Monday, February 20, 2012

Honor vs. Lies and Distortions (with a fun update)

Before we head into Lent, when my posts will focus more on the spiritual rather than the political and temporal, I want to post Archbishop Chaput's recent column on the HHS mandate. You can find the original, here

I think he hits on what I find most disturbing about this whole sad episode between the Obama administration and the Church: The lies and distortions that have accompanied the debate. 


Judging by mainstream media coverage, one would think that the Church suddenly and forcefully came onto the public scene and began a campaign to end "access" to contraception -- when in fact she has done exactly nothing. The only movement (and an aggressive power grabbing movement at that) has come from the Obama administration, which unnecessarily started and now sustains this fight -- a fight that, until Obama picked it, did not exist on anyone's radar screen. 

Obama did not have to do this. He chose to start this. And now his allies on the left and in the press have added insult (lies and distortion) to the initial injury. Lies are hard to fight, but fight we will. 

All emphases below are mine. Take it away, Your Excellency!



Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia 

Archbishop Chaput’s weekly column: 
It’s not a ‘compromise,’ and it needs to be rescinded

Creighton Abrams, arguably America’s best general in recent history, was an uncommon man. A biographer said that “he touched those who came to know him in a way they valued and would never forget.” It’s easy to see why. He led by example. He embodied the virtues of courage, honesty, dedication to mission, personal humility and unfailing fidelity to his wife and six children over a marriage of 38 years.

Abrams never degraded his opponents. He never demeaned himself by demeaning others. He lived by the highest ethical standards, and he demanded the same from the people around him. One of his favorite sayings was “Never wrestle with pigs: You get dirty, and the pigs love it.”

Those words came back to me this past week. The trigger was the fierce public debate over the Obama administration’s misleading February 10 “compromise” on a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The original HHS mandate, announced on January 20, would have forced nearly all Catholic institutions, organizations and private employers to provide contraception and abortifacients as part of their health coverage.

As many Catholic legal scholars have observed: The February 10 “compromise” does not solve the problem. It continues, in its practical effect, to force faithful Catholic employers to violate their religious beliefs. In short, the HHS mandate is coercive and deeply troubling in its implications for the rights of conscience. Nor is this accidental. The administration, despite the good will it has enjoyed from many Catholics, has taken a path that it knows to be unnecessary and knows to be hostile to Catholic belief.

The contempt dumped on Catholic teaching in our mass media over the past few days of debate tells us quite a lot about our critics. It also underlines the need for fighting respectfully but vigorously for what we believe. When a columnist in a major news daily claims, for example, that “The Catholic Church basically endorses one form of birth control, the rhythm method, which is contraception for stupid people,” we can learn two things: Neither accuracy nor civility matters when it comes to demeaning how faithful Catholics try to live their lives. In the task of pushing birth control, sneering is fully licensed.

Of course, people are free to join or leave the Catholic community. They’re free to criticize Catholic belief in any way they choose. But they’re not free to force Catholic institutions, organizations and individual employers into violating their religious convictions. They’re not free to mislead the public about a flawed and dangerous HHS mandate. And they’re not free to ignore the concerns of Catholic citizens who are rightly angry about the current administration’s indifference to religious freedom and the rights of conscience.

A friend of Creighton Abrams once said that, despite his humility and mastery of self, when it came to matters of principle, he “could inspire aggressiveness in a begonia.” It’s an interesting line. The Christian life does not need aggression. It doesn’t return hatred with more hatred. Living the Gospel depends on virtues like justice, charity and mercy. But it also depends on courage. It does require fortitude. And that means a great many Catholics need to wake up and take a hard look at what’s happening to our country. They may not like what they see. They shouldn’t like what they see. And if they don’t, they need to fight — without apologies — to turn things toward the good.

The current HHS mandate is not a real “compromise.” It’s bad law with very dangerous implications. It needs to be rescinded, and it doesn’t matter how ugly or deceptive our critics choose to be. I ask every Catholic who reads these words and takes his or her faith seriously, to please contact your U.S. senators and representative. Do it today. Press them to rescind this destructive HHS mandate.

I know: We all have so many issues that compete for our daily attention. We’re often tempted to ignore the whole lot.

But this one is urgent. This one really matters.



+++++++


*Updated to add something very funny from a cool young priest. The video will make you cheer (thanks, Fr. Leo, for giving us something to smile about!), and it also illustrates that Obama blatantly lied to Catholics during his infamous Notre Dame University speech:









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367 comments:

  1. Whoa, I just got this emailed to me:

    http://greatcatholichomilies.com/2012/02/health-care-dictates-or-not-—-we-will-not-surrender-the-truth/

    "Sermon summary: Cardinal [Francis] George has predicted that the persecution of the Church is coming. He said that he himself would die in bed, but his successor would die in jail, and that the next successor would be executed.

    This secular government is coming after us. The government passes laws that neutralize grace and goodness in the world. What the cardinal was saying was that one day we may have to shed blood. We won’t provide contraception and abortion — things that are in themselves immoral. Catholic schools and colleges will have to drop their health insurance, or they will be fined. Thus, the government will close institutions that we have worked for two hundred years to build.

    See you in jail.

    That is the trajectory — the arrests of bishops and priests. We will all be cellmates. Our message is that we will not kill babies; we will not kill love. Love is permanent, faithful and fruitful."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kara, yup!!

    And here is another person's wise take on this unnecessary provocation:

    "The Obama administration has purposely transformed a non-existent problem – access to contraception – into a constitutional crisis,” said Mike Johnson, dean of Louisiana College’s Pressler School of Law, who is acting as co-counsel on this case. “This mandate offers no choice; Americans either comply and abandon their convictions or resist and be punished.”

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/hhs-mandate-means-ongoing-comprehensive-government-surveillance-two-new-col

    ReplyDelete
  3. Eh. I’m not convinced the liberal media is lying as much as you wish it were.

    One would think that the Church suddenly and forcefully came onto the public scene and began a campaign to end "access" to contraception -- when in fact she has done exactly nothing

    Maybe not but the Republican Party has at the direction of the church. If the objections to the HHS mandate simply said that the church doesn’t want to provide contraception, you might have been okay, but every headline from Fox news, lifesitenews, Jill stank and others have said the Church doesn’t want to provide contraception and ‘abortion inducing contraception’. That’s a major problem. As you all know the mandate doesn’t cover abortion or the abortion pill, so you’re talking about IUD’s, the Pill, and the morning after pill---major popular contraceptives. By labeling routine contraceptives ‘abortificients and publicizing announcing your desire to ban abortion, you, the Church, and the Republican Party are saying you want to ban essentially all contraception besides condoms


    So many people had no idea the Church and the party were so anti-contraception and it’s a big damn deal that is very rightly causing outrage against Americans.


    ~College Student

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  4. They shouldn’t like what they see. And if they don’t, they need to fight — without apologies — to turn things toward the good.

    Read: Cream puffs need not apply.

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  5. I read something today very similar to what Mike Johnson said in your quote above; what was the status quo (not providing free contraception) has suddenly been labeled an extremist position.

    Unbelievable...and frightening.

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  6. College student, I hope you read this very carefully: The objection at hand is about providing "abortifacient" pills and devices. I will repeat: The objection at hand is about providing "abortifacient" pills and devices.

    There are direct abortions (surgical and RU-486) and then there are Pills and devices which do act as abortifacients at least some of the time. Most Republicans (including most evangelicals) are not opposed to the Pill or other such devices, so your facts are wrong there. What you need to do to give your statement any credence at all is this: Provide a link to any proposal or legislation which states in any way that the Republican Party is trying to legally ban the Pill or other abortifacients. Please, provide the link. If you cannot provide it, or any evidence that this is in the works, then please retract your statement, as it is utterly unfounded (I won't say "made up", because I don't want to accuse you of being disingenuous).

    At least, thank you for admitting that Obama, and not the Church, started this fight. He is without question the most divisive president we've ever seen. This was the "great uniter"? Ugh!

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  7. LJP, that's so true, and it's true of marriage redefinition and all the objections to traditional morality/natural law. The status quo is suddenly "extremist". What a tactic! And most people are too afraid to fight these cultural bullies.

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  8. College student, I asked you something the other day:

    What do you reverence?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you mean "revere"? Reverence is a noun.

      Delete
    2. Really? We are at the level of grammar nit-picks? Well if that is the worst thing you can complain about that isn't too bad :-p

      You are correct though, and she clearly meant revere, regardless of whether it was a typographic error or she was mistaken about the proper word choice.

      Delete
    3. Nicholas, as a grammar nazi myself (summa cum laude English major, I don't mind the question, ha ha. Below a bit you will see that I answered Johanne like this:

      Johanne, excuse my "religious speak"… we speak of "reverencing" God and other things in my lexicon. :) :)

      She apologized. And for the record (because I just looked it up), "reverence" can legitimately be a verb:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reverence

      I am vindicated! ha ha.

      Delete
    4. Well, I'm a summa cum laude English major who forgot a parenthesis above and italicized where I shouldn't have. Ugh!! I need to turn in my degree….

      Sorry!

      Delete
  9. College Student, if you are getting your info from liberal media, then you just proved they are lying.

    1) The Church has always objected to contraception both at the societal and individual level.

    2) The IUD, the Pill and the MA Pill are all abortifacient.

    3) No self-respecting American is outraged because Catholics won't pay for their contraception pill and devices.

    Catholics are outraged that people are whining that they can't get love-blocking goodies for free. That mentality reduces us all to irrational animals. Religious freedom means we have the right to aspire to something higher...as human beings.

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    1. Love-blocking goodies? What are those?

      Delete
  10. College Student,
    I am a person who uses contraception (barrier methods) in my marriage, and I am upset by this mandate. Actually, I think the entire thing was scripted so that people would rally behind Santorum (this has happened), and weaken Romney. Obama does not want to face Romney in the general election.

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  11. College Student, if you didn't get from Leila and Stacey's responses let me be redundant- nobody is trying to ban birth control. The Church just doesn't want to be forced by a government mandate to provide it to all of it's employees free of charge.

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  12. Leila I absolutely positively cannot point to a piece of legislation that says republicans want to ban contraceptives explictly, there isn't one, unless you wanted to interpret a personhood amendment into saying that

    But i am floored as to why you would say it is utterly unfounded. The only logical conclusion of making abortion illegal is also making 'abortion causing drugs' illegal. Stacy has an article called "How the Pill Kills. You have called an IUD a personal abortion device. If you are so vehemently against abortion and desperately want to make them illegal and believe the morning after pill and the IUD causes abortion, how am i crazy to think you might want to make them illegal too? Hell if you think they cause abortions and DON"T want to make them illegal, your entire side would be terribly inconsistent.

    But why don't I ask you, do you think the IUD and the pill and the morning after pill to be utterly and completely legal so long as you don't have to provide them. You don't want the gov to limit access to these services at all? Any one can answer.

    !College Student

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  13. College student, I asked you something the other day:

    What do you reverence?

    My family, mom and dad

    ~College Student

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  14. Catholics are outraged that people are whining that they can't get love-blocking goodies for free.

    And liberal are whining because the idea that we can opt out of paying for each other's lifestyle choices is absurd and antithetical to the concept of a social contract.

    We don't get to decide whether or not we pay for people's sex lives. We can pay for their contraception--or we can pay for their delivery and their public education. If we refuse to pay for those things we can pay for their jail cell and the cost of crime on society.

    I would love for every single person to pay 100% the cost of their child from birth to grad school--but that's impossible. We will pay for other people's sex lives one way or another.

    If you don't want to pay for the sex lives of liberals that is fine, but why should they pay for yours? After all if you don't want to pay for their preference for contracepted sex , why should they pay for public school, welfare, headstart, emergency room visits, pell grants all because you wanted to have unprotected sex?


    ~College Student

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    1. Guess what. The government doesn't pay for my kids. My five kids (two of which are school-aged and two of which were unplanned--one due to a contraception fail) do not go to public school. We are not on welfare. We do not use headstart. My emergency room visits are paid for by my insurance company.

      The assumption is always made that every "unplanned" child belongs to a well-fare family and/or become a criminal. When I know a whole slew of middle-class families who have "surprise" children, often due to contraception failure (most often condoms and the pill).

      And if my kids do get scholarships to a state college school, the total will probably equal all of the taxes over the years that I paid into the school system and never collected on.

      By the way the statistics show time and time again that MORE ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION = A FALSE SENSE of INVINCIBILITY = PEOPLE HAVING MORE AND RISKIER SEX (especially outside of marriage) = MORE UNPLANNED PREGNANCIES (given high contraception fail rates) = MORE ABORTIONS!!

      http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/the_false_promise_of_contraception.html

      Delete
  15. College Student,

    As a Catholic I woud love to see abortion to be illegal and IUDs, the Pill and the morning after pill to not only be limited but gone completely. Of course Catholics want that - it is the dream, the hope that we long for. That, however, is not the issue at hand. I have no doubt that to see that dream achieved will take a long time (though I wish it weren't so) and a lot of hard work, but we must start somewhere. But before we can even begin that battle we must start on the bedrock foundations of this country: the freedom to practice our religion and *that* is the issue at hand. I would never say, go get some contraception because that is fine fo ryou but not fine for me - that's moral relativism which is another debate entirely. I will, however, say that I will not pay, nor should Catholic institutions pay for contraception and abortifacients because contraception is fundamentally against our Catholic beliefs - always has, and always will be.

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  16. Good post, Leila. And I like your emphases in Chaput's speech. It's becoming clearer and clearer that Obama sought this fight, intentionally, knowing he could rely on a complicit media to frame it so that it seems the Catholic Church, and Republicans for that matter, sought it and want to fight it. Which is laughable, but the left seems to have left reason and common sense in the dust with the approaching election. The left NEEDS to believe that there are scary, evil people put there who want to wrest their ABC from their hands. It's a lie with a great deal of appeal, and it's seemingly impenetrable to facts. No matter how many articles there are out there from people who believe a) that ABC is just fine but b) don;t like what the administration is doing, their voices cannot pierce the fog of obfuscation. We're living in the strangest world right now; even a year ago would have thought Cardinal George was a bit hysterical, now I'm wondering if he's not going far enough. Things are moving just that rapidly.

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  17. College student: You reverence family, I am getting (I didn't mean who you look up to, or who your heros are, although it's nice that you said mom and dad). You reverence family; that is excellent. (So do Catholics.) Is that the highest good for you, then? And, in what way do you show reverence to the ideal of family and family bonds? Not in your family specifically, but in general, how do you show reverence to the ideal?

    Now, you said:

    If you don't want to pay for the sex lives of liberals that is fine, but why should they pay for yours? They don't, actually. I pay all my expenses. And I don't even have maternity coverage in my insurance.

    After all if you don't want to pay for their preference for contracepted sex , why should they pay for public school, welfare, headstart, emergency room visits, pell grants all because you wanted to have unprotected sex?

    You've mixed in about five or six different issues here, trying to lump them all in as one thing. First: I won't pay for your contraception, because it is a mortal sin for me to do so. It's that pesky "religious liberty" thing, and the fact that no one can force me to sin and go to Hell, not even Mr. Obama.

