First of all, nationwide objection to the HHS Contraceptive Mandate is not an attempt to deny or outlaw contraception, as she seems to believe. Rather, it is an effort to protect those who morally object to contraception from being forced to pay for it.
The writer claims that contraception is an “essential part of modern healthcare” (as if its absence leads to illness or death) and thus should be provided for free. Based on this loose definition of “essential”, could not a person argue that cosmetic surgery should also be covered by insurance without co-pay?
With some few exceptions, these treatments and procedures are not life-saving decisions, and therefore most people would agree that individuals should be expected to pay for them. And this is the point; expecting someone to pay for an elective service or product, such as contraception or cosmetic surgery, is not a prohibition on that product or service. Instead it is an affirmation of the product’s value and an incentive for individuals to work toward its acquisition — hallmarks of a free market society.
THIS BEGS the question then, why would a product as seemingly as valuable as contraception in today’s society have to be given away as a covered component of health insurance? Certainly, part of the answer is that we have become a society that regularly expects something for nothing. The other answer, however, and the more significant one I believe, is that women (and the men who love them) realize more and more the real and potential dangers of oral contraception.
For instance, many women were recently surprised to learn that in 2005 the World Health Organization classified the pill as a Group I carcinogen, putting it in the company of formaldehyde, asbestos, and mustard gas. In other words, the pill causes cancer.
Though it has been proven to slightly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, the pill has been found to dramatically increase the risk of breast cancer; by 40 percent for women who take it before their first pregnancy and 70 percent if the pill is used for four or more years before a woman’s first child is born. Aside from the serious increased risk of cancer (reason enough alone to avoid it), the pill also comes with a host of very unattractive side effects that would alarm any discerning patient: nausea, headaches, weight gain, irregular bleeding, mood changes, increased blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
ALSO, as the writer demonstrates by her statement “Contraceptives are not ‘abortive pills,’” it is still not yet household knowledge that oral contraceptives actually can and do cause unintended abortions by making the lining of a woman’s uterus insufficiently prepared for a newly conceived child to implant.
The writer’s concern for the freedom of her fellow women is commendable, but her approach is lacking in both understanding and truth. The consequence is a disappointing setback for a positive feminist movement and an unjust attack on “social conservatives” and Catholics who value women more than the writer will ever know.
Ballard C. Betz is director of Religious Education at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Rome.