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

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soundoff (1,826 Responses)
  1. dinak

    You are so uninformed. Obama is not just requiring that you have ACCESS (which you already did through Planned Parenthood and our tax dollars); he is requiring that health insurers give them away for free – that is where Obama crosses the line.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  2. Mojojuju

    I just...don't...understand. The people who have posted on this blog condemning this girl as not a true Catholic make me sad. But the people who claim that getting an std is better than going to hell for using a condom....those people are EVIL. They're pure, unadulterated evil, like that lump in the oven at the end of the Time Bandits.

    How narrow your thinking must be to accept that AIDS is better than a condom. How black must your soul be.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • dinak

      The point is that this female can get both condoms and female hormone-based contraception from anywhere she chooses, including Planned Parenthood. No one has the right to force a private company to give away services or products for free – that is what Obama and the Democrats in Congress did.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  3. Katie

    Did God say contraception is bad, or did a bunch of men, who are supposedly celibate, make those decisions for him?

    March 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  4. Ashamed to be Catholic

    After reading these hateful and bigoted replies I'm ashamed to call myself a Catholic alongside the likes of you people. If ANY of you think you are the one who gets to judge Karalen then you're GREATLY mistaken. Only GOD can judge her and her decisions. And if you think you know how he'll judge her than you're a bigger "sinner" than she is.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • JP

      Perhaps some judge her in an inappropriate way:
      But also remember the Scripture:
      ‘If I say to the wicked man, you shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death.’
      This is why I chose to speak. We are called in love to speak to our neighbor.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • J.W

      But there is not much agreement on whether using contraception is wickedness. But actually most people do not believe that it is.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • LR

      Within the Catholic Faith, there actually is quite a bit of agreement among the Church Fathers, going all the way back to AD 170...

      But with respect I say, it is difficult for us to speak on such issues since we all have such different starting places in these discussions. It is difficult for us to discuss this.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  5. mira

    Please remember to say the rosary everyday for the universal Church and for the suffering souls in Purgatory.
    May the Will of God be done, God bless you.
    mira from NY

    March 5, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  6. Julia

    i applaud you for what you wrote. as a catholic who went through catholic school from nursery to my college graduation i whole heartedly believe that God does not condemn people from using birth control pills for their health and well being as well as from preventing pregnancy because if pills and condoms werent used future abortions would happen and kill innocent lives and men and women could contract life threatening diseases that could kill them

    March 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • T

      Respectfully: Athenagoras of Athens, a Father of the Church wrote about abortion in refuting a false claim about the Church in the Year 170.

      "What reason would we have to commit murder when we say that women who induce abortions with drugs are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God? For the same person would not regard the fetus in the womb as a living thing and therefore an object of God's care, and at the same time slay it, once it had come to life."
      If memory serves, the original translation did not say drugs, it said roots and herbs...
      Whether you believe or not, this Roman Catholic Church has held contraception is abortion since its beginning.

      March 3, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  7. Joseph Allen Kozuh

    To paraphrase Jesus Christ: My Church will grow into a large tree and the birds of the air will perch on its branches.

    In the parables of Jesus, birds represented EVIL FORCES. Karalen Morthole is an EVIL FORCE who is perched in
    the branches of the Church: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OyNPFIBJLh0

    March 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • EvilJosephAllenKozuh

      Do you really think that YOU are the one that gets to decide who is evil and who is not? That's GOD's job NOT yours.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  8. E.C.

    To: J.W – a "false" Catholic!
    Ignorance is bliss – hey?

    March 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  9. J.W

    The last few comments on this have been funny. All of the 'true' Catholics came out all at once.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  10. lapchat

    I do not condemn others for picking and choosing any specific dogma/doctrine of the church to believe and obey. Jesus didn't say he died for those who were perfect. Jesus died for everyone, but Jesus did say “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. Mt 7:13-14
    I am convinced this young woman speaks from ignorance of her "faith." If she were intended to know Truth, God would have revealed it to her. But she has hardened heart and blindness that prevent her seeing the Truth, the Life, and the Way. Heaven help her and others like her.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Fr. Peter Calabrese

    God bless you. The first line told the whole story. Church spelled with small c and opinion used to describe the Church's magisterial teaching. I only pray that as you finish your term at Catholic University that the current and preceeding CUA Presidents' teachings may reform your conscience back to the truth.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  12. Mooneymite

    Isn't it interesting that this poor, ignorant "Catholic" is given such exposure by the media? These media try to make the Karolen's appear to be mainline whereas the opposite is true. Karolen has no idea of what Catholics believe, but she is made a spokes-person for the Catholic Church. Can you say, "fraud"?

