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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 24, 2020
“At first I thought it was as joke,” said Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., “but New York City’s Health Department really did issue guidelines on containing the Wuhan virus which recommend masturbation and warn against group sex, at least while the crisis lasts.”
The Health Department memo says, “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after.”
“The next safest partner is someone you live with,” the city advises. “If you do have sex, have as few partners as possible.”
Morse commented, “Normal people know they should not participate in life-threatening activities. Do the residents of New York need to be told to abstain from casual sex, sex with strangers and orgies during this major public health crisis?”
The New York Post seemed to play the story for laughs, saying “it makes sense to give yourself a hand.” But Morse takes this seriously, “Memo to NYC Health Department: no one has ever died from abstaining from sex. If you think you’ll die without sex, you are probably a sex addict. It appears that the Department is run by and for sex addicts. It assumes that group sex, casual sex and orgies are normal.”
Morse continued: “This is all depressingly typical of the Sexual Revolution, which treats sex as a mere bodily function. It maintains that people have a right to sex, as much and any way they want, free of consequences. This is the perspective that allows the New York Health Department to think they are making a bold move. Recommending limits of any kind, but only for the duration of the pandemic, that’s a radical step for them.”
“One thing they never do is discuss sex in a moral context,” Morse observed. “For them, talking about sex and morality in the same breath is puritanical and obsessive. But since the Centers for Disease Control says there are 20 million new STD infections each year, maybe there’s something to be said for self-restraint.”
Morse concluded: “Other casualties of the Sexual Revolution include divorce, failure to achieve intimacy, fatherless families, declining fertility and a pornified culture. It’s unlikely that the New York City Department of Health has put out memos on any of this.”
The Ruth Institute’s upcoming Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution – Protecting Children and Families (July 17-18 in Lake Charles, Louisiana) will examine many of these issues.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love. Find more here.
“NYC Health Department gets graphic in coronavirus sex memo” https://nypost.com/2020/03/21/nyc-health-department-gets-graphic-in-coronavirus-sex-memo/
Sexually Transmitted Diseases – HealthyPeople.gov https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sexually-transmitted-diseases
Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Educating yourself is the first step in fighting the effects of the sexual revolution in your life and among loved ones.
The Ruth Institute is hosting its Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, and you're invited.
Learn how to confront and survive trends in transgenderism, the LGBT subculture, the pitfalls of population control, post-abortion trauma, same-sex parenting, childhood sexual abuse, and more.
The summit will include various sessions loaded with information. Have you ever wondered, for example, how pornography is affecting people’s lives? The Summit’s class “Protecting Our Children from Our Pornified Culture” will open your eyes. These and other facts about pornography will be discussed:
For this and many other well-researched presentations, save the date:
July 17-18, 2020
Posted on: Thursday, January 23, 2020
by Paul Sullins
This article was first posted January 22, 2020, at The Public Discourse.
The unstated mythology of therapeutic “abortion care” is that pregnancies come in only two types: wanted pregnancies, all of which children are delivered, and unwanted pregnancies, all of which children are aborted. But that’s not true. At least one in seven abortions in the U.S. are of children that the mother reports were wanted. I recently found that the risk of depression, suicidality or anxiety disorders from such abortions was almost four times higher than for women who had aborted a child in an unwanted pregnancy. Mine is the first empirical study ever to examine these more distressing, invisible abortions.
I recently examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to see if wanting a pregnancy affected women’s level of psychological distress following an abortion. My results were published late last year in a study in the European medical journal Medicina. Add Health, widely acknowledged to be among the best representative data we have on the U.S. population, has been used in thousands of empirical scholarly studies. In addition to extensive measures of psychological health drawn from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), Add Health asked almost 4,000 women at three points in time—ages 15, 22, and 28—whether they had ever been pregnant, how the pregnancy ended, and whether they wanted to have a child when they became pregnant.
Putting these together, I found that by age 28 the risk of affective psychological disorder—meaning depression, anxiety disorder, or serious thoughts of suicide—was almost four times higher (69 percent versus 18 percent) for women who had aborted a child in a wanted rather than an unwanted pregnancy, compared to those who had delivered children in such pregnancies. Clearly, the abortions of children in wanted pregnancies are much more disturbing for women, and their births much happier, than is the case with unwanted pregnancies.
Wanted-pregnancy abortions most often occur because the mother may want the child, while others involved do not. In the Add Health data I examined in the study, one in five women who had ever had an abortion said that they had aborted a pregnancy by which they had wanted to have a child. In patient surveys by abortion providers, over a third of women reported that they were acceding to the wishes of their partner or parents in having the abortion. A research review by the pro-life Elliott Institute estimates that “30 to 60 percent of women having abortions feel pressured to do so by other persons.”
There can be other pressures as well. In follow-up surveys that asked about their experience at a clinic, most women reported feeling uncertain or rushed to have an abortion, and two thirds reported little or no counseling. Last year’s movie Unplanned, based on the first-person account of former abortion-clinic director Abby Johnson, chillingly dramatized a typical clinic intake process, that more closely resembled sales pressure to have an abortion than it did a careful screening for certainty or potential mental-health concerns. Many women may understandably come to have a sense of buyer’s remorse or regret about their decision to have an abortion.
Remarkably, mine is the first empirical study ever to examine abortions of children in wanted pregnancies. For most researchers in this area, such abortions are invisible because they do not conform to the unstated binary mythology of “abortion care,” in which pregnancies come in only two types: wanted pregnancies, all of which children are delivered, and unwanted pregnancies, all of which children are aborted.
