Saturday, February 11, 2012

Contraception, Catholics and public health

I am fascinated by the possibility of schism, as the truth about Catholic women/couples, and women's health care choices comes out in broad daylight. The truth is, families in America are smaller, and partly because women need to work in order to contribute to the income of the family. Also, women have gotten educations, and want to exercise their talents beyond the home. I think the hierarchy had not seen this- they keep seeing "leave it to Beaver" as the model. Most Catholic couples have never liked being constricted by Humane Vitae, and never thought it was "do-able". They are struggling to keep doing all the rest of the things they have to do, and having more children than they can afford to raise is not practical. Most women are grateful to be able to get their family planning paid for, as the insurance policies are so expensive for the family, and co-pays and medication costs have risen outrageously since the carte-blanche given to the pharmaceutical industry from the Bush administration. The great promise of the ACA reform is that it will cover all preventive care. It needs to have large risk pools of patients to accomplish it. The data show that $1 of contraception saves $3.50 in pregnancy care coverage. Ultimately, my faith says that in another 50 years, pregnancy will be truly scarce, and THEN Humane Vitae will be looked at as a prescient and precious promise to protect fertility and the right of people to have children. But til then, the practical need to reduce family size, in order to fit our economic model and society, is foremost in the minds of most mothers and fathers. Family planning choices are now much safer, and many options are available. For the last 10 years, most moms I know are bringing their daughters in to see us, to get them on an appropriate medication, at the appropriate time. We have frank discussions, and they choose what will suit them best. Almost none of the young women I know are celibate. Almost none of the young men I know are celibate. Many people are afraid of marriage, and of commitment to it, and many young women are terrified of the job of mothering, in this society. The great holy men of our faith tradition had saintly mothers who were very self-sacrificing. Such women are increasingly rare. It is known by women that single moms fall much more deeply into poverty, and their children are more at risk. They have to have jobs to keep their insurance benefits, and their access to medical care. Catholic women still hold that life is sacred, for the most part. They do not want to have abortions-- so they try harder to get their contraceptives to be really effective ones. We have excellent contraceptives now-- with failure rates about 1/1000. This information is easily accessed by every young woman. When we think of the idea of personhood, the richness of relationships is more important than the single sex act. Most young women are building much healthier relationships than the ones in our generation. They can walk away if the man is immature or irresponsible, or a bully. I am excited for them, looking at the future. I want them to build strong and fine families. God help us to build a better society!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breastfeeding and Maternity time-off

I am going to say again, that I believe we need to do our best to increase the disability time-off for women to breastfeed babies up to 24 weeks. Pumping in the workplace doesn't cut it, in my not-so-humble but practical- experienced opinion! What has happened in this recession, is that we have lost 20% of the real value of the country. Also, there is concentrated wealth in the 1%, none of whom are "breastfeeding women", I think! This puts women at a real disadvantage, as the Achilles' heel of every woman is the potential needs for her children. There is no more "welfare", which anyone who is not a Republican running for office should know. We are losing public education, public libraries, public roads, and public health care, which used to help offset low wages for young mothers in trying to provide a safety net for children. We have moms working 2-3 jobs, with minimum wage and no benefits, and we have moms going into preterm labor. We have lost ground, with increased maternal morbidity, and increased infants needing acute hospitalization. The least expensive way to help solve this is to have a sense of "THE COMMON GOOD"-- such as was mentioned in the opening words of the Constitution. We need to support healthy families. We need to make family life, and the care of the young a major goal of civilization. When women forget to include our children's needs in public policy, the whole country will be poorer. Women need disability money for this time-off, because most are now working, and cannot afford to take time-off without pay. Women are exhausted by the 24/7 job of nursing infants. We need to cut women some slack, on behalf of the babies-- as future citizens of the country. It will really serve our society better in the long-run to have babies who are healthy, and have basic trust established, and are able to exist in a more stable and less chaotic home. The current divorce rate is 51%. The issues of divorce and marital instability are complex, but it forces most children into poverty. I personally believe that if less moms were exhausted, they would have the tolerance and flexibility to make the marriages more stable. That first 6 months of a child's life is crucial! Please write to your legislators. Or go to, and advocate for mothers with children. THANKS.