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The Great Contraceptive Slip Up

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Message Gregory Paul

The Roman Church elite and its Evangelical Protestant allies have tried to pull off another fast one on the mainstream media with their attack on the Obama administration's contraception insurance policy. And the mainline press has been suckered to a degree. Even so, the religious right is conducting a perilous effort that may come back to haunt them in November. 

The Catholic elite is fairly skilled at propaganda designed to not only divert attention from the fatal moral flaws of the institution, but go on to twist the situation to their advantage by claiming victimhood. That in turn allows them to put off dealing with the chronic defects. This works in part because the media tends to focus on the immediate issue, without remembering or even comprehending the background of the institution that is claiming to be the poor put upon victim.

What far too few, even on the left, are taking necessary note of is that the men who run the Catholic church form a corrupt, misogynist, patriarchal autocracy that has been oppressing women for millennia, and is using the contraceptive controversy as a tool to not only continue the oppression of the sex that has no say in church doctrine, but is skillfully garnering some
sympathy for their repressive policies.

That the modern Catholic Church is waging an archaic cultural war on women is best revealed by the shocking Phoenix Affair of 2010. That was when a nun working at a Catholic associated hospital dared save the life of a woman by authorizing an emergency abortion (details at She was excommunicated for her core decency, and the Arizona hospital later was divorced from the church when it backed the decision of their employee (that they legally had to -- failing to treat the women would have left them vulnerable to charges of negligent homicide as well as civil suits).

In El Salvador Rome has been successful in making abortion outright murder, so a woman who performs an abortion on herself is legally subject to years of imprisonment. Make no mistake, the Vatican ardently desires to impose this draconian misogyny on the entire globe. It is a sheer power play dressed up as the alleged will of God.

Opposition to abortion and contraceptives is a nonBiblical concoction in that neither is actually banned in the book. Also disproving the notion that God is opposed to abortion is the fact that the human reproductive system the creator supposedly has a hand in designing is so inefficient that most pregnancies naturally fail to come to term ( Nor did the Catholic Church really start cracking down on womens' reproductive rights until the later 1800s, just as its equal opportunity inquisitions came to an end under the pressure of modernity, the church started picking on women as they still make sociopolitically weaker targets for clerical oppression under ginned up pretexts. Men would not put up with such nonsense, and they have the power to protect their rights.

Claiming to be victimized by government regulation is a neat trick to dodge some of the flak from the long series of assorted scandals sexual and financial that the Roman Church has been embroiled in. It's not just the pedophile affairs that have been exposed in many western nations and probably have yet to be exposed in the work and educational institutions of the late last century. (And it is not just how neoCatholic Newt Gingrich played up the controversy regardless of his personal history It is the notorious Marcial Maciel disaster in which the Mexican cleric who was a favorite of John Paul II exhibited behavior so outrageous in depth and scale that the National Catholic Reporter -- that's the National CATHOLIC Reporter -- had to ask "behind these questions loom others about money in the Vatican. Are envelopes with thousands of dollars in cash given to cardinals when they say Mass, give talks or have dinner in a religious house mere donations?" There is the fantastic Martin Frankel Affair in which the Vatican is accused by state insurance commissioners of being involved in the biggest insurance scam in American history (

The Catholic Church can never be reformed. This is not an exaggeration for effect, it is literally true. The institution is inherently nondemocratic because the Roman Church is the Mother Church because it claims a direct line of papal descent from Christ and Peter in which each Pope designates the tiny elite who will designate the next Pope and so on. If the church went democratic and allowed the laity to have a say in who is going to run the church, then the divine chain would be broken and the faith would be just another denomination among many. This is an ethically fatal flaw because only democratic organizations can reform themselves, absolute power corrupting absolutely of course. That such a major establishment as the global church is allowed to remain a dictatorship and at the same time is the object of considerable deference if not respect is itself a scandal that enables and ensures
continuing corruption of the man dominated body./

For the church that only adopted the concept of freedom of thought and speech in the 1960s, and then only in response to the overwhelming pressures of enlightened modernity, is rich. It is also dubious. And this leads us to how the Obama administration messed up in presenting its original religion-contraceptive coverage regs, and how the media not only slipped up in its uninformed coverage, but aided the religious right.

