Due to severe menstrual bleeding, my wife was advised to undergo a hysterectomy by Dr. Thomas Hilgers of The PP VI Institute.
Our local doctor concurred with Dr. Hilgers but recommended a uterine ablation instead, due to reduced surgical risk (One year prior to all this my wife suffered a massive spontaneous carotid artery dissection, mini strokes, and was diagnosed with 3 different blood clotting disorders).
Dr. Hilgers rationale for the hysterectomy was that it was the definitive treatment for uncontrollable menstual bleeding.
In the end our local doctor agreed to perform the hysterectomy, but strongly recoommended the ablation instead, with one condition. He insisted that we allow him to perform a tubal ligation if we opted for the ablation over the hysterectomy. In fact, he would not do one without the other. He said another preganancy for my wife could be very dangerous due to her past history of blood problems without even considering the additional risk posed by pregnancy after ablation.
Up to this point we had four live children and six miscarriages.
We grappled with his proposal, prayed, and sought the adivice of CCL in Cinn. OH as well as from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. While we knew direct sterilization was wrong, we wondered if our circumstances fell into that category. We had always been an Natural Family Planning couple and were deeply saddened by either option.
It seemed to be an impossible situation. If we chose the hysterectomy, the bleeding would be stopped and there would be no chance of future preganancy. However the surgical risks of blood clots would be much greater. On the other hand if we chose the ablation, the bleeding would be stopped (if done right) but the possibility of pregnancy would still remain. We figured we could have tried to use NFP to prevent pregnancy, but were concerned about error. Or we could have chosen to live without marital relations altogether.
In the end we agreed to the ablation and tubal procedure beleiving it to be the safest route to take. Our rationale being that we could have just as easily in good concience choosen the hysterectomy, in which case the fallopian tubes would have been severed to remove the uterus anyway.
I have waffled over the decision ever since it was made and often times wished I (we) had decided on the hysterectomy instead. Why? Because I feel guilty about allowing the tubal ligation. I also feel guilty about having relations with my wife during what would have been her fertile period of her cycle thinking that I am in some way benefitting from a sinful act. I have confessed all these things to a priest who tells me that our decision was sound. Others have told me that if someone undergoes sterilization they are obliged to confess their sin, but not necessarily to reverse the process ( in this case the tubes were removed so it would be impossible to reverse) or to practice any particular abstinence because of it. To further complicate matters, my wife believes our decision, though painful, was the right one, and that my guilt is the unfounded result of a tender conscience.
Lastly, the sterilization was not our idea. We didn’t desire it or seek it. If fact we lamented it. We only wanted to do what was best.
- Is my guilt justified?
2, Is what we did wrong?
- If so how can I make it right?
Thankyou and god bless your work.