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The ABC reports a ‘catholic’ doctor working at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital has had his Catholic faith shaken by the hospital’s refusal to provide written advice on artificial contraception to patients participating in a cancer drug trial.

Really? A Catholic doctor’s faith is shaken because the Catholic hospital he works at acts in accordance with Catholic teaching?

Catholic hospitals are leaders in cancer research. All such research involves risks. In this case, there is a possibility the drug could cause birth defects.

The hospital provides everyone considering participating in the trial with a statement of the risks involved, including a section on reproductive risks.

It would be sensible to avoid conceiving a child while taking the drug.

Advice about natural methods of contraception is also available at the hospital.

Essentially, this means keeping track of the woman’s cycles, and avoiding intercourse for a maximum of ten days around the time of ovulation. This is as effective as the pill in preventing conception. Because no drugs are involved, there are no side effects, nor any possibility that artificial hormones will interfere with the cancer therapy.

If you can’t refrain from intercourse for ten days at a time for a few months while participating in a drug trial, there is something wrong with you.

When Kathy had uterine cancer, she underwent surgery then a course of radiotherapy. We were not able to make love for six months. It was frustrating at times. It also gave us a chance to grow together in other ways, and to appreciate the gift of sex even more.

If that path is not for you, there are plenty of places which will offer all the advice you need.

But why would anyone, including a doctor, think they had the right to get such advice from a Catholic hospital?

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