Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Building a Culture of Life, part two

My hopes for this post are ambitious, to say the least. I'd like to adress the notion that being pro-life means much more than being anti-abortion. Simply outlawing abortion without tackling the underlying attitudes toward life and human sexuality will only result in what pro-choicers always predict: illegal abortions in back alleys with dirty coat hangers. They may rightly point out that we need to address quality-of-life issues, such as education, poverty, etc., but without a change of attitude toward human life, such improvements will only change the scenery of discord. The resentments toward responsibility and sacrifice will persist.

So what do I mean by changing attitudes toward a culture of life? I mean that we must re-orient ourselves, the decisions that we make and the manner in which we conduct our lives so that we may in all things show respect and care for the dignity of all people.

Christopher West and William May have done profound work on explaining John Paul the Great's "Theology of the Body." I will briefly attempt to explain it here. We can see in the very design of the human body, in maleness and femaleness, a revelation of the Divine nature and of God's plan for His Church. Giving and receiving, in a life-giving expression of love, man and woman become one flesh in a lifelong bond. This expression is so strong and sacred that it cannot contain the fullness of love, but overflows into the existence of an entirely new person. The immensity of this plan of God demands our greatest responsibility and commitment. The sacrament of marriage, whereby man and woman become one flesh so as to bring forth a new life to love, is a sign of God's plan for all of humanity. God the Father eternally begets the Son, and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from Them both. The Son, Jesus Christ, embodies, literally, the marriage of God and Man. Christ is the Bridegroom who marries His Church in an eternal covenant, from which springs our eternal life.

Yet tainted by Original Sin, man often times, as today, has distorted, manipulated and perverted this vision of God's plan. We see that marriage bond is treated lightly, if at all. The sexual ethics of our time, enabled by the contraceptive technologies of modernity, divorce the procreative and unitive aspects of the sexual act. Sex becomes entertainment; unity becomes a reason for resentment; procreation becomes a burden. The unity of the spouses separated from the procreation of children leads to an environment in which the sexual act is used and manipulated in countless ways. Exploitation and objectification of partners is a result of this, for the responsibility of love is no longer seen as necessary. Families, actually the very definition of the word "family" is redefined, as is the word "marriage."

To come back to practical terms now, what does this mean for the here and now? It means that we find ourselves in an age in which women become pregnant without the external support of a loving, committed, responsible husband on whom she can rely for help in raising, nurturing, and teaching her child. It is also an age in which men are given the opportunity to treat women as sexual entertainment without ever having to face the responsibility of fatherhood.

So in this context, merely saying that abortion should be outlawed will only serve to place women in a situation where they still feel as if they have no options. Does this mean, then, that the pro-life community should not seek to outlaw abortion? Definitely not. What it means is that alongside these efforts, we also must strive to communicate better what we see as a culture of life, as described above. The pro-choice community does not see, or does not wish to see, that the contraceptive, promiscuous culture needs to change. And pro-lifers need to present this strongly, not as taking away freedoms, but as proposing a much higher good.

Some things we need to propose are as follows. First, every individual is sacred, unique and destined for eternity. We are all loved by God and do not deserve to be used, abused, or manipulated. People are not objects. Secondly, sex is sacred and relates to the most intimate aspects of the human person. It needs to be respected as such and therefore, should be kept to the bounds of a lifelong commitment, namely marriage. Sexual acts in which the unitive and procreative aspects are deliberately separated are immoral. Third, children deserve to be loved and nurtured. They ought to be raised, whenever possible, by their mother and father in a stable home environment. All children should be given the right to live.

Will any of this happen just by me willing it to be so? I wish. This will not happen even if all pro-lifers work together. We need all to work together to promote lifestyles in which the awesome miracle of life is welcomed. We need to promote chastity, not sex education. We need to promote fidelity, not conquest. We need to promote virtue, not stark utilitarian outlook. We need to clearly state right from wrong, not acquiesce to the "dictatorship of relativism."

Up next: genetic testing and other procedures, eugenics, end-of-life issues and justice for all individuals.

Please sign onto this letter to President Obama


Congratulations on your historic inauguration.

We'd like to introduce ourselves. We are pro-life Americans.

You will be hearing from us so we'd like to share our motivations:

Like you, we are motivated by faith; we have faith in God in whose image we are created.

Like you, we are motivated by hope; we encourage the kind of hope that is personified by one person reaching out to another to stand with them in difficult situations like crisis pregnancies, and the experience of suffering from disease.

Like you, we are motivated most of all by love:

We have a deep love for the unique and unrepeatable beauty of every unborn child targeted for abortion, and for that child's mother and father who will be deprived of their child's transforming love.

We have a deep love for the young women in our lives who live in a culture that exploits them as sex objects due to the easy availability of abortion.

We have a deep love for our friends and family who suffer from disease and who deserve medical research and treatment that does not burden their conscience with knowing that human lives were destroyed in the name of science.

On this historic occasion that vindicates the rights of human beings who were once considered as property in American law, we invite you, Mr. President, to lead our nation with policies that respect the dignity and equality of each and every human life.

