Is Contraception a Right?

Let’s get something clear as swiftly as possible:

I’ll be referring to the HHS Mandate with the understanding that Obama’s compromise hasn’t changed the moral situation one iota.

The shrillest of the various cries demanding that faithful Catholic institutions pay for the contraceptives, abortifacents, and sterilizations of their clients goes something like this: “Women have a right to contraception! The Catholic Church is taking away women’s rights!”

The majority of individuals who have emailed and Facebooked me to make this brilliant argument? Severely panicky dudes. And of course: Boys everywhere tremble that a religion still teaches that fertility isn’t some scary disease. After all, this novel concept could seriously affect how American men view women!

Which we simply can't allow!

So all together now, “Women’s rights!” Bam, instant moral high ground, the Church happily framed as an oppressive, medieval, immoral institution — her opponents renegades, activists, stick-it-to-the-man-ernites, so on and thus forth, until someone makes a movie.

This is all considerably awkward, as these ‘activists’ are the most oppressive force we’ve seen since the Bush Administration. (Morally opposed? Right to the free exercise of religion? Forget it, don’t you see how necessary this is?)

But we must ask the question, and thus spear the elephant in the room, when on earth did free contraception become a right? At what stage in our nation’s development did we decide that institutions were obligated to offer us sterilization? I’ve scoured the Constitution, and while I did find a lot about religions being allowed to live out their beliefs freely, and without government coercion, I missed the contraception exception, the “Congress shall make no law…unless people need the Pill, dammit. Then screw all that freedom stuff, what on God’s green earth would we do if someone decided not to pay for some one else’s sex life!? Why, that would mean that the bedroom would become a…a…private place! And we can’t have that! We must involve everyone! The Church especially!” No.

So what is it? Why is the Church violating women’s rights? Given the definition of a right – a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way — and the fact that there exists no legal, constitutional obligation that the Church provide guys with free condoms and girls with free pills, we really must ask: Are individuals morally entitled to have Catholic institutions pay for their birth control?

I first of all suggest that we — as a culture — have lost the ability to use the term, “moral entitlement”. For what do we mean by it? The Church and the State aren’t allowed to mingle, so the phrase cannot mean what our Founding Fathers would have meant, that we have “certain inalienable rights endowed by the Creator.”

And even if we suddenly decided to let God get involved with politics, we’d be hard pressed to to make the argument that God wants the Church to provide free contraception. No, moral entitlement is currently based on personal fulfillment. I’m not hurting anyone by doing _____, and _____ makes me happy, therefore I am entitled [to have others pay for]  _____. Contraception is necessary to our personal happiness as human beings, and the Church should not interfere with our right to pursue happiness.

The problem with all this:

The widespread availability of contraception is not necessary to human happiness. In fact, all evidence points to contraception as detrimental to human happiness. Women have had contraception made increasingly available to them, to the point that 80% of sexually active women are on the Pill. We are saturated in contraception.

If contraception was indeed essential to a human beings pursuit of happiness, it’d be fair to assume that more and more women get access to more and more contraception, the happier and happier these women will be. As it turns out, women have been getting more and more access to contraception over the past 35 years, with all the benefits attached to it, and have been simultaneously becoming evermore miserable. From The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness a study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers:

“The lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years by many objective measures, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women’s happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men” (American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2009, 1:2, 190–225).

We know that couples who use a form of NFP over artificial contraception

  • have a dramatically low (0.2%) divorce rate;
  • experience happier marriages;
  • and are happier and more satisfied in their everyday lives.

So the idea that Catholic institutions, by not providing free artificial contraception for their clients are somehow violating their client’s moral entitlement to a life of happiness is ridiculous. So my question remains: Why are Catholic institutions obligated to violate their consciences and provide artificial contraception to their clients? What human right are they violating by refusing to? I am sincerely interested.

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  • SillyQuestion

    Marc, A lot of your stance on this issue appears to rely on your rather expansive definition of “provide” as used in your “rhetorical” question at the end of your post. Is a Catholic institution obligated to provide contraception? No. The rhetoric is cute but not likely to convince anyone truly struggling with this issue. Which leads me to wonder, are your questions really “sincere”?

    • Stitchermlw

      I think Marc is using the word “provide” as in “pay for”, which is what this mandate requires. So yes, Catholic institutions will be required, under this HHS mandate, to “provide”, i.e. pay for contraception, etc.

      • SillyQuestion

        Ok, so what if Catholic institutions could opt to only pay for policies that don’t cover contraception, with the government separately requiring insurers to offer additional contraception coverage not paid for by the Catholic institution?

        • Jmsteve4

          If they’re not going to back down on this, they should at least make it part of the taxes which already go towards things we don’t agree with instead of forcing us to give our tithe to something we do not agree with.

          • Anonymous

            So you’d be okay paying the same money for the same thing to a different paymaster? Get rid of the middle man or don’t pay. Foisting off your guilty conscience on the government is pathetic.

          • Cal-J

            Not quite, Vision. Government taxes may go to any number of possible actions, and are thus out of our control. However, we ARE fighting to keep the government away from choices that are bad.

          • Anonymous

            Actually, saying that it would be okay if the government increased taxes specifically to cover the new mandate, as opposed to making the organizations themselves pay, simply adds a layer of plausible deniability.
            It doesn’t absolve you of anything, just kind of “washing your hands” of the whole fiasco, huh?

          • Cal-J

            I never said it was “okay”. I said it was out of our hands. I was contradicting you on some of the details of your paradigm.

            We do, in fact, try to alter the things the government spends its money on. We try to remove federal funding from embryonic stem cell research and abortions, for example.

        • fabius

          who pays for the separate additional contraception?

          • SillyQuestion

            My only point for what it’s worth is that the answer to that question matters. You’ll agree with that, right? If so, we should have the answer to the question before making judgments.

          • Cal-J

            “Ok, so what if Catholic institutions could opt to only pay for policies that don’t cover contraception, with the government separately requiring insurers to offer additional contraception coverage not paid for by the Catholic institution?”

            We already have the answer. ALL insurance organizations are required to provide birth control, but not allowed to charge for it. This is a net loss… unless the insurance providers make up for it in premiums.

    • Cal-J

      Their poignancy is due in part to the pressing issue of the Obama Administration’s mandate, which seems to believe:

      Is a Catholic institution obligated to provide contraception? Yes.

      • SillyQuestion

        I don’t follow. You seem to be assuming your conclusion. Again, we are getting to he point where you are going to have to be more precise with the term “provide.”

        • Cal-J

          The mandate that was recently put forth by the Obama administration that employers must provide health insurance in the form of contraceptives, abortions, abortifacients, and sterilization. (We’ll pass over the fact that these are each either elective procedures or lifestyle drugs and in no way fall under the category of “procedures or actions taken in case of medical emergency”, which is what the definition of “health insurance” is).

          In short, employers are now mandated to fund birth control as part of their health insurance packages. Hence, “provide”.

          There exists a religious exemption that applies solely to institutions that employ and serve only members of their own faith. This excludes the vast majority of most religious institutions, and especially the large number of Catholic non-profits and schools, which frequently employ, serve, and teach non-Catholics. This mandate deliberately ignores those institutions.

          After the immediate backlash, Obama proffered a “compromise” that consisted of him removing the institutions from the equations directly and targeting the mandate strictly at the insurance providers, who will have to pay out of their own pocket. Now, common sense provides that they will seek to restore this net loss. It also provides that they will do it by extracting the resources from those with whom they do business. Therefore, in order to make up their loss, and since the mandate claims they are not allowed to charge _explicitly_ for the birth control, they will restore the loss by heightening premiums.

          It’s the same situation, but we’ve progressed from having a gun at our heads to being put on a leash.

          • SillyQuestion

            There are a lot of assumptions built into your response. What if the facts turn out not to support them? What if the Catholic institutions do NOT pay higher premiums than they otherwise would? It is certainly within the realm of the possible that an increase in contraceptive use actually decreases insurers’ overall costs and, therefore, decreases premiums.

            It leads to a very tenuous conscience argument.

          • Cal-J

            “What if the Catholic institutions do NOT pay higher premiums than they otherwise would?”

            Than that would mean the insurance companies would be taking heavy losses. Voluntarily.

            Your argument — no, excuse me, your roundabout, hypothetical question — seems to be under the assumption that insurance providers are all suddenly going to not care about losing money.

            “It is certainly within the realm of the possible that an increase in contraceptive use actually decreases insurers’ overall costs and, therefore, decreases premiums. ”

            I notice your argument works ONLY in the realm of the possible. You’re welcome to come join us in the realm of the actual any time.

          • SillyQuestion

            You haven’t answered my “roundabout hypothetical” question. You seem to say that paying increased premiums = “providing” contraceptives. Ok, then it seems to me you’d have some proof that Catholic institutions actually would pay increased premiums. And it seems you’d have an answer as to what your view would be if Catholic institutions did not in fact have to pay increased premiums. For example, what if the regulation provided that the insurance companies are prohibited from increasing premiums based on how many employees opt for the additional contraceptive coverage?

          • fabius

            then we’re going to legally mandate that insurance companies operate at a loss or at least less of a profit margin? That won’t work economically.

            I get the administration’s line of reasoning that in theory mandating all these “preventative” services will save money in the long run.

            But if that was the case, wouldn’t we have already seen that sort of behavior from insurance companies to begin with? No one has a greater incentive to save money than the insurance providers themselves.

          • Cal-J

            “Ok, then it seems to me you’d have some proof that Catholic institutions actually would pay increased premiums.”

            Nope. That a company would seek to make up for its losses as it is capable would be a given in any discussion of economics. You’re assumption rests on the idea that the insurance providers would _not_ make up their losses, which has no bearing in either economics or common sense.

            The burden of proof is yours, buddy.

            “And it seems you’d have an answer as to what your view would be if Catholic institutions did not in fact have to pay increased premiums.”

            Nope. This arises under your hypothetical situation, which you have yet to account for.

            “For example”

            Another one?

            “…what if the regulation provided that the insurance companies are prohibited from increasing premiums based on how many employees opt for the additional contraceptive coverage?”

            What if it did? Where does it say that?

          • AttentionDeficitCatholic

            Not to seem like I’m losing patience, but DEAR SPAGHETTI MONSTER IN THE SKY, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS!?

            When insurance companies are required to pay for contraceptives, their total expenses will, of course, go up.

            If you are running a business, and your expenses go up, then in order to keep your profits stable (which, of course, you want your profits to stay stable or to rise; that is the nature of Capitalism and the free market system), you need to do one of two things: find a way to decrease your expenses, or increase your total costs (in this case, premiums).

            As the insurance companies are going to be providing (in most cases, at the least) more than they were previously, then cutting expenses to make up for the loss in profit will not be much of an option. In fact, as they are providing MORE, it stands to reason that they would increase their premiums in order to keep up their profits.

            That or they could just lay off a bunch of people.

            Pick your poison: destruction of religious liberty, or an even higher unemployment rate.

          • Alexandra

            Hey, don’t take the name of my savior the spaghetti monster in vain! That’s a serious affront to Pastafarians.

          • Cal-J

            Wow. The Spaghetti Monster is a savior? Cooooooool. What did he save you from?

            (Ten bucks says it’s some variant of “ignorance”).

  • Joe

    I’m looking forward to a similar post about gay marriage “rights.” With the rate that states are complying with this insanity, the political tension surrounding it is bound to increase in the near future.

    • Queso

      I really don’t understand why marriage is a government thing. It’s very strange.

      The only practical reason I can think of for the government to keep track of marriage is for taxes, but for all intents and purposes they could just as easily keep track of “households”, which would include my situation where I’m taking care of my mom.

      It seems to me like marriage is something that, if you’re outside of the Catholic Church and her definition, would be a personal thing, and would almost mean whatever you believe it does.

      Am I missing something? Why does the government have its hand in marriage in the first place?

      • Debbie Sterbin Sercely

        Because the government likes power, and people who elect government officials like telling other people what to do.

      • Mary H

        The original purpose of marriage in most times and cultures was to keep track of property rights and who was responsible for children. That’s why the state was involved.

        And in the US, there’s quite a tax benefit for married couples who file jointly on their income tax (usually), which was also based on the idea that married people should have support from the government for the sake of the children.

        Now that marriage doesn’t have any necessary relationship to having children, I’m not sure whether it makes sense for the government to be involved in marriage anymore. The current definition seems to bear little relationship to the institution as understood by most Christian religions until recently, and as still understood by the Catholic Church.

    • Debbie Sterbin Sercely

      Whether or not Marc will touch this one, I don’t know. My opinion, though…
      Anything the government can do FOR the Church, they can (and most likely eventually WILL) do TO the Church. So it’s dangerous to open a door for legislating certain things. Once you ask the government to define marriage in terms of heterosexuality, you’ve removed your objection to them defining it in terms of permanence, exclusivity, or openness to life. What are you going to do when they pass a Constitutional amendment requiring couples to promise not to have more than two children? Catholics would freak out, and legitimately so. But we should have freaked out when they started defining what marriage is, period. Marriage is a Sacrament, and the definition of it belongs to the Church. The purpose of government is to enforce contracts, not tell people they can’t enter into them because of their gender.

      • Mary H

        “Anything the government can do FOR the Church, they can (and most likely eventually WILL) do TO the Church.”

        Yes, I agree. Another reason to cut any monies we’re taking from the government now.

  • Paige Kellerman

    Well written and thought-out as usual, Marc. As I’ve listened to this whole debate rage, I can’t help wondering why we’re worried about getting rid of a 20.00 co-pay, and, yet, women, such as myself, are being forced to pay 10,000 dollar deductibles because they chose to have a baby. That’s the area that’s lacking. I’m not in favor of the mandate, one bit. If I have to suck it up and fork over thousands to have a baby, why should anyone be assuming the responsibility of paying for others bc? There are lots of other meds that are actually essential to healthcare that no one’s ever offered to pay for me. If you really care about my “health”, demand that antibiotics be paid for, or the numerous women who have diabetes and are going broke trying to pay for the supplies. You know, not drugs of convenience..actual health care.

