The Clock is Ticking!!! We are just hours away from the beginning of the 40 DAYS FOR LIFE campaign.
There are a lot of open hours still, if you have not signed up yet for any hours in the next two weeks, PLEASE do it now!
Visit the website www.40daysforlife.com/rochester-mn NOW... and sign up! Click on the vigil schedule link at the top tool bar. Make sure that you are registered so that you can also receive the daily devotional from the National level! Do you know yet what you will fast from?If you have any questions, please contact me and if you still need a sign to carry at the vigil let me know!Looking forward to seeing you out there standing in the gap for the unborn and for the hurting women and men!
The "Every Child Deserves a Family Act" would deny federal funds to any adoption agency that "discriminates" against prospective adoptive or foster parents on the basis of sexual orientation. Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the bill today:
The proponents of the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act" manifestly do not believe that every child deserves a family: only those lucky enough to make it to term qualify. Indeed, of the 69 cosponsors of the bill, 96 percent are pro-abortion. In other words, they are deceitfully playing the "pro-child" card while disguising their real agenda, which is to stick it to the Catholic Church. Consider the following.
No religion has a greater network of adoptive and foster parent agencies than the Catholic Church. Like almost all other religions, the Catholic Church believes that marriage should be the reserve of a man and a woman, the only two people capable of creating a family. This bill, however, does not recognize the legitimacy of this ancient verity. Worse, it seeks to punish those who do not accept, as a matter of conscience, homosexuals as adoptive or foster parents.
Fully a third of the cosponsors are Catholic, though most have long broken with Catholic teachings on public policy issues. All but one of the cosponsors is a Democrat. The lone Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is not only in favor of homosexuals adopting children, she cosponsored the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill signed by President Clinton to protect the integrity of this basic social institution.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen switched from Catholic to Episcopalian a few years ago. But it is not her activism as a Christian that has won her awards—it is her commitment to Scientology that has drawn kudos. No matter, it is clear that her new affiliations coincide with her newly acquired liberal voting record (the scores she receives from liberal and conservative groups have virtually flip-flopped in recent years). In any event, she is now aligned with a bill that is decidedly anti-Catholic.
by Abby Johnson | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com Email "Do not pass along false reports. Do not cooperate with evil people by telling lies on the witness stand. Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are on the witness stand, do not be swayed in your testimony by the opinion of the majority." Exodus 23:1-2 Do you think we should have pro-lifers go work for the abortion industry? Couldn't they do good work in there? I mean, surely they could talk women into saving the lives of their babies, right?? Would you support that? Probably not. Why? Well, we don't believe in cooperating with evil. Even if you were trying to do your best to save babies, you would still be working for the organization that kills them. We certainly couldn't promote that. Do you know that many people do promote this exact same scenario? They do this with the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts are directly affiliated with Planned Parenthood, our country's largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood put out a brochure entitled "Healthy, Happy and Hot." This brochure was distributed to thousands and thousands of Girl Scouts. The intended audience is girls aged 8-16. Here are a few excerpts from the brochure. "Sex can feel great and can be really fun! Many people think sex is just about vaginal or anal intercourse… But, there are lots of different ways to have sex and lots of different types of sex. Sex can include kissing, touching, licking, tickling, sucking, and cuddling. Some people like to have aggressive sex, while others like to have soft and slow sex with their partners. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!" "Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body. Play with yourself! Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating. Don't stop there: find out how your partner's body works, what makes them feel good and what gives them pleasure. Talking with your partner about what you each like and what feels good is the best way to have great sex." "Your skin is the largest erogenous zone on your body, and your mind plays a big role in your desire for sex and sexual pleasure. Caress and lick your partner's skin. Explore your partner's body with your hands and mouth. Mix things up by using different kinds of touch from very soft to hard. Talk about or act out your fantasies. Talk dirty to them. Tickle, tease and make them feel good." I am a parent of a small child. I would never want her to see such filth. But the Girl Scouts promotes this agenda. Any money that is given to the Girl Scouts goes to their national office…this includes money for uniforms, badges, cookies, annual dues, etc. That money is then, in part, used to associate with Planned Parenthood. No one can say that "their troupe" does not give money to Planned Parenthood. If you are a member of the Girl Scouts organization and you pay dues and you sell cookies and you have uniforms with badges, then you are in association with Planned Parenthood. Period. How could anyone who says they are pro-life cooperate with such evil? How could anyone who is against abortion contribute in ANY part to the killing of children…especially if they KNOW that their money is going toward such activity. Scripture is clear. We must NOT cooperate with evil in any way. We MUST cleanse our churches and our Christian faith of such evil. We CAN work to educate others about Girl Scouts without being active participants…just like we do with Planned Parenthood. I no longer work at Planned Parenthood, but I feel like God is using me to inform people about the dangers of the organization. People who have been involved with Girl Scouts can do the same…and live with a clean conscience. A quote from Girl Scouts CEO, Kathy Cloninger, "We partner with many organizations. We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs, and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country, to bring information-based sex education programs to girls." How much more evidence do you need? We must remove ourselves from such evil. We cannot allow ourselves to participate "from within." We must get out. We must stand up for truth, with a clean conscience and clean heart. There is an alternative…American Heritage Girls. This organization is a REAL Christ-centered, scouting organization that does not contribute to Planned Parenthood. There is an option. There is no reason to allow your girls to be subjected to Planned Parenthood's radical anti-life and anti-family agenda. For more information on American Heritage Girls, please visit www.ahgonline.org. For more information about the direct connection between Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts, please visit www.girlscoutswhynot.com.
Re-examining the essential characteristics of marriage.
