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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Questioning Woman's Healthcare

The Matt Walsh Blog is something that I read in passing. Usually my friends will post something on their feed and it pops up in mine and if the title is catchy enough, I read it. It’s not that fancy. His latest article, “I paid to have babies murdered and all I got was this coat hanger necklace?” is prompting this article based one Twitter comment posted.

It's crazy that a woman’s right to healthcare depends on her wallet. Give to @DCAbortionFund. Make choice a reality: bit.ly/1d4i2Lt— 
Michelle Chronister (@mchronister) March 16, 2014

The reason it sticks with me is something I haven’t known how to voice, Michelle Chronister is right, a woman’s right to health care should not depend on her wallet.

Let me take a pause for a moment, I am not agreeing that abortion should be considered “healthcare”, but I want to talk about other facets of healthcare for women. 

Why do I have to pay high premiums to find out why I can’t achieve a healthy and normal pregnancy. If it is an equal right for a woman to terminate a healthy, or even an unhealthy pregnancy (for her or the baby), paid for by taxpayers or her insurance, why do I have to pay all costs trying to find out what is wrong with my body?

I know I am not in a unique situation. I have a high deductible. I have to use up my deductible in order to have any insurance coverage. Any health care I have up to that deductible comes out of my pocket, unless it’s part of a preventative exam. Any blood tests, any diagnostic tools, any medication, anything that could help figure out if there is something wrong with my body is my responsibility. Women seeking birth control, Plan B, or abortions, receive grants, financial aid, and in some cases full coverage for these procedures.

Am I the only person who sees a precarious double standard?

A woman is pregnant, sure, society will help you terminate. A woman can not get pregnant, tough luck, she is dodging a bullet.

I am not an advocate for abortion in any case. I am truly curious how we can say we have a balanced healthcare system for women if there is such a biased slant against achieving and maintaining healthy pregnancies.

The current United States Birth Rate is 1.89 live births per woman as of 2011 according to the World Bank. Last I checked, it takes 2 people to reproduce, which in an ideal society, takes two children to take the place of their parents. This is also a trend for many other leading countries including China (1.66), Canada (1.63), Germany (1.36), Russia (1.54) and Japan (1.39). 

But, 1.89 is almost 2 right? True, but in the reason that the population of the United States is still growing is because of strong emigration to the United States. Countries like Germany, Russia, and Japan, their birth rates coupled with weak emigration into their countries, statisticians are predicting as much as a 20% population decline in these countries.

Then it is fine that you can not get pregnant, right?

No. If pro-choice advocates can say that women have a choice for an abortion, I should be able to have the choice to become pregnant. If healthcare now dictates that it is a woman’s “universal right” for an abortion, it should be my right and the right of women like me, to achieve a healthy pregnancy. So, why does my healthcare depend on what I can afford, and abortions and birth control don’t?

Friday, March 7, 2014

International Women's Day


“Equality for women is progress for all.” Is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. From the brief recap of International Women’s Day (IWD) on the United Nation’s Website, IWD is supposed to coincide with the Millennium Development Goals for 2015.

"The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) - which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 - form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world's poorest."
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml

On this International Women’s Day, I am empowered by knowing that I have value in myself because I am who God created me to be. I know what my body is capable of, and am awed and inspired by what I can do intellectually and physically. I don’t want to have anything mucking it up now that I’ve finally gotten “right”. There are those who would say that trying to eliminate the pill and abortion is asinine. To them I would remind that women voting, having a fair paying job, being able to raise a family as a single parent would have been asinine too, all it took was support, empowerment and education to see us through.

These goals are as follows:

1.            Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
2.            Achieve Universal Primary Education
3.            Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
4.            Reduce Child Mortality
5.            Improve Maternal Health
6.            Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases
7.            Ensure Environmental Stability
8.            Global Partnership Development


While these are all great goals, I want to look at four of them in a different light. I want to look at numbers three through six in the light of birth control and abortion.

Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

In my opinion there is nothing that has ripped gender equality away from women than the over prescription of artificial birth control to women. From the lightest case of acne, to menstrual cramps, to just a girl being a girl I have heard too many reasons for women to be prescribed the pill. It is true that there are legitimate reasons for prescribing it such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis, there are many other medicines or holistic treatments that can be used before going on the pill.

Women should be empowered to know what they are capable of and what their body is capable of doing if we just leave it alone. 60 years of “casual” use has left women ingesting a Class 1 Carcinogen. A Class 1 Carcinogen as defined by the American Cancer Society is a substance “known to cause cancer in humans.”
Lower on the page you can find a list of what those substances are. Included as a Class 1 are alcoholic beverages, asbestos, benzene, coal, Coke production, (I am looking at my empty bottle of Diet Coke a little afraid) estrogen-progesterone oral contraception and menopausal therapies, hematite mining, and tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. I have been exposed to many of these in my life, including hematite mining, but the exposure to those I have control over, I make as minimal as possible.

