In this election season, in an attempt to help us vote informed by Catholic principles, I emailed a video YouTube link from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that defends religious freedom to friends and family (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpPh6ymIhjg). In follow-up responses, the topic of abortion came up for discussion. The word “abortion” wasn’t mentioned in the video, but it was implied by references to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are being forced by the U.S. government’s Health and Human Services mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion and contraceptives in their health care plan. The Little Sisters do not want to be forced to support the abortion industry.
By way of introduction, I have been a practicing Minneapolis physician now for 28 years. Here is my medical background and experience with abortion.
I have always been driven to get at the root of things. In medical school I was intrigued and driven to find out and see with my own eyes exactly when human life begins. I wanted to see cells and molecules divide … and molecules combine. I was amazed by what we are able to see with current technology! One great day in medical school, I witnessed human conception taking place on the big screen: egg meeting sperm — the tremor — exquisite combination of maternal and paternal DNA — tremor — and the subsequent division of a brand new one-celled organism into two, then four, then eight, 16, 32, 64, 128, … into a morula, blastocyst, and on and on until a human heart is beating only 18 days after conception. Yes! Life is defined as consisting of both growth and cell division. Fact: Human life begins at conception. All scientists now agree with this truth.
Another truth I learned later: Abortion is a grave evil. This surgical (or chemical) procedure intentionally destroys a human life. Of the many factors leading to the escalating violence in the United States, I firmly believe the current violence is directly linked to abortion on demand—legal in the United States until baby is full term or the mother is 40 weeks pregnant. Abortion is a grotesque killing of a baby and a silent killing of families. Abortion kills a vulnerable human life growing inside the protective womb of the mother. The surgical procedure is the most evil technique I have ever seen. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court thinks women should have access to it for all nine months of pregnancy.
I think we can do better for women and for families. We are doing much better at Abria Pregnancy Resources where I am now medical director. I review daily prenatal ultrasounds from the Abria clinic office (across from Planned Parenthood on University Avenue). Women are counseled, supported, cared for and loved at Abria instead of being rushed into killing their child at the mega Planned Parenthood right across the street.
As a pathologist at St. Paul Regions Hospital, I would work alongside surgeons and guide their surgeries while patients were anesthetized nearby in the operating room. Depending on what I determined from microscope/imaging/staining techniques from tissue surgeons submitted to me during procedures, surgery would proceed in the proper direction. During surgery, we (surgeon and pathologist) consulted. I would describe tissue: malignant or benign, cholesterol plaques, absence of stones, ischemic bowel, etc. I also received various other tissues after surgeries.
One of the most common surgical procedures was abortion. My job then was to carefully reassemble the baby body parts to make sure nothing was left behind in the woman’s body by the aborting surgeon. Most babies were seven to eight weeks old and it was easy to identify body parts. I literally had to put the baby body back together to see if all baby pieces were there. There were also many much larger babies (12 to 28+ weeks). If I couldn’t account for all body parts, the surgeon would have to go back in and recover them in order to try to prevent life threatening infection in the mother. Baby parts were left behind routinely. I had to notify the surgeon the same day when pieces were missing. This was an eye-opening, sad experience. I was unable to prevent the killing already done as tissues came to the lab. I was 25 at the time — assembling dead baby parts will always be part of my experience. It is a grisly business and our tax dollars pay Planned Parenthood millions of dollars annually to fund this ongoing horror. You must know abortion is a grave evil. I have had to work up close to abortion in the industry, using my medical gifts to minimize the harm to women resulting from abortion. Imagine touching dead babies for weeks on end. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 voted to legalize abortion. It was the worst legal decision our country has ever made — the worst decision ever for women, for sure.
Later, as a private medical practitioner, I saw thousands of women who suffered latent effects of the abortions they had. I’d treat them for severe depression or anxiety, asthma, diabetes, back pain, or abdominal pain for weeks. I diagnosed and treated thousands of cases of herpes, warts, and chlamydia also.
When trust was developed, women often could open up and tell me they still felt great regret, anger, or anxiety and suffered sleepless nights over one or two or three abortions from their past. They were miserable. I also had thousands of young women in to see me telling me their boyfriends, families, or husbands were forcing them to have abortions. They were afraid from the pressure and were often rushed through the abortion without being informed of other options. Most of my patients were also on contraceptives of some sort that failed. Many were on the pill, and many were using the IUD or Norplant. I’d see them every year for a Pap smear, and also three or four times a year for either a bladder infection or depression flare-up.
