Calgary doctor refuses to prescribe birth control pill

by | June 27, 2014

“If kids happen or someone is planning on children, there are ways of dealing with it and getting through it. It is all worth it.”

Woman Who Uses Birth ControlThat’s what Calgary doctor Chantal Barry of Westglen Medical Centre stated in a 2010 U of A profile. She also cited God as one of her sources of strength in raising her children during medical school. So what is the significance of these admittedly quote mined statements? They provide some background as to why Dr. Barry’s “personal preferences” prevent her from  prescribing birth control pills at her clinic.

What?! This happens in Canada?! I expect to read about this sort of thing in the southern US states! According to the Calgary Herald,  Pam Krause, president and CEO of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre is as shocked as I am, as she expected to hear of this sort of thing  “….in really conservative places in the U.S.”

I suppose Dr. Barry is unfamiliar with the time before the birth control pill, when women were at the complete mercy of their reproductive system; the best way to understand this is to listen to Loretta Lynn’s song, The Pill.

You wined me and dined me when I was your girl
Promised if I’d be your wife you’d show me the world
But all I’ve seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill
I’m tearing down your brooder house ’cause now I’ve got the pill

All these years I’ve stayed at home while you had all your fun
And every year that’s gone by another baby’s come
There’s gonna be some changes made right here on Nursery Hill
You’ve set this chicken your last time ’cause now I’ve got the pill

This old maternity dress I’ve got is going in the garbage
The clothes I’m wearing from now on won’t take up so much yardage
Miniskirts hotpants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I’m making up for all those years since I’ve got the pill

I’m tired of all your crowing how you and your hens play
While holding a couple in my arms another’s on the way
This chicken’s done tore up her nest and I’m ready to make a deal
And you can’t afford to turn it down ’cause you know I’ve got the pill

This incubator is overused because you’ve kept it filled
The feeling good comes easy now since I’ve got the pill
It’s getting dark it’s roosting time tonight’s too good to be real
Aw but Daddy don`t you worry none ’cause Mama`s got the pill
Oh Daddy don`t you worry none ’cause Mama`s got the pill

Here is a link to her 1972 performance of the song. Loretta Lynn took a lot of heat for that song. According to an article published in  People’s magazine in 1975, “more than 60 radio stations from Boston to Tulsa…banned the song” and many a preacher railed against it from the pulpit. But in 1975, the song was a hit and people rushed out to buy it. Loretta Lynn explains it as:

The pill is good for people. I wouldn’t trade my kids for anyone’s. But I wouldn’t necessarily have had six and I sure would have spaced ’em better.

This controversy is 30 years old! Do we really want to live in a time pre birth control? Could Dr. Barry want to return to a time when, according to this Time’s article: 

….abortion was illegal, women were expected to get a ring on their fingers before they had sex and women risked unwanted pregnancy and the associated stigma.

Because that’s the context for Dr. Barry’s views on the birth control pill! You’d think such a controversy would be over now but of course it isn’t. It isn’t over because religion is dogmatic. It doesn’t respond to reason. It doesn’t consider perspectives from other points of views (like Loretta and women like her). Religion can change (this is why people cherry pick parts of the bible in favour of the good parts) but at a pace that is far too slow. Christopher Hitchens was right; religion poisons everything.

via: Calgary doctor refuses to prescribe birth control over moral beliefs.
People’s article: Loretta Lynn’s “Pill” Is Hard for Some Fans to Swallow
Time’s article: How the Birth Control Pill Shaped The History of Casual Sex


18 thoughts on “Calgary doctor refuses to prescribe birth control pill

  1. Sean McGuire

    I suppose this is my Eastern Canada/Quebec bias, but I’m not at all surprised it happened in Alberta. Although I have seen that Calgary and Edmonton are often bastions of progressive thought in a sea of “Texas-style” right-wing “wildrose” conservatism… so it is a little surprising it’s Calgary and not some other part of Alberta.

    1. Elspeth

      Three doctors in Ottawa are also refusing to prescribe the pill.

      A great analogy: “It’s irrelevant that a doctor who can fulfill the prescription may be at a nearby clinic. The fact that patients can’t get medicine they need because the doctor on duty doesn’t feel like giving it to them is absurd. It’s like going to McDonald’s and ordering a Big Mac, only to have the sole person working the register refuse to ring it up because he’s vegetarian.”

  2. Ultra

    Misogynist men trying to control… oh… its a woman.. uhm… Patriarchy!

    1. Indi

      *facepalm* Dude, just because a woman’s doing it this particular time doesn’t mean it’s not patriarchy. That’s as stupid as saying, “oh, it’s an uncharacteristically chilly day for this particular time of year in this particular place… so much for global warming!”

      1. Ultra

        You’re right… no need to show that it is a global conspiracy… we should just assume this woman is a mindless pawn… if she doesn’t agree with feminism. Because.. no woman could have this opinion.. if patriarchy wasn’t controlling her.

        1. Bubba Kincaid

          From what I’ve seen catholic women form the backbone of the anti-abortion stance of the catholic church, and they are really not describable as anything less than militantly fanatical about it.

          1. Bubba Kincaid

            And I mean than relative to catholic men.

        2. Indi

          You’re right… no need to show that it is a global conspiracy… we should just assume this woman is a mindless pawn… if she doesn’t agree with feminism.

          Either that, or you could try not being a complete dumbass, and look at what she specifically said was the source of her belief. I realize that would require you actually listening to a woman, which may be a new experience for you, but give it a shot anyway. Hey, maybe she got her beliefs from one of the non- patriarchal branches of Christianity out there… oh wait, there are none.

          1. Ultra

            Hey, maybe she… can form her own opinion. Women can do that and still disagree with you.

          2. Indi

            Hey, maybe she… already has formed her own opinion. If you’d listen to her, you’d know that, and you’d know what it is and why she has it.

          3. Ultra

            So… she was brainwashed by patriarchy… like you were by feminism.

            No one actually makes their own choices about stuff. We are all helpless puppets who get our beliefs fed to us.

            Makes ad hominemses easier thank the lawd.

  3. V

    She shouldn’t be a Dr.
    Birth control is not her decision is the patients. She is a disappointment for Dr’s.
    I wouldn’t go to her. Having kids is not her choice.
    Maybe she should pick a different career.

  4. Indi

    You know, what makes this story even worse is that Barry plans – after she’s worked in Calgary for a few years – to open up a clinic in a rural area. While she may be able to get away with this stupidity in Calgary, where there are other options available for the women she turns away, what the hell is she going to do in her rural clinic? Force her clients to travel to the city? This doctor should be made to do her fricken’ job now, while in the city, before she goes off and imposes her moral shit on people who have less power to be heard or fight back.

    Her personal “mantra” is apparently Philippians 4:13, which she quotes as: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.” Apparently, though, giving women adequate health care is something she can’t manage even with Christ’s support.

  5. Bubba Kincaid

    How long before she refuses to treat patients because they are not her particular religious denomination?

  6. Pingback: Teen and Mother File Complaint with Human Rights Commission Over Abstinence Based Sex Ed Course | Canadian Atheist

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