Patrick Craine

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Hope for infertility: ‘Infertile’ couple gives birth thanks to cutting edge natural treatment

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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OTTAWA, Ontario, January 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Infertility has approached epidemic levels in Western countries.  In 2002, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 7.3 million women suffered from infertility in the country, about 12% of the reproductive-age population.  Many of these millions are sped along to IVF doctors; robbed of the joys of natural procreation, they are often slated to endure years of heartache as they strive unsuccessfully for a child.

Pierre and Heidi Desrochers of Ottawa were one of those couples.  Married in 2005, the young pair learned in October 2007 that Heidi suffered from advanced endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, and possible polycystic ovarian disease.  They were told their chances of conceiving and bearing a child were slim.

The couple was referred in December 2007 to the Ottawa Fertility Centre, which specializes in assisted reproductive technologies.  The doctor told them IVF was their only option.

“It was really difficult for us to believe that a conclusion could be drawn just after one surgery, without conducting any other tests,” said Heidi.  “We still didn’t understand the cause of my infertility.”

Convicted against IVF by their Catholic faith, they were unsure where to go.  “We didn’t have any other option at that point,” she said.  “We basically felt abandoned by our doctors, and we were really grieving not being able to have a child.  It was a deep emotional pain.”

In the midst of their struggle, the Desrochers were introduced to the new reproductive science NaProTechnology. A natural, fertility-care approach to women’s health, the method was developed by Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers of the Creighton University School of Medicine based on thirty years of research into the woman’s fertility cycle.

The Desrochers began consulting with a NaPro doctor at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre in Toronto, and were sent down to Nebraska for surgery with Dr. Hilgers, who has pioneered specialized microsurgical techniques to heal women’s reproductive systems.

Only one month after the surgery, Pierre and Heidi conceived their “miracle baby” Daniel Raymond Joseph Desrochers, who was born August 11, 2009.

“I was overjoyed and so grateful to God for this tremendous blessing and gift.  I was also very surprised that it happened so quickly after my surgery,” said Heidi.  “NaPro does take some effort and patience and it is not always easy, but in the end, it was worth it!”

NaProTechnology - Successful, Natural, Cost-Effective, Ethical

Though widely ignored in medical circles, NaPro has been hailed as a cost effective and morally acceptable solution that has consistently shown better outcomes for mother and child than assisted reproduction.  There are fewer miscarriages, and no increased rate of multiple pregnancies.

A 2004 study by Dr. Hilgers’ Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska found NaPro up to 81% effective at achieving pregnancy, depending on the condition, whereas success rates for IVF have ranged from 21-27%.

Besides infertility, the method has been effective in treating miscarriage, irregular cycles, ovarian cysts, premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression and many other women’s health conditions.

Dr. Julia Cataudella, a medical consultant and NaPro specialist at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Centre, told LifeSiteNews that the idea behind NaPro is to identify and treat the underlying problems with the woman’s physiology.

“Infertility is seen as a symptom of disease.  It’s an end sign that something’s not right,” she explained.  “So if you can identify what it is that’s not right, and correct it, then conception can occur naturally because you know the fertile times and you’ve optimized the conditions of fertility - cervical mucus production might need to be enhanced for example.”

Dr. Cataudella said NaPro relies on knowing the phases of the woman’s cycle, not only in general, but also the cycle of the individual woman.  “That cycle reflects the communication between the ovaries and the brain, so it’s quite delicate and complex, and it can only be done through fertility awareness,” she said.

The woman charts her cycle using the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System, a standardized assessment using biomarkers such as cervical mucus and menstrual bleeding.  Besides pinpointing the woman’s fertile periods with precision, the chart allows her and her medical practitioner to observe her body’s rhythm and identify abnormalities that need to be treated.  According to Dr. Cataudella, the treatment is often administered at specific points in the cycle - at the time of fertility, or just after ovulation, for example.  This timing is often crucial to the treatment’s effectiveness.

