News & Commentary

What do declining fertility rates tell us about a society’s future?

by Marcus Roberts

Over at National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty recently discussed the latest fertility figures from the United States. Once again, they were in decline: in 2019 the total fertility rate (the number of children each woman on average is expected to have over her life) dropped to 1.7. This is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 and means that, absent large scale immigration, the USA’s population will start to naturally decline.

This fertility rate is the lowest on record and marks about the twelfth year in a row in which it has declined (from just before the GFC). This is now a trend which has reduced the USA’s position as the outlier among western nations – for many years America had a fertility rate closer to replacement than its East Asian and West European competitors and allies.

Dougherty worries about the atomisation that this trend will bring. Family trees will collapse inwards: there will be fewer siblings, aunts, cousins and uncles. As he puts it “more people in the future will grow up with shrivelled kin networks, fewer relations with people who are obliged to socialise and network with each other”.

This reduces our sense of comfort and confidence in the world: the school and support which the family provides to us all will be weakened, especially in its role as the first of the independent civic associations that undergird society.

Without a strong family network, society loses a bulwark against the forces of social conformism. (I’m not sure about the States, but this is something desperately obvious in New Zealand – the last few weeks have shown us comprehensively that we are a nation of conformists.)

More generally, low fertility societies are low confidence societies: too few are investing in the future by investing in the next generation. They also tend towards suspicion and paranoia: immigrants aren’t seen as reinforcements to the nation’s mix, but replacements of the nation’s natives.

A large part of the decision to delay having children, or forgo doing so at all, is due to concern that we have material prosperity sorted before bringing children into the world.  We need to have finished our education, have a secure job lined up, and preferably be on the property-owning ladder before we feel settled enough to have children. Even if all of these material goals are met, having children is pushed back into the late 20s or early 30s. Making child rearing dependent on material security also means that fertility rates are depressed by economic downturns and recessions.

But even when the economy is growing, the lack of extended family trees and social networks in which more than two children are the norm means that it is hard for a society to increase its fertility rate. There are fewer social support networks available: older parents means older grandparents who can contribute less to the raising of grandchildren.

What can be done? Is this a problem which merely requires policy tinkering like maternity leave or increased day care? Are we instead witnessing something greater: the beginning of the end of our current economic/social/culture milieu as we fail to replace ourselves? And if so, what will replace us?

If a society is not even guaranteeing its future through replacement generations of children, then it is a failing society. We need to start acknowledging this.

Born for each other: How family planning and porn keep company

by Carolyn Moynihan

You can tell something about a person by the company she keeps, and the same applies to organisations. Marie Stopes International, a high profile British birth control non-profit, was outed in The Mail on Sunday recently for receiving cash and goods worth 7.5 million pounds from American porn tycoon Phil Harvey over the past 15 years.

Harvey himself has been a direct player in the international “reproductive health” game since the 1970s, funding his own and other charities through Adam & Eve, a business that sold 60 million pounds worth of sex toys and pornographic film in 2019.

What does this say about Marie Stopes?

At best that it suffers from poor taste. It also has a strange attitude to women. MSI touts its contraceptive and abortion services as empowering “women and girls all over the world to choose when or whether to have children.” Yet it works hand in glove with an industry that disempowers women by making them sexual playthings, if not facilitating sexual assault and human trafficking.

Harvey’s sex business offers an array of pornographic material including female sex robots which promote the fact “her inflatable body is also practical if you need to store her or take her on journeys.” An huge list of pornographic films is also flaunted on his sex website.

But by peddling contraception and abortion to vulnerable women in developing countries, MSI, like Planned Parenthood and the rest of them, is handmaiden to every man who would sexually exploit a woman. Yet it is blasé about the connection.

Its response to the Mail on Sunday was: “Phil Harvey has spent his life defending sexual and reproductive health rights, and played a significant role in expanding access for women across the world. We are proud that he continues to contribute to the organisation.”

Harvey, 82, is not the only unsavoury mogul to cosy up to the birth control industry. Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, used his magazine to campaign for legalised abortion. Harvey Weinstein apparently posed as a cheerleader of Planned Parenthood. It makes sense: the women they used or encouraged other men to use might need the odd abortion, and it goes down well with the liberal crowd.

However, Phil Harvey’s US$9 million equivalent over a decade or two looks paltry compared to what Marie Stopes gets from other sources every year. The UK government alone gave them £48million last year which helped them deliver around five million abortions and pay its CEO £434,000 – among other things. Harvey’s position as a board member of MSI signals that he is much more important to the organisation than his cash grants.

profile of him in Mother Jones magazine back in 2002 reveals that the relationship between Harvey and Marie Stopes goes back more than 50 years, to when he was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health, on a Ford Foundation fellowship (Ford being one of the main powerhouses of the population control movement). There he worked with a young British doctor, Tim Black, who went on to rescue the bankrupt Marie Stopes Foundation in 1975 and turn it into a “social business” with its current name.

Both Harvey and Black had spent time in developing countries and were convinced that what the poor of the world needed more than food was fewer babies. As part of their thesis work they came up with a plan to test social marketing of contraceptives in the American marketplace. With a university grant they began a mail order business, running clever ads in college newspapers and selling condoms to students. Next they added other merchandise and eventually struck gold when they threw in sex magazines. This was the genesis of Adam & Eve, which under Harvey surfed the wave of the home video boom in the 1980s and survived efforts to shut it down under the Reagan administration.

But Harvey and Black hadn’t forgotten the poor: perhaps social marketing of condoms would work in the developing world as well. To this end they set up a dual venture: a profit-making arm called Population Planning Associates, and a separate nonprofit, Population Services International (PSI), which by 1975 was running condom-marketing programmes in Kenya and Bangladesh. PSI remains one of the big guns of population control alongside International Planned Parenthood.

Harvey left PSI in the late 1970s and focussed on his porn business, but a few years later he founded another non-profit, DKT International, to take up marketing and supplying cheap condoms to the poor again.

In 2017 DKT launched a “WomanCare” platform “to dramatically increase the use of high-quality contraceptive, safe abortion, and reproductive health products.” In 2019, DKT WomanCare sold 222,123 manual vacuum aspiration abortion kits, 1.8 million cannulae and 1.4 million implants (linked with high rates of HIV in some African countries) in 90 countries. The organisation’s homepage currently features an example of its social marketing in the form of an article headed, “5 People Share Why Their Abortion Was Beautiful”.

This seems to be the real value of Phil Harvey to MSI and the whole international birth control industrial complex. As an entrepreneur he will use some of his own profits from porn to boost the supply of something like manual vacuum aspiration kits where, say, the British foreign aid agency or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the UN Population Fund might hold back until the product is more acceptable to recipient governments.

Perhaps in somewhere like Kenya, where, although Marie Stopes says it only does abortions where they are legal, it more or less openly flouts the country’s highly restrictive law, and cloaks its activity with the saintly garb of “after abortion care” – that is, cleaning up after illegal abortions, which MSI dramatises (and inflates?) in order to push its abortion rights barrow.

On its home turf in Britain, MSI has had to clean up its own operations after unannounced official inspections. A highly critical Care Quality Commission report found major safety flaws at MSI clinics, with more than 2,600 serious incidents reported in 2015. A follow-up report in 2017 found there were 373 botched abortions in just the first two months of that year. MSI had issues with infection control and staff at one clinic complained of a “cattle market” approach with incentives for putting through as many abortions as possible.

No doubt there was some kind of idealism driving the founders of MSI and PSI/DKT, as there may be among those working for the organisations today – an actual belief that preventing births is a real favour to women and to the world in general. After all, the rich and respected of the world, the Fords, the Hewletts, the Gates and others have thought and continue to think so.

But the pornography connection that has helped so many of their projects along shows the true character of the birth control enterprise. Harvey told Mother Jones in 2002 that in the early days he was “terrified that, because of Adam & Eve, we were going to lose support for some of our programs.” Then he added: “But it never happened. I think part of the reason was that the key people in charge of family planning overseas, even in conservative governments, are not the types who are likely to be upset by sex products. After all, they’re in the sex business themselves.”

Yes, sex boils down to business for the so-called family planning establishment. A business requiring certain products to make it “safe” if not enjoyable for all concerned. And porn is one of those products, nearly as important as the condom itself, and often more effective since it removes the need for any human contact whatsoever. In that way, however, the pornographers could drive MSI and company out of business, ending a beautiful friendship, as beautiful as abortion.

Does hormonal contraception use negatively affect bone health?

by Cassie Moriarty

When you think about cycling and menstruation, you don’t typically think about your bone health. But important research has emerged in the last few decades linking the natural cycle of women’s reproductive hormones to their bone health and development. That’s right, yet another thing your cycles are good for, is protecting your current and future bone health–which is especially important for women. Just another reason why, yes, you do “need” a period!

How bones work

We often think of our skeleton as a fixed structure, just there to hold our bodies upright. But the truth is that our bones are anything but static; they have a life cycle that involves building up, tearing down, and rebuilding tissue constantly. Kind of like construction at the LaGuardia airport.

Kimberly Reda-Wilson is a four-year apprentice in the program Bones For Life, which offers classes that “explore movement intelligence of bone strength and weight-bearing posture,” as a preventative measure against osteoporosis. Reda-Wilson explains, “Bones are living tissue. They have blood vessels and are made of living cells, which help them to grow and repair themselves. They are just as alive as your heart or brain or lungs.”

There are two main types of cells that comprise bone tissue: Bone forming cells and bone resorbing cells. The types of cells that form bone are called osteoblasts and osteocytes. The type of cells that resorb bone are called osteoclasts. Bone also contains nonmineral matrices of collagen and noncollagenous proteins called osteoids, as well as mineral salts. The higher your bone mineral content, the denser your bones are—which, as you might guess, is a good thing. The denser your bones, the less likely you are to experience fractures. Low bone density can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become dangerously porous and fragile, increasing their risk of fracturing.

Hormones, cycles, and their roles in bone health & development

It is well established that estrogen plays a role in bone formation. The major physiological effects of estrogen are to inhibit bone resorption and to promote bone growth. For years, researchers have surmised that post-menopausal bone loss is attributed to the lack of estrogen that occurs after menopause. But estrogen isn’t the only thing post-menopausal women lack. After cycles cease, progesterone is low as well. Mounting research indicates that bones need progesterone just as much estrogen.

In this 2010 research paper co-written by two of the leading researchers on reproductive hormones and bone health, Dr. Jerilynn Prior and Dr. Vanadin Seifert-Klauss, it was confirmed that “In vitro studies of human osteoblasts in culture, prospective studies in adolescent, premenopausal, perimenopausal, and post-menopausal women all indicate that progesterone—likely working through bone formation pathways—plays an active role in maintaining women’s bone and in osteoporosis prevention.”

Dr. Jerilynn Prior is the director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR) and her life’s work has been researching and educating about progesterone’s relationship to bone health.

“You need ovulation, as well as normal cycles, for healthy bones,” Dr. Prior told me in a virtual meeting. “Women spend the first 25 years of their lives building bone mass. If they are ovulating normally, they should be able to keep that bone mass throughout their reproductive life and beyond.”

That means post-menopausal bone health is decided by hormone processes that occurred decades earlier. “The story that everyone hears is that it’s estrogen deficiency that causes post-menopausal bone loss. But in reality, it’s the long time of pre-menopausal bone loss that’s silent if you’re not cycling regularly over the course of your reproductive years,” Dr. Prior explains.

In other words, if you’re not ovulating during your prime reproductive years, your bone density will be negatively impacted, and those effects will manifest in your post-menopausal years.

So, how we can support bone health for post-menopausal women? Dr. Prior says plainly, “You need to put bone mass in your bank in those [prior] critical years—and the only way to do that is by ovulating [regularly and functionally].”

Progesterone: the “heal and repair” hormone

Considering what we know about the effects of estrogen and progesterone in the body, Dr. Prior’s message makes intuitive sense.

We know that estrogen and progesterone have complementary effects on our reproductive and general health. Estrogen proliferates the endometrium and breast tissue, elevates blood sugar, dilates blood vessels, stimulates brain cells, and gives women a general boost of energy and feeling of well-being. Progesterone, estrogen’s alter ego, maintains endometrium tissue, relaxes blood vessels, normalizes blood sugar, maintains and heals brain cells, and promotes mood stabilization. We need both. Can you imagine being stimulated all of the time without the heal-and-repair mode?

So it should come as no surprise that the same is true of our bones. In this paper by Dr. Prior, she explains that, “when menstrual cycles are normal length and normally ovulatory, estrogen and progesterone are balanced and bone mineral density is stable. However, clinically normal cycles commonly have ovulatory disturbances (anovulation, short luteal phases) and low progesterone levels; these are more frequent in teen and perimenopausal women and increased by everyday stressors: energy insufficiency, emotional/social/economic threats and illness.”

Dr. Prior claims that the main contributor to ovulatory disturbances these days is … drum-roll … stress. “Women are expected to perform in the workplace the same as men. Yet, they’re also doing all the traditional things at home with little to no help. Women have an incredible burden today.” It’s true, women are under great demands emotionally, socially, culturally, financially, and physically in a fast-paced world. You could argue that women don’t get a “heal and repair” mode both hormonally and literally in their daily lives.

Synthetic hormones are not created equal

“Great,” you may be thinking. “I’m on hormonal contraception, and doesn’t that contain a form of progesterone? That should be good for my bones.” Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Hormonal contraception contains an artificial form of progesterone known as progestin. There are six different compounds of progestins used in hormonal contraception. But Dr. Prior warns that progestins do not have the same positive effect on our bone health (nor on our general health, either) as natural or bio-identical progesterone does. “Progestins do not have a class effect except for two things that are signified in their name,” Dr. Prior says. The first effect is “to preserve an existing pregnancy, and the other is to transform the proliferative effect of estrogen on the endometrium to a secretory one. Those are the only two things all progestins do.”

So, progestin in birth control may send a negative feedback signal to the part of the brain that wants to start a new cycle (the same thing that preserves an existing pregnancy), but it does not do anything to preserve your bones. In fact, it could actually be robbing them of a crucial opportunity to build bone mineral density.

Does hormonal contraception use negatively affect bone health?

Remember the ovulatory disturbances Dr. Prior talked about? As it happens, another huge correlation to ovulatory dysfunction is hormonal contraceptive use. One third of women who go on the Pill do so for solely gynecologic reasons, such as irregular or painful periods. These are usually glaring symptoms of an ovulatory dysfunction, which then goes untreated as a woman is prescribed birth control that masks the underlying dysfunction without actually doing anything to resolve it.

When I asked Dr. Prior if hormonal contraceptive use affects bone health, she gave a resounding “Yes!” After all, hormonal contraception creates an “ovulatory dysfunction” itself, in that it prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation. Ovulation is the only thing that can produce progesterone, so if there is no ovulation, then—you guessed it—there is no progesterone. And we’ve already talked about how vital progesterone—the real stuff, not synthetic progestin—is for bone health and development!

It’s especially problematic for their future bone health when teenagers and young women start birth control. Since the teenage years are so critical for building bone, it is that much more important for adolescent girls to have normal menstrual maturation undisturbed by artificial hormones. “Birth control use in adolescent girls has been shown to be significantly negative for spinal bone gain,” says Dr. Prior. “That’s something everyone needs to know.” The detrimental effects of progestin on bone health for adolescent girls was confirmed in a 2001 study that focused on Depo-Provera use. The Depo shot, which comprises one high dose shot of medroxyprogesterone acetate (a progestin) every 3 months, also happens to be the highest progestin dose of all hormonal contraceptives. And, as shown by the study, it also happens to significantly decrease bone mass density (BMD). This is just one more reason why women, and teenagers especially, need a (regular, post-ovulatory) period.

Cycles and stress-management: Keys to good bone health & preventing osteoporosis

So what does this mean for women hoping to maximize their bone health and maybe even evade osteoporosis?

Dr. Prior makes the point that perimenopause and menopause—and the bone density loss they come with—are very normal parts of life. If a woman has had the opportunity to cycle normally through puberty and onward, she should be well-equipped to withstand the natural loss of bone density that occurs in those years. And Dr. Prior makes it clear that while estrogen is important, progesterone deserves its 15 minutes of fame, too. “Although the dominant osteoporosis paradigm for women is, and should remain, centered on estrogen, progesterone is emerging as an important partner hormone that collaborates with estrogen,” she says.

Kimberly Reda-Wilson’s work with Bones for Life focuses on women in the post-menopausal years, and the things women can do to combat osteoporosis as they age. “While there are common denominators (diet, exercise, and stress management) among bone loss prevention programs, each one seems to emphasize a different component,” Reda-Wilson explains. “Originally the Women to Women’s program (now Women’s Health Network) emphasized an alkaline-based diet, exercise, supplements, and stress management. The Save Our Bones program also emphasizes an alkaline-based diet, exercise, supplements and stress management,” she says.

There it is again . . . the word stress! Both Reda-Wilson and Dr. Prior agree that stress management is a huge component in osteoporosis prevention. Of course, not all stressors are within each individual woman’s control—in fact, many stressors could be systemic, cultural, and political. But healthy stress management is certainly something healthcare providers should prioritize discussing with their patients. If women can bring down the stressors in their life, cycle naturally, and minimize ovulatory dysfunctions, it is quite reasonable to expect their bone health to benefit.

So there you have it. Having a period improves your immune system (as we discussed last week, here), and it also improves your bone health. These are two pretty darn good reasons women need their cycles–that is, they need to ovulate and have periods–for optimal health, and why Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), which allow women to cycle naturally while planning their families with high effectiveness rates, are far superior to contraception when it comes to safeguarding women’s health while preventing pregnancy.

Stay tuned for more in our “Reasons Women Need Periods” series in the coming weeks.

 

Kidney disease kept her from becoming pregnant – until her father saved her life

 

When she was a teenager, Angela Retchless was told she should never become pregnant. But thanks to an incredible gift from her dad, she was able to have the family she had always dreamed of.

Diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of nine, a doctor gave her devastating news as a teenager: it would be too dangerous for her to ever have a child. “I was only 16, but I’d always imagined that one day I’d be a mother,” she wrote for That’s Life!, an Australian magazine. “Glancing over at my mum, Julie, I could tell she was heartbroken for me too.” With her diagnosis, Retchless was told that her kidney function would continue to worsen until she would need to go on dialysis, and eventually, need a transplant. Her father, Leon, promised that he would give her one of his.

At 23, Retchless said she met her future husband Luke and had to break the news to him that she couldn’t have children; though she said he took it well, she knew deep down he wanted a family as she did. And after getting married, she had to deal with the pain of constant questions from people wanting to know when they would have kids. At first, Retchless thought her only option was IVF.

“[I]t was distressing to be asked when I knew the odds were stacked against us,” she said. “About a year after we were married, my doctors gave us the green light to try IVF. Then, my kidney function dropped to 40 per cent. Cross that off the list, I thought, devastated.” A friend offered to be a surrogate for her, but her kidney function was so dangerously low, that even egg retrieval was too dangerous. Meanwhile, she began to feel worse and worse.

“My head throbbed constantly and I woke up exhausted. To make sure I had enough energy to go to work on a Monday, I’d have to spend all Sunday resting,” she wrote. “‘If you don’t get a transplant, you’ll be on dialysis by the end of the year,’ my specialist said.”

But then, her dad stuck to his promise to give her a kidney — and even better, he was a perfect match.

“The 12-month recovery was tough. But almost instantly, with Dad’s kidney inside me, I felt better,” she said. “Before, I didn’t have the energy to go to the gym at all – now I was working out four times a week! And Luke and I were able to go on lovely weekends away.”

 

After she began feeling better, she and her husband decided to try IVF. But she needed to take a pregnancy test before they could get started. “What?! I thought, shocked, as two pink lines appeared,” she wrote. “That can’t be right, I decided, going outside to hang up some washing. Walking back inside, I half expected the lines to have disappeared. But they hadn’t.”

When she broke the news to her husband, it was an understandably emotional moment. “I was bawling,” she recalled. “‘Are you okay?’ he asked, worried. ‘I’ve got a baby in my belly!’ I sobbed even harder. Doing two more tests, together, both came up positive too! After eight years of trying, we’d fallen pregnant naturally.”

But that wasn’t the only surprise for the happy couple. At 13 weeks, she had an ultrasound and found out even more exciting news.

“As the sonographer slid the wand over my belly, I could see two little moon-like shapes on the screen,” she said. “‘There’s two, isn’t there?’ I asked. ‘Yes, you’re having twins,’ she said.” Doctors made sure to monitor her carefully, and Retchless said she had a “dream pregnancy.”

At 31 weeks, she successfully gave birth to her twin boys, Wyatt and Morgan. Each weighing less than four pounds, they were premature but still healthy. “[T]hey were tiny but perfect,” Retchless said. The twins are now three years old, and “best of mates.” And she said she will always be thankful for the gift her dad gave her.

“Each year on our transplant anniversary, Dad and I have a special outing for coffee and cake to celebrate,” she said. “I’ll never stop thanking Dad for the gift he gave me. Without his kidney, my body wouldn’t have been able to sustain a pregnancy. He gave Luke and me our beautiful twins!”

‘Petition on Hormonal Contraceptives’: The Real Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

By 

Breast cancer. Cervical cancer. Depression. Mood disorders. Suicide. Multiple sclerosis. Ulcerative colitis. Venous thromboembolism. Inflammatory bowel disease. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Cystitis. Crohn’s disease. Urogenital effects. Cardiovascular events. Increased chance of HIV transmission.

Your doctor rattled off those words like he was calling roll in a classroom. But each one made you cringe a little more than the last. You could feel your eyes widening as the list grew. Side effects—for a drug you don’t even need, for a drug not designed to alleviate a sickness. You look at him dubiously, as if maybe he’s joking. These can’t all be side effects from one drug, you think. But the look on his face tells you that he is not joking. In fact, he is very serious. And luckily for you, he cares enough about you to tell you what could happen if he prescribes the drug you’re asking for. You start to think to yourself: I don’t want to do that to my bodyI value my health too much. I respect my body more than that.

You wonder why you never heard any of this before, and you realize you’re going to have to rethink your desire for hormonal birth control.

The Petition

In June 2019, 10 doctors and researchers who had formed a Contraceptive Study Group published a document entitled Petition on Hormonal Contraceptives. This document evaluated existing literature and synthesized studies on hormonal birth control in order to present information on their side effects in one comprehensive document. The Contraceptive Study Group’s goal was to not only warn potential users, but also to petition the government to add black box—or warning—labels onto the boxes of contraception and to include warnings on patient-related information so that women know and understand the risks of the chemicals they put into their bodies. This article serves as an overview of just some of the major findings and of the information this group desperately wants to put forward for all to know.

The members of the Contraceptive Study Group understand the damage hormonal contraceptives do to women, to the babies they may carry, and to the families who love them. That is why they undertook the daunting task of reading, interpreting, compiling, and then disseminating the information they found. In all, this petition cites 230 outside sources—not counting those related to the environmental impact. This petition was not only a labor of love and compassion for their fellow human beings but also serves as a wake-up call to people who unknowingly—or knowingly—ingest these harmful chemicals.

Millions of women take hormonal birth control or receive contraceptive injections without any idea about the poison they’re putting into their bodies. According to the petition, “Based on data from the Guttmacher Institute, a conservative estimate of 11 million women aged 15-44 in the US take some form of hormonal contraceptive each day. A 2015 study reports that about 21 percent of women of reproductive years are using some form of hormonal contraceptive, which equates to about 13 million women (Daniels 2015).”

In addition, millions of babies die when these contraceptives thin the lining of the uterine wall, thus preventing the baby from implanting.

Hormonal contraceptives have been on the market for over 50 years, yet the scope of the devastation and health ramifications they have caused can never be known. Some women don’t even realize that the causes of the health problems they face may be contraception. If this petition succeeds in its intent, pharmaceutical companies will have to disclose these side effects.

The petition begins by listing the side effects of combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives (COCs). Many are mentioned in the first paragraph above. COCs include oral, intravaginal, and transdermal formulations. The petition lists the brand names of all of these—in six pages.

According to the team, progestogen-only contraceptives (POCs) “have not been extensively studied, but one large registry study did show a significantly increased risk of breast cancer with use of POCs.”

Furthermore, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies COCs as Group I carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer in humans.

Recommendations

The petition recommends that the government “remove from the market the injectable contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA; Depo-Provera) based on conclusive evidence that it facilitates the transmission of HIV from men to women.” It then recommends that black box warnings should be added for the following diseases and conditions: breast cancer, cervical cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, depression and suicide, venous thrombosis, and cardiovascular events. In addition, safety information should be added to advertisements and patient-related materials about multiple sclerosis, bone fractures, body mass effects, and urogenital problems.

Countless women suffer the side effects of hormonal contraception. Countless women feel duped by healthcare providers, by pharmaceutical companies, and by organizations that tout the benefits of COCs. Rarely do they hear of these side effects—side effects that can appear after long-term use, after a few months, or even after just a few short weeks.

In conjunction with the petition, the public is asked to post comments or stories to this site in order to encourage the government to add warnings to contraceptive labels. Many of these comments reference tragic and heartbreaking stories of loss—loss of life, loss of health, and loss of autonomy.

You might wonder why many physicians don’t warn their patients about these side effects.  Dr. Ken Stone offers some insight:

It is common practice that physicians do not discuss any significant adverse effects of oral contraceptives or require an informed consent. Some colleagues have said to me that they do not want to say anything that would deter them from using the pill. Standard adverse effects in formularies for prescribed contraceptive medicines usually do not mention the most severe ones like pulmonary embolus, stroke, breast cancer, liver disease, etc.

This petition for removing certain contraceptives from the market, listing those adverse effects that should have black box warnings in prescribed contraceptives, and those that need additional safety warnings in prescribed contraceptives provide[s] more than adequate research data to require the actions requested. As a family practice physician for the past 41 years, I believe the scandal of not informing women of the known side effects of contraceptives is an egregious injustice and needs immediate correction.

The members of the Contraceptive Study Group believe that the public should know the truth. Throughout the next several pages, we will discuss some of the findings and data they presented regarding many of the major side effects of hormonal contraception. To read the petition in its entirety, and to see the comprehensive list of side effects, visit the petition’s site.

HIV Transmission

Depo-Provera, or DMPA, is an injectable contraceptive that is administered quarterly. However, according to the study group: “Evidence began emerging in the 1990s, which has become compelling in recent years, that DMPA is unique among contraceptives in its property of facilitating the transmission of HIV.”

How is this so?

According to research, DMPA has an immunosuppressant quality. It binds to the glucocorticoid receptor of human leukocytes, which, in layman’s terms, means that it represses the woman’s innate immune responses and allows for an increase in HIV replication. Thus, when an infected man has intercourse with a woman taking DMPA, her compromised immune system cannot fight off the disease.

Because of this, the authors want DMPA taken off the market.

Breast Cancer

According to the petition, there are 1.7 million cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year. It is the most common form of cancer among women in developed countries and accounts for 20% of cancers in females.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies COCs as Group 1 carcinogens. That means they can cause cancer in human beings. Studies have long shown the link between breast cancer and COCs. The New England Journal of Medicine published an article in 2006 that found that COCs increase the risk of breast cancer. That same year, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (a medical journal sponsored by the Mayo Clinic) published a meta-analysis that confirmed the findings that COCs increase the risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

 

According to the Contraceptive Study Group, “Studies that looked at recent use (within 1–5 years) or current use of COCs in premenopausal women showed the most dramatic increased risk for breast cancer.” The most significant study found that women between the ages of 20-49 who had used COCs “within a year had an increased risk of breast cancer.”

Other studies corroborate these findings as well. Most found that women who used COCs for a year or more had a higher risk of breast cancer. A Danish study found that a woman’s risks increased even after she discontinued use if she had used COCs for five or more years.

The comments site offers many stories from women who have suffered from breast cancer and from the doctors who have treated them. Included among them are these:

Anthony Vigil, MD, FACS, says:

As a general surgeon, me and my partners ask our breast cancer patients about OCP [oral contraceptive pills] use since our best cancer textbooks describe an increased risk of breast cancer with OCP use. It is ethically imperative that women are made aware of the risks of ingesting hormones into their bodies.

Anna Poynter says:

At age 31, I found a small breast lump. I went to more than one doctor, but the last one I saw was the head of the UCSD Cancer Institute, a Dr. Barone, in San Diego, where I lived at the time. He told me that it was small, movable and I didn’t have any pain but that I should GET OFF THE PILL. 19 years later that very same lump grew and became malignant, and I ended up having a mastectomy.

An anonymous writer says: “Recently diagnosed with breast cancer; I was on the pill for 10 years.”

The authors recommend that a black box warning be included with COCs, along with warnings on patient-related materials, so that women understand the risks they face.

Cervical Cancer

According to the petition, approximately 260,000 women in the United States have cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society claims that there will be about 14,000 new cases this year alone. Research has shown that there is an increased risk of cervical cancer associated with COCs and that the risk increases for women currently taking hormonal birth control. In addition, the risk increases with the length of time the woman has taken the COCs.

The risk also increases if the woman has tested positive for HPV—the human papilloma virus.

The authors recommend both a black box warning and a warning on patient-related materials.

Depression, Mood Disorders, Suicide

 According to the study group, “The largest study of incident depression and use of anti-depressant medication (Skovlund 2016) indicates significantly increased risks for both COCs and POCs for both outcomes. The same group studied for suicide attempts and suicides (Skovlund 2018). Elevated risks were seen, and this was the case for both COCs and POCs. The recent NCHA study (Gregory 2018) showed a similar trend.”

The authors claim that their research has shown an “increased risk for depression, suicide risk, and suicide within 3 months of beginning to use the drugs and tapering off after 6 months, partly due to attenuation of symptoms, partly due to discontinuation due to adverse effects.”

depressed woman

The comments section of the website paints a dismal picture and offers evidence that these hormones cause new mental health problems and exacerbate existing or latent ones.

Julie Baltz, a family practice clinician who has practiced medicine for over 20 years, states that she has seen the psychological harm caused by hormonal contraceptives. She wrote:

Even more subtle and more underreported are the psychological effects. These patients simply state “I didn’t feel right” and often think that there something wrong with them that they don’t tolerate this type of medication. I’ve seen insomnia, anxiety, depression, anhedonia, anorexia, and poor libido directly improved within my clinical office by discontinuing a combined OCP.

Another person, known only as TF, wrote in to say:

In 2011 I was prescribed hormonal birth control to “fix” a very irregular cycle. Three months later I started to struggle with crippling fatigue, loss of appetite and disinterest in everything except sleeping. I was shortly after that diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and still to this day have to be on medication to remain functional. I still struggle with my energy levels, unfortunately medication can’t cure depression and make it disappear. My doctor and I both believe that the hormonal birth control was likely a trigger to a predisposition for Major Depressive Disorder.

A woman who wishes to remain anonymous stated:

In my early twenties I was prescribed birth control pills. The first cycle I took the pills as prescribed. I began to feel depressed, anxious, crying daily, with mood swings. Prior to beginning the oral contraceptive pills, I had none of these symptoms. After completing the first 2 weeks of the medication packet, I called the nurse practitioner at the OB/GYN clinic that I originally got the prescription. She told me that the changes in my mood, depression, and anxiety among others, could not be due to the new medication, that it must have just been life. She changed me to a lower dose contraceptive pill. After three weeks of taking the second prescription pack as directed I decided to discontinue use of oral contraceptives due to the side effects. I had gained 15 pounds and felt terrible.

The site is filled with story after story of people who have suffered—mentally and physically—because of these drugs. The authors want a black box warning about this side effect and warnings on patient-related materials.

Body Mass

While studies have varied regarding weight increase in women who use COCs, the strongest data found that levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs do, in fact, affect body mass. The authors stated that “a significant increase in % fat mass with a corresponding decrease in % lean body mass was observed in both studies where these were measured.”

Women have found this side effect all too real. For example, a woman who wishes to be anonymous said:

When I was taking hormonal birth control (HBC) I underwent a massive weight gain. From 120 lbs. to 155 lbs. That’s almost adding 30% to my body weight! I also suffered with severe stomach cramping, constant discomfort, constipation and diarrhea. My doctor diagnosed it at IBS. I was only on HBC for 8 months and got pregnant while taking it. I stopped taking it upon pregnancy and have never touched the stuff again!

The authors believe that all patient-related materials and advertising (print, radio, etc.) should convey information about this risk to the consumer.

woman standing on scale

Urogenital (Urinary and Genital) Effects

The authors found evidence of several different kinds of urogenital problems in women. These include interstitial cystitis (a condition that causes bladder pain and pressure), bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, vulvovaginal candidiasis, vaginal dryness, female sexual dysfunction, and more. They state that the risk increases for adolescents and if the woman uses COCs for at least two years.

A woman who wishes to remain anonymous experienced a whole host of problems, including urogenital. She said:

I was put on birth control by my parents when I was only 15 years old after a sexual assault incident. I then continued it for another 5 years before I began to question it. In that time frame I experienced extreme weight gain and loss from one pill to another, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder because of my manic depression and severe mood swings (I am not bipolar), experienced a miscarriage, developed cysts in my breasts, had continuous pregnancy symptoms (including morning sickness every day), and had frequent UTIs and yeast infections. No one ever associated any of my problems, other than the breast cysts, to my birth control pills. It wasn’t until I discontinued the use once learning of the cysts that I began to feel normal and realized the association between my symptoms and the pill.

The authors believe that all patient-related materials and advertising (print, radio, etc.) should convey information about this risk to the consumer.

Venous Thromboembolism, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Events

 Venous Thromboembolism

A venous thromboembolism (or VTE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein, most often in the leg, arm, or groin, and then lodges itself in the lung. This is an extremely dangerous health problem that can cause death. Even the American Heart Association website agrees that COCs can cause a VTE: “In women, pregnancy and the use of hormones like oral contraceptives or estrogen for menopause symptoms can also play a role.”

The comments regarding this side effect address the tragedies that have befallen women and families as a result of hormonal birth control. For example, Carol Pepin wrote about the loss of her daughter:

My 19-year-old daughter Shelby Pepin . . . died. Shelby was very athletic, did not smoke, and had no history of a blood disorder. The coroner’s report confirmed that Shelby had died from a pulmonary embolism. She had a DVT [deep vein thrombosis] behind her left knee that traveled to her lungs causing her bilateral embolism. The coroner also confirmed that her DVT was caused by her birth control the NuvaRing. Shelby had been on the NuvaRing for 18 months.

Joseph West has a similar story:

Our daughter died at age 29 in the Intensive Care Unit of her local hospital where she had been transferred after presenting herself at her local walk-in clinic. Her death was five weeks to the day after getting married and one day before [her] scheduled departure on a delayed honeymoon cruise. The autopsy report stated that she had “bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli” with a thrombus present in the left popliteal fossa. She had been using NuvaRing at the time of her death [which] had been removed at the walk-in clinic prior to transport to the hospital. . . . The [ICU] doctor stated that she believes that hormonal birth control was a significant contributor to the death of our daughter.

Kimberly Phipps-Nichol shared her personal story of survival:

Last year, at the age of 46, I was hospitalized with a cerebral thrombosis that was literally caught right before causing a stroke. The ER docs told me that if it had not been for the fact that the people I was with at the time of the event were trained to recognize the signs of stroke and called 911 for a stroke paramedic unit that arrived quickly, I would have been somewhere between a vegetative state and severely disabled. After countless CT scans and MRIs, along with a thorough study of my family history, the neurologist and hematologist teams determined it was the oral contraceptives that I was taking that had caused the thrombosis.

Diagram of thrombosis blood clotting

Diagram of thrombosis

An anonymous family physician claims to have seen the negative side effects of contraceptives firsthand and tells of several cases, including her treatment of a young woman in her late 20s who went into a coma brought on by a pulmonary embolism. The only known risk factor was that this woman was taking hormonal birth control. In addition, a medical colleague of this doctor suffered a pulmonary embolism that was attributed to OCP.

Nancy Brockoff wrote to say that she had four friends, who were all young mothers, who died of blood clots related to hormonal birth control.

Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries caused by plaque. Arteries clogged with plaque lead to heart problems. Even as long ago as 1982, researchers understood and took interest in the fact that vascular disease and COCs were linked. According to the petition, these researchers “found that combination oral contraceptives (COCs) caused ‘greater cell proliferation and incorporation . . . in both human arterial smooth muscle cells and dermal fibroblasts.’ Smooth muscle cell proliferation is an integral feature of all atherosclerotic lesions (Bagdade 1982). In 2007, a presentation at the American Heart Association meeting described a study of 1,301 Belgian women, which showed that women had a 20 to 30 percent increase of plaque for every decade on COCs (Rietzschel 2007).”

Furthermore, the Danish Heart Association “released the results of a 15-year historic cohort study looking at thrombotic stroke and myocardial infarction, which observed over 1.6 million women. The results demonstrated that women taking COCs with ethinyl estradiol at a dose of 20 [micrograms] had a risk of arterial thrombosis that was 0.9 to 1.7 times higher than non-users, while those taking a dose of 30 to 40 [micrograms] had a 1.3 to 2.3 higher risk” (Lidegaard 2012).

The current black box warning about thrombotic events mentions smoking and age, which the authors believe misleads the consumer into thinking she’s safe if she doesn’t smoke or if she’s younger than 35. They want the warning amended to read: “Warning: Increased risk of serious cardiovascular events including blood clots.” Additionally, they request warnings on all advertising and patient-related materials.

Environment

The synthetic hormones that women take are continually released from their bodies through their waste products. When researchers noticed changes in the aquatic environment—especially in fish—they began conducting studies to determine the cause of these changes. What they found astounded them.

The Contraceptive Study Group explained:

EE2 [the synthetic estrogen ethinylestradiol] is metabolized in the liver undergoing first pass metabolism, but ~6% of the administered dose appears as untransformed EE2 in the urine and ~9% in the feces (Stanczyk 2013)….Even at low concentrations, these compounds can act as potent endocrine disruptors, affecting the growth, development, and reproduction of exposed aquatic organisms (Tyler 1998, Larsson 1999).

While wastewater treatment plants have the ability to filter out many chemicals and pollutants, they cannot filter out EE2.

Studies have found that these synthetic chemicals cause changes in male fish. A 1995 paper found that male fish in nearly 30 rivers throughout Britain had become “feminized” by these pollutants.

The Contraceptive Study Group also referenced a seven-year long study of the effects of EE2 on Canadian lakes. In that study, researchers approximated the amount of EE2 that would reach the waterways from a town of 200,000 people. They immediately saw the feminization and transgendering of male fish and a “near extinction” of the population of the fathead minnow there. Once the researchers stopped adding EE2 to the water, the population of minnows returned to normal.

We find further evidence in a study that looked at the fish populations near three Colorado sewage treatment plants. There, researchers found a significant difference between the fish upstream of the plant and those downstream. They stated:

The fish in the upstream locations enjoyed a balanced 1:1 female-to-male sex ratio. Downstream there were five female fish for every one male, and twenty percent of the reduced male population demonstrated intersex characteristics, such as eggs in their testes and the presence of vitellogenin, an egg yolk protein normally found only in fertile females. The consequences also appeared to ascend up the food chain in a measurable way, specifically with the feminization of trout, mink frogs and green frogs (Parke 2009). Both the predicted and the measured concentrations of EE2 in the US, including effluent of waste water treatment plants, surface water, or ground water, exceeds the predicted no-effect concentrations on fish populations (Kostich 2013).

fish under water

Conclusion

In addition to these diseases and the pollution in the environment, the economic costs from these side effects and their resultant diseases/health problems to the patient and to the community are in the billions.

This article touched upon some of the most egregious side effects. To read the full list of side effects and the studies referenced, to read all of the comments, or to add your own comment, visit regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2019-P-2289-0001.

This health crisis affects us all. Whether you are male or female, elderly, middle aged, young, a mother, or a father, hormonal birth control does affect your life in some way because these hormones affect your wives, your mothers, your sisters, your cousins, your best friends, the environment, and even your dinner table. It’s time to speak up and tell the government that women must know the truth. It’s time to help women understand that their health is more important than a drug that can alter their body and mind. Synthetic hormones and their deleterious effects leave a lasting impact and crush our society.

Abortion is ‘easier to justify’ when society views children as ‘uninvited guests’

 

In a recent podcast, 40 Days for Life president and CEO Shawn Carney and two other 40 Days for Life directors — Steve Karlen, and Robert Colquhoun — tackled the topic of contraception and how it relates to abortion in society.

Historically, children were viewed as a gift

Steve Karlen, director of North American Outreach for 40 DFL, noted that our current cultural mindset represents a major shift from centuries past, saying, “Throughout all of human history, children have been viewed as a blessing,” adding, “We all know this to be true, and at the same time we have this schizophrenia where we have mass use of contraception that says ‘no, we don’t really want children around here.’”

Karlen further characterized contraception as “contrary to human nature” because he believes human beings “have this innate longing to bring children into the world and to love them and to make the world a better place for them.”

A contraceptive mentality increases abortions

40 DFL CEO Shawn Carney defined a contraceptive mentality as one that divorces the idea of babies from sex, primarily via hormonal birth control that acts against (“contra”) conception.

Because we expect contracepted sex to be sterile and for the purpose of pleasure only, when a child does result, as Karlen pointed out, we tend to view him or her as “an intruder, an invader, an uninvited guest. And that makes abortion so much easier to justify at that point.”

Robert Colquhoun, director of International Campaigns for 40 DFL, said many people believe “if we just use birth control, we can reduce abortions.” In actuality, he said, increased use of contraceptives correlates with increased rates of sexual activity. When the contraceptives fail, as some inevitably do, there’s an increase in unintended pregnancies accompanied by an increase in abortions to “deal” with them. He added, “Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be handing out contraceptives if they knew that they led to a decreased abortion rate.”

 

Some contraception may cause abortions

As Karlen, Carney, and Colquhoun noted, the science behind contraceptives acting as abortifacients is not complicated. Contraceptives act in several ways to prevent ovulation, but they also thin the lining of the uterus, making implantation of an embryo much more difficult. Once fertilization occurs, a genetically unique human being is created. Preventing implantation, then, would mean that a child dies.

Contraception’s negative impacts on society

Karlen said, “Contraception is not good for our relationship with children in the womb” because it leads to a classification of children as “wanted” or “unwanted” depending on whether their parents intended to get pregnant or not.

As Shawn Carney recalled, decades ago, the Catholic Church was considering whether to change its longstanding prohibition on contraception, and Pope Paul VI released a 1968 document called Humanae Vitae. In that document, he made three predictions about what would happen if contraceptive use became widespread: 1) a rise in divorce, 2) a decreased respect for the wellbeing of women, and 3) governmental coercion of human reproduction (i.e. China’s One Child Policy and the forced sterilization of thousands of U.S. women between the 1920s and 1970s). These predictions have sadly come true.

Life of chastity brings ‘great peace, great hope’

Carney noted that while 40-50% of couples who contracept reportedly divorce, the divorce rate among couples who use fertility awareness-based methods is only 3-5%. Carney believes this is due to a fundamental difference in mindset among those using NFP — one that values the woman as a whole person and doesn’t pathologize her fertility, and which views children as a blessing and a joy rather than a burden.

For those struggling with infertility, natural family planning could be the answer

 

When Amanda Nichols and her husband Charlie were trying to become pregnant, Natural Family Planning (NFP) led them to the discovery of the causes of their infertility. And when Tara Horesowsky and her husband Bryan were ready to start having children, they were able to use NFP to know on which days they were most likely to conceive. NFP has been belittled by the fertility industry and birth control industry for years, with doctors telling women that it simply doesn’t work — but this couldn’t be further from the truth, and recent studies have shown how incredibly effective it is. NFP isn’t the rhythm method our grandmothers used, but rather a way of understanding one’s own personal fertility and making decisions based on each body’s unique rhythm.

After using their chosen method of NFP, the Horesowskys learned when they had reached peak fertility, and within a couple of months, they were expecting their first child.

“It was the most incredible news and it was so clear to us that NFP helped us prevent pregnancy when it wasn’t the right time, and helped us achieve pregnancy when we felt that calling,” Horesowsky told the Catholic Messenger.

There are a variety of ways to practice NFP, and every couple can choose for themselves which works best for them.

Types of NFP

The Billings Method/Cervical Fluid. By observing changes in cervical (cervix) fluid, a woman can notice when she is infertile and when she is near peak fertility as well as when she reaches peak fertility. Used in combination with basal body temperature reading, understanding cervical fluid can help a couple achieve pregnancy. The Billings Method uses cervical fluid to help women chart their cycles.

The Couple to Couple League/Sympto-Pro Method. Examples of the Sympto-Thermal Method are the Sympto-Pro Fertility Education and the Couple to Couple League methods. Through these, couples can combine the cervical fluid and basal body temperature methods in order to achieve pregnancy. By using a thermometer that measures her basal body temperature, a woman can take her temperature each morning before getting out of bed. Before ovulation, her temperature will be at her lowest and after ovulation, her temperature will rise about half a degree and remain elevated. By observing and charting these changes together, a woman can better track fertility and interpret her unique chart to find her most fertile days. Women who have irregular cycles can do well with this method as it is based on their own unique fertility.

The Marquette Model. With the Marquette Method of NFP, couples can use modern technology to monitor fertility. By using urine fertility biomarkers, along with the observation of cervical mucus or basal body temperature, couples use a fertility monitor that shows them when certain hormones have been detected in the woman’s urine which indicate ovulation is about to occur. It is easy to use and understand and when using the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor, women can look back on their cycles for the last six months to determine their personal fertility patterns or issues with their cycle.

The Creighton or FertilityCare Method. This method not only helps women understand their cycle, but is the basis for NaProTECHNOLOGY, a revolutionary method of achieving pregnancy for couples struggling with infertility. The Creighton Model FertilityCare System (CrMS) is built off of the Billings Method and requires the participation of both spouses. NaProTECHNOLOGY has helped couples who have been struggling with frequent miscarriages, premature births, abnormal bleeding, and ovarian cysts, as well as other fertility problems.

Couples who use NFP aren’t sitting on the sidelines of their fertility. They have taken control and are therefore able to know when is not only the best time to conceive but when to refrain from sex if seriously trying to avoid pregnancy. Over 6 million women in the United States struggle with infertility. In Vitro Fertilization is expensive, highly controversial, and has a success rate only as high as 30 percent per cycle. NaProTECHNOLOGY, however, has up to an 80 percent success rate for couples struggling with infertility through the use of charting along with medical or surgical restorative treatments that address the cause of infertility.

Nichols and her husband were struggling to become pregnant when they reached out to Dr. Monica Minjeur, who is trained in CrMS. Minjeur used NFP to help identify why the couple was having trouble conceiving because Nichols had been charting her cycles. Minjeur noticed that Nichols’ temperatures were lower than normal which was a sign of a thyroid condition. She was able to diagnosis Nichols with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as well, which explained infrequent ovulation. In addition, low progesterone was determined to have been the reason that they weren’t able to conceive even when she did ovulate. With changes in her diet and the addition of progesterone supplements, the couple was able to become pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl.

NFP has been disparaged by industries built on making money off of women’s bodies and fertility. But in reality, a woman’s ability to gain understanding and knowledge of her body and her unique cycle is empowering, allowing her to be freed from the constraints and health risks associated with hormonal birth control.

‘We brought light into the world’: Laura chose life and left behind her addiction

 

At 27 years old, recovering drug addict Laura Amoretti discovered that against all odds, she was pregnant. She had only been sober for 90 days and her sister pressured her to have an abortion, kicking Amoretti out of her home when she refused.

“I began having problems with drugs and alcohol at 19 after an abusive relationship and serious depression left me broken, lost, with an overwhelming sadness and dislike for myself,” she wrote in an essay for Love What Matters. “As my addiction progressed, I found myself 27 years old with a crippling heroin addiction and I hadn’t gone a day in 8 years without drinking. I was a master at hiding my addiction from family and friends but when I was alone, I was an absolute mess. I cried myself to sleep every night and woke up in full blown withdrawal almost every day. When I wasn’t falling asleep smoking cigarettes I was escorting or partying.”

After finally telling her family the truth, they helped her quit drugs and get through “the most painful and debilitating withdrawal.” Amoretti also found support in a fellow-recovering addict, until one day he was tragically robbed and killed. His death nearly sent her back to drugs, but instead, she found herself at a meeting for recovering addicts. “… I spoke and told everyone what happened and told them I was so distraught I couldn’t think of what to do but to go back to addiction,” she said.

A week later, after her friend’s funeral, Amoretti texted her dealer and set up a time to meet him. “[I]n that exact instant I received a different text that I believe saved my life. A guy from that meeting texted me asking if I was ok, how was I doing. I stopped and made a decision right there not to use drugs that day. It was GOD was showing me there was something else waiting for me if I just stayed sober,” she explained.

The two soon began dating, and two months later – only 90 days sober – Amoretti learned she was pregnant. She was shocked. At 13 years old she had been told it would be nearly impossible for her to become pregnant because of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. But there they were — two recovering addicts expecting a baby. Her sister, with whom she was living, insisted that she abort, but Amoretti refused. “I was soon forced to leave her house because she didn’t agree with my decision and in a scramble and with almost nothing to work with, me and him found the tiniest guesthouse to live in. We both found jobs and slowly but surely created a modest life to bring our baby into.”

Abortion isn’t the solution

Unfortunately, this sort of treatment is common toward women dealing with unplanned pregnancies, and it’s even worse for pregnant women battling addiction. Rather than helping women, abortion has been tied to an increased risk of drug and alcohol use. One study found that women who aborted unwanted pregnancies were “270% more likely to report subsequent alcohol abuse or dependence.” And post-abortive women are more likely to become addicted to drugs than women who choose life (15.8 percent vs. 5.3 percent). Based on this, abortion could certainly send a recovering addict into a downward spiral.

As for babies conceived while their mothers are addicted to drugs, they do not deserve death. When we help the mother, we help the child in the womb as well; the focus should be on assisting women in overcoming their addictions. The effects on the child depend on the type of drug abused during pregnancy, and killing a child through abortion is not a morally acceptable response to the fear of a substance’s effect on that child’s body.

While society’s “solution” of aborting a child is often cloaked in a misguided sense of compassion and a desire to avoid suffering, eliminating the sufferer is surely not a proper way to avoid life of potential suffering. After all, “suffering is not evil,” noted the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles in a recent video. “Actually, suffering is morally neutral…. What is good or evil is how you react to suffering. You can react in a way that is ennobling, dignified, and good. Or you can react in a way that is selfish, wicked, evil, and wrong.” Reacting with killing — abortion — is wrong.

Coercion isn’t the solution

Other individuals, such as Barbara Harris, believe that the best way to help women who are addicted to drugs is to coerce them into sterilization. Harris travels the country in an RV, offering cash to women struggling with addiction in exchange for being permanently sterilized. “Nothing positive comes to a drug addict who gives birth to eight children that are taken away from her. This is a win-win for everybody,” she said. Harris has reportedly paid more than 7,000 women to be sterilized.

While on the surface, this might seem reasonable, it isn’t. Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says Harris’ method of assistance isn’t morally acceptable. “[Harris] perpetuates really destructive and cruel myths about pregnant women and their children,” she said. She sees Harris as operating under the false narrative that the children of drug addicts have no hope and that drug addicts themselves have no chance at recovery. This is far from the truth.

For many addicts, becoming pregnant actually saves them from their addiction, as they feel a new sense of responsibility and purpose in life.

Leilani is one woman who discovered she was pregnant while she was homeless, addicted to drugs, and had already been in jail for stealing. She chose life for her baby and for herself with the help of Ventura County Pregnancy Center. She was able to continue her education, find a job, and be the mother she wanted to be, all because she said yes to life and had the support to do so. Another drug addict, Kailee, was dating and living with her dealer when she learned she was pregnant. He and her stepfather both wanted her to abort, but she knew she wanted her baby. Still, they told her she “would be doing [her] baby a favor” with abortion, and that taking her child’s life “would be the best thing for me.” They told her she would be a terrible mother. But a pregnancy center helped her choose life and Kailee was able to go to rehab. Her baby’s father also quit drugs and got a job. The two married and have since had two more children.

As for Amoretti, she and her boyfriend also overcame addiction and welcomed a baby boy. They work hard to stay sober for his sake. Amoretti says that together they are “sober, stronger, and happy as can be.”

“The odds were fully stacked against us,” she said, “but we both stayed sober and in a mountain of grief and chaos we brought light into the world.”

Babies are a light in the world and a miracle in the darkness of addiction.

Author’s Note: If you are pregnant and living with addiction, contact OptionLine for help in your local area. 

Supreme Court once again hears why Little Sisters of the Poor don’t want to fund contraceptives

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Today, the Little Sisters of the Poor, pro-life nuns who care for the elderly, are once again part of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Their goal is to stop the government from forcing the Catholic community to participate in the provision of contraceptives and life-ending drugs to their employees.

The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments at 10:00 a.m. EST. Given the coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, everything is set to take place remotely by phone.

“The Court will provide a live audio feed of the arguments to FOX News (the network pool chair), the Associated Press, and C-SPAN, and they will in turn provide a simultaneous feed for the oral arguments to livestream on various media platforms,” the Supreme Court announced.

Preceding the oral arguments, there was a “virtual” rally to support the Little Sisters of the Poor. “Leaders from around the country will offer messages of support for the Little Sisters of the Poor as they head (virtually) to the Supreme Court,” the organizers stated.

The rally closed with a rosary prayed by different religious communities.

The Obama administration had first mandated employers to participate in or help facilitate the provision of contraceptives, as well as abortifacient drugs, to their employees. The Little Sisters of the Poor refused to go along with the new policy, as did Hobby Lobby and other religious entities.

If the Little Sisters of the Poor – pro-life Catholic nuns – were forced to provide contraceptive and life-ending drugs and devices, they would explicitly contradict their mission of respecting the dignity of every human life.

On October 6, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services came out with an updated, broad religious exemption protecting communities like the Little Sisters of the Poor from having to provide goods and services that would violate their conscience.

Thus, the Trump administration admitted that the federal government broke the law by trying to force the Little Sisters and others to provide services like the week-after-pill in their health plans that violated their religious beliefs.

Nevertheless, the state of Pennsylvania went on to sue the federal government, arguing the religious exemption should be removed.

“Pennsylvania admits that it already has and already uses many government programs to provide contraceptives to women who need them,” wrote Becket Law, the religious liberty law firm representing the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“Pennsylvania never challenged the Obama Administration for creating much larger exceptions for secular corporations – exceptions that covered tens of millions more people than the religious exemption,” Becket pointed out. “Pennsylvania does not even have its own contraceptive mandate at all. And Pennsylvania’s lawsuit does not identify a single real person who previously had contraceptive coverage but will lose it because of the new Rule.”

If Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, prevails before the Supreme Court, and the sisters refuse to comply, they would be forced to pay millions of dollars in fines.

Beginning in November 2017, Becket intervened on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor in California and Pennsylvania, working its way through the court system.

Countless groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus, as well as many legislators, have filed amicus curiae briefs, supporting the Catholic nuns in their fight.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg phoned into oral arguments from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where the 87-year-old underwent “non-surgical treatment for acute cholecystitis, a benign gallbladder condition” on May 5, according to the Court.

New report reveals Catholic Relief Services promoted sex ed and contraception

By Michael Hichborn

BALTIMORE, Maryland, May 4, 2020 (Lepanto Institute) — A sixth investigative report on Catholic Relief Services projects, published by the Lepanto Institute, shows that CRS both implemented and promoted comprehensive sexual education curriculums that include pornographic images and the promotion of contraception.

The first curriculum profiled by the Lepanto Institute, called Go Girls!, was linked to directly by a CRS copyrighted document about its DREAMS/4Children project in Lesotho titled, “TWO PLUS TWO EQUALS TEN.” The CRS-produced document says that the Go Girls! curriculum was adapted for use by CRS Lesotho, and a footnote referencing the curriculum provided a link directly to it.

“The Go Girls! curriculum not only pushes contraception and promotes masturbation, but has a pornographic illustration that actually demonstrates the genital use of a condom,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute. “Why on Earth would someone at CRS ever think this curriculum would be acceptable on any level? The leadership at CRS needs to ask why a morally acceptable curriculum wasn’t used, because CRS paid for this immoral curriculum and provided it to a vulnerable community.”

The Lepanto Institute’s report also showed that CRS had implemented a curriculum called Aflateen, and maintains a close relationship with Aflateen’s parent company, Aflatoun. Not only does the Aflateen curriculum clearly promotes the use of contraception, but Aflatoun publicly signed a statement announcing its support for the abortion-funding initiative called “She Decides.” But despite this, CRS has been found to be promoting the curriculum to other agencies.

“Curriculums like this have to be paid for when they are implemented, which means that even if CRS claims to have implemented a sanitized version of them, they still paid for them,” said Hichborn. “These curriculums might as well have been created by Planned Parenthood; would CRS purchase curriculums from Planned Parenthood with the intention of using only the morally acceptable portions? If the answer is no, then CRS is guilty by purchasing and distributing these curriculums.”

The report can be viewed at the link, here: https://www.lepantoin.org/pornographic-contraception-promoting-curriculums-used-by-catholic-relief-services/

“For the last two months, we have been issuing heavily documented proof that there are serious problems with Catholic Relief Services projects, and despite an initial promise to investigate and respond, CRS has yet to address a single concern,” Hichborn added. “It is for this reason that we continue to call upon the bishops of the United States to conduct an independent, third-party investigation of CRS, and to withhold their support for the agency until such an investigation is convened.”

A petition asking bishops to conduct an investigation of CRS can be found here: https://lifepetitions.com/petition/stop-catholic-relief-services-condom-promotion-now

Published with permission from the Lepanto Institute.

UK judge orders woman with disability be forced to use long-term birth control

 

A woman living with a disability in the United Kingdom will be forced to receive a long-term contraceptive implant against her will, thanks to a court ruling from a judge.

According to Metro, the woman, who was not named, is in her late twenties and has had children before, all of whom were taken away from her and placed into child protective services. She is currently pregnant and did not want to receive an implanted birth control device.

The woman arrived to testify on her own behalf for the Court of Protection and explained that she was willing to use birth control — specifically, the birth control shot, which lasts for three months at a time. “It’s my body and it’s my life,” she said. “I should have the choice on what I want.” Yet Justice Gwynneth Knowles disagreed, and ruled that when the woman undergoes a c-section, the implant should be put in anyway. Knowles said that she lacks the mental capacity to make the decision for herself.

In addition to ignoring the woman’s willingness to use birth control, Knowles’ justification for her decision highlights an inherent problem in her logic. If the woman in question is not capable of making the decision for herself on what kind of birth control to use, then she does not have the ability to consent to sex, meaning that every sexual encounter she has had has been rape. Yet it doesn’t seem that there is much concern for finding the men assaulting her — as long as she isn’t getting pregnant, it doesn’t seem to matter. On top of that, the issue also seems to be that she’s having children, raising the question of how Knowles would have responded if the woman was having multiple abortions, rather than giving birth to living children. Would she be considered capable if that were the case? There are also alternatives to forcing her to be on a method of birth control she does not want, like providing her with liaisons or aides to ensure her safety.

People with disabilities are routinely mistreated in the United Kingdom. It’s far from the first time that someone with a disability has been forced onto birth control there, and around the world, forced sterilization, abortions, and birth control for people with disabilities are common, both throughout recent history and in the present day. Even a Paralympian felt compelled to speak out after she was pressured to have an abortion because of her disability. The country’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has found “deeply concerning” evidence that people with disabilities there routinely face abuse, mistreatment, bullying, and exclusion. And yet, when these people come forward to report the abuse they face, authorities don’t believe them. Doctors in the United Kingdom have also been known to issue DNRs for people with intellectual disabilities — without their or their families’ knowledge or consent. Other families report receiving substandard health care for their loved ones with a disability.

