Kristi Burton Brown

Doctor insists parents choose starvation and slow death for baby born with cleft lip

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown
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January 31, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - I first heard about the Peterson family in what you might call a “chance meeting.” (Of course I don’t believe in chances; I believe that there is Someone who has a plan and a purpose behind the random occurrences in our lives.) And I firmly believe that this amazing family’s story needs to be told. It’s scary. It’s shocking. And its implications are dangerous. How many other hospitals starve babies to death, simply based on a “defect”? How many other doctors instruct new parents to leave their newborns to die or wallow in an institution for the rest of their lives?

We’re aware that many doctors in the United States recommend abortions for babies whose potential disabilities show up on ultrasounds or in prenatal testing. We’re also aware that, sadly, all too many parents choose abortionin these cases. And all too often, their babies are discovered to either be perfectly “normal” or the parents later on discover that the disability or defect was one they definitely could have lovingly dealt with, had they only beengiven accurate and complete information.

Our society has become consumer and product focused in an ultimately dangerous way. When we, the consumer, discover the news that our child, the product, is not quite up to par with our expectations, we are given the choice to end an innocent life. Perfection – though impossible to define – is the standard demanded. And who among us truly meets it?

Here are the Petersons – Quentin, Adian, and Jodi – and here is their story:

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1)   What condition was Aidan born with?

Aidan was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. This affects about 1/700 children. We had no family history of this condition. All babies at some point in their early development have a cleft, but it spontaneously “knits” together (bringing to mind the Scripture, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”), unless there is a genetic issue, if the mother is deficient in folate and from certain ethnic groups, or if the mother suffers certain viral illnesses at the time of gestation. In our case, Jodi had contracted the flu very early in pregnancy with a high fever.

2)   When did you/the doctors discover his condition?

On October 7, 1997, our 8 pound, 14 ounce son Aidan was born at a hospital in Modesto, California. Immediately after he was fully delivered, we knew something was wrong. The doctors lowered him out of our sight instead of putting him on Jodi’s stomach and began whispering to each other. That’s when they told us he was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. It did not show up on an ultrasound. We were shocked.

3)   What advice were you given?

The day after he was born, Aidan was taken into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) because he was unable to breastfeed, and was becoming dehydrated and weak. The hospital did not have the type of bottles babies with a cleft use to feed. The hospital pediatrician called my husband into the nursery and advised us to sign Aidan over to the hospital. He told us that we were still young, we could still have other children, and that these kids (kids with cleft lip and palate) tend to have neurological problems, he would require many surgeries that could bankrupt us, and that if we were foolish enough to ignore medical advice and take our baby home he would end right back at the hospital as a “failure to thrive.”

The “treatment plan” the doctor told us was that they’d give our son pain medicine, and let him die (of starvation and dehydration). Jodi began to cry and refused, at which point the doctor turned to Quentin and said, “Get her out of here, she’s being irrational.” He thought he would have a better chance at convincing Quentin to leave the baby.

He was wrong. Quentin also refused to sign the papers. We didn’t have a plan, and didn’t know where to find help, but we could not fathom abandoning our son to a certain death alone. It had to be the grace of God, to give us courage to choose life when the hospital authority was telling us otherwise. It was for both of us, the absolute scariest time in our lives.

4)   What choice did you make and why?

We chose to fight for our son and love him, and we never regretted that decision.

We couldn’t believe they were giving Aidan this death sentence, but we would not abandon him. We could not imagine anything more heartbreaking than to have a helpless child left alone for the brief entirety of his life. Even if he had one day to live, he would spend that day being loved by us.

Then God’s providence stepped in. A nurse contacted a woman who herself was born with a cleft lip and palate who ran a local support group. She brought us the cleft palate nurser bottles. (These are supposed to be in every hospital, and all nursing and medical staff are to be trained to use them since it’s a fairly common birth defect.) This meant that our baby was finally able to eat. That hungry baby took his first bottle and rested in our arms. This was an unbelievable blessing. We did take him home, and he thrived. He has had eight surgeries to correct his lip and palate and associated difficulties like ear tubes, bone grafts, and scarring, and we’re anticipating a few more in the future.

5)   Can you tell us about Aidan? What are his interests, what does he like to do with his free time?

