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Posts Tagged ‘contraception’

Just so we’re clear, the Catholic Church is right: contraception is wrong.  It does not reduce abortions; contraception increases abortions.  It does not improve marriages by removing the risk of unwanted children, it destroys marriages.  No, contraception isn’t really contraception all the time: when the Pill fails to prevent ovulation, it prevents implantation of the days-old child by reducing the uterine lining, around 25% of the time.  Which means that women on the Pill, if we assume around a 1/3 chance of pregnancy (conception and successful implantation, the advice given in NFP that “if you haven’t gotten pregnant in three cycles, something might be wrong”), then women on the Pill, especially younger women, generally more fertile and sexually active, may be averaging an abortion a year.  And when the Obama administration says “contraceptive services”, they include post-sex contraceptives, which are large doses of the usual chemicals, which will either prevent ovulation or abort a just-conceived child.

But the issue isn’t really contraception.

I suppose I should start farther back, with Obamacare itself.  The pro-life movement was up in arms, crying that any government takeover of health care would end in taxpayer-funded abortions and contraception.  “Oh, what a bunch of worrywarts!” scoffed most of the bishops and many members of Congress.  In some cases, anti-Obamacare advocates were maligned as “anti-poor”.  We were assured, “Mandatory abortion or contraceptive coverage?  That’ll never happen!”

Well, your Eminences, welcome to the “never” your encouragement of Obamacare has created.

While I’m thrilled to hear that every single Catholic bishop in the U.S., along with a good many Protestant leaders, including people who suppported Obama, have issued statements against the contraception mandate, I’m a bit underwhelmed.  Abortion and contraception have been rampant in this country for decades, and the bishops and priests have largely failed to fight them.  It isn’t a moral triumph to finally acknowledge that you ignored people being killed or maimed after they’re dead.  Better late than never, but better on time.

But back to the mandate.  Contrary to our dying local paper, the problem isn’t that there wasn’t an exemption for houses of worship.  Actual churches would be exempt from the mandate, since they employ and serve almost exclusively people of their own faith.  The problem was that absolutely nobody and nothing else would be exempt.

Our local paper condescendingly allowed that if churches insisted on not paying for contraception for the women who worked in the parish office, fine.  However, the editorial went on, when the churches do “secular work” like taking care of migrants, adoption placements, hospitals, schools, etc., then they weren’t really churches anymore, and, thus, had no right to ask that their religious beliefs be respected.  They have to play by the secular laws when they do secular functions, “reasoned” the editors.  (Which takes us back to the Obama administration’s preference for “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion”.  They aren’t the same thing.)

EWTN is suing the federal government, since they don’t qualify for an exemption, but they are adamantly opposed to contraception in general, and paying for it in particular.  Since the Catholic TV network is not directly controlled by an order or a diocese (there were power struggles with the USCCB trying to claim it, so it went private some time ago, although many members of the board are clergy), it wouldn’t even qualify for consideration of an exemption.  So, while they air programs explaining how contraception destroys marriages and is frequently abortifacient (and therefore murder), they would be required to participate in (i.e. pay for) an insurance program that offers free contraception to EWTN’s employees.  In Catholic moral discussions, we describe this as levels of “cooperation with sin”.  Just because you didn’t choose the evil, if you facilitated or encouraged it, you are still somewhat culpable.

I would note that EWTN has hit the nail on the head, when many bishops have missed a bit.  The problem isn’t that Catholic Charities or your local Catholic school (or any of the Protestant organizations or ministries similarly tied to denominations that do not approve of contraception) shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t believe is moral.  Most bishops are clear that those types of organizations should not be forced to violate their moral principles in order to avoid massive, coercive government fines.

The problem is deeper.  I (and you, by the way), as a normal citizen, would be required to buy health insurance from a company that is mandated to provide certain services that I believe to be deeply immoral.  Today, it’s contraception and the early chemical abortifacients.  What comes tomorrow?

If Obamacare and the latest mandate stand, Catholic social services will shut down across the country.  Schools, hospitals, etc.  The Obama administration already yanked a federal grant for human trafficking assistance, because the USCCB (US Council of Catholic Bishops) office wouldn’t provide abortions to the rape and prostitution victims it rescued (never mind their excellent record of service spanning decades).  A number of local Catholic Charities adoption agencies (and, presumably, a number of other, smaller agencies with similar reservations but less publicity) have closed because they refused to call gay “marriage” a legitimate family arrangement and place children for adoption in such families.  The religious agencies are forced to shut down as unprofessional or anti-regulation, and the government increasingly gets to hand out the goodies of social services.

The alternate allegiance to the church that helped you is shifted to the all-powerful government.

