Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Sad anniversary: Tonya Reaves died after Planned Parenthood abortion 5 years ago

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Today is the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Tonya Reaves, a 24-year-old mom of a 1-year-old who went to a Planned Parenthood in Chicago for an abortion. Abortionist Mandy Gittler went into that poor woman’s womb three times that day, and finally sent her to the hospital, where an uncontrolled bleed was discovered. I wrote more about Tonya’s death, and the questions that still surround it, in the Daily Caller. Please have a look.

Posted in Abortion, Abortion Complications, Abortion fatalities, Family, Planned Parenthood, Second-trimester abortion, Women's Health |
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Great Britain vs. Parental Rights

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

British baby Charlie Gard’s parents were back in court today, trying to prove that an experimental treatment might help their son. Just typing that sentence makes me angry. How can anyone prove an experimental treatment will work? And why should a court and a hospital have the final say over what happens to their child?

Last week I wrote an op-ed for the Daily Caller about the erosion of parental rights, and how we cannot stand for it. Please have a look here.

Today on CNN.com, Carter Snead has a piece on why Pope Francis is among those fighting for Charlie’s life. Have a look!

 

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Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

HealingtheShockwavesLogo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The year 2014 saw the first “abortion rom-com” in theaters, heard the head of Planned Parenthood express the goal of making pro-life political candidates “unacceptable,” and endured a relentless assault by an anti-life movement that seeks to recast abortion as a social good.

 

Abortion is not a social good, and in 2015, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign will demonstrate that through a new project called Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion. The aim of Shockwaves is to reach out to those impacted by the loss of a child through abortion: Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, abortion clinic workers and even the abortionists themselves.

 

The project will be announced at a press conference Thursday, Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. in the Murrow Room at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. The official launch for Shockwaves will be at the annual Silent No More gathering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the March for Life on Jan. 22.

 

The Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion was like a series of powerful nuclear devices detonated in January 1973 in Washington, D.C. The damage done by an explosion is not only in the initial impact, but in the invisible shockwaves that ripple out from the epicenter. We often fail to see the radioactive fallout from 55 million abortions but the new initiative aims to make Americans aware of the powerful and destructive shockwaves that have wounded our nation in ways that we are only beginning to fully understand. 

 

 

“Each individual abortion procedure is an explosive event in the lives of the mother and father and those closely connected to that decision,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and Pastoral Director for Silent No More. “The shockwaves not only deeply touch the mother and father but all those who are part of abortion decisions and procedures.  They extend out into the lives that they will touch as their unresolved  grief and loss impact their future relationships, their marriage and family lives. This can and does reach deeply into our society — our schools, our health care and legal systems, our economy and our communities.”

 

Every month throughout 2015, Shockwaves will reach out to a group that has been directly impacted by abortion loss, with helpful information, resources, and referrals to abortion-recovery programs.

 

January will focus on “Healing through the Church.”  February will recognize Black History Month to offer “Healing the Black Family.” March will put the focus on grandparents, while April will take a look at how the shockwaves have impacted the siblings. Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June provide opportunities to focus on those at the epicenter, the parents who lose children to abortion.

 

“The new aim of the pro-choice movement is to convince women and men that abortion is the very best thing they can do for themselves and their future,” said Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “But I can tell you from experience that the abortion I had as a teenager was not the best thing I could have done for myself. It was the worst, and it impacted my parents, my future husband and our daughter.”

Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More, was unaware for years that she had lost a grandchild to abortion.

 

“When I look at my two precious grandchildren now, I often think of their cousin who’s missing,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to think of what my family lost, and what my daughter went through. The shockwaves of that abortion have reverberated throughout my family, and there are families like mine all over our wounded nation.”

 

The theme for July will be “Healing the Survivors and Friends,” followed by “Healing the Abortion Providers” in August. Family will be the theme for September, with a focus on Hispanic families in October.

 

“Healing Pro-Lifers” will be the theme for November.

 

“Those who stand outside abortion clinics, on the front lines of this battle, also need healing,” said Kevin Burke, LSW, co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard and head of Silent No More’s Fatherhood Forever initiative. “So do those who work in pregnancy resource centers, and others who counsel abortion-vulnerable women. Every woman who chooses abortion represents a deep and personal loss to these people who are so committed to life. They feel the shockwaves most acutely.”

