Vatican: Choosing to Lie Rather Than Respect Women

Christian theology puts a great deal of weight on the
concept of "free will," for an understandable reason.  After all, the concept of sin doesn’t make
much sense if God didn’t give humans a free choice to sin or not to sin, and the
concept of redemption also doesn’t make as much sense if it’s not a freely made
choice, but coerced somehow from an all-powerful God.  In the same universe of belief, Satan is
known as the Prince of Lies, a character who tries to steal your freely made
choices from you by lying and misrepresenting reality to you.  In general, Christian theology comes down
pretty hard on liars, making false witness one of the Big Ten No-Nos that right
wingers are eager to slap onto monuments in every courthouse and
schoolyard.  This observation — that lying
is a form of coercion, an attempt to take away your free choice — is one of the
better things that Christianity has contributed to the world. 

Why then, when it comes to reproductive rights, does the Vatican turn
its back on millennia of teaching about the satanic nature of lying?  It seems there’s no deception in which the Vatican won’t
engage in their efforts to get women to bear children against their will. Already we have reason to
believe that Catholic officials are lying to people about the effectiveness of
condoms in order to convince them not to use condoms.
  And now the Vatican is using its authority to
promote pseudo-scientific
claims about the environmental dangers of the birth control pill.

Many of us are shielded from the
silliness of these claims, realizing that the Catholic Church is a church, not a scientific organization. But sadly a number
of people out there are willing to believe claims like this, made by the church,
because they can’t quite come around to believing that the Catholic Church is
abusing its authority.

But abusing it they are.

The pill "has for some years
had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into
nature" through female urine, said Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi,
president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, in
the report.

"We have sufficient evidence
to state that a non-negligible cause of male infertility in the West is the
environmental pollution caused by the pill," he said, without elaborating

You’ve got to love how they added the dig about male
infertility on top of the unscientific claims being falsely presented as
science.  That’s a rather unsubtle way of exposing the Vatican’s underlying tensions, especially the belief that female independence somehow
damages men who are the "rightful" owners of female bodies.  

The argument about the pill is one that’s been popular with
anti-choicers for a long time. After all, these are the same people who hold unscientific scientific beliefs that link breast cancer and abortion (disproven) and belive that fetuses sit
around worrying about abortion. But the argument about the pill is based on a chain of assumptions that make less sense the more you delve.  It’s true that sperm counts in human males
are down, and this may be related to the presence of environmental estrogen
mimickers that
have been linked to sexual and reproductive cancers
, as well as diminishing
fish populations.  But the effects haven’t
been measured realistically in any way at all, and much more research is needed
to prove this link.  Even conceding
that environmental estrogens are a problem, there’s no reason to think that the
birth control pill contributes, since (as an AP article notes), the estrogens
are broken down by women’s bodies before they expel waste. 

More importantly, we do know that the majority of environmental
estrogens are actually linked not to evil, evil sex, but actually to the
more mundane act of eating. Most environmental
estrogens come from pesticides and growth hormones given to cattle.
  If you’re worried about it, look more to the
hamburger on your plate than the pill pack in your medicine cabinet (though it
is true that the plastic package on your birth control pills is also a culprit
in the contribution of fake estrogens to the environment).  None of this is proven, but if you’re even
talking about the possible source of the problem, pesticides and plastics rank
much higher than birth control pills as a threat.

This is why the Vatican
claim is fundamentally dishonest. 
They’re not opposed to birth control pills because they’re a threat to
the environment. If the environment was really their concern, they’d be
more worried about pesticide run-off than the private choices women make to avoid
conception.  They’re engaging in
dishonest tactics in the hope of tricking women into giving up their freely
made choices. 

Why does the Vatican
fear honest discourse on this subject?
The real argument against contraception from their point of view is that
it thwarts God’s plans for sex and marriage. 
If they believe it, why not just put it out there as it is, and allow
women to consider it and freely decide whether or not they’ve persuaded
us?  I do believe it’s frustrating for
them to know that most women, even believing Catholics, reject the idea that
we don’t really love our men unless we risk pregnancy every time we touch them – but that’s no excuse to resort to lying and coercion. 

Perhaps they could try to hone their arguments?  I suspect those arguments will continue to be
rejected, but they could try.  Perhaps
they could consider the monstrous idea that women who use contraception have a
good reason for our choices.  But of
course, that would require treating women like we’re knowledgeable people
about our own experiences, human beings with opinions worth considering.  I suppose that for many in the church
hierarchy, the "respecting women" choice is too awful to bear, making the
immoral choice to lie all the more appealing in contrast. 

