Dr. John Bruchalski is an obstetrician/gynecologist in Fairfax, Virginia. When he was younger, his ambition was to be the best doctor possible, so he tried to accommodate all the women who came to him, which included dismembering and killing their babies in the womb.
This was during his residency when under the tutelage of a more experienced doctor. He thought he was doing the right thing by providing abortions, even third-trimester abortions. Dr. Bruchalski said he tried to follow what the women wanted and didn’t think to challenge their decisions. He said he was taught in medical school that “truth was relative” and science was God. He believed he was allowing women to have freedom by providing abortions.
The eldest of three boys in a New Jersey Polish-Catholic family, Dr. Bruchalski described his parents as very prayerful. His mom stayed home to raise the children, who all attended Catholic schools, and they prayed the rosary daily. He recalled one morning in January 1973 when his father—who worked as a Latin and religion teacher at a Salesian prep school—told him that that day would be forever known as “Black Monday.” It was the day America decriminalized the murder of the preborn.
This young boy grew up and eventually went to med school. For two years during his residency, he performed abortions, tubal ligations, inserted IUDs, prescribed birth control, and assisted with in vitro fertilization. He performed the abortions despite his knowledge that “at 10 weeks gestational age, the fetus, I knew, had a heart that had been beating for at least 5 weeks already, sending its blood to all of its organs, which were already in place and beginning to function in purposeful development.”
During the abortions, Dr. Bruchalski had to make sure that the uterus was emptied of all the baby’s body parts. And with each abortion, his heart became more impenetrable. One day, at a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, he was trying to save a baby in one room while aborting a baby of the same gestational age in another room. Suddenly he felt as if he couldn’t breathe. The neonatologist at his hospital said to him, “Stop treating these babies like they’re tumors. You’re better than that. You’re a good physician.”
During that time, Dr. Bruchalski had also begun attending a local Assembly of God church and, ironically, had begun volunteering at a local pregnancy center. The dichotomy helped him realize that there was more to women’s health than he was practicing in residency.
As highlighted in the May/June 2004 issue of Celebrate Life Magazine, Dr. Bruchalski traveled to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and experienced a miraculous conversion. It was then that he knew that God was calling him to a “higher standard.” From that point on, he began devoting his life to treating two patients instead of one. He stopped killing babies, and since 1994 he has devoted his life to saving them in his life-affirming clinic Tepeyac OB/GYN.
Named after the mountain in Mexico where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego as an expectant Aztec maiden, the clinic is a reminder of why Dr. Bruchalski does this work. Tepeyac’s services include obstetrics, midwifery, gynecology, natural family planning, ultrasound, cancer screening infertility treatments, hormone management, patient education, adolescent gynecology, perinatal hospice care, and abortion pill reversal.
In 2004, he and his wife, Carolyn, began a ministry called Divine Mercy Care. Its twofold mission is to promote the practice of pro-life medicine by providing funds for charitable care at Tepeyac OB/GYN and to educate doctors, medical professionals, and patients about life-affirming medicine.
“I am hoping we can educate medical students and the greater community about what viewing medicine as mercy means,” said Dr. Bruchalski. “I started Divine Mercy Care because medicine is an act of mercy. Health is based on relationships. Divine Mercy Care is to help renew medicine in our community and in our country, and I wanted to help women who wanted to choose life and could not afford quality medical care.”
In 2021, Divine Mercy Care assisted nearly 550 underserved women with financial aid and delivered 120 babies to women who may have chosen abortion. Additionally, 70 families received infant gift baskets to prepare for the arrival of their newest member.
Last year, Dr. Bruchalski received the prestigious Evangelium Vitae Medal from Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for his pro-life efforts. The award honors those whose “outstanding efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.”1
While the award is a great honor, Dr. Bruchalski said it also comes with a great responsibility.
“It is incredible, isn’t it, that we can get awards for not killing babies?” he asked. “But if we can inspire those in darkness and inspire those who are put in front of me, I hope the award does that.”
Dr. Bruchalski said that when he was committing abortions he couldn’t see the fracturing in his work. “There is a connection between breast cancer and abortion, preterm labor and abortion, and mental illness and abortion, and more women want to get rid of their sick kids,” he said. “I want to build community and build conversations, witness and disciple folks and do this in a medical/religious sense. We are all sinners and all need God’s redemption and grace, but you need to allow grace to save you. We are His joy, His power, His beloved.”