    • Anonymous

      Your comment made me think… I know several people… both men and women who made hasty decisions to have tubal ligation or vasectomy surgery because their insurance covered the cost and they thought they didn’t want any more children. Then later they regretted the decision, or some event happened in their life and they wished to reverse the procedures and welcome the opportunity to have more children. The cost of this decision was placed up on them…considered elective surgery and no coverage by their health insurance. If this is all about a person’s right to choose and women’s right to do what they want with their bodies, why don’t the insurance companies provide the reverse procedures at no cost?

      • Joanne Basko

        You are absolutely correct in this matter. As a young Catholic who unfortunately chose not to follow all of the Church’s teachings, we elected to have my husband undergo a vasectomy because we hit hard times and insurance covered almost all of it. Less than two years later, we fully embraced the faith and spent several years in agony over that hasty decision. It took two years of searching before we could finally find a doctor who could perform the reversal, which of course was not covered by insurance. That was seven years ago and that reversal has been the biggest blessing in our marriage.

        I can’t tell you how many couples that we have counseled who also make that quick decision to seek permanent sterilization only to regret it later.

  • Anne Sweden

    Anyone claiming that a woman’s supposed “right to contraception” (which is nothing but a nice slogan) trumps the clearly defined Constitutionally guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion needs to get his own country and his own constitution.

  • Kevin Bensema

    I think there is a larger point being missed here. You argue, (correctly, I think) that it is unclear and unlikely that subsidized contraception is helpful to human happiness. The pursuit of happiness described in the Declaration of Independence was a *negative* right – meaning that while people have an obligation to not interfere with your pursuit of happiness, they have no obligation to financially enable it. Even if free contraception were the height of human happiness, it is incredibly difficult or perhaps impossible to make the case that it is morally acceptable to put a gun to one person’s head and force him to pay for another’s contraceptives.

    • Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

      Exactly. No one has the “right” to happiness. We have the right to pursue happiness. I’m convinced that what would make me happy is sitting down to a meal of chili dogs with the Pope. I don’t see the government kidnapping His Holiness and forcing Jews to purchase chili dogs. Because happiness isn’t a right that we must provide for. (On the off chance that the Pope is reading this, yes, this is an invitation to eat chili dogs with me. I’ll pay for it.)

      • Queso

        I’m now envisioning Pope Benny perusing the comment archives of Bad Catholic at night when everyone thinks he’s asleep.

        • Cal-J

          “Papa” Benny. “Papa”.

          • Anonymous

            Or PapaB, or PapaB16 for short as I tend to call him :-)

  • Alexandra

    Marc, healthcare is a right. Even your pope recognizes that. He called on all governments to provide healthcare to people no matter what their economic or employment status is.

    Healthcare in this day and age includes access birth control, and even abortions, under the right to privacy. The Church is among the very few people that disagree with that, and they’re not medical or public health professionals who actually have any say in that. You pull up your narrow studies saying that it’s actually a bane on society, but that is not what the general consensus among medical and public health professionals is. Birth control has done a lot of good things for women in this society. I know you all hate huff po, but this article gives a good summary:

    The idea that birth control is immoral and not part of basic health care is a minority position, and somewhat a religious idea. The wall between Church and State dictates that the religious ideas cannot influence policy.

    An exemption has been made for churches and houses of worship. However, all employers know that they are getting into the secular world when they start a business and hire and serve non-Catholics. Employers are not exempt to the laws of the nation based on their religious beliefs. That would be chaos. And moreover, running a business or non profit is not a protected religious exercise. The employers made the choice to open a business and will be subject to US law. And at this point US law is to provide basic healthcare to all employees. No one’s religious freedom is being trampled on. While some people say that no one HAS to work for a religious employer, the truth is that no religious institution HAS to employ people outside of their house of worship. If you make that choice, you make the choice to follow the law. If you don’t want to have to follow US laws that require you to provide basic healthcare as defined by the government to your employes, well then you shouldn’t be running a business.

    • SillyQuestion

      Does anyone know, does the INDIVIDUAL mandate in the PPACA require that the insurance that individuals obtain cover contraception?

      • Cal-J

        ” The ACA mandates that new insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2011, include basic preventive care services without cost-sharing[152]. Woman-specific preventive services that will be covered without cost sharing include gestational diabetes screening, well-woman visits, female contraceptives and contraceptive counseling, and breastfeeding support and supplies[153].”

        Wikipedia’s PPACA article seems to imply that the Birth Control coverage hits everything, regardless of who buys it.

    • Kevin Clarke

      Actually, Alexandra, Church-state separation was a law that was established for the purpose of keeping the state out of the Church’s affairs. Regarding your argumentum ad verecundiam, it could easily be pointed out that the history of the world is replete with entire populations of people being mostly wrong about something.

      In the fundamentality of rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), the right to uphold moral conscience and not act against it (liberty) is greater than your “right” to have me pay for your contraception (pursuit of happiness, a mistaken notion of what brings happiness, but I digress). You could, I dare to say, pay for it yourself! But you cannot buy me another conscience, for I have only one. Furthermore, many “non-necessary” things are not covered under health-care–chiropractic work, sessions with a psychologist, etc. Not all insurance plans offer dental or optical. How is it that you have a “right” to have me buy it for you. No, no. Man must not be forced to act against his conscience. We will not sell our souls in order to buy you pills. If you have a difficult time understanding this, go watch the movie Collateral.

      • SillyQuestion

        Are you facilitating the evil of watching a Tom Cruise movie? Careful with that one conscience of yours!! At least you haven’t offered to pay for it.

        • Kevin Clarke

          I would say it’s more a Jamie Foxx movie, so my conscience is clean.

        • Gracy

          lol. hilarious

    • Jill


      Birth control is not health care, nor is it preventative medicine. Please read the following for an explanation on how birth control works. How the pill works

      I apologize for not getting the link to work in my reply.

      Also, this mandate forces the payment for sterilization and abortion-inducing medications, not just contraception, which is conveniently overlooked and not discussed.

    • Cal-J

      “Healthcare in this day and age includes access birth control, and even abortions, under the right to privacy.”

      Bull. If you were paying attention you would know this regards _insurance coverage_.

      “Insurance” is defined as being “measures taken for the sake of preparedness in case of emergency”, in this case, medical emergency.

      Birth Control, being a nebulous term that includes lifestyle drugs (contraception, abortifacients) and elective procedures (abortion, sterilization), does not belong to any definition of “insurance”.

      • Anonymous

        “Insurance” is defined as being “measures taken for the sake of preparedness in case of emergency”, in this case, medical emergency.

        So…any meds you have to take every day don’t count either? Sucks to be you if you’re on blood pressure medication, huh?

        • Cal-J

          Maybe. I would imagine they fit under “health care” as a benefit, rather than “health insurance”.

          • Cal-J

            No. Scratch that.

            “So…any meds you have to take every day don’t count either? Sucks to be you if you’re on blood pressure medication, huh?”

            Blood pressure medication would be in anticipation of a poor outcome of blood pressure. That counts as insurance.

    • Mikey

      Huffington Post is easily the most liberal media source you could have gone to. Hence why there were so many flaws and how insanely biased those facts. 9 out of 10 of those statistics were about foreign countries NOT AMERICA. 1 of them was about how American women died in child birth, yes they have, but that was probably 50 years ago, considering the medical advances we have had in the past even 6 years can save a woman. Here’s a simple one even YOU can understand. A woman can not give natural birth, they will get a c-section. No risk of dying in child birth. Ridiculous points you cover in your post. And yes, Kevin is right, SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. Specifically why we do not talk about God in schools, which is dumb because the only reason you’re on this earth is because He loves you so insanely much.

      And yes, they do employ people outside of the realm of their employment, but say we were to go to an Atheist corporation and say that they have to supply bibles, prayer cards, and sacramentals to their employees. WHAT AN OUTRAGE, RIGHT?!?!?!?

      This is essentially the same form of what our beloved president is trying to do with the HHS mandate. (please, that was as sarcastic as it can get). He is directly attacking EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN’S first amendment rights. If he can force the majority of Americans (Christians) to pay for ridiculous things that are not essential to survival, then where else will he stop? WILL HE STOP? That’s why even LIBERALS, YES LIBERALS are angry with this. Obama is scared. He is trying to please the liberals, but in turn, making them ANGRY. SIMPLE.

      Why in the world should I have to pay for people to have sex and not have any “repercussions” while doing it. That’s not my business. If you want to go sleep with the “love” of your life, do it in the institution of marriage and not a stupid one-night-stand.

      No. If you want to have a one-night-stand, please pay for your pills and condoms yourself.

      Rather, just save it till marriage.

      • Alexandra

        Do you try to come off as a crazy person? With all of the caps and excess punctuation you really don’t give yourself a whole lot of credibility.

        The separation of church an state actually is supposed to go both ways. The influence of a religion on legislation infringes on other religions liberty. They are meant to be kept wholly separate.

        I really can’t bring myself to address any of your other points. You come off as completely unhinged and there’s no point in tsomeone’s out things with someone like that

        • Alexandra

          That and I’m typing on my phone so it’s too much work to be worth it.

          • Cal-J

            “That and I’m typing on my phone so it’s too much work to be worth it.”

            But it wasn’t enough work to write a whole extra post, huh? Poor baby.

        • RLM

          Peolple here could also say uncharitable things about how you come across due to your views, but they don’t. Why don’t you just engage the points or say nothing at all?

          • Alexandra

            That’s lies, people have said “uncharitable” things about my tone.

            Anyway, it’s to his benefit to know that no one is going to take him seriously when he presents himself like that.

          • Cal-J

            I’ve already told him not to shout. And it’s not necessarily just your tone that some of us object to. It’s also that you have been known to start insulting people in lieu of countering their arguments.

            Like the last time we danced, when you started on musiciangirl, saying that her grammar choices (largely a case of not putting in periods, commas, and capitalization, which is standard for the internet in general) were reason enough to not bother with her actual claims.

    • Elizabeth

      The mandate doesn’t just limit the religion of the employees, but it also limits the people served by the charity, school or business. So even though a charity is not insuring those receiving charity, a school is not insuring the kids or parents, and a business is not insuring its customers, the mandate still would require the Church to offer this coverage to their employees, even if they limited their employees to all Catholics (i.e., the schools went back to nuns as teachers), if they should dare to permit a child from a non-Catholic family into the school. It boggles my mind that the government would force a Catholic school to provide this coverage even if they restrict their employees to only Catholics should a student, who would not receive insurance anyway, be a non-Catholic. Or that a charity offering help to a non-Catholic, even if the employees were all Catholic, would have to purchase this insurance for their Catholic employees for serving a non-Catholic. Do we really want our government doing “religion audits” to make sure people aren’t serving “mixed” customers should a religious entity attempt to follow their conscience and only employ those of their own religion? The government is not even allowing religious entities an exemption should they opt to only employ those of the same faith, unless those entities refuse to serve those outside their faith — People who never would have been covered under this insurance in the first place!

      I don’t even think health insurance should be tied to any employer. It is too problematic. It used to be offered as benefit to entice people to work for a company. Now people see it as a right derived from their employer. But when someone loses a job or changes a job, or when a company can no longer afford a certain level of insurance, the family is left struggling to cover the difference, sometimes with little warning. Health insurance should work more like any other insurance out there — independent of the employer. Yes, we will need to find a way to buy insurance as groups and not individuals if we want a better price, but this “group” does not need to be our place of employment.

      No institution should be told that they must provide free coverage for any medication, especially morally questionable medication, to their employees. Food is a necessary part of life, but we don’t get a bi-weekly portion of food stamps from our employers. We buy our food in the food market.

    • Renee

      You know what this is bull. You know why?

      I live in Massachusetts, where it is a mandate to purchase health insurance. My husband’s employers has a 4000 dollar deductible. So we went to the state agency to see if we could purchase the state’s insurance because relatively cheaper then my husband’s company plan. Now this was free insurance, simple you bought insurance through the state that happened to be a lot cheaper then what the company offered.

      The social worker said we did not qualified, because my husband’s employer offered insurance and we had NO CHOICE but to take it. The only option was to find a new job.

      Contraception isn’t healthcare, it is a choice you make. It doesn’t treat a disease, but rather suppresses ovulation and menstruation. That is what our lady parts are suppose to do, it’s not unhealthy to naturally flow.

    • This Guy

      “The Church is among the very few ((hundreds of thousands of)) people that disagree with that ((as well as many more non-religious individuals who understand how very seriously this mandate will violate the constitution))…”

      I fixed it for you.

      • newlywed

        sitting at work and i laughed out loud when i read “The Church is among the very few people that disagree with that, and they’re not medical or public health professionals who actually have any say in that” my goodness! Alexandra, do you understand what you are saying when you say, “the Church”?

        • Alexandra

          Enlighten me.

          • Elizabeth

            I think newlywed is referring to the fact that the Church has over a billion members worldwide, with countless medical and health professionals in the body of the Church. As a person who comes from a family with many such medical and health professionals who agree with the Church, I can assure you that the Church does not lack highly intelligent medical and health professionals who agree on a scientific, social and moral level. And, of course, the Church is tremendous, so she is hardly a small minority voice in this world.

          • Alexandra

            Okay I see your point, but the number of American Catholics that oppose this mandate is very small relative to the population of the country as a whole, which was my point. LOL at it all you want, but it’s kind of a fact.

          • Feeneyja

            I suggest you have a look at the new CNN poll. 50% of Americans are against the mandate, 44% are for it. A Rasmussen poll puts 65% of Catholics against it. Not as clear cut as you are presenting it.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks for directing me to that. If you read the details there’s a whole lot going on there, the difference in approval is just about the same between the general population and the Catholic population.

            Interesting the groups that disagree with it the most are men, whites, and the elderly, and 4/10 people hadn’t actually heard anything about the HHS mandate.