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  • invalid-0

    You make it sound as if “anti-choicers” are bad. Maybe your “pro-choice” mother should have taken the pill and saved you from spreading all this crap about how the church is lying and not respecting women.

    • invalid-0

      Anonymous: Too bad you didn’t have the courage to at least put your first name on your vitriolic response to the author. You chose to sign as “Anonymous”. How cowardly.

    • invalid-0

      actually, my mother WAS on the pill for a good many years. she didn’t decide to have children until she was in her 30s, which for my sake, i’m glad she did, as she was probably one of the best mothers a person could ask for.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Which is a legitimate choice.  And I’m glad she had it.  I wouldn’t be a happy person if I felt like my existence was dependent on torturing my mother by robbing her of her freedom.  I’m so glad that she chose me instead of had me forced on her.  That I never have to worry if she really loves me, or sees me as something foisted on her by a misogynist law. I can love my mother, free of guilt that I am something she didn’t want for herself.


    I fail to see how forcing women to give birth would have helped me or anyone.  It’s nice to know you’re wanted, don’t you think?

  • truth

    The Catholic Church has outlined their argument in a philosophically logical and sound way. It’s called Humanae Vitae and it is the most well thought out essay that anyone on this planet has ever written regarding human life, reproduction and true love. Your complete misunderstanding of even the most basic of logical tenets doesn’t surprise me because you have tunnel vision and can only see that which you decide to see. Amanda, until you let the Truth lead you – you will continue to be lost, unhappy and like an argumentative rebelling teenager continuing to believe that real men or the Catholic Church care anything about you. We don’t. Until you humble yourself, you will continue to find only the wimpy little boys you can push around. They allow themselves to be pushed around because they are led only by their carnal desires – once these are satisfied (i.e. they have used you) – they leave (mostly tired of your illogical angry rebellious ranting). It’s unfortunate that you will never find a real man. You know what I’m talking about – don’t you – Amanda?

  • invalid-0

    While I think it is ridiculous of them to make these claims – people do have a choice as to whether or not they believe it.

    For me personally, I know this is absolute crap. I am not religious and have no desire to be because it’s just another element of control.

    As a woman, I can never endorse the Catholic church, or any church for that matter, because I have yet to find one in which women are equal.

  • invalid-0

    Great article Amanda, lots of good information!!!

    Rock on!

    The pill for all!

  • amanda-marcotte

    I’ve read it.  It was not only not convincing and not profound, it was a laughable attempt to disguise standard issue sexism with high-falutin’ language. And obviously the Vatican doesn’t think the Humanae Vitae is enough, because they’ve taken to lying and trying to trick people out of using contraception.  That’s what I said in the article.  If the Humanae Vitae is as convincing as you think it is, then why pile on lies in order to trick people?  Shouldn’t it stand alone?  


    But you’ve scared me straight on the need to get with a sexist man. Please don’t throw me in the briar patch of men who don’t need female submission to feel good about themselves!

  • invalid-0

    Ms. Marcotte,

    Two points:

    The world you want is not helping out the very group you and those like you state your trying to protect. The youth I work with are NOT better off with “the pill”, access to condoms, abortions, sex…etc. Most of the girls that I work with are lost, sad, and have feel as if they have NO value. They are giving themselves away in various ways and then are left empty. How sad that your freedom to choose has cost so many so much. But do you even see that? Probably not.

    I also feel pity for you that you have fallen victim to this idea of the Catholic faith being backwards. It is obvious you HAVEN’T studied this faith, never read the early Church Fathers, nor Humanae Vitae. Sadly facts can be tweaked to fit any opinion. If the Church uses scientific fact to show how life begin at conception…Would you accept it? If we look at life objectively will you come openly…again objectively? Ms. Marcotte you are missing so much and don’t even realize it.

    Lastly, the response from “Truth” was dead on. Humanae Vitae was beautifully written…I hope you take the time to honestly, and with an open mind/heart to look at the Catholic Church and view it for what it is and not what it isn’t.

  • otaku1960

    For all it’s lip service to respect for women, the Vatican does not walk the walk or talk the talk.  It’s one of the reasons I left the Catholic church.



    Lays down the boogie

  • amanda-marcotte

    That if someone is convinced by the Humanae Vitae and makes their own decisions as a free person, more power to them.  My main objection is the attempt to use deceit and coercion to force a choice that should be made freely.

  • otaku1960

    disagree. I feel youth are better off having options to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs than back in the old days when they weren’t given any choice at all.  Feelings of loss and sadness cannot be blamed on the Pill or condoms, they have other sources such as strife in domestic life.

