News & Commentary

Melinda Gates Is Wrong: Birth Control Isn’t Poverty Control

Mary FioRito

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/melinda-gates-is-wrong-birth-control-isnt-poverty-control

There is a very funny scene in the 1980 film Airplane! that speaks to the current assumptions about what the West thinks is best for developing nations.

The movie features a young couple, Ted and Ellen, who visit the fictitious “Malombo” tribe in Africa as Peace Corps volunteers.

Instead of focusing on practical solutions that might best help the tribe to which they are assigned, the couple spends time introducing Western solutions that, while well-meaning, completely overlook the real needs of the people. For example, Ellen hosts a Tupperware party for the women of the village to help them “stretch” their food dollars and to “keep hot dog buns fresh for up to a month.”

The cognitive dissonance in the scene is, of course, part of the humor, but it also draws a bead on the mixture of ignorance and arrogance that has defined much of what passes as Western “aid” to developing countries.

Like this idealistic young couple in Airplane! Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, seems to have her heart in the right place. She has a love for the poor and a genuine desire to relieve the suffering of others. She understands the influence that her position in society brings.

Unfortunately, Gates’ primary solution to the problems plaguing African and other developing countries is no better (and often a great deal worse) than Tupperware: Gates is strident in promoting widespread use of artificial contraceptives, as she argues in her new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.

Gates’ argument for contraception is experienced-based. She holds that contraception is the primary path for women to freedom and equality and cites her own success as a career woman “to work and have the time to take care of each” of her and Bill Gates’ three children, who are precisely spaced three years apart.

Moreover, she says that when it comes to contraception, “no woman I knew went without it.” If Western women are healthy, educated and powerful — a packet of adjectives she comes back to frequently — Gates reasons that such benefits are a result of unlimited access to contraception.

But Gates is a puzzle. She is passionate about contraception and yet she also professes to have a great love for her Catholic faith.

As she relates, she received a Catholic education through high school, attending the prestigious Ursuline Academy — a Catholic boarding school in Dallas — before attending Duke University. She also takes pride in noting that her parents attended a Marriage Encounter retreat (at her father’s insistence) and her mother not only “believes in the Church” but also “goes to Mass five times a week … reads, goes to silent retreats and explores spiritual ideas with passion.” Nevertheless, despite the great influence that she says the Church has had in her life, Gates has apparently never encountered a woman who in her married life has followed Church teaching on contraception.

It is telling that The Moment of Lift includes no references to the tremendous advances in non-contraceptive (and Church-approved) methods of achieving and avoiding pregnancy.

For instance, one wonders what Gates would make of technology like the natural fertility app developed by a Swedish nuclear physicist, or how she might consider the potential benefits to the poor provided by “CycleBeads,” a reproductive physiology-based method promoted by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. CycleBeads is well-known as a simple, low-cost, easy-to-teach and natural family planning method that has greatly benefited women in developing nations. The method — which relies on the woman’s natural fertility cycle — does not require women to walk miles and miles every few months to receive contraceptive “shots” or have their IUDs adjusted.

It is equally telling that, in a later chapter, Gates describes natural family planning in general as “the rhythm method,” even though neither teachers nor practitioners in the fertility-awareness-based field have used that term for more than 40 years.

Such misnomers, though, may not indicate Gates’ animus toward fertility-based-awareness methods, so much as her ignorance of such methods — either in how they work or how they can benefit women. Indeed, this can only be the case if she has surrounded herself, intentionally or otherwise, with peers who have only known and used artificial contraception.

Indeed, we might assume that Gates’ ignorance regarding fertility awareness extends even to the Church’s teaching on such matters. But her own words indicate rather a truculence to such teaching.

In her book, Gates points out that it is “hugely reassuring” to her “that a huge majority of Catholic women use contraceptives.” She also claims to have met with “high-ranking officials of the Church” to discuss her disagreements with the Church’s teaching on family-planning methods — although she doesn’t name the officials nor the topics covered. Instead, she simply notes that the Church officials shared “similar concerns” about the plight of the poor.

Gates does provide some horrifying stories about the ravages of poverty and its particular impact on women and girls. These stories include personal anecdotes and experiences shared with her by those who serve the poor in countries in Africa and Asia.

For example, she relates how young girls can be married off as early as age 11. She also points out the prevalence of female genital mutilation and sexual trafficking. In one poignant passage, Gates reports on children as young as 5 “baby-sitting” for tiny infants so that their mothers could go out and scrape together enough food for the day. She also tells about children looking through garbage dumps for food, children dying from diarrhea, mothers dying in childbirth and newborns dying because they don’t receive even basic postpartum care.

Likewise, Gates’ book is valuable for expressing concern — and outrage — at the substandard hospitals the poor must rely on and at the lack of educational opportunities for women. In her book, she also helps raise awareness about the need in these countries for neonatal care, preschool programs, healthy food initiatives and microloans to small family businesses.

However, as Nigerian-born pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha points out in her “Open Letter to Melinda Gates,” none of these problems are solved by contraception, and the millions of dollars spent on contraceptive pills, implants and devices imported to African nations and other developing countries by wealthy Western aid organizations would be better used to address the conditions that necessitate such aid in the first place.

Why is the bulk of Western financial aid, as Ekeocha notes, focused on ensuring “that the African woman is less fertile” — especially when most African cultures welcome and celebrate new life as a gift from God?

Ekeocha rightly notes that there are multiple risk factors associated with the use of hormonal contraceptives, as American women have long complained, while no similar side effects exist with the use of fertility-awareness methods.

As Ekeocha asks, does “a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot … call 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic? No, she dies.” Moreover, Gates does not even touch the issue of the failure rate of hormonal and injectable contraceptives, which Great Britain’s leading abortion service, BPAS, has admitted. Nor does Gates acknowledge the increased risk for HIV infection among African woman who use hormonal injections (which The New York Times admitted poses “an alarming quandary”).

In a news clip that went viral, Ekeocha instructed a BBC talk-show host on the real needs of African women, of the side effects of hormonal contraceptives that are not fully disclosed to them when promoted, and of the “ideological colonization” that contraceptive programs sponsored by the West represent.

Even if the poor do achieve a momentary “lift” from the widespread use of artificial contraceptives, as Melinda Gates contends, it is a lift that will likely have no lasting impact. You don’t eliminate poverty by eliminating the poor.

After using contraceptives, women may have fewer children, but they won’t necessarily have a new maternity hospital, or a new preschool, or successful crops, or educated daughters.

The Catholic Church has much wisdom and lived experience to share with Melinda Gates. Perhaps, with the help of testimony from Ekeocha and other women outside her peer group, she may still inquire into how the Church can help women around the world achieve a true moment of lift.

Mary FioRito is the Cardinal Francis George fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

Blood clots and birth control

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – When people get new prescriptions, they very often don’t look at the list of side effects. One woman in Seattle started taking the birth control shot, Depo-Provera not knowing all the side effects. She became one of the less-than-one-percent who developed life-changing, life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.

Marilyn Wightman thought losing weight would ease her sudden mysterious shortness of breath in 2009. It didn’t. Then, she fainted on the stairs.

“The first question my doctor asked was, ‘Are you taking Depo-Provera?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, that’s it,’” said Wightman.

He put her on blood thinners, but she was in and out of the hospital until last year when her doctors told her that without surgery, she had a ten percent chance of living five years.

Michael Mulligan, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery, UW Medicine shared, “In a very small fraction, however, patients develop a response to the clot, where the clot breaks down, but then you start to develop scar-like plugs that obstruct the vessels and make it harder and harder for the blood to be pumped through the lungs.”

In a six-hour procedure that left a scar, Dr. Mulligan removed 15 clots mixed with scar tissue from Marilyn’s lungs. First, he had to raise her oxygen level, lower her temperature and metabolism, stop her heart and drain her blood.

“You work very quickly to expediently tease out these clots that are multi-branched without puncturing the vessel, which is wafer thin,” continued Dr. Mulligan.

Marilyn says she wouldn’t have taken Depo-Provera if her doctor had told her about the blood clot risk.

“So, I’m telling my story because I want at least one woman to ask the question. When your doctor is trying to give you a new drug, ask the question. What are the side effects?” stated Wightman.

Dr. Mulligan says as long as Marilyn stays on her blood thinners, her clots should not return. It shouldn’t be long until she has her normal life back again.

 

Defending freedom of conscience on emergency contraception

https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/defending-freedom-of-conscience-on-emergency-contraception/22775

The UK’s biggest abortion provider, British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), has attacked pharmacists who do not sell the ‘morning after pill’ for conscience reasons.

After one incident where a pharmacist would not dispense emergency contraception to a woman for ‘personal’ reasons, BPAS condemned both the pharmacist and the conscience protections provided to pharmacists. A petition was also set up to prevent pharmacists from claiming freedom of conscience rights.

Under the current law, covered by guidance from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), pharmacists with a genuine conscientious objection to selling the pill can refer the customer to another pharmacist.

However, BPAS complained that it is ‘impossible to overstate the significance of even one pharmacist conscientiously objecting to selling the morning-after pill’.

Fortunately, the General Pharmaceutical Council, in this case, upheld their guidelines and the consequent media coverage has now died down, temporarily at least.

This may seem like a one-off minor incident, but it is an illustration of increasing pressures on freedom of conscience protections. It is often assumed that the role of the conscience in medicine is relevant only to a few specialised and limited areas such as contraception or abortion, but in fact, the concept of the conscience goes right to the heart of what it means to act in a moral way, to act with integrity.

If we do not stand by those who are under pressure, the problems will only get worse and will spread. A well-known quote often attributed to Burke, which may have actually come originally from JS Mill warns: “He should not be lulled to repose by the delusion that he does no harm who takes no part in public affairs. He should know that bad men need no better opportunity than when good men look on and do nothing.”

CMF has therefore written to the GPhC to ensure they are aware of our concerns and to thank them for holding to their guidance. The text of our letter is as follows, with their response after it:

‘I am writing to you following the recent news coverage of a Lloyds pharmacy worker who, according to news reports, conscientiously objected to selling the morning after pill and directed a customer to another pharmacy instead.

I note that a petition has since been set up to prevent pharmacists from claiming conscientious objection rights.

The Christian Medical Fellowship is the UK’s largest faith-based group of health professionals and we contributed with both written and oral evidence to your review of your Guidance on Religion, Personal Values and Beliefs. We publicly welcomed the new Guidance and the statement accompanying it, in which the Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council highlighted the positive contribution that pharmacists’ faith can make in their provision of care. We also welcomed the clear statement that: Pharmacy professionals have the right to practise in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs’.

We all aspire to person-centred care. In any care scenario, there are (at least) two parties – the carer and the one receiving care – each of whom has rights. The General Pharmaceutical Council guidance helpfully achieves a balance between the patient’s right to service access and the pharmacist’s right to freedom of conscience. 

Respect for the sincerely held religious and moral beliefs of employees is essential and we are concerned that some of the demands being made, based on this one recent case, would marginalise the beliefs, values and religion of pharmacists disproportionately and unnecessarily, and trivialise their right to freedom of conscience under the law. Despite widespread coverage of this case, we have yet to see evidence of recurring complaints under the present provisions. 

While we strongly support the right to freedom of conscience for pharmacists, we do also emphasise the importance of openness and sensitive communication with colleagues and employers; any refusal to supply should be made courteously and sensitively.

On behalf of CMF, I want to thank the Council for protecting the right of pharmacists to refuse to engage in certain procedures that violate their most profound moral convictions. 

I also encourage the Council to continue to make it clear, publicly, that all pharmacy professionals have the right to practise in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs.

Yours faithfully

Dr Mark Pickering
Chief Executive, CMF

In response, the GPhC replied with the following two sentences:

‘Our existing guidance ‘In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs’ (to which you refer) remains in place. We have no current plans to review it.

As you are aware, the guidance sits under our standards for pharmacy professionals and relates to standard 1, Pharmacy professionals must provide person-centred care.

The point here is simple but vital; if we care about liberty and personal integrity, we must make a reasoned defence of it in the public square, from the smallest incident to the biggest.

Philippa Taylor is Head of Public Policy at CMF. She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues. Republished from the CMF blog with permission.

No longer a death sentence: This hospital treats kids with Trisomy 18, and the results are amazing

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When parents are told that their preborn child has Trisomy 18, the diagnosis is often followed up with the words: “incompatible with life.” But as a team of doctors at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha is proving, children with the condition can live and thrive when doctors treat them as equal human beings.

“If you look at the old textbooks, and a lot of them are still being used, the outcome is death,” explained Dr. Meaghann Shaw Weaver, division chief of Palliative Care in an interview with Children’s. “It was one of the few diagnoses that was named lethal.”

Because it was considered “lethal” for so long and still is by many, most doctors automatically write-off preborn children with Trisomy 18 and consider them as good as dead, often advising parents to abort. For Meredith Willard, mom of one-year-old Rose, even meeting with the comfort care team to discuss her baby’s birth wasn’t allowed by the doctors in their home state of California.

Rose was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 12 weeks gestation. Trisomy 18 can cause congenital heart defects, physical and mental developmental delays, and feeding and breathing problems. Doctors said Rose wouldn’t survive. For choosing life for their daughter, Willard says they were called “cruel” and told they had to “let this child go.”

“I said, ‘There’s a heartbeat and she’s here, let’s let her be,’” explained Willard. “When I said I wasn’t going to terminate, there really was no more help for me there. I went weeks with no one.”

Finally, a doctor advised them that they should speak to a heart surgeon because he felt that their baby would live through pregnancy and birth, but would need heart surgery. 50 percent of children with the condition have a ventricular septal defect (VSD or hole in the heart) while the rest have defects that can be fixed with the right surgery. None of the heart surgeons in California would operate — strictly because Rose has Trisomy 18.

“You’re angry, but it fuels you,” said Willard. “You know that kids are treated. We just wanted that for our kid.”

That’s when they learned of Children’s Hospital in Omaha, 1,500 miles away, from a support group called SOFT – Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and Related Disorders. Doctors there agreed to operate on Rose. And while it was a big deal to the family, for Dr. James Hammel, division chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, it was just another day at work.

“If a family didn’t want surgery for an infant with VSD or tetralogy or even pulmonary atresia, we would take them to court, take the child out of the family and take care of them,” explained Dr. Hammel. Yet for children with Trisomy 18, it’s considered “cruel” to perform surgery despite the fact that without care they die, and with care they can live for much longer than originally thought. Seventy to 80 percent of babies with Trisomy 18 survive heart surgery, and 50 percent will still be alive 16 years later, according to Dr. Hammel. Others say the rate of survival is as high as 90 percent.

In the video below, Dr. Hammel gives a fascinating and instructive web lecture on heart surgeries for children with Trisomies 13 and 18:

 

“Most physicians view this as a hopeless diagnosis – but there is always hope,” he said. “Yes, these kids have functional limitations, but there is plenty of room to make their life better…. I’ve always said if I can improve a child’s chance of survival from five percent to 10 percent, I’m perfectly happy to take that on if that’s what the parents want to do.”

Thanks to the dedication of Dr. Hammel and his colleagues, families from across the country are self-referring to Children’s Hospital. The team at Children’s aims to treat the whole child and the whole family. They say that the medical treatments they provide for these children would be “absolutely obligatory for a child without trisomy” but other hospitals refuse to do them simply because of the trisomy diagnosis.

“Going to Omaha, we were treated the most normal you could be treated with such a medically fragile child,” said Williard. “It was like nothing fazed them, nothing scared them. They’re like, ‘No worries – we’ve got this, Mom. Go get a coffee.”

Rose was born with multiple heart defects and suffered from apnea, which is the cessation of breathing. After surgery, the apnea stopped.

“At the hospital we were at, they kept telling me, ‘She has Tri-18; her body is not meant to survive.’ I said, ‘It’s because of her heart.’ When Dr. Hammel repaired her heart, she never had one more episode of apnea. We flew home commerical with her on no oxygen… and I was told this child could never live outside the hospital.”

Bella Santorum, incompatible with life

Doctors said Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella, who has Trisomy 18, was incompatible with life. She is proving them wrong.

Rose still has health concerns. She uses a feeding tube to get proper nutrition, she takes two heart medications as well as medication to help stop seizures, and she sees multiple specialists. But her life with her parents and four older brothers is a happy one.

“I’m super excited to see what she can do and explore and experience,” said Willard. “I was told this kid wasn’t a survivor. I knew she was.”

Terra Spiehs-Garst, Nebraska’s state chairwoman for SOFT, has a now seven-year-old son named Emerson who has Trisomy 18. Spiehs-Garst and her husband Tyson Garst learned Emerson had Trisomy 18 when Terra was 17 weeks pregnant. Doctors advised abortion. The couple told Live Well Nebraska that they wanted Emerson to be in control. He had heart problems that were able to be controlled with medication; now, he no longer needs them. He had surgery on his jaw, which helped his breathing improve. He underwent treatment for kidney cancer at 15 months old and is still tumor-free. He uses a communication device to talk to his family, and he loves dancing and hugs from his three brothers.

Dr. Hammel notes that there are other hospitals in the United States that do provide care for children with Trisomy 18, but they aren’t the established multidisciplinary team that exists at Children’s. Thanks to social media, more and more families are learning about the program at Children’s and are able to properly care for their children with Trisomy 18. Dr. Hammel is happy to provide this crucial care to families.

“In the end,” he said, “we will be judged by how we treat the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Thanks to the doctors at Childen’s, vulnerable children with Trisomy 18 are being treated as equal and whole human beings worthy of life.

Why I Choose to Use a Fertility Awareness Method, Even Though I Have a Serious Reason to Avoid Pregnancy

by Allison Jung, PA

Why I Choose to Use a Fertility Awareness Method, Even Though I Have a Serious Reason to Avoid Pregnancy

As a physician assistant specializing in OB/GYN, I have prescribed birth control to everyone for everything . . . irregular cycles, painful periods, unusual bleeding, PMS, acne, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, perimenopause and, of course, to avoid pregnancy.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, menstrual health, menstrual cycle, infertility, fertility, birth control side effects, hormonal birth control, hormonal birth control side effects, natural birth control, the Pill,

It wasn’t until my own struggles with infertility that I began to research more about the consequences of using artificial hormones. Although I was taught in school that the birth control pill was a treatment for these disorders, I learned that artificial hormones are only FDA-approved to treat two things: to avoid pregnancy, and for hormonal acne. Other than that, the Pill only masks the symptoms of underlying disorders. Actually, for estrogen-dominant disorders like PCOS and endometriosis, the excess estrogens in the Pill can make these disorders worse!

After many years of my own struggle with infertility, I was diagnosed with atypical PCOS and realized that I had symptoms starting at 15 years old. Now, I know that if I had been treated for PCOS instead of being placed on the Pill to “regulate my periods,” I would not have had to struggle with infertility.

The Search

Fast-forward 8 years and 4 precious children later, I was diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition and was told it would be medically unwise to become pregnant again. I was given the choice of different forms of birth control, as well as permanent sterilization options. As a Physician Assistant, my medical knowledge instilled the fear of risks of surgery, as well as the risks and side effects of artificial hormones. I had just been through a very difficult 8 years of struggles with infertility and related health problems, and did not need to deal with any more problems. So began my search for a natural method of avoiding pregnancy.

The method I chose had to be very reliable in avoiding pregnancy and had to be fairly easy to learn as I now had four children under the age of 6 to take care of. I investigated the Sympto-Thermal methods, Marquette (using ovulation predictor kits), and the Creighton Model System. I chose the Creighton System due to the medical studies and statistics backing its accuracy, as well as the benefit of NaproTechnology, the branch of medicine which seeks to naturally cure underlying disorders causing the symptom of infertility. I learned that the Creighton Model System came with a 99.5% efficacy rate for perfect use and 98.6% typical-use effectiveness rate in avoiding pregnancy in one year. This is amazing, since other forms of birth control come with only a 97% use effectiveness, and they have the added risks and side effects that I was seeking to avoid.

After only 3 months of using this system, and working with my FertilityCare Practitioner (Creighton teacher), the specifics of my PCOS were revealed: I had estrogen dominance combined with low progesterone. Although all my previous bloodwork with fertility doctors appeared normal, my Creighton chart revealed a different story. I began seeing a NaproTechnology doctor and learned that I was also insulin resistant (my previous doctors had only tested my glucose for diabetes, and missed this very important diagnosis). After taking bio-identical progesterone, adding a few supplements, and drastically changing my diet, I started ovulating regularly, felt much better, and I developed a confidence in recognizing my fertile and infertile days shown within my Creighton chart.

“I felt normal for the first time in my life”

As it happens, the very simple methods of diagnosis provided by my Creighton cycle charting revealed not only the causes of my infertility, but also my life-long struggle with my weight and the causes of my mid-cycle anxiety and premenstrual depression (“mood swings”). With NaproTechnology, I was able to feel healthy and normal for the first time in my life!

Although I physically felt better, emotionally, I became angry . . . very angry! Why was I not taught this in medical school? Why didn’t my supervising physician and mentor have any options for women besides artificial hormones? Why did my “fertility doctors” not investigate further the causes of my infertility? Why, now that I am in my forties and unable to have more children, have I not heard about NaproTechnology sooner? This anger spurred me on to do something about it. I became trained both as a Creighton Model Practitioner (FCP) and a NaproTechnology Medical Consultant (NFPMC).

In my new role educating and assisting women with their cycle and hormonal health, I have seen numerous women who had painful periods and/ or ovulation, painful sex, heavy or long periods, were diagnosed with endometriosis and then put on the Pill to lessen their symptoms. Years later, in order to conceive a baby, they got off the Pill. Not only were their symptoms worse, but now they had infertility to deal with, too. They suffered from regret: if they had only used a Fertility Awareness-Based Method for avoiding pregnancy, and treated the endometriosis with supplements, diet changes, and/ or surgery early on, then they would not only be pain-free, but would have been able to start their families by now!

I have seen teenagers with symptoms of PCOS: irregular, long cycles, facial hair, acne, difficulty losing weight. The traditional approach of putting them on the Pill would add to their estrogen-dominance and, later in life, they may have insulin resistance or diabetes, obesity, depression, and/or infertility. However, when these girls start early-on charting their menstrual cycles with a Fertility Awareness-Based Method, learn about their bodies, diagnose underlying problems, and start with natural treatments and diet changes, their futures can be symptom-free!

A missed diagnosis

When women are given artificial hormones to treat PMS, a key underlying disorder is missed: low progesterone. We know that the vast majority of PMS is caused by low progesterone. When charting one’s menstrual cycle Fertility Awareness-Based Method, women see this diagnosis within their charting in the form of brown spotting prior to their periods starting, or brown spotting at the end of their periods. A short luteal phase may also be recognized. With NaproTechnology, the progesterone can be replaced, instantly eliminating the symptom of PMS. This has long-range benefits, as low progesterone is also linked to infertility and recurrent miscarriages. So, instead of masking the symptoms of low progesterone, women using natural methods of family planning can diagnose themselves, seek treatment, and prevent future miscarriages!

These are the most common disorders diagnosed and treated with Fertility Awareness-Based Methods and NaproTechnology, but there are many more. Using artificial hormones, whether to avoid pregnancy or to reduce unwanted symptoms, can not only delay diagnosis and treatment, but also add unnecessary risks. Artificial hormones have side effects such as headaches, weight gain, nausea, bloating, irregular spotting, decrease in libido, and are linked to blood clots, strokes, and even breast cancer.

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods have side effects, too: increased relationship bonding due to an increase in communication, a 50% decrease in divorce rate, as well as early detection of medical disorders. Some forms of FABMs are up to 99.5% accurate in avoiding pregnancy, equivalent or better than any form of artificial hormones and even sterilization—all without the side effects.

I truly wish I had known about natural family planning and NaproTechnology sooner, even before I was trying to achieve pregnancy. However, now that I am having to avoid further pregnancies for health reasons, I am so grateful to be able to reap the many benefits of using a Fertility Awareness-Based Method.

Posted by Allison Jung, PA Allison Jung, PA
Allison Jung is a Physician Assistant with more than 18 years of experience in OB/GYN and fertility. She is also a health educator, teaching the Creighton Models System and NaproTechnology for almost 4 years. Through her own story of PCOS and infertility, Allison found the validity in a holistic approach to healthcare—searching for the causes of symptoms, instead of the routine treatment of covering up symptoms with artificial hormones, painkillers, or anti-depressants. Allison loves working with women with symptoms of irregular cycles, painful periods or PMS who have been told that birth control is their only answer, and showing them not only the reasons behind their symptoms, but curing them often with natural means. Allison’s approach to women’s healthcare is one of hope and freedom.

Terrifying: Woman’s birth control implant migrated to her lung

 

A study published in the July 2019 edition of BMJ Case Reports details the case of a 31-year-old woman in Portugal whose birth control implant migrated from her arm to her lung. The implant’s migration was only discovered because the woman experienced abnormal vaginal bleeding for three months and was referred to a gynecologist.

Upon examination, the implant, originally placed in her upper arm, could not be found. Subsequent ultrasound revealed the implant had migrated to her chest. An X-ray and CT scan showed the implant was in the lower lobe of the left lung.

This alarming complication (which is not unique) resulted in surgery to extract the implant from the woman’s lung. After four days in the hospital, she was released, apparently without further complication.

The woman had been using the Implanon NXT implant for eight years and had two implants before the most recent one, one in 2010, another in 2013. The most recent, placed in 2017, is the one that migrated to her lung.

The Implanon NXT — and other contraceptive implants like it — is a small rod inserted under the skin of the upper arm. Once inserted, the implant gradually releases the hormone progestin to alter a woman’s cervical mucus to prevent conception.

The article in the BJM Case Reports notes that risk factors for migration include having the implant placed too deeply or participating in vigorous physical exercise… even when an implant is properly placed. Many women are never told of this rare but severe complication of implanted devices. For an implant in the arm, the device can migrate to the chest cavity where is can be difficult to locate. In fact, this happens often enough that the implant’s material was updated to be easier to locate on a diagnostic scan “if it ever moves from its original location.”

Thousands of women have also reported their IUDs becoming dislocated, some causing uterine perforations.

The risk of migration is alarming enough on its own, but hormonal contraception like this comes with a slew of other side effects and complications that are often not discussed. Physical and mental side effects can be devastating for women using hormonal contraceptives.

In the video below, one woman documents her “horror story” with getting the Nexplanon contraceptive implant in her arm, which actually ended up migrating and causing nerve damage. She says in the video that she will never get an implant again, and instead intends to use natural family planning. Below the video on YouTube are several comments from women who also had scary experiences with their implanted birth control:

 

There are alternatives to hormonal contraceptives, including modern natural family planning methods. Natural family planning (fertility awareness-based methods) is slowly gaining recognition as a viable and effective form of child-spacing that respects a woman’s body and does not undermine her physical and mental health.

Shock: In 3 months, no girls, 216 boys were born in this district of India

 

According to a horrifying report, not a single girl has been born in the last three months in the Uttarkashi district of India.

The discovery has launched an investigation into whether sex-selective abortion or female feticide is being practiced in the region, which has a population of over 300,000. The district magistrate Ashish Chauhan spoke to ANI saying: “We are monitoring these areas to find out what is affecting the ratio. A detailed survey and study will be conducted to identify the reason behind it.” Officials are also holding emergency meetings with local health care workers.

According to official data, 216 children were born in the district’s 132 villages in the last three months. None were female. The area has been marked as a “red zone,” meaning it will be scrutinized more closely and the government has asked health care workers to be on alert. In recent days, the government has attempted to prevent sex-selective abortions through its BBBP program, which among other things helps to educate on the importance of the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and promises girls in India a good education.

In a 2011 census report by the United Nation Population Fund, India’s CSR had declined from 927 to 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. Although abortion on the basis of sex is illegal in India, the practice is widespread based on cultural views of girls as potential liabilities, and boys as breadwinners and parental caretakers in old age.

Live Action News recently reported that 550,000 preborn baby girls are killed each year due to sex-selective abortion in India, with a total of 15.8 million girls lost to sex-selective abortion since 1990. India has also been found to be the “most dangerous country in the world for women” on account of its astronomical numbers of rape and sexual assault. Parents are also frequently pressured to pay dowries when daughters marry, even though the custom was abolished in 1961. Kalpana Thakur, a social worker from the region, pointed out that these alarming numbers show that the government isn’t doing enough.

“No girl child was born for three months in these villages,” said Thakur. “It cannot be just a coincidence. This clearly indicates female foeticide is taking place in the district. The government and the administration are not doing anything.”

 

While sex-selective abortion is more prominent in countries such as India and China, it is accepted here in the United States. Planned Parenthood has spoken out against proposed laws to ban sex-selective abortions and Live Action’s undercover investigation revealed that the abortion corporation has no problem aborting simply because the preborn child is a girl.

Birth control pills may make women less likely to remember negative information

By 

New research provides some preliminary evidence that hormonal contraceptives could influence how things are remembered. The study in Psychological Reports found that women taking birth control pills tended to recall less negative emotional information compared to women who were not taking them.

“I have previously conducted a number of studies on the effects of oral contraceptives on mood and have always been interested in this area of research,” said Kirsten Oinonen, an associate professor of psychology at Lakehead University and the corresponding author of the new study.

“I know many women who have reported experiencing emotional side effects from oral contraceptives and I think it is imperative that researchers continue to examine the effects of hormonal contraceptives on mood, cognition, and perception. It is critical that women are fully informed about these potential effects so that they can make informed decisions about birth control options.”

“I have a graduate student, Brandi Person, who was also extremely interested in exploring how oral contraceptives affect emotion and cognition. Given previous research suggesting that hormones can affect both mood and cognitive ability, we felt that looking at the effects of ‘the pill’ on emotional memory would be an important area to study,” Oinonen explained.

For their study, the researchers recruited 58 women who were using oral contraceptives, 40 women who were not using oral contraceptives, and 37 men.

The participants completed an Emotional Spatial Memory test, in which they viewed a variety of emotionally-charged and emotionally-neutral items that had been set up on a tray. Shortly after viewing the tray of items, the participants were asked to list as many items as they could remember and also to indicate where each item had been placed.

One week later, the participants completed the same tests of memory recall again.

The researchers found that oral contraceptives users tended to recall more positive items and fewer negative items than nonusers in the short-term recall test. In the long-term recall test, there was no significant difference between users and non-users.

“Hormones have the potential to influence emotions and cognitive ability. Thus, women should be alert to any such changes they notice in themselves when taking hormonal contraceptives,” Oinonen told PsyPost.

“The findings of our particular study suggest that women taking ‘the pill’ may experience a change in their memory for emotional information. In particular, the findings suggest that women taking the pill may show a memory bias in terms of being less likely to remember negative information than nonusers.”

“This could result in women taking the pill viewing situations, people, or objects as more positive than they might have if they were not taking the pill (i.e., because they are relatively more likely to remember the positive versus the negative information),” Oinonen said.

The researchers controlled for a number of variables that could impact mood and memory, including menstrual cycle phase. But like all research, the study includes some limitations.

“Any new research finding needs to be replicated before it can be accepted with confidence. That applies here as well. Thus, future studies need to replicate the findings with larger and more diverse populations,” Oinonen said.

“As we looked at memory for visual stimuli, future studies should examine if women also show a tendency to recall less negative verbal, olfactory, auditory, and kinesthetic stimuli. Brandi Person and I are examining some of these questions in her PhD dissertation. Of course, a future placebo-controlled trial to look at the effects of oral contraceptives on emotional memory would provide the strongest evidence to support these findings.”

The study, “Emotional Memory in Oral Contraceptive Users: Negative Stimuli Are More Forgettable“, was authored by Brandi Person and Kirsten A. Oinonen.

Birth rate drops to an all-time low in the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — According to the Centers for Disease Control, the fertility rate in the United States reached an historic low in 2018.

In a report issued Wednesday, the CDC confirmed provisional figures that were released in May that “the 2018 general fertility rate fell to another all-time low for the United States.”

The Atlanta-based government institution found that the fertility rate among women ages 15 to 44 dropped by two percent between 2017 and 2018. This represented a drop from 60.3 births per 1,000 for women ages 15-44 to 59.1 percent. In addition, the percentage of preterm and early-term births increased: For babies delivered at less than 39 weeks, the percentage increased from 9.93 percent in 2017 to 10.02 percent in 2018. Full-, late-, and post-term deliveries declined.

According to the CDC report:

  • The general fertility rate for the United States declined two percent in 2018 to 59.1 per 1,000 women ages 15-44 from 60.3 in 2017.
  • Fertility rates declined for the three largest race and Hispanic-origin groups from 2017 to 2018, down two percent for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women and three percent for Hispanic women.
  • In 2018, the fertility rate was highest for Hispanic women (65.9), followed by non-Hispanic black (62.0) and non-Hispanic white (56.3) women.

In May, provisional figures released by the National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC showed the total fertility rate, or average number of children born per mother, was 1.7, which is far below the demographic replacement rate of 2.1.

Also, statistics showed that in 2018 fewer than 3.8 million children were born in the United States. Despite a peak year in 2007, birth rates have fallen in all but one of the last 11 years.

The U.S. showed a continuing trend of diminished fertility among younger women during that period.

The average age of first-time mothers has risen by more than five years: in 1968, the average age was 21.4; today, it was registered as 26.8. In 2018, childbirth rates in the 20-24 age cohort dropped by four percent, and three percent among women ages 25-29. However, women in the 30-35 age cohort had a higher rate of births than those ages 25-29. Thus, this is the first time that women in their early 30s were leaders in birthing babies.

In February, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that women with four children or more will be exempt from paying income tax for life in an effort to encourage births. The Hungarian fertility rate is currently 1.45 children per woman.

The Lancet medical journal published a report in November 2018 that showed that almost half of the countries on earth do not exhibit sufficient birth rates to outdistance deaths. In South Korea, for example, there were seven births per 1,000 people in 2017, a number that has since fallen. In Spain, a report issued in Marchshowed evidence that the abortion rate is contributing to the nation’s birth dearth and its overall aging.

Experts have long warned about the economic and social costs of a declining birth rate. This has long been documented in Japan, which has a current birth rate of 1.43. Small families, contraception and abortion have led to an aging population. Fewer births means fewer workers to support the growing number of pensioners, for example. Experts contends that a birth dearth may curtail any country’s plans to sustain and increase social welfare programs that currently depend on population growth.

In Japan, official encouragement for mothers to be more open to childbirth has largely failed. Immigration has not met with much acceptance in Japan, either.

Toddler and soccer pro, both born without left forearm, bond in viral photo

July 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It’s already been dubbed “The Best Soccer Image of the Year,” and it has gone viral.

A toddler from Florida expressed sheer joy encountering his new friend who is just like him. The faces of 21-month-old Joseph Tidd and professional soccer player Carson Pickett — both born without a left forearm — register delight as they “fist bump” after Carson’s game.

 

Joseph’s mom, Colleen Tidd, snapped the photo, which quickly went viral on Instagram and has exploded all over all social media.

Young Joseph and 25-year-old Orlando Pride defender Carson Pickett first met last spring, according to a Today.com report. Pickett exclaimed to Joseph, “We have the same arm!”

The “instant bond we can’t begin to understand”

“Carson knelt down next to Joseph and showed him her arm,” Joseph’s dad, Miles Tidd, told TODAY Parents. “It was this instant bond we can’t begin to understand.”

The now viral picture of the two clearly displays their special bond.

Pickett, for her part, said the feeling was mutual.

“I know I might be seen as his role model, but he’s also mine,” Pickett told USA Today Sports. “It’s just a gift to feel so much emotion from a little boy who understands you in a way other people can’t.”

“Literally within five minutes of me meeting him, we had an instant bond,” said Pickett. “It’s interesting, though, because for a kid that young, I didn’t expect him to connect the way he did. Even though we both have the same arm (birth defect), it was amazing to me that it felt like he realized why we were bonded.”

“Honestly the best part of the photo is that it was so real and wasn’t planned,” said  Pickett. “It was the true pure reaction we both had.”

“Pictures mean a lot so hopefully when he gets older he can see that and feel even more of what it means,” continued Pickett. “When I was younger and I didn’t know how the world works, it was hard. My parents always tell me that God put me here for a reason. The biggest thing I’d want Joseph (and others) to know is that even if people see you as different, it’s what’s in your heart that counts.”

Joseph, still three months shy of his second birthday, may well end up following in Pickett’s footsteps.

“Carson believes she can do anything,” said his dad, Miles, “and that is the mindset we want Joseph to have as well.”

“Football, basketball, baseball, soccer, he does it all,” mom Colleen told TODAY Parents. “He maneuvers his arm a little bit differently, but he makes it work.”

New Research Claims Birth Control Should Be Prescribed in Bulk, Despite Health Risks

by Gabriella Patti

According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and published in USA Today, distributing 12-months of birth control pills at a time will reduce unintended pregnancies.

The study’s lead author has stated that the distribution of more birth control at one time will reduce the healthcare costs associated with pregnancy, making it economically beneficial.

However, there are serious concerns surrounding this potential plan. At this time, there are 17 states plus Washington D.C. that have laws that require insurers to provide 12-months worth of birth control pills at a time, however, most people have difficulty getting more than a 90 day supply at a time.

According to Cathryn Donaldson, communications director for American Health Insurance Plans, some insurance companies are reluctant to provide this 12-month supply because, as with any medication taken in the long term, birth control comes with risks.

“Side effects and improper use of prescription drugs can have a serious and potentially life-threatening impact on a patient, which is why it is recommended patients regularly consult their physician, pharmacist or other care provider,” wrote Donaldson. She also states that this 12-month supply could cause “waste, fraud, abuse and increased costs.”

There serious reasons to be concerned about how a 12-month prescription system could affect women. While this system may sound convenient, it doesn’t account for the long-term side effects of birth control that may go unaddressed in a woman who is only required to consult with her physician about her medication once a year.

Safer, More Effective Options

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), also known as “natural birth control” or natural family planning, allow women to manage their health without putting loosely regulated drugs (that come with many health risks and side effects) into their bodies. When taught by a certified FABM instructor, these methods of family planning are more effective than the birth control pill in preventing pregnancy. In addition, Fertility Awareness-Based Methods are economically feasible. It’s reassuring to know that methods like FABMs exist, which allow women to take their health into their own hands in an empowered and safe way.

A 12-month prescription of birth control may seem convenient, but it eliminates the need for frequent visits with a physician, which are necessary in order to reassess a woman’s health and address medical side effects. Considering how many women suffer painful and even life-threatening side effects of birth control, from depression to blood clots, women being prescribed birth control today deserve more medical care and attention, not less.

Strokes, cancer, and more: ‘Eggsploitation’ documents the plight of egg donors in an unregulated fertility industry

 

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Eggsploitation (2010, updated and expanded version released in 2013) is a documentary short about some of the unheard victims of the $6.5 billion per year infertility industry. It follows the stories of several women from a variety of demographic backgrounds who chose to become egg donors for the promised financial and altruistic benefits, yet suffered terrible consequences. Stroke, ovarian torsion, unexpected cancer, and ultimately damage to or loss of their own fertility are some of the painful prices these women paid, despite not being adequately counseled on serious risks ahead of the procedure.

Produced on a $25,000 budget, the award-winning 45-minute independent film Eggsploitation is the first in a series of Jennifer Lahl’s exposés on the shady business of breeding in the laboratory. These include Anonymous Father’s Day (2011), Breeders: A Subclass of Women? (2014), and Eggsploitation: Maggie’s Story (2015, also streaming on Amazon Prime).

As the stories in Eggsploitation reveal, the venture can be eerily reminiscent of human trafficking, with women treated as commodities rather than respected as autonomous beings in a reasonable economic exchange.

 

With offers as high as $100,000 floating in advertisements, young women (usually targeted for their physical beauty and academic success — one woman in Eggsploitation had to take an IQ test) are easily baited into signing up for the initial procedure. When their ovaries don’t release as many eggs as preferred in the first cycle, they feel pressured to continue the risky operation or settle for less money and possibly disappoint their recipients.

Lahl, R.N. and founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC), decided to create the documentary when she encountered many women hurt by the egg donating process. She takes a sympathetic approach to the subject, understanding the charitable intentions many young women have towards those who struggle to conceive. The ethics of egg donation, in vitro fertilization, and other infertility treatments are left to the viewers’ discernment. But when it comes to the ethics of treating patients, Eggsploitation makes it quite clear that there is a problem.

“If you are an organ donor and you donate your kidney, you will forever live in a database that will monitor you long term to find out how you do five, ten, twenty years later after you donate a kidney,” Lahl says in an interview with Women Now. “That’s not the case with egg donors,” whom she says are not even treated as patients because their importance becomes secondary to the woman pursuing a fertility remedy. “Because they’re not sick, we don’t even keep medical records on egg donors,” says Lahl.

“This whole industry of fertility medicine is relatively new,” Lahl, says in the aforementioned interview. “It’s only been around for about three decades, so we’re only now starting to see some of the negative longer term risks, and those are predominantly cancers.” These risks apply not only to women donating eggs, but to women who collect their own eggs for in vitro fertilization, and possibly to children conceived through these alternative methods.

The risks are due to tampering with the hormones that control a woman’s reproductive cycle. While a man normally produces millions of easily released sperm every day, a woman normally produces a single egg every month that is matured and released on a delicate hormonal schedule. Since this is commercially impractical, the egg donation procedure must hijack the menstrual cycle with hormonal injections that cause the woman to produce an abnormal amount of eggs (a range from 20 to 70) at once, which are then surgically removed.

British study published last year notes, “[a]ssisted reproduction cycles usually involve exposure to supraphysiological levels of oestradiol, exogenous gonadotropins, and multiple ovarian punctures, all potentially carcinogenic. Most concern surrounds the risks of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers after such exposures.”

 

Eggsploitation reports that the procedure begins by inducing temporary menopause in order to synch the egg donor’s cycle with that of the egg recipient. This is done by the woman self-injecting Lupron, a drug the FDA has not approved for fertility use. Next, the ovaries are prompted to super ovulate, which can lead to the dangerous ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). A final injection is given to release the mature eggs, which are afterward sucked out via a vaginal catheter under anesthesia.

Even though the featured women began experiencing extreme discomfort (the ovarian swelling alone is miserable) and some severe side effects, their symptoms were dismissed as “normal,” and their commitment to the donation kept them in denial.

But it’s not just the women who came forward in Eggsploitation who can testify to this. A quick Google search highlights a sisterhood of suffering egg donors. One Canadian blogger who documented her experience is disappointed in how the risks were downplayed at the outset, and cautions other women to do more thorough research.

“Are we fulfilling one woman’s dream at the expense of another woman’s health?” This is the question at the heart of Eggsploitation. While society may have grown past the ancient days of women using slaves as their surrogates, humanity’s baser instincts in the face of desperation to conceive have not necessarily become less barbaric.

How natural family planning helped the US women’s soccer team win the World Cup

 

Natural family planning, or NFP, is increasingly becoming an attractive option for women and couples alike as they rethink conventional contraceptives. Unlike birth control, NFP can be used to track a woman’s monthly cycle, not only avoid pregnancy, but to help couples get pregnant, and to help women better understand their own bodies. And one app that helps with this sort of tracking has been credited with helping the US Women’s National Team with the FIFA World Cup.

The women’s soccer team thrilled fans across the country as they not only became world champions, but also scored the most goals ever in a Women’s World Cup. According to the coaches, using NFP was crucial. “I feel like it’s one of many strategies that we deployed that helped us win,” Dawn Scott said in an interview with Good Morning America. “I feel like [the U.S. is] leading the way on this.” Scott, the high performance coach for both the USWNT and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), had been tracking her players’ cycles for years, but as the World Cup approached, she realized she needed a more advanced and individual approach.

“For a few players, I always noticed that just before they started their cycle, their recovery fatigue was increased and their sleep was less,” she said. “I was noticing it for three or four players and thought, ‘We’re six months out from the World Cup, how we can help that?’” So with the help of Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, a research scientist, the problem was solved, thanks to Fitr Woman, an app Bruinvels created that tailors workout schedules and nutrition advice based on their unique monthly cycle. Each player filled out an individual survey, explaining the timing of their cycles, the symptoms they felt, and how those symptoms impacted their playing. That information was used to keep the athletes in peak condition as they competed for almost two months for the World Cup.

FitrWoman app

“We could see what [menstrual cycle] phase a player was in and what some of their symptoms were,” Scott explained. “I would just text or say to a player, ‘Hey you’re in phase three and we know you get disrupted sleep, so make sure you do x, y and z.’”

This outlook was lauded by several medical professionals, who said it is long overdue for women who compete in sports. “We do know that there are parts of the cycle where women may have less ability to sleep and may have different eating habits,” Dr. Richard Beckerman, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., explained to ABC News. “But just as we find people are affected differently by different things, it can be very variable.”

ABC News chief medical correspondent and OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton agreed. “For anyone who understands the complexities of women’s health, the fact there can be fluctuations in physical or mental stamina, or changes in sleep or dietary behaviors corresponding to changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle come as no surprise,” she said. “The ability to individualize behaviors that have the potential to optimize athletic performance exists and absolutely should be considered when dealing with any athlete, male or female.”

She added, “The fact is, female athletes are biologically, hormonally and physically different, and the sooner that reality is embraced instead of resisted, the more potential exists for that athlete to optimize her training behaviors. An app that tracks the menstrual cycle absolutely has the potential to improve a female athlete’s behaviors.”

In Scott’s case, she wanted to go public to break the taboo surrounding menstruation. “For the 15-year-old girl who doesn’t have the support of a national team, I want to make it so she can talk about it with a female coach and a male coach,” Scott said. “We need to make people aware of it and not embarrassed by it. This is physiologically what female athletes deal with.”

While NFP has long been maligned, especially by the abortion industry, pro-lifers have been its strongest advocates over the past several decades, and it has only grown in popularity. The reality is, NFP is more effective than women are often led to believe. And though traditional birth control comes with serious side effects, which roughly half of women have “serious trouble” with, NFP has no side effects — and, as the USWNT shows, it can be used for more than just avoiding pregnancy.

Stars from the “Bachelor” franchise, as well as other celebrities, have likewise been increasingly open about using NFP apps that help them understand their own bodies, how they are affected by their cycle, and how it has helped them to both avoid and achieve pregnancy. It is this kind of information that empowers women, giving them the ability to see how their hormones and cycle affect them, as well as to take charge of their fertility without potentially using an abortifacient or feeling like they must subject themselves to unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects.

Empowering a woman begins with educating her about the amazing way her body and her fertility works.

St. John Paul II Was Right: The Relevance of the Theology of the Body

Solène Tadié

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/why-the-body-matters-a-key-to-a-sound-christian-anthropology-of-love-and-se?fbclid=IwAR2lvDV3t2Dlsj574Bx30woLCg4e_Xm4xFaNb5uOH9dkSFc0AuwI9Inggew

ROME — The anthropological vision of John Paul II on love, life and human sexuality, developed in his “theology of the body” (TOB) catechesis, has become a polestar for a whole generation. Gathering a series of 129 catechetical addresses pronounced during his Wednesday audiences in St. Peter Square from Sept. 5, 1979, to Nov. 28, 1984, the theology of the body remains a key element of John Paul’s thought and a major papal contribution to the Church’s teaching on human sexuality..

Although the Pope’s addresses remained relatively unknown until the 1990s, this crucial work is now widespread — and continues to spread — thanks to the commitment of individuals around the world who have dedicated their lives to teaching John Paul’s vision, notably through the organization of large conferences and the creation of institutes and associations.

One of these associations is the Dallas-based Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, known as TOBET, founded in 2001 by a group of educators and parents. TOBET’s aim is to “‘translate’ this philosophically dense, theological reflection so that families and people of all ages can access this life-affirming teaching.”

Its executive director, Monica Ashour, a national speaker and author, wrote a number of books designed to help people live according to the anthropology espoused by the theology of the body in a more concrete and authentic way, including through books for children entitled The Body Matters.

In May 2015, Ashour was a participant in an ad hoc committee for the Pontifical Council for the Family led by the council’s president at the time, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. Three years earlier, in November 2011, she attended the Theology of the Body International Symposium in Rome and presented a talk about how to teach teens the TOB.

The Register met her during her recent pilgrimage to the tomb of St. John Paul II in Rome.

For many years, you’ve been dedicating a significant part of your life to spreading St. John Paul’s TOB, through TOBET. Why are these teachings so important nowadays?

I think John Paul II saw the problem in our current culture. In the mid-fourth and early fifth century, St. Augustine sought to address the problem of what it means to be human; 800 years later, St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this question, as well; and 800 after Thomas, St. John Paul, in turn, sought to answer a similar question. St. John Paul saw that the body was not being seen properly in modern society. He describes our understanding of our bodies as “detachment.” We [as a modern society] are, John Paul II claims, detached from the truth of our own bodies. We don’t see them as a sacrament, as revealing something about God, about ourselves, about love. So John Paul II focuses on the body and its meaning, and I think this focus is perfectly fitting for this culture.

How did John Paul II develop these teachings from his own experiences?

Karol Wojtyla lived during World War II, during which, in [Nazi] concentration camps in Poland and neighboring countries, there would be experiments on people, especially on Jews, whose bodies were seen as objects of scientific study. And then with the sexual revolution — John Paul was a young priest back then — he saw people abusing the body as mere tools for pleasure. This is how he came to understand that the body matters.

In John Paul II’s TOB addresses, the importance of the body is underscored by the fact that the word “soul” appears 55 times, “spirit” 99 times and “body” 1,319 times.

But today, things are not much better than they were during John Paul II’s time. When we look around, we see so many tattoos on people, and there is rampant sexual promiscuity — all because we see the body in the wrong way. The sacred dimension of our body is so often lost.

This is what I think St. John Paul saw at the time. And he anticipated even transgenderism. In TOB, he says that, in today’s society, a person has difficulty in identifying with his or her own body. When he wrote that in the 1980s, he may have seen transgenderism as it was going to become many years later. Many at the time did not understand the meaning of being a “body-person,” a term coined by him. In this way, John Paul II doesn’t give us only a theology of love, of marriage, and of matrimony, but he also gives us the theology of the body.

You see a continuity of thought linking St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John Paul II. What are their distinctive features? 

Regarding the theology of the body, St. Augustine says that procreation and education of children is the purpose of conjugal and marital intercourse. Then, 800 years later, St. Thomas Aquinas further developed St. Augustine’s idea of the union of spouses as a secondary and subordinate end to procreation. And 800 years after Thomas, St. John Paul, agreeing with both Augustine and Thomas, further develops our understanding of the body’s nature by pointing out that the body speaks a natural language, a language of a free, full, faithful, fruitful person-to-person encounter.

In the theology of the body, John Paul II says to the husband and wife that their bodies speaks through the language of gift. He draws inspiration from Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 24, which says men and women “cannot fully find [themselves] except through a sincere gift of [themselves].” That is the meaning of life. In a similar way, Pope John Paul sees the meaning of life in Genesis 2:25 (“Adam and Eve were naked and did not feel ashamed”). Why? Because before the Fall, the human body revealed who we were as humans, and we knew our bodies were meant to be a gift. After the Fall, we lost sight of this sense of gift. So the gift — and recovering that sense of gift — itself is the meaning of life.

Even if I am single, I can give the gift of my body to others, although in a way quite different from how a married couple give their bodies to one another, of course. It is important to know that we all, married and single, speak the language of gift through our bodies — because we are gifts to each other. Right now, for example, my vocal cords are directed towards your eardrums. I am giving something to you, and you’re giving something back by receiving, by smiling at me, and together as we interact we are more than the sum of our parts.

God is love, so whenever all of us love together, we reveal God. And how can we express that love to one another? A primary and fundamental way of expressing this love is through our bodies. We are a composite body and soul. But I think John Paul moves away from the expression “body and soul” and just says that the body shows you that you have a soul, that you’re made for love and that finding that sense of love in our bodies and souls is the meaning of life.

A significant part of your work focuses on young people, to whom you dedicated a series of books. Why do you think it is important to reach young people with these teachings?

A few years ago, I received a phone call from Toronto, in Canada. I’ve been urged to teach TOB to children because, in a school there, the small children were told that their sexuality was fluid. “Close your eyes,” the teachers instructed the children. “Think about whether you’re a boy or a girl, and don’t let anybody tell you. You decide your own sexuality.” Naturally, parents were outraged at this sort of activity, and the school’s sex-education curriculum provoked great controversy among the parents.

After I heard that story about students being encouraged to decide their own sexuality, and many others like it, I consulted the bishops on our TOBET advisory board and they advised that I write books for children that would counter these false secular teachings on human sexuality. This is how my series of books called The Body Matters started. We hope we can spread them in Catholic schools as well as in parish catechetical programs. And we want parents to read these books as well because many may not know the theology of the body. These books are a good way to establish a dialogue between parents and children.

Some commentators lamented the fact that the synod on young people, in October 2018, didn’t give enough space to sexuality. Do you agree with them?

I believe there wasn’t much discussion about TOB during the synod on young people, which I think is a problem. There needs to be some focus on sexuality, and that focus should not be at the exclusion of anthropology — that is, at the exclusion of what it means to be human. I wish the synod would have integrated Pope John Paul’s understanding of the human person as a gift made in God’s image because I think he knew what we need now — that is a TOB based on Scripture.

How would you have integrated TOB into the synod on young people? 

I would have advised participants to take seriously what Pope John Paul was trying to do. He warned against seeing the body in “detachment” or that the body doesn’t have meaning. If I was an adviser in this kind of event, I would start by asking, “How does the body teach you many lessons?” Then I’d point out that the body teaches us that we’re human, first and foremost. This basic teaching — the humanity of our bodies — will become more important in the future because another thing that is coming is transhumanism, which is very scary.

Next, I would point out that the body teaches us that we are male or female (“boy body” or “girl body” is how I put it for children in the TOBET books), not neutral. This, too, is vital for children to know, as I’ve heard that people are even building sex robots to replicate — and replace — authentic human sexual experience. So, if we don’t talk to young people about the truth of their existence as male and female sexual beings, then they’re going to be brainwashed by erroneous views of sexuality as a neutral thing. My advice is that young people should take seriously the people who have studied and understood the truth of the child, the truth about the human person, and the truth about sexuality and about the body mattering in all these truths.

Your first book was on marriage preparation. What would be your first piece of advice to a young couple getting married?

Engaged couples need to understand that the body is a revelation of the person. So often, we wrongly think that the body is separated from the person. It is seen as a tool for pleasure, not a sacrament. Engaged couples must see the body as a gift and the other as a gift. Only then will they be able to see how the teachings about sexuality come into play — even though, of course, marriage is about much more than sexuality.

All of TOB is about ultimately getting to heaven, where we will be in union with God and others, with our “spiritualized” bodies. So, through TOB, engaged couples will truly come to now that “I am meant to be for you and you for me.”

When I give talks before engaged couples, one of the last things I explain to them is how, for instance, two fiancées, Katy and Joe, will enter into a mutual self-giving in marriage. “When you get married, Joe,” I say, “you become Joe for Katy, and, Katy, you become Katy for Joe.” In other words, Pope John Paul says a person is a “being-for-another.” So they become gifts for each other, and they get to journey this life together. And, ultimately, they get to see each other face-to-face, with their bodies, in heaven. Marriage gives you a taste of heaven.

In the priesthood and religious life, too, individuals are self-giving and likewise live for all. In either case, married or religious life, this self-giving is a taste of what heaven is about. Both of those vocations give a taste of heaven. It is all about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — and the Church — all being at the center of one’s life.

You’re in Rome for a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. John Paul II. What does this trip mean to you?

I am here is to show my gratitude. I am grateful to God, to my parents for raising me in the Catholic faith, and to Pope John Paul who gave us TOB. I am going to be in front of his tomb, praying and thanking him for his gift, a gift which is going to transform the culture, one person at a time, for Jesus and his Church.

Solène Tadié is the Register’s Rome-based Europe correspondent

 

Scientific American Addresses the Problem of Birth Control Suppressing Periods

Madeleine Coyne

Scientific American Addresses the Problem of Birth Control Suppressing Periods

There is no more unifying experience among women around the globe than menstruation. All women understand what it feels like to have their period—even if they don’t exactly understand what it is.

And yet, the topic of menstruation continues to hold significant stigmas, and embarrassment or hesitation to discuss this vital function of the female body has created gaps in our knowledge of how the menstrual cycle affects a women’s overall health.

Therefore, it was a welcome shock to discover that the May 2019 issue of Scientific American magazine is primarily dedicated to the science of women’s reproductive health—or rather, the lack thereof. In one particularly revealing article, “What is the Point of a Period?” by Virginia Sole-Smith, the author investigates the long-standing menstrual taboo and the devastating effect it has had on women’s reproductive health, including the unique problem concerning menstrual suppression through hormonal birth control.

Coming from a nationally esteemed scientific magazine as Scientific American(the longest continuously published magazine in the United States), this article is truly a breakthrough for women’s reproductive health, for several reasons.

The medical and scientific repercussions of the global menstruation taboo

All women of child-bearing years experience menstruation. There is nothing strange or unhealthy about it, even if global taboos are still very much alive. In fact, the female menstrual cycle is necessary for reproduction—necessary for human survival. But still, most people are too scared or embarrassed to talk about or even acknowledge it. As Sole-Smith explains, “That aversion has influenced women’s relationships to their own bodies as well as how the medical establishment manages women when things go wrong with their reproductive health.”

Somehow, many doctors still do not understand the intricacies of the menstrual cycle (especially how charting one’s cycle using a Fertility Awareness-Based Method can help diagnose and treat common health problems). Too many doctors don’t realize that periods offer clues that often reveal underlying issues concerning a woman’s reproductive and overall health.

The scientific community has offered very limited help. As Sole-Smith explains, “It is hard to measure how much money is spent on period research, but experts agree the subject is underfunded.”

At the heart of this menstruation taboo is a lack of knowledge and understanding. Many women may know that their period signals the shedding of their uterus’s lining. But what exactly does that mean? Sole-Smith answers this question thoroughly and concisely: “The endometrial lining of the uterus thickens over the course of a woman’s cycle as her estrogen level rises. If none of the eggs she releases at ovulation joins with a sperm and implants in that lining as a fertilized zygote, then levels of estrogen and another hormone called progesterone drop, triggering the uterus to shed the thickened endometrium so it can start fresh in the next cycle.”

Essentially, a woman’s uterus lining thickens every month to prepare for the possibility of a fertilized egg and pregnancy. If the egg does not get fertilized, then the uterus sheds this lining and it leaves the body as menstrual blood.

While scientists are still struggling to understand exactly what menstrual blood is, Sole-Smith writes that “Even less is known about why so many women—up to 80 percent by some estimates—experience cramps, bloating, fatigue, anger, or other symptoms just before the onset of menstruation.” She quotes Tomi-Ann Roberts, president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, who reveals that “We know so little about menstruation. . . . Because of this, our attitudes toward menstruation are overwhelmingly negative. This has real consequences for how we can begin to understand healthy menstruation, as well as menstruation-related disorders and the treatment options available.”

In another article in this same issue of Scientific American“Fertile Ground: The Long-Neglected Science of Female Reproductive Health,” author Clara Moskowitz writes:

“Having periods is not a disease. But when they go wrong, they offer clues into disorders that require intervention. The medical field has largely done a poor job of identifying and treating them with precision. Clinicians tend to wield synthetic hormones like a hammer, liberally prescribing the birth-control pill for all kinds of pain—which is partly why serious diseases of the female organs such as endometriosis take an average of eight years to be diagnosed. That women’s symptoms are often dismissed does not help.”

Which brings us to the question of why doctors started covering up the female menstrual cycle via hormonal birth control in the first place, and why they are just now—decades later—starting to adequately research the effects of menstrual suppression.

The problem of birth control’s long-term suppression of menstruation

In her article, Sole-Smith explains how research on menstruation evolved from ludicrous conclusions “that menstrual blood contained a kind of poison” in 1920 to research on how to prevent pregnancies in the 1950s in large part to the work of Margaret Sanger (future founder of Planned Parenthood). In the first large-scale, FDA-approved trial of hormonal birth control, 265 low-income Puerto Rican women were recruited (as Sole-Smith notes, “without the level of ‘informed consent’ required today”), and 22% of the women dropped out of the experiment after experiencing adverse side effects. “The study’s medical director argued that the pill ‘caused too many side reactions to be generally acceptable.’ Nevertheless, it went to market.”

This is how birth control came to be—tested on poor women in another country without proper consent, with their blatant side effects brushed aside. While the Pill is celebrated as a liberating breakthrough for women, Sole-Smith goes on to explain: “But liberation came with a price. By the late 1960s patients across the U.S. were reporting the same symptoms documented during the Puerto Rican trial. Despite many reformulations over the ensuing decades, side effects remain a problem for many women on the pill; risks for breast cancer, blood clots and stroke may also be higher.”

Elizabeth Kissling, a professor of women and gender studies at Eastern Washington University, explains how this new “reproductive freedom” did not seem to take into consideration the consequences of “shutting down a woman’s natural cycle.” Sole-Smith sums it up well: “scientists figured out how to supplant periods long before they began trying to understand why they work the way they do.”

The article explains how scientists did not truly investigate “the larger question of why menstruation happens at all” until the late 1980s. She explains the research of evolutionary biologist, Beverly I. Strassmann, including her investigation into why humans do not reabsorb their menstrual blood like other animals do, stating: “Our physiology doesn’t permit reabsorption, so much of the blood gets discharged as menstruation.” This led her to conclude that bleeding during one’s menstrual cycle is “an insignificant by-product of evolution rather than an advantage.”

Does that mean a woman’s cycle is insignificant, and should be suppressed by artificial birth control? After all, Sole-Smith notes that “Skipping that monthly ordeal can mean avoiding debilitating pain . . . and other symptoms that can dramatically impair a woman’s quality of life.” But as Kissling notes, “The pill isn’t a treatment for these conditions. It’s a way of refusing to treat them.” Endocrinologist Jerilynn Prior explains how “it can take up to a decade or longer from disease onset for a woman to be diagnosed with endometriosis, for example, in part because doctors are so quick to prescribe the drug to teenagers reporting bad cramps without investigating to see if there is an underlying cause.” The Pill masks often serious underlying problems and manipulates natural hormone functions.

Reason for concern

Strassmann, for one, is rightly skeptical about the long-term effects of “medically induced menstrual suppression”—namely, the higher hormone levels with which women become exposed. She says, “It’s true a monthly menstrual period is not necessary. But taking more progestin to skip your period is not living like our ancestors did 500 or 1,000 years ago.”

As the article “What is the Point of a Period” reveals, “analyzing data from 12 studies, as well as the information on birth-control package inserts, Strassmann’s team concluded that some types of the Pill exposed women to a quadruple dose of progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone contained in the Pill), relative to the progesterone their naturally cycling body would produce.”

Ultimately, this crucial article reveals that what we know about menstruation and the long-term effects of birth control on menstruation is that we still don’t know enough. Sole-Smith explains, “Nobody knows for sure what that exposure to synthetic hormones will mean long term for women using the Pill to suppress their cycles indefinitely. This knowledge gap speaks to broader concerns about our ignorance around menstruation.” And if this is not concerning, then I do not know what is.

