Arland Nichols

Good news for women as more Catholic physicians follow Church teaching

Arland Nichols
By Arland Nichols
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September 12, 2012 (CrisisMagazine.com) - A wave of excitement is gradually making its way through a small community of Catholics in Houston, Texas. Married couples who embrace the Church’s teaching in Humanae vitae and who use natural family planning have waited too long. Houston, which boasts one of the largest and most highly regarded medical systems in the world has, for twenty years, been without an OB/GYN who adheres to the principles of Catholic teaching and good medicine by declining to do abortions, perform sterilizations, prescribe contraception, or resort to immoral infertility “treatments.”

But the wait will soon be over and a buzz is in the air—an authentically Catholic OB/GYN practice is opening its doors this September. A young and energetic physician, Kathryn Karges and her staff are launching Caritas Complete Women’s Care, an apostolate rooted in a deep respect for the dignity of women and the best of medical practice, a common denominator in similar medical practices around the nation.

The exciting news out of Houston reveals a positive trend that is slowly but steadily making its way through the United States. But this steady growth did not happen overnight. It’s a sad and familiar story: Pope Paul VI’s landmark and prophetic encyclical, Humanae vitae, was met with widespread confusion and outright disobedience from many clergy and lay Catholics alike. Eventually the dissent against Paul VI’s affirmation of the Church’s consistent teaching about contraception, would leave the Catholic medical community nearly bereft of physicians practicing women’s health who did so in accord with Church teaching. Obstetric and gynecological care that did not routinely involve contraception and sterilization was virtually unheard of.

Perhaps most instrumental in challenging the contraceptive status quo among physicians is Dr. Thomas Hilgers, who read Humanae vitae as a young doctor and felt called by God to respond to the Holy Father’s words:

It is particularly desirable that, according to the wish already expressed by Pope Pius XII, medical science succeed in providing a sufficiently secure basis for a regulation of birth, founded on the observance of natural rhythms…. Let them persevere, therefore, in promoting on every occasion the discovery of solutions inspired by faith and right reason, let them strive to arouse this conviction and this respect in their associates. Let them also consider as their proper professional duty the task of acquiring all the knowledge needed in this delicate sector, so as to be able to give to those married persons who consult them wise counsel and healthy direction, such as they have a right to expect. (HV 24, 27)

In response to Paul VI’s exhortation, Hilgers developed the body of research that would become the Creighton Method and NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology). Once all but alone in a sea of dissent, these days Hilgers is anything but. Physicians and practitioners young and old are following his lead, contributing invaluable research and providing the best medical care to women. Doctor Patrick Yeung at Saint Louis University is performing cutting-edge and minimally invasive surgery on women suffering from endometriosis. Ann Nolte, a family physician, directs the Gianna Center in New York, as she and her staff provide life- and marriage-affirming care to women of all ages. The Tepeyac Family Center in Northern Virginia boasts a practice of 5 physicians who follow the teaching of Humanae vitae. And now Kathryn Karges is opening Caritas Complete Women’s Care on the campus of Saint Joseph’s Hospital—a secular hospital in the Houston Medical Center.

These are only a few examples of a growing trend toward natural methods of family planning and solutions to infertility, an astounding accomplishment in today’s health care environment. Some 400 medical practices have now incorporated NaPro Technology into their practice and adhere to the Church’s teaching concerning reproductive health. Twelve surgeons have been formally trained through the fellowship program in medical and surgical NaPro Technology and five more will soon receive this state of the art training. Further, there are now 260 “FertilityCare” Centers where trained practitioners teach the Creighton Model which is at the heart of the medical practice. The American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals, which is a thriving and active professional organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning and NaPro Technology, is impacting lives and marriages throughout our nation.

What makes NaPro Technology unique is that as a family planning system it is entirely integrated with a woman’s health and can be used to identify and successfully treat various unique health issues women face. Doctor Karges recently explained, “I am so happy that by practicing NaPro Technology I am able to treat the cause of a woman’s problems, rather than simply use a “band-aid” approach to providing medical care. It not only completely abides by the teachings of the Catholic Church, but it simply makes for good medicine.” NaPro Technology is effective in spacing children and helping couples achieve pregnancy—and, importantly, it is also usually more effective than immoral methods! As Doctor Hilgers recently wrote, it is “a new women’s health science that specializes in working cooperatively (as opposed to suppressively or destructively) with a woman’s menstrual and fertility cycle.” This is authentic and dignity-affirming health care for women.

Doctors Hilgers, Yeung, Nolte, and Karges are committed to stem the tide of the contraceptive culture that views a woman’s fertility as a disease and impediment to her dignity. For this reason, Caritas and other similar clinics are committed to following the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and they do not perceive these ethical directives as an unwelcome burden nor abide by them begrudgingly because their Bishop is forcing them to do so. Rather they share the Church’s conviction that

Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instructions both about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning…. A Catholic health care institution that provides treatment for infertility should offer not only technical assistance to infertile couples but also should help couples pursue other solutions. (ERD 42, 44)

Like so many of her peers, Doctor Karges notes that the Directives speak directly to her as a physician and call her to something higher than “simply providing medical care.” Physicians, she notes, also have a responsibility to follow and educate their patients in Church teaching. “It is important to understand the how and why behind these directives. They are not meant to be restrictive or prohibitive. Through our practice of medicine, we are protecting married love which is sacred and is designed to be open to the co-creation of new life with God.”

Ultimately, women and families are better served by solutions that firmly adhere to the Church’s moral teaching. The women who have been healed and the marriages that have been strengthened by the moral and medical solutions to their infertility, family planning needs, and various other women’s health issues, are a living testament to the complementarity between God’s law and the true flourishing of every human person.

Arland K. Nichols is the National Director of HLI America. He writes for the Truth and Charity Forum. This article appeared in Crisis Magazine and is reprinted with permission.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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