« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Contra-contraception

By David Norlin
Opinion | February 20, 2012

SALINA, Kan. - "Alarming" is a word that is, well, alarming.  Used by editorial writers, politicians, and others, it gets attention, perhaps moves folks to action.  But let's cool off, here.  As Isaiah said, "Be not dismayed."
 
The latest alarm's about providing contraception insurance for women working in religious institutions.   The Catholic Conference of Bishops and various Republican candidates/officials say it's "an attack on religious liberty."
 
Roshana Ariel, however, points out in her Salina Journal column that, despite 1968 Catholic doctrine that "it's always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings," two years later, "two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the pill and other methods banned by the church."   Today it's remains clear that for years the alarmed Conference of Catholic Bishops -- and other evangelical leaders -- have had little effect and, like the emperor of the story, no clothes.  
 
The nakedness of their posturing comes smack up against these women's self-chosen best interests.   They refused to be knocked down and will choose when to be knocked up.

These women's choices seem a near-perfect definition of "liberty" in the best American sense. That, I imagine, is why the Bishops failed to level the canon of excommunication at them. Politely, silently, and consistently, these women have repudiated the extremism of their religious leaders.

We know that all such leaders are not this extreme. Few bishops, priests, pastors, or religious leaders agree with every single doctrine. But those who adopt this alarmist hardening of right-wing ideological rhetoric need to stop. Cool out. "Be not dismayed."

This seems a hard lesson for religious or political ideologists. Saturday's Journal religion section featured the now former priest of St. Mary's Church in Mount Carmel, Illinois. When the Pope and international hierarchy changed missal language to hew closer to the old Latin meaning (as they understand it), the Reverend Bill Rowe decided to stick to language his parishioners could understand. Rowe was admonished, refused the order, and now, after 47 years of service, he is gone. Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, director of Divine Worship for the Conference of Bishops, is unrepentant. The "missal" must adhere (or be pretty close) to the Latin.

This is indisputably a misguided missal. But bad as it is, it doesn't touch the refusal of church fathers to offer even the opportunity for insurance to cover birth control for women employees at their schools, hospitals, and universities. Not abortions -- Birth. Control.

It would be distressing enough if such closed-ear responses were limited only to this patriarchy. But Republican poo-bahs and even our local Journal editor have joined the cacophonous chorus, saying we should be "alarmed."

When it comes to contraception, who plays the chorus organ? Their clueless whine ignores the churches' own special exemption -- an exemption hanging its female employees on their own special cross.

We might admire the attractive young church secretary whose devotion to the local Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, or Catholic Church is such that she finds her mission there. Yet if she wants control of her own body, perhaps to be of better service to said church, she is out of luck--unless she pays out of her own pocket, from a likely meager salary.

Now the President -- noting that 99% of all women have used birth control at some time in their life -- has offered a compromise. Insurance companies, not church schools, colleges, or universities, will cover the cost. In effect, this gets them off the hook from Jesus' admonition: "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"

While the cock crows, they have more than thrice denied their responsibility. Not only that, they and the R chorus only respond shrilly, "This is an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country!" Really? Whose freedom?

With Christian Liberty comes Christian Responsibility, and the actions of the pious have seldom seemed so far removed from their professed faith -- or from common sense.

I want to call this alarming. But I won't. Like Isaiah, I won't be dismayed. But you birth-control alarmists: it's time you examined why you bought this particular mess of pottage. And in the process, consult your wife, if you have one.


17 Comments

David, it is alarming when a high percentage of voters still believe the original health care bill included DEATH PANELS. It's alarming how many people believe that legislative efforts are out to jail their pastors if they preach against sin. It's alarming when so many people absolutely believe that President Obama isn't even a legal citizen.

It is alarming when so few people bother to vote and so few of those who do vote are capable of using their own minds to separate truth from fiction or even outright lies.


If Christians do not wake up and see the problem here, then nothing will wake them up but an apocalyptic shake up. Sigh! When did Christians become politicians. Jesus was NOT a politician. Wake up America!


Is it a problem of 'politicians' trying to enforce Christian doctrines and Christian activists writing theologically based laws for society? Neither of those scenarios are where I think the Christian church should be.

Religious institutions should patrol their own constituients and let individuals use their own personal morals and ethics to guide them in helping all people, regardless of religious identity, write civil laws.


"Insurance companies, not church schools, colleges, or universities, will cover the cost."

And what happens when the church school, college, university, hospital happens to be SELF INSURED?

Its not liberty for women if it comes at the expense of forcing others to violate their religious tenants. Churches don't PREVENT access to birth control, they refuse to be a part of the transaction.

There have been dozens and dozens of exemptions made to the Health Care Manadate over the past year - from McDonalds to the big unions. Why should they get exemptions and not the church?


