News & Commentary

How Can Anyone Think That Roe V. Wade Is “Settled”?

Clarke Forsythe
Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life

It’s a tragedy for the Supreme Court and the American people that Supreme Court confirmation hearings have been so terribly skewed for 45 years by undue emphasis on one case, Roe v. Wade.  We should hope that one day Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the abortion issue returned to the people, so that the range of important constitutional and federal issues can be given proper treatment in the assessment of Supreme Court nominees. But that is not where we are today.

In her opening statement on day one of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) singled out Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion for any reason, at any time, in every state—as the most important Supreme Court decision that she wanted the judge to keep, saying it was “super precedent” because it had been affirmed in 39 cases.

That false claim cobbles together cases in which Roe was merely cited or applied, not reaffirmed on the merits. (The actual number of decisions in which Roe was “reaffirmed” is 3, not 39.)  More importantly, Senator Feinstein’s claim ignores many other factors that show that Roe is the most unsettled constitutional decision of the past 50 years.

Roe is unsettled by the Justices’ own inconsistency in their application of Roe’s abortion doctrine, and its detailed standards, over the past 44 years. That, in turn, has sown inconsistency and confusion among the lower federal courts.

In fact, Roe 1.0—the original opinion including the original rationale for Roe—is defunct, discarded in the Casey decision of 1992.   The historical rationale for Roe—the legal justification for its connection to the Constitution—was replaced by a new sociological rationale created in Casey—the assumption that women have come to rely on abortion as a back-up to failed contraception.

Roe is unsettled because the original opinion and rationale have never been persuasive. The Court abandoned the original rationale by 1989.  Abortion-rights activists have spent the past 44 years looking for a new constitutional hook for Roe—the equal protection clause? the Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the vote in 1920? Or (my favorite) the cruel and unusual punishment clause?

Roe is unsettled in public opinion.  Public opinion polls periodically show majority “support” for Roe, but only when Roe is intentionally distorted and mischaracterized as only legalizing abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.  A majority of Americans oppose abortion after the first trimester.

A February 2017 poll, commissioned by the Human Family Research Center and conducted by the Polling Company, found that Americans were almost evenly divided when they were told that overruling Roe would leave the abortion issue to the states (45% reconsider, 49% continue to follow, with 5% undecided).

The abortion rate, according to 2014 figures, has dropped to its lowest level since 1973.  Women still seek approximately 900,000 abortions or less a year, but more than half of these are repeat abortions, and millions of women haven’t had an induced abortion and never will.  If women “rely” on anything, it’s contraception, not abortion.

Roe is unsettled in medical practice.  Ultrasound came on the commercial market a few years after Roe and permanently changed medical practice and public understanding.

Roe is unsettled because American doctors have abandoned abortion.  Few will do it. Women go to an abortion provider for an abortion but another gynecologist for everything else.  It’s long been a myth that abortion is “between a woman and her doctor.”

Roe is unsettled by its extremely narrow focus.  It has nothing to do with contraception (which is independently protected by other decisions of the Court) or with women’s health care.  It’s about a “right” to “terminate pregnancy” and nothing more.

Roe is unsettled by state protection for prenatal human beings in property, prenatal injury, wrongful death, and fetal homicide law.  Despite Roe, the states have moved ahead with state legislation and judicial decisions that treat the unborn child as a human being from conception, creating considerable schizophrenia.   Twenty-five states now have a fetal homicide law that treats the killing of an unborn child (outside the context of abortion) as a homicide—from conception.

Roe is unsettled by a growing body of international medical data finding increased risk of pre-term birth, mental trauma, and breast cancer after abortion.   And, in recent years, statistical studies from Ireland and Chile have provided evidence that abortion prohibitions do not compromise women’s health and that legalizing abortion does not positively impact women’s health.

Roe is unsettled because the Justices cannot perform their self-appointed role as the national abortion control board, created when the Justices in Roe drafted a new, detailed national abortion law, which binds every state and local government in the country.

Roe is unsettled because other nations have not followed its sweep.  The U.S. is one of only 4 nations of 195 across the globe which allows abortion for any reason after fetal viability, and one of only 7 that allows election abortion after 20 weeks.

The mere passage of time does not settle a Supreme Court decision. Roe is 44 years old.  But Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) (which affirmed racial segregation) was 58 years old when it was overturned in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Several other decisions were older when they were overturned.

Roe is unsettled in politics.  One major party has opposed the decision in its party platform since the 1970s.  And just last year, the nation elected a presidential and vice-presidential candidate who promised to appoint “pro-life” justices and to “overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Dozens of other decisions by the Supreme Court were not mentioned during the Gorsuch hearings because they are so unquestionably settled that no one needs to raise the question. To ask the question, “Is Roe settled?” is to answer it.

Clarke D. Forsythe is Acting President & Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life and author of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade (Encounter Books 2013).  

False Abortion Scare: Only 10% of Pregnant Women With Zika Had Babies with Disabilities

Micaiah Bilger   Apr 5, 2017   |   10:55AM    Washington, DC

New evidence about the Zika virus and the potential link to defects in unborn babies came out this week.

A new Centers for Disease Control report found about 10 percent of pregnant women who showed signs of the Zika virus had unborn babies with neurological defects linked to the virus.

The CDC tracked more than 1,200 cases involving pregnant women in the U.S. who showed signs of the virus. However, the cases with laboratory-confirmed evidence of Zika were much smaller.

The CDC confirmed 250 cases of a likely Zika infection with laboratory testing, and 10 percent, or 24 unborn babies, in those cases had birth defects.

Researcher said women infected with Zika during the first trimester of pregnancy appear to be at a greater risk of having a child with birth defects. In the cases of 60 babies whose mothers had confirmed evidence of Zika during the first trimester, 15 percent had birth defects, according to the CDC.

Almost all of the cases in the CDC report involved women who contracted the virus outside the United States.

TWC News reports more about cases in Texas:

Here in Texas, at the end of March, 181 pregnant women had shown signs of a possible Zika infection — 67 of those babies were born.

According to the Department of State Health Services, seven babies were born with birth defects that could be Zika-related.

Three of those seven are confirmed cases of the virus.

That’s about 10 percent of those babies have shown signs of possible Zika infection which is on par with the national average.

Abortion has become a major issue related to the Zika virus because of the possible link to birth defects. Abortion advocates have been using the virus as an excuse to push for more abortions on babies with disabilities. Some pro-abortion groups even have been scaring women into aborting their unborn babies without knowing if they have Zika or if their unborn baby has a disability.

The most common defect linked to Zika is microcephaly, a brain disorder that causes babies’ heads and brains to be abnormally small. The condition has a range of severity. Some people who have microcephaly require daily care, while others live independently and have jobs.

Some have speculated that other factors may be responsible for the disabilities, rather than the virus. Some research suggests the virus may not be to blame for the uptick in birth defects in certain areas of South America affected by Zika; however, research is on-going.

The Associated Press previously reported on various research estimating between 1 percent and 15 percent of pregnant women who contracted Zika in the first trimester had babies with birth defects.

Scientists also are working to develop a vaccine for Zika. In Mexico, university researchers developed a 3D printed valve to help treat unborn babies who develop microcephaly, one of the birth defects linked to the virus.

However, some research efforts were blocked by Planned Parenthood supporters in the U.S. House and Senate last year. The pro-abortion legislators blocked an aid bill for Zika prevention and research because it did not give money to a few Planned Parenthood facilities in Puerto Rico.