Abraham Lincoln once asked how many legs a dog has if we call a tail a leg. The answer, he said, is four: calling a tail a leg does not make it so. We chuckle and move on. But what if people began to argue that a tail really is a leg? They might say that what defines the leg is that it is an appendage of the dog's body, that it contains bone and muscle covered with skin and fur—just like a tail. Tails just happen to come out of the body at a different angle than other legs. When a tail hangs down low, who can tell the difference? This is an example of defining a thing according to non-essential characteristics. It is like saying that a soldier is "a man who wears a uniform and carries a gun," or calling a football stadium "a field surrounded by lots of seats." It may be true in each case, but fails to tell the story. To continue the figure, the bones and muscle of a leg are different from the tail. They have to support the dog and make it possible to run and jump. No matter how well the dog can wag its tail, it will not propel it anywhere. The issue, then, is not that the leg has bones and muscles, but how they are put together, and why. A tail is not a leg, because it is impossible for it to function as one. Some may respond that there are legs on many dogs that cannot propel the dog anywhere. They have broken bones, or withered muscle, or have lost the foot in an accident. If not all legs can propel the animal forward, then this ability is not an essential characteristic of a leg. If lame legs are legs, so is a tail. But a wounded leg is still a leg. Repair it, and it will function as one. If it cannot be repaired, this fact does not change the kind of thing it is. It is a leg, though damaged. The tail remains a tail. The call for same-sex marriage involves a similar misdefinition. Marriage is often characterized today as follows: 1) two people 2) who love each other 3) want to perform sexual acts together, so 4) they consent to combine their lives sexually, materially, economically 5) with the endorsement of the community. Since same-sex couples can meet the first four criteria, how can society refuse the fifth? It is easy to see why this would be a cause of aggravation, not only for same-sex couples who wish community endorsement of their relationships, but for millions of others. If the criteria stated above actually define marriage—and in contemporary Western society, many have come to view marriage as no more than this—then refusal to acknowledge and endorse same-sex relationships is a rank injustice, nothing but an exercise in bigotry or stupidity. Typically, marriage does in fact have these characteristics. But why does marriage have these characteristics? Remembering why will help us to remember how they show themselves in a relationship that has the essence of marriage—and how that is often different in other relationships. First, human beings have a powerful hankering to engage in sexual intercourse. Second, sexual intercourse between a man and a woman naturally and frequently leads to children. Male and female alone each have part of a complete reproductive system. Without both parts, reproduction cannot happen. Without the result of children, it would be a real puzzler why we have these organ systems at all, and why we have such a deep urge to engage in sexual acts. Third, the rearing of children is a lifetime responsibility. As deeply social beings, we remain connected to each other across generations. Even adults with children of their own need the wisdom and guidance of their fathers and mothers. It is easier for those who enter this project that they have affection for each other, and that they form a self-giving friendship. To perform these actions lovingly is the properly human way. Fourth, because it leads to children, sexual intercourse has extraordinary public consequences. It is not, as we might like to think, a purely private act. It matters a lot to the community who is doing it, and under what circumstances. So the community endorses certain sexual arrangements; others, which fail to abide by the fullness of truth of human sexuality, the community rejects as unfitting for human beings. To support those that are fitting, it offers the institution of marriage. In marriage, the couple promises before the community to fulfill this project through vows of fidelity and permanence, joining their bodies and their lives to make the project work. The community promises to give the couple the privacy to perform their sexual acts, and care for each other; it further supports the family by means of appropriate protections and benefits. It may be that others could receive similar benefits for different reasons, but this is why benefits accrue to marriage: to help the marriage project flourish. If sexuality did not naturally bring us offspring, it is hard to explain why it exists, whether you believe in a purely material evolution or a loving designer of the universe, for it would serve no purpose. If sexual acts did not naturally lead to offspring, it is just as hard to explain how marriage would have appeared in human history, for it would serve no purpose. Religions may bless marriage, but they did not invent it. Because it involves such profoundly important human realities, it is no surprise that sex and marriage have religious significance. But sex and marriage have existed as long as there have been human communities. If we accept the misdefinition of marriage using non-essential characteristics as the complete story, it would be impossible to reject same-sex marriage. Given the whole truth, however, it is impossible to accept it. No matter how superficially similar they are to real marriages, same-sex relationships cannot function as marriages. Today, marriages crumble, families are torn, society flounders. Why? We are not living in the truth. We accept a bad definition of marriage, acquiesce to almost any sexual arrangement, glorify the quest for sexual pleasure, treat children as a means to fulfill our desires. Overwhelmingly, research shows that rearing children in any other environment than with both their natural parents is damaging. Sometimes that damage is unavoidable, as when a parent dies, but we shouldn't seek it. And it certainly won't help to say the impossible is real. We need the truth. We need to fix the legs. Calling a tail a leg only makes matters worse.
Diocese limits Communion under both kinds, laments excessive extraordinary ministers
September 22, 2011
The Diocese of Phoenix has announced that it will issue norms specifying the conditions under which Holy Communion may be distributed under both species.
“The new norms will promote unity in the celebration of the Eucharist all around the world, and come from the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition, together with the final edition of The Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America,” the diocese stated in a press release.
“In the Roman Missal (1975), 14 instances were provided when the chalice could be offered to the laity,” the diocese noted. “From 1975 on, the United States, United Kingdom and Oceania were given experimental privileges for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds. These privileges expired in 2005 and were not renewed by the Holy See. The new norms issued in June 2011 are what guide the liturgical practice today and in the future.”
“These universal norms for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds greatly expanded those times when the chalice could be offered to the lay faithful for most of the Catholic world (since in most countries their practice was virtually non-existent),” the diocesan statement continued. “In the Diocese of Phoenix, like other places where the practice of reception from the chalice became frequent or even commonplace, the new norms call for the practice of less frequent distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds than the faithful may have been accustomed.”
The ritual books state that Holy Communion may be offered at the Chrism Mass and feast of Corpus Christi. Additionally, it may be offered to a Catholic couple at their wedding Mass, to first communicants and their family members, confirmation candidates and their sponsors, as well as deacons, non-concelebrating priests, servers and seminarians at any Mass, as well as community members at a conventual Mass or those on a retreat or at a spiritual gathering. In addition, a priest may select other important solemnities in which it may be offered, e.g., parish patronal feast days or the celebration of the dedication of the church building, provided the conditions are met.
“In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion,” the diocese added; “when both forms of Communion are used frequently, ‘extraordinary’ ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.”
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.
If you were the devil, what would be your most important mission, other than inventing false religions? It would be to corrupt innocent children. I'd start by kicking God out of the public schools and excising from textbooks the truth about America's deeply Christian heritage. I'd get rid of glaringly obvious ties between Christianity and the Founders' vision of unalienable rights and limited government. Children would be indoctrinated to think of themselves as cosmic accidents of random mutation and survival of the fittest, not precious beings with eternal souls created in the image of God. The result would be an effectively atheistic system of moral relativism. Next, I'd cloak sexual promiscuity in terms of self-fulfillment, mix it up with junk science and lobby the teachers unions to openly promote the Kinsey sex education model of children as "sexual beings" whose "orientation" has no moral relevance. Finally, I'd expose the kids to outright propaganda through clever websites designed to promote deviance and to brand anyone with any qualms, such as parents, as hate-filled bigots and bullies. If any school districts resisted, I'd slap them with legal threats. And that's where the devil's law firm comes in. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is running around the country, shaking its fists at school districts and demanding that kids be exposed to whatever the homosexual movement deems appropriate. In Prince William County, Va., after an ACLU threat, school officials removed the filter blocking homosexual websites. