Saturday, November 13, 2010

The New Catholic Medical Association Students Section

The past three months have been very busy.  The Catholic Medical Students Association official no longer exists, but is now become the Catholic Medical Association- Students Section.  Prior to this change, the CMSA was a loose, independent affiliation of individuals around the country.  We had many struggles in maintaining our structure and continuity. However, all of that is changing now.

With the creation of the Catholic Medical Association-Students Section, we will now be officially a part of the CMA and have administrative and monetary support for our mission.  The CMA is extremely happy to have us as a part of their organization and have gone to great lengths to support the CMA-SS.

This is going to be a great opportunity for medical students around the country who are looking to be a part of a group who has national voice in the defense of Catholic medicine.  By joining the CMA-SS, students will also have access to a database of other members and guilds in their area or in places they may be looking at for residency.  The students will also receive the Linacare Quarterly, an great Catholic bioethics journal, and they will also be eligible for scholarships to the yearly meetings.

As a group, the CMA-SS is striving to help form Catholic medical students as strong and faithful doctors.  We hope to do this by facilitating relationships between Catholic physicians and students and by giving the support that each student needs to be a faithful Catholic physician.

If you know of a Catholic medical student, please direct them to our website:

and please check out our latest blog post:

If you have any other inquiries, please email us at

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Fight Is Still On Against Abortions in the Military

As a future Navy physician (and current Navy officer) I am appalled that Senator Burris would try and force the military to provide abortions.  Despite what the media would have you believe most Americans are against abortion, and that goes for military members as well.  This is an all out assault on the unborn.  We have attacks coming through Obamacare, stem-cell research, govt funding to Planned Parenthood, and now the attempts to force it upon the military.

Abortion and the military is an interesting situation, but one that reflects the greater society.  The so-called need for abortion in the military arises primarily because if a woman becomes pregnant, her ability for advancement disappears.  If she is overseas, she will quickly be sent home and her career will stall out.  (Read more in a June 2010 NY Times article about this).  So in the eyes of the liberals, the answer is to allow these women to abort their children rather than to call upon them, and the men involved, to exhibit the self discipline we would expect from our service men and women.

We ought to be focusing on to points in all of this.  The first is the need to instil the idea of the dignity of human life.  It would seem this would be very challenging in light of the profession of a service member, but it is necessary even in light of this. We need our service men and women to recognize the idea of self defense, but also the idea of mercy when encountering the enemy.  The same for the unborn.  We must show them that this is a life that they have taken an oath to protect, just as they are protecting the rest of us.   The second point is self discipline.  A standard of self control and chastity should be instilled in these men and women (just like the rest of America needs it).  If any group of people should be able to do this, it should be those who have dedicated their lives to the idea of discipline and sacrifice.

So we need to continue the fight against this Amendment:

Over 200 Military Physicians Petition for No Abortion on Military Bases
WASHINGTON, DC, August 3, 2010 ( -- Over 200 active and retired military physicians have signed a letterorganized by the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA), in which they ask Senators to vote against the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, unless an amendment permitting abortions to be performed on military bases is stripped from the bill.
"In addition to facilitating further destruction of unborn life, the provision will place military physicians with life-honoring convictions in the unenviable position of either disobeying orders, abandoning their conscience, or seeking objector status," said CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who has received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military. 
Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense (DoD) medical personnel or using DoD medical facilities, except in case of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother.  An amendment added to the Defense Authorization Act by the outgoing Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), however, would permit abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.