    Don't get me started on the funding of public schools… oy, vey. And, I don't believe that schools have anything to do with health care… they have to do with education. As do pell grants. Even the gov't separates the two concepts, having a Dept. of HHS and a Dept. of Education. Two different issues. Welfare and Head Start? Well, those are social welfare programs, and one can argue how effective those gov't programs are and whether they are helping or hurting people. But no one -- no one -- argues that helping poor children or those truly in need (whether privately or publicly funded) is a mortal sin. No religion says that helping the poor or the needy is an intrinsic evil. And yet, a major world religion that represents tens of millions of Americans does say (and has for eons before America was in diapers) that contraception is an intrinsic evil.

    Distinctions in discussion are SO important.

    Emergency room visits? Yes, that has to do with health care, so we can speak to it specifically here without going way off topic. Yes, I am very much okay with my taxes going to help those indigent or needy folks who need medical treatment. And thankfully, there are hundreds of Catholic hospitals whose mission is to treat the poor, every single day, no matter their creed. But, those hospitals may close for good if Obama wins his battle here. And I would just be so interested in how the gov't is going to fill that void.

    But your whole premise to me is bizarre. The idea that human beings walk this earth because people (like me, I guess?) "wanted to have unprotected sex". Yes, I guess that is called propagating the species. It's how the human race is continued (through that institution of "family" that you reverence).

    "Unprotected sex" is how we stay alive.

    (And I love the language, "unprotected sex"… as if we need to "protect" ourselves when we make love to our husbands! ha ha, strikes me as funny, sorry. Make love and not war, and all…. But contraception, of course, is suiting up for war, with chemical warfare, barriers, etc. I prefer to make love.)

    And college student, don't you think (coming from your philosophy) that the federal government should go even farther, like Washington State just did, and mandate abortion coverage as well, as a matter of Women's Health? After all, that would save a whole lot of money, too. I know you are okay with abortion, so how about it?

    Thanks!

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  18. College Student, could you point to where, in your friends' lives, you see the existence of the Pill and other forms of bc as having made their lives happier?

    So many of your posts speak of the sadness of their situation, of their tears, even of the painful sex they endure - the need to say "no" at any time in the sex act because the men are HURTING THEM. Before the Pill, what percentage of college women do you think were having those conversations? I realize that before the Pill, women were getting pregnant outside of marriage. I realize that life was not perfect for women before the Pill. But before the false promises of the Pill, the false claims that women would be more free (free to be happier? point to it in the comments you've made about your friends), the false claims that there would be fewer children suffering from abuse (there aren't), the false claims that marriages would benefit from the Pill (marriage is in a relative shambles), the false claims that there would be less need for abortion (point to the reduction for me), before all of these, women were more likely to avoid premarital sex because they did not want to be pregnant outside of marriage. Do you think college women of the 40's, such as my mother and my aunts, would trade places with your friends after listening to the conversations that you have? What do you think high school girls of the 40's would think of your conversations? Do you think they would be jealous of the "benefits" you and your friends are experiencing? Would they trade their eventual marriages that were so much more enduring than modern marriages,for the "fun" you and your friends are having?

    I'm just asking because apparently we are all supposed to be pleased that we can now get all of this beneficial bc for FREE! Not insulin, not thyroid medications, not cancer treatments, no - but the really important stuff - birth control, a product that is now so "difficult" to get that, according to the admin, 98% of Catholic women already use it.

    So anyhow, in what way are your friends happier?

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  19. College student seems to imply that society is willing to pay for my children's expenses? hmmm Then I paid for their births why? I'll be paying for their private education why? I'm paying their health insurance premiums why? I'm paying for their dr visits why? And, while we're at it, their food, clothing, shelter, water, transportation, etc costs why? Because they are my responsibility, that's why! And, if people want to have sex, they should pay for the results of their sex acts themselves too! If that means paying for their dang contraceptions because they cant' abstain any better than an animal, that's their own choice! I don't want people putting the costs of their irresponsibility off onto me! I have enough costs of my own just trying to cover my costs of being responsible!
    Sorry, but your latest argument does not at all fly with me.

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  20. I guess I should clarify. I call sex outside of marriage irresponsible. Just in case that's not clear. And, by the grace of God, I have ALWAYS thought that. Even when I was in high school and college, and everyone around me, it seemed, was having sex outside of marriage.

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    1. Did anyone tell you you're amazing??? I'm a 21 year old college student and I also, by the Grace of God, think sex outside of marriage is irresponsible, and EVERYBODY AROUND ME (FRIENDS, FAMILY) are having sex outside of marriage. Thank God He saved me from this foolishness and culture of death!

      Delete
    2. No, Agnes, they didn't. Especially the guys I dated! ha! But good for you! Hold onto your virtue because this world will try to do everything to take it from you. God bless!

      Delete
  21. @Elizabeth & Mary

    The idea that Obama has moved forward on his health care in regards to contraception because he wants to influence the election is just absurd. Obama did not put forth a policy that health insurance carriers cover contraception just to spite Catholics. You are taking something personally that isn't personal--it's just a public policy that you don't happen to like. if you want to object to the mandate that is your right, but you needn't feel so persecuted.

    And I want to give a shout-out to college student. I was pondering those same ideas myself recently. I do get tired of right-to-lifers saying they "don't want to pay for people's sex lives" when in fact, they are forcing others to pay for theirs. An abortion costs a few hundred dollars. But pre-natal and delivery are many thousands of dollars--plus a lifetime of social services (which a child born to a woman who didn't want a child is very likely to need) will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Just saying.

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  22. Johanne, excuse my "religious speak"… we speak of "reverencing" God and other things in my lexicon. :) :)

    So, thus the question to College student: What do you reverence?

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    1. I'm sorry. I wasn't familiar with the term.

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    2. No worries! Grammatically, you had a right to wonder! :)

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    3. Yes, reverence does have a verb form, it is just used very rarely. My Google-fu shows that it is used in its verb form quite a bit more than I'd expect in religious discussion/context.

      I personally prefer the form "revere" in this context. But hey, the language is a living and evolving thing :-)

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    4. Yes, "to reverence" is used often in my little Catholic world. :)

      And, you are correct, language is one of those things that evolves and changes over time! (Unlike objective truth, ha ha.)

      Delete
  23. I do get tired of right-to-lifers saying they "don't want to pay for people's sex lives" when in fact, they are forcing others to pay for theirs. An abortion costs a few hundred dollars. But pre-natal and delivery are many thousands of dollars--plus a lifetime of social services (which a child born to a woman who didn't want a child is very likely to need) will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    So then, when human life comes from that act that is designed to make human life, maybe we should just abort these human lives? (Wait, we do… 54 million tiny corpses and counting…) And if those pesky lives get born by accident, we can leave them to die (like Obama voted to do, more than once; voting to deny medical care to children born alive after an attempted abortion). That saves a lot more money than treating them. And then, when there are just too many babies and kids and they get on our nerves or cost too much money, we could just drown them, or use a cheap bullet through the head…. (oops, I know that goes too far).

    But truly, that is the absurdity of this discussion.

    How about this: If you don't want a baby, don't do the baby-making-act?

    I know, call me crazy….

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  24. Johanne, I came across this article earlier today, about how the Chinese deal with the thorny issue of too many babies, too much expense, etc. What do you think of how they deal with the problem? Do you think their public policy goes to far?

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/like-pigs-in-the-slaughterhouse-the-day-chinese-officials-brutally-murdered/

    And if you don't mind my asking: What do you reverence? (Or if you prefer, what do you revere?)

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  25. Johanne, if those women don't want children, it's quite easy. Don't do the act that can lead to children. What's so hard about that? People did it for centuries! Now, in this modern culture, all of a sudden no one can control themselves? I bet they could if bc didn't exist! Certainly if abortion didn't exist! 100% of the time? Probably not. But I bet the percentages would be drastically better!

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  26. Basically, what I hear College Student and Johanne saying is: People are expensive. We need fewer of them.

    Do I have that right?

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  27. College student seems to imply that society is willing to pay for my children's expenses? hmmm Then I paid for their births why? I'll be paying for their private education why? I'm paying their health insurance premiums why? I'm paying for their dr visits why? And, while we're at it, their food, clothing, shelter, water, transportation, etc costs why? Because they are my responsibility, that's why! And, if people want to have sex, they should pay for the results of their sex acts themselves too! If that means paying for their dang contraceptions because they cant' abstain any better than an animal, that's their own choice!

    Michelle, thank you! Why on earth didn't I know that all this stuff could be paid for by others? I'll alert my poor husband, who has been working to pay for all our expenses.

    And if college student and Johanne only are talking about those in poverty, then let's get at the root of poverty. The single biggest determining factor of poverty is not race or location or anything other than single motherhood. Meaning, people having babies before they are married is the best indicator of poverty.

    Follow the basic morality that everyone used to understand (save sex for marriage, then have babies) and we won't have a need to "pay for" everyone's babies. They will have moms and dads and stable homes.

    Again, when did our societal standards start to sink so low? We are better than this, folks! Aim higher!

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  28. I think I'm a bit confused, so maybe someone can help me to understand. I'm confused about how someone else is paying for my children? Like someone above mentioned, I also don't have maternity coverage, so all bills are paid solely by myself. I homeschool, so there's no drain ob the school system. I pay for all of our food, our supplies, our healthcare. How is someone else paying for my sex life?

    I can only assume that we are talking solely about unintended pregnancies in an impoverished state, and turning that into a blanket statement for the whole population, correct? This is where I am confused. The sheer numbers of people dependent on gov't aid and resources has ballooned in the past fifty years.....corresponding directly to the time period that contraceptives have been widely available. Could it be that the more accurate cause for all of those costs is actually the false sense of "security" with a contraceptive?

    Like someone else said earlier, women like our grandmothers just avoided the sexual act if they weren't ready to have a baby. Sure, it wasn't perfect, and there were instances of uninterested pregnancy, but in looking at the prevalence of birth control and the current strain on social welfare programs, the comments above don't really hold up.

    Unless I'm missing something, and if that is the case, help me to see it.

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    1. Haha, unintended NOT uninterested. I really need to stop typing on my phone! Sorry!

      Delete
  29. Sharon, you questions are brilliant, and I hope that College Student will answer them very specifically, and not go off on a tangent (at least not till she's been specific. I am okay with tangents, but not avoidance).

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  30. I can only assume that we are talking solely about unintended pregnancies in an impoverished state, and turning that into a blanket statement for the whole population, correct? This is where I am confused. The sheer numbers of people dependent on gov't aid and resources has ballooned in the past fifty years.....corresponding directly to the time period that contraceptives have been widely available. Could it be that the more accurate cause for all of those costs is actually the false sense of "security" with a contraceptive?

    Heidi, I would love for someone to address this. Why haven't contraceptives yet brought about the utopia we were promised? Why has the opposite happened?

    Humanae Vitae #17 has sure been vindicated. Thanks, Pope Paul VI, way back in 1968….

    Consequences of Artificial Methods

    17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

    Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

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  31. I just recently found your blog, and I'm so glad! I have long struggled with how to live as a faithful Catholic in a culture that encourages promiscuity, selfishness, and minimalism. And if there is any silver lining in the cloud of the HHS mandate it is this- Catholics are being forced to confront the reality of Church teaching. You'd think as a cradle-Catholic who attended 12 years of Catholic school, I would have read or at least been taught some of the catechism in school. And you'd think maybe some of these topics- birth control, natural family planning, and the sanctity of marriage- might have been covered in my confirmation classes. Sadly, I have had to learn much of this on my own, and much of it recently. I didn't even know the word abortifacient until long after I graduated from college. My point is that, at least in the US, or specifically California, Church teaching has been passed over for feel-good, social-justice, cafeteria Catholicism. I'm not advocating a return to the Latin Mass, but, as Matthew Kelly puts it, "there's genius in Catholicism," and we've been afraid to embrace it and teach it in our churches, schools, and even homes. I can only pray that this latest slap in the face will encourage more Catholics to embrace the fullness of our Faith, and experience the joy and Grace that it brings. I hope that we will find out the truth of Church teaching, if we were not properly catechized. I hope that we will encourage our Priests, Bishops, and all Church leaders in the US to insist that our young people are taught the truth of Catholicism, rather than just the highlights. I hope this will be the wake-up call that so many US Catholics need. Despite what our politicians and Hollywood would have us believe, there really are non-negotiables in the faith. The Church does not aim to oppress anyone, but to free us from the slavery of self-deception. There can be no compromise on this issue, and no amount of verbal trickery can make this mandate acceptable.

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  32. We have a wonderful example of this very same political debate from 500 years ago! Remember King Henry VIII, of the many wives? When he wanted to get rid of his first wife and marry Anne Bolyn (sp?) he first tried mental gymnastics--no go. So he decided to make himself the head of the church in England and impose an oath on the people, swearing that they will recognize him as such. For refusal to swear the oath, St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher and others literally lost their heads. On his way to the chopping block, St. Thomas More let the king and his council "have it" on the subject of making laws that attempt to supersede the laws of the Almighty, he tried to explain the importance of the role of the papacy and why he couldn't swear to the oath. But then he said what was at bottom there: this isn't about oaths, the pope, divorce, or the throne of England or any of that. You're killing me because I won't go along with the King bedding whomever he wants whenever he wants! Really??? Yes, really. And our debate today, let's be honest, isn't about who's gonna pay, it isn't even about the constitution. Anyone taking a logical look at both can see that contraception is available on every corner but teen pregnancies are up, up, up. And this IS a direct frontal assault on religious freedom as guaranteed by the first amendment. And it's intentional. But what this is REALLY about--500 years hasn't changed human nature much--is sex. Women want the same apparent "walk away" freedom from casual sex that they think men have. And they're willing to do anything, ANYTHING, to get it.

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  33. "Anyone taking a logical look at both can see that contraception is available on every corner but teen pregnancies are up, up, up."

    No. Teen pregnancy rates are down, down, down.

    (http://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/LongDescriptors.htm)

    So are teen abortion rates, teen sexual activity, abortion rates overall, STD rates, rape cases, divorce rates, drug use, crime rates, violent crime rates. Look it up. This is a pet peeve of mine--there's a lot of talk about moral decline without any acknowledgement that most social indicators have been pointing UP for thirty years.

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  34. Got it! A supporting statistic from the very people who are peddling "accessible" contraceptives as a panacea. Well, that may be true where you live, Pedro. But my own eyeballs tell me otherwise. Nevertheless, granting your statistic, I'm saying that this fight is not about accessibility, health, or even the law as it's claimed, but about the freedom to engage in sexual activity without consequences. You're saying that freedom has been won. God help us.

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  35. "But my own eyeballs tell me otherwise."

    Well, there you have it. I can't argue with your eyeballs, especially since all I've got is objective data from those radicals at the CDC.

    "Nevertheless, granting your statistic..."

    Thank you for conceding that the truth is true.

    "...I'm saying that this fight is not about accessibility, health, or even the law as it's claimed, but about the freedom to engage in sexual activity without consequences."

    Okay, I'm confused. Leila's post seemed to say that this fight is about religious liberty and NOT about contraception. And that anyone who says otherwise is lying or distorting the truth. What, specifically, is this fight about?

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  36. I homeschool, so there's no drain ob the school system Me, too, Heidi. In fact half of my property taxes go to a school system that my children have NEVER set foot in.

