Advicereality check

Reality Check

I feel compelled to respond to your column in the FagPole [sic] issue of Apr. 4, 2012. In this issue you gave advice to “Not Daddy,†a man who was emotionally attached to the child of an ex, who seems to have had the child out of wedlock with a previous lover. Given the existing circumstances, I think your advice was sound.

Then, you went on to discuss the controversy over the Health & Human Services (HHS) regulations which will require the Catholic Church to pay for contraception for its employees. You mischaracterize the issue when you said we are “…arguing that women should not have access to birth control.†This is a false and misleading statement of the issue. No one has argued that people should be prevented from obtaining contraception.

In your discourse, you said that this is a “fake argument.†Amazingly, you are right! But, not for the reasons that you state in your editorial. The left, to defend its unconscionable attack on people of faith, has publicized a notion that the church is attempting to prevent women (no mention of men) from having access to these drugs, devices and procedures. The church considers these practices to be sinful, and we do not want to facilitate sinful behaviors, by being forced to pay for them.

The Catholic Church considers contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs (required under HHS) to be a sin. As the largest church in Christendom, the position of my church on the issue of contraception is well established. My church objects to being required by federal law to pay for these drugs and services. It is a blatant violation of the Constitution for the government to force a church to commit a sin, which is exactly what the HHS regulations require.

I suspect that you were prompted to write, in what you believed to be the defense of contraception, because you were moved by the tragic story of the innocent child being victimized by the adults in the “Not Daddy†story. Those who hold promiscuity to be a “harmless†lifestyle choice should be shaken by the plight of this child, who is so desperately seeking to have a father in his life. This child will grow to manhood with unresolved issues that will negatively impact him, possibly, to the day he dies.

It is clear that you feel that contraception is the remedy to this problem. Obviously, many people agree with your position. You are welcome to your secular belief. But, are you so intolerant, that you would deny me the right to ascribe to the notion that people should be committed to each other and married before they bring children into the world? I hope not. And, if you agree that I (and my church) have a right to believe in these things, how can an intellectually honest person feel justified in forcing me to pay for the contraception, sterilization and abortions of others?

R.E. Thornton—a Catholic, not an official of the church

Well, RET, I am relieved that you approve of my advice, but I am curious as to what makes you assume that the child in question was born out of wedlock? The word “ex†applies to spouses as well as lovers. Oh, right—but that wouldn’t play into your “If everybody would just stay a virgin until they get married and never practice birth control, then everything would be swell forever and ever†narrative, would it? As I sit here and try not to read too much into your misspelling of “Flagpole,†I have to wonder what makes you think that this letter and my remarks about the birth control debate are in any way related? Also, I wasn’t talking specifically about the Catholic Church. There are all kinds of groups (hello, State of Arizona!) trying to limit access to birth control. But, since you brought it up…

Your letter is full of emotion and almost completely lacking in facts. First, no one is forcing the church to pay for anything. The insurance companies would be paying for these drugs and services. Next, not covering birth control is much the same as preventing access to it for many women. It is often prohibitively expensive. I understand that you have no idea what you’re talking about in this regard, since you obviously haven’t a clue how much they cost. Also, you do understand that it is medicine, don’t you? Because like so many people who are shouting so loudly about this, you seem to have no concept of the fact that many women use it for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. You point out, for some reason, that I make “no mention of men†having access to birth control drugs. Another fake argument! Fake because there are no birth control drugs for men. If there were I assume that they would be covered without question, just like Viagra. Also, I have news for you: insurance companies covering birth control does not “facilitate†sex between adults. What it does is prevent unwanted pregnancies and/or abortions as a result of that sex.

Next you bring up the Constitution, and I ask you this: Is something necessarily protected under the 1st Amendment religious clauses just because the church states it? Does this mean that a Catholic hospital could decide, against federal regulation, not to treat a dying patient with a gunshot wound in the emergency room, if the Pope declares that getting shot is a sin? And speaking of sin, how many American Catholic families have 11 to 15 kids these days? Few, if any, do. While just a generation or two ago, it was quite common. What does this tell you about Catholics? They are using birth control. Most modern Catholics use birth control, no matter what the Pope says. No one is “forcing†the church to commit a sin. Providing health insurance for your employees isn’t anywhere in the bible, much less on the list of the Seven Deadlies. And contrary to what you are arguing, the church itself would actually be exempt from the HHS regulations.

In the following paragraph, you once again bizarrely imply that my mention of the issue somehow had something to do with the letter, and again you make assertions about the situation described in that letter based on your own interpretation. A woman need not be promiscuous to get pregnant, and having a child after marriage does not guarantee the happiness of the child or the future of the relationship. These are exactly the kind of dangerous and wrong-headed assertions that land young women in bad circumstances every day. Before you make any further assumptions about me, by the way, many members of my family and a lot of my closest friends are Catholic. I am quite familiar with the doctrine and I’m also aware that most followers of the faith choose to quietly ignore the more archaic and frankly unrealistic proclamations of the Pope. You can quit trying to brand me the ‘Angry Lefty Religion Hater” that I am sure you would prefer me to be. Again, the HHS regulations do not require the church to pay for anything. The burden is on the insurance companies. I don’t deny you the right to ascribe to whatever notion you please. What I do deny is your (or anyone else’s) right to legislate your morality and deny adult women the right to basic health services. And finally, if you want to lecture me about intellectual honesty, then I have to ask you this: Did you complain this loudly to your church leaders when they used your money to cover for pedophile priests and pay off their victims?