Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

For the second time within a year, England has a high-profile case of court-mandated murder of a desperately ill child. The first was Charlie Gard, and now comes Alfie Evans.

Alfie missed several developmental milestones in his first seven months of life, which did not alarm physicians at the time. It’s not known precisely what his neurodegenerative disorder is, and some say it may be something akin to Charlie Gard’s Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome (MDS). That’s key to understanding the full horror and depravity of the English judiciary in this case, as well as that of the National Health Service (NHS).

While the English physicians are quite certain that Alfie cannot recover, they do not know what they are facing. They are so possessed of medical certitude that they have not only sought to end life-sustaining treatment, but have argued against the boy being brought abroad for treatment.


And why the complicity of the courts?

And since when are parental rights to seek treatment for their desperately ill children abrogated by the physicians who can’t even identify the disease, and the courts with no evidence of incompetence on the part of the parents?

What’s worse is that the global narrative has shifted from arguing over whether a patient is still alive, cardiac vs. brain death, to arguing that they have no hope of recovering their former functionality and quality of life. In other words we are now squarely within Eugenics and Euthanasia.

This particular expression of euthanasia is actually First Degree Murder. When Alfie’s ventilator was removed, along with oxygen, food, and hydration, Alfie breathed on his own, and continues to breathe on his own. After several hours of fighting with staff, Alfie was given oxygen and hydration. At this writing,more than 48 hours later, he continues to live, and the courts have determined that he may not be taken abroad.

Alfie. MUST. Die.

The police ringing the building are a frightening testimony to this malignant judicial resolve.

The courts have stated that parents understandably want to hang on after hope has been lost. Tragically, there are far too many physicians, nurses, and judges who have never understood that hope is the irrational driving force behind many medical and scientific breakthroughs.

Take cancer for example. Hope drives cancer research, and the trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of researcher hours over the past half-century. Looking at the daunting challenge in the 1950’s, before we knew anything about DNA and its role in cancer, how irrational would it have sounded if trillions of dollars, and millions of collective years of research would be required to cure this umbrella group of diseases? Yet, here we are, with many cancers either curable, or with outstanding five-year remission rates. A similar story could be told of HIV/AIDS, and the fact that it is a very manageable disease today.

Imagine if the pessimists were in the driver’s seat at the outset. As the AIDS quilt tells the tale, a frightening number of people died on the way to today’s manageability. The same for cancer.

As any cancer or HIV researcher will attest, even in cases of seeming futility, experimental protocols yield vital data for future treatment designs. They also will attest that surprises happen when we least expect them to. Alfie has already surprised everyone by his continued breathing. Imagine if he were given a fair chance.

Fair chances point toward a central reality in biomedical research: You can’t advance the therapeutic ball if you kill all the hard cases.

There is a war on for the soul of humanity. The Culture of Death has been holding high carnival for decades with abortion, and now the slippery slope from physician-assisted suicide, to euthanasia, to outright court-sanctioned murder rooted in a pervasive eugenics. There is no room in this worldview for faith, hope, or love. There is only expedience, and expedience in the place of faith, hope, and love, never solved a biomedical riddle. None of us who has ever labored in a lab was ever driven by expedience sans hope. The work of healing research requires a soul, the kind of soul missing in action in the Gard and Evans decisions. Faith, hope, and love are the forces that sustain our greatest minds in science and medicine. They inspire and sustain in the face of repeated failure and setback.

So what’s it all about, Alfie? It’s about faith, hope, and love, Alfie.


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The nation has become gripped with fear, a healthy fear, of the Ebola virus and how easily it might spread out of control in our crowded urban centers. The fear has not yet turned to panic, and one can feel the struggle of our public health personnel as they try mightily to prevent panic and still do what must be done to prevent a full blown outbreak here at home. Naturally, people wonder if the government is telling us the truth about the minimal danger it claims Ebola poses.

So, are we being told the truth about Ebola? Is the government lying to us simply in order to prevent a panic?

It all depends on how one defines terms such as truth and lying. There is the unvarnished truth, therapeutic doses of truth (which contains lying by omission), etc. We do well to stop and consider the full dimensionality of the moment we are in, and consider the historical lessons from the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. Critiques offered here are not political, and indeed there is plenty of bipartisan criticism to go around. We are not in a political moment. We are in an American moment, facing an indiscriminate killer. Sound public policy will require rising above petty politics and sniping, while seriously evaluating current and historic national policies that will drive this crisis one way or the other. We must leave politics behind, as we are at the water’s edge.

