Monday, March 31, 2014

Krauthammer on Zygotes

You were once a single cell. Every one of the 100 trillion cells in your body today is a direct descendant of that zygote, the primordial cell formed by the union of mother's egg and father's sperm. Each one is genetically identical (allowing for copying errors and environmental damage along the way) to that cell. Therefore, if we scraped a cell from, say, the inner lining of your cheek, its DNA would be the same DNA that, years ago in the original zygote, contained the entire plan for creating you and every part of you.

Here is the mystery: Why can the zygote, as it multiplies, produce every different kind of cell in the body- kidney, liver, brain, skin- while the skin cell is destined, however many times it multiplies, to remain skin forever? As the embryo matures, cells become specialized and lose their flexibility and plasticity. Once an adult cell has specialized- differentiated, in scientific lingo- it is stuck forever in that specialty. Skin is skin; kidney is kidney.
- Charles Krauthammer, in Essay: On the Ethics of Embryonic Research, from his book Things That Matter

Many times I have heard pro-choice supporters say that the pro-life side is lying when it says that human life begins at conception. Here, in the words of a medical doctor/psychiatrist is the scientific truth. Why do they persist in denying it?

As for those crazed pro-choicers who state that every sperm is a life and what happens to those millions of sperm that are wasted, what possible answer can you give? They are worse than ignorant; they haven't even begun to think about these questions, yet they are quick to spout their arguments for abortion.

The same goes for those who say that a woman aborts an egg every month. What planet are they living on? Perhaps they need to spend a week on a chicken farm and see that chickens lay eggs every day, but those eggs are not fertilized and do not become chickens, they cannot become chickens. That would take the visit of a rooster to make that change occur.

The biological knowledge of pro-choicers is juvenile in so many cases. I would challenge them to really do some reading and find out about the real facts of the birds and the bees. They might just be surprised by the science.

People who scratch the surface of science tend to be atheists; those who plumb its depths tend to become believers. Knowledge brings humility.


Friday, March 28, 2014

In jail for pro-life work - this is Canada!

What struck me most about this story was that this was only the second time that Mary has attended Mass since she was incarcerated. Here, in Canada, this is what you get for daring to go too close to an abortion clinic and to try to convince women not to have their abortions.

Human Life International Newsletter by Father Peter West

Throughout my journey with the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa across North America in defense of life, I've been to many wonderful places surrounded by amazing people. One place I wasn't planning to end up when we started this historic trip was in prison.

On Monday of this week, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage made a special stop at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario, Canada. The main purpose of the visit was to bring the Black Madonna icon of Our Blessed Mother to Mary Wagner, a young woman who is in jail for her pro-life activism. Mary engages in peaceful and non-violent civil disobedience by offering her gentle and loving support to women at abortion facilities in order to persuade them to choose life. She was arrested in 2012 after she entered the waiting room of an abortion facility in Toronto and offered help to any woman who would choose life for their babies.

The charges against Mary: "Mischief: interference with lawful enjoyment/operation of a business," and the breach of a probation order that prohibits her from being within 200 meters from any abortion facility in Ontario. Since beginning her campaign of civil disobedience, Mary has been arrested six times, and has spent over three years in prison.

I offered Mass at the prison for about 25 inmates, guards, nurses, administrators and visitors, concelebrating with Father Allan Varlaki from nearby Holy Rosary Parish. This was only the second Mass Mary was able to attend since her arrest on August 12, 2012. Everyone seemed to be moved by the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and they were grateful that the Black Madonna, after visiting so many nations (26 now), would come to them. (This was not the first prison that the pilgrim icon has visited. Our Lady also visited another prison for women in Madrid, Spain.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Respect for life - not so much

Wesley Smith ties things together nicely in his article The Next Logical Step.

As he says, we should not be surprised when aborted fetuses are burned in UK hospitals for fuel. Just as the media turned a blind eye to the Kermit Gosnell trial and also to the details of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's life, this is a non-story.
 To put it bluntly, legalizing abortion at will transformed fetuses in the minds of at least half the population into a killable caste—akin to a tumor or a vial of tainted blood—that can be destroyed at will (except in the latest stage of pregnancy, and in the USA, often even then).
 Such thinking can have terrible consequences. History shows that once we redefine any category of human beings into something less, their health, wellbeing, and even their very lives often become jeopardized.  

