The Obama administration has just bought itself a heap of political trouble with its policy directives about who is going to pay for contraception.
It’s perfectly reasonable to see the issue in terms of religious freedom. Clearly, the Obama administration is using its health care law to force religious institutions to pay obeisance to its own values, to practice what they do not preach.
And yet, there are many different angles to the question. Since most commentators are doing an excellent job explaining the politics, I want to limit myself to the larger issues surrounding what the administration is calling “contraceptive care.”
The underlying issues largely involve the meaning of sex? Are all sexual activities created equal? Are they all the same? Is there nothing special about the generative act when compared with other ways of experiencing sexual pleasure?
After all, some sexual acts—I will spare you the list— are foolproof contraception. Other actions that seem to fall under the category of contraceptive care—like abortion—are really contra-gestational.
It’s one thing to say that contraception should be available to those who want it and are of age. It’s quite another to say that the government or insurance companies or religious institutions should be paying for it.
It almost feels that religious institutions are being forced to pay for their sins against political correctness.
Last night on Sean Hannity’s show Mark Levin wondered out loud why the government wants to put religious institutions in the business of distributing condoms. The government itself could, if it wanted, distribute them on street corners, Levin added.
After all, condoms are a contraceptive. If insurance is supposed to cover contraceptive care wouldn’t it be obligated to pay for condoms?
Yet, condoms are not very expensive. People who want to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases might well be expected to want to buy them.
Will a teenager facing the choice of having sex with a condom or not having sex at all defer gratification until he finds out whether his favorite brand is covered by his health insurance?
It gets more complicated still. For left thinking people the condom serves as the secular and, dare I say, profaned Eucharist.
Condom use might not put you on the road to eternal life but it is touted as the ultimate protection, not just against conception but against all manner of sexually transmitted diseases.
Those who take the condom as their Eucharist do not tell you that it is far from perfect protection, even when used correctly.
The Pied Pipers of sexual liberation beat the drums for condoms because that is the only limit they put on sexual activity. They promote safe sex as a supreme good, as though all sex of fine if you are using a condom.
Thereby, they have eliminated the emotional and relational components to the sex act. All sex acts are roughly equivalent and equally safe if you use a condom. A child who hears this message will understand that he or she has no good excuse for not having sex.
This message is communicated relentlessly to children in school. Now, apparently, the government wants to bless the distribution of condoms and other birth control devices by, in principle, forcing religious institutions or their insurers to hand them out.
Those who worship the condom seem to believe that young people have always and will always be having sex, regardless. This is patently false, and it is clear that when you reduce sexual morality to the question of whether or not a condom is being used you are encouraging young women, in particular, to be more promiscuous.
I daresay that most parents do not want their children, especially their daughters, to indulge their sexual desires regardless of the emotional and psychological consequences.
Insisting that health insurance cover contraceptive care is about more than condoms. It must also be aiming at birth control pills and other contraceptive devices.
And yet, birth control pills do not protect against STDs. They protect women against pregnancy. In some cases they might encourage women to have unprotected sex, thus exposing themselves to disease.
Of course, pregnancy is not a disease. Even if it is unintended, it is still not a disease.
Many people who believe that sex is ultimately about reproduction find this idea to be grossly offensive. The group is hardly limited to Catholics.
In particular, most parents do not want their daughters to be completely cavalier about the way they distribute their sexual favors. They are outraged that the government is trying to define adolescent sexuality, especially adolescent female sexuality, in terms of the availability of free contraception.
They understand the free contraception is part and parcel of an ethic that promotes free live and sexual liberation, at the expense of the emotional well-being of young women.
And then, as Hamlet so aptly put it: “conception is a blessing….” When did conception become a disease? When did it become transformed from a blessing into a curse, into something that the government has a vested interest in preventing?
Certainly, our value system has become skewed. The aspect of female reproductive biology that used to be called “the curse” must now, by leftist logic, be called “the blessing.”
Obviously there’s a subtext here. In fact, there’s a feminist subtext here.
Feminists have always wanted women to be able to have sex as freely and openly as men. They have considered the biological differences between men and women, especially when it comes to sexuality, to be an offense against their ideology.
Unbeknownst to themselves these feminists have not exited the Freudian stage of human intellectual development. They believe that sexual repression produces neurosis and that full women’s liberation must involve sexual liberation… which means, having sex like a man.
For feminists women should feel no real difference between sex in relationships and sex outside of relationships. They see sexual fulfillment as the royal road to mental health.
They also believe that sex should be liberated from the constraints of conjugality. They want young women to defer procreation. They have no use for deferred gratification but they strongly favor deferred procreation.
Presumably, if women are to live their lives as good feminists they must postpone marriage and childbearing in favor of their careers. If they marry young and have children they will be less likely to rise to the ranks of executives. .
Everyone should know it by now, but the feminist life plan wants women to become good feminists. In the end it does not care about anything else.
Deferring procreation does not necessarily make it easier to procreate. In many cases it makes procreation much more difficult.
In these feminist times reproductive endocrinology has been a booming business. For all the talk about the universal need for contraception, feminism has created a situation where conception has become an elusive goal for far too many women.