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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 14, 2017
'We are separating ourselves from our bodies'
A new survey detailing the extent of casual sex among singles shows many are having intimate relations before the first date, a development that can be blamed in part on technology but leads to tremendous regret and permanently damaged relationships.
This week, the dating service Match released a new survey on sex and singles conducted by Research Now. Included in the data are the revelations that 34 percent of singles have had sex before a first date and that millennials are 48 percent more likely to have sex before a first date than all other generations of singles in order “to see if there is a connection.”
In a USA Today story on the survey, sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson suggests millennials have inverted the relationship process, using sex to determine if they want to pursue anything further with that person.
“We used to think of sex as you crossed the line now, you are in an intimate zone. But now sex is almost a given, and it’s not the intimate part. The intimate part is getting to know someone and going on a date,” Anderson is quoted as saying.
Ruth Institute Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse says the discrepancy between millennials and other singles is that the older ones know better.
“The reason older generations are not [having sex before a first date] is because they have figured out already from experience that this is not a good idea,” Morse told WND and Radio America. “What we’re doing is just one generation of young people after another are having to figure out for themselves that hopping into bed with somebody is a lot more complicated and potentially hurtful than we’re led to believe by the media and stories like this one.”
Morse also said smartphone apps for the explicit purpose of casual sex are contributing to the trend.
“It’s a new thing when you have dating apps or casual sex apps on your cell phone and you can find out if there’s somebody close by who wants to have sex with you. That’s a new thing,” she said.
“The desire to be sexually active has been with us forever obviously, but this way of going about it and the way the culture is pushing people toward sex without any kind of intimacy or friendship, that is something new and, I think, uniquely destructive,” Morse said.
“What we’re trying to do is get away from this message of airbrushing away all the problems and allowing people space and time to say here’s what really happened. ‘Here’s how I really felt after casual sex. Here’s the next step after the first time you have that kind of encounter and then you get kind of swept away in it and are having one encounter after another and they’re not really satisfying you. Here’s where that leads,'” stated Morse.
She said her work shows that personal stories resonate best with young people.
“I think millennials particularly want to hear stories. They don’t care for data. All these numbers aren’t going to touch them one bit,” Morse said. “But if someone who is 35 years old stands in front of them and says, ‘This is how my heart was broken by doing what you’re standing there thinking about doing,’ they just might listen to that.”
Perhaps worst of all, Morse said, is the long-term damage casual sex inflicts on future efforts at meaningful relationships.
“The results of sex are bonding and babies. That’s the natural biological result of sex, bonding and babies,” Morse said. “If people don’t know how to bond with one another, they’re going to have trouble creating lasting, stable relationships for when they do finally want to have babies. Then they’re not going to be ready to really care for their children and give the children the kind of security and attachment that they need.”
She said the impact of poor bonding is also is also felt by the children.
“The kind of damage that’s going to happen to children of people who can’t form relationships is really hard to predict just how bad that can be,” Morse said. “Honestly, I don’t see a floor under this elevator. We’re still going down.”
Posted on: Monday, September 12, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on September 12, 2016.
Those of us who live in prosperous countries may not realize the full impact of the contraceptive ideology around the world.
You know the ideology I mean: everyone old enough to give meaningful consent is entitled to unlimited sex without a live baby showing up. We tend to think governments should allow people to obtain any form of contraception they want. We don’t realize that governments around the world, including and especially our own US government, have done far more than that. They have actively promoted contraception and even forced people to limit their childbearing.
As a devout Catholic, I believe the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life and the sacredness of the sexual act are good, humane and true. For holding these beliefs, I am accustomed to being a public punching bag (metaphorically of course). I am undaunted.
Pope Paul VI was prophetic in 1968 when he restated what had always been the ancient teaching of all the Christian churches. His landmark encyclical, Humanae Vitae, was correct.
In paragraph 17 of Humanae Vitae, called Consequences of Artificial Methods, Blessed Pope Paul (he was beatified by Pope Francis after the Synod on the Family in 2014,) makes a series of predictions. All of them have come to pass.
