Speaking for myself, I was thrilled to receive an email last Friday morning asking me to consider signing:
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, SECRETARY SEBELIUS
AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
I read the short text in support of the Catholic Church’s position in its recent controversy over government-mandated contraception coverage. Then, like 750 other women over the next 72 hours, I authorized my signature. In this post, I address “Why?” Why was this letter written in the first place? Why did I sign it? And why might you consider signing it and/or asking the women in your life to consider both the viewpoint of the letter and signing this unique letter on matters at the heart of femaleness and religious beliefs.
The letter was drafted by Helen Alvare, a lawyer and an associate professor of law at George Mason University. I asked Professor Alvare – an already overloaded full-time professor and mother – why she launched this effort. Here is what she told me:
[I had this] idea while cooking dinner. [There are] too many smart women, of too many faiths, happy that the Catholic Church refuses to stand down against the contraception and abortion lobbies and the “received wisdom” that sex divorced from children and even from a relationship with a person of the opposite sex is an unmitigated good. You would have to be willfully blind to ignore the scholarly evidence pointing to difficulties for women in the current environment made possible in some part by the government’s large scale contraception and abortion promotion.
Professor Alvare decided to give voice so that the experiences, concerns and perspective of all women might be heard in this controversy. Working with attorney Kim Daniels, the Open Letter circulated to broad support and is now posted for review and further signatures at www.womenspeakforthemselves.org.
Who has and is signing this letter? Who are these women who are taking the time and braving backlash in their personal and professional lives? They are: “Doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, mothers, business owners, community volunteers, scholars — women from all walks of life [who] are proud to stand together with the Catholic Church and its invaluable witness.”
I am one of the lawyers. I signed the letter for three reasons.
- No matter whether you agree or not with the widespread use and subsidies of contraception, there are serious – very serious – downsides to the female-targeted, commercially lucrative practice of hormonal birth control. It has hurt and will continue to hurt MANY women, in their bodies, in their relationships, in their fertility and in their emotional well-being. The fact that some women support it, use it, profit by it, live off its financial proceeds even – does not change one iota the harm that is occurring within our gender.
- The voices of those harmed are often invalidated, shamed, ignored, ridiculed and even targeted for personal attack. If they are people of faith, trying to voice faith based objections to being involved in contraceptive practices, they are additionally barraged with scorn toward their personal beliefs.
- The Roman Catholic Church – and the collective voice of the Bishops in the United States – remains the last standing, large, institution giving voice to the women who are being silenced, even by others of their own gender. It is legally wrong and practically dangerous to allow the Roman Catholic Church to be silenced on these critical issues of conscience, belief and fact.
Professor Alvare, myself and, no doubt, every signatory to this letter asks that you share read it, share it on your blog, your Facebook page, your social networks – if it speaks for you, please sign it. We must work “WOMAN TO WOMAN” through every outlet we have so that our voices can be heard and the Roman Catholic Church is supported in voicing a perspective and teachings which the contraceptive industries desperately seek to silence.