Erica and Kevin Jacobi with their four handsome boys
In this month’s spotlight we are featuring incoming board president, Erica Jacobi. We find Erica to have a very positive, upbeat personality and a can-do attitude!
Q. First of all, congratulations on your new role as president of BOMA-USA! What do you see as our opportunities and challenges in the next couple of years?
Thank you! Our previous board leadership has done so much to grow BOMA and develop us into a more polished organization, ready to support our network and grow the future of the Billings Ovulation Method® in the United States. Our opportunities and challenges going forward are one in the same. BOMA has a treasure to offer this country, but only if we can show that treasure to potential users. It is vital to make the Billings Method one of the methods that come to mind first when people think of natural, sustainable, and loving options for fertility awareness.
Q. Have you always been personally associated with Billings, or did you learn another method prior to Billings?
No, as a young woman I leaned a sympto-thermal method through my own research (aka Google!) and used that early in our marriage. Then after the birth of our first son, we struggled with accurate temperatures and ecological breastfeeding, which led us to Creighton. The Creighton Model quickly taught us how valuable having an NFP instructor is. The and the instructor’s support and willingness to answer detailed personal questions left us feeling far more confident than when we were self-taught. I’m a millennial, so Google is my go-to when learning something new. But I quickly learned the difference in success with having an instructor. That experience told me I wanted to be able to share that same confidence and become a teacher myself. My Creighton instructor encouraged me to investigate the Billings Method. After we saw its effectiveness, ease, and fit with modern day life, I was hooked.
Q. What has your experience been like teaching Billings?
Teaching Billings has led me into new friendships. Making friends after the school-age years can be challenging! The small talk and looking for common interests are hard. How often do you meet somebody new and only talk about the surface-level topics? Talking about Billings requires deeper conversations about life and relationships. In a few meetings you share of your own life and theirs in topics you might not share as readily when meeting somebody new. Secondarily, as a teacher I get a front row seat to sharing in the joys and challenges in the lives of my clients, like navigating the struggles of delay in much wanted conceptions or sharing in the familiarization with the body’s changes postpartum and in times of change. Or conversely, there have been many times when I’m the first to hear about a positive pregnancy test or get to share in conversations about life with a newborn. Teaching Billings allows me to hold the hands of my fellow women as we journey through life.
Q. What words of encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teacher?
So many of us are already talking about birth control, spacing babies, breastfeeding, and fertility in casual conversations. Why not do it with the authority of a certified instructor? Again, I thought I knew what I was doing when I was self-taught, but teacher training changed so much.
Q. What is your “real job” outside of volunteering with BOMA-USA? Tell us about your family.
Oh my, which job do you want to hear about? I’m a wife to Kevin, and we’re parents to 4 boys under the age of ten. I also have a job I enjoy at Tyson Foods. I love that working with food is something that impacts the world on so many levels and is always relatable. From the farmers to families, everybody is impacted by our food system.
We're a busy family of 6 living in northwest Arkansas. We work our way through the same challenges other Christian families face, trying to support each other's winding journey to sainthood. It's often everyday stuff. Sometimes, it means sticky messes and budgeting at home; other times, it takes the form of hiking or fishing in the beautiful outdoors. That support can even come from valuable alone time.
Q. Looking forward, is there anything our teachers and/or general members can to do help us?
Participate! BOMA is offering a network for learning and fellowship, but I would love to see more participants join webinars, engage with BOMA on social media, and ask questions. You can start today by liking and sharing our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/billingsusa/ and forwarding this newsletter to your clients, friends, and family.
After six years of dedicated service, Kristin Putnam, Eileen Wood, and Dr. John Worden are ending their terms on the BOMA board. These legacy members have been integral to shaping and maturing BOMA into the organization we know today. They’ve given us an invigorated, structured, passionate organization that the board and BOMA personnel are committed to continuing to cultivate.
To help us continue the BOMA mission, we're excited to announce that two new board members, Christina Brown and Dr. Danielle Koestner, were nominated and, subsequently, appointed to the Board.
Christina (Christy) Brown and her husband, Paul, have been teaching the Billings Ovulation Method® since 2010. In describing her journey, Christy stated, “We liked how the method could stand on science alone. Billings is a strong witness to those coming to NFP from the natural/science side of things. We also believe it can open the door to the students thinking about the moral aspects of NFP and encourage them to grow in their faith.” Among her many talents, she is interested in supporting BOMA and finding ways to grow our teacher support network.
Dr. Danielle Koestner and her husband, Kyle, have been teaching Billings together for the last 6 years. She is a family doctor, which includes a lot of gynecological care. She brings a valuable physician perspective to the board and has a passion for making sure patients have easy access to fertility knowledge and charting support. She has taken the medical management seminars and has fully integrated FABMs into her medical practice for all women from menarche to menopause.
Please join us in celebrating those who have served and those who are just beginning to serve in a new capacity.
The July 2019 edition of the WOOMB Bulletin is here. Please check out all the exciting new Billings happenings from around the world.
We recently contacted WOOMB to confirm what we should be quoting when asked about effectiveness studies for the Billings Ovulation Method®.
