Natural Family Planning speaker drew line in the sand

She wasn’t comfortable with it, but Diane Dunniway could rationalize prescribing contraception — at first.

A nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health, she knew Catholic physicians who were prescribing contraception and she figured the women she was seeing would just go elsewhere to get what they wanted anyway.

“At least I was giving them information about the consequences of their actions,” Dunniway told 30 certified natural family planning instructors at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria last Saturday. She was the keynote speaker for the annual gathering, which is sponsored by the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family.

As she shared her story, Dunniway talked about what caused her to consider “Drawing My Line in the Sand.”

THAT DECISION started when the women who came to the office started asking her to insert intrauterine devices for them.

“I knew these had abortifacient properties” Dunniway explained. “I was not only prescribing (contraception) , now I was doing it for them.”Seeking any reason to avoid performing these procedures, she said, “each time I went into the confessional the same sin was being confessed.”

Dunniway, who holds bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in nursing and is now a candidate for the doctorate of nursing practice, said her conscience got another nudge when her pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Kickapoo asked her to be an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

“In reading the materials, it said you should be a pillar of the church,” she told the NFP practitioners and instructors. “I said, ‘What kind of pillar am I? I didn’t feel worthy of this honor at all.”

“I know you’re going to change,” Dunniway heard in reply.

And she did.

SEEKING OUT resources, she heard Father Daniel McCaffrey of NFP Outreach in Oklahoma City talk about contraception and said, “It was the first time I heard the church’s teaching so forcefully announced.”

While she had always been worried about imposing her values on other people, he challenged the nurse practitioners to ask themselves, “How can you allow them to impose their values on you?”

Dr. Janet Smith’s tape, “Contraception: Why Not,” gave Dunniway the language she needed to tell people why she decided to make a change. “With God’s help, I knew I needed to take the next step,” she said.
With her husband’s support, she asked God to start opening doors.

One door led to Paul Kortz, director of the OSF Saint Francis FertilityCare Center in Peoria, who helped her to arrange for training in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. Another brought acceptance from the doctor she worked with, who allowed her to establish an NFP-only practice, and her doctorate program, which is accepting her training in the Creighton Model as part of her requirements for graduation next May.

Dr. Karla Polaschek, an NFP-only obstetrician and gynecologist in Moline, and Maggie Schoonmaker, a fertility educator in her office, waited behind another door with resources and assurances that she could do this.

BY THE time Dunniway got her training and opened her NFP-only practice, she had 12 patients interested and three elected to make the switch with her.

Now she has about 18 patients and expects to finalize her training through the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb., in January.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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