The Struggle to Get the Word Out

Despite NaPro’s common-sense approach and documented benefits, most doctors who have heard of it remain skeptical, and its proponents have struggled to get their findings published.

“People are definitely pushed toward the [assisted reproductive technologies] instead of looking at the root cause,” said Desrochers.  But she thinks doctors also opt for that approach simply because they don’t fully understand the woman’s cycle, knowledge of which she believes the medical profession lost when oral contraceptives were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s.  She said the problem was exacerbated in the 1970s when assisted reproductive technologies took off.

“Back in 2007 when I was seeing that gynaecologist, her first solution for me was the oral contraceptive pill,” explained Desrochers.  While it would have helped with the pain from her endometriosis, she said, “it simply masks the pain [and] the underlying issue. ... It’s a band-aid solution, because it overrides the menstrual cycle instead of treating the problem.”

“[NaPro is] not often taken very seriously, because it’s not very technological,” said Dr. Cataudella.  “You’re not intervening with pipettes and microscopes to cause the fertilization.”  She also said there appears to be “a moral boundary” for doctors who believe in contraceptives like the pill.

The Dangers and Failures of IVF

The major pioneer of IVF, Dr. Robert Edwards, was honoured with a Nobel Prize this fall, for bringing “joy to infertile people all over the world.”  Yet the evidence and experience of NaPro suggests the advent of IVF has resulted in unnecessary physical harm and emotional heart ache for countless infertile couples and their families.

Dr. Cataudella pointed out that the failure to diagnose the underlying causes of infertility results in major health problems in women.  Beyond simply the inability to bear children, infertility is a symptom of diseases - such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease, anovulation, and tubal occlusion - that can lead to long-term disability, a lower quality of life, and even premature death.  Women who are infertile can suffer pelvic pain and irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems, and are at increased risk for heart attack and diabetes, as well as ovarian and breast cancer.

The failure to diagnose underlying causes is also one of the reasons why there are so many failed attempts at IVF, said Desrochers.  “Sometimes the uterine environment is hostile, the baby can’t even implant in it because there might be something that they haven’t diagnosed,” she said.

Dr. Cataudella agreed, saying that the approach is always the same with IVF.  “It doesn’t matter what the problem is.  Every person gets the same treatment,” she said.  “‘Let’s just do the conception for you, and hope that it takes.’  Ultimately the results aren’t that great.”

IVF has also been shown to endanger children.  Desrochers said that when she and Pierre went into the Ottawa Fertility Centre, the doctor tried to appeal to their Catholic sensibilities by claiming that the facility would use all of the couple’s embryos in the IVF process.

But, as she later learned, the claim was false because a high percentage of the embryos are lost simply through the process of freezing and thawing.  Not only that, but in many cases where multiple embryos implant in their mother, the undesired babies are “culled,” “selectively reduced,” or in layman’s terms, killed.

A growing body of evidence is revealing a much higher level of birth defects in babies born through IVF, including heart valve defects, cleft lip and palate, and digestive system abnormalities.  In 2010, a French study - the largest yet on the subject - found that assisted reproductive technologies double the baby’s risk of deformity.

Besides the physical dangers, there’s also the simple fact that IVF children are conceived in a lab, denied the right to be conceived naturally.  “IVF is definitely not an option for us,” said Desrochers.  “IVF replaces the physical expression of love between husband and wife, and children are treated as commodities.”

“Pierre and I feel that the child is not an object over which we have a right, or own, but the child is a gift, and life is sacred from the moment of conception,” she added.

Restored Health for the Future

Because the focus is on promoting the woman’s health, NaPro aims to restore fertility in the long-term, meaning there is a much better chance of conceiving naturally into the future.

Pierre and Heidi are hoping and praying that Daniel will have a sibling soon.  They’ve been told that Heidi’s endometriosis could return, and a test recently found that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked again.  They conceived Daniel so quickly that they hadn’t completed the process, so now they are working with a NaPro doctor to balance Heidi’s hormones.