"Such a drastic and controversial change in longstanding federal policy could disrupt military medicine in a time of war and also undermine military physician retention and recruitment," the letter says.
When President Clinton instituted a policy in 1993 permitting abortions on military bases, most military physicians refused to participate in them.  The letter warns that the efforts of those holding to "partisan abortion ideology" in attempting to diminish conscience rights, combined with pro-abortion policies such as the Burris amendment, could "drastically reduce the number of physicians, thus reducing patient access."
"Reducing physicians and patient access during two wars and at a time of a growing and severe national shortage of physicians - especially in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine - is hardly wise policy, regardless of one's views on abortion, " the letter states.
Abortion has been prohibited on military bases since a 1996 law overturned Clinton's policy.  That law "has enabled military physicians to practice medicine according to the life-honoring principles expressed in the Hippocratic oath and Judeo-Christian ethics," according to the letter.
CMA Director of Global Health Outreach Col. Donald Thompson, MD, who recently retired from the Air Force, said that "this provision would put conscientious military medics on the losing side of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in key areas crucial to good order and discipline in the military.”
"Our military exists to fight our nation's wars, not to be a ideological playground. If this provision stays in the NDAA, it will drive out of the military those who are most likely to serve their nation by going in harm's way."
The FY 2011 Defense Authorization act would also end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) policy and permit homosexuals to serve openly in the military.
You may find contact information for your Senator here.

See related stories on

U.S. Senate Committee Oks Amendment Ditching Military Abortion Ban

Rep. Smith Vows to Oppose Military Abortions in Defense Bill

Missouri Shows Washington the Opinion of the People on Obamacare

From the NY Times:

Voters in Missouri Oppose Health Law
Published: August 4, 2010
Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure intended to nullify the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.
The measure was meant to invalidate a crucial element of President Obama’s health care law — namely, that most people be required to gethealth insurance or pay a tax penalty. Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt.
The referendum drew support from 71 percent of nearly 939,000 voters. “My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them,” said Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican. “It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone.”
The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. Practically speaking, it remains entirely uncertain what effect the vote will have. The insurance requirement of the federal health care law does not come into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts are likely to weigh in on the provision.

Though this vote is mainly symbolic at this point in time, I hope that it does show Washington that the majority of Americans do not want Obamacare.  It is a poorly thought out system that is going to ruin health care in this country.  Let us continue to pray that our elected leaders will actually listen to our voices.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conscience Rights Revisited In Washington State

Some possible good news coming out of Washington state. For the past several years there has been quite a fight over the dispensing of Plan B by pharmacies in that state.  A couple of pharmacists stated they would refuse to dispense it because it causes abortions, and so the state turned around and forced them to dispense it upon penalty of losing their license.  However, now there is a chance that pharmacists will maintain some of their freedom of conscience, though not based upon the ruling of the Federal Appeals court.  The Board of Pharmacy wants to revisit their regulation requiring all legal prescriptions to be filled.  The proposed change would only require a 'referral' by the pharmacist to another pharmacist who will accommodate.  Now, anyone with any basic understanding of moral theology knows that referring is still too proximal to the moral act to be justified.  If a pharmacist cannot dispense, then they cannot refer, because they are still aiding the person in the completion of the action, ie abortion. 

The Story:

Pharmacy board takes another run at Plan B rule

Published: 07/15/1012:05 am
The state Board of Pharmacy and pharmacists suing it over Plan B want out of court.

