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. Terri

    Sorry to say but you're one hell of an extremely ignorant Catholic.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Judy

    Well, Karalen: Here's a suggestion – after posting all your mortal sins for the world to read, find a Catholic priest and participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, and wash your dirty robes white with the Blood of the Lamb! Jesus said fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Being a Catholic is not defined by what you think or feel. Jesus gave us the Heavenly Father's will for us and you, my dear, are a lost sheep.

    February 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Sophia

      Agree 1000000%

      February 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • J.W

      Mortal sin? They call contraception a mortal sin?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  3. Pop43211

    So your use of birth control medication was to correct a physical abnormality, not as an contraceptive. Preventing venerial disease or Aids is most effec tive by abstinence. OK seveal excuses shot-down. Sorry you were taught by progressive Jesuits not following Church teaching. A lot of that has gone on over the years.

    Catholisim is a beautiful religion, but cafeteria style or ignorant Catholicism only degrades it.

    My what to listen to: http://tinyurl.com/76nqlfx to get a more Catholic perspective on this!

    February 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Since when did self-righteous, intolerant, and controlling translate into "beautiful"? Those things are most of what I see in the churches nowadays. The original message of the bible was good, and has been twisted to a dark shadow of itself. The laws, the demands, the endless fight against those who do not believe as you, all these things lead toward the downfall of the church.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  4. Rose

    I'm sorry that your catholic shool teachers failed you so miserably. This is one reason, when looking for a catholic college for my children, we will steer as far away from schools run by Jesuits as possible. Dear friend, do you remember the ten commandments handed down by God to Moses? Do you remember the commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery"? Looks like the Jesuits failed to teach you what that actually meant. I hope for your sake you still believe in the sacrament of reconciliation. I will pray that you haven't contracted a terrible disease from one of what seems to be your multiple partners. But, more importantly, I will pray for your mortal soul that you seek forgiveness and you sin no more. Please stop spreading this false philosophy that using birth control is ok. If that really were true, why would you feel the need to defend it?

    February 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Katie

      You're going to pick where your children attend college, Rose? I am sure they will turn out just as brilliant as you.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Rose

      Help pick, Katie. That is my job as a parent. And yes, they are brilliant. Both have genius IQs and have 4.0 GPAs. Pre-med and engineering. I am a very proud parent. Thanks for your comments.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  5. Elaine

    Sorry, Karalen, not Karen.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  6. John H Turner

    Karalen, Sadly you are a lost and misguided and misinformed soul among the lost souls of your mentors. You should study the teachings of the Church and what the Magisterium says, your soul is on the line.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • J.W

      Or she could find a better church.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  7. K.

    Oh look! This video says exactly what i was thinking!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Pamela

      Now there is some truth!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tess208

      No one says it better than Michael Voris. You can get his daily thoughts for free on RealCatholicTV. Every faithful Catholic should make use of this site. Unfortunately, it appears that Catholicism must be purified over this issue. We all know the ending: we win, Satan loses-but we have no idea of how many of us will be left. Perhaps a purified, smaller church is what we need. Amen

      February 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  8. Phil Bordelon

    So... you are fully aware of the Catholic Church's teaching on these matters of faith taught by the magisterium as truth, yet dismiss them as false, AND call yourself Catholic.

    You are wrong on both counts.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  9. Kate

    I hope that your child you tried not to bear will forgive you. You might've missed out a ton of experiences just by "preventing" to bear a child.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • J.W

      Well if the child is not born how can he be upset?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • John Flaherty

      A child who has been aborted in the womb still has a soul and can certainly be upset! Even if only for a fraction of a millisecond! While we do not know how Our Father handles such cases–being denied the saving grace of Baptism can be a serious obstacle–we can hope that the child, having not had opportunity to sin, will be held close to the Father and brought to heaven by His means.
      On the bright side, if the child HAS gone to heaven already, the child will be given the grace to forgive this young woman. She may be in for quite the surprise if she repents, goes to heaven, and meets her child!

