A now-famous New York magazine cover story of two years ago is not alone in laying out the unfortunate effects of the contraceptive revolution on women’s fertility. We’re all free to make our own choices, but do we always know ahead of time what we’re walking into? If we choose the pill, are we doing it because we want to, or because it’s now what is expected?
When you walk up the steps to Calvary in Jerusalem, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher your eyes are quickly drawn to a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, her heart pierced with pain. Whatever you think about the divinity of Christ, the man Jesus — her son — died on a cross, after a brutal scourging. And she watched the whole thing. We honor that woman; we honor her sacrifice, her love, and her pain. Regardless of the theological debates, there is something special there. The day we forget about her is the day something of our humanity is lost.
It is hard to walk away from her without seeing a message for our times. We are now being led to believe that widespread access to abortion and birth control is what motivates women, politically and otherwise, and that any impediment to the public funding and accessibility of these options constitutes oppression. Pay no attention to the dissent among women. Palin? She’s a c-word.
The president of the National Organization for Women, Terry O’Neill, accuses the U.S. Catholic bishops of being “violently anti-woman” in “demanding that the government step in and use the force and power and police power of the state to prevent women from taking birth control because the bishops have failed. “That statement does a violent disservice to the truth. Does Ms. O’Neill really want to stand by that? Does every member of the Democratic party want to have to defend that comment?
The Catholic Church only recommends its sexual morality. NOW, on the other hand, insists that our politicians impose NOW’s values on the nation. (And make no mistake, that’s exactly what the mandate does.) The old chant of “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” has morphed into a federal fee on my prayers, and if I intend to make my religious faith anything but a passing aspiration, the transformation is a grave imposition.
Our politics today is filled with sorrow. But we can change that — for a start, by expecting more. Transparency is a buzzword. How about we insist that it be an operating principle instead? If the president wishes to shut Catholic and other religious Americans out of the public square because he thinks believers are troglodytes not to be tolerated in polite company, then he should say so. A warning though: That might be a step too far, as it would make his ideological intentions all too clear to a people that might not be with him.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. This column is available exclusively through United Media.