This kind of decision should be troubling for all people because ultimately, it sets a disturbing precedent: that at any time, a judge can decide that someone isn’t capable of making decisions for themselves, and thereby be forced into birth control, abortion, or sterilization. Yet what makes this worst of all is that because cases like these involve people with disabilities, next to no one will step forward and say that this is wrong.

Why pro-lifers should question the agenda of the World Health Organization

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) proved itself to be an advocate for abortion and sexual liberation after it declared abortion to be an essential service during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Health officials with the organization said the possibility of a woman being infected with the virus should not impede her ability to access abortion, and if she lives in a state with restricted access to abortion, the woman should seek an at-home, do-it-yourself abortion. This is not only dangerous, but it exposes the radical agenda behind a group that is supposed to prioritize the health and well-being of individuals.

WHO has partnered with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in the past to promote abortion and various sexual practices. This collaboration has included promoting the idea that programs geared towards encouraging sexual abstinence are harmful to “young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.” WHO and IPPF’s programs encourage impressionable youth from 9-12 years of age to masturbate in private, discourage teenagers from 15-18 years of age from holding their parents’ views on sex, and teach kids from ages 12-15 how to derive pleasure from sexual acts without risking pregnancy.

But these combined efforts to enforce comprehensive sex education also include educating adolescent girls about ‘abortion rights’, as well as information about using emergency contraception. While advocates for Plan B, Ella, and the Morning After Pill insist these pills merely prevent pregnancy without acting as abortifacients, this is misleading. In an effort to capitalize on the normalization of hormonal birth control, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) altered the definition of conception.

Instead of life being recognized as beginning at fertilization, in 1965, the ACOG contended that it began at implantation, which enabled the marketers of emergency contraception to claim that it did not cause abortions. But in altering the lining of a woman’s uterus, emergency contraceptives like Ella or Plan B can create a hostile environment for a developing embryo, preventing as a secondary action the implantation of the new life that has already begun. While the Morning After Pill may not always induce an abortion, it can function in this way if ovulation is not prevented.

Another reason to be concerned about WHO’s agenda is that hormonal birth control and emergency contraception can dramatically alter women’s bodies. It’s especially concerning when hormonal contraceptives like this are promoted to young girls, as they can not only change their reproductive systems in unhealthy ways, but in the case of emergency contraception, a woman may find herself at an increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy.

Recently, President Donald Trump’s administration announced that funds originally directed towards WHO would instead be directed to the Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse in order to combat COVID-19. This comes at a time when, based on WHO recommendations, the United Nations has attempted to push a $2 billion spending plan for the virus that includes funding for abortions.

Pro-Life Feminist documentary now available to watch free online

  

The documentary “Pro-Life Feminist,” originally released in 2018, was recently made viewable for free online via YouTube.

Aimee Murphy, founder of Rehumanize International, a nonprofit best known for its “consistent life ethic” approach, opens the film commenting on an unfortunate contradiction in the modern-day feminist movement. “There are some who say that equality for the preborn is contrary to the liberation of women. You know, that perspective is really pitting women against their children.” She also notes in the film, “Feminism is about human equality. You can’t just leave some humans out.”

 

Viewers also meet Christina Marie Bennett, a writer for Live Action News who worked for years at a Connecticut pregnancy center and now works for Family Institute of Connecticut. She too understands the abortion issue as part of a larger framework – the struggle for human rights for all humans. “I’m not ok with injustice in any way, shape, or form…and so I came to this realization that I am a feminist. And it’s okay. It’s okay, because I am going to redefine [feminism]. To think that, because we value the littlest women of all, just as much as any other woman at any other stage in her life, means that we are against womanhood, or that we are disconnected to the reality of the pains and struggle and trauma associated with being a woman…are not we women? Do we not hurt and ache in the same way?”

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is also featured in Pro-Life Feminist. She founded New Wave Feminists because of her son, whom she had at 16. The organization received significant media attention due to its inclusion in and then subsequent exclusion from the Women’s March on Washington in 2017 because of its pro-life position. From her perspective, “The pro-life side, a lot of times, they see one person, they see the unborn child. And the feminist person, they see one person. The woman. But pro-life feminists see two people. We want to protect two people.”

Aimee, Christina, and Destiny’s pro-life feminist stories make clear that the old stereotype of pro-lifers as a bunch of old white men imposing their religious beliefs on women’s uteruses is just as much a relic of the past as the chilling accusation from the Roe v. Wade audio recordings that opponents of abortion want to “force” women to continue pregnancies. On the contrary, far from “forcing” anything on anyone, these three women seek justice, freedom, and equality for all. And they’re shaking up both the pro-life and feminist movements in the process.

Abortion pill reversal saved her baby. Now she’s pro-life

By Katie Franklin

April 23, 2020 (Pregnancy Help News) — Rita and her fiancé were in the midst of a three-hour car drive home when she began hemorrhaging. She was eight weeks pregnant and had just left an abortion facility where she had begun a chemical abortion.

As Rita would later recall, she was bleeding “so severely it was dripping like a faucet that wouldn’t turn off.”

Rita’s fiancé rushed her to the hospital where she was given a blood transfusion and monitored for the next three days.

“I was in so much pain it felt like I was being ripped apart internally!” she said.

Despite the terror of those few days at the hospital, Rita discovered something that would bring her immense happiness: She was still pregnant and her baby still had a heartbeat.

With that news, Rita was able to find a life-saving treatment known as abortion pill reversal. To Rita’s joy, it worked.

Now, nearly two years after that fateful day on the road, Rita is the mother to a happy one-year-old boy.

“He’s 15 months old now and is the sweetest, happiest and most beautiful little boy I have ever laid my eyes on!” she wrote on a Facebook post made by pro-life advocate Laura Klassen. “God was truly with me, and now I see why, my son’s my biggest blessing.”

So impactful was the experience on Rita’s life that today she is outspokenly pro-life.

According to a message she sent to Klassen, that wasn’t always the case.

Rita explained that she grew up believing that abortion was a “choice” and that an unborn child in the womb wasn’t a human life. Her own mother had two abortions.

But because of the transformative experience of saving her baby, Rita was able to help her mother become pro-life, as well.

“I should have never been able to take my son’s life,” Rita wrote to Klassen. “And seeing him here today is such a blessing! He’s a radiant soul with a happy, laughing, and smiley energy that radiates a room! He, like all other babies, deserves life!”

That’s exactly what the team at Abortion Pill Rescue is hoping to ensure. The group — a network of more than 800 medical providers run by Heartbeat International — has helped save more than 1,100 from in-progress chemical abortions since it launched more than a decade ago.

“Many women regret their abortions and often that regret sets in right away,” said Christa Brown, director of Medical Impact for Heartbeat International. “Many women contact the APR hotline as soon as they get to their cars in the abortion clinic parking lot. Or, like Rita, regret already begins on their way home from the clinic. The realization sets in that they are ending the life of a child and they want to know if they have options.”

A chemical abortion — often referred to as the “abortion pill” or RU-486 — actually involves two drugs. The first, which Rita took, is mifepristone, a drug that destabilizes the pregnancy by blocking progesterone receptors. The second, typically misoprostol, triggers contractions, forcing the woman’s body to expel her baby in very premature labor, often at home.

If a woman changes her mind after taking the first drug, she may be able to save her baby with help from the Abortion Pill Rescue Network. By calling the 24/7 helpline (877-558-0333), she is connected with a local medical provider who offers the treatment.

Brown says that even in seemingly dire cases — like Rita’s — babies have been rescued.

“Many assume that some bleeding after taking mifepristone means it’s too late to save the baby,” Brown said. “But that isn’t necessarily true.”

She said that mifepristone is known to cause fever, heavy bleeding, abdominal pain and nausea.

“The FDA states that cramping and vaginal bleeding are expected with mifepristone and warns that one in one hundred women who have taken just the mifepristone will have bleeding so heavy they will require a surgical procedure to stop it,” she said.

When combined with the second drug, misoprostol, the effects of a chemical abortion are more alarming still.

“I’m very concerned about the abortion pill because aside from the fact that it’s killing babies, it’s being marketed heavily to young women as ‘easy’, and ‘safe’, and that you can ‘do it in the comfort of your own home,’” Laura Klassen told Pregnancy Help News in an email. “But I am hearing the horror stories regularly.”

Some of those she posted recently on Facebook.

“What I have come to find is that the RU-486 pill is much more bloody and painful than the abortion industry portrays it,” Klassen said. “What I am hearing is that women are often sent to the hospital during the process because of hemorrhaging, or else they’re having to go weeks later to have surgery because parts were left inside.”

Brown says the Abortion Pill Rescue Network hears similar accounts.

“The medical staff of APR hear from women who are scared, alone and bleeding heavily,” she said. “Because chemical abortion is often advertised as ‘inducing a period,’ and because abortion providers often describe the bleeding as spotting, many women are shocked by the amount of pain and bleeding the abortion pill causes.”

Yet if a woman contacts the Abortion Pill Rescue hotline soon enough after taking the first drug, she may not suffer the same experience.

In cases where an ultrasound can still detect a baby’s heartbeat — even a faint one — the abortion pill reversal treatment can begin. To initiate that process, a medical provider prescribes bioidentical progesterone, such as Prometrium, to the pregnant woman. The hope is that by flooding her body with progesterone, they can restabilize the pregnancy.

“It works to outnumber and outcompete the mifepristone for those receptor sites in the uterus and placenta and is successful about 68 percent of the time,” Brown said, referring to a study by physician George Delgado, one of the founders of the Abortion Pill Rescue Network.

With more and more babies being rescued by the treatment, Brown says the protocol is an important form of empowerment for women.

“APR empowers women with real choice,” Brown said. “No woman should ever feel pressure to complete a medical procedure she no longer desires.”

Published with permission from Pregnancy Help News.

‘Petition on Hormonal Contraceptives’: The Real Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

By 

Breast cancer. Cervical cancer. Depression. Mood disorders. Suicide. Multiple sclerosis. Ulcerative colitis. Venous thromboembolism. Inflammatory bowel disease. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Cystitis. Crohn’s disease. Urogenital effects. Cardiovascular events. Increased chance of HIV transmission.

Your doctor rattled off those words like he was calling roll in a classroom. But each one made you cringe a little more than the last. You could feel your eyes widening as the list grew. Side effects—for a drug you don’t even need, for a drug not designed to alleviate a sickness. You look at him dubiously, as if maybe he’s joking. These can’t all be side effects from one drug, you think. But the look on his face tells you that he is not joking. In fact, he is very serious. And luckily for you, he cares enough about you to tell you what could happen if he prescribes the drug you’re asking for. You start to think to yourself: I don’t want to do that to my bodyI value my health too much. I respect my body more than that.

You wonder why you never heard any of this before, and you realize you’re going to have to rethink your desire for hormonal birth control.

The Petition

In June 2019, 10 doctors and researchers who had formed a Contraceptive Study Group published a document entitled Petition on Hormonal Contraceptives. This document evaluated existing literature and synthesized studies on hormonal birth control in order to present information on their side effects in one comprehensive document. The Contraceptive Study Group’s goal was to not only warn potential users, but also to petition the government to add black box—or warning—labels onto the boxes of contraception and to include warnings on patient-related information so that women know and understand the risks of the chemicals they put into their bodies. This article serves as an overview of just some of the major findings and of the information this group desperately wants to put forward for all to know.

The members of the Contraceptive Study Group understand the damage hormonal contraceptives do to women, to the babies they may carry, and to the families who love them. That is why they undertook the daunting task of reading, interpreting, compiling, and then disseminating the information they found. In all, this petition cites 230 outside sources—not counting those related to the environmental impact. This petition was not only a labor of love and compassion for their fellow human beings but also serves as a wake-up call to people who unknowingly—or knowingly—ingest these harmful chemicals.

Millions of women take hormonal birth control or receive contraceptive injections without any idea about the poison they’re putting into their bodies. According to the petition, “Based on data from the Guttmacher Institute, a conservative estimate of 11 million women aged 15-44 in the US take some form of hormonal contraceptive each day. A 2015 study reports that about 21 percent of women of reproductive years are using some form of hormonal contraceptive, which equates to about 13 million women (Daniels 2015).”

In addition, millions of babies die when these contraceptives thin the lining of the uterine wall, thus preventing the baby from implanting.

Hormonal contraceptives have been on the market for over 50 years, yet the scope of the devastation and health ramifications they have caused can never be known. Some women don’t even realize that the causes of the health problems they face may be contraception. If this petition succeeds in its intent, pharmaceutical companies will have to disclose these side effects.

product liability word cloud

The petition begins by listing the side effects of combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives (COCs). Many are mentioned in the first paragraph above. COCs include oral, intravaginal, and transdermal formulations. The petition lists the brand names of all of these—in six pages.

According to the team, progestogen-only contraceptives (POCs) “have not been extensively studied, but one large registry study did show a significantly increased risk of breast cancer with use of POCs.”

Furthermore, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies COCs as Group I carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer in humans.

Recommendations

The petition recommends that the government “remove from the market the injectable contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA; Depo-Provera) based on conclusive evidence that it facilitates the transmission of HIV from men to women.” It then recommends that black box warnings should be added for the following diseases and conditions: breast cancer, cervical cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, depression and suicide, venous thrombosis, and cardiovascular events. In addition, safety information should be added to advertisements and patient-related materials about multiple sclerosis, bone fractures, body mass effects, and urogenital problems.

Countless women suffer the side effects of hormonal contraception. Countless women feel duped by healthcare providers, by pharmaceutical companies, and by organizations that tout the benefits of COCs. Rarely do they hear of these side effects—side effects that can appear after long-term use, after a few months, or even after just a few short weeks.

In conjunction with the petition, the public is asked to post comments or stories to this site in order to encourage the government to add warnings to contraceptive labels. Many of these comments reference tragic and heartbreaking stories of loss—loss of life, loss of health, and loss of autonomy.

You might wonder why many physicians don’t warn their patients about these side effects.  Dr. Ken Stone offers some insight:

It is common practice that physicians do not discuss any significant adverse effects of oral contraceptives or require an informed consent. Some colleagues have said to me that they do not want to say anything that would deter them from using the pill. Standard adverse effects in formularies for prescribed contraceptive medicines usually do not mention the most severe ones like pulmonary embolus, stroke, breast cancer, liver disease, etc.

This petition for removing certain contraceptives from the market, listing those adverse effects that should have black box warnings in prescribed contraceptives, and those that need additional safety warnings in prescribed contraceptives provide[s] more than adequate research data to require the actions requested. As a family practice physician for the past 41 years, I believe the scandal of not informing women of the known side effects of contraceptives is an egregious injustice and needs immediate correction.

The members of the Contraceptive Study Group believe that the public should know the truth. Throughout the next several pages, we will discuss some of the findings and data they presented regarding many of the major side effects of hormonal contraception. To read the petition in its entirety, and to see the comprehensive list of side effects, visit the petition’s site.

HIV Transmission

Depo-Provera, or DMPA, is an injectable contraceptive that is administered quarterly. However, according to the study group: “Evidence began emerging in the 1990s, which has become compelling in recent years, that DMPA is unique among contraceptives in its property of facilitating the transmission of HIV.”

How is this so?

According to research, DMPA has an immunosuppressant quality. It binds to the glucocorticoid receptor of human leukocytes, which, in layman’s terms, means that it represses the woman’s innate immune responses and allows for an increase in HIV replication. Thus, when an infected man has intercourse with a woman taking DMPA, her compromised immune system cannot fight off the disease.

Because of this, the authors want DMPA taken off the market.

Breast Cancer

According to the petition, there are 1.7 million cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year. It is the most common form of cancer among women in developed countries and accounts for 20% of cancers in females.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies COCs as Group 1 carcinogens. That means they can cause cancer in human beings. Studies have long shown the link between breast cancer and COCs. The New England Journal of Medicine published an article in 2006 that found that COCs increase the risk of breast cancer. That same year, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (a medical journal sponsored by the Mayo Clinic) published a meta-analysis that confirmed the findings that COCs increase the risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

woman about to take birth control pill

According to the Contraceptive Study Group, “Studies that looked at recent use (within 1–5 years) or current use of COCs in premenopausal women showed the most dramatic increased risk for breast cancer.” The most significant study found that women between the ages of 20-49 who had used COCs “within a year had an increased risk of breast cancer.”

Other studies corroborate these findings as well. Most found that women who used COCs for a year or more had a higher risk of breast cancer. A Danish study found that a woman’s risks increased even after she discontinued use if she had used COCs for five or more years.

The comments site offers many stories from women who have suffered from breast cancer and from the doctors who have treated them. Included among them are these:

Anthony Vigil, MD, FACS, says:

As a general surgeon, me and my partners ask our breast cancer patients about OCP [oral contraceptive pills] use since our best cancer textbooks describe an increased risk of breast cancer with OCP use. It is ethically imperative that women are made aware of the risks of ingesting hormones into their bodies.

Anna Poynter says:

At age 31, I found a small breast lump. I went to more than one doctor, but the last one I saw was the head of the UCSD Cancer Institute, a Dr. Barone, in San Diego, where I lived at the time. He told me that it was small, movable and I didn’t have any pain but that I should GET OFF THE PILL. 19 years later that very same lump grew and became malignant, and I ended up having a mastectomy.

An anonymous writer says: “Recently diagnosed with breast cancer; I was on the pill for 10 years.”

The authors recommend that a black box warning be included with COCs, along with warnings on patient-related materials, so that women understand the risks they face.

Cervical Cancer

According to the petition, approximately 260,000 women in the United States have cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society claims that there will be about 14,000 new cases this year alone. Research has shown that there is an increased risk of cervical cancer associated with COCs and that the risk increases for women currently taking hormonal birth control. In addition, the risk increases with the length of time the woman has taken the COCs.

The risk also increases if the woman has tested positive for HPV—the human papilloma virus.

The authors recommend both a black box warning and a warning on patient-related materials.

Depression, Mood Disorders, Suicide

 According to the study group, “The largest study of incident depression and use of anti-depressant medication (Skovlund 2016) indicates significantly increased risks for both COCs and POCs for both outcomes. The same group studied for suicide attempts and suicides (Skovlund 2018). Elevated risks were seen, and this was the case for both COCs and POCs. The recent NCHA study (Gregory 2018) showed a similar trend.”

The authors claim that their research has shown an “increased risk for depression, suicide risk, and suicide within 3 months of beginning to use the drugs and tapering off after 6 months, partly due to attenuation of symptoms, partly due to discontinuation due to adverse effects.”

depressed woman

The comments section of the website paints a dismal picture and offers evidence that these hormones cause new mental health problems and exacerbate existing or latent ones.

Julie Baltz, a family practice clinician who has practiced medicine for over 20 years, states that she has seen the psychological harm caused by hormonal contraceptives. She wrote:

Even more subtle and more underreported are the psychological effects. These patients simply state “I didn’t feel right” and often think that there something wrong with them that they don’t tolerate this type of medication. I’ve seen insomnia, anxiety, depression, anhedonia, anorexia, and poor libido directly improved within my clinical office by discontinuing a combined OCP.

Another person, known only as TF, wrote in to say:

In 2011 I was prescribed hormonal birth control to “fix” a very irregular cycle. Three months later I started to struggle with crippling fatigue, loss of appetite and disinterest in everything except sleeping. I was shortly after that diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and still to this day have to be on medication to remain functional. I still struggle with my energy levels, unfortunately medication can’t cure depression and make it disappear. My doctor and I both believe that the hormonal birth control was likely a trigger to a predisposition for Major Depressive Disorder.

A woman who wishes to remain anonymous stated:

In my early twenties I was prescribed birth control pills. The first cycle I took the pills as prescribed. I began to feel depressed, anxious, crying daily, with mood swings. Prior to beginning the oral contraceptive pills, I had none of these symptoms. After completing the first 2 weeks of the medication packet, I called the nurse practitioner at the OB/GYN clinic that I originally got the prescription. She told me that the changes in my mood, depression, and anxiety among others, could not be due to the new medication, that it must have just been life. She changed me to a lower dose contraceptive pill. After three weeks of taking the second prescription pack as directed I decided to discontinue use of oral contraceptives due to the side effects. I had gained 15 pounds and felt terrible.

The site is filled with story after story of people who have suffered—mentally and physically—because of these drugs. The authors want a black box warning about this side effect and warnings on patient-related materials.

Body Mass

While studies have varied regarding weight increase in women who use COCs, the strongest data found that levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs do, in fact, affect body mass. The authors stated that “a significant increase in % fat mass with a corresponding decrease in % lean body mass was observed in both studies where these were measured.”

Women have found this side effect all too real. For example, a woman who wishes to be anonymous said:

When I was taking hormonal birth control (HBC) I underwent a massive weight gain. From 120 lbs. to 155 lbs. That’s almost adding 30% to my body weight! I also suffered with severe stomach cramping, constant discomfort, constipation and diarrhea. My doctor diagnosed it at IBS. I was only on HBC for 8 months and got pregnant while taking it. I stopped taking it upon pregnancy and have never touched the stuff again!

The authors believe that all patient-related materials and advertising (print, radio, etc.) should convey information about this risk to the consumer.

woman standing on scale

Urogenital (Urinary and Genital) Effects

The authors found evidence of several different kinds of urogenital problems in women. These include interstitial cystitis (a condition that causes bladder pain and pressure), bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, vulvovaginal candidiasis, vaginal dryness, female sexual dysfunction, and more. They state that the risk increases for adolescents and if the woman uses COCs for at least two years.

A woman who wishes to remain anonymous experienced a whole host of problems, including urogenital. She said:

I was put on birth control by my parents when I was only 15 years old after a sexual assault incident. I then continued it for another 5 years before I began to question it. In that time frame I experienced extreme weight gain and loss from one pill to another, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder because of my manic depression and severe mood swings (I am not bipolar), experienced a miscarriage, developed cysts in my breasts, had continuous pregnancy symptoms (including morning sickness every day), and had frequent UTIs and yeast infections. No one ever associated any of my problems, other than the breast cysts, to my birth control pills. It wasn’t until I discontinued the use once learning of the cysts that I began to feel normal and realized the association between my symptoms and the pill.

The authors believe that all patient-related materials and advertising (print, radio, etc.) should convey information about this risk to the consumer.

Venous Thromboembolism, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Events

 Venous Thromboembolism

A venous thromboembolism (or VTE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein, most often in the leg, arm, or groin, and then lodges itself in the lung. This is an extremely dangerous health problem that can cause death. Even the American Heart Association website agrees that COCs can cause a VTE: “In women, pregnancy and the use of hormones like oral contraceptives or estrogen for menopause symptoms can also play a role.”

The comments regarding this side effect address the tragedies that have befallen women and families as a result of hormonal birth control. For example, Carol Pepin wrote about the loss of her daughter:

My 19-year-old daughter Shelby Pepin . . . died. Shelby was very athletic, did not smoke, and had no history of a blood disorder. The coroner’s report confirmed that Shelby had died from a pulmonary embolism. She had a DVT [deep vein thrombosis] behind her left knee that traveled to her lungs causing her bilateral embolism. The coroner also confirmed that her DVT was caused by her birth control the NuvaRing. Shelby had been on the NuvaRing for 18 months.

Joseph West has a similar story:

Our daughter died at age 29 in the Intensive Care Unit of her local hospital where she had been transferred after presenting herself at her local walk-in clinic. Her death was five weeks to the day after getting married and one day before [her] scheduled departure on a delayed honeymoon cruise. The autopsy report stated that she had “bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli” with a thrombus present in the left popliteal fossa. She had been using NuvaRing at the time of her death [which] had been removed at the walk-in clinic prior to transport to the hospital. . . . The [ICU] doctor stated that she believes that hormonal birth control was a significant contributor to the death of our daughter.

Kimberly Phipps-Nichol shared her personal story of survival:

Last year, at the age of 46, I was hospitalized with a cerebral thrombosis that was literally caught right before causing a stroke. The ER docs told me that if it had not been for the fact that the people I was with at the time of the event were trained to recognize the signs of stroke and called 911 for a stroke paramedic unit that arrived quickly, I would have been somewhere between a vegetative state and severely disabled. After countless CT scans and MRIs, along with a thorough study of my family history, the neurologist and hematologist teams determined it was the oral contraceptives that I was taking that had caused the thrombosis.

Diagram of thrombosis blood clotting

Diagram of thrombosis

An anonymous family physician claims to have seen the negative side effects of contraceptives firsthand and tells of several cases, including her treatment of a young woman in her late 20s who went into a coma brought on by a pulmonary embolism. The only known risk factor was that this woman was taking hormonal birth control. In addition, a medical colleague of this doctor suffered a pulmonary embolism that was attributed to OCP.

Nancy Brockoff wrote to say that she had four friends, who were all young mothers, who died of blood clots related to hormonal birth control.

Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries caused by plaque. Arteries clogged with plaque lead to heart problems. Even as long ago as 1982, researchers understood and took interest in the fact that vascular disease and COCs were linked. According to the petition, these researchers “found that combination oral contraceptives (COCs) caused ‘greater cell proliferation and incorporation . . . in both human arterial smooth muscle cells and dermal fibroblasts.’ Smooth muscle cell proliferation is an integral feature of all atherosclerotic lesions (Bagdade 1982). In 2007, a presentation at the American Heart Association meeting described a study of 1,301 Belgian women, which showed that women had a 20 to 30 percent increase of plaque for every decade on COCs (Rietzschel 2007).”

Furthermore, the Danish Heart Association “released the results of a 15-year historic cohort study looking at thrombotic stroke and myocardial infarction, which observed over 1.6 million women. The results demonstrated that women taking COCs with ethinyl estradiol at a dose of 20 [micrograms] had a risk of arterial thrombosis that was 0.9 to 1.7 times higher than non-users, while those taking a dose of 30 to 40 [micrograms] had a 1.3 to 2.3 higher risk” (Lidegaard 2012).

The current black box warning about thrombotic events mentions smoking and age, which the authors believe misleads the consumer into thinking she’s safe if she doesn’t smoke or if she’s younger than 35. They want the warning amended to read: “Warning: Increased risk of serious cardiovascular events including blood clots.” Additionally, they request warnings on all advertising and patient-related materials.

Environment

The synthetic hormones that women take are continually released from their bodies through their waste products. When researchers noticed changes in the aquatic environment—especially in fish—they began conducting studies to determine the cause of these changes. What they found astounded them.

The Contraceptive Study Group explained:

EE2 [the synthetic estrogen ethinylestradiol] is metabolized in the liver undergoing first pass metabolism, but ~6% of the administered dose appears as untransformed EE2 in the urine and ~9% in the feces (Stanczyk 2013)….Even at low concentrations, these compounds can act as potent endocrine disruptors, affecting the growth, development, and reproduction of exposed aquatic organisms (Tyler 1998, Larsson 1999).

While wastewater treatment plants have the ability to filter out many chemicals and pollutants, they cannot filter out EE2.

Studies have found that these synthetic chemicals cause changes in male fish. A 1995 paper found that male fish in nearly 30 rivers throughout Britain had become “feminized” by these pollutants.

The Contraceptive Study Group also referenced a seven-year long study of the effects of EE2 on Canadian lakes. In that study, researchers approximated the amount of EE2 that would reach the waterways from a town of 200,000 people. They immediately saw the feminization and transgendering of male fish and a “near extinction” of the population of the fathead minnow there. Once the researchers stopped adding EE2 to the water, the population of minnows returned to normal.

We find further evidence in a study that looked at the fish populations near three Colorado sewage treatment plants. There, researchers found a significant difference between the fish upstream of the plant and those downstream. They stated:

The fish in the upstream locations enjoyed a balanced 1:1 female-to-male sex ratio. Downstream there were five female fish for every one male, and twenty percent of the reduced male population demonstrated intersex characteristics, such as eggs in their testes and the presence of vitellogenin, an egg yolk protein normally found only in fertile females. The consequences also appeared to ascend up the food chain in a measurable way, specifically with the feminization of trout, mink frogs and green frogs (Parke 2009). Both the predicted and the measured concentrations of EE2 in the US, including effluent of waste water treatment plants, surface water, or ground water, exceeds the predicted no-effect concentrations on fish populations (Kostich 2013).

fish under water

Conclusion

In addition to these diseases and the pollution in the environment, the economic costs from these side effects and their resultant diseases/health problems to the patient and to the community are in the billions.

This article touched upon some of the most egregious side effects. To read the full list of side effects and the studies referenced, to read all of the comments, or to add your own comment, visit regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2019-P-2289-0001.

This health crisis affects us all. Whether you are male or female, elderly, middle aged, young, a mother, or a father, hormonal birth control does affect your life in some way because these hormones affect your wives, your mothers, your sisters, your cousins, your best friends, the environment, and even your dinner table. It’s time to speak up and tell the government that women must know the truth. It’s time to help women understand that their health is more important than a drug that can alter their body and mind. Synthetic hormones and their deleterious effects leave a lasting impact and crush our society.

While Africa asks for ventilators and PPE during COVID-19, groups send abortion kits instead

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The BBC recently reported that African countries do not have enough ventilators to treat people affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The World Health Organization’s Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, stated that “the issue of ventilators is one of the biggest challenges that the countries are facing.” Other concerns include limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lack of access to soap and clean water. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough supplies for every country in the continent, as the Associated Press detailed how one major shipment included “more than 400 ventilators… for sharing among all 54 countries.”

So how did the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) respond to the crisis African people are facing? While they created a $2 million aid plan, the money is not going towards these urgent medical needs. Instead, Sida plans to use the $2 million to fund abortion kits for the continent.

“Our program is especially important for vulnerable women and girls in the region. We need to address the effects of COVID-19 quickly to have their human rights safeguarded, so they are able to decide for themselves when and with whom they will have children,” Sida Director General Carin Jämti.

Sida will send funding to DKT International, an organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that provides products such as manual vacuum aspiration kits and abortion drug kits. On its webpage, DKT boasts that about 8 million pregnancies have been “averted” because of its services. The kits Sida obtains from DKT International are to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda.

 

The agency will also allocate funds towards the education of local health care workers, community leaders, and individuals. Instead of providing African countries with the equipment necessary for saving lives, Sida is focused on promoting a radical abortion agenda.

Pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha has spoken extensively about this attempt by Western societies to force abortion and contraception into African culture. According to Ekeocha, the beliefs of most African women do not align with the radical views pro-abortion groups are trying to push on them.

“I don’t know many African women who would choose contraception over everything else,” Ekeocha said in a statement printed at Catholic Digest. “Africans cherish babies and celebrate motherhood even in the midst of poverty.”

Ekeocha has detailed how pro-choice organizations sneak their agenda into Africa under the guise of philanthropic work. While their intention is to push young girls to have abortions and take contraceptives, Ekeocha says these groups disguise their goal by claiming their actions are part of a “maternal mortality reduction” program.

Now, as Africa is suffering in the midst of COVID-19 due to a lack of medical equipment, Sida — through DKT International — is attempting to do the same thing. Despite claims that abortion is necessary healthcare, more than 30,000 American doctors have refuted this point, calling it “medically irresponsible” to allow such procedures to continue during a global pandemic.

Instead of saving lives, groups like Sida are dedicating funds towards ending them.

Pro-Life Leaders Call for Coronavirus Vaccine Without Abortion Ties

Catholic News Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Development of an effective, safe and widely available vaccine for the novel coronavirus is deeply important, but its development should avoid unethical links to abortion, said pro-life leaders in a letter to the Trump administration.

“It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience,” said the April 17 letter to Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines,” it continued.

The letter’s signers include Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities; the heads of three other bishops’ conference committees; and leaders of many other Catholic and non-Catholic groups.

The letter comes after the release of the Trump administration’s gradual three-phase plan to remove restrictions on economic and social life while seeking to contain the coronavirus spread, especially spread to vulnerable populations. A coronavirus vaccine, if effective, could help prevent infection and speed economic recovery.

The letter’s signers “strongly support” vaccine development “as quickly as possible.” At the same time, they urged the federal government to “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

“We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies,” signatories said.

They cited the case of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, which has a “substantial contract” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is working on a vaccine produced using “ethically problematic cell lines.”

The letter encouraged other vaccine development that uses cell lines not linked to these “unethical procedures and methods.” These are in development by companies like Sanofi, Pasteur, and Inovio, they added, while also noting the work of the Iowa-based John Paul II Medical Research Institute.

The letter was copied to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar, II.

Besides Archbishop Naumann, other bishops signing the letter are Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chair of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, chair of the Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues.

Signers include Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Michael Parker, president of the Catholic Medical Association; Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center; Ellen Gianoli, president of the National Association of Catholic Nurses, U.S.A.; Marianne Linane, director of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses; Donna J. Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Michael P. Farris, president, CEO and general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom; Travis S. Weber, vice president for policy and government affairs at the Family Research Council; Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life America; and Lila Rose, president and founder of LiveAction.

Catholic teaching acknowledges the right to well-formed conscientious objection to many legal mandates and medical procedures, while also emphasizing vaccination as a matter of public responsibility.

A 2005 document from the Pontifical Academy for Life considered the moral issues surrounding vaccines prepared in cell lines descended from aborted fetuses. The Vatican group concluded that it is both morally permissible and morally responsible for Catholics to use these vaccines.

The pontifical academy also noted that Catholics have an obligation to use ethically-sourced vaccines when available, and have an obligation to speak up and request the development of new cell lines that are not derived from aborted fetuses.

The 2008 Vatican document Dignitatis Personae strongly criticized aborted fetal tissue research. However, as regards common vaccines, such as those for chicken pox and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), that may be derived from cell lines of aborted babies, the Vatican said they could be used by parents for “grave reasons” such as danger to their children’s health.

In a 2017 document on vaccines, the Pontifical Academy for Life noted a “moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others… especially the safety of more vulnerable subjects such as pregnant women and those affected by immunodeficiency who cannot be vaccinated against these diseases.”

Contraception cut us off from God’s grace. His Divine Mercy restored us

By L.J. Helferty

Editor’s note:  L.J. and Joan Helferty believed they had every good reason to use contraception in their Catholic marriage. But then everything started falling apart. Their story, published exclusively on LifeSiteNews, is one of the best testimonies about the spiritual blindness that follows the sin of contraception and about the mercy of God that follows true repentance. 

April 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Sunday Dec 10, 2000.  About 7:00 a.m.  A cold crisp cloudy Sunday morning.  I was the first one awake and out of bed. That was normal.  I usually stoked the furnace and got our farmhouse warmed up before calling everyone.  Mass was at 9:00.  There would be just enough time to get ready.  We had eleven children, nine at home and two older ones away at post-secondary institutions.

I had slept in this morning.  We had installed a new furnace that weekend and I was exhausted by the time we were finished on Saturday evening.  When I went downstairs into the kitchen on my way outside to the furnace, I noticed a hand-written note on the table, at the place where our 15-year old son Matthew usually sat for family meals.

Curious, I glanced at the first line.

“By the time you are reading this, I’ll already be dead.  Hey, it’s Matthew.  You’ll find my body in the front field…”

I froze. “Not possible,” I thought. This boy had everything going for him – brilliant, thoughtful, lots of friends,…  “Okay, this has to be some sort of terrible joke or experiment, because it just isn’t possible.”

I ran upstairs to his bedroom.  The bed was neatly made up.  It hadn’t been slept in. I awoke my wife and told her to call 911 and ran outside, shouting his name, hoping that he would be sitting somewhere, not able to go through with his plan. I was too late – only by minutes – he had used a hunting rifle in one decisive act.

When I returned to the house with the heart-breaking news, my wife Joan made the necessary phone calls while I sat on the kitchen steps in disbelief.

When she got off the phone, she came over to me and said, “It’s because of the tubal.”

I couldn’t believe she was saying that.

After our eleventh child was born, we had secretly arranged for Joan to have a tubal ligation.  We hadn’t told anyone because we had always professed to be in union with the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the use of the natural cycles to limit the size of your family, if there was a serious reason to do so.

We seemed to lack the discipline to make that work for us, and we thought that we were at the point where we needed to stop having children, so we opted for tubal ligation.  Both of us went to confession afterwards, but the sacrament can’t help you much if you don’t have contrition and don’t plan to make satisfaction for the damage you have done.

The thoughtfulness and generosity of our parish priest, the police, our parish members, friends, and our funeral director became manifest as soon as the terrible news spread, and helped to sustain us through the coming days, weeks and months.  It is impossible to describe the impact suicide has on each family member, especially the parents and the closest siblings. Thankfully, in His generosity, God gave us several consolations, allowing us to be confident that Matthew’s eternal salvation was assured.

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In Loving Memory of Matthew Helferty SOURCE: Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

After the wake and funeral, I became driven, attempting to understand how we had lost our son in such a terrible manner.

Eventually, it became evident that Matthew had descended into deep depression and that he was listening to music on his personal CD player that would further contribute to his depression and offer the ultimate solution.  He had also been playing violent video games and a card game called ‘Magic: The Gathering’ with some of his friends. But… this explanation was incomplete.  Lots of kids listen to this terrible music and play those games and have depressing lives, but they don’t commit suicide. Matthew was part of a loving family, and we hadn’t even noticed that he was depressed, until we looked back and saw some of the obvious signs.

I was not convinced.

To settle the matter, we decided to visit our former spiritual director and family friend, Father Jim Duffy of Madonna House. He had called us on the day of Matthew’s death, to offer prayers and condolences.  He was perplexed that this had happened.  I agreed that I would accept that the tubal was the explanation, if Father Jim said so.  It was Divine Mercy Sunday, 2001.  When we arrived at Madonna House in Toronto – it’s a 4-hour drive from our home – Father Jim offered mass for our intentions in their chapel, then we went to a nearby restaurant & park for lunch.

When Joan told him that she had undergone a tubal ligation, he stopped eating and his countenance dropped.

He gravely explained that our experience was simply the re-telling of the stories of the Old Testament.  When the Jewish people strayed from the ways of God, when they rejected His teachings, they experienced suffering and loss.  When they realized their faults and turned back to God, their lives were restored.

I was devastated.

But, I knew that Father Duffy, a devout and holy priest, with many decades of experience, would not mislead us.  During the drive home, we decided to arrange for a reversal of the tubal ligation and to confess this sin again, this time with true contrition.

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Divine Mercy Image

We realize now that when we had the tubal ligation, we cut our family off from many of God’s graces and guidance and protection.  We were blind. Matthew was the one that suffered the most, and we didn’t even notice.  We are convinced that if we had been living within God’s order, either the perfect storm of circumstances and events that plunged Matthew so quickly into such deep depression would not have occurred or we would have noticed the seriousness of his condition and been able to save him.

Since the reversal and confession of that sin, our family has been blessed tremendously.   There are still lots of challenges, but sincerely attempting to live within God’s order provides spiritual protection and peace of mind that we treasure dearly.

After the reversal of the tubal ligation, we were hoping for more children, but each pregnancy ended in miscarriage. We have accepted that when you tamper with the natural law, there are natural consequences.  Nineteen years later, several of our children are married and we currently have close to 20 grandchildren.  One of our sons is a priest and one of our daughters is a Sister.  All of these things bring great joy to Joan and me.

The consequences of our sin were severe, but God has restored our lives miraculously. Deo Gratias!

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We hope that by sharing our experience, we will help others to avoid the sins related to artificial contraception and sterilization. We have learned that God’s way is the best way, regardless of how difficult it may seem at the time.  Please observe the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding family planning in Humanae Vitae.  Our son’s death on December 10, 2000 was the worst day of our lives.  Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001 was indeed the day our lives were restored.

Mom put on ventilator for COVID-19 at 34 weeks pregnant wakes to find she’s given birth to healthy daughter

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(NRL News Today) When Angela Primachenko told Sheinelle Jones on the TODAY show this morning,” I feel like I’m a miracle walking,” she was not exaggerating. Consider…. The 27-year-old respirator therapist from Vancouver, Washington, who was 33 weeks pregnant, had among other symptoms a fever, and was tested for COVID-19 on March 24, Scott Stump of NBC/Today reported.

Eight days later she… was fighting for her life on a ventilator while in a medically induced coma.

At the same time, she gave birth to her daughter after doctors at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center induced labor to give Primachenko more of a fighting chance while also protecting her child. …

Primachenko was taken off the ventilator on April 6, and one look down at her body told her that her baby must have been born.

“Obviously nobody expected that I was going to get that sick, so no, absolutely not, I did not expect to deliver my child,” she said. “After all the medication and everything I just woke up and all of a sudden I didn’t have my belly any more. It was just extremely mind-blowing.”

 

Stump explained that Primachenko, who was released from the hospital Saturday, has not been able to hold daughter Ava who is in neonatal intensive care. Fortunately, neither her husband David nor their 11-month-old daughter, Emily, have tested positive for COVID-19, so they are able to hold the newest member of the family. Primachenko has had to content herself with FaceTime.

Another blessing: Ava has tested negative for COVID-19.

NBC/Today detailed the loving contributions of Primachenko’s supportive family and friends.

Her twin sister, Oksana Luiten, had been keeping family and friends updated through Primachenko’s frightening ordeal, asking for prayers on Instagram for a “miraculous healing.”

Primachenko also had a moment she’ll never forget when she was wheeled out of the intensive care unit in her bed.

“Everyone did a standing ovation and just clapped me out of the ICU, which is so amazing and such a huge thing to be able to leave the ICU and go to the floor — it’s just the grace of God,” she said.

Washington state has been hit hard by COVID-19. Primachenko said she “is hoping her story can send a positive message during a difficult time.”

“That there’s hope,” she said. “That even in the hardest days and the hardest times that there’s hope and you can rely on God and people and community. The amount of community and people that were praying for me is just unbelievable. I was blown away, and I’m so incredibly thankful.”

Giving her daughter the name Ava also has a special meaning, particularly after everything that mother and daughter have endured.

“It means ‘breath of life,”’ Primachenko said. “So she’s our new little breath of life.”

Editor’s Note: This article was published at NRL News Today and is reprinted here with permission.

Is your birth control putting you at greater risk for an STD?

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Birth control is touted as one of the greatest medical advancements ever made for women, allowing them to take charge of their sexuality without worrying about unplanned pregnancies — or so the narrative goes, anyway. But birth control has risks that go along with it, and those who use it should weigh those risks before taking it. Unfortunately, many women aren’t properly informed of the risks beforehand. For certain kinds of birth control, those risks include an increased susceptibility to getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

DEPO PROVERA

Depo Provera is a birth control injection given four times a year, and is intended for women who don’t want to take a pill every day. It works by suppressing ovulation — preventing ovaries from releasing an egg — and thickening cervical mucus, so that sperm are less likely to reach an egg, should one be released.

However, Depo Provera has been found to possibly increase the chances of contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. It’s not clear why this happens, but it should serve as a warning to women who choose Depo Provera. “These findings underscore the need to counsel all sexually active women who use DMPA and who are not in a mutually monogamous relationship to use condoms consistently and correctly,” Dr. Charles Morrison, the first author of one of the studies that found this increased risk, said in a press release. “For sexually active women not in a mutually monogamous relationship, limiting the number of partners may also help to reduce the risk.”

It should be noted that limiting one’s number of sexual partners always reduces one’s risk of getting an STD.

COPPER INTRAUTERINE DEVICE (IUD)

IUDs have become popular in recent years, as they’ve allegedly become safer (although there are still plenty of horror stories) than in past decades. The copper IUD is considered a non-hormonal contraceptive device, and works by triggering an inflammatory reaction from the copper wire coiled around the device. The copper is toxic to both sperm and eggs. It can be left in place for up to 10 years, and can be removed at any time, making it seem like a very attractive option for women.

Yet there are questions being raised about whether it may make women more susceptible to contracting STDs. KQED noted that along with the rise of IUDs in California, STDs — including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — also drastically skyrocketed, and the “why” behind this is still unclear. “These are things that are happening at the same time and in tandem, but we can’t necessarily say there’s causality between them,” Stephanie Arnold Pang, director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, told KQED.

Meanwhile, a medical paper posited that a potential risk might exist between using copper IUDs and HIV, specifically in women who have copper sensitivity. It’s because in these women, the copper IUD causes severe dermatitis; this, along with the excessive menstrual bleeding women sometimes experience, could put them at higher risk. Other studies, however, found no difference in HIV risk between copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs.

ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES

The birth control pill, or oral contraceptives, was the first modern birth control method created. It works by preventing a woman’s egg from fully developing each month, and therefore, unable to accept sperm and become fertilized. The pill also thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach any egg that might be released. However, birth control pills are notorious for their side effects. One of the lesser known side effects is an increased chance of STDs.

The Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, published a study showing that women who used oral contraceptives were more likely to get chlamydia and vaginal candidiasis, compared to women who don’t use them.

Women should be aware that there are effective, risk-free natural methods available for them, should they choose to forgo artificial birth control methods. Women deserve to know what they’re risking before they take birth control, whether it’s an increase risk of pulmonary embolism or STDs. True empowerment comes when women are given all the information they need beforehand so they can make informed decisions.

Is the Culture of Death being undermined?

by Paul Murano  •  ChurchMilitant.com

The Wuhan virus pandemic has begun to attack the very foundation of the Culture of Death.

Media reports show the pandemic is causing the shuttering of some abortuaries as well as the canceling of “gay pride” events.

But the effect on contraception has been largely ignored.

The Wuhan pandemic is causing supply shortages for pharmaceutical companies around the world, creating shortages of chemical contraceptives.

Likewise, restrictions on doctor visits is also diminishing access to contraception.

The normal protocol of getting an exam, blood test and consultation before obtaining a prescription has been curtailed. And without a prescription, one cannot purchase or refill contraceptive pills, which act as abortifacients.

Further, Malaysia-based Karex Industries, responsible for 20% of the world’s condoms, has shut down factories in China and India due to government lockdowns, slowing the distribution of condoms worldwide.

The United Nations is warning of “devastating” consequences.

Even Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania has announced it has dropped all birth control services during this time.

Faithful Catholics are hoping diminished access to contraception and abortion will force young people to reflect on the importance of chastity, the sanctity of marriage and the dignity of human life; and that God will use this to lead many souls back to Him — and, perhaps, save Western civilization in the process.

Italy, the Coronavirus Pandemic and Demographic Winter

Heartbreaking stories have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. Hospitals are too full. Doctors are overworked. People die alone. Coffins pile up. The Pope walks through empty Roman streets, praying alone.

The coronavirus has created these scenes. Yet, behind the scenes of the crisis is another one. Slow-moving, largely hidden, yet destructive both physically and socially, a problem people prefer to ignore. I am speaking of demographic winter: the worldwide fertility decline. This problem aggravates the coronavirus crisis.

The coronavirus is especially lethal for the elderly. The death rate (deaths per number of cases) is 15% for people over 80, 8% for people in their 70s, 3% for people in their 60s and less than 1% for people under 50. The countries with the highest number of cases and fatalities per capita are countries with a large percentage of elderly people. For instance, Italy’s fertility rate is now 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1. As a result, Italy has a rapidly aging population. Almost a quarter (23%) of Italy’s population is now over 65 years of age. In 2019, the median age was 46.3, projected to rise to 51.4 by 2050. An aging population is creating and will continue to create rising costs for both pensions and health care.

But beyond the dollars and cents are the human costs. Low fertility rate means fewer young people to take care of the increasing number of older people. Even if the fear of contagion had not prevented family visits, more and more people have no young relatives to come visit them. Even without coronavirus, for example, Japan has so many childless elderly people who die alone that the culture has developed a special term: “lonely death.” People die in their apartments, alone, sometimes undiscovered for days or more, sometimes much more. The first person to whom the term was applied, evidently, was a man who was discovered three years after his death.

We are so accustomed to hearing about “overpopulation” and “The Population Bomb” that we scarcely consider the opposite problem of underpopulation. Yet the fact is that birth rates in most of the world are well below replacement rates. And the problems are becoming harder to ignore and harder to solve.

Political scientist Nicolas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute stated in a depressing article entitled, Growing Old the Hard Way:

“Left unaddressed, the mounting pressures that population aging would pose on pension outlays, health care expenditures, fiscal discipline, savings levels, manpower availability, and workforce attainment could only have adverse domestic implications for productivity and economic growth in today’s affluent societies.”

These pressures have been pretty much “left unaddressed” during the 15 years since Eberstadt penned those words. Public policy around the globe still emphasizes the need to slow population growth. The problems created by population decline never seem to get the same attention.

Did you know that most college educated women end up with fewer children than they originally wanted?* Most people don’t know this. Yet this is the case in pretty much every rich country. The “fertility gap” is highest in Southern European countries, such as Italy and Spain, where the coronavirus just happens to be the most virulent.

There is no world overpopulation crisis. The bigger problem is that we don’t have enough people. We cannot solve this problem overnight. There is nothing we can do today to increase the number of 40 year-olds we have tomorrow. Sure, we could increase immigration. But that is neither a global, nor a long-term solution.

In fact, we know today with absolute certainty the maximum number of 40-year-olds there could possibly be in the world in April 2060. (Demography is predictable that way.) We can’t do anything about that. But we can do something about how many 40 year-olds there will be in January 2061 because we can do something about how many babies we have in January 2021.

The COVID-created enforced “social isolation” could well result in a baby boom. Some “experts” offer you a free abortion as a “solution” to your “unwanted” pregnancy. I offer a different suggestion: Have the baby. Pull yourself together to take care of that baby, even if you didn’t “plan” it. Lots and lots of people who didn’t “plan” their babies will tell you later they don’t regret having them.

We baby boomers were, frankly, idiots on this point. We thought we were so smart, putting off our pregnancies and “planning” our families. We planned ourselves right into the personal heartbreak of infertility and the social crisis of demographic winter.

Of course, we as good Christian citizens must do our best to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But we must also understand the role of demographics in making us more vulnerable to this pandemic. A nation without children has no future, no matter what diseases may emerge.

For the love of God and all mankind, be not afraid! Have the baby! With any luck, and by the grace of God, Italy and all of us, will experience a post-COVID baby boom.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the author of  

The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

She is the founder and president of The Ruth Institutean international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

 

*See figures 1-3 of the linked article, which states on page 527, “Highly educated women generally show the largest gap between intended and realized fertility.”

Our Lady of America Warned Us

With the country grinding to a halt, it’s time to consider Our Lady of America’s words and take them to heart.

Our Lady of Fatima cautioned us and gave remedies. So did Our Lady of Akita. So did Our Lady of America.

But instead, the heedless world has been in the hot pursuit of what Cardinal Arinze pointed out as the three major “P’s” — Pleasure, Power, Possessions. A lot of that has come to a halt in the last few weeks.

Most aren’t familiar with Our Lady of America and what she said. Beginning in late 1956, Our Lady came and identified herself as Our Lady of America to bring warnings and solutions. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives, she told Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil), a cloistered nun in Ohio. I desire to make the whole of America my shrine by making every heart accessible to the love of my Son.

Our Lady wished America to be the country dedicated to my purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the Soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in my love for them. I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart.

I desire, through my children of America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come to me with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to my Heart that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of my Son.

Our Lady said she was coming to us children of America, as a last resort. I plead with you to listen to my voice. Cleanse your souls in the Precious Blood of My Son. Live in His Heart, and take me in that I may teach you to live in great purity of heart which is so pleasing to God.

Here’s a mother pleading with her wayward children to please listen and then do what she’s telling them. If they don’t? In January 1957, Our Lady did not mince words.

The hour grows late. My Son’s patience will not last forever. Help me hold back His anger, which is about to descend on sinful and ungrateful men. Suffering and anguish, such as never before experienced, is about to overtake mankind. It is the darkest hour.

We know Jesus is merciful, more than we could imagine. Earlier he told St. Faustina “before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy.” Again, “I never reject a contrite heart. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul.”

Our Lady told Faustina, “I am Mother to you all, thanks to the unfathomable mercy of God.” One of her titles proclaims her Mother of Mercy. She is that also — and refers back to Fatima too — as she appeared as Our Lady of America and continued: But if men will come to me, my Immaculate Heart will make it bright again with the mercy which my Son will rain down through my hands. Help me save those who will not save themselves. Help me bring once again the sunshine of God’s peace upon the world.

There’s great hope because Our Lady said mercy is ready and waiting. Remember, this was back 63 years ago. When life was simpler, and on Sundays, churches were filled. Look at society’s downhill race since.

Next, Our Lady of America requested, Reform of life is what I ask as the sign and proof of my children’s love for me. God looks at the heart, and if it resembles the Heart of His Divine Son, it is with the greatest pleasure He regards it…But to make your hearts grow more and more like to the Heart of the Son, you must go to the Mother, whose heart is most like His. From this Pure and Immaculate Heart you will learn all that will make you more pleasing to the Divine Heart of the Son of God.

Again, the message is similar to Fatima’s. Now 40 years later people still hadn’t listened enough. Our Mother was again trying to get our attention. Come to me, my children, come to me and learn. There is much I would teach you. It is for your own happiness and eternal salvation. Do not disregard the voice of your Mother. It is the voice of love trying to save you from eternal ruin.

She said her Immaculate Heart desires to see the kingdom of Jesus established in everyone’s heart. Now I have pleaded with my children to open their hearts to Him, but most are cold and indifferent.

Three months later Our Lady again warned: Unless my children reform their lives, they will suffer great persecution. If man himself will not take upon himself the penance necessary to atone for his sins and those of others, God in His justice will have to send upon him the punishment necessary to atone for his transgressions.

But her children were stopping their ears and hearts.

On Aug. 22 (the feast of the Queenship of Mary), she said, What am I to do…when my children turn from me? The false peace of this world lures them and in the end will destroy them. They think they have done enough in consecrating themselves to my Immaculate Heart. It is not enough. That which I ask for and is most important many have not given me. What I ask, have asked, and will continue to ask is reformation of life…I will work my miracles of grace only in those who ask for them and empty their souls of the love and attachment to sin and all that is displeasing to my Son.

Oh, what grief my children have caused me!

 

Another Message for America

Then on the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, Oct. 7, Our Lady, holding a rosary, gave a warning, and still another avenue of hope. [W]hat I am about to tell you concerns in a particular way my children in America. Unless they do penance by mortification and self-denial and thus reform their lives, God will visit them with punishments hitherto unknown to them.

My child, there will be peace, as has been promised, but not until my children are purified and cleansed from defilement, and clothed thus with the white garment of grace, are made ready to receive this peace, so long promised and so long held back because of the sins of men.

My dear children, either you will do as I desire and reform your lives, or God Himself will need to cleanse you in the fires of untold punishment. You must be prepared to receive His great gift of peace. If you will not prepare yourselves, God will Himself be forced to do so in His justice and mercy.

Let’s be honest. Look how in the last few decades the world has speeded up turning Genesis upside down — declaring as good something that was unheard of and would shock the people during that 1950’s message.

Oh, if you knew the punishments I am holding back from you by my pleading and intercession on your behalf! Will you do as I wish at last, my children? she continued.

Repent. Stop sinning. Live according to God’s commandments, not man’s. She taught,

Making the Rosary a family prayer is very pleasing to me. I ask that all families strive to do so. But be careful to say it with great devotion, meditating on each mystery and striving to imitate in your daily lives the virtues depicted therein. Live the mysteries of the Rosary as I lived them, and it will become a chain binding you to me forever. They who are found in the circle of my Rosary will never be lost. I myself will lead them at death to the throne of my Son, to be eternally united to Him.

Earlier the next year, Our Lady assured, My Immaculate Heart will win in the end, and the Spirit of Christ will dwell in the hearts of men. Those in whom this Spirit is not found will be condemned to eternal hell-fire.

She then reminded that because nothing is accomplished without pain there needed to be preparation to suffer much. She showed the sword she suffered in her own heart. It is also the sword of grief plunged therein by my children who refuse to let me teach them the true way. There is only one true way to the Father, my child, only one way to eternal union. That, she affirmed, is through her Son Jesus.

But my children will not heed; they will not listen. Every other way they will take, but not this one.

Did people finally listen and change? A year later, in 1959 Our Lady said, I come again to warn and to plead. Oh, penance, penance! How little my children understand it! They give me many words, but sacrifice themselves they will not. It is not me they love but themselves. Oh, what blindness, sweet child, what blindness! How it pierces my heart!

See, I weep, but my children show me no compassion. They behold the sword in my heart but will make no move to withdraw it. I give them love; they give me only ingratitude.

Weep, then, dear child, weep with your Mother over the sins of men. Intercede with me before the throne of mercy, for sin is overwhelming the world and punishment is not far away.”

At the time she also said she had a great interest in America’s young people, for them to become the next leaders of renewal.

 

Plans for the United States

Obviously, things didn’t get better. On the day after the feast of St. John the Baptist, June 25, 1967, Our Lady of America came once again because people didn’t change. Their sins cry to heaven for punishment. I hold out help, but they will not receive it…they only spurn the efforts of my love.

Then on Nov. 22, 1980, a Saturday, Our Lady came with a message specifically for the United States:

It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace, the peace of Christ, the peace that he brought with Him from heaven in His birth as a man in the little town of Bethlehem…

Unless the United States accepts and carries out faithfully the mandate given to it by heaven to lead the world to peace, there will come upon it and all nations a great havoc of war and incredible suffering. If, however, the United States is faithful to this mandate from heaven, and yet fails tin the pursuit of peace because the rest of the world will not accept or co-operate then the United States will not be burdened with the punishment about to fall.

The warning ramped up on Jan 23 (the old feast of the Espousal of Joseph and Mary).

The world was paying no attention to what Malachi (2:17) said — “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’” — and what Isaiah (5:20) made clear — “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”
Our Lady of America reminded us of this on Holy Saturday in 1981, saying, Evil is so insidious it often passes for good. The simple and pure of heart alone can detect the difference. Many good works and many a good person or persons are thwarted or destroyed by apparently good people who are manipulated by the powers of evil because they do not possess that finer sense of being able to detect a false spirit form a true one.

In the next two years she again repeated, O my children, you still aren’t listening. I see the destruction coming but you do not believe me…The Divine Spirit is there but you are continuing in your blindness and so blotting out the Divine Light and closing your ears to eternal truth. I beg of you to heed my voice or there will be no more time for you to turn back the Divine Wrath. I weep for you because I love you and wish, my dear children, to spare you this terrible suffering.

Hope Remains — A Chance Too

In 1984, on Jan. 3 (the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus), Our Lady of America gave a Final Message:

If my warnings are taken seriously and enough of my children strive constantly and faithfully to renew and reform themselves in their inward and their outward lives, then there will be no nuclear war.

There must be much more good then evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching.

Yet I tell you, my daughter, even should such destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took my warning seriously, there will remain a remnant — untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following me and spreading my warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives.

These will renew the earth win the power and light of the Holy Spirit. These faithful ones of my children will be under my protection and that of the Holy Angels, and they will partake of the life of the Divine Trinity in a most remarkable way.

The choice is clear. Listen to Our Lady. Do what she says. Never lose hope. Pray.

 

Planned Parenthood begs for protective equipment to do abortions as coronavirus rages

By Norman Fulkerson

April 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Planned Parenthood is begging supporters for protective equipment and other supplies while other doctors and nurses go without as they try to save the lives of coronavirus patients.

Sue Dunlap, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, wrote a message to the abortion giant’s mailing list asking for “all of the same supplies you are hearing about on the news.”

“In order to keep our patients, staff, and sites moving through this emergency, we need all of the same supplies you are hearing about on the news,” she wrote.

“As gloves, masks, and medications run low, we are doing all that we can to procure supplies for the essential care our community is depending on us to provide.”

