Former abortionist now head of one of the largest pro-life medical practices in the U.S.
FAIRFAX, Virginia, March 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week the pro-life community celebrated the life of the great Dr. Bernard Nathanson, famed for his dramatic conversion from a leading abortionist to a stalwart and outspoken advocate for children in the womb.
Dr. Nathanson’s passing reminds us of the powerful testimony of the dozens of doctors who have left the squalor of their abortion facilities and committed themselves to life-giving and authentic health care.
Dr. John Bruchalski is one of these doctors. A former abortionist in his ob/gyn residency, the 50-year-old Virginia native has now become a leading light in pro-life medicine. Through his unique Tepeyac Family Center, one of the largest free-standing pro-life medical practices in the country, Dr. Bruchalski’s team offers a safe haven for women in crisis pregnancies, spreading hope through authentic health care that respects the natural processes of the woman’s body, the right to life of the unborn child, and the eternal end of the mother’s soul.
“How do you combine the best of modern medicine with the healing presence of Jesus Christ? That’s what we’re about,” he told LifeSiteNews.
‘More abortion, more destruction’
Though raised in a devout Catholic family, Bruchalski says he began his exit from the faith when he left for Catholic college. There, he was taken in by professors and friends who claimed that the Catholic Church can change with the culture - that its teachings on divorce, homosexual marriage, abortion, and contraception would eventually conform to the pervading cultural values.
“It became a non-issue - you could still be a great Catholic and choose to dissent from particular Church teachings,” he said.
By the time he entered medical school in 1983 at the University of South Alabama, contraception and abortion seemed to him “the way to promote health and happiness and wholeness in a woman’s reproductive life.” Aiming to be the best gynecologist he could, he learned the different methods for abortion, sterilization, and artificial reproduction, and began providing them during residency.
But he began to have doubts. “I didn’t see happiness or joy in my clinics,” he explained. “Wherever I had more abortion, more contraception, there were more broken relationships, more infections, more destruction, more brokenness.”
“I didn’t know what to do because the professors were saying ‘Well, we just need more education, more contraception, more abortion to answer these questions,’” he added.
‘A better way to practice medicine’
Bruchalski first felt the call back to the faith of his childhood right before beginning his residency, when a friend convinced him to take a trip to Guadalupe in Mexico City. He says there he heard Our Lady of Guadalupe - whom Catholics revere as the patroness of the unborn - ask him, “Why are you hurting me?”
Yet he wasn’t ready to respond. “I kind of put that in the back of my mind,” he said.
Then two years later, between the 2nd and 3rd year of residency, his mother took him on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where many Catholics believe Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, has been appearing since 1981.
He says the pilgrimage reawakened the great love for Christ and Mary that his parents had nurtured in him during his childhood. “It was the simplicity of the messages of getting back to conversion,” he explained. “And then I had an experience there with a young woman from Belgium who was there praying for the pro-life cause. She told me she had a message for me about Our Lady and began telling me things about my life.”
“It was life changing for me.”
When he got home, he told his professor that he could no longer commit abortions or sterilizations, though he expressed shame to LifeSiteNews that it took him a year to fully extricate himself from these anti-life procedures.
He began reading the works of Pope John Paul II, particularly the pope’s landmark addresses on the theology of the body. He learned about natural family planning under the mentoring of Dr. Thomas Hilgers, the Couple to Couple League, Mercedes Wilson and Family of the Americas, and Dr. Hannah Klaus. And he studied the exciting advances in natural reproductive technology pioneered by Dr. Hilgers, who founded the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska.
“When I came home, I was given the grace not only to see myself as I really was - you know, my whole life passed before me - but I actually saw that ... there was a better way to practice medicine,” he explained. “The approach to reproductive health was the polar opposite to what Planned Parenthood was saying. That’s what Our Lady told me my role was going to be.”
Creating a loving atmosphere where abortion becomes unthinkable
He put that vision of medicine into practice in 1994 when he founded the Tepeyac Family Center with his wife in the basement of his house. The obstetric and gynecological medical facility now boasts six pro-life physicians and one nurse practitioner.
Based on a Catholic vision of health care, the Center promotes health practices that respect the natural rhythm of the woman’s cycle and the sanctity of human life. They advocate natural family planning as opposed to contraceptives, and in cases of infertility they focus on treating the underlying causes rather than using assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization.
