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Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

The twentieth century saw the greatest advances made in science, technology, and medicine that the world has ever known. Building on the conceptual discoveries of the previous three centuries, we have wrought wonders unimagined in every decade of that century, and continue on unabated in this new century and new millennium. If there has been a down side to all of that fast-paced discovery, it has been the fact that the technological developments have come faster than humanity could process their implications and discern their right use, or whether they ought to be used at all.

Consider this quote from former Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass, M.D., in Human Cloning and Human Dignity, The Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Though dealing specifically with cloning, the principles discussed apply equally to a host of issues.:

“We should not be self-deceived about our ability to set limits on the exploitation of nascent life. What disturbs us today we quickly or eventually get used to; yesterday’s repugnance gives way to tomorrow’s endorsement. A society that already tolerates the destruction of fetuses in the second and third trimesters will hardly be horrified by embryo and fetus farming (including in animal wombs), if this should turn out to be helpful in the cure of dreaded diseases.

“We realize, of course, that many proponents of cloning-for-biomedical-research will recommend regulations designed to prevent just such abuses (that is, the expansion of research to later-stage cloned embryos and fetuses). Refusing to erect a red light to stop research cloning, they will propose various yellow lights intended to assure ourselves that we are proceeding with caution, limits, or tears. Paradoxically, however, the effect might actually be to encourage us to continue proceeding with new (or more hazardous) avenues of research; for, believing that we are being cautious, we have a good conscience about what we do, and we are unable to imagine ourselves as people who could take a morally disastrous next step. We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

There were four great “divisions” or “splittings” that technology produced in the twentieth century. Each had catastrophic consequences that have contributed to the corrosion of civilization. Each involves the severing of unitive bonds with an uncontrolled release of energy that has been every bit as destructive as the intact bonds are productive. Three of these have been particularly catastrophic for women.

The first great splitting came at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, when the Anglican Church split away from the rest of Christendom and became the first Christian church to embrace artificial contraception. Never before had any Christian church held that the splitting, or separation of the Unitive and Procreative dimensions of marital sex was moral. Over the next few decades most all other Christian churches followed the Anglicans, with catastrophic consequences.

Looking at the moral and familial disintegration occurring in the churches who embraced contraception, as well as those quarters of the Catholic Church where the same was occurring, Pope Paul VI, in 1968, penned Humanae Vitae, the binding encyclical that explicated and reinforced 2,000 years of Catholic teaching about the beauty and sanctity of sex as designed by God in His order for creation. It also warned of the consequences of splitting the unitive from the procreative. Those who have suffered the most have been women, as contraception frees men to follow their most base and animal instincts, making of women’s bodies mere playthings.

What contraception cannot eliminate is the brain biochemistry of women where sex releases the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in producing feelings of bondedness and belonging. It doesn’t take too much violation of the bondedness to induce cynicism, apathy, and despair. If indeed there was a war between the sexes in the 1960’s, the pill did nothing but intensify it and add dimensions that never before existed.

The second great splitting was that of the atom; specifically, the splitting of the atomic nucleus. The bonds that hold the nuclear particles together are so strong that a grapefruit-sized amount of Uranium whose nuclei are split, through fission as it is called, can produce enough energy in an uncontrolled reaction to blow up a city. When the scientists of the Manhattan Project in World War II wanted to slow down and discuss the ethical implications of the bomb they had just invented, they were rebuffed by a military weary of the World War it had been fighting for close to four years, and saw it as the means to avoid millions of casualties in an invasion of the Japanese home islands. The rest is history.

The third great splitting that occurred came in the late 1970’s with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, eggs are taken from the mother’s ovaries and sperm is collected from the father (who is given a plastic cup and ushered to a private setting for self-expression). The gametes are then mixed in a Petri dish by a lab technician and fertilization occurs. The dozens of embryos thus produced are graded and sorted. The least viable-looking are simply discarded. The best are implanted in the mother’s womb, and the rest are submerged and frozen in liquid nitrogen at –320 degrees F.

A tragic consequence of this splitting is the consent of the desperate mother to this barbaric treatment of her offspring, often not perceived as such by the woman whose desperation blinds her.