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, has sent letters to eight school districts, including Prince William, advising them that they have every right to keep the filters. But Prince William has caved, at least for now. In Missouri, the ACLU sued the Camdenton School District on Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court because it refused to remove its general "sexuality" filter. The district had responded in a May letter to the ACLU from Superintendent Tim Hadfield, who wrote that the district "does not explicitly block" LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) categories but that some were blocked because of the "sexuality" filter. He said the filter settings were "acceptable for our general audience within our network of pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students," according to Fox News. The district later unblocked some sites dealing with bullying, but the ACLU is complaining that the filter still blocks "hundreds" of LGBT sites. A question: Why, if the LGBT agenda is just about civil rights and tolerance, is the "sexuality" filter blocking all those sites? Could it be that the LGBT "community," whose pride parades are the only public marches that regularly feature nudity and obscene and sacrilegious signs, has an abundance of sites that parents would rather their children not visit? The ACLU also has launched the Don't Filter Me! campaign, which pressures software companies that sell filters to schools to remove any filter that blocks "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender websites." So far, the ACLU claims it has pressured at least one software company, Lightspeed Systems, to remove a school filter that flagged "LGBT-supportive content." In a tight economy, the ACLU is counting on companies doing almost anything to avoid controversy. And it is hoping that strapped school districts will quickly surrender rather than spend money on lawyers' fees. Its claim: "This viewpoint discrimination violates students' First Amendment rights to free speech and the Equal Access Act. Simply put: It's illegal." No, it's not. Schools, like public libraries, do not have to provide any and all materials just because someone wants them to do so. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in United States v. American Library Association Inc. CIPA bars federal funds to public libraries that do not install software "to block images that constitute obscenity or child pornography, and to prevent minors from obtaining access to material that is harmful to them." Having lost the library fight, the ACLU is concentrating on schoolchildren. The websites for the gay groups that the ACLU is representing are not porn sites, but they are gateways to a world of temptation for vulnerable children unsure about their sexuality. They go far beyond promoting tolerance and openly promote homosexuality. This is fine with the ACLU, which advocates breaking all sexual barriers. The ACLU even consistently opposes laws against possessing child pornography along with any attempt to shield children from exposure to Internet porn. Years ago, in Dover, Del., I was on a panel debating whether taxpayers should have to support art that they found offensive. The debate over the National Endowment for the Arts was lively, but the most interesting part occurred at the pre-debate dinner. The liberal museum staffers who hosted the event probed the ACLU representative about the line between art and obscenity and, to their surprise, heard her contend that there is no meaningful line. One of them asked about child pornography. She shrugged and acknowledged that it was illegal but, with a knowing smile, added, "For now. But it won't be for long." Even the liberal museum folks almost dropped their forks. But they quickly moved on to condemn censorship of all sorts and to show solidarity against people like me, who thought Congress has every right to refuse to use taxpayer money for obscene exhibits. Likewise, schools have the right to refuse to aid and abet groups that seek to corrupt kids in the name of tolerance. More administrators need to adopt the attitude exhibited by Tom Mickes, attorney for the Camdenton, Mo., district, who told Cheryl Wetzstein of The Washington Times, "No offense to the Easterners, but we want to run our school district based on what our citizens and the kids in Missouri need, not what somebody in New York wants." The ACLU's latest venture, couched in the language of preventing "viewpoint discrimination," is part of a long march to destroy Judeo-Christian morality and replace it with legally enforced acceptance of immorality. Demoralized children are not merely collateral damage in this quest, but the very object. There is nothing "civil" about corrupting kids. In fact, nobody has that "right." Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/9/snuffing-out-childrens-innocence/?page=1
We are reminded by the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" that the family is the original cell of social life. At the same time we realize the tremendous challenges that families face in meeting the challenges of every day. It is helpful to know, nonetheless, of the notable progress which families are achieving on a regular basis.
Some outstanding facts have been emerging. Renowned surveys over the past sixteen years--for example, those sponsored by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University--find that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children.
The statement is made clearly and simply: frequent family dinners make a difference.
The evidence in these surveys shows tellingly that compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent dinners (fewer than three per week) are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol, and one and a half times likelier to use marijuana.
During these years there is consistent evidence that family dinners help to make a significant difference in academic performance and weekly attendance at religious services.
One way to bring attention to this outstanding phenomenon is a national Family Day--A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children. It is promoted every year by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and takes place on the fourth Monday of September, this year, September 26.
While it is possible for families to join together for this event, it is not necessary. The important thing is for the family to be together and to recognize the value of doing this frequently during every week.
We all know that objections will come forward. What about one parent families? They celebrate as a family. How do we handle our social, academic, athletic, and work appointments? We may have to schedule another meal as the family get together. How do we address the technological intrusions? Shut them off during the meal. No texting of other friends at that time. The important fact is that you are all there.
There is no extra cost involved. The long term dividends your family will receive will be the profound spiritual and emotional return on your personal investment. Many of you of course are already experiencing these rewards from family dinners.
We in the Archdiocese of Hartford will be participating in the preparations for people to celebrate Family Day. ...many preparations are being made but we do not wish to make this a complicated enterprise. It is important to understand that we all are relational, to one another and to God. We are the family of the Church and we celebrate that reality especially in the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The awareness of this reality brings our lives to greater completion.
As we discuss over the table the happy events of our day and the challenges we face, we must keep in mind, as the first Christians did in the Sacred Scriptures, those who do not have sufficient means to provide a full meal. As we continue to enrich our lives, we cannot ever lose that awareness.
May our Family Dinner be increasingly blessed by God's love and help us to appreciate more acutely the fullness of our lives.
Me likey a lot. Think of it.....if every Bishop did this kind of house cleaning what wonderful things would happen. Thanks immensely to the BC for sending me this link. And if you have the ear of your Bishop via email, please forward this to him with my sincere promise of helping him in anyway I can.
Advice for a new bishopBy Phil Lawler | September 13, 2011 5:39 PM
The first reading at today’s Mass, in which St. Paul offers his advice on the selection of bishops, reminded me of a conversation with friends several years ago. As the Church was still reeling from the effects of scandal, we asked each other: What advice would you give to a newly appointed bishop? Herewith the results of that conversation.
The new bishop is young and energetic, fully orthodox, and filled with apostolic zeal. He is taking control of an average American diocese. What assumptions should he make? What should he expect? What should he do?
The majority of priests are “company men.” They want to live and let live.
The chancery is filled with toadies who will never tell the bishop what he needs to hear.
The chancery departments are so bloated that the work they do is about a quarter of what half the staff should be able to do. And the work that is put out is useless at best, damaging to faith and morals at worst. The Office of Social Justice and Gay and Lesbian Ministries do more harm than good.
There may be one or two truly orthodox priests assigned to the chancery rubble. But some of the priests were assigned to the chancery in order to get them out of parish ministry! In some cases, the transfer was made because of personal problems, including sexual misbehavior. In other cases they came to be seen as problematical because of their orthodox Catholicism.
About 20-30% of the priests are leftist ideologues, outright heretics, historically encouraged by previous bishops who either feared them or sympathized with them. The most corrupt and liberal priests are the most likely to try to cozy up to the new bishop with flattery. The conservatives are either too busy in their parishes or find such flattery repugnant.
There's a minority of activist orthodox priests: maybe less than 10%. Some orthodox priests are truly wild men. Also, the priest who insists that all of the world's problems will go away if he avoids speaking up and does more holy hours may be truly “orthodox” in a sane environment, but isn't much use on the field of battle if he gives in to evil programs in the name of “obedience.” Some ostensibly orthodox priests use the outward appearances of orthodoxy to mask sinful behavior.
The diocese probably has a network of gay priests, maybe very small, maybe extensive, and maybe very, very extensive.
There is the customary percentage of alcoholics numbered among all the priests, some of whom will soon be knocking at the new bishop's door.
The liturgy is in shambles in most parishes, even some of the “orthodox” ones. (Many orthodox priests just don't know what constitutes good liturgy!)
Catechesis is in bad shape, suffering from all the usual problems. Religious-education directors have been recruited through the National Catholic Reporter.
A “very nice” school superintendent has been promoting sex-ed in the schools. In many ways, he has bought into the corruption as a result of years of scandal. (He may be unwitting as to the true nature and depth of the corruption.) The Catholic schoolteachers—many of them good-willed enough—are in the same boat.
