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Friday, December 9, 2016
I am a mom and pro-life neonatologist -- a doctor who takes care of premature and critically ill babies in the NICU -- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This specialty is not something I had ever heard of as a child, nor was I aware that being “pro-life” or specifically anti-abortion was even reasonable. I grew up in an incredibly loving but very “pro-choice” Jewish household. Plus, I am a product of American secular medical training, with a Masters degree in medical ethics.
Nevertheless, truly demonstrating God’s immense sense of humor is my reality: a convert to Catholicism, I am a doctor whose entire career revolves around caring for infants who are actually legal to kill. Ditto for those with a prenatal diagnosis of “lethal anomaly” or “abnormality not compatible with life”.
While I don’t always do my job perfectly, as a physician I have sworn “to do no harm” to any human being. So my goal every day is to medically, ethically, and humanely tend to every single person for whom I have the privilege to provide. And because every baby I have ever seen arrives in the unit with worried adults (often but not always the parents), it is not possible to care for the new arrival without also caring for the parents.
So with this eclectic background, I offer myself to further serve these infants and their parents with a bit of guidance, hoping I might be able to supply you with the right questions to be asking the physicians with whom you are dealing.
To start, a good physician should be able to tell you about each medical intervention with some essential facts as you ask these questions:
1. Why is this intervention being proposed?
2. What is the expected response (what will your baby, or the monitors, or the lab tests look like if responding, and how long will a response take?)
3. What does it look like if the baby is not responding (baby, monitors, lab tests, etc), and over what period of time?
4. The decision tree: if this happens, what occurs happens next? This is a reasonable question if there is either a good or bad response. It is also ok for the doctor(s) to not know a complete answer to this question because there may be way too many variables to account for. However: a. he/she needs to admit what they don’t know and b. it is a reasonable plan to have the same conversation again after you see how the first intervention(s) went. Be aware, that there will often need to be multiple simultaneous interventions, which makes the answers all the more complicated. But if you have this basic framework in mind, it should be easier to get a sense of what parameters people are looking at to know if the medicine/surgery or whatever is being done is actually useful.
But what if they say, “there’s nothing to be done” or even “you need to stop medical treatment”? As someone who believes in the sanctity and preciousness of every single human life and is simultaneously a critical care physician, there are some reasonable questions to ask here (which in itself is an insane statement when confronted with such a crisis!):
1. In an ideal world, do your homework first. Find a doctor who is pro-life or at least knows you and understands how you make ethical decisions surrounding issues of life.
2. Reality: doctors (just like all of us) are a product of this culture, which means they will need to be educated on your intact value system. Some will be able to be educated, others — well, not so much, or at least not as quickly as you would like. Don’t despair (which isn’t equivalent to avoiding livid anger, gut-wrenching fright, or head-spinning frustration). Breath. Breath again and inform all involved of some facts:
a. Your little one’s first and primary diagnosis is “it’s a girl!" Or "it’s a boy!" This little boy or girl seems to have some additional diagnoses.
b. These other diagnoses might potentially result in this infant’s life-span being shorter than we would be prefer. But in the meantime, we are going to do everything we can to maximize what is possible for this little one.
c. We want to work with you to avoid prolonging suffering. However, having a “disability” or other “limitations” does not define suffering! We intend to love this child. Doctor, we are hoping you will either help us negotiate the challenges ahead or get us to another physician who will be more interested in doing so.
This adventure known as life isn’t easy. But around every corner are the unexpected joys, unlooked for celebrations, and unsung moments of penetrating peace which are our gift from choosing to live (with the aid of His Grace) nurturing and loving everyone in our lives — especially the most vulnerable.
BIO: Dr. Robin Pierucci, M.D. is a wife, mother and neonatologist, and now a blogger for Save The 1. She received her medical degree from Rush Medical College, and completed both her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in neonatology at Children’s Hospital of WI, Milwaukee. During the neonatal fellowship, she also completed a Masters in medical ethics at the Medical College of WI. Since that time she has worked as a neonatologist in Kalamazoo, MI. Robin has also completed the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) certificate program in medical ethics and participates on the ethics committee for the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD).
Labels: abnormality not compatible with life, Dr. Robin Pierucci, lethal anomaly, National Catholic Bioethics Center, NICU, pro-life neonatologist, Save the 1 | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
When I was about 8-10 years old I learned that I was conceived in rape. At that tender age, I did not understand what that meant, but as I grew up, my mother told me more about her experience.
At age 23, she worked in my biological father's company. One day, my biological father drugged her and raped her. Months later, she realized she was pregnant. She felt dirty and fell into depression to the extent that she wanted to commit suicide.
My mother told me she never thought about abortion because she knew that the rape and her depression were not my fault.
To make matters worse for her, when my grandmother found out she was pregnant, she didn't even let my mother explain what had happened to her, and my grandmother kicked her pregnant daughter out of the house.
