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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. MazeAndBlue

    I'm not catholic but I bet there are fewer and fewer Kennedy Clans in the pews. This is more an economic issue than faith base. This issue comes up every presidential election cycle. A non starter unless you get caught up in this web of deceit. The real issues are: Republicans and the tea party nuts hoping this controversial issue sticks. Because the economy is growing and just this year alone apx 1/2 million broad base jobs have been added. Reducing the unemployment rate to 8.3%, as well ending the war in Iraq. They are trying to keep the fire burning. But President Obama and Dem's are extinguishing the fire.
    Soon the smoke will clear and better days are ahead.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • LOL

      Highly doubtful. they're all crooks. same game. different team jerseys.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • MazeAndBlue

      @LOL.. Your right but I am on the left side of the game. The grass is a little softer.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  2. Carlo

    What an absurd piece: nobody cares about what contraceptives do to your faith. We just don't want to pay for them!
    They are cheap, buy them with your own money!

    February 11, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • LOL

      I think i'd rather pay for the contraceptives than their 13 children on welfare.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Melissa

      I understand but we don't want to pay for their babies !

      February 11, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Bill

      They may be cheap for you, but when you can't afford food, they seem a lot more expensive.

      February 11, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • badlobbyist

      That's great, and then when the kid comes and a single 22 year old can't pay for it you'll want my tax dollars to help right? She wnats to be a responsible adult by not imposing the results of her actions on others and you think that is bad?

      February 11, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  3. LOL

    Prayer gives you a warm squishy feeling. like sitting on a pizza. unfortunately it's about as effective.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  4. billny

    Then maybe the author should not call herself catholic. Throwing out this political trash like this is expected here though.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • awasis

      Then many people who call themselves Catholic would not be able to do so, since there are a lot of Catholics that use contraceptives. Sorry to ruin your fantasy.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Allison

      Agree 100%

      February 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  5. Andrew

    I have no respect for religious people whatsoever. I have NEVER met one who is not a hypocrite. They try to ram their rules down everyone's throats under the banner of "family values", but behind the scenes they pick and choose which rules they really follow. While American Catholics embrace birth control to improve the quality of their lives, people die in Africa of AIDS and poverty because the Catholic church preaches virulently there against condoms. It is shameful!

    No respect for religious people whatsoever! Keep your dogma to yourselves you animals!

    February 11, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • LOL

      Dogma is what happens when you feed man's best friend a bowl of ex-lax.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • moonster

      Typical atheist response. Most of ya want s-e-x without any consequences or responsibilities. Like changing your socks.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • LOL

      i'd say it stems more from common sense. can't feed em? don't have em. belief or lack of belief in a deity has nothing to do with consequence or responsibility. the entire southern hemisphere hasn't apparently caught onto the first premise yet.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      moonster can't get any, so he wants to live in the 15th Century.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Andrew

      Moonster and LOL, you ignore my point. It is disgusting, hypocritical to an extreme, to be a member of a cult that vehemently opposes contraception in Africa (with disastrous consequences) while using contraception to improve the quality of your own life. I don't understand how an American catholic can sleep at night with that degree of basic contradiction in their values. But American catholics are not the only ones who practise this level of hypocrisy – it is rife throughout all religions. How many "family values" oppressors need to be caught violating their own rules before they back off and stop trying to force their religious dogma on all of us? Religious people are pure evil.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  6. moonster

    Karalen, well good for you and your freedom to express your beliefs. Give the same courtesy to your faith. This whole scenario has to do with the freedom of religion. Apparently you don't believe in that right. I am Catholic and sure there are things I'd like to change...I do believe one day things will change, but I will stand by my faith until that day comes. No government should force a religion to do something that they teach is wrong.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • joewilson

      yes. stand by your faith. we would have it no other way.

      continue to follow the rules written in your magic book. do not stray from what is written. serve it, and serve your sky man. you as lower beings have no need to express autonomous thinking.

      please, do not feel your beliefs are threatened. enjoy what the book proclaims. your subservience is most important to us.

      carry on, good citizen.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Allison

