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Dr Mobbs replies ...
My letter (August AD2000) criticised Anne Lastman's article (" Humanae Vitae: still prophetic after 45 years", July AD2000) for her exaggerations and for her failure to show that rejection of Humanae Vitae is the cause of certain evils, such as the increased frequency of abortion.
Her argument is of the form of a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this), e.g., after the rejection of Humanae Vitae the abortion rate rose, therefore the rejection caused the rise. But consider China which has a very high abortion rate. Statistics are hard to come by but Wikipedia gives a figure of 13 million each year, a third of all abortions worldwide. The rate is an effect not of a 'contraceptive mentality' but of the Chinese government's penalising those who bear more than one child.
Anne Lastman's exaggerations are manifest, e.g., "the rejection of the encyclical lurched society into a condition of perhaps irretrievable morass''; " Humanae Vitae was a document emanating directly from the mind and heart of God" (How does she know this?); and "contraception is a deception and blasphemy against life". These unbalanced claims weaken her argument.
A better explanation of the increase in frequency of teenage sexual intercourse, abortion, destruction of embryos and divorce is that millions of people have come to believe that these acts are not always sinful or immoral. For example, they believe that a foetus is not a person, so killing it does not harm anyone. Most of such people will never have heard of Humanae Vitae, so are not rejecting it.
Again Anne Lastman indulges her penchant for exaggeration: "Contraception is a sin because in its intent it says 'no' to God." Really? The practitioner may never have heard of God or does not believe in God.
As for contraception promoting abortion, I would think true the proposition, "The fewer the conceptions the fewer the abortions." Contraception has prevented billions of births, so the number of those who could be aborted has been drastically reduced.
Does contraception diminish love between couples (married or not)? Consider two groups of men: Anglican bishops, and priests of some Orthodox Churches. The overwhelming majority are married. I have no entry to their bedrooms, but I suppose most practise contraception because their Churches do not forbid it.
I find it hard to believe they are defying God and that they do not love their wives. Indeed, they may be acting in harmony with the teaching of Humanae Vitae, art. 13: "It is in fact justly observed that a conjugal act imposed upon one's partner without regard for his or her condition and lawful desires is not a true act of love, and therefore denies an exigency of right moral order in the relationships between husband and wife."
FRANK MOBBS (DR)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 9 (October 2013), p. 14
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