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Response to ‘(Re)production’

| Friday, April 25, 2014

I am writing in response to Professor Botting’s letter “(Re)production is not ‘success.’”

I would like to begin by thanking Professor Botting for her engagement with the important ideas discussed at the panel. That being said, I am concerned her absence from the actual event seems to have contributed to a significant misunderstanding of my argument. The Observer article paraphrased me as saying “a woman’s true success is not achieved until her fertility is embraced,” and it is this statement upon which Professor Botting’s passionate letter is based.

I did not make this statement, and I do not agree with it. The Observer correctly quoted me as saying, “the Catholic perspective fully embraces and integrates all aspects of a woman’s personhood.” Clearly, I strongly agree with Professor Botting that women should not be defined in terms of their reproductive capabilities. To reduce a woman to her reproductive capacity would be to ignore the intrinsic dignity of each woman, a dignity that is not dependent upon whether or not she can conceive.

Rather, my point is that by presenting contraception as essential to women’s equality and success, the HHS Mandate sends the message that a woman’s opportunity for success or equality is dependent upon suppressing her fertility. I believe this undermines the movement for equality among women and men, by requiring women to leave their fertility at the door. The Catholic Church also rejects this single-sexed definition of success, instead fully embracing and integrating all aspects of woman, including her fertility.

To claim that contraception is key to women’s success is demeaning to all women. Women deserve better than this. Instead, we need to promote real resources to support women who are pregnant or parenting. Our efforts need to be focused on providing mandatory paid maternity leave, better prenatal care, better financial aid and medical care for women and children, and better, more affordable, childcare, which would support all women’s success in the workplace.

Finally, in the last paragraph of her viewpoint, Professor Botting seems to imply that the HHS mandate is necessary to provide women with contraception for non-contraceptive health reasons. As a matter of fact, Notre Dame ⎯ along with many of the other religious organizations that oppose the HHS Mandate ⎯ already provides contraception to women for non-contraceptive health reasons. However, anyone who did hear my full presentation will recall my personal story of finally finding real medical help through NaPro technology, after numerous doctors tried to merely “band-aid” my symptoms with contraception. I would love to share my story again, so Professor Botting and anyone else who is interested, please feel free to contact me.

Erin Stoyell-Mulholland
April 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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