Tough Pill Bill to Swallow

National Catholic Register
Commentary & Opinion
August 25 – 31, 2002

Reproduced with permission

Michael J.  O’Dea*

Regarding “N.Y. ‘Pill Bill’ Puts Church in Tough Spot” (July 28-Aug. 3):

Passage of New York’s Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage (EPICC) bill forces New York’s fully insured health plans to subsidize all FDA-approved contraceptive pills and devices. In addition to violating religious liberty and an individual’s right of conscience, this law undermines parents by expanding government control of American children’s sexual and reproductive health. How dare Ms. (Assemblywoman Deborah) Glick get away with her comments in this article. The bill is not about religious freedom, she says, but about individual choice and health care.

This bill is not about individual choice nor health care. It is about state and federal control of our children and what we finance in health care. This is a totalitarian agenda, proposed by Planned Parenthood and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. How does the Church get out of cooperating with a state law that interferes with parents’ right to shape the conscience of their children? The Catholic Church still does have options   of setting up self insured plans that are regulated by ERISSA, the federal law that frees self-insured health plans from state contraceptive mandates. However, if Sen. Kennedy and Congressman Bonior get their way with S 104 and HR 1111, those options will quickly vanish. President Bush could be forced to use his veto power – or every private and public health insurance plan that has prescription coverage will force employers and individuals, through taxes and insurance premiums, to confidentially fund unhealthy and morally objectionable contraceptive chemicals and devices  for children, without parental consent or knowledge.

In addition to challenging this insidious N.Y. EPICC legislation in the court and teaching the intrinsic evil of contraception, Catholics must unite to establish, administrate and control financing in their own self-insured Catholic health plan. Catholics must also unite with other faith-based organizations and defeat EPICC. If EPICC is not defeated, what will employers and individuals be forced to pay for next – euthanasia, artificial insemination, invitro-fertilization, cloning, and coverage for unmarried and same-sex partners?  America prides itself on assuring parents the opportunity to raise children without government intrusion and interference. A nation with the greatest political freedom is being undermined by a few powerful political interest groups. At this critical time, when the health and welfare of the American family, our nation’s future and our political freedom are all at stake, it is time for allChristians, particularly those in positions of leadership, to take charge of what we pay for in health care and “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is Gods.”

Emergency contraception a flawed choice

London Free Press
March 19, 2002

Reproduced with permission

Sharon  Osvald

Tomorrow, the first day of spring, a coalition of American national, state and local organizations will take Walt Disney’s Bambi’s notion of “being twitter pated” to a new level.

March 20 is the kick-off to their first annual “back up your birth control” campaign. On that day, women all over the U.S. will be asked, regardless of their need, to request emergency contraceptives (EC) from their doctors. Doctors will promise to tell their patients about EC; pharmacists will talk to their customers about it and activists will lobby both state and federal legislatures in favour of more access and awareness of EC.

Similar campaigns to support what many call the morning pill have been taking place for a couple of years with radio ads, billboards picturing a broken condom and other literature. The Web site has an image of a young working woman flexing her bicep with a heart-shaped tattoo saying EC.

Preven and Plan B are the two emergency contraceptives approved in Canada, but according to pharmacists I’ve talked to, many doctors have been prescribing concentrated birth-control hormones within 72 hours of sex since the 1970s. If taken in time, it prevents fertilized eggs from implanting on the uterine wall. Advocates for EC call it “a  safe, effective back-up birth control method that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.” Opponents, however, call it an “abortifacient,” believing conception begins at fertilization and the idea of contraception after the fact is nothing more than wishful thinking.

I am certain the intentions of the majority involved in this initiative are good. After all, even the most pro-choice person knows the fewer full-fledged abortions that take place, the better for everyone. Consider the horrible state of the 15-year-old Brampton girl recently charged with second-degree murder after hiding her pregnancy and injuring her baby girl in an unassisted home birth. In contrast, EC pills seem such a neat little compromise. More radical feminists embrace EC as a tool to empower women against the evil oppressor, men, who make us pregnant in the first place and get off scot-free.
However, aside from my personal convictions about when life begins, this campaign and others like it give me the willies. This is because, in the words of Canadian organization, The Protection of Conscience Project, they are so “well-organized, well-connected and well-funded” and “may directly impact some conscientious objectors, especially if activists decide to target objectors or objecting facilities in order to get media coverage or to initiate complaints of professional misconduct.” In short, these groups bully those who don’t see the world from their point of view and trample on objectors’ rights and freedoms.

