Archive for the ‘Sterilization’ Category

When Is A Hysterectomy Immoral?

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

A pregnant mother asks NFPI about the morality of having a hysterectomy to alleviate menorrhagia and to avoid another pregnancy because she or the baby may not survive.  She also has a disease that affects the thyroid which causes her hormones to be off balance and worries about using NFP.  She wants to follow Church teaching.  She seeks our advice.

You asked about the morality of having a hysterectomy to alleviate menorrhagia.  Here is the relevant quotation from Humanae Vitae, section 15:
Lawful Therapeutic Means

15. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result therefrom–—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)”
You can read the entire document at our website.  Click on Spiritual Resources, and then on the encyclical.

What is meant first of all in this case is a disease that is life-threatening, such as cancer of the uterus or the ovaries.  That doesn’t rule out lesser maladies, but it seems to me that they would need to be untreatable by other means and truly disabling, not just inconvenient.  My brief review of what turned up in a Google search for menorrhagia made it appear that this is a situation that is both common and inconvenient but not serious.  The different sites offered ideas about both causes and treatments.  Marilyn Shannon starts her chapter on heavy bleeding with a hopeful sentence: “In counseling women with various cycle irregularities, I have found that heavy and prolonged bleeding almost always can be improved with better nutrition.” Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition, p.79.  She also treats of this in her Chapter 7 on causes of cycle irregularities.  Since this disorder is treatable by other less drastic means, I have to say that it would not be good medicine or morally justified to remove your uterus unless the malady became disabling.

You also asked about a hysterectomy to avoid pregnancy.  That would be a case of permanent contraception similar to having your tubes tied, so that cannot be morally justified.
Here are my recommendations.

First, get a copy of Shannon’s book and use it well.  You can obtain it through our website.

2.  Observe and chart well.  You can download free charts near the bottom of the home page of our website,

3. You didn’t say what manual you were using; you might find our manual helpful.  — Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach I hope that you will do ecological breastfeeding for the many benefits for yourself as well as for your baby.  The most difficult part of getting back into regular cycles is when fertility is finally returning because sometimes this can be ambiguous even with the help of Chapter 5 in our manual.  Here it is sometimes very helpful to use the cervix observations as well. If you get into a time of confusion, it is sometimes better simply to abstain for a good hunk of time rather than be worried all the time.  And remember, the temperature sign is valuable because continued low temps are an indication of non-ovulation and non-pregnancy.

4.  Once you get back to more or less regular cycles, if you find that on and off mucus patches in Phase 1 are too confusing or risky, you might be better off simply to limit your marriage acts to Phase 3.  To give yourself more confidence, add one day or even two days to the normal Phase 3 rules.  I can’t prove it, but I suspect that adding one day lowers the risk-of-pregnancy rate from 1 in 100 woman-years to 1 in 1000 woman years.  Note also that Shannon writes that she has seen women go from short luteal phases to full length luteal phases with improved nutrition.

5.  Do not feel sorry for yourselves.  That’s always dangerous.  We know a couple in which the wife had a chronic emotional-worry problem, so when they were entering premenopause they abstained for two years until she was clearly into menopausal infertility.  We know another couple who abstained for 18 months after the birth of a child.

I congratulate you for your desire to live by the Faith and for inquiring as you did.  May God bless you richly for your fidelity.

Sheila writes a weekly blog that is posted every Sunday.  You may find it interesting to pay a weekly visit to our website blogs.

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I obviously don’t have a panacea, but I hope this is helpful.
John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

HHS versus First Do No Harm

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Below is a letter my husband wrote our pastor who is very concerned about the new HHS regulation.   Sheila

Father Mark,

Much attention is being given to the fact that the HHS mandate seeks to force Catholics and some other Christians to violate their consciences by acting contrary to the teaching of their Church.

Not enough is being said about the effort to make some violate their consciences by prescribing drugs or doing procedures that they know to be harmful.

To wit: the WHO has labeled the chemicals of the BC Pill a Class 1 (worst kind) of carcinogen. A number of studies show that on the average a woman who takes the Pill for four years or more before her first full term pregnancy increases her risk of breast cancer by 40% compared to those who never take the Pill.  So girls who start taking the pill in high school and continue through college or trade school are really putting themselves at risk.  All too many doctors ignore this, but this is a huge class-action suit just waiting to happen.  The Obama administration would like the Catholic Church to be a defendant in this almost inevitable lawsuit because of its pre-eminence in the delivery of health care and the number of women covered by its insurance policies.  The expense of defense can only be imagined; also the expense of a judgment.  The Church has to oppose this at every level just for this reason alone, to say nothing of the more important moral reasons.  This is just one of the reasons why the Church’s teaching is true.

In 1993 two articles appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that reported a causal association between vasectomy and subsequent prostate cancer. One number that sticks in my head is that 20 years after a vasectomy, such men had an 89% increased risk of prostate cancer compared to non-sterilized men.  When I was treated for prostate cancer at Loma Linda CA, I was surprised at the number of younger men in our group.  In my mid 70’s at the time, I was definitely in the upper age quartile of our group.  And this has typically been an older man’s disease.

Of course, just as behavior and cancer associations were denied in the Fifties through probably into the Nineties regarding smoking and lung cancer, so these associations are denied today.  But I think that will change.  On this past Jan 18-20 I had an email conversation with a 23 year-old woman who had sent me a routine request to include a link to her company’s website where it listed all sorts of health problems and how the company could offer legal help in getting malpractice damages.  I first replied sarcastically that I would consider that link after I saw that they were also helping women with malpractice suits for Pill-induced breast cancer.  The saleswoman had never heard about this, and I soon had her in touch with some experts on this subject.  She was personally shocked because docs had put her on the Pill when she was 16 to remedy some menstrual irregularities, and she was still on it.  I will have to follow up with her.  Dr. Chris Kahlenborn thinks that the Pill and breast cancer link will be purposefully ignored by the medical establishment until there are a sufficient number of malpractice suits.

