If you suspect I have been enjoying the flap over health insurance covering or not covering contraception for employees of religious institutions, you suspect correctly.
How could I not enjoy it? The Catholic Church raising a ruckus over birth control, letting on that one of its key ethical principles is being undermined by government when, in fact, that ethical principle is already widely ignored and trampled upon by the faithful themselves.
Such a horror, Archbishop Timothy Dolan would have us believe — women who work for Catholic institutions like schools and hospitals will have ready access to birth control pills!
But what the dickens does he think is going on now?
According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a spin-off of Planned Parenthood, of the 43 million fertile, sexually active American women who do not want to become pregnant, 89 percent practice some form of birth control, and less than 1 percent of them practice the church-approved “periodic abstinence,” also known as Vatican roulette.
In other words, the church’s teaching is already a dead letter. Catholic women go to church, say the Rosary, then go home and take the pill. Of course. Otherwise you’d see Catholic families with 12 and 15 children, which you don’t. Not in the United States, and not even in Mexico, which is the most devout country I know. You used to, but not anymore.
Is that why the Catholic hierarchy is so tied in a knot over ready access to the pill? Maybe. For them it’s sort of like rubbing it in.
The church, let’s remember, has been down on birth control at least since the famous “Witch Bull” of 1484, when it accused witches of making men impotent and women unable to conceive, among other misdemeanors and felonies, and little has changed except that witches have been largely retired from the church’s cosmogony.
It is still a basic principle — sex is for procreation. So have ruled generations of priests who themselves are sworn not to try it lest, perhaps, they enjoy it.
Traditionally the fear has extended beyond the Catholic Church to puritans of all denominations. Remember the famous Connecticut law that forbade the sale of contraceptives even to married couples, a law that was overturned only in 1965. The idea was then, and still is among the uptight, that removing the risk of pregnancy from sexual activity will end in promiscuity, especially promiscuity on the part of women. There will be no controlling them.
Birth control leads to a “breakdown in sexual morality,” quoth Benedict XVI, in the great tradition. (I’d like to ask what he thinks mandatory celibacy leads to, but never mind. That one is too obvious to hammer.)
Anyway, time marches right along, but institutions that pretend to a direct link with the Almighty don’t necessarily march with it, so here we are, with Catholic laypeople happily living in the 21st century and their priests and pontiffs stubbornly in the 15th.
Naturally this produces some kerfuffles. We heathens might as well get out of them what enjoyment we can.
Amedore for Senate?
On the political front, I will be keeping my eye on the career trajectory of Assemblyman George Amedore of Rotterdam, who has created a committee to enable him to run for a seat in the state Senate, should a suitable district be created for him.
A suitable district certainly was created for him by the Legislature’s own Task Force on Gerrymandering and Protecting Existing Majorities (LTFGPEM, pronounced ltfgpem), but it now looks doubtful that it will survive.
The governor has declared his intention of vetoing the whole redistricting package, and we will have to see where the legal challenges end up.
Preliminary Senate District No. 46 includes Amedore’s hometown of Rotterdam and extends west through Montgomery County and south down through Ulster County and Kingston. It graciously leaves Sen. Hugh Farley be, Farley being a long-tenured Republican domiciled in Niskayuna.
The idea, of course, is to get another Republican into the Senate and tighten that party’s tenuous hold on the one hunk of state government that it controls. The Senate has 62 seats, of which the Republicans hold 32, and is adding one more, so you can see the importance of it for partisan purposes.
As a political handicapper I have long had confidence in Assemblyman Jim Tedisco eventually moving into the Senate, probably as a replacement for Farley, if Farley, who has been there for 36 years, ever retires.
“He deserves to stay as long as he wants and as long as his constituents want him,” Tedisco said. “If he leaves, I will certainly leave my options open,” which I take to mean that he will jump at the opportunity.
Thirty years of toiling in the minority of one house has got to create a desire to graduate to the majority of the other.
Tedisco did note that in the preliminary redistricting his Assembly district and Farley’s Senate district are nicely congruent, which would make it relatively easy for him to accomplish a transition.
Writing the other day about Charlton, I scrambled the name of the town supervisor. It’s Alan Grattidge, not “Gattridge,” as I knew perfectly well. I also passed along bum information about the collection of fire district taxes. That office is performed by the town, not the county.