Wednesday, February 25, 2009

St. Joseph's Hospital Story Continues

The articles continue to emerge on this story of "eugenic abortions" at a Catholic hospital in London, Ontario. But this one cannot be ignored. A woman, who was pressured to have an early induction because she was carrying a baby with Trisomy 18, has come forward and told her story .

This simply cannot go ignored for much longer. Bishop Fabbro is going to have to make a statement soon about this situation. Andrea Mrozek who moderates the blog, ProWomanProLife, where this story has been discussed since it appeared in the National Post on the weekend, stated
I suppose I wanted to believe the best about that hospital; as a non-Catholic; I tend to believe that Catholics are the ones who hold the line on this topic. I suppose it was somewhat naive of me to believe that no Catholic could ever make a mistake. (All the more discouraging then, when they make up fancy covers to get around what they are actually doing to convince the ill-informed among us…which apparently includes me.)

I was taken by surprise by her comment; I didn't realise that some people actually look to Catholics for direction in matters of pro-life. Being a Catholic, I am too aware of our failings. So when someone says, they trusted us to "hold the line", I am humbled by the fact that we have not.

And I am concerned that this story will now cause more people to be scandalized. To all those for whom this story causes offense, I wish to apologize for letting you down. I want to apologize for my Church, that has not been faithful to what it teaches, for the many ways in which we have compromised what we know to be the truth.

I love the Catholic Church and I have personally known many giants of the faith in my Church. But I also know that many have fallen far short of what they should have been. And whenever that happens, people are hurt by their actions and many more are scandalized by their sins. Lord have mercy on us all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Arrival of Eugenics

I was making a fire in our wood stove the other day and picked up a newspaper to scrunch up under the kindling, when this headline caught my eye:

Genetic health of the unborn: Simple test, complex questions

There is just no getting away from the spectre of abortion.

A new prenatal test is slated to hit the market this summer that requires nothing more than a sample of a pregnant woman's blood for doctors to analyze the DNA of her developing fetus. Current methods to collect fetal DNA, such as amniocentesis, involve an intrusion into the uterus that can trigger a miscarriage ... but after 30 years of effort, science appears to be on the cusp of delivering a safe, non-invasive test that can detect Down syndrome and other genetic conditions by capturing the minute bits of fetal DNA in a pregnant woman's bloodstream.
- Carolyn Abraham, The Globe and Mail, February 7, 2009

Click here for the full article.

The article continues on the next page with the headline "It would spare so much mental anguish" and then relates the story of a 41-year old mother-to-be who is relieved that soon mothers will know whether or not they are carrying a baby with a fetal anomaly. Given her own history of miscarriage, I can sympathize with her somewhat. Some hail this as a wonderful advance; now parents and medical staff can prepare to care for a child who may require special help. But the real truth is that these moms will now choose abortion rather than have a child with a disability.

Advocates of such testing are thrilled that the test will be able to tell at 10 weeks whether a child has Down syndrome amongst other possible disabilities. As one doctor stated "it will become the new diagnostic gold standard". Testing will also be offered to determine the sex of a fetus and screen for chromosomal abnormalities known as trisomies 13 and 18, as well as Down syndrome.

How long will it be before pregnant women are encouraged, perhaps even mandated, to take such testing so that the disabled infant can be aborted and not become a burden on the tax-payers of this country? I can't believe that scientists do not see where this leads. Perhaps they simply do not care.

Calling it a test to reduce parental anxiety is a great way for drug companies to avoid facing the eugenic reality. The truth is that this test is aimed at providing a more efficient way to cleanse humanity of its imperfections. The truth is that people with Down syndrome are not seen as equals in our society. These are the truths behind the development of a technology like this. And you know this is true when this test is being marketed in terms of its ability to reduce the risk of false positives (a problem with current amnio-testing methods). - John Van Sloten, Pastor of New Hope Christian Reformed Church and father of 16-year-old son with Down Syndrome

When I was pregnant with my third child, actually my sixth, as I had three miscarriages after my second child, the doctor said to me "you can choose to believe that you are the one in a hundred who will have a Down syndrome child or you can choose to believe you are one of the 99. Either way, you will have a beautiful new person to love." I was fortunate to have a doctor who was pro-actively pro-life; he refused to give women amniocentesis as he knew this always meant abortion was an option.