The abortion chain has been heavily involved in Zika-related politics in the U.S. Last summer, Planned Parenthood sent staffers to knock on women’s doors in Miami, Florida to talk about the Zika virus, according to the Miami Herald. They also gave pregnant women “Zika kits” and informational fliers.

Last spring, a Planned Parenthood activist said women who are pregnant and contract the virus ought to be able to abort their potentially disabled babies. The abortion activists called killing such babies a “human right.”



Tulsa Teen Comes Home From School With Contraceptive Implant

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In a shocking case coming out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a mother who consented to what she was told was a “field trip” discovered that her 16-year-old daughter had been taken — by representatives of a local clinic and with the consent of school officials — to receive the Norplant contraceptive implant.

The girl — whose name is being withheld because she is a minor — is a student at Langston Hughes Academy, an arts and technology charter school located in North Tulsa. Her mother, Miracle Foster, told FOX23 that she was blindsided when her daughter came home with the implant. “Had I known that this field trip was to get that done, I would not have allowed her to go,” Foster said, adding, “I just feel like my rights as a parent were violated.”

While it is obvious to any right-thinking person that Foster is correct in her assertion that her parental rights were violated, the overreaching federal guidelines in the Title X Family Planning Program serve to give Uncle Sam’s stamp of approval to that violation. Because of the overreach of the federal government — and the acquiescence of state governments addicted to federal monies — parental rights have come under increasing attacks in the past few decades. According to interpretations of Title X, children as young as 12 years old are allowed to receive contraceptives without a parent’s consent.

While the report from FOX News makes it appear this was a recent event, Foster’s daughter actually received the implant in November. When her daughter told her about it that evening, Foster cried. In an interview with The New American, Foster said, “It’s like they take the parental control away. These are children who cannot make decisions.” She added that children need their parents “to nurture them” and “to protect them.” She also said that by taking the place of the parent, the government school system deprives those children of that nurturing and protection.

At least one Oklahoma state legislator agrees with Foster. Dr. Mike Ritze spoke with The New American about the issues surrounding this case. Dr. Ritze is well qualified to speak to this issue. He is a family physician who has delivered around 2,000 babies. He is also the chairman of the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee and a ranking member of the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee. He told The New American, “If the mother [had given her] permission, I would disagree with her, if she was not properly informed of the dangers of Norplant,” adding, “Norplant can cause strokes, blood clots, migraine headaches and other side effects.” But since Foster did not consent to her minor daughter receiving a hormonal implant, Dr. Ritze pointed out the duplicity in the way the law deals with this issue. “A school official cannot give a [minor] student an aspirin without the parent’s consent, but can take them out of school to get contraception.” Or an abortion.

Dr. Ritze said it may be “legally wrong” for the school to have allowed the student to be taken to the clinic to get the implant without her mother’s consent. He added that — either way — it is certainly morally wrong. “The government shouldn’t have anything to do with promoting anything but abstinence,” he said. He added that abstinence is not just the best method for avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; it is the only method that always works. But because government schools have been drinking at the poisoned well of of progressive liberalism, Dr. Ritze said the attitude of the government schools seems to be “We know students are going to be promiscuous — like monkeys — so let them go out there and use a condom or other birth control or get an abortion if they get pregnant.” He added, “The truth is that they (the students) are not monkeys; they are people, made in the image of God, and when they are given the right information about their choices and the consequences, they can make better choices — like abstinence.”

Those are some pretty serious risks for a 16-year-old girl to take — especially since it seems that she was never even made aware of them. Foster said her daughter was not given any information about the dangers of Norplant. She said her daughter told her “the lady told her about the different choices she had” but did not discuss side effects or risks.

Foster knows her daughter. Granted, her daughter made a decision without talking it over with her, but that seems to be a mark of teenagers. This writer asked Foster if she thought her daughter would have had any type of medical implant — for any reason, contraception or otherwise — that carried those risks if she had been educated about them. “No, no. She would not agree,” she said, “I think that would have scared her. I know for sure she would not have.” She added, “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how much information they gave her. I don’t know if there was pressure there — I don’t know.”

And because the government school system and the clinic can hide behind Title X, Foster may never know. After all, the only reason she knows about the Norplant implant in the first place is because her daughter told her.

Laws are supposed to protect minors. Because society recognizes that young people do not always have the best judgment, they are protected from those who would prey on them. That is why minors cannot enter into many legal contracts without parental consent. For instance, minors in most states are protected from incurring debt by not being able to get credit cards. But the way Title X is interpreted, as soon as a child is at “reproductive age” (as young as 12), he or she can be exploited by the contraception industry.

Let that sink in: A person whose judgment is rightly considered underdeveloped to the point that he or she cannot make decisions about the ramifications of incurring debt is considered wise and experienced enough to make decisions about having sex, receiving contraception, or getting an abortion. The parent cannot object because the parent doesn’t even have to be told.

Oklahoma’s government school sex-education curricula (like all government school curricula in the state) has to be approved by the legislature. Currently, it favors an approach toward teaching abstinence. But as Dr. Ritze explained, “What is happening with the advent of Planned Parenthood and some of the other more progressive and liberal elements is that they have tried to introduce legislation year after year” to include what he called “how-to” education. “It’s like the failed DARE program [which ostensibly was a drug use prevention program] that turned out basically to be a ‘how-to’ course on drug experimentation — teaching kids how to use drugs.”

In fact, a bill “masquerading as a bill about HIV and STD prevention”— authored by Representative Emily Virgin — introduced this legislative session would have placed sex education curricula under the control of the State Department of Education. Dr. Ritze said, “several of us rose to the concern in the debate that that was morally wrong and something we couldn’t agree with because that is our job as legislators to spell out what they should do and not do in education on such a critical subject.” The progressive liberals in the legislature objected, saying that the legislature didn’t have the expertise to address those issues. “I rose again to remind them of my credentials — and there’s another physician in the House who has credentials on teaching all about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Dr. Ritze said that while speaking out against the bill on the floor of the House, he asked Representative Virgin about what kinds of condoms she would want to recommend to students, since her bill would have allowed that to be taught as part of the “how-to” sex education class. He told The New American, “She said, ‘Well, that’s a very sensitive subject. I don’t think we should be discussing that.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. You’re wanting to teach children — seventh graders and on — how to use condoms, but you don’t want to discuss that amongst adults on the floor of the House and let parents know what we’re going to be teaching?’ and she got embarrassed and didn’t want to go any further when she realized the bill was headed for defeat.” The bill was defeated, but it — or something much like it — will likely return.

Reintroducing bills — time and again — seems to be a favorite tactic of those whose agenda it is to reshape the very fabric of American society by attacking basic morality. And schools seem to be one of their favorite points of attack. Even as they seek legislation on the one hand, they rely on overreaching — and largely unknown or misunderstood — interpretations of federal guidelines on the other hand.

That can be illustrated by Foster’s experience. She told The New American, “The day it happened, I contacted the school.” She spoke to Assistant Principal Mario Choice. “He said he was going to contact the organization that picks up the children and that he would call me back.” Because this was the week of Thanksgiving break, she didn’t get that call until the next week. She said Choice told her that the representative at the clinic — Youth Services of Tulsa — that he spoke with said that because of Title X, “the kids didn’t have to have consent to get any type of birth control.” Foster added, “To me that just didn’t sound right, because I’ve never heard that before. Like I said it was a school field trip, so I didn’t know anything like this could happen. Had I known, I wouldn’t have given consent for her to go on the field trip.”