 

December will be devoted to seeking healing through Jesus Christ.

 

“When a spiritual and emotional healing program safely opens the abortion wound to the light of Christ, there are miraculous encounters with the Lord,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and a spokeswoman for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. “We hope that by the end of the Shockwaves year, we have made a start in healing the heart of our nation.”

 

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is clearly on the radar of the pro- abortion movement.  Since 2002, Silent No More has been equipping men and women across our nation to share the truth of the devastation abortion unleashed in their lives. The pro-aborts are pushing back with campaigns to “affirm” abortion and “normalize” this procedure as a safe and benign rite of passage in many women’s lives. Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will counter these efforts with the truth.

 

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Brave Mom Rejects Pressure to Abort Her Disabled Child, Finds Guardian Angels at “The Promise”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Pregnant-woman[1]

by Janet Morana and Kevin Burke, LSW

Blessed are the poor in spirit … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here’s a real life situation that is tailor made for pro abortion apologists:

- Arielle is a single mother of two young children and facing an unplanned   pregnancy. In the early stages of her prenatal care the doctor told her “your baby has a serious medical condition and won’t survive.”  Arielle’s baby girl had a chromosomal defect known as Trisomy 18, along with severe cardiac defects. The chances of her child surviving a full term pregnancy, let alone being born alive were slim. And if the baby was born alive, she would likely die before her first birthday.

In the majority of cases like this the unborn baby will be aborted. The mother (and father if involved) will face the complicated grief and trauma that are common after such procedures.

Medical Pressures to Abort

Arielle was a patient at a Pittsburgh-based hospital pregnancy clinic. Many of the medical professionals advised her to abort.  When Arielle informed them that she was going to carry the child to term, she found that the clinic did not want to spend money on a life that was not expected to survive long after birth. Arielle was feeling more isolated and alone. Her hope was that clinic personnel would be more sensitive and attentive to her struggle as an expectant mother of a child with medical challenges.

Despite great pressure Arielle resisted. She drew upon a deepening of her faith and trust in God. She revealed a spiritual wisdom that far exceeded that of the highly educated medical professionals who were presenting abortion as the only reasonable solution to her problem pregnancy.

Arielle reflects on their temptations to abort:

“Do you know how the devil makes bad things look good?” 
Arielle discerned that if her daughter were to die, then the death of her baby should be natural, not based on her decision…but on God’s timing. Arielle made the brave choice to carry her baby girl to term. When she shared the news of her baby’s poor prognosis with her 9 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son, their response, like their mother’s revealed an advanced level of trust in God’s providence:

“We will love her as long as she’s with us,” the children told their mother.

Even with her strong faith and supportive children, Arielle was still alone with a very challenging diagnosis, and an uncertain future.

Thankfully the faithfulness of Arielle and her family was rewarded when a representative from Northside Christian Community Health Center told her about The Promise.

The Promise is a Pittsburgh based prolife program of Catholic Palliative Services committed to walking alongside families with a poor prognosis for their unborn and newly born infants. They help women like Ariel to face their journey with hope and optimism.

Arielle came to The Promise overwhelmed and not aware of her options and the best way to proceed. The Promise team of Lori Heil and doula, Brandy Rawls offered the support and guidance to help Arielle discern the best options for her care:

“Brandy knew questions that I didn’t even think of,” Arielle stated.

Advocates for Life

One of the most important resources The Promise provides is advocacy for the mother and child. Parents face an uphill battle in a medical climate that can be hostile to those that choose life-affirming alternatives when facing a fetal disability. Arielle was being denied appointments with neonatologists and other specialists. She needed a knowledgeable advocate for herself and her unborn baby. Here’s where a resource like The Promise is so important.

Promise representatives attended Arielle’s clinic appointments and secured the care typical for a pregnant woman. “Lori and Brandy helped to put things into perspective that were too touchy for others to handle,” Arielle shared.

When she chose not to terminate her pregnancy, clinic personnel were encouraging Arielle to place the baby in a hospital setting after her birth. Knowing that she had a team of people focusing on a live birth and possible discharge to home alleviated many of the unknowns for Arielle. Through The Promise, Arielle’s baby would have the opportunity to be at home with family, with medical care provided by Catholic Hospice.