What I do know is that I do not want to be part of this experiment. I find myself asking the same questions that Moskowitz poses, “What might be different if researchers had investigated the evolutionary purpose of periods before they developed a Pill to shut down a woman’s cycle? Why are women expected to shoulder health trade-offs in exchange for avoiding pregnancy?”

I find it tragic that more women do not see their menstrual cycle and fertility as a vital sign of health and that they are not given adequate information by their doctors about their cycle and natural options for family planning and treatment of common health issues, other than birth control. Too many women are not given the option of—or even information on—safe, natural, side-effect-free, Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, modern methods based in science.

In a closing sentence that left me with chills, Kissing suggests that “Long-term menstrual suppression via birth control is the largest uncontrolled medical experiment on women in history.” Here’s to stopping experiments when it comes to women’s health.

Making America faithful again

G. Tracy Mehan III 

Book Review: American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. By Timothy S. Goeglein and Craig Osten (Regnery Gateway, 216 pages, $28.99).

Liberty can no more exist without virtue than the body can live and move without a soul. — John Adams

Bowling alone, coming apart, two nations, alienated America, sexual suicide — these phrases, all taken from titles of books both recent and dated, describe in painful detail the collapse of a cohesive society in which stable families, social mobility, and a common moral vision, however imperfectly lived, enabled a rising middle class to prosper. The familial collapse first identified by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his prescient 1965 report on the decline of the African-American family has now become a generalized, systemic condition for a large segment of white and Hispanic America, too.

According to Tim Goeglein and Craig Osten in their bracing new book, American Restoration: How Faith, Family and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation, things can only get better given the dismal circumstances we find ourselves in today.

“As of 2014, more than seventy percent of all African American children are now born out of wedlock — triple the percentage Moynihan reported in the mid-1960s when the Great Society was launched to solve the problem (hopefully) of fatherless children in African American homes,” Goeglein and Osten write.

“In 2014, more than half of Hispanic children were born out of wedlock, as well as one-third of all American babies born to Caucasian mothers,” they continue. “As recently as 1970, only 15 percent of all American babies were born outside of marriage. The combined rate of all racial groups is now a whopping 40 percent.” And this despite $22 trillion spent over fifty years on Great Society programs.

As a mountain of social science data shows, single-parent families, usually without a father and husband, are an economic and social calamity for children, especially boys. A University of Pennsylvania study found that young men who grow up fatherless are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families.

For these authors, the cause of our problem is fundamentally cultural and religious, inextricably tied to a “propulsive postmodernism” and a demiurge for “self-fulfillment” without tether to Judeo-Christian morality or even the cardinal virtues discerned by ancient writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, or Aquinas. In truth, these sources of the Western tradition are denigrated by the bien pensant, the current elites, the Brahmins presiding over our universities, the media, and much of corporate America today.

As the Catholic writer and social critic Mary Eberstadt opined:

“Politics did not create these problems. The sexual revolution did. That’s why politics will not solve them, either.”

Goeglein and Osten proceed to outline the origin and extent of the rot in American culture in several tight, well-developed chapters treating culture, family, the judiciary, religious liberty, education, medical ethics, and a variety of moral virtues required of a free and democratic people.

Their philosophy is grounded in the Christian idea that men and women are made in the image of God — imago Dei. This informs their view of the need for civility and the recovery of the concept of the gentleman regarding whom John Henry Newman said, “It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain.” Unfortunately, the authors do not discuss the concept of a lady, probably too fraught a topic in this day and age for males to address.

Nevertheless, their hero is another great gentleman, George Washington, who, in his first inaugural address, stated that “religion and morality” are the “finest props of the duties of men and citizens,” adding that they are the pillars supporting “the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity.”

“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect the national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle,” the first president proclaimed.

While realistic regarding the forces arrayed against a moral restoration in America, they do not subscribe to the more extreme forms of the “Benedict Option,” which seem to counsel a complete withdrawal from the public square into an exclusively private zone disengaged from politics, culture, and social matters not exclusively en famille, so to speak. The authors do concur with the proponents of this idea that one must deepen oneself spiritually and morally in faith and humility. But that should not lead one to flee the slings and arrows of a hostile culture. Engagement grounded in a religious worldview is the correct posture.

Goeglein and Osten write, “We must not despair.”

Citing the work of David Brooks and James and Deborah Fallows on the vibrancy of positive, local restorative action in communities across America, these authors state boldly that “we must continue to be faithful. The key to America’s restoration is to be found in remaining engaged in our neighborhoods, in our communities, and in our nation — doing so faithfully and knowing God is in control.” They urge Americans to take up the charge offered by the great English philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke:

To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.

These writers are nothing if not hopeful — sometimes maddeningly so. But hope is a theological virtue grounded not in reason but in faith. They urge us to live that virtue and become “salt and light” in a country well worth the effort.

G. Tracy Mehan III is an adjunct professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. This article was first published in The American Spectator and is republished here with permission.

The Blessings of ‘Ordinary’ Children

by 

Sign of Hope

 “In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal “knowledge” which makes them “one flesh,” does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.”

— Pope St. John Paul II (Familiaris Consortio, 14)

The English writer G.K. Chesterton loved pointing out that we are surrounded by seemingly “ordinary” things that are in fact so suffused with beauty and mystery, that we ought by all rights to be walking about in a perpetual state of stunned wonder. As he famously put it: “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.” What he meant is, that thousandth time, you might slough off your old pereptual habits that took the thing for granted and see the thing for what it is: a pure, mysterious gift.

G. K. Chesterton, aged 31

One of the ordinary things that Chesterton sought to show us in a new light was the family. A quote often attributed to him goes like this: “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” Now, I can’t seem to find a source for this quote. But the sentiment is unquestionably Chestertonian in nature. The fact of a man and a woman falling in love, their desire to unite their lives together with an unbreakable vow, and the children that – God willing – naturally follow: on the one hand these are utterly straightforward things, and on the other, filled with an unspeakable beauty and mystery. These ordinary things are really the most extraordinary things.

However, as Most Reverend José Gomez, archbishop of the diocese of Los Angeles, recently pointed out in a profoundly challenging speech hosted by the University of Notre Dame McGrath Institute for Church Life, marriage and children seem to be becoming “extraordinary” in a totally new way. That is to say, for the first time in the history of our civilization, it seems that a vast, and growing number of people, are consciously rejecting these things, refusing marriage, and consciously avoiding having any children at all.

Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles, photo courtesy of the Archdiocese

For thousands of years, just about everyone intuitively understood that it was a good thing to commit one’s life to another in marriage, and then to bring children into the world. But for unusual cases, such as those entering the priesthood, or monasteries and convents, this is what the overwhelming majority of people would aspire to, and expect to do. Now, however, for a variety of reasons, “many young people are debating whether it is ‘ethical’ to have kids,” the archbishop noted. “There is an even larger conversation going on among millennials about the ‘value’ of starting a family.”

The ostensible rationale given for much of the anti-natalist attitude is concern for the natural environment – the fear that more children simply means more resource-hogging humans damaging the earth. We saw this attitude expressed memorably earlier this year by Democrat congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In a Q&A session live-streamed on Instagram to her 2.5 million followers in February, Ocasio-Cortez mused about environmental questions: “It is basically a scientific consensus that the lives of our children are going to be very difficult, and it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: is it OK to still have children?”

In his speech, Archbishop Gomez didn’t discount the need for serious concern for the environment; however, he suggested that this growing ambivalent – and even hostile – attitude towards children “tells us far more about the state of the family today” than many of the other problems that we usually associate with the crisis in marriage and the family: “contraception and abortion; divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, people living together rather than getting married…the growth of same-sex unions and the confusion about sex that we see in our society.”

In rejecting marriage and children outright, he said, “Our society has rejected what 20 centuries of Christian civilization considered a basic fact of nature.”  He stated: “Now marriage, family, and children have all become an open question, a ‘choice’ that individuals must decide for themselves.”

Recovering the Radical Christian Message

In response to this peculiarly sinister modern crisis, Archbishop Gomez firstly urged the need “to rediscover the radical ‘newness’ of the Christian message about the family.” We have heard the basic Christian teaching about marriage so often that we have lost sight of how radical, and how radically beautiful it is, both in itself, and in the context of historical attitudes towards marriage.

“When St. Paul said: ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her’ — he was announcing a revolution in human thought and human society,” the archbishop said. “Before Christianity, no one had ever spoken about marriage in terms of a love that lasts a lifetime, or as a calling from God, or as a path that can lead to holiness and salvation.”

“It was a new and thrilling idea to speak of man and woman becoming ‘one flesh’ and participating in God’s own act of creating new life.” Indeed, it was through the profundity of their love for one another, and the way they lived that love in concrete ways, that the first Christians spread the Gospel. Not only did they approach marriage as a “life-long relationship of friendship and mutual devotion,” but they rejected the anti-life practices of their pagan neighbors: “They rejected birth control and abortion and welcomed children in joy as a gift from God and treated them as precious persons to be loved and nurtured and brought up in the ways of the Lord.”

The Marriage at Cana – 14th century fresco at the Visoki Decani Monastery

Archbishop Gomez went on to quote the early Church Father Tertullian. The quotation is so beautiful, that I feel compelled to include it here in full:

How beautiful … the marriage of two Christians, sharing one hope, one desire, one way of life. They are truly two in one flesh; and where the flesh is one, the spirit is one, also. They pray together, worship together, fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another… they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts. They visit the sick and assist the needy. … Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices.

I can’t help but think how different society would be if all Christian couples lived up to this beautiful vision!

Life is a Gift

However, continued Archbishop Gomez, not only must we recover the radicalness of the Christian message about marriage, but “we need to recover the Christian narrative, the Christian vision for life and human happiness.” This section of the archbishop’s speech is so theologically profound, and beautiful, that I urge you to read the whole thing if you can.

The archbishop lamented that many Christians are taking their cue about the meaning of life from our technologically obsessed and consumeristic society, rather than Christ and the Scriptures. The Scriptures reveal to us the great mystery that even God Himself is a family – a Trinity of persons united in love. “We need to tell this good news to our neighbors — that this God of love, who created the galaxies and oceans and mountains in the beginning, is still at work today, still creating,” said the archbishop. “And God intends his plan for creation, for history, to unfold through the human family.”

Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, entered into history in the womb of His mother, and raised within the beauty and hiddenness of the family. It is this great mystery that reveals to us how we humans are called to participate in God’s loving act of creation. “We are called to help every married couple realize this vocation — to live their love forever in a mutual and complete gift of self; to renew the face of the earth with children, who are the fruits of their love and the precious love of our Creator.”

Within this rich Christian view, children can never be viewed merely as “takers” and parasites, to be viewed with suspicion, and prevented through invasive, immoral means. On the contrary, “Every child who is born is also a sign of God’s love — a mystery, a gift, a miracle. In every child, even those in the womb, we glimpse the mystery of the Christ Child, in whom we come to know God.”

The archbishop warned that a society that does not welcome children is a society that has forgotten the meaning of life and has abandoned hope. “It is not about just giving birth to children. It is about hope,” he said. “It is about living with confidence in God’s Providence, knowing that he loves us and will never abandon us — no matter what this world may bring.”

The archbishop concluded this remarkable speech with this moving expression of his hope for those listening. “If you are married,” he said, “love your spouse with a great affection and raise your children well. Work for them, sacrifice for them; teach them to talk to God and listen for his calling in their lives. We cannot be afraid to call our young people to greatness, to be saints.”

“Life is not ours to sanction or command. Life is a beautiful gift — the child received by a husband and wife is as beautiful and precious as anything we find in nature.”

“By the love in our homes — by the sacrifices we make and the love that we hold in our hearts and pass on to our children — we are called to testify to this God who is our Creator and Father. This God, who holds all of this world — and every one of us — in his loving hands.”

I have nothing more to add to this beautiful and inspiring message. God bless Archbishop Gomez for his courage and fatherly concern in calling his flock (indeed all of us) to holiness in this way.

Prenatal screening is a pro-life tool hijacked by the abortion industry

 

For the pro-life community, prenatal screening can be a source of contention, but for parents faced with the diagnosis of their preborn child, prenatal screening can be the technological gift that allows them to properly and effectively care for their child. The problem is, prenatal screening has been hijacked by the abortion industry.

Though the more routine use of tests such as ultrasounds and amniocentesis didn’t begin in the United States until the 1970s, the development of these tools was already in the works two decades prior. Well before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, researchers were developing ways to learn more about not only the development of the preborn child but also whether or not a child would be born with any health conditions. The controversy is, of course, what happens with the information that is gathered from prenatal testing. In a pro-life society, that information would simply be used to give the mother and child the best possible care for the best possible outcome at birth and throughout the child’s life. But in a pro-abortion society, that information is used to instead discriminate against the child in the womb and kill that child through an act of eugenics.

When used appropriately and ethically, prenatal testing is a pro-life tool.

For example, prior to prenatal testing, a woman who was carrying a child with anencephaly – a condition in which the child’s skull doesn’t properly form and he isn’t likely to survive more than a few hours after birth – would have absolutely no idea that the precious child she was so thrilled to give birth to was dying. There was no way to prepare her or the child’s father or grandparents or siblings for this tremendous loss. Now, however, parents can learn this information ahead of time, allowing them time to grieve and prepare so that when they meet their child at birth they are able to focus on him, not his diagnosis, and even have family photos taken. They can spend their time loving him instead of having him whisked away for tests. They will have had time to get a plan in place for the baby’s funeral or for family members to have traveled from long distances to arrive in time to meet him.

Down syndrome

Likewise, for the parents of a child with Trisomy 21, better known as Down syndrome, receiving the diagnosis ahead of time allows them to not only emotionally prepare, but it helps them to plan for their child’s needs. Knowing that their child may need extra care because of a heart condition or anticipated developmental delays would give parents the opportunity to meet with specialists prior to the child’s birth in order to give the child the best care possible. Knowing of a diagnosis such as Down syndrome ahead of time may also alter the family’s financial plan so they are better prepared for the future.

Similar arguments could be made for prenatal testing that allows treatment plans to be set in place for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and spina bifida. About 10 percent of children with cystic fibrosis will need bowel surgery immediately after birth, making it important to keep an eye on their bowels via ultrasound. Early animal testing has even shown that treating CF while the child is still in the womb can treat male infertility, which affects 98 percent of men with CF. As for spina bifida, fetal surgeons are now performing surgery on babies while they are still in the womb with amazing success rates, including the increased likelihood of independently walking. The results of prenatal surgery for spina bifida are proving to be better than surgery after birth.

spina bifida

Photo: EBU Photography

Parents who learn their child has Trisomy 18 (Edward’s syndrome) prior to the child’s birth will likely be told that their baby is “incompatible with life” and told to abort. But the truth is that these children aren’t necessarily going to die at birth as in decades past. New information and the right doctors are helping children with the condition to live longer and healthier. One man with the condition just celebrated his 18th birthday.

While some conditions will need an amniocentesis in order to confirm a diagnosis, many parents may not wish to go through with this test because it carries a small risk of miscarriage. That is completely understandable. But going through with any prenatal testing, especially non-invasive testing that doesn’t carry a risk of harming the baby, in no way should lead to the assumption that those parents don’t love their child. In the pro-life community, many parents will say that they skipped all testing because it didn’t matter to them if their child had certain health conditions or not. And it is their right to do so. But if a parent is determined to choose life no matter what, and if a blood test or ultrasound could help a child live better and even survive, then taking that test is not unloving. It is preparing.

Betsy Leaf insisted that she was keeping her little boy, Jacen, even after he was diagnosed with anencephaly and she was offered abortion.

READ: Prenatal screening shouldn’t equal a death sentence

Prenatal testing can help certain children live longer and healthier lives, so why do the doctors who diagnose them push abortion on the grieving and scared parents? One very sinister reason is that they are actually trying to eliminate people who may cost more money to care for, especially if the child is going to be using government healthcare programs. Or they may want to eliminate people with disabilities because they think that these lives aren’t worth living. It’s discrimination. It’s eugenics. And it must stop.

Another reason doctors may push invasive testing and abortion is that they fear facing lawsuits. And that fear isn’t unfounded. There have been numerous cases of parents suing doctors for the “wrongful births” of their children because they went undiagnosed during pregnancy and the parents didn’t have the chance to kill them before birth. Doctors could lose their entire livelihood over it.

The reality is that prenatal testing is a game changer, but it makes a big difference which team parents and doctors are playing for. When we approach a prenatal diagnosis with a pro-life vision, amazing things happen. When we approach a prenatal diagnosis with a pro-abortion vision, death happens.

When It Comes to IVF, Remember: Frozen Embryos Are People Too

ANA BRENNAN, J.D

Earlier this month a heartbreaking story about an IVF “mix up” was reported. It seems the fertility clinic responsible for handling embryos during the IVF process accidentally implanted the wrong embryos into a woman. Instead of giving birth to twin daughters, the woman gave birth to two boys who were not genetically hers. Not only did this woman have to relinquish the children she just gave birth to, but the clinic has yet to locate her unborn daughters.[i] These cases may not be the norm but they’re not unheard of either, and as more infertile couples turn to IVF and more profit is to be made by the fertility industry,[ii] the frequency of these tragedies will increase.

Most people are rightly horrified by this story. Unfortunately, the conversations elicited by this story rarely extend to the broader debate surrounding artificial reproductive technologies (ART).  In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of ART, which involves,

[C]ombining extracted eggs and sperm in a lab. The process involves producing multiple embryos and transferring them. . . into the woman’s womb, in hopes one would implant and cause a pregnancy. Today, many embryos are usually frozen, as couples opt to transfer the most viable one at a time to avoid multiple births. Unused embryos may be stored indefinitely, donated to science or destroyed….[iii]

Surrogacy also requires the creation of embryos through IVF, but in the case of surrogacy a third party is hired to carry the child created through IVF for another intended “mother”; with just IVF, the woman who gives birth to the child created though IVF is also the intended mother (unless the wrong babies were put inside of her, of course).

Sadly, not only are people not morally outraged by IVF, but they see it as a social good – the ends justifies the means. Some even think IVF as something they are owed by the US taxpayer.

Of course, infertility is a heavy cross to carry, and infertility caused by a combat injury even more so. No one is disputing the untold sacrifices that disabled veterans have made for this country, but even a disabled veteran is not above the moral law.

In 2016, with some qualifications, Congress authorized benefits for disabled veterans that covered IVF treatments, a benefit already available to active duty. Currently, the benefits for the disabled veterans must be reauthorized every year. It is the annual re-authorization of this program which, creates thousands of disposable embryos, that is in contention.[iv]

Putting aside the emotional aspect of disabled veterans, the arguments used to justify entitlement to this benefit are just as morally hollow as any other defense of IVF. According to one military wife, who’s already had three failed IVF attempts, and is now on her fourth try using donor embryos, “IVF gives . . . couples trying to conceive the ability to bond with their babies as soon as physically possible, unlike alternatives such as adoption and surrogacy. . . . By using donor embryos, you have all those memories, you have all those firsts. . . .You’re not having to make yet more sacrifices, more compromises.”[v]

It is absolutely frightening that the argument presented here isn’t even about a “right” to a child or “right” to be a parent. Rather, IVF and the destruction of offspring is justified based on a preferred way of bonding, making memories, and not comprising; all paid for by the taxpayer.

Proponents of IVF rarely, if ever, discuss the ethical and moral dilemmas associated with the child that they desire. “[C]ouples usually freeze many embryos, test for health problems and transfer the most viable one at a time to avoid multiple births. That often means leftovers once the desired family is complete.”  One study estimates that 1.4 million embryos are currently in frozen storage.[vi]

One reason so many embryos are left in storage is due to the hesitancy of couples who suffered from infertility, who went through so much to create a family, now must destroy their leftover offspring. Offspring who, if given the chance, could have been additions to the family they fought so hard to create.[vii]

It is evident that the issue of IVF is rife with moral questions and concerns: creation of embryos in the first place, the exploitation of vulnerable infertile couples at the hands of the fertility industry instead of focusing research on medical treatments that actually treat infertility, putting embryos in the wrong woman, the psychological trauma inflicted on couples, and of course the pressing issue of the destruction on leftover embryos.

I say “pressing issue” because these embryos are being created and destroyed right now. These embryos are being denied their humanity, treated like nothing more than a commodity. This is not some abstract debate; this is the very real situation we are faced with in this moment. If we believe life begins at conception, we need to start acting like it. IVF is a pro-life issue. No one else is going to defend the humanity of these children. Pushing policies that recognize the humanity of and protect frozen embryos should be just as important as pushing policies that protect children in the womb.

Until the pro-life movement addresses the moral dilemmas inherent with IVF, we will continue to live in a country where children are “misplaced” or put into the wrong mother; where the destruction of embryos is completely justified so long as people get what they want. It’s time for pro-lifers to step up.

___________________________

[i] “Couple Says Wrong Embryos Implanted by IVF Clinic in ‘unimaginable mishap,’” CBS News, July 8, 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/couple-says-wrong-embryos-implanted-by-ivf-clinic-in-unimaginable-mishap/.

[ii] “IVF Services Market to Garner $26.38 Billion by 2026 at 9.8% CAGR: AMR,” Yahoo Finance, July 1, 2019, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ivf-services-market-garner-26-125353029.html.

[iii] “Correction: Injured Veterans and Fertility Help Story,” Associated Press, Julie Carr Smith, July 9, 2019, https://www.apnews.com/3e2ea01c3ef64787903ae136c25faa03?fbclid=IwAR1GjabainmgPJyLNkwEhjAAGYOEKY0Hft6gDQdd3yHNxckUX6yS6pq3xeU.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] “Tens of Thousands of Embryos Are Stuck in Limbo in Fertility Clinics,” CBS News, January 17, 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/embryos-are-stuck-in-limbo-in-fertility-clinics/.

[vii] Id.

LifeNews Note: Ana Brennan, J.D., is the Vice President of the Society of St. Sebastian. She also serves as the Senior Editor for the Society’s publication, Bioethics in Law & Culture. Ms. Brennan began her pro-life activism in college, continued through law school, and ultimately worked at the national level in Washington, D.C. As a State Legislative Associate for the National Right to Life Committee, working closely with grassroots lobbyists, state attorney generals, and governors she helped state affiliates pass pro-life legislation.

Doctors said her son had a birth defect and pressured her to abort. He was born healthy.

 

Lauren Webster, a Scottish woman, has gone public about being repeatedly pressured to undergo an abortion after being told her preborn baby had a fatal birth defect. In an interview with the Scotsman, Webster said that after refusing an abortion, her son was born healthy.

Webster, 21, had previously suffered two miscarriages, but was hopeful about her latest pregnancy. “When I found out I was pregnant, I was very scared because of what had happened before,” she told the Scotsman. “But I just had a gut feeling that this was my time.” But then, at 13 weeks, she had an ultrasound at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow and was told there was a problem with her baby.

“I was scared when I found out I was pregnant with Ollie,” she said. “I just thought, this is going to happen again. Because I had had two miscarriages previously, I got two early scans but there was a heartbeat so they weren’t concerned. But when I went for my 13-week scan, the doctor told me he had a bladder obstruction. She asked me if I wanted to terminate, saying there was a low chance he would survive.”

 

After Webster refused to have an abortion, she was told to come in for weekly ultrasounds to monitor the baby — but her wish to save her baby’s life wasn’t honored. “Every week she was asking me if I wanted to terminate,” Webster recalled. “She said she had to ask me. It was around Christmas time and I was feeling very down. I said to her ‘don’t ask me that again because I’m keeping it.’ By 18 weeks she had noticed that the bladder had repaired itself.”

But her problems were far from over — doctors then told Webster that her baby might have Edwards syndrome, and the pressure to have an abortion resumed again. Doctors told her that her baby wouldn’t survive past the age of four, but then doctors found out that he didn’t actually have the condition.

“After that, the doctor was shocked about how perfect he turned out in the scans,” Webster said. “I went into labour early and had to get an emergency caesarean because his heart rate was going up and down. Ollie was in the special care unit for a week but he came out absolutely fine. He was a good weight, he was 5lb 14oz. He’s a big boy. He’s got a condition called talipes which means his feet are a bit turned and he had to undergo a minor hernia op but apart from that is healthy. He sleeps good and is feeding well, he’s great. If someone else was to go through that experience, I wouldn’t want them to terminate because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

 

This kind of pressure to have an abortion isn’t unusual at all; many parents report being pushedtoward ending the lives of their preborn babies. Some parents, like Webster, have found that there ended up being no medical problems with their children, but others steadfastly chose life regardless of a diagnosis, knowing that the value of someone’s life is not dependent on the lack of a disability, or on how long they will live. As for Webster, she had a simple reason for telling her story in the end, saying, “I just think everyone should read my story and never give up hope.”

CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANTS AND THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL

Contraceptive Implants and the Illusion of Control

Nexplanon, an artificial birth control arm implant, launched a recent ad campaign using the slogan “Armor Up.” It shows pictures of attractive young women with battle ready faces, flexing one bicep while pointing to the implant. The ad reads: “Pregnancy protection for up to 3 years. Over 99% effective. Your life. Your way.” This ad campaign merely takes the common phrasing of birth control as “protection” to its logical extreme. Against whom are women to “armor up?” Well, babies, it would seem. According to Nexplanon, a baby would be an invader, an enemy even.

This marketing technique promotes and plays into women’s fears that children mean the end of life. It perpetuates the idea that becoming pregnant is something to fear, unless it is meticulously planned. But protection, of course, comes at a cost. The risks and side effects include the possibility of blood clots, stroke, and death. More common, the website reports that 10 percent of women stopped using Nexplanon because it caused “an unfavorable change in their bleeding pattern.” The implant is only one of many varieties of hormonal birth control medications that pose similar risks.

There is an irony in the contraceptive mentality, as it purports to give women ultimate control over their bodies and reproduction. In reality though, women become dependent on pharmaceutical drugs that can cause a range of side effects, some of which are a nuisance, to those that threaten lives. In the end, the sense of “control” is an illusion. A pharmaceutical company recently recalled packets of birth control pills because of a packaging error that placed placebos where active pills should have been. This is not a lone incident. In 2015, 100 women filed a lawsuit against multiple pharmaceutical companies they held responsible for their pregnancies after another placebo pill mix up.
It is not uncommon to find women who become pregnant while using

contraceptives. Yet the prevailing message is that if you “protect yourself,” you have nothing to fear. “99% effective,” proclaims the Nexplanon ad. That means some women will become pregnant while using the implant. How shocked will they be? Will they embrace this baby they were protecting themselves against, or seek an abortion?

Despite the messaging, artificial contraception takes control away from women in at least two ways. First, most forms suppress a woman’s natural hormones and cycle which give her important information about her reproductive and overall health. Second, they make women dependent on the pharmaceutical companies that make them, and government programs or insurance companies to pay for them.

Fortunately, there is a better way to avoid pregnancy when it’s not the right time for a baby. The dramatic language of the Nexplanon marketing campaign highlights the stark differences between Natural Family Planning (NFP) and artificial birth control. Birth control promotes the idea that babies are something to fear. They will derail your life so you don’t want to take any chances. “Armor up,” suppress your natural hormones, and accept side effects as the cost of this security. NFP recognizes that there are times when conceiving would not be wise. But instead of telling women that their bodies’ natural cycles are a threat and something to thwart, NFP gives women more information about what is going on with their bodies to allow for informed choices each cycle. NFP offers women an arsenal of information about fertility, hormonal health, and more. It educates women about their own bodies, which makes women stronger, independent, and more empowered than an implant or pill ever could.

Miracle Approved for Beatification of Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen

by 

The miraculous recovery of a stillborn baby, whose parents turned to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen for help, has been officially approved by Pope Francis, thus paving the way for the beatification of the popular televangelist.

According to the National Catholic Register, the Vatican approved the miracle on May 14 and authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding this decision. Plans can now get underway to set a date for the Archbishop’s beatification.

The popular television star and host of Life is Worth Living, a show that ran from 1951 to 1957, was declared Venerable in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI after being recognized for his heroic virtue.

However, the cause was suspended by Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria in 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected the Archbishop’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese rather than in the archdiocese of New York.

Apparently, Archbishop Sheen indicated that he wished to be buried in New York, but his niece and closest living relative, Joan Sheen Cunningham, later said that he would have wanted to be interred in his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois if he knew he was going to be considered for sainthood.

A years-long legal struggle ensued between the family and the Archdiocese of New York that ended in May of 2019 when the New York Court of Appeals dismissed the archdiocese’s appeal and granted the family’s wishes of having the Archbishop’s remains transferred from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to Peoria. Once this was accomplished, the cause was permitted to continue.

During this time, a miracle was already under consideration. It occurred on September 16, 2010, when Bonnie Engstrom gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. During delivery, the baby’s umbilical cord became knotted and cut him off from essential oxygen and nutrients, resulting in his death.

The child’s parents, who live in the Peoria-area town of Goodfield, watched their little boy receive CPR and immediately turned to Archbishop Sheen for his intercession. Even though the baby showed no signs of life while the doctors worked on him, and was without vital signs for 61 minutes, the child miraculously returned to life.

“Moments before the doctor was going to declare the infant to be dead, suddenly and without any medical explanation, the infant’s heart began to beat normally and the baby breathed normally,” Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said in a statement. “After a few weeks in the hospital, the infant was sent home and has now grown into a healthy young child.”

Eventually, seven medical experts agreed that the sudden recovery of the child, named James Fulton Engstrom, was miraculous.

A date for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen has not yet been set.

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

Four lies abortion supporters are telling about abortion pill reversal… and the truth

 

Five states in 2019 have passed pro-life measures requiring abortionists to inform women using the abortion pill about the possibility of abortion pill reversal. But the simple act of providing potentially life-saving information to women has been viciously opposed by pro-abortion activists — for instance, in North Dakota, where the pro-abortion American Medical Association (AMA) joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights to launch a legal challenge against the new mandate in court.

To justify their opposition, abortion activists are engaging in fear-mongering and the spreading of misinformation about abortion pill reversal. A recent article published in the Huffington Post is a good case study in these types of deceptive scare tactics, which abortion activists are using with greater frequency.

False Claim #1: Abortion pill reversal is junk science

The HuffPost article cites attorney Molly Duane with the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, who claims, “The notion of ‘abortion reversal’ is based on junk science.” But as the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) explains in a 2019 position statement that “using progesterone to counteract the effect of mifepristone is the logical extension of simple principles of toxicology and poison control.” AAPLOG adds, “There is a very long and solid history of safety of the use of natural progesterone in pregnancy.” A 2018 study observed 754 women who attempted the Abortion Pill Reversal procedure and concluded that “reversal of the effects of mifepristone using progesterone is safe and effective.”  In addition, AAPLOG executive director Donna Harrison recently told Live Action News that there are “multiple studies” — not just the 2018 Delgado study — which suggest the legitimacy of abortion pill reversal, including Davenport 2017, Yamabe 1989, and Baulieu 1989.

Many abortion activists with ulterior motives are pinning their hopes on a new study that, as Live Action News’s Carole Novielli has shown, should be viewed with great suspicion. It is being funded by organizations with deep ties to the abortion industry, including investments in abortion pill manufacturer DANCO. The study clearly lacks independence, as its backers all stand to gain financially from an outcome that would support the unfettered and widespread adoption of the abortion pill and the discrediting of abortion reversal. The study itself, which is being conducted by California abortionist Mitchell Creinin, involves a disturbing methodology that will involve the death of 40 preborn babies. Watch the video below to see how the abortion pill actually works:

 

READ: Is abortion reversal really a ‘scary new tactic,’ or do abortion supporters just fear its implications?

False Claim #2: Abortion pill reversal is not effective anyway

According to the HuffPost article, abortion reversal is an “experimental practice” that is based on “false and nonscientific information.” Actual research and experience, however, paint a different picture. As AAPLOG points out, “By giving a woman progesterone, the Mifeprex abortion can be stopped and the chances of the baby surviving increase from 25% (the survival rate without natural progesterone) to 68% (the average survival rate after giving natural progesterone).” While the efficacy of progesterone supplementation can depend on the method of progesterone delivery and how far along the pregnancy is, abortion pill reversal has been demonstrably effective at increasing the likelihood of survival. A growing number of physicians, like Dr. Robert Snyder and Dr. George Delgado, are advocating and using abortion pill reversal with great success. And countless stories from real-life women seeking abortion reversal continue to testify to the efficacy of the treatment.

False Claim #3: Abortion pill reversal is dangerous to women

The HuffPost article cites abortionist and pro-abortion researcher at UC Davis, Dr. Daniel Grossman (who is involved with Planned Parenthood). He claims that “there is no evidence” that abortion reversal is safe for women, and that “patients deserve to know if there are any safety risks.” This is another scare tactic. The reality of abortion reversal involves nothing more than administering high doses of progesterone — a natural hormone treatment — to women to counteract the effects of mifepristone, a progesterone blocker. And decades of medical practice have shown overwhelmingly that progesterone is safe for women. As the 2018 Delgado study explains in a section titled “Progesterone Safety,” progesterone “has been used safely in pregnancy for over 50 years.”

As a result, according to the study, “The American Society of Reproductive Medicine states that no long-term risks have been identified when progesterone is used in pregnancy. The FDA has given progesterone a category B rating in pregnancy, in contrast to synthetic progestins.” In fact, progesterone can be used safely and effectively more or less continuously for some women, such as peri- and post-menopausal women. And while there has been some question about whether progesterone support in early pregnancy is effective at preventing miscarriages, there is no evidence that it is unsafe for women.

READ: He once committed abortions. Now he saves babies with abortion reversal.

False Claim #4: Abortion pill reversal could cause birth defects

The HuffPost article cites abortionist Kathryn Eggleston, who raises questions about the drug’s safety as it relates to preborn children (yes, you read that correctly). “Scientists thus do not know what impact, including potential birth defects, the administration of these drugs could have on the children,” said Eggleston. Aside from the dark irony of an abortionist feigning concern about preborn babies’ health, this again is fear-mongering without evidence. The 2018 Delgado study found that, among 257 women who had successful reversals, the percentage of children born with birth defects — at just under 3% — was the same as the general population.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) agrees, saying “there is no convincing evidence that progesterone causes birth defects. This seems to make sense, since progesterone is a natural hormone and is identical in structure to the progesterone which is produced during the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy,” adding that “long-term adverse consequences of progesterone therapy have not been identified in humans and appear unlikely.”

Although abortion activists seem desperate to discredit abortion reversal, their claims cannot withstand objective analysis. Still, these false claims will be repeated widely, since the notion of abortion reversal strikes at the heart of abortion advocates’ core narrative: that abortion is a positive good to be celebrated, and therefore women can’t and don’t regret it. Meanwhile, abortion pill reversal will hopefully continue to be a blessing for vulnerable women and their children.

Effects of medical abortion

Philippa Taylor

The rat is a valuable animal model of human disease. Humans and rats share many common genetic features and by examining the physiology, neurology, neurophysiology and the resulting behaviours such as the response to stress, of a rat, scientists can gain valuable insights into how humans function. The rat is one of the primary models for studies of human reproduction.

Which is why the findings of a new peer reviewed study on the effects of a drug induced medical abortion on rats is so fascinating. And since 71% of women having an abortion in England and Wales have a medical rather than surgical abortion (over 140,000 women per year), research on the effects is needed.

In a medical abortion, two drugs are administered, mifepristone then misoprostol, up to 48 hours apart. The effects of medical abortions are debated, especially the mental health consequences, but some of the known physical complications are detailed in this briefing.

In the rat experiment the same drug protocols were followed as with humans, but with the major advantage in that rats, unlike humans, can be randomly assigned to different groups. So out of 81 rats there was a control (non-pregnant) group, a pregnant group and a group that was administered mifepristone and misoprostol at the equivalent of 28–40 days gestation for humans.

The researchers measured rat body weight, food intake, vaginal impedance, sucrose consumption and home-cage activity.

The results were striking.

The rats with a full-term pregnancy increased their weight throughout as expected. The rats that experienced a natural miscarriage stopped increasing weight but did not lose weight, their weight stabilised. But the rats given the medical abortion lost significant weight. They simply stopped eating as much and their sucrose consumption dropped dramatically. The ‘miscarriage rats’ and pregnant rats ate normally throughout. Weight is a useful indication of health, well-being and stress in rats and a drop in sucrose consumption and weight suggests depression-like behaviour. In this research, the ‘abortion rats’ demonstrated moderate to severe stress.

Activity levels also measure depression-like behaviour. This showed that the average distance, speed and time moved per week was far less for the ‘abortion rats’, even compared to the ‘miscarriage rats’, which moved as much as the full pregnancy ones. When measuring ‘rearings’ (standing on hind legs – an indication of normal interest in their environment), the medical abortion group displayed a significant decrease relative to all the other groups.

The time spent in cage corners was also measured and showed that the ‘abortion rats’ separated themselves from the others and spent far more time than the other rats in the far back corner of the cage, indicating increased anxiety.

Additionally the ‘abortion rats’ did not show healthy rat behaviour. They did not groom themselves , they had unkempt coats, their posture was more hunched, and they showed a reduction in exploratory behaviour (sniffing and rearing).

The researchers concluded that the rats who had had a medically induced abortion showed moderate to severe stress, as indicated by their physiological effects measured. The observed effects of stress were specific to the induced abortion not the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage.

The authors also note that the effects of the drug induced termination were not short-term. The effects on food intake lasted for seven days which is the equivalent of 244 human days. The biochemical observations were still visible at the end of the experiment which equates to around six and a half human years.

Our findings strongly suggest that pregnancy termination at mid-term (first-trimester human equivalent) induces significant negative biological and behavioural changes in the rat. Additionally, such a procedure appears to be associated with a potential absence of beneficial effects of carrying a pregnancy to full-term. Moreover, our findings also appear to indicate a significant difference between induced pregnancy termination (medical abortion) and natural miscarriage.

The researchers say that this is the first research that investigates the biological and behavioural effects of drug-induced abortion in an animal model. It seems that the focus of other research has been primarily directed at the success (effectiveness and speed) of terminating a pregnancy. Which leaves me questioning what rigorous pre-clinical therapeutic investigation has taken place with the administration of these powerful drugs on women.

Obviously, as this research was done on rats and not women, the results cannot be directly extrapolated across. But as I state at the outset, knowledge from rat models has benefitted many disorders and contributed significantly to the progress of medicine, so it cannot be easily dismissed. It was also a controlled, objective and ethical assessment – no one can argue that rats suffered these consequences because they were reflecting on what they had done, or were being made to feel guilty by society for having an abortion.

These findings at the very least emphasise the need for further objective research into the physical and behavioural effects of drug induced abortion. Particularly since 86.1% of abortions in Scotland and 71% of abortions in England and Wales are performed using these drugs – over 150,000 women per year. I wonder how many of these women have any idea of the potential physical and emotional consequences to their long-term health?

Philippa Taylor is Head of Public Policy at Christian Medical Fellowship. She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues. Republished with permission from the CMF blog.

The research paper: Biological, Behavioral and Physiological Consequences of Drug-Induced Pregnancy Termination at First-Trimester Human Equivalent in an Animal Model is a peer reviewed research article published in Frontiers In Neuroscience by Sammut et al.

A Breakdown of the Recent FDA Citizen’s Petition Concerning Hormonal Contraceptives

by Madeleine Coyne

You may already know that a Citizen’s Petition was recently filed to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requesting more transparency and patient warnings regarding potential side effects for different forms of hormonal contraceptives. We have been talking about it for a few weeks now, and, as Natural Womanhood CEO Gerard Migeon invited readers weeks ago, we encourage anyone who has suffered from birth control side effects to share their story by making a comment on the petition, to which dozens of people have already commented.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, lack of information about birth control, transparency about birth control, FDA, Citizen's petition about birth control, citizen's petition, food and drug administration

But what exactly does this petition contain? At almost 100 pages, this hefty document can appear a little intimidating at first glance. So we’re happy to break down the content into a digestible FAQ format.

What is the goal of the petition?

In brief, the Citizen’s Petition aims to make all healthcare providers and consumers of hormonal contraceptives aware of their possible, proven side effects. To do so, it is urging the FDA to add black box warnings to certain prescribing information, as well as other safety information, and to remove one of the worst culprits from the market completely.

black box warning is a label on a prescription medication that warns both providers and consumers about serious safety concerns of that drug, usually adverse (and potentially life-threatening) side effects. The FDA can decide to require the manufacturer to add a black box warning to a medication’s packaging at any time after that drug is approved to be on the market.

What exactly would these potential changes be?

If accepted, this petition would, first of all, remove one drug from the market altogether—the injectable contraceptive Depo Provera, known medically as Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA). Evidence definitively shows that it is responsible for increased transmission of HIV from men to women (a side effect that is currently not even reported in online sources of contraceptive information, like Planned Parenthood). As  the FDA petition documents:

“four meta-analyses (3 reports) were published in 2015. Each used different inclusion criteria and compiled the data on different numbers of studies, yet all 4 came up with essentially the same result of significantly increased risk of male-to-female HIV transmission in women using DMPA. . . . Importantly, no consistent association has emerged with regard to oral contraceptives or other injectable or implantable contraceptives and the facilitation of HIV transmission.”

Besides the request that Depo Provera be removed from the market, the majority of this petition’s impact would be to affect the advertising of many contraceptives, which would then affect those being advertised to—that is, everyday consumers. The petition requests that the FDA add black box warnings concerning the proven, reported, adverse side effects of breast cancer, cervical cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), depression and suicide, venous thrombosis (blood clots), and cardiovascular events.

Additional safety information that the petition requests should be added to contraceptive labels include: the increased risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a higher risk of bone fractures, a significantly increased percentage of fat body mass (which can lead to other serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems), and an increased risk of urogenital problems. Potential urogenital problems include a significantly higher risk for the development interstitial cystitis, an increased risk of urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness, Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) caused by OC-induced dyspareunia, reduced sexual desire and libido, and other problems. (Visit the FDA document for all cited research).

Currently, these potential risks and side effects are either not added to black box warnings on most hormonal contraceptives, or they are downplayed or misleading at best. Just as it took years for cigarettes to add appropriate health warnings onto their packages, it seems that it is taking an unacceptably long time for the FDA to add sufficient warnings to the packages of hormonal contraceptives.

Even with some current warnings on birth control pill packaging, the implication is that certain risks—like blood clots (which claimed the life of 20-year-old Alexandra Williams)—only occur when combined with cigarette smoking, and increase with “heavy smoking” and an increase in age. This misleads users to think their risk is null if they don’t engage in cigarette smoking and/or are not over 35 years of age. It also suggests it is not the contraceptive that causes the blood clot but the cigarette smoking. If the FDA heeds this petition, it will follow the request that such labels be changed to state: “WARNING: INCREASED RISK OF SERIOUS CARDIOVASCULAR EVENTS INCLUDING BLOOD CLOTS.”

What forms of contraception does the petition cover?

As the Preliminary Statement explains, hormonal contraceptives have been around for 50 years. When most people think about birth control, they think of “the Pill,” but it is not always realized that there have been numerous different formulations of it over the years. Further, other methods of hormonal contraceptives besides oral pills have been increasingly gaining in popularity, such as intravaginal rings, transdermal patches, implants, and the IUS/IUD.

The Citizen’s Petition differentiates between combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptive formulations (COCs) and progestin-only contraceptive formulations (POCs), in listing the many different contraceptive “agents,” or pharmaceutical names of different kinds of hormonal contraceptive. The overwhelming majority of these fall under the “COC” banner as Combined Estrogen-Progestin (EE-P) Pills—from Natazia to Ortho-Novum to Yasmin. There are two types of COC patches and one vaginal ring (the popular Nuvaring). The number of “POC” Progestin-Only Pills is much smaller, although there are several POC injectables, implants (Nexplanon has been on the hot seat this year), and IUS/IUDs (the Mirena IUD has also had its share of unfortunate connections).

What is the research behind this petition?

A lot of work went into the creation of this petition, which was spearheaded by Dr. William V. Williams, Editor in Chief Emeritus of the Linacre Quarterly. An official “Contraceptive Study Group” of medical professional and experts (including Natural Womanhood’s CEO, Gerard Migeon), compiled all of the information and extensive research necessary for the FDA to make their decision regarding the proposed changes.

The petition goes into depth about each adverse side effect for which it requests a black box, citing research from various studies over past decades, as well as a series of comprehensive, well-documented literature studies. In the case of Depo Provera (DMPA), the one contraceptive drug that the petition advises should be immediately removed from the consumer market, the petition provides both epidemiological evidence from various studies and reports, as well as mechanistic and experimental evidence—including in vitro evidence of increased HIV replication at the cellular level. As the petition concludes: “In the United States, where the availability of a wide range of contraceptive drugs and devices is virtually universal, and where, among these contraceptive choices, one and only one particular method—DMPA—is now known to increase the transmission of an often-fatal viral infection (HIV/AIDS), there can be no justification for such a drug’s continued availability in the marketplace.”

Extensive research and statistics are provided concerning the causal relationship of hormonal contraceptives and cancer—both breast and cervical—including tables of case control studies. PubMed literature reviews back up claims of causal links to Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Various studies of contraceptives and depression, mood disorders, and suicide are provided, as well as studies about every other proven side effect of hormonal agents. (Again, all of this research is cited in the supporting documentation of the FDA petition.)

The economic impact of contraception

The conclusion explains how all of the data reviewed above reflects many of the known side effects that are not properly represented in current prescribing information (indeed, as it explains, warning information is often presented in a misleading manner). The conclusion also begs the FDA to consider the many environmental and economic impacts of hormonal birth control, stating:

“Many millions of women are currently receiving COCs and POCs. Many millions more have been exposed to these agents at some point in their lives. They should receive updated information regarding risks which have not been conveyed, or not adequately conveyed, in the past. All women who have been exposed to COCs or POCs should be informed so that they can take this information into account as they may encounter some of these adverse effects in some cases many years after cessation of use.”

This statement is immediately followed with numerous studies documenting the various environmental impacts of hormonal agents; for example, highlighting the effects of synthetic hormones on fish populations and other species. It calculates the estimated economic impact by taking into account both those women who are currently using COCs and those who have ever used them. It cites reports and studies that show an estimate of just how much money hormonal contraceptives are costing our society, by considering different cases of cancers, diseases, and mood disorders.

In short, the conclusion reveals that there are even more reasons to be opposed to hormonal contraceptives than the many obvious (and serious) health concerns.

So what can I do to help?

The FDA is seeking comments from both medical providers who have witnessed adverse birth control side effects firsthand, or from patients who have experienced them. If you or someone you know has, indeed, suffered at the hands of hormonal contraception, now is the time to make your voice heard.

Please comment directly on the petition (by clicking the “Comment Now!” button on the right-hand corner), or share with someone you think would like to know about it. With your help, we can make an enormous impact and greatly increase awareness of the many proven risks involved with various forms of birth control. Lives could be saved! Your assistance is very much appreciated.

Too many women are given a prescription without an explanation. Too many women are wholly uninformed and misled about the dangerous (and even potentially fatal) effects of hormonal birth control. The overall goal of this petition is to amend this cycle of misinformation. In turn, the hope is that doctors might also start thinking twice before prescribing some of these contraceptives to their patients and offer effective natural alternatives in their practices (as some doctors have already told us they are doing). We currently live in a world where a woman has much more information on possible side effects of her ibuprofen than her birth control—and that needs to change.

Before and After the Pill: Its Redefinition of Human Sexuality and Impact on Society

by 

When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as ‘arbiters’ of the Divine plan and they ‘manipulate’ and degrade human sexuality – and with it themselves and their married partner – by altering its value of ‘total’ self-giving. Thus, the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.

— Pope St. John Paul II (Familiaris consortio, n.32)

 

Late last month The Washington Post ran a lengthy obituary upon the death of George Rosenkranz, a Hungarian-born chemist. You might be thinking that chemists aren’t usually the subject of lengthy articles in publications as prestigious as The Washington Post, and you’d be right. Rosenkranz, however, was world-famous due to his instrumental role in devising one of the most revolutionary drugs in all of human history – the birth control pill.

george rosenkranz
George Rosenkranz

Though responsibility for the invention of the pill can be attributed to a host of scientists, Rosenkranz was one of the first to create a synthetic version of the female hormone progesterone. Ironically, norethindrone – as the synthetic hormone was called – was initially intended to help prevent miscarriage. However, the pharmaceutical company that Rosenkranz worked for soon realized its potential as a contraceptive, and released their version of the pill in 1964, making the company (and Rosenkranz) immensely wealthy.

As The Washington Post summarizes, the release of the pill on the market was “a watershed moment in the feminist movement as well as the culture wars — allowing women to enjoy sex without fear of becoming pregnant, permitting couples to decide when and whether to begin families, and setting off an enduring debate about sexual values.”

It truly is hard to overstate the impact of the pill on our world. As Evangelical Pastor Albert Mohler observes in writing about the death of Rosenkranz, the invention of the pill is truly one of those rare events in history, the consequences of which are so seismic that it constitutes a dividing line – before the pill, and after the pill. Only in the 1960s, for the first time in human history, did humans widely have access to a relatively reliable method of separating sex from procreation. And, as Mohler observes, “once that separation took place, you basically redefined human sexuality.”

The Church was Right

The question that hangs over us to this day is whether this redefinition has been for good or for ill.  Dr. Rosenkranz himself seemed ambivalent about the question, focusing instead on the purely practical question of technical achievement. “I leave to others any debate about the ultimate worth of the pill,” he said, while receiving an honor from the University of Mexico in 2001 for his work.

It’s no secret that the Catholic Church, and a small number of other Christian denominations and thinkers, have consistently opposed artificial contraception. This opposition is often based on, or at least supported by the observation that separating sex from marriage and procreation has helped unleash a sexual revolution that has devastated traditional sexual ethics.

As Mohler notes, the pill not only enabled couples (more or less reliably) to control their fertility, “it also gave technological authorization to adultery and premarital sex and extramarital sex and just about everything you can imagine.”

The “everything you can imagine” includes a whole lot. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine, for example, the grotesque excesses of the LGBT movement – which were so prominently on display during last month’s “Pride” celebrations – and the widespread public support for them, without the redefinition of sexuality that the pill precipitated. Once sex became viewed as just another pleasurable pastime, rather than the immensely sacred, powerful, and private act by which a married couple express their love for one another and create new life, there was nothing stopping all manner of sexual excess – from the explosion of pornography, to the celebration of various deviant and violent sexual practices, to the systematic grooming of children through so-called “comprehensive sex education.”

George Rosenkranz is known as an inventor of the birth control pill.

However, the Church’s critique of contraception has always gone beyond concerns about sexual morality, to the far-reaching practical consequences. Many people scoffed at the Church’s claim that more contraception would lead to more abortion. It seemed self-evident to the early birth control pioneers that if women had the means to prevent unwanted pregnancy, then abortion rates would drop. What they didn’t account for was the way contraception would drastically alter sexual behavior. With routine casual sex becoming the norm, contraception’s “small” failure rate of several percent suddenly translated into millions of “unwanted pregnancies.” The result was that the abortion rate exploded even as the rate of contraceptive use increased.

The early birth control pioneers also failed to anticipate other dire consequences of the illusion of unfettered “sexual freedom,” both for the individual and society. Monsignor Pope recently summarized some of the these in an insightful article, writing:

Since contraception’s widespread use began, abortion has skyrocketed, as has divorce. Other consequences included an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (such as AIDS), teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, absent and irresponsible fathers, the breakdown of the families, and the poverty and dysfunction that goes with all of this. There is also a pornification of our culture that assists in spreading sexual confusion to include the celebration of homosexual acts and so-called transgenderism.

Growing Secular Opposition to Contraception?

Lately, however, I have noticed a fascinating trend. More and more non-religious people are starting to take note of the downsides to artificial contraception. In a surprising number of cases, they are instead turning their attention to natural methods of family planning. Case in point: the explosion of secular-developed mobile apps to assist women in fertility tracking. While in many cases the moral outlook of these developers doesn’t match Catholic teaching (for instance, they happily promote using barrier methods of contraception during fertile periods), it’s astonishing how many secular people seem to be coming to the same conclusions about the harms of contraception as the Catholic Church reached long ago.

Many women, for instance, are realizing that they disproportionately (indeed, almost entirely) bear the burdens and responsibilities that come with artificial contraception. Even worse, they are increasingly realizing that they are doing so in order that men can use them for meaningless sexual encounters that they are far less likely to desire in the first place.

Among the burdens born by women are the myriad side effects of pumping their bodies full of artificial hormones. One recent article in a widely-read secular German publication is titled “Depression and Suicide: The Dark Side of the Birth Control Pill.” The article focuses on the story of one woman who developed suicidal tendencies after going on the pill. But as the article observed, she’s far from alone. Indeed, it’s not hard to find forums online where thousands of women share terrifying and sometimes heart-breaking stories of emotional side effects they suffered once they went on birth control – severe depression, anxiety, mood swings, personality changes, loss of libido, and on and on.

woman with depression

Other side effects are less obvious, but possibly far more pervasive, and equally troubling. One study released earlier this year suggested that using hormonal contraceptives can interfere with women’s ability to detect emotional cues from others. While this is a relatively small study, it adds to the growing body of evidence that hormonal contraception interferes with women’s cognition and psychology in subtle ways that, multiplied hundreds of millions of times, may in fact be altering society in far more substantial ways than anyone realizes.

Some studies, for example, have suggested that the pill significantly affects how women perceive men as potential mates. This might not sound like a big deal. But as the authors of one study observed, “[T]he use of hormonal contraceptives may not only affect initial partner choice but also have unintended consequences for women’s relationship satisfaction if contraceptive pill use subsequently changes.” That is, women who were attracted to their partner while on the pill may suddenly find that the attraction changes or goes away when they cease using contraception. Again, multiply this effect potentially several hundred million times, and you see how the pill may be affecting lives and society in ways that the pill’s inventors never anticipated.

Other well-documented physical side effects from hormonal contraception include increased risks of certain types of cancer, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke, weight gain, headaches, nausea, and decreased libido.

Many women are now waking up to the fact that they have been the subjects of a vast, largely untested scientific and social experiment, often for the sake of the pleasure of others. And they are beginning (rightly) to ask themselves whether this is true female “empowerment.”

The Wisdom of the Church’s Teachings

pope st paul vi
Pope St. Paul VI, author of Humanae Vitae

In a way, it is easy to understand why contraception became as popular and widespread as it did, or why so many even within the Church urged Pope St. Paul VI to change Church teaching on contraception. All the pleasures of sex without any of the consequences? Who wouldn’t want that?

The problem, of course, is that the promises of contraception are a lie. The really Big Lie is that contraception eliminates the risk of pregnancy. It didn’t, and still doesn’t. Even the most effective methods of contraception have a failure rate. Even if only a few percent risk per year, that translates into an enormous number of unwanted pregnancies. The contraceptive mentality, and its false promise of total control, primes men and women to view these unwanted pregnancies as unjust encroachments on their freedom, instead of the natural consequences of their sexual behavior. Inevitably, many of them turn to abortion to fix the “problem.” Indeed, data suggests that a solid majority of abortions may involve women who were using contraception at the time they became pregnant.

However, the other Big Lie is that pregnancy is the only “consequence” of sex, and that once we get rid of that, sex can be rendered simply “fun.” As we are learning, the “contraceptive mentality” can change society. It fundamentally changes the way men and women relate to one another, the kinds of sexual behavior society deems acceptable, the way we pursue romance, the meaning of marriage, the values that people treasure, the education our children receive, the entertainment we watch, the structure of the family, the physical and psychological health of our populace. And on and on, into every aspect of society.

The Catholic Church saw all this from its very beginning. Pope St. Paul VI saw this when he resisted the immense pressure put on him to lift the Catholic prohibition on contraception, and instead upheld that teaching in Humanae vitae. Pope St. John Paul II saw this when he repeatedly and emphatically reemphasized the Church’s teaching, despite the reality of widespread dissent from Church teaching.

Herein we find one more proof of God’s providence operating through His Church – that despite the confusion in the world, the Church could chart a clear path through that fog of confusion, upholding a beacon of truth, showing Christian couples (indeed all couples) the way to contribute to a true “Civilization of Love.”

Midway through aborting, pregnant woman changes her mind and saves her twins

July 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Twin babies were saved when their mother changed her mind after beginning the process of a chemical abortion.

“Alexis” was around six weeks pregnant when she sought an abortion at Charlotte, North Carolina’s busiest abortion provider, A Preferred Women’s Health Center.

During an ultrasound, the technician casually remarked, “Oh, twins,” giving her pause, because she had always wanted twins.

While she processed the fact she was carrying twin babies, Alexis, a pseudonym, was given the first of two drugs in the chemical abortion process, along with the second dose to be taken in the next 48 hours.

As she left the abortion center, a sidewalk counselor was able to reach Alexis through her state of bewilderment and initiate the process of saving her twins.

“It might not be too late for you,” the counselor told her, “AbortionPillReversal.com, they can still help you save your baby.”

After Alexis left the abortion facility, she pulled into the nearest parking lot and searched on her phone for the website mentioned by the counselor and called the helpline, which coordinated assistance for her at a local pregnancy center.

“We got her started on the abortion pill reversal treatment extremely fast,” said Courtney Parks, abortion pill reversal coordinator for HELP Pregnancy Center. “It was a matter of hours.”

Alexis’s story was recently published by Pregnancy Help News and picked up by FoxNews.com.

The “abortion pill,” or RU-486, refers to a chemical abortion that uses two pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken first, destabilizing the pregnancy by blocking progesterone receptors and reducing progesterone levels in the mother’s blood. The abortion is then finished when misoprostol induces labor, forcing the mother’s body to expel the baby.

Abortion pill reversal treatment works by giving the mother extra progesterone up to 72 hours after she takes the first chemical abortion pill.

HELP medical director Matt Harrison and California physician George Delgado developed the reversal treatment over a decade ago.

The Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN) includes 450 professional health care providers in the U.S. and 11 other countries that assist women who call the helpline that Alexis had called. The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is a project of Heartbeat International, a global network of 2,600 pregnancy help organizations.

Acting within that 72-hour window is crucial, and Alexis was fortunate to make contact with the helpline early enough in that timeframe. Her twins are two of the 750 babies who have been saved by abortion pill reversal.

Once at her appointment with HELP Pregnancy Center, Parks and HELP sonographer Kelly Byrum gave Alexis what the abortion facility did not: the opportunity to see her babies on an ultrasound.

“They were tiny, little babies and they had beautiful, little heartbeats,” Parks said. “I just remember sitting with her in that ultrasound room and her crying, and just hoping that this would work for her so that she could save her babies.”

Parks saw to it that Alexis had follow-up ultrasound scans in the following several weeks, to be certain the babies were still healthy and thriving.

The abortion pill reversal protocol worked, and roughly a month later, the center connected her with a doctor who provided her with prenatal care for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Parks and his HELP team kept in touch with Alexis, throwing her a baby shower along with another ministry.

“She has had everything that these babies need for several years provided for her,” Parks said. “She told me, ‘If I had known what I know now and I had seen how the Lord has provided for these babies, I would have never even walked into that clinic.’ So she’s just been overwhelmed with just how good God has provided for her throughout this.”

HELP Pregnancy Center has seen four babies saved by the abortion reversal protocol.

The rest of Alexis’s pregnancy was otherwise uneventful, and she delivered her babies early this year.

Parks said Alexis is thriving as a single mother, and she has the support of her own mother, who moved in with her to assist with the twins.

Alexis “is just head over heels in love with these babies,” Parks said.

Byrum is glad for the awareness created for abortion pill reversal by Alexis’s story.

“It’s really neat that it’s getting some press now and people are becoming aware of it,” she said. “We have heard women come out of this [abortion] clinic that have told us that they told them inside that once you take this pill, there’s nothing you can do to reverse it, that it’s just not

Parks, one of 800 clinicians in the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, concurred.

“We really just hope that this brings awareness to abortion pill reversal and the fact that it does save lives,” she said.

The abortion reversal helpline number is (877) 558-0333. More information is available at AbortionPillReversal.com.

In imitation of the Sacred Heart

By Father Frank Pavone

I once heard a very young boy call out for his daddy in a beautiful, clear, and diminutive voice while he was playing. The father, moved by it, responded lovingly,“Yes, my heart?” And something about that interaction touched me. If that boy is his father’s heart, then he is the most important thing to him. The heart is the core or center of a person in a figurative way. And, in the most literal and physical sense, the
heart is the engine or the motor of the body. It pumps our entire lives, never sleeping. It keeps us alive. If a father can love his son to the core of his being so that he calls him his heart, then we can understand more how Jesus must love us.

In the image of the Sacred Heart, Christ extends to us His flaming heart that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to do the same.

One way this love is embodied is in prolife work. It is, at its essence, a work of self giving love for children in the womb who don’t even know we are loving them. And it is a lifesaving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ’s heart keeps on beating inside His body. So must we persevere within the Body of Christ.

And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of His body, and it is the body of God.The Feast of the Sacred Heart, and our devotion to that heart throughout the year, bring to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, pro-lifework is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which He shows us in His Body.

Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; His heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as being single-mindedly concerned with saving babies and nothing more. This claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to everybody. Rachel’s Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them a voice and a vote. This is the work of mercy.

Jesus said He is meek and humble of heart, and this also brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of pro choice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God’s will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly. A story recently broke about an Olympic athlete who discovered she was pregnant weeks before the Olympics. Blindsided and panicked by the pregnancy, she hastily aborted so she couldparticipate in the Olympics. But the decision was met with instant regret. She and the father realized that what they decided demonstrated a desire to control their circumstances. She wishes she had had a more open heart.

The Sacred Heart is a welcoming and open heart.It welcomes the unexpected. When we have Jesus’ heart, we see Him in the stranger. We must not treat our children as strangers in the womb, but we must welcome them as if we were welcoming Christ. We make room for the woman in crisis as if we were welcoming Christ. We open our hearts to the brokenhearted who regret their abortions. And we even open our hearts to those who have yet to see the error of their ways. We see Christ in each of these and we choose love.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and our worship of that heart,represent the heart of the pro-life movement, and enable us to be transformed according to that heart. Every aspect of the pro-life movement is motivated by love, and that’s why we can be confident of victory, for“Love is stronger than death, more powerful even than hell” (Song of Songs 8:6). Sacred Heart of Jesus, lead us to the victory of life and of love!

The Crohn’s-Birth Control Connection: More Gut-Wrenching News About Contraceptives

by Grace Stark

We’ve already talked a bit here at Natural Womanhood about how the Pill can negatively affect your gut health. So for our regular readers, it should come as no surprise that the development of Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, has been linked to the use of oral contraceptives since researchers and physicians first began observing the connection in the 1970s.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, autoimmune disease, crohn's disease, crohn's disease and birth control, hormonal birth control side effects, The Pill, The Pill side effects, oral contraception, oral contraception side effects, lupus,

Crohn’s disease can be a painful, debilitating, and even life-threatening disease for those affected by it. According to the Mayo Clinic, the chronic inflammation of the bowel in Crohn’s disease can “lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.” The exact cause of the disease is unknown—researchers are divided on whether the chronic inflammation of Crohn’s is due to the immune system attacking itself or something else within the gut—but heredity and risk factors like smoking and obesity seem to play a role in the development of Crohn’s.

