Issues for Catholic Voters (2012 edition) – Population
Population (Chapter VII)
“Thus the Church condemns as a grave offense against human dignity and justice all those activities of governments or other public authorities which attempt to limit in any way the freedom of couples in deciding about children” (Familiaris Consortio, 30).
In recent decades, the issue of overpopulation has led the United States to spend millions of dollars on population control efforts. Much of this money is given to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work in developing nations to address what they see as problems of over-population.
In this effort to control population, Abortion, sterilization, and contraception have become an accepted part of U.S. foreign policy.
The so-called “Mexico City Policy,” originally implemented in 1984 by President Reagan, restricts federal money earmarked for family planning from being spent on abortion overseas or on military bases. It specifically prohibits funding for programs that force, promote, or advocate changes in laws to legalize abortion.
The Mexico City Policy was ended by President Clinton, reinstated in 2001 by President George W. Bush, and ended again by President Barack Obama in 2009.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fully supports the continuing implementation of this policy. When the Mexico City Policy is in place, many NGOs are now barred from receiving federal family planning money from USAID and similar organizations.
As with voluntary sterilization, unnatural contraceptive techniques remain entrenched in government-funded family planning programs. In fact, the United States spent $648.5 million in fiscal year 2010 on contraception around the world and the Obama Administration requested an additional $67.2 million for 2011. Yet the Church teaches that contraception is immoral.
The many Church documents that address the problem of contraception stress the self-giving that stands at the heart of the relationship between a husband and wife. Contraception is a deliberate refusal of this gift. “This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love” (Familiaris Consortio, 32).
Artificial family planning techniques do not work, and they do nothing to benefit a person’s character. The best way to deal with destructive behavior is to change the behavior, not to render the behavior seemingly innocuous. In fact, recent statistics highlight the fact that increased contraceptive use does not result in decreased recourse to abortion, and condom use alone has not been successful in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Abstinence programs, which the Church does applaud, have recently been successfully employed to fight the plague of AIDS, most notably in Africa. Despite this success, natural family planning (NFP) has never been employed by any of the federally funded NGOs around the world, even though the Foreign Assistance Act was amended in 1981 to ensure that NFP methods were included in the global family planning discussion.
Controversies over population policy became quite visible during the pontificate of John Paul II when the Holy See participated in a succession of world conferences on population: Cairo (1994), Beijing (1995), New York (1999), and Beijing (2000). During these conferences, the Holy See delegation united with key allies, including most Muslim countries, to keep the documents from enshrining such things as a “universal women’s right to abortion” and an unfettered right of adolescents to “reproductive health services.”
Despite their efforts, each conference incrementally added more “reproductive rights” until, in arguably the worst event, the UN called for the training of health-care workers to perform abortions and make them available. To make matters worse, the Vatican ‘s repeated calls to include conscientious objection protection for pro-life healthcare workers were totally ignored.
Population policy also has a domestic side. At least 23 states have mandated that employee insurance policies cover contraceptives, including the abortifacient “morning-after pill.”
For a Catholic institution, such as a hospital or university, such a mandate is a clear violation of conscience. While some states have included a “conscience clause” that allows a business to opt out on religious grounds, some do not, and some are so poorly written that the Catholic Church does not qualify. The threat is real, since a federal mandate would override all the conscience clauses of the states and require all religious employers to provide contraception, including the USCCB.
- Catholic teaching stipulates abortion, contraception, and sterilization should not be part of our nation’s public policy.
- Artificial family planning techniques do not work and they do nothing to benefit a person’s character.
- Abstinence programs supported by the Church have recently been successfully employed, most notably in Africa, to fight the plague of AIDS.
By Deal Hudson, President of Catholic Advocate