As youngest of seven children, I thank God I ever saw light of day.
Joyful memories abound: riding brothers’ shoulders and chasing softballs in our Chicago suburban yard; baiting fishhooks and tent camping in Colorado and Canada on summer vacations. Growing up with a strong sense of self, my outdoorsy nature also delighted in femininity and ballet, reading and writing, as I tried to excel in school and prepare for a fulfilling career and vocation.
What has this to do with President Barack Obama’s contraception mandate? Any history lover knows cultures through the ages revered chastity as an ideal that strongly knit families and society. Does our president’s mandate support this ideal – or promote health?
As birth control proliferated and premarital sex trended upward through the 20th and 21st centuries, family life frayed. America’s divorce rates tripled in the decades following the 1950s. New morality requires “safe sex,” a phrase eerily reflective of George Orwell’s “Newspeak” from his novel 1984, where Big Brother constructs terms contradicting reality, but pointing to a certain desired end.
Labeling out-of-wedlock sex “safe” is doublespeak, a boldfaced lie. Birth control failure rates still hover as high as 20%, reports the American Pregnancy Association. Implanted devices can accidentally expel, cause pelvic inflammatory disease or puncture the uterus. Unwanted pregnancies lead to abortions, as do birth control pills that make uterine walls hostile to embryos seeking to implant. A 2011 study at New York’s Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, found oral contraceptives lower levels of essential vitamins and minerals, contributing to “many chronic disease processes including cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts and aging.”
Certain rates of cancer decrease, while other cancers are caused, by taking oral birth control, asserts the World Health Organization. A 2011 study out of Toronto showed higher rates of prostate cancer wherever estrogen is released into water supplies through oral contraceptive use. Birth control pills nearly double stroke risk, reported a 2009 Medlink Neurology article. On the product site of Ortho Tri-Cyclen® Lo (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiolone), a lengthy list of other side effects includes increased blood pressure and heart disease. Contraindications for using the pill involve smokers, headache sufferers, and those who have family history of cerebral vascular or coronary artery disease. Although drug-to-drug reactions occur, admits product information, no “formal” study on these reactions has been conducted on this drug. Doctors and patients are blindly gauging risks.
Contraception is perilous. Even if side effects were minimal, a contraceptive mentality short circuits happiness. Pressures to have sex outside of marriage burgeon with contraceptive use. While young men and women should be developing healthy communications skills and discovering new talents and facets of their personalities, they are hurtling into sexual license. Even young teens feel a sense of duty to provide physical “benefits” to dates and friends.
Consciences are being darkened by “widespread conditioning” wrote Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). The Holy Father warned that “broad sectors of public opinion justify certain crimes against life in the name of the rights of individual freedom, and on this basis they claim not only exemption from punishment but even authorization by the State, so that these things can be done with total freedom and indeed with the free assistance of health-care systems.” Legislations are “departing from basic principles of their Constitutions.” The Pope saw this as a sign of “grave moral decline.”
In 1930, the Anglican Church’s Lambeth Council in England approved using contraceptives for “serious” reasons. Other major Protestant congregations followed suit, even accepting abortion. Contraception fuels abortion, shows a study published in the January, 2011 journal Contraception. While women’s use of contraception increased nearly 30% in Spain from 1997-2007, the rate of abortion more than doubled.
Women, once honored for life-giving potential and for crafting nurturing homes, work places and communities, are being used for recreation, then discarded. The vision of romantic and marital love is under fire, replaced by a cynical, utilitarian view that leads to a death of innocence and virtue. Not lightly, does the Church teach that separating sexual intimacy from life-giving potential is a mortal sin – a sin that can lead to death of the soul.
In his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), Pope Paul VI prophesied dire effects if contraceptives proliferated. He predicted:
1) Conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.
2) Men coming to regard a woman as “a mere instrument of sexual enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”
3) Abuses by public authorities, promoting contraception for their own ends.
4) People deciding they had unlimited dominion over their own bodies, without consideration of God’s plan or moral restrictions.
All these predictions have come true. Today, many enter adulthood with half a dozen years of sexual experience, a sexually transmitted disease or the trauma of abortion. Angst seems reflected in girls dressing like prostitutes, youth self-mutilating, or sporting grotesque tattoos and extreme body piercings. Where is the reflective earnestness of a young woman preparing for life as a wife and mother? Where is the consideration a male shows a female, knowing she is a beloved daughter, someone’s sister, and possibly a future bride? As vulgarity, coarseness, and promiscuity intensifies, the culture becomes hostile to developing healthy relationships, forming life-long bonds, and nurturing children. Many nations today face underpopulation, as citizens choose not to marry, or to contain family size to just one child or two. Even committed couples face stresses when one partner, closed to life, pressures a mate to use birth control.
Jesus came so all people “may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 16:21) America exists, planted on Christian bedrock, so citizens may have “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I thank God my parents gave me the right to life by welcoming my conception. I flourished within the embrace of family. I learned from my mother and father what sacramental love required, by watching them grow deeper in love through both joyful times and adversity. My parents strove to live and convey Church teachings about chastity – offering a vision of purity that once upheld mainstream America.
Fertility and sexuality are God-given gifts to be used rightly. True sexual liberation exists only in marriage, when a man and woman share a deep, healing embrace, open to life and free of artificial barriers. When serious reasons compel a couple to avoid or postpone pregnancy, however, working naturally with the woman’s monthly cycles proves highly effective. Practicing the symptothermal method of charting temperatures and cervical secretions leads to just a .4%-.6% rate of unplanned pregnancy, according to Human Reproduction Today. I can add my own and others’ anecdotal evidence that, as a woman learns her body’s signals for ovulation and fertility, she develops a keen self-awareness, identifying other health issues as they arise.
Spouses faithfully practicing natural family planning (NFP) face only a .2% risk of divorce, cites the Family of the Americas Foundation. NFP-users often find intimacies improve with age. Love deepens, becomes more generous-hearted. Periods of abstinence lead to mini-honeymoons. God’s vision for humanity is happiness, and the type of love that refuses to use the other, enriches. Members of stable, loving marriages and families, become their best selves.
No, Mr. President, as a devout Catholic, I do not want to pay for contraception. I do not want to pay higher premiums because my insurance company is forced to provide free contraception.
As a liberty-loving American, I protest any tyranny that forces me to act against my conscience.
As a journalist, I see facts refuting the notion that flooding our nation with free contraceptives will lead to honoring women, or building up families.
As a lover of God’s creation, I protest the desecration of land and drinking water by allowing birth control byproducts in sewage systems. I oppose the altering of human persons through manipulating hormones.
As one who has received phenomenal care at Catholic hospitals, I dread possible closings of institutions refusing to violate Catholic beliefs.
Unfair taxation once triggered a revolution in this nation. Bishops, clergy and lay people are starting their own revolution of prayer and peaceful resistance, contacting elected officials to register dismay over unconstitutional actions by government. The health and liberty of American citizens is at stake.
In a nation founded upon religious liberty, citizens should never be penalized or persecuted for practicing their faith. American founding father John Adams wrote:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
-- October 11, 1798 letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts.