Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My interview on "National Review "

While in Washington for book signings, my Pre-natal Diagnosis Conference, and the March for Life, I ran into National Review columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez. We had already collaborated on this interview for National Review which came out today.

Here's a sneak peak;

LOPEZ: How can we help doctors? So many parents in your book got little encouragement from their doctor, instead having to beg to give their child a chance at life. One doctor even lied to the parents about the possibilities for the child living much beyond birth.

VELASQUEZ: Doctors may appear to have an agenda, but it’s most helpful to assume that misconceptions can be overcome with information. They should be encouraged to educate themselves through conferences like the one I am giving about the latest research — whether it be medical research or improved educational methods, so they can help their patients give truly informed consent when a diagnosis is given. They also need the encouragement of seeing our families living fulfilled lives with a child with special needs; in many cases they have not seen families like ours. I recently interviewed Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, who admitted he had no exposure to people with Down Syndrome. I am hoping that a family with a child with Down Syndrome befriends him so that his eyes can be opened to the joy such children bring.

There are increasing numbers of outreach programs to medical students from members of the special-needs community. One of them at the Boggs Center in New Jersey has a medical student spend a day with a family raising a child with special needs. These relationships can offer the doctor a different perspective than was taught in medical school. Offer to chat with your obstetrician’s other patients who are expecting a child with a disability, or give them a copy of my book. There is also a beautiful free pamphlet available through the National Down Syndrome Society called “Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis.”

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Tebowing in the Latin Rite

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KIDS is co-sponsoring a Conference

Council on Poor Prenatal Diagnoses
& Therapeutic Intervention
Founding Partners:
Medical Students for Life, Family Research Council,
Keep Infants with Down Syndrome & Jérôme Lejeune Foundation USA
First Annual
Conference on Medical Advances in Prenatal Diagnoses
Saturday, January 21, 8:30 am – 5 pm
Family Research Council, 801 G Street, NW , Washington DC
Register at http://www.frc.org/events or watch webcast @www.frc.org

 Presenters include:
Alberto Costa, MD, Ph.D.
Byron Calhoun, MD
John Bruchalski, MD
David Prentice, Ph.D.
Gerard Nadal, Ph.D.

The Conference will bring together professionals from many different specialty areas, including genetic researchers, ob/gyn physicians, developmental pediatricians, hospital nursing staff, medical genetic counselors and medical students.  Other invited participants and guests include peer ministry providers, social service support professionals, advocates for persons with disabilities and public policy specialists. 

The goals of the Conference are:
·       affirm the life and dignity of all persons, especially those diagnosed prenatally with a disability or lethal condition
·       review how information about prenatal diagnoses of disability or lethal condition is currently delivered
·       consider how this information might be delivered more comprehensively
·       consider the impact of a new blood test for Down syndrome in obstetric care
·       explain the work of the Council and its year-long engagement on prenatal diagnosis issues
·       review best practices for postnatal care of infants with disabilities in perinatal hospice and in hospital, home and medical daycare settings
An agenda for the day will be available soon. Our host for the day, the Family Research Council (FRC), has limited space, so this first Conference is by invitation only.  However, FRC will be webcasting all general sessions that day, which can be viewed viawww.frc.org.  For more information, contact Jeanne Monahan at Family Research Council, jfm@frc.org ( 202- 225-4008) or Peg Kolm, at mkolm@adw.org (240-994-0603).  We welcome your interest and expertise in this effort, and hope you can join us on January 21.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two reasons I support Karen Santorum for First Lady

Rick Santorum with Isabella, Leticia and Christina Velasquez 
Jennifer Hartline sat down with e Karen Santorum to discuss her family. Karen is an attorney and neo-natal nurse, the author of two books and most of all devoted mother and wife to Rick. In addition to enduring life on the campaign trail the couple has had to endure wretched attacks on their handling of their greatest sorrow, the loss of their son Gabriel from left wing pundits Alan Colmes and Eugene Robinson. But Karen returns mercy for vitriol, because she says, "you never lose with love."

