OBITUARY: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Dr Lyn Billings (1918-2013), pioneer of natural family-planning
, March 2, 2013
Dr Evelyn Livingston Billings AM: born February 8, 1918; died February 16, 2013.
Dr Evelyn “Lyn” Billings, co-founder of the Billings Method of natural family-planning with her late husband, Dr John Billings, died in Melbourne on February 16 at the age of 95.
The Billings were pioneers in natural family-planning, using the natural cycle of women’s fertility to enable couples to reliably plan their family size without recourse to the contraceptive pill. It has been used by millions of couples around the world.
Dr Lyn Billings (1918-2013).
The Billings Method has also been successfully used by many couples believed to be infertile to conceive a baby naturally.
After graduating in medicine from the University of Melbourne, Lyn studied paediatrics as a postgraduate in London, afterwards undertaking paediatric practice in Melbourne.
Later she became a senior demonstrator in embryology and histology within the Department of Anatomy of the University of Melbourne.
With her husband, she undertook an intensive study of women’s fertility, discovering the method by which couples could identify accurately the periods of fertility and infertility in women’s natural cycles.
Her studies on breastfeeding mothers and women approaching menopause made a major contribution to the work.
The Billings set up an organisation, the Ovulation Method Research and Reference Centre of Australia Ltd, which operated as Billings LIFE, and an international body, the World Organisation of the Ovulation Method Billings (WOOMB International Ltd) to promote the Billings Method internationally.
Additionally, they wrote a book, The Billings Method, first published in 1980. This book was reprinted 16 times with seven new or revised editions. The latest completely revised edition was published in 2011.
Access to this book, published in 22 languages, made the Billings Method a household name and gave hope to millions of couples throughout the world.
John and Lyn travelled the world tirelessly to promote natural family-planning, and visited more than 100 countries, some of them repeatedly, to teach natural family-planning and support organisations working for families.
Among the countries where they were welcomed was China, despite the Communist Party’s one-child policy backed up by enforced abortion.
They brought the Billings Ovulation Method to China where it is now incorporated into the government’s family-planning program as a method of choice by fertile couples.
Dr Lyn Billings received the Distinctive Contribution Award from the Consultation Committee of the Ministry of Health of China, and was appointed an honorary advisor to the Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing family-planning commissions.
Teaching centres of the Billings Ovulation Method have been established in over 30 countries in all continents, including both developed and developing countries.
John and Lyn Billings were faithful Catholics, and were committed to the Church’s teaching on fertility and the regulation of birth.
In 2002, John and Lyn were jointly declared International Catholic Physicians of the Year by FIAMC, the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, at a congress in Seoul, South Korea, for their multiple visits over many years to more than 100 countries around the world in order to strengthen family life by the promotion of a natural method of fertility regulation.
In 2003, on the 50th anniversary of the Billings Ovulation Method, Lyn — who was personal friend of three popes — was made a Dame Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II, in recognition of half a century of work for families. She was also an active member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 1991 Australia Day Honours.
Dr Lyn Billings, together with her husband, has been awarded honorary doctorates by universities in Buenos Aires, Argentina; in the Dominican Republic; in Puebla, Mexico; and by the Australian Catholic University, for services to medicine and the welfare of women. In addition, the couple were awarded an Honoris Causa degree from Tor Vergata University in Rome in 2005.
Couples all over the world bear testament to the wonderful work of this selfless woman and her husband. In China alone, where they trained thousands to teach their Method, a substantial drop in the abortion rate has been attributed to their work.
John and Lyn Billings were always firmly grounded in their work and their family. Lyn is survived by eight of her nine children, as well as 39 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
Her work will continue in many countries through the organisations she and her husband established.
Further information can be found on the WOOMB International web site, at: