News & Commentary

Culture spotting: the celebration of new life

Patrick F. Fagan | May 15 2017

Greek Orthodox baptism. By Nek Vardikos [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimendia Commons 

Culture is a society’s way of joyfully guiding itself into the future, a future made most visible in its ever-repeating cycle of celebrations.

When you cut to the quick on that future the child emerges.  Looked at differently, our culture is our way of collectively guiding ourselves to guide our children along certain paths, as elegantly as we can, to ensure as good a future as we can for them.

Why the emphasis on elegance?  Because culture is a common enjoyment.  It is “beauty for everyone”.

Culture is a people giving themselves a little bit of heaven while here on earth: enjoying the beauty we have created for ourselves as a people.  Thus special days are celebrated as beautifully as we can: birthdays, weddings especially — a high point of culture, as are all the key steps leading up to it: the patterns of romance and of engagement.  So too are a peoples big festivals honoring its history as a people and so too are its big religious holidays made to be enjoyed (even the somber ones).

Thus we can also admire and vicariously enjoy other peoples’ cultures: the Italians as they celebrate in their very Italian way all sorts of feast days; Indians of India with very different religious feast days and holidays; Chinese in their ways, Japanese in theirs.  And so it goes on, all around the world.

There are common elements in all cultures: birth, marriage, death and funerals, courtship, birthdays, high religious feast days. They exist all over the globe for all peoples in all places.  Life has the same common “critical tasks” no matter what nation or people we are.

For us in the US the question today is “What do we celebrate together now?”  With birth a suspect thing (thanks to abortion and out of wedlock births), with romance dying (given contraception and the hookup culture), with weddings only for some and far fewer, and with the afterlife non-existent for an increasing number, lots of the reasons for elegant celebration or mourning are gone.  The building of elegance around these milestones in the life can no longer be a common project for present America.  We do not have a culture war. Instead, through shared embarrassment, we have a culture starvation.

Some of our states have even eliminated death as a stage – it has now become a choice!   But who can celebrate an assisted suicide.  Can anyone envisage great art being inspired by such?  A new Mozart Requiem that brings us deep within ourselves even as it brings us up to the heavens?  For suicide?

We are a people who no longer have a common project of shepherding the child onto a life path that leads to the “good life” (or a “good enough” life) and finally into the afterlife.  We no longer have such a common project to which to commit.  Hence we can have no culture.

But the America that will survive will build its own new culture and it will come, it can only come, from those who love bringing new life into existence, for without the baby there is no cycle to repeat.

Out of the ashes of present post-modernity will spring the new American culture – probably already well underway but not visible through the mainstream media whose energies are fixated elsewhere.  Our new America will be one with ways of moving through the stages of life with the elegance that “Joe the construction worker and his wife Jane” are quite capable of expressing when they get together with their families and friends at community celebrations.

I predict that the dominant color in the new patterns being woven into the cultural fabric of the new America, the one that not only lasts but thrives, will be  the celebration of new life, and in the tapestry of this culture the thread of the Fatherhood of God will be visible.  We will find an American way to do this.  We will be a people who celebrate four beings, the new baby, the couple who co-created this new life, and God the creator.  This is the culture that will emerge, likely already is emerging.  The logic of reality makes it so.

We have lots to look forward to. Culture spotting will be the new enjoyment.

Pat Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI). This article is republished from the MARRI blog with permission.

Of the fluidity of motherhood

posted on May 13, 2017 by Cassie Moriarty      

Of the fluidity of motherhood

Motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s the mom who sat through hours of blood tests, chart analyses, and waiting rooms. The one who saw countless negative pregnancy tests and was crestfallen every time. There’s the mom who only saw one positive pregnancy test, you know the one I’m talking about. The unexpected one. The test that made the room spin and her ears ring a little. The mom who tried, the mom who took her pill loyally every night by the bedside. There’s young moms, older moms, moms of many, and moms of one. Single moms, moms with little ones whose lives were lost far too soon, and moms who didn’t birth a child, but still give out love like it’s limitless.

Mother and child by Graham Crumb

Mother’s Day is a loaded holiday, that’s for sure. Everyone’s journey to motherhood looks a little different, but every mother holds a love like no other for her children. American culture frequently talks about entering motherhood and family planning as if it’s a play book. Each couple chooses their plays and goes about their life. But in actuality, family planning is about as fluid as…well, cervical fluid. Constantly changing. Constantly ebbing and flowing. Might be one thing one week and another, another week. Couples who use fertility awareness methods are generally more in tune with this ebb and flow. I mean literally, but also emotionally. Each cycle is a new chance to deliberate the playbook.

Fertility Awareness Methods are anything but set it and forget it. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It puts you in touch with your fertility every cycle, and quite intimately. I think that’s a really cool part about it. I get to make decisions, but also work with the many moving parts of deciding when or if to grow my family.

But we don’t always get a say – life sometimes has its own plans. Infertility, miscarriage, unplanned pregnancy, they happen. Family planning isn’t always so planned. And maybe that’s a beautiful thing. No matter how many childbirth ed classes you take, no matter how many parenting books your read, we can only control so much. I’m so grateful that using fertility awareness as a method of family planning allows me to be flexible.

So this Mother’s Day, we want to honor everyone’s journey to motherhood. It’s the most common and somehow unique job in the world. No two moms’ journeys are alike. What a shame that parenthood gets placed into two boxes, planned and unplanned. Sometimes life happens and sometimes we just need a support system to help us through. Be it miscarriage, infertility, unexpected pregnancy, and all the things that happen after birth that we simply can’t plan for.

To every mama, we see you and we are ever grateful for the tireless work, the sleepless nights, the early mornings, the playdates, the many doctor’s visits, and the tears (often your own). You’re rocking it.

Posted by Cassie Moriarty
Cassondra Moriarty is a filmmaker and fertility charting instructor in training based out of Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her husband. She is currently screening Miscontraceptions around the city and working to promote Fertility Awareness. She has trained with the Couple to Couple League and is in the process of getting her FEMM certification.

Cardinal Sarah reveals the surprising cause and remedy for the fears and anxieties of our time

Steve Jalsevac

Note: numbers before quoted paragraphs are as published in Cardinal Sarah’s book.

May 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Why have we seen such a dramatic increase in anxiety, fear, personal disorientation, irrational anger and forced imposition of political correctness over the past 50+ years in developed nations? Have you noticed how many now reject reason and sound arguments and accept only “facts”, “evidence” or “studies” that agree with what they desire – no matter how pathetically flawed their supporting items are? There is a surprising cause for most of this and an ages-old, surprising remedy.

We are in an age of increasing social madness. Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his new book, The Power of Silence, reveals this to be symptomatic of a widespread spiritual illness in modern Western culture. This illness, according to him, is largely caused by an absence of crucially needed, God and truth-revealing periods of silence of the ears, of the eyes and of the heart in the life of modern men and women.


Yes, silence. Sarah shows the way out of the tyranny of destructive external and internal noise and the incredible power and necessity of silence, which he proclaims is “more important than any other human work.”

Reading the comments under LifeSite’s well-researched and written reports, we are frequently struck by the inability of so many to calmly think and reason and to appreciate the implications of what the news reports reveal. Reason, facts, solid research – are all given much less importance, if any, these days than politically correct and especially emotional considerations. Modern man allows feelings and images to dominate and enslave him, much to his personal and social detriment.

Cardinal Sarah warns us that,

47. Humanity itself has returned to the sad prophecy of Isaiah, which was repeated by Jesus: “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with heart, and turn for me to heal them”. (Mt 13:13, 15) p.44

Because of all the noise experienced by our eyes, ears and hearts, modern man no longer hears, experiences and knows God. He is unable to comprehend the purpose and even the value of his life and the lives of others. Hence the acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, transgenerism and many other anti-human perversities. Today’s men and women and youth are lost and swirling in a downward spiral of self-destroying anxieties, fears, vulgarity, disorientation and violence.

Sarah goes so far as to proclaim that, “In killing silence, man assassinates God.” p.57

Modern civilization does not know how to be quiet

Let me further quote liberally from Cardinal Sarah and the astonishing insights in his book:

74. Our world no longer hears God because it is constantly speaking, at a devastating speed and volume, in order to say nothing. Modern civilization does not know how to be quiet. It holds fourth in an unending monologue. Postmodern society rejects the past and looks at the present as a cheap consumer object; it pictures the future in terms of an almost obsessive progress. It’s dream, which has become a sad reality, will have been to lock silence away in a damp, dark dungeon. Thus there is a dictatorship of speech, a dictatorship of verbal emphasis. In this theatre of shadows, nothing is left but a purulent wound of mechanical words, without perspective, without truth, and without foundation. Quite often “truth” is nothing more than the pure and misleading creation of the media, corroborated by fabricated images and testimonies.

When that happens the word of God fades away, inaccessible and inaudible. Postmodernity is an ongoing offence and aggression against the divine silence. From morning to evening, from evening to morning, silence no longer has any place at all; the noise tries to prevent God himself from speaking. In this hell of noise, man disintegrates and is lost; he is broken up into countless worries, fantasies, and fears. In order to get out of these depressing tunnels, he desperately awaits noise so that it will bring him a few consolations. Noise is a deceptive, addictive, and false tranquilizer. P. 56

Those are powerful, perceptive words! Much of the chaos that we report every day in LifeSite stories is reflected in those two preceding paragraphs. Cardinal Sarah does not “beat around the bush.” He gives it to us straight so that we might be able to fully understand and respond to our illness. That is what a genuine doctor of the soul must do. This is not facile “accompaniment,” but rather true shepherding and acceptance of the call to be a prophet for our time.

The silence of the eyes

Sarah carefully explains that the silence he is talking about involves much more that what enters the ears. Everything that enters the mind and heart through the senses, emotions and memories can create howling internal “noise” and greatly disturb our internal equilibrium, sense of being and relationship to our Creator.

I have never heard the term, “silence of the eyes,” but Cardinal Sarah explains it well, especially as it applies to our modern culture:

46. The silence of the eyes consists of being able to close one’s eyes in order to contemplate God who is in us, in the interior depths of our personal abyss. Images are drugs that we can no longer do without, because they are present everywhere and at every moment. Our eyes are sick, intoxicated, they can no longer close. It is necessary to stop one’s ears too, because there are sonic images that assault and violate our sense of hearing, our intellect, and our imagination. P.44

43. For some years now there has been a constant onslaught of images, lights, and colours that blind man. His interior dwelling is violated by the unhealthy, provocative images of pornography, bestial violence, and all sorts of worldly obscenities that assault purity of heart and infiltrate through the door of sight. P.42

44. The faculty of sight, which ought to see and contemplate the essential things, is turned aside to what is artificial. Our eyes confuse day and night because our whole lives are so immersed in a permanent light. In the cities that shine with a thousand lights, our eyes no longer find restful areas of darkness, and consciences no longer recognize sin.

Negative impact on the conscience

All this external and subsequent internal “noise” has had a profoundly negative impact on the consciences of modern men and women. Our otherwise natural perceptions of right and wrong are suppressed or confused. Modern man can’t comprehend the reality of moral absolutes and instead wallows in ever-changing, emotionally self-serving and personally destructive moral relativism.

Cardinal Sarah continues,

To a large extent, humanity has lost an awareness of the seriousness of sin and of the disorder that its presence has introduced into personal, ecclesial, and social life. More than 50 years ago, in his homily on September 20, 1964, Blessed Paul VI stated this tragedy in these terms:

In the language of respectable people today, in their books, in the things that they say about man, you will not find that dreadful word which, however, is very frequent in the religious world – our world – especially in close relation to God: the word is “sin”. In today’s way of thinking, people are no longer regarded as sinners. They’re categorized as being healthy, sick, good, strong, weak, rich, poor, wise, ignorant; but one never encounters the word sin. The human intellect having thus been detached from divine wisdom, this word “sin” does not recur because we have lost the concept of sin. One of the most penetrating and grave words of Pope Pius XII, of venerable memory, was, “the modern world has lost the sense of sin.” What is this if not the rupture of our relationship with, God, caused precisely by “sin”.

Those words were written by Paul VI in 1964, but so much has happened since then that we can confidently say that the word “sin” is no longer even “very frequent in the religious world.” Pastors, bishops and even the current Pope don’t like to inflict guilt on the flock, and especially on those engaged in immoral behaviours, by using the word “sin”. If any sin is mentioned at all it is often in relation to supposed “sins” against the environment or economic or other worldly issue “sins” or the sin of being too “rigid” and faithful.

Sarah next presents a poetic and powerful quote from Saint John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitencia dated December 2, 1984 (no. 18).