We have indeed seen an “increase in marital infidelity” and a “general lowering of moral standards.” Who can deny that we have obliterated the incentives for “young people to avoid temptation?” or that men have “lost their reverence for women?”
But it is Paul VI’s analysis of the misuse of governmental power that is truly prophetic.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
I have often wondered how this seemingly far-fetched thought occurred to Blessed Pope Paul. Perhaps a meeting with John D. Rockefeller III in 1965 had something to do with it.
John D. Rockefeller III was an avid proponent of population control. He worked hard to neutralize the opposition of the Catholic Church throughout the 1960’s. He cultivated relationships with faculty and staff at Notre Dame, even sponsoring conferences there. His friend, Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh, arranged the papal audience in July of 1965.
Rockefeller was perhaps accustomed to religious leaders swooning over his wealth and power. (Metaphorically, of course.) We don’t really know what took place at this meeting. But we do know from a letter Rockefeller wrote that he volunteered advice to the pontiff for his upcoming encyclical (which became Humanae Vitae) and that he gushed about the need for population control. I can imagine the Holy Father, cultured European gentleman that he was, being shocked by the presumption of this brash, rich American. Perhaps it was this very meeting that persuaded Paul VI of the danger of morally sanctioned birth control in the hands of people like Rockefeller, and the governments they might be able to influence.
In any case, look at how correct Paul VI proved to be about the dangers of government’s imposing their will to override people’s genuine reproductive rights.
The Obama administration spent an estimated $23 million illegally lobbying Kenyan lawmakers and bribing opinion makers to legalize abortion in their country—and succeeded. The current president of the Philippines has proposed a “Three Child Policy,” in a country that has experienced amazing increases in prosperity and living conditions without any such policy. The Catholic Bishops of Africa have spoken out against these new forms of ideological colonialism. A Nigerian bishop has claimed that the US refused to help them fight Boko Haram, unless the Nigerians accept U.S. policies on birth control.
And China’s One Child Policy: what can one say? The Chinese Birth Control Police is arguably the largest law enforcement organization in the world with 1.2 million “cadres” and about 500,000 professional bureaucrats. Make no mistake: the One Child Policy has not gone away, just because the People in Power have decreed that some people get to have 2 children instead of 1. People still need Birth Permits. Pregnant women are still dragged off the streets and forcibly aborted. Couples with an “illegal child” may have their homes destroyed.
Oh heck, just watch this four minute video and see what I mean.
Hideous ideas have hidden behind the widespread social approval of contraception. Religious figures still allow themselves to be used by the rich and powerful of the world. George Soros tried to influence the media coverage around Pope Francis’ visit to the US, by dumping money into Catholic front groups. Even now, a group of dissenting Catholics are planning to present a “new” report on the ethics of using contraception at a UN-hosted meeting on September 20. Their goal: “to encourage the Catholic hierarchy to reverse her stance against so called “artificial” contraceptives.”
And where are the feminists while women are being forcibly aborted and sterilized? AWOL. And what about the libertarians? What do these freedom-loving people have to say about governments requiring permits, for the most personal of human rights, having a child? Crickets. The Catholic Church is the only major institution in the world offering even token resistance.
That is why I am proud to be a Catholic, not in spite of her teachings on the sanctity of human life and the sexual act, but because of them
Posted on: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.
Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.
The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!
To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.
Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.
I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.
Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)
At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.
(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)
The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?
You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”
At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.
This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.
Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.
Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.
That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.
Posted on: Wednesday, June 22, 2016
By Brandon Showalter
A new study shows that providing free condoms to teenagers worsens the problem it purports to solve. The finding is unsurprising given that the programs are "propaganda for the Sexual Revolution," Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse says.
In an extensive working paper entitled "The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs," University of Notre Dame researchers Kasey Buckle and Daniel Hungerman chart the effectiveness of distributing condoms to young students in order to curb teen pregnancy and reduce rates of sexually transmitted diseases. Their results reveal that both teen pregnancy and STD rates increased with the presence of such condom distribution efforts.
