Category Archives: Critique of Birth Control

A “Kantian” Condemnation of Artificial Marital Birth Control

This post interrupts my critique of theory of the moral neutrality of sexual activity. But it is related to the critique of this theory by arguing that some sexual activity, viz., artificial marital birth control is immoral.

In a National Catholic Register article in the May 1, 2010 issue Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC, published an article “We Must Explain Why Contraception is Wrong.” Fr. Schneider made an important point for preserving our traditional Catholic moral teachings when they are being challenged from inside and outside the Church. A good way to start confronting these challenges is to offer a variety of arguments for critical evaluation and improvement during the next several months. I propose that we declare 2019 the year of Chastity during which amongst other things to strengthen our chastity we redevelop rational defenses of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Fr. Schneider offered three arguments in his article. In this post, I sketch out another which can be called:

A “Kantian” condemnation of artificial marital birth control. It is one of many which should be considered along with being reformulated in the next few months.

This is not Kantian scholarship. I rely only on the overview type of knowledge of Kant one might acquire in a survey course in ethics.

Artificial marital birth control is use of physical or chemical techniques to prevent conception during or after coitus by a married couple.

The explicit, or implicit, maxim of a married couple who use artificial birth control can be expressed as follows:

We will perform the reproductive act which we are entitled by our community to perform but for a period of our choosing we shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Now consider the Kantian “Categorical Imperative” that we ought to act only on maxims which we can consistently will to be universal laws of nature.

Generalizing such a maxim as a universal law for humans could be expessed as follows:

People shall perform the reproductive act which they are entitled to perform by their community but for a period of their choosing shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Such a generalization is inconsistent because given basic demographic principles it leaves open the possibility of the reproductive acts becoming insufficient for reproduction in the sense of reproducing a population. Current demographic facts show that this possibility is being realized.

In appraising this argument, the first question should be an examination of the Kantian Categorical Imperative and then of technical points such as my use of the logical principle that a claim C is inconsistent if C implies possibly not-C.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book, I examine the case against artificial marital birth control in Ch. VIII Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.

To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Married couples are not individuals in the courting pool?

I highly recommend Robert Reilly’s Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, Ignatius Press, 2014. Subsequent posts will likely use themes from his well written but unsettling account of how moral acceptance of homosexuality is corrupting our country. Despite my endorsement, I may seem negative by examining his suggestions that acceptance of contraception for married couples lead to “making Gay Okay.”
I refer to my Kindle edition. So, there are no page references.

About 83% of the way through his book, locations 3696-3703, Reilly traces today’s endorsement of gay-marriage back to the Anglican church’s limited acceptance of birth control at its 1930 Lambeth Conference. Reilly wrote: “Contraception used to be proscribed, then it was prescribed, and now it has become almost obligatory in the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which proposes to penalize employers who do not provide it, along with abortifacients and sterilization procedures, to their employees with fines of $100 per worker per day. I only wish there were survivors from the 1930 Lambeth Conference – which first endorsed a limited use of contraceptives- who might be forced to attend the Gay Pride events and officiate at same-sex “marriages”, so they could dwell upon what they hath wrought. Just as there is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, there is no such thing as a little compromise on moral principles…”

The relevant resolutions of the Anglican bishops in 1930 are readily available. They give a very weak and vague permission for married couples to have sexual intercourse with the intent of preventing that intercourse from resulting in conception. Visit: Look at resolutions 8 to 20 on marriage and sex; especially 15. Today they would be considered ultra-conservative. The bishops thought that sale of contraceptives such as condoms should be illegal.

In location 3693, Reilly quipped: “As mentioned before, first came contraception and the embrace of no-fault divorce. Once sex was detached from diapers, the rest became more or less inevitable.”

In locations 1496-1501, he highlighted a few steps in a line of reasoning. “The separation of sex from procreation logically leads to the legalization of contraception, then to abortion, and finally to homosexual marriage and beyond. The logic is compelling, in fact, inescapable. Only the premise is insane.”

Is the line of reasoning compelling? What are the intermediate steps? What is the first premise? Is it insane? Such careful questioning of the suggested line of reasoning is a long and difficult logical analysis most suitable for a philosophy journal. Here, I will only consider two versions of a first premise separating sex from procreation. There are many, many ways of stating principles granting moral permission to separate sex from procreation.
The first version is a “strong” premise. This strong first premise plausibly leads to all else which Reilly mentions. Then I will express a weak version of separating sex from procreation which does not, without some special assumptions about the moral significance of marriage, directly lead to the moral permissibility of all the sexual activity to which Reilly alludes.
The strong moral separability of sex from procreation specifies:
Whether or not the pursuit of sexual satisfaction can lead to conception is irrelevant to the moral evaluation of that pursuit of sexual satisfaction.

This strong version is basically the progressive stance on sexuality which is the main target of my book. The stance is that pursuit of sexual satisfaction is to be evaluated by general rules for protection of life and property. Roughly: It’s OK as long as it does not hurt anyone. It legitimatizes sex outside of marriage, masturbation, homosexuality and sex with animals for those so inclined. Abortion requires a few more assumptions to be justified because, after all, a human at some stage of human life is killed. The progressive stance is the dominant stance in our culture.

