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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. Alexandra

    For this young woman to believe herself to be a Catholic despite choosing to go against natural law and Church teachings shows a grave lack of education/understanding of the Catholic faith and what she teaches.
    to publicly admit that she may have through the use of "emergency contraception" aborted her own child and she sees nothing 'wrong " with that? give this girl a copy of Humana Vitae and a good solid orthodox priest, one truely loyal to magesterial teachings to counsel her.
    Bishops- too many of our young the last 40 years have not gotten the Catechisis that is needed.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  2. Pippa

    Karalen, you must remember the point of being Catholic – because of our love of Jesus and the desire to save our souls. And so we need to say YES to God on everything – obeying Him in all things, in every way we live our lives. God has given us His Church to preserve the truths of the Faith – He guides it, so that it will guide us. And so to obey the Church's teachings is to say YES to God. It is our way of showing our love to Him.

    Think about this – pray about this. If you truly love Jesus and believe that He established the Catholic Church, then you will want to obey Him in all things.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  3. IgoR

    "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"
    Dear Karalen, you go as far as indicating that you were ready to kill your child because you weren't ready to raise a child on your own and indeed you may have done that my dear. You can't call your self a Catholic if you are thinking and acting like your life is more valuable that the one of your own child. As a 22 year old woman you should use your God given intelligence to see if this typee of mentality is first morally sound and secondly in accordance to the teachings of the Catholic church. I pray for those who have tought you wrong including your own mother. It is time to wake from that ignorant slumber and see what the truth really is.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  4. Passchendale

    Dutchsays.... well said. It is interesting to note that Miss McShoe (in mouth) declares herself as a "catholic" and yet ascribes to a lifestyle that is completely anti-Catholic. Miss McShoe, by advocating birth control in a public forum, and persisting in grave moral sin such as this, while going to mass and receiving the eucharist, you have pretty much likely ex-communicated yourself from the Church (see Canon law). Furthermore, you have NO CLUE about Church teaching, nor do you seek to be an obedient member of the faith. You are an obedient member of a perverted godless society, with lots of godless perverted girlfriends that all likely contracept and fornicate, which makes you popular with them. Hence, you "prefer the praise of human beings to obedience to Almighty God" (see the gospel). What this means is you have disgraced the Lord Jesus, disgraced the Mother of God, and disgraced the small percentage of faithful young catholic women out there that obey the teachings of the faith instead of looking at it as being a "social club" to do "good deeds". "Not everyone who says to me LORD, LORD will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father in heaven". It is far past the time that modernists such as yourself exit the doors and go find a good protestant Church to hang out with your girlfriends at, and leave the pious and devout followers of the faith to represent it.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  5. ryan

    Catholic schools and the Church has failed you! I apologize of their behalf.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  6. Jason

    Of all the people who identify themselves as Catholic in this country, probably less than 10% of them actually are Catholic. This poor misguided soul is evidence of a complete failure in catechesis. Also, I note Senator Santorum, a genuine and outspoken Catholic, actually LOST the Catholic vote tonight in Michigan and Arizona.

    The counciil was and is a complete disaster. The US bishops will have much to answer for when their time is up.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  7. bud

    My first comment: Your surname is quite telling " MORT HOLE" i.e., death hole! That you have my dear. So you learned all that philosophy from the Jesuits and on once a week catechism at your home parish? Then you stand up in your stupidity and make a fool of yourself to scoff at the religion you barely know anything about. You are only a Catholic because you happened to be bapitized a Catholic. You must be a real chip off of the arrogant block you might call your mother!

    February 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Passchendale

      Bud... I love a Catholic who exercises the 1st amendment! Right on my friend!

      February 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  8. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests, especially the nasty Catholic ones.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Shari

      Whomever wrote the "prayer poem",I wonder what has gone so wrong in your life that you are so spiteful.I don't know you,but God does,and I will definitely pray for you.I can't imagine going through life each day with the hatefulness you have in your heart.I'm so very sorry for you.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Kevin

      You are a retard. I wonder what it would be like to hear your arguments and accusations posted in a thought out and coherent manner. I guess you prefer to mask your point of view in idiocy so that people can't call you out on anything.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  9. Christopher

    Sorry Karalen, but you do not get to pick which Church teaching's you want to follow. Obedience of Faith shoould mean something. Your commentary reflects all that is wrong with today's world, including the crisis within the Catholic Church: what was once wrong is now considered right and vice versa. IPlease know you will be in my prayers.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests, especially the dirty Catholic ones.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  10. dutchsays

    Sorry, miss, but your commentary reveals a youth wasted in pursuit of a means of justifying your licentious behavior, and probably the murder of at least one baby. When you put this anti-Catholic viewpoint out for all the world to see, you invited faithful Catholics such as myself to enlighten you of the harsh reality of your sinful decisions.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Passchendale

      Dutchsays.... well said. It is interesting to note that Miss McShoe (in mouth) declares herself as a "catholic" and yet ascribes to a lifestyle that is completely anti-Catholic. Miss McShoe, by advocating birth control in a public forum, and persisting in grave moral sin such as this, while going to mass and receiving the eucharist, you have pretty much likely ex-communicated yourself from the Church (see Canon law). Furthermore, you have NO CLUE about Church teaching, nor do you seek to be an obedient member of the faith. You are an obedient member of a perverted godless society, with lots of godless perverted girlfriends that all likely contracept and fornicate, which makes you popular with them. Hence, you "prefer the praise of human beings to obedience to Almighty God" (see the gospel). What this means is you have disgraced the Lord Jesus, disgraced the Mother of God, and disgraced the small percentage of faithful young catholic women out there that obey the teachings of the faith instead of looking at it as being a "social club" to do "good deeds". "Not everyone who says to me LORD, LORD will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father in heaven". It is far past the time that modernists such as yourself exit the doors and go find a good protestant Church to hang out with your girlfriends at, and leave the pious and devout followers of the faith to represent it.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  11. TM

