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My Take: Contraception denigrates me as a woman
February 16th, 2012
12:13 PM ET

My Take: Contraception denigrates me as a woman

Editor’s Note: Valerie Pokorny is actively involved in marriage preparation programs, natural family planning instruction and chastity education in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas.

By Valerie Pokorny, Special to CNN

(CNN) – In the face of the Health and Human Services mandate to provide contraception coverage, I stand with my fellow Catholics hoping our religious freedom will be respected.

But more importantly, I stand as a woman hoping who I am will be respected.

Four times a year, I walk into a room of Catholic moms and their middle school or high school daughters to help them see why being a woman matters, as part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s Mother-Daughter Programs on the Gift of Femininity.

Read the full story here from CNN's In America Blog.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Content Partner • Opinion

soundoff (435 Responses)
  1. Terry G

    If you were REALLY concerned about following the teachings of the bible and church you would be quiet, subservient, barefoot and at home cooking and cleaning. Should you lose your healthcare because you choose to work?

    February 23, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  2. cactuslili

    As some people pointed out, we all pay for things in taxes and insurance premiums that we'd rather not support, but that is the way it goes in case you haven't seen that in effect. You think we all like paying insurance premiums for people with lung cancer because they smoked too much? Or alcoholic/drug addiction fees for people who had problems with these

    February 23, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  3. J.W

    I still we have the religious freedom for Catholics battle going on here. Everyone knows Catholics are the most persecuted group of people in history.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • J.W

      I see we still have....

      February 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • serdich

      what you expect..they are just bunch of pedophiles..

      February 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Bob B

      Yes – I remember from the history books how all those Catholics who went to the Holy Land during the Crusades were persecuted by heathens rudely and cruelly throwing themselves on the Crusaders' swords. Catholics just can't get a break.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • theHarp

      Remember the Catholics ran the inquisition. They murdered tens of thousands of Huguenots for daring to read the Bible themselves. They persecuted protestants for the same. They burned thousands of women at the stake claiming they were 'witches'. They locked up tens of thousands of single women in Ireland they considered too loose. Perhaps what you meant to say is that the Catholics are the group that has persecuted others the most.

      February 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  4. Bobs Friend

    NO, you insist that Churches finance this culture of death.

    You Liberals are really playing with fire on this one.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Tom

      You are obviously a brainwashed imbecile

      February 21, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • HIM

      "...Christians to have to pay for abortive pills, and I don't want Christians to be forced to pay for something they find morally objectionable..."

      Right now our TAX dollars are used to fund a lot of things we don't agree with...while churches operate tax-free advancing agendas that harm the public good. It's not as simple as you present it sir and it's not about liberals vs conservatives...

      February 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • lili

      Would you like to explain how preventing pregnancy is a culture of death? If nothing is conceived, then nothing can die. And anyway, who are you to prevent women from making choices over birth control?

      February 24, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  5. Bobs Friend

    It is not enough for you that people can go out and purchase these pills at their own expense, or purchase secular insurance that provides it,

    February 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • That one guy

      Secular insurance? It isn't about insurance companies, its about the primary care provider.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • HIM

      Secular insurance...LMAO

      February 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  6. jodi blatt

    So if I work for a company owned by a Christian Scientist, could they morally deny me all medical insurance? That doesn't seem right. There's no difference here. As one of the millions of Catholics that would have liked to see the church equally outraged by the abuse of actual children instead of potential ones, I'm shocked this issue has any traction at all.

    February 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Bob B

      I bet the GOP/Christian conservative answer to that is that you should just go find a job with an employer who provides the sort of healthcare insurance you want.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  7. Chellee

    Personally, I am Catholic and don't really care if you take the pill or not, it's your choice. But I do not think it is right to be forced to pay for something you don't believe in or goes against your moral beliefs. It should be up to each individual insurance company or employer to decide whether or not to cover something, not our government. If an employer does not like the formulary of an insurance company, then they can find an insurance company they agree with. I have a friend who got pregnant while she was on the pill, and NO she did not miss and it was after she had been taking it for over a year, so please don't try to make the pill the cure all for unwanted pregnancies. Yes it may help, but so does a condom and that is hormone free, just a bit more inconvienent for the male...

    February 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • C hriis

      Isn't the catholic church against condoms also?