"Now the President -- noting that 99% of all women have used birth control at some time in their life -- has offered a compromise. Insurance companies, not church schools, colleges, or universities, will cover the cost."

So if alot of women use the item, and by using the item, they tend to hold down medical costs - its OK for the govt to mandate individuals or insurance companies must provide it for free. That seems to be the logic.

So how about soap? Lots of people - even people that aren't women - use soap. They even use it more than they use birth control. And like we see on the helpful signs in bathrooms all across the country, washing your hands is an excellent way of stopping the spread of germs. If germs were spread, it will lead to illness and disease - which is very expensive to treat compared to the small cost of soap.

Therefore, I propose that the govt should MANDATE that my insurance company add SOAP to the list of things it covers - and that I should be able to get SOAP AT NO COST to me.


The comparison of soap with contraceptives borders on the ridiculous!

Fact is: Insurance does cover the cost of soap in medical treatment centers. Maybe not directly, but in covering Dr's fees and hospital standard facilitiy fees for health care.

If health care providers are allowed to eliminate any and all medications or proceedures that offend any religious doctrines, our public health care system will cease to be viable.


Ken - its not ridiculous. Paying for soap in a medical treatment center isn't even what I proposed. I want soap paid for as a PREVENTATIVE treatment (just like contraception) that I can get OUTSIDE of a treatment center (just like contraception). Its the same thing - and it follows the same logic. That you think its ridiculous is revealing.

"If health care providers are allowed to eliminate any and all medications or proceedures that offend any religious doctrines, our public health care system will cease to be viable."

Your insurance company or your employer are in now way "health care providers". Health care providers take an oath to provide good care, etc. Insurance companies just help you the individual pay for your health care. They should be able to cover or not cover any treatment they want. If you don't like their judgement, get a different insurance provider.

I know it might be hard to change insurance. And the reason its hard is that the government has made it tax advantageous for insurance to be offered thru employers when compared to privately acquired. Get the government out of the transaction, and your healthcare would become more portable. It would simplify the process of finding an insurance provider that offers exactly what you need/want.

Why should a married 60 year old couple have to have contraception included in their insurance policy. Thats an item they have ZERO use for, yet are either going to have to pay for it directly, or indirectly thru higher overall rates (I hope we can agree that insurance companies aren't just going to eat this new mandate cost without passing it on).


Schyler, religious tenets (not tenants) allegedly cover "no birth control.". From
what past patriarchal catacomb do such ideas come? Sorry, but soap's a lame analogy.
A larger issue is why we even have to mess with insurance companies. I suspect
we might agree that dealing with such large, insensitive bureaucracies
is a pain that free citizens, left or right, men or women, should not be forced to deal
with.
Single-payer would solve such dilemmas and not inject right-wing politics, or any politics,
into health care.


Schlyer, you have been quick to jump on other people's assumptions when replying to your comments.

You jump on my statement, "If health care providers are allowed to eliminate any and all medications or proceedures that offend any religious doctrines, our public health care system will cease to be viable." Where do you make the connection between 'health care providers' and insurance providers in that statement?

I will stick to my opinion as I stated it. Health care providers are Doctors, Health Clinics, Hospitals, etc. There are many communities that have limited access to all those providers. Oh! yes, we can drive to the next town or maybe several towns away and find care. If you don't think that can be a limiting factor on, sometimes, serious situations, then you are blind to reality. Licensed health care providers include nurses, Drs, EMTs, etc. If I come across a situation where someone needs care, such as CPR, I am not subject to liability if I don't perform it. I am not licensed. But if you are a licensed Dr., you had better be able to give good reason for not performing CPR. If you can't, you are subject to a lawsuit for not practicing what you supposedly are trained and licensed to do. You may find it hard to believe, but there are some people who have theological or doctrinal beliefs that say CPR is defying God's will. If you think your child would have responded to CPR and a Dr. was present and declined or refused to help your child on the grounds that it didn't fit their theology, you think that is OK ?

If you think legislation can single out all proceedures that you are exempt from and those that you are obligated to perform, on the basis of theology, then I guess you must think God is litterally and physically involved in every situation. That means man has no responsibility or obligation?

Society, in general, are supportive of civil authority determining requirments for licensing professional to protect society from incompetent or untrained professionals. But, most likely, few people in society think civil authorities should determine theology for all individuals and situations.


"Where do you make the connection between 'health care providers' and insurance providers in that statement?"

I don't make the connection. I was trying to correct what appeared to be you conflating the two. This mandate doesn't impact health care providers at all - why you would suddenly bring them into the conversation as if they are relevant confused me.


"Sorry, but soap's a lame analogy."

Your assertion doesn't make it so. Help me out and tell me WHY I'm mistaken.

