PRO-LIFE OB/GYN FOLLOWS HIS HEART, CONSCIENCE
The following interview originally appeared in The Truth of Champions, a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to rebuilding the family and Christian civilization. It is published by editor James Louviere of Lafayette, LA. While this article is longer than usual for our magazine, it is a fascinating look at the long, sometimes difficult journey Dr. Kim Hardey has chosen in deciding to follow his heart and Church teachings in his medical practice. Dr. Hardey is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in Lafayette, a CCL Teacher, and a member of our Medical Advisory Board.
James: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Dr. Hardey: Here's a quick history: I married my wife, Bonnie, in 1979. I became a doctor, an Ob/Gyn, in 1985. In 1987 we left our first home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and moved to Dothan, Alabama and lived there for seven years. Bonnie and I have been blessed with four pregnancies, but have only two living children.
James: When did you come to Lafayette, and what brought you here?
Dr. Hardey: We came to Lafayette about a year ago [December, 1993]. I had made a decision at that time to change my practice somewhat radicallyI had decided to quit prescribing the pill, and all contraceptives for that matter, and to quit doing tubal ligationsand I felt it was important for me, for financial and spiritual reasons, to look for a new community to set up my practice. I called my mother, who lives in Lafayette, and I asked her for the name of the local person in charge of teaching Natural Family Planning. She gave me the names of Doug and Imelda Touchet, and everything worked out from there.
James: Why did you feel that you had to move?
Dr. Hardey: In Alabama I felt there just weren't enough Catholics in general, and conservative Catholics in particular, to support an Ob/Gyn who had chosen, for matters of conscience, not to prescribe contraceptives. I had to find a place where there were lots of people who supported the Church's teaching in this matter. I believe I've found that place in Acadiana [south central Louisiana].
James: Tell us briefly what "Natural Family Planning" is and why the church allows it.
Dr. Hardey: A woman's body has been made by God to be fertile only during a certain part of each month. By learning to observe carefully her body's monthly changes, she and her husband can know with a relatively high degree of certainty when they are capable of getting pregnant. If they are seeking to postpone a pregnancy, they can avoid sexual relations during this time; and, if they are seeking to achieve a pregnancy, they can enjoy sexual relations at this time. The Church allows this, of course, because this, to put it simply, is perfectly "natural." Nothing has been done to the act itself to destroy its life-giving potential. The couple is simply enjoying the time that God has allowed to nature when it is not in a life giving mode. On the other hand, to artificially block nature when it is in a life giving mode is to take advantage of an unnatural situation, which God, for good reason, has forbidden.
James: What is your mission?
Dr. Hardey: First, to make Church teaching in this area better known and better accepted. Second, I want my career "experiment," if I can call it that, to be a reasonable success financially; not so much for my sakealthough, of course, I do have to provide for my familybut for the sake of other doctors, who might be persuaded to give it a try also if they felt that they could adopt this approach and still provide for their families.
James: How many of your Ob/Gyn colleagues take a no-contraceptives position as you have?
Dr. Hardey: Not many at all, unfortunately. A year ago, I knew of only six in the whole country. The good news, however, is that more seem to be following this same path; I learned that seven more made the switch in 1994. Still, only thirteen or so is not nearly as many as it should be or could be. There are, after all about 40,000 Ob/Gyns in the country and that's not counting all the GPs and others who are able to prescribe birth control pills.
James: Well, how has your career "experiment" worked out for you?
Dr. Hardey: Very well. I don't make as much money as I could make, or as much as I did make, but I sleep a lot better at night and my conscience is clear, and that's important to me.
James: Were you always pro-life and anti-contraception? What was your opinion about these issues in your early years as a doctor?
Dr. Hardey: Quite worldly, I hate to admit. I frequently prescribed the pill and did tubal ligations for my patients, and Bonnie and I used contraception in our marriage from the beginning. In fact my wife got pregnant for the first time when we were on the pill. This, to respond now to the first part of your question caused me to clarify my stand on abortion. Before that first pregnancywhich was a surprise, and I was still in med. schoolI didn't really have an opinion about abortion. A friend of mine at the time suggested, "Why don't you have an abortion?" and I thought about itfor just a half secondbecause, thank God, my wife was standing there, and she said "No way." When that baby was born, I became pro-life instantly. Ironically, this was the same child that would later get hit by a car and die.
