Arland Nichols

Opinion

Good news for women as more Catholic physicians follow Church teaching

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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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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