Posts Tagged ‘women’s health’

When I teach theology to undergraduates, I make sure to spend some time on Augustine, typically his Confessions. I don’t think this is a necessary practice for all theology instructors, but I personally find Augustine to be a useful entry point for broader, complex theological and hermeneutical questions.

Specifically, I have noticed that studying Augustine is like holding up a mirror to ourselves. More specifically, how we as contemporary readers weigh in on Augustine’s views of women is greatly telling about our views of women. (more…)

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We’ve ushered in a new year. I’m sure you’ve seen some articles, commercials, and news segments emphasizing good practices for abiding by new year’s resolutions, especially around the issue of fighting fat. Apparently about 45% of people in the United States make new year’s resolutions, and, statistically, the top resolution is losing weight. (more…)

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This is the sixth in a series of posts featuring some women’s experience with natural family planning.  To read previous posts in this series, click here.  To read the post that originally inspired this project, click here.  To read about the purpose of and ground rules for this project, click here.

Julie’s Story

This issue has been one that I too have struggled with for years, as I desire to follow church teaching and yet have a chronic disease, Type 1 diabetes, that makes pregnancy a much more serious condition than it would otherwise be. After being blessed with the birth of my daughter (she is 4), I know I have not had the time and energy to pour into my health to make another pregnancy a healthy possibility. Therefore, I am one of those that ‘quietly don’t follow the magisterium” as Jonathan Post said.

As much as I try to have faith in our church leaders, the longer that I am married and experience what that relationship is all about, the more convicted I am that an unmarried man with no experience of a marriage relationship has any possible ability to truly understand the challenges faced in the marriage relationship and in raising children.

Because of this, I have sincerely changed my own tendency to judge priests, because I feel that I can only expect out of them what I wish they would expect out of me – a willingness to try and understand the other, without judgment, when both have the goal of growing closer to Christ and bringing others along with them.

But I grow weary from those who judge my choices without really understanding why I have had to make them.  We cannot walk in someone else shoes.  Those who are employing artificial means or birth control may be doing so for selfish reasons, but they also might not be. 


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This is the fifth in a series of posts featuring some women’s experience with natural family planning.  The previous four can be read here, here, here, and here.  For the post that originally inspired this project, click here.  To read about the purpose of and rules for this project, click here.

GS’s Story

What a relief it is to discover that there is a place that Catholics can come and share their real-life experiences with NFP without fear of getting a public internet pounding, conservative-Catholic style.

Brief history: I grew up in a very orthodox, very authoritarian Catholic home.  My husband’s family was also ultra-orthodox (particularly his mother), but not quite so authoritarian about it.  We both went to one of those small, very orthodox Catholic colleges dedicated to the study of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, etc.  We fell in love and married in our early/mid twenties (both virgins in every sense of the word) and just figured we would accept children as they came, because that is what we had been raised to believe was our duty as Catholics.

We did try an early method of symptothermal NFP (it wasn’t CCL–I honestly can’t remember the name of the method) in the early months of our marriage, not to delay pregnancy, but just to learn about my body.  We quickly tossed the thermometer because I am a bad sleeper at best, and being woken up every morning at the same time to check my temp was really disrupting my sleep.

I became pregnant when we had been married nearly 11 months.  The baby was born, I was depressed and stressed out in ways I never thought possible (let’s just say the ole natural maternal instincts that were supposed to magically kick in pretty much never did—even decades later! but that’s another story), but also certain I would not get pregnant right away because it had taken me nearly a year to get pregnant without using anything, and now I had a baby nursing on me constantly.

How naive.

#1 was six months old when I became pregnant with #2.  After #2, even more depressed and stressed out, I decided it was time for real NFP.  We signed up for Couple-to-Couple classes.  The couple teaching it was odd, to put it charitably.  And it felt beyond odd to discuss my cervical mucus with a man that was so socially off-kilter in the first place. But I was determined to make it work.  I woke up every day to check my temp (becoming more exhausted by the day), checked mucus just as I was supposed to, and my chart was a mess because I always had fertile mucus.

After several meetings, the CCL husband looked at my jagged-tooth chart, looked back up at me and said, “There have been times when my wife and I have had to go 6 months or more without making love due to confusing signs”.


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As some of you probably remember, about a year ago, we at WIT published a post entitled “Women Speak About Natural Family Planning.”  When I wrote the post, I was expecting it to be controversial and indeed it remains among our most commented-on posts.

But something happened that I was not expecting.   Women started writing in, sharing not their opinions but their stories.  They spoke of the toll adhering to the church’s teaching on contraception took on their physical and mental health as well as their marriages.

I found these stories to be incredibly moving and incredibly important.  And I realized that there really is nowhere that Catholic women (and men!) can share their stories about things like this with each other.  Catholic couples struggling with this issue typically have to deal with it privately without the guidance and support of their communities.  Just when these couples are most in need of their communities is when they find themselves most alienated from them. (more…)

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As many of you know, a few weeks ago, President Obama mandated that Catholic hospitals would have to begin providing birth control inclusive health care coverage for their employees.

Opponents of this decision claim that, in making the Catholic church provide birth control-inclusive health coverage to those who work in their hospitals, the federal government is forcing the Catholic church to do something that violates its religious beliefs.  The Catholic Church is being persecuted, they cry.   Catholics should not simply oppose this decision; they should be outraged about it.  Indeed, many Catholics are acting as though this is the worst thing a U.S. President has done in a really, really, really long time.

But, I don’t want to tell these outraged Catholics that they’re wrong; I want only to figure out if they’re making any sense. (more…)

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Thanks to Meghan Clark of the blog Catholic Moral Theology (you can check out her latest post here) for introducing me to a very important documentary series, entitled Unnatural Causes, which chronicles the interconnection between racism/classism and health disparities. Thankfully for all of us privileged enough to have access to the internet, this series is now available to watch online for free.

As this series shows, in the United States, the richer you are, the longer you live.   This fact affirms Gustavo Gutierrez’s insight that poverty means premature death.  It is also true that white people also tend to live longer than people of color.

Importantly, the racial gap in life expectancy (and in overall physical health) cannot simply be reduced to class.  Thus, while it is true that people of color (especially African-Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans) are much more likely to live in poverty than white Americans (which should be proof enough of the persistence of racism), this is not the only reason people of color die sooner than whites.  Researchers have determined that the mere fact of being black or brown and having to deal with the daily grind of both the reality and threat/possibility of racial discrimination takes a physical toll on people of color and harms their health.

Ultimately it is not just that people of color are more likely to live in poverty than whites are, but that the poverty experienced by people of color tends to be qualitatively different than that typically experienced by whites.  People of color are not just more likely to be poor but also they are more likely to be poor for a long time (while 29% of poor black children are poor for ten years or more, fewer than 1% of poor white children are poor for this length of time).  Similarly, due to the ongoing reality of racial segregation, people of color are more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods (meaning that they are more likely to be deprived of access to the social capital of middle and upper middle class neighborhoods like high-quality schools, proximate medical care, parks, relatively low levels of pollution, etc).

In other words, it is one thing to experience poverty for one or two years or for a few months every year for several years and it is entirely different to spend one’s entire childhood growing up in poverty.  Similarly, it is one thing to be a poor family in a middle class neighborhood–you will still enjoy many of the social perks of being middle class–and it is another thing entirely to live in an impoverished neighborhood or rural community.

I hope you all get a chance to watch this film and I look forward to hearing your reactions to it.

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