A Brief Life…an Eternal Destiny

Alonna Angel quietly entered this world on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM weighing four pounds, two ounces and measuring 17 ½ inches long. Approximately twenty minutes later, she took her final breath on this earth while lovingly cradled in the arms of her mother.

Everything happens for a reason. How often we have heard that phrase as a condolence statement in reaction to a difficult time in our lives. Although it’s meant to be supportive, most often it can also evoke great sadness and heartache. But for those who maintain a strong and faithful relationship with God…like Arielle and her family…everything happens for His reason.

Although the emotional healing will take time, a memorial service is being planned to recognize Alonna Angel’s short life on this earth and the great love that her mother and siblings hold for her. Arielle’s hope is that her experience with this pregnancy will get her to a place where she can help others going through the similar situations. The Promise will follow Arielle and her two surviving children for 13 months in a specialized bereavement program.

Every life is a miracle, whether long or short, it is worthy and matters. Arielle demonstrated incredible faith and strength to give her daughter the gift of life.

Support services provided through The Promise are made possible by community contributions and foundation grant support. If you would like more information on the program or to contribute, call 1.866.933.6221.

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Jane Fonda: Abortion apologist and abortion survivor

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

I’m just catching up to the news that Jane Fonda and her brother, Peter Fonda, are abortion survivors. Their mother, who was sexually abused by a piano tuner as a child and physically abused by her two husbands, George Brokaw and Henry Fonda, had nine abortions before Jane was born and finally took her own life.

In one of her books and at an event last month, Ms. Fonda said that when she learned of the sexual abuse that began when her mother was just a child, she was able to forgive her for the suicide that left her without a mother at the age of 12.

Ms. Fonda is less forthcoming on what she thinks about the nine abortions, except to say they played a role in Francis Fonda’s ultimate act of desperation.
Perhaps her near-silence on her mother’s abortions can be explained by Jane Fonda’s vocal support of abortion over the last several decades. If she’s advocating free and open access to the very thing that contributed to her mother’s suicide, that’s a clear indication she’s in denial.

Pro-aborts love to say there is no link from abortion to suicide, and though they raked researcher Priscilla Coleman over the coals when she uncovered a substantial link, the fact cannot be hidden forever.

In a 2010 study, researchers from the National Center for Biotechnology Information – which works hand in hand with the National Institutes of Health – found that abortion was associated with an increased likelihood of several mental disorders, including anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and attempted suicide.

But beyond the abortion-suicide link, Francis Fonda’s multiple abortions very likely fueled the problems Jane Fonda experienced and has often discussed: Low self-esteem, poor body image, eating disorders and other problems.

Dr. Philip Ney, a Canadian psychiatrist who is an expert on survivor syndrome following abortion, has written that surviving children – including those who know only intuitively that they have lost siblings to abortion –can develop a “wanted” mentality that makes them see themselves as objects and not people. They become possessions, and as such are expected to meet the expectations of those around them. These children are trying to be the perfect child in order to prove their worth to their parents.

Jane’s pro-abortion activism also might be a direct result of her mother’s nine abortions and subsequent suicide. Abortion researchers have long proposed that the high rate of repeat abortions is a result of post-traumatic re-enactment, an unconscious coping mechanism that prompts people to repeat an experience, even if it was terrible, as a way of justifying it, or normalizing it.

Maybe one way Jane tried to make sense of her mother’s tortured past was to try to normalize it by advocating abortion as a good thing, as a right to which every woman is entitled.

Jane Fonda’s recent musings, including a blog she maintains on her website, indicate that as she ages, she is growing more introspective. She has apologized for her controversial meeting with North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War and even advocates for abstinence in her book “Being a Teen.” Perhaps we can look forward to a day when she will change her pro-abortion views and honestly discuss what it felt like to learn that she was not one of two children, but one of 11.

When she’s ready to take that step, I hope she will seek healing and finally find the peace that has eluded her.

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Glen Campbell and Brittany Maynard Face Their Mortality Very Differently

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

1413489817_brittany-maynard-video-article[1]This blog was originally published in the National Catholic Register on Oct. 28, just a few days before Brittany Maynard committed suicide in Oregon.

Two stories battled for my attention recently, and both of them broke my heart.

The first was about Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with brain cancer who moved from California to Oregon to gain access to legal suicide-inducing drugs. She is planning to die in bed, surrounded by her family, on Nov. 1 (the solemnity of All Saints), two days after her husband’s birthday.