    Even aside from a religious liberty issue - which I think this is, completely - there is a MASSIVE difference between being MANDATED to pay for someone's lack of self-discipline and self-control and paying, through taxes, those services which benefit society.

    Children benefit society. They are the next innovators and inventors and, most importantly (from a societal standpoint) the next tax-payers. But, I'm guessing that College Student and Johanne would argue that "unwanted children" don't benefit society. I'd personally argue differently but that's beside the point. "Unwanted children" can be avoided, not by intentionally thwarting the act by which they are created, but by avoiding the act. (suppressing my Michelle Tanner impression)

    I'm going to say something completely radical and College Student is going to have a COW.

    A right is something that is afforded to EVERYONE regardless of sex, race, creed, and AGE. And it's not afforded by the government. It's a government's job to create LAWS that protect rights, not to create rights.

    SEX (without consequences) is NOT a right. My 2 year old does not have a "right" to sex. My 4 year old does not have a "right" to sex. Heck, my 10 year old does not have a "right" to sex, regardless of what Planned Parenthood thinks.

    They have a right to live, they have a right to food and a right to shelter and every thing else they as individuals NEED to LIVE. They have a right to their inherent dignity and right to faith. Just as EVERYONE else does.

    There is even a right to procreate (which, incidentally, involves sex - AWESOME!)

    But there is no right to sex without consequences.

    And just because "men" (which I put into quotations because they're not real men but caricatures of men) have failed to acknowledge this and act like barbarous animals does NOT mean that women should stoop so low as to imitate their irresponsible, childish, animalistic, unholy, ridiculous behavior. And then to claim that this behavior is a "right" AND that that "right" should be PAID FOR by EVERYONE?!?!?!?!?!?! Seriously?!?!?!

    Not going to happen.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed, Bethany. Someone should give Mother Nature a call to let her know that the U.S. Government deemed sex without babies a "human right" -- a human right that is so important that employers and private insurance must provide it at no cost (unlike that pesky food we have to pay for ourselves!). Mother Nature is so behind in the times with this sex-naturally-makes-babies stuff ;).

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  37. most social indicators have been pointing UP for thirty years

    We've talked about this before, Pedro, but I will just ask: Do you think all those indicators are looking better since the intro of contraception and the hook-up culture? In other words, what were all those numbers before the sexual revolution as compared to now? Are teen pregnancies/abortion/STD rates/divorce rates, etc. all down since the sixties brought us ubiquitous contraception and free love? (And please don't count married teen sex/pregnancies into the pre-sexual revolution stats. Many 18- and 19-year olds were getting married back then.)

    And fyi for anyone interested, here's more on how widespread contraception does not prevent abortion; quite the contrary:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/17/studies-birth-control-contraception-dont-cut-abortions/

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  38. Pedro, the fight at hand is about religious liberty (the gov't cannot force Catholics to commit sin, on pain of fines and jail). And now that the left has turned it into a discussion about contraception -- meaning they are lying and saying that we are trying to wrest the contraception out of your hands through legal means, and they are lying and saying things such as I emphasized in the post, about what Catholics supposedly believe -- we have to address that front, too. They have us fighting both angles (clever). So, yes, you are going to see us fighting government oppression of the Church on one hand, and also fighting for truth on the issue of contraception. Is that surprising?

    Also, you say we are so much more moral these days. Tell me, please (before this video gets banned, as it has on YouTube), why does this sort of thing go on today?

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/how-planned-parenthood-hooks-kids-on-sex-warning-graphic-material

    And in what moral universe would the taxpayer be paying millions to this group? And in what moral universe would the President of the United States have the head of this organization (Cecile Richards) as a top advisor in the White House, including (as ABC News reported) as an inner circle adviser on the HHS "compromise"? Again, please look at the video. Watch it all. Then tell me, where are we and how did we get here?

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  39. Bethany, exactly, and that begs the question (that I have asked before):

    Where do rights come from?

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  40. I have a couple of thoughts...

    First, I think that while serious, the talk of incarceration and execution is way off base. We are nowhere near that level as a society, and the society will have to change in extraordinary ways before anything like that can come to pass.

    If anything, I think perhaps people are jumping the gun there because they might actually prefer that to what seems far more likely an outcome, which is that secular society will continue to isolate, disenfranchise, and ignore religious people. Why would they have to incarcerate and execute you when they can just drown you out with a flood of memes and viral videos, legislate things that make you close your doors and turn away from the public square?

    Second, the idea of a war on women / war on contraception, etc. by the Republicans that the left is promoting and I believe ~College Student mentioned, is equally ridiculous. Even if you were to stipulate that there are plenty on the Right that would be quite happy to have contraceptive access limited, there is no reasonable, legal, or legislative path to such an end that would work. Sure, you'll get some State Legislatures passing some bills that will get a lot of media attention and ultimately be struck down. But there is no real value in such an agenda for the Republicans.

    Political parties are inherently secular, inherently about secular power, and inherently about secular compromise. Rhetoric in the end is meaningless. Even Obama really has changed very little in the way of government policies. Of course those handful of things he did change have stirred up controversy, but still all in all, not much is different now than under Bush, and not much will be different under the next guy, whoever that is, and the one after that.

    The majority of Republicans who are backing the Church position here don't care a whit about Mortal Sins or contraception, they are in it for the angle of restricting government influence and reducing the scope of Federal intervention in day to day life. If it wasn't this issue it would be another. At least this is more interesting than arguing about guns and the 2nd Amendment :-p

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  41. More common sense about contraception and abortion rates:

    http://www.jillstanek.com/2012/02/more-sex-with-contraception-more-unplanned-pregnancies/

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  42. @Leila - Well, there are two answers to that question.

    In practical terms, we get our "Rights" from the Constitution. Insofar as when you typically hear people debating "rights" they are talking about the protections of civil liberty that are enshrined and defined in the Constitution.

    Of course, from a more philosophical standpoint, the Founders and Framers referenced that the inalienable rights of man were endowed upon them by their Creator... Essentially recognizing the ideal of basic human rights that all were entitled to, and that could not be taken or even easily bargained away through the social contract to a government.

    So it really depends on the context of discussion. When we are debating free expression of religion in this debate, we are talking about a specific Constitutional law provision.

    When we talk about the human rights of people abroad in war zones, and whether the UN should enforce sanctions or intervention, I suppose they are referencing the UN definitions of human rights, etc.

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  43. Nicholas, I wish you were right, that jail and such is not going to happen. But already (and quickly) we see that Catholic institutions are closing, institutions which have served the poor and children for a hundred years. They are closing because of gov't laws that make it impossible to stay open and not run afoul of those unjust laws:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/08/catholics-your-misguided-compassion.html

    In Canada and England, they already have brought Christians before tribunals, and yes, have jailed folks who preach about the immorality of homosexuality, for example.

    If the Church is told to pay millions in fines because of this HHS mandate, and our refusal to go along, then yes, when citizens do not pay fines, or follow the law, they do go to jail (IRS anyone?). So, I am not sure why you are so sure this will not happen, unless you don't believe that Catholics are serious about not complying with this unjust law?

    As for executions: Not yet, of course. But how does it get to the point where governments execute citizens for thought crimes or political speech which is forbidden? We have been a nation under God, but when that changes, why would the leaders of such a nation, who must fight for "equality" and make it happen, not look to more severe penalties for agitators? We see it in the world all around us, as we speak. Are they different in their humanity than we are? Could it never happen here as we get further away from God? You see what happened in the "civilized" nations of Europe, and the Soviet Union, even some of our readers' lifetimes. Why are we so amazingly more moral that it could not happen here? It only takes a generation or two to forget what made America great, and different (and religious liberty was a huge part of that).

    I think the generation just after me (college student's generation) has largely no clue why America is here. And when "equality" (of outcome) is the highest good (far above goodness and freedom), watch out.

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  44. But Nicholas, the "protection" of rights is a far different question from where those rights come from. The Declaration of Independence tells us where rights come from: Our Creator. And, those rights, because they are from God, are inalienable.

    The Constitution simply lays out how those rights will be protected by the gov't. The rights don't come from the gov't. Can you imagine? If rights are granted to the people by the gov't, then they can just as easily be taken away by the gov't. That is tyranny.

    Atheists and secularists must believe that rights come from other people (the gov't being the highest authority for humans). This is scary and dangerous! Obviously, people of faith and those who founded our nation did not believe that rights come from other people. That is why they so clearly stated that right are "inalienable" and are "endowed" by our "Creator". That was to guard against the tyranny we see creeping in. Think of all the new "rights" the left has "created"! Totally made up rights. And then they enforce….

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  45. Well, I did say they'd close down... and yes, Europe which does not have the intense devotion to "Free Speech" that the US does, has a history of shutting down speech that causes problems.

    But we still have a long way to go to get there.

    I believe though that accepting that such a fate is inevitable may be counterproductive to trying to work with what we have... But I have been wrong before, so go with what works for you.

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  46. In practical terms, we get our "Rights" from the Constitution. Insofar as when you typically hear people debating "rights" they are talking about the protections of civil liberty that are enshrined and defined in the Constitution.

    I understand what you're saying Nicholas, but it's necessary to emphasize the fact that the "rights" in the Constitution are not afforded by the Constitution. The Constitution simply defines and protects them.

    Even without the Constitution those would be still be rights, they just wouldn't be protected by the government - which is WHOLE other tangent.

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  47. Nicholas, as long as human beings have free will, nothing (that can be under our control) is "inevitable". I hope that grace and truth and goodness do prevail. But I don't want to ignore history, the trajectory we are on (esp. with the young), and the nature of concupiscence. But nothing is inevitable, and I hope I didn't give that impression. It's just not looking good at the moment, which is why we have been called to fight, as Archbishop Chaput and others have said.

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  48. @Bethany - I did in fact specify that later in the same post. But it is also quite necessary for discussion to differentiate between legal rights and general human rights.

    @Leila - True, and agreed. I suppose by "inevitable" I was more or less warning against the self-fulfilling prophecy concept.

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  49. @Leila - Going back to the Rights clarification issue...

    We have inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. If we stick with the language in the Declaration of Independence for ease of reference, those are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    When we talk about "Constitutional rights" we are obviously discussing as you noted, specific legal protections. However, equally clearly, the government, through the consent of the governed in the social contract, also /claims the power to usurp those rights in some circumstances./

    The Bill of Rights was intended as guidelines and limitations on such usurpation.

    For example, take the most basic and simple right - life. The government claims the authority to execute you. That is as clear a violation of a "right" as I can think of :-p the trick is that the government needs a damned good reason, and due process granted, before that occurs. So yes, the government contends that the social contract allows say, murderers, to effectively concede their right to life.

    Other criminals concede their right to liberty.

    So even at its most basic level, if we are talking social contract theory and the relationship of "inalienable rights" and the power of government, it is far from clear cut.

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  50. I believe though that accepting that such a fate is inevitable may be counterproductive to trying to work with what we have...

    But, Nicholas, look at where accepting that such a fate is implausible has taken us. I (until quite recently) used to be of the mind that, "everything will turn out all right, I'm sure these people are really trying to do good, we should just trust them." Well, what I've come to understand is that their perceived goods are just that: perceptions based on fallacious presuppositions grounded not upon inalienable rights, but rather upon mandated individual benefits. The common good has been hijacked by individual entitlement.

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  51. Yeah, sorry Nicholas. Trying to read and wrangle a 5mth old and type at the same time is very difficult. *sheepish grin*

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  52. @LJP - You are not making a fair comparison... How does accepting a "fate" of incarceration and execution as implausible have anything to do with the current state of affairs? Because that is the "fate" we are discussing.

    I never said that assuming "everything will work out the way we want" was the way to go either :-p That is a far cry from what I said. What I said, or at least intended to say, was that we can't assume the worst, and assume the political and legal processes fail, and assume society will turn against us so dramatically, lest in how we respond to such assumptions, we bring them about.

    As to your observation that the debate is how people view entitlements and the role of government in daily life... That seems a pretty accurate assessment.

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  53. Gov't claims the right to usurp those rights in certain circumstances, yes. For the protection of citizens. But not at the whim of the president, or to impose a lesser "right".

    I can't have my religious freedom (a human right) stripped from me because a group of secularists wants free contraception from me. And, a child in the womb cannot have his right to life (a human right) stripped because a woman (or the sleazy man) wants to live life unencumbered by responsibility.

    God's laws always supersede man's laws, wherever a conflict occurs.

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  54. The tendency to treat human life and sexuality on a strictly financial level is disturbing. It's also just so... inaccurate. First, well-established studies show that children born from married parents are far less likely to be in poverty or in need. Those who wait to have sex until marriage (meaning they have a zero percent chance of a crisis pregnancy outside marriage) are doing society a favor by establishing a stable financial situation in which to raise children. As others have already pointed out, the gov't does NOT pay for those children... private insurance, private income, etc pays those bills. My Dh and I sure haven't had any gov't help, and we make a modest income! I can't wait for my most recent ER bill due to a pregnancy complication. Trust me, no gov't help is going to pay that bill.

    And children will grow up to contribute financially to society too... we act like children just suck all our resources away. No, they are an investment in the future and contributors to society. They'll be paying the taxes or participating in charities to help those in need for generations to come. And of course, this argument is so, so tired anyway as Leila has addressed this time and again: pro-lifers personally put a lot of time and energy into helping those in crisis pregnancy situations, above and beyond paying taxes. Trust me, we'd all rather help women in crisis (as well as help educate folks on making responsible preventative choices) then pay for contraceptives and abortions. We've been doing it for years already.

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  55. What I said, or at least intended to say, was that we can't assume the worst, and assume the political and legal processes fail, and assume society will turn against us so dramatically, lest in how we respond to such assumptions, we bring them about.

    And yet, we can't sit lazily about, as we've done for 40+ years. Without a call to fight, without a serious warning cry to the faithful, we will be run right over (there are many important people ready and willing to do so right now). At least now, we have begun to awaken some very sleepy folk. Hooray for that! And I, for one, will keep sounding the alarm to those who slumber. Jesus said to be vigilant and stay awake. We are like sheep among wolves. (His words, not mine… ;) )

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  56. Trust me, we'd all rather help women in crisis (as well as help educate folks on making responsible preventative choices) then pay for contraceptives and abortions. We've been doing it for years already.

    Oh my gosh, thank you for saying this so well, Sarah!

    And Elizabeth, well stated!

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  57. To an extent, you have a point, Leila. Today's social indicators look great compared to the 1970s but not as good (though not horrible, either) compared to the 1950s. But, to be intellectually honest, you have to grapple with the trends. If you want to argue that contraception leads to moral decay, you HAVE to explain why, over the past 30 years, Americans--especially young people--have been behaving better and better.

    To your specific questions:

    1) Teen birth rates peaked in the late 1950s, and are lower now than they've been since the 1940s. True, that's not the same as pregnancy rates--it doesn't factor out abortions, for one thing. If I have time, I'll keep looking for long-term teen pregnancy rates. Or you could. And, as you correctly note, many of those teens married. You know I can't factor that out of the stats; we just have to keep it in mind.

