The following is an excerpt from Margaret Antonio's recent speech in the Rhode Island Right to Life Oratory Contest.
Earlier this year, I went to the doctor’s office for my yearly physical. I was sitting on the examination table, waiting for my doctor to come in, when instead, a college student, who identified herself as an intern, came in and started asking me questions. With her clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, it was obvious that she was trying to pry some information from me:
“So, do you have a boyfriend?” “Are you in a relationship?”
I curtly replied, “No, I’m not into any of that,” knowing that she was trying to ask me if I was sexually active.
Surprisingly, she said to me, “Well, that’s good. You shouldn’t waste your time with all that in high school.” Wow, I thought to myself, maybe she has some sense, some moral values! Then, she said, “Yeah, just wait. The real fun comes when you’re in college.”
I recalled this experience while staring at a blank Word document on my computer screen as I racked by brain for a topic for the upcoming RI Right-to-Life Oratory Contest. It’s amazing to think about how far our culture has come. In1971, American’s hear the famous “1st toilet flush” on TV when All in the Family premiered on CBS. Today, far more suggestive things than toilet flushes have become permissible in the media and society. In fact, just about every popular TV show is not merely “suggestive” but “explicit” in its display of sexual content. That is not to say that we should return to the days when toilet flushes were banned from public ears, but merely to rethink about what is permissible in society today.
BELOW IS THE ENTIRE SPEECH:
Contraceptives are undermining the dignity of life
Rhode Island Right to Life Oratory Contest
Earlier this year, I went to the doctor’s office for my yearly physical. I was sitting on the examination table, waiting for my doctor to come in, when instead, a college student, who identified herself as an intern, came in and started asking me questions. With a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, it was obvious that she was trying to pry some information from me: “So, do you have a boyfriend? Are you in a relationship?” I curtly replied, “No, I’m not into any of that,” knowing that she was trying to ask me if I was sexually active. Surprisingly, she said to me, “Well, that’s good. You shouldn’t waste your time with all that in high school.” “Wow,” I thought to myself, “maybe she has some sense, some moral values!” Then, she said, “Yeah, just wait. The real fun comes when you’re in college.”
This experience prompted me to think about how sex with contraceptives has become a norm amongst my peers. It’s increasingly prominent in social, government, and health issues. First of all, let’s look at what are contraceptives and then, why contraception is important. Contraception is the intentional prevention of fertilization as by special devices or drugs: condoms, patches, pills, and other devices. It comes from the Latin, contra, meaning against, and conceptio, meaning conceiving. So, in essence, contraception is “against conception.” Contraception is an important issue to us because, as advocates of life, we strive to defend life from conception to natural death. Contraception is “against conception,” the moment when life begins; it undermines the dignity of life in its very beginning. To get a bigger picture of how contraception affects us, it is important to review the role contraception has assumed in society today, what contraception is doing to society, and lastly our role in changing this.
First of all, where does contraception fit in the picture of modern society? By assuming such a prominent role, contraception has become underhandedly integrated as a normal part of everyday life. It is 1) highly promoted by the mainstream and the government and 2) portrayed as an attempted solution to a problem.
Why do the government and the mainstream promote contraceptives in today’s society? They see it as the only sure way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This mentality is primarily transmitted to teenagers. It’s true that the US has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world. Statistics show that by their 19th birthday, seven in 10 female and male teens have had intercourse. No one wants teen pregnancy to become a norm, so the “solution” has become making contraception the norm. A pamphlet I read from the National Campaign to prevent Unwanted and Teen Pregnancy site listed ways to prevent pregnancy. The first page clearly said that the only way to prevent pregnancy 100% is through abstinence. However, the next 10 pages clearly advised teens to seek other forms of pregnancy prevention: contraceptives. This illogical and clearly doesn’t hit the root of the issue. The government and mainstream belief is using contraception as a veneer that only hides the problem. Telling teens to use contraceptives when having sex is like telling them to go rob the bank, but don’t get caught, or “you can sleep with your boyfriend, just don’t bring a baby home.” More importantly, though, the promotion of contraception in society today is really promoting a misconstrued meaning of sex by disconnecting it from conception, life at its first stage. The true meaning is in the beauty of giving life; contraception says “no” to this life-giving purpose.
Now that we have seen the role contraception has assumed in society, let’s look at the second point: what contraception does to society. There are two main ways that contraception undermines the value of life in our world today: 1) by promoting promiscuity and 2) by making pregnancy seem like a disease.
First of all, it promotes promiscuity. An RN wrote in a health column that, “There are obviously things that teens hide form their parents, one of which being their sexual activities. If teens were forced to have parental consent before buying protection, I believe that it would increase the amount of teens having unprotected sex, and therefore increase the amount of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. All of these effects are unnecessary, and would be avoided by allowing teens to purchase contraceptives with privacy.” Once again, this is just like stashing everything in the “junk closet,” when cleaning the house. By encouraging the use of contraceptives to avoid “unwanted” pregnancies, what’s really happening is that sex is no longer the act that brings about life, but simply a game, or “having fun,” as the intern at my doctor’s office implied. Contraceptives promote promiscuity and promiscuity promotes contraceptives: in the midst of it all, the dignity of life is compromised.
Secondly, contraception undermines the dignity of life by making pregnancy seem like a disease. Another health column I read said that “Parents need to empower teens to act responsibly, by saying, "When you decide to be sexually intimate with someone you care about, always, always use protection against pregnancy and STIs.” The use of contraception to have “safe sex” is always to “protect” against 1) Sexually transmitted diseases and 2) pregnancy. So, pregnancy has become a disease just like a HIV, AIDS, Syphilis, Scabies, and countless other sexually transmitted diseases. Pregnancy is also made out to be a disease by the mandatory inclusion of contraceptives in the HSS Health Care mandate. Merriam-Webster defines health care as the maintaining and restoration of health by the treatment and prevention of disease. That must make pregnancy a disease and contraception, the only method of prevention. Of course this misconstrues the dignity of the life which begins at conception and develops in pregnancy. Consequently this small life in its first stages is seen as a mere byproduct of “the pregnancy disease.”
In conclusion, contraceptives are being promoted as a solution for a problem that indeed does need to be changed (the high rates of teen pregnancy and other unexpected pregnancies). However, not only does it act as a veneer hiding the real issue, but even more so, contraceptives are misconstruing the meaning of life at its very beginning. In our world today, contraception is widely promoted by the government and the mainstream in schools, health care, homes, and the media. It is hailed as the only way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, which now seem to include pregnancy. This increasingly common perspective on conception and pregnancy, robs life of its dignity. As advocates of life, we can’t overlook the manner in which contraceptives adamantly say “no” to life and how the government and the mainstream are using it as a veneer to solve the problem of teen pregnancy, when in reality, contraceptives attack life in its earliest stage, at the moment of conception.