US Catholic bishops want women to die of cancer, I guess

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They didn’t quite come right out and say it, but they kind of forgot to check their privilege and do some, you know, research before proclaiming a bunch of untruths about the birth control pill as a medication. And they don’t just want you to hear the untruths; they want to restrain your insurance coverage based on alleged facts that are both untrue and incomplete.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is once more trying to flex its muscles.  Not happy to have simply pushed to remove all abortion coverage from health care reform, they now have a new target: making sure birth control isn’t covered, either.

An organization representing U.S. Catholic bishops is asking federal regulators not to classify contraceptives and sterilization as preventive services, thus entitling them to full coverage under the health care reform law, in final rules.

Quite a few types of preventive care are to be covered, but they don’t want birth control on that list. The most obvious reasons why this is both stupid and misogynistic have to do with pregnancy: it would mean that women who can’t afford birth control or abortions can’t afford to have sex. Now, as repugnant as you may find that stance, it is actually a sound perspective – insofar as it goes. But when you combine this with the fact that Catholics encourage people to marry het-style, and the Bible says a wife can’t deny her husband sex, and that sex shouldn’t be enjoyed in any form but the reproductive kind, and it shouldn’t be with someone of your own gender so as to avoid the whole pregnancy issue, and you’re not even allowed to kill yourself, then one could also infer they are saying poor women who can’t afford birth control shouldn’t get married. What is this? A way to force women into the convent?

But I digress. Because there’s a less subtle reason why what the bishops are urging is sick: it could result in deaths for women. And I’m not talking just about pregnancy complication deaths, though those are important (but everyone’s already decided whether or not they think women should have to die to have babies, so I’m not getting into it just now). The bishops say, incorrectly (they’re trusting “correlation=causation” pseudoscience), that the pill causes a bunch of health problems:

Cancer is not the only problem. Contraceptive Technology cites numerous studies in which estrogen in contraceptives has been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and hypertension.

Now, read that carefully, and then read the following carefully. One in four women have Polycystic Ovarian Symdrome, or PCOS. It is not so thoroughly understood at this point, and is probably actually a collection of several quite different disorders, all of which result in irregular or non-existent menstruation and infertility. Interestingly, it seems that menstruating gives women some protection against heart attacks and various other things that contribute to why men don’t live as long on average as we do. Having PCOS renders that protection moot, and raises a woman’s risk for heart problems and so on. Additionally, PCOS seems to cause (or at least be strongly associated with) ovarian cancer, which is one of those cancers that’s typically not found until it’s too late to save the patient’s life.

Guess what simple medical treatment restores to a woman with PCOS her protection against heart attacks and all that jazz, and significantly reduces her chances of ovarian cancer? C’mon, guess! That’s right – birth control pills. And this is why OB-GYNs routinely prescribe the pill to women with PCOS who are not currently looking to get pregnant. Yes, folks: the birth control pill is saving the lives of not only stinkly ol’ women, but wholesome virgins and pious wives, like, you know, Mary, Mother of Jesus. But ultimately, I guess we must infer this group would rather those women die than some disgusting sex-haver get the benefit of birth control. Wow. Harsh.

It’s not exactly difficult to phone an OB-GYN’s office and say, “What all is the pill prescribed for, other than the obvious?” Go ahead, I’ll give you thirty seconds to try it yourself and see.

Or, maybe if you’re not a doctor, you should shut up, get back in your little confessional booth, and enjoy your tax-free status while you still have it because it’s about time somebody launched a massive campaign to get government-interfering churches to pay massive back taxes. If separation of church and state is only protecting the church, then the church can start coughing up some income taxes.

The Bishops certainly aren’t the only group that needs to shut up and let doctors practice medicine. I’m sure they aren’t even the only religious group pressuring politicians into making their concept of morality into law. All of these people need to tend to their own business and their own morality morasses and let the government focus on what’s practical instead of one powerful group’s oddball definition of morality.

And in closing, here’s a promise: if I ever get it in my head that some men-only medication should be made harder for men to get their hands on, I will phone up a doctor and make sure it doesn’t have any other healthful uses instead of assuming I know everything because I know the obvious.

God, save us from Your followers.

Comments

  1. Patrick McGraw says

    …it’s about time somebody launched a massive campaign to get government-interfering churches to pay massive back taxes. If separation of church and state is only protecting the church, then the church can start coughing up some income taxes.

    Word. The non-establishment clause is supposed to protect both religions and the government from interference.

