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Dr. Nadal: Welcome back to the hot seat. Tempting fate?

DR. NADAL: Sure. Why not?

Dr. Nadal: Well, let’s get right to it. There’s lots of talk about Sweden being the model for herd immunity with this virus. You look like you’ve swallowed a lemon at my merely mentioning it. What’s up?

DR. NADAL: Few people understand what herd immunity is, and the misperceptions that are out there are scary. Add to that Sweden’s disastrous policy of voluntary social distancing…

Dr. Nadal: You drifted off there. What’s so disastrous about the Swedish model? Don’t you think they’re doing a better job at protecting their economy?

DR. NADAL: Those are two separate issues. Let’s tackle the Swedish model first, and before that, we need to define what Herd Immunity is.

Dr. Nadal: You seem to be fond of saying that herd immunity is a result, not a process. That’s kind of confusing to people.

DR. NADAL: You nailed it. Herd Immunity is a result. Specifically, it is an end result, not a process. The concept of herd immunity is simple. If all the members of a herd, except a few, are immune to a disease then the few remaining members will have a vastly diminished chance of being infected by the pathogen and be protected by the collective immunity of the herd.

Dr. Nadal: Because…

DR. NADAL: Because diseases run through populations when members pick up a pathogen such as a virus. The virus amplifies greatly in number within the infected animal, who then spreads it to other members of the population, and so forth. If almost all the members of a population are immune, then the likelihood of any one susceptible member picking up the pathogen through random encounter is pretty slim. If per chance it does, the animal is surrounded by immune members and cannot pass it on through the herd. The same holds true for humans.

Dr. Nadal: And why is this a result?

DR. NADAL: I was getting to that. There are two ways to get to herd immunity. The first is you simply let all the members get diseased. The weak die and the survivors produce antibodies, those little y-shaped proteins that bind to the virus and mark it for destruction while also preventing it from being able to infect cells. The survivors also develop the ability to have white blood cells destroy any infected cells in the future. So that’s the first way to arrive at herd immunity.

The second way is to do mass vaccination of the population. In a vaccination we are injecting either the whole virus in weakened form, or parts of the virus we would like to see antibodies made against. That’s the simplified explanation.

Dr. Nadal: So which is better at prevention?

DR. NADAL: Well, let’s think about that for a moment. The Swedish model is the first case. Their program of voluntary social distancing has been an unmitigated disaster. They have a 12% case fatality rate while NYC has one at 5.7%…

Dr. Nadal: Sorry to interrupt, but Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency has said that they are mere weeks away from achieving herd immunity. That’s a good thing, right?

DR. NADAL: Wrong. Dead Wrong. As of April 28, that was Tegnell’s position. At that time about 25% of Sweden had been infected, again, with a 12% case fatality rate (CFR). In a country of 10.23 million people, another 50% would need to be infected at a minimum to reach herd immunity. That’s another 5 million people. At 12% CFR, that means 600,000 additional dead on the way to herd immunity. Tell me how you think that represents “prevention”.

Dr. Nadal: Well, I…

DR. NADAL: It’s slaughter. It isn’t medicine. It isn’t prevention. It’s putting Charles Darwin in the driver’s seat on national policy. That’s the absence of medicine. Vaccination is the only program of prevention that results in herd immunity. So it comes down to Darwinian Natural Selection or vaccination to achieve herd immunity, but that brings up a larger point, and the reason why I get dyspeptic at these discussions of herd immunity.

The goal right now, in the absence of a vaccine, is to save as many lives as we can until a vaccine is created. Social distancing and other mitigation measures slow the rate of transmission over time, and purchase valuable time to develop a vaccine as well as effective therapeutics.

But with that said, let’s just reiterate. Herd Immunity is the end result of Darwinian Natural Selection, OR the end result of a vaccination program. ONLY vaccination is a program of prevention.

Dr. Nadal: And what do you say to people who are suspicious of Dr. Fauci pushing for a vaccine?

DR. NADAL: My butcher’s name is Anthony. I’m really suspicious of Anthony because he’s always selling meat. Never any vegetables. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Nadal: Well, that 43lb. Turkey last Thanksgiving WAS impressive…

DR. NADAL: Dr. Fauci’s job, his life’s work, is to protect the nation from infectious disease. You don’t protect people from disease by sitting back and watching all the susceptible members of society die off from it and then pat yourself on the back for having achieved herd immunity by that means. That’s not prevention.

