MUST-HEAR: Jennifer Roback Morse on contraceptives, divorce, cohabitation, SSM and ART

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

I often tease women for being too focused on happiness and feelings, but Dr. J isn’t like that at all. She is all about economics, incentives, and moral boundaries. She thinks about the big issues. She once chastised me in an e-mail for being too emotional. I think she has had it with the feelings-based arguments from the socially-liberal left.

This lecture does not repeat much from her previous lectures.


The MP3 file is here. (93 minutes, 43.5 Mb)

Keep in mind that this speech was given to Wisconsin Catholic seminarians, so there is a lot of rah-rah Catholic stuff. I’m an evangelical Protestant, so I just smile when she talks about that. At least there was no Mary in it. Yay!


– contraception does not reduce the abortion rate
– contraception is bad because it makes sex a recreational activity
– contraception fails, which leads to the need for abortion
– 80% of abortions are done on unmarried women
– teenagers do not think that contraceptives will FAIL for them
– they don’t understand that the probabilities is PER ACTION – more actions increases probability
– the more you rely on something that has a small chance of failure, the more chance you will get a failure
– more sex, means more chances for a person to get a failure
– older women are naturally less fertile, so they skew contraceptive effectiveness figures higher
– contraceptives are most likely to fail for the young, the poor and the unmarried
– contraception means that women cannot ask men to promise to marry them before sex
– the pressure for a man to marry if the woman gets pregnant is gone
– the presumption is that the woman will have an abortion
– women who want to get married are at a disadvantage to get male attention now
– because men will prefer women who are willing to have an abortion if they get pregnant
– when people argue for these social changes, they don’t accurately assess consequences
– they think that they can have the happiness-making freedom without damaging anything else
– they think that no incentives will be created so that others start to act differently
– example: no-fault divorce – there were terrible consequences that were minimized by the social engineers

– people who wanted this believed myths in order to get the happiness-making freedom for the adults
– they said that divorce would be less harmful for children than if the parents stayed together
– they argued for no-fault divorce because they wanted happiness and didn’t care about children
– in a low conflict marriage, it is better for children if the parents stay together
– in a high-conflict marriage, it is better for children to divorce
– but for high-conflict divorce, you could have gotten a divorce for cause
– what people pushing no-fault divorce really wanted was to divorce to pursue happiness elsewhere
– there is also a financial incentive to divorce for no reason – alimony, child support, property
– but divorce really disrupts the lives of the children
– the VAST MAJORITY of divorces are in low-conflict situations
– the social norm was that low-level conflict meant that you stayed married for the sake of the kids
– a pregnancy after a re-marriage is devastating to children of the first marriage
– not being able to have a normal relationship with both biological parents is devastating to children
– what often drives people into co-habitation is the fear of screwing up their own marriages
– pro-divorce people want women to re-marry afterwards to provide kids with a “father-figure”
– the presence of a stepfather increases bad behavior in the kids, as well as risk of abuse
– but actually, stepfathers spend little time with kids, and draws mother away from the kids
– biological fathers spend the most time with the children
– disciplining the children is more complex with a non-bio dad
– normally, dads wants the kids to behave, and moms want the children to be happy
– often, the woman will forbid the father from disciplining the children
– the father will just drop out of parenting completely when his authority is not respected

– social engineers understate the risks of co-habitation and overstate the risks of marriage
– but research shows that co-habitation makes no positive contribution to marriage
– feminists love to say that marriage is very risky, but without comparing it to alternatives
(feminists don’t like marriage because of the “unequal gender roles”)
– when compared with the alternatives, like co-habitation, marriage is better on every measure
– feminists say that married women do not report abuse in marriage, that’s why marriage LOOKS better
– but murders HAVE TO BE reported, and co-habitation results in NINE TIMES more murders than marriage
– children are killed FIFTY TIMES more with co-habitation with an unrelated adult than with 2 bio-parents
– the live-in boyfriend is the culprit in 85% of these cases