The litigants asked federal district court Judge Ronald Leighton last week to put their legal fight on hold pending the resolution of a new rule-making process.
The move angered advocates of unfettered access to Plan B emergency contraception. They contend the delay signals an undoing of a 2007 victory: the passage of rules requiring pharmacists to dispense a drug unless another pharmacist is available in person or by phone to step in.
The pharmacy board voted last month to reopen the rule-making process to consider “facilitated referral,” which is essentially the “refuse and refer” rule that the board embraced in 2006.
Under that rule, pharmacists with moral objections to Plan B – some consider it tantamount to abortion because it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg – could refuse to dispense it as long as they took steps to help patients get it elsewhere.
Back then, the proposal prompted Gov. Chris Gregoire to threaten to remove any pharmacy board members who voted for it. Her spokesman recently said she plans to make her opinion known to the board once again.
Pharmacy board members – most of whom have joined since 2007 – may indeed be headed for an about-face, but it’s too soon to assume that’s where they’ll end up.
Certainly, the goal is to write a rule that answers the concerns of the two pharmacists and Olympia grocer who are suing the state.
State lawyers hope to head off several more years of litigation – and a possible constitutional finding. The plaintiffs say that the state’s rule violates a pharmacists’ religious freedom. It is not a negligible argument, even if the often reversed 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year ordered Leighton to apply a standard more deferential to the government.
But any proposed rule will still have to be vetted by an extensive public process – a process likely to raise the same concerns as were voiced in 2006 and 2007.
The pharmacy board will have to again wrestle with situations in which a pharmacy’s refusal to dispense Plan B effectively blocks a patient from receiving the drug.
The pill should be taken within 72 hours – preferably 24 hours – to be effective at preventing pregnancy. Under “facilitated referral,” a patient in the hinterlands might have to travel some distance to find a pharmacy willing to stock Plan B.
Pharmacy board members probably haven’t spared themselves any grief by trading a legal battle for a public policy fight. They have more than a court case to settle; they also have to convince a lot of concerned people that any new rule protects access.

Read more:

Here is something else to consider.  Washington state has legalized assisted suicide.  Now, some pharmacists don't have too much of a problem with Plan B, but what about the drugs used for suicide?  Will the state force more pharmacists to fill these drugs or make them refer?  And if the state is willing to do this to pharmacists, then how long will it be before physicians are forced, as a condition of their license, to perform abortions and assist in suicides?

For more, see Wesley J. Smith's commentary.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

U.S. Army Knows Truth About Stem Cells

Excellent news that I wanted to share:

U.S. Army Gives $700,000 to Stem Cell Therapy Research

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

International biopharmaceutical company NeoStem announced Monday it was awarded a $700,000 contract by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, to advance adult stem cell therapies in treating traumatic wounds.
The contract was to evaluate the use of topically applied bone marrow-derived adult mesenchymal stem cells for rapid wound healing.
Robin Smith, board chairman and chief executive officer of NeoStem, said the company was thrilled to have the U.S. government's support to advance its technology and honored to become part of the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center’s regenerative medicine portfolio.
"It is our goal with this important project to leverage adult stem cell technology to help our soldiers avoid amputations and immobilization from injuries that they may sustain while fighting for our country," Smith said.
"Wound healing could represent just the beginning of more collaborative projects involving other clinical indications, such as spinal cord injuries and retinal damage, both of which affect American warriors who serve our country in the global war on terrorism," he added.

The US Army recognizes that the future of stem cell research lies in Adult stem cells and NOT embryonic stem cells.   I am excited to hear that this kind of research is being done because when I am a physician taking care of our military men and women, I hope that I can better treat their injuries with this type of technology.  This is just one more piece of evidence of why funding for embryonic stem cells should be shifted entirely to adult stem cells.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New Prenatal Testing: Search and Destroy Mission or Advancement in Science?

A recent article announced the the promising advancements of using maternal blood to test for fetal genetic anomalies.  The premise is that there is a very small amount of fetal DNA that passes into the mother's blood stream.  This DNA is not fully degraded, and if the proper techniques are used, it could theoretically be isolated and amplified in order to be tested for genetic anomalies such as mutations or aneuploidies.  This technology is very challenging to master.  I worked in a lab for a year that was pursuing this very technique.  During that time, I continued to struggle with the ethical nature of this research.  I was blessed that in the particular lab the research was performed within the paradigm of advancing the good of both mother AND child.  In this light, I was able to reconcile my work with my ethical standards because I knew that the basic research that I was performing had the potential of helping eliminate the risks of the current screening tests. Moreover, it could theoretically lead to the potential for treatment and cures, following in the footsteps of Dr. Jerome Lejune.  However, not all research done in this field follows such ethical standards.  In fact, as posted before, much of this research and testing is simply to promote the search and destroy missions against any 'imperfect' child.  Here is the story from FoxNews:

