Question 142



This is the question Jenna Tosh asked the people of Orlando Florida as she assumed her new position as CEO of Planned Parenthood. "I mean we expected a fight over abortion, but we never expected this about birth control" said the new CEO. What is the big deal indeed?

First, it is always a big deal in America when the government tries to force people to violate their conscience, or religions to violate their own beliefs.

What’s the big deal?

Ask the late Charnette Messe who developed breast cancer in 2002 from early use of Depo Provera, the birth control pill and an abortion while still an adolescent. ( I am sure SHE would have thought this was a “big deal.” Charnette says that if she knew that these things could cause breast cancer years later, when she was married with children, she never would have chosen them in the first place. Unfortunately, she doesn't get another chance, and neither do her husband and children who now have no wife or mother.

But the issue of properly obtaining informed consent for medications like birth control (which means doctors fulfill their duty of telling patients all the risks and harms) is largely absent in current medical practice. And, that is why simply listing petitions from women who supposedly want their birth control is disingenuous. 

Ask the thousands of women each year who are harmed by birth control and abortion. Ask all the women who discontinue using the Pill, or the 62% of women who are dissatisfied due to its side effects. You see, Jenna, we as doctors, do consider the birth control pill a “big deal,” even if you paraprofessionals at Planned Parenthood do not.

While there are some symptoms which can be alleviated by oral contraceptives, there are also less harmful treatments available. Just recently, a study indicated that using oral contraceptives for symptoms like dysmenorrhea (painful periods) could mask undiagnosed disease and lead to more serious problems for women later in life.

The overwhelming percentage of women use the artificial birth control pill to prevent birth of children. But once again, their providers do not even notify them of another healthy alternative, natural family planning, which has been shown in many medical studies to be efficacious and with NO harmful side effects. Why didn’t HHS include natural methods in the current mandate? 

Birth control has substantial costs as well, not only the doctors visits and drug costs, but a whole long list of ripple effects from its use. The cost of treating increased sexually transmitted diseases (from encouraged rampant early sexual activity outside the protection of marriage), breast and cervical cancers, cardiovascular complications (like leg clots, lung clots and strokes), and other problems (like liver tumors and osteoporosis) make birth control a "big deal".

What about the rising divorce rates and single parenthood? The saddest women I see in medical practice are single women, depressed and exhausted from trying to work and fulfill the role of mother and father. Children are neglected. Poverty and violence are increasing. The traditional family is becoming a thing of the past but don’t worry, women have their birth control and abortions and it's really NO Big Deal. 

We could continue because the list of harms from birth control go on at great length but you see Jenna, when something so bad has to be forced upon people it IS a Big Deal. A VERY Big Deal.

Catholics believe that the unitive and procreative ends of sexual intercourse should not be separated, and that to do so causes individual medical, spiritual and societal harms. And, the fact that the government doesn’t even mention options for women that are free, healthy and good for families, (such as Natural Family Planning) is the ultimate farce. That is the Biggest Deal of them all.

Dr. Rebecca Peck, MD, Family Physician, Marquette NFP Instructor Wife and Mother of 6 children