Sunday, July 13, 2008

Humanae Vitae 40 Years Later

by Matt and Mary Paquette, MDs

Mary and I just got back from Rome, where Mary spoke at the 27th annual meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals. It was an international meeting with at least eight countries represented. I could write several articles about the meeting, but will just try to hit the highlights.

First, it amazes me that a 1,230 page textbook can be written by applying the science to the observation of a woman’s cycle. The textbook is entitled The Medical and Surgical Practice of NaPro Technology. We all know these cycles can at times be complicated. But a 1,230 page textbook? Dr. Thomas Hilgers, founder of NaPro Technology, has a great deal that has yet to be published. Unfortunately his data, like the document Humanae Vitae, goes unread by most.

Second, NaPro Technology is not second-rate medicine. It is good medicine. In fact, Dr. Hilgers is more successful at treating almost any obstetrical or gynecological problem, e.g., his techniques are about twice as successful as IVF for fertility and almost 100% successful in treating post partum depression. It stands to reason that by cooperating with a woman’s body, results of therapy will be better.

Third, we heard a very moving testimony from J. Francis Cardinal Stafford. He was a priest when Humanae Vitae was released. Sadly then (1968), as now (2008), the critics of the document did not read it or they read it and came up with objections that were simply not true when the document is read honestly.

Fourth, we heard the Pope’s own moral theologian, Fr. Giertych (geer-tec). He emphasized the Holy Spirit as the Giver of Life. He also discussed how contraception changes our hearts, minds and bodies. Contraception expresses and propagates egoism (selfishness), distorts the nature of love (produces a caricature of love) and elevates pleasure to a supreme good. He and others stated clearly that the contraceptive culture and the culture of life were two different and irreconcilable views of reality and humanity.

Though Humanae Vitae is perhaps the most countercultural of all Church documents, it is easy to promote. Mary and I do not prescribe contraceptives or refer for sterilization (vasectomy or tubal ligation). This practice of medicine is in line with right reason at many levels.

If contraceptives were fail-safe or free from side effects, there wouldn’t be new ones coming out all the time. Sterilization can result in chronic pain where the tubes are cut and burned and tied. Further, all the things we are trying to prevent have increased with widespread contraceptive use. Sexually transmitted infections are up at least 300%, out of wedlock pregnancy up 500%, abortion has been legalized and is not rare, infertility is more prevalent, and those who use contraceptives feel less intimacy. Dr. Meg Meeker has a very informative book called EPIDEMIC: How Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids. She notes that prescribing contraceptives is like throwing gasoline on a fire.

One way to make this intuitive: contraception and sterilization are the only two times in medicine when someone comes in healthy (fertility is the natural, healthy state of reproductive age people) and comes out with a disease. Infertility is a disease. Infertility is an epidemic. Infertility is afflicting millions in the U.S. alone. It stands to reason that bad effects will occur when we create widespread disease.

Not contracepting or sterilizing is consistent with natural law (which can be known to anyone no matter their religious beliefs). For example, Gandhi said if contraception came to India it would bring “widespread evil.” Anyone of good will, who is truly open minded, sees the truth of the Church’s moral teachings.

God bless all of you, especially in this year of St. Paul which started June 28, 2008.

(The Paquettes practice at the AALFA Family Clinic in White Bear Lake and are members of the Church of St. Joseph in West Saint Paul. Source: )

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