Pamphlet Exposes Contraception's High Stakes
U.S. Bishops Offer Life Issues Educational Packet
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WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Many teens see contraception as a quick fix, but most do not read the fine print or hear about the high stakes involved.
This was affirmed in a pamphlet that is part of a newly released Respect Life Program, produced by the U.S. bishops' conference Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
The program packet aims to increase public awareness of life issues by offering materials such as pamphlets, prayers, liturgy resources and clip art. The annual program begins on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October.
In a pamphlet titled "Contraception: The Fine Print," Susan Wills, the secretariat's assistant director for education and outreach, outlined the risks of several popular contraceptives.
She affirmed that contraceptives have encouraged many people to "engage in sexual relationships that are unfaithful, selfish, short-term, and altered to be sterile, not life giving."
These "uncommitted relationships" often lead to other problems, Wills asserted, such as abortions and sexually transmitted diseases.
She reported that almost 90% of "sexually-active American women 'at risk' of becoming pregnant are using contraception."
However, she added, a 2006 report from the Guttmacher Institute, a "research institute which supports abortion and contraception," stated that there is no correlation between better access to contraception and lower abortion rates.
The pamphlet reported Guttmacher's findings, that 17.4% of people who use condoms were pregnant within a year.
It added that for teenagers, this number jumps to 23.2%. Among teens who cohabit and are more sexually active, 71.7% got pregnant within the year.
Wills reported that the condom failure rates in protecting against sexually transmitted diseases are "even worse."
She stated that in the United States alone, there are 19 million new cases of these diseases each year.
The pamphlet explained, "Those who mistakenly believe that contraception protects them from pregnancy and [diseases] are more likely to become sexually active at an earlier age and to engage in riskier activity, such as having more sexual partners."
Wills dedicated another section to talk about the scientifically documented risks of hormonal contraceptives, including various types of oral pills, Norplant, the Ortho Evra patch, Yaz birth control pills, implants and injections, and Plan B.
She pointed out that the more successful these methods are at disrupting ovulation, "the more risks they pose to a woman's overall health."
"Rather than protecting girls and young women, contraception risks their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being," she said.
The pamphlet acknowledged that there are methods, however, that do work.
It noted that many married couples "remain unaware that modern scientific methods of [natural family planning] enable them to space the birth of their children and, for sound reasons, limit the size of their family, in a way that is lovingly obedient to Jesus Christ and his Church, while avoiding the sin of contraception."
For single people, a growing population of teens who are choosing to postpone sexual activity shows that abstinence works to decrease abortions.
From 1991 to 2001, the number of U.S. teens who reported having had sex decreased by 16%, and the number who described themselves as "sexually active" went down 11%.
The pamphlet continued: "Greater abstinence means fewer abortions. Between 1984 and 2004 the abortion rate dropped more than 60% among girls under 18 and decreased almost 48% for girls 18-19."
Wills appealed on behalf of "our daughters and sisters" who "deserve to grow up healthy and free of preventable diseases that can last a lifetime."
"For their sakes," she asserted, "we must reject the contraceptive-based approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions and support sound abstinence education."
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On the Net:
Respect Life Program: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/