Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BREAKING: Catholic Medical Association Issues Letter To President Obama


CMA Issues Open Letter to President Obama and Congress

Open Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress 
February 23, 2010
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA), the largest association of Catholic physicians in the United States, has been carefully monitoring the health-care reform debate. Now, given the clear lack of support from the American people, and given the substantial flaws that exist in House and Senate bills, we believe the most responsible course of action is to pause, reflect, and then begin the legislative process anew, working in a more deliberate and bipartisan manner. It is more important that health-care reform be done right than to finish the legislative process by a date certain.
Current health-care legislation is now opposed by a clear majority of the American people. A compilation of ten national polls, published at, shows that, on average, less than 40 percent of Americans favor current legislation while more than 52 percent oppose it. Not one of these polls shows majority support for current legislation.
We think this public opposition is well founded. Many objective analysts, including Richard S. Foster, chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have stated that the House and Senate bills will increase health-care costs and total federal health-care spending. Jeffrey Flier, M.D., dean of the Harvard Medical School, has stated that there is near unanimity of opinion among analysts that the current legislation “would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care's dysfunctional delivery system.” Thus, this legislation not only will fail to bring about authentic reform, but will make the current challenges faced by patients, providers, and the American people even worse.
Now it appears that one last effort will be made to revive this flawed legislation in a February 25 televised summit. While we applaud Members of Congress and President Obama for being willing to meet together for a frank exchange of ideas, we think this is no time for political posturing or partisan gambits. Given the seriousness of the challenges we face and the shortcomings of current legislation, the best chance for achieving authentic health-care reform in the foreseeable future is to start the process of legislation over and avoid the mistakes of the last year. Specifically, we call upon Members of Congress and the executive branch to:
  • Engage in a true bi-partisan process. Social legislation of this magnitude should not be enacted without a clear consensus among legislators of both parties and of the American people.
  • Ensure that efforts to assist the poor and uninsured are effective and economically sustainable. In November 2009, CMS Chief Actuary Foster noted that H.R. 3962’s tactic of putting millions more people into Medicaid would make it “plausible and even probable” that Medicaid enrollees’ already unacceptable access problems would be exacerbated (p.15). Health-care legislation must be based on sound economic principles.
  • Respect the physician-patient relationship. The excessive levels of governmental regulation and control evident in the House and Senate bills are detrimental to the effective practice of medicine.
  • Respect fundamental human and constitutional rights. Health care serves many human goods and can be the subject of many rights claims. However, there is no right more basic than the right to life, and no right more central to American constitutional order than the right to freedom of conscience and religion. Legislation must not compel any public funding of, or provider participation in, abortion. Moreover, the rights to conscience and religious liberty of health-care providers must be more comprehensively protected as the power of governmental regulation grows.
We believe the American people will rally behind sound legislation. We face real challenges, and the status quo is not acceptable. However, we can make progress only if we respond responsibly to the current impasse and move forward in a constructive manner. We ask all of you to engage in a good-faith effort that respects the principles and the process required for authentic health-care reform. We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to this effort.
Thank you.

Leonard P. Rybak, M.D., Ph.D.

John F. Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Executive Director and Ethicist

CONTACT: John Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L. Executive Director & Ethicist; 215-877-9088

Friday, February 19, 2010

Catholic Hospital In Oregon Rejects Title of "Catholic"

In the theme of Catholic Identity, this story stands out in regards to medical professionals.  Bishop Vasa has made a courageous move by actively promoting Catholic identity.  Read the story below:

(Emphasis in Black, comments in Red)

