sábado, 22 de outubro de 2011

Why I never should have had eight children

by Leila Miller

October 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A few months back, I told my readers on my blog how to raise eight children without even trying. Today, I’m going to tell you why I never should have had eight children in the first place: had I listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.

When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough “mommy material” for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business - no business! - having another baby. Not now, not ever.

All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it:

I can’t cook.
I can’t grocery shop.
I can’t bring the kids out alone without help.
I have nooooo patience.
I am not crafty in the least.
I can’t sew.
I can’t throw a party.
I’m not athletic or outdoorsy.
I don’t know how to make a pretty home.
I don’t know how to make anything fun.
I am lazy and a procrastinator.
I’m used to being served, not serving.
I am sarcastic and cranky.
I am a complainer.
I like to be alone.
I hate to be interrupted or inconvenienced.
I am not particularly good with children.

In that moment, I knew all of these things. And I was discouraged. Any one of these reasons could be enough for a woman to convince herself that it’s imprudent to have another child. In fact, you might just be saying to yourself now, “My gosh, that woman shouldn’t have one child, much less eight!”

But see, there’s the thing: Moms of big families are told constantly by other women that “I couldn’t do what you do!” or “You must have so much patience!” or “You must have a real way with children!” They think we were given a special gift or have a mutant gene that they do not possess. But they have no idea how much we are just like them. In fact, most of the women who say those things to me are better suited to raise a large family than I.

As I stood there in the kitchen that night, a moment of grace overtook the moment of discouragement. How many times had I told others, “Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!” I remembered it then, and my fears and anxieties were banished. Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core, would taunt me with the notion that my lack of gourmet skills should preclude new life in my marriage. I saw the evil of it then, and I called him out. I still cussed a lot back then, and I am pretty sure I told the devil what he could do with his putrid flood of discouraging thoughts. Yeah, that was a good moment.

Since that day, five eternal souls have been created in our family, four of whom my husband and I have the privilege of raising on this earth. And, while I can’t claim to have conquered all the deficiencies and vices on my list (not even close! drat!), the existence of all my children has moved me along the path of holiness. Because that’s how it works: The souls in your life are gifts, each of whom is meant to sanctify you in a particular way. My little sanctifiers are the artisans who change and mold me in all the ways God knows I need, and they are their father’s and their siblings’ artisans, too.

That my family exists as it does is living proof that “with God, all things are possible” - even Leila Miller mothering eight great kids.

Deo gratias.

Reprinted with permission from Leila Miller’s blog.

sexta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2011

Leader of Courage speaks on challenge of homosexuality for Catholics


At a conference organized by Courage, the ministry for faithful Catholics struggling to live the virtue of chastity despite a same-sex attraction, Matthew Rarey of the National Catholic Register conducted a long and illuminating interview with the group's new executive director.

Father Paul Check--who replaced the late Father John Harvey, the legendary founder of Courage--explains that the challenge facing Catholics with homosexual impulses is not terribly different from that facing heterosexuals: to resist the blandishments of a "sex-saturated" society.

The struggle to live chaste lives is difficult for homosexuals at a time when the "gay rights" movement militates against any self-restraint. But Father Check also explains why the widespread acceptance of contraception among married couples makes it more difficult to preach chastity to homosexuals.

Additional sources for this story
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quinta-feira, 20 de outubro de 2011

Change in Sexual Orientation is Possible, Harm Unlikely, according to New Evidence of Long-Term Outcomes

Reviewed by Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D.


(October, 2011) The best-designed study of sexual-orientation change efforts (SOCE) to date, has just concluded in a follow-up report that some people can indeed move from homosexuality to heterosexuality, and that harm is unlikely to result from such efforts.

The original study was published in 2007 by Stanton Jones, Ph.D., of Wheaton College, and Mark Yarhouse, Ph.D., of Regent University, in their book, “Ex-Gays?”. The follow-up study has just appeared in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.