Finally, the new bishop realizes that if his orthodoxy makes waves in his diocese and beyond, he cannot necessarily count on support from the Vatican.
What should our new bishop do right away? What should be his first steps when he arrives in the diocese?
If there are any solid orthodox communities of female contemplatives in the diocese, visit them within the first few hours of your installation and enlist their prayers for you.
Upon arrival, get rid of all paper shredders at the chancery and insist that no work be taken home in briefcases. Make friends with the maintenance man and the wash lady.
Immediately obtain a backup copy of the computer network and secure it for any future audit. Change the locks. Secure the bank accounts. Check stock.
Ask for resignations from everyone on the chancery staff. (Ideally the apostolic administrator should have done this before the new bishop arrived.) All staff members should understand clearly that you determine whether or not they stay, and the presumption is negative.
There are probably a large number of people you really have to dismiss quickly: rebellious pastors, effeminate chancery officials, etc. (The less urgent cases can wait; you can use the budget crisis to justify the blow.) Fire them all at once. Plan it carefully to minimize the uproar. Make the announcements late on a Friday afternoon. On Saturday, release that rip-snorting pastoral letter on family life, which you have been drafting since your appointment was announced. Schedule some event Sunday with a big, loyal Catholic group. Tell reporters you'll answer questions there.
Meet with the abuse victims. Take names.
Settling in: new ideas
Hire an outside firm to do a thorough financial audit, and be sure to have a closed-door chat with the on-the-ground auditors to find out what they found.
Your next pastoral should insist upon the proper celebration of the Mass. It should contain disciplinary teeth. Narcissistic priests hate constraint. It's easier to catch them in an act of liturgical abuse than an act of sexual abuse.
Put the religious orders on notice. Maybe throw out one of the smaller ones just as a warning shot.
Let every person know, whether he (or she) wishes you well or ill, that you shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to ensure the survival and success of the confessional. In other words, expunge general absolution, ensure confessionals are screened, and see to a climate of orthodox confessional practice. Make it clear that you’ll be watching and act swiftly when someone brings you bad news.
Building community in the new-look chancery
Like Archbishop Pell of Sydney, Australia, get a secretary who's married with several children. Break the daisy-chain.
Talk to the pro-lifers, identify the level-headed ones, and get their read on your own clergy: who's solid, who's good but weak, who belongs to the opposition. Ditto for the lay bureaucrats and hospital admin types.
Having found a few priests you can trust absolutely, spend some long late evenings going over personnel files with them.
Plan for a massive scale-down: school and parish closings, clergy put on waivers, chancery pink slips. You'll probably have a 6-to 12-month grace period in which you can justify almost any cost-cutting by saying, “Sorry. We have to pay the sodomy bill.” Use it to get rid of the worst personnel and the schools that are beyond hope.
To the extent possible, fly in support to your home-schoolers. Inter alia, almost all the vocations you get (and want to keep) will come from them.
You will find that you have two or three prosperous parishes that are traditional centers of opposition, led by dissident priests. If you had all your priests read that fire-breather pastoral on protecting family life, you'll probably have enough general lay support—even given the hostility of the media—to face down the bad pastors after they refuse to play ball. Replace them with Nigerians to mute the screams from liberals and to force the worst parishioners to go to the Episcopalians or the Paulists.
Collaborating with the laity
Have a series of meetings with local law-enforcement supervisors—say, lieutenants and up—explaining that you don't want your men feather-bedded any more. Tell them if a priest is caught in a parked car or a washroom, they should book him. Take the district attorney out to lunch, tell him the same thing, and make sure he knows you mean it.
Get to know some state troopers. Buy them a round of beer. Tell them that you want to hear about trouble from them, not from the press. Tell them it is a moral obligation to arrest wrong-doers. Ask them to pass the word.
Make friends outside the clerical establishment. (That means: no priests, religious, or church workers.) Spend time with pro-lifers, home-schoolers, doctors who don't prescribe the Pill, community leaders who have taken hits for defending the faith. Wangle invitations to go to their homes. Go by yourself. Don’t talk too much; listen. Ask their teenage boys if they want to be priests. If not, ask why not.
Thinking in new paradigms
Hire your own director of religious education, and tell him to select new texts throughout. Institute standardized testing to make sure something is happening in CCD classes. Tell parents (and pastors) that kids can't be confirmed if they do not pass the test. Spot-check when you do confirmations.
Get rid of the prissy MC who handles liturgical ceremonies. Tell pastors that when you come to their parishes, they have to supply the MC. Or better, draft a different seminarian to do the honors every week/month.
Bring in the people in charge of sex-ed and AIDS ministry. Ask them with whom they've been working in the parishes, and make a list. Give them 30-days’ notice. If you have any “street priests,” pull them off the street ASAP.
Think seriously about shutting down the diocesan newspaper; it certainly loses money and it's probably a waste. If you decide to keep it going, hire your own editor, give him lots of leeway, but tell him the paper has to support itself.
Institute zero-based budgeting, and make it stick. Don't ever let someone ask for an X % budget increase; make him justify each dollar spent in terms of demonstrated benefit—preferably spiritual—to the diocese.
Find a few seasoned professionals—maybe successful lay businessmen who are almost ready to retire—to handle the nuts-and-bolts issues, like real estate and physical plant maintenance.
Open your own mail. You can farm out the projects later.
Consultation and dialog
Cultivate a reputation for enjoying candor. When people give you a “nice” answer to your questions, press them: “You don't really think that, do you?”
Insist on being treated with respect, but whenever people start flattering you, interrupt. Don't let them start. Make it part of your examination of conscience: Have I done anything to encourage flattery today?
When you speak to friendly Catholic audiences, don't always tell them what they want to hear. Challenge them. The first time you talk to a large K of C event, ask them when they're going to start acting like real men.
Spend a lot of time at the seminary. Arrive unannounced frequently.
When you visit parishes, skip the phony paperwork. Speak to the priests, personnel, and parish council: one-on-one, if possible. Ask them what's the biggest problem facing the parish. Look for trends in the sacramental index. Check the liquor cabinet in the rectory. Check the grocery bill.
Make a habit of calling priests at random, at odd times. Ask them what they're doing.
Networking and team ministry
Pick a few conscience fights early on: the right of Catholic med students to opt out of abortion and sterilization training, the right of Catholic pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for the Pill, the right of girls working at 7-Eleven not to handle porn, etc. And here's the key: ask the Protestants and Jews who belong to your civil amity luncheon groups to join you in the fights—not in support of your view, necessarily, but at least in defense of freedom of religion. If they balk at helping you, you've got some moral capital in your pocket when they try to rope you into cooperation with their own pet causes.
Identify Orthodox Jews, who are big on family values, and make it clear you're well disposed to them. Not only is it a huge help politically to have an Orthodox rabbi standing next to you when you hold a press conference deploring some abortion-law outrage, but if you can get on the right side of the rift in the Jewish community you can spare yourself aggravation from the liberal Jews who anoint themselves public spokesmen.