Like the World Health Organization, Planned Parenthood considers the killing of unborn human life “an essential service,” and abortion businesses remain open in most American states while other elective services, like dental care, are suspended. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood is asking not only for scarce medical resources, but also for extra funds for its “almost-500 coworkers in order to help them cover groceries, child care, or any other expenses they are incurring while working and supporting Planned Parenthood patients through this difficult time.”

Much of California, including Los Angeles, is under lockdown, and social distancing between households is being encouraged. Hundreds of daycares have been shut, so it is unclear whom Planned Parenthood employees are paying to care for their children.

Planned Parenthood Keystone, which operates in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, is also asking for supplies to continue aborting children during the pandemic. In late March, it asked for donations of “hand sanitizers, home sewn masks, shoe covers, and surgical hats.” According to National Right to Life News, Planned Parenthood Keystone is providing only abortions, and no other services, during the national health emergency. Meanwhile, the government of Pennsylvania has suspended all elective surgery in the state.

Catholic writer John Zmirak said Planned Parenthood’s determination to keep harvesting human beings even during the pandemic shows the organization for what it is.

“Planned Parenthood wants masks and gloves? Fine. Send them Halloween masks, since they’re a pack of ghouls,” Zmirak told LifeSiteNews via social media.

“Send them baseball gloves, since they only play at providing health care. What they are is a murderous cult, little better than the Manson Gang,” he continued.

“The fact that they want us to divert life-saving surgical masks and gloves away from real health care providers, so they can go on stealing organs from tiny Americans and selling them, tells us all we need to know. These people belong in prison cells.”

Selene Cerankosky of Students for Life of America told LifeSiteNews that Planned Parenthood’s days of insisting that abortion is only part of what they do are over.

“I think they can never again be defended as an organization who ‘does more than abortion,’ considering they are defaulting to this ‘service’ over any other during this time,” she said via social media.

“They are so dead set on profiting over caring for women that they’ll attempt to rob women suffering from the coronavirus of essential supplies,” Cerankosky added.

“Why not ask for supplies to perform pap smears,” Cerankosky wondered, “or STD tests? It’s because they’re well aware abortion is their most profitable engagement, and they’ll leave everything else they do unaddressed in order to cash in on ending lives.”

Radical liberal group: Corona panic perfect time to abolish the family

March 27, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — I’ve always been close to my family, but the coronavirus pandemic and the requisite social distancing have reminded me not to take them for granted. Never again will I “just drop by” my parents’ place without being reminded that it is a blessing to be able to do so. My toddler daughter is so fed up with not seeing her extended family that she frequently demands that we video-call her grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Like everyone else, I worry about my elderly grandparents. In the midst of the panic, many of us are feeling profoundly grateful for the families we have been blessed with.

But if you are a certain type of progressive, this global upheaval presents an opportunity. Open Democracy, for example, published an essay this week with this headline: “The coronavirus crisis shows it’s time to abolish the family.”

Open Democracy’s motto is “free thinking for the world,” and I certainly hope nobody is paying for that garbage. But the group’s essay is a good reminder that many progressives see this crisis as an opportunity to further their political agenda, especially as large swathes of the population are at this point willing to accept massive government oversight of their lives in order to flatten the curve and protect the elderly and the vulnerable. This crisis has taught us that our families are essential and that our elderly are valuable, and I hope we remember these lessons when this is all over.

But if you’re one of the clowns over at Open Democracy, the crisis is leading you to entirely different conclusions — conclusions such as the fact that we must get over “the mystification of the couple-form; the romanticisation of kinship; and the sanitization of the fundamentally unsafe space that is private property.” And why do we have to “get over” the idea of marriage and cease “romanticizing kinship,” whatever that means? Because of “the power asymmetries of housework (reproductive labor being so gendered) … of patriarchal parenting and (often) the institution of marriage.” One genuinely wonders what the author of this gibberish had to suffer in order to produce such twisted nonsense.

Homes, Open Democracy informs us, are fundamentally unsafe: “[q]ueer and feminized people, especially very old and very young ones, are definitionally not safe there: their flourishing in the capitalist home is the exception, not the rule. It follows that, upon closer inspection, both terms — ‘social distancing’ and ‘sheltering in place’ — appear remarkable as much for what they don’t say (that is, what they presume and naturalize) as what they do. Sheltering in what place…and in whose? Distance from whom…or everyone but whom?”

Obviously, domestic abuse is an enormous issue, and the sad fact is that some people will feel trapped in their homes. But I would argue that family breakdown has contributed to abuse rather than lessened it, and that the idea of getting rid of the family to eliminate domestic abuse would exacerbate the problem rather than mitigate it. But according to Open Democracy, “the pandemic is no time to forget about family abolition.” In fact, even when homes are safe, the author theorizes, they are still awful and should still be abolished:

[E]ven when the private nuclear household poses no direct physical or mental threat to one’s person — no spouse-battering, no child rape, and no queer-bashing — the private family qua mode of social reproduction still, frankly, sucks. It genders, nationalizes and races us. It norms us for productive work. It makes us believe we are ‘individuals.’ It minimizes costs for capital while maximizing human beings’ life-making labor (across billions of tiny boxes, each kitted out — absurdly — with its own kitchen, micro-crèche and laundry). It blackmails us into mistaking the only sources of love and care we have for the extent of what is possible. We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it.

I suspect that there is as much of Freud as Marx in all of that, as the logic of attempting to contain a pandemic by collectivizing and moving us into large group homes escapes me. Perhaps it escapes the author, as well, as I see that this essay is long on abolishing things and short on what, exactly, those things will be replaced with. (Smart Marxists always remain fuzzy on the details.) But I think this crisis, whatever else it brings, will be doing precisely the opposite of what the progressives over at Open Democracy hope. Yes, there are genuinely tragic situations occurring. But for most of us, our families are the silver lining in all of this. Trying to figure out where all of this is headed and to plan for the future is stressful, but all of that can vanish the minute your two-year-old tugs on your sleeve and says: “Hey, Daddy. Wanna snuggle for a minute?”

Ohio abortionists ask courts for exemption from coronavirus hold on elective ‘health care’

Providers have challenged being included in the suspension of elective procedures, arguing that their work is ‘essential’ and ‘vital.’

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As states order suspensions of non-essential medical procedures in order to conserve resources and contain the spread of the coronavirus, abortion facilities in Ohio are calling on the courts to step in and allow abortions to proceed as usual.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have advised healthcare facilities to reschedule non-urgent appointments and elective procedures, both to limit the spread of the coronavirus and to free up time and resources to focus on patients afflicted by COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus).

Compliance with this guidance has been mixed, leading numerous states to mandate that facilities temporarily halt “non-essential” procedures, with Ohio among them. On Monday, state abortion centers, including Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, filed a motion demanding that the Ohio Department of Health be blocked from applying the order to them, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The abortion centers argue that abortion should be deemed “essential” because it’s time-sensitive in nature, even when sought for economic or lifestyle reasons rather than medical ones.

“As leading medical groups have recognized, abortion is essential and time-sensitive health care,” said attorney Elizabeth Watson of the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “We hope the court will recognize the urgency of this matter and grant relief for our clients so that they can continue the vital work of providing care to their communities.”

“The idea that all abortion care is essential is overblown,” responded Ohio Right to Life executive director Stephanie Krider. “If a woman needs an abortion for some sort of life-saving situation, she’s not going to Planned Parenthood for that abortion. She is going to a hospital.”

Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups are also suing Texas over a similar suspension in that state.

Pro-life medical professionals have assailed the notion that the abortion industry should get a pass from the same standards currently being applied to every legitimate field of medicine.

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) says that while “elective abortion is neither ‘essential’ nor ‘urgent,’” it “does consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.”

“Elective abortion, both surgical and drug induced, also generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms,” AAPLOG continued. “Most abortion providers instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion. Approximately five percent of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage. Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

 

SPECIAL MESSAGE ABOUT COVID-19 AND ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES

 

SPECIAL MESSAGE ABOUT COVID-19 AND ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES

How many times have we thought – or heard someone say: “I don’t want to be kept alive by a machine.”

As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, the public is learning about the importance of mechanical ventilators in providing temporary breathing support for many of those infected.  Ventilators are saving lives!

A false understanding of respirators and ventilators has become commonplace in recent years. Many people think that these and similar machines’ only role is prolonging the dying process. The widely publicized treatment of COVID-19 patients is helping to dispel that myth. Many patients rely on machines temporarily every day for any number of reasons and go on to make full recoveries.

Unfortunately, many individuals have completed advance health care directives stating or suggesting that they do not wish to receive breathing assistance through mechanical ventilation.

Please take the time to review any advanced medical directives (including POLST forms) signed by you or your loved ones to make sure they are clear that mechanical ventilation is not among the forms of care that are refused. If there is any ambiguity, you may want to consider writing, signing, and dating an addendum specifying that mechanical ventilation is authorized.

If you have not already done so, we also encourage you to think about preparing an advance health care directive—especially if you are in a high-risk group. It is important to be sure your documents indicate that you want mechanical ventilation in the event you are unable to express your health care wishes. Click here for Life Legal’s guidance on advance health care directives, which includes a link to state-specific advance directive templates.

If you or someone you know is having trouble receiving life-sustaining medical care, please contact us at info@lldf.org or 707.224.6675.

Christ, Celibacy and Contraception

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

The new book From the Depths of Our Hearts by Cardinal Sarah and Pope Benedict XVI continues the Church’s ongoing discussion about clerical celibacy, but it seems to me that the whole topic has been kicked into a new category by the invention of artificial contraception.

What has contraception to do with celibacy? The quick-witted might observe that celibacy is the most effective “contraception.” It’s also a sure fire way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

However, that’s not the point of the headline. Instead I’ve been thinking about the way artificial contraception has radically changed the whole idea not only of sexuality, but of celibacy, and especially of the celibate priesthood.

Artificial contraception has changed celibacy because it has separated sexual activity from procreation, and once it separated sexual activity from procreation it follows that sexual activity might  just as well also be separated from marriage, for marriage is not only for the support and love of the spouses, but also for the security and well-being of children.

The secularist might argue that if sex is not about procreation it is not necessarily about marriage either.

Artificial contraception has made sex into recreation rather than procreation, and therefore the meaning of marriage has also changed. Marriage is intended to be a sacrament of self-sacrifice. Now for the majority of Americans it is a sacrament of self-gratification.

Consequently, celibacy has also lost its meaning. Celibacy only has meaning within the context of marriage. Marriage is a lifelong commitment within which two people grow into the maturity of love and (ideally) do so within the natural dynamic of a large and loving family. Celibacy reflects that love, because when the celibate person sacrifices marital love and family love to make their own lifelong commitment to the greater love of God and others.

The husband and wife love one another and their children completely and fully win a lifelong commitment. The celibate loves God and the human family of his parish and church as fully and completely as he can in a lifelong commitment. Contraception, however, reduces the fullness of marriage and family life to unlimited sexual gratification and thus pulls the meaning out from under marriage and not only pulls the meaning and purpose out of marriage but also pulls the meaning and purpose out of celibacy.

Because artificial contraception turns marriage into little more than sex it therefore turns celibacy into little more than “not having sex.”

Both celibacy and marriage, however, are far richer and deeper and more beautiful than “just sex” or “not having sex.”

Artificial contraception has not only degraded marriage, but it has completely altered the popular conception of marriage. This, as a result, has changed totally the conception of the celibate priesthood.

Let me explain with a practical example. Before artificial contraception, marriage was a sacrament of self-sacrifice. For the vast majority of men and women, marriage meant a large family, long hours of hard work to support that family and a difficult, but rewarding life of sacrifice, work, trials, tribulations, joys and sorrows. To be a celibate priest was also a rewarding life of self-sacrifice but by a different path.

Think for a moment of the choice a young man would have had in a Catholic community in a place like Philadelphia in the 1940s.

He would have seen his uncles and father and older brothers who had chosen marriage. Perhaps they lived in a little row house with a wife and half a dozen kids. The man would work long hours to support his large family. He and his wife had a joyful but hard life of self-sacrifice.

The young man might be considering the priesthood, and for him the celibate life was not so bad. He got an education. Maybe he had the chance to travel. He lived in a big rectory with three or four other priests with a nice Italian grandma to cook for them and look after them. In the extended family in his part of the city he had mom and pop and brothers and sister and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews. He served them as “father” in the way his brothers served their own kids. It was also a way of self-sacrifice, and compared to his brother’s big family it has equal joys and sorrows of its own.

The choice between celibacy and fatherhood was between one way of total sacrifice and another way of total self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice as a father and husband or self-sacrifice as a father-priest.

Now think of the choices facing a young Catholic man today: the models he has for fatherhood are mostly men who have used contraception to have two or maybe three children. The wife works. Double income. Trophy house. A good retirement plan. Kids in private school. Not much suffering or difficulty at all. It seems to him like the modern American Dad has it all because contraception has provided the way for him to “have it all.”

The young man who is considering the priesthood is likely to face a life living alone in a big rectory, being suspected of being a pedophile and working long hours for little reward or recognition. His celibacy seems like a curse not only of loneliness, but a reminder that he has given up everything the suburban man takes for granted. Contraception has not only given the suburban man endless child-free sex. It has given him access to a previously unimagined level of wealth.

Marriage has therefore become not a sacrament of self-sacrifice, but a sacrament of self-gratification. Whereas, for our grandfathers marriage was a way to give all, for us marriage is a way to get all.

No wonder the celibate may think from time to time that it is all very unfair. Not only does he give all, but the very meaning of what he is giving is pulled out from under him because the meaning of marriage (in which the meaning of celibacy is rooted) has been destroyed. Conversely, while marriage gives celibacy meaning, it may be now that celibacy may begin to give meaning back to marriage.

This could be reversed, however. The self-giving service of the celibate priest may start to remind people of the true meaning of marriage. The true meaning of marriage is that it is a sacrament of self-sacrifice and service. Married people may observe the self-sacrificial sacrifice of the priest and be reminded that as the priest is “married to the church” in loving service, so too, they are to be married to their spouses in a lifelong commitment of loving service.

This is why the Catholic Church will soon become the sole defender of marriage: because it has continued to be the sole defender of celibacy.

Sisters of Life continue to expand outreach out to abortion-vulnerable college students

By Anne Marie Williams
“Every single person is made by God for love. Every single person is made for a great and beautiful purpose.” Since their founding in 1991, the Sisters of Life, a vibrant order of Catholic religious sisters, have been sharing this message with women experiencing unplanned pregnancies or suffering in the aftermath of an abortion.

What started out as a local ministry to women near their New York City convent spread over time to missions in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Toronto. Then, five years ago, they began bringing this good news to college campuses in Colorado. Live Action News spoke to Sr. Maris Stella, one of the sisters living at the Denver convent, about why they are called the Sisters of Life, what brought them to minister on college campuses, what a day in their life looks like, and how their work is building up a culture of life.

While all religious sisters take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Sisters of Life take a fourth vow “to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” Sr. Maris Stella said that this vow flows from their understanding that “every person is good and valuable, and their life has meaning.” While the sisters have been inviting pregnant and post-abortive women to accept this radical love for years, Sr. Maris Stella told Live Action News that she and her fellow sisters in Denver undertook “a mission of evangelization on college campuses because this population is most vulnerable to abortion. Oftentimes, a pregnant woman in college feels that the only way to preserve her dreams is to end the life of her child.”

The sisters in Denver aim to meet women in this place of overwhelming uncertainty and fear with another option: “You can make choices that will help your life flourish.” The Sisters have found that “when people experience being loved for who they are, they thrive, live in joy, and dream about their futures.”

Five school years ago, the sisters launched their ministry on three college campuses. Now, the Sisters minister monthly to six campuses, five in Colorado and one in North Dakota. They typically travel in teams of several sisters, and occasionally all six together, for three days at a time to each place. Their schedules usually include hosting a women’s night, composed of a dinner, a talk on some aspect of God’s plan for life and love (often as part of a semester-long series), and a holy hour of Adoration.

The sisters also engage in “tabling,” setting up a table and engaging students in high-traffic areas of each campus. Sr. Maris Stella shared a story from a recent project where the sisters passed out stickers with messages like, “Created by God: Irreplaceable.” One young woman walked by the group, head down, and a sister called out to her, offering her a sticker. The woman looked up with a hostile expression and refused. The sister said, “it just says ‘you’re irreplaceable.’” The woman stopped in her tracks and received the sticker.

In a completely different tone of voice, the young woman said, “Thank you. I needed to hear that because I have been feeling very replaceable lately.”

The sister said, “She left believing something different about herself and her identity.”

The sisters also spiritually mentor 150-180 young women each month. The goal listed on their website is “to accompany students in discovering their beauty, value, and uniqueness. We want you to know, deep down, that your life is a gift, full of meaning and purpose. We are here to walk with you as you come to discover your inner greatness and the gifts that you are destined to share with the world.” Sr. Maris Stella commented that this can serve “as a point of integration for all aspects of their lives.”

While the Sisters may not always speak directly to abortion-vulnerable women, through their evangelistic efforts they can reach the people these women are likely to turn to in times of crisis: their roommates and friends.

Overall, the Sisters’ most important “task” is to pray for four hours each day. All of their work flows from this primary relationship with Jesus Christ. Having first been loved by Him, they can then “bring a maternal presence” to the college campuses, a presence that includes a listening ear and a warm, open heart that accepts and welcomes the other person in. This unconditional love builds up a culture of life.

Researchers demand aborted babies’ bodies for coronavirus experiments

By Doug Mainwaring

March 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) –– Scientists who are now claiming that the Trump ban on fetal tissue usage is blocking coronavirus treatment research are using the current pandemic opportunistically to reinstate the usage of tissue derived from aborted babies at government research facilities.

“A senior scientist at a government biomedical research laboratory has been thwarted in his efforts to conduct experiments on possible treatments for the new coronavirus because of the Trump administration’s restrictions on research with human fetal tissue,” blared the lede in a Washington Post article.

Kim Hasenkrug, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, told the Post that he has been arguing for a month that the pandemic “warrants an exemption to a ban imposed last year prohibiting government researchers from using tissue from abortions in their work.”

‘Humanized mice’

U.S. scientists had found last year that “mice could be transplanted with human fetal tissue that develops into lungs — the part of the body the new coronavirus invades,” according to the Post report.  These “humanized mice” are seen as important by some because they “could then be infected with coronaviruses — to which ordinary mice are not susceptible — closely related to the one that causes the new disease, covid-19.”

The fetal tissue to create the  “humanized mice” that researchers like Hasenkrug would like to access would have to be provided by women undergoing elective abortions.

Hasenkrug, who works at an NIH research lab, has been prohibited from using aborted baby body parts since Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last year that it had changed its policies concerning the use of fetal tissue.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” an HHS statement explained.

Playing on people’s fears

“Those who advocate experimentation using body parts harvested from aborted children are shamelessly exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, playing on people’s fears at a vulnerable time so that a select few can continue to use aborted fetal tissue in their research,” declared a statement released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) in Washington, D.C.

“The fact is that there are modernsuccessful alternatives available,” continued the CLI statement. “Already, over 60 potential treatments are under investigation — none of which need aborted fetal tissue to fight coronavirus.”

“Instead of wasting precious time listening to these dishonest claims, we should continue to focus our attention on successful, ethical alternatives that don’t require the exploitation of baby body parts, taxpayer dollars, and public sentiment that just wants a swift and compassionate end to this crisis,” said CLI.

Last month, CLI criticized claims made in a USA Today opinion piece by San Francisco–based professors Irving Weissman and Joseph McCune. The pair made an appeal similar to Hasenkrug’s, asserting, “People will suffer and die for lack of adequate treatments,” because aborted fetal tissue could not be used for research.

In December 2018, CLI’s vice president and research director, Dr. David Prentice, and senior fellow in life sciences Dr. Tara Sander Lee testified before Congress regarding the array of ethical alternatives to experiments using aborted baby parts and that fetal tissue research is medically unnecessary.

Sander Lee explained that less than 0.4 percent of the NIH’s budget is currently going toward research involving fetal tissue; that “after over 100 years of research, no therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissue”; and that researchers have access to a wealth of ethical sources for human tissue, including cells that can be given the coveted quality of pluripotency, or the ability to become other types of tissue.

The CLI scholar went on to detail how the original polio vaccine was first developed with monkey kidney cells; how vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella can be produced with cell lines from chicken eggs, human placentas, human kidney cultures, monkey cells, and chick embryo fibroblasts; how the vast majority of the research currently being done on the Zika and Ebola viruses does not use fetal tissue; and how even the vaccines currently being produced in the United States with fetal tissue are using cell lines from the 1960s rather than newly obtained tissue from abortions.

Ethical alternatives currently available to researchers “include, but are not limited to, fresh human tissues from adult and pediatric populations, donated and discarded biopsies and surgical specimens, from both living and post-mortem individuals,” she continued. “There are numerous examples of investigators successfully using these ethical alternatives for research and clinical trials for studying the most complex processes, such as brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders, immune response to pathogens, and stroke.”

Sander Lee is an associate scholar with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, studied molecular and cell biology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and has 20 years of experience with both academic and clinical medicine.

‘Incompatible with life’? People with Trisomy 18 are proving doctors wrong

 

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, has been labeled as “incompatible with life” by some doctors. Those doctors will often advise expectant parents to terminate their pregnancies when babies are determined to have the condition. But, as difficult as it might be, there are people living their lives every single day with the condition, and proving that Trisomy 18 and life are not incompatible when they are given a chance.

Faith Smith

Trisomy 18

Faith. Photo courtesy of Smith family.

When Faith Smith’s parents Brad and Jesi were told by doctors that there was no hope for her survival and that they should undergo amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis so they could abort, they refused. Doctors said Faith would destroy their finances and ruin their marriage, but the couple insisted that they would not end their daughter’s life.

After Faith was born, she was officially diagnosed with Trisomy 18, and her parents did everything in their power to get her the care she needed. They often had to fight doctors — and even an ethics committee — to ensure Faith was cared for. It paid off. Faith is now 11 years old and just underwent spinal surgery for scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis in February.

“She is now several inches taller, back to walking in her gait trainer, and playing her keyboard with such great posture that our family is encouraged to sit straighter too,” Jesi Smith told Live Action News. “She has somehow gained extra sympathy from her siblings due to the surgery and has us all trained to give her back rubs. Really, with as much attention and love she gets from all of us her life is enviable.”

Melody Thenhaus

trisomy 18

Melody practicing walking with her monkey bars built by her dad. Photo courtesy of Thenhaus family.

Melody Thenhaus wasn’t diagnosed with Trisomy 18 until after birth. She had just one marker for the condition during pregnancy, and doctors weren’t concerned. Her parents, Jennifer and Andrew, named her Melody partly because of how she loved music even while in the womb. But at birth, she did not open her eyes, cry, or move.

“That evening my husband decided to play music from the Eden String Quartet on his phone. All of a sudden we saw movement in Melody’s little isolette,” her mom Jennifer Thenhaus recalled. “Little toes wiggled, hands moved, and then eyes popped open. […] This incident was a significant gift from the Lord that gave us a glimmer of hope.”

Melody is now seven years old! “She is healthy, happy, and full of personality,” her mom told Live Action News. “She is extraordinarily charming. It is not uncommon for someone who works with her on a regular basis to exclaim that she is the sweetest child on the planet. She is exceptionally lovable. Melody currently has no health issues. Although Melody has delays in her development, she has been making remarkable advances lately. She loves to read books, play, cuddle, and drive her pink Porsche.”

Kayden McClanahan

trisomy 18

Photo: Marta McClanahan Facebook

Now almost 19 years old, Kayden has been defying the odds for nearly two decades. His parents were told he wouldn’t survive to see his first birthday, but last year, he graduated from high school, pushed across the stage by his big brother. On his 18th birthday, his mother Marta Johnson McClanahan shared photos of him throughout his life, saying he had lived “an amazing 18 years full of LOVE, happiness and lots of fun!”

“Drs talked about no quality of life does this look like no quality???” she wrote.

McClanahan told Live Action News that Kayden underwent open-heart surgery this year and is doing well. He is looking forward to receiving a new adaptive bike. Kayden lives a happy life and is adored by his family.

Bella Santorum

trisomy 18

Photo: Bella Santorum via Karen Santorum Facebook.

Bella Santorum is the 11-year-old daughter of former Senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen. Doctors predicted she wouldn’t survive long enough to be discharged from the hospital, but she has proven them all wrong.

“When I think of being pro life, an image comes to my mind,” Bella’s sister Elizabeth Santorum Marcolini wrote on Facebook. “It’s not a baby in a womb or a mother in distress, it is my 11 year old sister. Bella was born with a rare genetic birth defect called Trisomy 18. According to medical textbooks, she is ‘incompatible with life,’ but from where I’m sitting, that’s the biggest lie we were ever told. Bella is full of life.”

Marcolini describes Bella’s “beautiful giggle, her joy, her sweetness” and considers how many children like Bella are missing from the world because of abortion. Her mother calls her “the happiest little girl in the world.”

While Trisomy 18 is a very serious health condition and not everyone who has it will survive as long as these individuals, what’s important to realize is that each of these lives is precious and deserves to be lived to the fullest. Even if a baby with Trisomy 18 lives for only hours after birth, his or her life is a gift and should be honored with love rather than tossed away through abortion.

Catholic health care model with pro-life principles is coming to the United States

 

In 1940, an Italian Catholic priest known as Padre Pio announced his plans to found a “Home for the Relief of Suffering” (Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza), a hospital that would serve as “a haven of relief from suffering for all of God’s children in pain in body or soul.” The Casa’s doors opened in 1956, with 300 beds. At the same time, Padre Pio developed a worldwide prayer ministry to support the work of the Casa. Today, the Casa is a thriving 1,000+ bed hospital facility, considered “a model of community of Catholic Christian health delivery.” All this is despite its location in “one of the most remote, desolate and poorest parts of Italy,” some four hours from Rome.

Fifty-three years later, Padre Pio is a canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church, and in October of 2009, the administration of the Italian Casa entered into formal agreements with the administration of Catholic Healthcare International to bring the Casa model to the United States.

 

In early 2020, Catholic Healthcare International announced that it is actively moving forward with plans to break ground in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. According to the CHI website, the Casa USA has a three pillar vision: 1) a medical school faithful to the teachings of the Catholic faith, to be called the School for the Relief of Suffering; 2) a Casa USA hospital; and 3) a Catholic physician practice network.

A recently released bulletin also listed a worldwide prayer ministry, an on-site perpetual adoration chapel, and planned collaboration with the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network to “establish a safe-haven center” for “patients with traumatic brain injuries” like Schiavo’s. There will also be a partnership with the Christ Medicus Foundation to include a National Center for Public Policy on-site. According to the CHI flyer about the project, the Casa USA will serve as a “‘Beacon
of Light’ of faithful Catholic health care delivery for all Catholic providers of care and medical education in the US.”

Image result for casa usa pillar

Far from having implications for Catholic health care professionals alone, the Casa USA endeavor bears watching for all pro-lifers in health care. In a culture increasingly desensitized to the innate dignity and value of human life, the Casa model represents hope for ethical health care for all of us.

Coronavirus Infection During Pregnancy Does Not Pass from Mother to Newborn

Coronavirus Infection During Pregnancy Does Not Pass from Mother to Newborn

The results of a small study in China that followed four pregnant women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy, suggest that the viral infection doesn’t pass from mother to infant at birth. All four mothers in the study, which focused on the health of their newborns, gave birth at Wuhan’s Union Hospital. The report, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, is the second to come out of China within a month to find that mothers infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus did not infect their babies.

“Importantly, we found neither SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic positivity nor immediate evidence of symptomatic COVID-19 among these infants born to symptomatic, test-positive mothers,” commented Yalan Liu, PhD, at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and colleagues in their Frontiers in Pediatrics report, which is titled, “Infants born to Mothers with a New Coronavirus (COVID-19).” Liu also works in the Department of Pediatrics at Union Hospital.

The study by Liu and colleagues follows on from a report by researchers in China, and published in The Lancet in February on the results of a study in nine pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia. This report had also concluded that there was “… currently no evidence for intrauterine infection caused by vertical transmission in women who develop COVID-19 pneumonia in late pregnancy.”

Liu et al. followed four pregnant women who presented with symptomatic COVID-19 infections during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Four full-term infants were born. Cesarean sections were performed for 3 patients in the acute phase of the disease, and the fourth patient underwent a vaginal delivery because of the onset of labor. The nine mothers followed in the prior study in The Lancet had all undergone Caesarian sections.

“To avoid infections caused by perinatal and postnatal transmission, our obstetricians think that C-section may be safer,” Liu said. “Only one pregnant mother adopted vaginal delivery because of the onset of the labor process. The baby was normal. Maybe vaginal delivery is OK. It needs further study.”

None of the four infants in the latest study developed any serious symptoms, such as fever or cough, which are associated with COVID-19, although all four were initially isolated in neonatal intensive care units and fed formula. Three of the four tested negative for the respiratory infection following a throat swab, while the fourth child’s mother declined permission for the test. “ … we found neither SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic positivity nor immediate evidence of symptomatic COVID-19 among these infants born to symptomatic, test-positive mothers,” the investigators noted.

One newborn did experience a minor breathing issue for three days, and this was treated using non-invasive mechanical ventilation. Two babies, including the one with the respiratory problem, exhibited body rashes that eventually disappeared on their own. The team acknowledged it’s not possible to conclude whether there’s a connection between these other medical issues and COVID-19. “We are not sure the rash was due to the mother’s COVID-19 infection,” said Liu. All four infants remained healthy, and their mothers also fully recovered.

In previous coronavirus outbreaks, scientists found no evidence of viral transmission from mother to child, but SARS and MERS were both associated with “critical maternal illness, spontaneous abortion, or even maternal death,” according to Liu.

The authors said further investigations into other aspects of potential COVID-19 infection in newborns and children are needed. For example, the sensitivity of the current diagnostic test for detecting the virus is about 71%, they noted, and its reliability should be evaluated in children. “Further study for viral infection in placenta, amniotic fluid, neonatal blood, gastric fluid and anal swab, and the viral depending receptor on children will be detected in future,” they further commented.

Abortionists push online access to abortion pills amid coronavirus panic

 

(MRC-TV) Amid mass panic over the seemingly inevitable coronavirus outbreak sweeping the country, some in the abortion industry are using the widespread alarm to tout the importance of…abortion.

Why? Well, that’s unclear, given that abortion has nothing at all to do with the coronavirus. Even still, several abortionists and abortion advocates have taken to Twitter to stump for the public’s “right” to access abortion pills via telemedicine (i.e., an online consultation without having to physically see a doctor).

Dr. Dustin Costescu, an OBGYN, associate professor and “sexual medicine specialist” at McMaster University, tweeted that “self-managed abortion is safe” and “avoids in person appointments,” inexplicably predicting that telemedicine abortion “will be necessary to address the increased incidence of unintended pregnancies that will result from self-quarantine.”

Dr. Dustin Costescu@BirthControlDoc

is a good time to remind you that Self-Managed abortion is safe, avoids in person appointments, and will be necessary to address the increased incidence of unintended pregnancies that will result from self-quarantine.

After claiming that at-home abortions via the abortion pill are “safe,” Costescu seemingly contradicted himself by adding that “Systems need to be prepared to respond to possible complications from failed self-management, including ectopic pregnancy and bleeding.”

Dr. Dustin Costescu@BirthControlDoc

Pregnant patients with low risk of ectopic pregnancy and with reasonable certainty of their last period being within 8 weeks can safely use mifepristone followed by misoprostol with over 95% probability of successful completion without medical intervention.

Dr. Dustin Costescu@BirthControlDoc

Systems need to be prepared to respond to possible complications from failed self-management, including ectopic pregnancy and bleeding.

But abortion by telemedicine or self management are safe and effective strategies to reduce visits during the outbreak.

15 people are talking about this
“But,” he simultaneously said, “abortion by telemedicine or self management are safe and effective strategies to reduce visits during the outbreak.”

Dr. Daniel Grossman, another vocal abortionist with a large Twitter following, retweeted Costescu’s statements, adding that the coronavirus is “a reminder of why we must expand telemedicine to patients, including for medication abortion.”

“Patients should have access to healthcare, whether they are able to make it to the clinic or not,” he wrote. “Self-managed abortion and telemedicine can ensure they receive care.”

This is also a reminder of why we must expand telemedicine to patients, including for medication abortion. Patients should have access to healthcare, whether they are able to make it to the clinic or not. Self-managed abortion and telemedicine can ensure they receive care. https://twitter.com/BirthControlDoc/status/1237177485336416258 

Dr. Dustin Costescu@BirthControlDoc

#COVID2019 is a good time to remind you that Self-Managed abortion is safe, avoids in person appointments, and will be necessary to address the increased incidence of unintended pregnancies that will result from self-quarantine.

The drug centers on two drugs. Mifepristone, or “Mifeprex,” is a synthetic steroid. When taken in conjunction with misoprostol, the combination carries a 95 percent success rate of forcing a woman’s body to miscarry. Because of its function, it’s recommended that the drug only be taken up until the 10th week of pregnancy. The roughly five percent of children who survive the process are at much greater risk of birth defects.

While abortion supporters say the medication carries a low risk of complications, the FDA warns against women with certain conditions taking these drugs, as side effects can include uncontrolled bleeding that requires surgery, sepsis, flu-like symptoms and even death. The FDA added it has “received reports of serious adverse events in women who took Mifeprex, including “one case of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal; and a single case of non-fatal heart attack.”

Editor’s Note: This article was published at MRC-TV and is reprinted here with permission.

‘Game changer’: High school students see the miracle of life through live ultrasounds

 

A pro-life ministry in Omaha, Nebraska, has found an innovating new way to reach the next generation. Heart of a Child Ministries has been using ultrasounds to show people the humanity of preborn children within the womb. Founded by Bernie and Nikki Schaefer in 2012, the ministry offers ultrasound presentations, along with pro-life prayer pillows, to help build a culture of life.

One of their recent presentations at a Catholic high school was highlighted in a story in the Omaha World-Herald. Haley Lubeck, who is 24 weeks pregnant, sat for an ultrasound conducted by Angela Himmelburg, a professional sonographer who graduated from the University of Jamestown and University of Nebraska Medical Center. Himmelburg narrated throughout. “Can you see the eyes?” she asked, then pointing out, “Here’s an arm right here… there’s a foot digging into the placenta.”

Focus on the Family has also used ultrasounds to try to change hearts and minds, and even hosted a live ultrasound presentation in Times Square last year. Approximately 20,000 people watched what Paul Batura, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family, described to the Omaha World-Herald as a “game-changer,” explaining that the ultrasounds serve as “a window on the womb.”

Along its ultrasound presentations, Heart of a Child Ministries also gives scientific information about fetal development. The group’s goal is to fully illustrate the indisputable humanity of children in the womb.

Each presentation is tailored to the specific age of the students attending. “My kids loved it. I felt like they did a great job explaining things at their level,” a first grade teacher said in a testimonial on the ministry’s website. A third grade teacher added, “The students were totally entranced with the presentation and the live ultrasound. The ‘props’ (seeds) made it so much easier for the kids to understand. The small groups were phenomenal and explained everything so well. And who doesn’t like gifts?… rosary, baby, brochures. Wow! So awesome! GREAT presentation!!”

The subject of abortion is not brought up until seventh or eighth grade, in specific middle school presentations.

“Seeing the live ultrasound made me want to cry,” said Liv, a seventh-grader, in a testimonial on the website. “It is so undoubtedly amazing how something only 17 weeks old is circulating its own blood, has working organs, and continuously moves around. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat is the most amazing thing. It shows that it is more than just a lump of tissues and cells. It is a baby and it is fully alive.”

 

In addition to school presentations, the group offers presentations for adults as well, often hosted by Nikki Schaefer, who has a master’s degree in social work. Schaefer has also worked for pregnancy resource centers, as well as in art therapy and parenting groups with pregnant and parenting teens. During adult presentations, she focuses on seeing the heart of each child, and what the ministry calls “the three pro-life calls of prayer, action and truth.”

Showing young people the truth of humanity of the preborn is a unique, powerful, and positive way to help create a new generation of pro-life activists.

Could the Pill be sabotaging your success?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health

Hormonal contraceptives such as the Pill could be sabotaging women’s success, a study suggests.

Women were found to give up quicker than those who were not on contraceptives when presented with both simple and difficult problem solving tasks.

This in turn caused them to score worse, and it could have implications for their performance at school, college and work, the researchers at Texas Christian University said.

Previous research has shown a link between hormonal contraception and altered brain function in areas responsible for motivation, emotion and attention.

PhD candidate Hannah Bradshaw and colleagues set out to explore how hormonal contraceptives affect perseverance on tasks using the brain.

Studies show the ability to persevere, even if a task is challenging, can predict a person’s success in many areas of life.

However, evidence is emerging the hormonal contraceptives may negatively affect this trait.

Ms Bradshaw said:  ‘A growing body of research suggests that HC use may be associated with important structural and functional differences in brains areas important for executive function and the cognitive control of behaviour.

‘Research suggests that HC use may also have effects on women’s brain structure and function.’

The team recruited college students from a university in southern US. It compared women who had either been using a HC for two months, or off them for at least three months.

The first study asked 149 women, of which 73 were on HCs, to do a simple ‘spot the difference’ task using an image from the film Frozen.

Naturally cycling women who were not on HCs spent significantly more time on the task than women on HCs, 81 seconds compared with 67 seconds.

Analysis showed that women on HCs performed worse because they gave up quicker, the researchers said.

The second study, consisting of 175 female undergraduates, 89 of whom were on HCs, involved more challenging tasks.

First, women had to solve eight mathematical tasks with the help of a calculator.

Results show naturally-cycling women spent 97 seconds on the task compared with women on HCs who spent 78 seconds on it, who also performed worse.

Next, women unscrambled jumbled letters – an anagram – to make words. Some were ‘fake’ because they were unsolvable.

In both the real and fake anograms, women who did not take HCs spent more time trying to figure them out.

The researchers said timing how long participants took on each task relative to how well they scored was a measure of their perseverance.

Concluding their findings, the authors wrote: ‘These results suggest that HC use may affect women’s perseverance on simple and challenging tasks.’

The study did not attempt to uncover why HCs may alter cognitive performance, but Ms Bradshaw and colleagues suggested some reasons based on previous research.

HC users have been shown to have decreased connectivity in the brain’s executive control network, responsible for paying attention, organising and planning, initiating tasks, regulating emotions and keeping self-control.

Additionally, oestrogen levels, which are generally lower for HC users, are found to play a key role in hippocampal function, also involved in emotion control as well as motivation.

The authors said: ‘While additional research in humans is needed to evaluate these possible mechanisms, the current results provide compelling evidence that differences in perseverance during cognitive tasks exist between women who take HCs and those that are naturally-cycling, which can lead to decrements in performance.

‘It is, however, important to note that HC use can also aid in women’s educational attainment by allowing them to prevent unintended pregnancies, which can be an insurmountable barrier for those who wish to further their education.’

Approximately three million women in the UK take the contraceptive pill, and a further 11million women in the US use hormonal contraceptives.

10 risks of hormonal birth control that every woman should know

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In July 2019, 20-year-old Ally Givens got out of bed to use the bathroom, collapsed, and died. She was just two days shy of her 21st birthday. Her boyfriend said she fell to the floor and he quickly called 911, but Givens was unable to be revived, and died from a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots that formed when she began using the NuvaRing for birth control. Sadly, Givens isn’t alone. Many women have suffered the consequences of hormonal birth control — including death — after believing it was safe.

1. Pulmonary Embolism

Though pulmonary embolism is rare, it is deadly for one-third of the people who are not immediately diagnosed with blood clots that can move from the other parts of the body to the lungs. Combination birth control pills including Yasmin and Yaz carry a risk of pulmonary embolism, especially for women who have pre-existing factors, which they may not even realize. Even when women are told of the risk of blood clots, they may not know their complete family history or what the signs of blood clots are until it is too late. Before taking birth control, it is vital that a woman knows any family history of blood clots and it is important that she understands the symptoms so that she can get help if and when she needs it.

2. Heart Attack or Stroke

Just as with pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes can occur when blood clots form. A review of different studies found that compared to women who don’t use oral contraceptive pills, there is a 1.6-fold increased risk of a blood clot in an artery that obstructs blood flow to major organs — including the heart and brain — in women who do use contraceptive pills. The risk is twice as high for women taking pills with higher doses of estrogen.

3. Breast Cancer

The risk of developing breast cancer is greater for women who use hormonal birth control compared to women who have never used it. Higher estrogen levels are linked to birth control, and The New York Times stated that for every 100,000 women, hormonal contraception use causes an additional 13 cases of breast cancer each year. According to Cancer.gov, women who are currently using oral contraception have a 24 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. That risk declines when oral contraception use is suspended.

4. Cervical Cancer

According to Cancer.gov, women who have used oral contraception for five or more years are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer than women who have never used oral contraception. And the longer women use oral contraception, the higher the risk. One study found a 10 percent increased risk when oral contraception was used for less than five years. A 60 percent increased risk existed for women who used oral contraception for five to nine years. And the risk doubled for women using oral contraception for 10 or more years. The risk dropped after women stopped using oral contraceptives.

5. Depression

Another major side effect of hormonal birth control is depression, especially in teens. A study from Denmark found that “women taking the combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (also known as the ‘mini-pill’) were 24 percent more likely.” Teens had an 80 percent increased risk of depression when taking the combined pill and double the risk with the progestin-only pill.

6. Alterations in the Brain

Research released in 2019 found that women using birth control pills had “significantly smaller hypothalamus volume” compared to women who do not take the pill. The hypothalamus is at the base of the brain and is responsible for producing hormones, and helps to regulate things like body temperature, mood, appetite, sex drive, sleep cycles, and heart rate. The study also found greater anger and symptoms of depression among women using hormonal birth control.

7. Implant Migration

Implanted birth control is a long-acting device put into a woman’s body; however, in some cases, these devices can migrate in the body, even breaking into pieces that move in separate directions. A study from July 2019 shared the story of a 31-year-old woman whose birth control implant migrated from her arm to her lung. Another woman suffered major health issues when her IUD migrated from her uterus to her stomach, then to her liver, and then broke into as many as five pieces. She developed sepsis after surgery, eventually had to have her ovaries and uterus removed, and lost her toes.

8. Increased Risk of HIV

Hormonal contraception, most notably the injectable birth control Depo-Provera, has been linked to an increased risk of HIV transmission. This is said to be due to biological changes caused by hormonal birth control, including changes to the cells that line the vagina and cervix.

9. Infertility

The use of hormonal birth control carries an increased risk of short-term infertility among women who take birth control for two years or longer. Fifty-four percent of women who try to become pregnant after using condoms as birth control delivered a baby within a year, compared to just 32 percent of women who used hormonal birth control. Women who used an IUD for more than six years had the highest rate of infertility.

10. Rare Brain Tumors

A Danish study found that the use of hormonal birth control can increase a woman’s risk of developing a rare type of brain cancer called a glioma. Women under age 50 who were diagnosed with glioma “were 90 percent more likely to have been using hormonal contraceptives for five years or more, compared with women from the general population with no history of brain tumor,” according to the study leader Dr. David Gaist. The risk appeared to rise according to the length of time women were on birth control.

Unfortunately, these are just some of the risk factors that are associated with the use of hormonal contraception. For decades, women have been told that hormonal birth control is safe and has remained ill-informed of the risks to their health as well as the risk of unintended abortion that can be caused by birth control.

Birth Control in Teens – Why Not? The Breast Cancer Link

https://www.drsusancaldwell.com/post/birth-control-in-teens-why-not-the-breast-cancer-link

By Dr. Susan Caldwell

In the last post, we explored how the hormones in birth control interfere with the normal process of maturation of the reproductive system in a teen girl. Doctors may have good intentions when they prescribe these medications, but most do not realize the potential harmful effects that may develop as a result of taking this medication, such as significantly increasing the risk of breast cancer later in life. For this and many other reasons, we must be cautious when considering prescribing birth control to teens.

There is no disputing the fact that the hormones found in the birth control pill are classified as carcinogens. Not just mild carcinogens but the most dangerous type – Group 1 carcinogens[1]. This is the same category where you would find nicotine and asbestos. The hormones in birth control increase the risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancers. The link between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer is significant. I was skeptical when I first heard this until I studied the mechanisms by which this can occur.

Breast cancer is an epidemic in the United States. One in every 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. The incidence of breast cancer has significantly increased in the last 50 years since the birth control pill was introduced. Although there are many factors that have likely contributed to this increased incidence, we must consider birth control as to be a major contributor given its effect on breast tissue. Many newly diagnosed breast cancer patients have told me on the first visit after their diagnosis, quite defensively, that they could no longer take any hormonal contraceptives due to the breast cancer diagnosis. They frequently lamented that they took birth control pills in the first place.

Whether a woman’s breast cancer risk is increased by hormonal birth control or not depends on when in her life she is exposed to the hormones in birth control.

Let’s look at the natural process of breast maturation. Prior to a woman’s first full-term pregnancy, her breast tissue remains in a very immature, fragile stage of development. At this stage, her breast tissue is much more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of birth control. For example, the estrogen-like component in hormonal birth control (ethinyl estradiol) mimics natural estradiol but is not the same hormone; therefore, its effects on the breast, and other organs, are different, and in many cases, toxic. All hormones are not created equal, remember.

credit: Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Breast tissue becomes fully mature during pregnancy/breastfeeding, and only then becomes much less vulnerable to carcinogens compared to the breasts of adolescent girls. Breast tissue is made of lobules, where milk is made, and ducts, the passageways through which milk flows to the nipple. Consider the analogy of an oak tree. When an oak tree is young, its leaves and branches are tiny and vulnerable to damage from storms. However, when that tree is decades older, it is much more likely to withstand the weather. Breasts are similar in that over time, maturation occurs so that breast tissue is much more resilient and less likely to be harmed by carcinogens. For a woman, this maturation occurs when she becomes a mother during pregnancy due to the continued high levels of estradiol, progesterone, and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormones. The further the woman’s first pregnancy continues, the more mature (cancer resistant) the breast tissue becomes.

Interestingly, if a pregnancy is terminated (by abortion or pre-term delivery) before the breast tissue has become significantly mature (at about 32 weeks gestation), her risk of developing breast cancer increases. If a pregnancy is interrupted by abortion or pre-term delivery, the natural process of tissue maturation is suspended and the developing cells are then more vulnerable to carcinogens. [2]

You may have heard that women who have never been pregnant are at higher risk of breast cancer. This makes since if you understand the process of breast tissue maturation. These women have breast tissue that has remained in an immature state that is more susceptible to carcinogens.

Bottom line: Having babies is good for breasts, birth control is not.

If you would like to read more about this topic, here are some resources:

Book – Breast Cancer: Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill by Chris Kahlenborn, MD

Website – Breast Cancer Prevention Institute – www.bcpinstitute.org

[1]https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/general-info/known-and-probable-human-carcinogens.html

[2]Breast Cancer: Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill by Chris Kahlenborn, MD

Birth Control in Teens – Why not? Part 1

https://www.drsusancaldwell.com/post/birth-control-in-teens-why-not-part-1

Dr. Susan Caldwell

In recent years, the birth control pill has become a very common medication prescribed to adolescent girls for a number of apparently good reasons. It appears to help with irregular periods, acne, ovarian cysts, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, and (of course) pregnancy prevention. I took birth control as a teen and I prescribed birth control to teens – until I stepped back to consider what this medication is actually doing to these girls. In medical school and residency, I was taught that this was a rather innocuous medication that may have some side effects but I was told that the side effects were rare and that the benefits of birth control outweighed the risks. This is simply not true. Let’s take a look at why.

In this post, we will consider the physiology of a teen girl’s developing reproductive system and how the hormones in birth control disrupt this development. This is the case whether we are using birth control to “treat” a symptom or to prevent pregnancy.

Mothers of teens should be well informed before making the decision to allow their daughters to take birth control.

My hope is that this information would be used to help make better decisions.

In the years after a woman’s first period, her body is working hard to establish healthy communication between the brain and the ovaries that is critical to healthy ovulation. There are two glands in the brain – the hypothalamus and pituitary – that are trying to connect to the ovaries via hormone messengers in order to direct the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone each cycle through the process of ovulation. Think of this as a sort of symphony. Just like an actual symphony, it takes time and practice in order to get it right. This practice can take up to ten years in adolescents in order to establish a healthy system of brain-ovary communication that results in regular periods and healthy hormone production. The idea is that by the time the system is perfected, the woman might have gotten married and then, if everything works well, a baby might be welcomed sooner or later.

As a result of normal process of maturation, it is normal for girls to have irregular periods during their teen years. They may bleed too frequently or too infrequently. Either way, moms get worried and bring their girls to the doctor. Doctors might be too busy to explain the information above so they quickly offer a prescription of birth control to “regulate” the periods. The problem is that the pill does not fix the problem. Instead, it suppresses the “symphony” that simply needs time and practice to perfect itself. In most cases, irregular periods in teens are simply due to an immature hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. In some cases, irregular periods are caused by a disease process such as an eating disorder, thyroid disease, a benign pituitary enlargement, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and/or other problems. Either way, the answer IS NOT to shut down the ovaries. We should look for a solution and support the HPO axis in the meantime.

This is my approach to irregular periods in teens:

1. Listen to the teen and her mother. I ask about her diet, sleep habits, stressors and family history of period/fertility problems.

2. If there are any worrisome symptoms – very heavy periods, severe cramps, etc., then I may order tests or I may prescribe natural progesterone to aid the HPO axis as it struggles to get healthy (this really works). We talk about possible causes for her symptoms such as endometriosis or PCOS. Sometimes I recommend supplements or pain relievers that have been researched to be effective for certain symptoms.

3. I ask the teen to start tracking her periods using an app on her phone or paper calendar.

4. I explain to her how her reproductive system works and how she can help it to function well so that she will feel her best.

5. Together with mom, we come up with a personalized strategy to help ease this most beautiful (but challenging) transition from girl to woman.

If you would like to learn more about restoring cycles (and treating other problems) without birth control, I highly recommend the book Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, ND.

What about using birth control in teens for, well, birth control? I can’t wait to share my thoughts on that in future posts but for now consider this fact:

Hormonal birth control is the only medication in the history of medicine that is given to a healthy person with the intention of making them unhealthy.

Sounds crazy, right? A woman who is ovulating normal is healthy (remember the symphony analogy?). The hormones in birth control are designed to deliberately disrupt this state of health. This disruption causes dysfunction in the woman – physically, emotionally and relationally. Stay tuned for more…

After two abortions and a tubal ligation, I hit rock bottom. I know abortion isn’t empowering.

 

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest submission are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Live Action or Live Action News.

As a pro-life activist, I have watched young women walk into abortion facility doors, and I weep, knowing when they walk out, they will no longer be the same. It might not happen immediately, but a change occurs. As the hole in the heart left by the lost baby grows larger, the soul darkens, and hope begins to evaporate.

How do I know?  I’ve been there. Twice. It was not long after Roe v. Wade became law that I had my first abortion. I was career-oriented and a die-hard, left-wing feminist. I believed the rhetoric about abortion being a source of empowerment – the power to choose what happens to my own body.

During what I now call my “dark days” (post-abortion), I made very bad choices… many of them encouraged by my best friend,  alcohol. Booze was a convenient way to mask all my emotions, especially the guilt and shame of my abortions.

Those choices caused many losses back then — relationships (including two marriages), respect of my family and friends, and a successful career in the government. But the most grievous loss was my fertility. Of all, this was the one that had the most impact.

You see, at the age of 30, I convinced a doctor to give me a tubal ligation. I lied to myself, saying I didn’t want to have any children, but the truth was I felt I didn’t deserve to have any. The guilt and shame of killing my two precious babies resulted in my never being able to conceive again.

I ended up a broken, drunk, and barren woman – because I believed abortion would empower me.

I eventually hit a suicidal bottom and ended up in a mental hospital. When I entered the facility, the psychiatrist asked me why I wanted to die, and for some reason, the first time in decades, I told the truth. I was already dead inside and wanted to finish the job. Through therapy and subsequent alcohol rehab, my head began to clear, but for some reason, I still felt empty, and it remained that way for many years … even with sobriety and continued therapy.

It wasn’t until I began going to church and heard a woman speak about how her abortion affected her life that I was able to connect the dots. I was still carrying regret and shame of my abortions and mourning the deaths of my babies and fertility.

I attended a healing retreat not long after and was able to come to terms with what I had done and finally understand why I sabotaged so much in my life and why my heart was still in pieces. After the retreat, I felt almost whole again. The pieces of my heart were put together by acknowledging my babies’ existence and welcoming them into my life, but the abortions still haunt me and probably always will. I also chose to see my tubal ligation as a blessing that brought me a son through foster care adoption, but the thought of never experiencing carrying a baby to term and giving birth still stings.

I can’t turn back the hands of time. All I can do is speak out and make it abundantly clear: abortion is far from empowering. It’s “unpowering.” It strips power from within and replaces it with years of guilt, shame, and self-loathing, and I want to prevent others from experiencing it all.

Bio: Patti J. Smith is the Assistant Director of Rachel’s Hope Healing Ministry and Regional Coordinator of ACTheals.

Promotion of contraception and condoms teens and children as young as 10

BALTIMORE, Maryland, March 3, 2020 (Lepanto Institute) — Following a year-long investigation into Catholic Relief Services (CRS) programs and documents, the Lepanto Institute has published the first of a series of reports showing that CRS was both, directly and indirectly, involved in the promotion of contraception and condoms teens and children as young as 10. CRS is the official overseas relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the first report, the Lepanto Institute provided links and screen-captured images of CRS documents that encourage young people to use condoms whenever they have intercourse, while indicating that condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and pregnancy.

“Catholic Relief Services has long-maintained that it never promotes condom use in its programs, but these documents prove otherwise,” said Michael Hichborn, President of the Lepanto Institute. “Sadly, this isn’t even the worst of what we discovered in our year-long investigation.”

One document produced and copyrighted by CRS in 2017 says (in French), “Condom use should be correct and consistent for any occasional sexual intercourse or with a non-regular partner.” Another CRS-produced document from 2017 (also in French) says, “You can do a number of things to stay as healthy as possible … [such as] use a condom during sex to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and pregnancies” and then later adds, “For adolescents who need access to HIV prevention methods, such as condoms, it is important for them to know where to access them.”

“In March of 2019, we provided our initial findings regarding these documents to CRS officials and were promised answers,” said Hichborn. “Not only were we never provided answers, but several of the documents disappeared from the CRS.org website, while other condom-promoting documents appeared later in the year.”

A CRS-produced document that was published in December of 2019 indicates to a counselor that a core idea being taught to adolescents in a CRS-run program is, “Delaying sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, and always using a condom are good practices.”

This first report can be viewed at the link here.

“We’ll be revealing a lot more in subsequent reports, but this is one of the primary reasons we’re asking bishops of the United States to withdraw their support for CRS until there is an independent, third-party investigation of CRS, and CRS is forbidden from receiving federal money,” said Hichborn.

The petition asking bishops to withdraw their support from CRS can be found at the link here.

Published with permission from the Lepanto Institute.

Scientists Defend Using Body Parts From Aborted Babies in Their Experiments

MICAIAH BILGER

Some scientists are not happy with the Trump administration for restricting the use of aborted baby body parts in their taxpayer-funded research.

Talking with The Scientist recently, they complained about the impact of the policy changes on their experiments, funding and future.

“The fetal tissue that we’re talking about—if we don’t use it for research, it will be discarded,” said University of California San Diego scientist Lawrence Goldstein, who sometimes uses aborted baby parts in his research. “That’s the choice. Discard the fetal tissue in the trash, or use it for valuable research.”

But that “tissue” comes from human beings, unborn babies whose lives were destroyed in abortions. Some states, prohibited from banning abortions under Roe v. Wade, are trying to at least provide dignity to aborted babies in death by requiring a proper burial or cremation.

The Trump administration also has been working to restore dignity to the unborn child by ending the unethical practice of using aborted baby body parts in taxpayer-funded research. Earlier this month, it announced the formation of a new ethics board to oversee the matter within the National Institutes of Health. Last summer, the NIH introduced new requirements for taxpayer-funded research grants, including detailed explanations from scientists about why they want to use tissue from aborted babies rather than ethically-obtained materials.

The rules apply to tissue and cell lines taken from baby parts from elective abortions only; human tissue donated from miscarried babies and other ethical sources are not subject to the rules.

Microbiologist Carolyn Coyne at the University of Pittsburgh expressed frustration about the future. She told The Scientist that she uses cells from aborted babies to study how viruses penetrate the placenta, but she is concerned about future funding for her research.

“It’s impacted almost all of the facets of the lab,” Coyne said.

Some scientists, like Thomas Reh, a biologist at the University of Washington, have found private donors to fund their research, according to the report. But other scientists noted that not all private foundations will fund research using aborted baby body parts either.

In California, politicians are trying to counteract the Trump policies with their own funding. According to the report: “In California, the state’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has provided funding for stem cell studies using fetal tissue since it was founded in 2004. That fund is about to run out, but a bill that would provide $5.5 billion in funding to CIRM will come before voters in November.”

Scientists have ethical alternatives, including cells from miscarried babies and pluripotent stem cells, which do not involve destroying human lives. The Trump administration also has been investing in alternative materials. In 2018, it announced a new $20 million grant for exactly that purpose.

But Anita Bhattacharyya, a stem cell scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Waisman Center, complained that tissue from miscarried babies is harder to get and often is not intact, according to the report. Bhattacharyya has used brain tissue from aborted babies in her research on Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome, the report states.

Mana Parast, a stem cell and placental biologist at the University of California San Diego, argued that pluripotent stem cells “are fairly new and not yet broadly accepted, it is still necessary to validate them with cells from human placentas,” the report continues.

Goldstein expressed concerns about the new NIH ethics board refusing grants for research using aborted baby body parts.

“[We’ll] see whether the administration is going to act in good faith and appoint a decent ethics review committee, or if they’re going to ignore the value of the scientific and medical research that needs to be done in this area and let ideology weigh out over logic,” he said.

But ethics in research is important, and other scientists contend that aborted baby parts are not necessary in scientific studies.

“We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements. Very little research is actually being done that currently relies on abortion – derived fetal tissue,” said Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

In 2018, Sander Lee told Congress that cells from aborted babies never have been the exclusive means necessary for breakthroughs in vaccines and other medical advancements. She said parts from aborted babies have been used in research for more than a century, but “no therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissue.”

Other scientific researchers also have said aborted baby body parts are unnecessary for scientific research.

Over the past several years, the Trump administration has been listening to pro-life leaders’ pleas to stop using taxpayer funding for research using aborted baby body parts.

In December, it ended a contract between the NIH and the University of California San Francisco that was using aborted baby body parts to create “humanized mice” for medical experimentation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also is conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to “ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.”

In the past, the federal government has given hundreds of millions of dollars to fund research using aborted baby parts. Pro-life groups and conservative news outlets have been uncovering new details about government spending on this unethical research. Some of the government contracts have used tax dollars to pay for body parts of healthy, late-term aborted babies – including potentially viable unborn babies up to 24 weeks.

In 2018, a CNS News report shed light on how taxpayers’ money is being spent on these ethically troubling experiments. It exposed the NIH contract with University of California San Francisco for aborted body parts to conduct experiments involving “humanized mice.”

Aborted baby body parts used in the experiments were taken from healthy, later-term unborn babies. According to the report, the aborted babies were 18 to 24 weeks gestation from “women with normal pregnancies before elective termination for non-medical reasons.” Another article indicated aborted babies’ livers and thymuses also were used. They were between 20 weeks and 24 weeks gestation.

A 2017 journal article indicates researchers also used aborted babies’ intestines in their experiments.