    The scary thing is that with organizations and movements such as the Dominionists, getting their version of their religion codified into the law of the land isn’t just a probable result of their efforts, it is the stated goal, the Constitution be damned. (Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was pretty explicit about this.)

    • says

      Then maybe the state should treat organizations like the Dominionists like it does any enemy country with a stated objecting of taking over the USA. I’m all for peaceful practicing of religion, I really am, without interference from the state. If a weird separatist cult is stockpiling guns but not actually hurting anyone, including its own members, I’m staunchly against the state interfering. But when a church/sect/whatever acts like a colonizer, warlord or any other type of aggressor – or like organized crime, using their money to control the government without paying into the government – I think that specific religious group should be treated according to how it’s behaving, not what it calls itself.

  2. says

    But Viagra apparently seems to only be banned for those who commit sexually-based crimes. Male sexual (dys)function is still covered.

    The GOP platform for health care reform can be summed up, more or less, as:

    Get back in the kitchen where you belong, bitch. And make me a sammich while you are at it.

  3. Anne says

    I put up a link to this article on Facebook, knowing that it might make some of my FB friends, well, angry, but I got this comment:

    “Annie, that has to be the most absurd, far-fetched article I’ve ever read. I didn’t think you’d bother with the works of idiots. Even if birth control was banned, it wouldn’t stop doctors from prescribing estrogen/progesterone mixes to patients with PCOD… such a bad article.”

    I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. This guy who wrote this is a med student. He’s not a stupid guy. But it seems like a case of someone completely missing the point. He overlooked the Catholic component and went straight to how doctors would respond, as though the fact that there is a medical alternative (?) negates any problem.

    Contextually, I don’t trust this person on issues that involve women–he has said that he doesn’t want his premed girlfriend to become a doctor–he wants her at home. Ugh. I don’t think he really gets that it’s not just a medical or religious issue. It’s a female issue. And a female issue that I have had close proximity to–knowing women with PCOS for one, knowing women who don’t want babies, need to manage hormones, etc. Meh. I don’t really know how to respond to him. I’ll probably say something sarcastic.

    • says

      Nope, he’s completely and totally wrong, according to my OB-GYN, who has about 30 years experience on him and keeps up with all the latest. We actually discussed this some time ago in regards to my own treatment. The hormone replacement options don’t work for PCOS, period. Several SPECIFIC brands of BC are the preferred medication*. And even if someone developed a hormone replacement medication that actually worked for PCOS, it would also – wait for it – prevent pregnancy, so we’d be back at this same party again.

      Your friend needs to check his privilege, because he doesn’t know all he thinks he knows. Also, you know… I cut slack to Baby Boomer men who wanted their wives at home. Yes, some were misogynistic beasts, but some were just going unthinkingly along with cultural norms or peer pressure. But today? Women staying at home is no longer the common arrangement and no longer a cultural norm. Any young man who has something invested in his wife being at home must have a specific reason for feeling that way. I can’t think of any that would make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, if you catch my drift.

      *I have to say, this was the top Bing result for “hormone meds for PCOS”, which I searched lest I find ANY info suggesting non-BC hormone therapy could help PCOS. None of the top results indicated any such thing. I’m not even a med student, you know?

      • Jules says

        I agree Jennifer, my own OBGYN also said that the best treatment was oral birth control, and that particular ones did a better job over others. Although when I asked her about any correlation between ovarian cancer and PCOS she said there wasn’t really one, and my current internet search also brings up conflicting evidence, however it seems to support a link to PCOS and endometrial cancers.

        I also have endometriosis, which is also treated with oral birth control (so at least I was able to kill two birds with one stone). I was diagnosed with both in my late teens and have been on oral BC ever since.

        I just want to point out for the record that 1) I am an atheist, so I have no imposed moral code, and 2) in spite of being on BC for over 10 years, I didn’t lose my virginity until I was in my late twenties. So it kinda makes me question the bishops motives that they don’t trust their own flock to make the “right” choices they taught them while letting their parishioners to take advantage of the benefits of modern health care. Especially when this is all at the expense of the poor and vulnerable of our society. I mean, the thought that simply having affordable BC available for whatever the reasons as would result in amoral behaviour is comparable to the antiquated thought that weed is a ‘gateway drug’. A + B does not always = C But the mere fact that the attempt is not just to police their own people, but society as a whole makes it all the more offensive.