Secondly, it seems to me the message of emergency back-up plans is cheap. I mean, if a group is going to take time, energy and resources to imprint a message into the psyche of young women, is this the best message we have to give them? Why not teach them to respect themselves, to be responsible for their actions (even mistakes) and how to form monogamous, lasting accountable relationships, instead of ones that create an emergency if you become pregnant when pre-intercourse birth control fails? Why don’t we hand out planned parenting post cards that say, “Don’t waste yourself on a one-night stand,” instead of, “You have 72 hours to erase last night.” Rather than simply empowering women to be in charge of their bodies, why not teach men and women what a wonderful thing sex can be in the right context? Maybe even, heaven forbid, encourage  them to wait? Then we might not only have less unwanted pregnancies, but also women who are emotionally healthy and truly empowered.

Disciplinary Hearing of Doctor Who Won’t Prescribe Pill Open to Public

Dr. Dawson Requests Prayers and Letters of Support

Dr. Stephen Dawson, the family doctor who is in danger of losing his medical licence over his refusal to prescribe the birth control pill to unmarried women clarified his position in an interview with LifeSite last night. Dr. Dawson told LifeSite that the initial coverage in the Barrie Examiner suggested he may compromise on the matter. He clarified: “Under no circumstances will I compromise. I would rather lose my licence.”

He said that he would not apologize for refusing to offer the pill to unmarried women but would apologize for the perhaps “overzealous manner in which I presented my case to these women initially.” [Full text]

 

Doctor’s faith under scrutiny

Barrie physician won’t offer the pill, could lose his licence

 Cheryl Canning

Dr. Stephen Dawson faces a discipline committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in April because he refused to prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women.

A Barrie doctor could lose his licence to practise medicine because of his religious beliefs.

Dr. Stephen Dawson faces a discipline committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in April because he refused to prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women.

“If a Christian physician must forsake his religious beliefs to maintain his medical licence, we cannot delude ourselves to believe we live in a free country,” said Dawson.

Last summer, four female patients made formal complaints to the college, citing Dawson’s refusal to prescribe birth control to the “unmarried” women as the reason, he said.

Dawson believes that when a doctor prescribes birth control pills to an unmarried woman, he unwittingly promotes sex outside of marriage, because he removes the fear of pregnancy. [Full text]

Project Letter to the BC Medical Journal

British Columbia, Canada
16 February, 2002

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

The cover of your  January/February 2002 edition highlighting Dr. Roey M. Malleson’s article on ‘emergency contraception’ was unexpected: a brawny, half-naked, Aryan warrior, eyes glinting murderously from under his horned helmet, wielding a copper IUD, crouched to spring and slaughter.

I would like permission to  post the cover on the Project website, and would appreciate it if you would send me seven copies of the issue. The cover is a splendid  illustration of the usual basis for conscientious objection to  potentially abortifacient devices and drugs, and the article provides  an excellent example of moral obfuscation masquerading as science.

Dr. Malleson clearly  believes, as a matter of faith (for it cannot be science), that it is not immoral to destroy an early human embryo by preventing implantation. However, the article fails to explain why this belief should be forced upon those who do not share it. The Journal of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, cited to support Dr. Malleson’s threatening accusation of negligence, is not widely acknowledged to be an infallible authority on faith and morals, nor is Dr. Malleson.

Finally, astute readers will recognize that the law is more complex than suggested by the article. Freedom of conscience is recognized as a fundamental freedom that must be accommodated. It is imprudent and unhelpful to publicly incite civil actions against colleagues in order to secure their submission to the moral outlook so aptly expressed by your cover.