Category Archives: health care

People understand “cancer”

(John drafted this but never finished it.  His lifelong struggle was getting people to understand that his condition was as terminal as cancer.  It was very hard for me, as his wife, to see that people did not understand this, how delicate his precious earthly life was and every time they beheld my darling husband, they were beholding a wondrous miracle of God.  Humankind cannot bear very much reality.)

They understand “heart disease.”
They understand “diabetes.”
At least as well as they “understand” anything about someone else’s sufferings.
I’ll never “get better.”  I’ll never “recover.”  I have good times and I have bad times, but my “good times” usually lead directly into my “bad times” because my body can’t take it.
I have  a dissected aorta.  If such things can be quantified, articles on pain often mention aortic dissection as the worst possible pain a person can have (though it can also be asymptomatic).
I have 2 aortic grafts, including an artificial valve.
I have a 4.9 cm aneurysm in my gut that will, if it doesn’t burst first, have to be operated on once it hits 6 cm.  Right now, my left kidney and left leg are getting their blood supply. from scar tissue.  The most likely best outcome of my next surgery will be that I lose just one leg or kidney.
In fall 2008, I spent 2 months coughing and taking antibiotics for “pneumonia” and was told I had a nodule on my left lung that looked like a possible tumor, too small to biopsy or operate on yet.  After my dissection in 2011, I found out it wasn’t a nodule or a tumor–it was scar tissue from a lung collapse that wasn’t properly treated–the two months of “pneumonia.”  I spent two months thinking I had some horrible contagious disease and then 2 years after that thinking I had early stage lung cancer (attributed to my frequent CT radiation) because an urgicare doctor didn’t know that hearing no air in my lung (his words) meant it was collapsed and not pneumonia.
My natural lenses sit at the bottoms of my eyes, attached by a few zonules.  If those ever tear completely, my lenses will pose a risk to my retina and have to be removed.  As it is, if I turn or move my head too quickly, or lay flat, my lenses float up, disrupt my vision, disrupt the pressure in my eyes, and give me a headache.
I have, for simplicity’s sake, a brain aneurysm.  It’s in a vein, so they say it’s nonoperable and won’t burst.  But it’s right in one of my motor cortexes, and when it acts up it causes everything from slurred speech and forgetting how to sign my name to migraine to loss of motor control.
I have a tortuous carotid artery.
I *used* to have mitral valve prolapse, but that has apparently been healed by the Lord.
I have a paralyzed vocal cord, the cost of my last aortic graft surgery, which not only limits my speech but my swallowing and breathing.
I have gastroparesis, and eating too much or eating the wrong foods causes unbearable cramping, nausea and occasionally vomiting.
That’s not getting into my chronic joint problems and the side effects of my medicines.

What magical “rights” do married couples have, anyway?

Today, Sam Brownback signed an executive order giving a broad-ranging exemption to religious-affiliated organizations that refuse to recognize same sex “marriage.”  Of course, as they do with trying to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortion and contraception “services,” liberals began to insist this is going to deprive people of healthcare.   What if, for example, a gay man was admitted to the only hospital in town, which was Catholic, and his “spouse” came in and wanted to speak as his representative?

Guess what?  Heterosexual couples don’t get stamped, “Spouse”!  We don’t get ID’s that say, “X, Wife of Y.”  Once when I was in the hospital, a nurse was talking about giving me a bath, and suggested my wife could do it, and said, “Wait, you *are* his wife, right?”

When it comes to making major decisions, especially post-HIPAA, that’s what Advanced Directives are for.  Coincidentally, a friend was recently saying on Facebook how, when she designated her medical representative, she was advised to *not* have a spouse or immediate family member, if possible, but a close friend who understood her wishes.  I wouldn’t change my wife as my top decision maker, but when I was at my worst, she was pretty broken up. Thankfully, my desire, as any person’s should be, is to avoid intentional killing of myself, but even so, it speaks to the use of such an extreme, emotive situation as an example, the way liberals like to do, I can provide plenty of extreme, emotive situations to the contrary.

I have a paralyzed vocal cord.  It’s tough to conduct business on the phone.  My wife and I have always tried to conduct business on each other’s behalf, yet it’s always, “I can’t speak to you, even though you’re her husband.  State credit law says I have to speak to her.”   “I can’t speak to you even though you’re his wife because of HIPAA.”

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What mysterious “benefits” do married couples get, anyway?

What’s your price?

