Abortion and the Debate on Birth Control: Part 2

USA Today recently released an article with statistics showing most people want employers to provide birth control; including Catholics and Evangelicals.  So why is the conservative right fighting it so badly?  Is it a moral issue?  The problem I see with most Christians on this issue is they see the whole thing as black and white.  It’s like everyone is thinking this debate is about whether to provide condoms to promiscuous college students.  Would it really be an issue if it wasn’t a doctrine of the Catholic Church in an election year with two Republican hopefuls who are Catholic?  

Jesus taught his followers to honor the leaders appointed over them and to work within the political framework.  And I respect the Catholic church for doing just that.  And they have every right to.  But have we thought through all of the questions related to this issue and their affects on the church?

What are the consequences of not providing birth control?

Will abortions increase?

How will the church support unplanned pregnancies or unwed mothers?

The issue can’t be looked at as black and white.  By doing so you leave yourself with only 2 options:

1.  Mandating birth control is an infringement on religious freedom and opens the door to government control in other areas.

2.  Religion should have the freedom to apply government policy at it’s own discretion?  With 38000 denominations, that could be interesting.

The issue itself is a moral gray area for Christians, most of whom don’t know how to believe, but are scared of one of the two extreme alternatives above. No one likes the government dictating what they should do in relation to their personal beliefs.  But dragging young, sexually active singles through the mud over it is the wrong approach to defense.

As I mentioned in Abortion and the Debate on Birth Control: part 1 the humanity of this situation gets lost.  Religion is not looking at the bigger picture of how this will impact it’s members.  Members who are sexually active married or not.  We are protecting the walls of the church and forgetting the people who live inside of them.

I don’t know if there’s a sound mind presenting a moderate approach to the situation.  Could employers allow contraceptive coverage and just charge an additional surcharge like many employers are doing for smokers?  What will many large Catholic operated Healthcare facilities do if non-catholic nurses and physicians leave to work at an employer who provides the coverage?

I support both sides, one for religious freedom and the other for healthcare coverage.  What I hope doesn’t get lost are the lives created in the aftermath, and the people drug through the mud in the middle.

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14 thoughts on “Abortion and the Debate on Birth Control: Part 2

  1. Looking at this from outside your country, it’s possible that I see a clearer overview. That I can see the woods not the trees, so to speak. Or maybe not, but here’s my tuppence-worth anyway.

    It’s not a matter of religious freedom. If religious organisations want to not provide cover for birth-control, they are free to do so. However, if they want to use government money, either in the form of grants or subsidies, then they need to abide by government regulations regarding that cover. All they have to do if they object to providing that cover, is stop taking government money.

    The ‘it impinges on our religious freedom’ gambit is merely a way of trying to justify having their government cake and eating it.

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  2. Great stuff. I fear many evangelicals have come to believe that because we have access to the levers of power in America that we should pull them. I wonder if we should. We point out that Paul instructed in 1 Tim. 2 that we should pray for those in authority. That’s right, but what did he tell us to pray? Here it is:
    “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

    We should pray that they would leave us alone so we can quietly change the world by demonstrating holy and godly lives which will draw others into a saving knowledge of the truth.

    Instead, of praying and pursuing exemplary lives we lobby, boycott, and protest. As a result, our lives are indistinguishable from the world except that we alienate them. The CHURCH needs separation from the state so that we won’t be polluted by an idolatrous notion that our citizenship is with America or that our hope is in the political process! Please God, save us from this unholy alliance!

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    • I really like the verse in Timothy and wrote a blog last year based around Romans 13 (submit to authority) around the time of Rick Perry’s Prayer Rally. The blurring of the separation of Church and State worry’s me on a variety of levels. I appreciate the conversation and hope more people will step back to look at where are religiosity lies. With God or Man.

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  3. mmm…well, there is that part of the Gospel where we are not supposed to compromise on the Gospel…we are called to love God, self, and our neighbor, which is not always pretty…i do disagree with you, brother, and hope that you can look more into why the Church teaches this…contraception has not helped the abortion rate go down at all and single motherhood is at an all time high…thank you for the post…God bless…

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    • contraception has not helped the abortion rate go down at all

      Not wanting to seem too argumentative, but I assume you can back this statement up with citations from peer reviewed studies, yes?

