Source: Six Rivers Planned Parenthood
The Rev. Eric T. Moore Duff: Weighing in on the contraception discussion
The Rev. Eric T. Moore Duff
Posted: 05/25/2012 02:40:16 AM PDT Times-Standard
Some boundaries are necessary for everyone, or society would fall into anarchy. This is the purpose of government. Abuse of any kind cannot be tolerated. Respect for the rights, freedom and autonomy of others, even those we disagree with, is necessary. Recently we've added the right to safety, including many who have not shared that protection in the past. I wish we could add a right to shelter and food, but we are still a long way from seeing how essential these needs and rights are. We have a responsibility for every person lucky enough to be born; our attention and resources should be focused on them.
By definition, freedom is the ability to make our own choices without someone else making them for us. If there was ever a matter of choice, contraception is one of them. No one has to use them. They are available at most stores, for a price. Since the AIDS crisis, they have become mandatory for any sexual activity outside of marriage. Recent studies suggest that even within marriage, over 90 percent of couples use them. Family planning has been practiced in nearly every culture that we have studied, and not always effectively. Only recently have we found safe and fairly reliable ways to help prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of infectious disease. Unfortunately, these are not affordable to a majority of people.
Raising a child is a huge commitment for both family and society. I began ministry in Newark, New Jersey, and developed a program for homeless families in the 1980s. I learned a great deal about the investment necessary to see a child through those critical early years. At the time we began this program, there were few options for families without housing. The big cities of the east coast were caught up in a frenzy of urban renewal, and anyone who was unfortunate enough to be disabled or unemployed was out of luck. We developed an infrastructure that included housing, child care and van service (there were no school buses in our part of Newark), along with housing relocation and other support services. When I moved to Humboldt County in 1988, I worked for Humboldt Home Health Services, and among other things had a case-load of patients with AIDS. I learned a great deal about the importance of preventive care.
Those who argue against contraception seem to have little knowledge or experience with the raising and care of children, or the burden of infectious illness. AIDS has become less of a headline issue in this country thanks to major advances in medicine. However, it continues to be a burden in Second and Third World countries. Women in particular carry the weight. They are the ones who bare the child, and sometimes the illness, and are left with the results. Women's health care is crucial in this discussion. Somehow, we can justify funding Viagra through insurance, and yet question whether we should do the same with contraception.
Eventually, we all must grow up. In this country, we release our children at age 18. We can love, support and pray for them, but we can't control their choices, only hope they will make responsible ones. No amount of legislation will ever change this reality. I was impressed when I read a book about the Amish faith (”Amish Grace; How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” Kraybill and others), to learn that even in this strict religion, at a certain age young adults make their own choices about whether or not to accept the rules laid down for them as children. No one escapes the reality of growing up and making choices. The idea that government or religion can do this for us, in every way, does not prove itself with experience.
I believe the debate about contraception is around control, not choice. Can we make good decisions for other people? In some areas, we must try. Is contraception one of them? I don't think it is. I believe that the health of women and men in general is far more important.
The Rev. Eric T. Moore Duff is a therapist and Episcopal priest, and can be reached at: Eric6017@suddenlink.net