Tuesday, November 17, 2015

'Little Sisters of the Poor' Need an Education In Artificial Birth Control

It appears the Little Sisters of the Poor - who run nursing homes here in Colorado and elsewhere- have now taken their case to the Supreme Court. What is this case? Evidently the goodly nuns have trouble with providing birth control (under the Obamacare mandate), even to secular employees who are not part of the Vatican's dogma axis and disavow its archaic belief system. So these nuns believe the mandate covers these secular employees as well, and  "forces them to violate their beliefs" to even sign a simple paper that would empower the Sisters' insurer to provide it. Are you kidding me? Seriously?

It seems to me the Little Sisters sorely need an education on the birth control - magisterium based doctrine - for CATHOLICS. In particular, that NO one is violating their cherished beliefs or dogmas if artificial contraception is provided to secular employees not bound to Catholic dogma.. All we are asking is for them to allow these workers to have the same health care benefits of other workers in the public domain.  It's called equal treatment under the law.

Hence, the only thing being “taken away” here is the Church employer’s ability to take away secular employees’ rights to the same standard of health care as all other secular employees’ in the public or private sphere.  The Church, meanwhile, is quite free to morally legislate its own members’ do’s and don’ts to its heart’s content. NO one is taking away that right. 

If the Church sees fit to deny its own members’ as employees access to birth control or the morning after pill, or abortion, then fine. It is well within its purview. But it can’t extrapolate that to secular employees and retain tax-free status as a peculiarly religious institution.  Here's another reason this applies: Unknown to many Catholic purists, many secular hospitals have been taken over by Catholic ones. Their original secular workers (who had benefits under those private secular hospitals ) now see them threatened or removed  because of antiquated Church dogmas invoked after the corporate takeover.

Catholic employers – whether in schools or hospitals or whatever – are quite free to set whatever moral standards they wish for their OWN Church members who are employed in such venues. What they are not free to do is to set those standards for secular employees! Not if they wish to continue to receive  tax-free status from the federal state. As for violating the First and Fifth Amendments, that’s totally preposterous: there is no proscription against freedom of speech – they can spout whatever medieval nonsense that they desire. Nor is there proscription against being a witness against oneself.

One of the ignorant First Amendment arguments usually employed is that: "No one is denying the secular women access to contraception or abortion if they want it, they just don't wish to be forced to pay for drugs that violate their religious beliefs".   

The point is the "drugs" aren't doing that because they're not being used by the Catholic women who are free to follow their own mores.  They're being used by secular workers as part of the coverage promised under the ACA  health insurance plan!  And, moreover, those drugs - such as contraceptives - may well be needed for more than birth prevention (though that ought to be important enough - given too many mouths to feed can tilt a family over to food stamps, welfare).   But as Sandra Fluke noted in her testimony in March last year: e.g. 

Contraceptives can also be used to treat ovarian cysts. If this is not done, the contraceptives denied, then an ovary may need to be surgically removed- and health care costs explode beyond what they would have been.  In addition contraception is critical to limiting severe health problems such as miscarriage or stroke (which could ensue if a woman becomes pregnant).  Moreover, once one uses contraceptives then they must be taken regularly or else they cease to work.

Thus, female employees of the Little Sisters' nursing homes could be in really serious trouble if suddenly denied their contraceptive care.

Meanwhile, the Little Sisters insist they are  not imposing their faith on anyone only trying to do God's holy will and service to others (the infirm elderly in their nursing homes) but don't wish secular laws imposed which make them violate their precepts.

As for the claim of “not imposing their faith on anyone”, I am afraid the Little Sisters need to take a semantics or logic course, preferably both.  If indeed, they’re all about preventing SECULAR employees – say atheists like me – from accessing artificial  birth control- then they are indeed imposing their faith.  Besides - what if the tables were turned? How would Catholic purists and dogmatists react if a Hindu-run corporation took over a Catholic Hospital? Would such a happenstance be called a "forced conversion" or  "violation of religious liberty"? OR - would it be considered a business transaction only? Also, if the newly merged entity produced subsidiary corporations  what religious principles would rightly apply? Catholic blowhards and those like the Little Sisters of the Poor need to think such questions through before they get all sanctimonious on us.

Now, if instead they confined their faux natural law moralism to Catholic employees only, there’d be no objection. “Imposing one’s faith” means taking away rights of secular citizens– based on invoking one’s own imagined religious principles.  In other words, extrapolating their “principles” beyond their proper moral domain to take away the rights of citizens who aren’t part of that domain other than in an employee capacity.