Vaccines save lives.

Dr. Nadal: You’re starting to piss off a lot of readers right now. There are those who say vaccines injure people and they point to the HHS Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)

DR. NADAL: VAERS is an open system where anybody can make a claim. There is no substantiation of any of those claims on VAERS…

Dr. Nadal: Wait, are you saying people don’t get injured by vaccines?

DR. NADAL: A very small percentage do. Very small. But did you know that 10% of the population is allergic to antibiotics? Where would we be in the war against infectious diseases if we mounted as vehement a campaign against antibiotics? It is the combination of vaccines and antibiotics in the years immediately following World War II that took the world population from just over 2 billion people to 7.5 billion people today. If that isn’t proof that vaccines save lives, then I give up.

Of course Fauci is pushing hard on a vaccine. So is every microbiologist and physician worth anything.

Dr. Nadal: So what do you say about people’s objections to using vaccines made with cells from aborted babies? Why put parts of babies in a vaccine?

DR. NADAL: The Pontifical Academy for Life under Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger gave guidance on when it is permissible to use vaccines that have made use of fetal cells for the purpose of growing viruses. Read it here.

There are cell lines, some from 1965, that use the descendants of cells obtained from aborted babies. Viruses are used to infect these cells, and the cells produce a bumper crop of viruses to be used in the vaccine. It’s the same principle as infecting chicken eggs with influenza virus in order to produce tons of flu virus for use in a vaccine.

Dr. Nadal: Then why do people say they are injecting our bodies with fetal cells?

DR. NADAL: People are mistaken about all sorts of things. The kernel of truth, however, is that when the cells are broken open, some DNA and protein from the fetal cells escapes the purification methods and ends up in the vaccine. We can do much better, and Dr. Theresa Deischer has developed ethically derived cells for use in vaccine production.

Dr. Nadal: So, what do you say to people who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccination when it comes out?

DR. NADAL: Good Luck, and I respect your integrity.That’s a deeply personal decision and the individual who chooses that option is putting their life on the line for their principles.

Dr. Nadal: So, to achieve herd immunity, should the vaccine be mandatory?

DR. NADAL: No. This isn’t Smallpox. The goal here is NOT herd immunity. The goal is to save lives first, to offer our people the options. People with moral objections to the vaccine will benefit from the collective immunity of those who choose the vaccine, provided enough people avail themselves of the vaccine when one comes out.

Dr. Nadal: IF one comes out… We never got one for SARS or MERS.

DR. NADAL: True, but those outbreaks were more limited in time and scope. There’s way more effort being put in on this one.

Dr. Nadal: Well, we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground. I’ll give you the last word if you want to sum it all up.

DR. NADAL: Thanks. First, herd immunity is NOT the goal here, and I’ll repeat that. Herd Immunity is NOT the goal here.

The goal is preventing disease and saving lives. If the goal is herd immunity, then the Swedish model of voluntary social distancing, a 12% CFR becomes just one option.

We’re out to prevent infections. Right now that involves as much social distancing as we can tolerate economically. It involves aggressive use of Hydroxychloroquine, convalescent antibodies, more research and use of Remdesivir, etc. Ultimately, prevention is best achieved through the development of a vaccine.

The Catholic Church has issued guidance on morally acceptable use of morally problematic vaccines. Individuals should consult the document and their consciences should be respected.

Vaccines are far safer than antibiotics, and they save lives.

We have no absolute guarantees of safety in life, but we need a sense of proportion. I find that increasingly lacking in the public discourse. Without it, we simply cannot make intelligent, informed, or nuanced choices that will determine the length and quality of our lives.

Update: Clearly Sweden has not reached 25% infection rate. By their own numbers as of this writing they have had 25,265 diagnosed cases and 3,175 deaths, which yields a 12.57% CFR. I liked to play along for a moment with the delusion that they’ve achieved 25% infection rate, which they decidedly have not achieved. So, we go with the actual number of cases they’ve counted. 25K diagnosed cases yield a percentage 100x lower than they would like to believe. Applying the very real 12% CFR to 5 million infections will get us 600,000 fatalities. 25% population affected is a fantasy not grounded in solid data. It isn’t 25% infected. It’s 0.25% if the data shown below are to be believed. Hopefully that clears any misunderstandings.

