Contraception and little sisters carrying a big stick

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to take the unprecedented step of asking both sides in Zubik v. Burwell to provide further arguments to assist the lower court in arriving at a reasonable compromise. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns and the defendants in the case, sued the federal government to reverse its mandate of providing contraceptives in employee insurance health plans, which the Little Sisters argued violates their freedom to follow the tenets of their religion.

My point here is not to discuss the merits of the case, per se, but rather I want to raise some critical questions concerning how best to protect young people, establish and preserve strong families and communities, aid individuals and families to rise from poverty, and ensure the preservation of humanity from its efforts to self-destruct.

First, though I don’t agree in any way with the Catholic Church’s position on women’s reproductive freedoms and women’s rights (not) to control their own bodies, I at least understand their perspective on abortion. And though I also understand where the Church is coming from on its stands opposing contraception, public school-based sexuality education, homosexuality, and gender-nonconformity, I find these staggeringly irrational and, quite frankly, abusive.

Calling itself the “Little Sisters of the Poor,” the order focuses its attention on aiding elderly poor people, a very noble and extremely honorable and needed service in a country with a shrinking middle class and increasing working class and poor. I value Pope Francis’s outspoken criticisms of unbridled Capitalism, the ever-increasing gulf in wealth between the rich and poor, and what he termed the “idolatry of money.”

We as a society can do much if we joined together to challenge the ideology of unrestrained greed and “free market” economics, and if we acted more communally. We can also assist individuals and families by providing them with accurate and age-appropriate information and tools by which they can make informed and empowered decisions regarding family planning.

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