Category Archives: natural family planning

Burning with the Fire of Truth: Are We Pro-life or Just Pro-birth? The Contraception Debate

While house hunting, we happened upon a sweet southern lady. She would turn out to be the previous owner of our current abode, a fine gentlewoman full of spunk and hospitality. Proudly, she pointed out what she considered to be a pivotal selling point. In her melodic drawl, she advised, “Y’all can burn in the country!” Spying the numerous blackened patches and charred stumps that dotted the grounds, it was clear she practiced what she pitched. Deed transferred, we’d come to appreciate the necessity for yard waste disposal with the abundance of flower and fauna spread across our yardage.
A few years later, the deep gully in our chicken yard had amassed an ample amount of logs and limbs, dragged down from our neighbor’s lot by fierce spring rains. Added to that was the dry, weathered Fraser fir from Christmas past and all the twisted, rotting scraps the kids had freed from my azalea bushes. Seeing as the weather was the right balance of early fall temperatures combined with still summer air, I set about to preparing a controlled bonfire.
Carefully, I built two piles as my helpers stretched the long, green hose from the nearest spigot. Once all safety precautions had been enabled, I stuck the match and set the blaze. It would surely have done Mrs. Wade proud to see those flames dancing hot and steady. There’s something about a bonfire that excites the heart. Maybe its the inviting warmth that calls you closer or maybe its the hypnotic tongues of fire lapping up the oxygen. My brood and I fed and monitored that burn until the sun started its descent. Then, as the smells of supper wafted out from the kitchen, I decided it was time to enlist Smokey’s advice (to prevent forest fires) so I pointed the hose squarely at the center of the flames.
A good bit of time passed with me standing guard, hose in hand. Enough water had met its target so that a small swift river was flowing down the gulley and all appearances of smoke had ceased. The wood looked thoroughly saturated in my estimation; therefore, I called it a day and headed inside.
Satisfied that I’d accomplished my day’s task of rendering most of our yard waste to ash and properly extinguishing any resultant threat, I peacefully laid my head down that night. You might imagine my shock at what I discovered the next morning. Smoke and heat were wafting from my pile which was also substantially smaller than when I’d left it. Apparently, my fire woman skills were lacking as I’d failed to snuff out the source of the fire.
The crew and I participated in the 41st annual March for Life in Washington, DC earlier this month. Coverage of the event is always minimal at best so any mention of it calls my attention. Scrolling on social media I was intrigued by an article debating the tactics of Michael Voris of The Vortex at the March. Brendan Malone, on TheLeading Edge, alleged that Mr. Voris was creating divisions among pro-lifers at the event because while interviewing attendees he asked whether or not they supported contraception. It seems many were accepting and saw no dilemma in their stance.
While I won’t weigh in either way on Mr. Voris’ tactics, I must agree with the point he was trying hard to make. According to Guttmacher statsapproximately 68-72% of Catholic women contracept. Certainly, Catholics are not the only pro-lifers, but that statistic is similar to the population at large.
Well, everyone knows that access to affordable, convenient contraception reduces the need for abortion, right? I mean pro-lifers need to target their attention on the bigger problem at large which is simply the aborting of the unborn, agreed? I mean these are two separate battles, aren’t they?
Consider that according to Guttmacher, “Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.” Only, 8% have never used contraceptives. Get that? More than half of women seeking to dispose of their unborn babes had been attempting to frustrate their conception in the first place (i.e. thought they couldn’t get pregnant because they were using contraceptives).
What Mr. Voris was trying to expose, I believe, was the ember that fuels the raging firestorm of abortion.
I’ve written about contraception before (you can read more HERE and HERE), but undoubtedly the topic is far from exhausted. As the interviewer unveiled at the March, many pro-lifers are soaking the blaze with good efforts and righteous confrontation, but until we target the interior ignitor we will never fully succeed in the fight.
Going back to those stats it is clear that contraception does not reduce abortions, indeed it actually leads to more abortions.
Firstly, it is important to remember that hormonal contraceptives like the Pill and devices like the IUD are, in and of themselves, abortifacients. That means they can and do abort newly conceived children before their mothers even know of their creation. So, to begin with, contraceptives abort babies. Just because no one has discovered their conception doesn’t nullify their killing.
“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: 1)inhibiting ovulation, 2)thickening cervical mucus, and 3) 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.”Additionally, the mini-pill, the IUD and

the drug RU-486 have abortion as the primary operation.

Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?(Eternal Perspective Ministries: 2007)
Secondly, contraceptives delude couples into thinking sex and procreation are not necessarily connected events. Men hear that a woman’s fertility is a feature they can opt out of; and women are sold the idea that their healthy, functioning bodies are in need of medical intervention. A child is nothing more than choice. This distorted notion is the oxygen feeding this inferno. When a man and woman view sexual intercourse as nothing more than a pleasurable activity void of long-term effects, they don’t bother to consider or plan for the future or a different outcome. The unexpected child is then viewed as a threat and a failure, a problem to be remedied.
The medical community has done a fantastic job at convincing the populous that it has the remedy for most of what ails us. (Unfortunately, they have incorrectly taught women that fertility is an ailment when instead it is a healthy, function of the female body.) Indeed it has done its job so well that now people sue their doctor when his promises of health and vitality fall flat. Remembering that more than half of those seeking abortion were depending on contraception to avoid the “problem” of a child in the first place, it is easy to see the “need” for a back-up plan. And the medical community has filled the need by offering abortions. Not only is abortion the back-up to contraceptive failures, it is the extended money maker.
Oh, but my doctor doesn’t “do” abortions, you argue. Well, if your doctor wrote a prescription for your “sister’s” contraceptive then he/she is complicit in abortion- via the abortifacient components of the contraceptives or her decision to procure a back-up abortion.
By further extension, if patients have been promised sex without procreative consequences, they certainly aren’t interested in the unexpected blessing of a child with special needs. No worries, the medical community is happy to weed out those pesky, needy children whose parents bothered to consider allowing the unplanned pregnancy to continue.
Like the hot burning ember contained in the core of my bonfire, so is contraception to the pro-life fight. Sex divorced of procreation is, simply and honestly, a lie. True, there are ethical means by which to postpone pregnancy, but couples who choose to practice periodic abstinence understand that sex is the means to the procreative powers.
If the pro-life movement doesn’t acknowledge that contraception leads directly to abortion, then it will never succeed in extinguishing the wildfire. We didn’t begin this tragedy with 54 million dead babies on the abortionist’s floor (that is in America alone, not counting those babes aborted through contraceptive means), we began it with the erroneous belief that conception was separate from sex. If we hope to end this holocaust, we need to train our nozzle of energy, time and resources at the central igniter, as well as the burn pile.

