Culture of Life
They’ve Got The Cure
BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN
February 24-March 1, 2008 Issue | Posted 2/19/08 at 2:06 PM
When obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Angela Flippin-Trainer and her husband John-William Trainer III were deciding on a name for the pro-life medical practice they were going to open, she asked him how to say love in Latin. “Caritas,” he replied.
“Two days later Pope Benedict came out with his encyclical Deus Caritas Est,” Flippin-Trainer says. “This practice is about love of life that can come only through Christ and his Church. To see Benedict come out two days later with God Is Love, how wonderful and how fitting we thought that name would be for our practice.”
The fully pro-life practice, Caritas Obstetrics and Gynecology of Naples, opened Nov. 7, 2007, in Naples, Fla. Flippin-Trainer left her position as chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and a very lucrative career, says her husband.
One reason for the move was the steady flow of frightened young women coming in with STDs. “I was seeing that because of birth-control pills,” says Flippin-Trainer, a board-certified specialist. “They thought they were protected, and this made them more [promiscuous]. The consequences were physically severe, and mentally and spiritually very depressing and traumatic. They were going to live with this for the rest of their lives.”
“As a physician, I always wanted people to get better,” adds the good doctor. “If I continued to prescribe birth-control pills, this was not going to help them in terms of these diseases.”
She was also motivated after reading “an enormously strong study on Polycarp.org that really shows the disturbingly strong link between breast cancer and birth-control pills ignored or suppressed by the media.”
Her personal life also played a role.
“God led me to this wonderful Catholic man, John-William,” she explains. “I was reared in a strong Baptist family, but always searching for something deeper.”
“The more I explored Catholicism,” she says, “the more I agreed with what the Church was teaching.” She entered the Church at Easter in 2004. Soon she and John-William were NFP coordinators for the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
“When I converted, I was on the fence about contraception, but not with the Church’s position on it,” she explains. “I just didn’t know if I would be able to make a living without giving out contraceptives and doing tubal ligations. For many doctors this is an economic as well as a spiritual decision.”
“The more I was seeing women coming from the sexualized culture, the more I felt I must take a stand on it,” continues Dr. Flippin-Trainer. “I was already practicing NFP in my own marriage. I couldn’t go to work every day and continue to write prescriptions for birth-control pills, because it was giving me a real crisis of conscience.
“You can’t really serve both God and man — you can’t. And when you begin to serve God, you feel a whole lot better.”
John-William brought to the marriage his learning in moral theology, gained in seminary when he was discerning a possible call to the priesthood. He was all for the pro-life practice.
“We put her background and mine together, prayed, and trusted in God,” says John-William, who serves as the practice’s administrator. “God has been very good and opened doors for us.”
Women in the area were already praying for that kind of door to open. One was Rachel Baier of Bonita Springs.
“I was there the first day they opened the practice,” says Baier. She and husband Scott have three young children. “Dr. Flippin-Trainer had just come from a funeral, yet she was so positive and so joyful.”
Baier finds she’s treated here with great respect, in contrast to some past experiences she can recall with some other practices. She’s not worrying now about callous remarks from nurses pushing artificial contraception.
“When my last child was delivered — while I was in labor — the nurses were asking me if I’m going have my tubes tied. The audacity!” says Baier. “I’m sure with Dr. Flippin-Trainer that’s not going to happen. What a blessing it is to have someone like her deliver your children.”
Bishop Frank Dewane is also pleased to have an Ob-Gyn practicing in the Diocese of Venice “who follows Catholic Church teaching, who fully understands and can teach Natural Family Planning, and who particularly does not provide or refer for contraceptives,” he says. “Dr. Flippin-Trainer can also treat patients with infertility issues using natural methods that are acceptable to the Church. She is a model for other Catholic physicians in the diocese.”
The couple’s efforts to defend life and strengthen Catholic marriage include teaching NFP classes for the diocese.
Unsurprisingly, the couple see their work as part of the New Evangelization called for by Pope John Paul II. Even before Flippin-Trainer and John-William were married, they studied Theology of the Body together.
Combining good medicine with good theology has led to turnarounds, too. Flippin-Trainer well remembers one patient whose ultrasound showed her baby had a severe cardiac defect. Her doctor at the time recommended she terminate the baby. Second opinion: the same. Then she came to Dr. Flippin-Trainer — and had the baby. Even though the little one lived only nine days, blessings flowed from the birth.
“The patient came to me for her follow-up and said it was sad, but this was one of the best decisions she ever made,” says Flippin-Trainer. “The idea she chose life had striking ramifications for her and her family. It drew her family closer together. She was almost radiant because of the decision she had made.”
John-William talks about their own loss last summer, when their son Thomas Maria Trainer died in utero at 24 weeks.
“We felt it as such a blow to us,” he says. “Then we saw that, without much prayer, we wouldn’t be able to do this practice without a saint in heaven to help us through. He’s praying for us; he can do much for us.”
The couple are also the parents of a happy 2½-year-old daughter, Aelia.
“We want women to be able to embrace the practice of pro-life philosophy, and I want other doctors to see they can live their faith and not be scared to live it,” says Flippin-Trainer. “To paraphrase John Paul II: God may ask you to do radical things, but do not be afraid to do the radical things God asks you to do.”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen
is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
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