August 2005 Archives


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I haven't posted on Katrina, there are other bloggers who are doing a much better job. Go read Amy Welborn and follow the links she's posted. I'm just numb thinking about it. I've been through major natural disasters but I think this will be the manure at the bottom of the outhouse for quite some time.

My midwife friend Nancy (who is still unemployed thanks to her fervent pro-life and anti-contraception stance) has multiple members of her family in the New Orleans area. She has asked for prayers for them.

One of the docs in my practice was taking her son to start college at Tulane. Last we heard they were both in Houston. I wonder if Tulane will still even be there.

I have a few internet friends in the affected areas. I've been watching for their sig lines. So far, haven't heard. No news isn't always good news.

I feel blessed that we decided not to stay an extra night in Birmingham. As we were leaving, the clerks at the hotel told us that they expected to be full up that night with refugees. By leaving, we freed up a room for some one else.

I've been praying but I don't even have the words to phrase the prayers. It's been more:
Lord, help good to come from this tragedy. Lord, show us your will and your compassion.

addendum - katrina blogging from TTLB

great news from a blog friend


some of what I did on my summer vacation


My grandmother was a First Grade teacher until they forcibly retired her. She taught at All Saint's Episcopal Day School starting in the 1950s and ending but a few years ago. She is an inveterate reader and is at least partially responsible for my addiction. I lived with her for a year (second grade) and went to All Saint's, where I learned the Angelus from the Anglican nuns who taught religion. Anyhow. I digress. Gram is a book nut, and that hasn't changed despite her age (91 in June). My dad sent her out from California to Kentucky to visit my sister for a few weeks while her house in being remodeled. Gram quickly read her way through Cat's library, so Cat asked me to bring a few books for Gram. Well, I am always glad to try to find new homes for my orphaned books, so I packed up a shopping bag full of paperback novels (mysteries mostly - Gram loves Dick Frances and other mystery writers - and she is the one who got me hooked on science fiction). My dear eldest daughter had asked us to bring her some groceries (specialty items) and I also packed along a couple of loaves of zucchini bread. I figured that coming back I could probably put an empty suitcase inside of the bigger one and have one less bag to drag through the airport.
What I had not counted on is that my daughter (the one in Memphis) has a second job - working in a used book store.

I think I brought home more books than I took with me.

When we went to visit her at the bookstore, some lovely person had just dropped off a couple of boxes of Catholic books. There were several that the bookstore did not think they could sell, and so they were offered to us as freebies. Then there were several more that were the usual reasonably priced used....and now there is another pile to be read, sorted, and shelved........

My daughter's day job is as a radio producer. In her last place of employment, she acquired multiple books from agents (aka book-pimps) hoping that she would consider booking the authors on the radio show. So for the last few years, Christmas has also been books galore.

There was a meme going around the blogosphere a while back - how many books does one own? TS posted

Someone with more books than Steven Riddle, who guestimates 20,000. Scott Hahn has about 50,000. Sorry Steven.

Update: From the email bag: "My hubby says that to the intellectual the size of one's personal library is akin to the size of one's personal anatomy for Nascar aficionados."

I just realized that I have no clue how many books live in my house and garage. There seems to be a physical mandate that any book that leaves must be replaced by 2 others. Tribbles, anyone?

news from Mark Shea



One of the things we did on vacation was to listen to Mark Shea on CD while driving the 2000 miles we racked up on the rental car. If the book is even half as good as the talk, we are all in for a treat. And knowing that the book (for me at least) is usually much better than any other form of information retrieval, well, I expect this to be 200 % better than the talk.
yee haw!!!

home again

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Yes, I did drink lots of sweet tea. I don't usually order iced tea in restaurants except in the South were I know the tea will be fresh and brewed. Only had one bad experience - the tea at the Krystal burger in West Memphis (the one with the free wireless hotspot) had turned.
More later on "What I did on my summer vacation".

from my inbox -please keep praying

Dear all,

You may remember a few months ago I posted a prayer request for a close friend of mine, Abigail Witchalls who was stabbed in the neck while walking her 2 year old son close to her house. Many of you prayed, and I do really thank you for that. i thought you may be interested to know the situation now. Abigail is now 5 months pregnant and the pregnancy is progressing normally (she discovered she was pregnant with her second child only after the attack). The knife wound was revealed to have severed her spinal cord completely, according to scans. She was left fully paralysed from the neck down. Abigail's case caught the media's attention everyday for several a young (26yrs) devoutly Catholic mother, Abigail was an amazing witness to the Faith - telling reporters, through a tube in her throat, how blessed she was, and that 'God was doing beautiful things'...she asked people for their prayers, and her heroic way of suffering was an insipration to many. Newspaper articles were written about her. people who didnt know her were being brought back to the Church. She received tens of thousands of letters and cards, and communities worldwide were praying for her.

