July 22, 2008

"[B]irth control ... messes with God’s will, God’s will to permanently relieve me from cat litter duty. Because God has nothing better to do."

That's Lauren at Feministe, taking a flippant attitude about God and conception. Presumably, that works for her blog's readers as she alerts them to a Bush administration proposal to classify birth control with abortion. (The point of the classification seems to give to health care providers the right to choose not to provide contraception services.)

ADDED: Lauren mocks religion. In her view, it's absurd to imagine God micromanaging the wiggling of sperm cells in fallopian tubes. I get it. But look at it another way. When the Supreme Court preserved abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it stressed "the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy." Justice O'Connor wrote:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Lauren may think it's absurd to imagine a God who involves Himself in conception, but many people do have this idea of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Why is it outrageous for the law to give them room to live by their beliefs?

You could say, they can have their beliefs but if the state wants to force health care providers to give contraception services, then they'll have to give up the business of health care. But that's the sort of harsh reasoning that we see from those who say that if the state wants to ban abortion and contraception, women who don't want to bear children can just refrain from having sex.

Yes, providing health care is a commercial enterprise and having sex is not (except in situations where courts have not identified rights that override legislative policies). More regulation is therefore acceptable. I'm simply trying to explain why someone who doesn't believe that God is involved in conception might support the removal of legal restrictions that burden those who do – in this case, health care providers.

47 comments:

Paddy O. said...

Choosing, or not choosing, to have sex apparently messes with God's will too.

We're telling God when we want him to have a go at our conceiving. Want to mess with God's will? Be really rebellious? Be celibate.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The two forms of birth control mentioned, IUDs and anovulatory pill, are both potentially abortifacient. They are different from barrier methods of birth control [condoms, diaphragms] in that they might not prevent a conception but prevent an implantation. To those who see life beginning at conception, they are indeed abortifacient. It's a reasonable line to draw in the birth control realm.

Bissage said...

I really can’t comment on what was over at Feministe. I tried to make sense of it but it just made a droning, buzzing sound sort of like a bunch of cicadas trapped in a hollow 55 gallon drum.

But I will say that this Lauren person thinks way too much of herself if she thinks anyone or anything wants her to reproduce.

Paddy O. said...

I made the blog faux pas of not clicking the link. Out of choice not to wander over there, so it was an intentional faux pas, I suppose.

If those are the two mentioned then there's a distinction there that can and should be made. Choices that come before the act and choices that come after are two different discussions. Blurring that line seems a little unreasonable. Though, it doesn't make a difference to official Catholic teaching, I suppose.

m00se said...

Why is it that the loudest proponents of birth control and abortion are usually women whom no man would want to sleep with?

TMink said...

In the fight between her and God, my money is on God.

Trey

P. Rich said...

Perhaps some raving feminist organization, of which there are numerous to choose, should just stop messing around and draft legislation making the ownership, public display or utilization of a penis in any [heterosexual] sex act an amputational crime. I'm thinking that would effectively reduce the need for birth control and abortions, while probably increasing the ranks of the gay lobby. Sounds like win-win to me.

The Drill SGT said...

the first para seems to be a double posting

MadisonMan said...

I don't really care if some woman somewhere chooses or doesn't choose to use birth care, or have an abortion. That's their choice. And I don't care if the government -- or their health care provider -- does or does not pay for it.

But damn it, that health care provider better be paying for Viagra. It's every man's god-given right to have a rock-solid erection whenever he wants it, and no tight-fisted bureaucrat can deny that to any red-blooded flag-waving American male. God Bless America!

Meade said...

Speaking of barrier methods, call me old-fashioned but what ever happened to keeping one's pants on? That's what we did back in our high school days. No bodily fluids exchanged, no diseases transmitted, no moral worries.

Best, most memorable sex I can best remember.

m00se said...

But Ann, that's the kicker about "reproductive rights".

A women has the right to be celibate, but the man does not have the right to contest her decision regarding abortion. The key to keeping abortion relevent and legal is to attack anyone questioning any aspect of it.

If rational discourse (or spiritual discourse) interferes, then attack every aspect of person doing the questioning. Or in this case, the very concept of God's involvement with our lives.

"Reproductive rights" are such nebulous rights that they require zealous defense from questioning - thus the ridiculous overreaction to any and all criticism.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Meade: You're old-fashioned!!

Brylcreem...a little dab'll do ya'...

Freder Frederson said...

Why is it outrageous for the law to give them room to live by their beliefs?

Nobody is saying they can't live by their beliefs. But if they want to accept public money then they must provide contraceptive services.

The two forms of birth control mentioned, IUDs and anovulatory pill, are both potentially abortifacient.