Although the incidence of Crohn’s among young women spiked disproportionately to the incidence in young men after the widespread introduction of the birth-control pill in the 1970s, today the disease affects men and women at mostly equal rates. However, a recent study out of Australia found evidence that for reasons as yet unknown, women with Crohn’s tend to fare worse than do men with Crohn’s, facing more complications, more hospitalizations, and less chance of remission. The chief investigator of the study, Professor Rupert Leong, posited that “hormonal differences may also account for the accelerated disease progression seen in women,” citing the “weak association” found between the use of oral contraceptive pill and the onset of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s.

Weak association or not, research both old and new continues to reveal some link between the development of Crohn’s and contraception use. A recent, large-scale study from Harvard researchers found that American women who had used the birth-control pill (or morning after pill/Plan B) for five or more years were three times more likely to develop Crohn’s disease. The same researchers found an association between long-term contraception use and increased risk for surgery among Swedish women with established Crohn’s disease. Lead researcher Dr. Hamed Khalili stresses that a combination of genetic factors and contraception use is likely at play in the development of Crohn’s, and recommends that physicians take into account family and personal history of Crohn’s when considering prescribing hormonal contraception to patients.

The Bigger Picture

As I mentioned in my piece detailing the connection between birth control and Lupusresearch continues to uncover the effects of hormones on the immune system. The colon is chock-full of estrogen receptors, and synthetic hormones are known to affect both the gut’s permeability and microbiome. The Pill’s deleterious effects on the gut may be the culprit behind an entire cadre of digestive issues in women, ranging from the annoying (like bloating and irregularity), to the downright dangerous (like Crohn’s and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO)—some of which may be reversed, and some of which could be permanent.

As more evidence comes to light about the Pill’s effects on the gut (and in turn, the immune system) more women (and especially women with a family history of immune diseases) should seriously consider non-hormonal family planning options like Natural Family Planning and Fertility-Awareness Based Methods.

Compatible with life: Man with Trisomy 18 celebrates 18th birthday against all odds

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Told that her son would never survive after he was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, Marta Johnson McClanahan couldn’t hold back her joy at the fact that her baby boy just turned 18. She turned to Facebook to share her excitement in an emotional post.

“Screaming from the top of my lungs HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY to my amazing, STRONG and happy boy Kayden! To think we were told he wouldn’t live,” she wrote. “He sure has proved them all wrong!”

McClanahan explains that Kayden has had the odds stacked against him his entire life, but that the doctors were wrong about both his quantity and quality of life. She says he has truly 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, sharing photos of Kayden throughout this life. She also thanks God for Kayden and for allowing her to care for him.

“We are all so very blessed and pray we have many more years with him,” she said.

Many doctors consider children with Trisomy 18 to be “incompatible with life” and tell parents that their children will die at birth or shortly after. However, it has come to light in recent years that not only are children with Trisomy 18 compatible with life but that when they receive proper health care, they can and do thrive.

Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella has Trisomy 18 and recently turned 11 years old. Her mother calls her “the happiest little girl in the world.” Little Evelyn received a similar prognosis when doctors diagnosed her with Trisomy 18 in the womb. Doctors told her parents that “everything is wrong” with her and that they couldn’t keep their daughter. Now Evelyn is a big sister who is proving the doctors wrong.

trisomy 18

Despite how well these children are doing, parents of children with Trisomy 18 have discovered, to their horror, that doctors will initiate what’s known as “slow code” when they have a child with the condition under their care. Put simply, in this situation, medical personnel avoid taking measures to save the child’s life or treat underlying health conditions, yet act as if they are taking steps to help. Parents of children with Trisomy 18 must find a doctor they can trust.

Kayden is proving that not only can doctors be wrong, but that every human being has value regardless of any health condition they may have. Each person has his or her own gifts to bring to the world — even those who may live shorter than average lives.

Trojan horse: New ‘TelAbortion’ abortion pill clinical trial skirts FDA regulations

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Is a ‘TelAbortion’ (telemedicine abortion pill) FDA clinical trial actually a Trojan horse intended to skirt important abortion pill safety requirements put in place under the FDA? Live Action News has been analyzing the effort to expand abortion, and has documented the various abortion pill collaboratorsworking behind the scenes on various clinical trialsstudies (read more here) and funding streams, which all happen to be closely connected. In addition, Live Action News has documented the push for illegal dispensing of the dangerous pills and the effort to discredit abortion pill reversal. Now, we’ve analyzed changes reported under the Direct-To-Consumer protocol (pills sent via mail after a TelAbortion or telemedicine interview) and are seeing that FDA regulations are being skirted in the name of continually broadening “clinical trials.”

BACKGROUND: 

  • The abortion pill regimen is made up of two drugs: Mifeprex and Misoprostol.
  • Mifeprex was approved in 2000.
  • It was brought to the U.S. by the eugenics-founded Population Council.
  • The pill’s manufacturer, DANCO Laboratories, is a highly secretive company.
  • The Packard Foundation and other pro-abortion philanthropy groups seeded DANCO.
  • Packard is now funding groups and studies that claim abortion pill expansion is safe.

Image: Packard Foundation invested in abortion pill manufacturer DANCO (Image: David and Lucile Packard Foundation )

Packard Foundation invested in abortion pill manufacturer DANCO (Image: David and Lucile Packard Foundation )

FDA’s SAFETY REQUIREMENTS KNOWN AS REMS:

The FDA currently requires Mifeprex to be placed under a safety system called REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy), which is a “safety strategy to manage a known or potential serious risk associated with a medicine and to enable patients to have continued access to such medicines by managing their safe use.”

Under the REMS Program, the FDA states, “Mifeprex and the approved generic version of Mifeprex”…

  • … [may] only be supplied directly to healthcare providers who are certified to prescribe the drug product and who meet certain qualifications.
  • … are only available to be dispensed in certain healthcare settings, specifically, clinics, medical offices and hospitals, by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber.
  • … are not available in retail pharmacies and are not legally available over the Internet.

Without REMS, abortion pills could be ordered online, picked up at any pharmacy, and prescribed by any health care provider.

Image: TalAbortion a workaround abortion laws

TelAbortion a workaround abortion laws

TELABORTION CLINICAL TRIAL:

In theory, clinical trials are used to test a specific drug and hopefully alleviate safety issues that arise. But with expansion of this abortion pill clinical trial there is a growing concern it is less of a clinical trial and more of a permanent way to skirt the FDA’s REMS system. In fact, a recent interview with the co-leader of this Gynuity sponsored trial, Erica Chong, by the online media group Fast Company, noted, “The hope is to get enough providers on board so TelAbortion can eventually go from research study to full-blown service.”

The TelAbortion clinical trial was announced in 2015. When the (then cohort) clinical trial began recruiting in 2016, they anticipated an enrollment of 50 participants with eligibility ages between (believe it or not) 11 to 50 years old and an estimated completion that same year.

In 2016, there were only two locations for the trial listed, as seen in the screen below.

Image: TelAbortion screen from 2016 two locations

TelAbortion screen from 2016 two locations

However, as of the date of this article (June 2019) the now defined “case-only” (instead of “cohort”) clinical trial currently intends to enroll 1,000 participants with age eligibility as young as 10 years old. Why Gynuity Health Projects moved the recruitment age even lower is not stated, but this is concerning, given past abuses by abortion facilities and Planned Parenthood centers’ failure to report child sexual abuse, along with potential violations of parental consent and notification laws in certain states.

Image: Feasibility TelAbortion clinical trial ages 10 to 50 accessed June 20 2019

Feasibility TelAbortion clinical trial ages 10 to 50 accessed June 20 2019

In addition to those changes, the completion date continues to be pushed out, and is currently set for June of 2020. There is also a growing list of locations (see below), enabling the abortion pill to be dispensed even more widely, without existing REMS safety requirements.

In other words, the study just keeps getting bigger and broader, with no FDA safety requirements in place.

Locations:

  • Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (Denver, CO, and New Mexico)
  • Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR, and Washington)
  • Oregon Health and Sciences University Women’s Health Research Unit (Portland, OR, and Washington)
  • Carafem (Atlanta, GA)
  • Maine Family Planning (Augusta, ME)
  • The University of Hawaii Women’s Options Centers (Honolulu, HI)
  • Choices Women’s Medical Center (Jamaica, New York)

The aforementioned media group, Fast Company, noted another “workaround” to existing laws, writing:

In some cases, TelAbortion providers are physically located in one state but licensed in another, which allows them to reach clients there as well…. TelAbortion obviously cannot expand into states where telemedicine abortion is illegal, but one workaround Chong is exploring is to introduce the program in neighboring states. “If we can get into a neighboring state, it’s possible for a woman in Texas, for example, to maybe cross the border into New Mexico,” Chong says. “She can have her consult there, and then pick up her package at a Fedex office that’s holding the package for her, or something like that.”

These kind of “workarounds” to intentionally bypass existing laws and safety regulations are clearly not the intention of any FDA clinical trial.

Image: TalAbortion locations screen accessed of June 20 2019

TelAbortion locations screen accessed of June 20 2019

Abortion generally is not without complication or risks. Recently, the FDA updated its adverse effects reports through 2018, revealing 24 deaths of women associated with the abortion pill since it’s  September 2000 approval.  To date, the report documents nearly 4,200 reported adverse effects, including hospitalization and other serious complications. But under 2016 changes, the drug’s manufacturer, DANCOno longer has to report non-fatal adverse effects, so we can only imagine what the number really is.

Overpopulation? No, “The World Might Actually Run Out of People”

MICHAEL COOK   JUN 24, 2019

Population growth can have an impact on controversial bioethical issues like abortion, contraception, aged care and euthanasia. That’s why a projection of world population trends from United Nations, released this week, should be of great interest.

There are no big surprises, but the UN has revised its projections downward. Two years ago, it predicted that global population in 2100 would be 11.2 billion. The 2019 projection is only 10.9 billion.

Below are the UN’s 10 take-aways from the report.

The UN’s figures are not definitive. In fact, there are dissidents who believe that the UN is seriously overstating population growth. While the UN projects that world population will peak and begin to stablilize or decline in 2100, others think that decline will begin as early as 2050. Even the UN acknowledges that there is “roughly a 27 per cent chance that the world’s population could stabilize or even begin to decrease sometime before 2100.” For more on this, read Wired’s review of the book Empty Planet – which is headlined, chillingly, “The world might actually run out of people”.

* * * * * * *

1. The world’s population continues to increase, but growth rates vary greatly across regions. The world’s population is projected to grow from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 8.5 billion in 2030 (10% increase), and further to 9.7 billion in 2050 (26%) and to 10.9 billion in 2100 (42%). The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050 (99%). Other regions will see varying rates. These include Australia and New Zealand (28%) and Europe and Northern America (both 2%).

2. Nine countries will make up more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050. The largest increases in population between 2019 and 2050 will take place in: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the US (in descending order of the expected increase). Around 2027, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.

3. Rapid population growth presents challenges for sustainable development. Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty, achieve greater equality, combat hunger and malnutrition, and strengthen the coverage and quality of health and education systems.

4. In some countries, growth of the working-age population is creating opportunities for economic growth. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, and in parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, recent reductions in fertility have caused the population at working ages (25-64 years) to grow faster than at other ages, creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth.

5. Globally, women are having fewer babies, but fertility rates remain high in some parts of the world. Today, close to half of all people globally live in a country or area where fertility is below 2.1 births per woman over a lifetime. The global fertility rate, which fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019, is projected to decline further to 2.2 in 2050.

6. People are living longer, but those in the poorest countries still live 7 years less than the global average. Life expectancy at birth for the world, which increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 72.6 years in 2019, is expected to increase further to 77.1 years in 2050.

7. The world’s population is growing older, with persons over age 65 being the fastest-growing age group. By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%). Regions where the share of the population aged 65 years or over is projected to double between 2019 and 2050 include Northern Africa and Western Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

8. Falling proportions of working-age people are putting pressure on social protection systems. The potential support ratio, which compares numbers of working-age people aged 25-64 to those over age 65, is falling around the world. In Japan, this ratio is 1.8, the lowest in the world. An additional 29 countries, mostly in Europe and the Caribbean, already have potential support ratios below three. By 2050, 48 countries, mostly in Europe, Northern America, and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, are expected to have potential support ratios below two.

9. A growing number of countries are experiencing a reduction in population size. Since 2010, 27 countries or areas have experienced a reduction in the size of their populations of 1% or more. This is caused by low levels of fertility and, in some places, high rates of emigration. Between 2019 and 2050, populations are projected to decrease by 1% or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10%. In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or 2.2%, between 2019 and 2050.

10. Migration has become a major component of population change. Between 2010 and 2020, Europe and Northern America, Northern Africa and Western Asia, and Australia and New Zealand will be net receivers of international migrants, while other regions will be net senders.

LifeNews Note: Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge where this story appeared.

Embryo adoption agency celebrates 800 births, but embryos remain frozen

 

The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) of Knoxville Tennessee recently gathered families from around the country to celebrate the 800th birth of a child conceived by a donated embryo through the clinic. WATE 6 reports that the group has been collecting leftover embryos for 16 years.

NEDC president Dr. Jeffrey Keenan told the news station, “It’s been exciting, it’s been awesome. It’s in some respects put Knoxville on the map, as far as a fertility destination because many of these families, to be honest are out of options and don’t have really any other good option for conceiving except to come here and receive donated embryos.”

Many people view in-vitro fertilization (IVF) as a positive scientific development that has allowed many couples struggling with infertility to conceive children. But this rosy view ignores the serious ethical problems with IVF, which include treating children as manufactured goods.

READ: Woman conceived via IVF: The means don’t justify the end, even if the end was me

Reporting on NEDC’s celebration, the reporter said, “Many people attending the event are alive because of the donated embryos.” Meanwhile, the remaining embryos, also created outside the womb and kept frozen, are also alive. They are in suspended animation, frozen indefinitely and treated as products to be discarded, made into jewelry, or traded for a more desirable offering. The NEDC estimates there are at least 700,000, and possibly more than 1 million, “surplus” embryos currently frozen in the United States.

 

The NEDC states, “Many biological parents store their frozen embryos for future use. But when those parents have completed their families, they must decide what to do with their remaining embryos. Donating them to another infertile couple is an increasingly popular option. It benefits both the genetic family and the recipient family.”

These types of donations are sometimes called “snowflake adoptions,” referring to the unique and unrepeatable attributes of each individual child frozen at the embryonic stage. Embryo adoption can be a way to recognize the human dignity of children through IVF, but there are still myriad ethical concerns with the process.

The NEDC’s celebration of 800 births demonstrates the massive scale of the unintended consequences of IVF: the hundreds of thousands of children kept frozen indefinitely. Couples struggling with the heartbreak of infertility deserve to know the full consequences of undergoing IVF before they make a decision, and they deserve to know that there are ethical alternatives.

After HHS Decision on Aborted Fetal Tissue, Will Ethical Vaccines Get a Boost?

Peter Jesserer Smith

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – APRIL 26: In this photo illustration a one dose bottle of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine, made by MERCK, is held up at the Salt Lake County Health Department on April 26, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — As part of its push to eliminate or greatly restrict federal funds involved with fetal-tissue research, the Trump administration canceled a medical research contract with the University of California, where fetal cells were infused with mouse immune systems.

The June 5 decision from the Department of Health and Human Services is the latest example of the administration pledging to find “adequate alternatives” to research that has depended on fetal tissue and to make sure “efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.”

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

The announcement may give hope for Catholics that the time has come to push for the development or distribution of ethical vaccines whose source cells did not involve the taking of a human life by abortion.

Most vaccines are derived from ethically derived sources, such as animal or insect cell lines, and not from unborn children whose tissues were harvested following elective abortions. But a number of vaccines Americans rely on today, such as the Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, are derived from cell lines whose origins go back to the tissues of unborn children aborted decades ago.

In Kentucky, Jerome Kunkel, a Catholic high-school senior at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton, refused a chicken pox vaccine for this reason, citing his objections to abortion.

He sued the Northern Kentucky Health Department after it barred him from going to school for several months due to concerns over possible contagion from his lack of a chicken pox vaccination. Kunkel came down with chicken pox in May and since returned to class.

The Catholic Church opposes using fetal tissue derived from abortion for medical research and vaccine development. However, the Church also recognizes that in the absence of ethically sourced alternatives, parents and individuals may use those vaccines until an alternative is available, explained Jozef Zalot, staff ethicist at the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center.

A 2005 instruction from the Pontifical Academy for Life stated that people who have no access to ethically sourced vaccines would be “right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health.”

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life explained that there is “proportional reason” to use such vaccines “on a temporary basis” to avoid considerable dangers to public health, particularly in the case of diseases such as rubella (German measles), which is fatal to unborn children. It said “the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population — especially with regard to pregnant women,” but this unjust situation of forcing parents or individuals to violate their consciences through passive material cooperation to avoid worse evils “must be eliminated as soon as possible” by production of ethically derived alternatives.

Zalot explained that while Catholics have a moral responsibility to communicate their demand for ethical alternatives to vaccines derived from fetal tissue, the burden of responsibility increases for those in positions of power and authority. He pointed to leaders of Catholic health care systems that have contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars with pharmaceutical companies that provide such vaccines as one example.

Catholic health care systems, Zalot said, “have some clout, and because of that, I would say their moral responsibility to call for ethically sourced vaccines is greater than [that of] your typical John Q. Public.”

 

Generating Grassroots Pressure

Dr. Barbara Golder, the editor in chief of The Linacre Quarterly and a member of the Catholic Medical Association, said that because the vaccine issue is one of moral law and not spiritual matters, Catholics need to make sure the discussion on ethical alternatives to vaccines derived from fetal tissue does not get confined to the Catholic or religious world, but is part of the general conversation.

However, she said Catholics should arm their advocacy with awareness about the alternatives in existence and make sure their allies in the pro-life movement are informed about them. Golder said there is also more at stake than the ethical source of the vaccine.

“It is unreasonable to put a patient in the position of choosing to violate his conscience for an essential medical procedure, in this case, vaccination,” Golder said.

Golder, however, cautioned that refusing to take vaccines at all is “counterproductive.”

“The rising incidence of vaccine refusal is leading in some places to an elimination of exemptions altogether, which undermines the argument for religious conscience in general,” she said.

Conversations about ethical alternatives could build to grassroots-level engagement that could “involve medical societies, large practices or other community groups.”

She said Catholics — and other people of goodwill — should be informed about ethical vaccines and “ask for them by name when the time comes” to one’s physician, pharmacist or health department. She recommended rewarding practices that provide ethical vaccines and protesting when “alternative vaccines are not available because the hospital, practice or insurance company has elected not to cover them.”

Golder suggested that Catholic physicians, organizations and institutions should become intentional about getting behind this effort. Universities might also have the heft to raise funds to support ethical vaccine development.

But she said it is important for Catholics to speak up and organize to generate “a growing sense of demand that can’t be ignored” so lawmakers and policymakers can act on the development of ethical alternatives.

“We have a responsive administration just now — it makes sense to take advantage of it,” she said.

Some in Congress have echoed similar sentiments in welcoming the Trump administration’s HHS decision.

“Ethical scientific practices are paramount to discovery, but they should never include the harvesting of developing baby hearts, eyes, livers and brains following elective abortions,” U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said in a statement.

 

Toward Newer, Ethical Vaccines

The Trump administration’s decision to close the federal spigots on fetal-tissue research could help vaccine development stay focused on vaccines that are not only ethically sourced, but far more effective in the long run.

Tara Sander Lee, a senior fellow and director of life sciences at the Washington-based Charlotte Lozier Institute, told the Register that the new Ebola and shingles vaccines, engineered with Vero monkey cell line and engineered hamster cells respectively, have proven more effective than their fetal-tissue based alternatives. Lee said the new Ebola vaccine proved to be 97% effective, and Shingrex (the new vaccine for shingles) showed “greater than 90% effectiveness.”

Lee said scientific research is demonstrating that the new vaccines from animal cells are just as effective, if not more so, than the ones derived from fetal cells. She noted that none of the vaccines currently in use today by Americans are affected by the decision to close off fetal-tissue research.

“The vast majority of vaccines are already being produced with ethical alternatives [to fetal tissue],” she said, such as monkey kidneys, insect cells or Chinese hamster cells.

Scientists in the past have used fetal cell lines because fetal cells replicate much faster than adult tissues when it comes to cultivating vaccines. But Lee said they were not the exclusive source — vaccines such as for polio now use animal cells.

Lee also pointed out that there are more ethical alternatives that have been developed, but they are not available in the U.S.

“There is an ethical version for MMR [Measles, Mumps and Rubella], but it is only available in Japan,” she said. Japan’s rubella vaccine is derived from quail egg and rabbit cell lines.

However, she said companies like Merck are reluctant to reformulate vaccines or get the Food and Drug Administration to approve distribution of ethical vaccines when they see no financial incentive to do so.

Stopping this practice of fetal tissue-based research now, with renewed pressure from the administration, Lee said, would encourage scientists to focus their research on non-fetal-tissue-based alternatives that make more effective vaccines in the long run.

“There’s no need for them to continue to use these fetal cell lines from abortions that took place back in the ’60s. There’s just no need,” she said.

“The newer, most advanced way is using ethical vaccines.”

Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer.

Teen’s birth control triggers stroke

Anicka Slachta | Vascular & Endovascular

A Wisconsin high schooler is speaking up for stroke awareness after she suffered a stroke of her own during gym class, WAOW reported—an event her doctors said was brought on by her birth control pills.

Like two-thirds of women her age and up, Hannah Drummond, 18, was prescribed birth control with low expectations of any serious side effects. Loyola University Medical Center researchers previously found women who don’t have any other medical problems are safe to take the pill, but in those with comorbidities, it can be a riskier call.

Drummond was taken to the hospital after experiencing numbness and tingling during her gym class, quickly learning she’d suffered a stroke. Her care team said the culprit was her birth control, and that the estrogen in her pills had caused a blood clot that then slipped through a previously undiscovered hole in her heart and up to her brain.

“It was actually scary knowing I was so young, I’m 18, this is happening to me,” she told WAOW. “If you don’t feel something is right, say something, tell someone.”

Drummond is still suffering from impaired vision but is expected to make a full recovery.

Read the full story below:

Authorities Fail to Curb Ever-Worsening STD Epidemic

by 

The promotion of promiscuity through comprehensive sex education and condom-distribution campaigns is continuing to fuel an STD epidemic that is now seeing more than one million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and diseases (STDs) every year.

According to the AFP, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expressing alarm over the lack of progress in curbing the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases worldwide since 2012.

“WHO found that there were more than 376 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis and syphilis registered around the world in 2016 — the latest year for which data is available,” the AFP reports. “That is basically the same number as WHO reported in its previous study, based on data from 2012.”

The WHO, which promotes comprehensive sex education and condom distribution rather than abstinence as a way to fight this epidemic, now blames the continued spread of these infections on dating apps and a more complacent attitude about the spread of HIV because of new antiviral drugs that have proven to be very effective.

People are “more complacent about protection,” said Teodora Wi, a WHO expert on STIs, which she believes is dangerous because this attitude is coming at a time when “sex is becoming more accessible (through things like) dating apps”.

Peter Salama, WHO’s executive director of Universal Health Coverage, expressed concern over the “lack of progress” in stemming the tide of these diseases and infections, and called the latest numbers to be a “wake-up call” for authorities.

The numbers are indeed grave. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, an estimated 127 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 were infected with chlamydia. Another 87 million contracted gonorrheoea, and 6.3 million contracted syphilis. In addition, 156 million were infected with trichomoniasis, a parasital disease commonly called “trich.”

This amounts to one in 25 people globally that have at least one of these STIs.

What makes these diseases so difficult to prevent through mere comprehensive sex education and condom distribution campaigns is because some have no early symptoms. This means people who are engaging in casual sex unwittingly spread the diseases which, if left untreated, can lead to serious conditions. These include infertility, stillbirth, neurological and cardiovascular disease, as well as increased risk of contracting HIV.

The only real way to stop the spread of STIs and STDs is to promote abstinence until marriage, but the WHO is once again choosing to follow the same failed path by recommending regular screening and the proper use of condoms. They tend to promote comprehensive sexual education, which supposedly contains abstinence-only material, but analyses of these programs finds that only a small percentage of the content is actually devoted to authentic abstinence education.

How many more young lives will be ruined before officials at the World Health Organization hear this “wake-up call” for what it is – a call to admit that their strategies are failing and the time has come to challenge youth to live chastely until marriage?

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

Can Hormonal Birth Control Trigger Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

by Grace Stark

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease (AI) that attacks the central nervous system, often to the point of causing severe disability. It is also a disease that has always loomed large in my life. My paternal grandmother had MS, and it caused her to be bed-ridden from the time my dad was a small boy, until her death when he was in his early 20s. Various aunts and uncles have also been diagnosed with MS, and I know I am not the only one among my cousins who lives with the fear of receiving that diagnosis someday, too.

So you can imagine that I try to do what I can to avoid triggering the monster that might very well be lying dormant in my genes. After all, the prevailing theory is that for an autoimmune disease to occur, one must have the right (or rather, wrong) genetics, and that some “triggering event” must occur to spring the disease into action. Different theories abound about what the different triggers may be, but one theory has not been given nearly enough light: the possibility of hormonal contraception as an autoimmune trigger.

In the past few months at Natural Womanhood, we’ve already covered how birth control can possibly trigger other immune/autoimmune diseases like Lupus, and the potential way it triggers MS is much the same.

As guest author Mike Gaskins wrote for Natural Womanhood:

“When our body’s natural estrogens attach to receptors on T cells (the “soldiers” of the immune system), it arms the soldiers and gives them their marching orders. Natural estrogen basically points out the invader and triggers the command to attack. But when disruptive agents that mimic natural estrogen enter our body, they attach to the receptors. Suddenly, the soldier is armed but doesn’t know what to attack because the synthetic estrogens don’t carry the code our natural estrogen would have provided. This can cause the armed immune system to battle our body’s healthy tissue, which will result in an AI for those who are genetically predisposed.”

In the case of MS, the immune system attacks myelin within the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Myelin is “the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers—as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin.” So who—or rather, what—is giving the orders for the body’s attack on the central nervous system when it comes to MS? The cause is still unknown, but perhaps clues can be found in the way the disease disproportionately affects women, especially keeping in mind the role estrogen plays in the immune response.

Multiple Sclerosis Disproportionately Affects Women

In general, most AIs affect women more greatly in severity and/or number of cases, and MS is no different. Researchers have found that while MS has always disproportionately affected women, the gap in incidence (number of new cases) between women and men has widened considerably in the last five decades. This suggests that a possible environmental factor is at play, and it just so happens that the increased incidence of MS in women (especially as compared to men) coincides with the widespread use of hormonal contraceptives.

While this might seem like a leap in logic to some, others have noted that as we learn more about the role of estrogen on the gut—and particularly, the huge number of immune receptors located in the gut—we’ve also learned a bit more about autoimmunity’s “female” preference.

Data from a 2014 Kaiser Permanente Southern California study backs up the theory of hormonal contraceptives as a possible MS trigger:

Researchers identified 305 women who had been diagnosed with MS or its precursor, clinically isolated syndrome, during a three-year period from the membership of Kaiser Permanente Southern California and who had been members for at least three years before the MS symptoms began. Then they compared them to 3,050 women who did not have MS . . .

Women who had used hormonal contraceptives were 35 percent more likely to develop MS than those who did not use them. Those who had used the contraceptives but had stopped at least one month before symptoms started were 50 percent more likely to develop MS.

So while autoimmune diseases presents a unique mix of genetic, epidemiological, and environmental factors, perhaps there is something to the theory that the synthetic estrogens from hormonal birth control—which our bodies and environment have been awash in for more than fifty years, now—could be the culprit behind skyrocketing rates of autoimmune diseases (and especially so in women).

Whether or not the birth control-MS link is substantiated further, I’m thankful that, with 50 million Americans currently suffering from an autoimmune disease, and a known genetic link to the disease in my own recent family history, I have ways to plan my family that are both effective and hormone-free. Of course, Ican’t do much about the synthetic estrogens polluting our environment—and, in particular, our water—but at least I know that in foregoing hormonal contraception in favor of a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) of family planning or Natural Family Planning (NFP), I’m not taking a Pill, receiving an injection, or carrying an implant that is exposing me daily to a substance that could seriously affect my health.

Where Many Fear to Tread, One Shepherd Dares to Go

by 

Organizers of “Gay Pride” events have successfully conditioned the media and the public to talk about these parades as if they were simply celebrations of “equality.” However, even some people who are fully on board with the LGBT agenda have pointed out the obvious: these parades are often less about celebrating equality than they are about celebrating promiscuous sex – the more debauched the better.

A few years ago an openly homosexual columnist in a major Canadian newspaper defended themuch-derided declaration by Toronto’s former mayor that the world-famous Toronto Pride parade is just an event where “middle-aged men with pot bellies” run down the street “buck naked.” “I’d say that was just an accurate description of what goes on,” admitted Josh DehaasDisturbingly, more and more parents are bringing young children to watch the parade, exposing them to provocative displays of sexuality that no child should witness. If a politician believes in family values, why would he or she want to be associated with such debauchery?”

Truth be told, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that any parent, no matter how liberal, would bring their kids to these parades. A lot of things happen at so-called “gay pride” parades that aren’t fit for polite adult conversation, let alone for the eyes of children. It seems to me that keeping Pride parades child-free should be something that liberals and conservatives could easily agree on. After all, what benefit could there possibly be to exposing children to public nudity, simulated sex acts, highly sexualized displays of affection and dancing, etc.?

Alas, there is no such common ground to be found. After all, we now live in a world where parents openly and proudly encourage their three and four-year-old children to explore “diverse” sexualities, helping them cross-dress in sexually provocative clothing, or bring their pre-pubescent children to gay bars to dance for money, or to appear on national TV shows, where they are lauded and feted by sycophantic hosts and cheering audiences. Furthermore, we have now reached a point where even the mildest expression of dissent from even the most extreme instantiations of the LGBT agenda is greeted with rage

Bishop Tobin’s Tweet

Recently, one of the United States’ Catholic bishops learned the hard way just how bad things have gotten. One June 1, the first day of a month that has been coopted as “Pride month” by LGBT activist, Bishop Thomas Tobin sent out a tweet reminding Catholics that they should not be supporting or attending “Pride” events, which, he said, “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals.” Such events “are especially harmful for children,” noted the bishop.

bishop tobin tweet
Courtesy of Twitter

The response to this rather mild tweet was extraordinary. As of this writing, there are over 95,000 responses to the tweet – the vast majority of which are deeply, even violently critical. For simply doing the bare minimum of what his job entails – i.e., stating and defending what the Catholic Church believes and has always taught – the bishop found himself in the international spotlightportrayed as an odious purveyor of hatred and bigotry.

Articles about his tweet appeared on CNN, The Daily Mail, the Irish Post, and countless other news publications. Famous actors and actresses took to Twitter to vent their outrage. The mayor of Providence Rhode Island, and the governor of the state, both issued statements condemning the bishop’s remark. One of the priests in Bishop Tobin’s own diocese was featured in numerous news articles, after he pleaded with homosexual parishioners not to leave the Church over the bishop’s tweet.

The next day, Bishop Tobin issued a statement expressing “regret,” not so much for the tweetitself, as the way it was received. “The Catholic Church has respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I,” the bishop stated. “Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and our brothers and sisters.” However, he added, “As a Catholic Bishopmy obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues.”

The Lessons WCan Learn

This disturbing episode is illuminating in more ways than one. Unfortunately, some of the lessons to be learned are far from encouraging.

In the first place, it seems that we are now at a point in which a completely straight-forward, non-emotional, impersonal, and non-confrontational expression of Catholic teaching – and, for that matter, moral common sense – is widely viewed as de facto intolerance, bigotry and hatred. The organized venom aimed at Bishop Tobin is – and, one suspects, was meant to be – a message sent to every faithful Christian in the country: the mere fact that you believe what Christians have always believed about sexuality makes you an enemy and a persona non grata. Either change your views and conform or be prepared to be hounded into silence.

Bishop Tobin of the Diocese of Providence (courtesy of LifeSite News)

Indeed, the thing that stands out most strongly to me is how mild Bishop Tobin’s tweet was. To anyone with an ounce of common sense, it is clear that Gay Pride parades are harmful to the innocence of children. And to anyone who understands an iota of Catholic moral teaching, it is clear that Gay Pride parades are completely incompatible with life as a faithful Catholic. Bishop Tobin stated both of these facts in a calm, straightforward manner, without a hint of animosity. He was, in other words, doing what any priest or bishop charged with leading a flock should be expected to be doing on a regular basis – instructing the faithful in how to be better Catholics. Given the filth that young children are routinely exposed to at these parades, the bishop could easily have been justified in using stronger language.

As Catholic journalist Phil Lawler recently observed, “what is remarkable about Bishop Tobin’s tweet is that it was so unusual—that other bishops and pastors have not routinely issued similar cautions.” Indeed, one discouraging effect of Bishop Tobin’s tweet has been to highlight how rare it has become for Catholic shepherds to speak unpopular moral truths, particularly on sexual matters. If our priests and bishops were routinely catechizing the faithful on the totality of Catholic moral teaching, then the media would have had a very difficult time making Bishop Tobin’s tweet into a national story. Instead, the good bishop would have been just one among countless other bishops and priests saying exactly the same thing.

We are awash in extremist LGBT propaganda. This is especially true now, in this month of June, when nearly all the large corporations use LGBT-themed marketing, which fills our streets and airwaves. Understandably, many Catholics in the pews simply don’t know what to think, or how to respond. They do not realize how Catholic teaching is grounded in an authentic compassion for homosexual individuals, or how Catholic teaching promotes the happiness and flourishing of individuals and societies by showing how God’s gift of sexuality is best put to use: in a loving union of a man and a woman oriented towards the begetting and raising of children. In the absence of clear voices from the pulpit presenting Catholic teaching in a compelling and unapologetic way, many Catholics are simply being swept away by the prevailing message in the culture. They feel overwhelmed, confused, and brow beaten.

There is a very real human cost to this silence! As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in the “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons”:

“[W]e wish to make it clear that departure from the Churchs teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Churchs position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

The Church’s teachings on sexuality provide the road map for human fulfillment. For a pastorto remain silent out of a fear of losing social esteem or of “offending” Catholics in the pews is to abandon the sheep to the wolves.

Good Shepherd

Indeed, a natural response to the controversy over Bishop Tobin’s tweet would have been for every other priest and bishop in the country to re-tweet the exact same message, or, at the very least, to issue a public statement supporting the bishop, and explaining Catholic teaching in a loving, compassionate way. What a great opportunity for evangelization that would have been! What a powerful message that would have sent! Instead, as the wolves circled for the kill, Bishop Tobin had more the look of a lone sheep than a shepherd among shepherds.

Even worse, the day after Bishop Tobin posted his Tweet, one extremely prominent Catholic cleric, who even enjoys an advisory role at the Vatican, tweeted out a message saying, “Catholics need not be wary of Junes #PrideMonth.” The previous day this same cleric posted a message wishing a “Happy #PrideMonthThis is a breathtaking form of moral blindness. The Catholic Church’s vision of sexuality, which has remained consistent since the earliest days of the Church, is one characterized by wholesomeness, fruitfulness, modesty, self-giving and joy. “Pride” celebrations proclaim a diametrically opposed message. It is quite true that we require creative thinkers to pursue pastoral approaches to reach out to homosexual persons in compassion and love in an effort to help them arrive at the fullness of Christian truth. However, there are simply no compelling arguments that supporting participating in wholly worldly public celebrations of sin does anything except spread confusion, at the enormous cost of souls. The hyper-sexualization of children  including the expectation that parents should bring their children to “Pride” events that is increasingly a feature of the LGBT movement is especially dismaying.

As Catholics we have to support our pastors when they speak difficult truths, as well as challenge them to speak up when they remain silent. A petition supporting Bishop Tobin has received over 25,000 signatures. That’s a good start. I hope you will join me in praying for Bishop Tobin, and all of the Church’s pastors, including myself, that we will be filled with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit, and that we will imitate the early Apostles by fearlessly proclaiming the totality of the Gospel, regardless of the personal cost.

Casualties of surrogacy

Jennifer Lahl

This essay is adapted from remarks delivered at the Heritage Foundation.

The media and Hollywood celebrities, like Kim Kardashian and Jimmy Fallon, present surrogacy as a wonderful and beautiful thing. Even Ben Shapiro said “surrogacy can be useful and wonderful in some cases” when he spoke at this year’s March for Life. But I’m happy to discuss what you won’t hear about in the media: the health risks to women, and to the children to whom they give birth, of commercial contracted pregnancies.

On October 8, 2015, an American surrogate mother named Brooke Brown died from complications related to pregnancy. Brooke was a commercial gestational surrogate, not the biological mother. She was being paid to carry twins for a couple from Spain, where surrogacy is illegal. This had been an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy; Brooke was just a day away from a scheduled caesarian section. But then she suffered a complication, called placental abruption (the premature separation of the placenta from the uterus), that proved fatal. The twins died, too.

Almost immediately after the loss of these three lives, women calling themselves Brooke’s “Surro Sisters” set up a GoFundMe page in order to raise $10,000 for Brooke’s family; although in the end they weren’t even able to raise $7,000.

A healthy society would not create a multi-billion-dollar fertility industry at the risk of the health and well-being of women and children. The spirit of proper medicine, expressed in the principle “First, do no harm,” requires us not to allow healthy women to engage in entirely elective, medically risky procedures that do not benefit them in any way and might harm them or lead to their death.

In the process of making documentary films on surrogacy, I have met and interviewed several surrogate mothers whose experiences harmed them, physically and emotionally, and nearly took their lives. Several academic studies have reached the same conclusion. In December 2017, a study in the prestigious journal Fertility and Sterility compared “spontaneous” (that is, “regular”) pregnancy with surrogate pregnancy. It reported that,

Neonates born from commissioned embryos and carried by gestational surrogates have increased adverse perinatal outcomes, including preterm birth, low birth weight, maternal gestational diabetes, hypertension, and placenta previa, compared with the live births conceived spontaneously and carried by the same woman.

The report also found that these pregnancies are more likely to end in cesarean section rather than vaginal birth, which carries more risks both for the surrogate birthmother and for the baby.

Need more evidence of the medical risks to women who serve as surrogates, or to the babies they carry? Dr. Allen Merritt, a perinatologist at Loma Linda Medical Center, in my state, California, published a snapshot of the medical outcomes of the surrogate deliveries that took place at his Medical Center in 2012 and 2013:

RESULTS: Analysis of sixty-nine infants delivered from both gestational and traditional surrogate women found an increase in multiple births, NICU admission, and length of stay, with hospital charges several multiples beyond that of a term infant conceived naturally. Among singletons and twins, hospital charges were increased 26 times . . . and in triplets charges were increased 173 times . . . when compared to a term infant provided care in a normal nursery at our center.

CONCLUSION: Maternity costs for surrogates exceed those of women who conceive naturally, and these costs are especially magnified in women with triplets and multiple births.

Why are these costs so high, and why are the hospital stays so long? Because these are high-risk pregnancies. A woman’s body is not designed to carry another woman’s baby, even just one baby.

Still not convinced? Just a few months ago, in February 2019, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published findings titled “Risk of Severe Maternal Morbidity by Maternal Fertility Status: a U.S. Study in Eight States.” The study compared the pregnancies of six groups of women: one group that had no fertility issues (called simply “fertile”); one that underwent treatments for infertility; and four that bore children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF).

This study is significant for several reasons. First, its sample size was huge: it examined 1,477,522 pregnancies and births. Second, the results are quite disturbing (although, as my research assistant said, “it doesn’t seem like fertility doctors even paused to consider their own findings”). I highlight some of the findings below. Keep in mind that gestational surrogate mothers are those who become pregnant by means of IVF and a donor’s eggs.

  • All four groups of women with IVF pregnancies were more likely to require a blood transfusion at delivery.
  • Women with IVF pregnancies who gave birth vaginally were more likely to suffer third- or fourth-degree lacerations to the vagina at delivery.
  • Women with IVF pregnancies that used donors’ eggs, whether fresh or thawed, were more likely to require an unplanned hysterectomy.
  • All groups of women with IVF pregnancies had higher rates of diabetes during pregnancy (“gestational diabetes”) than the group of “fertile” women.
  • The groups of women with IVF pregnancies that used donors’ eggs had the highest rates of hypertension (high blood pressure) for the whole duration of the pregnancy (that is, both pre-gestational and gestational hypertension).
  • The children conceived by IVF were more likely to be admitted to a neonatal (newborn) intensive care unit (NICU).
  • Children conceived by IVF from donors’ eggs had the highest rates of admission to the NICU, and their birth mothers had the highest rates of admission to the ICU (the general intensive care unit).

When Brooke Brown died, I immediately sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office in Idaho (the state where she had lived) asking for an investigation. I received no response. I contacted the press in the hope of getting her story out to the media; but again, no response. My office reached out to the local Baptist church that held Brooke’s memorial service, inquiring about services for the twins who had died. We were told no one knew what had become of the infants.

Brooke’s doctors, and the fertility industry, surely knew that this woman’s body, which had carried her own three children to term and then five surrogate babies, was at high risk of grave injury. We have no business, by any principle—ethical or otherwise—building a multi-billion-dollar industry at the risk of the health and well-being of women and children. In the end, the public deemed Brooke’s life, and those of the infants she carried, to be worthy of no news coverage and of barely $7,000. There’s nothing wonderful, beautiful, or useful about that.

Jennifer Lahl is the Founder and President of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and producer of the documentary films, Eggsploitation, Anonymous Father’s Day, Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, and Maggie’s Story. In 2018 she released #BigFertility which is an official selection in the Silicon Valley International Film Festival. Republished with permission from The Public Discourse.

Neurologist exposes ‘brain death’ myth behind multi-billion-dollar organ transplant industry

ROME, June 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A respected Brazilian neurologist is seeking to blow the lid off the “brain death” myth, saying it is being perpetuated to supply an international multi-billion-dollar transplant industry.

Doctor Cicero G. Coimbra, MD PhD, a neurologist and professor of neuroscience at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, has also said recovery for comatose patients is often possible, but a tightly controlled medical establishment is not giving doctors and medical students the facts they need to “do the best they can” for their patients.

LifeSite sat down with Dr. Coimbra for an in-depth interview in Rome, during a May 20-21 conference on “Brain Death”: A Medicolegal Construct: Scientific & Philosophical Evidence, sponsored by the John Paul Academy for Human Life and Family.

In this interview (read full text below), Dr. Coimbra explains that the term “brain death” was coined in the 1960s, after the first successful human heart transplant “triggered a demand for transplantable vital organs to be harvested from patients” who were considered to be “hopelessly comatose” according to medical knowledge at that time.

There was “no preliminary scientific research” on the brain-death concept before the name was used, he said. But calling these patients “dead” enabled the medical community to overcome all of the legal hurdles associated with removing vital organs from these comatose patients.

Their main mistake, Dr. Coimbra argues, was to consider these patients “irreversibly” brain damaged.

By the 1980s, when organ transplants were performed around the world, medical researchers experimenting on animals discovered that when blood flow to the brain is reduced from the normal range to just 20-50 percent, the brain would “fall silent” — but was neither “dead” nor “irreversibly damaged.” By the end of the 1990s, this phenomenon — called “ischemic penumbra” — was demonstrated in humans, shattering the “brain death” myth.

The brain is silent but not dead, he said.

“Why is the ‘brain death’ theory still so prevalent, and what are students in medical school being taught about this?” LifeSite asked Dr. Coimbra.

The Brazilian neurologist explained that while medical students might hear about this if “information is provided to the general public,” they will not learn it in medical school.

“In medical schools, these concepts that I am telling you about — although they are published — are not available in medical textbooks. They are not available in medical meetings. In medical conferences you cannot find them,” he said, adding that information is being withheld to supply the organ donation industry.

If you speak to doctors one-on-one, they will often tell you they agree, Dr. Coimbra said, but “they don’t want to mess with the transplant system,” which has one of the most “well controlled systems” of information sharing in the world.

“The transplant system is a wealthy system; it is a powerful system,” Dr. Coimbra said. “They are everywhere in the medical community. They are in medical councils and medical academies; they are everywhere … Politically, they are very powerful.”

“In the United States alone, in 2016 the transplant system involved business to the tune of approximately 25 billion dollars,” he noted. “By 2025, it is expected to reach 51 billion dollars per year.”

It is “big business,” he said.

Dr. Coimbra continued:

The brilliant idea of the transplant system was to call what they thought to be irreversible brain damage “brain death.” Because whenever you say someone is against “brain death,” you think: “How can someone possibly be…against death? They don’t believe in death?” But “death” is just a word that was given to a “hopelessly comatose” patient — but they were “hopelessly comatose” at the end of the 60s, not now.

“In a very large number of those patients, they have no damage at all — no brain damage at all — they just have a silent brain,” he added.

To compound the problem, Dr. Coimbra said the standard test used for screening “brain death” — called the “apnea test” — can actually induce irreversible brain damage to an already comatose patient, by reducing the blood and oxygen to the brain for 10 minutes.

Dr. Coimbra said he has seen firsthand that there is hope for patients who have been labeled “brain dead.” If doctors would simply replace three essential (thyroid and adrenal) hormones, “the normal circulation to the brain would be restored,” he explained. But when these hormones are not replaced, the patient progresses “into a disaster.”

The Brazilian neurologist again noted that doctors and medical students are not taught this:

They know what is in the neurology textbook of medicine … They know what’s there, and this is not there.  The importance of replacing thyroid hormone is not discussed in meetings related to brain injuries, and how to treat brain injuries. Not one single intensive care unit in the world replaces thyroid hormones — not a single one that I know of.

To illustrate how much the “brain death” myth has gripped the minds of the medical community, Dr. Coimbra tells the story of a 15-year old girl who began to show signs of brain activity once he administered the necessary hormones. Seeing notes of progress Dr. Coimbra had made in the girl’s medical chart, a doctor on call in the ICU that night wrote: “Once a patient is declared ‘brain dead,’ the patient is dead. It doesn’t matter if later on the patient no longer fulfills the criteria for ‘brain death.’ The patient is legally dead, because it was once diagnosed as ‘brain dead.’”

In the end, Dr. Coimbra said it all comes down to the duty of doctors to honor their sacred oath to “do no harm” and to “do the best they can” for the health and wellbeing of their patient.

Here is our interview with Dr. Cicero Coimbra, MD, PhD, followed by a video of his talk at the recent “brain death” conference in Rome.

*** 

Dr. Coimbra, why is “brain death” a myth?

By the end of the 1960s, the first human heart transplant performed by the surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa triggered a demand for transplantable single vital organs to be harvested from those patients considered to be “hopelessly comatose.” It was the common understanding that, by using all possible techniques and knowledge available at that time, those patients could not be restored to a normal life and would rather eventually evolve to cardiac arrest within a matter of days; they would not recover consciousness. An ad hoc committee at Harvard Medical School decided to call their clinical condition “brain death,” so that they could remove vital organs maintained viable due to sustained heart beating (maintained supply of oxygenated blood) and use those organs to improve the health [of] other people — patients, for instance, who had liver failure, kidney failure, or end-stage heart failure. These people would benefit from having the organs from patients who were “hopelessly comatose.”

Calling these patients “dead” enabled the ad hoc committee to overcome all legal problems related to removing vital organs from comatose patients that could not recover according to the concepts and medical scientific knowledge that we had available by that time, i.e. by the end of the 1960s.

In order to transplant organs, they had to be removed from someone while they are still alive, while the heart is still beating? 

Yes, they removed them from a comatose patient. But they thought it would not be possible to recover those patients, because they did not have the technology and knowledge to recover them.

The main mistake was to consider those patients “irreversibly” brain damaged, but their brain damage was considered irreversible due to the limited knowledge that they had at that time. Later on, as time went by, new knowledge and neurological scientific achievements offered other ideas about what was really going on in these patients. For instance, by the end of the 1960s — when the concept of “brain death” was introduced into medicine — doctors believed that, when there were no signs of brain activity that could be detected by neurological examination, the only possible reason would be the absence of blood circulation in the brain. And because the absence of brain circulation would destroy the brain within minutes, they decided to call it “brain death.”

The problem is that in the 1980s everything started changing. The practice of transplanting vital organs had already spread across the world, but already by 1984 or 1985 experiments carried out in animals — in rodents — demonstrated that when you decrease blood flow to the brain to only 50 percent of the normal range, the brain falls silent. This is because there is not enough energy to sustain what we call “synaptic activity.” Synapsis is the site where one neuron communicates with another neuron. Synaptic activity, which is the release of neurotransmission at the synaptic site, was no longer possible in these brains, because the brain blood flow was 50 percent of the normal range, and that would not provide enough energy for synaptic activity, for neurons to communicate with one another. So, the brain was silent, but the neurons would not die just because the blood flow was reduced to 50 percent.

So, the brain was silent but not dead…

Yes, silent but no neuronal death — no “brain death.” Necrosis, i.e. the process of neuronal death, is a process that takes several hours and is triggered when the blood flow is lower than 20 percent of the normal range.

This interval (approximately between 20 percent and 50 percent of the normal level of circulation) is now known as the “penumbra zone.” It was initially described in situations where there is an obstructed artery that supplies part of the brain. In the peripheral area of this so-called “ischemic” part of the brain, there was a collateral flow of blood supply between 20 and 50 percent of the normal flow, as demonstrated in animals. If you could recirculate that artery, you would save the peripheral area because it was only silent. It was not necrotic; it was not destroyed.

It is quite clear that when you have a patient with head trauma, and the brain is swelling, at some point the arteries that supply blood to the brain start being compressed, because the brain size is increasing within the intracranial space. The intracranial space is protected by bones, and bones cannot expand to accommodate the increase in brain volume. So, if the size of the brain increases as a result of what we know as “brain edema” or “brain swelling,” then the vessels are progressively compressed, and the blood flow to the whole brain decreases proportionally to increases in intracranial pressure. At some point, you will reach the level of a 50 percent decrease as compared to normal range. At this point the whole brain is silent — not a part of it but all of it is silent — but it is still recoverable. It is not dead; it is alive. And that situation was unknown at the end of the 1960s, when the concept of “brain death” was introduced into medicine.

So, it is clear that some of those patients are actually alive. What do I mean by alive? The brain was not destroyed; it was only silent. And the transplantation system has been taking organs from patients who had brain tissue that theoretically could be recovered. That brain tissue is not destroyed.

To me, it was quite clear by the end of the 1990s when the phenomenon of “ischemic penumbra” — a silent brain but no brain destruction — was demonstrated in humans, not only in rodents, that this situation could be called “global ischemic penumbra.”

The problem is that one of the tests used to diagnose “brain death” — called the “apnea test” — involves switching off the respirator. You disconnect the respirator for 10 minutes. When you do that, the high level of carbon dioxide increases sharply. This in turn further increases intracranial pressure and may decrease arterial pressure. So, you increase the compression on the brain vessels and you decrease the pressure within the brain vessels during the apnea test.

What was the purpose of the apnea test? 

The aim of the apnea test is to demonstrate that the patient cannot breathe on his own.

In any culture in the world, it would be unacceptable to say that someone who is breathing is dead. Spontaneous breathing in any culture means life. So, for instance, when a baby is born, and it never breathes, you say that it was born dead. But if the lungs expanded at least once, for legal purposes, even if the baby immediately dies, you say that the baby is alive. The question of whether the baby is alive or dead when the baby is born has considerable legal consequences. No one in any culture of the world — Indian culture or Western culture, etc. — would accept anyone to be dead if that person is capable of breathing on his own. So, the purpose of the apnea test is to demonstrate that the patient cannot breathe on his own and can be regarded as dead.

But imagine for a moment: the respirator is disconnected from the lungs for 10 minutes. In order to breathe on your own, you need your respiratory centers in your brain to be working. They control the diaphragm and the respiratory muscles in general. If you switch off the respirator, and there is no breathing for 10 minutes, they say: “Ok, you see, this is one more piece of evidence that the patient is dead, because he cannot breathe on his own.” The apnea test is considered the fundamental test to diagnose “brain death.” No medical doctor anywhere in the world would diagnose “brain death” without doing this test. So, whenever you hear that a certain patient has been diagnosed as “brain dead,” you know that the apnea test has been performed.

Why isn’t the apnea test legitimate?

It’s not legitimate. Actually, it disrupts the most basic concepts of medicine. For instance, imagine if I prevent you from breathing for 10 minutes, what will happen? You will die.

But in this case, a respirator is helping the person to breathe.

Yes, right. The respirator is helping the person to breathe. You’re correct, no problem about that. The issue is: you are testing the vitality of the respiratory centers. But what will happen to the respiratory centers in a silent brain if you induce a test that decreases the blood flow to the respiratory centers? The respiratory centers were already silent, because they need synaptic function to work. If the blood flow is within the penumbra zone — between 20 and 50 percent — the respiratory centers cannot work, not because they are irreversibly damaged but because they are silent. You would not diagnose this as “brain death.” You will not differentiate the condition of global ischemic penumbra from irreversible brain damage by testing the respiratory function.

You can actually destroy the respiratory centers — as you can damage all parts of the brain — by further reducing the blood flow during the apnea test. Forty percent of the patients who are submitted to the apnea test have a major drop in their blood flow, in their blood pressure. Blood pressure is the pressure that is within the arteries; it’s the pressure that provides the driving force to maintain circulation in the brain. So, when you perform the apnea test, you may actually induce irreversible damage to the brain when you were only supposed to diagnose irreversible brain damage.

That would seem to go against the Hippocratic oath? You are harming the patient in order to apparently test whether a silent brain is dead.

The silent brain is not dead. You induce irreversible damage to the respiratory centers and to the whole brain just by performing the apnea test. So, as you said, they are not respecting the Hippocratic oath, because the most basic concept of medical practice is what you just said: First, “do no harm.” And the second is, “do the best you can.” So, neither of these basic concepts of the Hippocratic oath are being respected in this situation.

If this research has been done in humans as well as in rodents, why is the “brain death” theory still prevalent? And what are students in medical school being taught about this? Would they hear about this latest research?

Well they may hear about it, if you provide information to the general public as you were trying to do. But in medical schools these concepts that I am telling you about — although they are published — are not available in medical textbooks. They are not available in medical meetings. In medical conferences you cannot find them.

Nowadays the transmission of information within the medical community in general — not only in this country or that, but worldwide — is probably, or certainly, the most well controlled system of transmitting information, because it is worth billions of dollars per year. If you put information in a textbook, it can redirect the flow of money from one sector to another. It’s the most well controlled type of transmitting information in our society that I know of.

Are you saying that, for the sake of the organ donation and organ transplant industry, the general public and medical students are not being given this information?

Yes, I have been trying to talk to the neurological community in my country and in other countries, and the reaction that we see is that some [doctors] will tell you — “Okay, I understand what you are saying, but never tell anyone that I agree with you”  — because they don’t want to mess with the transplant system. The transplant system is a wealthy system; it is a powerful system. They are everywhere in the medical community. They are in medical councils and medical academies; they are everywhere. They are very powerful. Politically, they are very powerful.

What could happen to a doctor if he tried to go against the system?

Well, maybe what happened to me. I had to fight in court to hold on to my license to work as a doctor for 19 years in Brazil. And that was a long time. So, you understand why some doctors that are aware of what is happening do not want to talk freely about that. They simply do not want to mess with powerful people.

They even control and have an influence in the press. Sometimes it is said, “Oh that doctor is against ‘brain death.’” The brilliant idea of the transplant system was to call what they thought to be irreversible brain damage “brain death.” Because whenever you say someone is against “brain death,” you think: “How can someone possibly be against death? They don’t believe in death?” But “death” is just a word that was given to a “hopelessly comatose” patient — but they were “hopelessly comatose” at the end of the 60s, not now.

Now you can understand that, in a very large number of those patients, they have no damage at all — no brain damage at all — they just have a silent brain. And that was confirmed in the middle of the 70s. In the mid 70s, some people from histopathology or pathologist[s] started wondering how a doctor since 1968 (when “brain death” was introduced into medicine) can say that there is necrosis of the whole brain — that there is irreversible damage of the cells in the whole brain, just by doing a neurological examination? Pathologists started wondering what is happening here. They wondered: “How can they possibly use a term like ‘necrosis,’ which is the terminology that only pathologists use when they look at the tissue under the microscope.”

So, they started checking into this. They did histological examinations in patients who were diagnosed as “brain dead” for 48 hours — so time enough for full necrosis to occur. No signs of brain activity, no evidence of blood flow for 48 hours. The whole brain should be necrotic; it’s time enough for full necrosis. When they examined those brains — I think the article was published by 1976 — they saw that about 60 percent of those brains had no signs of necrosis at all.

People who were in favor of “brain death” had to defend themselves when these papers were published. They said, “Okay, necrosis in those cases is indicated by such tiny signs that you cannot see it in the microscope. That’s why you cannot see it, but we know it’s there. We know, because there is no possible explanation for absence of blood flow for 48 hours.” Again, when more and more evidence was available to demonstrate that what they had thought in 1968 — which was complete absence of blood flow — was not true, they tried to say something else or invent something else in order to explain it — even as a hypothesis.

You saw that in this conference [on “Brain Death”: A Medicolegal Construct: Scientific & Philosophical Evidence] — it was said several times — that when the practice of “brain death” was introduced into medicine, there were no scientific papers to support it, no scientific research. It was simply a concept: “Ok, we believe that those patients have no blood flow, because they have such a severe edema that the blood vessels are completely compressed. There’s no blood flow. There is no way that the brain could survive after a few hours under no blood flow. So, we will call it ‘brain death’ because that’s what we believe is going on.”

But as I told you, and as you heard from several speakers, there was no preliminary scientific research on the concept of “brain death” to support the concept of “brain death.”

While they claimed that the brain was “dead,” what was going on in the body? The heart is still beating…

Yes, because if it’s not beating you cannot use vital organs. If there is an arrest in circulation, you have damaged organs that you’re trying to transplant to other people.

Dr. Coimbra, when people hear “brain death,” they think the brain is dead. But as you have explained, the brain is actually silent. When the brain is silent, what is the state of the other organs and systems in the body?

This is a very important question, because one of the parts of the brain that is possibly within the range of ischemic penumbra, between 20 percent and 50 percent of the normal levels of circulation, is the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus produces several hormones that control other glands in our body. And there are at least three hormones that are very important to our discussion. Because the hypothalamus is also under low levels of circulation, the production of those hormones is decreased.

For instance, one of these hormones is the hormone that releases TSH from the pituitary gland. TSH is “thyroid stimulating hormone.” So, you have the hypothalamus producing TSH-releasing hormone. TSH-releasing hormone induces the production of TSH by the hypophysis [pituitary gland].  The hypophysis releases TSH into the circulation, and then the thyroid gland located in our neck keeps producing thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormones have an action in the brain. They have actions in all of our organs. One of the most important actions is to prevent fluid from leaking into the tissues. So, when you have a patient who has had a brain trauma, for instance, and that trauma has increased the volume of the brain, and now the blood vessels are compressed, the blood vessels that supply blood to the hypothalamus are also compressed. And then you get into a state that is called “Central hypothyroidism.” In this state, the thyroid gland decreases the production of thyroid hormones, because the thyroid gland is not receiving enough stimulation from the brain.

So, the lack of thyroid hormones increases brain damage and brain edema, i.e. brain swelling. This is a critical situation, which I could put this way: if you don’t replace thyroid hormone the brain tissue will die, because the brain swelling will progress, progress, and progress up to the point that the blood vessels are fully compressed, and you have no blood flow at all. Then you have irreversible damage to the brain. But when the blood supply to the brain is within the range of “ischemic penumbra” (a silent but not irreversibly damaged brain) or progressing to that situation (progressing into deeper levels of coma – with reduced, but not absent neurological signs of brain activity) you can rescue the brain, just by giving three hormones.

One of the most important ones is the thyroid hormones. If you give the comatose patient thyroid hormones, you will prevent further leakage of liquids from the intravascular space (the space within blood vessels) into the brain tissue. The progress of brain swelling will stop and reverse, the brain vessels will no longer be compressed, you will increase the blood supply to the brain and the patient will start recovering brain functions.

But this situation starts long before the beginning of [the] screening test for “brain death.” We have a scale to measure the level of coma. It’s called the “Glasgow Coma Scale.” A normal person who is fully awake is at level 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. When there are no signs of brain activity, you are at level 3. When you reach level 3, you start screening the patient for the diagnosis of “brain death.”

But when the Glasgow Coma Scale is far away from 3 — when it is around 8 or 7 — most if not all patients have low circulating levels of thyroid hormone. By that point the brain edema is now turned into the so-called “brain myxedema,” because the edema is now caused by a lack of enough amounts of thyroid hormones. Therefore, if you start replacing thyroid hormones when a patient of a traumatic brain injury is at the Glasgow levels of 8 or 7 — the patient’s neurological state can improve and even all neurological functions can be normalized. And this is an obligation, this is not something that you say, “Okay, I will leave it like that.” No, you see that something is wrong, and you can save the life of a patient. Hypothyroidism is a lethal disorder; if you don’t treat it patients will die.

It goes back to what you said about the Hippocratic oath. The most basic part is “do not harm” to your patients. But the second part is “do the best you can” to save the life of your patients, to improve their health, to improve the wellbeing of your patient.

So “do your best” and now you’re not following the second aspect of the Hippocratic oath. You should replace thyroid hormones in order to prevent so-called “brain death.”

And is this generally done? Are these three hormones generally given?

No, it’s not done anywhere.

Why not?

This is a question that the medical community should answer. Why are they not following the second principle of the Hippocratic oath in this situation? It’s been published since the 80s.

So they know … it’s not as though the doctors who are dealing with these patients don’t understand what happens to the thyroid …

When you say they “know,” I have to say that it’s published, but I would not say that the doctors “know” because they don’t know everything that is published. They know what is in the neurology textbook of medicine, like the neurology textbook. They know what’s there, and this is not there.  The importance of replacing thyroid hormone is not discussed in meetings related to brain injuries, and how to treat brain injuries. Not one single intensive care unit in the world replaces thyroid hormones — not a single one that I know of. Because, you know, if you would replace thyroid hormones when the Glasgow Coma Scale is at 7 or 8, probably almost no patient would progress into so-called “brain death.” So, it’s not done — it’s simply not done.

What happens to the brain when these thyroid hormones are not given to the patient?

As the brain swells because thyroid hormones are not replaced, the hypothalamus stops or decreases the production of other hormones that are very important for the survival of the comatose patient.