45. Far from God and from the lights that spring from the true Light, man can no longer see the stars, cities have become such flashlights the dazzle our eyes. Modern life does not allow us to look calmly at things. Our eyelids remain open incessantly, but our eyes are forced to look at a sort of ongoing spectacle. The dictatorship of the image, which plunges our attention into a perpetual whirlpool, detests silence. Man feels obliged to seek ever new realities that give him an appetite to own things; but his eyes are red, haggard, and sick. The artificial spectacles and the screens glowing uninterruptedly try to bewitch the mind and the soul. In the brightly lit prisons of the modern world, man is separated from himself and from God. He is riveted to ephemeral things, farther and farther away from what is essential. P.43

I have so far only read up to page 56 in the The Power of Silence, but already Sarah has given a few prescriptions here and there on how to overcome this tyranny of noise.

He quotes Mother Teresa who wrote, “silence of speech, gesture, or activity finds its full meaning in the search for God. This search is truly possible only in a silent heart.” Sarah says that “This nun did not like to speak and fled the storms of worldly noise.”

“Silence needs meekness and humility”, writes Sarah, “and it also opens for us the way to these two qualities. The humblest, meekest, and most silent of all beings is God. Silence is the only means by which to enter into this great mystery of God… In silence, man is absorbed by the divine and the world’s  movements no longer have any hold on his soul.” There is the solution.

I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of The Power of Silence. There is no doubt that many LifeSite readers would also benefit from obtaining and reading this timely, exceptionally insightful book.

The contagious joy of baptism

Aleteia . | Abr 29, 2017

Never like now a beautiful scene of a baby, his family and the experience of faith is conquering smiles and tenderness in social networks: the baptism of little Gustavo, a Brazilian baby who literally “found grace” in the middle of baptismal font!

During the ritual of baptism by immersion, the celebrant priest immerses the baby three times in the baptismal font while pronouncing the formula “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” After the first partial immersion, Gustavo releases an enormous and spontaneous laughter, of the type that only the babies manage to give, infecting the whole church with his joy.

To complete this true feast, the new baptized clap his hands together with the assembly, who applauded him by welcoming him as a Catholic! The contagious joy of baptism, in a video that will not leave you indifferent.

Moms are turning ‘extra’ embryos into jewelry. It’s not just barbaric, it’s demonic

Judie Brown

May 9, 2017 (ALL) — The latest fashion news from Australia is truly demonic: “Human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, as well as other bodily parts and fluids, can be transformed into jewelry.”

Baby Bee Hummingbirds, the company manufacturing these trinkets, is known for creating keepsakes containing such things such as breast milk and umbilical cords. Its latest product, the “leftover” human embryos from a couple’s IVF cycle, is, according to company founder Amy McGlade, a work of art. McGlade stated: “I don’t believe there is any other business in the world that creates jewelry from human embryos, and I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art, and opening the possibilities to families around the world.” McGlade says that this pioneering art of embryo jewelry is her way of giving couples “the everlasting tangible keepsake of a loved one that you can have forever.”

Naturally, many people find this disturbing. Writer Simcha Fisher is as disturbed about this latest Australian fad as we are, and in response to McGlade’s sentimental query “What a better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewelry?” wrote:

Well, you could let him live, I suppose. You could allow him the basic dignity of spending time in the womb of his mother, to live or not, to grow or not, but at least to have a chance. You could celebrate the life of your child by giving him some small gift of warmth and softness, however brief, rather than letting him travel in an insulated pouch from lab to lab, frozen and sterile from beginning to end. You could conceive a child so as to give him life, and you could rise like a human should above the blind proliferation of biology.


Jennifer Lahl of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network expressed her disgust as well: “It’s so undignified that these embryos have been destroyed to become jewelry. . . . I thought, ‘My gosh, it really has hit rock bottom.’”

But what many people apparently do not see is that the floor—or should I say the underside—of rock bottom where the synergies of evil reside is the practice of IVF itself. That is where the lack of respect for the dignity of human beings actually begins.

The Catholic Church has long held that, from a merely humane view of the child, we must realize that nobody has a right to a child. We must also understand that every child has the right to be procreated within a marriage and to have a stable family from the beginning. And certainly no child should ever be strung around someone’s neck in a piece of jewelry.

During the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the document Dignitas Personae in which it stated: “The Church moreover holds that it is ethically unacceptable to dissociate procreation from the integrally personal context of the conjugal act: human procreation is a personal act of a husband and wife, which is not capable of substitution. The blithe acceptance of the enormous number of abortions involved in the process of in vitro fertilization vividly illustrates how the replacement of the conjugal act by a technical procedure—in addition to being in contradiction with the respect that is due to procreation as something that cannot be reduced to mere reproduction—leads to a weakening of the respect owed to every human being.”

