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Supporting Jill Stanek

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On December 24, 2009 Pro-life nurse/blogger/speaker/activist/apostle, Jill Stanek, gave me the Christmas gift of a lifetime. After having encouraged and even insisted that I start my own blog, Jill promoted it on her own extremely popular blog. See it here.

For those who may not know, Jill was the Ob/Gyn nurse who broke open wide the issue of babies born alive and left to die. Some are from botched abortions, some having severe congenital anomalies. In insisting that this issue come into the light it cost Jill her livelihood as a nurse. If there is anyone more detestable in medicine than a whistleblower, it’s a Christian, pro-life whistleblower. Jill abandoned the peace and economic surety of a solid nursing career to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of the life issues. Like Peter and the other apostles who left their fishermen’s nets to follow Jesus, Jill left it all behind and never looked back.

In that time, Jill jumped into the emerging world of blogging, recognizing the internet as the new town square for the shrinking global village. She has gathered under her roof at Jillstanek.com every activist, physician, scientist, clergy person with a positive program and promoted their work. She has become a hub of news and information. When Twitter emerged, Jill jumped right on board and has used the medium to mount several successful campaigns against the abortion industry.

All during that time, she has crisscrossed the nation and traveled the globe in her apostolic mission to end abortion and restore a culture of life and a civilization of love. Those of us who do so know the toll this takes on our family lives and on our finances. In all of that time Jill has never asked for support for her blog, and following her example neither have I. However, today Jill has posted on her blog a very modest request for support. Read it here. It is the first time in her blog’s eight years that she has done so. If she’s asking, then there is good reason.

I would humbly ask that those reading this consider lending support for Jill’s ongoing and indefatigable work in ending this horrendous scourge of abortion. Click the link to her site, read her request, consider how incredibly modest her request is (compared to many who always ask for as much as you can possibly afford), and then prayerfully consider your response.

I am only one of many, many people with whom Jill Stanek has been completely generous with her time and resources.

It’s reciprocity time.

God Bless.

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In the debate surrounding the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link), there has arisen a core of individuals whose demeanor can best be described as zealous. This group has all but abandoned the core scientific principle of allowing themselves to be led, without prejudice, by the preponderance of the scientific data. It is a dangerous tack that they have taken for as scientists we are trained in a method that is meant to protect us, and the public who listen to our informed opinion, from the errors that come with thinking not in empirical terms, but from hewing to outmoded orthodoxies. Scientists and physicians fall into this error time and again, which precludes being open to new information. Currently the abortion breast cancer debate swirling in Australia as one of the chief proponents of this link (Dr. Angela Lanfranchi) is there to give a presentation on the topic. This debate provides us a window into this issue of orthodoxies creeping into the scientific community and taking stubborn hold. The identity of the orthodox wing in this debate, and its machinations, may be surprising.

As the Canadian Nobel Laureate (Chemistry), Dr. John Polanyi, noted:

At the heart of science lies discovery which involves a change in worldview. Discovery in science is possible only in societies which accord their citizens the freedom to pursue the truth where it may lead and which therefore have respect for different paths to that truth.

While Polanyi’s words beg to be taken to heart, the reality behind the denial of the ABC link is rooted in precisely the abuse of intellectual freedom Polanyi abhors. For over a decade in the United States all major medical and cancer societies have adopted the position that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. They have done so based upon a single workshop conducted at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Louise Brinton, who dismissed the unambiguous data in the literature establishing an ABC link, chaired this workshop. In it only those on her side of the issue were given a voice. Brinton would go on to coauthor a paper six years later that included oral contraceptive use and induced abortion as risk factors for breast cancer. For an excellent update on the state of the international literature in the field, Dr. Joel Brind gives one here.

Far from discredited junk science, researchers all across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas continue to do research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and continue to substantiate the ABC link. Their data, contained in two meta analyses discussed by Dr. Brind, all build on a devastatingly simple biological model that even the data deniers at NCI do not refute.

When a woman becomes pregnant her estrogen levels increase 2,000 times greater than baseline. The immediate effect is a swelling of breast tissue as the number of ductal cells roughly double. These cells are immature, undifferentiated, and cancer-prone. In the latter part of the second trimester and during the third trimester human placental lactogen is produced by the placenta, which matures and differentiates about 85% of the breast tissue from the cancer-prone Type 1 and Type 2 cells to milk producing and cancer resistant Type 3 and Type 4 cells. With breast-feeding and successive pregnancies the remaining 15% of cells are successively transformed to cancer resistant cells.