He continued, “The Catholic Church’s thoughts on bioethics and teachings are merciful and guide us. We don’t have to interpret. We can hate the disease but love the patient. We don’t get rid of patients with difficult diseases, but we treat the disease. Flannery O’Connor said that abortion leads to the gas chamber. Instead of the darkness and death chaos, we can be a light. I set up a medical practice that partners with pregnancy centers and revitalizes the community. I want to make abortion unwanted and children welcome.”
Thus, “There are three pillars of Tepeyac: merciful medicine, scriptural social justice, and Christ-centered relationships,” he said. “We are board certified and do our best to be excellent.”
This excellent care even caught the attention of a saint. In 1996, Dr. Bruchalski met St. Teresa of Calcutta when she visited a nearby parish. She told him he was bringing her Calcutta to Northern Virginia, and that, like her, he was serving the least of these. She said, “Johnny will be blessed abundantly because of my love.”
The 62-year-old father and grandfather recently published a riveting memoir through Ignatius Press entitled Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine. Dr. Bruchalski said he wrote the book because he hopes that sharing his conversion from abortion to life-affirming medicine might change the hearts of others working in the medical field and “renew the face of medicine.”
“I decided to write the book as I was working with two people in Divine Mercy Care; Kathryn Doherty and Chaney Mullins convinced me I have a story to tell,” said Dr. Bruchalski. “However, at the time I was seeing patients and being pulled in a lot of directions. Divine Mercy Care’s tagline is ‘transforming hearts through healthcare,’ but on the other side, I was hard-hearted in other ways. Two patients of mine both convinced me to do the book, but I didn’t know when I would find the time. Then the Lord took me out with an illness, and I was able to get it written in 2021, and the book was produced in 2022.”
The book is a captivating account of Dr. Bruchalski’s transformation from life as a young Catholic to becoming a practical atheist to his return to the faith, and it addresses the dichotomy between saving wanted babies and aborting the unwanted ones. It is a must-read for anyone who has participated in an abortion and for those in the medical field.
“My book is about hope; it is for those who have been on the dark side and also for those who have never made this mistake,” Dr. Bruchalski said. “We are all in this together and I hope to inspire those who are put in front of me. I am grateful we can help others.”
In his book, Dr. Bruchalski chronicles the conversion he had after his visit to Medjugorje—a trip suggested by a neonatologist friend. Dr. Bruchalski went on the trip with his mother and had a powerful conversion, one that was even greater than his earlier trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“On that hill in Medjugorje, that experience happened, and I came off of it totally different,” he said. “I felt loved and showed myself to the priest at the bottom of the hill. We talked at home about the abortions and how it wasn’t part of the Church. I had been going to the Assembly of God, but I knew I couldn’t go back to that. I went to confession and came back to Catholicism. I understood the teachings and followed the teachings of the Church. The scales literally fell off my eyes and rather than feeling shame, I felt sad that I didn’t love Him as much as I should.”
His friend Abby Johnson, author of Unplanned and The Walls Are Talking, praised Dr. Bruchalski’s memoir, saying, “His conversion story and current zeal for life and ethics in medicine are inspiring.”
He has also gotten great feedback during a recent book tour, and many have told Dr. Bruchalski they have gifted his book to family and friends who are in the medical field.
Though Dr. Bruchalski no longer sees patients, as he has endured several health problems, he continues to consult at Tepeyac and serves as president of Divine Mercy Care. Dr. Bruchalski encourages anyone interested in opening a life-affirming center in their area to contact Divine Mercy Care and they will help.
“We have a gift of inspiring and encouraging whether in good times or bad. The road to medicine is difficult, and it’s hard to discern whether you are living the fullness of what is given to you. We have doctors, nurses, and PAs who are burned out and exhausted. We have been there and maybe we can help,” he said. “I appeal to college students, residents, pre-med, and those in high school, if the Lord is calling you into medicine, please contact us, as that is our lane. Come alongside and we will accompany you.”
For more information about Divine Mercy Care, visit DivineMercyCare.org or write to email@example.com. Dr. Bruchalski encourages donations to the 501(c)(3) organization so they can spread this approach to excellence in women’s health and medicine as an act of mercy.
1. Evangelium Vitae Medal, University of Notre Dame de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, accessed March 18, 2023.