Monday, January 30, 2006

Abandoned baby in Brazil makes international news

Brave and noble citizens rescued a baby girl who had been thrown in a lagoon in Brazilian city northeast of Sao Paulo. The child was dressed in a pink dress and bound in a black plastic bag along with a wooden board to prevent drowning. The girl is about two months old, and the story remains a mystery to authorities; her survival has been called a miracle.

In the above CNN article, there is a 2-minute video of the rescue (click on "Watch shocked rescuers open bag and find a crying infant -- 1:50" in the third paragraph). The video is very moving. Here are two men with a long stick attempting to fish a black bag from the lagoon, thinking a kitten is inside. The bag sinks under water a few times, and these are not even quick dunks, but submersions. Yet, the child survives. Immediately after being rescued, she appeared bluish and sickly, yet after she arrived at the hospital, she appeared to thrive, interacting with the nurse and suckling from a bottle.

So, what's the problem here? This child was purposefully bound in a bag and abandoned. Because of the board, it is clear that those who tossed her did not want her to drown. Why would a mother do this to her child? Baby girls are routinely abandoned, aborted or killed through infanticide in China by parents who prefer a boy (couples are only allowed by state mandate to have one child- no exceptions). But, in Brazil, there are no such state mandated stipulations regarding the number of children a couple can have, and abortion is not legal.

Is there a solution to problems like this? Many people are not aware, but there is a growing legalization of "safe haven" laws in the US, and these should be implemented worldwide. These laws make it possible for a mother to abandon her child legally within the first few months of the child's life. The laws vary from state to state with regard to the age of the child and the approved venues for bringing the child, but it is completely without consequence for the mother. On the other hand, if she is discovered abandoning her child at a non-approved location or not in compliance with laws, there are penalties. Although some people say that these laws create, not solve problems, the legalization of the programs continues to grow.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chemical contraceptives kill her sex drive

A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine this month highlights the negative effects of hormonal contraception on the sex drive of a woman. Hoping to get a copy of this paper (and wanting to save $39 that it would cost to purchase), I went to the National Library of Medicine in DC this weekend. Sadly, the issue is too new and has not been received by the library, so I am finally reporting to you on 3-week old news, and I don't even have all of the information I wanted to give you on the study. Hopefully, I will get a copy of the paper soon and give a more thorough update.

The only information I was able to secure is the abstract of the article, and from it, the conclusion says that that while there is a link between chemical contraceptives and a decreased sex drive. They concludes, however that more evidence is needed for an accurate correlation to be seen.

Let me just say that I am not surprised at all. I have read hundreds of testimonies from women and men who attest that the use of contraceptives mysteriously changed their sex lives. It is one reason why women do not like to take the pill. So, if the pill is causing such trauma and stress in the lives of women, why is it promoted as the be-all, end-all for worry-free sexual relations?

Our culture is obsessed with sex, and Pope John Paul II said once that our culture is afraid of sex. We are afraid of the reality of babies and commitment, so we have allowed our selves to be spoon-fed the rhetoric of the contraception movement.

Getting back to the harms that contraception brings, let's address two things.

First of all, chemical contraceptives work primarily in suppressing ovulation. As a natural part of biology, however, a woman naturally will feel a stronger urge to have conjugal relations during when she is ovulating, for this is her fertile time. It is only during those 3-7 days that pregnancy can be achieved. If a woman is not ovulating, it is because her body is not producing the proper chemicals for ovulation. When using chemical contraceptives, the body's natural hormones are suppressed and there is a chemical imbalance. Because this chemical imbalance is purposefully induced, there is no wonder that there is a decreased desire to have sex.

Secondly, if a woman is suffering from a sexual dysfunction, there is no reason to believe that this dysfunction would not permeate ever aspect of her marital life. This will result in frustration of their conjugal life both in fertile and non-fertile times. Because of the use of hormonal contraceptives, men are equipped with the means to abuse women. On the other hand, if a couple is using Natural Family Planning, the couple must carefully chart the precise times that the woman is ovulating and work with that naturally bodily element.

In his 1960 book, Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla (who later became Pope John Paul II) wrote of the need for men to work with the natural biology of a woman's fertility cycle.