Reviewers and editors repeatedly reported that they “lacked a sense of” or were “perplexed” by the idea that women could look back and say that they actually had wanted to deliver a child they had aborted; although they acknowledged that women routinely deliver children in unwanted pregnancies, and that “very many women express some degree of ambivalence” at the clinic. More than one told me that women who had obtained an abortion must not have wanted their pregnancy by definition, and thus, in the Add Health interviews, they could not have responded the way they clearly did respond. The position-statement review by the AMRC codified this bias, explicitly presuming that all aborted pregnancies were unwanted, and thus defining the most distressing abortions out of existence.
Whitewashing away the most troubling abortions is not the only blind spot of our medical experts. Even if it were true that women did not “experience more mental health problems” with abortion compared to delivery, such statements crucially miss the point. The mental-health premise for widespread legal abortion was not merely that it would not do more psychological harm to women, but that it would benefit them, compared to having to deliver the child.
Although researchers have long disputed whether mental-health problems for women after abortion are disconcertingly large or insignificantly small, so far, after forty-five years of research, not a single study (to my knowledge) has ever found a statistically significant psychological benefit for women having abortions rather than childbirth. The declarations of “no harm” fail even to consider the fact that the idea of a “therapeutic abortion” to improve a woman’s mental health—which is the premise of the Roe/Doe decisions in the U.S., and the justification for legal abortion in most Western countries—has no basis in evidence.
What does benefit pregnant women’s mental health, research repeatedly finds, is childbirth. In my study, the risk of affective distress was 29
percent lower up to 13 years after the birth of one or more children in wanted pregnancies, and 12 percent lower even after delivering a child from
an unwanted pregnancy. The full psychological toll of an abortion, therefore, must be measured not just by the absolute pain a woman may (or may not)
feel, but also by the opportunity cost of missing the psychological benefit—the joy, growth, and even struggle—of the child she did not
Posted on: Monday, January 20, 2020
The Ruth Institute will be an exhibitor at this year’s National Pro-life Summit, organized by Students for Life America in Washington D.C. January 25, the day after the National March for Life.
The Institute brings a unique perspective to the pro-life cause. Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., explains: “Our mission to strengthen marriage goes hand in hand with the pro-life cause.”
Morse noted: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among single women, 27% of all pregnancies end in abortion. But among married women, only 4% of pregnancies result in abortion. In other words, 96% of married pregnant women choose life.”
Morse continued: “Marriage is one of the few things that truly has the power to prevent abortion. We hope to recruit many pro-lifers to join our mission of building a civilization of love, which includes lifelong married love as a cornerstone.”
Along with Students for Life America, sponsors of the 2020 Summit include such prominent pro-life and pro-family organizations as Alliance Defending Freedom, The Heritage Foundation, Heartbeat International, the Susan B. Anthony List, and Live Action.
Students for Life America has been organizing the Summit for 12 years. More than 3,100 are expected to attend this year’s sold-out conference.
“We are honored to participate in the Summit,” Morse said. “It’s an exciting event that brings together student activists and leaders from across the country to learn and network to advance the pro-life cause.”
The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.
Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
In December she returned from her first speech in Africa, at the Uganda National Youth Conference.
Find more information on The Ruth Institute here.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse or other Ruth Institute spokesmen or spokeswomen, email email@example.com.
Posted on: Monday, January 14, 2019
by Paul Sullins
A review of: Regnerus, Mark, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
This article was first published at humanumreview.
Cultural norms—the tacit, taken-for-granted expectations that structure human society—adapt to institutional and technological change. In our day, as the life tasks and realms formerly integrated within marriage—sex, intimacy, shared residence and meals, childbirth, raising children, economic sharing, and career planning—increasingly uncoupled from that institution, the related norms shift. When, as in America today, most children experience the dissolution of their parents’ relationship, the norms of mating and parenthood implicitly shift from the prospect of stability to the prospect of instability. When less than ten percent of women experience sexual onset within a permanent relationship, the norm shifts from regarding virginity with admiration to regarding it with ridicule. When more than half of births to women under 30 occur outside marriage, the norm of “first comes marriage” shifts to “marriage comes second”—if marriage comes at all.
In his book Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus argues that this shift in marital and mating norms has now extended to sex itself. Bringing to bear an impressive array of data, including Regnerus’ own large survey of over 15,000 Americans (called the Relationships in America [RIA] survey project) and over 100 interviews conducted for the book, he ably demonstrates that “cheap sex is plentiful—it’s flooding the market in sex and relationships—and … this has had profound influence on how American men and women relate to each other, which has in turn spilled over into other domains” (29). In case we need to be convinced, he presents detailed data and evidence that young Americans of marriageable age (ages 24‒32) engage in sex relations more quickly, casually, frequently and with more variety than ever before. Waiting until marriage is becoming a rare option; many do not wait until the second date. Or even the first date. In the RIA data, Regnerus reports, over a third of men and a quarter of women reported that they had sex with their current or most recent partner before the relationship actually began (97). Like text messaging has replaced, for young Americans, the intrusive investment of time and interpersonal energy in an actual phone call, Tinder and the hookup has rendered almost quaint the notion of investing time and interpersonal energy in an actual date. If you think that this is a description of the commodification of sex, you are beginning to get the idea.