The second story was about the singer Glen Campbell, who decided to go public with his struggle against Alzheimer’s disease. With his children on stage with him for a final, 151-stop musical tour, and the cameras rolling for a ground-breaking documentary, Campbell said: “I ain’t done yet. Tell ’em that.”

Maynard is fighting, through a foundation set up in her name, to expand the right to die beyond the five states that now allow it.

Campbell is allowing himself to be seen in all his vulnerability to show those suffering with Alzheimer’s — some 44 million people worldwide — and all those who will be diagnosed in the future, that, as St. John Paul said, “Life is always a good.”

Our reactions to these stories show that, as usual, we Americans seem to have a split personality. We applaud Campbell for his courage in refusing to go quietly into that good night, and yet many of us also support Maynard’s desire to “die with dignity.”

I do not.

I have watched people close to me die, and, with the rest of the world, I watched St. John Paul suffer with the debilitating and ultimately fatal effects of Parkinson’s disease. It was heartbreaking, and while I prayed for a miracle for all of them, I also prayed that each would have a peaceful death.

But we are not the architects of our own lives, no matter what we think and no matter how many misguided politicians and activist judges we can convince that we are. What Maynard is doing is wrong, and my fervent prayer is that she changes her mind.

With palliative care, we can hope for a death without pain for ourselves and our loved ones, and there is nothing wrong with that. We can refuse extraordinary, unnatural treatments. But to choose suicide — and to further legalize it in this country — is a catastrophic mistake.

Take a look at what assisted suicide and euthanasia are doing to Belgium and Denmark.

In a piece for Front Page magazine last month, Stephen Brown wrote:

“Holland was the first European country to betray its Judeo-Christian heritage regarding the sanctity of life when it legalized euthanasia in 2001. Holland also has the dubious distinction of leading the way in killing babies, as the Dutch euthanasia policy was expanded in 2006 to babies born with severe birth defects.

It therefore should not surprise that Holland is another country where euthanasia appears out of control. In 2011, 3,695 people were reported medically killed, including 13 psychiatric patients, while 4,188 were euthanized in 2102, accounting for three percent of all Holland’s deaths that year.”

Brown wrote that, in 2012, Holland also began sending mobile death teams to the homes of people who want to die but whose doctors refuse to help them. And Belgium, if possible, is worse.

According to Brown:

“Originally, Belgium’s euthanasia law, passed in 2002, was meant for gravely ill adults suffering unbearable physical pain. Now, as mentioned, it includes those experiencing ‘unbearable psychological suffering.’ So relatively healthy people suffering mental stress or disorders are now being killed, among them a 44-year-old person who had undergone a failed sex change operation. So it is no wonder the number of euthanasia victims in Belgium has grown from 24 people in 2002 to 1,807 in 2013, an average of five per day and a 27 percent increase from 2012.”

Brown also reported that Belgium’s King Philippe signed a law last March allowing euthanasia for children of any age and dementia sufferers upon request. Last month, Belgium — a country without the death penalty — made headlines again when it granted a convicted murderer the right to die under the country’s euthanasia laws. Another 15 inmates have made the same request.

Could this happen in the United States? Could we have mobile death squads and legalized murder of babies born with birth defects? In a country that has aborted 55 million children in the last generation, and where “choice” is well on its way to becoming the new religion, it absolutely could. We are already headed that way.

Since Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act was passed 14 years ago, 1,100 people have asked for the lethal prescription, and two-thirds of them have ended their lives with it. Please pray with me that Maynard does not join that group and changes her mind about her date with death.

Life is always a good, even if it is cut tragically short by a disease we cannot control.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/JMorana/glen-campbell-and-brittany-maynard-face-their-mortality-very-differently#ixzz3IKRDcfuL

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Sen. Wendy Davis: Is Complicated Grief after Abortion Driving her Pro Choice Activism?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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By Janet Morana
and Kevin Burke, LSW

For more than 11 hours in June 2013 Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) laced up her infamous pink sneakers and stood on the Senate floor, without food or bathroom breaks, to filibuster an abortion bill that has shut down more than a dozen abortion centers so far in the state of Texas.

Now we learn in her recently published book that she experienced a traumatic abortion loss in 1997. The media will spin this story in predictable directions. They will present Sen. Davis as one who personally understands the difficult health care decisions women face and as future Democratic governor she will be a courageous advocate for the women of Texas.