We’ve all heard the story, attributed to various writers, of the British humorist sitting next to the beautiful woman at the banquet and asking, “Would you sleep with me for 1 million pounds?” “Of course!” “Would you sleep with me for 10 pounds?” “What kind of woman do you think I am?” “We’ve established that; now we’re just haggling over price.”
Chesterton said that men do not differ so much over what they consider evil as what evils they consider acceptable.
It is the easy compromise that keeps the culture of death going. Every one of us who refuses to compromise gets labelled an “extremist” precisely because of the easy way people sell out.
Every time the Republicans gain ground in national office, pro-life and pro-family issues are a major reason for the voters, but the Republicans never follow through because they claim they won’t be reelected. “Next time,” they tell us.
In the 1970s, the National Right to Life Committee developed a “long term strategy” for overturning _Roe v. Wade_. The first law passed was the Hyde Amendment, banning federal funding of abortion. 40 years later, “progress” is the Republican House passing a new ban on such funding.
Meanwhile, does anybody even talk about embryonic stem cell research anymore? George W. Bush’s “if the babies are already dead, might as well put the remains to good use” reasoning has crept not only into the NRLC’s positions but into the Catholic commentariat. And that’s the same position we hear on vaccines derived from fetal tissue.
In 2005, the Pontifical Academy for Life (pro Vita, or PAV) issued a statement supporting conscientious objection to vaccines derived from from fetal tissue research. There were already position papers from several organizations, most notably the so-called “National Catholic Bioethics Center,” saying such vaccines were acceptable. For most people, this isn’t even an issue. The sheer fact that the Vatican bothered to issue a statement should lean any ambiguities in favor of conscientious objection. Many have tried to twist the document to say it opposes conscientious objection. If so-called “anti-vaxxers” are a minority of extremists, why would the Vatican, which so often fails to address prevalent problems of theological discipline, bother to tell “anti-vaxxers” to comply?
Yes, the document explains the parameters of remote material cooperation (more on that later). Yes, the document explains there are conditions which mitigate culpability for such cooperation. Yes, if somebody feels compelled to vaccinate, the document says they should voice their objections, but that is supposed to be the exception, not the rule.
In 2008, a lot of people said, “I’m pro-life, and I voted for Obama because I figure that, if he knows pro-life people voted for him, maybe he’ll change his views.” Yep, that’s how politics works.
If nobody stands up and says, “I won’t support this,” what is to motivate those in power to change?
There are very few vaccines for which the only form is derived from fetal tissue research, and all of those are diseases that have other means of treatment or prevention and/or are rarely life threatening. The most life threatening diseases (e.g., polio) have alternatives that exist, but they’re increasingly unavailable. When our eldest was a baby, there were separated forms of measles and mumps vaccine available, but they were hard to get, and you had to find a doctor willing to order them. The ethical rubella vaccine is not available in the US because of “FDA” regulation, even though it’s proven effective in other countries.
If there were more people standing up and saying, “We want ethical alternatives and will not vaccinate until you provide them,” things would change pretty quickly, but as it is, a) most people just vaccinate, with or without “stating their objections”; and b) the rest just become out right “anti-vaxxers,” objecting to all vaccinations and tying in other issues to fetal tissue. So thus of us who merely object to specific vaccinations on specific ethical grounds are left without support. It is so disheartening to have to file for a “religious exemption” at Catholic institutions when we’re Catholic, and explain to Catholic school and parish officials why we object. It is disheartening to find that most state regulations and doctors’ offices take an all-or-nothing approach, so we can’t get the ethical vaccines, either.

The original NCBC position paper from the 1990s had two related points that really irk me.
1) They, and most subsequent “the good of the vaccines outweighs the evil” ends-justify-the-means arguments, hold that parents have a “moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children.” To a certain extent, this is true. However, this moral obligation gets transmuted into saying it’s mortally sinful to get someone sick. This is also applied in the question of whether you should go to Mass when you’re sick, and other situations. Now, if such moral obligations and sinful circumstances exist, and I have a 50% chance of passing on Marfan syndrome, which will be far more likely to be fatal than any virus, to my children, I think one can see why I take some offense to this, especially when so many people who *do* have Marfan syndrome insist on contraception, IVF and/or abortion for that reason.
2) The original NCBC document grants that conscientious objection constitutes heroic virtue (and I think most of us on that side would agree), but argues that parents do not have the right to make decisions of heroic virtue for their kids. The problem with this (and the previous premise) is, what about Catholic parents in Muslim and Communist countries? Should they not baptize their children for fear of putting their children’s lives at risk and making decisions of heroic virtue?

If you’ve decided that vaccination was the right choice for you and your family, and you feel no pang of conscience about it, then why be so hard on “anti-vaxxers”? Aren’t you and your kids safe?

If we, as Catholics, mistrust the medical establishment on contraception and other issues, why is the rhetoric on vaccines to do as you’re told by Big Pharma?

If measles is making a comeback, why won’t Merck provide the ethical, separate measles vaccine it discontinued in favor of MMR? Why is Merck so adamant about forcing people to violate our consciences?

What is truly a “slap in the face”?

We’ve all heard by now of the suicide of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old brain cancer victim who decided to become the poster woman for so called “death with dignity,” and then got mad when people criticized her “personal choice.”  The Pontifical Academy for Life issued a statement condemning assisted suicide, and calling her death “reprehensible.”  Maynard’s mother has now posted an article on some site called “Compassion and Choices“, saying that PAV statement is “immoral” and “a slap in the face.”  The Culture of Death is now calling it “the Pope’s sin.”  I submitted the following to “Compassion and Choices.”  Re-posting here:

You posted an article by Brittany Maynard’s mother, claiming that the Pontifical Academy for Life’s statement on her daughter’s suicide is a “slap in the face” and “immoral.” No, Brittany Maynard’s suicide, and your entire “death without dignity” movement is immoral and a slap in the face to every one of us who deals with debilitating, life threatening illnesses. I have Marfan syndrome. I have suffered horrible pain every day of my life. I have dealt every day with the knowledge it could be my last. I have also dealt quite regularly with the temptation to “end my suffering” in this life–but a death with *true* dignity, the death of a Saint, is far more appealing to me. The risk of eternal suffering in Hell, and the knowledge that Jesus died undeservingly for my sins, and continues to suffer that infinite pain of the Passion for me, make it worth it to me to share His sufferings now for love of Him. Leon Bloy said the only tragedy is not to be a Saint.
What is reprehensible is the notion that people with terminal illnesses should be killed or pressured to kill ourselves because we are a “burden” to others. What is reprehensible is saying that it is dignified and courageous to die the death of a coward.
I pray that Brittany Maynard was not culpable for her decision, or that she repented in her last seconds, but what she did was neither moral nor compassionate, for herself or others.