Currently we have an administration in Washington that sees no need to restrict air travel from the endemic areas in Africa, has committed 3,000 troops to fight the epidemic in Africa (with no detailed articulation of what that mission might be), and has no articulated plan for how to bring them all back safely.

At this writing, we have in Dallas a Liberian who lied on his immigration papers regarding contact with an infected person at home. He reported to a hospital in Dallas when he felt ill, was misdiagnosed, and sent home with antibiotics. As his illness progressed he called an ambulance, vomited in the parking lot of his complex, and has exposed at least 100 people who are now under surveillance, and many under quarantine. Further, many parents are keeping their children home from school, as some of the exposed are children.

There are no quarantine stations to which people are being sent to wait out the 21 days it can take Ebola to manifest itself. Indeed, some of the people being monitored have attempted to leave their homes. These policies and lapses have the makings of an outbreak of unprecedented magnitude. They can also generate a panic which could cripple the national economy if people begin to lock themselves up at home. So, what to do?

First, we do well to remember some history from the AIDS pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, we were told that this virus could only be contracted through transmission of bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and blood. All true, but incomplete. We were told that there was no evidence that HIV could be transmitted by oral sex, and that was an early, deadly error. Many lesser authorities would extrapolate from this that stomach acid would kill any virus swallowed during oral sex.

“No evidence,” in science does not translate into, “Impossible.” It simply means that there is not a study establishing the behavior as a risk factor. It turns out that the lining of the esophagus contains a great many cells that are a part of the mucosal immune system. They transport viruses and bacteria across to waiting immune system cells, the very cells HIV attacks. So in those early days, in the absence of definitive proscriptions on sexual behavior, and before condoms and dental dams were recommended for use during oral sex, many may well have contracted the virus through that transmission vector.

Then there was the disparity between what the CDC was saying and what the AIDS activist (read homosexual) community was advocating with condom use. This is a key piece of history that shows what happens when political and ideological issues run up hard against scientific truth, and the blind spots in the extant data that well-informed scientific and medical judgement can fill in. The following is from a series I wrote five years ago dealing with the condom issue as it related at the time to AIDS activists excoriating Cardinal O’Connor for not giving church approval for their use in combating HIV. What is striking is the very different posture assumed by the NIH and CDC. From the article:

Certainly Cardinal O’Connor and the Bishops knew all too well the rise in promiscuity following widespread access to the pill in 1968. They knew the CDC data linked here which show the steady rise in STD rates. (Click on “all slides”). Fast-forwarding to today for a moment, Research out of Harvard agrees with the Church that Condoms can make HIV worse in Africa, among other places.

In the mid-80’s, the New York Times, the self-styled ‘paper of record’ carried several articles which cast a long shadow over the absolutist claims of condom safety by AIDS activists.

On August 24, 1987 the Times reported “20% of Condom Batches Fail”.

On May 12, 1988 the Times reported that 33 million condoms had been recalled in 1987 with a failure rate of 4/1000. The paper failed to reconcile those numbers with the 20% failure rate reported in August of the previous year. The paper did report that the 4/1000 was an improvement over the 4.8/1000 rate in 1986. These rates for domestic condoms were better than the 6.5/1000 in 1987 and 7.3/1000 in 1986 for imported condoms.

On August 18, 1987 the Times ran a major article entitled “Condoms: Experts Fear False Sense Of Security”. From the Article:

“MANY health officials have begun to voice concern that the campaign to encourage condom use to curb the spread of AIDS may be misunderstood, creating a false sense of security in people whose behavior continues to put them in danger.

“Experts say condoms should minimize the spread of the AIDS virus among the heterosexual population, especially when used with spermicides containing nonoxynol-9, which has been found to kill the virus in test tubes. The experts say this justifies recent campaigns promoting the devices.

“But they stress that it is unknown just how much protection condoms offer. The officials note that condoms have been widely rejected as a method of birth control because they frequently fail, and say the devices may be no better – in fact, may be worse – at curtailing AIDS. They warn that sexually active men and women should not assume that they are protected simply because they use prophylactics.”

The article is filled with notable quotes from experts, all expressing doubts.

It was an interesting time. Because the spermicide nonoxynol-9 was found to have killed HIV at high concentrations in test tubes, it was added as a lubricant and fail-safe against condom tearing or slipping. In recent years we have learned two devastating truths.

1. Nonoxynol-9 in the low concentration on condoms is ineffective against HIV.

2. Nonoxynol-9 in the low concentration on condoms causes ulcerations in the vaginas of women who use them frequently, such as sex workers. This means that N-9 does not kill the virus when condoms tear, and facilitates infection by compromising the vaginal and rectal epithelia.