Hospital decided it could not meet the Catholic standard

BEND — In the course of the past several weeks I have focused on what it means for individuals and institutions to be Catholic. I have done this, in part, because of a concern about Catholic colleges and hospitals [Notice, "out of concern"- promoting Catholic identity is done out of Love, not legalism] in general but also, in part, because of very specific discussions I have been having with the administration of St. Charles Medical Center, a Catholic health care institution, in Bend. Over the course of the past several years I have struggled with the difficulty of trying to reconcile some practices ongoing at the medical center with clear Church teaching. In January I wrote: “It is not uncommon for faithful Catholics to question the Catholicity of these public institutions especially when they seem to be expressing and holding public views which are, or strongly appear to be, contrary to the clear teachings of the Church. At what point are these institutions no longer ‘in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth?’” I have come to the very difficult conclusion, after much discussion and discernment, that it is time to acknowledge that which has become very clear to me, namely, that St. Charles is a community hospital and should no longer be identified as a Catholic institution.
A little history: In the 1970s St. Charles became a community nonprofit organization with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Tipton, Indiana as the Catholic Sponsors. In 1992 an Association of the Christian Faithful was established with the specific goal of “preserving the unique Catholic character of St. Charles.” This was done because the Sisters determined that they could no longer provide Catholic Sponsorship. Most notable among the Sisters was Sister Kathryn Hellmann, who personally oversaw the progress of St. Charles for many years. In 1992, the Sisters transferred control of the hospital to the board of directors and the Sisters were instrumental in helping establish the Association of the Christian Faithful as the vehicle by which the hospital’s Catholic sponsorship could be maintained.
A specific part of the role of the Association of the Christian Faithful was to assure that there was a clear adherence to both Catholic principles and approved Catholic practices at St. Charles. These specific practices, as well as a summary of the principles, are contained in a document published by the Catholic Bishops of the United Sates titled: “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” (ERDs). The adopted statutes of the Association of the Christian Faithful, however, did not allow sufficient control over the implementation of the directives at St. Charles and thus the association had no real means of insisting upon adherence to the ERDs. Consequently, the ERDs were viewed as “guidelines” or “suggestions” and compliance with them was understood by the board as both voluntary and optional.
In 2007 the diocese was presented with a report on the level of compliance with the ERDs and that report indicated that there were a couple of areas of grave concern. While the commitment to adhering to Catholic principles was clearly present the same could not be said about adherence to or avoidance of certain immoral medical practices.
I have noted elsewhere that while adherence to the principles in a general way is commendable, that alone does not identify an Institution as Catholic. [We cannot simply 'generally' be Catholic, whether as an individual or institution, but must fully embrace the totality of the Faith and all that we are called to within that paradigm.  Compromising on just a couple of issues is a betrayal of the entire Faith] There must also be an adherence to those practices which are also a part of what it means to be a Catholic institution. Sadly, after having functioned in a particular way for a large number of years the board did not see how it could now align the medical practices of the hospital with the ERDs to a degree that would justify an ongoing sponsorship relationship between the Diocese of Baker and St. Charles.
As bishop, I am responsible for attesting to the full Catholicity of the hospitals in my diocese, a responsibility I take very seriously, [The Bishop is the Shepard of the Diocese.  As such, he has an immense responsibility to guide and protect the flock, as Bishop Vasa has done so here...] and I have reached the conclusion that I can no longer attest to the Catholicity of St. Charles. The board is responsible for the operation of the medical center and for its compliance with the ethical guidelines it deems suitable for St. Charles. The question the board faced was whether it could alter its present practices to the degree required for continued identification as “Catholic.” It was the board’s determination that it could not meet that standard. [Take Note: It was the hospital that rejected its Catholic status.  The Bishop simply applied the standard.]
I see before me two distressing options. I must either condone all that is being done at St. Charles and its affiliates by continuing a sponsorship relationship or I must recognize that those practices are absolutely contrary to the ERDs and distance myself from them. It would be misleading to the faithful for me to allow St. Charles to be acknowledged as Catholic in name while, at the same time, being morally certain that some significant tenets of the ERDs are no longer being observed there.
This is not a condemnation of St. Charles. It is a sadly acknowledged reality.
I believe the board has acted in good faith over the years because of its understanding that the ERDs were voluntary. The diocese has always presumed full compliance with a proper interpretation of the ERDs until the revelations of the 2007 report.
St. Charles has gradually moved away from adherence to the requirements of the Church without recognizing a major possible consequence of doing so. That consequence is a loss of Catholic sponsorship. Since I see no possibility of St. Charles returning to full compliance with the ERDs and since such full compliance with the ERDs is essential to “Catholic Status,” St. Charles will now be considered solely as a community nonprofit organization, not a Catholic one.
In practical terms there should be very little change in how St. Charles presently functions. One major shift will be the absence of the Blessed Sacrament at the hospital. The chapel will no longer be a Catholic chapel and Mass will no longer be celebrated there. In our secular culture most do not recognize the extreme grace of our Lord’s Real Presence but I suspect his absence from the chapel will be deeply felt.