While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at some consequences of these principles which they profess to hold so dear. Biologist Elizabeth A. Daugherty  has asked ('The Lessons of Zoology'. in Contraception and Holiness, p. 110):

"Why do we call secondary the ends of the sexual act which have been accorded in fullness to us, and why do we call primary the end which we share with the lower animals?"

She's referring to the fact that the core of Pius XI's  original encyclical Casti Connubii was that the "sin" of artificial contraception inhered in making primary a sexual aspect that in reality is only "secondary". According to that esteemed pontiff:

"Since therefore the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature."
Which is irredeemable codswallop. As Daugherty notes in her chapter (op. cit.)  what the pontiff and his ilk really sought to do is reduce humans to the state of lower animals, at the behest of their "natural" reproductive cycles. In this sense, unlike the lower animals, humans have the intellectual capacity and sense of novelty to introduce a vast variety of pleasure-play into their sex relations. They aren't yoked to  primitive instincts to simply mount and hump at specific times. As Daugherty notes (pp. 96- 97):

"After ovulation, all mammalian females are under the influence of progesterone from the corpus luteum. This is a period of rapidly declining estrogenic activity which ends the sexual receptivity of the lower mammalian female, whether or not fertilization occurs.

But (in humans) marital relations continue during this progesterone -dominated period before the abrupt onset of menstruation. It is the period of lowest estrogenic activity and the progesterone-dominated period after ovulation which are known as the 'safe period' for marital relations."

This then, is what the Catholics'  “rhythm method” (of  Ogino-Kaus)  seeks to do: establish the "safe period" for a particular woman and then ordain that this is the time to safely have sexual relations if one wishes to not have any kids. The trouble is, it requires meticulous temperature taking at various times during a cycle to establish where that safe period begins and ends, and often this will be for no more than 10 days or so in a given month. Presumably, the couple is quite happy to do without sex the other two thirds of the time!

Thus, the moralizers of the Vatican and their moral accomplices (such as these Little Sisters)  are actually demanding that married couples act UNNATURALLY, since as Daugherty observes (ibid.):

"Humans are free from physiologically determined sexual desires so we possess a more or less permanent sexuality from adolescence to old age."

Indeed! But the Church and its robed minions (and now evidently younger acolytes in colleges)  seek to dictate that despite being sexual or having sexual desires from adolescence until old age, her members are only free to discharge those desires under certain limited times and limited conditions. For example, teens who have such exploding desires on account of their hormones are warned they cannot even masturbate to relieve themselves because those organs are only allowed to morally function in the state of marriage. Then....once married, the couple is informed they may gratify their mutual sexual desires only if they are open to conception....that is, unless they use the rhythm method.  Anyone not see a pattern here?

But once more, my gripe is not so much the Vatican roping  in its own flock’s gonads, but seeking to rope in the gonads of secular employees working at their schools, hospitals etc. (And please don’t anyone tell me “They can get another job!” – NO, not in this low aggregate demand, high unemployment environment. That’s like telling a guy who’s been denied food stamps (and on his last legs)  to go jump off a roof, then he won’t need them!) Besides, would Catholics tell Catholic employees to just "get another job" if their hospital was taken over by Hindu owners? I doubt it!
Julian Pleasants has observed (op. cit., p. 88) the Vatican has always been hostage to:

"Aristotelian modes of thought which tend to fix behaviors within very limited and fixed definitions and categories."

Thus, the Church once believed it "natural" that some men be enslaved because they were “unable to manage their own affairs”  (ibid.)So why be surprised when the same Church seeks to ordain all her members abide by a sexuality more fitting of lower primates?   However, be that as it may, we MUST express surprise (and outrage ) when the Church and its enablers like the Little Sisters seek to impose that same sexuality on secularists. That is simply unacceptable.

The abiding question for me is:  Why have these nuns not been properly educated on the matter of artificial birth control? And while we’re at it, one ought to remind them that the birth control proscription has never been stated ex Cathedra so it’s not infallible. It is proposed under the Magisterium or Teaching Office. As one honest padre once confided to me: "You are free to use your own conscience in this regard, since the teaching isn't binding."

 Perhaps the best solution to the Little Sisters'  moral dilemma is one proposed last week by a Denver Post writer: Hire only physically fit elders for the nursing homes, who no longer have need for birth control. It would solve two problems: provide jobs for seniors who are money tight and may need more, and obviate the need to continue with these court cases.

It's "win - win"!

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