Cheap Blood Test Could Detect Disorders in Fetus

A simple blood test may one day become a safer alternative for checking if an unborn baby has Down syndrome or other disorders, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The test, which takes a blood sample from a pregnant woman to examine the DNA of the fetus, would cost as little as $36, and could be available within four years, according to the report.
It would provide an inexpensive and much less invasive way to detect many genetic abnormalities in fetuses, but it also raises concerns among pro-life advocates who say it could result in more abortions.
“If it might more conclusively prevent false positives, it might have some benefit, but it will also likely lead to more abortions of children with disabilities,” Mailee Smith, staff counsel for Americans United for Life, told
The tests currently used to determine if an unborn child has Down syndrome are both quite invasive. One is an amniocentesis, where doctors extract amniotic fluid from around the fetus. The other is a procedure known as chorionic villus sampling, which involves the removal of a small piece of placenta tissue. Researchers hope the new test will become a safer alternative to the current procedures, which are highly accurate, but raise the mother’s risk of suffering a miscarriage.
"The age is swiftly coming where not all possible technologic advances may bring welcomed change. Parents who have children with Down syndrome have already found much richness in life with an extra chromosome," Skotko wrote in an article published in the BMJ in October 2009.Dr. Brian Skotko, a physician at the Children's Hospital Boston who is on the board of directors of the National Down Syndrome Society, told that many doctors aren't adequately trained to counsel women on having children with Down syndrome, and worse, some who diagnose an expecting couple's child with Down syndrome encourage them to terminate the pregnancy.
Dr. Suzanna Frints, of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, began the ongoing research with her team in 2009, and claims that their technique is 80 percent reliable. Her team has proven their technique works by using the mother’s blood to identify the Y chromosome from the fetus.
Twenty-one women who have either had abortions or underwent amniocentesis, or other prenatal screening procedure, have participated in the research. But to establish the accuracy of the test, Frints said the next phase of development would need to involve more women.
Frints described the results as “promising,” and hopes that their technique will be able to screen for other abnormalities, like muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, Edwards syndrome and Patau syndrome.
“When we succeed in developing the procedure for use in maternal blood, we will be able to offer a safe, cheap, fast, reliable and accurate non-invasive test, which will be of immediate benefit to pregnant women, young and old, all over the world,” Frints said.
Professor Stephen Robson, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, considers a non-invasive test for detecting Down syndrome the “holy grail” and said there was an ''enormous research effort’’ behind it.
Down syndrome is a genetic abnormality that affects around 1 in 800 babies born in the U.S., and is the most common genetic cause of severe learning disability.

Here is an excellent commentary on the story from Wesley J. Smith:

A new test is in the works that will allow Down fetuses to be detected without the risks of current screening.  From the story:
A quick inexpensive blood test for Down’s syndrome that could save the lives of hundreds of unborn babies each year is being developed by scientists.  The ‘holy grail’ of diagnosis, it would pick up signs of the disease from a few drops of the mother’s blood. The test could save lives by removing the risk of miscarriage associated with current tests…Dr Frints, of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, has already created a kit that can work out if the baby is a boy or a girl. She is adapting the kit to test for Down’s syndrome and other genetic conditions could follow. Around 25,000 British women a year have invasive tests for Down’s syndrome, so the test has the potential to save 250 lives annually.
The statement in the story really meant “save the lives of normal babies.” These tests are intended as a search and destroy mission,  to find and promote eradication of Down fetuses.  The babies miscarried now as a result of invasive testing might be called collateral damage in the larger eugenic drive.
I am certainly in favor of preventing those miscarriages.  And, of course, some families will use the information provided to prepare themselves and family for the arrival of a child with a disability, as did the Palins (for which some will never forgive them).  But the latter benefit isn’t the primary point of the test and certainly not why the medical establishment promotes universal pre-natal testing so enthusiastically.  Frankly, they are not satisfied with a 90% termination rate.
But isn’t it ironic–that we will save some “good” babies, in order to find a better way to identify others to terminate.   If babies of color were being similarly targeted it would be called racism.

