Deconstructing Contraception | Sweetening the Pill

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Especially after Pope Francis’ words about birth rate reduction, I’m really excited about this new documentary that’s coming out! It’s called Sweetening the Pill, produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Their Kickstarter page is here. Nine days to go!!

As a Catholic, I have several reasons to get excited about it:

1. It’s not Catholic, so those who automatically plug their ears and close their eyes when they see/hear “Catholic” might actually pay attention.

2. I’m hoping that even though it’s focused on The Pill, the film will also open people’s eyes to the general risks of contraception — in all its forms — that too many would rather sweep under the rug, because knowing and understanding those risks might have to mean a change in lifestyle, and nobody likes change.

That, I think, is the scariest thing. Doctors throw these pills at us like they are candy cure-alls when there REALLY hasn’t been enough research done on their effects, especially long term. They just don’t know enough about them. I spent HOURS and HOURS on Google, on different women’s health forums and discovered that so many others had had similar situations to mine. Some had the mental symptoms, others felt like they were no longer themselves. Some likened it to menopause. It was comforting, eye opening, and also made me completely livid. How could doctors do this to us?! How could we let them? How could we not be educated that this was a possibility? How was this feminism, when we were basically losing control of our bodies, of ourselves??
Source: Why I Will Never Take the Birth Control Pill Again

3. I hear that NFP and NaPro are included, which is great since those don’t get nearly as much coverage as they should receive.

4. I’m hoping that they’ll explore the relationship between contraceptive usage and environmental impact, i.e., the state of our waters.

17a-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) is a component of combination oral contraceptives designed for women, of which approximately 16–68%of dose is excreted in the urine or feces19. A substantial amount of EE2has been found in aquatic environments downstream of wastewater treatment plants.
Source: Transgenerational effects from early developmental exposures to bisphenol A or 17[agr]-ethinylestradiol in medaka, Oryzias latipes

5. I’m hoping that they’ll explore the relationship between contraceptive usage and body burden, whereby women pass on chemicals in their bloodstream on to their babies.

6. The film will be a great addition to the growing body of material that dares to expose what has been unknown or hidden for so long.

To illustrate from a UK survey of 1000 women:

– More than a quarter (27 per cent) said you didn’t know what hormonal contraception was doing to your body.
– More than a quarter (27 per cent) of you said you were ‘worried’ and ‘nervous’ about taking it.
– One in three women (35 per cent) said they felt that women were just expected to ‘put up’ with the side-effects of hormonal contraception.
– More than a third of you (41 per cent) said you were only using your method of contraception because a doctor or nurse suggested it.
Source: Telegraph Wonder Women launches Take Back Birth Control campaign

I don’t expect them to discuss, but would be a pleasant surprise if they touched a bit on these at least:

1. The abortifacient methods of action built into every contraceptive, since the producers are still pro-birth control.

“We believe that the birth control pill was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. But we think women deserve more and better options, not less of them. Hormonal birth control often dominates the conversation, but, like a hospital birth or cesarean, it’s not always the best choice for all.”

2. An admission that Humanae Vitae was correct after all: the role that contraception plays in the male-female dynamic and the objectification of women, and contraception’s contribution to the destruction of family as a societal structure.

3. Birth control’s connection to abortion. A discussion of how “conception” was redefined in 1959 to mean implantation, how embryology and microbiology textbooks to this day still adhere to the original definition of “conception” as “fertilization”, and how that redefinition contributed to the legalization of contraception, and to the eventual confusion of when life begins.

5. Fertility issues like endometriosis and PCOS that taking the Pill masks and worsens.

6. The role of contraception in aging populations and demographic winter.

7. Something that the Church has known forever: every life is a gift.

All in all, I’m curious to see where this will lead, as I think it could be the beginning of a new era in real comprehensive sex education. I hope you’ll support the project too.

If you’re dying (no pun intended) to find out more about Fertility Awareness Methods as alternatives to the Pill, here’s a great (secular-produced) vid you can watch in the meantime:

There are also more films coming up!! Read about Natural Womanhood and the film Natural Love Stories here.

Further reading:

Bad Feminists: Why It’s So Hard to Critique the Pill
Brianna Heldt: Ricki Lake and Birth Control
Telegraph Wonder Women launches Take Back Birth Control campaign
Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making?
NuvaRing Caused My Daughter’s Death | Like So Many Women, She Had No Idea of the Risks
Natural Womanhood

(More information on Body Burden + Contraceptives on Page 2)

It’s Not About Rabbits, But Maybe It’s Not About You Either

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I woke up to Facebook hopping (pun unintended) because of a remark the Pope made on the plane to Rome from Manila, where he spent four days with the Filipino people, celebrating, teaching, loving.

Many are upset because once again, the Pope said something that just *hit* them the wrong way.

I am a Filipina who came to the US when I was 18. I’ve lived here, got married, had kids and raised them for the next 28. Today I also work with a pro-life group in the Philippines. The entire transcript is a must read if one wants to fully understand, but I ask that you not stop there. Please consider reading the transcripts from his four days in Manila. The Pope’s rabbit remark has to be evaluated not just within the context of everything he said on that plane, but ALL the teaching he did in the third world last week. I am hoping that today’s clarification helps.

In a nutshell, and because I tend to ramble on, he’s basically teaching BALANCE. In Manila he taught a lot about being open to life, about GENEROSITY. Prompted by further quetions on the plane, he continued the lesson, this time highlighting RESPONSIBILITY. These two go hand in hand. His words on the plane did not cancel out what he said in Manila, as some claim. On the contrary, they are but parts of a whole. But there are farther nuances I’d like to point out if I may.