The common theme I heard from them is that they felt depressed and used by boyfriends in their life. Since they were deemed “chemically infertile” by contraception, there was no fear of pregnancy among their male partners who would often take advantage of them. Women were too weak and/or afraid to say “no” to sex. This was extremely common in women college students. They felt “used” instead of loved — yet, they still wanted their prescription for the pill … . Contraceptives lead to abortion as casual sex is encouraged by doctors, schools, media, culture. Contraception hurts women by enslaving them to lives of sex without love. The more contraceptives prescribed to women, the more sexually-transmitted infections, false relationships, failed classes, anxiety and abortions. Guys get what they want in college and high school and dump the women off at Planned Parenthood for morning-after pills, RU486 or whatever.
We do have an amazing, beautiful alternative to contraception: Natural Family Planning (NFP). It is equally effective to the pill in postponing conception (99.4 percent) and respects the beautiful dignity of a woman’s body without the artificial steroid hormonal side effects of the pill, increased risk of cervical cancers, breast cancer, hypertension, migraine, stroke, etc. I taught NFP in my previous medical practice and now my daughter Callie teaches it with her husband Tim Doran.
Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote a beautiful, short encyclical in 1968 (15 pages) titled “Humanae Vitae.” In it he predicted with 100 percent accuracy what would befall women should contraception become widespread. Every prophecy has come true. Look it up online. It’s an easy read.
One prophecy: “Man may lose respect for the woman and may consider her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer his respected and beloved companion.” Another: “Conjugal infidelity” would increase; divorces would increase. Another: General lowering of morality. Another: Governments may force women to use contraception. There are more, and all have come true today!
My medical experience has led me to believe that contraception is one of the worst things to force on women. Why are so many Planned Parenthood clinics in black neighborhoods? Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger called our black brothers and sisters “human weeds.” Yet the contraceptive philosophy continues to enslave women and keep them depressed and sick. It has enslaved women in other countries, too. Vulnerable women use contraception and are routinely used and abused. Contraception has taken away women’s freedom, not supplied it. Ask any women in college. I have seen it in my dear patients. When I have taught them NFP for marriage preparation, it’s amazing how happy they look during follow-up clinic visits. Confidence is returned. Shoulders back up. Dignity restored.
We must be willing to be politically incorrect, labeled self-righteous, etc., to protect those who have no voice. We need women like Helen Alvaré—a beautiful woman, lawyer, teacher and mother who is morally courageous.
I have found that the most vocal proponents of abortion have either had or paid for abortions themselves. These victims of abortion need our compassion, love, understanding, and support, not cold judgment.
In the meantime, we must fight this grave evil without resting, until our growing love supplies every need and reaches to embrace every vulnerable unborn child.
The basic building block of society is the family. Once the family is destroyed, the rest of society will be destroyed. My beloved father Tom Olson told me this and the reality never left me. He was a strong opponent of abortion not only for the baby, but for the damage in the couples he was counseling for marital difficulties. He and my mother left the Democratic Party because of its abortion platform. Interestingly, in the United States, rates of depression have risen dramatically in the last 50 years. (See “American Journal of Psychiatry” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) That’s the same time the pill has been around — 50 years. Women are much more likely to have a mood disorder (depression/anxiety) than men; however, men suffer from this disease at epidemic rates as well. One of my dear male patients is on hospice care now for major depression/suicide risk.
Let us be courageous and stand up with real strength. Let us take on the courage of St. Thomas More, King Henry VIII’s foe, who died for the sake of truth and moral courage in defending God’s plan for marriage and family.
We need to talk truths in this election — as hard as they are. I need you all to know how gravely evil abortion is. I am an eye witness. On the scale of evils, abortion ranks right at the top. As current medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, I have learned much. For example, my/our time on this earth is very short. I now live like this is my last year. When I go before our heavenly Father, I don’t want to tell Him that I never spoke up for His most vulnerable.
Dr. Nancy T. Miller, a parishioner of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, serves as medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, and as medical director at Abria Pregnancy Resources in St. Paul. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. You can reach her at doctor@Mantlehealth.com.