Tag archives: Contraceptives

Conscience, Convenience or Misguided Conviction?

by Sherry Crater

November 1, 2013

Commuting and working in Washington, D.C. affords many opportunities to engage in lively conversations with people who hold diverse opinions on controversial issues. With religious liberty currently being a hot topic, a recent discussion on First Amendment rights and religious expression turned into an instructive session for a group of adult men and women.

The conversation began with a recounting of the case of a New Mexico photographer who was fined $7000 for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment” ceremony due to her deeply held religious beliefs. The discussion then turned to the provision in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) which mandates that businesses and organizations provide contraceptives, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization procedures in their insurance plans.

Against this backdrop, the question was posed, “If you are the only pharmacist in a community and you don’t believe in the use of contraceptives, do you have an obligation to distribute contraceptives to the community regardless of your personal beliefs?” The consensus of the group, with a couple of exceptions including me, was yes; the pharmacist should comply and distribute the contraceptives for the “common good” of the community. One gentleman asked why the individuals seeking contraceptives could not simply travel to the next town to purchase them. A young woman responded, “It isn’t fair that I should be inconvenienced in getting my contraceptives.“

Her response raises a couple of important thoughts. First, why should the pharmacist have to violate his or her conscience for the convenience of others who can easily obtain abortion- inducing drugs or contraceptives elsewhere? The purchaser probably would not have to go far to obtain them, as access to contraceptives is certainly not a problem. Birth control and emergency contraceptives are available at grocery stores, every major retailer like Wal-Mart and Target, or online. Why does the purchaser’s convenience trump the pharmacist’s conscience?

Second, the assumption was made that the pharmacist would just be willing to acquiesce to the law, discard his or her moral convictions and distribute the objectionable pharmaceuticals. This assumption underestimates the strength and sacred nature of religious or moral convictions. A person with deeply held religious beliefs may very well choose to find another profession or move to another community rather than violate their conscience about such high priority personal matters. In such a case, the attempt to force the pharmacist to dispense the contraceptives against his or her will ends with the pharmacist taking their business to another community, thus leaving the original community potentially without a pharmacist at all.

Many well-intentioned but misguided people could benefit by better understanding the ramifications of limiting the freedom of people to live out their religious beliefs. Perhaps what seems best for one individual’s notion of the “common good” might have unfortunate consequences for many other members of the community. Americans have recognized since our founding the fundamental right of all citizens to free expression of religion and exercise of conscience as inherent, unalienable rights granted to us by God and secured and protected by the Constitution.

A Cost Reduction Plan for Unplanned Pregnancies

by Sharon Barrett

October 25, 2012

One of the most unfortunate trends in our day is Politics Posing as Medical Science, as MARRI director Dr. Pat Fagan points out in a post on the MARRI blog. Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, helped author a study on the effects of birth control that was released just in advance of the presidential election. The study, titled Preventing Unintended Pregnancies by Providing No-Cost Contraception, was designed to promote the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods (intrauterine devices [IUDs] and implants) and provide contraception at no cost to a large cohort of participants in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies in our region.

In other words, the Peipert study tries to suggest that the HHS contraceptive mandate is beneficial to society because, in the words of an NBC News report, offering women free birth control can reduce unplanned pregnancies and send the abortion rate spiraling downward.

Dr. Fagan explains, however, that it is impossible to draw this conclusion from the Peipert study. First, the studys methodology is flawed. The authors did not use a control group, exaggerated the statistical effect of LARCs on the abortion rate, and tracked data that were not generalizable to a larger population over the long term (for example, they only reported on abortions and births, not on public health outcomes like STDs).

Second, by concentrating only on abortions and unplanned births, the study ignores the whole life cycle of women. As Dr. Fagan explains, as social science has tracked the consequences of contraceptive use for the long-term marital, family, parenting, and sexual habits of the women involved, negative outcomes have been found to be typical.

My prediction is that young women who use these methods…will have many more sexual partners, behavior that itself increases the likelihood of procuring an abortion. The program will also have high STD effects, likely have very significant effects on future marital stability, and in turn have significantly weakening effects on these womens future childrens life outcomes.

According to the NBC article, experts, including Peipert, point out that no-cost contraception saves money. In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute calculated that unplanned pregnancies cost the United States $11 billion each year. Princeton University professor of economics James Trussell argues that using LARCs to reduce unplanned pregnancies will cut other, invisible costs as well for instance, by reducing the economic burden borne by on single teen mothers.