          • Cal-J

            “Interesting the groups that disagree with it the most are men, whites, and the elderly…”

            Best way to win an argument: use the words “Men, white”, and just-in-case: “elderly”.

            “…and 4/10 people hadn’t actually heard anything about the HHS mandate.”

            Which would mean they’re not particularly on either side, so bugging about it helps neither.

          • Feeneyja

            Really, lets go a bit deeper, shall we?

            Here are the poll results:


            Obviously a 50/44 split is really close. My point is it’s not quite as cut and dried as you say (kind of puts the high percentage of folks on birth control stat in a new perspective). Even the “white, old, males” is close (55:46 men:women). Yes, it’s the 35+ that are against it. I didn’t know that 35+ was the cut-off for “old”. Yes, of those for the mandate, 60% were non-White.

            The interesting thing is that most said that contracetion is not wrong and that Catholics should be able to make up their own minds…so this is clearly a rights thing and not a Catholic thing. There is definitely a clear leaning of Democrats for the mandate.

            I don’t see where you get 4/10 never heard of it? It’s not in the CNN poll that I can see.

    • Queso

      Yeah, and while we’re at it let’s include hair gel, soap, toothpaste, aspirin, and mouthwash in the free healthcare pile. Because everything you do that influences your body is definitely health care.

    • Dcn. Keith


      Do I, therefore, have a right to demand that you pay for a procedure that takes a perfectly functional circulatory system and damages it, creating blockages and reducing my cardio-vascular health? In other words, do I have the “right” to demand that my “healthcare” coverage pay for fatty, sugary foods because they make me feel happy?

      Contraception IS NOT healthcare in that it INTERFERES with the normal biological processes that are part of the human body. Ovulation, fertilization and pregnancy ARE NOT diseases! They do not need to be treated! They need to be respected and understood.

    • Feeneyja

      This is interesting and relevant to legal precedent.

      The HHS Mandate and Legal Precedent

  • Addyson

    With all these arguements about how the Church is agianst ‘women’s health’ and ‘women’s rights’ it’s funny how society supports a worldview that totally and completely encourages the lustful use and objectification of women. Funny how the Church believes sex is for love and unity, while the culture says it is for pleasure… and women are objects for pleasure.

    Yet clearly the Church is the one who oppresses women. Society says women should use birth control so as to be constantly sexually available… without the inconvenient consequence of parenthood. The Church says to use abstinence to space births, and so to foster love and self-control, to show the woman that she is worth waiting for. But again, it is the Church that is misogynist and degrading to woment.

  • Jeanette O’Toole

    Marc, you didn’t continue on with the list …

    > have considerably more marital relations [hear this guys?!??];

    > share a deeper intimacy with spouse than those who contracept;
    > realize a deeper level of communication with spouse; …

  • Anonymous

    So, you agree with the Catholic bishops call to maintain support to the unemployed? Or are you a bad Catholic because you pick and choose selectively from your faith in order to prop up your real priority – politics? Or maybe this is just a single-issue blog?

    • Cal-J

      “So, you agree with the Catholic bishops call to maintain support to the unemployed?”

      . . .

      I fail to realize how the modification of current health insurance technicalities effects the unemployed, who wouldn’t have it in the first place.

      ” Or are you a bad Catholic because you pick and choose selectively from your faith in order to prop up your real priority – politics?”

      “Picking and choosing selectively” suggests he rejects certain Catholic teachings.

      Since you spoke in plural, name two.

      “Or maybe this is just a single-issue blog?”

      Hi! Welcome to Bad Catholic! Can I direct you to the backlog?

      • Anonymous

        Again, I don’t thing I’ve been very clear. Since you’re far more familiar with the blog, could you please point out anywhere that Marc has taken a position against the Republican party, but with the USCBC. I believe two recent examples may include their effort to not reduce food aid and unemployment support. I’d be very keen to see what he’s written on the USCBC’s position on these issues, because my strong impression is that Republican policies trump (a certain version of conservative American) catholicism, and such examples would put that issue to rest entirely.

        • Cal-J

          Cameron, this isn’t a political blog. Maybe 5-10% of the blog touches on political issues.

          Marc in particular has no anti-Republican posts so he must be Republican? Dude, the argument from silence is not a valid arguing tactic.

        • Mary H

          I understand and sympathize with your question.

          As Catholics, while abortion need not be the only issue, we are supposed to give it priority unless another issue has “proportional” impact when we’re voting. That means that any issue we put above life issues has to be proportionate to the killing of over a million pre-born children a year. It would probably take something like nuclear war to equal that.

          In comparison to that, issues like immigration and unemployment tax are definitely secondary. If there were actual pro-life Democratic candidates (are there any?), we might actually be able to discuss the various ways to implement health care, increase jobs, and so on.

          A lot of what he writes doesn’t have anything directly to do with politics at all. And I’m pretty sure he disagrees with Santorum’s view of torture and the support some Republicans have of the death penalty.

          As for “a consistent tone of smarmy omniscient derision”, I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder. I agree with him that a lot of the culture’s view are ridiculous, especially when compared with the Catholic faith. I think he’s funny and fun to read.

          GenY Catholics are so fun.

    • Mikey

      Dude, you’re ridiculous.
      Single-issue blog?!

      • Cal-J

        Mikey, if more than 20% of your post is a straight string of caps, it’s not good.

        That’s called feeding the troll. They love to feed on anger.

        Big internet no no.

        • Mikey

          Eh. it gets the point across.

          • Cal-J

            Assuming they get past the internet shouting. I find it more effective to point out the flaws in their post and, if they counter, point out the flaws that may follow.

            I appreciate the heart, though. Keep that up.

          • Anonymous

            Are you calling me a troll, Cal? :D

          • Cal-J

            Nah, I was goin’ more for… Ogre. Maybe wendigo.

          • Anonymous

            Wendigo? A cannibal? That’s kinda harsh. I’d like to think I’m promoting debate in a civilized manner. Believe it or not, I’m not doing this just to upset people. :D

      • Anonymous

        ‘Dude,’ perhaps I’m ignorant. I’d like to thing I just communicated poorly, and so will to give it another go. So let me try to be a little clearer: (1) I have read posts on the blog that don’t demonstrate a fundamentalist-like preoccupation with sex, although many recent ones do; (2) they still however demonstrate a consistent tone of smarmy omniscient derision; (3) there is a conspicuous avoidance of recognising – let alone supporting – any USCBC position that clashes with Republican Party policy; (4) in the interest of not being ignorant, familiarise yourself with the definition of hyperbole, and then go read the post again; (5) in case it’s still a little ambiguous or subtle (though I guess Marc is about as comfortable with ambiguity as you are with subtlety) I WAS TRYING TO COMBINE POINTS (1) AND (3) IN AN EXAGGERATED FORM OF MARC’S OWN FAVOURED FORM OF COMMUNICATION (2).

        However, it should suffice to reiterate the central point (3) on which my responders have failed to engage (though I do appreciate the explanation of ‘Bad Catholic’).

    • Mary H

      I believe the “Bad Catholic” name for his blog is because the natural conclusion you come to when you try to actually “live” the Catholic faith is that you’re a “bad Catholic.” Which is not a bad place to be. It means you’ve actually started taking it seriously (you might make that statement of other Christian faiths as well).

      And I’m not just talking about the current issue of this post: there’s the whole ‘love your enemy’, ‘feed the poor’, ‘heal the sick’ part as well, but there’s pretty wide-spread agreement on that.

  • Anonymous

    agreed! also did you hear that all 180 of the Catholic bishops have spoken out against the mandate????? :)

    • Cal-J

      All 180 bishops did something, together and forcefully. (Snark: Historic moment).

  • Joe Clark

    I think, quite simply, the purpose is to force Catholics to choose between disobeying God and disobeying Caesar. When staying in the Church means civil disobedience, and possibly going to jail, the Left is betting that the vast majority of Catholics will leave the church, and the faithful minority will be marginalized as crazy zealots. It’s a strategy to destroy the Church in this country.

  • Feeneyja

    Contraception is NOT preventative medicine! Pregnancy is not an illness or injury. If you remember correctly, the right to contraception was seen as a right to privacy. A right to privacy in the bedroom is certainly not something that falls under universal right to healthcare. Why can’t people get that? Let’s take our dollars and invest in the preventative healthcare that actually addresses the health epidemic we have in this country (heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, per the CDC).

  • Reality_Check

    Here are some FACTS about how contraception has positively changed the world:

    1. In countries with the highest fertility rates, women have the shortest life expectancies.

    Women in Sierra Leone live half as long as women in developed countries and 10 years less than their African counterparts in some African countries, and no, this is not merely due to the history of civil unrest. One in eight Sierra Leonean women die in childbirth. In other countries like Chad, where women are likely to give birth to six or more children, women are lucky to live to age 55.

    2. In countries with the highest fertility rates, women have the fewest rights.

    In countries like Niger and Mali, both of which fall in the top 10 for countries with the greatest number of births per woman, women and young girls can still be forced into marriages. A recent case in Niger documented a 9-year-old girl forced to “marry” a 50-year-old man.

    3. Countries with low contraception usage have the lowest number of women who can read.

    In Afghanistan, which continues to have one of the highest fertility rates in the world, and where contraception knowledge and access remains limited (and women give birth to an average of six children), 87 percent of women cannot read. In Sierra Leone the number is 71 percent.

    4. Men who physically abuse their partners fear contraception. (Think about that for a moment.)

    A national study of more than 3,000 abused women conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that one in four said their partners sabotaged, hid, or prohibited use of birth control as a form of control in an already abusive relationship. These findings confirmed those of a number of smaller studies.

    5. When contraception availability goes down, abortion rates go up.

    Abortion remains illegal in the Philippines, but for the last decade the nation’s capital, Manila, has been at the heart of a battle over contraception. Contraception was stigmatized and difficult to access prior to 2000, when contraception was prohibited altogether by an executive order. (It is not unusual for women who have come of age in the city during the time period of the ban to have more than 10 children.) While the abortion rate in the country has barely changed in recent years, the rate in Manila increased by more than 10 percent. So has the number of women dying of complications from illegal abortions.

    6. Countries with the highest fertility rates have the highest poverty rates.

    Ten of the countries with the world’s highest fertility rates are located in Africa. Between 1990 and 2001, the African continent experienced what is deemed “extreme population growth.” The number of those on the continent living in “extreme poverty” ballooned from 231 million to 318 million.

    7. Before contraception* American women were statistically more likely to die in childbirth than they are today.

    At the start of the 20th century, the maternal mortality rate in America was approximately 65 times higher than it is today. During the 17th and 18th centuries, long before modern contraception became widely available, the average American woman gave birth to between five and eight children. Her likelihood of dying in childbirth increased with every birth. The number of women who died in childbirth or its immediate aftermath was one in every eight women.

    *Forms of contraception have been available since ancient times (click here to see ancient forms of contraception), but contraception did not become widely available in the U.S. until the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. Click here to read about Griswold and other key contraception cases.)

    8. Before contraception men greatly outnumbered American women in colleges.

    Today, women outnumber men. In 1960, just before the Griswold decision, only 35 percent of college students were women. Today women represent at least 57 percent of students on most college campuses.

    9. Before contraception there were no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

    Katherine Graham became the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she became Chairman of the Washington Post Company in 1973. She inherited the publication from her husband, who had inherited the role from Graham’s father, but Graham succeeded far beyond anyone’s expectations. Since her trailblazing ascent, more than a dozen other women have reached the highest rung on the corporate ladder with a record-breaking 18 women serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in 2011, the largest number in history.

    10. Before contraception women were virtually invisible in Congress.

    Just before contraception became officially legal in the U.S. (1965), there were 20 women in the House of Representatives and one female senator, Margaret Chase Smith. None of them were women of color. (Patsy Mink, an Asian American, was elected to her first term the year Griswold was decided by the Supreme Court.) Today there are 76 women in the House. Fourteen of them are African American, four of them are Asian American, and seven are Latina. There are 17 women in the Senate.

    • Renee

      Had a baby in law school, graduated, and passed the bar.

      And Nancy Pelosi has FIVE CHILDREN!

      • Cal-J

        She’s also the youngest of six. And has eight grandchildren. I must admit, I’m intrigued by the idea of how the Pelosi family discusses “family values”.

    • Joe Gehret

      Does that make it a right though? Or, more important, does that make it a right that supercedes the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to freely practice our religion?

    • Cal-J

      ” In countries with the highest fertility rates, women have the shortest life expectancies.”

      Correlation. One does not cause the other.

      “In countries with the highest fertility rates, women have the fewest rights.”

      Correlation. One does not cause the other.

      “Countries with low contraception usage have the lowest number of women who can read.”

      Correlation. One does not cause the other.

      “Men who physically abuse their partners fear contraception. (Think about that for a moment.)”

      You seem to be implying that women only fail to contracept because their abusive partners deny it to them. You have managed to insult just about every woman who has ever chosen to have a baby.

      That would include YOUR MOTHER, who — I assume — chose to have YOU.

      “When contraception availability goes down, abortion rates go up.”

      Uh… yeah. And…?

      “Before contraception* American women were statistically more likely to die in childbirth than they are today.”

      Before modern medicine* Americans IN GENERAL were more likely to die from the [insert illness here] than they are today. Also, before contraception, “American women were statistically more likely” to have children than they are today.**

      *Medicine in general is constantly improving. People are increasingly less likely to die all the time.

      ” Before contraception men greatly outnumbered American women in colleges.”

      Correlation. One does not cause the other, although I admit you swung a bit closer this time.

      “Before contraception there were no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.”

      Correlation. One does not cause the other.

      “Before contraception women were virtually invisible in Congress.”

      Correlation. Again.

      You have consistently failed to prove that Contraception has done anything for any body. All the above things you point out relate to contraception only TANGENTIALLY. The choice to contracept is completely independent from… yeah, everything in your list.

      • Mikey

        You’re amazing.

        It’s facts from the Huffington Posts.