And while we're speaking of inter-religious affairs, many (professional class) Muslims are flattered to be asked to join in anti-porn or anti-abortion initiatives. Identify people you can work with and get them on board; if nothing else, the media are blocked from spinning stories in certain directions when all the photos or videos show an obvious imam or rabbi in the same frame as the bishop. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and their chums hate it when that happens. It's a political rule of thumb to find out what your opponents don't want you to do, and do more of it.
When laws that impinge upon the Christian conscience are discussed (e.g., laws that would guarantee access to abortion or sterilization, laws that require hiring of homosexuals) remind everyone who represents the diocese that it is not sufficient to obtain a “religious exclusion” so that Church-run institutions are exempt. If what's being proposed is morally objectionable, everyone should be able to invoke a conscience clause—at the bare minimum. Church lawyers and lobbyists should defend the rights of all Catholics, not only those employed by Church institutions.
Having informed him of your wishes on the matter, dock the diocesan paper editor a day’s pay every time your photo appears. The diocese is not about YOU.
Publish every semester a roster of the theologians and philosophers teaching in your diocese along with their mandatum status. Give a brief but candid explanation for any case in which the mandatum has been denied, e.g., “defects regarding Catholic doctrine on contraception.”
If a complaint comes in on liturgical abuse, phone the pastor and get his side of the story. Make it a policy to write him a letter summarizing the conversation (including his assurances of conformity) and if that complaint was warranted, insist that he post your letter in the vestibule of the church for a month. If the complainant reports no change, send someone to check it out on site.
Find out when Eucharistic adoration is being held at schools and colleges and make it a point of sliding in unexpectedly and joining the students in adoration—not taking center stage, perhaps not even saying a word, but just being shoulder to shoulder at prayer with them.
Find an opportunity to visit all three military service academies once a year and give the cadets the most ferocious rip-roaring homily you can muster (as a clandestine vocation appeal). You’ll bag 6 to 10 a year—not all scholars, but good men from good families. There's a huge pool of idealism there that's coming to grips with the disillusionment toward military life. They love folks who promise to make it hard on them.
Institute a “Good Touch/Bad Touch” program in the diocese: Announce to the priests that if they would like you to visit them in prison, touch.
Skip a meeting of the USCCB and delay paying the annual assessment, just for the hell of it.
"The Pill" is the popular term for more than 40 different commercially available oral contraceptives. In medicine, they are commonly referred to as BCPs (birth control pills) or OCs (oral contraceptives). They are also called "Combination Pills," because they contain a combination of estrogen and progestin.
The Pill is used by about 14,000,000 American women each year. Across the globe, it is used by about 60,000,000. The question of whether it causes abortions has direct bearing on untold millions of Christians, many of them prolife, who use and recommend it. For those who believe God is the Creator of each person and the giver and taker of human life, this is a question with profound moral implications.
In 1991, while researching the original edition of ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, I heard someone suggest that birth control pills can cause abortions. This was brand new to me; in all my years as a pastor and a pro-lifer, I had never heard it before. I was immediately skeptical. My vested interests were strong in that Nanci and I used the Pill in the early years of our marriage, as did many of our pro-life friends. Why not? We believed it simply prevented conception. We never suspected it had any potential for abortion. No one told us this was even a possibility. I confess I never read the fine print of the Pill's package insert, nor am I sure I would have understood it even if I had.
In 14 years as a pastor, when I did a considerable amount of premarital counseling, I always warned couples against the IUD because I'd read it could cause early abortions. I typically recommended young couples use the Pill because of its relative ease and effectiveness.
At the time I was researching ProLife Answers, I found only one person who could point me toward any documentation that connected the Pill and abortion. She told me of just one primary source that supported this belief and I found only one other. Still, these two sources were sufficient to compel me to include this warning in the book:
Some forms of contraception, specifically the intrauterine device (IUD), Norplant, and certain low-dose oral contraceptives, often do not prevent conception but prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum. The result is an early abortion, the killing of an already conceived individual. Tragically, many women are not told this by their physicians, and therefore do not make an informed choice about which contraceptive to use."1 As it turns out, I made a critical error. At the time, I incorrectly believed that "low-dose" birth control pills were the exception, not the rule. I thought most people who took the Pill were in no danger of having abortions. What I've found in more recent research is that since 1988 virtually all oral contraceptives used in America are low-dose, that is, they contain much lower levels of estrogen than the earlier birth control pills.
The standard amount of estrogen in the birth control pills of the 1960s and early '70s was 150 micrograms.
The use of estrogen-containing formulations with less than 50 micrograms of estrogen steadily increased to 75 percent of all prescriptions in the United States in 1987. In the same year, only 3 percent of the prescriptions were for formulations that contained more than 50 micrograms of estrogen. Because these higher-dose estrogen formulations have a greater incidence of adverse effects without greater efficacy, they are no longer marketed in the United States.2
After the Pill had been on the market fifteen years, many serious negative side effects of estrogen had been clearly proven. These included blurred vision, nausea, cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches, increased incidence of breast cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, some of which led to fatalities.3
In response to these concerns, beginning in the mid-seventies, manufacturers of the Pill steadily decreased the content of estrogen and progestin in their products. The average dosage of estrogen in the Pill declined from 150 micrograms in 1960 to 35 micrograms in 1988. These facts are directly stated in an advertisement by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation in Hippocrates magazine.4
Pharmacists for Life confirms: "As of October 1988, the newer lower dosage birth control pills are the only type available in the U.S., by mutual agreement of the Food and Drug Administration and the three major Pill manufacturers."5
What is now considered a "high dose" of estrogen is 50 micrograms, which is in fact a very low dose in comparison to the 150 micrograms once standard for the Pill. The "low-dose" pills of today are mostly 20Ð35 micrograms. As far as I can tell, there are no birth control pills available today that have more than 50 micrograms of estrogen. An M.D. wrote to inform me that she had researched many pills by name and could confirm my findings. If such pills exist at all, they are certainly rare.
Not only was I wrong in thinking low-dose contraceptives were the exception rather than the rule, I didn't realize there was considerable documented medical information linking birth control pills and abortion. The evidence was there, I just didn't probe deeply enough to find it. Still more evidence has surfaced in subsequent years. I have presented this evidence in detail in my 88-page book Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? I will now summarize that research.
The Physician's Desk Reference (PDR)
The Physician's Desk Reference is the most frequently used reference book by physicians in America. The PDR, as it's often called, lists and explains the effects, benefits, and risks of every medical product that can be legally prescribed. The Food and Drug Administration requires that each manufacturer provide accurate information on its products, based on scientific research and laboratory tests. This information is included in the PDR.
As you read the following, keep in mind that the term "implantation," by definition, always involves an already conceived human being. Therefore, any agent which serves to prevent implantation functions as an abortifacient.
This is the PDR's product information for Ortho-Cept, as listed by Ortho, one of the largest manufacturers of the Pill:
Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus, which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus, and changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation.6
The FDA-required research information on the birth control pills Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen also state that they cause "changes in...the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)."7
Notice that these changes in the endometrium, and their reduction in the likelihood of implantation, are not stated by the manufacturer as speculative or theoretical effects, but as actual ones. They consider this such a well-established fact that it requires no statement of qualification.