Male continence must therefore adapt itself to the indications which the woman's organism provides… The marital relationship demands on his part tenderness, and understanding for the feelings of the woman. In this sense responsibility for planned motherhood rests mainly on the man, for only continence on his part makes it possible to capture the correct biological rhythm in marriage. (Ignatius Press edition- 1993, p. 283-284)

So, the conclusion is that it is quite irresponsible for physicians, social workers, educators, clergy, etc to be promoting a drug in the name of liberation of women which actually brings her more harm and increases her chances of being abused by her intimate partner (hopefully, that man is her husband). It is inconsistent with the message of the feminists that men are able abuse women more by the very ideals the feminists are promoting.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"God is Love"

Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical letter, "Deus Caritas Est," was published today by the Vatican. The title means, "God is Love," and Pope Benedict begins by quoting the words of scripture from 1 Jn 4:16: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." The entire document is 18 pages single-spaced with 10 pt. font, so it may be a few days before you see a thorough analysis from me of the document, but I want to quickly introduce you to it. I encourage you to read it, pray with it, share it with others, and find ways to implement it.

Yesterday, a very interesting comment was left on a previous post, and I would like to respond to it here because something of what Pope Benedict says in the beginning of his encyclical helps to answer this question. The comment was:

What is the basis for you assuming that homosexuality is morally wrong? Abortion and guns brings obvious harms to society whereas homosexuality does not. This is so clear that even teens can see it. Please explain yourself.

This is a good question, and I am glad it is worded the way it is. This individual calls the harms that guns and abortion bring "obvious" and "clear" while at the same time

A basic precept of morality is that every action has an effect on another person, particularly when that action is sinful. Homosexual relationships are considered sinful because they are a prevision of the good of sexual relations, which are meant for the purpose of procreation of children and union of spouses. When two men or two women engage in sexual acts without the commitment of marriage or the common goal of procreation, they are using their sexuality in an improper way. Thus, there is no way that their relationship can be a good for themselves or the other.

Pope Benedict says the following in paragraph 5 of his new encyclical; though long-winded, it is a fitting explanation of the respect that must be given to the body and the proper purpose of sexuality.

Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness. Christian faith, on the other hand, has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing. (p. 5)

"Exploited at will," the Holy Father says. Sexuality has thus become an object that is not seen as a good, but only as a means to the end of arousal and passion. No thought is given to the demand for commitment (marriage) or the natural, biological good of children (procreation).

Through this disrespect of the body (both of self and other), man "himself becomes a commodity." This is precisely what homosexuality does to man: makes him a "commodity."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Reflection on the March for Life

Hopefully most of you were able to attend the March for Life in Washington, DC or another pro-life event this past weekend to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I attended the March for Life, and I saw many old friends, met new friends, learned new things and helped others to become more effective in their own pro-life work. It was a productive and busy weekend!

At a great Irish breakfast with a friend from high school that I only get to see at the March and one of his friends, we pondered the idea of what we pro-life activists will do once abortion is illegal. The March for Life provides an opportunity to see those friends that are only e-mail correspondence or short phone conversations for the rest of the year. But, being Catholic (as is true for any Christian) gives me the hope that we will all be united again in heaven where we will have the eternal March for Life with Our God and all the angels and saints throughout time.

I have noticed that the biggest response from the March has been the question "How do I get more involved?" In lieu of delving into a deep topic (which I will do tomorrow in covering the release of Pope Benedict's first encyclical document), I want to provide you with some action items to keep up the pro-life spirit throughout the year.

First of all, pray for the end to abortion. A weekly holy hour is a simple way to stay focused on prayer in addition to Mass daily and personal prayer time.

Fr. Frank Pavone has a great list of action items from his "Defending Life" and "Gospel of Life" shows. Some of these are quite simple, so no excuses!

College students and young people, I invite you to participate in Crossroads pro-life walk next summer. This will be the second summer of three cross-country walks from May-August. Pray, raise awareness of the pro-life movement, meet fellow pro-life activists across the country, and more!

Every state has a state pro-life group sponsored by National Right to Life. Contact them, and ask how you can help.

On the website for the OptionLine, find the nearest pro-life pregnancy resource center and ask them how you can help their organization. Some ways they will need help are through fundraising, advertising, volunteering, baby drives and more.

If you are Catholic, your diocese should have a pro-life committee that always needs additional help to spread the pro-life message within the Church. Diocesan pro-life work is in union with the Secretariat of Pro-life Activities of the USCCB.