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I’ve been getting a lot of headwind about where I stand on reopening. I’ll say it with crystal clarity, and thought that interviewing myself might be a better way of saying it in shorter bites.

Dr. Nadal: Tell me, do you think we should reopen the economy soon?

DR. NADAL: Yes. We need to. But… we can’t just rush back to work without some major changes, and I think the Trump Administration’s phased re-opening criteria make the most sense and guarantee the least amount of loss of life. With that said, I think we have a great deal of evidence that a great many people are going to simply ignore physical distancing and other mitigation criteria.

Dr. Nadal: Your point there leads to the observations by many around the nation that this just isn’t an issue in many other parts of the country as it is in New York City, so wasn’t this all an overreaction?

DR. NADAL: Right. The same way that widespread use of Vaccines and antibiotics were an overreaction to infectious diseases. Look, we have really good baseline data that show how infectious this virus is. The good news is that Dr. Birx has estimated the Case Fatality Rate at 0.7%. I think it’s a bit lower at 0.5%. So, that’s good news and bad news. The good news is that 99.5% of those who get infected will live. The bad news is that this is a highly infectious virus. If everyone in the nation were to get infected we could expect 1.64 million deaths without any therapeutic interventions. That’s not exactly your standard flu season. NYC got out of control before the rest of the country did when the shutdown came.

Dr. Nadal: So, you see, you sound like you’re saying we need to stay closed. In California, Stanford and USC did an antibody study that showed the infection rate was 50-85x higher than previously thought. What do you say to that?

DR. NADAL: First, on the 50-85x higher business. The Santa Clara study found a positive test result in 50 out of 3,330 people. That means that they are saying a whole whopping 1.5% of the population has been infected. That’s their 50-85% higher estimate than previous estimates. Get that? Look at the reverse of 1.5%. They are saying that 98.5% of the population could still get infected. Let me repeat that.

According to the wildest optimism, 98.5% of Californians are susceptible, which means the shutdown happened BEFORE things could get out of hand as they did in NYC. That said, the antibody test that these guys used has a 1.7% false positive rate, which means EVERY. SINGLE. TEST. RESULT. IS. IN. THE. MARGIN. OF. ERROR.

The study is worthless.

Those studies were rushed to an online outlet that does not do peer review. Guess why? We could talk about how unscientific the sampling was, but really, why bother.

Californians are hanging their hats on these “studies,” regarding reopening.

Dr. Nadal: But don’t you think…

DR. NADAL: Wait, let me finish this point. Most of the rest of the nation, even with wildly optimistic studies, remains uninfected. Here in NYC we are testing like mad and have come up with about 21% of NYC residents showing positive antibody tests. That’s way higher than the 1.5% from the fatally flawed studies in California. That means that 79% of NYC residents have not yet been infected. At least 98.5% of Californians have not been infected, if you recall that the flawed study showing a 1.5% infection rate was 50-85% higher in its estimate than previous estimates.

Dr. Nadal: But what are you saying? You seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth, and what about the people who are committing suicide?

DR. NADAL: Actually it’s all consistent. This is a pandemic. We have options that suck. Options that suck badly. And options that are nightmarish. What we DON’T HAVE is the choice between some people dying and no people dying. You pick a course of action that is going to save the most lives, realizing that some demographic is going to get the short end of the stick, if I can put it in the most blunt language possible. We don’t have every hospital in NYC with multiple refrigerated morgue trucks parked outside and filled with the bodies of suicide victims. We DO have them filled with COVID cases that didn’t make it.

I’ve repeatedly called for the government to put on the full court press for mental health outreach. I’ve posted resources repeatedly for the same. It’s a pandemic, and there are no good options. Yes, suicides are elevated. And if we didn’t shut down? If we had 1.6-2.2 million deaths, and crashed hospital system, etc… do we not think that there would also be an elevated rate of suicide?

Again, and again, and again… it’s a pandemic. All the options suck. No matter which way leadership turns, people are going to die. That happens in pandemics.

By all means reopen, but follow the administration’s guidelines to do it safely.

Remember this as well. We cannot protect the vulnerable. Fully 60% of the American people have one risk factor. 40% have two risk factors, so factor that in when thinking about how to do this safely.