The best cost reduction plan, however, is not to flood the market with free birth control, but to encourage women and men who are sexually active to do so in the context of committed marriage. Not only is the married intact family our best insurance of economic prosperity, but growing up in an intact household reduces the likelihood of negative outcomes throughout a womans life including abortion and unplanned pregnancy.

Melinda Gates and ‘No Controversy’

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2012

The Gates Foundation recently established a web site, No Controversy, whose purpose is to establish the idea that contraceptive use and the idea of the right to contraceptive use is completely noncontroversial. The sites home page is covered in testimonials:

The life in a metropolitan city can be at times very hectic and uncertain. In the midst of work related and personal projects, a long term relationship can be the decisive factor in balancing out your life. An unplanned pregnancy is for my generation a disruptive element in ones development. I am grateful for contraceptives and consider them one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. @Vlad G. (Austria)

I remember myself saying at age 16: I’ll get a child with 35 or maybe not at all, but not earlier. Till about 32 I did not want to have children at all. The feeling was, they would ruin my life and steal my youth. Until then I could travel the world, experience everything I loved to do and attend school & university. When I was 33 I met my partner, with 35 my son was born. He’s the sun of my life, my heart, my most precious and now I’m even thinking to get a second one. Contraception is about LOVE, about saying YES I want this lovely child & I’m ready to give birth NOW. @Marijana (Germany)

Becoming pregnant, by this thinking, is not the natural consequence and ultimate purpose of intimacy between two people committed to one another in marriage. Becoming pregnant before you have experienced, seen and learned everything you wish is a disruption, an annoyance, a violation of the perceived right to be physically intimate with anyone, at any time, without consequences. And along the way, somehow, an entire generation has been encouraged to dream of everything everything but marriage and parenthood.

This is not to say that everyone must have or want children. The natural and wise desire to delay childbearing until one is prepared to parent well is not a problem; the problem at hand is that the proposed method of achieving this is not behavior modification, but drugs, whose implications for both mens and womens health are as yet uncertain.

As Tom Hoopes at the National Catholic Register says in his piece, Melinda Gates and the Contraceptive Imperialists, too often those who consider contraception to be the solution for the problems of impoverished nations have no option for those who desire to both have a family and to maintain a basic standard of living.

In other words, the best way to help poor people feed children is to eliminate them in the first place so they wont have to be fed. And the cheapest way to take care of them is to not have to take care of them.

Compare that to a basic Catholic statement about service to the poor, from the Catechism (2439): Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events.

The Church believes that rich nations should increase the availability of resources to the poor. Family planners believe that rich nations should reduce the number of human beings using resources.

If they dont want to read the Catholic Catechism, perhaps the Gates Foundation folks should read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge had exactly their answer to poverty: Decrease the surplus population.

The Ghost of Christmas Present put him in his place: It may be that in the sight of heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor mans child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!

Melinda Gates has focused her efforts on providing women in developing countries with contraception. With the crushing lack of health infrastructure and educational and economic opportunity in the developing world, this is a poor use of funds that directed differently could do great good. The argument that women require contraceptives that may damage their health to control their fertility is false. The argument that suppressing ones fertility artificially as opposed to simply modifying ones behavior is the only way to ensure that girls around the world can realize their potential is false. The needs of women in developing countries vary, but as this response from Human Life International, Facts for Melinda Gates, says surely the funding provided by the Gates Foundation would be better spent on any number of projects: on providing girls with primary and secondary and tertiary education, or on microfinance loans for women with great business ideas, or on building hospitals. There is truly no controversy surrounding such investments. Surely such investments would do more to shrink the opportunity gender gap and create a culture of respect for girls and women around the world.

Should Catholics Have a Conscience?

by Krystle Gabele

November 22, 2011

Recently, Hot Air reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesnt understand why the U.S. Catholic bishops are against requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives, including known abortifacients. She belittles Catholics who object, conscientiously, to paying for or performing services that their church teaches are wrong.

Perhaps she should consider the Catholic Catechism, which says that Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. What could be more good than defending life? And what could be more evil than to disregard it, or denigrate those who seek to uphold it.

Even though the former Speaker is Catholic, she seems to have long forgotten that Catholicism is unequivocal in support of the sanctity of human life, from conception onward. This teaching is discussed throughout the Catechism, and there is even a section regarding the usage of abortifacients, and the Catholic Churchs stance against the use.

