‘Choosing Joy’: Baby Abby was only given a ‘slim chance’ of survival, but abortion wasn’t an option
BALTIMORE, Maryland, February 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Julie Leach could not shake off that uneasy feeling. She and her husband Matt had witnessed the number of pictures the sonographer had taken of their 20-week-old baby. Now Julie felt that something must surely be wrong. Matt tried to reassure his wife that the baby was probably in a weird position and that it had been difficult for the doctor to get the right picture.
But Julie’s intuition was right.
A call from the doctor’s office the next day revealed that the baby’s jaw was measuring too small. A level two sonogram confirmed that the baby had micrognathia, a condition where the jaw is not in proportion to the rest of the head and causes the infant to have problems with breathing and eating.
After the sonogram, the doctor mentioned the option of abortion, but Matt and Julie made it clear that this was not an option for them or their baby.
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Matt and Julie remember receiving the baby’s diagnosis as a “tough piece of information” but they were convicted that no human life is in vain and that they would love their baby for the “beautiful and amazing spirit” that they were certain she would possess. The parents were delighted to discover that they were having a girl.
“Naturally, this is not what we would want for our daughter. Who would? However, we know that there is a wonderful plan already set for her life and it’s our job to support her and help her to fulfill that plan.”
They named their unborn daughter Abby, which means “God is joy.”
At 29-weeks Julie began experiencing preterm labor. Because little Abby could not swallow, excess amniotic fluid had accumulated in Julie’s amniotic sac and triggered labor. Julie was ordered to a specialist hospital, two hours away from her husband and young son Caleb, where she was confined to bed rest and closely monitored for the next five weeks. During this time, Julie had two amnioreductions where doctors syphoned liters of amniotic fluid to keep her body from going into labor.
The day for labor finally arrived. Julie had made it to 34 weeks. Doctors from the NICU told Julie to wait to push until everything was set up to help Abby once she had made her grand entrance. A doctor broke Julie’s waters just after midnight, giving her permission to push.
After three more pushes, the little girl was born. Matt remembers that Abby shot out so quickly, what he jokingly calls “rocket launcher style,” that the doctor barely managed to catch her.
Abby Elizabeth Joy was born October 22, 2010. She weighed 4 lbs, and was 17 inches long. “I must say, delivering a 4 lb. baby is much easier than a full-term baby! I felt pretty darn good,” remembers Julie.
Julie says it was surreal to see her little Abby for the first time in the NICU, mixed up in a tangle of wires and tubes. “The foot wrapped in gauze is the same foot that kicked me and stepped on my bladder. The tiny hands curled up next to her mouth were in the same position they were during so many of the sonograms. The hair that we saw floating in the amniotic fluid, the same hair that was admired by so many sonographers, is every bit as long and full as everyone said.”
Later that morning, doctors told Matt and Julie that their daughter had Cerebrocostomandibular Syndrome, a rare syndrome that affects the brain, ribs, and jaw. Julie remembers that it looked as if someone had “taken a hammer” to her daughters ribs.
The doctors gave Abby a very “slim chance” of leaving the NICU alive. “They gave us lots of statistics that showed us the odds were stacked against her. They pointed out every little physical imperfection on her body, from her ears, to the bridge of her nose, to her fingers. They told us that she would never sit up, much less walk.”
The parents were asked what should be done if Abby went into cardiac arrest.
“I tearfully answered that we wanted them to do whatever they could,” said Julie.
The doctor’s response of “Oh… really?” deeply saddened the parents.
“The doctor who was supposed to be fighting for her life obviously felt that her life had little value. We were told that if she survived, she would be little more than a vegetable. While this is certainly not news that parents want to hear, we knew that God had a plan for her life and that we would love her just the way she was.”
Abby spent the first five days of her life struggling to breathe until she had an emergency tracheostomy after a failed intubation. Matt and Julie constantly prayed over their little daughter and sang to her over and over again Chris Tomlin’s song “Our God.”
Matt and Julie felt that the words of the song spoke directly to their situation.
“Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.”
Weeks went by and Abby’s breathing continued to improve. Finally, after three months, Abby was allowed to go home.
“It was one of the happiest days of our lives and a huge answer to prayer,” said Julie.
“Since we’ve been home, we have learned a ton about the ‘joys’ of home nursing, medical red tape, federal healthcare, and anatomy. We’ve had our share of unplanned hospital stays and even one helicopter ride where we very nearly lost our girl.”
The parents credit their daughter’s outcome to the power of God. Not only has Abby’s crooked and hunched spine completely straightened out, but her ribs have begun calcifying. The gaps close to her sternum have inexplicably closed up. Specialists have told the parents that she will not need to have any rib surgeries to close the remaining gaps.
Now at 16 months, young Abby still makes use of a ventilator to help her breathe at night. Not only is she crawling, but she has learned how to walk with the aid of a push-walker.
“This has been quite a journey,” the parents say, “but we are so thankful to God for giving Abby a fighting spirit. That spunkiness has helped her to make it this far and has been such an encouragement to us.”
“We have been amazed again and again by God’s grace and faithfulness to us. He has provided in ways we never could have imagined, and we know that He has chosen us to be Abby’s parents. It is not our job to question why He gave her this condition. No, our job is to love Abby and raise her to love God.”
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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