With science going in this direction, women are going to anticipate pregnancy with more anxiety than ever, rather than less. They will all feel pressured to have genetic testing done during pregnancy and any negative results will make them feel they must abort. Those brave souls who will welcome any child God sends to them will not have such testing. As my daughter in Texas was told by her doctor, "we can see fetal abnormalities with the ultrasounds and we can decide on what care is required when it is obvious". That doctor was referring to surgery rather than abortion for the child who required it.

The choice to have genetic testing done will not be to relieve the mother of anxiety about her new-born; its sole purpose will be to help her to decide whether or not she should abort. And given the fact that 80-90% of women do abort Down Syndrome babies when they get that diagnosis, this is a no-brainer.

Just because scientists can push the frontiers in every area, does not mean that they should. Nor should we allow them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's About the Baby

This post really refers back to a couple of previous posts. The first about Jojo Ruba's presentation in Halifax and the second about the induced births at a hospital in London, Ontario.

Jojo returned to Halifax this weekend, in response to a request by the Knights of Columbus to give a presentation on pro life training. This time, we had a full three hours of Jojo without the interruption of pro-abort protests. This fellow is impressive, in his knowledge of the subject of abortion, in his rational presentation, and in his thoroughly pleasant personality which is such a plus in this area. If you are going to argue for pro life, better to be a person with a ready smile and a balanced unruffled disposition, than to be a surly person with a chip on your shoulder and a point to ram down everyone's throat every chance you get. Which I often feel that I am! Lord help me from that fate.

Jojo talked a lot about the pervasiveness of relativism in our society; if something is wrong for you, well that is just your opinion and you don't have the right to shove your view on me. Well, that is okay if we are talking about flavours of ice cream, but when we get to moral issues like life and death, relativism simply doesn't work. As Jojo pointed out, just telling someone they can't force their view on someone else is, in itself, forcing your view on someone else. Relativism is self-defeating, it isn't workable in reality. He related an incident in which Father Frank Pavone was talking and half a dozen pro-choice women were sitting in the front row. One of them said "you can't force your beliefs on me, what you think is wrong is wrong for you, but not for me". Father Pavone, without speaking, proceeded to pick up her purse and to take things out and put them in his pocket. The girl said "you can't do that, that is mine". To which Father Pavone replied "are you telling me it is wrong?"

Relativists get stuck at this point, because you simply cannot get anywhere if you insist there is no right and wrong, that it all depends on the individual. There are, in fact, definite rights and wrongs and no society can exist without moral guidelines.

When someone says to you, "if you think abortion is wrong, then don't have one, but don't tell me that abortion is wrong for me", what he is saying is that he thinks beliefs about abortion are just preferences, whereas someone who believes abortion is wrong doesn't think it is wrong just for them, they believe it is a moral absolute. In other words, it is not only wrong for me, it is wrong for everyone. This is why pro lifers will not go away - because they believe this is an issue that is wrong for everyone, not just for them. And they continue to fight abortion just as abolitionists fought slavery, because they saw slavery to be the grave injustice that it is.

The other issue on my mind today is discussion of the induced early labours at St. Joseph's hospital in London, Ontario. The National Post has decided to print a rebuttal to the article on this topic originally posted by LifeSiteNews, in which LifeSite reporters stated that this hospital has been doing eugenic abortions for 20 years. The Post article is here and the original article on this in LifeSiteNews is here.

Now, I have to agree that technically these are not abortions, if you consider the definition of abortion to mean terminating the life of the unborn while still within the mother's body. But note the Post article quotes Dr. Ori Nevo of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto: "We could do termination anytime during the pregnancy,"; he also says induction is sometimes an option as well, but there is no gain in waiting for viability since the outcome for the fetus in any event is death.

If early induction of a child with a fetal anomaly always results in the baby's death, then no this shouldn't be called abortion; it should be called infanticide.

Jill Stanek, a nurse in Illinois, blew the whistle on her hospital doing just such "early induction of labor" abortions when she heard the cries of a newborn and discovered a baby who had been left to die in a linen closet. She held the baby for 45 minutes or so, until he passed away. Jill has since become a pro-life activist and has even testified in the US Supreme Court against the practise of refusing care to babies who survive abortions.