Several years ago, the Center for Medical Progress undercover investigation raise concerns about potentially illegal sales of human body parts by Planned Parenthood. It also uncovered evidence of abortionists allegedly putting women’s lives at risk by altering abortion procedures to better harvest aborted baby parts. The investigators also found evidence of possible patient privacy violations.

Abortion Survivor Has Saved Tens of Thousands of Babies From Abortion

MICAIAH BILGER

Dr. Imre Teglasy’s life dispels the myth of “my body, my choice.”

Born in 1952 in communist Hungary, Teglasy survived multiple abortion attempts on his life. Today, he is a dedicated pro-life advocate who has helped to save tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion.

Teglasy was one of 14 abortion survivors featured in the new Faces of Choice video campaign. He recently spoke with LifeNews about his miraculous survival, his relationship with his mother and his pro-life ministry in Hungary.

His parents’ circumstances were extremely difficult in 1951 when he was conceived. Teglasy said his father had been a major in the Hungarian army during World War II, but when the communists took over, he was declared an enemy.

Teglasy said his father, mother and older brothers were removed from Budapest and forced to resettle in a poor, rural area in northern Hungary. His father struggled to find work, and the family nearly starved.

“While in this sad plight, my mother realized she was pregnant. My father did not favor the abortion, but my mother did not want to carry me to term,” he said.

Desperate, his mother tried to find a doctor willing to abort him, but abortions would not become legal until five years later. Teglasy said she tried to throw herself against a desk, took hot baths and eventually took quinine pills to attempt to induce labor. Nothing worked, and, in 1952, he was born.

The relationship between mother and son was strained, though Teglasy did not know why for many years.

“When I was a little boy of 3 years old, I kept looking for my ‘real’ mother since I could not accept … that she was my mother,” he said.

He remembered how his godmother treated him with more love and care than his birth mother did.

“As a child, I could not ask her about the strange relationship we had because I simply did not know about her abortion attempts,” he said.

Then, one day when he was about 12 years old, he accidentally overheard his father talking to a relative about the abortion attempts, Teglasy said. It was not until his mother was on her death bed, decades later, that the two finally reconciled.

“Only then at the end, I felt I could draw close to her,” he told LifeNews. “The experience of reconciliation was so bittersweet … I hope she experienced forgiveness in the sense of knowing herself guilty of serious offenses but throwing herself on God’s mercy.”

In those final moments together, Teglasy said he also realized that he had been wrong to resent his mother. At her bedside, he said he cried and asked God to forgive both of them.

Teglasy believes his life is a “miracle,” and he has dedicated it to helping others in need. He envisions a future where pregnant mothers view their pregnancies “not as burdens or curses but rather as an expecting, joyful and glorious stage of their motherhood.”

Since 1956, more than 6 million unborn babies have been legally aborted in Hungary, but were it not for Teglasy, there could have been many more.

He began working with Human Life International after meeting Father Paul Marx, the founding president of the pro-life organization, in 1992. Four years later, Teglasy formed his own pro-life organization, Alpha Alliance, which has provided support for approximately 43,000 mothers and babies to date.

Of his participation in the new Faces of Choice organization, Teglasy said he was impressed by the talent of young founder Lyric Gillett. Watch him share his story with Faces of Choice here.

“I am truly thankful to her since she, by her brilliant talent, made me and many thousands of good, willing people to understand the deeper dimensions and meaning of our own tragedies,” he said.

Faces of Choice has been helping to shed light on the reality of abortion through the stories of abortion survivors. Despite ultrasounds and other modern medical advances, Teglasy said people are still deceived by the myth of “choice.”

“We live in a time when, in spite of all the highly developed technical advances, abortionists usually turn away the screens of their ultrasound machines to conceal the reality of children before birth from the eyes of their parents,” he said.

“This means that they have fear of admitting that children before birth are real persons and faces of mankind,” he continued.

“We have the mission of encouraging all the modern followers of Doubting Thomas by saying this to them: Open your ears and hearts to the heartbeat of ours,” Teglasy said. “Put your finger on our face. Take our hands and not our lives. Touch the wounds of our bodies and souls. Stop doubting and believe.”

Doctors Offered Mother of Twins a “Selective Reduction,” But She Refused to Abort Her Babies

MARIA GALLAGHER

What drives your commitment to promoting the sanctity of innocent human life? Was there an eye-opening moment when a life-changing incident forced you to come to grips with the tragedy of abortion?

For Tracy, a candidate for the Pennsylvania state legislature, the defining moment occurred when she was pregnant.

As Tracy wrote to me, the life issue came up front and center—and she could not avert her eyes.

“This issue is very close to my heart,” Tracy noted.

“I was offered a ‘selective reduction’ when carrying my twins, based on a non-confirmed diagnosis.”

“Selective reduction.” Code words for aborting a living preborn baby, while allowing her twin to live.

Tracy would have none of it. She was determined to give birth to both her girls.

“My daughters were born at 28 weeks,” Tracy said. “Emily passed (away) shortly after birth, but we were given time to hold her and say goodbye.”

As for the other twin?

“Alyssa graduates from college in May,” Tracy stated.

This incident is just one more example of the beauty of respecting life—even when circumstances look bleak. Imagine what Tracy’s emotional pain would have been if she had agreed to the abortion? She never would have had that profound peace that came with holding her baby in her arms.

Tracy is one of the many women who courageously resist a doctor’s call to abort their offspring. They choose the path of life—and they are grateful for it. Tracy is eternally thankful that she had the opportunity to spend time with Emily…to embrace her…and to love her before the twin passed into eternity. She received a sense of closure that an abortion would not have given her.

How about you? Was there one particular incident that propelled you to defend human life? Sharing that personal story may be just what is needed to save an innocent, unrepeatable human being!

LifeNews.com Note: Maria Gallagher is the Legislative Director and Political Action Committee Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and she has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.

New analysis: Comprehensive sex ed in schools may actually be harming students

 

The review found “little evidence that [comprehensive sex education] programs are effective at producing positive impact on their participants.” Of 103 total sex education studies, only six had evidence of “real effectiveness” without negative effects after 12 months. Yet even in these six studies, there was no evidence that these six successful studies led to increased consistent condom usage, teen abstinence, fewer instances of sexually transmitted diseases, or fewer teen pregnancies. Meanwhile, 16 studies actually showed negative effects on teen sexual behavior and sexual health, including increases in teen sexual activity and other risky behaviors.

The negative behaviors found included increased pregnancies, STDs, and sexual activity including oral sex, more sex partners, increases in forced sex/rape, and increases in paid sex. Meanwhile, there were decreases in condom use. Part of the problem, according to the review, is that certain factors dealing with sexual behavior aren’t addressed in the classroom.

“[M]any factors outside the classroom influence adolescent sexual behavior — factors related to the home, peer, social media, and cultural environments,” the review noted. “Significant and lasting increases in sexual risk avoidance may be amplified by a multi-pronged prevention strategy that addresses these various factors directly.”

Comprehensive sex education, as defined by Planned Parenthood, takes place in grades K-12, and is “high quality teaching and learning about a broad variety of topics related to sex and sexuality, exploring values and beliefs about those topics and gaining the skills that are needed to navigate relationships and manage one’s own sexual health.” Organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all support comprehensive sex education in schools.

And despite the growing trend of comprehensive sex education in schools, it’s not just this one analysis that has found problems. Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the number of sexually transmitted diseases are growing, with cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reaching an all-time high. Newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis are also increasing, which the CDC says is a direct result of the STD “epidemic.”

Proper sex education is vital for young people. But comprehensive sex education may not be the answer that society has been led to believe.

New Poll Asks Catholics What They Believe About Abortion

Matt Hadro/CNA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the Catholic Church teaches that procuring an abortion is always immoral, a majority of U.S. Catholics do not believe abortion is intrinsically evil and say it should be legal in all or most cases.

According to a RealClear Opinion Research poll sponsored by EWTN and published on Monday, 47% of Catholics in the U.S. believe abortion is “intrinsically evil,” while a 53% hold otherwise.

A majority — 51% — say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 31% saying it should be legal except for late-term cases and 20% saying it should always be legal.

The poll of 1,512 Catholic registered voters was conducted between Jan. 28 – Feb. 4, 2020, and surveyed U.S. Catholic opinion on a range of subjects, including political affiliation, preferred presidential candidate, the morality of abortion, and religious practices.

U.S. Catholics were slightly less likely to support legal abortion than Americans overall. According to 2019 Gallup polling, 25% of Americans think abortion should be “legal under any circumstances,” while 20% of Catholics take that position, according to Monday’s poll.

But while 21% of Americans believe abortion should be “illegal in all” circumstances according to the Gallup poll, only 11% of Catholics think so.

Michael New, a visiting professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America, told CNA that religious practice, not self-identification, is the strongest predictor of opinions on abortion.

“What is a much stronger predictor” for Catholics, he said, is “attendance at Mass.”

Among Catholics attending Mass at least weekly, the majority, 55%, answered that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

More than one-third of weekly Mass-goers, 35%, said abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or “to save the mother’s life.” Twenty percent said that abortion should always be illegal. Meanwhile, 20% of weekly Mass-goers said abortion should be legal in all cases, and 22% said it should be legal except for late-term cases.

Among Catholics who say they accept everything the Catholic Church teaches, and that their lives reflect Church teaching, a substantial number 27% said that abortion should be legal in all cases, and 15% said it should be legal except in cases of late-term abortion. A majority said that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

While they remain divided on the question of the legality of abortion, a far greater number of Catholics in who attend Mass weekly or say they accept everything the Catholic Church teaches also believe abortion to be “intrinsically evil,”

More than seven-in-ten Catholics, 71%, who say they accept all the Church’s teachings believe abortion is intrinsically evil. 66% of “weekly-plus” Mass attendees answered the same way—far more than the 47% of Catholics overall who answered this way.

“The term ‘intrinsically evil’ isn’t used all that much” in society, New told CNA, and thus this term might seem “unnecessarily harsh” to describe abortion if Catholics are not well-versed in the language of moral theology.

Catholics of other demographics did not vary with great significance in their answers on the morality of abortion. Catholics of generations X, Y, and Z were only slightly less likely than Catholics of the Boomer and Silent generations to believe abortion is intrinsically evil.

Hispanic Catholics offered perspectives on abortion similar to Catholics overall; 21% said abortion should be legal in all cases, and 32% said it should be legal except in late-term cases. Only 48% said abortion is intrinsically evil.

Beliefs about abortion vary significantly among political party affiliations. Catholics identifying as Republicans were more likely to say abortion is intrinsically evil, with 63% answering thus. In this subset, only 37% said it should be legal all or most of the time while 61% said it should be illegal all or most of the time.

Two-thirds of Catholics identifying as Democrats said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to just 37% of Republicans. Meanwhile, just 36% of Democratic Catholics said that abortion is intrinsically evil, compared to 63% of Republican Catholics who said it is.

New study: Higher number of sexual partners linked with increased cancer risk

February 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – People who had more sexual partners throughout their life have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

“Compared to women who reported one partner or none, those who reported 10 or more were 91% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer. Similarly, men with 10 or more partners were 64% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer compared to men with one partner or none,” Reuters reported on the findings of the study.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, an international organization that defends the family, was not surprised by the results of the study.

“Goodness! A big expensive study to tell us that having multiple sexual partners is unhealthy! Who knew? I’ll tell you who knew: Your grandma, the Church and what used to be called ‘common sense,’” she remarked to LifeSiteNews.

Morse is also the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along.

Lee Smith, one of the co-authors of the study, speculated on the reason for the higher risk in women. “This may be because the link between certain [sexually transmitted infections] and cancer is stronger in women, such as HPV and cervical cancer, compared to HPV and penile cancer,” she told WebMD.

The study was based on data provided by 2,537 men and 3,185 women over 50 who had participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. This study tracks a certain number of people for a longer time, creating a better opportunity to observe changes in the participants.

As the study published by BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health explains, the participants stated the number of sexual partners during their lifetime. They also provided “self-rated health and self-reported limiting long-standing illness, cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke.”

Reuters broke down the numbers: “Among men, 29% reported one or zero sexual partners, 29% had two to four, 20% had five to nine and 22% reported having 10 or more. Among women, just under 41% had one or zero sexual partners, 36% reported two to four partners, 16% reported five to nine partners and 8% said they had 10 or more.”

“Indeed, a higher number of sexual partners means greater potential exposure” to sexually transmitted infections, the director of research at the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in England summarized.

While the study shows an association, it cannot prove that having more sexual partners throughout life directly causes a greater likelihood of having cancer. However, a more promiscuous lifestyle often goes hand in hand with other behaviors known to increase the risk of cancer.

“Those who reported a higher tally of sexual partners were more likely to smoke, drink frequently, and do more vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis,” inews wrote.

Pro-abstinence organization Love Facts offers a chart that allows people to calculate the extent of their sexually transmitted disease (STD) exposure based on their number of sexual partners. According to the chart, a person who had 10 sexual partners, each of whom also only had 10 partners, will have been potentially exposed to the STDs of 1,023 others.

Robert Edwards, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Reuters that “smoking and alcohol consumption amplify the risk for cancer with certain sexually transmitted diseases.”

Lee Smith emphasized the need for using “appropriate protection,” reducing “the risk of related cancers going forward.”

However, STDcheck.com, a service that facilitates STD testing, explains that many STDs can be transmitted even if a condom is used during intercourse. The website lists, among others, HPV, genital herpes, syphilis, and pubic lice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency and the leading national public health institute of the United States, is equally cautious.

“However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.”

Morse provided different advice. “As a happily married woman, I have an ‘active sex life,’ but absolutely zero ‘risky encounters.’ These researchers should be telling people to get married, stay married and only have sex with the person you are married to. That would solve a lot of problems, including health problems.”

Attention Pro-Life Americans: Keep Fighting and Praying to End Abortion

FATHER FRANK PAVONE   FEB 19, 2020

LifeNews Note: Priests for Life recently hosted a meeting with pro-life leaders and activists. They released the following statement to encourage pro-life Americans to continue fighting and praying to end abortion:

A Statement of Encouragement for the Pro-life Movement

Having gathered in Titusville, Florida for a national strategic summit meeting, we, as leaders in the pro-life movement, want to issue a word of encouragement and a call to action.

The year 2020 brings us to a momentous and pivotal point in the effort to end abortion and to restore protection to children in the first nine months of their lives, as well as to protect vulnerable people from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing another case regarding abortion. The outcome of this case could make it easier for the states to protect mothers from the devastating actions of an unregulated and unscrupulous abortion industry.

We call on our brothers and sisters in this movement to inform themselves about this case, discuss it with others, and pray for a favorable outcome. Many members of Congress have expressed to the Court their support for the pro-life side of this case, and we should thank those who have done so. Numerous mothers who suffer from a past abortion have also let their voices be heard in this case; we should listen to and spread their testimonies to all our fellow citizens.

This year 2020 also brings us to national, state and local elections which will shape our courts for decades to come, decide the fate of tens of millions of children, determine whether we will continue to fund the abortion industry, and impact how much longer it will take to end the violence of abortion in our land.

We urge our fellow citizens to be active and informed voters, to see the right to life as the most fundamental electoral issue, and to educate and mobilize other voters to do the same. Likewise, we urge everyone to pray for our nation as we elect our leaders.

Thanks to the perseverance, faith, and tireless efforts of a very large and diverse pro-life movement for five decades, we have saved countless lives, changed countless minds and healed countless hearts. We have passed numerous laws, prevented the abortion industry from doing even more damage than it has done, and brought our nation closer to the fulfillment of its creed of equal justice under law.

Grateful for all these efforts, we look forward to our continued progress and encourage all in our movement to redouble their efforts on behalf of our youngest brothers and sisters and their mothers, and to redouble their confidence that those efforts will succeed.

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director
Priests for Life

Janet Morana
Executive Director
Priests for Life

Evangelist Alveda King
Civil Rights for the Unborn
Priests for Life

Jor-El Godsey
President
Heartbeat International

Bradley Mattes
President
Life Issues Institute

Kristan Hawkins
President
Students for Life of America
Students for Life Action

Allan E. Parker, Jr.
President
The Justice Foundation

Thomas Glessner
President
National Institute of Family and Life Advocates

Joe Langfeld
Human Life Alliance

Shari Richard,RDMS
Unborn.com

Connie Eller, Founder
Missouri Blacks For Life

Joel Brind, PhD
Member, Medical Advisory Council
Heartbeat International

Rev. Arnold M. Culbreath
Director of Ministry Engagement
Douglass Leadership Institute

Larry Cirignano
Children First Foundation

Chris Slattery
Founder and President
Expectant Mother Care-EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers

John J Jakubczyk
Southwest Life & Law Center

Bryan Kemper
President – Stand True Youth Pro-life Outreach

Ann Lauren Rooney Morris
Florida Director
National Life Chain

Matthew and Cathy Connolly
Red Rose Rescue

Jeff White
Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust

Cheryl Conrad
Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust

JoAnn Gerling
Coalition on Abortion and Breast Cancer

Rev. Patrick Mahoney
Christian Defense Coalition

Dr. Michael New
Pro-life Researcher

Brendan H. O’Connell
Life Matters TV and Media, Inc.

Elise Rose
United Prayer Vigils for Life

Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Chris Slattery
Expectant Mother Care

Brandi Swindell
Stanton International

Removing My IUD Removed My Depression

https://naturalwomanhood.org/removing-my-copper-iud-removed-my-depression-and-saved-my-life-2020/

by Szilvia

My name is Szilvia. I am a 40-year-old quality manager and mother of two little children, living in Germany.

Not long ago, I found the Natural Womanhood site when searching birth control side effects while on the copper IUD. I found so much important information on the copper IUD and copper toxicity in an article by Kathleen Taylor, who cited the podcast of Julie Casper on the topic.

I can say from lived experience that what was published in that article is 100 percent true.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, taking charge of your fertility, know more about your body, understanding fertility, understanding fertility health, improving fertility health, improving women's health, natural birth control, IUD and depression, copper IUD and depression, copper toxicity, IUD removal, heavy bleeding, racing thoughts, palpitations

After having two children, my partner and I decided to use a non-hormonal form of birth control, and my gynecologist told me about the copper IUD. Regarding side effects, the only thing she said was that the copper IUD can cause heavier bleeding; that was the only side effect I heard. I had to undersign it that I was aware of the possibility for heavier bleeding; I received no information about other possible side effects.

A Dark Period

After the insertion of my IUD, my monthly bleeding did become heavier, but I experienced other changes as well. My period cycle became much shorter and my hair became thinner—about one-third the volume it was before. But this was not the worst of it; I experienced immense depression. I had all the symptoms: depressed mood, anger, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, rage, racing thoughts, palpitations, and suicidal thoughts.

I was prescribed pills for depression and sleep at night, but they didn’t help my depressed days.

I started to take notes about when exactly I had the worst days. A trend emerged: the days when I experienced the worst moods were precisely the days during the bleeding. It was not a dip in mood before the bleeding, as in premenstrual syndrome (PMS); instead, my worst depressive symptoms persisted for the whole length of my bleeding phase.

Once I realized the timing of my mood changes, I decided to search online to see if other women noticed this. I found reports of women all over the world who claimed the same connections between having the copper IUD and depression. It finally clicked: my depressive symptoms were a result of the IUD. Only after hearing the experiences of other women in testimonials did I see clearly enough to make the decision: I had the IUD removed, and this was the first step in my recovery.

A New Day

Now that my IUD is removed, my symptoms have completely changed: I have no mood swings, no depression at all. I wish I had never had these experiences, which almost destroyed my life and that of my family.

Thanks to articles that shed more light on this, and testimonials of women revealing their bad experiences, I can say today that I am healed.

Women need to speak up about their IUD side effects. It makes a big difference! Only by listening to women’s experiences—by spreading information, by standing up—do others have the chance for healing. Before starting my own investigation, I was never informed of any correlation between all the mentioned symptoms and the copper IUD. Here in Germany, there is not much information about the IUD and possible side effects.

I am one of the lucky ones because I got the information. Without it, I might have taken antidepressants my whole life, and I would not understand why this dark cloud became a persistent part of my life.

My experience has led me to view the pharmaceutical industry with skepticism. I no longer believe it is in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry to make us healthy—quite the contrary; it is their interest to keep us in a state that requires medication. They can sell their products, not only the IUD, but also the antidepressants and other pills we get prescribed after developing adverse symptoms.

With my copper IUD removed, I am feeling 100 percent myself again. Most importantly, my little family has their mum back, as I was before: a shining woman with a lot of energy, funny, and optimistic.

I do not wish to bring attention to myself in writing this. My aim in writing this is to warn others. We women have to stick together.

A Personal Choice Tubal Reversal Center Sponsoring the First Ever Free Tubal Reversal Surgery Contest

As of January 1st 2020, A Personal Choice Tubal Reversal Center is offering free tubal reversal surgery by sponsoring the first ever Free Tubal Reversal Surgery Contest. This opportunity to have free tubal ligation reversal surgery is the first of its kind.

Dr. Charles Monteith is a sterilization reversal surgeon who is responsible for sponsoring the contest. He is the Medical Director of A Personal Choice Tubal Reversal Center, which is a specialty surgical center located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The center exclusively offers patients affordable, outpatient sterilization reversal for both women and men. Those who enter the Free Tubal Reversal Surgery Contest will have a chance to win a sterilization reversal surgery valued at up to $8,000. Each year, Dr. Monteith will select up to four (4) lucky winners who will be eligible to win either tubal ligation reversal surgery or vasectomy reversal surgery at no cost to them. This is the first time free sterilization reversal surgery has been offered in the United States.

Tubal ligation and vasectomy are very popular forms of permanent birth control. Each year approximately 700,000 tubal ligation surgeries (female sterilizations) and up to 500,000 vasectomy surgeries (male sterilization) are performed each year in the United States. Medical research has demonstrated up to 30% of women who have tubal ligation and 10% of men who have vasectomy will regret their sterilization procedures and desire to have more children. Their options for having another child are limited to adoption, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and sterilization reversal. All of these options are expensive and none of them are guaranteed.

Adoption can cost up to $50,000 and up to 15% of adoptions will not be successful. A single cycle of IVF can cost up to $15,000 and a single IVF treatment cycle is approximately 30% successful. Sterilization reversal surgery is not guarantee but can be more successful than IVF. Sterilization reversal surgery can be up to 95% successful for men and up to 80% successful for women. Costs of sterilization reversal surgery range from $7,000 to $30,000 depending on where the surgeries are performed. Unfortunately, most health insurance plans consider surgeries to reverse self-imposed sterilization as non-essential, elective medical treatments and most plans will not cover the cost of either reversal surgery or IVF. This leaves many couples having to pay out of pocket for the treatment of their regret.

Many couples will quickly realize sterilization reversal surgery can be the most affordable option providing the best chance of pregnancy success. Despite sterilization reversal being more affordable, many who choose sterilization reversal will have to spend their life’s savings, borrow from their retirement plans, or endure high surgery financing interest rates in an effort to afford reversal surgery. Dr. Monteith continually receives requests from couples in despair because they can not afford the high cost of reversal surgery. These couples asking if he would consider performing free or probono reversal surgery on their behalf. Many will tell him they are not able to afford the surgery and inquire if there are research trials offering free infertility treatment. After years of continually receiving these request, Dr. Monteith decided he could help a few of these couples each year by sponsoring a reversal surgery contest.

Applications are already rolling in! Within the first two weeks, Dr. Monteith has already received over 800 contest entries. Some of the statements made by those entering the contest are truly heartbreaking and revealing of the many different reasons people regret their sterilization surgery.

One contestant wrote on her application, “Thank you so much for offering this contest. I lost my children in a house fire and have been emotionally devastated. I looked into IVF and was not able to afford IVF. My local fertility doctor quoted me over $20,000 for reversal surgery. Your contest is giving me hope that I can one day be a mom again.”

Another contestant wrote, “I was in an abusive relationship and the victim of domestic violence. I had my tubes tied so I would not be further trapped with my abuser by having more children with him. I have since divorced and now I am with a man who is the love of my life. He supports me, is not abusive to me, and is a real father to my children from my previous relationship. Tubal reversal surgery would allow me the chance to give him a child.”

Another entry read, “I was advised to have a tubal ligation after being diagnosed with a potentially deadly heart condition. I have never had children. My health has dramatically improved over the last 10 years. I have spent over $30,000 on three IVF treatments and have not become pregnant. Although tubal reversal may not work…at least it will give me hope and a chance…”

Although it can be easy to blame those who chose sterilization and easy to have a “that is what you get” attitude, one can easily see by reading the above comments submitted by contestants that the decision to have sterilization and the decision to reverse sterilization are influenced by many different life circumstances. Dr. Monteith has extensive experience in the field of reproduction and understands the complexity of his patient’s lives. This is why he chose to offer the first contest giving away free tubal reversal surgery and offering couples hope and a chance of becoming new parents again.

For more information and/or to enter this contest, please visit https://www.tubal-reversal.net/free-tubal-reversal-surgery-contest-applications/

For more information about A Personal Choice Tubal Reversal Center, call (919) 977-5050 or visit https://www.tubal-reversal.net:

CONTACT INFORMATION:
A Personal Choice Tubal Reversal
Dr. Charles W. Monteith, Jr., M.D.
(919) 977-5050
ContactUs@tubal-reversal.net
3613 Haworth Drive, Raleigh NC 27609

A St. Valentine’s Day Miracle

by Pat Wittkop

I received the most wonderful gift on St. Valentine’s Day a few years back. It made me so happy, I wept tears of joy. My friend Kathy and I were fulfilling our commitment to pray every Thursday outside the Planned Parenthood Center in St. Paul, Minn. We had been there about three hours.

We prayed for Kim, the pro-life sidewalk counselor with the warm smile and outstretched hand as she offered literature to a young woman, listing alternatives to abortion. We heard her say, “Hi, I’m Kim. Here’s some information for you.”

The Planned Parenthood escorts tried to distract the woman from Kim by placing themselves between her and Kim. They talked continuously to the young woman.

Nonetheless, Kim persisted: “You do have other choices. There is a Life Care Center right over there,” she said, pointing to a nearby building. The escorts brought the woman inside the clinic, and the door slammed shut.

All we could do was wait and hope that something Kim said would sink in, and that God’s grace would touch someone’s heart inside the center. Kathy and I continued to silently pray. Shortly after, three people from the Legion of Mary came by and prayed a Rosary and The Divine Mercy Chaplet.

We saw the escorts leave. This meant all the women were inside for their abortions. Soon, two women came out carrying little brown bags of medications and other things needed after an abortion.

How my heart aches when I see them come out. Many of them are alone, clutching the brown bag with one hand and holding their stomach with the other. They look sad and bewildered. There are no escorts with them when they come out.

Often, we give them a list of post-abortion counseling centers or at least shout the 1-800-WECARE number. At that number, they can talk to someone who’s had an abortion and who knows what they are going through.

On this Valentine’s Day, I dreaded the “brown paper bag” scenario. Each brown bag means a little life lost. It means a wounded mother who will grieve her lost baby and never be able to bring the child back. It means death chosen over life. It means a feeling of failure for me.

I had difficulty focusing on my prayers, feeling grief-stricken. I decided to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet again after having prayed it several times. In the middle of the prayer, the clinic door burst open. Out hurried two young women in tears. Neither carried a brown paper bag!

One got on her cell phone, sobbing as she talked: “I didn’t do it. I couldn’t go through with it.”

My heart leaped for joy, and tears fell freely as I hollered across the parking lot to her: “There is a Life Care Center right on the corner just beyond that flag. There are lots of people who want to help you.”

I stood there crying and thanking God for the women’s courage, for His grace, and for all the people I knew who were praying and fasting for the protection of the unborn. What they would give to see the miracle I saw on St. Valentine’s Day at Planned Parenthood.

Pat Wittkop is a mother of seven and a freelance writer. She volunteers as a sidewalk counselor for Pro-Life Action Ministries, St. Paul, Minn.

Pro-Life Movement Needs Its Own ‘Seamless Garment’

Jennifer Roback Morse

Committed pro-life activists are often accused of being too focused on abortion: “If you really cared about babies, you would also care about Issue X!”

True, children need many things to survive and thrive, and pro-lifers should work on those issues as well as the abortion issue. But the “Seamless Garment,” as a rhetorical strategy, is often perceived by pro-lifers as a subtle or not-so-subtle attempt to undermine them. All too often, these suspicions are well-founded. So my next statement may surprise you: The pro-life movement needs a Seamless Garment of its own. Let me explain.

The Ruth Institute conducted a survey of pro-life student opinion at the Students for Life Pro-Life Summit on Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people attended this summit the day after the 47th-annual national March for Life. Nearly 10% of the attendees stopped by the Ruth Institute booth and took our survey. Their ages ranged from 12 through 76, with an average of 28. The respondents were 71% women and 77% Catholic.

We asked them: “What other related issues concern you? Check all that apply.” Of the 305 people who answered, the following percentages flagged these issues:

  • 83% said they were concerned about euthanasia.
  • 83% said they were concerned about the decline of marriage.
  • 66% said they were concerned about contraception.
  • 59% said they were concerned about comprehensive sexuality education.
  • 50% said they were concerned about surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation.
  • 47% said they were concerned about the worldwide decline of fertility.

True enough, these are not the issues that advocates of the Seamless Garment generally mention. Back when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago popularized the Seamless Garment, the issues included government programs supporting the material needs of children.

Today, the issues are more apt to be climate change or immigration, but the subtle accusation is clear enough: “If pro-lifers really cared about children, they would care about them after birth.” So let us look at our survey of the Students for Life participants through this lens of children’s needs after they are born.

Of course, everyone knows that children need food and shelter and clothing. But children also need love. The “failure to thrive” syndrome shows that, in some way, the non-material needs of children are more important than their physical needs. Children who “fail to thrive” have their material needs met. They have food, shelter, clothing and medical care. But they do not grow. They may even die. The commonly accepted explanation for failure to thrive is that kids need more than food. They also need to be fed and nurtured, by a person who holds them, rocks them, looks into their eyes and loves them.

In other words, kids need their parents. Mom rocks the baby. Dad supports Mom while she rocks the baby. She can’t get it done alone.

I conclude that authentic care for children must include care for their need to be loved by both their parents. We should provide systematic social structures to ensure that as many kids as possible get to grow up with their own parents who love them and each other. Children have a birthright to their own parents. That means a stable relationship with their biological parents wherever possible and stable, child-centered provision for adoption where the biological parents are permanently unavailable.

What might those structures look like? Adult society affirms that people should be having sex only with the person we are married to. We get married before having sex. We stay together unless someone does something really awful. We cut out petty criticism of our spouses. We have a social norm of patiently bearing with our spouse’s faults.

In other words, the most reliable systematic plan for ensuring that kids get to have the love and attention of both their parents is lifelong married love, supported by traditional Christian sexual ethics. The respondents to our survey at the Students for Life Summit seem to be quite well aware of this. “The decline of marriage” option comes in at the top of the list of their concerns, with more than 80% support.

Two-thirds of the activists mentioned contraception as an area of concern. Only an idiot can overlook the connection between the constant promotion of the contraceptive ideology and people’s casual choices of sex partners. If you care about kids, you should make it easier, not harder, for people to make good decisions about the identity of their child’s other parent.

Nearly 60% of the respondents were concerned about comprehensive sexuality education. This, too, shows that these activists are sensitive to the needs of children. Much of what passes for sex education amounts to propaganda for the sexual revolution, inflicted on small children, too young and impressionable to defend themselves.

Schools, public and private alike, convey to children that sex is a recreational activity: They safely can partake of it, as long as they use a condom every time. This message has no place in a Seamless Garment that treasures the rights of children to their parents, and therefore demands self-control from adults.

Half the survey participants were concerned about third-party reproduction issues. Is this because children of donated sperm or eggs are cut off from one of their biological parents? Or are these respondents mainly concerned about all of the death-dealing that goes on in the infertility industry, by discarding or freezing unwanted embryos? Either way, these pro-lifers’ care for babies extends well beyond the abortion issue.

When we conceived the idea for this survey, we just wanted to get an idea of where these participants at the Students for Life Summit stood on the Ruth Institute’s issues. Viewing the results reveals something more.

The pro-life movement really has matured from a single-issue battle, fought in a single way, to a multi-issue movement. The most committed participants in the movement understand that we need to defend the rights of children and parents to be in stable relationships with each other. Children have a birthright to their parents, as well as a birthright to be born in the first place.

And this survey also shows us that we are closer than we realized to having a pro-life Seamless Garment of our own.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute. She is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and How the Church Was Right All Along. She first wrote about the failure-to-thrive syndrome in her book Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, originally published in 2001

‘Opening the door to purity and closing the door to vice’

ROME, February 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― The seventh annual Rome Life Forum will bring together pro-life, pro-family Catholics from all over the world to discuss “authentic purity” as the way to counter “attacks on human life, the family, and our faith.”

Rome Life Forum 2020 will take place on May 20-21, introducing two more days of pro-life activities leading up to the 10th annual Rome March for Life on May 23. The Forum will be held in the world-famous Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.

The theme this year is “Opening the door to purity and closing the door to vice.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Willem Eijk, and prior emeritus of the Monks of Norcia, Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, will be among the speakers.

Another of this year’s speakers, John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LifeSiteNews that this international gathering is a “unique opportunity” for Catholic pro-life leaders to gain strength from one another.

“The Rome Life Forum provides leaders within the pro-life and pro-family movement, united in their love for the Church, with a unique opportunity to strengthen one another in fidelity to the truth, and in working to restore a truly Christian civilization worldwide,” Smeaton told LifeSiteNews.

SPUC’s chief executive noted that Forum participants have come from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Poland, the Philippines, Romania, Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Albania, Malta, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, India, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Hungary as well as other countries.

“One thing which unites us all is a clear understanding that the pro-life movement cannot win the pro-life and pro-family battle on their own,” Smeaton said.

“The Church must recover her teaching authority to save her children. And at this time of trial, the faithful at all levels of the Church Militant must mobilise to fight for her.”

Rome Life Forum a ‘foretaste’ of heaven

Past speaker Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, told LifeSiteNews that going to the Rome Life Forum is like a “foretaste” of heaven.

“I’ve been to the Rome Life Forum every year since 2014, and each one is better than the last,” he said enthusiastically.

“It’s like a mini-retreat for me, and the reunion of so many good friends is like a foretaste of the reunion we’ll enjoy for eternity in heaven.”

Hichborn said “the wonderful thing” about the Roman Forum is that anyone can attend ― and all faithful Catholic should.

“Those Catholics who wish to have a solid understanding of the current rebellion in the Church should attend,” he said.

“Over the course of three days, faithful Catholics will not only be able to hear brilliant presentations, but have one-on-one access to various Catholic leaders from around the world.”

‘A wonderful sense of fellowship’

Canadian Catholic journalist Deborah Gyapong told LifeSiteNews that the Forum is an excellent networking opportunity.

“Nowhere else have I experienced such an international gathering of pro-life and pro-family leaders and experts from as far away as New Zealand, from all over Europe and the UK, and from North and South America,” Gyapong said.

“There is a wonderful sense of fellowship and joy at the Forum, a gathering of happy warriors. For me as a journalist, it was a forge for ideas and source of contacts.”

Gyapong told LifeSiteNews that she believes the Rome Life Forum is a “huge encouragement and chance to share victories and strategies” for pro-life leaders and activists.

“For young people who attend, it’s a great chance to find mentors.”

Margaret Akers of SPUC Scotland is one of the younger pro-life leaders participating in the Rome Life Forum 2020. She told LifeSiteNews that she very much enjoyed talks given last year by Fr. Linus Clovus and Cardinal Raymond Burke, both of whom will be speaking again at the Forum this May.

“I was particularly struck by the talk given by Fr. Linus Clovis, who spoke beautifully about the role of Our Lady in the Church and our lives; it was incredibly moving,” Akers said.

“I am always pleased to hear Cardinal Burke and last year’s conference was no exception,” she added.

He framed patriotism and commitment to one’s ‘fatherland’ in a way one doesn’t often hear in an age of globalism, and it was inspiring.”

Akers said she believes this year’s theme, “Opening the door to the virtue of purity,” is particularly necessary today.

“I look forward to hearing how each of the speakers chooses to expand on this topic,” she said.

Dr. Joseph Shaw, chairman of the UK’s Latin Mass Society, will be speaking at the Roman Life Forum for the first time this year. While pondering the theme of purity, Shaw told LifeSiteNews that intellectual honesty is key.

“It is very evident today that much thinking about theology and morality is conditioned by the need to justify certain conclusions — conclusions justifying or permitting lifestyle choices which one does not wish to confront or reconsider honestly,” Shaw said.

“Whether the problem arises from one’s own past decisions, or those of people one loves, or those accorded value by one’s circle, true intellectual honesty is a real risk, an adventure in which one faces the possibility of losing friends, status, and career.”

Shaw said intellectual work that is constrained by these worldly considerations is “worthless.”

“We must rediscover our love of the truth, and a true commitment to it, because it is in the truth that we find God, who is Truth, and not in some sordid intellectual compromise,” he concluded.

‘The food is always great at the Forum’

A five-day trip to Rome uses up one’s vacation time, but Gyapong argued that the location and the price of the Rome Life Forum have been right.

“The food is always great at the Forum,” the journalist said.

“The price is really modest, and you can’t beat the location ― Rome,” she added.

“Participants find opportunities to worship together at daily Mass, the city is wonderful, and the weather is just right in May. Participants in the Forum also join the Italian March for Life, another joyous occasion that has grown substantially over recent years.”

The Rome Life Forum is also a chance to make a spiritual pilgrimage. Hichborn told LifeSiteNews that his fondest memory of the Rome Life Forum is from his first trip there.

“My wife and I attended with our (then) four-month-old daughter, Maria Faustina,” he recalled.

“We landed in Rome on the very day St. Faustina was being canonized, and we happened to walk into the church where St. Catherine of Siena is buried. We were able to actually touch her tomb and pray there. While we were at the Forum, Cardinal Raymond Burke gave a blessing to all three of us. For me, this memory will always signify what the Rome Life Forum is.”

The full price of the Roman Life Forum registration is £110/€130 (approx. $143 US). A one-day ticket is £65/€75 (approx. $84 US). To register and see the complete schedule, please visit voiceofthefamily.com.

Together, baby; forever, baby

Kristin Collier

The science of pregnancy gets more and more fascinating. To think of the mother simply ‘hosting’ her baby is so, well, 1973. What’s going on in the womb is really a marvelous co-operative venture that may last a lifetime, as Dr Kristin Collier, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, explains in the following interview with MercatorNet.

* * * * * *

MercatorNet: For most of us, Pregnancy 101 means there’s a baby developing inside the mother, attached to the placenta by the umbilical cord. And, thanks to ultrasound and the photographs of Lennart Nilsson, we know what that looks like. But there’s a lot more to this inside story, isn’t there – could we start with the placenta?

Dr Kristin Collier Yes! There is so much more to the “inside story.” Since you asked about the placenta, let’s spend some time exploring this organ, as part of the “inside story.” The placenta is amazing. Why you might ask? Well, for one, it is the only organ made in cooperation by two people. It is made from the growing baby’s tissue and the mother’s tissue together. Therefore, the placenta is known as a ‘feto-maternal’ organ. It is the first time that mother and baby come together to do something in cooperation.

The placenta, as many of your readers know, is the organ through which the baby and mother interface. This name ‘placenta’ is derived from the Latin word for a type of cake, as it is a flat organ and averages about a pound in weight. It is attached to the wall of the mother’s uterus and is connected to the growing baby by his or her umbilical cord. The placenta is the only purposely transient organ in human beings.

It also is amazing because it functions as many organs in one. The placenta helps the prenatal child get rid of waste, helps provide nutrition and also produces hormones and protects the baby against infection. The placenta is acting like a lung, kidney, gastrointestinal tract and the endocrine and immune system. Pretty amazing for this one organ to have so many important functions.

In New Zealand, the indigenous Maori people have treated the placenta with reverence, traditionally burying it in ancestral land, which reinforces a link between people and land. Their intuitions seem to prefigure the importance of “the afterbirth” that science has discovered…

This information is beautiful to hear. It sounds like these indigenous people recognized the importance of the placenta even before modern science started to take a deeper interest. As you mentioned, the placenta has long been called the ‘afterbirth’ as it is delivered after the baby. This ‘afterbirth’ often got short-shrifted in attention as an ‘afterthought’. But no longer.

In fact, the placenta is so important, that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States has a research arm dedicated to the placenta called the Human Placenta Project (HPP), and on its website says ‘The placenta is arguably one of the most important organs in the body.’ A healthy placenta is not only crucial for healthy development of the prenatal child, but also affects the health of the child and mother for years to come.

On a side note, it sounds like the Maori people were into the field of human ecology even before the field had its formal name. This is unsurprising as these fields of study are often just a way to give a formal name to something that has been there the entire time, often practiced authentically by indigenous peoples and only recently fractured by modern life and technology.

Is there more to discover about this ‘transient organ’?

Yes, there is always more to discover. One goal of the human placenta project is to better understand the placenta with the ultimate goal of improving maternal and child health. One interesting thing we know now about the placenta, although the full extent of this knowledge is not fully understood, is that along with functioning as many organs as one, there is a unique transfer of cellular material that happens across the placenta.

In science, microchimerism refers to the presence of a small population of genetically distinct and separately derived cells within an individual. In pregnancy, small amounts of cells travel across the placenta. Some of these cells are the prenatal child’s cells that travel from the baby into her mother, and some cells also pass from the mother into her child. The cells from the prenatal child into her mother are pluripotent, which means they haven’t yet differentiated into the type of cell specific for one organ or tissue in particular. These cells find their way into mother’s tissue and start acting like the tissue in which they find themselves. This process is known as feto-maternal microchimerism.

That is fascinating! In what ways can these fetal cells protect the mother in later life – or put her at risk?

Their full impact is still being understood, but some of these cells have been hypothesized to help mom in the time after birth and also for years to come. For example, these cells have been found in Caesarean sections incisions helping to make collagen to help mom heal after a surgical delivery. These cells have also been found in the maternal breast and have been hypothesized to help reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer in her later years.

The ’gift’ of these cells from the baby, entering into mom’s body and helping her heal and protecting her from cancer, is amazing to think of and really challenges our ideas of people as autonomous beings. In reality, many human beings carry remnants of other human beings in their body. These cells may even play a part in how future siblings are spaced.

What is also interesting, these cells that enter the mother are allowed to survive and are not attacked by the mother’s immune system, even though they are somewhat ‘foreign’. This again speaks to a cooperation, at the cellular level, between mother and child. And it would be one thing if these cells were inert and existed as a gift of sorts, from the child in the mother, but to think of these cells in some ways benefiting the health of the mother really speaks to a radical mutuality at the cellular level between two people that only serves to enhance our understanding of the maternal-child bond.

And what are the implications for involuntary pregnancy loss?

Miscarriage can be a devastating event in the life of both the expectant mother and father. I’ve heard from many women that they felt, even after they lost their baby, that their baby was somehow always still with them in a way. And now, through the knowledge of the science of microchimerism, we know that this is true. Many women do have the presence, in their bodies, of a biological piece of their child and this cellular material may be aiding and assisting her not only now but in the future in ways we are only beginning to understand.

Obviously this science throws new light on the abortion debate, in particular on a woman’s autonomy when it comes to ending a pregnancy. She would be ending an irreducibly cooperative venture rather than a ‘kidnap’ (as Judith Jarvis styled it) and harming herself as well, would she not?

Every dehumanizing ideology succumbs to the same temptation – to see the undesirable other as a non-person. In the abortion debate, as in similar debates around marginalized vulnerable populations, language is used when describing the undesirable other that is dehumanizing. In the abortion debate, the prenatal child is referred to as a ‘clump of cells’ or even as a ‘parasite’.

As my friend Charlie Camosy writes in his book Resisting Throwaway Culture: How a Consistent Life Ethic Can Unite a Fractured People, we must resist appeals to individual autonomy that detach us from our duty to aid others, and resist language, practices and social structures that detach us from the full reality and dignity of the marginalized. A radical view of autonomy that leads to the end of another human life is one that is anti-life and oppresses the rights of another in the name of ‘freedom’.

So yes, the language that should be used to highlight the beautiful cooperation that exists in the dyad of the mother-prenatal child relationship instead has been perverted to one that brings to mind a cancer, an infection or a crime (like a kidnapping or hostage situation). Those of us who feel called to stand up for the vulnerable and marginalized among us, should call out such language not only in the abortion discourse but also in the discourse involving other marginalized vulnerable populations.

In a world focused on avoiding pregnancy it’s not surprising that we have heard little or nothing about these amazing pregnancy facts. Are there other reasons?

That is an interesting question. I don’t know why this information isn’t more widely known. One reason is that there are so many other ‘practical’ things to know when you are pregnant that these other details of awe and wonder get marginalized.

Having had four pregnancies myself, I remember getting inundated with information around things to expect in pregnancy regarding my body – physical changes, symptoms etc. I remember reading in a book about what my baby was doing and looking like at each week of gestation, but I don’t remember getting information that exceeded the ‘practical’ domain.

Pregnancy and childbirth are wondrous, miraculous events! In my opinion, using language that reflects awe and wonder doesn’t discredit us in medicine, but only legitimizes the emotions and feelings the pregnant mother is likely already feeling.

What are the theological implications of these scientific insights, in your view?

I am not a theologian, however in talking with those who are, I’ve come to think of biology now, more generally, in a relational sense that mirrors the nature of God. The scriptures speak of a God who is in relationship with his people. We then would only expect that God, being the author of biology, would create our bodily nature in a way that was also relational – even down to the level of the cell.

And in particular, when I think of the science of fetomaternal microchimerism, I think of the theological implications of cells from the incarnate word of God, Jesus Christ, in his mother, the Virgin Mary. We can say that Mary not only carried the Son of God in her body when he was in her womb, but that she likely carried his cells in her body throughout her life in a way that further magnifies her position as the glorious Theotokos. This highlights Mary’s glorious position as the Mother of God in a way I had never thought of before.

Kristin Marguerite Collier is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School where she practices general Internal Medicine. She serves as an Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program and is the Director of the Program’s Primary Care Track. In addition, she is the Director of the University of Michigan Medical School Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. She was interviewed by Carolyn Moynihan, Deputy Editor of MercatorNet.

Harrowing film on forced abortion in China nominated ‘Best Documentary’

By Reggie Littlejohn

**CORERCTED**February 10, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – One Child Nation won the Grand Jury Award at Sundance in 2019. **It did not win Academy Award. **The film is a harrowing expose of the devastation caused by the womb police who enforced China’s One Child Policy. But the film goes beyond that. It is a scorching indictment of Communism itself.

First, a caveat. The film begins with the statement that China ended the One Child Policy in 2015, making it seem as though the film serves as a memorial to a tragic era gone by. The film does not mention, however, that forced abortion continues under the Two Child Policy. The new rule is that every couple is allowed to have two children. Single women and third children are still forcibly aborted. In its recent report, released January 8, 2020, the Congressional Executive Commission on China stated: “Local-level officials reportedly continued to enforce compliance with family planning policies using methods including heavy fines, job termination, and coerced abortion.”

The atrocities described in the film continue to this day, and the battle to stop them must continue until all coercive population control in China has ended.  We cannot explore China’s dark past and ignore China’s dark present.

Nevertheless, the film is remarkable in the intimacy of the portraits it paints, while at the same time giving rise to agonizing conclusions regarding the world’s most massive social engineering experiment gone shockingly awry.

The Chinese Communist Party has boasted that it “prevented” 400 million births through its One Child Policy. This statistic is mind-numbing, inconceivable. The filmmakers, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, shows us how this was accomplished in Wang’s village.

Wang returned to China after having given birth to her son, to learn what her family and community experienced under the One Child Policy. The interviews Wang records are heartbreaking in their candor. Here we meet the uncle who left his infant daughter in a marketplace, hoping that someone would take her in. No one did. Over several days, he watched as she slowly starved to death.

We meet the family planning official who said that women with illegal pregnancies were tied up and dragged “like pigs” for forced abortions. We see one of the local “womb police” – a midwife personally responsible for more than 50,000 forced abortions and sterilizations – who now seeks to atone for her “sins” by helping infertile couples conceive. We meet the artist who, devastated at finding full-term babies in trash heaps, lovingly preserved and photographed them as a testimonial to the lives that could have been. Wang was courageous in keeping the disturbing images in the film, though doing so caused the film to be rated “R.”

Wang asks those she interviews if they think the One Child Policy was a good thing, worth the sacrifice. Astonishingly, the answer is an overwhelming yes – it was necessary to fight the “population war.” This view is consistent with the collectivist attitude of Communism and its powerful propaganda machine: sacrifice the one for the good of the many.

Do those interviewed really believe that the policy was a good thing, despite the excruciating pain it has caused them personally? Or did they merely say so, because they were being filmed and knew that their statements could get back to the Chinese government, resulting in persecution if they defied the Chinese Communist Party on one of its central policies?

When asked why they did not take measures to save their babies, the overwhelming answer is, “We had no choice.” This is the hallmark of Communism: the peacetime killing of its own citizens. The true face of Communism is never more clearly seen than in the faces of the Family Planning Police, dragging women out of their homes, strapping them to tables, and forcing them to abort babies they want. Anyone who thinks that Communism is a good thing must see this film.

I asked a pro-life friend if he had seen One Child Nation.  He replied, “No, I would never see a film that advocates for abortion.” He was referring to the filmmaker’s statement at the end of the film that she thinks it ironic that she has left a nation where women are forced to have abortions only to come to a nation that restricts abortion, evincing an ill-conceived moral equivalency between China and the United States.

It is unfortunate that the filmmaker, having made a film of unparalleled power regarding the brutality of forced abortion in China, chose to take a wholly unnecessary stand on the America abortion debate. The filmmaker’s comment is a non sequitur. Ignore it, and see the film.

You can watch the trailer here and rent the film on Amazon Prime here.

Reggie Littlejohn is the President of Women’s Rights Without FrontiersA video on her work to stop forced abortion in China can be viewed here.

‘Strings Attached’ documentary exposes how Western abortion culture is hurting Africa

 

The 50-minute documentary “Strings Attached,” produced by Culture of Life Africa founder and president Obianuju Ekeocha exposes the funding pipeline from Western countries to African nations, specifically for abortion and contraceptive “services,” and shares first-hand accounts of the harm countless women have experienced at the hands of global abortion giant Marie Stopes International.

In the fall 2019 issue of American Life League’s Celebrate Life magazine, Ekeocha said that the documentary’s title “Strings Attached” is meant to “capture[] the nature of the ‘gifts’ of some of Africa’s wealthiest donors.” In the documentary, Ekeocha explains how she came to become a vocal pro-life advocate after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced in 2012 that it would dramatically increase its “family planning investment” around the world, including across the African continent.

 

The documentary reveals how, following President Trump’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy — a move that abortion advocates call the ‘Global Gag Rule’ — European nations came together to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to “make up for ” the funds diverted from abortion providers. The Organization for Economic Aid and Development reported in 2014 that “Africa received more funding for population programs than for education, healthcare, water and sanitation.”

Screenshot from Strings Attached documentary

Marie Stopes International Provides Sub-Standard Care

The documentary chronicles Marie Stopes International’s (MSI) troubling history of providing substandard medical care, as documented in European countries. In December 2016, the UK’s healthcare regulator Care Quality Commission issued what one UK physician called “a very critical, some might say, a damning report of Marie Stopes” due to 2,634 incidents of  “serious breaches of practice” between 2015 and 2016. A year later in 2017, the doctor reported, “nearly 400 botched abortions were carried out in just two months.” He asked the next logical questions: “What about in developing countries where the health service is not as good, where there’s not a regulator, where people aren’t carrying out inspections? If [Marie Stopes International] is not following instructions here, what are they going to do in an unregulated situation [like in African countries]?”

“They Ruined My Life”

“Strings Attached” exposes the harm African women have experienced from illegal abortions and dangerous contraceptives provided by Marie Stopes International. Multiple women went on record describing horrific experiences of illegal abortions thanks to abortion pills dispensed and surgical abortions performed by staff of Marie Stopes International (MSI), which has clinics in 37 countries globally.

Jacqueline Gandhi was an MSI employee in Kenya who staffed a hotline for women trying to obtain abortions, even though abortion is illegal in Kenya. She personally had four abortions during her eight years working for MSI. She said that in its reporting, MSI reports abortions as “post-abortion care.” She also said, “Clinics got bonuses if they surpassed their targets [for number of abortions].” She personally knew of multiple “cases where we heard that ladies died because of abortions done by Marie Stopes.”

Another woman Ekeocha interviewed, Akeech Aimba, experienced an unplanned teenage pregnancy, and a trusted friend referred her to MSI for a second-trimester surgical abortion. She said, “I was not put under any anesthesia. The doctor went on and on, and I remember screaming and crying and trying to crawl out of that bed…. And after the procedure, he showed me the pieces of my baby.”

A third Kenyan woman shared her medication abortion experience anonymously, reporting tremendous pain during the procedure, and saying that afterwards she suffered from “post abortion stress syndrome. I’m still trying to recover from it. They [MSI] ruined my life.”

A fourth woman reported “there was no counseling or anything. They just did it.”

Ekeocha also secretly recorded a call placed to the Eastleigh, Kenya, MSI clinic by a woman purportedly seeking an abortion. The MSI employee she spoke to over the phone offered her her choice of an in-clinic abortion or “we deliver the pills at your place.” A second call placed to a different Kenyan MSI clinic several months later yielded the same offer for an illegal abortion.

Dr Seyoum Antonio, an Ethiopian surgeon, told the story of a 16-year-old girl “who has gone to Marie Stopes International to get abortion, where she sustained uterine perforation, and then she had a serious infection. She was brought to the hospital and a hysterectomy was done, at the age of 16.”

 

“Even if You Refuse, This is the Best”

Ekeocha told American Life League that “nothing prepared me for the deep wounds inflicted on African people and communities by Western donors. Some of the women I interviewed had such painful stories about their experiences. I believe that they’re victims of human rights abuses by Western pharmaceutical companies in collaboration with organizations like Marie Stopes International.”

Anna-Theresa Amo was one of 12 women from her village who visited a MSI facility and was pressured to have IUDs implanted. Through a translator, Anna-Theresa said that when the women objected, requesting some other form of contraception, staff told them, “even if you refuse, this is the best” and then locked the women inside the room and inserted the IUDs. The women experienced terrible abdominal pain and infections — side effects they were never warned about.

Other women Ekeocha interviewed received the Norplant contraceptive implant years after it had been taken off the market in the United States due to disturbing side effects. One woman she interviewed described “abdominal pain, paralysis in hands and legs, vaginal discharge, and severe headache on one side” caused by the implant. Another woman said that when she requested removal of the Norplant, she was told that it would cost her the equivalent of a week’s worth of food for her family to do so.

Dr. Anthony, a physician in a small, rural Ugandan clinic reported seeing “as many as one hundred women every week” due to serious side effects from Norplant, including “heavy vaginal bleeding, some of them come complaining of headache, severe headache. Some of them have a lot of pain. Some patients come here and they are saying the husbands beat them up because there is a loss of libido. So the man thinks the woman’s going out hitching around.”

He reported one case where a woman had had an IUD in place for 12 years, a not uncommon experience in rural parts of Africa where followup to contraceptive insertion or implantation is nonexistent. He said the woman was “rotting up there,” and that “some patients do die, by the way.” While American women received financial settlements from the makers of Norplant, Ekeocha did not know of a single African woman who had been compensated for damage caused by a contraceptive from a Western country.

“These organizations say that they’re empowering women, but they are abusing the Africans, especially the ones in the most rural areas who don’t have access to a doctor,” Ekeocha said. “The African people are treated as sub-humans.”

What Africans Really Want

Speaking of her travels to 10 African countries and 20 African cities, Ekeocha said “none of the women are telling me how much they want contraception. None of them are telling me how much they want abortion. Every time I’m speaking with, especially, young African girls, they tell me that some of them want to be doctors. They want to go to med school, they want to go to law school, they want to go to engineering school. These are the dreams that I hear the African girls speaking about.”

“Strings Attached” is available for rental or purchase on Vimeo and Amazon. Ekeocha’s book, “Target Africa: Ideological Neo-colonialism of the Twenty-First Century,” is available on Amazon.

Rescued by abortion pill reversal, Isaiah is celebrating his first birthday

 

(Pregnancy Help News) On a spring day in 2018, Sarah walked into a Planned Parenthood under immense pressure. Already a single mother of three children, she was pregnant with her fourth, and the baby’s father had one thing in mind: an abortion.

Against her better judgment, Sarah took the first drug in the chemical abortion regimen, returned home, and began to cry.

“I couldn’t look at my other three children in the face without breaking down and telling myself this baby deserves love just as much as these three in front of me,” she said.

With that thought in mind, she decided to act, turning to the internet to see if there was any way she could save her unborn baby.

In that moment, Sarah, like hundreds of other women, discovered a fast-growing treatment known as Abortion Pill Reversal. She quickly dialed the 24/7 Abortion Pill Rescue helpline (877-558-0333) and was put in touch with one of the network’s 800-plus medical providers.

Once she was at the doctor’s office, the baby’s heartbeat was detected and Sarah was able to begin the Abortion Pill Reversal treatment.

Used as an antidote to the abortion drug mifepristone (otherwise known as the “abortion pill” or RU-486), the reversal protocol works by flooding a woman’s body with progesterone, the natural hormone that is needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy. If administered within 72 hours of taking the abortion drug, progesterone has a 68 percent success rate in saving unborn babies.

“I prayed for God to help me through,” Sarah said. “I wanted to try whatever I could to reverse the worst decision I had made.”

Today, Sarah’s life looks vastly different from the heartache she faced earlier that spring day. That’s because the little baby she thought was aborted is alive and well, having recently celebrated his first birthday.

To Sarah’s immense joy, the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol worked. Her baby boy Isaiah has become an integral member of her family and has stolen the hearts of his aunts, grandparents, cousins, and siblings.

“Isaiah is starting to walk,” Sarah wrote in a message to Heartbeat International, the group that manages the Abortion Pill Rescue Network. “He’s starting to babble more and is always hungry. He is a ham and knows it. He loves jumping in on the action when his siblings are playing.”

The miracle of her child’s life is not lost on Sarah. Since the experience of rescuing Isaiah from abortion, she has been overcome with unshakable gratitude and the desire to share her story with others.

“All my children bless me daily,” she wrote. “Each one taught me lessons, but Isaiah began my new life. This morning when he woke up and smiled at me it touched my soul. I will forever be  grateful that there are people out there who hold life in the highest regard.”

“I am ashamed I went for an abortion for my son,” said Sarah, “but I will forever be humble that God broke through my life and saved his life and mine with the aid of selfless, caring individuals.”

“One day, we will end abortion,” she continued. “And no woman will ever have to feel that regret and shame again and will either get to look with love at their child, or gift a couple with the blessing they have been praying for. I want everyone who works for APR to know just how much we appreciate their work!!”

Christa Brown, who oversees the Abortion Pill Rescue Network for Heartbeat International, says the feeling is mutual. She is encouraged by Sarah’s willingness to share her experience in the hopes of helping other moms who regret their abortions. She is also struck by Sarah’s perseverance and grace as a mother of four.

“As a single mom, we know this last year has been difficult at times for her, but we are so proud of Sarah,” she said. “She is so beautiful inside and out. As a loving mom, she accepts every challenge willingly in order to provide the best life for her little family.”

Brown says that Sarah has become an ardent champion of pregnancy help centers and other pro-life organizations and that her faith in God has been renewed. Later this spring, Sarah will return to school to pursue further education.

