Monday, February 13, 2012

The Boys Who Cried Wolf?

So here we are, just nine months before the Presidential election and once again our Country has been thrust into discussing a “wedge issue” that may determine the outcome of this election.  The Obama Administration introduced an HHS ruling that mandated that by 2013, all organizations that provide Health Insurance to their employees must include coverage for birth control with no co-pay.  The Catholic Bishops protested, the Republicans jumped on board, and by the end of the week, Obama came up with a compromise solution.  The Bishops have since rejected the compromise as well.   The US Bishops, most notably Cardinal disignate Timothy Dolan, are still demanding an exemption for all Religious Institutions on the basis that it violates liberty.  If only it were all that simple. 

The Bishops are appalled that Catholics might be forced to "pay the price" for someone else's "intrinsically evil act".  This is how they view artificial contraception.  Without getting into a full critique of the flawed document, "Humanae Vitae" and how it violated the religious liberty of the Catholic Lay Faithful, I will say that not all types of artificial contraception meet the criteria for an intrisically evil act.  "Traditional moral theology has used the three-font principle for determining the morality of human actions.  It is based on an understanding of the relationship of three aspects of moral action - intention, the act-in-itself, and the circumstances" (Gula 265).  The average person does not know that there actually are some forms of artificial contraception that fall under this category of "intrinsically evil" due to meeting all criteria.  The IUD, by definition, is an abortifacient.  It prevents the fertilized egg from implanting on the uteran wall.  Thus, if a couple knows that using such a method will result in the destruction of human life, and choses to use it anyway, then in the eyes of the Church, they are commiting an intrinsically immoral action.  My husband and I conducted pre-marital "FOCCUS" sessions for years with engaged couples.  Couple after couple discussed in front of us their intention to use artificial birth control.  Most all said without fail, that they were against abortion for themselves personally, but felt it was up to each individual and their doctor.  When told about the abortifaciant quality of the IUD and of some low dosage "mini" pills, they were appalled to learn this.  Why didn't they know?  Perhaps the reason is because when the Roman Catholic Hierarchy ended the dialogue on the use of artificial contraception with the Catholic Lay Faithful with the publishing of Humanae Vitae, they also closed the door on being a reasonable voice in what could have been an ongoing teaching opportunity on the differences between true "barrier method" artificial birth control, and the abortifacient variety.  The Catholic Lay Faithful were denied their religious liberty at the time, by being denied their God given right to form and exercise their conscience.  Without the reasonable voice of the Catholic Hierarchy, a whole generation of Catholics have grown up thinking there was no difference in the various types of artificial birth control, because the Catholic Hierarchy opposed them all!  Couples who, after educating themselves on the true barrier methods of artificial contraception, decide based on their particular circumstances to avoid pregnancy, where is the respect for the dignity of their human consciences on behalf of the Catholic Hierarchy?
Then there is the issue of the Catholic Hierarchy further losing their moral voice due to their refusal, even to this day, to acknowledge their own criminal culpability in the cover up of the rape of children all over the world.  Without accountability by them, to the lay faithful around the world, they no longer have a moral leg to stand on unfortunately.  Had the US Bishops defended the sacredness of human life in the SACRISTY with the same level of moral OUTRAGE that they have defended the sacredness of human life in the womb, perhaps more lay Catholics would be standing by their side!
It is like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" in reverse.  When faced with the opportunity to stand up for the sacredness of the very young human lives that were the childhood victims of sexual abuse, they responded by looking the other way, and ultimately allowing OUR money to "pay the price" years later via the lawsuits (the only recourse the victims had).  Now they are jumping up and down wondering why more Catholics are not outraged that we might have to pay for women's access to artificial birth control.  Perhaps it is due to calling Catholics who have used barrier methods of artificial birth control sinners for far too long, and for NOT turning over the very criminal child rapists/sinners to the police...Ya THINK?!
Make up your minds, boys.


  1. Very clear and logical post. I appreciate the insight and discussion of a topic in a way I have never heard approached before.

    1. Brian, how do I go back in an edit my article? I meant to write "religious liberty" in paragraph one and one of the sentences needs the word "For" at the beginning of it. UGH!! Help?

  2. Hi, Mary. Here is an article that explains what exactly is considered wrong about contraception. It's not whether it's a barrier method or an abortifacient method that determines whether it is wrong. It is what it does to the marriage act itself, how it changes it.

  3. Kathy, I'm fully aware of the full scope of the rationale behind the teaching. There was not enough room here to discuss all of the points made in Humanae Vitae, many of which I support. But the document takes an "order of nature" approach to moral decision making, over an "order of reason" approach, and in the process, negates the very aspects of our humanity that elevate us from lower animals. I wrote a paper on this topic for my Masters Program. Also, the politics as to how Humane Vitae came to be is quite alarming.

  4. Great blog, Mary. I was raised in the Catholic Church as you know and have many many friends who were as well (unfortunately less everyday). I can't tell you one couple that didn't/doesn't simply ignore this "rule." The Catholic Church leaves us with nothing, but Natural Family Planning. I can almost guarantee not one couple in my Engaged Encounter group actually left there planning on using this method in their marriage. It's very complicated and not as reliable as other methods of birth control, due to human error. Even the girl explaining it to us had an "oops." We were even told that condoms are not to be used, because it's a barrier between the married couple. Believe me having unplanned pregnancies isn't very good for a marriage either, right? It can add financial woes and bring on a lot of stress. My Paternal Grandparents had 7 children. They raised a great family and made it work. I'm not sure in this complicated time that my husband and I could make it work so well with 7 kids. lol. Until then contraception will be used. ;)