Beliefnet
Steven Waldman

jill stanek.jpgI’m often asked by pro-choice friends why pro-lifers oppose sex education, family planning, and contraception. Don’t those approaches reduce unintended pregnancy and therefore the numbers of abortions? It’s a question at the heart of efforts to achieve “common ground” on abortion.
I know pro-life activists hate that some money goes to Planned Parenthood, which also performs abortions, and that they don’t actually think family planning works. But what if it could be proven that it did reduce unintended pregnancies? Would they still have philosophical objections? And even if there are problems with promoting contraception, aren’t they lesser sins than abortion in their view? (I’m especially fascinated by her answer on that: “the idea of authorizing “lesser sins” to decrease “greater sins” is not Scriptural.”)
So I emailed Jill Stanek, an important pro-life leader (she’s the Chicago nurse who almost single handedly made Barack Obama’s opposition to Illinois’ “born alive” legislation a big issue in the 2008 campaign). A “non-denominational Christian,” she speaks around the nation and blogs at JillStanek.com .
My goal here was not to assess or challenge every thing Jill said but to tease out one question: why — really — do pro-life leaders resist birth control as a way of reducing the number of abortions?
Her response is the most clear, and revealing, I’ve seen:
From: Steve Waldman
To: Jill Stanek
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 4:10 PM
Subject: question

Jill, I’m curious about something…. IF family planning could be disentangled from Planned Parenthood funding, would you support it? (By the way, by family planning I mean education and health care that includes abstinence education and birth control education)
Best,
steve
From: Jill Stanek
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 5:21 PM
To: Steve Waldman
Subject: RE: question

Hi Steve,
No, I would only support abstinence training with perhaps an explanation of the harm of contraceptives – the failure rate, that the pill is composed of artificial female steroids, etc.(Hormonal contraceptives are bad for women. They’re simply artificial female steroids. If we understand the harm of male steroids, why not the harm of female steroids?)
Step back, Steve. We don’t have training on how to drink alcohol, which we oppose, but here’s how to drink if you must. We don’t have training on how to take drugs, which we oppose, but here’s how to shoot up if you must.
Steve, comprehensive sex ed has ruled the roost for over 40 years and is an astounding miserable failure. It has only increased the volume of kids having sex, getting abortions, and catching STDs (which are now out of control).
Thoughts?
J
From: Steve Waldman
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 3:56 PM
To: Jill Stanek
Subject: RE: question

I’m trying to disentangle the practical argument from the philosophical one. You (and many prolifers) believe that family planning does not reduce unintended pregnancies; in fact, it increases them.
But, theoretically, IF family planning DID reduce unintended pregnancy would you – in theory – support it?
From: Jill Stanek
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 7:55 AM
To: Steve Waldman
Subject: RE: question

Steve,
The thing for the other side to acknowledge is that all statistics show comprehensive sex ed and “family planning” (widespread contraceptive distribution) have only served to increase illicit sexual activity and its consequences. The other side needs to prove how it hasn’t.
That said, most pro-lifers would never support comprehensive sex ed and widespread contraceptive distribution on a philosophical level for at least four reasons.
1. The logic behind them is hypocritical. Assuming you’re married, would your wife send you out of town on a business trip after slipping a condom in your suitcase and saying, “Honey, I want you to be faithful, but here’s protection just in case you slip up”? No. Why do we expect any less from our kids than we do ourselves? Why do we send them a lowered-bar message?
2. One potential action of hormonal contraceptives is to abort a 5-9 day old preborn baby. And that’s all IUDs do – abort.
3. Contraceptives are the root of abortion. “Contraceptive” means anti-conception. Contraceptives establish a mindset of hostility toward the blessing of children.
4. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. Steve, you’re a believer. You know the rules God set up are for our own good. We breach them, we suffer consequences. We compromise, we suffer consequences. We need to teach that sex outside of marriage is categorically harmful. We may not be able to say this is Biblical teaching. But we can bank on the fact this teaching is solid, and we have 40+ years of statistics in this case to prove it. We do not say, don’t murder but here’s how in case you can’t resist. We do not say, don’t steal but here’s how in case you can’t resist. We do not say, don’t commit adultery but here’s how in case you can’t resist. We have to resist the culture and think the same way about premarital sex.
Hope this helps, Steve.
God bless,
JIll
From: Steve Waldman
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:45 AM
To: Jill Stanek
Subject: RE: question

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I might disagree on some of the particulars and agree on others but I had a broader question. Let’s assume that everything you said in #1-4 is true – and is a sin.
We have the sin of hypocrisy, the sin of devaluing the blessing of children, the sin of sanctioning premarital sex.
But aren’t each of them lesser sins than abortion? IF it could be proved that allowing these lesser sins would decrease the number of abortions – the greater sin – why wouldn’t you go for that?
Best,
Steve
From: Jill Stanek
To: Steve Waldman
Sent: Thu Jul 02 02:14:21 2009
Subject: RE: question

Steve, for one thing, the idea of authorizing “lesser sins” to decrease “greater sins” is not Scriptural. In fact, Scripture teaches the opposite phenomenon occurs: Little sins lead to bigger sins. They don’t sate. You should know satan works in quite the opposite direction, enticing us in small, seemingly innocuous ways.
That premise aside, it is no “lesser sin” to commit extramarital sex — both before marriage and during marriage.
And my point #2 is in your words the “greater sin” of abortion, anyway. Read the Pill’s literature. It is thought to work one of 4 ways: stopping ovulation, making the egg impermeable to sperm, slowing sperm by increasing mucous viscosity, or making the endometrial wall impermeable to an embryo attempting to implant – abortion. The entire job of the IUD is to make the endometrial wall impermeable to an embryo attempting to implant – abortion.
God speed,
J

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