If contraception split the unitive from the procreative dimensions of the marital embrace, then IVF has gone further to split the procreative dimension itself by actually negating the need for a marital embrace at all. It also introduced the first division of motherhood’s integrated unity. IVF removes the events of fertilization from within the mother and posits them in the Petri dish. In splitting the marital embrace, husband and wife are reduced from co-creators with God to the role of mere sideline observers in the laboratory as the technicians go about the work of procreation by being the agents who facilitate the union of egg and sperm.

In very short order sperm and egg donation in IVF expanded to any permutation of donors. Couples (many not even married) were engaging in eugenic creations of babies by soliciting sperm and egg donors from Ivy League students. If IVF was the technology for couples with problems rooted in the pathophysiology of conception, the next logical accommodation was made for those where women could not, or would not, carry a baby to term.

That accommodation was the fourth great splitting of the twentieth-century: Surrogate Motherhood. Surrogate motherhood takes the integrated unity of normal female reproduction and divides it across two (or more) women. In the case of the married couple, IVF is performed and then a surrogate is solicited to accept implantation of the embryo and gestate the child for the couple. Surrogates are paid in the tens of thousands of dollars for their services.

The problem with surrogate motherhood is that it isn’t.

It isn’t surrogacy. It’s a critical component of what is supposed to be an integrated physiological process of reproduction.

The legal and ethical communities quickly agreed that the mother was the egg donor for IVF who contracted the services of the surrogate. In my senior thesis in college I argued against this understanding, and remain opposed to it today. A child may now have five parents: egg donor, sperm donor, married couple who procured said egg and sperm for IVF, and surrogate (gestational mother).

Many Catholic bioethicists posit motherhood in the egg donor who is also the married (or not) woman procuring IVF and the services of the surrogate.

It’s a huge mistake to take so simplified a view.

The truth of the matter is that both egg donor and gestational mother are the biological mothers of the child. To say, ethically, that the “real” mother is the egg donor is to blind oneself to the nine months of embryonic and fetal development that occur in the womb. The bondedness of mother and child have as their most proximal and powerful origins the mutual growth together during nine months of gestation, and not the more distal ovulation and fertilization (which the egg donor does not participate in with IVF).

Motherhood is more, much more, than the donation of half an individual’s chromosomal content. If Catholic bioethicists cannot see that nine months of gestation are the second half of the biological equation and produce an intimacy and union between woman and child, an intimacy forged within the created order of gestation, then we are in trouble.

The truth is that God’s created order has been artificially divided within women. First with the division wrought by contraception, which makes of women the very sex objects inveighed against by the feminists of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Then, the integrated unity of the procreative dimension of human sexuality itself is split by IVF and further subdivided by surrogacy, with the end result being that two women can each claim a biological component of motherhood: fertilization and gestation.

Specifically, the baby’s growth and development are all facilitated by the woman in whose womb the child grows. The baby is literally bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh. Lost in all of this technological revolution has been the great dignity of women and motherhood. (We’ll save the discussion on men and fatherhood for another day)

To add further to the disintegration, motherhood has been completely commodified, from the sale of eggs for thousands of dollars, to paid surrogates. Our women have been dismantled and their parts and functions sold to the highest bidders. All of this in the name of a feminism that sought freedom from women’s biology, which was held out to them as nature’s chains of oppression.

Just because we can do something does not mean that we ought to. In forty years we have slowly and imperceptibly come to a place most of us never thought we would come to. When the created order of human bonds is split, the destruction is every bit as catastrophic as the splitting of the bonds that unite the atomic nucleus. The prophets of the twentieth-century have been the Catholic popes and bishops, who have been ridiculed mercilessly. Looking at the ever-widening debris field, perhaps it’s time for another consideration of their unitive message.

Kass was quite correct:

“We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

To all of the mothers who give great witness through their loving sacrifices, their example of faith, and to those who came to motherhood through a process of disintegration the pain of childlessness blinded them to,

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Above is a photocopy of Margaret Sanger’s Magazine, The Birth Control Review. Note the stated purpose of birth control below the date;

Birth Control: To create a race of thoroughbreds.

Sanger’s disciples would later deny attribution of that statement to her, but there it is. In previous posts we have seen repeatedly, and in context, the disdain Sanger had for the lower classes, from whom idiots, imbeciles, and morons arose (bear in mind those were the medical diagnostic terms of her day). Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn. At the time, Brownsville was populated by Sanger’s favorite people: Slavs, Jews, southern Europeans, and those large Catholic families she had grown (through her own family experience) to disdain with a vengeance. Nine days after opening, her illegal clinic was raided and Sanger was sent to jail for 30 days.