Over the last couple fo months, Abi has amazed doctors with her recovery. Despite being told she would never regain feeling below the neck, and that she would likely not be able to breathe alone, Abi is now experiecing sensations over every part of her body. She can now move her legs a little and has had movements in her right arm especially. She breathes alone fully, and is speaking too (in a whisper). the knife wound affected her vocal chords so her voice isnt fully back to normal. She can now also eat without relying on a tube through the nose. Last month, her husband was allowed to bring her to a park local to the hospital where we met her with our children, for a party for her son's second birthday.

It is worth bearing in mind that after the attack, two doctors declared her brain dead, and one said that even if she did recover she would be severely brain-damaged and if she should have a heart attack it "wouldnt be worth reviving her".

Abigail's spirits, thought the last few months, have been high, and despite all the problems stacked up against her, she is full of hope. She says she has really benefitted by everyone's prayers - not just for her but for her husband and child...and the one on the womb. She has even been told, that, despite her severe paralysis, that she can give birth naturally should she want to (which she does).

Please would you continue to pray for Abigail. She still has a long way to go. the baby will be born around Christmas time, and as yet she has not enough movement to be able to hold or support the baby alone. She really wants people to pray that her arms gain sufficient movement for her to be able to hold the baby and to breastfeed.

Some of us as friends and her family have decided to start a 40 day pray and fast period for Abigail. The 40 days starts today and ends on October 13 - the anniversaary of the last day of apparitions from Our Lady of Fatima. It seems that Our Lady of fatima, and JPII have been quite involved in Abigail's recovery.

thanks again for your prayers. Hope you don't mind me posting this on this site.


on the road again

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blogging from the lobby of the Best Western in Irondale Alabama.
It's been an intense few days of 'vacation'. Landed in Nashville Tuesday PM and drove down to Memphis to our daughter's house. Had dinner, slept there, then the next morning got in the car with her and proceeded to drive to Lexington Kentucky. Visited with my sister and her family, including my 91 y/o granma who was visiting from Southern California. Thursday night we had dinner at a working horse farm. My brother in law is a handicapper for the ponies. Friday morning left and drove back to Memphis, dropped daughter off for her job, got back in the car and drove through Mississippi to Alabama.

This morning we got up early and went to Mass at EWTN. I don't know if any of you watch it, but I was on the right side near the wall, wearing a pink dress and a white hat. We wandered around EWTN, then we drove out to Hanceville and visited the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. I highly recommend visiting there, it is truly awesome. Tomorrow we will go to Mass at EWTN - I'll be wearing a flowered dress and a white hat if you want to look for me on TV!
Then tomorrow it will be back to Memphis, dinner and spend the night with our daughter again. Monday back to Nashville, turn in the rental car, and fly back home.
end of travelogue. substantial content to follow.

abortion pill kills 4 women


Mifeprex Warnings Updated in Wake Of Four Deaths: Sepsis identified as cause of death.

“There are no alarm bells going off because of this rate. But we are watching very closely,” Steven Galston, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said at a press conference announcing the new warnings.

VBAC in USA Today

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sort of a blog


from a thierd year medical student
Heart Failure - Miscarriage of Justice

and every writer should adhere to these principles.
Commenting for newbies

Childbirth resources


must be something in the air

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TSO has a post up on Calvinism - it's a bit more like Jeff Miller than TSO, though. Or maybe it just shows another side of his talents.
I personally found it hilarious - I wonder what an equivalent would be for Catholicism?

four point calvinist

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(continued from the comments box in the previous post)
My good friend Kathryn writes:

I consider myself a "4 Point Calvinist"... .
(accepting all the doctrines below except for "Limited Atonement")

1. T ~ Total Depravity of Man (effect of the fall)
Calvinism - Total Depravity of Man

2. U ~ Unconditional election (God's choice to save some but not all from the effects of the fall)
Calvinism - Unconditional Election

3. L ~ Limited Atonement (Christ died for only the elect that God chooses to save)
Calvinism - Limited Atonement

4. I ~Irrestisitble Grace (Grace given to the elect to receive salvation which is effectual and irresistible)
Calvinism - Irresistible Grace

5. P ~ Perseverance of the Saints (the ability of the saints to persevere in saving grace)
Calvinism - Perseverance of the Saints

I must confess, reading the theology links she sent me to explain these doctrines gave me a major headache. Even though it is in English, it is still a foreign language, a specialized use of terminology, and I don't quite understand what is being taught. Nor do I see the Biblical connections, nor even how the oral and written tradition from the time of the Reformation quite connects all these doctrines to the desires of Christ for His people.