But there is a deeper and more complex story behind the headlines. The filibuster of Sen. David and the public confession about her own abortion are less about political activism, abortion rights and opportunism. They reveal much more about the complicated grief that follows an abortion procedure…and how that repressed emotional and spiritual pain may be driving her pro-abortion activities.

From the New York Times:
[Davis]…learned in the fall of 1996 that she was pregnant for a fourth time. In her second trimester, she and her husband at the time, Jeff Davis, learned that their unborn daughter whom they named Tate had a rare brain abnormality. Doctors told the couple that if the baby survived delivery, “she would probably be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state.” In the spring of 1997, Ms. Davis terminated the pregnancy, describing it as “the most humane and compassionate thing we could do to spare Tate” any pain and suffering.

We can imagine the fear, anxiety and grief that followed the diagnosis. Many good people, in the darkness and confusion of such times, will be tempted to see abortion as both a sensible and compassionate decision. The medical community aggressively counsels that abortion is the only medical solution for such a diagnosis. (It should be noted that physicians often present the worst case scenario and fear of lawsuits can be deadly for the unborn.)

Legalized abortion has tempted medical professionals to assume a God-like authority over matters of life and death for their unborn patients. This places anxiety-filled, grieving parents facing a challenging pre-natal diagnosis in the impossible position of having to participate in the death of their own child:

Sen. Davis shares:
In our doctor’s office, with tears flowing down both our faces, Jeff and I looked at our baby daughter’s beating heart on the sonogram screen for the last time,” Ms. Davis wrote. “And we watched as our doctor quieted it. It was over. She was gone. Our much-loved baby was gone.”

Predictably, depression followed the abortion.
From Lifenews:
Davis writes quote, “an indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief. A heavy wave that crushed me. It made me wonder if I would ever surface…and when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed.”

The Truth Will Set You Free

Sen. Davis and her husband, with the counsel of medical professions, felt that ending the life of their unborn daughter was, as she stated, the most humane and compassionate thing we could do to spare Tate any pain and suffering.

Surely the suffering of their daughter was part of the motivation of these parents to abort…any parent can sympathize with their dilemma. But is it possible that if they were to be totally honest, they were also fighting with their own fears? Were they struggling to accept and embrace the challenges and pain of giving birth to a child with disabilities?

Wendy Davis and her husband very likely have not attended an abortion healing program. If they did, they would have to face the reality that while the medical dilemma put them under serious pressure to see abortion as the only option…they participated in the death of their unborn child. It is impossible to witness the direct and deliberate ending of a child’s life and not experience emotional and relational consequences.

Abortion is an unnatural and traumatic shock to the body, heart and soul of a pregnant woman. Medical professionals and counselors should have used that time to prepare the couple for the child’s birth, what to expect, and how to love and care for their precious child for however long the baby lives. Here is a good resource for such life-affirming choices.

The Filibuster of 2013: A Labor of Complicated Grief?

Wendy Davis was denied the opportunity to go through the natural birthing process with her daughter. The Davis’ were not able to hold and love their daughter for however long she lived and learn to see the great benefits that this challenging but also blessed time could have been for their family. Failure to acknowledge falling to this temptation to assume God’s providence over life and death will make it difficult for this couple to fully grieve and heal this loss. Guilt, pain, anger will remain…often hidden deep beneath the rationalizations that this was the right and compassionate choice.

Some of the founding members of pro-abortion feminism movement were women with traumatic abortion in their history. Like Davis, without a deeper emotional and spiritual healing of this loss, they need to continually justify their choice by becoming active in pro-abortion politics, advocacy and even volunteering at abortion centers. The Texas bill that presented reasonable restrictions on abortion, and those who fight to end abortion, present a direct psychological threat to the defenses Davis has established deep in her psyche against her abortion trauma.

The pro-abortion activity and public confession of her abortion also serve as a powerful outlet for the complicated grief, guilt and anger that needs to be continually repressed…but struggles to find expression. Anti-abortion activists and public political activity that highlights our nation’s contentious struggle with this issue, become a convenient target for anger and rage at one’s spouse, self, God and other involved in the abortion decision.

