On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

A prominent Catholic professor says a New York Times attack on natural contraception is “very peculiar” and “completely uninformative.”

Professor Janet Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She is a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family and an opponent of contraception. She told the pro-life website LifeSiteNews that the Times’ article “reports one couple’s experience as though it were universal.”

The Catholic church opposes any strategy to avoid pregnancy other than natural methods of monitoring the woman’s cycle and fertility signs.

The Times story detailed the story of a couple who had been Catholic anti-contraception activists, but who have now divorced and attend liberal Protestant churches. Smith told LifeSiteNews that natural family planning has strengthened and even saved countless marriages, while the use of contraceptives has been linked to divorce.

The Times article, she said, “made no attempt to get the testimony of those whose marriages have been saved and whose intimacy has been radically deepened by the use of natural family planning.  They are legion. Clearly the [formerly activist husband and wife] do not attribute all their marital problems to the use of natural family planning, nor should any reader of the article conclude that it was the use of natural family planning that led to their divorce.”

“It may well have been the recourse to contraceptives that led to the disintegration of the marriage,” the professor added, citing research by Stanford demographer Robert Michael, that links the rise of contraceptive availability and divorce. He “actually discovered that as the contraceptive pill became more and more available, that line was parallel to the divorce line. In about 1975-1976 when every woman who wanted access to the Pill had it, that’s when the divorce rate leveled off.”

Couples using natural methods, she said, have vastly lower divorce rates than the general population.  In general, couples report better communication, mutual respect, and intimacy.”

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