There is no doubt that the progeny of in vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies has done nothing to restore respect for the dignity of the human person. On the contrary, it has contributed to a cultural attitude that the human embryonic child is a thing, a possession, and a biological sample that can be accepted, destroyed, or frozen in time in a piece of jewelry.

Business enterprises like Baby Bee Hummingbirds gain traction in society because the bearing of a child has become nothing more than a mechanical function. And that, my friends, has taken the jewelry business to a new hellish low.

Reprinted with permission from American Life League.


Why was Our Lady of Fatima so concerned about Russia?

John-Henry Westen

May 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — As I’ve been researching Fatima for several speaking engagements this year, I was confronted over and over again by Our Lady’s insistence on Russia’s consecration. That after it was done, as well as the practice of the First Five Saturdays of reparation, Our Lady promised Russia would be converted and a period of peace would be given to the world. If not, the Queen of Heaven warned, Russia “will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” She added, “The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she said. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

Of course, St. Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to the Immaculate Heart in 1984, but we still await that period of peace. We have seen more war, massacres, martyrs, and abortions in the last half century than ever before. Ominously, we have not yet seen the annihilation of various nations. But what does all this have to do with Russia?

Russia, in the minds of most people, is the originator of communism – thought mainly to be an economic system competing with capitalism. However, when we really comprehend communism, the spread of Russia’s errors becomes recognizable.

“The Naked Communist” is the most concise and straightforward source outlining communist goals and ideology. It was written by W. Cleon Skousen, a former FBI agent who used many original sources, and the best intelligence of the FBI during its investigation of communist infiltration into the United States. The book is recorded in the Congressional Record and President Ronald Reagan commented on it saying: “No one is better qualified to discuss the threat to this nation from communism.”

A selection of the goals of communism listed by Skousen serve to illustrate its spread to all nations, especially the West:

  • Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
  • Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  • Present homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
  • Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion.
  • Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
  • Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
  • Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation, and easy divorce.
  • Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute ”prejudices, mental blocks, and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.”

Beyond communism, however, another of Russia’s errors has spread throughout the world – abortion. Abortion was first legalized in Russia in 1920. To this day, Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world per capita. With a population of 143 million, there are 1.2 million abortions per year.

There is no doubt Mary’s predictions and promises will come true. Our Lady of Fatima predicted the Second World War and even noted a warning sign that would precede it. She warned of the massive plague of impurity that has infested the planet. She gave the faithful tasks to fulfill in order to see the Triumph her Immaculate Heart and she will be faithful to those prophecies too.

So, as we honor our own mothers this month, let’s examine again the requests of Our Blessed Mother and put them into practice. She asked for prayer, particularly the Holy Rosary and the devotion of the Brown Scapular. She urged reparation for the sins and outrages perpetrated against God’s Grace and blasphemies against the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, especially with the practice of the First Five Saturdays. And finally, she asked for consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, both on a personal basis and, publicly, that of Russia by the Pope and all the world’s bishops.

Almost all of those matters are within our personal control. There is no better time than this year, especially during the season of the Resurrection, the season of Easter, to implement these practices in our lives. Let us take up the weapon of the rosary – our umbilical cord to Our Heavenly Mother. Let us make the First Five Saturdays devotion and teach them to our children. Let us consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart as St. Louis de Montfort taught and St. John Paul called “indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.”

Mother Gives Birth to Healthy Conjoined Twins After Refusing Abortion

  MICAIAH BILGER   APR 27, 2017   |   11:42AM    WASHINGTON, DC

When doctors told Chelsea Torres that she was carrying conjoined twins, they warned her that the babies probably would not survive past the first trimester.

Doctors encouraged Torres and her husband, Nick, of Blackfoot, Idaho, to consider having an abortion, The Daily Mail reports. They refused.

The Idaho parents now are so thankful that they did not listen to their doctors’ advice. Their twin girls, Callie and Carter, were born in January, and they are doing well, according to the report.

Here’s more from the report:

Callie and Carter are omphalo-ischiopagus twins, which make up less than five per cent of conjoined twins.

This means they have just two legs and one pelvis between them, but have two separate torsos that face each other.

The girls do not appear to share any vital organs.

Today, the girls are three months old and healthy. The family said Callie and Carter are doing so well that doctors do not recommend separating them.