        Christian, theist, or other, we all have to make choices for our health. I can’t imagine that the bishops would win this particular fight in the face of so many studies that have shown the improvement in people’s lives (in regards to both health and reproductive control, for both men and women), regardless of the risks of BC like blood clots. There are major risks associated with being pregnant and giving birth, but you don’t see them arguing against that. So it is a bit of a false dichotomy when they are taking to position of “we’re worried about your health, seriously!”.

        On a more nefarious note, I can’t imagine that the government would be so pleased to get rid of voluntary preventive birth control for many social-political reasons.

        • Scarlett says

          Jules, a couple of years ago there was this big deal in Australia from Christian camps when the government (it may have been Aus-wide or just WA) wanted to provide free Herpes vaccines for schoolgirls in order to prevent ovarian cancer. The logic? Now that these girl knew they were immune to ONE PARTICULAR STD, they wouls start sleeping around liek nobody’s business. ‘Cos, y’know, if I were a teenage girl thinking of having sex, knowing I was immune to a lesser-known STD would TOTALLY scare me more than the threat of HIV or pregnancy :p

          • Jules says

            Oh, I know it. The Gardasil shot proved to be the same problem when it was promoted to prevent the 4 kinds of HPV (the most common form of STD that cause vulvar, anal, penile, and 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts according to wikipedia) and the religious right went nuts when it was being promoted for girls as young as 9 to 26 in Canada and the USA. The logic of the doctors being “catch’em young before they become sexually active so they don’t get certain cancers later in life” the against camp saying “they will become promiscuous!” *facepalm* Give children a well rounded sexual education and the odds of dangerous promiscuity is reined in.

            Granted I went out of my way to get the 3 shots when I was 28 because I was planning on becoming sexually active, and wanted to be as safe as possible about it. (If such an option had been available when I was in my teens, I would have asked for it then, still not intending on having any sex.) But not everyone has the luxury or desire to wait such a ridiculous amount of time before expressing their sexual side. And personal choices like that are WELL beyond the realm of parental control. So you’d think we all just operate on the cliché – that it is at least better safe than sorry when it comes to cancer. Sex is pretty much inevitable, but cancer doesn’t have to be.

            I think the most terrible thing about the Gardasil shot was the prohibitive cost ($180 X 3 in Canada). I certainly could not afford it, have spent a lot more time at home, and bumming food off my family to pay for it. And again, it makes good health something only attainable for the elite.

            On a side observation, it really bothers me when people treat various STDs as some sort of divine or fateful punishment for sex… now there is a harmful concept than needs to be stomped out.

            • says

              The greatest deterrent to people having sex, ever, is to teach kids reasoning and critical thinking – this could even be why more educated people tend to have fewer children. Because if the reasoning parts of the brain are well-developed while the brain is still forming, that person will forever (tend to; generally speaking; other factors exist) make decisions that are less emotional than people with poorer reasoning abilities make. When they decide they’re in the right place to start having sex, they can tell you what their reasoning was. And it will be better than, “Well, I didn’t think baby Jesus would weep” or the very common, “We were horny for each other, so we got married so we could have sex.”

              It’s kind of like what I talked about here: most of the rightwingers seem unable to fathom that the decision about when to start having sex, if ever, can be made rationally rather than via some random dogma or the lack thereof. They’ve conveniently missed all the, for example, psychological (non-theist, non-religious) arguments about both kids and adults having sex for psychologically unsound reasons, or about people ignoring their own psychological issues to have sex that might worsen their mental health, etc.

              In short, the evango-Repub-rightwingers* seem to think THEY are the sole purveyors of the message that sex is not always the best decision in every given situation, and that if someone prevents them coding their anti-sex messages into law, the result will be instant orgies in the street. I don’t know how one achieves that level of irrationality and obliviousness.

              *I’m trying to specify those Christians who think like this, since it’s certainly not all of them.

              ETA: re: your comments on other kinds of cancer and PCOS. Sounds like that’s recent research. I last discussed this with my OB-GYN about 4 years ago, and I do recall her mentioning that the connection between PCOS and ovarian is less clear than it used to be, but she’s still confident PCOS has some connection with some cancers, and the pill seems to alleviate that – as well as many other problems – so it remains the treatment of choice. Also, just as an interesting sidebar, apparently different brands of oral BC are better for different presentations of PCOS.

