What follows was part of a discussion on a well known “social media site”. I copied it because I thought it said a lot about a great divide in our country, the one between two kinds of people, two generations, two different world views, two different cultures. It was occasioned by the appearance of a cartoon showing the President of these Untied States wearing the clerical robes of a pope. It was s satirical cartoon designed for strong reactions, and it got them. People objected to the artist’s robing Obama as the Catholic Pontiff, commented on his support for abortion and his refusal to recognize the conscience rights of Catholics. Someone, a young woman, wrote:
I find it disturbing, but I’m mostly offended by the commentary it represents. I don’t like Obama, but I don’t find him to be any more “tyrannical” or arrogant than any other President we’ve had. Calling him a Communist really just illuminates one’s complete misunderstanding of communism, and the equation of abortion with the Holocaust as well as the implication that requiring insurance to cover birth control is equal to abortion, just pisses me off.
And someone replied that while the Holocaust had destroyed a mere 6 million, the death toll from abortion was much higher than that. They wanted to know why such a thing as that comparison “pissed her off”. The lady said:
Because those Jews weren’t unborn fetuses whose existence required the cooperation of women whose bodies they’d be inhabiting, stressing, straining and whose lives they’d be massively impacting irreparably as a result…. I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.
This occasioned a criticism of the lady’s position on abortion and contraception as rights guaranteed by the Constitution and legitimate medical procedures necessary for good reproductive health. She took issue:
Yeah… I disagree. People have a right to want to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result, and they also have a right to end pregnancies. You see – there’s a part of anyone’s moral compass that may say “well, in the event of rape – or in the event of medical complications – or in the event of abuse – or in the event of an accident…” well guess what – I don’t think the government should be sitting in a woman’s doctor’s office with her… and I don’t consider myself or anyone else an appropriate judge of when it’s “okay” and it’s not to abort an unwanted fetus – so in the interest of liberty, I’m going to excuse myself and the government acting on my behalf, and anyone else I have the power to excuse, of the right to decide when that woman may exercise her physical autonomy. She is a free being – if she chooses to allow a fetus to grow inside her, if she chooses to remove it – that’s entirely none of anybody else’s business. The moral consequences are hers alone, whatever they may be…. I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.
As for the requirement that private employer’s insurance policies cover contraception – I could go on at length about the necessity of hormonal birth control for many women (such as myself) for entirely NON-birth control related reasons (if I don’t take it, I get terrible cysts due to my endometriosis – cysts that may very well prevent me from getting pregnant in the future when I choose to) – but also that I don’t think an employer, whether or not it’s the Catholic church, should be making the medical decisions of its employees. Removing one area of coverage allows others to be chipped away at – and employers and insurance companies may find it in their interest to lower premiums by not covering many routine and/or necessary procedures they chose not to agree with for whatever reason.
Someone took issue with her position:
You need not go on at length about the necessity of hormonal treatments for many women. I am relying only on my memory, and anecdotes from a woman (my first mother-in-law, may she rest in peace) who worked for one of the doctors who developed such medications here, but I seem to recall that he and his colleagues were concerned to develop medications for those conditions…and to regulate the menstrual cycles of their patients who were having trouble conceiving. I got the distinct impression that this one doctor, at least, was dismayed at what has been made of his work, since. That is merely an impression, though.
That said, it would be heartless of me to seek to bar someone who needed an effective treatment from getting it, and I would think the same of anyone else who held that view, that they were heartless. However, I would give odds that the number of therapeutic uses to which those medications are put is far outweighed by the number of women who use them for what is thought by most of the world to be their only use. You and I do not agree that people have a” right to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result”, especially if the exercise of that “right” requires me…or any other person, or organization….whose religion and deeply held belief consider such a thing morally reprehensible. More than that, I am not alone in thinking that requiring persons who so believe to pay for the means to do so in however small a part is equally reprehensible. In such a case, my constitutional right to the free practice of my religion trumped the other” right” you champion so eloquently…until January 20.
Let me make myself clear, here. There is no right that I know to health care of any kind either enumerated in the constitution or to be found in the shadows of those rights enumerated…except for abortion from 1973, a procedure which I and many others consider homicide, now made legal and claimed as a right, and simply because it is performed by doctors in clinics and hospitals also recognized as a “therapeutic” procedure…an Orwellian mangling of language if ever there was one.
Finally, I’ll risk being possibly incorrect on your position about Obamacare, but I think I will be safe in concluding that whatever it is, your position and mine on the so called “mandate” and its subsequent amendment meet with your approval. If I am wrong you may chalk it up to my leaping to that conclusion from your assertion of a right to mutual getting off without the risk/threat of pregnancy. Even though the exercise of that right requires the use of some forms of contraception for a perversion of their original purpose.
Time and space do not permit an exploration of why I would reject as immoral such things. Time and space do not allow, either, for a discussion which I think needs being had in this country about responsibilities and duties rather than rights; concepts which would seem to me to rule out such things as mutual getting off without the risk of pregnancy. Suffice to say the arguments would be framed within natural law principles, which I suppose you know well and reject. And, now, I retire.
And that is the way it rests. Silence reigns, and no one is satisfied with anyone else.