      For the effect of contraception on abortion rates to be shown, we’d have to have reliable figures for the number of abortions which took place before contraception was introduced. Given that contraception has been available for much longer than legal abortion in any country I can think of, I’d really like to see your figures, along with a detailed explanation of how the comparison was made. Frankly, I’m dubious.

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    • “Not supposed to compromise on the gospel” and “look more into why the church teaches this” is truly relative, depending on your denomination. I do respect both statements, although I would truly agree with the first more than the second. Even there, the Gospel is open to discussion as well based on interpretation. If you view the gospel as “the good news of Jesus Christ”, the basic gospel doesn’t mention anything about homosexuals and abortion, both of which are condemned and those practicing are often ostracized by the church. That in itself is contrary to the redeeming “Love and Grave” preached and lived by Jesus himself. As for contraception and abortion, while I asked a hypothetical question “Will abortions increase”, I apologize if it appeared that I linked the two together as cause and effect. My point was building from part 1 of the discussion in stating that contraception is a spotlight issue while we ignore so many of the other problems within our church related to a broken world focused on sex and pleasure seeking. Your points made later on with you discussion with Daz point us back towards the brokenness of man and the need for God. The argument could be made that contraception was just the crack in the door to sexual promiscuity and the “Sexual freedom revolution” that has led to increased abortion and divorce rates. Again, I appreciate the comments and support. Have a blessed day.

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  4. i think you might have answered this already in your statement…contraception was made more widely available with the “pill” in the 1950’s…i don’t have the abortion rates for that, but in 1970, it was 52 abortions for every 1000 pregnancies, the next year–137 per 1000, the next year 180 per 1000, the next year 196 per 1000 (1973 when it was legalized), the next year 242 per 1000, the next year 272 per 1000, the next year 312 per 1000, the next year 325 per 1000, the next year 347 per 1000…. found in World Almanac(U.S. stats) …unfortunately states like California and a couple of other states stopped allowing people to record the number of abortions they have had since 1997…i would think since contraception was used more widely starting in the 50’s that abortion would not have been the next option, and yet abortions increased still in the 1970’s…i think in the U.S. we are up to about 50 million since contraception came into style…i heard, sorry i don’t have the link, that 40% of pregnancies in NY are aborted now…could it be that contraception began a certain mentality in people that sex was no longer sacred, barring something special from connecting between a man and a woman, so the thirst for the authentic began to increase, but all people could get was something like a drug high? sex is everywhere…and yet people seem to be getting emptier, hungrier, lonelier..for me, paying for people to have sexual highs is the same as paying for people to have a drug induced high…it is not a behavior that is helpful to the health of our society…sex has become an addiction…the acceptable one…marriages are broken, abortion rates have not gone down since as you pointed out contraception came first but was unable to ward off the abortion increase…when sex and the body regain the sacredness that they truly deserve with a mature integration of the whole person, then perhaps the statistics will change…contraception is a band-aid fix…it is putting plastic and poison in the food of conjugal love…a man respecting how the woman’s body works as if they were one person? now that would be awesome…i just don’t think we realize that we are dealing with eternal beings (the man and woman who are connected to the past and the future and…)…if we fail to offer freedom to married connection and future human beings now by not letting them even be born since freedom is enjoyed by the living, then we are not being authentic in our search for freedom today…i am sorry that i do not have a peer-reviewed article, but i will get one if you need me to as long as you have one that is objective with a broad view and honest, too…

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    • “The pill” was not, by a long chalk, the first commonly available contraceptive. It also wasn’t generally available for contraceptive purposes until the 1960s, although it did see some limited use in the USA before that (about ’57 I believe) for relief of menstrual problems.

      The increase in abortion you cite appears to be caused mostly by its legality, not by a sudden rise in promiscuity, plus you make no effort to differentiate between abortions of unwanted pregnancies versus those of health-threatening pregnancies and such. Furthermore, your figure of 40% of all pregnancies in NY being aborted sounds, on the face of it, ludicrous to say the least.