Dr. Nadal: Don’t you think you come off a bit calloused there?

DR. NADAL: It’s a raw reflection of reality. Not pretty, is it? If that sounds calloused, pray for the leaders who have to choose between options that are one worse than the other.

Dr. Nadal: So, we crashed the greatest economy in the world, and for what? Many think it wasn’t worth it.

DR. NADAL: It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

Dr. Nadal: Meaning?

DR. NADAL: I lost my private tutoring business here, so I get the economic pain. I’m one of the millions of unemployed. My pro-life work is unpaid. But let’s look at the initial goal of Flattening the Curve.

It’s been a wild success. We’ve had about 60K deaths in the past two months, with 95% of them happening in the past five weeks. That’s a frightful number…

Dr. Nadal: I don’t mean to interrupt, but aren’t we no worse off than a typical flu season?

DR. NADAL: Actually, we’re far worse off. In a typical 10-month flu season we incur about 37,000 deaths. We’ve had 60,000 so far in just about a month. You tell me.

Dr. Nadal: But people are saying that most of the victims have underlying medical conditions…

DR. NADAL: Yes. Same with deaths attributable to flu. I have heart and lung issues, but they are stable and well managed. I lead a normal, fully active life. If I contract this virus and it exploits those issues, destabilizes them, and kills me, what was it that was most directly responsible for my death? It was the virus. Even if you want to shave off 20% of coded cases, you’re left with 48K deaths in over a month, every major hospital in NYC ringed with stuffed morgue trucks, and 79% of the population yet to get infected. Tell me what kind of flu season that reminds you of.

Dr. Nadal: So back to the benefits of the shutdown…

DR. NADAL: Yes. We vastly reduced the numbers of people getting infected, so we reduced greatly the number of people who otherwise would have died. We also accomplished something else, We bought precious time to do clinical trials on Hydroxychloroquine, Famotidine, Remdisivir, convalescent serum, monoclonal antibodies etc. We also bought time to ramp up industry in vastly producing PPE, hand sanitizer, ventilators, tests for the virus, tests for antibodies, and on and on.

Dr. Nadal: But lots of people lost their jobs.

DR. NADAL: I know. I’m one of them.

Dr. Nadal: But…

DR. NADAL: No buts… I get it. Reopen according to the president’s plan. Just realize the risks you are all incurring in so doing. New York City is not an outlier. We are a cautionary tale. Once you hit critical mass the genie gets loose and there’s no stuffing it back in the bottle. I’ve been hearing a lot of smug arrogance and seeing people congregating en masse without face masks, etc.

Pathogens are apolitical. They exploit pride, arrogance, and ignorance.

And this one is unforgiving.

That’s really my last word on the subject of reopening. It wasn’t worthless to shut down. We bought time, advanced the research ball, advanced the production of the tools needed by our clinicians, developed more potential therapeutics, and most of all in the balance we saved lives.

Lots of lives.

Photocredit: https://www.inquirer.com/business/drugs/coronavirus-johnson-and-johnson-stoffels-wuhan-20200128.html

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Word this weekend comes of Vice President Pence and Attorney General Barr seeking to promote legislation that would accelerate the executions of mass shooters.

This is a really, really bad idea.

Putting aside my opposition to the death penalty for a moment, how does DOJ propose to streamline/abrogate the appeals process for one class of murderers and not for others? The courts will make a meal of this bill. Delving further, some of these mass shooters (Colorado movie theater, Sandy Hook) were clearly deranged human beings, meriting life incarceration in a psychiatric hospital. Streamlining the path to the gallows railroads the truly mentally deranged, whose disease state sufficiently mitigates culpability where execution is concerned. Such legislation fuels the just fires of outrage in the citizenry, leads to bringing capital charges where true justice finds such charges abhorrent, puts unbearable pressure on prosecutors and judges to deliver the shooter up to death, and speeds the timeline to death by denying the most unsympathetic of the condemned the one thing necessary to assemble mitigating and exculpatory evidence: Time.

If the horror of such crimes begets in us such a bloodlust for vengeance, that a thoroughly mentally and neurologically malfunctional and diseased young man as Adam Lanza (who took his own life) could be railroaded to the gallows, then these mass shootings will have only succeeded in diminishing and perverting us as a people by the perversion of our justice system.

