By Ralph Capone, MD
There is so much that is hype and overreaction to this “statement” by many physicians and medical students. This ruling will affect very few individual women; it doesn’t “outlaw” contraception and at most, for those who work for an insured group who opposes the ACA mandate, they can still get it with a co-pay. Even the article estimates there to be only about 200 companies that this order will liberate from this mandate which opposes their conscience rights.
The physicians write, too, of the clear science supporting the safety of contraception and great healthcare outcomes benefitting the public good—as though by writing it this way, it just makes it so. The World Health Organization lists hormonal contraceptives as a Class I carcinogen. Also, among other concerns there has been a reduction in fertility (yes, correlation is not causal but good science at least explores and doesn’t ignore this important fact). There are environmental issues (e.g., the pollution of a majority of rivers, some estimates at 80 percent of American rivers, with estrogen byproducts). Where is the environmental outrage at the harm done to the aquatic biome (e.g., the development of intersex fishes)?
None of these are moral or religious concerns or dangers. To be sure, those dangers—the moral and religious ones—are not insignificant. But our society and the culture have rapidly developed a tin ear (or a hardened heart) for these issues that are even more potentially pernicious to individual souls concerning the purpose of sex, the meaning of authentic love, and the understanding of the mystery (sacramentum) of marriage in which two become one and images the mystery of God in His unity and fecundity, and of Christ and His Church (the bridegroom and His bride).
Finally our times have denied the gift of children. Since Roe v. Wade, many children have been classified as “unwanted.” Also, due to increasing infertility and IVF, children have been made into objects—commodities to be made and killed at will—or frozen in cryoprecipitate freezers, what the late great Jerome LeJeune called “concentration cans.”
The tragic irony of our progressive, scientific-materialistic time, is that society experiences in reality the diametric opposite from what those proponents of the time express. Instead of safety, common good, and healthy family planning, we are in fact living in a time of great individual and environmental health risks from the widespread use of contraceptives, and also we are experiencing conditions that harm families, children, and the common good. Then there are the great harms to the spiritual welfare to so many.
The official medical profession has been thoroughly co-opted, including many of its journals and professional societies. Many physicians support the secular, progressivist agenda. Science and reason without faith are leading us deeper into moral relativism (in the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict) and this is being led by those who once promoted the common good by their untiring dedication to the health and well-being of individuals. Those physicians did their utmost in this regard and did not fashion themselves as agents of social change in the thrall of government or corporate power.
Precisely this is why what is being witnessed today is a shift from sanctity of life bioethics to quality of life ethics. The individual doesn’t really count—it’s the larger agenda of utility and scientific materialism that has become the driving force behind a way of life that is empty of authentic compassion and concern for one another. A time and culture that lacks God lacks true love for each other. The medical profession would be better served by hearing from those other voices who respect life and the health and welfare of their individual patients, and who question the assumptions of our culture and times. We need to hear from more physicians who will work to protect and defend the sanctity of all human life, from conception to its natural ending.