All of this goes to emphasize the brilliance of the foundation of both the Constitution and Catholic social teachings.  In Church documents, we call it subsidiarity: the idea that issues should be dealt with at the lowest level possible, for reasons of efficiency, personal relationships, and proper power and responsibility allocation.  The government was never meant to be the all-powerful, omnipresent force in everybody’s lives that it has become.

Archbishop Chaput, as always, clarifies the problem.  It isn’t, he argues, that this mandate was ill-advised in an election year or poorly thought-out:

But it’s clear that such actions are developing into a pattern. Whether it was the administration’s early shift toward the anemic language of “freedom of worship” instead of the more historically grounded and robust concept of “freedom of religion” in key diplomatic discussions; or its troubling effort to regulate religious ministers recently rejected 9-0 by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna Tabor case; or the revocation of the U.S. bishops’ conference human-trafficking grant for refusing to refer rape victims to abortion clinics, it seems obvious that this administration is – to put it generously – tone deaf to people of faith.

I’m guardedly optimistic that the USCCB has decided to reconsider what else they’ve supported when they’ve embraced Democratic politicians for their social programs but ignored their other positions.  If we’re only going to defend the rights of religiously affiliated organizations to have conscience protection, though, we’re missing the point again, and we’ll be discussing the next “surprising” anti-Christian piece of regulation shortly.

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Ah, the liberal media….

Ever since I was a plebe at Canoe U., many, many years ago, I have been a regular subscriber to a local paper (except, of course, when the Navy had me deployed somewhere).  Sure, the regular liberal spin and bias was annoying, so I wrote letters to the editor on occasion, and opened the paper to regular mutterings of, “Really?  THAT’S the best you can do?!”

Recently, our local paper has shrunk, both in thickness and size, due to “budget constraints”.  Read: “we’re losing subscribers.”  I can’t imagine why… I mean, besides the condescending attitude towards the military.  And the regular three or four page Sunday exposes on majorly depressing issues (isn’t there anything good to report on in-depth?).  Oh, yeah, and the nasty misrepresentations of conservatives, pro-lifers, and the Tea Party.  The removal of conservative Michelle Malkin as too abrasive, or something, but the regular printing of liberal Maureen Dowd, whose main goal in life seems to be tearing down the Catholic Church in as hateful a way as she can manage.  Then there was the promotion of Planned Parenthood as somewhere to go to get the big-pharma pushed cervical cancer vaccine (as if real doctors offices didn’t have it available) and regular printing of pro-abortion letters from a local “concerned grandma” who just happens to be the wife of the very well-paid director of Planned Parenthood of SE Virginia (she used to be their communications director, too), but why on earth should the paper mention that?  And the dropping of national, syndicated, talented editorial cartoonists, in exchange for promoting the local “sketch guy at large” with a penchant for being snarky to the editorial page in a budget-cutting measure.  Then there was the “Beck watchers are idiots” editorial, and…

I had to agree with the guy on the phone that, yes, “But we have coupons!” was one of the paper’s last selling points.  Until yesterday, that and the comics was good enough.

This Sunday, on the way home from church, my husband was reading the paper as usual, when he got to the “You have got to be kidding me, no coupon is worth paying for this kind of crap to be delivered to us regularly” editorial cartoon. I mean, the cartoonist doesn’t even seem to understand what the issue is… except that he thinks Catholic women are repressed because the Church doesn’t promote chemical contraceptives/abortifacients (and the Pill is an abortifacient in its secondary effects).  Which isn’t what the whole contraceptives mandate brouhaha is about at all.

So, good-bye Virginian-Pilot.  You never did have a very solid grasp of reason or reality, so I’m sure you’ll be confused as to why your readership continues to drop.  Your coupons were good, your plastic delivery bags are great poop-scoops for the dog, and, lacking newsprint, I’m not sure what I’ll use to clean mirrors.

But paying to be insulted regularly just isn’t worth it.

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Apparently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi enjoys the taste of shoe leather.  First, she insisted that she knew more about Catholic theology than the Catholic Church, and continued to insist (loudly and publicly) on her allegedly Catholic wisdom after the bishops corrected her grossly flawed “understanding” of abortion in Catholic thought for the last two thousand years.  Now, she’s insisting that she knows how to fix the economy.

How, pray tell?  Kill babies.

Strangely, Speaker Pelosi doesn’t seem to have figured out that the usual politician response when an uproar breaks out because people actually noticed that you said something really, really dumb is, “I misspoke; what I meant to say was…”  Instead, she keeps right on chewing on the shoe on the foot in her mouth.

Asked how sending money to Planned Parenthood ($200 million for contraceptives and “family planning” in the bailout package) qualified as an economic stimulus, Speaker Pelosi elaborated, “Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs.”

