The $23.50 Baby

The $23.50 Baby

When did fertility become a disease, something so terrible that it must be controlled—and the methods for doing so provided for free to every woman in the US? While many Catholics struggle with the Church being in our bedrooms, now we have the government in there with us, too. Something is wrong here!

A person’s fertility is a gift from God. And it’s based on this truth that the Catholic Church teaches that using artificial methods to block one’s fertility is sinful.

God created the “marital embrace” for the complete and total sharing of love between a married couple. “Complete and total” in this context means all that I am, holding nothing back, committed for life. That’s why our full sexual expression is designed for a committed marital relationship—a relationship in which giving all of oneself includes one’s fertility and which provides a stable environment for welcoming and raising children.

I realize that, even though most Catholics might say they don’t want the government telling their Church what to do, a large percentage doesn’t follow the Church’s teaching regarding family planning. Many—and this is a judgment on my part—probably made up their minds on the issue without really exploring what the Church teaches and why.

We can rightly dissent from a Church teaching only after prayer and an open-minded and thorough effort to inform our consciences on the topic.

I judge that the Church has fallen down on the job here, too. Far too little effort is made to share the Church’s teaching and its affirmation of life and the beauty of sexuality and sexual expression. Far too little effort is made to share the natural methods of family planning that are morally acceptable in the eyes of the Church—and healthier for women and marriages, too.

These natural methods, when used conscientiously, can be as effective as—and even more effective than—artificial birth control. They simply work with, instead of against, a couple’s fertility cycles.

It’s a touchy subject, and a lot of pastors and ministers simply back off—either out of fear of encountering anger and opposition or out of embarrassment because a couple’s sexual relationship is “a private matter.”

I need the Church’s guidance for making the decisions—small and large—in my life. Life is complicated, and the path the majority takes isn’t necessarily the one that’s going to help me grow in my relationship with God. I don’t, however, want my government to step in and tell me that I and all other women in the US have a “right” to something my Church has consistently taught is wrong.

WHO’S THE $23.50 BABY?
That’s my daughter! She is nothing short of a miracle—and not a “miracle of modern medicine.” She is truly priceless.

The $23.50 is the total amount we were charged by the hospital for her delivery. Twenty dollars went toward a special new-parents’ meal and $3.50 was charged to turn on the phone in my room. (This was pre-cell phone.)

If the government wants to mandate total insurance coverage for something, the cost of welcoming a child into the world would be a worthy consideration!

If you want to learn more about the Church’s teaching about sexuality, sexual expression and family planning, check out:

“The Gospel of Life: An Abbreviated Version of Pope John Paul II’s Pro-life Encyclical”
“What’s the Church Doing in Our Bedroom? Catholic Couples and Family Planning”

“Just Follow Your (Informed) Conscience”

“The How and Why of Natural Family Planning”
“Natural Family Planning: Key to Intimacy”
Conscience in Conflict: How to Make Moral Choices
Twelve Tough Issues: What the Church Teaches and Why

Life-giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage

Life Issues, Medical Choices: Questions and Answers for Catholics
Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching (revised edition)

“Married Love and the Gift of Life” Note the list of resources at the end of the document.
“For Your Marriage”


About the Author

Joan McKamey works for Liguori Publications.
  • KJ

    I am aware of the late ’60s Vatican teaching on artificial birth control but the explanation of it through the emphasis on mutual respect in a marital relationship ignores the realities of poorer and “macho” communities.   Women in low-income Hispanic and black communities, for example, are pressured to do whatever the man wants, to include sex on demand.  This is also probably true in other, mostly poorer ethnic groups, including whites.  As a former tutor for a young immigrant Mexican girl, I’d see it every time I went to her house.   So there is no “mutual respect” in those sexual (not necessarily marital) relationships.  I also don’t see enough reference to men in describing responsibilities for family planning of any type, in coverage throughout the media.  They need to be equally addressed on this topic.  While “be fruitful and multiply” is very applicable on the farm, it has the opposite effect in urban poor neighborhoods, by exacerbating the problems with poverty.

    Bottom line, it would be great if all men and women made decisions to be mutually respectful in decisions involving sex, but that attitude is not present in some cultures. It would be very helpful if the Vatican acknowledged that individual contraconception could help the situations in which women are not culturally “allowed” to deny men sex on demand (apt description), and in which abundant fertility translates to “trapped in poverty.”      

  • Me

    You are spewing fiction. Natural Family planning does NOT work as well as other methods. Ask thousands of crying couples and starving families…..Vasectomy, Tubes being tied, etc…. THOSE methods, while not absolutle, are definitely more effective per statistical research. (If I were posting the article, I would quote. But I think you would be served well to do actually do a bit of research and not just personal reflection on that which you have an incomplete knowledge base.) And why is it that the church doesn’t want to be told what to do, but they have no problem telling the government what to do? Same sex union, case in point. No government declaration is going against a sacrament, but the church declaration is going against a civil decision.