        Most liberal media source on the planet.

        Every article it puts out is basically waiting to get smashed with a giant sledge hammer.

        • Cal-J


        • Tally Marx

          Could you please provide a link to these Huffington Post “facts”?
          I’m just curious…and looking for subjects for future blog posts…

      • Cal-J

        I tell a lie. The Contraception / Abortion thing makes sense. Congratulations, you have proceeded from 100% bogus to 90% bogus.

        • Mikey

          But that’s only because they will be having stupid unprotected sex and get pregnant, the society we live in promotes premarital sex, so there’s nothing we as Americans can really do to lower that stat. Well, we can try, but it’s only a drop in the enormous bucket to a Utopian society, which is not really achievable.

          • Cal-J

            Eh, I don’t care for the fatalism. I’d also refrain from describing that particular kind of sex “unprotected”, since that frames the issue in terms of contraception as a good thing. Contraception doesn’t particularly “protect” anyone from anything.

          • Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

            Not true. It protects them from true happiness.

          • Cal-J

            My mistake. There I go again, assuming “protection” is meant to thwart a bad thing.

            Bad Cal-J.

        • Feeneyja

          Yes, it can reduce abortions, but only in perfect application. There is actually a Guttamacher report on this. In some places, where not everyone is on board with perfect contraception, abortions are quite high. This is because abortions are used to manage fertility. And this gets an important point. Regardless of how low abortion rates go, it is necessary to have abortion on demand as a necessary back-up if the goal is to use artificial means to manage fertility. And if you mandate contraception coverage, you can bet the next step is to mandate abortion coverage.

          • Cal-J

            “There is actually a Guttamacher report on this. In some places, where not everyone is on board with perfect contraception, abortions are quite high.”

            Is that the “Incidences of abortion drop over the [totally not arbitrary] 80% of society contraceptive use” one?

          • Feeneyja

            Here it is:

            Relationships Between Contraception and Abortion: A Review of the Evidence


          • Cal-J

            “Once use of highly effective contraceptive methods rises to 80%, the potential demand for abortion, and its incidence, will fall.”

            Yeah, this is it. Thankee.

          • Mary H

            Contraception can also lead to higher rates of abortion because it leads to a higher rate of sexually activity, which means that there are going to be more failures. Failures that are more likely to be under circumstances when the woman is not prepared in any way for a pregnancy.

            All the arguments on contraceptive access lowering abortion rates is based on the idea that the rate of sexual activity stays fairly constant, which is a very unrealistic expectation.

            I’m not saying that contraception use always increases abortion rates. I’m just saying you can’t assume that contraception use decreases abortion rates.

          • Feeneyja

            I agree. I’m not a fan of Guttamacher studies. They are very biased. As you say here, and the study implies, in order for a reduction you must have perfect and universal application of contraception. And regardless of the rate of abortion, any system that requires abortion on demand to maintain desired fertility is not one I can buy into.

      • Jake E

        You, sir, are fantastic.

    • Anonymous

      Most countries with the highest fertility rates tend to be below the equator.

      Before contraception we didn’t have microwaves.

      FYI – Correlation does not prove causation.

      In countries with the highest fertility rates women often don’t have access to prenatal care. The high fertility rate also offsets the increased infant mortality due to inadequate nutrition and medical attention.

      • Renee

        Yes, washing machines and microwaves, the real reason why woman have time to do other work outside the home. Even with contraception, if someone had to wash dishes by hand or cook over a fire, women wouldn’t be in the work place.

        • Renee

          And freezers, prepacked foods, and drive-thrus.

      • Feeneyja

        I lived and worked on public health issues in rural Niger. Before you start spewing stats, I suggest you take a very long plane ride and experience it for yourself. Access to healthcare (and I don’t mean contraceptions here), clean water, hygiene practices, education, and an overall difficult life (collecting wood, carrying water, planting and cultivating by hand) are the causes of the health issues in Niger. I got to see the contraception campaign in action. Coercing and forcing women into contraception because (and I quote, from the educated city family planning expert) “they are too stupid to know what to do without it.”. Yeah, that’s REALY women’s health and rights.

        You also seem to forget that large families are needed in that kind of world. You die if you don’t have enough children to help you.

        • Cal-J

          Okay, just stepping in here before somebody assumes somebody attacked somebody else.

          Feeneyja, forgive me and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you may have misunderstood the tone of ladycygnus’ statement.

          Ladycygnus: “In countries with the highest fertility rates women often don’t have access to prenatal care.”

          Feeneyja: “Access to healthcare (and I don’t mean contraceptions here), clean water, hygiene practices, education, and an overall difficult life (collecting wood, carrying water, planting and cultivating by hand) are the causes of the health issues in Niger.”

          No incompatibility, here.

          Ladycygnus: “The high fertility rate also offsets the increased infant mortality due to inadequate nutrition and medical attention.”

          Feeneyja: “You also seem to forget that large families are needed in that kind of world. You die if you don’t have enough children to help you.”

          No incompatility, here, either.

          Feeneyja, are you responding to Reality_Check? Because the more I read your post, the more I think you are. Assuming you did, I’ll advise you to specify whom you’re responding to when you branch off, because it seems like you aimed this at Ladycygnus.

          Sorry. The busybody tries to diffuse tension.

          • Jacob

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure Feeneyja meant to respond to Reality_Check.

          • Cal-J

            I figured, too, but fights over misunderstandings are easy to start, and this is the internet, where fights in general are easier to start.

          • Feeneyja

            Sorry! I hit the wrong reply button! It was Reality Check. And I will specify next time.

          • Cal-J


    • Mikey

      What does birth control have to do with running fortune 500 comps?
      That is a completely ludicrous argument.

      Homie-G. Women have been in congress since before the freaking WOMEN’S suffrage movement. Please, your number has grown about 80. WHICH IS NOT EXPONENTIAL, AT YOUR ARGUMENTS RAGE, WOMEN WILL STILL BE INVISIBLE TO CONGRESS FOR THE NEXT 1000 YEARS.

      About your college statement, that’s not because of contraceptives, that’s because of WOMEN’S RIGHTS.

      Childbirth= medical advances. THEY NOW HAVE C-SECTIONS. ohemmmgeeeeeeeee.

      AND. Your first five arguments are referencing to DEVELOPING countries, NOT America. Get it right.

      Huffington Post is very biased, obviously.

    • Anonymous

      I’m gonna throw this out here. I’m not even defending the arguments made by Marc here. Ultimately, I think he’s correct that marriage, love, and sex are aimed at children. And our ultimate aims are best for us. But it’s not a statistical issue you can “prove” with studies.

      At any rate, I’m gonna address your arguments here. Don’t you think it’s at least a Little possible that the statistics you are giving are a Little bit spurious? That is, all of the countries you mentioned are mostly poor and/or have been in serious political or religious turmoil. They have huge problems that could cause problems to women that have Nothing to do with access to contraception. More than likely, contraception came after other political or social changes. It’s those changes that are directly tied to women surviving, children not having to marry 50 year olds, etc. Contraception is not the immediate reason.

      I don’t like either side trying to use statistics, etc. to prove that something is “good.” I mean, what I just said could also be applied to Marc’s argument. That Catholics who practice NFP probably have better marriages is probably more tied to the particular couple’s worldview in general than it is to the NFP. The NFP just follows that healthy worldview. It’s not like a couple who has a perverted view of sex and marriage would suddenly be “cured” and “happy” if they started practicing NFP. In the same way, introducing contraception to countries where people have no money and who abuse women would not magically make the other problems go away. In certain cases, it’d probably make it Worse.

      In other words, Correlation Does Not Imply Causation.

      Anyway, the things you mentioned are not even close to directly correlated to the access to contraception. And also, I honestly don’t think 8, 9, and 10 are all that great. Less moms to raise children properly. Awesome.

      • Queso

        “marriage, love, and sex are aimed at children.”

        You might want to think about rephrasing that…

        • Cal-J

          Alright. Marriage as a government-recognized bond recognizing and formalizing the stated vows of two individuals makes sense only in the context of the natural fertility of the male-female bond, where its acknowledgment of the bond can lend elements of stability and security to the sheer potential of human nature in action.

          The government has no business recognizing any given relationship solely on the basis that two people claim to have a deep and abiding affection for each other.

          • Alexandra


          • Cal-J

            “where its acknowledgment of the bond can lend stability and security to the sheer potential of human nature in action.”

    • Needpeace911

      I’m sorry but all of your points are non-sequitur. Life expectancy and poverty are irrelevant to contraceptives. Granted your arguments are true, you must concur that before contraceptives everyone lives in poverty? Or are you saying that people without contrceptives (devout dogmatic Catholics) are deficient in health? Fact is whether or not contrceptives exist, prosperity will exist and health care will develop naturally over time. I could make an argument in regard to point 1 that in countries where there are little food and resources, life expectancy tends to be shorter. Or in a nation where trading and resources are limited, poverty rate will climb.

      Point 4 is fallacious. I can point to various cases of abuse that exist right here, in United States and many other advanced nations. I’ve heard of many factors contribute to domestic abuse, but contraceptive availability have never been one.

      Point 7,8,9,10 are simply ignorant. To attribute all these wonderful things to contraception would be an injustice for courageous women who have fought valiantly for their rights. Women who understood the importance of family and children.

      • Anonymous

        Women who understood the importance of family and children.

        Nice back-handed compliment there. So the truly courageous women are those whose worth is defined on how they approached the role of wife and mother, not on how they contributed as individuals to society?

        • Alexandra

          I was reading something on a feminist blog recently about how Generation X was the first generation where the majority of girls grew up thinking about themselves as capable of doing anything with their lives other than being mothers and housewives. But, of course that had nothing to do with contraception. It has to do with women’s rights, which couldn’t possibly have something to do with the fact that women were in complete control of their fertility for the first time ever. That’d just be silly.

          • Anonymous

            …I was being sarcastic. Are you agreeing with or chastising me?
            …I can’t tell. :’(

          • Alexandra

            Oh man, I’m so bad at sarcasm on the internet. That or people just say such amazingly outrageous things here and mean it it’s so hard to tell if people are serious or just delusional.

            I’m agreeing. :)

          • Anonymous

            That’s okay. I use sarcasm way too much anyhow. I’m going to start tagging my sarcastic comments, lol.

          • Cal-J

            ” It has to do with women’s rights, which couldn’t possibly have something to do with the fact that women were in complete control of their fertility for the first time ever.”

            Interesting take.

            I was under the impression the the human body was an impressive piece of dozens of different coordinated systems consisting of trillions of working parts acting, dying, and replacing themselves over the course of anywhere from hours to years in a series of cyclic mechanisms.

            I didn’t realize there was any aspect of the body we were in complete control over.

          • Mary H

            “full control of their fertility”

            Hmm. I must have missed the memo.

            I thought that about half of all abortions were for women who were using contraceptives. Oh, I forgot. Abortion isn’t a *failure* to control fertility, it *is* control of fertility.

            And I guess all the women who put off having children too long and then found out they couldn’t are in “full control of their fertility”, right? Because controlling fertility doesn’t have anything to do with making sure you *can* have babies. It just means that you can have sex without getting pregnant or at least without having a live birth.

            And of course all those advances are mainly due to the right not to have a baby as a result of sex no matter what – excuse me – I mean “full control of one’s fertility”. It wouldn’t have anything to do with silly things like getting the vote, or access to higher education, or a just plain lower maternal death rate because of better prenatal care and antibiotics.

        • Jake E

          Right because one cannot be a contributor to society AND have a family! That’s simply preposterous!

          • Anonymous

            You’re missing the point. The original statement implied that one would be a mother/wife first, and a person second, not the other way around. It’s not that the two are mutually exclusive, but rather the problem lies in which is more important.

          • Mary H

            Not at all. The “contraception” list said having fewer children was good because it meant that women could have great careers.

            The original statement said merely that the courageous women who fought for women’s rights “knew the value of family and children.”

            You’re the one who reads that to mean “that one would be a mother/wife first, and a person second.” Why does having a career mean that you’re being a “person” and being a mother/wife doesn’t?

            What (I hope) you meant, was that “one would be a mother/wife first, and have a career second.” Both are ways of “being a person” and contributing to society.

            We could discuss the relative values and compatibility of those two activities, but I refuse to agree that favoring the mother/wife option means a woman is less of a person.

        • Cal-J

          When society mocks and regards with snide comments the idea of large families (the Duggars, for example), can’t be bothered to have children in pursuit of “contributing as individuals to society” (because the two are mutually exclusive, apparently), and are clamoring for their right to become Un-Pregnant, I’d say it requires a fair bit of courage for a woman to appreciate the worth of being a good wife and mother.

          • Anonymous

            See my reply to Jake E.

        • Mary H

          “Nice back-handed compliment there. So the truly courageous women are those whose worth is defined on how they approached the role of wife and mother, not on how they contributed as individuals to society?”

          Wow! What’s that supposed to mean? The list of the advantages of contraception implied, in the last few items especially, that success in careers was due to the fact that women had fewer children. Needpeace911 said that the courageous women who fought for women’s rights understood the importance of family and children. Which included both Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had eleven children, and Susan B Anthony who had none.

          So what exactly are you saying? That the kind of wife and mother a woman is doesn’t affect her contribution, as an individual, to society? Or simply that a woman who chooses more children over a better career don’t contribute, as an individual, to society?

        • Del

          Frankly, I know that compared to what my wife does as wife and mother, my engineering work will always be trash. Or, it would be, were it not in support of her. Medicine is the only career path I can think of that comes somewhat close to the objective value of housewifery.

    • This Guy


      This entire post is unrelated in any way what-so-ever to the topic of discussion.

      You lose….

