The 50th anniversary of the birth control pill — the Food and Drug Administration gave it final approval in 1960 — has been the occasion of much media fanfare, societal reflection — and what we might call Secular Triumphalism. We, the Enlightened, knew all along that giving women control over their fertility was going to be simply marvelous. End of story. Some of us have tried to point out that the pill had some negative consequences, but few seem interested.
The reason for the disconnect is that the ideology surrounding the pill is more significant than the pill itself.
Behind the apparently benign goal of giving people more choices lies a deeper goal: re-creating society. And since this new society is neither appealing nor natural, its advocates are not so eager to call attention to it.
The New Contraceptive World Order holds these tenets: Sex is a sterile recreational activity. “Safe” sex (meaning sex with a condom) has no significant negative consequences. Marriage is not necessary for either sexual activity or childbearing. And unlimited sexual activity is an entitlement for everyone old enough to give meaningful consent.
But there is a serpent in this man-made paradise: All of these tenets are false.
It isn’t true that sex is a sterile activity. Contraception fails — regularly. Even the pill only reduces the probability of pregnancy, but not all the way to zero. Uncommitted sex has plenty of negative consequences that cannot be prevented by contraception. Marriage really is the best place for both sexual activity and childbearing. And, because we have been convinced that unlimited sexual activity is an entitlement, we have sex in relationships that cannot possibly sustain a pregnancy. When the inevitable pregnancies result, we fall back on abortion to continue clinging to our belief in the New Contraceptive World Order.
Thus, the attempt to create this new society cannot succeed.
The New Contraceptive World Order is an artificial creation of the state. It requires continual support and coddling from the state, including ever-increasing efforts to suppress dissent and enforce conformity.
Cheerleaders for this new heaven on earth insist that all doctors be trained in abortions, that all pharmacists prescribe all forms of birth control, that all employers provide contraception and abortion in their health plans. Suppressing the choices of doctors, pharmacists, insurers and employers makes no sense — unless the real goal is to create the new and unnatural society of sterile sex.
Public-interest law firms defending First Amendment rights report that student pro-life groups are subjected to more restrictions on their free-speech rights than virtually any other student groups.
Obviously, restricting free speech in the name of reproductive “freedom” is incoherent. None of this would be necessary if the only purpose of the pill were to give everyone more choices.
This fundamental incoherence is also the underlying cause of the contentiousness of the Supreme Court nomination process. Since this new world cannot sustain itself by the ordinary actions of ordinary people making voluntary decisions, it has to be sustained by the continual applications of force by those in power. This explains why the stakes for seats in the judiciary are so high.
You might think that consistent failures would compel people to reconsider their ideas about sex. But this cannot be left to chance. The propaganda surrounding the pill has been just as revolutionary as the pill itself. Griswold v. Connecticut, allowing married couples to access contraception to reduce the probability of pregnancy, was never enough for the radicals of the sexual revolution.
To bring their dream world into existence, contraception has to be actively promoted. The federal government finances contraception education in public schools. The sexual-revolution radicals become hysterical over the mere mention of abstinence education. Even people who are normally not ideological have become convinced that it is more “realistic” to expect teenagers to use a condom every time than to persuade them to postpone sexual activity in the first place.
As for the great benefits to women supposedly created by contraception, consider this: In the New Contraceptive World Order, women have the freedom to participate in the labor market on the same terms as men with this proviso: We agree to chemically neuter ourselves during our peak reproductive years.
But it never was necessary for women to make the Faustian bargain. The trend toward the increasing participation of women in higher education and the labor force began around the turn of the 20th century — well before the pill, The Feminine Mystique and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Women never needed contraception to be free, even according to the crabbed and truncated vision of freedom that claims that acting on impulse is the ultimate expression of human liberty.
The Catholic Church and other advocates of natural society have taken a beating for being hopelessly “out of step” with modern times.
Do not be deceived by this incessant rhetoric.
The New Contraceptive World Order is inhuman, irrational and, ultimately, unsustainable. It is time to insist that our government stop trying to create something that would not make us happy — even if it could be forced into being, which it cannot.
Jennifer Roback Morse is founder of the Ruth Institute,
a project of the National Organization for Marriage.