Heidi has been trying to share her experience in the hopes of helping other couples who struggle with infertility - in a recent letter to the Ottawa Citizen, for example, and an article in the Winter 2010 newsletter of the Companions of the Cross, a Canadian community of priests based in Ottawa.

“[NaPro is] morally acceptable, maintains the integrity of the human person, and respects the dignity of women and of marriage,” said Desrochers.


Learn more about NaProTechnology and the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction’s website.

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Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops' Conference http://chiesacattolica.it
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Church ‘discriminates’ against ‘unconventional couples’: leader of Italian Bishops’ Conference

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By Hilary White

The secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference has said that “unconventional couples” suffer “discrimination” and “prejudice” from the Church.

Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in Orvieto organized by the Liturgical Renewal Centre, Bishop Nunzio Galantino gave a clear signal when he said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” he said, according to the Italian bishops' newspaper, Avvenire.

Bishop Galantino stopped short of openly advocating that the prohibition be dropped, saying, “With sincerity, we should also recognize that other believers perceive the discipline of the Church as an exclusion of these brothers and sisters, and, at times, observe them with a look of injury,” an attitude he called “de facto discrimination.” Although, he added, “they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Galantino's office for clarification by phone and e-mail but did not hear back by press time.

A number of prominent clerics have recently placed themselves in a growing camp of supporters for the suggestion that the Church should simply drop its prohibition on distributing Communion to Catholics 'remarried' outside the Church. At February’s consistory of cardinals, German Cardinal Walter Kasper argued the Church should allow Communion for those who have undertaken a “period of penance” but who have no intention of regularizing their situations. The cardinal claims that this would have no impact on Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The Catholic Church, taking its foundation from the words of Christ in the Gospels, teaches that divorce is impossible and that a person who undertakes a civil divorce and then “remarries” is in reality committing adultery. Adultery being a grave, or “mortal” sin, those in such situations cannot receive Communion until they have been sacramentally absolved and have changed their living situations.

According to Galantino, “Eucharistic celebration should be ‘a place where everyone feels at home,’ including migrants, faithful in irregular marriage situations, the disabled, the sick, the poor, the elderly and children.” 

Paraphrasing the title of one of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate, Bishop Galantino said that the key was an “attitude of charity in truth.” In dealing with those in irregular marital situations, he said that in the Church “we must honestly admit that we have no longer insisted on the truth when we haven’t exercised charity.”

“I speak of that pastoral charity,” he said, “which is the primary responsibility of the pastors of the Church, but also other members and the Christian community as a whole, that pastoral charity which for people facing marriage and family difficulties means acceptance, understanding, accompanying and support.” 

He said that those who live in such “irregular” situations “live their condition with great suffering” and “perceive the discipline of the Church as very strict, not inclusive, if not punitive.” 

Zenit news service also noted that Galantino said the Christians should follow the example of Pope Francis and adopt the attitude of a Church that “goes out” and “takes the initiative” to be “friendly” and “close the gap.” He held up Cardinal Kasper and the Dominican priest Yves Congar as theological leaders, saying that in the past the Church has looked up on people who were divorced and civilly remarried as “adulterers,” but added that the world has moved on from such opinions.

Cardinal Kasper’s suggestion immediately unleashed a storm of controversy after he presented in February. His keynote address at the consistory received scorching criticism both from lay commentators and high-ranking clerics who have said that such a practice would be “impossible.” Kasper’s speech was intended as a prelude to the deliberations on the various issues surrounding the family at the upcoming Synod of Bishops, set for the Vatican in October.

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Kasper, a prominent and very public theological opponent of Pope Benedict XVI, has given interviews in the US and elsewhere promoting his idea of allowing Communion for divorced and remarried people as a matter of “compassion.” The issue has long been a “hot button” one for the Catholic Church in Germany, whose bishops have spearheaded the movement in the face of falling Church revenues.

