Kristi Burton Brown

‘At eight months, my doctor said he would ‘absolutely’ abort my disabled son’

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown
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March 16, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - When you walk into Nicole and Steven’s house, you get the sense that they are parents who thoroughly enjoy their three kids.  You’ll find Steven running down the narrow hallway while all the kids scream in delight, chasing each other and him.  Nicole patiently fixes healthy meals for them while explaining to the youngest that she can’t climb up on the counter to help because the crockpot is just too hot for little hands.  You’ll see Titus, their only son proudly popping wheelies in his special wheelchair while the family cheers.  They are a family who seems to enjoy the little moments; the precious memories that the years have brought.

Entering their house, you’d never guess the ordeal they went through almost four years ago.  Four years ago, Nicole was eight months pregnant with Titus, their second child.  Since she was planning for a home birth, Nicole doesn’t remember exactly why she went in for an ultrasound that fateful—and miraculous—day.

As the routine ultrasound was being performed, Nicole could tell that something was definitely up.  The doctor said nothing, but quickly called in another doctor.  They consulted together while watching the screen and leaving Nicole clueless and helpless.  For some reason, spina bifida popped into Nicole’s mind.  “Is it spina bifida?” she asked.  But the doctor couldn’t tell her anything; he just showed her what he saw on the screen.  And it wasn’t good.  Nicole and Steven were sent to a specialist, immediately.

The specialist had a huge ultrasound screen for Nicole and Steven to stare at.  While they watched their eight-month-old son move his arms and head; while they saw his little heart beat quickly, the specialist diagnosed spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and put it all out there:

He said it was the biggest lesion he had ever seen; that our son would probably never go to the bathroom on his own.  He’d never walk, never talk.  He said this based on a 30 second ultrasound.  He said, ‘I will absolutely perform the abortion for you.’  I could see Titus’ arms and head moving and his heart beating at the time the doctor said this.  He was emphatic that Titus would be basically a vegetable and mentally retarded.  And that it would be unfair to him for me to give birth.

At that moment, Nicole and Steven realized that their role in Titus’ life would be so much more than “parent.”  Their role was now “advocate”, too.  Without a word shared between them, both Nicole and Steven knew they would never accept abortion as an answer—no matter what the truth about Titus was.

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Nicole explains:  “From our faith, we believe that every life is precious—a gift from God—whether ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ or not.”  She also realized that it was divine intervention that the ultrasound had even taken place at all.  A medical professional assured Nicole that, had she gone ahead with the planned home birth, either her or Titus would have certainly died from infection.  “Nothing was left to chance,” Nicole says.  “It was all orchestrated.”

When Titus was born by c-section, Nicole was only allowed to see his face.  She couldn’t touch her son for at least two days, as he was recovering from immediate surgery for the softball-sized lesion on his back.  Though she couldn’t touch him, Nicole refused to leave Titus’ side, even sleeping on the floor of the NICU to be beside him.

Nicole firmly believes that God has defied human knowledge and wisdom through Titus’s life.  Her strong Christian faith leads her to believe that God is not controlled by the predictions of men.  She will confidently tell you that the Lord has given their family everything they need to endure Titus’ difficulties.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is there pain?  Yes.  But, Titus’ courage and preciousness overwhelms everything else.  He continues to prove the “specialist” wrong:

Every milestone, he has hit either before or right on.  He is very intelligent and able.  Titus doesn’t complain and fuss about why his legs don’t work or about anything else.  He loves to do what little boys do.  He knows his letters, numbers, and shapes—has known them since he was 2 ½.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  Titus is definitely a huge addition to our family.  This is how God made him—I fully believe this.

Nicole credits two things for helping her get through the shock of Titus’ diagnosis and giving her the strength to give him life:  her strong faith in Christ and the year she spent working at a crisis pregnancy center in California.  There, she grew in her confidence that each baby was indeed a precious individual, deserving of an equal chance at life.  She believes parents often take the words of doctors too far and begin to question, “Can I really handle this?  Is it really fair to my child?”

When I asked Nicole what she would say to other parents facing a similar diagnosis, she said:

I would say that for me, immediately, it was always either the Lord knows me or he doesn’t.  And He either knows I need this or I don’t.  Whatever happens in my life is His will for me at this time.  This means I can move mountains.  If this baby having issues or conditions is His will for me, it means I can get through it.  If you think that someone tells you from a human perspective what you can or can’t handle, you don’t know God as the great Physician.  We shouldn’t try to alter things in our own humanness or do something without knowing all the facts.

Even Nicole’s doctor didn’t have all the facts right.  You can never know all the facts about your unborn child before they’re born.  As Nicole believes, there’s no way you should make a decision to abort a child at all, but certainly not based off an ultrasound or a test.

Off an ultrasound, you cannot know a baby or everything about them or what they’re really like.  There was no way the doctor knew all he said he knew about my son from that screen.  Lots of times, the ultrasounds or tests are wrong anyway:  when the mother says, ‘I don’t care,’ and the baby’s born, and nothing is wrong at all.  How would you feel if someone could show you what your five year old would look like and you could see them face to face—would you be happy you ended their life?

About Titus, Nicole shares,

Right away, his life was a testimony.  He’s so much fun—everyone that meets him loves him.  He’s a really special kid.  And almost everything the doctor said [besides the actual diagnosis of spina bifida and hydrocephalus] is completely wrong.

Nicole believes that more parents should educate themselves because knowledge is power.  Doctors are important, she says, and they have a purpose, but you are the parent.  The more you understand about anything you may have to go through, the more strength you’ll have for an arrow you’d otherwise not be prepared for.  Things have changed so drastically over the years for babies born with spina bifida and other conditions, and they can truly lead almost normal lives.

Of course, normality (whatever that is!) is not the measure of a person’s worth, but it’s true that people have a very wrong perception of what individuals with Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and other “disabilities” can achieve in their lives.

In the end, Nicole says, “I wouldn’t have it any other way….It doesn’t matter what the child is or isn’t—they’re a gift!”

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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