Thursday, August 21, 2008

Running to Do Evil

For several years now, my backpack has been something of a Linus-like security blanket; rare is the day I leave the house without it.

It's also become a repository of items various and sundry: a tin of Altoids, more pens than I could hope to use in ten years, a rosary, an 11-week fetal model, numerous bus schedules, pamphlets, brochures, etc.

Just recently I found therein a mailing we (or, rather, my beloved wife Jocelyn, as it was only addressed to her) received from Bayer Pharmaceuticals on May 15, 2007—it was an ad for the IUD Mirena, which touts itself as "birth control that helps simplify your life".

I remember the exact date we got the mailing because it was a mere nine days after our son Joe was born.

Opening up the mailing, there's a picture of a smiling thirtysomething woman, and these words:

Baby bottles. Diaper duty. Family. Finding time for yourself. There are enough things to think about with a new baby—birth control doesn't have to one of them. Enjoy more and worry less with Mirena® (levnorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system), an estrogen-free birth control that is effective in preventing pregnancy for up to 5 years or less if you choose.

My first thought upon was that this brilliantly conceived marketing campaign was a fantastic example of "Running to Do Evil"—a term I first came across in a fine article I read several years ago in New Oxford Review (when I still read New Oxford Review).

Think of how easy it would be for a woman who just experienced a particularly excruciating labor and delivery—but who otherwise may have never given a second thought to contracepting thereafter—to be persuaded to have an IUD inserted.

Enter Bayer, the billion-dollar corporation all-too-willing to provide "birth control that helps simplify your life".

Of course, that means you'll no longer be expressing complete and total self-donating mutual love in a way that uniquely allows a married couple to reflect the inner life of God; in fact, you'll be doing exactly the opposite.

But who cares? From Bayer's point of view, they're making money, so that's helping The Economy, and isn't that what capitalism's all about?

So I put the mailing in my backpack with the intention of calling Bayer to complain, but I never got around to it. When I found the mailing again just recently, I figured there wouldn't be much point in calling, largely because it'd probably take me forever to actually talk to a real, live human being, and even so, I'm not sure what I would have said.

Instead, yesterday, I sent them an e-mail filled out a contact form on their website. (I can't stand it when companies make you fill out a contact form instead of providing an actual e-mail address, but I digress.)

I kept it very simple and very brief:

Shortly after our last child was born, we received a mailing from your company advertising Mirena.

If my wife and I love each other, why would we ever want to use contraception?

I'd be amazed if I get a response, even one that's an obvious form letter.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]


sunnyday said...

Good move, John. A response from them would just be a bonus, methinks. But if the response would be more "marketing brochure material," I'd rather not receive a response.

Incidentally, PLEASE pray more for us here in the Philippines because the Reproductive Health Bill is gaining ground. It's up for plenary already in Congress though no schedule has been set. It reached plenary without following the legislative process at some point. Over at the Senate, moves for the equivalent of the bill have started, too. God help us!!

Deb said...

John, you raise an all to common issue. Women who have had a either/both a rather long pregnancy, traumatic birth and are just tired, being "encouraged" or rather forced to be sterilized or use contraception. You are right, companies, and doctors for that matter, prey on these women in a moment of weakness. Thank you for taking the time for writing the letter, perhaps it will do good. I've counseled too many women to truly did not choose to make the decision they did 5 minutes after birth.

MWhelehan said...

Interesting post, much food for thought, John.

My own sister-in-law just had her fourth via Cesarean and the doctor asked her several times if she wanted her tubes tied. I thought that was even more invasive than the surgery. But the explanation was, we've already got you open..."