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Archive for the ‘Biomedical Ethics’ Category

In March of this year an article calling for the normalization of infanticide for any reason was published and created something of a stir. In the fluid dynamics of this election year, the malignancy of the article was quickly overtaken by other events, and it is worthy of a revisit in some detail, especially in light of government-controlled healthcare and who has a vested interest in the new eugenics.

In analyzing this paper, one can only arrive at an apt analogy that runs afoul of Godwin’s Law, which states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

There is an exception to this rule, and that is when the contemporary circumstance under discussion moves beyond tenuous analogy and becomes recapitulation of history, echoing George Santayana’s admonition that those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. In March of this year, no less a respected journal than the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME) published an article worthy of the rabid Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher’s screeds in his publication, Der Sturmer. We do well to recall how Streicher and the other Nazi leaders who went to the gallows with him deemed Jews, homosexuals, the mentally retarded, and those with autism (among others) as, “Life unworthy of life.”

Such analogy is quite apt in the case of the article in question.

The article, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?, by authors Alberto Giubilini (Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; and Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), and Frencesca Minerva (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) is published in J Med Ethics (2012). doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411 and may be viewed and downloaded here.

In their abstract, the authors state:

“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

[emphasis added, G.N.]

What follows is a three-page argument for redefining infanticide, beginning with justifying it on the basis of killing those handicapped that might have slipped through the genetic submarine net, and then opening the redefined infanticide to any parent killing their newborn for any reason at all. It is a fascinating and profoundly disturbing read into the process of malevolent apologetics.

The article begins with the typical appeal to the most extreme, grotesque, and heart-wrenching cases in order to establish the authors as reasonable and garner sympathy for the mothers whom the authors are, a priori, giving permission for and absolving of premeditated murder. The first example offered is Treacher-Collins Syndrome. As the authors state:

“One example is the case of Treacher-Collins syndrome (TCS), a condition that affects 1 in every 10 000 births causing facial deformity and related physiological failures, in particular potentially life-threatening respiratory problems. Usually those affected by TCS are not mentally impaired and they are therefore fully aware of their condition, of being different from other people and of all the problems their pathology entails. Many parents would choose to have an abortion if they find out, through genetic prenatal testing, that their fetus is affected by TCS. However, genetic prenatal tests for TCS are usually taken only if there is a family history of the disease. Sometimes, though, the disease is caused by a gene mutation that intervenes in the gametes of a healthy member of the couple. Moreover, tests for TCS are quite expensive and it takes several weeks to get the result. Considering that it is a very rare pathology, we can understand why women are not usually tested for this disorder.”

The authors then move on to Down Syndrome, citing that only 64% of European cases studied were diagnosed in utero, leaving 1,700 live births whose mothers might very well have aborted had they known. Incredibly, the authors go on to state:

“Euthanasia in infants has been proposed by philosophers for children with severe abnormalities whose lives can be expected to be not worth living and who are experiencing unbearable suffering.”

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

Lest anyone doubt that the authors do not intend those with Down Syndrome, they immediately follow this thought with:

“It might be maintained that ‘even allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the potential of Down’s syndrome children, this potential cannot be said to be equal to that of a normal child’. But, in fact, people with Down’s syndrome, as well as people affected by many other severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

“Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

And there we have it, at this moment in time when the United States has its last chance to dismantle Obamacare with its rationing systems established by Donald Berwick, it is argued that the state has a compelling interest in not only screening and aborting those with genetic conditions who might lead perfectly happy lives if born, but there is a compelling reason for the state to intervene and commit infanticide for those who are born when it is the state paying the bills.

Then, to underscore their position, the authors state:

“Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.”

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

In that last breathtaking sentence, the authors leave behind Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the “Death with Dignity’ movement, euthanasia, and even the vile excesses of the Dutch physician assisted suicide experience, propelling us into the scenario where those who may be perfectly healthy apart from even the mildest limitations imposed by a genetic condition may be murdered by their parents. In fact, the authors go even further when they state in their abstract:

“ what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

[emphasis added, G.N.]

Given the widespread practice of abortion on demand, no questions asked, this means that parents of newborns ought to have the right to commit infanticide for any reason at all. In the final analysis, then, abortion rights are simply being used as a moral and ethical pretext for the wholesale and indiscriminate murder of newborns.

