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Elizabeth Schiavone's op-ed column on the Catholic Church and contraception: A Heart Changed.

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Date published: 2/24/2013

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I have many friends who are concerned with being healthy. They are vegetarians, which I also was for seven years until I delivered the first set of twins. These individuals have been fans of herbal remedies, restricting cigarette smoking, hybrid or electric vehicles, and limiting the size of sodas at fast-food restaurants. It is all about the environment, being green. At the same time, many would use the birth control pill, which is filled--and I mean filled--with chemicals, none of which are natural. Seems contradictory, does it not?

In the early 1960s, the rate of out-of-wedlock births was 6 percent. The current rate has increased to 41 percent. This does not include the pregnancies that end in abortion, just the live births. The pill was supposed to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies and provide freedom, but freedom from what? For what?

LESSONS LEARNED

Not long ago, '60s and '70s actress Raquel Welch, while claiming upsides to the pill, blamed it for eroding the institution of marriage. "I'm ashamed to admit I myself have been married four times," she wrote. "And yet I still feel that marriage is the cornerstone of civilization and an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides sanctuary for children, and saves us from anarchy.

"The pill has erased our social inhibitions," she continued. "Choosing a sexual partner used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner. But caution and thoughtfulness have disappeared from our decision making process. Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it is pretty bad. [I]t's precisely because of the sexy image I've had that it's important for me to speak up and say, 'We are capable of much better.'"

She is right; women deserve better than the pill. When so many are into natural everything, why not family planning the natural way? The Catholic Church never withheld this information from us, but secular medicine and society have.

Natural Family Planning is a safe way to manage and postpone pregnancy and fertility through monitoring physical signs of fertility and is in complete accordance with the Catholic Church. While it is mostly used for fertility management and pregnancy avoidance, it is also successfully used in managing infertility and difficult pregnancies. Most importantly, NFP's purpose, unlike artificial forms of birth control, is to promote a strong relationship between the unitive and procreative aspects of sex, and strengthen marriages.

Women and families deserve better. There is healthier and loving way to live the life God made us for. And the pill is not part of it.


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A HEART CHANGED: THE GIFT OF FAMILY AND PARENTHOOD

Elizabeth "Liz" Schiavone is president of the Arlington Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She is a resident of Herndon.