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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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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