As future physicians and current physicians, we need to work hard to shape the culture so that we are able to promote research to alleviate the negative impact of genetic anomalies.  We have the obligation to fully inform our patients of the use and impact of these tests and encourage them to use the knowledge in such a way as to promote the sanctity of life.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cardinal DiNardo Stands Against Military Abortions

June 29, 2010

Dear Senator:

When the full Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 (S. 3454), it should remove from the bill a misguided committee amendment to 10 U.S.C. §1093 that authorizes the performance of elective abortions at military hospitals in this country and around the world.
Archbishop Broglio of the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services wrote to all Senators on June 17, urging Congress not to impose this tremendous burden on the consciences of Catholic and other health care personnel who joined our armed services to save and protect innocent life, not to destroy it. On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops I wholeheartedly endorse his plea, and want to offer some additional considerations in terms of longstanding government policy on abortion.
First, the committee amendment is titled a “restoration of previous policy” on use of military facilities for abortion. But in fact, the Department of Defense has barred use of these facilities for elective abortions since 1988. President Clinton reversed the policy in January 1993, but in 1995 Congress voted to restore the ban, and it has remained intact for the last 15 years. During the brief period when these facilities were told to make abortions available, scarcely any military physician could be found in overseas facilities who was willing to perform abortions. Proposals for hiring private physicians from outside the system, or for taking a more coercive attitude toward military physicians and nurses, were never implemented because Congress acted in a timely way to restore the morally sound policy.
Second, pro-abortion groups claim that the longstanding current policy somehow treats military personnel differently from other Americans. On the contrary: Other federal health facilities also may not be used for elective abortions, and many states have their own laws against use of public facilities for such abortions. The vast majority of public and private hospitals in the United States do not provide elective abortions, and 88% of U.S. counties (97% of non-metropolitan counties) have noidentifiable abortion provider.
Third, and most disingenuously, the claim is made that the committee amendment is somehow a moderate policy, because Sec. 1093’s ban on use of federal funds for the abortion procedure will remain in place – that is, patients will have to pay the facility to perform the abortion. But this is disingenuous, to say the least. Which is a more direct governmental involvement in abortion: That the government reimburses someone else for having done an abortion, or that the government performs the abortion itselfand accepts payment for doing so? In fact, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld bans on use of government facilities and personnel for abortions, on the same basis as it upholds laws against government funding of abortion. In one such decision, citing a consistent line of decisions going back to 1977, the Court memorably observed that “the State need not commit any resources to facilitating abortions, even if it can turn a profit by doing so.” Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490, 511 (1989).
In short, this amendment presents Congress with the very straightforward question whether it is the task of our federal government to directly promote and facilitate elective abortions. During the recent health care reform debate, the President and congressional leadership assured us that they agree it is not. The Senate should not approve this legislation until the original version of 10 U.S.C. §1093 is restored, maintaining the longstanding current policy on abortion as the House version of this legislation has already done.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

As a Ensign in the Navy and a future physician, I am horrified at the possibility of abortions being permitted in military facilities.  How long will it be before physicians and other health care personnel are coerced into assisting or providing an abortion?  As Cardinal DiNardo (a magnificent man) said, I joined the Navy because I desired to protect and save lives, not destroy them.  Congress is continuing its attempt to force the American taxpayers to fund abortion.  In this case, facilities and personnel built and trained through taxpayer dollars will used for the abortion.  We cannot let this happen, so please, please, please contact your congressman and Senators to tell them that this is unacceptable!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Dangers of Synthetic Life

Here is an excellent commentary on the recent news that scientists made the next step in creating synthetic life by inserting an artificial genome into a cell.  

