Jenn Giroux

Dear physician: The $30 I spent on getting sterilized was the worst money I ever spent

Jenn Giroux
By Jenn Giroux

The Obama Administration is mandating that all insurance providers provide free FDA approved birth control methods to women as well as permanent sterilization procedures. Besides the documented physical harm that hormonal birth control and sterilization does to a woman’s body, there is also another effect that it has which often carries a much high cost: emotional pain and regret. The department of Health and Human Services ignores the post contraceptive regrets of women who later mourn the children they willingly prevented. Below is one woman’s powerful story of the profound regret that came after being offered permanent sterilization by her physician. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), by age 45, at least one partner in every two marriages in the U.S has been sterilized.

Dear Medical Provider:

I am writing this personal story and presenting it to you in an effort to heal some deep emotional wounds. I pray it helps you also. You see, when I was 29 I was pregnant with my third child. This was a blessed and wonderful time in my life. During an appointment you brought up the option of permanent sterilization after delivery. I honestly had never even considered it. But, there it was. I brought the pamphlet home and presented it to my husband. He responded “well, if the doctor thinks it’s best.” Obviously, we are easily influenced. Nothing was mentioned again until a few hours after the delivery of my beautiful baby girl. You missed the delivery but flew into the room exclaiming “so, we are doing a tubal, right?”

I was shocked. I had not given it much thought. I was not in a state of mind to understand the full depth of what that meant. I was thinking the whole time of another child. I know you sensed that. You reassured me it was permanent. At that time I could not fully comprehend what that meant. Then, you said something as you left the room that has painfully echoed and haunted my thoughts for years. I heard you mumble “I’ll do the most reversible type.” I still do not know what that meant. How could something be permanent and reversible at the same time? I did not fully understand what was happening.

Before I knew it, the procedure was done. I realized the next day that I did not want this procedure to be permanent. I always wanted more children. I had hopes and dreams of a larger family. I found it difficult to articulate that. Large families are not “popular” in today’s world. I acted in fear of being judged. Who was I to go against the social norms? It seems there is an unwritten social standard that says family sizes of 2 or 3 is “normal.” This misconception set up by media and a popular social agenda is standard, but not necessarily right or even remotely good for us. I was guilty of buying into this agenda.

Now it has been 7 years since the tubal. I have wanted it reversed since the day that it was done. I realize more than ever that you did me no favors. The tubal cost us $30. It was the worst money I ever spent. The mental and emotional turmoil of self-induced infertility has been beyond difficult. I have cried and grieved the loss of that part of myself for years. I realized that my fertility was a very special gift. Fertility was very much a part of who I was. It defined me as a woman. On a very deep level, fertility was essential to my mental and emotional health. It influenced my relationships with my husband, children, co-workers and friends. Without it I suffered and my marriage suffered the greatest of all to the point where my husband and I sought counseling. The counselor looked at me and recognized that I was grieving. It was then that I realized that he was right. I was grieving! I was grieving the loss of my fertility. Seven years later at age 35 I was able to have a reversal. The procedure cost $11,200.That was the best money ever spent. The procedure was healing beyond explanation…I was wholeagain. I truly felt the mercy and love of God!

Through this entire experience valuable lessons have been learned. We live in a society where we have separated love from life. However, I have learned that this misguided compassion is not in the best health interest of any person.

My challenge for you as a medical provider is to go back to treating the whole person. To treat their fertility as a part of who they are. Not something to be controlled or practiced. Fertility is a central part of being male or female and is a sacred part of the marriage union. When fertility is taken away you deny something very sacred to a person and to that marriage union. Do not be so quick to take that gift away.

My second challenge to you is to learn more about the whole truth of human sexuality through Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body. This is a very truthful study of who we are as persons. God always has our best health interests in mind. God knows us in a more truthful, meaningful, and healing way than we know ourselves. God truly has you and your patient’s best interests in mind. If you are willing to take that a step farther learn more about NFP (natural family planning) and help those who use this method. Many couples are choosing natural alternatives to family planning and they need your support.

Through all this I have come to realize that when I am fearful of being judged I am missing the point. There is no fear in love. We are called to love ourselves and one another; for God is love. When I am fearful I realize that I am more afraid of what others might think than doing what God desires. I have to remind myself that God is love. Fear does not come from God. Fear comes from popular, often harmful worldviews and my hesitancy to soar beyond them to find the truth. For there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, so one who fears is not yet perfect in love 1John 4:18. I have found that if I look to the love of God and seek his truth instead of trying what is popular or what my colleagues are doing I am more satisfied, more fulfilled, more content and more loved. Then I have nothing to fear.

I pray this helps as you consider the challenge to change your practice.

I also want you to know that I have forgiven you. I hope you can learn something from this personal testimony. I pray it encourages you to consider how you care for your patients.

Through the love of Christ we welcomed one more soul into our family.

Our blessed baby boy arrived May 29th 2009. He brings true joy to all who meet him.

May the Love of Christ touch the hearts of all who have shared this story with me. May it help you to understand and embrace the truth found in the love of God.

Michele Brown and her husband are now expecting their second child after her successful tubal ligation reversal in 2008. Michele hopes her story will provide a helpful insight for other women who are considering sterilization. (Re-printed with permission.)


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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