Foster said she thought the reason for the field trip to the clinic was to get information that her daughter could bring home for them to discuss as mother and daughter. “We have our own doctor. We have a relationship with our doctor.” She added that contraception is something she and her daughter have discussed. “In October we talked about birth control.” But because Foster — as a parent — wanted to be a part of that decision, she was shocked to hear that the school and the clinic had circumvented her parental authority and responsibility by removing her entirely from that decision-making process.

A statement released by the school echoes Choice’s words to Foster:

This was not a field trip. Youth Services of Tulsa does an annual in-service on Sex Education. They offer students an opportunity to contact them on their own for more information. The parent gave her child permission to leave the school. Under Title X once young people are at the clinic and are of reproductive age, they can make decisions on their own without parental consent. As you can understand this situation involves a minor and we do not release information about students. Nevertheless, the student was well within their rights of Title X which is a federal guideline that provides reduced cost family planning services to persons of all reproductive age.

Next, Foster reached out to the school board. She told us, “I went to the school board before I went to the news.” She added that the school board admitted to being ignorant of the situation. “The school board didn’t know about it.” She said the school board asked questions — such as “How did this happen?” and “Was the disclosure out there?” and “Who is this organization?” — of the school principal, Dr. Rodney L. Clark. She said the principal “didn’t know that this could be a possibility for them [the students] to get anything done” at the clinic.

But in the end, the only answer Foster got was that — because of Title X — no one had any obligation to get her consent or even to inform her. When asked how she feels about it even all these months later, she told The New American, “I’m p***ed! Quote that. I’m p***ed off.”

And, who can blame her?

Because the girl is a minor, the school is legally obligated not to “release information about” her. This magazine is not publishing the girl’s name out of a moral responsibility because of her age. It is a bizarre situation when everyone seems to agree that the girl — based solely on her age — deserves to be protected by not having her name and information published, but the school and school board cannot see that she needed protection from being exploited by the contraception industry.

Foster is not alone in her concern about the direction government schools are taking to supersede the authority of parents. Casey Polczynski, who lives in Central Virginia, is a mother of two children. Last year, her daughter — who, at the time, was in kindergarten and not yet six years old — came home and announced she wanted to marry her friend when she grows up. Her friend is also a girl. Polczynski asked her daughter why she thought she could do that. She said her daughter told her, “My teacher said boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls.” Polczynski explained to her daughter that the teacher was mistaken.

This year, because of that episode opening her eyes, Polczynski is taking a more proactive approach. While visiting the school last week, she asked the school nurse about any programs that may be coming up that she would need to know about. She told The New American, “I asked what programs I needed to know about to make sure my rights as a parent were being protected.” She said the nurse was taken aback by the question and answered that Polczynski’s son’s fifth grade class would be having the “boys talk” but there was nothing to worry about because “this is not the sex education talk, it’s just about things like hygiene and wet dreams.” If classroom discussion about “wet dreams” is not “the sex education talk,” one wonders what subject matter will be taught in sex education.

Polczynski told the nurse that she would not want her son in that class and was informed that a consent form would be sent to her and unless she signed it, he would not be in the class anyway. If that is true, it’s likely because her son is shy of his 12th birthday and not yet considered of “reproductive age” by the prevalent interpretation of Title X. Next year, Polczynski will probably not be involved in that decision. In fact, if the trend continues, her son may well be taken off campus to a contraception clinic and sent home with a box or three of condoms.

As the government school system continues down into the sewer, concerned parents who care about their children’s moral formation are seeking solutions. As Dr. Duke Pesta, Director of FreedomProject Academy, explained in an interview with The New American:

For years, we at FreedomProject Academy have been fighting this [the immoral agenda of the government school system]. I’ve given hundreds of talks all over the country about this. What’s happening here — and this is a symptom of a larger problem — the federal government has taken control over America’s public schools. And they have decided that the primary purpose of public schools is to serve as surrogate parents. It is not to educate your kids; it is not to make your kids college-ready; it is not to prepare your kids to be entrepreneurs or business owners. The primary purpose of America’s public schools now is social justice education. That means that teachers, school nurses, school administrators, are assuming almost every aspect of parental responsibility — from your kids’ health-care to your kids’ birth control choices to how young they’re going to teach your kids about sex and homosexuality.

Dr. Pesta added, “They are doing this whether you want them to or not.” When asked what parents whose children are in government schools can do to fix this, Dr. Pesta said, “There’s no way you’re going to fix this because control has now been ceded to the federal government.” As Foster’s story illustrates, Dr. Pesta is correct. Local, city, county, and state schools and school boards will simply hide behind Title X and keep on keeping on with the immoral agenda of — as Dr. Ritze said — treating kids like promiscuous monkeys.

‘Matty was dead, and now he’s perfect:’ Incredible story of a toddler brought back to life

BAKER CITY, Oregon, March 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Matt and Elsa Cunningham thought they’d lost their young son in a drowning accident earlier this month. But 22-month-old Matty made it through the terrible ordeal with no medical complications.

The toddler should not have survived. His case has defied the laws of nature and science. And the Oregon family wants to share the joy of their miraculous experience, which they attribute to the power of prayer.

“Our Catholic faith is at the center of our lives,” Matt Cunningham told LifeSiteNews. “But I never knew that we’d be blessed this richly. It’s more than we could have ever asked for.”

Elsa expressed confidence that her son’s survival is due to a miracle, and how his very presence every day is an even greater testament to the miracle of life than it was before.

“Because you know when you wake up and he’s alive,” she told LifeSiteNews.
It couldn’t happen without God

Many human hands helped to save Matty, and the Cunninghams are grateful to them.

But it was also a stream of apparent Divine Interventions that led to Matty’s survival.

They are grateful to God, to the venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen and St. Joseph, Matt’s late mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The couple prayed to God and His saints throughout Matty’s plight, but especially upon the horror of finding him in the water. And it was Archbishop Sheen, the revered pioneer of modern evangelization, that Matt thought to turn to at that moment.

“Archbishop Sheen was the one I screamed to,” Matt recounted in describing the 911 call, which was a mingling of his cries to Heaven to save his son and communicating with EMS.

The family had been praying a morning devotional with Archbishop Sheen each day in the month leading up to the accident. They were enamored of the prospective saint’s teaching. He has stood out among those they invoked to intercede on Matty’s behalf, and they think he had a hand in Matty’s survival.

“The Church is our life,” said Elsa. “If we could give credit to one saint, it would be Archbishop Sheen, but there were so many.”

“The crazy part is, Matty was dead, and now he’s perfect.”

Without knowing whether their situation would ever qualify for a miracle, the Cunninghams nevertheless now feel an affinity with the family whose child is at the center of the first approved miracle in the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s canonization. The stillborn baby was resuscitated after medical professionals worked on him for just over an hour.

“I feel for those parents who waited for 61 minutes for their child to come back,” Elsa said.
What happened that day

Thursday, March 9, was a mild late winter day that found the Cunninghams anticipating spring and working in the yard of their home seven miles from Baker City.

The homeschooling family had recently seen the first bluebird of the season, so Elsa was cleaning out a birdhouse for the birds to nest. The family had a litter of a couple-months-old puppies, and Matt was building an extension to their dog kennel.

Their oldest, Johnathan, 17, was inside working on school. Shane, 14, was not at home. The rest of the kids, Daniel, 11, Isabel, 9, and Abigail, 7, were outside helping their parents, along with Matty.