 We see the same pattern developing at the other end of life. The terminally ill, seriously disabled, and mentally distraught are being transformed before our very eyes into another killable caste.

For example, the late Jack Kevorkian received very friendly media coverage during his assisted suicide/euthanasia rampage, which saw at least 130 lives ended. Like Gosnell, Kevorkian was a veritable ghoul who told the world in his book, Prescription Medicide, that his goal in assisting suicides was not so much alleviating suffering, but rather, using his campaign as a means to be able to experiment on the bodies of people being euthanized—a process he proposed calling "obitiatry."

But you wouldn't know that relying on mainstream media reports. Kevorkian's obitiatry obsession was rarely, if ever, mentioned. Similarly, when he ripped out the kidneys of one of his assisted suicide victims—Joseph Tushkowski, an ex-policeman paralyzed by a gunshot wound—and called a press conference offering the organs for transplant, "first come, first served." But by then, the media was so invested in Kevorkian as a compassionate social rebel that
the story made little splash and was soon forgotten.

Why would Kevorkian think it okay to help kill a disabled man and then take his organs? He was seriously disabled and wanted to die, which for Kevorkian, made him part of a killable caste. At that point, why not get some utilitarian use out of the man's remains?


But we should never again be surprised. As we have seen historically—slavery, the Holocaust--once we create killable castes of people, making utilitarian use of them becomes an easy, and indeed, logical, next step. Those with eyes to see, let them see.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cardinal Raymond Burke on Obama

In a recent interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, by Izabella Parowicz was conducted in English January 7, 2014 and originally published in Polish by Polonia Christiana magazine ( 

On contraception (italics mine):
In the end, what is essential is to understand that marital love is a sacramental participation in divine love which is pure and selfless, that is, totally generous. Parents, then, while they will take care to provide for what is essential for the correct upbringing of their children, will be generous in accepting every gift of new human life from God, recognizing in the act of procreation a cooperation in the mystery of God’s love which is particularly theirs. In that way, they will teach their children to love in the same way, to accept the sacrifice of material goods for the sake of loving God and neighbor. The contraceptive mentality, which radically distorts the beauty of marriage and family, teaches us to seek material goods above all else and, therefore, to become selfish. It is no wonder that the contraceptive mentality leads individuals to justify in their minds procured abortion, an intrinsically evil act.

On President Barack Obama:
It is true that the policies of the President of the United States of America have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies. Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions. Such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.
Lots more in the article above. Well worth reading. Cardinal Raymond Burke has one of the clearest minds and bravest voices in the present Catholic hierarchy of cardinals.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Doctor-Assisted Suicide Panel

I attended the panel on doctor-assisted suicide last evening. The panelists included Wanda Morris, an activist in this issue and director of Dying with Dignity, a woman with cerebral palsy who was against assisted suicide, a woman who represented the Shambala Buddhist community of Halifax, Larry Worthen a Catholic deacon and lawyer who is the executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, and Jocelyn Downie a lawyer and professor at Dalhousie University who has a case all ready for the Supreme Court of Canada to argue for assisted suicide. I have heard that she is waiting for the perfect client, supposedly a woman with ALS. Sorry, there was no listing of the names of the panelists so I can only trust my memory for those I recall.

Needless to say, Wanda Morris and Jocelyn Downie were very articulate in putting forth their arguments for legalizing assisted suicide. The woman with CP and Larry Worthen called on faith arguments to support their position of not legalizing assisted suicide. The surprise panelist for me was the Buddhist who actually appeared the most compassionate of all the panelists. If you could take her words of "transformation" and "karma" and give them the Christian equivalent language, she was arguing in a very similar way to the Christians on the panel. For her, suffering had meaning because it brought transformation in the individual and no one should interfere with the course of another's life because it all has a meaning for the future. And the doctor who participates in assisting someone to die will find his own "karma" damaged by the interference. Put those words into Christian language, and we find common ground with the Buddhists on this issue.

