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Archive for February, 2016

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In the wake of Pope Francis’ proposing contraception as a means of preventing microcephaly in the Zika virus epidemic, much is being made of his linking the modern day dilemma to the plight of nuns being raped in the Congo more than 55 years ago, and Pope Paul VI allegedly permitting the nuns to take contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Of course, Francis missed some whopper pandemics ongoing globally as he held out contraceptives to the hispanics in his backyard, a matter I blogged on extensively over the weekend.

Canon lawyer Ed Peters addresses the high probability that Paul VI never issued such permission. His article is worth the read.

Assuming that Paul VI, or any other pope/bishop gave such permission in the 1960’s, we are in possession of hard medical data, and subsequent teaching from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that would prevent any Pope from ever issuing such permission again.

To be clear, Humanae Vitae in 1968 put into succinct expression the constant 2,000 year teaching of the Church. It may be argued that this teaching applies to married couples and the marriage act that is frustrated and perverted by artificial contraception, and not to victims of rape who do not have an obligation to allow for the possibility of the transmission of life by the rapist. Only a monster would maintain that the Congo nuns needed to let nature take its course. So in the 1960’s when the pill was new, it seemed pretty obvious that its use in this circumstance would not be morally problematic.

That was then.

In the more than half-century since, we have learned quite a bit about the pill’s mechanisms of action. Different pills have different mechanisms. Broadly speaking, not all ovulation is prevented by the pill, and the uterine lining is thinned, making it generally inhospitable for a new embryo seeking implantation upon arrival from the Fallopian tube.

That spells abortion.

Progestin-only contraceptives increase by up to six-fold the incidence of ectopic pregnancy which is almost always lethal for the baby, and often lethal for the mother in the third world environs where Zika and other mosquito-transmitted endemic diseases lurk.

Then, there is the 2009 Dolle, et al. study on the effects of contraceptives on the rates of the most deadly form of breast cancer, Triple Negative breast cancer. In the study the age of first use of the pill was analyzed with stunning results on the rates of premenopausal Triple Negative breast cancer before the age of 45.

If a woman started the pill above the age of 22, her risk factor increased 250%

If a woman started the pill between ages 18-22, her risk factor increased 270%

If a woman started the pill below age 18, her risk factor increased 540%

So today we know that the pill causes breast cancer, ectopic pregnancy, and even the product inserts claim it may act as an abortifacient. It may well have induced cancer in all of those nulliparous women who as such are at increased risk of breast cancer. Add to that the 1974 CDF document, Declaration on Procured Abortion, and the following statement from paragraph 13:

“From a moral point of view this is certain: even if a doubt existed concerning whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder.”

Perhaps Paul VI permitted nuns to use oral contraceptives, which in no way for women religious is an offense against the marital act, as rape is a violent criminal act. But in light of what is now known, such a decision could never be made today for consecrated women being targeted for rape. It especially could never be made for married women in regions of endemic disease, not without eviscerating the 2,000 year teaching contained within Humanae Vitae.

True, your humble blogger is a medical microbiologist and not a moral theologian. But he was extensively educated in ethics and moral theology in undergraduate seminary studies and graduate seminary studies. The moral principles are clear. The epidemiology literature even moreso. The Church has various scientific pontifical commissions for advising the Holy Father and the Curia. It would be a good idea if Francis picked up the phone and had a few consultations with his commission members.

The Congo episode has been overtaken by the truth of God’s creation as revealed by science. That doesn’t increase tensions. Rather, it harmonizes medical science and the principles of moral theology on this matter.

Francis spoke very badly on this issue. While I share his concern for the poor, it is the poor who will suffer the most when International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International swoop down on these women, with Francis’ words on their lips. He needs to come up to speed on issues he finds distasteful or distracting from his primary agenda. But the plight of the poor at the hands of these international parasites is just as pressing as hunger and all the rest.

