Arguably, abortion has increased exponentially with the legality introduced by Roe vs. Wade ... this is to be expected, as women now have freer access.
What is perhaps unexpected, however, is the dramatic increase in unintended pregnancies over the same time period, unprecedented in light of the ready availability of safer and more reliable contraceptive methods.
Why, if we have access to the most technologically-advanced and medically-sound contraception in the history of humanity, are we still seeing more than 1.3 million recorded abortions annually in the U.S.?
It would seem that rather than decreasing the number of unintended pregnancies, (and thereby decreasing the need for abortion) the legalization and ready availability of chemical and surgical abortions in this country has resulted in skyrocketing abortion rates:
Pope John Paul II calls this propensity to rely on abortion for backup the "contraceptive mentality." In his 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," the "Gospel of Life," the Holy Father explains that:
In the 1992 case Parenthood v. Casey, the Court said, "In several critical respects, abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception. For two decades of economic and social development (i.e., since the 1973 decision to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade), people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define themselves and their place in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail."
"despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree....the life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs." ("Evangelium Vitae" 13).The fact is, contraception alters part of the intention of the sexual act, (pro-creation) impoverishing the intrinsic dual meaning (pleasure and pro-creation) to exclude the latter. The result: an "unintended" pregnancy, derivative of "failed" contraceptive sex. Naturally, we're going to want to have a back up plan. Unfortunately for the resultant fetus, (aka tiny person) that backup plan includes - but is not limited to - death by salt poisoning, (saline abortion) dismemberment, (surgical abortion) or uterine implantation rejection (RU-486).
There are those on both sides of the issue who will argue for the morality of contraception, insisting that it's a means of "good stewardship" of a family's resources, that it allows a married couple more freedom and enjoyment within the marital relationship, that it's "better than abortion," refusing to recognize the humanity of abortion's primary victim (the parents being, always, secondary victims).
The refutation is simple: contraception exists, so too must abortion. Get rid of contraception, (the ability to separate the pro-creative from the unitive aspect of sexual union) and abortion decreases. Dramatically.
"But, but...." Some will sputter, "that's not fair! I want to have sex when I want it, with whomever (or whatever) I see fit. Without consequence."
Except there are always consequences. Our society is crumbling from its very foundation: children born out of wedlock to single parents who cannot sufficiently provide for their material or spiritual needs, a divorce rate that won't quit, and a shocking proliferation of physical and sexual violence against women. Because, dammit, she better give me what I want when I want it... or else. If everyone is available for sex (and contraception allows for that assumption) than everyone had better be available. Or else. A cursory examination of the last 40 year's societal trends should be sufficient to quell any lingering disbelief.
As a final disclaimer, let me emphasize - as Ms. Smith does in her talk - the fault lies not with our misguided fore mothers and forefathers 4 decades removed: most of them really did herald the invention of reliable contraception as a miraculous advancement in the human condition. World poverty rates would plummet; unwanted children would be no more; marriages would survive and thrive....unfortunately, the exact opposite has occurred, in each instance.
One man saw (perhaps with some Divinely-cast light) the tangled web we'd begun weaving, though his cries fell on largely deaf ears. Most of us are still learning to hear. Many of us don't want to hear a thing. But for those who are interested...give this a look. A word of caution: it may change your life.