Aidan is now 15 years old and in his freshman year of high school. He is a big brother to 13-year-old Devin (brother) and 10-year-old Kiera (sister). They’re homeschooled, and his studies include Latin, logic, literature, and math. Aidan’s a typical teenager and an avid reader, and his interests include animation, writing, history, the military, and aviation. He’s involved in his church’s teen group, and is a member or 4H. He loves going out and playing paintball with his buddies. His pets include a dog and eight chickens.

6)   Looking back on the time before Aidan was born and the advice you were given and seeing him now as a 15-year-old, what advice would you give parents in a similar position?

Love your child with complete abandon, every moment that you are blessed to be with him. Love your child for who he is, and don’t let anyone scare you about future issues. No one knows what the future holds – not for us or for our children – but we know that love is eternal. Learn everything you can about whatever ails your child (the internet is a wealth of knowledge).

Fight for your child’s healthcare. No one will have their best interest at heart but the parents; God has given you the opportunity and responsibility to be their advocate. Every person on this earth has two things in common – we’re all made in the image of God, and none of us are perfect. We all have challenges, but do they diminish our ability to give and receive love? No. So don’t put too much faith in what doctors say – they can be wrong – but put your faith in God who is never wrong.

7)   Does Aidan have any advice to give? What’s his perspective on this whole situation?

First off, I’d like to speak to everyone with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. You’re normal. The fact is that you’re just like everyone else, but you look somewhat different. I personally like to think it’s an improvement that God bestows on the lucky few and everyone else is just jealous (grinning here).

Looking back on my life, I’m very glad that my parents fought so hard for me, and disappointed that life seems to be so cheap in this generation – much like a passive waste to be disposed of if it doesn’t meet the irrationally perfect standards set forth by today’s murderous society.

What is my perspective on the situation? As I said, the world today disappoints me, and I pray it will soon end its ways. For any and all parents who are stuck in the same or similar situation that my parents were, listen up. Your kid is worth it, be he or she mentally or physically disabled. And as my mom said, if your kid only has one day to live, spend it loving your child. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes. You have one day to live, no two ways about it.

Which is better, to spend that day with your loving parents or starve to death while uncaring doctors simply pass you by, not caring at all for your plight? Answer that question and THEN make a decision on your kid’s life.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Science magazine retracts pro-gay study over phony data

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

LOS ANGELES, June 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A discredited paper that alleges LGBT activists can change the minds of traditional marriage supporters in one conversation has been formally retracted -- against the wishes of one of its authors.

On Thursday, the magazine Science said on its website that "with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green,” it is retracting the report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” which was published last December 12.

According to Science, "survey incentives were misrepresented." In the study, LaCour and Green said they had paid participants "to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys." However, Science said it "confirmed" with Green's co-author, Michael LaCour -- who has continued to defend the study -- that "no such payments were made."

Additionally, the paper misrepresented its financial sponsors. "In the report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true," said Science.

On Friday, Lacour released a lengthy statement in which he took "full responsibility for errors in the design, implementation, and data collection regarding the field experiments and panel survey reported" and apologized "for misrepresenting survey incentives and funding," though he also defended some of the survey's results.

"In fact, I received a grant offer from the Williams Institute, but never accepted the funds, the LA GLBT received funding from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund., and the Ford Foundation grant did not exist," said LaCour. Additionally, the grad student said that he "raffled Apple computers, tablets, and iPods to survey respondents as incentives. I located some of the receipts....Some of the raffle prizes were purchased for a previous experiment I conducted."

Science's final reason for retraction included the fact that "independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses. LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings."

According to LaCour, he destroyed data "in the interest of institutional requirements" at UCLA -- in other words, because that was the university's standard.

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The retraction follows more than a week of criticism that began when LaCour's co-author, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green, expressed concern about LaCour's work. Green said that the UCLA grad student's work comprised "an incredible mountain of fabrications with the most baroque and ornate ornamentation."

LaCour has maintained that the study, which was published in December 2014, should not be retracted, and his 23-page response to critics indicated that he has not changed his position.

In the meantime, LaCour has been accused of faking another study on media bias that BuzzFeed reports "was unpublished but frequently cited at scientific conferences." That study was privately critiqued by Emory University political science professor Gregory Martin a year ago. Martin decided to publicly report that criticism after the Science controversy arose. 

