Matt C. Abbott
Why I'm not jumping on the Palin bandwagon
By Matt C. Abbott
February 21, 2010

I know Sarah Palin is popular among many conservatives, and, all things considered, I can understand why. She's attractive, smart (despite how the liberals and the mainstream media portray her) and seems to share the values conservatives hold dear. Oh...she's feisty, too.

But I'm still not sold. Maybe enthusiastic is the better word.

Yes, I suppose she has a chance to defeat Obama in 2012, should she choose to run. And should it end up being a close race — that's a big "if" at this point — I'd likely vote for her.

What bothers me about Palin: Yes, she opposes legalized abortion and embryonic stem cell research, but I'm troubled by a statement she made in 2006 regarding the use of contraception (I can just see the rolling eyes of conservatives who regard this topic as myopic — or worse).

Palin was asked: "In a recent survey you said that you would support abstinence-until-marriage education but that you would not support explicit sex-ed programs. What are explicit sex-ed programs, and does that include talking about condoms in school?"

She responded: "No, I don't think that it includes something that is relatively benign. Explicit means explicit. No, I am pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I'm not anti-contraception. But yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don't have a problem with that. That doesn't scare me, so it's something that I would support also." (Source)

Her response opens up a can of worms. First, when Palin says she is "pro-contraception," is she referring to abortifacient birth control as well as barrier contraception? I'm not aware of anyone asking her to clarify her position — and, frankly, I fear there are few conservatives who would do so. Yet it's an important position because if she doesn't have a problem with abortifacient birth control, she can't be considered truly pro-life. Even if Palin does oppose abortifacient birth control, she apparently doesn't oppose the use of condoms, and that's also problematic.

In addition to being contrary to the natural law, condoms are not very reliable. Brian Clowes, Ph.D., director of research for Human Life International, wrote an essay on the subject. A few highlights from Dr. Clowes' essay:

  • Condoms break and slip off;

  • They age. One study found that the breakage rate for condoms increased from 3.6 percent for new condoms to as high as 18.6 percent for condoms several years old.

  • They deteriorate in even the best of conditions, but even more rapidly in extremely cold or hot situations. Condom wrappers recommend storing the product at temperatures between 59 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. One researcher found that, at major condom distribution points in New Jersey and New York, boxes of condoms were left outdoors in the ice and snow during the dead of winter. During the summer months, the researcher took photographs of eggs frying on the floors of dozens of trucks and containers where condoms were stored in temperatures exceeding 180 degrees. High temperatures cause oxidation and freezing temperatures cause crystallization in some of the chemical compounds that make up condoms, leading to cracking, drying, shrinking and drastic loss of flexibility and strength. Keep in mind that condoms exported from the United States sit in uninsulated shipping containers in extreme weather conditions for even longer periods of time;

  • If taken out of the package and left unused for a long period of time, they are liable to ozone deterioration, which causes damage invisible to the eye;

  • Improper use of oil-based lubricants can degrade them;

  • They get broken in their packages;

  • They have allowed rates of manufacturing defects. The present acceptable quality limit (AQL) for North American condom manufacturers is 99.6 percent of condoms free of leaks. The British AQL is 97 percent, and the Dutch AQL is 96.5 percent;

  • The users are caught up in passion and do not properly follow the ten- to sixteen-step process for safe usage;

  • The users are compromised by the use of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, or exhaustion; and

  • Bodily secretions can get around and over a condom even if it performs perfectly.

And, of course, despite what the pro-aborts claim, more contraception always leads to more abortions! As Dr. Clowes writes in The Facts of Life:

    'Since the 1930s, pro-abortion leaders have admitted that an increase in contraceptive availability inevitably leads to an increase in promiscuity and therefore abortions....

    'The thinking behind this phenomenon at the individual level is quite straightforward. Once a couple starts using contraception, they make lifestyle changes and commitments that do not allow room for children. When contraception fails and they become pregnant, their 'life plan' wins out over their preborn children. Additionally, they have been conditioned to see their preborn child not as a gift from God, but as a 'contraceptive failure' or a 'mistake.' Since the contraceptive method has failed them, they feel cheated and therefore 'entitled' to an abortion as a form of compensation....'

    '...As shown previously, countless intimate legal, medical and practical connections exist between contraception and abortion. But all of these links pale in comparison to the most important connection of all: The fact that the very same belief system and psychology that accepts contraception also readily accepts abortion. Most people (including most Christians) use contraception for one or more of several reasons: They can't afford a baby, they have problems with their relationships, they want to avoid single parenthood, they aren't ready for the responsibility, they have all the children they want and they are concerned about how a child (or another child) would change their lives.

    'These are exactly the same reasons women use to justify having abortions...Underlying them all is the fundamental denial of God's plan for children in our lives. People today want to 'plan' their families. But who can better plan a family than God?

    'Why does a couple contracept? Because they don't want a child. Why don't they want a child? Because they have made important plans for their lives. And when contraception fails, the resulting 'unplanned' child is seen as an intruder, one who will spoil the couple's carefully laid plans. And when a couple has denied God's plan for their lives once through contraception, it is so much easier to do it again through abortion.

    'As Mother Teresa of Calcutta observed, 'In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.''

Now, I realize that it will be a cold day in hell before we have a contraception-opposing candidate who has a realistic chance of winning the presidency. Heck, we're fortunate if we have a pro-life candidate who doesn't have rape and incest exceptions!

The sad fact is that pro-lifers who oppose legalized abortion and contraception are in the minority and probably will remain so, barring an act of God, until the end of time.

That's why I don't put my faith in, nor am I enthusiastic about, politics. It's almost always a case of voting for the "lesser evil." (Or, as Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life puts it, " choosing to limit an evil, you are choosing a good.")

It's also why I'm not jumping on the Sarah Palin bandwagon.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


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