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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. Rocksicle

    Pro- My Life, My choice. I love this article. It is so great to read a positive article on birth control from a religious women. If someone doesn't feel comfortable using birth control for any reason, religious or any then don't do it. No one is forcing you to. But as always let others also make their own decisions. Its you life, make decisions for you, not others.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  2. Charlie

    Wonderful piece, thank you for writing it. It's nice to see that there are some clear-headed, intelligent, progressive people in the Catholic faith who understand that thousand-year old doctrines don't always translate into appropriate, actionable advice in the modern world.

    February 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  3. izabel

    Catholic is beautiful Religion!!!

    February 21, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Mark

      No religion is a beautiful religion. religion is just a psychological coping mechanism we evolved with, like an "imaginary friend" that children have, but for adults.

      Religion poisons everything: clear thought, societal issues, scientific advancement. Forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE.

      February 26, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  4. Texas Bubba

    The birth control pill is one of the great inventions of the ages! Besides preventing overpopulation, the pill is the most important therapy a woman has at their disposal. At least half of the women I know take contraceptives to regulate their menstrual cycles, and believe me – a regulated menstrual cycle makes for a happy woman, and a happy woman is the BEST kind of woman to have around!

    February 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  5. BADGUY

    The main question: Can the government require companies to pay for contraceptives? Well:
    – The government can require companies to pay for Social Security.
    – If a "religion" claimed paying for Social Security was sinful because the money could go to the poor. Would that be OK?
    – What if the government added Contraceptive costs to Social Security and paid for it that way? OK with the Church?
    – What if the government paid for Contraceptives directly and just added it to the tax load?
    – What if the government got the insurance companies to pay Contraceptive costs "out of their profits".?

    February 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  6. Holly Grigg-Spall

    The Pill ruined my mental health:

    http://www.sweeteningthepill.blogspot.com

    February 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Mensa Domini (The Lord's Table)

      After reading Karen's "take", I facepalmed so hard, I made my nose bleed:

      Catholic, Pro-Contraception, Rational (you only get to pick two!)
      http://wp.me/PEmnE-1P

      February 17, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • J

      No evidence based research here, only opinion

      February 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • JoeP199

      A pure opinion piece, and we're expected to take it as factual? I think not.

      February 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Texas Bubba

      Sounds like you didn't find the right one for you – keep trying!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  7. Mom

    1. Too bad priests do not comment about birth control at church. 2. Too bad the pharmaceutical companies, the pharma supported med schools, and the pharma-dictated doctors don't tell the truth about birth control....it's a CLASS 1 carcinogen. 3. To treat PMS and related symptoms, using hormone replacement is appropriate, however, it would be far more healthy to use natural hormones rather than synthetic hormones used in birth control pills. The Catholic Church is OK with this as it is not birth control, per se. As for the rest.....fornication is a sin...plain and simple. And..basically, God doesn't want us doing things that will harm us. Fornication harms us. The morning after pill is capable of killing a concepted human being. The morning after pill can also cause hemorrhaging. And what about RELIGIOUS FREEDOM??

    February 16, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Religious freedom? No one is forcing good little catholic women to take the pill or use condoms.

      There is no violation of your religious freedom here.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • J

      Mom is in direct communiction with god? What do priest know about women's bodies? Supposedly nothing but after the child abuse scandel, well.....

      February 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Texas Bubba

      What about my religion and spirituality, which states that I must be responsible? Your religion is against my religion, so what do we do? WAIT! I HAVE AN IDEA!! How about I take the birth control, and you don't?? Good idea, eh?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Rocksicle

      Religious freedom? The fact that you have a choice to be whatever religion you want to be and then talk about it is religious freedom. The fact that you get to talk about religion freely is religious freedom. It is a choice, a free choice to believe whatever you want here in America. If you want to complain about your religious freedom, move somewhere where it's actually an issue.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Nii Croffie

    For a nation which likes to war it seems most of the soldiers are dying at home. Whose children shud die for u?