    (http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/TBR_1940-2006.pdf)

    2) We don't know how many abortions were performed yearly before Roe v. Wade. In 2008, there were 3.99 abortions performed per 1000 people. That's lower than in 1974 (4.20/1000 people), the year after Roe v. Wade. Again, if you think that contraception leads to abortion, you should explain that trend: is contraception less common now than it was in 1974? What about 1980?

    http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/graphusabrate.html

    3) Syphilis and gonorrhea rates are LOWER now than they were before the sexual revolution. In fact, syphilis rates peaked in 1947. And gonorrhea rates reached an all-time low in 2009.

    http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats09/figures/trends-figure.htm

    (HIV and chlamydia rates can't be compared pre/post sexual revolution: HIV wasn't around until later, and chlamydia wasn't recognized as an STD until the sixties and then wasn't properly screened until recently.)

    4) Divorce rates are significantly higher than they were in the 1950s, but they have been dropping since 1980. That's a three-decade trend, not a short-term fluctuation. And, before you ask, that's the divorce rate/1000 married women, so it factors in the decreasing marriage rate.

    http://www.bsos.umd.edu/socy/vanneman/socy441/trends/divorce.html

    (NOTE: That graph stops in the late 1990s, but trust me, the trend has continued. Or don't trust me--look up the stats yourself.)

    5) Crime rates are higher than they were in the 1950s, which was the least violent time in American history. But current rates are very low historically, and still trending downward, which is remarkable in a deep recession.

    http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2010/06/16/a-crime-puzzle-violent-crime-declines-in-america/

    6) The only rape statistics I found start in 1973, and they show a significant decline in attempted and completed rapes since then. If you can find data that goes back further, post it, by all means.

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/rape.cfm

    Okay, I shouldn't post anymore today. I'd like to take on your lifenews article, which is deeply deceptive, but I've spent too long on this already.

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  58. Agreed, Sarah. (When do we not agree ;)?.) As has already been stated, we should not value people based on financial measures. For those who do argue based on financial parameters, we also must remember that children grow up to care for their aging parents, often contributing thousands of hours of care and companionship. Larger families have greater resources to help mom and dad as they age. So these "burdensome" children turn around and relieve the potential financial burdens of aging relatives. They make social security less vital and restore dignity to the full spectrum of life.

    We've already heard the "usefulness" arguments from modern societies for euthanasia and pondered guilting our parents into early deaths for their expensive golden years. Children are the ultimate financial and emotional security for our aging society. For the religious, the Church provides those services. We will always need ministries to help those who do not have grown children able to offer support or who have other disadvantages, but the main population of our society should not be in the dire position of lacking family and help in their old age. Sadly, our elimination/avoidance of those "burdensome" and "unwanted" children have left us alone and "burdensome" in our later years.

    It reminds me of the annoying studies that cite parents as being unhappy compared to their childless peers. The studies only study young parenthood in the most stressful years. Full-spectrum studies show that middle-aged and older parents are happier than their childless peers, and their happiness increases with more children. Our society likes to put the baby and toddler years under a microscope and ignore all the important phases of life.

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  59. Nicholas,

    Leila basically stated my premise. Once we remove certain fates from possibility in our own minds then we simply move our line-in-the-sand further toward the sea, to our own demise.

    "we can't assume the worst, and assume the political and legal processes fail, and assume society will turn against us so dramatically"

    54 million of our own children have been killed "on demand, without apology" by government sanction and overwhelming societal approval/reticence and we shouldn't assume the worst?

    We shouldn't assume the failure of political and legal processes? We shouldn't assume society will dramatically turn against us? I'm sorry for restating your comments in such a way, but I'm fairly certain a cursory review of history will confirm that political and legal processes can and do fail on a fairly regular basis. Has not society already dramatically turned against us? Have not the majority of Catholics dramatically turned against their own faith by dissenting en masse against a main tenet of that faith regarding human sexuality? Are these not the reasons we are in this current state of affairs? At least ideologically?

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  60. @Leila - Well we were just discussing what rights were, not specifically that context, so I don't have an issue there.

    @LJP - Have at! I was merely stating my opinion. However, I will still hold that there is no hope of reconciliation with both parties assuming the worst of the other. Of course, it may also be that there is no feasible middle ground, and if so, it is what it is.

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  61. Pedro, I don't like the statistic about abortions/1,000 people. When measuring abortion, it should be measured by pregnancies. On the surface, 1,000 people sounds like a nice parameter, but it includes all children, men, and elderly into the equation. While that also seems okay when comparing 1974 vs. 2008, since both stats have the same parameters of 1,000 people, we have to consider changes to our population. For example, baby boomers as post-menopausal folks comprise much larger chunks of our population than in 1974, when baby-boomers comprised a large portion of the fertile population. So we would have to somehow account for the number of actual pregnancies and fertile women in our society as compared to 1974 if we are using statistics that measure things per 1,000 people. The demographics are different, and that makes the statistic difficult to analyze.

    If you look at the rest of the graph -- abortion ration, abortion percentage, and per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, the rates for abortion stayed the same or were slightly worse in 2008. So no progress. In fact, it is slightly worse than 1974. So if things are worse for those parameters, even if you argue they are unchanged, how has contraception helped? How does this statistic help your point?

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  62. I haven't analyzed the other links yet, and I will look at those later. I just noticed a glaring problem with the "per 1,000 people" parameter and took a closer look. Thanks!

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  63. Excuse me, minor correction -- When measuring contraception-abortion relationship, one should measure both pregnancies and fertile women, not the entire population with a shifting demographic.

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  64. Just jumping in here, as you can see, this is not just a "Catholic" issue - this is a constitutional issue:http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/20/obama-faces-more-lawsuits-over-pro-abortion-hhs-mandate/
    A reformed Presbyterian college has now followed suit - and I believe that I read earlier this week that a Baptist college had also done so.

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  65. Elizabeth, thanks for jumping in and taking on Pedro's rosy stats. I have done that before with him, and I am not up to it again. So please, maybe you can be the one to show him (or at least the readers) where he is going wrong. What you've done so far is very helpful!

    But I will address Pedro on this point: I am a child of the 80s. A public school kid, K-12. I grew up on Madonna and M-TV, and lived on a party-hearty college campus. I am have never been sheltered from what is out there, and I myself have lived the "glories" of the secular Planned Parenthood life.

    I also, 25 years later, have my own kids in college, high school and middle school (public, secular). I know all about the culture of kids today (as do my tweens, teens and grown-up kids). I live it, I am in it every day. Your statement that "over the past 30 years, Americans--especially young people--have been behaving better and better" on the moral front truly blows my mind. Do you have older kids yet? I'm guessing not (I could be wrong!), because I don't know how you could say this if you did.

    Here's just one fun little tidbit (among many, many, many) that went on recently with the "moral youth" in this culture (sanctioned by adults, I might add): My daughter sat at a table on her college campus mall, where other tables are set up. Her table was for the Catholic Newman Center. The table next to hers was "the girls in pink" (Planned Parenthood… you know, the ones we fund with millions of our tax dollars). They were promoting the Vagina Monologues (a very common play put on by our "increasingly moral" youth, which celebrates not only lesbianism and promiscuity, but also lesbian child rape; look it up). The girls in pink had vagina-shaped cookies to hand out, and were shouting out to have people come and eat the cookies: "Come on over! you can lick these p******!" Laughing, proud, having a great old time. Not one scintilla of shame about it. Nice, moral generation…. And like I said, the adults allow it and even laud it.

    That is one of a thousand and ten examples of the depravity occurring, every day, with the generation that is not so much immoral now as amoral.

    Your stats can't touch what you are apparently missing all around you. We have sunk to new lows in morality, and getting lower and more desensitized every minute. But somehow you believe that youth are "behaving better and better".

    I won't even tell you what my sixth grader came hold and told me that the kids are doing and saying. He's one of the "cool kids" and the environment at this public charter school (which has the "good kids" enrolled) made him beg me to homeschool him. He was pleading for his innocence. Again, I am a public school kid and I thought nothing could shock me. I have been shocked and shocked some more. I don't know how you are missing this, Pedro.

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  66. Fair points, Elizabeth. First, it's fine if you prefer to use the percentage of women of child-bearing age.

    Second: If we use that stat, or any of the other indicators, it's true there's no progress since 1974. But there is progress since 1975, and tremendous progress since abortion's peak, in 1981. The question remains: how do you explain that?

    Also, remember that Leila, like the lifenews article she cites, doesn't argue that contraception has no effect on teen pregnancy, abortion, STDs, etc. She argues that contraception LEADS to those things. And the long term data does not support that. Unless you think that contraception is less available now than it was in 1974. Or 1975. Or 1981.

    So my original point wasn't that contraception helps those things--it was that it doesn't hurt. But if you want, we can go there: the abortion rate has dropped dramatically, starting in 1981. If you think that effective and available contraception didn't play a part in that, then what did?

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  67. the abortion rate has dropped dramatically, starting in 1981. If you think that effective and available contraception didn't play a part in that, then what did?

    Acceptance (loss of stigma) of single motherhood, no doubt, and that the nation is becoming increasingly pro-life (thanks to a widespread use of sonograms, which reveals the humanity of the unborn).

    And yes, to reiterate: Contraception leads to abortion. Even the liberal Supreme Court understands the connection that you miss:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/01/contraception-leads-to-abortion-come.html

    If contraception does not lead to abortion, then when widespread contraception came on the scene, abortions should have been thrown into reverse. Did that occur? Are our abortion rates lower than they were in the mid-sixties? If contraception use prevents abortions, then we sure should be.

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  68. "So please, maybe you can be the one to show him (or at least the readers) where he is going wrong."

    Absolutely. If I'm wrong, show me where. I've looked at these numbers a lot, though, and I'm pretty sure they're on my side.

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  69. Your stats can't touch what you are apparently missing all around you.

    Leila! I don't want to put words in your mouth, but apparently you are using your eyeballs too, and wondering what exactly statistics SHOW! Like me, maybe you hate to see a government agency deny with numbers what you face every day out in the world! I had to drop out of the conversation and do some non-federally funded education of my children for a while, but in answer to Pedro, above...when I say this ISN'T about liberty and the first amendment, I mean simply this: what bizarre force is at work that would lead people to glibly throw away their first amendment rights in this manner? Where, may I ask is the ACLU? (crickets) Maybe they don't care right now. Maybe they are not Catholic or even religious. But the first amendment takes in a lot, and we're letting the government step right on in and violate it! WHY? Where's our spunk here? My answer: and I admit this is a theory: the desire to have equal walk-away power in the sexual arena has trumped all reason, logic, patriotism and everything else. Only a lust-destroyed populace could let this mandate get by. As a Catholic I do believe that sin destroys reason and the ability to see straight.

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  70. Pedro, it is fair to debate over the "whys" of that curve on the date. I did notice that rates went up and then fell; however, it begs more questions for me. Contraception was available for that entire uptick and drop, so contraception alone is not responsible for the drop since the 1980s on that graph.

    Another factor -- Our population is more pro-life than ever. My generation, those in our 30's, are survivors of the age of abortion. We react strongly to the loss of our siblings and neighbors. Drops in abortions for overall populations since the 1980s could easily relate to a more pro-life society.

    Right now, I am looking for unplanned pregnancy stats -- NOT teen pregnancy stats. That is different -- from the 1950s up to today. I am not finding very many reliable sources, so it may take me a while. For example, I found many sources that only counted unplanned pregnancies that resulted in live births, so that fails to account for the number of aborted unplanned pregnancies. Most statistics focus on teen pregnancies, which are problematic since marriage and babies in the teen years were not unusual or discouraged in prior generations. Those statistics also fail to consider that married women and older women have unplanned pregnancies.

    One thing I do know -- The current unplanned pregnancy rate hovers around 50% in our contraceptive society, and most women use contraception in our society. That's huge! This has been true for all my OB's, who comment on their percentage of "unplanned" babies. I have doubts that, prior to contraception, the unplanned pregnancy rate was close to 50%. Then we must study the number of abortions resulting from unplanned pregnancies. I also want to look at the post-Roe-v.-Wade unplanned pregnancy rate and the abortion rate of those pregnancies. My theory -- If unplanned pregnancies as a whole are significantly higher than pre-contraception United States, then abortions are likely much higher in comparison as well.

    I am willing to bet that both the unplanned pregnancy rates and abortion rates were much lower in the 1950's, even if that era was not perfect. I know, I know -- Abortion wasn't legal, right? But that's part of the point. With all are "safe sex" and abortion options, we probably can't even come close to the effectiveness of a pre-contraceptive society where people abstained until ready for children.

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  71. "If contraception does not lead to abortion, then when widespread contraception came on the scene, abortions should have been thrown into reverse. "

    Abortion wasn't legal in the mid 1960s. That's one flaw in the studies you've cited. If abortion and contraception both become available at the same time, of course their incidence is going to rise simultaneously. Which is more or less what happened in the US.

    "Acceptance (loss of stigma) of single motherhood, no doubt,"

    That's a good answer. I agree that's part of it.

    "...and that the nation is becoming increasingly pro-life (thanks to a widespread use of sonograms, which reveals the humanity of the unborn)."

    So we're becoming more pro-life as contraception becomes more effective, available, and accepted? Doesn't that directly contradict Pope Paul VI's 1968 "prophecy"?

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  72. Pedro, I just want to test whether we are even on the same page with what "morality" means, or what "behaving better and better" means.

    Let's imagine a make-believe land where everyone is sterilized at age 12. In this land, having sex with oneself and others, early and often, is encouraged and practiced. Within the sexual sphere, self-control, virtue, a sense of the sacred, honor and fidelity is not practiced or even thought about. The entertainment watched (by children and adults) confirms this mentality, as does the education system. In this land, marriage is still popular to a degree (though fidelity is not inherent to it).

    The stats of this land are that there are no abortions and the divorce rate is holding steady (for those fewer and fewer who do marry).

    Are those stats a sign for you that things are getting better, morally speaking?

    Again, I am not trying to give an exact analogy to today's situation in America. I am just trying to ascertain what "getting better and better" (morally speaking) actually means to you.

    I think we may be talking about two different concepts. Because I can envision (in my imagination) a land where there is no abortion and where there is a low divorce rate, but that in no way would make me assume that "Hey, there's a moral people!"

    Thanks!

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  73. Elizabeth:

    "Our population is more pro-life than ever. "

    Again, don't you see a contradiction in that? That's my whole point: all of these "bad" things are available to us, and yet we're behaving better and better.

    The rest of what you've written is good food for thought, and I look forward to seeing what you find. I have GOT to check out for the day, though, so best of luck until tomorrow.

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  74. I do hope you come back and address some of my points, Pedro. Specifically my point at 10:55 (what is "morality" to you?) and also the experiences of what actually goes on today with (an increasingly amoral) youth? The "girls in pink" and all?

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  75. I understand your point, Pedro, that we are more pro-life in a contraceptive society. But we are more pro-life because we have hindsight to show us the ineffectiveness and tragedies of contraception and abortion. So that does not justify more liberal contraception and abortion policies. Once we realize something is wrong, and more and more people realize it is wrong from living in that reality, we don't then deem it "good" based on our new-found moral. That's kind of like saying the Holocaust was good because we now respect life more and realize our human capabilities and propensity for evil in society. Yes, we learned a lot from WWII, but no one would then advocate a continuation of the Holocaust based on this benefit of increased awareness and respect for life.

