“If We are Blessed with Children…”

Joy and Chris were married May 21, 2016. Joy is my daughter and both families were thrilled when Chris proposed. The ceremony was solemnly and beautifully performed at Immaculate Conception Church in Dardenne Prairie, Mo. where they will live. The wedding reception was great fun and went off without a hitch.

But one of the most moving times for me first came at Joy’s bridal shower. Chris was videotaped answering questions like “What do you like most about Joy?” for a bridal shower game played by the guests. Points were given for every right answer Chris and Joy predicted the other would say.

One question was “How many children do you want?” Chris answered “If we are blessed with children, we will take them one at a time.”

That answer caused a stir among the young women at the shower. One remarked that you could tell that Joy and Chris went to Natural Family Planning classes during the Pre-Cana preparation for their marriage.

Actually, they did and they learned about fertility awareness to naturally achieve or postpone pregnancy. Such classes are also available to people of any religion or none at all through groups like the Couple-to-Couple League. There are even fertility awareness methods to find the causes and treat infertility through Naprotechnology.

It is common today to hear newlywed couples talk about not necessarily having children at all or postponing off having children indefinitely for various reasons like finishing school, achieving financial stability or establishing careers. It is as if children are an just another option rather than a blessing.

With the myriad of glossy contraceptive commercials, free contraceptives under Obamacare promoted as “reproductive health” and sex ed courses in schools focused on how to avoid pregnancy and STDs, it is not surprising that many of today’s young adults also often view sex as recreation or “tryouts” rather than a physical/emotional union that can produce children.

Joy and Chris are also very health conscious. That is another big reason they were attracted to Natural Family Planning. They have seen the damage caused by abortion, the risks of hormonal contraception, single parents who are struggling,  and couples coping with infertility. They take marriage and childbearing seriously.

But best of all, they also see their adorable nieces and nephews and friends’ children growing up with loving, committed parents who are wonderful role models. This another reason they are excited by the prospect of parenthood.

Life is a challenge with many surprises and marriage requires a lot but I salute Joy and Chris for trying to make a great start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contraception and Informed Consent

My late grandmother always told me “Never discuss religion, politics or sex”. Contraception can touch on all three of these topics and birth control itself can usually be counted on to arouse strong and conflicting opinions in any group.

However, contraception is crucially also a medical issue. With a range of contraceptive options and so many contrary claims about benefits and risks, it is essential for everyone, especially women and girls, to know the facts when they have to make a decision.

As Dr. David J. Hilger writes in his December 2015 article titled “Contraception and Informed Consent-Women Need a Full Account of the Risks”, the first oral contraceptive was marketed in 1960 and

“Despite early indications of severe and sometimes life-threatening risks, oral contraceptives were quickly approved and widely accepted. It was not until after oral contraception was widely utilized that many of the medical risks were published. Information regarding risk continues to be discovered and is reported in the medical literature, but it is not widely publicized.”

What I appreciated about this article was that it contained not only the latest information on some of the medical risks of oral contraceptives but also the latest research in Natural Family Planning, a routinely overlooked topic even in a doctor’s office or clinic. It is essential for women to know all the options, risks and benefits when making a birth control decision to have truly informed consent.

MY JOURNEY

As a nurse, I thought I was well-informed about contraception when I started using the Pill in 1974. At that time, all I knew about side effects was the risk of weight gain which I experienced myself when I almost could not fit into my wedding dress! I stopped 18 months later when my husband, a doctor, read medical journal articles about the increased risks of blood clots with the Pill

I never used hormonal birth control again and I eventually learned and practiced Natural Family Planning which worked great for me in both conceiving and postponing pregnancy.

It was many years later when I discovered more information about contraceptives in medical journal articles about the possible post-fertilization (abortifacient) effects , increased risk of depression or, most ironically, increased risk of sexual dysfunction. For me, the knowledge of the possible abortifacient effect alone would have kept me from ever using hormonal contraception.

