What is the Obama Administration’s “Free Contraception for All” mandate really about?
It’s not, as so many others have ably pointed out, about women’s health.
Contraception has long been free (or almost free) for the asking to all comers, and you could fill an insurance adjuster’s logbook for a month dealing with all the other far more essential procedures and drugs for which women are still shelling out big bucks.
And while it’s certainly an attack on religious liberty, there are plenty of other avenues of attack the Administration could have launched. So why this particular one? Why did President Obama and Secretary Sebelius determine this was the ditch to die in?
I think, one of the comments left a little while back in my quick little housekeeping post, “For the Ladies,” inadvertently gives the answer. Or at least part of the answer.
This was the comment:
“Here’s some great choices for the unmarried Catholic woman, in my opinion: scientist, professor, attorney, etc. etc. Getting married and having children is just one choice and it may not even be the best choice. Don’t follow your physical, primitive urges. Follow your ideological urges. Those urges will take you where you’ll find the most joy.”
It’s was a busy week last week, so I didn’t have time to respond to that comment. But I wanted to respond. It deserved a response. Partly because no matter how well-intentioned such remarks may be, to many a Catholic single woman, them’s fightin’ words. Most of us already have careers thank you very much, and we don’t find them adequate substitutes for a spouse and children. Likewise, we resent having our prayerfully discerned desires for marriage and motherhood dismissed as mere biological urges.
More importantly, however, that comment deserved a response because the author of the comment echoed the lie at the heart of the fight—the lie that Planned Parenthood and their ilk will move heaven and earth to propagate and the very reason the Obama Administration has gone to the mattresses to convince people that the right to free contraception trumps religious freedom.
That lie? That motherhood is a mere choice, and a choice primarily motivated by “physical primitive urges” at that.
Before I go any further, to be fair, let’s first acknowledge what is right about the comment.
To start with, it’s great if Catholic women, married or unmarried, want to become scientists, professors, attorneys, etc. Three cheers for intelligent women doing the work God calls them to do. Likewise, all women should carefully and prayerfully discern the primary vocation to which they believe they’re called. Three cheers for women who heroically answer the call to consecrated life and wed themselves to Jesus.
But (and this is such a big “but” that I’m tempted to use all caps), answering a call to the consecrated life does not mean a woman is opting out on motherhood. She’s not. Motherhood is never merely a biological choice, something women can do or not do, like going to college or taking a vacation to France. Rather, motherhood is a call written on each and every woman’s heart. It’s also a call that has to be answered—always in spirit, sometimes in body—if we ever want to become the women God made us to be.
Here’s the deal. As Catholics we believe that the body expresses the person. As such, a woman’s physical body, which is designed to bear, nourish, and nurture life, is a sign of a soul that is called to do the same. The physical design speaks to the spiritual call, to the need for women to cultivate our interior disposition to love everyone and everything with a mother’s love, tending to the lost, the wounded, and the forgotten, while nourishing and nurturing all who cross our path with wisdom, compassion, and attention.
Motherhood truly is women’s genius. Motherhood is women’s call. And our broken, battered, bleeding world needs us ever so desperately to answer that call. It’s crying out for us. It’s longing for women, all women, to be who we’re called to be and to show the culture the face of God as only women can.
And that is what Planned Parenthood and its fellow travelers have set themselves dead against.
They don’t want women to understand the truth about our nature. They don’t want us to think of our fertility as the physical expression of a spiritual reality, an integral part of who we are, and a sign of who we’re called to be. Whether they know it or not, they don’t want us to be women at all.
What they do want is for us to think of our fertility as a problem to be managed and motherhood (as the commenter framed it) as a primitive biological urge inferior to higher ideological “urges” like being a doctor or a lawyer. Again, they want us to think of it as a choice, not as a divine task to be taken up by every woman according to her vocation and state in life. That’s why they’re all for the government or employers picking up the tab on the medical costs associated with preventing pregnancy, but not the medical costs associated with facilitating pregnancy.
Not to go all Rick Santorum on you, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that for almost 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been in bed with the devil. It has sought to destroy entire races. It has slaughtered the innocent. And it has relentlessly peddled a twisted ideology calculated to destroy the feminine genius, helping lead countless women down a path of self-destruction, a path where they are used, abused, and discarded like yesterday’s trash.
It hasn’t brought freedom. It hasn’t liberated women. It has enslaved them. And it’s done so wearing the mask of a benevolent health care provider.
It’s time we called a spade a spade: The Obama “Free Contraceptives for All” mandate isn’t about promoting women’s health. It’s just one more attempt in a long line of similar attempts to drive a wedge between women and the call to motherhood, to further confuse us about who we are and who we’re called to be, wounding the world by warping the feminine heart.
The truth is, it’s Eden all over again. Only this time, it’s synthetic hormones being dangled before us instead of some ruby red fruit.
Emily Stimpson is a freelance Catholic writer and a Contributing Editor to “Our Sunday Visitor.” In her new book, “The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years,” she dishes on the Church’s teachings about women, marriage, sex, work, suffering, and more.