Sex has become cheap, explains Regnerus, not because it leaves young people feeling cheap or is less desired by them—in fact, quite the opposite—but as a matter of hard-headed rational social exchange: “Sex is cheap if women expect little in return for it and if men do not have to supply much time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity in order to experience it” (28). This definition follows the little-known branch of sociology known as “sexual economics,” which analyzes sex relations on the model of a transaction in which a man offers his resources—summarized above as “time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity”—in exchange for sexual access to a woman’s body. The popular formula which says that men give love to get sex, while women give sex to get love, expresses roughly the same idea. But sexual economics goes further, analyzing the sum of these transactions as a kind of mating market, using the tools and concepts of classical economics to expose what many would call cultural insights.
In the mating market of young Americans, explains Regnerus, well-documented gender differences show that men are largely the source of demand for sex, while women function as gatekeepers controlling supply. Sex has become cheap not because demand has decreased—male sexual desire is reliably constant—but because supply has become much more plentiful. The key drivers of this change, he maintains, are not cultural or even sociological, but something more fundamental: technological change. Since the 1960s, and particularly since the turn of the present century, norms of sex and marriage have been upended by the confluence of “three distinctive technological achievements: 1) the wide uptake of the [birth-control] Pill as well as a mentality stemming from it that sex is “naturally” infertile, 2) mass-produced high-quality pornography, and 3) the advent and evolution of online dating/meeting services” (11). The Pill has eliminated the perceived risk of pregnancy, thereby greatly lowering risk which had formerly inhibited casual sex relations, particularly for women; Tinder and similar online meeting sites have increased the supply of willing short-term partners, particularly for men; and ubiquitous pornography allied with masturbation (“the cheapest sex” ) has made sexual experience available for men (and for women, but mostly for men) without even troubling to find an actual partner.
The result of these technologies is that women’s gatekeeping power is largely undermined in the sexual exchange. If men give love to receive sex, and women give sex to receive love, then in today’s mating market, young women must give much more sex in exchange for much less love.
The young women who do so, in the vast majority, are not reluctantly lowering their moral standards (though they may have other reasons for reluctance), but conforming to a new standard, a shift of norms, as abundant non-fertile sexual experience has become for them an assumed social fact. “[Cheap sex],” Regnerus observes, “is a presumption, widely perceived as natural and commonsensical, and hence connected by persons to expectations about their own and others’ future sexual experiences (as similarly low-cost). It has become normative, taken for granted” (30). In the popular mentality and cognition of today’s young Americans, sex is for fun, not for procreation.
Many of the developments Regnerus documents were predicted 25 years ago, in the influential analysis of modern sexuality presented in Anthony Giddens’ 1992 volume The Transformation of Intimacy. Giddens, a pre-eminent Marxist sociologist who is the longtime Director of the London School of Economics, proposed that the emergence of “plastic sexuality,” i.e., sexuality freed from the needs of reproduction, reflected a fundamental transformation in the constitution of sexual relationships. Sexuality, love and eroticism were increasingly being shaped by aspirations for personal fulfillment, sexual attraction (and repulsion), and psychic needs, and decreasingly by collective control imposed by the state, tradition or moral norms. The result was a restructuring of sexual intimacy, not around marriage and family or any social or moral norms, but around what Giddens called (ironically, to Catholic ears) the “pure relationship,” which is “a social relationship which is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another; and which is continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfactions for each individual to stay within it.”
Although marriage, through the rise of the romantic love complex, had played a major role in the rise of the pure relationship, eventually the connection between love and sex via the pure relationship would undermine marriage. Women tended to lead, while men lagged, in the present and future development of such relationships; they were therefore the most advanced, in many ways, among lesbian couples. Regnerus examines Giddens’ predictions throughout the book, partly as a kind of guide, and partly as a foil to his own analysis. He finds that most of Giddens’ predictions and insights hold up well, although he is less positive about them than Giddens may have been, as evidenced by the fact that what Giddens called a “pure relationship” roughly corresponds to what Regnerus calls “cheap sex.”
For women, the Pill has reduced the ability to form a good marriage by splitting the mating market into parts: at one extreme, persons looking for casual sex with a minimum of strings, and at the other extreme, persons looking to marry. Consistent with the sex differences already noted, Regnerus notes, “there are more men in the sex corner of the pool than women, and more women in the marriage corner of the pool than men” (35). Due to the imbalance of males in the sex corner, although sex is cheap for men, it is still much easier, as we all know, for a woman to have casual sex, if she wants to, than it is for a man. As Regnerus points out, men looking for a no-strings sex partner often come up short, but “[w]hen women signal interest in [casual] sex, men pounce” (35). But at the other end of the pool, where there are far more women than men who are interested in the “expensive” sex of marriage, men dominate the exchange.
Since women are less likely to marry a man with lower education and earnings than themselves, the pool of men available to marry has grown even smaller as women become, on average, more highly educated and employable than men (another, less direct, effect of the Pill). The result is that women who want to marry struggle to find a marriage partner and some will fail to do so. Others may settle for a less than optimum partner, which contributes to increased rates of divorce—the large majority of which are initiated by women—and relationship churning. In this way, cheap sex directly lowers the quality and duration of marriage.
