Health-care professionals from the Diocese of Knoxville were briefed on the latest advancements in Natural Family Planning on April 5 by Sister Marie Paul Lockerd, RSM, DO, who was invited by the diocese’s St. Luke Guild of East Tennessee to lead a conference at St. Albert the Great Church in Knoxville.
Sister Marie Paul was joined by Knoxville physician Dr. Michael Carlson in discussing proven methods and emerging science in Natural Family Planning.
Sister Marie Paul’s medical practice is in Jackson, Minn., where she specializes in family medicine. Dr. Carlson also is a family-medicine specialist with Summit Medical Group.
In her presentation, “Natural Family Planning: Overcoming Original Sin With Grace,” Sister Marie Paul introduced a method for working with married couples practicing Natural Family Planning to assist them in coming to a deeper understanding of God’s design of the gift of self within marriage.
“Blessed John Paul II repeatedly invited couples to trust in God and to experience the joy of mutual self-gift within marriage. His teachings came to be known as the ‘Theology of the Body,’” she said.
Sister Marie Paul discussed in detail advancements in NaPro Technology, or Natural Procreative Technology, that monitors and maintains a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health and offered statistics on how effective this science, using the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, is in enabling women to get pregnant, or avoid getting pregnant. She said advancements in this science of Natural Family Planning are within the Catholic Church’s teaching on reproductive health.
She also provided results of studies that show increasing links between abortion and breast cancer and the more estrogen that a woman is exposed to in her lifetime, the higher her risk for breast cancer. Greater than normal exposure to estrogen can come in the forms of birth control pills and postmenopausal hormone replacement.
She pointed out that scientific research shows that estrogen has two effects on breast tissue—DNA mutation during cell proliferation, and it acts directly as a carcinogen.
She said research also shows that since 1975, the risk of breast cancer has increased 400 percent in premenopausal women and that there is a 44 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer in women who took the pill before having a child.
And she cited a 2007 United Nations International Agency on Research of Cancer report that said estrogen-progestin combination birth control pills were a group 1 carcinogen for breast, cervical and liver cancers as well as a 2010 World Health Organization report that found combined estrogen-progesterone birth control pills have been declared a group 1 carcinogen.
While those reports proved sobering, studies also have shown that childbirth and breast-feeding are effective in preventing breast cancer, which tied in with the Natural Family Planning research.
Dr. Carlson, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, discussed how he modified his practice by strictly following Church teachings on the sanctity of life. This included following Church teachings on contraception, sterilization, abortion and end-of-life issues.
Dr. Carlson was concerned about the reaction of his partners and patients, but said both groups have supported his decision.
The Natural Family Planning conference was the latest in a series of seminars the St. Luke Guild of East Tennessee is sponsoring for health-care professionals across the diocese.
The St. Luke Guild is an organization of Catholic health-care professionals within the diocese, and its mission is to provide a means for those health-care professionals to live out their vocation by applying the art and science of the healing professions to the glory of God in the region.