Being an equal to a man does not mean that women should strip away their fertility. In fact, you would never think to ask the same of a man. The only form of true male sterilization is a vasectomy, which leads to impotence and a weakened prostate, not to mention it is permanent.

Reduce Child Mortality

The inconvenient truth about abortion is that it kills children. A wise pregnant friend when asked by my husband if she knew what she was having replied “eventually, contractions.” She knew we meant boy or girl but it was a clever way to tell us no, she did not know the gender of her child. The same goes for another mother when asked the same questions replied “I’m hoping for a healthy baby, my two year old is hoping for a puppy.”

You may find the above funny but the truth is, a pregnant woman will give birth to a human child. As a woman, I could not give birth to puppies, kittens, or any other form of mammal, the result will always be human.

Abortion advocates have included clever forms of hiding this inconvenient truth by calling these children, zygotes, embryos, fetuses, and a clump of cells. You could call me a clump of cells and I could call a dog a shedding, drool factory.

Endangered species across the world have more rights and protections than a child in the womb of it’s mother. If the UN is truly committed to reducing child mortality rates, they also must call for the end of abortion across the world.

Improve Maternal Health

Access to abortion and birth control is currently touted as a fundamental right for women’s health. Many friends who have recently given birth have often been asked by their discharging physician what their plans for birth control are after leaving the hospital.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to be an authority on Maternal Health, I have never been pregnant long enough to “need” Maternal Health Care. On the flip side of Women’s Health, why then is access to birth control and abortion a woman’s right, but trying to check for reproductive problems and repair them is not a right. I would love to be able to check if my husband and I have fertility issues, but they are not covered by my insurance until we have hit our $2600 deductible. It isn’t worth it to go further in debt to try and become healthier.

Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases

This past fall I had the awesome opportunity to witness Pam Stenzel speak to a packed house of nearly 750 youth and parents. A few alarming statistics I picked up from her presentation. 1 in 3 people under the age of 25 are infected with a Sexually Transmitted Disease. Sexually active teens and young adults are at a 50% risk of contracting an STD each time they have sex. Most STD’s are not treatable with antibiotics. Most of our parents and grandparents only knew of 5 STD’s there are 30 in existence today. Some STD’s are not detectable through normal means of screening and some are not detectable until a person has been infected for five years.

While Malaria is a serious problem, there are ways to keep it contained through preventative medication, mosquito nets and reducing standing water. Looking at the above statistics, condoms, pills and abortions are not doing anything to lower these numbers. HIV/AIDS and STD’s can be prevented through education and abstinence.

By education I don’t mean telling girls to use the pill, patch or ring, and teaching teens how to put a condom on a banana. Sharing the above statistics would have been enough to teach me not to have sex with multiple partners. Handing out condoms like collector cards and pills like candy won’t prevent anything, it will just continue to create a generation who will not be able to have children when they choose.

The sexual liberation of the 1960’s to the present haven’t done anything to liberate women. We have seen the normalization of sexual deviant behavior. Women rather than choosing to be independent have become reliant on their sexualities not as something beautiful and empowering, but as a currency that has increased the amount of pornography, human trafficking, and the spread of countless disease. Children are seen as a commodity rather than a precious gift and a burden if not “chosen”.


On this International Women’s Day, I am empowered by knowing that I have value in myself because I am who God created me to be. I know what my body is capable of, and am awed and inspired by what I can do intellectually and physically. I don’t want to have anything mucking it up now that I’ve finally gotten “right”. There are those who would say that trying to eliminate the pill and abortion is asinine. To them I would remind that women voting, having a fair paying job, being able to raise a family as a single parent would have been asinine too, all it took was support, empowerment and education to see us through.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Repent!


Over the past few days I’ve heard many of the plans my friends have for this Lent. Some are giving up social media, sweets and soda, others are adding things into their repertoire such as Adoration, intentional prayer, and reading Scripture. Just because habits are hard for me to start and keep going a few weeks ago I started using Loyola Press’ “3 Minute Retreats”. It’s a chance for me to stop working and refocus on the task at hand. Today’s retreat was called “The Consequences of Not Repenting.” The title alone was enough to make me shutter.

In the beginning of these Retreats there is always a focusing Scripture passage. Today was from Luke 13:5 “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”. Yikes! Nothing like fire and brimstone first thing in the morning.

