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KANSAS CITY, Kansas, September 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann commissioned a study of the health risks of hormonal contraception, producing a thoroughly researched statement warning of the pill’s harmful effects.

Naumann said he wanted an examination of the birth control pill’s health effects in light of this year’s 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which predicted the dire societal consequences that would result with acceptance of contraception. Naumann is also the head of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life efforts.

“With the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, I asked the Ethics Council to investigate what we know scientifically now about the health impact of oral contraceptives that we did not know 50 years ago,” Archbishop Naumann told LifeSiteNews. “I also felt that a statement about these health concerns would be better received coming from medical professionals.”

Promulgated July 25, 1968, Humanae Vitae warned that if society rejected God’s plan for marital love and transmission of life and embraced contraception, it would result in an increase in marital infidelity, a general lowering of morality, a growing disrespect for women and coercive measures by governments to impose contraception on their citizens. All of those predictions have come to fruition.

Several dozen Catholic physicians and healthcare providers in the archdiocese signed the letter, which articulates many of the health risks associated with hormonal contraception. 

The archdiocese’s Ethics Advisory Council, a body formed almost four years ago by Naumann, put the document out. In addition to physicians and healthcare ethicists, the Council is comprised of clergy and the archdiocese’s pro-life director.

“The Ethics Council is chartered to advise me on ethical issues and in particular issues relating to medical ethics and how to best communicate the Church’s teaching,” Naumann told LifeSiteNews. “They are also to assist with the formation of Catholics in the medical profession.”  

The Council has also worked on developing education materials for Catholics on end-of-life issues, and advised the archbishop on the ethical use of vaccines that have been derived from tissue of aborted babies and other ethical issues surrounding vaccines.

It was a tremendously big project to cover, Council Chair and lead physician on the project Dr. Patrick Herrick told LifeSiteNews. Herrick said he’d seen it done poorly in the past and so had some apprehension. Additionally, the Council would be going up against experts that people tend to listen to.

The group began looking at various papers on contraception early this year, and Herrick said once they began, it led to subsequent rounds of reviews, and in the end, a well-researched document.

Approaching this from a Catholic perspective meant keeping the moral element present throughout along with the scientific, and trust in God’s providence.

“It’s interesting that you can see God’s hand at work.”

Risks of contraception ‘have only become more evident’

Herrick brought the statement to the local Catholic Medical Association (CMA); thus, many of the physician signatures are from members of the CMA Guild.

The final statement was covered in the archdiocesan newspaper The Leaven.

“Certain voices have been propagating the narrative that hormonal contraception has health benefits beyond pregnancy prevention,” the letter’s introduction states. “While we do not pretend to know their motives for doing so, we do want to share our judgment on the scientific merit of such assertions.”

“We Catholic health care providers and biological scientists are motivated to speak to you, the people of the church, by our desire for the truth,” it continues. “You have not been adequately informed of the health risks from contraceptive hormones. In the last decade, these risks have become only more evident, with important new and increasingly substantial findings.”

The letter breaks down stats on the breast cancer risk associated with the pill, along with the cervical cancer risk. It also discusses risks for blood clots, heart attacks, strokes,  depression, and suicide, and points out that claims of a hormonal contraception health benefit are not backed by strong evidence.

For example, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), a randomized trial is the best way to prove a treatment’s health benefits.

However, the Catholic physicians’ letter says contraception’s most noted physician proponents, in their best claim of a non-contraceptive health benefit — which is preventing ovarian cancer — have no randomized studies among the 25 cited to support their claim.

Another example concerns the issue of the number of subjects in a study.

Typically, the more subjects in a study, the more trustworthy its results. In the AMA psychiatric journal, a review of 13 studies published since 1995 examining the link between hormonal contraception and depression found that all of the studies that did not show a link between the two had fewer than 10,000 subjects. All of the studies with more than 10,000 subjects showed the hormonal contraception-depression link.

“This is something where the more you learn, the more you say, ‘I should have known,’” Herrick told LifeSiteNews. “We just want people to know this is an area where women are not hearing everything they need to know to make decisions.”

Contraception ‘disrupts the normal behavior of a healthy bodily function’

The letter’s conclusion expresses the often-ignored fact that fertility is not a disease in need of a cure, and that introducing hormonal contraception into a woman’s body opens the door to harmful side effects.

“Most other medical treatments aim to fix something in the body that is broken,” it states. “HC disrupts the normal behavior of a healthy bodily function. It stands to reason that bodily disruption, more so than disease treatment, is likely to have unwanted side effects.”

“Considering recent scientific evidence,” it adds, “we find it remarkably prescient what Pope St. John Paul II, when he was still a bishop, said in 1960: ‘Contraceptives are of their very nature harmful to health.’”

A Catholic approach to medicine also means a focus on facts and the truth.

“We think the public needs to know,” said Herrick. “We think it’s a public health issue.”


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