I agree that it must be truly terrible to find out that you are carrying a baby that will probably not survive more than a few hours or days after birth. But causing premature labour in order to reduce the mother's suffering is not the answer. She will have to grieve the death of that child, whenever it dies. Bringing that about sooner rather than later, may in fact be more detrimental to the mother than Father Prieur at St. Joseph's Hospital thinks.

What is really wrong here is that the focus is being shifted to the mother. The victim of abortion (or of early induced labour) is first and foremost the child. It is the child who dies. I am not talking about cases where the mother's life is at risk, unless she has an abortion, and those are extremely rare cases in actual fact. No one in their right mind would advocate saving the child at the expense of the mother.

But justifying a child's abortion, or hastening the death of a disabled child with early induction of labour, by focusing on the psychological needs of the mother is playing right into the pro-choice camp. Their arguments for abortion are all based on what the mother needs and wants, while the child is conveniently left out. If pro lifers make arguments against abortion on the basis of its hurting the woman, they will lose ground precisely because those arguments can be turned around and used for the pro-choice side.

If pro-lifers allow ourselves to be distracted by arguments focussing primarily on why abortion is not in a woman's self-interest, then we are implicity reinforcing the pro-abortion position and not our own: we are legitimizing the pro-abortion principle that the woman's interests take precedence over the child's life.
- Stephanie Gray, Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform

Father Prieur and St. Joseph's team of doctors, psychologists, counsellors are made out in the Post to be acting out of compassion. And I am sure they are trying to do that, but when I compare their actions to those of Dr. Stringfield who runs a clinic opposite the abortion clinic of the infamous Dr. Tiller (late term abortionist in Kansas), they fall short. Dr. Stringfield began by helping women through crisis pregnancies; then he was approached by a couple who knew they were having a child with anencephaly but they didn't wish to abort that child; instead they wanted to receive support for the pregnancy and they wanted to deliver the baby in a way in which they could have the most positive birth experience possible. Dr. Stringfield recounts the heartache that he and his staff carried with this couple as they progressed through the pregnancy, then went through delivery only to have their baby die within hours. But he died held by his parents, who were surrounded with staff from the clinic, all of whom were deeply touched by the experience of love for this little short life.

Choices Medical Clinic

I have heard of other prenatal hospices that specialize in helping women in similar situations; those who have a diagnosis of a disabled child or a child who will die are supported through their pregnancy and then helped through the birth process, and then held in loving support as they grieve the death of their child.

Isn't this the compassionate approach? Surely bringing about the earlier death of a child who is going to die after birth, doesn't reduce anyone's suffering. Grief will run its course, jump starting it by a few months is more likely to add trauma to the mother than it is to reduce her suffering. Life and death are processes that we all have to go through; when teams of experts step in and decide to interfere, as this hospital does, we are tampering with what should be left to nature.

I do not mean in any way to demean the suffering of the mother and father involved. But deciding that the child should die sooner rather than later - whose interests are being served by this action? Certainly not the child's. That child's life may be short but that is the only one it has, the few months within his mother's womb. Can we really know what bonds of love are being formed between mother and child, who are we to say that the life in the womb, short as it is, isn't worth much? that is the only life this child is going to get, who are we to cut it even shorter?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Personhood is the Key Issue

In North Dakota, the Personhood Bill passed, first in US history. Representative Dan Ruby put forward the "Personhood Bill" that states:
"For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."

This has to pass the Senate, so it is not law yet, but these pro-lifers are a determined lot. North Dakota has only one abortion clinic left in Fargo, and it has been the site of 40 Days for Life for a couple of campaigns now. In fact, David Bereit predicted that North Dakota may be the first abortion-free state in the US.

I think the introduction of this bill is brilliant, and am now wondering how we can get a similar campaign going north of the 49th parallel. When it comes to pro-life efforts, we Canadians really do have to look to our American neighbour to see how to do things. They have the numbers, they have the enthusiasm, and they have the freedom of speech to push forward what is needed to bring pro-life issues to the forefront where the public will see and hear them.

Just yesterday, our Priest for Life here in Nova Scotia, Father Joe Hattie told me that three judges in Ontario issued a statement that doctors do not need to be concerned with the fetus as their patient; they are to treat the pregnant woman as one patient only. I am livid that we are made to abide by statements issued by men whom I never elected and would never have approved of. These judges need to realise that they do not speak for most Canadians; they are individuals with an agenda that is not shared by the majority of the population. For whom are they speaking? This is a crucial question because it is the groups that manipulate these judges who are deciding the ethical climate of our country.