In the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, the authors conclude:

Evidence from the study suggested that change of homosexual orientation appears possible for some and that psychological distress did not increase on average as a result of the involvement in the change process” (Jones & Yarhouse, 2011, p. 404).

Study methods

The authors followed 98 individuals (72 men and 26 women) who undertook SOCE through the assistance of a variety of Christian ministries over a period of 6-7 years. The authors’ motivation for conducting this study was, in part, that the American Psychological Association had gone on the record indicating that change in sexual orientation was not possible, and that risks to those who engage in such efforts could be significant.

The authors note that the APA has moderated its viewpoint somewhat since then, fluctuating between statements that sexual-orientation change is “uncommon,” to the view that science “cannot yet” make conclusive statements about such change from the available literature.

The rigor of their own research standards, Jones and Yarhouse indicate, in fact meets many of the requirements that the APA itself has asserted are necessary in order to make reasonably definitive conclusions about the actuality of such change.

Participants in the Jones-Yarhouse study were first assessed at the beginning of their involvement in SOCE (from 1-3 years); again at 3 years, and again at the 6-7 year mark. Findings from the first two assessments were published earlier in the book, Ex-Gays? (2007).

Standardized and widely accepted measures of sexual orientation and psychological distress were administered at each assessment period. At the final time of assessment, attrition had reduced the available sample to 64%, which is not unusual for longitudinal studies.

Study findings

The results after 6-7 years of SOCE involvement, presented below, indicate that change does indeed occur, although not for

  • Success: Conversion: 23% (n = 14) of the sample reported substantial reductions in homosexual attraction and subsequent conversion to heterosexual attractions and functioning.
  • Success: Chastity: 30% (n = 18) reported that homosexual attraction was still present, but only incidentally or in a way that did not seem to bring distress, allowing them to live contentedly without overt sexual activity.
  • Continuing: 16% (n = 10) reported modest decreases in homosexual attraction, but were not satisfied with their degree of change and remained committed to the change process.
  • Nonresponse: 7% (n = 4) reported no significant sexual orientation change; they had not given up on the change process, but some were confused or conflicted about which direction to turn next.
  • Failure: Confused: 5% (n = 3) reported no significant sexual orientation change, and had given up on the change process, but without yet embracing a gay identity.
  • Failure: Gay identity: 20% (n = 12) had given up on the change process and embraced a gay identity.

Jones and Yarhouse observed that from the point-of-view of the ministries involved in their study, 53% of the sample therefore had self-categorized as achieving “some version of success,” and 25% had self-categorized as failure.

As regards harm, the study participants on average did not report experiencing harm due to SOCE during the course of their pursuit of change. In fact, two of the indicators of psychological distress actually improved significantly over the time of the study.


Jones and Yarhouse conclude that “the findings of this study appear to contradict the commonly expressed view that sexual orientation is not changeable” (p. 425). and that attempts to change are not likely to be harmful.

While the authors believe their research clearly contradict the pessimism regarding SOCE that has been promulgated by the APA, they do acknowledge that their study has limitations.

First, the average change in sexual orientation was modest, although they noted that this is likely to be an artifact of average change scores including some participants who made dramatic shifts away from homosexual orientation and fewer participants who reported dramatic shifts to a gay identity. In other words, the dramatic changes toward heterosexual response clearly made by some participants may have been offset by changes toward homosexual response in others, so that the overall average change in sexual orientation for the sample appeared to be modest.

Second, participants who had begun the change process prior to the start of the study appeared to have disproportionately positive outcomes compared to participants inducted into the study early in their pursuit of change. This may indicate that some weeding-out of individuals who were not successful in changing sexual orientation occurred in the time between the onset of pursuit of change and the initial collection of data. Although there is no way to know this for sure, Jones and Yarhouse imply that it is probably wise to view their study’s success rate for the change process undertaken in Christian ministries as a somewhat optimistic figure.