Sign onto this letter by visiting this site:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Letter to the Editor of The Day, 1-26-09

In response to my letter to the Editor of the Day, which I also posted here, is this letter. She thinks she has struck me down when she ends, "Or should we all have these babies and drop them at the door of the letter writer and those who feel the same way?"

My response is below:

Dear Editor,
The writer of the letter entitled, "Decisions On Abortion Are Not Easy To Make" mistakes me. I never said that abortion is an easy experience. I've heard too many stories from the members of Silent No More (www.silentnomoreawareness.org), men and women who have had an abortion and speak of the trauma they suffered before, during and afterwards. I've also never said that it is an easy decision; I've only said that it is the wrong one.

When the writer says, "Or should we all have these babies and drop them at the door of the letter writer and those who feel the same way?" she makes my point. She assumes that because some women do not want their babies, that no one would want their babies. Many couples who are not able to conceive a child of their own would gladly adopt a baby, but cannot because most unwanted babies in this country are not given up for adoption; they are killed by abortion.

I have a question that no one has ever given me a satisfactory answer to. Why is it morally permissible to kill an infant in the womb but it is not permissible to kill an infant outside the womb? Or a one-year old? Or a ten-year old?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Building a culture of life, part one

Over the next few posts, I'd like to start developing the concept of building a culture of life. I'll start by talking about abortion and its moral impermissibility, using a few different examples to illustrate my points. Then I'd like to discuss how being pro-life means more than being anti-abortion, that negating abortion alone only addresses part of the tangible problems we face, but we need as a culture to be positive and pro-active in our attitudes and actions surrounding the beginning of life. I'd also like to show how this links with genetic testing, eugenics, end-of-life issues and justice for all individuals. Then I intend to discuss the relation of the culture of life to our spiritual responsibility; that our commitment to life bears fruit in and is nourished by our relationship to God as we shift from a means-ends mentality to one of sacrificial love, being obedient and responsive to the will of God in all things.

I recently got into an online discussion with a friend about abortion. Actually, she was praising our new orator-in-chief and I made a comment about his pro-abortion policies. She admitted that his stance on that is unfortunate, but was far from her mind in the reasons she voted for him. I'll come back to that later on, but right now I'd like to take up what she said about abortion. She said that she disagrees with the common practice now that it is used as a means of birth control, but she is "absolutely positive that there are other catholics out there like me who lean mostly pro-life, but there are those "by chance" cases of rape/incest and the mother's health where they believe like i do that it should be available in those cases only."

At first glance, that might sound like an acommodatingly noble stance, but when we look at it deeper, we have to realize that it is not enough. We need to understand why it is that abortion is wrong. Once we see that clearly, we will also see that abortion is, and why it is, wrong in all cases.

From the moment of conception, each person is a unique individual. It is then that a person becomes a person. At that moment, all of the information that his or her body will EVER need to grow into maturity is already encapsulated in every cell. The cells of an embryo divide, multiply and differentiate at a higher rate than will ever occur again in that person's lifetime. Within days, the heart begins to beat, pumping blood (unique from the mother) through the already developing circular system. Limbs develop, eye spots become sensitive to light, ears develop and can hear sounds from within and without the mother. Fingers, toes, reproductive organs, lungs, even hair all form within the first few months of gestation. The baby moves, responds, feels pain and comfort. In short, the baby is alive and growing from day one. Human life does not start at birth; it begins at conception.

Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of a child in the womb. It is not a mistake; it is not accidental. It is a willful action whose purpose is the death of an innocent and defenseless human being. In a word, this is murder.

There are some proponents of abortion who deny the personhood of the baby in the womb. They euphamize their position by using words like "fetus," "blob of tissue," etc. Their stance is not an honest one, nor is it legitimate, as we have seen from studying the development of a baby for even just a few moments, but it is a pervasive idea. Those who gain wealth by killing innocent babies deny the personhood of the baby in order to hurry along a woman's decision to "terminate a pregnancy," like one would throw away an old pair of shoes. Abortionists also find it helpful to deny the baby's personhood in order to bolster their claim of helping women with their health care needs (forgetting, of course, the infant women and men being killed by their trade).

The subtler, and by far more dangerous argument, is the one that pays momentary attention to the personhood of the baby in the womb, but nonetheless concludes that her life is not as important as something else, whether that be a career, security, health or convenience.

No baby in the womb has control over her own life, nor did she have any control over the circumstances of her own conception. Yet abortion is the gravest of injustices, for the baby in the womb is being given a death sentence for crimes she did not commit, unless one considers existence a crime.

In my friend's comment she cited three "exceptions" to a ban on abortion: rape, incest, and the health of the mother, to which I'll add the extreme example of saving the life of the mother.

The rape and incest can both be answered in the same way. Here is a case where a woman becomes pregnant by an action that violated her in which she had no control to resist. Let me say first with as much sensitivity as possible that both rape and incest are terrible crimes against the dignity of women and should never happen. It is not justifiable under any circumstances and perpetrators of these crimes should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The damage that those actions inflict on women are brutal and victims need to be shown love, compassion and care.