James: Can you tell us about that?
Dr. Hardey: Bonnie and I had two children at that time, Jennifer, who was seven, and Brad, who was nine. He was on a school field trip. He and his friends were eating lunch in a park, when he crossed the street and was hit by a car. He passed away later that day. He was a great kid, and we miss him a lot.
James: I understand his death influenced your position about abortion and contraception.
Dr. Hardey: Abortion is so evil for lots of reasons. The primary reason, of course, is that the baby, and God's will for that baby was never allowed to blossom; never allowed to live out his or her life; to learn about God and learn to love Him; to build a career or friendships; to get married and have children; or even to become a priest or nun. Another reason that abortion is so evil is that you never know how God may have planned to use that difficult pregnancy, and the baby's life, to influence your life. You will never know the graces that God may have planned for you to flow from that cross into your life. Consider for a moment any woman who has had an abortion. By taking the easy way out, she has sidestepped what would have surely been a magnificently rich journey through life with her little child, if she would have chosen to raise him or her. Or, if she would have chosen instead to place the child in an adoptive family, she would have been personally enriched with the confidence that she faced a challenge head on, and she would also have the precious knowledge that her generosity has incalculably enriched another family's life. God, after all, is the Creator and Governor of the universe, not us. God knows best how to make us saints. To accomplish this job, He usually sends to us, along the way, many and varied crosses. Sometimes it may take the form of a sickness, or financial problems, or the death of a child you have grown to love deeply. I know in my case, my son's death has had more to do with my conversion than anything else that has ever happened to me.
James: Tell us more about that.
Dr. Hardey: Prior to Brad's death, I was a good Catholicfrom all outward appearances. Our family had been Catholic Family of the Year, I was president of the Parish Council, I was a Eucharistic minister, a lector, and a member of the Parish Finance Committee. My wife and I accepted everything that the Church taughtexcept for the teaching on birth control.
James: To interrupt you for a second, was this attitude typical of your friends and neighbors?
Dr. Hardey: We were living in Dothan at the time and belonged to St. Columba parish. Of the 800 families there, only about two, as far as I could tell, practiced Natural Family Planning, among all these Catholics! So I guess we were fairly typical. Brad's death, though, and the pain it caused us, somehow made me realize how selfish I had been. You know, when you have two kids, and both are alive, everything seems OK. But when you lose one, you say, "Oh, I wish I had more kids now in my home..." Also, and I can't fully explain it, but his death gave me an intense hunger for heaven. I really wanted to go, then! It dawned on me that I really needed to be sure that I didn't put any obstacles in the way of me going to heaven. For me to use birth control with my wife was now out of the question. All of a sudden the whole issue was crystal clear. The night he died, in fact, we threw away the diaphragm we had been using.
James: Was it crystal clear that it was a sin? Or was it clear that birth control had been a bad choice in light of the pain you were feeling over the loss of your son?
Dr. Hardey: I guess a little of both. My wife had been struggling with this issue for years, but she figured that I, an Ob/Gyn and giving out pills, must know what I was doing, and so she put up with it. After all, how could she tell me that birth control was wrong for our marriage when I was prescribing these measures for my patients? The night when my son died, we both agreed that this had been a terrible mistake, that we hadn't been living up to the Catholic life. Things just became very clear. It didn't take a lecture. It didn't take a book. It was like: "I can see now. This is all making sense to me." We threw away the diaphragm forever, and never used it again. And never looked back.
James: Forgive me for saying that it sounds odd to address such an issue so close to such a loss, in the midst of the numbness and the pain.
Dr. Hardey: I can't explain it, except to say that it was an issue we felt we had to address. When most parents lose a child, I believe, they immediately ask themselves: "What have I done wrong? What is it about my life that made God feel that He should allow this to happen to me?" I was already pro-life, I was even a lecturer for abstinence. I'm a sinner in many ways, but it became obvious to me that birth control was my most glaring sin. Maybe that's your answer.