 

 

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Even the dimmest wit in the Society of Jesus can make his thoughts plainly understood. So it must be that Pope Francis knew what he was saying when he broke with 2,000 years of sacred Tradition and magisterial teaching this week when he alluded to Paul VI permitting nuns being raped in Africa to use contraception to avoid pregnancy, and used that as the moral grounds on which to permit the use of contraception in the midst of the Zika virus outbreak. In his own words, as reported by the Associated Press:

Abortion is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil at its root, no? It’s a human evil. On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one (Zika), such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.

So, avoiding pregnancy amidst the Zika outbreak is not an absolute evil? Enter proportionalism.

To be clear, he linked the use of contraceptives then to the situation he is addressing now.

Before proceeding with the moral nightmare this introduces, it is best to consider some infectious disease epidemiology and how Francis’ proportionalism betrays not only his duty to uphold all that his predecessors have taught, but also betrays a stunning ignorance of infectious diseases compounded by hemispheric blinders.

It has been reported that only 4% of Brazil’s current microcephaly cases are attributable to Zika. 17 out of 404 as of last week. And for that a Pope is willing to flush Humanae Vitae. Pia de Solenni did a masterful job at outlining the epidemiology of this outbreak, and the reader is advised to get it all here.

With Zika affecting the hemisphere from which this pope comes, and with which he has exclusively focussed his priestly life, Francis is missing some more pressing global numbers in maternal infectious disease and resulting rates of infant mobidity and mortality. There is so much more fertile ground for justifying contraception. Consider HIV/AIDS and some statistics from WHO.

Globally there are 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 2.6 million are children who contracted the virus from their mothers in utero, or through breastfeeding. Without any treatment, roughly 30-40% of pregnancies result in vertical transmission (mother to child) of HIV. With antiretroviral monotherapy, these rates can be cut in half. With combination antiretroviral therapy, the rates are cut to 2%.

So consider if 10 million women with HIV all get pregnant, and if they all have access to combination antiretroviral therapy, there would still be 200,000 babies born with HIV. Is the new teaching from the First Class Chair of Peter aboard the papal plane sufficiently broad to suggest a duty by HIV positive women to not reproduce?

Then there is the even broader health concern of global malaria. Roughly 50% of the world’s population are exposed to malaria, especially in Africa. According to WHO:

Malaria infection during pregnancy is a significant public health problem with substantial risks for the pregnant woman, her fetus, and the newborn child. Malaria-associated maternal illness and low birth weight is mostly the result of Plasmodium falciparum infection and occurs predominantly in Africa.

And in the WHO 2015 Fact Sheet on malaria:

According to the latest estimates from WHO, there were 214 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 (range 149–303 million). The African Region accounted for most global cases of malaria (88%), followed by the South-East Asia Region (10%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).

In 2015, there were an estimated 438 000 malaria deaths (range 236 000–635 000) worldwide. Most of these deaths occurred in the African Region (90%), followed by the South-East Asia Region (7%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%)…

Children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306 000 under-fives globally, including 292 000 children in the African Region. Between 2000 and 2015, the mortality rate among children under five fell by 65% worldwide and by 71% in Africa.

In the document, WHO goes on to discuss treatment and the issues of malaria in pregnancy:

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are highly effective against P. falciparum, the most prevalent and lethal malaria parasite affecting humans. Globally, the number of ACT treatment courses procured from manufacturers increased from 11 million in 2005 to 337 million in 2014. The African Region accounted for most (98%) manufacturer deliveries of ACTs in 2014.

Malaria infection during pregnancy carries substantial risks for the mother, her fetus and the newborn child. In Africa, the proportion of women who receive intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) for malaria has been increasing over time, but levels remain below national targets. In 2014, an estimated 15 million of the 28 million pregnant women at risk of malaria did not receive a single dose of IPTp.

To their credit, and unlike Francis, there is no mention of preventing the transmission of life as a solution to endemic disease.

