Transformational Issues
Under the surface of the HHS debate.

Teresa Tomeo, author of Extreme Makeover


Do any women actually believe the Catholic Church’s teaching on “reproductive health,” as contraception and abortion are euphemistically referred to? How could such things even be healthy? Teresa Tomeo, the author of Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture, shares some thoughts on these matters with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: How does a “former women’s libber and secular journalist” come to write a book against conformity to culture?

TERESA TOMEO: Through the grace of God, frankly. I had bought into most of the lies the culture was selling, and suffered greatly as a result of my bad choices. I had to hit rock bottom in my professional and personal life before being able to see that I couldn’t really do anything entirely on my own. My favorite Scripture verse is John 15:5, where Jesus tells us he is the vine, and we are the branches. If we break away from him we can’t do anything. I had totally accepted the tenets of radical feminism, putting myself first. I almost lost my marriage and, more importantly, my soul. I had to be fired from a prominent media position and be stripped of almost everything in order for me to take a good look at myself. It was the most painful time in my life but also one of the most fruitful.

LOPEZ: You seek “to tell as many people as [you] can — especially women — that [you were] wrong and that the Church was — and is — right!” When the White House is moving against the legality of practicing some of the stuff Catholicism teaches, why the heck would anyone be receptive to such a message?

TOMEO: Because, as Glenn Beck recently said, “We are all Catholics now.” In other words, the HHS-mandate issue is about religious liberty and the right of conscience, which affects everyone of any faith — not just Catholics. The government does not have the right to tell any religion what it can and cannot teach — and that is basically what this administration is trying to do. They are trying to define their version of “religion.”

LOPEZ: What does the new “free birth control for all” policy of the United States mean to you?

TOMEO: That according to those in the current administration, there is only one acceptable ideology in this country — pro-contraception and pro-abortion. It’s their way or the highway, as the old saying goes; and it is very eye-opening as the lines are becoming much clearer. I see this, though, as a great opportunity for all people of faith — particularly in the Church — to lead the way in the fight for our basic constitutional rights.

LOPEZ: What do you think when you hear Catholic conscience protests dismissed because so many Catholics don’t practice what priests don’t even preach?

TOMEO: Most people go at least ten miles over the speed limit; that doesn’t make their actions correct. There is a very high percentage of young people who engage in underage drinking. That doesn’t mean we should lower the legal age limit to 14 just because “everyone” is supposedly doing this or that. To me, this is such an immature response. Just as with particular laws we have established in society, the Church has also established her own set of teachings for our benefit. It seems that this type of argument is only brought up when we are dealing with issues below the belt. I also question some of the statistics that the anti-Catholic pundits are using when it comes to the number of Catholics using contraception.