Fish in barrel, notice the long line of guns…

Pointing and laughing at Ross Douthat is sort of like shooting at a fish in a barrel with a hundred other guns already aimed directly into its transparent depths, but since the barrel is located in the New York Times opinions page, I won’t feel too bad about joining in the fun.

Dude is a lot more interesting when he points out that Catholic leaders really ought to behave themselves a lot better than they currently do. He is just so, so funny, when he acts all shocked—simply shocked, I tell you—that, when women and their partners are given the ability to control their fertility rather than let it control them, they not only have fewer children and less tolerance for dysfunctional marriage, but that they experience a lot of pleasure and very little guilt about choosing their choices.

The Church was right to prophecy that a contraceptive-friendly culture would become increasingly hostile to traditional Christian sexual ethics across the board

Seeing how “traditional Christian sexual ethics” means pretty much exactly the opposite of a a “contraceptive-friendly culture,” the above statement is basically a tautology. “Traditional Christian sexual ethics” is shorthand for “get married as soon as you’re ready for sex, make babies like there’s no tomorrow, and don’t learn anything that might make sex more enjoyable.”

Continue reading

Still sex-negative and misogynistic

This is all over the skeptosphere. Pope condones condom use for certain cases.

When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: “She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”

To an outsider, a heathen secularist like me, Papa Ratzi’s position on condom use is really quite bizarre. He says it’s okay to use a condom to prevent infection with HIV, but contraception is still a great big no-no. This is the part where I start saying, “But, but, but, if you use condoms consistently enough to prevent disease transmission, then you’re effectively using them as contraception!” The only way his prescription would be coherent would be if he only approves condom use for sex between men. If there’s a woman involved, then the condom would prevent her from getting pregnant, and that would be against the rules. Perhaps if the woman is already pregnant, then condom use is allowed. Indeed, the example cited is specific to male-male sexual contact:

The Pope gives the example of the use of condoms by male prostitutes as “a first step towards moralisation”, even though condoms are “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection”.

By this logic, women and their male partners can’t have any means available to them for preventing disease transmission, because any contraception aside from “make your husband sleep on the roof” is still verboten. Therefore, the Pope’s new wiggle room for condom use only protects women to the extent that it protects actively bisexual men. On this note, Sullivan points out:

Of course, in a magnificently perverse way, this teaching privileges homosexuals. It’s okay for a gay prostitute to wear a condom because he was never going to procreate anyway. But for a poor straight couple in Africa, where the husband is HIV-positive and the wife HIV-negative, nothing must come in the way of being open to procreation … even if that means the infection of someone you love with a terminal disease.

This, I suppose is what Papa Ratzi means by sexuality “as an expression of love”: make more babies, even if you’re likely to die of AIDS and leave several young orphans. God values every human life.

An open message to the pro-quantity-of-life movement:

An FDA panel has approved ellaOne, a more effective emergency contraceptive, which is effective for five days after unprotected intercourse, so of course the pro-quantity crowd is up in arms.

“This is a thinly veiled attempt to get an abortion drug over-the-counter,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

I’m with Dr. Streicher on this: if implantation has not occurred, there is no pregnancy and therefore abortion is a non-scenario. The majority of fertilized eggs do not reach the uterine lining, therefore there is no reasonable expectation of further development, and a prevention of implantation is properly understood as a prevention of pregnancy, not a termination.

Continue reading

Assholes to the right of me…

…and I suppose there are also assholes to the left, but they’re not drawing a lot of attention to themselves lately.

Think Progress brings us these charming remarks from South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer:

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better,” Bauer said.

Comparing poor people to stray animals! Real classy, Mr. Bauer! I won’t blame his grandmother for teaching him that the way to cut the cycle of poverty is to let people starve. That’s a much bigger problem than one grandparent could have solved.