Presumably fathers, who have no say in abortion because of a woman’s bodily autonomy, would now have a right to murder an unwanted baby in order to escape the ‘economic burden’ of child support. While such a move would balance out the current inequity in paternal rights, it is an equality born in the pit of hell.

We have moved beyond the musings of an isolated radical such as Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton University and have, with this article, the evidence that such thinking has found a comfortable niche in the medical mainstream, as the article passed peer review and the exacting standards of the editorial board at a mainstream medical ethics journal. In so doing, they have all outdone the wildest excesses of Julius Streicher.

By 1938, Julius Streicher was too much even for Hitler’s inner-circle, and was marginalized. What is incredible is that not even Streicher at his worst sank to the depths of such indiscriminate, blood-thirsty depravity in calling for infanticide as a function of nothing more than parental whim. Even Streicher had standards, such as they were. For Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva, hate-filled tirades are entirely unnecessary. For them, all that is necessary for infanticide is ice-cold indifference and detachment. Anti-semitic screeds and wild fulminations are so twentieth century.

People such as Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva have forfeit their membership in the ranks of civilized, moral, and ethical academics. Having argued against the two-patient model of medical care in obstetrics, which sees the fetus as a patient, they have now set their sights on the standards of pediatric medicine, which sees the newborn as an autonomous human being meriting all the rights of any other patient. Such a standard, if adopted, must necessarily be applied in every area of medicine where a patient of any age is dependant on others. When the comfort of the provider is the only standard for judging murder as a solution, how could it not?

In Part II, we’ll see the authors’ justifications for redefining infanticide in this paper which reads like a prosecutor’s exhibit from the Nuremberg trials, or to quote the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Defining deviancy down.”

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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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Recently, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dropped her guard and gave the American people a good insight into how it is that Obamacare will ultimately stay solvent: The nonexistence of patients who, not being alive, cannot make claims upon the system.

From CNSNews.com

During the subcommittee hearing, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said that contraception provided by insurance companies to people employed by religious organizations under the future form of the rule Sebelius described would not be was not free.

“Who pays for it? There’s no such thing as a free service,” Murphy asked.

Sebelius responded that that is not the case with insurance.

“The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for cost of contraception,” Sebelius answered.

Murphy expressed surprise by the answer.

“So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?” Murphy asked.

Sebelius replied, “Providing contraception is a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children.”

Murphy again sought clarification.

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back,” he said.

Sebelius responded, “Family planning is a critical health benefit in this country, according to the Institute of Medicine.”

See and hear Sebelius in her own words:

Now this week comes word that the Congessional Budget Office estimates Obamacare will cost twice its originally promised cost. News also comes of the return of what Sarah Palin dubbed, “Death Panels” for healthcare rationing. Far from right wing flights of fancy, these realities already exist in chilling bureaucratic routine across the nation in hospital committees who decide when patients have used too many resources, and in Oregon’s health care system where the government decides when a patient’s remaining quality of life justifies the expense of keeping them alive.

Here is the ABC News article about one such patient, Barbara Wagner. It is a portal into the national future.

Adding fuel to the fire is the issue of states increasingly strained by the growing number of civil service pensioners who do their 20 years and retire on full pensions.

Add to that the Social Security insolvency.

It becomes clear that Sebelius has not so much committed a gaffe as she has revealed the solution her fellow travelers see to our insolvency issues: decreasing the number of claimants on the system decreases the system’s expenditures. Nonexistence of humans on the front end of the life spectrum will fund the cost of the HHS contraception mandate through the offsetting of the non-conceived human’s non-claims on the system. Applying the same thinking on the other end of the life spectrum will realize a bumper crop of savings for local, state, and the federal government when civil service pensioners are denied life-saving services, or have them delayed long enough in rationing lines in the hopes that the patient will be overtaken by the disease while waiting.

Being a Pacific Northwestern Governor, Sarah Palin looked to one of her closest neighbors, Oregon, and saw clearly the future of the pro-abortion, anti-life, rabidly eugenic left wing. It is far easier to cull the herd than grow the economy, especially in a political party that is opposed to all known and practical sources of energy; to a political party that has made a central plank of their platform the reduction of the world’s population.

We are a nation in serious, serious trouble.

To only blame the Obama administration or the Democrat Party is to miss the fact that sufficient numbers of Americans agree with these people. Far too many uphold the right for someone else to slaughter their child, even though they are personally opposed to doing so.

So many uphold he right of others to force doctors to perform manslaughter through physician-assisted suicide, even if it violates the doctor’s conscience.