Patty Bonds (sister of Protestant evangelist James White) has written a bit about how there is a cultural and language divide between Protestant and Catholic Christians - where we both use the same word to mean very different things.

Maybe that is part of what I don't get - I don't speak Calvinist. Although I was raised Protestant, I was raised High Church Anglican, and on my journey home, I wandered through Baptist and Pentecostal Christianity, and flirted with Orthodox (Chasidic) Judaism. I didn't study Calvin, I only read a little Luther,knew of Zwingli only from references to his government of Zurich in the novel Hawaii. While I loved the liturgical language of Cranmer, I found his theology more of an apologetic for Henry VII and Elizabeth I that for Christianity.

The theological problem I have with Calvinism is that, to my eyes and ears, it seems to deny God's gift to us of free will. I would appreciate anyone who might be able to offer me more insight on this. I have other issues, as well. But free will is the most important one. I also sense some common ground with Manicheism and Donatism in Calvinism, but it could also be my misunderstanding of the language of his theology. I am willing to listen to commentary. I also have a question. Is the common understanding of "Perserverance of the Saints" translate into "Once saved, always saved'?

I am reading a book right now on the history of heresies through the ages (Dissent from the Creed by Richard Hogan. One observation that the book makes is that dogmas are promulgated usually in response to a heresy of some kind that questions an accepted but inarticulated item of faith. It makes for some very interesting reading. I have only gotten to the 700s and Iconoclasm so far, and I have had to repeatedly resist the temptation to skip ahead to the present times. I'll try to put up a book review when I'm finished with it - put so far so good. Not a fast read, by any stretch. Very dense and meaty.

I am also going to try to take some time and go through the Catechism to investigate the entirety of the Church's teachings on Salvation. I worry about taking bits out of context, whether those bits be scripture or tradition. I'm not sure where I will find the time, but I sense that this is important.

Thanks again for all the prayers. Please pray not only for me, but for Kathryn and for all those who seek the truth that Jesus promised when He told Peter (and all of us) "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light" (John 14:6)
The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Calvin
further addendum (pulled from the comments box)
Jimmy Akin on TULIP

apsergers anyone?

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faith and salvation


satire, straight news, and whatnot


Bene Diction Blogs On: Don't mess with Nature

Struck by lightning. scary.

what do you think?


feeling snarky

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I had a wretched day at work yesterday. I came the closest I ever have to turning into a screaming banshee that has ever happened in the nearly 5 years I have worked there. I am not proud of my behaviour or reactions, but at least I managed to get through the day without a total meltdown. It's a good thing I'm going to be away from there for over a week, I think. One of my staff is fighting some of the procedural changes (going to a new lab service, changing over to computer based charting) with incredibly effective passive aggression and I am beating my head against the wall trying to do my job in the face of this resistance. Pray for her, will you?

I'm calming down a bit after a good night's sleep and time with my hubby. Still I just realized how out of it I really am when I had a way out of line reaction to a random trigger. I really need to offer some of this up. Would you all pray for me please? We're flying out Tuesday. Flying in to Nashville, driving from there down to Memphis to our eldest daughter's place. Then Wednesday morning up to Lexington KY to my sister's and to visit my 91 y/o grandmother who is visiting my sister for a few weeks. Then back to Memphis to drop off daughter. Then (hopefully) down to tour EWTN and visit the shrine. Then back to Memphis for one last visit with dd and then back to Nashville to fly home. Haven't had any nibbles from fellow bloggers looking to try to meet up. Oh well. I guess that will have to wait for a Texas trip.

In case you are curious - the trigger for my snark attack this morning? It was seeing a writer who really should know better confuse discreet and discrete. Then reins and reigns. I really need to join a support group for recovering editors! And maybe I need to eat breakfast before hitting the blogs.........

many are called?

