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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XXVII, No. 2
Pentecost 2012

Serving an Epidemic of Sexual Excess

Free contraceptive coverage -- a bad joke played on women

by Rita Joseph

It’s a universal truth about the human condition that each new generation proves gullible in regard to at least one new invention that fails to deliver dramatic improvements promised. For a short while, entrepreneurs con the world with an exaggerated claim to the brilliance of their product’s benefits. Quickly they develop an industry that fleeces the gullible, and then, when the true effects reveal themselves, disclaim any responsibility and fade into ignominy.

But surely the mark of a really brilliant con artist is the ability to connect his product to the health industry. Like the dubious patent “medicines” peddled as the elixir of youth by the medicine men of old, contraceptives have been dishonestly presented as “reproductive health care.” Regrettably, two whole generations of women have swallowed hook, line, and sinker this clever lie that contraceptive products are absolutely necessary to women’s reproductive health.

Two generations of women have been victims to the unexamined lie that contraceptives are health-giving. Yet how can this be so when the vast majority of contraceptives are prescribed with the deliberate intention of sabotaging the healthy reproductive systems of young girls and women? (There are a few specific instances in which these medications are used legitimately to restore reproductive health or to treat a serious disorder.)

Just recently the big pharmaceutical multinationals have achieved the pinnacle of success in peddling the “necessity” of their contraceptive products to the Obama administration, which now is to require the medical insurance companies to cover these contraceptive products and provide universal coverage and for free. Irrespective of the outcome of the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the administration’s authority to impose such a requirement, the deeper issue remains that the products being flogged are fraudulently represented as genuine health care.

Dishonest packaging of contraception as preventive health care relies for its success on convincing women that healthy pregnancy (the epitome of a healthy reproductive system) is fundamentally dangerous and damaging to their reproductive health. Women’s bodies must be reprogrammed to incapacitate exactly what a healthy reproductive system is designed specifically to do. To render dysfunctional a healthy, functioning system and call it health care is just nonsense. Where else will this nonsense take us? To encouraging everyone to wear a permanent cover on their teeth (covers sold by the big pharmaceuticals) warning them that chewing food with their teeth is intrinsically dangerous to their oral health?

What has led us to this nonsense?

Accommodating sexual excess

It was certainly not by chance that the introduction of mass marketing of contraceptives coincided with the emergence of the Sexual Revolution. Accessibility to contraceptives and backup abortion facilitated an utterly irresponsible plunge into promiscuity and sexual excess that has brought us to today’s “reproductive health requirements.”

There is indeed an urgent public health issue here but strictly speaking it is not about reproductive health. It should more honestly be described as a virulent epidemic of sexual excess. One has only to review recent accounts of the sexual exploitation of a group of women hired for prostitution “services” by a group of US presidential bodyguards — elite Secret Service agents. These men, though on an official mission to Colombia, saw no reason to have to restrict their sexual appetites while on a short mission in a guest country. It is symptomatic of the prevailing culture that these men perceived their sexual “rights” as unrestricted by old-fashioned values of prudence and decency.

For far too long now a culture of 24/7 access to unfettered sexual gratification has endorsed as normal and acceptable an extreme promiscuity and sexual licentiousness that has damaged not only girls and women, but children, fathers, families, and social cohesion.

Continence — an unnecessary behavioral restriction?

The unchallenged orthodoxy being peddled in standard sexual and reproductive health education programs today is that any requirement for adolescents or adults to exercise continence is unrealistic.

Sexual addiction exacerbated by unlimited access to internet and other ubiquitous forms of pornography has emerged as a serious public health problem as sexual intercourse continues to be represented widely as a predominantly recreational activity that all have a “right” to enjoy without consequences or responsibilities.

An excessive liberalism insists that no restrictions should be placed on sexual activity other than the requirement to use condoms and contraceptives. Instead the new ideology insists that controls must be placed on fertility, lest it result in pregnancy, which is presented in much the same light as sexually transmitted diseases. Indeed, health programs concentrate on providing the information and warnings to avoid both outcomes, which, regrettably, are often presented as equally undesirable and threatening.