So many uphold the forcing of all medical students to perform abortions against their consciences.

So many uphold the forcing of religious institutions and private businesses to purchase contraceptives against their consciences.

90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, with costs to the parents and the ‘system’ cited by physicians and genetic counselors in a coercive campaign to rid the world of these “defectives”.

Far too many in this nation support the coercion of physicians and private citizens to do the government’s bidding when doing so violates consciences formed by thousands of years of civilized precepts. Now we have established that private and institutional conscience is the property of the state, the state is taking full advantage of the opportunity to advance its agenda.

Hitler never could have accomplished his malignant agenda without the support of the German people in sufficient numbers. It takes more than a village, it takes a nation to be good or evil. Today, our nation balances on a razor’s edge.

It will take more than the November elections to turn things around. It’s going to take the realization of what is at stake. It’s no longer someone else’s ox getting gored.

We’re all in peril.

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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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Please bear with me on this one. It comes with a warning. This is gut-wrenching and nauseating, but needs to be aired.

After having worked for seven years with teen prostitutes at Covenant House in the 1980’s, I honestly thought that I had seen it all. It’s tough to live with the memories of all that I saw, especially as I am now a father and understand the fragility of children from the perspective one can only develop as a loving parent. Mostly I try to forget, because the memories are all the more horrifying when I think of my own children. Some of the most damaging experiences our kids at Covenant House had experienced, and from which they were running, were those of incest.

Teen prostitution, incest, abortion, IVF. What do they all have in common?

Control. Callous Disregard. Objectification. Commodification.

I guess I haven’t seen it all. On their blogs this weekend, both Elizabeth Scalia and Deacon Greg Kandra covered a horrifying incident in Rosemount High School, Minnesota. From the Star Tribune:

A prank on some blindfolded Rosemount High School athletes — they were unknowingly and at times amorously kissed by their parents during a recent pep fest — is collecting YouTube views by the tens of thousands and has the principal apologizing for what happened.

Here’s how the practical joke, originated by school staff members, played out during the assembly on Dec. 8:

The captains of the school’s winter sports teams — boys and girls — were lined up and blindfolded. They were told they would be kissed and then asked to guess who was on the other side of their lips.

Some of the parents during the 59-second YouTube video are seen holding the kisses for several seconds, cupping their child’s faces or embracing and swaying.

One mother moved her son’s hand down to her behind during the encounter. Another mom has her son down on the gym floor to the delight of two male students nearby.

The hoots, screams and laughter rolled on as the students pulled off their blindfolds to realize it was Mom or Dad they were smooching.

Read the rest here.

See the video here.

The story goes on to tell how the principal apologized because some people were offended (not because anything intrinsically immoral, illegal, or psychologically and developmentally damaging had occurred on his watch).

The article goes on to say:

Principal John Wollersheim said he received e-mails and phone calls soon after the pep fest from people who said they were offended by the display. This week, he said, the feedback he’s received has been more supportive.

The focus here should be on the giddy delight of the crowd in the video, and the general support of the principal.

We have imploded as a civilization.

Children are not viewed as autonomous human beings from the very earliest stages of their lives, with parents freezing dozens of their embryonic babies in IVF labs, mothers and fathers (married!!!) aborting their less-than-perfect babies with poor prenatal diagnoses, and now incest-as-pep rally fare.

At its core is the view of the child as property to be disposed of at will. They have ceased being persons to their narcissistic parents and school administrators, and contrary to protests from people around the blogosphere, this is NOT an isolated incident.

The cheers of the crowd and the preponderance of support for the principal tell us just how bad this has seeped into the collective consciousness of society. Need more proof?

The Star Tribune story is most notable for what it DIDN”T report: The arrest of the parents. The firing of the school personnel responsible. The involvement of child protective services. It didn’t report these things because they didn’t happen. Even if these students were beyond the age of statutory rape, what of the younger children present for whom incest was offered as wholesome pep rally entertainment?

When we come to the broader culture with an anthropology that values all human life with an intrinsic dignity from its earliest stages and we make little headway, we need to look at the impediments to our message in the broader culture.

This story, in all of its sordid dimensionality, is a chilling and sobering look into the soul of a civilization that has completely imploded. If we are to be successful in our life apologetics, we will have to take all of this into account. We need to rebuild from the ground-up, and it can’t be done without evangelizing with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

God have mercy on us all.

Part II Here

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