Why Contraception Matters in the Religious Liberty Debate

If the American people re-elect Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion President in the nation’s history and one who is quite willing to trample all over the First Amendment’s prohibition on government taking any action “respecting an establishment of religion,” I hope the nation’s Catholic bishops don’t say a word.

Don’t get me wrong:  I have no intention of trashing our shepherds.  I think the have perhaps the toughest, most difficult job in the nation.

But.  But I think they blew it and blew it badly on the religious liberty issue.

They approached it as a narrow legal issue, involving the First Amendment.

The Obama Administration ignored the First Amendment entirely, and responded that the HHS Mandate was all about contraception and a right to terminate an unwanted medical condition the same was you deal with, say, cancer — by killing the disease.  Except in this case, of course, the “disease” was a baby.

Our bishops imitated Christ before Pilate.  They were silent in response.

And that’s too bad.  They lost an important opportunity to catechize Catholics and to do some outreach to nonbelievers.  They forgot — or, perhaps they never knew — former Sen. Alan Simpson’s famous dictum “a charge unanswered is a charge admitted.”

By not responding vigorously to the HHS Mandate and the Obama Administration’s pro-abortion, pro-contraception argument, they allowed the public to think it really was all about the Church waging a war on women, while the Obama Administration was able to posture itself as protecting a woman’s health — not merely her “right to choose,” but her health.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.  For the church has some really positive arguments, and could have — should have — responded that it was the Obama Administration itself that was waging a war on women.

It was the Obama Administration that wanted to use Federal taxpayer dollars to pay so women could take a chemical mix the World Health Organization labeled a Class I carcinogen, right up there with tobacco and asbestos.

A study in the British Medical Journal in November 2011 by Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto shows “a strong correlation” between birth control use and prostate cancer.

Another study, by University of California Irvine, shows hormonal contraceptives have a strong effect on the way women remember emotionally charged events.  Some other birth control pills, including Yaz, have been linked to a small but significant risk of gallbladder disease.  The list of bad news about birth control pills goes on and on and on.

I’ll bet the American public doesn’t know this.  The Mainstream Media doesn’t tell them.  The Obama Administration’s Food & Drug Administration doesn’t tell them.  Teachers don’t tell kids in “health” classes.

The Bishops could have gone on the attack, refuting the Obama Administration’s posturing about health concerns by having anti-contraceptive news read from the pulpit, putting up billboards, etc.  But they didn’t.  Instead they effectively accepted the Obama Administration’s argument that the HHS Mandate is all about protecting women’s right to contraception, which is just another medical procedure like getting a flu shot.

They could have — should have — published voter guides that specifically address issues, providing Catholics with specific reasons to oppose morally problematic issues, such as contraception.

While Catholic bishops have no jurisdiction over non-Catholics, non-Catholics pay attention to what they say.  Had the Bishops confronted the contraception issue head on, they might well have won the argument.  And provide non-Catholics with a striking example of how church moral teachings are in according with science,

We’ll see on Tuesday what their silence on contraception cost them — and us.


About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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