          • Scarlett says

            Jules, that sounds like what happened in Australia – I had forgotten the details, only the way the Christian camp carried on. I was actually lucky, for a limited time – and it was at least a year – they were giving the shots free to under-28’s (I forget what the lower age limit was, though). It blows my mind how some people can make these link between a prevention for so many cancers and promiscuity. (And even if there WAS a link, whats worse, promiscuity or cancer?)

          • Patrick McGraw says

            “We were horny for each other, so we got married so we could have sex.”

            My observation has been that young people getting married for this reason causes far more harm than if they just banged, realized they weren’t really right for each other, and moved on with their lives.

            *I’m trying to specify those Christians who think like this, since it’s certainly not all of them.

            Thank you. There are a lot of us working towards improving sex education and people’s access to vital health care like birth control.

            • says

              My observation has been that young people getting married for this reason causes far more harm than if they just banged, realized they weren’t really right for each other, and moved on with their lives.

              It really can be a disaster – and not just for the couple, but for any kids they have.

              Thank you. There are a lot of us working towards improving sex education and people’s access to vital health care like birth control.

              I know – thankfully, I’ve been exposed to many types of Christians. Since there are so many times certain Christians make trouble that really needs a shoutout from this site, I try to do what I can do be specific and remind people Christians aren’t the Borg, either. I hope you always feel free to poke me if you think I’m neglecting those distinctions at any time.

  4. Ray says

    There were some nun’s organizations that publicly went against the Bishops, not specifically on this, but on the Bishops’ anti-health reform stance, which reminded me that there are still people in the Church who are there to help others more than to pass judgement on them, but it’s things like this that prove that the opposite is also true… I’m sure that in the opinions of many of the Bishops, this is a “helping others” situation, but only if they impose their worldview on everyone, which is the whole problem with institutional religion and it being a political force

    • Casey says

      From everything my mom’s taught me about what little she knows of Catholicism (her step-father’s Italian-Catholic*), it’s that “the nuns are the only really good ones but they get treated like shit and all the guys are sexist assholes”. Um…gee, thanks Mom. :|

      *as opposed to Irish-Catholic, I guess (I was raised Protestant…sorta…it’s kind of complicated)

      • says

        Heh. I spent a good twenty odd years as a Catholic (before getting sucked into a pentecostal cult then later becoming a witch) and my adoptive mum was schooled by nuns… IMHO the whole belief system is so screwed that regardless of the good intentions of the person involved, it’s very damn difficult to get a good outcome. Yes the guys were sexist, but the women were also so down-trodden and had internalised so much guilt and self-loathing that it became pretty much pathalogical.

  5. Miss Gradenko says

    If it’s alright, I’d like to comment on your digression, the point about Catholic teachings on sex. Well… there’s a lot to talk about in that realm, I suppose, so I’ll narrow down even further: “…that sex shouldn’t be enjoyed in any form but the reproductive kind…” Catholicism says that sex is for bringing a couple closer together in love, but they have to be OPEN to children. It’s not the “Catholic-baby-wonder-machine”. :) Here’s a quote from the Catechism:

    Paragraph 1643 “Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”

    This isn’t to say you have to agree in any way shape or form, just that this is the accurate representation of Catholic teaching on sex.

    • says

      You seem to be responding to… I don’t know what, but not what I said. I said “any form but the reproductive kind”, referring to practices like oral sex. Catholic teaching forbids sex that can’t result in procreation, i.e., oral sex, unless of course the non-procreational act is attached to a procreational act (such as providing a woman an orgasm after the man climaxed during PIV sex but she did not). So a couple who absolutely can’t afford to have a child can’t use birth control (sin), can’t have non-procreational sex (sin)… the only sinless option seems to be for the spouses to stop having sex. Which is just too bad for women who can’t survive a pregnancy and couples who can’t afford one.

      And the Bishops want to push this lack of options on people outside their faith who can’t afford the considerable costs of uninsured birth control.

      • Miss Gradenko says

        Alright, I DID misunderstand your point. Sorry for the mix up!!

        As far as the fact that couple who can’t afford to have a child can’t use birth control in the form of contraceptives, yes, the Church teaches that this is a sin. BUT, that’s not to say the only alternative is to stop having sex. The Church is absolutely fine with Natural Family Planning, a non-contraceptive way to plan when to get pregnant.

        About women who won’t survive pregnancy: No, the Catholic Church does not say, “Oh well, too bad, go die, worthless woman.” This is going to sound a little strange, but via the principle of double effect, the Church teaches that a woman who will/could die by giving birth can take a treatment that will save her life and as a side effect result in the death of her unborn baby. So the alternatives for Catholic couples aren’t to stop having sex or die in destitution from a pregnancy complication.