A third limitation is the relatively small sample size, which makes any generalization of these findings to the population of individuals pursuing SOCE tentative. That said, the size of the sample is not uncommon in the longitudinal research that has been widely accepted as representative of samples in other subject domains. Finally, the authors note that, given the study design, it was not possible to determine which components of the participants’ change process were responsible for the outcomes reported.


No doubt this study will be dismissed by skeptics who for ideological reasons remain dogmatically unwilling to acknowledge the reality of sexual orientation change in some people. However, Jones and Yarhouse’s study of SOCE should go a long way toward putting to rest two extreme positions: i.e., that change always occurs and is simply a choice, or that change never occurs and is generally harmful.

It is also worth remembering that this study did not examine SOCE’s that occur in the context of psychotherapy. The subjects in this study received their counseling in Christian ministries. It is certainly within the realm of plausibility that the inclusion of professional psychological care, over and above participants’ involvement in Christian ministries, would increase positive outcomes.

The hallmark of a scientific organization that is not beholden to socio-political interests is a heightened curiosity at unexpected findings, and a subsequent dedication to understanding how such findings came to be. In the case of change in sexual orientation, which had been purported to be impossible, this implies a dedication to study those individuals who report change in order to identify the active ingredients of change and thereby maximize its potential among SOCE consumers.

Unfortunately, however, the major mental-health associations appear to be moving further away from a purely scientific approach and toward one apparently directed by activists, whereby the purpose of their science does not seem to be understanding those who report change, but rather debunking, dismissing, and ignoring them. Thus while Jones and Yarhouse will win no accolades or awards from the APA, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that their research exemplifies the best in scientific curiosity and courage.


Jones, S. L., & Yarhouse, M.A. (2007). Ex-gays? A longitudinal study of religiously mediated change in sexual orientation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Jones, S. L., & Yarhouse, M. A. (2011). A longitudinal study of attempted religiously mediated sexual orientation change. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 37, 404-427. DOI: 10.1080/009263X.2011.607052

«Solo maschio e femmina costruiscono la famiglia»

di Raffaella Frullone

«Da un punto di vista sociale due persone dello stesso sesso non costituiscono né una coppia, né una famiglia. La società ha bisogno della coppia uomo/donna perché essa è alla base del senso stesso dell’unione, nonchè dell’apertura verso l’avvenire». Sono le parole di monsignor Tony Anatrella (nella foto), accademico francese, psicanalista e specialista di fama internazionale in psichiatria sociale. Docente delle Libere facoltà di filosofia e psicologia di Parigi e del Collège des Bernardins, già consulente del Pontificio Consiglio per la famiglia e del Pontificio consiglio per la salute, domani sarà a Brescia in qualità di relatore al convegno dal titolo Famiglia= maschio+femmina? Ideologia di gender e natura umana. L’incontro si svolge a partire dalle 9.00 presso il Centro Pastorale Paolo VI ed è promosso dagli uffici Famiglia e pastorale della salute della Diocesi di Brescia insieme al Gruppo Lot, Alleanza cattolica, gruppo AGAPO, Obiettivo Chaire e Scienza e Vita Brescia. Il convegno si propone di riflettere sulla negazione della differenza tra uomo e donna, sul diritto a tutti i costi di scegliere il proprio orientamento sessuale, il tipo di coppia e i ruoli genitoriali ai quali ciascuno può aspirare.

Monsignor Anatrella, ha ancora senso oggi considerare la coppia nucleo originario della famiglia, come composta da un maschio e una femmina? Oppure questa non è altro che una delle possibili opzioni tra diversi tipi di “coppia”?

«Nel momento in cui riflettiamo sulla coppia e la famiglia, dobbiamo tener conto della realtà delle cose. Gli uomini e le donne esistono e, di fatto, la loro presenza e la loro relazione hanno già un senso: sono i soli che formano una coppia dal momento che sono diversamente sessuati. Non ci sono che due identità: quella dell’uomo e quella della donna, non ne esistono altre a meno di non confondere l’identità sessuale, di fatto maschile e femminile, con degli «orientamenti sessuali», ossia dei desideri.