This is not only true in humans, but has been repeatedly demonstrated in animal models as well.

These facts are not in dispute by either side. Neither are the data showing that women who suffer first trimester miscarriage have no increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who have induced abortion, as their hormone levels never really increase appreciably. Neither in dispute are the data that demonstrate the earlier a woman has a first full term pregnancy, the lower her risk for breast cancer. Neither are the data by Danish epidemiologist Dr. Mads Melbye who discovered a 3% increased risk of breast cancer for every week after week seven of gestation where women have an induced abortion. He found an 89% increased risk of breast cancer after week eighteen in women who have had induced abortions. Melbye, it must be noted, denies the validity of his own statistically significant data.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Melbye, Brinton, and the rest of the NCI coterie deny the validity of their own data (as well as data from all over the globe), data that time and time again substantiate the ABC link. Their sole reason for denying the data in case-control studies (which are retrospective analyses) is the assertion that women who have had induced abortions are more likely to recall them, or report them if they have breast cancer. Dr. Janet Daling who included in one of her studies a test of this putative bias, studied women with cervical cancer and found absolutely no recall bias in her cases or controls. That makes sense because nearly all cervical cancers are caused by human papilloma virus. Janet Daling also publishes with the deniers.

That’s all they have: A disproven assertion, destroyed by one of their own.

That’s all there is behind the attack on results substantiating an ABC link in over seventy peer reviewed papers and two meta analyses. A small group of deniers with a large platform who didn’t give time or fair hearing at the workshop held to address this significant objection to results that cut across nations, cultures, religions, and reproductive practices and belief systems.

So how to explain all of this? The elephant in the room isn’t induced abortion as that which prevents attaining the protective effect of placental lactogen in the latter stages of pregnancy. The issue is the legality of induced abortion and what the frightening specter of breast cancer fifteen or twenty years later might mean. In other words, it’s scientists denying scientific data because of a political agenda. In the words of Dr. Leslie Bernstein who helped run the sham NCI workshop which so many scientific societies have swallowed uncritically:

The biggest bang for the buck is the first birth, and the younger you are, the better off you are….There are so many other messages we can give women about lifestyle modification and the impact of lifestyle and risk that I would never be a proponent of going around and telling them that having babies is the way to reduce your risk. I don’t want the issue relating to induced abortion to breast cancer risk to be part of the mix of the discussion of induced abortion, its legality, its continued availability. I think it should not be part of the argument.

This flies in the face of the freedom so essential to not only pursuing scientific truth, but in keeping the scientific community the free society Polanyi so eloquently proposes. Political orthodoxy has trumped the science and reason of hundreds of epidemiologists all over the globe, in scores of studies. Predictably the deniers will as a last resort point to the religious faith of some, suggesting that people of faith are incapable of adhering to the scientific method and discovering truth. Such orthodoxy prevents the funding by NCI of further studies along the ABC line of investigation, which only hurts women and their families in the long term.

This month, Australians have in their midst a physician and surgeon who boldly proclaims the truth of global discoveries. Can we all be wrong? And should a small band of highly placed scientific truth deniers sell the public on the scientifically heretical idea that there is such a thing as settled science around hotly contested issues? If one’s hypothesis isn’t open to being falsified by further research, then by definition one has exited science and entered the realm of orthodoxy. Such is the political orthodoxy, so truthfully stated by Dr. Bernstein, that has led so very many away from a small mountain of clear and convincing data on an issue impacting hundreds of millions of women who have had induced abortions.

This isn’t how good science is done. It is the very thing of which they accuse us: substituting political orthodoxy for science and reason.

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A few thoughts on the growing Ebola scare for my friends and loved ones…

This comes from the heart and mind of a medical microbiologist. Yes, I think that not enough is being done to shut down travel from the endemic areas, and this carries with it the potential for ebola’s introduction here. I also think the American aid workers should have been treated in the hot zone for the same reasons. While ebola is truly frightful, there is no cause for panic at this juncture.

NONE.

PERIOD.

What is needed is vigilance and sound policy decisions. This is the time to call your Congressional representatives. However, I’m seeing plenty of paranoid meanderings from folks who think that Obama wants to unleash ebola on the streets, that “THEY,” whoever “THEY” are, want to wipe out Africans in an attempt to conquer a continent with vast resources.

Look, biological warfare is indiscriminite. To aid an outbreak and shepherd it into a pandemic, thinking it will somehow limit itself to the despised class, is breathtakingly naive. There is a reason why nobody has deployed biological weapons in war. They are the gift that keeps on giving.

