I laughed the first time I heard Rick Santorum discuss the “dangers of contraception” and his reassured explanation of “how things are supposed to be.” It actually didn’t seem real, to honestly believe that condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control are licenses for “sexual libertines” to destroy family values. He said it as if evil prevails in a world where prevention remains a widely accepted scientific fact.
It’s this kind of nonsense that allows people like Michele Bachmann to make conspiracy theories out of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations.
But Santorum is hardly alone. In an effort mounted last year by Speaker of the House John Boehner and reinforced by Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the Republicans threatened to — I kid you not — shut down the federal government if it continued to fund Planned Parenthood services, including birth control and pap smears.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that Romney supported Roe v. Wade and asked for the endorsement of Planned Parenthood during his Massachusetts election.
Santorum may have extreme views, but I’m less concerned with his platform than by what it reveals about the other candidates, who admittedly disagree with Santorum by citing state’s rights and Fourth Amendment protections. Even so, Romney, Gingrich and libertarian candidate Ron Paul have all signed personhood amendments that would effectively criminalize many forms of popular birth control and invalidate the landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut.
It does not appear our country will cut basic health care services to those in need. In fact, a recent decision from the Obama administration is requiring Catholic universities to cover birth control on insurance plans … if only these schools would prescribe said birth control. Unfortunately, without the prescription, many are left to pay out-of-pocket or risk health complications.
The problem is, birth control is also used to significantly prevent and treat potentially life-threatening diseases, including ovarian cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Yet there are still reported instances of students having their ovaries surgically removed because they simply couldn’t access the pill.
Instead of apologizing for their contribution to what is arguably malpractice, one Georgetown University spokeswoman said it will “evaluate the new regulations, ever mindful of our Catholic and Jesuit identity and mission.” In other words, nothing has changed.
Does this seem like the mission of a school concerned with the well-being and interests of its students? These are the same institutions training our future medical professionals in a philosophy that’s somehow held to a different standard of moral culpability, an exception merely out of convenience.
To be fair, the church is clearly not opposed to healthy and happy lives; it’s just that the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities doesn’t consider pregnancy a health issue.
“Preventative services should be limited to preventing disease, not pregnancy … we think [pregnancy] is a gift of love of two people and our creator.” Because no one prays for STDs, but you know, we should all be thankful for dumpster babies and a global trend of overpopulation.
Senior Catholic officials would argue that an applicant could always leave if they disagree with the university’s policies. And if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, don’t bother challenging the decision. Just leave your state.
Christianity and the not-so-mutually-exclusive Republicans seem to think ideology comes before public health. Ultimately, we shouldn’t have to agree about whether abortion is right or wrong. But at least pro-choice advocates understand that lifestyle and morality are circumstantial questions. Conservatives don’t seem to acknowledge the inherent conflict of denying people their right to privacy and medical attention, even though their personal choices are not infringed upon.
Don’t be fooled, these proposals are shades of theocracy. We wouldn’t be a first-world nation without readily available contraception.