By Joe Morris Doss
The former Governor of Arkansas, Presidential candidate, and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee issued the bold declaration that “women aren’t weaklings!” Wow. And then he went on to explain that they are not “in need of government handouts, including the contraception mandate in Obamacare.”
According to his reasoning, the mandate to provide women with contraception insurance for their health care is an “insult to the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without ‘Uncle Sugar’ coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system.”
“…because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system.” Read that again, please.
I feel like I am old enough and have enjoyed enough experiences that I am hard to shock. But even I find myself nonplused.
Birth control is one of the great health care discoveries and applications of the twentieth century.
For most of history, women lived with the strong possibility of become pregnant when they did not want to be, and for most of the years of their lives this was the dominant concern, often it was a fear. Finally women found themselves able to plan this basic, preventive health care for themselves. It helps women plan their pregnancies and manage their lives, and many women use it for a variety of other medical reasons, including treatment of endometriosis, which can lead to infertility.
One brief reflection: I should not have been surprised even by the incredible way Huckabee voiced the issue. Like it or lump it, the question of contraception is not going away. This will be a significant, perhaps decisive, issue in the coming political campaigns. If you are an American citizen, it looks like you are going to have to make up your mind and take a personal stand because your vote may be a vote for or against birth control.
I know this is a complicated matter, formed by many different issues over a range of concerns and disciplines.
There are issues of law, such as rights of religious freedom, that soon will be considered by the Supreme Court of the land.
There are profound, widely scoped issues of religion, such as what is to be considered “natural” and “unnatural,” what is the appropriate use of human creativity in creating opportunities that cooperate with the purposes of God in creation, and what is human interference in the arrangements of creation set once and for all by God.
There are issues of morality, questioning when it is right or wrong to use our libidinous urges and to what extent, and, most importantly, when to engage in sexual intercourse.
At the Threshold needs to offer you an opportunity to examine this issue in sufficient depth that you come to know your own mind through an examination of the ins and outs regarding the use of contraception. We would love to have you contribute your thoughts, whether you are a constitutional lawyer, a medical doctor, a woman having to make highly personal decisions, or a man who has his own, personal, stakes in this issue.
Joe Morris Doss, founder and president of “At the Threshold,” has served parishes in Louisiana and California as an Episcopal priest, and the Diocese of New Jersey as Bishop. Bishop Doss has long been involved in civil rights activism, including the integration of LSU while he was student body president. He was the founding president of Death Penalty Focus, the founding chair of the National Center for AIDS in San Francisco, and together with Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, the organizer of a famous rescue mission that freed thousands of pardoned political prisoners from Cuba. Bishop Doss is the author of several books including “Songs of the Mothers” and “Let the Bastards Go.” With his son Andrew Doss, he co-wrote the drama “Earnest,” about the transformation of a death row inmate.