(LifeSiteNews) — Imagine for a moment that someone who is performing abortions suddenly becomes pro-life. Now this is not something new, yes, but imagine further meeting him and hearing his reversion story to the Catholic faith.
Bruchalski tells me he grew up in a Polish Catholic home. His father taught Latin and religion, and the family would go to the March for Life when he was a boy. As a teenager, however, he slowly drifted away from the Catholic faith, seeking to please the people around him. In the course of conversations with female friends, Bruchalski ended up accepting “hook, line, and sinker” the feminist arguments for abortion and contraception.
Bruchalski performed his first abortion in early pregnancy while in medical school at the University of South Alabama. He began performing abortions starting at eleven weeks while at the Eastern Virginia School of Medicine, noting that the school “didn’t do elective abortions a lot, we did do eugenics abortions,” explaining that the abortion was done in the name of “mercy” for a sick infant.
Describing the attitude that mentors would have with regard to abortion, as well as his own mentality at the time, Bruchalski tells me that “it was slow at first. You do the little ones … Then you were asked to do bigger ones, and then you don’t want to disappoint your mentors and get bad recommendations.”
“The pressure of being cancelled back then wasn’t being cancelled,” Bruchalski tells me. “It was, ‘You know, you’re not cut out for this, John. I can’t argue with any faith issues, but you’re not cut out.’”
During his residency in Norfolk, Virginia, Bruchalski began performing abortions at a local hospital, and recalls the “cognitive dissonance” of attempting to save a babies at the same gestational age as a baby in the next room that he attempted to abort, something that happened regularly. In one instance, when the abortion failed, the baby was found to be five grams over the legal limit to call the neonatal intensive care unit. One of the doctors came in and told him not to “treat my patients like tumors.”
This same doctor, Dr. Debbie Plum, asked Bruchalski to speak with her after the ordeal. During the conversation, Plum told Bruchalski that he was “much better than this,” and noting that he was a former Catholic and an “excellent” doctor, told him to reconsider his position, and invited him to visit Medjugorje.
Shortly thereafter, Bruchalski visited Medjugorje with his mother at her invitation, and experienced a dramatic reversion to the Catholic faith. Later in the episode, he would stress that the intercessory prayers of his parents played a large part in the conversion, explaining: “Intercessory prayer … is real. And it’s the only way for us to lean into the wounds of Jesus Christ from the Cross and live a redeemed life.”
After his reversion, Bruchalski and his wife started Tepeyak Family Center out of their basement, with a prenatal hospice rather than offering abortion. Describing the Gospel’s impact on his work, Bruchalski tells me about the relation of faith and reason, saying “[the] Gospel of life is the foundation for social action, because it’s prayer that’s at the foundation of both. It’s the prayer every day that fills our medicine. Not to make it less scientific, but to see how the two integrate.”
Tepayak Family Center, Bruchalski explains further, is under Divine Mercy Care, an organization that helps to pay for the Center’s operations and allows for a “decent wage” to the Center’s staff.
“Medicine is an act of mercy, we call it,” Bruchalski tells me. “We talk about medicine as an act of mercy, like housing the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, counselling the doubtful, burying the dead. You become a part of the families in your community. You suffer what they suffer. You are happy when they are happy.”
When asked about what Catholic medical students should do if they feel pressured to perform abortions or other procedures that violate their consciences, Bruchalski said, “They need accompaniment. They need to know they’re not alone. They need to know that [there are] lawyers who are willing, ready, and able to come alongside them if … their rights to religious freedom are being abused or mocked.” He also mentions that organizations such as the Catholic Medical Association and American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs can help students in such situations.
Bruchalski concludes the show explaining that Catholics are called to change the culture for the better, and do so “with a heart that is full of love for the Lord to give Him the opportunity to obtain glory through His mercy, we can begin to change the culture.”
“That’s how it’s always been done,” he continues. “Saints in the Catholic tradition have always been a part of the difficult, dark moments in our history … and we want to remind each other of that.”
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