But the effect of cheap sex on women is dwarfed by its effect on men. A central concern of the book, pursued in a chapter with the same name as the subtitle, is that “cheap sex has transformed modern men …, undermined and stalled the marital impulse, and stimulated critics of monogamy” (191). This is more than just a matter of the proverbial milk and cow effect. Shorn of the need to offer significant resources in exchange for sex, cheap sex has not just lowered men’s interest in marriage, but more importantly their marriageability: that is, their economic and social capacity to marry, or to attract a marriage partner. The rise of underemployed and underachieving young men in the past 15 years has been a widely observed trend, puzzled over by a spate of books across the ideological spectrum, from Hanna Rosin’s left-leaning The End of Men to Lionel Tiger’s right-leaning The Decline of Males. One largely overlooked reason for the lassitude of young men today, Regnerus argues, may be cheap sex. “Cheap sex, …”, he writes, “does little to stimulate the [men] of our modern economy toward those historic institutions—education, a settled job, and marriage—that created opportunity for them and their families” (154). Faced with no need to attain a higher education or well-paying job in order to attract a woman, many young men lose the motivation to attain a higher education or well-paying job at all.
It gets worse. Because marriageability and productivity are closely allied, the decline of marriageability resulting from cheap sex has also reduced young men’s general social productivity. On this point Regnerus cites the sexual economists Baumeister and Vohs: “giving young men easy access to abundant sexual satisfaction deprives society of one of its ways to motivate them to contribute valuable achievements to the culture” (152). The Freudian idea here is that sexual deprivation energizes the development of civilization. Catholic thought arrives at the same place by a different route, affirming that as marriage (the only proper realm for sex) contributes to the common good, when men fail to contribute to marriage they also deprive the common good of valuable accomplishments. In this way, however understood, cheap sex beleaguers not only men and marriage, but society more broadly.
The overall effect of this book is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Each well-documented fact, each clinical insight, contributes to the growing realization that marriage is in more trouble than is currently imagined, and in a way that is not likely to recover very soon, if at all. By the end of the book it has become clear that the analogy of market exchange, which has helped to explain male-female interactions throughout the book, has now become the defining reality of sex relations for young Americans. As Regnerus explains, it is not just that “marriage … is in the throes of deinstitutionalization” (195) but that cheap sex is in the throes of mass-market commodification, becoming “a synthetic compound of our Western penchant for bigger, cheaper, better, diverse and more—an ironic postmodern intersection where Wal-Mart meets [explicit sex advice columnist] Dan Savage” (197).
Shed of transcendence and uniqueness, disconnected from larger life goals or relationships, cheap sex has become a rationalized commodity, discounted even further for being mass produced in bulk. Cheap sex has become junk sex. Like McDonald’s burgers—the prototypical rationalized commodity—it has become a kind of ersatz product which can be obtained ever more quickly, cheaply and reliably, and which is tasty and attractive, but not very nourishing as a steady diet. Regnerus, citing Wendell Berry, terms it “industrial sex”: “Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of ‘sexual partners,’ orgasm, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex …” (198). Regnerus sums up the accounts from his interviewees of “orgasmic experiences, partner numbers, time in pursuit, exotic accounts, one-night stands, regrets, pain, addictions, infections, abortions, wasted time, and spent relationships” as metrics “of an industrial sex whose promises consistently exceeded its deliveries” (198).
When sex becomes this cheap—affordable to all like a Big Mac—, marriage by comparison becomes prohibitively expensive, like a five-star dinner affordable only to the select few. The problem industrially cheap sex presents for marriage is not only that fewer young men will marry—that process is well advanced—but that fewer older ones will marry as well. The metrics of good industrial sex listed above by Berry and Regnerus omit, not by accident, the most important measure of good sex relations in Catholic and traditional thought: children. Older men, more than younger men, have typically eventually settled down to become more open to marriage for the sake of children and family. If, in their minds, sex is really for fun and not for children, and women can have and raise children without their lifelong commitment, there is little need for them ever to step up to parental responsibility, nor for women to demand of them that they do so. In the era of cheap sex, men (and women) who in the recent past may have married for these very reasons (and then perhaps divorced) are increasingly likely never to marry at all.
To make this point Regnerus presents the above figure (146), which shows, from Census data, the proportion of young Americans who have not married by the age of 35. Strikingly, just since the turn of the century, that proportion has risen by almost 20 percentage points, from a third of young Americans in 2000 to well over half of them today. At the turn of the century, by the age of 35, over half of young Americans had married; today, over half remain unmarried. For decades, even though younger Americans have increasingly deferred marriage, by the time of their mid-thirties the vast majority of Americans had eventually married. Figure 5.1 suggests that that cultural pattern no longer holds. Regnerus attributes this change to the fact that the new norms of cheap sex are still diffusing gradually throughout the population:
[M]any people are marrying because they are still following the cultural practices of their parents and grandparents, even though historically compelling reasons—like babies, financial and physical security, or the desire for a “socially legitimate” sexual relationship—no longer hold. … The next generation, today no older than teenagers, will wonder why they should marry at all. (147)
The picture Regnerus paints is a grim one, not because marriage will fully disappear—marriage rates will remain high among the wealthy and the very religious—but because the rise of cheap sex and its consequences are the result of technological change, which is generally irreversible, rather than social or cultural trends which may recover. After several generations of predicating sexuality on effective infertility due to the Pill, as Regnerus points out, “a return to the patterns witnessed prior to the ‘sexual revolution’… is very unlikely” (8).
And yet. In a world of commodity sex, industrial sex is not just emotionally unsatisfying, as Regnerus observes, but may contain the seeds of its own destruction. Literally. The logic of the sexual economics which Regnerus deploys so well can be maintained only by treating children as an externality to coupled pleasure, the cost of which, like polluting smokestacks in an industrial market, is largely ignored. But children are not merely external to sex: they add distinct value to the exchange. Children, of course, do not negotiate or offer any exchange goods to the sexual partners who may produce them. But more than marriage, it is the prospect and eventual presence of children that, like religion, lifts the perspective of sex partners from the present experience to the future, not only a future state of society in which their children can thrive, but also the future beyond the horizon of their own lives. Children personalize sex and endow it with meaning, an exchange to be sure, though one that may be better understood in terms of gift, rather than a sexual economics based on transaction.