They don’t know when, but Matty wandered away on his own. They think he may have been following one of the puppies and fell into the pond about 100 yards from where they were working.
A string of miracles begins

But the pond is on a neighbor’s property behind a tightly spaced barbed wire fence that Matty shouldn’t have been able to get through. So it didn’t dawn on them at first to even check the pond, but as they realized he was missing, something took them there.

“The Holy Spirit led us, we believe,” Matt said.

The first miracle was not just that they were led to him, he said, but also that Matty was floating on the surface instead of sinking, despite his being dressed in a heavy winter coat and boots.

Elsa went through the barbed wire fence, tearing her clothes, and Matt went over the top.

“Whatever we had to do,” Matt told LifeSiteNews. “Elsa dove in with all her clothes on. Every second counted.”

Elsa started chest compressions and Matt performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
A parent’s worst nightmare

No one knows how long he’d been in the water, but they thought for sure they’d lost him.

Matty was blue, unresponsive, not breathing.

“We thought he was dead,” Matt said. “There was no movement in his limbs. He looked like he’d been there all winter.”

“Every parent knows the terror we felt,” he said. “It was pure hell.”

Still, Matt said they would try to resuscitate him “until they pried him away from us.”

Matt screamed to the 911 dispatcher on the phone as they also cried out to God. The other children immediately fell on their knees and prayed, Cunningham told LifeSiteNews, and John called 911 too.

Archbishop Sheen was on the tip of Matt’s tongue when it came time to beseech God to save Matty. He can be heard invoking him on the 911 tape.

He is grateful for the family’s daily devotional to the venerable prelate.

“I believe that was the Lord’s way of preparing us for that morning,” said Matt.

He remembers jumping out of the way as soon as the EMTs touched his shoulder, knowing they needed to work.

They detected a faint heartbeat at the scene, but Matty was still not breathing.
A friend jumps to action

Local sheriff Travis Ash, a family friend, had arrived on the scene apart from EMS, having also heard the call.

Ash instinctively ran to the ambulance, ahead of everyone else running, and jumped in to drive. Matt Cunningham doesn’t know why, but it’s another thing he considers the foundation of a miracle.

Ash was compelled to action, taking the driver’s seat, and driving such that the EMTs told him to take it easy. Ash continued at top speed, and the ambulance made it across the nearby railroad tracks in time to avoid a train that would have cost them valuable time.

“His haste gave Matty precious moments of needed care in the hospital,” Matt said. “It was all hands on deck, something that restores your faith in humanity.”

When Matty got to the ER at St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City, an estimated 17 minutes after the first 911 call was placed, his body temperature was 84 degrees.

Matty’s initial blood work was that of a dead baby in Baker City, Matt told LifeSiteNews.

The staff had to administer two bone IVs in his calves because he was too cold to get a regular IV started. They performed blood work and other tests to assess his condition, the implication being there would be permanent damage assuming Matty survived.

They intubated Matty with a mobile ventilator and tried to warm him.

As the staff worked, Elsa prayed quietly to herself, Matt said, “I just spent most of the time on my knees.”

During this time, he had an experience that convinced him that Bishop Sheen was interceding on their behalf for Matty.

As he prayed, Matty cried out every so often while the hospital staff tried to revive him.

“Every time I kept imploring Archbishop Sheen, those were the two or three times I heard him cry,” Matt said.

He’d been told it was likely just a physical reaction his son had been making. The sound had him alternating between hope and fear.

People that they knew, and many they didn’t, stood in prayer in the parking lot, Matt recalled.

Everyone who was either at the scene or in that hospital knew how hopeless and tragic the situation was, he said, “how it was sure to end later that day with the planning of our son’s funeral.”

Matty was then airlifted the 125 miles to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise and would later be transferred to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, also in Boise.
A mother’s plea to God

Elsa rode in the helicopter as Matty was life-flighted to Boise. Matt followed by car with a family friend.

“I had the 50-minute helicopter ride from hell,” she told LifeSiteNews.

It was raining, there was turbulence, and she needed an airsickness bag handy nearby.

“But I’m just praying,” Elsa said, praying that God will allow her to keep her son.

Elsa, like many women, has miscarried, in her case three times.

Naming one of her other babies, she told LifeSiteNews that she thought as she prayed, “He has Michael (and the others).”

She prayed to God in the helicopter, “I want this one. I don’t know if we can live through this” (losing Matty).

Another sort of miracle Matt described was when they raced past a highway patrolman on the normally two-plus-hour drive to Boise, the officer simply waved at them, despite their speed.
Care, with prayer

Then, the experience with first doctor they encountered out of the helicopter at St. Alphonsus, Dr. Adrian John Curnow, also seemed in line with their impending miracle.

Curnow was willing to pray for their son.

“He grabbed me by the shoulder and told me, “God loves your son more than you do, and he’s going to be OK,” said Matt.

Curnow wasn’t the only medical professional to pray.

“All along the way, person after person and physician after physician prayed with us, and over our son,” Matt said. “This doesn’t happen in a secular world, but again, God allows small miracles to form the foundation of one large miracle.”

The doctor explained to the Cunninghams how Matty’s temperature would come up and then could spike, which would be dangerous.

He had a line put in through Matty’s nose to the boy’s stomach, and with a large syringe, taking water in and out of the line, he moderated Matty’s core temperature.

Curnow then rode in the ambulance with the Cunninghams to St. Luke’s, continuing the water-cooling procedure and staying with them after they arrived at the new hospital.

Matty remained heavily sedated there, until he could have an MRI to determine damage from the accident.

As the family waited the few days for Matty’s MRI, fellow parishioners at the Cunninghams’ parish of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City and many others prayed.

Their doctor at St. Luke’s was another beacon of faith, Matt told LifeSiteNews.

Between his manner, praying and using scripture with them, Dr. Derrick Dauplaise really embodied Christ to them, Matt said. He always came to them in a reassuring way, no matter what.

“He laid hands on Matty and prayed,” Matt recalled. “He then said God was going to take care of all of us.”

“He was the doctor to us just as much as Matty,” he said. “He was so loving, this man, we could just tell God was with us.”
An outcome with no medical explanation

The MRI took longer than expected, and likewise, the wait for results was difficult. The staff was taken aback by what they found. They wanted to be sure before they brought the Cunninghams the news.

Matty’s MRI results were absolutely normal, defying medical explanation.

When the Cunninghams were told there was no sign of brain damage, despite the specifics of Matty’s case, they couldn’t believe it.

“We just wept,” said Matt, “and I just fell on my knees and prayed to God. Thank you God, Archbishop Sheen and all the saints and angels.”

Prayer had been the key, prayer in the face of fear, and faith in God’s plan, no matter what, where or when.

At one point in the middle of the night during Matty’s hospital stay, Matt said, he wanted to pray the rosary, but he’d forgotten his rosary at home in the rush for the hospital.

So in the quiet of the night in Matty’s room, Matt used his son’s 10 toes in place of the 10 Hail Mary rosary beads to pray for the Blessed Mother’s intercession for his son.

“So I used his toes,” he said. “I just thought it was a great thing to do.”

After the MRI, things went quickly. Matty’s sedation was stopped and his breathing tube removed once he came to.

Within an hour, he knew who everyone was and called his siblings by name, Matt said. “He was just perfect.”

The first sound Matty actually made when he awoke was barking like a dog, as if nothing had happened.

“It was the greatest thing he could have said,” his father stated. Matty had been often mimicking their puppies before the accident. And this was just him picking up where he’d left off.

Matty didn’t skip a beat after waking up, Elsa recalled, and he was running around in no time.

Elsa stayed with him that night in the barred hospital crib before Matty was released the next day to go home.