James: In speaking with you it's apparent that you consider abortion and birth control related. All of my readers, I hope, are against abortion. I'm not sure, however, if all of them are against birth control. What can you tell the fence sitters to convince them to re-examine this issue?
Dr. Hardey: First let me say that abortion and birth control are related. Every society in history that tolerated contraception soon tolerated abortion. The reason is simple: as soon as you adopt an anti-child attitudewhich is essentially what happens with contraceptionthen you have to have a backup plan when contraception fails, and it fails frequently. Christian societies always had a deep respect for life, and considered, as many cultures did, children to be a blessing from God, as indeed they are. What can I tell the fence sitters? The first thing we all need to do, of course, is pray. Only grace will change hearts. But sound logic also helps, and I would say that they must come to grips with the fact that Jesus founded a Church, and designated that Church to be his visible authority on earth. It is the "Pillar of Truth," and so we have to trust it for every answer to the questions of our lives. It may not appear this way, but contraception affects very deeply the individual, the family, and society, and so it is an important "question of our lives."
James: Why do you think people have such a problem with obeying the Church?
Dr. Hardey: I guess all of us have a tendency to feel that we know what's best for us. This is really saying, however, that we know better than God, and God's agent on earth, the Church. At the root, we probably have our pride to blame. You know, people can't seem to understand how the pope can be infallible, and yet they don't hesitate to appoint themselves pope. That's really what it means, you know, to take upon yourself the responsibility of judging what Jesus requires of us. The fact is that the Church, with its full authority, has always condemned contraception as a sin. This means that Jesus, the Son of God, who has the right to tell us what to do, says that birth control is forbidden. We're talking about something serious here, and we can't just think that God is going to be unconcerned about this area of our lives when we face Him on judgement day, especially when we consider all of the horrible problems that contraception has given us.
James: What are some of those problems?
Dr. Hardey: We could talk for hours about them, but I'll just mention four areas briefly. They all impact the family, and therefore society. The first bad fruit I've already mentioned is abortion. The second is an increase in the divorce rate and broken families. Widespread use of contraception makes it far easier than in previous times for husbands and wives to cheat on each other, which destroys trust, which can destroy the marriage. Thirdly, it can destroy each partner's respect for the other. Without the rich dimension and rich meaning that children give to sex, the husband and wife are reduced to being simply a tool for the other's pleasure. This is especially a problem for men, who begin to view their wife as only a sex object. Hasn't this happened today more than ever before? Pope Paul VI explicitly predicted this would happen in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Fourthly, I'll lump two sins together: pre-marital sex and homosexuality. When young people know their "Christian" moms and dads are contracepting, they say to themselves "Mom and Dad can enjoy the pleasure of sex without the responsibility of children, why can't I do the same?" And you know, they're right! Why wait for marriage? The primary purpose, after all, of creating a permanent married state is to provide a stable environment for the raising of children. And why even insist that sex only be between male and female? Some people enjoy male-male or female-female sex. If sex is not to be fundamentally open to children, then people who engage in premarital sex or homosexual sex have a valid reason to charge hypocrisy when Christian married people who are contracepting preach that fornication and homosexual sex are sins. All of us need to learn to lead as Jesus leads: by example.
James: So, we've established that contraception is against the law of God, and is responsible for many of the problems that face society. Is contraceptive sex a healthy way of life. physically, for the individual?
Dr. Hardey: Much can be said about this, but I'll simply say this: the male and female bodies have a powerful biological tendency towards the creation of life, and it takes powerful drugs and chemicals to block that tendency. These drugs, in my opinion, can have an unhealthy effect on the body. Just read the warning label that comes with the birth control pill. It reads like a complicated contract. In addition to sometimes causing health complications, these chemicals can change the body, and may make it more difficult to later achieve a "wanted" pregnancy.
James: What are the spiritual features and positive features of the Catholic teaching on sex and life?
Dr. Hardey: The Catholic way of life involves being as generous with life as you can be. After all, we are talking about bringing into the world new worshipers and lovers of God, who will live with Himif they cooperate with His gracein heaven for all eternity.
