Just when one begins to believe that science has pushed the God-playing envelope to the limits, it seems as though the proverbial envelope sprouts wings. Since the decriminalization of contraception in the 1965 case, Griswold vs. Connecticut, the smorgasbord of contraceptive medications and devices has reached an excessive number. From the Pill, to the patch, to the shot, to the sponge, to the ring, to IUDs and beyond, the average gynecology patient is left overwhelmed with the various ways to engage in an active sex life without the “risk” of pregnancy. But, wait. There is more. What is next in the Wonderful World of “Reproductive Freedom?” Ladies, allow me to introduce you to The Chip.
A contraceptive microchip was initially developed by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s as a method of gradually releasing chemicals to help with osteoporosis. Bill Gates proposed the use of this technology in 2012 as yet another method of birth control. The chip, whose development is largely funded by the Gates Foundation, may be implanted in the arm, abdomen, or buttocks. It contains enough levonorgestrel to last the wearer 16 years, and is released in daily doses. If the wearer decides she may want to become pregnant during those 16 years, the device may be turned off from a remote control.
MicroCHIPS, the company in charge of the production of the contraceptive microchip, plans to have the chip on the market by 2018, provided it makes it through clinical trials, and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The dosage could be remotely controlled by a doctor. A developer of the chip insists that it has a secure encryption, so the risk of hacking, he claims, is impossible. And yet, many recall that hacking in to the U.S. Government was supposedly impossible – an assumption disproved by Edward Snowden.
It is almost as if we are in a futuristic novel. There are already ethical issues with contraception in general, including potential links to cancer as well as sometimes preventing an embryo from implantation. The chip would take ethics to a new low, reducing the human body into a machine to be controlled. Despite the fact that the chip may be turned off as easily as an iPod, the fact remains that there is literally an electronic foreign object in a woman’s body that is made to manipulate the body’s natural process. And, anyone who has ever operated a Windows Computer (and witnessed it crash in the middle of a college final, for example) knows, electronics cannot always be counted on.
While many can speak of the countless amazing and ethical doctors out there, I cannot help but wonder about those who perhaps have ascribed to the ever-common population control theory. Since these microchips are painless and simple to insert, is it feasible to think that perhaps they may be implanted during a routine PAP smear without the patient ever knowing? I certainly hope not.
What is the greatest concern, perhaps, are the dozens of writers who are lauding this technology as one of the greatest advances in modern medicine. First of all, Bill and Melinda Gates are not doctors, and their personal vendetta to perfect contraception, of all things, is a mystery to many, myself included. Why is there a need for yet another method of contraception? While the Gates have been known to blame many of the world’s problems on a lack of access to contraception, their seemingly militant one-sided pet project to expand access to “120 million women and girls in the poorest countries” has been to simply inject or implant women with long term contraceptives that in America are not often used due to their severe and dangerous side effects. Melinda Gates said, “I have been able to do the things that made me happiest, because I have been able to decide when to have my children. Bill and I love our kids so much, and we’re grateful that we had the option of expressing our love by timing our pregnancies.” When are people going to wake up and realize that contraception is not going to solve any problems? And why, WHY would anyone think that it is a good idea to microchip oneself?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude” (no. 1731). Free will is a beautiful gift, endowed by God, not to be taken for granted or profaned. One of the most disturbing aspects of this contraceptive microchip is, in my opinion, the relinquishing of free will. Now an electronic device (which other human beings potentially have access to) is controlling one’s fertility. In the 1988 apostolic letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatem, Pope Saint John Paul II recalls that woman’s nature is to welcome life (whether that be biological or spiritual motherhood). This new technology not only prevents women from welcoming new life, but potentially also gives others the power to make that most intimate of decisions.
President John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” How true this is about the “family planning” myth. Contraception is no longer even a question of ethics is so many arenas. It is simply accepted without question. In the name of liberation and reproductive freedom, women are on a fast track to reduce their bodies to robots to be control, relinquishing their free will. The future has arrived, ladies. It’s time to reclaim who He called us to be and own our dignity with grace and reverence.