Marriage Before and After the Ceremony

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1: SEXUAL ATTRACTION AND REPULSION

2: MATE SELECTION

3: LOVE

4: MARRIAGE

5: FAMILY PLANNING

6: CHILDREN

 

Marriage Before and After the Ceremony

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Family Planning

Family Planning

How many children you have should be no one's business but yours. Yet the government interferes both federally and through state laws on preventing any proper form methods of birth control. The result is not that we have more children than other countries but that we have more venereal disease. For the two go close together, even today in the age of the pill.

Whether you should have a large or small family or none at all is your business. But I have learned that only few women are happy unless they have
children and that most families remain unstable unless they have children and that most families remain unstable unless there are two children or more. This is true, however, only where children are welcome, where the family budget can afford them. It also depends largely on the maturity of the wife and husband. As I have said, many of us marry too young to have a proper perspective on your kids. Age as such, has, of course, very little to do with maturity. Some people are wise at eighteen, others remain immature till they die.

So when should you start a family? How large should it be? All I can say is that you had better decide about that growing old together, and that you'd better give it a lot of thought. Putting your thoughts into action will ordinarily call for some form of contraceptive. I make myself guilty and can be prosecuted under various state laws.

The Need for Birth Control

The purpose for birth control, as I understand the term, is to strengthen any given marriage, and through it to fortify the whole human race, by bringing only children into the world who are wanted. More than half of the children born each year in the United States, and considerably more than half of those born in the more backward regions of the world, are unwanted. They are the fruit of an accident, or sometimes of a positive aversion to childbirth. We do not know the number of attempted abortions, but certain signs can often tell an experienced obstetrician or gynaecologist that a child has been tampered with prior to birth. I believe that the incidence of these attempts to interfere with the foetus are far higher than the guesses I have ever seen published.

Unwanted children all too frequently grow up as neurotics. If they are born to unmarried parents, their life is diminished by the absence of a father or mother. Nothing you can do for them, however hard you try, can ever make up for this loss. They rarely become fully balanced adults.

If their parents are married but get divorced afterwards, which is often the result of the discovery that the child was extramaritally conceived, the results are hardly less dangerous.

If they are martially conceived but are unwanted, because the parents can't afford them, or because they can't cope with them, or because they don't love each other any more, the psychological damage is hardly smaller than in the first two cases.

Taking all in all, we can say without exaggeration, that the largest single reservoir of crime, delinquency, instability, neurosis, and perversion that a nation creates for itself is that created by the ban on contraception. That is how social misfits are born. By continuing to forbid complete knowledge and active encouragement of contraception, we deliberately breed the cancer that eats up our society. A more short- sighted form of legislation is hardly conceivable.

Yet it has long been recognized by anthropologists and sociologists alike that customs and legislation on birth control are not so much regulated by moral code as by hunger and war. Frequently, when overpopulation threatened a culture, contraception, abortion, and (in the past) even, infanticide were not only tolerated but actively encouraged. But where additional human lives were needed-in wars, for instance, or for domestic industrial expansion-the opposite took place. Birth control was sharply restricted, while measures against illegitimacy were relaxed or abandoned. Extramarital
sexual intercourse was tolerated and in some cases- in Nazi Germany, for instance-actively propagated. Illegitimate children were raised by the state. Their mothers were publicly honored. Their fathers were celebrated the way we celebrate great stud bulls.

Birth control was known and practiced by the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In England, contraceptives have been advertised since the eighteenth century. In 1877, when British morals became stricter as a result of the Franco-Prussian War and the possibility of British involvement, Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were prosecuted for selling a birth control pamphlet in London, sentenced to six months imprisonment, and fined 200. But the verdict was quashed on appeal, and the publicity resulted in the foundation of the birth control movement.

In England, these birth control organizations have flourished since 1918. Local health authorities cooperate with them, make financial contributions to them, or give them rent-free premises to establish contraceptive clinics. George VI's personal physician, Lord Horder, was president of the Family Planning Association, and all governments since then have given official support to the Association. At its Silver Jubilee in 1955, the Minister of Health in the Conservative Government was guest of honor and said: "I believe that you do an admirable work." In 1949, the Royal Commission on Population recommended "that the giving of advice on contraception ...should be accepted as a duty of the National Health Service." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Fisher, went even further and proclaimed that "family planning is a positive Christian duty."

In Sweden, married couples are being given government instruction on the use of contraceptives which are being supplied free of charge. Japan runs an all-encompassing system' of birth control through her National Health Insurance, also issuing contraceptives free. In Egypt, the state pays for the issue of contraceptives to married couples. In rural districts, contraceptive
sex education is being given by traveling vans with films and slides.

All this, I think, is good. It's good even in those countries that do not suffer from overpopulation. And it is good for the simple reason that it reduces the danger of abortion. Invariably, wherever we have been able to check such figures, we have discovered that a restrictive policy on contraception causes a rise in the rate of abortion. It makes no difference whether the restriction is issued in the form of governmental legislation, or in that of instruction from the pulpit, or , simply as a result of a universally accepted moral code.

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH