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Archive for May, 2011

Father Steven E. Clark

Today, I’m privileged to present a guest article written by Father Steven E. Clark. Father Clark is Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Mount Kisco, New York. He is a 1976 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis MD, a former Marine Corps Major, helicopter pilot and naval flight instructor, as well as master of Sacred Scripture. He’s also a priest’s priest, best friend whom I met in the seminary and Joseph’s Godfather. He brings an important perspective to bear on this ongoing debate.

Here is Father Clark:

Recently Dr. Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D., posted the blog entry, “Outlawing Abortion: Making the Case for an Incremental Approach.” The graphic is very apropos, and his reasoning I find very sound, quite in agreement with the moral Principle of Double Effect. Now before the “all-or-nothing” crowd blasts off to a region somewhere beyond the Plutonian orbit, let’s all take a breath and review the principle of double effect as I remember it from Msgr. William B. Smith’s course on Fundamental Moral Theology.

There are four conditions for the legitimate use of the principle of double effect.

First, the act itself must be morally good or at least morally indifferent (neutral). What could be better than working to save an innocent human life?

Second, the evil effect must not be intended for itself but only/merely intended. Here the person working to rescind the laws permitting abortion has taken a approach to incrementally rescind parts of the law(s) permitting abortions because for the past 30 years the all-or-nothing approach at overturning such laws has met with vociferous opposition and repeated failure. So, a person working to incrementally rescind/overturn abortion laws (I’ll call them “incrementalists” for the purpose of this article), intends to save lives within the realm of possibility, not directly intending the death of others, but looking forward to an eventual overturning of all laws permitting abortion.

In the book, “Schindler’s List,” by Thomas Keneally and in the Steven Spielberg movie, Oskar Schindler worked to save approximately 1,200 Jewish men and women from certain death, knowing that he couldn’t save all Jews he saw in the labor camp, directed by the sadistic commandant, Amon Goeth. Schindler worked to save the men and women he could save by running a bogus munitions factory run by Jewish labor, while looking forward to an end to the war when such atrocities would no longer occur.

Third, the good effect of one’s actions must not be produced by means of the evil effect. Again the good desired is the saving of those lives with in the realm of possibility given the present circumstances and conditions in our society. The lives that are being saved are saved in the hope of one day overturning all laws permitting abortions, thereby preserving the possibility to life for all babies in the wombs of their mothers.

Fourth, there must be a proportionately grave reason for permitting (not agreeing with) the evil effect. For years the all-or-nothing approach to the repeal of abortion laws has been repeatedly rejected by those in who hold the majority in the legislative and judicial branches of government. Therefore, moving to first outlaw “partial-birth abortions”, then third trimester abortions and then earlier ones seems to be more workable and realistic, given the present attitudes of society. Dr. Nadal admirable puts forth this principle of incrementalism in his article.

We could talk about a judiciary unconstitutionally wresting legislative power from our legislative branch and a legislative branch unwilling to justly discipline a judiciary run amok, but that would be grist for a future missive on a blog dedicated to the explanation of the inner workings of our representative republic, we call the United States of America.

Oskar Schindler, at the end of the movie, is shown distraught at not having saved more people from extermination, dissatisfied with the number he had saved. The incrementalists are not satisfied with saving just a few lives, we want to save all babies from the abortionists. However, a frontal assault on the lucrative abortion industry has so far met with little success. Why not try the incremental approach at rescinding the laws permitting abortions with the intention of abolishing the abortion industry in the future?

Ladies and gentlemen the “all-or-nothing” approach to the repeal of laws permitting abortions in this country has so far been unsuccessful, whereas the incremental approach to repealing such laws has met with some success. We should focus on our victories and moving forward from the ground gained by such victories, looking forward to eventually taking the moral high ground once again where babies are protected during the first months of their lives in their mother’s womb. Let’s also remember to support women who have decided to keep their babies under difficult circumstances.

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There is a discussion on FB about Texas passing a sonogram bill that does not protect certain groups of preborn babies, such as those conceived in rape, incest, or those with fetal anomalies. My friend Juda Myers is a pro-life warrior who was conceived in rape, and is understandably let down by these exceptions. This has reignited the ongoing debate within the pro-life community regarding incrementalism vs. unconditional surrender. I believe that we can all get to the finish line together. What follows are modified comments I left on FB this morning:

One abortion is one too many. On this all pro-lifers agree. I’ve been party to this discussion with several pro-lifers from around the country, so let me explain the incrementalist’s position and its internal logic.

First, the proaborts do the two-step, one-step. They push their agenda forward two steps, and when we raise hell, they retreat one step (remaining a step ahead. When things calm down, they repeat the cycle again, and again; always advancing one step with each cycle. It’s a brilliant and effective strategy. With every round, they establish a new norm from which they operate.

The pro-life incrementalist’s position does much the same thing. Nobody is saying that they value some babies more or less than others. This tactic is the proabort’s own strategy turned on them. It allows society to begin to value humans in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by giving them the protection of the law. In a word: PERSONHOOD.

Being successful in re-calibrating societal attitudes about the rights and dignity of most babies allows the pro-life movement to bridge the gap for society to accept the dignity of those conceived in rape, incest, or with fetal anomalies. The argument in favor of abortion began with rape and incest, then generalized outward to claim scores of millions not conceived in rape or incest. In regaining lost ground, we’ll win it back in reverse order.

As things stand, holding out for the whole enchilada has not worked, and has consigned millions to their deaths, where they might otherwise have been saved.

No war has ever been won in one giant stroke. It is won a battle at a time, with the conquered ground then used as the staging area for the next battle. Think of MacArthur’s Island-Hopping Campaign across the Pacific in WWII.

For almost forty years the camp demanding all-or-nothing has held sway, and little has changed. Incrementalism can make huge immediate inroads, saving hundreds of thousands of babies per year, and in the process build a pro-life ethic where it never before existed. This can then make it easier to argue that certain classes of the preborn are the victims of discrimination.

I’m with Juda all the way, but the logic of incrementalism seems to save far more babies’ lives than all of the sidewalk counseling ever has. It sucks the huge profits out of the abortion industry, forcing many to close, and allows us to focus and marshall our resources against an ever-diminishing enemy until we completely obliterate their deadly industry by using their own weapon against them: Government.

To not accept this is to play high-stakes, winner-take-all poker with the lives of millions of babies who would otherwise have been saved.

Thoughts?

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Watch this seven minute video of politicians and NARAL leaders from around the country lay out their roadmap for replicating New York’s Bill 371. Then, share this wth every pro-lifer you know. We can’t say we weren’t told. It’s all right here in this 7 minute video.

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Today I received this email and prayer from a post-abortive mother, whose story is tragically the norm in Obstetrics. This is as damning an assessment about OB/Gyn as I have ever seen. This mom has graciously consented to my sharing her story with any who will take a moment and walk the road with her. Her identity will remain anonymous. Please take a moment and lift her up in your prayers.

Greetings Dr. Nadal … I’ve recently stumbled across your blog, and am quite impressed by its contents and depth of thought. If you have a moment to spare, I’m very interested in your thoughts regarding poor prenatal abortions. I’ve aborted a very much wanted pregnancy in the second trimester due to Trisomy 18. I was never fond of the “choice” then, and I still suffer the consequence of that “choice” now. It saddens me to think that the medical community whose mantra is to do no harm has become so callused as to the dignity of life that they feel they can choose who deserves to live or die. The medical profession has become nothing more than a scripted flowchart of if this, then do that. Pity the child whose prenatal tests result in termination. Once upon a time I thought that “high risk obstetrics” meant that these guys must really know their stuff to be able to handle the “hard” cases. Only now do I realize that “high risk obstetrics” is nothing more than a fancy term for abortionists to hide behind. I who had sought out the “best” doctors in the field have only later come to discover that not only are they members of the National Abortion Federation, but they also served as expert witnesses in the partial birth appeal in NY. Students in medical school are being brainwashed by abortionists who teach medical ethics under the guise of the Hippocratic Oath. What a sad world we live in.