Chi è attratto da persone dello stesso sesso ha adottato un’attitudine che è la conseguenza della storia che ha vissuto, dell’organizzazione della sua vita affettiva che manifesta come alcune fasi dello sviluppo psicologico non siano state affrontate. Si tratta di casi particolari che sono sempre esistiti e che dobbiamo approcciare con attenzione, stima e intelligenza. Tuttavia la questione che si pone oggi è quella di sapere se la vita coniugale e familiare può definirsi in rapporto all’omosessualità, in altre parole: possiamo approcciare l’omosessualità sul piano sociale nello stesso modo in cui l’approcciamo sul piano individuale? La risposta è: no.

Viviamo in un momento storico di grande confusione di pensieri, sentimenti e relazioni, in cui tutto risulta ingarbugliato, senza le distinzioni razionali che invece sono necessarie. Da un punto di vista sociale due persone dello stesso sesso sono in una relazione speculare e dentro il diniego dell’alterità sessuale, esse non costituiscono né una coppia, né una famiglia. La società ha bisogno della coppia uomo/donna perché essa è alla base del senso stesso dell’unione, nonchè dell’apertura verso il futuro. In quanto tali, maschio e femmina aprono all’avvenire indipendentemente e aldilà dell’ essere procreatori, sono all’origine della storia. Un uomo e una donna che si sposano e formano una famiglia portano gioia e buonumore alle proprie famiglie d’origine, agli amici e alla società. Con loro e grazie a loro la vita continua, mentre intorno ci vengono proposte alternative che sono fuori dalla logica dell’alleanza, della generazione e della trasmissione, quest'ultime sono delle soluzioni narcisistiche che portano ad un vicolo cieco».

Il pensiero dominante cerca di convincerci che i concetti di «madre» e «padre» siano di fatto soltanto delle convenzioni culturali e che gran parte dei problemi delle famiglie possa essere risolto suddividendo i compiti tra i genitori. La maternità e la paternità sono davvero funzioni sociali intercambiabili?

«Si tratta di una visione semplicistica. Siccome non sappiamo più fare la distinzione tra uomini e donne, non siamo più in grado di dire cosa siano davvero maternità e paternità. Viviamo in una società matriarcale in cui il modello dominante è quello della donna e della mamma, gli uomini sono invitati ad allinearsi a questo archetipo recitando la parte della «mamma bis», come ho scritto nel mio libro La differenza vietata, edito da Flammarion, il padre deve confondersi con la madre e riproporre la sua immagine. Ora, il padre non è materno, nemmeno quando si occupa del nutrimento del figlio, è paterno. Per questo è più indicato che il bimbo venga nutrito dalla mamma ed sia tenuto in braccio da lei, soprattutto nei primi mesi di vita, periodo in cui il bimbo acquista fiducia staccandosi progressivamente da chi lo ha tenuto nove mesi in grembo. Intendiamoci, il padre può certamente occuparsi di lui e fornire tutte le cure necessarie, ma siccome il bambino è stato nel grembo della madre, quando nasce sviluppa un contatto corporale unico con lei, ha ancora bisogno della mamma per sentirsi al sicuro e svilupparsi a sua immagine. Poi, progressivamente, imparerà a differenziarsi grazie alla presenza del padre. Il papà e la mamma non hanno le stesse funzioni: la mamma protegge, stimola il bambino attraverso il linguaggio e lo risveglia affettivamente, mentre il padre, che è di sesso differente rispetto alla mamma, differenzia il bambino, gli svela la sua identità e il significato delle leggi del mondo, per questa ragione l’uno e l’altra sono complementari. Il discorso sulla divisione dei compiti è molto ambiguo e rischia di sfociare in conflitti, che nel contesto della famiglia ognuno possa portare il proprio contributo è senz’altro una cosa vera e buona, ma l’idea che i ruoli possano essere intercambiabili non è realista».

