Friday, January 29, 2010

Working Out the Kinks

Since this is my first blog, I am still working out some of the formatting kinks.  As time goes on, formats and options may change, so please keep your eyes open, and let me know if you have any suggestions. 

The newest change is with comments.  I have opened up the comments (I didn't know they were limited).  Enjoy!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

UPDATE: FORMER PP wants more NFP- Time for Catholic Docs to Step Up!

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that SHAA was formerly affiliated with Planned Parenthood.  This does not change the fact that within the pro-death culture, there is an increasing awareness that NFP and FA just might be something people want and need....

In recent months, there has been new attention given to Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods in the secular world.

The pill has served for decades as a symbol of the feminist push for “reproductive freedom,” but in the most recent of the two articles, published yesterday in Canwest papers across the country, the SHAA director criticized the medical establishment for its pill-focused approach to contraception.

"What I see in our communities is an absolute failure to move beyond the idea that hormonal birth control is the be-all and end-all," said Laura Wershler. "What's happening is we're not developing support, programs and advocacy for women looking for non-hormonal methods."

"There's this lack of knowledge and understanding within my own field," Wershler continued, referring to natural methods of birth regulation that involve awareness about the woman’s reproductive cycle. "Women are going to sexual-health clinics and being laughed off by the doctors and clinics for looking for alternatives."

Featured on the homepage of SHAA's website is a link to a November 2009 Maclean’s Magazine article, describing why women are “ditching” the pill.  They point out some of the health concerns that have been raised, such as the April study from Texas A&M University that linked the pill with poor muscle growth, as well as mentioning parenthetically the research that has linked the pill with breast and cervical cancer.

Another reason for the shift away from the pill, Maclean’s says, is a greater cultural concern for natural products, as evidenced, for example, through the rise of organic produce.  “There’s an emotional identity attached to achieving your own menstrual cycle, and being able to read your body,” one woman explained. “When you’re on the pill, it’s the doctor who’s controlling your cycle. You don’t own it.”

Coming from Planned Parenthood, this is HUGE!  It is important, as Catholic physicians, to recognize that not only are there more Catholics who are using NFP but also more non-religious individuals.  It is more critical than ever to become familiarized with the various methods available to individuals.  If we are going to be able to over come the culture of death, we must first convince individuals that artificial contraception is simply not the solution.  To find out more about the history and damage of contraception, see Janet Smith's Contraception: Why Not?.

As Catholic medical professionals, we have an obligation to know how we can better serve our patients in this area of medicine.  So I encourage you to take the time and find out more.  My wife and I have become NFP instructors with the Couple to Couple League, and we are simply thrilled.  So, please, check out the links!

Here are some useful links:
• BILLINGS Ovulation Method:
and Creighton Fertility Care
• SYMPTO-THERMAL at Couple to Couple League:
CyclePro Charting:

More posts on this topic will DEFINITELY follow!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Being the Minority" or "On Catholic Identity"

Two years into my medical career and the pressure is already intense.  No, not the pressure of being able to make the diagnosis or pass that exam, but rather the pressure to conform.  As a 24 year old, white male in medical school, I am the minority.  How can this be you ask? Well, it is because I desire to be a Catholic who is faithful to the Creed he professes, faithful to the Magisterium to whom he pledges obedience, and faithful to all that the Church stands for.  In short, I desire to identify myself as Catholic in every aspect of my life.  No picking or choosing, no cafeteria Catholicism.  I simply want to be 'Catholic'.  This means that as a husband, I am Catholic; as a father, I am Catholic; as a medical student and later a physician, I am a Catholic. 

Of course, in the field of medicine, this continuously places me into a state of conflict with other individuals.  Simply by claiming and defending the legitimate Catholic position, I have been attacked and called many names.  It has been unfortunate, but this is the state of my existence.  Moreover, some of the greatest opposition I have faced has been from fellow Catholics in my class.