Maybe by your, and some pro-life organizations' definition. But not according to accepted medical definitions. So quit redefining birth control methods to meet your, and the Catholic Church's, overly broad definition of abortifacient (or the beginning of "life" for that matter).

Freder Frederson said...

No bodily fluids exchanged, no diseases transmitted, no moral worries.

So no one in your high school got married because "they had to"?

Quayle said...

When I think of God, I think of a being who is capable of creations so astounding and so beautiful that I never tire of looking at them.

Ever look very close and very hard at the bloom of various flowers. Or how about a dogwood tree in spring? The aspects of design and coloring are beyond description. And they mechanically reproduce without our assistance!

So, from that vantage point, I just can't imagine God being the petty, narrow, small minded prude that lots of non-believers and believers put forth.

I can’t see God in the “preachers” of the right that are so greedy and full of themselves or with the angry and impolite “individual rights” militants on the left.

This isn't a pitch for anyone to believe in God. I'm just saying (even hypothetically), *if* there is a God and *if* that God designed and created what we see around us in nature, then certainly that being must be a whole lot more interesting and amazing and attractive than most people conjure up.

And what's even more amazing is that we get to fully participate in the creation right along side by having children. But we aren't good students. We want to be impatient, and controlling, and we want to do it our way.

I think we're missing some beauty when we do that. And that’s probably the worst punishment – missing the beauty and joy.

Richard Fagin said...

Peggy Noonan got it right when she quote a Clinton administration official dealing with federal funding for abortion and contraception: "You don't understand. Fucking is an entitlement."

That belief, separated from any emotional or moral baggage, is the heart of the debate.

Roger J. said...

I agree with Freder's point re public money--take the king's shilling and do the king's business.

Of course, the danger to taking the king's shilling is that the rules can always change later...but the dictum still applies.

(Hillsdale College refuses all public financial aid and does not have to dance to the fed's tune--as far as I know they are unique in that regard; thats the appropriate model for clinics who don't wish to provide contraception)

Paddy O. said...

Beautiful post, Quayle.

Spot on.

What's weird is the odd restrictions of God that takes place on both sides of this argument. *If* God exists, then he's likely not like the bumbling, lusty gods of Greece. Nor is he a tired, old man always having his plans foiled.

He's surely capable of micromanaging in order to get things done that he wants done. Indeed, I think a good deal of God's activity in shaping events takes place on the seemingly random quantum level. A tiny little event a 1000 years ago reverberates to something important now.

At the same time we think that our little efforts are really going to get God's will out of sorts? This conflicts with other parts of theology, the part that says God isn't just in charge, he's wanting relationship. Meaning that if we are really seeking guidance he's going to actually mention to us, through our desires and interests and yearnings, when it's right to have a baby.

On one side there is a god who really is entirely limited, and thus makes for much better mocking. On the other side is a god who is always dependent on our doing everything just right or all his plans get mucked up. Neither god is all that divine.

Neither side really trusts that God is God, though one side is a little more open about that fact.

What's also interesting is that this is precisely the line where Catholics and most Protestants, diverge. Most Protestants I know are okay with contraceptives while firmly against abortions. Makes me wonder what how the different theology affects the reasoning there.

Meade said...

Ruth Anne: That is so me at 1:10!

Freder: Not the ones who followed the Meade All Things In Moderation Method.

sydney said...

"take the king's shilling and do the king's business."

Then I suppose the only alternative for doctors and pharmacists who have a an objection to IUD's and emergency contraception is to not take the King's shilling.

In the U.S., that would mean not accepting Medicare or Medicaid. If there were enough objectors, that would leave poor people and old people without affordable health insurance.

Balfegor said...

But damn it, that health care provider better be paying for Viagra. It's every man's god-given right to have a rock-solid erection whenever he wants it, and no tight-fisted bureaucrat can deny that to any red-blooded flag-waving American male. God Bless America!

I'll admit I don't see why any health care provider would cover Viagra -- I'd think you ought to pay out of your own pocket if you need something like that. But is it really comparable here? I don't think the government is forcing health care providers to supply Viagra if they don't want to. And if the government were they ought to stop.

bearing said...

Always seems that the discussion of legal rights here is quite murky.

Are we talking about the right of a health care provider not to be fired by her employer if the employer -- say, a full-service clinic -- requires that all doctors and nurses prescribe contraception on request if there are no medical contraindications?

Hey, I'm a Catholic who's faithful to the church on sexuality and contraception matters. But I still affirm the legal right of an employer to set the job qualifications, on libertarian principles. If I were in that situation, I'd expect to have to find another job. Such is the cross of Christ.

