What should US policy be in regards to contraception?
Since the United States was founded on the Populism articulated in the Declaration of Independence, that is where Populists of all faiths should turn.
The Declaration of Independence cites the authority for the founding of the US in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
What are these laws? And what can they tell us about contraception?
Natural Law is the duty of mankind to seek its teleological end, the end for which it was created. Man’s teleological end is God. However, according to Populist thought, the pursuit of God is the province of the Church, not the State. In fact, the State is considered not competent to address such issues (unlike in Christendom, which did occasionally execute citizens for heresy). Whether a man has a strong relationship with God, no relationship in God, or even no belief in God is not the business of the State.
The State opens the door of Liberty to the free practice of religion and allows the citizen to walk through. Accordingly, the Church is competent to give more detailed directives and more thoroughly reasoned positions on Natural Law. Furthermore, it is not the duty of the State to prohibit every possible violation of the Natural Law which, by its own admission, it has less insight into than the Church does. Such comprehensive criminalization would result in the necessity of building a police state, which would violate the right to Liberty.
Catholicism understands its rejection of contraception as a yes to a deeper love — the love that Jesus Christ exhibited by dying on the Cross for all of our sins.
However, the State does have some insight into “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
The State’s concern is simply this: that man should be treated as an end in himself by both himself and others.
Sex and procreation form a uniquely joint role in Natural Law theory for a reason. Through sex open to procreation, the husband and wife make a gift of each other — not using each other but giving of themselves to each other and holding nothing back (a permanent, understood, chosen, full self-gift open to life).
That is the only context in which both people are being treated as an end in themselves rather than being used for pleasure. This self-gift happens to be life-giving, creating a human being that is endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. In this scenario, no one (neither the child nor either parent) is using the other for their own end.
It is not okay according to Populism to use a human being to satisfy oneself rather than treating them as an end in themself. You may not enslave them, abort them, create them in laboratories because you feel entitled to them, experiment on them in NAZI concentration camps, create them for the purpose of experimenting on them via embryo-destructive research, or kill their parents. Each of these actions violates the Right to Life, Liberty, or the pursuit of Happiness. Because these things are violations of Natural Rights, a Populist state is obliged to prohibit them by virtue of its mission.
Under no circumstances under Natural Law theory should sex be separated from procreation (or this is, in effect, using the other sexual partner for pleasure) or procreation be separated from sex (because this is creating the child in an unnatural way without their consent for the purpose of fulfilling some whim). Contraception is a clear violation of Natural Law although it is not a violation of Natural Rights.
Now, unlike Natural Rights, which the State is obliged to protect, Natural Laws can be made illegal or not illegal according to prudential judgment. But the government should not endorse any action by recognition that specifically treats people as if they are not ends unto themselves. The government, in other words, may take two actions in regard to contraception. It can remain neutral by neither prohibiting it nor endorsing it — an unenforced Natural Law (these are common). Or it could make contraception illegal.
From 1873 to 1936, contraception was illegal in the United States under the Comstock Act, which also banned pornography. This law had garnered strong support partially due to the Third Great Awakening. In 1936, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger won a Supreme Court decision — United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessiaries — that overturned the law. The Courts claimed that the ban on contraception violated the free speech right of the 1st Amendment. They allowed the ban on pornography to stand.
The ruling was a clear violation of Originalist Judicial philosophy. However, it left the United States neutral on contraception, an acceptable position from a Populist position. In 1960, the FDA certified the Pill for use as a contraceptive pharmaceutical to treat fertility. All pharmaceuticals have serious side effects so the decision was controversial since fertility is not a disease. The Pill is the only pharmaceutical prescribed to women who are completely healthy without the intention of preventing disease. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed Title X funding, which has promoted contraception with taxpayer dollars ever since.
The US should end Title X and repeal the FDA claim that the Pill is a pharmaceutical.
That is the Populist policy.