Women Deserve Better

Earlier this year, an uproar was sparked because a few Ottawa Doctors are refusing to prescribe contraception or refer for abortions,  and sterilizations. This choice to act in accordance with their conscience for the sake of each of their patients has steadily become a cause for concern with many canadian citizens. A letter provided to their patients read:

Dear Patient,

Please be advised that because of reasons of my own medical judgment as well as professional ethical concerns and religious values, I only provide one form of birth control, Natural Family Planning. In addition, I do not refer for vasectomies, abortions nor prescribe the morning after pill or any artificial contraception. If you are interested in the latter, please be aware that you may approach your own family doctor or request to be seen by another physician.

Some patients also come to a walk in clinic for prescriptions of narcotics. The distribution of those drugs is controlled. Narcotics have a high potential for side effects, including addiction and they should be prescribed by a regular physician who is able to follow you. It is your responsibility to ensure that this physician will be renewing your prescription on time as I won’t do so in a context of walk in clinic.

With deepest respect,

Edmond Kyrillos, B. Eng., MD, CCFP
Ottawa Ontario

As a result of this, there has been a pull from the Conscience Research Group to have the conscience rights reviewed and possibly changed within the Physicians Code of Ethics for the Canadian Medical Association. They note on their website home page that they are “investigating the permissibility of conscientious refusals by health care professionals to provide health care services such as abortions. Our particular concern is with refusals to provide reproductive health care services.”

It is an important thing to question what is motivating a doctor in how they follow their conscience. The removal of the right to follow their conscience, however, will be detrimental. You can see more on this in the first part of this series, “Doctor Dilemma“. In the letter provided to patients, the primary reasons motivating their decisions are due to their own medical judgment and professional and ethical concerns. The “religious” reasons are last in the list. It is listed last because, although it helps to motivate decision making, it is the morals and values surrounding human life, that are further informed by their faith, that motivate their decisions.

conscience rightsThese doctors know full well the terrible and masking effects of the pill, how abortion kills children, and how sterilizations for the reason of pregnancy prevention are detrimental to us and society at large. These doctors also know how well modern NFP (Natural Family Planning) benefits all aspects of life, including keeping marriages successful by promoting communication and respect of one another. I am a user of NFP which these good doctors advocate, and have experienced the wonderful effects of it in my own life. Modern NFP is a truly holistic concept. It helps to achieve and avoid pregnancy at a highly successful rate (a far greater rate than the Birth Control Pill), and in a manner that does not pose a threat to a newly conceived child. The method which I use for example is the Creighton Model Fertilitycare System, which can incorporate NaProTechnology. Creighton has a 99.5 % effectiveness rate with perfect use and 96.8% effectiveness rate with typical use. Even more importantly, however, is the fact that it actually helps to diagnose and treat medical issues, even before they can seriously progress.

The Creighton Method is only one of many effective NFP methods (which require total abstinence from sex during the fertile time to avoid pregnancy), but I will speak about this one in particular since I am a personal user of it. I should clarify that modern forms of NFP are not the Rhythm Method; that ancient form of NFP which was almost completely useless and had an extremely high failure rate).  It is also not FAM (Fertility Awareness Method, which rather than abstaining from sex during fertile periods, engages in it, while using “protection”). While the Rhythm Method is based on the assumption that every woman ovulates on day 14 of her cycle, other modern methods of NFP such as Creighton, help a woman to understand her personal cycle so she knows when she is ovulating, and thus how to avoid or achieve pregnancy. It is a personalized method geared to fit every woman and circumstance. This is achieved by tracking cycles. In the case of the Creighton Model, a woman “NaPro Tracks” her cycle, by documenting the observed cervical mucus or lack thereof. The benefit to using the Creighton method is that your tracked cycles are monitored by a qualified teacher, who can help interpret the chart and send the woman to a qualified NaPro trained doctor, should it be necessary. It is these doctors that assess these charts and can see from them the issue that a woman may be experiencing, and they can thereby help her.

I am one of those women. I was familiar with Creighton Model at the time of becoming pregnant with both of my children, though I was not actually using it. After experiencing my second miscarriage, and knowing that low progesterone (an important hormone needed  to achieve a successful pregnancy) was often a cause for miscarrying, I asked the OB/GYN who followed up with me after the second miscarriage about getting tested for it. She said it could not be done, that no one could check for that. Even though I knew she was wrong, I went and got a second opinion. While NaProTechnology considers every miscarriage a problem, most of our “professionals” do not consider it an issue until after a third miscarriage. What woman really has the heart to bear the loss of a child, and then another, and then another, before any typical doctor cares to help?