    The mainstream media totally ignore the March for Life, year after year as if no one but a few nutcases are actually opposed to abortion. The fact that nearly a million people turn out in January weather year after year is hidden from the American people. The truth is that the mainstream media has an agenda to destroy the one force that can effectively oppose modernism: The Catholic Church.

    Karole, like the rest of us, is a victim, not a culprit.


    March 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Tim Henderson

      Yes, this is true... you are victims of bad teaching over the years. I am very sorry.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Judy

      I agree.. she is a "victim", but she also is a "big girl now" and knows the truth. She has decided, even with the truth, to "not obey". She needs to grow up. It made me sick at heart to read what she was told, in a "Catholic" school. How could her mother and father not noticed what was being taught? They still have to oversee things, even when they are in a Catholic schools, which, sadly, have become very liberal. Not all, of course, but reason to be wary.

      The Church has never said the pill could not be used for medicinal reason; on the contrary. The teachers/priests in her Catholic schools will have much to answer for. Catholic education has been a danger for Catholics, this last 40 years, seems to be coming back to sanity now.

      March 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Tim Henderson

      == It made me sick at heart to read what she was told, in a "Catholic" school. How could her mother and father not noticed what was being taught? They still have to oversee things, even when they are in a Catholic schools, which, sadly, have become very liberal. ==
      This is what I apologize for... yes she is a big girl.
      I propose she read theology of the body! It would help her to see.

      March 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Gail

    Your article is so superficial and demoralizing. What's truly disheartening is how one could become so desensitized to sin in a Catholic (so called) university. It's interesting that the word "love" does not appear in your article – I pray you be given the knowledge of its true meaning – you could begin by reading "Humanae Vitae."

    March 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  14. Timothy Henderson

    I am tears. We have failed you Karalen; we have truly failed you - Fr. Tim

    March 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  15. Milkman

    Wow. I am sorry Karalen. These Catholics here give us all a bad name. If someone entirely ignorant to the Catholic church and its teachings read these comments, they would think that we are all close-minded bigots. I wish and hope there were more open minded, intelligent Catholics like you.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • hrwg

      You are not Roman Catholic just because you were born into a family of Catholics or received some of the sacraments. It is a choice. The choice is do you believe, accept, and live by the tenants of the Roman Catholic faith as they are explained in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism is the teachings of Jesus and His apostles handed onto the Roman Catholic Church. If not, then you are not Roman Catholic. It is that simple. God said in the Bible, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" all contraceptives and abortions are in direct conflict with this teaching that comes directly from God. According to this girl in her own words she has killed her own child by the morning after pill. God loves all people, but does not love their sinful actions. She and others like her must repent and go to confession before dying or they will be held accountable by God. When faced with the completely sinless God and His love for her and the child she killed this girl will hide herself in shame choosing hell for herself. That is how it works. We hide from God when we realize that our actions were not loving, but selfish because we wanted to live our lives our own way. We do not belong to ourselves, but to God that is why we must follow His instruction book when living our lives or risk being ashamed when we die. I pray for you and her that you will come to realize these truths so you can experience God's love in heaven. God Bless

      March 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Catholic Father of Nine

      Open minded? Really? Poor advice given to one who is only seemingly interested in "convenience" and "causal" to her own interpretations only. You, too, need help in this regard, as NO WHERE in the CATHOLIC faith does it state "open minded" as a tenet of our Roman Catholic faith. Jesus, himself said, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, and there is scriptural reference to," the road being narrow and less traveled".....let us Catholics be of one mind., and speak the truth toward.and for the salvation of our eternal souls by the help and grace of God. I pray for you and this mis-informed 22 yr
      old child. Wise up...................................!