Finally, a week after the desecration of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral by ACT-UP (reported in Part I), the Times reported that The National Women’s Health Network requested the FDA to remove approval for two new condoms:

“A public-interest health group said today that it had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw marketing clearance for two new types of condoms because neither had been tested for effectiveness in preventing pregnancy or protecting against disease.

“The National Women’s Health Network, a nonprofit group based in Washington, charged that the Federal agency had erred in approving the devices under a legal provision that waives testing requirements if a new device is substantially like one already approved.”

It was an interesting time. Anti-retroviral medications were being hastened to market. New condoms were being hastened to market all in a desperate attempt to throw the entire arsenal at this virus. But desperate measures can have unintended consequences.

In time, what will be most remembered is the stubborn insistence of so many to having sex outside of a life’s commitment to mutual monogamy with ONE individual in the face of a disease that is so devastating.

Where were the AIDS activists when these reports were being published by the Times?

A candid and sober reflection on those early missteps in assessing HIV and its spread, what we thought was safe, and how wrong many of those assurances were should temper and guide our steps with an overabundance of caution with a far deadlier virus that threatens to erupt into a full-blown pandemic.

In part II we’ll consider the missteps being made with Ebola, and how to correct them while there is still time.

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My article in today’s HeadlineBistro.

The recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has triggered alarm among various quarters for his self-professed admiration of health care rationing as seen in other countries such as Britain’s National Health Service. The issue here moves well past the politics and begs the question: How have we as a society become so deadened to the value of human life, that in our abundance of wealth and blessing from God we could seriously entertain the word “rationing” as applied to health care for our elders, for the poorest among us?

This move is a game-changer on so very many levels. Juxtaposed with the almost weekly reports of breakthroughs in cancer therapy, treatment of chronic conditions and adult stem cell therapies, this is not only an odd moment for considering rationing health care, but a dire threat to the advancement of science. A society that commits itself to death as a solution to its self-inflicted financial wounds cannot long endure as a pioneer of extending and improving the quality of life through research in the biomedical sciences; not when the government that funds such research is busy eliminating the need for it.

So how did we get here?

Twenty years ago when I was studying and working as a psychiatric research assistant at Columbia University, I was invited by one of the faculty to attend a talk being given by a medical economist. The topic was the new system of managed care and HMOs. In this talk, the economist made a very prescient observation that I took as a harbinger. He said that increased access to high quality health care does not make for a healthier population. It creates a larger, more chronically ill population of people who will exceed the lifespan dictated by their illness by twenty to thirty years.

Consider those who undergo coronary bypass surgery, who have pacemakers, treatments for cardiac dysrhythmias, diabetes, HIV, hypertension, vascular disease, COPD, cancer, etc. Advances in medical treatments and access to those treatments produces a population who live decades longer, mostly by taking medications daily. The longer we live, the greater the likelihood of new conditions arising needing surgical and medical interventions. All of this costs money.

The economist went further. Are we prepared to extend social security benefits to an ever-burgeoning population of retirees? Can the civil servant pension systems cope with people who retire after twenty years in their early forties and collect pensions well into their eighties and nineties? What do we expect from managed care?

Two decades later we are now being forced to address these questions. It seems that death is being proffered as the solution. Ridding ourselves of the elderly not only saves Medicare dollars, but also saves social security dollars as well as civil servant pension payouts. Cutting Medicaid services also saves on welfare and related money. Such solutions to vexing financial difficulties requires little intellect and even less heart and soul.

Death is cheap and easy.

The coarsening that has led us down this path began with the sexual revolution and legalization of abortion. Mother Teresa of Calcutta cut straight to the heart of the issue when she stated that it is a poverty that a child must die so that we may live as we wish. That has been the great selling point of abortion, that babies are an economic encumbrance that will hold us back from being and doing all that we wish to be and do.

The coarsening continued to unfold with the “Death with Dignity” movement, which really appeals to the same obsessive need for radical control and moral autonomy that has gripped us ever tighter during the past five decades of the sexual revolution. Now we have a political appointee whose duties could foreseeably include saving the nation money by institutionalizing a system of treatment refusals that make the worst of the HMOs pale in comparison.

In Immunology, the process of opsonization – the marking of a pathogen for destruction – has its etymology in the Greek word meaning “to mark for death.”