As Sarah prepares for that new chapter, Brown can’t help but reflect on the rippling effects of Sarah’s decision to change her mind and rescue her baby from abortion. Not only has Sarah been restored as a mother and Christian, but her family has also experienced profound renewal.

“They all love Isaiah dearly and couldn’t imagine life without him,” she said. “Abortion impacts so many and seeing the joy Isaiah has brought to this entire family makes the saving of his life even more miraculous.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at Pregnancy Help News and is reprinted here with permission. 

 

Australian doctor shuns involvement with contraception and abortion, and politicians are furious

  |

Doctor showing his palm.

Politicians and medical professionals alike are calling for Australia to make conscientious objection to things like abortion and contraception illegal — and one doctor in particular seems to be at the middle of the controversy. Dr. Hong Nguyen, who works at Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic near Melbourne, recently posted an announcement saying she would no longer prescribe contraception or consult for abortion or IVF. When a local politician noticed, he set off a firestorm after posting the photo.

Andy Meddick posted a photo of the announcement on Twitter. “Shocked to see this in my town. Yes, legal. But likely emboldened by Religious Discrimination Bill,” Meddick wrote. “Federal MPs must vote it down – or lives and safety will be at risk. This is reproductive healthcare and nobody should ever be denied it.”

Photo shared on Twitter

The image was retweeted over 500 times, and hundreds of people chimed in to express their outrage. And Meddick has further spoken out about it, arguing that people with a religious objection to things like abortion shouldn’t be involved in health care.

“I think it’s absolutely appalling. It’s disgraceful and incredibly concerning,” he said in an interview with Yahoo News Australia. “If this particular doctor is making this decision based upon religious beliefs it should be reversed because religious decisions don’t have a place in reproductive healthcare. Nobody should ever feel ashamed to see a doctor and it’s a vulnerable time.”

Currently, the Australian government is considering a religious discrimination law which would allow conscientious objection in health care to be protected. But Meddick isn’t the only one who opposes it; Chris Moy, president of the Australian Medical Association, opposes the legislation too, according to The Sun:

When you sign up to be a doctor, we have a code of ethics and professional standards – and one of the key things is having responsibility for our patients. Now the problem is this legislation is a crude tool. We have this law that says you have this consent but the legislation now says “I can walk away” if you have an objection to something like a deeply religious belief. [But] it confuses and creates a lower bar when compared to professional standards and ethics, and the flow and affects in terms of how the fabric of the current health system where there is a balance between doctors’ rights to conscientiously object, and their requirement to always be there for the patient.

We have an obligation to the patient and not abandon them. We actually have to be able to make sure that we don’t impede their care, and to facilitate them. We’re pretty unhappy about [legislation]. What AMA is concerned about is how the conscientious objection is undermining the professional standards. Patients trust me as a doctor so I’m not going to let them down.

However, what is ignored by people like Meddick and Moy is that patients are not actually being deprived of any care.

Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic released a statement addressing the controversy, and pointed out that other doctors within that very clinic offer the services Nguyen doesn’t want to. “We do support women’s health and the rights of women to make their own health decisions,” the statement read, adding, “Our practice sits in the middle, a group of people who are medical practitioners, nurses and reception staff that together between all of us provides care to EVERYONE who needs it, regardless others beliefs, religion or political views or cultures. We are a diverse team that between us cares for everyone who uses our clinic.

The clinic said it has received so many abusive comments that it had to shut down its social media page.

It is disturbing that people are arguing that medical professionals should be forced to violate their own beliefs and principles or be banned from practicing medicine altogether. The idea that a child in the womb of a human mother is also a human is a scientific factnot a “religious belief.” As the clinic itself pointed out, other doctors there were still willing to provide contraceptions or abortions. However, to those who seek to promote abortion, it isn’t enough. Instead, they demand that all doctors in Australia support abortion, or be forced out of the profession.

That’s a chilling mindset, and if the legislation doesn’t protect doctors like Nguyen, it’s a worrying sign of what the future may hold for pro-life health care providers in Australia.

New measure in Spain aims to stop the forced sterilization of persons with disabilities

 

An advocacy group for the rights of disabled persons in Spain has introduced a measure that would end the current practice of forced sterilization of the disabled. Shockingly, under the current law, even those with what are considered “high-functioning” disabilities such as Asperger’s or other mild forms of autism, can be forcibly sterilized without their knowledge or consent, or with diminished consent under severe pressure from family or other authorities.

The regressive policy has come under fire from international human rights organizations in recent years. According to article 156 of the Spanish criminal code, all that is necessary to carry out this act is a judge’s authorization and acknowledgement of the “incapacity” of the individual in question. A 2018 report from the European Disability Forum showed that, from 2010-2013, 400 women — whom doctors deemed as having some form of disability regardless of mental capacity — were forcibly sterilized in Spain. The report highlights the story of a deaf woman who was sterilized without her consent.

“And these are just the cases we know about,” a report in Equal Times points out. “Far more often, forced sterilization procedures don’t leave traces in official records because doctors typically go it alone, performing sterilizations on women with no due process.”

When Ciudadanos party MP Sara Gimenez brought the issue to public consciousness in a tweet in January, Euronews illustrated the problem with the story of Cristina, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 18. Her parents immediately pressured her to undergo tubal ligation.

“They kept telling me that it would be irresponsible to have sex because I could get pregnant; that I was not going to be able to take on the responsibility of being a mother,” she told EuroNews. “That, as I was Asperger, my children would also be born Asperger; and this insistence fixed in my mind the idea that I was not capable of having children.”

The pervasive societal belief at the heart of the policy is that persons with disabilities cannot be good mothers, or that the disability would be passed on and the resulting child would be a “burden,” both on the family and on the state which sometimes lacks appropriate resources. In some cases, the forced sterilization is also portrayed as being for the good of women, “protecting” them from potential future pregnancies due to possible abuse.

Achieving Christendom Is America’s Best Chance at Overthrowing Abortion, LGBT Reign of Terror

John Horvat II

Grave moral problems are tearing the country apart. For many, this is apparent in the form of broken homes, procured abortion, shattered communities and lost Faith.

Many people get it right when pointing out the problems. However, they get it wrong when looking for solutions.

Some get it wrong because they look for solutions that address symptoms, not causes. Others search for a way out that involves the least possible effort. In these politically correct times, people are told not to offend anyone by their proposals. Thus, they automatically exclude the only real solution, which is a return to Christendom. They are willing to consider any other solution, no matter how absurd or improbable—anything but Christendom.

Christendom! It may seem shocking since its days seem long past. We are supposed to be in a post-Christian era. However, the urgency of our times call for it. We need a Christian civilization if we are going to overcome the present crisis. It needs to be at least considered.

A Rejected Proposal

Because our problems are moral, our solutions must also be moral. The rich treasury of Western thought and traditional Church teaching prove that the natural law and Christian morality are the norms that are best suited to our human and social nature. We find our greatest happiness inside institutions and social structures that take us to the end for which we are created—God.

Thus, we should naturally tend to favor Christendom. Everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, finds the best conditions for prospering inside a family of nations that facilitates virtue and promotes social harmony in this vale of tears.

But everyone avoids this conclusion. We have long been conditioned to reject this line of thought. This Anything But Christendom (ABC) Syndrome curiously applies alike to the political left, right and center. It embraces both secular and religious America. The most rigid tyranny bars anyone from thinking outside the materialistic box.

The ABC Syndrome and the Political Spectrum

Each political sector has its reasons for denying Christendom.

For radical liberals, the ABC Syndrome makes sense. They resent any moral limits to their acts and do not care if there are harmful consequences. Individual pleasure reigns supreme regardless of self-destruction or the death of babies. Thus, a Christian moral code represents an unbearable restriction on their desires to do, think and be whatever they want. Their variant of the ABC Syndrome is to allow Everything But Christendom. Use any letter of the LGBTQ+ alphabet, but never use C for Christendom.

Those on the right have a different approach. We find Christians who truly desire a Ten-Commandment-based moral code, for example. However, they dare not propose Christian morality because the people and media who oppose it appear to be numerous. For them, it has no chance of winning. Thus, they subscribe to the Anything But Christendom approach on how society should be run. Every concession must be made to accommodate others who refuse to accommodate them. Christians dance around all the issues touching on Christendom, but no one dares say the word.

And then there are the radical moderates who want to appear non-radical. In their radicalism, these extremists purge all moral references from the debate. They prefer to tweak the status quo, hoping to avoid the Christendom issue altogether. As society falls apart, this effort proves elusive and ineffective.

Imposing the Christian Will Upon Others

Three main fallacies are used to justify the ABC Syndrome. The first is the mistaken belief that proposing Christendom imposes the Faith on non-believers.

Liberals think that establishing any moral limits means imposing Christianity on others. And yet they have no qualms whatsoever with imposing their anti-Christian will on Christians, on Christian feast days such as Christmas, and the Little Sisters of the Poor. They have no scruples about stuffing a Drag Queen Story Hour world of perversion down the throats of society, despite protests from concerned parents.

Christians cannot impose their Faith on those who do not believe because Faith is a gift from God. It cannot, by its nature, be imposed. However, Christians can and should enact reasonable laws based on the natural law that call for moral restraint to form a just and harmonious society.

Since Aristotle, moralists taught that this natural law is valid for all times, places and peoples. By advocating such moral limits in the law, Christians merely obey the nature of all law, which restricts what individuals might do for the sake of the higher common good.

In proposing Christendom, we are not imposing but returning to an order that conforms to our human nature and which favors our development and sanctification. In submitting their Everything But Christianity agenda, the left imposes on society a destructive system that brings it to ruin.

Hopelessly Outdated

The second fallacy is that Christendom is so far removed from society’s current state that it is impractical to propose it. The Christian agenda is hopelessly outdated for postmodern times, it is falsely claimed.

There is nothing more outdated than today’s anti-Christian agenda. As Catholic thinker Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira notes, there is nothing new about divorce, procured abortion, nudity, and moral depravity. Most “modern” proposals are merely recycled pagan vices from antiquity. Moreover, what could be more foreign to our American Christian heritage than the sudden appearance of transgenderism or the current mainstreaming of Satanic movements?

Indeed, most Americans identify with a return to our Christian roots. They have problems adjusting to the latest barbarisms proposed by a neo-pagan culture. The debate should not be centered on the age of the ideas proposed but their merits. The automatic exclusion of ideas because some claim they are outdated is foolish and wrong. The only thing that matters is if they are true or false.

A Long Time Frame

Finally, there is the fallacy that it is impossible to change society quickly, especially when most people seem to subscribe to the opposite of a Christian civilization. At best, a Christian restoration is a futile effort, they erroneously claim.

Again this argument sidesteps the merits of ideas. It focuses on the practicality of implementing them. However, this fallacy is as flawed as the other two.

Captivating ideas like homeschooling, for example, have drastically changed individuals and families in a short time. As the last elections have proven, voters will change their positions when convinced of the need to change.

Societies, too, can quickly and radically change. Consider the Sexual Revolution. Within the space of a decade, the sixties radically changed the mores, fashions and manners of that generation and all those that followed. Most people in the fifties were not hippies, but many adopted hippie ways in the seventies as these became mainstream.

The history of the Church is full of fervent missionary efforts in which whole peoples, burdened by their paganism, were quickly converted to the Faith by the efforts of men and the action of grace. These peoples changed their lives wholesale, adopting Christian ways in a short time.

People change their ways when times are empty, and ideas are exhausted. Indeed, it is in times like ours that grand ideas like Christendom have their greatest appeal.

Where Christ Is King

Thus, the time is ripe to debate Christendom. It should be done openly, unapologetically and enthusiastically. Many do not know what Christendom is. Indeed, the ABC Syndrome represents old liberal prejudices that distort the true nature of a Christian society. For too long, our shallow, materialistic society has suppressed the notions of wonder, sublime, and the sacred that correspond to the deepest desires of the human soul.

By engaging in the debate over Christendom, we address the emptiness of our nihilistic society that finds no meaning or purpose in life.

Above all, the failure to debate Christendom is fatal since it means the continued descent into an anti-Christendom of anarchy and unrestraint. This anti-regime is already seen in the dark yearnings of Antifa, anarchists and Satanic movements that call for a world without morality. They advocate the destruction of our nation and the persecution of those who keep the Faith.

These topics need to be discussed. We should not be afraid to proclaim our desire to see Christ as King. Numerous popes have described this Christian society as one that affirms the social Kingship of Christ. In his encyclical Quas Primas, Pius XI says that “Once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will, at last, receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”

Only Christendom can be a truly just society for all.

Assisted Suicide and the Macabre ‘Logic’ of the Culture of Death

By 

Even many people in the pro-life and pro-family movements do not fully appreciate the deep threads that tie together many seemingly disparate social issues. Contraception, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, pornography, same-sex “marriage”, and gender ideology (to name some of the big ones) are not isolated social or spiritual problems. Rather, they are deeply interrelated, and, more importantly, they feed off one another.

There is an interior logic to the Culture of Death, if not short-circuited by a return to perennial truths, that causes it to eat its own tail, so to speak, with death leading to more death, and loneliness and isolation to further loneliness and isolation. This dynamic is something that Human Life International’s founder Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, was keenly aware of. As he wrote in From Contraception to Abortion, “In every country, bar none, contraception has led to abortion, and once abortion, to infanticide, the prelude to full-blown euthanasia. Once the purposes of sex are torn loose from procreation and the family, the homosexual thrust rears its ugly head.”

The Demographic Alarm

One of the most underappreciated areas where we see this perverse logic at work is in the relationship – alluded to by Fr. Marx – between the contraceptive/anti-natal mentality, and the growing demand for legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Many anti-life campaigners believe that they are advocating for legalized euthanasia because they believe in the principles of “freedom” and “autonomy”. What they don’t realize is that in fact they are responding to pressure to find a “solution” to a growing problem that exists in large part only because their ideology created it in the first place – by demolishing the supporting structure of the family and by promoting an anti-natal mentality that has robbed families and society of the children they so desperately need.

Even many mainstream publications and liberal politicians are beginning to wake up to the slew of problems caused by the demographic winter that was conjured by the dual forces of overpopulation alarmism and the sexual revolution. Consider this recent article in Canada’s Globe and Mail, a far-left, but widely-read newspaper. In it, author John Ibbison warns about the financial and social tsunami that is looming on the horizon, thanks to that country’s rock-bottom fertility rate.

As the teaser below the headline handily summarizes: “Every generation is having fewer children than the one before it, leaving fewer and fewer people to care for us in our increasingly long lives. It is a crisis we ignore at our own peril”. This crisis is a simple matter of mathematics: many of our social and financial structures have been built upon the presupposition that there will exist a large and healthy population of young people to enter the work force, pay their taxes, and support their aging parents and relatives. But, as it turns out, those young people are no longer there.

Fertility rates in Canada (and throughout the Western world) began to plummet in the early 1960s. From a peak of nearly four children born per woman during her lifetime in the late 1950s, the rate rapidly fell in Canada to the current 1.5 or so. According to Statistics Canada, the last year during which Canada’s fertility rate was at replacement level was in 1971. For nearly five decades, then, the country has had below-replacement-level birth rates. The only thing keeping the country’s population stable is immigration. As Michael Nicin, executive director of Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing, told the Globe, “This is a fundamental, paradigmatic shift in society, and for too long we’ve buried our heads.”

As Ibbitson notes, the decrease in fertility has coincided with an increase in longevity, with a result that we now have an aging population of retirees that is also living longer than ever before. Already there are a growing number of couples hitting retirement age and beyond, many of whom (as Ibbitson notes) have not saved nearly enough money to pay for their living expenses and health care until their deaths. Furthermore, they don’t have any children that they can rely on for financial assistance or (much more importantly) the kind of personal care and companionship that are so vital for their happiness and overall well-being. And finally, since everybody else has also stopped having children, neither will there exist the workers and associated tax revenues that will make it possible for the government to pick up the tab for their long-term care.

Enter Euthanasia

Is it any surprise, then, that Canada legalized euthanasia a few years ago?

The pro-euthanasia advocates will deny this link, of course. As mentioned above, they think they’re advocating for what’s right based upon a dispassionate principle. They think the “right to die” or “death with dignity” is a human right, and they are the selfless crusaders willing to go the distance to pressure government to protecting that right. In reality, they are merely putting the nails in the coffin of the Culture or Death.

A healthy society does not seek to find ways to ensure that its most venerable and elderly citizens have the easiest path possible towards offing themselves. In a healthy society, there wouldn’t even exist any such demand for euthanasia or assisted suicide, as there now does. In a healthy society, the elderly live out their final days in dignity, surrounded by families and loved ones, embedded within a loving community of relationships that has supported them through life, and is there to support them as they pass on to the next life. Few people in such humane circumstances give much thought to whether and how they should kill themselves.

However, within a society that has built itself on the principle of radical autonomy, explicitly repudiating the centrality of relationships of dependence and love, above all those that exist within the family, the inevitable result is a growing number of isolated, lonely, embittered, and suffering elderly. If that society has also enthusiastically embraced utilitarian and consumerist values, in which the worth of a life is judged by its levels of pleasure or social utility, then the result is that those same elderly become viewed as – and even more pernicious, view themselves as – dead weight, costing others money, time, and mental energy that they don’t have to spare. In other words, if there is now a demand for euthanasia and assisted suicide, it is only because the Culture of Death first created that demand, by embracing contraception, anti-natalism, abortion, and divorce.

Nobody that I know of is explicitly pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide as a cost-saving device. However, in those nations where euthanasia has been legalized, there are a myriad of macabre tales of elderly individuals being pressured into opting for euthanasia, often by overwhelmed and underpaid long-term care staff who are fighting for limited pools of government funding. It’s the logic of the thing. A single elderly patient could end up costing the government hundreds of thousands of dollars if they happen to pull through this current health crisis and go on to live for another five or ten years; why not just encourage them to put an end to their suffering once and for all right now, and sign on the dotted line?

As I wrote in this same column last year:

During a papal audience with Pope St. John Paul II in 1979, Fr. Marx offered his insights with the saintly pope saying that “once contraception is widespread, the rest is predictable. In every country contraception always leads to massive abortion.” He further emphasized that “once you have contraception and legalized or widespread abortion, birthrates fall; nations collapse; young people follow their parents in the abuse of sex, and increasing numbers live together without the benefit of marriage.” As if capable of looking into the future, Fr. Marx also discussed the intimate link between contraception, abortion, and euthanasia. For “if you can kill before birth, why can’t you kill after birth? So, euthanasia is inevitable.”

The Slippery Slope

Not only is euthanasia in some sense “inevitable”, or at least the logical consequence of embracing contraception and anti-natalism, so too is the gradual expansion of euthanasia once accepted. The “slippery slope” phenomenon has been well attested to in the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been extended even to people suffering from mental illnesses. In the Netherlands it would be illegal for a severely depressed person to shoot themselves, but perfectly legal for him to give himself a lethal injection if the poison is provided by a licensed doctor at taxpayer expense. This is the double-think we are increasingly called upon to blithely accept.

Pro-euthanasia activists always claim that they only wish euthanasia to be legal in a select few, “extreme” circumstances; but if recent experience is any indication, those “extreme” circumstances turn out to be very many indeed. Already, a court in the Canadian province of British Columbia has ruled that a requirement in the recently-passed Canadian euthanasia/assisted suicide law that patients requesting euthanasia be facing a “reasonably foreseeable” death is unconstitutional. It was only in 2016 that the Canadian Supreme Court suddenly “discovered” the right to assisted suicide and euthanasia in the constitution. And now, just three years later, another court has somehow discovered a “right” for people who aren’t dying to ask doctors to help kill them! Unless pro-life and family Canadians and disability advocates mount a strenuous opposition, this will undoubtedly only be the beginning: it will only be a matter of time before those suffering from depression, dementia, and other non-terminal illnesses will be deemed “eligible” for, and (subtly or not-so-subtly) pressured into euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Speaking of the macabre interior “logic” of the Culture of Death: it turns out that in Canada there has been a big boom in the number of organ “donations”. And who are these organs coming from? From people who have legally killed themselves or been killed by doctors. The mainstream media thinks this is a wonderful thing. In reality, however, this the monstrous outcome of the Culture of Death: elderly or ill patients who, according to utilitarian standards, have outlived their “usefulness”, being told they can do something “positive” by helping another person with their organs if they would just put a premature end to their miserable existences. And, of course, it is a great benefit that the organs in these cases are so wonderfully “fresh”. This is the Culture of Death in action. Death leads to death.

Pro-Life Beliefs Into Practice

VIRGINIA AABRAM

A former NFL star who shunned an invitation to the White House in 2013 to protest President Barack Obama’s embrace of Planned Parenthood says he’s pro-life in part because of the mothers of his two adopted children.

In remarks to the National Pro-Life Summit in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, Matt Birk, who played that year for the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens, urged his audience of mostly high school and college-aged pro-life activists to combat the celebration of abortion and to rejoice in life.

Birk, the father of eight, made headlines in June 2013 after the Ravens’ victory in his 14th and final season in the NFL. Because of his pro-life beliefs, he declined to take part in the team’s invitation to the White House, saying Obama had said “God bless Planned Parenthood” about six weeks earlier.

According to a CBS Sports report at the time, Obama had concluded a speech to the organization’s national conference in April 2013 with “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America.”

“I wasn’t ready for what happened next,” Birk told his audience of more than 3,000 at the Marriott Marquis hotel. “All of a sudden, I got introduced to the 24-hour news cycle.”

Birk explained why he held pro-life convictions strongly enough to say no to an invitation from the president, noting that his Catholic faith and his own family played into those beliefs.

“I am pro-life because God is the originator of all life, and my life has dignity, not because my mother said so, but because I am a child of God,” said Birk, who played 10 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings and four with the Ravens and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

Birk, 43, said his family owes its existence in part to two women who chose life.

“Two of my eight children are adopted, and I cannot tell you the gratitude that I have to their birth mothers,” he said. “They committed the greatest act of love I have ever witnessed in my life—to give a child up for adoption.”

He says that fact informs his belief that abortion is wrong.

“You’ll never see a woman walking out of an abortion clinic with a smile on her face, because there’s nothing to celebrate,” Birk said. “You’ll never hear someone say, ‘Here’s my daughter. She’s two years old, and I wish I had aborted her. This means only one thing—that abortion must be evil.”

Birk said that while he was always pro-life intellectually, he started “doing pro-life” after he got a call from the Catholic archbishop of Baltimore in 2012, asking him to speak at the Maryland March for Life, where his eyes were opened to the harsh reality of abortion.

“I was so shocked by the hundreds of women who had an abortion who regret it, and are still hurting from it. And they don’t want other women to make the same mistake,” he said.

Birk concluded by urging the audience to pray and to show up for pro-life events, but not to be discouraged.

“It’s not our job to win this fight, but it is our job to try,” he said. “We are a movement rooted in truth. We don’t have to defend the truth, because the truth is like a lion that you just have to let out of its cage.”

Brazilian gov’t promotes chastity to teens

Abortion proponents not surprisingly object to sex education that doesn’t promote artificial contraception.

By Martin M. Barillas

BRASILIA, Brazil, January 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Damares Alves, Brazil’s Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights, recently asked parents to consider telling their teenage children to wait until adulthood to have sex, thus unleashing a rash of negative comments from leftists in the South American republic.

Minister Alves responded to the growing rate of sexually-transmitted disease and teenage pregnancies by promoting sexual abstinence among adolescents. She is collaborating with a campaign sponsored by evangelical Christians, dubbed “I Choose to Wait,” that fosters traditional Christian teachings about sexuality, chastity, and marriage. Alves is a leader in the evangelical Christian community in Brazil and one of the most visible cabinet members in the current government.

Pro-abortion and LGBTQ advocates denounced the campaign, citing fears that it is effectively a merger of Church and state. According to The New York Times, Brazilian law professor and abortion activist Debora Diniz said that program will have “terrible consequences” and lead to further cases of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Diniz claimed that abstinence doesn’t work. Abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood and advocates such as Guttmacher Institute also regularly discredit delaying sex as a method of avoiding pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases among adolescents.

The I Choose to Wait campaign states that it is “centered on the importance of living a life in holiness and purity based on the Holy Scriptures.” According to Daily Wire, Alves said of underage sex, “Our young people, by and large, are having sex as a result of social pressure. You can go to a party and have lots of fun without having sex.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has accused his leftist rivals of encouraging teenage sex. He stopped a campaign to address homophobia in schools that leftist predecessor Dilma Roussief had begun before her sudden departure from government. He said it amounted to a “homosexual kit” that intended to “pervert” children.

Bolsonaro’s campaign and subsequent actions in government have won him friends among conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians, the latter of which is a growing sector in political importance.

In an essay published in the daily Folha de São Paulo, Alves insisted that she was not diminishing the use of contraceptives and condoms to minimize teenage pregnancy and STI.

“We are cooperating with all of the ministries to offer additional material at each step when people make decisions,” she wrote, adding that this does not mean her government is imposing anything, but is “informing, through which autonomy is reinforced.”

Alves said her critics use the term “abstinence” in order to discredit the program. Recently, she said previous programs have not worked, given the fact that teens are having sex at an earlier age than in previous years. She also pointed out that teens are further endangered by a bill now before Brazil’s congress that would lower the age of consent to 12, which she said would thus legalize pedophilia.

After being named to Bolsonaro’s presidential cabinet, Alves said she wants to rescue women and children from abortion. “The greatest human right is the right to life … I am against abortion,” she said. “We want a Brazil without abortion. How? A Brazil that prioritizes public policies of family planning, where abortion is never seen as a contraceptive method.”

She went on to say that women don’t want abortion, but they exercise this option when they believe there is no other alternative, adding that while “pregnancy is a ‘problem’ that lasts only nine months, abortion is a burden you carry your whole life. We will always fight to save two lives: the woman and the child.”

The abstinence program is slated to kick off next month. Alves wrote that abstinence programs in the United States have been successful in limiting teenage pregnancy.

In an email response to LifeSiteNews, Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the pro-life American College of Pediatricians, applauded the Brazilian government’s move. According to Dr. Cretella, a board-certified pediatrician specializing in adolescent health, the “so-called comprehensive sex education (CSE) programs” in U.S. schools have not shown long-term effectiveness at increasing sexual abstinence among adolescents, nor have they been shown to increase long-term condom and contraceptive use among sexually active youth.

“This should come as no surprise since CSE programs send a double message to teens,” Dr. Cretella said in the email. “In contrast, school-based sexual risk avoidance (SRA) curricula, traditionally known as abstinence education, focus on the primary public health principle of risk avoidance’ and thereby uphold the highest attainable standard of health for all students.”

She said SRA programs have significantly delayed sexual activity among teens. “The American College of Pediatricians,” Dr. Cretella said, “recommends the adoption of sexual risk avoidance (SRA) programs by all school districts in lieu of curricula described as comprehensive sex education (CSE).”

Having a large Christian family is an awesome lifestyle choice that’s easier than you’d think

January 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The basic outlines of the Church’s teaching on family life, in terms of what we must on no account do, are clear, but we need to beware of the more subtle ways our thinking has been warped by our contraceptive culture. This is a hugely complex topic and I want to look at just one aspect of it: the attitude to large families.

It has become a joke, albeit a boring one, that many people can’t see a family of more than three children without having a dig at the parents. My lifestyle does not expose me to much of this but I did get a “You should get a TV” from a stranger recently, which was intended as light-hearted. (Actually, I’d rather have the children.) Such comments can be particularly upsetting when they come from fellow Catholics. No less annoying is the counter-pressure occasionally found in those pockets of Catholic society where larger families are more common. It is such a stupid thing to ask mothers if they are going to have another baby. Who knows what has been going on? Just don’t do it.

These opposing remarks have something in common, which is the odd way they hold parents to account for having or not having children, and see a certain family size as the right one for everyone: whether is it two children, six, or none. This is obviously absurd in ignoring the particular circumstances of different families, above all biological factors which are of no concern to complete strangers. But it also puts an artificial limit to family size, whether the limit small or large.

One motive for this is a concern about the environment, or the supply of food. Without going into too much detail, the Netherlands, one of the richest countries in the world, has a population density of 521 people per square kilometer, and enormous national parks; China has a density of 153. There is no shortage of space, nor, now vertical farming technology has rendered calculations about arable land irrelevant, need there be any shortage of food. It is impossible to escape the impression that some environmentalists just don’t like people very much, and see the coming demographic winter in developed countries, and the projected decline of the world’s population, as a cause for rejoicing.

(Here’s a fun fact. When will or did the world population growth rate begin to slow? 1968.)

A more pervasive motive, however, is the question of “what I (or you) can cope with”. Not, you understand, a concern about health problems for the mother or actual malnutrition among the children: I mean, in relation to what we might call lifestyle expectations.

People who have never experienced a large family often assume that they must be proportionately more chaotic than a smaller family. ‘It is must be mayhem at your house at Christmas!’, my butcher cheerily informed me, no doubt based on an experience of two or three children extrapolated to six or eight. Obviously, things don’t work like that. Large families have their challenges, but the biggest challenge is keeping the mayhem under some kind of control with just one child.

The same goes for estimates of the cost of “raising a child”. This page, based on US government figures, talks about the enormous cost of one child, and makes no reference to the marginal cost of additional children. The implication is that readers should double the cost of one child if they are considering two, and to quadruple it for four, which would be an obvious mathematical fallacy. Indeed, it is silly to invite people to consider if they can afford the average cost of a child. This average is composed of super-wealthy parents going to all sorts of non-essential expenses with their children, and the rest of us not doing so. What has the average cost got to do with what it will cost you, if you are relatively poor? No-one is going to force you to buy every child an iPad.

I would like to invite young people starting or considering a family to set aside not only this kind of demonstrable nonsense, but also the more realistic worry about maintaining the expectations associated with small families, such as children not having to share a bedroom. Similarly, in large families there tends to be more wearing of cast-off clothes, and flying with the whole brood can become very expensive (no sibling discount there). There are many things which need to be adjusted, gradually, as the head-count increases. There may be typical middle-class things you could do if you have only two children and can’t do if you have six. There’s no denying it, and having a large family in this sense is a real sacrifice. You know, however, exactly what you are getting instead. Children.

St Augustine wrote that Christian mothers, as well as consecrated virgins, should be praised, because they bear children for the Church (De Virginitate). This is the end, the goal, of the vocation of marriage. Don’t place too many limits on God’s generosity.

The New Colonialism of the Sexual Revolution: ‘An Authentic Catholic Response’

Jennifer Roback Morse

Editor’s note: This is an adaption of her talk at the National Youth Conference, Dec. 12, in Uganda. The full address can be found here.

https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-new-colonialism-of-the-sexual-revolution-an-authentic-catholic-response

Thank you for the kind invitation to address the 2019 National Youth Conference here in the Diocese of Kasana- Luweero. I am delighted to be able to learn more about Uganda, as I only know a few things about your country. I am aware of the Ugandan Martyrs. In union with the worldwide Catholic Church, I observe the liturgical feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions every year on June 3.

I also know that Uganda had a successful strategy for combating the spread of HIV-AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. Your country did not blindly follow the lead of the international agencies that were promoting condoms as the one and only solution to the spread of the HIV virus. You developed your own program, encouraging people to reduce the number of sexual partners they had. And you continue to take a wholistic approach, seeing the person in his social and spiritual context.

My topic today is the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution is not native to Africa. Wealthy and powerful people have spent vast sums of their own money to promote the sexual revolution. These same people have captured the use of governments and international agencies to impose this ideology around the world. This is a new form of colonialism. We could call it sexual colonialism or ideological imperialism, to distinguish it from economic colonialism or imperialism.

I want you to know that many, many Americans share your pro-life and pro-family values. Many Americans have come to realize that the sexual revolution is a totalitarian ideology. Those same Americans are deeply ashamed when they realize how our government has historically thrust the values of the sexual revolution on people around the world, including you here in Uganda. I am not talking only about American Catholics. Eastern Orthodox Christians, evangelical Protestants, Latter-day Saints and observant Jews in America also share your family values. On behalf of those Americans, I apologize for our country’s role in spreading the sexual revolution to your country.

I sometimes hear confused reports that Uganda has the death penalty for homosexuality or is considering the death penalty for homosexuality and that American Christians are somehow to blame. So I wish to say something to this all-Catholic gathering.

As Catholics, we stand by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the death penalty, as on all other serious matters. Pope St. John Paul II revised the Catechism to say:

“The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude … recourse to the death penalty. … Today, given the means at the state’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for [the death penalty]… ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent’” (2267).

We cannot support the death penalty for homosexuality. We don’t need to belabor the point.

My purpose here today is to convince you that you should exercise all morally acceptable means for keeping the toxic ideology of the sexual revolution out of your country. One step in protecting your country is to refuse to use the terminology of the sexual revolutionaries. They have invested millions, by now, perhaps billions, of dollars to create certain associations of ideas and words. If you use their terminology, you will place yourself at a disadvantage.

For instance, the term “feminist” carries many positive associations for many people. “Feminism” means “freedom” and “equality” and “education for girls” and “women get to have good jobs.”

But “feminism” has other ideas associated with it. “Feminism” means “women don’t really need men,” and “women are too good to waste by staying home and caring for children,” and “children hold women back.” With these associations, “feminism” comes to mean abortion and contraception.

This word “feminism” has ideological assumptions built into it. The interest of men and the interests of women are necessarily distinct from and in conflict with each other. The word “feminism” also assumes that “feminists” and only “feminists” have the right to speak for all women.

That is why I avoid using the word “feminism.” I urge you to avoid it, as well.

Another important term to avoid is the word “gay.” I strongly recommend that you not use the word “gay,” or even “homosexual.” I especially urge you to avoid these words as free-standing nouns, as in “He is a homosexual,” or “I’m gay.”

Speaking in this way has ideology baked into it. It suggests that the person is defined by his sexual desires and behaviors. The term suggests that those desires and behaviors are permanent and can never change.

These associations with the word “gay” come from the United States. Let me tell you the backstory.

As you know, the United States has the terrible history of importing people from Africa to be used as slaves. The trans-Atlantic slave trade persisted for 200 years. We have spent the past 150 years trying to deal with its aftermath. All of this troubled history has left us with many problems of racial discrimination and prejudice. We have tried to solve these problems with laws forbidding discrimination.

The basic idea of anti-discrimination law is simple enough. People who are the same should be treated the same. People who behave differently, can, of course, be treated differently. For instance, employers must treat people who are equally qualified for a job in the same way, regardless of their race.

By now, America has a well-developed body of law defining permissible and impermissible differences in how people are treated in employment, housing, education and so on. Unlawful discrimination is treating people differently on the basis of inborn characteristics over which the individual has no control. People cannot be treated differently on the basis of what the law calls “immutable traits.”

The sexual revolutionaries seized upon this distinction between “immutable traits” and “chosen behavior” in American law. Their strategy was to create the impression that “being gay” is comparable to “being black.” If they could succeed in making this comparison, then the whole body of anti-discrimination law could be used to protect homosexual acts.

Let me pause to assure you that American blacks deeply resent the way that the sexual revolutionaries have used this comparison between race and homosexual acts. Many American blacks are serious Christians who oppose homosexual acts. They are deeply offended by what they consider the hi-jacking of the civil-rights movement for defending a set of behaviors and political commitments.

Despite the protests of American blacks, sexual radicals have made a strong effort to create the belief that people are “born gay.” They say, no one chooses to be gay. Being gay is something a person cannot change, they say. It is an “immutable trait.” The sexual revolutionary elites have spent an enormous amount of money and effort to create the impression that these points are true. But none of them actually are true.

We now know that there is no “gay gene.” People may experience same-sex attraction as a deep part of their personality. They may not remember ever feeling differently. But no one is “born gay.” The scientific and psychological professions must now admit (somewhat reluctantly):

In short, “being gay” is nothing like “being black.”

My advice that you avoid the term “gay” is more than just a rhetorical strategy. It is also part of Church teaching. Homosexual desires do not define a person’s identity. This is why the Church uses the phrase “men with deep-seated homosexual attractions.”

So, instead of saying “gay,” use a phrase that more accurately describes what you are actually talking about.

  • Instead of “gay” say, perhaps, “same-sex attracted” if you mean someone who experiences these feelings. Instead of “gay,” say, perhaps, “men who have sex with men.” This is what medical researchers say, for instance, when they are studying the spread of disease. Instead of “gay” say, perhaps, “self-identified homosexual” if you mean someone who does in fact identify himself with his patterns of attraction.

And if any of you, dear young people, find yourself feeling same-sex attraction, do not label yourself as “gay.” Seek help and counseling. But do not let anyone call you “gay,” or draw you into what they call the “LGBT community.” Be assured that, with prayer and counseling, those feelings can diminish, and you can live a normal life as a husband and father or as a wife and mother. These feelings do not define who you are.

That is conclusion my young friend Hudson Byblow came to. He was not very athletic. He was slightly built. The other boys teased him. He was confused about himself. He doubted his manhood. Then an older man molested him. So Hudson thought to himself, “I must be gay.” It took him a long time to overcome the problems he created for himself by adopting that label and the behaviors that went along with it. But now, as he says, he is doing “something more beautiful.” He has moved from “LGBT to Jesus Christ.”

Conclusion: New Colonialism, New Slavery

As I said at the beginning, the sexual revolutionary ideology is not native to Uganda. It is actually a new form of colonialism. The old economic colonialism attempted to dominate the physical resources of the African continent. The new ideological imperialism attempts to dominate the soul of Africa.

But I will tell you a secret: The sexual revolution is an intellectual house of cards. It is fragile because it is untrue. It opposes the law of nature and nature’s God. Therefore, the sexual revolution needs to be propped up, coddled, protected. The sexual revolution needs conformity. Evidence that contradicts it is a direct threat. People who dissent are a direct threat. Every chaste teenager is a threat. Every person and institution of faith is a threat.

And you are a threat. The ideologues fear your vitality and your fertility and your faith. The new Western colonialists do not want to extract resources or material wealth from you. They want your conformity. They want your hearts and minds.

Chattel slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade was the old form of Western exploitation of Africa. Today, Western influence has the potential to create an even more serious form of slavery. Jesus told us to have no fear of those who could kill the body. Rather, we should fear those who can kill the soul. And St. Paul warned us long ago about the enslaving power of sin. In Galatians 5, St. Paul told us, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (1).

That is why we must continue to be inspired by the Ugandan Martyrs. These martyrs died for their faith at the hands of the king. Sometimes when the story of the Ugandan Martyrs is recounted, the homosexual element is omitted from the story. But we should not omit the fact that the king was a sexual predator who preyed upon young men. The king believed he was entitled to do whatever he wanted and that everyone was required to submit to his desires. Charles Lwanga and his companions refused the king’s sexual advances. The king was enraged and ordered their execution.

When Western aid agencies come around here pestering you to adopt their ways, tell them you reject sexual colonialism. Do not accept the lies of ideological imperialism. Remember the Ugandan Martyrs! The truth really will set you free.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute.

She is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along

Women taking hormonal contraceptives have reduced perseverance on cognitive tasks, study finds

By 

New research provides more evidence that hormonal birth control pills can negatively impact women’s cognitive performance. The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, found that women taking contraceptive pills tend to have reduced perseverance when completing both simple and complex cognitive tasks.

“My colleagues and I first became interested in this topic after learning that women taking hormonal contraceptives don’t experience a spike in cortisol that is typically found after one encounters a stressor. While people usually talk about cortisol as a bad thing, this cortisol spike allows people to adequately meet challenges in their environment,” explained Hannah K. Bradshaw (@HKBradshaw), a PhD candidate in Experimental Psychology at Texas Christian University and corresponding author of the study.

“After we started looking through the literature, we also found that, compared to non-users, women taking hormonal contraceptives exhibit decrements in brain areas that play an important role in learning, attention, and memory.”

“For instance, compared to non-users, women taking hormonal contraceptives have decreased hippocampal volume. This led us to wonder whether hormonal contraceptive use is associated with differences in perseverance and performance on simple and challenging cognitive tasks that one might encounter in their day-to-day lives.”

In two studies, 324 female undergraduates completed various cognitive tests as the researchers timed them. Roughly half of the participants had been on hormonal birth control for at least two months, while the remainder had not used hormonal birth control for at least three months.

In the first study, participants completed a simple spot-the-difference task in which they were shown two similar images and asked to find 10 subtle differences. In the second study, participants completed more complex mathematical problems and word scramble problems from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test.

The researchers found that women on hormonal birth control tended to spend less time on the problems, which in turn was associated with their relatively worse performance on all of the cognitive tasks.

“Our data suggest that hormonal contraceptive use is associated with decreased perseverance on both simple and challenging cognitive tasks. These differences in perseverance drove decrements in performance. That is, women taking hormonal contraceptives performed worse on these tasks than non-users because they spent less time on the tasks,” Bradshaw told PsyPost.

“The major takeaway here is that hormonal contraceptive use carries a myriad of consequences beyond mere pregnancy prevention; additional research is desperately needed to more fully understand what these consequences may be.”

The study — like all research — includes some limitations.

Randomized experiments are the gold standard in scientific research, but there are obvious problems with trying to randomly assign women to receive hormonal birth control. “We didn’t randomly assign women to the hormonal contraceptives (vs. non-user) group, so it’s possible that our effects may, in part, be due to previously existing differences between women,” Bradshaw explained.

“Secondly, hormonal contraceptives can include different hormones and various ratios of these hormones. We didn’t collect information about this, so it’s impossible to know what specific hormones or hormonal ratios are responsible for our results. Future research is needed to address these limitations.”

The findings may have important implications for women, but the real-world impact of decreased perseverance is unclear. Future research is needed to help “understand how hormonal contraceptive use might influence women’s perseverance in their education, careers, and relationships,” Bradshaw said.

“My colleagues and I don’t have an anti-birth control agenda. By enabling women to take control of their fertility, hormonal contraceptives have helped women meet their educational and career goals,” she added.

“However, it’s important that we understand the unintended consequences associated with hormonal contraceptive use. Millions of women worldwide take hormonal contraceptives. While several women complain about negative emotional and mental side effects, their concerns are largely written off. We need to be less cavalier with women’s health and women’s hormones.”

The study, “Hormonal contraceptive use predicts decreased perseverance and therefore performance on some simple and challenging cognitive tasks“, was authored by Hannah K. Bradshaw, Summer Mengelkoch, and Sarah E. Hill.

Embryo Research To Reduce Need For In Vitro Fertilization Raises Ethical Concerns

Heard on All Things Considered

Rob Stein

Researchers have conducted a controversial study that involved paying dozens of young women at a hospital near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to get artificially inseminated so their embryos could be flushed out of their bodies and analyzed for research purposes.

The study showed that embryos created that way appear to be as healthy genetically as embryos created through standard in vitro fertilization. Physically, the embryos appear to, possibly, even be healthier, the study found.

The research, published online in the journal Human Reproduction, suggests the approach could offer couples a simpler, less expensive way for some couples to have healthy children than is currently available via IVF, the scientists and others say.

“We have now a method that can produce embryos that are of good quality or better than in vitro fertilization,” says Santiago Munne, a reproductive geneticist who led the study when he worked at CooperGenomics in Livingston, N.J. Munne now works at Overture Life, a Madrid-based company that makes infertility treatment equipment.

But others denounce the research as unethical.

“What this essentially does is use a woman’s body as a petri dish,” says Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at the University of Chicago. “And there’s something about that that seems so profoundly disturbing.”

The women received hormone injections to stimulate their ovaries to produce eggs, which is a standard way to obtain donor eggs that are to be used for women experiencing infertility problems.

But instead of having eggs extracted via a needle from their ovaries and fertilized in the lab — a standard procedure during IVF — the women in the study were inseminated by sperm. Four to six days later, the women underwent a procedure known as “lavage,” which involved using a specialized device to flush out any resulting embryos from the womb.

The researchers then analyzed the embryos, comparing them to embryos produced by 20 of the women who also underwent standard IVF.

Embryos produced by both methods looked similar genetically, while those created using the lavage method looked slightly healthier physically, the researchers reported.

The women were paid about $1,400, the equivalent of more than two month’s average wages in the area, raising questions about what motivated them to volunteer, Zoloth says.

The women also had to get injections of powerful hormones to stimulate their ovaries, which can pose some risk. In addition, some women underwent surgical or chemical abortions afterward, when tests indicated some of the embryos might not have been successfully removed.

“I think this research was unethical,” Zoloth says.

Munne defends the research, noting that it was reviewed extensively and approved by the Ministry of Health of the State of Nayarit, in Mexico, and the Western Institutional Review Board in the United States. The women were fully informed of any potential risks, Munne says.

“We passed all the ethical committees and all the ethical checks and balances,” he says.

The primary purpose of the study was to try to find a way to help couples who carry the gene for certain inherited diseases, such as beta thalassemia or cystic fibrosis, have healthy babies, Munne says. Currently, the reason such couples create embryos through standard IVF is so the embryos can be tested in the lab, and only those found to be healthy need be implanted, Munne says.

“For couples that have genetic abnormalities and are at risk of transmitting them …. by selecting the embryos that are not affected, they can have a normal baby,” he says.

So Munne and his colleagues decided to see if he could do the same thing without IVF, which requires a painful extraction of eggs, and expensive laboratory procedures. The study involved 81 women who were recruited at Punta Mita Hospital in Punta de Mita, Mexico.

“This is the first time that human embryos conceived naturally have been analyzed genetically to see if they are normal or not,” Munne says.

“The advantage is that these embryos are conceived naturally — so you don’t need in vitro fertilization to do the genetic testing of the embryos. In theory, it should be much cheaper.”

In addition to helping couples avoid transmitting a genetic disease to their children, he says, the approach could offer an alternative way for lesbian couples to share the experience of having a baby.

“You could use this for lesbian couples [when] one wants to conceive the embryos and the other wants to carry the embryos,” Munne says. “So one could have the embryos fertilized and then the embryos are transferred to the other woman to carry them. So they can share the pregnancy.”

Several researchers told NPR the research could be valuable.

“This is a really well done study,” says Catherine Racowsky, an embryologist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School. She is also president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

“We may actually have here a technology that in the future may be very helpful for couples trying to complete their families at a lower cost, which is important,” Racowsky says.

But others agree with Zoloth that the study raises serious ethical issues.

“Yes, it is quite a series of things that do raise your eyebrows,” says C.B. Lambalk, the editor-in-chief of Human Reproduction.

Lambalk says the journal decided to publish the study only after verifying that the research had been thoroughly reviewed, and published it along with an editorial and a commentary exploring the ethical concerns.

“We could have made ourselves a very easy out — by just saying: ‘No, no, we don’t want this,’ ” Lambalk says. “But we decided to go the hard way and publish it.” The findings could be useful, he believes, and the journal wanted to draw attention to the ethical issues the study raises.

Galia Oron, an infertility expert at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel, who wrote the accompanying commentary as an associate editor at the journal, believes the study was ethically questionable.

“Everything was technically kosher,” Oron says. “But, I’m afraid to say, maybe kosher but smelly.”

For his part, Munne says the process the women in the study went through is essentially the same as what women routinely go through in the United States when they donate eggs to help infertile women. Eggs donors in the U.S. are also routinely paid.

“There is no difference between an egg donation cycle and what we did here,” Munne says.

Embryos produced in the study already have been used to create at least five pregnancies and three healthy babies.

The remaining embryos have been frozen for use by other couples experiencing infertility problems, according to John Buster, another member of the research team.

Jan. 22 National Sanctity of Human Life Day

 

President Trump declares Jan. 22 National Sanctity of Human Life Day

In a proclamation signed on Monday, President Donald Trump declared January 22 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day, signifying the importance of valuing human life from the moment of fertilization until natural death.

“Every person – the born and unborn, the poor, the downcast, the disabled, the infirm, and the elderly – has inherent value,” he wrote. “Although each journey is different, no life is without worth or is inconsequential; the rights of all people must be defended.”

Today, January 22, is a date of great significance in the pro-life movement as it was on January 22, 1973, that the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v. Wade ruling. Trump, following the lead of other presidents, has declared January 22 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day in 2018 and 2019. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush each did the same.

As noted in the proclamation, there has been a decline in the national number of abortions since 2007, however, abortions at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, rose from 332,757 in 2017 to 345,672 in 2018. Planned Parenthood now commits 40 percent of all U.S. abortions.

“All Americans should celebrate this [national] decline in the number and rate of abortions, which represents lives saved,” wrote President Trump. “Still, there is more to be done, and, as President, I will continue to fight to protect the lives of the unborn.”

Trump wrote that he has asked Congress to work to end abortions on preborn children who can feel pain. Though Trump mentioned that these would be “later-term babies,” new information from a pro-abortion researcher shows that preborn children are likely capable of feeling some form of pain starting around 13 weeks gestation – including when they are dismembered during an abortion. The researcher believes the current “consensus” that preborn children don’t experience pain until 24 weeks is inconsistent with the scientific evidence. Other research has indicated preborn children as young as eight weeks are capable of feeling pain to an even greater extent than adults.

Approximately 60 million preborn human beings have been killed in the years since Roe v. Wade was decided.

“On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we celebrate the wonderful gift of life,” wrote President Trump, “and renew our resolve to build a culture where life is always revered.”

Birth control isn’t answer; not even close

By Roxane B. Salonen

I winced at reading Rob Port’s Jan. 2 column scolding social conservatives for not supporting North Dakota State University’s new “Junk Mail” initiative, which aims to curb unplanned pregnancy through mailing students free “safe-sex” education and prophylactics.

My unrest isn’t so much that Port called out pro-lifers for not backing this program, despite fervently disagreeing with it and him. I’m more troubled that so many can’t see the forest through the trees. As a mother and wife, woman of faith and child of God, I feel wholly discouraged, because this scenario has “we’ve completely failed our youth” all over it.

What grieves me most is Port’s assumption that unmarried couples “need” sexual intimacy. He begins by minimizing the effects of abortion-restriction laws, likening them to certain laws on drugs and alcohol. Illegalization of these substances only leads to black markets, he says, since people “want and need” these drugs and will find a way to obtain them somehow.

The “Junk Mail” program bets on “education” and “safe sex” as the solutions to lowering unplanned pregnancy. Again, going with their and Port’s logic, we must accept as fact that people “want or need” abortion, and, preceding that, to be sexually active outside of marriage.

The initiative will fail, firstly because it sends the wrong message. “People are going to drive fast so let’s increase the speed limit” is an apt parallel. (I can see the accidents already.) And like the drug-abuse crisis, it doesn’t even begin to address the “whys.” Why do people “need” drugs? Why do unmarried couples “need” to be sexually active? We’re starting with the wrong premise.

In truth, we’re dealing with an epidemic of broken relationships, porn addiction and a devastating mindset of use versus love. It is a crisis of men and women engaged in sexual intimacy before making themselves irreplaceable to one another through the bonds of marriage, along with any children who might result.

What if, instead of throwing condoms and pills at young people, we reaffirmed the primary reason for sexual intimacy – to bear children? What if we returned to teaching our youth that the purpose of dating is to find a spouse? What if we didn’t scoff at couples marrying before obtaining their graduate degrees?

Remember this? “Bobby and Janie sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Billy in a baby carriage.” The childhood song might seem elementary, but it contains prudent wisdom. Cultivating a culture with an appreciation for this proper order of love would offer an enduring solution, exponentially more effective and satisfying than a pack of condoms.

Rightly ordered relationships bring comfort and safety to couples, along with children who know they’ve been loved and wanted from the beginning and feel assured their parents are committed to each other and them.

Despite how far away we’ve gotten from this beautiful vision, our youth deserve to know this reality. They’re worth our true, considerate caring, not just careless condoms.

Woman says birth control pills led to ‘massive’ blood clots that nearly killed her: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

https://www.fox7austin.com/news/woman-says-birth-control-pills-led-to-massive-blood-clots-that-nearly-killed-her-im-lucky-to-be-alive

 

A 33-year-old British woman says she nearly died after birth control pills led her to develop two “massive” blood clots in her lungs.

Lauren Dyer, of Tamworth, England, told Birmingham Live that she suddenly fainted while home in February 2019. Her brother, who was with her at the time, called an ambulance for Dyer, who was later unable to talk or move “without gasping for air,” the outlet reported.

Tests at Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham revealed Dyer was suffering from two pulmonary embolisms in each of her lungs. The clots started in her pelvis but eventually moved to her lungs, doctors told her.

“I’m very lucky to be alive today,” she told Birmingham Live, adding she didn’t have any warning signs before she passed out. “Usually with blood clots, they start in the legs and your legs will swell and give you pain. Treatment can be given before the travel closer to your heart or brain, but mine developed in the pelvic area and when I passed out [the clots were] passing through my heart.”

Dyer was hospitalized for a number of days, during which time she received a drug that would break up the clots.

“It was a really scary time for me, but mostly my family and close friends,” she said, noting she was worried the health care would force her to cancel a May 2019 trip to southeast Asia.

“I was concerned I wasn’t going to be able to go traveling or it is delayed massively, but the treatment worked within 10 minutes of the drugs being administered. My heart rate started to go down, I gradually needed less oxygen and, before I knew it, over the next 24 hours I was in the clear,” she recalled, adding she spent a few more days in the hospital before she was released.

“I was a bit battered and bruised from all the tubes and drips, had to go on medication for the next six months but I was alive, my heart was OK and everything was all good.”

Birth control pills do not cause blood clots, but they do increase a woman’s risk of developing them. That said, the risk is relatively low. “The rate for getting clots is about 0.3 [percent]  to 1 [percent] over 10 years for a woman on the pill,” states one report on the increased risk.

Women who take combination oral contraceptives — birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin — are the most at risk. Increased estrogen levels can cause blood clots to develop more easily, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The troubling terminations you’ve never heard of

Paul Sullins

Does the termination of an unwanted pregnancy harm women’s mental health? No more than giving birth in such circumstances, according to mainstream social scientists and medical associations. Perhaps. But what about women who terminate a wanted pregnancy?

A new study by sociologist Donald Paul Sullins focuses on this neglected minority – about 1 in 7 of reported abortions in the United States – and finds there is no room for complacency about the effects of abortion among them. In the following interview he talks to MercatorNet about this study, the first of its kind, published in November in the Swiss medical journal Medicina.

* * * * *

Golden Globes award winner Michelle Williams more or less shouted her abortion as a good career move that she does not regret. She has a daughter of 14 and is happily pregnant again at age 39. Isn’t Williams living proof of the therapeutic value of abortion?

Ms. Williams’ declaration is very consistent with the results of my study.  The child she aborted clearly was not a wanted pregnancy, and the study found that women who only aborted one or more unwanted pregnancies experienced much lower affective distress (depression, anxiety, suicidality). This is why ignoring wanted pregnancy abortions, acting as if only unwanted pregnancies were ever aborted, tends to understate how much hurt is out there for women after abortion.

There is no question that the chances for advancement in a highly demanding, competitive career often improve by removing inconvenient persons and commitments, whether through divorce, not crediting someone else’s work, character assassination, or– in Michelle Williams’ case — killing an inconveniently conceived child before birth.  Civilized people generally do not boast about exercising such brutal career realpolitik, but Ms. Williams probably (let us hope for her sake) does not comprehend the humanity of the unborn life she took.

She has no way of knowing what the acceptance and love of that terminated life, a close reflection of her own being, may have contributed to her own growth in dignity and humanity.  For all she knows, her career may have been improved, or maybe her career would have suffered but her life and happiness improved. We have no way of knowing what pain and struggle may lie (lay?) behind her defiant public mask.  Why did she feel the need, after announcing her abortion, to reassure her living child of her love for her?  Did she sense that her daughter (and we) may wonder?

In the #MeToo era, it is also appropriate to ask who was the father of the child she felt she needed to abort. Would presenting this man with a child after having sexual relations with him have impeded her career?  Male sexual exploitation does not end just with hurt feelings or degradation for the woman. Perhaps this was not the case for Ms. Williams, but for every actress who found a pregnancy inconvenient to her career there are probably several men in the film industry who have urged or insisted that she obtain an abortion.

The career obstacle for both men and women of having a child at the wrong time is a mirror image of the career and personal obstructions met by women who refuse to have sex with the right men.  Whatever her personal circumstances, Ms. Williams’ statement reflects the typical Hollywood product, in which women’s sexuality exists primarily to service male desire, and women consequently have little agency. As one Hollywood actress (don’t remember who) said of her new boyfriend, voicing a common feeling of young women today, ” I have to give him what he wants, or he will get it somewhere else.”

Even if some women experience mental health problems after an abortion, research seems to show that these are no greater on the whole than those of women who give birth, and that they soon pass away. Have researchers been missing something?

Yes.  Both the idea that mental health problems are not increased by abortion and that they are not reduced by childbearing are myths perpetrated by poor research, in this case studies that follow women for only a very short time, some only a few days and often only a few months. So far, every study that has followed women 10 years or longer post-abortion have reported significant mental health problems, compared to women who give birth.

It is important to note that most of this difference is not due to psychological deficits from an abortion but to psychological benefits from having a child.  In the Add Health data I studied, childbirth reduced mental health risk by 29% following wanted pregnancies and by 12% even with unwanted pregnancies.

The reasons for this defect in the research, I believe, is that most abortion researchers tend to think of an abortion as a detached clinical event, and do not take into account the way that having an abortion, including making the choice and defending it, alters the life course, relationships and outlook of the woman involved.  As I put it in the paper:

“The experience of deciding upon, experiencing, and recovering from the termination of a pregnancy brings many life factors to bear for women, all of which may influence subsequent mental health. For these reasons, it may be more accurate to conceive of an abortion, not as a discrete cause of mental health outcomes (a clinical event), but as one factor in a complex of influences (a life event) that together affect a woman’s level of psychological well-being or distress.”

It seems amazing that yours is the “first study ever” of wanted pregnancy abortions. Surely there is plenty of evidence of them, especially with the increase in terminations for fetal abnormality, and all we hear about #MeToo and domestic violence?

The most influential researchers have simply assumed that only unwanted pregnancies are aborted. Many studies simply define aborted pregnancies as unwanted, even when not preceded by contraception. In 2008 the American Psychological Association (APA) dismissed all wanted pregnancy abortions as due only to fetal abnormality, but (as I show in the study) such abnormalities, even if we could detect them perfectly (we detect only about 60%) and even if all of them were aborted (many are not), could account for only a small proportion of reported wanted pregnancy abortions.  When not forced to check a box on a survey, very few women spontaneously describe their aborted child as “unwanted”. There is almost always a level of ambivalence, regret and resignation, that is expressed in complex feelings about the abortion.

It is difficult for OB/GYNs in other countries to understand the sales-like pressure to have an abortion faced by women in American abortion clinics. The movie “Unplanned” does a good job of illustrating this. The abortion rate in the United States has been much higher than in countries where abortions are performed in public hospitals with no profit incentive. A recent study of Utah clinics found that just a three-day waiting period resulted in 8% of women reversing their initial decision to have an abortion.

There have been one or two studies of fetal abnormality abortions, and studies that have looked at all abortions regardless of pregnancy intention have thereby included wanted pregnancy abortions mixed in with all the others, but mine is the first study of all wanted pregnancy abortions as a distinct category.

In your study, what data and measures did you use and what did they reveal about wanted pregnancy abortions? How serious were the effects compared to giving birth or unwanted pregnancy abortions?

