Confessions of Cultural Heretics

"When the whole world is running headlong towards the precipice, one who walks in the opposite direction is looked on as being crazy." T.S. Elliot

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Why yes, fetal tissue IS used to develop vaccines and other products….

Rebecca Taylor over at the blog Mary Meets Dolly has written an excellent article, “Morally Tainted: Products Made Possible By the Killing of Innocent Human Life” which is about the use of aborted fetal tissue in developing several different manufactured products

Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey has introduced a bill to the Oklahoma Legislature that has caused quite a stir. S.B. 1418 says it would ban any product for human “consumption” that contains aborted human fetal tissue or where the research or development of any of the ingredients required the use of aborted fetal tissue…..

When Shortey suggested that his bill was not simply about aborted fetuses in the food supply, but about companies using cells and tissues from aborted human beings to test or develop various chemicals, drugs or therapies, one angry commenter on the Huffington Post retorted, “What companies? Name them. If you can’t, then this is the rantings of a paranoid delusional.”

Rebecca goes on to describe several different companies that are actively using fetal tissue obtained from abortions and does an excellent job detailing the moral questions that arise in using this type of tissue.  One area of great controversy that she touches upon is Vaccines (Emphasis mine):

Yet, some of these products, like drugs or vaccines, can be life-saving. The question then becomes: Can Catholics use these life-saving products that were developed using aborted fetal tissue in good conscience?

Many of them, like the vaccines for rubella and polio, are developed or produced in cell lines that came from abortions that occurred decades ago, and no new abortions or destruction of life are required to produce those vaccines.

The guidance given by the Church on the use of vaccines may be the best guide for other life-saving products as well. In the case of vaccines produced in aborted fetal-stem cell lines like MRC-5 and WI-38, where the abortion occurred decades ago, parents must ask their health-care provider for an alternative vaccine that was grown in cells not procured by illicit means. If there are no alternatives, then they must voice their objection.

I would challenge parents out there, How many of you have actually voiced their objections to your child’s physician? To the vaccine manufacturer? To the FDA?  How many of you know that several different vaccines are manufactured using fetal tissue derived from abortions and that there are alternatives for some of them?  (For a list, see Children of God for Life and their excellent PDF)

For many, you may not have had any idea.  This once again raises the issue that parents need to be informed concerning vaccines prior to giving consent for their administration.  And unfortunately, you will not be able to ask most physicians about this issue because they will simply be clueless about the use of aborted fetal tissue in vaccine development.  After you have done your research and you approach your physician, you will need to be prepared to be ridiculed.  In medical school we are fairly indoctrinated with the idea that vaccines are God’s gift to man and that there is no reason a healthy individual should not be given every possible vaccine.  We are encouraged to NOT critically analyze this evidence or question the vaccine schedule, and when you do so, you are quickly ostracized and labeled “heretic”.   The medical profession and the media have assumed that every single concern objection to vaccines has to do solely with the whole “Thimerosol and Autism” controversy.  However, as many of you know, there are many other concerns that due arise, including the increase in allergies and autoimmune disease, other behavioral issues beyond autism, and autism itself.  Whereas Thimerosol has been somewhat debunked (depending on the literature you look at) there are other possibilities.

A biotech startup out in Seattle, Sound Choice Pharmaceuticals, is actively working on creating morally acceptable vaccines.  In the course of their research, they have shown that vaccines that are contaminated with human DNA (from the manufacturing process that uses aborted fetal tissue) may be a culprit in the Vaccine-Autism link.   This raises the issue of using these morally tainted vaccines to a whole new level.  And yet, many continue to be complacent and simply do as their physician instructs.

The medical profession and vaccine manufacturers have heard the Church’s argument that these vaccines “are permissible when no alternative is available.”  And since there is no huge outcry from the patients and customers, and we do not see masses of kids refusing vaccination until a suitable alternative is available, the medical establishment and vaccine manufacturers have no reason to change their ways.  I am not advocating that we do not vaccinate (nor am I advocating FOR vaccines), rather we need to take a stronger stand and DEMAND that there be morally suitable vaccines.  There are too many unanswered questions with vaccines, particularly with the ones using fetal tissue.  We have to ability to demand answers and alternatives, but it requires that we stand up and say something.