The value of children is pertinent, because what Regnerus does not address is that the Pill’s promise of reliably preventing conception, which he, like his study subjects, accepts largely at face value, is false. As a matter of simple fact, hormonal birth control fails to prevent pregnancy in actual use at a rate—between 10 and 20 percent of the time in most studies—unacceptably high to be reasonably considered a foolproof method of preventing pregnancy. The effect of the Pill, then, is not technological, as Regenerus holds, but symbolic, because as a technology, it clearly fails to deliver. Like mythology, young Americans believe in the efficacy of contraception because it enables and explains the hypersexualized world in which they have been socialized. More than a few discover, after much pain and regret, that that world is a lie.
The mythology of the Pill’s infallible bar to conception is maintained only by the prospect of the efficient elimination, through widespread legal abortion, of the children who slip past its provision. This is not a new social dynamic. Children inconveniently resulting from illicit sexual liaisons have long been cheapened, considered “illegitimate” and denied the recognition and care of their natural parents. Today’s bastards are the “unwanted” children, who comprise about half of conceptions in America, who are denied both parental and social recognition before birth and are routinely subject to death. One could say—and many do—that the technology of abortion completes the technology of effective contraception, but this ignores the inconvenient externality even more blindly. Cheap sex is enabled only by cheaper children; and the low value placed on unwanted, unborn infant life is not a product of technology but of a culture, possibly reparable, that has forgotten what it means to be human.
 Anthony Giddens, The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies (Stanford University Press, 1992).
 Ibid., 58.
 Ibid., 154.
Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. is a tenured Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America and a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. His most recent book is Catholic Social Thought: American Reflections on the Compendium (Lexington).
Posted on: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Exclusive: Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse slams 'fantasy ideology,' ugly fallout of Sexual Revolution
This article was first published October 23, 2018, at wnd.com.
by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. But I doubt the mainstream media will even mention one easily-avoidable lifestyle choice that has been implicated as a risk factor in numerous studies around the world: abortion.
In my book, “The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along ,” I noted: “The link between abortion and breast cancer has been confirmed in numerous studies around the world, including Iran, China, Turkey, Armenia, India, and Bangladesh.” More recently, Drs. Angela Lanfranchi, Joel Brind and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 20 studies of South Asian women, showing a correlation between breast cancer and abortion. Yet even the possibility of a connection between abortion and breast cancer will not be part of the month-long publicity campaign. Why?
The Sexual Revolution has created the Grand Sex Positive Narrative, to convince people that sexual activity is an entitlement for anyone capable of giving meaningful consent:
It’s as if they’re saying: “Oh, sure, casual sex used to present problems like risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But we modern, enlightened, technologically advance people have overcome all that. We have antibiotics to treat any stray microbes that manage to make it through the condom barriers we all use 100% of the time. We have pills and IUDs and long-acting reversible hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. And of course, we have safe, legal abortions to clean up any stray fetuses that manage to get conceived.”
The possible link between abortion and breast cancer presents a problem to the Grand Sex Positive Narrative. If abortion presents significant downsides, risks or problems, viewing casual sex as an entitlement would no longer make sense. Therefore, Sexual Revolutionaries have tried hard to convince people that abortion is no more psychologically traumatic or medically risky than removing an appendix or pulling a tooth.
Notice how strong this claim is. It can be refuted with a single counter-example. I don’t need to show that every woman everywhere regrets her abortion or was seriously harmed by it. All I need to show is that some women are harmed in some way. Once the idea of harmless abortion is dislodged from the public mind, then every woman must consider whether she could be one of the women likely to be harmed. Responsible medicine would require all health care personnel to take these risks seriously and provide full information.
Being overweight or having a family history of breast cancer are risk factors for breast cancer. Women in these situations might want to avoid abortion.
Taking these questions seriously threatens the whole sexual revolutionary ideological structure. “Maybe I should not sleep with a guy who would be a lousy father. Maybe I should not sleep with anyone at all if I am not ready to be a mother. In fact, if abortion might be painful for me, and contraception might fail, I’d better be careful about my sexual choices.”
The Sexual Revolution is a fantasy ideology. We cannot build an entire society around the idea that sex and babies are completely disconnected. Yet many of our most intelligent, highly educated members of society are committed to precisely this goal. They can scarcely even consider evidence that some abortions are harmful to some women: it is just too upsetting, too disruptive to the Official Sex Positive Narrative.
That is why you have not heard anything about the connection between breast cancer and abortion, even during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I’m not only willing to talk about it. I insist on it. Women’s health is too important to be threatened by political correctness.
Posted on: Monday, August 06, 2018
By Jenet Jacob Erickson
This article was first published on August 5, 2018, at Deseret News.
Once again, Roe v. Wade finds itself at the center of a Supreme Court nomination battle. And regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, there is no question that scientific advancements have “remade” the abortion debate. With ultrasound imagery and innovations in neonatology, a developing fetus is no longer referred to as “a mass of tissue,” even by abortion advocates. Public opinion reflects this change. Strong majorities of Americans, across demographic groups, oppose abortions in the second (65 percent) and third trimesters (81 percent). And even in the first trimester, a majority (53 percent) agrees abortion should be illegal when the woman’s only reason is not wanting to have a child.