We opsonize the unborn, the poor, the elderly. With the steady rise in autism diagnoses, which are breaking the backs of school districts across the country (one out of every 110 children), will we return to eugenic sterilization that is still Constitutional Law, enshrined in the 1927 Buck v. Bell decision?

We cannot absolve ourselves of culpability in this trajectory toward the Culture of Death. Pope Paul VI warned us of this in Humanae Vitae back in 1968. Pope John Paul II warned us repeatedly for over twenty-five years in all of his writings, in which he gave us the roadmap, philosophically and theologically, back to a Culture of Life.

We should not deceive ourselves: The raised issue of health care rationing represents significant momentum for the Culture of Death that will require a muscular response to slow, halt and reverse. We need to become very vocal in our affirmation of life in all of its stages. We are in dire straits, but we have all the answers before us, and all of the graces of Heaven for the asking.

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Black Bart writes in the Washington Post his rationale.

Let’s focus on Black Bart’s statement here:

“Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy. Perhaps the most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. More recently, in 2007, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435, restricting embryonic stem-cell research. This executive order protected the sanctity of life and was “applauded” and “welcomed” by pro-life advocates. That these same people would now claim that President Obama’s executive order maintaining the sanctity of life is not worth the paper it is written on is disingenuous at best.”

This is representative of the theme running through his article. Black Bart isn’t trying to deceive us so much as he is trying to deceive himself. The two executive orders quoted differ from the one he sought, and gained, in that they did not attempt to nullify existing law-a process Constitutionally reserved to the legislature and the courts.

In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln recognized that an executive order could NOT override the Constitution by freeing slaves in states of the Union, such as Maryland and Kentucky, as these were Constitutionally guaranteed rights. However, in his Constitutional capacity of Commander-in-Chief he reasoned that the Confederate States, having seceded, had no claim upon the U.S. Constitution, and therefore no rights. The EP only freed slaves of the Confederacy as a means of depriving the CSA of their labor base.

Therefore, Stupak gets it badly wrong on the EP as an executive order.

In the stem cell ban, President Bush was blazing new territory, and was ahead of the Congress on this issue. There was no Congressional law being abrogated, no Constitutional right being abrogated. Bush wasn’t addressing the legality of ESC research, but only what the Federal Government was willing to pay for.

Again, Stupak gets it badly wrong.

Black Bart voted in favor of Hillary Clinton’s initiative to broaden American-sponsored abortion in third world nations. He voted twice to block bills that would defund Planned Parenthood.

He came to this issue with blood all over his hands. He announced last November that he would vote for Obama’s bill with or without anti-abortion language. In so doing, he signaled Obama that there was no real principled opposition to the final vote. In our hearts, we were desperate for someone, ANYONE, to block this legislation, in part because of its sponsorship of abortion. We hoped and prayed that even one with blood on his hands would possibly come to his senses.

We were wrong.

We were wrong to vest so much faith in such a man (though not wrong to hope).

What did we learn? We learned that there is no such thing as a pro-life block in the Democrat Party worth courting or cultivating. They simply used our time and dissipated our energies. Raw power is all they know, or respect. They need to experience the raw power of the electorate come November.

The Republicans are only marginally better. However, they will in all likelihood be given another chance at power. If they blow it this time, they’ll be in the wilderness for a very long time.

Black Bart has betrayed us all, especially his Catholic roots. Worst of all, he betrayed himself.

I pray that this man lives a VERY long life, well into his nineties, to see and loathe the evil that he has helped to unleash, and which was his to stop. When he finally meets Jesus, I pray for him the mercy that he has denied for countless babies who will be slaughtered because of this man’s votes.

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In a town hall meeting in his home district, Stupak announced that even if his amendment failed, he would vote for the health care bill.

So, if he could leverage anti-abortion language, he would. If he couldn’t, rather than force a failure on Obama and a return to the bargaining table, Stupak announced that he was not very serious about abortion all along.

Here is Stupak in his own words:

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This photo of Obama from this past Sunday’s New York Times.

The Cross.

The Halo.

The finger pointing Heavenward.

The Temple (White House).

The Sermon on the Mount.

This isn’t photojournalism. This is Marxist-style propagandizing. The Times has dropped all pretense at journalistic objectivity. They have been waging war on Christianity for decades, with Evangelicals and Catholics being their biggest targets-the so-called religious right.

Marxism has always made the state the replacement of religion, that opiate of the masses. There is no God. The state is god. It is from the state that all blessings flow, including one’s sustenance. Statist totalitarianism mandating atheism. It’s happening right before our eyes as the final push is on to grab the healthcare system. Then the government will BE god, determining who lives and who dies, and how soon.