Sincerely,
John C. Hathaway, OCDS

“He who seeks to keep his life will lose it; he who loses his life will save it.”: Vaccines versus viruses; prepping versus providence

If there’s one thing the Bible is clear about, it’s not putting our trust in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no help, not trusting in our own devices, etc., for God chooses the weak things of the world that no flesh may glory in His sight. The foolish man cannot know this, and the fool cannot understand.
From the time when Satan refused to trust God, then tempted Adam and Eve to “be like Gods who know,” to the Tower of Babel to Israel being punished over and over for not doing things Gods way, while those who were justified were justified by their absolute trust in God, even when His instructions were foolishness to human wisdom, the Bible tells us over and over that we should, as Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field,” for we know no the day nor the hour. Just when we are saying “peace and security,” the Lord will come like a thief in the night and say, “You fool! Don’t you know this very night your life will be demanded of you?”
I am always dismayed by Christians who insist that they should put their trust in worldly goods, rather than building up treasure in Heaven, be they investors, “preppers,” etc. Obviously, there is a common sense level of protecting ones health and family, and keeping an emergency reserve if possible, but some people seem way too concerned about storing up treasure on earth.
Then there’s the vaccine issue. Again, nothing wrong with protecting health, but doing so at the expense of other people’s lives should be avoided, and it is difficult to suppress the instinct to say, “I told you so,” when the efforts people cling to prove futile in the face of worse and worse viruses and bacteria strains. We hear about “herd immunity” (a term that’s offensive in itself), and see arguments about what that does or does not mean. We see arguments about old viruses returning supposedly because of unvaccinated families, though others arguing they’re spreading among the vaccinated and that they’ve gotten worse because of resistance. Now, there is apparently a virus spreading that mimics a cold or flu but is far worse and they barely even know what it is. . . .

On Melancholy: the Physiological aspects of depression and bi-polar

Last night, I posted a semi-defense of certain controversial comments made in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide and a general suggestion of how Matt Walsh, Rush Limbaugh, Bryan Kemper and others might have done better.

Part of Matt Walsh’s appeal is that, like the early Limbaugh, he uses sensationalistic packaging to get people’s attention to pieces that are usually very thoughtful. In this case, which backfires horribly because his piece isn’t as thoughtful as he thinks, he emphasized the notion that “Robin Williams didn’t die of a disease; he died of a choice.” At one point, he says, “First, suicide does not claim anyone against their will.”

He anticipates this response a few paragraphs above, but that is precisely the problem. Mental health issues, addiction, etc., reduce or remove culpability. Now, the mentally ill person may remain culpable for what is done while sane, but the question–which none of us can answer in this life–is whether the person who commits suicide truly has control of his or her will.

People like causes. They like to have someone or something to blame, especially if it isn’t themselves. “He was depressed because his career was in the tank” is an easy target versus “He was depressed because he had a genetic condition that made it difficult to control his emotions.” That gets into a mess of problems about free will versus determinism. Then there’s the controversial, “He was post-abortive,” which I want to discuss in a separate post, but while guilt, financial troubles, or frightening medical diagnoses may contribute to mental health issues, we cannot deny that there are physiological components. Matt Walsh is right that there are spiritual components, but wrong to dismiss “chemical imbalances” as modernist mumbo jumbo. Physiological understandings of depressive disorders are nothing new at all.

It is precisely “He was depressed because of XYZ” that is “modernist mumbo jumbo,” originating with Freud’s era.  Back in the old days, instead of “chemical imbalances,” people talked about “humors.” Melancholy is usually associated with depression, though the “melancholic temperament” would be what we now call “bipolar” and possibly include even autism. The melancholic is concerned about the troubles of the world, prone to mood swings, etc. Literature’s most notorious melancholic is perhaps Prince Hamlet from Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Three major movies made of the play within a decade demonstrate different psychological interpretations of the character:

The Zeffirelli/Gibson film (1990) depicts Hamlet as bipolar, mostly manic or “rapid cycling.”  
The Branagh/Branagh (1996) version depicts Hamlet as almost sociopathic (choleric), with the melancholy a complete facade.
The Almereyda/Hawke (2000) version depicts Hamlet as straight-up clinically depressed.  

Either way, all effective writers are natural psychologists and write their characters so well that they can be readily diagnosed (always baffles me that people insist you can’t “diagnose” fictional characters because a particular health problem or mental health issue wasn’t named: people still had problems).  Shakespeare drew from the psychology of his day and also left the character open to interpretation because he was aware of the debates that existed even then.

One of the concerns Walsh, and many others raise in critiquing a biological interpretation of mental health, is the spiritual component.  Fr. John Corapi would compare it to any physical disease: you might have a genetic predisposition to something. Then you add in the component of an actual physical trauma, poor nutrition, etc. Then bacteria come into the wound and infect it.

With mental health, you may have a genetic predisposition to bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, etc. You experience traumas that other experience but they hurt you more because of your predispositions. Things that might cause a brief situational depression for anybody are devastating (or, conversely, one thrives in a crisis). Then the demons, like bacteria in a wound, come along and whisper “You’re unworthy.” They infect the emotional wound and refuse to leave.  That certainly needs to be dealt with, and most treatment programs acknowledge it.  

“Madame has moments of melancholy,” says Max in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950).  Norma Desmond, also clearly bipolar (mania demonstrated by her literally insane, rambling “script” that she’s been working on for years), has made several attempts on her life, and Max has removed all the doorknobs in the house, as well as all knives and razors (“Madame got the razor from your room, and she cut her wrists!”)

If Robin Williams had shot himself, certain people would be calling for restricting the ability of mentally ill people to own guns. They cite statistics on gun deaths in America, more than half of which are suicides.  It is noteworthy that these same people objected to “politicization” of his death when some pro-lifers pointed to his status as a post-abortive father (post-abortion syndrome contributing to many suicides), or when Rush Limbaugh, ironically or inadvertently “politicized” his death by complaining about the media politicizing it.  Yet the same people would have readily “politicized” it if it had been a gun suicide.

That’s another easy cause, though, that  people look for.  They try to say, “It’s guns,” except when it’s not guns.  Nobody is talking about legal action to restrict ownership of ropes, or belts, or plastic bags, or knives or razors by mentally ill people.  The real issue there is why people must rely on the government for everything. 