 Bishop Vasa is a man of courage.  As the Shepard of his diocese, he is protecting his flock by not letting the Catholic faith be watered down or turned into something it is not.  This is all about souls.  The recognition of a hospital (or doctor or anyone) as Catholic who is publicly doing things contrary to the faith is a great scandal and will lead souls away from the Faith and away from God.  It is important that we continue to pray for Bishop Vasa, and other priests, bishops, and lay who are standing up for the Faith in its totality.  We must also continue to pray for the conversion of those individuals and institutions who use the name Catholic, yet stray from the teachings of the Church.  As Bishop Vasa said, many do this in good faith, yet it is imperiling their own souls and the souls of many of the faithful.  So this Lent, say an extra prayer for the conversion of those who have drifted away from the One True Faith.

In Christ,


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adult Stem Cells: Exciting News From Georgia

There is some great news of a new clinical trial in the works down in Georgia, where researchers will investigate the efficacy of adult stem cells in the treatment of cerebral palsy.  This is important work and needs to be publicized, particularly because the main stream media continues to ignore advances like these or simply refers to them enigmatically as 'stem cells' without ever emphasizing that these are adult stem cells rather than embryonic.  These actions in regards to publicity are all ways that the powers that be continue to try and push forward the unethical failures that are embryonic stem cells rather than focus on something that works: Adult stem cells.  So read the article and keep spreading the word that there is great hope for treatments using adult stem cells.

AUGUSTA, Ga., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they are starting a clinical trial to determine whether stem cells from umbilical cord blood can help children with cerebral palsy.
Medical College of Georgia researchers said their study represents the first such U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trial. The study will include 40 children age 2-12 whose parents have stored cord blood at the Cord Blood Registry in Tucson, Ariz.
The principal investigator of the trial, Dr. James Carroll, a professor at the college's school of medicine, said umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can divide and morph into different types of cells throughout the body. Cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury or lack of oxygen in the brain.
Animal studies indicate that infused stem cells help injured brain cells recover and replace brain cells that have died, Carroll said.
While no controlled clinical trials have been conducted to date, Carroll said previous studies have shown marked improvement in children with cerebral palsy about three months after an initial infusion of cord blood.
"Evidence up to this point has been purely anecdotal," he said. "While a variety of cord blood stem cell therapies have been used successfully for more than 20 years, this study is breaking new ground in advancing therapies for brain injury -- a condition for which there is currently no cure."

H/T Mary Meets Dolly

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fulfilling Our Vocation In Suffering

On the feast of Our Lady Of Lourdes, Pope Benedict gave a message commemorating the World Day of the Sick.  This message is, as expected from our Holy Father, filled with insight and guidance, particularly for physicians (and medical students) who face suffering every day.  Here are some selections:

Speaking of the Virgin Mary:
…she trusted in God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2: 35), she did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her "yes" of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the "yes" which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, Redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one's turn "fiat" to the will of God, with all one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth….

….One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary….

…Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that "the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed"? (John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, n. 26)….

Pope Benedict then focuses on the Eucharist:
…the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of his Only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the Face of its Lord….
….It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man's aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering….
….Mysteriously united to Christ, the one who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world…..
….Thus, pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and happiness of his Resurrection…. ….chapels in our health-care centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of infirmity….

And once again, returning to Mary:
May she help everyone in testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who by rising defeated death and gave us life that knows no end.

