Following last week's article by Dr Peter Doherty, Victoria Gillick mourns waning Catholic medical influence.
CAN the NHS any longer afford the luxury of a doctor's conscience over contraception?
That appears to be the question uppermost in the minds of those who have produced the second half of Form FP16A. This requires all applicants to GP posts to state — even before an interview — whether or not they are prepared to give full contraceptive services to the public. The implicit message being: if you are not so prepared, then don't bother applying for the job.
If, in time, this NHS policy of screening our unwanted doctors, proves 100 per cent effective, who will be the losers in the long run? Conscientious Christian doctors of course; but also Catholic families and — dare I suggest it — the medical profession and society as a whole.
Modern legislation and government policies have seen to it that medical practice has rapidly drifted away from the ethics of the Hippocratic Oath.
Once upon a time (in 1947, in fact) co-operation in abortion, suicide and murder was considered the "greatest crime" a doctor could commit. Not any more.
Thus the unborn, the pregnant, the young and old often find themselves disadvantaged or pressurised by this amoral, State controlled medical profession.
Examples of this worsening state of affairs abound. Readers will have plenty enough of their own to recall; but I shall attempt to give a few experiences of my own, which I hope will alert Catholics to the dangers which may lie ahead if there continues to be this discrimination against Catholic doctors.
In the early 'Sixties, I was a student, living away from home. One day I took my upset stomach to a GP, only to be met with an apparently standard enquiry: Was I pregnant, and did I want the Pill?
Nowadays, of course, his approach wouldn't surprise anybody. Indeed, unless you are a very determined parent, and talk firmly to your non-Catholic GP, while your daughters are still in primary school, there is absolutely no guarantee that later on, one of them will not be offered the Pill the next time she visits him alone, with her acne or growing pains.
A Catholic mother wrote to a doctor, six years ago, saying that as a Christian parent she hoped that none of her under-age daughters would ever be given contraception behind her back. She received the following high handed reply: "I am not sure of the relevance of Christianity to the principles involved. Children do not always subscribe to the religious views of their parents, and a Muslim Mother would presumably feel as strongly as you do and still have no right to compel her daughter to accept her beliefs".
Would a Catholic doctor have given her such a reply? Hardly likely.
On the same topic, it is no mere coincidence, that, three years ago, it was almost entirely due to the combined efforts of Catholic and Evangelical doctors that the General Medical Council was bombarded with petitions, in the doctor's attempt to lift the ban imposed upon them which forbade contact with parents, over requests for under-age contraception and pregnancy.
Widespread use of artificial birth control has had many unlooked-for side effects on the users. It has also had repercussions on the prescribers; for in my experience it is impossible to find an average non-Catholic GP who has the slightest knowledge of, or even interest in, up-to-date methods of natural family planning.
"Go and get a book from the library", is the usual medical advice to such requests for help.
"Were you using some form of contraception before you became pregnant?" an antenatal nurse asked the young wife. "No" said the woman; and her pregnancy was duly noted as "unwanted". Remonstrations were in vain. Unplanned equalled unwanted, as far as this thoroughly modern medic was concerned. Thus do we live in an anti-natal society.
A country woman visited a Catholic GP, when dangerously late in her pregnancy. She was not a Catholic herself, but she already had six children, and had avoided visiting her own GP in genuine fear of his pressure for an abortion.
Under the protective wing of the Catholic doctor, she was seen safely through the last weeks of her pregnancy. Meanwhile he had instructed the hospital staff to treat her with kindness and respect, and not to follow up delivery with further pressure for sterilisation.
Just a few hours after the home delivery of my own seventh child, my husband took the brunt of the medical assault: "You ought to have her sterilized!" bellowed the scandalized doctor, sounding distinctly like the local vet.
"Get out!" was my beloved's understandable riposte ... could anyone imagine a Catholic doctor displaying such a grotesque attitude to women? So many of them have told me of the time they spend counselling pregnant women and girls to keep their babies; while their non-Catholic partners are content to hurry them, without comment, through the abortion mill.
Demands for post-natal abortifacients are readily met, by almost all but Catholic doctors; thus the secret destruction of countless thousands of newly conceived souls carries on daily.
Once again, puritanical prejudice reared its ignorant head, when a routine test for cervical cancer brought forth the following exchange with a nonCatholic GP.
"Why am I supposed to be in the 'high risk' category for the disease? It is the wear and tear of childbirth perhaps?"
"No, it's because lots of children implies lots of sex".
"How come? Surely a women using the Pill or coil, who has had only two pregnancies in twenty years, has lots more contraceptive sex, than the woman with half a dozen or so pregnancies, using natural abstentious, methods of birth control over the same period?"
A letter to the Womens National Cancer Control Campaign elicited the correct reason: "possible damage caused to the cervix during childbirth". ...And the test proved negative... But family problems consist of more than just sex and pregnancy!
Catholics have an equal share of elderly, handicapped or terminally sick relatives. What will the future hold for them in a society bereft of Catholic doctors, with their special concern to protect the lives of those patients the State might find increasingly burdensome and costly?
If euthanasia of the unwanted should ever creep onto the statute books, under the guise of a "sick person's right to die", to whom shall we turn for safe healing and compassion?
With sufficient Catholic GPs active in the field, we will still have a strong line of defence for our families and the genuinely caring, pro-life principles of our faith.
Can anybody doubt, that with such doctors leaving the medical profession, it will not slide even more surely beneath the yoke of the pagan State and all its dehumanising works and pomps.