They sent an interesting document that starts off discussing the need to include the range of published studies that meet the requirements for medical evidence in relation to the design of the study. So, in other words, don’t just look at one study when quoting success rates.
The current standard way of reporting effectiveness rates of contraceptive methods is the Pearl Index. It gives effectiveness rates based on the number of pregnancies expected if 100 women used a given method for a year.
Studies on natural family planning and/or contraception will also refer to both user and method effectiveness. When method effectiveness is cited, it refers to perfect use, meaning users follow a particular method’s instructions exactly.
WOOMB states that the most accurate way of quoting contraceptive success rates is in “initiates.” The document explains, “That is, the first-time use including any learning period. The reason for quoting figures for initiates is that the effectiveness rates will improve the longer a group has been using a method because those who are likely to become pregnant may already have become pregnant and be lost to the study if the initial period is not included.”
The following three international studies of the Billings Ovulation Method® produced method effectiveness rates in initiates:
The World Health Organization (1978-1981)
The Indian Medical Research Council (1996)
The Jiangsu Health Institute in China (1997)
“The studies recruited women who had not previously used the Billings Ovulation Method® and recorded the pregnancy rates for those who became pregnant either during the teaching phase or after.”
Based on those studies, we can cite the Billings Ovulation Method® with a method-related pregnancy rate of 0-2.2 pregnancies per hundred women years in initiates.
All three studies had impressive numbers of women included in their study, living in many parts of the world.
▪ The World Health Organization’s multi-center study took place from 1997 – 1981. The locations included Auckland, Dublin, San Miguel, Bangalore, and Manila. There were 869 women in the study, equaling 10,215 cycles of use. There were 2.2 method-related pregnancies per hundred women years in initiates. (2.8 when the initial phase excluded)
Published: Fertility and Sterility 1981 Vol. 36, p. 152ff, 1981 Vol. 36, p. 591ff.
▪ Indian Council of Medical Research Task Force on NFP (1995) had the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Pondicherry. They had 2,059 women with 32,957 women months of use. The study concluded there were 0.86 method-related pregnancies per hundred women years in initiates.
Published: Contraception 1996, Vol. 53 pp. 69-74.
▪ Jiangsu Family Health Institute, China (1997) Dr. QIAN Shao Zhen. This study had 1,235 women with 14,280 women months of use. No method-related pregnancies in initiates. (5 user-related pregnancies)
Published: Chinese Medical Journal 1998.
Good to note: Evidence-based method-related Pearl Index for Billings Ovulation Method® is 0-2.2 per hundred women years in initiates.
Q. You have such a fascinating history. Would you please take us back to where you lived as a child, including your Jewish roots and how you ended up becoming Catholic?
Life in Vienna was ordinary until March 10, 1938, when Hitler arrived to “take his homeland back into the Reich.” By Passover 1939, there had already been enough persecution of Jews that I was sure that it was time for the Messiah to come.
There was a tradition that a cup of wine at the Seder table would be drained mysteriously the year the Messiah was to come. I was bitterly disappointed that the cup was still full at the end of the Seder. In June that year I was sent to England in a children’s transport.
The family who received me had already been in touch with my parents, so I was far better off than the many who just went into the unknown. My parents had sent me out as they did not know if or when they would get the visa for the United States that they had applied for, and they wanted to make sure I would be safe even if they did not make it out. My English family were members of Church of England, although Mrs. Dodd had recently become a Christian Scientist. In their wonderful reception of me I realized that the Messiah had already come.
In March 1940, my parents were able to sail for New York to try to begin to build a new existence. Their English was from what they had learned in school, but they applied themselves. Father became a cook in a camp in the Adirondacks. He had been a mess sergeant in the Austrian cavalry in World War I. The following September, my mother had collected enough money to pay for a ticket for me to join them in New York.
Crossing the Atlantic alone was an adventure in seasickness. The only place I was not nauseated was on deck, where I sat on a drum until I was asked to not sit on the depth charge! I did not see the Statue of Liberty when we entered the harbor, but was so pleased to see lights after living in the blackout, and the big Wrigley’s Chewing Gum sign.
My parents met me in New York and Mother’s scream when she saw me embarrassed me, as I had become very English. I learned later that three ships had left Scotland together, and no one knew who was on which one. One was bombed, one was torpedoed, and only ours, the Cameronia, got through. Once we got over the initial greetings, Mother immediately took me to a beauty shop for a haircut. My hair was too long! Then, we went to meet the great aunt and uncle who had provided the affidavit needed for my parents’ entry to the United States.
By then, my mother had a summer job as a domestic helper with a family in Elberon, NJ. I was allowed to stay with her. The family had advanced some of my fare. I was sent to Long Branch, New Jersey Junior High School where, at age 12, I was put in Grade 9 because of the long list of subjects on my report card from Dr. Williams’ School in Dolgelley, North Wales where we had spent the previous year because the war had begun in England. The list was impressive: arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. But they were so minimal that I never had a proper basis for math. When I decided on a medical specialty many years later, I immediately ruled out therapeutic radiology as I was sure I would never get the dosage properly calculated.
