Dr. Malcolm Potts: ‘We have the power to break the shackles of reproductive slavery’

Malcolm Potts, MD, delivers his second Samuel A. Cosgrove Memorial Lecture during Monday’s Presidential Program. While discussing family planning, he praised ACOG’s recent support of over-the-counter oral contraception as “good science.”

Malcolm Potts, MD, delivers his second Samuel A. Cosgrove Memorial Lecture during Monday’s Presidential Program. While discussing family planning, he praised ACOG’s recent support of over-the-counter oral contraception as “good science.”

Family planning is a natural and essential part of modern living, said Malcolm Potts, MD, chair of population and family planning at the University of California, Berkley’s School of Public Health, as he led off the Monday, May 6, Annual Clinical Meeting President’s Program with his presentation “Sex, Ideology, and Religion: How Family Planning Frees Women and Changes the World.”

Dr. Potts delivered the Samuel A. Cosgrove Memorial Lecture—his second time being selected for this honor—to a packed room of ob-gyns. “I believe a woman has a right to decide how to use her own body,” he said. “It is a freedom that separates a slave from a free person. As physicians and obstetricians, we have the power to break the shackles of reproductive slavery.”

Family planning has “allowed societies to become more sustainable and more prosperous, and the world has become a more peaceful place,” he said.

Beyond the numerous health benefits for women who take oral contraceptives, there are many societal benefits of family planning, from lifting populations out of poverty to curbing terrorism. It is imperative that ob-gyns promote family planning around the world—especially in impoverished nations, he said.

Dr. Potts said he was honored to give the Cosgrove Lecture for a second time, particularly because ACOG’s Committee on Gynecologic Practice recently called for the US to make oral contraception available over the counter (OTC)—a statement that caused the audience to break into applause. (See Committee Opinion #544, December 2012.)

“This is good science,” he said. “It will benefit women. Half of all of the pregnancies in the US are unintended. A study quoted by ACOG found 60% of women not currently using contraceptives would be more likely to use them if oral contraceptives were available over the counter. OTC distribution makes perfect sense. Family planning is a choice, not a diagnosis by a physician.”

The many ways of apology

Gary Chapman, PhD, discusses “The Five Languages of Apology” during Monday’s President’s Program. He encouraged attendees to find which of the “languages” are best to speak in their own personal and professional relationships.

Gary Chapman, PhD, discusses “The Five Languages of Apology” during Monday’s President’s Program. He encouraged attendees to find which of the “languages” are best to speak in their own personal and professional relationships.

Gary Chapman, PhD, president of Marriage and Family Life Consultants Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC, and author of the bestselling book The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, presented “The Five Languages of Apology,” as the Jim and Midge Breeden Lecture.

Dr. Chapman discovered there are different ways in which an apology can come across as sincere. He listed the ways people communicate and best receive apologies:

  1. Expressing regret—This is simply saying, “I’m sorry.” “Please don’t ever use the words ‘I’m sorry’ alone. Tell them what you’re sorry for,” he said.
  2. Accepting responsibility—This occurs when people say, “I was wrong. I should not have done that.” “For some people, this is difficult. My guess is there are some of you sitting out there right now who’ve never said these words.”
  3. Making restitution—“What can I do to make it right?” “Incidentally this has huge implications in business. Think about the times where a business transaction didn’t go well and they made no offer of restitution.”
  4. Genuinely repenting—“Expressing the desire to change.” The process of this, he said, includes a decision to change and a plan for improvement.
  5. Requesting forgiveness—“Will you please forgive me?” “I guarantee a lot of us in here have never asked  for forgiveness.”

While knowing these five ways we communicate and receive apologies are imperative to marriages and other relationships, Dr. Chapman said they could also be powerful in the field of medicine, with the possible exception of admitting wrong-doing.

“Historically, attorneys have always said to physicians, ‘Don’t ever apologize,’” he said. “Thankfully, that’s changing in today’s culture. What we’re beginning to find out is that if a physician does apologize for an unintended outcome, they are less likely to be sued.”