A Mother’s Prayer

· I pray for the day that one can search the Participating Provider (PPO) section of their medical insurance plan and select an Obstetrician under either the Pro-choice or Pro-life category.

· I pray for the day that pre-natal testing is done for the purpose of saving lives rather than destroying lives and then later marveling at the wonders of medical technology to “find out in time.”

· I pray for the day that obstetricians present true options to a mother upon receiving an “incompatible with life” diagnosis. Don’t lead me down a scripted flowchart of “if this … then that … therefore terminate conclusion.” Humor me with “what-if” scenarios. I’ll be more than happy to select from option A, B or C and sign off on the appropriate disclaimer documentation that will keep you out of malpractice court.

· I pray for the day that the medical community realigns its efforts from “eliminating” the problem to “solving” the problem.

· I pray for the day that the medical community focuses on statistically measuring not how many lives were lost due to chromosomal abnormalities but rather on measuring how many lives can be saved from chromosomal abnormalities. (Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?)

· I pray for the day that allowing an “incompatible with life” diagnosis to proceed through its natural course would be seen as an opportunity for study towards a solution. Analysis can’t be undertaken without subject material.

· I pray for the day that the disposition of a terminated fetus be given the dignity of a proper disposition and not be disposed of as part of “medical waste.”

· I pray for the day that obstetricians present the psychological risk factors of terminating a pregnancy. If I had known then that the grief of having killed my baby would outweigh the grief of a natural loss, I would like to think that I could have chosen differently. Given the current state of obstetrics, I don’t know if I could honestly say that.

UPDATE:

The following message appeared in the combox, and I thought it deserved to be placed in the body of the post:

Dear Dr. Nadal,

I am so sorry this mother had to go through the pain of aborting her baby with t-18 and that was the only choice offered her. I run a support group for families who receive an adverse diagnosis before or after birth. We offer life-affirming support, information and encouragement to families. I know the pressure and how hard it is firsthand because I have a son with full t-18 who is 6 1/2 yrs. old. He is a great blessing and joy to his family and all who know him. Please ask this mom to contact us. We offer support for moms who have aborted also and can connect them with others who understand and resources to help. Please visit http://www.prenatalpartnersforlife.org or call 763-772-3868 for more info. Thank you for promoting life!

Most Sincerely,
Mary Kellett
Director-Prenatal Partners for Life

UPDATE 2:
The author has written more in depth about her experience on Lumina’s website:

http://www.postabortionhelp.org/pre-natal/ppnWitnessC.html

Lumina a post abortion ministry of Good Counsel Homes, run by Theresa Bonopartis, has developed a specialized, “Entering Canaan” retreat for those who aborted due to an adverse diagnosis. They also have retreats for post-abortive mothers,which they co-developed with The Sisters of Life, and have expanded to do retreats with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal for fathers, and siblings of aborted babies , which have become quite popular. The author made a Lumina Retreat and credits it for doing much good in her life. Check out Lumina at:

http://www.postabortionhelp.org/AboutLumina/AboutLumina.html

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Today, in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Dolan ordained nine men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Here are two great shorts in honor of these extraordinary men who lay down their lives for all of us. May they enjoy long lives of service to Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

I’ll encourage Joseph to consider the priesthood, as I’ve done already. The same with my daughters and religious life. Who else will join Regina and me in encouraging our sons and daughters to give their lives to the Church? If not in priesthood or religious life, then living marriage as a sacrament, and the men considering the permanent diaconate.

Part I of Fishers of Men

Part II of Fishers of Men

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We finally have a direct say in Congress cutting $400 million in U.S. funding for the notorious United Nations Population Fund. What follows is taken from my friend Jill Stanek’s site. Thanks to Jill for her great work. The poll will be open until May 22, but vote now. Here’s Jill:

Well, for once, here’s a poll that can really save the lives of preborn children.
This week House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor launched the 2nd phase of the YouCut program.

