Lawmakers return to contraception debate

A state bill seeking millions of dollars in funding to continue a government-funded contraceptive program is drawing strong rebuke for its attempt to sterilize women and send false messages about their fertility.

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), the Church’s lobbying arm in the state, is encouraging faithful to contact their state representatives and ask them to oppose House Bill 1194 that proposes greater access to inter-uterine devices (IUDs) in women.

“The CCC is deeply concerned about the consequences of widespread temporary sterilization of women and girls in Colorado; these forms of contraception do nothing to prevent STDs and there is nothing to suggest that the psychological and medical risks and costs associated with increased sexual activity will be managed or addressed by this legislation,” the conference stated in an email.

Legislators are giving the LARC (long-acting reversible contraception) bill another look after it took a brief hiatus following a house committee’s initial approval in late February. The bill is expected to draw debate from both sides of the aisle for its proposal to add $5 million in funding to the state health department’s program targeted at providing contraception to low-income teenagers and young women.

Proponents of the bill cite the need for wider access to LARCs, including IUDs like Mirena and Skyla, in order to reduce unplanned pregnancies.

Local nurse Dede Chism, co-founder of Bella Natural Women’s Care and parishioner of Holy Name Parish, reacted to the push for increased contraception funding as a move that further objectifies women and their fertility.

“Contraception exploits a woman’s body,” Chism said from the Englewood clinic. “It says, ‘All of you is OK but your fertility is not OK.’”

These kinds of messages occur when patients are given Band-Aid solutions to fertility issues, such as abnormal uterine bleeding, and are prescribed an IUD as an easy fix, she said.

Bill sponsors tout IUDs as a way to prevent unplanned pregnancies and require little maintenance by women. Yet they do not prevent the risk of STDs and can cause serious medical problems like a perforated uterus or ectopic pregnancy.

Some dissenters of the bill said rather than an infallible way to prevent pregnancy—like abstinence—LARCs undermine the dignity of women.

Chism said women deserve real options that address the source of the fertility issue and should be educated about their bodies.

“We can be giving someone a mixed message in giving them a treatment of symptoms that also affects their fertility. The message that can give is, ‘I need to be afraid of my fertility. I need to not have to worry about my fertility. My sexual choices don’t matter.’”

Bella Natural Women’s Care has responded to the need for healthy fertility options.

The resulting message should be that every part of a woman is good, beautiful and true, she said. Instead of increasing access to contraception, women should have access to fertility awareness.

“Young women, adolescents, and all women deserve to learn how their bodies are working and how their reproductive cycle works,” Chism said. “It’s not so frightening and it’s also super empowering.”

For more information on the bill and how to contact state legislators, visit www.cocatholicconference.org. Read more about the bill here.

 

Coming Up

“Contraception in Teens: Harming your Daughter Today and Tomorrow”
Dr. Stephen Hickner
7:30 p.m. April 15
St. John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St.

“Fertility Awareness: Natural Approaches to Reproductive Health”
Dede Chism, perinatal nurse
7 p.m. April 29
Bella Natural Women’s Care, 180 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood

 

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash