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Contraception for the Mentally Handicapped?

My mind wandered to this question a couple nights ago when I couldn't sleep, and it's something I'd never considered before...

What do you think would be the Church's position on girls/women who have severe intellectual disabilities being placed on contraception?  When an individual has the mental age of a child, she cannot give consent to sexual activity, so would contraception be for her own protection in case she is taken advantage of?  (I learned in school that such assaults unfortunately probably happen more than is realized.)  Would it be sinful for a caregiver to place such a woman on contraception with only this intent?  Or does the role of hormonal contraceptives as potential abortifacients override the protective intent?
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1)

Re: Contraception for the Mentally Handicapped?

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    Jasmine&RajahJasmine&Rajah member
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    edited August 2012
    cfaszews25, that is actually not true.  (Other ladies here will explain this better than I can.)  There are probably very limited cases, but in some instances, hormonal birth control is a possibility for health reasons.  It's certainly not something to be taken lightly and I imagine that MANY other options have to be exhausted first.  (Unfortunately, you have a lot of doctors who just slap a BC prescription on as a "band-aid" when there is an underlying problem that could be resolved in other ways.)

    In regards to the original post, though, I have no idea what the answer is.  :-)  A priest well-versed in canon law and "sources of morality" (Article 4 of the Catechism) would have the answer.
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    i know of a person with down syndrome who had sex with a homeless person who took advantage of her.  she had no idea what was happening and apparently described the whole encounter to her mother.  they then made plans for her to have her tubes tied, knowing that this would never prevent rape or disease, but that hopefully she wouldnt get pregnant.

    i honestly dont know what the church's position is, but i hope i never have to face this question.
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    I strongly suspect that even in this case contraception would not be "ok." It would not be being used for a "health isssue." 
    Even in the cases of rape of a non-DS woman, the morning-after pill is still not licit according to the Church. I can't imagine that used regularly for a DS woman for the same purpose it would be. 
    Like Calypso, I hope I never have to face this question, and may God have mercy on those involved in the situations where it does.
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    I think this would be a very slippery slope.  A person with Down syndrome MIGHT be at a high risk of being taken advantage of, but that doesn't mean that person would be incapable of caring for a child that resulted from an assault.  It also doesn't mean a person with Down syndrome couldn't get married and start a family on his/her own.

    What I'm getting at is where would we draw the line?  I know there's a number of cases of women in permanent vegetative states turning up pregnant -- obviously those women cannot consent and are in no state to have a child.  I also know there are plenty of mental disabilities much more profound than Down syndrome, but I guess my concern would be that any kind of regulation that allowed sterilization or contraception for the mentally handicapped would be far too overreaching.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_contraception-for-the-mentally-handicapped?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:53108bf1-d609-41e2-a7ad-86284f92612fPost:89640466-d03d-4b5b-b68b-876399f1ceda">Re: Contraception for the Mentally Handicapped?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Contraception for the Mentally Handicapped? : [QUOTE ]cfaszews25, that is actually not true.  (Other ladies here will explain this better than I can.)  There are probably very limited cases, but in some instances, hormonal birth control is a possibility for health reasons.  It's certainly not something to be taken lightly and I imagine that MANY other options have to be exhausted first.  (Unfortunately, you have a lot of doctors who just slap a BC prescription on as a "band-aid" when there is an underlying problem that could be resolved in other ways.) In regards to the original post, though, I have no idea what the answer is.  :-)  A priest well-versed in canon law and "sources of morality" (Article 4 of the Catechism) would have the answer. Posted by Jasmine&Rajah[/QUOTE] Yeah, this I knew. But 'health reasons' isn't really the case here. The OP is talking about prescribing birth control to the mentally handicapped for the sole purpose of preventing pregnancy. That's different.
    Posted by cfaszews25[/QUOTE]
     
    So I thought this article was relevant to what you two were discussing  <a href="http://www.catholicsun.org/2012/07/17/infertility-how-napro-brings-hope-healing/" rel="nofollow">http://www.catholicsun.org/2012/07/17/infertility-how-napro-brings-hope-healing/</a>
     
    especially this part of the article:

    "But NaPro is not just highly successful in treating infertility, it also treats diseases like endometriosis, PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease), postpartum depression, PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) as well as correctable hormonal imbalances that cause symptoms like painful periods, acne, PMS and ovarian cysts. Currently, many of these are “treated” with a <a href="http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/ageing/cocs_hrt_statement.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><u><font color="#0066cc">Group One Carcinogen</font></u></a> we know as Combined Oral Contraceptive pills, or “The Pill.” While birth control may temporarily alleviate some of these symptoms, it does not treat any of these problems, does not identify the underlying source of the disorder, nor does it “regulate” a woman’s cycle. Rather, it highjacks ovarian function and the placebo or “sugar pills” at the end of the pill pack cause a sudden drop in progesterone levels, leading to a withdrawal bleed, not a true period.<strong> There is literally no gynecological problem that should be treated with birth control.</strong> There is always a better option with NaPro Technology, and there are four NaPro specialists in Arizona ready to help."

    I know this may or may not reflect actual church teachings, but I thought it would be an interesting tidbit.  :o)
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    Yeah, using contraception to regulate your births is always and intrinsically wrong.

    Using contraception for some other health benefit may be morally acceptable.

    The thing is, we are all at risk of being raped.  I know that the mentally handicapped are in a particularly vulnerable position, but my point is that it's not ok for anyone to use contraception "in case" they're raped.  Rape is an awful violation of the dignity of the human person, but to a smaller degree, so is contraception, so two wrongs don't make it a right.

    One of FI's aunts is mentally disabled and was raped.  She had a child, and the girl was raised by another aunt.  Is that a terrible situation? Yes.  But even terrible situations can bring beautiful results.  Children, even conceived in rape, are always a gift and can go on to lead happy lives.

    Of course, it's still a difficult situation for both the mentally handicapped person and their caretaker.  I can't pretend to know what it would be like to have a mentally handicapped loved one turn up raped and pregnant.  But my point is that the rape part is the most tragic part, and contraception can't prevent that.

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    Wow thanks for sharing monkeysip, it's definitely a new perspective to hear form someone who actually had this happen to someone they know.  I agree 100% Every child is a gift from God :o)
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    I work with kids with special needs and some our on BC to stop their period because they are unable to take care of it (tampons and pads) themselves.
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    I worked in the slums of DC when I majored in sociology in college.  This "application program" lasted three weeks. (I left after that)

    Special needs females were generally sterilized as close to puberty as they could determine.  Yes, the parents or guardians had to sign permission and I never saw an objection while I was there.  I assumed this was common
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_contraception-for-the-mentally-handicapped?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:53108bf1-d609-41e2-a7ad-86284f92612fPost:d0ddfe3f-37f2-4716-abc0-a1764fa2745c">Re: Contraception for the Mentally Handicapped?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I work with kids with special needs and some our on BC to stop their period because they are unable to take care of it (tampons and pads) themselves.
    Posted by pretzelgrrl[/QUOTE]

    Monkeysip.....I very much agree with the points you address.  Having said that, there is another health issue that many people outside the arena of special education might not consider. 

    Many young disabled women have sensory or mental health issues wherein a monthly period causes them to spiral out of control because of the sight or sensation of a period.  The issues involved/created by such a regularly occuring incident are too numerous and complicated to list.  And, in addition to personal religious conflicts, many parents face political (ACLU) interference when trying to alleviate such seeming torture for their child. 

    It can be a gut wrenching and heart breaking situation and decision for families. 
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