Over at NRO, Dr. Donna Harrison, the president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reviews the science of contraception in the context of various methods ability to passively, or actively kill a fertilized egg. It is a pretty thorough review of the subject written for the layperson, and Dr. J. will not rehash it for the reader.
When it comes to contraception, Dr. J. believes that there are a few schools of thoughts with which American Catholics approach it.
The first group are the most orthodox of Catholics, and follow the teachings faithfully. Natural family planning is the order of the day. This group is sufficiently devout and self-actualized to embrace the reasoning behind Paul VI’s teachings in Humanae Vitae, and that is that the willing acceptance of the generative aspects of the marital act is equally important as protecting life from conception to natural death.
The second contingent, where many, if not most Catholics distance themselves from the Church’s teaching’s is that the issue of the sanctity of life is important, but they really really don’t want more than two kids. For this group, they believe, clearly, that abortion is wrong. If given a chance to understand the science of IUDs, and even many oral contraceptives, they will eschew those choices as well, as they find that even the creating conditions that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting is just as wrong as terminating an ongoing pregnancy (please note the careful use of semantics here). They have no problem with barrier methods or sterilization, and probably rationalize that they have some moral high ground due avoiding abortifacients. These and the first group are natural allies against the HHS mandate because they all find equally that being complicit with causing the death of a fertilized egg is immoral.
The third group, Dr. J. likes to call Schrödinger’s Catholics. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ sums up their view on contraception. Abortion is clearly wrong in their eyes. They are similarly comfortable about non-abortifacent contraceptives. Where they go further off the reservation is that they take the tack that even though the science says that OCPs can block implantation, that they’re not ovulating and they’re cervical mucus is too thick, they aren’t causing a fertilized egg to miss its date with destiny, even though that might be the case with other people. A subset of this group is not necessarily ignorant, but they think there’s a difference between a fertilized egg, and an implanted egg that generates symptoms of pregnancy.
The fourth group are the Pelosi/Sebelius Catholics. They’re Catholic by birth, go to church because they go to church, or they don’t, but they don’t agree with the Church on anything and are unashamedly pro-choice.
Understanding the difference between these four groups (and it is more of a continuum than four groups) is crucial to winning allies on issues of life and of religious liberty.