But... Are we talking instead about, say, refusing to license a physician who opts to open her own no-birth-control, no-abortion medical practice? Because -- again, on libertarian principles -- that would be terribly wrong.

(I know of at least one contraception-free Christian family practice in the Twin Cities area where I live, and the last time I heard about it, it was doing quite well with patients who wanted the kind of care they offered there.)

Roger J. said...

Sydney points out "In the U.S., that would mean not accepting Medicare or Medicaid. If there were enough objectors, that would leave poor people and old people without affordable health insurance."

Exactly so, Sidney and you say that likes its a bad thing--Perhaps the government and its dependents might rethink how the system works--unless, of course, you are happy with the current system.

Robert said...

Silly Ann! That Supreme Court justice was only talking about women's rights to have their own beliefs. People who aren't women who want an abortion don't have any rights. You have to look at the context of Supreme Court reasoning. There are no broad principles, only special pleadings.

dbp said...

Viagra and contraceptives both fall under healthcare services, but they are really opposite. Viagra treats a lack of normal function while contraceptives prevent normal function. Of course the real reason for each is pleasure, so they are the same in that regard.

Skeptical said...

The 'take the king's shilling' line doesn't dispose of any of the questions. Even if we decide that if one takes public money, then one must do the public bidding, we can still argue that the public should not demand that pharmacists dispense birth control against the judgment of their consciences. We know fully well that there could be demands that the public could be inclined to make that would be stupid, pointless, or vindictive.

Smilin' Jack said...

Quayle said...
When I think of God, I think of a being who is capable of creations so astounding and so beautiful that I never tire of looking at them.


Really? Perhaps you should broaden your experience a bit:

I have in my hands the standard manual of human birth defects. Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, fourth edition, by Kenneth Lyons Jones, M.D., professor of pediatrics at UC-San Diego, 1988, is a volume to which, in conscience, I cannot recommend your prolonged attention. In vivid photographs, it depicts many variations in our human array....A chromosome crosses or a segment snaps, in the egg or the sperm, and all sorts of people result. You cannot turn a page in Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation [[ital]] without your heart pounding from simple terror. You cannot brace yourself. Will this peculiar baby live? What do you hope? The writer calls the paragraph describing each defect's effects, treatment, and prognosis "Natural History." Here is a little girl about two years old. She is wearing a dress with a polka-dot collar. The two sides of her face do not meet normally. Her eyes are far apart, and under each one is a nostril. She has no nose at all, only a no-man's-land of featureless flesh and skin, an inch or two wide, that roughly bridges her face's halves. You pray that this grotesque-looking child is mentally deficient as well. But she is not. "Normal intelligence," the text says.

Annie Dillard, "For the Time Being"

TMink said...

"In the U.S., that would mean not accepting Medicare or Medicaid. If there were enough objectors, that would leave poor people and old people without affordable health insurance."

Yep, and that is what we do. I only take Medicaid for kids, not for adults. I told Magellan Behavioral that they can give me a raise or find another psychologist for their patients. Supply, meet demand.

But, there are people who will work for what the govment and Magellan pay. Now most of them are not from around here, and they typically have a thick foreign accent, but if you are stuck with government healthcare, beggars can't be choosers.

As Benjamin Franklin said, the best thing we can do for the poor is make them uncomfortable in their poverty. The children on government paid insurance have no choice in the matter, so I see them. But I almost always tell them how to avoid poverty hoping that they will have more choices and success in their life.

Trey

The Exalted said...

I doubt He has time for this micromanagement, what with picking Orange Bowl winners, every year

Beth said...

So we should be okay with the Scientologist pharmacists and physicians who refuse to prescribe or fill orders for psychiatric drugs. Or the vegetarian who doesn't want to fill insulin prescriptions because it's produced with pig or beef products. Or the Islamic emergency room physician who won't examine women.

Thus far no religion seems to object to the right for a perpetual boner from cradle to grave so I guess we won't be seeing any Viagra prescriptions turned down. No surprise there.

I wonder how many of those who applaud this approach get pissed off at the Islamic cab drivers who refuse passengers who've been drinking or who are carrying alcohol in their luggage. Or who were mad about the salon owner in Britain being fined $12k for refusing to hire an Islamic hair stylist, fearing none of her customers would trust the woman wearing a pup tent to produce a trendy 'do for them. Doesn't this open the door for accommodating Sharia law, since we have to take into account each and every person's perception of God's will in their personal and professional lives.

Pogo said...

The only thing abortive about birth control is that it messes with God’s will... Because God has nothing better to do.

Clinton and the Feministeans do here what every other totalitarian thinker has done in the 20th century, to condemn religion to the point that it becomes not only illegitimate but illegal to practice your faith in the real world.

