[4]        Birth (2): Birth Control & Eugenics

Background:

In 1970, 29% of girls aged 15 to 19 in the US had sexual intercourse; but increased to 50% in 1995 [55% for boys]. 75% used contraception the first time they had sex. In 1996, 9.9% of girls 15-19 had pregnancies and 5.5% gave birth. The situation is better in 2001 when 54% of teenagers said they never had sex, increased 11% in the last decade, mainly because of abstinence education. Teenagers with average IQ of around 100 are 5-10 times more likely to have had sex than those with high IQ of over 120.

Those teenagers in grades 7 to 9 who did not receive abstinence programs had a 16% sexual initiation rate each year; compared to 9% for those who had one year of the program and 4% for those who had two years of the program.

In Canada, in 1974, 5.4% of girls aged 15 to 19 became pregnant; 4.4% in 1994.

20.  Can Christians practise birth control?

a.   Birth control or contraception refers to active steps taken to prevent conception.

b.   Biblical viewpoints to be considered in birth control:

·         God’s commands man to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28).

·         Children are regarded as a heritage from God (Ps 127:3).

o        Based on these 2 verses, birth control is contrary to the Biblical viewpoint.

·         However, there is no uniform position in the Bible as 1Co 7:1,7-8 encourages celibacy.

·         Conclusion: the Bible does not consistently encourage maximum fertility.

c.   Problems with contraception:

·         The main problem is that contraception may lead to fornication (sexual relations outside marriage) and sexual promiscuity (with many sexual partners). Example: the sexual revolution in the 1960s was fuelled by the wide availability of the birth control pill.

d.   The Roman Catholic Church officially opposes to all birth control methods except one:

·         They believe that sexual activity must be for procreation.

·         The only method allowed is rhythm method or “Natural Family Planning”, that is, by abstinence during the fertile periods through monitoring of body temperature and ovulation. They claim that the failure rate is less than 5%.

·         However, the main problem is the requirement of periodic abstinence for 15 days each menstrual cycle. Further, since the objective is similar, the rationalization of NFP is not too convincing.

e.   Most Protestants allow the use of contraception but only within marriage. The objective is to achieve “responsible parenthood” because it is a personal decision and responsibility of the husband and the wife to determine when and whether to have children.

f.    Young unmarried people should be advised to be abstinent (the only full-proof birth control method) and told about disastrous consequences of fornication (pregnancy, diseases, etc.).

21.  Are all kinds of contraception acceptable for Christians?

a.   Other than NFP, there are 4 main ways to prevent conception:

(1)  Barrier methods:

o        The method prevent fertilization by separating the sperms from the eggs or by killing the sperms.

o        A barrier can be put up with male and female condom, diaphragm, vaginal sponge, cervical cap.

o        Sperms can be killed by spermicidal foams, gels, creams.

o        The failure rate ranges from 14% to 40% (14% means that if 100 women use certain contraceptive for one year, 14 would get pregnant).

(2)  Hormonal contraceptives:

The birth control pill (to be taken almost everyday) is used to suppress ovulation so that there is no egg to be fertilized. The main problem is improper application. In US, there are 630,000 pregnancies a year while using the pill. However, with proper use, the failure rate is close to 0%.

Depo-Provera has the same effect except it requires injection once every 3 months.

Norplant is a sustained-release contraceptive system implanted under the skin, 6 inches above the elbow; it acts continuously for 5 years.

RU-486 or the abortion pill was invented in France. It causes abortion of the embryo and is effective even after implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

(3)  Intrauterine devices (IUDs):

The method involves inserting a device into the uterus. The effect is to prevent implantation of an already fertilized embryo.

(4)  Sterilization:

Female sterilization is permanent while male sterilization can be reversed with a 30-50% success rate.

b.   Factors to consider:

·         Contraceptions that prevent the formation of the embryo (by separating sperms from the egg) are acceptable, again, only within marriage.

·         Contraceptions that prevent fertilized embryo to implant in the uterus can be described as “arbotifacients” -- achieving birth control through early abortion. This is in effect equivalent to abortion and is therefore a killing of life. The use of these methods is immoral, including:

o        IUD; RU-486; Norplant which acts as an arbotifacient in 90% of the users; Depo-Provera which acts as an arbotifacient in 40% of the users.

·         Users of IUD, RU-486, Norplant, and Depo-Provera face serious health risk including infection, hemorrhaging, inflammation, irregular menstrual periods and other side effects.

·         Birth control by sterilization is mostly irreversible and should be done only after careful consideration. Its use probably requires a good health reason.

22.  Should birth control be encouraged as a means of population control in developing countries?

a.   Some people promote wider use of birth control in developing countries in order to reduce the pressure from fast population growth and the shortage of food.

b.   However, there are many positive long-range benefits of population growth.

c.   The world has enough land, water, and technology to meet food demands for everyone in the world. The shortage of food in the developing countries are more often due to political reasons.

d.   The risk caused by overpopulation is decreasing. According to projections, the population of the world will peak at seven-plus billion about AD2040, and then begin to decline.

e.   In Africa, because of wars and AIDS, population problems are presently not as pressing.

f.    In China, the government uses immoral forced abortions and economic incentives to push its “one child” policy. The policy has created serious social problems.

g.   If there is a need to control the population, birth control should only be a short term measure.

23.  Is eugenics moral?

·         Eugenics is the science aiming at the production of fine children in the human race.

o        Positive Eugenics -- the preferential breeding to improve the genetic stock of the human race.

o        Negative Eugenics -- discouragement or prohibition of reproduction of individuals carrying genes leading to disease or disability or simply low intelligence, described as “sub-normal” persons.

·         It was practised by the Nazis (Hitler) who first forcibly sterilized mentally handicapped people, and later killed 250,000 people with defects. Hitler then attempted genocide of the Jews.

·         Eugenicists’ view of man:

o        Man is just another animal to be bred and improved.

o        Those “more worthy” individuals are targetted for positive eugenics and encouraged to reproduce.

o        Those “less worthy” individuals are dehumanized and targetted for negative eugenics.

·         God’s view of man is that each person is created in the image of God; each person is equally valuable, worthy of the sacrifice of Christ. Viewing some persons or a group of persons as more valuable and more superior than others is opposite to God’s view and is immoral.