The study examined the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), which followed a representative cohort of 3,935 ever-pregnant U.S. women from age 15 to age 28, gathering data from three successive interviews. I looked at seven psychological disorders which Add Health measured using criteria from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): depression, suicide ideation, anxiety, and abuse of or addiction to hard drugs, alcohol, opioids or marijuana.  Mental health was compared both before and after pregnancy, abortion and birth, and was adjusted for 20 covariates that, my previous research had suggested, account for higher mental health problems, apart from an abortion.  These were 1 = childhood physical abuse, 2 = childhood sexual abuse, 3 = childhood verbal abuse, 4 = depression, 5 = anxiety, 6 = suicidal ideation, 7 = alcohol abuse, 8 = drug abuse, 9 = nicotine dependence, 10 = cannabis abuse, 11 = conduct problems in school, 12 = neuroticism, 13 = neighborhood integration, 14 = grade point average (gpa), 15 = ever raped, 16 = relationship satisfaction, 17 = educational attainment, 18 = respondent poverty income, 19 = marital status, and 20 = intimate partner violence.

I found that by age 28, U.S. women who had ever had an abortion of a wanted pregnancy were 84% more likely to experience higher numbers of the seven psychological disorders than were women who had carried all wanted pregnancies to term.  Women who had ever aborted any pregnancy were 74% more likely to experience higher psychological disorders compared to those who had given birth.

Experiencing wanted pregnancy abortion led to higher affective distress (depression, anxiety and suicidality) than abortions of unwanted pregnancies, relative to the corresponding births.  Risk of these psychological difficulties was only 18% higher following abortion of only unwanted pregnancies, but 69% higher following abortion of one or more wanted pregnancies.

What is the significance of your finding about substance abuse?

I was surprised to find that whether an aborted pregnancy had been wanted or unwanted had no effect on post-abortion rates of substance abuse.  Overall, risk of substance abuse (of alcohol, opioids, marijuana, or illegal drugs) was twice as high (elevated 100%) for women following any abortion, but was unaffected by pregnancy intention.  Only a few studies have examined the association of abortion and substance abuse; more study is needed to understand what is going on in this area.

My hunch is that pregnancies that may be subject to abortion and substance abuse reflect risk-taking, self-destructive behavior, and their co-occurrence reflects a system of mutually reinforcing moral hazard.  I hope to explore this idea in a future study.

What is it about the design of your study that gives you confidence in its findings?

By comparison to cross-sectional studies that only take a snapshot of women at a single point in time, my study is more like a series of pictures that can show changes over time. The exact same women were interviewed at three points in time to determine the effect of their prior pregnancy history on their current mental health. Only a handful of abortion studies have used such rigorous longitudinal designs.

In addition, the Add Health data, funded by a consortium of U.S. federal agencies, are widely acknowledged to be among the most comprehensive and accurate in the world. Response rates and follow-up rates are high (over 80%) and the measures are well-designed and independently validated.

Having said that, it is important to acknowledge that no empirical study can offer definitive proof, and this one is subject to several limitations. Most importantly, every study of abortion using population data is limited by the fact that many abortions are not reported, so we can only talk about the abortions we know of. Since a woman who is more troubled by her abortion is less likely to report it, I think my study probably understates the true level of post-abortion distress for U.S. women. Other limitations are discussed in the study.

No doubt the fact that you are a Catholic priest working in a Catholic university will provoke some prejudice against your research, so it is interesting that studies by secular researchers  in Scandinavia and by David Fergusson in New Zealand support your findings. What do their studies show?

Pedersen (studying women in Sweden) and Fergusson found similar problems for women following abortions because they used a similar longitudinal design that followed women for a decade or more after their abortion. Fergusson found that ever-aborting women had 1.4 times higher overall risk (not relative to births) of mental health problems; my study found 1.2 times higher risk.

The similarity has nothing to do with their personal religious or moral convictions about abortion as public policy.  Several recent studies from Finland, by scholars who reflect that culture’s uncontroversial acceptance of abortion as reproductive health care, have found similar persistent problems for post-abortion women, such as a doubled risk of suicide, 25% higher overall mortality, and higher emotional distress among women who wanted to give birth.  This doesn’t reflect an anti-abortion bias, but just the fact that Finland has excellent health registry population data and is able to follow women’s health for a long time to see the outcomes.

Accusing me of anti-abortion bias because I am Catholic reflects a shallow ignorance of the Catholic enterprise.  Many scientists today do not even believe in objective truth, and so cannot imagine someone who does not approach scientific topics with anything more than a narrow ideology to propagate.  It is very true that my faith strongly affects my research, but not in the manner critics think.  The principles of the Catholic faith, out of which modern science developed, call for faithful scientists to be rigorously objective in their research.  Only by looking as hard as I can to find empirical evidence that contradicts the claims of my faith can I then have confidence that any resulting findings which may be consistent with faith-claims have any validity. This process — the logic of the null hypothesis — is not external to the scientific method, but is central to what every scientist should be doing.

There is a great deal of bias in abortion research, but it’s not from the religiously oriented scholars for the most part. The main difference between myself and most scholars who research U.S. abortions is that I am not employed or funded by an abortion provider.  Over 90% of U.S. abortion studies have as one or more co-authors a researcher who works for an abortion provider or a research center funded by an abortion provider. Their assertively benign findings about the experience and effects of abortion are highly self-serving and rarely withstand careful scrutiny.

What, so far, has been the response to your latest study from other researchers?

It is too soon to tell much.  Friendly researchers I know (most, but not all, opposed to abortion) have written words of appreciation and praise, and invited a couple of lectures to explain the findings further.  Pro-life attorneys have been ecstatic. With the study I published a “crosswalk” that addresses some critical responses to a similar earlier study from pro-abortion researchers. I will be interested to see what their eventual responses will be to the measures I took in this study to address those concerns.

Rev. Donald Paul Sullins, MDiv., PhD, is a Research Associate Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America and Senior Research Associate at The Ruth Institute. He is also Director of the Leo Institute for Catholic Social Research.

Reference: Sullins DP. Affective and Substance Abuse Disorders Following Abortion by Pregnancy Intention in the United States: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Medicina. 2019 Nov;55(11):741. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1010-660X/55/11/741  The article can be freely accessed and reproduced.

Amazing: Czech Republic celebrates 200 babies saved by baby boxes

 

On the night of January 4, a baby box in the Czech Republic received the 200th child safely surrendered through baby boxes in the country. According to BRNO Daily, the newborn baby boy was safely deposited in a baby box in Blansko.

Ludvík Hess, who spearheaded the effort to bring baby boxes to the Czech Republic in 2005, released a statement that the boy was healthy. After being received in the baby box, the baby was transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Boskovice. Hess revealed that the baby had been named Jan in honor of Jan Juchelka, one of the donors to the baby box project. According to BRNO, “A babybox basically works as a newborn incubator; when a baby is placed in the device, the heating and ventilation systems switch on and, with a slight delay, an alarm alerts medical staff that the baby is there.”

The first baby box in the Czech Republic was installed in 2005, and there are now 76 in the nation. The Blansko baby box which received baby Jan was installed in 2018.

For parents in crisis, the baby box can provide a means of surrendering a newborn without question and without revealing their identity. Baby boxes are becoming more common in many parts of the world. One baby box in the United States received its first newborn less than 30 days after going into operation last fall. Raising public awareness about baby boxes and the life-saving alternative they can provide for families in crisis helps to combat potentially fatal newborn abandonment and ensures people have a place to turn.

Because of baby boxes, in less than 15 years, 200 Czech babies were safely transferred to resources and potentially life-saving care. Hess, who launched the baby box system in the Czech Republic, joked after the 200th baby, “So if there are now 111 girls, how many boys are there?” Each of those 111 girls and 89 boys have had a chance at life because a safe alternative was provided to their birth parents who may not have been able to provide for them in a difficult time.

Communion received on the tongue and while kneeling

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/details/ns_lit_doc_20091117_comunione_en.html

OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF

The most ancient practice of distributing Holy Communion was, with all probability, to give Communion to the faithful in the palm of the hand. The history of the liturgy, however, makes clear that rather early on a process took place to change this practice.

From the time of the Fathers of the Church, a tendency was born and consolidated whereby distribution of Holy Communion in the hand became more and more restricted in favor of distributing Holy Communion on the tongue. The motivation for this practice is two-fold: a) first, to avoid, as much as possible, the dropping of Eucharistic particles; b) second, to increase among the faithful devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Saint Thomas Aquinas also refers to the practice of receiving Holy Communion only on the tongue. He affirms that touching the Body of the Lord is proper only to the ordained priest.

Therefore, for various reasons, among which the Angelic Doctor cites respect for the Sacrament, he writes: “. . . out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this Sacrament. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency” (Summa Theologiae, III, 82, 3).

Over the centuries the Church has always characterized the moment of Holy Communion with sacredness and the greatest respect, forcing herself constantly to develop to the best of her ability external signs that would promote understanding of this great sacramental mystery. In her loving and pastoral solicitude the Church has made sure that the faithful receive Holy Communion having the right interior dispositions, among which dispositions stands out the need for the Faithful to comprehend and consider interiorly the Real Presence of Him Whom they are to receive. (See The Catechism of Pope Pius X, nn. 628 & 636). The Western Church has established kneeling as one of the signs of devotion appropriate to communicants. A celebrated saying of Saint Augustine, cited by Pope Benedict XVI in n. 66 of his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis, (“Sacrament of Love”), teaches: “No one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98, 9). Kneeling indicates and promotes the adoration necessary before receiving the Eucharistic Christ.

From this perspective, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger assured that: “Communion only reaches its true depth when it is supported and surrounded by adoration” [The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2000), p. 90]. For this reason, Cardinal Ratzinger maintained that “the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species” [cited in the Letter “This Congregation” of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 1 July 1, 2002].

John Paul II, in his last Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (“The Church comes from the Eucharist”), wrote in n. 61: “By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, and by being careful not to diminish any of its dimensions or demands, we show that we are truly conscious of the greatness of this gift. We are urged to do so by an uninterrupted tradition, which from the first centuries on has found the Christian community ever vigilant in guarding this ‘treasure.’ Inspired by love, the Church is anxious to hand on to future generations of Christians, without loss, her faith and teaching with regard to the mystery of the Eucharist. There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery, for ‘in this sacrament is recapitulated the whole mystery of our salvation.’”

In continuity with the teaching of his Predecessor, starting with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the year 2008, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, began to distribute to the faithful the Body of the Lord, by placing it directly on the tongue of the faithful as they remain kneeling.

ALSO:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/priest-calls-catholics-to-return-to-receiving-holy-communion-kneeling-to-avert-world-war3?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_

 

Former Planned Parenthood worker: What we did put women’s future pregnancies at risk

 

In a webinar sponsored by And Then There Were None, former Planned Parenthood worker Jayne explained how Planned Parenthood endangered their patients’ future pregnancies. Rh-negative women were not given RhoGAM shots.

If a woman has Rh-negative blood type and aborts a baby who has a positive blood type, a condition called Rh incompatibility can develop in future pregnancies. When fetal red blood cells mix with maternal cells, which can happen during an abortion, miscarriage, or delivery, the woman’s body will develop antibodies. If a future baby also has a positive blood type, these antibodies can attack the child’s red blood cells. This can cause a miscarriage or cause the baby to be born with severe complications leading to jaundice, swelling, brain damage, or death.

To keep the mother from developing these antibodies, she should be given a shot of the drug RhoGAM. The website Medline Plus says that a shot of RhoGAM should be given to every woman with Rh-negative blood type “after a miscarriage or abortion.”

With the way many abortion facilities rush women through their abortions, one can only wonder how many abortion facilities neglect to give these shots.

Jayne describes how women at the Planned Parenthood where she worked weren’t given RhoGAM shots:

[A]t Planned Parenthood, because of the high volume and high-speed, patients were not – you only have 45 minutes to see a patient, and that’s when they come in, as soon as they come off the table it’s one blood pressure. You only take three blood pressures and they’re out the door, even if they’re groggy. [It] doesn’t matter because they have to keep moving. So, if you’re in charge and you have your 10 patients, there’s no way that you’re going to – things are going to get missed. And in this case, many cases, many times these patients were leaving, and not being given that shot – the RhoGAM.

Jayne is now a fertility care nurse practitioner. She sees women come in with frequent miscarriages and infertility and wonders how many of them might have previously had abortions at Planned Parenthood.

 

The problem in Jayne’s abortion facility was exacerbated by the fact that if women went out the door without the shot, Jayne was not allowed to call them and tell them to come back:

As soon as I saw those couple women going out without that shot, I was like, well we need to call them. They need to come back. They have to have that shot. And it was like, we can’t, because everything is kept kind of on the down low so to speak, and so you can’t just call them back…. We can’t call them because, you know, it was a secret kind of thing. So, you don’t call them, and these patients go out.

Because Planned Parenthood wanted to keep the women’s abortions secret, their policy was not to contact any of the women after they left. Their fear was that a family member might discover the abortion and make trouble for the woman or the facility. Because of this, Jayne says, many women never knew they needed a RhoGAM shot. They were set up to have future miscarriages and seriously ill or dying babies, without ever knowing they’d been put at risk.

Jayne gives an example of a patient who nearly left without her RhoGAM shot. In this case, it was because untrained staff made a mistake with her bloodwork:

I had a patient that was [Rh] negative and she had come in, and she was again, you know, zip zip, three blood pressures and you’re out the door.… I said, okay, you’re good, this is your medicine, blah blah blah you’re out the door, and she’s like, well, you know, when I had my son they said that I was supposed to always get a shot, and I was like immediately, oh my gosh, I looked back to make sure, because of course, you’re rushing – am I making a mistake? I went back and I flipped it and and I’m like no – you know what – hold on though, hold on a second, because if you’re saying that you were at the hospital and they said you had a blood type and needed a shot, you’re going to need a shot here. So, let me just get them to redo your bloodwork…. You’re not even getting bloodwork that’s reliable.

If this woman hadn’t spoken up, she would have left without the shot.

This one Planned Parenthood facility put many women at risk for future miscarriages and child loss, just because they had untrained staff who rushed women through the facility. Planned Parenthood wanted to make a profit and didn’t care about women’s future babies, even if those babies were wanted. There is no way to know how common this problem is at Planned Parenthood.

New York Pressures OB-GYNs To Perform Abortions Or Leave Medicine

https://thefederalist.com/2020/01/13/new-york-pressures-ob-gyns-to-perform-abortions-or-leave-medicine/?fbclid=IwAR1bScMy-yGsuNpQcIzbMGHbQ_SpShq4QHz8AEpOPCJOeKeCuSAhzRT5ZpU

I am a doctor and a caregiver, but above all else, I am a woman of faith. It is my faith that drew me to become an OB-GYN, called me to open my own practice to treat women with dignity and compassion, and that helps me navigate the daily challenges of my profession. But two months ago, Planned Parenthood and the state of New York convinced a court to strike down federal regulations that protect medical professionals like me from being forced to perform procedures—like abortions and physician-assisted suicide—that violate our consciences.

Supported by my colleagues at the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and by the federal government, I have asked a federal appellate court to intervene and allow me to continue to provide compassionate medical care without being forced to violate my conscience.

As an OB-GYN, I am present during the most intimate moments in the life of a mother, father, and child. I have the privilege of placing children into the arms of their mothers for the very first time. I also have to deliver the life-altering news of infertility and guide mothers and fathers through the tragedy of a lost pregnancy.

This work cannot be done impersonally. I cannot leave my humanity at the door. I give all my patients the degree of care that I would a close friend or loved one. I provide them the advice that I would want to receive, bringing my best judgment to their situations.

While walking with women through some of their greatest joys and sorrows, I am called to offer more than just my medical expertise. I am called to provide the compassionate guidance of a friend, to be Christ’s outstretched arms for the women who enter my practice. But if Planned Parenthood and New York succeed in blocking conscience protections for medical professionals, I may be forced to either perform procedures that violate my conscience or leave my practice and the profession entirely.

These federal conscience protections, known as the Conscience Rule, merely allow the government to enforce laws that have been on the books with bipartisan support for decades. These laws, like the Weldon Amendment and the Coates-Snow Amendment, simply prevent tax dollars from being used to force pro-life doctors like me from performing abortions.

But Planned Parenthood and New York don’t like that, so they sued to render those long-established and bipartisan laws toothless. Without the Conscience Rule in place, religious doctors and nurses across the country are at greater risk of being forced to perform procedures that violate our core beliefs.

I cannot take the life of a child in one room and guide another child into this world in the next. Nor can I care for one elderly woman while helping another end her life. That would not only undermine my most deeply held religious beliefs and my medical judgment, but also the oath I took as a medical professional.

Medical professionals have the privilege and the honor of serving those in need. For doctors like me, our job is our calling. And we do not take this calling lightly. Each and every day, we make decisions in reliance on our medical judgment and the best interest of our patients. Government bureaucrats should not insert their politics into these critical and deeply personal medical decisions.

My faith is at the heart of who I am. It is what drives me to put the needs of women and their children first every day. It makes me a better doctor. For decades, our country has recognized that a big, diverse nation like ours can deliver high-quality medical care without making taxpayers force people of faith to violate their core beliefs. If we forget that insight, we’ll hurt both doctors and patients.

Dr. Regina Frost is an OB-GYN and a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

When little Adeline, conceived in rape, was born, her grandfather ‘fell in love in one second’

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(Save The 1) “Is Kristi pregnant?” That was never a question I expected my pastor and friend to ever ask me over the phone on a Sunday afternoon after we arrived home from church the morning of April 22nd, 2018. I thought, if my 18 year old daughter was pregnant, he would have heard it from me, or from us, right?

I answered with a slow, “No… Ah… I don’t know… Let me call you back.” It seemed my words sounded as if they were purposely edited as special sound effects for a film. I felt as if my head for the first time completely emptied itself. The only thought or sound left was like a very far off siren that rang “Kristi’s pregnant, Kristi’s pregnant, Kristi’s pregnant.” How could that be? And suddenly, I knew she was.

It was one more crisis to deal with. My mother had just died of cancer a month earlier. A few months before that, my father fell down some icy steps walking outside a restaurant in Munich, breaking up the right side of his body: shoulder, arm, hip, knee and leg. After he got out of the hospital, I went to Munich to help take care of him for a few months.

Prior to that, we’d had a busy year, having just premiered our first full-length feature film in our local town. We produced, wrote, directed and acted in it —  a true story about our personal testimonies surrendering our lives to the Lord. It was 15 years ago that I learned I had a 3-year-old daughter named Kristi and was struck with awesome joy, even though I knew nothing about her, her mother, or even if she really was my daughter until DNA testing was complete. We spent a year non-stop making that film and had a crew of about 40 people using our house as a full-time production office.

The day following our premiere, we were given notice we would have to move from our rented rural Montana house where I’d lived for 19 years. I loved that house — a 4-acre property by the edge of the woods and near the river, 6 miles out of town. As a single parent, I raised Kristi there most of her life. The property was old and going to be torn down to be commercially redeveloped.

Within 12 hours of completing the move into our new house, I lit a fire in the fireplace, and after I fell asleep, the rafters in the attic caught on fire. Everything was ruined and uninhabitable, but thank God Kristi was away at a dance that evening. The Fire Captain told me the smoke detector saved my life.

Whatever we had left was moved into storage and during the next few months, we moved in and out of several motels, various friends’ houses and eventually a small camp trailer with a door which wouldn’t completely shut.

With all of that going on, it’s no wonder I didn’t know Kristi was pregnant. She was very small and didn’t show for the first 6 ½ months, especially through her winter clothes.

After the call from my pastor, I hung up the phone, waited a moment, took a deep breath, looked up at God saying in my heart, “I need you again please” and walked into Kristi’s room. Immediately, I was emotionally struck and began hugging her telling her how much I love her and how proud I am of her. Even though I didn’t mention anything else, nor did I know any of the details, she instantly realized I knew she was pregnant and we both started crying together. For me, it became tears of joy.

We cried and talked for a long while as I learned she was almost 7 months into her pregnancy. I spoke to my grandchild in the womb, introducing myself as Papa. Kristi hadn’t filled me in yet about having been raped, and was vague in talking much about the father. I do remember having felt something wasn’t right about it, but didn’t want to spoil the moment. I happily knew Kristi would keep her baby, no matter what.

I learned later that she wanted to tell me all along about the pregnancy, but with so much tumult going on in our lives, she didn’t want to just blurt it out. Kristi still had high school graduation ahead and couldn’t seem to find the right time to tell me. She was one of the top students in her school, but the only known girl in that small Christian school ever to graduate pregnant. Still, they supported and loved her through it all.

But most significantly, she was pregnant by rape — a young man who was someone we knew, whose family attended our small church. Of course, no one else knew Kristi had been raped or that she was pregnant. Kristi was afraid to share the details out of fear I would do something bad to this young man and get myself in trouble, and perhaps she was right. As you can imagine, there were in fact bad thoughts going on in my head once I learned what he’d done to my daughter.

In time, my daughter explained how at 17, she had been forced to have sex while locked in this 19-year-old’s car. Kristi had been afraid to go to the police due to being young and under peer pressure, which I understood. This young man supposedly was well-liked and popular, and we were living in a very small mountain town community.

I brought the matter up with the pastors of our church. The rapist, both of his parents, two of the pastors, Kristi and myself had a meeting at the church office one evening where the young man willingly admitted what he had done. While I appreciated his truth-telling and hoped I could find it within me to extend forgiveness, there was no true sign of any remorse on his part.

What really surprised me was that one of the pastors (not the one who had called me) recommended that Kristi and her rapist try marriage counseling “just to see if they could become compatible to raise a baby together!” Of course, Kristi said no, and I wholeheartedly agreed, but then we were told that if she wouldn’t follow the recommendations of the church leaders, she was being selfish and would no longer be welcomed in their church.

At first, we were devastated. We had been attending, serving and being served in that church for over 12 years. It was my first church ever. It had been our extended family. We loved everybody and were loved, until that time. We were there every time the doors were open and involved with several of its ministries. I even headed a couple of ministries and had started a prison ministry there.

But now they wanted us to conceal a crime which had been committed — a crime against my daughter which would change her life forever! So, we left.

On July 27th, 2018, I got to witness Adeline Marie Kollar being born early in the morning at 6:31a.m.. I was the first person she opened her eyes to and smiled at having recognized my voice. I fell in love in one second! It was my gift from God having not known about and missed the first three years of Kristi’s life.

The rapist refused to sign Adeline’s birth certificate, so she was thankfully given our last name; however, his parents tried to start a custody case, while I finally convinced Kristi to file for child support. After our attorney listened to Kristi’s story, he strongly recommended she meet with Victim’s Services. The nice young counselor there convinced Kristi that she really should report the crime to the police — even though it had been 10 months — just so the police would have the young man on their radar, against other possible assaults.

At the police station, I too was interviewed by a young female detective who seemed like she wanted to charge the young man after learning about the story, but that would now depend upon the State. Meanwhile, the detective went to interview the pastors of our former church, the young man, and his parents. She later contacted us and said everyone denied that the young man had made that confession back at the church office meeting….

Continue reading story in full at Save The 1.

BIO: Robert Kollar is a single father, grandfather, post-abortive, and pro-life speaker / blogger for Save The 1. He is also a filmmaker, writer, prison minister, and fatherhood speaker. For more info on his film projects, go to mwmcornerstone.com

Editor’s Note: This article was published at Save The 1 and is reprinted in part here with permission.

Virginia bill would allow birth control, vaccines for kids without parental consent

By Claire Chretien

RICHMOND, Virginia, January 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Democrat-sponsored bill in Virginia would treat minors as adults for the purpose of consenting to birth control, vaccines, and “medical or health services required in case of … pregnancy or family planning except for the purposes of sexual sterilization.”

The bill, Senate Bill 104, includes the stipulation that the commonwealth’s law requiring parental consent for abortion would remain in effect. It would also allow minors to receive “[m]edical or health services needed to determine the presence of or to treat venereal disease or any infectious or contagious disease that the State Board of Health requires to be reported.”

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, a Planned Parenthood–endorsed leftist whose website touts her work as a “lifelong pro-choice advocate” and her “LGBTQ Rights” activism. Favola represents parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties.

For the first time in 26 years, during November’s elections, Democrats seized control of both chambers of the Virginia legislature and the governorship. They have promised to implement a progressive agenda focusing on a variety of liberal issues, including abortion on demand.

Efforts to give minors birth control, HPV shot, PrEP sex drug without parental involvement

One of the most serious side effects of hormonal birth control is blood clots, which can be fatal. In 2016, a 17-year-old Romanian ballerina living in England died from a blood clot caused by hormonal contraception. She is not the only young woman to have died from taking the pill.

“We strongly support the right of loving parents to make informed medical decisions with and for their children,” Michael Ramey, executive director of parentalrights.org, told LifeSiteNews in a previous interview. “Natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interest of their children.”

“Now lawmakers want to steal that role from the parents at the behest of the pharmaceutical companies,” he said. “Unlike lawmakers, parents aren’t getting campaign contributions; their only motivation is the health and well-being of their child.”

For more than a decade, there have been efforts underway in New York to allow teens to receive the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine without parental consent. The New York Department of Health ultimately simply changed regulations after legislative efforts failed.

A May 2019 New Jersey bill would have allowed minors as young as 14 to receive various shots without parental consent. California; Delaware; and Washington, D.C., allow minors to be vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis B without parental involvement.

Meanwhile, “no jurisdiction explicitly prohibits minors’ access to PrEP” — a daily sex drug meant to lower risk of HIV contraction — “without parental/guardian consent,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Sixteen jurisdictions have statutes/regulations that explicitly allow minors of a particular age to independently access PrEP; the age for access varies by jurisdiction,” the CDC says. “However, minors might still be legally allowed to access PrEP without parental/guardian consent in some jurisdictions without explicit statutes/regulations.”

PrEP is intended for people who engage in risky sexual activity with partners of unknown or positive HIV status and those who share needles when injecting drugs. It does not guarantee protection from HIV.

Whether kid is competent to ‘consent’ totally up to ‘health care practitioners’  

S.B. 104 comes amid an aggressive push to force more children to receive optional medical interventions — i.e., vaccines — regardless of parental concerns about aborted fetal tissue in most vaccines and the shots’ manufacturer-acknowledged risks, such as seizuresdiabetes, and death. There has been widespread panicked media coverage about vaccine “foes” and diseases like measles, with social media giants censoring or putting warnings above content that questions the safety of vaccines.

If S.B. 104 becomes law, there will be no guarantee parents will know if their children had received vaccines at daycare, at school, or at another location. It seems that under the proposed law, after having been deemed “to the satisfaction of a health care practitioner” to possess “the ability to understand at the same comprehension level as an adult the risks and benefits associated with vaccinations and immunizations,” there is no mechanism in place to notify parents after their children “consented” to a vaccine.

“A minor shall also be deemed an adult for the purpose of accessing or authorizing the disclosure of medical records related to” the subdivisions of the bill that allow minors to consent to vaccines and birth control, the bill says. That language originally did not cover vaccinations — only medical records about birth control, STDs, and some mental health or substance abuse-related matters.

If a child experienced serious side effects from a vaccine or birth control, parents’ lack of knowledge of the shot or drug having been administered could prevent them and emergency room doctors from effectively treating the child. It’s unclear if parents would ever be able to access the medical records indicating that their child had received birth control or a vaccination.

The bill also opens the door for children to, unbeknownst to parents, receive double doses of government-recommended shots. This could happen if at daycare or school a child was deemed by a “health care practitioner” to be mature enough to consent to a vaccine, received that vaccine, did not tell his parents, and then was subsequently administered by a family pediatrician the same vaccine with parental permission.

In Virginia, minors need parental permission to be given Advil in school or have their ears pierced.

Concerned citizens can find contact information for legislators HERE and HERE.

Mom Changed Her Mind During the Middle of the Abortion, Today Zechariah is 6

GAYLE IRWIN

Rebekah Hagan is grateful for the life of her six-year-old son, and she wants to give back by helping other moms facing adversity in pregnancy.

After making a courageous decision in the spring of 2013 to try and save her son’s life through Abortion Pill Reversal, the California mom of three speaks to audiences about her experiences, works to raise awareness about APR (see Editor’s note below), and she helps other young women make their own brave choices.

Nearly seven years ago, Hagan began the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol after she had taken mifepristone, the first pill of the two-pill chemical abortion process, at a Planned Parenthood facility in Sacramento.

“I thought of all the reasons to abort,” she said. “I already had a child and was newly single. I was afraid of losing my home with my parents. I had a fear mind-set, and I didn’t plan to tell anyone.”

She’d had her first son, Eli, when she was 18 and still in high school. The father of this child was also Eli’s father. However, “it was a toxic relationship,” she recalled. She had left the man and returned to her parents’ home.

“I knew Eli and I were not safe (with him),” Hagan said.

Because of these circumstances, she thought abortion was her only option.

“Sometimes abortion looks like hope,” she said.

After taking that first abortion pill, however, she immediately experienced regret.

“I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my gosh, what did I just do?’” she recalled. “You don’t know how to advocate for yourself. I didn’t think to ask questions. You are sent on your way with a little brown bag and are told, ‘There’s no going back.’”

This was March 13, 2013, and Eli had been born on March 14. The coincidence with the dates hit her hard.

“I prayed for forgiveness and then began searching online for how the abortion might be stopped,” she said.

She discovered information about Abortion Pill Reversal, originally spearheaded by Dr. George Delgado. With the help of a doctor in her area, she began the progesterone regimen.

Somehow, the Planned Parenthood facility found out; the staff contacted her and told her the baby would have birth defects if it survived the treatment, Hagan said.

They were proven wrong.

“I have a healthy and active six-year-old boy,” she said.

She named him Zechariah. “I liked the meaning of the name,” Hagan said.

The Hebrew meaning is ‘The Lord has remembered.’

“I see God’s hand in it all,” she said.

Hagan recently had her third child, a girl whom she and husband Kramer named Lydia.

Serving and raising awareness

Hagan was raised in a Christian home, however, like some young people raised in a faith-based family, she made choices that went against her family’s beliefs. After finding hope and redemption with the assistance of Abortion Pill Reversal, she began sharing her experience with others. Public speaking opportunities came, and she responded with enthusiasm.

“I wanted to give back,” she said. “The public speaking has grown. It was a natural progression because of the relationship with people involved.”

Hagan speaks between 15 and 20 times a year, in churches, pregnancy centers and schools. She has also testified before state legislators regarding informed consent bills.

She is also able to personally connect with women who find her on Facebook, and she’s able to provide them encouragement.

For example, 25-year-old “Samantha”* was in an emotionally abusive relationship and though she started a medical abortion, she changed her mind.

“Although she wasn’t with the guy anymore, he still controlled her,” Hagan said. “I’d recite truth to her. She delivered a baby boy at the end of November. Even when you choose life, things don’t just go away. (But) she is grateful she didn’t go through with the abortion.”

Additionally, 17-year-old “Jessica”* who had gotten involved with the “hook-up culture” on the East Coast, according to Hagan, was put in contact with her.

“Her main concern was disabilities,” Hagan said. “There is so little information, truthful information, out there online. Women wonder if they will be okay and if the baby will be okay. I want to help them.”

Hagan said she is grateful to help women like Samantha and Jessica.

“These moms have been spared the trauma of abortion,” she said.

Hagan also serves at a California pregnancy center.

For the past three years, she has worked as the community outreach coordinator for Sierra Pregnancy & Health in Roseville, near Sacramento. This year, the center plans to add Abortion Pill Reversal to their services offered to women.

As a decade dawns, more than 900 babies’ lives have been saved thanks to APR and courageous women like Hagan.

The Abortion Pill Rescue Network is now coordinated by Heartbeat International, with support from Dr. Delgado and many other medical professionals.

Hagan continues to advocate for APR, saving women and babies from the horror of abortion, giving women another choice and a second chance for themselves and their unborn children.

“The reality is the majority of women are conflicted … in this decision. APR gives women another choice and a second chance,” Hagan said. “It’s life-changing and life-saving.”

LifeNews Note: Gayle Irwin writes for PregnancyHelpNews, where this originally appeared.

Model in labor responds to Michelle Williams: ‘Babies do not keep us from our dreams’

By Doug Mainwaring

January 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – After Michelle Williams used her award acceptance speech to promote abortion at the Golden Globes on Sunday, a Catholic model in labor took the time to record an Instagram video challenging Williams’ statement that abortion was integral to her success as an actress.

“I’m here getting ready to deliver my fifth baby,” said Leah Darrow, a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, from her hospital bed. “And I want to let all you women know, all you young ladies who haven’t had babies or are maybe listening to what the culture says about birth, and women, and babies, and choice.”

“Babies don’t keep us from our dreams,” she declared.

“I’m getting ready to deliver a baby that will not keep me from my professional growth, but will make me better because of it,” she continued. “And I’m so honored and excited, and I can’t wait to have this baby.”

Darrow wasn’t the only one who took to social media to push back against Williams’ Golden Globe speech in which she hinted that having an abortion enabled her to succeed professionally.

Eric Sammons@EricRSammons

A little reminder to last night’s Golden Globe winners, especially Michelle Williams.

“How sad it must be to trade an innocent human life for a tiny golden statue. Praying for Michelle Williams,” tweeted Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director whose conversion to pro-life activism is depicted in the film Unplanned, drawing a comparison that many others did as well.

Abby Johnson@AbbyJohnson

How sad it must be to trade an innocent human life for a tiny golden statue. Praying for Michelle Williams.

1,090 people are talking about this

“Only in Hollywood are you able to announce that you murdered a baby in exchange for a hunk of metal with your name on it and have the crowd cheer for you,” said Elizabeth Fortmeyer in a video she posted on Twitter.

“Abortion is not birth control. Abortion is premeditated murder of an innocent child, depriving them of their right to life,” she continued.

“As a woman, I am sick of this belief that all women should be okay with murdering their children for personal gain,” said Fortmeyer. “Real women are pro-life.”

Elizabeth Fortmeyer 🇺🇸@eafortmeyer

Yesterday, Michelle Williams accredited ABORTION for her Golden Globe, and suggested that all women should be in favor of it.

As a woman, I am sick of this belief that all women should be okay with murdering their children for personal gain.

Real women are pro-life.

“Only in Hollywood can you get [cheers] for telling the crowd that you traded a baby for an award,” said Gonzales. “That a piece of metal is infinitely better than the tiny human life that you created inside you. That the fancy gown and the jewelry that you’re wearing is way more important than your own flesh and blood.”

“Hollywood, you all are messed up,” she added.

Sara Gonzales

@SaraGonzalesTX

Michelle Williams proudly thanked her abortion for her Golden Globe…WHAT is WRONG with these people?!

Embedded video

292 people are talking about this

“Michelle Williams, while visibly pregnant, claims she wouldn’t have won her Golden Globe Award if she didn’t kill her previous child,” tweeted Live Action Founder and President Lila Rose, who gave birth to her first child days ago.

“No trophy is worth more than a child’s life,” said Rose. “Sacrificing our children to pursue our dreams is the total antithesis of women’s empowerment.”

Lila Rose

@LilaGraceRose

Michelle Williams, while visibly pregnant, claims she wouldn’t have won her Award if she didn’t kill her previous child.

No trophy is worth more than a child’s life.

Sacrificing our children to pursue our dreams is the total antithesis of women’s empowerment.

Embedded video

13K people are talking about this

Chris Stefanick, a well-known speaker, author, and President of Real Life Catholic, pointed out:

Chris Stefanick@ChrisStefanick

This is survival of the fittest:
I’m big-You’re small.
I’m strong-You’re weak, and you’re standing between me and my “success.”
Humans were made for more than this. But when we abandon God, we applaud as we return to acting like animals on a Savannah. https://churchpop.com/2020/01/06/pregnant-actress-michelle-williams-attributes-abortion-to-her-success-at-golden-globes/ 

Pregnant Actress Michelle Williams Attributes Abortion to Her Success at Golden Globes |

Lord have mercy! Please pray for Michelle Williams! 🙏

churchpop.com

166 people are talking about this

Princeton Professor Robert George, former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, described the Hollywood crowd’s response to Williams as “Pavlovian” and “drearily predictable.”

Robert P. George@McCormickProf

Michelle Williams’ little speech and the crowd’s drearily predictable–nearly Pavlovian–response crystallized the self-focus, shallowness, narrowness of vision, insularity, parochialism, and groupthink of the celebrity culture. There it was, on full display, for all to see. https://twitter.com/xan_desanctis/status/1214208667370823680 

Alexandra DeSanctis

@xan_desanctis

Last night at the Golden Globes, Michelle Williams said she couldn’t have been successful without “employing the right to choose,” telling women everywhere that they need abortion in order to succeed. My latest: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-right-to-choose-what-michelle-williams/ 

144 people are talking about this

“Dear Michelle Williams,” wrote Kristan Mercer Hawkins, President of Students for Life, on Facebook: “Your remarks at the Golden Globes were heartbreaking. Like many post-abortive mothers, you disguised your hurt with a political speech to seek absolution from the world for your past abortion decision(s). It’s so sad that you credit an act of violence, abortion, for your career success. The second wave of Feminism has clearly failed as millions of women like you have been deceived into believing that you must kill another in order to succeed in your career.”

“Abortion is the opposite of female empowerment,” said Hawkins. “An abortion says you thought you weren’t strong enough to achieve your goals and care for the new human you created. It’s the pro-life movement that seeks the full empowerment of women, showing women they are superheroes and can do both.”

Joy Pullman, writing at The Federalist, explained what Williams got wrong in her speech:

Chiefly, it’s the underlying idea that human lives are a worthy trade-off for career achievement. If someone put a gun to a child’s head on the Golden Globes stage and said to Williams, “You can have your award, but the price is this child’s life,” hopefully she would have said “F— that award, save the child.” But here she is on a global stage, not only admitting that she has already done essentially the same thing to an even smaller human, but also encouraging other girls and women to do likewise — to repeated Hollywood applause.

I can think of few stronger expressions of moral corruption than “This child must die so I can live as I please.” Yet this is the tradeoff we are constantly told epitomizes women’s empowerment. Bunk. What does it profit a woman to gain a major industry award if the price is the life of an innocent child? What kind of “success” is it to rise at the cost of other people’s existence? What kind of society encourages people to think and live this way? A sick, self-cannibalizing one.

National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis took Williams to task for couching her message in terms of “a woman’s right to choose” rather than speaking straightforwardly about abortion.

No one disagrees that women have the right to make their own choices. The abortion debate exists not because a large faction believes women should be deprived of the “right to choose” but rather because of the choice in question: to end the life of a distinct human being. Abortion-rights supporters such as Williams aren’t part of the debate at all because they are intentionally deceptive about the heart of the argument. And who can blame them? It’s far easier to issue euphemistic speeches about women’s empowerment to thunderous applause than it is to defend the taking of an innocent human life.”

A man who wishes to remain anonymous remarked to LifeSiteNews:

I wonder if a day will come when Williams will look at this worthless Golden Globe trophy she’s holding and wish she were cradling her missing child instead.

It was a decade of disappearing youth for the United States

Shannon Roberts

https://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/it-was-a-decade-of-population-decline-for-the-united-states/23167

As we enter the 2020s, the world has become increasingly cognisant of the need for more babies after a decade of worryingly low growth.

In the United States the population grew by only 0.48% between 2018 and 2019, according to newly released Census Bureau estimates.  That is the lowest annual growth rate since 1918.

In fact, according to analysis from the Brookings Institute, it “caps off a decade that should show the slowest 10-year population growth since the first census was taken in 1790.”

The United States birth rate fell to a 32-year low in 2018, and 30 states experienced decade-wide declines in youth population, with California losing as many as 400,000 young people.  The nation as a whole sustained an absolute decline of 1.14 million youth between 2010 and 2019.

The dramatic decline in the youth population comes at a time when there is a large ageing population which will increasingly rely on young people for support, through their friendship, employment and their taxes.

As a result, the Census Bureau projects that from 2030 immigration will account for more than half of the nation’s population growth.  Thus, racial proportions will shift significantly.  By 2030, whites will have dropped to 55.8% of the population, and Hispanics will have grown to 21.1%. The percentage of black and Asian Americans will also grow significantly.

What are the root causes of such an unprecedented situation?  Family life is changing dramatically the world over.  According to Steve Mosher, president of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, we need to offer more positive encouragement to young couples to get married and have children.  He considers there are three fundamental root causes of low fertility:

  1. Abortion: “The first thing that we as a people must address is abortion on demand, which has led to sex without responsibility, and the wanton destruction of the unborn.”.
  2. The porn epidemic: “The second thing we must address is the porn epidemic, which is devastating young men. It has undermined healthy relationships between the sexes, and led to virtual sex replacing procreative sex.”  This trend haunts many countries and is an increasingly scary factor as porn usage surges.  In an era of celebrated female liberation it is ironic that women have never been more objectified.
  3. Student loans: “The third thing we must deal with are student loans.  These ‘debt traps’ have left millions of young people saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt that will take years, or even decades, to pay back, depressing marriage and birth rates.”  According to the College Board, the total amount borrowed by grad students in particular has been climbing.  Mosher suggests the forgiveness of student debt in proportion to how many children a couple have; a type of family subsidy tied to student loan debt.  Other countries also provide examples of less crippling systems than the United States, such as systems where paying off student loan debt is tied to future income, and effectively paid as an additional payment (collected along with tax payments) on all future income until it is paid off.

Many places continue to fail to address the underlying issues facing young people and families, but as Mosher warns: “Children are the only future a family has. Indeed, they are the only future a nation has.”  The 2020s may mark a turning point as we continue to see people wake up to this.

LA Inserts Planned Parenthood Between Parents and Children

Mary Rose Short

LOS ANGELES — When officials from the County of Los Angeles announced a new program to staff “Well-Being Centers” on 50 high-school campuses with Planned Parenthood employees, they noted that the “full range of sexual services” provided to students at these centers will be completely confidential.

Thanks to Title X, students as young as 12 years old can already legally access Planned Parenthood’s services without their parents’ knowledge. But inserting Planned Parenthood in public-school campuses, and allowing students to leave class to visit these centers, is a dangerous further step toward cutting parents out of their children’s lives, concerned observers warn.

“One of the things that Planned Parenthood always said when I was training them is that parents are a barrier to service,” Monica Leal Cline, the executive director of It Takes a Family, told the Register. “They recognize that a parent will naturally want to protect their child and keep them from an environment that would put them into danger.

“They are aware that when a parent knows that a child is accessing services at a Planned Parenthood, they are going to stop that and then start to educate the child themselves, which means Planned Parenthood loses a customer. So they don’t want the parent to be involved.”

Cline spent 10 years working with Planned Parenthood as a sex educator. She started doing street outreach as an HIV prevention educator after being trained by Planned Parenthood on how to reach teenagers and eventually went on to be a Title X training manager for all of Texas and New Mexico. She worked for a company that provided government-mandated trainings for clinics receiving Title X funding, including Planned Parenthood, and spent a lot of time training Planned Parenthood employees.

Cline had a religious conversion 10 years ago and founded It Takes a Family to “equip and strengthen parents to reclaim parenthood and become their children’s greatest advocates and educators.”

In the Los Angeles Health Department’s press release about the new centers last month, Sue Dunlap, CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, highlighted the secrecy possible when students can get to Planned Parenthood at school and don’t have to explain to anyone, even their parents, where they went. She said that when students leave campus, it “means time away from class, money for transportation, and explaining your whereabouts to others, all hurdles that loom large for teens.”

In contrast, when Planned Parenthood is installed on a campus, parents never need to be informed that their child is accessing sexual services.

 

‘Cycle of Hopelessness’

Another boon for Planned Parenthood, and blow to parents’ rights, is California’s Healthy Youth Act (HYA), which came into effect in 2016 and mandates comprehensive sex education for public middle- and high-schoolers and encourages sex education beginning in kindergarten. In accord with the HYA, the California Department of Education K-12 curriculum guidelines include, for example, suggestions that first-grade students write reports on a book that describes the sexual act and that teachers of fourth- to sixth-grade students use another book that encourages masturbation in order to “initiate dialogue for the group chats.”

“If a child believes and follows everything that they are being taught through graphic sex education in California, then they will naturally have a need for condoms, lubrication, hormonal contraception, STI testing and treatment and abortion,” Cline said about how the HYA benefits Planned Parenthood. “It is the perfect sales tools to have a lifelong customer. That’s the hopelessness that they are selling.”

“The only hope of comprehensive sex education is this: become sexually active,” Cline said. “That is the expectation. Get comfortable with the fact that you will get a disease, but you can lessen the chance of it by using condoms and lubrication. And when that doesn’t work, you can get tested. And then you get treated. And when you have an unplanned pregnancy, you get an abortion. Then you just continue on that cycle your whole life. It’s a cycle of hopelessness for our children that is destroying them emotionally and physically.”

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, the executive director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and a speaker for the VIDA Initiative, has, like Cline, seen how Planned Parenthood encourages sexual activity among students.

“I was a Planned Parenthood volunteer in college when they recruited me for an AIDS-prevention program,” Gutierrez said. “I got to see how they work to break down modesty and the values most parents want to transmit to their children. The topic of sex is treated in an utterly disrespectful way. The message of chastity as an alternative would have no place in the atmosphere they create.”

“It has never been the intention to stop school-age children from having sex,” Cline agreed. “It has always been the intention to just teach them how to do it ‘safer.’ Comprehensive sex education and Planned Parenthood are all about meeting school-age children where they’re at and leaving them there. They believe our children are sexual from birth, which is why we see Planned Parenthood — and anyone who supports comprehensive sex education — hypersexualizing children even in elementary school.”

Cline also noted the health department’s announcement that Planned Parenthood will train students to reach their peers.

“Not only will the children be exposed to graphic sex education that only sets up the expectation for becoming sexually active and normalizing STIs and all of that,” she said, “but they’re also going to train those school-age children to teach graphic sex education to each other.”

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department did not respond to requests for comment about the health-centers initiative.

Student and Parent Concerns

Frida Plata, who attends Gahr High School in southeast Los Angeles, is committed to fighting back against Planned Parenthood’s promotion of contraception and abortion.

“At school I’ve had debates with teachers and students on the topic of abortion,” she said. “The fact that Planned Parenthood is trying to go into high schools is really devastating.”

Plata said she knows multiple girls from her high school who have had abortions. Four years ago, Plata gave information about Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats to a middle-school classmate who had had an abortion and regretted it.

What if Planned Parenthood comes into Plata’s school?

“I’m definitely going to take action and go around handing out flyers and informing students about the truth of what happens behind the doors of Planned Parenthood and what their true evil plans are. I would organize marches. I would do anything that is possible for Planned Parenthood not to be in my school.”

Although parents have a legal right to have their children excused from instruction that “conflicts with the[ir] religious training and beliefs,” the onus is on parents to obtain the instructional materials from their children’s schools, review them and submit a written request to have their children excused from the objectionable classes.

Gutierrez, a Los Angeles native, has worked for almost 20 years with the families being targeted by the new Los Angeles County program and speaks to thousands of parents every year in Los Angeles-area churches.

“Few parents are aware of Planned Parenthood’s agenda to indoctrinate their children into embracing abortion and contraception as a good, and as inevitable, and to break down their innocence at an early age,” Gutierrez said. “They are also unaware of the many ways Planned Parenthood attempts to usurp their role as parents.

“Through the ‘well-being centers,’ Planned Parenthood is attempting to be the primary confidante when it comes to questions about sexuality. In my presentations, I seek to equip parents to assume their God-given role as the primary educators of their children. Parents must send a clear message to Planned Parenthood that they are not welcome in their schools and communities.”

“I’m scared,” said Lucy Koes, whose son will start Alhambra High School in the fall. “My job is to protect my child at any cost, and they are taking that from me. That’s my concern with my son going off to public high school. I’m already trying to talk to him, trying to get the message across: Just be careful what they’re presenting to you.”

“The unfortunate thing is they’re only presenting one side,” Koes said about the HYA curriculum. “I just remember in high school the same thing when they had sex education. It was: You’re going to do it. They never once brought up abstinence and self-control. I remember feeling so disrespected and thinking, ‘Give me all the information so I can make a proper decision.’ But they’re controlling what information you’re given, so they control what you do.”

“I’m sure there are other parents in the same situation who don’t have a choice but to send them to public school,” Koes said. “We’re basically going to lose our children. I have sleepless nights over that and just a lot of prayer: Lord, help me here.”

“It’s pretty scary,” Cline said, regarding Planned Parenthood’s sexualization of children. “And the only way they can make it happen is to keep parents ignorant and to ensure that they have like-minded legislators and decision-makers that will help pass it, regardless of how parents feel about it.”

 

Saving Lives and Souls

Gutierrez believes parents’ influence can save lives.

“Just last night, I saw a young woman who I had counseled some years ago when she found out she was pregnant at the age of 18,” Gutierrez said. “At first she thought about abortion, and she understood how easy it was to get one, due to the pro-choice sex education at her school, but she thought about her parents and the values they had taught her, and she decided instead to speak to her priest about her excruciating dilemma. He referred her and her mom to Los Angeles Pregnancy Services. Last night she was radiant with joy and gratitude, and I got to shake the hand of a beautiful 5-year-old boy who she says is the light of her life.”

“It is more important than ever for parents to pray and fast for their children and to take seriously and actively their role as primary educators — especially in the area of chastity,” Gutierrez said. “And they must remain vigilant regarding Planned Parenthood and their insidious, taxpayer-funded programs to ensnare the lives and souls of their children.”

Register correspondent Mary Rose Short writes from Southern California.

Population expert: I stand accused of causing a ‘progeny calamity’ for being ‘pro-natal

January 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Like all public figures, I get my share of crank letters in the mail.  Most of these go right where they belong—spiraling downward into the circular file that sits on the floor by my desk.

But every so often one comes in that catches my attention, like the “Certificate of Recognition” I recently received from a former Stanford colleague of mine.

In it, he hammers me for my “Pro-Natal Conduct” and my “reprehensible ignorance” of “Climate Change Science.” Don’t I know, he says, that more people means “an Unraveling Social, Economic and Environment, Extreme Weather Events, Massive Midwest Flooding, Rising Oceans, Never-Before-Seen tornado and Hurricane Seasons.”

Image

Running out of room on the “Certificate”–but not out of words–he ranted on for three more pages about how I was “betraying my grandchildren.”  Among other things, he claimed that “the world is adding 87 million people a year,” “a billion people have no access to fresh clean water,” “energy resources are finite,” and “minerals will definitely run out.”

Such is the value of a Stanford education these days that he is completely, absolutely, and fundamentally wrong on every single point.

“Climate Change”

My hysterical colleague (along with every single Democratic candidate for president) apparently believes that global temperatures are reaching the boiling point.  But the best evidence, published recently in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, shows a warming rate of just 0.095C per decade over the last 38 years.  One-tenth of a degree every ten years is about half the rate predicted by the computer models on which the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and various government agencies rely for their predictions of climate doom.

Why is that significant? Because it suggests that someone is tinkering with the models–the only basis for predictions of future temperature—to suggest that the warming will be much more dramatic than it actually is.  This is what happens when scientific questions are heavily politicized–as questions concerning the cause, extent, and threat of global warming have been.

“ … An Unraveling Social, Economic and Environment.” 

My colleague echoes AOC in suggesting that “The end is near.”  But by every available metric, from life spans to caloric consumption, human beings are better off than they have ever been in human history.  Over the past 250 years or so, living standards have improved so dramatically that the average person on the planet now lives longer, eats better and enjoys better housing than European nobility in the Middle Ages. What would King Henry VIII of England have given for a refrigerator, much less for a smartphone or penicillin?

We live in the best of times, not the worst of times.

“ … Extreme Weather Events, Massive Midwest Flooding, Rising Oceans, Never-Before-Seen tornado and Hurricane Seasons.” “

To listen to my hysterical colleague, we are experiencing the last days of the Planet Krypton.  But the evidence simply does not bear this out.  Take the issue of hurricanes, for example.  Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was forced to admit in 2012: “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

“Low confidence” is science-speak for “there is no evidence.”

“ … The world is adding 87 million people a year,”

Typical exaggeration on the part of the gloom and doom types.  The world actually added 81 million people in 2019.  Global population numbers may be somewhat inflated as well.  There is some evidence that China, for example, has overcounted its population by some 100 million people.

The more important fact is that fertility rates are falling worldwide, including in the United States, which long had the highest birth rates in the developed world.

Many countries are currently literally dying — filling more coffins than cradles — and many more will soon follow. Even populous China has one foot in the grave, demographically speaking, as its aging population begins dying off.  The population of the entire world will start shrinking shortly after mid-century.

“… A billion people have no access to fresh clean water,”

Another gross exaggeration.   According to the World Health Organization, since 1990 some 2.6 billion people have gained access to an “improved” drinking water source, that is to say, one that is designed to protect against contamination.  By 2015 the number of people who still drank water from unprotected sources had been reduced to 663 million, and that number has been reduced in the years since as global poverty is reduced.

At the same time, we are becoming far more efficient where the use of water is concerned, especially in agriculture. This in turn leaves more water available for basic human needs.

Notice what my Stanford colleague isn’t saying.  He’s not talking about famine, because hardly anyone starves to death any more.  He’s not talking about child mortality, because fewer and fewer children die in infancy.  And he’s not talking about disease, because such scourges as malaria, polio, and heart disease are all on the decline.

“… Energy resources are finite,”

Fossil fuels are theoretically finite, although we keep discovering new reserves, and more ways to extract existing ones, with each passing year.

Other sources of energy, however, are clearly not finite.  Environmentalists constantly hector us on the need to use wind and solar.  Leaving aside the difficulties of capturing such diffuse forms of energy, do they think that the wind will stop blowing, or the sun will stop shining?  And what about the virtually infinite amount of energy that can be generated by clean nuclear energy from fission or, one day soon, fusion?

My colleague can’t have it both ways.  Either energy resources are finite or they are not.  And they are not.

“… Minerals will definitely run out.”

This claim has definitely passed its “sell by” date.  It owes its origins to a book called The Limits to Growth published almost 50 years ago which asserted that the world would run out of silver, zinc, copper, mercury and–well, just about everything–by the year 2000.  Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich and others argued from this that radical population control programs were the only answer.

My friend Julian Simon disagreed, arguing that if any metal grew scarce human ingenuity would enable us to find substitutes.  After all, he noted, the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone.  He bet Ehrlich that any five metals that he (Ehrlich) picked would cost less—not more–in 1990 than they did in 1980.  Prices fell over the decade, as Simon had expected, and he won the bet hands down.  Ehrlich paid up, but not without taking a parting shot at Simon, saying “The one thing we’ll never run out of is imbeciles.”

I’ll let you judge for yourselves who the imbecile is in this equation, given that, thirty years further down the road, none of the metals Ehrlich picked has run out or even significantly risen in price.

Another happy but unheralded fact comes from MIT scientist Andrew McAfee, whose book More from Less documents how we are using less water, less land, and less metal to produce more food and more goods.  In other words, the future promises to be greener and more abundant without denying people the right to drive their own cars, own and heat their own homes–or have as many children as they want.

In fact, the anti-people crank who wrote me got things exactly backwards.  Our long-term problem is not going to be too many people, but too few people.

That’s the real “Progeny Calamity” and it is occurring right before our very eyes. Steven W.

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order

Abortion Was the Leading Cause of Death Worldwide in 2019, Killing 42 Million People

STEVEN ERTELT, MICAIAH BILGER   DEC 31, 2019

More human beings died in abortions than any other cause of death in 2019, a new report indicates.

A heartbreaking reminder about the prevalence of abortion, statistics compiled by Worldometers indicate that there were over 42.3 million abortions world-wide in 2019. The independent site collects data from governments and other reputable organizations and then reports the data, along with estimates and projections, based on those numbers.

When contrasting the abortion numbers to other causes of death, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, traffic accidents and suicide, abortions far outnumbered every other cause.

By contrast, 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2019, 5 million from smoking, 13 million from disease, and 1.7 million died of HIV/AIDS. Deaths by malaria and alcohol are also recorded.

Worldometers estimates about 58.6 million deaths world-wide in 2019, but that number does not include unborn babies’ abortion deaths. Unborn babies are not recognized as human beings even though biology indicates that they are unique, living human beings from the moment of conception and they die brutal, violent deaths in abortions.

The abortion number is incomprehensible, but each of those 42 million abortions represents a living human being whose life was violently destroyed in their mother’s womb. Each unborn baby already had their own unique DNA, making them distinct from their mother. That DNA indicated if the child was a boy or girl, their eye and hair color, their height, possible genetic disorders and other disabilities, and much more. In most cases, the unborn babies’ hearts are beating when they are aborted, too.

In America, just under 1 million babies are aborted every year. Though abortion rates have been dropping in the past decade, abortion remains the leading cause of death in the United States as well.

An estimated 61 million unborn babies have been killed in abortions in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade in 1973. In January, pro-life advocates will gather for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. to remember the anniversary of that infamous decision and call for restored protections for the unborn.

The Antidote to A Year of Confusion

By 

“To evangelize means: to show this path – to teach the art of living … This is why we are in need of a new evangelization – if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science – this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life – he who is the Gospel personified.” 

— Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Address to Catechists and Religion
Teachers, Jubilee of Catechists 2000

“Bewilderment” is perhaps the word that best sums up my feelings as I survey the events of the past year. If there is anything that is a constant in this world, it is change. And yet, it seems to me that 2019 was a year characterized by unusually rapid, seismic, and often-confusing change: political, social, and spiritual.

If there is any one issue that I would say sums up this reality of rapid change and pervasive confusion it would be transgenderism and gender ideology. Even though I have paid close attention to the progress of the Culture of Death for many years, I would never have guessed, even as little as two or three years ago, that the most radical forms of gender ideology would sink their teeth into our culture so deeply and as quickly as they have done.

Indeed, one could well argue that 2019 was the year of gender ideology. Every single day, it seemed, we were being asked to accept ever more bizarre and improbable claims: that biological men can become pregnant, for instance, or get a period; or that the right for biological males to compete in women’s sports is a fundamental “human right”; or that we should celebrate when allegedly “transgender” toddlers are trotted out in front the world’s media to show how tolerant and progressive their parents are.

Equally dismaying was the sight of so many ordinary people bowing their heads and accepting every new outrageous demand, regardless of the very real cost on our freedoms, our culture, and the happiness, health, and even lives of our youth.

The confusion of 2019 was hardly confined to the world of social progressivism, however. The world of politics seemed to many to be increasingly characterized by division, chaos, and extremism. It often seemed, for instance, that each of the Democratic presidential candidates was consciously striving to outdo one another in the extremism of their pro-abortion and anti-family positions. And I hardly need mention how the year ended with a vote to impeach our president, and the exposure of deep political divisions even within the Christian community.

Christ, Our Rock

Meanwhile, for many Catholics, 2019 was the year they realized that the confusion and corruption in Holy Mother Church goes deeper, and higher, than they had previously realized. For faithful Catholics this is, without doubt, the most discouraging source of confusion of all. As the culture has descended into moral chaos, we have relied upon the stability of Holy Mother Church as the one and only reliable refuge against the madness of our age. We counted on the Barque of Peter to carry us calmly across the heaving ocean of the Culture of Death, and the moral madness of our age. Now, however, it sometimes feels as if that Barque is taking on a dangerous amount of water.

At the end of 2019, then, this year characterized by such disorienting change, it is a good time to remind ourselves of certain fundamental truths, truths that can provide a stay against the confusion. The first of these is that Christ is and must be our rock, and that – whatever the temporary appearances – it is only in Christ, and in the Church that He founded that we can find the stability, peace and the salvation for which our hearts so yearn.

