NORMAN Rogers (CL 22/1/06) conveys a view about the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) commonly held by a significant proportion of Catholics.
It involves a denial of Church teachings pertaining to the “intrinsic evil” associated with its use (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2370), a belief that our Church and her teaching magisterium should refrain from preaching on such a private and personal matter, and a passive dismissal of the accumulating evidence linking the OCP with a growing list of diverse and significant medical complications.
This is an unpopular and emotional debate and there is a considerable representation that believes it is a debate that has been argued and won.
The significant rate of contraception utilisation among professed Catholics would certainly support this.
The magisterium’s instruction on contraception concurrently remains a source of frustration and confusion for many who asseverate their respect for the sanctity of human life, and presents an obstacle to Christian charity for those who are obedient to the Church and understand the gravity of the sin and its many consequences.
As a convert to the Catholic faith growing up in an agnostic household, I can distinctly recall the existence of a considerable period of doubt during my journey home to the Church before acquiring a more complete understanding of the paradoxically complex and yet simple teaching on contraception.
The erroneous notion of the primacy of conscience at the expense of correct formation postulated and disseminated by many in the Catholic community, both laity and clergy alike, was incontrovertibly an impediment to this realisation.
As a husband and father I experience first-hand the importance of a simple devotion and assured obedience to the Magisterium of the Church to the interpersonal dynamics of the family.
I take great comfort from the prayerful instructions available to me from our Holy Father and the teaching magisterium, who are often unfairly portrayed as being “out of touch”, without consideration of the indelible contribution of their own experiences of family life to the nurturing of their vocations to the service of God.
As a doctor I maintain a healthy scepticism of the medical fraternity that claim to be grounded in evidence but are curiously selective of the evidence they choose to expound depending on their motivations and personal beliefs and prejudices.
Consensus among experts in a particular field is an exception not the norm.
My greatest concern is the persistent demands made by the medical profession for continued self-regulation when issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life affect the entire community.
The possible complications of the OCP are significant as any perusal of the product information will confirm.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a representative body of the World Health Organisation, has recently confirmed the combined oestrogen-progesterone oral contraceptive as a “carcinogen to humans” (Lancet Oncology 2005; 6:552-553) – a fact conveniently dismissed as “an over-reaction” by many whose livelihoods depend on the continuation of its substantial prescribing rates.
I find it amusing but not surprising that research on the effects of the OCP on libido has achieved media coverage where many equally and more serious complications have failed.
I would like to conclude by sharing my deep concerns regarding the possibility of a future where doctors, contrary to their beliefs, are compelled by law to prescribe the OCP under threat of legal ramifications should they refuse.
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