I have always read with great profit Dr Mobbs' articles in AD2000, so I was absolutely stunned to read his criticism of Anne Lastman's article on Humanae Vitae. His letter could not pass without comment. Humanae Vitae was not the only Magisterial teaching prohibiting contraception. The Roman Catechism, for example, states: "Whoever in marriage artificially prevents conception, or procures an abortion, commits a most serious sin: the sin of premeditated murder."
Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii said that "any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin ..." and this teaching is "uninterrupted Christian tradition."
As St Augustine notes, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Judah, did this and the Lord killed him for it." Catholic historians even see its prohibition in the context of instruction from the Didache (attributed to the Twelve Apostles): "You shall not use magic. You shall not use drugs. You shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child."
Dr Mobbs' opinion, "that the number of unwanted pregnancies due to failure to use contraceptives would have led to a greater number of abortions" echoes the common secular line such as espoused by Mia Freedman, founder of the website Mamamia.com.au: "...why aren't we considering the idea of free contraception as a way to reduce abortions?"
But as Bl John Paul II observed in Evangelium Vitae: "It is frequently asserted that contraception ... is the most effective remedy against abortion. The Catholic Church is then accused of actually promoting abortion, because she obstinately continues to teach the moral unlawfulness of contraception.
"When looked at carefully, this objection is clearly unfounded. It may be that many people use contraception with a view to excluding the subsequent temptation of abortion. But the (anti-life) values inherent in the 'contraceptive mentality' ... are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected."
Statistics show that at least half the presentations for abortion come from failed contraception. Those who use the pill have a 6% chance of falling pregnant every year; those who use the condom have a 15% chance. After 10 years of continuous use, close to 50% of woman will have an unintended pregnancy; on the pill after four years, close to 50% of condom users will have the same. And 30-40% of these women went on to have an abortion for, as the ABS states, "termination of pregnancy ... is generally a response to unintended pregnancy resulting from contraceptive failure or unplanned sexual activity."
Dr Mobbs says that he "knows of no evidence to show that, in general, couples using contraceptives love each other less than those who do not". But contraception is not merely arbitrary positive Divine Law. As the new Catechism states, quoting Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, contraception "lead[s] not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality."
Love that is not total can decay to nothing – even change to estrangement. It is interesting to note that two-thirds of Australian women contracept in one way or another. Australia's divorce rate is 40%, but only 0.2% among those who use Natural Family Planning (NFP)! If contracepting couples loved each other as much as those who used NFP, why is their divorce rate 200 times higher than NFP users?
Dr Mobbs says that the basis of moral judgement is the notion of benefitting or harming someone – and that the majority of contraceptive cases involve no harm to anyone. However, the moral harm of committing a mortal sin is the worst harm there is as it could lead to damnation. The physical harm of contraceptives are not a few and include cancer risks, permanent sterility, sudden death from blood clots in the lung, death of the unintentionally conceived foetus by abortafacient effects, etc.
The divorce rate started to take off in 1960s, coinciding with the introduction of the pill. In the USA alone, largely because of contraception, the number of cohabitating couples saw a staggering 10-fold increase from 1960 to 1998! One-third of children born in Australia are now out of wedlock.
Of course, contraception has not only coincided with the sexual revolution, but has allowed it to happen because of the false mentality of sex without the consequences of pregnancy. Dr Mobbs appears to imply that contraceptives should be restricted to married couples, immoral though it may be. Dr John Rock, the medical pioneer of the pill, thought the same, but it quickly became the means for illicit sexual activity as predicted by Paul VI.
Mary Eberstadt of the Hoover Institution also reflected: "Once heterosexuals start claiming the right to act as homosexuals (in contracepting) it would not be long before homosexuals start claiming the rights of heterosexuals: gay marriage of course! Separating sexual union from procreation has led to separating procreation from sexual union: IVF. Separating procreation from sexual union has led to separating love from procreation: surrogacy. Separating love from procreation has led to frozen orphan embryos, selective embryo reduction, designer babies, gender abortion".
I could go on but it is beyond the scope of a letter. Paul VI said in Humanae Vitae that the Church was destined to be a sign of contradiction like her divine founder. Forty-five years on, that document has certainly proved to be so.
ANDREW FOONG (DR)
Bossley Park, NSW