Thursday, September 15, 2016

The "Safe Harbor" Idea is a Myth

I am going to apply for a fellowship that doesn't involve contraception. Am I running away?

There are several fellowships off generalist practice that could try to circumvent prescription of contraception. One could to MIGS, and only be a women's surgeon (sometimes management of endo could leave you in a tricky spot). One could to gynecologic oncology, and only operate and give chemo on women with cancer (safest bet, but hardest to get). One could do MFM, and only take care of people who are already pregnant (postpartum concerns especially in the heart failure patients becomes tricky). Am I running away by seeking one of these?

I don't think so. I want to do MFM for another reason: my interest in early pregnancy, ectopic rescue, and placentation. I love complex physiology. I love crises and encouraging women through them. I love life and protecting it. I am going into MFM to bolster the research that supports the embryo and the fetus as a person. I'm doing it to be more effective as a pro-life physician.

It bothers me when people assume I'm doing MFM to avoid contraception. At the same time, I can't hide the fact that it's rather convenient that MFM means my scope of practice isn't as restricted.

A few people I've told about this decision are very happy with it and give the response that makes my skin crawl. "Oh, so the contraception think won't be much of an issue. It's like a safe harbor." I hate being called a coward. (It's too close to the truth, anyway.) Besides, I'm not really escaping anything. MFM is soaked with termination and sterilization. What kind of escape is that? In order of most to least protective, it goes Onc > MIGS > MFM. 

I also dislike that Catholics should have to seek a "safe harbor." We should be able to practice in any field. If we have limits, we're like 100% of other physicians, and we are fortunate (?) to live in a country where the things we don't provide can be provided by someone else. I shouldn't have to go hide in internal medicine or surgery (I thought about it!). I should be able to be an OB/GYN. If we all ran away into safe harbors, who would witness to the truth? Who would challenge the paradigm?

Not only the "safe harbor" idea fundamentally flawed, but it's also a myth. There is no safe place to be a physician who trusts his conscience more than he trusts his lawyer and the guidelines of his professional organization. In the coming decades it will be a growing challenge for anyone who wants to do the right thing, whether or not he plans for a safe career.

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy for you! I think you will make great progress in ectopic rescue and research that emphasizes the humanity of the embryo. I am so encouraged by you and agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment that about a "safe harbor." I am praying for you! -Jen