    February 16, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  9. sosmama

    You cannot be serious. Or at the very least, you cannot possibly expect anybody with a brain in their skulls to TAKE you seriously. You're a 20-something year old kid who talks just like a spoiled little girl would. "Mehh, I had PMS and crampssss, so I took birth controllll." Wanna know what people of my generation did for cramps and PMS? Took a tylenol and SUCKED IT UP. It's part of being a woman, grow up. "Ohhh I was an idiot and slept with some guy without realizing that sperm + egg could = baby so I took the morning after pill to make sure if there was a baby in there, I killed it before it could implant in my uterus and grow." (Didn't know that's how the morning after pill worked? Now you do. It kills the embryo inside you.) And my favorite little whine of yours: "Welllll, they SAY it's wrong buuuut I don't FEEL wrong doing it so therefore I'm right and I can take birth control all I want!" Really?? Guess who else says "it feels good to me so I'm gonna do it even though authorities tell me it's wrong?" Rapists. Cutters. Men who beat women. Just because you "feel okay" doing something does not MAKE IT OKAY.

    And please, little girl, do not call yourself a Catholic if you are blantantly, openly, and proudly disobeying one of the CORE teachings of our Faith. It's like a someone saying "I'm an Orthodox Jew, but MAN bacon tastes so good, I'm gonna eat it anyway. Every day. But I'm still an OrthoJew."

    February 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • CGeek2k

      Yes, yes. Let the hate flow. The dark side is strong with this one.

      What does your church say about hate again??

      February 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • cpachik

      Oh, by all means, let's compare taking a pill for your own personal health reasons to raping and beating someone else. Where is your brain woman??? What kind of pills have YOU been taking?

      February 16, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • healthy

      Debilitating cramps and heavy bleeding for more than a week are "part of being a woman" and we should "suck it up"? Instead of using a safe and available medical remedy? You do live in the dark ages.

      February 16, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Clearly you have never had the kind of menstrual problems that require medical intervention. Consider yourself lucky. For those who HAVE had periods lasting two weeks, debilitating cramps and depression, taking a pill a day to have something resembling normalcy is a minor miracle.

      And just because a person is taking the pill does not mean they're sleeping with every guy that comes along. Most women are monogamous, and taking the pill to control the how and when they start a family (or add to it) rather than just sleeping around.

      And, for that matter, so what if they do sleep around? What business is it of yours? My body. My decision. Period.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Psycho alert

      warning issued. Bet you see god in your Corn Flakes don't ya.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • J

      So disrespectful and patriarcal. You should learn to respect others as the gospel said jesus did.

      February 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • BADGUY

      Sorry, but your comments are the reason:
      – The Catholic Church is a menace.
      – Joe Ratzinger is a menace.
      – Timothy Dolan is a menace.
      – Rick Santorum is a menace

      February 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Texas Bubba

      Not okay for you, but okay for me! Simple.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Patrick

      Not all of them "sucked it up." Many choose to "suck it down" and did so with a bottle of sleeping pills. I sense you lack compassion, so I will cease now.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  10. StewartIII

    NewsBusters: CNN.com Features Liberal Catholics Openly Dissenting From Bishops
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matt-hadro/2012/02/15/cnncom-features-liberal-catholics-openly-dissenting-bishops

    February 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  11. STLBroker

    Guess what else prevents the spread of diseases, is pro-life and consistent with your so called religion? Not sleeping with a bunch of guys that you aren't married to. I didn't even need to attend a Catholic college to figure that one out.

    February 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Tarc

      Nicely put.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • J

      No judgement here, just like jesus sais.

      February 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  12. STLBroker

    CNN, why are my comments not appearing jack holes?!!!

    February 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • STLBroker

      Finally, one did.

      February 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  13. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQVDLggeQus&w=640&h=360]

    February 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  14. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wnzTU4LviI&w=640&h=360]

    February 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  15. Cmon CNN!

    Who is this girl, seriously? She is a senior UNDERGRAD! Her argument is basically that she's ok using condoms so they should be ok. She met a Jesuit once who said to use condoms, therefore the whole Church should change it's stance. She does not address or refute the underlying arguments of her opposition at any point in this whole article! What a waste of bandwidth CNN!

