This horrible Catholic guilt

An Irish university student goes on the pill. She tells her mother; her mother is fine with it. Then she goes home to the west of Ireland, and has to renew her prescription. Her local GP is not so fine with it. He asks her a lot of impertinent questions and gives her a lot of unwanted advice.

This horrible catholic guilt regarding our own sexuality still festers in the more rural parts of Ireland.  It makes me furious that the general psyche of our nation would accept that a doctor reserves the right not to administer this drug. I had done three courses of the pill, I was well aware of the risks and consequences and I am a consenting adult choosing to be responsible; yet the doctor still asked were my parents aware of why I was there.

It occurred to me, while filling the forms in for my new doctor, what if I had been going in there a younger, more impressionable girl trying to do the responsible thing? Having sat through the tirade that was directed at me I think I can confirm that a less stubborn girl would have probably never had the confidence to ask for contraception again. This seemed so dangerous to me that I felt the need to out my contraception problems, very publicly. The very idea of this betrayal of power and how Dr X’s refusal to administer the pill can come under the umbrella of ‘religious beliefs’ made me so angry I couldn’t keep this story to myself.

I don’t care if the world knows I’m on the pill. Or that I’m having sex. What I do care about is the fact that people like Dr X remain in their unquestionable position of authority. I care that I’m not allowed to name him in this article because he’s still my family’s doctor. Even my very liberal mother saw nothing wrong with a doctor refusing to administer a drug that I had already been on and was taking under full knowledge of the consequences. Her attitude of ‘Doctor Knows Best’ makes me incredibly angry. This tendency to never question figures of authority has caused so much trouble in regard to the Catholic Church and our corrupt politicians, yet still prevails. I am a consenting adult having sex, and nobody reserves the right to pass judgement on me.

Make Ireland a better place, Úna Roddy.


  1. says

    It’s understandable, but still a shame, that Doctor X must remain anonymous. Perhaps something would change if he were held to account for his intimidating behaviour.

  2. Anna B McCabe says

    The doctor’s job is to advise on health issues, not on morals, even if it is couched on possible dangers to one’s health. An adult doesn’t need a parent’s permission to have contraception.

  3. sailor1031 says

    If it were only the catholics! One has to sorrow for all the blight in peoples’ lives (hell, in one’s own life) because of religiously-inspired feelings of guilt. Unfortunately, if they get you early enough, it takes years after coming out to finally overcome those feelings. A bas les pretres, a la lanterne!

  4. Amy Clare says

    Happens in the UK too – there was a woman a few years back who was refused the pill because of ‘religious conscience’ but it was a pharmacist who refused to fill the prescription rather than a GP who refused to write one. I’ve also seen a lot of stories of women being refused the morning after pill by religious pharmacists, which is an urgent situation. Pharmacists have a ‘conscience clause’ which says they can opt out of providing the pills but apparently they need to inform patients of an alternative place to get them. Many don’t though for obvious reasons. (Not that that’s good enough anyway – if you live in e.g. a rural area and don’t have your own transport it can be very difficult to get to another pharmacy.)

    Smug controlling b*stards.

  5. iknklast says

    It can happen in the US, too, though it’s more likely the morning after pill. But my (non-Catholic) mother was denied a tubal ligation by a Catholic doctor, even though it was a military hospital and they permitted this surgery. Her next pregnancy nearly killed her.

  6. edward humphrey says

    One doctor in dublin, would not give the pill to any woman in there area. Th woman were on medicel calds (free stata care) the doctor not only would not give the the pill. But would not let them go the other doctor (you are locked in to you doctor with medicel card).

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