Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where do we go from here?

I read an article about the HHS mandate debate and about Catholic women and contraception that was just fantastic. It mentions lots of things that I think we need to be talking about, most importantly: Why aren't women using NFP and instead turning to artificial contraception?

We run this fine line of trying to tell people about the beautiful teaching of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and what blessings children are to a marriage and then screaming "BUT IT"S 99.6% EFFECTIVE AT PREVENTING PREGNANCIES JUST LIKE BIRTH CONTROL!!"

We're like crazy schizophrenics trying to compete with a contraceptive society. Natural Family Planning isn't hormonal birth control and if we try to advertise it like it is one of two things will happen:

1) We're going to lose the competition.
2) We're going to compromise our morals.

Birth control companies and Planned Parenthood are selling sex, which is one of the easiest things to sell. NFP is selling love and self sacrifice.


So my question to you is how to we find a happy medium? How do we sell our holy sex? Because the way we're doing it isn't working. I mean this is what comes up in a Google image search for Natural Family Planning:



And here's what comes up when you search Planned Parenthood:

Which one do you think is more appealing to your average woman looking to not get pregnant? I can tell you which one strikes my fancy. 

So here's our chance. The stage has been set and we have the perfect opportunity to show the world what exactly NFP is and why we use it.

So my question to you is what can we do? What would have made it more appealing to you? If you don't use NFP, what would make it more appealing? If you have an opinion on this please leave me a comment. I'm thinking about doing something to help advertise in a more modern way so any suggestions would be great. Thanks all!! :)

34 comments:

  1. As a woman who was once on the Pill to regulate my cycles, I received a lack of information from my ob-gyn. It was just a "pop this pill and everything is fine" scenario. My blood pressure shot up and I had heart palpitations.

    I think women are vastly uninformed about the side effects of the Pill and that is a strong, medical argument that can't be ignored. Instead of linking to a pro-life website that summarizes the studies, link to the study itself. Pro-choicers are skeptical of information that come from pro-life or conservative sites.

    I think another message that needs to be sent is that NFP is unadulterated love without barriers.

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  2. I loved that article, it is so spot on. Maybe it's a case of we need to focus on loving and respecting our bodies - not necessarily on how many babies a person can/not have? Kind of like the dove campaigns, where they have women of all shapes, sizes, races, and show how Dove loves them, works for them, and how the women love themselves. Self-knowledge through NFP is so empowering, but it feels kind of looked over.

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  3. I have this bookmarked to come back and read. We're heading out the door. I also have a post brewing on this topic.

    I wonder how many women simply haven't been invited to learn? I wonder how many women were told in high school that having sex one time at any point in your cycle results in pregnancy?

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    1. I also have a post brewing, though Kristan's comment above pops one of my arguments. :)

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    2. Well, Rebecca at The Road Home and I are working on a co-authored post now because I couldn't get my own organized. :) and we're gonna do a linkup! We are the 98% and we need to be loud and proud and invite others to join us! :)

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  4. Ahhh blogger is always eating my comments!

    I said something like:

    I think NFP needs to be fully covered in every diocese in the same way for every couple about to be married. Not just "here's a little info, you can contact us" but full on instruction.

    Before that though, we need to reach kids before they quit coming to faith formation after confirmation, so maybe the year before confirmation. They need to learn charting, the teaching, and how Catholics view our bodies, love, etc.

    I think a lot of people, myself included, used bcp because we didn't know anything behind the teaching. As soon as I learned, it was like a light bulb went off!

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    1. my mom said the same thing. It needs to be taught in with theology of the body or something to teens but she's like no parent is going to let it happen :( one guy on fb was even saying, "if you teach your daughter to chart that is like giving her permission to have sex." I don't believe that it's teaching them the TEACHINGS of the church.

      Until I started attending/reading all of these chasity/purity books I never really understood why we should wait until marriage for sex it was always just "the right/safe thing to do."

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    2. In the archdiocese of Denver, you are required to take an NFP class as part of marriage preparation. There are a few options regarding what method you want to use, but they are all full classes. I was shocked to find out that's not a requirement everywhere - Why the heck not?