    • dont_condescend_to_the_poor

      These all seem like corollaries. Also, I’ve noticed that people really dance around actual number of pregnancies per woman when it comes to the countries with the highest birth rates. Because of longer-term breastfeeding, they do not have the “scary” numbers that some people like to imply. There is no country where the average woman is giving birth to 15 children. More necessary than providing chemical contraception or condoms with a high failure rate (in actual use vs. perfect use), we should be looking at prenatal care, prenatal vitamins, nutrition and safe water. You can think I’m backwards, that I and my out-of-touch bishops have no idea what we are talking about. But I am so disgusted by the soft racism that goes on when talking about women in “third world” countries. Sometimes the values of the first world are incredibly off the mark.

    • dont_condescend_to_the_poor
    • Tally Marx


      Cal-J put it pretty well. There are just a few things he missed.

      #2: you have apparently never heard of China.

      #4: men who physically use their partners love contraception.

      #6: again, China. Low birth rate, bad economy. Three guesses to figure out why.

      #8: I’m in college, but not on bc. Explain that.

      • Cal-J

        Place this as a reply to my post. It might be seen more often. More “likes” for you.

    • Brent

      Wow, someone needs to learn the difference between correlation and causation.

      • XIX

        Better yet, learn between cause & effect.

        Or fact & opinion.

    • dont_condescend_to_the_poor

      After thinking about this for a few days, I felt compelled to respond further.

      The definition of “education” can vary according to culture, time, and place. We tend to think of oral cultures as primitive and unreliable. But the ancients, including Plato, thought that writing was a sign of being undisciplined and ignorant. They valued memory and oration much more highly than we do in western culture today. Similarly, a friend who is a medievalist was telling me that the only documentation we have for literacy rates during the medieval period were for literacy in Latin, which was about 10% (contrasted to measured literacy rates — of citizens — in ancient Greece of about 80% and even higher in ancient Rome). The literacy rates of the local (“vulgar”) languages were certainly higher. But the value of education during that period was not on the written word. It is naive to assume that humans suddenly devolved and then just as suddenly evolved. What is more accurate is to say that priorities shifted, and that what was valued as “education” gradually changed.

      All this to say, the arrogance of those of us in the west is astonishing. When we talk about our sisters in the third world as though they are ignorant or incapable, it shows our own ignorance, and is shameful. How do I know that there are not dozens, hundreds, thousands of women in the poorest parts of the world who do not have deeper understanding, sharper intellect, and more wisdom than I? How could I dare to presume that my ability to use contraception gives me more of any of those things?

      What we do have in the west is more money. What we need to do with that money is to help those who do not have access to safe water, nutritious food, prenatal care, immunization, etc. to obtain those things that we know to be vital to human comfort and health. When infant mortality declines, so too does the birth rate — this is the normal state, regardless of contraception.

      I do not romanticize poverty. But I think it stands to reason that in this culture of excess, where people admit to feeling greater depression and unhappiness than at any time in the past (didn’t the Beatles say “money can’t buy me love”? nor can it buy happiness, content, or peace), when we are looking around every corner to look for ways to “declutter” (our homes, our lives, or minds, our souls), and when “simplify!” has become the mantra of many, that making assumptions about the value of a life lived even in poverty is incredibly arrogant.

  • Renee

    Even the late Sen. Ted Kennedy would disagree with Obama.

    Scott Brown Following in Ted Kennedy Tradition with Conscience Clause

    The progressive movement is in an all out war on the so called Blunt Amendment and Scott Brown’s push for it. They are hitting at the phrase “moral conviction” as a code word for all people to stop providing birth control coverage. Jim Braude hit Brown repeatedly last night with this phrase.
    The problem for the left is this is the exact same language used by Ted Kennedy to define a conscience clause. In 1994 and 1995 Ted Kennedy introduced health care bills. Both of which had seemingly identical language regarding a moral conviction clause.

    “A Health Professional Or A Health Facility May Not Be Required To Provide An Item Or Service In The Comprehensive Benefit Package If The Professional Or Facility Objects To Doing So On The Basis Of A Religious Belief Or Moral Conviction.” (S. 2296, Introduced 7/19/94)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you… again thank you Marc!… I especially hope that everyone reads and understand this. As a woman, I’m tired of being accused of not supporting “women’s rights” because I chose to believe in the “right” to practice my faith. What a cop-out of a response!! I am a woman who has exercised her right to true freedom her whole life (especially the freedom from reliance on pharmaceutical companies and the government!) I am able to live the way I do because I was raised by parents who understood the importance of faith and living a moral life… a life that would allow me to be able to give freely and not take or expect things from others. I was raised in a home with 6 sisters (and 3 brothers) by a mother and father who chose freely to enter into the sacrament of marriage and accept all the children God would bless them with. We learned early from our parents the importance of self-worth and self-reliance from our mother; who herself started supporting who own family following the depression at the age of 14. My parents raised 7 daughters to be educated, self-sufficient and to free to live in conjunction with their faith. Along with my six sisters I have supported myself, paid my own way through college, graduate school, and provide for my family in a way that I could walk away from a professional career and find greater self-worth in raising my children in way consistent with my faith. What I’ve learned about women’s rights is that true power comes from the way in which we chose to live and being responsible for ourselves… not from waiting for the government to take care of our wants and needs. I want women to have rights… not to feel that they must rely upon a bunch of bureaucrats, lobbyists and pharmaceutical companies… not only was that reliance never supposed to be a right, it is wrong!!

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad you were able to live according to your own convictions. I wanted to continue with my career after I had kids as well as enjoy my marriage, which meant using contraception.

      The problem is not practicing religion; it’s that the Catholic bishops only care about the religious practice of Catholic employers. They want an exception that allows any employer to refuse to provide health insurance that covers anything he, and I do mean HE here, doesn’t like. Health insurance is not a gift from the employer, it’s part of the wages earned by employees and belongs to them. Permitting employers to dictate how employees use their wages creates the most oppressive world I can imagine.

      • Anonymous

        Karen… when I worked for as a graduate assistant and my first professional jobs out of college I had good health insurance… my benefits were negotiated under state teachers union… the best in the nation… no copays… no deductibles… no contraception! The choice to manage that part of the life was truly my responsibility and decision… and I didn’t feel pressured by anyone to use or practice contraception in any way other than what I felt was right. In fact as a Catholic, I didn’t feel any pressure from my faith. They provided me with the reasoning by using abortifacient was inconsistent with the teaching of my faith and it really was up to me… “free will.” The only pressure I had to deal with was my own conscience. Today, while my health insurance includes co-pays, deductibles, and contraception (I don’t work for the church) I am bombarded with advertisements from the pharmaceutical companies every time I’ve had a hospital stay or go to my doctor. In fact, my doctor has a checklist and he routinely asks me if I’m using birth control and gives hands me information on them… even though he knows I’m not interested. Its hospital policy and they know what is covered by my insurance. I swipe my shopping card at the grocery or drug store and it spits out coupons for condoms and other over the counter methods of birth regulators. “They” work hard to influence your decisions and make you think there products are the best choice for you… they are your ticket to freedom. To put the issue of birth regulation in the hands of your employer, your government, etc… is to give up your freedoms. You will be at their mercy. You might think you have a choice now, but once you become dependent on them, you will never be free. If your employer pays for it, what do you think his reasoning might be? Why does he/she care about your personal decision to have children? Think about it… less dependents make you a cheaper employee to keep, less pregnancies equals less pregnancy leaves and absences from work… do you think it might be a control issue? If you really believe that health insurance is a benefit and part of you wages… take a look at that policy see what you are paying for… you don’t use half of it and you don’t need it. Opt out and take the cash instead. Go see what your contraception costs at Planned Parenthood… I bet it will be cheaper than what you are paying in pharmacy copays. This is a dangerous game and it’s not about contraception… the government picked that issue to manipulate and use women to fight for them. Don’t be a pawn for the bureaucrats and the pharmaceutical companies.

      • Andrew

        Employers dictate how much they pay employees. Is that also oppressive? Insurance comes out of wages. If they don’t provide insurance, buy your own.

      • Molly

        Health insurance is indeed a “benefit” from the employer. The employer is not required to offer it (yet, anyway). It is called a benefit because it is an extra cost/work to the employer to provide it. I worked as an HR Director for seven years. It would be far cheaper, believe me, for an employer to not offer insurance. But good, respectful employers try, to the best of their ability.

  • Renee

    Insurers see costs in Obama birth control rule

    “Last week, insurers including Aetna Inc questioned the precedent set by Obama’s plan that would force them to pay for coverage with no clear way of recouping the expense.

    But insurers may still seek ways to pass through such costs, either by increasing premiums to the same employers or to other corporate clients.”

  • Needpeace911

    so we decide health care should not pay for insulin, dental, antibiotic but instead it’ll pay for sex?

    • Queso

      Pretty much

  • Anonymous

    Regarding the commonly cited benefits of NFP (low divorce rate, et al.), I have to point out that correlation is not causation. Using NFP does not necessarily *lead to* happier marriages, it may be that the sorts of folks who use NFP are the sorts of folks for whom divorce is not an option. Correlation, not causation.

  • Amanda

    Exactly! ‘Rights’ should strictly be limited to things like Right to live, have food to eat, water to drink, a place to live and to be treated in a way that doesn’t cause harm physically, socially or emotionally. People definietly have a right to these things. Everythings else the government pays for is a ‘privlige’ to have. You should not expect it.

    • Anonymous

      No rights to health! Get sick and you’re on your own!


      • Cal-J

        Alright, we have the right to health. This development helps you… how?

        • Anonymous

          Well now the question becomes, “How much health?”
          Enough to keep you alive, in whatever capacity that entails?
          Enough to keep you out of the hospital?
          Maybe enough that you can live your life as you wish, free from undesired or enforced rules?

          • Cal-J

            “Maybe enough that you can live your life as you wish, free from undesired or enforced rules?”

            You might just want to reign in that last statement a bit, Vision. I’m not entirely certain that, in the context of healthcare, you want to start declaring and defending someone’s “right” to do dangerous things to themselves.

            You’re so vague your last qualification could easily include somebody who decided to juggle active chainsaws without bothering to read up on juggling or chainsaw handling. That you bring it up in consideration of “the extent of healthcare” makes it sound like this man would be entitled to have others pay for his hospital bills should something go awry.

          • Anonymous

            Actually, I don’t want to reign it in.
            People are guilty of stupid stuff like your chainsaw example. Are they SOL? Should Hospitals and Insurance Companies include a stupidity clause? “I’m sorry you amputated your foot sir, but jumping off the dock as the boat was going by to show off to your girlfriend was stupid. Here’s a cane, and good luck.”
            You’re missing the point that those who can pay for health care (esp hospital visits) do pay, and those who don’t, the rest of us pick up the tab by paying the hospital $50 for a plastic sleeve for the thermometer when they take our temperature. I’m arguing that health care in general is out of control in terms of cost and lack of care in necessary areas (those who don’t pay, but visit the ER for a cough because they can’t afford anything else).
            Obamacare does too much and not enough. It’s a half-arsed move towards socialized medicine while placing limits on privitized medicine at the same time. We either need the European/Canadian system where everyone pays and everyone sees the doctor, or we need a system where insurance doesn’t get to make a profit, but private industries get to make different plans available.

          • Mary H

            “We either need the European/Canadian system where everyone pays and everyone sees the doctor, or we need a system where insurance doesn’t get to make a profit, but private industries get to make different plans available.”

            I like the second option. I’m nervous about “one size fits all” solutions, but something also doesn’t seem right to me about people making money off of sickness. That goes beyond the insurance companies to the hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies. It almost seems to me they should all be non-profits.

            But I don’t know if that makes any sense.

  • Caroline

    Would someone please stop this blogger and all the others from continually posting that bogus NFP-related divorce rate? It can’t be proven and it’s been quoted for YEARS UPON YEARS (i.e. no longer relevant) with no real, empirical scientific evidence to back it up. I’m on your side, generally, but you’re basically just throwing an overused cliche out there as “proof.” Seriously, someone back me up here. Even if it’s the person with 8 kids whose marriage is going down the sh*tter. There’s way more divorces out there amongst NFP users than people want to admit, although it’s way lower that out there in “the world.”

    • Barefoot Mommy

      So how many women do you actually know who use a form of nfp?

      • Caroline

        I use NFP. But it’s not a cure-all and it’s certainly not natural. I’m a conservative Catholic, as well, for the record.

        • Barefoot Mommy

          How is it not natural? Do you mean abstainining doesn’t feel natural? Probably because we are called to mulitply, part of our evolutionary quest for survival ;-) At any rate, self-sacrifice and discipline are good things. Of course it’s not a cure- all. But it definitely encourages active communication between couples. Sometimes marriage is hard – name something truly worth having that isn’t at times difficult to attain.

          My question is still, how many women do you know who use a form of nfp? I know many, many women who have used it for decades – just compare those groups of women with others who have contracepted for decades – if you need a pool, look in homeschool circles or midwifery circles. Yes, I know that it’s all anectdotal, but the nfp crowd does seem to have longer and happier marriages going for them, and those women seem to have less health problems than my contracepting or sterilized friends.

          In an earlier post, I asked you if you’d heard of the Ova-Cue?

        • Debbie Sterbin Sercely

          Why do you say it isn’t natural?

    • Mary H

      Okay, I’ll back you up to some extent.

      I think the divorce rate is about 2% (I need a data source here, people) but I think we don’t have a big enough sample size to draw too many conclusions, except the one that most people who choose to use NFP right now thinks it improves their marriages, which is borne out (but not necessarily proven) by the low divorce rate (whether it is 2% or some other number).

      And of course there’s the *huge* disconnect on what the “natural” in NFP means. The blogger and most of the people here use it correctly, meaning “in accordance with the natural law” instead of what I think is the most common meaning of “natural” in common use: “not artificial”. And of course in the sense of “not artificial”, of course NFP isn’t natural: what’s so natural about taking your temperature every morning (if your method is or includes the thermal)?

      To tell the truth, that was one of the things that made me think the Church’s teaching was ridiculous for so long. How could preventing birth be wrong if you used artificial means but okay if you used natural means? And I’m still seeing that same argument coming up over and over again.