      The stance that Karalen has taken, unfortunately, was fostered by her poor Catholic education. Nuns and Jesuits cannot teach against the Catholic doctrine. Ever. She was terribly misled to believe condoms and birth control pills are ever OK to use for contraception. There is no catechism book to my knowledge that says it is church teaching to practice contraception outside of natural family planning. This kind of modernist teaching which is so prevalent , is a distortion of Catholic truth.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Melissa

      You have freedom of religion! How can anyone in this country dare to insinuate that you don't have freedom of religion. Would you like to try living in North Korea for a while? Just the mere fact that you have admitted online that you are religious and no one is trying to track you down and shoot you proves you have freedom of religion. The problem is you are trying to get into the hospital business and control healthcare. The big problem in the country right now is that religions are used to controlling everything and others are finally tired of it and we are standing up for ourselves.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Ginamero

      You could not be more wrong. We have freedom of religion even if women have equal access to birth control. Morman s and Moslums are not allowed to have more than one wife, or marry girls that are 12, or perform honor killins – we all cheered when France made it illegal to wear the head scarf in state photos or school – cath o licks are just backwards and barbaric – people do not get to practice their religion to the detriment of others and it's always womenand children that get hurt.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      moonster forgot to watch the news yesterday

      February 11, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  7. MdrnPlgrm

    Mood swings are an exception, but don't tell me to keep out of your bedroom when you reach into my pocket to pay for items that support bedroom activities. If bedroom activities result in pregnancy the government makes me help fund an organization that will help end the pregnancy. If the pregnancy results in birth the government makes me pay to help care for the mother and child. Not only are religion-clinging organizations being forces to go against their beliefs but millions of religion-clinging taxpayers are being forced to pay for things they feel are against their faith and, in most instances, socially destructive. For many in our society, birth control is replacing self control. That lack of self control is impacting other areas of life. People are suffering in part from their own poor choices. The government is being dragged into the bedroom, and it's consequences, by liberals rather than conservatives.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • RDNinja

      My thoughts exactly.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  8. Karen

    CNN is a disgrace. You have no way of hiding your liberal agenda. Instead of making the USCCB out to be monsters, why don't you find out what these teachings are based on.
    This young girl's opinion does NOT represent the Catholic faith. She is merely voicing her opinion to justify her behavior; this behavior is against moral teaching. Ms Morthole, I would urge you to turn to the Bible, Catechism, and the encycylicals to learn your faith. I would direct you to Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body.
    These are not teachings made in a vacuum to make your college existence austere and boring. Instead, they are there to help you develop into a whole person, truly fulfilled.

    As a catholic woman, wife, surgeon, and feminist, I stand firmly against these policies that go against religious liberty. The "accommodation" is nothing more than the same mandate with a cloak on. DO NOT BE FOOLED. DO NOT BE MISGUIDED.

    I have long ago abandoned my hopes that CNN could provide fair and balanced news.
    For readers who would actually like to be informed, I recommend lifesitenews.com.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  9. Ed

    Overpopulation leads to pollution, starvation, and death. The planet Earth has a finite capacity that we will reach in less than a century. By encouraging further over-population, the Church is directly causing suffering, misery, and death. But what do I know; perhaps suffering like Christ is a virtue and hastening death brings one closer to God, so this is all great stuff. It's difficult to believe that people in the 21st century are dealing with the World's issues based upon blind faith in the Easter Bunny or whatever. I never understood why Christians went to go die in Holy Wars, and why Islamic terrorists blow themselves up. But now I know; it's because most people are idiots. .

    February 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Shmadam

      I never could figure out why atheists like Stalin and Mao set the world records in slaughter of their own people......I thought atheists were so enlightened and better than any 'fools' with a belief system......

      February 11, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Melissa

      Yes, finally! Why do religions continue to ignore the plight of the planet? Why do they continue to ignore the overpopulation of the planet? Why ? How can God think it's good to keep having babies when we are destroying everything else? The pollution, the wars, the starvation, and what about all the other animals that we are squeezing out?

      February 11, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • moonster

      Ahh, Melissa and Ed. You are atheists and probably poor – so don't have kids. Granted there is a possibility of a overpopulating dilemma, however what are ya going to do when swore US enemies have more people to go to war than you smart secularists?