      Again, I’d like to see a detailed analysis that shows not just the figures, but how they were compiled, the methods used to turn the bare figures into statistics and, crucially, by whom. I add the last in view of the fact that you seem to give credence to that 40% figure; I really want to know that the ‘whom’ is unbiased and not working to an agenda, pro or con.

      The latter part of your comment is concerned with your personal view of what’s ‘proper’ and what isn’t, and your assumption, without showing evidence, that ‘promiscuity’ and single-parenting are immoral and harmful to society, in and of themselves. They may be harmful to society as viewed through your moral lens, but not through mine, unless you can show material harm is being done to the people involved. (And please, I’m an atheist—appeals to pronunciations by your god as to what’s moral and what isn’t will pull no weight with me. Sin/immorality is the causing of unnecessary harm, in my book. It has nothing to do with disobedience to a deity. You may disagree, but please be aware that I won’t accept the latter as evidence of the badness of anything.)

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      • Could a case be made that contraception was just the tip of the iceberg for the sexual revolution, which has resulted in many social maladies: increase abortion, increase STD’s, AIDS, teen pregnancy, etc.? While it can’t be seen as the direct cause of abortion, you could point to the fact that an individual uses contraception to freely engage in sex without the repercussions of pregnancy. Therefore, when one feels that contraception has failed them, abortion is the logical response. I’m sorry, I only have a social hypothesis and not verified fact.

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      • I’ll stress that this is my opinion, not necessarily empirical fact… I’ve read letters, sermons and pamphlets going back at least 400 years* complaining that ‘youngsters today’ are more promiscuous, lazier, less respectful and so on than the generation of the writer, and especially the ‘golden age’ generation that grandpappy always talked about. What’s changed, it seems, is not the amount of it that happens, but the amount of it that is publicly acknowledged instead of being whispered about in couched terms and back-fence gossip. Teen pregnancies, for instance, are more noticeable now, not because there’s particularly more of them, but because (a) we have more widespread reporting of such things now (newspapers etc) and (b) there are a lot fewer teens getting rushed into shotgun marriages which then produce an amazing number of 7- or 8-month pregnancies (ahem).

        As anecdotal corroboration, my wife used to work in a nursing home for the elderly, and when the more senile oldsters slipped into rather loose-lipped remembrance of their youth, well let’s just say that a much bigger percentage than you’d imagine managed to dispel much of the impression of a less sexually active time before the sexual revolution.

        *I once borrowed an amazing book of, well basically historical gossip, from the local library. It didn’t cover just what we’ve been talking of, but lots of family feuds, celeb-gossip, how Uncle Harry disgraced himself at Rita’s wedding and so on; all the stuff that still gets gossiped about these days. At the risk of sounding like a book-reviewer, it was both informative and, often, hilarious. I’ll try to remember the title/author, and let you know, if you’re interested, though it was a long time ago I read it, so don’t hold your breath. 🙂

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      • I don’t think I mentioned God in my last reply…I think I just used a basic thought from de Beauvoir that we are connected to those of the past and the future for the realization of freedom from her Ethics of Ambiguity…At the end of this is a link for an article that I just wrote. Please keep in mind that it was written for a Christian audience in hopes that they would start helping single moms instead of condemning them (I am positive there will be stuff that you won’t agree with in there:). Also, you are right that the “pill” was not accepted until the 1960’s. Most families did not use any form before then, except as you said in the quiet. In 1968, the IUD was introduced…I think that any peer-reviewed material I give you at this point would seem biased maybe…I did not mean to offend you…I am sorry if I did…
        http://lamehousewife.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/the-reality-of-singlemotherhood-revised-article/

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      • No, Lamehousewife, it should be me apologising, not you. I get so used to the more fundamentalist Christians, and their insistence on ‘God is the only source of morals’, to the point where I’ve actually been called ‘a rapist in waiting’ (I kid ye not, that’s a direct quote) merely for not believing in gods, that I get a little over-emphatic sometimes about trying to head the conversation away from that before it even starts. Which means, in effect, that I end up tarring all religious people with one brush, even if that wasn’t my intention. So, my apologies to you.

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