      March 1, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Monica

      With birth control that child didn't exist, not even for a second. I'm pretty sure the sperm isn't up in heaven being angry.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • J.W

      If she meets it in heaven will she get to meet the sperm too or only the egg?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  10. Anthony

    Sounds like you are also ignoring the Church's teaching on abstinence as well. Technically, this is the safest and most effective contraception there is. Nothing wrong with saving yourself for marriage. Have you considered this approach?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Sue

      Are you aware of the fact that the abstinence approach has already been proven time and time again to be impossible for most young people to stick to? Once their hormones (that apparently you would have to believe are 'god given') take hold, abstinence doesn't stand a chance. As history has shown, time and time and time and time again.

      Get over your silly religion and give demonstrably successful contraception solutions a chance.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • CMoses

      I dated since I was 15 and practiced abstinence until I was married 11 years ago at the age of 24. It's hard, but it would be a lot easier if we would stop telling young people that it's impossible. If you're dating someone with the same boundaries and beliefs, it's still difficult, but not impossible.

      February 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  11. John

    Peace be with you. It breaks my heart that the Jesuit High School you have attended has passed along an inherent lie with regards to contraception. Jesus Christ has always taught that contraception is evil. That fact has always been and will never change. The Jesuits who teach otherwise are NOT of Christ and should renounce their errors or leave the Church. Just because they wear clerics does not mean that they are teaching the truth. In fact, they are destroying souls and killing innocent children with this obfuscation. As a reference for objective and undivided truth on any level, I suggest that you refer to the Catechism of The Catholic Church as this is CHRIST Himself who speaks within its pages. Any deviation from it, is a deviation from GOD. There is a clarity here with regards to contraception which will speak to your heart.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  12. Brian

    My daughter also digested the "pill" for years. Now she is married and trying to have children. 2 miscarriges so far. now she is pregnant again (just 1 month or so) and she is reporting that she is spotting. It doesn't look good. The pill doesn't harm a women, BULL!!!!! How very sad that this lie has ever been told.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  13. ma4jmj

    Dear Karalen, It appears from your statements that your mother IS NOT a devout Catholic if she gave her blessing for you to take birth control pills. You should also get a refund for your Catholic education you received at the Jesuit high school. I have 2 girls in a Catholic high school in the Cleveland diocese and it was unfortunate that I had to seek out which school would teach the truth of the Catholic faith to my kids. Many discussions I have with my 3 teenagers about how to live their lives aren’t always the easiest or the ones society approves of, but they are the most moral. I recommend that you read the book “Theology of the Body” which teaches the Catholic theology about human relationships. Good luck.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • MSW

      The Catholic church does not forbid the use of contraception for regulating genuine women's health problems like severe PMS or PMDD which it sounds like this woman is suffering from (mood swings and cramping so severe it affects her day to day function). If it is taken solely with that intention it is ok in the eyes of the Church. Granted, there are other ways of regulating or controlling menstrual disorders, but sometimes things like changing diet, exercise, sleep patterns are not feasible, especially for students who are always on the go.

      On another note, I appreciate the fact that she brought up Pope Benedict's statement on condoms. I don't think that its feasible to expect everyone to follow NFP, though I'm personally a huge proponent and believe women need more education on their bodies and menstrual cycles, and condoms while not "moral" persay or in line with the church's teaching are a much better option than hormonal birth control or Plan B as they are simply a barrier method not an abortificant.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Sophia

      Love your comment about seeking out a refund !

      February 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  14. James Young

    Very sad. She articulates that she understands the Catholic teaching on contraception and yet, like a lot of "catholics" tosses it away, because it does not "fit in" with her world view. You cannot invite God into your life on your terms. You must accept His terms, or you have no Christ and no Truth in you. Contraception is not about "women's health." As you can see by the above posts. That is one of the most ridiculous claims, women's health, I have ever seen and heard. God Bless you all, and may God touch your heart and mind with His grace.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  15. Gilbert

    I express my heartfelt sympathy to this young girl.She missed the core elements of Catholic faith and has a twisted vision of life and truth.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  16. Dominik from Poland

    This is very sad Karalen. I encourage you to spend this Lent on prayer and meditation about what is the Catholic Church's mission and why is the Church opposed to birth control.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  17. Concerned for TRUTH

    Dr. Janet Smith has written extensively on "contraception, why not". Google this to learn the harm contraceptives do to women's health. The truth will set us free.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:37 am |
  18. Helen

    Did you miss Catechism? Maybe you need a refresher.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  19. John


    February 29, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  20. freddyz

    This article is completely ignorant and lacks scholarship of any sort!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:23 am |
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