The co-opting of the saint’s halo, the Cross, and the Messiah Himself in this photo may well be our last warning. The Times has proclaimed the New Messiah. The White House is the New Jerusalem. The picture tells all. They believe that they have won. This past Sunday was Obama’s grotesque Palm Sunday, the Messiah’s welcome parade.

The question is whose Easter will prevail? Obama’s or Christ’s?

This is our rallying point.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Ben Nelson will air a defense of his traitorous vote during tonight’s University of Nebraska Holiday Bowl game.

The good Senator will reportedly say:

“I listened to you and took a common-sense approach to improve the bill. Now it lowers costs for families and small business, protects Medicare, finally guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions and reduces the deficit. And it’s not run by the government. I’m convinced this is right for Nebraska.”

No mention of government funding for abortion in exchange for all of that in a bill that 65% of Americans dislike anyway. What Nelson doesn’t get is that people have a principled opposition to abortion. This Christmas wish list of goodies will only serve to enrage people further, as their integrity is held in contempt.

Not everyone’s conscience can be bought, Senator Nelson.

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A picture tells a thousand words. Honest Leadership. Open Government. Words emblazoned in the background and foreground. Politicians do this when their actions are deceitful and dishonest. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

This is the Party that literally changed the locks and would not permit Republican participation in the process, who hold votes in the middle of the night, who bribe, and now according to LifeNews.com are attempting to make Medicare death panels a permanent fixture by using language that would prohibit future sessions of the House and Senate from overturning the legislation.

Now will Americans get it? This is a political party literally drunk with blood. Death is their answer to everything. November can’t come soon enough.

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Trial lawyers have an old saying.

“When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the facts are not on your side, pound the table.”

In the debate over the link between abortion and breast cancer, there is a fair amount of table-pounding by those who support the status quo.

This is accomplished by attacking the stature of the journal in which the data are published. Older, more established ideas are published in older more established journals. Newer ideas that rock the boat may or may not get published in older, more established journals. Much depends on the nature of the editorial board and reviewers. It’s not uncommon for newer ideas to be published in “lesser” journals.

The identity of the journal does not of itself impeach the credibility of the study being reported; be it the study’s design, execution, data collection, analysis or conclusions. At issue is the prevailing orthodoxy that maintains abortion as relatively safe in the short term, with no long-term sequelae.

A responsible assessment of the scientific literature must first deal with the objections to newer ideas in the literature, objections arising from scientific orthodoxy.

Dr. Bernard Cohen, Professor of History of Science and General Education, Harvard University, wrote the following on Orthodoxy and Scientific Progress. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 96, No.5, October 1952. P505 ff.

“…Yet we are then faced with a paradox, since a canon of ‘orthodoxy’ would seem to imply a certain measure of hostility to major innovations, and we are all familiar with the sentiment that scientists thrive on the replacement of their old and cherished theories or beliefs by new ones.

“I have known intimately a number of creative scientists and I have studied the behavior of a great many more as revealed by the record of history. I have never encountered one of any importance whatever who would welcome with joy and satisfaction the publication of a new theory, explanation, or conceptual scheme that would completely replace and render superfluous his own creation. He may be pleased at a revision that makes his own work more useful, or more widely applicable; and even the news of a new experiment or observation that canot be explained may be greeted warmly, since it constitutes a test or challenge which the scientist hopes-or may be sure- his theory can meet.

“But any suggestion that scientists so dearly love truth that they have not the slightest hesitation in jettisoning their beliefs is a mean perversion of the facts. It is a form of scientific idolatry, supposing that scientists are entirely free from the passions that direct men’s actions, and we should have little patience with it.

“Actually, of course, scientists do give up cherished beliefs-whether of their own creation or others- when the evidence is overwhelming. But before doing so, they are apt to attempt all sorts of intellectual devices or dodges in an attempt to save the accepted doctrine. Modern science has been characterized by a constant succession of often rapid and dramatic changes and in most branches of science a textbook has a short life without revision. We are tempted, therefore, to think of the creative activity of a scientist as consisting in large measure of a rejection of what he has been taught, whereas the scientist actually tries-often in vain- to fit each new discovery or set of discoveries into the traditional theories before he abandons them.

“The mind-even of scientists- clings to conceptions or preconceptions as long as it is humanly possible. Very often, therefore, when scientists have no alternative save to accept a new doctrine, they attempt to show that it was neither so new or so radical as had been generally supposed.”