Recall the despair of the Apostles in the boat, as they crossed the Sea of Galilee in the storm. Christ was right there, in their midst. They could see His peacefully sleeping form. Their Lord, their Christ, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, their Savior, lay but an arm’s length away from them. What more could they have wanted? And yet their courage failed when they saw the storm and the waves. Despairing, they woke Christ, daring even to rebuke Him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

The evangelist recounts: “And He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Then Christ turned toward his apostles sadly, asking, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’” (Mark 4:39-40)

“Why are you afraid?” Many of us right now might feel like the Apostles in that boat. Like the Apostles, the Church is carrying us amidst the waves and winds of a world gone mad. And yet, like the Apostles, we lose faith, we lose courage. The waves seem so large, the winds blow so fiercely, and the boat itself heaves and spins in the waves. And yet, all the while, Christ Himself is among us, His resting form quietly awaiting us within the tabernacle, ready to impart His peace and grace to our troubled souls, if only we would turn to Him and trust in His promises.

As I have said so often in this column, the answer to the Culture of Death and the confusions of our age does not lie in political or social activism, no matter how brilliant. Yes, we need brilliant and committed activists and political leaders. However, even more than this we need men and women of deep prayer, in whose hearts has been kindled the fire of Divine love. We need men and women who have drunk deeply of Christ’s loving presence, and who yearn to bring His love to all the world, beginning with their family, friends, and neighbors.

My New Year’s Wish

My dearest New Year’s wish is this: to see people, especially within the Christian fold, adopt this motto and to live by it: “Whatever happens to my brother or sister happens to me. Whatever affects my brother or sister affects me.” For, as Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

The greatest act of love that we can do for our neighbors is to bring to them the truth of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and His gift of salvation – to evangelize. If more people lived by this reality, our cultures would be radically different. Our problem is that most have been desensitized to the inalienable dignity of the human person. Therefore, we must first re-teach the inherent and immutable dignity of the human person, a dignity that was revealed to us in its fullness by Christ’s incarnation. If we do not understand our nature and dignity, we will make little to no progress.

The Culture of Death has been very successful in dehumanizing the human person and our concern for each other. By assaulting the family, it has unlinked us from each other and our obligations to each other. The Culture of Death has peddled its wares well in convincing people to reject long-held Judeo-Christian beliefs and moral doctrines. Moral relativism reigns. For most, their conscience is either numb or dead. And, “The supernatural,” says Cardinal Robert Sarah, “is swallowed up in the desert of the natural” (The Day is Now Far Spent).

We need to re-evangelize, starting within the Church. Ultimately, the solution to the current cultural and moral crisis is the pursuit of greater holiness. As our Enemy is sin itself, the easiest sins to do battle against are those festering in our own souls. As St. Francis of Assisi put it, “The soldier of Christ must begin with victory over himself.”

Christ in the House of His Parents – John Everett Millais

Victory over our sins is possible only once we have united our hearts with Christ, the “stone which the builder’s rejected” which “has become the cornerstone” of our whole lives. As Pope Benedict stated in 2010, “[A]t the root of all evangelization lies not a human plan of expansion, but rather the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has wished to give us, making us sharers in His own life” (Ubicumque et Semper, 2010). To build our lives on this rock is to protect ourselves against the winds of confusion and the storms of discouragement: “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25)

While many make New Year’s resolutions for superficial things, we should pledge, using all our abilities, to be more active in the pro-life and family movement. We need to stand in unity against the radical assault upon life, marriage, the family, and our children. We need to educate ourselves on the issues, get more involved in the political life of our country, support people in leadership who actively support our causes, and expose and confront those who are in opposition to our values. We need to be more sensitive to what is happening around us – i.e. anti-life and anti-traditional marriage legislation and policies, the indoctrination of perverse sex education programs and gender ideology, legalization and normalization of euthanasia, etc.

I say to you: Make perfect your will.

I say: take no thought of the harvest,

But only of proper sowing.

— T.S. Eliot – Choruses from the Rock

Even more importantly, since we are in a spiritual battle, we need to recommit to deeper spiritual lives. In this time of confusion and change, we need men and women who, as T.S. Eliot put it in the poem above, have made perfect their wills; who never give into the temptation of discouragement, but paying no need to the harvest – which is Christ’s business – put their hands to the plow in the sowing – which is our business. “For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’” (John 4:37)

We must lay all our trust in Christ, our rock. We must recommit ourselves to deep prayer, to frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist, to Eucharistic Adoration, to the family rosary, and to mortification of our passions. These are the weapons that the Church recommends to us, and that have served so many saints so well over the centuries.

As we begin this new year then, let us make concrete, achievable spiritual resolutions, which we can begin to put into practice immediately, and that will – if we adhere to them – carry us through the year ahead with the deep peace that only Christ can impart in our hearts.

 

Medical Textbook Confirms: “Human Development Begins at Fertilization”

PAUL STARK

A recent article by Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri ridicules pro-life advocates’ contention that unborn humans should not be treated like medical waste.

Referring to legislation that requires dignified treatment of the remains of human embryos and fetuses (whom Petri inaccurately calls “fertilized ova”), Petri writes: “Why such concern for these fertilizing spermatozoa, more than others? Those spermatozoa have passed into the beyond after making connections that elude millions of their brethren. Why honor them?”

She goes on to sarcastically suggest that if we have funerals for embryos and fetuses, then we should have funerals for sperm too:

State legislators, if you have such concern for the select few, remember the unfortunate millions! We must, of course, give honor above all to those who went to the halls of glory without glimpsing even a hint of an ovum. This is the least we owe those who lived in hope—and died—in states of single blessedness.

Satire can be powerful, but not when it’s founded on scientific illiteracy. Petri’s mistake is that she confuses human beings with human gametes. They are two very different things.

Pro-life people have no concern for “these fertilizing spermatozoa.” We do not wish to “honor them.” Pro-lifers have concern, rather, for the individuals who come to be upon fertilization. These individuals, as middle- and high-school biology students (hopefully) learn, are neither spermatozoa nor ova (both of which cease to exist when fertilization is successful). They are human organisms—members of the species Homo sapiens.

They are called zygotes at the one-cell stage, and then embryos (through eight weeks), fetuses (eight weeks until birth), infants, toddlers, adolescents, and adults as they develop themselves throughout life.

“Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote,” explain Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud in their embryology textbook The Developing Human. “This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

Human zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are human organisms. And since pro-life people think all human beings are important—they oppose discrimination on the basis of age, appearance, or ability—they care about the treatment of these unborn children.

Spermatozoa, by contrast, are not human organisms. They are gametes (reproductive cells with only 23 chromosomes), which are parts of the parent. They don’t develop as human beings—because that’s not what they are. Their purpose is to unite with an egg and thereby cease to be. That’s why we would never think to have funerals for them. A sperm isn’t one of us. It’s just a sperm.

Petri is far from alone in conflating living individuals with mere parts of living individuals (either gametes or somatic cells). But sound ethics requires sound science. Before we can know how to treat unborn children, we must know what they really are.

What are human embryos and fetuses? They are human beings. Science tells us so.

LifeNews.com Note: Paul Stark is a member of the staff of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a statewide pro-life group.

Could the Pill Literally Be Shrinking Your Brain?

https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/14_pr_target.cfm?id=2136

 

CHICAGO — Researchers studying the brain found that women taking oral contraceptives, commonly known as birth control pills, had significantly smaller hypothalamus volume, compared to women not taking the pill, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., FACR

Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., FACR

Located at the base of the brain above the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus produces hormones and helps regulate essential bodily functions including body temperature, mood, appetite, sex drive, sleep cycles and heart rate.

Structural effects of sex hormones, including oral contraceptive pills, on the human hypothalamus have never been reported, according to the researchers. This may be in part because validated methods to quantitatively analyze MRI exams of the hypothalamus have not been available.

“There is a lack of research on the effects of oral contraceptives on this small but essential part of the living human brain,” said Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., FACR, professor of radiology at the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and medical director of MRI Services at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “We validated methods for assessing the volume of the hypothalamus and confirm, for the first time, that current oral contraceptive pill usage is associated with smaller hypothalamic volume.”

Oral contraceptives are among the most popular forms of birth control and are also used to treat a host of conditions, including irregular menstruation, cramps, acne, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. According to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, from 2015 to 2017 approximately 47 million women aged 15–49 in the U.S. reported current use of contraceptives. Of those, 12.6% used the pill.

In his study, Dr. Lipton and colleagues recruited a group of 50 healthy women, including 21 women who were taking oral contraceptives. All 50 women underwent brain MRI, and a validated approach was used to measure hypothalamic volume.

“We found a dramatic difference in the size of the brain structures between women who were taking oral contraceptives and those who were not,” Dr. Lipton said. “This initial study shows a strong association and should motivate further investigation into the effects of oral contraceptives on brain structure and their potential impact on brain function.”

Other findings from the study, which Dr. Lipton described as “preliminary,” were that smaller hypothalamic volume was also associated with greater anger and showed a strong correlation with depressive symptoms. However, the study found no significant correlation between hypothalamic volume and cognitive performance.

Co-authors are Ke Xun Chen, M.D., Sandie Worley, B.S., Henry J. Foster, B.S., David Edasery, M.D., Shima Roknsharifi, M.D., and Chloe Ifrah, B.A. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and by The Dana Foundation.

Note: Copies of RSNA 2019 news releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press19 beginning Monday, Nov. 25.

RSNA is an association of over 53,400 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists, promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

Editor’s note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the published abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA Newsroom at 1-312-791-6610.

For patient-friendly information on brain MRI, visit RadiologyInfo.org.

Out of the blue, a Christmas miracle: A son

By Doug Mainwaring

December 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Twenty-six Christmases ago – our ninth together as man and wife – my wife, Valerie, and I experienced an unexpected miracle.

After discovering we were infertile early in our marriage, we had employed the help of doctors to the extent our consciences would allow, and when that proved unfruitful we quickly and happily went to work with an adoption agency. A few years and thousands of dollars later, amid soul-crushing disappointment, we reluctantly gave up our hope of ever having children.

We resigned ourselves to childlessness and tried to find comfort in the possibility of a lifetime of increased disposable income, of travel and other little luxuries. Over the next few years we put the thought of raising a family out of our minds. Or at least, we tried to.

Then something extraordinary happened.

Four days before Christmas, shortly after I had arrived home from work, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was a neighbor who explained that her sister was a foster parent for newborns, and that she was caring for a two-day-old baby boy who might be a difficult placement because he was biracial.

“I understand this might be a door you don’t want to re-open,” she said, “but I thought I should let you know. Are you interested?”

A bit dazed by the call, I thanked her and hung up the phone. My mind raced. Did I really want to risk tearing the scab off this deep wound, knowing that this could be another heartbreaking dead end?

I said a quick prayer, and when my wife walked in the door I suggested we go out for dinner at our favorite restaurant.

Halfway through our second glasses of wine – amid the Christmas decorations and carols softly playing in the background – I told her about the phone call and popped the question.

Over the next few days it was wonderful to witness the pure joy, peace, and hope return to my wife’s soul after having steeled herself against the pain of childlessness. Our celebration of the birth of the Christ Child that year took on new meaning as we at last could enter into the joy and anticipation of Mary and Joseph in a way we that we hadn’t been privy to previously.

Although it took a while to undergo another home study, Michael came to us just before Easter and, in a sense, resurrected our lives. For us, Michael was and always will be a miracle.

Then nearly two years later, another equally extraordinary event occurred.

A few days after submitting the paperwork to the same agency seeking to adopt a second child, the phone again rang. It was the head of the agency. I naturally assumed she was simply calling to acknowledge receipt of our application. I was wrong.

“Mr. Mainwaring, you’re not going to believe this but Michael’s birth mom just contacted us. She is eight months pregnant by the same man and they both want you and Valerie to have the child.”

Goosebumps popped up all over my arms and legs. At that moment I knew I was witnessing – and in the middle of – another miracle, a perfect answer to prayer that went beyond our wildest dreams, something that would never even have occurred to us to ask for.

Just a few weeks later, we brought home Christopher. He, too, is and always will be a miracle.

I’ll never forget that Christmas week a quarter of a century ago, when out of the blue God showed His love toward us after we had given up hope.

When we were completely unable to give each other a child, and every path had been blocked, God displayed his munificence toward us. Not once, but twice.

 

Christmas’ Gift and the Dignity of the Human Person

Among G.K. Chesterton’s many brilliant aphorisms is the following: “There is a law written in the darkest of the Books of Life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.”

Chesterton was a great lover of Christmas and wrote numerous poems and essays celebrating this most mystical and poetical of Christian feasts. I have no doubt that he would have agreed with me when I say that Christmas tops the list of those things that many of us have seen countless times, and yet have never truly seen.

Let us consider the barest, historical facts of the matter: God, Whose name is “I AM,” Who created all things, Whom heaven and earth cannot contain, lowered Himself by assuming a human body and sharing in the nature of one of His creatures. He was born as a helpless baby to an unknown and uncelebrated peasant woman, amidst the humblest beasts of burden in a stable in a backwater town belonging to a little-known people, who at the time lay crushed under the thumb of foreign conquerors.

And for what? To live 30 years in near-complete anonymity, engaged in the humblest manual labor, after which He spent a mere three years as a poor, itinerant preacher, a career that was brought to an ignoble and abrupt end through the betrayal of one His closest associates, who handed Him over to a brutal death by one of the most painful and humiliating forms of execution ever devised by man.

These are the barebone historical facts. And if we profess the Christian faith, but are not eternally astonished that such things could ever have happened, it is most likely because we have seen these facts 999 times, and yet have not seen them.

But now, let us go beyond the barebone historical facts. Let us turn our attention towards the meaning of these historical facts. We can do no better than to quote John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God loved the world. He loved the human race! He loved us so much, that He saw fit to become one of us, and, by subjecting Himself to scorn, humiliation, and suffering, to offer us the opportunity to partake of His own life in a state of perfect, loving communion with Him for all eternity. He came, that is, to offer us the gift of salvation.

In his Christmas message in 1959, Pope St. John XXIII marveled at what this fact of Divine condescension says about the dignity of the human race, and every individual human being. “He ‘loved me and gave himself up for me.’ Thus spoke St. Paul to the Galatians (Gal. 2:20). And if God has loved man to such a degree, that indicates that man is of interest to Him and that the human person has an absolute right to be respected.

Artist: Gerard van Honthorst – The Childhood of Christ

God’s coming to earth in human flesh was and is the greatest affirmation that, whatever the mysteries, messiness, sufferings, and sins that mar human existence in our fallen state, every single human life is endowed with infinite value and dignity, a dignity beyond telling. There is not one among us who is not infinitely precious in God’s sight.

The Rise of Anti-Human Pessimism

It may seem a very curious thing to reference a rather bleak scene from the movie The Matrix in a column about Christmas. But bear with me, and I think you will understand. The scene comes towards the end of the movie, when the villain – Agent Smith – is interrogating the character Morpheus. Morpheus is a leading figure in the last, desperate resistance against the reign of super-intelligent machines, who are ruthlessly exploiting humans to fuel their dystopian society.

Agent Smith, who is himself a super-intelligent computer program, muses on what he has learned about the human race. Contrary to every other mammal on the planet, he says, human beings seem incapable of developing an “equilibrium” with the environment. “You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area,” he says. “There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

Humans are a “plague,” a “virus,” a “disease” and a “cancer”. Where have we heard these sentiments of late? The brilliance of this scene is that it speaks directly to a deep-seated self-loathing that has plagued the human race for as long as humans have pondered the meaning of their existence. It is also a form of radical self-doubt and pessimism that is making a resurgence right now in the form of militant atheism, hedonism, nihilism, and anti-humanism.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the philosophy of a South African philosopher named David Benetar. Benetar preaches “anti-natalism.” He argues that not only is human life intrinsically meaningless, but that it is essentially harmful, since to live is to suffer, and to suffer is to undergo pain for no reason. For this reason, Benetar thinks it is a moral evil to bring other human beings into the world.

In one way it is remarkable that Benetar’s philosophy should have gained such an audience and such a foothold in a time of unprecedented wealth and comfort, where the sufferings that have long beset human existence have been so dramatically reduced by near-miraculous scientific advancements and growth in wealth. On the other hand, it is not remarkable at all: for we live in an age that has turned our backs on the Gospel message, with the inevitable consequence that we have lost sight of the dignity of the human person.

Child rescued from “baby dumping” in Kenya

And, as Chesterton predicted, the moment we lost sight of the dignity of human existence, we lost sight of the need to respect human rights. How else can we explain the bloody revolutions and genocides in the atheistic regimes of the 20th century, and the growing comfort with eugenics, abortion, and euthanasia in the increasingly secular and apathetic West? As Pope St. John XXIII said in the same Christmas message quoted above: “The disturbances which unsettle the internal peace of nations trace their origins chiefly to this source: that man has been treated almost exclusively as a machine, a piece of merchandise, a worthless cog in some great machine or a mere productive unit.”

The Need for Christmas

Compare the anti-natalist philosophy of Benetar, to the gorgeous ruminations of St. Peter Chrysologus, who spoke so eloquently about Christ’s incarnation and human dignity, and whose writings make an appearance in the Roman breviary around this time of year. I strongly encourage you to read this beautiful quotation in full:

…Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

The earth was adorned with flowers, groves, and fruit; and the constant marvelous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.

And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever, for all the ages of eternity.

Christ, by taking on human flesh and a human nature, has permanently elevated human existence. As St. Pope John Paul II did not tire of repeating: “Christ reveals man to himself.” Christ was God, but also man. And as the perfect, sinless man, He has revealed the heights of dignity for which every human being was intended, and to which he is called. As the Second Vatican Council puts it:

Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in [Christ], has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin…

This is marvelous truth contained in the familiar story of Christmas. It may well be we have seen it nine-hundred and ninety-nine times. But let us pray for the grace, this Christmas, to see it for the thousandth time. To really see it. And then let us put our hands to the plow and respond to Christ’s call to preach this Good News to the four corners of the globe.

 

Pro-life mom creates children’s book to teach kids to be pro-life

December 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – At pro-life presentations across North America, audience members often ask me how to bring the subject of abortion up with children. After all, when parents are participating in pro-life activism or attending pro-life events, it is perfectly natural for a child to wonder what, exactly, it means to be “pro-life” in the first place. And considering that pro-life is anti-abortion and abortion is an act of violence perpetrated against a child, parents can understandably be unsure of how to approach the subject.

Enter Bethany Bomberger, a mom of four with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Family Studies and a Master’s Degree in Education from Regent University who has taught in both public and private schools. Bomberger is also a pro-life activist, working alongside her husband Ryan (who shared his story on my podcast earlier this year) at The Radiance Foundation, a “life-affirming organization that is rooted in the belief that we are all created in God’s image and have undeniable purpose.”

Drawing from these three wells of experience: Mom, educator, and pro-life activist, Bomberger has written an extraordinary book titled Pro-Life Kids! Paired with engaging and adorable illustrations by Ed Koehler, Bomberger’s book walks gently through the pro-life worldview, introducing a difficult subject in an age-appropriate way reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss book: “Pro-life means for life, We’re cheering for you. Your life is important. There’s only one you.”

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Page of ‘Pro-Life Kids!’

From the facts of life before birth to the reality that many deny these facts (“Sadly, there are those who don’t understand…that life has purpose, whether planned or unplanned”), Bomberger manages to cover virtually everything, from the denial of personhood to what abortion actually is. Her description is simple, sad, and age-appropriate: “Abortion is when, some say it’s okay, to take that baby’s, precious life away.” Pro-life people, on the other hand, fight for all life, no matter what age or size.

To emphasize that the pro-life movement follows in the footsteps of other great social reform movements, Bomberger explains that people have always stood up for those who were denied their rights, comparing the civil rights marchers (there is a very clever illustration of the march across Edmund Pettus Bridge) to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

The book ends with a call to action, emphasizing that even if you are young, you can be empowered to do something:

We are Pro-Life Kids
so dreams come alive.
We are Pro-Life Kids
so our future survives.

Bomberger ends with a personal note and a list of “Ten Ways You Can Show You’re a Pro-Life Kid,” including options like praying that abortion will end, attending a pro-life event, and going to the March for Life. Following this are stories of “real pro-life kids” to inspire and empower kids who may think they are too young to do something for the pro-life cause.

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Page of ‘Pro-Life Kids!’

The book has been so popular that its first run is already sold out.

“The response to our book has been overwhelming!!! We actually sold out of our first run of books! Thousands more arrive on Monday, Dec 16th!,” Bomberger wrote on the book’s website.

I was thrilled to see this book published because it fills a much-needed void. In today’s culture, parents are searching for age-appropriate ways of educating their children on difficult social issues, and Bomberger has written the book that many of us have wanted for a long time. I’ve already read it to my little daughter, and she loved the story (Ed Koehler’s illustrations certainly helped with that.)

Pro-lifers must also keep in mind that according to data sets from across North America, many young people lose their pro-life convictions once they enter university. In some places, the numbers are staggeringly high. One of the reasons for this is that we are not doing an effective enough job of teaching our children our beliefs and passing on our convictions. One reason for this is that parents do not know how to broach these difficult issues, and thus often hope that their views will be passed on by osmosis. This is wishful thinking, and more often than not, their children embrace a different worldview.

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Page of ‘Pro-Life Kids!’

Bethany Bomberger’s book removes parental excuses, and I heartily recommend Pro-Life Kids! to each and every one of you. It makes the perfect Christmas present.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Gianna Jessen, a well known abortion survivor and pro-life advocate. Ms. Jessen has been mentioned in speeches by President George W Bush. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster have said that her story could impact the abortion debate. Jessen survived a saline abortion and now uses her story to show people what an abortion. “I am alive. Just by the miraculous power of Christ.”

Antinatalism and the Culture of Death

By 

In chapter one of the first book of the Bible, we find a remarkable, even revolutionary statement – indeed, a series of such statements.

At the end of each day, after God has put the finishing touches on one more part of His creation, He pauses to survey His handiwork. And, the Bible says each time, “He saw that it was good.” The water and dry land are “good.” The stars and the sun and the moon are “good.” The birds of the air, and all the animals and fish are “good.”

On the sixth day, God creates human beings. “In the image of God, He created them,” says Genesis. And after God has blessed them, He commands them to “be fruitful and multiply.” And then, with this crown jewel of His creation completed, He steps back and takes in the whole of His cosmos. The first chapter of Genesis concludes: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

You may be wondering, “What is so remarkable or revolutionary about this? Surely, there is nothing so very groundbreaking in the idea that God is good, and that everything He has made is good. This is Theology 101!”

In reality, however, the idea that everything we see around us – above our fellow human beings – is in some deep, metaphysical, unshakeable sense “good,” is simply not self-evident. Quite the contrary. There have existed and do exist many human beings, and many philosophical and religious systems, that insist that material things are evil through and through, that human beings are a blight upon the earth, and that life itself, far from being “good,” is a curse, and that the one truly “good” thing would be the extinction of our consciousness, or the melting of that consciousness into a state of oblivion.

St. Augustine, for instance, before his conversion to Catholicism, famously believed in Manicheism. Manicheism is but one of countless “dualistic” philosophical systems, a form of Gnosticism, that proclaimed that matter was created by an evil deity whose power rivaled that of God. God Himself, the creator of a “spiritual” world, had no part whatsoever in material creation. The whole point of life was to escape matter and the body.

The Return of Pagan Despair

Certain pagan creeds advocated a worldview far more bleak even than Manicheism. The idea that life itself is evil is captured most famously and pungently in a line in the play Oedipus at Colonus by the Greek tragedian Sophocles. In that line, the chorus declares: “Never to have been born is best. Everyone knows that, and a close second, once you have appeared in this life, is a quick return, as soon as you can, to where you came from.”

This is dark stuff.

But, is also a sentiment that is making a comeback. Indeed, South African philosopher David Benetar turned to Sophocles when searching for the title of his book outlining the case for his philosophy, called “antinatalism.” The subtitle of the book is, “The Harm of Coming into Existence.”

Antinatalism is not a subtle theory. It is precisely what it proclaims itself to be: a philosophical theory that argues that human existence is essentially and irredeemably an evil thing. Benetar does not hesitate to draw out the logical consequences of this theory. If life is evil, then it is immoral to give life to another human being – that is, to have children.

The Guardian pithily summarizes Benetar’s ideas in a recent article about the growth of antinatalism, writing:

The basic tenet of antinatalism is simple but, for most of us, profoundly counterintuitive: that life, even under the best of circumstances, is not a gift or a miracle, but rather a harm and an imposition. According to this logic, the question of whether to have a child is not just a personal choice but an ethical one – and the correct answer is always no.

Though we might be inclined to dismiss Benetar as a fringe lunatic, the first thing to note is that he is currently the head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town. More importantly, his ideas are gaining traction.

A sub-forum on the social media site Reddit dedicated to antinatalism currently has some 45,000 followers. Earlier this year, antinatalism got a big publicity boost after Raphael Samuel, an Indian man, sued his parents for giving him life. Though the lawsuit was in some respects merely symbolic – he was asking for a tiny sum of money – Samuel was deadly serious. “It was not our decision to be born,” he told the BBC. “Human existence is totally pointless.”

Forms of antinatalism have also embedded themselves deeply in contemporary environmentalism. More and more we are hearing A-list celebrities declare that there is a moral duty not to bring any more human beings into the world. Their views may not be as bleak as Benetar’s. They may not, for instance, believe that human life is intrinsically evil, as such, but only evil insofar as it harms the planet. But clearly, the ideas are closely related. And many philosophical antinatalists are also (unsurprisingly) environmental extremists.

Christian Hope and the Meaning of Life

It’s quite natural for many of us to recoil in horror from Benetar’s theories. And yet, the first thing I want to point out is that there is a perverse logic to his worldview. Benetar is quite right to point to the fact that human life, even in the best of cases, is suffused with suffering. Further, in the end, all of us will have to face the dark and terrifying mystery of death. In the face of these hard facts, there is cause for our courage to fail.

Even in the Judeo-Christian worldview, we find this bleak strain of thought. Psalm 84 refers to this world as a “vale of tears,” and that phrase has been picked up by countless saints and spiritual writers. At the end of every rosary we pray the Salve Regina, which describes Christians as crying out to the Blessed Mother, “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.” Christianity and Benetar see eye to eye in acknowledging this: life can be difficult and full of suffering.

But where the antinatalists and Benetar radically depart from Christians is on the place and the meaning they give to suffering.

For Benetar and the antinatalists, suffering is the final word. Life is suffering and death. Full stop. For Christians, suffering and death are but one part of life, and by far the least important part. For Christians, human beings are not destined for death. Quite the contrary: God intended for every human being to spend all of eternity with Himenjoying the greatest happiness conceivable. Perfect happiness. Happiness without even the hint of suffering. And though suffering and death entered the world through sin, human beings still have the option to attain to the high dignity for which God intended them. Death, therefore, far from being the final word, is merely a footnote. It is but one step on the path to the fullness of life.

The noble purpose of human existence is summarized by Pope St. John Paul II at the very beginning of his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. There he writes:

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process which, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-2).

It is this supernatural calling, says the saintly pope, “which highlights the relative character of each individual’s earthly life. After all, life on earth is not an ‘ultimate’ but a ‘penultimate’ reality.”

“The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering…” ~JP II

Remove a human being’s supernatural destiny from the picture, and “antinatalism” may well be the most logical conclusion. But place all of the suffering and pain of our earthly existence against the background of our eternal supernatural destiny, and suffering and death fade from view. Indeed, not only are suffering and death no longer the final word, but they become integrated into our great destiny. Seen with the supernatural eyes of Christian revelation, suffering and death take on a whole new meaning, and can be seen as one of the means by which we attain eternal life. Suffering embraced can be the means by which we are purged of our selfishness and sinfulness and rendered fit for eternal life with God.

Antinatalism feeds upon the despair that comes when human life is flattened. If this life is all there is, then the prevalence of suffering leads inevitably to despair. And this despair is what the Culture of Death is built upon. Viewed at with the eyes of faith, however, it is the deep joys present even in this life that are seen to be the only truly real things. Viewed this way, life is indeed seen as the great and wonderful gift that it is, and the bringing of new life into this world as an astonishing miracle.

Over two decades ago, journalist Andrew Coyne, responding to the case of Robert Latimer, who murdered his daughter Traci because she had cerebral palsy, wrote the following prophetic words: “A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.”

Prophetic, I say, because since Coyne wrote these words, the perverse mentality that he described has only grown in prevalence. More and more jurisdictions have legalized so-called “mercy killing.” Increasingly, even those suffering from mental illnesses are being deemed candidates for euthanasia and assisted suicide. No longer are we to find the meaning in suffering, or to peer through the façade of suffering to discover the inherent dignity of human life.

The Culture of Death feeds upon the despair that gives rise to the philosophy of antinatalism. Without God, antinatalism is the logical outcome. This is why I continuously hammer home the reality that it is not sufficient to fight the Culture of Death through political or social activism. The Culture of Death has a spiritual origin. And if we are to fight back and win, then we must fight with spiritual weapons.

We must return to the first chapter of Genesis. God created all things and all things are good. The antinatalists are fatally wrong. Life, indeed, is a great gift and a miracle. This is the good news of the Gospel of Life. In our efforts to fight abortion, euthanasia, and all the self-destructive tendencies of our Culture of Death, we must continuously strive to preach this Good News.

 

 

Studies Show Abortion Pill is Dangerous for Women: 24 Women Have Died, Thousands Injured

MICAIAH BILGER

Abortion activists are pushing to de-regulate abortion drugs at the expense of women’s safety and unborn babies’ lives.

Research published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons this winter indicates that drug-induced abortions have a complication rate four times higher than surgical abortions.

“Physicians who seek to advocate for their female patients’ best interests should become aware that medical abortion results in complications far more often than its proponents acknowledge,” wrote Dr. Ingrid Skop, M.D., a San Antonio obstetrician.

Skop said abortion providers are encouraging women to choose drug-induced abortions, which involve a combination of the drugs mifepristone (Mifeprex or RU486) and misoprostol (Cytotec). They are used to abort unborn babies up to 10 weeks of pregnancy in America.

Currently, about 39 percent of abortions in the U.S. are drug-induced, according to Skop’s research.

Though safety regulations require that a doctor prescribe the drugs, the abortion industry sometimes skirts the requirement by using webcams to remotely dispense them. The method is cheaper for the abortion industry, but women never actually see a doctor in person before taking the drugs.

According to the research, risks include ruptured ectopic pregnancies, hemorrhage, infection and retained pregnancy tissue, which require surgery in as many as one in 20 women. The FDA reports at least 24 women have died along with their unborn babies from the drugs, and thousands more have been injured. In total, the number of adverse events from 2000 to 2018 is now 24 deaths, 97 ectopic pregnancies, 1,042 hospitalizations, 599 blood transfusions, and 412 infections (including 69 severe infections), with a total of 4,195 adverse events reported, according to the FDA.

Abortion activists claim the drugs are very safe, but Skop said the little research on their safety is “heavily biased.” She said only 28 states require abortion facilities to report complications.

“Vocal abortion advocates are aggressively using the court systems and pro-choice media sources to advocate for removal of safety restrictions on abortions,” Skop wrote. “They have also begun to advocate for illegal use of mifepristone and misoprostol when restrictions are in place, despite the demonstrated increase in adverse events that occur when these medications are used without close medical supervision.”

This includes lobbying for mail-order abortion drugs, telemedicine and abortions performed by non-physicians. California recently mandated that the abortion drugs be provided on all public college campuses, and the New York legislature is considering a similar proposal.

Meanwhile, Democrat presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg recently said they would allow the abortion drugs to be sold over the counter.

The ACLU also is suing the FDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a case that could force every pharmacy in America to dispense abortion drugs.

De-regulating abortion drugs also would make women and their unborn babies more vulnerable to abuse. Already, LifeNews has reported on several cases of forced abortions or abortion attempts by men who did not want their partners to have the baby.

Last week, police arrested a California man for allegedly forcing his girlfriend at gunpoint to take abortion drugs to kill their unborn child.

In 2018, a Virginia doctor was convicted of spiking his pregnant girlfriend’s drink with an abortion drug, killing their unborn baby.

In the fall, the pro-abortion news site Mother Jones reported on a similar incident. According to the report, federal authorities caught a New York City woman selling abortion drugs online after a Wisconsin man allegedly bought drugs from her and then secretly slipped them into a pregnant woman’s drink. Both the man and the seller are facing charges.

Skop concluded her report by urging doctors to be aware of the biased information coming out of the abortion industry and to consider their patients’ safety.

The deadly dance of perfectionism: how the rhetoric of family planning hurts children

Susan Martin

As a child, I never knew exactly what my dad did, but I knew that his office was the first place where I had ever seen anatomical pink and magenta models of the uterus and the embryo. I remember sitting with my mother in our family station wagon and looking up into the exotic jungle of scarlet bougainvillea that pressed against the glass of his beautiful corner office, displaying its deeply ridged flowers, just like the pink plastic model.

My father and I used to race each other up the stairs of the Population Center, and I remember the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest as I reached the last step before he did. I would triumphantly turn around and wait for his brown shoes and white cotton socks to appear on the top step before jumping out so that he could pretend to be surprised.

Beating my father up the stairs confirmed my feeling that someone wanted me. I was strong and fast, and thus worthy of my father’s love. (Later, this would develop into a mania for long-distance running and endurance training.)

“Wantedness” was originally a term coined to describe a mother’s attitude toward the birth of a child. Sociologists decided that the degree to which a birth was wanted could be measured by accounting for less than perfect timing, less than perfect finances, or simply emotional hesitancy on the part of the mother.

Yet its wider applications had more to do with phenomenology than with science. It could describe a person’s value in the social economy and the environmental factors limiting that value.

As I grew older, moved out, went to college, and began a career, my father would return periodically to the question of wantedness. He would ask me if I was content with my life’s circumstances, my partner or boyfriend, and so forth. It was his way of measuring my happiness.

He taught me that there was nothing more important than arranging your life in such a way as to create a balance between your “wantedness” and the events of your life. It was essential to make careful choices in order to achieve the outcomes you wanted. Yet, to me, it seemed even more important to make the right choices to ensure that I would continue to be wanted by others. At any of life’s crossroads, I might slip into a state of “unwantedness” simply by making the wrong decision.

Where family planning stated that educated reproductive choices resulted in better families, the unspoken assumption was that educated sexual choices would help separate sex from reproduction. As a child, I concluded that the “right” behaviors were those that resulted in being continually wanted by my parents, and then by friends and peers. Surprisingly enough, the result of being exposed to wantedness was not conformism, but a rigid perfectionism based on achievement.

My conclusions were shared by a whole generation of women and men who could only prove self-worth through professional achievement. As adults, we switched academic institutions and professional specializations frequently, and did not let ourselves be taken in by marriage or even by long-term professional commitments. Being depressed or heartbroken was just the price of having a career.

The unspoken promise that was embedded in perfectionism was that the political system would eventually reward high-achieving people by having our sexuality set free from the conditions of biology through advances in contraceptive technology—a promise especially aimed at women academics: do everything right, and the political system will make sure that sex stayed far away from sexual reproduction.

The Gospel of public health

I grew up within the emerging culture of population studies and maternal and child health. My father, J. Richard Udry, and his colleagues sought to bring the new science of fertility measurement to third-world countries, thereby preventing an imagined population explosion of unwanted births. Behind the new science of population studies, however, lay the old science of eugenics.

North Carolina, like many other southern states, still had sterilization programs in place until the mid-nineteen-seventies. Politically and culturally liberal social scientists reframed eugenics in updated language, emphasizing the need to give women control over their fertility and then rewarding them if they made decisions to have fewer children.

In the fairy tale world of public health, no mother would ever again have a baby and then suffer with feelings of guilt or regret, and no child or teenager would ever again feel pressured into gender roles that didn’t suit his or her deepest inclinations. Potential fathers would voluntarily register for sterilization rather than produce children in less than ideal environments or prevent their wives from pursuing educational and financial opportunities. All this would come about by discipling communities in the new science of family planning.

The gospel of public health said that women’s desire to have children and nurture the young could be modified through education. Educating the mother of the household about contraceptives would result automatically in smaller families, because that’s what “everyone wanted.” Public health continuously projected the image of reproductive progress: a perfectible male and a perfectible female to go along with a perfectible human family, shorn of excesses to fit into a modern world.

One of the target geographical areas for the new science of fertility control was southeast Asia, and Thailand in particular. As the Population Center’s funding grew, it began to attract large numbers of students from Thailand and India. On Friday nights, graduate students from Thailand would gather at our house to play table tennis and talk shop in the basement. Part of the idea of these get-togethers was to introduce the graduate students to American academic culture and to model the benefits of family planning and fertility control.

The family was presented not just as a procreative and biological unit, but as an aesthetic and social one. The symmetrical ideal was a family of four, and this “family planning pyramid” began to appear everywhere on posters and flyers related to family health. As one part of a two-child family, my sister and I were supposed to model this ideal—the lower the number of children, the more likely it is that the individual child will be intelligent, gifted, and nurtured. I felt this pressure keenly. To be loved and wanted, and to do my part to spread the gospel, I knew that I had to play my part perfectly.

A dangerous dance

In his work, my dad made numerous trips to Bangkok. Once, he brought me a little dancing golden prince from Thailand, with crescent shoes and a hat shaped like a little, upside-down golden cup. He danced with one arm up and one arm down, standing on the end of one of his long, pointed shoes.

In spite of his placid expression, the prince’s dance looked very difficult. If he moved too quickly to one side or the other, the pagoda hat might slide off. If he did not stand correctly, his shoes would surely bend, and he would stumble to the ground. To me, negotiating friendships felt like the dance of the Thai prince: my ankles ached and my arms throbbed, but I didn’t dare stop proving that I was worthy of being wanted.

One day, in the fourth grade, we learned a polka in which we had to change partners. I was so upset at the thought of my best friend dancing with someone else that I walked up to the new girl and kicked her sharply in the shins. Any time I was rejected in a friendship, I interpreted it as a final judgment on my worth as a human being. Any time I attempted a new undertaking, it had to be perfect. I already knew that I had to continually win my parents’ approval and attention to continue to be “wanted.” It was only natural that the same should apply to my other relationships.

When I was ten years old, my father’s sister died after an overdose of sleeping pills. My parents told me it was because “she could not control her own fertility.” I did not know if they meant that she had suffered through an unplanned pregnancy and abortion, or if my four cousins were just too much for her. In any case, I concluded that motherhood had gotten in the way of what my aunt really wanted: fewer children.

Clearly, “being in control” was very important. I must learn to do it very well, for if I failed, I might pay with my life. The prospect that losing control over fertility could so quickly lead to lethal “unwantedness” made the idea of having a family very dangerous. Since I was female and soon to enter puberty, it seemed to make me dangerous, too.

The gospel of family planning was not only preached in Southeast Asia. It was also taught to us at school. “Health class” now meant “sex” class, and sexual experimentation seemed to be the only acceptable way to become a healthy person. I was taught to apply the new philosophy of sexual freedom to constructing myself.

Any conclusions based on biological clues as to my sex were to be ignored on the grounds that they were too conservative and would constrain me to follow traditional gender roles. All conclusions based on my individual gifts, inclinations, and predispositions were to be evaluated according to the social standard of progress, and I was rewarded for making decisions that went counter to my own biological sex.

Well into college and graduate school, my perfectionistic quest to be wanted corroded my soul, mind, and body. There were now so many conditions being placed on what could make me desirable—as a student, as a potential mate, or as an employee—that I couldn’t win. I could no longer reliably know how to make myself desirable in the eyes of the world. It was better, I decided, to work on fulfilling my own wants and desires.

The fear I had developed about friendships in grade school turned into a tendency to verbally tear down other women who dared to challenge my fragile ego. Sarcasm had been the daily catechism in our house—a form of verbal warfare in which science always won. Contempt was heaped on those of differing political, cultural, or intellectual views. Even as an adult, these lessons lingered. I had a pathological need to prove that I was smart by putting others down—a practice that has sadly become a standard feature of social science.

The language of “wantedness” hurts children—and adults

Today, we are living in a society where the ideals of family planning that were envisioned in the seventies have largely been realized. The way couples talk about family size and fertility in casual settings has been so touched by “the magic wand of family planning” that we imagine there is one-hundred-percent correspondence between an imagined number of births and the shape of the families we have.

Not only family size, but the sex and genetic makeup of a birth are subject to the rubric of “wantedness.”

Even when people talk about their personal fertility, no one questions the logic of “wanted vs. unwanted births.” Yet when this kind of rhetoric permeates a society, the first thing to go is the capacity to form and sustain long-term relationships of the kind that hold the family together, like marriage. The decision to have children ceases to be something that people plan for by becoming married. Instead, it is viewed as extraneous to marriage as an institution.

The effects of the family planning rhetoric of the 1970s changed a generation. One can hear the echoes in the way we talk about the family today. Classifying human beings as “wanted” and “unwanted” has insidious and enduring effects. Instead of family bonds, it creates groups of human beings who have to prove they are worthy of life before receiving it.

For my generation of late baby-boomers, we were not so much career-driven as driven to achieve in any area. We delayed child-rearing, and opted for long-distance relationships that lasted only until the next academic opportunity arose. Instead of being resilient, we were unable to endure conflict and were crushed under criticism, a disease that ruined collegial cooperation and stifled academic discourse. Our assumptions could not be criticized, and any challenge had to be met with total resistance.

The ideology behind the perfect family was not nearly as pretty as the sterile plastic models of the womb looked. The beautiful pink and magenta models of the womb in the big, sunny office never became what they should have become: life. The ideology said that families would be improved when sex was kept far from birth, and that when a relationship or a person was no longer wanted, one simply did away with it, setting it aside to die like one of my father’s potted plants.

Over time, anatomical models became frightening to me, because they never changed—the embryos were always suspended, never complete. The plants in the office window continued to fascinate me though, especially the “Crown of Thorns,” a tangled tree that forced scarlet flowers up through wooden thorns. Messy, tangled, and uncontrolled, it was a survivor, a desert tree, that continued to produce life even in old age.

Susan Martin writes about gender, fertility and memory from the perspective of a non-Jewish person walking on the soil where the killing of millions of Jewish people took place. She studies the boundaries between historical record and the recording of memory in the body as it influences current cultural issues of gender identity. This article has been republished, with permission, from Public Discourse.

Doctors Pressured Mom Have Abortion at 38 Weeks Because Hector Has Down Syndrome, She Refused

MICAIAH BILGER

A British mother decided to speak out publicly after watching the medical community discriminate against her unborn son because he has Down syndrome.

Speaking with The Sun, Cheryl Bilsborrow, of Lancashire, England, said prenatal testing is fueling increased discrimination against unborn babies with disabilities.

Parents often feel pressured to consider abortion after a Down syndrome diagnosis. In Bilsborrow’s case, she said she repeatedly was asked if she wanted an abortion, including when she was 38 weeks pregnant.

“Never!” she replied, but they kept asking.

Today, her son Hector is a happy, affectionate 2-year-old. His mother said he loves to sing, and he is beginning to talk.

“He’s got beautiful white hair and blue eyes, and he is always smiling and laughing, blowing kisses and coming for hugs,” Bilsborrow said. “But when I was pregnant I was made to feel like his life would have no value and that I should abort him. Why? Because he has Down’s Syndrome.”

New research from 26 hospitals in England found a 30 percent drop in the number of babies born with Down syndrome since the NIPT prenatal test became widely available. All NHS hospitals are supposed to begin offering the test soon, according to the report.

Bilsborrow described the situation as a “national travesty.”

She said she agreed to have the screening test done “without much thought.” When the results came back, however, they were a huge shock, and the so-called options counseling did not help.

“Each time I went back for my midwife appointments over the pregnancy, they spoke to me about the possibility of abortion,” Bilsborrow said. “There was no offer of counselling, no discussion about how my life might be enhanced by this baby.”

Though she was extremely worried and anxious about her child, she repeatedly refused to abort him.

Yet, “abort and get rid seemed to be the only answer” that she was given.

“What if the midwife had phoned me and said: ‘Please don’t be alarmed. You’re having a baby with Down’s syndrome. We can offer you some counseling and help you meet a family with a child with Down’s syndrome so you can learn more,’” she said. “Instead, they made out it was the worst news in the world.”

Bilsborrow said families deserve better.

“Now, having had Hector, I know there was nothing to be frightened of,” she said. “But the joys of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome aren’t spoken about when the NIPT test results first come back.

“It spoke volumes to me about the perception of children with Down’s syndrome,” she continued.

In England, abortions are legal up to birth for babies with Down syndrome and other prenatal diagnoses. Bilsborrow believes the expansion of prenatal testing would be “disastrous” for babies like her son because there is so much stigma about people with the disability.

“So given babies like my son can live perfectly happy, normal lives, why are millions of pounds are being spent on Down’s Syndrome screening each year – which in turn encourages mothers to abort their unborn children?” she asked.

Down syndrome discrimination is a problem across the world. Several years ago, CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011, according to CBS.

A number of American states have passed laws to ban discrimination against unborn babies with Down syndrome, but many are blocked by legal challenges from the abortion industry.

The Pill and Stress: How Hormonal Contraception Might Make it Harder for You to Cope

by Grace Stark

The Pill and Stress: How Hormonal Contraception Might Make it Harder for You to Cope

Did you know that the Pill affects how we process stress? Sometimes this is viewed as a positive since research shows women on hormonal contraception do not exhibit the body’s classic response to stress (i.e., elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, courtesy of HPA-axis signaling) in stressful situations. But this aspect of the Pill isn’t all positive; unfortunately, it can lead women to feel out of touch with healthy stressors, and it can also lead to chronic stress.

Hormonal birth control disrupts healthy stress processing

While at first glance it may seem that the Pill’s disruption of stress responses would lead to less stress—which sounds good—the problem is that hormonal contraceptives disrupt our bodies’ normal way of processing stress, even good stress. As a matter of fact, there is such a thing as healthy stress. The stress response is our body’s way of letting us know that something significant is happening and helping us react accordingly. Some stress is normal (in fact, needed) to help us live meaningful, interesting, lives—and to make a quick getaway in dicey situations. That’s why a healthy person will exhibit increased cortisol in dangerous or exciting situations, but will also experience a drop in cortisol once the precipitating event has passed.

But what happens if your body doesn’t experience that drop—if the stress response is always on? This is what is known as chronic stress, and it’s when stress becomes chronic that it causes all sorts of negative effects, such as depression and anxiety, memory and concentration impairment, weight gain, and headaches. Unfortunately, the bulk of the research on stress and hormonal contraception indicates that the bodies of women on hormonal contraception seem to react to stress similarly to bodies under chronic stress.

Women’s bodies on hormonal contraception mimic bodies under chronic stress

In her new book, This is Your Brain on Birth ControlDr. Sarah E. Hill discusses the effects of hormonal contraception on women’s stress response, describing how current research indicates that the HPA-axes of women on the Pill appear to be in “shutdown mode”:

“The Pill-taking women’s pattern of HPA-axis function looks suspiciously similar to that of someone who has experienced chronic stress, suggesting that the Pill might actually cause the HPA axis to go into overdrive, requiring it to take coordinated action to blunt itself.”

It is perhaps this self-shutdown of the HPA-axis that negatively affects a woman’s body on birth control from being able to effectively cope with stress, paving the way for all sorts of other issues associated with hormonal contraception, like depression and anxiety.

Further, Hill points out, “despite the fact that too-much cortisol signaling can increase women’s risk of brain-volume loss, serious depression, and certain health problems, no one really knows why this happens, how it unfolds, or whether it is reversible.”

No one knows the full effects of birth control on the brain

I think Hill’s finding above is so disturbing I had to put it in bold. Certainly, more research and awareness in this area is needed. But, for now, we can keep sharing articles like these, so women can grow in the knowledge of how their birth control may be affecting their health.

So, what does this mean for you if you’re on the Pill, or thinking about going on it? It’s hard to say, as the research into the relationship between hormonal contraception and its effects on the stress response is fairly preliminary, and because the Pill (and different formulations of hormonal contraception) seem to affect different women in different ways. But if potentially throwing your body’s response to stress way out of whack sounds like a gamble you’d rather not take, then rest assured that there are other options available that will keep your brain and body intact while still allowing you to effectively postpone pregnancy. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM) are science-backed, effective, natural forms of family planning that rival and sometimes exceed the effectiveness of the Pill.

To benefit from the high, research-backed effectiveness rates of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, begin by connecting with a trained FABM instructor. You can expect to find life-changing knowledge in a judgment-free zone, and begin a journey toward greater wellness and better-informed health decisions. And best of all, you can say goodbye to days of chronic stress.

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pro-life Movement

Fr. Frank Pavone

https://www.priestsforlife.org/articles/2791-our-lady-of-guadalupe-and-the-pro-life-movement

A Surprising Image

If you are involved in the pro-life movement for any length of time, you will encounter the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There are many connections between this particular image of Our Lady and the pro-life cause.

On December 12, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian named Juan Diego and requested that a shrine be built and dedicated to her on the Hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego, upon reporting this event to the bishop, was disappointed because the bishop didn’t seem to believe him. Juan returned to the place of the apparition where Our Lady again appeared. She told him to return the next morning when she would give him a sign that would convince the bishop of the truth of her appearance and her request.

The following morning Our Lady told Juan to go to the top of the hill and gather Castilian roses that he would find there. Although he knew that only cactus grew there, he obeyed, and his simple faith was rewarded by the sight of beautiful roses growing where she had told him they would be. He gathered them and showed them to Our Lady who rearranged them for him. Juan returned to the bishop. As he opened his tilma (a type of pancho), the roses fell to the floor. All who were present were startled to see an image of Our Lady on the tilma. Today this image is still preserved on Juan Diego’s tilma, which hangs over the main altar in the basilica at the foot of Tepeyac Hill just outside of Mexico City. In the image, Our Lady is pregnant, carrying the Son of God in her womb. Her head is bowed in homage, indicating that she is not the Goddess, but rather the one who bears and at the same time worships the one true God. Many articles have been written on dozens of other theological lessons drawn from the details of the image.

When asked who the lady was, Juan replied in his Aztec dialect, “Te Coatlaxopeuh,” which means “she who crush the stone serpent.” His answer recalls Gen. 3:15 and the depictions of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, her heel on the serpent’s head. The devil exalts himself above God and above God’s law (see Isaiah 14:12-15), whereas Mary submits to God (see Luke 1:38). Some promote abortion as a “choice.” Self-will is exalted. We reject abortion because we, like Mary, submit all our choices to God. That spirit of obedience crushes evil and sin. Our Lady’s image reminds us to live in that obedience each day.

Human Sacrifice Then and Now

Some nine million Aztecs were converted to Christ by the power of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At that time, the Aztec peoples were practicing human sacrifice. As a result of the image’s presence among the people, their hearts were converted to the true God and the practice of human sacrifice was abolished. A key theological dynamic operating here is that Our Lady turned the Aztecs from a worldview of despair to one of hope, from a conviction that the gods were against them to a conviction that God was so much for them that He became one of them.

We can listen to stories of Aztecs cutting out their victims’ hearts or placing their heads on poles and say, “Oh, how terrible that was!” But America is not doing any better, as the hearts and heads of innocent babies are destroyed by abortion! The image is therefore being used again to change the hearts of our people.

A Theology of Despair

The Aztects had a complicated mythology-theology. The universe for them was essentially unstable, and in that universe humans played a very small role. This view led to pessimism, and a fear that they needed to always appease the deities. Their view was that the present world was the “Fifth world,” made by the “Feathered Serpent.” The previous four worlds had been destroyed by gods who turned people into monkeys or dogs. The present world, they thought, would be destroyed by an earthquake, as a result of which skeleton creatures would come out of the ground to destroy the surviving inhabitants of earth.

This is a theology of despair. Whatever moral aversion they may have had to human sacrifice, their despair made them feel they had no choice but to practice it.

The dynamics behind abortion are essentially the same. While there may not be a mythology of feathered serpents and skeletons, there is real despair. People do not get abortions because of “freedom of choice”; they get them because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. They feel trapped, abandoned, desperate, and afraid. The thousands of case-studies that Priests for Life has collected from post-abortive women are permeated by the theme expressed by the woman who said, “My friends told me I had no other option. The clinic did not offer me any alternative, and I was almost crying out for one.” As author Frederica Mathewes-Green has said, a woman does not choose an abortion like she chooses a Porsche or an ice-cream — rather, she chooses it like an animal caught in a trap chooses to gnaw off its own leg. Her experience is that she either chooses to end the life of this baby, or her own life will end. “I cannot handle it, I can’t do it, nobody will support me, it’s impossible.”

The rationalizations offered for abortion are also full of despair for the child. “Why bring a child into this world, into these circumstances, where he/she will have to suffer so much?”

From Despair to Hope

How does the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe answer the theology of despair, both for the Aztecs and for the Americas?

Our Lady is carrying God within her womb. The God of the Universe has now become a human being. No longer is there any question as to whether God is on our side. He is not a God who will destroy us; He is a God who has become our brother. He is not a God far away who waits to be appeased by blood. He is a God who shares our own flesh and blood, and is as close to the human family as an unborn child to his mother.

In this framework, human beings no longer play a small part in the universe. On the contrary, as the Second Vatican Council proclaimed, “By his incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22). The result of that is the promise of Revelation 3:21, “I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne.”

The universe into which Our Lady of Guadalupe invites us is no longer an unstable universe. God clearly reveals Himself as the only God, who is and shares both love and life. This truth brings hope. There is no longer need for human sacrifice, whether on pagan altars or in abortion clinics, because both the present and the future are in the hands of a God who is “God with us.”

The Image and the Pro-life Movement

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which converted the Aztecs has been replicated and travels the United States on an explicit mission to end abortion. It is carried into Churches and it is brought in front of abortion clinics nationwide. I have been with the image many times in these settings. In one instance in Florida, a Catholic girl who was already in the clinic’s waiting room looked outside and saw us praying, and decided to cancel her abortion. She came out to talk to us. We arranged for all the assistance she needed, and later that year I had the joy of baptizing her baby, whom she named “Guadalupe.”

The image speaks to these girls a message of hope. It also speaks to the pro-life people a message about the task before us. We who fight abortion do not see abortion walking down the street. Instead, we see a girl, frightened and in the grip of despair. We, the Church, are to reach out to her in what is the most critical pastoral mission of our day.

That mission is illustrated by the Annunciation and the Visitation. When Mary is told she will be the Mother of Christ, she does not get wrapped up in herself, thinking about what has just been said and isolating herself from others in order to absorb some unique spiritual experience. Rather, she seems to pay more attention to what Gabriel said about Elisabeth, Mary’s cousin, that about Mary! She runs in haste into the hill country and tends to Elisabeth’s needs during her pregnancy. The message for us is that authentic religious experience and true worship never turn us in on ourselves. Rather, the more real our encounter is with God, the more attentive and responsive we are to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

Our Lady of Guadalupe has been declared the “Patroness of the Unborn.” They will be saved by the message of hope she brings, and by the message of concrete charity with which she challenges the Church. Among the many and varied groups that carry out this pro-life mission, one of special note in this context is “Indians for Life.” The outreach department of the National Right to Life Committee, as well as Priests for Life, have fostered and encouraged the growth of this yet small organization, coordinated by Clementine “Little Hawk” Hernandez. Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., has been among the strong supporters of this effort, which gives concrete expression to the reverence of Native Americans for the gift of life.

Conclusion: For the little ones, for us

When Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, she addressed him as “Juanito” (signifying the weakest or smallest member of the family), and as “Son”, and spoke of herself as both his “Mother” and the “Mother of the One, True living God.” All of this indicates another reason why Our Lady of Guadalupe should be entrusted with the unborn.

Today she addresses to us who defend life the same words she addressed to Juan Diego:

“Hear and let it penetrate your hearts, my dear little ones. Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you; let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Do not fear vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here, your Mother? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?”

 

Halfway Through the Abortion, Jessica Changed Her Mind and Saved This Adorable Baby

LISA BOURNE

After falling into despair following the start of a chemical abortion last year, Jessica pursued abortion pill reversal, and she is now the mother to five-month-old-baby Arya, who brings joy to her life.

“I’m really happy that I was able to reverse the abortion and that she is part of my life,” she said of her baby girl. “I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

Mindful of those who didn’t have this same chance, she is speaking up about her experience in hopes that others can learn about Abortion Pill Reversal.

“There are other women who didn’t have that option,” Jessica told Pregnancy Help News.

She had just begun her first year of nursing school when found out she was pregnant with her second child. Jessica’s three-year-old son had just been diagnosed with autism, and she’d also left her spouse, citing problems with drug and alcohol, and his mental and emotional abuse.

Jessica recalled discovering that she was pregnant, finding herself out of breath walking up the hill to her car after class, which was strange.

After running to the store, purchasing and taking three pregnancy tests, which all turned positive, she was then on her bathroom floor sobbing.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Jessica said. “I went back and forth from wanting to keep my baby, to trying to focus on the life I already struggled with at times.”

She thought about being a single mother, now with two children, her son’s diagnosis and her trying to finish school, all without support from her children’s father.

“It was really hard on me,” Jessica recalled.

After an ultrasound in October of last year confirmed she was six weeks pregnant, she continued to mull over her situation while discussing options with her doctor.

“I really was unsure of my decision; part of me wanted to focus on my new goals in life and another part of me wanted to keep this precious baby,” she said. “It was later on that day that I decided I would take the first abortion pill.”

Jessica said she immediately began to cry after she took the abortion pill.

“I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot staring, not knowing what I had just done,” she said.

It was Thanksgiving weekend in Ontario, and she was driving to her mother’s house the following day, crying through the entire drive.

“I felt horrible,” Jessica stated. “How could I want to abort my beautiful baby? … The life that was growing inside of me…”

“I was so upset with my decision that I didn’t want to live anymore,” she told Pregnancy Help News. “Then I thought about my three-year-old son, and that I can’t not want to live because I have another child.”

Jessica continued to sob with regret after arriving at her mother’s home and talking with mom.

Her mother suggested that there might be some way to reverse the chemical abortion process, and Jessica began searching on the internet, coming across the website abortionpillreversal.com.

She spoke with a helpline consultant, who told her that a nurse would call her back.

The consultant was very supportive, Jessica said, reassuring her that she would do everything she could to help her.

The few minutes waiting for word on the next steps were the longest of her life, said Jessica, “I just kept thinking, “Please, I hope someone can help me, can help my beautiful baby.”

When the Abortion Pill Rescue Network nurse called her back, Jessica said she was so polite and helped reassure her that she was not alone in this situation.

“She gave me all the information that I needed and called local hospitals,” said Jessica, to determine whether they knew the APR protocol.

She estimates that it was about 30 hours after taking the abortion pill that she started her progesterone treatment.

The chemical abortion process consists of two pills; the first, mifepristone blocks the effects of progesterone, the natural hormone in a pregnant mother’s body necessary for her pregnancy to thrive. The abortion drug causes the uterine lining to break down and the placenta to begin to fail, thus starving the baby of oxygen and nutrients.

The second chemical, misoprostol, taken one to two days later, completes the chemical abortion, by causing the mother to deliver her deceased baby.

The Abortion Pill Reversal protocol works by giving the mother extra progesterone up to 72 hours after she takes the first chemical abortion drug. The treatment has the best chance for success when begun within 24 hours.

Jessica was followed closely by doctors throughout her pregnancy and had numerous ultrasounds. She continued to worry about her daughter even after completing the progesterone treatment at 18 weeks, but carried her baby to full term, delivering her one day after her due date.

“My daughter Arya Alexandria is the most amazing gift,” Jessica beamed. “I call her my miracle baby.”

Arya was born perfectly healthy, she said, and is very happy, sleeping a lot, and getting along well with her son.

“I’m just really happy that this worked out,” Jessica told Pregnancy Help News. “She brings a lot of joy to my life and also to my son’s life.”

She said she’ll be forever grateful to have found the APR website and receive treatment as soon as she could.

Jessica hopes for more women to find help and support in these situations. And she believes everyone should be educated on the Abortion Pill Reversal process “because it truly is an amazing thing.”