A desperate person will find a means.

One last observation under this topic is the question of medication.  Some people will say, “See?  This proves meds don’t work!” or “This proves meds make things worse!”  One of the reasons it’s important to nail down the right diagnosis is that the wrong medicine really can be disastrous.  Someone with bipolar needs to be on bipolar meds, not necessarily anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, which can cause a horrible mania and, in turn, drastic behavior.  

Accurate diagnosis is so very important, as are accurate treatment methods.  

Why are our “rosaries” so threatening?

By now, you may have seen this picture of my friend and former co-worker Michael Hichborn, praying at the Supreme Court while awaiting Monday’s ruling in _Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius_.

Girl holding sign saying It’s apparently made CNN, Time and various other mainstream media outlets.

The woman things she’s being ironic, but the real irony is how she’s demonstrating the absurdity of her position and the slogan.

1.  It makes no sense.  *Maybe* it makes sense in the context of contraception, but not abortion, as abortion has to do with the uterus, not the ovaries.  You would think people so concerned about “women’s health” would have the basic facts.

2.  As far as how the slogan is relevant, we have nothing against ovaries.  Indeed, we want ovaries to work properly, not be poisoned with chemical contraceptives.

3. Most importantly, and as I noted, what threat do “our rosaries” pose?  As this troubled young lady demonstrates, what threat is Michael Hichborn posing her saying his Rosary there in front of  SCOTUS?  He’s not a speaker.  He’s not holding a sign.  He’s just kneeling and praying.  For all she knows, he’s praying *for* her “side” (he isn’t , but she doesn’t know that).  Either way, how does prayer hurt anybody?
a.  If one accepts that prayer us ultimately, “Thy will be done,” and they believe they are in accordance with God’s will, shouldn’t they welcome it?
b.  If they believe that prayer is ultimately meaningless words to a non-existent deity, then shouldn’t they be happy that people are “wasting time” praying rather than, again, “actively” protesting?
or
c.  Do they really know what they’re doing is wrong and fear God so much that they don’t want to be reminded of it?  Do they truly believe prayer is efficacious and fear having to actually change in conformity with God’s grace?

Drugs, the law, and morality

For some reason, it’s a headline that the Pope is against legalization of recreational drug use. At first thought, I tend to agree, but I am not sure it’s so simple in practice.
Much has been written on the subject lately, and I completely agree that it’s sinful to
a) use any otherwise acceptable activity excessively (Cardinal Virtue of Temperance/Aristotelian Mean)
B) intentionally impair one’s judgement so as to make moral decisions more difficult
C) cause direct harm to one’s body.

It’s very clear when some drugs do all three, but what about tobacco, alcohol and even caffeine? Those would be considered acceptable in moderation, but cause damage long-term.

All three of those standards could apply to food as a drug. Certainly, gluttony is a mortal sin, but should it be a crime?

What about self-medication? Various layers of mental health? Prescription drug use?

It’s a complicated matter when it comes to legalities, civil liberties, etc., and enforcing laws. In the name of making it harder to abuse prescription drugs, the FDA has made harder and more costly for those of us with actual health problems to get our meds. Then there’s the issue of drug testing for employment, etc., and people having to reveal medical problems to their employers.
That’s not getting into things like “no knock” raids that have made headlines recently, where SWAT teams invade homes of “suspected” drug dealers/addicts and burst in without warning to avoid “flushing.” Innocent bystanders and even innocent suspects get injured or killed, even if they have the wrong house altogether.
They’ll do the whole “witch hunt” thing and send innocent family members to prison for the “crime” of not knowing anything while the actual criminals make deals and name names. Then property involved in illegal drugs can be seized. Back in Virginia about ten years ago, there was a case where a man bought a house from a judge’s ex-wife shortly after their son was arrested for dealing marijuana. Somehow, the judge’s wife got to keep the money from the sale but the buyer lost the house to the state.
Then there’s the so-called “right to privacy” that selectively applies to birth control.

I don’t think drug use should be legal, but it shouldn’t be “illegal,” either. It should be treated as a medical and psychological matter.

Liberals say . . .

The Constitution means whatever they want except what it says.  Animals have rights, but people don’t. Babies aren’t babies unless you want them to be. Gender means whatever you want. Sex and marriage are about self-gratification and not procreation and child-bearing. Life is about pleasure and should be “terminated” if it isn’t pleasurable. Money can be created ex nihilo but the universe wasn’t. If you suggest it’s more important that kids learn in school about how their bodies actually work than about dinosaurs, evolution, and various forms of pleasure seeking, you’re “anti-science.” And they call us “wing-nuts”. . . .

Why believers make better doctors

In our pluralistic society, the notion of choosing a business or professional based upon faith is considered discriminatory. We hear a lot about businesses refusing to provide particular services based upon moral principles, but not about customers, unless it suits the Left’s agenda. “I will “I will gladly be your doctor but I will not prescribe contraceptives” becomes “He refused to give me health care!” On the other hand, a doctor pressuring a woman to *use* birth control is perfectly fine, and if she refuses to go to that doctor, she’s the one who’s considered extremist.

As I’ve written many times, and is one of the founding principles of this blog, it is very difficult to find doctors who support patients’ moral choices: not to profit from or participate in fetal tissue or embryonic stem cell research, not to use artificial birth control, etc. People who don’t include morality in their medical decisions–and those who do but take a very broad interpretation of “remote material cooperation”–seem to not understand why this is important to some of us patients. I’m sure many people would rightly object to eating at a restaurant with a sign saying “whites only.” They would understand why supporting a business owned by a KKK owner is objectionable. However, they don’t understand why we wouldn’t want to support a medical business that engages in practices we find morally repugnant: this is both because they think it’s wrong to *consider* those actions wrong and because they refuse to acknowledge that medicine is a “business.”