Host a campaign event to expose post-abortion pain through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

And, finally, read an article that quotes me on UPI. This article is about the impact of blogging on the pro-life movement. My focus in blogging is to keep the "average Joe" connected, informed and activated. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Project Prevention pumps up eugenics program

Project Prevention announced Friday that they are more vigorously going on a search and destroy mission to sterilize or provide an IUD for women who are drug addicts or alcoholics. Citing the reason as preventing both birth defects and children who would end up in state-sponsored care, their goal is actually nothing new. It's just good old-fashioned eugenics, and something sanctioned by the US Supreme Court in the early 20th century.

One of my favorite priests cited a 1927 case in a recent homily, and I was totally surprised that I had not heard of it until now. It is the case of Buck v. Bell (274 US 200). This case made it legal for a physician to forcibly sterilize a patient of a mental institution without the patient's consent.

It is in the best interest of the patients and of society that an inmate under his care should be sexually sterilized, he may have the operation performed upon any patient afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity, imbecility, etc., on complying with the very careful provisions by which the act protects the patients from possible abuse. (274 US 200, 206)

Here, the state is determining what is in the best interest of the individual with her consent and against her protests. Nothing is said about the patient's own desires in the sterilization, but only that it must not be done in order that abuse may be perpetuated upon the person because of the sterilization. They never mention that this involuntary sterilization in itself is an abuse of human rights. By sterilizing a woman, nothing is done to protect her from an abuser, but it only serves to protect the abuser from being found out. Sterilization also provides her with additional psychological and emotional trauma.

The facts of the case stated that the Carrie Buck is the daughter of a feeble-minded woman and mother of a feeble-minded daughter. Therefore, her feeble-mindedness is hereditary and she ought not reproduce any longer. These facts, which were upheld by the court, state the following:

[Carrie Buck] is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted, that she may be sexually sterilized without detriment to her general health and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted through her sterilization. (274 US 200, 207)

So too with Project Prevention's program. This program was begun in 1998 by Mrs. Barbara Harris after she suffered defeat in California when she attempted to passed legislation that would have made birth control or sterilization mandatory for drug addicts and alcoholics in that state. Upon this failure, Mrs. Harris delved into the grassroots, seeking a pity party from those who see the worst evil in this world as a child who she thinks should have never even been conceived.

"Nothing positive comes from an addict giving birth numerous times only to
have her children taken away," said Mrs. Harris. She claims expertise in this area because she has adopted four of eight siblings born of a drug addicted mother. She claims that having to give one's child up do to inability to raise them as some that "only sends the addict deeper into her addiction because of the guilt felt in losing yet another child."

Sadly, Mrs. Harris has many friends in her eugenics campaign. John Novick is a major "investor" in this campaign, and he stated, "Long term birth control is the only proven means of preventing substance-exposed births."

I'm sorry Mr. Novick, that is quite an ignorant statement. If you want to help a woman who is addicted, don't pay her to destroy her life even more; give her hope and healing through resources to heal her from the pains of her past and the pains of her addictions.

Perhaps the last line from the Nazi-like predecessor of Project Prevention, the Buck v. Bell case, speaks the most of the backwardness of this program. According to what they are saying, the natural course of fertility is really this dangerous to society!

"The operations enable those who otherwise must be kept confined to be returned to the world, and thus open the asylum to others, the equality aimed at will be more nearly reached" (274 US 200, 208).

This, too, is quite an ignorant statement.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

300 Millionth American

An article in last week's New York Times on the upcoming arrival of the 300 millionth American in October 2006. Though the article claims that the child will most likely be born in the mid-west by a Hispanic or Anglo couple, the 300 millionth American could very well arrive across the border, not the birth canal. Knowing his biology, though, the author of the article is careful to note that the child will be conceived this month, but of course, will only become an American, let alone a person, once he or she is born.

The article highlights the demographic changes that America has endured since the birth of the 100 millionth American in 1920 and the 200 millionth American in 1967 and includes some interesting statistics. First of all, America's population is the third largest of any nation, behind China and India, who each have over one billion in habitants. Second, there are about 11,000 births daily in the US; the article fails to mention, however, that there are about 4,000 abortions in the US per day in the US as well. Third, the growth rate for America right now is about 1 percent annually.

The best statistics, however, concern the way in which the population growth is happening:

The [Census] bureau estimates that with a baby being born every 8 seconds, someone dying every 12 seconds and the nation gaining an immigrant every 31 seconds on average, the population is growing by one person every 14 seconds.