As Catholics, we have a unique perspective on the role of suffering in the world.  As time marches on, our society more strongly rejects the idea of pain and suffering, and fails to see the ways in which it can allow an individual to grow.  We have an opportunity, as physicians, to work closely with the suffering individual to see the value in their suffering.  When a doctor enters into the relationship with the patient, they must see the person who is to be loved. For not only did Christ command that his disciples go forth and heal, or that they see Him in the poorest of their brethren, but too that they should “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39) When the doctor sees the patient as a human person and chooses to love that person as himself, the doctor then can become Christ to that person. There is a very special interpersonal relationship between the doctor and the patient. This relationship is “‘a meeting between trust and conscious.’ The “trust” of one who is ill and suffering and hence in need, who entrusts himself to the “conscience” of another who can help him in his need and who comes to his assistance to care for him and cure him.” (The Charter for Health Care Workers, 2.) Just as those who were sick and suffering “came to hear [Jesus] and to be healed of their diseases,”(Lk 6:18. ) so too does the patient come to the doctor with faith in his ability to heal. This healing can occur on many levels since man is composed of more than just a physical body. Truly, it is proper that the doctor should seek to heal not only the body, but also the soul and the mind, just as Christ did. The most profound way the doctor can accomplish the treating of the person is by helping the patient to recognize his vocation as a patient. This vocation is that which was discussed earlier concerning the uniting of the suffering of the patient with the Cross of Christ. In this interpersonal relationship, the doctor is Christ to the patient, healing and serving in the most loving ways those who are broken and outcast and helping them to “take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24.) On the patient’s side of this relationship, he becomes Christ for the doctor by both giving the doctor an opportunity to serve him in his suffering and by his offering up of his suffering in union with the suffering of Christ and being a witness of love for all of mankind. When this profound relationship is realized between the doctor and the patient, medicine is no longer restricted to a treatment of the disease but becomes also an intervention on the human body that “touches not only the tissues, the organs, and their functions, but involves also at various levels the person himself.” (The Charter for Health Care Workers, 40.)

Let us, this Lent, turn to our most holy mother Mary, and ask that she help us to imitate her fiat.  With her help, we can truly serve those that the Lord puts into our paths.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Medicine That Makes You Sick

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Conkling at a past CMA meeting.   It is important, as medical professionals, to be practicing with all of the evidence.  The following article is a must read so that we can know better what the impact hormonal contraceptives are having on our patients.  As Dr. Conkling writes at the end of his article, we must remember most important part of being a doctor "First, do no harm."

Due to the importance of this topic, I have re-posted Dr. Conkling's article in full.


 Robert F. Conkling | Friday, 15 January 2010

Medicine that makes you sick

When will the medical establishment acknowledge the health risks associated with chemical contraceptives?

