I have already written a few pieces about the Health and Human Services mandate requiring contraceptives and birth control to be dispensed at no charge as part of group insurance plans. I have made theological and political arguments about the issue here. In a piece published this past weekend on The Public Discourse, Mary Rose Somarriba develops a natural law argument against the mandate and exposes the feminist idea of reproductive justice. Here are a few highlights:
For supporters of the recent HHS mandate that forces religious institutions to buy insurance that makes these items free to their employees and students, the cause served is “reproductive justice.” It was as past president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice that Sandra Fluke testified to Congress—as a victim of injustice who, along with her female peers at Georgetown, suffers from not having contraception paid for her in full.
But what is “reproductive justice”? To help answer that question, perhaps we should first ask: Who is guilty of the injustice? For Fluke, it’s her school that “creates untenable burdens that impede our academic success.” But of course it’s unfair to say that an institution, by not covering the cost of some product, implicitly creates burdens for its female students. My employer, by not covering my preferred allergy medicine, doesn’t create my burden of allergies. My allergy problems are internal to myself. They are, so to speak, natural problems I live with, ones I cannot label as someone else’s fault. Unless I were futilely to blame, say, God or nature.
Even though it seems ridiculous to blame nature for this “injustice,” Somarriba argues that blaming nature is exactly what feminists are doing with their arguments for reproductive justice and reproductive freedom. She continues:
But I would argue that underneath it all, advocates of “reproductive justice” do blame nature. Nature is the true obstacle to these women’s idea of justice.
Fluke might not put it this way, but radical feminists who cling to terms like “reproductive justice” and “reproductive freedom” are really trying to beat the cards that nature dealt them. They want sexual license outside the scope of what nature provides as the healthiest course—sex with one person for a lifetime. They object to the reality that sex can naturally lead to babies, creating burdens that research shows they’d be best suited to bear with the help of a husband. Underneath sexual liberationists’ wish to overthrow patriarchal traditions of marriage and religious institutions’ principles of sexual ethics, there seems to be a wish to overthrow the most stubborn foundation of all—nature herself.
The conclusion of the article is that reproductive justice and reproductive freedom are manufactured “rights” that have no grounding in nature nor the Constitution. Somarriba writes:
So, getting back to our original question: What is “true reproductive freedom”? If it means absolute sexual license without consequences such as pregnancy and children, then it has the unfortunate attribute of never before existing in history. It’s not a freedom that women have ever fully exercised; it isn’t one that was possessed by women at some time but was taken from them and thus needs to be safeguarded from violators.
Nevertheless, terms like “reproductive freedom” and “reproductive justice” are the rallying cries of such advocates. For Hoffman and her comrades, unwanted pregnancy is an unjust imposition on women who are sexually active. Technology such as contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization have nearly evened the scales of reproductive justice—even if not completely; as long as women have had to pay for these things, they’re still being treated unjustly.
The article is an interesting read and worth your time.
Mary Rose Somarriba, “The Battle Against Nature’s Sexism,” The Public Discourse, April 20, 2012.
For my other articles on the so-called “contraceptive mandate,” visit https://evanlenow.wordpress.com/tag/contraception/.