I think we can learn from the success of the pro-life movement, 40 Days for Life. This campaign has tremendous impact because it comes from the grassroots level. It is not an initiative that is brought down as a program from an organization; it is a movement that comes right from the heart of the ordinary person. Changing the structure of our country's laws is going to have to be done the same way: from the grassroots, by getting a wide consensus of people across the country to affirm the rights of the unborn. And then we show our elected representatives just what they refuse to see: that the majority of Canadians believe the unborn to be persons with rights. This will be the beginning of the end of abortion. Let us rise to the challenge.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Catholic and Pro-Abortion - not in the same sentence

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, has been in the news quite a bit lately. She has been reprimanded by several Catholic bishops who openly stated that you cannot be a Catholic in good standing, while espousing abortion. Nancy Pelosi has done just that, even making the statement that she has studied church teachings in depth and even St. Augustine did not know when the soul entered the fetus.

I was very happy to read that Pope Benedict took the opportunity to speak to Nancy in private during her recent visit to the Vatican. The Catholic News Agency wrote Pope Benedict strongly rebukes Pelosi over abortion and the statement of the Holy See was:

...the Pope spent the whole 15 minute conversation talking with Pelosi about the right to life and the need to defend the unborn.

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, commented that the Pope should be discussing much bigger issues with Pelosi, such as "the fate of the poor in the global economic downturn."

"That would be a real conversation about choice, instead of this micro-obsession with abortion," O’Brien said.

Micro-obsession? micro-obsession? when over 3000 unborn are aborted each day in the US alone, over 100,000 aborted daily worldwide? this is a micro-obsession?
One more indication that people really do not understand the extent of abortion, they simply do not grasp that every single society in the world is being undermined by this killing of the defenceless.

Catholics for Choice is an oxymoron. One cannot be Catholic and pro-choice, the two are mutually contradictory. Those who claim that they can be both don't just "get" the reality of abortion, they also don't "get" that they have been excommunicated from that very Church by their anti-life position.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kids Gone Wild - Who's to Blame?

It has been obvious to me that any talk about abortion really begins with the subject of chastity, or the lack of it rather. Here, in Canada, sex education in the schools has been infiltrated by a program of assuming that kids are going to be sexually active, so therefore they should be instructed in how to engage in sex safely in order to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Every year, the nurse from Planned Parenthood arrives to give a talk, as one teen said: "I have heard her talk three years now, the first year it was called Safe Sex, then the second year it was called Safer Sex, and the third year More Safer Sex."

What kind of message does this give to our kids? certainly not one that is helping them in the long run. Melanie Phillips, a journalist in England, says it so much better than I could, so I will simply direct you to her post of February 16, 2009.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pastor Could Face Jail

Pastor Walter Hoye in Oakland, California was carrying a sign outside an abortion clinic. The sign said "Jesus Loves You & Your Baby, can we help you?" He has been charged with harrassment, because he was within the 100 foot bubble zone around the entrance to the abortion clinic. Note that it is the clinic workers who have laid the charge, not any client. It is obvious who feels harrassed by the pastor.

Star Parker has written about this in her column on Town Hall. It is worth noting that Star herself is an African American and she has written before about how abortion in the US targets the black population specifically by locating their clinics in poorer neighbourhoods where the women are feeling more desperate when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

I particularly liked her analysis of where we are failing our youth:

In these failing public schools, it is prohibited to teach the most important thing that these children could possibly hear. That there are absolutes in this world -- that there is right and there is wrong.

As religion and tradition have been purged from public life in America, the most immediate victims have been the weakest and most vulnerable. - Star Parker, Root of Nation's Economic Crisis is Moral Crisis, Feb 16, 2009

Pastor Hoye is awaiting sentencing which could result in 2 years in jail and fines of up to $4000. Remind you of anyone else we know? yup... Linda Gibbons in jail in Toronto for the same "crime".

I wonder what implications this might have for 40 Days for Life that is due to start on February 25?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Watch this video

No words for this post, just a link.
I highly recommend that you watch this hour long special that was pulled from American television. And send it to anyone you can think of.