James: What are your impressions of the families that do obey the Church in this area of their lives?
Dr. Hardey: They are the most wonderful people you would ever want to know. I often give speeches, and these people are often in the groups. They are a friendly audience and I love them. Many of them are also my patients. That's where I really get to know them and admire them. The ones who impress me the most are the ordinary income earners, who, nevertheless, are working on baby number six or seven. All the while they are completely trusting that God will meet their needs. They are generous with God and I always note that God is generous with them. To me, they are the real heroes of our culture.
James: Besides life, what do these parents give to their children? In what kind of environment are these children raised, versus the children of a contracepting couple?
Dr. Hardey: That's a good question. First let me make a distinction. In my mind, there are three groups of married couples. First: those who do not obey God's law regarding birth control; second: those who obey it, but, for legitimate reasons, postpone childrenthrough natural means that God allowsthat is, through Natural Family Planning. The third group are those parents who take no steps to postpone children, but celebrate their marriage and trust that God will properly space the children and provide the resources to raise them. Many people call this last group "Super-Natural Family Planners", which is a good name, but I call them Providentialists. I'll contrast the first group with the last two, but the ideal, in my book, is the last group; the Providentialists. They demonstrate the ultimate in trust, the ultimate in faith, and of course, they pass on this faith to their kids. I have only a few Providentialist families in my practice. Most of my patients and friends are NFP users, and are using NFP for good reason to space their children. In these last two types of families I see that the kids learn early in life to pray and to look to God for their answers. The kids are much more likely to feel needed, and to find their way to contribute to the family. An older brother or sister will learn to help a younger one to get ready for church, or help the mom clean up, 'cause it won't get done any other way. Contracepting couples, on the other hand, tend to miss out on many of these same opportunities. This seems unimportant, but it's the stuff that forms character and habits that will last a lifetime. With contracepting couples, and assuming that the parents are otherwise decent parents, the kids learn to love, but it's just not to the same degree. The kids, instead of being the ones who serve, turn out often times to be the ones who are served, which is not the order that God established. Besides, it's not even healthy for the kids, and it often makes them expect a lot more, materially, from the parents. I know everything I've said here is a little simplistic, but it's generally true, and I've seen it in my kids and in other families that we hang around with.
James: Have you had much contact with families who now regret that they have used contraception in the past? How do they feel about it now?
Dr. Hardey: Yes, I know many people who have changed their minds and repented. Now, they are grateful that they have been shown that it was wrong, even if they discovered it a little late. Let's face it, it's the rare couple indeed that has not practiced contraception at some time or another. Let's also face the fact that for many it wasn't their fault, because no one told them it was wrong. Even priests, many times, will be very ambiguous about the issue when asked, and, in the end, often say it is up to the couple to decide. Which, of course, isn't true.
James: Why do you think they say that?
Dr. Hardey: Priests, just like the rest of us, can be afraid to hurt people's feelings, or afraid that they are going to scare people away. In some cases, the priests were trained poorly in the seminaries, and they really don't know or understand what the Church teaches. The Church, however, has spoken very clearly on this issue, and the documents that prove it can be read by anybody.
James: What are the names of the documents?
Dr. Hardey: In modern times the Church has issued at least six authoritative documents. The most important ones were the encyclicals: <Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae> (<On Christian Marriage>), issued by Leo XIII in 1880; <Casti Connubii> (also known as <On Christian Marriage>) issued by Pius XI in 1930, and <Humanae Vitae> (<Of Human Life>) issued by Paul VI in 1968. In addition, there is the Vatican <Declaration on Certain Questions of Sexual Ethics>, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1974, and the <Vatican Declaration on Abortion>, issued by the same Congregation in 1976. There was also the Apostolic Exhortation, <Familiaris Consortio>, issued by John Paul II in 1980. Remember, too, that Pope John Paul II mentions and condemns contraception on almost every trip he takes. He knows and feels deeply about the bad effects of contraception.
James: What responsibility do you think the priests bear for the state of confusion that we live in on this issue?