For most of us, the profoundly mentally ill are not a part of our daily lives. They are both out of sight and out of mind, until their disease state erupts into acts whose lethality is as random and unfocused as their cognitions. Then we are overwhelmed by the realization that it could be any one of us, in any place, at any time who find ourselves in the sights of a diseased and deranged mind. In the face of this horrific uncertainty and true compassion for the slaughtered comes such legislative proposal. It is sweetly seductive precisely because it offers us the only control we have in the face of these shootings:

Swift execution of the shooter.

But if we enact law that will lead to unbearable pressure brought on prosecutors and judges with obviously insane shooters, then our entire judicial equilibrium becomes skewed and twisted as we snuff the life out of humans who merit our protection from the diseases that ravage their nervous systems and their minds. That our system of jurisprudence has always allowed for that is one of the noblest achievements in human history. That we may be willing to throw that away for a false sense of security, as such legislation has no deterrent effect on the mentally deranged, represents the biggest death of all amidst these horrors.

I say we’re better than this.

[Photo Credit: Deviantart.com]

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On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeating the error of Chief Justice Rober B. Taney in the Dred Scott decision of 1857. In her decision regarding whether fetal remains should be treated as medical waste, or cremated as required by the law under consideration, Justice Ginsburg took strenuous issue with Justice Thomas’ characterization of pregnant women as, “mothers.” This harkens to the infamous Dred Scott decision, where Chief Justice Taney ruled that no black, slave or free, could claim U.S. citizenship. The parallels are as striking as they are revolting.

In both decisions, Dred Scott and Box v. Planned Parenthood, opinions moved jurisprudence in the wrong direction, breaking with either previous court decisions, or with the Constitution itself. Prior to Dred Scott, Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution treated blacks in slavery as 3/5 a person for purposes of apportioning seats in Congress. So they were 60% of the way to personhood status under the law. The Dred Scott decision stripped them entirely of personhood status and went further to encompass free blacks as well.

In Roe v. Wade the justices declared that they could not tell definitively when human life began, and agonizingly deployed the medieval concept of Quickening in defense of this nebulous boundary between being human and non-human–a boundary that science has NEVER recognized at all. The product of human fertilization is a new human from the moment of fertilization. In the Box decision this week Justice Ginsburg took direct aim at Justice Thomas’ characterization of pregnant women as mothers when she said, “(A) woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a ‘mother’.”

So, blacks are not persons when we wish to own them as slaves, nor are even free blacks persons when their humanity points to the humanity of blacks languishing in chains. Similarly, pregnant women who wish to abort their children are not mothers if the humanity of wanted babies and motherhood status of the women bearing them might point to the humanity of unwanted babies and the motherhood status of the women seeking their demise. Again, and again, and again, we repeat the same tragic errors of history. Scores of millions suffer and perish because of that error. A singular error. It is this:

Either we see personhood as an intrinsic status that comes with being a human animal/organism, a human being, or we treat personhood as a status conferred on certain human organisms by an intellectual and political elite. We consistently choose the latter. There is no other explanation for the Dred Scott decision, or the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 that upheld racial segregation in the South (The Democrats “do-over” for the Civil War and its results). There is no other explanation for the notorious Buck v. Bell decision that upheld the rights of the states to forcibly sterilize the developmentally disabled. There is no other explanation for the Nazi Nuremberg laws that stripped Jews of the personhood status, or for the infamous Koramatsu decision that upheld the right of the government to herd Japanese-American citizens into concentration camps during war based solely on their ethnic ancestry.

And then came Roe, Doe, and Casey.

We live in an age of tragic make-believe. Men are women if they believe hard enough. Women are men if they believe hard enough. One may wish away the biological reality evident in the mirror when one steps out of the shower. So, too, can one magically wish away the human identity and status of the child in the womb, and even one’s own motherhood status. In both, we engage in surgical mutilations to ensure the delusional ideation. It’s science denial on steroids.

Pope Benedict XVI had a prescient observation some years ago, one that goes a long way to explaining these tragic errors we can’t help repeating as a people:

“Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably. We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today. Only faith gives me the conviction: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being, even in hard times. Faith makes one happy from deep within.