Speechless - Silencing Christians

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stephanie Gray Speaks Out

Stephanie Gray is the co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, of which Jojo Ruba is the other half.

On February 4, Barbara Kay wrote an article called Women Deserve Better than Abortion with which I disagreed. Over the weekend, I had an email to-and-fro with Barbara Kay about this article.

I was very glad to see that the Post has printed today, Stephanie Gray's response to Barbara's article. Who better to answer the criticisms than the woman who formulates the philosophy of CCBR (Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform)?

I commend the National Post for publishing Stephanie's rebuttal to Barbara's initial article. This shows an open-mindedness that we crave and need in this country. Barbara herself is a voice of calm rationale, but more than that she is a journalist with a heart for human concerns. And I will continue to look forward to her posts.

As for Stephanie, she is the clearest pro-life voice in Canada; her precise thinking and rational exposition of the pro life argument cannot be bettered, in my opinion.
It is to Stephanie that I owe a huge debt of gratitude. I heard her speak two years ago (at the tender age of 26 - her, not me) at Blessed Mother Teresa Church here in Halifax, and that talk was the catalyst that moved me from being pro-life in belief only to pro-life in action. Thank you, Stephanie.

SMU Talk Follow Up

The editorial in the Chronicle Herald of February 10 is indeed promising.

Among the many comments on this that I have read, one comment keeps popping up. If Mr. Ruba compares abortion to the holocaust, it is assumed that he is comparing women who have abortions to Nazis. I fail to see that that follows; only people who did not hear his talk make that conclusion. The comparison of abortion to the Holocaust is made on the basis of several points:
1. numbers - the aborted unborn number in the millions, which is definitely similar
2. the Jews were not considered persons in Nazi Germany; the unborn are not considered persons in Canadian law and therefore have no rights
3. what Hitler did to the Jews was perfectly legal; what is done to the unborn in our country is also legal
4. medical experimentation was carried out on the Jews; this is also done with the unborn, and their body parts are used for vaccines, research, and even for makeup products
5. the mass killing of Jews was carried out in centres designated for that; the unborn are killed in hospitals and clinics all across our country by designated personnel
6. the Jews who were killed were not buried as befitting human beings; the unborn are disposed of as trash

Nowhere is there any mention that the women who have abortions are like the Nazis. In fact, CCBR maintain that the women are the second victims of abortion; at no time did Mr. Ruba ever compare anyone to the Nazis. It is the treatment of the persons killed that is being compared.

I am waiting to hear if Jojo Ruba's talk at St. Francis Xavier University was met with similar protests. And, if so, how did that University handle the situation? More later.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pro Life Meets Opposition in Halifax

Update: I just read that the women's centre at St. Mary's University is thinking of lodging a complaint against Father Dan Kelly, the chaplain, for inviting this speaker to the university. They claim that the topic is anti-choice. I guess it is time for Ezra Levant once again, do we only have one man in Canada to fight for the rights of all of us?
Read the article here:

The video clip above shows a talk given at St. Mary's University in Halifax last Thursday evening. Jojo Ruba from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform was scheduled to give a talk on Abortion, Echoes of the Holocaust. Within five minutes of commencing, the talk was disrupted by a group of about 8 pro choice protestors.
Most were students but not all, one we call "big red" (he's tall and has red hair) and he shows up at all sorts of demonstrations around town, from pro life marches to widening of city streets to demonstrations about poverty.

The pro choice protestors kept up their chants for about three-quarters of an hour, during which time, Jojo tried to get them to listen to him. He managed to say a few times, please let me make my presentation and then you can ask questions. He even thanked them for expressing their opinion. To the racist comment, he replied "last time I checked I wasn't a white male." Nothing worked, and finally St. Mary's security called the Halifax police. Several officers arrived and told the protestors to be quiet or they would be removed and charged.

Jojo resumed his presentation. At this point, the room was finally quiet. He began to show the video of abortion, which is about 4 minutes long, there is no talking in it, just photos of the body parts of aborted fetuses, most aborted in the first trimester. The clip ends with one 24-week-old baby that is being wrapped up in a white sheet. During the video, I watched the pro choice protestors, instead of the video since I had seen it several times before. At the end of the video, one girl who had been most vocal in shouting was holding her friend in her arms and both girls were sobbing. You could see one girl was shaking with sobs and the other had tears streaming down her face.