Right, America is a land of immigrants. Most of the population are decedents of immigrants of the past 300 years, unless they have moved to the US within their lifetime. However, in his weekly briefing on Dec 29, 05, Joe D’Agostino of the Population Research Institute, a pro-life group that focuses on debunking the over-population myth, stated the following concerning the rapidly declining native birthrate in Italy, a concept that applies nicely here:

This is death by another method—-replacement of a country’s native population with unassimilated, largely Muslim foreigners. The UN Population Division has said that countries such as Italy will have to increase their already-high immigration rates by an astonishing 15 times to maintain the same worker-to-retiree ratio that she had in the 1990s. This is what is called an unsustainable development.

Unsustainable development? Yes, when a country kills itself through contraception and abortion like the US, Italy, Japan and many others are doing, it must rely on the immigration or illegal assimilation of a population from another source.

I must say, however, that I was mostly impressed with the tone of this article as well as the content. The article does not mention the over-population scare that has all by died recently, though it does mention "crowding" in certain areas. The over-population scare is mentioned as just that- a scare. Popular during the latter part of the 20th century, it is now clear that there is not an over-population scare, but an under-population scare. The article even mentions the fact that Japan is now suffering from a declining population due to lack of immigration.

(On that note, I am increasingly impressed with many things coming from the NY Times recently, such as this article on post abortion syndrome and healing. Though slanted, the article at least mentions the fact that PAS exists, and that is a very important step for women and the entire pro-life movement.)

(Another NY Times article of interest is from Sunday's NY Times Magazine on a phenomenon known as "hikikomori," wherein mostly young men will shut themselves in their rooms for months and years on end due to excessive social and personal pressure.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Women's health- real concerns or scare tactics?

An article in today's LA Times outlines the increase in cesarean section births over vaginal births, especially with attention to the risks of vaginal birth. Though a valiant attempt is made to keep the article neutral, the case is certainly made for cesarean section births, especially at the request of the mother, not by means of any medical necessity. As noted in the article, this is due to many reasons, most notably the fear of pain and in order to lessen the chance of a lawsuit from a vaginal birth complication.

The case for voluntary c-section birth is very dangerous to women's health and to the health of the newborn child. While this procedure is necessary and life-saving in many instances, it can have many harmful effects. The article touches on a few of these, most notably the fact that c-sections reduce the positive stress on the child. This positive stress is vital for the respiratory system's proper functioning.

But, what the article doesn't say about bonding is most frightening. A natural chemical reaction happens between the mother and child in order to trigger the onset of labor. The release of oxytocin is one of the key chemical elements to create bonding between a mother and child. The article lowers the idea of bonding to a simple function that can be achieved by framing pictures of pre-natal ultrasounds. (In fact, too many ultrasounds is harmful for the unborn child's development.) This is complete bogus. Bonding is a deep psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical phenomenon. Bonding is further helped by breastfeeding which produces the same oxytocin chemical in the mother. This is nature's way of bonding babies with their mothers.

It is also noteworthy that oxytocin is the same chemical that is released when a women has sex. This chemical reaction bonds her mate with a life-long physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual bond. This is one more reason why individuals should remain chaste and monogamous in marriage.

Alarming statistics show that 30% of births are c-section births. This is up from 5% of births in 1970. One neglected reason given for the increase in c-sections that is not mentioned in the article is abortion. Abortion harms the cervix and makes it less likely to function properly during delivery. The cervix is a muscle that naturally opens and closes during the monthly period as well as during birth. This muscle is almost always damaged during an abortion because the abortion doctor must force the cervix open in order to remove and destroy the child. A damaged cervix results in miscarriage and still-birth and the necessity for a c-sections delivery of subsequent children.

Conclusion? There may be real concerns regarding vaginal births, however forgoing vaginal birth voluntary hardly seems beneficial for women or their babies. On the contrary, women should be taught proper health during pregnancy, lamas breathing, breastfeeding and proper natural pain relief. After all, women have been having children of hundreds of thousands of years. This hardly seems a matter of personal choice.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The meaning of art

Art is meant to lift a person to a greater understanding of God and appreciation for His blessings in our lives. One of the greatest pieces of art in the world is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Commissioned by Pope Julius II and painted by Michelangelo, the entire ceiling took from 1508-1512 to complete.