Similarly, as I document in my book, Syntex and Wyeth, the other two major pill-manufacturers, say essentially the same thing about their oral contraceptives. (I also relate in the book the results of my phone calls to each of these manufacturers to discuss this issue.)
The inserts packaged with birth control pills are condensed versions of longer research papers detailing the Pill's effects, mechanisms, and risks. Near the end, the insert typically says something like the following, which is taken directly from the Desogen pill insert:
If you want more information about birth control pills, ask your doctor, clinic or pharmacist. They have a more technical leaflet called the Professional Labeling, which you may wish to read. The Professional Labeling is also published in a book entitled Physician's Desk Reference, available in many bookstores and public libraries.
Of the half dozen birth control pill package inserts I've read, only one included the information about the Pill's abortive mechanism. This was a package insert dated July 12, 1994, found in the oral contraceptive Demulen, manufactured by Searle. Yet this abortive mechanism was referred to in all cases in the FDA-required manufacturer's Professional Labeling, as documented in The Physician's Desk Reference.
In summary, according to multiple references throughout The Physician's Desk Reference, which articulate the research findings of all the birth control pill manufacturers, there are not one but three mechanisms of birth control pills:
inhibiting ovulation (the primary mechanism),
thickening the cervical mucus, thereby making it more difficult for sperm to travel to the egg, and
thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to the point that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized egg.
The first two mechanisms are contraceptive. The third is abortive.
When a woman taking the Pill discovers she is pregnant (according to The Physician's Desk Reference's efficacy rate tables, this is 3 percent of pill-takers each year), it means that all three of these mechanisms have failed. The third mechanism sometimes fails in its role as backup, just as the first and second mechanisms sometimes fail. Each and every time the third mechanism succeeds, however, it causes an abortion.
Medical Journals and Textbooks
The Pill alters epithelial and stromal integrins, which appear to be related to endometrial receptivity. These integrins are considered markers of normal fertility. Significantly, they are conspicuously absent in patients with various conditions associated with infertility and in women taking the Pill. Since normal implantation involves a precise synchronization of the zygote's development with the endometrium's window of maximum receptivity, the absence of these integrins logically indicates a higher failure rate of implantation for Pill-takers. According to Dr. Stephen G. Somkuti and his research colleagues, "These data suggest that the morphological changes observed in the endometrium of OC users have functional significance and provide evidence that reduced endometrial receptivity does indeed contribute to the contraceptive efficacy of OCs."8
In another research journal article, Drs. Chowdhury, Joshi and associates state, "The data suggests that though missing of the low-dose combination pills may result in 'escape' ovulation in some women, however, the pharmacological effects of pills on the endometrium and cervical mucus may continue to provide them contraceptive protection."9
Note in some of these citations "contraceptive" is used of an agent which in fact prevents the implantation of an already conceived child. Those who believe each human life begins at conception would see this function not as a contraceptive, but an abortifacient.
In a study of oral contraceptives published in a major medical journal, Dr. G. Virginia Upton, Regional Director of Clinical Research for Wyeth, one of the major birth control pill manufacturers, says, "The graded increments in LNg in the triphasic OC serve to maximize contraceptive protection by increasing the viscosity of the cervical mucus (cervical barrier), by suppressing ovarian progesterone output, and by causing endometrial changes that will not support implantation."10
Drug Facts and Comparisons says this about birth control pills in its 1997 edition:
Combination OCs inhibit ovulation by suppressing the gonadotropins, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH). Additionally, alterations in the genital tract, including cervical mucus (which inhibits sperm penetration) and the endometrium (which reduces the likelihood of implantation), may contribute to contraceptive effectiveness. An independent clinical pharmaceutical reference also contains this assertion.11
Reproductive endocrinologists have demonstrated that Pill-induced changes cause the endometrium to appear "hostile" or "poorly receptive" to implantation.12 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) reveals that the endometrial lining of Pill users is consistently thinner than that of nonusers13-up to 58 percent thinner.14 Recent and fairly sophisticated ultrasound studies15 have all concluded that endometrial thickness is related to the "functional receptivity" of the endometrium. Others have shown that when the lining of the uterus becomes too thin, implantation of the pre-born child (called the blastocyst or pre-embryo at this stage) does not occur.16
The minimal endometrial thickness required to maintain a pregnancy ranges from 5 to 13mm,17 whereas the average endometrial thickness in women on the Pill is only 1.1 mm.18 These data lend credence to the FDA-approved statement that "changes in the endometrium reduce the likelihood of implantation"19
Dr. Kristine Severyn says:
The third effect of combined oral contraceptives is to alter the endometrium in such a way that implantation of the fertilized egg (new life) is made more difficult, if not impossible. In effect, the endometrium becomes atrophic and unable to support implantation of the fertilized egg.... The alteration of the endometrium, making it hostile to implantation by the fertilized egg, provides a backup abortifacient method to prevent pregnancy.20 Researchers have repeatedly and consistently pointed out this abortifacient effect of the Pill. To date, no published studies have refuted these findings.
Dr. Walter Larimore is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine who has written over 150 medical articles in a wide variety of journals. In two major medical journal articles, he has addressed the issue of the Pill's capacity to cause early abortions. 21 In 2000, Dr. Larimore and I coauthored a chapter on this subject in The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies and the Family.22 In the same chapter, four Christian physicians present their belief that the Pill does not result in early abortions. We respectfully suggest that their case is not based solidly on the medical evidence.
What Does This Mean?
As a woman's menstrual cycle progresses, her endometrium gradually gets richer and thicker in preparation for the arrival and implantation of any newly conceived child. In a natural cycle, unimpeded by the Pill, the endometrium experiences an increase of blood vessels, which allow a greater blood supply to bring oxygen and nutrients to the child. There is also an increase in the endometrium's stores of glycogen, a sugar that serves as a food source for the blastocyst (child) as soon as he or she implants.
The Pill keeps the woman's body from creating the most hospitable environment for a child, resulting instead in an endometrium that is deficient in both food (glycogen) and oxygen. The child may die because he lacks this nutrition and oxygen.
Typically, the new person attempts to implant at six days after conception. If implantation is unsuccessful, the child is flushed out of the womb in a miscarriage. When the miscarriage is the result of an environment created by a foreign device or chemical, it is in fact an abortion. This is true even if the mother does not intend it, and is not aware of it happening.
Despite all the research, including much more presented in my full booklet, there are those who insist that these contentions are incorrect and should not be taken at face value by those concerned about early abortions. In the case of the Pill manufacturers, those who say their FDA-approved assertions are false should, in my opinion, prevail upon the FDA to change their statements, and not simply ask people to disregard them.
When the Pill thins the endometrium, it seems self-evident a zygote attempting to implant has a smaller likelihood of survival. A woman taking the Pill puts any conceived child at greater risk of being aborted than if the Pill were not being taken.
Some argue that this evidence is indirect and theoretical. But we must ask, if this is a theory, how strong and credible is the theory? If the evidence is only indirect, how compelling is that indirect evidence? Once it was only a theory that plant life grows better in rich, fertile soil than in thin, eroded soil. But it was certainly a theory good farmers believed and acted on.