People such as Justice Ginsburg don’t see humanity as a fundamental good. They see it as a status, and themselves as the arbiters of who is granted that status. So this week’s Box ruling will go down as a split decision. On the one hand, the court upheld the part of the law in question that requires cremation of aborted fetal remains. That takes us a significant step toward recognizing the fetus as more than mere medical waste. On the other hand, Justice Ginsburg has staked out the same ground as Taney and the majority in Dred Scott.

Finally, it was never the vision of the Founding Fathers that God, and Judeo-Christian anthropology be banished from the public square. Freedom of religion was never in their minds the same as freedom from religion. It is why they set forth the idea of unalienable rights that come from a “Creator,” whom they identify as, “Nature’s God.” It is why they stated that the whole purpose of government is to secure the rights that come from God, which man cannot take away. It is why they further stated that whenever government becomes destructive of that purpose it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government, and to elect new government that will be faithful to the end of securing the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–the fundamental rights that come from God.

Taney and Ginsburg are two justices who committed themselves to being destructive of those ends. Those who cheer the words of Ginsburg are the very people hostile to religion, with doubts about God, and it shows in their doubts about humanity, beginning with their own.

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Toobin-Supreme-Court

“What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 30The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 31* Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

The First Son
Last night the governor of Alabama signed into law the most restrictive abortion legislation in the nation, all but outlawing the procedure, and certain to set up a Supreme Court showdown. Aggressive pro-life legislation has been on the march this year, as well as aggressive and horrific pro-death legislation, expanding abortion into infanticide. The common denominator in all of this is President Trump. He has shifted the composition of the Supreme Court with two appointments, and filled hundreds of seats on the Federal Bench with conservative judges. His U.S. Attorneys and Attorneys General are no enemies of life.  And then there are his executive orders, his reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, his defense of conscience protections for people of faith that were savaged under Obama, his full-throated embrace of the pro-life movement.

All of this from a billionaire with a bad-boy past, a reformed playboy who could have spent the waning years of his life steeped in luxury and the pursuit of libertine ways.

Instead, Donald Trump lives with his wife of fifteen years in the world’s largest fishbowl, along with his youngest son. Thrice married, he does not cut the squeaky-clean family man image of a Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, or the Bushes. One would have expected sterling pro-life efforts from such men so devoted to their first and only wives, and their children. Instead, the efforts ranged from tepid to outright hostility. The reformed playboy has been quite the surprise for many.

The Second Son
Supreme Court Justice, Bret Kavanaugh, is Irish Catholic, a graduate of one of the nation’s most prestigious Catholic high schools, Georgetown Prep, the perfect church-going, soup kitchen-volunteering family man. He is new to the Supreme Court, and the justice everyone is keenly watching; perhaps because he is the hand-picked successor of another Irish Catholic justice, Anthony Kennedy, whose rulings in many areas haven’t squared with the moral world view of his faith.

What is of concern to pro-life advocates is Justice Kavanaugh’s rock-solid regard for Stare Decisis, the legal principle that regards previous decisions as strong precedent for judging future cases with similar issues. There have been a string of decisions in the wake of Roe v. Wade that have all buttressed Roe. From that perspective, a challenge to the Alabama law may find sound footing in a court where Kavanaugh has assumed the swing-vote seat of his old mentor. But there is hope.

When asked during his confirmation hearing what he thought the greatest Supreme Court decision was, he enthusiastically offered up Brown v Board of Education. What is so remarkable in his answer is that Brown is a rare case of the Supreme Court reversing one of its prior rulings, specifically, Plessy v. Ferguson, the notorious case that upheld the institution of racial segregation. How to square the full-embrace of Stare Decisis with such a response?

The only answer is the obvious answer. There are some institutions that are so intrinsically evil that no law, no legal principle can be used to shield them without making a mockery of justice, of the law, of its practitioners. Such evil institutions strip the innocent of their human dignity and freedoms, and in the case of abortion, their very lives.

Our second son, like the first,  has been sent by his father into the vineyard to work. Our second son has had advantages over the first. He has had the fullness of truth revealed to him through his Catholic upbringing that the first has not enjoyed in his churches that embrace contraception and abortion. Our second son has also signaled that he has the capacity to break with bedrock jurisprudence to defeat malignant evil when malignant evil would use bedrock jurisprudence as both sword and shield.

So, in the not-so-distant future, how will our second son acquit himself? Will he, as with so many sterling family men before him, shrink from the will of the father? Will he go down in history as having performed less than a reformed playboy billionaire?