That’s the down side to orthodoxy in science. Cohen then goes on to tell us the positive function of orthodoxy:

“…we must keep in mind that orthodoxy makes scientific progress more secure, and in fact may be one of the reasons that scientific progress is even possible. Orthodoxy presents a hurdle for every new scientific idea. This means that a scientific theory must have a considerable background of experimental data before it can be given any serious consideration…

“Had scientists no orthodoxy, and if they welcomed with avidity every possible idea that any one might have, the scientific enterprise would be characterized by chaos rather than positive achievement and progress.”

In Part II, we’ll consider the objections voiced by those who oppose the data suggesting a link between breast cancer and abortion. Pounding the facts or pounding the table?

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John Cardinal O'Connor

A little-known anniversary passed very silently on the tenth of this month, the twentieth anniversary of AIDS activist group ACT-UP’s desecration of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The New York Times reported the incident. It was the culmination of many smaller-scale desecrations at the Cathedral by gay groups, including Dignity. From 1987-88 I was a seminarian for the Archdiocese of New York, and was present at the Cathedral for Sunday Masses with the Cardinal when Dignity would seat themselves in rows midway down the aisle, then stand with their backs turned to the Cardinal as he gave the homily. They hated him as no other because he was pro-life, because he was a faithful son of the Church and would not give his blessing to the use of condoms for any purpose.

Cardinal O’Connor’s famous rejoinder was, “Good morality is good medicine.” For that singular statement he was regarded as little more than a caveman in Cardinal’s robes. From the Times article:

“Protesters said yesterday’s action was prompted by what they said was Cardinal O’Connor’s growing verbal assault on abortion and on the use of ‘safe sex’ with condoms as a precaution against AIDS.

“In October, the Cardinal expressed his admiration for Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group that frequently blocks entrances to abortion clinics. In a speech at the Vatican in November, he re-stated his view that distributing condoms or clean needles was an inappropriate way to combat the spread of the AIDS virus. In a phrase frequently condemned by demonstrators yesterday, he said, ‘Good morality is good medicine.'”

What the Times did not report was that one protester crumbled the Eucharist at Communion time in an act of desecration never before seen in the cathedral. Protesters also threw condoms all over the cathedral. They were right about one thing, people were dying from this disease. AIDS patients were still considered lepers in many quarters. It was a frightening time.

Earlier that autumn 1989, Fr. Bruce Ritter asked me if I would return to Covenant House, a shelter for homeless teens in Times Square, where I had worked for five years prior to entering the seminary. He explained that he had started a Special Needs Unit for adolescents with HIV/AIDS. Some were already dying in end-stage AIDS. I accepted the offer.

Our unit at the time was the ONLY residential facility in the nation for adolescents with HIV/AIDS. Most of the kids were male prostitutes who contracted the virus from their clients. The disease progressed rapidly in some. We buried one young man not long after I began work on the unit. So, I was not without sympathy for the issue felt so keenly by Dignity and ACT-UP.

I contemplated this during the long night shifts when the kids finally went to sleep. What was the objection, really? Why such venomous hatred directed at the Church? Everyone knew that condoms broke during vaginal sex, more-so during anal sex. This wasn’t a state secret. Having just begun my post-baccalaureate curriculum in science at Columbia University, I found the hatred for the Church on campus palpable. Why?

The answer was: Narcissism. Even in the face of a killer sexually transmitted disease, people wanted their sex. Period. The drive toward self-indulgence was so powerful that it blinded people to the reality that condoms had a pretty significant failure rate, for a variety of reasons: improper and inconsistent use, tearing, slipping.

Then there was the issue of promiscuity in the gay community, the orgies in the bath houses that were eventually closed down as a public health measure. People weren’t interested in changing their behavior. They wanted fornication without consequences and expected, demanded the Church play along. In hindsight, they were looking for political cover.

For those old enough to remember the early years of the AIDS pandemic, it was largely considered a ‘gay’ disease. When it started showing up in the heterosexual community, many gays feared (rightly) a backlash based on that perception of AIDS being a gay disease. What better cover than the Catholic Church? The Bishops weren’t falling for it. They knew better about condoms, and sought to teach the faithful.

In the interim, Cardinal O’Connor quietly set about increasing the number of hospital beds in Catholic hospitals of the Archdiocese dedicated to AIDS patients to well above fifteen percent. He effectively turned Saint Clare’s Hospital on W 52nd Street into an AIDS hospice. Unbeknown to his detractors, the Cardinal went to St. Clare’s once a week in simple clerical garb to wash patients, empty bedpans, and perform priestly pastoral ministry to the dying. On his orders, he was introduced simply as Father John.