Some physicians have theorized that when ovulation occurs in Pill-takers, the subsequent hormone production "turns on" the endometrium, causing it to become receptive to implantation.23 However, there is no direct evidence to support this theory, and there is at least some evidence against it. First, after a woman stops taking the Pill, it usually takes several cycles for her menstrual flow to increase to the volume of women who are not on the Pill. This suggests to most objective researchers that the endometrium is slow to recover from its Pill-induced thinning.24 Second, the one study that has looked at women who have ovulated on the Pill showed that after ovulation the endometrium is not receptive to implantation.25
Intrauterine/Extrauterine Pregnancy Ratio
Another line of evidence of the Pill's abortifacient effect is this: if the Pill has no post-fertilization effect, then reductions in the rate of intrauterine pregnancies in Pill-takers should be identical to the reduction in the rate of extrauterine (ectopic/tubal) pregnancies in Pill-takers. Therefore, an increased extrauterine/intrauterine pregnancy ratio would constitute evidence for an abortifacient effect.
Two medical studies allow review of this association.26 Conducted at seven maternity hospitals in Paris, France,27 and three in Sweden,28 the studies evaluated 484 women with ectopic pregnancies and control groups of 389 women with normal pregnancies who were admitted to the hospital for delivery during the same time period. These studies were designed, in typical fashion for "case control" studies, to determine the risk factors for a particular condition (here, ectopic pregnancy) by comparing one group of individuals known to have the condition with another group of individuals not having the condition. Both of these studies showed an increase in the extrauterine/intrauterine pregnancy ratio for women taking the Pill. Researchers who have reviewed these studies have therefore suggested that "some protection against intrauterine pregnancy is provided via the Pill's post-fertilization abortifacient effect."29
What accounts for the Pill inhibiting intrauterine pregnancies at a disproportionately greater ratio than it inhibits extrauterine pregnancies? The most likely explanation is that while the Pill does nothing to prevent a newly conceived child from implanting in the wrong place (i.e., anywhere besides the endometrium), it may sometimes do something to prevent him from implanting in the right place (i.e., the endometrium).
Arguments Against the Pill Causing Abortion
I have received a number of letters from readers, one of them a physician, who say something like this: "My sister got pregnant while taking the Pill. This is proof that you are wrong in saying that the Pill causes abortions--obviously it couldn't have, since she had her baby!"
Without a doubt, the Pill's effects on the endometrium do not always make implantation impossible. I have never heard anyone claim that they do. To be an abortifacient does not require that something always cause an abortion, only that it sometimes does.
Whether it's RU-486, Norplant, Depo-Provera, the morning after pill, the Mini-pill, or the Pill, there is no chemical that always causes an abortion. There are only those that do so never, sometimes, often, and usually.
Children who play on the freeway, climb on the roof, or are left alone by swimming pools don't always die, but this does not prove these practices are safe and never result in fatalities. We would immediately see this inconsistency of anyone who argued in favor of leaving children alone by swimming pools because they know of cases where this has been done without harm to the children. The point that the Pill doesn't always prevent implantation is certainly true, but has no bearing on the question of whether it sometimes prevents implantation, which the data clearly suggests.
People also often argue, "The blastocyst is perfectly capable of implanting in various 'hostile' sites, e.g., the fallopian tube, the ovary, the peritoneum."
Their point is that the child sometimes implants in the wrong place. This is undeniably true. But again, the only relevant question is whether the Pill sometimes hinders the child's ability to implant in the right place.
Imagine a farmer who has two places where he might plant seed. One is rich, brown soil that has been tilled, fertilized, and watered. The other is on hard, thin, dry, and rocky soil. If the farmer wants as much seed as possible to take hold and grow, where will he plant the seed? The answer is obvious, on the fertile ground.
Now, you could say to the farmer that his preference for the rich, tilled, moist soil is based on theoretical assumptions because he has probably never seen a scientific study that proves this soil is more hospitable to seed than the thin, hard, dry soil. Likely, such a study has never been done. In other words, there is no absolute proof.
But the farmer would likely reply, based on years of observation, "I know good soil when I see it. Sure, I've seen some plants grow in the hard, thin soil too, but the chances of survival are much less there than in the good soil. Call it theoretical if you want to, but we all know it's true!"
Some newly conceived children manage to survive temporarily in hostile places. But this in no way changes the obvious fact that many more children will survive in a richer, thicker, more hospitable endometrium than in a thinner, more inhospitable one.
(In other publications and in a much more detailed fashion, we have discussed these and other lines of evidence, with hundreds of citations of many scientific studies, as well as researchers and experts in numerous fields. We encourage interested readers to look more deeply into these studies and arguments.30)
Despite this evidence, some prolife physicians state that the likelihood of the Pill having an abortifacient effect is "infinitesimally low, or nonexistent."31 Though I would very much like to believe this, the scientific evidence does not permit me to do so.
Dr. Walt Larimore has told me that whenever he has presented this evidence to audiences of secular physicians, there has been little or no resistance to it. But when he has presented it to Christian physicians there has been substantial resistance. Since secular physicians do not care whether the Pill prevents implantation, they tend to be objective in interpreting the evidence. After all, they have little or nothing at stake either way. Christian physicians, however, very much do not want to believe the Pill causes early abortions. Therefore, I believe, they tend to resist the evidence. This is certainly understandable. Nonetheless, we should not permit what we want to believe to distract us from what the evidence indicates we should believe.
I have mentioned my own vested interests in the Pill that at first made me resist the evidence suggesting it could cause abortions. Dr. Larimore came to this issue with even greater vested interests in believing the best about the birth control pill, having prescribed it for years. When he researched it intensively over an eighteen-month period, in what he described to me as a "gut wrenching" process that involved sleepless nights, he came to the conclusion that in good conscience he could no longer prescribe hormonal contraceptives, including the Pill, the Minipill, Depo-Provera, and Norplant.
Statement by Twenty Prolife Physicians
Five months after the original printing of my booklet, in January 1998 a statement was issued opposing the idea that the Pill can cause abortions. According to a January 30, 1998, email sent me by one of its circulators, the statement "is a collaborative effort by several very active prolife OB-GYN specialists, and screened through about twenty additional OB-GYN specialists."
The statement is titled "Birth Control Pills: Contraceptive or Abortifacient?" Those wishing to read it in its entirety, which I recommend, can find it at our web page, at www.epm.org/doctors.html. I have posted it there because while I disagree with its major premise and various statements in it, I believe it deserves a hearing.
The title is misleading, in that it implies there are only two possible ways to look at the Pill: always a contraceptive or always an abortifacient. In fact, I know of no one who believes it is always an abortifacient. There are only those who believe it is always a contraceptive and never an abortifacient, and those who believe it is usually a contraceptive and sometimes an abortifacient.
The paper opens with this statement:
Currently the claim that hormonal contraceptives [birth control pills, implants (Norplant), injectables (Depo-Provera)] include an abortifacient mechanism of action is being widely disseminated in the prolife community. This theory is emerging with the assumed status of "scientific fact," and is causing significant confusion among both lay and medical prolife people. With this confusion in the ranks comes a significant weakening of both our credibility with the general public and our effectiveness against the tide of elective abortion.
The assertion that the presentation of research and medical opinions causes "confusion" is interesting. Does it cause confusion, or does it bring to light pertinent information in an already existing state of confusion? Would we be better off to uncritically embrace what we have always believed than to face evidence that may challenge it?
