Category Archives: In Vitro Fertilization

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.

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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.

 

A Day that will live in Infamy

One of the most powerful pro-life talks I’ve ever attended was given by Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac Clinic, several years ago at adult education night at St. William of York in Stafford, VA. He shared a lot of the “inside scoop” as a medical professional, a revert who used to work in the clinic that pioneered in vitro fertilization in the US. I’ve discussed some of these before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat.

Some of the key points:

1. There will never be a male contraceptive on the market. Whenever they test a male contraceptive pill, the test subjects did not like what it did to them, how shall we say, aesthetically. The estrogen pill doubles a woman’s risk of stroke or heart attack and increases the risk of various cancers. Any other drug with the estrogen pill’s side effects would be pulled from the market. Double standard, anyone?

2. When conception occurs, the newly formed embryo sends out an electrical impulse to tell the mother’s brain, “Hey! I’m here!” It is possible to detect pregnancy within moments of fertilization, since there are *immediate* changes to the mother’s biochemistry. When conception occurs in a petri dish, there is a visible flash of light. He says that, back when he worked at the IVF lab, they used to watch and wait for that flash of light, and they would cheer.

3. On January 22, 1973, he came home from school and found his father dressed in his funeral clothes. He asked him who died, and his father said, “I am in mourning for America, because today America legalized abortion.”

I believe in a consistent life ethic

I believe in a consistent life ethic, but I’d rather use Fr. Frank Pavone’s analogy of a house (some issues are foundational; some issues are pillars; some issues are the roof; and some are the walls and decorations) than the “seamless garment” of Eileen Egan and Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Apparently, Bernardin’s seamless garment tore when he worked to cover up the still-unsolved 1983 murder of a church organist who had documentation of the active homosexual subculture in the Chicago priesthood and was about to go to the media.

Anyway, the Church is very clear that there are times when war and the death penalty are necessary–even Jesus Himself says so (Mt 18:6).

But there is no justification for abortion. There is no justification for killing the disabled. There is no justification for killing people on the basis of religion, race, sexual orientation or gender.

Oh, by the way, in all the complaints about oppressed minorities, and in all the media complaints about the lack of justice for victims of crimes committed *by* priests, when are we going to start hearing about the many crimes committed *against* priests? When are we going to hear about the the murders of Catholic priests by KKK members in the “Old South,” unsolved or otherwise unresolved?

I support PETA

Pets for the Ethical Treatment of Anthropoi

(This one is mine)

Cool Website

Free  Pro-Life Images

Do we use the language of the Greeks or not?

The doctrine of transubstantiation, that the Eucharist contains the substance of Jesus Christ–His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity–but not the “acccidents”, uses terms derived from Greek philosophy, particularly Aristotle.

Substance was, for Aristotle, what makes a thing what-it-is.  What does it mean “to be”?  The Latin verb “to be” is esse, from which we get essence.  A thing’s substance is its essence. 

Classic example: a man is a man.  His having a beard is an “accident”, because he can have a beard or not have a beard and still be a man.

Anything that is not necessary to one’s being is an “accident.”  Anything necessary is a “substance.”

Modern science has basically turned that around and said that a “substance” is that which is.  Just the thing in front of you.  In chemistry, any finite object is a “substance.”

A human, considered as a human, is a “substance.”  A cell, considered as a cell, is a “substance.”  A DNA molecule, qua DNA molecule, is a substance.  And so on.

But Aristotle wanted something deeper.  Plato said that substances didn’t exist in this world: they’re “forms” of things in Heaven.  Somewhere in Heaven, for Plato, there’s an IDEAL BED.  There’s also an Ideal Sofa Bed.  And there’s an Ideal version of the precise sofa bed I”m reclining on as I write this.

C. S. Lewis embodies this philosophy in the last chapters of  The Last Battle.Aristotle could not see how substance could be refined to a purely spiritual reality, since things exist in a material plane. So he sought out how to define that which a substance is.  Metaphysics is the field of study “beyond physics,” but philosophers have long debated  whether that title is just bibliographic, as in “The book after Physics,” or “Physics, Level II”, or else it’s really “a field of study about things higher than what physics studies.”

 

Today, the proper study of metaphysics belongs to those who study quarks and dark matter and relativity and quantum physics. 

Medical science probes the human brain and discovers parts of the brain that fire when people have mystical experiences, showing how the spiritual realm transects with  our reality.

Physical science studies the fringes of the cosmos and discovers how limited our universe really is, and how limited our understanding of matter and energy really are.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church remains trapped in Medieval cosmology.

The substance of a body is something physical.  Something that can be touched . Something that can be seen.  Something that can be observed with any of the senses. 

So, those who try to give a pragmatic, worldly theology of the Eucharist, even doing so in an orthodox manner (because they argue from council proclamations based upon obsolete science), will say, “It’s the substance, but not the accidents,” using Aristotle’s terminology.