Months later, my mother came back to her home and they decided to take her in again. As you can see, she had very sad and difficult times; however, my mother never gave up.
I was born and made her life happier. She says that I was, from that moment on, her strength -- her reason for living. My mother fought to raise me alone, despite the criticism and pain. She was a warrior!
Ten years after my birth, she realized that hating her aggressor only damaged her heart and decided to forgive my biological father. I know my father and sometimes I talk to him. Because of my mother, I hold no grudge against him, and to this day, neither does my mother.
I, like any other person, have the same rights in this life! Being conceived in rape, I have not felt less of a person. I thank my mother for giving me the opportunity to live. Thanks Mom for the decision to have me! I am here, enjoying life, experiencing new things, achieving goals and becoming a professional.
It can be hard to be the victim of rape, but always keep in mind that abortion will never solve the rape. On the contrary, it will worsen your emotional state. Think of that little innocent being who is not only genetically part of the rapist, but part of you too. By killing that little one, you kill generations to come. . . .
We all have the same right: The right to life!
BIO: Bethania Herrera, conceived in rape, is from Ecuador and is a pro-life blogger for Save The 1,and our Spanish division Salvar El 1. This was translated from Spanish and originally posted to our Spanish blog: http://salvarel1.blogspot.com/2016/12/cuando-tenia-diez-anos-me-entere-que.html
Labels: Abortion, Bethania Herrera, Conceived in Rape, Ecuador, Salvar El 1, Save the 1, victim of rape | 0 comments
Thursday, December 1, 2016
My first response to the news that a judge in Brazil cited gender equality as a reason for decriminalizing abortion in that country is "Gender equality?!? A woman alone can make the decision... How is that equal? What about the fathers? She cannot get pregnant without him. The baby is his too! What about the gender equality for the baby?”
“Women bear alone the burden of pregnancy. Therefore, there will only exist gender equality if women have the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy or not,” said Judge Luis Roberto Barroso. His premise is that the current Criminal Code that outlaws abortion disrespects women’s basic rights.
What about the father’s rights? What about the baby's rights? The decision to kill a child isn’t a right, in the first place. In no other circumstance do we allow the brutal murder of a human being based on the gender of the person deciding to hire a killer.
Would this judge contend that it is her right to kill a toddler? After all, it is her toddler, right? What if she alone is responsible for an adult, an elderly parent or disabled sibling, should she have the right to kill another because she is a woman who alone bears the burden of care?
Of course, that is ludicrous.
There is no such thing as gender equality when it comes to pregnancy. Women carry babies, men do not. It may seem unfair, especially in a case of rape, but her wholly unique ability to carry the child and protect the second victim of rape is temporary. Pregnancy is always temporary. Abortion is forever.
In Brazil, abortion has been a crime. Both women and those who commit abortions faced jail time. The exception for legal abortions; if a Brazilian woman had been the victim of rape. This defies logic. There is either a baby worth protecting or there isn’t.
It has been criminal to kill preborn babies unless the father is a criminal? So, if she delivers her baby, then decided that she didn’t want the burden, would that also be acceptable, because the baby’s father is a rapist?
Abortion after rape has significant consequences for women. She has been through the trauma of rape. Abortion, the intentional killing of her baby, is an additional trauma imposed on her in a state of dramatic turmoil. She needs support and therapy to heal after rape, and more so to help her get through the pregnancy.
Abortion proponents use confused compassion to push abortion on an unsuspecting public. By placing the woman’s trauma over the child’s right to life, they perpetuate this proverbial camel’s nose in the tent.
They introduce an exception to the law against abortion, for rape, convincing the public that it is the compassionate thing to do for women who have been victims. The important facts that the child is developmentally no different than one conceived in a loving relationship and that the child is a second innocent victim of the crime are overlooked by most because most of us don’t think it through and we believe that the people writing the laws have our best interest in mind. That is simply not always the case.
Lobbyists for the abortion industry are often very well paid. Abortion is a huge money-maker. A real doctor will see a client throughout her pregnancy, deliver babies at all hours, and make a reasonable amount of money. An abortionist works regular business hours only and makes more money in a few minutes time with a similarly pregnant woman, again and again.
Might doesn't make right. Brazil has been receiving a lot of push-back from feminist organizations that want to open the floodgates of legalized abortion. They believe that the sheer number of people who want abortion on demand for any reason should prevail. Exceptions for rape open the door for the blood to flow.
The bottom line here is that abortion kills a baby. It should be illegal to kill a baby. People who push for abortion will use any excuse to kill a baby. It’s not about compassion for rape victims. It’s not about gender equality. It’s not about women’s rights.
Darlene Pawlik is VP of Savethe1. She was conceived by rape, sexually abused as a child, sold into juvenile sex trafficking and got pregnant as a result. She is a speaker and blogger for Savethe1.com and theDarlingPrincess.com