When talking about repentance and Jesus’ teachings, many people look towards the rich young man (Luke 10: 17-23). The man hearing that he needs to give his possessions away to the poor leaves saddened. It is left to our imaginations what happens to this man and what he does. The common expectation is that this man does nothing. Recently reflecting on this Scripture I want to offer another idea.

All through the Gospels we have countless illustrations of people encountering Christ completely. Many are healed, several “converted” and some simply fed. Regardless Jesus was a beacon of change, it was up to people how they responded. We see examples of those who have bad reactions too. The Sanhedrin (on several occasions), demons cast into pigs, and those who do not show gratitude for what they’ve received from Christ.

This rich, young, man is different. He just leaves. Yes, he’s sad because of his riches but that’s all we know. The difference is that he has encountered Christ and that encounter will have an effect. We just never see it. Just as we should be radically transformed by our encounters with Christ through prayer, the Sacraments, and through others. Because we are all human, that transformation may take a while.

So, it’s Ash Wednesday. The start of what should be 47 days of transformation. P90x can guarantee body change in 90 days, depending on what we do, we should see some change spiritually, in 40. How we achieve that change is up to us. So put down that piece of chocolate, log off Twitter and let’s make a change for this Lent.

Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Wandering Style


In an effort to start posting more content more frequently I want to attempt the 7 Quick Takes from the Conversion Diary. So, let's begin!



As my name suggests, I try to be a patient wanderer. I do feel that God has been putting my husband and I to the test in this regard. We are trying to be both patient and willing to where our discernment has been taking us. With a lot of twists, turns, dead ends and lack of a road map, it's been an interesting journey.



Please, please, please, pray for the youth of my parish and the three other parishes who are joining us for the Sacrament of Confirmation this Sunday. Mass will begin at 10:00 AM CST and prayers for these students, sponsors and their families are greatly appreciated.



I have an unhappy car. Lately with strange noises, difficulties with the power steering and a few other hiccups are making having only one vehicle a struggle. It's just been hard.



For those of you who are my Catholic readers, next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is a great way to remember that Lent is a time to be penitential, give alms, and dive deeper into prayer. Ash Wednesday is also a day of Fasting (one full meal and two smaller meals not containing a full meal) and Abstinence from meat. 



I was double checking the rules for Fasting and Abstinence with my friends who are wiser than I. When my non-Catholic friends started asking questions a friend of mine who teaches Theology and blogs over at Truth and Charity sent me this amazing article on the reason that we abstain from meat. Why do Catholics Abstain from Meat?



It's still cold...

I know I grew up in northern Minnesota where negative 50 below days (prior to wind chill) were common, and I still walked to school! My husband's employer has a tally on the white board in the break room counting the number of days this winter we have been below zero. The regional record is 54, we currently sit at 51. Winter is still "here" for another month. I have no doubt that we will hit this record. :(



I am branching out into the unknown territories of hobbies. I have always been an amateur photographer and writer. I want to branch out. I am starting to draw and paint a bit but I want to be able to share that with you. Along with my Catholic commentary please look for more of my passions and hobbies to come out too. Just looks like my wandering is taking me more places and I will be documenting it all here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Love and Despair

Last night I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate mass with our priest and our Junior and Senior High Faith Formation classes. We had what is often called a "card table Mass" since we celebrated Mass in our Gymnasium. It was really everything I could have asked for. The students were mostly polite and engaged, good music, awesome message, great student involvement in ministries and of course Jesus was present! At the end of mass where "announcements" would usually go we had a prepared reflection about the wisdom of Solomon.
One of the most famous stories of Solomon's wisdom comes from first Kings Chapter 3 in the Bible, and tells of two women who came to Solomon asking him to solve their problem. The two women lived in the same house, both had given birth to babies within days of each other, and now one of the babies had died. Now both women were claiming that the baby that was still alive was their child. King Solomon asked one of his servants to bring him a sword. When the sword was brought to him he said, "Now, cut the live baby into two pieces and give each woman half."
One woman said, "No, please, my master, do not kill the baby. Give it to this woman." The other woman said, "Yes, cut the baby in two. Then neither of us will have him." King Solomon said, "Give the baby to the first woman because she is the real mother."
God gave wisdom to Solomon to make right decisions. God will give us wisdom and many other gifts if we only ask Him to.
As a child, hearing this story of Solomon always made me think "Wow, what a clever way to solve a problem." I never really had a reason to go back and look at the passage as an adult. (I will admit my Bible reading has been lax lately) As an adult my interpretation of this story is vastly different, rather than Solomon, I focus on the women.