As the business section loves to tell us, “One of the worst economic mistakes you can make is to have a child.  Worse yet, have two!  Yikes!  What will happen to your retirement?  And think of all the stuff babies need!  That’s expensive!”

Want to know what really happens to your retirement with no children?  Ask Japan.  They’re so panicked about their crashing population (and shrinking workforce), companies are sending workers home early, hoping it will encourage them to have more children.  Given how ingrained it is in their current culture, however, it doesn’t really seem to me that this will be anywhere near enough to halt the unprecidented greying of their population.  (They have acheived the dubious distinction of being the society with the oldest median age ever.)

Let’s be clear here: what the “family planning” services do is reduce births, which is how they reduce the costs of health care, education, etc.  It’s not a baby, it’s just a drain on the economy.  (What’s next?  Mandatory euthanasia?  End of life care is vastly more expensive than “well baby” check-ups.)  Of course, in twenty years or so, that “useless” baby will most likely be a productive worker and taxpayer.  (Or are we assuming that only “those people’s” babies will be aborted or contracepted, the ones who won’t be “productive” enough to have rights?)

“Family planning” is yet another nasty little euphemism we use, sort of like “planned parenthood.”  What we mean, of course, is contraception and abortion.  There is no planning for parenthood, only for the avoidance of it at all costs.

The fact that Speaker Pelosi could even suggest this with a straight face on national tv is a sad, sad commentary on the state of our country.  We’ve lived with the Culture of Death for so long, the skeleton doesn’t even have to be hidden anymore.

President Obama, in a magnanimous gesture, has graciously allowed that the Planned Parenthood bailout ($200 million in the bailout package) can be removed as a nice gesture to Republicans (after a huge backlash to the wastefulness and moral inappropriateness of using the bailout to prop up Planned Parenthood).

I can’t wait to see what the second half of this “generous” compromise is going to be.

 

Oh, wait, news just in: no more compromises will be forthcoming.  Speaker Pelosi has succeeded in getting the stimulus through.  The House just passed the economic “stimulus” bill, including $400 million for global warming research, $335 million for STD prevention (would we be surprised if Planned Parenthood was profitting from that?), $650 million for digital tv converstions, and $1 billion for Amtrak (which has never been anything but a money sink), among other useless expenditures.

Not a single Republican voted for it, and only eleven Democrats voted against it.

I wonder if Pelosi will treat us to a victory speech?  I hope she salted her shoes.

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(Post script as pre script: Some of you are not going to like this one.  I thought about not publishing it.  And I thought of Matt 10:33 (RSV), “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”  I try to keep my tongue in check and remain charitable, but you’ll have to be the judge of that.  But I will not delete it because I may lose some of my tiny readership.  (thanks to all ten or so of you, by the way.)  The post is true, even if it’s a difficult topic for many people.)

Back at the Academy, when a large group of midshipmen were acting up, the joke was, “They can’t fry us all.”  (“To fry” someone was to write them up, assign demerits, and usually get put on restriction, including musters in uniform several times a day to make sure you hadn’t left the campus.  Generally something you wanted to avoid.  And yes, in fact, they could fry everyone.)

I was reminded of this saying while reading blogs the other day.  Specifically, someone was complaining about the Catholic Church’s stance on birth control (she’s not the only one, I should note; it’s many people’s favorite gripe about the Church).  Summary: “I don’t want twelve kids!  I can’t afford more than three!  How dare these men tell me what to do?  It’s environmentally irresponsible to not promote birth control drugs!  What about overpopulation, or the poor in Africa?  How dare they claim that natural methods of birth control make people happier!?”  And people duly wrote in to laugh and make jokes about Catholics with too many kids, asssuring themselves that they had company in their sin.  It was, in short, all the usual excuses for rejecting the Church’s teachings on birth control without really thinking about it.

Why does sin look for company?  Or approval?  Or laughs?  We’ve got guilty consciences, I guess, and we all feel a little less guilty if someone else is doing it, too.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I had considered birth control back when I was about to get married.  I, too, thought it was irresponsible to rely on the “outdated” rythym method when my husband and I were about to become naval officers, with precious little time to be raising a baby if the method didn’t work.  Yeah, I’d been taught in CCD that the Church forbids artificial contraception, but nobody seemed to really believe it.  Instead, they always caveated those lessons with comments about overpopulation, or “financial responsibility” (which meant saving for the kids’ college, and buying a bigger house, and nice vacations, etc.), or “marital happiness” (subtext: more kids will make you more unhappy).  Like the blogger I read, I, too, couldn’t point to a single family in my parish with more than two or three kids nor could I identify anybody who wasn’t using contraception.  “Well, EVERYBODY else is doing it, so…”

To my everlasting humbling, it took an ex-Catholic nurse I knew through a Bible study to straighten me out and tell me why I should be listening to the Catholic teachings.  She showed me the medical articles about how often the Pill actually causes abortions.  She explained that IUD’s always cause an early abortion by preventing the fetus from implanting.  She and her husband were of the “Leave everything up to God” camp.  Being Catholic, and therefore not convinced that human reason and logic are completely tainted by the Fall, I decided to find out what the Church actually said.  Not what someone else told me the Church said, for once, but the actual documents.