Daily living is more difficult with conjoined twins. The twins require a lot of custom-made things, like car seats and clothes. Chelsea said she sews clothing together to fit the twins.

She said a few people stare when they see the twins, but most are very supportive.

“I’m so happy I didn’t terminate Callie and Carter, they are amazing,” their mother told the Mail. “I knew termination would not happen and I’m glad that little speck of thought I did have, I pushed away.”

Research from the University of Maryland indicates that between 40 percent and 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn.

But the length of a child’s life inside or outside the womb should not justify killing them. Too often, parents are pressured to abort their unborn babies because of a disability or a short lifespan.

In the case of Callie and Carter, the odds were against them; but because their parents chose life, they are alive and well today. Stories like the Torres family’s demonstrate why every unborn baby deserves a chance to live.

Newborn Clutches the Contraceptive Coil Meant to Prevent His Birth


Baby Dexter was not supposed to be.

His mother, Lucy Hellein of Fort Mitchell, Alabama, was using a supposedly highly effective birth control device when doctors believe she conceived Dexter, according to the Daily Mail.

And when Dexter was born on April 27, the IUD coil that was supposed to prevent his life from being conceived came out, too. A photo of the newborn grabbing the contraceptive device has been catching people’s eyes on the internet. More than 70,000 people have shared it on Facebook, the report states.

Mirena, the contraceptive coil, or IUD, that Hellein used, is advertised as 99-percent effective.

According to the Mayo Clinic: “A T-shaped plastic frame that releases a type of progestin, Mirena thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching or fertilizing an egg. Mirena also thins the lining of the uterus and partially suppresses ovulation.” Some think the IUD also may act as an abortifacient by preventing a newly-conceived unborn baby from attaching to the womb.

Hellein told the Metro that she had the Mirena inserted last August, and then discovered she was pregnant with Dexter in December. Doctors said she likely conceived him just a few days after she had the device inserted.

“I assumed I was only a few weeks along, but the ultrasound confirmed that I was already 18 weeks along,” she said. “My Mirena was nowhere to be found on ultrasound so my OB assumed that it had fallen out, but I wasn’t convinced.”

The news of an unplanned pregnancy often is followed by suggestions of abortion, but Hellein chose life for her son.

“Dexter was definitely meant to be,” she said. “Although he wasn’t planned, my family and I feel incredibly blessed.”

When Dexter was born last week, doctors found the IUD behind Hellein’s placenta, according to the report.

It is believed that nurses posed newborn Dexter with the contraceptive device in the hospital to highlight his unplanned — but not unwelcome — life. Hellein later shared the image on Facebook, where tens of thousands of people have viewed it.

Pro-lifers take varying positions on artificial contraception. Some argue that birth control can help reduce abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies, while others argue that it leads down a slippery slope to abortion.

No matter what their position on birth control, pro-lifers agree that every baby’s life, planned or unplanned, is worth celebrating.

Why birth control affects some women more than others

Scientists discover estrogen-heavy pills hamper memory and increase anxiety in females with a certain gene variant

  • Estrogen alters a memory circuit in women with a gene variant
  • When women’s estrogen levels were maniupulated, there was activity in the hippocampus while performing a working memory task
  • However, during such tasks, activity in this area is typically suppressed
  • The researchers say this explains why women are affected differently by the pill as well have differences in their menstrual cycles

Birth control pills can seem like a lottery.

Some say it gives them mood swings, stress and even depression. Others insist it clears their skin and balances their emotions.

According to a new study, it could all boil down to your genes.

Although studies have long shown estrogen-heavy pills ease depression symptoms, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found it has the opposite effect in women who carry a certain gene variant.

Brain scans revealed modified activity was linked to changes in the sex hormone in women with the gene while they performed a working memory task (the ability to hold memories for a short time while performing a separate task).

The researchers say their findings not only shed light on individual differences in the menstrual cycle but also mechanisms underlying differences in the onset, severity, and course of mood and anxiety disorders.

A new study has revealed that the hormone estrogen - found in many oral contraceptives - alters a memory circuit in women with a gene variant, while performing a working memory task (the ability to hold memories for a short time while performing a separate task)

A new study has revealed that the hormone estrogen – found in many oral contraceptives – alters a memory circuit in women with a gene variant, while performing a working memory task (the ability to hold memories for a short time while performing a separate task)

The authors, from the National Institutes of Mental Health in Maryland, say that prior to the study, there was little evidence from research that might account for individual differences in cognitive and behavioral effects of sex hormones.