      March 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  16. Janeth Cabrera Tanza

    Let us no judge her, for she is a victim herself. She got the wrong inputs and wrong people to guide her. Contraception may have helped her in her health but it was meant for healing and not for lustful desires. It is our intention that makes our actions sinful. And getting used to doing the wrong things and not being corrected or reprimanded about it, we get used to it and our conscience has a very little or no effect on us anymore. Giving reasons for such sins makes a person less guilty about it or not guilty at all but it does not mean you did not sinned. And If we ask why is that God allows these things to happen? God is slow to anger for He gives us all the chances to correct our wrong and realize His great love for each one of us. He is just there to support us and defend us yet we just ignored Him. And because God give us the freedom to choose between good and evil, but whatever happens He is there just a prayer away. While our life is still going on perfectly smooth, we don't realize God's Divine Providence but when things goes wrong, we blame God and not our sinfulness. God only wants the best for us but we in our hard hardheadedness, wrong values and wrong persons to call on for help, we mess up out lives. Yet all these things are well taken cared of for God Who is and will always be a God Who give justice to all and in everything, we will just eventually stop and realize that all the things we fought for and thought to be good for us are all passing, even this earthly life is but temporal, all that we are treasuring on earth are but temporal and passing, our health, our riches, our achievements, these are all useless in the next life. So what we should invest is on things that lasts for eternity and these are our relationship with God, with our own self, with others and with nature. And as we make the Sign of the Cross, may we realize that in going to God it is always through others. We are all created in God's Image and Likeness yet our ways are far from His ways. So let us join in prayer that God will heal our world and each person in particular. And to make our prayers pure and perfect, we channel them to Jesus through Mother Mary. "Father of Mercy, unite Your sheep. Let them realize their aridity, forgive them, mold them into what You desire them to be, remind them of Your ways, O Lord. May all glory be to Your Holy Name, Forever and Ever, Amen."

    February 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Jean Simmons

      Karalen is 100% correct. There is no god, but if you believe in imaginary things yourself, then that's just fine. You have the right to in the U.S.A. What you DON'T have the right to is force your beliefs on anyone else. Contraceptives will be offered by the insurance companies for FREE. You don't have to use them, but you don"t have the right to try and force others to not use them. Abortion is free and legal. I've chose to have one, and would do so again in a split-second. YOU may not choose to have one, but you have no right to try and stop ME from having one. See how this works, people? Keep to yourselves, and we'll all life in the great ol' U.S.A. together.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • Bud


      March 1, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Bud

      *AMEN! Janeth....well put. We should pray for her that she be guided back to God.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  17. Blessed Geek

    Contraceptives are an effective and godly way to prevent abortion.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • A

      You couldn't be more wrong. Contraceptives lead to abortion as pointed out in a recent study in Spain. When contraceptives are continually used they inevitably fail at some point, which leads some people to the ultimate prevention of babies; abortion.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Noemi Szhai

    OMG! You are so dumb, girl! No doubt some libtarded demonrat, like barabas mikulski, nancy peloser, and the sebelius hag put you up to this! Keep on trying to fool those that don't know any better. GUESS WHAT?!?!? They are waking up! And you"ll run like hell, but you won't be able to hide. Satan can't wait to meet'cha! So quit your idiocy!!!

    February 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Kerry Wolf

      Though I disagree with the young lady's thoughts in the article, I disagree with your hate filled rhetoric even more! What a nasty, ugly, insulting way to speak to ANYONE or about anyone. It seems you might want to check into practicing what you preach and think about what Jesus would have said in reply to her.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • DA

      Kerry Wolf, what WOULD jesus say to her? I'm really serious. What DO we say to people when they are spitting in Jesus' face and do not see anything wrong with it? Remember the advice that Tobit gave to Tobias and Sara? He told them to leave b/c people are not even ashamed of their sin. What should we say? Do we smile lovingly and be so accepting when in actuality, Satan DOES have this poor girl's soul.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Mary Rybak

    I really am sorry for you, Karalen Morthole. So ignorant about the Faith and its constant teachings. Remember Karen, contraceptives are not a 100% guarantee on no pregnancy or "deadly disease". And did not the good Jesuits ever teach you what the 6th Commandment is all about? Perhaps you would do well for your eternal soul to step back from your brashness and restudy what the Catholicism is all about.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  20. J

    I would think that suffering and dying from an STD would be a great joy compared to eternal punishment. One day you will realize the beauty and wisdom in the teachings of the Catholic Church. They are not meant to prevent you from living the life that you want. They are to protect and guide you from all that will cause you to be seperated from God eternally. I pray for your soul.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
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