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Contraception in the United States: A Short History
Catholic World Report ^ | 7/24/12 | John B. Buescher

Posted on 07/24/2012 8:27:13 AM PDT by marshmallow

Many 19th-century promoters of contraceptives were religious zealots who first attacked marriage, then procreation.

Today, Catholic apologetics against contraception and abortion sometimes appear historically naive, as if these issues suddenly fell out of the sky in 1930 with Resolution 15 of the Anglican Lambeth Conference on contraception, or in 1973 with Roe v. Wade.

A little information about the early history of contraception and abortion advocacy in America—especially its deepest objectives—might help. The Catholic Church has vast resources to deploy as long as it understands its opponents well. And one important thing it should understand is that many of contraception and abortion’s early proponents were religious enthusiasts.

The philosophy of fruitlessness

The first public advocacy of contraception was not explicitly religious. It came in the form of a pamphlet by a self-defined “freethinking” materialist—a Massachusetts physician, Charles Knowlton, who wrote and published The Fruits of Philosophy in 1830.

As a young man, Knowlton had been upset by the very fact of his nocturnal emissions and had gone to a handyman and electrical tinkerer in the neighborhood who administered shock treatments for his “condition,” to no avail. Knowlton took a fancy to the electrical tinkerer’s daughter, married her, and found that his “problem” immediately was cured. Later, after conducting some private research into anatomy while studying medicine, he wound up in jail for nocturnal grave robbing, or as he put it, “depriving a parcel of worms of their dinner.” Dr. Knowlton, although he fancied himself to be among the illuminati, would seem to have been something of a creature of the night.

His pamphlet detailed all the methods of contraception that he had come across, including coitus interruptus, condoms, vaginal sponges, and the method he thought most effective, douching with a vaginal syringe. He justified birth control with an argument that remains a.......

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TOPICS: Catholic; History; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture

1 posted on 07/24/2012 8:27:17 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow
Long but worth it article.

Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives. So, in compliance with nature’s working plan, we must permit womanhood its full development before we can expect of it efficient motherhood.

If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman. Then and then only can the mother cease to be an incubator and be a mother indeed. Then only can she transmit to her sons and daughters the qualities which make strong individuals and, collectively, a strong race.

--Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race

2 posted on 07/24/2012 4:09:45 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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3 posted on 02/16/2014 5:12:21 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (What does the LORD require of you, but to act justly, to love tenderly, to walk humbly with your God)
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