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Random Thoughts on the Contraception Battle

As a preacher myself, I have to say that the outcry of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops over requiring insurers to cover artificial contraception is a terribly sad reflection on their own preaching ability. Their own parishioners refuse to accept their preaching against artificial contraception, and so the bishops  want the government to enforce their preaching for them. Maybe instead of doing that, the bishops should go back to seminary for another preaching class or two.

When a preacher has to get the government to enforce what they cannot persuade their own people to do . . . it’s a sad day for the church.

* * *

Isn’t it odd that the USCCB is opposed to artificial contraception, but they have no problem with contraception via “natural family planning“? From the USCCB: “Because it allows couples to adjust their behavior to the naturally occurring cycles of a woman’s body, NFP is not a contraceptive–i.e., it does nothing to work against conception.”

Right. Except for the fact that the whole point of using NFP for most couples is to WORK AGAINST GETTING PREGNANT.

Pardon me if I fail to see the logic here. If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck . . .

* * *

The stance of the bishops on “religious liberty” and “freedom of conscience” appears to apply only to them. In their minds, the religious liberty and consciences of their employees matter not a whit, nor do those of the women who are almost unanimous in rejecting the thinking of the bishops. “Freedom of religion is fine for me,” say the bishops, “but not for thee.”

* * *

My denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is not opposed to contraception. Indeed, in a 2009 social statement on human sexuality, the ELCA went on record saying this:

[The ELCA] supports the development and use of medical products, birth control, and initiatives that support fulfilling and responsible sexuality. This church also recognizes the important role that the availability of birth control has played in allowing women and men to make responsible decisions about the bearing and rearing of children.

Kind of a big difference, don’t you think? Yet another reason I’m proud to be a Lutheran.

* * *

I get tired of the media saying “the Church believes . . .” when what they mean is “the US Conference of Catholic Bishops believes . . .” or “certain famous fundamentalist Christians believe . . .” Contrary to what the Pope or James Dobson would have the world think, neither one actually speaks for all who call themselves Christian.

* * *

If the Democratic women of the US House and Senate wanted to challenge Darrell Issa’s Very Serious All-Male Revue, perhaps they should have contacted the Most Reverend Doctor Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church reaffirmed its approval of contraception as recently as 1994, saying in part

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church reaffirm the 1930 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican communion, which approved contraception for purposes of family planning; and be it further

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church, in order to improve the quality of life for all, commend to the several dioceses and agencies of the Episcopal Church as well as to the relative structures of the Anglican Communion programs and projects to provide information to all men and women on the full range of affordable, acceptable, safe, and non-coercive contraceptive and reproductive health care services, utilizing educational programs which start with parents and their children

I would have loved to have seen Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori testify before Issa’s panel. The fact that she’s got a degree in biology to go along with her theological degrees would have her testimony very, very interesting.

Of course, since she lacks a Y chromosome, that probably disqualifies her in the minds of folks like the Catholic Bishops and Congressman Issa.

* * *

Not all prescriptions for The Pill have to do with contraception.

* * *

Dahlia Lithwick asks a very good question: where’s the outrage?

As Scarecrow noted in an email yesterday, Virginia “gives a new meaning to the term ‘statutory rape.'”

Ain’t that the truth.

* * *

When I read this, I thought of those who think that $600 a year for contraception is no big deal and believe women should pay for it themselves:

The doors to the Kansas Mission of Mercy clinic weren’t scheduled to open until two hours later [at 5:30am], but people from as far away as the Colorado border had begun arriving before 8 Thursday night.

Traffic was tied up, and the parking lot at the vacant Walmart where the clinic is being held was packed tighter than you’d expect on Black Friday.

Organizers let people in early to spend the night indoors. The Salvation Army served breakfast. And by 6 a.m. – before the first patient even sat in a dental chair – all 1,100 slots for the day were filled and people were being turned away.

Saturday is the clinic’s second and final day, and an equally large crowd is expected.

“We’re doing thousands and thousands of fillings and lots of extractions. Many patients have very sick teeth that are affecting their health,” said Cindi Sherwood of Independence, Kan., one of the 173 dentists volunteering for the event. “A lot of these patients are the working poor. They have jobs, they have a bunch of kids. They don’t have insurance.”

Somehow, I’m betting that these folks would have a hard time coming up with $600 a year for contraception. (The “they have a bunch of kids” line kind of stands out, now that I think about it.) It’s not like things have gotten so much better economically since Vanessa Collins, an ob/gyn, wrote about the cost of birth control in July 2011.


photo h/t to Sarah C, aka starbooze

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.