        As far as the Bishops pushing their view of morality on non-Catholics: whether you agree with them or not, in principle, they have a right to stand up against what they perceive as a moral wrong in their country. Let’s say that the USA decided to enact a law that prohibited women from giving testimony in a court of law, or prohibited them from owning property, or something that both you and the Biships see as immoral. Don’t you think it’s within your rights and maybe even a good thing to do for you to stand up against a law like this? The Bishops are doing the same thing, only their view of morality and yours aren’t coinciding on this point. They aren’t trying to forcibly make the world Catholic, they are standing up against what they percieve as immorality.

        • Gategrrl says

          I’d feel better about them “standing up for their morality” if they didn’t have the weight of the entire Catholic church behind them. If they petitioned as private citizens, sure-they can voice their stinky opinions all they want. That’s their right. But using their positions in a huge religious organization *that doesn’t pay taxes* to influence politics is plain old skanky. They should stay out of it.

        • says

          The Church is absolutely fine with Natural Family Planning, a non-contraceptive way to plan when to get pregnant.

          Great. But the Bishops want to make contraceptives harder for poor NON-CATHOLICS to get, too. And we haven’t signed onto their belief system.

          the Church teaches that a woman who will/could die by giving birth can take a treatment that will save her life and as a side effect result in the death of her unborn baby.

          So she CAN use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy? Or she can have an abortion? Or some third option I’m unfamiliar with? I just want to be clear, because I hadn’t heard this before, and it isn’t the understanding Catholic friends of mine have (though perhaps they haven’t been in the position where they needed to investigate it that deeply).

          As far as the Bishops pushing their view of morality on non-Catholics: whether you agree with them or not, in principle, they have a right to stand up against what they perceive as a moral wrong in their country.

          But that moral is not based on any logic. It’s simply “preventing conception=wrong.” There is a logic to the anti-abortion stance: if one views fetuses as living beings, then terminating them certainly does begin to look like killing. But preventing conception? The only view that makes it wrong is that it’s wrong. That’s absolutely fine in religion – it doesn’t have to make logical sense. But it is unacceptable in law, which absolutely DOES need to make sense. That’s why the Bishops are cooking up arguments about how bad BC pills are for women – they know they need to come up with “logic” to take their religious idea into law, and the whole point of my post is that the failed epically at that.

          Also, the example you give is apples to turkeys. Trying to prevent someone from reducing my existing rights? Yes, I have a right to do that. Trying to reduce someone else’s available options and remedies? No, that’s not cool, and that’s what the Bishops are doing. A much better comparison: I get it in my head that antidepressants are immoral, so I cook up allegedly scientific arguments and probably a large infusion of cash to get Congress to write the health care bill NOT to cover antidepressants. Now people who are poor and biochemically depressed are screwed, and I’m patting myself on the back for standing up for my morals.

          No, as Patrick mentioned somewhere around here, it’s the “your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins” principle. The Bishops should focus on Catholics, not the rest of us.

  6. says

    Hands up everyone who thinks a bunch of Bishops’ ideas about women’s bodies and reproduction are relevant in the 21st century?

    ::crickets::

    Yanno, Iceland has an out lesbian Prime Minister. Sorry to say it, but the US is looking kinda 17th century right now.

    Also the Gardasil program had some pretty nifty flaws. For a start, they were only vaccinating women, not men who frequently carry those strains of HPV without symptoms. Many of the cancers that show up from HPV come along in later life. Vaccinations frequently wear off, so the women who are vaccinated early may actually have their immunity to these viruses reduced by lack of exposure and the wearing off effect… Then bingo! None of the blokes they’re sleeping with were ever offered vaccination nor are they targetted with education campaigns to recognise HPV symptoms. It’s a classic case of treating dirty women. Like forcing prostitutes to undergo rigorous testing and never bothering about the johns.

    Blah. The Patriarchy is turning me into a lesbian. It must be damned near impossible for a man living in this culture to really, fully understand his position of privilege or act out against it, if it’s so continuous and all pervasive in media and every other aspect of Anglo life.

      • says

        Heh. Yeah, my doctor (male) was appalled. He actually threw his hands in the air and described it as “The worst vaccination program in the history of vaccination. It’s entirely a political stunt by Howard to get the women’s vote.” John Howard was a notoriously religious, misogynist Prime Minister in Australia, for those who haven’t heard of him.