Send In the Laborers, When We Have A Ministry To Fulfill

Perhaps you could blame it on late pregnancy nesting mode or maybe just that time of year, but I simply couldn’t stand another minute of our overgrown yard, the malodorousness ofturkeys under the back patio and all those forgotten plastic

cups strewn about the grounds. With a small army of children, one might fantasize that Brelinskyville runs like sap in summer, but alas too often these soldiers are hiding in their fox holes. The breaking point hit, I rallied the troops and doled out assignments.

Of course, knowing my children all too well, I took precautionary measures to prevent fatigue, heat exhaustion and over-active bladder evacuations. I provided cold beverages and locked the doors to the house.
With me as the constant fore-mama, my crew trimmed the bushes, weeded the garden beds, filled the compost, mowed the lawns, trimmed the edges, scrubbed the patio and transported the turkeys a little further from my nasal parameters. All in all a productive day, although much remains to be done from repairing the roof and chicken field fences to curing the black spot on the rose bushes and repainting the chairs.
More Laborers Hardly Seems The Problem
The day’s tasks completed, covered in sweat and grass stains, I eagerly called it quits and headed straight for the shower. Under that hot streaming water, my mind recollected the parable from the bible about needing more laborers for the harvest (Luke 10:1-9). However, with seven children and one more on the way the necessity for more laborers hardly seems to be the issue in this household, rather I pray that they might embrace the threshing readily rather than planning to come late to the field while still expecting equal pay.
Washing away all that outdoor grime took a considerable about of effort and time (okay that’s my excuse for taking full advantage of the peace, solitude and warmth of a long shower), so my thoughts continued to extrapolate. I remembered the many prayers I’ve offered requesting laborers for the Natural Family Planning ministry. As half of a teaching couple, I’m all too aware of the shortage of volunteers, not to mention physicians.
During a conversation with an area priest, he brought to my attention the severe lack of Spanish speaking NFP instructors and said this topic often comes up in the confessional. How frustrating it must be for him to offer spiritual direction, but lack the referral sources to aid couples in fulfilling their marital vocation when they’ve discerned a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy.
I am often privileged to hear from women who have questions about their fertility cycles and their practice of the method, but sometimes those questions would be best addressed in the physician’s office. Unfortunately, if teachers are scarce, truly pro-life, well-educated (on the topic of NFP and morally licit infertility treatments) physicians are nearly non-existent in many areas of the country. In my own state, I’ve had to drive 4 hours from home to get the proper medical care.
Perhaps more than any other time, the harvest is rich, but the laborers are few.
Fresh and Clean, I Filed In
Later that evening, fresh and cleaned up after our busy work day, we filled in our usual pew at the vigil Mass. My parable ponderings had long since drifted away, but as Father began to proclaim the gospel they were summoned back. This Sunday’s reading was the parable that had rambled through my brain earlier. Certainly a moment of Divine Providence speaking directly into my ears, as I hadn’t prepared ahead of time and so had no earlier knowledge of this weekend’s gospel message.
How biting was the reminder that this job as laborer was not intended to be an easy one.“Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.” Jesus minced no words. He didn’t attempt to sell a sanitized version of the opportunity He had to offer, no bait and switch from Christ. He was sending seventy-two men out before Him with the promise of detractors eager to devour them and no material provisions to allay their temporal concerns.
When my husband and I were certified to teach the sympto-thermal method through The Couple to Couple nearly ten years ago, we were on-fire evangelists, laborers ready to charge into the fields. Books in hand, slides in the projector, we thought our zeal would be enough to spark an increased interest in our parish. Instead our booth at the parish ministry fair caused friends and acquaintances to make a wide circle around us. Like we were enclosed in an invisible bubble, they avoided all eye contact and left us feeling less than successful in our mission to share the Truth.
We soldiered on through the years content that God had a purpose for us in this ministry; however, a few years ago after so many personal trials I began to doubt. On the other end of the advice line, I stood confused and disappointed. Unable to figure out the answers to my own health/fertility questions, how could I continue to minister in this capacity. How could a farmer offer advice on how to grow a healthy harvest when his own crops were failing?
Having made up my mind with my husband’s full support, we were dropping the plow and throwing down the hoe. Someone else could do a better job. Someone else, who was filled with that zeal we’d long since lost, could step into our role.
Where Were Our Provisions?
Now listening to the gospel parable, I realized we’d been hoping for provisions. Having set up camp in out-lying southern towns, as opposed to bigger cities like Raleigh, we’d figured the couples would come (“build it and they will come”). Support from the diocese to promote our classes and committed babysitters to

make teaching engagements workable weren’t forth-coming. In these later years with my own fertility world turned upside down, I’d expected readily accessible aid. I wanted a purse, a haversack and sandals. I wanted to salute my fellow sojourners and have them salute back to me. But none of this was ours to have and we’d forgotten Christ’s instructions.

