Delaware Right to Life Convention

Last evening I attended the Delaware Pro-Life Coalition’s 20th Annual convention. I got there late in the day due to a conflict with my parish’s RCIA retreat which I had to attend as the sponsor of one of our catechumens.

I got there to catch the tail-end of a talk by Neil Noesen who is a pharmacist who lost his job over his refusal to provide birth control pills to a patient. I missed most of the talk and some other conversations during it due to some connections I had to make, so I can’t comment on the details of it, but it would seem to me that, even ignoring the important concepts of conscience and freedom of choice, isn’t a pharmacist’s job to make sure that a patient isn’t taking medicine that would harm them?

After all, many people see more than one doctor and a doctor may unknowingly prescribe something that could have a conflict with other medication the patient is taking if the patient forgot to provide a complete list. The pharmicist is often the last line of defense against such a situation, so he the authority to refuse to prescribe medicine if harm could come to the patient. If Mr. Noesen thought that using the pill could harm the patient in this case, he had an obligation refuse to fulfill the prescription.

Another interesting thing I found is that my girlfriend, a very intelligent woman, had no idea that the pill acts as an abortifacient. Makes me wonder how many other people don’t know that one of the primary objectives of this “contraceptive” is really to prevent a fertilized egg (a human life) from implanting in the womb.

I also had an opportunity to speak with Jason Buck, although I missed his talk. Jason is a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville who recently raised $50,000 to air pro-life television commercials across the Tri-State area. You can view those ads at his website, www.CultureOfLife.us. We had a good conversation about ideas we can use in Delaware.

The keynote speaker at the banquet that evening was Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, whose murder was successfully completed two years ago yesterday. He spoke about the events leading up to her execution, a word he used appropriately, and also about the work his family has done through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation to support families who are going through similar situations with their loved ones.

After the banquet ended, I hung around and spoke to some of the local leaders about how I can help build support for life in Delaware. (As I said to Moira Sheridan, head of Delaware Right to Life, “from conception to natural death.” She responded, “I see you know the lingo.” I responded, “I am Catholic.”) I’ll be working with them on a few projects in the near future.

Finally, thanks to a friend of mine who has very little shame, a small group of us ended up going out for drinks. It was my friend Susan the Shameless, my girlfriend, Bobby Schindler, Neil Noesen, A girl named Mary from Philadelphia who does chastity education, and myself. It was good time, we discussed all sorts of topics: politics, religion, NCAA basketball, movies, TV, etc. Both of the speakers who joined us are really decent, genuinely good people.

I’m definitely looking forward to being more involved in the battle to defend life in Delaware.

Vermont House Rejects Assisted Suicide

Vermont House Rejects Assisted Suicide – "Incredible Victory" Says Anti-Euthanasia Leader

House members voted 82-63 against the measure euphemistically entitled “Patient Choice and Control at End of Life,” after a week of impassioned debate on the issue, the Associated Press reported. The legislation would have made it legal for a doctor to assist a patient with a terminal illness to commit suicide by prescribe lethal medication.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas had opposed the assisted-suicide bill, saying while he supported the concept of death with dignity, he did not support doctor-assisted suicide.

“We need to make it dignified, we need to make it pain-free,” Douglas said prior to the debates. “But to empower physicians–who take an oath to alleviate pain and do no harm–to hasten death is a step in the wrong direction.”

This is, of course, wonderful news. I remember we discussed the issue of suicide in a philosophy class my freshman year of college. The strongest argument raised in defense of a “right” to suicide was that if a person, without external pressures of any sort, including depression, freely decided that their life was not worth living we should therefore have no right to stop them. The question I asked, and never received an answer to, was how could a person who decided their live wasn’t worth living not be depressed?

The fact that someone has a terminal disease and will die soon anyway doesn’t really change the fact that the premature ending of an innocenter person’s life is still a form of murder, no matter what euphemisms we use to try to cover up that fact. The fact that they will die at some point in the imminent future doesn’t make it acceptable to actively kill them now.

This same mistake is made in a Letter to the Editor in the Wilmington News Journal this morning. Brian Squire writes:

Excess embryos are created in nature all the time. Reproductive capacity is redundant in nearly all species for a reason.

Even then, the ideal that all human embryos should be brought to term is unrealistic and against the laws of nature.

He misses the point between something happening on its own and causing it to happen. If a meteor hits a house and kills the family who lives there, there’s no moral issue. It just happened, no one caused it to. But if I know a meteor’s going to hit a house at a certain time and I make sure the family is home so that they will die, I’m a murderer, even though I am not the immediate cause of that death.

The fact that as many as three-quarters of pregnancies end in a spontaneous, natural abortion does not give validity or moral correctness to intentionally ending a pregnancy. Taking positive steps to end a life, even if done remotely from the immediate cause of death, as in the asteroid example above, still raises moral issues.

While I’m picking on Mr. Squire, I’ll deal with the rest of his letter. He asks why pro-lifers opposed to Embryonic Stem Cell Research aren’t protesting fertility clinics since they destroy many embryos in the process of implanting children into a womb. There are a few points to raise in response to that question:

One, as Bismarck reminds us, “Politics is the art of the possible.” Fertility clinics aren’t going anywhere. There’s too much demand for them and not enough opposition to them. Given the limited supply of time and energy there are other battles to be fought rather than tilting at this particular windmill.

Second, I won’t speak for Protestants on this issue, but the Catholic Church has long opposed in vitro fertilization and other scientific reproductive methods. Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):
This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses–sometimes specifically “produced” for this purpose by in vitro fertilization–either to be used as “biological material” or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.

While that document doesn’t specifically mention ESCR (it was written over ten years ago), you can see in that brief excerpt, an explicit condemnation of in vitro fertilizations and an implicit condemnation of ESCR.

At least from Catholic circles, there is no hypocrisy on these issues as Mr. Squire attempts to imply.

The important message to remember is that it is never morally acceptable to take active steps to allow someone to die. Similarly, it is morally wrong to be inactive when steps could be taken that would save a person’s life. Either is murder, a reality we seem to want to deny in our culture today, but a reality nonetheless.

Priorities

Yesterday’s Gospel Reading:

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question. (Luke 14:1-6)

In his homily, our priest showed that what Jesus was doing was pointing out the misguided priorities of the Pharisees who, likely without understanding it, were placing the needs of animals above the needs of men. They would never have cured a sick man on the Sabbath since that would violate the Sabbath law, but without hesitation help a young man or even an ox who was in trouble. As Jesus stated on another occasion, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”. (Mark 2:27) The Pharisees had their priorities backward.

So do those who support pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia political candidates because of their support for health care or welfare or a minimum wage increase or the cause du jour. What good are any of those rights to a person who’s been killed? What good is it to say “Yes, you’re dead, but had we not killed you, you would have been guaranteed $7.25 an hour at a job, so it balances out in the end!”

Picture it this way: if you were offered the chance to end poverty forever in exchange for the immediate end of someone’s life, would you do it? Of course not. And you’d think anyone who would trade even a single life for such a worthy end would be a monster. Yet, aren’t those who made the “trade” mentioned the above paragraph doing that, but with a much larger payment for a much smaller gain? Over 1 million deaths a year from abortion plus who knows any many from legalized euthanasia. That’s even more horrific since the policies they’re getting in their bargain won’t end poverty (and likely worsen it, as students of economics will tell you.)

Voting isn’t simply a matter of counting how many positions of each candidate you support and going with the candidate with the higher amount of agreement; some values have to take priority over others. Claiming otherwise is foolish. You need to make sure your priorities are straight before you vote, otherwise you’re no better than the Pharisees in the Gospel story above.