Forced Sterlization: A Solution to Health Care Problems?


#1

Dear gang:

I recently posted this on an email discussion list for a Constitutional Law class I am taking. The class, needless to say, is dominated by liberal Democrats, and we were debating (though I don’t quite know whether I can dignify it with that word) Michael Moore’s Sicko, and the problems with the American health care system; some in the class are calling for socialized medicine and universal health care.

The following was my response to a man who said that Republicans hate children:

No; it’s not that Republicans hate children . . .

The problem, rather, is those who can’t keep their damn legs closed, and expect the rest of the country to bear the brunt of the burden they have placed on society (and their children) by their own immoral, irresponsible sexual behavior.

The root to any health care crisis we have is moral at its root. Economic means cannot and will not resolve it; at most, it will be mere window dressing.

Unfortunately, it’s ultimately the child who suffers from the irresponsibilities of his parents; so, what are we to do? I do not believe that socialized medicine is the solution. The troubles with that solution have been meticulously documented. I’m not so sure what the answer is, but here’s what I think a “comprehensive solution” should entail:

  1. Make it a crime to have more than one child our of wedlock; as a punitive measure, any man or woman who has their second child out of wedlock must undergo compulsory sterilization. (Perhaps the wealthy can be given the option of paying a heft fine instead . . .)
  1. Castrate all rapists, and punitively sterilize repeat prison offenders who have shown by their criminal conduct that they cannot be trusted to handle the demands of parenthood.

[If any of the above manage to turn their lives around after their sterlization, and still wish to have children, they can adopt.]

  1. The government can provide various incentives (tax breaks, etc.) to doctors, nurses, and hospitals to provide pro bono medical work for those who would die without it.
  1. Exclude from any and all government aid those who are personally responsible for their sicknesses. Habitual smokers, for instance, should be automatically disqualified from receiving government aid for health care.
  1. Pass laws making which would beef-up compulsory education in medical ethics for those who would practice medicine in this country. Educate doctors on why they have a moral obligation not to turn away a patient who would die without their services. Students who will not conform with these ethical standards should be disqualified from practicing medicine.

Just for starters . . .

Yes, I realize the pros and cons to what I’ve written above, especially nos. 1 and 2, but I do believe these proposals need to at least be “brought to the table” and should be dialogued upon.

Let the mud-slinging begin . . . !

Thoughts?


#2

Try not to cuss in the 1st sentence.


#3

Sterilization is never an option. A Catholic should know this. And we don’t need to criminalize sin such as a child out of wedlock. While I don’t agree with the Democrats I also can’t go along with these proposals.


#4

For the record, I have no party affiliation.

And to my knowledge, the Church does not condemn the right of the state to sterilize criminals as a punitive measure.

There might be extrinsic reasons to oppose this, but there is no intrinsic evil to the state forcibly sterilizing a criminal.

Is there?

P.S. “Damn” is hardly a cuss word.


#5

Sterilization is a form of artificial birth control. How can the Church approve its use in these cases but not in regular marriages? It would contradict itself and it won’t do that. There are other methods.


#6

goofy:

The same way Catholic moral theology justifies the taking of a person’s freedom, and even their lives, if they commit a proportionally grace crime.

It would be wrong for a murderer to kill himself, but not a sin for the same murderer to submit to the death penalty lawfully meted out by the state.

If a state can take a man’s life, why can’t he take away his reproductive function?


#7

The Church has actually become more and more anti death penalty sayin in today’s society it is rarely necessary. And as I have stated you cannot make having children out of wedlock a crime. You can discourage it by cutting back welfare benefits for the poor who proceed to do such but I would never accept sterilization as an option in this case and I am pretty sure the Church wouldn’t either. Is it a sin? No doubt. But do we start criminalizing all sin. Certainly not.


#8

i would never live in a country that legally and forcefully sterilizes anyone!! Its bad enough that people can choose to kill their own babies. I found the whole article sickening!


#9

Clearly you are unaware of both Church teaching and American history.

Compulsory sterilization laws were in effect in this country in the early 20th century, and in many other countries of the world. Tens of thousands of people were forcibly sterilized against their will-- to our shame.

Thankfully, these laws have been deemed unconstitutional.

Additionally, Pope Pius XI condemned compulsory sterilization in 1933.

This is not soemthing a Catholic can be in favor of, endorse, or participate in.

I hope you will do some soul searching to determine why you would come up with such a repulsive idea and think it a moral good.