    Lays down the boogie

  • invalid-0

    is that if you commit yourself to absolute faith with no free will you most certainly will believe anything you are told. The commenter ‘Truth’ is a perfect example of this. He or she is not someone with whom you can have a dialogue or debate because he or she is 100% committed to whatever the Catholic church puts forth. That is Truth’s right. However, when the church comes along and puts forth unscientific, not just unproven but disproven, claims, misogyny, homophobia, and downright harmful theories it is certainly our right to put forth counter arguments, scientific theory, medical evidence and more.
    The saddest part, for me, is to hear how many people use their faith to stomp on others’ rights to live their own lives, to raise their own families, and to do their own good work in the world. Truth and others believe they have an inherent ‘right’ to dismantle other people’s belief systems by taking away our rights. That’s where I draw the line. Believe what you wish but don’t turn your belief system into science, scientific fact, or public policy that strips me, my family, my children and others of our fundamental rights to live the way we believe is best, sincere, good, and true.


    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • truth

    If you want to find true love – you have to live it. Putting pills in your body so you can be available for men anytime they want you is setting yourself up to be used. If you want to weed out the men from the boys – you can easily see who truly wants you if you aren’t available anytime their desire crops up! Believe me…there are easier pickens out there than a woman who truly wants to be loved. You can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day — if you are taking the pill — you are the object of the controlling eugenic society created by those wanting to stamp out human beings. Freedom is not having to take anything on a daily basis – you are a slave to modern medicine and technology – and for what? To be used and looked at only as a vessel to insert my pleasure organ. Seems to me you are thinking backwards. At the heart of every woman is their desire to find true love. The Catholic Church loves women – truly loves them – because the Church is not willing to simply tell you what you want to hear. They are telling you how to be truly happy – I know sometimes that hurts, but it is for your own good.

  • invalid-0

    Wow just reading these comments makes me remember how crazy people are and act when blinded by lies and misinformation. How cold & unloving is the world that the poster “truth” is living in? Thats a horrible outlook on life and women choosing to not have children.

    By the way the church spreading lies and using scare tactics to get its way has been going on for a very long time. Its the same today as 500 years ago just in different forms.

  • therealistmom

    Here’s a cold, hard fact. A lot of us women… gasp.. like sex. We want to have sex, cause, well, we enjoy it. I know that doesn’t fit into your warped little worldview that women are only truly happy when they are giving it up reluctantly to a husband to pop out another unit, but yeah. We even have orgasms!

  • invalid-0

    “Putting pills in your body so you can be available for men anytime they want you is setting yourself up to be used.”

    Uh, I don’t know about Amanda, but I put pills in my body for a variety of reasons, and non of them are to be available for men anytime they want me. My BC doesn’t come in pill form, but I take that so that I can have sex with my boyfriend any time we (both) want to, and not just when I want a baby. My mother, who has been with my father for 30 years, also took BC for the same reason. She CHOSE to have me and my brother, and I’m thankful for that.

    “you can easily see who truly wants you if you aren’t available anytime their desire crops up!”

    I thought you Christian types were the ones who thought a woman should submit anytime their husband wants it? That’s not how MY relationship works, quit projecting!! In my life, i only have sex if I want it.

    “To be used and looked at only as a vessel to insert my pleasure organ.”

    Again, projecting. Sex is much more for most people than this. Nice to know how you think of sex though, makes it obvious to people that pro-life really means anti-sex.

  • truth

    true enjoyment of sex – the way our Creator intended it because you are too busy trying to control everything. Also, why are you so set on thinking that anyone wants to control you – this is such a broken record Sangor script? As far as my worldview is concerned, why would you reluctantly do anything especially having to do with sharing yourself with your husband? And orgasms, of course you do – you’re a human woman – that’s just functionality of the human body when stimulated for a period of time. You act like you did something miraculous yourself by having an orgasm? What’s hard to do is to put your trust in your Creator and stop trying desparately to control your life. Stop holding on and let go! That’s what the pill really is – it’s a control device and your the robot. You should study the history of the pill sometime if you dare too. Who’s really trying to free you?

    • invalid-0

      Really, sharing myself with my husband? As someone who seemingly gets pregnant just by thinking of sex (and I come from a long line of highly fertile women as well, so it isn’t just me), I find it much more difficult to completely ‘share myself’ with the husband if I’m worried about getting pregnant again. He also has a bit more difficulty with the sharing when the possibility of more children is brought up (and when he asked me what I’d do if I got pregnant by accident, I told him he’d better be prepared to drive me to the clinic as soon as I found out, because I wasn’t having more kids–and he is fine with that).