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  5. Here is the problem: it's not just a contraceptive mentality. It's a no-responsibility, morally relative mentality.
    A friend and I went to see the Christine Gudorf/Janet Smith debate at CU. And it was great, except that she, a very liberal feminist (secular meaning) single woman couldn't get behind it. NFP ONLY works in our society if we can keep procreation as part of sex. The problem is we (as a society) have divorced procreation and sex entirely with the introduction of the Pill. So allllll those single ladies out there who take the pill won't switch over to NFP because then you run the risk of STD's, etc. You almost *have* to be married to truly use it (and of course we believe you do since sex is for marriage only). FAM is more in line in the sense that it allows for a barrier method when a woman is fertile, but I'm not particularly keen on promoting that.
    So the pill is the issue in that it started the mentality and the mentality has seeped so far in that there is really no way to "sell" NFP to the majority of women who are using the Pill today for whatever reasons they are using it for.

    I would say, the Green movement would be the best bet to make it modern. I actually saw an ad last night for the copper IUD that used the same thing. It had women "I prefer my chicken organic, and my contraception non-hormonal." If it works for an IUD, it should work for us, right?

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  6. The tape "Contraception: Why Not?" is excellent. I can't remember who the speaker is, but that's the tile, and it gives lots of good reasons why not.

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  7. What freaks me out about the IUD is that it can poke through your uterus. Who wants that? How can having a piece of metal in your body be natural?

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    1. the thought of the insertion process is enough to make me perpetually cross my legs.

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    2. OMG I KNOW! I was on a website where it had pictures of one (I had never seen a picture) and I was like ewww I'll deal with AF and cramps vs having that!

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  8. To be honest, I think I'm part of the problem. People don't believe me when I say that NFP works because I've been pregnant 5 times in 5 years. They don't care that when I got pregnant with Bennet I wasn't charting (and not as a result of prayer) and therefore not practicing NFP. We were just recklessly having sex. ;) James wasn't intended to happen but we were taking a risk and we knew it. (And we're more than pleased with everything that came out of it!)

    If a woman doesn't want a baby then she's not gonna feel the way we did when Bennet and James were concieved.

    And I'm amazed by how many women have the mentality of "if I can't/won't raise this child then no one will."

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  9. I read that article, too, and I SO agree. I think that the "marketing" needs to be completely revamped, and I think that many instructors out there need to be better trained. Some of my friends have had a lot of trouble with confusing cycles, and one in particular stumbled upon a fairly easy fix (vitamins supplements) entirely on her own, after getting no good advice from multiple instructors.
    I think it helps to get a variety of perspectives during NFP training. I never doubted we would use it, and my (non-Catholic) husband was always on board with my wishes, but I know he raised an eyebrow when our NFP instructors turned out to be a couple with 8 kids. I think it helps to hear the entire Theology of the Body message from folks in different stages of life -- singles, engaged, young couples with or without children, seasoned veterans with a few to many children. I think that sends a stronger message that this really does work for *everyone*.
    Total agreement with the "green" approach! It's crazy-popular among young people, and NFP is as green as it gets!

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  10. Don't forget us older women who are single. We have cycles too, and need to know if something goes wonky.

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  11. I think we need to start NFP support groups that meet monthly or quarterly in our parishes!! Part of the issue is ppl aren't taught about NFP until they are 20,25,30,35 way too late it needs to be taught earlier...and I think if we had groups that met more ppl would use it/know about it.

    Is that idea totally off the wall? lol

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  12. I have been trying to figure out how to "market" NFP to people as well! It does seem that in order to be completely on board with NFP (that does not involve using other barrier methods) you have to have some sort of religious faith that leads to make this sacrifice. My husband and I have been using NFP for a few years to postpone pregnancy as newly weds while I finished grad school and he finished his college degree. We have used NFP much longer to postpone pregnancy compared to the few other Catholic couples I know who use it. There have been times where I have questioned how long we have waited to have children, but we have had significant reasons for waiting and I feel more and more as though God is calling me to share my story - of using NFP for over 3 years to postpone pregnancy. Because I know my co-workers, friends, and classmates all assume we use birth control. This frustrates me and I wish I had found a way to share NFP with more people. I do share when I'm having a conversation with one other person and I feel like I can share in a way that won't make them uncomfortable. While I appreciate the pictures of NFP with a couple and their newborn baby I can see that this picture is about the sanctity of life, not about saying that you must have a certain number of children or that NFP equals having children constantly. I was excited to find this blog because as much as I enjoy reading the blogs of moms who practice NFP I definitely have felt alone in being a married Catholic who doesn't have children yet.
    While I would not promote charting+barrier methods for Catholics, sometimes I wonder if it is acceptable to at least begin to offer this as a healthier option for men and women who aren't sold on the self-sacrifice part (i.e. have no beliefs that cause them to feel compelled to practice self-discipline). After typing this...I feel like I would rather try to promote the self-discipline to anyone, even those with no faith. Why not try to make self-discipline trendy? People are so supportive of self-discipline in sports and their careers...why not try to share the benefits of self-discipline in relationships?
    I'm glad you wrote this post Katie, I think this is an important thing for those of us who practice NFP to think about!

