March 7, 2012 // Local

Contraception, abortion, and the battle for the heart of the woman

Guest editorial by Father Mark Gurtner

On Saturday, Feb. 25, a political cartoon was featured in the Journal Gazette, which showed a husband holding a newspaper, which said “Santorum: America is at War with Satan” and the husband says to his wife, “Yes, and apparently the front line is your uterus.” While crass in its wording, I could not help but think that there was an ironic truth expressed.

In many ways, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ‘70s was built on a premise of giving new freedom to women. Childbearing came to be seen as a kind of shackle, especially keeping women from pursuing the same sorts of career opportunities that men seemed to have.

The solution that the culture offered to women, the savior meant to liberate women from the shackles, which childbearing perceivably imposed on them, was contraception and abortion. No more would women be enslaved by their biology. They were now free to control their lives without unwanted pregnancy getting in the way.

Some years later, after the use of contraception and abortion became mainstays of our culture, Pope John Paul II asked an important question, “These things which were meant to liberate women, have they liberated her? Or have they not rather made her a slave?” (to the bishops of the Midwest, “ad limina” visit, 1987). What did the pope mean by this?

I would offer these thoughts. In marriage, contraception has a way of divorcing sex from love. When sexual relations between spouses loses part of its full power, that is, the ability to procreate, what is also lost is the power to communicate “I love you, and I give my whole self to you.” When this happens, rather than a spouse who is embraced and loved as the person that she is, more and more the woman becomes simply the object of sexual pleasure for the man. By God’s design, women are especially sensitive and perceptive to this reality. A woman intuitively knows when she is being used. So the use of contraception in marriage has not liberated the woman, but rather leads her to enslavement, leads her to being an object to be used, even by her husband.

This enslavement becomes an even starker reality when abortion becomes involved. Again, touted as a liberator of women when faced with an unwanted pregnancy, in reality it rips at her motherly heart, enslaving her in a reality of regret and sorrow at her lost child. Abortion’s ready availability also only expands the ways in which the woman can become enslaved by men as access to abortion makes it even easier for men to use women without the thought of any consequences.

Indeed, Pope John Paul’s question has become as poignant today as ever: has the woman really become liberated or has she not rather become enslaved?

It is not hard to see the hand of Satan behind this, tempting women with the promise of freedom when in reality she is being offered enslavement. And Satan knows what he is doing. To enslave the culture of our age, it is enough to enslave the woman. Pope John Paul II also pointed out that the culture flows through the heart of the woman so important is the role of the woman in family life, in raising children, in society in general (see “On the Dignity of Women,” No. 30). If the woman is enslaved, the result is death, death of the culture, death of marriage, death of true love, the death of life itself.

Satan is on the attack in our age, and the battle line is indeed the heart of the woman.

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