I knew when I walked into my doctors office for my postpartum check-up that I was going to be faced with a challenge. Since my coverage wouldn't cover another pap-smear until it had been a year since my last, I had the basic exam and then she wanted to discuss birthcontrol. I had been freaking out internally for about a week before my appointment because I knew this was coming and I knew it would be a challenge to my faith. She told me that since I wasn't going to have a pap that this appointment would basically be about what kind of birthcontrol I wanted to use. I explained that, firstly, my husband was gone so I had no need for it. And secondly, we practice the Symto-Thermal method. If you say NFP they don't know what that is, if you say Natural Family Planning they look at you like you're a nutcase. My reasoning was to mention the Symto-Thermal method because it was something I figured she could understand more from her medical background. I was wrong. She had no idea what it was. When I went to explain she exclaimed "Oh it's the Rhythm or Calendar Method." I told her no and tried to explain that it goes by your temperture and symtoms, but she spoke right over me. I left the office feeling like I had been raped by my doctor. Not only was the exam painful because of my scaring from the tears during delivery, but I felt emotionally battered by being spoken over and poo-pooed. I found the Article below and thought, "How cool. I'm going to see if I can find someone like him!" I'm hoping I can. I'll have to call around and ask questions.
GYN prescribes natural family planning in practice
Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)
As a result, Greene, a gynecologist and member of St. Mary of the Hills Parish in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, has decided that natural family planning is the only form of birth control he will prescribe.
"It's crystal clear to me," said Greene, who has practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 11 years. "It makes perfect sense as to why one would choose to live the culture of life or practice natural family planning or embrace the church's teaching on human sexuality."
"I think a lot of people just haven't looked at it," he told The Michigan Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Natural family planning refers to forms of birth regulation which, in conformity with Catholic teaching, do not involve the use of any artificial means of contraception. Different natural methods all share two basic elements: monitoring of the woman's monthly fertility cycle and abstinence during her fertile period except when the couple wants to have a baby.
When used properly, modern natural family planning methods have greater success rates than the most effective contraceptive, have no side effects and never lead to abortion. Some birth control methods are considered abortifacients by the church.
Greene spent his early medical career as most gynecologists do; examining patients, delivering babies and presenting women with a wide array of artificial birth control methods.
But as he grew more deeply in his faith, he began to have questions.
Raised Lutheran, he entered the church because his wife, Liza, was Catholic. He was preparing to become a Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults as he was going through his medical residency in the mid-1990s. He was taught that artificial birth control was against church teaching but really a matter of conscience.
"I clung to that for about eight years," he said.
Then, his deepening faith caused him to reconsider.
He listened to lectures, read books and received friendly nudges from both the medical and religious sides of the debate.
In medicine, he knew that artificial birth control had side effects and potentially – though the chances, admittedly, were small – could cause physical harm to his patients. The risks and societal harms of contraception, he said, were glossed over in his traditional medical training, and natural family planning was given only a passing mention.
Then, there were his patients to consider; they included Denise Gabryel, a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lapeer.
Through a long and heart-wrenching ordeal with her – he was helping deliver her baby, who had died in her womb – Greene was touched. He recalls walking into her hospital room at midnight to see her watching the Mass on television.
"She had this equanimity about her the whole time, this faith – she was bearing the cross," he recalls. "She was a living witness of what faith was to me."
Greene was led into a conversation with Gabryel and her husband, Mark, about the faith – and eventually about natural family planning.
It was one more way Greene felt God was leading him toward a change in his practice.
"With all these things, it was just like click, click, click, click – everything was making perfect sense," he said. "Everything was saying, 'Yeah. This is the right thing to do and it's what God wants and it's going to honor God.'"
Finally, he received the consent of his colleagues at Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology and became a doctor who prescribes only natural family planning.
He made the switch in November, writing a letter to notify his patients, and explaining it to some face to face.
"I've had some Catholic patients who have been like, 'Yes!' – a high-five kind of moment and they can see it's God's work," said Greene. "And other patents kind of gave me a deer-in-the-headlights kind of stare and I got a transfer-of-records form within a week."
Though he has lost some patients, Dorothy Staple, the natural family planning coordinator for the Archdiocese of Detroit, could see him being flooded with more.
"I constantly get calls from women who are using natural family planning and ask whether we have natural family planning-only doctors," Staple said. "These women are tired of going to doctors and not being heard."
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