Sometimes the Church and the World both recognize the same underlying truths, even if they radically disagree over how to respond to that truth.
The Orthodox Church and the Supreme Court both agree that there is a direct link between birth control and abortion. The Church has condemned both, while the Supreme Court has legalized both. But on the underlying principle they are both agreed: Contraception and abortion are essentially the same thing. It would be unreasonable to allow one, without also allowing the other.
For two millenia, the Church has taught that birth control and abortion are essentially the same thing. If one should be allowed, then both should be allowed. If one should be prohibited, then both should be prohibited. And the consensus of the Fathers has always been clear: contraception and abortion are both strongly prohibited.
For nineteen hundred years, it was not only Orthodox and Catholics who prohibited birth control. Until 1930, even the Protestant denominations were in agreement. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans and others agreed that birth control is forbidden.
Even the secular government prohibited birth control.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was illegal to import birth control into the USA.
It was also forbidden to send any contraceptives through the U.S. mail.
These laws were known as the Comstock Laws.
In 1918, Judge Frederick E. Crane of the New York Court of Appeals ruled that doctors could legally prescribe birth control products. Still, it was illegal to import contraceptive devices from abroad, or to mail them over state lines. Then, in the 1936 case of United States v. One Package, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that medical doctors could import birth control devices, to be prescribed in special cases where doctors believed pregnancy would constitute an undue health risk.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States Supreme Court opened the floodgates. First, they legalized birth control across the board. Then they noted that legalization of birth control makes it logically necessary to legalize abortion as well. Consider these three Supreme Court cases:
- Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) – The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects a right to privacy, and that married persons should therefore be allowed to purchase and use birth control.
- Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) – The Supreme Court extended the “right” of contraception to unmarried persons.
- Roe v. Wade (1973) – In this case, the Supreme Court cited Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird. The Court ruled that a right to contraception gives one a right to abortion. If the “right to privacy” guarantees the legalization of birth control, then it also guarantees the legalization of abortion.
Their underlying assumption is that a fertilized human egg cell–a zygote–is not always a blessing. They believe that a child is sometimes a curse rather than a blessing.
In response to that faulty assumption, the Supreme Court approved two methods:
- Avoid the curse by keeping the egg from being fertilized. (Contraception)
- Avoid the curse by killing the egg after it has been fertilized. (Abortion)
In both cases, the parents think about a zygote–a real human being–and they think to themselves something like this, “You are a curse, not a blessing. I do not want you to exist.” Such thoughts are indistinguishable from hatred.
And according to Jesus, hatred is equivalent to murder.
To be a murderer, there does not have to be any actual bloodshed. A person only has to think in his heart, “I wish that person did not exist”, and the seeds of murder have been planted. To wish someone into nonexistence, is to say, “I would kill them if I could.”
Imagine that your next door neighbor hates you. He believes that you are a curse, and he tells you so. He wishes that you did not exist. He says he would kill you if he could. Obviously, such a person is a murderer at heart.
Now suppose your neighbor discovered a real time-machine. He informs you that he doesn’t want to stab you with a knife or shoot you with a gun, because that would be too messy. He doesn’t want to shed any blood. He merely wants to go back in time, and keep your parents apart from each other, just long enough to make sure that you are never born in the first place.
There. Now don’t you feel a whole lot better about your neighbor?
Of course not. He is still a murderer at heart. He has you in mind, and he wants to erase your existence. It does not matter whether he wants to erase it by bloodshed after you are conceived, or whether he wants to erase it by keeping you from being conceived. Either way, he hates you. Either way, he treats you as a curse. Either way, he is a murderer at heart.
The early Church equated birth control with murder. St. John Chrysostom called it “murder before conception”. For more information about the early Church’s teaching on contraception, read this article: Murder Before Conception
Is every child a blessing?
If yes, then birth control and abortion are both a rejection of God’s blessings.
But if every child is not a blessing, then they are not a blessing, regardless of whether they have already been conceived or not. If some children would indeed be a “curse” if born, then it would be difficult to blame the abortionist any more than the birth control specialist.