If you read your daily newspaper today, and I mean really read it because the story was probably not too big, you may have seen that there were some rallies yesterday to protest the HHS mandate requiring ALL health insurance policies to provide coverage for contraception and sterilization procedures (read about it here). The rallies took place in about 140 cities, drawing anywhere from 200 to 2000 people at each according to news reports I’ve read. Now, let’s say that the average number was 500 at each location (a light estimate); that would mean that 70,000 people across the country showed up at noon on a workday to protest this. How much did you hear about it on the evening news last night? I’m guessing not much. I’m not sure how many total people took part in the “occupy” movement last fall, but I know I heard about it every night for weeks.
Now, personally, I haven’t picked up a print newspaper in years. I do all my newspaper reading on the internet, which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. One thing that is both an advantage and disadvantage is that in the online version you get to read reader’s comments. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad, and sometimes they’re downright scary. The comments regarding these rallies were no exception. Many of the comments that I read, in one way or another, said something along the lines of:
“It never ceases to amaze me that people who are against abortion are also against contraception. It makes no sense. If you want to stop unwanted pregnancies you have to use contraception”
Ahh yes, the old “people can’t possibly control themselves, so we must medicate them to break something that is working perfectly fine” defense. I know it well. I use to use it all the time. My mentality when it came to “sowing my oats” was this, first line of defense was women’s birth control. I mean, after all, if the girl was willing to take the risk she must me doing something to prevent a pregnancy, right? Second line of defense would be the use of a condom, but those were no fun and just seemed to “kill the mood” so I would usually skip that one. What about STDs, you might ask? No worries. Most of those can be cleared up with a little treatment, and the ones that can’t, well, no one that I would be with would have any of those anyways. I know it doesn’t make sense, but this was actually how I thought. Then, the third line of defense, if the woman failed to do her job, $250 and a trip to the planned parenthood clinic could make the whole “problem” go away. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve used all three of these lines of defense at some point in my life. It wouldn’t have mattered if they were giving condoms away for free in bars, I still wouldn’t have used them. Free contraception will NOT stop unwanted pregnancies, it will only make people feel more free to engage in casual sex. Just look at our history. Do we have more or less unwanted pregnancies today than in the 1950′s? Do we have more or less access to contraception today than in the 1950′s? It doesn’t seem to be “fixing” much, does it?
I say this not to write a dissertation on the failures I’ve had in my life, but rather to shed some light on the Church and Her teaching on contraception. You see, when my wife Emily first mentioned the idea of coming into the Church, my first point to attack to get me out of it was the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion. I “knew” that the Chuch’s teaching on the subject was three things:
- Made up by a bunch of celibate old men in an effort to keep the church full of new members and take all of the fun out of the sexual act.
- Old and antiquated, completely unable to fit into modern society
I found out that I was wrong about the first two, not the last.
I’m going to spend the next few posts talking about this subject in an effort to explain what I learned about the Church’s teachings that got me to change my mind so radically. I will talk about it in a light, non-technical way, mainly because that’s all I’m capable of. I am not a reproductive specialist, a sociologist, or a theologian. I am just a person who was in search of the truth, who found that truth in the Catholic Church, and Her teaching on contraception and abortion was the first step in this process. So, please stay tuned to future post as I lay out how this happened.