One of the most important ones is the so-called ACTH. ACTH is a hormone that is produced under the stimulation of the hypothalamus. It is produced by the hypophysis [pituitary gland], and it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce hormones that keep your blood pressure within the normal range.

If you can compose the whole situation in your mind: you have a decreased level of thyroid hormones — that’s why the brain is swelling, that’s why the blood flow is decreased: because blood vessels are being compressed in the intracranial space. The patient is evolving to the so-called…“brain death.” And now, the pressure within the vessels that is necessary to supply blood flow to the brain is also decreasing, because the adrenal glands are not providing enough amounts of what we call “mineralocorticoids” to stabilize the blood pressure. So, the blood pressure within the vessel is going down — the pressure which is necessary to supply blood flow to the brain.

So, you have these two circumstances that co-operate to damage the brain: you have increased intracranial pressure because of lack of thyroid hormones, and you have decreased blood pressure because of low levels of adrenal hormones. And again, because those adrenal hormones are not replaced, the patient – the whole organism — is progressing into a disaster.

You said that three hormones should be given. What is the third? 

There is a third hormone that should be given to those patients and it’s also produced by the hypothalamus and the hypophysis. It is called ADH, which stands for “antidiuretic hormone.” It prevents your kidneys from releasing large amounts of fluid that would further decrease the volume within your vessels. The further decrease in pressure within the blood vessels comes from the fact that you don’t have enough volume within your circulatory system to sustain circulation.

This third hormone is the only one that is sometimes given to those patients, because it’s impossible not to identify this situation. If you want to identify the situation when thyroid hormones are low, you have to measure them. If you want to identify a situation where adrenal gland hormones are low, you have to measure them. But you know whether the patient is producing low levels of ADH, you know it because he (she) is eliminating a lot of urine — 6 liters, 8 liters, or even 10 liters of urine every day.

The lack of these three hormones will lead the organism into a disaster. And they are not replaced. Because what should be done is not being done, this patient will die within a few days. Nearly these patients will die within a few days due to cardiac arrest. But that’s because you are not considering part of the second Hippocratic oath, which is: you should do the best you can to save the life of your patient. You’re not replacing thyroid hormones; you’re not replacing adrenal hormones; you’re sometimes not replacing ADH, so those patients will die in a few days.

How do those who support “brain death” defend this?

Believe it or not, people who are in favor of “brain death” say it doesn’t matter what you do. The say that, even with the most aggressive intensive care treatment, these patients will die within a few days, so it’s a good idea to take their organs to save the lives of other people. But, actually, those patients have not been treated as they should. The most basic treatment, that is, replacing of all these three hormones, is not done, so the patient will die.

Hypothyroidism is known by the medical community to be a lethal disorder if it’s left untreated. Adrenal failure, which I just described, is also known to be a lethal disorder if it’s left untreated. And the same is true for diabetes insipidus, which is due to the lack of ADH. So, you have three lethal disorders in the same patient, and you don’t treat them. Instead, you say: “Those patients will die even if you give them the most aggressive intensive care treatment.” It’s not true. You don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know the pathophysiology of what is happening with this patient.

Medical doctors are not taught to give thyroid hormones or adrenal hormones; sometimes they are not even taught to give ADH. Doctors sometimes say this is happening “because the brain is dying.” But, actually, the brain is dying because they not replacing those thyroid hormones. If doctors would replace these three types of hormones, the normal circulation to the brain would be restored and the hypothalamus will restart producing normal amounts of all those hormones.

Have you treated patients who have recovered from severe brain trauma through the use of these hormones?

Yes, I treated a 39-year-old woman who was declared “brain dead”… It was a surgical accident that caused the damage to the brain, and I started the replacement of these hormones four days after the event. I have to tell you that it should have started beforehand, not four days later. But she was already diagnosed as “brain dead” and the family had been told. So, we started replacing the thyroid hormones at day four. Eight days after the beginning of the replacement of thyroid hormones and the other hormones, the patient started to breathe on her own. Therefore, the patient could no longer be recognized as someone who is dead, because she was breathing. As I said before, the ability to breathe on one’s own is a sign of life in any culture of the world, so that patient was alive.

One month later, she was able to communicate with her parents. Because she had a tracheostomy she had to communicate by lip reading. She would only move her lips, because there wasn’t sufficient air to vibrate the vocal cords. There was no sound, but she could communicate by lip reading and that continued for two or three months.

Unfortunately, she died because she was in bed too long and she had clot formations within the veins of her legs and the clots moved to her lungs. She died because of pulmonary embolism.

But she was able to communicate with her parents before she died.

Yes, for two or three months she could communicate with them…

Which is all the difference for the family…the fact that the parents were able to communicate with their daughter.

Her brain was functional. Of course, she had some severe neurological problems related to movement. Her movements were severely restricted. But we did not know what would have happened in the next few months, if she would start moving her arms and legs or not. Unfortunately, she had this clinical complication and died because of that.

Since you asked, it is important to say that, before this lady, I treated a 15-year-old girl. I started the treatment one month after the accident. She had already been submitted to three apnea tests. She breathed in the first and the second, but not in the third. They were done on consecutive days, so each of the tests were an additional aggression to the patient, to the brain circulation, and finally she could not resist the third. She was in a deep coma with no respiratory reflexes.

That patient was not in the same city where I worked, and the family moved from another state in Brazil to the state of São Paulo. I started the replacement of the thyroid hormones too late, but at some point, about two weeks later, under thyroid hormone replacement and the replacement of other hormones, that patient was having seizures, convulsions, on the right side.

But a person who is “brain dead” doesn’t have brain seizures, do they?

No, a dead brain cannot have a seizure. That’s what I wrote on the patient’s chart.

The doctor on call that night in the ICU was someone involved in a transplant system. And he wrote something [in the chart] like: “once a patient is declared ‘brain dead,’ the patient is dead. It doesn’t matter if later on the patient no longer fulfills the criteria for ‘brain death.’ The patient is legally dead, because it was once diagnosed as ‘brain dead.’”

I can prove this. I have a copy of the patient’s chart. So, you see the conflict of interest here. In the United States alone, in 2016 the transplant system involved business to the tune of approximately 25 billion dollars. By 2025, it is expected to reach 51 billion dollars per year.

On the internet, you can find announcements suggesting that you should buy shares from those pharmaceutical companies, because they will be increasing profits and you can earn a lot of money by buying their shares. So, this is big, big business. You can see how powerful these people are.

Imagine that you knew a very well-known, prestigious transplant surgeon, who has been performing vital organ transplants for 30 years. He is very skillful surgeon, possibly world-renowned. And then you come to him and say that “brain death” is not death anymore, because now we know much more than we knew in 1968, when brain that was introduced into medicine.

Imagine that you tell him he should stop doing vital organ transplants. He has been doing them for 30 years, and he is very skillful, perhaps a world-renowned doctor. Do suppose that he will accept that peacefully? It’s difficult. After 30 years, all the prestige that has accumulated and then you tell him he should look for another way of making money — another specialty because transplants are no longer possible.

It seems it goes back to the Hippocratic oath. A doctor makes a vow when he becomes doctor. It is a sacred vow.  

Yes, definitely.

***

See below the complete 41-minute talk by Dr. Coimbra given May 20, 2019 at the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family Conference in Rome.

***

VIDEO: Hear the actual heartbeats

 

A preborn baby is beautiful and fascinating, and technology is revealing the development of this tiny human person growing in his mother’s womb. The amazing moment that a mother can hear the heartbeat of her preborn child has been captured thousands of times on video, and shared on YouTube and other social media.

Below are some of these precious moments which prove, yet again, that the baby in the womb is very much alive and deserves our full protection:

5 weeks:

6 weeks:

7 weeks:

8 weeks:

9 weeks:

10 weeks:

“When a heartbeat can be detected, a life should be protected” — this is the impetus behind “heartbeat bills” which ban abortion after a preborn child’s heartbeat can be detected, usually by six weeks.

On November 1, 2017, a federal Heartbeat Protection Act received a hearing before a Congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. The bill, H.R. 490, was sponsored by Representative Steve King (R – Iowa), who is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee. The bill did not succeed.

By just 22 days after conception, a baby’s heart is confirmed to be beating in utero. But more recent studies show it might actually start beating as early as 16 days after conception.

Products That Use Aborted Fetuses

by 

Do some products contain fetal parts? The short gruesome answer: Yes.

Today’s consumer products are not the soap and lampshades of recycled Nazi concentration camp victims. The new utilitarian use of people is a sophisticated enterprise, not visible to the human eye.

Fetal Parts in Daily Life

Perhaps you are a diligent supporter and promoter of pro-life legislation, only vote for pro-life candidates, avoid entertainment from musicians and actors who openly support Planned Parenthood. Regardless, you may unwittingly be cooperating in aborted fetal cell research by purchasing products that use aborted fetuses, either in the product itself or in its development.

One might take Enbrel (Amgen) to relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis. Your husband was given Zoastavax (Merck), a Shingles vaccine, at his annual physical. Your mother with diabetes and renal failure is prescribed Arensep (Amgen). Your grandfather is given the blood product Repro (Eli Lilly) during an angioplasty. The local school district requires that your grandchildren receive the MMRII (the Merck Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine). Your daughter and son use coffee creamers and eat soup with artificial flavor enhancers (Senomyx/Firmenich) tested on artificial taste buds engineered from aborted fetal cells.

Because of the vagary of FDA labeling, unless you are proficient at reading patents and pharmaceutical inserts you wouldn’t know aborted fetal parts were there without someone to tell you.

there are some products that use aborted fetuses

Luckily, that someone is the watchdog group Children of God for Life (COG), a pro-life public citizen group which tracks the use of aborted fetal parts. Under the leadership of Executive Director Debi Vinnedge, COG publishes a downloadable list of products that use aborted fetuses currently available in the U.S.

Products That Use Aborted Fetuses

Products related to fetal material can be broken down into roughly 3 categories: artificial flavors, cosmetics, and medicines/vaccines.

1. Food and Drink

To be clear, food and beverages do not contain any aborted fetal material; however, they may be tastier because of it. How is that?

nestle coffee creamer

The American biotech company Senomyx has developed chemical additives that can enhance flavor and smell. To do this, they had to produce an army of never-tiring taste testers–that is, flavor receptors engineered from human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293, fetal cell line popular in pharmaceutical research).[1] These artificial taste buds can tell product developers which products the public will crave. The goal is to do a taste bud “sleight of hand,” creating low-sugar and low-sodium products that taste sweet or salty while actually using less sugar or sodium in the product.

Does your Nestle Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice refrigerated creamer taste more like autumn? Does your Maggi bouillon taste just like chicken? Thank Senomyx.

The laboratory-created artificial enhancers do not have to be tested at length by the FDA because the Senomyx chemical “flavor compounds are used in proportions less than one part per million” and can be classified as artificial flavors.[2]

In 2005, Senomyx had contracts to develop products for Kraft Foods, Nestle, Campbell Soup and Coca-Cola.[3] However, when it was discovered in 2011 that PepsiCo was using Senomyx to develop a reduced sugar beverage, a boycott ensued that caused Kraft-Cadbury Adams LLC and Campbell Soup cancelled their contracts with Senomyx. In a 2012 letter to Children of God for Life, PepsiCo stated, “Senomyx does not use HEK cells or any other tissues or cell lines derived from human embryos or fetuses for research performed on behalf of PepsiCo.”[4] To that effect, PepsiCo is working with Senomyx on two products developed with Sweetmyx 617, a new Senomyx sweet taste modifier.[5]

In November 2018, the Swiss company Firmenich acquired Senomyx, Inc. Firmenich describes itself as “a global leader in taste innovation and expert in sweet, cooling and bitter solutions.”

2. Cosmetics

The fountain of youth…is babies.

Commercially, it’s known as Processed Skin Proteins (PSP), developed at the University of Lausanne to heal burns and wounds by regenerating traumatized skin. The fetal skin cell line was taken from an electively aborted baby whose body was donated to the University.[6]

Neocutis, a San Francisco-based firm, uses PSP in some of their anti-aging skin products. Their website claims the trademarked PSP “harnesses the power of Human Growth Factors, Interleukins and other Cytokines, to help deliver state-of-the-art skin revitalization.”

3. Vaccines and Medicine

The Vaccine Card at the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (SCPI) website lists over 21 vaccines and medical products that contain aborted fetal cell lines. The Card is updated yearly, and also lists ethical vaccine alternatives when there are any.

SCPI is a biomedical research organization headed by Theresa Deisher, who has a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from Stanford and 23 patents in the field to her name.  Dr. Deisher, the first person to identify and patent stem cells from the adult heart, has an insiders understanding of genetic engineering having worked in the industry leaders such as Amgen, Genetech, and Repligen.[7]

Among other things SCPI “promotes awareness about the widespread use of fetal human material in drug discovery, development and commercialization.”

No vaccine product is completely pure: “You will find contaminating DNA and cellular debris from the production cell in your final product. When we switch from using animal cells to using human cells we now have human DNA in our vaccines and our drugs.”[8]

The problem is three-fold. Aborted fetal parts are used for experiments, aborted fetal cell lines are used, and fetal cellular DNA debris are in vaccines and medicines.

But it is not just human DNA that is left over, so are some of the chemical stabilizers that keep the product from degrading, as well as, stimulants to rev up the immune system.

“Vaccines are a virus that have been put into a vial, in a liquid, which is the buffer, which we call excipients, and companies have put in stabilizers so that the virus won’t degrade and other things that kind of rev up your immune system so that they can use lower amounts of the virus and have a greater profit margin. And immune stimulants are things like aluminum and thimerosal, they are stabilizers but they rev up the immunes system, so all of these things are in the final product, including contaminates from the cell lines that are used to manufacture the vaccines.”[9]

Why aren’t the contaminates removed? Because nobody wants a pediatric vaccine that costs a few thousand dollars.[10]

In finance, the yield is inversely related to the price. In chemistry, the yield is inversely related to purity. The price of inexpensive mass-produced vaccines is that the medical establishment accepts that the vaccines contain a high amount of fetal contaminates.

“[I]f they have purified out the containments from the cell lines, the yield would be so low that they wouldn’t make any money, or no one would pay a thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars for a vaccine. And so because of that case remnants from the cell lines, in that case, fetal cell lines are in the final product. And they are at actually very high levels. And in the chicken pox, the fetal DNA contaminates are present at twice the levels of the active ingredient which is Varicella DNA.”[11]

The Fetal Tissue Marketplace

Much research is currently being done with fetal cells.

scientific instruments

We know this because, for one, there’s a market for fetal parts. In a series of undercover videos, David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress exposed Planned Parenthood abortion clinics selling fetal parts to investigators posing as and medical researchers. And for his efforts his office was raided in 2016 by then California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a Senator and 2020 Presidential Candidate Harris.[12] Daleiden is currently being pursued in court by current California Attorney General, and former Democrat California Congressman, Xavier Becerra.

We already knew this was happening from the testimony of scientists themselves. On January 11, 2018, professor emeritus Dr. Stanley Plotkin, the lead developer of the Rubella vaccine for the Wistar Institute (Philadelphia) in the 1960s, was deposed as an expert witness on Vaccinology in a Michigan child custody case.[13] Dr. Plotkin was asked how many aborted fetuses he has used in his experiments:

QUESTION: So in your, in all of your work related to vaccines throughout your whole career, you’ve only ever worked with two fetuses?

PLOTKIN: In terms of making vaccines, yes.

But after being presented with Exhibit 41 (Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine), the two fetuses involved in his experiment grows exponentially to 76 aborted fetuses.

QUESTION: So this study involved 74 fetuses, correct?

PLOTKIN: Seventy-six.

QUESTION: And these fetuses were all three months or older when aborted, correct? PLOTKIN: Yes.

A true enough response. Fetal cells, for that matter all normal cells, have a finite capacity to replicate following the principle of cellular aging. The vaccine trail needed many cell lines in order to achieve its end. 

An interesting aside, during questioning Dr. Plotkin answered affirmatively that some of his subjects for experimental vaccine trials had been children of “mothers in prison,” the mentally ill, and “individuals under colonial rule” [Belgian Congo].

Dr. Theresa Deisher first became aware of the introduction of fresh aborted fetal material in drug discovery in 1996.[14] Fresh fetal parts are a time-saver compared to the days spent washing and prepping animal tissue, like monkey hearts, for laboratory experiments. While it is not legal to sell aborted fetal tissue, it is still available in catalogues and comes with high prices for shipping and handling.

A Better Option

According to Dr. David A. Prentice Vice, President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics at the John Paul II Institute, adult stem cells are the benchmark for research that has led to actual cures for patients.

“The superiority of adult stem cells in the clinic and the mounting evidence supporting their effectiveness in regeneration and repair make adult stem cells the gold standard of stem cells for patients.”[15]

Then why are we still using embryonic cell lines when adult stem cells have become the Gold Standard? There seems to be little excuse for products that use aborted fetuses.

U.S. Policy on Products That Use Aborted Fetuses

Bill Clinton signing document
President Bill Clinton

On the 20th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 1993, President Clinton signed five abortion-related memorandums which included the reversal of the George H. W. Bush era moratorium on creating new fetal tissue for research, claiming at the time that, “This moratorium has significantly hampered the development of possible treatments for individuals afflicted with serious diseases and disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and leukemia.”[16]

While a bio-ethics debate transfixed the country in 2006 as to whether the United States would allow the use of new aborted fetal stem cells in research, [see White House Fact Sheet on Stem Cell Research Policy], the medical research community had already decided that the future lay with human-animal hybrids and new aborted fetal cell lines. According to a statement submitted to the President’s Bioethics Council:

“Aborted human DNA in our vaccines is not the end, it is only the beginning, as the creation of human-animal hybrids demonstrates. A new aborted fetal cell line has been developed, called PerC6, and licenses have been taken by over 50 partners, including the NIH and the Walter Reed Army Institute, to use this cell line for new vaccine and biologics production. The goal of the company that created the PerC6 is to become the production cell line for ALL vaccines, therapeutics antibodies, biologic drugs and gene therapy.”[17]

And this has largely come to pass.

In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services granted a second 90-day extension to a contract it has with the University of California at San Francisco that requires UCSF to make “humanized mice” for on-going AIDS research. The human fetal tissue comes from late-term abortions.

CNSNews reported that “according to an estimate it has published on its website, the National Institutes of Health (which is a division of HHS) will spend $95 million this fiscal year alone on research that–like UCSF’s “humanized mouse” contract–uses human fetal tissue.”[18]

See here for news on how the Trump administration limited the sale of fetal parts.

Stop Ebola? Prevent Zika Virus? Cure AIDS? Look for more, not fewer, aborted fetal products in the future.

 

Writer Andrea Byrnes was the first producer of U.S. March for Life coverage at EWTN Global Catholic Network, which she continued to supervise for seven years. She attended her first HLI conference in 1989, where she first met Servant of God Dr. Jerome Lejeune. She and her husband would later pray for Lejeune’s intercession for her son’s health difficulties discovered before birth, and thanks be to God, he is thriving.

Notes

[1] Melanie Warner, “Pepsi’s Bizarro World: Boycotted Over Embryonic Cells Linked to Lo-Cal Soda.” CBS News Moneywatch. June 3, 2011.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pepsis-bizarro-world-boycotted-over-embryonic-cells-linked-to-lo-cal-soda/

[2] Melanie Warner, “Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt or MSG” New York Times. April 6, 2005.

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/06/business/food-companies-test-flavorings-that-can-mimic-sugar-salt-or-msg.html

[3] Melanie Warner, “Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt or MSG” New York Times. April 6, 2005.

[4] PepsiCo to Debi Vinnedge Executive Director, Children of God for Life. April 26, 2012.

https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/pepsiresponse042012.pdf

[5] Christ Young, “San Diego Company’s New ‘Sweetness Enhancer’ Draws Scrunity.” Inewsource. KPBS.Org. October 8, 2015

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/oct/08/san-diego-companys-new-sweetness-enhancer-draws-sc/

[6] Valerie Robinson, “Aborted fetus cells used in beauty creams.” The Washington Times. November 3, 2009.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/3/aborted-fetus-cells-used-in-anti-aging-products/

[7] Theresa A. Deisher, Phd. “Testimony on Conscience Rights related to biologic drug disclosure and alternative drugs.” President’s Council on Bioethics Archive. Georgetown University. September 8, 2008.

https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/transcripts/sept08/deisher_statement.pdf

[8] Theresa A. Deisher, Phd. “Testimony on Conscience Rights related to biologic drug disclosure and alternative drugs.” President’s Council on Bioethics Archive. Georgetown University. September 8, 2008.

[9] “Dr. Theresa Deisher Guelph, Ontario Canada June 23, 2018.” Vaccine Choice Canada published on YouTube. August 2, 2018.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1k6xLQnJD8

[10] The National Vaccine Injury Act was signed in 1986 so that manufactures wouldn’t raise the price of vaccines due to injury lawsuits. Robert Pear, “Reagan Signs Bill on Drug Exports and Payment for Vaccine Injuries.” New York Times. November 15, 1986. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/15/us/reagan-signs-bill-on-drug-exports-and-payment-for-vaccine-injuries.html

[11] “Dr. Theresa Deisher Guelph, Ontario Canada June 23, 2018.” Vaccine Choice Canada published on YouTube. August 2, 2018.

[12] Paige St. John. “Kamala Harris’ support for Planned Parenthood draws fire after raid on anti-abortion activist. Los Angeles Times. April 7, 2016.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-kamala-harris-planned-parenthood-20160407-story.html

[13] DEPOSITION OF STANLEY A. PLOTKIN, M.D.CASE # 2015-831539-DM, JANUARY 11, 2018, COUNTY OF OAKLAND CIRCUIT COURT, FAMILY DIVISION, MICHIGAN. Ricardo Beas — RBWorks© — Natural Law Church of Health and Healing© © Common Law Copyright – All Rights Reserved, Without Prejudice.

http://www.cafepeyote.com/files/Plotkin_Deposition_-_Summary.pdf

“King of Vaccines Comes Clean!” The HighWire with Del Bigtree. Youtube. Published. January 17, 2009.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NACBHtFMllA

[14] Dr. Theresa Deisher: Moral Vaccine Development. Saint Michael Broadcasting. YouTube. Published March 5, 2011.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTEh_BsGwZQ

[15] Wesley J. Smith. “Adult Stem Cells Now the “Gold Standard.” National Review. March 15, 2019. 2:40 PM.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/adult-stem-cells-now-the-gold-standard/

[16] Robin Toner. “Settling In: Easing Abortion Policy; Clinton Orders Reversal of Abortion Restrictions Left By Reagan and Bush.” New York Times. January 23, 1993.

https://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/23/us/settling-easing-abortion-policy-clinton-orders-reversal-abortion-restrictions.html

[17] Theresa A. Deisher, Phd. “Testimony on Conscience Rights related to biologic drug disclosure and alternative drugs.” President’s Council on Bioethics Archive. Georgetown University. September 8, 2008.

[18] Terence P. Jeffrey. “HHS Extends Contract to Make ‘Humanized Mice’ With Aborted Baby Parts for Another 90 Days.” CNSNews. March 1, 2019. 5:16 PM.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/hhs-extends-contract-make-humanized-mice-aborted-baby-parts-another?fbclid=IwAR0NpDMb6W3BVweC0-H4TUza6Ix2aMyjoTn6cOvSmJ9e0YfLk7C6WLueqMw

2 thoughts on “Products That Us

Under New Bill, Wisconsin Pharmacists Could Prescribe Hormonal Birth Control

By Gabriella Patti   

Under New Bill, Wisconsin Pharmacists Could Prescribe Hormonal Birth Control

According to an article published by Wisconsin Public Radio, Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are introducing a new bill that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills and patches. As of now, only doctors can prescribe birth control under Wisconsin state law.

Under this proposed law, all that would be required of patients would be to fill out a questionnaire and undergo a blood pressure test in order to receive a prescription. The two lawmakers pushing for this bill, Reps. Mary Felzkowski and Joel Kitchens, “wrote in a memo seeking co-sponsors that they want to give women more choices for reproductive care and reduce unplanned pregnancies.”

Unfortunately, despite these representatives’ intentions, data shows that increased access to birth control does not always decrease unplanned pregnancies but sometimes increases them, by providing couples with a false sense of security that they cannot have a pregnancy when using it. All forms of birth control have a failure rate and when we consider the high number of people are using birth control, the number of those who get pregnant using it is not insignificant.

As former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson describes it to Natural Womanhood, “according to Guttmacher themselves, Planned Parenthood’s own research arm, is that 54% of women who are having abortions are using contraception at the time when they get pregnant. So the idea that contraception is working for women and that it’s preventing [unplanned pregnancies and] abortion is not true. If it were, that number would not be 54%.”

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, hormonal birth control, pharmacist, prescriptions, Wisconsin law, access to birth control

TURNING PATIENTS INTO CUSTOMERS

At present, pharmacists can prescribe birth control in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah, Washington D.C., and Washington state. Each state has different requirements and restrictions, and pharmacists in these states can opt out of providing this service.

This push towards eliminating the step of visiting the doctor’s office to get prescription medication rings familiar, as Natural Womanhood contributor,  Lindsay Schlegel recently wrote about the rise of direct-to-consumer medicine providing websites. In this model, the patient—who is now better described as a customer—fills out an online questionnaire through the website. Their questionnaire is then used to prescribe the customer with the proper medication, which is then mailed directly to their doorstep.

Although this model is certainly convenient, Schlegel addressed the overwhelming concern of where this system might lead us:

“Skipping a visit to the doctor’s office and pharmacy is certainly more convenient than dealing with uncertain wait times. Still, we have to consider that in this model, ‘doctors can’t address secondary issues that surface during a consultation and can’t add information to a patient’s home medical record,’ notes Vishal Khetpal, third-year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in his essay ‘The Worrisome Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Medicine’ published at Undark, an editorially independent magazine.”

While we recognize that by having pharmacists prescribe birth control we are not eliminating face-to-face interaction, this does dispose of the aspects of personal care for the whole health of a patient that only a doctor can provide. In general, pharmacists are not permitted to prescribe drugs, only handle and administer them. Whereas a doctor has the opportunity to treat a patient more holistically, the interaction with a pharmacist is brief and puts them in the position to be more of a drug gatekeeper.

As the access to hormonal birth control is made more easily available without doctors’ involvement, we should be concerned with her women will become collateral damage in a system that treats them like customers buying harmless products rather than as patients with individual health needs, considering taking a very powerful hormone-altering drug.

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), also known as “natural birth control” or natural family planning, allow women to manage their health without putting loosely regulated drugs (that come with many health risks and side effects) into their bodies. While our medical system seems to be becoming less and less patient-oriented, it’s reassuring to know that methods like FABMs exist, which allow women to take their health into their own hands in an empowered and safe way.

Posted by Gabriella Patti Gabriella Patti
Gabriella Patti is a journalist currently located in Michigan.

Fewer Children Than Ever Before

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Americans are having fewer children than ever before. According to new data released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for the fourth year in a row the number of children born in the United States has fallen. Last year, 3,788,235 babies were born in the U.S. – a drop of 2% from the previous year, and the lowest number in 32 years.

Behind the drop in total births, however, is an even more dramatic and troubling statistic. The overall fertility rate (i.e. the number of children born per woman) has fallen to its lowest level everat just 1.72. As a general rule, for a population to replace itself, the average birth rate needs to be 2.1 children born per woman.

Up to a point, birth rates tend to reflect the health of the economy. The healthier an economy, the more confident parents are that they can provide for their children, and the more likely they are to have children. At least, that’s the theory. Demographers had previously linkedthe downturn in the birthrate over the past decade to the effects of the 2008 recession. However, even though the economy has since recovered, birth rates continue to fall – something that has taken population experts by surprise.

“I keep expecting to see the birthrates go up, and then they don’t,” demographer Kenneth Johnson of the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy told the Associated Press. Johnson noted that if the fertility rate had remained at the same level as it was before the recession, some additional 5.7 million babies would have been born. “That’s a lot of empty kindergarten rooms,” he noted.

Many mainstream media outlets seemed puzzled about how to frame the latest numbers. On the one hand, many clearly felt compelled to try to put a bright face on the data, suggesting that the reduction in birth rate is a consequence of the greater “reproductive freedom” (i.e. access to contraception and abortion) enjoyed by women. However, underneath the façade of celebration, many news reports also contained a pervasive note of concern. As well they might.

One doesn’t need to be pro-life to recognize that a nation without children is a nation without a future. With an aging population, increasing pressure will be placed on an ever-dwindling work force to keep the economy going, to pay the taxes that support social security, health care for the needy and other social programs, and to provide care for aging parents and grandparents. Furthermore, the smaller number of young people carrying this heavier social and economic burden will be the same people we need to produce children for the next generation.

Where There is God, There is Fruitfulness

However, as one demographer pointed out, America’s increasingly bleak demographic statistics are, in fact, nothing unusual. Quite the contrary. “This is an important change,” Dr. Johnson-Hanks told the New York Times about the latest CDC numbers, “but it is not one that is making us extraordinary. It is making us more like other rich countries. It is making us more normal, in a sense. This is what Canada looks like; this is what Western Europe looks like.”

I suppose Dr. Johnson-Hanks meant this observation to be comforting. But the fact is, on the data he’s absolutely right: this is the new “normal” all across the developed world. In many European countries, the number of deaths has long exceeded the number of births, and many countries have birth rates far, far below that of the U.S.

While some politicians and economists are starting to wake up to the dire economic outlook created by shrinking populations, my own concern is the spiritual crisis that precipitated the demographic one. Indeed, this is where I think the demographers go wrong. The reason the U.S. birth rate isn’t rebounding goes far deeper than the lingering effects of a brief recession: at root it’s not an economic problem, it’s a heart problem…and a theological problem.

In a 2017 homily, Pope Francis addressed this issue head on. “Fill the earth, be fruitful! It is God’s first commandment,” the Holy Father noted, adding that where “there is God, there is fruitfulness.” “[S]ome countries come to mind,” he said, “that have chosen the path of infertility and suffer from that bad disease that is ‘demographic winter’. We know them…. They don’t make children.”

To have such countries “empty of children” is “not a blessing” he lamented. Because “fruitfulness is always a blessing of God.” In concluding his homily, the pope asked: “How is my heart? Is it empty? Always empty, or is it open to continuously receive life and give life? To receive and be fruitful? Or will it be a heart preserved as a museum object that has never been open to life and to give life?”

Pope Francis is right. Children are a blessing from God. The fact that couples are no longer interested in having children, and deliberately prevent them from coming into being, is a sign that – as the Holy Father warned – the hearts of many in the developed world have become museum objects. Our hearts are hearts of stone, and not of flesh.

Nowadays, rather than opening their hearts to new life, many couples prefer to jealously guard their love, viewing children as threat to their relationship, personal wellbeing and autonomy. What these couples fail to understand, is that, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, love, by nature, is diffusive. Love is a fire, and like a fire it yearns to spread, and must spread in order to live and be healthy. Many couples soon learn, the hard way, that by stifling the natural creative fecundity of romantic love, they have also stifled the love itself: the result is disillusion and divorce. This is why I say the demographic crisis is a heart problem.

It is also a theological problem, because the ultimate source of love is God, who is Love itself. However, in the developed world we have thrust God out of public and private life. The three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are the surest sign of God’s presence in our hearts. They are also interrelated. Without faith in the living God, hope dies, and love withers. Without theological hope – the steadfast assurance that, in the end, all things work to the good, and that our destiny is perfect happiness – our fears overwhelm us. Many couples now are so crippled by fear, that all they can see are the “risks” involved in having children – the financial burdens, the possible illnesses and suffering, the limits of their own characters. And without the burning fire of a generous love for God – and the inevitable experience of God’s infinite love in return – many couples can only put their trust in human love, only to find human love, apart from Love itself, is petty and fallible. Without the experience of God’s infinite love, many couples simply do not see the point or the attraction of fruitfulness.

The Contraceptive Mentality

This is the great evil of the “contraceptive mentality” that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Contraception is sold as a means of enabling greater expression of erotic love: but even as it frustrates the natural consequences of sexual behavior, so too does it frustrate the love it is supposed to feed. It does this by quietly replacing the self-sacrificial, outward-looking, self-transcendent nature of authentic love, with a cheap and lifeless verisimilitude.

As I pointed out the other week, in an audience with Pope John Paul II in 1979, Father Marx foretold the collapse in the birthrate with the triumph of the contraceptive mentality. “[O]nce contraception is widespread, the rest is predictable,” he said. “[O]nce 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.”

This is the logic of the Culture of Death. If where there is God, there is fruitfulness, then we should not be surprised that inverse is also true: that where God is ignored and banished, there is barrenness and sterility. Further, just as love is self-diffusive, so, in a sense, is sterility. And so we now see the great scandal of developed Western countries that long ago embraced the hopelessness of the contraceptive mentality and the Culture of Death feverishly working to spread their self-destructive ideology elsewhere.

Pope St. John Paul II warned about this in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. “In the rich and developed countries there is a disturbing decline or collapse of the birthrate,” he wrote. The opposite is true in poorer countries, where couples have many children. However, he said, the powerful and rich nations of the world now behave in the same way as Pharaoh did towards the Israelites, killing their children out of fear of their ascendency.

The powerful elite, said the late Holy Father, “are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person’s inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive program of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy.”

As I have suggested, many people who look at the demographic collapse see only the impending financial repercussions. I see the personal and spiritual repercussions: couples who were called to a great love, but who turned their back on their vocation, to their own personal and spiritual impoverishment; children murdered in abortions and their mothers physically, emotionally, and spiritually scarred; a whole generation of elderly people yearning for the love of children and grandchildren, and living out their final years in loneliness and regret.

In his 1994 Letter to Families, Pope St. John Paul II spoke of the need for families to contribute towards building a “civilization of love.” As Pope Francis observed in his homily, love is inherently fruitful. At this time in history, when so many people are deliberately preaching an anti-Gospel of sterility, we need courageous couples to open their hearts to new life, to recognize the truth that “fruitfulness is always a blessing of God.” In my travels I have met many such families, which evidence an infectious joy that comes of living in God’s love. It is from families such as these that the civilization of love will emerge.

As Pope St. John Paul II explained in the Letter to Families: “The civilization of love evokes joy: joy, among other things, for the fact that a man has come into the world (cf. Jn 16:21), and consequently because spouses have become parents. The civilization of love means ‘rejoicing in the right’ (cf. 1 Cor 13:6). But a civilization inspired by a consumerist, anti-birth mentality is not and cannot ever be a civilization of love.”

Ectopic pregnancies can’t be reimplanted, and removing one isn’t abortion

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Ohio House Bill 182, introduced in April, aims to limit insurance coverage for abortion procedures in which the life of the mother is not at risk. In addition, it would ban birth control drugs or devices such as IUDs that do not prevent fertilization but rather the implantation of the human blastocyst — meaning they technically cause an abortion. But, oddly, the bill also calls for health insurance to cover the re-implantation of an ectopic pregnancy — a procedure that is currently not possible.

An ectopic pregnancy is one that occurs outside of the uterus. Most are located in a fallopian tube, but some are found in the mother’s abdomen. One to two percent of all pregnancies are ectopic, and risk factors include pelvic inflammatory disease due to chlamydial infection, smoking, tubal surgery, history of infertility, and in vitro fertilization — which actually increases the chances of experiencing a tubal pregnancy. While the future of medicine is wide and hopefully someday babies involved in ectopic pregnancies can be saved along with their mothers, the technology simply doesn’t exist today.

The odds of successfully carrying an ectopic pregnancy to term are non-existent if the baby is growing in a fallopian tube, and just one in three million for babies developing in their mother’s abdomen. An ectopic pregnancy is one of the most common causes of death among women during the first trimester. The danger exists in the ectopic pregnancy going undiagnosed and the fallopian tube rupturing. If a procedure existed to save both mother and child, doctors would be performing it. Unfortunately, such a procedure doesn’t exist.

The bill also removes a section of the current law that states women can be reimbursed for the “termination of an ectopic pregnancy.” It’s important to note that surgically removing an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion.

Abortion is a violent act intentionally committed with the purpose of ending the life of the preborn child. In an ectopic pregnancy, the preborn child is removed in order to save the life of the mother. It is not the intentional killing of a preborn child. If the child was left in the fallopian tube, the mother and baby would both die; therefore, by removing the baby, the mother has a chance of surviving. The baby’s death is an unintended and tragic side effect of the surgery performed to save the mother.

Ectopic pregnancy is a tragedy, but abortion isn’t needed in order to save the mother’s health or life; in fact, abortion is never needed to save a woman’s life. And as medical science advances, we hope that someday both mothers and babies involved in ectopic pregnancies can be saved.

Marie Stopes: the air-brushed heroine of birth control

Philippa Taylor

For some, the name Marie Stopes speaks of an organisation, one of the biggest abortion providers in the world. For others, it speaks of a person, a feminist icon and pioneer of birth control and family planning.

Both are true, but few people know the full story about Marie Stopes the woman, the author, palaeobotanist, family planning pioneer, and eugenicist. It is Marie Stopes the woman that I focus on here because she is key to understanding the organisation  that bears her name today.

Marie Stopes is widely lauded today as a feminist hero and women’s rights campaigner.

The BBC history page dedicated to Marie Stopes introduces her as a “campaigner for women’s rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning” and says nothing negative about her. A biography on the Manchester University website describes her as  “truly an extraordinary woman. Despite the hardships she had faced from her opponents, she continued to pursue the causes she believed in, and remains to this day as a much loved and respected figure. In honour of her name the charity Marie Stopes International [was] established in the 1970s.”  Readers of The Guardian voted Stopes Woman of the Millennium in 1999. In 2008 she was chosen by an all-female, all-feminist committee to be one of six women pioneers in the Royal Mail’s Women of Distinction collection.

The organisation named after her, Marie Stopes International (MSI) is clearly proud of its link to her, their website making clear that their present work is built on her legacy:

“The way we provide contraception and safe abortion services has been shaped, to a large extent, by our history. And by the lives of two pioneers of the family planning movement, Dr Marie Stopes and Dr Tim Black. Both built reputations for their client-centred approach and their willingness to push boundaries – qualities that are central to how we work today.”

Stopes the eugenicist

However, both the MSI website, the BBC historical figures page dedicated to Stopes, and many other biographies leave out a great deal of interesting information. In particular, her openly racist and eugenic beliefs and practices have been largely overlooked and ignored or, at best, framed as an embarrassing footnote to her achievements.

Here are some less well-known facts about Marie Stopes and her beliefs:

1. From 1918 to the early 1930s she published several books on marriage and birth control. One of these was Radiant Motherhood (1920) and in a chapter headed ‘A new and irradiated race’ Stopes reveals her underlying (and repulsive) agenda behind her push for widespread birth control: ‘it is the urgent duty of the community to make parenthood impossible for those whose mental and physical conditions are such that there is a certainty that their offspring must be physically and mentally tainted…’ She wants their sterilisation made immediate and made compulsory otherwise there will be an: ‘…ever increasing stock of degenerate, feeble-minded and unbalanced who will devastate social customs…like the parasite upon a healthy tree.’

2. She did not just write, but actively lobbied the Prime Minister and Parliament to pass Acts to enforce compulsory sterilisation in order to: ‘…ensure the sterility of the hopelessly rotten and racially diseased…by the elimination of wasteful lives.’

3. Stopes also urged the National Birth Rate Commission to support the compulsory sterilisation of parents who were diseased, prone to drunkenness or of ‘bad character’.  To use a selection of her words, the: ‘hopelessly bad cases, bad through inherent disease, or drunkenness or character’, ’wastrels, the diseased…the miserable [and] the criminal’, ’degenerate, feeble minded and unbalanced’, ’parasites’, and the ‘insane’. In Wise Parenthood she explains: ‘Our race is weakened by an appallingly high percentage of unfit weaklings and diseased individuals.’

4. Marie Stopes’ first family planning clinic was in North London in 1921 and was run by an organisation she founded: The Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress. It was no coincidence that her birth control clinics were clustered in deprived areas, to focus on reducing the birth rate of the poor lower classes and prevent the birth of those whom she considered to be ‘the inferior, the depraved, and the feeble-minded’.

5. Her views were not a passing fad. In 1934 she publicly stated that ‘the half-caste’ should be sterilised at birth. In 1956, two years before she died, Marie Stopes asserted that one-third of British men should be forcibly sterilised, ‘starting with the ugly and unfit’.

6. Stopes cut her own son out of her will simply because he married a girl who wore glasses. Instead, the bulk of her estate went to the Eugenics Society.

7. Stopes was a Nazi supporter. In 1935, she attended a Nazi Congress for Population Science in Berlin. Four years later she sent Hitlera gushing personal letter along with a volume of her love poems: ‘Dear Herr Hitler, love is the greatest thing in the world: so will you accept from me these that you may allow the young people of your nation to have them?‘ A poem of hers from 1942, at the height of the Jewish Holocaust, has this to say:  ‘Catholics and Prussians, The Jews and the Russians, All are a curse, Or something worse…’ The irony of people today praising Stopes is captured by Anthony Ozimic of SPUC: ‘Praising Marie Stopes as a woman of distinction should be as unacceptable as praising Adolf Hitler as a great leader. Both promoted compulsory sterilisation and the elimination of society’s most vulnerable members to achieve what they called racial progress.’

8. The BBC website states that the Catholic Church was Stope’s fiercest critic. They fail to clarify it was actually the Catholic Church that most opposed her appalling eugenic beliefs. In the 1920s, a legal victory against the rising eugenic tide was won by Dr Sutherland, with the support of the Catholic church, over Marie Stopes. Sutherland actually opposed eugenics long before he became a Catholic. Yet Stopes is lauded today as a feminist hero, while the story of the eugenics libel trial, and the Catholic role in trying to stop eugenics, has been either overlooked or dismissed as simplistic Catholic opposition to contraception.

9. Moreover, Dr Sutherland and others were actively trying to prevent and cure tuberculosis, (the disease of poverty) while at the same time influential eugenicists decried their efforts as a waste of time. Eugenicists considered tuberculosis was a ‘friend of the race’ because it was a natural check on the ‘unfit’ and poor, killing them before they could reproduce.
How ironic that Stopes, who describes poor children as ‘puny-faced, gaunt, blotchy, ill-balanced, feeble, ungainly, withered’ is the one now feted as a feminist heroine, and Sutherland who tried to treat and heal them is forgotten.

10. The deliberate excision of Stopes’ eugenic legacy has made her a secular saint. The abortion industry in particular, and liberalism in general, have effectively erased Stopes’ racism and hatred of the poor (such inconvenient historical facts) from their collective memory. Yet the truth is, Marie Stopes was not motivated by a kind of early feminism but rather ‘by the urge to reduce the numbers of the ‘burgeoning Lumpenproletariat.’

Stopes and other eugenicists endorsed legalised birth control because the working class was too ‘drunken and ignorant’ to be trusted to keep its own numbers down.

This all helps to explain why today, Marie Stopes International, arguably the biggest abortion and birth control provider in the world, focuses on providing cheap abortions in developing countries directly to the poorest women in the world.

Recall, as I quoted above, the MSI website: ‘The way we provide contraception and safe abortion services has been shaped, to a large extent, by our history. And by the lives of two pioneers of the family planning movement, Dr Marie Stopes and Dr Tim Black.’

I agree with them: Marie Stopes’ eugenic and racist goals in family planning shape MSI even today:

The truth is, liberal abortion legislation and ‘safe abortion’ provision in developing countries has no effect on maternal mortality rates ie. women’s health. (An attempt to discredit these findings had to be retracted!).  Liberalising abortion laws increases numbers of abortions but what genuinely improves maternal mortality rates and health and thus truly helps women (and their unborn children) is education, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and maternal health care for women.

It seems that a neo-colonial and eugenic agenda carries on, with a different cloak and mantle and exported to a different part of the world, but with the same underlying agenda that Marie Stopes had. ‘History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.’

Philippa Taylor is Head of Public Policy at Christian Medical Fellowship. She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues. Republished with permission from the CMF blog.

Babies Conceived in Rape Shouldn’t be Aborted Just Because of Their Father’s Crime

KRISTAN HAWKINS

When it comes to gun violence in schools, people get outraged about children in danger of losing their lives. It’s a worthy concern. According to Education Week, in 2018 28 students were killed in school shootings, while so far in 2019, 2 children have been killed.

That is tragic. But it’s not about the math; it’s about the loss of life … and 30 lives forever gone are 30 too many. But have you noticed that when it comes to babies born during abortions — or viable babies aborted after 20 weeks — all you hear is that it’s not that many? But how many are there?

Consider this, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the abortion-industry think tank the Guttmacher Institute, “only” about 1.3 percent of abortions are late-term (after 21 weeks). With an abortion rate of 879,000 in 2017, that’s more than 11,400 increasingly viable babies at risk.

Those increasingly viable babies face pain, suffering and loss of life.

And what of those who may be exposed to infanticide, allowed to die only because they were born during an abortion, how many might there be?

USA Today notes: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 143 deaths between 2003 and 2014 involving infants born alive during attempted abortions,” with CDC also reporting “it is possible that this number (143) underestimates the total number of deaths involving induced termination.” In another report, the CDC also notes, “Although unlikely, the induced abortion procedure may result in a live birth.”

May? Many abortion survivors are alive and available to tell their own stories. Articulate people like Melissa Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, Josiah Presley or Claire Culwell, speak eloquently about life after almost death at the hands of an abortionist.

In fact, Ohden’s Abortion Survivors Network reports that 279 people have come forward saying that their birthday began in an abortion vendor’s office, in a life and death struggle from their first breath of life.

And how many infants lose their lives because of what happened on the night of their conception?

The New York Times proudly has proclaimed an often-reported number, that babies conceived in rape or incest are “only” 1 percent of those targeted with abortion. With an abortion figure of 879,000, that’s at least 8,790 people who were discriminated against based on the night of their conception.

Children conceived in rape are still children, unique and valuable, deserving of their own chance to make a mark on the world. A civil society does not execute children for the crimes of their fathers, yet when it comes to abortion the knee-jerk assumption is that they should pay the ultimate price rather than putting the focus on the criminal guilty of violence.

Consider that if my father commits a sexual assault today society would not allow his victim to legally kill me tomorrow. The sins of the fathers are not passed on to the children under our system of justice, and my ability to be seen and heard makes that kind of death unthinkable. As it should be. Yet children conceived in rape must endure the constant messaging that the world would be better off if they were dead, and many do end tragically through abortion.

Alabama legislators made a courageous and counter-cultural choice when they said that they cared most about mother and preborn child by focusing their law on the abortionist preying on women, by putting in protections for mothers whose lives were at risk and by telling the world that they loved the children whose stories began in a moment like rape or incest. That moment did nothing to detract from their worth or right to enjoy a chance at life.

In the United States, birth certificates are not issued with points awarded based on your parents’ race, income, marital status or the events on the night of your conception. Birth certificates note one thing: a unique human being has entered the world.

And as we look at the math, it’s clear that the victims of abortion for even the most “rare” cases still number in the thousands. How many need to die before the math just doesn’t add up for a civil society?

When it comes to gun violence in schools, people get outraged about children in danger of losing their lives. It’s a worthy concern. According to Education Week, in 2018 28 students were killed in school shootings, while so far in 2019, 2 children have been killed.

That is tragic. But it’s not about the math; it’s about the loss of life … and 30 lives forever gone are 30 too many. But have you noticed that when it comes to babies born during abortions — or viable babies aborted after 20 weeks — all you hear is that it’s not that many? But how many are there?

Consider this, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the abortion-industry think tank the Guttmacher Institute, “only” about 1.3 percent of abortions are late-term (after 21 weeks). With an abortion rate of 879,000 in 2017, that’s more than 11,400 increasingly viable babies at risk.

Those increasingly viable babies face pain, suffering and loss of life.

And what of those who may be exposed to infanticide, allowed to die only because they were born during an abortion, how many might there be?

USA Today notes: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 143 deaths between 2003 and 2014 involving infants born alive during attempted abortions,” with CDC also reporting “it is possible that this number (143) underestimates the total number of deaths involving induced termination.” In another report, the CDC also notes, “Although unlikely, the induced abortion procedure may result in a live birth.”

May? Many abortion survivors are alive and available to tell their own stories. Articulate people like Melissa Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, Josiah Presley or Claire Culwell, speak eloquently about life after almost death at the hands of an abortionist.

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In fact, Ohden’s Abortion Survivors Network reports that 279 people have come forward saying that their birthday began in an abortion vendor’s office, in a life and death struggle from their first breath of life.

And how many infants lose their lives because of what happened on the night of their conception?

The New York Times proudly has proclaimed an often-reported number, that babies conceived in rape or incest are “only” 1 percent of those targeted with abortion. With an abortion figure of 879,000, that’s at least 8,790 people who were discriminated against based on the night of their conception.

Children conceived in rape are still children, unique and valuable, deserving of their own chance to make a mark on the world. A civil society does not execute children for the crimes of their fathers, yet when it comes to abortion the knee-jerk assumption is that they should pay the ultimate price rather than putting the focus on the criminal guilty of violence.

Consider that if my father commits a sexual assault today society would not allow his victim to legally kill me tomorrow. The sins of the fathers are not passed on to the children under our system of justice, and my ability to be seen and heard makes that kind of death unthinkable. As it should be. Yet children conceived in rape must endure the constant messaging that the world would be better off if they were dead, and many do end tragically through abortion.

Alabama legislators made a courageous and counter-cultural choice when they said that they cared most about mother and preborn child by focusing their law on the abortionist preying on women, by putting in protections for mothers whose lives were at risk and by telling the world that they loved the children whose stories began in a moment like rape or incest. That moment did nothing to detract from their worth or right to enjoy a chance at life.

In the United States, birth certificates are not issued with points awarded based on your parents’ race, income, marital status or the events on the night of your conception. Birth certificates note one thing: a unique human being has entered the world.

And as we look at the math, it’s clear that the victims of abortion for even the most “rare” cases still number in the thousands. How many need to die before the math just doesn’t add up for a civil society?

Growing Violence Against Pro-Lifers

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I am troubled by what appears to be a growing trend of violent attacks on peaceful pro-life activists.

Perhaps the most famous recent instance was caught in a dramatic video last fall. The video shows a twenty-something-year-old man wearing a purple sweater, with a pentagram (a pagan symbol) on a necklace around his neck. He asks the pro-life woman behind the camera what should happen if a 16-year-old gets pregnant by rape. From his tone, it is clear that he doesn’t really want an answer. Still, the woman begins to explain that the child is still a child, and should not be murdered, regardless of how the baby is conceived. Before she can finish, however, the young man sticks out his tongue, winds up, and kicks her. The camera falls and clatters on the ground. A female voice is heard crying, “Someone call the cops!”

The woman who was assaulted, Marie-Claire Bissonnette, described in a written account the astonishing indifference of the Toronto police who arrived on the scene. Eventually, however, the attacker was identified, and charges were filed. As it turns out, the same man was responsible for another violent assault on a pro-life activist some months before.

Courtesy of Lifesite – Marie-Claire Bissonnette, Youth Coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition

As Bissonnette points out, the attack on her is far from an isolated incident. And while the video of the assault against her was viewed millions of times, most of these assaults receive little to no public attention. On the very same day that Bissonnette was attacked, for instance, a woman walked up to a pro-life man who was silently praying at a location just West of Toronto and poured paint down his back. This was mild in comparison to what happened just days before, also in Toronto, when Gabby Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, walked up to pro-life activist Blaise Alleyne and proceeded to repeatedly punch her, attempted to grab her bag, and threw a metal dolly at her.

One elderly woman recently had her leg broken when she was assaulted outside Kentucky’s only abortion facility, in Louisville. Another elderly man, participating in the recent Lenten 40 Days for Life campaign, was thrown to the ground and viciously and repeatedly kicked. Then there’s the woman who was left bruised after being punched outside a clinic in Alabama. Or the young man who was repeatedly punched by a pro-abortion woman during a pro-life demonstration at the University of North Carolina.

As a life-long pro-lifer, Bissonnette has participated in pro-life demonstrations for years. She says she has repeatedly suffered physical and verbal assault. “Rocks have been thrown at me,” she writes. “I’ve been spat upon multiple times and pushed. Men have aggressively asked how I would like it if they raped me and forced me to have an abortion.”

Brian Sims’ Contemptible Attack

Thankfully the issue of aggression and violence against peaceful pro-life activists is receiving some (but still shockingly limited) media attention right now, thanks to the contemptible antics of Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Brian Sims. Earlier this month Sims posted a video of himself harassing a pro-life woman who was praying the rosary outside an abortion facility, calling her “shameful,” “disgusting,” “racist,” as well as “old white lady.”

Even worse, he also filmed himself approaching two young girls (aged 13 and 15), calling them “a bunch of pseudo-Christian protesters who’ve been out here shaming young girls for being here.” Sims then offers $100 to anybody who can identify the girls. This is called “doxing” – that is, publicly identifying ordinary citizens in order to subject them to systematic shame and harassment. It’s a terrible practice. Coming from an elected politician, aimed at young, minor girls, it’s downright evil.

Ironically, in posting the footage of his harassment of the girls, Sims accused the pro-life activists of “prey[ing] on young women.” People who protest Planned Parenthood” use white privilege, & shame,” he claimed. “They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition.”

Got that? According to Sims, young pro-life girls “need” to be harassed by grown men such as himself. Astonishingly, at the time of this writing, Sims has neither resigned, nor been dismissed from office, though he did record and release a video apology. If instead of a pro-abortion Democrat, it had been a pro-life Republican who berated and doxed young teen girls I think this story would have ended quite differently.

Democratic State Representative Brian Sims has harassed pro-lifers on more than one occasion.

Both Discouraging and Hopeful

Obtaining reliable statistics on assaults against pro-life activists is difficult, and so I can’t say with certitude that there are more of these types of attacks than in the past. What is certain, however, is that reports of these attacks have been coming out with surprising frequency these past few months, and that many of them have been unusually brutal. I’m far from the only one to notice this.

What does this trend mean? On the one hand, it is clearly a discouraging sign of the spiritual sickness of our culture, the growth of a violent underbelly in our national discourse, a testament to the woundedness of so many men and women, and evidence in many cases that pro-abortion activists are held to a completely different standard than pro-lifers by the media, politicians, and the public.

Sims, for instance, clearly believed that pro-life activists were “fair game” for his vicious anger. Why else would he have proudly broadcast his harassment to the world? From his perspective, pro-life women had forfeited their rights to be treated with even a modicum of decency and respect.

This kind of dismissive attitude towards just about anyone who holds traditional moral values is becoming alarmingly common. Consider, for instance, the fact that, as far as I can find, no prominent liberal politicians, media figures or activists have publicly condemned Sim’s misbehavior. Truth be told, many so-called “progressives” now see almost no difference between ordinary social conservatives who believe such things as that marriage is between a man and a woman, and neo-Nazi skinheads.

On the other hand, one senses that the desperation that motivates these attacks stems in part from anger in the face of the fact that the pro-life movement is succeeding as never before. And this is cause for hope. One of the recent attacks, for instance, was in Alabama, which just last week passed the single-most restrictive abortion bill in the country, a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state, and that was designed directly to challenge Roe v. Wade. This was only the latest of several strongly pro-life bills explicitly crafted as a test to overturn Roe v. Wade.

There are further reasons to think that the growing instances of assault on pro-lifers are a cause for hope. Consider, for example, the obvious fact that in order for pro-life activists to be assaulted in the first place, they need to be in a public space, proclaiming their pro-life beliefs, and trying to prevent abortions from taking place. As it turns out, on any day of the week, all across the country, in rain, shine, snow or hail, thousands of peaceful pro-life activists are gathering outside abortion clinics to pray. Others are holding signs on public streets, or demonstrating on college campuses. That so many are willing to sacrifice their time, and to take the risk of boldly defending human life, is a great sign of hope.

2019 Walk for Life, San Francisco

Another reason for hope is the response of the pro-life activists who are the victims of these assaults. Consider Donna Durning, the pro-life woman whose leg was broken after she was shoved to the ground. “I believe that the lady who caused this injury needs prayers,” Durning said after the attack, “and I’m forgiving her and I would hope that people would also pray for her.” Abby Johnson, who recently spoke at a public rally protesting Brian Sims’ harassment, had much the same message. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody that needs Jesus more than that man right there,” she said about Sims.

Indeed, it is very likely that many of those perpetrating these assaults are themselves deeply wounded by abortion. Perhaps they themselves had an abortion, or paid for an abortion; or perhaps some close loved one, perhaps even their own mothers, had abortions. Their anger and their violence against pro-lifers is evil, but I strongly suspect that in many cases they are the products of deep pain, pain that only love – above all the love of Christ – can heal. Clearly the pro-life message is Gospel-motivated. However, it is deeply encouraging to see how thoroughly the Gospel has penetrated into the pro-life movement, so that even those pro-lifers who have been violently assaulted by our ideological opponents can say, along with Christ, that most Christian of all prayers: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Walk for Life 2019, San Francisco

I hope that you will join me today in praying both for the victims of these attacks, and for the perpetrators. Furthermore, I hope that these incidents, far from discouraging our efforts, will cause us to redouble them. Though more common than I should like, such violent attacks are still relatively rare in comparison to the number of pro-lifers participating in peaceful prayer vigils and the like. Certainly, these attacks should not frighten us away. We need more and more pro-lifers to listen to the call of Christ, and to physically place themselves where the killing of innocents is taking place, so that they can serve as a voice for the violence against pro-lifers///. Thanks to the many silent prayer warriors who participate in 40 Days for Life vigils, or other peaceful protests, untold numbers of babies have been saved, and mothers and fathers spared life-long regret. Will you respond to Christ’s call, and join their life-saving efforts?

 

 

We Ought to Think Twice About Getting a Prescription without Seeing a Doctor

by Lindsay Schlegel

As a busy woman with a lot on her plate, I am all for streamlining where possible and making time to focus on the things that are important to me: my family, my work, and my health. I’m often for it when technology makes daily tasks quicker, easier, and cheaper. Grocery shopping from home? Yes, please. Buying a gift online when my child is invited to a birthday party? Absolutely. Working out to a video in my living room rather than driving to the gym? Let’s do this.

And yet I can’t help but see a forest of red flags raised at the prospect of women buying hormonal birth control online or via an app, without having an in-person consultation with a doctor.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, buying birth control online, direct to consumer medication, birth control without a doctor, online prescriptions, hormonal birth control, the pill, birth control, menstrual cycle, fertility, doctor consultation, interpersonal treatment, in person care, doctors visit, birth control side effects,

The Virtues of the Middleman

Direct-to-consumer medicine” is a new and rapidly growing e-commerce market that seeks to improve our existing healthcare model in terms of efficiency and convenience by offering prescriptions to reverse hair loss, treat erectile dysfunction, treat skin conditions, and prevent pregnancy by mail. According to an article via Yahoo! (sponsored by Nurx, one of the sites offering the service for birth control), “Gone are the days of being blindsided by unexpected costs, judgy doctors or pharmacists, long waits for appointments and other health care woes.”

A more objective article at the New York Times puts it this way: “The sites invert the usual practice of medicine by turning the act of prescribing drugs into a service. Instead of doctors making diagnoses and then suggesting treatments, patients request drugs and physicians serve largely as gatekeepers.”

In one of the testimonials in that Nurx-sponsored article, Ilena writes, “The customer support team is incredibly helpful. Every time I have a question, like if I’m getting weird symptoms, I always hear back right away.”

We should be concerned about replacing patient-doctor conversations with those of customer support teams—because the priorities of each are inherently different. At my doctor’s office, there are doctors and nurses, but no “customer support team”—because in my doctor’s care, I’m a patient whose health is the first priority, not a customer to whom my provider is looking to sell a product. And because my doctor knows more about me than a survey can communicate, she can help make recommendations for my care as a whole, not with only one concern in mind.

Until recently, advertising for pharmaceuticals—whether online, on TV, or in magazines—concluded with, “Talk to your doctor about…” Now, the doctor is virtually cut out of the equation. Sites like HimsHersNurxThe Pill Club, and PRJKT RUBY are more like online retail shopping than a trip to the doctor.

Skipping a visit to the doctor’s office and pharmacy is certainly more convenient than dealing with uncertain wait times. Still, we have to consider that in this model, “doctors can’t address secondary issues that surface during a consultation and can’t add information to a patient’s home medical record,” notes Vishal Khetpal, third-year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in his essay “The Worrisome Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Medicine” published at Undark, an editorially independent magazine.

Khetpal says that his conversations with patients usually begin with what brought them in, but typically broaden to include previous diagnoses, new concerns, end-of-life care, and evidence-based preventative measures such as improving diet and scheduling screenings. “We [act] on the concerns of the present,” he says, “but also anticipate the needs of the future.”

Is This the Path We Want to Be On?

The future, indeed. We know that we skim more than read on our screens, so reading that a writer at Slate who used the Pill Club got a list of side effects via text message to which a reply was not required, is less than ideal. We should be concerned that changing access to birth control in this way means there will likely be less informed consent in receiving medications that have a proven history of serious side effects and other possible abuses that are yet to be seen.

Hormonal birth control is often touted as being a safe, healthy choice for women to take control of their sexual lives. That claim has been proven false, by reports of deaths caused by blood clots and the increase in depression in women on hormonal birth control. Too often, hormonal birth control is prescribed to mitigate symptoms of other conditions, rather than seeking out and treating the root cause. This is one of the reasons I use and encourage my family and friends to consider the natural birth control alternatives known as fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs), whether they are sexually active or not. Making access to hormonal birth control even easier and even less concerned with the person popping the pills (or inserting the shot, or giving herself the injections—seriously) seems to me a dangerous road to travel down, particularly when there are other options available.

Personal Decisions Made in an Impersonal Way

For those who have current prescriptions, direct-to-consumer sites offer discreet, unmarked packaging; free shipping (sometimes with treats like chocolate and stickers thrown in); and recurrent deliveries to keep users in supply. In the 38 states where it’s legal, sites also generate new prescriptions. In the latter case, customers fill out an online questionnaire, which the organization says will be reviewed by a licensed medical professional. The customer will be contacted if there are any questions, but the implication seems to be that ideally, most cases will receive the stamp of approval without any direct interaction between the provider and the customer. What’s more alarming is that on these sites, I found it difficult or impossible to find background on the doctors and nurse practitionerswriting the scripts.

I get that waiting in line at the doctor’s office is a pain, and that it can feel like we have better things to do. But as Khetpal makes clear, there’s a difference between filling out a questionnaire and discussing the responses with a human being.

Furthermore, a common theme on the sites I researched was that they were not intended to replace primary care physicians. Maybe not intended, but I can see it happening pretty easily. Half the customers at one site said they used the service to get their first hormonal birth control prescription. And if it’s that much easier and costs the same or less, many people would say, why not?

We can’t forget that there’s good reason prescription medications typically allow only a certain number of refills before the patient needs to check in with her healthcare provider. Again, note my use of “patient” here, rather than “customer.” If we get used to healthcare being this expedited, yearly screenings and simply establishing care with a doctor could fall by the wayside without much of a second thought, creating more damage to public health than good.