    • Patrick McGraw says

      It must be damned near impossible for a man living in this culture to really, fully understand his position of privilege or act out against it, if it’s so continuous and all pervasive in media and every other aspect of Anglo life.

      Yes. I’ve been a committed egalitarian for nearly fifteen years, and I still keep discovering more of my invisible privilege.

        • Jules says

          lulz, I got my boyfriend vaccinated too.

          But that does make me wonder, are there going to be boosters offered down the road? Just as you are supposed to get a booster for a tetanus shot every 10 or 15 years or whatever it is.

          However this conversation did put me in mind of something… why am I the only one paying for my birth control options? I buy oral birth control and condom back up. Hmmm, I think there is going to be a discussion down the road. I never thought of it before since I was taking oral BC previously for health reasons, but that it not its main purpose anymore. Preventing pregnancy is not just my prerogative.
          When I start adding up the costs of maintaining a healthy sex life, damn is it ever expensive! Who ever said the ‘best things in life are free’ are very wrong. Aside from the obvious consequences of not taking precautions, but the precautions themselves really add up over time. Crazy!

          • Jules says

            I happened to have a doctor appointment today, and I asked of Gardasil needed to have a booster. The doc said that they are not sure when it will need one, since it has not been on the market that long, but they think it’s 7 to 10 years. He also volunteered before I could ask that they are going vaccinate more males. He said that an equal vaccination system to target our male youth as well as females is coming into effect soon. He seemed very excited about it. So it appears, at least in Canada, that they are going to be doing things right.

            But yes, they target audience of gardisal has been women, but a I said, I had my boyfriend vaccinated, so it’s not like they were turning people away because they are male. But I agree that the ads and information needs to get out that men as well as women should consider this option available to both genders.
            And as for wearing off effects, it seems that it is something they are at least aware of and boosters will be available. So it doesn’t seem like it is that flawed to me, so long as they keep up with everything.

            • says

              That’s promising. I have this terrible feeling it will never take in the States. Maybe someday Pakistan will send our kids carepacks with Gardasil shots they can give themselves. /dry humor

  7. Rose says

    @ Miss Gradenko: “the Church teaches that a woman who will/could die by giving birth can take a treatment that will save her life and as a side effect result in the death of her unborn baby. ”

    You mean treatments other than abortion that will result in fetal death? I did find this quote: “The Catholic Church forbids abortion in all circumstances and allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus. ” (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/05/15/20100515phoenix-catholic-nun-abortion.html). Otherwise, the Catholic church has shown clearly that they do not approve of abortion even to save the mother’s life:

    https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126985072

    To quote, the tagline of that story is “A nun at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix has been excommunicated for allowing an abortion to be performed on a woman who doctors say would otherwise have died.”

    Honestly, I think it’s hypocritical. If you aren’t going to allow life-saving abortions, why are you allowing other life-saving, but pregnancy terminating, treatments?

    On a completely different note, in addition to the aforementioned PCOS and endometriosis, I have another non-sexual reason for going on oral BC: my periods are excruciatingly painful, and the BC helps. I also used to have severe mood swings and outbreaks of crying and extreme fatigue. The symptoms aren’t gone, but they are definitely lessened by the use of oral BC. I once was admitted to our student health center on an emergency appointment just because of the pain, where they administered a shot of strong painkillers and prescribed that I take 4 ibuprofen at a time (twice the normal dose). Granted, the problem isn’t gone, but it’s stop interfering with my life so much. And you know what happened just recently? The price of my birth control WITH insurance DOUBLED. It was going to be 40 dollars a month, until I found out about the generic for $20 (which is what I was already paying). I’m a college student, and my single mother isn’t exactly rich. I have to have THIS birth control — I’ve tried others with disastrous results. And the generic, while it’s supposed to be exactly the same, isn’t — some things are better, some are worse. So, because they don’t like women having control over their sexuality, the Catholic Church is going to take away my access to PREVENTATIVE medical care? Great, thanks ever so.

  8. says

    Rose,

    *nods* They’re definitely making another statement that I guess most of the public fails to catch: the lives of babies are more valuable than the lives of mothers. Really? Is that a Jesus-approved idea, that one person’s life is worth more than another’s? What if the mother in question already has kids – do those kids get a say in whether they’d prefer to keep their mother or gain a sibling? What if they’re in a position to try again to have another baby, but only if the mother lives?

