Hard pill to swallow

She called herself “Pillamina” and told the very small crowd gathered at a Planned Parenthood rally in North Carolina that she represented birth control. Pillamina, who took to the stage during the rally held in Charlotte the week of the Democratic National Convention, said she was there to encourage people access to her, hence the reason she was dressed up like a giant package of birth control pills. About the only thing I agreed with regarding Pillamina’s ridiculous, weak, sensational and totally inaccurate statements concerning contraception and access to it — or, pardon me, to her — was that she is a pill all right, and for a variety of reasons. 

I don’t know who designed her get-up, but I hope she doesn’t plan on entering any contests for the best Halloween costume. She is not about to make it even on the short list, because — despite her best efforts — her life-size package of pills wasn’t very accurate in terms of design. Pillamina was missing some very important details about herself. Maybe it’s been awhile since she’s taken a good look in the mirror. Currently, every package of birth control pills comes with some pretty daunting information regarding very unpleasant medical concerns. Pillamina’s decision to leave those details on the sewing-room floor could have been because there just wasn’t enough material to cover at least some of those risks: increased risk of breast cancer; high blood pressure; weight gain; blood clots; depression; and decreased libido. 

Oh, and let’s not forget what the World Health Organization had to say about Pillamina back in 2005, when it declared her to be a Group 1 carcinogen. So, who can blame Pillamina? I mean, who wants to walk around with that type of statement plastered on her backside? 

The dominant message from Pillamina and her Planned Parenthood pals was all about how people who are pro-life are simply all about hating women. According to her, all Catholic women are all pro-contraception, all the time. 

I suppose Pillamina and company probably wouldn’t be very interested in seeing the results of a new survey showing how Catholic women are actually interested in what their Church has to say about artificial contraception. I wonder what she would think about the survey results, which show 44 percent of the women who were questioned accept parts of Church teaching on family planning. And that a majority of that 44 percent would be receptive to learning more about Church teaching on contraception and how it impacts them and their families. 

The survey, “What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception,” co-authored by a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, paints a different picture than the one that Pillamina and company depict. While the survey shows we have a lot of work to do in terms of women completely complying with Church teachings in this area, it also reveals that Pillamina may have a bit of a popularity problem. If the pill is the be-all and end-all for all women, then why, as co-author Mary Rice Hasson pointed out, are so many Catholic women open to learning more about the Church’s teaching on contraception? 

“There are many Catholic women out there who don’t fully accept the Church’s teaching, but are open to learning more about it,” she said in an interview with EWTN News. “Two-thirds of these women are already involved in parish life. In short, they are receptive and reachable. This is good news.” 

Good news concerning the truly freeing teachings of the Catholic faith, but a hard pill to swallow for you know who. 

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.