Same-sex marriage:
– alternatives to marriage change rules and incentives, it is NOT the same thing as marriage
– necessarily, one of the parents will not have a close relationship with one bio-parents
– social engineers say that mothers and fathers are interchangeable – but they are different
– SSM undermines the presumption of paternity, and substitutes state-ordered parenting
– the public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers to fathers, and parents to children
– SSM elevates private purposes for marriage over and above the public purpose of marriage
– SSM will lead to fathers being marginalized from the family
– the state will have to force people to equate SSM and natural marriage

Artificial reproductive technology:
– it is the next substitute for marriage
– highly educated career women do not have to prepare for a husband to get a baby
– her behavior through her life changes because she doesn’t have to care about marriage

3 thoughts on “MUST-HEAR: Jennifer Roback Morse on contraceptives, divorce, cohabitation, SSM and ART”

  1. “Contraception is bad because it makes sex a recreational activity.”

    Wintery, this point makes no sense at all. Sex IS a recreational activity. It always has been a recreational activity. Even your special hero, William Lane Craig, says so on his website to a young couple considering marriage.

    Out of five points, his second piece of advice is to delay having children. He says, “Delay having children. The first years of marriage are difficult enough on their own without introducing the complication of children. Once children come, the wife’s attention is necessarily diverted, and huge stresses come upon you both. Spend the first several years of marriage getting to know each other, working through your issues, having fun together, and enjoying that intimate love relationship between just the two of you. Jan and I waited ten years before having our first child Charity, which allowed me the finish graduate school, get our feet on the ground financially, establish some roots, and enjoy and build our love relationship until we were really ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. The qualifier here is that if the wife desperately wants children now, then the husband should accede to her wish to become a mother, rather than withhold that from her. Her verdict should be decisive. But if you both can agree to wait, things will probably be much easier.”

    Later on, he counsels couples to take steps to build intimacy in their relationship.

    “Wives: You need to realize what your husband’s #1 need in marriage is, what he wants most from you: sex! Yes, frequent, enthusiastic sex! If you do this, you will have a happy hubby, indeed. Unfortunately, here we confront one of those huge disconnects between men and women (you know, the Venus and Mars thing). A man achieves intimacy with the woman he loves through sexual intercourse; but a woman views intimacy as a pre-requisite for sexual intercourse. So if you’re sensing emotional distance from your spouse, what do you do? You seem to be at an impasse. If you find yourselves in this situation, then my advice is that it is the wife who should yield and be open to her husband’s advances. Otherwise what you’re doing is using sex as a weapon: saying in effect, “You first meet my emotional needs or I’m going to withhold sex from you.” That’s manipulative and unloving. Sometime after having sex, you can then raise the issues with him that you feel have created an emotional distance between you and seek to resolve them.

    Husbands: For your part, you need to remember what you’re asking your wife to do in letting you have sexual intercourse with her: you’re asking her to let you literally enter her body. It’s hard to imagine an act that displays more vulnerability and surrender than that. Therefore you need to do all you can to build a relationship of intimacy and trust that enables her to yield to you happily. So how do you do that? Romance? Sure; but here we encounter another huge disconnect. When I as a man think of romance, I think of candlelight dinner, soft music, a moonlight walk on the beach. But to my wife those things are just externals. None of those things is to her the heart of romance. For her the heart of romance is: talking to her! Yes, just taking the time to talk with her and so to connect on an emotional level. That means setting aside, say, a half hour a day just to talk with her. The problem is, that can itself also become just one more thing to do, one more external. What’s key is that during that time you connect emotionally with each other.”

    Care to reevaluate, WK?


    1. This is a pretty well-argued comment. I could agree with you for married couples, but my concern is about unmarried people having sex for fun and then they are not ready for a baby, which is anything but fun, and requires lots of money, effort, time, etc. I have a pet bird. I know how they change your life and reduce your freedom. People need to be in a position to love a new little dependent life before they start having sex. Well, that’s my view anyway.

      Still though – great comment. It’s GOOD when you quote my authorities against me. Persuasive!


  2. The part about the sterility of sex and society’s views regarding this activity were very intriguing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s