Monday, January 30, 2012


Yesterday at church, we had a visiting monk, touting his annual 'please-support-our-efforts'.  I like Fr. Brendan; he has an excellent sense of humor and you can tell he really likes people.  But in the middle of his sermon, he touched on something I was not aware of.  And had to do a little research.

According to the new 'health care law', which goes into effect Aug 1st, all health care plans will be required to offer free contraceptives, including sterilizations, and that certain religious organizations are exempt 'until they adapt to the new law'.

Fr. Brendan informed us that no longer will Catholic hospitals and schools provide health care for its workers; Catholic Charities will no longer be able to provide adoptive services; and any religious college has to provide contraceptives to their female students.

Okay; I get why many Catholics are up in arms over this, and admittedly, it's the older generation, with a few of the more 'I'm Catholic, and this is our law/rule, so I'm going to abide by it' younger generation.

But can't they meet somewhere in the middle?  Only provide the contraceptives for those who WANT it?  

I'll admit; the first time I was exposed to the Catholic views, I scoffed at the notion of having to 'get permission' from Rome, just to obtain a divorce or even marry a divorced person.  Or for women to receive a special dispensation for having a medical reason to be on birth control.  Or for a woman be told 'if you're not going to provide children, then you must live with your husband in a celibate way' (paraphrasing from Common Ground).  I found this one ludicrous.

And then when I'd ask other Catholics about this practice, I only had one male tell me if he impregnated his girlfriend, he wouldn't marry her until after the baby was born.  WTH????  Girls told me they used protection, regardless of the Church's teaching, especially now since AIDS was an issue.  Celibacy was an option few women chose.  One of my best friends, on the eve of her marriage, informed me her own mother took her to get on the Pill, since she and her new hubby were about to spend a year on the road.  He was a truck driver, so they were taking an extended honeymoon, to show her parts of the US she'd never seen before.

"But isn't that against your religion?"

"Yes, but many don't follow that rule anymore.  In this day and age, it just isn't practical."

Contrast this with a family we met ten years ago.

They were low-income; she home-schooled her children; the husband was a reformed alcoholic with his own business.  They currently had five children, and at the time we first met them, were hoping they were pregnant again.  Church issues came up in discussion, and they admitted they used the Family Planning method, approved by the Church.  And yes, she was pregnant again.

Two years later, child #7 arrived.  We had gotten friendly at the this point, so I knew more about their financial concerns, and it still blew my mind they were crammed into a tiny house, dependent on food stamps, and other government assistance.  And another two years later, she miscarried baby #8 and was told by the doctor to stop having kids; she was putting her own health in danger.  This put her into depression, for she felt she was not 'fulfilling God's promise'.  Thankfully, she did regain her cheerful self again.

But my question is, what is this teaching her children?  That's it's okay to keep having children you can barely afford to raise?

I think it's time for the Catholic Church to stay out of women's health care.

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