Returning to Grant’s well-documented biography, Killer Angel, available in the link as a PDF:

“The Birth Control Review Margaret’s magazine and the immediate predecessor to the Planned Parenthood Review regularly and openly published the racist articles of Malthusian Eugenicists. In October of 1920, for instance, it published a favorable review of Lothrop Stoddard’s frightening book of Fascist diatribe, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. In September of 1923, the Review editorialized in favor of restricting immigration on a racial basis. In April of 1932, it outlined Margaret’s ‘Plan for peace,’ which called for coercive sterilization, mandatory segregation, and rehabilitative concentration camps for all ‘dysgenic stocks.’ In April of 1933, the Review published a shocking article entitled ‘Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need.’ It was written by Margaret’s close friend and advisor, Ernst Rudin, who was then serving as Hitler’s director of genetic sterilization and had earlier taken a prominent role in the establishment of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. Later, in June of that same year, it published an article by Leon Whitney entitled, ‘Selective Sterilization,‘ which adamantly praised and defended the Third Reich’s pre-holocaust ‘race purification’ programs.

“The bottom line is that Margaret self-consciously organized the Birth Control League–and its progeny, Planned Parenthood—in part, to promote and enforce the scientifically elitist notions of White Supremacy. Like the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party, and the Mensheviks, Margaret’s enterprise was from its inception implicitly and explicitly racist. And this racist orientation was all too evident in its various programs and initiatives: government control over family decisions, non-medicinal health care experimentations, the rabid abortion crusade, and the coercive sterilization initiatives…

“As her organization grew in power and prestige, she began to target several other ‘ill-favored’ and ‘dysgenic races,’ including ‘Blacks, Hispnics, Amerinds, Fundamentalists, and Catholics.’

“In 1939, Margaret designed a ‘Negro Project’ in response to requests from ‘southern state public health officials’ not generally known for their racial equanimity. ‘The mass of Negroes,’ her project proposal asserted, ‘particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.’ The proposal went on to say that ‘Public Health statistics merely hint at the primitive state of civilization in which most Negroes in the South live.’

In order to remedy this ‘dysgenic horror story,’ her project aimed to hire three or four ‘Colored Ministers, preferably with social service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities’ to travel to various Black enclaves and propagandize for birth control. Her intention was as insidious as it was obvious: ‘The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the Minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.’

Of course, those Black ministers were to be carefully controlled—mere figureheads. ‘There is a great danger that we will fail,’ one of the project directors wrote, ‘because the Negroes think it a plan for extermination. Hence, let’s appear to let the colored run it.’

Another project director lamented: ‘I wonder if Southern Darkies can ever be entrusted with . . . a clinic. Our experience
causes us to doubt their ability to work except under White supervision.’
The entire operation then was a ruse-a manipulative attempt to get Blacks to cooperate in their own elimination.”

Of course, all of this invites the question, why did Sanger focus her efforts on the lower classes? Did the upper classes not have their share of developmentally disabled children? Sanger would go on to secure considerable grant money from such industrialists as Henry Ford, who was himself a rabid anti-Semite.

In Two Days, Sanger’s Ascendancy: The Political Leaders and Philanthropists Who Shared Her Views and Swallowed Her Lies.

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Several months ago, eight year old Elizabeth climbed into my lap and asked, “Daddy, why do brides wear veils?” I looked at Regina and smiled as my bride smiled back waiting to see how I managed this one. In an instant, the leading of the Holy Spirit to be sure, I decided to give Beth her first sex education talk.

I started by asking Beth what we place around the Tabernacle in church. “A veil,” was the correct response, though Beth looked a bit puzzled by the non sequitur. “And what does the Priest place over the chalice and ciborium, which also hold the Blessed Sacrament?” “A veil,” was the correct response. Beth was beaming; she was on a roll. “And what sign do we use to indicate that Jesus dwells within the Tabernacle?” “The sanctuary lamp,” came the response. Correct, but secondary. The veil, going back to the Tent of the Meeting in the desert and later the Temple in Jerusalem has always been the sign that God dwells within. Beth soaked up the new material like a sponge.