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James Matthew Wilson

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The joyful death of Catholic Ireland

James Matthew Wilson
By James Wilson

June 1, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- Do you remember the joke about the Irish brewery worker who drowned in a vat of suds? “Poor Sean,” the new widow said upon learning her husband’s fate, “He didn’t stand a chance.” “Oh, I wouldn’t say that, Mrs. Reilly,” replies the foreman. “He did crawl out three times to use the bathroom.”

The Republic of Ireland has just voted, by a commanding and unprecedented popular vote, to establish “gay marriage” in its territory. The world, and the Irish themselves, who generally look at themselves from the viewpoint of the foreigner in a sad kind of “double consciousness,” will not fail to read the message: “Catholic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with De Valera in the grave.”

The coverage of the vote holds it up as an occasion of joy, of national pride, of a new era in an old country. I am sure there are some who use these expressions sincerely. Modern westerners usually think of life in this world in therapeutic terms. Matters of what is sometimes called “private” morality are decided entirely in terms of the question, “How will this make me feel?” while matters of “public” morality are submitted to a utilitarian calculus the numbers of which are usually undefined or unsatisfactory, boiling down to something like, “How will such-and-such a measure affect public health?” These are the only questions one can ask, if one inhabits an impoverished world where goodness and truth, happiness and justice, are taken for mere “subjective” projections onto the wandering atoms of the universe. But this diagnosis is not my interest today, because it cannot wholly explain the queer elation in Dublin.

What I want to consider is the specific conditions in Ireland that led up to this moment. My account will be somewhat hobbled; though for a number of years I resided in Dublin regularly, I have not visited the country since 2007, and so learned of some of the more recent and traumatic events in Irish life only from the newspapers.

My days in Ireland began just after the peak of the so-called Celtic Tiger. The economy was expanding, the “ribbon effect,” or suburban sprawl was spreading out around Dublin and Galway, and the restaurants, bars, and hotels were staffed by immigrant workers, most of them from Eastern Europe.

My interest in Irish culture was incidental to begin with. I had fallen in love with the modern Irish poets, from Yeats to Mahon, for their formal dexterity. But I also loved God above all things, and viewed the love of country as little less sacred than the love of one’s father and mother. The Irish narrative of faith and fatherland, fought and died for, resonated with me and, I thought, provided an occasion to deepen my understanding of those loves. To study Irish literature, it seemed to me then, was to study the work of authors who lived and died for the sacred.

What I found in the Ireland of 2001 provided little occasion for dwelling on any of that “rubbish.” In the previous decade, the hierarchy of the Irish Church had been wracked with scandal. Its prestige had come to be viewed as hypocrisy and arrogance, its power as conceit and corruption. Regular Mass attendance had dropped from nearly 90 percent a few years prior to around 60 percent, and it continued to plunge in the years of my visits. If practice of the faith was plunging then, it has plummeted since. The churches were full on Sunday, then, now they sit empty, as if Dublin were Paris or New York.

I saw few signs of genuine piety, and the demeanors of the pious seemed passive and weary. The Irish saw well that prosperity had at last come to their land; it seemed to entail a giving up of both Irish folkways and the ancestral religion, and that was a bargain they were willing to make.

The political elite in Ireland had long since come to have more in common with their counterparts in other western European nations than with the supposedly backward sensibilities of the people they ruled. They clearly saw the embarrassment of the Church as something to be capitalized on to advance the secularization of the country—its normalization, you might say, within the post-Christian mainstream. A prime minister brought his concubine to dinner with the Archbishop; it created a sensation rather than a scandal. Where Nelson’s Pillar had once stood—blown up in a symbolic act of nationalism by the IRA in 1966—the Irish government had erected a “millennium spike.” It is just as bad and stupid as it sounds. I wrote about it thus in my first book of poems, one inspired by the Belfast poet Louis MacNeice:

Where Nelson’s Pisgah pillar pruned, then plumed,
They’ve propped a sterile spike up like an altar
To pious E.U. secularity.

Irish society never fully recovered from the Civil War that humiliated it in 1922-23. The internecine conflict was, as Thomas MacGreevy once wrote, a last humiliation by the British Empire, disillusioning Irish nationalism just at the moment when it had achieved something like victory—a modest independence called “home rule.” In the subsequent decades, Irish politics was marked by a persistence of nationalist ambition to make Ireland in actuality what it has long been regarded as being: a distinctively Catholic republic that would stand outside the main tendencies of western Europe toward secularization, economic liberalization, and, later, the welfare state.