      February 11, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  10. David

    I say this in love, but you are not a much of a catholic, karalen. You can't pick and choose which parts you like and which are inconvenient, and therefore can be ignored. I don't know how any Christian, Protestant or catholic can support Obama and what he represents. Your position is like someone who chimes to accept the bible as Gods word, but decides I don't like what the apostle pauls says about a man being the head of the household.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Justin

      And also about stoning a disrespectful child to death. Stoning an adulterer and the like? Terrible that people pick and choose which bits of the bible they want to follow.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • moonster

      Justin get your head out of your butt. That were the laws during the time the Bible was written. How someone chooses to believe ain't your concern nor can judge them for it when apparently you got nada. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

      February 11, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  11. WeimAddict

    I am a lifelong Catholic and I wholeheartedly agree with this article.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  12. Jack

    get off this site...nut case,,go blog for politico...

    February 11, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Are you saying jack off?

      February 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    February 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      no it doesn't, and your own doctrine proves it.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      mirosal you don't know jack.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • JT

      Yet again, we pray you will stop pasting this same comment on every page of every blog but it never stops, proving that prayer does not work. As always, thanks for that confirmation.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  14. Scott Petersen

    This young woman has the right to her beliefs and practice of contraception, but neither she nor President Obama have the authority to impose their view and practice on someone else. Liberals always talk about not "imposing" one's moral beliefs on another, unfortunately, its a one way street. It's always OK for them to impose their morality on conservatives.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      How exactly is she "imposing" on you ? Yesterday, Obama crafted a compromise. What's wrong with it ?
      New York State, and many others required contraception be available to employees of certain insti'tutions, (including Forham University...a Catholic university), which never complained about this until the bishops whipped you up, and told you how to think. Catholic women by far, USE BC. The bishops are just pi'ss'ed as they know the sheeps in the pews won't obey anymore.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Tony

      It's the price you pay for living in this society. I didn't like that we went to war in Iraq, but I still had to pay taxes for it. All businesses should play by the same rules.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  15. Luke

    Either you choose Catholicism and all of it, or you choose none of it. In for a penny, in for a pound. I've made my choice. I reject the dogma, therefore, I choose not to be Catholic (as I was raised.) This woman is *not* Catholic. She needs to make a choice, and that choice cannot be to pick and choose which of the Church's rules she likes. It's a cop-out.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      She's a Catholic if she says she's a Catholic. She may not be your brand, but too bad. You chose your "black and white, simplistic, "run for the hills" infantile position. She can choose anything she likes.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      No Catholic chooses "all of it". It's a HUGE varied culture, and EVERYONE chooses to concentrate on their particular chosen "points of emphasis" and devotions and chosen path. YOU made your "all or nothing" decision. You have provided NO reason why THAT is the only possible path. I know entire communities of religious women which include MANY who believe MANY different things..they ALL choose to stay and do their good works. There are as many ideas of what a "good Catholic" is, as there are brains thinking about it. There is NO ho'mogeneity in the church, even though people like you, and the bishops, like to think there is.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • badlobbyist

      Finders – The problem is that almost no Catholics believe in this whole no contracepitve stance. Yet they ae defending it 'cause they're told to. Doesn't that seem strange to you? I'm with Luke either you are or you aren't. Either is OK, but professing one thing and doing another teaches people to be hypocrites as a matter of course. And that is a slippery slope. If you can choose in one area, then what do the others matter? Thou shalt not commit adultery? Well who really cares? That's not one I really believe.

      February 11, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      No one has come here saying "I'm defending it cuz I was told to, but don't believe in it". Who does that ?

      February 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  16. David

    There are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists
    There are Hindus, and Mormons, and then
    There are those that follow Mohammed but
    I've never been one of them.

    I'm a Roman Catholic
    And have been since before I were born
    And the one thing they say about Catholics is
    They'll take you as soon as you're warm

    You don't have to be a six footer
    You don't have to have a great brain
    You don't have to have any clothes on
    You're a Catholic the moment Dad came
    Because

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    Let the heathen spill theirs
    On the dusty ground
    God shall make them pay
    For each sperm that can't be found

    Every sperm is wanted
    Every sperm is good
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neighborhood

    Hindu, Taoist, Mormon
    Spill theirs just anywhere
    But God loves those who treat their
    Semen with more care

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is good
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neighborhood