      The problem with contraceptives is that the separation of the unitive and procreative functions are contrary to our fundamental nature as humans, just as is the separation of food from nutrition. Contraception is contrary to our sexual nature, in this sense, in the same way as bulimia is contrary to our digestive nature; NFP is to sex as a sensible diet is to food.

      If people go back to primarily using NFP, you’re still going to have people who use it with a “contraceptive mentality” (although I believe that’s much harder to do with these methods than with contraception), you’re going to have people who view it as an onerous burden, you’re going to have people who fail to use it correctly, or for whom it doesn’t work and the only other options are abstinence.

      You’re right: NFP isn’t a cure-all. But frankly I just love to see bloggers who don’t apologize for NFP as if it were a sad-sack second-rate solution that for some arcane inexplicable theological reason those old, anachronistic, men impose on women. I love to see a blogger sharing NFP with enthusiasm as the good news it is.

      • Anonymous

        Personally, I’d rather see a correlative study on the users of NFP and their religious convictions vs divorce rate. I’d suspect a strong link between those who are “devout” or “fundamentalist”, both types of believers who have issues with divorce in the first place. (No insults intended here, just stating a viewpoint)

        • Mary H

          That would be interesting. I would predict that there will be two primary groupings: those who follow a religion that strongly discourages divorce, and those who use NFP / Fertility Awareness Methods because they have commitment to using natural processes / resources / whatever.

          It would be interesting to see if there is a difference in divorce rates between the two groups. I’d guess that mutual commitment of wife and husband to other values that most of society places less stress on will tend to lead to a lower divorce rate than the general population in any case.

          What will be interesting to see is whether there is a third group emerging, who are using it just because they think it’s the best available option, and see how that affects their marriages.

  • blake

    For those of you who are Catholic who go against Church teaching on contraception: im sure you have thought long and hard about the issue before making your decision to use contraception and no one has the right to condemn you for your choice. But i find that many people who dont like the Church’s teaching on contraception, usually havent been presented with the Church’s stance on it in a clear and historical enough way. So i invite you to click on this link i am putting here below to read an article which explains very thoroughly why the Church is firm on its contraception stance. You will see that the Church is not out to enslave women, like so many people love to proclaim. The Church loves women and has always stood for her dignity and equality. The Church has only ever wanted women to be educated and free to make the healthiest of choices for themselves so that they can be happy and truly respected in the world, no matter what fluctuating society or the mainstream think those things mean.

    This piece is excellent and so well written. Please read:

  • Jay E.

    I read this while listening to the 1812 Overture. Totally unintended, but…

  • Alexandra

    If people are going to continue to refute all of the points that those of us that disagree with you on the basis of correlation does not equal causation, you’re not allowed to make any claims yourself. Especially not that NFP leads to better sex or marriages. Deal?

    • Queso

      Listen to this guy, Marc. You can do better than correlation arguments, man.

      • Cal-J

        Alexandra’s a guy? Whoa.

        • Queso

          Oops. Sorry Alex.

    • Cal-J

      I’d say that’s fair, Marc. The people who practice NFP already put in the time and effort to care in regards to their relationship. That’s just a correlation.

    • Elaine

      At the same time though, correlation does not necessarily negate causation… they aren’t mutually exclusive. You (and by ‘you’ I mean Marc) just have to be careful not to mix the two up. :)

  • TJ

    Mark: I’m with you 100%. I think the Administration’s answer to your question would be that access to contraception is *not* a “human right,” but a policy objective of the highest order. Because the Administration has so narrowly circumscribed the religious exemption, the claim is that no right to religious liberty is being infringed.

    • TJ

      Marc, not Mark. Sorry.

  • Dcn. Keith

    A friend has pointed out that, in the past, laws governing marriage, etc., have been predicated on an understanding that the government sees procreation as a good to the benefit of society at large. It would appear that, the Administration, by treating pregnancy as a disease to be cured rather than a positive, natural process, has reversed that position. The Administration genuinely seems to think that human beings are bad and that procreation is a detriment to society. How society can long survive without it is not something they seem to address.

    However, if procreation is inherently bad in the view of the government, then anything that prevents it is good and anything the promotes it is bad. Hence the position on abortion and contraception.

    My Sexual Ethics professor recently said, “There is no such thing as an accidental pregnancy. If a woman becomes pregnant, everything worked EXACTLY as it was designed.”

    • Anonymous

      I struggle to reconcile a government that advocates procreation as much as this one does (and it does, tax breaks are a tip of the iceberg), in a world that is quickly reaching the breaking point, resource-wise. That’s like watching a plague-sized group of locus hatch and nod, “No, no, a few more can’t hurt!”
      As nice as we have it in our lovely 1st World bubble here in the US, the fact is, there are children within our own country that need a family far more than someone not even potentially born yet (I speak of contraceptives, not abortions).

      • Cal-J

        I struggle to reconcile a government that advocates procreation as much as this one does (and it does, tax breaks are a tip of the iceberg)”…

        Okay. Like what?

        “…in a world that is quickly reaching the breaking point, resource-wise.”

        A source would be good, here.

        “…there are children within our own country that need a family far more than someone not even potentially born yet (I speak of contraceptives, not abortions).”

        Yes, we know. Catholic Charities has been running adoption services for decades.

        If you would like to develop an argument out of any of these points, be my guest.

        • Alexandra

          Out of curiosity, do you acknowledge anthropogenically driven global climate change?

          • Cal-J

            Is that what they’re calling it now?

            I dunno, that “acknowledge” sounds a little loaded to me.

            Will the average temperature shift a little from year-to-year? Sure. Will it trend in certain directions? Sure.

            Do human activities have any bearing on this? Quite possibly. Is it major? …I dunno. Politicians certainly like claiming so.

            My issue with the idea of “anthropogenically driven global climate change” is that it’s the least possibly decisive (and yet still accusatory) load of ten dollar words I maybe have ever seen, and I know for a fact that it’s basically a lobotomized form of “man-made global warming”, which they switched to when that wouldn’t work anymore.

            Global warming as a looming catastrophe didn’t wash, and neither did the imminent ice age that preceded it.

            My problem is that the scientific community can’t make up its mind on what _exactly_ is the looming catastrophe. A fair few seem to think we’re heading for (“on the brink of”, in fact) an ice age. Again.

          • Alexandra

            The scientific community hasn’t made up its mind on what is happening with global climate change in the same way that the medical community hasn’t made up its mind on whether or not tobacco use causes cancer. Or the geological community hasn’t made up its mind on Noah’s flood. There’s a few dissenters, but there is an overwhelming consensus.

          • Babs

            Consensus is not science. Science follows a strict form of Hypothesis, test, test , test ad nauseum, theory, test ad nauseum, law. Consensus is still the hypothetical phase before proof.

          • Dan

            Babs, sorry, but what you’re saying is that the Law of Gravity or the Conservation of Energy are open to doubt since there is no formal, rigorous proof of either.

            Science is not mathematics or metaphysics.

        • Anonymous

          A source would be good, here.

          The World Bank
          The Population Reference Bureau
          University of Toronto

          Yes, we know. Catholic Charities has been running adoption services for decades.

          Which I wholeheartedly applaud. However, the Catholic Church is therefore in a unique position to know how bad it truly is with these kids. Yet it continues to push a “have as many as God gives you”, as opposed to, “Keep doing that NFP thing, I’ve got dozens of kids who need a loving home like yours!”
          Do you see my dilemma?

          If you would like to develop an argument out of any of these points, be my guest.
          Your serve, sir.

          • Cal-J

            “Yet it continues to push a “have as many as God gives you”, as opposed to, “Keep doing that NFP thing, I’ve got dozens of kids who need a loving home like yours!””

            I’m not sure I understand your last quote. Are you opposing the NFP (un-contracepted sex?) with the children in need of adoption?

          • Anonymous

            No, since NFP is the only way Catholics seem willing to have marital relations while limiting the number of children, I’m advocating doing only that and adopting instead of conceiving.

          • Del

            In order to confect a sacramental marriage, the couple would have to intend to have at least one child biologically, since the intent to reproduce is part of what constitutes matrimony. In a similar way, a car without an engine or wheels is not, in any meaningful sense, a car.

          • Barefoot Mommy

            The Church does not promote providentialism, but encourages prudences as far as family planning goes. Why is it that fertility awareness is taken for granted in cows and horses, yet is a vast mystery in humans? In my circle of friends, we all use nfp and family size varies. None of us have as many children as humanly possible!

          • Anonymous

            I don’t doubt your account, it’s just that your situation (in my personal experience, and nothing else) is the exception, not the norm.

          • Tally Marx

            Then my experience, and the experience of every single one of my friends, is the exception as well. The Church teaches responsible parenthood and promotes NFP. Most anyone who has taken marriage prep in the last fifteen years or so has also had–or been encouraged–to take NFP courses as well. The Duggers aren’t Catholic, and most Catholics (even devout ones) aren’t like the Duggers. I would say, from my personal experience, that your experience is the exception.

          • AttentionDeficitCatholic

            Agreed, using NFP is certainly the norm among people I know in my personal experience, so even if it is an exception, it cannot be an extraordinarily out of the ordinary.

          • Barefoot Mommy

            Perhaps a common mistake might be assuming that people who have children every 15 to 18 months are the ones using nfp. In general, they fall in the “no method” category. How do you know those couples in the pews with just a few children are not following church teachings? I’m blessed with a somewhat insulated life, surrounded by homeschooling, homebirthing, attached and happy mommas – we talk about church teachings quite a bit and thus I happen to know who actually does practice nfp. In most places, types of family planning aren’t the topic of polite conversation ;-)

          • John B

            Where do you live? My wife and I want to live there!

      • Dcn. Keith


        You need to go to The old saw that the planet is near a population tipping point is well proven to be nonsense. In fact, we are facing a very real danger called “demographic winter.”

        Finally, God instructed us to be fruitful and multiply. We produce more food for more people with less land and resources now than we did twenty years ago.

        There is not an overpopulation problem. There is an under population problem.

        • Alexandra

          Do you acknowledge anthropogenic climate change?

          • Anonymous

            I absolutely do. The evidence for human-behavior-driven climate change is overwhelming. However, like Deacon Keith said above, I would also say that every child has potential to help fix the problems with our planet.

            I also acknowledge that the Pop101 site, while providing good fast information, is not well-cited. I would encourage anyone interested in the demographics of the planet to check out the documentaries available here, which have in their special features full citations to peer-reviewed journals of economics, demography, sociology, and so forth, that back up the claims about depopulation being a much worse proble.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks, I’ll take a look at it. Do you know if deals with the problems that will come with climate change? With sea level rise, and with the increased water stresses?

            I don’t actually know a whole lot whether or not we’re over populated, but I do know that the consequences of global climate change are devastating and will cause huge problems in our ability to produce food and clean water.

          • Anonymous

            The Demographic Winter documentaries don’t touch on climate change a whole lot ; they stick pretty closely to demographers. However, you bring up an interesting link.

            Because rising sea levels will most immediately affect coastal areas that tend to be densely populated, it is those high-population areas that will be most devastated, and in the cases of developing countries whose infrastructure can’t cope with the effects, massive loss of population (for example- the tsunami in 2004 hit Indonesia so hard because its land is so close to sea level; this sort of problem will only get worse. In the US, we had our own taste of this with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but because our government has infrastructure we were able to save a lot of people. I bring this up because, as mentioned in the documentaries, the only areas of the world currently producing children consistently above replacement fertility tend to be developing areas, and those poorer countries will be hit the hardest by climate change, and that will make the demographic problem even worse. )

            The general argument is that poverty is not a problem or consequence of too many people, but rather a problem of corruption, poor management of natural resources, and other “human-created problems” that have nothing to do with the number of children people have.

          • fabius

            The big problem with the looming demographic collapse will be the economic implications. Welfare states were designed with an increasing population in mind to provide for the elderly. The pyramid is starting to flip.

            Potentially, a lot of the solutions for dealing with AGW would require a significant financial contribution from most of the world, and if the first world economics are struggling to cover their debts, that’s gonna be a problem.

            (FWIW I’m not a complete skeptic on AGW, but I’m not really going to worry about global temperatures until we get back up to 13th century temp levels).

          • Feeneyja

            This is a great, well-cited article about the myth of hunger and population.


            If you look at World Bank Public Data (easily available on Google), Population growth and fertility rates have been falling since the 1960′s. Lots of interesting data there. Fertility declines do not always correlate with contraception use or poverty.

            I think you bring up an interesting point thought. Actual population levels on a global scale may not matter as much as local distribution of populations. Cities, especially in poor countries, tend towards high populations and the environmental impacts of that can be great.

          • Anonymous

            I just wrote you a novel-length response, but I guess I included too many links in the text, because it was flagged for review, heaven only knows how long that will take. Gah, that’s frustrating!

          • Alexandra

            I’m replying up here because of the tiny columns.

            I’m doing some reading about this, and it’s very interesting stuff, so thank you very much for turning me on to this. I research climate change for a living, so to me a declining population is a good thing and we’re facing serious problems because there are so many highly populated costal cities inhabited mostly by the poor.

            Bangladesh is a good example. There’s over 100 million people there and within the next 100-150 years or so sea level will rise enough that it will displace at least 20% of the population, which will affect everyone.

            You’re right, we saw what happened in Katrina, and it will happen again. And the tsunami, the only reason that people didn’t get out fast enough was because there wasn’t a tsunami warning system in place. The death toll could have been so so much lower.

            I think we both see this issue but we the solutions very differently. I think giving women birth control and the ability to chose how many children they have is an incredibly important part of helping everyone move out of poverty and prevent massive loss of life. We need bandaid solutions here because the situation is so dire.

            I just see disaster coming. You may or may not have noticed but this summer peanut prices went way up because we had a bad growing season due to the excess heat and a lack of a good cold winter. Peanuts weren’t easy to come by and we had to get them from places outside of the US. I don’t know that I believe we’re going to be able to meet the food demands that a growing population would bring, so to me the more we can decrease our population the better.