As noted in a June 15 Vox article about the study, the push to make condoms more accessible in school districts was largely in response to the alarming AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. Such a push appears to have backfired.
The Notre Dame researchers focused on school condom distribution programs, some of which required counseling of some kind and other programs that did not. For those programs that required no counseling, they found a 10% rise in teen births and a notable increase in gonorrhea in women, an additional 2.43 cases per 1,000 women.
Writing at National Review, scholar Dr. Michael New hailed the study as an addition to the "impressive body of research which shows that efforts to encourage contraceptive use either through mandates, subsidies, or distribution are ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst."
Other scholars suggest a much more nefarious agenda is operating here.
In an interview with the Christian Post, author and Ruth Institute founder Dr. Morse said that she is not surprised at all that school-based sex-ed programs are ineffective or yield unintended consequences, adding that such programs amount to "government-funded propaganda for the Sexual Revolution."
The government's deliberate strategy is to "get the kids hooked on sex before they are old enough to have mature judgment," said Morse. They intentionally "convince them that self-command is impossible, and possibly unhealthy" and young people thereby "become participants in and supporters of the Sexual Revolution."
With condoms readily available, Vox's Sarah Kliff acknowledged in her piece that indeed "[i]t's possible that teens did engage in riskier behavior" but was quick to point out the effectiveness of birth control pills and wrote that the research paper is unable to answer why pregnancy rates rose in places where condoms were given out.
But as it also turns out, even as STDs rates continue to rise teenagers are forgoing contraception. And communities now tend to prefer sex education models that do not promote contraception.
An article in last month's Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed data from the Center for Disease Control's National Survey of Family Growth. The data showed that fewer communities are comfortable with the type of federally funded sex-ed programs, such as the Obama administration's Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, that normalize teen sex, demonstrate use of contraception, and make usage of contraceptives attractive.
The CDC data also revealed that despite such efforts even sexually active teens are not using contraception.
According to the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, since Obama's TPP program began, sexually active teens, especially 12th graders, are demonstrably less interested in using contraceptives.
Additional findings in the CDC's survey portend good news for what is known as Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education, a model that promotes abstinence. To the surprise of some, approximately 60% of teenagers are waiting for sex, the highest percentage to date.
In a June 20 press release from ASCEND, a DC-based abstinence advocacy group, founder and CEO Valerie Huber said, "The research continues to reveal that the TPP program, while well intentioned, is not effective, and appears to actually increase risk for vulnerable teens."
"Taxpayer dollars would be better spent on SRA programs, which give youth the skills and information to avoid all sexual risk. The new
data in the CDC's YRBS report discloses that the SRA approach resonates with an increasing number of teens, and it is uniquely able
to help sexually active youth return to a place of health," Huber said.
Posted on: Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted at The Blaze on June 1, 2016.
The image from the Huffington Post staff meeting created an immediate backlash for editor Liz Heron’s rhetorical question: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?”
Unlike many of the internet commentators, I am not interested in the ethnic diversity or ideological hypocrisy of the Huffington Post. All these editors appear to be twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings at most, with the possible exception of Heron herself. To me, this photo illustrates the most poignant sociological fact of our time: Delayed child-bearing is the price of entry into the professional classes.
Look at these eager young faces. These young ladies have high hopes for their lives.
An editors’ meeting at Huffington Post. Editor Liz Heron tweeted: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?” (Twitter)
They believe that by landing this great job, they are set. Once they are established in their careers, then and only then, can they think seriously about marriage and motherhood. They do not realize that they are giving themselves over to careers during their peak fertility years, with the expectation that somehow, someday, they can “have it all.”
They are being sold a cynical lie.
Here is the bargain we professional women have been making: “We want to participate in higher education and the professions. As the price of doing so, we agree to chemically neuter ourselves during our peak child-bearing years with various types of birth control. Then, when we are finally financially and socially ready for motherhood, we agree to subject ourselves to invasive, degrading and possibly dangerous fertility treatments.”