They wish to leave it only some small place in the future, limited only to thoughts about the soul after death.

But a religion that has no real world application, which does not affect me here and now, in how I treat others, is not a religion but a collection of happy thoughts, or a talisman. Meaningless and dead.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described this process in his book From under the Rubble. He felt the Soviets were extremely effective in eradicating religion in the USSR by this method. The Canadians are following suit. And here he have an example of soft fascism, American style.

Should a Catholic pharmacist running his own store in Oregon be forced to dispense a prescription intended for suicide?
If yes, then this is also meaningless:
"Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Pogo said...

Beth, you're mixing issues.

I would be OK with Islamic refusals to carry passengers with booze if and only if there were alternatives available.

That is sometimes untrue with airports. It is rarely true with pharmacists, except in small towns.

Public accomodation is important. You cannot be the only pharmacist in town and refuse to fill. I understand that. But if you live in Chicago, who cares? Don't go to that pharmacy.

If 90% of the taxis are Islamic, then no, that's not right.

Why must it be all one way or all the other?
Why must the law decide this question instead of the market?


Or the Islamic emergency room physician who won't examine women.
Ha!
He'll have a hard time explaining that to the EMTALA police. Not a question of religion, dude.

Donna B. said...

The birth control pill was originally "conceived" as an aid for women having trouble getting pregnant

It is still used this way today. How strange that a woman trying to conceive might be denied the pill by someone who believes it's bad to prevent pregnancies.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Donna B: And that early pill used to cause life-threatening bloodclots because the dose was 10x too high.

Beth said...

Public accomodation is important. You cannot be the only pharmacist in town and refuse to fill.

Will the Bush classification recognize that? And if it's already part and parcel of the 1st amendment's protection of religious freedom, why bother with this reclassification?

And what is a "feministean"? Jesus. (oops, sorry, Althouse. Didn't mean to mock God. Thank God you're here to keep an eye on that. God has better things to do, no doubt.)

blake said...

Donna B: It is still used this way today. How strange that a woman trying to conceive might be denied the pill by someone who believes it's bad to prevent pregnancies.

Aren't both wrong in the Catholic world view? It seems to me Catholic philosophy places prohibitions on what you can do to get pregnant as well as what you can't do.

I think, e.g., they're against in vitro.

Catholicism is pretty consistent in this regard. Pro-life and also anti-death penalty, etc.

Pogo said...

And what is a "feministean"

A neologism refering to the bloggers at feministe.

Will the Bush classification recognize that?
I'm willing to hash it out. But the way it sits now, no accomodation for religion is allowed. Just pretty thoughts for the weekend; no real life intrusions.

El Presidente said...

Madisonman, Should we pick up the tab for booze and whores too?

El Presidente said...

"You pray that this grotesque-looking child is mentally deficient"

Some things are just so vile that you can't even make fun of them.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Anne Adams said...

Blake: You're right. Catholic teachings prohibit a separation of the procreative from the unitive. Within marriage, there are two reasons for the marital act: procreation and unification. Anytime one separates the two reasons, it is considered a moral wrong. So unifying without being open to life [contraception] is on the same level as wrong as procreating without the unifying act [in vitro, artificial insemination].

Trooper York said...

"Madisonman, Should we pick up the tab for booze and whores too?"

If you do, I am moving to Wisconsin.

Trooper York said...

"Thank God you're here to keep an eye on that. God has better things to do, no doubt."

Yeah, he was busy sending Jeremy Shockey to the Saints before training camp opens. Thank you God.

blake said...

Ruth Anne--thanks for clarifying. It's been a while since I read the catechism, but I was struck how consistent it was in terms of human sexuality.

Beth said...

Trooper, the Giants are better off without him, no doubt.

But Shockey's going to be looking across the huddle at Drew Brees, who's a more mature leader than Eli Manning, so I'm not too worried about him becoming a locker room menace or a showboat. Well, we'll see. Two self-centered showboats on one team is one too many -- his and Reggie Bush's egos might collide and cause a black hole to erupt over the Superdome.

What I can't understand is why we spent two draft picks upgrading an already very good offense when our defense is way down in the hole. Maybe we can make Shockey a cornerback? He's fast downfield, and tall...

Trooper York said...

Hee hee. Good look with that Beth. Shockey is the best argument a Giant fan can make for birth control. Or abortion for that matter. That's why I mentioned him here. What a douche.

Bender said...

I think it is pretty well established (from his later writings if from nothing else) that the High Lord Anthony Kennedy authored the "mystery of human life" passage, not Justice O'Connor. Such full-of-himself nonsense is much more Kennedy than O'Connor.