The following article was written by Carol Hogan, director of Pastoral Projects and Communications for the California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops. It is dated June 26 and is currently posted on the website of the conference.

For a society which treasures “organic” foods, pristine air and green energy we are quite cavalier about polluting female bodies in the name of birth control and “worry-free” sex.

How many women who subject themselves to the birth control pill or menopause relief medication realize that the purpose of those prescriptions is to regulate female “nature”? And isn’t the goal of “controlling” the female reproductive cycles, in fact, to make women more like men!

Working its way through the California Legislature is a bill, AB 2348, which will expand the universe of those who can prescribe or administer hormonal contraceptives. The author, Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, would like to add registered nurses to the list.

The California Catholic Conference will be opposing this bill — not for ideological or theological reasons, as the state of California does not have to adhere to Catholic teaching — but for public policy reasons. We would like to invite a serious conversation about the efficacy and appropriateness of this policy change.
Contraceptives are readily available, inexpensive, covered by most insurance policies and free to those who cannot pay. In other words, there is not an access problem.

Or is there?

I propose that the problem is not the lack of access to contraceptives but their ready access — and this bill will allow even more medical personnel to hand them out. Currently only physicians may prescribe the contraceptives, but their availability is heavily promoted to teens (“You can go to clinics like Planned Parenthood and obtain contraception without giving them identification and without any parent or adult accompanying you. “—from the NARAL Pro-Choice California website). So if access to contraceptives is the rational for AB 2348, the author is ignoring the facts.

That contraceptives are ubiquitous in California is no accident. More than 15 years ago, when the state contraceptive mandate was being debated in the California Legislature, written materials distributed by the sponsors of the legislation likened contraceptives to vaccines, claiming that their ready availability was as important to society as vaccines that prevented disease.

We really have no concrete information on the problems that may result from the long-term use of hormonal contraceptives. Not only are there some studies linking cancer to the ingestion of hormones meant to control ovulation or reduce the effects of menopause, but their easy access may actually encourage sexual activity — possibly producing yet more problems. There are also studies showing emotional damage to women who engage in sexual activity at an early age and/or outside of a marital commitment.

In keeping with society’s move to honor nature, rather than handing out hormonal contraceptives on every street corner, perhaps we ought to educate our young women to honor their natural bodies.