I am no longer willing to accept this bargain. These arrangements are not pro-woman. They are simply anti-fertility. Any woman who wants to be a mother, including giving birth to her own children, taking care of her own children, and loving their father, needs a better way. Until now, we have been adapting our bodies to the university and the market. I say, we should respect our bodies enough to demand that the university and the market adapt to us and our bodies.
We cannot expect much help from establishment publications like Huff Po, establishment institutions like the Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, and certainly not from the government.
Huffington Post is a consistent cheerleader for the sexual revolution. They have a whole page devoted to divorce. They have a regular Friday feature called “Blended Family Friday,” in which “we spotlight a stepfamily to learn how they’ve worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!” And they are enlisting twenty-somethings to sell their propaganda.
I wonder how many of the young ladies seated at that Huff Po editors meeting have ever heard of abortion regret or considered the topic worthy of their attention? I wonder how many of them believe that hooking up is harmless, as long as you use a condom. I wonder how many of them have ever heard that hormonal contraception – especially implants and vaginal rings – increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
I wonder if any of them wish for a guy who would dote on them, and act like he really truly cares. I wonder if they have ever chided themselves for being too clingy when a relationship ended, without realizing that bonding to your sex partner is perfectly normal.
I wonder how many of them realize how unlikely childbirth after 40 really is? A recent study of IVF in Australia looked at the chance of a live birth for initiated cycles. Don’t look at the bogus “pregnancy rate:” IVF pregnancies are 4-5 times more likely to end in stillbirth. And don’t be taken in by the “pregnancy per embryo transfer.” Plenty of women initiate cycles but do not successfully make it to the embryo transfer stage.
The average Australian woman aged 41-42 years old had a 5.8 percent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle. And women over 45 have a 1.1 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle — which is almost a 99 percent chance of failure every time.
Yes, Huffington Post is an opinion-making and opinion-leading organization. And yes, it is not right for a bunch of white, privileged childless
twenty-something women to be having such an outsized influence on public opinion. But for now, let’s give a thought to these young ladies themselves.
They are being sold a bill of goods. It is up to us, as adults, to warn them.
Posted on: Monday, June 20, 2016
Suuprize, Suuprize, Suuprize!
A recent study (behind a paywall) looked at schools that gave out condoms vs schools that did not. Lo and behold. Giving out condoms, without any counseling, was associated with an increase in teen pregnancy. Vox, that bastion of social conservatism reports. (And no, I don't think that is literally what kind of condoms they gave out. However, I do think that is what the kids see.)
Posted on: Monday, June 20, 2016
For those who may not remember, Gomer Pyle, USMC was a sitcom featuring Jim Nabors as a dumb but loveable Marine private. One of his most famous lines was "Suuprize, Suuprize, Suuprize." He would utter these words when he was about to do something to irritate the Sargent or say something obvious.
I've decided to use this phrase when I encounter a study that tells us something obvious that we should have known all along.
Today's edition comes from my friend Valerie Huber of the Ascend organization, which among other things, "represents and equips the Sexual Risk Avoidance field."
She put together a press release showing that the Obama Administration's favorite Sex Ed program is not working:
No Suuprizes here!
Sex ed is government-funded propaganda for the Sexual Revolution. Get the kids hooked on sex before they are old enough to have mature judgment. Convince them that self-command is impossible, and possibly unhealthy. The kids become participants in and supporters of the Sexual Revolution.
Parents of school-aged kids: get them out of sex-ed programs. Grandparents, get yourselves organized to get these programs out of the schools in your community.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 31, 2016
A new metastudy shows increased risks of preterm birth for mothers who have previously had an abortion.
A meta-analysis of 36 international studies involving more than one million women has concluded that abortions are associated with “significantly higher risk” of subsequent premature births, and underweight babies.
Prematurity is, in turn, associated with far greater risk of cerebral palsy and other conditions.
Brent Rooney of British Columbia’s Reduce Preterm Risk Coalition said, “In May 2016 abortion-preemie denial became impossible.”