Regulate Synthetic Life Science While the Horse is Still in the Barn

June 10th, 2010
By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
The media was all atwitter a few weeks ago when scientists announced that they had created synthetic life.Technically, that isn’t true—if by synthetic life one means creating life out of non life. Rather, scientists took a living bacterium, removed its genetic content, and replaced it with a manufactured genome of a different species. The new genome took control of the existing cell and created a new species that acted like its natural counterparts, including cell splitting. Thus, it might be more accurate to say that scientists have successfully mimicked life rather than literally created it.
Semantics aside, it was an astounding scientific achievement that could lead, the scientists said, to man exerting “a new power over life.” They weren’t kidding. The potential safety and ethical consequences of learning to engineer new life forms—including eventually of the human variety—is hard to overstate.
That being so, we had better get about the task of erecting legally enforceable safety and ethical parameters around this field while we still have time to act deliberately. And here’s an important truth: If society doesn’t decide where we want the science to go—and not go—the amoral inertial imperative of technological advance will fill the resulting vacuum with potentially terrible consequences.
We have already seen the moral and social anarchy that flows from refusing to rationally regulate the awesome power of emerging life sciences. When in vitro fertilization (IVF) became a possible means of treating infertility, critics worried about ethical and practical consequences that could result when we took reproduction literally into our own hands. But IVF boosters scoffed at these concerns, assuring us that scientists could be trusted to exercise prudence and self control without the need to resort to government regulation. Thus in her 1980 syndicated column “Making Babies,” syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman wrote:
A fear of many protesting the opening of this [IVF] clinic is that doctors there will fertilize myriad eggs and discard the “extras” and the abnormal, as if they were no more meaningful than a dish of caviar. But this fear seems largely unwarranted.
We now know that Goodman was wholly mistaken, that we do indeed “discard” the “extras,” and do view these embryos as “no more meaningful than a dish of caviar.” Worse, because we now have more than 400,000 embryos in hyper-frozen stasis, many view these nascent human beings not as potential babies, but instead, as a bounteous natural resource ripe for exploitation and destruction in medical treatments and various biological experiments, a matter that would have caused horror when Goodman wrote, but which she and much of the science sector now find perfectly acceptable.
Indeed by failing to regulate IVF, it has, in effect, regulated us, leading directly to tremendous changes in the norms of family life (e.g., Octomom and aged motherhood), the reemergence of eugenics values (for example, in embryo selection), and an overall utilitarian objectification of unborn life (human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and advocacy to permit fetal farming). If that was true of IVF—which, recall, had the original limited goal of helping infertile married couples have babies—imagine the potential epochal impact broadly synthesizing life could exert over the earth’s biology and human morality............

Read the rest here 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

NFP: Licit or Illicit?

Within the Church, there is a great battle raging.  This battle is truly for the heart of the Church and centers around sexual morality and ethics.  It is the battle between those Catholics who feel it is moral to use artificial birth control and those who stand behind the teachings of the Church on this topic.  In recent years, with the support of many wonderful priests and bishops, the tide is turning where more and more individuals are turning their hearts back to the teaching of the Church and rejecting artificial birth control as an intrinsic evil.

Yet, this is not the only struggle on this topic.  As Natural Family Planning instructors for the Couple to Couple League, my wife and I have encountered on several instances individuals and families within the Church who claim NFP to be no better than artificial birth control.  These people are good people who obviously seek to do God's work and support the Church, yet in their animosity towards NFP, they do great harm.  This harm stems from a rejection of the Church's teaching on the use of NFP.  I realize that for some of these people, it can be very difficult because they have been on the defensive within the Church itself for the past 40 years in regards to so many issues.   It would seem that they do not know what they can believe anymore and so some turn to the time before the tumult, namely the pre-Vatican II era.  And yet, in doing so, they lose so much of the rich development in the understanding of sexual ethics that has come from John Paul II's Theology of the Body and the need for orthodox Catholics to better understand the relationship of man and woman in response to a culture hostile to God's design for sex.  

