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They Are Coming For Your Birth Control: Contraception Gave Us Gosnell

Robin Marty

Gosnell's case has been used for a number of anti-choice bills. But one priest is using it to suggest getting rid of birth control altogether.

Think that anti-choice politicians and activists aren’t trying to outlaw contraception? Think again. Follow along in an ongoing series that proves beyond a doubt that they really are coming for your birth control.

The murder trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell has been cited as the rationale behind a number of anti-choice bills, ranging from bills meant to close abortion clinics to those that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. Now one Catholic bishop in Nebraska has suggested that the Gosnell case shows that society needs to ban contraception.

Arguing that the Gosnell case is a result of what the church refers to as society’s “contraceptive mentality,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln writes:

[T]he link between infanticide and abortion is not the only issue raised by this case. There is also the larger question of how human life is regarded, in a culture where contraception is widespread and abortion becomes “backup birth control.” …

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The Gosnell case suggests that our society’s view of human life is deeply wrong. It suggests that a culture of contraception cannot avoid becoming a “culture of death”—in which some lives are seen not as gifts, but as burdens.

The piece does not represent Bishop Conley’s first attack on contraception. He has been one of the more outspoken opponents of the Affordable Care Act mandate to include no co-pay birth control coverage in employee insurance plans. “The Catholic Church is not going to back down,” Conley said in November. “We are never going to compromise our principles. We will defy it and face the consequences.”

Conley’s opposition to contraception appears to stem from the belief that by trying to control one’s own life, a person rejects God’s all-powerfulness. As he said in 2008, “The reality is that we belong to God. … If we are under the illusion that we are in total and absolute control of human life, when it begins and when it ends, and we think that ‘this is my life, my body, my choice,’ then there is an organic progression to abortion, euthanasia, acceptance of homosexual acts, pornography, embryonic destructive research, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse of women and a host of other social ills and moral evils.”

Now, Bishop Conley argues that a doctor who endangered women with limited options for safely ending unwanted pregnancies should be used as the impetus to block access to birth control that would help women avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

As he writes in the last line of his recent piece, “That is why we must raise awareness of this case, to help the world see the consequences of contraception and abortion.”

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