“We believe that health is based on the relationships found in community, and we believe that if we love enough in medicine we can create a loving atmosphere where abortion becomes unthinkable,” he said. “Almost like an abortion-free zone.”
“Our approach is that we hate the disease but love the patient, especially the weakest of our brothers and sisters,” he added.
They are the only practice in the country offering full obstetrical care for patients from crisis pregnancy centers, and they have a special dedication to welcoming the poor. Of the over 700 babies they delivered in 2009, 30% of the mothers did not have commercial insurance.
“As we tried to be a for-profit practice, ... the Blessed Mother kept saying, ‘You must see the poor in your daily life to be rewarded,’” Dr. Bruchalski said. “It’s one thing to try to be a pro-life practice, it’s another thing to try to see the poor in your pro-life practice.”
“The renewal of medicine is going to involve both social justice - seeing the poor - and the Gospel of life. It’s both/and, not either/or,” he said. “You can’t be an NFP-only doctor. You must serve the underserved. And if you serve the underserved, in order to provide excellent cooperative medicine that treats the disease but loves the patient you have to have the basis for natural family planning in your practice.”
The Tepeyac Family Center now operates under an umbrella organization called Divine Mercy Care, which raises funds and heightens awareness through educational programs. Their network of services includes a perinatal hospice, and in coming years they hope to offer a family practice, pediatric care, and a mental health program.
“Ideally, we would like to be a city on a hill, where you have a multi-specialty group that is dedicated to the healing and the wholeness and the healthiness of the human person in body, soul, and spirit,” he explained. “A medical facility and a medical system where the human person is respected as he’s made in the image and likeness of our God.”
Though their services are available to people of any creed or culture, he said they believe that through medicine they can offer patients “the happiness, and wholeness, and healthiness that comes with coming to a deeper sense of the sacred in their own life.”
Offering hope for life with a child
Dr. Bruchalski said his experience working with abortion-minded women has shown him the need to focus on offering women hope for life with their child, rather than emphasizing adoption or images of fetal development.
“You can show women fetal development and many of them it doesn’t phase,” he said. “Remember the fetus, the baby, the unborn child is an adversary to the woman, it’s going to cramp her life.”
Abortion-minded women see adoption, on the other hand, as a “double negative,” he says. “Not only are you not qualified to be a mother and care for the child, but you have to give the child up,” he explained. “They hate that choice, so for them the abortion becomes the best alternative, the least terrible of those options.”
“You really have to focus on [the fact] that there is life after having a child, that there is a way out of your predicament,” he said. “Just meeting women where they are by being able to listen to their pain and their agony and their suffering, and then love them so much that we walk them through this.”
Practicing the theology of the body
The Center has a special focus on implementing John Paul II’s theology of the body, which Dr. Bruchalski says was “revolutionary for relationships, for medicine, and for families.”
He said one’s approach to medicine is profoundly impacted “if you believe that the story in Genesis is real and that we were created in the image and likeness of God, and that men and women are complementary - that we were not meant to be alone - and that our bodies speak a language to us, our actions, and that to love God and to love neighbor is what we’ve been called to do.”
“The theology of the body in medicine means that you cooperate with the body, you don’t repress it,” he explained. “You focus on health, not disease. You don’t treat desires, you treat the disease. You don’t treat people like products. ... You don’t try to go to the best doctor who creates the healthiest babies with the best techniques. Because we’re more than products, we’re people.”
“We are just now developing the wording and the language of translating [the theology of the body] from the religious and the anthropological to the medical and the scientific,” he added.
Spreading the Gospel of life in medicine
Divine Mercy Care hopes to inspire and mentor other health care professionals to take up the Gospel of life in their practice. In February and March Bruchalski’s spending two weeks on a speaking tour to 22 medical schools in 19 states with Medical Students for Life.
“At the heart, abortion is a medical procedure,” he said. “We need to inspire doctors to step out in faith and become the men and women that God’s called them to be.”
His conversion experience shows that “no one is beyond God’s mercy, no one, no one,” he said. “I was doing the abortions because I believed it was the lesser of two evils, ... yet I realized that people were just more broken after the procedure. There might have been a brief respite from the stress and strain, but most relationships broke up after the abortion.”
“The mercy of God was what truly penetrated my heart.”
Find more information on Divine Mercy Care and the Tepeyac Family Center here.
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.
View CommentsClick to view or comment.