By far, the most significant part of the ceiling is where God stretches his hand out to Adam in a symbol of the creation of man. In the first story of creation, we read:

God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth…"

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

This painting, thus, has a profound meaning for the understanding of human sexuality and God's plan for humanity. God does not imply in any way that part of "subduing" the earth is destroying the capacity to procreate. In fact, one sentence earlier, God commanded the male and female to "be fertile and multiply" and to "fill the earth!"

So, it is hardly shocking then that America's domestic terrorist and most perverted organization, the Planned Parenthood, has used this sacred painting as a means to spread the contraception lie. Making little key chains to hold a condom, one of them features this beautiful picture with a meaning that is the polar opposite: God handing Adam a condom. The message of the painting is twisted into meaning that God wishes for the man and woman to erase fertility, the first command given to mankind, from the beautiful expression of sexuality.

On the occasion of the completion of the restoration of these paintings, Pope John Paul II stated the following of the masterpiece known as the Sistine Chapel:

The frescoes that we are contemplating here introduce us into the world of the contents of the Revelation. The truths of our faith speak to us here from all sides. From them human genius took its inspiration undertaking to clothe them in forms of incomparable beauty.

But, in other news on a related topic, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona recently declared that all couples who marry in the diocese must go through a Natural Family Planning (NFP) instruction class prior to the marriage. Bishop Olmsted is the third bishop in the United States to make such a decree, following his brother bishops in Denver, Colorado (Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap.) and Fargo, North Dakota (Bishop Samuel J. Aquila).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More on "iPledge: an agenda?"

Tonight's post is a brief follow-up to my Aug 22 post, iPledge- an agenda?. An article in today's New York Times reveals the festering conflict within the medical community about the use of the drug and the continued fear of pregnancy during its use.

The article quotes even from the March of Dimes, an organization that purports to defeat birth defects (though the pro-life movement is largely wary of their policies because of their history of recommending abortion). In the article, Dr. Nancy Green, medical director of the March of Dimes, said, "We've been advocating since 2000 for F.D.A. to take this kind of step. Is this the perfect solution? We'll have to wait and see. We are cautiously optimistic that this is the right way to go." But, wouldn't it make more sense for an organization so passionate about avoiding birth defects that they would either recommend against the dangerous Accutane drug or insist on abstinence from relations while on the drug?

Oddly enough, the article also mentions a similar campaign during the 19th century where prescriptions were only granted under the condition of attempting to prevent pregnancy at all costs. The drug, thalidomide, was used to treat and prevent morning sickness, and carried the same stipulation: two forms of birth control. However, I know of hardly any cases where a woman suffers morning sickness apart from pregnancy, and morning sickness is most dramatic during the first trimester of pregnancy, which happens to be the time during which most birth defects manifest themselves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mainstreaming pastoral care and abortion providers

In a disturbing conversation recently with a seminarian friend of mine, he revealed to me his perception of the pro-life movement: we are narrow-minded. While I'm not surprised to hear that, I was surprised to hear it from a seminarian. In his opinion, activists of every movement are over-zealous about their cause to the detriment of the over-all good of any situation. He cannot find a good reason why his seminarian studies and pastoral preparations should include the life issues. "We don't all need a PhD in pro-life work," were his words.

He blamed me for having a narrow focus on the Gospel and the Church because of my passion of pro-life work, but the reality is that the most hotly disputed issues in the Church are her teachings on marriage, human sexuality, abortion, euthanasia and the rest of the life issues. These are also the places where the greatest pastoral need lies. One recent example is a fervent parish youth group where two of the members recently proclaimed that they are gay, and the pastor was unable to give any practical direction to the youths about programs available for sexually disturbed teens that convey the Church's teachings. The youth of the group are now confused and hurt.

It has been 75 years since the landmark encyclical letter of the Catholic Church, Castii Connubii where Pope Pius XI warned sternly of the need for the "pastors of souls" to be prepared for attacks against human life, sexuality and marriage. Even with this, seminarians and priests have found it very difficult to "mainstream" these issues into their pastoral care.

On the other hand, the medical community is continuing to mainstream abortion into private medical practice. One key example of this is the influential presence of Medical Students for Choice on the campuses of many medical schools. Students are empowered to become tomorrows abortion providers. Even more ironic, there are even several abortion clinics that provide "clergy" counseling on-site.