When the New Jersey job ended, Mother found another with a German immigrant family on Staten Island who had come a few years earlier. I attended Avery High School and even got placed in an English honors class, thanks to my British school year.
We met my second cousin, Marlene, who encouraged us to leave New York, which was becoming an enclave of refugees. So, we made a stop in New York in preparation for a
for a move to Louisville, KY. This was prolonged by my coming down with measles and pneumonia, causing me to miss a trimester of grade 9. But we did arrive in Louisville, and my parents set about building a new life for us.
The Jewish Refugee Service was immensely helpful by finding a couple of rooms for us when we arrived and later helping to find jobs for my parents and an apartment. It was all very basic, but we were so happy to be alive. I was sent to the YWCA camp for two weeks the next summer and heard a reading of 1 Corinthians 13. When I got back to Louisville, I bought a Bible at Woolworths for 25 cents and read the whole New Testament in three days. I had no doubt it was true.
Q. Where did medical school come into play? How did you decide to become an obstetrician/gynecologist?
I had seen the lecture hall at the University of Vienna Medical School on a newsreel when I was eight years old, and somehow knew that someday I would be hearing lectures there. Obviously, I did not get to study in Vienna, but the idea of becoming a doctor never left. I liked the idea that in obstetrics, medicine and society met. I was interested in both the scientific and the personal aspects of medicine.
What followed was too personal to write about, but suffice to say that we had a pre-med course at the University of Louisville entitled, “History and Philosophy of Science,” taught by the chairman of the biology department. He taught that there are three kinds of truths: social, scientific, and religious, which were in parallel and never intersected.
As a medical intern, I had a patient who had rheumatic heart disease and was three months pregnant. At that time, the treatment was therapeutic abortion. However, the chief resident in medicine, a convert to Catholicism, would not sign off on it. I was indignant that he was “imposing his religion on science,” but the woman did well with medical management.
We now know that therapeutic abortion is NOT the proper treatment for such situations, thanks to Dr. Samuel Cosgrove, a non-Catholic who was head of the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City.
In any event, that incident, and meeting a young man who was Catholic, introduced many other considerations. Internship was followed by residency in pathology in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. There were wonderful bookshops near the hospital. I picked up the Summa contra Gentiles and could not understand a word of it, so I enrolled in a night course in “Problems in Western Philosophy” at Harvard’s Lowell Institute for $5! I discovered that there were far more ways of looking at truth than my college course had mentioned, such as if truth subjective or objective, absolute or relative, etc.
I also enrolled at the Paulist Catholic Information Center and, after a rather intense year of study and prayer, concluded that the truth was both absolute personal and objective, proved by the One who said He was the truth and proved it with His Life, Death, and Resurrection.
This was the gift of faith, not a philosophical proof. I was received into the Catholic Church on May 8, 1952, in the Paulist chapel on Park Street in Boston. I received the grace to give my whole life to the Lord and, five years later, entered the Medical Mission Sisters. Although I was not drawn to the foreign missions particularly, I knew the Lord had children in need everywhere. Providentially, after pathology, I had trained in obstetrics and gynecology. This training was much needed in the five years I spent at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, followed by two years in Dhaka, East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh.
When my mother became blind during my time in Dhaka, I asked to return home. In 1968, I joined the Medical Mission Sisters House of Studies in St. Louis. There I returned to Washington University where I had been a resident physician. When my old chief was replaced by an enthusiastic abortionist, I went across town to St. Louis University, a Jesuit school where I was teaching when Roe v. Wade was imposed.
Q. When did you first hear about the Billings Method™? And what was your initial reaction to it?
Cardinal Carberry, archbishop of Washington, sent the first American edition of The Billings Method to all the Catholic doctors in St. Louis in 1972. It had been published by Msgr. Robert Deegan of the Department of Health and Hospitals for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It made more sense than the previous information on the cycle: calendar and temperature rhythm. The book was complicated, but I had just delivered the fifth child of a charismatic couple and they did not want to have any more children, at least not for a while. The couple and I prayed and cursed our way through the book together. In 1973, Roe v. Wade was decided.
My first reaction was to go to parishes to teach about embryonic and fetal development, but that made little impact. Therefore, it made sense to try to prevent abortion by preventing the crisis pregnancy. Obviously, contraception was not the full answer. Even today, 45% of undesired pregnancies are conceived during a cycle in which the women said they were using a contraceptive.
I met Larry Kane, the founder of the Human Life Foundation, when I had occasion to go to Washington. He suggested I meet Mercedes Wilson. The following June, Mercedes stopped in St. Louis and explained the Billings Method™. It was like turning on the light in a dark room. We no longer fell over the obstacles. She talked about the upcoming meeting in Sydney. I was teaching Ob/Gyn at St. Louis University Medical Center at the time, and a group of us had a chance to take over the space of a crisis pregnancy center that was moving from the basement of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Clayton, MO. That became the Aware Center. My department sent me to Sydney, Australia, where I met 200-300 Billings Ovulation Method® user couples who were walking statistics, testifying to the success of the method. There had not been much published effectiveness data up to then. The lectures were excellent on the biology of sperm, the hormones controlling ovulation, and the human reactions. On my return to St. Louis, I found myself the local expert on the Billings Method™, except that Sydney was 8,000 miles away. This was before cheap long-distance calling and decades before the internet. One of our group of eight who began the Aware Center was a professional teacher who did the initial instructions. Others did the follow-up and support. The crisis center had maintained a roster for consultations 24/7. We began to do it that way, but discovered that there really was no such thing as an emergency coitus. When in doubt, don’t!
