Thursday, March 15, 2012

Subsidiarity and Birth Control

Lately I've been having it out with people about the Church's stance on the HHS mandate.  A lot of this is actually taking place through Hubby.  The Planetary Scientist guy has never responded.  I was not contacted directly by him until Hubby mentioned a lot of my political and religious views.  Hubby is a member of an elite group of people with only sorta a web list.  What is said on it stays on it.  I want to make it clear that I have no idea what is being said on it.  Hubby just asks me for information.  I am merely an encyclopedia.  I have no knowledge of what is being spoken of other than what can be inferred from his questions. I want to make it very clear.  I don't read the list and can only surmise what is being said because I'm being asked referential questions about stuff that I've spoken about before.  It's still very Vegas to me.

Today he e-mails me this:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/01/03/396516/santorum-states-should-have-the-right-to-outlaw-birth-control/?mobile=nc

  You agree that states should be able to outlaw birth control?  That's quite different from promoting abstinence.

This is all I know.   Other than him asking permission to publish my response on the list.  This was my response.

Yes, I'm aware.  And as he said the states have rights.  And we as citizens of individual states have rights to decide the laws in our state.  If we allow the federal government to usurp this right, we aren't following our own governmental set-up.  It's not about promoting abstinence.  It's about the choices of individual states and the citizens of those states.  This concept is called subsidiarity.  It's a Catholic thing. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity_%28Catholicism%29

To flesh this out a bit more...the Church will never usurp the right's of individuals either.  The Church will direct members on ways of morality and expect that it's members will vote according to that conscience, but It does not handhold.  It does not dictate.  It does not tell people what to do.  It doesn't have that kind of power nor does it want it.  God gives us freewill and the Church has always respected that.

If a person wishes to use birth control, then so be it.  That's the right of that person.  The Church has always said that individuals should be allowed to govern themselves including in how they handle birth control.  To dictate that birth control usage should be eliminated would violate it's own moral teachings, specifically Catholic social teaching.

However, the government's mandate to force individuals or groups to provide birth control to the masses is in violation of Catholic social teaching and subsidiarity (not to mention secular religious freedom).  This is the government throwing it's weight around in matters that individuals (or perhaps states as Santorum tried to explain) are able to govern themselves with.

And that is why neither a Catholic person nor Catholic entity will try to forceably outlaw birth control.  If, however, a government entity (say a city or state) makes this a law because of what the voters want.  Then we will uphold that decision.  

In the case of the HHS mandate, individuals were not really consulted and were summarily dismissed.  The government chose to force it's will in violation of subsidiarity.  

There are, however, some issues in which human dignity is a higher moral teaching than subsidiarity.  So the notion that making abortion legal, for example, is okay because it follows subsidiarity is incorrect.  Birth control usage is a little different because how an individual uses birth control and for what purposes varies.

Am I making sense?


I should also mention that with abortion we wish to make it illegal as it violates the dignity of the unborn, but...and this is a big BUT Catholics will not physically force a person away from an abortion clinic because this violates the person's freewill.  If a person chooses to sin (however grave), then that is their choice and between them and God.  That is the difference between an individual making a grave sin and the state (which is to uphold the dignity of every individual) from making a grave sin.  And that is how subsidiarity works.

1 comment:

  1. "I should also mention that with abortion we wish to make it illegal as it violates the dignity of the unborn, but...and this is a big BUT Catholics will not physically force a person away from an abortion clinic because this violates the person's freewill. If a person chooses to sin (however grave), then that is their choice and between them and God."

    See, this is something that gives me pause from time to time. Because of the precarious nature of the unborn child's environment, there is really no way for the following analogy to work. But...

    If you saw a mother raise a knife and indicate, by her voice, demeanor, actions, etc, that she was about to stab her child to death in front of you, wouldn't you rush over and yank the child out of harm's way? Perhaps you would even strike the woman in order to keep a greater harm from being done. No one would say that you shouldn't have done that because in doing so you "violated that mother's free will." Isn't abortion comparable? The situation--a mother with a knife/pill/suction machine raised against her child--is the same; the only difference is whether the child is 4 weeks' gestation rather than 4 years old, and we don't believe that makes any difference in the humanity of the victim.

    A sin is a choice for a person, yes. Speaking unkindly or self-abusing or what-have-you are different from murder, though. In the case of abortion and murder, there's an unwilling victim in addition to the woman who chose to do this to herself.

    On the other hand, I don't see how you can physically force a woman to continue a pregnancy.

    I promise I'm not baiting here; I'm genuinely curious as what the difference is. :) It's something I've had going around and around in my head for a couple of months now, and I still haven't quite figured it out.

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