In this smaller conflict, there is a need for proper catechesis. It is a matter of reminding these families that the Church's teachign truly does trump all, and in this case, NFP is licit.  Below is the beginning of a post written on the topic that does a thorough job of laying out the case for NFP in the heart of the Church.  I encourage you to read it, and if the Lord calls you to, send it to anyone who you think may benefit from its message.

Let’s talk about, sex, artificial birth control (ABC) and Natural Family Planning (NFP).  Let’s focus specifically on the licitness of NFP.  The things that follow here assume the Catholic position on ABC.  I understand that some who come here may not share our beliefs.  This is not about “convincing” non-Catholics of anything.  This is what you might call an “internal discussion.”  This is a discussion for those of us who are Catholic and who agree that ABC is morally wrong.  That is the foundation.  If this isn’t you, you may find this writing to be boring or even ridiculous.  That’s okay, you can just close the window and come back another time to see pictures of GarinĂ­on or to see what is happening in our daily life.  Whether you stick around or not, this will be a very, very long entry.
Throughout the years, I’ve been exposed to a many, many, many conversations regarding Natural Family Planning.  I guess that comes with being Catholic, having a large family and being a certified NFP instructor (now retired!)  It has come up again recently in a couple of different venues.   I often find it frustrating to have conversations about this because people tend to be passionate about their position to the point of not being able to consider or hear anything else.  I also find that it is hard to fully “argue” your position in these types of conversations.  (That fact that it’s taking 3100+ words here might explain part of that!)
Sometimes in these conversations the question is trying to get to the heart of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, birth control, and what it all means.  Often, it boiled down to questioning the licitness of using NFP at all.  Many have wondered if using NFP shows a desire for control that is not an appropriate response to God’s creative prerogative, and is therefore just as evil as contraception.  This is what I’ve got on my mind today.  Let me say right upfront that while I do not criticize the people who are asking these questions (for in my experience, most truly appear to be seeking) I find the suggestion itself (that NFP is always wrong) to be, well, hogwash.
The conversations I was a part of or was exposed over the years to took all kinds of twists and turns and some of the things that were said or implied were mind-boggling to me.  Some of these things seemed a bit extreme.
I have heard or read more times than I can remember that since ABC and NFP have the same “end goal” in mind, (avoiding pregnancy) either both are valid or both are invalid.  This argument is put forth by those who reject the Church’s teaching against ABC as well as those who reject NFP along with ABC.  The problem with that line of thinking, in my opinion, is that it confuses the issue.  The problem with it is that it assumes that seeking to avoid pregnancy is always evil in all circumstances.  If that were true, then I would have to agree that no matter how you violate that, it is evil.  But avoiding pregnancy for a good (sufficient/grave/serious) reason is not evil.  The problem enters with the how.  It comes down to the meaning and purpose of sex and to the natural law regarding human sexuality
As I observed these conversations and took it all in, particularly over the past 15+ years, I kept coming back to one, single question:
Does no one read the catechism?

Read the rest here. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Apology

I owe an apology to any one who reads this blog.  I said I would be trying to post more, but it just hasn't happened.  I am studying for Step 1, and so my attention is diverted elsewhere for the time being.  Thankfully though, this will not go on forever.  I take the exam June 4th (prayers appreciated!) and after that, hopefully I can get back into the swing of things.  So please keep checking back! Hopefully there will be a couple posts before the test and bunch more after! Thanks and God Bless!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Story of Trisomy 18