Is our credibility and effectiveness weakened through presenting evidence that indicates the Pill can cause abortions? Or is it simply our duty to discover and share the truth regardless of whether it is well-received by the general public or the Christian community?
The physicians' statement's major thesis is this: The idea that the Pill causes a hostile endometrium is a myth.
Over time, the descriptive term "hostile endometrium" progressed to be an unchallenged assumption, then to be quasi-scientific fact, and now, for some in the prolife community, to be a proof text. And all with no demonstrated scientific validation.
When I showed this to one professor of family medicine he replied, "This is an amazing claim." What's so amazing is it requires that every physician who has directly observed the dramatic Pill-induced changes in the endometrium, and every textbook that refers to these changes, has been wrong all along in believing what appears to be obvious: that when the zygote attaches itself to the endometrium its chances of survival are greater if what it attaches to is thick and rich in nutrients and oxygen than if it is not.
This is akin to announcing to a group of farmers that all these years they have been wrong to believe the myth that rich fertilized soil is more likely to foster and maintain plant life than thin eroded soil.
It could be argued that if anything may cause prolifers to lose credibility, at least with those familiar with what the Pill does to the endometrium, it is to claim the Pill does nothing to make implantation less likely.
The authors defend their position this way:
[The blastocyst] has an invasive nature, with the demonstrated ability to invade, find a blood supply, and successfully implant on various kinds of tissue, whether "hostile," or even entirely "foreign" to its usual environment-decidualized (thinned) endometrium, tubal epithelium (lining), ovarian epithelium (covering), cervical epithelium (lining), even peritoneum (abdominal lining cells).... The presumption that implantation of a blastocyst is thwarted by "hostile endometrium" is contradicted by the "pill pregnancies" we as physicians see.
This argument misses the point, since the question is not whether the zygote sometimes implants in the wrong place. Of course it does. The question, rather, is whether the newly conceived child's chances of survival are greater when it implants in the right place (endometrium) that is thick and rich and full of nutrients than in one which lacks these qualities because of the Pill. To point out a blastocyst is capable of implanting in a fallopian tube or a thinned endometrium is akin to pointing to a seed that begins to grow on asphalt or springs up on the hard dry path. Yes, the seed is thereby shown to have an invasive nature. But surely no one believes its chances of survival are as great on asphalt as in cultivated fertilized soil.
According to the statement signed by the twenty physicians, "The entire 'abortifacient' presumption, therefore, depends on 'hostile endometrium.'"
In fact, one need not embrace the term "hostile endometrium" to believe the Pill can cause abortions. It does not take a hostile or even an inhospitable endometrium to account for an increase in abortions. It only takes a less hospitable endometrium. Even if they feel "hostile" is an overstatement, can anyone seriously argue that the Pill-transformed endometrium is not less hospitable to implantation than the endometrium at its rich thick nutrient-laden peak in a normal cycle uninfluenced by the Pill?
One medical school professor told me that until reading this statement he had never heard, in his decades in the field, anyone deny the radical changes in the endometrium caused by the Pill and the obvious implications this has for reducing the likelihood of implantation. According to this physician, the fact that secular sources embrace this reality and only prolife Christians are now rejecting it (in light of the recent attention on the Pill's connection to abortions) suggests they may be swayed by vested interests in the legitimacy of the Pill.
The paper states "there are no scientific studies that we are aware of which substantiate this presumption [that the diminished endometrium is less conducive to implantation]." But it doesn't cite any studies, or other evidence, that suggest otherwise.
In fact, surprisingly, though this statement is five-pages long it contains not a single reference to any source that backs up any of its claims. If observation and common sense have led people in medicine to a particular conclusion over decades, should their conclusion be rejected out of hand without citing specific research indicating it to be incorrect?
On which side does the burden of proof fall-the one that claims the radically diminished endometrium inhibits implantation or the one that claims it doesn't?
The most potentially significant point made in the paper is this:
The ectopic rate in the USA is about 1% of all pregnancies. Since an ectopic pregnancy involves a pre-implantation blastocyst, both the "on pill conception" and normal "non pill conception" ectopic rate should be the same-about l% (unaffected by whether the endometrium is "hostile" or "friendly.") Ectopic pregnancies in women on hormonal contraception (except for the minipill) are practically unreported. This would suggest conception on these agents is quite rare. If there are millions of "on-pill conceptions" yearly, producing millions of abortions, (as some "BC pill is abortifacient" groups allege), we would expect to see a huge increase in ectopics in women on hormonal birth control. We don't. Rather, as noted above, this is a rare occurrence.
The premise of this statement is right on target. It is exactly the premise proposed by Dr. Larimore, which I've already presented. While the statement's premise is correct, its account of the data, unfortunately, is not. The studies pointed to by Dr. Larimore, cited earlier, clearly demonstrate the statement is incorrect when it claims ectopic pregnancies in women on hormonal contraception are "practically unreported" and "rare."
In fact, "a huge increase in ectopics" is exactly what we do see-an increase that five major studies put between 70% and 1390%. Ironically, when we remove the statement's incorrect data about the ectopic pregnancy rate and plug in the correct data, the statement supports the very thing it attempts to refute. It suggests the Pill may indeed cause early abortions, possibly a very large number of them.
Questions about This Problem
People raise many objections to the issues presented in this appendix, very few of which involve issues of evidential data or scientific fact. However, these objections deserve answers. These are some of the concerns I address in my booklet Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?32
"If this is true, why haven't we been told before?"
"I don't trust this evidence."
"If we don't know how often abortions happen, why shouldn't we take the Pill?"
"Spontaneous miscarriages are common; early abortions aren't that big a deal."
"Taking the Pill means fewer children die in spontaneous abortions."
"Without the Pill there would be more elective abortions."
"Pill-takers don't intend to have abortions."
"Why not just use high estrogen pills?"
"You can't avoid every risk."
"How can we practice birth control without the Pill?"
"I never knew this-should I feel guilty?"
"We shouldn't lay guilt on people by talking about this."
"We shouldn't tell people the Pill may cause abortions because they'll be held accountable."
"We've prayed about it and we feel right about using the Pill."
"This issue will sidetrack us from fighting surgical abortions."
"Prolifers will lose credibility if we oppose the Pill."
"This puts Christian physicians in a very difficult position."
"Are there any good alternatives to the Pill?"
The Pill is used by about 14,000,000 American women each year and 60,000,000 internationally. Thus, even an infinitesimally low portion (say one-hundredth of one percent) of 780 million Pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually. How many young lives have to be jeopardized for prolife believers to question the ethics of using the Pill? This is an issue with profound moral implications for those believing we are called to protect the lives of children.
Eternal Perspective Ministries 2229 E. Burnside #23, Gresham, OR 97030, Phone 503-663-6481, www.epm.org
"Toward the Heights"............
A common phrase used to describe Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's life. Bl. Pier Giorgio saw life as a way to always reach the top - whether it be climbing the Mountains of Europe or, more importantly, reaching the heights in his Spiritual Life as well.
May the man of Beatitudes pray for us that we may have the same drive and desire to serve Our Lord as we serve others.