Whether abortion means terminating a developing life is no longer debated. That is clear. The debate now centers on what abortion means for women. In the face of public support for some abortion restrictions, pro-choice advocates argue, “abandoning abortion rights means abandoning women.” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue claims that those who advocate for restrictions on abortion are “not really anti-abortion. … They are against a world where women can contribute equally and chart our own destiny in ways our grandmothers never thought possible.”
But Hogue’s claim belies a damaging assumption. One we must take seriously. She assumes that women cannot be equal to men unless they act destructively against their bodies and the developing life they carry. Essentially, women are told that by sacrificing life they can achieve an “equal” life.
As Harvard visiting scholar Erika Bacciochi explains, abortion advocacy assumes a “troubling natural inequality” for women because they get pregnant and men do not. Abortion eliminates that difference so women, like men, can enter into sexual relations without commitment, “free” to become, both socially and economically. But to do so, women must act “affirmatively and destructively” on their bodies to imitate men.
In the words of pro-life scholar Camille Williams, in essence, women are reduced to “defective men,” living “at the mercy of our bodies, too weak, irrational and incompetent to resist irresponsible men who impregnate us, and too politically weak to shape our educational institutions and workplaces” to accommodate the gift of our fertility.
Abortion does not remedy inequality for women. It entrenches it by refusing to acknowledge and respect the sexual difference between men and women. Instead of shaping our educational institutions and workplaces to respect, protect and support women’s childbearing, abortion encourages us to ignore it. Instead of seeking remedies for the challenges and injustices faced by pregnant women, abortion “submits” to them, masking and not responding to the realities women face.
The assumptions underlying abortion have also undermined the responsibility men and women feel for each other, and the life they create. Abortion on demand teaches that relationships are terminable at will — that love, sacrifice and commitment are contingent upon self-interest and fulfillment. It says not only to a developing person, but to the mother herself, “I will love and care for you when it works for me.” But in the rejection of her pregnancy, she is also being rejected. To denigrate the gift of life unavoidably denigrates the person who carries that life.
As sociologist Mark Regnerus’ research found, “Sex among singles used to occur in and during the search for someone to marry. … The average woman could and did count on seeing evidence of commitment before sex, because sex risked pregnancy. … Now having sex and thinking about or committing to marry are two very different things.”
The tragic result is fewer marriageable men, less commitment, and a sexually permissive climate where women are easily objectified. Permissive abortion allows men to be absolved of responsibility for the gift of life that may result from their sexual relationships, whether aborted or not. And so, ironically, since Roe v. Wade, the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate has grown from 5 percent to 41 percent with profound negative implications, especially for low-income women and children. Although abortion is often marketed as a means of planning for child-rearing, easy access to it has undermined our capacity to form the committed relationships children depend upon.
A culture of abortion is ultimately antithetical to the equality women deserve, and it undermines the desire many women have for committed relationships with men as husbands and fathers, and with the children of those fathers. Given the long-term implications of the assumptions underlying a culture of permissive abortion, we can and must do better for women.
Jenet Jacob Erickson is an affiliated scholar of the Wheatley Institution at BYU.
Posted on: Saturday, June 24, 2017
by Betsy Kerekes
This article was first published May 26, 2017, at CatholicLane.com.
The pain of infertility or impaired fertility comes in more than one form. The first is the obvious suffering of the couple who wants so badly to have a child but, for whatever reason, is unable to.
The second is the judgment of others in their Catholic community.
I’ve experienced this first-hand, despite having three children—an amount that’s considered large by the world’s standards, but, “My gosh, what’s wrong with you?” by Catholic standards. In the Catholic community, five children is barely skating by, six is marginally acceptable, 7-8 is a passing grade, 9-10 means you’re a model Catholic, and at 11+ you’re being fitted for your halo. One’s place in the Catholic hierarchy becomes dependent on the size of one’s family.
So what of the family of one or none? Even though this semi-tongue in cheek ranking is never spoken about in polite Catholic society (at least society polite enough to not do so when I’m around) Catholic couples, men and women alike, intrinsically know it and fear it, that is, if they don’t measure up. They automatically qualify their family size.
One woman said, “I have one child, but we really want more…” She then proceeded to explain her difficulties conceiving. Upon. The. First. Meeting.
One man said to me: “We have two, but we wanted more. We love kids!” as though I would think otherwise.
Or modestly with a qualifier, “We have one child. We’re grateful God has allowed us to have one,” the second sentence speaking volumes of, “So don’t think we did this on purpose.”
Why the need to explain?
One woman told me that on the first day of Kindergarten at a Catholic school, another mom said, “Why do you only have one?” She felt compelled to tell this stranger her history of miscarriages and other fertility struggles.
I’ve even fallen prey to this need to explain myself to total strangers. Here’s the typical situation: I’m at a Catholic mom’s group, and, as is typical, there’s at least a half-hour of chit-chat before we all get down to the business of the Bible study, Catholic book discussion, or Miles Christi document review. I’ll exchange names with someone and the small talk inevitable leads to family size. Quite often, “How many kids do you have?” is what immediately follows, “What’s your name?” Like so:
Newly-Met Woman: “So, how many kids do you have?”
Me: “Three.” Watches wheels turn behind the woman’s eyes as she processes this information coupled with my apparent age. I look old enough to have at least six by now. Her face softens as she gives me the benefit of the doubt, thinking I may have gotten married later in life. She tests this theory by her next craftily-worded question that will reveal all she needs to know about me.