NY Times and Pro Aborts Scared by Expanding Catholic Hospitals

I was browsing twitter this morning when I came across this article by the NY Times discussing how the  “financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization.”

This is just another example of why the government is doing what it is with the HHS mandate.  The culture of death knows that Catholics have the capacity to limit the abortions and sterilizations done in this country because it is the Catholic Church that is the most successful in regards to health care.  One would hope this is the case after these many centuries of providing care for people.

At the same time, we must continue to urge Bishops and Catholic health systems to be faithful to Church teaching and continue to provide authentic health care.  It may be a hard battle in the coming days, but the Church has prevailed before, and will continue to do so in the future.

Confronting Scandal from the Pulpit

This past weekend Brian and I taught the second class in our NFP course. Since the class is held on Sunday afternoon we had to go to an earlier Mass than our usual 10:30 time at our parish. Originally we had been planning on attending the 8:30 at our parish, but the two little guys soon made it clear that there was no way that was going to happen. So we found a 9:30 at a nearby parish where we are friends with the pastor.

Now this is your stereotypical suburbanite parish- from the 70s architecture to the unspoken dress code of North Face fleeces and jeans. Like I said, however we know the pastor and he is completely orthodox and we knew we would at least have a reverent Mass and homily that would be spiritually uplifting.

After the deacon finished proclaiming the Gospel, he did not sit down, instead he began to preach. This was unexpected, as we had never seen a deacon deliver the sermon before (which we later learned only happens about once a month).

At first, we thought the Deacon was giving a good homily in regards to the constancy of truth and absoluteness of God’s teaching and its root in love for us. His discussion of “the grey” and how it resides in us and not in God was good, however, then he began to discuss contraception and moral teachings of the Church, and what he said was wrong. Dead wrong.

What he said next basically was that it is fine for Catholics to use contraception as long as they have “struggled with the Church’s teaching and attempted to form their conscience, but still conscientiously object” and will “be silent about it”. Here he mentioned the recent polls of Catholics that have been reported so much lately and the only issue he had with the numbers was that those who were using contraception were only wrong in making that information public.

The irony of hearing this lies in the fact that we were coming to mass to prepare our hearts and our minds to go and teach the Church’s Truth about contraception, family planning, and the generosity of the Lord. It was heartbreaking to basically hear from the pulpit permission for couples to continue to use contraception. It is this type of message and preaching that continues to undermine our ability to reach couples and inform their consciences. And to compound matters, the Deacon did not attempt at all to clarify why the Church teaches against contraception, for in doing so, he may have been able to help form and guide those who were struggling in the pew. Rather, by leaving this out, he basically gave everyone the ability to continue to use contraception and disagree with the Church on other teachings with a clear conscience as long as they kept quiet about it.

I have never walked out of Mass before, but I was horrified and mad. The only thing that kept me in my seat was the fact that we had to go to this Mass in order to make it in time to set up for our class. It is because of incidents like these, that we find ourselves in the pickle that we do regarding the HHS mandate. Maybe it would be a little easier to make headway with those who don’t understand our objections if there wasn’t so much dissension being justified from the pulpits.

Although we were certain Fr. was just as shocked as we were by what was said, we knew we had to do something and felt that maybe God had led us to Mass there for a reason that morning. As soon as we arrived home, we composed an email to the pastor, explaining the reason we came to his parish that day and expressed our tremendous concern for his flock which had all been given a false teaching on contraception and conscience formation. We also implored him to remedy the scandal that had just occurred by clarifying to this deacon and the whole congregation the actual church teachings on these subjects.

