Birth Control in the Doctor’s Office

In the “IT HAPPENED TO ME” section at XOJane, I recently saw a post by a woman who went to her doctor’s office for a new prescription of birth control.

She had went to the office and filled out all the paper work. When she was called up to the desk, she was handed a form letter that stated that the doctor on call would not write prescriptions for birth control or refer anyone for an abortion.

She had to go out of her way, although she admits not far, to find a doctor who would give her the prescription she wanted. She posted about all of this on Facebook. Her situation gained so much attention, her story ended up on the local news.

As a Catholic woman, I’m not sure where to begin with this story. The doctor had every right to deny her a prescription for birth control. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 1782:

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

Our conscience, well-formed, is to be our guide in everything. It seems that, at least in a few key areas, this doctor’s conscience is very well-formed.

However, as Ephesians 4:15 tells us, we are to “speak the truth in love.” Now, look at this letter:

It says:

Dear Patient,

Please be advised that because of reasons of my own medical judgment as well as professional ethical concerns and religious values, I only provide one form of birth control, Natural Family Planning. In addition, I do not refer for vasectomies, abortions nor prescribe the morning after pill or any artificial contraception. If you are interested in the latter, please be aware that you may approach your own family doctor or request to be seen by another physician.
Some patients also come to a walk in clinic for prescriptions of narcotics. The distribution of those drugs is controlled. Narcotics have a high potential for side effects, including addiction and they should be prescribed by a regular physician who is able to follow you. It is your responsibility to ensure that this physician will be renewing your prescription on time as I won’t do so in a context of walk in clinic.
With deepest respect,
Edmond Kyrillos, B. Eng., MD, CCFP
Ottawa Ontario

Note that the doctor doesn’t really explain why artificial contraception or abortion is wrong. He didn’t even bother personally signing the letter. He didn’t bother making two separate letters, one for women seeking birth control and the other for patients seeking narcotics. (And he sounds very condescending to the patient seeking narcotics, but that is beyond the scope of this post.)

In her post on XOJane, she talks about this as a “radical” view. This only shows how much work still needs to be done in helping people understand where pro-lifers are coming from. If it’s “radical” to be against birth control and abortion, it only shows how far our society is from a true view of the dignity of each and every person. You don’t have to believe in Jesus to agree that Natural Family Planning is better than artificial birth control. This is evidenced in the growth of Natural Family Planning groups that are not faith-based like this and this (The later group does promote the barrier form of birth control. We do not condone that form or any form of artificial contraception.).

She talks about the walk of shame leaving the clinic:

It almost felt like I was doing something wrong. I felt truly embarrassed having to leave in front of a group of people because of something that someone thinks is shameful and not right. 

Shame is not the way to spread the truth. I can understand that in a public clinic, the doctor may not have had the time to sit down and explain his views to every woman who walked through the doors, but he could have at least put more information in the letter. Or at least sign it.


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