I could hear Dr. Scott Hahn of Franciscan University giving a lecture where he made this connection, “That which is veiled is that which is Holy”.

“Every one of our bodies is not only the tabernacle of our souls, but also of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. So every person’s body is sacred Beth. But women’s bodies have an added dimension of the sacred. When you grow up, God will use your body to make your babies, just as He used Mamma’s to make you, Joseph and little Regina. So when you get married and I walk you down the aisle, that veil will tell your husband that your body is sacred to God and he is to treat you and your body with reverence. Don’t forget, Jesus could have hopped off of a cloud. He chose to be born of a woman, and that makes every woman so much more sacred.”

“Oh, I get it,” was the reply. We could see the light bulb go on. Beth really did get it. She’s told a great number of people all about it too.

From the gleam in Regina’s eyes, it was obvious that she loved this first step down the road of Beth’s sexual maturation.

I think we go wrong when discussing contraceptives and their ill-effects as the substance of sex education. It misses the mark by a mile. We’re Holy, fearfully and wonderfully made by God; which is why St. Paul tells us to glorify God in our bodies. Sex isn’t dirty. Our human sexuality is one of the greatest goods of all creation. At only eight years old, I couldn’t tell Beth the other half of that good, that she and her husband will use their bodies to forge inseparable bonds of passionate love and selfless devotion. I’ll tell her in due course. There’s simply no room for premarital sex in that equation. Forgetting sexually transmitted diseases, which afflict 1/4 of all girls by their nineteenth birthday, 80% of all adults during their lifetimes according to CDC, premarital sex corrodes that sense of the sacred and the dual, inseparable purposes for which sex was made: Unitive and Procreative.

All sex education MUST begin here: teaching a reverential love for what God has made. Little girls dream of being beautiful brides. Passionate daddies look beyond the wedding day to their daughters being good and faithful wives and mothers, to them marrying men who will honor and cherish them. Therefore, we fathers need to look in the mirror each morning when we shave and make sure that the guy looking back at us is a sound role model for our sons and duaghters.

That’s the best sex education of all.

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File photo of unknown event. Copyright © L'Osservatore Romano - Tutti i diritti riservati

From the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) #99:

“I would like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly.”

“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.”

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”

~Pope John Paul II

I’ve included a side-bar panel titled Healing Post-Abortion for post-abortive women and men, or those who know them. There are wonderful ministries linked to there.

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Today is the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

Many non-Catholic brothers and sisters object to the title and don’t understand whence it comes. An excellent, brief essay here tells the story.

In light of our focus here these past few days, today’s Solemnity throws two very different women into stark relief: Mary, Mother of God and Margaret Sanger. A study in contrast if ever there were one.

Both women looked out upon a broken and wounded humanity. Both heard the call to action. One embraced life as the answer to healing humanity. The other embraced death as the solution.

Through her acceptance of the Archangel Gabriel’s message, Mary invited God Himself in the person of Jesus to take on human nature through her womb. Thus, the dignity of women was forever elevated in God choosing to cloak Himself with our humanity through woman. Mary chose a lifetime of scorn by others. Having her son referred to as a bastard child was an implicit condemnation of Mary as a less than virtuous woman, to put it politely. The indignity of a feeding trough as a cradle, a barn as lodging. They were chased out of their homeland. Jews going back to Egypt, setting up the second Exodus, this one for all humanity. The gifts of the Magi, God’s providence manifest through the faith of strangers, no doubt secured safe passage and sustenance in the land of their former slavery.

Mary’s acceptance of being Mother of the Messiah didn’t make her the Jewish Doris Day of the first century. Life for Mary was hard. And then she saw her son die the most excruciating death.

The lesson for us, suffering is redemptive. Jesus’ suffering redeemed us all. Mary’s suffering is a model for us. She could have had a much easier life-a home, social acceptance, economic security-all of the things Sanger would later cite as the justification for her war on life.

Mary’s reward for being the Mother of God, not merely His incubator, but fully His Mother, was not to be here on earth. She enjoys pride of place in paradise with her son.

Margaret Sanger’s approach was the converse of Mary’s. To be fair, the widespread grinding poverty that Sanger lived with and witnessed exists in small pockets in America today. Most Americans cannot imagine the poverty of which she spoke. None should begrudge her the genuine revulsion she felt staring into the face of that poverty. Such revulsion is very healthy indeed.

