Patrick Craine

Former abortionist now head of one of the largest pro-life medical practices in the U.S.

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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FAIRFAX, Virginia, March 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week the pro-life community celebrated the life of the great Dr. Bernard Nathanson, famed for his dramatic conversion from a leading abortionist to a stalwart and outspoken advocate for children in the womb.

Dr. Nathanson’s passing reminds us of the powerful testimony of the dozens of doctors who have left the squalor of their abortion facilities and committed themselves to life-giving and authentic health care.

Dr. John Bruchalski is one of these doctors.  A former abortionist in his ob/gyn residency, the 50-year-old Virginia native has now become a leading light in pro-life medicine.  Through his unique Tepeyac Family Center, one of the largest free-standing pro-life medical practices in the country, Dr. Bruchalski’s team offers a safe haven for women in crisis pregnancies, spreading hope through authentic health care that respects the natural processes of the woman’s body, the right to life of the unborn child, and the eternal end of the mother’s soul.

“How do you combine the best of modern medicine with the healing presence of Jesus Christ?  That’s what we’re about,” he told LifeSiteNews.

‘More abortion, more destruction’

Though raised in a devout Catholic family, Bruchalski says he began his exit from the faith when he left for Catholic college.  There, he was taken in by professors and friends who claimed that the Catholic Church can change with the culture - that its teachings on divorce, homosexual marriage, abortion, and contraception would eventually conform to the pervading cultural values.

“It became a non-issue - you could still be a great Catholic and choose to dissent from particular Church teachings,” he said.

By the time he entered medical school in 1983 at the University of South Alabama, contraception and abortion seemed to him “the way to promote health and happiness and wholeness in a woman’s reproductive life.”  Aiming to be the best gynecologist he could, he learned the different methods for abortion, sterilization, and artificial reproduction, and began providing them during residency.

But he began to have doubts.  “I didn’t see happiness or joy in my clinics,” he explained.  “Wherever I had more abortion, more contraception, there were more broken relationships, more infections, more destruction, more brokenness.”

“I didn’t know what to do because the professors were saying ‘Well, we just need more education, more contraception, more abortion to answer these questions,’” he added.

‘A better way to practice medicine’

Bruchalski first felt the call back to the faith of his childhood right before beginning his residency, when a friend convinced him to take a trip to Guadalupe in Mexico City.  He says there he heard Our Lady of Guadalupe - whom Catholics revere as the patroness of the unborn - ask him, “Why are you hurting me?”

Yet he wasn’t ready to respond.  “I kind of put that in the back of my mind,” he said.

Then two years later, between the 2nd and 3rd year of residency, his mother took him on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where many Catholics believe Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, has been appearing since 1981.

He says the pilgrimage reawakened the great love for Christ and Mary that his parents had nurtured in him during his childhood.  “It was the simplicity of the messages of getting back to conversion,” he explained.  “And then I had an experience there with a young woman from Belgium who was there praying for the pro-life cause.  She told me she had a message for me about Our Lady and began telling me things about my life.”

“It was life changing for me.”

When he got home, he told his professor that he could no longer commit abortions or sterilizations, though he expressed shame to LifeSiteNews that it took him a year to fully extricate himself from these anti-life procedures.

He began reading the works of Pope John Paul II, particularly the pope’s landmark addresses on the theology of the body.  He learned about natural family planning under the mentoring of Dr. Thomas Hilgers, the Couple to Couple League, Mercedes Wilson and Family of the Americas, and Dr. Hannah Klaus.  And he studied the exciting advances in natural reproductive technology pioneered by Dr. Hilgers, who founded the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska.

“When I came home, I was given the grace not only to see myself as I really was - you know, my whole life passed before me - but I actually saw that ... there was a better way to practice medicine,” he explained.  “The approach to reproductive health was the polar opposite to what Planned Parenthood was saying.  That’s what Our Lady told me my role was going to be.”

Creating a loving atmosphere where abortion becomes unthinkable

He put that vision of medicine into practice in 1994 when he founded the Tepeyac Family Center with his wife in the basement of his house.  The obstetric and gynecological medical facility now boasts six pro-life physicians and one nurse practitioner.

Based on a Catholic vision of health care, the Center promotes health practices that respect the natural rhythm of the woman’s cycle and the sanctity of human life.  They advocate natural family planning as opposed to contraceptives, and in cases of infertility they focus on treating the underlying causes rather than using assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization.

“We believe that health is based on the relationships found in community, and we believe that if we love enough in medicine we can create a loving atmosphere where abortion becomes unthinkable,” he said.  “Almost like an abortion-free zone.”

“Our approach is that we hate the disease but love the patient, especially the weakest of our brothers and sisters,” he added.

They are the only practice in the country offering full obstetrical care for patients from crisis pregnancy centers, and they have a special dedication to welcoming the poor.  Of the over 700 babies they delivered in 2009, 30% of the mothers did not have commercial insurance.

“As we tried to be a for-profit practice, ... the Blessed Mother kept saying, ‘You must see the poor in your daily life to be rewarded,’” Dr. Bruchalski said.  “It’s one thing to try to be a pro-life practice, it’s another thing to try to see the poor in your pro-life practice.”

“The renewal of medicine is going to involve both social justice - seeing the poor - and the Gospel of life.  It’s both/and, not either/or,” he said.  “You can’t be an NFP-only doctor.  You must serve the underserved.  And if you serve the underserved, in order to provide excellent cooperative medicine that treats the disease but loves the patient you have to have the basis for natural family planning in your practice.”

The Tepeyac Family Center now operates under an umbrella organization called Divine Mercy Care, which raises funds and heightens awareness through educational programs.  Their network of services includes a perinatal hospice, and in coming years they hope to offer a family practice, pediatric care, and a mental health program.

“Ideally, we would like to be a city on a hill, where you have a multi-specialty group that is dedicated to the healing and the wholeness and the healthiness of the human person in body, soul, and spirit,” he explained.  “A medical facility and a medical system where the human person is respected as he’s made in the image and likeness of our God.”

Though their services are available to people of any creed or culture, he said they believe that through medicine they can offer patients “the happiness, and wholeness, and healthiness that comes with coming to a deeper sense of the sacred in their own life.”

Offering hope for life with a child

Dr. Bruchalski said his experience working with abortion-minded women has shown him the need to focus on offering women hope for life with their child, rather than emphasizing adoption or images of fetal development.

“You can show women fetal development and many of them it doesn’t phase,” he said.  “Remember the fetus, the baby, the unborn child is an adversary to the woman, it’s going to cramp her life.”

Abortion-minded women see adoption, on the other hand, as a “double negative,” he says.  “Not only are you not qualified to be a mother and care for the child, but you have to give the child up,” he explained.  “They hate that choice, so for them the abortion becomes the best alternative, the least terrible of those options.”

“You really have to focus on [the fact] that there is life after having a child, that there is a way out of your predicament,” he said.  “Just meeting women where they are by being able to listen to their pain and their agony and their suffering, and then love them so much that we walk them through this.”

Practicing the theology of the body

The Center has a special focus on implementing John Paul II’s theology of the body, which Dr. Bruchalski says was “revolutionary for relationships, for medicine, and for families.”

He said one’s approach to medicine is profoundly impacted “if you believe that the story in Genesis is real and that we were created in the image and likeness of God, and that men and women are complementary - that we were not meant to be alone - and that our bodies speak a language to us, our actions, and that to love God and to love neighbor is what we’ve been called to do.”

“The theology of the body in medicine means that you cooperate with the body, you don’t repress it,” he explained.  “You focus on health, not disease.  You don’t treat desires, you treat the disease.  You don’t treat people like products. ...  You don’t try to go to the best doctor who creates the healthiest babies with the best techniques.  Because we’re more than products, we’re people.”

“We are just now developing the wording and the language of translating [the theology of the body] from the religious and the anthropological to the medical and the scientific,” he added.

Spreading the Gospel of life in medicine

Divine Mercy Care hopes to inspire and mentor other health care professionals to take up the Gospel of life in their practice.  In February and March Bruchalski’s spending two weeks on a speaking tour to 22 medical schools in 19 states with Medical Students for Life.

“At the heart, abortion is a medical procedure,” he said.  “We need to inspire doctors to step out in faith and become the men and women that God’s called them to be.”

His conversion experience shows that “no one is beyond God’s mercy, no one, no one,” he said.  “I was doing the abortions because I believed it was the lesser of two evils, ... yet I realized that people were just more broken after the procedure.  There might have been a brief respite from the stress and strain, but most relationships broke up after the abortion.”

“The mercy of God was what truly penetrated my heart.”

Find more information on Divine Mercy Care and the Tepeyac Family Center here.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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