Later in his speech, Bauer said, “I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina,” adding, “You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I’ll show you the worst test scores, folks. It’s there, period.“

What’s that you say? There’s a positive correlation between family income and academic achievement? Color me astonished! It looks like no one ever pointed out to Mr. Bauer that poverty creates problems for education, so he thought it was totally new information when he saw the correlation on a bar graph. I suppose it’s because of that previous ignorance that he thinks the way to make poor children do better in school is to punish them for their parents’ immoral decision to breed, and let them go hungry.

I can’t fully explain how poverty gets in the way of schooling, and I don’t know if anyone can really explain it all that much better, but I’ve worked with enough children to know that hunger doesn’t make their little brains function any better.

According to the comments, Mr. Bauer is also a pro-lifer. He wants to make sure every child gets a chance at life, just as long as xe doesn’t expect to eat.

But, you know, it wouldn’t be fair of me to assume that, just because he’s a pro-life Republican, he’s apathetic or hostile to family planning. I’ve checked his website, and…

Health Care: nothing about family planning.

Empowering Our Youth: nothing about family planning.

Right to Life: Two sentences. Nothing about contraception. Nothing about any efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Let me see if I have this straight:

–He has nothing to say about contraception, whereas

–Every fetus deserves a chance at life, however

–If you can’t provide for your children, you shouldn’t have any.

Seriously, Andre Bauer: what?

Interesting, but really not surprising.

Jezebel shows us a new study on reproductive coercion:

A survey of 1,300 teen girls and young women asked, “Has someone you were dating or going out with ever told you not to use any birth control,” or “said he would leave you if you would not get pregnant,” or “taken off the condom while you were having sex so that you would get pregnant?” Disturbingly, the answer was frequently yes — one in five reported “pregnancy coercion,” while 15% said they’d suffered from “birth control sabotage.” And these were correlated with other types of abuse — 35% of respondents who experienced partner violence experienced pregnancy coercion or birth-control sabotage as well. Says study author Elizabeth Miller, “Not only is reproductive coercion associated with violence from male partners, but when women report experiencing both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk for unintended pregnancy increases significantly.”

To which I say: yes, that sounds about right.

The association of pregnancy coercion and partner violence is a really good fit, when you think about it. A baby is a very effective way to keep a woman from leaving a relationship, so it’s understandable that an abusive man would want to make sure to get his girlfriend pregnant. Furthermore, a coerced pregnancy is itself a violent act; any man who would deliberately undermine his girlfriend’s attempts at contraception would have to be approaching the relationship with an abusive attitude. It is entirely unsurprising, as well, that partner violence drives up the risk of unwanted pregnancy; violence is a control mechanism, so it is only to be expected that a man who beats his partner will be more successful in forcing pregnancy on her.

This study does not undo the fact of women who conceive children with unwilling men by sabotaging contraception; that still happens. There is a key difference, however. No matter who pokes holes in the condoms or switches out the birth control pills, it is the woman who experiences the physiological effects of pregnancy and faces the risks inherent in childbirth. A woman who gets pregnant over her partner’s objections is hijacking that man’s independence and time, or at least his paycheck. Beyond child support payments, a man cannot be forced to care for a child. He is free to walk away months before the child is born. A man who forces pregnancy on an unwilling woman is violating her body. Even if she terminates the pregnancy, some damage is still done, and let’s face it: if he can stop her from using contraceptives, he’ll probably be successful in stopping her from aborting. Not to mention that even if the woman is entirely comfortable with the idea of abortion and doesn’t regret the decision to terminate, it will still be an experience she could have done without.

Therefore, we will consider this behavior a warning sign of an abusive relationship. We often tell women to “leave after he hits you the first time,” and that’s sensible (if unrealistic), but it presupposes an overly simple type of violence. Partner violence isn’t just about beatings, it’s about one person owning another’s life. If he says he’ll leave if you don’t get pregnant: leave him first. If he takes off the condom during sex: pack up your shit and LEAVE HIS ASS. That is no way to bring a child into the world.