A Catholic Group Distorts the Truth About Doctors Who Oppose Contraception

The harmful website 1Flesh, which argues against all use of contraception (like birth control pills and condoms), just posted a petition signed by several doctors who agree with this premise:

We, the undersigned, in our professional, medical opinion, hold that the promotion and widespread use of contraception has been an overall detriments [sic] to women’s health, and has failed to live up to its primary goal of reducing the rate of STDs and unintended pregnancies.

We therefore advocate the promotion and use of natural, effective methods of family planning with the capacity to reveal hormonal imbalances in a woman’s cycle as authentic medicine that finds the problem and fixes it, restoring the woman back to her natural cycle. We likewise advocate the practice of saving sexual activity for marriage as an effective method of avoiding STDs, and within this context, the practice of natural methods of family planning that empower couples with the ability to choose when they have children.

The idea here is: Look! Medical doctors agree with us! It’s not just the radical Catholics running this website who say so!

At first glance, their list actually looks impressive. Look how many doctors they found!

But this is completely misleading and it’s worth looking into why that is.

I figured it wouldn’t be hard to do a bit of research. Are these doctors really representative of the wider medical population or do they have some sort of bias? I started Googling and all I found were doctors whose primary objective is to promote the teachings of the Catholic Church, not doctors who follow the science where it leads.

Let’s start from the top of the list:

Dr. Clint Leonard:

Formed in the Catholic tradition, Dr. Leonard embraces a holistic view of the human person and takes a life-affirming approach to sexuality and fertility. He works closely with the Phoenix NFP Center and teachers and users of the symptothermal methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP). He teaches the Billings Ovulation Method of NFP in English and Spanish. He also completed training as a FertilityCare Medical Consultant with Dr. Thomas Hilgers and uses principles of NaProTechnology in his practice.

Dr. Robert C. Lawler (PDF):

It wasn’t until I started digging deeper into the faith and reading encyclicals, like “Humane Vitae” [“Of Human Life,” written by Pope Paul VI, who affirmed the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church regarding abortion, contraception, and other issues regarding human life], and trying to understand why the Church teaches what it teaches. This all started a change in me.

I just wanted to try to be a Roman Catholic doctor at work, not just a Roman Catholic at home. I wanted to be able to be authentically Catholic, and I’ve tried to incorporate my faith into my medicine. And that’s how I practice medicine today.

Dr. Lewis D. Lipscomb:

Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Lewis Lipscomb has felt called to make some substantial changes in how he practices medicine since his conversion to Catholicism in 2004.

Armed with his newfound faith, Lipscomb sought to practice medicine according to the Church’s comprehensive understanding of human sexuality, including “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s encyclical affirming the Church’s teaching on marital love, contraception and sterilization.

Following medical training from the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb., Lipscomb stopped prescribing artificial birth control last year, and now he’s taking it a step further this month by starting his own “pro-life” practice in Winston-Salem, specializing in Natural Family Planning for his patients.

Dr. Maciej Barczentewicz (PDF):

I certainly would not be a gynecologist if not for the graces I have received over the last 27 years from the Catholic Church, especially through the the Neocatechumenate Way guiding on the path of conversion, the path of faith.

I came across the concept of NaProTechnology — a modern gynaecological science which had adopted a different foundational value system than had been adopted by the mainstream — for the first time on the website of the Institute of Pope Paul VI in 2004.

Dr. Patrick Yeung Jr.:

Yeung is among a growing number of Catholic OB/GYNs in the St. Louis area who, while following the teachings of the Church, are using special techniques — both medicine and surgical — to get to the bottom of what’s causing a woman’s gynecologic issues, which commonly can include menstrual irregularities, pain issues and infertility.

He said it isn’t just that a treatment like the birth control pill goes against what the Church teaches about the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage — but it also just doesn’t make good medical sense, he said. It all falls in line with his belief that “good ethics is good medicine.”

Dr. Michael Robiolio (writing a guest column as a “Catholic physician”):

First, news, and even Catholic news, venues often refer to the Stupak amendment as something good in prohibiting funding of abortions except in limited circumstances. However, what is often not mentioned is that in those circumstances, which include rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s life, there is an innocent living infant fetus who is murdered.

Let me just be clear as a physician — there is never a need for an abortion even in these cases. Other medical means exist to help the mother as well as the infant fetus. There are two lives and two patients whose health must be balanced and neither one sacrificed.

I bring all this up to point out a simple fact: The medical world, by and large, has no problem with people using contraception or birth control. As long as you use it correctly, it’s not harmful, and for many women, the benefits of birth control go far beyond the issue of pregnancy.

Based on this list, it’s clear that the only people opposed to contraception are those whose first allegiance lies with the Catholic Church and its misguided views on human sexuality, not with their patients or with the science that goes against what their faith preaches.

It’s very similar to the way Intelligent Design proponents would broadcast lists of scientists who were in favor of ID. The National Center for Science Education countered them by having a much longer list of scientists who supported the theory of evolution — and those were just the scientists named Steve or Stephanie.

1Flesh and the methods they promote — NaProTechnology, the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System, “Natural family planning” — don’t have support from the broader medical/scientific community. They only have support from people who, as shown above, are already inclined to support the Catholic Church.

Of course, the 1Flesh people don’t use the words “Catholic,” “Church,” “religion,” “God,” etc. in their petition (and rarely on their website at all). That’s because they’re trying to trick you into thinking there’s nothing religious about any of this. They’re dishonest and they have no shame. For them, the ends justify the means no matter how many people they mislead along the way.

Their goal is to push their faith onto other people, even if the vast majority of scientists think their ideas are full of shit.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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