Le teorie di genere affermano che non esistono una natura femminile e una maschile, ma semplicemente un corpo che non è determinante per l’identità sessuale…

«Siamo in pieno idealismo. Queste teorie sviluppano una falsa nozione di natura che non vuole riconoscere che c’è una struttura femminile o maschile dalla quale uomini e donne dipendono. I teorici del gender sono nella negazione del corpo quando Judith Bulter afferma che «il corpo è una materia neutra», non nel senso che esso risulta flessibile alla volontà, che gli riconosce dei limiti, ma nel senso che diventa possibile collocarlo dentro identità diverse e varie: quella dell’uomo, quella della donna, dell’omosessuale, del transessuale e altri. La psicanalisi freudiana lo ha dimostrato ma anche l’esperienza di ciascuno di noi lo prova: l’uomo e la donna sviluppano la propria psicologia in estensione all’interiorizzazione del proprio corpo sessuato. Si tratta di un riflesso fisico che opera durante l’infanzia e l’adolescenza mentre il soggetto si scopre e si accetta.

Tuttavia ci sono dei casi individuali in cui dei soggetti non accettano il proprio corpo mentre alcuni altri sono convinti che la natura abbia sbagliato. Il loro corpo autentico è rappresentato dall’idea che si fanno, che non corrisponde alla loro realtà personale: il corpo immaginato è quindi estraneo al corpo reale. Ora, l’uomo e la donna dipendono da un’identità sessuale di fatto, essa è un’eredità che ognuno è chiamato a integrare nella propria vita psichica. La società attuale non favorisce questo lavoro perchè a tratti esalta e a tratti disprezza il corpo. Le mode ne sono il riflesso: tatuaggi e piercing danno l’illusione di avere un corpo diverso, questo è il sintomo della difficoltà ad accettare e accogliere il proprio corpo. In un mondo che presenta il corpo attraverso orrori e mostri, noi invece rimarchiamo la bellezza e l’importanza del corpo umano, che è la persona stessa».

Nel contesto attuale la tendenza è quella di lasciarci intendere che ciascuno ha il diritto di scegliere il proprio orientamento sessuale, ci sono dei rischi in questo ?

«Questa concezione che si innesta sulla teoria di genere è frutto delle associazioni omosessuali. Appare piuttosto significativo osservare che la maggior parte delle nozioni che definiscono l’organizzazione della psicologia sessuale si trovano ad essere invertite, per esempio si parla di «orientamento sessuale» dove fino a poco tempo fa si parlava di desideri. Questo cambio lessicale è una manipolazione del linguaggio volta ad attribuire un carattere ontologico agli orientamenti sessuali, si cerca un’origine genetica, neurologia e ormonale per affermare che l’omosessualità e la transessualità sono del tutto naturali. Questi orientamenti hanno invece un’origine più complessa. Curiosamente, per tornare alla domanda precedente, si accetta il concetto di natura esteso in senso biologico ma si rifiuta il concetto di natura nel senso filosofico o psicologico del termine. Semplicemente, un «orientamento sessuale» non si sceglie, esso si impone perchè la sua origine è incosciente. Detto altrimenti nel momento in cui l’«orientamento sessuale» viene cercato come fine a se stesso, indipendentemente dall’identità sessuale, esso è sintomo di un problema psichico».

Si parla molto di matrimonio in crisi. Oggi la maggior parte delle persone di fronte ad una crisi di coppia pensa al modo indolore per separarsi o divorziare invece di interrogarsi sul modo giusto per affrontare le difficoltà e superarle, perchè?

