Credo in Planned Parenthood? How UnGreen Can You Get!
My friend gets an eco-friendly magazine called Plenty. I like it. It’s very Catholic in spirit because it challenges the public to lead virtuous lives regarding our use of the earth and her creatures.
Catholics were the first Greens, did you know? Think about it, those bald-headed monks and their vows of poverty? St. Francis and his furry fan club?
Not that it’s a contest or anything. But it is nice to know in whose old-school you’re kickin’ it.
So I was surprised to see a recent ad in Plenty by a wireless mobile company proudly touting that they regularly donate part of their proceeds to Planned Parenthood. As if that were a good thing! Ecologically speaking, of course.
Because, Planned Parenthood, green? By whose definition of ‘green’ would that be, anyhoo, Shell Oil’s? Dow Chemical’s?
Let’s look at stats. Planned Parenthood is one of the world’s largest distributors of birth control pills. PP distributes the pill at reduced cost, if necessary, not only in the United States, but around the world. They pursue this mission vigorously and get lots of grants to do it, and enjoy tax-exempt status. The Pill is a mainstay to PP program to reduce pregnancies. Now that PP can no longer present abortion as benign (thanks to untrasound and micro cameras that graphically portray the life of the unborn child from the first tenth second of conception), awakened public horror has prompted a strategy change: rather than championing abortion, as heretofore, PP now purports to want to reduce the number of abortions done at their facilities (between one in three, and one in four US pregnancies– reports vary– end in the dumpster parked behind a PP facility). The pill (or the patch, or the shot, they all work the same way) is the preferred contraceptive, and PP hits it hard under a deceptive ‘pro-life banner.’
This is deceptive, of course, because as PP knows, and every eighth grader ought to know, all birth control methods, every single one, fail at a predictable rate, so that relying on artificial contraception alone alsolutely guarantees the continuation of abortion. And according to a site sponsored by the FDA, the rate is quite high: out of a hundred pregnancies, failure of the condom accounts for 11 of the pregnancies, to the diaphragm 17 pregnancies, to the shield 15 pregnancies, to the sponge an amazing 14-28 of the pregnancies, and to the pill 1 to 2 of the pregnancies.
So the pill comes out the best of the bad lot, even though it still guarantees abortions will continue as long as they are legal. PP pushes the pill as the answer to a modern woman’s prayer, whether she’s shopping for shoes in New York or sipping Turkish coffee with the girls in Istanbul.
But are they green? Let’s look. According to a typical website, in this case one directed at teens, the birth control pill ‘contains hormones to change the way the body works.’ No duh. They also, when released into the ecosystem through female urine, slam the entire environment , pretty much the same way they slam the human body. Estrogen and progesterone are known as endocrine disrupters, settling into the cell receptors in living creatures like tiny little aliens, and garbling the body’s chemical communications. In women, the Pill, in one operation, shuts down ovulation and thickens the mucus at the opening of the uterus, keeping sperm out. When released as urine into the environment, there are similar slimey results–where we don’t want them!
Does this sound green to you?
The FDA, not known to be especially overprotective of the public these days, nor especially brave in the face of pressure from business interests, nevertheless links numerous side effects of the pill on the human body as it scrambles the body’s natural rhythms; some of these reported on the fda website are dizziness; nausea; changes in menstruation and mood; weight gain; less common but reported are various types of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, and strokes. ABC News has an even more extreme list of problems with the pill here.
Not exactly a green girl’s cup of chamomile.
And the effects on the eco-system are similarly horrific. The pill doesn’t act alone in the problems it causes the environment, but combines with other chemicals for a double whammy, according to one green website reporting on the effects of the estrogens in the pill when combined, usually in the water supply, with other sources of estrogens from agriculture and industry, which in the latter case are added to crops as a growth facilitator to produce or in the production of many products, including make-up.
Combining estrogens from the various sources does not merely multiply their devastating effects on the environment, it seems to magnify the effect synergistically.
In the Columbia River, for example, a recent study found that about 25 percent of the otters and muskrats were anatomically deformed, with estrogens named as the probable cause. These deformations are most typically in the reproductive organs, causing male organs to disappear and female organs to fail to function. One biological web site put it simply: boy fishes turn into infertile girl fishes, and male starlings into ‘ladylike singers.’
