A doctor, the doolans and their doctrine – but is this really an issue of women’s rights?

Uh, oh. It looks like Alf isn’t as familiar with his Bill of Rights as he thought he was.

Or more probably, a bunch of do-gooders out there in the community are laying claim to yet another item to which they reckon we are entitled as a matter of right.

Alf’s musings follow news – if that’s what it is – of a young woman who was refused the birth control pill because she had not yet done her “reproductive job”.

Good grief.

Do we really need to know about a young woman’s differences of opinion with her doctrinally influenced GP about ways of controlling her fecundity?

Melissa Pont, 23, said her family practitioner, Dr Joseph Lee, would not renew her pill prescription, instead lecturing her on a baby’s right to live and on using the rhythm method, an unreliable family planning technique that involves having sex only at certain times of the month.

Next thing you know, the do-gooders have got in on the act.

The Women’s Health Action Trust said it has a “simmering issue” with GPs who will not prescribe contraceptives.

Hmm. So this is a “simmering” issue, whatever that might be. Obviously it falls short of being a boiling issue.

And then comes the latest addition to the ever-growing list of entitlements and rights to which people lay claim.

“Contraception is a basic health right for women,” said senior policy analyst George Parker. “That should take precedence over a doctor’s personal beliefs.”

But immediately after this we are told this basic health right is not really a basic health right at all.

The NZ Medical Association said doctors can refuse treatment in non-emergency situations if their beliefs prohibit it – but they are required to refer the patient to another doctor.

Even if they weren’t required to do that, this Pont woman could have gone to another doctor anyway.

There is no law in this land that requires her to stick with a GP with whom she is uncomfortable.

But instead of that, she has gone to the media with her bleat.

“I felt like my decision to not have children yet was being judged. That’s a decision me and my fiance made,” she said.

“We’re young and we just bought a house and who is he to say whether we should have children or not?”

Alf would not go to Dr Lee, a doctor at Wairau Community Clinic in Blenheim, if he was aware of his firmly held views, which he has explained to the HoS.

“I don’t want to interfere with the process of producing life,” the Catholic father-of-two told the Herald on Sunday.

Lee also does not prescribe condoms, and encourages patients as young as 16 to use the rhythm method.

Teen pregnancy might be a girl’s “destiny”, he said, and it was certainly not as bad as same- sex marriage.

The only circumstances in which he said he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children.

“I think they’ve already done their reproductive job”.

Dunno what’s so special about four children.

And he does admit his advice on this matter is somewhat dodgy, because he acknowledged natural birth control was “not very reliable”.

He is fascinatingly philosophic about what the consequences might be.

“That’s the best thing about it. You can’t choose it, you just have to be committed to it.”

Wairau Community Clinic lead GP Scott Cameron said a pamphlet at the reception desk warns that some doctors do not prescribe birth control, and staff try to screen patients.

He will consider installing a sign.

Consider it?

He should just do it and so avoid this sort of kerfuffle.

It looks like Dr Lee is in trouble, regardless of his right to prescribe as his conscience dictates.

The clinic is run by the Marlborough Public Health Organisation.

Its chief executive is Beth Pester, who said Lee’s choice not to prescribe was “his ethical choice”, but she was concerned he discussed natural birth control with patients as young as 16.

She will talking to him about that.


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