When I finally read what the Catholic Church taught about birth control, I was surprised.  The Church teaches that you’re supposed to prayerfully decide with your spouse whether or not you’re called to have more kids.  Not everyone will have ten, or even two.  But condoms and drugs aren’t the answer.  These documents weren’t just, “NO!” they had reasoned arguments and Biblical support.  Funny, nobody had mentioned that before.

Fortunately, the marriage preparation program at the Academy also required that the Catholic couples take an introductory course to Natural Family Planning.  Another shock: NFP actually works.  It isn’t the Rythym Method.  It’s pretty easy.  (see www.ccli.org for more info)  It doesn’t mess with the woman’s hormones (my hormones are enough of a mess, thank you very much).  It encourages the spouses to talk regularly about their family and their plans for the future.  The divorce rate among NFP couples is something like 2%, when society at large’s divorce rate is 50%.  And you aren’t “required” by the Church to have twelve kids.  NFP families tend to be large, though, because the starting assumption isn’t, “Kids are bad for marriage, so let’s avoid having too many of them by YOU taking a chemical.”  In NFP, the starting assumption is, “Kids are one of the good points of marriage.  Do we have a real reason (financial, emotional, physical) for not having more?”

When the Anglican Church decided at the Lambeth Conference in 1930, against almost two millenia of Christian teaching, to permit its members to use artificial contraceptives, they called the decision “responsible”.  They said it would decrease child abuse and domestic violence because fewer children would mean less stress on the family.  They insisted that no, of course, this would just be for married couples.  Why should it necessarily lead to people outside of marriage fooling around?  And, of course, nobody would resort to abortion if the contraception failed; we know better than that, right?

Haven’t we been falling for the same line from the beginning?  “Go ahead, eat the apple.  It will make you wise.  It will make you like God.  Never mind that God said it was bad for you.  He’s just withholding something from you because He doesn’t really love you.”  And we fall for the line just about every time.  (Followed by the first recorded sin-looking-for-company, “But it isn’t my fault!  Eve made me do it!”)

The pope responded to the Lambeth Conference by saying that, no, making children an unwanted accident of sex, instead of a natural result of it, would result in an increase in child abuse and would ultimately lead to the acceptance of abortion.  He said that acceptance of artificial contraception would undermine the bond between husband and wife by limiting the complete gift of the marriage bed to, “Well, I love you, but not your fertility.”  The pope predicted a rise in extramarital and premarital affairs because of the removal of the threat of pregnancy giving away the illicit affairs.  The number one cause of divorce?  Infidelity.  So, he also predicted a dramatic rise in the divorce rate.  And, of course, if/when the contraception fails, the mentality would become, “I didn’t want this; kill it,” and abortion would have to be accepted, too.  (read it yourself: “Casti Connubi” (On Christian Marriage) http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11CASTI.HTM )

Guess who was right?  The old, celibate white guy living in Rome.  The U.S. divorce rate is now about 50%.  Millions of children have been aborted; a third of the people in the U.S. my age and less are “missing.”  Child abuse and domestic violence have risen drastically since the early 1900’s.  More and more women are making the news as murder victims because their husband or boyfriend tried to force them to get an abortion and they refused.

 When Humanae Vitae (see it at http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6humana.htm) came out forty years ago, the “progressives”, both in the Church and outside of it, sneered that it was backwards, outdated, misinformed, and irresponsible because of the burden it would place on poor families who “had to have contraception”.  “Everyone’s already doing it, anyways, so why fight it?” said the secular “experts.”  Bishops and priests said, “Why bother telling our parishoners that it’s wrong?  They’ll just feel guilty.”  Because it is wrong, that’s why.  Guilt is like pain: it’s a notification that something is wrong.  All sorts of evils have become entrenched in human societies over the years, but that didn’t make them less evil or less of a threat to the society’s stability. 

The truth is what it is, even when it seems difficult.  As Christians, we should stand up for the truth and show a wounded society that there is a better way.  One of my favorite Bible verses in college (and now) is Romans 12:2 (RSV): “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Christians in this country are not normally fed to the lions anymore, but we’re still called to bravery in other ways, including in how we live our private lives.

G.K. Chesterton once commented, “Christianity has not been tried and found lacking, it has been found difficult and not tried.”  The same could be said about Natural Family Planning.

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