          • Anonymous

            I think at first glance our solutions to the problem we both see are different, but at their core they are the same. That is, we both recognize that the world is heading for trouble, and we need to try to stop the hemorrhaging somehow, and we both recognize that helping to empower women to break the cycle of poverty is the key. Your example about Bangladesh is a good one; quite relevant to both the potential development stymied by climate change consequences, and because it is a country that really needs to step it up in terms of women’s rights and human rights in general.
            Permit me a tangent that I *promise* will be relevant in a bit :-) Did you know that Church teaching does allow for limiting one’s family size, and it is actually considered prudent to do so? In both Humanae Vitae (the infamous 1968 letter about birth control) and Evangelium Vitae from 1995 (a more recent document about protecting all human life, not just babies, because all humans have inherent dignity and worth) Popes Paul VI and John Paul II reiterated the teaching that couples are certainly within their rights to limit their family size for certain serious reasons; for example, economics, emotional/mental/physical health, etc. (If that seems too broad, it is, intentionally. Read this post for a good, succinct, and funny explanation as to why the Church doesn’t just specifically spell out the acceptable reasons for limiting a family).
            I bring this up because often the Church teaching on contraception is misconstrued to be “you must have as many children as possible, like the Duggers! [who aren’t Catholic, btw].” Rather, the Church recognizes that couples must decide such matters for themselves. The catch is, however, that because marriage, sex, and children are all so intertwined in our theology of what marriage is, and indeed, what sex is [free, total, faithful, and fruitful love, the physical expression of wedding vows designed for the pleasure/bonding of spouses and the possibility of new life], that disrupting that trio (marriage-sex-babies) is a grave moral evil. It is for that reason that the Church teaches that artificial contraception like the Pill, barrier methods, etc., are sinful.
            However! Remember that limiting one’s family size, for a serious reason (like economics and health) is a good and prudent thing? That’s why the Church is a champion of Natural Family Planning. I’m not sure how much you’ve heard about NFP so I’ll give a brief overview: using the naturally-occurring indicators/signs of monthly fertility [ie cervical mucus elasticity, resting temperature, among others], a woman can tell, once trained, if she is ovulating or about to ovulate. If she and her husband want to postpone/avoid pregnancy, they abstain from sex for the 3-5 days she’s fertile that cycle. There are many different methods, but the purpose of this entire long tangent was to bring up Bangladesh as you mentioned, and that there are women there who might need to limit their family size in order to be good providers, especially in the case of a climate-change-caused natural disaster like massive flooding or weather pattern disruption.
            Because most methods of NFP require no equipment, pills, or shots, they are incredibly cheap to use. For example, one foundation, the Family of the Americas, teaches the Billings Ovulation Method, which is incredibly simple to learn. It is so simple (required counting and looking for signs only) that the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order of nuns) taught the Billings NFP to thousands and thousands of poor [and often illiterate] women in India and other developing countries with great success, helping them to limit their family size in a way that is 1) positive and affirming of their identity as women and their natural fertility 2) morally licit 3) completely free of charge 4) free of side contraception’s many detrimental side effects and 5) required the cooperation of their husbands. In NFP, the couple must have good communication, so that the husband respects his wife’s body enough not to pressure her for sex during her fertile window if they know they need to avoid pregnancy. This requires mutual cooperation and communication between spouses, and requires that a man respect his wife’s body and fertility. This is a huge possible way to advance women’s rights; women who are “all natural” and use NFP are not sexually available 24/7 like a woman on the Pill. Her husband must understand that they make decisions about sex and babies together, as a team, not just one spouse imposing their will on the other.
            So there are few things to keep in mind here, I think. The first is that yes, climate change and poverty in the developing world are real problems, catastrophic problems, and we must be honest and deal with them. However, I would argue that the bandaid of contraception isn’t enough, even in the short term, especially given all the other problems contraception causes. Rather what needs to happen is a fundamental change in the amount respect for women in those countries/cultures, so that the scenario I outlined above [of a husband willing to abstain from sex for a few days to avoid pregnancy] is possible for every woman, whether she is Catholic, Muslim, atheist, a tribal faith, or whatever.
            The church is not saying to poor women “Yes, I know you are barely feeding yourself now, but you must have more children, because one of them might grow up to be the next Norman Borlaug!” Not at all. The Church says, “Children are blessing from God, to be cherished and loved, but we recognize that there are legitimate and important reasons, especially in poor nations, to limit family size. But rather than achieve that end through nefarious means, let’s be natural about it, and promote the dignity of women in the process!”
            [I bring up nefarious means because Bangladesh is just one example of a poor country where aggressive population control programs were instigated, to the detriment and abuse of its people; forced sterilization, forced abortions/family limits, not unlike China, etc. When individual communities and families can choose to limit their family for just reasons, which is well and good. However, when a government or NGO comes in with the agenda, “we must reduce the population by x percent in y years” they might resort to aggressive methods that do not uphold the dignity of the human person [there is a principle of Catholic Social Teaching called subsidiary, which means that issues should be handled at the most organic and local level possible rather than being imposed from above]
            And in regard to food shortages and population growth, I did notice the peanut prices this summer, and I wasn’t too pleased! But I would have two counterpoints. First, the agricultural technologies available today are ridiculous, especially compared to past eras. Even without scary things like GMOs or cloning there is enough food for everyone; it’s just distributed very, very poorly. Like the old adage of my mother reprimanding me for not finishing my broccoli when there are starving children in Africa, that is not a problem of too many people or not enough food, but that the food we have is not getting where it needs to get, because of governments mishandling things and corruption, etc. etc. Second, the population will decline on its own. I’m paraphrasing Demographic Winter here, but because almost all Western countries are far below replacement fertility, out populations will naturally begin to decline, and soon. Developing countries will be able to hold on longer because they currently have higher-than-replacement fertility, but not for much longer, especially given how much aggressive/nefarious family planning (sterilization, artificial contraception, etc. ) has been pushed the last few decades . In places like Africa were so much of the population is dying so young because of AIDS, they will soon be running out of people, not having too many people. Not enough people means not enough workers, not enough goods produced, not enough taxes, etc. etc .
            Does that make sense? Sorry it was so long!

          • Del

            I don’t think we have to work to solve the problem; considering population levels before we started making widespread use of petroleum, once that resource is gone, somewhere around 5 billion people will simply starve to death or kill each other in desperation. Considering the blip, in terms of human history, the petroleum age will be, taking technological measures to curb population growth is superfluous.

        • Guest 12345

          We produce more food for more people with less land and resources because of all the changes that Big Ag has made to our food.

          More fertilizers and pesticides in our farmland means more chemicals in our drinking water and our bodies. Meat packers give ground beef a bath in ammonia (which we then eat) because of all the bacteria. Potato growers won’t eat their own crops because of all the chemicals they bathe their potatoes in. Egg-laying chickens live a tortured life in battery cages. I’d love to buy local eggs from happier chickens – the way it used to be – but they’re $6 a dozen and I’m not rich.

          I would hope there have been areas of progress in agriculture beyond chemicals and inhumane conditions for animals, but I think it’s too simple to say that there’s no food problem. The food problem is simply changing.

  • Anchor Mama

    My dearly loved, but very mistaken, Aunt has refused to visit Bad Catholic, so… I’ve been tagging her everytime I link to your posts on Facebook. It’s only a matter of time. Bwahahahah! *ahem* I mean, I’m praying for her. Truly.

  • CPE Gaebler

    I’m curious as to where you got the 0.2% number for NFP. Could you link to a source on that? I’d love to have a link to rub in the faces of people who think the only way to be sexually fulfilled is to have as much sex with as few babies as possible.

  • Ross Porter

    If freedom of the press is a right, is the government required to provide a printing press to every citizen?

    If freedom of speech is a right, is the government required to provide a soap box to every citizen?

    If the right to “petition the government” is indeed a right guaranteed by the constitution, why won’t the government fund my petition drive?

    If “to keep and bear arms” is a right, guaranteed by the constitution, where is my government provided rifle?

    Yes, I believe there is a right to use contraception. I don’t believe there is a requirement for anyone else to pay for it!

  • CC

    I understand that the Catholic Church is not going to change its statute on contraception and the moral dilemma this legislation creates. As an employee of a Catholic school that takes birth control, I would certainly love to argue that that this should be passed, but I do believe that because of the infringement on religious liberty that would not be right. I like my job, so I am content to pay. But please do not argue that denying birth control does not oppress women or that women are necessarily “happier” without it. Women are oppressed. And the Church is not the only culprit—of course society at large does as well with its grotesque objectification and stereotyping of women (and of course many other religions promote the idea that women should be subservient to men). But birth control doesn’t promote objectification—it assists secular women in achieving their life goals while still having the ability to have sex with their husbands. And no, these women aren’t irresponsible—maybe they simply don’t plan on ever having children. Yes, Catholic women choose not to take birth control and lead happy lives because they believe that either having children or being abstinent is “right” in the eyes of God. But for the rest of us, contraception does improve lives. So please don’t make unfounded claims that women who take birth control are “unhappy.” I agree that Catholics shouldn’t be forced to provide it, but let’s not claim contraception is “detrimental to human happiness” overall.

    • LL

      Nice to see that you can appreciate the “moral dilemma,” CC, but I can’t quite follow your logic on how refusal to pay for contraception oppresses women. Can you–or anyone– please explain? You will have to be more persuasive than just making the assertion.

      • Colin Dragon

        First, your freedom of religion is just as important as my freedom from religion. You see it as me forcing my beliefs on you, but it doesn’t affect you, it affects the women who can’t get birth control. You say it affects your conscience? Well it affects a woman’s hormones, it affects whether or not she has a child when she’s ready, it can prevent ovarian cysts, you want to tell me to abstain til I’m ready? Once you get off your high horse I’ll welcome you to the 21st century. Second, would you refuse treatment to a gay man because he’s gay? Would you refuse to give a man a vasectomy? Would you refuse to treat a man who got an STD from having premarital sex? Why is birth control for women the only “moral” thing anybody cares about?

        • LL

          Thanks for the lecture, but actually, I am a woman and I know what the Pill does. It can also cause breast cancer and lower your sex drive, but maybe you didn’t know that. Some thoughts:

          1) Women who don’t believe contraception is wrong should be– and are– free to purchase it. That IS your (or more appropriately, women’s) “freedom from religion” as far as this issue is concerned. There are many places where contraception can already be obtained extremely cheaply, or even for free. Planned Parenthood is one such place. If you think I’m lying, I invite you to call my bluff. Please share just one story of any woman who “can’t get birth control” because it’s not free in her insurance plan. I certainly don’t know any women with this problem, and I don’t understand why legislature was necessary to “fix” it. The Catholic Church isn’t forcing anyone to “abstain until [he or she is] ready.” Being free to do (or buy) something and forcing someone to do (or buy) it for you are two VERY different things. You will be able to argue your case much more eloquently on this issue if you understand that difference. So do yourself a favor, and stick with assertions that aren’t very obvious lies.

          2) You will not find a single practicing Catholic who would refuse someone necessary medical treatment because of the patient’s personal choices, whether or not those choices are deemed “moral” by the Church. If you want to try to find an example, be my guest. You will be disappointed. A vasectomy doesn’t count; it’s an elective procedure. By and large, sterilizations and contraceptives exist so one can have sex any day of the month without causing a pregnancy, even though that’s not how our bodies are designed. Should insurers also be forced to fully subsidize weight loss surgery, without so much as a copay, so people can eat all they want and not be obese? Because, apparently, if you want to be able to do as much as you want of whatever you want, the government must ensure that you can– and that you won’t have to take any financial responsibility for it.

          And finally, most relevant to the actual issue:

          4) When did it become the business of the federal government to tell private employers what they must cover in their insurance plans, when it is already a luxury to even be eligible for medical benefits through your employer in the first place? I pay for my own insurance, and it’s quite expensive, thank you very much– partially because I have a pre-existing condition called “fertility.” This whole HHS argument is based on the lie that contraception is “basic health care” that women “need,” but insurance companies don’t decide what’s covered based on how much you need it, anyway. If this were true, people with real medical problems, like cancer, wouldn’t be up to their ears in medical costs.

          • Alexandra

            Your arguments about contraception already being cheaply and freely available would be a whole lot more convincing if part of the Christian Right’s (and Marc’s) agenda wasn’t preventing federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood.

            And I personally know women who have stopped using contraception because it was too expensive and they didn’t have the free time to be able to go to PP and get it for free. It’s not as rare as you think it is.

          • LL

            Saying that contraception is cheaply and freely available is not an argument; it’s simply true. You acknowledge this by saying that your friend was able to get it for free at PP but “didn’t have the free time” to do so.

            I also have friends who claim not to have time to go to PP to get the Pill for free– but that doesn’t mean it’s not available. Doesn’t filling a prescription take some time in one’s day as well? The fact that these women don’t make the time to avail themselves of a free “basic healthcare” service allowing them pleasure without responsibility is a private matter regarding their own time management and priorities. If people can’t figure out how to exercise that freedom for themselves, it is not the job of Catholic employers to violate their own consciences to make it easy for them.

          • Alexandra

            It really isn’t as true as you think it is. It’s certianly not freely available. Getting birth control from PP is a lot of work and it’s getting harder and harder as anti-abortion advocates manage to get PP clinics closed down.

            Getting birth control from PP means having to basically give up a whole day to get to the clinic, get an appointment, wait for your appointment, get a script, fill it, and then go back every 3 months to get your script filled again. It’s not trivial. It’s a lot of work, and it’s work that falls to a woman, not her partner.

            Easily accessible and cheap birth control should not be a luxury. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right. We don’t live in the society you’d like us to, we live in one where sex for pleasure and unity has been separated from the act of procreation. Moreover, women use birth control for so many reasons besides being able to space their children, and the Institute of Medicine has stated that it is an important part of healthcare. The Church’s judgements on whether or not that is good, necessary or moral are irrelevant.