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Most of us converts, sooner or later, end up with one sticking point or another on our journey into the Church. For some, it is the doctrine of purgatory. For others, it might be the role of Mary, or praying through the saints, or some Catholic devotional practices that to an outsider seem totally weird. It is rare for the emotional acceptance and the intellectual acceptance of Catholicism to be on the same place at the same time. Often, they aren't even in the same continent! It is also amusing to note how often the issues that start out as the biggest barrier often end up as the strongest conviction - at least that is what I have seen as I have read conversion stories. Would you believe that my biggest problem with Catholicism was the Church's teaching on sexual ethics?

I'm not a professional apologist, I'm basically a well-read and thoughtful convert. I can give the answers to the objections that I had to the faith, but it is much harder to think through issues that weren't a problem for me! There is so much that I don't know, that I haven't investigated, that I take on faith. Roma locuta est. Some things I accept because Rome has spoken. To my mind, the point of my profession of faith was that I recognized the authority passed on from the Apostles in an unbroken chain. I may be (and often have been) disobedient. I'm a sinner, not a saint, though I hope and pray that I'm improving with age. I hope that I can avoid trying to justify my sins by arguing that the Church is wrong to call them sins. I'm glad that the church will still have me - that she is a hospital for sinners not just a museum for saints. I pray that I will be granted the time I need here on this earth to "work out my salvation in fear and trembling".

I have a friend, a devout Christian friend, who has asked me a question that I have tried to answer to the best of my poor abilities. It has to do with salvation - not necessarily her own salvation, but the salvation of others. I personally have not given a lot of thought to the salvation of others - maybe I should? But my personal attitude is to share the Truth as I have found it, to pray for those others, and to leave their salvation in the hands of God.

My friend has questions about a section of the Catechism. She was reading through the Luke E.Hart Series, What Catholics Believe, Section 5 Jesus Christ:(Published by Knights of Columbus)

"Because adherents of other religions do not acknowledge that salvation comes through Christ, and sometimes do not even accept anything like the Christian understanding of salvation, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot receive the salvation offered through Christ. (CCC) 1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
Scripture teaches that God "wants all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4 ). Christ's salvation is intended for all. (CCC) 605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."
Her question:

So, does the Catholic church teach and believe that it is not necessary to have faith in Christ to have eternal life in Christ, be born again, saved from sin, death, hell and the grave, etc......?

I know that God is certainly "able" to save anyone, but has God Himself not said that if we do not know the Son, we cannot know the Father? Would God not somehow supernaturally reveal Himself as Christ to such a person as described above if he or she were never able to hear the gospel, or to intellectually understand it ? ( like, for example a mentally handicapped person).

(me again) I have to believe that God will reach out somehow and save those who seek him with sincerity. I prefer to leave the details to Him. But I also worry, with my friend, that the two paragraphs of the CCC quoted above can be interpreted in a manner that encourages indifferentism, the false ecumenism that haunts our culture. I don't think that the Church has ever said that it doesn't matter who one worships or how one worships. Quite the contrary. I think that she has repeatedly said that once one is convinced of the truth of the doctrines and dogmas, that the church is the pillar and foundation of that truth (1 Timothy 3:15), then obedience delayed is obedience denied.

But do these statements mean, for example, that an Islamist terrorist who believes that suicide bombing is the will of God, may yet end up in Heaven? Please remember that the operative verb is "can be saved" - not "will be saved". Very important fine point of meaning!
I think that what the CCC states is that such a scenario is not impossible - that a moment of death conversion is possible (though I would find it highly unlikely but I have to remember that I am not God - thank God!). Is that fair? Is that just? That a man who finally receives the Word at the last moment should have the same reward as one who has spent a lifetime working for the Lord? That Cardinal Newman and Oscar Wilde should both eventually claim a place at the banquet table of the Lord? (after whatever time is spent getting the dross burnt off in Purgatory, of course).

Consider the parable of the workers in the vineyard Matthew 20:1-16
1 The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle.

4 And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.

5 And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.

6 But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?

7 They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go ye also into my vineyard.

8 And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.

9 When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny.

11 And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,

12 Saying: These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.

13 But he answering said to one of them: friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?

14 Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.

15 Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?

16 So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen.

want to get together?

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Next week, my husband and I will be flying in to Nashville TN and renting a car. We have a week of vacation, and have made plans to visit my sister (in Lexington KY) and our daughter (in Memphis TN). As you can see, we will be traveling about a bit.

If any of you all in that general area would like us to try to get to your neighbornood, email me or drop me a comment.

We might even try to get down to EWTN.

We just made this plan, and we are still filling in the details.

homeschooling, anyone?


