A Few More Points on the Birth Control Debate

I apologize for obsessing about this issue, but people continue to piss me off:

1) Sob stories about your polycystic ovarian syndrome or your endometriosis are irrelevant. Sorry, but that’s the truth. The Catholic Church already allows for coverage of contraceptive medications when grave medical need can be demonstrated. As section 15 of Humanae Vitae reads:

On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from — provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)

If Sebelius had said, “We’re going to mandate that all insurance companies cover contraception when it’s being used to treat a defined, grave medical condition,” that would be one thing. But the HHS mandate is a blanket mandate that covers the use of all contraceptive devices and medications no matter their price or the reasons for their use. So once again, what the left is really arguing is that a wholly invented right to a sex life without consequences should trump the First Amendment — and there’s so much that’s wrong with this position that I don’t even know where to begin.

2) You guys hate big corporations, right? So why are you backing a policy that will undeniably benefit the supposedly eeeeeevil pharmaceutical industry? As Peter Schweizer points out in the Daily Beast:

Forget for a minute the religious question and look at who wins big here: Big Pharma. This mandate is not really about condoms or generic versions of “the pill,” which are available free or cheap in lots of places. This is about brand-name birth control drugs and other devices that some consumers swear off because they are too expensive. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requires health-insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage for all “FDA approved contraceptive methods.” It does not insist on generics. And it does not offer any cost containment.

What’s more, the mandate prevents health-insurance companies from having copays or deductibles for the benefit. This is the perfect set up for Big Pharma. Since the drugs will be paid for by a third party (insurance companies, who will pass the cost on to employers and the rest of us), the consumer won’t worry about the price. Expensive brand names will no doubt see demand rise.

And when more people start buying the pricey pills, guess who’s going to make out like a bandit? The CEO of Pfizer, for one.

3) The morality – or immorality – of an action does not depend on the size of your audience. Throwing around words like “prostitute” or “c*nt” when you’re discussing a female opponent is always wrong whether you are Rush Limbaugh (whose listeners number in the millions) or Bill Maher (whose fan base is decidedly limited). If you are trying to rationalize your double-standard with regards to the treatment of politically active women by citing the reach of Limbaugh’s media empire, you are a tool, and I have no respect for you.

And now I’m finished — for today, at least. We’ll see if people continue to behave like idiots tomorrow.

Actually, one last thing: A few years ago, my rheumatologist decided to put me on Humira. At the time, my health insurance did not cover this particular medication, and if I had paid for it out-of-pocket, it would’ve cost me more than $1000 per month. So Mom and I shopped around. We contacted the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Humira and signed up for their Patient Assistance Program. For the next year, I was mailed my biweekly doses free of charge.

Now why am I sharing this story? Because it’s yet another reason why I respond to the complaints regarding the cost of birth control with a distinct lack of sympathy. As with Humira, there are assistance programs out there for people who can’t afford their contraception. If you can’t be arsed to look those up, that’s not my problem.

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Responding to Annoying Liberal Remarks on Facebook, XI – The "Thanks A Lot, Rush" Edition

Over the past few days, a number of decent but ill-informed folks (who are probably capable of being convinced that we are right) have been posting Facebook messages with this general theme:

“Rush Limbaugh has gone crazy! Why are we debating birth control when the economy is in the crapper?”

I agree that the economy should be our first concern, but let’s be clear who actually started this birth control fight. It wasn’t Rush Limbaugh (although I will be criticizing him for other reasons in a moment), and it wasn’t any of the Republican presidential candidates. It was Kathleen Sebelius and the administration’s patsies in the mainstream media. Remember that GOP debate back in January in which George Stephanopoulos’ question on contraception was received by Mitt Romney in particular as a bizarre non sequitur?

Did you see the look on Mitt’s face? Clearly, he hadn’t given the matter any conscious thought. And what he says in the above clip regarding modern-day political realities has been echoed by every other candidate still in the running — including Santorum, the most socially conservative among them and the source of the “state legislatures have a right to ban contraception” argument (which is a Constitutional argument that should be debated on Constitutional grounds, not an indication that Santorum has “outlawing birth control” scratched into his personal presidential to-do list).