I argue against the progressive stance by pointing out how its trivialization of sex by separating sex from procreation leads to a view that human life is insignificant, viz., nihilism. Is holding a nihilist outlook, even implicitly, insane?
The weak premise applies to married couples. I regard marriage as between one man and one woman in a union paradigmatically for the procreation and development of children. The weak premise is my restatement of the 1930 Lambeth Resolution.

The weak moral separability of marital sex from procreation specifies:
On occasion for reasons of health or finances, a married couple may pursue sexual satisfaction with each other although they take steps to insure that the satisfaction cannot, or is very unlikely, to lead to conception.
Here by “take steps” I refer to mechanical or chemical intervention to reduce significantly the probability of coitus resulting in fertilization. I call these interventions “artificial birth control.” Withdrawal, use of a condom or intrauterine shield are mechanical means. A sterilization operation is not a type of mechanical method under consideration here. Various birth control pills which are not abortifacients are chemical means for this discussion.

Logic alone does not extend a permission granted to a subset of the population to the whole population. Indeed thinking that logic extends such a permission is to commit a fallacy of composition.I.e., thinking what is true of a part is true of the whole. Of course, sometimes what is true of a part is true of the whole. Is a married couple a subpopulation which has special moral privileges? This question, provoked by Reilly leads me to reconsider the birth control issue. So, the permissiveness in the general population do not follow by logic alone from permissibility of separating occasionally mating, coitus, from possibility of conception amongst married couples.

What should be said about the morality of a married couple practicing artificial birth control? In Confronting Sexual Nihilism my Chapter VIII focused on the issue. , I raise a consideration that leads me to continue to give the birth control issue careful scrutiny. The consideration is that a married couple forms a special unit in the human pool for courting, mating and bonding. Maybe the stance of the book was somewhat inaccurate because it did not take seriously enough that a married couple has special sexual moral obligations and privileges which they do not have as individuals.

The principle of sexual morality for which I argued in Confronting Sexual Nihilism is far from a complete sexual morality. It is only a principle restricting males’ pursuit of orgasms, viz., sperm dispersal. It restricted a man to seeking orgasms only in a sexual act which could lead to conception with a women to whom he was bound by a life-long commitment to care for her and any children resulting from his acts. I called the restriction: The Paternal Principle. There is much more to sexual morality than the Paternal Principle. For instance, there are proper ways to court and bond. And, of course, there is the whole realm of principles for female sexuality.

In my book I regarded the courting pool as the sexually mature individuals who courted, bonded and mated i.e., had sexual intercourse. I regarded all men and women as in the courting pool and sexual morality as the rules for people in the courting pool. I did not pay attention to status differences within the pool. Marriage gives a man and a woman special status in the courting pool. They have the privilege of sexual intercourse with one another. They have the privilege of others being severely restricted from courting, bonding or mating with them. But they are severely restricted from courting or bonding with others. They are strictly forbidden to mate with others.

Do these pairs form units for which there are some special moral obligations and privileges apart from those for individuals? There are external rules for the pairs in relationship to other pairs and individuals. For instance, as noted above, they are morally protected from outsiders seriously courting them; let alone mating with them. There could be internal sexual rules for the married individuals with their marriage which they would not have as individuals. For instance, it might be sexually immoral for a married man to abstain from sexual relations with his wife for a long period for some religious reasons. Internal marital morality, conjugal chastity, is of concern for discussion of birth control.

The gist of my argument that artificial birth control is immoral for a married couple is that the practice subverts the foundation of their marriage. Marriage has it special privileges and obligations because it is the institution for using coitus for reproduction. Separating coitus from reproduction undermines that foundation as I argue in Ch. VIII of my book.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.

To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Prince Albert and The Paternal Principle

In the September 25, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books, the British writer, Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews a biography of Edward VII: The Heir Apparent, A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince, Jane Ridley, Random House, 2014. The review is titled “The Hedonist King Who Knew His Place.” Wheatcroft writes with sophisticated amusement of Bertie’s (Albert Edward’s) sexual promiscuity during his many years as Prince of Wales. This sophisticated acceptance of male promiscuity as perhaps naughty, but not really immoral, is the main critical target of my book. In this post, though, I want to examine a reprimand Bertie’s father, Prince Albert, sent when learning of Bertie’s losing his “virginity” while serving a brief period with the army. I want to point out how a holder of the paternal principle would find the reprimand and find the straightforward language appropriate. What is the reprimand? I quote from Wheatcroft’s review and place the reprimand in bold italic type. For comparison purposes, I repeat the Paternal Principle from my book.

“Some of the younger officers had sportingly smuggled” Nellie Clifton “a superior tart” “into a hut in the camp, where she introduced Bertie to the joys of sex. Lord Tarrington, a lord-in waiting to Queen Victoria, maliciously repeated the rumors to Albert with devastating effect. Victoria never forgot”… “in a letter of terrible reproach Albert told Bertie how shameful it was

to thrust yourself into the hands of one of the most abject of the human species, to be by her initiated in the sacred mysteries of creation, which ought to remain shrouded in holy awe until touched by pure & undefiled hands.