Photos of Matty from the time of his waking show a healthy, happy child.
There’s more

The miraculous events didn’t end with Matty’s physical revival.

After they began to settle in at home, Matt and Elsa came together at one point, each wondering, “Have you noticed anything different about him?”

The couple had individually seen the same things; Matty’s eyes were brighter, almost as if they were bigger, and he was using bigger words.
Matty heads home.

Matt said his son was always beautiful and bright-eyed, but now Matty is just more so. He doesn’t know how else to explain it.

“They’re just wider and brighter,” he said of Matty’s eyes. “He’s just wide-eyed and bright.”

Elsa can tell as a mother.

“You know when we’re smiling at him,” she said.

“We firmly believe it’s because he’s seen the Lord,” said Matt.

Matty was a late talker as compared with his siblings, they said, and since the accident he has been using phrases they’d never heard from him before.

An example of this, which also suggests a miracle, involves a photograph that hangs in their house of Matt’s mother, who died shortly before Matty was born.

Virginia Cunningham’s love for her children was unmatched, Matt said, and the example she gave through her suffering makes her the closest thing to a saint without a formal declaration. Matty only knows his grandmother from the picture and when they talk about her.

One day soon after he was home from the hospital, as they happened to be contemplating the picture of her in the hallway, they asked him, “Have you seen Grandma?”

Matty replied matter-of-factly, “Yes, I have.”

“He’s never said, Yes I have, ever,” Matt explained. “We firmly believe this has a miraculous explanation.”

Another instance involved an appointment the Cunninghams had scheduled before Matty’s accident with a buyer for one of their dogs. It had been set for soon after they returned home from Boise with Matty. Elsa said that despite the timing they went ahead and kept it since it would be easier to follow through than to cancel.

She explained to the wife of the couple who’d driven 2 1/2 hours to buy the dog how they’d been tied up with Matty’s situation and were just getting settled.

The woman shared that they had a similar experience with their son, who was now 10 and doing fine as well. She told Elsa she’d been thinking her husband didn’t need another dog and wanted to discourage the purchase.

But if she had done so, the two women would not have met.

The woman advised Elsa that it will take awhile for things to get back to normal for them. A happy miracle is not necessarily without some human fallout.

This paralleled the doctors’ advice, which cautioned the Cunninghams against being overprotective of Matty, and to monitor themselves for Post Traumatic Stress. It was especially powerful, though, coming from another family who had experienced it.

“God put her there for me,” Elsa told LifeSiteNews. “I know the stress is real, and I know Jesus will carry us through.”
“It’s a miracle”

Matty’s main doctors from the Boise facilities have said his case is a miracle.

Elsa recounts what Dauplaise told them the day they took Matty home.

“If you’re not open to the fact that it’s a miracle, then you can’t receive the gift,” he said.

Curnow called Elsa’s cell phone a little more than a week after they brought Matty home.

Elsa remembers, “He said, ‘Matty was beyond what we could do. This was a miracle. God must have great plans for him.’”

Curnow also told Elsa they should read Psalm 112, verses 1 and 2.

“He said that they remind him of our family,” she recalled.

The Scripture verses state:

“Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

Elsa found the implications with Matty’s experience to be powerful, stating, “It’s awesome and heart wrenching at the same time.”
Life goes on

The family continues to get back to normal. Matt has since spoken to a Catholic men’s group to share their experience. Elsa said Matt’s witness stirred the emotions of the men there.

Matty will turn two years old on April 26, 10 days after Easter.

The Lord’s death and resurrection will have additional significance this year for the Cunninghams.

The Baker City Herald ran a letter Matt wrote about Matty’s ordeal, which he titled “A love letter to the city with a heart of gold.”

In it, Matt wrote:

“Our son has been raised from the dead. Thanks be to God, and to all of you for begging and helping him on our behalf. He, in His mercy, heard and answered, and we will never be able to thank you enough.”

The family maintains their devotion to Archbishop Sheen and they are convicted in the belief he interceded on Matty’s behalf.

“I know he was involved,” Matt said. “I know it.”

“The Lord is the Lord of life, and life just perpetuates itself,” Matt continued. “God is bringing us more life with him than we could have hoped.”

“God is amazing,” Elsa told LifeSiteNews. “He’s so good.”

“The biggest thing is this wasn’t just a miracle just for us,” she said. “He answered everybody’s prayers.”

The (still) unexplained breast cancer epidemic

Carolyn Moynihan | Mar 30 2017

Yesterday the Planned Parenthood Federation of America arranged a Pink Out Day on social media to promote their brand in the face of calls to defund the organisation and an unsympathetic Trump administration. What impact their noon “thunderclap” had is not clear, but there is no doubt that PPFA has many supporters who defend its claim to be an important women’s reproductive health provider.

However, the literal meaning of “reproductive health” is incompatible with two of Planned Parenthood’s main activities: abortion and the provision of hormonal contraception. For at least two decades researchers have been tracing a link between these birth control methods and the rising incidence of breast cancer – a link denied or ignored by the scientific and medical establishment.

But the international evidence continues to mount. A new British study by Patrick S. Carroll and colleagues, using readily available data on breast cancer and abortion from British official sources, shows that the lifetime risk of breast cancer for women in the UK keeps increasing: it is now around 1 in 7 women for malignant tumours and 1 in 6 for in-situ lesions, which also need treatment and therefore should be planned for. And this increased risk cannot be explained by increased screening – the usual explanation — on its own.

Here is one reason: women do not enjoy being screened. It’s an uncomfortable business and there is always the thought in one’s mind that repeated x-rays may themselves cause trouble. So the raising of the cut-off age for screening from 65 to 75, as the UK has done, is unlikely, say the study authors, to increase the response rate among women who were screened between ages 50 and 65.

Another explanation of the risk trend is that childlessness has increased since the 1970s. It is widely acknowledged that a younger age at the birth of her first child reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, as do further full term pregnancies and longer breastfeeding of each of her infants. However, the authors find that neither childlessness nor increased age at first birth by themselves can predict breast cancer risk.

Baby boomer women and their daughters, of course, have had ways of delaying or avoiding childbirth that were not generally available to earlier cohorts, and these may bring their own risks. The authors state:

“Although still contested, there is significant literature that demonstrates that induced abortion, particularly of a woman’s first pregnancy, as well as hormonal contraceptives and HRT [hormone replacement therapy], also raise the risk of developing breast cancer.”

The reasons why this would be are now familiar. Abortion, especially of the first pregnancy, not only removes the protective maturing of the breasts during pregnancy and lactation, but actually leaves them in a more vulnerable state, while the estrogen in hormonal contraceptives increases cancer risk. A new study from Finland this month finds further evidence of a link between hormonal contraceptives (the IUD) and breast cancer.

British data, in fact, show a high positive correlation between abortion rates and breast cancer in women aged 50-54 (abortion was liberalised in the UK in 1967). This also seems to reflect the advent of hormonal contraception, say the authors. “When women were first having large numbers of induced abortions, their contemporaries were also starting to make extensive use of hormonal contraceptives.”

A remarkable social gradient

There is a further interesting angle on these links in the study – a “social gradient”. Data from the 1990s shows that women in the higher socio-economic groups have more breast cancer than those down the social scale. A possible explanation:

“Upper-class women and women who achieve upward social mobility are known to have children later and to make more use of hormonal contraceptives, and when they have pregnancies at a young age they are more likely to opt for nulliparous abortions. Lower-class single parents, who score highly as to deprivation, often have benefited from the breast cancer protection afforded by their first pregnancy taken to full term at a young age.”