Were time to permit, one could detail all of the tropical diseases, among others, and the effects on fetuses and neonates. 1/3 of the world’s population is infected with TB. Cholera strikes millions, etc…

Is the prevention of life itself in a disease outbreak with 4% infant morbidity really the best Pope Francis can do? Where is his exhortation for governments to come to grips with the fact that all of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring hysteria about DDT has been disproven by science over the past 50 years? Where is the exhortation to curb the mosquito populations spreading so many horrendous diseases? Where is the voice of a pope to his environmentalist friends to meet him half way and abandon their anti-human life agenda?

For all of his stated love of the poor, Francis has invited International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes to a blood meal on the very poor whose dignity he portends to uphold. By invoking Paul VI and the Congo episode with artificial contraception, he ignored NFP and the volumes written by his predecessors.

To permit artificial contraception for Zika is to have sold the family farm, to permit it for all developing nations where endemic disease is present.

Public health doesn’t involve nonexistence. Public health concerns itself with preventing and curing disease. It is clear that the Holy Father doesn’t grasp this essential truth that I learned in training as a medical microbiologist. Public Health officers cannot morally and ethically resort to killing patients or preventing human reproduction as a legitimate means of addressing crises.

The same holds true for popes.

Francis should stick to matters concerning his Holy Office, and in all humility allow himself to be guided by the unchanging wisdom of 2,000 years of magisterial teaching.

He. Is. Peter.

He should start behaving as such.

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Through the years I have done more than my fair share of writing about the abortion statistics in the Black community, of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger and her Negro Project, and of New York City’s black abortion rate that has hovered at 55-60% of all black pregnancies. It is appalling that a population demographic representing 13% of the national population should have upward of 37% of the nation’s abortions. Some 20 million over the past 43 years.

Toward that end I have promoted the movie, Maafa 21, which documents the eugenic agenda afoot in this nation for well over a century. Five years ago I helped to organize in Harlem a rally with prominent members of the black pro-life leadership, as New York City was busy passing legislation meant to cripple our thin line of crisis pregnancy centers. In that fight I gave testimony to the City Council, making known the NYC Vital Statistics report which detailed the 60% abortion rate among blacks.

For six years I have made all of this known, and simultaneously fought the urge to ask the broader question, to address fully the hateful phenomenon afoot in Black America. It is a question that must be asked, and must be dealt with, if this scourge in the inner city is ever to be brought to heel.

Is what is happening simply and solely genocide, or are we witnessing a race-based version of assisted suicide?

That one question begs several more.

Are blacks perpetual victims? Are they really as susceptible to outside forces as some would have us believe? Where does genocide end and suicide begin?

In 1838, the future great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, gave his famous address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. His words then, dealing with slavery and the nation’s future can and must be applied to the nation as a whole today, but should also be taken to heart by the black community and those who would portray them as hapless victims of an abortion juggernaut:

“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 Bonaparte 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.”

Lincoln was quite correct. As a nation of free men and free women, our destruction is inflicted from within. We tolerate not only the evil of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, but err in portraying blacks as hapless victims.

They aren’t. No more than hispanics, asians or whites are hapless victims.

That isn’t to say that blacks aren’t especially targeted by this industry. They are. But they also consent, and so the abortion mills go where the business is good.

To be certain it is a many tentacled monster, and welfare, the destruction of the black family, etc… all play a role. But the time has come to address the issue of a suicidal impulse, of which abortion is only a part, albeit a vital part.

The great lesson of the Abolition Movement, of a civil war in which over 600,000 Americans lost their lives, of the Civil Rights Movement, is that Blacks are fully human.

Fully Human.

It is as patronizing and paternalistic to portray the black community as hapless victims as it was to suggest that slavery was a mercy for those not equipped to function in western civilization.

As Lincoln said 22 years before that great American tragedy,

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.”

I have come to believe that it is less genocide and more suicide with black abortion.

God have mercy.

 

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