    Nope. The mother should die, and the father – well, women are plug and play. He wasn’t supposed to really love her or anything. At the funeral, he should meet several eligible women, and just pick one to mother his semi-orphaned kids. Jesus would’ve wanted it this way.

    That, apparently, is what the Catholic church is saying. You can’t find another rational interpretation. They value a baby’s life over a mother’s. And why?

  9. says

    Jennifer Kesler: They value a baby’s life over a mother’s.

    This reminded me of a powerful part in one of the Discworld novels. (Can’t remember which, unfortunately.) Granny Weatherwax is assisting in a farmwife’s labor, and it’s obvious she has to choose between the mother’s life and the baby’s. She chooses the mother. Another character criticizes her; how could she let an innocent babe die? She responds that for the farmer to have a baby but no one to care for it, he won’t be able to work as well and it’s likely the child would starve to death anyway. But with an adult, there is more potential and more options, and the couple can try again later.

    Granted most of us on the internet have the privilege of not starving to death if we lose our jobs. But I think the point is still valid that for all we romanticize the potential of our next generation, in the here and now an adult is far more valuable to a household than a child. I see class privilege in valuing the baby first, “Oh just hire a nanny,” that ignores the reality for many of us in the working and even up to the middle classes, losing a parent would severely strain finances and quality of life.

    (Ideally all lives would be equal, of course, but I haven’t figured out to bring about Utopia yet.)

  10. MaggieCat says

    Are you talking about the scene at the beginning of Carpe Jugulum? When the midwife starts to go ask the husband whether he wants Granny Weatherwax to try and save the baby or the mother and Granny stops her? That’s the only one I can remember at the moment, although it might be because I love Granny’s reasoning: “You don’t like him? You think he’s a bad man?” “No!” “Then what’s he ever done to me, that I should hurt him so?”

    Another favorite Weatherwax quote from CJ seems applicable here: There are worse crimes, “but they starts with thinking about people as things…”

  11. says

    Sylvia Sybil: I see class privilege in valuing the baby first, “Oh just hire a nanny,” that ignores the reality for many of us in the working and even up to the middle classes, losing a parent would severely strain finances and quality of life.

    It’s not JUST class privilege, though. Rural poor men have historically been expected to find another wife to raise their kids, and quick. And since patriarchy kept women dependent on husbands, there was always someone around desperate enough for the job. So the idea really is that a widowed father should just marry somebody already, and get on with things. That opportunity exists in every class of a patriarchal society.

    And the reason it’s naive at best and evil-minded at worst is that it’s not that easy to find someone who will really be good to someone else’s kids. There are plenty of people out there who are happy to be the best step-parents they can be, but their overlap with your personal available pool of possibly new spouses can be awfully thin. Stability is good for kids. Losing a mother and gaining a baby to care for is very destabilizing.

  12. says

    MaggieCat,

    Yes, that’s the one. The scene I’m thinking of comes a bit after that one, I think.

    Jennifer Kesler,

    True. But I still think that is class privilege because if you have wealth you can take your time with the new marriage. Your kids aren’t going to starve for lack of food or hurt themselves while being unsupervised. But if you’re poor, you have to hurry up and remarry because either you’re taking time off work or the kids aren’t being cared for properly.

    In other words, both upper and lower classes need women’s labor (though neither is likely to value domestic work enough), but the upper class can afford to go without because they have the option of farming it out to the lower class, probably the female half of the lower class. So the upper class is more likely to ignore the reality of how much an adult contributes to and is necessary for the family’s stability.

  13. Cheryl says

    The Bible does not say a wife cannot deny her husband sex. There is a verse that says if a married couple doesn’t have sex, it should be my mutual consent and only for a short time, which could be seen as saying a wife can’t refuse her husband if he wants to have sex when she doesn’t, but considering that elsewhere it says the husband is to love his wife like Christ loved the Church (refers to believers as a whole, not any particular denomination), and Christ chose to die to redeem humans from their sins, a husband forcing his wife to do something she does not want to do is not Biblical.

    The idea that sex is only for reproduction is something the Roman Catholic church came up with, because I’ve never seen any verse in the Bible that says anything like that and I’ve heard several Protestant pastors say sex is a wonderful thing we’re meant to enjoy. Oh, and if we’re not supposed to enjoy it, why does getting turned on feel so bloody fabulous and why do women have a clitoris?

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