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  76. "Our population is more pro-life than ever. "

    Pedro, not to put words in Elizabeth's mouth (she is doing great!), but I don't think she meant that we are more pro-life now than we were in 1960! She is saying that we are increasingly pro-life in the past decade or two, because we have a growing feeling that we don't want our generation being slaughtered at the rate of 1 out of 3. And the ultrasound has shown the humanity of the unborn (most people still are not full-scale for murder, even if they still want sexual license).

    She is not saying that we are more "pro-life" now than before the widespread acceptance and availability of contraception.

    Hope that makes sense, and Elizabeth, correct me if I'm wrong.

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  77. Elizabeth, our comments "passed in the mail"… Your comment was excellent! Thank you!!

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  78. Haha! Thanks, Leila! I like the way you put that and, yes, I agree :).

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  79. Father Leo's video is absolutely hilarious.

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  80. Elizabeth K, you have a great blog! I hope people will check it out!

    http://elizabethk-fthnfort.blogspot.com/2012/02/some-consciences-are-more-consciency.html

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  81. I love the video you added, Leila! haha! Also, this conversation reminds me of an article I read earlier this morning...at the time that I read it, I wasn't too crazy about the message I thought it would send the other side...and how they might interpret it. I don't want to demonize others because I don't think it will help anything. But then I come back on this site and read the comments from pro-choicers, and I start to think that maybe pro-choicers really DON'T like people.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/a-scary-and-simple-fact-pro-aborts-dont-like-people

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  82. Abortion wasn't legal in the mid 1960s.

    That's right. So, how did we get to the place that abortion was legalized and accepted?

    Well, one prong was that we adpoted the contraceptive mentality. (We want sex, but we don't want babies; "I have the right to sex without babies!") Contraception first, then abortion.

    Another prong was the "right to privacy" (legally) which was first introduced with Griswold vs. Connecticut (a contraception case) and was the precedent for the "right to privacy" on which Roe v. Wade was based (legalizing abortion across the board).

    So, you sorta proved my point. Contraception leads to abortion.

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  83. Pedro (and others),

    Have you seen this article?

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/for-younger-mothers-out-of-wedlock-births-are-the-new-normal/

    Over 1/2 of all babies born to women under 30 are now born out of wedlock. So maybe teen pregnancies are down. But the issue for poverty is not specifically teen pregnancy, but babies born to single mothers.

    And, Stop the Press! This is a direct quote from the article in the NYTimes!-- "What’s most troubling about these figures is that marriage is good for children."

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  84. Over 1/2 of all babies born to women under 30 are now born out of wedlock.

    Manda, that is seriously frightening! I am not kidding, that is disastrous for a society. And Pedro, you think that young people are morally "better and better"? I don't know...

    Manda, hard to believe that the NYTimes said that marriage is good for children... whoa!

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  85. So we're becoming more pro-life as contraception becomes more effective, available, and accepted? Doesn't that directly contradict Pope Paul VI's 1968 "prophecy"?

    Nope, because the use of contraception is not what has made us more pro-life. Not at all.

    And the Pope, by the way, was speaking to the whole world, not just one nation. But let's look at America: Birth control and the sexual revolution was in full swing when he wrote those words in '68. Within five years, abortion was legalized in America across the board, when even in '68 such a thing would have seemed unthinkable.

    I guess his prophecy was right on target.

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  86. I should have mentioned that two of my last three comments were directed at you, Pedro. Thanks!

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    1. Whoa... actually, Pedro, I guess I directed something to you in my comment to Manda as well. Ha ha, my brain needs a jump start, ugh! Sorry!

      Delete
  87. The young parents of Lorain said their reliance on the government safety net encouraged them to stay single and that they didn’t trust their youthful peers to be reliable partners.

    That is from the NYTimes article. Gosh, that is a lot to think about, isn't it? "Reliance on gov't safety net" is encouraging them to stay single moms? (And even encouraging them to become single moms in the first place, I'm guessing.)

    And no "reliable partners": Why should the men commit to anything when they can pretty much have sex when they want and then go home and play video games? Again, the crisis of manhood is evident. And in a world without fathers, without traditional sexual morality, and without stable families, why should we expect things to get any better? It's going to get worse.

    More and more, it becomes obvious that the Church's truths -- Christ's truths -- are the only hope.

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  88. Leila, you mentioned the crisis of manhood, and that is something I've been thinking about, too. When I think of women my mom's age, like I mentioned to College Student, I think of the music that men used to listen to. The music back then was romantic! The men were trying to win the woman's heart. Contrast that to what is on the radio now... oh boy. Can't tell you the number of times I've said to my son, "What is wrong with those women? Why do they accept treatment like that from men?" If he tries to pull a "what's wrong with this song" I promise to look up the lyrics when we get home and read them with him - or better yet, I sing along until he changes the station. Really, the attitude of men toward women in popular music is heartbreaking.

    Pedro, do you disagree? Do you see an enlightened attitude toward women in music that I am missing?

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  89. I'm kind of proud that he's my bishop :)

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  90. A very liberal friend on FB just sent this article, and I would appreciate it if the more medically inclined could address the medical claims that the Pill is actually good for you and should be given to nuns etc.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-potts-the-pill-revisited-20120220,0,4953131.story

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  91. As the doctor in this article states: You don't take a carcinogen to avoid cancer.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/nuns-on-the-pill-an-intelligent-way-to-help-holy-women

    There's more from the doc about this silly proposal that made the rounds a while back.

    (And, the article addresses the "inanimate object" issue that we talked about on this blog.)

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  92. To your specific questions:

    1) Teen birth rates peaked in the late 1950s, and are lower now than they've been since the 1940s. True, that's not the same as pregnancy rates--it doesn't factor out abortions, for one thing.


    That's a pretty major thing.

    You have to add abortions to that rate to to see true trend.

    The getting pregnant part tells a lot about morality, perhaps even more so than what happens after.

    If all the teen pregnancies ended in abortion, so your teen birth rate stat went to zero, we'd all be celebrating that the societal morality rate (if there is such a measurable thing) is at an all time high, right?

    Because this would reflect that society has high morals. Right? No. You can't hang your hat on that and say "we're so much better than we were".

    Next, your divorce rate stat - What are the stats on people living together vs getting married?

    Because this would never show up in the stat. But from a morality standpoint, living together vs. being married proves two different points.

    Your stat is not a pure #, it's looking at marriages vs. divorces, not accounting for those who never marry, yet who co-habitate.

    The true measure for morality is: are people still getting married and staying married? Another alternative is not to get married, just shack up, yes? If that doesn't show up in your stat then you're not measuring morality.

    Your stats don't prove an improvement of morality because they leave out a lot of info that factors in.

    How about one stat that shines the light on morality -- the use of profanity in public. What do you think about today?

    Let's not look at obvious medical statistics.

    How about a stat on how kids respect their parents nowadays?

    The stat of people taking care of their neighbors 1950's vs. now?

    You cant measure that, and that's the point.

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  93. “The tendency to treat human life and sexuality on a strictly financial level is disturbing.”

    For the love of God conservatives are always whining about how expensive other people’s kids are. In one sentence they how they don’t wanna pay for someone else’s children to be educated, insured, fed with food stamps. In the next sentence you criticizing liberals ‘for putting a price on life and making it about the money.

    If you don’t want liberals to talk about the cost of poor children on society, than don’t talk about the cost of poor children on society.


    ~College Student

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  94. OK...but my research shows they are correct that taking the Pill for ten years cuts your risk of ovarian cancer by half. That is pretty significant. Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. So, while it can increase you risk of breast cancer, we should weigh the odds.

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  95. “I think I'm a bit confused, so maybe someone can help me to understand. I'm confused about how someone else is paying for my children? Like someone above mentioned, I also don't have maternity coverage, so all bills are paid solely by myself. I homeschool, so there's no drain ob the school system. I pay for all of our food, our supplies, our healthcare. How is someone else paying for my sex life?”

    Heidi, that is awesome. Please keep it up and send your children to private universities and please don’t allow them to apply for scholarships or aid funding by the fed (taxpayers)

    But unfortunately this is rare as you know most children go to public school. And many more go on to public colleges. So the public pays for most people’s children. My parent’s pay 20k in property taxes for just one property and have never sent their children to public anything, I assume you think this is unfair?

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  96. Syphilis and gonorrhea rates are LOWER now than they were before the sexual revolution. In fact, syphilis rates peaked in 1947. And gonorrhea rates reached an all-time low in 2009.

    How much more proof is needed for any discussion on morals declining than when we need to reach for the old gonorrhea statistics?

    How is this relevant to anything?
    Let’s instead compare abstinence gonorrhea rates to sexually active gonorrhea rates, how about that for a morality stat?

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  97. “Because they are my responsibility, that's why! And, if people want to have sex, they should pay for the results of their sex acts themselves too!”


    Wow Leila. You and I completely and totally agree for once. Parents should be 100% responsible for their children. But what is the back up plan. You and other’s seem to think married people are entitled to procreate no matter what. So which is it, are married people morally obligated to practice NFP when they are dirt poor and cannot afford to feed another child or is society morally obligated to take care of as many children as a married couple desires even though the couple cannot take care of them.

    “SEX (without consequences) is NOT a right.”

    Bethany, I TOTALLY agree. But neither is sex with consequences. The idea that a man has a right to put taxpayers with the bill because he doesn’t wanna wear a condom is just as ludicrous as making taxpayers foot the bill if he does want to wear a condom.
    ~College Student

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    1. College student, that quote was from Michelle, not me.

      But this comment… "So which is it, are married people morally obligated to practice NFP when they are dirt poor and cannot afford to feed another child or is society morally obligated to take care of as many children as a married couple desires even though the couple cannot take care of them."

      … makes me question whether or not you have grasped a single thing we have said on this blog for over a year now? About caring for the poor and the helpless (which the Catholic Church does above and beyond any institution in the world) or about use of NFP and married couples. I really don't know what else to say when I see a statement like this. Yes, college student, you have left me speechless.

      Oh, and yes, sex between married people is absolutely their right. Sex is a privilege of marriage.

      Blessings!

      Delete
    2. I understand College Student's point... What I believe he is trying to get at is sort of an intersection of secular conservative values and Catholic values, which often overlap on this blog.

      On the one hand, conservatives are against government intrusiveness and (what are often deemed as) excessive entitlements. On the other hand, the Church is against contraceptives and abortion (duh).

      But a lot of entitlements are the safety net, that provides benefits to a lot of people, many of which goes to children and young mothers. If you are in favor of government entitlements it certainly appears to be a Catch-22. This is why the left paints the right as only caring about children until the moment they are born.

      Most famously of late was the Republican debate a while back where Ron Paul was asked about how to deal with someone who chose not to get healthcare and then needed it... would the government pay or let him die?

      The notion that the Government has no place in that arena and that is the function of charity and such is anathema to many people.

      Delete
  98. Mary, did you read the entire article? Sorry, I don't think that's good medicine. You jack someone up on steroids and carcinogens for no reason other than to possibly (maybe?) lower the risk of ovarian cancer somewhere down the line, even as your increase their risk for other serious medical problems? I don't know, that sounds a bit like a medical community trying to find something to do. Are the researchers bored?

    College student, seriously? You are aware that conservatives consistently give more to charity than liberals, right? About 30% more, even though conservative heads of households make on average less than liberals.

    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2682730&page=1#.T0RTPphgN4M

    I think what you are trying to say is that conservatives question the effectiveness and benevolence of the wasteful, bureaucratic welfare state, which may in fact harm more people than they help. Assuming we are still allowed to question the gov't and its programs?

    Also, please answer: How do you reverence "family"? Meaning as a transcendent concept, philosophically, how do you do so? Thanks!

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  99. You and other’s seem to think married people are entitled to procreate no matter what.

    Yeeep, that's kind of the object of married life.

    So which is it, are married people morally obligated to practice NFP when they are dirt poor and cannot afford to feed another child or is society morally obligated to take care of as many children as a married couple desires even though the couple cannot take care of them.

    All due respect, what? What. Does. This. Mean?
    NFP is a practice that married people use to space their children and limit family size. We don't practice this to off-load our brood onto society to take care of them. And NFP does not equal breeding like rabbits in some haphazard, wild, irrational way.

    This is such a bizarre take, I'm almost speechless. Almost.

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    1. Nubby, you and I were posting at the same time. I was rendered speechless, too.

      Man oh man.

      Delete
    2. He is going from the left position that it is the government's job to care for the poor and the needy, while the right tends to state that the government should just be governing and leaving the care of the poor and needy largely to charity.

      You have to remember that the highest goal sought on the left tends to be fairness and equity. The problem to them (and it is a real problem, not a made up one) is that it is really difficult to police a private charity system. How can you ensure that people aren't being discriminated against? That everyone is getting equal access to aid, etc?

      These are the reasons that the left sees the Government's role ever expanding.

      This particular exchange is directly related to this. The position is if you cut out the government safety net - no foodstamps, no WIC, no government support for children in poor households, how can you also argue for no contraception? Who is paying for poor people to have babies they can't afford if you stop the government from doing it? :-p

      This position is based on the assumption that if the government doesn't do it, it isn't a legitimate solution because only the government has the necessary authority, mandate, resources, and obligations to do so, via entitlements.

      Delete
  100. College Student, I am confused about your point. I think you are frustrated that some conservatives are morally opposed to contraception and abortion, but also oppose government programs for poor people to pay for their babies when they have them? So it seems like we are cruel to encourage childbearing that could result in poverty, which we then don't want to fund? If that is the case, I think you are confused.

    I will speak from a Catholic perspective. A politically conservative Catholic may oppose certain government programs not because they don't think the poor deserve the help, but because they think that the Church, among other charities, are far better equipped to help the poor. We do not believe that the government allocates our resources well, and we prefer to help directly in our community where we see the immediate need. As noted, conservatives are very charitable folks in deeds and giving.

    As already stated, the Catholic Church is the biggest charity in the world -- think orphanages, hospitals, shelters, adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers, missionaries, schools, etc. We absolutely do believe in helping the poor and their children, we just see government programs as often wasteful, inefficient, and contrary to our morals, especially with certain recent mandates. So conservative Catholics value life and procreation, but also seek to help those in need. Our disagreement with liberals over government social programs is not a disagreement over the worthiness of helping the poor, but on the most effective way to help the poor with our resources.

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  101. I'm really jumping into this very interesting conversation mid-stream and I am not a regular poster here, but are you (not directing this to any one person in particular) in favor of the Blunt amendment? You can Google it- it basically is for "...to ensure that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their
    religious beliefs and moral convictions, without
    fear of being penalized or discriminated against..."

    I'm assuming yes, but I hate to assume!

    Kris

    (PS - Leila, I was the one who emailed you several months ago asking about the whole "are Catholics asking God to change his mind when they pray for specific events to happen." Thanks again for really going the distance and getting your priest to answer. It was very thought provoking!)

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  102. College Student, could you point to where, in your friends' lives, you see the existence of the Pill and other forms of bc as having made their lives happier?

    Sharon, great question. I don’t personally take oral contraceptives because of the health risks, but I can summarize

    I have friends that have been cheated on and used by guys. I have been extremely hurt myself But nothing, nothing, nothing any boy has every done to any of us has been worst than us having a baby. Not even a little, not even close.

    So we are all very happy that the only thing we have to remember those jerks by, are some lingering hurt feelings.

