Contraceptive 'medicine' and other ironies

Jenny Uebbing

Photo by Vera Kratochvil

Now, before anyone gets too hot and bothered over the topic du jour of contraception and whether or not the government (ahem, the taxpayers, aka you and I) should pony up the cash to make it free for all, let's take a moment to examine the science behind that wonder pill that has freed women from the tyranny of childbearing and the slavery of motherhood ... and ask ourselves frankly, "has it all been worth it?"

I've seen more passion on Facebook in the past 3 weeks over bedroom matters than can be contained in the entire Twilight series … and then some.

It would seem that the argument, rather than being framed as a matter of religious freedom, (Should the Catholic Church be forced to violate her own beliefs and recount her stance on a major moral issue at the behest of a civil government?) has become something more of an entitlement issue (Do American women have the right to demand, from their fellow citizens, a subsidized supply of contraceptive drugs or devices in order to manage their sex lives?)

The real issue - freedom of religion - is being lost in a hormonal scuffle of epic proportion, as everyone from the major news networks' talking heads to the ladies in my yoga class argue over whose bill the Pill is to foot.

And to that I must simply ask...really? Really?

Call me insensitive to the sufferings of the First World, but it would seem that if we are going to start demanding that the government (read: the taxpayer) fund free medical care for the masses, we should perhaps start with a nobler goal. Perhaps chemo? Or at least insulin?

For me personally, as a woman of normal health and childbearing age, the most difficult and frustrating aspect of this entire debate boils down to this simple truth: if you're able to get pregnant as a result of having sex, something is RIGHT with your body, not wrong.

I have many, many friends who would love to have a biological child of their own, but who, for whatever reason, are physically incapable of conceiving or sustaining new life. That is, by definition, an example of a medical condition: something ain't working like it's s'posed to.

So to hear the plaintive cries on MSNBC and the like clamoring for 'basic medical care' and 'women's rights' is, quite frankly, a little insulting. There is actually nothing wrong with my body; it's functioning in tip top condition, thankyouverymuch...and by the way, my fertility happens to be an intrinsic part of who and what I am as a woman.

One of the greatest fallacies of modern feminism is the idea that women, in order to be equal to men in all respects, need to (wait for it) ... become like them.

Feminism as a movement has spent the majority of its energies convincing women of their basic inferiority to men. And contraception has been the most effective and powerful weapon in the arsenal.

We were told, with the advent of the birth control pill, that we might at last grasp and achieve 'equality' with men. Put another way, once we could no longer 'fall pregnant,' we might have access to the same opportunities which our feminine bodies had, for thousands upon thousands of years, denied us. At long last, a level playing field...except, it hasn't proven to be the smoothest turf.

For most forms of contraception, and certainly the most popular ones, the entire burden AND risk of use falls upon the woman. And should the mighty Pill fail ... the burden of aborting the unwanted child is also hers to shoulder.

Those who call for government-subsidized contraceptives are no more freeing women from this burden than is the misguided parent feeding sweets to an overweight child soothing the feelings of exclusion and loneliness after a day of playground torment. Contraceptives are not the solution: they are themselves the problem.

As a culture, we've been led to believe that in order to be 'free,' we as women need to be:

1. available for sex at any given moment

2. protected from the 'consequences' of sexual activity so as not to be a burden to our partners and

3. repaired and remade in the likeness of the male of our species, as we are by nature 'broken' and in need of 'fixing' because we are capable of getting pregnant.

Are these truly messages of empowerment? Messages of equality and dignity? Messages we hope to instill in our young daughters as they mature into adult women?

But what about the woman who wants to be on the Pill? Who cares little for her increased risk of cancers or heart conditions long term, because she lives life in the here and now, and 50 years old is a long, long way from here?

What about the woman who enjoys a lifestyle free from the burdens of parenthood and the specter of pregnancy, either before or after marriage? What about the woman who has become so accustomed to suppressing her own fertility that to think of allowing her body to function according to design is tantamount to contemplating suicide?

Well, to her I would say one thing: you, my dear, are missing out on real freedom. It's not always easy, and it's certainly not always glamorous, but there is an unimaginable joy that comes in being true to oneself and living in accord with one's nature. I was made a woman, and I won't let anyone - even myself - try to make me into something else.

P.S. If you're still not convinced, at least don't make me pay for it.

Topics: Contraception , Current Events , Religious freedom

Jenny Uebbing is the content editor of Heroic News, a web-based news service dedicated to life and cultural issues (HeriocNews.org).  She is actively involved in the Archdiocese of Denver, speaking and writing on matters of bioethics, human sexuality, contraception, and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. A graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, she and her husband David reside in Denver with their young family.

View all articles by Jenny Uebbing

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