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Contraception for BC campus

Contraception for BC campus

On the flip side

By: Brendan Benedict

Posted: 2/12/09

The Boston College administration likes to maintain that safety is a priority. The BC Police Department's slogan reads, "Together for a safer community." Dorms are regularly inspected for fire safety, blue safety lights are scattered over campus, and the EagleTrans service provides rides for any student feeling unsafe. But the buck apparently stops with sexuality, as the Jesuit institution refuses to provide contraceptives to students on campus. Now that UGBC elections are near, the issue has once again come into the spotlight. Although vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church, contraceptives are an important component to student health, and the administration should consider distributing them.

The Catholic Church has always considered contraception to be a moral wrong, arguing that the purpose of sex is procreation. This teaching discounts affection as the primary motivator for coitus. It would also hold that menopausal women, cancer survivors, and the infertile would not be morally permitted to have intercourse. The Church further argues that the dissemination of contraceptives encourages adultery and premarital sex. Consider Genesis, where God permits Abraham to have sex with his wife, Sarah, though she is infertile, and then allows Abraham to commit adultery with his slave, Hagar, to bear a child. Thus God empirically refutes the Church's assertion. Moreover, a 2006 study found that by age 20, 75 percent of Americans engaged in premarital sex and that by age 44, 95 percent did. If the Church is losing the war on sex, they might as well make it safe.

No one disagrees that abstinence is the most sure-fire way to prevent a pregnancy and avoid STDs. But preaching abstinence and nothing else is ineffective in dissuading students from sex. A 2007 Congressional study reported that middle school students who were taught abstinence-only were statistically as likely to engage in intercourse as their peers who were provided with the gamut of sexual education. Without the necessary access to and instruction on contraception, students are at higher risk.

The use of a condom is critical in stopping the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and is shown to reduce the likelihood of an infection by 85 percent. Although not as effective with other STDs, condoms still make gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia, warts, herpes, and the human papillomavirus (which causes cervical cancer) rarer. With over 25 million people dead already from the HIV-caused Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome alone, the Church needs to take a role in defending the sanctity and preservation of the life it trumpets from the pulpit. 

The Church also presents abstinence as the only alternative to coitus, but this is untrue. Even if one rounds first, the ecumenical umpires cry foul. But again, it doesn't stop people from doing it. Though these other activities are much safer than intercourse and should be encouraged as other options, they still carry the risk of STDs and even pregnancy, so they do not eliminate the need for accessible contraception. When the Church labels these alternatives as heresy, they only make them more likely to pose a risk to practitioners. 

Even if one is to accept the Church's arguments on contraception at face value, the issue of abortion presents a glaring contradiction. Common sense alone tells us that since condoms, pills, and other forms of birth control prevent conception, they also prevent abortions. If there are fewer pregnancies, there are going to be fewer abortions. For a religion that has so fiercely denounced abortion in climbing the altar soapbox, telling parishioners how to vote, and practically excommunicating John Kerry, there is no logical reason why the Church hierarchy would be opposed to stopping abortions. And while contentions against the morning-after pill may be valid, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to show that condoms end a life. Certainly, even if one finds condoms to be immoral, they cannot be worse than killing a baby. 

Jeremiah 1:5 reads, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." In this verse, God speaks to Jeremiah, staking a claim on his power to create life. But if the Church believes God to be absolute in his power and authority, how could his will be thwarted by a piece of latex? Even if contraception is used, God still holds a plan for our souls and a time for our birth. Though the Catholic Church and the BC administration are trying to discourage premarital sex, it has always been, and will continue to be, rampant. If everyone is doing it (literally), it makes sense to offer precautions to at-risk students and to prevent more deaths from AIDS and other STDs. By allowing for birth control on campus, the administration would actually be preventing abortions, a pinnacle issue for the Church. But if another election season passes without these implementations, students will only end up being caught with their pants down.
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