Supervision TBD

Because this technology is new and developing, the legal system hasn’t quite caught up yet. Customers should be aware that “there is no single federal or state agency in charge of overseeing online prescription drug services.” These services claim not to be “health providers,” which means they quite literally don’t have to play by the same rules as physicians.

What does that look like? Well, for one thing, researchers who have tried out the services to gauge the quality of the sites found, more than once, that important usage information was delivered inconsistently. For another, we’ve been taught since we were children never to take another person’s medication. Yet one site, Kick, sells a blood pressure medication to customers who are interested in its potential side effect of calming performance anxiety. These issues, I fear, are only the beginning. Without instituting ethical and consistent practices, this industry could cause a lot of harm in a field whose focus is supposed to be healing.

At the end of the day, when it comes to something as important as our health, convenient isn’t always better.

We Ought to Think Twice About Getting a Prescription without Seeing a Doctor

Contraception has led to ‘diabolical’ experiments on human life: cardinal

ROME, Italy, May 17, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Church of England’s endorsement of contraception at its 1930 Lambeth Conference has led to the “diabolical monstrosity” of “procreative medicine,” German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller told the Rome Life Forum on Friday (read full talk below or here).

It also led to the American Protestant Federation of Churches collectively endorsing contraception in 1961 as “morally justified if the motives are just,” and essentially obliged the Catholic Church to “tackle the matter of contraception” at the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Brandmüller said in an address delivered in Italian on “The Prehistory of Humanae Vitae.” His talk was given in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).

By that time, a “number of Catholic theologians, to a greater or lesser extent” had also endorsed contraception, and the “concept of situational ethics” on which that position is based had “penetrated Catholic moral theology,” said Brandmüller, a dubia cardinal and president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

Thus Pope Paul’s 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae reaffirming Catholic teaching, which had been affirmed by Pius XI in Casti Connubii and by Pius XII and John XXIII, that contraception is intrinsically evil, “triggered a fierce storm of protest within the Church.”

The acceptance of contraception — which separates the sexual act from procreation — has now resulted in practice of “procreative medicine” — in-vitro fertilization, genetic engineering, eugenic prenatal screening, abortion — in which “man has seated himself on the throne of the Creator,” Cardinal Brandmüller said.

Practitioners of reproductive medicine carry out experiments that “sacrilegiously violate the sanctity of human life” and interventions “of an almost diabolical monstrosity, today heralded as spectacular breakthroughs,” he observed.

“We hope for a renewed reception, adoption and more profound transmission of the truly prophetic teaching of Paul VI in our days,” the cardinal concluded.

The theme of the 6th Rome Life Forum is “City of God vs. City of Man — Global One World Order vs. Christendom.” The two-day conference is hosted by Voice of the Family and co-sponsored by LifeSiteNewsAssociazione Famiglia Domani (Italy), Family Life International New Zealand, and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (UK).

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Talk by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
Give at Rome Life Forum, Rome, May 17, 2019
Pontificia Università di San Tommaso d’Aquino (Angelicum)

An insight into the pre-history of Humanae vitae 

Last year we commemorated Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae vitae, published in July 1968, in the midst of the cultural revolution in that year.

Among other things in this encyclical, Paul VI put an end, in doctrinal terms, to disputations pursued with great fervor even within the Catholic Church on the lawfulness and moral reprehensibility of artificial contraception. The encyclical therefore triggered a fierce storm of protest within the Church.

The matter became a subject of controversy in the Catholic world when, at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Church of England reached a decision, based on a vote of 193 in favor and 67 votes against, entirely in keeping with the secular spirit of the time, in favor of contraception. The first person to be open to neo-Malthusian propaganda after the First World War was probably the Anglican Bishop of Birmingham, Russell Wakefield. Conversely, in 1920 the Lambeth Conference  —  the Church of England’s assembly of Bishops — decisively opposed any attempt to put forward medical, financial or social justification for birth control.

Nevertheless, a poll of priests showed that half of the lay people interviewed did not use contraceptives, while the other half used prophylactics or coitus interruptus. However, the personal physician to the head of the Church of England, Lord Dawson di Penn declared, in contradiction of the decision of the 1921 Lambeth conference, that birth control should not be refused from either a medical or an ecclesiastical standpoint. Hence a barrier had been broken down and the Anglican Church assumed a leading role in influencing opinion in the non-Catholic world.

At the beginning however, this was not the case. Eminent representatives of Lutheranism and the Methodist Episcopal Church South saw in contraception one of the “most repugnant modern travesties”, a return to morally ruinous paganism. On 2 April 1931 The Presbyterian wrote as follows on the adoption of the Lambeth Resolution by the USA Federal Council of Churches: “Its recent pronouncement on birth control should be sufficient cause, even if there were no others, for the withdrawal of its support from that body, which declares that it speaks for the Presbyterian and other Protestant Churches in ex cathedra pronouncements.”

Surprisingly, on 22 March 1931 the Washington Post joined with the protests against the adoption of the Lambeth decision: “Carried to its logical conclusion, the [Lambeth] Committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.”

The Encyclical of Pius XI, Casti connubii, published on 31 December 1930, which presented the Catholic position with great clarity, met with an impressive ecumenical consensus.

However, this fortuitous period came to an abrupt end. In spite of the Encyclical, disputations multiplied, in the Catholic world also, to be interrupted only by the Second World War. A number of Catholic theologians, to a greater or lesser extent, endorsed the position of the USA Federal Council of Churches and its resolution of 23 February 1961:

The majority of Protestant Churches regard contraception and periodic abstinence as morally justified if the motives are just. It is generally believed by Protestants that the motives, rather than the methods, constitute the principal moral problem, providing that the methods are limited to the prevention of conception. Protestant Christians are in agreement in condemning abortion and any method which destroys human life, unless the health or life of the mother is at risk.

The fact that behind this statement was the concept of situational ethics cannot be ignored: illustrious names such as J. Paul Sartre, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Buber and finally A. T. Robinson denied the existence of permanently binding moral standards. This idea then penetrated Catholic moral theology.

These, in broad terms, were therefore the circumstances under which the Second Vatican Council was obliged to tackle the matter of contraception. During the debates, Catholic voices were raised in the Council chamber calling for endorsement of the American Protestant position described above.

The ingenuity with which Cardinal [Leo] Suenens [of Belgium] believed he could compare the development of modern contraceptives to the discoveries of  Galileo Galilei is to be noted.

We also recall in this regard the warning from Cardinal Suenens — in fact the spokesperson of  Döpfner, Alfruk and Hélder Câmara,  The Rhine flows into the Tiber — issued with terrible pathos to the Council fathers, that the Church should not, for the love of God, create a new Galileo case, by once again opposing the discoveries of modern science through its refusal of contraception, an utterance which certainly failed to demonstrate any great knowledge of the Galileo affair.

Today however, we are confronted with the results of a process of erosion initiated at the 1930 Lambeth Conference which, from the approval of artificial contraception, has led us to the monstrosity of what is today known as procreative medicine, by which man has seated himself on the throne of the Creator.

Goethe’s Prometheus said: “I am here and I create men in my image …”.

These words, written more than two hundred years ago, in fact mirror this notion of self which, today, is driving the protagonists of so-called reproductive medicine to carry out these experiments, through which they sacrilegiously violate the sanctity of human life.  These are interventions — and there are almost no words to describe them — of an almost diabolical monstrosity, today heralded as spectacular breakthroughs … It only remains for us to wait until these Prometheic persons arrive at the same destiny as their mythical hero.

It is therefore, and in the context of these circumstances, that tribute should be paid to the Encyclical Humanae Vitae published in 1968, a doctrinal document whose prophetic nature has, over time, also been acknowledged by leading non-Catholic thinkers. One of the most illustrious of these was Max Horkheimer, first among the leaders and then among the critics of the Frankfurt School, who allied himself with Paul VI. The journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, at that date still a Communist, gave a favourable welcome to the Pope’s Encyclical.

In this encyclical, Paul VI brought temporary closure to a series of doctrinal affirmations on the matter of contraception, instigated by Pius XI in Casti Connubii and continued by Pius XII and John XXIII. These were ultimately taken up, developed and deepened by John Paul II.

Humanae Vitae provides an extraordinary example of the workings of the process of parodosis, which means transmission of the doctrine of the Church. When the truth of faith is received, adopted and transmitted, what happens is that what is received, when adopted and transmitted, responds with deeper understanding and more precise expression to the needs of the respective present, while continuing to be identical to itself. In all of this, contradiction between yesterday and today is impossible: it is the Holy Spirit who acts in the Church of Jesus Christ to guide this process of paradosis. It is the Holy Spirit who ensures that the faith of the Church develops in the course of time, just as an adult person continues to be identical to the infant it was in the past, an intuition formulated by Vincent of Lérins as early as 430 and elaborated upon by Blessed John Henry Newman.

*

Today, we hope for a renewed reception, adoption and more profound transmission of the truly prophetic teaching of Paul VI in our days.

Govt.-funded lab seeks to buy ‘fresh’ aborted baby heart, pancreas from almost anyone

IRVINE, May 15, 2019 (Center for Medical Progress) – The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the citizen journalism organization responsible for the undercover video series exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby body parts, revealed today that over the past month, government-funded researchers at University of California San Diego (UCSD) have sought to purchase hearts and pancreases from aborted fetuses from CMP.

CMP is a well-known citizen journalism organization that advocates against the commercial exploitation of aborted fetal body parts. The Frazer Laboratory at UC San Diego runs in part with NIH grants—but the NIH spending database does not classify the Frazer grant money as related to human fetal tissue experimentation.

In April, UCSD’s Frazer Laboratory emailed CMP “searching for human fetal pancreas from 4-5 donors.” CMP investigative journalists then engaged in an email dialogue with the Frazer Laboratory to learn more about the Lab’s demand for fetal body parts from abortions. While never promising to provide fetal tissue, CMP asked the Frazer Lab for more details about the project and probed the Lab’s engagement with the market in aborted fetal organs and tissues.

Startlingly, while asking for body parts from first trimester aborted fetuses, the Lab also wrote that fetuses up to six months “should be compatible with our experimental design.” When informed that the “market price” for fresh fetal organs was $500 to $750 per specimen, the Frazer Lab was not fazed, replying “please let me consult the pricing with Prof. Frazer. We are indeed in contact with a few other organizations in California however it is critical for us to find a reputable and reliable source which could provide the samples.” The Lab continued, “we will most certainly choose the option of the fastest possible delivery of fresh (not frozen) samples.”

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CMP@CtrMedProgress

Apparently the government-funded laboratories at @UCSanDiego are so greedy for “fresh” aborted baby body parts, they will try to buy them from ANYBODY–even without bothering to check who they are emailing. @HHSGov please STOP this now! http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/UCSD_email.pdf 

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Later in April, the Lab left multiple voicemails for CMP seeking to discuss options for ordering aborted fetal body parts. By then the Frazer Lab had increased its request, writing, “Also, would like to ask for heart specimens from 3 donors (ideally pancreas and heart specimens from the same donors).”

CMP Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Government-funded laboratories are so greedy for fresh aborted baby body parts that they will try to buy them from anybody—without even bothering to check who they are emailing.”

Daleiden continues, “Even as the Department of Health and Human Services continues an agency-wide audit of fetal experimentation and the U.S. Department of Justice investigates the sale of aborted fetal tissue at Planned Parenthood and their business partners, government-funded researchers do not seem to have curtailed their appetite for aborted baby body parts one bit. It is far past time for HHS to end the barbaric practice of taxpayer-funded fetal experimentation, and for the Department of Justice to do their job and hold Planned Parenthood and other baby body parts traffickers accountable to the law.”

What Links Contraception to Abortion?

by 

Amina Khamis Juma is 22 years old and lives in Mbande-Kisewe, near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After delivering her first child in 2016, she was persuaded by her sisters to begin using contraception since the couple did not wish to have another child. Her sisters suggested using condoms, but they caused pain and discomfort, so Amina and her husband soon stopped. When Amina became pregnant, the couple was unwilling to have a child at that time and tragically opted to abort.

Amina Khamis Juma, a Tanzanian wife and mother.

When sexual partners rely upon technology to prevent conception and the technology fails, they often expect they will not have to deal with the “unwanted” consequence – a baby. This way of thinking is called the “contraceptive mentality.” When sexual partners with this mentality engage in a sexual act while inhibiting the procreative element, they are unwilling to consider pregnancy. It is expected that the contraceptive method employed will do what it claims, prevent conception. However, when the contraceptive fails and they become pregnant, the couple often succumbs, like Amina and her husband, to fear and opts for abortion as the “backup choice” – the method of correction.

Father Paul Marx, who held a doctorate in sociology, spent his life affirming Church teaching on life, marriage, and family, testifying to the toxic mindset created by the “contraceptive mentality.” “The foolproof contraceptive does not exist,” said Father Marx, “and sociological stud­ies have shown, almost without exception, that intensive contraceptive programs, by emphasizing the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, also reinforce an intention not to bear an unwanted child under any circumstances; that is, there is a greater likelihood that women expe­riencing contraceptive failures will resort to abortion.”

During a papal audience with Pope St. John Paul II in 1979, Father 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, Father 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.”

Fr. Paul Marx, the Founder of Human Life International.

Colonization of the Mind

Hamidou Kane, a Senegalese novelist, coined the expression “colonization of the mind.” He said there are two ways to control a people: through brute force by waging war with bombs and guns; or through a more permanent and less costly method, to get the people to accept new attitudes through propaganda directed at breaking down the two most important custodians of a nation’s and culture’s values – Faith and the family.

The Church of England, at its 1930 Lambeth Conference, was the first Christian denomination to suggest that the use of artificial contraception by married couples might be morally licit in certain difficult circumstances. It is important to note that leaders at the Conference assumed that the non-use of contraception would be the norm for believing Christians and that its use would only be resorted to in “extreme” cases. But as we know, the “hard case” mentality always leads to greater perversion. It makes for bad law – gradually the lines become blurred. Contraception became respectable, even touted as “good” for married life and society. What was once considered shameful and unmentionable to a great majority of Christians (and even within the general population) became acceptable and even “necessary.”

This growing acceptance of contraception rapidly transformed the culture with the seductive idea of uninhibited “free sex,” made palatable – even virtuous – by an ever-expanding list of seemingly lofty rationales: If reliable contraceptives could not be used, how could married couples express their love for one another without the possibility – threat – of a baby? How could parents (especially the poor) raise a large family with today’s social and economic conditions? What about the threat of an ever-expanding population? How could any woman find fulfillment while she is enslaved to her “biology?”

The minds and hearts of the nation and its people had been corrupted. Whatever reasons Christians might formerly have had for condemning contraception became irrelevant!

Formation of a Contraceptive Mentality

Contraception is the direct intention of preventing by mechanical or chemical means the possible natural and procreative consequence of sexual intercourse – the conception of another human being. The purpose, therefore, is to separate intercourse from procreation so that contracepting partners can enjoy the pleasures of sex without the fear that their sexual activity could lead to pregnancy.

A “mentality” is an attitude of mind, a way of thinking. It is established when a person (group or society) reacts automatically to a situation without thinking of the consequences. A “mentality” is very difficult to correct since it is shielded by unconscious assumptions and preserved by consistent behavior and habit.

The “contraceptive mentality” exists when: (1) sexual intercourse is separated from procreation, (2) the rational is assumed to be normative, and (3) in employing contraception, the couple sever themselves from all responsibility for a conception that might take place as a result of contraceptive failure. This is a pervasive “mentality” that is aware of the immediate benefit but fails to consider the future repercussions. The “contraceptive mentality” implies that a couple has not only the means to separate intercourse from procreation, but also the right or responsibility to do so. It is also important to remember that at the very core of the “contraceptive mentality” is a fear or rejection of something perfectly natural as a result of sexual intercourse – a baby.

Many wrongly believe contraception prevents abortion. This belief is not borne out by studies and statistics. Research clearly shows that contraception leads to riskier behavior, more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently, more abortions. Dr. Malcolm Potts, former Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) openly stated, “As has been pointed out, those who use contraceptives are more likely than those who do not to resort to induced abortion … the epidemiological evidence points to the fact that induced abortion services are most needed by those adopting any form of fertility regulation.” When contraception fails – as it inevitably does – couples, and especially single mothers, are tempted and even pressured to eliminate the “unwanted” life.

Scandalously, national studies reveal that around 72 percent of all married Catholic couples of childbearing age in the United States use some form of artificial contraception or sterilization to limit childbearing. Studies also reveal that nearly 41% of high school students are sexually active, supported by contraception and its deceptive offer of so-called sexual freedom. How many Planned Parenthood facilities and private abortion clinics now exist to “serve” these young people with the consequences of failed contraception? An entire industry has developed in response to an ever-expanding market – i.e. more sex, more contraception, greater need for abortion.

Pope St. Paul VI, in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, prophetically spoke of some of the consequences of the “contraceptive mentality,” warning that “responsible men… [should] reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards… [men] —and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

Warning about the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments – scandalously, a reality today as seen in massive government-sponsored programs of contraception, forced abortion, and sterilization – he added:

“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.”

Because of successful propaganda and the rejection of Judeo-Christian values concerning marriage, human sexuality, and family life, many people in our society have the attitude that human life is sometimes inconvenient and an unnecessary burden. Pope St. John Paul II saw this “mentality” as a root cause of abortion. When we see any human life as a troublesome burden that we must manage, rather than a sacred gift entrusted to our care, there is a dangerous temptation to get rid of the burden by any means necessary. As Father Marx predicted, we see this same attitude and behavior today with the euthanasia movement.

Indoctrination

Proponents of the “sexual revolution,” supported by legalized contraception and abortion, have successfully inflicted upon this generation the burdensome and insidious manifestations of their revolution. Faith and the family are no longer the custodians of our nation’s (our world’s) and culture’s values. Sadly, many of today’s youth have embraced a secular, laissez-faireattitude toward religion, life, sex, marriage, and family life.

Sex is now seen primarily as a matter of “self-expression” or “self-fulfillment.” Responsibility, morality, self-mastery, self-giving, and sacredness which belong to any Christian view of the human person or human sexuality are absent and outwardly rejected. The inevitable consequence of such a point of view is the “contraceptive mentality.” One can’t, after all, have sex without being “free” from the burden of conception and “free sex” is clearly incompatible with any sound idea of marriage and family life. Sexuality is thus divorced not only from possible procreation but also from marriage itself. This explains why many young people delay marriage or opt not to marry at all.

Contraception laid the groundwork for this evolution of thought.

Radical sex ed is being forced on children as young as 5 around the world, often without parental consent.

The indoctrination has been successful in creating a sex-saturated culture – I would dare say a sex-addicted culture – fixated upon satisfying any and all urges, supported by the “contraceptive mentality.” This indoctrination is now being systematically introduced into school classrooms, mostly through courses in so-called “sex education or family life education,” in social science courses, and in “population education.” I have personally witnessed these programs in action. I have seen children as young as five being introduced to sexual experimentation and modern contraceptive devices. Our young are being indoctrinated, propagandized, and convinced that contraception, like abortion, is a positive good. They are taught that it is good for themselves and for society in general, and that they have a “moral” obligation to embrace these so-called “truths.” The moral judgments of religion and their parents are passé; “anything goes” is now in vogue.

Lest We Forget

In this great battle for life and family, we can no longer ignore the proverbial skunk in the room – the “contraceptive mentality.” Our effort to end the violence and plague of abortion requires that we address this fundamental, underlying issue. The “contraceptive mentality” is the root from which abortion flows, and failure to address it enables juggernauts like Planned Parenthood Federation of America and IPPF to flourish. As Father Marx said, “while we need a variety of pro-life groups hacking away at the anti-life monster, it is enormously futile and indeed grossly short-sighted to overlook the chief source of baby-killing, which is contraception.” To come full circle to Amina Khamis Juma at the beginning of this article, she outright rejected contraception after her abortion, a failed marriage, terrible effects on her health and even forcibly implanted birth control. After hearing HLI Tanzania on the radio, she reached out and our staff got her immediate help at a Catholic hospital; she is now recovering and learning safe, natural natural family planning (NFP), which is fully open to life.

Sadly, there is much confusion and dissent within the Church regarding contraception, but as faithful Catholics (Christians), we must reclaim an authentic understanding of the human person, life, marriage, and human sexuality, along with the language to articulate these truths to an errant culture. If we truly want to put a permanent end to the violence of abortion, heal the deep wound it causes, and protect the sacredness of human life, marriage, and the family, then we must continue to confront contraception head-on, along with its “mentality” feeding the entire abortion industry.

Man says father with Down syndrome inspired him to be the ‘best person’ possible

 

Sader Issa, a third-year dentistry student living in Syria, credits the love and support of his parents for his success and happiness in life. In fact, he is so proud of his parents, especially his father, that he wants everyone to know that he grew up happy and well-cared for by a father who has Down syndrome. He says it might not have been easy, but his father made it seem like it was.

“A child who grows up in the lap of a person with Down syndrome will have all the love and tenderness that anyone can offer,” said Issa in the video below, shared by Symphony homeland. “This will lead up to a person who has an emotional and social well balance and is able to achieve anything he wants.”

Unfortunately, the majority of men with Down syndrome cannot have children or have a lower fertility rate than the average male. Only about half of women with Down syndrome are able to have children.

Issa said that his father, Jad Issa, is like any other father and worked hard to provide for him at the wheat factory. But his father is also a vulnerable person and that has inspired Issa to be the “best person for the sake of this person who worked hard.”

READ: Dwayne Johnson: Friend with Down syndrome is ‘The Rock’s rock’

When his father introduces him to someone new, Issa said he is full of pride. “It’s like he’s saying: ‘I have Down syndrome, but I raised my son and did everything to help him become a doctor who treats people. I’m proud of him.’”

Issa says his parents’ relationship is just like any other couple who has been together for decades. Married for 23 years, they may disagree at times, but they enjoy “a life full of love, simplicity and humility in all respects.”

down syndrome

Issa and his parents when he was young. Photo via Facebook.

Because of his upbringing, Issa has a unique perspective on life with Down syndrome. He said his father is loved and respected by everyone in their community, and he is using his life experience to ask the government to respect people who live with the condition, even those who are still in the womb.

“For many people, the idea of a woman pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome may be the worst scenario,” he said. “You can expect a number of people can resort to abortion. If my grandmother was convinced of this idea, I wouldn’t be here with you.”

Through the video above as well as social media and at least one radio interview, Issa has dedicated himself to sharing the truth about Down syndrome and fighting for the right to life for those diagnosed with the condition before birth.

With countries such as Iceland bragging about having a 100 percent abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome and the United States aborting 67 percent (or higher) of preborn children with the condition, it is vital that people like Issa speak up. The truth is that abortion kills people with Down syndrome through a violent act of discrimination. When we see that people with Down syndrome are capable of living what society deems to be “normal” lives, it becomes apparent just how inhumane abortion is and that we need to rethink how society views persons with disabilities.

Lawmakers call on FDA director to crack down on illegal online abortion pill sales

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Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to crack down on illegal online sales of the abortion pill. According to information from Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the Congressional letter, sent to Dr. Norman Sharpless, Acting Commissioner of the FDA, was signed by 117 members of Congress. It comes on the heels of information showing that Aid Access and Rablon, two foreign companies, have been distributing the chemical abortion drug Mifeprex by mail-order to U.S. customers in violation of the FDA’s safety protocols. Live Action News previously documented a larger push by pro-abortion organizations to lift the FDA’s safety requirements, known as REMS, to expand abortion pill dispension to mail order and online sales, via self-managed abortions.

Image: FDA warns consumers to not buy abortion pills over the internet (Image: FDA)

FDA warns consumers to not buy abortion pills over the internet (Image: FDA)

The Congressional letter urges the FDA to “continue to conduct oversight” of the entities following FDA warning letters to Aid Access and Rablon ordering them to halt dispensing the pills. Lawmakers point out that the pills are prescribed by an abortionist in the Netherlands and filled by a pharmacy in India. A fact sheet published by Charlotte Lozier Institute research organization found that “72 unique websites” were selling the pills online.

An email from the FDA to Live Action News clarified that “Mifeprex may only be supplied directly to healthcare providers who are certified to prescribe Mifeprex….”

READ: As more women die from abortion pill, the FDA approves a generic version

The FDA stated the drug is “only available to be dispensed in certain healthcare settings, specifically, clinics, medical offices and hospitals, by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber. It is not available in retail pharmacies, and it is not legally available over the Internet.” They added:

FDA has warned consumers not to buy Mifeprex over the Internet because doing so bypasses the distribution restrictions that are in place to ensure the safe use of the drug. Drugs purchased from foreign Internet sources are not the FDA-approved versions of the drugs, and they are not subject to FDA-regulated manufacturing controls or FDA inspection of manufacturing facilities.

Congressman Burgess expressed his concern, “As an OB/GYN who practiced medicine for nearly three decades, I am concerned about the consequences of unapproved mail-order abortion drugs. The dangerous business that Aid Access is conducting is harmful to the health of American women, who deserve quality health care throughout the course of a pregnancy.”

Rep. Martha Roby stated, “By violating the FDA’s safety protocols, Aid Access and other European mail-order abortion companies endanger the health of American women and their children. The FDA must take decisive action against these illegal activities immediately…. Aid Access circumvents the Food and Drug Administration’s safety requirements, placing the lives of women and their children at risk. We would like to… voice our support for ongoing oversight of this and any other rogue mail-order abortion operation.”

Watch as SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser discusses the illegal sale of the abortion pill online:

 

Weeks ago, the FDA updated its adverse events report through 2018, documenting “24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000….” The FDA also noted additional adverse effects in the thousands. Under 2016 changes, the drug’s manufacturer, Dancono longer has to report non-fatal adverse effects, so we can only imagine what the number really is.

Live Action News previously documented that Danco itself is incredibly secretive about its stakeholders and controlling parties, who (from the limited information we can glean) appear to stand to gain financially from a broad abortion pill expansion. And a previous Live Action News report revealed that the FDA recently approved a generic version of the abortion pill Mifeprex known as GenBioPro.

Image: FDA reported deaths for abortion pill December 2018

FDA reported deaths for abortion pill December 2018

In an e-mail exchange with Live Action News, FDA officials assured us that, “FDA monitors sponsors’ compliance with REMS, including assessment evaluations and on-site inspections. In addition… Mifeprex is not legally available over the Internet. The agency is aware of media reports regarding the sale of unapproved mifepristone in the U.S. through online distribution channels and is actively evaluating the reports in order to assess potential violations of U.S. law.”

An FDA representative told Live Action News, “The agency is aware of media reports regarding the sale of unapproved mifepristone in the U.S. through online distribution channels. We assure you that the agency is extremely concerned about the activities described in these reports and is actively evaluating the reports in order to assess potential violations of U.S. law. As I’m sure you understand, however, the agency is unable to discuss potential or pending investigations, if any such exist.”

Full text of the Congressional letter can be found here.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Abortion Pill Reversal here.

U.N. Committee Launches Attack on U.S Pro-Life Laws


Bureau du siège de l’ONU à Genève

The U.N. Human Rights Committee has taken broad aim at pro-life laws and policies in the United States.

Meeting last month, the Committee called on the Trump administration to “review” a number of its pro-life policies, suggesting that these were incompatible with international law.  The Committee singled out for criticism President Trump’s Mexico City Policy,[1] his executive order “Protecting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” and his executive order which protects religious employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor from being forced against their religious beliefs to pay for contraceptives in their employer-sponsored health plans.

Specifically, the Committee called for the Trump administration to explain the “compatibility” of these pro-life policies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), suggesting that the U.S. is bound by its own Constitution and by international law to observe the Committee’s interpretation of this international human rights treaty as legitimating abortion.

What is driving this new assault on American efforts to protect the unborn is the Committee’s General Comment no. 36—a document adopted late last year by the Human Rights Committee that claims that every country that has ratified the treaty “must provide…legal and effective access to abortion” in cases of rape, incest, health of the mother, and when the pregnancy “is not viable.”

The Committee has ordered the Trump administration to respond to its inquiry “in the light of the Committee’s General Comment No. 36.” What the Committee did not say was that General Comment No. 36 is the very first document ever adopted by a U.N. treaty body to suggest that the ICCPR treaty, or any other U.N. treaty, requires countries to legalize abortion.  Nor did it mention that its radical interpretation of the treaty has been rejected by a number of countries.

The Committee also took sweeping aim at the hundreds of pro-life laws that have been passed in the U.S. on the state level over the past few years. Explain how these pro-life state laws are in compliance with U.S. obligations under the ICCPR Treaty, the Committee told the Trump administration.

The U.N. Committee did not specify which state-level abortion restrictions it wanted the U.S. Government to review in particular, but broadly requested that the administration include any pro-life laws which “restrict women’s access to reproductive health and abortion services and create new barriers to them in practice.”

One can understand why international abortion advocates are in panic mode over state-level initiatives to protect life. Literally hundreds of pro-life laws have already been enacted by various states over the past few years. Just since January 1 of this year, more than 250 new pro-life laws have been introduced in state legislatures.  And these laws restricting abortions have been saving many lives, as Michael New has recently documented.

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey prevent states from banning abortion outright, states have successfully banned abortion after 20 weeks when a child can feel pain, required basic health standards for abortion facilities, prohibited taxpayer funding for abortion, provided women seeking abortion with informed consent.  States have also banned certain kinds of abortions, such as sex-selective abortion and or the abortion of unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome or other congenital defects.

While the U.N. Committee rejected in General Comment No. 36 the imposition of criminal sanctions on abortionists, many of the state-level pro-life laws in the U.S. do just this to ensure compliance.

Another area where the U.N. Committee’s positions are at odds with current U.S. practice is in the area of conscience rights. In 2016, the Committee called on Poland and Colombia to require that doctors who conscientiously object to performing an abortion provide abortion referrals, even if it violates their conscience to do so. General Comment No. 36 returns to this issue, instructing countries to remove “barriers” to abortion, “including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection.”

The Trump administration has just done the opposite.  The U.S. now has in place a broad-based policy of protecting the conscience rights of healthcare entities and individuals.

The U.N. Committee justified its request to the Trump administration by pointing to Article 40 of the ICCPR, which authorizes it to periodically request reports from countries on their progress in implementing the treaty. The Committee has long used such reviews as occasions to harass countries into loosening restrictions on abortion.

The Committee’s request last month to the Trump administration is unprecedented, however. It represents the first time the Committee has officially criticized U.S. laws protecting the

unborn — under the guise of “requesting” the Trump administration to comment how such laws comport with the Committee’s radical interpretation of the ICCPR treaty.

It will be interesting to see how the Trump administration will respond.

We recommend that it simply reject General Comment No. 36 altogether, along with any other interpretation of the ICCPR treaty that undermines American sovereignty and democracy.

 

[1] The Mexico City Policy is a policy that prohibits U.S. foreign aid in global health programs from being used to financially support foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform or promote abortion. The Mexico City Policy was reinstated in 2017 as one of President Trump’s first acts in office and has since cut millions of dollars in U.S. funding to international abortion groups such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI).

How many children should you have?

Shannon Roberts

As parents of three children (currently 6, 4 and 13 months), how many children my husband and I should have – and what would be best for our children themselves – is a question we have thought about.

We have contemplated whether or how a range of factors should affect our decision about each pregnancy.  These include the temperaments and health of our current children, how far away our extended family lives, how our children might benefit from another sibling, how much money we have, how much stress or anxiety we currently feel, how much community support we have, work, the cost of school or necessary expenses (and what are necessary expenses?), how strong our marriage feels, how sick I get in pregnancy, and how many adult children we would like to have in the future.

And then there is the absolute amazingness of having the power to create a whole new human being and another beautiful little newborn baby to cuddle, and the expansion of love, sacrifice, growth and community that comes with each new family member.

Joe Pinsker of The Atlantic interviewed economist Bryan Caplan to see what he considers the optimum number of children.  Over and above being an economist, he is described as “a dad who has thought a lot about the joys and stresses of being a parent”, and is author of the 2011 book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  He said,

 “If you have a typical level of American enjoyment of children and you’re willing to actually adjust your parenting to the evidence on what matters, then I’ll say the right answer is four.

Though Caplan himself does currently have four children, apparently he even suspects that more than four would be optimal for him.

He suggests that parents should revisit their child-rearing approach and then, if they can afford to, consider having more kids, because kids can be fun and fulfilling.  He also considers that many of the time- and money-intensive things that parents do in the hope of helping their children succeed, such as multiple extracurricular activities and sending them to private schools, don’t actually contribute much to their future earnings or happiness.

Since having a child at school, it is interesting to me how much the emphasis on extracurricular activities really does affect parents.  One parent told me that having a third baby was “an excellent advertisement for a fourth,” were it not for the fact that she then hit extracurricular activities, ‘taxi driving’, and a very busy household.  (By the way, in my experience parents seem to really enjoy third babies, and I am one of those parents!  At this point, we are often not worrying as much about the intensity of the baby years as we might have been the first and second time around.)

According to Ashley Larsen Gibby, a Ph.D. student in sociology and demography at Penn State, the societal norm also affects how many children will make you happiest. So, if the norm changes, the number of children that will likely make parents happiest changes as well.

It is much harder to have a big family in a society where the norm is small (currently two children in most places).  This makes sense because a lot of community and business services won’t be aimed at meeting your family’s needs in the way they would be if bigger families were the norm.  You will also likely feel different to many of the parents around you (and maybe even endure regular amazed comments about your family size), something which is harder for some temperaments than others.

Pinsker writes:

In general, the experts I consulted agreed that the optimal number of children is specific to each family’s desires and constraints.

“When a couple feels like they have more interest in kids; more energy for kids; maybe more support, like grandparents in the area; and a decent income, then having a large family can be the best option for them,” says Brad Wilcox, the director of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project.

“And when a couple has fewer resources, either emotional, social, or financial, then having a smaller family would be best for them.”

However, one thing is certain from the research.  Women are measureably less happy when they are unable to have as many children as they would like to; something to bear in mind for the many women who now put off having children until their thirties, or those contemplating an additional child.

Per the General Social Survey, in 2018, 40 percent of American women ages 43 to 52 had had fewer children than what they considered ideal.

“Part of the story here is that women are having children later in life, compared to much of human history, and they’re getting married later in life as well,” Wilcox says.

“So those two things mean that at the end of the day, a fair number of women end up having fewer kids than they would like to, or they end up having no kids when they hoped to have children.”

Though the root causes can differ, this mismatch between hope and actuality is seen worldwide, and appears to make women measurably less happy. So, while people’s ideal family size may vary—and is highly individualized—they’ll probably be happiest if they hit their target, whatever it may be.

Two children is currently the preferred option for most, but it seems from the research that many families may actually be happier with more — especially if they rethink some of their unproven intensive parenting practices.  And the more people who do have one more (thereby contributing to a change in the norm), the more happy those with a slightly larger family will be.

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of Demography is Destiny, MercatorNet’s blog on population issues.

Success with prenatal surgery: Caring for the ‘patient within the patient’

 

A recent paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Issues in Law and Medicine details lifesaving treatment and prenatal surgery being given to babies in the womb. The study, titled “Perinatal Revolution” affirms that the preborn child is a unique and separate patient from the mother. When doctors treat both the mother and the “patient within the patient,” successful treatment of conditions that might otherwise be severely life-limiting are possible, increasingly so as technology continues to advance.

The paper’s authors are Drs. Colleen Malloy, Monique Chireau Wubbenhourst, and Tara Sander Lee. Two of the study’s authors are associate scholars with The Charlotte Lozier Institute. The research is being publicized so that doctors and other health care professionals are made aware of these lifesaving procedures, so that they are less likely to recommend or coerce patients into aborting their children rather than carrying to term. The study notes that a doctor’s personal views about abortion and the availability of prenatal treatment can directly affect whether a mother decides to end her child’s life in an abortion or carry to term. The authors write, “In several studies of families receiving diagnoses of Trisomy 13 or 18, a majority of parents (61%) felt pressured to terminate the pregnancy.”

Doctors and other medical professionals are not the only ones who can benefit from this information about the emerging treatment for babies before birth. If parents are unaware of life-affirming treatment options, they are more likely to fall prey to coercion to terminate a child with a potential disability. However, knowing about the rapidly developing field of prenatal treatment and the dramatic increase in the successful treatment of premature babies empowers families to make life-affirming decisions for their children.

READ: Abortion doesn’t help babies with spina bifida, but prenatal surgery does

The paper details how advances in genetics and medical technology have made it possible for doctors to treat babies more effectively while still in the womb. Prenatal surgery has been available for decades, but with technological advances, treatment can be better and less invasive, and may be done at even performed at earlier gestational ages. Some of the conditions discussed in the paper that can now be treated or mitigated in the womb include cerebral palsy, fetal hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, spina bifida, and cystic fibrosis.

The authors write about these technological developments:

“With the ability to see the fetus in real time came the ability to diagnose problems and to consider how best to help the affected fetus, to follow affected fetuses and to monitor treated fetuses, over the course of pregnancy. This shifted the focus from the newborn, with a severe disorder that could not be corrected after birth, to the possibility of prenatal medical or surgical intervention that could help ameliorate the clinical manifestations of disease…These diagnostic capabilities led to further research and clinical trials and the realization that the fetus was, and is, a patient.”

Successes with these prenatal surgeries have far surpassed conventional treatments given to newborns with these conditions. Study author Tara Sander Lee wrote in another paper about a peer-reviewed study of prenatal surgery for spina bifida published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The babies who received prenatal surgery fared so much better than babies who received the conventional surgery at birth that the study was halted before completion so that all babies would receive the superior prenatal surgery.

The most recent paper notes that the types of surgery and interventions available continue to evolve. The authors write that cellular therapy for babies before birth, tissue engineering, gene therapy, and the artificial womb may be available to treat babies soon, as these methods are rapidly developing. They note that these therapies are uniquely suited to treating preborn babies, writing, “Many of these cell-based techniques take advantage of the fact that the fetal environment is constantly remodeling and ideal for accepting stem cell therapies that facilitate regeneration.”

Despite these dramatic advances in lifesaving treatments for mothers and their preborn babies, many people, including doctors, are not aware of the potential. The more people know about these technologies, the more families may have the courage to give each child a chance at life. Not every child with a medical condition diagnosed prenatally will be cured through these emerging techniques, but the study notes that even in these cases abortion is not the only option. The rapid expansion of perinatal hospice, and the much better mental health outcomes for families, demonstrates that abortion is not a solution.

Finally, the study authors note that these emerging technologies have ethical implications that require oversight and ongoing engagement in public discourse. In this area, pro-lifers have contributions to make, as these emerging technologies reveal what pro-lifers have already recognized: the preborn child in a human being worthy of life, protection, and care.

Population Control Activist Paul Ehrlich: Human Extinction Will Happen if People Don’t Start “Having Fewer Children”

MICHAEL BASTASCH

CNN interviewed discredited environmental catastrophist Paul Ehrlich in its coverage of the United Nations’ latest warning of ecological collapse due to human activities and climate change.

Humanity will need to start “consuming less, polluting less and having fewer children” if it’s going to stop mass extinction in the coming decades, CNN correspondent Nick Watt said summarizing the U.N. report, which was released Monday.

Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor, told CNN he was “pessimistic” that countries could solve predicted ecological disaster in part because of President Donald Trump pledging to leave the Paris climate accord.

Embedded video

Tom Elliott@tomselliott

CNN: If we don’t start “having fewer children” a million species will die.

Note that the “expert” they interview is Paul Ehlrich, the discredited “Population Bomb” prof who’s been predicting imminent mass starvation since the 1960s.

The U.N. report blamed “rapid population growth” and the development and pollution that entails for putting 1 million plant and animal species at risk of extinction.

“The other organisms of the planet are our life support system,” Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor, told CNN. “You don’t have to worry about them if you don’t care about eating, if you don’t care about breathing, if you don’t care about having fresh water and so on. Then you can just forget about it and die.”

Ehrlich’s writings came out as environmental concerns were beginning to become top priorities for western countries, including the U.S. and Europe. In general, Ehrlich is a leading predictor of mass starvation and collapse of nature because of rapid population growth.

Ehrlich’s 1968 book “The Population Bomb” called on the U.S. government to take “whatever steps are necessary to establish a reasonable population size.” His ideas included taxing children, mass sterilization and abortions to limit population growth.

John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s science czar, co-authored pieces with Ehrlich, warning the human population was growing too quickly for the planet to sustain. Lawmakers criticized Holdren during his confirmation for his past writings.

But the mass starvation and ecological collapse predicted by Ehrlich and others never came to pass. However, Ehrlich maintains his dire predictions are certain to happen in the coming decades.

LifeNews Note: Michael Bastasch writes for Daily Caller. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience.

Death by Organ Donation – Euthanizing patients for organs.

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, May 2, 2019

 Wesley Ely, who, among his other professional accolades, holds The Grant W. Liddle Chair in Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, wrote an insightful article that was published in the USA Today titled: Death by organ donation: Euthanizing patients for their organs gains frightening traction.

Dr Ely has written his article from the point of view of a former co-director of Vanderbilt University’s lung transplant program and a practicing intensive care unit physician. His article is a response to presentations made at International medical conferences concerning organ donation and euthanasia and the ethical debate concerning euthanasia by organ donation. Ely writes:

At international medical conferences in 2018 and 2019, I listened as hundreds of transplant and critical care physicians discussed “donation after death.” This refers to the rapidly expanding scenario in Canada and some Western European countries whereby a person dies by euthanasia, with a legalized lethal injection that she or he requested, and the body is then operated on to retrieve organs for donation.

At each meeting, the conversation unexpectedly shifted to an emerging question of “death by donation” — in other words, ending a people’s lives with their informed consent by taking them to the operating room and, under general anesthesia, opening their chest and abdomen surgically while they are still alive to remove vital organs for transplantation into other people.

The big deal here is that death by donation would bypass the long-honored dead donor rule, which forbids removal of vital organs until the donor is declared dead. Death by donation would, at present, be considered homicide to end a life by taking organs.

Ely, who opposes euthanasia by organ donation, explains how euthanasia by organ donation would work.

The mechanics of obtaining organs after death from either euthanasia or natural cardiac death (both already legalized in Canada, Belgium and Netherlands) can be suboptimal for the person receiving the transplant, because damage occurs to organs by absence of blood flow during the 5 to 10 minutes-long dying process. This interval is called ischemia time. Death by donation purports to offer a novel solution. Instead of retrieving organs after death, organ removal would be done while organs are still being receiving blood. There would be no ischemia time and organ removal would be the direct and proximate cause of death.

If you think that euthanasia by organ donation is not a threat, Dr Ely explains:

Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an article by two Canadian physicians and an ethicist from Harvard Medical School, who contended it might be ethically preferable to ignore the dead donor rule if patients declare they want to die in order to donate their organs.

Dr Ely then argues that society should oppose euthanasia. According to a 2015 article in the NEJM, of the 3,882 deaths due to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Flanders, Belgium, in the year 2013 alone, 1,047 (27%) were due to medication dosages to hasten death without patients’ consent. Such patients are generally unconscious and may or may not have family members around. In 2014, a statement on end-of-life decisions by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine asserts that “shortening the dying process” should be permissible “with use of medication … even in absence of discomfort.” When discussing these facts, two prominent physicians, one from the Netherlands and another from Harvard, told me that where they come from, they call that murder.

When physicians are participating in a procedure designed to take a person’s life, will patients feel 100% certain that their physician is firmly on the side of healing? What message does it send about the value of every human life when physicians endorse the exchange of one life for another? What effect has it already had on physicians complicit in such death-causing procedures?

Finally Dr Ely compares the discussion about euthanasia to the 1973 movie Soylent Green. In the 1973 science fiction classic “Soylent Green,” detective Frank Thorn searches for answers to dying oceans and a deteriorating human race on overcrowded Earth. He discovers the high-protein green food produced by the Soylent Corporation is recycled, euthanized humans. “Soylent Green is people!” he screams.

“Soylent Green” was set in 2022. We are three years away.

Dr E. Wesley Ely is building awareness with the discussion and concerns with euthanasia by organ donation. Belgian doctor supports euthanasia by organ donation.

Sadly, once society accepts that killing can be an acceptable solution to certain human problems, then the only question is which human problems can killing be a solution for?

Once society accepts euthanasia, then it naturally follows that euthanasia by organ donation will be considered. If the issue is debated based on its efficacy, then euthanasia by organ donation will be become a reality because it is a very effective way to obtain healthy organs for transplanting.

https://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2019/05/death-by-organ-donation-euthanizing.html?utm_source= Euthanasia+ Prevention+Coalition+Contacts&utm_campaign=198c6822a0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_05_03_07_42_COPY_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-198c6822a0-198491829

 

Catholic Relief Services listed as partner in Rwanda contraception project

May 2, 2019 (Lepanto Institute) — On April 26, several Rwandan government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, officially launched a three-year initiative called the Baho Neza Integrated Health Campaign to encourage the use and distribution of contraception. Catholic Relief Services is identified as one of the implementing partners on this campaign.

The central focus of the Baho Neza Campaign is the promotion, distribution, and provision of “family planning” and “family planning services” for the sake of increasing the contraceptive prevalence rate of the country. According to an article about the campaign by Hope Magazine, the Baho Neza campaign:

… is an innovative approach that includes additional components of Family Planning and Early Childhood Development (ECD) to address various health related issues, including the availability and accessibility of family planning services, as well as closing the existing gaps.

The article also explains that the campaign:

… will focus on raising awareness countrywide on available information and services related to Family Planning, Early Childhood Development, Antenatal Care and Postnatal Care, the importance of Parents-Adolescents Communication and Teenage Pregnancy prevention.”

At the launch of the campaign, Dr Diane Gashumba (left) urged Rwandans to embrace family planning, saying, “the goal is the best possible services, this year will be dedicated to the promotion of cleanliness as a means of disease control and the practice of family planning.”

On 21 December 2018, Applied Monitoring Services Ltd, posted a job announcement looking for a consultant to conduct a base-line assessment for the Baho Neza project. In the background information on the project, the announcement stated that the overall goal is

… increasing access to long-acting reversible contraceptives and strengthening health care providers capacity to offer post-partum family planning and post-abortion care services countrywide.

Right: Contraception on display for the Baho Neza launch ceremony.

Another Rwandan news site boldly claimed that the primary message parents should be receiving in this campaign is:

… test for pregnancy; in pregnancy, take care of the health of the baby in the first 1000 days of her life; the role of men in following up development, caring for children, protecting children through all the needs; family planning, rehabilitation, to avoid and to prevent pregnancy.

The Rwanda Broadcasting Agency said that:

The campaign will combat malnutrition, early pregnancies, seek to increase the number of people practicing long-term family planning methods, and take other measures to improve social well-being.

The IGIHE Network in Rwanda reports that:

‘Baho Neza’ is aimed at sensitizing all Rwandans to avoid and fight disease, to care for child and mother health, to attend and use child care services for children, to prevent pregnancy, and to adopt and use family planning services.

Already, it is clear that the purpose of the Baho Neza project is completely incompatible with Catholic moral teaching. Its overall focus and goal include the spread of contraception to vulnerable women and adolescents. But we can expect that CRS will respond by providing us with the same old tired excuses it always gives regarding other projects such as these in which it has been found to be participating.

In the event that CRS actually bothers to respond to questions as to why it is participating in this project, we can anticipate that the answers will include any combination or all of the following:

  1. The real goal of the project is to save lives, and so CRS is saving lives by helping to bring health care to the people of Rwanda.
  2. CRS never participates in the promotion or distribution of contraception or condoms, and is exempt from such things regarding the Baho Neza project as well.
  3. CRS’s role in family planning with the Baho Neza project is to promote Natural Family Planning, thereby giving an alternative to the contraception being promoted by the other implementing partners.
  4. CRS is providing nutrition and medicine through the project and is not participating in the contraception-promoting aspect.

Regardless of the reason CRS is participating in this campaign, the fact of the matter is that CRS is lending the name of the Catholic Church to a campaign whose overall goal is the spread of the Culture of Death. In fact, the Campaign itself makes clear that it is using the religious community to spread its contraceptive messaging. The article in Hope Magazine says, “Religious Leaders will also play a leading role in the campaign to ensure a wide reach and meaningful impact.” Bizimungu François, Health Advisor at Rukomo Health Center in Rwanda, said that some of the barriers to family planning include the churches and churches that are inadequate and the lowest sensitivity of the population. The danger of Catholic Relief Services being associated with a campaign intent upon the spread of contraception is the grave possibility of scandal. The mere attachment of the name “Catholic Relief Services” to the Baho Neza campaign will carry a lot of weight.

But the problem of scandal is not just limited to lending the name Catholic to the campaign. By partnering with groups intending to spread contraception as an end-goal of the campaign, whatever role CRS plays assists in the success of the project. Supposing that CRS has no direct involvement in the contraception-promoting and spreading element of the project, CRS’s work in other areas lightens the burden of those working to spread the contraception. In other words, whatever work CRS does in the campaign, other organizations won’t have to do it, freeing them up to focus on contraception.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating … if we exchange the word “contraception” with “sex-trafficking 8-year-old children,” it should hopefully go without saying that CRS would never participate in such an effort. So, either CRS doesn’t view the spread of contraception as a mortal sin whose spiritual effect is just as deadly as sex-trafficking children, or it does but enjoys the funding too much to care.

Contact Catholic Relief Services and tell it what you think about its participation in this project.

CRS Phone number – 888-277-7575

Medical Benefits of Fertility Awareness

 by Madeleine Coyne

Medical Benefits of Fertility Awareness: Why Doctors Need to Embrace the Science of Charting

Even if the idea of using Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM) for family planning and overall health is starting to gain traction with more women, there is still a conspicuous lag when it comes to the medical community.

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The overwhelming majority of medical professionals are not fully (if at all) informed about modern FABMs, or Natural Family Planning (NFP), and do not understand how the biological information recorded on women’s charts can help diagnose and treat common women’s health issues.

Because of this disparity, many women feel they must become advocates for their own health or look for support outside of their primary physician and OBGYN when seeking Fertility Awareness-Based Methods. But with a little education on the benefits of charting for patients, doctors can easily expand their options available to patients, while learning more about how to best treat any symptoms that come up.

Here are just some of the reasons why doctors would benefit from adding Fertility Awareness-Based Methods to their practice.

1. Today’s patients want side-effect free options for family planning.

The truth is, more women than ever are dissatisfied with hormonal birth control methods, in great part due to the disagreeable (and even life-threatening) birth control side effects they are experiencing. Women report they have not felt heardin their desire for safer, natural, effective methods of family planning and solutions for helping with their reproductive health issues. When doctors give women the impression they are not capable of learning and observing their bodies’ natural signs of their menstrual cycle, the medical community is underappreciating not only their patients’ abilities but also the benefits.

In a recent Natural Womanhood interview, Dr. Summer Holmes Mason, a board-certified OBGYN, shared how she came to start offering fertility awareness options in her practice. Since she had limited education about FABMs in medical school, she had to educate herself, but she found it was worth it. While prescribing hormonal contraceptives was her primary method of treating women with various medical issues, Dr. Holmes Mason explains, she eventually started noticing that these contraceptives were not always producing desirable effects. She recalls, “After a couple of years, I realized people were coming back to me with more side effects than I thought was acceptable.”

She knew that there had to be more options for her patients, which led her to discover FABMs, a safer, side-effect-free option for preventing pregnancy and managing women’s health issues. Now, Dr. Holmes Mason offers both hormonal birth control and natural FABM options to her patients, as she explains: “I really try to utilize the informed consent process. I feel like my patients will know what they are getting into if they are getting hormonal contraceptives, and let them make that choice for themselves . . . for those people who don’t want to, after having that discussion, I have so much more to offer.”

Women today are seeking doctors with more to offer them for their family planning and health issues than hormonal methods of birth control. Even the supposedly natural, hormone-free copper IUD affects patients’ natural hormonal balance since copper affects the thyroid. Too many women are tired of experiencing adverse effects of their contraception methods and are searching for truly natural and safe methods.

2. Offering fertility awareness methods will help doctors retain patients.

Because women are not typically offered natural options for family planning by their doctors, women who want such options are starting to look harder for doctors who are knowledgeable on Fertility Awareness-Based Methods. Many women are taking their reproductive health concerns into their own hands by seeking doctors who offer more than pharmaceutical birth control as a one-size-fits-all solution for all range of health issues.

As one woman named Andrea recently shared with us:

“I was most worried about my doctor being knowledgeable enough to help me use FABMs. I asked my gynecologist (part of a world class healthcare system) for information about fertility awareness-based methods of contraception, but she stared at me blankly. When I clarified and called it [Natural Family Planning], she referred me to the Institute for Reproductive Health, which was fine, but it’s geared toward women in third-world countries. Therefore, I didn’t stay with that practice. I found a more informed gynecologist who not only can read charts, but can also understand me perfectly when I say something like, ‘I’m getting a lot of tacky fluid during phase 2.’ While it is sad that I knew more than my first doctor, it was well worth changing doctors to someone who could better assist me in using FABMs.”

Dr. Marguerite Duane, a board-certified family physician, explained in a Fertility Friday podcast why medical professionals are typically not educated about FABMs in their medical training (herself included). First, FABMs are not profit-generating like birth control, so they have difficulty competing against highly marketed pharmaceutical products. Second, medical professionals are given less than accurate accounts of FABM effectiveness rates. Third, with the way our healthcare system is currently set up, most physicians do not have time to explain fertility awareness to their patients and review their cycle and charts (sadly, it’s much easier and quicker to simply prescribe a pill). And fourth, many doctors are misinformed in their medical training, wrongly associating modern Fertility Awareness-Based Methods with the outdated rhythm method.

With these obstacles standing in the way, it’s no surprise that more doctors are not aware of fertility awareness methods. As Dr. Duane stated in the podcast, “I firmly believe as a physician and as a woman, this information should be available to every woman, and every medical professional that provides women’s health services should be trained in these methods.”

3. Charting will give more information about a patient’s health to assist in a treatment plan.

The primary reason doctors should consider adding fertility awareness-based methods in their practice is because doing so serves the health of their patients. At the recent Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science (FACTS) Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, I observed a presentation by two doctors called “The Female Cycle as the Fifth Vital Sign” that confirmed the medical value of charting. Dr. Kim Vacca, a pediatrician, explained how charting using FABMs is for more than just family planning, since it can contribute to a woman’s overall health, starting from adolescence.

Mothers are desperately searching for birth control alternatives for their teenage daughters, who are being prescribed the Pill for things like irregular periods, PMS, or acne, only to find that it is only covering up their symptoms, not treating their problems, and often providing even worse side effects.

At the FACTS Cleveland conference, family physician Dr. Kathleen Heimann explained that if doctors were to properly treat women in their entirety, they would look at five vital signs, rather than just the usual four signs observed by most doctors.

Dr. Heimann and Dr. Vacca are not the only ones who believe that doctors need to start paying more attention to a woman’s cycle. The Committee on Adolescent Health Care in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists statesthat “by including an evaluation of the menstrual cycle as an additional vital sign, clinicians reinforce its importance in assessing overall health status for patients and caretakers.”

In short, doctors need to become more informed as to the importance of empowering their female patients to managing their health with access to and information on Fertility Awareness-Based Methods. Not only will natural family planning options provide doctors with side-effect-free pregnancy prevention options patients today are seeking, and retain more patients in the process, but FABMs will give today’s doctors a new tool in their kit equipping them to truly help women—and to help women help themselves.

Re-examining ‘brain death’: Doctors may be harvesting organs before donors are dead

Julie Grimstad

April 29, 2019 (Renew America) — The “dead donor rule” — a person must be dead before his vital organs are extracted for transplantation — is the basic principle guiding organ donation. A dead body is a corpse. Excising vital organs from a corpse does no harm. But, if we are not certain the individual is dead, removing vital organs is a grave matter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2296) states: “… it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.” Furthermore, even though Pope John Paul II stated that organ donation is an act of charity, in Evangelium Vitae (n. 15) he cautioned: “Nor can we remain silent in the face of other more furtive, but no less serious and real forms of euthanasia. These could occur for example when, in order to increase the availability of organs for transplants, organs are removed without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.”

We have been asked, “How and why does HALO differ from the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s position on ‘brain death’ and the use of ‘brain dead’ individuals as organ donors?” This paper is HALO’s answer.

HALO’s position is that a diagnosis of brain death does not mean that it is morally (or scientifically) certain the person is dead. Therefore, the practice of removing vital organs from “brain dead” individuals should be suspended and alternative means for extending the lives of individuals with failing organs should be pursued.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center’s Position

The NCBC’s most well-known authority on brain death, Father Tad Pacholczyk, makes four assertions:

1. “The [brain dead] individual has undergone a traumatic event resulting in the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain functions.”

2. “Brain dead individuals cannot be kept going on machines forever. In fact, there is usually a period of only a few days that it may be possible to extend the functioning of their organs by keeping them on a ventilator.” He suggests that “somebody is likely to have cut some corners in carrying out the testing and diagnosis” in cases where individuals have survived for months or years after a brain death diagnosis.

3. “Genuinely brain-dead individuals never ‘wake up.'”

4. “Defining brain death as the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem, is compatible with a Christian understanding of the true nature of man.” [1]

We do not disagree with Father Pacholczyk’s fourth assertion. However, after diligently searching for the answer to our question (this paper’s title), we have reached an uncomfortable conclusion: If physicians wait long enough to be certain that all functions of the entire brain have irreversibly ceased — that is, that the person is truly dead — the deceased person’s organs will have begun to deteriorate and therefore will not be transplantable. If the goal is to salvage healthy organs, haste is of the essence in determining brain death. Haste can lead to cutting corners and to errors. Also, as Pope John Paul II suggested, furtive euthanasia may occur as a means of increasing the supply of transplantable organs. (This is a reasonable concern since organ transplantation is a very lucrative business and “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” — 1 Timothy 6:10).

To address Father’s first assertion, it is necessary to ask a question. How is it possible to establish “the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain functions” when the person is exhibiting signs that some parts of the brain are functioning — signs which we can see with our own eyes?

Should We Believe Our Senses?

When our senses tell us someone is alive, but doctors tell us he is dead, what are we to believe? Two things which contradict each other cannot both be true. A human being is either alive or dead.

Before organ transplantation was possible, physicians made every effort to judge the moment of death in the direction of protecting life from a death-dealing mistake. Circulation and respiration had irreversibly ceased — the body was cold, blue and stiff. Our senses told us that the person was dead.

Brain death is declared while the patient has a beating heart because removal of vital organs must be done before they begin to deteriorate due to loss of circulation. We bury dead people, but we would never bury a person with a beating heart because we know that a beating heart is a sign of life. Also, consider these facts:

• A person can be pronounced “brain dead” while he or she has a normal pulse, blood pressure, color and temperature. All signs of life.

 “Brain dead” people

 “Brain dead” children grow.

 “Brain dead” pregnant women have gestated and delivered healthy babies and produced milk.

 “Brain dead” patients’

 During the excision of organs, the donor is sometimes given paralyzing drugs to control muscle spasms; the heart rate increases, and blood pressure shoots up. Dead people don’t move or react to pain in these ways.

The legal definition of brain death is “the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.” Yet “brain dead” patients display signs that their brains retain many essential functions. [2]

If a person who has been determined to be brain dead is truly dead, then our senses are deceiving us.

Pursuing the Truth Wherever It Leads

There are good people who support vital organ donation after a determination of brain death and good people who oppose it. It is not HALO’s purpose to judge anyone who has decided to donate organs or to undergo transplant surgery. We do, however, strongly suggest that people consider all the evidence before making these decisions and prior to taking a position on this crucial moral issue.

Renowned theologian Christian Brugger believes there is reasonable doubt that “brain dead” bodies are dead and concludes, “Since we should not treat as corpses what for all we know might be living human beings, it follows that we have an obligation to treat BD individuals as if they were living human beings.” [3] Dr. Paul Byrne and other experts in the fields of medicine, philosophy, and theology explain why they maintain that “‘Brain Death’ is Not Death” in an illuminating essay by that name. [4] HALO highly recommends reading this brief, yet thorough set of arguments against using neurological criteria alone to determine death.

John Haas, President of the NCBC, says that those who express doubt or deny that brain death is true death “create confusion in the minds of a number of the faithful” and “run the risk of unsettling the consciences of the faithful on a life-and-death ethical matter for which the authentic magisterium of the Church has provided clear guidance.” [5] However, we find Church guidance on this matter to be anything but clear and interpretations of Church guidance vary widely. Brugger, Byrne, Pacholczyk, and Haas are just a few of the many Catholic experts who express differing positions on “brain death.” (Perhaps this is a topic for another paper.)

The evidence HALO has thus far examined leads us to agree with the experts who say we cannot be morally certain that a person who has been declared “brain dead” is truly dead before organs are removed. But we will never cease our search for the truth. At the very least, those who believe brain death is death should concede that this is one diagnosis where doctors need to be correct 100% of the time — and, for the sake of all who trust them, admit that there is a growing body of evidence that this diagnosis is not accurate in at least some cases, and perhaps in many cases.

Father Pacholczyk asserts, “Genuinely brain-dead individuals never ‘wake up.'” Every time a recovery occurs after a determination of brain death we are told the diagnosis was wrong; that perhaps corners were cut in testing, or mistakes were made, or the person doing the testing was not qualified, etc. Thus, how can anyone know for certain that a person is “genuinely brain dead?” The only way is to wait and see.

People who have been determined to be “brain dead” using the most rigorous neurological criteria have awakened and recovered. It is safe to say that they would not have recovered had they been stripped of their vital organs before their injured brains could begin to heal. Here are two cases in point.

Trenton McKinley, a 13-year old Alabama boy, was declared brain dead after suffering skull fractures and a traumatic brain injury in March 2018. He reportedly passed all the tests for determining brain death. His mother signed papers to donate his organs. Fortunately, he regained consciousness before his vital organs were removed. Trenton was taken off the ventilator and eventually went home. He is now conscious, walking and talking. [6]

In 2007, Zach Dunlap, a 21-year-old Oklahoman, flipped over on his 4-wheeler and suffered catastrophic brain injuries. Thirty-six hours after his accident, doctors at United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas determined he was “brain dead.” They had subjected Zach to a battery of tests including a scan that showed a complete absence of blood flow to the brain. Preparations to harvest his organs were underway when a relative scraped the bottom of his foot with a pocket knife and he jerked his foot away. Just months later, Zack was walking and talking. He recalled hearing a doctor say he was dead and being “mad inside” but unable to move. [7]

Father Pacholczyk also maintains that “there is usually a period of only a few days that it may be possible to extend the functioning of [brain dead individuals’] organs by keeping them on a ventilator.” We point out that some people who have been diagnosed as brain dead have lived for years even though they have not made remarkable recoveries. For example:

On December 9, 2013, 13-year old Jahi McMath underwent surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids at a children’s hospital in Oakland, California. Shortly thereafter, she started to bleed and suffered cardiac arrest. She was declared “brain dead” three days later. Her family disagreed with the diagnosis and fought for Jahi’s life when the hospital sought to remove her life-support. Keeping her alive required moving her to New Jersey. Bobby Schindler, President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network (https://www.lifeandhope.com/), explains: “After Jahi was ruled to be brain dead, she and her family found themselves in an incredible situation wherein Jahi was considered legally dead in California, but legally alive in New Jersey due to that state’s religious accommodations.” Jahi’s mother took excellent care of her at home. Jahi breathed with the aid of a ventilator. She responded appropriately to commands and underwent pubertal development. Her true death occurred on June 22, 2018. Her death certificate, completed by the NJ physician treating Jahi, listed her cause of death as bleeding as a result of liver failure. Various news outlets subsequently reported that Jahi McMath had died, underscoring the fact that Jahi was a living human being for four and a half years after being issued a death certificate in California. [8] To learn more about Jahi’s condition read “The Case of Jahi McMath: A Neurologists’ View” by D. Alan Shewmon, The Hastings Center Report, December 25, 2018 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hast.962).

