US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Nuns on the pill! And other ways to get people to notice your research

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Well, if you want people to set aside the latest Hollywood divorce coverage for your research on cancer risks for women who have never have children, you should say this at your press conference; Nuns are paying "a terrible price for their chastity."

So said Australian researchers Kara Britt and Robert Short of their investigation into the health of religious women (sisters and nuns), further arguing that religious women "should be free to use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity [never having children]." (As if they aren't already.) That goes for the other women who haven't had children, too, I presume, but the headline "Aussie researchers encourage pill for non-childbearing women" lacks the pizzazz of "Nuns should be on the pill!" Titter, titter--nuns and anything having remotely to do with sex! Tee hee.

Headline writers assume such an idea would be controversial among Catholics, though it shouldn't be because church teaching permits hormone therapy (which is what the pill is) for purposes other than contraception. But the researchers even presume that sisters aren't "free" to take the pill for that purpose, as if they aren't already free to modern medicine where it is available. Or as if women religious are the church's chattel, instead of the church's smartest, savviest, and most broadly educated group of people.

Thankfully, CNN's coverage includes comments from a sister who is also an oncologist, who speaks as a physician about the pros and cons of widespread hormone therapy for religious women. (Surprise! These women have already been thinking about this.)

Should sisters be taking the pill? Of course, if in consultation with their physicians they determine it is best for their health. Should be make a big deal about it--since, you know, anything joining the word "nun" to anything remotely related to sex is so scandalous and shocking (???)? Spare me.