In recent years but rarely mentioned in the media, there has also been many  birth control lawsuits filed against a number of different kinds of birth control pills and devices.

CONCLUSION

My children and especially my daughters, gave me even more incentive to research the facts when their public schools gave sex education classes and I discovered glaring lapses and inaccuracies. For example, condoms were promoted as safe sex even though a Centers for Disease Control fact sheet admits that

However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD.”

Another example is that Natural Family Planning was ignored in favor of a negative depiction of the old “rhythm method”.

In the end, I believe that birth control is not a decision to be taken lightly and that women of all ages have the right to know the potential risks and options. I only wish I had known more myself in 1974.

Medical Professionals, Planned Parenthood and Fetal Tissue from Aborted Babies

On August 6, 2015, the Medscape website for medical professionals had an article: “Reader Poll: “Should Medical Societies Support Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood?” with 3 questions:

1. Do you agree that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive federal funds for non-abortion-related care?
2. Do you believe that these 18 medical societies were justified in stating their support for Planned Parenthood?
3. Do you believe that it is ethical for Planned Parenthood to donate aborted fetal tissue for use in medical research?

Not surprisingly, given how these questions are worded, a large majority voted yes.

The Medscape article referenced a letter to Congress dated 8/3/2015 by 18 medical societies supporting continued funding for Planned Parenthood.
However, when I accessed the letter, it surprisingly says nothing about fetal tissue research.

I am including the actual letter and its signers below.

I wonder if these groups’ members feel the same way. I checked on two groups and couldn’t find the letter on the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or Society’s for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s websites.

I would encourage members of these groups as well as other ethical doctors and nurses to contact to contact these organizations to encourage them to protest this position (and the use of aborted babies for fetal tissue research), especially since it appears that many medical professionals are unaware of the issues involved.

I have seen this before.

Even though the American Nurses Association did not sign this letter and a current search shows no position on Planned Parenthood or fetal tissue use on its website, I was a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) years ago and tried to work within that organization at a state level on several ethical issues. I read every issue of ANA’s Journal of Nursing, particularly the political section. When the ban on partial birth abortion came up in Congress, I read nothing about it in the Journal.

Awhile later, I was watching a political talk show and one of the panelists mentioned that the ANA was against the ban. That was news to me so I searched for the information on the internet. It took some time but I finally found the letter.

I tracked down the public relations director of the ANA and called her. At first, she said that she didn’t know what I was talking about but eventually found the information herself and seemed surprised.

I told her that I no longer could be a member of ANA not only because of its’ stance on partial birth abortion but also because of the secrecy. We members were not polled or even informed. I also told her that I would encourage other ANA members to also leave if the ANA did not change its position or inform its membership.

The PR person apologized. I gave her my phone number and encouraged her to have someone from the ANA contact me.

I never heard back from them.

We need accountability from our professional organizations, especially since these organizations claim to represent the interests of groups of medical professionals.

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In a letter dated August 3, a group of 18 medical societies, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, ask the Senate and House leadership to continue to allow Planned Parenthood to participate in federal health programs.

https://filemanager.capwiz.com/filemanager/file-mgr/acog/Provider_Ltr_in_Support_of_Planned_Parenthood_Funding_Updated.pdf

August 3, 2015

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
S-230, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner:

As organizations representing health care professionals and the people they serve across the country, we strongly oppose any effort to prevent Planned Parenthood health centers from participating in federal health programs, including Medicaid and the Title X family planning program. Any proposal to exclude Planned Parenthood from public health programs will severely curtail women’s access to essential health care services, including family planning, well-woman exams, breast and cervical cancers screenings, and HIV testing and counseling. At a time when we should be focused on improving the health of all people, it is frustrating to witness ongoing attempts to cut off access to life-saving preventive care.
Planned Parenthood health centers play a crucial role in improving the health and lives of people across the country. In fact, 2.7 million people rely on Planned Parenthood for health care. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their only source of care—offering basic preventive services that are fundamental to women’s health and well-being. Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide nearly 400,000 cervical cancer screenings and nearly 500,000 breast exams.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood provides over 2.1 million contraceptive services and nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. These services improve women’s health, prevent an estimated 516,000 unintended pregnancies, and decrease infant mortality.
Policies that would exclude Planned Parenthood from public health funding would hurt millions of women and undermine health care access in communities across the country. Approximately 60 percent of Planned Parenthood patients access care through Medicaid and Title X, in addition to those who rely on other essential programs, including maternal and child health programs and Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) breast and cervical cancer screening programs.