No serious scientist is claiming that these factors are the only, or even the main cause of breast cancer, but the likelihood that they explain part of the largely unexplained current epidemic of the disease should at least receive some acknowledgement. Yet, as the authors point out, “While doctors are now more reluctant to prescribe HRT for reasons of the breast cancer risk they continue to prescribe hormonal contraceptive on a massive scale.”

It’s true that these doctors can cite some studies reporting no additional risk 10 years after a woman has ceased to use hormonal contraceptives. However, say Carroll and colleagues, “this risk is quite long-term and not apparent within such a time interval. Breast cancers discovered after age 50 are more reflective of these events in a woman’s reproductive history.”

The lack of official explanation for aspects of the epidemic such as the remarkable social gradient is a failure of public health education, of a piece with neglect of breast cancer prevention programmes, they conclude.

Indeed, women should be informed and the authorities should plan for an increasing breast cancer burden on the health system based on all known risk factors and not just politically correct ones.

Yet there is solid resistance to such moves in the UK. Patrick Carroll, who is neither a doctor nor a medical scientist but an actuary with the (UK) Pension and Population Research Institute, seems to have had no competition in using first class resources for a neglected, or rather, deliberately sidelined area of cancer research. However, getting his work published in medical journals is another matter.

Having failed on previous occasions, he submitted the paper discussed here to the (British) Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health last year. They sat on it for several months, he told MercatorNet, “offering no intelligent comments nor constructive criticism. They said they read it with great interest but found it unsuitable for their audience! They then suggested I try another of their journals, BMJ Open. Even though the editorial staff of the two journals are in the same building they did not offer a short process for submission to the second journal.”

Warned by another researcher that BMJ Open would inflict another delay of several months, he sent it to the independently minded Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) who published it – as they had a previous paper — in their journal.

The reasons for the establishment’s defensive attitude is not difficult to discern. Carroll and colleagues describe the situation in the UK in their published paper:

“Each prescription for hormonal contraceptives has a doctor’s signature. Every abortion notification form (HSA1), as required by the 1967 Abortion Act, needs two doctors’ signatures. In the UK, claims under medical professional liability insurance are largely in the area of obstetrics and gynecology. If women who experience breast cancer could make claims against doctors for prescribing hormonal contraceptives or approving induced abortions, there would be many more claims. For this reason it is understandable that British medical journals are reluctant to publish papers that report a link of breast cancer to induced abortions.”

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Planned Parenthood has tried selling itself as the household name that millions of women “turn to” for — guess what? — mammograms. In fact PPFA does not do mammograms but refers a small percentage of its clients (less than one percent) to specialised services after doing simple, routine breast checks.

But the irony of its claim only increases with this latest evidence that, even if it did do mammograms, it would be largely as a result of making its own work through the much more lucrative lines of abortion and contraception. And that applies to a significant part of the health sector internationally.

It must be time for a class action suit on this front.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.

Doctors said I had cancer and needed to abort my son to save my life. Instead, I received a miracle.

March 29, 2017 (LiveActionNews) — Being pro-life was always something that came easy for me. I was raised by a mother who was part of the generation that began protesting and praying outside of abortion clinics. As a teenager I wrote letters to my senators to end abortion. I volunteered at crisis pregnancy centers.

This is not to give myself a pat on the back by any means; I just did it because it was the right thing to do. These issues were so black and white to me.

The only “gray area” I struggled with were the exception cases: rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Politicians and the media told me these were the only situations in which abortion was necessary and needed. It was okay in those instances. Wasn’t it? It seemed heartless to argue otherwise.

So when I found myself in one of those situations, with a swollen belly full of tiny kicks and movement and a doctor telling me I would most likely die if I continued the pregnancy, I had to come to grips with what exactly I believed about those “gray areas.”

Eli as a newborn

I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son, Eli, when we got the news. We were there for a routine anatomy scan to find out the gender. One moment we were elated and hugging, rejoicing that we were going to have a second son, and the next our world came to a complete halt.

“Your son isn’t going to make it,” the doctor said.

We were told that Eli had a less than 1 percent chance of survival and they were surprised he was even alive at that point. He would most likely die within the next few days, we were told. Even if he did by some miracle survive, he would have a condition called triploidy. It was incompatible with life and most babies who made it to birth died immediately thereafter. So either way, we would lose our son.

My heart broke into a million pieces. My husband Chris and I just cried and held each other. We wanted this baby. We had already imagined him and his brother Rhett (who was 9 months old at the time) growing up and being best friends. We loved this baby.

Then the doctor continued speaking.

“My biggest concern is for your health right now.” She told me I was extremely at risk. I had a partial molar pregnancy and this meant that I had cancer in my placenta that would spread to my brain, lungs, and liver the longer I carried Eli. I was at risk for seizures and strokes, blindness and ultimately death. She warned me that my symptoms could happen quickly and without notice.

She recommended I terminate the pregnancy immediately and start chemotherapy as soon as I could.

I felt like I had no choice.

It made sense and it seemed like the only logical decision. And you know what? I considered it for a half second. Me, the pro-life guru.

All I could think about was not losing the things I had. My husband and I hadn’t even been married for two years, he was the man I wanted to grow old with. Would we not get that chance? I had a 9 month old son who I loved with all of my heart. I wanted to see his first steps, his first birthday, his graduation, his wedding, my grandchildren. It all kept playing over and over in my mind. I don’t want to lose this.

But then I remembered those tiny hands and feet I had just watched dance around on the ultrasound screen. I remembered the kicks and the movement. That was my son too.

The words of Psalm 139:16 came into my head: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.”

I knew the Lord had Eli’s days, however many they were to be, written in His book. Who was I to cut them short? My days were also in that book and nothing, not even cancer or a high risk pregnancy could end them unless the Lord allowed it.

I looked at my husband, he had the same determined look. We told the doctor, “No. That is not an option for us.”

The goal was to make it to 24 weeks. That was the earliest he would be considered viable at this hospital. Those 4 weeks felt like a lifetime. I was in the hospital at least 3 times a week for monitoring and blood tests. They ran out of places to draw blood because my arms were so bruised and my veins worn out.

It hurt when they wouldn’t acknowledge Eli as a baby. All they talked about was me and hardly ever referenced him. I know they probably did that to make it seem easier if I lost him, but it still hurt. I remember lying on an exam table, waiting on one of the doctors to come in and crying. “Lord, why does no one care about my son?! I feel like I am fighting alone here.” I felt His peace and was reminded that He, more than anyone else, cared about my son.

I made it to 24 weeks and they gave me steroid shots to help develop his lungs in preparation for his early arrival. I almost cried when one of the doctors finally mentioned the baby and how he needed to be monitored closely.

They did two ultrasounds a week and at each one they were amazed that Eli was growing normally and was still alive. But at 28 weeks they started to notice his growth was halting and that was due to the placenta slowly falling apart. I got another round of steroid shots and at 30 weeks his heart rate was dropping so we were scheduled for a c-section the next morning.

The doctor met with us that night to discuss the risks. We still didn’t know if Eli had triploidy because we didn’t want invasive tests to put him more at risk, and my fluid was so low anyway, we didn’t want to take any more out than necessary.

She told us she had blood ready for a transfusion because they had to cut through my placenta to get to Eli and I might bleed out. My placenta was 5 times the size of a normal one. I might have to have an immediate hysterectomy because there was a chance the placenta had grown through my uterine wall.

