Saturday, May 5, 2012

Role Models: Good and Ill

I was relieved that Dr. Bruchalski's talk (see first post on this) didn't devolve into heckling by disagreeing audience members, or a pro-life fan-fest. It was thought-provoking and game-changing, in line with the truly pro-life and medically/ethically rigorous flavor of the Vita Institute and AAPLOG.

Several pro-choice medical students and one pro-choice nursing student stayed to ask questions--good, earnest, and respectful questions.

For example, the nursing student (having more clinical experience than any of the medical students) asked: What about the case of placenta previa in a woman six months along?

Rather than give a pat answer, Dr. Bruchalski first recounted a story of a woman in severe hypotensive crisis (I forget the ins and outs of the case) and said that he and his colleagues "took her straight to termination," but could not save her life. He next observed that, in that case, there were (medically) other things he could have done before abortion which may have saved her life. Finally, Dr. Bruchalski implied in honesty, that pat answers don't belong in the trenches. However, he maintained that there are two patients and his job is to treat both of them and never pit one life against the other.

San Damiano crucifix like mine.
The pro-choice medical students asked lots of questions--so many that Dr. Bruchalski sort of had to cut them off to finish! Afterwards, they asked to keep in touch with them. One said she was touched by a lot that he had to say; she even called the talk "poignant for me." The other said he was an intellectual, and so much evidence demanded that he reassess the issue.

I hope these future providers can see the truth about women, the unborn, and evidence-based practice!

After the talk I thanked Dr. Bruchalksi. He learned I was from TAC and said he could recognize students from TAC, Steubenville, Christendom, Dallas....

He also noticed that I wear the cross of San Damiano and asked me why I do. I explained that it was an important symbol of poverty, which seems (to me) interwoven with medical practice and real gift of self to Christ in each patient.

As I was speaking, he began fumbling in his pockets. As I finished, he pulled out a small drawstring bag and revealed a relic of St. Francis of Assisi! He handed it gently to me. I kissed it and touched it to my crucifix, now aware that St. Francis was present in a real way (almost standing with us in the lecture hall). Dr. Bruchalski described that he also felt medical practice was a work of wholehearted mercy. I stood there, clasping St. Francis to my heart and having a hard time believing that I was really hearing someone else agree that medicine can be a self-expenditure for others for the sake of Christ. Wow.

Today outside PP, I met another professor who was volunteering. He recognized me and we exchanged a few pleasant words. I left the encounter much less sad than my first brush with a professor across the fence. Over this academic year (partly through experiences like meeting Dr. Bruchalski) I have built up a hope: all is not lost, even in such a dark world. There are saints among us, Christ is near offering Himself radically, and grace is abundant.

No comments:

Post a Comment