Dr. Hardey: I don't really think about that very much. For one thing, I don't walk in their shoes. I'm sure that a lot of priests have tried talking about it, only to have a myriad of complaints from their parishioners. I will say, however, that I would personally be afraid to face God if I had been a priest who only talked about the things that I liked; who only talked about love and mercy, etc., but avoided the difficult topics because I was afraid that I might upset people. Jesus didn't back down when the crowds were against him. We are called to live out this same kind of love and courage.
James: What would you say to the priests to inspire them to speak more about this topic?
Dr. Hardey: For one thing, I would remind them that at least they live in a part of the country where the majority of the people in the pews really want to hear the truth, and most will support the priests who preach it. In many parts of the country, you can't say that. For instance in Alabama where I come from, there just weren't many Catholics, and those who were Catholic were not nearly as strong in their faith as the people of South Louisiana. The priests can easily get away with a lot more here. Also, I would tell them that their people need to hear this message. I think that all pastors would agree that all parishes, even the best, could stand an even greater increase in faith; could stand to increase their commitment to Christ. Natural Family Planning is a treatment for that. Being able to trust God for a large family, being able to trust God, month to month, without doing anything mechanical to prevent conception, builds faith. So, if you want to see a new evangelization of your parish, Natural Family Planning is the best way that I know to get there. And by promoting it, and having couples learn that they can trust God, you'll see a stronger church, you'll see a holier church, you'll see a more Catholic church. That's what the priests want, they just may not be aware that this is a good way to get there.
James: Do you have any specific suggestions for the priest on how to approach the topic from the pulpit?
Dr. Hardey: I guess the best approach is to start gently. One week, when addressing another topic, they could mention birth control as an example of selfishness. Some time later, they could mention it in a different context, as an example of defiance to God's will. Soon, after they've softened people up a bit, they could come out with an entire sermon dedicated to a more complete analysis of the birth control issue in all of its aspects. I think if a priest who had never talked about it before just walked in one Sunday and said "OK you guys, throw away your pills, we're talking about birth control tonight. . . ," or "You're all going to hell unless you throw away your pills..," he'd probably turn a bunch of people off. You have to take into consideration that we have been living for several years in a state of apostasy from the truth on this issue, and so, it is important to gently, yet steadily, urge people back on the road to Christ. Eventually, however, I believe he must address with his people the fact that contraception is against the law of God, and that punishment will follow from willful disobedience.
James: Is persuading them a matter of convincing the mind or the heart?
Dr. Hardey: Certainly both. Surprisingly, people do respond to a case made convincingly and logically. Catholics who are faced with the facts simply don't have a good answer. There just isn't a good comeback to justify birth control when you look at what it's done to our culture. It's inexcusable. But even more importantly, I believe the priest should stress the beauty of a life lived in obedience to God in this important area. God, after all, is the one who, more than any other person, wants you to have a good marriage. He wants you to have a holy life. He wants you to walk in faith. When you take birth control pills, or have a vasectomy, or whatever you do, you abandon this life lived in intimacy with God.
James: Do you bring up the topic often with friends and patients, and, if so, what reaction do you get?
Dr. Hardey: I bring it up frequently, and I haven't had anybody get mad at me yet, at least not to my face. I try to explain the beauty of it; that it is a part of discipleship. Let's face it; even if they reject your words for the moment, later, they may play back to them. Maybe when their marriage is not doing so well, or maybe in a moment of crisis, then they may be very grateful for your words.
James: So far, weve been talking about rules, and law, and the beauty of a life lived for God. What can you say about the fact that God's way means, often, more children? What does one more new life mean to you?