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  13. I have to agree with Paige. NFP is not something we can really market to EVERYONE until we also find a way to market the idea that sex is not just for pleasure, and you should do it as often as possible with multiple partners. I think a good starting point is to market it to married couples - I think our generation especially has seen so many marriages fall apart that it's become so ingrained in us that contraception is the way to go and pre-marital sex is no big deal.

    I also think it comes down to having great pro-life, informed NFP doctors. This is where people like you Katie come in! Women trust their doctors with SO MUCH, yet our doctors aren't informed about all the HORRIBLE side effects of hormonal contraceptives. Even if we could find a way to educate doctors who prescribe the pill to tell women - OK, I can prescribe this if you want, but I want to inform you of these adverse side effects, etc. It doesn't have to just be OB-GYNs... my dermatologist saw me for 3 minutes and as ready to prescribe the pill to me for a pimple... not realizing that the awful-ness of the pill is way way way worse than a pimple. It was ridiculous. So I think that needs to change - we have to inform the doctors, because I think women especially tend to really trust what they say.

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  14. I don't think we can market NFP to women unless doctors are well informed about it. I can't count the number of times I've been told it's not a valid method by people in the medical field. If a woman hears about NFP and is interested so she asks her doctor, only to be told that it's not reliable, her interest with stop there, never to be explored again.

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    1. I agree. Doctors should also be well-informed so that they can better treat those of us who are already practicing NFP. I had a terrible experience this week at a pre-natal check-up with a doctor who didn't understand how NFP works (she thought the baby didn't look big enough to be 12 weeks, and when I told her I was certain because of my charts, she looked at me like I was crazy, asked if I only had intercourse during those three days, and made me have another ultrasound to date the pregnancy.) It ended up that the dating ultrasound said exactly the dates I had initially reported, but it resulted in two days of extreme stress for my husband and I during which we thought the baby was growing at the proper rate.

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  15. I propose we ORGANIZE!!!! we need to press our bishops and make nfp a requirement for engaged couples. we can't force anybody to practice nfp anymore than we can force anybody to pray the rosary, but we can alteast make them informed!!! I've heard some people complain that the training is confusing and inadequate, but i feel strongly that we have a very strong training program in the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. this is evident by the number of teachers that are constantly being added to the fold down here. my wife and I, and others here would be willing to do missionary work by traveling to other dioceses to promote the cause. -nfpjames

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  16. It's a requirement here in AZ to take NFP classes. I was so grateful of this requirement! Otherwise, I would have had no idea! I think we should focus on the homeopathic benefit of NFP. :) The homeopathic benefit is what sells NFP.

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  17. It is most certainly not a requirement here in Indianapolis where I got married, in fact it was barely mentioned in our marriage prep classes, although that's changing. The main reason that we use NFP is not because I think it's beautiful or wonderful, although I do, but because I want to follow the teachings of the church and I do not want to commit a mortal sin against God through my marriage. I want to live right and this gives us a great way to do it. So many people shy away from saying the truth, that using artificial contraception is a sin, and I don't know why. When people ask me why we don't use artificial contraception, or they say worse to me, I just say that "we're Catholic". And if someone says MORE to me, like that they are Catholic too, or whatever, I always say that I am Catholic AND I want to go to heaven with my husband.

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  18. We have been using NFP now for 15 years. I have three children, while we thought we might have wanted more, 4 or 5 children. But God's plans are different than ours. Perhaps because my husband and I came to NFP later in life, I was already 30 when started, or perhaps because of my husband's class schedule as a deacon, which seemed to fall during my fertile time each month for 8 years, I am blessed with three lovely children.

