The thirty-first U.S. president, Herbert Hoover, once declared: “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” One hopes that his words will continue to reverberate within those entrusted to make future decisions regarding the entrance into future organized and prolonged conflicts. In the U.S., Independence, Memorial, and Veterans days remind us of the ultimate sacrifice provided by American soldiers to bolster and sustain the American way of life. In most instances, our wars have been fought in distant lands. Today, however, we hear of another war whose battlefield is unfolding before our eyes. The media and members of the Democratic party tells us that women are the target. Boldly, they proclaim that Republican legislators and five Catholic justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are engaging in a “War on Women.”
In the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., some insist that the war has accelerated. With the SCOTUS having ruled that employers with religiously-founded beliefs need not provide benefits to their employees that would violate such principles (e.g., artificial contraception and abortion coverage), young women hoisting signs with catchy slogans may be seen on the nightly news. From “Keep your Rosaries off my Ovaries” to “Keep your Theology away from my Biology”, they excitedly affirm that a war has been declared. In the backdrop, liberal politicians and even the “next” president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, have weighed in:
“I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction,” Clinton said. “It is very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health-care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception.” She warned that the ruling creates a “slippery slope” of companies claiming religious exemptions to other laws.
A Wall Street Journal editorial (Hooray! The War on Women is Back, 3 July 2014), quotes other familiar torch bearers:
DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, warned that “Republicans want to do everything they can to have the long hand of government, and now the long hand of business, reach into a woman’s body and make health-care decisions for her.”
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) insisted that “it’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women.”
Sandra Fluke, the famous Georgetown Law School graduate, is “worried that the current reproductive rights environment even endangers a woman’s ability to pay for her own coverage.”
In the end, by stoking the flames of this war, the WSJ editorial staff muses that “…Democrats prefer to campaign on the war-on-women trope through November. Their goal is to scare up flagging election interests among their ‘coalition of the ascendent’ minorities, young people, single women and affluent cultural liberals.” With an ability to manipulate a low-information electorate, why bother addressing real issues such as: growing poverty, stubborn unemployment that punishes minorities and single mothers, unsustainable government spending, and formerly unimaginable levels of national and student loan debt? May we also not forget the continued falling rate of labor participation that has translated into a record-high number of able-bodied Americans that are not working.
In returning to Hoover’s statement that “older men declare war”, those who claim that a war on females has been launched are partially correct in that U.S. Supreme Court justices and Republican legislators are no spring chickens. But isn’t this war really about the rights of certain groups to not directly fund activities they deem as morally offensive? For Catholics and certain others, artificial contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race; that is, the purpose of sex is both unitive and procreative. In the name of a war on women, is it appropriate that their moral rights be trampled upon? For Catholics and certain others, abortion is wrong because it results in the murder of an innocent human person. In the name of a war on women, is it appropriate that their moral rights be trampled upon?
For a moment, let’s assume that the so-called war on women would be over if coverage for artificial contraception and abortion were included in every American health plan. While praying that this will never be the case, I ask another question. Would it? Even after these inclusions, will not “free” toothpaste, tissues, health club memberships, and other to-be-determined “necessities” also be demanded? As irresponsible politicians play to an ever-expanding base while taxpayers and future generations foot the bill, one thing is certain: the war on women and on those who pay taxes will never be cancelled.
More than two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson declared: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” Today, in observing that which is happening to our great nation, I hear the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “All shall be well, all shall be well.”
In God’s time.
REVEREND MR. KURT GODFRYD is editor of Catholic Journal and a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Married and the father of five children, Deacon Kurt was ordained to the diaconate on October 4, 2008 by His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida and is assigned to St. Clement of Rome parish in Romeo, Michigan. A native Detroiter, he was educated at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit Mercy, where he received a B.S. in finance, M.B.A., and M.A. in economics. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where he earned an M.A. in pastoral ministry.