Jojo began to read the testimony of Dr. Tony Levantino, a former abortionist, that stated the images were not doctored and that they were accurately labeled for the age of gestation. It was then that an administrator of the university arrived and informed the chaplain, who then whispered to Jojo, that she had decided to shut down the presentation. We later learned that she did not want any students arrested (one girl had been threatened that she would be arrested if she would not be quiet and she was subsequently removed by the police).

We took everything over to Canadian Martyrs' Church, which is right next door, and Jojo gave the rest of his presentation. About half a dozen pro choice people came along and they listened quietly to the presentation, and asked good questions at the end. Jojo thanked them for attending and for their polite behaviour. I saw him in earnest conversation with one of them as I left the church.

What can be deduced from this? Some pro choice supporters cannot bear to hear any pro life presentations. Some of the same group disrupted our silent and prayerful candlelight vigil last spring. They hide behind the slogans of "my body, my choice", "prolife men go away, when you get pregnant, you can stay", "not the church, not the state, we will not be terrorized". But show real photos of what an abortion really is, and you have one-quarter of them dissolving in tears.

Abortion stops a beating heart, and breaks another.

Further update: This morning, 96.5 Talk Radio had Ellen Chesal on the phone, Ellen is the director of Campaign Life Coalition here in Halifax and Rick Howe was asking her about the presentation at SMU. Rick agreed with Ellen that this is an issue about freedom of speech and he thought that the talk should have proceeded and that the university was wrong to shut it down.
I called in to make the comment that one objection to the presentation was the use of graphic visuals, and the playing of a video that shows the aftermath of abortion. I related how this brought two pro choicers to tears, and Rick said "so those graphics do have an effect on some people". I replied that abortion is an abstraction to most people, but the video shows arms, and legs and heads......then the phone line went dead, as we were disconnected.
I am more convinced than ever that the Center for Bioethical Reform is absolutely right when they say that people need to see abortion. In this country, you can't even describe it, they cut you off. The caller before me had just described the seal hunt in Newfoundland - isn't that a propos?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Declaring Someone Dead

Terry Schiavo, dehydrated to death in March 2005

Usually I concern myself with articles about abortion, as that is my main interest. But euthanasia follows right upon the heels of abortion and we are going to be facing a major show-down in our society on this issue very shortly. Just as the pro abortion movement took the words "rights" and "choice" and used them for their own purposes, the pro-euthanasia group will take the words "death with dignity" and "compassionate care" and twist them for their purposes.

Dying with dignity will override living out one's life to its natural end; compassionate care used to mean what is carried on in palliative care wards, it will come to mean assisted suicide; the right to die will become the duty to die, as the population becomes increasingly older and we older people are seen as a burden to the young. After all, we are using up a disproportionate amount of their tax dollars in our health care, we are no longer contributing to the economy of the country because we are not working, we will only be seen as a burden to take care of. Whereas previously the aged were treated with respect and consulted for their wisdom on life, they (or we) will be in the way; our knowledge will be considered irrelevant and we will be considered out of touch with a society that is progressing so quickly along scientific and technological avenues, but is becoming increasing dehumanized.

Yesterday, I read the following email from Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life in the US:

I had the privilege of blessing the grave of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, who was murdered on March 31, 2005 by dehydration. Her grave is not far from the place where she died, and where people from around the world had gathered to protest and pray. Those who visit the gravestone, however, will notice something highly unusual. While on most graves there is an inscription of two dates – when the person was born and when he or she died – on Terri’s there are three.

Here’s exactly what the grave says:

Born December 3, 1963

Departed this Earth February 25, 1990

At Peace March 31, 2005

The whole world knows that she died on March 31, 2005. National and global media were present at the scene for days, covering every detail. Media were present again when I preached at her funeral mass. We know when she died. But her gravestone has become a pulpit for the euthanasia movement. Those who killed her are now using her grave as a platform for their twisted ideology. What they are trying to say is that once her brain was injured in 1990 and she was no longer functioning like most of us, she wasn’t one of us anymore. She “departed this earth.”