Q. Over the years you became friends with some of the great leaders in our field, including Drs. John and Lyn Billings, Dr. James Brown, and Dr. Kevin Hume, among many others. What are a couple of your most cherished memories of your time with them?
Kevin Hume met my flight when I first arrived in Sydney. He and Peggy were hospitable throughout my stay, even introducing me to Sydney rock oysters, which he assured me were the best in the world. After the meeting I flew to Melbourne and sat with Lyn as she taught beginners, and I sat with Kath Smyth as she did follow-up. After watching Kath for the morning, I said, “I think I can do that.” So, she let me take the lead in the afternoon. Heaven help us! But that’s how we started. Kath was doing the urine estrogen and progesterone assays for Jim Brown. Gradually, the correlations between cervical mucus patterns and the continuum of ovulation were elaborated. That was Jim Brown’s life’s work. The final version was published after Jim died, by Len Blackwell, his long-time collaborator in New Zealand.
Q. As the founder/developer of Teen STAR, please tell us how it came to be and what it is.
At the second international Billings Method™ meeting in Melbourne in 1978, Dr. John Billings asked me to have a look at the teens, as no one was doing anything with or for them. The beginnings were providential. During a meeting of the Human Life & Natural Family Planning Foundation board meeting, Kay Ek introduced me to her sister, Mary Thormann, Ph.D., a professor of child development at Marymount College in Fairfax, VA. We talked about the need, and somehow she managed not only to support our endeavor but introduced me to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, with whom she did Meals on Wheels at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Washington. Mrs. Shriver was the executive director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the prevention of mental retardation. At a meeting which the Kennedy Foundation sponsored at the National Institutes of Health, her husband, Sargent Shriver (founder of the Peace Corps), laid out the case for prevention of teen pregnancy as a long-range prevention of mental retardation, as teen mothers often delivered prematurely and had more mentally handicapped babies. On that basis, our research proposal for offering fertility awareness to teens was accepted. It was warmly advocated by Dr. Robert Cooke, scientific advisor to the Kennedy Foundation, who felt that it was dangerous to give contraceptive steroids to adolescents when no one knew their long-range effects. Bob Cooke was a Presbyterian and former chairman of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. When we found that in our pilot group of 200 girls, the pregnancy rate was 0.44% compared with 12% in the population at that time, we felt that we could begin to train teachers. Teen STAR (Sexuality Teaching in the context of Adult Responsibility) evolved gradually. Mary Lou Bryant led one of the girls’ groups. Being an experienced teacher, she did not follow my medical outline but went into the class and asked, “Do you want to talk woman talk?” She recorded their questions, which became the basis of the content and sequence of the high school girls’ curriculum. We always met with parents before and midway into the program. Soon, the mothers were asking for a similar program for their sons. The current curriculum for young men was written by Fr. Don Heet, O.S.F.S., Ed.D. He wrote it after he had taught it for five years at Pope Paul VI High School in Fairfax, VA. Later, the grade school curriculum was added by Mary Lou. I added the holistic sexuality lecture/discussion sequence, and the postpartum sequence was done by Sr. Nora Dennehy, RGS, Ph.D., and the late Sr. Ursula Fagan, MMS, MSW. We have always insisted on behavioral outcome evaluations and reported them in the scientific literature. All curricula include experiential learning of the woman’s fertility patterns. Boys record their emotions.
Word about Teen STAR spread. Canada was our first international site, then Chile, UK, and France. Many others have followed. We now have an International Teen STAR Federation. Dr. Pilar Vigil, M.D., Ph.D., is the current president. At least 15 countries have autonomous programs, meaning they can train their own teachers. Dr. Vigil reports that we have programs in 56 countries, including places where there is only one teacher.
Q. How long does a training take, and do you still help with trainings?
The initial training requires 35 hours. Part of that can be done online. That is followed by a year of practicum where the teacher is supported in their first-year experience. After two years of teaching, teachers become eligible to be trained as trainers of teachers. Recertification is required every three years. Since last November, we have a new interim executive director, Deacon Santiago Molina (a trainer and supervisor of Billings teachers for BOMA-USA). He has assumed responsibility for the program.
Q. What do you see the future holding for us in the Natural Family Planning field?
As people become more aware of the harmful effects of contraceptive steroid hormones, many more are seeking natural methods. The use of natural methods requires couple communication. This in turn may help heal the culture, which is currently separating sex not only from procreation, but from relationship. It’s going to be a long haul.
