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Having our Schnitzel

By Alisa Craddock
web posted January 26, 2009

Something happened in early January that went largely unnoticed.  The co-inventor of the contraceptive pill came out publicly and denounced his own invention, calling the consequences of its use a "demographic catastrophe".  (The head of the world's Catholic doctor's last week added to Carl Djerassi's own comments by also decrying the "devastating ecological effects" [of the pill which released] into the environment "tonnes of hormones" that had impaired male fertility." 

Carl Djerassi called the demographic decline in Europe a "horror scenario" and an epidemic. "On the [European] continent", he said, there is now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction."  With the average couple producing 1.4 children in his country, Austria (a Catholic country), there are not enough replacements to ensure survival of the society.  They are committing national suicide, according to Djerassi.  And not just in Austria.  In countries where the pill and abortion (for abortion followed closely on the heels of contraception) have been successfully embedded in the mindset of populations worldwide, demographic decline has begun to snowball, and reversing it is proving to be difficult.  Djerassi described the obstinacy of couples refusing to bear children as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."

This is not something that was unexpected.  In 1968, when all of Protestantism had caved to pressure to allow use of the contraceptive pill, Pope Paul VI promulgated (against much pressure within the Catholic Church from clergy and theologians alike) an encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae.  In it, he warned against a number of consequences of artificial contraception, including the lowering of moral standards throughout society, widespread and easy infidelity; objectification of women and an overall lessening of respect for women by men, and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.  All of these things have come to pass, and more.

Other consequences include an increase in unwed pregnancy and abortion, an epidemic of STDs, female poverty due to single parent households, increased crime due to fatherlessness, a general breakdown of marriage as an institution due to increased divorce, with the consequence that children are emotionally damaged, and carry that damage to their own marriages, which often fall apart.  These consequences have been documented, not by Church, but by secular sociologists.  Almost universally, sociologists have recognized, and continue to recognize the effects that the sexual revolution (made possible by the pill) has had on the family and our  culture.

In an article in First Things entitled "The Vindication of Humanae Vitae" author Mary Eberstadt cites the writings of "maverick" sociobiologist Lionel Tiger (who clearly has no love for religion which he regards as a "toxic issue") who nevertheless maintained that (quoting Eberstadt) "female contraceptives had altered the balance between the sexes in disturbing new ways (especially by taking from men any say in whether they could have children)."  In addition, Eberstadt writes, Tiger linked contraception "to the breakdown of families, female impoverishment, trouble in the relationship between the sexes, and single motherhood... [and] further argued for a causal link between contraception and abortion, stating outright that ‘with effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever. . . . Contraception causes abortion.'"  And contraception and abortion cause demographic decline.  Though Humanae Vitae did not expressly talk of all these consequences, other Catholic texts have, to little avail.  It is not by accident that the Church's wisdom is often lost behind a smoke-screen of public ridicule and mockery.  Those who do so have a vested interest in the continuation of the anti-life agenda.

The myth of overpopulation is the driving force behind it, though if we look a little deeper, I suspect we'd find a different reason for the insistence upon "reproductive health services" so loved by the UNFPA.  Among the countries that are suffering from "successful" population control measures are Japan, South Korea, Thailand (among others) in the East, and all of Europe.  According to the Population Research Institute, "Italy and Spain are particularly badly off, but all nations of Western Europe face extinction, as do Canada and Japan….the United States, may be only two decades behind…the fertility rates of Italy and Spain hover slightly above 1 child per woman."  The Western nations, PRI reports, are committing national suicide. 

One region of Russia has found a unique and playful solution to the problem.  Many may recall the reports of a region of Russia called Ulyanovsk sponsoring a "Day of Conception" aka "Procreation Day, giving couples time off to procreate, and awarding them prizes if their child is born during the June 12 festivities associated with Russia's national day.   Russia is one of the largest regions in the world, but with a population of less than 150 million people, and falling quickly.  Former Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the demographic crisis is the most acute problem facing Russia, and his country has begun to address the problem, offering cash incentives to couples to have more children.  Ulyanovsk's governor decided to make a fun, patriotic event out of it, and ran a contest, which has been repeated each year and has been quite successful, producing more children each year as more sign up for the competition. 

Russia's problems can be traced to its Communist years, when government policies encouraged women to work outside the home and have abortions (is that what they meant by a "worker's paradise"?).  Women had so many abortions that a subsantiall number of them became sterile, further damaging the demographic make-up of the country.  Communist Russia aggressively tried to stamp out the practice of faith, and still does not concede that the effort to abolish faith had anything to do with the decline in a pro-life attitude that belief in God inspires .  Currently, an estimated 10 million women are sterile due to abortions that damaged their reproductive organs. Currently, 1 in 10 women are sterile.  In a country that already had a disproportionately small population, this has been disastrous.  Russia is losing, according to one LA Times article, about 700,000 people per year since the collapse of the Soviet Union—the equivalent of a city the size of San Francisco.

Catholic teaching as solution to our decline

The Catholic Church is a two-thousand year old institution.  It can't have been around so long without learning a thing or two about human nature and dynamics.  We are mired in a cultural mess that can literally be traced back to the dawn of the pill, that seed of death that has spawned so much misery.  The Catholic Church was right about the pill, when everyone else was wrong.  Is there a lesson we can take from this?  As we face a mounting problem in the West, and as we face the genuine possibility that our newly elected President will sign legislation which will further aggravate America's own decline, threatening the survival of our nation with policies proven disastrous to Russia, the West and the Far East, with the specter of complete collapse of our civilization not out of the question, might we turn once more to the Catholic Church for answers to our social and moral dilemma?   Catholic social teaching can lead us out of this mess, if we have the humility to turn once more to the Church our leaders around the world have so cynically rejected. ESR

Alisa Craddock is a columnist and activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian.  She may be contacted at alisa.craddock@hushmail.com.


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