The impression that I was left with was that the issue is divided sharply along the lines of whether one has a belief in the after-life or not. For those who don't, this life is the only thing that is of importance and personal autonomy reigns supreme. There is no sense of any suffering being endured for a higher purpose; suffering is to be eliminated as quickly and easily as possible, because it is purely negative and has no beneficial effect upon one's life.

Even though I am on the faith-based side in this issue, I do think that faith-based arguments should not be used in public forums such as this. One can attest to the fact that one's faith is the basis for a position, but that is never going to convince anyone who does not share that faith. What is needed is a good argument based on natural law. I am sure that there must be one and, from my own scant reading on this topic, I would recommend Wesley Smith an ethicist who writes about euthanasia and assisted suicide prolifically. Surely an argument that assisted suicide puts doctors into the conflicted position of being both healer and the dealer of death is one such argument. I heard no mention of this on Friday night. It seems to me that this is a crucial element of this debate.

What disturbed me was the way that Jocelyn Downie can work a crowd with her words. Every speaker received applause after they spoke, but there was no question that Downie got more applause than the others. She even cracked a joke about "this being the gospel truth" and then she looked up at the ceiling and that brought laughter since the panel was being held in a church. Subtle mockery, but mockery all the same. Her barb was not lost on the audience.

I have heard Downie speak before and recognize that she is extremely articulate, well prepared, and as committed to her viewpoint as is an ardent Christian. It struck me that this is the kind of person who moves legislation in our country, she can convince a crowd of the "rightness" of her position, and she is calmly ready to face down any opposite point of view.

It is troubling. I am sure that this issue will go the same way as abortion. Those who want doctor-assisted suicide will convince the majority of Canadians (or least the legislators who will pass the law) that this is a necessary choice for people who cannot bear their suffering. It will be seen as a choice in health care that it is only right to have available for those who want it. People who think like this cannot see that their obtaining such legislation actually shows how intolerant they are to those who see this as harmful in many ways.

Larry Worthen, in speaking of Bill 52 in Quebec, said that this bill is not about adding a choice to health care; it is actually a turning of health care on its head. The bill, once passed, would not allow any hospital to refuse to offer assisted suicide to its patients, thus pushing medical personnel into the  corner just as they are being pushed in our neighbour to the south.

The subject of "safeguards" was raised and assurances given that, if assisted suicide was legalized, there would be safeguards to ensure that the law was not abused. The disabled woman with CP stated that, in the Netherlands, such safeguards can't be trusted to the point that seniors now carry cards with them that say "do not euthanize me" should they be taken to hospital. Upon reflection later that evening, it struck me that people who push for progressive changes to laws such as this one are idealists without a real sense of reality. They seem to believe that all people are on the same moral high ground that they think they are on, and they discount the reality that people simply do not behave as you hope they will do. Who is going to determine what safeguards there should be and, more importantly, who is going to determine who has the right to determine such safeguards? Like so many liberal thinkers, they are caught in a web of ideology without the acknowledgement that people are weak and don't do what is right. Unfortunately, such ideologues are persuasive and can convince people that all will be well, because people are basically good. Truth is they are not, we are not. 

I don't see that this can end well. Just as with abortion, the mindset that sees death as a solution to problems will prevail here and we will get doctor-assisted suicide within the next decade. What we need now is a strong lobby of the doctors to stand their ground and refuse to comply with what is required of them. The time is coming when Christians are going to have to go public with their faith and take the consequences. This is a society that is no longer tolerant of Christian values; the only course of action will be resistance.

The woman who attended with me said afterwards "why was there not a doctor or nurse on the panel?"  Indeed, why not?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Baby Luc Pro_Life Billboard in Halifax

Once again, baby Luc graces the Halifax skyline!

And what incredible timing!  Today a reporter from CTV news called, requesting an interview to get our reaction to the pro-choice ads that are going into the buses next week. So I thought I should check on when the billboard would be up, as it is scheduled for next week.