Next Wednesday, we’ll take a look at the wisdom and strength behind that humility. We’ll consider the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control data that clearly vindicate Cardinal O’Connor, and lay much blame for this ongoing tragedy at the feet of his most bitter detractors. We’ll see the epidemiological data that expose the great lie about condoms and where we have gone these past twenty years. It isn’t pretty.

Part II here.
Part III here.
Part IV here.

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It’s a beautiful day when the NY Times does your work for you in the pro-life movement.

Jane Brody Reports in today’s NY Times on the positive developments for children born extremely prematurely in an article titled Risks, as Well as Hope for Very Tiny Infants. The news is very good indeed. Even among the poor, Brody reports,

“At the MacDonald Women’s Hospital and the Rainbow Babies’ and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, which serve primarily a poor population, researchers have been studying the survival and neurological development of extremely small babies for several decades. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, major increases occurred in the percentage of surviving babies (to 71 percent, from 49 percent) and babies who survived without neurological impairment (to 71 percent of survivors, from 65 percent) when re-examined at the corrected age of 20 months.”

Neonatologist Dr. Robin Baker of Onova Fairfax Hospital for Children, Falls Church, VA, is exemplary. “The focus is on the total infant… Every day each baby is looked at system by system. Every morning and every night, we check with one another and discuss what each baby may need.”

One psychologist following the development of these children reports, “We’ve begun to look at them again at age 9 and are finding no deterioration as they get into higher grades. Their academic skills have not declined and their behavioral functions have remained stable.”

So this is great news in a week of not-so-great news for pro-lifers. The data don’t lie, only politicians do. These data show that we are winning the personhood argument, that what are easily abortable babies are also easily saved humans who go on to lead normal lives.

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Associated Press
New York

In what has become the defining event in American Constitutional Law, arrests of Catholic Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and laity have continued into a second day, and will surely cast a pall over President Obama’s second term in office, as well as his legacy.

After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the petition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Monday, the Justice Department moved forward with the seizure of all Roman Catholic Properties for failure to pay taxes for a second year in a row. On Thursday, Cardinal Dolan took to the pulpit in a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral to denounce the tactics of the Federal Government, while calling on his congregation to treat the police with the utmost courtesy and respect.

When the Cardinal refused to order his congregation to disperse in compliance with the 12 P.M. deadline to vacate the premises, Federal officers mounted the altar and handcuffed the Cardinal, leading him out of the Cathedral through the entrance to his residence behind the altar.

Auxiliary Bishop Mark Valente and Cathedral Rector, Msgr. Justin O’Reilly were each led away in handcuffs after also refusing to give the order to disperse. The officers then set about placing plastic restraints on the wrists of the more than 2,000 congregants, many elderly nuns, who refused to leave. Among those arrested were several leaders of other faith communities here in New York who fear a similar fate for their churches.

The choir led the congregation in singing hymns of praise, such as Lift High the Cross, and Holy God We Praise Thy Name.

Similar scenes have been playing themselves out at Catholic churches all over the nation. Not since the civil disobedience of Gandhi has the world seen anything approaching this scale.

President Obama will address the nation tonight at 9 P.M. from the Oval Office. Confidential sources say the President plans to explain why the USCCB cannot use their political muscle to violate the law with impunity.

In Rome an increasingly frail Pope Benedict XVI thundered condemnation for the assault on his Church, and expressed his solidarity with his brothers and sisters, “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”.

Meanwhile, the USCCB has been gaining traction with its 60-second ad campaign showing no fewer than thirty Democrats campaigning from pulpits in Protestant Churches, as well as over fifty Protestant Ministers openly advocating DNC policy from their pulpits. Cries of “double-standard” continue to inflict damage on Obama’s standing in the polls, with the latest Gallup Poll showing the President’s approval rating sliding twenty-two points to 27% since his reelection just four months ago.

Since the Bishops lost their bid in early 2010 to keep Federal Funding of abortions out of the health care legislation, they have stirred themselves into an activism never before seen. The current crisis began when the Bishops, in conjunction with the RNC, disseminated voter guides in church to the faithful.

Most analysts agree that this contributed in no small measure to the Republican landslide that won them the House and Senate in 2010, and even larger majorities this past November. But for the untimely death from a heart attack of Mr. Obama’s opponent three weeks before the election, a Republican rout was all but certain.