Recently three major health stories appeared in the Washington press in less than two weeks that were an occasion to pause and reflect.
First, the Potomac Conservancy made headlines about the contamination of rivers and drinking water in major metropolitan areas, including Washington DC. Contaminants include not only bacteria, industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides but also potentially endocrine-active pharmaceuticals, such anti-depressants, contraceptive sex hormones, antibiotics and personal care products.
Next came the report of US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent body which studies mortality from common diseases, issuing new guidelines for mammographic screening for early detection of breast cancer. Breast Cancer remains the second highest cause of mortality of American women since it began to rise in the 1970s.
Finally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the annual statistics for sexually transmitted diseases. In 2008 there was a record number of new cases of Chlamydia -- a whopping 1.2 million new cases, a rise in the number of new cases of syphilis and an all-time record of 19 million total cases of all forms of STDs.
To connect the dots between these stories one has to ask: Could steroid–based sex hormone contraceptives be a common thread?
Hard to believe until you consider the evidence.
A pill is born
The first sex hormone-containing pill, a synthetic steroid called Norethindrone, was developed by organic chemist Carl Djerassi in Syntex Laboratories in Mexico City. Djerassi was developing a synthetic progestin for menstrual irregularities. His product turned out to be a powerful inhibitor of ovulation, but he had not anticipated that the estrogen-with-progestin combination oral birth control pill (COCP) would have other effects upon women. Only after many years was this combination suspected as the culprit in many unexpected side-effects, including blood clots, diabetes, depression or anxious emotional states experienced by women.
That some of these side-effects can be serious is confirmed by a new report of conclusive evidence for significant loss of bone mineral density when a woman uses Depo-Provera (a long acting injectable form of progestin-only contraceptive) for more than two years.
In 2005 the International Agency for Research on Cancer Research (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, estimated that worldwide more than 100 million women were using some form of COCP. In developed countries, the current usage was estimated at 16 percent, while the “ever used” rate was as high as 80 percent. While there appeared to be extreme variability between countries, the evaluation found that most contraceptives were used by women of younger age and with higher educational achievement.
After an earlier evaluation the IARC had classified oral contraceptives as a Group 1 carcinogen: “There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of combined oral estrogen-progestogen contraceptives,” it said in 1999. The weight of evidence indicated an increased risk of breast cancer which was greater for women who were under age 35 at the time of diagnosis and who had begun using contraceptives before their 20th birthday. This was reaffirmed by the 2005 review.
In 2006 the Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a meta-analysis of 23 studies done in several countries about breast cancer risk and usage of oral contraceptives. Dr Chris Kahlenborn, one of the principal authors, stated that “if a woman takes combined oral contraceptive pills before her first full term pregnancy, she risks a 44 percent increased chance of developing pre-menopause breast cancer when compared to women who have never taken an OCP”. Kahlenborn also found that “if a woman takes OCPs for 4 years or more prior to her first full term pregnancy, she suffers a 52 percent increased risk”.
Kahlenborn also uncovered that the commonly used contraceptive Depo-Provera was reported by the WHO and a New Zealand study to be associated with a statistically significant 190 percent increased risk of breast cancer when Depo-Provera was taken by a woman for more than 3 years prior to the age of 25 years.
Drinking water contamination
In 2002 the US Geological Survey found one or more pharmaceuticals in 80 percent of the streams it had tested. In 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported that sewage contains traces of medications like antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth-control hormones, Viagra, Valium and heart drugs. Shane Snyder, lead toxicologist at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said: “there is no place on Earth exempted from having pharmaceuticals and steroids in its wastewater. This is clearly an issue that is global, and we are going to see more and more of these chemicals in the environment, no doubt about it.”
The Potomac Conservancy found similar drinking water conditions in Washington DC. Mirroring other regions of the country where biologists have found frogs contaminated with Prozac, insects on anti-seizure drugs and algae killed by antibiotics, the waterways draining the Shenandoah Mountains and tributaries flowing into the Potomac River have witnessed fish kills since 2002. The unexpected observation was that most of the dead male fish had inter-sex characteristics and that there was a disproportionate number of female fish. Further examination by the US Geological Survey of the Potomac tributaries revealed that 80 percent of the male fish had the inter-sex condition.
While the concentrations of some of the pharmaceuticals found in drinking water sources, including estrogens and fertility drugs, are in the parts per trillion, comparable to putting a few drops in an Olympic-sized pool, the effects this may have on humans remains unknown. What is known is that on the level of endocrine systems, fish and humans function in very similar ways. What happens to fish may be signaling future disorders for humans.
Contraceptives: a form of endocrine disrupting chemicals
In 2009 the world’s leading professional association for endocrinologists, the Endocrine Society, issued a strong statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The evidence suggests that exposure to multiple endocrine disrupting chemicals at developmental stages has the potential to affect any hormone-sensitive body system, including the breast and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian system in women, and the testes and prostate gland in men. The Endocrine Society appealed to the precautionary principle stating: “This principle is key to enhancing endocrine and reproductive health, and should be consulted to inform decisions about exposure to and risk from any potential endocrine disruptor.” And: “The public may be placed at risk because critical information about potential health effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals to which Americans are exposed is being overlooked in the development of federal guidelines and regulations.”
The pill’s link to STDs
Are there any strong associations between use of steroid-based OCPs and sexually transmitted diseases? The CDC’s answer is yes. A review of 83 studies published in the Journal Contraception in 2006 found that combined oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera use generally had a positive association with cervical chlamydial infection. Chlamydia infection and other inflammatory STDs such as Syphilis or genital Herpes are reported by the CDC to increase the risk of transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. Chlamydia is well known as the leading preventable infection that can cause a severe condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which, if not treated, can result in female infertility.
The recent STD report for 2008 from the CDC states that adolescent girls between the ages of 15-19 account for 27 per cent of the total new cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. While acknowledging that adolescent boys have a similar prevalence of STDs, the CDC insisted that because of “biological differences” young women have a greater potential to suffer consequences to their health than young males.
Depressing sex
Yet, what was most surprising to Dr Meg Meeker, pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, was her observation that many of her adolescent girl patients who had begun to engage in sexual encounters were showing signs of clinical depression. In her book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (2007), she says: “Kids get depressed when they experience a loss for which they cannot express a healthy emotion. This is very common with sexual activity. When a girl has sex, she loses her virginity and very often loses her self-respect with it”.
That clinical observation of one pediatrician is supported by findings of researchers interested in any association between teenage sexual experimentation, drug use and depression. Denise Hallfors and colleagues found that for girls even modest involvement in sexual experimentation or substance use elevated depression risk. In contrast, boys exhibited little added risk of depression with sexual experimental behavior, although binge drinking and frequent use of marijuana contribute substantial risk.
Thanatos syndrome revisited
In Walker Percy’s 1987 novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, Dr Tom More returns to his home town and family to restart what remains of his practice of psychiatry after serving a felony conviction for selling prescriptions for narcotics. After a few weeks of re-establishing contact with some of his former patients, he notices a profound change in his patients, with unusual mood changes, increased ability to recall the location of obscure names of places and the ability to make complex numeric calculations. In addition his patients all seem to have become hyper-eroticized, exhibiting outlandish sexual advances that persons with intact higher-order self-control would recognize as outside the range of socially acceptable behavior.
He postulates something has changed his patients. With the help of an epidemiologist, More learns that toxic, radioactive sodium has been released from a nearby nuclear power plant and that the water with the heavy sodium is being deliberately channeled through an unauthorized and hidden pipe into the drinking water supply. Behind this scheme are some of More’s medical colleagues, who discovered, that dosing the water supply with low concentrations of heavy sodium had the effect of suppressing the cognitive functioning of antisocial types like alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes or those confined to the local jail. The docs feel justified in what they are doing. They want Dr Tom to join them when they discover he knows what they are up to. Dr Tom knows better.
It appears that for the last 50 years, something similar has been happening to America. The contraceptive pill was sold as the scientific panacea for ultimate sexual liberation. Its real-time effect has been a form of “lobotomy” of reason and good judgement, both of users and prescribers. It is time the medical establishment recognized its complicity and returned to that simple principle for which it gained the enviable respect and autonomy of action it merited as the premier profession that advocated for the unprotected and unknowing: “Above all, do no harm.”

