No, Catholics Are Not ‘Coming for Your Birth Control,’ but Biden’s HHS Is Coming for Your NFP
COMMENTARY: It’s painfully clear that the only ‘choices’ in family planning this administration will defend are ones that result in the direct prevention or ending of a pregnancy.
Because of the fervor surrounding the long-awaited demise of Roe v. Wade at the hands of a Catholic majority of Supreme Court justices, some have raised up the specter of Catholic politicians and lobbies intent on banning birth control altogether next.
“The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Next Target: Birth Control,” read a recent headline from the decidedly left-wing publication Mother Jones, which specifically mentioned the organization of which I am editor, Natural Womanhood, as part of a clandestine movement looking to ban birth control. It’s an accusation that has been baselessly levied and repeated so frequently in the weeks that have followed the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that it has become rote. Sometimes the bogeyman “coming for your birth control” is identified as “the right,” and sometimes it’s called “the anti-abortion movement,” but the one group targeted for most of the vitriol — if the interruption of Masses and vandalism of Catholic churches is any indication — is the Church.
As Catholics, we of course believe that the use of artificial birth-control methods for family-planning purposes is antithetical to our faith, to the sacrament of marriage, and to natural law. But no matter what any journalist, politician, pundit or political interest group is telling you, there simply is no concerted Catholic effort underway to ban birth control for anyone. Even at Natural Womanhood, where we promote fertility awareness and inform women about the very real dangers of birth control, we are not seeking to ban birth control (with the exception of Depo Provera, which carries a disproportionately high level of risk to the women who take it), but rather to educate and empower women to know, love and honor their bodies.
In our work at Natural Womanhood, we have found that women (and their doctors) are woefully misinformed about the safety of birth control and utterly blindsided by the side effects and risks, such as depression, blood clots and more. This is why we have a concerted effort underway petitioning the Food Drug Administration, not to remove hormonal birth control from the market, but to update its prescribing information to more accurately reflect the evidence-based risks and side effects inherent to these methods.
To want women to have all the information they need to make informed decisions about family planning is a far cry from trying to “take birth control away” from women, but the author of the Mother Jones hit piece apparently found it damning enough. Furthermore, to equate the vast efforts of Catholics and other Christians to ban the universal, moral evil of abortion, which literally takes the life of a child, with the Catholic prohibition against birth control is political fearmongering at its best.
Meanwhile, as Catholics are being baselessly accused of “coming for your birth control,” the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services’ has literally come for many American Catholics’ family planning method of choice: fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs), often used for natural family planning (NFP).
With their recent cut of FABM coverage from the Affordable Care Act’s list of preventative care services, Biden’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department is literally taking away choices in family planning for the growing number of couples (religious or not) who are choosing these methods. And, at the same time, we hear from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., and the Senate HELP Committee that the Biden administration will now be “crack[ing] down on insurers who are breaking the law and putting up barriers between patients and their birth control … because Republicans have not only struck down Roe and ripped away the right to an abortion, but they have also made it clear they have their sights on the right to birth control next.” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has also made it known that “the Biden Administration is considering setting up abortion providers on federal land in red states,” according to The Washington Examiner. The administration has outlined five top priorities related to “abortion rights” in the wake of Roe’s demise.
It’s painfully clear that the only “choices” in family planning this administration will defend are ones that result in the direct prevention or ending of a pregnancy. Catholics are not coming for your birth control, but the Biden administration is coming for your access to NFP and your state’s constitutional right to regulate abortion as it sees fit, as recently reconfirmed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs.
Grace Emily Stark is the editor of Natural Womanhood. Stark holds a M.A. in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University Chicago and a B.S. in Healthcare Management and policy from Georgetown University. She is a current Ramsay Fellow at the Center for Bioethics and Culture, and in 2019, she was awarded a Robert Novak Alumni Fund Journalism Fellowship.