Bishop Galantino was hand picked by Pope Francis to fill the position of secretary of the powerful Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops in a country where the Church still wields considerable influence in secular politics.

In May this year, Galantino angered pro-life advocates around the world when he told an interviewer that he does not “identify” with those Catholics who pray the Rosary outside abortion facilities.

“I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics who practice interruption of pregnancy,  [‘l’interruzione della gravidanza’] but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work,” he said.

He added, “In the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing.”

His comments were strongly criticized by Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life in the US, and by John Smeaton, the head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Fr. Pavone responded, “When somebody says that the Church has ‘concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia,’ I take it as a compliment for the success of ministries like Priests for Life, which have called and will call upon the clergy, and indeed the entire Church, to sound the alarm about these atrocities more loudly and clearly than ever. Nor will we stop calling for that until the killing stops.”

John Smeaton, in an open letter addressed to Galantino, said, “I thought I would let you know that I do identify with the person outside the abortion clinic praying their rosary, whether or not the person is expressionless.”

“It’s probably fair to say that tens of thousands of unborn children, each one made in the image and likeness of God, are killed every day throughout the world. For example, there are 500 killed daily in Britain, thousands in the US, thousands upon thousands in China, to name just three of the world’s 193 countries.”

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Julie Ralph

My 7-year-old son found porn on his iPod, even with a filter

Julie Ralph
By Julie Ralph

A few weeks ago an article went viral on my Facebook feed entitled “The Day My 10-Year-Old Discovered Hardcore Porn on his iPhone.”  As one Mom after another shared and commented about how frightening and horrible it was and wondered what do we do to prevent it, I commented on several of those shares (perhaps a little smugly and proudly) that WE had installed an excellent filtering program on all of our devices that even filters YouTube.  I most likely left the impression that WE have no worries in this house, that our kids can watch their iPods and kindles, even those annoying Minecraft how to videos on YouTube, and WE don’t have to worry about them seeing filth. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

I could have entitled this blog post “The Day My 7-Year-Old Discovered Porn on His iPod” but it might look like I’m trying to one-up that other Mom.  Which I’m not.  Because, trust me, this is one Mom competition I’d rather lose. 

This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.

So YES we have this supposedly great and awesome filter on all of our devices and we pay about $70 a year for it.   Look, I’ve been on my computer trying to shop for a swimsuit at Lands End and the filter blocked me.  Annoying, yes.  But assuring.  I remember thinking wow….if I can’t even get on here and see the tummy-sucking-miracle-fat-hiding-mawmaw-swimsuits, my boys will NEVER be able to discover Victoria or her Secret.   And I’ve been on YouTube trying to see how to quickly defrost CHICKEN breasts, and it blocked several videos AND ads that probably had nothing to do with fowl or a thawing method.  Again I remember thinking, good.  This is really good.  Nothing to worry about.

Then last night happened.

My youngest son was visibly shaken as he was getting ready for bed.  I knew something was wrong when I saw he was wearing his flannel pajamas with the mountain bears printed all over them on one of the hottest August nights this month.   He seemed almost disoriented and I asked him if he was sick as he was trying to quickly crawl into bed and pull the covers over his head.   He then reached over to the bedside table, grabbed his little iPod, and tossed it to me saying he doesn’t deserve it anymore because he is bad.  “I’m bad, so bad….I saw bad things.”  My heart started racing and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Because I knew where this was going.  Very calmly and quietly I assured him he was not bad and there was nothing in the world he could ever tell me that would make me think he was bad.  “What did you see, sweetheart?” I asked.  After about ten minutes of me coaxing it out of him, with a wobbly still-tiny-smidge-of-baby-left voice he told me he was searching for a word he had heard and he spelled it for me.  T-t-i-s.  (I quickly unscrambled and knew what he meant).  He went on to tell me he searched for this on YouTube (the app is not even on his iPod….he must go through the “filter” app to access it!).   He told me he saw pictures and videos.