    Every sperm is useful
    Every sperm is fine
    God needs everybody's
    Mine, and mine, and mine

    Let the pagans spill theirs
    O'er mountain, hill and plain
    God shall strike them down for
    Each sperm that's spilt in vain

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is good
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neighborhood

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    February 11, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • joewilson

      i take it you enjoy sperm.

      carry on, good citizen. enjoy your sperm.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  17. Gabriella

    I am not only a catholic but a convert of about 7yrs.I use birth conrol because my husband and I don't want to have children.
    We are caregiver's of older people.We don't feel it is god's calling for us to be parent's.Many people have children because it is the expected thing to do.Some have them because they think it is cool or fun,(teens)Many people that have children, lack basic parenting skills,values.(some older parent's have these issues also.We are blessed with familie's who respect our chilldless choice.My mother in law says when she was growing up in the40's 50's.You got married ,had children.They did
    not have the freedom's that we do today.She loves her three children and doesn't regret having them,but that is what you did.high school ,marraige children.Many of these women were also in there teens and early 20's also.God loves me whether I use contraceptionor or have 10 kid's.My parent's and my religion has taught me not to follow the crowd.Stand up for what you believe in.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  18. Elizabeth

    Shame on Catholic U... you guys should be ashamed that someone at your university has posted this piece of trash on CNN.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      Go make your "natural family PLAN". Apparently your god is too stupid to notice what you are doing.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  19. Fernando

    I am a catholic and I am sure that the bible do not condemn no science that was not even invented at the time they wrote the books so the church are simply pushing this believes to justify something there is no evidence of. And for people that quotes the old testament, it is not taken into consideration when they prohibit or condemn any type of behavior, well, the excuse is that Jesus renewed it with the New testament so all the things done by leaders of the faith during the and before the new testament are irrelevant and only use when is convenient. I truly believe state and church should be completely separated from each other and not to be influenced by the other. God gives you the rules to play, you decide whaT you do, you are free, then based in your actions, you will be judged. He guides you but only you decide your destiny. The problem is that their are. Many versions of this set of rules that have been created to accommodate convenience and uncomfort of certain teachings and rules. That's why we have so many versions of Christianity and so many religions in the world. Trying to fit our personal needs into them so we can choose the one we like the most instead of the one who is the right one. Well, we'll see who is right or not at the end, if anyone is.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  20. Chris

    More anti-catholic screeds and one very confused young Catholic woman. Contraception is a disgusting and dirty thing. It is largely responsible for the breakdown of the family we are witnessing today.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • .

      I agree with you on the anti-Catholic screeds. Atheism has devolved into a religion of ignorance and bigotry. But I disagree with you on the birth control issue. Matter of fact, I don't think enough women (who open their legs to any idiot wearing his jeans around his ankles) have adequate access to birth control. And then it's "whoops"! And ultimately we get the bill.

      There are plenty of reasons I won't be voting for Obama in November, but this isn't one of them.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Pokydoke

      Chris, I do believe that your opinion of contraception is not held by many people. I think that neither you nor the church should have the authority to dictate to others how they should act. the world is overcrowded as it is. President Obama is not forcing people to take birth control he is in fact making sure that Religious organizations don't stuff their archaic views on others.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ "." .. you posted "Atheism has devolved into a religion of ignorance and bigotry". No, that's religion in general. Atheism is a religion like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.
      @ Chris .. so every time you engage in intimacy, you expect a conception? Is that your ONLY reason for having se'x? Or are you still waiting for your first time?

      February 11, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Flinders, the butler

      Bullshit. Your church approves of contraception....NFP. Cite the study that proves your breakdown gibberish. Contraception is responsible for excellent families, without TOO MANY children, and too few resources. S'ex is filthy, contraception is filthy bla bla bla. Sounds like you need a psychiatrist.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • joewilson

      @chris

      yes chris. continue to produce humans as you profess. we require ample labor form lower humans. be sure to teach them the ways of the magical book, and do not stray from the propaganda as it was written. you are to follow what has been given to you. do not listen to those that try to pry you from your beliefs. you serve a purpose. and that is to serve the sky man. your life is devoted to being subservient, and you shall do as the magic book tells you and produce children to serve the higher, mentally autonomous humans.

      carry on, chris. may your god guide you.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:49 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.