      enjoy being a grandparent while your daughter is still in high school.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • mrb

      @E really? a necessary respectful comment? and people wonder why the world is like it is, disrespect breeds disrespect. I will pray for you.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It's a nice thought, but how do you expect she will feed all of those children?

      February 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • visitor

      You think everyone wants huge families? Huge = more than 3.

      February 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  7. NNx592QA

    Ah, religion... You just pick and choose anything you like, anything in the spectrum from killing another human being (infidels, gays) to loving thy neighbour, and you still call it religion all the same and you still fee righteous no matter what. So, what is the point of any teaching when there are millions of different interpretations and you just pick and choose what you like?

    February 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • mrb

      not all people pick and chose, this is another sterotype to lump everyone into one person, or one "religion" I live by what the Bible says, I do not try to make it live by what I say. People who interpret the Bible in different ways are only trying to make it fit to how they want it to fit so what ever they chose to do fits into the right way. Not all Christians are like this.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Cathy

      My answer to that these days is: The God I believe in isn't limited to one book.

      February 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  8. Janet

    I was born & raised catholic as well. I am no longer a part of any organized religions for
    many reasons, some of which this young lady questions herself. I was told once by a priest
    that Catholicism is not a buffet, you cannot pick and choose what you will abide by and what
    you will not. My feeling is that you were born into the catholic religion, but have a broader
    more realistic and current view of the world...you live and believe beyond the parameters of
    the catholic church. Organized religion is like University, once you get it – it's time to
    move on.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • visitor

      On the night of my high school graduation a priest told me to be good to myself, because I am God's beautiful creation, and God loves me, so love myself.

      Actually, I haven't thought about that in years.

      I am grateful to this thread for a lovely memory.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  9. judy

    Church and state are supposed to be seperate. When an employer can discriminate against a female for using any medical Rx of her choice it is WRONG. How do these same employers allow male employees to use Viagra? and have vasectomy's..another form of contraception. Just look at the progress that has been made in Africa with regard to the use of condoms preventing the spread of AIDs...do these GOP and "holy" people not see this? If you are against abortions, abused, and neglected children...then for the sake of God..why not use contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies!

    February 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  10. J in DC

    Wow Mike. Apparently you're core issue doesn't have so much to do with the Church as it does Misogyny. What a sad, angry, lonely little man you must be.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. jennyleebee

    People need to understand that a lot of women need to take birth control to stop pain from serious Health conditions such as endometriosis a very painful disease. For someone to say a woman is a sinner for taking birthcontrol for trying to help stop the spread and pain of this uncurable disease makes me sick. My mom is a catholic school teacher and can tell the difference between sin and a medical condition to bad the church and people like mr. romney can't.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Martin

    I'm a catholic, went to catholic school. We were taught all about contraceptives their uses advantages and disadvantages. The catholic church is stuck in the middle ages afraid of change. I don't think young people can respect the church anymore when they take stances such as this on and a few other controversial ones. It's funny but they would never every get away with something like this in the UK or here in Canada so it's weird to see them making a fuss about it in the USA.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • AGuest9

      A few weeks before graduation, we were herded into the library for a presentation by a man and his VERY pregnant wife, to extoll the virtues of the rhythm method. See how well it worked for them?

      February 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. Mike

    all i can visualize at this moment is JESUS sitting on a stump scratching and rubbing his forehead, mind fulled with bewilderment of how MAN has corrupted his basic plan. this young women is only stating what life choices she makes not how anyone else need to. she claims to be a christian and i'll assume by her expressed statement at the core is very much so. i'll also say this, if and when she attends mass on sunday it will be no different than the other six days of the week that she conducts her life she can be at peace with her faith. so for you that think you and others of your silent life choices need to pray for this young women i would say no thanks because blind faith is dangerous and misguided and failure to understand this young women speaks of the men in the church not the faith in her church. finally, to her i say GOD BLESS YOU !

    February 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • chief

      Jesus sitting on a stump in bewilderment? your comments show just out of touch and brainwashed by certain church doctrines you are......... if she is wrong, is her sin any worse than bigotry? or pride? woe to you whitewashed tombs?

      February 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • chief

      re mike..... im not thinking his basic plan included an organization with bout 10,000 accused pedaphiles in it, men walking around wearing robes kissing rings, or praying to the dead, or brainwashing people on things like contraception......