Now, I think it’s overly extravagant to claim – as some conservative bloggers have – that Stephanopoulos was consciously laying the groundwork for the HHS announcement a few weeks later. It’s more likely that he was parroting his buddies in the mainstream media (and the left-wing blogosphere), who, after Santorum did so well in Iowa, immediately got busy digging up obscure quotes from 2011 (and earlier) that fit into their pre-determined “Santorum is a crazy theocrat who wants to steal your ladyparts!” narrative. But regardless of what Stephanopoulos’ actual motives were, birth control became an election issue because the media made it an election issue — and then the Obama administration helped it along by telling the Catholic Church that She could not be the Catholic Church.

As a Catholic, I was perfectly happy to keep my rosary off everyone’s ovaries. I was perfectly happy to keep my opposition to contraception limited to the personal and conversational realm (except when it comes to the debate over whether federal and state governments should fund Planned Parenthood, of course). But then Sebelius announced that birth control should henceforth be “free” and that we should reach into the Church’s pocket – and my pocket – to make it “free.” At that point, I and many conservatives like me found ourselves catapulted into “oh, HELL NO” territory. What you do in your own bedroom is none of my business, but don’t ask me – or my Church – to pay for it.

Rush Limbaugh is not some lunatic who just started talking about contraception out of the blue. He didn’t strike first. Instead, he was responding – intemperately – to the Sebelius/Fluke argument, which – as I note above – has been out in the ether for weeks now. But that doesn’t mean that Rush is entirely blameless. It’s not okay to personally attack a female opponent using sexually suggestive language. Moreover, by slamming Sandra Fluke in the way that he did, Rush basically invited the left to place a giant “Kick Me” sign on the GOP’s back. Apology or no, his words will now be used to bully us into submission for many months – or perhaps years – to come. And while I recognize the media’s outrageous hypocrisy on this (see also: the left’s despicable treatment of just about any female conservative), I still expect Rush to be a lot smarter than that.

Be that as it may, I have zero – ZERO – sympathy for Fluke. She’s not some poor wittle naif who got accosted by a nasty old man. She’s my age, first of all — don’t buy the story that she’s 23. Secondly, as the Jammie Wearing Fools have uncovered, she’s a long-time activist who elected to go to Georgetown for the express purpose of challenging the Jesuit university’s refusal to cover contraception in its health plan. In other words, she’s a liar. She didn’t go to Georgetown for “the educational experience.” She went there in the hopes of snagging her fifteen minutes of fame — and Nancy Pelosi was only too happy to oblige her.

If Fluke is mercenary enough to enroll at Georgetown under false pretenses, how can we possibly trust anything else she says? Hell, we already know her math is completely bogus. Generic Ortho Tri-Cyclen is sold for $9 per month at a nearby Target. I also Googled “free condoms Washington DC” and discovered that, like New York City, DC has its own free condom distribution program: the Rubber Revolution. And your standard well-woman gynecological exams? As far as I could tell, the exams are covered by Georgetown’s health plan — as are any birth control meds that are being used to treat genuine medical conditions. So either Fluke pulled her $3000 figure out of her butt, or her friends are using the contraception equivalent of the Lamborghini. And these are supposed to be some of our country’s best and brightest? Have you ladies considered shopping around? I bet there are clinics in your area that would be happy to help. Planned Parenthood, for example, offers reduced fees for those who can demonstrate economic need.

Sandra Fluke is the poster child for a liberal entitlement mentality that has completely run amok. Instead of giving her what she wants, we should tell her to grow the hell up. When a responsible adult realizes that her budget is getting tight, she gives up a few luxuries to make room for the necessities. She doesn’t beg for perfect strangers to give her a handout.

Birth Control Addendum

SABR Matt is absolutely right in his post below: The ready availability of artificial birth control has wrought enormous social harm. And yes — we should resist all attempts to declare this a settled debate. In the long run, it shouldn’t matter that most American women – including, sadly, a lot of poorly catechized Catholics – think birth control is peachy-keen. The truth shouldn’t be made subject to a popular referendum.

