Mary Rose Somarriba

Is nature sexist?: radical feminists’ fierce war against fertility

Mary Rose Somarriba
By Mary Rose Somarriba
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April 30, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - As the administration’s healthcare plan is weighed by the American public and the Supreme Court, the debate over the contraceptive mandate continues with high intensity. And for no small reason. Contraception is the only medicine we’ve heard so loudly proclaimed by the government to be completely free of charge. There are many other drugs for diabetes and cancer and heart conditions that are not free to patients and yet are much more necessary for survival and disease prevention. So, why is the administration pushing for contraceptives to be free and not graver health necessities?

For supporters of the recent HHS mandate that forces religious institutions to buy insurance that makes these items free to their employees and students, the cause served is “reproductive justice.” It was as past president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice that Sandra Fluke testified to Congress—as a victim of injustice who, along with her female peers at Georgetown, suffers from not having contraception paid for her in full.

But what is “reproductive justice”? To help answer that question, perhaps we should first ask: Who is guilty of the injustice? For Fluke, it’s her school that “creates untenable burdens that impede our academic success.” But of course it’s unfair to say that an institution, by not covering the cost of some product, implicitly creates burdens for its female students. My employer, by not covering my preferred allergy medicine, doesn’t create my burden of allergies. My allergy problems are internal to myself. They are, so to speak, natural problems I live with, ones I cannot label as someone else’s fault. Unless I were futilely to blame, say, God or nature.

But I would argue that underneath it all, advocates of “reproductive justice” do blame nature. Nature is the true obstacle to these women’s idea of justice.

Fluke might not put it this way, but radical feminists who cling to terms like “reproductive justice” and “reproductive freedom” are really trying to beat the cards that nature dealt them. They want sexual license outside the scope of what nature provides as the healthiest course—sex with one person for a lifetime. They object to the reality that sex can naturally lead to babies, creating burdens that research shows they’d be best suited to bear with the help of a husband. Underneath sexual liberationists’ wish to overthrow patriarchal traditions of marriage and religious institutions’ principles of sexual ethics, there seems to be a wish to overthrow the most stubborn foundation of all—nature herself.

This thinking was impossible to miss as I read the recent book by staunch activist for reproductive rights Merle Hoffman, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom. A rambling memoir of her personal life that spares none of the inglorious parts—having an affair with her much-older boss, marrying him and then abandoning him in the last years of his life, hiring doctors with bad records to perform abortions at her clinic, being sued for Medicare fraud—the book reveals Hoffman to be less the mind behind the abortion movement and more an accidental money-maker from it in the New York metropolitan area.

Hoffman is not your average abortion supporter. For one thing, she recognizes abortion as ending the life of another human being. She also recognizes the unconstitutionality of “the right to choose”: “the U.S. Constitution contains no express right to privacy, so the foundational legal pillar of [abortion] is vulnerable.”

It’s refreshing to see someone on the pro-abortion side speak so candidly about the issue. But, if one recognizes abortion as the ending of a life, and concedes that its legality is not protected in the Constitution, then where lies the defense?

One shouldn’t strain too hard to find logic in Hoffman’s memoir. What the book doesn’t offer in a coherent thesis, it does reveal in an underlying theme that discloses the reasoning of those who champion reproductive freedom.

Hoffman started her career working as a receptionist in a medical office, began an affair with the doctor who ran it, and followed his career path to help him start an abortion clinic in New York. Soon, Hoffman was running an abortion clinic herself. With every abortion patient she welcomed, Hoffman grew more and more committed to helping women find reproductive freedom.

After decades of abortion activism in New York, at age 66 she writes that even if abortion ends a life, it is defensible in the pursuit of “true reproductive freedom” for women. As Hoffman puts it, “the anti-choice movement claimed that if women knew what abortion really was, if only the providers had told them the truth, they would never have killed their babies. . . . But women did know the truth, just as I knew it, deep down, when I allowed myself to recognize it. Mothers saw the sonogram pictures, knew that sound bites assuring them that abortion was no different from any other benign outpatient surgery were false—knew that, as the antis say, ‘abortion stops a beating heart.’” Even still, she continues, they were making a “decision so vital it was worth stopping that heart.”

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Having witnessed these hearts being stopped for years now, Hoffman admits, “I wasn’t immune to the physicality of abortion . . . but I quickly came to realize that those who deliver abortion services have not only the power to give women control over their bodies and lives but also the power—and the responsibility—of taking life in order to do that.” She continues, “acknowledgment of that truth is the foundation for all the political and personal work necessary to maintain women’s reproductive freedom.”