    I understand that your aunt’s and mother wouldn’t want to be a young woman now, my mother says the same thing. But please believe me when I say we don’t what they had either. Do you know what young women in the hook up culture want—dates, relationships, not marriage, not babies.

    You seem to think men can only respect women they think they can get them pregnant. Not only is that sad, it begs the question do I even want their respect?

    ~College Student

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  103. Interesting comments I've read tonight about the things school children are hearing and doing. I couldn't have imagined that what I heard and saw in school could have gotten THAT much worse. But, I guess this whole sex-without-consequences thing has really taken off with wings these days! What a time to be a man who doesn't live for God. Free sex! No kids! And, according to a comment I recently read by College Student, apparently they no longer need to worry about women wanting marriage from them for it. (I actually am glad College Student said that because - the argument I liked as a kid regarding waiting for marriage, which I was going to use for my kids, I will no longer use for my kids. Since women are more and more just wanting sex without strings too.) How sad. In so, so many ways. Until men start acting like men, this trend of unwed mothers and aborted babies can only get worse.

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  104. Leila
    "Also, please answer: How do you reverence "family"? Meaning as a transcendent concept, philosophically, how do you do so? Thanks!"

    Hi Leila, I more thought u were saying what do I revere in my personal life, to which I answered my parents. I suppose my confusion about what revering family as a transcendent goal means, means I don’t do it.
    ~College Student

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  105. "But nothing, nothing, nothing any boy has every done to any of us has been worst than us having a baby. Not even a little, not even close."

    It is amazing He hasn't sent another flood.

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    Replies
    1. It means we are a very sinful and selfish people.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, the line shocked me as well. CS, I don't recommend sex outside of marriage because it cheapens the act, cheapens the relationship, cheapens the woman, and it can cause pregnancies ..among other things. BUT! When I was having sex outside of marriage and did become pregnant and had my daughter, she was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was a selfish person before her. I did not know how to love before her. These things, learning how to love and putting others needs ahead of your own are two things in life (or one thing, defined) that will bring far greater happiness and fulfillment than any of the temporary trappings that this world has to offer. I hope you experience that some day.

      Delete
  106. StarFire, and I think that comment sticking in my mind is a great way to kick off the Lenten season. Speechlessness is where I'm at with that.

    Okay, then.

    College student, thank you for your honest answers about reverence and about the hook-up culture.

    I will just throw this out there. Sexual relationships without permanence and without openness to the children God (or biology) intends from such a union is simply this: Two people using each other till something better comes along.

    People were made to love and be loved. You say that your girlfriends simply want fun and relationships. But all they are is using and being used. There is no love there, and without love, we are nothing. The "constant sobbing" they describe really does say it all. Give it about ten or fifteen more years and watch it all fall apart. I am sad for what is to come down the road for them. :(

    Blessings to you.

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  107. College Student, what is so horrible about a baby?

    Also, if babies are such a calamity, why have sex at all? No contraception is 100% foolproof. Why take the risk if the consequence is allegedly so dire?

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  108. I have friends that have been cheated on and used by guys. I have been extremely hurt myself But nothing, nothing, nothing any boy has every done to any of us has been worst than us having a baby. Not even a little, not even close.

    So we are all very happy that the only thing we have to remember those jerks by, are some lingering hurt feelings. I understand that your aunt’s and mother wouldn’t want to be a young woman now, my mother says the same thing. But please believe me when I say we don’t what they had either. Do you know what young women in the hook up culture want—dates, relationships, not marriage, not babies.


    Gee, how fulfilling. By all means, date til you're blue in the face. But - the end result of dating is usually (for all people, not just Catholics) to find the "one" to marry and to go on with, into this thing of life and have a family, or at least try in some fashion (biological kids, adoption, spiritual children, whatever). What else is there, CS?

    A job? A career? Lonely nights and disconnected relationships? Sex without true pleasure or intimacy?

    Just how fulfilled will you be dating, dating, dating, being used, and using, and wash, rinse, repeat... Twenty years down the road, you still want to be dating? You still want to be schlepping after some toads who now have a history and baggage behind them, but, all is good and well, just because, well, gee anything is better than baby, right? You don't "want what they had". As if what they had is shameful or sub standard for this new generation of college kids who think they know better? What did previous generations have that was so awful and insulting to you? What might that be? A life? A family?

    Respectfully, and confusedly, I don't get this rainbow that you're either trying to chase (which is a mirage), or trying to avoid. I can't pick up a trail of coherent thoughts when you post, so please clarify. What is your immortal dream and how do you attain it?

    If you don't want what previous generations had (I'm assuming that's a family life, dating, being a mom, all things normal and good...) then just what is the apex of your ambition?

    You need life experience and some good strong female friends to steer you. Stick. Around.

    You seem to think men can only respect women they think they can get them pregnant. Not only is that sad, it begs the question do I even want their respect?

    This is bizarro land again. Where do you get this stuff? Sorry, but it is not a coherent understanding of anything Leila or others have commented on this blog.

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  109. Wow. So much to answer!


    Elizabeth:

    How do you figure that contraception is a “tragedy” that in “hindsight” American society regrets? It’s not some kind of historical event, way back in our past. We’re using birth control more and more today and, at the same time, we’re aborting less and less.

    You’re right to point out that other factors have contributed to both up and down trends. The effectiveness of contraception, for example.

    Again, good luck finding your data.

    Sharon:

    Re: changes in music

    What eras are we talking about? Which artists?

    Have you heard Robert Johnson’s lyrics from the 1930s? Bessie Smith’s from the 1920s?

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  110. Leila (pt. 1):

    First, a direct question: Barbara wrote (in all caps, with two exclamation points) that “MORE ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION = A FALSE SENSE of INVINCIBILITY = PEOPLE HAVING MORE AND RISKIER SEX… = MORE ABORTIONS!!”

    Is that what has happened over the past thirty years? Yes or no?

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  111. Leila (pt. 2)

    1. “She is saying that we are increasingly pro-life in the past decade or two…”
    Three decades. T-H-R-E-E. Thirty years. 6 X 5. A score and a half. My whole life, basically, and I’m no longer a young man.

    2. Re: your hypothetical society--

    No, I don’t think that a society without self-control, virtue, honor, or fidelity, is moral, even if its abortion rate is zero. Here’s a follow-up question: Society A and Society B have the same (low) abortion rate. In Society A, women don’t abort their babies because they’re afraid of jail; in Society B, women can legally abort their babies, but don’t, because they see abortion as the taking of an innocent life. Which society is more moral? Which practices more self-control?

    BTW, I spend nearly every day around young adults. Yesterday, in fact, I had a pancake breakfast with a bunch of students visiting my campus as part of a Christian Fellowship, on their Mardi Gras break from the University of Lousiana at Lafayette. Delightful kids. Your eyeballs are missing a whole lot if you can’t see the goodness around you.

    3. “So, how did we get to the place that abortion was legalized and accepted?”

    Two problems:
    1) “legalized” is not the same thing as “accepted”
    2) Roe v. Wade does not logically follow from Griswold v. Connecticut. It’s absolutely consistent to believe in a right to privacy for consensual adult actions and, at the same time, not extend that to the taking of an innocent life. Courts are wrong sometimes, even liberal ones.

    4. Re: Out of wedlock births
    These stats definitely give me pause. One more question: what do you think will happen in the next ten, twenty years? Will the murder, rape, and abortion rates continue to drop? Will teens continue to have less sex and fewer pregnancies? Or do you think it will all reverse?

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  112. Nubby (pt. 1):


    Nubby:

    “That’s a pretty major thing.”

    Agreed. That’s why I noted it.

    “You have to add abortions to that rate to see the true trend.”

    Elizabeth is still looking for reliable stats on abortion pre-1973. I’ve looked before and haven’t found any. If you’ve got ‘em, post ‘em.

    “If all the teen pregnancies ended in abortion, so your teen birth rate stat went to zero…”

    To reiterate, this is not the direction we’re headed. Fewer and fewer teen pregnancies are ending in abortion, and this is a three-decade trend.

    “Next, your divorce rate stat – What are the stats on people living together vs getting married?”

    I assume people are living together more often. Look it up if you want a more precise picture.

    “The true measure of morality is: are people still getting married and staying married?”

    Over the past thirty years, fewer people are getting married, but those that do are staying married.

    (As an aside: a big chunk of the drop in marriage rates comes from the fact that people are waiting longer to get married, which is arguably a good thing)

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  113. Nubby (pt. 2):

    “Your stats don’t prove an improvement of morality because they leave out a lot of info that factors in.”

    Obviously.

    “How about one stat that shines the light on morality—the use of profanity in public?”

    Murder, rape and abortion are down, and you think society is falling apart because you heard some kids cussing in the street?

    “Let’s not look at obvious medical statistics.”

    Why not?

    “The stat of people taking care of their neighbors 1950s vs. now?”

    Or how about the stat on mobs of adults spitting on black children trying to walk to school? Or the stat on governors deploying armed National Guardsmen to keep black children out of a public school?

    Seriously, watch this slide show, and then come back and tell me that the 1950s were a golden era of morality:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT9VRXwahz8

    “How much more proof is needed for any discussion on morals declining than when we need to reach for the old gonorrhea statistics? How is this relevant to anything?”

    Both Leila and Barbara posted an article saying that contraception leads to STDs. STD rates are at an all-time low. If you can’t see the relevance, I don’t know how to help you.

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  114. Pockets of bad behavior. Ugliness. What does that prove for your argument?

    Abortion is another harmful behavior, correct?

    Why stop at 1950's? Go back to slavery. It doesn't prove anything to your point that we're now "better off than we were back then."

    That is my whole point. Just because there aren't "stats" for everything doesn't mean something isn't an observable reality.

    I am a data lover like you, but you must concede that things like morality aren't proven by your stats and charts. They just aren't.

    What's the stat on how much you love your spouse? Hm, is that real? You can't measure it. But it's real.

    Your idea of moral and mine are completely different, I suppose. So we reach an impasse.

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  115. How much more proof is needed for any discussion on morals declining than when we need to reach for the old gonorrhea statistics? How is this relevant to anything?

    Both Leila and Barbara posted an article saying that contraception leads to STDs. STD rates are at an all-time low. If you can’t see the relevance, I don’t know how to help you - Pedro

    This doesn't support your point.

    Throwing out a stat on std's doesn't support your point that we're somehow more moral. No measured/measurable relationship is there.

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  116. Pedro, you love talking about gonorrhea stats. Why only that? We were talking about STDs. All of them (and there are dozens more now than back then, hitting young teens at an alarming rate. I just googled and wow!! I can link all those stats later today if you'd like. Stats and more stats (which you love). :) Admittedly, I may have missed the stat where you showed that STDs are all down since before the sexual revolution. Please repost in the meantime, if I missed it. I'll also get back to the rest of what you asked. Blessings!

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  117. Bethany, I TOTALLY agree. But neither is sex with consequences. The idea that a man has a right to put taxpayers with the bill because he doesn’t wanna wear a condom is just as ludicrous as making taxpayers foot the bill if he does want to wear a condom.

    College student - God love ya, but there are days when I feel like you have "crossed over" to our side and you are just trying to play Devil's Advocate, and weakly at that.

    You're absolutely right. He doesn't have a right. Therefore he shouldn't be having sex. Period. End of discussion. (as the catch phrase goes)

    Of course the subject of that "bill" that the guy is footing tax-payers with, will, God willing, grow-up and "payoff" that bill, by becoming a tax-payer.

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  118. I'm not sure the "contraceptives lead to STDs" debate is particularly important. At least as far as debating the nuances of statistics. It isn't like banning contraceptives is on the table anyway.

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  119. Nicholas, Ron Paul is a libertarian. And not a Catholic. Who says that conservatives are against a safety net for the truly needy? I don't know any conservative who says that, and I know a lot of conservatives. That is a caricature that the Left paints.

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  120. Leila:

    I told you why. Gonorrhea and syphilis are the two diseases that the CDC keeps clear data on going back to before the sexual revolution.

    Post what you’ve got. I’m pretty sure the CDC data will hold up. Remember—we’re looking at long-term trends, not short-term fluctuations, which is what you’ll find in most news stories that google turns up. Also, newly identified diseases, or diseases that have only been screened for recently (like chlamydia) are obviously going to look like they're increasing.

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  121. Nicholas,

    "I'm not sure the "contraceptives lead to STDs" debate is particularly important."

    It's a side-track, sure.

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  122. Nubby,
    You’re confusing the arguments. There’s a lot going on in this thread, so that’s understandable.

    To recap: Jamie said the “teen pregnancy is up, up, up.” Can we test that claim with stats? Absolutely. Spoiler: it’s false.

    Leila and Barbara both posted an article claiming that contraception leads to higher levels of abortion and STDs. That’s more complex—as I’ve acknowledged—but it’s absolutely a claim we can explore with stats. In fact, stats are the obvious place to start, although Leila has also used the history of legal cases. Which is also a good approach.

    But Leila also makes the further claim that contraception leads to moral decay. To which I respond that she should explain why, with more contraception, we’re behaving better over the past thirty years.

    True, this is a subjective claim, which assumes we all agree on what “behaving better” means. I thought we could all agree that declining murder, rape, and abortion rates would be a sign of improved behavior. But apparently not. Apparently, to some of us, the more important measures of public behavior are cohabitation, cussing and whether we watch Gossip Girl or The Partridge Family.

    “Your idea of moral and mine are completely different, I suppose.”

    I’ll say.

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  123. “MORE ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION = A FALSE SENSE of INVINCIBILITY = PEOPLE HAVING MORE AND RISKIER SEX… = MORE ABORTIONS!!”

    Pedro, since the sexual revolution it's absolutely true. Absolutely. Now, as we begin to accept more out of wedlock births and are more of us are horrified by the shredding of human babies in the womb (finally; thank you ultrasound) the number of abortions may drop slightly. But the incidences of more and riskier sex will continue on.

    I know you want to hang onto your "thirty years and look at the decline!" line, but here are the stats from Guttmacher (Planned Parenthood's research arm):

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    Looks to me like we are holding pretty steady aside from the dip that came when we began to lessen the stigma of single motherhood. Says nothing about sexual morality of our youth, does it?

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  124. Pedro, good, now we are getting somewhere. You say that we are behaving better and better because we don't murder as much. But I have been talking about the general lowering of sexual morality (moral standards) since the sexual revolution. Perhaps, just perhaps, we are talking about two different things. So let me ask you: Do the youth today have a better and higher standard of sexual morality than they did before the sexual revolution?

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  125. In Society A, women don’t abort their babies because they’re afraid of jail; in Society B, women can legally abort their babies, but don’t, because they see abortion as the taking of an innocent life. Which society is more moral? Which practices more self-control?

    I don't know which society practices more sexual self-control. But the women in Society B clearly disdain the taking of innocent human life (this is good!). So, the women in Society B are against murder for the right reasons. That is something I can rally behind and laud.

    Now, let's talk about Society A: That truly is a hypothetical, because no one is proposing jail for women who have abortions; we propose jail for the abortionists who make their living off of dead babies. But let's say that Society A has laws against abortion: Then I would say good for those legislators. They are against the killing of innocent citizens. So, there is something good to say about Society A as well as Society B.

    There are folks in both societies who are opposed to the murder of innocents.

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  126. Your eyeballs are missing a whole lot if you can’t see the goodness around you.