Continence obsolete — replaced by products and services

The ultimate irony of this excessive sexual liberalism is that it has led to the invention by many governments and their health departments of a spurious “State duty” to assume responsibility for controlling the fertility of women and girls. Indeed, many radical feminists insist on government responsibility for providing fertility control and accuse governments of violating liberty and security “where a state denies women access to means of fertility control and leaves them to risk unwanted and unintended pregnancies.”1

Personal continence, once valued as a function of self-discipline over sexual behavior, appears to have been rendered obsolete. Most current education programs teach children to tamper with human biology rather than to moderate sexual behavior. They operate on the assumption that adolescents are or will very soon be sexually active. Promiscuity is a given. It is tolerated as acceptable behavior for adolescents and adults, and teachers are to refrain from criticizing any sexual behavior — except not using condoms or contraceptives.

Once sexual continence is thrown out the window, fertility control, like disease control, becomes a medicalized necessity that has to be financed, provisioned, and controlled as a public health service run by governments committed to a set of new pseudo-human rights called “reproductive and sexual rights,” which include the right to access “the full range of methods of fertility control”2 provided by the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies, IUD and condom manufacturers, and abortion and sterilization “service” providers.

“Obamacare” reproductive health — a deeply flawed response

Unfortunately, instead of encouraging sexual restraint and a return to family values, the Obama administration has opted to deal with the problems of widespread sexual incontinence by funding universal chemical “treatments” (contraceptive pills) and surgical fixes (sterilizations and abortions). The administration has opted to endorse the continuation of wide-scale irresponsible sexual licentiousness and to uphold the pretense that sexual license is a health right, a fundamental freedom to be enjoyed without personal responsibilities or natural consequences.

Sadly, the medical profession is inexorably losing the ability to control the accompanying epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases — the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments is being reduced alarmingly by the routine re-infection among those who refuse to modify their sexual behaviors.

The right path toward genuine reproductive health is surely toward behavioral therapy.

It took civilization many millennia to develop a best practice for sexual intercourse and its social governance. Marriage between one man and one woman and restriction of sexual intercourse to within marriage generally ensured the most secure environment for raising children — each child had the right, insofar as possible, to be raised by his or her own mother and father.

Ideological reinterpretation

In the 1960s and 1970s, a radical feminist ideology emerged to proclaim as a fundamental dogma that women and adolescent girls cannot achieve reproductive health without unfettered access to contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion. Radical ideologues have convinced women and girls that 1) unregulated fertility endangers women and girls’ health; 2) that it represents an intolerable barrier to women’s full and equal participation with men in political, economic, and social life; and 3) that fertility can be regulated only with the aid of a multi-billion dollar contraceptive/abortion industry that can ensure that sexually active women and girls of child-bearing age and their sexual partners are guaranteed access to all forms of contraceptives including “emergency contraception” — and to abortion in case of “contraceptive failure”. Consistently, studies throughout the world confirm that around 50% of babies aborted belong to women who were using contraceptives that “failed.”

Across the radical feminist literature of the past 40 years, fertility has been presented as a political, economic, and social handicap imposed only on women. Pregnancy and motherhood are misrepresented as disempowering roles socially constructed by men to a) exploit women as “baby-making machines and domestic slaves,”3 and b) deny women an equal and equitable share with men in the political, economic, and social decision-making of their communities. Poverty is regularly blamed on women and girls and their failure to reduce their fertility enough.

Fertility control advocacy has led to over-medicalization

And so fertility is no longer valued as a natural healthy attribute — most of the time it is to be rendered dysfunctional through surgery or chemical ingestion. The “key indicator” for measuring the success of women’s reproductive health programs is contraceptive use. Such programs refuse to see the long-term dangers of requiring bio-technical modification of the human body to force constant malfunction of normal healthy reproductive systems.