Conjugal Love and Procreation:


God's Design

From the bishop of Patterson NJ.
Way to go, Bishop Serratelli!

why I do what I do

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Selkie: Doors

Birth matters. It does.

Why not hire midwives, instead?

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Some health systems explore laborists idea
... why not hire doctors who will work only in the hospital, mainly delivering babies?

By hiring what have been called "laborists" and paying their malpractice insurance costs, the hospital could take the pressure off community doctors and possibly help with two related problems. Nationwide, fewer doctors, including obstetricians, want to serve "on call" for hospital emergency rooms. And rising malpractice insurance costs are causing some obstetricians to retire or cut back on OB services.



(thanks to an old friend of mine who emailed this to me - just in time, too!)

When a co-worker comes in a little too happy singing "Good Morning" to everyone and you think, "Somebody needs to slap the s#@! out of her". You need to pray at work.

When someone comes in and announces, "Office meeting in 5 minutes," and you think, "What the f*&% do they want now?" You need to pray at work.

When your computer is mysteriously turned off and you want to say, "Which one of you sons of b*&^%$# turned off my computer?" You need to pray at work.

When you and a co-worker are discussing something, and a third person comes in and says, "Well at my last office...," and you want to throw a stapler at him. You need to pray at work.

When you hear a co-worker call your name and the first thing that crosses your mind is, "What the h*&# does she want now?" and you try to hide underneath your desk. You need to pray at work.

When you are asked to stay late and help do someone else's work and the first thing that pops in your head is, "Both of y'all can kiss my a@@!!". You need to pray at work.

When you're in the elevator and it stops to pick up someone who stood for five minutes waiting for the darn thing only to go DOWN one floor, and you say "That lazy b*&%$#". You need to pray at work.

When you take some vacation time and come back to find a mountain of paperwork sitting on your desk because no one else would do it and you think, "That sorry a## M#$^%F%&#s". You need to pray at work.

If you have ever thought about poisoning, choking, punching, slapping or flattening someone's tires that you work with. You need to pray at work.

If you avoid saying more than hello or how are you doing to someone because you know it's going to lead to their life story . You need to pray at work.

If you know all the words that have been bleeped out. You need to pray at work!



or, those who do not study history often end up trapped in it.

There is a discussion over on another blog about whether or not altruism is essentially evil. It started as a philosophical question comparing Ayn Rand to Robert Heinlein, and as those things tend to, it devolved a bit. It started me to thinking about how often what seems, on the face of it, to be A Good Idea, often turns out to be the beginning of a particularly virulent form of social insanity. And that got me to thinking about Dr. John Rock.

Dr. Rock was at one time a devout Catholic and a daily communicant. He was a skilled (and by all accounts) compassionate Ob/Gyn, devoted to his patients, wanting to help those who were unable to conceive to be able to have the children they so wanted. He was also troubled by women whose health was seriously affected by pregnancy. When he started his practice, there were no antibiotics, and only a rudimentary understanding of the natural process of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. Twilight sleep (heavy doses of morphine for pain, scopolamine to erase memory, and ether or chloroform for the actual birth) was quite common for childbirth. Large episiotomy and routine forceps delivery was quite common. Women were kept in bed for days after giving birth, and blood clots were a common complication of childbirth. With no antibiotics, and with only primitive surgical techniques, cesareans were often a death sentence, and many women were damaged, sometimes permanently, from the management of their 'lying-in'. It would be decades before it became clear that many of the interventions meant to prevent damage from childbirth actually contributed to the problems.

Despite his vociferous profession and practice of Catholicism, in 1931, Dr. Rock called for repeal of the Massachussets law banning the sale of contraceptive devices (in those days, condoms and diaphragms). Casti Connubii had already been promulgated in response to the Anglican's endorsement of contraception in marriage "for serious reasons". I am not sure that he was aware of either of these developments from Europe, but it is clear that Dr. Rock endorsed at least in principle the idea of birth control. I don't understand why his pastor and/or his bishop didn't correct him at this point. Could it have been because the Cardinal archbishop was the one who officiated at his wedding? Or could it have been because the law would also forbid teaching the basics of determining the fertile and infertile period?

In 1936 Dr. Rock started a clinic teaching the Ogino-Knaus rhythm method, using the calendar and the thermometer. However, he was frustrated by the enormous variability of the menstrual cycle, and eventually wrote it off (quite publicly, in the New England Journal of Medicine). He felt that the degree of abstinence required was unrealistic. His eventual bent in research was to find a method of manipulating the menstrual cycle to artificially extend the natural infertile period. He did find it useful, though, in counseling infertile and marginally fertile couples in how to time relations to maximize their chances of conception.

