I don’t normally talk about birth control, it isn’t a subject that’s generally on the radar screen of a gay man – although I am fully pro-choice. Gay men (at least those with a healthy sense of survival) are decidedly pro-condom. The very existence of the survivors of my generation are as a direct result of condom use. It only takes one slip-up for a person to seroconvert and once that’s happened, there’s no turning-back to a negative-status. I lived through the early days of the AIDS epidemic where the only time I got to see my friends was either at their hospital bed, laid-out for a viewing or in the receiving line at a funeral. Living through a period like that changes a person’s perceptions on sex and the exchange of bodily fluids. For women, semen is a fluid with at least 3 or more possible consequences, pregnancy, STD exposure — or both. But the ‘pious’ of the political world have seized on all aspects of sexual-responsibility to demonize it as a wedge issue for anyone gullible enough to buy into their propaganda.
FOX New’s Nasty Misinformation Department once again diminished itself last week when conservative pundit, Cal Thomas referred to MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow as being “The strongest argument for contraception.” He has since apologized, and Rachael herself was gracious in accepting his apology. In my opinion, a world without Rachael Maddow would be like Bedford Falls without George Bailey. Ms. Maddow (as opposed to Mr. Thomas) is a Rhodes Scholar, not to mention the voice of intelligence and reason — 2 qualities that always make the FOX crowd cringe. Cal Thomas’ thoughtless gaff once again exposed the rampant hypocrisy of FOX News where such a cold comment could be uttered, even in jest. Not to mention it was a pure contradiction to his stand on the issue.
Recently the Susan G. Komen foundation split-open at the seams over the subject of abortion funding for Planned Parenthood. This prompted the usual rantings from Rick Santorum on abortion which plays well to his base…ahhh…instincts. Santorum and other neo-conservatives made false statements about there being a “War being waged on the Catholic Church.” There’s not a war on the Catholic Church – there’s a backlash against archaic mythology, and if Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and the Catholic Church want to identify themselves with archaic-backward thinking, let them own-up to it. Meanwhile it would be wise for Catholics to recall how flat they once defended the world as being — imprisoning Galileo for sharing the audacity of truth — then look historically at how well that played-out for them…
Anyone who was paying attention learned a lot over the last couple of weeks – for instance – only 3% of all functions performed by Planned Parenthood are abortions. The remaining 97% are women’s health-screenings for vital concerns like breast cancer through mammograms and other preventative cancer tests — often supplied to America’s poorest and most underprivileged women — in turn saving taxpayers money. Taking a stand against Planned Parenthood is tantamount to admitting to a sorrowful misinterpretation of the organization’s mission: Women’s health and contraception so as to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies before abortion or illness become an issue. (By the way further saving taxpayer dollars.) I don’t actually care that much about the taxpayer money component — but conservatives claim to.
The most pressing problem in the world today is over-population. No one in their right mind thinks of abortion as a viable large-scale ‘birth control method.’ Abortion is a very personal and painful decision that belongs solely to the woman in who’s body that seed has been planted. There’s statistical evidence that crime per capita decreased proportionally to the rate of abortions performed since Roe v Wade went into effect. Dysfunctional homes filled with unwanted, unloved, improperly supervised children make for miserable lives that often grow-up to become adults who perform acts of desperation and ruin — leaving in their wake more and more unwanted offspring. But that is only part of the story. We are rapidly becoming an over-populated planet where food and water riots are already happening in poorer nations. Does the Catholic Church prefer to take-up the mantle of mass-genocide, war, plague, starvation and street murder as the humane answer to over-population?
I certainly hope not.
The answer is to gain cooperation within all nations to provide contraception — because people are going to have sex no matter what… The challenge is to impress on less advanced cultures the vital human health value in halting the spread of disease and unwanted pregnancies. Invariably religion will stand in the way, be it Catholic or Muslim. Face it, most people on this earth were born as a result of recreational sex without a moment of forethought going into the life that resulted.
Teens, obviously, no matter how you may caution them will always experiment with sex. There’s a notably higher number of teen pregnancies among Christian families preaching abstinence than among better-educated families less concerned with religious mores. Take the Palin clan for instance: First Bristol gets knocked-up during Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential run. Bristol then makes a bundle of money speaking at Christian “teen abstinence” conferences. 3 years later, Bristol’s younger brother goes and gets a neighborhood girl pregnant. How’s that abstinence thang workin’ out for ‘ya, Sarah?
The burgeoning novelty of such an overwhelming desire as the youthful sex-drive will always lead to a certain number of teenage pregnancies. What happens to those girls? They find themselves traumatized, with their lives completely thrown off course — generally without the assistance of a father to help share the burden and the responsibility. Some give-up the child for adoption, which in turn haunts them forever. Others fail to realize their own life’s dreams in deference to raising a child. How sad is it for a child to be left to raise a child? Or desert that child to the care of an aging grandparent? These are preventable human tragedies.
Having an abortion is not an easy choice. Ask me – believe it or not, I know. Before I came-out as gay, back in my college days, I got my girlfriend pregnant. She had an abortion. I’d be untruthful to say it didn’t bother me, or that I’ve never thought about it since. I have. Initially I wanted her to keep the baby, but I was 19 going-on 20 with a completely unrealistic worldview. She did not want the baby. My mother who was anti-abortion at the time — insisted on lending me money to send to my girlfriend and pay for the abortion — which took place only a month or so after abortion was implemented as legal. My mother didn’t want to discuss it ever again, because things like that simply didn’t happen in OUR family. I did pay my mother back. I didn’t like my role in that drama — but the brunt of the real trauma was borne by my former girlfriend who in addition to physical and emotional pain, was harassed with hateful, threatening phone-calls from people — who through whatever means — procured her name and contact information. She was told “It would be God’s will if she were killed.” She was barraged with a relentless campaign of hate mail and telephone calls from the so-called religious “right.” From that point on, I lost all sympathy for the anti-abortion movement. Curious how so many of those same people cling dearly to their guns, and justify murdering the living… Facts are, the ‘Right to Life’ movement does not appeal to a particularly bright bunch.
The world now boasts a population of SEVEN BILLION people and counting… A projected TEN BILLION by 2020. The soul of decency itself dictates by common sense that a family should only plan on having as many children as they can afford to comfortably house, feed, clothe and educate. Family planning is the way to slow-down population growth and lead to happier, healthier families. Rationally speaking, it’s the anti-contraception/anti-abortion people who are the cruel, primitive thinkers. The human race — whether we like it or not — are the collective stewards of this earth — and the first thing we must do to insure our future is to curb the exponential growth in our numbers. Killing people after they’re already alive — conscious — lost in a world falling short of basic human necessities — robbed of purposeful lives — is a far greater form of mass cruelty — and dare I say it — sin.
In closing, the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama was demonstrated this week when he managed to broker a deal that was satisfactory to both the Catholic hierarchy AND Planned Parenthood. Obama devised a method where mandated healthcare can still be provided to female employees of Catholic organizations while not denying comprehensive women’s health care to those individuals who may or may not themselves BE Catholic. Those services will be paid-for in full by the insurer with a government copay. No alleged ‘blood’ on the Church’s hands. It’s time to clear this particular wedge-issue off the table — snatch it away from the jaws of conservative diversionary tactics and start concentrating on the things that really matter: A healthy population enjoying a healthy economy — well educated — competitive in today’s world — contributing toward a collective healthy future — unburdened by mythology, falsehoods and shame.