      February 21, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Dina

      Businesses cannot be allowed to choose what practices they will or will not follow. This is no an ala carte country. People seem to forget that health coverage is in lieu of salary. That means instead of being PAID in dollars, medical coverage is provided. The vast majority of American women, and that includes Catholics, use some form of birth control. Women who work in religiously affiliated businesses are denied the benefits provided by almost all private and publicly run companies and organizations.
      What if these religious leaders decided that they won't collect taxes because the money goes towards war?

      February 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • lili

      Did you read the comments above that say we all have to pay for things we don't necessarily agree with...? Why should Catholics be allowed exemption just because not everyone agrees with their religion? Have you or anyone you know ever had coverage for a health problem that was brought on by your own actions? Well, by your reasoning, why should anyone else have to pay for your benefits? Lots of people pay into insurances that routinely cover other people's health problems. So stop your complaining and quit asking for preferential treatment.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  8. jj

    Just turn the other cheek and worry about your own body and soul.

    February 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • lili

      To Bobs Friend: no one said Catholics can't build hospitals with their religious beliefs. The point is, do they have the right to tell secular insurance companies not to cover birth control just because it clashes with their beliefs. We who pay insurance premiums all pay for some people whose conditions or choices we don't agree with. Why does the Catholic Church expect exemption? Why does the Catholic Church think it has the right to dictate to all women about birth control?

      February 24, 2012 at 4:45 am |
  9. govspy

    Religion seems to have a problem letting people have the freedom to choose just about anything for themselves.

    February 19, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • AGuest9

      Simultaneously teach about free will and a god that is omniscient and omnipresent throughout time? A little bit of a paradox.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Bobs Friend

      And Atheists seem to have a problem with people choosing to build a hospital or a school based on their own moral principals. Why don't you support the freedom of Christians to run hospitals as they see fit?
      The simple answer is that I want things the way I want them, and you want things the way you want them.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Bobs Friend

      And in this case the ideas are mutually exclusive: You want Christians to have to pay for abortive pills, and I don't want Christians to be forced to pay for something they find morally objectionable.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Tom

      She states "I stand as a woman hoping who I am will be respected" What a joke! The Catholic church has through the centuries, and continues to treat women as second class citizens. See any women priests?

      February 21, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  10. Karen

    Why is this even a question? Beyond religious liberty, the concept of including birth control as preventive care is moronic. Preventive care is for prevention of diseae, I.e. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes. That is where federal money will make the most impact. Pregnancy is not a disease. Any basic medical text can tell you this. If you need references to have this confirmed, let me know.

    February 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • govspy

      Hey Karen, how many women need birth control pills to regulate their monthly cycle? Or how many women have painful periods, and birth control pills help alleviate that.

      I love how ignorant people think they can speak for everyone, and then want to reduce other people's rights.

      If you don't need it fine. Others do. They are not trying to limit your rights. You are trying to limit women's rights. Not a very smart thing for a modern woman to do. Or are you just obeying your husband or your husband's church.

      Think for yourself. That's what most smart women do. Then again, you appear to not be one of them.

      February 19, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Karen

      Actually I as a physician, I can tell you that not that many women need it for those reasons. Stop trying to hide behind the cloak of painful periods. There are diseases which have a broader impact on society, more money, more time off work, more disability, and more mortality, that should be addresses.

      This is being spun as a women s health issue when at the heart, it becomes the administration s attack on religious liberty. Take whatever you need to take to make yourself feel better. But ultimately, our money should be spent in the prevention of diseases, ie breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer.

      February 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's your opinion. I disagree. There is plenty of evidence that a society succeeds when women can control their own reproductive lives. I pay taxes and insurance premiums, too, and I believe contraception should be covered.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Karen

      No one is saying that women cannot take contraception. This is about religious liberty. Who pays for it? It is against the moral teaching of the Catholic Church. Thus, they should not have to pay for it, directly or indirectly. That is what is at stake here. The moment we give in and allow the government to force us to go against our religious beliefs, our first amendment rights, one of the primary reasons this country was founded, we lose a bit of ourselves. Don't lose sight of your freedoms.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • govspy

      @Karen

      You know what Karen? If I have to choose between protecting tow groups (Religions and Women), guess which one I'm going to side with. Women. Because one group has far too much power in how my government works as it is. One group has been assaulting women's rights for CENTURIES. If you're a doctor, then I suppose you went to college. Ever study women's history? Well, if you went to a religious college, I guess I can understand why you're a little fuzzy on that subject. Get un-brainwashed by your cult, lady, and figure out that this isn't about religious freedom. If so-called Christians like yourself were under attack by the government, there might actually be a little more personal freedoms going around. Instead we lose ground every day.

