Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Tag

answer teen pregnancy with compassion, not pills

The FDA has made the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill available to all women ages 15 and over without a prescription or parental consent.  Prior to this ruling, anyone under age 17 needed a prescription to obtain this drug.  Proponents of the legislation argue that all women should have timely access to emergency contraception, regardless of age.  Thankfully, the Department of Justice filed an appeal against the ruling late on Wednesday.  Reactions to the appeal were mixed, but perhaps one of the most disappointing headlines I read this morning was, “Women’s groups decry appeal on morning-after pill.”

To be honest, I just spent hours working on an article to post here. I unpacked this issue from a scientific and medical perspective—is this pill an abortifacient? Is this pill safe for young girls? Armed with my facts and my arguments, I presented the article to my faithful editor (read: husband) and he lovingly told me that he thought I had missed the mark. Annoyed, I hung up the phone and sat down at the computer. I prayed. And I realized that he is right.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what science says about this pill.  What matters is that we are treating pregnancy like the common cold.  We are saying to our young women that pregnancy, like cold symptoms, can be treated with a quick trip to CVS.  Even worse, we are saying to our young women that we will not be there for them when they need guidance.

When I was in college, I was an intern at Catholic Charities Pregnancy Plus Medical in Tampa. I met with women daily, gave free pregnancy tests, and talked through next steps with the women once the results were in.  I was 19 years old, single, no children.  What did I possibly have to offer these women?  I had no pregnancy advice, no relationship advice. I had no words about overcoming addiction or abuse. The only thing I could offer was compassion and a shoulder to cry on. My youngest client that summer was 15 years old, and all I remember is that she just needed someone to talk to, someone to reassure her that everything was going to be ok when her pregnancy test came back positive.

This ruling robs us of the ability to support the young women who find themselves in these difficult situations. If a young girl is sexually active and her birth control fails, she can go to CVS and pick up a pill and end her pregnancy.  Did she abort an already conceived child?  Perhaps.  Is this pill safe?  Will this affect her fertility in the future?  We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. We can speculate, but we don’t know.

What we do know is that God calls us to reach out to one another in love. Our call, our purpose, is to love one another.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25: 31-40

Call it what it is

I am deeply saddened by President Obama’s duplicitous remarks at a Planned Parenthood function earlier today.  That I am disappointed that the President would so clearly align himself with one side of a polarizing issue is another matter entirely.  Here, I’d simply like to express my disappointment at his choice of words.  Today it seemed that the President chose his words carefully to disguise the nature of the truth.

President Obama said today:

“As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you’ve also got a president who’s going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way.  Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.”

That is a great sound bite.  If I didn’t know any better and I had heard that clip on the radio, I’d be filled with pride.  But what do his words really mean?

By “access to quality, affordable health care,” I imagine the President is referring to the Affordable Care Act.  In the context of his speech to Planned Parenthood, he is most likely referring specifically to the HHS mandate, which requires all employers to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. Women’s access to contraception is so important that it has been written into the Affordable Health Care Act, with shallow exemptions in place for those who find contraception morally unacceptable.  As a woman, I am offended by the assertion that offering me “access to quality, affordable health care” means providing me with contraception.  Furthermore, why is men’s reproductive health care not included in the Affordable Care Act?  Why will my employer pay for sterilization for women, but not for men? And why will the Affordable Care Act not cover other methods of family planning, such as Natural Family Planning?

By “we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health,” the President is  most likely referring to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.  The President really means that I should be able to choose to end the life of my child if I so desire. I should be able to make this decision up until a late stage in my pregnancy. I have the right, as a woman, as a mother, to feel my child’s heart beating inside of me and decide that I can end my child’s life.  I should have access to an abortion clinic, and if my doctor “botches” my abortion and my child is born alive, my doctor should be allowed to kill my child on the table.  To quote a Planned Parenthood official, it has become a “patient-doctor” issue, and to be clear: I am the patient, not my newborn child.

Yet, President Obama did not once use the word “abortion” in his remarks today.  He continuously used the phrase, “right to choose.”  Why, in addressing the nation’s largest abortion provider, did President Obama not use the word “abortion?”

I am not passing judgment on women or men who agree with these policies or those who find value in them.  I am insisting that we use the appropriate language and truly call these policies what they are.  When we rewrite the language, when we say things like “a woman has a right to choose,” we need to finish the sentence. What does the woman have the right to choose? If we can say, out loud, in public, on television, to Planned Parenthood officials, “A woman has the right to kill the child growing inside of her” then I think we would be making an enormous leap toward truth.

Yet we do not use these words, because these words are harsh, difficult, painful.  Perhaps we are afraid to speak the truth. The truth is not pretty; no one wants to hear about the abortion as a life/death issue when we can easily reframe it to be a rights/choice issue.  Between the lack of mainstream media coverage (or sporadic coverage at best) of the Kermit Gosnell trial and President Obama’s remarks today, the need for truthful language is clear.

The President and I can agree on one thing today— I too would invoke God’s blessing upon Planned Parenthood. I pray for them, and for all of us as a society,  that we may start to call things what they truly are. There is power in truth.

Bob Rice

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