The study appears in this month’s American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, (behind a paywall) authored by Dr. Gabrielle Saccone and her research associates. It showed that a prior abortion or miscarriage was associated with a 52 percent increased risk of prematurity and also of greater risk of lower gestational and birth weights.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Religious freedom will be the principle legal issue. As worthy as that cause is, I propose another, equally significant issue that someone should raise.
The United States government has committed itself to dangerous drugs and an utterly irrational ideology.
Let me explain.
Not long ago, I met David and Roz Rowan, a couple whose only child died suddenly at the age of 23 from a massive pulmonary embolism. Why would a healthy young woman die from a stroke? Doctors attribute it directly to her use of hormonal contraception.
Likewise, Erika Langhart died of a double pulmonary embolism, at the age of 24. She was using a NuvaRing, contraceptive device. The Langhart family refused an out of court settlement from the drug manufacturer. The parents wanted Merck, the international pharmaceutical giant, to face a jury trial, and be held accountable for the deaths of women like Erika. Out of court settlements typically include a gag rule. Erika’s family considered this completely unacceptable.
“In our opinion, Merck got away with murder, and continues to do so to this day. In 2011 NuvaRing made the company $623 million; in 2013 it was $686 million; and in 2014, after the settlement, Merck made a staggering $723 million from it. Settlements are just the cost of doing business to Merck, all at the expense of women’s health and lives,” her mother said.
Earlier this year, Erika’s mother committed suicide.
In the meantime, across the pond, German drugmaker Bayer AG paid nearly $1.6 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits involving accusations that its Yaz and Yazmin birth control pills caused blood clots that led to strokes and heart attacks.
In short, there is plenty of evidence that hormonal contraception poses serious health risks to young women.
But the U.S. government operates under the completely irrational ideology that a good society ought to separate sex from procreation. This is the philosophy behind requiring every employer in America to provide these dangerous drugs and devices to their workers without a copay. The government considers preventing pregnancy a “preventive care” measure.
But pregnancy is neither an illness or injury. Pregnancy is a perfectly normal process. Pregnancy is not something to be avoided at all costs, including the use of dangerous drugs or devices.
What exactly is the objective of the government embracing this ideology? Reducing the birth rate “by any means necessary?” Making men and women “equal” by chemically sterilizing women? Making women sexually available to men at any time during their monthly cycles? Providing a steady stream of women workers who do not inconvenience their employers with ill-timed pregnancies?
I’m having trouble coming up with a good reason to force every employer in America to provide these products to healthy women at zero cost, under the guise of “preventive health care.”
Personal “freedom” cannot be the whole issue either. The use of contraception has been legal nationwide since 1965. But making contraception legally available was never enough for the true believers in sexual freedom, women’s “liberation” and population control.
From the beginning, they have sought to nudge people’s choices toward artificial birth control. These ideologues have captured the levers of state power. The government manipulates people’s private choices in this most intimate area. They subsidize contraception, promote it in their public schools. Now the all-powerful state is manipulating the insurance market.
These true believers will not allow any hold-outs to their irrational dogma. Hence, the persecution of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a completely inoffensive group of women, who have dedicated their lives to serving the elderly poor.
I categorically reject the idea that pregnancy is an illness.
I protest with all my might the government’s policy of pushing dangerous drugs on unsuspecting women.
I am fed up with drug companies treating the risks to women’s health as an acceptable cost of doing business.
I sincerely hope one of the lawyers or friends of the court, or SOMEONE will make these points. The Sisters deserve to win, and not just to preserve religious freedom. The Little Sisters of the Poor deserve to win because they are correct on the substance of the issue. No more War on Women’s Fertility.
Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. is Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization, dedicated to creating a Christ-like solution to family breakdown. Visit at Ruth Institute or on Facebook.
Sister helping the bedridden: http://www.mercatornet.com/sheila_liaugminas/view/little_sisters_of_the_poor_and_obamacares_contraceptive_mandate/13396
Sisters pushing wheelchair: http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?cat=1016
Posted on: Monday, March 07, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was originally published at Crisis Magazine on March 4, 2016.