Q. If you could give a piece of advice to Billings teachers, what would it be?
My own bias is to focus more on the time of puberty, when the hormonal changes demand so much from the teen, and teach fertility awareness then. Waiting to teach adults is too late, in view of the huge effort to insert LARCs, long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUDs and implants) into any teen who can be persuaded (or coerced). By then, brain maturation, which peaks between the ages of 10-15, may already have been damaged. Obviously, we should continue to teach anyone who desires to learn, but I think we need to focus on the teens.
Although the basic science of NFP is already settled, more is constantly being added. It’s all God’s work. Hang on to Him.
By Ann Marschel
Have you ever wondered or thought about how you could teach the Billings Ovulation Method full-time? Maybe you are currently teaching and unsure of the steps to continue to teach the Method and make a profit doing so.
Anna Saucier, one of our webinar speakers, gave great insight on how to start and grow a business. Setting goals, making a plan, and using strategies that have been outlined below can and will help you in getting your BOM business to grow.
First, you have to brainstorm some goals for your business. Then you have to figure out what challenges you’ll face. Finally, start a 90-day plan.
Here is an outline to follow:
Tools, Techniques, and Technology
Once you have completed the questions and planning above, the items below will help you to reduce feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Now take your 90-day plan and do this:
Marketing and Sales
In order to have a successful business, it’s important to have a scheduling system and some way to keep track of your finances. When it comes to a scheduling system, Anna spoke about a calendar, one that gives you automatic reminders once you have the information in it. Anna uses one called Acuity Scheduling. She also recommended having a bookkeeper. You can do this yourself as long as it’s consistent. She uses YNAB because it keeps everything in one place and organizes her finances for her once she inputs that data.
Being a BOM instructor and growing your business can be done. Helping clients and enabling others with the knowledge of how their body works in regards to fertility is life-changing. With the guidance from Anna, building your business hopefully is not as intimidating anymore. Instead, it can be looked at as a wonderful opportunity to help people while earning income to support yourself.
By Mike Gaskins
When we think of Billings Ovulation Method and Natural Family Planning, we should never discount the importance of that word “natural,” especially when considered as an alternative to birth control. In business terms, it’s a selling point that can never be overstated. In social terms, it’s a tenet of the Method that’s easily underestimated.
It is the inherent un-naturalness of hormonal birth control and its subsequent complications that accentuate this important point. I’m grateful not only for what you offer as BOM instructors, but for what you may prevent.
Nelson Pill Hearings
Nearly 50 years ago, Senator Gaylord Nelson chaired congressional hearings that focused exclusively on hormonal birth control. His goal was to address two principle concerns:
Sen. Nelson opened the hearings with the stated objective: “to present for the general public’s benefit the best and most objective information available.” In the process, they covered a shockingly diverse list of side effects and complications that sent the nation into a panic. Women across the country began calling their doctors asking to be taken off The Pill.
When Pill proponents criticized Sen. Nelson for creating a panic, he shot back that if women had been warned about the dangers before being prescribed, they wouldn’t be alarmed hearing about them now.
As a result of the hearings, The Pill became the first drug in history required to contain a patient information booklet in the package. Otherwise, not a lot has changed since those days on Capitol Hill in 1970.
I cover the Nelson Pill Hearings in greater detail in my book In the Name of The Pill, but for the sake of brevity, I’d like to look at just four of the side effects discussed at the hearings and make a case for why I think it’s time to bring The Pill back to the Hill.
Then - The hearings discussed a groundbreaking British study that uncovered a 7.5-fold increased risk of death from stroke.
Now - In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that some current formulations of combination oral contraceptives can double a woman’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke
[ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1111840?query=featured_home]. It’s also worth noting that in 2016, Bayer, the maker of today’s most popular brands, Yaz/Yasmin, paid out $2.04 billion to settle over 10,000 blood clot-related lawsuits. [https://www.drugwatch.com/yaz/settlements/].
Then - The first major headlines of the hearings came when Dr. Roy Hertz proclaimed, “[Estrogens] are to breast cancer what fertilizer is to the wheat crop.”
Dr. Max Cutler testified that 1 out of every 20 women will develop breast cancer sometime during her life. Dr. Hugh Davis added, “Now, there are some 75 to 80,000 women in this country per year who are developing diagnosed carcinoma of the breast. If the chronic taking of steroid hormones eventually increased this by only 10 percent, we would have a very, very hazardous situation on our hands…”
Now - We have witnessed a 210% increase! 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in her life. Over 268,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year [https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics].
Then - Dr. Giles Bole Jr. described a rare disease called lupus to the senators. He was beginning to see this older person’s disease among young women who recently started on birth control. Dr. Herbert Ratner later testified that an estimated 1 out of every 2,000 birth control users developed lupus.
Now - In 1999, Arthritis and Rheumatology published a report that concluded the incidence of lupus had tripled in the past 40 years, and 90% of the diagnoses are women [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/epidemiology-and-pathogenesis-of-systemic-lupus-erythematosus].
A decade later, in 2009, scientists from McGill University in Montreal released the results of a massive population study. They collected data on 1.7 million women and found that women on oral contraceptives were 50% more likely to develop lupus [https://www.webmd.com/lupus/news/20090413/birth-control-pills-may-raise-lupus-risk#1].