I hope you can share all of this with your fellow priests.  One of the things we do in our course is to let the engaged couples know about these things.  We also promote and teach ecological breastfeeding, and one of its effects is to reduce the risk of breast cancer along with a good handful of other healthy benefits for the moms as well as 21 listed benefits for the babies.  I think that parish priests should use our manual to reinforce these facts.  Many of us need to hear the same thing from two or three different sources in order for it to sink in.

Our course should be seen not as a burden but as a blessing.

John K.

Mental Illness and Casual Sex: A Father’s Plea

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

To whom it may concern:

I would like to write a letter to describe as best I can my thoughts on the relationship between men and women and their relationship to God and moral values.

Before I go into that, I would like to make a few comments on the relationship between mental health and sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

Many people believe that allowing people with chemical imbalances or mental illnesses to have casual sex is something that is good for them.  They believe that men and women naturally need to have sexual relief and pleasure in order to be happy.  That it is not only ok but therapeutic to engage in such behavior.  The only “problem” in their minds is the need not to get STDs nor to get pregnant.  Hence, the “solution” to this “problem” is to get sterilized and then to practice “safe sex” by using condoms to avoid diseases.  They believe that satisfying the biological urges will make that person somehow better, more stable, and happier.

Well, let’s talk a bit about sex.  The sexual act is an act so personal, so intimate, that our very beings unite in some way with our partner….that we do become “one” in some mysterious way and that there is a tremendous bonding that takes place which is permanent and deep.  That this happens seems pretty clear.

When a person who suffers from low self esteem, rejection, failed goals, and constant turmoil in their emotional lives are suddenly lifted above all this for a momentary time, one would think that this is a good.  However, the down side to this is that the great emotional bond and spiritual link to this person is not real, not lasting, and without any commitment for the future.  The net result is that this person is now even worse off due to the stress and strain of yet another rejection at the most profound level of his or her soul.  To set up a situation whereby a person is encouraged to gratify sexual urges as a positive end in itself ends up turning around what appears to be a good thing into a trap for furthering depression, guilt, and even lower self esteem.

There was a case that I knew of where a friend of mine had a boy with Downs Syndrome and they had him institutionalized after a certain age.  Well in this facility they sterilized all the clients and then paired them up and each week they had “sex night” which they spent together with their partner.  The idea here is to offer sexual gratification to these people with no apparent down-side.  Who are we to believe that we can do this with people?  Have these adults no dignity and who are we to allow this?  Who is the one to say that without sexual gratification that life is not worth living?  Who is to say that no man or woman is able to live without it?

My point is that there is a great danger to a person’s emotional well being to engage in casual sex for fun when the impact on a person is so serious and deep.

Would it not be better to take a higher road and strive to work on a person’s self esteem through progress in very human activities such as creative expression, providing mechanisms whereby the stronger ones can help and instruct the weaker ones?  Can we not encourage positive actions to deepen our internal feelings about our own self worth….first in God’s eyes and then in our fellow man’s eyes?  It is quite known that people who are close to God and pray carry a special peace in their hearts which helps them get through life.  Could we not help these people draw closer to God and fill their hearts with his love rather then to satisfy sexual urges?

God created sex to propagate the human species.  His plan according to my understanding is to structure a secure STABLE environment for a man and a woman to join, reproduce, and care for the offspring.  The best way for this to be done is with one couple, their children, one home, over a long period of time.  Out of this stable environment called marriage the sex act is brought out.  Next God allows the intercourse to be pleasurable to support the drive to reproduce because raising a kid is hard.  God also turns off the ability to have kids on a regular basis and for good after a certain age.  The first purpose of intercourse is procreation…whether or not a child is conceived.  The point is that the union is open to procreation.  There actually is a very good form of birth control which is practiced by Catholics and it is called NFP….Natural Family Planning and the success rate of those who properly utilize this process is higher than that of condoms for example….the difference here is that there is NO sex during the times that the woman could become pregnant.  To block procreation by sterilization (permanently) or with birth control goes against God’s plan for the marriage union.

As a side point, there are natural results of going against God’s will for using abortion, sterilization, or birth control and that is that nations will literally disappear and the people are not reproducing enough to replace themselves and the nation will just wimp away.  Also, in the US, with 50 million babies killed through abortion….guess what?  The money to support the parents who aborted their kids will not be there for them to live on as the kids are not there to pay taxes.

God has a plan for us.  This plan is pretty much known, or could easily be known, to us; but, we, like our freedom to do whatever we want, particularly stuff which is fun or pleasurable, and blow-off such talk of God’s plan to religious “nut-jobs”.  But there is a price to pay for ignoring the way God wants us to live…..and that price involves things which go on deep within our heart.

Casual sex will not improve my daughter’s life.

Sterilizing her could seriously impact her self esteem as a woman and drive her into deeper depression….a dangerous thing for her fragile state.

My daughter needs to focus on healing, being productive through volunteer or paid work, be encouraged to stay active in her faith which HAS demonstrated to be of benefit to her, to have wholesome and uplifting relationships, to be closer to her family after this pregnancy, and to establish goals which demonstrate that she can be successful in some limited way…but enough to bring her peace and tranquility in her life.