«Molti, soprattutto fra i più giovani, non sanno fare coppia. Sono in grado di provarci, di avere esperienze sentimentali precarie, avere avventure sessuali, ma non sempre sanno come portare avanti una relazione. L’erotizzazione rapida dei rapporti costituisce spesso un serio handicap per avere une visione globale della propria persona, dell’altro e dell’avvenire. Di fronte a numerosi fallimenti, la tendenza è quella di smettere di credere all’amore anche se, in realtà, molti non l’hanno mai vissuto. Hanno vissuto esperienze sentimentali e sessuali, ma un esperienza dell’amore implica caratteristiche particolari e differenti.

Questo è così vero che la generazione attuale non è in grado di affrontare le crisi, i conflitti e le incomprensioni relazionali, la maggior parte delle volte i giovani non sanno scegliere il partner e dunque la relazione non dura. Anche la convivenza, simbolo apparente di una relazione adulta, si gioca in terreno equivoco: siamo insieme ma senza impegnarsi. Le relazioni dunque restano superficiali e si organizzano principalmente attorno alla vita domestica e all’impiego del tempo senza progetti a lungo termine, per questo può finire in qualunque momento.

Una volta sposati sono in molti a incontrare le stesse difficoltà perchè la cultura non ci insegna a fare coppia tra uomo e donna, essa ci propone piuttosto come riferimento il modello di coppia adolescente in cui rapidamente si arriva al punto di lasciarsi, senza riflettere, ecco perchè spesso ho parlato di società adolescentrica. Il divorzio è un autentico flagello che crea insicurezza nella società, che si infantilizza sempre di più. Agevolandolo, la società perde il senso del fidanzamento, dell’affrontare le tappe della vita di coppia e dell’affrontare e risolvere le crisi. Non è che un modo di prolungare l’infanzia, in cui gli adulti sembrano compiacenti perché essi stessi non sembrano in grado di diventare maturi».

Quali sono le condizioni per una relazione autentica e duratura ?

«Una relazione autentica implica che l’uomo e la donna abbiano riflettuto e siano preparati a vivere all’interno di un quadro sociale di grandi contraddizioni. I giovani s’abituano a vivere da soli, organizzano la loro vita affettiva nell’autosufficienza della psicologia del celibato, e poi sperimentano la difficoltà di fare posto all’altro, vanno supportati. Ultimamente ha preso piede una moda che vuole che le giovani spose, una volta la settimana, escano tra amiche come ai bei tempi dell’adolescenza, ma questa abitudine certamente non favorisce lo sviluppo della coppia.

Il discorso sociale che confonde il maschile e il femminile fa in modo che l’uomo e la donna non sappiano tener conto della psicologia differente del coniuge. I due proiettano semplicemente sull’altro le proprie categorie e i propri modelli di pensiero. L’uomo immagina che la donna funzioni psicologicamente come lui e viceversa, questo è l’origine di tutti i malintesi.

Affinchè il matrimonio duri, sono necessarie alcune condizioni psicologiche e spirituali: bisogna avere il desiderio di impegnarsi in un progetto comune, in funzione di questo impegno liberamente assunto verranno trattati i problemi relazionali. Il mito della trasparenza in cui ci si dice tutto è un’illusione, una falsa verità, non si tratta di mentire o ingannare l’altro, ma di mantenere la distanza necessaria per favorire una relazione in autentica verità. Inoltre il senso della fedeltà è un’altra componente indispensabile nel matrimonio, perchè niente di duraturo può vedere l’atto sessuale dissociato dall’impegno amoroso.

Infine, in una prospettiva cristiana, la relazione coniugale radicata nell’amore è più strutturata rispetto a quella che si basa unicamente sui sentimenti o sull’attrazione sessuale dal momento che essa si deve nutrire nell’amore per rinforzare la relazione. La fonte dell’amore è in Dio che ne fa una ricchezza inesauribile per chi si impegna in nome Suo. Le coppie formate da un uomo e una donna sono l’avvenire della società».