Depression & Suicide
Then – Barbara Seaman warned that many doctors believed “that suicide, not blood clots, may, in fact, be the leading cause of Pill deaths.” Dr. Francis Kane testified at the hearings that 1 out of every 3 Pill users showed depressive personality changes, and a little more than 1 out of every 20 became suicidal. He added that women on birth control had “distinctly higher scores,” meaning not only were more of them getting depressed, but they were also experiencing greater depression.
Now - Fast forward to 2016, Danish researchers conducted a cohort study of 1 million young women, and discovered that women taking hormonal birth control were 70% more likely to develop depression. One year later, a continuation of the same study revealed that women on birth control more than tripled their risk of committing suicide [http://time.com/5030447/birth-control-side-effects-suicide/]!
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Nelson Pill Hearings. These four side effects represent only a small sample of what was discussed at the hearings, but I think they alone should be sufficient for us to demand that they bring The Pill back to the Hill. It’s time for new hearings focused on answering the same two questions:
I’m sure many of you have already heard about the side effects of hormonal contraceptives from your patients, and here is something you can do now to make a difference. A group of physicians and women’s health advocates have petitioned the FDA to include new black box warnings on these contraceptives. This petition is open for public comment until November 2019. Please add your comment and encourage your patients who have had negative side effects to add theirs by clicking on this link: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2019-P-2289-0001&fbclid=IwAR3B0ox9-SOcOKbQASz2v4yB37HS7yvPJ04VBaVVrapffSxUCwSTwTUw9bQ
Mike works as a writer/producer in all forms of media. His recently published book, In the Name of The Pill, examines the powerful forces that gave us birth control before it was proven safe, exposes the deceptive tactics used to keep patients in the dark, and explores the numerous ways women’s health has been sacrificed in the name of The Pill.
Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.
While Universities are creating an army of doctors and nurses trained to administer pharmaceuticals and perform invasive procedures on women, how can we hope to combat this and make an impact in our society? We believe we are a force for good, but are we relevant against the current culture? As you ponder these questions, it becomes clear that our effectiveness is determined by our resources.
Donations to BOMA are what have allowed us to continue our mission of providing the simplest and most personalized care in fertility education. BOMA supporters give generously of their time and talent, making them the lifeblood of the organization, but without financial support, we would not exist. Currently and historically, BOMA does not cover its operating costs through the services it provides. Furthermore, there are many wonderful ideas and ambitious goals that the organization simply cannot pursue due to a lack of resources. Any organization, for-profit or non-profit, must use a laser-like focus in order to succeed and grow. Therefore, it was important that we identify which goals would have the greatest impact while leveraging our strengths and experience. This self-reflection has led to the pursuit of our 2019 capital campaign with the goal of training 250 medical and nursing students on the Billings Ovulation Method®. Before explaining the campaign, I want to share a personal story that demonstrates the problem so many NFP-trained women and couples experience when seeking medical care.
I had the privilege of teaching my daughter Alexa NFP when she was 15. Years later, after being married, her charting was able to elucidate a form of PCOS that conventional methods would not have diagnosed. Her NFP-trained physician was able to read her charts and improve her irregular cycles, and within a few months of treatment, Alexa conceived. Unfortunately, my daughter relocated shortly afterwards and started seeing a non-NFP-trained Ob-Gyn for maternity care. Although Alexa was showing signs of luteal insufficiency, the conventionally trained physician wanted to wait to treat her for this until she started bleeding. Not comfortable with this “wait and see” approach, my daughter consulted her NFP physician by phone who immediately prescribed progesterone supplementation. The two physicians’ opposing views would not permit them to work together, so she continued to consult the NFP-trained physician for progesterone monitoring remotely and the other Ob-Gyn for her maternity care. She had a normal pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. During one of her postpartum appointments, the non-NFP-trained Ob-Gyn told my daughter that NFP was not going to work for her after having the baby and recommended that she start using some other form of birth control. Alexa fortunately said, “no thank you” and went on using NFP successfully during lactation, while transitioning back to fertility, and afterwards.
This is just one example of how women must navigate through their medical care after they have made the decision to use NFP. I am sure most teachers of the Billings Ovulation Method® have similar stories. Imagine how it is for women who don’t have access to an NFP-trained physician or don’t even know that NFP is an option because their physician doesn’t offer it. The next generation of physicians, nurses, PAs, and other allied health professionals are the ones who can create change for our future. Arming them with the knowledge of the Billings Ovulation Method® while they are in school and before they start practicing will give them confidence to persevere through the current culture in reproductive medicine.
Experienced fund-raisers will tell you that donors like to know what their contribution will accomplish. Our campaign gives us a strong story to tell. Since a typical medical practice will see about 92 patients a week, one medical professional can have over 4000 appointments a year and 90,000 during their career. The health professional’s position gives them credibility, so the potential impact to women’s health is enormous! When you add the additional benefits using the Billings Ovulation Method® has on the husband and family, the result of training one healthcare provider is overwhelmingly powerful!