So, as our future seminarians are skirting the life issues, the medical community is spreading their influence so much that abortion clinics are closing by the dozens as the procedure is mainstreamed into private practice. With this disturbing fact, why are our seminarians reluctant to at least know of the resources available in their area?

Monday, January 9, 2006

"The purpose… is not to encourage sexual activity among teens"

So says a spokesperson for the California Family Health Council, Inc today in a release announcing a new campaign to make teens aware of the easy accessibility of contraception and abortion services in their areas, most notably emergency contraception. This campaign launched today.

The group is airing 30-second video spots on major cable channels such as MTV, Spike and Comedy Central, especially late at night across California. The spots feature sob stories of teen sexual behavior and how the "threat" of pregnancy would be the worst outcome of their irresponsibility. It is most notable that sexually transmitted diseases are not prevented by the use of emergency contraception, but the dangerous pill regime only decreases the instance of achieving pregnancy. This message seems quite inconsistent, especially since these contraception centers and programs also focus on helping teens receive treatment for sexually transmitted disease.

With this inconsistent and dangerous message to give to teens, the campaign features a website,, where teens can view movies, find a contraception center or program in their area, link with other teens who will "mentor" them, learn false information about human sexuality, and more. Clearly those who have formed this program do not have the best interest of teens, their families or society in mind as they launch a program whereby parents are never informed of their teen's behavior or health.

Ron Frezieres is the director of research for the California Family Health Council, and it is his quote that appears above. He goes on to say "the bottom line is that today many young people are sexually active, and while we would hope that they have taken steps to prevent unplanned pregnancy, the reality is that accidents happen, and Emergency Contraceptives offer a safe and effective method of contraception for those who need it."

In reality, the program states that they will "encourage obtaining EC pills ahead of time." This in no way will prevent teen sexual behavior, but only feed it. The desire to submit to raging teen hormones and passions will only be greater now that teens know the most dreaded of side effects, the natural and right outcome of sexual relations, will be less of a "threat."

These new efforts to push the availability of EC also serve a political purpose as the FDA continues to debate whether to grant over-the-counter status to the drug. It's not surprising that a "poll" on the website asks teens "Should Emergency Contraception be made available over the counter?"

It is also not surprising that groups such as Planned Parenthood are quick to join the campaign. One of the featured groups on the website has a six-minute movie on the new "T-ROC" program they have formed. This program, as with all of the programs, uses teens themselves to educate other teens on birth control, sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases. "They are very committed to what they do because they care about other people their age," the website insists. "They believe that teens and young adults have the right to have free, confidential, quality health services… [in a] non-judgmental… [and] comfortable environment."

If, as Frezieres insists, that the point of the clinic is not to encourage teen sexual behavior, then why is the slogan of the T-ROC center, "Got condoms?"

Friday, January 6, 2006

Teen opinion poll on abortion, homosexuality and gun rights

Hamilton College teamed up with Zogby Polling Company in order to conduct a new public opinion survey of high school seniors from across the country on abortion, gun rights and homosexuality.

According to the poll, the majority of students believe that abortion is wrong, and they would support limitations to its legality. Furthermore, 70% of the females stated that if pregnant, they would not abort the child.

The full report of the poll reveals more specific information, but I would like to comment on the sadness of the inconsistency in morality seen in this poll. These seniors, while recognizing the inappropriateness of abortion, are more tolerant of deviant sexual behaviors, namely homosexuality. The majority of these seniors say they would support giving legal recognition to their unions. This is very sad; while the pro-life movement is trying hard to save the lives of unborn babies, somehow the entire philosophy of our message, a message of hope, honor and love, has been lost. We are loosing the souls of teenagers in regards to homosexuality while winning their hearts to the pro-life message.

I also found it peculiar that together with these two issues, they also polled on opinion on gun control rights. These three things were lumped together in one poll because they are all "hot button" issues. I follow the news fairly well, and I have not see controversy surrounding bearing arms lately. Furthermore, there actually is a constitutional amendment that protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, where there is not a constitutional right allows homosexual unions or abortion.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Amniocentesis: some facts and recommendations

Many people have concerns about the legitimacy of amniocentesis as a form of pre-natal testing. Many times when the prognosis is negative, the mother is heavily pressured to abort the child. This is quite a long-winded post, but I hope to give you plenty of good information.

Many women are pressured and almost “guilted” to undergo the amniocentesis procedure, even when it is not medically necessary. This could be due to the medical community’s obsession with eugenics, which has been fostered since before World War I. This is a tragic reality of the medical profession.

