Amina Khamis Juma is 22 years old and lives in Mbande-Kisewe, near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After delivering her first child in 2016, she was persuaded by her sisters to begin using contraception since the couple did not wish to have another child. Her sisters suggested using condoms, but they caused pain and discomfort, so Amina and her husband soon stopped. When Amina became pregnant, the couple was unwilling to have a child at that time and tragically opted to abort.
When sexual partners rely upon technology to prevent conception and the technology fails, they often expect they will not have to deal with the “unwanted” consequence – a baby. This way of thinking is called the “contraceptive mentality.” When sexual partners with this mentality engage in a sexual act while inhibiting the procreative element, they are unwilling to consider pregnancy. It is expected that the contraceptive method employed will do what it claims, prevent conception. However, when the contraceptive fails and they become pregnant, the couple often succumbs, like Amina and her husband, to fear and opts for abortion as the “backup choice” – the method of correction.
Father Paul Marx, who held a doctorate in sociology, spent his life affirming Church teaching on life, marriage, and family, testifying to the toxic mindset created by the “contraceptive mentality.” “The foolproof contraceptive does not exist,” said Father Marx, “and sociological studies have shown, almost without exception, that intensive contraceptive programs, by emphasizing the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, also reinforce an intention not to bear an unwanted child under any circumstances; that is, there is a greater likelihood that women experiencing contraceptive failures will resort to abortion.”
During a papal audience with Pope St. John Paul II in 1979, Father Marx offered his insights with the saintly pope saying that “once contraception is widespread, the rest is predictable. In every country contraception always leads to massive abortion.” He further emphasized that “once you have contraception and legalized or widespread abortion, birthrates fall; nations collapse; young people follow their parents in the abuse of sex; and increasing numbers live together without the benefit of marriage.” As if capable of looking into the future, Father Marx also discussed the intimate link between contraception, abortion, and euthanasia. For “if you can kill before birth, why can’t you kill after birth? So, euthanasia is inevitable.”
Colonization of the Mind
Hamidou Kane, a Senegalese novelist, coined the expression “colonization of the mind.” He said there are two ways to control a people: through brute force by waging war with bombs and guns; or through a more permanent and less costly method, to get the people to accept new attitudes through propaganda directed at breaking down the two most important custodians of a nation’s and culture’s values – Faith and the family.
The Church of England, at its 1930 Lambeth Conference, was the first Christian denomination to suggest that the use of artificial contraception by married couples might be morally licit in certain difficult circumstances. It is important to note that leaders at the Conference assumed that the non-use of contraception would be the norm for believing Christians and that its use would only be resorted to in “extreme” cases. But as we know, the “hard case” mentality always leads to greater perversion. It makes for bad law – gradually the lines become blurred. Contraception became respectable, even touted as “good” for married life and society. What was once considered shameful and unmentionable to a great majority of Christians (and even within the general population) became acceptable and even “necessary.”
This growing acceptance of contraception rapidly transformed the culture with the seductive idea of uninhibited “free sex,” made palatable – even virtuous – by an ever-expanding list of seemingly lofty rationales: If reliable contraceptives could not be used, how could married couples express their love for one another without the possibility – threat – of a baby? How could parents (especially the poor) raise a large family with today’s social and economic conditions? What about the threat of an ever-expanding population? How could any woman find fulfillment while she is enslaved to her “biology?”
The minds and hearts of the nation and its people had been corrupted. Whatever reasons Christians might formerly have had for condemning contraception became irrelevant!
Formation of a Contraceptive Mentality
Contraception is the direct intention of preventing by mechanical or chemical means the possible natural and procreative consequence of sexual intercourse – the conception of another human being. The purpose, therefore, is to separate intercourse from procreation so that contracepting partners can enjoy the pleasures of sex without the fear that their sexual activity could lead to pregnancy.
A “mentality” is an attitude of mind, a way of thinking. It is established when a person (group or society) reacts automatically to a situation without thinking of the consequences. A “mentality” is very difficult to correct since it is shielded by unconscious assumptions and preserved by consistent behavior and habit.
The “contraceptive mentality” exists when: (1) sexual intercourse is separated from procreation, (2) the rational is assumed to be normative, and (3) in employing contraception, the couple sever themselves from all responsibility for a conception that might take place as a result of contraceptive failure. This is a pervasive “mentality” that is aware of the immediate benefit but fails to consider the future repercussions. The “contraceptive mentality” implies that a couple has not only the means to separate intercourse from procreation, but also the right or responsibility to do so. It is also important to remember that at the very core of the “contraceptive mentality” is a fear or rejection of something perfectly natural as a result of sexual intercourse – a baby.