#10

I’m very amenable to #'s 3, 4, 5; however there are externalities associated with 4 & 5.

With #4, I wholeheartedly agree that health care should discriminate against people who are no doubt ruining their own health and our health care system. The health care system, particularly insurance, already discriminates against those with “pre-existing conditions.” However, it may be almost impossible for a health care practitioner to associate an aliment with a bad habit: smoking, drinking, etc… Furthermore, this system opens the door, wide open, to corruption; patients paying doctors to rule out their bad habit as a cause for their condition.

#5 is good in theory. However, medical ethics are not necessarily in line with moral Catholic teaching. Take the prescription of the pill for example. It is in direct opposition to Hippocrates’ oath; upon which all doctors are to obey. It states that doctors will do nothing that harms an individual. Birth control does just that: it renders something that is health (fertility) into something that is considered an aliment (infertility).

Furthermore, states such as Oregon allow euthanasia; ironically, meaning people-who would rather die-would live without a particular doctor’s services. Lastly, how would one overseeing a medical education be able to identify students who don’t conform to certain ethical standards? Most students intern in hospitals and are therefore under the jurisdiction of a hospital’s so called “ethics.” I believe only those doctors who practice privately could be discriminated against as not conforming, at which time it is too late to expel them from a program as they’ve already completed it.

Honestly, numbers 1 & 2 are very extreme, and are quite frightening to hear from someone who is Catholic. To be blunt: numbers 1 & 2 are an abomination to the sanctity and respect for human life. No human being, no matter how heinous a sin they commit, should undergo compulsory sterilization, which includes castration.

Not only is number one unfair, as you blatantly allow wealthy offenders to pay a fine instead, it would greatly increase the number of abortions, medically induced or otherwise. Under this rule people will not make haste to “correct” their mistake of having a child out of wedlock. You fail to address the real problems of children out of wedlock: fornication, adultery, and incest. A system that penalizes having children out of wedlock puts a band-aid over an open wound that desperately needs stitches. Instead of seeking out a moral idea of sexuality, people are going to develop and use more potent, and likely more harmful, forms of contraception and continue having unholy forms of sex.

I believe that many of the world’s problems can be fixed by restoring a sense of morality back into the minds of citizens. This problem, however, is not easily fixed in today’s fallen society. It is our duty, therefore, as Catholics to lead by example: showing our respect for human life and diligence to the teachings of our Universal Church. Please, next time a discussion like this ensues, remember that you are obligated as a Catholic to uphold the dignity of human life and authoritative teachings of the Church.


#11

Ditto for me too.


#12

From the Catechism:

Respect for bodily integrity

2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

(My emphasis)


#13

Vern Humphrey:

The section from the Catechism that you’ve quoted from reads:

Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law/

Criminals are not “innocent persons”, and hence do not fall under this ban.

As well, 1ke, Pope Pius XI did not condemn the compulsory sterlization of criminals.

No less an authority than the late Servant of God Fr. John Hardon concedes that compulsory sterilization of criminals is not intrinsically evil:

Heading the list of direct sterilizations is the punitive type, performed on persons convicted of certain crimes, notably sex offenses. The argument in favor of such sterilization argues from the grounds that, if the state has a right to inflict capital punishment, it may also inflict penalties that are less severe, like mutilating the procreative organs. Furthermore, it is argued that sterilization is truly punitive because it deprives the criminal of a real benefit, the integrity of his body and the power of having children.

But contrary reasons are more weighty. No doubt there is some punishment, but scarcely for the type of man (or woman) concerned in sex criminality. So far from restraining, sterilization actually gives the person freedom to indulge in sexual aberrations without the risk of inducing pregnancy or becoming pregnant. Criminologists concur with moralists on the inefficacy of sterilization as a legal penalty.

In theory, it is true, the state has a right to sterilize criminals, if such penalty were truly punitive. But in view of the encouragement this gives to sex offenders, the practice of punitive sterilization must be declared morally unjustified.

{Source}

Note the distinctions here; forced sterilization of criminals is not, in itself, contrary to the natural law. There may be extrinsic reasons why such may be not be moral, but this is ultimately left up to the prudential judgment of the legislator.

Also, it’s not true that “we cannot criminalize having children out of wedlock”. You most certainly can, and for the same reasons we can criminalize any other act. Premarital sex is itself contrary to the natural law, and has demonstrable debilitating effects on society as a whole, and children in particular. The state has a vested interest in both preserving the sanctity of life and in curbing reckless premarital sexual activity.