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  19. one thing that is upsetting to me about the articles written about the mandate controversy, is that they keep saying 90% + (or whatever) Catholic women use birth control. But they're surveying sexually active women.... I'm 40 years old and abstinent, have never used birth control and I haven't used NFP because I don't have a husband. Shouldn't an abstinent woman who would otherwise be sexually active (oh boy, would I ever) be included in those surveys? That's my birth control, which is actually a form of NFP.
    No one has ever asked me what I use for bc... not a survey... not even men I've dated who expected me to sleep with them (which I find astounding! you want to have sex with me but you don't even know if I'm on BC... how nice to assume!)
    I kind of want to be counted!

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  20. Ok. I am back. Here is what I keep coming back to as I think about "advertising" NFP: Most people (including most CAtholics) have been brainwashed to believe that if they have "unprotected" sex even ONCE in their cycle, they are going to get pregnant. I know I was told that in high school (and believed it). And so many people have bought into the lie that humans are just like animals when it comes to sex and they just HAVE to do it because it's their natural instincts. So...how do you reach people when the loud caucophony from the RIGHT-TO-SEX-ANYTIME-ANYWHERE-ALL-THE-TIME is banging in people's ears?!?

    Plus, you have so many people cohabiting. And all the premarital sex. It's so much more than just NFP. We need to reach people in their hearts and change what they believe they are worth, somehow. Women, young girls...need to know how special they are and that they need to respect themselves enough not to be used. and Men...need to understand that it's not "manly" to lay a bunch of girls as soon as they can.

    All in all, we need to help people to look at themselves and each other the way God looks at each of us and love ourselves and each other the way God loves. That's a tall order. I'm not saying it's can't be done. It's just gonna be hard.

    I mean, it's kind of hard to sell the whole, you're being used thing...to women who don't know anything BUT being used and have been told it means they are empowered.

    Okay, so I've written more than I probably should have in your combox!!! so sorry! But this has been on my mind for so long!!!! :)

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  21. First you have to decide what you are selling. If you are selling a form of birth control, no, you don't show pictures of babies, or have couples with five kids as teachers (maybe nfp works if you use it but obviously they couldn't stand to use it regularly--look how many kids they have). If you are selling a method of birth control you highlight the successful long term users (the ones with small families of course) and the fact that nfp empowers women, is economical and is green.

    However, is what you are selling a form of birth control, or is it a counter-cultural way of looking at family life? If you are selling a different way of looking at family life, then push that--and mention that NFP can be used if it is necessary to space kids. The trouble now is that folks come to the store looking for a birth control method and folks try to sell them a counter cultural lifestyle so they determine that the birth control doesn't work.

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  22. when we teach our nfp classes we never talk about nfp as a delay only practice, we speak about it in terms of postponing or achieving pregnancy. we never separate these two distinctions in our class. -nfpjames

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  23. I think NFP could sell sex.

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  24. Most people I know don't believe NFP works. They think of it as the rhythm method. NFP is difficult for newbies and very difficult postpartum. Getting pregnant when one is trying to avoid makes us feel very foolish and the butt of many jokes. I hope that we can turn this mentality around by speaking up.

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  25. If you are looking for a good way to "rebrand" NFP, look at what Billings LIFE is already doing in Australia.

    http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org

    And take a look at their "preventing pregnancy" brochure.

    http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org/download-document/ebook-preventing-pregnancy.html

    From the intro to the booklet:

    "Wanting to prevent pregnancy? Looking for a fresh approach to birth control?

    What if I told you that there was a way of preventing pregnancy that was as effective as the oral contraceptive pill, and more effective than IUDs, condoms and diaphragms.

    And what if I told you that this method was non-invasive, simple to use, economical, and device and drug-free?

    And what if I said that this method had been subjected to more scientific research than any other method of regulating fertility?

    Sounds good, right?

    Well, would you believe that I’m talking about the Billings Ovulation MethodTM?"

    All of these things are true about NFP (which Billings LIFE calls "fertility education"), yet many NFP promoters are hesitant to promote these advantages of NFP for fear that it is not Catholic enough. Yet truth is truth. Both the science and the theology can stand on their own. Furthermore, I think that overemphasis on the theology has put NFP into a "Catholic ghetto" in the United States leading non-Catholics/lax Catholics to think that "oh they would use birth control if only those mean celibate old men would let them". Besides, the abstinence is difficult enough that couples aren't likely to actually avoid pregnancy unless they do have a serious reason.

    Interestingly, the basics of the method are taught with free online materials. Too many NFP groups "hide the materials". (Creighton is notorious for this.) If you want more information, call for an appointment. It is like giving away the free app and selling the upgrade.

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