In the short term, however, I think we need to be very careful how we deliver our message with respect to the HHS mandate. Above all, we need to make it crystal clear that even if the bishops win this fight and the mandate is rescinded, a woman – yes, even one who works for a Catholic employer – will still be able to get birth control if she wants it. I Googled around the other day and discovered that a standard birth control prescription would even fit into my limited monthly budget. And if I wanted a sterilization or some other longer-term treatment? I’d have to save up for a while, but it would still be doable. Birth control, in short, is hardly as costly as, say, chemotherapy or heart surgery.

The HHS mandate is a solution to a problem that simply doesn’t exist. The Guttmacher Institute – i.e., the research arm for Planned Parenthood – reports that 99% of sexually-active women have used artificial contraception. That figure implies that there’s no access issue when it comes to birth control. Indeed, the very suggestion that women are struggling to get contraception is absolutely ludicrous. For goodness sake, you can get a condom for free if you’re really that strapped for cash! If you swing by the closest family planning clinic – or student health center if you happen to be on campus – the chances are pretty good that you’ll find condoms sitting in a bowl on the front counter in lieu of candy.

Bottom line, there’s no legitimate reason to demand that we Catholics pay for your birth control — and that’s why we are fighting the mandate so implacably. We personally oppose artificial contraception for all of the reasons SABR Matt describes, but our objection to the administration’s policy on this is less about those (wholly logic-grounded) beliefs and more about the completely unneeded federal overreach. We want people to put on their critical thinking caps, take some personal responsibility, and stop acceding to the progressive infantilization of the American populace. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and it’s time people grow up and recognize that reality.

Birth Control? I Think Not.

I’ll begin this little piece with a quote from Playboy chairman Hugh Heffner:

“The Playboy girl reflects the ideals of both genders.  She is pure, virginal, clean, healthy, free of blemishes and happy.  She is not concerned with the uglier parts of humanity. How could she lower herself to such pursuits as the worst of men?”

The full quote can be found with a proper Google search, but this send-off more than tells the story for the modern feminist movement.  Playboy Headquarters is largely run by women today – women so tragically and fully convinced of Hugh Heffner’s status as a feminist crusader for sexual parity that when questioned on the subject by social conservatives, they react as though they are staring at the face of the devil.  I’ll come back to Playboy – the ultimate cultural icon for horny young males and the ultimate symbol for everything that is wrong with the sexual revolution – in a moment.

You’re going to hear a lot about social issues in the media now that Rick Santorum has catapulted to the top of the polls in the 2012 primary race, so I think a careful examination of the FACTS – not the ideals or the ideologies of the desires of American women in search of insurance against the hard choices that life presents – is in order regarding women’s liberation and the sexual revolution.

I”ll start you here:

NRO Reports the Facts Regarding Contraception

This is a much MUCH more complex issue than the common treatment of it by the mainstream media would have you believe.   Here’s an executive summary of the facts presented by Erika Bachiochi and Catherine Pakaluk:

Liberals claim that contraception has freed women from the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and the related consequences (forced or premature marriage, single motherhood, abortion, poverty, forced retirement and the health risks of pregnancy).  In actuality it has done NONE of those things.  Since the advent of the pill, single motherhood has increased by an order of magnitude, premature marriage has been replaced by deadbeat dads, abortion is commonplace and every bit as devastating as it has ever been for the psychiatric health of mothers, and mothers no longer have the option of retiring. They must work AND raise their children, resulting in new consequences such as children who feel abandoned, children who go on to lives of crime and underachievement, and the depressing reality of the ghetto, where generation after generation are born, live and die in endless poverty and despair.  And the fact is, all of the responsibility for stopping pregnancy now shifts to the woman.  If she misses a dose of the pill (oh so easy to do), its effectiveness goes to zero and the man is far more likely to feel no responsibility for the resulting offspring. In fact, he may resent her for her supposed failure and break off their relationship.  All of this is despite thirty years of aggressive sex-education policy in this country designed to emphasize birth control and condom use over all other forms of protection for women and to de-emphasize the emotional and spiritual risks of premarital sex.