To achieve our goal, we need to raise $255,000 over the next 12-18 months. This budgets for 250 student trainings and will add some funds for helping established physicians implement fertility awareness-based methods into their practices. Most of this budget will be used to pay for the trainers and deliver the education to the students in remote and in-person training sessions. It also covers the administrative costs of implementing the program and the ongoing revenue development activities needed to fund it. This will cause BOMA to thrive and grow, allowing us to pursue the goals we all want our organization to achieve.
Many of you reading this are already donors, therefore I want to challenge you to consider who you know in your own network who might have the desire to help us. If you are not currently a donor, please consider making a tax-deductible donation towards our campaign. We are in the networking and prospecting stage, using small grassroots meetings and one-to-one discussion to sell the BOMA brand. Please email Craig@BOMA-USA.org if you have leads or contacts, and I will contact you to carefully consider how they can be approached. We also humbly ask for your prayers as we proceed.
Thank you for being BOMA supporters.
God’s blessings to you and your loved ones.
Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.
Q. Tell us about your family.
Well, I have 3 sons and 9 grandchildren. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. We had very strong parents, and our family is very close. When my husband left, my parents and my siblings did everything they could to help me raise my boys, and I am eternally grateful to them. My sons are all married with children. They are all still in the Church, and I'm very proud of them.
Q. You’re one of the old-timers in the Billings arena. How long ago did you first get involved, and how did things evolve into you being the first NFP director for the Diocese of Memphis?
I love being an old-timer too. I learned the Billings Method in 1976. I didn't actually learn it very well, but I was so grateful for the knowledge that there really was a way to know about our fertility. I just knew I had to tell people about it. I thought, "Everyone needs to know about mucus!" I never intended to be a teacher, but God had other plans for my life. My idea of birth control was self-control while trying to use the Rhythm Method. I always knew God would give me the children He wanted me to have, and of course He did.
I sort of got hooked into becoming a teacher because back then, if you learned the Method, you could be a teacher. I can't say I did a great job in the beginning either! Once I saw that we really needed some kind of structure, three of us tried to put together a program offering Billings classes 4 times a year. I wrote up an outline so we would have something to follow, and we did that for several years. In 1982 St. Joseph Hospital here in Memphis wanted to open a Center for Life and include and NFP Center in it. I was asked if I wanted to be in charge there. I said no. God said yes, and so I did for 6 years. When the hospital closed and the property was sold to St. Jude Hospital, St. Francis Hospital gave me a room and we had classes there. Later in 1988, the Diocese of Memphis took on me and the NFP Center, and that's how I became the director.
Q. Your program became well-known as being strongly Billings. In fact, didn’t you have the Drs. Billings speak in Memphis? Tell us about that experience.
We were so blessed to have John and Lyn Billings come to Memphis in 1985. There were some wonderful benefactors here, Paul and Joan Mahoney, who wanted to bring them to Memphis to speak to all the doctors in the city along with all the priests. Paul always told me I was doing the most important work in the Church. J. Francis Stafford was our bishop then, and he was so happy to have the Drs. Billings come here. I made sure they were booked the entire time they were here, from TV and radio interviews, talks at the Catholic high schools, a doctors' dinner, a priests' luncheon, and talks at a parish and nursing school. I wore them completely out, but I wanted everyone in the city to hear about their wonderful work. When I picked them up at the airport, I told them I had done all I knew to promote their visit, but I had no idea how many people would come. In his great humility, John Billings said to me, "Mary Pat, if only one person comes, that person is the reason we came to Memphis." That really put me at ease, and we had wonderful crowds at every event.
Dr. Hanna Klaus also had them here in Memphis during a BOMA conference in 1994. I have so many wonderful memories of being with them during that time too.
Q. What was it like being a founding member of the board for what used to be known as the Diocesan Development Program for NFP (of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Was there any particular initiative that the board took on that had lasting effects to this day?
The DDP was established earlier, but in 1986, I was asked to be on a committee to look at ways to help the dioceses improve their programs for teaching NFP. That committee became the National NFP Advisory Board, and we ended up writing the National Standards for Diocesan NFP Programs for the USCCB.
Q. As a trainer and supervisor of Billings teachers over many years, if you could sit down with each teacher both new and old, what advice would you give them?
Wow, I wish I really could do that! I guess the main thing I would say is always teach with love and make sure you are teaching the authentic Billings Ovulation Method without variations or alterations. Use the BOMA materials, the BOMA slides Parts 1 and 2 and the BOMA Review booklet. Make sure you do the proper follow-up with your clients every 2 weeks when they are learning. Know that you are doing a wonderful ministry to teach people about the marvelous way their bodies are designed by God and that their fertility is a great gift that can be understood and managed without harmful chemicals.
And of course, as Lyn Billings always taught us, KEEP IT SIMPLE! You don't have to teach everything you know. Give your clients the information that they need to learn to pay attention to their sensation at the vulva and the appearance of any discharge they might happen to see each day. Teach them how to chart their observations accurately each evening and teach them the 4 Rules. Teach the 3 requirements for Peak and the definition of Peak clearly and repeat those important things over and over. This is all new to most people, so be patient with your clients and help them gain confidence in themselves and their ability to know and love their fertility. And remember, you are doing the most important work in the Church!!