Karen and Rick have a deeply rooted Catholic faith, they homeschool their seven children and attend a Novos Ordo Mass in Latin, and are seen by parishioners in their Virginia parish during the week at daily Mass. Its easy to see where Karen nourished her gentle attitude of returning good for evil. She has a truly Catholic understanding of suffering which has shaped her loving forgiveness. I can't imagine how much pain these unworthy attacks must have caused her, evoking as they must have, the memories of the terrible loss of her son Gabriel. She shares Gabriel's story in a moving book "Letters to Gabriel"

She says, about suffering,
"All you can do is trust Him and embrace the cross you're given, because there's definitely a reason," she'll say. "Crosses come in all shapes and sizes, but we're better because of them. Even in the worst of times God is working and His light will shine through."

Author of "You Never Lose with Love", Jennifer Hartline writes;

"Where our abortion-minded culture sees a "burden", Rick and Karen see Bella -- their beautiful blessing.
"I'm a blessed mother of a special-needs child. Since her birth, I've learned that God truly has a reason for everything. Like every one of us, God has a purpose for her. Bella has made all of us grow in our faith like never before, made us more virtuous and shown us God's love and mercy. Her life is a very happy and joyful life. Bella is an angel. I truly believe I am in the care of a saint."

Now how often do we get the opportunity to vote for the father of a saint for president?

On a personal note, Rick gave permission to reprint his story about Isabella Maria, their daughter who was born with trisomy 18 entitled "Two Years Worth Every Tear" in my book "A Special Mother is Born". This photo was taken at a Town Hall at the home of family values activist and former gubernatorial candidate, Karen Testerman. A month later, last Monday evening, I met Rick and Karen at a rally in Manchester NH. Rick introduced me to Karen as the author of the book. Karen said, "I love your book!". I embraced both of them and we took a photo together (I will post it when I receive it).

Read more by Jennifer Hartline at Catholic Online. 
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Catholics: join me in a nine Memorare Novena for Rick Santorum today


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Last night when I met Rick and Karen and thanked them for their witness to life, I promised I would lead my friends and followers in prayer for him in the New Hampshire primary today. 

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Friday, January 6, 2012

My interview with the Long Island Catholic

I told Mary, the journalist,  the story of how
"A Special Mother is Born" came to be.
Here's an excerpt;
Velasquez said “A Special Mother is Born,” “my own story of Christina’s birth,” was first published in Faith & Family magazine in spring of 2007. “I received so many letters in response from women who had the same epiphany of being surprised by this powerful joy, this encounter with Jesus in the person of their special needs child, that I knew I was on to something,” she continued. “I began collecting stories from mothers three years ago, and was delighted to meet many courageous faith-filled women.” Reading former Senator Rick Santorum’s story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about his daughter with special needs inspired Velasquez to ask fathers to contribute to the book as well.

You can read it on their website.

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Prenatal Down Syndrome Diagnosis Booklets Available Free to Medical Providers

from PR.com:
Atlanta, GA, December 23, 2011 --(PR.com)-- This week, Canister launched a revamped Lettercase program to distribute free copies of "Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis" to medical providers nationwide. The booklets, authored by Stephanie Meredith, were created with input from representatives of the national medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Medical Genetics, and the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and the national Down syndrome organizations.

The booklet contains accurate, up-to-date, and balanced prenatal information about Down syndrome for patients learning about a prenatal diagnosis from their physician. The booklet covers available health and education services, common medical conditions for babies with Down syndrome, information about pregnancy options, and helpful resources about the condition. The booklet also includes a Spanish translation and has been optimized for different reading levels.

Practicing medical providers who are involved in delivering Down syndrome diagnoses are eligible for a free copy of the booklet at http://www.lettercase.org/, and medical facilities may also purchase additional copies as needed. The philanthropic program is funded exclusively by the creators of the booklet, Canister, a small design studio in Atlanta, GA.