This is actually a variation on an ancient heresy, which says that we are really spirits inhabiting a body. Terri couldn’t communicate normally. So, her “spirit” must have left her. The body was just a shell left behind. Those who believe she really “departed this earth” in 1990 can therefore pretend it was OK to kill her in 2005. After all, it wasn’t really her. She was already gone. This is heresy, because Christianity teaches that we are a unity of body and soul, not simply a soul “using” a body. The body matters. What we do to the body, we do to the person.

Moreover, the gravestone inscription is a deep insult to all who are disabled, and to all those who love and care for them. Should they be considered already dead, too? Are we just wasting our time caring for them? Euthanasia advocates would have us think so. A recent news story about a disabled unborn child quoted one as saying, “There’s no human life there.” Isn’t that the same idea? They think the baby has already “departed this earth,” so they don’t hesitate to abort the body.

As I blessed Terri’s grave, I also prayed that God’s people would be kept safe from this falsehood. And I recalled being in Terri’s room the day she died. I remembered
her face, dehydrated from not having had a drop of water in two weeks. I recalled seeing the flowers, inches away, on her night table. They were immersed in water. And as I left the grave, I gave a final glance to the vase of flowers that was standing by the stone. - Father Frank Pavone, February 2, 2009

Today, I read that Eluana Englaro in Italy will be taken to a hospital that will undertake to dehydrate her to death. This case has been before the public for a while now, as Eluana's father wishes to end her life. She has been in a state of diminished consciousness since 1992 when she was left brain damaged after a car accident. Her father has been petitioning the courts for a decade to euthanize his daughter.

Medical authorities readily acknowledge that death by dehydration is extremely painful and horrible.
In cases of severe dehydration, toxins build up in the body and the body's chemical balances are disrupted. This disrupts the electrical system that triggers the action of muscles, including the heart. The tongue and lips crack and bleed. The eyes recede into their orbits. The skin becomes so sensitive it peels off upon firm contact. The lining of the nose can crack and bleed. Dried brain cells can cause convulsions. The mouth becomes dry and saliva thick, and there is cracking of the mucous membranes of the mouth and lips. The blood thickens, increasing the risk of stroke. As fluid decreases in the body, blood pressure drops and the heart rate increases, possibly causing shock and heart attack. - LifeSiteNews, February 3, 2009
More than 700 Italian doctors have opposed such an action; the Church in Italy has spoken out loud and clear that this is murder. Eluana has become the center of the collision between the culture of life and the culture of death.

Of course, everyone of us agrees that her life is a tragedy; I doubt that anyone would wish for her to continue on indefinitely in this state; but the danger is that we are letting our emotions dictate to us that we should have the last word on life and death. Once we do that, we open the door to euthanizing many more people in similar states; the critically ill will be at great risk as the value of their lives will become subjects of debate; once we decide that we as human beings can decide who has the right to live or die, we usurp the role of God. One seemingly humane act, letting Eluana die, opens up the gates to a flood of such actions.

I am reminded of John Paul II who let the world see how he died. This was a man who suffered for years with Parkinson's disease, yet he continued to make public appearances at which we, the world, could see a physically disabled man continue his work on earth. He gave incredible value to death by the way he let his death overcome him, with grace and with dignity.

Eluana is not suffering as far as we know, and a convent of sisters actually said a few months ago, that they would continue to care for her until her natural death. Their offer was refused. Instead, she will be dehydrated, a process that takes about two weeks, and she will have to go through a painful process and she will die a humiliating death.

When we encounter suffering such as this, we should be looking for ways to help the person who is suffering. In the case of Eluana, I can't help but think that it is her father's suffering that we wish to relieve, not his daughter's. The fact is that none of us like to face death and we try to get it out of our experience as quickly as possible. If we take life and death into our own hands, no one will ever be safe again. Such decisions should only be left in the hands of God.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Justice in Canada?

Anyone pro life in Canada is probably familiar with the name Linda Gibbons. Linda is the "diminutive grandmother", as described by LifeSiteNews who has spent more than five of the last 14 years in jail for peaceful protest outside the Scott abortion clinic in downtown Toronto.

A short history might be in order. In 1991, the Ontario government headed by Bob Rae (NDP at the time) formed a Task Group on Access to Abortion; their purpose - to address the problem of "access to abortion" in Ontario. The task force recommended that the government prohibit pro-life demonstrations; one way of doing that was to obtain an injunction that forbade pro life activity within a certain radius of abortion clinics.

