“Would you quit bringing your beautiful children to my office? Someone always wants a reversal (from tubal ligation) after you leave.”
Finally, A Pro-Life Doctor
A few friends urged me to check out their family doctor who also delivered babies, Dr. Owen Hughes. At my first appointment, he naturally asked me why I was leaving my obstetrician after she had delivered four of my children.
I slumped slightly and then sighed, “I just can’t face my old obstetrician with a sixth pregnancy.”
“And who is this doctor?” he questioned.
I answered, “Actually it was Dr. E.”
Well, Dr. Hughes threw his head back and started to laugh, “Leslie is a good obstetrician. However, although she owns a parrot, tropical fish, and expensive horses, she doesn’t have any kids. I can understand your problem.”
I nervously joined his laughter and from that very first visit, I no longer had to don protective armour to shield my vulnerable emotions before each obstetrical appointment. It was the beginning of a wonderful 24-year friendship with a dedicated health care provider.
Dr. Hughes is a pro-life doctor who lives out the teachings of the Church with a joyful, compassionate dedication:
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.
From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.71
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.72
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depthsof the earth.73
Obviously, my husband and I practiced Natural Family Planning, NFP, but I was one of those rare people who could conceive long before ovulation. When I was astonished that I was pregnant yet again, Dr. Hughes responded,
“Ah, I remember reading about a woman in New Zealand, two years ago, who conceived five days before ovulation.”
I raised my hand and chirped, “Well, you can add me to that list!”
It was a good thing I finally had a pro-life doctor because two of the next four pregnancies were high risk. That meant weekly ultrasounds and check-ups with the high-risk doctor at the hospital. I checked in every week after my appointment in the high-risk unit with Dr. Hughes.
He often waited after office hours to get his weekly update, explaining,
“They would love to get their hands on you. Don’t let them touch you without checking in with me first!”
For one pregnancy, I had Polyhydramnios, a condition where there is excessive amniotic fluid. One cause is fetal abnormality but Dr. Hughes refused to allow amniocentesis, a medical procedure used for a prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities. Dr. Hughes said there was no reason for AFT because abortion was out of the question for both of us. In the end, the baby was completely normal. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, caredfor, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.
Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual….It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”
I was protected from an impersonal system by a doctor who treated me as an individual and valued the life of each unborn baby in his care. Let’s pray for vocations not just to the priesthood but to medicine as well because people also need Catholic men and women who have a vocation to protect and support people in our healthcare system.
Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau