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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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

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By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted “people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees” and “wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

“A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

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By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an "enemy of the Church" would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term "mafia," he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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