Amniocentesis is used for several reasons, including determining the Rh factor in the baby’s blood. It is only necessary to check the Rh factor of the child if the mother is Rh-. There are only risks associated if the Mother is Rh- and the child is Rh+. If this is the case, there can be an in-utero blood transfusion to avoid further complications. Abortion is not necessary. The mother’s Rh factor is not checked through amniocentesis, but through a simple blood test in the arm.

As you know, amniocentesis is often used to for testing for Downs Syndrome or other birth defects. Most often, this is used to pressure the woman to abort as mentioned earlier, however it can also be used to prepare for a high-risk delivery or for an in-utero surgery to correct the problem. But, the procedure itself can cause a stillborn (miscarried) child between 1 in 200 and 1 in 300 times because of its invasive nature. The child can suffer stab wounds that will usually lead to still birth.

On this same topic, the chance of a child being born with Downs Syndrome is 1 in 800 live births. This is lower than the chance that a child will die from the testing procedure! The instance of giving birth to a child with Downs is higher with the increased age of the mother. A chart can be see here, but because the rate only reaches 1 in 200 to 1 in 300 between ages36 and 38, and 9% of births are of women older than 35, we can still draw a very logical conclusion here.

The instance of Downs Syndrome or any other fetal abnormality is higher with IVF (which is always an illicit procedure), yet many times even children conceived through IVF are tested for Downs and subsequently aborted. (It is also worth noting that women who abort a "wanted" child because of the health of the child suffer more from post-abortion syndrome than mothers who abort for most other reasons.)

The 1987 document Donum Vitae from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifically addresses this question in Section I, Number 2. There, they say:

Is Prenatal Diagnosis Morally Licit?

If prenatal diagnosis respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed towards its safeguarding or healing as an individual, then the answer is affirmative.

For prenatal diagnosis makes it possible to know the condition of the embryo and of the fetus when still in the mother's womb. It permits, or makes it possible to anticipate earlier and more effectively, certain therapeutic, medical or surgical procedures.
Such diagnosis is permissible, with the consent of the parents after they have been adequately informed, if the methods employed safeguard the life and integrity of the embryo and the mother, without subjecting them to disproportionate risks. But this diagnosis is gravely opposed to the moral law when it is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis which shows the existence of a malformation or a hereditary illness must not be the equivalent of a death-sentence. Thus a woman would be committing a gravely illicit act if she were to request such a diagnosis with the deliberate intention of having an abortion should the results confirm the existence of a malformation or abnormality. The spouse or relatives or anyone else would similarly be acting in a manner contrary to the moral law if they were to counsel or impose such a diagnostic procedure on the expectant mother with the same intention of possibly proceeding to an abortion. So too the specialist would be guilty of illicit collaboration if, in conducting the diagnosis and in communicating its results, he were deliberately to contribute to establishing or favoring a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion.

In conclusion, any directive or program of the civil and health authorities or of scientific organizations which in any way were to favor a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion, or which were to go as far as directly to induce expectant mothers to submit to prenatal diagnosis planned for the purpose of eliminating fetuses which are affected by malformations or which are carriers of hereditary illness, is to be condemned as a violation of the unborn child's right to life and as an abuse of the prior rights and duties of the spouses.

Please see the entire document here.

For women who do have a child with an adverse prenatal diagnosis, there are a few things for her to know. First of all, they are not always accurate. Many times, children are expected to be born with all types of abnormalities or syndromes, but are perfectly fine. Nonetheless, a child is always made in the image and likeness of God regardless of how the child looks or what the health of the child is.

Secondly, there are many organizations to assist families with adverse prenatal diagnosis. Two such programs are Christian Homes and Special Kids and Alexandra’s House Perinatal Hospice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Bad doc, good doc

In the past 3 weeks, two very important, prominent doctors have passed away. Dr. Heinrich Gross was 90 upon his death, and Dr. Charles W. Socarides was 83. They were contemporaries of each other, but with radically different agendas.