Perhaps we can revisit the abortion filibuster of June 2013 and see in this very public action on behalf of abortion rights as being closely connected to her incomplete abortion healing. At great personal sacrifice she labors for hours on end, without food and water…to fight what she sees as draconian abortion restrictions. I would suggest that what was driving this display may be closely related to the abortion disrupting her body’s ability to go through the natural labor process…which she displaces onto a dramatic, lengthy and painful filibuster process.

An important part of any abortion recovery program, is telling your abortion story.

Sen. Davis now has offered a public confession in her book about her traumatic abortion loss. Here too we see an attempt by Davis to continue to process her loss and find understanding and support. This is common among those who suffer abortion loss and helps end the secrecy and isolation that normally follows the procedure. Davis in her political role receives the affirmation and support of other women, pro- abortion activists and media, and when confronted with opposition, may see herself as a courageous heroine for other women’s rights, willing to stand tall and take the heat.

The Challenging but Rewarding Journey to Heal, and the Deadly Cost of Denial

But the human heart and soul defy our desperate rationalizations. They seek a healthy and honest grieving of this loss. They call us to accept that in fear, anxiety and a failure to trust in God’s providence, we can take actions that are reserved for the Creator of life. This requires the deepest humility and much grace. We can all abort God’s will in our lives at times of fear and darkness.

The journey of healing is not one of judgment and condemnation. It is more the blessed gift of being able to confess our weakness confronted with an overwhelming moral and medical dilemma. But it is only with the gift of honesty and humility that healthy grieving and deeper healing are possible. This can take time as these wounds are very sensitive, especially immediately after the loss.

The failure of Sen. Davis and her husband to fully reconcile and grieve this loss has led her to become a very public proponent of abortion. Sadly, the unresolved complicated grief, guilt and pain of her own abortion experience has not only taken her disabled daughter’s life in the womb, but could lead to the death of many more unborn children if her political power increases and she gains access to higher office.

Let’s pray she will read this article and find in it a compassionate and loving invitation to a deeper healing of her abortion loss in an abortion recovery program.

To read about couples who received poor pre-natal diagnoses and chose life for their babies, read “Recall Abortion.”

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Left behind

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Broken_Handcuffs[1]

The testimony of a faith-filled, passionate pro-life teenager who learned her mother was post-abortive was published yesterday on the web site of Stand True, which is Priests for Life’s youth outreach. The whole piece is worthy of a read, but there’s one part I want to delve into a bit deeper.

The girl was almost 13, the oldest of her siblings, when her mother told her that, years earlier and in a previous relationship, she had aborted her first child, a son.

“Big brother,” Zoe wrote. “For years I had been saying, ‘I wish I had an older brother or sister!’ Now I knew that I had one.”

The truth is that Zoe probably always knew – perhaps buried deeply in her subconscious — that she was not her mother’s first child.

Dr Philip Ney, a Canadian psychiatrist, discovered in the late 1970s that siblings of aborted children often have this awareness and, as consequence, suffer from Post Abortion Survivor Syndrome (PASS). In a 2011 opinion piece published by LifeNews, Dr. Ney wrote:

“The most prominent symptom of PASS is existential guilt, ‘I feel I don’t deserve to be alive.’
“Other symptoms include pervasive anxiety, fear of the future, sense of impending doom, self injury, obsessive thinking, poor self identity, low self esteem, self destructive behavior, fear of becoming psychotic and dissociation.
“PASS helps explain low rates of child bearing and raising. PASS people are afraid of having children. PASS helps explain economic recession. PASS people are pessimistic about the future. PASS helps explain the younger generation’s fascination with the occult. It helps us understand mad bombers who are extremely angry at adults and politicians who have allowed the massive slaughter of their siblings. It helps explain suicide bombers who have no joy in living but want a ‘noble’ meaning to their death. It helps explain the large number of depressed people who have unresolved grief of an aborted sibling. It may help explain the growing interest in euthanasia. PASS people are poorly bonded to their parents.”

None of this is true about Zoe, and I’ll discuss why a bit later. But first I’d like to repeat a story Dr. Ney told me, and that I recounted in my book, “Recall Abortion.”

A woman came to Dr. Ney for counseling because her 6-year-old daughter was having nightmares, wetting the bed and suffering from separation anxiety. In his interview with the mother, Dr. Ney asked her about pregnancy losses, and she confided – out of earshot of her child – that she had undergone two abortions prior to giving birth to this child.

