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Letters & Op-Eds - 1990s

irish times

Dr. O'Connell on Contraception

Frances Kissling

6 March 1999

Sir,

Archbishop Connell's analysis of the impact of contraception on the quality of family life would, if it came from anywhere other than the Roman Catholic church, be described as psychobabble or dismissed outright. Only a man who has not had to put food on the table, educate his children, or negotiate a fair relationship with a wife would make the claim, as the archbishop did, that family planning leads to resentful children and unloving couples. Indeed one need look no further than the devastating story of Irish family life without contraception - Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes - to get a sense of how grinding poverty, sexual intimacy marred by the fear of pregnancy, and automatic, thoughtless childbearing results in truly dysfunctional and painful family life.

The Catholic Church is not an irrational entity in which we are asked to live unexamined lives. As Catholics we are called to think through moral decisions thoughtfully and with a view to the consequences. Nowhere is that kind of moral reflection more important than when a couple is thinking about bringing new life into the world. Why, in God's name, would the archbishop preclude that kind of moral reflection where children are concerned? What kind of twisted logic would lead him to conclude that those children most loved and wanted by their parents are likely to be viewed as products or that their birth was the result of some power trip by their parents? The archbishop, it would seem, has allowed his opposition to contraception to overrule all reason.

Yours, etc.,

Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, DC, USA.

This letter appeared in the 6 March 1999 edition of the Irish Times.