The following comes from a Feb. 6 stoy on the Catholic News Agency website.
Women medical experts, theologians and writers joined voices in rejecting a Los Angeles Times editorial by a prominent birth control advocate who criticized Catholic morality and claimed that nuns should take birth control for their health.
Marie Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, says hormonal contraceptives pose “substantial threats” to all women, including myocardial infarction, cerebral-vascular accidents, deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
If the pill is so beneficial, she asked, “why are not all of us being prescribed them by our physicians, regardless of one’s sexual behavior?”
“It is because there are documented risks by the National Cancer Institute that call for a prudential use of such hormones,” she told CNA Jan. 5.
Florida-based medical doctor Rebecca Peck also rejected the proposal, saying that Catholic physicians, patients and religious sisters “should not be told to prescribe or use the Pill under the guise of ‘preventative care’ or ‘good’ medicine.”
“It simply is not true.”
In a Jan. 30 commentary in the Los Angeles Times, Malcom Potts contended that Catholic teaching on the immorality of contraception is based on “misunderstandings and theological errors.”
He said that the use of the contraceptive pill has health benefits including a reduced risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and poses “no change” in breast cancer risk.
Potts, an obstetrician, reproductive scientist and professor of public health at the University of California-Berkeley, is also an abortion rights advocate who was the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s first director of health.
He suggested that Pope Francis should “reverse” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on contraception, Humanae Vitae. Commenting on the Little Sisters of the Poor’s resistance to government mandates to provide contraceptives in their health care plan, he said the nuns would reduce their cancer risk by taking contraceptives.
Hilliard countered Potts by citing the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. government’s main agency for cancer research. The institute said that the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancer appear to be reduced by oral contraceptives, but the risks of breast, cervical and liver cancer appear to be increased. Breast cancer risk was highest for women who started using oral contraception as teenagers.
Peck, who practices medicine in Ormond Beach and serves as assistant clinical professor at Florida State University’s Daytona Beach Regional Campus, said Potts was right to note the reduction in endometrial and ovarian cancers.
However, this is “only a half-truth.” These cancers are “relatively rare,” she explained, with a 1 in 39 lifetime risk for endometrial cancer and a 1 in 72 lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.
In contrast, breast cancer is the “most common female cancer” with a lifetime risk of 1 in 8….
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