I've laid out my logic on why its not lame. I tried to use the same objective criteria that appears to be in play with contraception. Using that criteria, soap would also qualify for a mandate. If I've made an error in my logic, please point it out to me.

"I suspect we might agree that dealing with such large, insensitive bureaucracies is a pain that free citizens, left or right, men or women, should not be forced to deal
with."

Its a pain, but who is FORCING you to deal with an insurance company? Pre-Obamacare, dealing with insurance was a CHOICE. It is your very government that has now eliminated that choice and is FORCING you to deal with an insurance company.

And your suggestion for overcoming the problems with insurance is single-payer? As if government itself isn't a large, insensitive bureaucracy.



"I don't make the connection. I was trying to correct what appeared to be you conflating the two. " What was the apparent conflating of 'health care providers' and insurance companies?

I haven't seen any indication that the insurance companies are objecting to covering contraception of any form. I have understood that Doctors, Hospitals, and some religious groups are very loudly objecting. My point is that those Doctors and Hospitals that are being depended upon to provide public services should not be allowed to refuse treatment to anyone on religious grounds. Neither should they be privileged to dictate to the insurance companies that they cannot provide certain treatments on the basis of religious dogma.

I am certainly not saying health care providers or insurance companies should be forced to provide treatment or coverage that is against civil law. Until contraception, abortion, and other treatments or practices are declared illegal by civil government then those services should be available by entities that are open to public access for health care and all accepted medications or treatments.

I am also saying that when any religious organization (Christian on non Christian) is allowed to mandate civil enforcement of their particular dogma, this country will no longer have freedom of religion. Call it what you want to, but I call it 'separation of church & state'. The state should not tell you what you have to believe and you cannot call on the state to tell me what to believe.


The soap analogy is not just lame; it's also faulty as an analolgy to birth control pills. Soap is relatively inexpensive compared to the monthly cost of birth control pills. Failure to use soap will not lead to a woman having an abortion or giving birth to a child for which she will be responsible for at least eighteen years. For most parents, that responsiblity in terms of worry never ends. I speak from experience. My three kids are all doing well, but I still worry.

Nowadays, with states cutting funding to programs that serve mothers and children, parents have an especially hard time making sure kids are taken care of. Oh, I know, if they can't afford children, they shouldn't have sex. We all know how unrealistic that old canard is. All people enjoy sex and most people enjoy it even when they aren't interested in having children. Many of us don't belong to religions that try to indocrinate us into believing that sex is evil. It isn't. What is evil is depriving women, and men, the contraception they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Of course, not using soap could have the desirable side effect of forestalling any sexual encounters. Who wants to get up close and personal with a person who stinks? I don't.

Schyler, I don't know if you're a man or a woman and I don't care to know. If you don't want to use contraception, don't. However, many men and women disagree with you on this issue and are free to do so. So go scrub up and get your analogies straight.


"Soap is relatively inexpensive compared to the monthly cost of birth control pills."

$9/month at Target/CVS/Others

"Failure to use soap will not lead to a woman having an abortion or giving birth to a child for which she will be responsible for at least eighteen years."

Analogy: "a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject. But your criticism is that my example doesn't have a baby involved? The analogy is simple - cheap product, widely used, that reduces medical costs to the system. Birth Control fits. Soap fits. Lots of other things fit too.

"If you don't want to use contraception, don't."

Don't put words in my mouth (a recurring theme here)


"I haven't seen any indication that the insurance companies are objecting to covering contraception of any form. I have understood that Doctors, Hospitals, and some religious groups are very loudly objecting."

I've mentioned this before. Many of the religious medical institutions are SELF-INSURED. They are their own insurance company - they pay the claims. When the church complains about this policy - they are doing so as an insurance company.

I'll also ask again - with all the waivers to Obamacare that other companies and unions have received - why doesn't the church deserve one here?


"with all the waivers" If those waivers are not justified or ligitimate, does that justify making waivers for the Church? Two wrongs don't make a right.

Perhaps, you need to reference those 'waivers' and explain what is being waived and why they are or aren't ligitimate. There may well be some that are not ligitamate. And you may need to explain how your desired waiver is based on the same justifications of other waivers.


There is so much ignorance surrounding the use of birth control - especially when it comes to the use of pills. What will a doctor need to do in order to prescribe birth control pills to a woman who has a health need above and beyond the basic contraceptive use? Will he or she be beholden to the insurance companies or the religious employer to write a note, if you will, describing the medical need for a woman to be prescribed the pill and then swear on a stack of bibles that she will not use it to prevent birth but rather to prevent cancer? This argument is entering the world of the inane.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on February 20, 2012. The one written previous to this is titled "The Wichita Eagle and the Koch Brothers: A Cozy, Cuddly Match" and the story published right after this one is "Kansans Ask, 'Where is Kris Kobach?'"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.