We went into the operating room, not knowing if these would be our last moments together.

On April 1st, of all days, our little Elijah Lewis Mitchell came into this world. He weighed 2 lbs 7 ounces and I was able to kiss his tiny little head that was covered in black hair before they took him back to the NICU.

My placenta came out easily and with no complications. It was sent off for testing. I remember crying and taking a deep breath for what felt like the first time in months. One of the nurses put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Just rest now, momma.”

When our doctor came into the recovery room, she told us, “I think we may have misdiagnosed you.” She said I was cancer free and a few weeks later Eli’s genetic tests came back NORMAL. We were both in the clear and healed completely! We were overwhelmed by all that the Lord had done.

Eli was released from the NICU 55 days later, weighing five pounds and drinking his bottles on his own.

Eli today

The reason I share our story with you today is because I think we really need to look at these exception cases, and figure out what we believe. Because you never know when you, or someone close to you might be faced with one of these situations. I have no doubt, if it was not for the Lord and knowing what I know about life in the womb, I would have aborted my son that day. Doctors that I respected were telling me to. It made sense to.

So I have a newfound compassion for women in these circumstances. It is a HARD decision. It feels impossible. But I want them to know, it can be done.

You can give your baby a chance at life. I promise you, it will be a choice you will never regret.

I have a daily reminder of my choice: a wobbly little two-year-old who has the sweetest smile, the bluest eyes, and the heart of a fighter. His life blesses mine every day and I am so thankful I gave him a chance to live.

Courtney Mitchell blogs at and can be found on Instagram @thecarolinafarmhouse.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News.

Study finds most women unable to track fertility

Shannon Roberts | Mar 28 2017

With infertility more common than ever and birth rates around the world at a record low, a crucial first step for couples trying to get pregnant is to clearly understand exactly when they are fertile.  Yet that is something just 13 per cent of women surveyed were able to identify according to a new study just published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which surveyed over 1000 New Zealand women.  That was despite a third of the women reporting that they monitored their ovulation.

The authors concluded that fertility knowledge needs to be better addressed among women intending to conceive.  Professor Wayne Gillett, a researcher at the university’s Dunedin School of Medicine and medical director at Fertility Associates Dunedin commented:

“When a couple are trying to have a baby, problems like age, endometriosis and male problems are always touted – but no one ever considers knowledge, and that’s one of the things we often see,”

Gillett said there was one enduring myth that the best time in the menstrual cycle to conceive was during, or even after, ovulation, when the reality is that the fertile window is pre-ovulation.  He expressed concern that even health professionals are not well-educated about a woman’s fertile window.
An article discussing infertility published in the New Zealand media this month comically writes “at high school we’re taught that if you so much as look at a girl strangely, she’ll get pregnant.”  Sadly many indeed carry this idea into adulthood after years of only being told how not to get pregnant.  However, given that interest in natural family planning continues to grow, it is hopeful that fertility knowledge will be better circulated, including the knowledge that fertility begins to reduce in a woman’s late twenties and more drastically after the age of 35.
One in six couples in Australia use IVF, and one in every 25 Australian children are now born as a result of IVF. In Denmark one in 15 children are IVF babies.  Yet it is questionable whether people are first given good advice about the other more simple and inexpensive options available to them – including accurate knowledge about their exact fertile window which is normally only 6 days long if not shorter.  To some, IVF services are a business and there is little incentive to first offer easier, cheaper options to couples.

John Aitken, Newcastle University laureate professor, Director of the University of Newcastle’s large 50-staff Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science, and the 2012 NSW Scientist of the Year,  recently commented:

“We should guard against recklessly marching into a future where we use too much assisted conception in order to compensate for our loss of fertility … It’s an inexorable upward trend. We are taking recourse to IVF in increasing numbers and the thing we have to remember as a society is that the more you use assisted conception in one generation, the more you’re going to need it in the next.”

Family adopts girl born without limbs: ‘Loving her was what mattered most’

March 23, 2017 (LiveActionNews) — In a village in the Philippines in 2014, a little girl was born without limbs. At six months old she was placed in an orphanage for children with special needs, where she waited for a family to adopt her.

In October of 2014, when she was nine months old, the Stewart family saw a picture of the little girl and decided to adopt her. It would take months of paperwork and a trip to the Philippines, but a year later, Adrianne and Jason Stewart were bringing little Maria home to join their family of five, including two biological daughters and an adopted son.

“When we found our daughter we did not think we were qualified or prepared enough to parent a child like her, a child born without arms and legs, but we knew that we could love her and that loving her was what mattered most,” Adrianne Stewart wrote in a post for Love What Matters.

At about two years old at the time of her adoption, CNN reports Maria was unable to hold up her head and her parents knew they had a lot of work ahead of them. She now receives speech and occupational therapy and attends preschool in an inclusive classroom.

“She has given us far more than we will ever give her,” Maria’s mother wrote on Facebook. “She is so full of joy and light, and is an inspiration to all who meet her. We put limits on her abilities and then we see her doing exactly what we thought she was not capable of.”

Since sharing their story in hopes of inspiring other families to adopt, the Stewarts have received a lot of positive notes. However, they have also heard from mothers who have chosen abortion when their preborn children were diagnosed with conditions similar to Maria’s. These women express to the Stewarts their abortion regret. Adrianne Stewart hopes that Maria will help other expectant mothers choose life when faced with similar prenatal diagnoses.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News.

Does the pill cause infertility? Yes and No

Does the pill cause infertility? Yes and No

Let’s say you are 33 years old and got married a year ago. In the past ten years, you have been using a variety of hormonal birth control methods. Now you and your husband are looking forward to starting a family. You get off the pill, hopeful and a bit anxious as you know time is working against you. You try for eight months and nothing happens.

You start getting concerned, and you talk your doctor into putting you on Clomid, a drug to stimulate ovulation. This drug actually lowers your chances of conceiving, unbeknownst to you. A few months later, you get your first appointment at a fertility clinic where you discuss Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), bracing yourself for several months of treatment and thousands of dollars in medical bills.

But could all that anxiety, doctor visits and interventions be completely unnecessary?

The pill may not cause long-term infertility after discontinuation, but it can delay fertility by up to a year. The delay is caused by the pill’s impact on the production of cervical fluid, an essential component of conception. The delay can be critical as women tend to start their family much later in life now than in earlier decades, and may lead them to engaging into unnecessary fertility treatment.

It takes three to get pregnant

We were all taught in high school biology or sex-ed that it took and a sperm and an egg (an ovule) to make pregnancy happen. What is often left out of this equation is the cervical fluid, aka cervical mucus.

In order for the sperm to survive more than a few hours in the vagina, and then have the energy reserves to travel through the uterus all the way to the fallopian tubes and maybe wait for the egg to arrive, it needs good quality fertile cervical fluid.

Cervical fluid is secreted by the cervix; it changes in aspect and properties as ovulation approaches. At the time of ovulation, it becomes stretchy, almost like raw egg whites, and allows the sperm to go through the cervix into the uterus. Before and after ovulation, the fluid is thick and blocks access to the uterus, a wonderful mechanism to protect the womb from infection. It also naturally prevents fertilization during a major part of the cycle.

Without sufficient, good quality mucus, no baby.

The way hormonal contraceptives work to stop pregnancy

Hormonal contraceptives, as generally documented in scientific literature, don’t work merely by suppressing ovulation. Another mechanism is the effect on the production of mucus, thickening it consistently throughout the cycle, providing a barrier in case ovulation still takes place (which does happen).