So that brings me to why, even if we’re not talking about moral issues, I find it’s important to generally choose, when possible, doctors who are people of faith. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re Catholics, or even Christians, but they have to believe in some sort of “higher power.” I believe it’s a saying, but I’ve often found that doctors who don’t believe in God think they are God.

If a doctor thinks that religion is stupid and irrational, what does he think about patients who are believers? If he doesn’t trust your discernment about spiritual and moral matters, will he trust your discernment about your own health and healthcare decisions?

If she doesn’t believe in God, when difficult moral issues do arise (e.g. end of life issues), will she be more willing to take the easy way out?

I’ve encountered many doctors over the years who have mocked me for praying, flat-out side, “There are no such things as miracles,” etc. A year after my 1996 aortic root replacement, some of the tissue around the stitches of my artificial valve started to leak. During my echo, the tech got really quiet. He got up and got the cardiologist, who redid the echo himself, very slowly. You know something was seriously wrong. He came in afterwards and gave us the report. He ordered me to bed rest for a year. A year later, they were worse. A year after that, I expected them to be even worse. This time, he came in with his jaw metaphorically on the floor, saying, “They healed!!” Ever since then, every doctor I’ve told that story to has had one of two reactions: 1. “Wow, a miracle!” or 2. “That doesn’t happen. He’s probably an idiot and misread the echoes.” Yeah, that’s why he did it personally, slowly, right away, to double-check the technician’s initial finding.

For a few years in Northern Virginia, I went to one of the highest-rated cardiologists in that region, and he said that prayer and “faith,” generically, is a huge part of his practice, that he finds patients who pray and meditate perform far better than those who don’t.

Nuns on the Pill: Habitless Nuns who Support Obamacare

“Sister” Donna Quinn, head of some group called National Coalition of American Nuns, is outraged that Notre Dame and other institutions are starting to act Catholic:
“It isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women”
What kind of demonic filth is this, coming from someone professed to perpetual continence?
What is “autonomy,” much less “reproductive autonomy”?
And the comments (from which mine, asking the questions, was apparently deleted) are so absolutely blasphemous (and devolve into the usual “Whether Jesus even existed” garbage you see on any secular liberal site) –suggesting that Jesus was the product of “In Vitro Fertilization,” etc.

St. Scholastica, pray for us.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us.

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Divine Power, cast into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

Is there a “Flash of Light” at Conception

Way back in 2011, and in various discussions over the years, in a post on _Roe v. Wade_ I referred to a lecture I heard ca. 2004 from Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac Clinic.  Dr. Bruchalski is a former abortionist and used to work at the “Fertility” Clinic that pioneered In Vitro Fertilization in the US.  Already a leading embryologist when he “reverted” to Catholic faith, Bruchalski became one of the top NFP-only physicians in the country, founding the aforementioned Clinic with the assistance of the Diocese of Arlington in 1994.  On a side note, we need more clinics like Tepeyac, not less, to provide real health care options for women, but if the enemies of Life in Washington get their way, we won’t have any.
The post has, over the years, received 3 separate comments, one approving, one supportive but skeptical (the individual claims to have emailed Dr. Bruchalski and been told it was not true), and a third just this past few days claiming that a Google search provided no verification of my claim.
Now, part of the problem may be the claim of some “New Age” people that there’s a “flash of light” in the “astral plane.”  This is not what I’m talking about.  Nor am I asserting that the “flash of light” is the creation of a soul, just the sign that “pregnancy has begun.”  One of the arguments for procedures like IVF, Embryonic Stem Cell Research and “Plan B contraceptives” is the euphemistic position that “abortion is the the termination of a ‘pregnancy,’ and ‘pregnancy’ begins with implantation.” This is easily morphed into “conception requires implantation,” which is of course defeated by the very fact of these procedures which involve the conception of a unique human being who may or may not be “implanted,” but may rather end up lingering in a state of “frozen animation.”
The importance of the “flash of light” is that it’s an electrical signal.  Dr. Bruchalski’s claim was that the electrical signal is neurological and tells the mother’s body “You’re pregnant,” because a signal is sent to the mother’s brain to begin the process of implantation.  This refutes the claim that “implantation” begins “pregnancy,” because “pregnancy” begins as soon as the embryo signals, “Hi, Mom, I’m here.  Prepare a place for me.”
Nevertheless, anyone who paid attention in elementary school chemistry should know that a “flash of light” is one of the signs of a chemical reaction, so it shouldn’t seaem too far-fetched for someone who “believes in science not God” to accept that there’s a “flash of light” at conception, which is fundamentally a series of complex chemical reactions.
Since the most recent commentor claimed there is no video showing this “flash of light,” I did a basic search and found a hit right off the bat which shows it:

Amazingly, for all the stuff that’s on YouTube, it’s very hard to find a an actual video of conception, even animal conception.  Most of the videos I found were CGI simulations.  Strangely, the ones that aren’t all seem to cut off right after the sperm penetrates the egg, but before the nuclei combine, and videos on “embryo” development begin when the “fertilized egg splits.”  I find it more interesting that there is no video showing the moment in between.
This non-faked video of a completely artificial fertilization (Lord, have mercy) where the sperm is injected directly into the egg shows various color changes before the sperm is even injected:

Further, since the skeptics were questioning the claim that it happens at all, and since people these days seem to care more about animal conceptions than human, here is an article about an NiH study regarding the chemical reactions that cause the “flash of light”:
<blockquote>The zinc discharge follows the egg cell’s steady accumulation of zinc atoms in the developmental stages before fertilization. The researchers documented the discharge by bathing the eggs in a solution that gives off light when exposed to zinc. They referred to the zinc discharge and accompanying light flash as zinc sparks.</blockquote>
Another side note: your great grandchildren’s tax dollars at work, “discovering” something in 2011 that was already known about.
It never ceases to amaze me how people who claim to be about “science” are woefully ignorant of even the most basic scientific facts.