Then, working alone with the child, Dr. Ney asked her to draw a picture of her family. Although she was an only child, her family portrait consisted of her mother, her father, herself and two siblings – a brother and a sister.

Dr. Ney said that for children like this little girl, growing up in a home where she felt there should have been other children created a whole range of deep internal conflicts that likely were the root of her problems.

This is clearly not Zoe’s experience. After learning of her mother’s abortion, she wrote: “I will never forget that experience, but I am kind of glad it happened. I have taken the pro-life movement even more seriously than before. I want to be able to say I avenged my big brother David by abolishing abortion, and I am confident that I am part of the generation that will do that.”

I haven’t had a chance to confer with Dr. Ney about this, but it seems to me that the difference between Zoe and the 6-year-old, and how each of them copes with the internal awareness of someone missing, is the way abortion was treated in their respective homes.

Although Zoe’s mom kept the truth about her own abortion from her children until she thought they were mature enough to handle it, abortion, and efforts to end it, are front and center in their lives.

And even above that pro-life commitment, and as strong, or stronger, than their familial bond, is Zoe’s family’s faith. Her mother suggested she speak to a priest after learning of the abortion, and he suggested visiting Jesus in the Tabernacle. Zoe prayed for understanding, as her mother before her had prayed for forgiveness. Both were freely given by a God who loves us no matter what we do. He always knows we can do better and if we’re listening, he tells us how. Zoe’s mother became a member of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and she speaks publicly of her abortion regret. Her testimony is valuable to the pro-life movement, but its price is above rubies for her daughters.

In his 2011 piece, Dr. Ney wrote that one of the most important factors in determining whether or not a woman will have an abortion is whether her mother had one. The forgiveness that Zoe’s mother asked for and received, and the way she has raised her children since, has broken the chain for her family.

Let’s pray that all families wounded by abortion will find a way to break that chain.

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“Life is Always a Good”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Jen and Kevin Sheridan with their son, Owen, and daughter, Aubrey.

Jen and Kevin Sheridan with their son, Owen, and daughter, Aubrey.

There are few happy endings when doctors pronounce a child in the womb to be “incompatible with life.” But miracles – and good medicine – do happen.

In the Huffington Post, Nicole Stewart wrote of her abortion at 22 weeks after a doctor made that pronouncement. Her post doesn’t detail the problems the doctor diagnosed, but a story from the Dallas News in January gives a few more clues. The baby boy’s brain was “abnormal.” Fluid was building up in his brain and lungs. He would lose the ability to swallow.

Ms. Stewart and her husband made the decision to take the life of their wanted and loved child, and they feel it was the right decision. She speaks publicly about it, and receives kudos for being one of the few women brave enough to talk out loud about her abortion. Of course, the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign have been doing that since 2003, but that’s another subject.

But a few weeks before the Dallas News was congratulating Ms. Stewart for her courage in talking about her abortion, a couple in Johnstown, Pa., was reaping the rewards of their courage – and their faith. Jen and Kevin Sheridan, a devout Catholic couple who already were the parents of a baby girl, learned that something was seriously wrong with the baby boy in Mrs. Sheridan’s womb. She was about 14 weeks pregnant when doctors told the couple that a neural tube defect called an encephalocele was causing a portion of the baby’s brain to grow outside of his skull. Abortion was never an option for the Sheridans.

By the time baby Owen was born at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Dec. 6, 2013, the growth was nearly seven pounds, and almost as long as his body. The couple knew that Owen might die shortly after his birth, but that boy had other plans. A team of specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital was able to remove the encephalocele and close his skull. Today Owen is four months old and a treasured member of his family. Exactly what his future will hold is unknown, but that is true for every living creature on God’s Earth.

It is not up to us to decide who is compatible or incompatible with life. It is not our right, in any circumstance, to take a life.

It takes courage and faith to travel the road the Sheridans did. And it takes a doctor willing to accompany a couple whose baby’s survival is in jeopardy. As I wrote in my book, “Recall Abortion,” those doctors can be found. Dr. Byron Calhoun is one. He is a pioneer of the perinatal hospice movement. Parents who know their children might not live long after birth are prepared for that eventuality. They have family with them for the birth, and often a clergy member, and a photographer. They have a chance to hold their child, to surround him with love, to let him die with dignity. Contrast that with a shot of digoxin to the heart and a brutal dismemberment. That’s what a late-term abortion is, and we can’t pretend that choosing that kind of death for a child in the womb could ever be a loving choice.

