Thursday, February 16, 2012

Women are Beautiful

Ms. Valerie Pokorny from the Archdiocese of San Antonio has written an article for CNN Opinion on why contraception denigrates her as a woman. She's responding to the argument being put out there that opposition to contraception (or moral opposition to paying for it) is somehow demeaning to women's equality and women's rights. While everyone has to make a moral decision about this, this argument does not reflect the view of those of us who have moral opposition to artificial contraception. Ms. Pokorny writes:
I tell [Catholic moms and their middle school or high school daughters] it’s no accident that they are women, that women are equal to men in personal dignity, and that men and women are different by design. Those differences are meant to work together for the benefit of each individual, but also for the benefit of the world around them. I tell them there’s such a thing as the genius of women - and that the world needs them to cherish this in themselves and strive to live it out to the fullest because it is good. The world would be impoverished without it.
This is fundamental and basic natural law. She continues:
The Obama administration’s primary talking point on this issue is that “Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health.”

I agree. 100 percent.

But from there, the defense sounds like slick advertising for the contraceptive industry: To be a healthy woman, you need contraception. All the successful women use it. You can’t live without it.

Should I so easily accept the implication that I need to alter a part of myself that’s working properly in order to be free or fulfilled? I find this premise tremendously offensive. To me, this exerts pressure tantamount to that felt by women who purge after eating to attain or maintain a particular body image. It encourages women to think that their value is somehow intrinsically tied to how sexually available and desirable they are...

My fertility is not a disease. It does not need to be repressed, manipulated, or rejected. It ought to be accepted and respected accordingly, by individuals and by society as a whole.
She expresses an opinion that is truly radical in today's culture. It would seem that more and more women are coming to this realization - even non-Catholics and those who are concerned about the pill's health and environmental side effects. Real Love Inc. also points out why those who argue that contraception is part of "gender equality" are crazy:
Pregnancy is how a woman’s body is supposed to work. It’s the way we’re made. Birth control works against that, by preventing or altering the body’s normal processes. In classifying contraception as “preventative”, the United States government has deemed the healthy functioning of women’s healthy bodies as defective, and in need of government-provided intervention to alter.

So now women’s healthy bodies are deemed defective. But what about men? Apparently their non-impregnable anatomies are fine just as they are, and in that respect represent the standard for which women should strive. CNN made this point when they said that “Liberal groups have pushed for an expansive contraception coverage requirement on grounds of gender equality in health care.”

So now “gender equality” apparently requires that women’s bodies function like men’s bodies.
That's the heart of it. Of course, even the Catholic Church has long recognized that hormonal birth control can be legitimately used when the intention is to treat a hormonal imbalance or condition (though it is rarely pointed out that, in many cases, this merely masks the root cause, and it is not without harmful side effects including its potential abortifacient properties), that is not what we are talking about here.

My wife and I fully embraced Catholic teaching on marriage and contraception. It just made so much sense to us. Yet, even in the conservative suburbs of Texas, we're still treated oddly by others. We are fortunate, though, to live in an area with a large population of Catholics who embrace Natural Family Planning (which is NOT the "rhythm method") and are open to life. Though my wife and I haven't yet been blessed with children, our friends are an inspiration to us; we have no illusions about how difficult it is to raise a family and hold down a career in these tough economic times. But, as Ms. Pokorny concludes in her article, "I’m all for the progress of woman. Let’s just make sure in promoting her progress, we don’t reject something that is inherently part of her in the first place."


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