The damaging side effects of contraceptives and other methods of fertility control tend to be glossed over. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the ideal contraceptive — totally free of risks — does not exist and is unlikely to be discovered in the near future, and there is ample evidence that many women do not use some modern methods of fertility control precisely because of unacceptable side effects and largely hidden health risks.

There appears to be little recognition that mass medicalization of women’s fertility may well be doing immense harm to our very humanity. The international community has yet to acknowledge even the possibility of dehumanizing long-term consequences of the massive defertilization offensive that has been launched, successfully executed, and entrenched against women and girls.

Imagine a massive campaign to administer truth drugs. Such drugs take away part of our humanity — impair our ability to make moral decisions and offend our dignity as human beings. Or consider a mass program for providing diet pills to control overweight: every doctor knows that it is far healthier to control overweight by controlling diet and exercise. Imagine the outcry if the Obama administration masterminded a massive global health rights campaign that marketed a full range of diet pills and cellulite-reduction surgeries for all women as a superior more reliable method of avoiding the health dangers of overweight. Imagine doctors assuring men and women that moderating food intake and taking exercise are no longer necessary.

Yet hundreds of millions of women and girls submit to medicalized control of their fertility — victims of more than forty years of widespread promotion of contraceptive technologies. Women and girls are being taught erroneously that fertility control is imperative to good health and that fertility control is only possible through chemical, surgical, or mechanical interference.

The fact is that from an anthropological point of view, most cultures developed traditional methods of dealing with fertility, usually by instituting sexual and behavioral codes relying on, for example, periods of post-partum abstinence and the use of extended breast-feeding.

In a lifetime’s work, Drs. John and Evelyn Billings have shown that natural family planning (NFP) builds easily onto such cultural foundations and is much more respectful of the real needs of families and communities. Slowly but surely, the medical world is beginning to appreciate this truth. The turning point came with the endorsement by the prestigious British Medical Journal of the Billings’ NFP work (BMJ 20 Nov., 1993); and more recently, outstanding successes in large-scale trials of the Billings Method in India and China (see woomb.org).

The positive philosophical approach taught in natural family planning gives women and men a true knowledge of and respect for their fertility, together with a profound respect for each new child conceived.

Fertility’s true context — a reciprocal love proper to procreation

All of humanity must return to the truth about human sexuality. Pope John Paul II taught us that the true context for fertility is a reciprocal love proper to procreation. In January 2004 in a message to the International Congress on “Natural Regulation of Fertility and the Culture of Life,” he warned against a mentality that on the one hand appears intimidated in the face of responsible procreation and, on the other hand, would like to dominate and manipulate life:

Clearly, when one speaks of “natural” regulation, respect for biological rhythm alone is not what is meant. In a much more complete way, it entails upholding the truth of the person’s profound unity of spirit, psyche and body, a unity that can never be reduced to a simple set of biological mechanisms.

It is only in the context of complete and limitless reciprocal love by the married couple that the act of procreation, on which the future of humanity itself depends, can be carried out in all of its dignity.

It is right, therefore, that not only doctors and researchers be called to offer their responsible contribution to this fundamental event, but also pastoral workers and political authorities in their respective areas of competence.4

NOTES:

1 R. Cook, “International Protection of Women’s Reproductive Rights” (1992) 24 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, p. 696. Quoted in Human Life International’s “Lexicon: Fertility and Continence” (hli.org/index.php/component/content/article/41-lexicon/176-fertility-and-continence).

2 HLI “Lexicon”.

3 HLI “Lexicon”.

4 “Natural Regulation” §2. (vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2004/january/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20040130_conv-fertility_en.html).


Rita Joseph, of Canberra, Australia, is a member of the editorial board of Voices, and has represented family concerns at United Nations conferences. She writes and lectures on social issues, and has made a special study of the Holy Father’s writings on family and on women. She has lectured at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Melbourne. Her book Human Rights and the Unborn Child was published in 2009.


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