Robert F. Conkling MD practices family medicine in Virginia and is co-founder of FertilityCare of the Capitol Region.

This article by Robert Conkling was originally published on under a Creative Commons Licence. If you enjoyed this article, visit for more.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Focus on the Family Played NOW and PP like a Fiddle

Focus on the Family played the pro-aborts like a fiddle.  There have been many objections that the Tebow ad was too low key, but considering how much free, pre-game publicity Focus on the Family garnered, the message got across.  Of course, this would not have been the case had Planned Parenthood and NOW made such a stink about the ad (which they had not seen), and now, they come out with egg ALL OVER THEIR FACE!  This whole episode is more proof of the radical anti-family and pro-abortion agenda that these groups promote.  There is no such thing as 'pro-choice'.  This was more the demonstrated by the reaction of the pro-aborts to this ad.  If they were truly 'pro-choice' they would have lauded this story as one of a woman making a heroic choice to keep her baby, despite difficult circumstances.  Rather, they recognize that if women choose to have a their baby, then the abortion industry will go bankrupt.  It is ALL ABOUT MONEY. 

We can must continue to pray that the truth of the abortion industry continues to be exposed and hearts are converted.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Check out Pundit and Pundette

Pundit and Pundette were kind enough to link over to this blog, so please take a moment and check them out!

Persistent Vegetative State Not So Vegetative?

In a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have found that a group of individuals who were considered to be in a vegetative state were possibly conscious the whole time.  More from the Washington Post:
Many of the patients were labeled with the same grim diagnosis: "vegetative state." Their head injuries, teams of specialists had concluded, condemned them to a netherworld -- alive yet utterly devoid of any awareness of the world around them.
But an international team of scientists decided to try a bold experiment using the latest technology to peek inside the minds of 54 patients to see whether, in fact, they were conscious.
One by one, the men and women were placed inside advanced brain scanners as technicians gave them careful instructions: Imagine you are playing tennis. Imagine you are exploring your home, room by room. For most, the scanner showed nothing.
But, shockingly, for one, then another, and another, and yet two more, the scans flashed exactly like any healthy conscious person's would. These patients, the images clearly indicated, were living silently in their bodies, their minds apparently active. One man could even flawlessly answer detailed yes-or-no questions about his life before his trauma by activating different parts of his brain.
So the basic set up allows the researchers to monitor brain activity  using fMRI.  The premise of the persistent vegetative state is that these individuals should not be responding consciously to stimuli, such as asking them to imagine a certain scene or answer a yes or no question.  Here is the reaction of the lead researcher:

