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A woman’s dignity

Anne Reser | Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Christopher Damian, Andrew Lynch, and Samantha Stempky:

I’m sure that I speak for many of my fellow Catholic women in saying that I found your letter in The Observer to be both insulting and upsetting. I take very serious offense in being told that, by choosing to take birth control, I have somehow made myself less of a woman and have sacrificed my dignity.

It is very discouraging that there are still people who believe that a woman’s dignity is somehow tied to her ability and desire to produce children. Why shouldn’t my dignity be evaluated on my intelligence? On my determination and drive? On my kindness and loyalty? Who I am as a person is not in any way related to the reproductive state of my uterus.

I also take issue with how you described what I believe to be a responsible and healthy choice. As a law student, I am in no position to be raising a child and have chosen to save that responsibility until I will be able to provide (both emotionally and financially) for a family.

I have not “sterilized” myself, nor have I “[destroyed my] body’s power to bring forth life.” I have simply deferred the process until a time at which it would be responsible and healthy for all involved. This is an idea endorsed, I believe, in the Church’s teaching of Natural Family Planning.

The most disturbing part of your letter, however, was in the statement that, as a woman on birth control, I am “sexually available to any man.” This is insulting and more disturbing than I can even begin to express. I am “sexually available” to the man (or men) I choose. Period. The thought that “any man” now has access to my body simply because I am on birth control is dangerous, demeaning and incredibly infuriating.

My decision to take birth control has not made me “less,” it has not sterilized me and it certainly has not given control of my body to anyone but me.

On behalf of all Catholic women, I would urge you to remember that.

Anne Reser

Class of 2011

Charlottesville, VA

Feb. 2