Healthcare, Conscience, and Religious Liberty: A Response to Linda Greenhouse - by Helen Alvaré

New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse refuses to see the truth about contraception, conscience, and religious liberty.

by Helen Alvaré

In The Public Discourse

I wouldn’t be the first to question the judgment of New York Times’ former Supreme Court reporter, Linda Greenhouse. That’s already been done by National Public Radio, the New York Times’ public editor Byron Calame, and a member of the executive committee of the Pulitzer Prize Board, on account of Ms. Greenhouse’s penchant for bouts of very public, very raw, and quite emotional political partisanship, even while she was a “hard news” reporter for the Times. Now, as an “opinionator,” she’s grown worse.

But in my capacity as Chair of the Task Force on Conscience Protection at the Witherspoon Institute, I will join the chorus.

In a piece for the October 5 New York Times Opinionator titled “Refused and Confused,” Ms. Greenhouse attacked the Witherspoon Institute’s Task Force on Conscience Protection for its recent statement against narrow religious exemption clause of a mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The mandate requires nearly all health insurance plans not only to cover contraceptives, sterilization, and some drugs acting as early abortifacients, but also to do so without any co-pays.

Greenhouse’s framework is illuminating: She conceives of healthcare as, first and foremost, the purview of government. Healthcare dispensers, therefore, are all “public health workers,” who really have no choice but to do what the state commands. Analogizing all medical providers to state officials, she approvingly quotes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dismissive response to a state clerk who conscientiously objected to facilitating same-sex marriage: “When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose.” This should frighten not only all healthcare providers and institutions founded upon or guided by religious or ethical principles, but also every citizen who wishes to find a doctor or institution that is motivated first and foremost by respect for all human life, to provide his or her personal healthcare.

In her haste to condemn those who would threaten her view of progress (which most certainly encompasses what she calls the “sexual revolution”), Ms. Greenhouse also gets a few things wrong. Some of her factual errors are small, like the name of the group hired to “advise” HHS about the contents of “preventive services” for women; but some of her errors touch on crucial matters, like the number of states with similarly narrow conscience clauses. As to the latter, Greenhouse opines that “the administration’s rule simply mirrors the policies of many states, and represents no significant departure.” The truth, however, is that only three states, California, New York, and Oregon, have drafted religious exemptions similar to the HHS exemption, so as to exclude the maximum number of religious institutions from conscience protection. Indeed, no state’s contraceptive mandate is as sweeping as the proposed HHS rule, because none applies to all plans and includes both so-called “emergency contraceptives” and sterilization. (A memorandum from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ General Counsel to HHS revealingly details the law of each and every state on this subject.)

Ms. Greenhouse also refuses to admit that drugs marketed as “morning-after pills” or “emergency contraception” can act to destroy fully formed human embryos, and are thus more truthfully called “abortifacients.” According to FDA-approved label for one such drug called ella, not only is “use of ella … contraindicated during an existing or suspected pregnancy,” but while the “likely primary mechanism of action … is … inhibition or delay of ovulation … alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy.” In lay terminology, ella may prevent the union of sperm and egg, but it may also render the lining of a woman’s womb hostile to the implantation and nurturing of the now-formed human embryo.

At the very least, reasonable feminists ought to find themselves in agreement with Germaine Greer, who opined in her book The Whole Woman:

These days, contraception is abortion, because the third-generation Pills cannot be shown to prevent sperm fertilising an ovum. …. Whether you feel that the creation and wastage of so many embryos is an important issue or not, you must see that the cynical deception of millions of women by selling abortifacients as if they were contraceptives is incompatible with the respect due to women as human beings.

Ms. Greenhouse’s opinion that emergency contraception does not pose any threat to developing embryonic humans is not based in fact and, as Greer’s position illuminates, does a disservice to women.