You may or may not have heard of YouCut. YouCut allows the public to submit ideas for government programs they believe should be eliminated. Each week 3 of those ideas are posted online and people vote for the one they most want the House to consider.

Whichever program gets the most votes will be sponsored by the YouCut and the public will be able to track it’s progress on the website as it moves through the legislative process.

So here’s the news: “Terminate U.S. Contributions to the United Nations Population Fund” has been included as one of the first 3 YouCut options!

Therefore, defunding UNFPA could be considered by the House soon, but only if this option gets the most votes on the YouCut website.

As you likely know, UNFPA is the UN population control agency that is complicit in China’s brutal one-child policy, which is carried out via coercive abortions and involuntary sterilizations.

Go to the YouCut website NOW to vote on Proposal #3, “Terminate U.S. Contributions to the United Nations Population Fund,” and then forward/share/retweet this post to all pro-lifers you know!

If you have friends who are solely fiscal conservatives, tell them that at $400 million, this choice will save taxpayers the most money of any of this week’s 3 options.

If Proposal #3 wins, a side benefit will be letting our congresspersons know the life issue is extremely important to their constituents.

GO VOTE!

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The research for my Master of Science degree involved obtaining rat spinal cords immediately after having decapitated the live rat with a guillotine (One reason for pursuing microbiology for the Ph.D.). The first time I ever decapitated a rat, I was stunned at what I beheld as I cut away the spine and looked into the animal’s cavity.

There before me the intestines were still moving, the heart still beating somewhat, muscles were twitching. All of this in an animal that had been decapitated a moment or two before. By any common understanding, this was a dead animal, yet its body retained so much intrinsic life. It was an experience that played itself out dozens of times during that research, and caused me to begin to question the concept of “Brain Death”.

How could the organs of a “dead” animal retain so much life? The answer is relatively simple, and requires a little (painless) biological explanation.

Cells run on electrical energy. The oxygen we breathe is carried to every cell in the body, where it aids the cell in extracting energy in the form of electrons from glucose, and storing them in a three-pack of rechargeable molecular batteries called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). So long as oxygen and glucose are available to the cells (from the surrounding blood vessels), the ATP gets recharged and helps cells to perform their functions.

When the oxygen runs out, death quickly follows. As the old beer ad said, “When you’re out of Bud, you’re out of beer.” The same holds true for oxygen.

The concept of “death” then depends on what level at which we wish to draw the line. Certainly at the instant the rat’s head is struck from the body, the brain is not dead, though its ability to coordinate bodily functions is immediately eliminated by the act of decapitation. However, that brain still contains oxygenated blood, as do the other organs. Thus, while bodily coordinate function is gone, intrinsic function within the brain is not, just as the other organs retain their intrinsic function.

To suggest that the human brain as an organ is dead, and then rush in to harvest the other organs which remain perfused with oxygen, is an absurdity. More and more stories are coming to light (as will be seen in Part II) of people who were declared brain dead, and who made a recovery when family refused to pull the plug.

Biologically speaking, if the other organs are sufficiently perfused with oxygen and retain their intrinsic function, it’s a safe bet to assume that the brain also retains sufficient oxygen and intrinsic function. The truth is that the brain is the final frontier of the human body, and we know relatively little about its ability to direct its own recovery and healing.

If the brain is truly dead, then it is oxygen-depleted, and ATP production has ground to a halt. That is the definition of death, when the cell runs out of energy. When the brain finds itself in that circumstance, the rest of the body is essentially there as well, making organ harvest pretty much impossible.

A severely impaired brain may not be “dead” at all (Terri Schiavo).

Next time we’ll look at Terri Schiavo as well as others who survived the diagnosis of brain death and lived to tell about it. We’ll see the withering forces brought to bear on frightened and confused family members at their most vulnerable moment.

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