However, let us point out the glaring contradiction: perpetrators of rape and incest are not subject to the death penalty, unless accompanied by other crimes. The guilty party is not subject to being killed for his crime, and yet we would advocate that we kill the child? Surely, my friend might say that the reason for allowing abortion in such a case is to spare the victim of rape from having to revisit her awful experience while the baby is in her womb. I will say it again: the baby is alive and growing; she is a unique person destined for eternal life to be loved by God. Why should the baby be punished? This is not a cruel and insensitive thing to say regarding the mother, either. As a victim of a cruel and unjust action, she will not find healing by passing along the injustice. Aborting her baby will not make her forget her experience. But an innocent and loving child may bring her healing, whether she decides to keep the child or to give the baby up for adoption to another couple who cannot conceive. Taking the consequences of something terrible and turning it into a life-giving gift is far more healing than abortion.

What about the health or life of the mother? Health is a broad term, and the use of the word in Roe vs. Wade has become a legal boondoggle, used to skirt restrictions on late-term abortions by claiming that completing a pregnancy would cause duress to a woman. (I still can't figure out why partial-birth and live-birth abortions a la Obama were legal at any time since the babies were out of the mother and no one could claim that the mother was any longer in any danger, if she ever was.)

With induced labor, cesarian section deliveries, prenatal care units and the modern health care technology available, rarely can someone say that a woman's life is in danger and the only way to save her is to kill the child. The only possible exception that I am aware of (and I'll show why this is not an exception) is in the case of an ectopic pregnancy where the fallopian tube is certain to burst, causing internal bleeding and death for the mother. Of the various medical interventions, the only one that is morally permissible is a salpingectomy, whereby that section of the tube is removed. Even though the baby does die, this is not an abortion because: a. The direct action is not the killing of the baby, but the therapeutic removal of the tube which, if ruptured, would cause certain death of the mother b. The intention is to save the life of the mother, not to kill the baby. c. The baby will die either way. If an intervention could be developed whereby the life of the mother could be saved without the death of the baby (e.g. somehow detaching the embryo from the fallopian tube and allowing it to implant into the uterine wall), then the salpingectomy would no longer be morally permissible.

For more extensive treatment of the permissibility of fertility and infertility procedures, check out Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life, by William May.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Catholic Vote has new video!

For any of you who saw Catholicvote.com's video during the presidential campaign, you know what a coversation starter it was. They now have a new, also powerful video on their website. Please check it out and show them your support.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Make sure Obama is asked during interview about his intentions regarding abortion!

Hey guys, one of the guys on Catholic Dads posted today that CNN will be interviewing B.O.

Here is the link for you to insist that he is asked about his intentions with regard to abortion, especially FOCA. Please do so today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Letter to the Editor of The Day

Dear Editor,

This country has been grimly duped. The 1972 Roe vs. Wade decision was praised as a way to make abortion "safe, legal and rare," poised to liberate women from the bonds of motherhood. What a Pandora's box was opened.

Thirty-seven years later, abortion is the center of a network of issues that grows ever-more complex. Health care, politics, science, law, families and culture are all affected. The tentacles of this abberation are firmly entwined in our common consciousness and conscience, or what is left of it.

Abortion is tied to divorce, abuse, neglect, infidelity, mistrust, isolation and selfishness. It is used for convenience, to maintain a lifestyle, to hide an affair, to attain a career. Some use it coercively to hide their crimes, some use it for health reasons, ushering in an age of eugenics. In the hands of our government, abortion may be used for population control, political manipulation, and to fuel scientific research.

The methods for killing babies are numerous. The justification for it is weak, but is backed by a strong-willed, well-funded industry that has little or no regard for the rights of others. Contraception and abortion become harder to distinguish. And so far, fifty million people have been killed by it.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Our pastor came over for an impromptu dinner amidst the snowstorm the other night and we got into a lively discussion about the contents of Christopher West's new book, Heaven's Song, and I look forward to reading it. No coincidence, however, that PBXVI, spoke today about the divine meaning of marriage and the relationship of Christ and the Church as a marital relationship. God bless.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"A handful of anti-Obama malcontents showed up late to the inauguration festivities"

That's how I expect the media to cover this year's March for Life. However, you and I know better. Thousands will gather at the nation's capitol to stand in witness to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception (that means fertilization, oh by the way) until natural death. Never since Roe v. Wade have the stakes been so high for the right to life. Unborn children, especially, are facing threats that would have been unheard of 40 years ago. We are facing new ways to kill babies, fund the killing of babies, enable the killing of babies, justify the killing of babies, and even force the killing of babies. The right to life must be guaranteed, or all other liberties are meaningless. Please join the March for Life. If you cannot attend, please spread the word so that others may join or change their hearts. Please pray to our Heavenly Father that the scourge will end.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby Grace

Not to be confused with the Bob's new grandbaby Grace, this is a story about a baby Grace whose short life made a tremendous impact upon her family. God bless, all.