    Oh goodness, I hope I never implied that there are no good kids around! I know amazing, amazing kids! I was just remarking how four of my son's friends (all of them 18 or 19) are either discerning the priesthood, or are entering the seminary in the fall. And many, many other wonderful kids that I know who are trying to live pure and holy lives. They are so inspirational to me that I want to pinch myself! But even they will tell you they are the minority on their campuses and in their worlds. If you have been following College Student's comments for the past year or two, you will see what I think is much more common. Her friends are fully on board with the hook-up culture, and they can see nothing wrong with it (aside from the "constant sobbing"). The only downfall to using and being used serially is that there could be this horrible thing called a "baby" that could result from the baby-making act (did you see her latest comment?). And for that, they thank the gods for the blessing of the availability of abortion.

    Do you think College Student's mentality, and that of her friends, is common, or an anomaly?

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  127. Two problems:
    1) “legalized” is not the same thing as “accepted”


    Right. First it was legalized, then it was accepted.


    2) Roe v. Wade does not logically follow from Griswold v. Connecticut.

    Except that that's the legal precedent that Roe was based on. You are right, courts are often wrong. But that is a fact: The "right to privacy" (which exists nowhere in the Constitution) was first "discovered" in Griswold, and used as the precedent for Roe. That's just a fact.

    4. Re: Out of wedlock births
    These stats definitely give me pause. One more question: what do you think will happen in the next ten, twenty years? Will the murder, rape, and abortion rates continue to drop? Will teens continue to have less sex and fewer pregnancies? Or do you think it will all reverse?


    I honestly have no idea. I think we have really lost any sense of sexual sin, and therefore, families are more and more unstable (check that NY Times article about the unwed births). When kids are raised with no dads, and little family structure, and no real grounding in sexual morality, then we do have societal problems stemming from that. Don't you think?

    But basically, I have no idea what is going to happen. My gut is that unless people turn back to God and virtue, we are going down a bad path.

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  128. Pedro, I haven't read all the new comments yet, so I may be repeating stuff. I am still working on my morning coffee here :).

    In response to the "tragedy" of contraception and abortion -- My point about factors in the uptick and decline of abortions on your data (which still indicate a higher rate than 1974) was that there are multiple factors that could contribute to that decline. Assuming contraception as the sole reason doesn't make sense. Contraception was available for the increase and decrease in those time periods.

    I know many people who see contraception and abortion as tragedy in hindsight, including myself. We have social workers in my family who counsel those dealing with related personal tragedies, and I know many in my generation who are horrified at their own parents. I don't think our entire society yet feels that way. But it is one contributing factor to our increasingly pro-life demographics.

    As far as contraception effectiveness, we do have an unplanned pregnancy rate around 50% in 2012 and have had that rate for at least ten years, if not longer. (I haven't had the chance to dig up hard data on decades past yet.) Maybe it is more "effective" if the unplanned rate was much higher in the past, but would you say contraception was effective with a 50% unplanned pregnancy rate in a high contraception society? I would guess that, at best, people are just less willing to abort their babies when contraception fails.

    Another possible factor in a more pro-life society: People who are pro-life tend to have more children and avoid abortion regardless of life circumstances. Pro-choice people are more likely to have an abortion for a variety of reasons. Pro-lifers will increasingly populate the earth and pass on their morals and world views while pro-choicers, as well as those using contraception, limit their families and shrink in population demographics. As an overall trend, we are partly more pro-life today and increasingly pro-life for the future because pro-life parents have a population advantage.

    Both those horrified at generations past and the trend of larger families in a pro-life context contribute to an increasingly pro-life society. "More effective" or even widely available contraception at a 50% unplanned pregnancy rate just doesn't quite convince me that the data points to contraception as the main reason for a more pro-life society.

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  129. Gonorrhea and syphilis are the two diseases that the CDC keeps clear data on going back to before the sexual revolution.

    But see, the fact that there are tons more STD's on the scene since people got more promiscuous should really be telling you something. The old, standard STD's (yawn) are no longer what we are seeing. We are seeing tons of funky new sexually-transmitted diseases and in younger and younger people. But if you need to wait 50 or 100 more years to figure out what's fueling all that, so be it. If it makes you feel good about STD health that gonorrhea is down, then I will let you feel good about that. Yes, gonorrhea is down.

    Our old friend syphilis is up:

    http://news.menshealth.com/scary-trend-stds-on-the-rise/2012/02/15/

    And I'll just throw out some more bad news (in my opinion), but maybe you think it reflects a "better and better" sexual morality:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2009-01-13/health/std.report.cdc_1_stds-chlamydia-new-cases?_s=PM:HEALTH

    http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/02/06/seniors-having-more-sex-getting-more-stds

    http://centralny.ynn.com/content/top_stories/574211/stds-on-the-rise-in-youth/?ap=1&MP4


    Lots more STDs now….
    http://chastity.com/chastity-qa/stds/infections/how-many-stds-are-there/how-many

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  130. "contraceptives lead to STDs"

    Oh my goodness, this is common sense but let me put in the missing link:

    Contraceptives lead to more and riskier sex (more promiscuity) which leads to more STD's.

    That is not truly a hard concept to grasp, I would hope?

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  131. Leila, the Guttmacher Institute page is very interesting. I think it is sad that about a third of all women have an abortion by age 45 and, of course, the number of pregnancies ending in abortion is just awful. The idea that contraception is "working" or that we are somehow limiting abortions via are current sexual culture is odd to me when half of all pregnancies are "unintended" and at least a quarter of all pregnancies, with some demographics far worse, end in abortion.

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  132. *our current sexual culture! We are in such a mess, and I do hope the positive pro-life trend changes our culture as a whole.

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  133. @Leila - Agreed, I just believe that the general "left" has a view of what they see as general "right" and do not necessarily look at the nuances among various parties that collectively form the right.

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  134. Very interesting comments. Am I understanding that the use of contraception within a marriage makes married men more promiscuous?
    Nikki

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  135. @Leila - That is a very common sense based assumption to make, and certainly makes sense to me. However, to be fair, that is the kind of question that can be validated by statistics, so either there are validating statistics or not, or perhaps more research needs to be done.

    It does happen that sometimes the truth doesn't follow common sense assumptions.

    @Nikki - Clearly that was meant on a societal level, however, I suppose it might have that effect... almost impossible to say except anecdotally.

    In the complete absence of contraceptives, would there be as much infidelity as there seems to be today? Interesting question.

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  136. Question for anyone: How do people get STDs if not through someone's sexual immorality? If two virgins (truly, virgins who do not have sex of any kind with anyone) get married (a standard that used to be held up as the societal norm, across all racial and class lines), and then they are faithful to each other within marriage, do they get STDs?

    As for infidelity. Infidelity, just as porn, is facilitated nicely by contraception. Not many men are going to go out and have an affair with the lady at work whom he knows is fertile. He can usually count on her already being on the Pill and so nicely sterilized already for their purposes; or the intentions would be to use a condom (even for the purpose of feeling less at risk for disease). Most men would not carry on an affair with a fully fertile mistress.

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  137. Elizabeth, I didn't look at the Guttmacher stats close enough to determine if the 1/3 stat factors in the number of repeat abortions for some women. Some women have two, three and even four or more abortions in their lifetimes. It may appear that more women are having abortions than actually are. Just a thought to consider.

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  138. It does happen that sometimes the truth doesn't follow common sense assumptions.


    Nicholas, when it comes to issues of human nature and social science studies I am going to agree with the brilliant Dennis Prager on this: Studies either confirm what we already know, or they are wrong.

    Obviously, I am not talking about information we get from studies in the hard sciences. But human nature, i.e., common sense? Not too hard to predict. We all get human nature. That's why it's so easy to nod along when Pope Paul VI said:

    Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

    We all get that. It really is just common sense, and "what we can't not know."

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  139. Nubby,
    You’re confusing the arguments. There’s a lot going on in this thread, so that’s understandable.


    No confusion on my end.

    Take at face value that your facts are accurate, though terribly incomplete. Still, there is no correlation between contraception use and your statistics.

    There's no way of correlating.

    How do you make a correlation between contraception and those stats?

    You can't throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. Too many assumptions.

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  140. Leila, they pull the 1/3 stat from this a study that reports this from the 1990's(cited at the bottom). If I'm reading it correctly amid my background noise, I think the stat is suggesting that 1/3 of all women would have an abortion by 45, with many of them having more than one:

    "Results: Excluding miscarriages, 49% of the pregnancies concluding in 1994 were unintended; 54% of these ended in abortion. Forty-eight percent of women aged 15-44 in 1994 had had at least one unplanned pregnancy sometime in their lives; 28% had had one or more unplanned births, 30% had had one or more abortions and 11% had had both. At 1994 rates, women can expect to have 1.42 unintended pregnancies by the time they are 45, and at 1992 rates, 43% of women will have had an abortion."

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  141. I have not, however, examined their methods, accuracy, assumptions or anything like that. I'm just taking the numbers at face value and trusting them right now :).

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  142. @Leila - While we are all entitled to opinions, we'll just disagree that social science is totally worthless :-p It is like stereotypes, they exist for a reason, but that doesn't mean we should treat them as infallible fact. Sometimes reality is different from how it would seem to make the most sense. I'm not saying it is in this case, of course... and that is also why I said the argument over the statistics wasn't all that important.

    On the question of STDs... It is a good one, except that someone had to get the first one, right? I mean, how did the very first person get infected? So there is a certain chicken and egg to STDs... but you are absolutely correct that in a perfect world where people were monogamous within marriage only, even a spontaneous development of an STD would have an epidemic size of two :-)

    However, what is the difference between common sense and social science? You seem to discount the latter, but I'd argue they are closely related. Common sense is simply non-formal, while social science tries to conform to scientific rigor as much as possible. You say that the young "need incentives to keep the moral law" - that is common sense. But an analysis of which incentives work, which don't, and why? That is social science, and certainly has value.

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  143. I thought we could all agree that declining murder, rape, and abortion rates would be a sign of improved behavior.

    Actually most big cities have figured out how to skew the stats so that every violent crime (not the only indicator of morality) is not counted - and in some cases not even reported. I'll admit that's second-hand knowledge, but talking with police officers and detectives, you get to find out A LOT of stuff.

    This is part of the reason why cities like St. Louis (which was listed as the number 1 highest violent crime rated city in the nation for YEARS - dude, I lived there) is, suddenly, not even on the list of the top-ten. No slide down the ratings as things "improve" as one would think would happen if a city was really working towards decreasing violent crime.

    Just saying

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  144. @Bethany - I am not sure that I would agree with simply discounting statistics, but even so, so what? If we were to stipulate that lower rates of murders, rapes and abortions were positive signs... ANY murders, rapes, and abortions shows we still have a long ways to improve, no? :-p

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  145. CS "But nothing, nothing, nothing any boy has every done to any of us has been worst than us having a baby. Not even a little, not even close."

    you are young and I will grant you that you cannot imagine what happens to you when you have a baby, I know I didn't. An amazing thing happens when you give birth. You are transformed. Everything in your mind begins to orient towards the baby and you become almost obsessed (in a good way) with the baby. Your love grows. Yes, if you are very young and if none of your peers have babies, you are going to have some rough times of loneliness and resentment...but unless you are totally sick (there have been a few) you are going to love that baby and cherish that child. So the way you feel now about a baby is not how you will feel after you have the baby.

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  146. Hi Pedro,

    Robert Johnson... Bessie Smith... a bit before my time so I had to do some digging. I am assuming that they are not from your time. They aren't even from my father's time. But anyhow, Robert Johnson had a song about the Devil getting him to kill his wife, right? Did it get as much play as Rhianna and Eminem's song, "Love the Way You Lie"? Are you familiar with it? Part of it goes like this:

    "I know I'm a liar. If she ever tries to f'in leave again I'm gonna tie her to the bed and set this house on fire."

    Bad enough, but Rhianna responds:

    "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
    But that's alright because I like the way it hurts.
    Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
    But that's alright because I love the way you lie."

    And that was from a woman who had been a victim of abuse in "real" life. This isn't a song that preaches against violence, it's a song that glamorizes it. For a long time you could flip through the radio stations and catch it several times in a row, it got so much play time.

    One that was not heard as often was the charming "If U Seek Amy" by the formerly-girl-next-door-cute Brittney Spears. In case you're not familiar, part of the seemingly nonsensical lyric goes like this: "All the boys and all the girls want to if you seek Amy." Read that as if the word "if" is pronounced "ef". It didn't get the same play time, but is a choice on "Now That's What I Call Music", edition 31.

    The "era" I'm talking about is February 22, 2012. It's the world my kids have been growing up in and will be for another 10 years or so. I think you said you're in your 60's, right? No middle school or high school kids then? No one trying to hijack your radio when you're trying to listen to Catholic Answers (or NPR)? Try listening to the music kids are listening to. Look at who the popular entertainers are. Maybe this wouldn't bother you, but one of the singers who is popular among young girls is Selena Gomez. She also has a girl-next-door prettiness to her, but the industry has decided it's time for an end to that, as she, at age 19 but looking all of 14, is on the cover of Cosmo this month. That is not an error in marketing, of course, as it is intended to draw 14 year old girls into the Cosmo readership, if they aren't already there.

    Oh, I think Bessie Smith would be terribly offended at the suggestion that her music bore any resemblance to the kind of things that are par for the course today.

    The point is, I am just amazed if you can't see the moral decay around us. I'd guess that you are not responsible for any children in the 12 - 25 age group, although I suppose there were those supervisory adults with the V Monologue cookies that Leila was talking about. Those adults aren't terribly concerned about moral decay, or have completely lost the ability to recognize it. I don't think you can compare all of this to what was around when you and I were younger. That was not a morally pure time, but society did not revel in immorality the way it does now.

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  147. Thanks, all, for the interesting replies. I'll have to respond later.

    But I do want to address Nubby's last comment:

    "How do you make a correlation between contraception and those stats?"

    That's not my goal. Leila sis making correlations--between contraception and 1)abortion, 2) STDs, and 3) moral decay. She has to prove them. I'm using statistics to challenge them.

    I do think that contraception lowers the abortion rate, but I haven't argued that. Nor have I said anything about contraception leading to, for example, lower crime rates.

    Is that clearer now?

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  148. Elizabeth, thank you! You know the whole thing almost strikes me funny... shouldn't we be teaching our daughters and sons that if they engage in sex (the baby-making act) they should expect to a pregnancy? That would take care of all these "unexpected" "unplanned" "unintended" surprises. The Church is so right: When we sever the unitive and procreative aspects of sex, we get so much else wrong. And 54 little corpses tell quite a tale of how warped is our view of human sexuality.

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  149. You say that the young "need incentives to keep the moral law" - that is common sense. But an analysis of which incentives work, which don't, and why? That is social science, and certainly has value.

    I get what you are saying, Nicholas, and I agree that would have value. But that is not what the academic left does anymore. They actually try to socially engineer things that we already all know, trying to "prove" that we actually don't already know what we know. They want to toy with the common sense part of it. For example, they have studies which are supposed to show us how wrong we are that children need a mother and a father. There are some social scientists who are trying to say that children having sex is perfectly healthy, etc. That sort of thing. I find that to be ridiculous. We don't check our common sense at the door, and our knowledge of human nature, because an academic has an agenda to push (esp. when it comes to family and sexuality). Even the ancient philosophers assumed that the common man had common sense, and philosophy just built on that. But today's social engineers want us "peasants" to assume that we cannot know anything without a study

    So silly.