The lambs among wolves promise had nearly always been apparent, but in the earlier days of our ministry, I felt like a strong, healthy sheep able to withstand the attacks. Now older and wounded, the wolves of doubt and despair found me easy prey.
Of course, no sooner had we privately declared our decision to quit, then Father requested that we teach a group of couples he was preparing for marriage. Ugh! Really? Saying, “no” to Father is harder than telling a teary, smiling, wide-eyed toddler who’s just given you a bear hug they can’t have the last cookie in the jar.
So much for our plans to flee the fields, we taught that class and a few more since. And at present we’re poised to schedule next year’s class line-up.
I’m still praying for God to send more laborers because they are desperately needed, but for now I’ll accept my part in working the harvest. The wolves continue to howl in the background, but we’re assured that the Shepherd will never leave us lost in the wilderness. While the provisions we’d choose might be lacking, those He offers are more than enough to pay the wage.

Adoption Takes The Gold In the Race For Parenthood

adoption is the loving option

As a young engaged couple, we fantasized about the blessings of a large family. I’d been an only child for the first ten years of my life and my sweetheart had never known the joy and rivalry of sharing his life with a sibling, but we knew we wanted to be surrounded by little life forms and lots of them.

While our notion of large has grown during our twenty-one years of marriage, even during those first family planning discussions adoption was part of the plan. Not that we’d had much experience on the topic, but I suppose God’s seed had already been mysteriously planted in our hearts.


Of course, like too many other naive couples we mapped out our life plan decades in advance. We’d wait the culturally respectable amount of time before opening the door to tiny hands and pitter pattering feet. Our birth children would be welcomed first and then in time, perhaps when we were a graying couple we’d enlist our names on the adoption register.

Two years and a few months into our wedded bliss, we gave up control (sort of) and God blessed our union with the miracle of life in my womb. Nine months and seven hours later joy spilled forth in a hospital maternity room in the shape of a perfectly beautiful, totally unrepeatable baby boy, who we called Dimitri Mikhail.

But within hours our lives skipped a beat, like a record when the needle hits a scratch. The next month consisted of two surgeries on our son’s broken heart, needles, tubes, respirator vacuums, leads, bleeping machines, white coats and cold comments. After so many nights slept in corners on rock hard waiting room floors, we stood (the three of us) wrapped around one another as that precious gift drained of earthly life.

When the spinning slowed enough to form a conscious thought, that mystery seed began to germinate. A child cannot be replaced, but the empty crib erected in our bedroom beckoned for a sweet-smelling occupant. Those brand new onesies and home made blankets kept babies on our minds and so we started the process of finding an adoption agency.

I can’t quite recall how everything worked out as it did, but then again my Heavenly Father has a way of steering my path without my ever knowing it. People and information simply appeared and so by year’s end we were jumping through the hoops of placement preference forms, background checks, recommendation letters, physicals, and interviews.

Eleven looong, nail-biting months later (of course, in retrospect, eleven months was less time than it took to conceive some of our children), we received the photo of a seemingly chubby, cherub-faced boy dressed in red plaid. With scant bits of black hair and Asian, brown eyes, he was a dream captured on film. Our caseworker knew this would be our son, but because there were loose ends to be tied she was only able to say this baby was a possible match for us.

Talk about anxious anticipation, the next few weeks we felt like children circling the pile of presents under the Christmas tree, wondering which gift had our name on it.

Busy answering questions, making appointments, and checking in patients at a podiatrist’s office, my baby fever was temporarily masked by work. Then THE call came. The call to trump all calls. On the other end of the cord sat our social worker, her voice pulsing through the phone lines. The equivalent I suppose to seeing that plus sign appear on the pregnancy stick, I heard the words that decreed we were about to become a family.

In a whirlwind of enthusiasm and impatience, we made the necessary arrangements and sped down the highway toward Greensboro. Like our mad dash to the maternity ward a year and a half earlier but a whole lot less painful (for me), we couldn’t wait to greet our newest blessing. Clueless to the agency’s mode of operations we were told to sit in an empty office, our stomachs churning with that kind of nervous joy/anxiety we’d felt on our wedding day. Unbeknownst to us, our little boy was being laid in a cradle just steps beyond our reach.

family are created in a variety of ways adoption is part of that plan for usFinally, crossing the threshold of a small room down the agency hallway we beheld our first vision of him. Resting peacefully in a gorgeous cradle, draped in white with blue and pink trim, was our son, our second son. My heart ached from the swell of love that welled up within my chest. Early on in our parenting, an occasional ignorant bystander bludgeoned me with the proposition that biologically-connected love could somehow trump adoptive-love. In that moment, meeting my son for the very first time, such absurdity would be forever discredited.

With our son stretched across his lap, Greg sat motionless caught up in an intense gaze of wonder, love and fatherly admiration. Perhaps, that was the precise moment when their bond was forged because this son, more than any since, shares his father’s interests and passions.

That was 17 years ago now that we first became a family. Seventeen cherished years of watching that little person grow and mature into an intelligent, faithful, handsome young man with an opportunity-filled future before him. This second son wasn’t a replacement for the first, nor is he overshadowed by any sibling since, he is our beloved child, as are each and every one of our brood individually.

becoming a family through adoptionWe were the youngest couple (at 25yo and 27yo) ever to apply at our chosen, local agency. Sadly, many couples consider adoption as a last resort, the silver medal in the race to parenthood. Not until they’ve exhausted their fertility expense account and shed rivers of tears do they finally relent and open their hearts to the adoptive process. They waste a lot of time and energy, in my opinion, not to mention prolonging their heartache. How thankful we are that God planted that tiny mustard seed so long ago and taught us that He is the Father of life, all life. He founded our family.

In the course of our Natural Family Planning classes, we always make a point of sprinkling seeds by reminding those fresh-faced couples that adoption is part of the Divine Plan. Being open to life extends beyond the biological mission. Our Lord and Savior, Himself, was raised at the hip of His foster-father and no one could question the complete charity and devotion that existed between Joseph and Jesus.

And how could we not have admiration and gratitude for our son’s birth mother, who sacrificed her body and surely pieces of her heart to allow him to grow within her. A woman, not much older than his is now, she heroically challenged the culture and carried her unexpected gift for eight months. I can only imagine her internal conflict, when after the pain of childbirth, she relinquished her firstborn with the hope of providing him the best in life. Wherever she is today, may she have peace and confidence that our son is loved and we have tried our hardest to instill in him a sincere respect for her.