I was not willing to take this risk, so I went and received a referral to the nearest NaPro doctor. I had my first appointment this past July. He took one look at my chart, saying “I know what this is” and prescribed Metformin due to a “short luteal phase” during the time of post ovulation. Prior to taking this medication, I was experiencing a lot of PMS symptoms. I was extremely irritable and struggled with bouts of depression. I knew my period was coming because I could feel a noticeable change in myself. It was extremely difficult to deal with. With just one cycle (so far) on this new medication, I did not feel the way I did before. I know that my journey has only just begun, but there has already been so many great changes. I would not have known I was dealing with this had it not been for NaPro Tracking and the help of my NaPro doctor.

crmsWhat has sparked my interest in sharing this with you was a Facebook conversation my husband had online recently. In it, a friend spoke of her fertility issues and the need for artificial birth control to aid in its control. She felt it was necessary that doctors be forced to prescribe these “medical services”, particularly “the pill”, because women like herself “need it to get by”. While I am not denying that it may alleviate symptoms, the pill is not the answer. To help illustrate this point, I decided to reach out to some friends within groups that I am a part of who have had severe cases of Endometriosis and PCOS. These women came to know of their fertility issues by the symptoms and using NFP Tracking. These issues, once properly diagnosed, either required serious surgeries, other medical assistance, or both. Due to the highly successful rates of the surgeries done by the hands of specially skilled NaProTechnology doctors, these women have come back nearly pain free, and being able to successfully conceive and bring the child to term on their own.  I wish to share just a few amazing testimonies which they have given with their permission regarding how effective NaProTechnology really is:

“My story before NaPro includes seeing OB/GYN’s for years (20 to be exact) and being told several untruths:

“Being a woman sucks and you have to get used to that.”
“You obviously aren’t in enough pain that you’ll take the BCP – so I question how honest you’re being about your pain level.”

The most intervention I ever received before NaPro was an ultrasound where they told me everything looked “beautiful and perfect”…. only to find out later from NaPro that I had low estradiol, very low progesterone, an ovulation defect, a luteal phase defect, the endo on my uterine ligaments, lots of inflammation. I was puking about 2 weeks a month, and laboring and passing massive clots. I was not “beautiful” on the inside as they had suggested.

I had endo excision via robot assisted surgery in the end of May 2013. The endo removal almost completely removed the GI dysfunction I was having. My sharp pelvic pain went away. I no longer had stabbing pain running down my thighs either. The really acute pain around ovulation disappeared. And because of the surgery, my NaPro fellow found a uterine infection (via sHSG) and a fibroid. Additionally, my constant nausea disappeared. We found a thyroid disorder and treated it along with my sex hormones. The endo removal was like peeling back the first layer of the onion.

NaPro literally gave me back 2-3 weeks of my life every cycle. And for a long time I didn’t write about my journey because I thought others had it worse. I never knew I didn’t have to suffer like that. Or that suffering like that wasn’t normal. It was the failure of my doctors for so many years to ever make me think it was normal.”

Some other short but awesome testimonies:

“I would have one cycle a year if that. After the OWR (Ovarian Wedge Restriction surgery) I had regular cycles every month and I’ve been pregnant three times now (one miscarriage). My hormones are much more stable and my periods are not excruciating anymore”

Another woman had the same surgery and states:

“I had an OWR. It completely eliminated my insulin resistance and my cycles became really regular (I planned my wedding around them). When I wanted to conceive, I had no problem but needed progesterone support (1 miscarriage and currently 23 weeks.)”

This lady had not had a cycle on her own in years:

“I had an OWR. I hadn’t had a cycle on my own in years. 35 days exactly after my OWR, I had my first un-induced cycle. In the 4 months since my surgery, I’ve had four. Unheard of for me.”

The surgical techniques done for these women by Dr. Hilgers (one of the creators of NaProTechnology, the Creighton Method, and the aforementioned surgical techniques) and his few trained surgeons, are unlike any other. Due to the advanced methods which he pioneered to prevent scarring and adhesions, which result in a lower recurrence rate for endometriosis, these surgeries have allowed for better outcomes for both health and fertility. Who wouldn’t want that? These women will tell you firsthand that Dr. Hilgers and his team are simply the best.

These doctor’s, such as Dr. Edmond Kyrillos, who are refusing these so-called “medical treatments” such as contraception (whether for medical issues or avoidance of pregnancy), abortion, or sterilizations, are in actual fact, looking out for their best interests because they know that these antiquated forms of birth control are doing these women an injustice. Women deserve better, and women deserve real solutions to help them in their reproductive health. Just as we have the right to refuse receiving a treatment that a doctor recommends, life saving or not, they also should continue to have a right to refuse to prescribe, when they know the treatment is not in the best interest of the patient. We need to let doctors be doctors. Health care is not Burger King, and you can’t always have it your way. The customer is not always right in this case. We also need to hold our doctor’s to a higher standard of practicing medicine. St. John Paul II said “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” Taking away the conscience rights of our doctor’s will only serve to harm us and them. Though a patient may not always agree with the opinion of their doctor, they need to have the freedom to care for us to the best of their ability.

never-do-anything-against-conscience-even-if-the-state-demands-it-albert-einstein

 

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About orthojulie

I am a 26 year old wife and Catholic, who loves art, reading, doing housewifey things, and the outdoors (when the weather is nice). Though I make bad jokes, I can at least write decent posts for orthodoxcatholicism.com. Take a read and leave a comment!