      February 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  14. Shine A Light

    Joey and fedup - You guys were inspirations on this board today. I feel a lot better after reading your comments. Never forget, God is with us.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Marksleen

    CNN. Funny how you seem to always provide a platform for Catholic women to dissent from the Church's position on birth control but do not seem to make any effort to find women who adhere to the teaching. I also find it interesting that a news outfit never attempts to determine if the dissenters have ever spent time attempting to inform themselves regarding why the Church says it holds it's position on birth control.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • chief

      its 2012, what a man in s dress deemed as church law, doesnt make it right...... ask galileo

      February 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maybe that's because they don't exist as anything but outliers. Almost all women use contraception at some point in their lives. The rest are likely too busy raising kids they don't want and can't afford.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      For a better understanding of the issue you raise we invite you to read the articles 'CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times' and 'Influence of the Media' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeived.ca

      February 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      How do you know CNN did not try to find an alternative view? Maybe there are none? Maye you should write one?

      February 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • AvdBerg


      We did!


      February 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Now all you have to do is get CNN to publish your bullsh!t...

      February 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • visitor

      Go find that college educated single woman to give your approved view.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I'd like to know how a women goes through college without birth control.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • FedUp

      @ Aguest9

      "I'd like to know how a women goes through college without birth control."

      Well, I would get up in the morning, get ready, go to class. Come back, do some homework. Hang out with friends, then go spend the evening with my boyfriend, kept my pants on. Kissed him goodnight, went back to my dorm, took a shower, went to bed and then repeated the whole process every day for the next four years.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • ....

      "For a better understanding of the issue you raise we invite you to read the articles 'CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times' and 'Influence of the Media' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeived.ca"

      CULT Alert! – This poster is a TROLL on this site don't bother viewing their garbage website or book it's full of LIES!

      February 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  16. RightTurnClyde

    Here is what to do: trash all of the over bearing phony churches. Read and learn on your own. Believe what you know to be true. Practice that. . Read the gospels and biblical material. A good source is: J. Vernon McGee. Do what you know to be true (no ins.t.i.t.u.t.i.o.n.a.l name). Just do it.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      You are on the right track. We invite you to read the articles 'Ye Need Not That Any Man Teach You' and 'Church and what it means' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      The following is an excerpt from the article 'Church and what it means'.

      "But even more than Christ being the Rock – the foundation of His ecclesia (the Body of Christ and His followers), Christ would build His ecclesia on a specific principle – the principle that God would teach His followers directly."

      February 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • ....

      AvdBerg – CULT Alert! – This poster is a TROLL on this site don't bother viewing their garbage website or book it's full of LIES!

      February 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  17. jdun

    Wow, angry woman! Better go to confession so a man can forgive you! If the catholic church chooses not to pay for contraceptives they have a simple path, don't accept any government funding for their religious schools and hospitals. No, give us the money so we can do our definition of God's work, the hell with the rights of women or our employees.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  18. chief

    the biggest reason for contraceptives so that many brainwashed people writing in the blogs cant reproduce

    February 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  19. C.Lone

    More a problem of separation of church and business than church and state. If churches want to run businesses serving and employing without prejudice and descrimination then they should behave as a business. There was no problem with separation of church and state when GWB opened the floodgate for federal funding of faith based NPs. So do they want to stop that untrusion to? It's just so silly to deny people the healthcare they want. If you don't believe in the pill....don't take it.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  20. Kristen

    I am also a Catholic. I also take birth control.
    Whether I want to take it or not has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The issue is not to argue whether the Catholic Church is correct in its teachings or not. If the Catholic Church says it is against contraceptives, it is. That's it. If you choose not to follow your church's beliefs on the matter that is your own personal issue and you are more than completely free to make your own choice. The issue is that the Catholic Church should also have it's own choice. NOBODY is forcing you to work for a Catholic organization. Go work somewhere else! You are more than FREE to do that. Thank you Catholic organizations for providing the healthcare that you do. They should not even have to do that.
    There should be no discussion on the matter...it is wrong to FORCE anyone to pay for anything – ESPECIALLY when it is against their very beliefs.
    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • tj

      Dig it!!!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Baloney. I pay taxes that are used to fight wars I don't believe are just. I pay insurance to save your fat azz from dying of diabetes or heart disease. I pay for your kid to be treated for cancer.


      February 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • visitor

      There are minimum healthcare standards. The Church is the one looking for the exception.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Gee

      I agree that the Catholic Church can believe in whatever it wants, but if the Catholic Church wants to operate businesses it should follow the laws accordingly.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Hear, hear, Tom Tom.

      February 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
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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.