    I would recommend the author give a close reading to Romans 1:18-32, special emphasis on verse 24 and 32.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  12. thePapist0000001

    She is certainly no practising Catholic. Its also interesting that she has effectively aired some pretty grave sins to the gereral public. Maybe if she read Humanae Vitae she might get a clue. In any case she needs the prayers of the faithful immediately. Faithful Catholics pray a rosary for this woman, maybe this lent can be her conversion back to God and His Church.
    Pax Vobis

    February 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests, especially the sexually aggressive Catholic ones.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  13. Larry the bald guy

    May God have Mercy on your soul, dear Karalen.
    May He also have Mercy on our clergy that does not teach according to our Catholic Faith!

    February 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  14. DeMariaNumquamSatis

    Articles such as this tries to fly in the face of the Magisterium, failing of course. I believe we all get at least one chance to be reconciled to Truth. May this lady have hers eventually.

    February 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Sue

      Sounds like she's having hers more than you are getting yours.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Sue that's really funny. Ha ha.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  15. thouart

    Not one Catholic Bishop or Priest will admit that the SPIRIT of VATICAN II has DESTROYED the Church!
    Look at the state of this poor girls soul. She is destined for Hell without the truth, and no one at Catholic University has a clue what to tell her.

    February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  16. Joannie

    First of all the "teaching" on all of these moral issues has NOT changed despite the widespread belief that it had after 1968, but it was first mentioned back in 1931 by Pope Pius XI in "On Christian Marriage" because the Anglicans were changing their own teaching on it. Then Pope Paul reiterated that same teaching in 1968, despite the objections of Bishops and theologians that not only are these things wrong but they go against the Natural Law. And despite the hype 2 years ago the currant Pope did NOT say condoms were okay now. His words were taken out of context by the media. People need to get their facts straight on these issues and read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on these issues.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • 1Mark

      Joanie: you're right, the teaching hasn't changed but the Bishops have been mostly completely silent on the evil of contraception. This silence has led to an entire generation ignorant of the truth.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  17. Brian

    If you want to destroy a Catholic's faith...send them to a "catholic" university. I think Karalen should educate herself in Catholism before claiming to still be a Catholic.

    February 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  18. Glenn Lego

    Sorry to sound uncharitable, young lady, but you AIN'T thinking rationally because pf birth control! You DID NOT get a proper Catholic education if your teachers and professors okayed your doing contraception and probably killing at least one possibly more children. I totally disagree with the idea that you are taking care of your body by ingesting poison into your body to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Go back to a REAL Catholic school, assuming you can find one.

    February 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  19. Eric Simontis

    Birth control as a hormonal medicine and NOT to avoid becoming pregant has never been against the church's teaching. Please, please read Humane Vitae for the church's teaching. Also, any standard examination of conscience you can find on the web will have a FULL discussion on contraception and abortion. Life is a gift from God. It is not up to us to determine whether or not we are open to it. It's that simple. How sad that you publish your views like this and try to convince people that Catholics are somehow open to contraception. We are not, have not been and will not be. It's that simple

    February 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  20. enkephalin07

    If women's health were really a concern for anyone who claims moral objection, they wouldn't have excluded women from the congressional hearing. Gotta love how the Pope will endorse condoms for people he perceives couldn't possibly get any more immoral, but forbids the devout layperson from protecting their bodies, their personal temples, when they choose to sin.

    February 26, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • JD Korn

      Is a woman unhealthy is she is unable to conceive when in child bearing age? Is that a health concern? Is there anything else that can be considered unhealthy at times, yet healthy when its convenient to define it as so? I'm legitimately curious as to why this is harped on so much as a woman's health issue. I guess something like chemo may be similar, poisoning one's body in order to rid a greater evil. But cancer is never something healthy. You also can't perform an act where you know cancer is the natural, end result, like you can in pregnancy. Is the risk of infection, std, or high risk pregnancy the health issue you talk about?

      February 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • another view

      Speaking of women's health, how about the very high risks of arterial and venous blood clots for those young women on the pill? The risk of arterial clotting can lead to stroke, and heart attack; those of venous clot can lead to a deadly pulmonary embolus, or in those with a patent (still open) foramen ovale in the heart, to a paradoxical embolus to the brain and a stroke. Also don't forget increased cancer rates in those who engage in intercourse at a young age and on the pill. Making hormonal contraception more widely available is not only a sin against God, but is no real favor to women's health either. And don't forget a pregnancy IS NOT A DISEASE, so what disease are contraceptives "preventing" if they are such a "boon" to women's health?

      February 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • think about this

      Speaking of women's health, how about the very high risks of arterial and venous blood clots for those young women on the pill? The risk of arterial clotting can lead to stroke, and heart attack; those of venous clot can lead to a deadly pulmonary embolus, or in those with a patent (still open) foramen ovale in the heart, to a paradoxical embolus to the brain and a stroke. Also don't forget increased cancer rates in those who engage in intercourse at a young age and on the pill. Making hormonal contraception more widely available is not only a sin against God, but is no real favor to women's health either. And don't forget a pregnancy IS NOT A DISEASE, so what disease are contraceptives "preventing" if they are such a "boon" to women's health?..

      February 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • freddyz

      The Pope did not endorse condoms, read the book again. Just because he said it was a step towards morality does not mean he endorses them. He clarified this if you would do some research.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:21 am |
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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.