Those well-laid, life plans of so long ago have been rewritten a thousand times over. In our wildest dreams we couldn’t have conjured up the twists and turns our life journey would take us through. While the loss of our firstborn scarred us in some lifelong ways, it was the catalyst that inspired us to open more fully the flood gates to so many blessings. I never would have chosen that course, but in His infinite wisdom and mercy, God didn’t ask me to choose. He orders our path, He steers the ship and so much the greater is His vision of our passage.

adoption was part of our family planning

Be Not Afraid To Climb The Ladder And Surrender Your Fear

Typically a coward of heights, I never dreamed of spending my days balancing atop an extension ladder, but the chipped and peeling exterior of our house begged for attention. My dutiful husband is a jack of many trades from fixing appliances to building chicken coops, but he proclaims a particular aversion to painting; therefore, the task of revitalizing the outside of our 1920’s home fell squarely on my shoulders.

be not afraid to let go of fears and trustAfter choosing the perfect hue of buttery yellow, which my neighbor equated to the color of “cheap vanilla yogurt,” I commenced the jobs of scraping and repainting the easy-to-reach portions. However, it didn’t take long before my arms-reach, as well as, my three-step ladder were insufficient. Lacking the superhero trait of Mr. Fantastic, I had to engage some problem solving skills. Without the gift of stretchable appendages, a ladder seemed my next best option.


It took a little self-hypnosis of sorts to talk myself up that first ladder, but work awaited and the time of a busy, home school mother is fleeting. I let go a little and convinced myself that a fall from a standard ladder couldn’t inflict too much damage.

Now our lovely little home was built on a downgrade, so while the front door was a mere three steps from the solid ground, the rear was two-stories above stable earth. That standard ladder only raised my stature to the lower heights of the our home’s backside and painting only half of the house didn’t appear sensible. An extension ladder became unavoidable.

Childhood Fears Revisited 

As far back as I can remember, heights have posed an unwelcomed challenge. I was the kid who scaled the jungle-gym only to become paralyzed at the summit and tearfully beg for rescue. Ferris wheels are totally off-limits and even today escalators require a mental strategy.

Ratcheting the extension ladder far above my comfort-level, I offered myself a pep talk. First I attempted flattery, telling myself how brave I was and how beautiful the house was going to look. Next, came reasoning, if we couldn’t afford to hire a painter, I simply needed to finish the job I’d begun and set the right example for my children. Lastly, delusions of Supermom grandeur flitted across my brain, but they were too readily refuted by the reality that I’d never been able to scale a tall building nor race anything much faster than a speeding toddler headed for an open outlet.

Step by step, paint supplies balanced in my right hand as my left hand secured its death grip on the metal side rail, I inched ever higher toward the firmament. Positioned at the ladder’s apex, I briefly dared to look down, a long, long way down. The flattery suddenly flattened and that reasoning seemed less, well, less reasonable. My previous risk estimations made from atop the standard ladder somehow didn’t ease my mind because from this height surely parts could break that might not be mendable.

Surrender and prayer were my last and best resorts. “Let go,” I persuaded, “let go of the fear.” Fear constrained me to the ground, but surrender could loose its hold. Reciting a prayer, I offered up my terror and released myself to the care and keeping of my guardian angel.

Fear Saves

It’s amazing how fear has the potential to overpower in some cases or to protect in others. Years ago I read a book by Gavin DeBecker called The Gift of Fear. In it Mr. DeBecker gave real life examples of how people’s natural-born fear mechanism or intuition set off red flags and sirens in the presence of serious dangers. Those who listened typically avoided entering the danger zone or quickly fled before a perpetrator could inflict harm. Those who over-rationalized away their instinct generally paid a painful price. In those cases, fear was a gift bestowed on the individual, a signal by which they could gauge a circumstance or assess a stranger’s unspoken intent.

While teaching Natural Family Planning, I realized that fear really needs to be addressed. Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they’ve attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction. Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can see it in their faces or detect a hint of it in their questioning. The fear, the fear that they are not smart enough or vigilant enough to learn and apply the method of fertility awareness so as to prevent an unintended blessing.

The simply admonishment, “Be Not Afraid’ would do little to help alleviate their worries. Instead the first step is to help them face their fear, to understand what misconceptions it may be tied to. Quite often the newly engaged or married women have been controlling their cycles through the use of hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices. These “outside forces” have led to the perception that fertility, or at least its suppression, is the responsibility of some “thing” not the individual woman.

Relinquished Responsibility

Under the supposed control of a contraceptive, a woman may feel relinquished of her role in her own “healthcare” beyond the routine exam and prescription refill. If an unexpected blessing comes along, she can “blame” the little one on a contraceptive failure. Our current culture has led her to surrender herself to doctor’s orders, so she typically never feels obliged to consider the risks (unfortunately too often doctors don’t even bother to disclose the very real risks).

Here we, NFP teachers, are describing the difference between more fertile and less fertile, fertile mucus. Calculating 4/10° temperature shifts while determining the position and firmness of the cervix. Observation, charting, cross-checks, and prayerfully discernment are all necessary steps to becoming naturally aware of the signs and wonders of the female fertility cycle. NFP can scientifically claim an effectiveness rate of 99%, among other benefits, but it does require personal responsibility.

In the words of Spiderman’s uncle, with great power comes great responsibility. The power to plan a family is definitely great, a great honor, a great blessing. But, our culture isn’t much interested in personal responsibility, especially when profit can be made off of the notion that power comes from a pill or injection.

Fear, in the case of our students, isn’t a helpful natural instinct, but an emotion fueled by a man-made distortion. Truly, the effectiveness rates of NFP are equal to the best contraceptive rates (though that doesn’t mean they are morally or ethically equal). If a couple discerns a serious call or reason to postpone a new pregnancy, they are able to apply their knowledge to figure out what days of abstinence are required. Every couple is smart enough, every couple can learn to be vigilant enough to achieve their goal of postponement when necessary.

