I've grown quite weary of listening to Cecile Richards and Kathleen Sebelius drone on about their supposed concern for my "reproductive choices" and my "health care". Haven't you? They remind me of those little dolls I used to play with as a child--the dolls that came with a string attached that, when pulled, would play a recorded message like "feed me" or "I need a drink of water." The messages never changed and, after awhile, I lost interest and stopped pulling the string.
The big difference here is painfully obvious; these media dolls have the ability to pull their own strings.
It is a curious and frustrating thing that for two bright and well-educated women, in their overwhelming concern for women's "health care" and their tireless (and well paid) work on behalf of "women's issues", they appear incapable of envisioning a solution that doesn't revolve around abortion and contraception.
It's as if they have never met an abortion they couldn't profit from, nor a contraceptive they couldn't wait to peddle.
Equally frustrating are the endless (and ridiculous) birth control commercials. I have many friends who use various types of contraception. None of them, not one, wakes up in the morning like the images portrayed in the media. Far from jumping into pools with each other with cute little swimsuits on and singing stupid songs about the days of the week, the lives of actual women who use contraception look very different from those singing, robotic women on television.
Oh, I've seen them all: the patch, the shot, the pill, the diaphragm, the implants, the shield, the rings, etc. Enough already! If empowerment is realized by turning ourselves into nothing more than human rats for pharmaceutical companies, by conditioning women to become more excited about a proposed ring to stick up our vaginas than to put on our fingers, then ladies, we have been grievously betrayed.
Advertisements filled with giggly girls, running around in pink polka-dotted outfits and flowing skirts completely unable to hide their absolute joy and excitement at being tossed yet another contraption to stuff up themselves is nothing more than pharmaceutical porn. In reality, contraception is something women have been saddled with, not something they have been empowered by.
The women I've known are more likely to resemble the other birth control commercials, the sequels. These sequels are hard to miss and they usually start out something like this: "Have you or anyone you know used the drug 'Spaz' within the last 12 months? Do you suffer from strokes, blood clots, heart attacks? . . ." and then continue with a list of side effects a mile long, so terrible, that only a contraceptive for women would be deemed worthy of that kind of risk.
Class action lawsuits have a funny way of ripping the mask right off the "birth control as health care" mantra, exposing a very hideous face. Jumping into pools and skipping around on pink sidewalks is hardly possible when you're lying in a hospital bed suffering from a recent stroke, a "negative side-effect" from your "health care".
So many women I have known are hesitant to speak aloud what has only been expressed in the silence of their own hearts. The truth? Many would be happy to end their dependence on artificial birth control but are concerned that the men in their lives would become upset and it would have a ripple effect of negative consequences so daunting that it becomes too overwhelming to even consider.
With all our talk of empowerment, liberation, and advancement for women, we seem unable to free ourselves from the shackles of dangerous chemicals, implantation devices, and shots for our bodies filled with the latest batch of hormonal drugs. It is hard to fathom that in a day and age where women are at the top of every societal structure and status, we continue to value the integrity and health of our chickens' bodies more than we value the integrity and health of our own.
Thanks to organizations like Planned Parenthood, fertility has been likened to a disease and contraception and abortion are the cures. Under the banner of "reproductive choice", women put their bodies and their emotions through hell on a daily basis for precisely what they feel they do not have--a choice. Fertility and family planning have been successfully defined as a burden: a burden that has been placed squarely on the shoulders of women. It has been made ours, and ours alone to bear--or abort.
Welcome to your empowerment. It's hardly recognizable.
Sexual love speaks a beautiful language of unity and the vehicle for this expression of love is our bodies. When we invite contraception into the conversation, it's like talking to that annoying guy at the party; we will soon find ourselves being constantly interrupted.
Contraception screams a self-loathing message. It says to women that in our most natural and healthy state there is something wrong with us, so wrong that it should be withheld. Its abusive message conditions us to believe that we are undeserving of being loved in our fullness and are only desirable in parts.
I reject the attempts of those who slyly wrap this message in the cloak of liberation and empowerment for women while always with an eye toward Planned Parenthood's bottom line. I resent my body being used as a pawn for their agenda, their profits, and their politics and I am deeply insulted by the constant obsession of those in our government attempting to pass off harmful chemicals, devices, and drugs as "health care" for women when it would be unthinkable to pull this same kind of bait-and-switch stunt on men.
The inherent anti-woman message of contraception reeks of a familiar and deceptive stench.
The Catholic Church recognizes in women what their own boyfriends and husbands sometimes fail to see and it is pleased to have a message for women that Planned Parenthood never will; you are a gift, not just the convenient parts, not just the parts that make others happy or give others pleasure, but all of you. Your fertility is not a disease to be cured but was lovingly designed in the mind of God. You were created for love and when you give the gift of your body in that love, it is worthy of being received--in its entirety.
I won't use contraception because my body and my sexuality are gifts (and my husband's are pretty nice too). I won't use contraception because when I give myself to my husband in love, I want it to be a total giving and a total receiving, nothing withheld, nothing unworthy of being shared.
We use Natural Family Planning because love was designed to be expressed without interruption.
Blessed Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Women, wrote beautifully about the "unity of the two" which "enables each to experience their interpersonal and reciprocal relationship as a gift." On this Valentine's Day, I hope your marital relationship is experienced as that true gift. The time has come to embrace a message of empowerment truly deserving of being repeated, and one we should never grow tired of hearing; we are worthy of being loved--in our entirety.