PopeFrancis_Glyzelle
(Image Credit: ofelio.com)

He came to the Philippines to be with the poor. While there he addressed corruption, the cause of so much suffering there, as opposed to the liberal anti-life mantra of overpopulation. He spoke against foreign ideologies, many of which are funded and exported by us US taxpayers. Instead of helping them with the basics like food, clothing, shelter, education that uplifts them and upholds their dignity — we give them instead contraception, abortion, pornography, and contribute to their corruption. Pope Francis described this ideological colonization as insidious. The colonizers of old may have used guns and swords to conquer other lands. Today they use books, movies, music, social media, to conquer hearts, minds, souls. In addition, programs brought in by population controllers and eugenicists do irreparable harm.

In that same homily, he reiterated the Church’s teachings on the value of human life. During his trip he also traveled to see the victims of Yolanda, and spent time with the youth, many of whom experience suffering as a daily reality. (The rest of the transcripts are at Salt and Light TV.)

When he got on that plane, it’s reasonable to assume that his mind was still on the people he encountered. I’d like to propose that his words on RESPONSIBILITY AND GENEROSITY cover so much more than what appears on the surface:

He was calling pastors to shepherd their flock well, to catechize better. In the Philippines, many are cultural Catholics. They live the faith, but have little understanding of the Church’s basic teachings, especially Her teachings about sex. Many men still think it is their right to have on-demand sex and many women still think they are obligated to comply. Yes, this is partly a failure on the part of the clergy. The Pope is saying they need to teach more effectively; their flock need to listen and understand better. It is a pressing need and Pope Francis addressed it, for which I thank him.

Each person with his pastor seeks how to do that responsible parenthood.

When the Pope talked about responsibility, however, he was addressing not the first-world mother who has access to modern hospitals and well-trained doctors and the newest technology. A woman having an 8th caesarean section in the US is different from a woman having an 8th child in a third world country, caesarean or not. Here in the US, we have 911; they don’t. Here we have a medical team, in the Philippines you’re lucky if you can afford to go to a private hospital. Midwives there are not the same as midwives here. The Philippine maternal mortality rate has improved, but it is not the same as first world numbers.

Please don’t get me wrong, as the mom of 5 who has a lot of mom friends, many of whom live heroic lives of sacrifice, I do have some sense of the confusion or, as one commenter put it, devastation, that some of them felt when they heard the phrase. I have great compassion for them who have been so generous with their lives and with their bodies; and it’s not about the number of children anyway. That’s not the point and never was. Church teaching is clear that it’s a prudential decision left to husband and wife, and that’s beyond the purview of even us pro-lifers. But while those of us who have more than “the experts’ ‘required'” 2.1 kids sit here, tweeting, Facebooking or blogging away, getting our voices heard, what about the moms who don’t even have access to a computer or even a phone, much less good medical care? What about their voices?

Pope Francis was talking to the parents about being responsible because each child needs a mother and a father. In the first world, a mother’s chance of surviving childbirth is higher than it is in the third world. A child losing a parent in the first world, while he/she would not be any less devastated emotionally, would almost certainly have better access to material support and resources than his or her third world counterpart. We may have homeless and jobless people here, but in poverty-stricken Philippines, if a mother is lost, where do the orphans end up? If not in orphanages such as the one Pope Francis visited, they end up in the streets, begging for their food, or prostituting themselves. Trafficking is a huge problem, and it is directly related to poverty. The Philippines is easy prey for those who believe contraception and abortion to be the answer to these ills.

Understanding what responsible parenthood is about and getting access to what Pope Francis refers to as licit ways to plan the family aren’t the same either. NFP instructors have a hard time promoting NFP because those “insidious programs” that Pope Francis talked about refuse to give it priority or simply pay them lip service. The recently passed RH Law, for instance, mandates that people get access to whatever contraceptive method they choose. Millions are budgeted for artificial birth control, with subsidy coming in from outside sources; zero for the Church-approved NFP, which is left entirely to the laity to fund and promote.

NFP instructors have to deal with the “Pinoy macho image”. They hesitate to teach NFP outside of the Catechism *because* they need the Catechism to provide the backbone — there are places where the secular or scientific approach won’t be adequate or appropriate. Often the responsibility falls on the woman. And while that in itself isn’t a problem specific to the third world, the difference is that in the poorest areas of a third world country, men who don’t understand NFP and/or Church teaching fully end up raping their wives during the fertile period — this from a veteran NFP instructor. In the population controllers’ eyes, this is one more reason to accuse the Church of inefficiency and oppression, and one more excuse to promote aggressive anti-life measures.

I ask that you keep these in mind as you read the Pope’s words. All these are part of the whole, and when we take that whole apart and nitpick what is offensive to us, we not only turn a blind eye to those who are most in need of compassion, we undermine our own Church’s and our Pope’s ability to speak out on these issues that we may not fully understand but nevertheless exist. More than that, I am afraid that we also undermine our own efforts to reach those who see the Church’s teachings as archaic and oppressive, and to open their eyes to the truth.

Recommended Reading:
Breed Like Rabbits: The Pope and an Anti-Catholic Slur
Someone is getting lost in all this talk about Francis and rabbits
Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits–5 Points to Consider
The Pope Said What about Rabbits? And I said Ee-I-ee-I-oh!
“Breeding like rabbits”, eh?
About the Pope’s “don’t be like rabbits” remark UPDATED