Dear Fr. Matthew,
As a recently baptized and confirmed Catholic
gynecologist, I am trying my best to change my
practice pattern as regards prescribing
contraception. I am not overt however, about my
conversion with my patients. They frequently ask
about birth control pills and refills, and although
I can talk a few of them out of using them, I cannot
convince all, and so I do end up prescribing and
refilling. I have talked about this to my priest and
he says that as long as I am trying my best, the
onus falls upon the patients, and I am not at fault,
if I have to prescribe to some. What do you think?
Is this a mortal sin? Again, please note that I try
very hard to give them the other side, the medical
side effects, the risks, alternatives such as nfp,
etc. But some patients insist on their birth
Thank you, "Rita"
Congratulations on your reception into the Catholic Church.
Your concern about dispensing birth control pills for the
purpose of contraception is commendable. The Holy Spirit
must be enlightening you and nudging you to break away from
The Church has consistently taught that contraception is
intrinsically evil. Even non-Catholics seem to know this.
That you instruct your patients not to engage is this
behavior is indeed remarkable, but you must go a step
further. Please do not concur in this evil by writing a
prescription for these pills, even though you personally
don't approve. If one should do this, moral theologians
would label it as formal, implicit, proximate cooperation.
Which, of course, is never permitted. So I think it
erroneous to say that the onus is only on the patient. In
this case it might be more on the doctor who should know
better. Would a court of law exonerate one who knowingly
writes a drug prescription for an addict? I don't think so.
He/She could be charged for enabling and accountable for any
possible injuries to the addict and others. It might even
mean the loss of a medical license and jail time!
A few other thoughts come to mind. Now that you are a
Catholic, think of the scandal you might be giving to your
peers, not to mention your patients. I believe this is the
time to tactfully inform the staff where you stand on this
matter. They will respect you for this even though they may
not agree with your decision. You've just been Confirmed.
Don't be afraid!!
It is important, also, to consider the possible
abortifacient consequences of the pill and the
responsibility of one who facilitates its use.
Dear Dr. Rita, many fine physicians have faced the same
realization as you have and have chosen the narrow path;
with God's help you will too. Should you wish, I could put
you in touch with them. They might prove to be a great
support for you at this time.
If you'd like to discuss these issues at greater length
please call me at 405-728-9644 or cell 405-823-2294. E-mail
is all right also: email@example.com.
Be assured of a daily remembrance at the Altar and in prayer
before the Divine Physician.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Daniel McCaffrey
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
PS You might want to read the "Humanae Vitae" by Pope Paul
VI. It converted Dr. Thomas Hilgers in Omaha. Paragraph 27
is addressed to doctors.
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