Dr. Hardey: Ultimately, it means, as I said before, that you will be creating, with God, a potential worshipper of God, for all eternity! We really have to keep this reality in perspective. You have to be able to look past the diapers, and the 2:00 a.m. feedings. You have to keep in mind that this little soul is going to be in heaven one day. If we do our part, and he or she does his part and cooperates with God's grace, then a million years from now this little soul is going to be enjoying Jesus, and he never would have gotten there had I not been willing to make room for one more baby at the table, to go though one more pregnancy, and varicose veins, or any of the other complications that go along with pregnancy. I know this sounds philosophical, and I'll admit that I never saw kids like thatuntil I lost one. All of us need to think more about life in this way. None of us appreciates as we should the fact that each day could be our last one. My son didn't wake up that Thursday and say "This is my last day, Dad. I'm not going to get to go to school tomorrow." He didn't know what was going to happen to him that day. It's important for all of us to treat each day like it could be our last, as we try to fulfill whatever plan God has for us. We have to look at babies the same way. We know that God is pro-baby. We know that He is eager to bring babies into the world, and especially eager to place them in loving Christian homes.
James: How has Bonnie made it through all of this. What have you learned of a woman's ability to love and to accept suffering?
Dr. Hardey: Bonnie has carried several crosses, and carried them with great love. Exactly a year before Brad's death, Bonnie's brother, who was 24 at the time, died from cancer. It came up all of a sudden; he was dead in six months. Then, when Brad died, we got pregnant about four months later, and that baby died about half way through the pregnancy. All of this has taken a little toll on her. But, she is a lot stronger. She's a lot tougher than I ever knew. Through it all she never doubted her faith. If anything, she became more persnickety that we had to change our lives.
After my son's death, we started using NFP, but I continued to give out pills and tie tubes for two or three more years. Bonnie was the one who really convinced me to stop "doing this to your patients" as she put it. She's really been solid as a rock; willing to give up her friends, the fancy house that we were living in, and the big income we were making, and to come over here, start from scratch, and not even know if it would work. She has continually grown closer to God, and more sure that we are doing the right thing.
James: What have the people of Louisiana meant to you?
Dr. Hardey: I have received a tremendous reception from the people of Louisiana, probably better than I deserve. Most Catholics are glad I'm here. I've been here almost 11 months now. I've had many Protestant patients also, who are eager to learn new ways to serve God, and, at any rate, happy to be coming to a doctor who is pro-baby. That's really been a surprise; I was really expecting to have a 100% Catholic practice.
James: Tell us more about the Catholic versus the Protestant response to your practice.
Dr. Hardey: The main difference, I believe, is that Protestants listen with great interest to the arguments in favor of NFP, and then may say, "Yes, that makes sense... and God would probably like that better...," but they won't feel under any moral obligation to live by it. They're not as quick as a Catholic to operate from a desire to eliminate sin from their life, because, as most Protestants, I believe, would put it, they feel more under grace than under law. Most Catholics I deal with are operating from a different level or different type of conversion. Many of them have made a Cursillo, and they are very keen in rooting out all sin from their lives. A Catholic on the road to conversion, who becomes convinced that contraception is a mortal sin, will stop immediately, no matter what the personal sacrifice. They don't want anything to destroy or even diminish that new life of grace in their soul. The Protestant will simply see this as a new way to be more pleasing to God.
James: I've always felt that Protestants, when they finally see the truth in this area, will be a big help in undoing some of the damage that the devil has done.
Dr. Hardey: A lot of rebuilding must occur. Remember that all Protestant churches prior to 1930 agreed with the Catholic church that contraception was an "unspeakable evil". Beginning with the Anglicans in 1930, all Protestant churches have now abandoned this position and forgotten what their ancestors believed. Frankly, I would ask my Protestant friends to search the Scripture; they will certainly not find any evidence at all that the Bible is in favor of contraception. On the contrary, God clearly commands us to "be fruitful and multiply." Also, there are passages that condemn contraception; the most striking reference is Genesis 38:9, where Onan was killed by God for practicing contraception with Tamar. On a more positive note, however, I have high hopes that the whole birth control issue will actually be a great source of unity in the future between Catholics and Protestants. Not a few Protestants, several of them quite famous, have been led to join the Catholic Church after having been convinced of the wisdom and beauty of the Catholic Church's correct understanding of God's plan for sex.
James: My second to last question is a tough one. You said earlier that most of your colleagues in the medical profession continue to prescribe contraceptives. Do you believe they have a moral obligation to stop?
