Thinking Aloud: The Fight About Birth Control

It seems to me that the GOP is willing to wage a war over the bodies of women because of the complete absence of a sensible economic plan on their part. It’s the election-year “culture war” for 2012. (Next up, gay marriage! So 2008.)

Hey, yo, GOP: solve the economy. (You, too, Dems. And don’t bother engaging with the GOP on the birth control issue. Have better ideas for the economy. That’s going to win the election. Hint: Clintonomics.)

I was glad to see President Obama change tact on the birth control mandate for Catholic institutions. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, politics and religion do not mix well.

People are going to do things with their bodies that other people are not going to agree with. They aren’t going to agree with others’ choices because of religion, aesthetics, moral and ethical reasons that have nothing to do with religion, and just because they find such things distasteful and/or icky.

Too bad. People can’t outlaw all the things that other people do with their bodies. Consensual sex between adults is legal. Artificial birth control is legal. Practicing religion is legal. Having big families, small families, and choosing to remain child-free are all legal. Tattoos are legal. Abortion — despite the fact that many, many people are anti- it — is legal. (Yes, I’m against abortion. I believe in my heart that it is murder. However it is legal.)

As to the Catholic church, and the Council of American Bishops (okay, I don’t know if it’s actually called that): Look, I understand that you are toeing the line regarding artificial birth control and abortion. For the record, I toe the line on those things, too.

However, you gotta work on your delivery. First of all don’t conflate artificial birth control and Plan B medication with abortion. It’s tempting to do, but the science just doesn’t bear you out. Quit doing it.

Second of all, you keep toeing that line, but try to demonstrate compassion and understanding for the Catholic couples who decide to go ahead and use artificial birth control to plan their families. Pray for them if you must. But try not to look like a bunch of paternalistic, condensing, “father knows best” bunch of dunderheads. Pray for every baby to be a wanted baby.

Third: get off Capitol Hill. Just walk away. You don’t want government in your religion? That’s cool. A lot of people, including religious people like me, don’t want religion in their politics. We don’t want a theocracy. A lot of us want a government that defends us, helps us educate our children, provides safe infrastructure, and (speaking for myself) looks out for the little guy/gal (i.e. provides a social safety net). If government leaves you — us! — in peace to practice our religion the way we want to, then I think we should let government do the things it does best, too. (Although, granted, some days I’m not 100% sure what that is.)


Minor asides:

First: Stop throwing around the 98% of Catholic women use BC stat. It’s inaccurate. About 68% of fertile Catholic women between the ages of 15 and 44 choose to use artificial birth control (that’s in the Guttmacher study, if the media had read it better and reported it accurately). Updated to add: Huh. I stand corrected. Thanks, Politifact.

Second: IT’S NOT JUST WOMEN USING BIRTH CONTROL. In best-case scenarios, women and men together in loving committed relationships have talked about their options and made their choices. M’kay? It’s not just a women’s issue. Sex, birth control, parenting, and abortion affect men, too. Updated to add: Men shouldn’t be the only people talking about it on Capitol Hill. *facepalm* Really, Congress?