Unlike other freedoms, reproductive freedom has no basis in nature and no mention in the Constitution; it is not considered a God-given freedom, so to speak. Instead, terms like reproductive freedom are manufactured ideas—ideas that represent what some people want to strive for. Ideas that nevertheless, for women like Hoffman, are worth protecting in law.

Hoffman writes, “the comparative history of abortion is actually the history of power relations between states and their female populations. . . . The battlefields are different, but the war is always the same. . . . True reproductive freedom for women is never under consideration.”

So, getting back to our original question: What is “true reproductive freedom”? If it means absolute sexual license without consequences such as pregnancy and children, then it has the unfortunate attribute of never before existing in history. It’s not a freedom that women have ever fully exercised; it isn’t one that was possessed by women at some time but was taken from them and thus needs to be safeguarded from violators.

Nevertheless, terms like “reproductive freedom” and “reproductive justice” are the rallying cries of such advocates. For Hoffman and her comrades, unwanted pregnancy is an unjust imposition on women who are sexually active. Technology such as contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization have nearly evened the scales of reproductive justice—even if not completely; as long as women have had to pay for these things, they’re still being treated unjustly.

It’s this fringe-feminist thinking that can explain the reasoning behind HHS mandating free contraceptive and abortifacient coverage. But according to this logic, it would be equally unjust for women to pay $300-$500 out of pocket for an abortion. Men don’t have to go through the trouble of getting abortions or bear the financial, physical, and emotional burdens. In a sense, the millions of dollars Hoffman has made from women’s abortions are a testament to her cashing in on what her own logic would call a grave injustice to women.

In her defense, Hoffman would cling to her favorite prop to carry at abortion rallies—the wire hanger, which for her symbolized the purpose of the movement. Hoffman’s solace in her work came knowing that if doctors weren’t performing abortions or prescribing the morning-after pill, women would be taking health risks in pursuing illegal abortions. The “back-alley abortion” argument—another impressive instance of logic—relies on women implying that if they aren’t granted legal ability to end their child’s life in the womb, they’ll hold themselves hostage and threaten both lives if not appeased.

But it’s fair to say this self-destructive turn in logic hasn’t really helped today’s radical feminists. Pitting women against nature, it is running into the ground a movement that started rightly in the name of peaceful ideals. Once they justified mothers ending the lives of their children, they created an unsustainable pillar for the movement—as evidenced by abortion remaining an unsettled issue in America nearly forty years after its legality.

Hoffman describes her own abortion saying, “Now I was joined to the common experience of my sex.” But abortion has never been the common experience of women. For all of history and for most of the world, it’s childbirth—that essential part of womanhood that keeps humanity going. Hoffman never treated herself to the experience of motherhood, until at age 58 she decided to adopt a girl in Russia. But not all women have that luxury. Hers is not quite a picture of reproductive justice.

It’s tragic, really. The fight against nature is a hard and constant fight. In Intimate Wars, Hoffman’s decades-long odyssey fighting the battles for reproductive freedom brings to mind the words of the Greek tragic dramatist Aeschylus: “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Mary Rose Somarriba is chief operating officer of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., and managing editor of Altcatholicah. This article first appeared at thePublicDiscourse.com and is reprinted with permission.

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Pro-marriage advocates must show love to all, "especially...those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
Lisa Bourne

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Rich liberal groups funded gay push on San Fran archbishop to back out of marriage march

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

Tax-exempt homosexual activist groups attempted to coerce San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone out of his engagement as keynote speaker for the March for Marriage in Washington D.C. earlier this year, according to reports by his diocesan newspaper, a move that is part of a larger orchestrated campaign to fight the Catholic Church in the court of public opinion.

One of the homosexual activist organizations involved in financing the assailing of Archbishop Cordileone, the Arcus Foundation, has given funds to specifically target the Synod on the Family and World Youth Day, according to EWTN News. In one instance, Arcus gave a grant to Dignity USA "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."

Catholic San Francisco has reported extensively about how the Ford Foundation, Quark Inc. founder Tim Gill’s foundation, and the Arcus Foundation are at the top of a list of wealthy activist organizations that fund promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activity, and that they also donate extensively to faith-focused organizations that publicly dispute Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior.

The Ford Foundation gave more than $2 million to Faith in Public Life, which advocates against the Church on abortion, homosexuality, and marriage, and $900,000 to Catholics for Choice, which supports abortion.