 

ACLU Suing Catholic Hospital

Doctor tries to “force his opinion” regarding abortion on patient. Patient complains. ACLU sues Catholic hospital. Sounds predictable, right?

Not this time.

This time, they’re suing on behalf of the *doctor*.

You see, if a patient goes to a doctor or pharmacy, even one that’s openly Catholic, and demands contraception or abortion, then it’s “The doctor/hospital doesn’t have the right to force their moral views on the patient.”

However, if a patient goes to a Catholic facility expecting it will follow Catholic moral teachings, then it’s “the patient doesn’t have the right to force her moral views on the doctor”

If you want to put your own blood pressure at risk, you can see the typical hate-filled account and commentary at “Reproductive Health Reality Check” (aka, “Reproductive Poisoning Delusion Check”).

What makes this case hit close to home, and the exact kind of situation this blog was created for, is that the patient in question was suspected of having Marfan syndrome. And much like the cases of so many people who’ve been advised to abort their babies for eugenicist purposes only to find out later the babies didn’t have the genetic disorder in question, the woman doesn’t even have Marfan.

So much for “pro-choice.” If a person with same sex attraction disorder wants therapy for that problem, New Jersey’s “Catholic” “Republican” governor has made it a crime to provide that person with such therapy. Now, the ACLU is trying to say that it’s illegal for those of us who put our moral views first in making medical decisions to seek out providers who agree with us.

The unnamed woman had an unspecified “family history” and was sent to the cardiologist by her Ob/Gyn because she got pregnant. If she had been going for an evaluation for school sports, we know darn well she’d be told, “there’s very little risk, go for it,” even though if you go by the pre-1990s statistics, sports are far more dangerous than childbirth (given the mortality rate for untreated women is much higher). If a person *were* diagnosed with Marfan, and chose to play sports anyway, that would be considered “courageous,” but a woman who chooses life is considered “foolish” and “throwing her life away for a blob of tissue” (better than throwing her life away for a blob of rubber).

At least one of the articles thankfully specifies “severe cases may be fatal,” but a “severe case of Marfan syndrome” would have been obvious before she was pregnant, especially if she had a family history and knew to look out for it. Media are about as accurate in reporting on Marfan syndrome as they are about reporting on Catholicism, and the reports on this case illustrate both areas of gaping ignorance. Typically, “Marfan syndrome” is referred to as synonymous with “aortic root aneurysm,” and while that, in conjunction with ectopia lentis, has become the distinguishing characteristic from other connective tissue disorders, if she truly had a “severe case,” with a family history, other signs would have manifested themselves. If she did not have any existing aortic enlargement, there would have been no more risk from childbirth than any other strenuous activity she’d likely engage in.

As for the Catholic hospital side, commentbox feminazis (noting that the definition of “feminazi” is “a person who uses feminism as an excuse to ensure there are as many abortions as possible”) are making all sorts of false claims about “women’s health care,” saying that Catholic hospitals don’t treat ectopic pregnancy, give “emergency contraception,” etc. Treating an ectopic pregnancy is not the same thing as an abortion; the death of the child is a matter of double effect, and in many cases the child is already dead. The Church allows for necessary medical care which may endanger the baby, so long as there is not a direct abortion. It’s why St. Gianna Molla demonstrated heroic virtue; she went above and beyond the call of duty, opting not to have life saving medical care the Church would have permitted. Similarly, while the question of contraception in the case of rape is a matter of debate in Catholic circles, most Catholic ethical guidelines state that “emergency contraception” is permissible within 24 hours of a rape, so long as conception has not yet occurred.

I have never understood, “Don’t get pregnant, or have an abortion, because your child might me killed by your medical treatment,” any more than I’ve ever understood, “Kill your child now so you don’t have to watch him or her die later.”

Also, she went to a cardiologist because she was pregnant and had a family history. This could be taken either way, but anybody with a modicum of experience knows that’s one of the first things the “experts” say about Marfan syndrome: that it can be fatal for pregnant women (I’m not sure what the statistics are, but again, best I can tell it’s no more dangerous than any other strenuous activity one engages in while trying to actually have a “life”).

I’m sure that this woman heard this “advice” already and specifically went to a Catholic hospital to avoid being pressured into an abortion.

Want to go to a doctor for advice on Natural Family Planning? That’s illegal now, because according to the reasoning of the the ACLU, the likes of Chris Christie and the Obama Administration, since contraception is legal, that makes NFP illegal. If it’s illegal to provide “gay conversion therapy” or to provide a 100% pro-life medical practice to people who want it, then should Weight Watchers be illegal? How about vaccinations, regardless of your reason for objecting? “Don’t force your religious views on your doctor.” Don’t want to benefit from embryonic stem cell research, fetal tissue research, etc.? “You can’t put your religious views ahead of your health care.” What about “alternative medicine”? How many of those people who insist on polluting their bodies with birth control pills yet won’t eat at McDonald’s or take antibiotics would like it if people suddenly started suing them and saying, “McDonald’s is legal, so you *must* eat there”?

The hypocrisy of the ACLU and the “pro-choice” euphemism is that liberty is a two-way street. Even if we take a bare modicum standard of “liberty,” setting aside Natural Law, medical ethics, etc., a free market needs to operate both ways.