In 1994 Justice George Adams "banned all pro-life activity within 500 ft. of abortionists' homes, within 25 ft. of abortionists' offices, within 60 ft. of two clinics, and within 30 ft. of a third clinic" (courtesy LifeSiteNews). This ruling has never been successfully challenged in court and Linda Gibbons has been arrested numerous times for peacefully walking up and down outside one clinic, and giving pro life literature to women who enter the clinic. She is charged with obstructing a police officer (something she has never done, as she has never resisted arrest, or done anything to obstruct an officer). The court does not want to charge her with anything else such as disobeying a court order or being in contempt of court, because then she would be entitled to a trial with a jury and the legality of the "temporary injunction" would be challenged.

Meanwhile, Linda has spent more than 5 years in jail. Apart from a few years that she took off to look after her ailing parents, she has been peacefully showing up at the Scott abortion clinic at 157 Gerrard Street East in downtown Toronto. She never says anything, but carries a sign that says "why mom, when I have so much love to give?" and she passes out pro life pamphlets to women coming to the clinic. Literature that might just give them an opportunity to have second thoughts of what they are about to do.

Now, picture another Canadian involved in the same issue: Henry Morgentaler (I refuse to call him Doctor since he deals death, not life), given the Order of Canada on July 1, 2008, "for his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations." (Globe & Mail) It doesn't seem to matter that he has personally killed thousands of unborn babies, both legally and illegally; it doesn't seem to matter that this man broke the law many times by performing illegal abortions; it only seems to matter that he has a huge body of support from Canadian pro-aborts. And they have made jelly of the politicians.

What kind of country imprisons a quiet woman who simply exercises her freedom of speech while a man who perpetrates violence against both women and children not only goes free, but is awarded the highest civilian honour for it?

As occasional Herald contributor Andrea Mrozek puts it, for all the pro-choice fear mongering about pro-lifers wanting to send women to jail, there's only one woman in jail in this country on this issue -- and it's because she's pro-life. Well, for now she's out. I don't know her, but I think I like Linda Gibbons. Talk about sticking to your guns: 14 years, no less. No Order of Canada for her, of course. They're just for people who swim in the right direction. But, whether as a pro-lifer, or a free-speecher, she deserves one. - Nigel Hannaford, "A pro-life free-speech heroine walks free." Calgary Herald, (Canada) October 4, 2008.

In December, LifeSiteNews posted a short article that gave the contact information for Linda who is currently being held in the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario. They encouraged people to contact Linda with letters and cards, especially since she would be spending Christmas in jail. I decided to write a short letter to her, and imagine my surprise when I got an immediate response, written in pencil (no pens allowed in jail). We have since struck up a correspondence and I look forward to getting her letters. I am saving them as I think they will be seen one day as the witness of one woman who dared to speak up for those who have no voice.

What strikes me most about Linda's letters is the faith; this is a woman who is always proclaiming Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in jail. And Linda is no spring chicken; she is my age, actually a few years older, and the discomfort of a jail cell must be particularly hard on a woman who is not young. Not to mention the lack of privacy. But no complaints from this tough lady. Instead, she writes of the happy party she and some inmates had on New Year's Eve, when they made confetti by cutting up magazines. And the most touching information, that three babies have been saved from abortion and six women have become Christians during her time there. No doubt her incarceration is serving a greater purpose than most of us know.

I imagine some would question why she does this? why would someone break the law in order to protest abortion? why not protest, but keep within the law?
Well, who would know about this "bubble zone" at the Scott clinic if not for Linda Gibbon's violating it? Who would even hear about abortion, unless the news of her being arrested made the headlines? Who would bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to women in jail, who might never meet a real Christian if not for Linda? And who else would have saved the little three-year-old girl that Michael Coren met outside the clinic, whose mother had brought her to show Linda the results of her vigil?

I keep thinking of Jesus' reply to those in the synagogue who were waiting to see if he would heal a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?"

We could ask the same of Canadian law: "Which is lawful: to peacefully protest abortion on the steps of an abortion clinic or to abort 100,000 babies per year?" Henry Morgentaler himself will have to answer for all those babies, since it was primarily his effort that legalised their killing; as for Linda Gibbons - I think we will hear the words "well done, good and faithful servant."