But, as soon as you point out that Aristotle’s substance is something physical, they say, “We can’t be confined to Aristotle’s terminology.”

Or else that there is a Divine substance, such as “consubstantial with the Father.”

But it’s not the Divine Substance of Jesus we’re talking about.  It’s the substance of His Body.  The substance of His Blood. Even the Blood more than the Body.  For if one is to say, “it’s just a ‘spiritual body,'” then what is spiritual blood?

Transubstantiation has to mean something, or else it is meaningless.  It has to be something *different*.  It cannot be something we just chalk up to “spiritual reality.”  If that’s the case, then Transubstantiation is no different than the omnipresence of God.

I certainly have no problem with spiritual reality, and it is quite obvious that transubstantiation cannot be observed according to the standards of our every day observation of material reality.

But if we’re going to use the term “substance,” and we’re going to use the term “body,” and we”re going to use the term “accidents,” then we have to play by Aristotle’s ground rules.  I’d rather we didn’t.  I’d rather we scrapped the whole issue altogether.

But Transubstantiation touches on the very question Aristotle is asking in the Metaphysics: What does it mean to be? And not just to be, but to be what we are?  What makes me John Charles Hathaway? 

On the human level, that is the fundamental question I ask of people who support abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, or other aspects of the Culture of Death: how do you define what a human being is?

Liberals usually answer that question with an appeal to religion: a human being is a soul.  It’s a “spiritual reality.”  They sever the human body from the human soul and say the soul is what defines the person, not the body.

Pro-lifers argue that, given our current knowledge of science, we have to say that the continuum of human life begins at conception, and we cannot create arbitrary divisions in the stages of development of the human person.  The reason for this is that, to create such a division, you have to deny human rights to someone already born, as well.  The usual division one hears is “viability,” when the baby is no longer 100% dependent upon the mother exclusively(but the adoration of George Tiller by abortion supporters show they don’t really care about viability).

Yet that removes the right to life of anyone on life support of any sort.

The argument that “life begins at conception” is almost a kind of fall-back measure, because we can’t really say what a human being is.

We don’t know what, in the Aristotelian sense, the substance of a human being is.

The answer to that question may not exist, but the fringes of modern science show that it very well may.

What if transubstantiation and the mystery of human life are inherently linked, which is why they are so important to Catholics of a more traditional mindset, and why “Spirit of Vatican II” Catholics want to downplay both?

Both touch on the fundamental question of Creation, of how the supernatural and the natural interact.

When a priest consecrates the Host, he performs a similar accomplishment to what a married couple do when they conceive a child: both are bringing a human substance into the world.
One is bringing the human substance of the God Man, Christ, back into the world in the appearance of bread and wine.
The substance of the bread and wine–what makes them bread and wine–go away. The “accidents” remain.

And the man and woman combine the cells of their bodies into a new embryo, and that embryo has what we call a “soul” (and Aristotle’s word “anima” is the biological equivalent of “substance”–whatever it is that makes things alive).

Only in such an explanation can the claim that “the Eucharist is a spiritual reality” be saved from leadinng to Rahnerism.

For perhaps Plato was right. Perhaps all substance is spiritual. Maybe we’re all just little game board pieces, little avatars, being moved by our True Selves in Heaven.

Or there’s something else.

If the substance of a human being is the DNA, or the cells, if “life begins at conception,” then we have to be able to put the Host under a microscope and see evidence of the substance of Christ’s Body.

A 1 week old embryo and a 100 year old man will, in theory, have the same DNA when looked at side-by-side.
If the genetic code is the “substance” of a human person, whether that person is under the appearance of an embryo or an old codger, then the Eucharist *must* have the genetic code of a man, not wheat.

But wait.

The problem is in the pro-life argument. DNA *cannot* be where we find the anima or the substance of man, because DNA CAN CHANGE

First, there’s the common response to “life begins at conception”: identical twins. Their DNA doesn’t change, per se, but the embryo splits in two, and the two new embryos have identical DNA, so that DNA cannot be the “substance” of either one.

DNA can be mutated during a person’s lfe, by radiation for example, or by certain drugs that have been shown to alter DNA. An embryo’s cell is not the same as the cell of an old man because an embryo is all stem cells, and we know that even adult stem cells are not exactly like embryonic stem cells.

So the 100 year old man does not necessarily have the same DNA as the baby. Even if it only happens that way occasionally, it still proves that DNA is not the substance of a person.

So, now, from the pro-life perspective, we have an insoluble quandary, but the philosophical quandary of the Eucharist makes more sense.

But, again, what if there is a third way between Plato and Aristotle? What if there is a third way between “spiritual” and “physical”? What if, as scientific knowledge advances, we hit on some level of existence that really is what Aristotle calls “substance” and also what Plato calls Forms?

Whatever happens to the universe at the moment of Consecration is the same as whatever happens at the moment of conception. If we can figure out what that is, we’ll have solved everything.