Below is an excerpt from an heart touching piece.  Rick Santorum shares with us a story of the power of love:
'Incompatible with life." The doctor's words kept echoing in my head as I held my sobbing wife, Karen, just four days after the birth of our eighth child, Isabella Maria.
Bella was born with three No. 18 chromosomes, rather than the normal two. The statistics were heartbreaking: About 90 percent of children with the disorder, known as trisomy 18, die before or during birth, and 90 percent of those who survive die within the first year.
Bella was baptized that day, and then we spent every waking hour at her bedside, giving her a lifetime's worth of love and care. However, not only did she not die; she came home in just 10 days.
She was sent home on hospice care, strange as that sounded for a newborn. The hospice doctor visited us the next day and described in graphic detail how Bella would die. In sum, she could die at any time without warning, and the best we could hope for was that she would die of the common cold.
Karen and I discontinued hospice so that we and our amazing doctors, James Baugh and Sunil Kapoor, could get to work focusing on Bella's health, not her death.
Like so many moms of special kids, Karen is a warrior, caring for Bella night and day and, at times, fighting with health-care providers and our insurance company to get our daughter the care she needs.
Being the parent of a special child gives one exceptional insight into the negative perception of the disabled among many medical professionals, particularly when they see your child as having an intellectual disability. Sadly, we discovered that not only did we have to search for doctors who had experience with trisomy 18. We also had to search for those who saw Bella not as a fatal diagnosis, but as a wanted and loved daughter and sister, as well as a beautiful gift from God.

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

CMSA Newsletter Submissions

If anyone is interested in submitting an article for the CMSA newsletter, you can email me at  Articles should be around 500 words.  If you have an idea, let me know!

In Christ,


Vatican Backs Stem Cell Research

I hope that the title of this post caught your attention. It was supposed to.  I thought that employing the same tactics of the main stream media might help spread the message a bit.  That tactic being, of course, to leave ambiguity in regards to what type of stem cells are being used.  In this case, it would be ADULT stem cells.  So here is part of the story:

ROME – The Vatican is pushing for research of adult stem cells as an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells, which the Catholic Church opposes because it maintains that the destruction of the embryo amounts to the killing of human life.
On Friday, the Catholic Church threw its support and resources behind the study of intestinal adult stem cells by a group of experts led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The group wants to explore the potential use of those cells in the treatment of intestinal and possibly other diseases, and is seeking an initial euro2 million ($2.7 million) to get the project going, officials said.
"This research protects life," Cardinal Renato Martino said during a meeting with Italian and American scientists and health officials to outline the project. "I want to stress that it doesn't involve embryonic stem cells, where one helps oneself and then throws the embryo away and kills a human life.".....

....In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said the Catholic Church can encourage somatic stem cell research — also known as adult stem cell research — "because of the favorable results obtained through these alternative methods," and more importantly because it respects "the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence."

"Ethically, the rules the Catholic Church promotes are really very simple: That all research be respectful of human life," said Father Bob Gahl, an American professor of Moral Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. "Nobody should be killed in the process of doing medical research. So this new project falls exactly within the Catholic Church's ethical guidelines."
Dr. George Daley, a stem cell expert at Children's Hospital in Boston and past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, said both adult and embryonic stem cells may prove useful for treating different diseases.
"I applaud the Vatican for being interested in supporting biomedical research," Daley said Friday, "but I can't help but think there's an agenda."
He called intestinal stem cells "a very exciting area of basic research" but said therapeutic uses are only speculative at this point.
How quaint that this scientist would think there is an agenda behind the Vatican's support of this research.  Perhaps that agenda would be the continuation of ethical stem cell research, which has already shown so much promise and therapeutic application in the treatment of so many diseases?  Regarding his comment about the 'speculative' aspect of this research, it would appear that intestinal stem cells hold as much if not more promise than embryonic stem cells do.  It is unfortunate that a majority of scientists are so ideologically blinded by the desire to master embryonic stem cells (which have ZERO therapeutic application at this point) rather than supporting the continued research into the success of adult stem cells.

This step by the Vatican is wonderful, in regards to the relationship between science and the Church.  The Church has constantly supported the sciences that do not violate human dignity or the Law of God, and this is just another step in the great history of the Church.