      Quite frankly, my marriage is much more loving, committed, fun, and sexy because we have birth control than it would be if we hadn’t. Because without birth control, there wouldn’t be any ‘sharing’ going on at all.

  • amanda-marcotte

    You can fantasize about me all you want, but it doesn’t change the facts.  The fact of the matter is that women are not stupid.  They know that the Catholic Church disapproves. But they know themselves and their own lives better than the finger-wagging scolds.  Vague promises of "true love" are utilized in the belief that weak-willed, unhappy people will work against their own self-interest in hopes of finding that magic bullet that makes it all better.  And maybe these appeals work to lost, sad, or broken people.  That makes them all the more disturbing to me, because it’s so exploitative.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Research backs up the fact that contraception access has increased the levels of happiness and satisfaction with life and love


    Not surprisingly, researchers in the ’50s found that less than one in
    three married couples reported being happy or very happy with their
    relationship. Compare that to today, when 61 percent of married
    Americans report themselves to be "very happy" in their marriage. Part
    of the sour spouse problem of the ’50s was that many couples didn’t
    really want to be married to each other. Often, they were trapped into
    marriage by unintended pregnancy. With no sex-ed, no birth control, no
    legal abortion — the exact legislative agenda of today’s pro-life
    movement! — teen birth rates soared, reaching highs that have not been
    equaled since: there were twice as many teen mothers in the ’50s than


    But all this, while interesting, is irrelevant to the article.  If going without contraception really makes people happier, then the Vatican needs to state that and let people decide for themselves.  Instead, the Vatican is choosing to lie, which makes me believe they don’t think they have a case.  Once you’re lying, you’ve basically admitted you don’t have a case.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I think people of faith should realize that while it’s sometimes frustrating that your neighbors are allowed to disagree with you, religious freedom is best for everyone.  If I am permitted to have my beliefs, then you are permitted to have yours.  Once the law starts enforcing dogma, there’s no guarantee that you will be on the winning side of that fight.  You might find yourself a member of the oppressed.  This is especially true for Catholics.  If we have religious dogma written into law, it’s most likely that of Protestant fundamentalists, who usually think that Catholics are heathens and going to hell.

  • truth

    since you lie for a living?

  • invalid-0

    Truth, “Real men” are men who are confident enough in themselves that they don’t need to control women to feel important. If you believe any man who doesn’t push a woman around is not a “real man” you should seek counseling to help deal with your feelings of inadequacy. I know sometimes that the truth hurts, but it is for your own good.

  • colleen

    <i>"As far as my worldview is concerned, why would you reluctantly do
    anything especially having to do with sharing yourself with your


    Realist Mom was providing you with an example of the sort of sad and tawdry excuse for a sex life many women are forced to endure by virtue of having made a bad marriage to a clueless asshole. who views ‘his’ wife as a masturbatory aid. She was not speaking of her own life and that is (or should be) abundantly clear to the reader.  The fact that it isn’t clear to you strengthens my notion that this blog provides you with a place to express your rather joyless and deeply creepy fantasy life.


    <i>"And orgasms, of course you do – you’re a human woman – that’s just
    functionality of the human body when stimulated for a period of time"</I>


    What are you? 15?





  • invalid-0

    ks gets it in one. I too, was uberfertile, and after 5 pregnancies, with three carried successfully, the paranoia was indeed a “passion kill.”

    Completely “sharing myself” was a lot easier and infinitely more pleasant when the fear of pregnancy was negligible.

  • invalid-0

    Truth’s comments are providing me with much entertainment on a dull afternoon. What a sad, unfulfilled life the little twerp must lead. What kind of cognitive dissonance does it take to consistently deny that women are not real people that vary over a vast spectrum, but instead are all cookie-cutter clones with only one true desire at heart? That we are all stupid, passive drones incapable of having, and enjoying, sex for the sake of sex without having some sort of “purpose”, be that pregnancy, being “used” or control.

    Keep lying to yourself, Truth. Continue treating women like mental children and you will cast aside like so much worthless garbage.

  • invalid-0

    I have always believed that the religious notion that God has granted “free will” to his children,really means God refuses to take responsibility for “bad parenting skills.” People often whine that parents willingly lack “good parenting skills”, but look at their ultimate role model.

  • invalid-0

    Look at the radical Muslims the Taliban etc. They are controlling women. In these countries where women are only reproductive vessels and kept out of sight and silent, the country is very violent. Too much testosterone. There needs to be a balance of estrogen and testosterone for peace and tranquility. Churches want to control and restrict women because they are all male dominated. It is so obvious and they have admitted it! We women need our own church or better yet our own planet where we can give the men a taste of their own medicine!! Anyone in on it?