None of us is perfect, and President Trump is no exception. However, his late, “Yes!” to the will of the father is the stuff of the good thief on the cross and the first son in Jesus’ parable, a son with plenty of warts doing the will of his father. A work in progress.

It is the second son who remains untested. It is he who is in need of more prayerful support than the reformed playboy billionaire. The pressures on him will be greater than anyone can imagine. His presence on the court is the result of the first son’s ongoing obedience to the father’s will.

May he see that, and act accordingly.

 

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Compliments of Princeton Pro-Life

“Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.”
[England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]

“Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).
“Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”
[Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

“Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus.”
[Cloning Human Beings. Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD: GPO, 1997, Appendix-2.]

“Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus.”
[Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146

“Embryo: The early developing fertilized egg that is growing into another individual of the species. In man the term ’embryo’ is usually restricted to the period of development from fertilization until the end of the eighth week of pregnancy.”
[Walters, William and Singer, Peter (eds.). Test-Tube Babies. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 160]

“The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
[Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

“Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism…. At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun…. The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life.”
[Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]

“I would say that among most scientists, the word ’embryo’ includes the time from after fertilization…”
[Dr. John Eppig, Senior Staff Scientist, Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) and Member of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel — Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 31]

“The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
[Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]

“The question came up of what is an embryo, when does an embryo exist, when does it occur. I think, as you know, that in development, life is a continuum…. But I think one of the useful definitions that has come out, especially from Germany, has been the stage at which these two nuclei [from sperm and egg] come together and the membranes between the two break down.”
[Jonathan Van Blerkom of University of Colorado, expert witness on human embryology before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel — Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 63]

“Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.”
[Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]

“The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are…respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”
[Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 17]

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”
[O’Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29. This textbook lists “pre-embryo” among “discarded and replaced terms” in modern embryology, describing it as “ill-defined and inaccurate” (p. 12}]

“Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”
[Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]

“[A]nimal biologists use the term embryo to describe the single cell stage, the two-cell stage, and all subsequent stages up until a time when recognizable humanlike limbs and facial features begin to appear between six to eight weeks after fertilization….
“[A] number of specialists working in the field of human reproduction have suggested that we stop using the word embryo to describe the developing entity that exists for the first two weeks after fertilization. In its place, they proposed the term pre-embryo….
“I’ll let you in on a secret. The term pre-embryo has been embraced wholeheartedly by IVF practitioners for reasons that are political, not scientific. The new term is used to provide the illusion that there is something profoundly different between what we nonmedical biologists still call a six-day-old embryo and what we and everyone else call a sixteen-day-old embryo.
“The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena — where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation — as well as in the confines of a doctor’s office, where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients. ‘Don’t worry,’ a doctor might say, ‘it’s only pre-embryos that we’re manipulating or freezing. They won’t turn into real human embryos until after we’ve put them back into your body.'”
[Silver, Lee M. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. New York: Avon Books, 1997, p. 39]550px-Human_Carnegie_stage_1-23.jpg

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Since this blog began seven years ago, the power of social media to change the world for the better has made itself clear time and time again. So many faith-filled people here and on Facebook have gathered, shared advice, shared wisdom, and most importantly, shared prayers for one another. Miracles have happened, and lives have been changed.

On December 13, two weeks ago, a mother reached out on Facebook with a request for prayers for her fifth child, who was in her 20th week of gestation, and being given only a few more weeks of life by her doctors. It seems her fluids were low and the doctor was recommending terminating the pregnancy. A simple sharing of that request elicited hundreds of responses from a mighty host of prayer warriors. Also, many women stepped forward to share their own similar experiences and the stories of live births all around with no complications. They even shared with the mother, Mary, a support group for women with the same condition!

Then, a simple referral to Dr. Donna Harrison, Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, produced referrals to specialists in Mary’s area who assured her that there was a way forward for little Veronica Rose, and recommended a course of action.

Prayer. Support. Hope.

An ocean of love for a mother who has never met the hundreds who have lifted her and little Veronica Rose in prayer. It is the Body of Christ at its finest. Veronica Rose continues to thrive in the safety and security of her loving mother’s womb, now at 22 weeks.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   ~Jeremiah 29:11

With so many good people surrounding this mother and child with their love, there is nothing but hope in a bright future for Veronica Rose.

We’ll continue to keep her in our prayers.

 

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