Religion is more than just something to do on Sunday

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –G.K. Chesterton


Football season is beginning. It always strikes me that people who are afraid to talk of “politics and religion” for fear of offending friends or relatives will get into absolute feuds over football. Meanwhile, they treat politics and religion the way they treat sports: a form of recreation; merely something to do on the weekends.
The other thing that football has in common with politics and religion is that people generally seem to choose their religious and political affiliations the way they pick their football teams: as a form of patriotism, or because of their families (either to show loyalty or spite their families), or because of their friends. Thus, just as they support the Steelers, or the Redskins, or the Browns, or the Panthers because of where they happen to live, people tend to simply accept (or reject) their family’s religion or political party without necessarily thinking of *why* they support it.
Thus, people will speak of “religion,” as a concept, in ways that can be quite baffling. On the one hand, you have people who insist that they’re Catholic, even though they reject the Church’s teachings from transubstantiation to the evil of contraception to the very Incarnation itself, because “it’s too hard to leave the Church,” like She is some kind of blood cult or something. They’re attached (rightly) to the nostalgia evoked by the liturgy (particularly the infamous Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter liturgies), and they attribute the devotion of other Catholics to a kind of extreme nostalgia (hence the “People who want the Traditional Latin Mass are just old people who don’t like change” argument).
On the other hand, you have people who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” meaning that they’re not affiliated with a particular denomination or worship service. “Religion” has come to be defined according to the Masonic view as something subservient to “society” or “culture” (which is the main reason the 18th Century popes condemned the Masonic Lodges). The “church” or synagogue, temple or mosque is treated as something like a Lodge: a place to meet every week, have some fun, engage in organized charities, and host major life events like weddings and funerals. The Sacraments become similar “life events”–Baptism (or “Christening”) becomes a ceremony to recognize a birth, and so the same young parents who were offended at the notion in pre-Cana counseling that they should live as Catholics become offended at the notion they must promise to actually raise their children Catholic. They participate in First Communion and Confirmation (aka “graduation from CCD”) for the same reasons. It’s really very sad.
Thus, both the nominal Catholic and the “spiritual” non-Catholic are baffled by the notion that any religion should claim to be superior or to actually teach the Truth about Divine and Human Nature. Theology is seen as arbitrary and superstitious. Ironically, though, the claim that all religions are equal and that people should have “freedom of worship” means that “religion” should not be extended into “public life.” It’s just something to do for an hour a week, and not to actually effect one’s life beyond some base common denominator of being a “decent person” or a “good citizen.” Any religion that claims to do *more* that that is immediately suspect for violating the commonly accepted definition of “religion” that the Masons have taught us for nearly 300 years.
So the Left has fought for legalization of so-called “same sex marriage,” insisting they only want “equal rights,” and that no one should feel threatened by it. Christians warned that it would lead to persecution of those who didn’t want to participate. Others insisted and continue to insist that it was about “marriage equality” and that opponents were “homophobic.” Yet, now that the Supreme Court has essentially legalized it nationwide by throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California Proposition 8, a court has ruled that Christian photographers cannot refuse to photograph gay weddings, a Christian bakery has closed due to “LGBT” threats and protests, a millionaire “gay” couple has sued a church in the UK for not performing their “wedding,” and Ugandan homosexuals have sued a Christian evangelist for “crimes against humanity.” Yet, like Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), “conservative” Catholic literary critic Joseph Bottum argues that we have to allow gay marriage to happen to see if it might do some good.
The LGBTQ lobby is powerful, as the UK case illustrates, precisely because it’s rich, but also because of “well meaning” Christians who think it’s about “fairness,” and others who don’t think that “religion” shouldn’t intrude on the “public sphere.” It’s the same reasoning behind the HHS contraception mandate: the alleged “right” to violate Natural Law supersedes the right of employers to chose not to engage in material cooperation. Indeed, the notion of “material cooperation” goes over most people’s heads or is used in the opposite of its intent.

Have a Heart: Blues Singer Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson, a legendary blues singer who died before his time, is another of the most credible “historical Marfan” diagnoses.

According to this site, he had long arms, legs and figures; hyperflexibility; lazy eye and “cataract”; and died a sudden death in a manner often described with aortic dissection. 

Another link

Wikipedia

Have a Heart: Info from the National Marfan Foundation

Diagnostic Criteria for Marfan Syndrome.

“Living with Marfan syndrome”: Cardiovascular

Cardiac Emergencies

Eye Emergencies

Lung Emergencies

Children and Teens

Treatment

Skeletal Features

Have a Heart: Flo Hyman

I met her sister.

Wikipedia bio

The Flo Hyman Award

Volleyball Hall of Fame

Have a Heart: “Mo” Trailer

Image

Have a Heart; Diagram of an Aneurysm in the Aortic Root

Why This Paleocon Solidly Supports Rick Santorum

Let me start this very clearly: anyone reading this blog should realize I’m a solid paleoconservative, and I’ve been very critical of both neoconservatism as a philosophy and Rick Santorum insofar as he exemplifies it. That said, with all things put together, I have decided that Santorum is not only the best candidate among the standing Republicans but the only possible candidate to face the crisis our country is in.

Will he win? Well, polls are indicating he’s the only Republican who has a chance of beating Obama, and it’s really a question of whether he has a chance of beating Romney. At this point, since I’ve argued for years that a repeat of 1860 is the only way to end abortion, I’m counting on the GOP to split at the convention the way the Democrats did in 1860. In a three way race between Obama, Romney and Santorum (or Paul, but he hasn’t got a shot at this point), I’m sure Santorum would be the spoiler the way Lincoln was in 1860, because Santorum appeals to the same voters Lincoln did, and they’re still roughly the same percentage of the population.

A. Constistently Pro-Life?

Again, I disagree strongly with some of Santorum’s foreign policy positions. I agree with those who say that his positions on “enhanced interrogation,” assassination of civilians, and foreign interventionism belie his pro-life convictions and do not reflect a consistent pro-life philosophy. However, I always recognize, with the Church, that there is a hierarchy to pro-life issues.

1. Abortion and contraception are absolutes. I’ve always argued that given the choice between two anti-abortion candidates, the next issue to consider is contraception, and Santorum is better than the other candidates on that. Indeed, my otherwise favorite Ron Paul and his non-Catholic supporters have specifically criticized Santorum’s position on contraception. This was why, literally at the last minute, I decided to vote for Rick in the SC primary.