Dr. Heinrich Gross was a doctor who helped facilitate hundreds of thousands of euthanasia deaths in Europe around the time of World War II. Earlier this month, when his death was announced, and the original obituary claimed that there were around 75,000 deaths from euthanasia at that time. When I read it, I knew that was either a factual error or an intentional underestimation of the facts. There were far more cases of euthanasia by these doctors. A presentation called "Useless Eaters" (which by the way is a wonderful educational tool on the history of euthanasia) prepared by Dr. Mark Mostert of Regent University suggests at least twice that many based on his extensive research. When the correction to the article was posted last week, I was quite relieved. The correction retracted the earlier number and suggested a more likely number of 250,000 deaths. Dr. Gross was tried at Nuremburg for his participation in these crimes, but later in life his attitudes and actions suggested that he may have had a change of heart.

On the opposite end of the morality spectrum is Dr. Charles Socarides, who also died in December. Dr. Socarides was a leading psychoanalyst determined that homosexuality is not inherent to a person's life and held his opinion "long after it was considered scientifically acceptable to do." The truth is, however, that Dr. Socarides is right, and it should always be scientifically accepted to promote human truths. Dr. Socarides is a great hero who has left many books and extensive research on the hope and healing available to those suffering from sexual trauma and homosexuality.

Recommended reading:
On the history of the modern euthanasia movement: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Past and Present by Dr. J.C. Willke. ISBN: 910728-22-4
On the psychology of homosexuality: Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth by Jeffrey Satinover. ISBN: 0080105625X

Monday, January 2, 2006

Response to "Anna" concerning the biology and morality of IVF

"Anna" left a post on an earlier post entitled A Consequence of Sin. Rather than the post prepared for today, I would like to highlight my response to her.

Thank you for your comments on my blog, however I would like to clear up some misunderstandings. First of all, I am very well versed in both biology and theology, which is adequately reflected in this and other posts. I always promote the teachings of the Catholic Church, whether on the topics of social justice, sexual or medical morality, liturgy or anything else. I will not compromise those teachings for the sake of any perceived medical advance or breakthrough because that is contrary to the common good, charity and social justice.

This post is meant to reflect on the harms that the IVF procedure has not only on women, but also on children conceived. You and I clearly have a different understanding of conception. While according to common medical terminology pregnancy begins only at implantation, the conception of a child occurs when the egg and sperm meet. This is a wholly different entity than his mother or father, and is wholly different than any other human being who is alive or deceased. When a child is conceived through IVF, a terrible injustice is done to the child. He or she is a human person from the very moment of the joining of the egg and the sperm, not when he or she has reached the blastocyst or embryo stage, or upon implantation in the womb of his or her mother.

Also, it is dangerous to say that because something happens naturally, then forcing it to happen is okay. Death happens naturally. I could have a heart attack tonight, or have a tree fall on my head while taking a walk in the forest. I could die at any time for any reason or no reason. That's a fact of nature. So, does that mean that someone can give me a lethal injection of formaldehyde (as happens in some euthanasia cases as well as many death penalty executions) in order to induce a heart attack? Does it mean that someone can see me sleeping under a lovely tree in the forest and cause the tree to topple over and kill me? Does it mean that people can shoot one another out of hate or inconvenience? No, it doesn't. (This is also one of the precepts of the euthanasia movement: that because death is inevitable, that causing death is okay. It's not. Please read Fr. Frank Pavone's column on this.)

The same is true of pregnancy loss. Natural miscarriage or abortion induced through surgical procedures, accident or a faulty IVF procedure, is devastating for a mother. She will suffer much grief that will go largely unnoticed by society and loved ones. These women suffer in silence and shame most of the time. If something natural is so devastating, why should these things be forced to happen through medicine or medical procedures? Just because something happens naturally, it does not give any individual permission to force it to happen, especially when we are talking about the death of another individual.

About the extracted eggs from the mother's body. While many may not be used in the IVF procedure, it is not okay that they were extracted. There are two points here. The first is that it is a great injustice that the eggs were extracted in the first place. You said that " fertilized they may not develop to embryo stage," as though this means the fertilized egg was not a human person. It was. And that person does not deserve to be created only for the sake of an experiment in whether he or she will survive long enough to be selected for implantation. Secondly, IVF demands sperm from the male, which is most often obtained through masturbation, which is a grave evil and a perversion of the sexual act.

Some groups are promoting the idea of "embryo adoption," however the Church has not yet spoken for or against this practice. It would seem proper to allow their adoption, however we must avoid the temptation to create them only for the sake of adopting them out.

For further reading, please read the Catholic Church's document "Donum Vitae."

I hope this sufficiently answers your questions. God bless you!