Peter Baklinski

Texan surgeon gives hope to sterilized men seeking wholeness

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, November 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Dr. Mark Hickman would try to talk any man out of having a vasectomy any day.

He would begin by telling them all the horror stories that he has heard from the many men who have undergone the invasive procedure that unnaturally blocks tubes that are designed to carry sperm out of a man’s body.

Dr. Hickman would mention that many men become distraught after finding their sexual drive dwindle as a result of the procedure. He would highlight the men who say that their sense of wholeness and sense of well-being diminished soon after the procedure. And he would warn that many men relate symptoms of increased sensitivity and even chronic pain in their testicles after the procedure.

He would also speak about the married men who told him that eliminating the “risk” of impregnating their spouse through what they thought was consequence-free sex led them down the “slippery slope” to sexual relationships with other women.

If Dr. Hickman were speaking to a vasectomy seeker with a religious bent, he would state that “vasectomy circumvents God’s design for human sexuality and fertility”. He would mention the numerous men who related to him that immediately after their vasectomies, they left the doctor’s office and cried as they “knew in their hearts they had sinned.”

It is to be expected that men find themselves opening their hearts to Dr. Hickman with their stories of sorrow and woe. These men confide in him because of their hope that the good doctor will be the one to free them from anguish.

Dr. Hickman is a vasectomy reversal surgeon who has made it his life’s mission to restore infertile broken men to fertility and wholeness.

Dr. Hickman has become nationally and internationally recognized in helping men through vasectomy reversals. As a Catholic who reveres the teaching of Humanae Vitae, the landmark 1969 papal encyclical on sexuality that most famously reiterated the Church’s teaching against artificial contraception, Dr. Hickman has performed close to a thousand reversals in four years in his clinic in New Braunfels, Texas. Along with his clinical team, he performs six to eight procedures per week.

Statistics indicate that five to seven hundred thousand men undergo elective sterilization by vasectomy each year in the United States. But each year, about five percent of these men regret their decision and seek vasectomy reversal surgery.

In a field where physicians charge anywhere from nine to twenty-two thousand dollars for a reversal, Dr. Hickman strives to “bring affordable, superior care to those seeking an addition to their family”. For an all-inclusive fee of three thousand dollars, Dr. Hickman offers a “pain-free surgical procedure with a short recovery time and proven results”.

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Dr. Hickman explained to LifeSiteNews in a recent interview that while men have vasectomies for many reasons, there is always one underlining reason: they don’t want another child.

Some don’t want children for financial reasons, some because they are worried about how a pregnancy might negatively affect the health of their spouse, and some because they think they have reached the right family size.

No matter what the reason, Dr Hickman says, when a man takes the step of vasectomy, he is “basically putting himself ahead of God’s will by saying: ‘Well, I think I know a little more about what to do for my sexuality than God does.’”

Dr. Hickman called vasectomy a “disobedience to God’s plan” for men and women who were originally commanded by God when he created them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

“They want to be in control of their lives instead of putting the Lord in the rightful command position,” he said. “Hence the Catholic Church’s admonishment against it and her insistence that if one can afford it, they have it reversed.”

Dr. Hickman knows that married couples often have legitimate reasons to postpone having children, but he will tell them that getting a vasectomy is not the way to go. He recommends Natural Family Planning (NFP), a method that acknowledges God’s plan for fertility by respecting the bodies of both the man and the women. NFP, using no chemicals or artificial hormones, is based on self-observation and the use of the infertile periods.

“Natural Family Planning techniques approved by the Church allow for the responsible, meaningful and thoughtful expression of love within a marriage. Vasectomy, on the other hand, often times has more selfish motivations behind the decision to have it performed. It is an affront to God’s dominion over our lives,” he said.

Dr. Hickman pointed out that a moral regulation of fertility is not simply a Catholic issue. He related one story of an Orthodox Jew who came to his clinic for a reversal. A Rabbi had told the man that “being sterilized is being disobedient to God” and that even though the man already had four children, he could be “blessed more.”

The work of vasectomy reversal is not merely a business for the doctor; he views it as more of an “apostolate”. It is a “ministry for spreading God’s Word,” he says. He and his co-workers firmly believe in “God’s healing power” and do not shy away from sharing their convictions with their patients.

Before each reversal procedure, Dr. Hickman prays with the man lying on the operating table. The man’s wife is asked to be present during the procedure.

“Heavenly Father,” he prays, “we humbly come before you today to praise you and to pour out our thanksgiving. We are so grateful that you deal with us in your love and in your mercy. Today this man and this woman come before you to return fertility to your control.”

“I ask that you send your Holy Spirit upon this man to minimize his discomfort and to relieve his anxiety. Be with this woman as she ministers to her man. Be with my scrub-tech and myself as we operate. Guide our hands.”

“And Abba, Father, we are thanking you for the blessing that you are going to pour out on the obedience of this family. I ask that you give them the desire of their hearts. We love you Lord Jesus. Come quickly. In your mighty name I pray. Amen.”

As a man of faith, Dr. Hickman said that he and his staff are “proud of that witness, we’re not ashamed of it, we want to promulgate it and put it on display.”

Maurice Prater, director of the Missionaries of the Holy Family where Hickman serves as a member of the Apostolate Board, called Hickman’s work a “unique ministry”.

“He is performing very affordable vasectomy reversals so husbands can become fathers, either again or for the very first time,” he said to LifeSiteNews.

Prater called Hickman an example of a “faithful Catholic doctor in the midst of Obamacare’s promotion of an insidious Culture of Death.”

Hickman and his team have been performing successful reversals for long enough to receive notifications of pregnancies and births on a regular basis.

“Each time I hear of such blessings it reminds me of how, in our small way, our team is lashing back against the current culture of death that trivializes the sanctity of human life,” he said. 

Visit Dr. Hickman’s website for further information about the vasectomy reversal process.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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