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In this ambition, they succeeded. The Church enjoyed a central place in Irish public life; its charitable institutions served as a non-state agent to educate, heal, and care for the Irish people in lieu of public schools, hospitals, and other social services. The long-reigning Eamonn De Valera attempted a third-way economy—one founded on agriculture and autarchy, especially in regards to its powerful neighbor. This last was not a great achievement, though it was more successful than it would have been had the ranks of Ireland’s lower classes not already been emigrating in a continuous flow for most of the previous century.

The persistence of these nationalist ambitions should not surprise us, given the tremendous symbolic power generated in the decades before independence. Nonetheless, it was a waning influence from the beginning. In the 1950s, the Irish economy was liberalized and increasingly opened to the European market. That was sufficient to make most Irish conclude that their country was nothing special; it should rightly assume its place as a marginal junior player in the global economy. Economic liberalization led to secularization, or might have, were it not for a string of public controversies, including votes on abortion and divorce, that reminded many Irish of their distinctive self-image as a Catholic nation—much to the anguish of liberals, including the literati, who sought to show that the only thing distinctive about Ireland was that it was much worse than other countries.

It was the expansion of the Irish economy and the sex scandals in the Church in the 1990s that brought this long developing contempt for Irish exceptionalism to a head. It seemed to vindicate every accusation of Ireland as a backward backwater of hypocrisy. But this contempt for the past was softened by the unprecedented prosperity of the Celtic Tiger. The young were too busy earning money and spending it to have children much less to attend to the dissolution of Ireland’s Catholic culture.

When the global economy collapsed in 2008, Ireland was among the handful of worst-hit small countries.  Emigration increased to highs not seen for decades.  The time had come for reprisals. Their hopes for prosperity dashed, the Irish had few political options, and a future of bailouts and austerity imposed from abroad.  Enda Kenny was elected Prime Minister on a European liberal economic platform, but it soon became clear that his power could only be enhanced by taking Irish society in a leftward direction.  Every confrontation he staged with the Church, he won.  He was called brave for taking on such a venerable but hidebound institution in the name of truth and progress; but, indeed, how much bravery could it require to fight a battle he could not lose?  The disappointments of Irish society were increasingly expressed as contempt for the Church.

Year by year, government inquiries into sexual abuse within Church-run institutions, the physical abuses of those in the care of nuns and priests, and finally the supposed unearthing of mass graves of children on the properties of homes for unwed mothers. The stories themselves were increasingly distorted in the press, but nobody cared; the outrage and contempt only increased. To present oneself as a faithful Catholic in contemporary Ireland would require far more bravery than, say, to present oneself as a practitioner of sodomy.

For more than a century, the Irish had been told, had told themselves, that they were something distinctive in the history of Christendom. A Catholic nation that had persisted in the faith despite domination by a Protestant foreign power, the service of country and of God seemed almost as one. But, for just under a century, a nagging doubt had haunted such convictions. Ireland was insignificant: its dream of itself consequently stood in the way of its simply getting on as one more country on a continent that had long since lost its faith but had embraced the mundane contentment afforded by a liberalized economy, the welfare state, and a far more immanent horizon of beliefs.

Some scholars tell us that the gothic genre of story-telling grew up as a response to the Catholic Irish. A society that saw itself as enlightened, rational, secular, and modern suddenly found itself haunted by some frightful other, a ghoul, a return of the repressed: an avatar of superstitious, atavistic, arcane Catholicism. The Irish and Catholic response to such tales of Whiggery was easy: Catholicism “returns” not as the ravenous claw of the past reaching up from the grave to strangle the present, but as the truth, which never goes anywhere. Truth always asserts its inescapable claim on every person.

But what is one to do when that claw represents not simply the past, but also the future, the Catholic nation that Ireland was meant to become, but never quite did? What is one to do when the gothic monster is not something intruding from the depths beneath one’s society, but is, if anything, the institution that seemed to represent the most distinctive virtues of that society? Kill it, of course. Kill it, and take joy in the sport.

The joy with which the “gay marriage” referendum is being greeted not only in the streets of urban Dublin but across the whole country must surely be a complex emotion. Insofar as the Irish are just like most of us westerners, they are celebrating a new freedom of the will to assert itself without any moral prohibition. But the therapeutic triumphed long ago, and didn’t need Ireland to cement its victory.