Then came her response. Death and nonexistence. Sex divorced from responsibility and consequence. The lie that pleasurable sex could only be had by deliberate and artificial means of thwarting the transmission of new life. The lie that suffering is meaningless, that pleasure and ease are to be sought after to the exclusion of any suffering along the way.

Suffering is not easy, but it helps us to grow. We learn from suffering, if we are open to her lessons.

Sanger’s was a life of narcissistic self-indulgence that poisoned everything it touched, the very operational definition of neurosis, which is the attempt to avoid suffering. Unrestricted pleasure slowly twists and distorts us. It removes us from human suffering by inducing us to disengage from those who suffer, ultimately causing us to objectify them. Sanger chose to scorn charity as a means of relieving the suffering of others, of healing them, of lifting them up and ameliorating poverty. She objectified not poverty, but the poor themselves. She loathed them. The result of such objectification when we do so, is that they lose their humanity in our eyes, as they did for Sanger.

Then we are free to contraceive and abort them into oblivion, all in the name of relieving their suffering, which is really to say, our own.

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Today is the seventh day of the Octave of Christmas.

In today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings Pope St. Gregory the Great meditates not just on our human dignity being elevated by becoming members of the Body of Christ in Baptism, but also on our dignity being elevated by sharing in His Nativity, his coming into the world like us, as a baby. He shared our humanity, and through that sharing gave us a share in His divinity.

Had Margaret Sanger grasped that truth, that cornerstone of Christian Anthropology, we would be inhabiting a very different world today. Science cannot blind itself to its crossroads with Christian Anthropology without resulting in unspeakable tragedy, as we have seen again and again.

A sermon of Pope St Leo the Great

The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace.

“God’s Son did not disdain to become a baby. Although with the passing of the years he moved from infancy to maturity, and although with the triumph of his passion and resurrection all the actions of humility which he undertook for us were finished, still today’s festival renews for us the holy childhood of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary. In adoring the birth of our Saviour, we find we are celebrating the commencement of our own life, for the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body.

Every individual that is called has his own place, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time. Nevertheless, just as the entire body of the faithful is born in the font of baptism, crucified with Christ in his passion, raised again in his resurrection, and placed at the Father’s right hand in his ascension, so with Him are they born in this nativity.

For this is true of any believer in whatever part of the world, that once he is reborn in Christ he abandons the old paths of his original nature and passes into a new man by being reborn. He is no longer counted as part of his earthly father’s stock but among the seed of the Saviour, who became the Son of man in order that we might have the power to be the sons of God.

For unless He came down to us in this humiliation, no one could reach his presence by any merits of his own.

The very greatness of the gift conferred demands of us reverence worthy of its splendour. For, as the blessed Apostle teaches, We have received not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us by God. That Spirit can in no other way be rightly worshipped, except by offering him that which we received from him.

But in the treasures of the Lord’s bounty what can we find so suitable to the honour of the present feast as the peace which at the Lord’s nativity was first proclaimed by the angel-choir?

For it is that peace which brings forth the sons of God. That peace is the nurse of love and the mother of unity, the rest of the blessed and our eternal home. That peace has the special task of joining to God those whom it removes from the world.

So those who are born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God must offer to the Father the unanimity of peace-loving sons, and all of them, adopted parts of the mystical Body of Christ, must meet in the First-begotten of the new creation. He came to do not his own will but the will of the one who sent him; and so too the Father in his gracious favour has adopted as his heirs not those that are discordant nor those that are unlike him, but those that are one with him in feeling and in affection. Those who are re-modelled after one pattern must have a spirit like the model.

The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace: for thus says the Apostle, He is our peace, who made both one; because whether we are Jew or Gentile, through Him we have access in one Spirit to the Father.”

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This is George Grant’s well-written, scholarly work on Sanger’s deadly legacy. It’s offered to the reader in order to show how Margaret Sanger hitched her deadly agenda to the junk science of its day. In the most awful of all outcomes, the deadly legacy has become mainstream, long after the junk science was disproved. In essence, eugenics was used as the Trojan Horse by Sanger and her cohort.

Even though the ‘science’ of eugenics has been disproved, it’s toxic residue lives on in its bastard child, Genetic Counseling. 93% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted today. More on that in another post.

You can download the pdf of this exceptional treatise online for free. Click Here.

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