The leaders of the sexual revolution do seem to be doing well, however.  It appears that a class of elite women has developed that is immune to the crushing affects of this new “freedom” for the rest of female-kind.  Fascinating how the “creme” always seems to rise even if the coffee is rancid.

Many of my closest friends will respond to these facts with this refrain:

“There are a lot of bastards out there — a lot of guys looking for meaningless sex.  Shouldn’t women know how to protect themselves from this, and shouldn’t they use those protections?  Or are you asking us to turn back the clock and subjugate women to the yoke of marriage and motherhood?”

But this presupposes that men are always going to be this selfish in such large numbers.  The same sexual revolution that brought us the pill and a renewed interest in the female orgasm also brought us a fleet of men for whom society has had very low expectations.  They’re told by the culture that sex is safe now, that it’s just for fun, and that women want it just as badly as they do.  They’re divorced from a long history of religious teaching that focused CORRECTLY on the emotional risks of sex and the man’s responsibility for the outcome of his behavioral choices. 

Social memes are incredibly powerful things.  In twenty years, the average American went fro 82% likely to think homosexuality was immoral to merely 37% likely to say the samke.  In a mere twenty years, the KKK went from a legitimate political power in the South to the laughingstock of American history.  In twenty years, we went from believing that all school children should say the Pledge of Allegiance to believing that even the act of reciting it infringed on the rights of children who wished not to say it.  And in 35 years, we went from 5% of all pregnancies being out of wedlock to 40% (!)., And divorce? Divorce was the end result of roughly 30% of marriages decades ago, but that proportion has now increased to more than 55%.  We can get any result we want (in the gross statistical sense) from our culture.  So why do we want men to be freed from sexual burdens and loosed on unsuspecting women in the name of sexual pleasure-cruising?    Why don’t we want men to behave themselves and take care of women the way they should?

The answer to the problems of the sexual revolution isn’t to go back to the 50’s or to stay the course and hope the pills get better and less fraught with side effects and failure-rates.  The answer is a sex-education revolution that focuses on the emotional, psychological and physical risks of sex – not just on pregnancy and STDs – and lets men know that we expect more from them than to be walking hormone bombs looking for a sperm dumpster.  The emasculation of men must be fought if women are to ever take their rightful place as our societal equals and achieve levels of happiness they haven’t experienced since Eve and the figurative Garden of Eden.

It sure seems to me that the current accepted position for most women in the new order of modern feminism is precisely the position in which Hugh Heffner dreamed she would be forty years ago — minus the purity part.  There’s just one problem: when a bunny gets into trouble, Heffner casts her from his mansions.  What we’ll get if we follow the idealistic view of modern feminists – the one that supposed that if women were identical to men in their liberty to express themselves sexually, they’d be happier with sex – is a world of Playboy bunnies who are lauded for their sexual expression while they’re young and relatively pure (untainted by pregnancy) and then cast aside to be miserable with their options for reproduction and sexuality when they get too old or too altered by pregnancy to appear on a centerfold.  Don’t believe me?  Talk to Ms. October, 1995.

I guarantee you, ladies: I (and Rick Santorum) care far more for your happiness than Nancy Pelosi or Debbie Wasserman-Schultz would have you believe.  We both want you to be happy in the best way possible and we want that happiness to be for LIFE…not just during college or high school or your twenties.

Video Footage from CPAC 2012

This was one of my favorite speeches from day three:

I think McElhinney nails it; environmentalism is definitely a class issue. I have no problem with the Teddy Roosevelt sort of conservationism in which we set aside national parks for the enjoyment of the public and pursue reasonable policies to protect the environment. Really, I don’t think anyone objects to having clean air and clean water. But when people propose that we shut down large swaths of productive farmland in California for the sake of a fish – or that we block the construction of a pipeline that would bring thousands of JOBS to America’s heartland – I do have a problem. At that point, it’s not about “saving the environment.” It’s about exercising your power and screwing over people who, by the way, are probably a lot poorer than you are. Environmentalism, in essence, has morphed into a quasi-religion that our coastal elites have adopted so that they may feel better about themselves and their enormous carbon footprints.

