Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Takes - the NFP edition

Thank you to Jen for hosting!


I missed last week's quick takes - sorry, y'all!   Mike and I were in Michigan, and I tried to get on the computer to do it for both this blog and the adoption blog, but well...I was being stalked by someone else in the hotel lobby who apparently REALLY wanted the computer, and I had to be quick.   Back to normal this week!


You've probably noticed the addition to today's post heading - the NFP version.   Whether you are a NFP fan or not, that's what today's quick takes are about!   You can thank Marc, from BadCatholic for that.   Why?  Because he's just launched (with a group of friends/compatriots) an awesome NFP-awareness website called 1Flesh and you NEED to go check it out.  After posting it on my FB page last night, my wall kind of exploded.   I realized that there's A LOT of confusion about what NFP is, what the Church actually teaches, and even who are the biggest NFP proponents. have this quick takes.


So, what exactly IS NFP (or Natural Family Planning, if you didn't know what NFP stood for)?   NFP is a method of fertility awareness.  There are multiple different options, my favourite few being the Creighton Model, Billings Ovulation Method, Sympto-Thermal, and the Marquette Method.  NFP no longer means "the calendar method" that so many of us made fun of - this is real science, folks.  There's  an option for everyone, based on your own personal cycles and symptoms and what you are looking to achieve (correct a disorder, achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy, etc).   If you're addicted to peeing on sticks like so many of us women are, there's even a method for you!!   (if you've never had the opportunity to be possibly pregnant, you may not understand this comment, just fyi)


So why the 1Flesh website, you may be wondering?   Well, they said it best on their "Rebellion" page, which I've been given permission to reproduce. Check it out (remember that you can click on it to make it bigger - or click on THIS LINK to read the original):


While a guy who blogs under the name BadCatholic is obviously, well, Catholic, this movement is NOT a movement within the Catholic Church.   So, for a minute here, separate the knee-jerk reaction you might be having against NFP with your own personal dislike of Catholicism.   The two are intimately connected in the Catholic world, yes, but  NFP is not a Catholic-only idea/method.    It's based in science (like I said before), and there seems to be an awakening of sorts amongst the medical world, realizing that it is actually good medicine.  Why?    Because those of us in this generation, the one just above us, and the one just below us (so, really, we're talking an age spread from about 15-50) are realizing just how much we were lied to about the wonders of hormonal birth control.    

 Personally, I was told (at age 16), that birth control was the best - and only - option that I had to fix the extremely painful ovulation that I'd been experiencing (it would make me miss school - my mom even rushed me to the doctor multiple times).    I finally gave in a couple of years later when the campus OB/GYN at the college I was attending told me the same thing.    It seemed to work - my pain was gone!   But you know what?  The minute I stopped taking pain returned, full force.    It didn't fix  anything.    My painful ovulation - debilitating pain - was still there.  Birth control did nothing to fix it .... but it did everything to put me at risk for medical complications and health risks that were never discussed in depth.  Was I told about cancer risks during my 5 years on the pill?  Nope.  Not once - and I went to multiple doctors for prescriptions.    Will I ever lose those risk factors, even now, that I've been birth control free for years?  Nope.  I will forever be at risk for something I didn't even know I was agreeing to.    Women just like me are waking up and demanding better health care.   We deserve it.


Now, before anyone reads my last quick take and assumes that I'm angry about my OWN personal doctors' lack of giving me information about the risks......I'm not.   I know it might sound contradictory, but I'm not mad at my doctors for failing to properly inform me about the risks associated with hormonal birth control and the awesome alternative found in things like NFP and NaProTechnology.   Why?  Because I can tell you - from watching my own husband complete his OB/GYN training - that the medical world ignores it.    There are a ton of theories out there as to why (mainly revolving around the major money that pharmaceutical companies make and put into hormonal birth control), but I'm not going to get into those.   What I will talk about is the lack of proper eduction for our medical providers in the way of NFP awareness.   They are not taught the different method options.   They are not exposed to NFP as a treatment option.   They do not receive information regarding NaProTechnology and its treatment protocols for various feminine disorders.  What are they taught?   They are taught that hormonal birth control is God's gift to women, and it will cure whatever ails their patients.  The risks are glossed over in the guides/information given to the physicians.   For a physician (especially a resident) who is working 40-80 hours a week....they have to rely on the information provided to them.   When that information is flawed, or even nonexistent - like it is in regards to Natural Family Planning - they are not able to incorporate it into their own practice of medicine.   So is it my doctors that I'm upset with for my own lack of medical care?   No.  It's the system that they are working within - the one that throws NFP out the window without even looking at it first.

Things seem to be changing though, praise the Lord!   Medical training programs around the country are moving into an NFP-aware model of medical practice.    The rise of NFP-only or NFP-friendly doctors is happening at almost a lightning speed.     The number of patients that are seeking out NaProTechnology is growing, as more and more people start speaking out about their own treatments.  Each class at the Pope Paul VI Institute (where NaPro  and the Creighton Model is taught to medical professionals) is larger than the one before.    With our help - and movements like 1Flesh - women could finally start getting the care that they deserve!!


Now, most people associate NFP with the Catholic Church, that is true.   The Catholic Church has unwaveringly taught the evils of contraception for 2000 years - everyone thinks they "know what the Church says" about birth control and NFP.    But do you really know?

Have you read Humanae Vitae?    You should.  It very clearly discusses birth control.   Very, very good stuff here - so much good stuff that I cannot possibly copy and paste all that you need to see.   Just  take my word for it - click on the link and be amazed.  

Contraception (and by this, I mean anything that prevents conception - so barrier methods, "pulling out", artificial birth control, etc) is inherently evil, according to the Catholic Church.   Why?  Because according to the Catholic Church (and biology, really - this has been proven, multiple times in multiple studies), there are two purposes of sex.   First of all, sex is unitive - it creates a bond between man and woman (ideally husband and wife, in the Church).   We all have seen the studies/reports that state that sexual intercourse produces a chemical reaction in the brain that leads to bonding.  Sex, by it's very nature, is designed to bond two people together.  Secondly, sex is procreative.  Basic biology shows us this - how does the human race reproduce?  By having sex.   The sexual act is ordered towards reproduction - it's biological goal is the continuation of the human species.

So, by natural design, not just by Catholic teaching, the purpose of sex is two-fold:  it unifies and procreates.    Why does the Church teach that contraception is immoral?   Because it separates these two purposes of sex, as a way of selfishly reducing sex to only pleasure.    With contraception, the procreative aspect of sex is thrown out of the window, going directly against God's design for sex.   Any time we directly choose to go against God's design or will.....would be the definition of a sin.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sin as 

"Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22:PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ."  (CCC 1871)

Going against God's plan for sex?   A deed contrary to eternal law, and disobedience to God's design.   Therefore....contraception, the Church teaches, is a sin.

So why is NFP not a sin?   To understand this, you have to understand just what NFP is and what it is not.   Can NFP be used with a contraceptive mindset?  Sure.  But it is not designed that way.   I've already talked waaaaayyyyyy too much on this quick takes (um, not quick at all - sorry!), so I'm going to let Leila take it from here.   Go check out her explanation to why NFP is not "Catholic Contraception."  It's good, it's quick, and it's clearly written.

-- 7 and 1/2 --

This ties into #7, so I'm adding it in.   All of this NFP awesomeness probably would not be front and center in so many internet places, or radio shows, or news articles, or at playdates, etc, if it weren't for the horrible HHS Mandate.   The fight against this breech of religious freedom is not over.   You can still help - and here is how.