2. War is not an absolute, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his infamous “secret letter” to Cardinal McCarrick. Since the state has the right to wage war when necessary, and since the judgement of whether a war is just or unjust is prudential, even though I disagree with Santorum’s positions on war-related issues, he seems to be exercising his prudential judgement and taking Church teaching, as he understands it, into consideration.

3. Santorum has shown himself willing to adjust his own beliefs to the Church’s teachings, more than any other politician I’ve seen. Since being voted out of office, from what I’ve heard from him on EWTN, he seems to have repented of his support of Specter, for example. If any politician is willing to change to be more in accord with the Church, he’s it. So I pray he’ll alter his foreign policy views as time goes on.

4. While I disagree with his views, again, I think he’s sincere in them. I’ve always pointed to Pat Buchanan as the ideal Catholic paleocon and the late Bob Casey, Sr., as the ideal Catholic liberal–both argue sincerely from their Catholic principles to their political conclusions. I happen to agree more with Buchanan, but respect Casey’s reasoning. I say the same thing about Santorum: I respect his reasoning, even though I disagree with some of his conclusions and his view on the function of government.

B. Paleocon versus Neocon view of Government

As a paleocon, I’d prefer small-government solutions to problems. I’d rather we outlaw abortion the Ron Paul way than by passing yet another federal law.

However, I have to recognize the signs of the times. If Ron Paul had done better so far, it would be one thing, but he’s hardly gotten any votes at all. Paleoconservatism is a dying position. In Canada, neither dominant coalition is officially pro-life anymore, and the “Religious Right” is suffering as a minority. That will happen in the US if Romney gets the GOP nomination. Rush Limbaugh said last year how the GOP leadership wants to the Christians to shut up about abortion. For the most part, paleocons and neocons agree about issues; we just disagree about the best way to tackle them. Even though I disagree with Santorum about *how* to tackle them, I also acknowledge that, at this point, his methods may be the only way to win on certain issues. Having seen Buchanan, Dornan, Keyes and now Paul get rejected time and again, I have to admit that paleoconservatism is a losing viewpoint, and if we don’t find a way of working with the neocons, we face the fate of not just paleocons but all pro-lifers in Canada.

C. Catholicism

Right before I went to the polls in the South Carolina primary, I went across the border to a pro-life rally in Augusta for the Anniversary of _Roe v. Wade_. It was sponsored by the interfaith “Alleliua” community. It was raining, and crowded, so I sat in my van and listened to some of the talks. I heard some speaker–don’t know if he was Catholic or Protestant–saying how we’re all “flavors of the same Christianity,” and that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is subordinate to the Bible. Heresy trumps abortion, and I high-tailed it out of there. Then I went to the polls, and thought how I could not stomach voting for a non-Catholic when I had two acceptable Catholic candidates to choose from. Then I thought about the fact that Paul’s people were criticizing Santorum’s position on contraception, and voted for him.

That same weekend, this stuff about the HHS mandate came out. We are faced with a true culture war, where everything is pointed against the Catholic Church. Even ex-Catholic Glenn Beck, who was criticized here and elsewhere for seeming to tell Catholics to leave their Church a few years ago when he told people to leave any churches that talk of social justice, is praising the Church for taking a stand, and saying that the Obama administration is at war with the Catholic Church. Glenn Beck and the Limbaugh brothers have recently been speaking out in support of the Catholic Church, Rick Santorum, Pope Benedict XVI and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, saying how they’re taking a firm stand against Obama and for Christian values.

We’re at a watershed moment in our culture, and the Church Herself is under attack. I have no doubt that Romney, if elected, will just continue the work that Bush and Obama have started. The only one who can stem this tide against the Church in America is Rick Santorum.

D. Santorum shows signs of being the next “Reagan.”

It was under Ronald Reagan that Pat Buchanan coined the term “Paleocon” to distinguish from the former liberals who had joined the GOP over abortion and other social issues. Reagan breaking his promises to shut down the then relatively new EPA and Department of Education in favor of using them to promote a conservative agenda was one of the tell-tale signs of the so-called “neo-conservatism.”

The last GOP primary to last this long was 1976, when Reagan won 10 states against Ford. Obviously, Ford lost the election to Carter, but Reagan won four years later. If Santorum *doesn’t* win this nomination, he’s a shoe-in for 2016 (assuming there *is* a 2016 to look forward to). If the delegates are tied or close to it going into the Convention, we may see what I’ve been predicting: a party split where the GOP divides along its social conservative and economic conservative lines the way the Whigs did in the 1850s and the Democrats did in 1860. If Obama and Romney split the secularists, and Santorum wins the religious voters, Santorum could win.

E. Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony “Swing Vote” Kennedy

Those three are now the longest-serving members of the Supreme Court, if not the oldest. At least one of them is most likely to die, retire or get sick in the next 5 years. If Obama has a chance to nominate another justice, it will most likely be to replace a conservative or moderate. We’re not only dealing with overturning Roe v. Wade now, but “gay marriage” in numerous states, as well as Obamacare (which may hopefully be overturned in a few weeks), and several other unconstitutional laws passed under Obama (and Bush).

In 8 Years, George W. Bush nominated 2 justices to replace a couple “moderate” Republican justices. Obama’s replaced a liberal with a liberal. If he can replace a moderate or a solid conservative with a liberal, then liberals will have the majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future, and if any of these issues make it to the Court, they can solidify them into so-called “settled law.”

If Romney gets in, he’ll most likely appoint “moderate Republicans” who can go either way.

Only with Santorum do we have a chance of appointing conservative jutices and getting the solid conservative majority we need to get this country back on the right track.

That’s why paleocons need to hold their noses and vote for Rick.