To the Journal editor:
Thanks to Sandy Bonsall for her letter to the editor in the Aug. 5 Mining Journal in which she shares her thoughts regarding Catholicism and contraception. I, too, am a Catholic convert of the 1970s. I did not understand why the Church teaches artificial contraception is wrong, but I was attracted to natural family planning because of the health risks from hormonal contraceptives, risks known even in the 1970s. (The insert which accompanies the pill is a lengthy list of side effects.)
This danger compelled me as a young woman to investigate and practice NFP. When I did so, I discovered an age-old principle: faith precedes understanding. Though I didn't understand the church's teaching, I followed it for practical reasons. Then, and only then, did I begin to understand the wisdom and beauty of this ancient, yet current teaching.
Of human life, the church's primary document explaining the rationale behind its condemnation of artificial contraception, lists the certain fallout from widespread use of contraceptives. These include marital infidelity, general lowering of morals, men's loss of respect for women and coercion on the parts of governments regarding their use. Anyone can see that this has occurred in our society and around the world.
I taught NFP for over 20 years. Couples spoke candidly to me about their experiences with contraception, about how the woman felt used and taken for granted; about how their sex lives were boring and even divisive, leading to pornography use, infidelity, and divorce; and extreme regret from those who had been sterilized.
Today we know that the birth control pill is a class 1 carcinogen like asbestos which increases the risk of breast and cervical cancer, and possibly liver cancer as well. Recent research also indicates a nearly doubled risk of HIV transmission with pill use.
The Catholic Church offers a vision of human sexuality that is truly liberating in the freedom from negative health effects and that revels in the beauty of our sexuality, yet encourages responsible parenthood. The ways of goodness and truth are not always easy, as the martyrs and saints of our church show us.