Sunday, July 15, 2012
The London Family Planning Summit and my pastoral experience
I was in Honduras some weeks ago.
I had an unexpected pastoral opportunity which gave me an insight into the difficulties women there face.
Several women had received the contraceptive injection (or vaccine - as if pregnancy were an illness). One did not know she was pregnant at the time and the contraceptive injection provoked the abortion of her pregnancy. She was naturally very upset and racked with guilt. Did the compassionate family planning "professionals" not take the trouble to do a pregnancy test? What care do they take over the women whose interests they claim to have at heart?
Several other women who had received this "treatment" desired to have children but were currently unable to because of the contraceptive. Presumably they bowed to professional advice from doctors and "experts" and went along with it, and now regret it. Might this have been a subtle form of coercion?
Others who had received the injection found that their husbands were now being unfaithful. I wonder whether the men were consulted about their wives being neutered in this manner? Were they helped in any way to understand the need for self-control and respect? Or does a woman's right to control over her body trump any right of the husband to be consulted before his wife is rendered infertile? Does this policy contribute to the stripping of men of their responsibilities and actually enable behaviour that is irresponsible from a sexual health point of view as well as resulting in damaging family breakdown?
I also have to report that I learnt of methods of abortion carried out by women on themselves that I never knew about. The women were, again, racked with guilt but faced at the time with a pregnancy they for some reason felt unable to carry forward, most likely because of fear from the husband who did not want a child as a result of his irresponsible behaviour. Such actions are bound to be prejudicial to the health - physical, spiritual, psychological - of any woman involved. THERE IS A PROBLEM! We cannot deny it, and cases such are these are precisely the ones that the likes of the Gates Foundation (Melinda Gates: I'm a Catholic but women need access to contraceptives) will appeal to in justification of their crusade, and of course will help them promote the cause of "safe abortion."
And now a question that should prod all of us who are pro-life and faithful to the Church's teaching on this matter: how is it that the "family planners" make it to these remote mountain villages to effectively sterilise the populace but we, the Church, and others have not been able to get the good news of Natural Family Planning and true Responsible Parenthood and healthy marriage to these villagers?
The Gates Foundation is clearly successful in getting mega-bucks to promote contraception (Melinda Gates pledges $560M for contraception). If we are to be truly a compassionate Church, we need to find some way of getting this message to these remote areas.
Bear in mind that the villages such as the one I visited get a priest once a year, and during that annual visit the priest will regularise marriages, administer baptisms, hear confessions, anoint the sick... What chance have these people of receiving sound instruction on NFP and the true dignity of marriage and human sexuality?