The reason the Irish—as Irish—are celebrating is that they have with this referendum delivered a decisive and final blow to their venerable image as a Catholic nation. They have taken their vengeance on the Church. They must relish the unshackling; they must love the taste of blood. But, finally, they take joy in becoming what, it seems, they were always meant to become. An unexceptional country floating somewhere in the waters off a continent that has long since entered into cultural decline, demographic winter, and the petty and perpetual discontents that come free of charge to every people that lives for nothing much in particular.

James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Literature in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. He is the author of a chapbook of poems, Four Verse Letters (Steubenville, 2010) and of Timothy Steele: A Critical Introduction (Story Line, 2012), and a new collection of poems entitled The Violent and the Fallen (Finishing Line Press). A scholar of philosophical theology and literature, Wilson has lectured widely on topics ranging from modern American poetry to ancient Greek philosophy. Readers can learn more about his writing at jamesmatthewwilson.com.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine.

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Katie Yoder

Taxpayer-funded PBS pushes teaching sex ed to 4-year-olds

Katie Yoder
By Katie Yoder

June 1, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Watching PBS? Might want to ask the kindergartners to leave the room.

In a May 27 piece for tax-funded PBS, NewsHour producer Saskia de Melker argued “The case for starting sex education in kindergarten.” In her piece, she held up the Netherlands as an example for the United States in “sexuality education” – for those as young as 4-years-old to learn “honest conversations about love and relationships.”

To begin her piece, de Melker pointed to “Spring Fever” week in Dutch primary schools, or “the week of focused sex ed classes … for 4-year olds.”

“Of course, it’s not just for 4-year-olds,” she reassured about the Netherlands’ “comprehensive sex education.” “Eight-year-olds learn about self-image and gender stereotypes. Eleven-year-olds discuss sexual orientation and contraceptive options.”

She assured prudish Americans that, “You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class,” she wrote. “In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education.” (Funny, that’s not how her headline read.)

Citing Ineke van der Vlugt, who works on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, “the Dutch sexuality research institute behind the curriculum,” de Melker urged the program is “about having open, honest conversations about love and relationships.”

De Melker highlighted how Netherlands law requires all primary schools to teach “sexuality education” that must include “certain core principles” like “sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness.”

“The underlying principle is straightforward,” she wrote, “Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.”

And, according to de Melker, the approach works as the Netherlands “boasts some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health” with statistics on birth control, contraceptives, and sexual experiences.

“There are multiple factors that likely contribute to these numbers,” she hyped. “Easy access to contraception is one. Condoms, for example, are available in vending machines, and the birth control pill is free for anyone under age 21.”

De Melker provided more solid examples of just what kindergarteners learn.

“[S]tudents draw boys’ and girls’ bodies, tell stories about friends taking a bath together, and discuss who likes doing that and who doesn’t,” she wrote. “By the end of kindergarten, students are expected to be able to properly name body parts including genitals. They also learn about different types of families, what it means to be a good friend, and that a baby grows in a mother’s womb.”

11-year-olds, on the other hand learn to discuss “hypothetical situations” like:

  •  “You’re kissing someone and they start using their tongue which you don’t want.”

  •  “A girl starts dancing close to a guy at a party causing him to get an erection.”

  • “Your friend is showing off pornographic photos that make you feel uncomfortable.”

If a student thinks she’s a lesbian, some teachers, like Sabine Hasselaar, explain to the class, “It’s not strange for some girls to like other girls more than boys. It’s a feeling that you can’t change, just like being in love. The only difference is that it’s with someone that is the same sex as you.”

If you’re wondering where Dutch parents are in all this, it isn’t as though they’ve totally abdicated their responsibility to the state. Well, OK, it is. In fact, the schools teach them too.

“Parents nights are held to give parents tools to talk to their kids about sex,” and “Public health experts recommend that parents take cues from their kids.”

In other words, “if you walk in on your child masturbating, don’t react shocked; don’t punish or scold them,” she detailed. “Have a talk about where it is appropriate for such behavior to occur.”

While the U.S. is still far behind, de Melker encouraged that, in some places, “the tide is shifting toward an approach closer to that of the Dutch.”

Reprinted with permission from NewsBusters.

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