Posted on August 15, 2014, in abortion, Catholic, contraception, Current Events, family, Love, marriage, miscarriage, morality, mother, NFP, Parenting, Politics, pro-life, sex, Sexuality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Julie,

    Thank you for the post. You bring up fair points about NaPro tech, however, you’re jumping around the core of the problem. Some doctors want to deny contraceptives for religious reasons – not due to medical reasons. That distinction has to be made. As a GP, part of the job description includes the prescription of contraceptives where it is best suited. For some, the reason may be for acne issues; for others, it is to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy.

    It is analogous to one voluntarily joining the US Marine Corps, training with the foreknowledge that part of the job is to shoot & kill designated targets, being sent overseas, and then saying “I cannot shoot & kill the enemy because it is against my religion.” That is fine, but when it comes down to it, that is part of the job description. Said marine is able to leave the profession, or transfer to another unit where they will not be under those requirements.

    Medical doctors shouldn’t be surprised that they will be requested to prescribe contraceptives- it is part of the job. If they don’t want to do that, they should train in an area where they do not need to prescribe the contraceptives. It is easier said than done to just “go to another doctor,” as a result of the huge shortage of doctors there are.

    Just a thought experiment: Imagine the majority of doctors were fundamentalist Jehovah Witnesses. According to their religion, they cannot purposefully inject anything into their blood stream (to do so would taint its purity). As a result, they would not give out vaccinations. If this law were in place, they would be able to reject others from good health.

    I’m an atheist, however I was raised as a Catholic – I understand where you’re coming from. I’m just saying the world is not black and white, as many religious folks would envision it to be. Besides, higher use of contraception results in decreased occurrences of abortions in a society. Who would want to fight against that?

    I hope to see some posts about atheism in the future; I would love to read them and correct any misconceptions that Christian fundamentalists may have.

    Take care,

    Phil.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your thoughts, Phil.

      You are right that there are doctors who want to deny birth control, sterilizations, and/or abortions for religious reasons, but the religious reasons are based on scientific fact that they harm human life and are therefore not ethical. I will note that regarding sterilizations, I am not speaking against hysterectomies, and the like, due to things like cancer (I have a family member who had to have this done for this reason, but this is a completely different issue). Doctors who deny sterilizations due to religious reasons, at least from the Catholic position, do it because they believe and understand, that sterilizations destroy the beautiful and natural gift we have been given by God in the ability to bring forth new life, and as such, is not ethical. This procedure also devalues human life. Doctors, when making their oath, in essence, swear to protect and help human life, and prescribing any three of these things, is in direct opposition to that.

      I can understand that doctors are expected to prescribe the necessary medical treatment, however there are other options for treating acne, etc. that will not pose a threat to human life.

      You do bring up a great question/thought experiment regarding Jehovah Witnesses. I am aware that they are allowed to take vaccinations (and thereby give them). However if they were unable to, I would say it would be wrong for them not to give them, since it is not a direct issue between life and death for a human person, as is sterilizations, abortions, and birth control. Vaccinations, though they are very helpful in warding off disease, does not directly kill a human life. Sterilization, except when done due to a legitimately diseased organ, is harming a perfectly fine organ. Birth control, in any form is meant to prevent life, and can also causes the death of newly conceived human beings.

      I totally agree with you that we should be working hard to decrease abortions, worldwide. The truth is that contraception in any form is not the answer – stats show that as their use has increased, so has abortions. The pill came out in Canada in 1960, and year over year abortions have increased. In 1970, 11,152 abortions were reported. In 1995, 106,658 abortions were reported. In 2004, 100,039 abortions were reported. It seems to me that the “family planning” methods being demanded by patients are not working as well as people think they are.

      I really, really appreciate you coming and visiting our blog. We will definitely be talking about atheism in the future, and would love to hear your input. It is apparent that you are willing to have a coherent, rational conversation, especially regarding topics like these, which is refreshing to us, who deal with alot of people who won’t and also rely on sentimentality. You mentioned that you are an atheist. I would encourage you to visit a really cool website of a friend of ours that I think might interest you, as you are someone who likes to discuss faith and hot button issues civilly and rationally. The website is strangenotions.com. I put a couple links below where I found the stats noted above.

      Have a great weekend! We hope to talk with you soon.

      http://www.inquisition.ca/en/philo/artic/breve_histoire.htm
      http://www.righttolife.to/key-life-issues/abortion/statistics/

  1. Pingback: The Parentless World | Team Orthodoxy

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