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My stomach turned.  I ran through all the “How To” files I’d stored away in my mind.  You know those files….situations you’ve thought about as a Mom and how you’d handle…you file them away for another day.  Usually one you hope will never come.   Turns out I didn’t have a file for this.  Because I honestly thought we had done everything on the front end to keep it from happening. 

I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled him close and started talking to him from my broken heart.  I asked him if he knew what that word meant before he searched for it.  He said no.  I told him it is a very crude and ugly word for something that is not crude and ugly.  I told him what the proper word is and I asked him if he knew why God made them like that on women?  He said no.  I told him it was the miraculous and wonderful way that God made women able to feed their babies.  I told him how every woman who has those is made to feed a baby, and those women in those pictures and videos are either already someone’s Mommy or they will be one day.  And what God meant for a beautiful purpose is twisted and made into something very wrong and ugly by those pictures and videos.

Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.

We continued to talk and then we prayed together and I left him to sleep as I walked back to my room for a sleepless night.  I cried for the ugly, messed up, twisted, and sick world out there that I can’t protect my children from.  I cried for what he had seen that I couldn’t un-see for him.  I cried because I had abdicated MY parenting duties to some stupid computer software that I thought would protect my children.  I cried because I can never get back that bit of innocence he lost way, way too early.  I cried as I went onto YouTube, put in that same search and saw just the thumbnails of what he had to have seen.  I just can’t bring myself to actually click on the videos.  I cried because, when I went in to check on him later, he was curled up with Big Bear in one arm and his little blue and white checked blanket in the other.  He’s still a baby. 

I’m mad now.  And I really hope my anger continues to burn because I need it to fuel my diligence.   I need my guard to be up and to stay up.  This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.  I know there are those who would say I’m being overly dramatic, that I can’t put my children in a bubble, blah blah blah.  I don’t care.  I will do whatever it takes to protect my children until their minds, bodies and emotions are better prepared to grasp, filter, and sort through the warped and ugly parts of our world that are pulling on them.  I will continue to pull back and hold on for dear life.   Don’t do as I did, friends.  Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.  Do as I am doing now.  Uninstall any and all browsers or video apps on your kids’ personal devices and set the restrictions where they can’t install apps anymore without asking you first.   Have one central computer in a public area of your home that they may use, with permission, and still with filter software installed.  But remember that’s not the first line of defense in this war.

You are.

Julie Ralph blogs at Mommy, Esquire, where this piece was originally published.

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Sen. Ted Cruz's wife douses him with water as part of the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS research. Youtube
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Sen. Ted Cruz: Do the ALS challenge, donate to pro-life institute

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By Dustin Siggins

One of the nation's most prominent senators is doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- but encouraging donations to a pro-life ALS research institute.

In the last month, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, sponsored by the ALS Association, has raised tens of millions of dollars for research for the disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, in mid-August pro-life leaders raised awareness that the Association supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Embryonic stem-cell research includes the destruction of a human embryo, and is thus condemned by pro-life advocates as an abortion. The Association has said it currently has one project that uses embryonic stem cells, funded by an outside donor.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Cruz -- who took the challenge last week -- said that he and his wife "are proud to personally support the John Paul II Medical Research Institute the Home of Give Cures (http://jp2mri.org), which conducts groundbreaking research into curing this terrible disease, without using embryonic stem cells."

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"The JPII Institute respects human life, and is working to improve the lives of all of us," said Cruz. 

The ALS Association has said donors may specify their dollars not be used to fund embryonic stem-cell research. However, critics note that donated funds are fungible, meaning they potentially free up funds the Association can then direct to illicit research.

At least two Catholic dioceses have encouraged Ice Bucket Challenge participants to donate to the JPII Medical Institute.

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