I think the Bishops are going to look back one day and ask themselves why contraception in the United States was the hill they chose to die on.
For me, and for a lot of people, it isn’t about doctrine at this point. It’s about reality. You know reality — it’s one of those things that has a well-known liberal bias.
That’s why conservatives and authoritarians are so damned set on ignoring it, marginalizing it, even stamping it out if they get half a chance. They cling to their dogmatic view as fiercely as any redneck teahadist clung to his guns and e-van-gelical religion.
I’ve known since I was a schoolgirl in a plaid jumper saying the Stations of the Cross every Lent and praying (okay, singing lyrics to Specials and Clash songs in my head after about age 13, but I was kneeling) that what they were teaching me in catechism class wasn’t all their was…probably because my mother wasn’t Catholic and never went through the motions. Instead, she quietly continued to light her own candles on Friday. It was understood that we went to Catholic school for the education and not the indoctrination. We could move and we weren’t lost for a semester, we could pick up where we left off, no matter what the orders said.
I read the Casti connubii in theology class, but I didn’t swallow it whole. Instead I was enraged at the singular focus, and the fetishization of a fetus over the worth of a living, breathing woman who already existed and had her own worth, her own value. It sparked something inside me and I vowed I would never be nothing but a handmaiden of Mary, why, I might not even be a Catholic when I grew up. I certainly didn’t believe that the loving god who I was assured was good “all the time” would want my mother to die if she was pregnant and ill, and could be saved, but saving her would doom the fetus. She already had kids to take care of. We mattered, too, I thought, but even we didn’t matter as much as my mother’s life.
First, I was horrified.
Then, I was pissed.
Then…I looked around me.
I went to school with a lot of youngest children in the family. Or at least the tail-end of a cluster and then there was a long stretch before the next one came along.
This was the mid-seventies.
Two things happened that dramatically reshaped Catholic families in the early sixties. One was the Pill, which was granted FDA approval in 1960, but wasn’t available nationwide until Griswold v Connecticut in 1965.The other one was the Vatican II council that liberalized Catholicism. I was born in 1962, at the tail end of the baby boom. I don’t believe for an instant that birthrates dropping below 4 million per year for the first time in an entire generation coinciding with the introduction of oral contraceptives is a coincidence. Nor is the fact that practically all of those babies-of-the-family I went to school with were the youngest of five or six. Those of us who were the oldest kid mostly had only one or two younger siblings and they weren’t stair-steps.
Obviously, the mothers of my classmates weren’t paying any attention what-so-ever to Pope Paul VI’s Magesterium on Life.
American Catholic women have been going their own way for fifty years.
That, my friends, is reality.
And the Bishops really don’t like it. They don’t like it at. all.
Now ask an American Catholic woman if she gives a good god-damn that the Bishops have their Cassocks in a twist over her lady parts.
Then hang on to your hat.
You’ll find out that she cares — but not in a way that the Bishops will be prepared for or want to hear.
It doesn’t matter that E.J. Dionne and Tweety and so many more of the mostly-liberal Catholic male punditocrisy takes the side of the Bishops in this fiasco. They keep saying that the President was going to “lose the election” because over-65 Catholics would revolt and refuse to vote for Obama based on the this issue alone, but I don’t think so.
Those over-65 Catholics are the ones who had four or five kids instead of seven or eight…or maybe even only one or two.
Fifty years is a long time, and that is how long we have had dominion over our bodies, and once a freedom has been granted, it is hard to take away.
I have always known that the real target of the revanchist, hard-right, hair-shirt wearers — a tiny minority, but extremely loud — was Griswold because with out it, there would be no Roe.
But I honestly never thought that it would happen that they would get to this point that they would actually have to make an open, public stand and admit that it wasn’t just abortion that they want to arrest, but birth control itself, and along with it female autonomy and freedom. It’s about pushing us back into a subservient role, we’ve gotten uppity and forgotten our proper place, you see, and our rebellion must be put down.
Now honestly, I don’t think that most of them ever really wanted it to get to this point. Too many people have made too much money over the years raising funds and organizing protests. It’s a business, and they don’t want to close their doors, they want to increase profits. And now their hand has been called and they are watching in horror, because the ground that has been crumbling under the feet of the feminists and pro-choicers for the last thirty years has started to solidify. A couple of weeks ago when Komen tried and failed to defund Planned Parenthood, I think they started to panic in the face of the public backlash, and they foolishly doubled down.
Just as the pendulum started to swing back the other way.
There has been a lot of sturm and drang about freedom and liberty and throwing off the yoke of tyranny over the last few years. It might not be the best time for a minority religion to try to force it’s doctrine down the throat of over half the country, whether they follow that religion or not.
Or it wouldn’t be, if there was a functioning left-wing in this country, or the Democrats knew fuck-all about messaging and framing.
This is not a winning issue for the Bishops or the right. If it was, the “personhood” amendment would have passed in Mississippi last November instead of losing in a landslide.
That, too, is reality.