Q. Your work with our Education Committee has been tremendous! The newly designed PowerPoints and matching Review booklets have been a great help to our teachers. What inspired the creation of them?
It is my understanding that the last set of BOMA slides was needing an update so the new slides resulted from that update project. All BOMA teachers should be using the new slides Parts 1 and 2 when teaching the Billings Method now so we can know that the Billings Method™ is being taught accurately and consistently in the U.S. without variation.
Q. We also know you as the founder of the Mother/Daughter, Father/Son Program that started in Memphis but has been used in other dioceses. How did that come about, what does it entail, and is it still available for Billings teachers who might be interested in presenting it?
In 1986, our little group of NFP teachers wanted to find a way to share the knowledge we had learned, and we thought we could help mothers talk to their daughters about growing up and the changes of early adolescence with regards to their emerging fertility. We just sort of made up the program and hoped people would come. We thought if 20 people came, we would call it a success. Well, we filled up the auditorium at St. Joseph Hospital and had to schedule another one that first year. Mothers have been grateful ever since. They wanted another program for older girls and they wanted one for their sons, so I put together a very rough manual at the request of Fr. Paul Marx of Human Life International. The word spread, and NFP teachers around the country were presenting our Mother/Daughter and Father/Son Fertility Appreciation and Chastity Programs. They were such a great gift from God.
It is very important that only NFP teachers and users present the programs because they believe the truth and live it. The manual was put on the Diocese of Memphis website, but it's not there anymore. If anyone wants to look at it, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to send the file to you. It's nothing fancy and it's really old, but the information is there to help anyone who wants to present the programs.
Q. You’re a relatively new retiree. When did you retire from the Memphis diocese, and what are you doing with all of your time?
I wish I could tell you I have a lot of free time, but I really don't. I retired almost 2 years ago, but I am still very involved with BOMA as a trainer and supervisor and member of the Education Committee. I totally love to train new teachers, and I am a stickler for teaching it right. But once they learn, they will have it forever, and that makes me very happy. I also love to go on a cruise any time I can afford it, and I love spending time with my family and my grandchildren. I am also a huge Elvis fan, so I have to have some Elvis fun at least twice a year doing Elvis Week and the Tupelo Elvis Festival.
I try to go to noon Mass every day, and that is always my strength.
By Ann Marschel
I want you to think about this for a little bit. Do you think of teaching the Billings Ovulation Method® (BOM) as a ministry or a business? I think most of us think of it as a ministry.
Ministry, by definition from Webster, is the spiritual work or service of any Christian. Teaching BOM is a ministry, but it also can be a business. It can be a business that allows you to help others while also making a profit and not burning out because you have lots of other jobs you are doing.
For the April webinar, BOMA-USA hosted Anna Saucier, who spoke on the promotion of the Billings Ovulation Method®. She was a dynamite speaker and gave some helpful tips on how to make teaching BOM a business and not to underplay what we, as teachers, have to offer our clients.
As I was listening to Anna speak, her words hit home for me. I can recall many times when I have spoken with clients and gone through the process of how they will learn the method with me. Then, at the end, the question comes: “How much will this cost?”
First off, I am not a salesperson. I don’t really care for that line of work at all. In fact, I steer away from it. Instead, I am someone who thinks that ALL people should learn BOM, and I believe in the message of NFP.
After this question is asked, I find myself stumbling over my words. I want to help all people learn the method, yet will they put as much effort into learning the method if they don’t have some money invested in it? Maybe or maybe not?
Overall, we want clients to feel like they are of value, and we don’t want to make it seem like a huge amount of money is needed to learn the Billings Ovulation Method®. Yet, do we charge them a huge amount of money? No. Most teachers charge $150 to $250. Plus, when they learn the method, they have it in their toolbox for the rest of their lives!
Anna said, “Those who pay, pay attention. And the more they pay, the more attention they pay.”
She goes onto say that you can approach your clients by stating, “These are my rates. I provide excellent service, and if you take these classes, they will change your life.”
This is another truth. We all know and love what the Billings Ovulation Method® provides. We value it so much that we want everyone to learn it. That is why we teach it. We can and should charge clients a professional rate and not feel bad about it. After all, we have over 850,000 hormonal studies to back up the science of the method.
Common Objections to Charging Professional Rates
Even with this, there may still be hesitation to charge a professional rate. You may think people won’t pay that much. I would like to encourage you to reframe your thinking. Is learning BOM valuable? If someone says to you, “That is too expensive,” you could ask. “Compared to what?”
This is a lifetime method.
Maybe you think people in your city can’t and won’t be able to pay that much. Anna said this, “The people who can’t afford it may not be your purpose right now (depending if you’re trying to grow a business). Do not undervalue this professional service.” In the future, these people may benefit if you can have scholarship funds for them.
By viewing the Billings Ovulation Method® as a medical tool for fertility awareness and instilling this knowledge in our clients, we will change their lives and the world.
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method® which is a natural method of fertility management that teaches you to recognize the body's natural signs of fertility.