What’s Really At Stake?

What is really at stake is the fear that a baby, an eternal soul, will be conceived and that they will not be able to care for or welcome the new member of their family. Like the extension ladder, they realize they might need to ascend above their comfort-level. They must accept total responsibility for their marital embrace, it must become something more than a carnal pleasure alone.

Yes, they should set their ladder on stable footings by learning how to accurately read the woman’s bodily signs of fertility and infertility. Indeed they’ll have to map out the location by communicating their dreams, and plans and needs. They’ll raise their spiritual ladder by praying together and seeking God’s Will each cycle. And ultimately, they will need to step up by assuming responsibility individually, through self-mastery of their sexual desires, and together, through a unified commitment to remain open to life. 

the fear of NFP and the fear of climbing a ladder

At times they may need to surrender themselves, to surrender their fears, to surrender their man-made plans. Because often God will change a couple’s heart. He’ll challenge their limited notion of happiness. But while a fall from the height of my extension ladder had the potential to inflict fatal harm, a careless slip in NFP can result in the gift of a brand new life.

Getting The Facts Straight On Abortion And Contraceptives

Okay, so this isn’t my typical post, but I felt it needed to be written. Unfortunately, too many people (me included for many years) aren’t learning the facts about hormonal birth control’s abortifacient properties. Sadly, many of us may one day discover our missed children in heaven.

   
Consider the facts:

Are all obstetricians and gynecologists providers of abortion? Nearly all are.


Some ob/gyns perform surgical abortions. This means they end the life of an unborn child, by a variety of means and then extract the body from the mother’s womb or cause the mother’s body to expel the child. In third trimester abortion, some children are first expelled from the mother’s body and then killed after birth (like in the current case of Kermit Gosnell, in PA).



Any ob/gyn who prescribes hormonal birth control(the Pill, Norplant, Depro-Provera, etc.)is supplying abortifacient drugs because EVERYtype of chemical birth control has the power to cause early abortions.

  • “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 edometrium, which reduce the likelihood of implantation” (implantation of a child who has already been conceived). From the Physician’s Desk Reference product info for Ortho-Cept

    • “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: 1)inhibiting ovulation, 2)thickening cervical mucus, and 3) 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 it means that all three mechanisms failed. The third mechanisms sometimes fails as backup, just as the first two mechanisms sometimes fail; however, each and every time the third mechanism succeeds it has caused an abortion.

  • The prescription drug RU-486 has the primary function of causing an abortion.

  • The mini-pill (progestin-only or progestogen-only) is abortifacient.

    • The primary mechanism through which the mini-pill prevents conception is not known, but progestogen-only contraceptives are known to alter the cervical mucus, exert a progestational effect on the endometrium, interfering with implantation, and in some patients, suppress ovulation. According to the FDA

  • Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs), which were once pulled from the market due to numerous damage suffered by their users, are abortifacient. They have two functions 1) thicken cervical mucus to inhibit sperm migration 2) cause inflammation of the uterine lining to inhibit implantation of the newly conceived child.
      
    How statistically significant is the abortifacient mechanism of hormonal birth control?

  • Although the combined Pill probably suppresses ovulation in 95% of cycles, abortions can occur among the other 5% (noting that the mini-pill or single hormone pill is less effective at suppressing). A “breakthrough ovulation” rate of 4.7% was reported in 1984, so applying that rate to the 13.8 million American women on the Pill in the early 90’s would yield 648,000 ovulations per cycle (not every ovulation results in pregnancy). Assuming 25% of those breakthrough ovulations result in pregnancy would mean that of those 648,000 ovulations, 162,150 new human lives could be conceived each cycle. That’s 1,945,800 lives each year that would then be denied implantation in the womb and thus be aborted. More than the number killed by surgical abortions.
     
From a pro-life standpoint we must address this problem and educate others, including healthcare providers. From a Catholic standpoint we must ask why Catholic physicians are not being held accountable for their part in fueling the abortion industry and the culture of death.  It is not enough to simply avoid contraceptives for ourselves and ignore that the doctors we are funding financially are killing our sister’s unborn children.

http://ccli.org/

What are couples, who have discerned a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy to do?  They are free to practice Natural Family Planning, methods of fertility awareness that are up to 99% effective, morally acceptable and abortion-free.


We cannot turn back the clocks to the day before abortion and contraception stripped away God’s design for man’s sexual powers, but we can pull back the veil of dishonesty and misinformation that attempts to hide the death agenda. We can start at home, in our own marital bedroom by rejecting the lie. We can educate anyone who will listen via all means available. We can pray, pray, pray for our physicians and priests that they may have the courage to face the truth and refuse the wide road.

Kippley, John F. and Sheila K. The Art of Natural Family Planning. (Couple to Couple League International, Inc. : 1996)

Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? (Eternal Perspective Ministries: 2007)

http://www.babycenter.com/0_intrauterine-device-iud_3564.bc. (Accessed April 12, 2013) 

Weeding The Garden For Life: The Roots and Fruits of Contraception

 

There’s a little garden beside my front walkway dedicated to St. Joseph. Matthew’s rose bush blooms within it as well as the Hostas and Day Lilies that were transplanted from other places on our property. In the beginning, our statue of the foster father of Jesus stood prominently among a balance of lively greenery and rich, brown dirt. Not the typical red clay of North Carolina, but soil that offered the promise of nutrients and growth. 

Probably a month or more ago, clover sprang up in random patches around the resident plant life. I considered briefly that the clover, a weed, was intruding in this garden, but then it reminded me of shamrock with its heart-shaped leaves and emerald green color, so I let it remain. The clover, itself, is really quite small and unobtrusive, so why not allow it to blend in with the pattern, was my reasoning. 