Dr. Hardey: That is a tough question. I've researched the topic fairly extensively, and I just can't come to any other conclusion except to say that I believe it is morally wrong for a Catholic physician to provide contraception. I'm not "judging" them, and I'm not claiming to be any "holier" than they are; after all, I prescribed contraceptives in my practice for many years just as they do now. However, God has shown me that I should stop, and I hope that He shows more physicians the truth in this area. I want to challenge all physicians to examine the moral arguments against contraception, and also consider this: If you did quit, just think of the impact you would have on your Catholic patients, who would then be motivated to examine the issue for themselves. I've seen this happen.
James: Speaking of the patients, it seems to me that they, too, have an opportunity to help encourage the doctor. For those patients who already understand and live out the truth about these issues, should they not be questioning their doctor about his position, and encouraging him to adopt a fully Catholic position?
Dr. Hardey: I see you like to open cans of worms! I do believe, however, that you are correct. Certainly, everyone should ask their doctor if they favor abortion or ever refer for abortion. I don't see how a patient can give their money to a doctor who participates in abortion in any way. With contraception the question is a little more difficult, because there are so few doctors who are not already involved, and there may not be a "contraceptive free" doctor nearby who can treat you. The issue, I believe, is serious enough that you should question him about it. If you are not satisfied with the answers, you may want to consider changing doctors. I know this may sound harsh, and self serving, and some may be tempted to believe that it won't make any difference to the big picturefor one patient to make one change to another doctorbut, with God's help, it will. And, if many people took their faith this seriously, we would indeed make a big difference.
James: What else can ordinary Catholics do?
Dr. Hardey: Continue, of course, the fight to stop abortion. This is the most serious problem we face. Acadiana is blessed to have a great many Christians who work tirelessly to restore the rights of our little unborn brothers and sisters, through prayer, letter writing, counseling, picketing, and peaceful protest. Everyone has been working hard for 20 years, and we have made progress. I think, however, that we need to go deeper; more to the root of the problem. That is, we need to expose the connection between contraception and abortion, and restore, in our own minds, and in the minds of our friends and associates, the godly and natural connection between sex and children. People must be persuaded to live out once again the truth that the church has taught for 2,000 years: that sex is a sacred gift from God, and that He requires that we enjoy it only within the boundaries that He has established. We have to study this issue, so we can explain and defend the truth of it and its beautiful logic. We need to be able to explain, simply, the operation of the body and its natural rhythms, which is the basis for Natural Family Planning. We need to be able to explain all of the bad things that have happened to society as a result of abandoning the teaching of Christ on this topic. We need to remind everyone that Jesus is God, and you can't just tell Him that you love Him, then refuse to do what He has commanded. Who knows better than He what is good for you? He has laid down these laws for a reason. It helps to understand why, but even if we don't understand why, we nevertheless have to have faith that He knows what He is doing.
James: What are your hopes?
Dr. Hardey: I hope that more physicians, especially Catholic physicians, decide that they can no longer, in good conscience, provide contraceptives for their patients. I hope that my practice succeeds, so other physicians can see that being "contraceptive free" will not hurt their practice. After all, if a newcomer like me can come to town and do well, then surely an established practice can thrive! I really hope that the Catholics of Acadiana will come to see that so many of the evils of our modern society are largely rooted in our acceptance of contraception. We have a real chance to evangelize anew Catholics who live in this area.
James: On behalf of the people of Acadiana, I want to thank you for coming to Lafayette, and thank you for taking this courageous position in favor of Christ and His law, and His plan of love. What you are doing is really a ministry, and we will pray that you will succeed.
Dr. Hardey: I am honored that God has allowed me to see this opportunity to serve Him, and I do appreciate your prayers.
Reprinted with permission. Copyright 1995 James Louviere. Champions of the Truth, 500 Majestic Blvd., Lafayette, LA 70508.
Taken from the March-April 1995 issue of CCL's "Family Foundations." To subcribe write: The Couple to Couple League, P.O. Box 111184, Cincinnati, OH 45211. Published 6 times a year and sent as a benefit to all members who contribute $18.00 or more annually.