‘Why do some women report that estrogen replacement improved their memory, whereas large studies of postmenopausal estrogen therapy show no overall improvement in memory performance?’ they wrote.

The study hypothesized that estrogen alters circuit function by interacting with a gene that codes for brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

BDNF is a key protein in brain plasticity and acts on certain neurons to help support the survival of existing neurons and promote the growth and development of new ones.

Researchers experimentally manipulated estrogen levels in healthy women with one or the other version of the BDNF gene over a period of months.

Brain scan showed activity in the hippocampus, or the brain’s memory hub, in response to estrogen in women performing a working memory task – if they carried the gene variant.

However, activity in this area is typically suppressed during working memory, causing the researchers to conclude that the gene-hormone interaction affects thinking and behavior.

There is mounting evidence that sex steroids, such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, play an important role in a number of serious mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Women who have episodes of depression associated with reproductive events (premenstrual or postpartum) are prone to them because of a heightened sensitivity to intense hormonal fluctuations.

While estrogen is an ‘upper’ when released naturally during the menstrual cycle, at high doses it has the opposite effect, according to Dr Deborah Sichel, a psychiatrist specializing in female mood disorders.

Estrogen induces side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness, headaches and lower libido.

‘Women may not notice their negative mood because they have been on the pill for so long, they don’t know what their mood would be like if they were off hormones,’ Dr Sichel told Shape.

‘These are all real biochemical disorders that can and should be treated.’


Catholic Psychiatric Hospital is Planning to Allow Patients to be Euthanized


One of the last substantial barriers to increasing the number of euthanasia cases for non-terminally-ill psychiatric patients in Belgium seems to have crumbled.

A religious order in the Catholic Church, the Brothers of Charity, is responsible for a large proportion of beds for psychiatric patients in Belgium – about 5,000 of them. The international head of the order, Brother René Stockman, is a Belgian who has been one of the leading opponents of euthanasia in recent years.

Nonetheless, in a surprise move this week, the board controlling the institutions of the Brothers of Charity announced that from now on, it will allow euthanasia to take place in their psychiatric hospitals.

In a statement posted on their website the Brothers of Charity explain the policy shift. “We take seriously unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients’ request for euthanasia. On the other hand, we do want to protect lives and ensure that euthanasia is performed only if there is no more possibility to provide a reasonable perspective to treat the patient.”

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients has already happened dozens of times in Belgium. But from now on it will probably be easier for people suffering from schizophrenia, personality
disorders, depression, autism, or loneliness to access it. In fact, it will be hard to find an institution in Belgium where euthanasia is not being offered as an option.

Brother Stockman was stunned. “We deplore this new vision,” he told the media.

Nursing homes and hospitals opposing euthanasia have been under even more pressure after a court fined a Catholic nursing home a total of €6,000 last year for blocking a resident from accessing euthanasia.

However, Stockman felt that this was not an open and shut case. “I am confident that we have the right to refuse euthanasia,” Stockman told De Morgen. “We want to take seriously the needs of the patients, but the inviolability of life is for us an absolute. We cannot accept that euthanasia is carried out within the walls of our institutions. “

The leading figure in Belgian euthanasia, Dr Wim Distelmans, was delighted. Fifteen years after legalisation, he wrote in a newspaper op-ed, the Brothers of Charity have finally admitted that they had excluded the democratically approved policy of euthanasia from their institutions and forbidden doctors to follow their conscience and professional judgement.

Rubbing it in further, a member of the Belgian Parliament, Jean-Jacques De Gucht, summed up the situation: “the last relics of the paternalism of the shepherd have been replaced by individual self-determination”.

The chairman of the board, Raf De Rycke, an economist who has worked with the Brothers of Charity for years, denied that the ethos of their hospitals had changed “We have not made a 180 degree turn,” he told De Morgen newspaper. “It is not that we used to be against euthanasia and now suddenly are for it. This is consistent with our existing criteria. We are making both possible routes for our patients: both a pro-life perspective and euthanasia.”

Although this seems odd for a Catholic group, especially when the Pope has been outspoken in denouncing euthanasia, De Rycke believes that the inspiration of the Belgian Brothers of Charity fundamentally remains the same. “We start from the same basic values: the inviolability of life is an important foundation, but for us it is not absolute. This is where we are on a different wavelength from Rome.”

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet where this story appeared.