IF an outbreak occurs here, we’ll deal with all of the safety measures when that happens. Right now, there are no signs pointing to any outbreak. So let’s just put our trust in the Lord, be vigilant, be proactive and call our politicians regarding restrictions on travel, and in the words of Psalm 46:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Breathe.

(It isn’t airborne, either.)

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fatigue

The internet social media sites have lately been swamped with photos and videos of mass executions, raped women, severed heads and blood flowing like a river. A monster has been unleashed on the civilized world once again, but to be fair to Islam, this monster has been seen before. Among some of the many practitioners have been the ancient Greeks, Romans, Caananite cults, Medeival and Renaissance Christians (Yes, Catholics!), Turks, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, Communists (in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Soviet Union), etc.

Islam does seem to have a greater degree of recidivism, however.

In all of these episodic spasms of violence, it is not usually the civilization itself, but death cults that well up within them and sweep up many in much the same way ordinary people can find themselves easily swept up in a vigilante mob and doing what hours before would have been unthinkable. Much is the same in the latest spasm of satanic slaughter in the Middle East.

We are alarmed at the persecution of Christians, their wholesale slaughter, and that of rival Muslim sects as well. We are sickened at the sight of their slaughter and want to do something about it.

But what?

Beyond prayer and consciousness raising, what else can be done? The answer is military, but in a war-weary nation that actually helped precipitate this by the sudden withdrawal of our troops (creating the vacuum for ISIS) there is no political will or stomach for another fight. So the answer is what?

A steady diet of these photos will only produce compassion fatigue, the genesis of which is illustrated in the Venn diagram below:

Diagram - Compassion Fatigue

Moreover, there is a legitimate debate about the potentially voyeuristic participation in such atrocity and its effects on the psyche and soul. Such imagery becomes like pornography in requiring ever greater thresholds of depravity depicted in order to elicit arousal. This occurred with the nightly news images during the Vietnam War, which had no greater degree of atrocity than other wars, as the historical record continues to bear. Eventually we became outraged, then numbed, then seized with the desire to move on.

Teddy Kennedy led the defunding, we declared victory and came home. This created the vacuum for Pol Pot and his slaughter of over three million humans in just a few short years. In Iraq, history is repeating itself, and the question is what do we do with these images?

On FaceBook I have joined Deacon Greg Kandra in declaring that I will unfriend anyone who posts these images. I don’t need them on a daily basis, and their abundance will merely desensitize me. In just a few short weeks I have already lost the ability to feel shock and horror. It’s becoming just more of the same, and that’s the real shock and horror.

In a recent blog post, Fr. Dwight Longnecker declared that we dare not look away. I disagree. The real danger is incurring the fate of Lots’ wife, of turning to stone for having looked back.

If we truly care, we’ll act. We’ll actually DO something. That will begin with electing new national leadership and rebuilding our military. Death cults have only ever been stopped by military force, and this one is no exception. However, maintaining our edge means not looking on the horror with unfiltered gaze.

That’s the challenge.

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The Magic of Belief

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Through the years I have been asked to review a good many books on topics from microbiology, to evolution, biomedical ethics, spirituality, and even the life of Cardinal Newman. It’s always a privilege to do so, to be a part of the birthing of an author’s dream, to help bring forward an idea, a perspective, or message that will have great consequence in the lives of readers. Earlier this year I was asked to do just that for a series of children’s books released a week ago by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing, a series that every parent of a young child can and should support. What was different was that I was approached directly by the author, Mike Lane, and the author is my friend.

This is a story that just doesn’t happen to new authors, and has happened to the most deserving married couple I’ve ever known. It involves a first-time author, whose work is just the sort that we parents dream of our children reading, that has been picked up by Scholastic Books, and recommended by the Junior Library Guild months before its release date.

Pure magic.

I met Mike Lane in college when he began dating my friend, Donna, who has always been to me the personification of goodness itself. Having met a man of equal character, Donna and Mike were married before long and settled into building a life together. As I came to know Mike, I learned that he had a passion for doing magic. He would perform for anyone, anytime, anywhere. As the years rolled by, Mike’s passion grew into a show that he would do for children’s parties, and finally, sell-out dinner theater. People cannot get enough of “Magician Mike Lane.”

