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NFP Awareness Week Begins July 23

“It’s Time! Say ‘Yes’ to God’s Plan for Married Love” is the theme of this year’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a national educational campaign of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to celebrate God’s design for married love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of Natural Family Planning methods.
 
NFP, as the U.S. bishops wrote in “Married Love and the Gift of Life,” is supportive of Catholic beliefs about married love because it “respects the God-given power to love a new human life into being.”
 
This year’s theme invites a reflection on how now could be a very good and acceptable time to learn more about NFP and the Church’s teachings about marriage and God’s plan for married love.
 
In his address to teachers of Natural Family Planning in 1996, Pope St. John Paul II said, “The moment has come for every parish and every structure of consultation and assistance to the family and to the defense of life to have personnel available who can teach married couples how to use the natural methods. For this reason I particularly recommend that bishops, parish priests and those responsible for pastoral care welcome and promote this valuable service.
 
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 23-29) highlight  the anniversary of the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (July 25) that articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. The dates also mark the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26), the parents of the Blessed Mother.
 
Resources and ideas for celebrating and promoting NFP Awareness Week are available on the USCCB’s NFP Program website.
 
For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
  • Published in Nation

Holistic family planning alternative

Carrie Handy, respect life coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, responds to a letter from Rep. Johanna Donovan printed in the Burlington Free Press. 

As the representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington who testified about H.620, let me clarify some erroneous information in the June 12 letter from Rep. Johanna Donovan.

The Diocese did not oppose H.620. Rather, we asked for a conscience exemption to allow qualifying religious institutions to opt out of paying for items that violate their religious beliefs. This exception would not have blocked access to contraception for anyone, but would have shown that Vermont does not discriminate when deciding whose rights to protect. Having religious beliefs that many do not agree with should not strip us of our First Amendment rights.

But even more, as a woman I challenge Rep. Donovan’s assertion that, “contraceptives are essential for women’s health and happiness, family happiness and the good of society.”

When first introduced more than a half century ago, the “pill” was heralded as an empowerment tool for women, a means to end poverty and an antidote for unhappy marriages.

Fifty years later, the poor are still with us, divorce rates have climbed, the number of single mothers living in poverty has soared, and despite powerful state support for contraception, nearly half of all pregnancies in Vermont are unplanned.

Focusing on ways to lift up and support families by creating jobs with livable wages, increasing affordable housing and improving access to higher education are a few strategies to empower women, end poverty and strengthen families.

Instead, H.620 focuses on methods of preventing or aborting children born to poor women. In his annual budget speech in January, Gov. Shumlin pledged to make free sterilization available for low-income women during the highly vulnerable time immediately after giving birth, citing the costs of births to poor women. In their testimony promoting H.620’s mandate for no-cost permanent and reversible sterilization, Planned Parenthood representatives echoed that sentiment, bringing to mind the eugenics project of the 1930s that targeted the poor of Vermont for forced sterilization. Eliminating poor people is a questionable strategy for helping them.

Planned Parenthood says fully-funded sterilization is needed because of the failure rate of contraception. In their H.620 testimony, they admitted that more than half of women with unintended pregnancies were using contraception at the time they became pregnant and the pill, reportedly the most effective form of contraception available short of sterilization, has a failure rate of 9 percent. That means that nine out of every 100 sexually active women using the contraceptive pill will become pregnant in a year, including the young teenagers who are regularly given prescriptions for the pill at Planned Parenthood clinics and walk out believing they can engage in casual sexual behavior without risking pregnancy. Is it any wonder that one in three women will have had an abortion by age 45, and that STD rates have exploded?
 
                                      

The environmental risks of hormonal contraception should concern us all.

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The environmental risks of hormonal contraception should concern us all. They are a source of endocrine disruptors (EDs) which have been shown to be connected to adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) as well as a rise in the rates of thyroid disorders, diabetes and obesity. EDs come from many sources, including birth control pills, pesticides, plastics, hair dyes, cosmetics, cleaning products and a host of other hormone-containing compounds, and can enter the water supply and the food stream and be ingested by humans unknowingly.

Rep. Donovan should know that the Catholic Church encourages family planning done in a holistic way that respects natural fertility and promotes communication in marriages. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a safe, environmentally friendly, and cost-free way to help couples achieve or avoid pregnancy by observing natural signs. Although it is practiced by many for religious reasons, it has become increasingly popular among secular health-minded and environmentally-conscious couples. NFP is easy to learn and highly effective when used carefully.

It’s true that to be effective, NFP requires a mutually-respectful relationship in which men and women respect their natural fertility and honor the power of their sexuality to make human beings. It seems to me that these are the attitudes that should be promoted in order to truly foster “women’s health and happiness, family happiness and the good of society.”

Carrie Handy is the respect life coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.
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