Arcus has given roughly $1.5 million to groups calling themselves Catholic while advocating for homosexual behavior, including Dignity’s Equally Blessed Coalition, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, New Ways Ministry, and Faithful America.

The Gill Foundation gave $100,000 to the Catholics United Education Fund, a prominent proponent of homosexual “marriage,” $17,500 in grants to Dignity USA, $5,000 to Faith in Public Life to research the religious right, and $20,000 to the same group to support Faithful America.

While Faithful America was the organization responsible for a petition trying to pressure Archbishop Cordileone out of speaking at the June 19 March for Marriage, it has gotten funding from the Gill Foundation, billionaire and Arcus Foundation Founder and President Jon Stryker, billionaire George Soros, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, according to Catholic San Francisco.

Two days before the Marriage for Marriage in Washington roughly 75 people marched to the archdiocesan offices in San Francisco to present the Faithful America petition, and a representative from the group emailed a letter to Archbishop Cordileone.

The letter, which selectively referenced Church documents and statements, as well as the words of Pope Francis, was signed by numerous pro-homosexual politicians, homosexual activist groups, and laicized and dissident clergy.

Archbishop Cordileone responded with a letter explaining his duty to speak the truth, offering to meet with those who opposed Church teaching on marriage and sexuality and informing them he would not back out of the March for Marriage.

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Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University, reported on Faithful America and the forces behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone in June for Crisis Magazine, noting that former Assistant Director of Media Relations for the USCCB John Gehring now works for the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life and Faithful America.

“Gehring now spends his time attacking the same bishops he once worked for,” Hendershott wrote in her column.

She stated as well at the time that it is likely the attacks will continue to escalate.

Faithful America sent a call to action in a September 11 email to its subscriber list after Catholic San Francisco began reporting on who was behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone.

It referred to Archbishop Cordileone as “right-wing,” claimed he had a “hateful agenda,” admitted their goal is “attempting to change Church doctrine on matters of sexuality,” and expressed concern over reporting on its funding appearing in a diocesan publication versus other media.

The email called for support for an ad in the San Francisco archdiocesan newspaper with local Catholics criticizing Archbishop Cordileone, and “adding another organizer to Faithful America’s team.”

Jesuit Father John Piderit, moderator of the curia and vicar for administration for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, noted in Catholic San Francisco that Faithful America suggested it was ordinary Catholics that were upset about the archbishop’s decision to participate in the March for Marriage.

“To operate successfully in the public sphere, American Catholics need clear knowledge about the forces arrayed against them,” said Father Piderit. “Similar to other groups, Faithful America is a well-funded pressure group that espouses a variety of viewpoints contrary to Catholic teaching. Informed Catholics are aware that such groups regularly promote their viewpoints in the media.”

Hendershott identified this in her column as well.

“Still, no one should imagine that these attacks, so heavily funded by non-Catholic sources, reflect the views of faithful Catholics,” she said. “This is why even a well-funded dissident minority cannot ultimately weaken a church that is united and confident in its teachings and mission and, most importantly, enjoys divine protection.”

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Douglas Dewey

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Cardinal Dolan, please step down as Grand Marshal: an open letter

Douglas Dewey
By Douglas Dewey

Editor’s Note: A well-connected parishioner in the Archdiocese of New York wrote the following open letter to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan in response to the cardinal’s defense of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal in the 2015 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. For full context, see the cardinal’s column here.

Your Eminence,

Thank you for devoting your September 17 column to clarifying your response to the recent decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Much as it pains me to say it, I am even more concerned now than I was before.

In your explanation, you reiterate your insistence that you don’t control who is allowed to march in the parade, that this has always been the decision of the Parade Committee. No doubt, although that didn’t seem to prevent Cardinal O’Connor from stepping up and publicly opposing the identical request, in the not-too-distant past. Either way, it begs the bigger point: this is the kind of response we might expect from a politician, not a shepherd. It is hard to imagine William Wallace explaining to his countrymen that Edward Longshanks “did not ask my approval, nor did he need to” on whether to institute prima nocta. Sorry lads, out of my hands.

Had you stopped there, and said nothing more, at least those of us who want to be faithful and stand by our bishop could have, in charity, assumed there was more to the matter and trusted in your discretion. But you went two steps further. First, you insisted that the Parade Committee’s decision to include openly homosexual groups was not a cause for you to step down as Grand Marshal, and secondly, you commended the committee’s policy change saying, “I have no trouble with the decision at all...I think the decision is a wise one.” 