Life got busier throughout the weeks, postponing my good intentions to accomplish some yard work and so the invasion of weeds persisted. That is how it works. Today there is scarcely a square foot of brown soil to be seen as weeds of all varieties have laid their roots and spread their leaves across my humble, welcoming garden. The balance and the beauty seem lost to the eye now and, of course, it only stands to get worse. 


In Saturday’s box on the calendar, I’ve scribbled a reminder to myself that weeding must be done; however, a real plan of action is necessary if it is my serious intention to regain control of this modest patch of earth. I could rise early and set to the task of pulling up weeds one by one. Surely, by the time the day’s heat becomes unbearable, I will be able to wipe my brow and step back to admire the return of balance. 

Perhaps, pride might be entertained a bit too considering the sacrifice of time that will be required to prune around the shrine. The pride, though, would be short-lived because everyone knows the cleverness of weeds which are sure to re-stake their claim in due time. 

Perhaps, an ample dousing of poison is in line, but then there is a risk to all that lies in close proximity. Truly, those roots, hidden beneath the surface, must be unveiled in their entirety. The right plan includes uprooting, tilling, sifting, laying down a protective barrier and then recovering. I know what it’s going to take, but I have to decide whether or not the desired result is worth the cost of the required sacrifice.

Facing A Dilemma

The dilemma in my welcome path garden offers a simple picture of a critical problem facing us in this state, this nation, this world today. The culture of death has come into nearly full bloom. Its broad leaves of abortion, euthanasia, divorce, cohabitation, addiction, pornography, promiscuity, prostitution and infidelity have taken over our civilization like kudzu. 

Here in the United States, possibly the last bastion of hope for Christians, we are under attack from our own government which seeks to sow more laws that would eradicate what’s left of our religious liberties. Ah yes, the problem is as evident and well-defined as the creeping crab grass. 

We, patriots and Christians, see the enemy and we are taking a stand against this injustice which is being perpetrated under the title of the HHS mandate. We will not sit idly by as this latest attempt to strip away our freedom reaches into our churches, our Catholic hospitals, and our pockets. We’ll march, we’ll rally, we’ll donate time and money, we’ll debate, we’ll evangelize and we’ll pray- all noble and necessary tasks, but a bit like my less painful plan to pull the weeds one by one and then step back in temporary triumph. 

Digging Up The Roots 

Before we can mount a sincere attack, the question needs to be asked, “From what root did these broad leaves of death spring?” Taking a long, honest look you’ll find that these are the fruits of contraception and the misuse of Natural Family Planning, the thinking that by utilizing a moral means one can legitimately justify the same ends. 

Were people still familiar with Thomas Malthus, the original population doomsayer who preached total abstinence in order to save the world from mass starvation, this misuse of the natural means might be just as easily called the Malthusian mentality. It was this seed of thinking, that responsible men must take charge of their own destiny by thwarting the gift of procreative powers or be doomed to starvation, that was scattered about. Seeds germinate and sprout, that is their nature, so too did this idea. For if man was wise enough to discover his power to save the universe, then he must be equally endowed with the good sense to order his life as best he sees fit.  

If one man can justify the end, of inhibiting the conception of a new life, then another man can do the same even if by different means. If the end is good, why squabble over the means. While the initial idea took some decades to establish hardy root-age, “modern” science, and a well-known woman named Margaret Sanger, eventually hailed a new way to rescue planet earth and its female inhabitants from the dreaded potential of babies. 

 

Fortunately, the Catholic Church continued to stand upright, keeping Her branches bathed in the Son light, so that She alone continues to speak the truth that contraception is a misuse of the body and counter to the Will of the Creator, and therefore an impermissible moral evil. Pope Paul VI, in his famous encyclical Humanae Vitae, reiterated the truth of God’s design of creating them male and female and prophesied the dire results that would follow were mankind to allow this seedling of contraception to remain rooted in its heart. As he forewarned, the right balance and inherent beauty of our world has all but been completely overgrown with ideas and practices of the culture of death. 
 

Now if we are of the mind to dig up the problem, we must acknowledge that while the Church rejected the lie of contraception, Her people did not all heed Her instructions. Quite frankly, too many entrusted in the ranks of shepherds either allowed the culture of death to flourish unchallenged or aided its foothold through their sins of omission in the pulpit. Today the onslaught of the HHS mandate seems to have awakened the sleeping giant, who is now rubbing the sleep from his eyes and beginning to shake the trellis which was built beneath him. A welcome renewal, but not enough alone to reclaim the garden.

Contradiction Doesn’t Win

Morally good and constitutionally right as it is to argue for the protection of our religious liberty in light of the current threat of a mandate, we cannot hope to achieve victory if we continue to provide fertilizer in the enemy camp. Plainly stated, it is a contradiction that we fight for religious liberty in our healthcare system while at the same time the majority of Catholic physicians in our pews willingly sustain the culture of death by penning countless prescriptions for contraceptives and scheduling quick and easy sterilizations. Not to mention, the majority of their Catholic patients are happy to give them their business. 

Why even the heralded breakthrough of ultrasound is often wielded in the doctor’s hands as a tool to discern the fit from the “unfit” in the womb. Ask any mother over the age of thirty-five and you’ll likely find she has been offered, if not downright pressured to submit to, a battery of tests aimed at informing her and her doctor as to the “quality of life” her unborn child might be expected to have and to offer. Because by extension of the anti-life mentality, a child who might require extra attention and care is a drain on his parents and society, so it is the duty of the doctor to offer an alternative. 

It didn’t take long to come full circle with this technology, as recent headlines prove that female babies are targeted for sex selection abortions even within the borders of our blessed America. America is only a step to two away from adopting another of China’s infamous policies if we continue down this path.