            The Church isn’t being asked to subsidize birth control use, they got an exemption. What is happening is all employers are being required to provide adequate healthcare insurance that meets the standards set forth by law. If following the laws required of employing people violates someone’s conscious, they are absolutely free to stop running their businesses. Someone who is ready to follow the law will take over. This isn’t about religious freedom, it’s about providing everyone with adequate healthcare insurance.

          • blake

            Hi Alexandra and LL – Reading your posts, i just have a few things id like to chime in about, and one question for you Alexandra. While Im sure we can argue all day about whether or not birth control is real healthcare, or if the heart of the matter is truly women’s rights or religious freedom of conscience, what i would like to know is why exactly birth control all of a sudden must be subsidized by everyone, (insurance companies pass on the added costs) when other very basic healthcare items are not? Not even toothpaste or ibuprofen is free and im sure you dont need a list of the health benefits and “cost savings” of people who use those. Why is “free” birth control all of a sudden a right?

          • Alexandra

            It’s a good point Blake.

            I don’t necessarily think that it needs to be covered without copay. I think it needs to be a whole lot more accessible than it is now, and covering it with no copay is a nice change, but I’m not entirely sure why that’s the move that’s been made. It definitely should be required for all companies to provide it under insurance coverage, but without copay is just kind of whatever.

            You can actually get help from your insurance company with things like toothpaste or other OTC health needs. The main difference is that prescription birth control is expensive and these OTC needs are not.

            My issue here though, is that if it is the law that insurance companies must provide it without copay and employers must provide it for their employees, then every business should have to follow it. If you want to lobby to change the law, go for it, but lobbying for an exception is asinine. The law is the law and there’s no reason why any business should be able to get around following the law.

          • blake

            Thanks for explaining. While i understand your point of view, i disagree with it and here are some points as to why. The government and its laws are designed to protect the liberties of its citizens, not trump them according to its own agenda, by sheer force and the broad strokes of bureaucratic pens. Every citizen has the responsibility to accept and follow government law EXCEPT when a law is unjust or in violation of a human right. Then citizens are required to stand against and change unjust laws and see that government takes the proper measures to respect the dignity and freedom of every religion, race, gender etc. That’s the beauty of democracy.

            (This commenting format is ridiculous – Patheos needs to fix it!!!) I think i will write them a letter. :)

      • CC

        Denying women access to birth control is oppressive because it takes contraception out of the control of the woman. If she does not have access to the Pill or another form of female contraception, she is forced to accept the use of condoms and rely on the male for contraception. It’s just another way that sex becomes male-controlled and dictated. For true equality, the woman should have just as much control over reproduction as the male.

        You already know I don’t support the idea that Catholic organizations should be forced to comply with the ruling. I do think, however, that unless there is an objection like this that it should be compulsory. I’m all for another step towards gender equality and controlling unwanted pregnancies (which, in many cases, would be people that are unfit parents and should not be having more children). It feels like a win-win for me!

        More so than that, however, I was responding to the claim that women who take birth control are “unhappy,” which seems to be a silly claim.

        • LL

          I understand where you’re coming from, but you answered a question that is not the one I asked. I asked how not paying for someone else’s contraception “oppresses” her. Instead you explained to me how having no access to contraception oppresses women. As I’ve pointed out above, having absolutely no access and not having someone who objects buy it for you are two vastly different situations.

          Incidentally, I agree that men should ideally share responsibility for “controlling reproduction.” There’s a great method for that. It’s called NFP.

          • Alexandra

            Can you explain how it is that men have a responsibility in NFP? Is it just in terms of abstaining? Or do some women have their husband help them in tracking fertility signals? It seems like NFP is still very much so a woman’s responsibility in terms of tracking the cycle and determining when abstinence is necessary. It sounds a lot like the same amount of involvement a man has in a woman’s cycle when she is using hormonal birth control.

          • LL

            Sure, Alexandra! NFP sounds a little extreme and difficult at first, but the more you learn about it, the more it makes sense. It also gets easier to practice as you go along. I was just talking about NFP with my best friend, who happens to be very liberal and not religious at all. She said she has met many nonreligious women who also sing the praises of this free, “green,” and all-natural method, which, when used correctly, is as effective as hormonal contraceptives at preventing pregnancy. Your motivations for following it don’t have to be religious, but it does fit brilliantly with JPII’s Theology of the Body.

            To answer your questions, here are some ways in which men share responsibility with NFP:

            A woman’s natural cycle of fertility + a man’s fertility = fertility as a couple. The man’s half of the equation is obviously a lot less complicated, but when the two go about it as a team, they do often track symptoms and plot out fertile days together. Yes, the woman will usually be the one to make the actual observations, but many NFP husbands share responsibility by maintaining and helping interpret the chart. It makes me smile every time I hear my husband very earnestly ask what my temperature was that morning, or how my other fertility signs are looking, because I know he actually cares. It sends me the message that he loves me as I was made– without wanting to change a thing.

            When men have chosen to use this method with their wives, they do so with intention and an open heart, so it allows for excellent communication and moral support within the couple. The days they abstain, they do so as a couple, and it is not as if the woman is withholding sex from the man. It builds a natural cycle of anticipation and fulfillment that keeps things exciting and special. Kind of like choosing not to have dessert after every single meal. But when you make the choice to try to become pregnant (I’m not there yet), I imagine that’s pretty amazing too in its own way.

            One other way this method emphasizes togetherness and mutual responsibility is that it is the ultimate way for a man to respect his partner– body, mind, and soul– and show that he does not view her as an object. He is challenged to express more love and affection in nonsexual ways during the periods of abstinence. It brings out the romantic in him. Rather than viewing his wife’s fertility as an obstacle to instant gratification for them both, the husband develops a deep respect for his wife’s cycle, for the procreative potential of their mutual fertility, and for the complete gift of self to one another without barriers. It creates a bond so deep, you will not even wonder– as many modern couples unfortunately do– if your marriage will fail (hence the 0.02% divorce rate).

            Once you have a taste of how awesome it feels to be in a relationship like that, it sort of leaves you wondering why anyone would want it any other way. If you believe in God, then you come to understand why this is how it was meant to be. Those of us who are passionate about spreading the word about NFP are often accused of being closed-minded, judgmental and censorious. And I know I fall short at times when it comes to discussing it in the most sensitive way, because it’s a highly personal issue and everyone’s coming from a difference place about it. But I think I speak for all NFP-supporting Catholics when I say that we talk about it because we care about our brothers and sisters, and because we pray that they can enjoy that same kind of true love. I’ll pray for you today. Happy Sunday!

          • Alexandra

            Thank you for your thorough explanation! I do agree that NFP can be a very good way to foster open discussion about sexuality, but I don’t agree that it is something exclusive to, or characteristic of, NFP. Discussing fertility and sexuality is an important part of any relationship, and perhaps NFP might make for a good way to start that conversation, NFP does fall to a woman to take the initiative to check her fertility signals and track them.

            Men can be very involved in a woman’s fertility in the same ways when using artificial contraception. With artificial contraception you can shift your menstrual cycle and skip menstruation and these are things you can discuss with your partner as well.

            The very deep bond you are talking about isn’t just from NFP, it’s from having a solid open relationship where you communicate with your partner. The most recent stat I have seen for divorce rate among couples that use NFP is 5% and you can’t really show that this has to do with the choice to use NFP over anything else.

            My husband and I are atheists, and are open to using NFP once we’re ready to be open to the possibility of children, but until then our relationship doesn’t suffer from the fact that we’re not. I think that there are many people who are preaching NFP as some sort of gateway to an intimate relationship, when indeed an intimate and caring relationship is a prerequisite to being able to use NFP instead of a consequence of it.

          • LL

            You’re absolutely right about the fact that a strong bond needs to be in place before a couple can start practicing NFP together. I like to think that it works both ways– the already existing strength of the relationship leads to an openness to NFP, and then NFP strengthens the relationship further. I do believe it’s possible to be content and have a stable relationship without it, but of course I am biased as far as thinking it’s pretty much the best as far as closeness goes. Of course, this partially comes from my theological perspective, which is clearly not a factor for you.

            I think it’s great that you’re considering NFP in the future. You didn’t specify, but I”m guessing that you’re using hormonal contraceptives rather than condoms or other methods. I’ve never been on the Pill myself, but I hear that it can take some time for your body to recover and return to its natural cycle. If you go the NFP route in the future, it might be a good idea to wean yourself off the hormones for a while first, so you can have some time to learn your cycle and be confident in your understanding of it. It’s so fascinating and empowering to work with who your body is made, rather than trying to change it.

            All the best to you!

          • CC

            Hey girl, I agree. I’ve said multiple times that I agree that Catholics should not be forced to buy it for people. Sounds to me like we’re almost on the same page. I’m just saying that overall, with the exception of Catholics, I think this is a good piece of legislation because I think the greater access women have to birth control the better.

        • Zaireunderorion

          um, can’t the woman just say no to the sex or say you better have a condom or it ain’t happening?? I feel like women usually have the control of having children in some sense. You have likely heard of women who get pregnant in order to keep a man, but not vice versa. That is because if a woman does not want to have sex, she doesn’t have to. The only way a man could do that is forcing himself on the woman through many dubious ways or amazing seduction. Before you get into that, I do realize that a man does NOT have to have sex when the woman wants to either. However, our sexual patterns are different. Women kind of go by a curve while men are a straight line, if you catch my drift. I mean, in general because there are always exceptions, men are usually on and ready to go biologically, while women are not. I feel like it would never have become a joke that women complain of headaches to get their horny husbands to leave them alone for two seconds. Also, men’s sex drives have gotten a bit out of control with the access to free porn on the internet (this is because porn is addictive not to mention porn changes yours tastes over time).
          Now, I realize society has changed, but I also know that men are the ones expected to make most of the moves and many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of women being in pursuit. This puts women in the driver’s seat if nothing else doe. I have known girls who let men buy them drinks all night and will shoot them down after having used them for what they want. Essentially, the equality has taken the form of: woman CAN do the pursuit, or they can sit back and let the men be men. We men are a silly breed and women have always known it.


    Just found your website last night and loved it (I’m protestant and my husband is Catholic). I want you to know that I emailed this article to my Congressman, in order to urge support of the Blunt Amendment. Dont worry I left the pictures out (and some other unnecessary but funny remarks). Thanks!

  • Alexandra

    Blake, hopefully you see this. I hate the Patheos formatting so much!

    The difference I see is that this is not an issue of religious liberty, it’s about healthcare. Religious liberty does not, and should not, extend to a point where it interferes with someone else’s rights. People have every right to not use birth control themselves, but they do not have the right to make access to birth control more difficult for other people.

    In creating large businesses with many employees, like universities and hospitals tend to do, and then asking to be allowed to apply a limitation to your employee’s access to birth control is imposing your religion on both the law and your employees. That is not okay in a secular society. Part of being part of a society is contributing to pools like taxes and insurance where some of the money will be used for things you find immoral, but that doesn’t mean that you have the right to stop participating in society without being punished for your disobedience.

    Religious liberty has been preserved in that no Catholic is being forced to use or directly buy birth control. They are however being required to not infringe on their employees right to adequate healthcare insurance and the privacy to make their healthcare decisions with their doctor instead of having to ask permission from their employer to get coverage for the care they need.

    The bishops aren’t going to win this one, and they’re just alienating people in their fight. This isn’t a noble fight at all, the public is not proud of them at all, and never will be. Not that it is at all related, but we are still in the middle of the sex abuse scandals and the public doesn’t think a whole lot of the bishops because of their response to the sex abuse. They have no moral high ground and the precedent is set that they are in the wrong on this issue. Even Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justice Scalia has previously ruled that religion should not be used to get out of societal obligations like this. This isn’t going to end well for the Church.

  • Jennifer Archambault

    Oh, it’s ‘preventative health’, really….I find this SO ironic…the timing couldn’t be better!

  • Spiritual Advocate

    What Human Right you ask? It’s clear: The Human Right to shirk responsibility – enshrined in the Declaration of Independence – Clearly the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness means the avoidance of consequences for your own decisions, which the Government should address by forcing… wait – there is some sort of incongruity here…

  • Random

    Wow. You mean in America you need insurance to cover the pill? Really? Like no joke?
    Over here in Australia, you can pop down to your supermarket and get a condom. For everyone! It only costs a couple of dollars.
    As for the pill, it is used for a variety of women’s’ ailments. Some women HAVE to use the pill for a more comfortable time of the month. Sometimes hormones are so out of whack, a doctor prescribes the pill as a way to balance these out. Actually, I know quite a few women who use the pill other than contraceptive measures. They thank their lucky stars that we don’t really need insurance for our health care here. So in some cases, it kinda is linked with human happiness. Not only relieving some women of terrible health concerns, but also helping the men live with them. (I joke, I joke.)

  • Deborah Frink

    When did employer-administered health coverage become free? We pay for it through our labor and our premiums. I would allow institutions to opt out of contraceptive coverage by accepting a 20 percent hike in their minimum wage and providing complete, no-deductible coverage of any pregnancy or pregnancy complications and three months’ paid maternity leave. That would compensate employees enough that they could exercise their own choices. Those making more than minimum wage should be able to afford contraception on their own. And the employer would be putting his money where his mouth is.

  • Christie

    On someone’s blog (can’t remember whose), I read the interesting comment: “NFP: because I refuse to take medication when I’m not sick.” I hate that we are treating fertility like a disease. How does that embrace the entirety of a woman and ensure her feeling of worth and beauty?

    And you can see it in the attitudes of society as a whole, the way children are treated, public breastfeeding, any nourishing, child-friendly, and pro-family institutions are suddenly “anti-women.” How am I supposed to raise a son who respects the dignity of women in such a society?

  • JasonW

    Good point. However, the stats at the bottom are merely correlative and not causative. Practicers of NFP, if you’re meaning the rhythm method, are most probably members of the RC church. So the fact they are divorced less might have something to do with RC Church’s view on divorce, not necessarily their personal happiness.