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Modern Issues and Brainless Arguments: The Birth Control Debate
For my job, I regularly read several newspapers from across Pennsylvania. In recent months, I’ve noticed an increasing number of articles that leave a lasting impression in my thoughts. I do not consider myself particularly involved in politics or political discussion, and I certainly do not claim to know more than most. Although I’m quite sure the current level of crassly stated viewpoints in the media are due, in large part, to the approaching election, I am also certain that, to some degree, some people will always flirt with the very edge of reason and civility. It’s amazing to me how, in the current U.S. political atmosphere, I seem to find flaws with most of the opinions I come across, whether liberal or conservative, republican, or democrat. I can’t say I totally agree with any of the current political discourse, except for random bits and pieces of both parties’ philosophies, but all and all, there are very few redeeming qualities to be found on either side. I find that no matter which of the political labels people slap on their foreheads, those labels represent angry or unreasonable viewpoints with no place in civilized, intelligent society. Picture this: On a line graph documenting human emotional and political extremes, there has always and will always be ups and downs. Lately, at least as it is documented in the media, I detect an unmistakable upward trend past eccentric and crazy and upward toward irrational and incomprehensible. I keep waiting for the downturn. The obsession with political labels and fitting within the confines of the standards set by just two opposing political parties produces an environment in which people migrate to the extremes of the right or left, and that mindset leaves little room for compromise and too much room for absurdity. This hub will probably be one of many documenting my frustration with a system that promotes ignorance and a stubborn clinging to personal philosophies regardless of evidence or rationales.
The most obvious annoying subject that has presented itself over and over again in the past few months is birth control. Putting aside my concern about the government mandating what individual businesses provide in the way of insurance coverage and who, ultimately, will end up paying for that coverage, I can’t hate the ideas behind Obama’s mandate. Usually my personal issue with liberal thought is that it seems to promote a disregard for the individual’s responsibility to both himself/herself and others. If people stopped blaming everyone and everything else for their problems, the world would be a more stable place; e.g.…when I spill hot coffee on myself, I think, “wow, am I a klutz,” and not “What was that gas station thinking making hot coffee? Poor innocent me, victimized by that negligent store and this defective cup….” All that said, there are negatives to all schools of thought, and I do consider myself pretty liberal. I digress...
An article published in the January 29, 2012 Beaver County Times documented Bishop David Zubik’s warning that Catholic Charities would be forced to close because leaders in the Catholic community cannot violate their belief system by providing free contraceptives to their employees. Catholic Charities is an organization in Pittsburgh, PA, that provides social services to needy people/families regardless of religious affiliations. Zubik further warns that the 80,000 people receiving help from Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh would suffer because of Obama’s mandate. This unwillingness to compromise on a small issue to help the greater good accentuates what I feel is the main flaw in a lot of religious thought. I cannot understand how any fair and loving God would care more about contraceptives than helping the poor and needy.
Not only do I not understand how a God worth worshipping cares more about condoms and tiny colorful pills in handy pink cases than about hungry children, the ailing elderly, and homeless veterans, but, on a more official note, I have NEVER encountered a passage(s) in the Bible that forbids the use of contraceptives (and I have read most of the Bible). The biblical reference consistently applied to this issue is the always overused, “Be fruitful and multiply.” My rebuttal to that argument is God’s short and simple command that directly follows: “Fill the earth”; Of course, the first two people on earth were instructed to reproduce. If they didn’t perpetuate the human species, then God’s efforts would be wasted; but now, living in a time when the human population has topped 7 billion, is it really necessary for every couple to produce offspring? I think not. This is all working on the assumption that Genesis represents an accurate beginning to human life—a stretch in and of itself. Even if we were all supposed to procreate to please a higher power, the Pope recently contradicted that command when he made it very clear conception can only occur in one acceptable fashion—sex within marriage. All artificial means are strictly forbidden (Trib Review). In other words, the unfortunately overly-fertile married couple who are terrible parents are far more acceptable to God than the wonderful parents that had a child via in vitro fertilization or through a surrogate. What happened to “be fruitful and multiply”? The two rules are completely contradictory, and embody true close-mindedness.
Speaking of multiplying, there is an exceptional amount of unwanted pregnancies and children in the world, and I would think that available, free birth control would at least put a dent in that mammoth of a problem. Access to birth control may even reduce the number of abortions occurring in the United States. I am not minimizing the role that responsibility should play in intimate relations and the conception of a child, but acknowledging the fact that a lot of people are not responsible, I can’t imagine how access to birth control could possibly make the problem worse. Do we really want irresponsible people to raise children they do not want? What kind of life does that lead to for the child? The aim of so many religious groups is to ban abortion, and birth control/Plan B and condoms are widely encouraged precautions against unwanted pregnancies. An aside: According to the Plan B One Step Website, Plan B is a pill that prevents conception after unprotected sex, but DOES NOT affect an existing pregnancy. Therefore, it is in no way the same as an abortion—so that argument is straight from the mouths of the misinformed masses. Abstinence before marriage is not a concept to which most couples are committed, and not all married couples want to have children, so birth control pills, condoms, and Plan B are medically-accepted options to prevent unwanted pregnancies and all the issues that accompany them.
The most disturbing part of the birth control conversation is the ease with which I have heard those opposed to Obama’s mandate refer to birth control users as…let’s just say “promiscuous.” I have encountered many instances of people arguing against the birth control mandate throwing around terms more suited to a women’s correctional institute. All women who choose to use contraceptives are not promiscuous, or even sexually active. Making that assumption is like assuming that all people who own pit-bulls are running dog fights, and all people who wear tie-dye smoke weed. It is a ridiculous assumption, and those who make it are clearly uneducated when it comes to this topic. Over-generalization is for children—not intelligent adults. I have been on birth control since long before I was sexually active. Many women take birth control for health reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Moreover, even if a woman does choose contraceptives to prevent pregnancy resulting from a sexually active lifestyle—be that with one partner or many, that is her choice— one that shows her ability to live a life she wants in a responsible manner. What people do in their bedrooms (or wherever they do it) is not to be scrutinized and judged by the general public.
Obama’s mandate is not a perfect fit for my political philosophy, but that’s only because I am not sure if it’s good in the long run for the federal government to involve itself this deeply in business and insurance practices. My hesitation has nothing to do with the evils of birth control, or this absurd accusation that this policy will in any way significantly affect religion and religiously affiliated businesses. Obama compromised on who is responsible for paying for the contraceptives. Churches and church-run organizations need to compromise, too. Church officials and business owners of all kinds have no business knowing or caring about the sexual lives/identities of their employees, parishioners, associates, etc. Contraceptives cause more good than harm in this overpopulated, economically strained world. It’s all about priorities, and the church’s are flawed.