Ms. Stewart’s experience also reminds me of a situation I encountered almost 30 years ago. A woman who had given birth to twins on Staten Island asked for help from the Mothers of Twins Club, of which I was a member. One of this woman’s twin daughters was born healthy but the other had severe complications. She needed a breathing machine and a feeding tube to live, but the family’s insurance company wanted to drop them from the policy, citing the futility of continued care for this sickly newborn.

I alerted the media, rallied the troops, and joined this girl’s parents in the fight for her life. As it turns out, this is another happy ending for a child whose life was considered not worth saving. She is in her late 20s now. She had a rough start, with lots of medical intervention, but she survived and is now a young woman, a college graduate with a bright future.

Nicole Stewart and her husband made the choice they thought was right. But they were wrong. As Blessed St. John Paul II, who will be canonized this month, often said, “Life is always a good.”

Posted in Abortion, Abortion Complications, Faith, Family, Health Care, Silent No More Awareness, Uncategorized |
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Santa Penguin? Not in my house!

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

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Should I be making plans to take my grandchildren to see Santa Penguin, right after we decorate the Holiday tree?

NO!

I try not to let the secularization of Christmas get me down, because it is a beautiful and sacred season that I look forward to every year. But this year, the rhetoric around Christmas has gotten downright disheartening.

For one thing, the American Atheists are back in Times Square with a billboard that suggests we take Christ out of Christmas, because the really important things about Christmas are the Rockettes, presents and Chinese food (included, I suppose, because Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas, offering sustenance to the fictional family of “A Christmas Story” and to real-life Jewish families).

But it’s the penguin that’s really got my goat. Slate magazine blogger Aisha Harris suggested in a post that we ditch the pink-cheeked Santa in favor of a penguin, because kids of every color like penguins and no one will feel excluded. She recalls her childhood, when she would see white Santas in the mall and black Santas in her neighborhood. When she asked her father why. “My father replied that Santa was every color. Whatever house he visited, jolly old St. Nicholas magically turned into the likeness of the family that lived there.”

What a wise and wonderful father, offering up what I thought was a perfect answer. But Ms. Harris didn’t buy it. She goes on to say how she felt so ashamed of her dark skin because she thought the real Santa must be white. I hope that’s not true, because I hate to think of any child being ashamed of who she is. But I’m also tired of the annual attempts to make me feel guilty for being a Christian.

I believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. I celebrate His birth at Christmas, mourn His death on Good Friday and revel in His resurrection on Easter Sunday. I was born and raised a Catholic and the church welcomed me back with open arms even after I had left it for years. One of the most beloved Christmas traditions is to tell children about Santa Claus, a jolly old man who lives in the North Pole and delivers gifts to good children all over the world. To young Christmas celebraters, it’s enchanting to think about Santa visiting every home all over the world. Santa is completely inclusive in these young minds. You just have to be good!

The legendary Santa Claus sprang from the real-life St. Nicholas, a wealthy and generous young man from what is now Turkey. He became a priest, and then a bishop. I don’t know if he had rosy red cheeks, but I do know he was not a penguin. He was an actual flesh-and-blood human being. His first act of beneficence saved young girls who were on the verge of being sold into slavery. His story spread throughout Europe, and Europeans brought him, and their traditions of giving each other small gifts, with them to the New World. The legend spread and morphed and St. Nicholas became Santa Claus, known for his trademark red suit and his bowl-full-of-jelly tummy.

I am not denying that our country has been, and in many ways still remains, divided by race. But Santa Claus is not the culprit. The fact that black Santas existed in Ms. Harris’s childhood was a sign that African-Americans had embraced this delightful custom as part of their (very Christian) celebration of Christmas, but ornament makers and greeting card designers hadn’t yet caught up.

I don’t know if Ms. Harris will take any solace from this, but every child worries that the Santa on whose lap they are perched is not the real one. The hope that he might be is part of the magic of Christmas.

Somehow, I just don’t see a penguin pulling that off.

Posted in Catholic Church, Christmas, Faith, Family, Holidays / Feast Days |
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