Ms. Greenhouse saved her most withering critique for the Witherspoon Institute’s Task Force, which dared to question the wisdom of the federal government’s stepped-up birth-control campaign. Ms. Greenhouse writes:

The Witherspoon Institute, a conservative research organization that has assumed a leading role on the intellectual religious right from its base in Princeton, N.J., has numerous objections to what it calls “the radical nature of this looming invasion of religion liberty.”

… The deeper objection emerges from the final paragraph of the Witherspoon task force’s four-page statement: the real problem turns out to be “an irrational commitment to unrestrained sexual expression,” a “new federal orthodoxy concerning human sexuality.” In other words, an objection to birth control as affirmative federal policy. In the year 2011, with half of all pregnancies unintended and with countless tears, both crocodile and sincere, shed over the fact that nearly half of those end in abortion, we are still, amazingly, re-fighting not only the birth control wars but the sexual revolution itself. The social revolution that brought same-sex marriage to New York seems a brushfire by comparison.

Needless to say, the Witherspoon Institute is happy to accept Greenhouse’s compliments about our “leading role” and “intellectual” character. We would, however, have to decline political labels, as our scholars come from a variety of political backgrounds, and devote themselves strictly to exploring the moral foundations of free and democratic societies, and to seeking solutions to contemporary problems through a variety of research and educational ventures. We pay a great deal of attention to data and reasoned argument, and not to political positions.

The data relevant to the relationship between the federal government’s birth control programs and rates of nonmarital births are straightforward: Since the federal government began its aggressive campaign to provide free or low-cost birth control to millions of Americans in 1970 (with the “National Family Planning Program,” known as Title X of the Public Health Service Act), rates of nonmarital births have grown, not declined. In 1970, the number of unmarried births per 1000 women of childbearing age was 26; in 1980, it was 29; in 1990, it was 44; in 2005, 47; and in 2008, 52.5.

The Department of Health and Human Services summarized the data between 1960 and 2000 as follows: “Nonmarital births as a percent of all births have increased among teens of all ages and across all racial and ethnic groups since 1960. … and among women of all ages.” Rates were 5.3% in 1960, 11% in 1970, 18% in 1980, 28% in 1990, and 33% in 1999. Today, nonmarital births are at an all-time historic high of 41%. These rates persist, while the availability of birth control has expanded exponentially among women of reproductive age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, for example, as of 2004, 89% of sexually active women of reproductive age who are “at risk” of becoming pregnant use contraception, and 98% have used it in their lifetime.

It is tempting to sympathize with those who assumed that birth control adopted as a massive government policy would work in the same way as an individual decision to use birth control—to prevent pregnancy. It is even possible that those taking this view genuinely hoped to lower our nation’s high abortion rates. In the end, however, such a view relied on the false presumption that if you “take the baby out of sex,” you don’t change the incentives in the sex and mating markets. Of course these change. The leading economics paper on the subject, authored by Nobel Prize-winning economist George Ackerlof, with Janet Yellen and Michael Katz, concludes:

In the old world, before the sexual revolution, women were less free to choose, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare, an expectation that was more often fulfilled than breached. Nowadays women are freer to choose, but men are affording themselves the comparable option. In the model we present, the man reasons: “If she is not willing to obtain an abortion or use contraception, why should I sacrifice myself to get married?” This model accurately predicts a decline in shotgun marriage: with abortion readily available, many relationships that previously ended in shotgun marriages now end in abortion. When, instead, the woman carries the baby to term, the man can also rationalize remaining single. The model also realistically predicts a decline in the fertility rate (see Wilson and Neckerman [1986]) and an increase in the out-of-wedlock birthrate.

Greenhouse need not fear that the Witherspoon Institute, or others who question further government emphasis on birth control, are seeking to turn back the clock on women’s marvelous progress over the last half-century. This is emphatically not the case. But as for highlighting the faulty premises and poor outcomes of “birth control as preventive medicine”—let the dialogue begin. Whatever the founders of this policy first believed or hoped for, it is time to look at the evidence. A new approach is needed, not a doubling down on failure under the guise of “preventive medicine.”