Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective?
Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII.
Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 17
Reflection – Yesterday I argued that the Pope was basically right in his predictions of the effects of contraception on sexual mores and relations in general. Here he points out that the normalization of contraception places creates a terrible risk of placing power over this most intimate and personal aspect of human life into the hands of governments who may have their own reasons and agendas to pursue.
This is hardly fanciful or paranoid. China, for example, has done precisely, exactly this in its one child policy. When there are legal penalties attached to having more children than the state says you may have, what else can this be but a giving “ into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.” Once again, Pope Paul VI was right – funny, that, eh? One might start to suspect the man knew a thing or two, he has a habit of being right about so many things.
I find it a rather bitterly ironic fact that the so-called ‘pro-choice’ movement has never uttered so much as a peep about China and its policy, even though it is a total violation of the freedom of the woman to choose to conceive or not. China’s policy has even extended to forcing women to have abortions, and yet somehow this does not seem to concern NARAL and Planned Parenthood. One might suspect that their concern is not so much ‘choice,’ ‘freedom’, ‘rights’, or (for that matter) ‘women’, but rather the promotion of abortion, simply put.
Besides China, we have seen in the past decades tremendous pressure brought on the poor nations of the world by the rich to promote and propagandize contraception and abortion services, whether those nations wanted it or not. Financial aid has been linked to this agenda, in a truly vile example of neo-colonialist bullying and a sort of crypto-racism. ‘Just the right number of white people—way too many brown and black people’, has been virtually the guiding policy goal of the UN and its agencies. This group provides detailed investigations on all these matters.
All of this flows from the violation of the limits to our ownership over human life, our own bodies, the claiming for ourselves of a dominion over creation that is not ours, but God’s. Once human beings take this dominion from the hands of God into their own hands, it is no great leap for more powerful human beings (the state) to take it from the hands of less powerful ones (the family). It has already happened in the places I have mentioned; there is no particular reason it could not happen anywhere.
It is the great paradox of our faith that the only way to stay in true freedom is to stay in the lordship of Christ in all things. Spurning the dominion of God over our bodies we pass, not into freedom, but into the dominion of Caesar--so it has always been, so it always will be.