The basic research into female reproductive hormones that eventually led to the birth control pill was initially intended to help the infertile woman. Dr. Rock was also convinced that medication that simply created infertility (by replicating the hormonal milieu of the infertile times of the menstrual cycle) should be considered 'natural' and endorsed by the Church. Dr. Rock was one of many researchers in the 1930s who elucidated the varying roles of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH. He developed the basic technique of endometrial biopsy and was the first to use it to date the menstrual cycle and identify the hormonal milieu of ovulation.

The understanding of the dance of the hormones has also helped give NFP a scientific basis way beyond that of Ogino and Knaus. I find it tragic that Dr. Rock became so convinced of his own rightness that he abandoned trying to understand and started trying to control. In reading his biography I learned that he may well have been one of the more influential persons who redefined pregnancy as beginning not at conception but at the positive pregnancy test.

Starting in 1938, he deliberately scheduled ("medically necessary") hysterectomies for women in the post-ovulatory phases of their cycles (as determined by their rhythm/temperature charts), telling the women to go ahead and have relations then. During the course of the suregery, the team would search for the eggs, fertilized or un. Dr. Rock and his research partner did not "consider the conceptuses they hoped to find to be abortuses".

Over the 14 years that the study was conducted, the team found 34 fertilized eggs, representing the first 17 days of life. Amazingly, the general public never heard of this research even after it was published. These specimins of human life at its earliest stages are still the only such collection in existence.

Reading his biography I learned how intertwined the concepts of assisted reproduction and contraception truly are. Rock carried out experiments in artificial insemination and pioneered cryopreservation of human sperm - reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility in 1946. Even earlier (1944), he reported successful in vitro fertilization - performed by his highly skilled lab assistant from eggs collected during hysterectomy and sperm donated by medical students. These early stage embryos, along with the 34 embryos collected, are still in the Carnegie Collection in Maryland.

The hormonal manipulation that led to the birth control pill also grew out of attempts to correct infertility. Dr. Rock had a theory that 'resting the ovaries' might restore their function. He administered high doses of progesterone - similar to the levels one would find after ovulation or during pregnancy - for months on end. This completely suppressed ovulation and the menstrual cycle, and many of his patients did go on to conceive once their bodies restarted ovulation after treatment was ended. (I'm guessing that this was therapeutic for endometriosis - without the menstrual cycle, the endometrial implants would shrink).

From this, the birth control pill was eventually developed. In vitro fertilization with embryo transfer (IVF-ET) grew out of his basic research. And from the mass production of embryos for infertility, we now have the social pressure to put these 'unwanted' embryos to 'good use' as research tools.

The intents were of the best - to help women to avoid conception if pregnancy would be damaging to health or well-being and also to help those who wanted to conceive be able to do so. And yet - and yet. Losing sight of the means and focusing on the ends has led to both more and less of what was sought. The ultimate separation of sexuality and procreation has been a major factor in changing the overall culture. I have no doubt that there are families who have used contraception and/or assisted reproductive technologies who have not found these to be anything but helpful (in their own perception)to themselves as individuals. But the overall effect on our culture has been to make marriage and monogamy seem to be unecessary or luxury items, not a basic foundation for family. Sex need not lead to children, and children don't necessarily require a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, and the whole cultural basis of family is affected.

The earthquake was many decades ago, and we are still getting aftershocks.

pregnant bellies

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No, she's not making this up.


St Vincent de Paul, ora pro nobis


Scandal in France concerning mishandling of the remains of aborted and stillborn infants.

I don't think that we can assume this to have been a Catholic hospital (despite the name). At least I hope not.

urgent prayers needed

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Pulling for Denise
is a blog about a young woman who is critically ill. Please add her and her family to your prayer lists!

I have known of at least one maternal death related to the disease that she has. This is critical, and this disease is almost unknown outside of California.

i'm still here

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busy time of year
delivered (this one was not an easy 'catch') a 5030 gm baby boy my last call night. that's 11 #, 2.5' for you non-metric types.
my arm is still sore from unhooking his rather stuck shoulder!
lots of thoughts but not much time to write them down.
Bill Frist lost my vote - and I'm currently a NH voter. mentally writing my letter to him.
thoughts about the news report on the hazards of the contraceptive patch, including an overhead phone conversation.
lots more stuff.
meanwhile, there are LOTS of good posts available in all the usual blogs.

February 2013

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The WeatherPixie

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