In some states, Planned Parenthood is the only provider participating in Title X, and more than 50 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in a medically underserved or health professional shortage area. Because federal law already requires health care providers to demonstrate that no federal funds are used for abortion, prohibitions on funding for preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers will only devastate access to these life-saving services.

Every day, we see the harmful impact that unequal access to health care has on women and communities across the country, and we therefore strongly support policies that improve access to affordable, quality health care. Policies that would deny Planned Parenthood public health funds only serve to cut millions off from critical preventive care, and we strongly oppose any effort to do so. Should you have any questions, please contact ACOG Government Affairs staff, Rachel Gandell at 202-863-2534 or rgandell@acog.org.

Sincerely,

American College of Nurse-Midwives
American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists
American Medical Women’s Association
American Medical Student Association
American Public Health Association
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Doctors for America
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Physicians Alliance
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
cc: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Here’s What Happened when Colorado Offered Free Birth Control

I came of age during the era of the Pill and the sexual revolution.

At first, we were told that this hormonal contraception would be the liberator of both married and unmarried women, freeing the unmarried from the stigma of unwed motherhood and freeing the married from the burden of too many children. We were told that the Pill was absolutely reliable and safe. All we had to do was take one pill every day until we wanted a baby.

Fast forward 40 years.

On July 6, 2015, Business Insider published the article Here’s What Happened when Colorado Offered Free Birth Control touting the success of newer, long-acting birth control methods that are implanted or inserted into women to prevent pregnancy even for years and are claimed to be more effective.

It turns out that the Pill was not so reliable. Note this quote from the article:

“According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 9% of women using the pill, patch, or ring for three years will get pregnant.” emphasis added)

But if you read the actual NEJM study, the study’s actual statistics for the Pill are even worse:
“Annual failure rates with typical use of oral contraceptive pills are estimated at 9% for the general population, 13% for teenagers, and 30% or higher for some high-risk subgroups>.” (emphasis added)

With these rates and school sex education programs promoting contraception, no wonder Planned Parenthood becomes a self-perpetuating abortion/contraception industry.

The article also states that:

“The emphasis on long-acting contraception, like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, is important because the devices are permanent and last for years”. (emphasis added)

Unmentioned is that the problems with the longer-acting contraceptives like the IUDs and implants, problems like cost and side effects such as pain, bleeding, etc. have led almost 1 out of 4 women to stop using them according to a 2013 Family Medicine article.

Also unmentioned is the potential for the longer-acting contraceptive to mask an infertility issue when such contraceptives are used for years.

But this might be the real rationale behind this article publicizing the need for funding of free long-acting contraception in Colorado (and possibly elsewhere):

Between 2009 and 2015, “teen births dropped 40 percent, abortions fell 35 percent and the state avoided more than $80 million in Medicaid costs” according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.

Years ago, I made sure my minor daughters were aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual problems with artificial contraception and sex outside of marriage. However, they were both pressured-without my knowledge-by doctors about using artificial contraceptives. One refused and is now glad she did but my other daughter gave in and went to Planned Parenthood. She subsequently became pregnant at age 18 and later had to have surgery for a HPV (Human Papillomavirus Virus) infection.

With supportive articles like the one here and the legal confidentiality requirement that excludes parents, are we running the risk that long-acting contraception might be imposed on our minor children in the future supposedly for their own good and the good of society?

Now I fear it might be inevitable.