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Archive for January, 2012

Here is a video of the Girl Scouts’ CEO Cathy Cloninger on The Today Show admitting to Girl Scouts partnering with Planned Parenthood. H/T Cathy Cleaver Ruse who has done outstanding work on outing these liars who deny the relationship.

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Trust Women

“Trust Women”

That was the admonishment of the deceased late-term abortionist, Dr. George Tiller. It’s also the admonishment of the rest of the pro-choice crowd. Too bad they really don’t mean it.

Trust women.

Pregnancy resource centers are filled with women who are being coerced to abort their babies, who are desperate for someone, anyone to throw them a lifeline. They’re the lucky ones who find the help and hope. The women entering abortion clinics are not so fortunate. I listened to quite a few of them at the Supreme Court steps this past Monday.

Most spoke of coercion from their boyfriends, other friends, family, and abortion clinic staff. Coercion manifests in a host of ways.

Trust women.

Boyfriends threaten an end to the relationship unless the woman aborts. They become petulant and emotionally distant. In the end, they move on anyway.

Trust women.

Parents use shame and guilt, again the threat of loss of love, of standing, of belonging.

Trust women.

Friends will do pretty much the same. Along with boyfriends and family, they will remind the woman of the education and/or career that she stands to lose by having the baby.

Trust women.

Abortion clinic staff will tell the woman that “It’s just a blob of tissue, just a clump of cells,” for babies at 4,6,8,12, 16 weeks of gestation. They lie about the link between abortion and breast cancer. They withhold vital data on the psychological and gynecological post-abortion sequelae.

Trust women.

Ob/Gyn’s and genetic counselors will use the most base coercive pressures on women whose tests show even the possibility of genetic anomaly or defect. They offer up such sagacity as, “Why would you make your child suffer for the rest of its life?”

Trust women.

Gone in such practitioners is any trace of human compassion. Even for the mother who wishes to keep and love her less-than-perfect child, she is pressured to contract for the murder of that child. Whether or not she aborts, the message from such physicians and genetic counselors is clear and unambiguous:

You did this to your child. This is all your fault.

That’s a nice little burden to pile on the backs of parents.

The etiology matters little, if at all, compared to the opportunity for encountering and growing in love and integrity presented by the special needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Medicine is beset by a metastatic malignancy within its ranks. It’s a perverse and ironic timing for that malignancy, as medicine now has the means to heal, or at least attenuate the worst effects of many genetic conditions. Add to that the daily miracles being wrought by Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapists, as well as Special Education teachers.

All of this begs the question:

Who are the people that authentically trust women?

The answer is simple:

Those who tell women the truth, offer hope and healing, and respect their autonomy.

Trust women.

I wish the other side would.

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Hot on the heels of our medical conference last Saturday, Therapeutic Advances in Poor Prenatal Diagnoses, comes this letter from Archbishop Chaput to the people of his archdiocese. Opposition to this new eugenics is swelling all over the nation. Here is a bishop who makes me proud of my Church.

Earlier this week local media covered the story of Amelia Rivera, a young girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome reportedly denied a kidney transplant by a local hospital. Amelia’s syndrome results in serious developmental delays, and according to her parents, the hospital declined a transplant due to her diminished mental ability and shortened lifespan.

It’s unwise to assume that news media get all the details of a story like this right, or that the motives of an entire hospital’s leadership and staff are as unfeeling as an individual doctor might seem. Nonetheless, a couple of things are worth noting. First, Amelia’s parents are persons who love their daughter zealously for who she is, and who know the beauty and dignity of her life despite her disability. Second, the habit of treating genetically disabled children as somehow less worthy of life is growing across the country.

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18, which is extremely serious. Prenatal testing can now detect a high percentage of pregnancies with a risk of genetic problems.

The tests often aren’t conclusive. But they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, for example, now get terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, but merely undesirable.

The older a woman gets, the higher her risk of bearing a child with special needs. And so, in medical offices around the country, pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of a genetic flaw based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But, as my friends know from experience, too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits, or managing costs, or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool.

In practice, medical professionals can now steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects. And the most debased thing about that kind of pressure is that doctors know better than anyone else how vulnerable a woman can be in hearing potentially tragic news about her unborn baby.

I’m not suggesting that doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents. Nor should they paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has a disability. Facts and resources are crucial in helping adult persons prepare themselves for difficult challenges. But doctors, genetic counselors and medical school professors should have on staff – or at least on speed dial – experts of a different sort.

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective.

Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith.

Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with special needs can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with special needs can be demanding. It always involves some degree of suffering. Parents grow up very fast. None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism.

It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that forces its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. None of us is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear.

That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.

This Sunday, January 22, marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legitimized permissive abortion around the country. More than 45 million abortions later, the damage of that decision continues to grow — undermining our reverence for the life not just of unborn children but of the mentally and physically disabled as well.

We need to understand that if some lives are regarded as unworthy, respect for all life is at risk. We should pray that Amelia Rivera gets the help she needs, and that God surrounds her parents with the support they need.

And especially this week, more than ever, we should recommit ourselves to defending the dignity of all human life, no matter how “flawed” it may seem in the eyes of the world.

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Word comes this week that Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan received a telephone call from President Obama stating that the Catholic Church would not receive an exemption from the requirement to purchase contraception for its employees. Cardinal Dolan is less than enthused:

“It’s not about contraception. It’s about the right of conscience.”

“The government doesn’t have the right to butt into the internal governance and teachings of the church. This is not a Catholic issue, it’s an American issue. We’re strong on this issue of conscience, and that’s what’s at stake here.”