And you know, whenever I re-watch McElhinney’s speech, I always find myself wishing we had a similar warrior on the contraception issue — someone with the cojones to call Obama and Sebelius out for the liars they are. Allowing the Catholic Church her freedom of conscience will not cut off anyone’s access to contraception. Condoms are distributed free of charge in clinics across the nation. Birth control pills are also widely available and extremely affordable. We don’t need insurance companies to make contraception “free” (as if you could actually do such a thing). No — what this is about, once again, is power. It’s about the Obama administration using the authority it was granted through Obamacare to expand the anti-life agenda and fire up its base. It’s reprehensible, it’s unconstitutional, and I’m glad our bishops are fighting back.

(By the way, the clip above was shot by Anang B., whom I met at CPAC and whose You Tube channel is here. I recommend checking out all of his videos, as they provide a good sampling of what went on over the course of the convention.)

After Action Report: The 2012 Mass for Life

So — remember how I ended up on the crypt level last year and had to watch the Mass for Life on a big screen TV? Well, this time around, I did get a seat in the Upper Church, but it was in the very back row. I consequently learned a very valuable lesson: Unless you get there by the noon mass and are able to save a seat in the front section, getting into the Upper Church isn’t really worth the additional time required. You really can’t see anything in the very back because people keep standing and clogging up the aisles to take pictures.

But hey — even though the Mass for Life was strictly an auditory experience for me, I’m still glad I went. Number one, I can’t participate in the March for Life this year because I have to work, so the preliminary mass is the only way I can express my support for the pro-life movement. Number two, Cardinal DiNardo is a very good preacher. I loved his interpretation of the Book of Jonah, for example. He basically declared – hilariously – that Jonah was one of the worst prophets ever (because of his attempts to flee God’s calling), pointed out that Nineveh was a pagan city, and finally proposed that the Book of Jonah was really written as a reminder to the Jews that God’s salvation will eventually be universal. The cardinal then segued rather beautifully into his message to the pro-life movement: Like Jonah, we too go into hostile territory when we come to Washington to push for pro-life policy. Like Jonah, we need to be clear in our message to the greater culture — but we also need to treat our opponents with compassion and never discount the possibility that, like the citizens of Nineveh, they too might one day be converted.

Foremost on Cardinal DiNardo’s mind tonight was the recent HHS announcement regarding the contraception mandate. I haven’t really talked about that here, but I should, because the Obama administration’s decision on this is absolutely outrageous. First of all, what is this nonsense about classifying contraception and sterilization as “preventative health care for women”? What does the birth control pill “prevent,” exactly? Pregnancy? Pregnancy is not a disease. It is not something that requires a cure — and by the way, if you really must avoid it, you can do so by other means. Acne? Cry me a river. I have acne on occasion, but you’ll never hear me complain about it. PMS? Okay, yes — that’s occasionally crippling. I’ll grant that there are some women who take hormonal birth control or are sterilized for grave medical reasons (like endometriosis or uterine cancer), but the Catholic Church allows for that in its principle of “double effect” — and at any rate, there is, to my knowledge, no evidence that a majority of women who use contraception fall into this category. Actually, the reality is very far removed from that Planned Parenthood fantasy, so let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the primary purpose of contraception is anything other than what it is.

Secondly, there’s a little thing in the Constitution called the First Amendment, and its intent was, in part, to protect our freedom of conscience. The Obama Administration has basically told every Catholic hospital in America to provide contraception or else limit their patient pool to practicing Catholics — and there’s no way that said hospitals can possibly accept the latter stricture because, of course, their mission is to serve the entire community. We Catholics are not a tribal people; we don’t just care for our own. Jesus commanded us to bring his mercy to everyone. But as far as Obama and Ms. Sebelius are concerned, the many other services we Catholics offer in our medical centers – which often provide care for the indigent – don’t matter just because we’ve (rightly, in my view) refused to offer artificial birth control. It is a twisted worldview indeed that is willing to sacrifice a large segment of our health care sector on the altar of one particular service that is largely elective. It’s also a deeply unconstitutional worldview that refuses to allow for any diversity of opinion on the matter.