But other problems are possible—tumors, auto-immune problems, and anatomical changes that, significantly, are passed on to offspring, if the organism is still capable of reproduction. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found estrogens to be significantly associated with tumor growth on breast and female reproductive tissue.
So I would like to be the first to say, here on the White Lily Blog, that contributions to Planned Parenthood may count as a “movement,” alright, as the mobile phone company blurbed in their full-page ad in Plenty magazine—but not as a green movement. No way! The only way PP would be green is if they stopped flooding watersheds with estrogen-laced urine. (They’d be greener then, but they’d still be haters.)
Is there a “green contraceptive’? That is, besides, saying, No thanks, I’d rather go for a walk?
Yes, there is one, compliments of that mean old, green old Catholic Church. Their preferred contraceptive is a method, not a chemical or a barrier, does not interrupt the body’s natural rhythms, and works by understanding one’s own cycle and periods of fertility. It is completely natural. It has demonstrated beneficial physical effects. It is known as Natural Family Planning. It is a form of contraception requiring intentional living.
These features make NFP an excellent fit for a green lifestyle. It is easy to understand and easy to practice. Couples learn, with some digitized assistance, the days of ovulation, and on fertile days the couple finds other, sometimes subtle and nuanced, ways to express their love for each other. Many couples have reported better communication, enhanced affection, and increased sexual desire as a result of natural birth control.
Natural Family Planning is the application of green principles to the sexual life, just as one does to the consumer life, to the culinary life, and to the spiritual life. It works with the environment, not against it. It respects the body. It respects the relationship, by calling on it to have more than one dimension. This is what many women have such a hunger for; perhaps men, too. It is so easy to be reduced to a sexual object by contracepting, rather than a whole person, and it’s the death of desire.
The New York Times has a detailed article on specifics of natural family planning, although they err when they say that couples could use artificial barriers during fertile periods, ignoring FDA conclusions mentioned above about the high failure rate for these devices. They also report that natural family planning has a ‘high failure rate’ without giving the numbers; in fact, NFP has about the same failure rate as the barrier methods.
Also, ‘failure’ may be a misnomer in some cases, because it is common that Green Sex practitioners sometimes make the conscious decision to risk pregnancy and have intercourse during the fertile period, and welcome the resulting pregnancy. They have found that making the occasional baby is not only not the end of the world, it can rock the world. This is what couples report. Here’s another link on NFP with some interesting details.
The steps discussed in the NYT article look a little technical, but so is the answer to the question paper or plastic. Sincere greenies will not be off-put. One simple class (just google natural family planning, insert your city) will make it clear, and you might meet some like-minded people, people who take their sex lives at least as seriously as their choice of organic greens. Here’s a good article from a guy’s perspective on natural family planning.
We are celebrating this year the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, John Paul VI’s encyclical about birth control. The Church rejected artificial birth control, to the pagan world’s great bafflement. Those Catholics again! How could they take from women such an important right? How could they be so anti-technology? How could they be so anti-woman? And we all shook our picket signs and growled. That mean old Church.
It was a hoax. Birth Control is not necessarily pro-woman. It can be and has been and is now being used to make women toys and wage slaves. Things are not better for women now than they were in the sixties or the forties or the twenties. Things are just about as hard as they can be, now. Contraception has literally killed the economy, marriage is gone, woman are both breadwinner and single parent, government help is an insult, health care is profitized and unaffordable. The Austrian chemist Karl Djerassi who cooked up the devilish conconction now calls the demographic Europe enabled by his unholy invention “a catastrophe.”
And the environment? Now we see that not all the results of free market-capitalism- plus- technology are friendly to life. We have learned more about the consequences of an aggressive artificial (and protestant) view of the environment in which, if man can conceive it, and make it, and market it, the earth better suffer it. We are more willing to take a few moments more, now, and walk to the store, or pluck the beetles off the tomatoes by hand, or re-use those plastic containers, and be thereby kinder to ourselves and those with whom we share the earth. We’re ready to make that commitment to living intentionally, living seriously, living fully, living naturally. We can imagine, now, that it extends to sex. If Mother Earth is holy, sex is holy.
In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wrote, “We must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions.”
Amen to that. That’s green sex. It is not different at all from the principle that applies to other environmental questions. The more natural, the better.
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