It’s hard to imagine such a letter written by a father to a son in 1961, or 1761 for that matter and even at that time”…

Prince Albert died at age 42 shortly after reprimanding Bertie. Queen Victoria felt that Bertie’s sexual misconduct was a factor in Albert’s death.

Statement of The Paternal Principle,

A male may intentionally attain a sexual climax only in sexual intercourse with a consenting woman to whom he is bound by a life-long monogamous socially recognized union for procreation, In addition he should:(1) intend to cooperate with his spouse to protect and promote the lifelong natural development of any conception resulting from this intercourse and (2) strive to appreciate with his spouse the natural value of their sexual satisfactions and cooperate with her to enhance those satisfactions.

A holder of the Paternal Principle cannot quarrel with the thought expressed in Prince Albert’s reprimand. I can imagine fathers who belong to an organization such as the Knights of Columbus writing such a reprimand and imagine many more at least thinking that they should reprimand their sons in this way if they heard of them having sex with a prostitute or even having one-night stands. I can imagine many men reflecting with shame, expressible in similar words on some of their early sexual experiences. Of course, as their sons grow older and are not being “initiated” into these “sacred mysteries” fathers may conclude that it is not worthwhile reprimanding their sons. They ignore these immoralities with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy familiar to many of us who hold the Paternal Principle and realize when reprimands are ineffective in controlling the behavior of others. However, when reflecting on our own behaviors where we control how we act such sharp reprimands are always in place when we violate the Paternal Principle. Realization that we should be subject to such a reprimand is a helpful thought for fighting off temptations to violate the Paternal Principle. Prince Albert’s reprimand could be slightly rephrased to reprimand masturbation or homosexual activity.

I cannot say that a man should be so sensitive that he “falls apart” if he learns that his son has violated the Principle or realizes that he has violated the Paternal Principle. I can say that a man should not be so sensitive to “sophisticated opinions” that scorn the Paternal Principle that he is afraid to express publicly and privately in judging himself the strong judgment of Prince Albert’s reprimand. In this case, Prince Albert got it right.

However, what about the case of a married couple practicing birth control?

In Wheatcroft’s review we also read about birth control.”Not the least important of the many social changes during the queen’s very long reign was that, as natality statistics plainly show, by the 1890s the higher classes im England were practicing birth control by one means or another. That had not been so in the 1840s, but if any woman would ever have been grateful for the Pill it was Victoria, who hated pregnancy and childbirth as much as she relished passionate nights with Albert. Sad to say she took it out on her chihldren.” She had nine children

So, this post leads into a series of posts on the morality of artificial birth control.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.

To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

HHS Mandate as a War on Women

The topic of this post is relevant to my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism. In the book, I argue that a practice of birth control subverts the foundations for traditional sexual morality. In the book, I adapt a Kantian morality that people are never to causually manipulate their humanity as means for some other ends. A woman’s femininity is an aspect of her humanity.

In August 2013, the AMA declared a war on obesity by classifying obesity as a disease. The enemy is the physical condition of obesity. The weapons of the war are medical care. Similarly provision of birth control medications and treatments, especially as mandated by HHS to implement the Affordable Care Act, is deployment of weapons in a war on a physical condition. The condition under attack is the capability of becoming pregnant through sexual intercourse: fertility. One significant difference between fertility and obesity is the impossibility of separating fertility from the people who have this condition, namely women. Another significant difference is that fertility is not an unhealthy condition So, a war on fertility is de facto a war on being a healthy young woman.

Unfortunately economic conditions and current permissive sexual morality outlooks recruit the majority of the soldiers in the war on women from women. This is a civil war amongst women; not primarily a war by middle aged Republican white men on women. Women are tempted to separate themselves from the condition of being a woman and to choose to manipulate their being a woman as a means for ends set by the economy and a permissive sexual morality. That is a more tempting choice than accepting being a woman as an end in itself which is controlled by free choice and is not manipulated by pharmecutical or surgical means for other ends.

Of course, pregnancy management is important.However, there are at least two ways of managing pregnancy. One way is to respect women by respecting their fertility which is crucial to being a woman and leaving them the choice to have sexual intercourse when appropriate. A second way is to regard their fertility as a medical condition needing preventive treatment and ignoring their capability of choosing when to have sexual intercourse. The second way offers women the opportunity to choose when to be a woman and leaves her in the meantime less than a woman. From the erspective of the second way,being a woman is a condition which for the most part is an unhealthy condition but on occasion can be put on and used. The first way does not try to impede the condition of being a woman but expects women to use their moral capabilities of when to have sexual intercourse.

Ultimately opposition to mechanical and chemical birth control is not based on the Bible or Catholic doctrine. It is based on respect for the dignity of women. They are not to be made “boy toys” by themselves or anyone else.