Wish that I could say, the meager faction of Natural Family Planning teachers and promoters were fully doing their part to reseed the truth, but sadly that message, also, has been watered down. Only ten years ago when my husband and I were trained to understand the signs of our mutual fertility, it was directly noted that a serious reason needed to be discerned in order for a couple to rightly postpone a pregnancy, even indefinitely. The very word serious was meant to reflect the challenge and requirement of monthly turning to God and seeking His guidance as to whether or not husband and wife could actively avoid the fertile phase. We affirmed our Creator’s role, the blessing of family members and focused on expressing the call to generosity and trust. However, in an attempt to attract new business, the message was tailored to sound more appealing to younger couples, who’d grown up without benefit of well formed consciences in the area of Church teaching. Serious reason was replaced with responsible parenthood. Not that responsible parenthood isn’t a goal, but it seems more in line with the culture’s vision that responsible adults are the ones who limit their family size to one boy and one girl. The new slant is toward having a goal every cycle, to either be working at achieving or avoiding. Those of us whose goal is total surrender to God’s total dominion over our love lives are labeled Providentialists, a term more synonymous with religious zealots (aka freaks).

In the state I live in, there can hardly be found a single ob/gyn practice that doesn’t embrace the culture of death. While looking for a new physician, I called about a dozen offices and asked about their acceptance of Natural Family Planning. Each time the receptionist misunderstood me and readily rattled off the lists of hormonal contraceptives they could provide me with. Forced to choose a practice, I chose one that was recommended by pro-life friends, who praised one of the physicians as being both Catholic and the father of a large family. Presenting in the office, I was immediately bombarded with advertisements for contraception in nearly every room. Not a single pro-life, pro-NFP message was found anywhere. As an added challenge, in the state of NC, home birth midwives, who provide a real pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman alternative, are illegal. One cannot ignore the effect this has on other less informed women. If the message everywhere in the “world”(from your doctor’s office and hospitals, to print ads and commercials) is one of anti-life, it isn’t hard to understand why even seemingly pro-life people easily make some concessions.

Let The Fields Run Wild

Are we just supposed to give up and let the fields return to the wild? Should we just accept that the land has already been conquered by the enemy? No way! But if we continue to focus all of our attention on a single issue like the HHS mandate alone, then we simply break a weed or two from its stem while leaving all the deep root age behind. My beloved Catholic Church is to be applauded for holding fast to Truth, but we as the Body of Christ must rise up and shine in every place and circumstance. We must examine our consciences continually and ask ourselves if we are willing to follow the examples of St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Chiara Corbella, who sacrificed their lives (literally) in order that their unborn children could live. This call to live our faith, means clinging to the Cross which entails real actions, real sacrifices. Perhaps, for too long, the majority have grown accustomed to merely glancing at the Crucifix and so have lost sight of the need to kiss it. We conjure up every manner of excuse for how we can tolerate individual situations that fuel the culture of death. 

In my own case, well intentioned people have attempted to dissuade me from remaining completely open to life because in recent years it has meant much loss and physical suffering. In the case of physicians, they claim it is too big a risk to their livelihood to stop authoring prescriptions for abortifacients. And the excuses we all make go on and on. 

Relinquish Control

It is long past time to relinquish control, give God everything and trust in His promises to provide for His people. Yes, we must do battle in the public square, but we must also work diligently and overtly for His glory. Not that we should be self-righteous like the Pharisees, but when people in the “world” look at us, they should see our unwavering love and devotion to Christ Jesus. We’ll make mistakes, we’ll fail some days, so then we should run to confession and adoration so that the Divine Gardener can prune our hearts and refresh spirits. Realize that the blood of martyrs waters the mustard seed, so pray for courage and fortitude. Let us remember his first command was to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” 
 

The old laws may have changed, but the commandments never will. Find inspiration in knowing that there is no doubt that Christ will be the Victor. Accept your vocation and within it carry His standard high in the battlefields. Recognize that we must fight tirelessly on all fronts to extirpate the source of the culture of death. If we all conform ourselves to the task at hand, we can be confident that in His time the garden will return to its former beauty.



“Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Natural Family Planning Is Real Healthcare

The current controversy over the US government’s mandate with regards to women’s healthcare has shone a light on the Catholic Church and her teachings. Considering how many people, both inside and outside of the Catholic Church, are ignorant of this beautiful and unalterable teaching, this debate provides the perfect opportunity to enlighten the population. 

Understanding The History

Firstly, a brief history lesson is necessary. In 1798, Thomas Malthus, an English economist proposed the first population scare. He wrote that population would increase at a rate that would surpass the available food supply, thereby, leading to mass starvation. As an Anglican clergyman, Malthus recommended that people delay getting married (which at that time did not mean they should live together for a few years) and that couples should practice total abstinence once their desired number of children was reached. In 1823, his dire predictions continued to be promoted by the neo-Malthusians; however, they dumped the pesky morality component that called for abstinence and encouraged people to have their cake and eat it, too, by contracepting . American Protestant reformer, Anthony Comstock successfully petitioned the US Congress and several states to outlaw contraceptives in 1870 because at that time all Christian churches understood that contraception was fundamental wrong. 

Enter Margaret Sanger, who like Hilter wanted to rid the gene pool of misfits (like people of other races or abilities), she was the famous American that dedicated herself to promoting unnatural forms of birth control. Ms. Sanger is the mother of Planned Parenthood, the organization that continues her legacy today by setting up clinics in communities which predominantly consist of minorities. By 1930, the bishops of the Church of England also caved into the secular pressure for contraception during the Lambeth Conference. Then, a year later, in the US, the Federal Council of Churches followed down the same slippery slope. The Catholic Church understood that the moral teachings given to her by Jesus Christ are and always will be unalterable. So, the Catholic Church stood alone, and continues to do so today, in proclaiming that contraception and sterilization are inherently wrong. 

While it is true that several shepherds within the Church, personally and publicly, rejected this teaching, they had no authority to do so. Like Judas, their consciences were corrupt and they misled others with their public dissent. In order to correct the confusion, Pope Paul VI, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote the encyclical Humanae Vitae in which he reaffirmed the Church’s Tradition. Prophetically, he spoke of the ends (including abortion, diminished respect for woman, increased divorce rates) that would result should people accept contraception. Today, it is quite clear that Pope Paul VI’s warnings were divinely inspired as every consequence he predicted has come to pass.

