Arland Nichols

Good news for women as more Catholic physicians follow Church teaching

Arland Nichols
By Arland Nichols
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September 12, 2012 (CrisisMagazine.com) - A wave of excitement is gradually making its way through a small community of Catholics in Houston, Texas. Married couples who embrace the Church’s teaching in Humanae vitae and who use natural family planning have waited too long. Houston, which boasts one of the largest and most highly regarded medical systems in the world has, for twenty years, been without an OB/GYN who adheres to the principles of Catholic teaching and good medicine by declining to do abortions, perform sterilizations, prescribe contraception, or resort to immoral infertility “treatments.”

But the wait will soon be over and a buzz is in the air—an authentically Catholic OB/GYN practice is opening its doors this September. A young and energetic physician, Kathryn Karges and her staff are launching Caritas Complete Women’s Care, an apostolate rooted in a deep respect for the dignity of women and the best of medical practice, a common denominator in similar medical practices around the nation.

The exciting news out of Houston reveals a positive trend that is slowly but steadily making its way through the United States. But this steady growth did not happen overnight. It’s a sad and familiar story: Pope Paul VI’s landmark and prophetic encyclical, Humanae vitae, was met with widespread confusion and outright disobedience from many clergy and lay Catholics alike. Eventually the dissent against Paul VI’s affirmation of the Church’s consistent teaching about contraception, would leave the Catholic medical community nearly bereft of physicians practicing women’s health who did so in accord with Church teaching. Obstetric and gynecological care that did not routinely involve contraception and sterilization was virtually unheard of.

Perhaps most instrumental in challenging the contraceptive status quo among physicians is Dr. Thomas Hilgers, who read Humanae vitae as a young doctor and felt called by God to respond to the Holy Father’s words:

It is particularly desirable that, according to the wish already expressed by Pope Pius XII, medical science succeed in providing a sufficiently secure basis for a regulation of birth, founded on the observance of natural rhythms…. Let them persevere, therefore, in promoting on every occasion the discovery of solutions inspired by faith and right reason, let them strive to arouse this conviction and this respect in their associates. Let them also consider as their proper professional duty the task of acquiring all the knowledge needed in this delicate sector, so as to be able to give to those married persons who consult them wise counsel and healthy direction, such as they have a right to expect. (HV 24, 27)

In response to Paul VI’s exhortation, Hilgers developed the body of research that would become the Creighton Method and NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology). Once all but alone in a sea of dissent, these days Hilgers is anything but. Physicians and practitioners young and old are following his lead, contributing invaluable research and providing the best medical care to women. Doctor Patrick Yeung at Saint Louis University is performing cutting-edge and minimally invasive surgery on women suffering from endometriosis. Ann Nolte, a family physician, directs the Gianna Center in New York, as she and her staff provide life- and marriage-affirming care to women of all ages. The Tepeyac Family Center in Northern Virginia boasts a practice of 5 physicians who follow the teaching of Humanae vitae. And now Kathryn Karges is opening Caritas Complete Women’s Care on the campus of Saint Joseph’s Hospital—a secular hospital in the Houston Medical Center.

These are only a few examples of a growing trend toward natural methods of family planning and solutions to infertility, an astounding accomplishment in today’s health care environment. Some 400 medical practices have now incorporated NaPro Technology into their practice and adhere to the Church’s teaching concerning reproductive health. Twelve surgeons have been formally trained through the fellowship program in medical and surgical NaPro Technology and five more will soon receive this state of the art training. Further, there are now 260 “FertilityCare” Centers where trained practitioners teach the Creighton Model which is at the heart of the medical practice. The American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals, which is a thriving and active professional organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning and NaPro Technology, is impacting lives and marriages throughout our nation.

What makes NaPro Technology unique is that as a family planning system it is entirely integrated with a woman’s health and can be used to identify and successfully treat various unique health issues women face. Doctor Karges recently explained, “I am so happy that by practicing NaPro Technology I am able to treat the cause of a woman’s problems, rather than simply use a “band-aid” approach to providing medical care. It not only completely abides by the teachings of the Catholic Church, but it simply makes for good medicine.” NaPro Technology is effective in spacing children and helping couples achieve pregnancy—and, importantly, it is also usually more effective than immoral methods! As Doctor Hilgers recently wrote, it is “a new women’s health science that specializes in working cooperatively (as opposed to suppressively or destructively) with a woman’s menstrual and fertility cycle.” This is authentic and dignity-affirming health care for women.

Doctors Hilgers, Yeung, Nolte, and Karges are committed to stem the tide of the contraceptive culture that views a woman’s fertility as a disease and impediment to her dignity. For this reason, Caritas and other similar clinics are committed to following the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and they do not perceive these ethical directives as an unwelcome burden nor abide by them begrudgingly because their Bishop is forcing them to do so. Rather they share the Church’s conviction that

Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instructions both about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning…. A Catholic health care institution that provides treatment for infertility should offer not only technical assistance to infertile couples but also should help couples pursue other solutions. (ERD 42, 44)

Like so many of her peers, Doctor Karges notes that the Directives speak directly to her as a physician and call her to something higher than “simply providing medical care.” Physicians, she notes, also have a responsibility to follow and educate their patients in Church teaching. “It is important to understand the how and why behind these directives. They are not meant to be restrictive or prohibitive. Through our practice of medicine, we are protecting married love which is sacred and is designed to be open to the co-creation of new life with God.”

Ultimately, women and families are better served by solutions that firmly adhere to the Church’s moral teaching. The women who have been healed and the marriages that have been strengthened by the moral and medical solutions to their infertility, family planning needs, and various other women’s health issues, are a living testament to the complementarity between God’s law and the true flourishing of every human person.

Arland K. Nichols is the National Director of HLI America. He writes for the Truth and Charity Forum. This article appeared in Crisis Magazine and is reprinted with permission.

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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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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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