It’s good, clean fun. Nothing dark, or brooding, or frightening, or edgy. It’s old school, “How’d he do that?” kind of magic. It starts with fun and leaves you wanting more by the time it’s over. Adults are returned to the innocence of childhood as the cynical accretions of time are stripped away, and the primordial experience of wonder grabs hold once again. There’s good reason why people cannot get enough of Mike’s magic.

One day, a few years ago, Mike shared with me a longstanding dream that had been brewing beneath the surface, and was now bubbling over with the irresistibility of an idea that could no longer be ignored. Mike had a desire to write a children’s book, and he shared the storyline with me. As he spoke, he actually had several really good ideas, all involving children as characters, friendship, magic, and the central theme of believing in oneself. Through a fortuitous series of events, Mike had the opportunity to pitch his ideas at Feiwel and Friends after several rejections from other publishers (“Great stuff, but nobody knows you…”).

This time, things would be different. Gathered in that room was a team of sharp publishers who knew the goodness of the story, and more importantly, saw the goodness of the man before them. As he performed his magic for them, and spoke of his idea, a series of books was born. They tell the story of Mike Weiss, a fidgety fourth-grader who can’t seem to get it together. (It bore an uncanny resemblance to myself in school.) From the opening of book one of The Magic Shop, The Vanishing Coin:

“Nine-year-old Mike Weiss slumped in a hard chair outside the principal’s office, Fourth grade was supposed to be a fresh start, but he was right back where he always was. Every year since kindergarten, at least once a week. In trouble.

“He wasn’t a bad kid. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t hurt anyone. He just couldn’t sit still. Sometimes he did things without meaning to…”

The story tells of a supportive (and not punitive) teacher and principal, kindly secretary in the principal’s office, loving parents, and Mike’s new friend, Nora, who accepts him as he is and complements his personality. It involves a bully, Mike’s nemesis, and tells of how Mike and Nora discover a magic shop, whose keeper takes Mike under his wing and begins a mentoring relationship. Throughout, the reader is entertained by Mike’s ups and downs in school, cheers him on as he finally finds mastery in something nobody else can do, bedeviling his nemesis by showing strength and proficiency in an area where the bully cannot top him, and soars to new heights with Nora as the wind beneath his wings. The theme throughout is the simple, powerful admonition: Believe!

Throughout the well-illustrated book the readers are given a peek into The Book of Secrets, as they are shown several of the magic tricks performed by Mike Weiss. That’s part of the genius in this series. By teaching the protagonist’s tricks, which are easily mastered, the reader joins the author and Mike Weiss in the shared experience of bringing wonder to family and friends. And that’s just the first book in a series that develops the story and teaches new magic, new life lessons.

To know Mike Lane is to know the secret of what is rapidly developing into a runaway success. He is a profoundly good, loving, and decent husband and father, with a wife who is his equal in every way. The story of the protagonist is really Mike Lane’s. The goodness, fidelity, encouragement, and gentle wisdom of Nora is Mike’s wife, Donna. The author and his work are one.

At the rollout in Barnes and Noble on Staten Island three weeks ago, Mike sat with co-author, Kate Egan, (A professional author and editor with monumental credentials) and signed books for 4 ½ hours, with a line stretching around the store that never abated (wait time: 1 ½ hours). It was a George Bailey moment as the community turned out in droves for our beloved, “Magician Mike Lane.” Sales approached nearly 600 books, and Mike’s signing was the second largest in the history of the store. As advance word spread to the schools and bookstores where Mike went the following week on a national tour, the stores were chagrined when they had no books for signing, as the local schools snapped them up for their children in advance of Mike’s appearances.

It’s a pleasure to take a break from the heaviness of bioethics and promote something for our children’s character formation that harkens back to the goodness and simplicity we parents and grandparents remember from our own childhoods.

It’s a comfort to know that there are publishers who see the goodness for which we all clamor and are proud to present it.

It’s refreshing to see a team that approaches children with an appeal to all that is good, and wholesome, and decent in human character and doesn’t adulterate it with an edgy agenda.

Most of all, it has been my blessing to know since college the love and friendship of Mike and Donna, to see them raise their children up to their high standard of goodness and kindness, and to see this book series open a window for countless children to share in the fruits of Mike and Donna’s wisdom and goodness. A father’s simple, yet powerful admonition to a generation of children in a culture often hostile to them:

Believe!

The books are available here.

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It’s been quite a journey, one that I swore I would never make.

I would never blog, and I would never get involved in the pro-life movement. Having worked with unwed mothers for five years, then with kids with HIV/AIDS for two at Covenant House in New York’s Times Square during the 1980’s (before Disney took over), I had put my social activism behind me as I embarked on a career in science.

