Paying for birth control, paying for poison

Thanks to the bishops of the United States, today was a day of civil engagement.

Rallies held across the country made clear that people from numerous walks of life, faiths, and ideologies are not happy about the cultural and constitutional implications of the president’s Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to pay for birth control medications and abortifacients.

The debate is being framed by the mainstream media as a question of women’s rights, even if those fighting for a repeal of the HHS mandate are fighting for the right to religious freedom. The stakes are high and the rhetoric is dizzying, which is why what one woman said today was so important.

Her name is Kristen Hayes-Yearick. She introduces herself as a “Pro-Life, Catholic mother of three beautiful children and a children's environmental health advocate.” The capitalizations of pro and life are intentional. Indeed, she founded a group called PSALM, which stands for Protecting the Sanctity of All Life Movement. I have been lucky to have met Kristen and others in our various on-line lives. Indeed, a few of us have been working with this formidable woman to make PSALM a worthy resource to bridge an unfortunate divide between ecological issues and traditional life issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, and artificial contraception.

As the organizer of today’s rally for religious freedom in Williamsport, PA, Kristen gave an important speech that did the very thing that she and so many—including the Holy Father—are eager to do: express the link between ecology and human life. Let’s “listen in” on some of Kristen’s speech:

Here is my third issue: Synthetic estrogen.
Ethynyl estradiol is an oral estrogen used in almost all of combined oral contraceptive pills. It is one of the most commonly used medications. The warning label for Ethinyl estradiol “may increase the risk of developing endometrial and breast cancer, gallbladder disease, liver tumors, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication.”
Xenoestrogen—Xeno means foreign—so xenoestrogen means foreign estrogen.
Xenoestrogens are now ubiquitous in our environment and in the water, they include pharmacological estrogens like ethinyl estradiol used in birth control pills, but other chemicals also have estrogenic effect.
Which results in our born and unborn children being exposed to low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals through multiple routes of exposure.
Xenoestrogens are also called environmental hormones or Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds. Xenoestrogen from birth control pills are excreted through urine and feces. Once they're excreted- they head to the municipal water plants and there is no technology to remove them from the water, so the hormones end up in our water supplies.
Xenoestrogens have been leading to intersex fish and lowered sperm counts. Ethinyl estradiol, bisphenol A, and alkyl phenols that are present in treated sewage outflow water can act as estrogen-mimics and induce a wide range of effects on fish, so what are they doing to our children?
These effects include feminization and intersex in males. We have male fish and frogs showing up with ovaries and eggs in our rivers, lakes and streams in Pennsylvania and all over the country.
Studies have linked Synthetic estrogen to breast cancer, liver cancer and other life threatening or life altering diseases. One in three American children has Allergies, Asthma, ADHD or Autism. CDC reports that childhood cancer incidence continues to rise. Girls are entering puberty years before previous generations—breast development beginning at the age of 7—which increases their risks for reproductive cancers.
Male infertility appears to be on the rise, and studies suggest that more boys are being born with genital malformations—like Hypospadias.
Chronic Childhood illness statistics continue to rise. If the HHS mandate was truly about women's health, it wouldn't be focused on only providing free birth control, abortifacients and sterilization. It wouldn't be singling out very specific employers that have valid objections based on their conscience and teachings.
Instead, we would be focusing on over-all women's health not just on the divisive issue of women's reproductive 'rights'.
Coincidence? I think not . . .
We shouldn't be here today. Instead, we should be working together—regardless of denomination or political affiliation—for the common good of all women, children, men and God's creations.
But we're not. We're debating an issue that was specifically manufactured to further divide our nation for political gains and reasons.

We have a choice: Are we going to allow the political posturing and polarization to continue to divide us or are we going to come together, put aside our differences, and stand up for the rights that men and women have sacrificed their lives to give us?

There’s very little I can add expect to follow up with those words from the Holy Father at the top of this blog: "Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment, and damages society." (Benedict XVI. Caritas in Veritate, June 2009.)

As a small, related aside: I was mulling over what to write in this post earlier this evening while doing my mom’s food shopping. As I was in the parking lot hoisting the groceries into my Subaru, a pleasant man in a suit walked behind my car and commented on the bumper sticker in the window. It says, Smile: Your mom choose life!

The man liked what it said. We exchanged pleasantries and he asked if he had heard me speak on ecology at a local Orthodox Church. Indeed I did, a few years back, at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in northern Rhode Island. We chatted about ecology and life and the Western world’s amnesia about the great good that Christianity has brought to the world—and about how brutal the pagan world was, with its to-the-death sporting and its human sacrifices for the propagation of the seasons and the harvest.

The man said he had once heard that the modern version of human sacrifice is the practice of abortion as a tool to protect the planet from over population. His words paralleled what I had read earlier in Kristen’s speech. Indeed, I would add that artificial methods of birth control are also examples of modern pagan practices: They are false controls of fertility for the idol of human pleasure and unbridled freedom. But our chemically induced freedom comes at a hefty price, as Kristen reminds us.

Let us remember that the world of pagan antiquity had been imploding in the early days of Christianity. Its brutality, its slavish notion of its gods, and the limitations of its philosophies could not breathe sustenance into its politics, its culture, or its people. We’re in much the same situation today. Our culture has tried the sex-drugs-and rock-n’-roll path of human liberty, but the high it offers is never high enough, and the fall to earth is ever more sobering. Worse, the chemicals needed to sustain our progressive lifestyle are poisoning our bodies as they degrade our humanity.

This is why, as it did 2,000 years ago, Christianity must—indeed, will—reassert itself as the only viable source of life that can truly sustain all life. This is why the HHS mandate will collapse while the IHS invitation will journey on throughout history, bringing life to all who accept the offer.

This is why, of late, women and men of good will, from many creeds and holding many ideologies, are coming together in grocery store parking lots, online, and in our public squares to discuss and defend religious liberty and the message of life that must come with it.

This is why we must applaud and echo voices like Kristen’s—the voices of Catholic mothers and protectors of all life who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.