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Childbirth, Abortion, Contraception and Violence on a Woman’s Body

August 8, AD2016

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I recently had my second baby and informed myself a lot more on natural labor and birth than the first time around. It was amazing to learn how the woman’s body works in labor and birth, especially the uterus. The woman’s uterus thins at the bottom, thickens at the top and pushes the baby out by itself. A woman can add to this strength toward the end, but it really isn’t necessary because the uterus can do this even if a woman is in a coma.

My neighbor told me her horrible birth story from 44 years ago in a hospital nearby where I live. After the nurse gave her an injection for pain, then decided hours later the baby wasn’t coming out and was in distress, they proceeded to “get the baby out”.

She said they pushed on her belly so much, even using their knees, that she was sore for a year. On the other end, it was common practice to stick their hands inside and pull the baby out. They broke her baby’s collar bone and were thankful it had been just that, because the nurse was afraid it had been his spine.

I was shocked to hear the violence exerted on the woman’s body. Pushing on the belly and even the pulling from down below was common practice here in Portugal and also in Brazil, where my husband was born and where my mother-in-law shares a similar birth story from.

This violence is even more invasive in my mind after reading about the incredible strength of the uterus and the work it does inside that we cannot see. It needs time to work and it needs the woman to be relaxed, with the hormone oxytocin pumping through her body. Fear and adrenaline slow down or even stop labor. It is not a coincidence that animals usually have their babies at night, in the dark, in quiet, protected places.

Childbirth

There is a movement of women wanting to have more natural childbirths, without epidurals and medical interventions. Homebirths and people other than doctors to assist births (doulas, midwives) are on the rise. These tendencies and the aspects they focus on, namely the body’s natural ability to birth a baby, bring to our attention the natural working of the body. There is a respect there for creation and the way things were created.

“My body knows what to do”, was one of the affirmations I wrote down for my “brain training” for birth. In this more physiological way of looking at labor and birth, science and technology are used to enhance or help the body’s natural functioning, but only when necessary. There is higher risk of hindering the body’s natural functioning, in many cases, when too much medical intervention is used.

Abortion

What could be more violent on a woman’s body (not to mention the baby’s body) than abortion? One of Mother Teresa’s quotes: “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other.”

This is not only a physical violence: the inserting of objects, the scraping, the chemicals. There is risk of uterine rupture in normal childbirth after abortion precisely because of this aggression on the uterus. However, this is an emotional violence, also.

The body is made, right from conception, to promote mother-baby bonding. To take a baby from a woman’s body, as if it were a foreign object, a cancer to be removed, is to seriously wound this natural bond. It is natural for the baby to be inside the mother and not for it to be scraped out.

Contraception

Contraception is a serious matter from various standpoints: moral, religious, etc. However, it is condemnable from the perspective of purely natural law.

No member of the faithful will deny that interpretation of natural moral law pertains to the Church’s magisterium. For, as many previous Popes have said, there is no doubt that when Jesus Christ made Peter and the other Apostles sharers of his divine authority and sent them to teach all nations his commandments, he constituted hem authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law – guardians, that is not only of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For natural law, too, declares God’s will, faithful submission to which is necessary for eternal salvation. (Humanae Vitae, 4)

Many non-religious people come to this conclusion also. Contraception harms your body. Its main purpose is to hinder a natural function. The most natural, amazing and precious function you have: your fertility.

As I said above with childbirth, there is a tendency to respect the body’s natural functions and only intervene medically and technologically when very, very necessary. Otherwise you are not only hindering the body’s natural and amazing way of working, but you might harm it.

The woman’s body is not made to be able to get pregnant at any given time. It has cycles that are built into it. So it makes sense from a natural viewpoint to understand those cycles and that inner working better. To work with it, to enhance it, to understand it. Not to negate it, cancel it out, violate it.

This is respect for a woman’s body and her fertility, the most precious gift she has. This does not even go into the moral consequences, the effects on the relationship between man and woman, etc.

Our body is not mere matter

Our body is not mere matter, to be manipulated to suit our every whim. This is true even at the most basic level: a woman’s natural ability to house and give birth to new life.

The woman is the “machine of life” I once heard a priest say, and the devil does everything he can to attack that. The fundamental cell of society is family and the very beginning, most intimate start to that is the mother-child relationship. The devil also does everything he can to sever that, beginning with the way we view and treat a woman’s body.

The woman’s body, in the way it regulates its fertility, grows a baby and even pushes it out, is a miracle. It is a natural human reaction to protect a pregnant woman more than any other by passer in the street. Perhaps even chivalry and opening doors for women is a natural human reaction.

What goes against all of nature’s design is the exposure and violence on a woman’s body, sometimes in medical environment and sometimes done to a woman by herself.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal to study theology. She now lives there, along with the rest of her family, her husband and her children. She believes the greatest things in life are small and hidden and that the extraordinary is in the ordinary. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

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