Father Pacholczyk contends that such cases “indicate a failure to apply the tests and criteria for determination of brain death with proper attentiveness and rigor.” This explanation is not reassuring for people who have signed up to be organ donors, trusting that doctors don’t make erroneous declarations of death.

One final point. There are many different sets of diagnostic criteria that may be used to determine brain death. A person who would be declared brain dead in one hospital could be considered alive and receive potentially life-saving treatment in another hospital.

Even if you believe that brain death is true death, consider that you do not know where you might be hospitalized in the event you suffer a severe brain injury. What criteria will be used to determine brain death? Will the doctors who do the testing be qualified, careful, and honest? Will your organs be more important to them than your life?

“Should I Refuse to Be an Organ Donor?” Is a Prudent Question

Let us be clear. HALO does not reject vital organ donation by itself. We question the validity of brain death, particularly when “brain dead” individuals are slated to be organ donors or when a brain death determination is made not in order to be certain a patient is truly dead, but to justify stopping all life-sustaining treatment. Our position is compatible with the Church’s position. The Catholic Church is not opposed to organ transplantation but insists that persons must not be killed in order to procure their organs or for any other reason.

HALO cautions people: When in doubt, err on the side of life. We advise that you sign a wallet card refusing to be an organ donor [9] and carry it with you at all times, but the decision is up to you.

NOTES:

[1] Father Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, “Making Sense of Bioethics: Brain Dead Means Dead,” November 2005, www.ncbcenter.org.

[2] https://halorganization.com/pdf/HALO_Brain-Death-and-Organ-Donation.pdf

[3] E. Christian Brugger, “Are Brain Dead Individuals Dead? Grounds for Reasonable Doubt,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (3):329-350 (2016).

[4] https://www.chninternational.com/brain_death_is_not_death_byrne_paul_md.html

[5] John M. Haas, “Catholic Teaching regarding the Legitimacy of Neurological Criteria for the Determination of Death,” The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Summer 2011.

[6] http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-miracle-boy-and-problems-with-the-brain-death-diagnosis

[7] Natalie Morales, “‘Dead’ Man Recovering after ATV Accident,” Datelinetranscript, NBC News, March 23, 2008.

[8] https://dolanlawfirm.com/2018/06/jahi-mcmath-has-died-in-new-jersey

[9] https://newsletter.halorganization.com/2019/03/why-and-how-to-refuse-to-be-organ-donor.html

HALO also recommends reading “‘Brain death’ is a medical fiction invented to harvest organs from living people: expert” by Stephen Kokz, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/brain-death-is-a-medical-fiction-invented-to-harvest-organs-from-living-people-expert

Published with permission from Renew America.

We Need to Bring Back Parish Missions on Contraception

Fr. Matthew Schneider

In the 1930s or 1950s, how often did the parish priest talk about contraception in homilies? Only occasionally. It might be proposed once a year by the diocese, but generally they didn’t preach much on it. Instead, they would bring mission preachers in regularly and get them to take on hard topics like this.

We have lost these parish mission preachers for the most part. Leslie Woodcock Tentler, author of Catholics and Contraception: An American History, thinks that a large part of the collapse of the missions was how they treated contraception. However, I wonder if we should bring them back precisely for contraception but maybe with some slight changes to adapt to the modern situation. Let me point out why parishes relied on mission preachers to talk about contraception, canon law, and how I might adapt this to the future.

Why Mission Preachers?

Giving preaching on contraception to itinerant preachers served a few purposes. First, it avoiding scandalizing children. It is always challenging to bring up adult sins while not giving inappropriate ideas to the children present at Sunday Mass. When I worked more in youth ministry, we would simply say, “Did you look at anything on the internet you shouldn’t have?” if younger teens were present to avoid giving them ideas about pornography. In a related vein, missions were generally preached only to adults, and often preached to single-sex audiences.

Second, it is hard for a pastor who is close to his flock and “smells like the sheep” to bring up a sin that is common, serious and secret. Bringing in a priest to preach on it lets the pastor just say, “Yes, Fr. Jack was right,” when anyone asks, which might avoid some parish conflicts.

Third, it is a difficult topic to preach on well. Even for a priest with the courage to bring it up, it is hard to make a homily that is engaging, at the level of the everyman and actually explains the reasons behind Catholic teaching.

Canon Law on Parish Missions

Even though parish missions have fallen out of favor in many places, Canon Law still asks for frequent parish missions.

The law in force from 1917-1983 set a rather long time between missions: “Canon 1349.1: The ordinary [bishop] should be vigilant that at least every 10 years that sacred parish missions be held. Parishes priests are to ensure this happens.” In the U.S., most parishes used to have them far more frequently than every 10 years.

The 1983 code dropped the 10-year requirement, and offered other formats, but kept the requirement for extra preaching in parishes: “Canon 770: At certain times according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop, pastors are to arrange for those types of preaching which are called spiritual exercises and sacred missions or for other forms of preaching adapted to needs.”

Thus, every parish is still called to have regular preaching by outside priests. I know many parishes do this regularly, but my experience makes me think some forget about this.

 

Parish Missions Going Forward

Although I disagree slightly with Tentler’s analysis of the collapse of parish missions, she seems like a serious historian to rely on for facts about how these missions preached on contraception.

Today, I don’t know if we could excite the people who need to hear the Church teaching on contraception to a weeknight preaching. I’d hedge my bets. Often a priest will need to get coverage for one or two Sundays a year while he’s out. Why not get a priest specifically trained in contraception to celebrate the Masses and preach one weekend?

I think this would fully resolve two of the three reasons above that mission preachers were relied on before, and it could manage the third. It would solve the issues of being tough to preach well and a pastor looking to avoid parish conflicts. Obviously kids would be present at a Sunday Mass, but I’ve seen a few priests preach in ways that explain Church teaching without giving kids inappropriate ideas.

I think in doing so, we can do something better than the missions 75 years ago. Often these missions just told people to obey the Church on the issue or gave secondary problems that might result from contraception. Instead, modern homilies I’ve seen on this do a far better job of describing the natural law and theological reasons than any of the varied mission homilies Tentler quotes in her book.

I am not the first to suggest this idea. I have heard similar suggestions of training a few priests to give amazing homilies on these tough topics and send them out to cover different parishes each weekend. However, I have yet to seen it done much.

Such missions would need to be timed with classes on NFP/Fertility Awareness of the parish starting right after. Helping couples see how to live without contraception helps change their mind about whether they use it.

If we keep on our current trajectory, we will keep having an official Church teaching that many Catholics ignore. We need a way to teach Catholics this in a way that they are open to accepting the teaching. I think priests who regularly preach on this in different parishes is one way. Let’s bring back parish missions.

 

How the Pill Could Affect Your Choice of Mate, and the Health of Your Future Children, Too

Have you ever heart of the “sweaty T-shirt test?” No, not the quick pit-check you do after a morning at the gym to see if it’s still socially acceptable to run into the coffee shop or grocery store on your way home. I’m talking about the study performed by Swiss scientists in the nineties in which women literally sniffed a whole bunch of men’s sweaty T-shirts. Why did these women subject themselves to such an experiment (and unique form of torture)? For science, of course!

What the Swiss researchers found was that when it comes to the immune system, opposites attract. The women in the study were more attracted to the scents of the men whose major histocompatibility locus (MHC) genes (“one of the immune system’s key markers of identity”) were more dissimilar to their own.

As it turns out, there is an evolutionary advantage to such an adaptation: the offspring of mice with genetically dissimilar immune systems tend to have stronger immune systems—and are therefore healthier—than the offspring of two individuals with genetically similar immune systems. Thus, it made good evolutionary sense that the rule of opposite attraction was observed in the Swiss sweaty T-shirt study: the scent of a man who had MHC genes that were too similar to the woman who sniffed his T-shirt was perceived as less appealing.

What stood out to researchers is that this was the case for all women, except for women who were on birth control.

For women on the Pill, the medication actually altered how they perceived the smell of a potential romantic partner, making them more likely to be attracted to men with genetically similar immune systems, rather than to those with immune systems that differed from their own. This has to do with the way that hormonal birth control “tricks” a woman’s body into believing she’s in a perpetual state of pregnancy, which (evolutionarily speaking) makes her more attracted to men with genetically similar immune systems—i.e., men who are more likely to be related to her—because of the “protection” such relationships can provide in her more vulnerable state.

Future effects on children

Recently, a Danish study made headlines by declaring that there was no evidence for birth defects in the children of mothers who had been on hormonal contraceptives immediately prior to, or during the first few months of, pregnancy. But another recent study went even farther back, before those children were in the picture, to determine whether women who were on birth control when they met their romantic partner produced less healthy offspring than women who met their partners while they were not on any form of hormonal contraception. The findings, reported in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, were astounding:

“Our findings show that children of women who were on the Pill during relationship onset are more often reported by their mothers to be infection-prone and require medical care, suffer from a higher frequency of common sicknesses, and are perceived as generally less healthy than their peers as compared with children of women who were not on contraceptive pills during relationship onset.”

Put simply, what researchers found was that, not only can being on the Pill alter your preferences for a romantic partner, but it might actually have downstream effects on the health of your offspring, too—even if they don’t come in the form of obvious birth defects.

Similarly, there is also some recent evidence that being on the Pill within six months of conceiving a child may also raise that child’s chances for developing leukemia. And the more we find out about the effect of hormones on the gut, the more we may also learn about the impact the Pill’s gut-wrecking effects may have on our future children.

It turns out that a little pill contains quite a lot of power over a woman’s future, her children’s futures, and the future of human evolution.

Safe and effective alternatives

Thankfully, there are ways for women and couples to plan their families that won’t mess with their (very helpful!) evolutionary adaptations—and which can be just as effective at pregnancy prevention as the Pill. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, also known as modern methods of Natural Family Planning, have effectiveness rates comparable to those of hormonal birth control, especially when women and couples take the time and effort to learn a method from a certified instructor.

Women are increasingly turning to natural methods of family planning and cycle charting apps, not only to avoid birth control side effects, but to have greater confidence in theirhealthcare management. With this latest research in mind, they might also make the switch to protect their relationships and children as well.

Hungary’s Minister for the Family: ‘Europe Is Slowly Committing Suicide

Edward Pentin, Apr. 24, 2019,

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/hungarys-minister-for-the-family-europe-is-slowly-committing-suicide

BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian Parliament passed sweeping pro-family legislation April 1, guaranteeing various married couples and families interest-free loans, mortgage assistance and even childcare allowances for grandparents.

The seven-point package is an “important milestone” in the history of Hungarian family policy, says Katalin Novak, Hungary’s minister for the family, in a Europe that is renouncing its Christian culture and “slowly committing suicide.”

Novak also explains in this April 12 interview with the Register why Hungary has pursued such an overt pro-family approach since 2010, one that statistics show has led Hungary’s abortion rate dropping by 33.5% from 2010 to 2018, marriage increasing by 43%, and divorce decreasing by 22.5% between 2010 and 2017.

She also explains how the Hungarian government has persisted with its pro-family policies despite being demonized as “far-right.” The radicals are those who “believe that immigration should be the only path to choose,” Novak argues. “It’s not normal, for example, to compare family support to Nazism.” Mrs. Novak, how important was the recent World Congress of Families in Verona — which brought together pro-family leaders from all over the world — to your work in support of the family, and how might it influence your policy formulation in the future?

As a pro-family politician, I appreciated the opportunity to promote the priority and importance of families and present the Hungarian family-friendly model. The event in Verona was a very good opportunity to spread the word to my colleagues about best practices that actually work in Hungary.

We are building a family-friendly country, and we’ve achieved quite a lot in this field. Last year, the birth rate was at its highest for 20 years, as was the number of marriages. I was more than happy to share our experiences with other countries’ representatives and decision-makers.

What were the main points of your talk?

In my speech, I talked about a Europe that is slowly committing suicide. If we renounce our Christian culture and at the same time stop promoting the importance of the family and children and just accept anything that might happen to our continent, we are in practice sacrificing ourselves and committing suicide.

I presented the Hungarian model’s family-policy measures. The Hungarian government has been pursuing a strong family policy and the goal of being a family-friendly country since 2010. This seeks to achieve a turnaround in demographic trends by supporting legislation, financial incentives, assistance, services and a family-friendly mentality. We are also helping those who are already raising children as much as possible. Traditional strong families represent an asset which we intend to defend — not only in Hungary, but internationally, as well.

Were you surprised by the extent of opposition to the congress, and why do you think it drew so many attacks?

I wasn’t surprised, as we’re used to the habits of the left-liberal media, NGOs and politicians that label everything not in line with their views as wrong, radical and far-right extremism. We’re not radicals — we simply want to strengthen families as much as we can, instead of prioritizing immigration.

In Central Europe, we not only understand the demographic crisis we face, but we also want to find our own solutions that address our young people who would like to have children. This is the difference between Central and Western Europe. Western political elites don’t want to dig deeper into the problems, and they choose the simplest path: mass immigration.

We believe that the demographic crisis can only be solved in the long run by relying on our own internal resources. We’ve asked Hungarians many times about how they imagine their future, who they want to live with, and how many children they want.

The answers were crystal-clear: Hungarians are family-oriented; and they love their families, their culture and their traditions. We’ve been given this direction by the Hungarian people. We want to strengthen families, women and young people. We want to provide security, and we want to protect our Christian culture.

In relation to your government’s support for the family, how have you managed to introduce such policies in the face of opposition, and what can other countries learn from your example?

After we won the election in 2010 with a two-thirds majority, we decided to build a family-friendly country and to strengthen families raising children. We thought the opposition would be a partner in this, but since then there have been very few decisions in the field of family policy that they’ve supported. So if we had always taken the opposition’s opinion into account, Hungary would now be on the brink of collapse. There wouldn’t be such a comprehensive family-support system, a family-friendly tax system, a housing program, 800,000 new jobs, and many opportunities to create a balance between life and work. The socialists have driven our country into deep crisis before, and they would do it again. They’re only interested in grabbing power again; to achieve this goal, they’ve even joined forces with the Hungarian far right.

We now spend twice as much on families as in 2010: almost 5% of total GDP, exceeding the OECD average by almost 100%. We have a very complex, comprehensive support system, and we help families in many different fields, including nursery developments, the tax system, housing and pension policy. We are open to sharing our experiences and best practices worldwide.

How can policies supporting the family be separated from the demonizing label of “far right”?

In many cases, everything is considered “far right” that is to the right of a given position. Is it far right and extremist to support families, just because of this? The question itself is misleading.

In our eyes, the radicals are those who believe that immigration should be the only path to choose. It’s not normal, for example, to compare family support to Nazism — as one Swedish minister has done. Our main aim is to provide opportunities and to make it possible for young Hungarians to freely decide about their lives. Is this far right?

How do you see the future? Do you see the tide turning and governments adopting more pro-family policies in the coming months and years?

The starting point is that in Europe there is a battle between anti-migration and pro-migration countries. We want to solve the demographic challenges by strengthening families, while they prefer migration over empowering young Europeans to have more children.

Meanwhile, there are more and more people that are deeply worried about the unchecked influx of illegal immigrants and the rise of terrorist attacks. Europewide I see that there is an increasing demand for good policies that enable people to live better, to have more choice and to receive help when needed.

The European Parliament election in May will be an important milestone. The question is very much about whether the EU is able to renew and strengthen itself by putting families at the core, instead of surrendering.

One thing is clear: We shall continue to support families in the future, and in this we hope to have more and more allies — like Poland or Italy, among others.

What measures does this new legislation, the Family Protection Action Plan, include?

This seven-point package is an important milestone in the history of Hungarian family policy and also in our attempts since 2010 to build a family-friendly country. The law has just been approved by Parliament and will be effective from July 1:

· Married couples in which the wife is under 40 will be eligible for an interest-free, general-purpose loan of 31,000 euro. Repayment can be suspended, significantly reduced or written off entirely if the couple go on to have children.

· Families raising at least three children will be eligible for a grant of 7,800 euro to buy a new car seating at least seven people.

· There will be universal crèche [baby crib] provision by 2022. Therefore, we will be creating 21,000 additional crèche places over the next three years.

· We are providing the opportunity for families to reduce their mortgage loans by 3,100 euro upon the birth of a second child. Upon the birth of a third child, this amount increases to 12,500 euro.

· The preferential home-loan scheme will be extended: Families will be able to use it for purchasing existing properties as well as new ones. The amounts on which repayment relief is available are up to 31,000 euro or 48,000 euro, depending on the number of children.

· And from Jan. 1, 2020: We are providing lifetime exemption from personal income tax for Hungarian women who have given birth to at least four children or who will give birth to a fourth child.

· Grandparents will be eligible for childcare allowance.

This is not the end of our work. There is more to come! Hungarian families can count on us.

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

Declining Sacramental Life of the Church an Alarming Trend

MSGR. ROBERT BATULE

https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/declining-sacramental-life-of-the-church-an-alarming-trend

Where are you headed? This is not just a question the cabbie asks when you get into his car in a big city somewhere in America. It is also a question we ask ourselves as Catholics. With Lent in progress, we know the answer: We are headed to Easter and we get there by following the apostles Peter and John in their run to the empty tomb. We do not, however, run through Lent. Lent is a time to slow down and think seriously about serious matters.

By thinking seriously about serious matters, I do not have in mind the intricacies of Trinitarian theology or the subtleties in atonement theology—although it is never unwise to think about these matters. What I have in mind are the realities of ecclesial life in large swaths of the United States at the present time.

Decades ago, I had the good fortune to meet a dedicated religious priest at a wedding. At the reception following the nuptial Mass, we were seated next to each other, and from that time forward we were friends. In the discussions that good friends have over the years, good priest friends, that is, the topic of the Church was ever present. Often, my priest friend would remark, “The Church means less and less to more and more Catholics.”

Never mind that this priest had me by more than a few years, but he had also travelled widely in the United States because of responsibilities related to his ministry. Having age and experience on his side, I was inclined to trust my friend’s observation. In fact, I did not have to extend the benefit of the doubt to him in the matter of what the Church means to Catholics today. I could see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears what was occurring in the lives of Catholics whom I met in pastoral setting after pastoral setting. My own ministry was already showing me what had been manifested to my friend over a much longer span of time.

What you may ask at this point is: what are you referring to, Monsignor? What examples can you give in support of your thesis? Well, let me offer a few illustrations.

Every year at the Easter Vigil, in most parishes, men and women are baptized and received into the Church. In some places, the numbers are small but that is not always the case. In a diocese, when you add up all the parishes, the numbers of baptisms and receptions into full communion run into the hundreds or perhaps exceed one, two, or three thousand in large archdioceses. What happens when the Church marks the Second Sunday of Easter or the Solemnity of Pentecost? The newly initiated and the newly received—most of them, anyway—vanish and are not seen again in our parishes by priest or congregant.

Regular churchgoers have known for a while now that Mass attendance is not what it used to be. Reliable surveys indicate that weekly attendance is somewhere in the range of 18 to 25 percent, with higher and lower median averages depending on specific locale and other factors across the nation. Not so well known to Catholics are the steep falloffs in infant baptisms, weddings, and funerals. In just one of the categories mentioned, weddings, estimates are that church weddings are off by two-thirds in heavily Catholic areas compared with only thirty years ago. If you are doubtful about the downward shifts in weddings, infant baptisms, and funerals, you would do well to check out the statistics for these indices of Catholic life through the publication of the annual The Official Catholic Directory, which was known for the longest time as the Kenedy Directory. Go back fifty years, forty years, thirty years, twenty years, or even just a decade and you will be amazed at the enormous differences in reported sacramental celebration.

One thing The Official Catholic Directory will not be able to tell you is the massive decline in sacramental confessions. For that, you will have to show up in your parish church at the regularly scheduled period for celebrating the Sacrament of Penance. Thirty years ago, it was not unusual for a priest to sit in a confessional for ninety minutes and hear confessions without any “downtime.” Not today though. It is mostly “downtime” with very few penitents going to have their sins absolved.

Much can be adduced to explain the phenomena cited above from a sociological perspective. Surely that would be helpful but only to a point. What is needed is a more fundamental explanation, one which must concern itself with the Church’s nature and how this is, unfortunately, lost on many Catholics today.

Since sociology helps but only up to a point, let us start there. Sociology, as an academic discipline, studies institutions and the services they provide to those within the social matrix. According to the applicable taxonomy, the Church is a mediating institution. She mediates between persons and the society to which they belong. She is a “go-between,” putting persons in a more salutary relationship with each other and over against other, more “depersonalizing” institutions. However, this kind of mediating is basically along a functionalist axis, and thus has nothing to do with what Catholics believe as Catholics.

The Church, by her nature, is mediating. But the mediation she exercises does not start with what we do. It begins with Christ, the Mediator (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). He is the One who puts us in a relationship, an ontological relationship, with the Blessed Trinity, and this new reality commences for us with baptism. It is important to note however, that baptism inaugurates but does not complete our sacramental incorporation into Christ. In the sacramental ministry—from baptism through the Anointing of the Sick—the Church has a concrete means by which Jesus the Mediator reaches people who were not on earth when he was. Through the sacramental ministry—again, from baptism through the Anointing of the Sick—the mediation accomplished once and for all in Christ reaches people today through his Body, the Church.

All of this is put forward succinctly and directly for us in Lumen Gentium where the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council say that “the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament.” (1) She is the sacrament par excellence because “[t]he one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains [her as] the community of faith.” (8)

Just a few years after the close of Vatican II, then-Father Joseph Ratzinger delivered lectures that he would later publish as Introduction to Christianity (1968). In this volume, the future Pope Benedict XVI writes: “[T]he sacramental idea … forms the heart of the concept of the Church: Church and sacrament stand or fall together; a Church without sacraments would be an empty organization, and sacraments without a Church would be rites without meaning or inner connection.”

The problem we need to face up to, pastorally, is why so many Catholics choose to forsake sacramental celebration as a regular feature of Catholic life. Could it be that so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ view the Church as “an empty organization?” Or do they see the sacraments as “rites without meaning or inner connection?” As then-Father Joseph Ratzinger says above, “Church and sacrament stand or fall together.” Right now, these two pillars of faith are not standing all that well.

Archbishop: Catholic Voters Share Blame For Radical Abortion Laws

Some concerns in the pro-life community today are with supporters who are personally pro-life but believe they cannot impose on others their opinion that abortion is wrong, and pro-lifers who believe in “certain circumstances” abortion should be an option. These pro-life supporters may have well intentions but are misinformed or do not hold pro-life values as a high priority. They may vote for legislators whether or not their “personal” stance on abortion is shared. This attitude occurs in communities everyday. This “pro-lifer” could be your best friend, your relative, or a fellow parishioner at your church.

The Catholic church, for example, has always considered abortion a mortal sin. Their doctrine forbids all abortions, but church members are sometimes divided on the issue; some Catholics are pro-abortion, and some are pro-life. Additionally, there are other Catholics who are apathetic, or care personally, but are politically indifferent. With the increasingly radical abortion laws being passed across the country, many Catholics and pro-life supporters have voiced their outrage at their government and these morbid, inhumane laws, even permitting infanticide. But were they passionately advocating for their position on election day when it mattered?

It is easy to blame pro-abortion politicians, even pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, but it is time for pro-life supporters and pro-life Catholics to look in the mirror.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee Wisconsin argued, “The real problem lies with our Catholic community that justifies the voting for candidates who would support anti-life actions.”

Why are we compromising our morals and beliefs by voting for these politicians? We deserve better. These politicians need our votes. We are letting these so-called leaders pass these laws. To make a difference, Catholic pro-life supporters need to stand up.

Listecki also urged, “Therefore, it begins with us making our voices heard as politicians vie for our votes, and refusing to accept the rationalization that we can make these heinous acts rare and limited. Human life demands our respect, protection, and nothing less.”

Indirectly, when pro-life supporters and pro-life Catholics do not vote for pro-life politicians, they are condoning abortion or even supporting infanticide. In historical times of human atrocities, it was similarly vital for people to take a moral stand.

During World War II, millions of people were being slaughtered, yet there were Nazi soldiers and others who knew it was wrong, but did nothing. Some were intimidated by fear.

Similarly today, some pro-life supporters may not be vocal for fear of a controversial issue. Pro-life supporters voting for pro-abortion politicians, however, are no different than those passively complicit in other injustices.

Thus, pro-life Catholics who vote for extremist pro-abortion politicians arguably share the blame, which is why it is important for Catholics and other Christians to advocate for the preborn and educate others.

Together, the Church can take positive steps to end abortion if we are willing to start the difficult dialogue and vote our values.

From the Heart of the Infertility Conversation Shines a Strong Pro-Life, Pro-Woman Message

Marissa Mayer

I recently learned that this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. While those who’ve experienced infertility are surely painfully aware of its difficulties, for the rest of us, it presents a great opportunity to learn more about this struggle that affects 1 in 8 couples. If we listen, we can better understand how to come alongside these men and women to encourage and support them.

A message of faith, hope, and life from Washington, D.C.

Many news outlets ran stories this week highlighting some of the famous women and couples who’ve experienced infertility and its heartbreak. First up was Second Lady Karen Pence, who shared a rare interview with The Federalist’s Melissa Langsam Braunstein. The article is poignant in its rawness relating how painful, consuming, and exhausting the infertility journey can be.

“It took us six years before we were able to get pregnant with our first child…We were ready to start our family, and it just didn’t happen. And when you experience that, all of your friends are getting pregnant, all of your relatives are getting pregnant, I remember my little niece looked up at me one day and said, “Auntie Karen, why don’t you have any babies?” It can be a very heartbreaking experience, and so for us, we thought, maybe we’re just not going to be a couple that has children.”

For the Pences, adoption proved to be a great alternative, but just as an opportunity came up, Mrs. Pence learned she was pregnant. Still, it took a lot to get to that point, including questioning and ultimately trusting God to bring children into their lives in His perfect timing.

“For us, it was really a matter of just letting God bring us kids when He was ready to bring us kids, and that’s where they come from, and so we just had to wait until He was ready. And now it’s so clear to us that that was the perfect timing, these kids are the perfect kids for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful every day that He gave us that privilege.”

The message of faith is not surprising coming from the Second Lady, and it sure is a welcome addition to the mainstream conversation about infertility. It’s a message I’ve seen echoed by many Christian women who have been bold in sharing their struggles in the midst of such a deep desire to become mothers. For these women, the pro-life message is simply understood. They know that a baby in the womb is a gift—and his or her life is just as precious at the moment of conception as it is at the moment of birth.

 

The Hollywood pro-life, pro-woman message

For me, I was more amazed to hear such a strong pro-life, pro-woman message coming from Hollywood celebrities who have experienced infertility. The Huffington Post ran an article titled, “13 Celebrities Who’ve Shared Their Struggles With Infertility,” and the comments in that article struck me as so staunchly pro-life and pro-women, that I couldn’t help but wonder how those celebrities reconcile some of their policy positions with their own statements.

For example, actress Jaime King, a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood who even donated to the abortion giant in Mike Pence’s name, struggled for seven years with infertility. And yet, her heartbreaking story is a testament to human life in the womb and the beauty of womanhood.

“Nobody knew how long it took me to get pregnant, that for seven years I had so many losses, I’d been trying for so long and I was in so much pain… Somewhere in our subconscious when someone tells you, ‘Oh, you might not be able to do that,’ you feel like it’s the one thing that you have … I feel like it’s detrimental for me as a woman to not be honest about that and that it’s detrimental that women don’t talk about these things because when you go through it you feel like you’re suffering in silence by yourself.”

Singer Beyoncé, who is currently pregnant with twins and has surprised many with her pro-life tributes to her unborn children in recent months, echoed King’s story of hope and tragic loss.

“About two years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. And I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life. I picked out names. I envisioned what my child would look like … I was feeling very maternal. I flew back to New York to get my check up—and no heartbeat. Literally the week before I went to the doctor, everything was fine, but there was no heartbeat… it was the saddest thing I’ve ever been through.”

While these are just a couple of examples from the article, it’s encouraging to see these women speak so openly, not only about their experiences, but about their understanding of life in the womb and the unique capacity that women have to bring new life into this world.

Infertility is a deeply personal journey

If you’re anything like me, you desire ways to better understand infertility and be there for the friends and family in your life who are experiencing it. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from reading these stories and hearing others, it’s that infertility is personal. Some may want to share; others may not. The only thing we can do is be more aware, be sensitive to the realities (1 in 8 couples!), and pray that those who experience infertility will find peace, joy, and fulfillment in whatever God brings their way.

My heart hurts for these women and men who so desperately want to become mothers and fathers. And while I don’t know their experience, their emotions, or their pain, I am thankful for their message and for their strength in sharing it.

Mom With Cancer Refused Abortion to Save Her Unborn Baby Girl’s Life, 10 Years Later They’re Doing Great

MICAIAH BILGER

Almost 11 years ago, Sarah Wickline Hull received some of the worst possible news that a pregnant mother could hear: She had aggressive cancer, and both she and her unborn baby could die.

Wickline Hull said her doctors encouraged her to have an abortion, but she refused.

Today, she is cancer free and her daughter is a happy, healthy 10-year-old.

In a Facebook post in January, Wickline Hull shared her story as the debate about legalized late-term abortions erupted again in the United States.

“People are talking about the medical necessity of abortion to save the mother’s life. I was one of those mothers,” she wrote.

She struggled with infertility for years before becoming pregnant with her daughter. Then, at 20 weeks, Wickline Hull was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that was cutting off her airway.

“I will never forget when the first doctor, an oncologist, mentioned abortion,” she said.

Immediately, she rejected the idea of aborting her unborn daughter, saying, “I knew I would rather die and give birth.”

A second doctor also urged her to consider abortion after listing a number of problems that her baby may have.

“I stood my ground and refused,” she remembered. “He said, ‘That is ok. The baby will probably spontaneously abort anyway.’”

Eventually, Wickline Hull said she found doctors who supported her decision to choose life for her baby. At 34 weeks of pregnancy, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

“I will be celebrating 10 years cancer free in May,” she said. “I have a healthy, beautiful, bright, precious 10 year old daughter who is a living reminder that doctors do not know everything.”

Wickline Hull’s courageous story is one of many. LifeNews has reported numerous stories about mothers who chose life for their unborn babies after being diagnosed with cancer. Most of the mothers survived the cancer, while a few sacrificed their lives for their babies.

New research provides growing hope for mothers in these difficult situations. In 2012, a collection of stories from The Lancet found pregnant women do not need to have an abortion to get treatment for cancer. Similarly, a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found chemotherapy may not impair unborn babies’ general development.

Why Easter Sunday Matters to the Pro-Life Movement

STEVEN ERTELT

Of all the holidays and events on our calendars, I believe none are more important than Easter Sunday.

The pro-life movement’s entire reason for existing is to promote and protect the value of human life because it is created in the image of God. If it were not – if human life were simply highly-evolved amoeba fighting to survive in a dog-eat-dog world – then the best we could hope for is to appeal to a supposed charitable nature for the good of society.

Instead, we can point to Psalm 139 and speak of how God knits each of us together in the womb. Critics will say it is merely Jewish poetry or laugh at it as an ancient attempt to explain the mystery of fetal development.

We can appeal to the common concern man has for man as a sign of God-given compassion when tragedy strikes at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School. Critics will point to Auschwitz or Dachau and say that man is an animal.

We can talk about teachings in the Christian church on the sanctity of life. Critics will call it superstitious, biased against other faiths, or lies.

But when we talk about the Creator of Life, we can point to an empty tomb as validation that the God of the universe is who He says He is.

Easter must not be a three-day weekend that places our programs and efforts on hold. It must be the central event in human history that we must hold on to as proof that we each bear the fingerprints of God.

How can we not protect so precious a gift?

May you and your family enjoy a blessed Easter.

LifeNews Note: Mike Fichter is the president of Indiana Right to Life.

446 babies saved from abortion so far in 40 Days for Life’s Lent campaign

 

(Life Site News) 40 Days for Life’s current initiative has only been going on for a little over a month, yet the pro-life effort has already saved hundreds of unborn lives from abortion.

Timed to coincide with Lent, the latest 40 Days campaign began on March 6 in 377 cities across the United States, United Kingdom, and 29 other countries around the world. Volunteers have been stationed outside abortion facilities for 12 hours a day to conduct prayer vigils and offer sidewalk counseling to women considering abortion.

“The whole point of this is to take a positive and upbeat pro-life message to the whole community,” Robert Colquhoun, 40 Days’ Director of International Campaigns, told LifeSiteNews last month. “It is simple, and effective because it works. Lives are saved, hearts and minds and changed and eternal souls are impacted. Abortion workers leave [their employment] and abortion centers close.”

Since then, 40 Days has received 446 confirmed reports of mothers choosing life for their babies, the group revealed Monday. The post shared several examples of the fruits of their efforts.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a man named Marcus who reluctantly accompanied his girlfriend to Planned Parenthood spoke with the sidewalk counselor, who promised help and convinced him to text her to leave the building before going through with the abortion. The couple left “smiling” and eager to go to a pregnancy center instead, and Marcus even participated in the prayer vigil.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a traffic delay kept a woman from leaving Planned Parenthood’s parking lot long enough for a 40 Days volunteer to offer help, to which she revealed, “I changed my mind. I didn’t do it. It’s a baby!”

Many other stories can be found on 40 Days’ blog and Facebook page.

Not every interaction has been positive. Late last month, an 85-year-old pro-life volunteer was shoved to the ground and repeatedly kicked outside a San Francisco Planned Parenthood location. But the overall fruits of 40 Days’ efforts have been encouraging, and 40 Days says it plans a live webcast on April 30 to recap volunteers’ impact.

“Father, we have done battle with the power of evil, and therefore we can have compassion on those still within its grip,” 40 Days for Life president Shawn Carney wrote. “We have been freed from the kingdom of darkness, and therefore we can bear witness to your Kingdom of Light. May the witness of all your people through these 40 Days for Life bear abundant fruit.”

Last year, 40 Days for Life reported that it has saved 14,000 since its campaigns first started in 2007.

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

As more women die from abortion pill, the FDA approves a generic version

 

The FDA has approved a generic version of the abortion pill Mifeprex, at a time when more deaths are being reported and the abortion industry is pushing for the dangerous abortion inducing chemicals to be dispensed online or by mail. According to a notice from the FDA, the generic version is approved for use as an abortifacient. This news comes just a day before the FDA updated its adverse effects reports through 2018, stating, “As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal…” The FDA’s 2017 report put the number of deaths at 22.

This means that in 2018 alone, two more women died from taking the abortion pill. And yet, now a generic version is going to be made available.

To date, the report documents nearly 4,200 reported adverse effects, including hospitalization and other serious complications.

On April 11, 2019, the FDA approved GenBioPro, Inc.’s abbreviated new drug application for a generic Mifeprex, which, when used with Misoprostol is approved as an abortion pill regimen. The FDA states (emphasis added), “This approval reflects FDA’s determination that GenBioPro’s product, Mifepristone Tablets, 200 mg, is therapeutically equivalent to Mifeprex and can be safely substituted for Mifeprex. Like Mifeprex, the approved generic product is indicated for the medical termination of intrauterine pregnancy through 70 days gestation….”

READ: The secrecy surrounding the abortion pill’s maker and influential financial investors must end

Image: Generic abortion pill by GenBioPro approved by FDA

Generic abortion pill by GenBioPro approved by FDA

The FDA also states clearly that although they modified the Mifeprex application to include “mifepristone products,” this change in no way removes the FDA’s REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy), “a safety strategy to manage a known or potential serious risk associated with a medicine and to enable patients to have continued access to such medicines by managing their safe use.”

Of note, on April 11, 2019, FDA approved a supplemental application for Mifeprex, approving modifications to the existing approved REMS for Mifeprex to establish a single, shared system REMS for mifepristone products (including Mifeprex as well as the approved generic version of Mifeprex) for the medical termination of intrauterine pregnancy through 70 days gestation. In establishing the single, shared system REMS, no changes were made to the substantive elements of the REMS. This single, shared system REMS is known as the Mifepristone REMS Program.

Find approval information for this 2019 supplement here.

The approved generic version of Mifeprex generally has the same labeling as Mifeprex…Under the law, the approved generic version of Mifeprex is required to use a single, shared system REMS with the brand product, Mifeprex. This single, shared system REMS, known as the Mifepristone REMS Program, sets forth the distribution requirements that must be followed for both Mifeprex and the approved generic version of Mifeprex.

Requiring that the generic be subject to FDA’s REMS is good news for now, because, as Live Action News has previously reported, the abortion lobby is attempting to expand access to the abortion pills via mail order or pharmacy by pushing “self-managed abortion,” described by Guttmacher as ending a pregnancy “without direct supervision by a health care provider.” To accomplish this, REMS, must be eliminated.

READ: What you should know about the dangerous ‘self-managed’ abortion pill push

Dr. Donna Harrison, Executive Director American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists(AAPLOG), agreed, telling Live Action News (emphasis added):

Allowing a generic equivalent of Mifeprex basically means that the patent restrictions have run out. So, new drugs have a patent which is time limited… and in the case of Mifeprex, the patent was held by the Population Council. So, now that the patent has run out, generics are allowed. But this does not change the restrictions. REMS are still in place until FDA changes the restrictions. So, just to clarify, this does not mean that Mifeprex is OTC [over-the-counter]. It just changes how much quality control goes in to the pill manufacturing process and how much Danco can charge for the drug.

The move towards a generic drug is being hailed a victory by abortion advocates, specifically Dr. Daniel Grossman, who has deep ties to the “self-managed” abortion pill push.

Image: FDA Approves generic abortion drug (Image Twitter Dr. Daniel Grossman)

FDA Approves generic abortion drug (Image Twitter Dr. Daniel Grossman)

Image: FDA Approves generic abortion drug NWHC (Image: Twitter)

FDA Approves generic abortion drug NWHC (Image: Twitter)

Under the Mifepristone REMS Program, the FDA states, “Mifeprex and the approved generic version of Mifeprex” may:

  • [O]nly be supplied directly to healthcare providers who are certified to prescribe the drug product and who meet certain qualifications.
  • [T]he products are only available to be dispensed in certain healthcare settings, specifically, clinics, medical offices and hospitals, by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber.
  • They are not available in retail pharmacies and are not legally available over the Internet.

The original drug (Mifeprex) was approved in 2000 after being brought to the U.S. by the eugenics-founded Population Council, and was seeded by the Packard Foundation among other pro-abortion philanthropy groups. They then set up a highly secretive company named Danco to manufacturer the drug.

The generic version is produced by GenBioPro, Inc., which also appears to have the financial supportof abortion collaborators. In fact, Packard gave GenBioPro, Inc. $185,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017. According to the Nevada Secretary of State, a 2007 filing for the company was permanently revoked. A new filing in 2011 is active and shows a registered agent of CSC Services of Nevada, Inc.and the only officer listed is E. Masingill.

The FDA warns consumers they should not buy Mifeprex or GenBioPro, Inc.’s approved generic version of Mifeprex, Mifepristone Tablets, 200 mg., over the Internet because they will bypass important safeguards designed to protect patient health.

Artist creates sonogram art to express ‘beauty of life’ in the womb

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Artist Caitlin Solan calls herself “passionately pro-life” and expresses that love for life through colorful paintings which capture the lives of her littlest clients during their time living inside their mothers’ wombs.

“I started creating sonogram art about 3 1/2 years ago,” she told Live Action News. “I wanted to use my art talent to glorify God and make a positive difference. I have always felt strongly about fighting for life and being a part of the pro-life movement.”

 

Solan explained that she uses bright, bold colors and “expressive” brushstrokes along with splatter art to portray the beauty of life inside the womb. She enjoys turning what is normally a black and white image into a colorful work of art.

“My goal is to show that these babies are alive and their lives are beautiful,” she said. “My sonogram paintings are one way that I fight for life in a positive way, without bringing attention to any negative aspects of the debate, but just focusing on the beauty of life.”

 

 

Solan is thankful that she is able to create art that is meaningful and personal to her clients. Sonograms are parents’ first pictures of their child, and sometimes, sadly, it’s the only one they get. Solan has created paintings of babies who have been miscarried, as well as rainbow babies, and even one baby who was aborted. The mother had been pressured to abort and deeply regretted it, so a friend gifted her with the painting.

“I hope my paintings of lost babies bring comfort to the families and that the artwork will be a positive remembrance of their child,” Solan explained.

Sonogram artwork has become a popular way to display the first image of a child, rather than the usual placement of the black and white image in a simple frame. Some new parents coordinate the artwork to the nursery they lovingly decorate for their new arrival or use it as a way of announcing their pregnancy. Friends and family can even gift the artwork as a baby shower present. Some moms have even taken to having their children’s sonogram images painted on their fingernails.

How top Catholic leaders betrayed parents and children by promoting sex ed

April 15, 2019 (Calx Mariae) — Sacred Scripture has a great deal to say about education, which starts within the relationship between parent and child, and, in order to be purposeful and true, must also begin with knowledge and fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7–8, Deut. 11:19, 32:46, Eph. 6:4). This principle of the parent as “primary educator”, who has both the God-given role and responsibility to teach a child “in the way he should go” (Prov. 22.6), has consequently been an established and consistent tenet of authentic Catholic teaching. It is the father and mother, through their participation in God’s work of creation, who have conferred life on their children and have the closest natural relationship with them.

The Church affirms that this God-given parental right and duty is, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others”.They have the “right to educate their children in conformity with their religious and moral convictions” and “should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly”.This is even more so the case with “Relationships and Sex Education” (RSE), as the government now refers to this most intimate area of our children’s learning and development, especially given the potential influence of such learning not only on children’s health, well-being, purpose, and fulfilment in this life, but their vocation in the Spirit and eternal salvation in the next life.Consequently, Pope John Paul II insisted that “sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe.”4 In The truth and meaning of human sexuality, the Pontifical Council for the Family explained: “Other educators can assist in this task [of education for chastity] but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity.” (Section 23)

A SHIFT IN THE CHURCH’S POSITION?

Catholic parents worldwide therefore have been severely challenged by the march of the comprehensive sex education agenda, and, in many countries, the growing imposition, if not virtual takeover, by the state in this sacred area of parental responsibility. Equally disconcerting has been the more than just apparent shift of the Holy See in this important area during the pontificate of Pope Francis. His controversial post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia (2016) overlooks the Church’s previously clear teaching on the matter in its section entitled “Yes to Sex Education” (translated in the English version as “The Need for Sex Education”) (Ch.7). This section does not make any reference to the role of parents in educating their children in the area of sexuality, but only refers instead to the role of “educational institutions”. Pope Francis reaffirmed his position in a recent interview on the plane returning from World Youth Day in Panama (28 January 2019). He stated:

I believe that we must provide sex education in schools. […] But we need to offer an objective sexual education, as it is, without ideological colonization. […] Sex as a gift from God must be taught, not with rigidity. […] I don’t say this without putting myself in the political problem of Panama. But they need to have sex education. The ideal is to start from home, with the parents. It is not always possible because there are so many different situations in families, and because they do not know how to do it. And so the school makes up for this, because otherwise it will remain a void that will then be filled by any ideology.5

The Pontifical Council for the Family also no longer abides by the Church’s perennial teaching. After the promulgation of Amoris laetitia, it published its own sex education programme, titled “The Meeting Point,” in 2016. This programme, which is intended to be taught in schools, in mixed classrooms, and not by parents, has been widely criticised by Catholic and pro-life commentators for its failure to adequately convey Catholic moral teachings, for its secularising approach, and use of inappropriate images. Psychiatrist Rick Fitzgibbons MD, who has worked extensively with Catholic youth harmed psychologically by family breakdown, sexual abuse, pornography, and other consequences of the permissive society, has described the programme as being, “in my professional opinion, the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years”; it “reveals an ignorance of the enormous sexual pressure upon youth today and will result in their subsequent confusion in accepting the Church’s teaching”.6

THE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES, AND THE CES

The Bishops of England and Wales, via the Catholic Education Service (CES), have been even more advanced in this agenda. From 1999 until 2008 the Chairman of the CES was Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham (now Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster). Under the chairmanship of Archbishop Nichols the CES developed a policy that resulted in providing children in Catholic schools, including adolescents under the legal age of consent, with access to abortion and contraception services without parental knowledge or consent, through a state-run confidential advice agency, named “Connexions”.

Also under his chairmanship the CES joined the Sex Education Forum and agreed to policies directly contrary to Catholic teaching and the natural law. Membership of the forum required agreement with the Sex and Relationships Education Framework (2003, reissued 2005), which, for instance, “welcomes” the “diversity of society” in the area of “sexuality”, regards sex education as “an entitlement for all boys as well as girls; those who are heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual”, and requires that children should be given “relevant information” which “is accurate and non-judgmental” about “the potential consequences of unprotected sex” including “abortion”.

In April 2010 the CES, now under the chairmanship of Malcolm McMahon (then Bishop of Nottingham, now Archbishop of Liverpool), appointed as deputy director, Greg Pope, a former Labour member of Parliament, who had an extensive anti-life, anti-family voting record. Pope remained in that post until his promotion, in 2017, to be the Assistant General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

BETRAYAL OF CATHOLIC PARENTS IN ENGLAND

For Catholic parents in England recent developments are bringing the threatened state takeover of their God-given role to a critical new reality, and the conduct of the Catholic Education Service, which should be at the vanguard of protecting their rights, as well as the God-given rights of all parents, has instead been, in certain specific ways, complicit in their betrayal.

In March 2017, Parliament passed the government’s Children and Social Work Act (2017) which made the new subjects of Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools in England, and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools in England, including faith and independent schools. It was announced that the required content of these new subjects would be subject to public consultation, although from the outset government spokespersons, including the Prime Minister, stated that Relationships Education would be “LGBT” inclusive.7The government stated that parents would be able to withdraw their children only from the “sex education” parts of RSE at secondary school.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, chair of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, issued a statement welcoming the government’s announcement that it was acting to change the law:

Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) forms part of the mission of Catholic schools to educate the whole person. Our schools have a long track record of educating young people who are prepared for adult life as informed and engaged members of society, and high quality RSE plays an important part of this.

We welcome the government’s commitment to improving Relationship and Sex Education in all schools. Catholic schools already teach age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education in both primary and secondary schools. This is supported by a Catholic model RSE curriculum which covers the RSE curriculum from nursery all the way through to sixth form.

We additionally welcome the government’s commitment to protect parental right of withdrawal and involve parents in all stages of the development and delivery of RSE in all schools. It is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach to these sensitive matters. The experience of Catholic schools is that parental involvement is the basis for providing consistent and high quality RSE at home and at school.

We look forward to working closely with the government to shape any new guidance to enable Catholic schools to continue to deliver outstanding RSE, in accordance with parents’ wishes and Church teaching.

Despite the apparently strong statements with regard to parental involvement, it is telling how much the statement conforms, not to established Catholic teaching on the matter, but to the new secular “orthodoxy” and government policy regarding this area of a child’s learning. It is now the “mission” of the school to “educate the whole person” — rather than this principally being the parents’ mission and responsibility. The parent is simply granted an “involvement” in the process, because “it is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach”. There is no reference to the fact that the “right of withdrawal” at this time was only for the “Sex Education” parts of RSE, and, in any case, the government’s actual distinction between “sex” and “relationships” education is still very much unclear. There are echoes of all the key buzzwords of the sex education lobby in the statement — the changes are all about “improvement” and providing “high quality RSE” (by whose criteria?), which is essential to prepare them “for adult life as informed and engaged members of society”, or as the Department for Education puts it, “to support all young people to stay safe and prepare for life in modern Britain”.After all, who wouldn’t want our children to be “safe” and “prepared for life in “modern Britain”? Except do we serve them best by preparing them to either counter or conform to those aspects of “life in modern Britain” which are opposed to the Gospel? What will keep them the safest: following the true teachings of the Church in the area of sex and relationships, or following instead the new secular moral code of the LGBT and sex education lobbies?

Leaving aside for a moment the assumption that all Catholic schools in England and Wales offer genuine “Catholic teaching” in every respect, what about the 90 per cent of children, including many Catholic children, who do not attend a Catholic school? Should we be concerned at all for their temporal and eternal welfare? Does the Church not have any kind of mission to evangelise the nation, to shine the light of God’s truth into every corner of public policy?

There is a submissive ghetto mentality here reminiscent of the bishops’ role in the issue over adoption by homosexual couples. The bishops of England and Wales appeared to take the line that, of course we accept that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt because that was in the Labour government’s manifesto, but we are just requesting a “bit of diversity in the system”, and requesting an opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies when it comes to same sex adoption — even though Archbishop Nichols admitted that Catholic adoption agencies had been giving up children for adoption by single (but active?) homosexuals and also by unmarried but cohabiting heterosexual couples. Moreover, the bishops had no objections to allowing Catholic adoption agencies to refer homosexual applicants to agencies that would place children with homosexual couples.9

Naturally in both practising and freely admitting this highly compromised position there was no witness whatsoever as to why deliberately denying an adopted child the natural situation of having a father and mother was wrong, or why the homosexual lifestyle was wrong. The government regarded such a weak, compromised, and contradictory stance with absolute contempt, brushing it aside and insisting it would be done regardless. All but one of the twelve diocesan adoption agencies either voluntarily closed themselves down or cut their ties with the Church — exactly what the enemies of the Church wanted in the first place.10 This should also perhaps serve as a forewarning to us of what will happen to Catholic schools when the government wants to drive the LGBT juggernaut over a red line that is too far even for the Bishops of England and Wales.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR CHURCH ACTION

The government announced a public “Call for Evidence” in December 2017, which closed in February 2018, concerning what should be the content of the new compulsory subjects. Seeing as this was a public consultation, where numbers clearly matter, one would have thought it might have been a good idea to encourage Catholics, especially Catholic parents, to participate and make submissions? The message from the CES, however, seemed to be that we can just trust and leave everything to them, that everything is and will be fine with Catholic schools, and that everything the government is doing with regard to RSE is positive and can be perfectly compatible with the Church’s teaching. A number of pro-life and pro-family organisations, including SPUC, did, however, campaign hard to rally parents and their supporters to respond to the “Call for Evidence”. This helped contribute to an impressive 23,000 submissions. The government’s reporting on the results of that consultation, however, has been highly inadequate, and what it had produced showed no evidence whatsoever for any claims of consensus, especially from parents, for the agenda it is pursuing.

In July 2018 the government issued its Draft Guidance and Regulations regarding the proposed content and delivery of the new subjects, and simultaneously launched a second public consultation on their acceptability. There was some evidence of the positive impact of campaigning by the pro-life and pro-family lobby. There was an acknowledgement that parents are the primary educators in certain of the matters covered by the new subjects, and that it would be mandatory for schools to consult with parents on RSE policies and programmes. However, where do the parents stand when, following the consultation, they are still unhappy about what the school proposes to teach? Overall the Draft Regulations and Guidance seriously undermine parental rights, and also present a completely one-sided view of human sexuality, marriage, and the family which is contrary to what the Catholic faith teaches.

The children’s programme of study is required to be “LGBT inclusive” throughout and present homosexual relationships and family structures in a positive manner. In primary school, children must be made to understand and accept that families “sometimes” look different from their family, but that they should respect those differences and know that other children’s families are characterised by “love and care for them”; also that marriage, including same-sex “marriage” and civil partnerships, represents “a formal and legally recognised commitment of two people to each other which is intended to be lifelong”.11 In other words, primary school children will have to demonstrate “respect” for the idea and practice of homosexual relationships and not just for the people involved in them, and will be expected to agree that such relationships, including when they have children, are just as valid, positive and beneficial as those based on real marriage.

In RSE at secondary school teenagers will be further encouraged to “explore” their developing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. It presents dangerous and immoral lifestyle choices as equally valid as marriage. Abortion is presented simply as one of the available options during pregnancy and pupils will be signposted to contraceptive and abortion services, without any parental knowledge or consent.

The right of parents to withdraw their children from the “sex education” parts of RSE, which the government had promised to retain, has now been removed and replaced only by a “right to request” withdrawal, with the final decision going to the headteacher. Even this much compromised parental right is withdrawn altogether when the children reaches 15, when they will be allowed to overrule their parents’, as well as their headteachers’, wishes if they choose, as they are being given the right to have sex education provided to them by the school. Moreover, it is a statutory requirement for schools “to have regard” to the final published Guidance when delivering the new subjects, which means they have to deliver the required content unless they have a “good reason” not to. The experience of a number of independent faith schools, particularly independent and Orthodox Jewish schools, who have been failed or severely penalised by OFSTED (England’s schools inspection agency)12 for not teaching LGBT issues in a satisfactory way, shows that the fact that LGBT ideology is against the tenets of the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic faith is not considered a good enough reason.

CES CONTINUES TO BACK THE GOVERNMENT OVER RSE

The CES were one of the favoured selected groups listed who had been involved in the deep consultation process with the Department for Education, though that is not to say that they necessarily agreed with all of the resultant Draft Guidance. However, their public statements so far have expressed only support for the government’s plans.

Following the publication of the Draft Regulations and Guidance in July 2018 the CES issued another press release again stating that the Catholic Church “welcomes” the government’s moves to “improve” Relationships and Sex Education, as well as how “the government had used the Catholic model curriculum as examples of best practice”. It also “welcomes” how “the recommendations are clear that the right for parents right of withdrawal [sic] will be maintained”, even though the Draft Regulations only allow parents the right to request withdrawal, with a right to refuse being given to the headteacher. It also welcomed that “schools with a religious character” will be able to deliver RSE “within the tenants [sic] of their own faith”.13However, the Children and Social Work Act (section 34:3(b)), as well as the Draft Regulations, only stipulate that “the education is appropriate having regard to the age and the religious background of the pupils”, which is open to interpretation and a much weaker requirement than such teaching needing to be in line with the “tenets” of a particular faith. A school may “have regard” for the fact that a pupil comes from a Catholic family, but still deem it necessary to teach the pupil things that do not conform to the tenets of the Catholic faith. The Draft Guidance uses similarly vague language and also adds that “schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act (2010)”. OFSTED inspections have interpreted that to mean a school must clearly teach about active homosexuality and transgenderism in a positive light, so that children who may identify themselves by one of the “protected characteristics” do not feel marginalised or discriminated against, and that children are adequately prepared for “life in modern Britain”. For instance, in May 2017 Vishnitz Girls School, an Orthodox Jewish primary school, failed its third OFSTED inspection in a year specifically because the school acknowledged that it did not teach its young children (aged 3–11) about homosexuality and transgenderism. The original report stated that “the school’s approach means that pupils are shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation. […] They acknowledge that they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics [of the Equality Act 2010], particularly those relating to gender re-assignment and sexual orientation. This means that pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.”14

Christian schools have also been targeted by OFSTED. Pupils at Grindon Hall Christian School and Durham Free School faced intrusive questioning on transsexualism, homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” by OFSTED inspectors, who then claimed that they found evidence of “homophobic behaviour” in both schools — a claim rejected by staff, pupils, and parents. Despite the outcry, The Durham Free School was closed down in April 2015 and Grindon Hall — one of the best performing schools in the North East — was rated “inadequate”, and was forced by the Department for Education to be taken over by a secular trust.15

A further public consultation (July–Nov 2018) was announced regarding the Draft Regulations and Guidance for the new subjects. However, rather than initiating a campaign to encourage Catholics, and others who attend Catholic schools, to participate in this consultation, so that protections for parents could be genuinely safeguarded, the CES had already embarked on a mini-PR campaign in support of government policy, with an article which appeared on the CES website and the Catholic press informing us that the government’s proposals were only to be welcomed, that there was nothing to worry about, that Catholic schools already do a fantastic job teaching RSE (in line with the Church’s teaching), and, falsely, that the government is committed both to allowing faith schools flexibility to teach according to the tenets of their faith, and protecting the parents’ right of withdrawal.16

Given the content of the government’s Draft RSE Guidance it is very hard to conceive of how a Catholic school can deliver the subjects in a way which “has regard to the Statutory Guidance” whilst still in conformity with the tenets of the Catholic faith. The CES’s current “model policy for RSE”, which the CES boasts has been praised by the Department for Education, features an uncomfortable mix of Catholic teaching with elements of the statutory SRE Guidance (2000) and contemporary secular sex education programmes shoehorned into it. So at Key Stage 1 (ages 5–7) children are to be taught to “identify and correctly name their ‘private parts’”; and at KS 2 (ages 7–11) they are taught “that similarities and differences between people arise from several different factors (see protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, part 2, ch. 1, sections 4-12)”. In other words, they are taught about “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” (LGBT issues).17

The ambiguity of elements of the policy at the very least allow scope for teaching which is not in accordance with the faith. For example, the RSE secondary school policy stipulates teaching children about “recognising and valuing their own sexual identity and that of others”, or to “ensure RSE is sensitive to the different needs of individual pupils in respect to […] their own sexual orientation”.18 This is especially the case when we have had the scandal of homosexual lobby-group Stonewall being invited into Catholic schools and colleges to train teachers on how to deal with “homophobic bullying”.19

Although the model RSE policy stresses that “teachers will be expected to teach RSE in accordance with the Catholic Ethos of the school”,20 and the CES proclaims its confidence that authentic Catholic RSE is and will continue to be taught in Catholic schools, even after 2020; it is not clear, judging by some of the recent publications of the CES, that the CES has the same idea as many Catholic parents, or the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church, about what exactly the “tenets” of the Catholic faith are when it comes to human sexuality and the teaching of RSE.

BISHOPS AND CES PROMOTE LGBT IDEOLOGY IN SCHOOLS

An RSE guide for Catholic educators published by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in 2017, entitled Learning to Love, declares its admiration for Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, as “an inspirational document, rich with insights and fresh descriptions of the Church’s teaching on this vital subject”.21 On the subject of homosexuality, the Bishops’ Learning to Love offers its own “fresh description” of the Church’s teaching:

Here we would like to emphasise that this exalted form of love exists just as powerfully in relationships between people of the same sex as it does in heterosexual relationships. We applaud the great progress that has been made in countering all forms of discrimination against homosexuality in recent times, and wish to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete. (p.17)

Note that we are now talking about “discrimination against homosexuality” as something that should be countered, as opposed to “unjust discrimination” against homosexual persons as the Catechism states (2358). “Homosexuality” itself has now been transformed from an “inclination, which is objectively disordered” to what can be an “exalted form of love”; and what does it mean “to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete”? To actively promote the LGBT and Pride agenda? To shut down freedom of speech on the issue and persecute Christians and others who try to speak the truth about homosexuality?

An even more pernicious document is Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools, a joint publication by the CES and St Mary’s University, Twickenham — first published in 2017 and which has even been given a second edition, without any major alterations, despite its deep and scandalous conflicts with the Church’s teaching being widely pointed out by commentators.22

Under the guise of “guidance” for the “pastoral care of pupils”, Made in God’s Image is designed to intimidate Catholic schools into introducing a concerted LGBT indoctrination programme for children, in the form of an eight-lesson scheme of work. The sum of the message that children will take away from this is that being “lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” is part of their God-given purpose and identity, an integral part of being Made in God’s image, something that must be celebrated, and that any true Catholic should act to report and help robustly stamp out any sign or attitudes of disapproval. An example from the introduction illustrates the strategy being taken:

The Church teaches that homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). The School should be mindful that the Church teaches that homosexual inclinations are not sinful. For older pupils who may publicly identify themselves as such, Church schools should be havens of respect and custodians of the true dignity of each human being. They should be as attentive to the possibility of homosexual pupils being marginalized and bullied as they are to discrimination based on religion, gender, race or disability.23

Although the Church does indeed teach that involuntarily experiencing same-sex attraction is not itself a sin, the Catechism also adds that the inclination itself is “objectively disordered” (2358), and that authoritative Catholic teaching has also always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”, “basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” (2357). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has instructed bishops that “although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”24 There is no mention of this in the document, or indeed any mention whatsoever of Catholic doctrine on marriage, or any attempt to present the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality between man and woman. Indeed the only thing presented as sinful (although it does not directly employ the term “sin”) is the new sin of “homophobia” which “should have no place among Catholics. Catholic teaching on homosexuality is not founded on, and can never be used to justify homophobic attitudes”. In one of the word games that children are encouraged to play “homophobia” is defined as:

A range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs. (p.16)

Notice again how, as with Learning to Love, it is negative attitudes towards “homosexuality”, and not just “homosexual persons”, that is condemned here. And “homosexuality”, according to the Catechism at least, refers to “relations” between same-sex attracted men or women, including “homosexual acts”. Conveniently, if not outrageously, the actual word of God on the subject of homosexuality is never quoted or referred to.

It is undeniable that a deliberately misleading sleight of hand is in play throughout, with the document’s omissions and selective quotations from both Catholic documents and the Bible. That such a secular and distorted presentation of human sexuality, saturated with LGBT ideology, is being presented to children is hardly surprising when, as has been widely pointed out on Catholic blogs and by at least one English bishop, much of the material has been lifted directly from pre-existing propaganda programmes from Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland.25

Chillingly, Made in God’s Image even offers lesson material which encourages children to judge and challenge their own parents’ and families’ attitudes, based on provided examples of expressions of “homophobia”, including typical comments made whilst watching television programmes. It is ironic that a document purported to be concerned with “anti-bullying” engages in a highly pernicious form of bullying against faithful Catholic children and their parents by labelling them “homophobes” and “bigots”.

The pro-LGBT Made in God’s Image programme is said to have been prompted by a survey conducted by the CES on “homophobic” bullying in Catholic schools. However, the small print reveals that only 12 per cent of Catholic schools responded to this survey — the whole justification of this programme therefore being based on completely unrepresentative data (p. 31). Catholic headteachers would have been rightly reluctant to respond as the survey itself was ideologically loaded and intimidating (employing the un-qualified terms “homophobic” and “transphobic” throughout), with questions posed in a way that would make it very difficult for a faithful Catholic to respond, without compromising Christian truths on issues of sexuality.

WHERE ARE WE HEADING?