The Churchs teaching on this issue has a direct bearing on public policy. It is convenient to say, Im personally against abortion, but dont want to use my personal convictions to make laws. This is sad and silly: Our moral convictions inform our every decision, public or private; if one avers that personhood begins at conception, and believes this deeply, it should affect the way one legislates.

But as my colleagues Cathy Ruse and Rob Schwarzwalder have argued in their recent booklet, The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences, medical science and irreducible logic demonstrate that the embryo is a person and, if a person, deserving of legal protection.

As a Catholic, I am disheartened that Mrs. Pelosi would advocate against the sanctity of human life. God created life, and it is our role to protect the born and unborn. In fact, Mrs. Pelosi should be reminded of a passage in Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

As this passage indicates, God is the Author of life. If that is true, then one of governments most fundamental duties is to protect that which He has declared sacred. It is my hope that Mrs. Pelosi will come to recognize this truth.

Secretary Sebelius to NARAL: Contraceptive Mandate a Victory

by Family Research Council

October 6, 2011

According to the Associated Press, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius spoke at a National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America luncheon in Chicago yesterday. During her remarks, she received much applause when she said that “Republicans want to roll back women’s health gains 50 years.”

Interestingly, the AP reports that the Secretary received an even louder round of applause from the gathered abortion proponents when she discussed the recent interim final rule on women’s preventive service, the “contraceptive mandate.” The mandate is the first roll-out of the health care law passed in March, 2010, and forces employers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives in health plans with no co-pay. However, some drugs and devices that are labeled as contraceptives can cause an abortion to a developing baby. For more information see FRC’s comments here and q and a here.

In her words, “women have suffered discrimination by insurance companies that have considered… birth control a lifestyle choice.” She did not, however, comment on the tens of thousands of negative comments filed last week asking for the government to rescind this unprecedented violation of religious freedom from government coercion.

President Obama was also bragging and joking about the contraceptive mandate this week during a Democratic fundraiser in St. Louis. He, too, was silent on the influx of negative comments related to this mandate. It is sad to see an Administration so proudly hailing a mandate that will violate the consciences of millions of Americans, as well as rob countless developing babies of their inherent right to life.

NYT: Contraceptive Use Increases HIV/AIDS Risk

by Family Research Council

October 4, 2011

The New York Times ran a stunning story yesterday “Contraceptive Use May Double Risk of H.I.V.“, about a new study published today in the Lancet showing that hormonal contraceptive use is strongly correlated with an increased vulnerability to contracting HIV/AIDS.

The study was conducted in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most impacted by HIV/AIDS in the world. Three thousand, seven hundred and ninety serodiscordant couples (one partner is HIV positive and one is not) participated in the longitudinal study running for six years, from 2004-2010. The bottom line? Women who used hormonal contraception had a “two-times increased risk of acquiring HIV.” Additionally, women who were using hormonal contraceptives were significantly more likely to transmit HIV to their partners.

The NYT reports that the World Health Organization is convening a meeting in January to review the latest research about the relationship between hormonal contraceptives and HIV/AIDS vulnerability and review if/how current recommendations require revisions.

For more information click here.

Response to NYT Editorial, Sound Medical Advice

by Family Research Council

July 28, 2011

On July 20th the New York Times published an editorial Sound Medical Advice which despite its name ironically included misinformation about the recent IOM report recommending that contraceptives be covered by all health plans with no co-payment.

The writer states that the report was guided by medical evidence but makes no mention of the dissenting committee member who would not put his name to the recommendations because evaluation for evidence lacked transparency… The process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determination through the lens of advocacy.

Additionally the writer suggested that studies show that cost is a major barrier to regular use of contraceptives when in fact the opposite is the case. The Guttmacher Institute, originally the research arm of Planned Parenthood, a group that stands to benefit enormously from this report, reports that only 12 percent of women not using contraception are doing so because of financial reasons.

Lastly, the writer criticizes groups, such as the FRC, who oppose this mandate but does not delve into the science and rationale behind the opposition: drugs included in this recommendation have modes of action that will not only prevent the creation of life, but also in fact destroy it in its early stages. While this might be an insignificant point to the writer of the editorial, it is of utmost significance to the millions of pro-life Americans who deserve transparency and should not be forced to pay for abortions.