The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Religious freedom, contraception and Georgetown Law School

Statue of John Carroll, 1st U.S. bishop, at Georgetown U.
Back -- way back -- in 1962 I attended Georgetown University for one year before receiving a congressional appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy. In those days, Georgetown, a Jesuit institution founded in 1789, was actually Catholic. Even in the School of Foreign Service we had required theology courses. A crucifix was displayed in every classroom. There were well-segregated men's dorms and women's dorms. We had nightly curfews. The men wore ties and jackets to class. And, yes, we were actually encouraged to attend Mass and receive the sacraments.

This is no longer the case, as Georgetown has fallen into step with the zeitgeist. Over the past few decades the university has shed most traces of its Catholicity and devolved into a secular institution with a "Catholic heritage." This was at least partly evidenced the other day during Nancy Pelosi's hearings on the administration's policy requiring Catholic institutions to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. One young woman,Sandra Fluke, who testified at this hearing complained that she and other women attending Georgetown Law School suffered financially because the cost of contraception was not covered by the university's health plan. I could hardly believe my ears. This woman wanted someone else, in this instance a nominally Catholic law school, to pay for law students' promiscuity. I'll give Georgetown some credit for their more restrictive health plan.

Apparently, as Nancy Pelosi herself has stated, women's health demands that the availability of free contraception must trump that pesky old religious freedom our founding fathers enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution. What is euphemistically called "women's health" actually has very little to do with women's health, unless one believes pregnancy to be a disease. It really involves the freedom of women to be sexually active without having to fret about the consequences. It involves the killing of a living human being up until the moment of its birth...and even after. And we're supposed to pay for all this regardless of our religious beliefs.

Earlier today I read a wonderful essay by Emily Stimpson in which she wrote:
"Birth control is not women’s friend. Abortion is not women’s friend. Sexual license is not women’s friend.

"Together, they have reduced women to objects, contributed to the ravaging of women’s bodies by sexually transmitted disease, spiked both abortions and out of wedlock births, helped build a culture of promiscuity and pornography where women are primarily valued for their sexual desirability, caused infertility, caused cancer, caused divorces, destroyed families, and left wounds so profound and so deep on the souls of millions upon millions of women that nothing but the greatest miracles of grace will be able to heal those wounds.

"They are all, unequivocally, bad news, and the Catholic Church recognizes that.

"In the culture today, women have no greater friend than the Catholic Church. It is the Catholic Church who fights for us. It is the Catholic Church who respects us. It is the Catholic Church who sees us as the beautiful, intelligent, graced images of God that we are."

And if your son or daughter wants to attend Georgetown, I suggest you refuse to pay for it.

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