Contraceptive brochure

Fr. Peter Daly

Parish Diary

June 10, 2009


(Fr. Peter Daly comments on a family planning brochure that is included in all marriage licenses in his state.)    


            Just when people ought to start making babies, my state tells them how not to.               In the state of Maryland (and probably in other states), when a couple receives their marriage license, the envelope contains a brochure entitled “Family Planning for you.”         I think it’s strange.

            Just when couples are morally free and socially responsible enough to create new life the society says, “Wait a minute, do you really want to have that child?”

It is as if the state was saying, “You are married. Now don’t get pregnant.” 

            This is not a Democratic or Republican thing. Both parties have promoted this.

            The brochures my county is giving out were printed in 2006 under the previous Republican administration. They prominently bear the names of the former Republican governor, Robert Ehrlich, Jr. and former Republican Lt. Governor, Michael Steele. Mr. Steele is now the current Republican National Committee Chairman and a Catholic.

            The newer brochures will bear the name of our current governor, Martin O’Malley, who like Mr. Steele, is also a Catholic.

            Isn’t it strange that Catholic officials of both parties are promoting forms of birth control that the church does not consider moral?

            Here are Catholics putting their name on a brochure advocating the pill, condoms, sterilization, NuvaRing, Depo-Provera, the diaphragm and the morning after pill. This last form of birth control is really a chemical abortion.

            The only mention of Natural Family Planning in the brochure is a sentence called “Fertility Awareness Methods.” It accurately states that NFP can be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy. But then, unlike all the other forms of birth control, it notes, “You must get special training to use these methods.”  The implication is that NFP is too complicated for most people, which is not true. It does not say where to get the “special training.”

            And, what about the couple?

            What message are they meant to take away?

            Marriage is state of life in which they can and should be open to new life. Yet they are given a worried message of “concern.” The state asks ominously:

            Will you be able to finish school?

            Will you be able to keep a job?

            Will you have enough living space?

            Do you really want to become a mother or father?

            As to the first three question: who knows? I doubt my parents knew the answers to those questions. But as to the question do you really want to be a mother or father the answer was, “Sure, that’s why we got married.”

            Why is the government asking these questions? It seems they are trying to discourage pregnancies among married couples. Isn’t it strange that the state sees fit to tell married couples how not to have babies?

            One other question about these brochures occurred to me.

            If the state recognizes same sex marriages, will it give out this same brochure to same sex couples? Probably not.

            If not, what does that say?

            Are two types of relationships really are different? If heterosexual and homosexual relationships are not both biologically generative, is that enough difference to treat them differently in law?

            As we approach this summer the 40th anniversary of Paul VI’s encyclical on Human Life, it is ironic that the state give moral instruction on birth control, while people pay little attention to the moral teaching of the church.

            I think this brochure is strange and inappropriate. Just as they become husband and wife the state tells men and women they should not follow God’s plan to have children.