Many wrongly believe contraception prevents abortion. This belief is not borne out by studies and statistics. Research clearly shows that contraception leads to riskier behavior, more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently, more abortions. Dr. Malcolm Potts, former Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) openly stated, “As has been pointed out, those who use contraceptives are more likely than those who do not to resort to induced abortion … the epidemiological evidence points to the fact that induced abortion services are most needed by those adopting any form of fertility regulation.” When contraception fails – as it inevitably does – couples, and especially single mothers, are tempted and even pressured to eliminate the “unwanted” life.
Scandalously, national studies reveal that around 72% of all married Catholic couples of childbearing age in the United States use some form of artificial contraception or sterilization to limit childbearing. Studies also reveal that nearly 41% of high school students are sexually active, supported by contraception and its deceptive offer of so-called sexual freedom. How many Planned Parenthood facilities and private abortion clinics now exist to “serve” these young people with the consequences of failed contraception? An entire industry has developed in response to an ever-expanding market – i.e. more sex, more contraception, greater need for abortion.
Pope St. Paul VI, in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, prophetically spoke of some of the consequences of the “contraceptive mentality,” warning that “responsible men… [should] reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards… [men] —and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
Warning about the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments – scandalously, a reality today as seen in massive government-sponsored programs of contraception, forced abortion, and sterilization – he added:
“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.”
Because of successful propaganda and the rejection of Judeo-Christian values concerning marriage, human sexuality, and family life, many people in our society have the attitude that human life is sometimes inconvenient and an unnecessary burden. Pope St. John Paul II saw this “mentality” as a root cause of abortion. When we see any human life as a troublesome burden that we must manage, rather than a sacred gift entrusted to our care, there is a dangerous temptation to get rid of the burden by any means necessary. As Father Marx predicted, we see this same attitude and behavior today with the euthanasia movement.
Proponents of the “sexual revolution,” supported by legalized contraception and abortion, have successfully inflicted upon this generation the burdensome and insidious manifestations of their revolution. Faith and the family are no longer the custodians of our nation’s (our world’s) and culture’s values. Sadly, many of today’s youth have embraced a secular, laissez-faire attitude toward religion, life, sex, marriage, and family life.
Sex is now seen primarily as a matter of “self-expression” or “self-fulfillment.” Responsibility, morality, self-mastery, self-giving, and sacredness which belong to any Christian view of the human person or human sexuality are absent and outwardly rejected. The inevitable consequence of such a point of view is the “contraceptive mentality.” One can’t, after all, have sex without being “free” from the burden of conception and “free sex” is clearly incompatible with any sound idea of marriage and family life. Sexuality is thus divorced not only from possible procreation but also from marriage itself. This explains why many young people delay marriage or opt not to marry at all.
Contraception laid the groundwork for this evolution of thought.
The indoctrination has been successful in creating a sex-saturated culture – I would dare say a sex-addicted culture – fixated upon satisfying any and all urges, supported by the “contraceptive mentality.” This indoctrination is now being systematically introduced into school classrooms, mostly through courses in so-called “sex education or family life education,” in social science courses, and in “population education.” I have personally witnessed these programs in action. I have seen children as young as five being introduced to sexual experimentation and modern contraceptive devices. Our young are being indoctrinated, propagandized, and convinced that contraception, like abortion, is a positive good. They are taught that it is good for themselves and for society in general, and that they have a “moral” obligation to embrace these so-called “truths.” The moral judgments of religion and their parents are passé; “anything goes” is now in vogue.
Lest We Forget
In this great battle for life and family, we can no longer ignore the proverbial skunk in the room – the “contraceptive mentality.” Our effort to end the violence and plague of abortion requires that we address this fundamental, underlying issue. The “contraceptive mentality” is the root from which abortion flows, and failure to address it enables juggernauts like Planned Parenthood Federation of America and IPPF to flourish. As Father Marx said, “while we need a variety of pro-life groups hacking away at the anti-life monster, it is enormously futile and indeed grossly short-sighted to overlook the chief source of baby-killing, which is contraception.” To come full circle to Amina Khamis Juma at the beginning of this article, she outright rejected contraception after her abortion, a failed marriage, terrible effects on her health and even forcibly implanted birth control. After hearing HLI Tanzania on the radio, she reached out and our staff got her immediate help at a Catholic hospital; she is now recovering and learning safe, natural natural family planning (NFP), which is fully open to life.
Sadly, there is much confusion and dissent within the Church regarding contraception, but as faithful Catholics (Christians), we must reclaim an authentic understanding of the human person, life, marriage, and human sexuality, along with the language to articulate these truths to an errant culture. If we truly want to put a permanent end to the violence of abortion, heal the deep wound it causes, and protect the sacredness of human life, marriage, and the family, then we must continue to confront contraception head-on, along with its “mentality” feeding the entire abortion industry.