Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Catholic 98 Percent...

Contraceptives have been available for decades. They are legally prescribed and sold. Millions of women have used them. Women and their families have relied on them to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

No child asks to be born, nor can a child choose its parents. This is not a custom-ordered thing. The Octamom's children didn't ask for that woman as their mother, but they ended up with that woman as their mother. Lucky them.

You need a license to own a dog, but you don't need a license to have a child. What if some people just aren't fit to have children? All too often children are born into situations that prove to be bad for them. If some children unfortunate to be born into dysfunctional situations were never born, would they not be better off?

Contraceptives can prevent these questions from ever being asked. Contraceptives can benefit families in particular and societies as a whole. Contraceptives can allow families that want children to decide for themselves when they'll have their children, or they can allow families who don't want children (which is a legitimate and fair decision to make) to never have children should they decide that.

For centuries the Catholic Church (a male-dominated organization, let's remember) has preached "go forth and multiply," but they've simultaneously preached that marriage is about procreational sex not recreational sex; and they've preached against any sort of contraceptive method, save the rhythm method. Wow. There was a great idea, an idea developed by men who, given their chosen occupation, could never have children of their own. This is like the Major League Baseball Commissioner telling Aaron Rodgers when to throw a pass, how to throw it, and to whom.

So many families with at least one child my age had a "surprise baby." Oops. "It just sort of happened." "We didn't expect her." "He arrived as a surprise to us." Yup, the rhythm method works really well and should be commemorated with its own Catholic feast day: The Feast of the Inaccurate Conception.

But bad puns aside, this policy of the Catholic Church is archaic and wrong and runs completely counter to another of the church's stated goals of alleviating suffering: it does little more than cause suffering. So it must be OK with the bishops for an unwanted child to suffer in a loveless family but not OK for a woman to take a pill that would save that child a life of pain.

This policy has doomed millions of innocent children to sad, dreadful fates and it's led to critical population explosions in many parts of the world. (And don't even get me started on "original sin," which dooms children in utero.)

It's well past time for this absurd prohibition to be ended, for contraceptives to be embraced to the extent that they can alleviate potential suffering
among those who want them, and for a more supportive realistic policy to take its place, one that enables families to have children when they want to have them and not when an organization whose childless membership tells these families when they can reproduce, how they can reproduce, and how often.

And now the Catholic Bishops are pissed because the Affordable Health Care Act says that insurance companies have to make contraceptives available to everyone for free, including their parishioners, but only if those parishioners want contraceptives. But here's the kicker your eminences... if someone does not want contraceptives, they don't have to have them. Full stop.

This portion of the Affordable Health Care Act is not a case of someone being forced to do something, but if you stop and think about it, it is a case of the Catholic Bishops forcing millions of Catholic women and families to do something. This glaring contradiction aside, this is an issue of providing a service that is legal and ethical, that approximately 98% of Catholic women have used at some point in their lives, and that can help them decide when they have their own children.

Because after all, their children belong to them and not to the Catholic Church, which is a good thing because the church's record on how it treats its "children" has not exactly been a good one.

What if those children had never been born?

P.S. I was a Catholic from birth until about 1970, and I was an altar boy for four years. I made it through unscathed. I'm now in full recovery and remain blissfully unaffiliated.