“So many babies have been saved by this process, and by saving babies you could also be saving a mom,” she said.

“There are other options if you do take the abortion pill,” said Jessica. “That one option (APR) really changed my outlook on things. It gave me hope.”

Pregnancy Help News is a project of Heartbeat International, which manages the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, a 24/7-365 provider network of more than 800 clinicians that provide the APR protocol.

LifeNews Note: Lisa Bourne is Managing Editor of Pregnancy Help News and Content Writer for Heartbeat International. This originally appeared at Pregnancy Help News.

Tragic: 21-year-old woman dies from side effects of NuvaRing birth control

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Another young woman has died as a result of hormonal birth control.

Alexzandria “Ally” Givens died in July, two days before her 21st birthday, after collapsing when she got out of bed to use the bathroom, according to Fox 17. Her boyfriend, Eli Richards, called 911. Then he called Ally’s parents.

Carla Givens, Ally’s mother, told Fox 17 that Ally hadn’t been feeling well the night before. While she was unable to describe exactly what was wrong, Ally had complained of pain in her neck and shoulder as well as her leg during her time using the NuvaRing. No one realized it was connected to the birth control. When her parents received the call that she had collapsed, they rushed to her side.

“It was a worst nightmare phone call you’d ever get in your life,” Carla Givens explained. “We got it and we rushed out of bed and went to his house and when we got there, the door was open and she was laying there and they were trying to revive her and they couldn’t.”

The medical examiner determined that Ally had died of pulmonary embolisms caused by blood clots that had formed as a result of the NuvaRing, listing “History of Exogenous Hormone Use” in the official report.

Carla Givens told Fox 17 that while she believes Ally’s doctor told her what risks are involved in taking hormonal birth control like the NuvaRing, she doesn’t think the doctor explained how those side effects present themselves. So while Ally may have been made aware that blood clots could develop when using NuvaRing, she wasn’t told what the actual signs and symptoms would be.

Many women aren’t made aware of the full list of side effects that accompany hormonal birth control and even if they are warned about them, these serious side effects are often played down by medical professionals as being rare and unimportant. However, when a woman dies, it shines a light on just how vital it is for women to know exactly what they’re getting into when they choose to use hormonal birth control.

The Givens family won’t be suing Merck, the manufacturer of the NuvaRing, for Ally’s death, but they are asking that they stop selling the product altogether.

“I just want it off the shelf,” said Carla Givens. “I don’t want another girl to die from it and have those parents feel like I do.”

But it isn’t just the NuvaRing that can kill women. All hormonal birth control comes with major concerns for women’s health including an increased risk of depression and suicide, heart attack and stroke, breast cancer and cervical cancer, infertility, blood clots, and death. In fact, research shows that up to 400 women a year die as a result of taking hormonal birth control. Pulmonary embolisms and strokes have always been rare in young adults; however, as reported by The Federalist, once birth control hit the market, the number of young people experiencing cardiovascular problems such as these increased.

College student Hope Johnson died in 2014 from a pulmonary embolism linked to birth control, and her family was recently awarded $9 million in a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit against Auburn Urgent Care in Alabama. After a blood test found that Hope was at a high risk of developing blood clots, the results weren’t properly filed and she was given birth control known to cause blood clots anyway. Despite a few trips to the ER for help, her condition was not properly diagnosed, and she died about a month after she began taking birth control.

Twenty-year-old Alexandra Williams died in 2018 after collapsing in her parents’ driveway. She had been suffering from back pain that doctors failed to recognize as a sign of blood clots in her lungs. She had been on hormonal birth control pills for nine months, which Planned Parenthood had prescribed. According to The Federalist, Alex was not made completely aware of the side effects and health risks that come with hormonal birth control, and her doctors failed to properly diagnose her once symptoms began.

Women are suffering from the effects of birth control, yet major media outlets and doctors are ignoring the facts. Birth control is failing women and girls, yet the school systems bring Planned Parenthood into their buildings to dole it out to children. How many women are going to be sacrificed at the altar of the sexual revolution?

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Pro-Life Mission

By Fr Paul Schenck

I offer an analogy for the pro-life mission. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did for the understanding of Christian doctrine what the pro-life movement does for the understanding of human dignity. The Immaculate Conception endows Mary with Redemption, salvation and holiness, her eternal worth, rights and personhood “from the first moment of… conception.”

HARRISBURG, PA. (Catholic online) – The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the Feast we celebrate on December 8th in this way: “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

 “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” “The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.

The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”. (Eph. 1:3,4) “The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.” (CCC #490-493) 

What comes to mind as I reflect on this beautiful Feast is a vital analogy I offer to the Pro-Life movement to help in the mission. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did for the understanding of Christian doctrine what the pro-life movement does for the understanding of human dignity.

The Immaculate Conception endows Mary with Redemption, salvation and holiness, her eternal worth, rights and personhood ” from the first moment of conception.” Let me explain the analogy.  By withholding the recognition of personhood from the unborn child, the Supreme Court in Roe V Wade, made the human child in the womb a worthless blob waiting for value and meaning to be conferred upon her at some later time. That judgment would be made by others, all of whom would be less noble, certainly more sinful than she.

The personhood of the unborn child is the most compelling moral issue of our time. It is so precisely because it defines who is a human being – and who a human being is. We all know that we must treat each and every human being with the ultimate respect and never deem any person “disposable.”

Genocide, homicide, and murder must never be condoned because it unjustifiably destroys a human being. The reason the unborn child is at the very essence of the question of human dignity, human rights and protection is that, if it is unknown who is a human being, then how can human rights be defined and protected? If any human being can be deprived of the right to life, then all human beings can be deprived of life. It is no longer possible to avoid the question of when a human begins – too much is at stake. We must end the debate and resolve that each and every human being is a person – and that person begins in their first moment of conception.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her Conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” The Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary lists three Scripture passages that imply the Immaculate Conception: Genesis 3:15, Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42. The Genesis passage points to Mary as the Mother of the Redeemer who bears and brings to birth the one who will reverse the curse of Adam and Eve.

In this respect, she was the New Eve. The first Eve’s disobedience brought death, the Second Eve’s fiat brought life. Luke tells us that Mary was full of Grace. For the Church throughout the ages this meant that she possesses every aspect of God’s Grace, all the moral and theological virtues, all the extraordinary gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. And Luke says that she was blessed among women. The Church embraces Mary as unique and unrepeatable. Among women she is singular. As daughter, virgin, wife and mother, she is the supreme example of woman and the fulfillment of every woman’s aspirations.

The Immaculate Conception teaches us that everything that Mary would become she already was in the first moment of her conception.” Mary was not less than Mary before her birth. She possessed, albeit in a hidden way, all the Grace and spiritual attributes granted her by the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, from the first moment of her conception. What does this teach us about ourselves? That we possess our full potential – our full personhood – from the first moment of our conception. There is no one reading this article today who was not who you are now ever since the very first moment of your conception.

Let me try that again: Everyone of you has always been who you are today. You have grown in knowledge, experience, and even faith – but you have never been anyone but yourself, you have never been anyone other than you, you have never, ever been anything less than a unique, unrepeatable, human person. The Immaculate Conception demonstrates that God created each one of us with a unique purpose and plan for our lives, and that plan began the first moment of our conception.

+ Hail Mary, full of Grace.  —– Fr. Paul Schenck, a Priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA., is the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high-level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policymakers the information, education, and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions. He is a Champion of the Pro-Life movement.

 

Birth control pill shrinks part of brain that controls sex drive: research

Top scientists found that women taking the contraceptive pill have a significantly smaller hypothalamus – a brain region responsible for regulating hormones.

Damage to the hypothalamus can wreak havoc with a women’s sex drive, mood,  appetite, heart rate and sleep cycles.

The shocking revelation comes following a study, presented at the annual meeting of Radiological Society of North America, that examined 50 women – 21 of whom were using the Pill.

All 50 women underwent a brain scan, and doctors measured the size of the hypothalamus of each participant.

And doctors were stunned to discover the difference in brain structures in women taking the Pill compared to those who weren’t.

Impact on brain function

Dr Michael Lipton, professor of radiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: “We found a dramatic difference in the size of the brain structures between women who were taking oral contraceptives and those who were not.

“This initial study shows a strong association and should motivate further investigation into the effects of oral contraceptives on brain structure and their potential impact on brain function.”

Dr Lipton also found a strong correlation between smaller hypothalamic volume and greater anger and depressive symptoms.

Despite this, he said that this finding was currently “preliminary”.

This is the first time structural effects of sex hormones, including oral contraceptive pills, on the human hypothalamus have been reported, according to the researchers.

It comes after it was revealed the Pill can dictate who you fall in love with and significantly lower your sex drive.

Top psychologist Dr Sarah Hill revealed that it affects “sex, attraction, stress, hunger, eating patterns, emotion regulation, friendships, aggression, mood, learning, and so many other things”.

She said women on the Pill are attracted to less masculine men and are less interested in sex.

That’s because the hormone progesterone, which sends a message to the body that ovulation is not required, is dominant throughout your cycle.

She said: “Rather than experiencing an increased preference for sexy men at high fertility like naturally cycling women do, Pill-taking women exhibit an unwavering preference for men with less masculine faces and voices.

“This is the sort preferred by naturally cycling women during the second half of their cycles, when progesterone is high.”

Other side effects…

Earlier this year, experts warned that one million women could be taking the wrong contraceptive pill – and could be suffering nasty side effects in silence.

Common side effects of the contraceptive pill include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Weight gain
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of libido
  • Missed periods
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Breast tenderness
  • Spotting between periods

Doctors estimate three million women are plagued by nasty side effects of their contraception.

Pro-life mom beats world record for fastest half-marathon while pushing baby stroller

Martin M. Barillas

TULSA, Oklahoma, December 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life mother accomplished a world record for fastest half-marathon while pushing her baby daughter in a stroller. This happened despite race officials’ objections to the pro-life messaging she and her teammates put forth during the race.

Julia Webb (36) won the Route 66 women’s half marathon in Tulsa on Sunday, setting a world record while she pushed her 10-month-old daughter, Gabriella, in a stroller. Wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed, “Remember the unborn,” she came in at 1:21:24, according to race organizers. The official results are pending ratification from the Guinness Book of Records.

Fox News reported that Julia said, “I have just felt called to run my whole life.” She added, “This is what I was made for. Especially as a mom of three kids, I need some me-time…everything that it entails, I just absolutely love it.” Saying that she enjoys competition, Julia said that decided to combine running and motherhood by running with her children in a stroller.”

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, she said that in 2016, she clocked a similar time, pushing her daughter Jonni is stroller, but did not have video evidence to prove it as required by Guinness.

Both Julia and her husband Alan Webb are active with LIFE Runners, the largest pro-life running group in the world. LIFE Runners has over 13,000 Christian runners in 39 countries all over the world who raise money and draw attention to the pro-life cause. During the summer, Julia trained with fellow LIFE Runners for the race on Sunday. “They were a big reason I was able to break the record this season,” she said. LIFE Runners founder Dr. Patrick Castle said in an interview with LifeSiteNews that running for the pro-life cause gave Julia the extra push she needed to accomplish her record run.

A pro-life advocate, Julia wore her blue LIFE Runners t-shirt bearing the words “Remember the unborn” as she ran to victory. She is currently preparing to run marathon trials this February in Atlanta in order to qualify for the next Olympic Games. LIFE Runner and husband Alan is an athlete,too, and famed for having set the unbeaten American record in the mile (3:46.91). Both Julia and Alan are devout Catholics.

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Credit: LIFE RunnersLIFE Runners

In a Facebook post, Julia wrote:

The decision to join Life Runners was not easy. For most of my life I never wanted to stand up for anything. I wanted to be agreeable with everyone and everything, offending as little people as possible … 2016 my husband had a conversion and has challenged me on every level ever since.

I realized I was most of the time ashamed of Christ and His Church. I was embarrassed to be ‘out there’. Also I have always been Pro Life but I was terrified to take a public stand against abortion. I just wanted to be accepted and having approval feels good.

Respect to all beliefs but I feel called to be a witness to Christ. There are days I am dragging and want to hide behind a Nike logo but it’s time for me to be uncomfortable. Standing up for the littlest in society matters. Anyone else brave enough to join?

In a telephone interview with LifeSiteNews, Julia credited LIFE Runners at the Tulsa race for helping her achieve her record. “There was so much charity and love and support for families,” she said, on the part of LIFE Runners at the race. She said she arrived fatigued and somewhat dispirited to the race. But the enthusiasm and warmth of her teammates buoyed her energy level. Before the race, she felt that the Holy Spirit was at work in her, lending the confidence she needed to make the win.

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Credit: LIFE RunnersLIFE Runners

Having joined LIFE Runners earlier this year has not been without a cost, she said in the interview. Pro-abortion acquaintances and fellow runners have criticized her for wearing the LIFE Runner t-shirt and have questioned her motivations.

Julia told Fox News that she wants to see LIFE Runners movement continue to grow, adding, “… if it can save one woman from getting an abortion it will be worth it.” In a separate statement, she wrote: “When I am competing for LIFE Runners it is for a cause much greater than myself and this is the extra I need to achieve big goals.”

In a statement, LIFE Runners founder Dr. Castle, a nano-analytical chemist and pro-life advocate, declared, “Julia set that world record in a LIFE Runners jersey supported by her 13,857 teammates in 39 nations.” He added that more than 100 fellow Christian LIFE Runners were on hand to cheer her on at Route 66 Marathon events.

In an email, Castle wrote that 35% of LIFE Runners in 50 chapters are age 22 and younger. For example, Baby Gabriella Webb wore a LIFE Runner onesie under her parka during the race.

Race officials squelch free speech

In an extensive interview with LifeSiteNews, Dr. Castle said some race officials objected to LIFE Runners’ use of pro-life messaging on t-shirts, their team booth, and banners. He said Route 66 Marathon executive director Destiny Green told him on the sidelines of the race, “Stay in the confines of your booth.” Dr. Castle said Green gestured to a line in front of the team’s table as the boundary that should not be crossed. When he pointed out that the booths of other teams exceeded their assigned space, Green responded: “But you have an agenda.” He pointed out to her that other teams also had an agenda, which included pushing handicapped people in jogging carts to make them feel part of the race.

In another instance of apparent prejudice, Dr. Castle said a race official called on the LIFE Runners, “Lose the jackets!” in reference to the blue jackets that bear the team logo and messaging.

Other race officials also expressed objections to the LIFE Runners’ pro-life messaging. For example, a race director told Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois to remove the LIFE Runners’ “political banner from the start area.” Paprocki refused, telling the official: “We have a First Amendment right to be here with this message.” The race official retorted, “I don’t care if you are a bishop!” Dr. Castle, who was also on hand, responded that they would move only if asked by the local police. No police subsequently asked for the removal of the messaging.

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Credit: LIFE RunnersLIFE Runners

Bishop Paprocki ran a half-marathon on Sunday. Forthrightly pro-life, Paprocki issued a statement earlier this year telling Catholic politicians who have affirmed pro-abortion legislation that they should not present themselves for Holy Communion.

Undaunted by opposition, LIFE Runners are planning to participate in the November 6–7, 2020 marathon and half-marathon in Indianapolis, in addition to their annual relay run that crisscrosses the country.

Another Reason to Oppose Abortion: Marriage and Pregnancy Reduce Crime

STAR PARKER

There’s a general assumption in public policy discourse that economic policy and social policy are separate universes.

When economic policy is the topic, we think about taxes, government spending, business, jobs, etc. When social policy is the topic, we think about marriage, family, children, abortion, etc.

But, in reality, the line between economic policy and social policy is ambiguous, if it exists at all.

In recent years, for instance, family structure has gotten increasing attention as an important factor to consider in policy discussions about poverty.

Now we have a new academic paper by economists—Maxim Massenkoff and Evan Rose, both doctoral candidates in economics at the University of California, Berkeley—that makes it even clearer that what we generally think of as social policy can fall into the realm of economic analysis.

The paper—”Family Formation and Crime”—examines the connection between the incidence of pregnancy, childbirth, and marriage, and the incidence of crime.

The conclusion, in the words of the authors: “Our event-study analysis indicates that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in crime rivaling any known intervention. For mothers, criminal offending drops precipitously in the first few months of pregnancy, stabilizing at half of pre-pregnancy levels three years after the birth. Men show a smaller, but still important 25 percent decline beginning at the onset of pregnancy, although domestic violence arrests spike for fathers immediately after birth.”

Marriage, according to the authors, “is a stopping point, marking the completion of a roughly 50 percent decline in offending for both men and women.”

The analysis, again per the authors, is “by far the largest such study ever conducted in the United States.” They tapped information on over a million births and, using data in the state of Washington, matched records on “criminal offenses, births, marriages, and divorces.”

George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok discusses the work on his enormously popular blog Marginal Revolution.

Tabarrok notes his own research on crime deterrence, which shows that in the case of three-strikes laws, the prospect of an additional 20 years to life imprisonment reduced criminal recidivism by 17%. Compared with this, notes Tabarrok, “the effect of pregnancy is astoundingly large.”

Of course, demonstrating statistical correlation and explaining why the occurrences correlate are different things. Why is incidence of pregnancy followed by significant drops in criminal activity in both women and men?

What is it about birth and marriage that contributes significantly to reducing crime?

Tabarrok conjectures it’s about “socializing and civilizing both men and women.”

I would speculate that it is similar to why, when a pregnant woman sees an ultrasound image of the child developing within her, she is less likely to abort that child.

It’s a wake-up call to the awe and mystery of life, which produces a sense of meaning and personal responsibility.

It follows that we ought to be concerned about the decline in Americans’ sense of importance of marriage and children.

In a newly published survey from Pew Research Center, 57% of men and 46% of women said “having a job or career they enjoy” is “essential for a … fulfilling life.”

Compared with this, only 16% of men and 17% of women said marriage is “essential for a … fulfilling life.”

And only 16% of men and 22% of women said children are “essential for a … fulfilling life.”

I love my work and agree that satisfying and meaningful work is rewarding. But I think something is wrong when Americans are saying work is three times more important for a fulfilling life than marriage and children.

The public policy implications of this research showing a drop in crime after pregnancy are not clear. But what is clear is we should be thinking more about how our culture can do a better job conveying the importance of marriage and children.

LifeNews.com Note: Star Parker is the founder and president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) and is a leading pro-life advocate within the African-American community.

Male Sex Hormones Are a Big Deal, Too

https://naturalwomanhood.org/mens-hormones-testosterone-are-a-big-deal-too/

by Grace Stark

This is Your Brain on Birth Control, a new book by Dr. Sara E. Hill takes a remarkably deep dive into the myriad ways that hormonal contraception alters women’s bodies, demonstrating that our sex hormones have an enormous impact on how our brains and bodies function. As we learn more about the consequences of altering women’s hormonal balance with contraception, we’ve come to find that those consequences can be very serious, indeed—in some cases, even fatal.  Although the book is about the consequences of meddling with the hormones of women of reproductive age, it should also serve as a cautionary tale against male contraception and the risks of fiddling with men’s hormones.

While women’s sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) tend to get more attention because of their relationship to the monthly cycle and to pregnancy, men’s sex hormones (primarily testosterone), are often something of an afterthought (unless a man is experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction or infertility), mostly because they don’t cycle on a monthly basis as women’s do. But interesting research about men’s changing testosterone levels in response to fatherhood shows that men’s hormones drive their brains and bodies as much as women’s. Testosterone appears to have an impact on who men are the same way that estrogen and progesterone do on women.

For instance, a 2011 study came to the following conclusions:

“Single nonfathers with higher T [testosterone] at baseline were more likely to be partnered fathers 4.5 [years] later. After becoming partnered fathers, these men experienced dramatic reductions in both waking and evening T, which were substantially greater than the age-related declines observed in single nonfathers. Our finding that caregiving fathers had lower than fathers who did not invest in care supports the hypothesis that father-child interaction likely contributes to suppressed paternal T among fathers.”

You read that right: becoming a father is associated with a large drop in a man’s testosterone levels, which from an evolutionary perspective, is thought to promote more caregiving behavior in men, and better long-term family stability.

One has to wonder if continued research will uncover the further impact testosterone has on other behaviors and functions. Testosterone has physical and emotional effects beyond a man’s fertility, much like female sex hormones do in women. The preliminary signs seem to point in that direction, and furthermore, while the results are mixed, some studies have found a correlation between testosterone replacement therapy and increased risk of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack, and possibly heightened the risk of prostate cancer, too, as for women using hormonal contraceptives.

While men’s testosterone levels may not fluctuate on a monthly cycle, they do fluctuate on a daily basis, and in response to different situations (even to activities like interacting with guns). Thankfully, precisely because of the potential for cardiovascular events, the FDA has cautioned against using testosterone replacement for off-label purposes, which was a booming industry from 2001 to 2011—an action which has seemed to slow the trend in off label “low-T” prescriptions. (Now, we hope that the FDA will begin to take such concerns about hormonal contraception as seriously.)

If one thing is clear from all of our experimentation with sex hormone tinkering thus far, it’s that it’s difficult—if not impossible—to use them for a single, precise, desired outcome (like pregnancy prevention) and that unintended consequences and side effects will typically abound. That’s why calls for a “male birth control pill” as an answer to women’s woes with the Pill (and other forms of hormonal contraception) thoroughly miss the mark. There should be no doubt that anything that would pump men full of synthetic hormones—as female hormonal contraception does—would just be shifting the same burden over to men, affecting them in ways that we can’t even know about yet. And frankly, in an era with highly effective, side-effect-free Fertility awareness-based Methods (FABMs), it’s simply a burden that’s unnecessary for anyone to bear.

So let’s not make the mistake of believing that men’s sex hormones—and tinkering with them—are any less complicated than are women’s. There’s still so much we don’t know about how our sex hormones work within our bodies, but the preliminary research indicates that they do quite a bit and that messing around with synthetic versions can lead to some pretty serious effects in our brain and bodies. That’s precisely why FABMs have so much to offer men and women: safe, effective family planning, the natural way.

Media praises contraception for reduced abortion rates

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(National Review) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released abortion data for 2016, indicating that the U.S. abortion rate has continued to decline, a trend that began in 1980. Between 2015 and 2016, both the number of abortions and the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 U.S. women of childbearing age) decreased by about 2 percent. The decline was fairly consistent, as 33 of the 46 states that reported abortion data saw their numbers decline. This is good news for pro-lifers, and for anyone who wants to see the incidence of abortion decrease.

While much of the analysis of new abortion data typically focus on short-term trends, the long-term decline in the U.S. abortion rate is even more impressive. According to the CDC, the abortion rate has fallen by more than 25 percent between 2007 and 2016 among the 47 states that reported abortion data consistently during that timespan (excluding California, Maryland, and New Hampshire, which did not report abortion numbers). The data also indicate that the abortion rate has fallen by approximately 50 percent since 1980. The abortion trends reported by the CDC are similar to those shown by estimates from the Guttmacher Institute, which in September released its estimates for U.S. abortion data for 2017.

Most of the media coverage of declining abortion numbers typically credits increased contraception use. But commentators often overlook a key factor in the long-term abortion-rate decline: the fact that a higher percentage of women with unintended pregnancies carry them to term. Data from Guttmacher show that between 1981 and 2011, the percentage of unintended pregnancies that resulted in abortion fell from approximately 54 percent to 42 percent.

Since the early 1990s, pro-lifers have made gains in public opinion, enacted a higher number of pro-life laws, and established more pregnancy-help centers. The declining abortion numbers and the fact that more unintended pregnancies are being carried to term is nice evidence that these pro-life efforts have been effective. Hopefully, the new CDC data will encourage pro-lifers and inspire them to continue their lifesaving efforts.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at National Review and is reprinted here with permission.

Activists launch ‘HIV-positive sperm bank’ to reduce ‘stigma’ around AIDS virus

November 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A couple of years ago, some of you might remember, California state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco sparked outrage by putting forward legislation that would reduce knowingly exposing others to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. In other words, withholding the information that you are HIV-positive from the partner you are sleeping with has become no longer a felony in California. The same legislation also applied to those who give blood to a blood bank without disclosing that they are HIV-positive. Wiener himself, unsurprisingly, is HIV-positive, and trumpeted the legislation as a way of “reducing stigma” around those who have this condition.

I’m not precisely sure how hiding this very important information from a sexual partner who might contract that condition as a result of this omission does anything to “reduce stigma”—it seems to me that it might do precisely the opposite. But Wiener’s crude little crusade is nothing compared to how ludicrous New Zealand’s attempt to reduce the stigma round HIV is. According to The Telegraph, the Kiwis have “launched the world’s first HIV positive sperm bank in an effort to reduce the stigma round the virus.”

The description of this bizarre new endeavour is — irony alert — sure to have ladies lining up for blocks to take this totally unnecessary risk that does absolutely no good to anybody whatsoever: “Online sperm bank ‘Sperm Positive’ has begun with three HIV positive male donors, who all have an undetectable viral load, meaning the virus cannot be passed on even through unprotected sex. While the amount of the virus in their blood is so low it cannot be detected by standard methods, it does not mean the HIV has been completely cured by the treatment.”

I’m sure you’ll agree  — irony alert — that the above description sounds very reassuring.

The cold and brutal reproductive technology industry has already spawned the strange scenario of women poring over profiles as they attempt to select which sperm donor they want to use to conceive their (generally) fatherless children, determined to pick the perfect genetic specimen as their stud. But some activists apparently feel that those same women would be perfectly willing to select sperm from HIV-positive donors just to help “reduce the stigma” of—what, exactly? A condition that can, potentially, lead to the dreaded and fatal AIDS?

Unsurprisingly, Sperm Positive donor Damien Rule-Neal told The Telegraph that he was pleased to participate as “there is a lack of education and understanding in New Zealand about what an undetectable status meant, and that he had experienced stigma about living with HIV in his personal life and his professional life.” In fact, he says, he knows many people with HIV who went on to have children, and The Telegraph noted that “HIV-positive men can father children with minimal risk of transmission to their partner or their baby as long as they have up-to-date advice, support, and HIV medications, even if their virus is detectable.”

And so now there are apparently some people who genuinely thought it was a good idea to start a sperm bank where women who are on the hunt for the seed of HIV-positive men can finally have all their dreams come true.

Most people, I suspect, will read the news of this new endeavour and roll their eyes or shake their heads. Willingly placing other people at risk of becoming HIV-positive in order to “reduce stigma,” even where there is “minimal risk,” is immoral and unconscionable.

But if you listen to Wiener and Rule-Neal, other people—be it partners or in this case, children—must be willing to run a potentially deadly risk in order to “reduce stigma” for others.

The very suggestion of it will probably do precisely the opposite.

US fertility rate hits record low after fourth consecutive annual decline

Calvin Freiburger

November 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Fertility rates in the United States have been declining for years, and reached a record low in 2018, according to government statistics released Wednesday.

The National Center for Health Statistics announced that 2018 saw 59.1 births for every 1,000 American women of childbearing age, the New York Times reports, a drop of approximately 15% since 2007.

Birth rates are tied to a number of economic factors, including a country’s ability to replace retiring or dying workers and the size of a future tax base to fund government programs. Rates tend to drop with economic downturns and rise with growth, but the latter hasn’t been the case for the latest U.S. numbers.

That suggests that shifting cultural values play a bigger role than fiscal circumstances, fueled in part by the ubiquity of contraception and the idea that population reduction is necessary to combat climate change.

“It’s clear that the traditional age-fertility pattern that held for Baby Boomers and Gen X women is shifting,” Brookings Institution senior demographer William Frey told the Times, pointing to evidence that millennial women are waiting until later in life to marry and have children, particularly after obtaining college degrees and finding career success.

“Is it a permanent shift? We just don’t know yet,” said Johns Hopkins University demographer Professor Alison Gemmill. If so, there “might be implications for society at large, say for funding Social Security — but I don’t think we are there yet.”

Others argue the evidence already shows America is in a precarious situation.

The annual rate of births per woman, which for 2018 was 59.1/1000, is known as the general fertility rate. A different metric, the total fertility rate, measures the likely number of children the average woman will have during her lifetime, if current fertility patterns hold.

“For 2018 the [total fertility rate, the number of children an average woman will have] stood at 1.73, according to a Pew study released in May,” Zachary Evans writes at National Review. “This means that women are having fewer than two children on average, below replacement level for the general population.”

“If birth rates continue to decline, and immigration drops off, the impact on the U.S. economy could be significant,” the Population Research Institute warns. “Economists estimate that as much as one third of economic growth is attributable to workers being added to the labor force every year. Low birth rates correspond to aging population. The U.S. is facing a substantial increase in its dependency ratio as the Baby Boomers retire, and working-age adults must replace the productivity thus lost and pay for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

67% of Babies With Down Syndrome Die in Abortions. This Must End

SARA HART WEIR

While countries like Iceland have grossly celebrated the eradication of individuals with Down syndrome from their society (eugenics as its worst) – we are teaming up to send a new message to our country’s leaders, employers, educators, healthcare providers, future parents and most importantly, individuals with Down syndrome – life for people with Down syndrome matters.

Our life’s passion and work, in different corners of our great country, brought us together with this common moral – “pro-life for all of life.” For the two of us, a future that doesn’t include people with Down syndrome is very personal (Chloe is a self-advocate from Pennsylvania who is one of the fiercest advocates on the planet and Weir is the former President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society and a candidate for U.S. Congress).

Today, we are calling on all Members of Congress, regardless of party, to put your differences aside and help us ensure that our society embraces diversity, embraces differing abilities and, most importantly, stands for life, from the very beginning to natural death, by supporting a new bill, the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, which places a federal ban on the performance of an abortion because an unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.

There continues to be a widespread increase in the Down syndrome prenatal screening tests in the United States (and across the world) which is leading to a decrease in the number of babies with Down syndrome. And while these screening tests (called noninvasive prenatal screening tests (NIPT)) are intended to only screen for Down syndrome (not diagnose), the pressure to not seek further testing, and terminate a pregnancy is real. For instance, the most recent stats available to the public estimate that 67% of babies with Down syndrome are terminated in the Unites States, 77% in France, 98% in Denmark and 100% in Iceland.

Chloe Kondrich, who happens to have Down syndrome, is from Pennsylvania and has fought to pass her own bill “Chloe’s Law” which requires support and educational materials to be provided for families after a diagnosis of Down syndrome – a model law that is working itself through state legislatures around the country. Chloe has met the President and Vice President and appeared twice at the United Nations in NYC.

Chloe and her father Kurt speak at events and venues across the country to end this prenatal eugenic movement against Down syndrome, and Weir is setting her sights, with Chloe’s support, on taking their collective message to the United States Congress by representing her home district in Kansas to continue to give a voice to the voiceless. Kansas also happens to be a battle ground state for the pro-life movement, as we seek to advance an amendment next year to reverse the State of Kansas’ recent court decision that found the right to an abortion in the Kansas Constitution. Weir and the Constitutional amendment will find themselves on the same ballot in 2020.

For the two of us, as women, this possibility that our society won’t include people with Down syndrome is unacceptable. We are speaking up and speaking out to help influence generations of women and families that people with Down syndrome matter – and will continue to advocate at the federal and state levels to “Embrace, and not erase” our community. We hope you join us!

LifeNews Note: Sara Hart Weir, (38) a pro-life Republican US Congressional Candidate in Kansas’ Third District, most recently served as the President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, inspired by her best friend, Kasey, of over 20 years who happens to have Down syndrome, is hoping to continue her life’s work by giving a voice to the voiceless in Congress.

Planned Parenthood sued by unattended woman who fell off table, broke neck after IUD insertion

CHICAGO, Illinois, November 20, 2019 (Operation Rescue) — According to documents and a 911 recording obtained by the Pro-Life Action League, a previously unknown medical emergency at the Near North Planned Parenthood in Chicago, Illinois, has resulted in a medical malpractice case filed by a woman who fell and broke her neck after a medical procedure.

On May 2, 2019, Morgan Castro sued Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, abortionist Amy Whitaker, and other clinic employees for damages in excess of $50,000 due to serious injuries she suffered during an appointment for insertion of intrauterine contraception (IUC).

Castro reported to the Near North Planned Parenthood on May 24, 2018, for the IUC procedure. Castro’s complaint stated that she was informed by Planned Parenthood workers that after the procedure, she might become dizzy or experience cramping. Castro did in fact become dizzy and informed a Planned Parenthood worker.

Castro was alone and unmonitored when she lost consciousness and fell off a table. A Planned Parenthood employee later discovered her on the floor and called for an ambulance.

Once at Presence St. Joseph’s Hospital, an MRI revealed fractures to two vertebrae in Castro’s neck. Due to her severe injuries, she was transferred to Presence Resurrection Hospital where she was fitted with a Halo brace to stabilize her neck.

Planned Parenthood has been accused of negligence for failing to monitor Castro, failing to recognize and treat her dizziness, and failing to prevent her from falling off the table.

Operation Rescue has documented 19 medical emergencies at the Near North Planned Parenthood, with the help of the Pro-Life Action League.

“Planned Parenthood loves to tell everyone what great healthcare they provide and how caring they are — ‘no matter what.’ But that is just public relations spin. In truth, they should change their motto to ‘Negligence — no matter what,'” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “If the general public knew all we have learned about Planned Parenthood through our research monitoring life-threatening abortion facility medical emergencies, failed inspection reports, and heartbreaking malpractice/wrongful death suits, Planned Parenthood would have no customers left!”

Surviving a Toxic Reaction to the Copper IUD

by Cheyenne Walters

Surviving a Toxic Reaction to the Copper IUD

Editor’s note: More than once at Natural Womanhood, we have received emails from parents whose daughters have tragically died as a result of her birth control. A few months ago, we received a different kind of note—one from a woman who had a close call and was able to share her story with us. Cheyenne, whose name has been changed, found Natural Womanhood in a search for help when experiencing birth control side effects; it’s that Google search that led to a Natural Womanhood article on copper IUDs, which she credits with saving her life.Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, copper Iud side efects, copper IUD toxicity, copper toxicity, birth control side effects, IUD side effects, copper IUD side effects, birth control side effects, birth control answers, natural birth control, birth control education, learn about birth control side effects, “Thank you so much for your article. I had a close encounter with death just this afternoon.” Cheyenne then shared her story. She ended her note with these words: “Thank you for your website, which saved my life. I’m forever grateful.”

Here is Cheyenne’s story.

All I can say in a nutshell about life: You do not know what life is until death comes knocking at your door.

Back in my home country of Malaysia, I used to work in the TV and advertising industry. But now living in South Africa I cannot work because of my Visa, even though I am married to a South African. I travel to Malaysia every two years to renew my Visa.

I have been married for three years. Because of our financial situation, it’s not the right time for us to have kids. So I am a full-time homemaker. I manage my vegetable garden and I am a mommy to my fur-baby, my dog.

When it comes to family planning, I cannot use the Pill; I can’t use the implant; nothing works. The Pill gives me spotting every day, and that’s terrible. I’ve tried everything. Once a doctor recommended a hysterectomy to me due to my endometriosis. Everything here is “Can’t deal with it? Remove it.”

I decided to get the IUD on my next trip to Malaysia because it is more affordable there.

I thought this would be like any other procedure because I had used the IUD before. Due to my endometriosis, my threshold of pain is extremely high so the initial pain is nothing to me. It was about 4:30 p.m. and I was walking to a mall 20-30 minutes away. While walking I noticed that I was experiencing something that was not quite right—light-headed, nauseous, and imbalanced. Of course, I had cramps, and that could be from the procedure, but other symptoms were not quite right.

I thought I probably was just tired and needed to rest, so I went into town and dinner with a friend. I left the restaurant with a huge migraine, which I have never had in my life. It was mostly on the right side of my face, around my eyes, but my whole face was painful. I didn’t know what was going on. The cramping pain was elevated. Back home after dinner, I vomited. Then I came down with a fever.

Still, I thought I could sleep it off. I told my husband by phone, took two panadol (Acetaminophen), and dozed off.

Dizziness and the IUD

When I woke up in the morning, within a half-hour all the symptoms had come back in double force. I was extremely imbalanced, and now dizzy, light-headed, and breathless.

I went to eat breakfast with my friend, and I told her I wasn’t feeling well. I needed to run an errand in town but was really, really feeling off. The symptoms started to escalate. I started having palpitations, shortness of breath, brain fogginess, extreme hunger, nauseousness, and slight weakness in my legs.

While waiting for my friend in the car, I did a quick research on copper toxicity and it was only Natural Womanhood’s website that described my symptoms.

My friend took me straight to the gynecologist. She was busy with patients, so the nurses said the doctor would call me back.

My friend took me back home, and that’s when things got scarier. When I was going up the stairs, I almost blacked out; I grabbed hold of the railing and my body felt intoxicated. I had to use all my strength to hold onto the railing and get up the stairs to my water bottle.

That’s when I knew something wasn’t right, and it was the IUD. The doctor called me back, and my friend rushed me there. I struggled to walk because my legs were extremely weak. I noted that I had lost my balance. And while I was explaining the symptoms to the doctor, I noted that I started slurring and was leaning to one side.

My doctor agreed with my assessment that we should remove the IUD. By the time she removed it and I went back home, my symptoms were reduced by 80 percent. By the next morning, I was 100 percent better.

Dangerous but hidden birth control symptoms

If I had never made it—if I collapsed in the house, no one would have known the cause, what had happened, even if an ambulance came. Who would ever figure out it would be an IUD?

When I Googled “copper toxicity,” I found a generalized article that did not actually state my symptoms. It suggested that what I was experiencing can’t happen, or that it always differs for individuals. But after I did more research on it, I came across the same symptoms I was experiencing, in a Natural Womanhood article.

I believe it was God who sent me to the Natural Womanhood article. When I Googled copper toxicity, it came up on the first page, in the third spot. In the article, I read further and it made a lot of sense on how the biochemistry, and the IUD, and your body all work together. I really respect the author for writing it because I really want to know the details of why I’m experiencing what I’m experiencing. It was written with a lot of heart and patience and understanding and time.

I want to pass my thanks to the author for writing it and to Natural Womanhood for publishing it. I am happy to share my story in hopes it will save someone else’s life.

Use and Abuse: The Exploitative Reality of Surrogacy and Egg Donation

Over the last two years, I noticed my Facebook and Instagram feeds filling with ads urging me to donate my eggs or to become a surrogate. At first I laughed it off. But the more ads I saw, the more concerned and uncomfortable I felt. So, I started a small experiment. Every time I saw an ad from a fertility company, I took a screenshot.

Here are just some of the results, from over thirty unique ads replayed numerous times:

 

Egg 2

Egg 3

Egg 4

Egg 5

It troubled me that women were portrayed as Easter Bunnies; that their ovaries were compared to egg cartons; and that the donors, especially Asian women, were fetishized as exotic, smart, sexy finds, ideal for making a baby. These fertility companies ask young women like me to make a choice―somehow simultaneously altruistic and lucrative―either to sell their eggs for up to $10,000 per ovulatory cycle, or to serve as a surrogate for a couple who just wants a child of their own (for upwards of $75,000). For a college student on a tight budget, or a low-income mother trying to make ends meet, that’s a tempting offer. And I fear that the monetary compensation obfuscates the fact that this system inherently exploits women’s and children’s bodies.

It troubled me that women were portrayed as Easter Bunnies; that their ovaries were compared to egg cartons; and that the donors, especially Asian women, were fetishized as exotic, smart, sexy finds, ideal for making a baby.

A Dangerous Industry

The fertility industry targets and exploits low-income populations: wealthy companies and the powerful elite offer to pay for eggs and wombs from poor women. India, Nepal, and Thailand have recently banned commercial surrogacy because of its predatory nature. Prior to the bans, many women signed contracts with foreigners without knowing the consequences―like facing dangerous Caesarean sections—and with no guarantee of receiving postpartum care.

The fertility industry targets and exploits low-income populations: wealthy companies and the powerful elite offer to pay for eggs and wombs from poor women.

In Jennifer Lahl’s documentary Eggsploitation, women recount the devastating medical problems that they experienced as a result of donating their eggs, including Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome; puncture, torsion, or loss of their ovaries; infertility; strokes; and reproductive cancers.

Surrogacy can have even worse consequences. Some surrogates have died in childbirth or suffered severe complications from pregnancy. Women that participated in both egg donation and surrogacy told Jennifer how no one informed them of the risks. When many women faced catastrophic health issues, their doctors ignored them, and fertility agencies did nothing to cover the costs of their massive medical bills. Because of their desire to help others, many of these women lost the ability to have their own children, and paid far more than they had bargained.

The European Union has also banned commercial surrogacy, declaring the practice “reproductive exploitation,” which “undermines the human dignity of the woman, since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity.” However, in the United States, the practice continues, because there the desires of wealthy and privileged adults currently trump the rights of poor women and vulnerable children.

The truth is that no one has the right to a child, and that the bodies of women and children should never be treated as commodities.

Who’s the Parent?

In even the most routine of surrogate pregnancies or donor conceptions, a child can have as many as six parents: the genetic father, the genetic mother, the surrogate mother, her spouse, and the intended parents.

Unfortunately, the state views parents as legally interchangeable. In California, a new law went into effect last year that requires birth certificates to list only the intended parents as the “natural parents.” Biological and surrogate parents will no longer be listed. The stamp of parentage is now arbitrarily decided by a contract that names each individual as parent, partner, surrogate, or donor.

Consider the case of Melissa Cook, a surrogate mother of triplets from Orange County. The intended father, Shannon Moore, a deaf single man living in his parents’ basement, urged Melissa to abort one of the triplets since he couldn’t pay the extra cost of another baby. Melissa refused and did not charge Shannon any money after the births of the children. She only wanted these babies to have a good, loving home.

Months after the triplets’ placement with Shannon, Melissa was horrified to learn that the intended father had a history of killing pets, lives with unstable family members, left the infants alone for hours, forced them to eat off the dirty floor of the basement, and changed their diapers so infrequently that the baby boys suffered severe rashes and had to be taken to the hospital. Shannon’s sister even contacted social workers begging them to take the triplets, saying that her brother was “unable to care for the children.” Heartbroken, Melissa sued for custody to protect the boys from abuse and neglect. Because surrogates are considered legal strangers to the children they carry, her request was denied. To this day, Shannon retains exclusive custody of the triplets as both their legal and “natural” parent.

The Rights of the Child

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child has the right “to know and be cared for by his or her parents,” to “preserve his or her identity,” including “family relations,” and not to be separated from parents against his will. In case a separation becomes necessary, the child has the right to “maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis.”

Americans are generally very aware that adopted children suffer from being separated from their natural parents. For proper psychosocial development, children need to form attachments with their biological parents, siblings, and extended family. They need to know their heritage and identity. Adoptive families and agencies show immense sensitivity to adopted children’s needs and work hard to remedy the trauma of adoption. Many of them practice open adoption, preserve records, identify the child’s cultural roots, and incorporate traditions from the child’s birth culture into family life. And yet, at the same time, our society sanctions the creation of children for the express purpose of separating them from their biological family. The desire to create a family and to love a child is good and noble. But it is neither noble nor loving to create a child so that it can suffer separation and loss.

Gestational surrogates also bond with the children whom they carry throughout the nine months of pregnancy, as they feed, shelter, nurture, love, and protect them. But the attachment is severed at birth. Research shows that children who are carried by gestational surrogates are more likely than the general population to experience depression. The surrogate mothers also face severe emotional experiences. This correlation suggests that, even though the child and mother lack biological ties to each other, they still feel a loss when they are separated. Thus society creates these children in order to make them suffer twice over: from being separated not only from their genetic parents but also from the women who carry them.

Lost Identity

The first generations of children who were conceived by donors and borne by surrogates are now adults, and many are searching for themselves. Message boards like the Donor Sibling Registry allow young people to find half-siblings and relatives whom they never knew to exist. The community that these platforms help to create is growing, but not all the members’ stories end happily. One young woman, Kathleen LaBounty from Texas, discovered that she had been conceived by a sperm donor who was a Texas A&M medical student. She contacted every man who had attended the school during the years prior to her conception. Although she heard from hundreds of men, she still did not discover her father. In an open letter, Kathleen describes feeling “empty and extremely cheated out of important aspects of life.” She desperately wants to find out if her “interests, appearance, life views, and personality” match those of her biological father.

Scores more children have written on the site Them Before Us to share their stories of longing and loss. One daughter reflected soberly about her traditional surrogate mother (that is, who conceived the child by her own ovum and artificial insemination): “When you know that a huge part of the reason that you came into the world is due solely to a paycheck, and that after [the payment is received] you are disposable, given away and never thought of again, it impacts how you view yourself.” Just as surrogates are treated as wombs for rent, surrogacy turns children into a commodity to be bought and sold.

Women and Children Should Not Be for Sale

Surrogacy and donor-conception are frequently in the news as more and more celebrities pay for these services. Missing from the Instagram posts and tabloids are the stories of the other family members that are affected by these actions. What do donor-conceived and surrogate-born children think of their conception and family history? What about the surrogate mothers and donor parents? Lost in the legal and financial drama are the rights of children to know their biological parents and the rights of women to receive full information about the risks of these procedures.

The truth is that no one has the right to a child and that the bodies of women and children should never be treated as commodities. Just because we can do something does not make it right. And in the case of reproductive technology, the least society can do is to protect the right of children to know who they are and to protect the right of women not to be exploited.

Making Babies: A Very Different Look at Natural Family Planning

H. W. CROCKER III

Natural family planning (NFP) needs a slogan, because as a “product” — if I might adopt business-speak — it’s not selling too well. According to some surveys, about 90 percent of professed Catholics reject the Church’s teaching on birth control. Even among priests, fewer than one in three considers artificial contraception to be “always” sinful.

So let me propose a new rallying cry: “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!”
You think I jest.
The case for NFP should, by rights, be the case for more babies. To have them is good. Not to have them is to be deprived. Every wife deserves to be a mother, and every mother’s son deserves a brother and a sister. And since a cat-o’-nine-tails has nine tails, surely having nine children is the proper way to scourge selfishness right out of one’s family.
As a slogan, “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!” has many strong arguments in its favor. First, it is true. NFP proponents tout its 99 percent effectiveness rate, but they neglect to mention that this is true only if the husband is in the Navy and assigned to extended, uninterrupted sea duty of three-year tours or longer. Otherwise, for most Catholics I know, NFP means a baby every two years or so, though the rate can slow with age, as the couples learn a proper respect — that is, fear — for each other and are too tired in any event for what Catholics call “the conjugal act.”
Now I know there will be inevitable protests and testimonials by those who swear by NFP. And who am I to say that my own experience is not colored by the fact that I am excessively virile? Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that this is the case.
But another reason for NFP’s allegedly high success rate is that couples who use it are prepared to welcome children and so don’t blame NFP for unexpected pregnancies. Four of my own five children came the NFP way — that is, totally unexpectedly — and that’s a good thing, because without them bouncing in as surprises, excuses to delay (the sort of excuses one might hear from a recruit in parachute training) might have gone on for a very long time. As it is, in a mere matter of ten years, my wife and I assembled a complete basketball team. And if menopause doesn’t strike my wife soon, who knows what sort of team we might assemble.
Rather than bite one’s nails to the quick at the prospect of baby number ten — which, if one marries in one’s early 20s and practices NFP, is a definite possibility — we should encourage the attitude of the more the merrier, which is a far more attractive case to make than all the goo-goo language about how NFP helps couples “communicate” and about the joy of charting temperatures and discharges and plotting one’s conjugal acts as a captain might chart a course for his ship.
Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, the charts can be thrown away (what’s so “natural” about them?). And to hell with improving “communication” as a dogmatic defense of NFP. For men, the whole point of marriage is to avoid communicating; all that dating conversation stuff can finally be foregone. Married communication, as successful husbands know, is best limited to grunts and hand signals — one upraised finger meaning, “I need a beer”; two upraised fingers meaning, “You need to change the brat’s diapers”; three upraised fingers meaning, “Honey, why don’t you mow the lawn while I watch football?,” and so on. No words are more doom-laden than a wife’s sitting down and saying, “Let’s talk.” Communication is, of course, the first step toward divorce.
Tom Hoopes pointed out in the November 2004 issue of crisis that there are no apparent data to support the widely touted statistic that only 2 percent of NFP couples divorce. If there is any validity to this number, I suspect it lies in the fact that NFP couples have no time to communicate. The husband has to hold down several jobs to pay the family’s bills, and a wife with little ones barely has time to shower, let alone talk to her husband, save to pass a pregnancy test result across the breakfast table through splodges of spilled porridge as she sighs, & 2000 #8220;Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
I grant you, there is one form of communication that NFP certainly does advance — it makes a public statement. Not so very long ago, I was invited to speak at a Confederate Memorial Service. There I was with my Robert E. Lee tie, my wife (a blond California beach babe) wearing a Confederate battle flag scarf, and the five little members of our own Critter Company lined up in a row. A friendly chap meandered over and told us, apropos of nothing, “My daughter’s a Catholic, too. Three kids.”
No need for a secret handshake. Kids tell the story.
As a slogan, “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!” puts the focus where it belongs — on babies — and away from a technique, a technique that wrongly strikes most lay Catholics as medieval. If only it were medieval, then it would be effective: a sturdy, padlocked, handsomely designed, pewter chastity belt.
Instead, NFP is shiny, modern, and scientific, as its advocates are always quick to emphasize. In his book The Truth of Catholicism, George Weigel approvingly quotes several paragraphs from a woman in love with NFP. She reminds us that:
Natural Family Planning is not the justly ridiculed rhythm method, which involves vaguely guessing when the woman expects to ovulate and abstaining for a few days around day fourteen of her cycle. The full method involves charting a woman’s waking temperatures, changes in cervical fluid, and the position of the cervix.
Nothing unnatural or artificial about that, is there? Her raptures climax with NFP apparently transformed into “Narcissism For Pleasure”:
But the turning point came for me as I watched, month after month, as my temperature rose and fell and my hormones marched in perfect harmony. I had no idea I was so beautiful. I found myself near tears one day looking at my chart and thinking, “Truly, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” My fertility is not a disease to be treated. It is a wonderful gift. I am a wonderful gift.
Er, if you say so, missy. If my wife talked like this, I’d have her committed. Happily, my wife, bless her heart, takes a more robust line: “Barefoot and pregnant is better than high-heeled and professional!” That’s the spirit!

There is no shortage of people wandering
 around these days thinking they are wonderful gifts. In fact, there are rather too many of them — and they shouldn’t be encouraged. What’s lacking are married couples who think that having a family big enough to fill up a minivan (or for the younger, stronger, and more ambitious, a small bus or modified hearse) is a wonderful gift.
A neighboring priest has noted how many young married women these days are without children but doting over dogs. One suspects that such women are less in need of NFP training than they are of a push into motherhood (and thereby full-fledged adulthood) with a reminder that children are what marriage and life are all about.
So rather than focusing on NFP, premarital preparation should go like this:
Father O’Counselor: “Now I want you two to understand that the primary and fundamental purpose of marriage is not companionship, not romantic love, not moonlit strolls on the beach, or any other balderdash but the begetting and raising of children — lots of ’em, and starting soon. The optimum number is enough so that you can lose a few at the grocery store and not notice. That’s giving without counting the cost, and at that point, you won’t care anyway. As a priest, my sacrifice for the good of the Church is celibacy. As a married couple, yours is to propagate children — who will incidentally annually propagate fierce storms of influenza in your house. If you haven’t already studied up on communicable diseases and basic first aid for children jumping off sofas, I’d do it now. But you will find children and their challenges to be the great tutor of not only the medical but the moral virtues.”
Potential Husband: “You mean, I’m screwed?”
Father O’Counselor: “In a manner of speaking, yes.”
Potential Husband: “Is it too late to enroll in the seminary?”
We can thus improve Catholic marriages and alleviate the priest shortage at the same time.
In fact, we forget how inspiring parents’ confessions are to priests:
Penitent: “Forgive me, Father, but I lost patience when my children used my wedding china as Frisbees, took my necklace and used it as a line and fishhook in the toilet, and took my toothpaste to give the cat a bath.”
Priest (sotto voce): “Thank God I’m celibate.”
Penitent: “What did you say, Father?”
Priest: “I mean to say, why not just laugh about it? These years will pass all too quickly. And when they’re over, you’ll know why you have gray hair and high blood pressure. Now, a Hail Mary and an Act of Contrition, if you please.”
So, let us step out boldly and fly the banner high. Say it proudly — “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!” But babies sure as heck do.

Beyond birth control: Natural family planning is a whole lifestyle worth embracing

 

Fertility awareness-based methods of natural family planning (FABMs) have been called “natural methods of birth control.” While modern, evidence-based methods of FABMs can be used to successfully avoid pregnancy, they are not just another form of contraception, albeit one without the increased depression riskblood clots, and other side effects. The use of FABMs involves a lifestyle that fundamentally contradicts two major premises of our contraceptive culture.

Women’s Bodies Aren’t the Problem

In the book, Women, Sex, & the Church, contributing writer Angela Franks observed that “the contraceptive mindset cannot avoid scapegoating women’s bodies as the cause of both personal and societal problems.” Franks cited birth control crusader and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s firm belief that tyranny, war, and famine were ultimately caused by women because of their failure to use birth control.

Franks notes that modern society tells modern women and girls that they “need to turn against their bodies in order to be liberated,” disavowing their fertility with pills, patches, shots, and so on. Anticipating that these cultural attitudes may not seem to impact the average individual woman, Franks queries,” how many women do you know who seem at home in their bodies?”

In contrast to the women’s-bodies-are-the-problem attitude, the “natural” in fertility awareness-based methods of natural family planning refers to what mirrors the dignity of the human person. Rather than reducing women to sex objects, FABMs view women’s fertility as an integral part of their whole persons. Furthermore, a woman’s fertility is a physical reflection of her innate and unique ability to nurture others, whether by physically bearing children or by emotionally nurturing others.

Children Aren’t the Problem

In the contraceptive mindset, an unplanned pregnancy is the ultimate “method failure.” Society seems to have forgotten that conceiving a baby from sex during the fertile part of the cycle is actually a sign of health. But because contraception promises baby-free sex without regard to the woman’s cycle, the logical implication is that babies are a problem to be avoided at all costs.

This mindset leads to an implicit “need” for abortion when contraception fails, as noted in the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey Supreme Court case ruling that the “Roe rule’s limitation on state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”

On the other hand, FABMs understand children to be human persons with worth and dignity. In fact, children invite their parents in a unique way to a new level of personal growth in selflessness. Women, Sex, and the Church contributor Jennifer Roback Morse wrote about the birth of her first child, “I experienced for the first time the genuine neediness of another person. I had to bend my schedule and my life to her, as did my husband. This newfound ability to give of ourselves, while often painfully won (colic and all), was the most important growth that we experienced in our lives. It was also the single best thing that ever happened to our marriage. We experienced what is true for every human being: self-gift, while difficult, makes us flourish.”

Rather than forcing the woman to bear the responsibility of pregnancy achievement or avoidance alone, FABMs involves a woman and her partner having a monthly conversation about their intention to avoid or achieve pregnancy and then working cooperatively with the woman’s cycle in light of their goal. When couples using FABMs do get pregnant, the understanding that parenthood is a shared responsibility is already in place. In this way, FABMs promote a positive environment for children to enter into.

Hormonal birth control can come at a terrible cost for teenage girls

 

A twist on the old joke, “a ___ walks into a bar” might be “a girl walks into an OB office” followed by the predictable punchline “and walks out with a prescription for birth control.” Hormonal birth control, whether via the Pill, the Patch, or other hormonal medications, is routinely prescribed to teenage girls for everything from acne to heavy bleeding to irregular periods to pregnancy prevention. No matter what’s wrong, birth control seems to be the answer. But is it? What’s the cost of putting young women still going through adolescence on hormones for potentially years on end?

Hormonal birth control is a Band-Aid

Everyone seems to know someone who went on the Pill for heavy bleeding as a teen, typically without much investigation into the cause. A 2015 bulletin by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called “Menstruation in Girls and Adolescents: Using the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Sign” showed a graphic of no less than 14 different issues, some very serious, that abnormally heavy bleeding could indicate. Birth control represents a band-aid for a symptom without addressing, let alone fixing, what’s wrong. In fact, hormonal birth control represents a band-aid approach in many cases, as it only takes away the symptoms of irregular periods or painful periods, etc.

Box 2

Source: ACOG.org

Lizzy, a 31 year old from Illinois, told Live Action News that she was placed on prescription pain medication as a teen for extremely painful periods, and then the Pill at age 21. Even though her pain persisted despite the medicine and the Pill, she was always told that “everything’s fine.” Only after she was married and unable to conceive did she learn that her infertility was due to Stage III endometriosis, a growth of uterine tissue outside the uterine cavity on other abdominal organs that can cause excruciating pain.

Hormonal Birth Control Creates New Problems

Just last month, CNN.com reported on a new study in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry that found an increase in crying, sleeping, feeling worthless, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms of depression amongst teens who went on birth control compared with non users. The connection between birth control use and depression is nothing new, and in fact a 2016 study from Denmark found that teen girls placed on hormonal patches, coils, and rings were at even higher risk for depression than those placed on the Pill. This latest research confirms that teenage girls are hardest hit by depressive symptoms amongst new birth control users, even when researchers controlled for other potentially confounding factors like ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Depression isn’t the only problem that the Pill and other methods of hormonal birth control can create. Both birth control pills and the Depo-Provera synthetic progesterone shot have been found to decrease bone density in teen girls and young women, a particularly concerning finding given that bone density growth should be most significant amongst this population. This can translate into higher osteoporosis risk later on in life.

Another major side effect of birth control use in teenagers is the increased risk of blood clots, which can be life-threatening and even fatal. Live Action News recently reported that an Alabama teen’s family was awarded $9 million after their daughter died due to a blood clot caused by her birth control. In that case, taking a thorough family medical history before giving the girl birth control could likely have saved her life, as her own mother had a history of blood clots. Live Action News also recently reported on a Tennessee girl who nearly died due to a blood clot in her lungs caused by her birth control. Yet another story from 2019 is of an Irish girl whose birth control caused a blood clot in her legs that broke off and traveled to her lung. She, too, almost died.

In 2013, Live Action News reprinted a three-part series on the dangers of hormonal birth control use by teenage girls, covering the potential risks of making the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B available in school vending machines, the risk of developing blood clots, increased rates of hard-to-treat triple negative breast cancer in younger and younger womenthe connection between steroid use and heart disease, and much more.

A Better Way

Live Action News has previously reported on the benefits of teaching teen girls to track their menstrual cycles. The 2015 ACOG bulletin mentioned above specifically addressed how the menstrual cycle can be a fifth vital sign in girls and adolescents. According to the bulletin, “Just as abnormal blood pressure, heart rate, or respiratory rate may be key to diagnosing potentially serious health conditions, identification of abnormal menstrual patterns in adolescence may improve early identification of potential health concerns for adulthood.” This is because the menstrual cycle is an indicator of overall health in the young woman’s body. Certain patterns in menstrual cycle charting can prompt trained clinicians to suspect hormonal abnormalities, which can have a whole host of effects on various body systems.

What’s more, as Leslie Carol Botha found out in the late 1980s, teaching girls to chart their cycle can truly be life-changing. Botha worked with young women in restorative care homes, whose typical profile included a history of sexual assault, running away from home while still a minor, drug and/or alcohol use, and jail time. She found, according to the Natural Womanhood article on her work, that “these young women hadn’t been equipped with an understanding of the hormonal shifts in their cycles and how these changes were driving their moods and behaviors.” Astonishingly, she found that of the girls who had gone to jail, some 90% of them had been in the premenstrual phase of their cycle at  the time of their criminal behavior. Within just three months of learning to chart their cyc