Justin Meredith, the owner of Canister, explained, "We created these booklets four years ago to fill a void of resources for expectant parents learning about a Down syndrome diagnosis. Since that time, we have distributed nearly 20,000 booklets and been fortunate enough to receive feedback and assistance from representatives of the national medical and Down syndrome organizations. The medical professionals have always been the keystone of our program, so we've dedicated our professional skill and funding capacity to make this resource available to them."

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St Andre Bessette

Today's saint, St Andre Bessett, lived a couple of towns away from me in the mill town of Mossup CT for a while before he entered religious life. He was frail and moved from job to job as they kept firing him. They considered him a loser, but he built St Joseph's Oratory in Montreal. He didn't have anything to begin with but a dream and a devotion to St Joseph. 
 Catholic Online says;
Despite financial troubles, Brother Andre never lost faith or devotion. He had started to build a basilicaon the mountain but the Depression had interfered. At ninety-years old he told his co-workers to place a statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He was so ill he had to be carried up the mountain to see the statue in its new home. Brother Andre died soon after on January 6, and didn't live to see the work on the basilica completed. But in Brother Andre's mind it never would be completed because he always saw more ways to express his devotion and to heal others. As long as he lived, theman who had trouble keeping work for himself, would never have stopped working for God.
His prayers worked thousands of cures for those who came to him in Montreal, however, for us in CT, especially the French Canadian community, he's our hometown saint!
May we like St Andre never let our weakness keep us from doing whatever God is calling us to do for Him. 
Read more about St Andre at Catholic Online. 

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fourth Annual KIDS Event at March for Life

We are excited to announce plans for the fourth annual KIDS event at the 2012 March for Life in Washington, DC! Once again, we will be meeting at the headquarters of the National Right to Life Committee, just a few blocks from the start of the March. See details at the end of this note for time and location.

We are honored to have Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgersas our special guest for the third year in a row. Cathy is from the state of Washington and has a 4-year-old son, Cole, with Down syndrome. She is a champion for children with special needs in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Participating in the March for Life is like nothing that can be expressed in words; it just has to be experienced! Seeing and being part of the sea of pro-lifers that swarm up Constitution Avenue is so inspiring. Last year it occurred to me that out of all the thousands and thousands of different organizations, parishes, faith communities, high schools, colleges, and pro-life groups that have a presence at the March, our KIDS group may be one of the only, if not the only, group to represent a class of people who are specifically targeted for abortion--those precious unborn babies with Down syndrome.
Now that the new prenatal maternal blood test, MaterniT21, is out on the market, making it even easier to detect Down syndrome earlier in pregnancy, it is even more important for families (and friends) of children with Down syndrome to come together and have a presence at the March for Life, to show the world what a blessing our children (young and adult) are. Please, please, come if you are able! It can be overwhelming to think about driving or taking the Metro into DC with your children, but really, I think sometimes the anticipation of doing it is more overwhelming than actually doing it. If your children are not up walking the entire March, you can do just part of it. But we would so love to see you at the KIDS event!

Here are the details:
Date: Monday, January 23rd
Time: 10:30 - Noon
Location: National Right to Life Committee, 512 10th Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

Special Guest: Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who will arrive at 11:00 a.m.

The National Right to Life Committee generously invites us to use space in their offices and also provides sandwiches and refreshments. So you can have a nice lunch to give you energy for the March! Thank you NRLC!

Please spread the word to anyone you know who has a family member with Down syndrome, or anyone who has a heart for individuals with Down syndrome. If there is another Down syndrome group who will be participating, we invite them to join us. We hope to see you in a few weeks! (It would be helpful to let us know if you are coming, just so we can get an estimate of how many to expect. Also, we would like to give more details (cell phone numbers, parking directions, etc.))

Eileen and Leticia


Here's my post from last year's event.