"It was incredible," said Adrian M. Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council who led the groundbreaking research described in a paper published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. "These are patients who are totally unable to perform functions with their bodies -- even blink an eye or move an eyebrow -- but yet are entirely conscious. It's quite distressing, really, to realize this."
 Of course it is 'quite distressing'!  For several years now, medicine and society have been sliding down the slippery slope of euthanasia.  Do we truly know enough about the brain and consciousness to accurately and morally judge an individual as being in a persistent vegetative state or brain dead?  I believe this research, even if it was only 5 individuals among a larger cohort, indicate that our ability to declare someone as being in a PVS or brain dead is lacking in many ways.  As a physician, based upon this study, would you be willing to say that an individual who is in persistent vegetative state should have all life support removed?  Or what about the young man on the table whose organs are coveted by half a dozen other families?  In this study, the individuals who responded were all victims of a traumatic brain injury, which is where many of the organ donations come from.  So, we must ask ourselves very carefully, how do we approach the individual who is termed brain dead? Or in a persistent vegetative state?  Do we have the right to remove them from life sustaining care?  As for the 'brain dead' individual, we know that by Church teaching we are able to remove extraordinary measures such as a ventilator, but can we justify the cutting out of a beating heart?  How do we know that they are truly brain dead?  Or the individual in the PVS.  We cannot abdicate our duty to protect their dignity and right to life, especially now as we see there is the possibility that the individual is very much awake within their bodies.  We must stop medicine from asking this question:
"If a patient wanted to die, if they were asked, 'Do you want to die?,' could they explain themselves adequately?" said Joseph J. Fins, chief of the division of medical ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College. "If they say yes, what does that mean? If this person said yes but meant maybe, or it was 'sort of yes,' we may not be able to understand that sort of nuance. You have to be very careful."

UPDATE: Further commentary from Pundit and Pundette and do not miss the commentary from Wesley J. Smith.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Redefining 'Pregnancy' to Justify Abortifacients

There is a new story out about a new 'medication' that is available outside of the United States.  This new medication, called ellaOne, is considered emergency contraception, and works up to five days after administration (as opposed to Plan B that works approx 72hrs).  This medication was originally designed to treat uterine fibroids by selectively inhibiting progesterone receptors, which decreased the size of the fibroids and also decreased the bleeding.  So, what is the big controversy?

By selectively inhibiting the progesterone receptors, this medication is making implantation impossible, and thus causing the embryo to be aborted.  Here is part of the story from ABC:
While it is not yet available in the United States, the new pill may one day offer American women yet another option for preventing pregnancy. But critics of the drug say that it is not so much emergency contraception as emergency abortion.
"This is a thinly-veiled attempt to get an abortion drug over-the-counter," said Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Because fertilization of egg and sperm can only be prevented within 24 hours of intercourse if the woman has just ovulated, Harrison says, any emergency contraceptive that is effective five days after sex most likely works by preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. And if one believes pregnancy begins with fertilization, that action would be considered abortion.
"To label this as emergency contraception when it's clearly an abortive action is dishonest," said Harrison.
Note that Dr. Harrison is part of AAPLOG (a group any pro-life physician should be familiar with).  She effectively points out that physiologically speaking, this is working as an abortifacient! But look how the opposition responds:
But according to Dr. Lauren Streicher, clinical instructor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern Medical School, thinking that emergency contraception is equivalent to an abortion "is a big misconception."
It takes five to seven days for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus and begin to grow, she says. She argues that if one interrupts the process before this implantation takes place, pregnancy never begins.
"There are many people who are reluctant to take emergency contraception because they think it's abortive, but it's apples and oranges," she said. "With emergency contraception, it's really to stop a pregnancy of occurring."
Dr. Streicher admits that this prevents implantation, but does not necessarily prevent conception.  So here we have it, the redefining of pregnancy. A current medical definition of pregnancy is:
pregnancy preg·nan·cy (prěg'nən-sē)
  1. The condition of a woman or female mammal from conception until birth; the condition of being pregnant.
  2. The period during which a woman or female mammal is pregnant. Also called cyesis.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
"From conception until birth".   NOT implantation.  But, pro-abortion and pro-contraception individuals cannot live with this definition because it does not suit their views on the relationship of abortion and contraception.  Any thing that prevents implantation is causing an abortion.  Period.

We must not let ourselves be caught up in the whims of our peers as they attempt to justify their pro-death actions by simply changing definitions or ignoring medical fact.  These incremental steps are leading us down a path that will be the end of medicine and our society.