NMW: “How old are they?”
Now the jig is up. There’s no hiding my apparent crime now.
Me: “11, 8, and 6.” I hold my breath in anticipation of her next move as I see the corners of her eyes crinkle ever so slightly.
NMW: “Ah,” she says shortly. Her smile seems a lot less natural now. If she doesn’t move on to speak with someone obviously pregnant with triplets, I’m left to flounder my excuse involving an ectopic pregnancy that evidently left me handicapped in the fertility arena, not being able to get pregnant for five years now, etc. I’ve usually lost her by this point, as she sees someone more worthy over my shoulder, ie, a young mother of seven.
I remember a mom of half a dozen at least telling me about a mutual friend pregnant with her fourth, all of which had been two years apart or less thus far. “She’s on track to have a nice big family,” she says to me in approval.
Dear Catholic women and men of large families, we all have our struggles. For some of us, having a large family, or even any children at all, isn’t in the Capital-P Plan. Please don’t assume that those of us slow out of the fertility gate are doing something wrong like using NFP without serious cause, or, heaven forbid, contracepting. Please don’t expect us all to be baby-making machines like the rest of you.
The day I arrived back to work from my honeymoon, a mom asked me if I was pregnant. Another mom told me her husband asked if I was pregnant yet. It took one miscarriage and then another year to have my first child. After which, it took a long time to get pregnant a third time. I suffered endless comments after that first child reached six months (six months!) about how she needed a friend and, “You want to have them close in age so they’ll get along well.”
And here I thought I’d get a reprieve once I’d finally had a child. It didn’t last long. I had to explain to those who had no business knowing, that my cycle took forever to return, after which point, we did indeed conceive right away, but apparently a spacing of more than two years is unacceptable.
My husband has long since stopped telling me when people at his Catholic workplace have asked if we’re expecting again. I suspect that as the years have rolled by, people have long since given up asking too.
More recently, I had the misfortune of commenting how sad it made me to see my husband holding someone’s infant child knowing that I wasn’t able to give him another baby. A father of eight said to me, “That’s on you, Betsy.”
“No, it’s not,” I said, knowing full-well that I was doing nothing to inhibit pregnancy. He apparently begged to differ.
“That’s on you, Bets,” he insisted, with a bob of his head for emphasis, having worked out in his mind that I have no more children because I, and I alone, have decided it that way.
“I have literally no control in the matter,” I told him.
He shook his head sadly, apparently in sorrow at the denial of my own selfishness. It was at that point that I walked away and avoided eye contact with him for the rest of the night. I managed to compartmentalize this encounter until I got home and was ready to cry, rather than have it spoil my evening out with friends.
“So this is what people apparently think of me,” I told my husband. He had no answer or consoling words for me. He, too, understands that this is life in the Catholic bubble. I love my Catholic community, and am so grateful to have it, but, ladies and gentlemen, God does not will large families to us all. Please know that it’s not possible for all of us to keep up with the rest of you model Catholic citizens. Also, note that this is not like Biblical times where women’s apparent infertility is a sign of sin and disfavor from God. On the contrary, He gives each of us suffering as our path to Heaven. For some that cross is more obvious to the outside world, which only adds to its weight.
So the next time you meet someone with only a few children or no children at all, who launches into her fertility history just to prove its not her fault, please put a hand on her shoulder and say, “It’s okay. I know it’s rough, and I’m sorry. I’ll pray for you.”
You have no idea what a breath of fresh air and salve to the wound that would be for women, and their husbands, to hear.
Betsy Kerekes is co-author of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (Ave Maria Press 2013) and 101 Tips for the Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press 2016). She also blogs at Parentingisfunny.wordpress.com.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 14, 2017
'We are separating ourselves from our bodies'
A new survey detailing the extent of casual sex among singles shows many are having intimate relations before the first date, a development that can be blamed in part on technology but leads to tremendous regret and permanently damaged relationships.
This week, the dating service Match released a new survey on sex and singles conducted by Research Now. Included in the data are the revelations that 34 percent of singles have had sex before a first date and that millennials are 48 percent more likely to have sex before a first date than all other generations of singles in order “to see if there is a connection.”
In a USA Today story on the survey, sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson suggests millennials have inverted the relationship process, using sex to determine if they want to pursue anything further with that person.
“We used to think of sex as you crossed the line now, you are in an intimate zone. But now sex is almost a given, and it’s not the intimate part. The intimate part is getting to know someone and going on a date,” Anderson is quoted as saying.
Ruth Institute Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse says the discrepancy between millennials and other singles is that the older ones know better.
“The reason older generations are not [having sex before a first date] is because they have figured out already from experience that this is not a good idea,” Morse told WND and Radio America. “What we’re doing is just one generation of young people after another are having to figure out for themselves that hopping into bed with somebody is a lot more complicated and potentially hurtful than we’re led to believe by the media and stories like this one.”
Morse also said smartphone apps for the explicit purpose of casual sex are contributing to the trend.
“It’s a new thing when you have dating apps or casual sex apps on your cell phone and you can find out if there’s somebody close by who wants to have sex with you. That’s a new thing,” she said.
“The desire to be sexually active has been with us forever obviously, but this way of going about it and the way the culture is pushing people toward sex without any kind of intimacy or friendship, that is something new and, I think, uniquely destructive,” Morse said.