To my great surprise, I was told the sign was already up, a week early. Now if that isn't perfect timing, I don't know how it could be better. 

We can expect strong reaction, I am sure. But the beautiful photo of a newborn baby is just the response to give to people who advocate for abortion. The one thing their arguments can never counter is the baby that is always there, the baby whose life is sacrificed for convenience or finances or whatever. Every abortion deprives a human being of his or her right to life. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Becoming a mom

I was never the girl who yearned for children. I pretended to be interested in other people’s kids, but that was obviously just an act.

The truth was, children scared me. I knew that no matter what I did as a parent, I was bound to do some things wrong….

I wasn’t completely connected [during pregnancy]. I didn’t know how I could love something more than my dogs….

I worried that I hadn’t done enough with my life, that I wasn’t equipped to be the kind of mother he needed….

A nurse walked back over and placed my newborn son on my chest…. I cradled him in my arms the way I’d seen people hold babies in movies and tried to console him.

I was instantly and completely transformed. In that moment I knew I’d never be the person I was before, because now, I didn’t seem to matter that much. I was no longer concerned with accumulating the most Twitter followers or scoring the best parking spot at Whole Foods.

I wasn’t ready for kids. I was just ready for him.

~ Actress Jenny Mollen (pictured with husband Jason Biggs and son Sid), whose serious doubts about becoming a mother were immediately changed after giving birth, in an essay for Cosmopolitan via People, March 13


Friday, March 14, 2014

Doctor-Assisted Suicide Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: Is Doctor-Assisted Suicide a Right?

Friday, March 21 @ 7 pm

St. Andrew's United Church, 6036 Coburg Road, Halifax NS

Values and Vision: Is Doctor Assisted Suicide a Right? – A public forum on end of life issues, co-sponsored by the Halifax Shambhala Centre, The Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, St. John’s United Church and St. Andrew’s United Church, will be held at St. Andrew’s United Church (Corner of Robie St. and Coburg Rd.) on Friday March 21st at 7pm.  Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada will be joined by academics, advocates and religious leaders (representing a variety of points of view) for a panel discussion. We invite your input: potential questions for the panelists can be emailed in advance to

Please attend this.  Deacon Larry Worthen will be on the panel. Larry was recently made the executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society and he gave a talk at St. Benedict's Church on the conscience rights of doctors. Come out and support him, as the panel is heavily weighted in favour of those who are pushing for legalizing doctor-assisted suicide.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pope Francis and Evangelicals

Amazing video. I can't help but think that Bishop Tony Palmer looks so like Father Roberto Donato of the Franciscans here in Halifax. So this South African actually looks Italian?

This video brought tears to my eyes. I have a number of very good friends who are evangelical Protestants and I have found fellowship with them that I have not often found amongst my fellow Catholics. I am so happy to know that Pope Francis regards them with such affection and that God is bringing unity among believing Christians.

For the first millennium, there was one church. Then the division came between east and west, and the Orthodox Church began. Then five hundred years later, Luther protested and three churches existed. And since Luther, no less than thirty-three thousand denominations. As Palmer says "Diversity is divine, it is division that is diabolical".  

Monday, March 10, 2014

The man who discovered Trisomy 21 was vehemently anti-abortion

The man who discovered Trisomy 21, the cause for Down Syndrome, warned that this discovery would lead to loss of life, rather than to good medical research. In the years following his discovery, he alienated himself from the scientific community because he believed that science should serve the patient, not eliminate the disease at all costs.

While I had plenty of personal encounters with people with Down Syndrome, I was less familiar with the research side of the diagnosis. I was introduced to the story of Jerome Lejeune by Dr. Ombretta Salvucci, a staff scientist who works in cancer research. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that his legacy is not forgotten.  Salvucci quoted Lejeune saying, “Deep science leads one to discover God, while ‘business science’ leads one far from God.” It was strictly through science, Salvucci explained, that Lejeune came to oppose abortion. He would often say that should the Catholic Church become pro-abortion, he would no longer be Catholic, that his scientific convictions were more deeply-entrenched than his religious convictions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Days for Life Begins

Listen to Robert Colquhoun of London, England announcing the closure of an abortion centre in Bedford Square, London England. Robert is the international director of 40 Days for Life.