I am happy to say that we received this response that evening:

“You are right in that I too was surprised at the sermon. I think the deacon must have been going on an erroneous notion of “dissent” that was popularized years ago.  I will be clarifying things with him and with the parish. I also agree with you that now is not the time to be making things more grey, which is what the homily did. Thank you very much for the email, as it helps me to address the issue more forcefully.”

Knowing this holy priest, we have every confidence that he will indeed follow through with these intentions. Please pray for him as he faces this challenge as it is likely to cause quite a stir.

So as we begin Lent, we challenge all of you to find a way in your own parish or community to do your part to see that the Church’s teachings are being relayed faithfully and adequately. You never know the difference you could make.


Moving Beyond Fear: Decision Making Regarding Vaccines

Vaccinating children is a hot button issue, to say the least.  When the topic comes up among parents, there is usually some pretty heated remarks, and when you throw a physician into the mix it can get downright dirty.  I have heard a physician say to a parent “I see you wants to keep your child safe” in regards to the decision to vaccinate, which seems to insinuate that a unvaccinated child wants to live recklessly and dangerously.  On the other side of the debate I have heard parents accuse others of pumping their children full of poisons and doing irreparable harm.  The more parents I talk to on both sides of this issue, the more I realize that the decision making about vaccines is not based upon informed consent but on fear.

Fear seems to dominate the issue of vaccines.  On one side it is a fear of contracting a disease that may possibly cause some long lasting side effect or even death.  All of this depends on which disease is being considered.  (For more on this, please refer to Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book).  And on the other side of the debate there is a fear of what the ingredients may do to children.  For some that fear may be about autism, or asthma, or other allergies, just to name a few.  There are also concerns about using vaccines developed using tissue from aborted fetuses and the possible negative effects that injected human DNA may have on a child.

On either side, these should be considered legitimate concerns.  Everyday parents must face decisions concerning their child’s safety and well being.  And for the vast majority of these decisions, there are no domineering physicians and parents trying to force the parents hand.  In an era where paternalism is supposedly dead, it continues to rear its ugly head in regards to vaccines.  Time and again, both in my own experience as a parent and in working in health care, I see physicians attempting to force their views upon their patients in regards to vaccines.  In all those cases it was pro-vaccine.  What is a parent to do? Here is an individual who is supposed to know the facts and who is supposed to be caring for their child, who is talking about how the child might die if they do not receive the shots.  And if the parent shows any resistance, then they are practically accused of child abuse!  Please do not think I am exaggerating.   For parents who choose not to vaccinate, this is par for the course.  It is a rare treat to find a physician who is willing to let a parent refuse vaccinations without trying to intimidate them through fear.  With this kind of pressure to vaccinate, plus a parent’s usual trust in their physician, is it any wonder that most parents simply vaccinate their child without a second thought?  Filled with fear of what might happen without vaccines and pressured by the physician they are supposed to trust, it is the easiest road to take.

And yet, is this the best?  Now I am not saying parents should not choose vaccines.  What I do argue for is informed decisions by the parents.  Parents choosing to vaccinate should know what vaccines the child is to receive and when. What the vaccines prevent against, and likewise what the dangers of those diseases are.  And the parents should also be aware of any concerns about safety regarding particular vaccines.  I place the same burden on the parents who refuse to vaccinate.  I would challenge them to tell me what are their sources in regards to the dangers of vaccines? What is it that they are afraid of? Is there evidence for those fears?  What is your current situation and the associate risks with not vaccinating?

Decisions in medicine are supposed to be based upon the available evidence, and the patient is supposed to be given the autonomy to make an informed decision. On both sides of this debate, the parents must move beyond making decisions based solely on fear and begin to make informed decisions for their children.  Neither decision is necessarily wrong, but it must be made consciously and with knowledge.   As parents, we know full well that it is impossible to protect our children from all danger and all risks and daily we must make decisions to limit these dangers as much as is reasonably possible. For those dangers we cannot prevent, we must be willing to shoulder that responsibility if something were to happen, and this holds true for the decision about vaccines.  Rather than living in fear, we must make that informed decision and then face down the possible consequences and make the bold statement that we will not let fear rule our lives.


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