The aforementioned constitutional dimension to the birth control issue was covered by Cardinal DiNardo — and the mostly young audience responded quite enthusiastically. As I was hobbling back to the Metro (the Mass for Life is really hard on someone with rheumatoid arthritis, let me tell you), I heard a huge crowd of teenagers practicing their chants for the march tomorrow. “B. E. Pro-Life!” they shouted. Or: “We love babies – yes, we do! We love babies – how ’bout you?” They were pretty loud — and that’s good, I think. We need that youthful energy to drive our movement.

A Few Links Discussing the General Jackassery of Certain Liberals in re: the Late Gabriel Santorum

First, we have an column from Mark Steyn on the left’s pseudo-compassion:

The Left’s So-Called Empathy
@ the National Review

In 1996, the Santorums were told during the pregnancy that their baby had a fatal birth defect and would not survive more than a few hours outside the womb. So Gabriel was born, his parents bundled him, and held him, and baptized him. And two hours later he died. They decided to take his body back to the home he would never know. Weirdly enough, this crazy weird behavior is in line with the advice of the American Pregnancy Association, which says that “it is important for your family members to spend time with the baby” and “help them come to terms with their loss.”

Would I do it? Dunno. Hope I never have to find out. Many years ago, a friend of mine discovered in the final hours of labor that her child was dead but that she would still have to deliver him. I went round to visit her shortly after, not relishing the prospect but feeling that it was one of those things one was bound to do. I ditched the baby gift I’d bought a few days earlier but kept the flowers and chocolate. My friend had photographs of the dead newborn. What do you say? Oh, he’s got your face?

I was a callow pup in my early twenties, with no paternal instincts and no great empathetic capacity. But I understood that I was in the presence of someone who had undergone a profound and harrowing experience, one which it would be insanely arrogant for those of us not so ill-starred to judge.

There but for the grace of God go I, as we used to say.

Next, we have sympathetic response from a decent liberal, Charles Lane:

Rick Santorum’s baby — and mine
@ the Washington Post

I regret that, unlike the Santorums, who presented the body of their child to their children, we did not show Jonathan’s body to our other son, who was six years old at the time. When I told him what had happened, his first question was, “Well, where is the baby?” I tried to explain what a morgue is, and why the baby went there. It was awkward and unsatisfactory — too abstract. In hindsight, I was not protecting my son from a difficult conversation, I was protecting myself.

I’m not defending Rick Santorum the presidential candidate. From what little I know about him, he seems to have his own issues with moralizing and judging. To the extent he has used his family’s experience to make a point about abortion, I object.

But I am defending the right of the Santorums and all families to grieve an infant’s death in accordance with their personal needs and beliefs. My plea is for a little more respect regarding the way people deal with loss, and a little more maturity about physical contact with the dead. If that puts me in sympathy, for a moment, with this right-wing politician, so be it.

As one of Glenn Reynolds’ readers notes here, people used to prepare their own family members for burial as a matter of routine. Being in close proximity to death, in other words, used to be a fact of life. Now, however, we leave death to the professionals — and I think the result – i.e., the modern tendency to view spending one’s time in the presence of death as “weird” or “gross” – has fundamentally damaged our society on a spiritual level.

The people of earlier generations had a more balanced view of death, I think. Generally speaking, they didn’t rush towards it to escape pain (as our euthanasia enthusiasts are wont to do), nor did they try to avoid reminders of its inevitability through plastic surgery or other youth-defying fads. Moreover, they were more likely to respond appropriately to grief. Why? Because they encountered death on a regular basis and consequently came to terms with its reality.

Personally, I think the Santorums had the right idea. Their children needed to understand what had happened and why it was tragic — and like Charles Lane, I don’t think that understanding would’ve been achieved without the concrete experience bringing the baby home provided.

Alan Colmes – Asshole.

Sorry…but he is.  See this video clip in which he openly mocks Rick Santorum for bringing his terminal newborn home and playing with it for a couple of hours before marking his passing so that the rest of his family could see that, even though he was not destined to survive, he was still a human being.

http://entertainment.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/03/9921507-colmes-slammed-for-mocking-santorums-lost-baby

Scroll down and watch.  And be afraid.  Be very afraid.