How does it work? The cervix normally follows the marching orders of hormones. With the use of contraceptives, the synthetic hormones take over the natural ones and run the cervix in a non-natural way to produce consistently this type of non-fertile mucus.

So far so good. What’s wrong with a secondary barrier to make sure pregnancy doesn’t happen when that’s the reason why the woman is on the pill in the first place?

Here is how things get more complicated.

The impact of the pill on the production of cervical fluid

Professor Erik Odeblad is one of the first scientists to use MRI technology for a medical purpose. A Swedish physician, professor and researcher born in 1922, he spent most of his life studying and explaining the secretion of cervical fluid: the various types of fluids at different stages in a woman’s cycle and in her life, and their role and composition.

One of his discoveries was to show that there are different types of mucus[i], which he called G, L, S. Each has different roles and is secreted from different cervical crypts (the pockets lining the cervix) at different times. For instance,  right after puberty, a young woman has an abundance of S crypts, and as she ages, the number decreases and are replaced by L crypts. S mucus is the type of mucus that is essential to fertilization: it allows passage and then transports and nourishes sperm.

What Dr. Odeblad found was that “for each year the Pill is taken, the cervix ages by an extra year.” He explains that: “If a woman takes the Pill for 10-15 years and then ceases taking it in order to achieve pregnancy, she may encounter some difficulties.”

In simple terms, a 20-year-old woman who stays on the pill for 10 years can end up with the cervix of a 40 year-old with 20% of S crypts instead of 40-50%. It can take a long time after a woman stops the pill for her cervix, and especially the S crypts, to function again. Her cervix may never recover some of those lost capacities.

To make matters worse, if she gets on Clomid, thinking it will increase her chance of pregnancy, it will do the opposite: a known side effect of this drug is to reduce the production of cervical fluid. A thorough evaluation of both her ovulation and of her mucus production is needed.

Why it matters more today

Woman are waiting longer to start their families now that in the past. In 1970, most women had their first pregnancy in their early 20s. The average age of first child birth was 22. Today, it has risen to 26.4 years old. More women are delaying their first pregnancy past age 30. The percentage of first birth to women over 30 went from just one in ten in 1970 to almost one in three in 2014[ii].

If these women have been on the pill, as many have been, it’s no surprise that they would experience more difficulties getting pregnant. As the cervix may take up to a year to retrieve a functioning production of mucus, many couples may be directed to drastic medical procedures, such as IVF, a costly and emotionally difficult process. If they waited or found other ways to improve the production of their cervical mucus, they could resolve their problem. Some good news: a pregnancy will rejuvenate the cervix by 2 to 3 years.

Here is the scoop: as a result of being on the pill for an extended time, a woman may not be able to conceive for up to a year, leading her to think she’s infertile, when she’s not! Her fertility is certainly impaired, but medication to stimulate ovulation will actually aggravate the problem.

We find here yet another great reason why young women who are hoping to get pregnant one day should avoid hormonal birth control all together and use a Fertility Awareness Based Method. Not only will these methods preserve their fertility, but when the couple is ready to achieve a pregnancy, the knowledge gained through training in a FABM will help them reach that goal more quickly and easily.

Other readings on this topic:

[i] The Discovery of Different Types of Cervical Mucus and the Billings Ovulation Method, Erik Obledad, Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Medical Biophysics, University of Umeå, Sweden,  Bulletin of the Ovulation Method Research and Reference Centre of Australia, 27 Alexandra Parade, North Fitzroy, Victoria 3068, Australia, Volume 21, Number 3, pages 3-35, September 1994.

[ii] First Births to Older Mothers, 1970-86 – NCBI  and First Births to Older Women Continue to Rise , NCHS Data Brief No. 152, May 2014 by T.J. Mathews, M.S.; and Brady E. Hamilton, Ph.D.


Melanie and Madeline, changing the face of beauty

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Why? Because it is the 21st day of the 3rd month. The numbers represent the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

Unhapply, about 90% of women who learn that they will give birth to a child with Down syndrome have an abortion. This barbarity is not just the mother’s fault. They receive so little encouragement — even from their doctor – and they are under intense pressure just to make the problem disappear. Society takes a very dim view of disability.

Mary Le Rumeur writes from France about two young women with Down’s who have made a splash in the media as a model and as a weathergirl.

Two beautiful young girls – one in France and the other from Australia – are showing the world a new face of Down Syndrome.

Mélanie had a dream; she wanted to present the weather report on television. So last month, 21-year-old Mélanie Ségard posted a message on FaceBook: “If I get 100,000 likes, I can be the weather girl.”

Within 10 days Mélanie had 200,000 likes, and several television channels contacted her. The choice was made to accept the spot offered by France 2 on its main evening news programme.

Mélanie spent four days at the TV channel’s studios in Paris, under the tuition of former weather girl Catherine Laborde. She had to learn her text by heart because she can not read or write. The current weather girl Anaïs Baydemir took her under her wing and they worked as a team.

On March 14 the final preparations were made with Melanie choosing her clothes and make-up. Finally, at 8.35 pm, she was on screen, wearing a little black skirt, pretty pink top, chic earrings and a confident smile. Mélanie was telling the whole of France that Spring weather was arriving: “ Thursday, cloudy in the north, sunny near Marseille…. ”

And to finish, “Happy feastday tomorrow to all the Louises.” Anaïs and Mélanie hugged each other, a big happy smile on both faces.

This project was initiated to mark Down Syndrome Day, March 21. (The 21st of the third month represents the extra chromosome at the 21st pair that causes trisomy 21.) An association of families with DS children was looking for a way to overcome the  “ invisibility ”of their children, especially on television. And they were very proud of Mélanie’s exploits.

“ Mélanie was natural and spontaneous. Her presentation was happy and confident. Mélanie gave the message that if society helps these young people, they can achieve many things, ” said the president of the association, Luc Gateau. “ We hope that schools will become more inclusive of children with handicaps, and the next generation will be more familiar with different handicaps and able to interact more easily. ”

Mélanie’s weather report gave France 2 a record audience of over 5 million and it was also watched more than 3 million times on internet. On Twitter, 12,000 people sent Melanie a message of congratulations.


Madeline Stuart, Facebook

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Madeline Stuart was launching her own fashion label – in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, no less ! Since 2015 Madeline has made a special place for herself in the fashion world, modelling in New York, Birmingham, Dubai, Paris, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and China.

“ Exuberance ” is the word for this 20-year-old Australian who watched a fashion parade one day in her home town of Brisbane, and said to her mother, “ Mum, me, model.” Her mother Rosanne took up the challenge, first helping her daughter to lose 20 kilos, by dancing and going to the gym. Maddie’s new silhouette inspired people around the world.

Then in September 2015 Madeline was on the catwalk for the first time, during the New York Fashion Week. You can see the video of her first parade, in a stunning black dress, on her website. Colours and zazzy patterns are the trademark of Madeline’s casual but chic ready-to-wear collection. Her label: “ 21 Reasons Why ”.

Madeline and her team assume with pride all her 21 chromosomes, and showcase a young woman who takes life full on, with her arms open wide, a toss of her long shiny hair, and a smile to reach your heart. In 2016 Madeline was nominated for the Pride of Australia and Young Australian of the Year.

In 2015 a United States group called Changing the Face of Beauty set out to find 15 retailers to commit to using models with disabilities in their advertisements – and wound up getting commitments from more than 100 companies. With television and fashion weeks coming to the party, the face of beauty is certainly changing.

Mary O’Neill Le Remeur writes from Angers in France.

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