Having an opinion that differs from another individual in my class is not a bad thing, per se.  At times there is opportunity for fruitful dialogue.  Moreover, I have great respect for an individual who has thought through their positions and remain consistent in what they say and how they act.  However, when I encounter an individual who claims to be Catholic and yet is emphatic and extremely vocal about their support for contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia I am flabbergasted.  I am not going to explore in this post how such a person can be intellectually honest, rather I want to discuss the pragmatics of this situation.

In my class of 180 students, I have been lucky enough to have found about 5 individuals who desire to take their Catholic faith seriously.  This does not mean that there are not others in my class, but I have not encountered them after a year and a half of trying.  I do know that there are at least 30 other Catholics in my class, probably more.  Moreover, I know that there is a reasonably vocal portion of those individuals who use the name Catholic and yet still hold to positions contrary to the Catholic faith.  Some might say "No big deal, so they are bad Catholics."  And yet, it is this attitude that has destroyed Catholic medicine.  As the numbers of people in this category rise, it becomes more and more difficult for faithful Catholics to maintain their freedom to practice medicine as Catholics.  When I am on the floor, doing my OB/GYN rotation and I have to tell my attending that I am unwilling to participate in abortions, sterilization, and artificial contraception, what am I suppose to say when they tell me "So and so is Catholic and he has no problem doing those things..."?  Or worse, what do I do when my attending says "I am Catholic and I don't see any problem with those things..."?  And thus, I am the minority.  The number of individuals who seek to practice faithful medicine is much smaller than the crowd of those people who use the name Catholic and yet support immoral actions.  Due to this, we have situations like Martha Coakley in Massachussets who claimed that if individuals could not prescribe emergency contraception in the emergency room because of their religious beliefs, then they should not work in the ER.  And would you believe it? Martha Coakley calls herself Catholic!

There is but one solution to this problem.  We must reassert our Catholic identity, particularly in medicine.  As Catholic physicians, we need to know our faith inside and out so that we can defend ourselves against the pro-death onslaught.  Catholics have been at the forefront of medicine since the Church was born (thank you St. Luke, Saints Cosmas and Damian, and many others), and this is particularly true in the United States where many of the first and later finest hospitals were established by the Catholic Church.  Today there are over 600 Catholic hospitals in this country, and yet we see our ability to practice medicine as faithful Catholics slipping away because a majority of the Church will not stand up against the culture of death.  We must reclaim our identity and proclaim it in every aspect of our life.  In that way, people will know that we do intend to practice medicine, and yes, as faithful Catholics.  If we continue to do this, the minority may just become the majority.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Retooling Part II

Welcome to the new "The Catholic Medical Student"

I have been working with Patrick and the Catholic Medical Student Association for the past year and I am excited to be taking over this blog.  I have been working as the vice president of communications for the CMSA, which essentially means I am in charge of the quarterly newsletter.   During the Catholic Medical Association Annual Conference last October, I had an opportunity to speak with several other students, and the idea of revamping this blog and bringing it up to speed was born.

There are two main purposes of this blog.  The first is to create a place where ethical questions pertinent to Catholic medical students can be addressed.  The second purpose is for this to be a place where current events can be commented on from the perspective of a Catholic medical student. 

I encourage readers to email questions or comments, and hopefully in the future we can expand the list of contributors.  So in the coming days, please watch for new posts.  I will be trying to keep a decent pace, at least with some commentary on current events.  God bless!

Friday, January 22, 2010



Well it's official: I am too busy to do justice to a blog of this nature. Too many months go by before I even think of posting. This cannot abide. Hence, some friends of mine from the Catholic Medical Students Association will be taking over this blog so you can use it to keep up-to-date about issues important to Catholic medical students and join the conversation.  After all, that's really what I intended this blog to be anyway.

I am starting residency in Ob/Gyn in July at Wright Patterson AFB/Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH. I am very excited. Thank you for reading. I am leaving you in the very capable hands of my friend and colleague, Brian Burke (University of Toledo COM MS-II) and VP of Communications for the CMSA.

Please keep me in your prayers. You can always contact me at

In Christ,

Patrick C. Beeman
President, Catholic Medical Students Association
University of Toledo College of Medicine, MS-IV