Consider that Malthus’ theories were wrong. Our ability to produce food is such that we here in the US routinely throw mountains of food into the garbage every day. Of course, Malthus’ failed ideas have simply morphed into today’s environmental hysteria which is based on similarly infantile science. The populations of Europe are currently dying out, literally; not from lack of food, but from lack of people. As the number of births has declined, whole generations are missing to enter the workforce and to care for the elder generations. Like Hitler, Margaret Sanger is long dead, unfortunately their racist agenda persists and is now even funded by the government. It is no secret that Planned Parenthood continues to target the poor and minorities and now there is a new tool in the arsenal, ultrasound. With ultrasound, doctors can inform parents whether or not their unborn child is even worthy of being born. 

Has The Church Failed?

So, what are couples expected to do, you might ask. Is the Catholic Church forcing women to bear more children than they are able to properly care for? Is the Catholic Church some archaic, male-dominated institution that seeks to enslave women by keeping them barefoot and pregnant? Are these teachings simply the musings of a group of sad, old men who have no idea of the struggles of family life? Has the Catholic Church simply failed to keep up with the changing times? Nothing could be further from the truth! 

Firstly, one must understand that God, Himself, created the joy of sex. He gave man and woman the power to procreate while He retained the role of Creator. In the marital embrace, he designed the perfect way for husband and wife to physically manifest their sacramental union of oneness. Both of these gifts, unity and the power to procreate, belong in every act of intercourse and when they do, the truth, beauty and joy of the sexual encounter is experienced by the couple. Contrary, to “modern” theory, God isn’t a prude and He knows well the crosses that couples bear in raising a family. So, in His infinite wisdom, He designed woman with limited periods of fertility.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, based on the science of the time, physicians developed and promoted the Rhythm Method for spacing children. The Catholic Church was able to accept this method because it did nothing to destroy the marital act nor destroy a potential child. It should be noted that all married couples are called to generosity, but that they are free to prayerfully discern if they have a just reason to postpone a pregnancy in any given month. 

The Rhythm Method sought to give couples the knowledge about the woman’s fertile and infertile times each cycle, so that couples could avoid sexual intimacy during the fertile days if they felt called to avoid a pregnancy. Unfortunately, the Rhythm Method was based on elementary science which assumed every woman had a 28 day cycle and that every woman therefore ovulated on day 14 of every cycle. The days of fertility to be avoided were then based on a non-individual based calculation that was applied to every woman. This proved successful for some couples, but not for others. The Rhythm Method, sadly, became characterized as Catholic birth control.

The Science Of Our Times

Today our scientific knowledge has increased by leaps and bounds and so we now have 99% effective methods for postponing pregnancy. I say postponing because, unlike with contraception and sterilization, family planning is meant to be a continual, prayerful assessment of God’s call in our married lives. 

My husband and I teach a method known as the Symptom-Thermal Method (STM) of Natural Family Planning (NFP). As volunteers, we have the privilege of teaching women that their body displays three detectable signs of fertility/infertility each month. With a little education, a woman can read her body signals (cervical mucus, basal temperature and cervix state). Unlike contraception, NFP methods respect the nature and beauty of a women’s body. NFP does not require women to insert nor ingest items or medications which cause harmful or unpleasant side effects. There are no long term costs involved in practicing NFP. There are no environmental hazards, like estrogen leeched into your drinking water. Practicing NFP is a two person job because it requires self control from both the man and the woman, so unlike contraception it is not solely the woman’s responsibility. Additionally, the knowledge gained through reading a woman’s body has helped couples of diminished fertility to conceive. 

Where contraception attempts to alter the woman’s body hormonally, thwart the man’s sperm or destroy a newly conceived life, NFP leads couples to abstain from sexual relations during the fertile days each month. It protects the nature of the sexual act, to be unitive and open to life. When husband and wife come together, they speak with their bodies. They say to one another, “I love all of you (including your fertility), I give all of myself to you.” By avoiding the marital embrace during the fertile days, the couple has not violated the marital union in anyway. In fact, they have chosen to make a sacrifice of their passionate desire for union for the good of the whole family. Each one, husband and wife, has said through their abstaining, “I want the best for you and for our whole family, so I am willing to place my desires on hold for a few days.” 

I could go on and on about how women feel empowered when they come to realize the gifts of their fertility. I could talk at length about how a knowledgeable woman is better able to care for her own health. I could further explain how NFP requires men to learn self-control and how that leads them to better respect their partners and to appreciate the sexual union. The Catholic Church knows well the truth of all of these benefits that is why she has and will hold fast to the teaching that contraception in not good for women nor families. 

Are Women Too Simple-Minded?

Some would promote the idea that poor women are less capable of learning how to read their fertility (code for women are too stupid), but that is a gross fallacy and one that is right in line with Margaret Sangers’ eugenic agenda. Others would say that poor men are like animals and cannot control their sexual appetites, but that too is a lie. The Catholic Church views every man and woman as an image of the Creator and as such he/she is inscribed with an inherent intelligence and worth. The Catholic Church, seemingly alone, is crying out in the secular wilderness that contraception is not healthcare and women deserve better. It is not simply a matter of not wanting Catholic institutions to pay for immoral products and services, it is a matter of serving and protecting women of every race and religion. 

If contraception was truly allowing couples to plan their family, why have 50 million babies been aborted? If contraception was empowering women, why are so many women alone and unhappy? If contraception was beneficial to families, why are so many families shattered by divorce or led by single mothers? 

This controversy could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, if faithful Catholics have the courage to live out loud by sharing the truth with everyone who will listen. We must reeducate ourselves and others to the teachings given us by Christ. We must defend the Catholic Church’s stance against contraception, not because we need to defend the church as an historical institution but because we must defend the Body of Christ. As God is unchanging and unending, so too is His Church and this teaching.


References: The Art of Natural Family Planning, John and Sheila Kippley