Their babies we know were about the same age, must have been the same gender and still very young. If they were still very young and the one baby had recently died, both mothers still had the opportunity to nurse and care for the baby as if it were their own. Both women love their children but are going through a very traumatic time in their lives.

The first woman is clearly the voice of love. Love is self sacrificial in nature and would rather see the best of the other over fulfilling their needs. She would love her own child to the point of giving him up to see him live. She would also have the opportunity to still watch him grow and celebrate his milestones with him since they would live in the same home.

The second woman shows us the dangers of despair. Under the supposition we made above, their children are still relatively young. She has had the opportunity to see her child alive, hold him, nurse him and love him. Her response of "Yes, cut the baby in two. Then neither of us will have him." is not a response of hate but extreme loss and pain. Pain causes us to do uncharacteristic things. If they have both have been caring for the child as their own, she clearly cares for the child, but pain has blinded her saying, "If I can't have something, neither should anyone else."

The second woman's response is something I fight with often. It could be when a friend announces they are expecting, "Well why haven't we gotten pregnant yet?", when plans seem to always fall through, "It wasn't going to be that fun anyway", or when I'm just in a big blue funk, "If I can't enjoy this, no one can." I hope I'm not the only one who has battled with these thoughts. The important thing is that I don't get bogged down by them.


On Heaven and Earth - Book Review


On Heaven and Earth is a wonderful and enlightening look at what brings people together despite their differences. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio and Rabbi Abraham Skorka bring to light what cam be accomplished through well thought out discussion and difference of opinion.


The future Pontiff has through his friendship and obvious respect for Rabbi Skorka brings
about an enlightening inter-religious dialogue which is vastly different than what is seen in mainstream media and religions today.

Each chapter is its own unique conversation between Bergoglio and Skorka, allowing readers to take each chapter at a time or to bounce between topics that interest them.  While not usually one to read introductions to books, the independent introductions by Bergoglio and Skorka allow us to know the authors independent of each other and know their individual voices when they are having their conversations.

As a Youth Minister and lay woman, this book first interested me as a chance to learn more on hot topic issues such as Religion, Euthanasia, Same Sex Marriage and Education. This book became more than just a resource but an opportunity to purposefully engage in these topics in my own life.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Right Prayer for the Wrong Reasons

I logged back into my blog for the first time in, "forever" and realized it had been three months since I had posted anything. At least for me, it was for good reason.

After my last post in October, I had a chance to go on retreat with a group of awesome women from my parish. It was nice to be away with women I knew in passing and getting back in touch with an old friend from the past. That weekend was also the birthday of our second child to eternal life. For me to even type that shows how profound this retreat was and how much healing I received.

Within 2 weeks of that my mother-in-law's health decreased horribly. My husband and I were able to go home and help take care of her and my father-in-law. She passed away early in December and we stayed for a while to help take care of affairs.

Then came the evil sinus infection which took me out for two weeks, Christmas and New Years.

Since the new year my husband and I have been busy catching up with work and settling back down into a normal routine. Needless to say, over the past few months I have been in a great position to care for myself and family and I was happy to take that on. 

Especially as I was away I had a chance to truly have a chance to pray with those I love for others intentions. Friends, loved ones and local news stories became reasons to pray, even for a brief moment. I have close friends who contact me for different prayer requests. 

There was a recent one that really stuck in my mind. A friend asked for prayers for her sister and brother in law to have a successful implantation of a fetus through  IVF. 

I looked at my phone dumbfounded, I didn't know how I could pray for this intentention. 

I knew there wasn't any great risk to the mother or father but there was a new life in the balance, conceived in a manner outside of the teachings of the church.  Sure, I understand the desire to desperately want a child, but I can't pass judgement on their decision. I just didn't know how to pray for them. 

I am ashamed of myself that the thought of not praying for them crossed my mind. It was the fact that the need to be loving outweighed my desire to be righteous. I looked and looked for some way I could pray for them and it took me putting myself in their position the find it. 

If my husband and I were in the position they were in, there would be some major wounds that would need to be healed, a few financial burdens would need to be lifted and mostly a new soul needs to be protected and guarded. 

Life, precious and fragile, at all stages needs to be hides and protected. This new soul conceived outside of its parents , has no home and no protection. It was truly at the mercy of its elements. Life also begins at conception, regardless of how conception happened. 

This became my prayer, that this little, precious life, conceived in less than perfect circumstances would be healthy and loved all the days of its life.

There are many circumstances and situations in life that are less than ideal. We make mistakes and aren't perfect. God can take our imperfections and do great things with them, if only we let him.