I am a living, breathing human being and the Catholic Church chose theoretical children over my life. When doctrine is placed before the needs of the flock, there is a fundamental flaw. And the Church seriously wonders why so many women get angered by their attitude. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools and colleges. I was married in the Church and my children have received all of their sacraments. My faith was a very important part of my life. But there came a time when I felt used and betrayed by those making the rules-so concerned where they with the arbitrary edicts and proclamations all somehow having to do with the female reproductive tract. There was to be no controlling fertility, except in natural ways-all sex acts have to be open to the creation of children. (You only have to bring up sex, and the men in the fancy dresses get all crazy.) I am confused by that one, because how about those couples who marry well past child-bearing years, or older couples who have no possibility of having a child?
I had always wanted a large family, but my body did not want to cooperate. Some background-in my first pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Preeclampsia occurs usually after the 20th week of pregnancy and can cause maternal and fetal death. The cure is delivery of the baby. I put on 80 pounds of water weight, my feet grew three sizes, and I resembled a beach ball. At 34 weeks, my blood pressure was 240/150 so I was induced and my son was born-thankfully healthy. I had gone through labor for 24 hours and ultimately needed a C-section-but the labor helped his lungs. The next day, I lost 70 pounds of water weight and my feet returned to their normal size. Luckily, I was only 23 years old at the time, so my health recovered fairly quickly. Three months later, I became pregnant again and once more developed preeclampsia. This time I went into early labor and also developed kidney failure. My second son was born at 34 weeks, with some breathing difficulties, but otherwise healthy. I once again took off the massive water weight pretty quickly, and my blood pressure returned to normal. The arrogance of youth made me feel invincible and I became pregnant five years later. I had switched obstetricians, as the one who delivered my sons had moved out of the area. This group of doctors was affiliated with a Catholic hospital. No problem there, I thought. I was somewhat healthy until about the fifth month and once again, I developed preeclampsia. I was being followed by a team of perinatologists from the teaching hospital in the city. I had a very unusual case, and was written as a case study in a text book. To develop preeclampsia each pregnancy was unusual, but it also meant that I was at risk if I became pregnant again. I spent three weeks in the hospital before my daughter was born, and also went into kidney failure. As any future pregnancies would put my life in danger I inquired about a tubal ligation. It cannot even be discussed while in this hospital, said my obstetrician. It is a Catholic Hospital and they do not allow any discussion of birth control, sterilization, or abortion. I said I was going to be having a C-section-all the necessary body parts would be accessible, and the procedure was to ensure my safety. He said he was sorry, but that was the Hospital’s policy- being a Catholic hospital and being pro-life. I laughed at the irony. My daughter was born at 36 weeks and healthy and I thank God for knowledgeable doctors and my childrens’ health. I was extremely lucky. Preeclempsia is the state before eclempsia-that is seizures, coma and possible cardiac arrest brought on by extreme hypertension and protein in the urine(an early sign of kidney failure). Eclempsia is responsible for approximately 20% of all deaths that occur in pregnant women. So both mother and child are at very high risk. I had been in a much more dangerous situation than I had ever realized.
Out of the hospital and in the obstetrician’s office, my obstetrician was quite emphatic that any future pregnancies would most likely leave my husband a widower and my children without a mother-this was discussed while my husband was in the office with me. It was when I went to nursing school that I realized how precarious my situation had truly been. Over time, my dismay grew to anger. My life really meant nothing to the Church. They pay lip service to saying they will allow abortions in cases to save the mother’s life, but I really doubt it. I have lived a situation where my life depended on not becoming pregnant again, and they wouldn’t even allow a discussion of a tubal liagation to occur. Some people would say, get the tubal ligation as an outpatient. My obstetrician explained that it is painful and difficult, especially post-partum. They have to fill your already tender uterus full of air, and then do the procedure. This on someone who has had major abdominal surgery(my 3rd C-section).
So the Catholic Church wants to be exempt from providing birth control pills, sterilization, and abortion? The problem is, it is part of health care. As I stated, I was denied care, my life placed in danger because of their rules. How many other women have gone through similar situations? It is insane to tell a living, breathing human being that they cannot get a needed medical procedure because it might prevent a theoretical child from being conceived. That is a ridiculous argument, and the Church knows it. They will hide behind the cloak of freedom of religion, but it is really what it has always been about-controlling women. There is such a lack of trust of women by the men running the Church. Is it because we have a uterus? We were born that way. Is it jealousy? Uterine envy? A way to get into women’s bodies without touching them? If the Church is so pro-life, why were they not concerned about saving my life-a living, breathing woman? My worth to them was clearly spelled out, and I was found sorely lacking in my ability to further propagate. My disillusionment with religion, not God, was complete.