I spoke with Robert in December when I visited London for my niece's wedding. What an impressive young man. His life seems to parallel that of Shawn Carney. Both began in full-time pro-life work at a very young age; like Shawn, Robert has just got married, and both are confident men who have a vision and are willing to work hard to bring that vision to others.

God bless Robert, God bless England, God bless this Lenten 40 Days for Life in all 253 locations.

The Argument for Bodily Autonomy

I read Matt Walsh's blog yesterday,; he had posted an email from Rachel who accused him of not dealing with the ultimate pro-abortion argument:  bodily autonomy.

From Rachel:
Imagine that you wake up one morning in a hospital bed. In the bed next to you is a famous singer. He is unconscious and all of these tubes are connected from him to you. A doctor comes in and explains that the singer became sick and you are the only person with the right blood type to match his. They need you to remain hooked up to him until he recovers… they tell you it should only take nine months. Until then, he needs to use all of your organs… your kidneys, liver, lungs, everything… just to survive. If you unplug yourself, he will die. So do you think you are obligated to stay plugged in? Does he have a right to live off of you like this? Should you be FORCED to stay connected to him?

Matt gives ten replies to Rachel's argument. And the response is amazing. At last count, 670 comments. I quit trying to read through them all.

This recalls to me the argument that Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform gave to a philosophy professor from Ottawa University when she debated him a few years ago. The professor put forward this scenario, in his case a famous violinist who was plugged into your body and needed you there for nine months. Stephanie's reply was that the case is different with a woman carrying a child.

The uterus serves one purpose: to provide the environment for a growing living human being to reach the point where it can survive outside of its mother's body. Every month, the woman's body goes through a process of preparing the uterine wall to receive a fertilized egg, and every month her body (if she is healthy and in her child-bearing years) releases one egg or more that travels down the fallopian tube. It may or may not be fertilized; if it is, then it travels to the uterus where it implants itself in the wall of that organ and everything kicks into action.

Stephanie's point is that the uterus exists for the life that might possibly live there. It serves no other purpose. It performs no function in the woman's body, other than being used for procreation. Therefore can it not be said that the uterus exists for the child that might live there?  Unlike other organs, it doesn't serve an essential function for the woman, it serves an essential function for someone else.

Matt was close to Stephanie's argument when he wrote:
An unborn child is exactly where he is supposed to be. He couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. This is the fundamental difference between two people hooked up to machines on a hospital bed, and a ‘fetus’ connected to his mother insider her womb. The former represents unnatural and extraordinary measures, while the latter represents something natural and ordinary. The unborn child is where Nature (or God, as I call Him) intends it to be.
 The unborn child is not, in any scientific or medical sense, an intruder or a parasite. These words have meanings, and unborn babies do not fit the bill. They are where they are supposed to be. They are where they belong. A fish belongs in water, just as an unborn child belongs in his mother’s womb.

I think together, Matt and Stephanie give a pretty conclusive rebuttal to Rachel's argument.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The right to refuse service

An excellent article by Matt Barber on the recent Arizona bending over backwards to gay activists.

  • Should a Muslim photographer, commissioned by San Francisco's "Folsom Street Fair," be forced to document that vile event – rife with nudity and public sex – simply because the customers identify as "gay"? 

  •  I've never even heard of a case where a Christian baker randomly refused to provide baked goods – such as a birthday cake – to any homosexual, absent a scenario in which those goods endorsed a message the baker finds repugnant (rainbow "pride" cupcakes, "gay wedding" cakes and the like). I've never heard of a single instance in which a Christian business owner arbitrarily said to a homosexual: "We don't serve your kind here."
     It really is that black and white. This was never about the person. It was always about the message. It was never about "discrimination." It was always about liberty.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."
     Those are wise words from a wise man. For purposes of today's debate, however, those words require a slight contextual modification. No "anti-discrimination" law that presumes to remove the constitutional right of business owners to operate their business according to conscience is worth the paper it's written on.