    And, I like your question, so I will ask: How did the first STD come to be? I'm guessing some sort of unsanitary sexual practice on someone's part? But I don't know... anyone? And since it didn't stop there, someone did something bad (infidelity) to keep it spreading, correct? Sin ultimately spreads STDs, no?

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  150. Mary, great points, but the big question for me is: Who taught her to think that way about babies? Oh my goodness! I was taught to revere human life and see babies as a gift. Who taught her that an innocent child (her own flesh and blood child!) would be worse for her than anything a terrible lecherous nasty player could do to her?

    The Obama "baby as punishment" thing is so purely evil, as if our own children are a mother's enemy! It's seriously nothing I can even fathom.

    So again, where did she learn this? Who taught her? Is this what the culture says now? And then people wonder why it's called the Culture of Death. Death is the wages of sin, and sin is a failure to love.

    There is no love in what she says. None.

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  151. @Pedro - I think you are misjudging what you think those statistics would or would not prove.

    Let's take your notion, that contraceptives lower the abortion rate. Presumably this would be going with an idea that more contraceptive access means fewer pregnancies from casual sex encounters, and therefore preventing pregnancies that might otherwise have been aborted?

    If we were to stipulate that as so, for sake of discussion... What does it prove? Fewer medical abortions. If some forms of contraception merely prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, all we have done is move some abortions from the medically reported category to an unreported category.

    And even if they worked perfectly, all the time, the moral position as outlined by the Church is that casual sex is a grave moral offense... so even if we all agreed that fewer abortions is a good thing, there would still be huge gulfs between the understanding of moral and good behavior.

    Is "No sex on the first date!" the new definition of chaste? :-p

    If the only goal was reducing the incidence of reported abortions, and statistically you could show that contraceptives provided that, then sure, I suppose people would be happy... But that isn't the case :-)

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  152. @Leila - Agreed, certainly social science, like any human tool, can be abused.

    As for the origin of STDs, I do not have a strong science background so I do not know if there are any solid facts there (I am guessing not since there is still a lot of debate about how even modern infections start). But my /common sense/ guided thought is back in ye olden days some bacteria developed or mutated or whatnot in such a way that it was able to be spread through sexual contact, just as other forms of illness today might be spread through the air or by touch or whatnot.

    But this isn't the case just with STDs... there was the big hullabaloo over the Bird Flu / SARS / Swine Flu etc. that mutate and change form in how and who they can be transmitted to.

    STDs have thrived I suppose simply because illicit sexual contact has been something never really stamped out of society :-p

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  153. Pedro, I will concur that our views of what consitutes sexual morality are very divergent. :)

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  154. "I think you are misjudging what you think those statistics would or would not prove."

    What do you think I'm saying they prove? That contraception leads to greater morality?

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  155. How do you make a correlation between contraception and those stats? me

    That's not my goal. -Pedro

    What is your point with all the statistics?

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  156. @Pedro - My apologies, I assume you were not trying to prove anything then?

    It appears that you have stated teen pregnancy is down; there has been an overall reduction in reported rates of murders, rapes, and abortions - possibly suggesting a moral improvement in society; you have attempted to debunk the "good old days were better!" type positions suggesting that there were probably relative levels of immorality (offensive song lyrics) or even worse situations (institutionally enshrined racism) in previous generations; STD rates were overall down; and that changing demographics account for changes in the marriage and divorce rates - there are fewer divorces, but also fewer people getting married, and more people living together.

    So what are you trying to say? It isn't as bad as many posters here would contend? You did say it was a pet peeve to have people talking about moral decline without acknowledging factors suggesting the opposite.

    I would certainly grant some of your points, I don't believe that offensive song lyrics for example are really indicative of all that much, although some certainly might contend that the open embrace of such is a factor.

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  157. “What is your point with all the statistics?”

    From one of my first posts on this thread:

    ** If you want to argue that contraception leads to moral decay, you HAVE to explain why, over the past 30 years, Americans--especially young people--have been behaving better and better. **

    One more time: Leila suggested a correlation. The stats don’t seem to support that correlation. I posted those stats. I asked her to explain that discrepancy. She (and others) have, in various ways, with varying success.

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  158. @Nubby - I believe he just wants us to have statistics to back up any claims we make. Not the most terrible complaint.

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  159. You're getting it, Nicholas. I've really got to run, but I definitely want to get into Sharon's music discussion later tonight or tomorrow.

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  160. One more time:

    If you want to argue that contraception leads to moral decay, you HAVE to explain why, over the past 30 years, Americans--especially young people--have been behaving better and better.

    You said that. And from there you used stats to back up what you believe is "better and better" behavior. Stats which don't support "better and better" one iota.

    You cannot argue with Leila's idea of morality because, clearly, stats or not stats, you don't even begin on the same page with her on the concept of morality/immorality.

    Stats don't make an argument. They certainly haven't made yours.

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  161. I get that, Nicholas. It makes no sense if that is what he wants, but I get that.

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  162. @Nubby - Well, that is the biggest hurdle, and certainly one that I still struggle with.

    Many people would hold that morality is a continuum of behavior, with better and worse, and evolving standards and shifting mores.

    The Church position is there is a very black and white objective definition of morality. And I think the biggest sticking point is that it is pretty much an impossible standard, even though we may continually strive toward it anyway :-p

    Human beings are sinful by nature, and incapable of self-perfection, yet our moral standards are not based on that reality, they require us to be better than we are capable of being :-) Something you can only hope to aspire to through divine grace.

    From a purely secular position, I can see how one would argue that a murder of one is "better" than a mass-murder. But from the Church perspective there is no meaningful scale -- it is right and wrong, period.

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  163. @Nubby - Of course, that is not to say that Pedro is necessarily incorrect if he wants to debate an assertion that say the 1950s were "more" moral than the 2010s for example... But that is really kind of a side issue.

    But from my personal viewpoint, whether any era was more, less, or the same moral character as today is not particularly relevant. People are now, always were, and always will be sinners. The only path to elevation is through divine grace, and the path to that is via the teachings of the Church.

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  164. I'm open to the philosophical aspects of that discussion, but, in my opinion, the approach Pedro is taking isn't the right one.

    If his stats don't prove or disprove anything then why post them?

    If people want a philosophical argument/discussion on morality, then have one. Has nothing to do with stats, that's for sure.


    That's like me posting a useless but interesting stat and challenging someone to disprove a theory about morality.

    Here: The passed 23 consecutive home victories for the Red Wings is a record. And now, I challenge someone to use this stat to disprove Leila's theory. What? Exactly.

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  165. Sorry for being the clueless one in the room, but I sorta thought it was assumed that I was talking about sexual morality when I talked about how we are in the moral cesspool now? Because that's what I mean and have always meant when talking about the sexual revolution, the widespread acceptance and use of contraception, etc. etc.

    Surely some murders are a result of this culture of sexual license (54 million dead innocents can witness to that…. try counting that high), but generally I was never here debating the murder rates of born people. Sorry if that was not clear.

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  166. Pedro, let me tackle the music issue. Like many things in America, music has been incorporated which means less choice, less variety, and MUCH less innovation in the name of profit. Robert Johnson is an example of a true musician who lived and died in the pursuit of art.

    What you hear on modern radio is not music. It is formulaic mass produced media, not much different from a baby produced by IVF. But unlike that baby who will grow up as a normal human, today's radio music has none of the intricacies or soul that real music has. Real music rarely advances past the underground, because in capitalist societies the most profitable endeavors rise to the top, and true art takes time, patience, and focus.

    Much like everything on television, corporate sponsored radio is NOT to be trusted as an impartial source of information, nor should it be recognized as a source of true inspiration and inner beauty.

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  167. @Nubby - His statistics are not intended to prove any point he is making, he is offering them as contra-indicators to points he feels you are making.

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  168. His statistics are not intended to prove any point he is making, he is offering them as contra-indicators to points he feels you are making.

    How can they be contra-indicators if they have no correlation?

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  169. I'm going to jump in quickly. Nubby, to use your analogy: let's say Leila makes a claim: "The Dallas Stars are going to destroy the Red Wings tomorrow in Detroit." And she supports it by saying "The Red Wings are overrated."

    I can say, "Wait a second, the Red Wings won 23 straight at home, an NHL record." I haven't said the Red Wings will win. I haven't said that home winning streaks are the only way, or even the best way, to judge how good a team is. I haven't proven or disproven anything. But I'm also not crazy for bringing up the statistic, and Leila should address it.

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  170. Ok, we aren’t going to agree but it’s important we each at least understand what the other person is saying, so I’m going to slowly backtrack.

    Sharon asked me (somewhat rhetorically) what birth control had done for my friends, how it has made us happier. Her unstated assumption was that by making BC available men get what they want—sex. However, women don’t get what they want---permanence.

    In order to address this assumption I needed to clearly reiterate some differences between our generations. My mother told me that when she was young, women typically only slept with men they wanted to marry. In this scenario, I understand how Sharon would be right, woman wanted permanence and they weren’t getting permanence. But this is not an accurate depiction of the current climate of the hook up culture. 19-year-old women aren’t looking to get married at 19 (unless your in the south) In no way does this mean they don’t want to get married EVER! That’s preposterous.

    Women in the hook up culture want attention, time, dates, and relationships, things that may or may not lead to marriage eventually. But imminent marriage is not the goal, and so our failure to reach it is not a failure. Our failure to reach what we actually want is the real failure ;)

    I might marry my boyfriend eventually, but if he asked me now I would say hell no. Good friend definitely knows she will marry her Boyfriend of 3 years. If he asked her to marry him, she’d say hell no too, ‘ask again in 4 years.’

    In conclusion, marriage IS the goal, just not at a young age

    ~College Student

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  171. So College student....if you have been with someone for three years (your friend) and you want to marry them "someday", I am assuming you are monogamous but sexually active. SO why is it so odd to consider marrying the person now? Are you thinking you want to break up and date a bunch of other guys for a while then get back together? I know that i thought that, but guess what? You can never guarantee that the guy is going to be free for you when you are ready, and the guy is certainly not going to stand by and twiddle his thumbs while he knows you are sexually active with other guys. So, really if you have been with a person that long, you love them etc., what is the problem? These things never just end amicably. One person always gets seriously hurt. If you can date guys and not have sex, I think it keeps things at a less intense level...so you can have fun, date men, and not hurt them or yourselves too much.

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  172. I said: But nothing, nothing, nothing any boy has every done to any of us has been worst than us having a baby

    Leila said: Who taught her that an innocent child (her own flesh and blood child!) would be worse for her than anything a terrible lecherous nasty player could do to her?


    Um, do you know what the worst thing a boy has ever done to me is: Not called me enough. Decided he wanted to sleep with other people. Not bought me jewelry for my birthday.

    I have never been beaten, raped, cheated on, or given an STD. I haven’t really ever been lied to. The guys I hooked up with never said they wanted to date me! In fact they told me straight out they didn’t want to be bf/gf. And yet I cried because I figured they would change their minds….. So as you can see, the ‘worst thing someone has ever done to me, is pretty lame and facilitated through my own stupidity

    So yea…. I stand by what I said. Being upset because I didn’t get earrings for my birthday doesn’t really compare to having a baby at 20 with a random guy I don’t even like anymore. Are you actually trying to convince me differently?

    Are you really going to pretend not to empathize with that? ? Do you honest to God believe my life would be better if instead of just getting over the ‘lecherous player’ I had gotten pregnant instead and had an innocent souvenir to remember him by?


    ~College Student

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  173. Nubby said: “but, all is good and well, just because, well, gee anything is better than baby, right? You don't "want what they had".

    Again, everyone seemed to interpret my saying “It’s horrible for young adults to have babies when they aren’t ready’, as ‘its horrible for grown adults to have babies ever. Bizzare interpretation. I want a baby or two when I’m older. Most people do.

    When I said, we don’t want what they had ( referring to your aunts and mother). I wasn’t referring to a family. I was referring to a specific type of family. We don’t want to get married straight out of high school as they did. We don’t want 5 or 6 kids as they had. We don’t want have our lives defined by our role in the home. We don't want to be fifties housewives. That's a far cry from desiring casual childless sex forever

    ~College Student

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  174. College Student, I think you are confused about babies, family, and women's role in society. This isn't a choice between being a 1950's housewife or casual childless sex. There are many problems with casual childless sex, physical and moral. But let's talk about living the life of today and prior generations for a moment. I married at 23 straight out of college. We started having babies right away. We now have three and hope to have quite a few more. We follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. I know quite a few women in this category, but not all women marry early. One doesn't have to marry early in life.

    Am I a 1950's housewife? No. I have my own business, and I stay home with my kids. I choose to homeschool, but I may send my kids to a private school at some point. I have a science degree, and I am a professional. My husband is a geologist now in law school. We are in law school with three kids, and it's fine. People get so worried about doing school with kids, but it really is no big deal. We've done it both ways.

    We don't live some 1950's life, although I see nothing wrong focusing solely on your family and kids either. There is absolutely no shame in that -- It is a very satisfying and worthwhile vocation! But lots of healthy, mature married women, with high moral standards, run businesses, maintain full- or part-time professional careers, have lots of kids, champion great causes, and we even manage to eat healthy and stay in shape! Everyone's life looks a little different, but you get the point. Those of us fortunate enough to have children at younger ages also look forward to the day where we can enjoy our grand kids well into their adult lives (and maybe great grand kids!). We know we will always have lots of family around us, and that is a joyful thing even when family is not always "easy".

    Healthy, mature, successful, emotionally satisfied and morally grounded women do not want or encourage "childless casual sex", even though modern TV may have you think otherwise :).

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  175. By the way, I have lived the other side of this and have experienced the college culture, so I do understand where you are coming from. I can promise you that casual childless sex is not a road to life satisfaction.

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  176. Whoa, College student. Traditional morality does not state that one must marry at 19. That is something you said, not us. In fact, this is exactly what chaste girls who are waiting want from their young relationships, too:

    attention, time, dates, and relationships, things that may or may not lead to marriage eventually

    So, it's not just the "hook up" girls who want to have time and attention and, yes, relationships with men. Chaste girls have that too, but without the illicit serial sex and risk of disease and constant sobbing. Oh, and zero chance of babies since the baby making act does not come into play.

    You disputed my use of the terms "terrible, lecherous, nasty player" to describe the boys who make you and your friend sob. You describe the worst a boyfriend did to you was: "Not called me enough. Decided he wanted to sleep with other people. Not bought me jewelry for my birthday."

    So, the guy who was using you for sex with no commitment didn't call, whored around with other women and blew off your birthday.

    Umm, College Student, that's what we call a "terrible, lecherous, nasty player"!

    I remember defending my scum boyfriend, too. You will look back and cringe.

    College student, how would you rate the sexual morality of your generation? Just curious how you see it. Are you and your friends more sexually moral than past generations, or less, or about the same?

    I believe that my generation was much less moral, sexually, than my mother's generation. And I believe my daughter's generation is much less sexually moral than my own. That's how I see it.

    Of course, I am defining morality as has traditionally been defined.

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