Evil Don’t Look Like Anything

Week Two: Contraception

“Evil Don’t Look Like Anything” by Julie Robison
“Beyaz Yourself” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
“Wearing Crucifixes and Condoms” by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the second post of a Lenten blog post series called “Bright Maidens”. We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Today’s blog carnival is hosted by Fire of Thy Love

This week’s discussion of contraception is not a judgment of people who take it, or meant to belittle or dismiss its helpful medical benefits. But it is false to claim that most women currently on hormonal birth control are not on it to prevent pregnancy, and it is folly to defend any contraceptives as a safe way to have sex.

First of all, sex isn’t meant to be safe. Holding hands is safe. Sex is supposed to be exciting and the ultimate sign of love and commitment between two spouses in the marital bed. Sex is a risk; every act of love may result in a new creation. Sex is a bond, physically and emotionally. Contraception attempts to take away all the risk, lessen the bond, and leave the sensual excitement. There is no longer a need for commitment, just mutual consent.

At the beginning of this year, I was assigned to write an article for Our Sunday Visitor on a poll sponsored by Human Life International America and done by the polling company inc./ Women’s trend. I thought it was going to be very cut and dry. The teleconference press conference was a half hour, and I was the only journalist who asked any questions. Total weak sauce on the side of the journalists; the information was fascinating and the women speaking were fabulous—like Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon and co-director of the Sanofi Aventis Breast Cancer Center at the Steeplechase Cancer Center.

She said, “It’s long been known that estrogen/ progestogen combination drugs such as the pill does cause breast cancer. In fact, in 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, put it as a Group I carcinogen.”

From what I’ve read by the Mayo Clinic (Dr. James R. Cerhan, 2006), the question of this connection between hormonal birth control and breast cancer should not even be a question any more. But I’ve now discussed it with multiple friends in med school and found other results. My mom is a cancer specialist too, and this topic has fascinated me since high school. I had only heard snippets of this growing up, mostly concluding in “inconclusive results.” But did y’all know that a woman’s risk for breast cancer is increased by 52 percent if she takes the pill for four years before her first pregnancy? The National Cancer Institute, according to its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data, shows a 400 percent increase in non-invasive (“in situ”) breast cancer in premenopausal women since 1975!

And this poll, which surveyed over 800 women between the ages of 15 and 44, revealed that only 19 percent knew about the links to breast cancer. Of those participants, 3/5 admitted to using birth control to avoid pregnancy. My article, “Most women unaware of birth control pill health risks, poll finds,” continues to be republished in newspapers, the latest being San Diego’s Southern Cross. The research I did for it, the people I talked to and encountered, not only changed my perception and understanding of contraception, but my attitude of its noxious hold on society and the pedestal it arrogantly enjoys.

Even before this article, I had done a lot of research on the family and family planning for my senior thesis on the degradation of the family with the expansion of government (focusing on the black American family and the Moynihan Report). Did you know that the black community saw the work of government-sponsored Planned Parenthood as an attack on the black community for decades? As they rightly should have- it’s an unfortunate part of American history that the black community was targeted by “family planning” centers to lessen the amount of black people.

Even today, it was recently released that, in New York City, 41 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that’s 87,273 abortions. More than half of those were black babies. And that is only one major city, in one country. This is happening all over the world, to babies of all colors!

Which brings us back to contraception: yesterday evening, at RCIA, we talked about temptation and sin. The thing about temptation is that the Devil is taking something good and twisting it for his own, malicious ends. Temptation isn’t the bad thing- it’s how one chooses to respond, in what we do or fail to do.
For example, at one turning point in the movie Down With Love, Renee Zellweger has let Ewan McGregor’s character think he was tricking her into bed the whole time, when really, she had him him fooled: 
Then you, the great Catcher Block, would know that you’d been beaten at your own game… by me, Nancy Brown, your former secretary. And I would have, once and for all, set myself apart from all the other girls you’ve known, all those other girls that you never really cared about, by making myself someone like the one person you really love and admire above all others: you. Then, when you realized that you had finally met your match… I would have at last gained the respect that would make you wanna marry me first and seduce me later.


This, of course, is not how people should date, but Zellweger has it down: marry first, seduce later. Unfortunately, the Devil knows people lean towards the good in this world. So what does he do? He turns people’s hearts so that evil appears good, or at least, equal to the good. Because seducing is just as good as marrying, right? This is why free will is so important and our capacity to freely choose the good over the bad. Contraception- which starts with contra, meaning against- is detrimental for sex and the people who use it because of its very purpose, which is to disconnect the physically and emotionally sacred act from the physical and tangible formation of little souls.

Sex while using contraceptives outside and inside marriage (the current statistics say 85 percent of sexually-active Catholics use some sort of birth control) has taken its toll on the very institution of marriage, weakening its foundation and meaning, as well as being linked to health issues like breast cancer, and a substantial increase in infertility, divorce, and abortion over the past half century.

One of my favorite songs is a murder ballad by Okervil River called “Westfall”:

The song is about a boy and his friend who kill two girls. The end stanzas are the ones which give me absolute chills, when the band really speeds up and the passion is almost pleading–

And when I killed her it was so easy
that I wanted to kill her again.
I got down on both of my knees and…
She ain’t coming back again.

Now, with all these cameras focused on my face,
you’d think they could see it through my skin.
They’re looking for evil, thinking they can trace it,
but evil don’t look like anything.

C.S. Lewis said, “By mixing a little truth with it, they had made their lie far stronger.” Contraception claims to free women, free them from their “biological repercussions.” But when you compare men to women, they are functionally the same. One’s masculine or feminine vocation aside, men and women have very different natures, while retaining the ability to do similar tasks and activities.

The difference between men and women, without oversimplifying the matter, lies in the woman’s ability to create (with the man), carry and then give life to another human being. That is why women must defend this gift and calling: bearing children is the ultimate litmust test- it is the one thing men cannot do! They do not have the inner tools for it, medical procedures and flukes aside.

While doing research for my senior thesis, I had the pleasure of reading many fantastic documents like Pope Pius XI’s “Casti Connubii. Delivered in Rome on December 31, 1930, this is a very important treatisie on Christian marriage, especially since it followed the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which loosened the Protestants’ historical rejection and objections to birth control. I wish I could share more of this wonderful encyclical, but this passage held me particularly rapt:

This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.


This is why contraception, with its outer appearance of helping women and relationships, actually does the opposite. It cheapens sex. It alleviates commitment. Contraception, like drops of water wearing down a stone, lessens the dignity of the human person when used to avoid becoming pregnant. It reduces romance and equalizes love. Even more so, the attitude of an “unwanted pregnancy” attempts to relinquish the newly created child’s dignity. But a person does not have worth because its mother wants it; as the Lord says even when your mother forsakes you, I will not.


Yes, God. I know, my rosary is getting near your ovaries! But people forget that their rights are not more important than right and wrong. People don’t want to be reminded that God’s law is eternal and, in the end, we all must answer for what we have done, and what we have failed to do. Contraception does not deliver people into more freedom, it decieves and corrupts charity.

This, I suppose, is my biggest problem with contraception: it warps people’s minds about what is life and what is not. It darkens the intellect. It takes the grave and moral matter of life and turns it into a gray matter. But anyone who has an abortion or uses contraception admits de facto that sex results in babies. Why else would they use contraception? If it’s actually a clump of cells growing rapidly, you might want to see an oncologist, not an ob/gyn.

Russell Kirk, on the object of human life, said,

Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that “they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

May we all look upwards, without fear, and towards hope in the Lord’s already given gift of life. Happy Tuesday, y’all!