I should mody #1 to include anyone who incurs pregnancy, not merely has the child. Even if (God forbid!) we keep abortion legal, I think the state has moral justification for inflicting forced sterilization on a person who incurs/causes their second out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Allowing the wealthy to pay a fine in lieu of sterilization is simply their equipolent way of offsetting the burden they have placed on society by adding another child to it who will grow up without the benefits of the stable marital relationship.

I don’t see why this is unreasonable.


#14

Suffice it to say that I am well aware of our country’s sad history of compulsory sterilization.

What’s sad about it, however, is not the castration/sterlization of sex offenders, but rather the eugenics we performed on racial minorities (Native Americans, Blacks, etc.) who were guilty of no crime whatsoever.


#15

From the original post:

  1. Make it a crime to have more than one child our of wedlock; as a punitive measure, any man or woman who has their second child out of wedlock must undergo compulsory sterilization. (Perhaps the wealthy can be given the option of paying a heft fine instead . . .)
  1. Castrate all rapists, and punitively sterilize repeat prison offenders who have shown by their criminal conduct that they cannot be trusted to handle the demands of parenthood.

The bolded passages indicate forced sterilization for the purposes of birth control;

Criminalizing “any other act” is hardly in accord with the Catholic faith.

Shall we criminalize churches that oppose abortion, and castrate their priests and bishops?

Perhaps the state should stop subsidizing out-of-wedlock births, then.

Or maybe we should sterilize the Congress?:smiley:

And that would drive people in such a situation to seek abortions in order to hide the offense.

Hop up here on the table while I sharpen my pocket knife, and maybe you’ll see what the problem is.:stuck_out_tongue:


#16

What other sins would you like to start criminalizing? Maybe you can read my mind, tell when I’m lusting and lock me up for it. #1 and #2 are unacceptable as many have stated here. If a Pope has declared it so then a priest cannot suddenly justify it in some cases.


#17

Please, brothers in Christ; if you’re going to object to my hypotheticals (and keep in mind they are just hypothetical), you have to debate me on the level of reason and revelation, not blind, irrational emotion.

No one here has offered a single citation from the Magisterium, nor a single articulation of a natural law principle, which would preclude the State from sterilizing criminals as a lawful punishment for their crimes.

Now, some of you have offered extrinsic reasons as to why it might be imprudent to sterilize as I have suggested; and these are valid arguments.

Still, it does not make compulsory sterilization of criminals intrinsically immoral.

Careful distinctions to make . . .

As well, I think it should go without saying that the State cannot be expected to criminalize all vice. It just appears to me that conceiving children out of wedlock a) is something that can concretely be ascertained and punished, and b) would drastically reduce the poverty rate, as well as the harm these out-of-wedlock births do the economic and moral life of a nation.

When you see these single, trampy women on talk shows and other venues who have so many kids they can’t count, why shouldn’t they be punished for their reckless behavior by having their generative functions taken from them?

It just seems to me that there should be that men and women should be made to suffer some consequence (in this life) for their irresponsible behavior; such sexual immorality does not have merely “private” consequences, but visibly and directly disturbs the social order.

And that would drive people in such a situation to seek abortions in order to hide the offense.

I’ve thought of this; however, is this not the same argument pro-aborts use to argue that the state should not make abortion illegal to begin with, that women will have them anyway?

Under a system such as I propose, anhy doctor treating a single woman who is pregnant would have to enter her name into a national registry (the same way cops can pull up a record from your driver’s license when they pull over your car). When her second pregnancy is recorded, even if she aborted the first, she would be punished by loss of her generative function. This is not simply birth control; it is punishment for the deliberate misuse of one’s genitals.

There would, of course, be an exception in place for victims of rape.

All this having been said, I’m all in favor of alternate solutions which would be just as effective as what I propose here.


#18

So you penalize her ahead of time if she ever does get married and she winds up not being to conceive even within a marriage. If someone is repentant for their sins, which they can be at anytime, you don’t permanently punish them before they have that chance. No, birth control is still birth control and forbidden by the Church.:tsktsk:


#19

Except for violent offenses such as rape or incest or child molestation, sexual immorality should not be criminal. What would you suggest, sending anyone who masturbates to prison?


#20

Except for violent offenses such as rape or incest or child molestation, sexual immorality should not be criminal. What would you suggest, sending anyone who masturbates to prison?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.