You have to wonder what is going on with the administration. 28 states already have laws requiring religious institutions to provide contraceptive insurance similar to the new requirements, and eight of the states including some conservative ones are even more demanding of churches. In many cases it was Republicans, Mike Huckabee among them, who approved of the procontraceptive regulations as Rachel Maddow has been detailing. And the previous regulations have been repeatedly ruled constitutional by the courts, with the right dominated Supreme Court giving the situation the equivalent of a legal yawn. All the Obama folks had to do was conduct the proper research on the precedents and include them as background justifications when the policy was announced. And less officially let the press and public know that even most Catholics have approved of these arrangements without fuss and bother. Duh.

There is, however, a counterview proposed by Bill Maher among others that the actions of the Obama crowd are actually an intentional set up to expose the extremism of the right in an election year that looks like it will more involve the culture wars than many expected, all the more since the economy may be on the mend. Then come up with a middle of the road compromise that leaves both most feminists and many Catholics reasonably happy. This would explain why the President himself offered the compromise rather than having a lesser figure do it. And the scheme may be working. The Catholic bishops, hard right think tanks like Focus on the Family, and a number of Repub politicians are rejecting any meeting the middle, demanding complete surrender by progressives and moderates to their extremist opinion. In Congress some Repubs are offering up legislation that will allow anyone in the medical profession who has a moral objection to any procedure to decline to insure or conduct the same. It is an attempt to gut Obamacare that if passed would cause havoc in medical care regardless of the system in effect. All this is very dangerous for the right.

As Rachel Maddow has explaind, theoconservatism is opposed to not just abortion, but wants to return the nation to the 1950s birth control wise, when much of the contraceptive arsenal was illegal across much of the land. The Obama scheme has helped let the electorate know how primitive Republican attitudes on sex are here in the 2000s, a time when Virginia Republicans are working to force women from housewises to rape victims who want to undergo an early term abortion to first receive a vaginal ultrasound. When even nearly all Catholics have at some point refused to follow the church ban on contraception, and surveys indicate that a solid majority approve the Obama position, this sort of thing can give the Democrats an edge in a close election.

Even so, that the White House did not do some basic public relations ground work improved the ability of the religious right Catholic and Protestant to scream Constitutional religious freedom and gin up yet another spurious wedge issue. Loving the hullabaloo, a large chunk of the mainstream press pretty much went along with the theoconservative line and presented the issue as a simplistic religious freedom issue, rather than first doing the basic research into the precedents.

Thus the Washington Post editors quickly bashed the Obama position before the paper's reporters who do actual work detailed how there was nothing at all exceptional about the the regulations. Even on the young Turks the progressives were going along with the Obama policy revisions until Matt Stoller brought them up short with the ineligibility of the all male, undemocratic Catholic leadership to be the ones who tell women what they can and cannot have in terms of contraceptive insurance coverage. The great patriarchy is trying to use religious freedom to cover its past errors and future designs while garnering public sympathy. It's a scandal in more ways than one.

It cannot be overemphasized how pernicious and unethical the position of those who want to be free to deny contraceptives to patients is. It is a deeply narcissistic, self aggrandizing orientation in which those who claim to be caregivers are claiming the right to put priority not on doing their job and their primary duty -- providing care to the patients -- but on protecting their own sensibilities at the expense of their charges. This is not an honorable position, it is an attempt to curry favor with a supernatural entity. In case you had not heard when it comes to the medical professional/patient relationship it is supposed to be about the patient, not the doctor, nurse, pharmacist. If someone wants to be in health care then do the damn job and put the priority on meeting the needs and desire of your patients, not on your selves. If you can't do that then get another job. This is true if you are a Catholic, an Anglican, born again, Hindu, atheist"

Progressive politicians need to do a better job of getting their messaging act together. And the mainstream media and press need to get their reporting act together, and stop treating the misogynist Catholic elites and their right wing born-again collaborators with the automatic assumption that they should be taken seriously when it comes to ethical issues, especially those involving the women they are bent upon keeping in second class status in their self obsessed search for power on earth and eternity in heaven. 

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Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work (more...)
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