Pope Francis’ latest press interview on the plane from Mexico created confusion about the Church’s teaching on contraception. The Holy Father said, “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.” The Papal spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, trying to clarify matters, seemed to say that women in areas affected by Zika are in a “case of emergency or gravity,” and so are allowed to “discern” whether to use a contraceptive.
The process of “discernment” Fr. Lombardi seems to be suggesting, does not really make sense on its own terms. Let me explain.
Just this past weekend, I met David and Roz Rowan, a couple whose only child died suddenly at the age of 23 from a Massive Pulmonary Embolism. Why would a healthy young woman die from a stroke? Doctors attribute it directly to her use of hormonal contraception. The parents have set up a foundation in her honor, to do research on the link between contraception and Massive Pulmonary Embolisms.
Likewise, Erika Langhart died of a double pulmonary embolism, at the age of 24. She was using a NuvaRing, contraceptive device. This family refused an out of court settlement from the drug manufacturer. The parents wanted Merck, the international pharmaceutical giant, to face a jury trial, and be held accountable for the deaths of women like Erika. As her mother said,
In our opinion, Merck got away with murder, and continues to do so to this day. In 2011 NuvaRing made the company $623m; in 2013 it was $686m; and in 2014, after the settlement, Merck made a staggering $723m from it. Settlements are just the cost of doing business to Merck, all at the expense of women’s health and lives.
Earlier this year, Erika’s mother committed suicide.
How could Erika have predicted her own death, the nightmare her parents would endure on her behalf, the callous behavior of government agencies and drug companies, and ultimately, her mother’s suicide?
The calculating approach raises more questions than it answers. How many levels of consequences are we morally required to consider in our discernment process in a “serious case of conscience?” Is it ever morally permissible for a perfectly healthy woman to ingest a drug that has some discernible probability of causing her harm?
Are we required to take into account the very real possibility of our own premature death due to strokes or heart attacks? How about a drug that doubles our risk of glaucoma? Or a drug that increases our chances of cancer? Is it morally permissible to use a contraceptive drug or device that has some probability of acting as an abortifacient? Doesn’t this balancing act have to include all of the possible contingent outcomes? I don’t see why a probability of giving birth to a child with a birth defect is the only possible consideration.
Would it not have been better for young women to hear the full story about the truth and beauty of the Church’s authentic teaching? Sex belongs inside marriage. Each and every sexual act should be open to new life, so that the unitive and the procreative aspects of the conjugal act exist together and reinforce each other.
Children have a right to the love and care of their own mother and father. Reserving sex for marriage only, means that adults are preparing themselves to be parents together. They make a lifelong commitment to each other, before their child is even born. This is a great and beautiful good. Anything less is an injustice for the child.
Contraception upsets all this. It misleads us into thinking that we can do whatever we want, and somehow, everything will be ok. That is the way economists think: laissez-faire freedom is the best for everyone, all the time. But no matter what a person might think about the economy, it is surely not true that we can do whatever we want sexually, and everything will work out.
Shouldn’t all these second- and third-order consequences and systemic consequences also be considered?
My training is in economics and statistics, not moral theology. I am a “revert:” that is, a cradle Catholic who came back to the faith after an extended lapse. When I came back to the Church, I became persuaded that in the end, all these probabilities and possible outcomes cannot be fully weighed. People like Germain Grisez and Russell Hittinger and Robert P. George and J. Budziszewski convinced me to reject consequentialist moral theories as being non-serious.
This was a big step for me, because economists in the English-speaking world have a very strong tendency to be consequentialists. We get our utilitarianism from John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham and similar people.
I have spent the years since returning to the Church in 1988 purging my mind of all traces of utilitarianism, proportionalism and consequentialism. I am much happier without all that, I must say. I am most reluctant to dust off my old moral calculator and begin measuring and weighing and balancing all over again.
Calculating costs and benefits is what the drug company does. Why should we, as Catholics, join them?
Editor’s note: In the image above, Pope Francis is pictured with Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi during an in-flight press conference in 2014. (Photo credit: CNS photo)
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