Honestly, Your Eminence, when I read this I felt like I had been punched in the stomach by my own father. The emotional blow was greater than the physical could ever have been. 

Regarding your statement that the decision was “wise,” you cite the committee’s worry about a seemingly invincible perception that the parade’s policy was biased and discriminatory, even though you believed the policy was neither. If this be so, surely the only response is to continue to speak the truth with clarity and charity—till kingdom come, if necessary. Acceding to what is false abets falsehood.

But let’s allow that somehow, some avoidable harm is done by the perception of some that the parade’s policy is unfair. I would argue that such a “scandal” is a piker compared to the one that you have now brought upon us. That is, the scandal of dereliction: the perception—however incorrect—that a prince of the Church is backing away from bedrock Catholic teaching, or is reluctant to uphold it. You said the most important question you asked yourself was whether the new policy “violate[s] Catholic faith or morals.” Indeed. Even assuming it does not, was equal consideration given to the potential for creating new scandal among the faithful, as was given to addressing the sensitivities of those who, for the most part, oppose or are indifferent to Church teaching?

Because here’s how the “messaging” is working out here in the vineyard, with help from the secular press: this is one more sign that the Church is gradually redefining its teaching on sexuality. It’s getting with the program. This false message will reach a crescendo on March 17, 2015, when you preside as Grand Marshal: the TV broadcast will use a split screen to show the smiling and waving Grand Marshal, leader of the American Church, on one side, and gay-identifying marchers under gay-identified banners, on the other. I can only guess what the New York Post will put on their cover the next morning. The point is, as unfounded as this message might be, it does and will press hard on the hearts of the faithful, sowing confusion and discouragement. I have yet to speak to a single Catholic who isn’t profoundly discomfited by your response. Not one. And wasn’t the decision to change the parade’s policy based upon addressing a stubborn, but false, perception?

As a vexing side note, perhaps the most ill-served of all by this new scandal are those who are contending bravely against the affliction of same-sex attraction, who may well see—or want to see—this as an invitation to give up the struggle to be chaste.

Which brings us to identity, and the most perplexing part of your explanation: the jaw dropping claim that “while actions are immoral, identity is not!” [Your exclamation point]. The best I can construe here is that you intended to say “predilection” or “proclivity,” not identity. We are all sinners called to repentance, with different predominant vices. But we know that any sinful tendency, whether by genetic predisposition or choice, can be overcome through cooperation with grace. To identify oneself with one’s sin is not to repent of it but to become it. To call yourself “gay” means you do it. To march under a banner with that word means you’re proud of it. This is a fact almost too elementary to labor. Surely Your Eminence is not the only one in New York who understands that any group calling itself OUT is, like the magazine, an advocate.

By your reasoning, the Parade Committee must also include pick pockets, pedophiles and prevaricators of Irish ancestry—even if they have not come up with a nice euphemism for their favorite vice. That is, of course, as long as they are just identifying, not advocating. You wrote, “if the Parade Committee allowed itself to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teachings, I would object.” Well, there are your grounds for objecting. If you doubt me, why don’t you meet with some members of OUT@NBCUniversal and ask them if they are proud of their lifestyle and would encourage anyone with same-sex attraction to embrace it. (And while you’re at it, you might ask how many of their members are of Irish ancestry.)

I happen to right now be reading Whittaker Chambers’ majestic apologia, Witness. In the opening chapter, written as a letter to his beloved children, he defines a witness as “a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences.” Right now, Iraqi Christians are witnessing to their faith by suffering bloody martyrdom. Like all people of good will, I am horrified by the stories and images I see. But I am also edified by their courage. I entreat you as our shepherd, to be a witness for your flock. In these daunting days, we need a Braveheart. 

Please prayerfully reconsider your statements, decry the committee’s decision, and step down as Grand Marshal. 

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Douglas Dewey

Douglas Dewey works in the health care field and formerly worked in the financial industry in Manhattan. He and his wife have ten children and attend Mass at Holy Innocents Parish in Pleasantville, New York.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Are you praying for the upcoming Synod on the Family? You should be, and here’s why

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By John-Henry Westen

Catholics, and all Christians who value family values, should be praying earnestly for the Catholic Church as a struggle over critical family issues is coming to a head in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which takes place October 5-19. 

Augmenting the concerns is the fact that some of the cardinals closest to Pope Francis himself are increasingly in public disagreement over crucial matters related to faith and family. For some, the concerns reach right to the pope himself.

While Synod preparations have been going on for a year, Sunday’s weddings of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis presented a figurative, and perhaps foreboding launch.