    Why are we even publishing this? Is it because she is saying what your readers want to hear? Seriously CNN. This is not news. Far from it.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Of course it's not news. That's why in the ti.tle it has "My Take:" This lets you know it's an OPINION PIECE. Seriously, step away from your little spat of indignation.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Patrick

      I think they were trying to find the intellectual equal to the counter piece by Ms. Pokorny, and this was as low as they were willing to go.
      Does Ms. Pokorny have more than a high school education? I did not gather such from here opinion piece.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  16. Joshua

    Why is the CNN belief blog publishing this fluff? The piece has no argument. This is her main point:

    "Even though the official Catholic Church teaches against contraceptives, I do not feel immoral using them."

    zzzz

    February 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • peekaboo

      "I believe that birth control can be used by religious people without having a negative effect on someone’s faith. "

      I think thats the point, dick head

      February 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Absolutely, provided that person is willing to blatently ignore doctrine of the faith they profess to follow.

      February 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    February 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Curious

      How are you doing, anyway? What's new?

      February 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      Life in Christ is new!

      February 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Only if "new" means something just lyin' has been lying about for months.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Proven how?

      February 14, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Artfulskeptic

      Stunning ignorance on display from the religious crowd once again. Athiesm is the natural statue of all living things. Belief in any one of the innumerable gods that humanity has created to fill in the dark between the stars requires a profound fixation on and fear of the unknown, a trait which only human seem to possess.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Patrick

      Desire is the power that fuels your delusion. You will believe anything is true if it suits your paradigm.

      Free yourself before it is too late. Indoctrination is thought crime.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • think about this

      hey artfulskeptic,

      If it weren't for the Catholic Church teaching europeans that God was the creator of nature, we would still be worshiping trees, stars and the sun instead of studying them!

      February 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • think about this

      hey artfulskeptic,

      If it weren't for the Catholic Church teaching europeans that God was the creator of nature, we would still be worshiping trees, stars and the sun instead of studying them!...

      February 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  18. easylife

    Why are you mad ? I already said I am moral. You are moral. Nobody knows exactly what those morals are but you are definitely a moral person. So am I. In fact, I am so moral I'm way better than Mother Teresa. Oh yeah, she definitely believed in the jolly green giant.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why would I be 'mad'? That would mean I cared about you and your shit. I don't.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Besides which, any dolt who can't use the 'reply' function is brain-dead.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  19. hh

    "NOBODY is forcing you to work for a Catholic organization. Go work somewhere else!" Seriously?! NOBODY is forcing the Catholic Church to practice healthcare or educate our young in this country. If they cannot abide by our laws, perhaps they should vacate the premises and go somewhere else!

    February 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hear, hear, hh.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Thinker

      Churches pay no taxes, yet they constantly interfere with the political process. If they paid taxes, I could care less.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • BADGUY

      Thinker – They DON'T pay taxes and IRS rules say they should! Why aren't they?

      February 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  20. easylife

    The problem with Catholics is that they have a book that requires them to be good. In contrast I don't believe in religion or in such books. Therefore there is no requirement for me to follow any moral code. I can do anything I want and still be able to consider myself a good person. I'm a sinless person because there is no such thing as a sin. I can do anything I wish. How can you beat that ?

    February 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blow, troll. No supreme being is required for anyone to have morals or a conscience. You lose.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • easylife

      That's correct. You and I can be without religion and be just as moral as the Chinese leaders or the Russian leaders. That's the beauty of having no "holy book". I can claim to be a moral person without having to show anything for it. So can you.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look, you asshole, you can keep posting shit, but it won't smell like roses. People don't have to 'claim' they're moral; they can actually BE moral without believing in the jolly green giant or some sky fairy.

      You're an idiot if you think you've made some sort of point.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Curious

      What was the fortune cookie guy's name? Donald something. This must be the same one.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't recall a fortune cookie guy. Who was that?

      I suspect this is just another iteration of the usual assholes who post under every name their limited brain cells can conjure up.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Curious

      Donald was all over the blogs for a couple of days about a month ago. Fortune cookie sayings. Annoying while it lasted. Maybe this one will go away too.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Curious

      I found it. Donald Shimoda. Ripped off from Richard Bach's Illusions.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maybe. Or he'll do what most of the idiots do-post under another handle and vomit up more of the same, piled higher and deeper.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, I remember. What a waste of bandwidth and oxygen. No more so than this dweeb, though.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • BADGUY

      I'll take your sarcastic option rather than rely on little boy lovers to tell me what's right!

      February 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • BADGUY

      I'll take your sarcastic option rather than rely on the Catholic Church to tell me what's right!

      February 18, 2012 at 11:32 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.