God, evidently, had other plans.

Not appreciating the power of the medium, nor of the maturity and sophistication of the pro-life movement, I was stuck in the typical academic mindset of refereed journals and academic conferences. But the truth be told, while there is still the great need for peer-reviewed research, there are precious few peers left in academia who hold to traditional morality and ethics. The American academy has been thoroughly infiltrated by leftist hacks who know only radicalized autonomy. It says something when Princeton’s Peter Singer has to stay awake at night trying to invent ways of staying ahead of the extremist curve.

No, the real intellectual mavericks have gone back to the future. The wedding of traditional Hippocratic medicine and Catholic Healthcare with contemporary medicine, technology, and law. They are not so present in the colleges as they are in the think tanks, the laws firms, the pro-life organizations on the right. The real heavy-lifting is being done on blogs and in the other social media, while the left have marched straight into Auschwitz and Dachau and set up shop.

In four years, I have tried to chronicle the descent of medicine into hell, the expansion of abortion within hospitals as clinics continue to close, of the increase in euthanasia, of Planned Parenthood’s ongoing eugenics program aimed at blacks and other people of color, of Obamacare’s thorough malignancy, and of the corruption of the scientific leadership in the nation.

Along the way, we’ve seen the fall of pro-life titans in the clergy, and the continued rise of an ever-younger and more vocal generation who have had enough of the culture of death.

I have met and had the privilege of working with hundreds of the finest people God ever made, and have become involved in some excellent research endeavors, as well as traveling the nation to teach the fundamental truth of medical science, showing how it all lines up on our side of the fence.

It’s been anything but boring, and for so many blessings I am truly grateful.

I am grateful to all who stop in and read, who comment, who challenge and argue, who affirm, who offer sage counsel, and their own priceless experiences.

I am grateful to know that so many others travel the same road, and have allowed me the privilege of walking that road with them.

I am grateful to God for all of that, and most especially for a wife and children who walk this road, too; who are so understanding when daddy needs to travel to so many cities and states, and who support me with their love, their prayers, and their patience.

There are times when I miss the solitude and the zen of lab work, but they are few and far between. In truth, I never realized how necessary this work is, how many physicians and scientists are needed out here in the virtual town square. I never realized how challenging and rewarding it would all be as we all join to save what is left of a Judeo-Christian civilization.

For as challenging as it all is, I sincerely believe the toughest fights are still before us.

I have no illusions about seeing the end of abortion in my lifetime. It won’t happen.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in miracles, I’m just not sure that a miracle is what is necessary for the big picture.

God desires our hearts first. Our legislation ought to flow from hearts overflowing with love of God and neighbor. In the broader economy of salvation, it’s more important that we rebuild a civilization rooted in an understanding of who we are, of our great dignity, and of our resultant duties.

There is simply no room in such a civilization for abortion, eugenics, euthanasia, gay marriage, and all the rest.

My children aren’t perfect, but they’re wonderful. They radiate an inner beauty that comes from knowing who they are, knowing how unconditionally they are loved, how perfectly they are valued. Because they know how perfectly they are loved by their parents, they can believe they are loved even better by God. That security gives them the room to grow into the sort of citizens God expects both on earth and in Heaven. What we have here in microcosm is what is needed in macrocosm.

We’ll never end abortion, nor any of the other ills, until that day comes.

Along the way, we have much work to do in rebuilding Western Civilization from the ground up. It’s a blessing to have the company, the prayers and encouragement, of so may extraordinary people along the way.

As Coming Home embarks on its fifth year, we need to double our efforts at prayer for the bishops of the Church, the priests and religious, as well as all clergy of the other faiths. We will never build a civilization of love without them.

Once again, thanks to all who have welcomed me into the movement, and who have sustained me with your kind words, prayers, and good humor. It’s appreciated more than you know.

God Bless.

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We continue our Divine Mercy Novena today.

We Pray…

✞ ✞ ✞

Day 8
Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ARE DETAINED IN PURGATORY, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.

Lord Jesus, we take the pain of our doubts and confusion, of disappointment and despair including those of Dr. Booker and offer them to you to be washed clean by the waters of your love and mercy. In life, he lived the very definition of Hell as he practiced his murderous trade. We ask that if he is in Purgatory, that you accept the merits of the saints in the pro-life movement, the sacrifices all in this movement make, and apply their merits to Dr. Booker and any from the abortion industry who suffer the pains of purgatory.

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

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