Back in the late 90s early 2000s there was a psychotically stupid ad for Ortho Tri Cyclen birth controls pills that featured a woman talking about how in love she was with her husband and how they would live in Paris and have three children. But later, it wasn’t time yet, so. for now, she would keep popping her Ortho Tri Cyclen daily. Around the time Shelby was born, an ad surfaced for Mirena, the IUC, that featured an active family and let you know for five years you didn’t have to worry about your birth control unless your plans changed then, poof, out it comes and you get a baby.
Those ads were in sharp contrast to these more common ads:
At least what I can say is the examples I’ve linked to were not disingenuous. Artificial birth control does not contribute to family values the way the other two seem to imply. (I could not find links to the Mirena or OTC ads.)
When artificial birth control is used in the context of a marriage and family, what it teaches is a false sense of control. It teaches our children to believe that their parents control the universe, not God. That it is okay to choose which members of our family make it to being born and which ones don’t. It teaches adults to believe in a very false sense of security which makes surprise babies unintentionally targets of fear, rage and upset.
And then there are the mothers who march their daughters off at 18 (or 16 or 14) to a gynecologist to get on the pill because, you just don’t know what trouble girls can find themselves in these days. You don’t have to tell me that well-catechized girls who were brought up in the right families with all the proper education and warnings against pre-marital sex won’t make mistakes. It happens. To a lot of young women. However, to assume that these young women were/are falling to the worst case scenario is doing them a great disservice. And certainly does not promote family values.
I remember a family at our parish growing up with several children. They were very open to life with the mother having several mid-wife attended home births and being a La Leche Leader. Not one but two teenage daughters became pregnant. One opted to keep her daughter and eventually marry her daughter’s father. The other gave her son up in an open adoption. This is the example for parents worried about teens (particularly girls, because we all know boys don’t get pregnant!) in those years. Not, let’s prevent those grandchildren from happening before I am ready for them just in case you have a lapse in judgment. But, okay, you had a lapse in judgment, let’s welcome this new member of our family in the way we know best.
And I shudder to think about the young women forced by their parents to be on birth control when that birth control fails. The recent court case brought by a young woman in Texas against her parents who were attempting to force her to have an abortion is a story that is all to real for many young women who are unable to reach out and seek the kind of help this courageous young woman did. My in-laws took in a young woman who was forced by her parents to have an abortion against her will in her early 20s because the child was conceived while she was not only not married but in the process of recovering from alcoholism and drug abuse. Not only did they force their child to undergo this cruel procedure that killed their unborn grandchild against her will, they then threw her out for being upset about it. My inlaws stepped up and offered her a place to stay while she got on her feet and found employment and a place for herself. It was also a safe place where she could continue her journey toward addiction recovery. That was five years ago. So, yeah, this thing happens a lot more than we would like to think.
But if we proclaim we are for family values, why are so many of us (Catholics, conservatives, Republicans etc) demanding on facebook, twitter and in letters to our elected representatives that those seeking welfare be on birth control? Since the birth of Obamacare, I’ve had no less than 15 Catholic (at least professing to be, most live far away so I can’t verify their current credentials), conservative, family value friends declare that not only does one need a drug test to get welfare but to give up ones reproductive rights as well. These same people were decrying the HHS mandate requiring all employers cover birth control and abortions. Let’s be clear on this: getting to tell another family that because they are on welfare means they must be on artificial birth control IS NOT PROMOTING FAMILY VALUES. And because not all of the people on welfare are not Catholic is not an excuse (and yes, I heard it said). Jeff and I lost our jobs while I was pregnant with Will and were on Medicaid and WIC. So, to be clear, as soon as Will was born, we would HAVE to be on some form despite the clear violation of conscience for us personally (which we argue is the reason employers should not be forced to follow the HHS mandate) because we had a bad break in life? We were let go by companies hit hard by the economy, so if I had applied for Medicaid and not been pregnant, it would be okay to tell me, “well, since you’re a burden now, we can’t have you creating anymore burdens now, can we?” I have been in the welfare lines. I know people are abusing the system. I also know that many intact families end up in those lines and it is not okay to force them to violate their consciences or demand they do something like that. Especially if we are arguing that for business owners.
It’s time for those of us who believe in the strength of the family unit and claim to be Catholic, to put our money where our mouths are and say, “No it is never right for any business owner to ever be forced to violate his or her own conscience when it comes to artificial birth control and abortion. And this is also true for each and every member of the human family.” The time has come for us to get off our butts and realize that the lives of the poor, the young, and the disadvantaged are not less important that those of us who have been innumerably blessed. We need to acknowledge that artificial birth control leads down the long slippery slope away from family and towards more sin up-to and including abortion. And if we are called to support our own daughters by educating them on the blessings of chastity and virginity and not pump them full of birth control pills and devices, we must insist that there be other ways rather than asking the poor and disadvantaged to consume mass quantities of hormones through their bodies or implanting dangerous foreign objects. Family values can be taught a lot of ways. Birth control is NOT one of them.