So where does this all leave us for the future if this agenda remains unchallenged? Scotland and Wales already show where the direction of travel is going in the immediate future. As a statutory part of Wales’s new curriculum which will be in place from 2022, the Welsh government announced that it is introducing “LGBTQI+ -inclusive Relationships and Sexuality Education” for all learners aged 5–16. Kirsty Williams, Welsh Education Secretary, has stated: “The days of traditional sex education are long gone; the world has moved on and our curriculum must move with it. […] Of course, thirty years on from the introduction of Section 28, we will also ensure that RSE is fully inclusive of all genders and sexualities and meets the needs of LGBTQI+ learners.”26

The Welsh government is adopting the recommendations of a specially commissioned report on the future of SRE in Wales produced by an “SRE Expert Panel”, headed by Prof. Emma Renold of Cardiff University, a sociologist whose research on child sexuality, as her university profile informs us, is characterised by “feminist, queer and post-humanist approaches”. Neither the Catholic Church, nor any other faith groups, were represented in the “expert panel” — no doubt they were not invited to be. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued no response to what is an all out assault on the childhoods of all Welsh children, including those of Catholic families.

“Post-humanism”, by the way, is one of the latest pseudo-intellectual fads of western academia. In the same way that “gender” and “sexuality” are regarded as mere social constructs, and therefore open to deconstruction, so now too is the very notion of what it is to be a “human being”. The “natural” distinctions between human, animal and machine are also regarded as arbitrary boundaries to be explored, redefined and transgressed. It should not be too hard to envisage the even more disturbing future of “sexuality” once such last remaining taboos have also been removed.

The Scottish government has so far gone the furthest in Britain along this trajectory, having proudly announced recently that Scotland will become “the first country in the world to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) inclusive education embedded in the [whole] curriculum” — not just in relationships and sex education.27 Naturally if ideological indoctrination is to be truly effective then thought must be controlled at all times, and not just within the confines of certain lessons. Unbelievably this development was also “welcomed” by Scottish Bishops, who added that they hope the “impact of these recommendations will be positive for all.”

So how should parents respond in the face of this situation? For times like this God tells us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rm. 12:12). We should hold on more strongly than ever to the fact that God Himself has still ordained us to be the primary educators of our children, a right which as Pope John Paul II reminds us “is irreplaceable and inalienable”; that the right of parents to bring up their children to know, love and serve Him is His holy will. Scripture tells us to “be strong and courageous”, to “not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Rm. 5:20), and we are now seeing encouraging signs of a strong and powerful parents’ rights movement rapidly rising up to confront what Church officials have been unwilling to confront.

This is an issue which unites many people of different faiths and none. For instance, a Parliamentary petition concerning the parental right of withdrawal from RSE recently gained in excess of 100,000 signatories, which resulted in a Parliamentary debate on the petition in February 2019. Many Muslim parents, in particular, have provided an example of peaceful, but vocal and resilient parent power, with hundreds of parents witnessing weekly outside Parkfields Primary School, Birmingham, where their children were being subjected to an LGBT propaganda programme called “No Outsiders”.

This is a time for faith, not fear or compromise. In that spirit SPUC Safe at School has recently launched a major campaign in defence of the parental right to withdraw their children from Relationships and Sex Education and it has already gained tremendous support from parents from different backgrounds and communities. To find out how you can become involved visit: www.spuc.org.uk/rsebriefing

Dr Tom Rogers is the SPUC Education Manager. He has been working full-time for the pro-life cause since 2016. An academic and educationalist, he previously lectured in English literature at University, and has also taught in the secondary and further education sectors. He is the author of God of Rescue: John Berryman & Christianity (2011). He is married with two children.

This article was originally published in Calx Mariae, Voice of the Family’s quarterly magazine. To order copies or subscribe, please visit this website.

ENDNOTES:

  1. John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, 22 Nov 1981, 36.
  2. Charter of the Rights of the Family, presented by the Holy See, 22 Oct 1983, Article 5.
  3. Familiaris consortio, 37.
  4. Familiaris consortio, 37; Charter of the Rights of the Family, Article 5, c.
  5. Diane Montagna, “Pope Francis: ‘We must provide sex education in schools’”, LifeSiteNews, January 28 2019; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-we-must-provide-sex-education-in-schools
  6. Rick Fitzgibbons MD, “Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years”, LifeSiteNews, 2 September 2016; https://www. lifesitenews.com/opinion/exclusive-the-new-threat-to-catholic-youth-the-meeting-point
  7. For instance, Nick Gibb MP, stated in response to a Parliamentary question (3 July 2017) that “we expect schools to ensure that all pupils, whatever their developing sexuality or gender identity, feel that relationships and sex education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. As part of our engagement programme, we will consider ways to ensure that our guidance and regulations are inclusive of LGBT issues. We plan to work closely with organisations such as Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust, amongst others.” Prime Minister Teresa May affirmed her support for ‘LGBT inclusive’ RSE in English schools in her speech at the Pink News LGBT Awards 2017.
  8. Department for Education, “Policy Statement: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education”, March 2017, (p.1).
  9. The then Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, made these comments and admissions over two interviews with Jon Snow (Channel 4 News) and Jeremy Paxman (BBC 2 Newsnight) on the evening of 23 January 2007. See also “Birmingham Archbishop: ‘Oh by the way,’ Britain’s Catholic Adoption Agencies Already Adopt to Gay Singles”, LifeSiteNews, 29 Jan 2007; https://www. lifesitenews.com/news/birmingham-archbishop-oh-by-the-way-britains-catholic-adoption-agencies-alr; “UK Catholic Bishops Compromise on Gay Adoption Leads to Charges of Hypocrisy”, LifesiteNews, 23 March 2007; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-catholic-bishops-compromise-on-gay-adoption-leads-to-charges-of-hypocris
  10. Only Leeds-based Catholic Care in the diocese of Lancaster continued until forced to shut down. See Hilary White, “UK Catholic Church Agency to Cease Adoption Work As government Forces Homosexual Adoption”, LifeSiteNews,July27,2007; https://www.lifesitenews. com/news/uk-catholic-church-agency-to-cease-adoption-work-as-government-forces-homos
  11. See learning outcomes on pp.16-17 in Department for Education, “Draft Statutory Guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education”, July 2018; https://consult.education.gov.uk/pshe/relationships-education-rse-health-education/
  12. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament.
  13. Catholic Education Service, “Catholic Church welcomes move to improve Relationship and Sex Education in all schools”, Press release, 19 July 2018: http://catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003657-catholic-church-welcomes-move-to-improve-relationship-and-sex-education-in-all-schools
  14. OFSTED, “Vishnitz Girls School: School Progress Monitoring Inspection Report”, 10 May 2017 (ref. 138516). Note, following the justifiably negative publicity on publication of this report, OFSTED subsequently replaced the original report with a redacted version (ref. 138515_5) on its website — one which had removed any direct references to ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender reassignment’, hence attempting to conceal the real reason why the school was failed.
  15. For a summary and further details of these and similar cases, see The Christian Institute, “OFSTED and ‘British Values’”, June 2017; available online at: https://www. christian.org.uk/resource/ofsted-british-values/
  16. Catherine Bryan, “Why Relationship and Sex Education is a must for all Catholic schools” [online article], Catholic Education Service, 20 June 2018; http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003652-why-relationship-and-sex-education-is-a-must-for-all-catholic-schools. The same article also appeared in “The Catholic Times”, 15 June 2018, (p.28).
  17. See learning outcomes 1.2.4.4 (p.7) and 2.1.3.4 (p.4) in Catholic Education Service, “A model Catholic Primary RSE curriculum”, Autumn 2016; http:/catholiceducation. org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education
  18. Catholic Education Service, “A model Catholic Secondary RSE curriculum”, Autumn 2016 (pp.3-4); http://catholiceducation.org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education
  19. For instance, it was reported that St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Wimbledon invited Stonewall to train staff on homophobic bullying “in order to comply with OFSTED requirements”, and subsequently became a Stonewall “Primary School Champion”. “Gay rights group called in to advise primary teachers”, Evening Standard, 15 May 2013; https:/www.standard.co.uk/news/education/gay-rights-group-called-in-to-advise-primary-teachers-8616681. html. It has also been reported that students training to be teachers were subjected to a Stonewall-run session on ‘homophobic bullying’ at the Catholic St Mary University, Twickenham; https://spuc-director.blogspot. com/2013/06/stonewall-scandal-at-catholic.html
  20. CES, “Model Catholic Secondary RSE curriculum”, 2016 (p.7).
  21. Learning to Love: An Introduction to Catholic Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) for Catholic Educators” (2017), Department of Catholic Education and Formation and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; https://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/images/ Learning2love.pdf.pdf
  22. Catholic Education Service, “Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools”, 2018 edn; http://catholiceducation.org.uk/ images/CES-Project_Homophobic-Bullying-Booklet_ JUN18_PROOF-9.pdf. For comment see, for instance, Deacon Nick Donnelly, “UK bishops’ group pushing radical LGBT propaganda in Catholic schools”, LifeSiteNews, 18 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/ uk-bishops-group-pushes-radical-lgbt-materials-in-catholic-schools. Also, Bishop Egan of Portsmouth has commented on the ‘ideological colonisation’ at work in our schools, including the influence of Stonewall and LGBT Youth on the CES’s “Made in God’s Image” document. Deacon Nick Donnelly, “Interview: UK bishop questions LGBT involvement in Catholic schools’ sexed program”, LifesiteNews, 22 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews. com/news/interview-english-bishop-questions-lgbt-involvement-in-catholic-schools-sex
  23. CES, “Made in God’s Image” (2018), section 2, (p.5).
  24. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (signed by Cardinal Ratzinger), “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Persons”, 1 October 1986; http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_ cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html
  25. As pointed out, for instance, in three 2017 blog posts by the “Counter Cultural Father”: https://ccfather.blogspot. com/search?q=Made+in+God%27s+Image; See also Bishop Egan’s comments in an interview in LifesiteNews, 22 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/interview-english-bishop-questions-lgbt-involvement-in-catholic-schools-sex
  26. Welsh government, “Kirsty Williams announces focus on healthy relationships in major reforms to ‘Relationships and Sexuality’ education”, Press release, 22 May 2018; https://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2018/ kirsty-williams-announces-focus-on-healthy-relationships-in-major-reforms-to-relationships-and-sexuality-education/?lang=en
  27. Scottish government, “LGBTI education: Scotland will lead the way in inclusive education”, Press release 8 Nov 2018; https://www.gov.scot/news/lgbti-education/

The Disturbing Connection Between Your Birth Control and Vision Problems

https://naturalwomanhood.org/the-disturbing-connection-between-your-birth-control-and-vision-problems-031319/?fbclid=IwAR2z93daJxeqTHI31bppK9qM6x2PrCXGnP_Bef0-Xr30pwEbuUy4MOBjVP8

Pseudotumor cerebri. Intracranial hypertension. “False brain tumor.”

All of these terms mean the same thing, and each one can lead to the same thing for anyone afflicted with it: progressive, and potentially permanent, blindness.

Natural Womanhood, Fertility Awareness Based Methods, Natural Family Planning, NFP, FABM, FAM, birth control side effects, womens health, reproductive health, fertility awareness, birth control causes vision problems, birth control causes blindness, birth control causes intracranial hypertension, intracranial hypertension, mirena causes intracranial hypertension, Mirena side effects, fake brain tumor, Mirena lawsuits

And according to multiple class action lawsuits, and backed up by research, intracranial hypertension (ICH) is also a rare, albeit extremely serious potential risk from intrauterine levonorgestrel, a synthetic progestogen widely distributed in the Mirena IUD (although other contraceptive formulations containing levonorgestrel, including Plan B—may also carry the same risk to varying degrees).

Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) literally translates to “false brain tumor,” and the term is used to describe increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure within the skull precisely because the symptoms it produces are highly similar to those caused by brain tumors—although, in cases of PTCthere is no actual tumor present. Just as someone with a brain tumor might experience changes or loss in vision, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and tinnitus among other symptoms, so too will someone with PTC be affected by these debilitating symptoms. In particular, the increased CSF pressure within the skull causes swelling of the optic nerve, which can cause changes and/or loss in vision, which may be permanent.

For many, the exact cause of PTC is unknown. Women, and particularly obese women, seem to have a higher risk of developing the condition, and pregnancy, thyroid conditions, and chronic kidney failure may all further exacerbate one’s risk. If the cause of PTC cannot be determined, it will be termed “idiopathic.” But for far too many women, the cause may be linked to their choice in contraceptive.

And although researchers have known for more than two decades that other levonorgestrel-releasing contraceptives (like the Norplant) have been linked with PTC, it is a complication that many women have suffered from—and a risk many claim was downplayed or unmentioned by their doctors and the drugs’ pharmaceutical companies alike.

This is sadly unsurprising news, given the conclusion of a recent study reviewing the number of Mirena-associated intracranial hypertension cases reported to the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS). Although researchers discovered “a higher than expected number of reports of ICH with Mirena in the FAERS database,” they nevertheless concluded that “the small risk of ICH may outweigh the risk of unintended pregnancies.”

Safer Family-Planning Options for Women

What I wish these researchers would acknowledge—and even more so, what I wish the women whose vision may be permanently damaged because of their choice in contraceptives knew—is that there is a better way for women to plan their families that involves absolutely no risk of PTC or its associated symptoms.

While long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and implants may be among some of the most effective methods on the market at preventing pregnancy, modern methods of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM) and Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be just as effective at preventing pregnancy (depending on the method), and carry none of the debilitating, dangerous, or permanent risks of LARCs. And, although most women with an IUD will never experience PTC, wouldn’t it be better if doctors and pharmaceutical companies were open and honest about the very real risks presented by the various types of birth control, and knowledgeable about the many risk-free alternatives?

Recently, many women have reported that they felt unheard by their healthcare providers when they brought up concerns of birth control side effects. Which is why some OBGYNs have begun offering information on fertility awareness-based methods in their practices to give women a full range of options for them to choose from.

Unfortunately, there is very little money to be made by the medical establishment from FABM and NFP, especially when compared to all of the pharmaceutical options. So until more in the medical community embrace the science and research on fertility charting, women will have to be their own healthcare advocates and learn more about natural options of family planning. We always recommend that, if women are seeking FABM for pregnancy prevention, she should reach out to a certified FABM instructor to benefit from the highest effectiveness rates.

Many women who have made the switch from pharmaceutical birth control to natural family planning report that they couldn’t feel more empowered to know they have more awareness of what is going on in their bodies. They can also have the confidence of knowing they aren’t exposing themselves to drugs that could hurt them.

US bishop: Why we teach couples to reject contraception and embrace natural family planning

April 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Marriage and family provide the foundation for Christian society, Bishop Joseph Strickland said in an interview. And there’s so much broken about that foundation, he said, as well as in the Church and the world today, that it’s imperative to help young couples who are seeking marriage with a strong formation in the Catholic faith – including teaching them about why contraception is morally wrong.

The Tyler, Texas bishop spoke with LifeSiteNews (read full interview below or click here) about his call as a bishop to teach the Catholic faith and a bold initiative to do so in his diocese wrapping up its second year. Strickland released the Constitution on Teaching in May 2017 and also established the Saint Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization, tasked with teaching the Catholic faith in his diocese.

The comprehensive plan to evangelize his flock includes a year of marriage formation that incorporates natural family planning and the Church’s teaching that Catholics are called to be open to life in marriage, embracing Pope St. Paul VI’s document Humanae Vitae. The truth of Church teaching is so profound, he said, that even though it’s not had acceptance in the last 50 years by many Catholics, it’s begun to resonate in and outside the Church.

“And with the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, we’ve focused on in the diocese that this is a truth that the Church has been teaching for those 50 years.”

The Church teaches in the 1968 encyclical that using contraception is always and in every case wrong. “Each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life,” states the document. According to this teaching, contraception blocks the marital act from its God-given procreative purpose, contradicting the husband and wife’s promise to give themselves to each other, totally and unreservedly — where nothing must be held back, including one’s own fertility.

The document has been largely ignored by the faithful, said Strickland,  by priests and even by bishops. Strickland told LifeSiteNews he had to admit, while he’s always believed what the Church said, that as a parish priest for many years, he also didn’t focus on it that much, because it really wasn’t very popular to focus on.

In Humanae Vitae Paul VI foretold various social ills that would befall the culture, such as marital infidelity, a general lowering of morality, growing disrespect for women and population control.

“If you read Humanae Vitae,” Strickland said, “Pope St. Pope Paul VI, in #14 of Humanae Vitae, he basically is prophetic and he lays out – This is where we’re headed if we ignore God’s plan for a married couple, open to life and not using contraception.”

“And I think we’ve ended up exactly where his prophetic prediction said we would end up,” continued Strickland. “So with all of that being realized, I felt that we need to start at the very foundation of the Christian community, which is marriage, and then the families that are formed on a solid marriage. “

Natural family planning, which respects the natural rhythms inherent in the human body, is part of this, he said.

Strickland, who has become noted for verbalizing the Church’s teaching on subjects such as sexual morality and abortion, discussed a number of things in the interview, speaking candidly about contraception.

He emphasizes that in speaking out about Church teaching he is doing his job as a bishop, and in most cases he is addressing his local flock in northeast Texas. But because it is relatively uncommon for a bishop to speak out, he’s come to stand out.

He tells LifeSiteNews that the Church’s teaching isn’t his truth; it’s Christ’s truth. And he’ll vocalize it as long as he’s a bishop. The fact it seems remarkable, he said, shows how secular society has become.

“Sadly, after 50 years of Humanae Vitae, it’s somewhat revolutionary to do what we’re doing,” Strickland told LifeSiteNews, “but it’s in line with what the Church has continued to teach for these 50 years. It’s been the official teaching. It’s been not emphasized that much.”

While it may be possible to overemphasize it, he says, he thinks it is very significant, because society’s problems today stem from disobedience to God, and contraception has become entrenched in the culture, including with Catholics.

“I guess the way I would put it is, everything traces back to ills of our society,” said Strickland, “which has been the case since Adam and Eve, it traces back to disobedience to God’s plan and to God’s will.”

“And so the contraceptive mentality that is very much in the Catholic community, and certainly in the non-Catholic, or even just humanity, contraception is accepted as something that is smart to use,” he said. “And it’s like you’re strange or you’re delusional if you’re not using contraception.”

“So it’s kind of a revolutionary idea,” he added, “but it is the teaching of the Church and I think there’s tremendous wisdom there.”

Strickland said there’s a real desire there on the part of many couples to learn NFP, especially after it’s really explained to them what God’s plan is and how natural family planning can be used properly.

This is true even in his area of Texas, he said, where less than 10 percent of the population in the geographical area of the diocese is Catholic.

“We’re finding more and more non-Catholics who are saying, ‘Hey, I think the Catholic Church has something here that we need to pay attention to,’” said Strickland.

“Because really, the Catholic Church — even as eroded as it is as far as Catholic practice — continues to teach that contraception is not morally acceptable,” Strickland said. “And we’re the only church that even attempts to teach that, and many of the non-Catholics individually are saying, we want to learn more about this because we think the Catholic Church is on to the truth of God’s plan.”

Strickland’s Constitution on Teaching can be accessed here.

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BENEDICT AND THE SCANDAL

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Writing nearly half a century ago (1970), the Italian Catholic philosopher Augusto Del Noce noted that

I often find myself envying unbelievers: Does not contemporary history provide abundant evidence that Catholics are a mentally inferior species? Their rush to conform to the opinion about Catholicism held by rationalist secularists is stunning.

Those words from his essay “The Ascendance of Eroticism” open Del Noce’s brilliant reflections—part analysis, part prophecy—on Europe’s then-current sexual revolution. At a time when a young priest named Joseph Ratzinger was predicting a smaller, more hard-pressed, but purer Church of the future in his 1969–70 German and Vatican radio interviews, Del Noce was explaining how it would happen. He foresaw that “the decisive battle against Christianity [can] be fought only at the level of the sexual revolution. And therefore the problem of sexuality and eroticism is today the fundamental problem from the moral point of view.”

History has proven him right, and for obvious reasons. Sex is both a powerful bond and a fierce corrosive, which is why, historically, nearly all human cultures have surrounded it with taboos that order its harmonious integration into daily life. The naive eagerness—“stupidity” would not be too strong a word for Del Noce’s purposes—of many mid-century Church progressives in accepting, or at least accommodating, sexual license as a form of human liberation, spearheaded the intellectual collapse of an entire generation of Catholic moral theology. Since the 1960s, license has morphed into widespread sexual and social dysfunction, conflict, and suffering—also foreseen by Del Noce.

Unfortunately, the lessons of the ’60s are steadfastly ignored today by much of the Church’s own intellectual class: Simply put, sex is tied intimately to anthropology, to human self-understanding and the purpose of the body. Thus, for the Church to remain the Church, there can be no concordat with behaviors fundamentally at odds with the Word of God and the Christian understanding of the human person as imago Dei. All such attempts lead inevitably to what Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI, pope emeritus) once called silent apostasy. The current situation with Germany’s bishops’ conference comes to mind; but the problem is wider than a single local Church.

In his April 10 essay “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse,” a much older Joseph Ratzinger looks at the abuse phenomenon through the lens of his own life experience, dividing his text into three parts: origins of the crisis, initial Church responses, and what now needs to be done to heal Catholic life. The essay lacks some of the rigor of his earlier formal writings, and it will not satisfy those critics who see John Paul II and Benedict as slow in addressing the scale and gravity of the problem, but his words are nonetheless as clear and penetrating as ever.

Like the laypeople they serve and lead, priests are shaped by the culture from which they emerge. They should be held, rightly, to a higher standard because of their calling. But priests and bishops have no miraculous immunity to the abnormality bubbling around them. Ratzinger locates the seed of the current crisis in the deliberate turn toward sexual anarchy that marked much of Europe in the 1960s, and the complete failure of Catholic moral theologians to counter it—a failure that more often resembled fellow-traveling. He also notes, as did Del Noce, the dirty little secret of the sexual revolution: Relaxing sexual norms does not reduce an appetite for violence, including sexual violence. It does exactly the opposite.

Ratzinger acknowledges that “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” He also notes a problem that infected leadership: “Above all, a criterion for the appointment of new bishops [became] now their ‘conciliarity,’ which of course could be understood to mean rather different things.”

Ratzinger seeks to explain the initially slow and inadequate Church response to the abuse problem. He correctly saw the abuse issue as a crisis impacting the integrity of the faith and not merely as a legal matter grounded in the rights of accused clergy. Thus he successfully forced the transfer of abuse cases from Congregation of the Clergy jurisdiction to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where dealing with cases could be expedited. But even there, the scope of the problem proved larger than anyone anticipated. He remains silent on what many see as the continuing resistance of Rome to candidly name the core issue of the clergy abuse problem, which is not primarily a matter of clerical privilege but rather a pattern of predatory homosexuality.

Throughout his brief text, Ratzinger has moments of insight and genius that fall like rain in a desert, especially today. As in: “There are values which must never be abandoned for a greater value and even surpass the preservation of physical life. There is martyrdom. God is [about] more than physical survival. A life that would be bought by the denial of God, a life that is based on a final lie, is a non-life.” And: “A world without God can only be a world without meaning.” And: “A paramount task, which must result from the upheavals of our time, is that we ourselves once again begin to live by God and unto him.

The words of the pope emeritus are especially piercing when he speaks of the many contemporary Catholics who treat the Eucharist—the Real Presence of God in our midst; the source and summit of Christian life—as “a mere ceremonial gesture . . . that destroys the greatness of the Mystery.” Or when he notes that the Church today “is widely regarded as just some kind of political apparatus,” and even many bishops “formulate their conception of the Church of tomorrow almost exclusively in political terms.” And finally this:

Today the accusation against God is, above all, about characterizing his Church as entirely bad, and thus dissuading us from it. The idea of a better Church, created by ourselves, is in fact a proposal of the devil, with which he wants to lead us away from the living God through a deceitful logic by which we are too easily duped. No, even today, the Church is not just made up of bad fish and weeds. The Church of God also exists today, and today it is the very instrument through which God saves us . . .

Today’s Church is more than ever a Church of the Martyrs, and thus a witness to the living God. If we look around and listen with an attentive heart, we can find witnesses everywhere today, especially among ordinary people, but also in the high ranks of the Church, who stand up for God with their life and suffering. It is an inertia of the heart that leads us to not wish to recognize them. One of the great and essential tasks of our evangelization is, as far as we can, to establish habitats of faith and, above all, to find and recognize them.

Amen. Not much more need be said.

Toward the end of his own 1970 essay, Augusto Del Noce noted that “an enormous cultural revision will be necessary in order to really leave behind the philosophical processes that have found expression in today’s sexual revolution.” The bad news is that too many of today’s Catholics seem to lack the will and ability to pursue that task. The good news is that some of our leaders still have the courage to speak the truth.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop of Philadelphia.

Ohio passes ban on aborting babies with beating hearts, governor to sign

COLUMBUS, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio legislation to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected is finally becoming law Thursday, after a lengthy battle last year came up one vote short of overcoming a veto by the state’s previous governor.

Senate Bill 23 would ban aborting any baby once a heartbeat can be detected (around 6-8 weeks), except in cases of a physical threat to the mother. Violating physicians would face up to a year in prison and suspension or revocation of their medical licenses (with medical board fines going to finance foster and adoption services). Women would also be able to sue abortionists for wrongful death.

The legislation passed the state Senate in March, and passed the state House Tuesday on a 56-40 vote, Cleveland.com reports.

“Today is a historic day. The legislature and Governor DeWine have declared that no longer should the beating hearts of humans too young to be born be violently torn apart by abortion,” Mark Harrington, president of the pro-life group Created Equal, said in a statement. “If pro-abortion lobbies present a legal challenge to this Act, we will defend these babies all the way up to the Supreme Court. Changes on the bench signify an even better day for preborn babies may be on the horizon.”

Democrat state Rep. Beth Liston, who is a physician and a professor at Ohio State University, denied that preborn babies are alive by week 12. “Simply put, you need lungs and a brain in order to live,” she claimed. “And there’s no science or technology that we have that can replace that need.” In fact, settled biological criteria and numerous medical textbooks establish (and various abortionists admit) that a living human being is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy.

As protesters loudly gathered outside the chamber, Democrats tried and failed to add multiple amendments to the bill, including rape and incest exceptions and a proposalby state Rep. Janine Boyd to specifically exempt black women from the ban, ensuring black babies would still be legally killable.

The legislature passed a nearly-identical heartbeat ban last year, but came one vote short of overriding a veto by former moderate Republican Gov. John Kasich, who claimed it was “contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion” and therefore wouldn’t be worth the cost of a drawn-out legal battle. This time around, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has vowed to “absolutely” sign it into law.

Numerous states have introduced or enacted heartbeat bills over the past several months. They ban abortion much earlier than the “viability” standard set by Roe v. Wade, which some cite to claim the bills would waste time and money on a doomed legal battle. But supporters argue that most state pro-life measures get sued anyway, and that the heartbeat ban will force a Supreme Court review that could finally overturn the 1973 ruling.

“Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, we’re counting on it,” Republican state Rep. Ron Hood said. “We’re excited about it. Because this will be the law that ultimately reverses Roe v. Wade. Or there is several things they could do. They could hand it down to the states.”

Catholic hospital: We may refer pre-teens for IUDs without parental notice

Students for Life reports that due to the proposal of a school-based health center, public high school and middle school students at Sedro-Woolley High School and nearby middle school in Washington state may have IUDs inserted without their parent’s knowledge.

Initially, the proposal included referring students to Planned Parenthood for abortions. After strong objections from the community, PeaceHealth, a Catholic hospital that would conduct the proposed health center, decided not to refer minors to Planned Parenthood for abortion.

As Students for Life recently reported, a spokesperson for PeaceHealth said, “Our providers are empowered to discuss options with patients, including abortion; however, they can not give referrals.” However, girls as young as 13 could receive a referral for an IUD at PeaceHealth or another medical clinic without their parents finding out. The spokesperson clarified that IUDs would not be inserted in the school health center, but added, “if, within the context of the confidential patient/provider relationship, it is decided that an IUD is medically necessary, a PeaceHealth provider can insert an IUD.”

IUDs can have severe, sometimes life-threatening, complications if they migrate. Women are sharing their stories of complications they experienced with IUDs that are not often discussed. Many women who experienced complications said they were not informed about the severity of the potential issues. Minors receiving an IUD without their parent’s knowledge are taking on risks without guidance from an adult, and if complications do occur, those minors and their parents could face significant costs.

According to local news, Christina Jepperson, Sedro-Wooley High School Board President, insisted, “This isn’t going to be a condom clinic.” Trying to assuage parent’s fears, she said, “This really is primary care services. This isn’t any different than if you would go see your primary care or family doctor for.” However, Washington state law allows minor over the age of 13 to request confidential medical services, including getting IUDs and undergoing abortions. By placing a health center in the school that can give minors access to dangerous and abortifacient contraceptive devices, many parents still have valid concerns about the proposal.

Katie Lodjic, Washington Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America and a Sedro-Woolley High School alumna said, “Healthcare corporations like PeaceHealth should not be allowed to circumvent parents by inserting IUDs into minor girls without their parents’ knowledge. Parents deserve to be involved in the medical decisions of their minor children but the school board plan would undermine parental rights.”

Progressive writers are starting to admit the sexual revolution was a failure

In the Guardian, Yvonne Roberts writes about how grim the sexual revolution was. She was there, and describes the sexual permissiveness not as something liberating but something monstrous dressed up as “peace and love.” It was a dystopia that gave rise to a rape culture. But today she notes the marked decrease in sexual activity among young people. Porn is ubiquitous, and addictive, and exemplifies the Final End of the sexual revolution. Loveless, abusive, soul-destroying. We reached peak sex, and it wasn’t even good. She asks:

“Are we satiated? As a commodity, is junk sex now on the wane, just like shopping on the high street? Are the young beginning to recalibrate sex and also understand its invaluable connection with intimacy, social skills, self-awareness and mutual self-respect?”

Oddly, in a progressive culture which despises priestly celibacy, which is voluntary, some progressive writers are now willing to admit that the sexual revolution was a dystopic failure and that the rise of involuntary celibacy is “a sign of progress.”

That’s quite the admission. I wonder if they might actually arrive at a better view altogether. Sex is sacred. It is an earthly union which cooperates in the divine act of creating immortal beings. It belongs in the the temple of marriage alone, and nowhere else. Sex isn’t for selling, it’s for creating.

Men and women who give up this great good, this urge of our nature, should only do so for a much greater good: the salvation of souls. But most of us should not give up on sex. We should start trying to understand what it really is, and where it belongs.

‘As a bishop, it is my duty to warn the West’

An interview with Cardinal Sarah

The Vatican cardinal discusses his hard-hitting new book in this exclusive interview with La Nef

Cardinal Robert Sarah is publishing the third of his book-length interviews with Nicolas Diat: The Day is Far Spent. An unflinching diagnosis, but one full of hope in the midst of the spiritual and moral crisis of the West.

1) In the first part of your book, you describe “a spiritual and religious collapse.” How does this collapse manifest itself? Does it only affect the West or are other regions of the world, such as Africa, also affected by it?

The spiritual crisis involves the entire world. But its source is in Europe. People in the West are guilty of rejecting God. They have not only rejected God. Friedrich Nietzsche, who may be considered the spokesman of the West, has claimed: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him…” We have murdered God. In view of God’s death among men, Nietzsche would replace him with a prophetic “Superman.”

The spiritual collapse thus has a very Western character. In particular, I would like to emphasize the rejection of fatherhood. Our contemporaries are convinced that, in order to be free, one must not depend on anybody. There is a tragic error in this. Western people are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of human persons. But civilized man is fundamentally an heir, he receives a history, a culture, a language, a name, a family. This is what distinguishes him from the barbarian. To refuse to be inscribed within a network of dependence, heritage, and filiation condemns us to go back naked into the jungle of a competitive economy left to its own devices. Because he refuses to acknowledge himself as an heir, man is condemned to the hell of liberal globalization in which individual interests confront one another without any law to govern them besides profit at any price.

In this book, however, I want to suggest to Western people that the real cause of this refusal to claim their inheritance and this refusal of fatherhood is the rejection of God. From Him we receive our nature as man and woman. This is intolerable to modern minds. Gender ideology is a Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God. Thus some rebel against God and pointlessly mutilate themselves in order to change their sex. But in reality they do not fundamentally change anything of their structure as man or woman. The West refuses to receive, and will accept only what it constructs for itself. Transhumanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement. Because it is a gift from God, human nature itself becomes unbearable for western man.

This revolt is spiritual at root. It is the revolt of Satan against the gift of grace. Fundamentally, I believe that Western man refuses to be saved by God’s mercy. He refuses to receive salvation, wanting to build it for himself. The “fundamental values” promoted by the UN are based on a rejection of God that I compare with the rich young man in the Gospel. God has looked upon the West and has loved it because it has done wonderful things. He invited it to go further, but the West turned back. It preferred the kind of riches that it owed only to itself.

Africa and Asia are not yet entirely contaminated by gender ideology, transhumanism, or the hatred of fatherhood. But the Western powers’ neo-colonialist spirit and will to dominate pressures countries to adopt these deadly ideologies.

2) You write that “Christ never promised his faithful that they would be in the majority” (pg. 34), and you go on: “Despite the missionaries’ greatest efforts, the Church has never dominated the world. The Church’s mission is a mission of love, and love does not dominate” (pg. 35). Earlier, you wrote that “it is the ‘small remnant’ that has saved the faith.” If you will pardon a bold question: What is the problem exactly, seeing that this “small remnant” does in fact exist currently and manages to survive even in a world hostile to the faith?

Christians must be missionaries. They cannot keep the treasure of the Faith for themselves. Mission and evangelization remain an urgent spiritual task. And as St. Paul says, every Christian should be able to say “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). Further, “God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). How can we do nothing when so many souls do not know the only truth that sets us free: Jesus Christ? The prevailing relativism considers religious pluralism to be a good in itself. No! The plenitude of revealed truth that the Catholic Church has received must be transmitted, proclaimed, and preached.

The goal of evangelization is not world domination, but the service of God. Don’t forget that Christ’s victory over the world is…the Cross! It is not our intention to take over the power of the world. Evangelization is done through the Cross.

The martyrs are the first missionaries. Before the eyes of men, their life is a failure. The goal of evangelization is not to “keep count” like social media networks that want to “make a buzz.” Our goal is not to be popular in the media. We want that each and every soul be saved by Christ. Evangelization is not a question of success. It is a profoundly interior and supernatural reality.

3) I’d like to go back to one of your points in the previous question. Do you mean to say that European Christendom, where Christianity was able to establish itself throughout the whole of society, was only a sort of interlude in history; that it should not be taken as a model in the sense that in Europe Christianity “dominated” and imposed itself through a kind of social coercion?

A society permeated by the Faith, the Gospel, and natural law is something desirable. It is the job of the lay faithful to construct it. That is in fact their proper vocation. They work for the good of all when they build a city in conformity with human nature and open to Revelation. But the more profound goal of the Church is not to construct a particular model society. The Church has received the mandate to proclaim salvation, which is a supernatural reality. A just society disposes souls to receive the gift of God, but it cannot give salvation. On the other hand, can there be a society that is just and in conformity with the natural law without the gift of grace working in souls? There is great need to proclaim the heart of our Faith: only Jesus saves us from sin. It must be emphasized, however, that evangelization is not complete when it takes hold of social structures. A society inspired by the Gospel protects the weak against the consequences of sin. Conversely, a society cut off from God quickly turns into a dictatorship and becomes a structure of sin, encouraging people toward evil. That is why we can say that there can be no just society without a place for God in the public sphere. A state that officially espouses atheism is an unjust state.  A state that relegates God to the private sphere cuts itself off from the true source of rights and justice. A state that pretends to found rights on good will alone, and does not seek to found the law on an objective order received from the Creator, risks falling into totalitarianism.

4) Over the course of European history, we have moved from a society in which the group outweighed the person (the holism of the Middle Ages) – a type of society that still exists in Africa and continues to characterize Islam – to a society in which the person is emancipated from the group (individualism). We might also say, broadly speaking, that we have passed from a society dominated by the quest for truth to a society dominated by the quest for freedom. The Church herself has developed her doctrine in the face of this evolution, proclaiming the right to religious liberty at Vatican II. How do you see the position of the Church toward this evolution? Is there a balance to be struck between the two poles of “truth” and “freedom,” whereas so far we have merely gone from one excess to the other?

It is not correct to speak of a “balance” between two poles: truth and freedom. In fact, this manner of speaking presupposes that these realities are external to and in opposition to one another. Freedom is essentially a tending toward what is good and true. The truth is meant to be known and freely embraced. A freedom that is not itself oriented and guided by truth is nonsensical. Error has no rights. Vatican II recalled the fact that truth can only be established by the force of truth itself, and not by coercion. It also recalled that respect for persons and their freedom should not in any way make us indifferent in relation to the true and the good.

Revelation is the breaking in of divine truth into our lives. It does not constrain us. In giving and revealing Himself, God respects the freedom that He Himself created. I believe that the opposition between truth and freedom is the fruit of a false conception of human dignity.

Modern man hypostatizes his freedom, making it an absolute to the point of believing that it is threatened when he accepts the truth. However, to accept the truth is the most beautiful act of freedom that man can perform. I believe that your question reveals how deeply the crisis of the Western conscience is really in the end a crisis of faith. Western man is afraid of losing his freedom by accepting the gift of true faith. He prefers to close himself up inside a freedom that is devoid of content. The act of faith is an encounter between freedom and truth. That is why in the first chapter of my book I have insisted on the crisis of faith. Our freedom comes to fulfillment when it says “yes” to revealed truth. If freedom says “no” to God, it denies itself. It asphyxiates.

5) You dwell at length on the crisis of the priesthood and argue for priestly celibacy. What do you see as the primary cause in the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, and what do you think of the summit that just took place in Rome on this question?

I think that the crisis of the priesthood is one of the main factors in the crisis of the Church. We have taken away priests’ identity. We have made priests believe that they need to be efficient men. But a priest is fundamentally the continuation of Christ’s presence among us. He should not be defined by what he does, but by what he is: ipse Christus, Christ Himself. The discovery of many cases of sexual abuse against minors reveals a profound spiritual crisis, a grave, deep, and tragic rupture between the priest and Christ.

Of course, there are social factors: the crisis of the ‘60s and the sexualization of society, which rebound on the Church. But we must have the courage to go further. The roots of this crisis are spiritual. A priest who does not pray or makes a theatre out of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, a priest who only confesses rarely and who does not live concretely like another Christ, is cut off from the source of his own being. The result is death. I have dedicated this book to the priests of the whole world because I know that they are suffering. Many of them feel abandoned.

We, the bishops, bear a large share of responsibility for the crisis of the priesthood. Have we been fathers to them? Have we listened to them, understood and guided them? Have we given them an example? Too often dioceses are transformed into administrative structures. There are so many meetings. The bishop should be the model for the priesthood. But we ourselves are far from being the ones most ready to pray in silence, or to chant the Office in our cathedrals. I fear that we lose ourselves in secondary, profane responsibilities.

The place of a priest is on the Cross. When he celebrates Mass, he is at the source of his whole life, namely the Cross. Celibacy is a concrete means that permits us to live this mystery of the Cross in our lives. Celibacy inscribes the Cross in our very flesh. That is why celibacy is intolerable for the modern world. Celibacy is a scandal for modern people, because the Cross is a scandal.

In this book, I want to encourage priests. I want to tell them: love your priesthood! Be proud to be crucified with Christ! Do not fear the world’s hate! I want to express my affection as a father and brother for the priests  of the whole world.

6) In a book that has caused quite a stir [In the Closet of the Vatican, by Frédéric Martel], the author explains that there are many homosexual prelates in the Vatican. He lends credibility to Mgr Viganò’s denunciation of the influence of a powerful gay network in the heart of the Curia. What do you think of this? Is there a homosexual problem in the heart of the Church and if so, why is it a taboo?

Today the Church is living with Christ through the outrages of the Passion. The sins of her members come back to her like strikes on the face. Some have tried to instrumentalize these sins in order to put pressure on the bishops. Some want them to adopt the judgments and language of the world. Some bishops have caved in to the pressure. We see them calling for the abandonment of priestly celibacy or making unsound statements about homosexual acts. Should we be surprised? The Apostles themselves turned tail in the Garden of Olives. They abandoned Christ in His most difficult hour.

We must be realistic and concrete. Yes, there are sinners. Yes, there are unfaithful priests, bishops, and even cardinals who fail to observe chastity. But also, and this is also very grave, they fail to hold fast to doctrinal truth! They disorient the Christian faithful by their confusing and ambiguous language. They adulterate and falsify the Word of God, willing to twist and bend it to gain the world’s approval. They are the Judas Iscariots of our time.

Sin should not surprise us. On the other hand, we must have the courage to call it by name. We must not be afraid to rediscover the methods of spiritual combat: prayer, penance, and fasting. We must have the clear-sightedness to punish unfaithfulness. We must find the concrete means to prevent it. I believe that without a common prayer life, without a minimum of common fraternal life between priests, fidelity is an illusion. We must look to the model of the Acts of the Apostles.

With regard to homosexual behaviors, let us not fall into the trap of the manipulators. There is no “homosexual problem” in the Church. There is a problem of sins and infidelity. Let us not perpetuate the vocabulary of LGBT ideology. Homosexuality does not define the identity of persons. It describes certain deviant, sinful, and perverse acts. For these acts, as for other sins, the remedies are known. We must return to Christ, and allow him to convert us. When the fault is public, the penalties provided for by Church law must be applied. Punishment is merciful, an act of charity and fraternal love. Punishment restores the damage done to the common good and permits the guilty party to redeem himself. Punishment is part of the paternal role of bishops. Finally, we must have the courage to clearly apply the norms regarding the acceptance of seminarians. Men whose psychology is deeply and permanently anchored in homosexuality, or who practice duplicity and lying, cannot be accepted as candidates for the priesthood.

7) One chapter is dedicated to the “crisis of the Church.” When precisely do you place the beginning of this crisis and what does it consist in? In particular, how do you relate the “crisis of faith” to the crisis of “moral theology.” Does one precede the other?

The crisis of the Church is above all a crisis of the faith. Some want the Church to be a human and horizontal society; they want it to speak the language of the media. They want to make it popular. They urge it not to speak about God, but to throw itself body and soul into social problems: migration, ecology, dialogue, the culture of encounter, the struggle against poverty, for justice and peace. These are of course important and vital questions before which the Church cannot shut her eyes. But a Church such as this is of interest to no one. The Church is only of interest because she allows us to encounter Jesus. She is only legitimate because she passes on Revelation to us. When the Church becomes overburdened with human structures, it obstructs the light of God shining out in her and through her. We are tempted to think that our action and our ideas will save the Church. It would be better to begin by letting her save herself.

I think we are at a turning point in the history of the Church. The Church needs a profound, radical reform that must begin by a reform of the life of her priests. Priests must be possessed by the desire for holiness, for perfection in God and fidelity to the doctrine of Him who has chosen and sent them. Their whole being and all their activities must be put to the service of sanctity. The Church is holy in herself. Our sins and our worldly concerns prevent her holiness from diffusing itself. It is time to put aside all these burdens and allow the Church finally appear as God made Her. Some believe that the history of the Church is marked by structural reforms. I am sure that it is the saints who change history. The structures follow afterwards, and do nothing other than perpetuate the what the saints brought about.

We need saints who dare to see all things through the eyes of faith, who dare to be enlightened by the light of God. The crisis of moral theology is the consequence of a voluntary blindness. We have refused to look at life through the light of the Faith.

In the conclusion of my book, I speak about a poison from which are all suffering: a virulent atheism. It permeates everything, even our ecclesiastical discourse. It consists in allowing radically pagan and worldly modes of thinking or living to coexist side by side with faith. And we are quite content with this unnatural cohabitation! This shows that our faith has become diluted and inconsistent! The first reform we need is in our hearts. We must no longer compromise with lies. The Faith is both the treasure we have to defend and the power that will permit us to defend it.

8) The second and third parts of your book are about crisis in western societies. The subject is so vast, and you touch on so many important points–from the expansion of the  “culture of death” to the problems of consumerism tied to global liberalism, passing through questions of identity, transmission, Islamism, etc.–that it is impossible to address them all. Among these problems, which seem to you to be the most important and what are the principal causes for the decline of the West?

First I would like to explain why I, a son of Africa, allow myself to address the West. The Church is the guardian of civilization. I am convinced that western civilization is passing at present through a mortal crisis. It has reached the extreme of self-destructive hate. As during the fall of Rome, elites are only concerned to increase the luxury of their daily life and the peoples are being anesthetized by ever more vulgar entertainment. As a bishop, it is my duty to warn the West! The barbarians are already inside the city. The barbarians are all those who hate human nature, all those who trample upon the sense of the sacred, all those who do not value life, all those who rebel against God the Creator of man and nature. The West is blinded by science, technology, and the thirst for riches. The lure of riches, which liberalism spreads in hearts, has sedated the peoples. At the same time, the silent tragedy of abortion and euthanasia continue and pornography and gender ideology destroy children and adolescents. We are accustomed to barbarism. It doesn’t even surprise us anymore! I want to raise a cry of alarm, which is also a cry of love. I do so with a heart full of filial gratitude for the Western missionaries who died in my land of Africa and who communicated to me the precious gift of faith in Jesus Christ. I want to follow their lead and receive their inheritance!

How could I not emphasize the threat posed by Islamism?  Muslims despise the atheistic West. They take refuge in Islamism as a rejection of the consumer society that is offered to them as a religion. Can the West present them the Faith in a clear way? For that it will have to rediscover its Christian roots and identity. To the countries of the third world, the West is held out as a paradise because it is ruled by commercial liberalism. This encourages the flow of migrants, so tragic for the identity of peoples. A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance.

But I would like to point out that everything is prepared for a renewal. I see families, monasteries, and parishes that are like oases in the middle of a desert. It is from these oases of faith, liturgy, beauty, and silence that the West will be reborn.

9) You end this beautiful book with a section entitled “Rediscovering Hope: The Practice of the Christian Virtues.” What do you mean by this? In what way can practicing these virtues be a remedy for the multifarious crisis we have spoken about in this interview?

We should not imagine a special program that could provide a remedy for the current multi-faceted crisis. We have simply to live our Faith, completely and radically. The Christian virtues are the Faith blossoming in all the human faculties. They mark the way for a happy life in harmony with God. We must create places where they can flourish. I call upon Christians to open oases of freedom in the midst the desert created by rampant profiteering. We must create places where the air is breathable, or simply where the Christian life is possible. Our communities must put God in the center. Amidst the avalanche of lies, we must be able to find places where truth is not only explained but experienced. In a word, we must live the Gospel: not merely thinking about it as a utopia, but living it in a concrete way. The Faith is like a fire, but it has to be burning in order to be transmitted to others. Watch over this sacred fire! Let it be your warmth in the heart of this winter of the West. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31). In the disaster, confusion, and darkness of our world, we find “the light that shines in the darkness” (cf. Jn 1:5): He who said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6).

Translated from the French by Zachary Thomas (Original)

Note: the French text published by La Nef edited the text of the interview given by the Cardinal. This is a translation of the integral text supplied by the Cardinal.

Ignatius Press has announced the 2019 publication of an English translation entitled The Day is Far Spent, available for pre-order on their website.

Talking About Pro-Life Progress

by 

Hundreds of Pro-Life Bills

To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s clear that the pro-life movement is gaining enormous momentum. However, if you still have any doubts about pro-life progress, you need only glance at Planned Parenthood’s latest press release, responding to data just published by the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former research arm.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, since the beginning of this year over 250 pro-life bills have been introduced in over 41 states. Almost 50% of those bills would ban abortion in “some or all circumstances,” says the organization. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood’s analysis, legislators in seven states have proposed bills that would completely ban abortion, while six states are considering or have passed “trigger bans” that would ban abortion if or when Roe v. Wade is repealed.

Elizabeth Nash, the Senior State Issues Manager at the Guttmacher Institute, linked the glut of pro-life bills to both the conservative shift on the Supreme Court, and the increasingly open efforts of the pro-life movement to enact total abortion bans. “Energized by a new Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and politicians have kicked into high gear their decades-long agenda to ban abortion through a series of increasingly radical and dangerous abortion bans,” she stated.

Nash claimed, disingenuously, that the pro-life bills being introduced “are about exerting control and power over pregnant people.” But, for the growing number of Americans who call themselves pro-life, this claim is simply absurd. The goals of the pro-life movement have nothing to do with controlling pregnant women; they have to do with protecting the lives of the unborn children that science and ultrasound technology have revealed beyond any shadow of a doubt to be just as fully alive and human as you or I.

Extremist leftist organizations like Planned Parenthood, which have built their ideology on denying or conscientiously burying basic scientific truths, are struggling to remain relevant now that those scientific truths are so undeniable and publicly accessible, thanks both to technology and the tireless efforts of the pro-life movement.

Indeed, the absurdity of the Guttmacher Institute’s ideological extremism is on display in Nash’s remark about pro-lifers wanting to control “pregnant people.” One of the pro-abortion movement’s latest dogmas is that men can get pregnant – i.e. so-called “transgender men,” which is to say, biological women who now claim that they are men. This claim is at least as absurd as the claim that the unborn child is just a “blob of tissue” that magically becomes a living human person either the moment the “pregnant person” (i.e. mother) decides that she wants the baby, or that the baby emerges from the birth canal.

Planned Parenthood Panicking

Another immensely encouraging piece of news from the Guttmacher Institute’s report is that six states have only a single abortion facility left. In other words, these states are on the verge of eliminating surgical abortions from their borders even without passing legislation banning abortions. In fact, statistics show that the number of abortion clinics across the country has plummeted over the last two decades. According to Operation Rescue, in 2018 the total number of abortion clinics in the U.S. fell to 697. That’s a decrease of 79% since 1991. The Washington Post blames many of these closures on the successful passage of pro-life progress in legislation.

The massive growth in such pro-life legislation, and closure of abortion clinics, coincides with a dramatic decrease in the U.S. abortion rate. According to the CDC, the U.S. abortion rate reached a historical low in 2015. That translates into millions of lives saved.

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen sounds panicked, as well she might. “Today, the reality we live in is a terrifying one for women around the country,” she claimed. As is typical of Planned Parenthood, Wen deceptively attempted to link the reduction in abortion clinics to disruptions in access to services like cancer screenings and STD and HIV testing. In reality, pro-lifers have thoroughly debunked Planned Parenthood’s past claims to offer mammograms (Even the pro-abortion Washington Post had to admit that pro-lifers were right). Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s own public numbers show that most of their non-abortion-related services have been declining for years, while abortions keep climbing.

Click to read more about the real Planned Parenthood and its genesis.

However, Wen is quite right when she bemoans the fact that “access to abortion care is disappearing in states.” But far from a “terrifying” reality for women, this means that many more young girls will have a chance to be born, rather than being flushed down the drains at Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities before they ever even have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. So, too, many more young women will have the opportunity to pursue a happy, meaningful life without carrying the burden of shame and regret that so often follows after accepting Planned Parenthood’s bleak, self-centered, and murderously-maintained worldview.

Crucially, many of the bills introduced around the country are so-called “heartbeat bills,” which would ban abortion after the point when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Such bills would not only prevent the overwhelming majority of abortions from taking place but present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. If passed into law, such bills would inevitably be challenged in court, ultimately ending up at the Supreme Court, which would have the opportunity to revisit the notorious case that ushered abortion-on-demand into the United States. Pro-abortion activists clearly believe that they may very well see Roe v. Wade overturned within months or a few years. It’s up to us, with God’s grace, to ensure that their fears are well-founded.

Interestingly, even many of the massive liberal corporations which, in the past, have not hesitated to use their influence to threaten individual states if they should pass legislation that goes against the leftist agenda have declined to publicly oppose the heartbeat bills being introduced in states like Georgia. I think the reason why is obvious: public opinion is trending pro-life. Corporations that threatened Georgia for passing religious liberty legislation a few years ago know that they can’t risk associating their brand with the killing of unborn babies.

The Pro-Abortion Movement’s Worst Year Ever?

Amidst the hundreds of pro-life bills that have been introduced, a more conservative Supreme Court, a president who seems determined to fulfill his pro-life promises in the face of any amount of backlash, and the release of what may well be the most successful pro-life movie ever made – Unplanned, telling the story of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson – the abortion industry in the United States seems set to have what may well turn out to be its worst year since the Supreme Court first passed Roe v. Wade.

Click for more on “Unplanned” and the truth about Planned Parenthood. Footage courtesy EWTN

 

That said, pro-lifers should be wary of growing even a little bit complacent. Pro-abortion forces are terrified, and in response they are rallying their supporters and legislative allies to push back…hard. As Planned Parenthood noted in its release, the pro-life bills “have triggered a counter response from constituents and reproductive health care champions”. This, in part, explains the glut of attempts (some of which have been successful) to pass laws enshrining the most extreme versions of legal abortion in states like New York and Virginia.

We live in chaotic times, and there is much to be worried about in terms of the state and future of our culture. However, if respect for the sanctity of human life is, as Pope St. John Paul II so often proclaimed, the necessary foundation for a healthy society, then it would seem we have great reason for both hope and gratitude: gratitude that so many lives are already being saved thanks to our country’s pro-life direction, and hope that within our lifetimes we may yet see the end of the reign of terror that is legalized abortion-on-demand.

Male and female brains are different, even in the womb: new study

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, April 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A new scientific study has found that pre-born babies’ brains show significant differences between sexes and thus before any parental or societal conditioning.

In the April 2019 edition of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, an article titled “Sex differences in functional connectivity during fetal brain development” details the authors’ study of 118 unborn babies (70 male, 48 female) between 25.9 and 39.6 weeks gestational age. By looking at 16 distinct networks of the brains, they found differences between male and female fetuses in functional connectivity across gestational age. They concluded, “These observations confirm that sexual dimorphism in functional brain systems emerges during human gestation.”

The study concluded, “The differential development of FC over gestation in male and female fetuses likely acts as a precursor to sex-related brain connectivity differences observed across the lifespan. Further, the fetal brain networks observed in the present study likely serve as the building blocks for nascent neonatal, toddler, and adult networks.”

Dr. Leonard Sax, a physician and psychologist, wrote in Psychology Today that the new study is in line with previous studies showing that female infants “have significantly greater brain volume in the prefrontal cortex compared with males.” He wrote that some of the sex differences the researchers found are “truly amazing.” Girls showed differences in the connections in the left cerebellum, for example, as well as other areas of the brain, when compared to boys. The cerebellum lies near the base of the skull and has an important role in motor control. It may also be involved in functions such as attention, language, and the regulation of fear and pleasure responses.

In an interview with CNA, Sax said the importance of the study is that it shows that sexual differences in brain development come before birth. “Exactly what those differences signify is controversial,” he added.

Sax recalled in the Psychology Today article that Professor Judith Butler, a non-scientist, has been celebrated for her idea that “male” and “female” categories are social constructs. He quotes Butler, who says that “because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender creates [sic] the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all.” Butler’s book, Gender Trouble, has been influential for decades among transgenderism advocates, who have argued that sexual differences are conditioned by parents and societal norms. The new study throws the resultant gender theory into doubt, Sax writes, because it focuses on babies before birth and thus before any influence from parents or society.

While transgender advocates attribute gender differences to societal prejudices and norms, for Sax, “girls and boys are different,” according to CNA. Sax believes that “girl” and “boy” are “meaningful categories” that are not a performance or social construct.

Ohio abortion center loses appeal to stay open without hospital transfer agreement

KETTERING, April 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — An embattled abortion facility in Ohio has lost the latest round of its legal battle to stay open despite lacking the required hospital transfer agreement, with the next step potentially being the state Supreme Court.

In 2016, state health officials revoked Women’s Med Center of Dayton (WMCD)’s ambulatory surgical facility license, citing alleged rule violations. County court judge Mary Wiseman let WMCD remain open while challenging the decision but went on to rule that the “court lacks the jurisdiction” to intervene in the case.

Women’s Med, which is roughly four miles away from two hospitals, has been unable to secure a written agreement with area hospitals to admit patients in cases of complications. But Jennifer Branch, an attorney representing WMCD, claims the requirement is “medically unnecessary and politically motivated” because hospitals would be required to take emergency patients anyway.

Operation Rescue notes, however, that WMCD has a history of medical emergencies, including a 26-year-old woman hemorrhaging after a surgical abortion last month and an unconscious woman rushed to the hospital the month before after the abortion center’s staff were unable to treat her seizures. WMCD is owned by the infamous late-term abortionist Martin Haskell, who has been credited with inventing the partial-birth abortion procedure.

Ohio’s Second District Court of Appeals took up Women’s Med’s appeal on March 12, and on Friday a three-judge panel sided with the state, the Dayton Daily Newsreports.

“It is ridiculous for an abortion facility that cannot comply with licensing standards to stay open for four, five, or six years until the appeals can be exhausted and the clinic finally closed,” Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said. “In the meantime, women are suffering abortion complications and are being transported away by ambulance. These all could have been avoided had the appeals process allowed for the closure of this dangerous abortion clinic within a reasonable time frame.”

“The state’s law is intended to protect the health of the mother and the unborn child, and clearly the court agreed,” said Republican state Rep. Niraj Antani. “If the clinic decides to appeal to the Supreme Court, I’m confident the state law will continue to be upheld. Otherwise, the clinic should be immediately closed, and countless lives in the Dayton region will be saved.”

Branch confirmed that WMCD intends to appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“We are one step away from one ending the child-killing career of one of the most notorious full-term abortionists in America,” Newman said. “It’s just unfortunate that it will likely take another year of appeals before we can finally see Haskell’s late-term clinic closed.”

The consequences of a plummeting birth rate

Shannon Roberts | Apr 2 2019

Today I recommend to you some interesting demographic insights from Lyman Stone, speaking on The Federalist Radio Hour.   You can listen here.  Some of the points I found interesting are:

– Are demographers considering what individual people actually want for their lives?  Lyman Stone argues that this is the meaningful question demographers should ask, particularly in relation to developing countries, and it is often a blind spot.

– The United States is at the lowest fertility rate in its history, as are many other countries around the world, so we are in an anomalous period in the world’s history.

– People often think the fewer people there are in the world, the more of the ‘pie’ will be left for them.  This is wrong because, in fact, the ‘pie’ gets a lot smaller when there are fewer people, and there is less for everyone.  The economy will get smaller, and who will be left to buy your assets such as your house and stocks?  How will businesses you invest in stay afloat with no new innovative people?

So, while it might make financial sense at an individual level to have fewer children and have more money left for you, at a societal level there will be less for everyone when you do this.The perspective of individuals does not match what society as a whole needs in this case.

– Climate change is a challenge of creativity and reducing emissions intensity.  The good news is we’re good at this.  In fact, the only meaningful thing we can do about emissions based on the current generally agreed scientific projections (if you take these as fact), is to come up with new innovations and technology at this point – which helps every country in the world lower their emissions too. Reducing population is too delayed based on the arguments and projections driving climate change.

Birth Dearth Reflects Moral Sterility.

By Father George Rutler, 24 March 2019

There is a law that the time required to complete a task matches the time available. The feast of the Annunciation fits conveniently in the Lenten cycle this year, as the season comes unusually late. Our Lady conceived when she said “Yes” to the Creator. Many today are saying “No.” In some parts of our country there is growth in the number of seminarians, but in most places the harvest is sparse, and that is directly related to the dearth of children. The birth rate is the lowest in history: 60.2 births for every 1,000 women. We may be contracting a contagion of barrenness from Europe, which is dying because of a birth rate of 10 per 1,000 women and is desperately trying to survive by radically transforming its culture through massive immigration. It is projected that within ten years, the European Union will experience a 14% decrease in its workforce and a 7% decrease in its consumer populations.

A birth dearth reflects moral sterility. There is one condition shared by the heads of state or government in France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Scotland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg: none of them have any children. Why should they care about future generations? There actually are voices calling for a complete elimination of births, on the claim that anthropogenic “climate change” will destroy the world in twenty years anyway. Many of them, whose mothers were of a different school of thought, may not remember that fifty years ago, a book titled The Population Bomb predicted that within ten years, hundreds of millions would have died of starvation and that most of its readers would have starved to death by now. Practicing what he preached, the author had a vasectomy and now—at the age of 85—still has an adequate food supply. Confident that theory takes precedent over fact, he maintains that his core thesis was correct.

State legislation and cultural pressures are increasingly hostile to families, which in various ways are looked on as threats to government. Governmental and societal forces promote contraception, abortion, easy divorce, and welfare structures that encourage fatherless households. If the Church is true to herself in her teaching and example, she will be the solace of civilization in this new demographic dark age.

Giving thanks in these Lenten days for Our Lady’s “Yes,” we look to the words of Saint John Paul II: “I wish to invoke the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth. … It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families. … St. Joseph was a ‘just man’… May he always guard, protect and enlighten families. May the Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, also be the Mother of ‘the Church of the home.’ . . . May Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families, be present in every Christian home as He was at Cana, bestowing light, joy, serenity, and strength” (Familiaris Consortio #86).

 

https://fathergeorgerutler.podbean.com

Catholic College Success Stories

By Father George Rutler, 31 March 2019

Thirty-five years ago I admired the neo-Gothic buildings of a Catholic college in Westchester County. But I was surprised to find that the confessional in the beautiful chapel was being used as a broom closet. There had been some misunderstanding about aggiornamento, or bringing the practice of the Faith up to date. That was the College of New Rochelle, begun in 1904 by the Ursuline sisters whose Religious institute was founded by Saint Angela Merici and who have graced the Church since 1535 with hospitals and schools and missionary work. They have not been unique in their numerical decline. In the United States since 1965, when the Second Vatican Council ended with sentiments of a “New Springtime” of the Church, Religious sisters have declined from 181,421 to 47,160, and most of those left are aged. This year the College of New Rochelle will close.

While various factors for all this may be cited, many Religious orders, trained in obedience, accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault, timorous about correcting error, cheerily giving out diplomas while the spiritual foundations of the schools sank. It took courage usually lacking to point out that serious mistakes were being made, and many Religious dug into their errors, abandoning community life and even Religious habits, and replacing doctrine with secular dogmas about “Peace and Justice” and “climate change”—all witness to the dictum, attributed to various sources, that ”Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

Such need not be the case, given a dose of humility and sanity. Those who stubbornly will not admit mistakes are easily annoyed when shown new Religious orders, faithful to classical doctrine and religious practice, that are rapidly growing. Something similar is happening in education. Take just two examples: Thomas Aquinas College has emphasized quality over size since its founding in 1971 and has become one of the best regarded colleges in California. This year, it is opening a beautiful additional campus on an historic site in Massachusetts. Its California chapel, built in the Spanish Mission style, is a magnificent witness to Catholic heritage, as is the new chapel planned for Christendom College in Virginia, which was founded just a few years after Thomas Aquinas College. In the few years of their existence, although primarily lay institutions, Thomas Aquinas has produced 60 priests, 44 consecrated Religious women and men, and 26 seminarians; Christendom boasts so far 80 priests, 55 Religious, and 22 seminarians. Those colleges have not turned their confessionals into broom closets.