“While I appreciate his courtesy Friday morning to give me a call with the somber news, I had to tell him I was terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed.”

Yes, Eminence, it is about conscience where Obama and the Federal Government are concerned, but it’s about much, much more within the Catholic Church.

It’s about the contending issues of fidelity and narcissism that have torn the Church to pieces over the past fifty years, reducing a once-powerful and respected constituency to a laughingstock in many political circles. Obama’s actions and posture toward the Church, even the election of such a man, would have been unthinkable twenty-five years ago. His declaration to Cardinal Dolan was less a declaration of war than the final, sickening realization that we have had the terms of our self-incarceration dictated to us by the man who embodies all that we have become as a people.

In my 51 years, I have witnessed Mass attendance drop to 1/3 of what it was when I was a child. Since my twelfth year of life, we have butchered more than 54 million unborn babies, millions of them in their Catholic mothers’ wombs. My generation advanced the sexual revolution and spread AIDS like wildfire. Yes many of us have repented of our earlier sins and have pursued virtue, but many of us have not properly formed our children out of misplaced guilt and mistaken notions of what constitutes hypocrisy.

I can’t remember EVER hearing a homily on contraception or John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I can count on two hands the number of homilies I have heard on abortion, and none, NONE on what makes for a sacramental marriage.

For as bad as it has been, the sex abuse scandal has been the LEAST damaging issue for the Church. That was a very small fraction of our priests, less than 4%. Our marriages are in free-fall, our children torn apart by divorce.

At every step of the way, rejection of what the Church teaches has been behind the disintegration. At every step of the way, we have elected increasingly radical politicians. There is a causal relationship in that pattern.

There is no “Catholic Vote.”

Enter Obama and Dolan.

Their contention, and our current condition, could be viewed as presaged by Abraham Lincoln nearly two-hundred years ago:

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions:
Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838

This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

We are dying by suicide. We are killing our babies by abortion, and now our elderly in increasing numbers through passive and active euthanasia. The preservation of resources and lifestyle are the leading reasons offered up.

Malignant Narcissism and Hedonism.

That there is reason to believe Obama could actually be re-elected indicates we passed the conscience issue long ago. Conscience was determined in our last presidential election. We elected Obama knowing full-well his declared intent.

This election will determine whether or not we’re content with our chains.

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Late last Spring I became increasingly convinced that a major area not tackled by the pro-life movement in any coordinated fashion is the new eugenics movement in fetal medicine. Specifically, increasing numbers of physicians are advising, demanding, and even coercing women to abort babies diagnosed with what have become known collectively as “Poor Prenatal Diagnoses.” Such conditions as Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Anencephaly, Spina Bifida, etc… constitute this constellation.

Over the past two years, I have heard dozens of women tell me their personal horror stories, many of whom refusing to abort and then going on to have a perfectly normal child. We hear of countries in Europe who are boasting that they will have eradicated Down Syndrome in a few short years, not by eliminating the ongoing occurrence of trisomy 21, but by a 100% abortion rate as the diagnoses come in.

Why not tell women of all that can be done to help these babies?

I contacted Chris Gacek of the Family Research Council, who put me in touch with Jeanne Monahan, the Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity. Together with Jeanne, and with the advice of Peg Kolm of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, and my good friend Leticia Velasquez who co-founded KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome), a working group formed around the idea of having a full day medical conference for medical professionals and the public alike. What emerged from this group is the Council on Poor Prenatal Diagnoses and Therapeutic Interventions.

And here we are. A wonderful collaborative project with others including the Lejeunne Foundation on therapeutics from the womb and throughout the individual’s life.

The conference on Saturday will be live webcast from FRC Headquarters in Washington, and is free to sign up and watch. Just follow this link to register. (We’re pretty near our limit for in-person attendance)

Conference main speakers will address the tidal wave of therapeutic interventions available for these children. They include:

John Bruchalski, M.D.
Byron Calhoun, M.D.
Alberto Costa, M.D., Ph.D.
Jeanne Monahan, M.A.
Gerard Nadal, Ph.D.
David Prentice, Ph.D.
Laura Toso, M.D.

In addition, we’ll be hearing the witness of Samuel Armas, the little baby who had fetal surgery for Spina Bifida, and whose hand was photographed reaching out from the womb and holding the finger of his surgeon. He’ll be there with his mother, Julie.

We’re also going to have a panel discussion and presentations by people who have founded organizations to support these children and their parents:

Melinda Delahoyde, Care Net
Leticia Velasquez, Kids
Christopher Bell, Good Counsel Homes
Nancy Mayer Whittington, Isaiah’s Promise
Mary Kellett, Prenatal Partners for Life

Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life

Paper Presentations by medical students.

Documentary preview and discussion by In Altum Productions Filmmakers
Jordan Allott and Daniel Allott.

The conference begins at 8:30 A.M. and ends at 5:00 P.M.

The good news is that there is a group of physicians here in New York who have been thinking along the same lines, as well as pro-life medical professionals around the country who have all come up with the same concern and the same resolve to effect a change. It’s the leading of the Holy Spirit, and just in time. Many medical school professors encourage eugenic abortion and don’t teach the therapeutics. This conference will pierce the encroaching shroud of silence and shine the light on all that medicine has to offer its tiniest patients.

So, starting this coming Saturday, The Council on Poor Prenatal Diagnoses and Therapeutic Interventions is kicking off A Year of Hope and Healing, which will see more conferences and coordinated activity in bringing to the fore the many support and advocacy groups, more physicians, scientists, and ethicists.

Please join us this coming Saturday for the live webcast, and spread the good word!

Again, it’s free to attend on-line. Just register at this link.

http://www.frc.org/player.swf

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