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

STORY: Since 1997, 4 high school clinics in a certain city with about 1 million population began offering birth control injections which require 1 injection every 13 weeks. The reason is that there were almost 1000 teen pregnancies and 500 abortions in a year in that city. Do you know what city it is? >>> Ottawa.

In Maryland, a school board voted to delete from their sex education material a phrase that says abstinence is the “appropriate behavior before marriage.” This is not a unique incident. Many “sex educators” object to the teaching of abstinence.

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: “...each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.” Their rationale is: When a couple uses birth control, they say to God “we will try to frustrate Your will [through contraception] to create a child.” Therefore contraception is not acceptable.

·         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%. The rationale for its use is that NFP cooperates with the human reproductive system as God designed it, whereas contraception conflicts with it.

·         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 as this is the only full-proof birth control method. They should be told about the likely disastrous consequences of fornication.

Risks faced by sexually-active youth

* Pregnancies: 20% of sexually-active teen girls in the US gets pregnant.

* Diseases: 25% of sexually active American teens has a sexually-transmitted disease, including AIDS.

* Depression: 25% of teenage girls who are sexually active say that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time, compared to 8% for girls not sexually active [8% and 3% for boys]. 14% of sexually active girls say that they have attempted suicide; 5% for not sexually active girls [6% and 0.7% for boys].

* Unhealthy babies: Pregnant women under age 17 have higher medical risks than adult women. They are twice more likely to give birth to low-weight babies and their newborns are three times more likely to die.

* Regret: Most teens who have been sexually active regret doing so. 93% of teens feel that teens should be given a strong message that abstinence is the best choice.

21.  Are all kinds of contraception acceptable for Christians?

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

Primitive contraception

Not included here are primitive methods of birth control because of their high failure rate of over 70%.

(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: (4 examples)

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

o        RU-486

o        Norplant acts as an arbotifacient in 90% of the users.

o        Depo-Provera 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. In many of these countries, the annual population growth is 2% (from a birth rate of 3.5% and a death rate of 1.5%) which will double the population every 35 years.

b.   However, there are many positive long-range benefits of population growth. For example, in a few decades, China will have the highest GDP in the world. This is partly because of the large population (1.2 billion, 20% of the world) which provides a large labour force and a huge market.

c.   The world has enough land, water, and technology to meet food demands for everyone in the world for the foreseeable future. The shortage of food in the developing countries are more often due to political reasons, including inefficient food distribution or political interference, e.g. food from relief agencies stopped by the Muslim government from reaching Christians in southern Sudan.

d.   The risk caused by overpopulation is decreasing. Seventy countries representing more than half the world’s population will have below replacement rate fertility, which is defined as 2.1 children per woman. According to United Nations projections, the population of the world will peak at seven-plus billion about AD2040, and then begin to decline. In Canada, the fertility is presently 1.5, far below replacement [2.0 in the US].

e.   In Africa, wars and AIDS have increased the death rate and 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 (including huge fines for extra children who are stripped of the right to receive schooling, social and health benefits). The policy has created serious social problems include widespread single child syndrome (children are often spoiled and selfish and have poor relational techniques), gender imbalance, and prostitution.

g.   If there is still a need to control the population in poor countries, encouraging birth control should only be regarded as a short term measure, until the problems are lifted.

23.  Is eugenics moral?

a.   Eugenics is the science aiming at the production of fine children in the human race. The name came from two Greek words meaning “born well”.

(1)  Positive Eugenics -- the preferential breeding of so-called superior individuals in order to improve the genetic stock of the human race.

(2)  Negative Eugenics -- discouragement or the legal prohibition of reproduction of individuals carrying genes leading to disease or disability or simply low intelligence, described as “sub-normal” persons. It can be achieved by prohibition of marriage, termination of pregnancy, or sterilization, either voluntary or enforced.

b.   It was practised by the Nazis (Hitler) who first forcibly sterilized mentally handicapped people. Later, the Nazis killed 250,000 adults and children who suffered from some physical or mental defect. Hitler then attempted genocide of the Jews when he compared Jews to “a plague worse than the Black Death”.

c.   Today, in China and India, some people are being forced into sterilization in the name of eugenics.

d.   In North America, Planned Parenthood specifically targets poor and “near poor” women for sterilizations and abortions.

e.   Joseph Fletcher, author of situation ethics, even proposed that scientists try to create a species of half-animal, half-human creatures that would be expendable and could become living organ banks for the human race.

f.    Recently, the multi-million dollar Gnome Project (mapping human genetic makeup) has the potential to be used as a powerful tool for eugenicists to determine superior genes.

g.   Eugenicists’ view of man:

(1)  Man is just another animal to be bred and improved.

(2)  More intelligent persons worth more than less intelligent persons. The degree of intelligence is to be indicated by wealth, income or education, or particular racial or ethnic makeup. Those “more worthy” individuals are targetted for positive eugenics and are encouraged to reproduce.

(3)  Those “less worthy” individuals are dehumanized and targetted for negative eugenics.

h.   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.