“What we’re trying to do is get away from this message of airbrushing away all the problems and allowing people space and time to say here’s what really happened. ‘Here’s how I really felt after casual sex. Here’s the next step after the first time you have that kind of encounter and then you get kind of swept away in it and are having one encounter after another and they’re not really satisfying you. Here’s where that leads,'” stated Morse.
She said her work shows that personal stories resonate best with young people.
“I think millennials particularly want to hear stories. They don’t care for data. All these numbers aren’t going to touch them one bit,” Morse said. “But if someone who is 35 years old stands in front of them and says, ‘This is how my heart was broken by doing what you’re standing there thinking about doing,’ they just might listen to that.”
Perhaps worst of all, Morse said, is the long-term damage casual sex inflicts on future efforts at meaningful relationships.
“The results of sex are bonding and babies. That’s the natural biological result of sex, bonding and babies,” Morse said. “If people don’t know how to bond with one another, they’re going to have trouble creating lasting, stable relationships for when they do finally want to have babies. Then they’re not going to be ready to really care for their children and give the children the kind of security and attachment that they need.”
She said the impact of poor bonding is also is also felt by the children.
“The kind of damage that’s going to happen to children of people who can’t form relationships is really hard to predict just how bad that can be,” Morse said. “Honestly, I don’t see a floor under this elevator. We’re still going down.”
Posted on: Monday, September 12, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on September 12, 2016.
Those of us who live in prosperous countries may not realize the full impact of the contraceptive ideology around the world.
You know the ideology I mean: everyone old enough to give meaningful consent is entitled to unlimited sex without a live baby showing up. We tend to think governments should allow people to obtain any form of contraception they want. We don’t realize that governments around the world, including and especially our own US government, have done far more than that. They have actively promoted contraception and even forced people to limit their childbearing.
As a devout Catholic, I believe the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life and the sacredness of the sexual act are good, humane and true. For holding these beliefs, I am accustomed to being a public punching bag (metaphorically of course). I am undaunted.
Pope Paul VI was prophetic in 1968 when he restated what had always been the ancient teaching of all the Christian churches. His landmark encyclical, Humanae Vitae, was correct.
In paragraph 17 of Humanae Vitae, called Consequences of Artificial Methods, Blessed Pope Paul (he was beatified by Pope Francis after the Synod on the Family in 2014,) makes a series of predictions. All of them have come to pass.
We have indeed seen an “increase in marital infidelity” and a “general lowering of moral standards.” Who can deny that we have obliterated the incentives for “young people to avoid temptation?” or that men have “lost their reverence for women?”
But it is Paul VI’s analysis of the misuse of governmental power that is truly prophetic.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
I have often wondered how this seemingly far-fetched thought occurred to Blessed Pope Paul. Perhaps a meeting with John D. Rockefeller III in 1965 had something to do with it.
John D. Rockefeller III was an avid proponent of population control. He worked hard to neutralize the opposition of the Catholic Church throughout the 1960’s. He cultivated relationships with faculty and staff at Notre Dame, even sponsoring conferences there. His friend, Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh, arranged the papal audience in July of 1965.
Rockefeller was perhaps accustomed to religious leaders swooning over his wealth and power. (Metaphorically, of course.) We don’t really know what took place at this meeting. But we do know from a letter Rockefeller wrote that he volunteered advice to the pontiff for his upcoming encyclical (which became Humanae Vitae) and that he gushed about the need for population control. I can imagine the Holy Father, cultured European gentleman that he was, being shocked by the presumption of this brash, rich American. Perhaps it was this very meeting that persuaded Paul VI of the danger of morally sanctioned birth control in the hands of people like Rockefeller, and the governments they might be able to influence.
In any case, look at how correct Paul VI proved to be about the dangers of government’s imposing their will to override people’s genuine reproductive rights.
The Obama administration spent an estimated $23 million illegally lobbying Kenyan lawmakers and bribing opinion makers to legalize abortion in their country—and succeeded. The current president of the Philippines has proposed a “Three Child Policy,” in a country that has experienced amazing increases in prosperity and living conditions without any such policy. The Catholic Bishops of Africa have spoken out against these new forms of ideological colonialism. A Nigerian bishop has claimed that the US refused to help them fight Boko Haram, unless the Nigerians accept U.S. policies on birth control.
And China’s One Child Policy: what can one say? The Chinese Birth Control Police is arguably the largest law enforcement organization in the world with 1.2 million “cadres” and about 500,000 professional bureaucrats. Make no mistake: the One Child Policy has not gone away, just because the People in Power have decreed that some people get to have 2 children instead of 1. People still need Birth Permits. Pregnant women are still dragged off the streets and forcibly aborted. Couples with an “illegal child” may have their homes destroyed.
Oh heck, just watch this four minute video and see what I mean.
Hideous ideas have hidden behind the widespread social approval of contraception. Religious figures still allow themselves to be used by the rich and powerful of the world. George Soros tried to influence the media coverage around Pope Francis’ visit to the US, by dumping money into Catholic front groups. Even now, a group of dissenting Catholics are planning to present a “new” report on the ethics of using contraception at a UN-hosted meeting on September 20. Their goal: “to encourage the Catholic hierarchy to reverse her stance against so called “artificial” contraceptives.”
And where are the feminists while women are being forcibly aborted and sterilized? AWOL. And what about the libertarians? What do these freedom-loving people have to say about governments requiring permits, for the most personal of human rights, having a child? Crickets. The Catholic Church is the only major institution in the world offering even token resistance.
That is why I am proud to be a Catholic, not in spite of her teachings on the sanctity of human life and the sexual act, but because of them