Any individual or institution that seeks happiness on its own terms will not find it. Chesterton asks, “Do you have joy without a cause…?” On Laetare Sunday, the Church rejoices in the true cause of joy, which is God Himself. The failings evident in practical experience testify to what happens when vanity tries to usurp Him.

 

https://fathergeorgerutler.podbean.com

Is it ethical to give emergency contraception in Catholic hospitals?

Chris Kahlenborn, MD

March 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Each year, over 250,000 women get sexually assaulted in the United States, while the actual number of victims is likely far higher, considering that less than 40% of victims report their assaults. Of the women who do go to an emergency room, almost all will get a pregnancy test, and if the test is negative, almost all will receive emergency contraception, usually Plan B, which consists of a hormone called levonorgestrel, given with the hope that it will prevent pregnancy. The main ethical debate concerns the question of whether this medication works via preventing pregnancy or via ending pregnancy (i.e., an early abortion).

So what is the policy of Catholic hospitals in the United States with regard to the dispensation of emergency contraception? A few Catholic hospitals forbid its use; however, many Catholic hospitals dispense emergency contraception under certain conditions and follow the Peoria Protocol, which was invented in Peoria, Illinois, under then-bishop Myers.

Simply put, this protocol states that it is ethical to dispense emergency contraception such as Plan B to a woman who is sexually assaulted if she is not pregnant and has not yet ovulated. The premise behind the protocol is that Plan B will stop a woman from ovulating if she is about to ovulate and therefore prevent any potential pregnancy.

However, recent research has shown that giving Plan B to women who are about to ovulate does little to stop the upcoming ovulation, as noted by researchers Noe and Croxatto (2011, Contraception), who found that one could easily measure when a woman ovulates by high-tech ultrasound and noted that about 80% of the women ovulated if Plan B was given 2–5 days prior to ovulation.

So if Plan B does not effectively prevent ovulation, then how does it stop pregnancy? The answer is that these women are likely getting pregnant, but the embryo dies prior to ever implanting in the uterus — that is, an early abortion.

In light of the newest data, the Catholic Medical Association, the largest group of Catholic physicians in the United States, has published its official position on its website, concluding that the Peoria Protocol is flawed and that the dispensation of emergency contraception such as Plan B in Catholic emergency rooms is immoral.

The obvious question is, why is Plan B still being given out in Catholic hospitals’ emergency rooms?

One of the problems regarding Plan B and its mechanism of action is that it is a very technical area, so those who favor the dispensation of Plan B often make old claims that are not supported by the most current medical literature. In response, the Polycarp Research Institute has produced a video that goes into more detail and refutes these older arguments while presenting the most current evidence.

It is everyone’s hope that rape victims, whether pregnant or not, receive the most compassionate and effective care available. Unfortunately, using Plan B and continuing to cite the faulty Peoria Protocol, based upon what we now know, is simply an immoral compromise — with the unintended consequence of the loss of human life and the abandonment of truly loving and courageous Christian health care.

Incredible new technology offers hope for babies with heart problems

March 27, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — Scientists have created unprecedented 3D images of a baby’s heart while still inside the womb — a development which could help the treatment of babies with congenital heart disease.

Standard 2D images were taken using an MRI machine, and the images were then put through a powerful computer program developed by experts at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust. The technology pieces the images together and adjusts for the speed of the baby’s heartbeat and its movements in the womb to create an unprecedented 3D image of the heart.

This then gives doctors a clear view of any abnormality.

To help babies with heart disease or screen them out? 

Congenital heart diseases affect up to eight in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. According to a Danish study, the rate of abortion for babies with major congenital heart disease (CHD) increased from 0.6% in 1996 to 39.1% in 2013 — a 65 fold increase.

However, Prof Reza Razavi, a consultant paediatric cardiologist, told the BBC that he wanted to improve the diagnosis of the birth defects after his daughter was born with one. “We thought we were going to lose her, that was a strong motivator… we should be able to pick up the problem in the womb,” he said.

He describes the 3D images as “beautiful” and says they let doctors clearly see the problem and improve care. He said: “We can have complete certainty and plan ahead what treatment is needed, what’s the operation we need to do.

“It really helps the parents to have the right support to know what’s going to happen. But it also really helps the babies because they get the right operation at the right time and have the best outcomes.”

The research is part of the iFind project, which also produced this incredible video of a twenty-week-old baby in the womb.

Let’s hope that this incredible technology is used to provide care for babies with heart disease, and is not used as another tool to screen them out.

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

More evidence shows Catholic Relief Services still involved in promoting contraception

March 27, 2019 (Lepanto Institute) — Catholic Relief Services is currently in the middle of a national fund-raising campaign, and Catholics all around the country have been contacting the Lepanto Institute, asking if CRS is still involved in the promotion of contraception. Sadly, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Last year, we reported that CRS is a dues-paying member ($56,000 per year) of an organization called InterAction, which actively lobbies Congress for the expansion of contraception and the end of the Mexico City Policy. Last week, we reported how CRS Executive Vice-President William O’Keefe testified before Congress to request nearly $9 billion for USAID, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund, which comprise the largest distributors of contraception and condoms throughout the world.

Our latest report on a CRS project (which can be read in full by clicking here) shows that from 2013 to 2018, Catholic Relief Services participated in a project which had the stated objective of spreading contraception to vulnerable women living in poverty in rural areas of Madagascar. CRS’s role in this project was to create a self-sustaining financial mechanism that would provide funding to Community Health Volunteers, whose job (among other things) it was to teach women all about contraception and to sell them various pills and devices.

Background

The USAID Mikolo Project, which ran from August 2013 to July 2018, was a continuation of another project in Madagascar called SanteNet2. At the close of SanteNet2 in March of 2013, USAID noticed that its efforts to spread contraception through Community Health Volunteers was not achieving the level of independent sustainability it had hoped. In January of 2013, USAID conducted an “Assessment of Community Health Volunteer Program Functionality in Madagascar” wherein it sought “how to finance the CHV program to make it sustainable.” The report said:

Recommendations included determining how to finance the CHV program to make it sustainable. One representative called for a line item in the Government budget at decentralized levels to cover CHV services. Another said that some FP services were free at health centers but that CHVs had to ask for a fee to recoup the costs of medicines and supplies, though the service was free. This particularly applied with medications that were purchased through the community. Poverty in remote areas precluded asking for contributions from the communities.

Analamanga’s community representatives were concerned about stimulating and sustaining CHVs’ motivation. They acknowledged the efforts CHV had to make and cited a need for financial incentives. One representative explained that the work interfered with a CHV’s personal (especially marital) life, since many were approached at night, especially for MNCH emergencies. In one case, a CHV’s husband opposed his wife’s CHV activity due to the frequent disruptions. Financial incentives, e.g., compensation for travel expenses, could help retain CHVs. Providing resources to communities to organize incentives was suggested.

The answer to this problem of providing incentives for CHVs to continue their work in the community (and away from their homes and farm work) while making sure the project was self-sustaining (as in, not reliant upon outside funding) came in the form of Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC).

An October 2015 USAID document titled “COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER INCENTIVES IN MADAGASCAR: LESSONS LEARNED” explained that:

The most common financial incentives across all interviewed CHWs included per diem for attending trainings and meetings, user fees from the sale of medicines and commodities, performance-based financing (PBF) incentives, and referral payments for FP [family planning] services. Some CHWs were also involved in program-supported savings and internal lending communities (SILCs) and income generating activities, while others received free enrollement [sic] in community health insurance schemes.

The Problem

There are two basic elements to the project which must be understood in order to grasp the problem: Community Health Volunteers (CHV) and their role in promoting contraception; Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) and their role in financing CHVs.

Community Health Volunteers and Contraception

The role of the Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) is very clear. They are to provide service delivery for various health-related issues in rural communities, including contraception. The Final Performance Evaluation of the Mikolo Project, which was published in Dec. of 2017, gives a concise explanation for the use of CHVs in the project:

Working in eight of Madagascar’s 22 regions, in 43 Districts, 506 communes and 3,557 fokontany (communities) over the past three years, the Project has re-established a strong community based service delivery mechanism through the strengthening of the quality of service delivery by more than 6,500 community health volunteers (CHV). By focusing on communities which are greater than five kilometers from a nearest health facility, the Mikolo Project is ensuring that the most underserved of Madagascar’s population are receiving quality integrated health services for women and children under five years old. CHVs are the community linchpin in ensuring a strong continuum of care by:

  • offering family planning services to women of reproductive age, including youth …

In the very first report for the Mikolo Project (1 August–30 September 2013) it was established that the promotion and distribution of contraception was a priority. The report identifies on page 7 what it referred to as sub-purpose 2 of the project, namely, “increase the number of CHVs, fortify linkages with providers of long-acting and permanent methods (LAPMs) of FP, and improve commodity security.” In other words, CHVs were to be used as mules for contraception throughout the community.

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What is clear from this information is that Catholic Relief Services would have known from the very beginning of this project that the spread of contraception was integral to its success. In fact, in the portion of this report which delineates CRS’s responsibilities regarding the establishment of microfinance institutions is a statement that CRS will not be asked to provide service delivery related to family planning and reproductive health:

CRS will not be asked to provide service delivery related to family planning and reproductive health. Specifically, it is expected that CRS will lead all activities related to microfinance. Drawing from international and Madagascar specific experiences, CRS will facilitate the establishment of commune-level COSAN Savings and Loans Funds (CSLF)/Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs). CRS will establish partnerships with Microfinance Institutions and determine the demand for client centered loan products available through COSANs.

The role of CHVs in the promotion and distribution of contraception is made abundantly clear in dozens of documents, but a USAID report titled “USAID/Madagascar and Community Health Volunteers: Working in Partnership to Achieve Health Goals” explains on page 9, under the heading “CHV Package of Services,” the contraceptive services provided by CVHs in Madagascar:

Volunteers also provide community-based family planning services. These services include counseling, pregnancy screening, method eligibility screening, and provision of short-acting contraceptive methods. CHVs inform and refer clients for long-acting and permanent methods available through mobile outreach and private and public service providers. CHVs socially market many of the products that they distribute; this modest income serves as a motivation for CHVs and sets Madagascar apart from other countries that pay direct stipends. CHVs also provide a link to youth peer educators in the community to reproductive and other health services.

Savings and Internal Lending Communities

As explained earlier, Catholic Relief Services’ role in the Mikolo Project was to “lead all activities related to microfinance.” In June of 2018, MSH (the lead on the Mikolo Project) published an article explaining how the SILCs work and the relationship between the SILCs established by CRS and the Community Health Volunteers. It is important to note that this is the first time that SILCs would be used to finance a health-related project.

In rural Madagascar, people have limited access to savings programs or credit. This impacts community health when people cannot afford to pay for health care. In partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the USAID Mikolo Project promoted the creation of savings and internal lending communities (SILCs) at the Fokontany (village) level to encourage individuals and families to regularly save income and to provide them with access to credit on favorable terms.

CRS first developed the SILC approach for general community development, and USAID Mikolo implemented it for the first time in the field of public health. SILC groups offer easy access to financial services for households and health care providers, especially women, as well as social capital. The main objective of SILCs is to provide funding, borrowing, and savings opportunities for community members.

SILCs are groups of 15-25 community members that meet on a weekly basis. Each member contributes money into the SILC fund. Members can borrow money at a fixed interest rate, e.g. to start up a small business. After a full cycle (9-12 months), the total savings accrued throughout the period are distributed to members based on how much each has saved, as a percentage of the overall savings.

In fact, community health volunteers (CHVs) participate in the SILC groups not only as members, but also as health educators to improve quality of life by considering personal and family health. Life in a rural village is very difficult, and without financial stability simple healthy behaviors may seem out of reach for many families, such as purchasing needed medicines, soap, family planning methods, or healthy food. CHVs encourage these behaviors, and with the SILC program these and other health-promoting activities can become regular habits rather than unattainable conventions.

In short, CRS is responsible for creating local microfinance groups called SILCS, which in turn provide funding to CHVs, whose mission is to spread contraception to women in the village.

To put into perspective the effectiveness of CHVs in promoting and spreading contraception, this chart, which is on page 95 of the final evaluation we cited earlier, illustrates how “new users of family planning” was by far the most popular service provided.

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Further Evidence in Video

Catholic Relief Services knew fully well that it was being used by USAID in order to create a financial engine for the spread of contraception through Community Health Volunteers. The project itself identified CRS as being responsible for all matters pertaining to microfinance, it showed how CHVs were being funded by these microfinance groups, and it showed how one of the primary missions of the CHV was to introduce and spread contraception. The very fact that CRS had a disclaimer indicating that it would not be directly responsible for the delivery of family planning is further indication that CRS knew exactly what this project was about.

But another and more direct piece of evidence comes from CRS itself.

On YouTube, USAID had uploaded a series of videos on the Mikolo Project intended to explain various aspects of the project itself. Several of these videos had closing credits showing that they were written, produced, and owned (copyrighted) by Catholic Relief Services itself.

In one video, titled “Promoting Saving and Lending Communities to Improve Access to Health,” the narrator explains the relationship between CHVs and CSLF, saying:

The primary goal of the project is to increase the use of primary healthcare services to local community and the adoption of health enhancing behavior. The project relies on human capital to achieve this goal. The establishment of CSLF or Cosen Savings and Loans funds, which are savings groups of community health volunteers is one way to achieve this. The CSLF presents an opportunity for community health volunteers to have access to financial opportunities such as credit and savings. This practice also enables them to develop their social capital into the community health volunteer’s professional network.

While the narrator for the video is saying this, the B-roll footage shows a CHV entering a woman’s hut, where he pulls out a box of something from his backpack (image above). Blowing the picture up (left) reveals that the box being taken from the backpack is a box carrying the label “Confiance.”

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A few seconds later, the contents of the box are set out on the table while the CHV examines the instructions on the back of the box. The contents included a small vial and a syringe (see the image below). According to a document produced by Family Planning Watch, a project of Population Services International, Confiance is an injectable contraceptive equivalent to Depo-Provera, produced by the Pfizer corporation.

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This video, along with this report, was sent to Catholic Relief Services in September of 2018. After several months, Catholic Relief Services claimed that the video, which bears its closing credits and its copyright, was not its video and that a local production company mistakenly attached CRS’s credits and copyright to the end of the video. Not only is this explanation the same kind of thing CRS said about the government documents indicating that CRS was involved in the promotion of contraception in the SAIDIA Project, and the inventory reports showing that CRS had received and distributed 2.25 million units of contraception in Project AXxess, but since CRS was specifically identified as having been responsible for all of the matters pertaining to microfinances, there simply isn’t any other entity for whom this video would have been made.

After receiving CRS’s explanation that the video isn’t actually theirs, we have discovered that the original now has the ending credits and copyright attributed to CRS blurred out. However, the Lepanto Institute saved the video in case something like this should happen. You can see the original version with the closing credits at the link here.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no way of denying that Catholic Relief Services played a willing role in a project designed to spread contraception to poor people in rural Madagascar. The project identified the spread of contraception by Community Health Volunteers as a priority from the very beginning. The Community Health Volunteers were being funded by the microfinance communities called SILCs, and those communities were being established by Catholic Relief Services.

Another way of looking at this is that the CHVs are legalized drug-dealers (contraception instead of heroin), and CRS created the self-sustaining mechanism that would keep them funded.

CRS may claim that its role in the project was very small, but what it overlooks is that its small part was also one that was vital to the overall “success” of the project. The battery on a car is a very “small part,” but without one, a car won’t go anywhere.

But one more thing CRS has to atone for is the grave scandal it caused to the Malagasy people. On June 26, MSH and USAID Mikolo announced the role of the Mikolo Project in helping to draft Madagascar’s new law that allows universal access to contraception and enables CHVs to provide short-term contraception. While CRS may not have played a direct role in the drafting of this new law, because of its participation in a gravely and intrinsically immoral project, the name of the Church is now attached to this result.

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Published with permission from the Lepanto Institute.

19 children

https://www.mercatornet.com/video_choice/view/22314

Big families are not unusual in the Ukrainian village of Glynne. While the country’s population is falling, this highly religious community has more than 100 families with seven or more children. But one couple has gone further than most, recently welcoming their 19th child. Can they even remember all of those names? BBC Video by Roman Lebed

Christian Singer Matthew West’s New Pro-Life Song: With God No Baby is Ever “Unplanned”

MICAIAH BILGER   MAR 26, 2019   |   5:04PM    WASHINGTON, DC

Popular Christian recording artist Matthew West released a new song Friday that focuses on the value of the “unplanned” baby in the womb.

His song, “Unplanned,” comes out in coordination with the release of the film by the same name, which follows the story of Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson.

CBN News reports West wrote the song as the title track for the movie. His inspiration came from memories of hearing his own daughter’s heartbeat for the first time.

“I wrote this from the perspective of someone seeing their baby for the first time,” West said. “I tried to capture the feelings I had when I first heard my own daughter’s heartbeat; the overwhelming sense of life that is precious, a life that is a miracle, and a life that is a gift.”

West, whose music video is interspersed with clips from the film, said he hopes the song will move people.

“Oh I don’t believe in accidents/Miracles, they don’t just happen by chance,” West sings. “As long as my God holds the world in his hands/I know that there’s no such thing as unplanned.”

Embedded video

Matthew West

@matthew_west

As long as my God holds the world in His hands, I know there’s no such thing as Unplanned.
Watch the music video for Unplanned from the @UnplannedMovie at the link below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttXoXMBfZ8Q 

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At least 1,000 theaters are slated to screen the film “Unplanned” starting March 29. The film is rated “R” but a group of conservative leaders are contesting the rating.

Visit UnplannedFilm.com for more details.

Celebrate the Annunciation as the Day of the Unborn Child!

March 25, which is nine months before the celebration of the Birth of Christ, is the Annunciation, when Jesus was conceived within the body of the Virgin Mary as she accepted her call to be the Mother of God.

Priests for Life, along with many other pro-life groups, urges believers to celebrate this day as a Day of the Unborn Child, with special observances that highlight the Church’s pro-life teachings.

In 2019 take a journey through pregnancy from March 25th (Day of the Unborn Child) to Christmas Day, 2019 A coalition of national pro-life groups are urging people to observe March 25th as the “Day of the Unborn Child” (already celebrated in various countries), and then to journey through the nine months of pregnancy, until Christmas Day, with prayer, outreach, and education, so that people may learn about the development of the unborn child. For project details see www.BabyChris.org.

Fr. Frank

The Magisterium’s most comprehensive statement on the sanctity of life, the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, was issued on March 25, 1995, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. This feast marks the moment at which the Incarnation took place. At Mary’s “Fiat,” God began existing in a human nature – a human nature at the earliest stages of its development within Mary’s body.

“Mary’s consent at the Annunciation and her motherhood stand at the very beginning of the mystery of life which Christ came to bestow on humanity” (Evangelium Vitae, 102).

At a time when our society is beset with the evil of abortion, and when the human embryo is treated as a mere object for scientific research, Priests for Life believes that the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation is more important than ever. By celebrating this Feast with special solemnity, and by spending more time meditating on its doctrinal and spiritual lessons, the faithful can be even more solidly rooted in their pro-life convictions, and spurred on to effective action in defense of life.

We pray that the pastors of the Church will lead their congregations in special pro-life observances on this Solemnity each year.

A special prayer that can be used as you observe this Feast:

Redeemer in the Womb

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that when Mary, your Mother, said “Yes” at the Annunciation, You took our human nature upon Yourself. You shared our life and death, our childhood and adulthood.

You also shared our time in the womb. While still God, while worshiped and adored by the angels, while Almighty and filling every part of the universe, You dwelt for nine months in the womb of Mary. You were our Redeemer in the womb, our God who was a preborn child.

Lord Jesus, we ask You to bless and protect the children who today are in their mothers’ womb. Save them from the danger of abortion.

Give their mothers the strength, like Mary, to say “Yes” to you. Give them grace to sacrifice themselves, in body and soul, for their children.

Help all people to recognize in the preborn child a brother, a sister, saved by You, our Redeemer in the womb, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

The Critical Role of Down Syndrome in opening the door to Legalized Abortion

By Leticia Velasquez, Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome)

When abortion was unthinkable in the fifties, abortion activists had to find a chink in the armor of society’s love for the unborn child to justify abortion. They had to find the original hard case.

They looked to the children who were less loved than others, the children we abandoned at birth and sent to institutions, those with Down syndrome. After all, a mere 10 years earlier such people had been designated “life unworthy of life.” They were forced into institutions which, under the Nazi’s infamous T4 Program, operated as death camps where they were systematically chosen for death and killed by their doctors and nurses.

No longer executed yet considered ineducable in the sixties, mothers allowed doctors to convince them that it was “for the best” to institutionalize newborns with Down syndrome. Oftentimes a death certificate was issued so that the parents could cut ties with their child. See the film. ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” for an idea of the mentality of that era.

It wasn’t until Geraldo Rivera’s expose documentary of the horrible conditions at Willowbrook that the public began to reconsider inviting individuals with Down syndrome into society. But tragically it was too late: a combination of scientific advances sealed the fate of generations of unborn babies with Down syndrome.

French physician Dr Jerome Lejeune discovered in 1958 that the cause of Down syndrome was an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. As his daughter Clara Lejeune Gaymard wrote in her memoir, Life is a Blessing,

“He might have called it Lejeune’s syndrome, like so many other diseases that bear the name of the one who discovered them. But what was important to him was restoring the dignity of those who are ill and their families. Trisomy 21 is a genetic accident, it is not contagious, and syphilis is not the cause of it. From now on people would not cross the street any more to avoid contaminations their future offspring when the afflicted child passed with its mother. From not on families would know if their child was ill, they were not at fault. The term mongolism called too much attention to the physical imperfection. Trisomy 21 would be from now on the name. . .” p16

Dr. Lejeune made it possible to identify a child with Down syndrome by their genetic karyotype, or unique genetic footprint. Around the same time, Dr. William Alfred Liley perfected the technique for prenatal diagnosis in New Zealand, hoping as Dr Lejeune did, to treat babies in utero. He had become famous for developing a treatment of inter-uterine blood transfusion for Rh-negative babies.

But these Catholic family men found their discoveries led to a reversal of their noble intentions. “Thanks to amniocentesis and karyotyping the technology was in place for eliminating “undesirable specimens” before birth. Their discoveries were diverted from their original objective.” (Life is a Blessing, p. 40)

In a desperate attempt to stop the militant march of abortion legalization, both Drs. Lejeune and Liley became leaders in the burgeoning pro-life movement in the 1960’s but the die had already been cast. Prenatal testing and abortion were possible. Elimination of the “unwanted” baby was possible. The abortion activists had the hard case they would use to pry open the door to unlimited abortion.

For years since the discovery that as women age, the likelihood of bearing a child with Down syndrome increases, doctors had been scaring women with that statistic. Some doctors considered age of the mother as a reason to abort in case they might be carrying a child with Down syndrome. Now, the certainty that a child with Down syndrome could be diagnosed in utero, prenatal testing was hailed as ‘life-saving.’

Its cost to the lives of unborn babies with Down syndrome was disregarded, the only babies worth saving were those deemed perfect. The doors to legal abortion were pried open for such tragic cases.

In the ensuing years the language has changed little. Abortion is touted as lifesaving even though thousands of babies are aborted every year and those with Down syndrome are aborted at a rate close to 90% after prenatal screening and diagnosis. New prenatal screening tests, such as Materni T21. boast of a 99% accuracy rate using only the mother’s blood in the 10th week of pregnancy increasing the “opportunity” to abort babies with Down syndrome.

Drs. Lejeune and Liley collaborated in trying to save babies who were being killed because of the tragic misuse of the discoveries they meant to save lives. Dr. Lejeune dedicated the rest of his career until his death in 1994, to finding a cure for Down syndrome.

He said, “I see only one way left to save them, and that is to cure them. The task is immense—but so is Hope.”

Editor’s note. Leticia Velasquez is the author of “A Special Mother is Born.”

Archbishop Chaput to College Students: Following God’s Will Is Answer to Dark Times

BISMARCK, N.D. — There’s a scene in the middle of The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy series written by Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien, where the quest to destroy an evil, all-powerful ring seems to be utterly hopeless. Darkness and danger have surrounded and hounded Frodo, the little hobbit ultimately given the mission to destroy the ring, ever since he set foot out of the Shire, the idyllic and safe home he left behind for this quest.
This was the scene Archbishop Charles Chaput set for students at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, as he spoke to them about their vocations and the purpose of their lives Wednesday evening.

In a moment of despair, Archbishop Chaput noted, Frodo turns to his most faithful friend, Samwise Gamgee, a hobbit who has refused to leave Frodo’s side, and asks him whether it’s even worth continuing with the seemingly impossible mission.

Sam says yes, “because there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

The Dakotas, Archbishop Chaput noted earlier in his address, are much like the idyllic Shire from which those hobbits hail: safe, in many ways idyllic, and seldom the center of attention.

“I’ve served as bishop in three different dioceses, and each has been a great blessing of friends and experiences. I’ve loved them all. But my first love is the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota,” he said.

“There’s a beauty and sanity to the Dakotas that you can’t find anywhere else. I also think the devil tends to focus on places like New York and Washington and to see places like Bismarck as less important, which is his mistake. It means a lot of very good things can get done here, right under his nose,” he said.

But just as the Hobbits did not remain in the Shire, he noted, so, too, are Christians eventually called to go out from their homes and places of formation to engage the world and spread the Gospel.

“The day comes when (the Hobbits are) called out of their homes and into a great war between good and evil for the soul of the wider world — a war in which they play the decisive role, precisely because they’re small and so seemingly unimportant,” he said.

But the outside world is in desperate need of remaking, Archbishop Chaput noted, including from within the Catholic Church.

The recent barrage of sex-abuse scandals in the Church can make these seem like very dark times, he said.

“A lot of very good people are angry with their leaders in the Church over the abuse scandal, and justly so. I don’t want to diminish that anger because we need it; it has healthy and righteous roots,” he said.

But the right response to that righteous anger is not a poisonous resentment, but a response of humility and love that purifies the individual as well as the Church, he said, much like St. Catherine of Siena, who, through her holiness and persistence, convinced the Pope to move back to Rome.

“God calls all of us not just to renew the face of the earth with his Spirit, but to renew the heart of the Church with our lives; to make her young and beautiful again and again, so that she shines with his love for the world. That’s our task. That’s our calling. That’s what a vocation is: a calling from God with our name on it.”

There is also much darkness in the world that comes from outside the Church, he noted.

“American life today is troubled by three great questions: What is love? What is truth? And who is Jesus Christ?” he said. “The secular world has answers to each of those great questions. And they’re false.”

The world defines love solely with emotions and sexual compatibility, while it defines truth as something that can only be observed through objective, measurable data, he said. The world also says Jesus Christ was a good man in a long line of good teachers, but is ultimately just a nice superstitious belief rather than a real person who is the Son of God and Savior of the world.

“The key thing about all these secular answers is this: They’re not only false, but dangerous. They reduce our human spirit to our appetites. They lower the human imagination and the search for meaning to what we can consume. And because the human heart hungers for a meaning that secular culture can’t provide, we [as a culture] anesthetize that hunger with noise and drugs and sex and distractions. But the hunger always comes back,” he said.

The secular world offers easy answers, he noted, but it does not offer satisfying answers to some of the most deeply human questions one could ask: “Why am I here? What does my life mean? Why do the people I love grow old and die, and will I ever see them again? The secular world has no satisfying answer to any of these questions. Nor does it even want us to ask such questions because of its self-imposed blindness; it cannot tolerate a higher order than itself — to do so would obligate it to behave in ways it does not want to behave. And so it hates, as Cain did, those who seek to live otherwise.”

The answer to all of these questions, Archbishop Chaput said, is not some theory or equation, but the Person of Jesus Christ.

“He’s the only reliable guide for our journey through the world. Christians follow him, as the apostles did, because, in him and in his example, God speaks directly to us and leads us on the way home to his kingdom. To put it another way, Jesus is not only the embodiment of God, but also the embodiment of who we are meant to be.”

And Jesus’ message is that each life is “unrepeatable and precious [and has] a meaning and a purpose that God intends only for you — only for you,” he said.

For many people, this will mean living out the vocation of marriage and witnessing to Christ among family, friends and places of work, “and you’ll make your mark on the world with an everyday witness of Christian life,” he said.

“Marriage and family are profoundly good things,” he added, and laypeople are called not just to be “helpers” of clergy, but to share an equal responsibility in furthering the mission of the Church.

“Remember that as you consider your future,” he said.

God also calls some to be radical witnesses of holiness in the priesthood or consecrated religious life, he said.

“Religious are a living witness to radical conversion and radical love, a constant proof that the beatitudes are more than just beautiful ideals, but, rather, the path to a new and better kind of life,” he said.

“And priests have the privilege of holding the God of creation in their hands. Without priests, there is no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, there is no Church. And without the Church as a living and organized community, there is no presence of Jesus Christ in the world.”

The keys to finding one’s vocation and purpose in life are silence and prayer, which make room for God’s voice, he said.

“Making time for silence and prayer should be the main Lenten practice for all of us, but especially for anyone seeking God’s will for his or her own life.”

So rather than bemoaning the fact that times are bad, Archbishop Chaput urged the students to remember that they are living at this time for a reason and can, by their holiness and witness of their lives, reshape the times.

“As a bishop, St. Augustine lived at a time when the whole world seemed to be falling apart, and the Church herself was struggling with bitter theological divisions. But whenever his people would complain about the darkness of the times, he’d remind them that the times are made by the choices and actions of the people who inhabit them,” he said.

“In other words, we make the times. We’re the subjects of history, not merely its objects. And unless we consciously work to make the times better with the light of Jesus Christ, then the times will make us worse with their darkness.”

Babies diagnosed with illness in the womb are as valuable as the rest of us

 

(The Daily Signal) The Cut recently ran a piece by Jen Gann, an outspoken, pro-choice mother who details her journey through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and genetic testing as she aims to conceive a healthy child. Her first pregnancy resulted in a son with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disease, and what she considers a missed opportunity to abort him.

In 2017, Gann filed a wrongful [birth] lawsuit against her doctors for inadequate genetic testing that she claims would have likely determined her son had cystic fibrosis and would have then provided her the option to abort him.

responded to her lawsuit two years ago, because this story is very personal to me. Not only because I believe life is the most valuable gift generously bestowed upon mankind, but because I also have a child living with cystic fibrosis.

It pained me, again, to see Gann reiterate in print her desire to end her sick child’s life.

Sadly, we see this far too often. The left pushes a false narrative when it comes to human dignity. Masked in the so-called desire to prevent a sick child from suffering, pro-choice activists actually devalue the sickest among us. Their drive to abort unhealthy babies sends the message that those who live with a medical condition are somehow less than or an unwanted burden.

All human beings, regardless of disease, illness, ailments, and deformities, have the right to life. They too are fearfully and wonderfully made. Their value is in no way decreased because of their disease or any subsequent pain and suffering that disease brings.

Inaccurately, Gann’s piece focuses heavily on women’s empowerment and the amount of influence a woman holds in her ability to make a choice to end or continue a pregnancy.

The reality is that women don’t give life—God does. Yes, we have the biological ability to carry a child in the womb, provide it the nutrients needed to grow and the environment to thrive, as well as give birth. But we do not form a child in the womb, knit together its genetic makeup, or will it to live.

Furthermore, despite the feminist movement’s desire to vilify men, male DNA is also needed to produce a child. The fact that women carry a child does not make way for absolute female control.

I fully agree that women should be empowered, just like all humans should be encouraged and free to reach their upmost potential. But ending the life of another human is not empowerment—it is the highest form of oppression.

 

Terminating a child is devaluing its existence and saying it doesn’t share equal status with others who are currently living. No matter what reason is given for the abortion (choice, convenience, compassion, etc.), the act erases a human life and the lasting mark it would most certainly leave on others.

The abortion industry also claims to promote empowerment for women, but such “empowerment” is extremely exclusive, limited only to those women living outside the womb. The women growing in utero, on the other hand, are completely voiceless, powerless, and subjected only to the will of others, unable to defend themselves.

To no surprise, not once in the piece does Gann focus on the actual horrors of abortion, the pain it brings women and families, and the emotional toll it can take on a person. Instead, she glorifies it as a normal health care procedure and a thankful option she has if the “perfect” child isn’t conceived:

I had a child at home; if, when, this didn’t work, I would be fine. Besides, pre-implantation genetic testing isn’t perfect. If this embryo’s results were discovered to be inaccurate later on, I knew I’d terminate.

This rhetoric normalizes murder in an attempt to make others feel as though it’s natural and easy, when in reality that is not the case.

Our society has a major problem if we continue to sit by silently while abortion is used as a tool to erase the sickest and weakest among us. We must not follow the dark path of countries like Iceland and Demark, which have publically bragged about “eradicating” the Down syndrome gene through abortion.

Every single child, regardless of illness or disability, deserves access to the most basic and fundamental right of mankind, the right to life. And we should tirelessly fight to see that they do.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Daily Signal and is reprinted here with permission.

‘Brain death’ is a medical fiction invented to harvest organs from living people: expert

ROME, March 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Is it morally permissible to harvest the organs of a person in a coma declared “brain dead” by doctors? Why and when did organ transplantation first come about? And what is the Church’s teaching on using organs from a person deemed to be “brain dead”?

These questions and more are answered by Doyen Nguyen during an in-depth interview with the Italian magazine Radici Cristiane (read full interview below), where she blames a “consumerist culture” for causing many to accept the idea of “brain death,” a term she refers to as an incoherent, “medical fiction.”

Nguyen is a lay Dominican and professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. She will be presenting on the topic of “brain death” at the A Medicolegal Construct: Scientific & Philosophical Evidence conference hosted by the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family in Rome May 20-21.

Professor Josef Seifert, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and Fr. Edmund Waldstein, among others, will present to the gathering as well, which will be held at the Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio. Click here to register. 

In the far-reaching interview, Nguyen says that an Ad Hoc Harvard Committee in 1968 redefined the term “brain death” to mean someone in an irreversible coma. Nguyen says this was done in order to serve the interests of the organ transplantation industry and to avoid public outcry that would have viewed transplant surgeons as organ-stealing killers.

Nguyen refutes the invention of the term “brain death” to describe someone in an “irreversible coma” by arguing that the term “irreversible coma” itself “indicates that the patient is alive, for the simple reason that only a living person can become comatose or remain comatose. In other words, it would be an oxymoron to say that a corpse is in coma!”

When a doctor declares a comatose patient to be dead, that patient does not thereby become dead, she said.

Nguyen criticized John Paul II’s 2000 Address to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society for its shortsightedness. Nguyen says John Paul’s remarks, which suggest “brain death” in certain cases “does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology,” did not take into consideration all the literature available on the topic at the time. Nguyen says that the address should be “amended, or better yet, retracted.” Nguyen proceeds to explain how the Church should understand “brain death.”

***

Radici Cristiane’s full interview with Doyen Nguyen

Radici Cristiane (RC): There are people who think that “brain death” is a great deception. Do you agree?

Doyen Nguyen (Nguyen): Yes. “Brain death” has been a medical fiction from its very inception. The evidence for this can be found in the manuscript-drafts of the Ad Hoc Harvard Committee report which introduced “brain death” on August 5, 1968. The Committee, headed by its chairman, Dr. Beecher, worked swiftly on this report from March through June 25, 1968. In the first manuscript-draft, Beecher wrote:

The question before this committee cannot be simply to define brain death. This would not advance the cause of organ transplantation since it would not cope with the essential issue of when the surgical team is authorized—legally, morally, and medically—in removing a vital organ.

In the penultimate manuscript-draft on June 3, 1968, Beecher wrote:

With increased experience and knowledge and development in the field of transplantation, there is great need for the tissues and organs of the hopelessly comatose in order to restore to health those who are still salvageable. (1)

The language in the manuscript-drafts of the Harvard report is thus overtly explicit with regard to the connection between organ donation and the “birth” of “brain death.” In other words, the real reason why the Harvard Committee redefined irreversible coma as death (and gave it a new name, “brain death”) is for a two-fold purpose: (i) to have fresh, viable organs more readily available for the transplantation enterprise, and (ii) at the same time, to avoid any public outcry that transplant surgeons were organ-stealing killers.

In the final draft which became the Harvard report, the explicitly utilitarian language in the earlier drafts was toned down by Ebert (then the dean of the Harvard Medical School), in order to make it seem that transplantation was not the primary cause of the “birth” of “brain death.”

So, in a nutshell, “brain death” is a construct to serve the interest of organ transplantation.

RC: What is the scientific/medical evidence showing that “brain death” is not true human death?

Nguyen: Here I will answer you with a long quote taken from a peer-reviewed article written by Kompanje and De Groot. They are supporters of organ transplantation and therefore, of “brain death.” Yet, because of academic honesty, they have to admit that “brain death” is a construct for the purpose of organ transplantation. They wrote:

Suppose one of your loved ones is admitted to an ICU with a subarachnoid hemorrhage and you are sitting next to her bed, overwhelmed by emotions and holding her hand. She is deeply comatose, connected to a ventilator; intravenous vasopressors are needed to keep her blood pressure stable. You are hoping for the best, but fear the worst. And the worst comes. The intensivist tells you her brain is dead. Then he asks you for permission to take out her organs. You, and your loved one, had never thought about this scenario of dying. You had heard about brain death, but you don’t have a picture of it in your head. You ask the doctor: “when will she die”? He answers: “she is already dead.” You don’t believe him because there are so many signs of life. Her skin is warm, her heart is beating. […] Taking out her organs while her heart is still beating seems like a scene from a cheap horror film. […] We are, as most intensivists, greatly in favor of organ donation for transplantation. The whole concept of organ donation is founded on the concept that the potential organ donor is really dead at the moment that brain death is declared. This is pivotal in order to gain even remote public acceptance of organ donation. They have to be ensured that their loved one is dead before the organs are taken out. But, the bare fact that many brain-dead patients can continue to perform a variety of integrative functions over indefinite time periods, including maintaining body temperature, persistent and adequate hypothalamic hormonal function, regulating salt and water homoeostasis, digesting administered food, healing wounds, increase of infection markers and healing infections, stress responses to bodily interventions such as surgery and gestating fetuses in pregnant brain-dead women, makes some wonder whether a brain-dead patient is as ‘dead’ as the doctors say. Or they mistrust the statement that the patient has been pronounced ‘dead.’ For example, it is very difficult to see a ‘brain-dead’ pregnant woman, in whose womb a fetus grows over a time period for 2–3 months after the determination of brain death, as ‘a cadaver.’ There are just too many signs of life. Declaring these patients ‘dead’ solely on the basis of ‘a definition’ seems to contradict our common sense of what it is to be alive. Brain death is, since the first definitions in the scientific literature in 1968, closely related to organ donation. This is why, some scholars considers equating brain death to death as a moral and legal fiction. […] Without the needs of transplantation medicine, ‘brain death as death’ would not exist at all, but would be seen as […] irreversible […] coma (le coma dépassé). (2)

In fact, the above quote should remind us of the opening statement in the Harvard report which states: “Our primary purpose is to define irreversible coma as a new criterion for death.” Note however, the term “irreversible coma” itself indicates that the patient is alive, for the simple reason that only a living person can become comatose or remain comatose. In other words, it would be an oxymoron to say that a corpse is in coma!

Moreover, both life and death are realities the nature of which is mind-independent. The world is what it is regardless of what anyone says or thinks about it, and that world includes phenomena such as life, death, diseases, and all natural things from inorganic matter to human persons. Such natural entities are not open to revision or stipulation. In other words, death (understood as a biological phenomenon) is not the kind of thing that occurs by fiat like in the case of marriage. When a doctor declares a comatose patient (whose heart is beating, and whose skin is warm and pink) to be dead, that patient does not thereby become dead.

RC: A threefold question regarding John Paul II’s 2000 Address to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society, the problem which this Address has caused, and what should the Catholic faithful do?

Nguyen: For a detailed answer to this question please read my article: Doyen Nguyen, “Pope John Paul II and the Neurological Standard for the Determination of Death: A Critical Analysis of His Address to the Transplantation Society,” Linacre Quarterly 84, no. 2 (2017): 155–186. A more expanded treatment of the topic can be found in my book: Doyen Nguyen, The New Definitions of Death for Organ Donation: A Multidisciplinary Analysis from the Perspective of Christian Ethics (Bern: Peter Lang, 2018) on pages 457-483.

In this interview, I can only give you a brief synoptic answer to this very complex question. The bulk of my answer is found in sections 3.2 and 3.3.

3.1 First point: About the hierarchy of the different types of Magisterial teaching

The ordinary teaching of the Church’s Magisterium includes several gradations, from the higher end (e.g., the teaching of an encyclical such as Veritatis Splendor) to the lower end which consist of interventions in the prudential order, in which some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies since they might not have taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a particular issue (see Donum Veritatis, no. 24). In addition, the importance of a particular Church’s teaching can also be inferred from the insistence with which it has been repeated.

In this regard, John Paul II’s address to the Transplantation Society in 2000 belongs to the category of interventions of the prudential order. Moreover, the Pope’s statement (contained in that address) with regard to “brain death” has occurred once and only once in the whole of the teaching of the Magisterium. In particular, John Paul II did not even make a reference to that statement in his 2005 address to the participants of the conference “the Signs of Death” (February 2005) sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

3.2 Second point: John Paul II’s statement in his 2000 address

John Paul II’s statement in his 2000 address is as follows:

Vital organs which occur singly in the body can be removed only after death, that is from the body of someone who is certainly dead. […] The death of the person is a single event, consisting in the total disintegration of that unitary and integrated whole that is the personal self. It results from the separation of the life-principle (or soul) from the corporal reality of the person. […] For some time certain scientific approaches to ascertaining death have shifted the emphasis from the traditional cardio-respiratory signs to the so-called ‘neurological’ criterion. Specifically, this consists in establishing, according to clearly determined parameters commonly held by the international scientific community, the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity. […] It can be said that the criterion adopted in more recent times for ascertaining the fact of death, namely the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology.

There are several key points in the Pope’s statement:

(a) Death is the separation of the soul from the body. In other words, the Pope’s teaching on death is grounded in Christian anthropology, according to which: (a) man is the substantial unity of body and soul and, (b) the soul is the life principle of the body. In medical/scientific terms, the separation of the soul from the body manifests itself as the loss of somatic integration, i.e., the process of corruption of the material constituents which once composed the living body.

(b) Vital organs can only be removed after death. In this regard, it is necessary to understand that because human beings belong to the same genus of warm blood mammals, the biological manifestations of the death phenomenon in a human being are no different from that observed in other mammals such as a pet dog or a pet cat – no heartbeat, no respiration, no movements, no responses to any stimulation. The temperature of the dead body quickly drops to the same level as the ambient temperature; and livor mortis and rigor mortis set in within a few hours.

(c) The Pope’s endorsement of the neurological criterion for the determination of death (i.e., “brain death”) is a conditional endorsement, clearly indicated by the conjunction “if” and the verb “does not seem.” According to the Pope’s statement, in order to be acceptable, the “brain death” criterion must fulfill three requirements:

(i) the loss of somatic integration, i.e., the physical evidence that the soul has left the body;

(ii) a consensus of the parameters that constitute the “brain death” criterion (i.e., in the Pope’s words: “clearly determined parameters commonly held by the international scientific community”). The parameters here refer to the clinical tests used for determining “brain death;” and

(iii) the rigorous application of these parameters.

3.3 Confronting John Paul II’s 2000 statement and the reality of “brain death”

3.3.1 Without going into details, suffice it to mention that even brain-death advocates have to acknowledge that there is no global consensus on the parameters of the “brain death” paradigm, but rather a confusion of practice. For instance, in a well-known study by Greer and colleagues, within the United States alone, there is wide variability in the practice and determination of “brain death” among the top 50 institutions for neurology and neurosurgery. The most worrisome aspect of this wide variability is the variability in apnea testing, recognized by Greer and colleagues as “an area with the greatest possibility for inaccuracies.” (3)

Moreover, the parameters can only be clearly determined if they have undergone rigorous validation prior to being introduced into clinical practice. Such a validation process was never done prior to the introduction of “brain death” by the Harvard Committee. No validation study has been performed since that time either.

3.3.2 Perhaps the most grievous aspect regarding John Paul II’s 2000 Address is the fact that it did not take into account the wealth of peer-reviewed literature, published prior to 2000, which clearly provided the evidence that “brain death” is not death. Examples of such literature include:

(i) Shewmon’s 1998 report of a series of chronic “brain death” survivors;

(ii) many reports since the 1980s on brain-dead pregnant mothers who, with aggressive life support, were able to carry their pregnancy until the time when their babies could be safely delivered by Cesarean section;

(iii) many critiques of “brain death” authored by scholars who supported organ transplantation, but who, in conformity to academic honesty and scientific realism, publicly acknowledged that “brain death is a social construct created for utilitarian purposes, primarily to permit organ transplantation.” (4)

(iv) The most important publication which the Pope’s 2000 Address should have known about and should have taken into account is the document of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology published in 1995 to provide the guidelines for determining “brain death.” According to the guidelines, the presence of – “spontaneous movements of the limbs and reflexes of the limbs (e.g., rapid flexion in arms, raising of all limbs off the bed, grasping movements, spontaneous jerking of one leg, etc.) as well as responses such as profuse sweating, blushing, tachycardia, and sudden increases in blood pressure” – is compatible with the diagnosis of brain death.” (5)

A review done by Saposnik in 2009 shows that up to 80% of brain-dead patients can manifest such movements. Although movements in any particular brain-dead patient may be very infrequent, they nevertheless occur.

Put simply, according to the guidelines for the determination of “brain death,” the brain-dead patient can be declared dead even though he or she may have movements from the arms and legs. The obvious question that any average person should ask is: how is it that a corpse can move? And the obvious question which every Christian should ask is: if the soul has left the body, then what is the principle which accounts for the spontaneous movements and reflexes of the arms and legs in the brain-dead patient? According to the sound tenets of the Church’s anthropology, the soul is the principle by which the body lives, and the principle of our nourishment, sensation, and local movement; and likewise of our understanding. (6)

There, without the soul, there can be no movements, no sweating, no blood flow, no heartbeat, etc.

In a nutshell, given that the brain death criterion admits the presence of spontaneous movements and reflexes, then in what way can it be claimed that “the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology”? (7)

Such a statement can only reflect a gross oversight of the medical, scientific, and bioethical literature publicly available before 2000. For this very reason, such a statement needs to be seriously amended, or better yet, retracted – for the good of the Church and her children, the faithful.

Truth is the conformity of the mind to reality (veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus). Given that (i) John Paul II’s 2000 address ranks at the lower end of ordinary Magisterial teaching (the kind which may contain inaccuracies), (ii) the teaching was mentioned once and only once in the entire Magisterial teaching of the Church, (iii) John Paul II himself did not even allude to it in his subsequent address in 2005, and (iv) the statement itself contradicts the medical reality of brain-dead patients, then indeed it cannot be said that the teaching in the 2000 address has any binding force on Catholic believers.

RC: About the interests and pressures on the Church and society in general, such “brain death” is universally accepted?

Nguyen: It should be evident to readers by now that “brain death” is a medico-legal fiction, a social construct for utilitarian purposes. It does not take much imagination to figure out that the transplantation enterprise is a multi-billion dollar (or Euro) business. Even the most staunched defender of “brain death,” Bernat, had to admit (albeit very reluctantly) that the concept of “brain death” is incoherent; but, according to him, in the real world of public law and policy, we must compromise so that death can be declared and organs procured. (8)

It is not correct to say that “brain death” is universally accepted. As Brugger points out, doubt about “brain death” has become an international consensus, in the sense that quite a number scholars in medicine, philosophy, and bioethics from countries worldwide have recognized that the “brain death” paradigm is unsound. (9)

It would be more correct to say that “brain death” has been universally imposed by legislation in different countries. The materialistic, utilitarian mindset of a consumerist culture has led to the so-called worldwide acceptance of “brain death.” It is part and parcel with the culture of death. Surprisingly, somehow this mentality has also penetrated into the Church, probably under the guise of charity and solidarity, especially since in the writings of John Paul II, organ donation has been exalted as a new way for man to make a sincere gift of himself and fulfill his constitutive calling to love and communion and, moreover, the gift of vital organs donated after death gives the donors the possibility to project beyond death their vocation to love. (10)

Certainly, as taught in the Catechism no. 2296, the Church encourages organ donation, because it is a noble act of charity and solidarity. But, it is not morally admissible to bring about the death of a human being, not even in order to delay the death of other persons. In a nutshell, it is not morally permissible to do evil to achieve a good. “Brain death” does exactly that: the deeply comatose patient (usually a young patient who has suffered a traumatic brain injury) is declared dead, so that his or her organs can be removed for transplantation purposes.

Notes:

(1) the drafts of the Harvard report are part of what is known as the “Beecher manuscripts,” preserved at the Francis Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard. They are not accessible to the public, they are made available only to some selected scholars.

(2) the quote is taken from: Erwin J.O. Kompanje and Yorik J. de Groot, Sounding board: is mandatory recovery of organs for transplantation acceptable? Intensive Care Medicine (2015) 41:1836–1837.

(3) data taken from David M. Greer, Panayiotis N. Varelas, Shamael Haque, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks, Variability of brain death determination guidelines in leading US neurologic institutions. Neurology 70, no. 4 (2008): 284–89]. Ironically, the apnea test is a cornerstone bedside clinical test for making the declaration of “brain death.”

(4) quoted from Robert Taylor, “Reexamining the Definition and Criteria of Death,” Seminars in Neurology 17, no. 3 (1997): 265.

(5) this quote is derived from Eelco F. M. Wijdicks, “Determining Brain Death in Adults,” Neurology 45, no. 5 (1995): 1007.

(6) see Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q.76, a.1.

(7) this is the statement taken from the 2000 Address.

(8) see James L. Bernat, “The Whole-Brain Concept of Death Remains Optimum Public Policy,” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 34, no. 1 (2006): 41

(9) see E. Christian Brugger, “Are Brain Dead Individuals Dead? Grounds for Reasonable Doubt,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41, no. 3 (2016): 355

(10) see John Paul II, “To Participants of the First International Congress of the Society for Organ Sharing (20 June 1991) 

Abortion is bad for women’s health. Here’s why.

Sarah Ruiz

March 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Did you know that having an abortion carries serious health risks? I found over the years of following the news on abortion that the health risks of getting an abortion are cast aside. Research shows that getting an abortion carries serious health complications.

You may wonder why the media and many health experts neglect to give this warning. Abortion clinics, which include Planned Parenthood, are in business to make a profit. Therefore, it is not in their best interest to provide information that may make the patient think about alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.

Putting the moral argument aside for now, there is growing evidence that shows that women who have abortions are at much higher risk to develop serious physical and emotional problems in the future.

Abortion breast cancer link

A meta-analysis was conducted of Chinese females between induced abortion (IA) and breast cancer risk. The conclusion?

“IA is significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among Chinese females, and the risk of breast cancer increases as the number of IA increases. If IA were to be confirmed as a risk factor for breast cancer, high rates of IA in China may contribute to increasing breast cancer rates.”

Emotional/spiritual toll

Many women who have had abortions resort to drugs and alcohol and even try to take their own lives. In one study, 49% of post-abortive women abused drugs and 39% started using or increasing their alcohol intake. About 14% admit that they have been addicted to drugs or alcohol. 60% suffered from suicidal tendencies and 28% in the study attempted suicide. Of those that attempted suicide, half continued attempted suicide two or more times.

Isolation is a side effect that occurs for a number of women who have had abortions. They keep their struggles and demons internal, pretending their life is normal and happy. They also could be completely out of touch with their feelings and only feel numb. The research shows that many women go through a 5 to 10 year period of denial where they will repress their emotions.

Studies have found within weeks following an abortion, 40 to 60% of women report negative outcomes. 2 months after, 55% felt guilty, 44% had nervous disorder reactions, 36% had sleep problems, 31% experienced regret, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic drugs.

Women who have had abortions have a harder time connecting to their already born children or their future children. There is evidence that women can be violent against their own children as a result of having an abortion. One woman beat her 3-year-old to death after her abortion. Another woman jumped off a bridge with her two children, aged 2 and 5, a week after her second abortion, apparently in order to punish herself (the mother and 5-year-old survived). In both cases, experts concluded their behavior was in response to their abortions.

Physical toll

Myth: Abortion is less risky than giving birth.

Fact: Abortion is much riskier than giving birth.

Possible side effects 2-4 weeks after an abortion according to American Pregnancyare abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and spotting and bleeding. More serious complications from an abortion include heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to other organs, and death – yes even death.

Approximately 3-5% of women who have had abortions suffer from sterility. If a woman has an STI at the time of the abortion, her risk is even greater. If a woman contracts an infection from an abortion, her risk of an ectopic pregnancy is 4 times greater. Cervical damage is another complication of abortion. Due to forced dilation of the cervix, the cervical muscles become microscopically torn nearly every time. Sometimes the dilation results in the uterine wall being severely ripped. Because of the weakening of the cervix, a woman who has had an abortion is more likely to suffer from a miscarriage or premature birth in future pregnancies.

Placenta previa risk

There is an increased chance of having placenta previa in future pregnancies if a woman is post-abortive. Placenta previa is a serious problem during pregnancy where the placenta covers some or all of the opening to the cervix.

Death

Tonya ReavesCree ErwinJennifer Morbelli, and Lakisha Wilson all died from complications of abortion. Here is a partial list of women who have also died from abortion. These women’s lives mattered and so did the lives of their babies. To say that abortion is a “safe” procedure because it is legal is not only incorrect but dangerous. The mainstream media makes women think that abortion is no more serious than going in to get their teeth cleaned at the dentist. Women have died. Some have had irreparable damage to their bodies. Lives have been changed forever.

Childhood leukemia risk

Having abortions could also harm your future children. According to a meta-analysis in 2014, there may be an increased risk for childhood leukemia if the mother had an abortion. The risks for childhood acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia were strongly associated with maternal abortions.

Think twice

There are many grave health risks involved in having an abortion. It is not simply just a medical procedure. It is surgery in many cases with very serious health risks and complications. The mainstream media and abortion organizations are not upfront about this. They try to cover any health risks abortion poses because it would discourage women from seeking abortions if they told the truth.

Abortion also ends the life of the new human person developing inside your body. Abortion has health risks for the woman and is certainly never healthy, but deadly, for the fetus. It is my hope in writing this article that anyone considering an abortion will think twice and reflect on the potential health consequences.

If you have had an abortion or been affected by one, you should also know that there is healing through programs such as Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More. Countless people have attended retreats by these organizations and participated in their programs and have found true peace.

If you or someone you know are pregnant and need help, I have listed crisis pregnancy resources below.

There is also hope for abortion workers. Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director, runs the organization And Then There Were None to provide financial and emotional support for abortion workers who are feeling trapped and wanting to leave.

Sarah Ruiz is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Weston A. Price chapter leader for High Point, NC and is an active blogger through her website Health By Sarah

Court Lets Ohio Defund Planned Parenthood in Major Pro-Life Victory

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com 

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld an Ohio law that strips Planned Parenthood of state funding, handing pro-lifers in the state a major victory three years after the law was passed.

Former Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the law, which prohibits money from the Department of Health going to organizations that perform or promote abortions. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, gets roughly $1.5 million from the department each year.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the 11-6 majority, ruled that the law does not violate the U.S. Constitution because it does not prohibit women from obtaining abortions. The ruling overturned a lower court decision.

“Planned Parenthood must show that the Ohio law, if implemented, would impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion,” wrote Sutton, who was nominated by President George W. Bush. “Its vow to keep performing abortions sinks any pre-enforcement action, and any speculation about what would happen if it changed its mind is just that.”

Further, Sutton wrote, Ohio “may choose to subsidize what it wishes – whether abortion services or adoption services, whether stores that sell guns or stores that don’t,” as long as “the subsidy program does not otherwise violate a constitutional right of the regulated entity.”

“The Supreme Court has never identified a freestanding right to perform abortions,” Sutton wrote. “To the contrary, it has indicated that there is no such thing.”

Four of the 11 judges in the majority were nominated by President Trump, according to Politico.

Pro-life and religious liberty groups applauded the decision.

“Ohio Right to Life is absolutely thrilled that Planned Parenthood will not get any more of our state tax dollars,” said Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “Thanks to this very encouraging decision, Ohioans of conscience won’t have to worry about whether their tax dollars are going towards abortions.”

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, agreed.

“We celebrate that the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Ohio law that blocks nearly $1.5 million in taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood,” Staver said. “Planned Parenthood does not have a constitutional right to receive taxpayer funds for abortions and the state of Ohio should withhold all public funding. Not one penny of taxpayer dollars should ever go to fund the killing of innocent children.

Aborted babies are still being used in today’s vaccine production: Expert

Diane Montagna

ROME, March 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The “sordid history” of vaccine production using aborted babies began with eugenicists like Planned Parenthood foundress Margaret Sanger and has become a billion-dollar industry that threatens parents’ rights and fills the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and abortion providers, a leading advocate for ethical vaccines has said.

Speaking to a packed hall in Rome on Wednesday, March 13, Debi Vinnedge of “Children of God for Life” revealed the “horrific history” of vaccine production using aborted fetuses, sought to separate myth from fact using documentation from scientists directly involved in vaccine research, and explained why aborted babies are still being used in vaccine production today.

LifeSite spoke with Debi Vinnedge ahead of her talk at the Rome conference. In our interview, Vinnedge briefly sketches out the “horrific history” of vaccine research using aborted fetuses, including the “barbaric” practice of ensuring babies were aborted alive so that their organs might be harvested without anesthetic.

Speaking to the legality of aborted fetal research, Vinnedge explains that it has been federally funded in the US since 1993, when President Clinton signed it into law after intense lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry.”

“There is a huge market worth billions of dollars due to the creation of patents, sale of the cell lines by companies that actually store and resell aborted fetal material,” Vinnedge said.

“Even the medical profession and our Catholic Church” is unaware of the “horrific history of forced abortions involved in vaccine research and thousands more that led to the ultimate final production,” Vinnedge said.

“The truth needs to be made known about this sordid history and it is my goal to see that is done, and ultimately to put an end to this barbaric practice.”

Vinnedge explained further that a “major roadblock” to “making progress to stop this injustice” is “the tacit approval of using the aborted fetal vaccines when there is no alternative.”

In fact, as recently as 2017 the Pontifical Academy for Life — under the leadership of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia — made a disturbing shift in support of aborted fetal vaccines, on the grounds that “in the past vaccines may have been prepared from cells from aborted human fetuses,” but today “the cell lines used are very distant from the original abortions.”

“Until our physicians and clergy leaders unite worldwide demanding the moral alternatives, the pharmaceutical industry is not going to change,” Vinnedge insists. “In fact, as history and the current trends are proving, it’s only going to get worse.”

Here below is LifeSite’s interview with Debi Vinnedge and a video of her presentation at the March 13 conference sponsored by Renovatio 21, under the theme: “Faith, Science and Conscience: using aborted fetuses for pharmaceutical production.”  

LifeSiteNews (LSN): Debi, what personally led you to found ‘Children of God for Life’?

Debi Vinnedge (DB): I have always been pro-life but in 1999 when I read about proposed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research I was deeply disturbed. And I was even more upset to learn that none of my prolife friends had ever heard of this, nor did they even know what a stem cell was.  Back then, there just wasn’t much information available and so, with the help of Richard Doerflinger who was then at the USCCB prolife office, and members of the Catholic Medical Association, I began to educate the public and massive protest campaigns began. When the Clinton administration tabled the idea a couple of months later, I was happy and thought my work was over. But within weeks I learned about the use of aborted fetal cells in vaccines and medicines and I knew God had a plan and my work was cut out for me. Children of God for Life was founded with the sole purpose of educating the public and putting an end to this gross exploitation of our unborn.

LSN: There is considerable debate surrounding vaccines. Some people are completely against vaccines, others are completely for them, while still others are somewhere in the middle. What is your general position on vaccines? 

LSN: In your presentation, you discuss some of the history of experimentation with aborted fetuses, and how this led to using aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines. Can you share with our readers the main points of this history? 

DB: This is probably one of the most shameful eras in the history of our country dating back over 100 years to a time when the eugenics movement became widespread under people like Harry Laughlin and Margaret Sanger. People with any type of handicap and unfortunately, women who were unwed mothers were deemed “feeble-minded” and “unfit to breed.” They force-sterilized these women and in many of these women, they also force-aborted their babies. At the same time, there was a worldwide polio epidemic and scientists began working on producing a polio vaccine. In the 1930s they openly admit to using these aborted fetuses in their polio vaccine research.

In one such science publication the researcher noted that “In many cases the (fetuses’) hearts were still beating at time of receipt in the polio research labs.” This is absolutely unconscionable! What they were trying to do is create what is known as a “cell line” for culturing the polio virus. To explain, viruses grow well on various types of tissues — both human and animal as well as other culture mediums. So in order to produce thousands of doses, scientists established cell lines taken from various tissues in several organs such as heart, thymus, retinal and lung. They culture the cells from the tissue in the labs and once there is a healthy stable growth, this is now a cell line that can be frozen and then reconstituted and used over and over in the future. But, just as all humans have finite lifespans, so do the normal human cells used in vaccines. Most of the vaccines today that use aborted fetal cell lines were derived from the aborted babies’ lung tissue.

LSN: How widespread is research on aborted fetuses today? And how are aborted fetal cell lines being used today? Are there particular vaccines that contain them? How can parents inform themselves about which vaccines are safe and ethical and which are not?

DB: Because of the finite lifespan of these cell lines which Leonard Hayflick discovered in his research on cell senescence, scientists have developed more and more aborted fetal cell lines to replace the current WI-38 (Wistar Institute, specimen number 38) and MRC-5 (Medical Research Council, specimen number 5) which were created over 50 years ago. The newest to be introduced by China is WALVAX 2 – from a 3 month gestation female baby lung tissue, the 9th abortion that was part of their research.  It is intended to replace these two cell lines. In addition, there are several vaccines and medicines using other aborted fetal cell lines such as PER C6, HEK-293, IMR-90, IMR-91, WI-26 and lambda hE.1. But unless one reads the package insert or in some cases, the actual patents, they would have no way of knowing and doctors do not give that information prior to vaccination. Children of God for Life keeps an updated list on our website that can be viewed here— or from the home page click on the “Vaccine” tab, then “Vaccine Chart.”

LSN: Is the US government supporting it? And does US law require that parents be informed of what vaccines contain? 

DB: Aborted fetal research has been federally funded in the US since 1993 when President Clinton signed it into law after intense lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry. And while right now, there is no legal obligation for physicians to advise parents, many prolife doctors do!  In addition, there is legislation pending in at least one state – Illinois, HB0342 that would require vaccine recipients to be fully informed.  See the proposed bill here.

LSN: Who is profiting from the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines and more broadly by aborted fetal research?

DB: Universities, biotech companies, the pharmaceutical industry and of course, Planned Pare