      February 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • karen

      Hey, I majored in women's studies in college...just a normal liberal arts college education. I have read all about women's history. I understand the framework.

      I have chosen my faith. It is an act of love. It is through an understanding of my faith not brainwashing. I think it is a shame when women bash other women for having a difference of opinion. It takes us all back to the nineteenth century.

      Religious freedom will not be negated. Truth and justice will prevail.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • RBSG

      Karen,
      Have you ever considered everything you pay for (directly or indirectly) that supports things against the moral teachings of the catholic church? For example, a public library provides books, some of which are highly critical of the catholic church and some of which directly contradict the moral teachings of the catholic church. Therefore, (by your logic), we could also say that religious liberty is at stake because you are paying for this, whether directly or indirectly.

      There are a myriad of examples. That is just one.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Tom

      No, you are moronic. Birth control is a health care choice that must be available to women as individuals to make their own choice, The decision must not be made by a church, dominated by men who have discriminated against women since the founding of Chjristianity

      February 21, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • serdich

      You must from Arkansas..no ?
      how do you threat painful menstruation due to endometrioisis...with oral contraceptive pills.

      February 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • lili

      Karen, birth control is for the PREVENTION of unwanted pregnancies. It PREVENTS people from having children they don't want to have. Why are you Christians so liberal about bringing unwanted children into the world? Are you prepared to take responsibility of them once they are no longer in the womb? Because if a woman doesn't want them, they often end up in a miserable state. Why is it a sin to prevent that from happening? Your religion is totally illogical and impractical. And one thing more: it's YOUR religion, not everyone else's.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • theHarp

      However it is completely fine to cover vasectomy's?

      February 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • miriam

      Karen, if you really were a physician, you'd know that insurance companies pay out far, far more for the birth of a baby than they would pay out for years of birth control pills. For women who want and/or need these medications, it's a win/win. For those who don't want it, they are not being forced to take it, and they can have all the babies they want.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  11. PlayCracktheSky

    Do any of you arguing that NFP is effective know that s.perm can survive up to 5 days in the va.gina? do those of you that practice NFP plan for that? i'm sorry but i don't want to practice "self control". i want to have s.ex with my husband whenever i have the urge, which is often. i want to do that without risk of of getting pregnant. like i said, we have one child and that's enough for us. plus we're not religious so the restriction of contraceptives doesn't apply to us. i just don't see the problem with insurance covering it. i also don't see how insurance covering birth control oppresses religious freedom or denigrates women. some women don't want 15 kids and actually enjoy s.ex. sorry to those of you who don't enjoy it, your husbands must be sh.itty lovers.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Karen

      Try the creighton method. It works great. Increasing communication with your spouse will only bring you closer. It likes having a honeymoon each month....who doesn't like honeymoons.

      February 19, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ah, so the truth comes out. You're a Catholic. That hardly makes you unbiased, Karen.

      Why don't you explain how NFP is okay dokey but other means of family planning are not? Do you think God doesn't see that you are trying to prevent a life from occurring by abstaining from s3x during specific times? Why is that fine and dandy?

      Really, you nuts are funny.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Karen

      Do your research. NFP is allowed because procreation is not prevented. We are open to life all the time. I don't hide that I am a Catholic and that is the framework from which I express my opinion. Neither do you or anyone else posting. What does that have to do with anything?

      The reality is that voices of women are heralded and exalted as long as it is the acceptable opinion. What happened to the open-minded liberal thinking? Is it only open-minded if it agrees with what you think?

      February 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, dipwad, it's only open-minded if it respects what I choose as well as what you deem is acceptable to your sky-fairy. No one gives a ripe fuck what you choose to believe, but when you attempt to force others to abide by your silly superst itions, you are stepping on rights that are not within your say-so. Butt the fck out.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Karen

      It s a shame you have to resort to such vile language. Maybe your argument is falling flat. Once again, the argument is about religious liberty.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • tj

      I'm intimately familiar with NFP. For some couples it is a good alternative to other means of birth control. It's effective enough if done properly with no side effects to worry about.

      However, for busy couples who already have some difficulty making time for intimacy, it often only makes things worse. I am unfortunately speaking from experience. The idea that a couple is any more "Open to Procreation" because they use NFP for birth control instead of a condom (for example) is splitting moral hairs.