Many see the actions of the IRS in early 2011, and the subsequent court battles as retribution from Obama for effectively making him a lame duck in his first term.

Meanwhile, arrests have slowed as police set up makeshift detention centers in armories and school gymns in the large cities. The detained are refusing to post bail and refusing to leave the detention centers. If forced to do so, they claim to be resolved in their determination to return to their churches, schools and diocesan centers to attempt entry and force a re-arrest.

It is becoming clear that the IRS threat of losing 501(c)(3) status was never a viable strategy in the face of a determined opposition.

UFT President Adrian Moore has blasted the Obama administration for emptying Catholic schools in the seizure and forcing these students on classrooms already overcrowded and on school systems that are bankrupt after the sex abuse lawsuits against public school teachers, most going back decades, that were the result of the courts mandating that public schools had to also open a one year window for claims no longer covered by the statute of limitations.

This was another in a series of unintended consequences, as Democrats tried to destroy nonprofits by passing legislation aimed only at them, opening the one year “look-back”, as it is called. Upon challenge, the courts decided to apply the standard to public schools as well, rather than striking down the lopsided legislation.

For now, neither the President, nor the Bishops will back down. The issue may be decided on Capitol Hill, as talk of impeachment begins to gain momentum.

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Sano di Pietro, The Massacre of the Innocents

Julie Schmit-Albin of NE Right to Life comments over on Jill Stanek’s blog that abortion was used by Senator Ben Nelson as a “pawn” in the healthcare debate. She and Stanek assert that when he loaded up on enough pork and perks for the folks back home, he betrayed the unborn. All true enough, except the part about abortion being used as a “pawn”.

It’s probably more accurate to say that abortion was used as a smokescreen and NE RTL and the USCCB were used as pawns. Look at the media attention for the past several weeks. It’s been all about the abortion language in the bill. In getting everyone to argue the abortion language, the Democrats got everyone to tacitly accept that this entire immoral bill was a foregone conclusion. In so doing, we took our eye off of the larger immorality of medicare cuts and the inevitability of euthanasia down the road.

That’s how we got screwed. The Washington Two-Step.

There is still hope that the firebrands in the House may cause the process to implode and that the legislation will not survive in conference. No small amount of pressure will be brought to bear on Stupak’s allies. Going forward, we need to understand that there is a larger immorality involved in this legislation.

We need now more than ever to be Pro-Life and not merely anti-abortion. This entire piece of legislation stinks. If we focus too narrowly on abortion again, I fear another betrayal will come to pass. There are far more vulnerable members of the House up for re-election this year. They need to be blistered this week by all who care for life at both ends of the spectrum and in between.

Meanwhile, Nelson has lined his pockets as he guaranteed the Slaughter of the Innocents will proceed apace. That free Medicare will avail his Nebraskans little when their treatments are denied along with the rest of us. Well done thou good-for-nothing servant.

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SHAME used to be a powerful motivation for people to avoid evil and do good. Of course there was a healthy dose of people seeking to remove specks from other’s eyes while carrying planks in their own, but true shame was for the egregious public offender.

Today, Senator Nelson ended his crusade to keep public funding for abortion out of the healthcare bill, with a less than valiant whimper. He compromised, which in the language of legislators means looking good (sort of) for the moment, while leaving behind a toxic precedent upon which future legislative sessions will build to expand Federal funding for abortion. A whimper was all that he had left, and a Christmas present for the most savaged of all people by our Federal government: Native Americans.

The agreement with Senator Reid gives funding for abortions on reservations. These are the people who suffered genocide at the hands of our Federal government. Some things never change.

The reservations are the sites of the most grinding poverty, economic and spiritual, in America today. True to form with the Democrats, death is the answer. It is the answer for them precisely because they are spiritually and morally bankrupt. They don’t grasp the great paradox that submission to God throws wide the doors to liberation and inspiration. In seeking liberation on their terms, they are the most enslaved of all. “Death” has become their mantra.

Without the leading of the Holy Spirit, one visits a Reservation and sees only squalor and despair. With that inspiration, one sees the great dignity of a noble people and looks to invest in a future filled with hope. Such a future requires offspring, without which there is no future, no hope.

In seeking liberation without submission to God, shame has become the great casualty. No rules, no shame. No shame begets great societal calamity.

Senator Nelson needs to ask himself this one simple question: Have 50+ million abortions since Roe solved ANY of our problems?

Merry Christmas Senator Nelson. May it be one of your last in office, and may you live to see VERY old age and marinate in the awful evil you have visited on us this day. And may you rediscover your shame.

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