In a press release prior to the ceremony, the Rome diocese inexplicably went out of its way to highlight the fact that some of couples the pope was going to marry were cohabiting. "Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” it said. “There are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children.”

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press took the bait and seized upon this statement to run headline after headline pushing the confusing notion that the event was a prelude to, or evidence of, a change in Church teaching on marriage.

Headlines like: 

All I can do is pray that the public fallout from these wedding ceremonies does not foreshadow the public outcome of the Synod. If so, we could be headed for a tragedy akin to the tragedy of the late sixties when, despite the proclamation of the truth of Humanae Vitae against contraception, the effect among ordinary Catholics was a near universal rejection of the teaching in practice.

What to expect at the Synod

The official list of those taking part in the Synod includes 114 presidents of Bishops’ Conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, nine members of the Ordinary Council for the Secretariat, the Secretary General, the Undersecretary, three religious elected by the Union of Superiors General, 26 members appointed by the Pontiff, eight fraternal delegates, and 38 auditors, among whom are 13 married couples and 16 experts.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cardinal Kasper’s intervention at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year, in which he laid out a contentious proposal to allow Catholics who have been divorced and then ‘remarried’ outside the Church to receive Communion. 

Since then a bevy of heavy-hitter cardinals have fought that proposal, including:

Today, however, Cardinal Kasper said the “attacks” from these cardinals were not so much directed at him but at Pope Francis, since, claims Kasper, he discussed his intervention with the pope and gained his approval.

The claim has some basis, since the day after Kasper made the proposal, before it was made public, Pope Francis praised it publicly.  According to Vatican Information Service, the Holy Father said:

I read and reread Cardinal Walter Kasper's document and I would like to thank him, as I found it to be a work of profound theology, and also a serene theological reflection. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what St. Ignacius described as the 'sensus Ecclesiae', love for the Mother Church. ... It did me good, and an idea came to mind – please excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but my idea was that this is what we call ‘doing theology on one's knees’. Thank you, thank you.

Of note, Vatican correspondent Sébastien Maillard, writing for France’s La Croix, reports today that Pope Francis is “irritated” by the release of a book containing criticisms of the Kasper proposal by five cardinals.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday, one of those authors, Cardinal Raymond Burke, is being demoted from his headship of the Apostolic Signatura. The only post planned for the 66-year-old cardinal thus far is patron of the Order of Malta. 

Cardinal Burke’s pre-Synod interventions go beyond the divorce and remarriage question and into the matter of homosexuality.  In a recent interview Cardinal Burke gave a clear refutation of the misuse of Pope Francis’ famed ‘Who am I to judge’ quote to justify homosexuality.

While the issue of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality is seldom raised in reference to the Synod, with most of the emphasis being placed on the question of divorce and remarriage, it is mentioned in the working document, or ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, of the Synod.

As with the matter of divorce, no doctrine regarding homosexuality can be changed, but much confusion can still be sown under the auspices of adjustments to “pastoral” practice. Without a clear teaching from the Synod, the effects could be similar to the shift in “pastoral” practice among dissenting clergy after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, which led to the use of artificial contraception by most Catholics.

Already and for many years there has been de facto broad acceptance of homosexual sexual practices in many Catholic schools, universities and many other institutions, with many staff being active homosexuals in open defiance of Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding the Synod’s deliberations on homosexuality, it does not bode well that one of Pope Francis’ personal appointees to the Synod is retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  The selection is remarkable because of Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 urging a victim who had been sexually abused by a bishop-friend of Danneels, to be silent.  Then, only last year Danneels praised as a “positive development” that states were opening up civil marriage to homosexuals.

Then, just this week, as reported on the Rorate Caeli blog, one of the three Synod presidents gave an interview with the leading Brazilian newspaper in which he said that while stable unions between homosexual persons cannot be equated to marriage, the Church has always tried to show respect for such unions.

The statement matches that of another prominent Synod participant, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who in 2010 spoke of giving more consideration to ‘the quality’ of homosexual relationships. “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous,” Schönborn said.

In the end, while there is currently a public battle in the Vatican that is unprecedented in modern history, the faith will not and cannot change.  As faithful Catholics, and Christians, we must cling to the Truths of Christ regarding the family and live them out in our own lives first and foremost.  That is difficult, to be sure, especially in our sex-saturated culture, but with Christ (and only with Him) all things are possible. 

Plead with heaven for the pope and the bishops in the Synod.  LifeSiteNews will be there reporting from Rome, and, with your prayers and support, be of service to those defending truth.

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