      In my opinion the Catholic church should be more concerned with couples having a healthy marriage than their method of birth control. But I'm not the Pope and I don't get to make that call. The Catholic church really has no alternative but to continue their position on this issue. A previous Pope made it part of official church doctrine in spite of the objection of many-many bishops at the time. Anyway, since that Pope made it official, it is now "infallible". You can't undo it without calling into deep question the Church's authority on any moral matter.

      To go back and admit

      February 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • karen

      It is because the Church is interested in healthy marriages that it has this doctrine on contraception.

      I would direct you to Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • serdich

      creighton method ? seriously .. in 21 century..ha ha ha...how about quick withdrawal..will that also work.

      February 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • miriam

      Karen, you do realize that the people at the head of the Catholic Church, who think they know how to make marriages healthy, are people who are not now and never will be married, right?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  12. AGuest9

    It's her opinion. Why CNN gives her a forum to announce it far and wide as an "educated" op-ed piece is CNN's business. Did I mention that was HER opinion?

    February 18, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • lili

      This is a question for Karen. Why do you say that using your form of birth control is not preventing pro creation? That doesn't make sense! If you abstain so that you don't get pregnant, that is birth control.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  13. tallulah13

    This woman is emotionally and financially vested in keeping birth control out of the hands of women. Her job, and what little prestige that she as a woman can get from the catholic church, depends on women thinking that birth control is bad. She allows her decisions to be dictated by a patriarchal religious organization that considers women to be no only lesser beings, but also the original cause of humanity's "downfall".

    But somehow the freedom to control her own fertility, something that is beneficial to women, children and society as a whole, is the thing that denigrates her?

    Crazy.

    February 18, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • lili

      For Karen again. No, the argument is not about religious liberty. It is about religion imposing its will on all women who might not agree with your religious views. You're a doctor, you say, so you should know that people who pay insurance premiums end up covering all kinds of other people's health issues. Obesity is a major health crisis in our country and comes under the 7 deadly sins, that of gluttony. Does the Catholic Church object to paying for meds that obese people need, such as high blood pressure pills, high cholesterol pills, etc.? And if I disagree with your religious views, should I be restricted from obtaining meds that help me with my personal health choices? You're so unfair in your reasoning.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:55 am |
  14. Reality

    The real "Obamacare" i.e. getting re-elected on the backs of 39 million aborted womb babies by using the votes of the 78 million voters involved in said abortions.

    And the irony:

    All because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    February 18, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • nancy

      Abortions and unwed pregnancy's are dropping. Because of birth control. If you want to further reduce abortions, make birth control part of fully covered women's health care. Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Why wouldn't the Catholic church like that?

      February 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • lili

      OMG, you're so egocentric! You think that all votes are strictly related to your personal religious issues! I did not vote for the president because of any abortions that you claim were the reason he got elected. Wow. I voted for him because I wanted a big change from the GOP, especially George W. Bush! At least you make an argument for the use of birth control pills. Why don't you tell your Christians that proper use of birth control actually reduces abortions. So why are they so against birth control? And why, or why, do you think you have the right to dictate to others what their personal health choices should be?

      February 24, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  15. penquin

    The paying for contraception law has no relation to freedom of religion and as a Catholic I am offended that you would think that it does. It is about employers following a law that was voted on and passed in our Congress. If you don't like the law, exercise your right to vote and try to get it changed. Strong arming our government is not fair. The saddest thing is that all the good that Catholic organizations do gets ignored because our bishops make an issue out of something like this which is really not their business.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  16. Vanka

    Religious people forget that other human beings walk the face of the earth, too, and some of them are also Americans, and some of them also work for Catholic owned hospitals, and many of them want contraception and have paid and will continue to pay their share of premiums to receive the health insurance coverage they desire.

    It has nothing to do with you and your feelings about being a woman and a Catholic. It has everything to do with other people getting the insurance coverage for which they are paying premiums, and for which they are working and providing value to the company, whether religiously owned or not!

    February 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  17. sirobvious

    if you'd like to really be denigrated as a woman, call me

    February 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  18. Naija

    No body is forcing you to take it,Just don't impose your religion beliefs on the rest of us either.Freedom to choose is paramount to what the guy in the sky order you in particular to do,does not have to apply to the rest of us.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Naija

    No body is forcing you to take it,Just don't impose your religion beliefs the rest of us either.Freedom to choose is paramount to what the guy in the sky order you in particular to do,does not have to apply to the rest of us.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  20. achepotle

    dumb twaat

    February 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.