Monthly Archives: August 2010

Stem Cell Research

by Elizabeth Tanguay

I’ve been wanting to write on this for a while now, but there never was an appropriate time. Now that the courts in the US have halted Obama’s administration from expanding the embryonic stem cell research program, I think the time has come.

A stem cell is your basic cell, with the amazing property to develop into any kind of tissue. This is why we originally started using embryos, because they are developing all their tissues, and therefore have lots of stem cells. But what we are discovering now is that we also have stem cells scattered a little all over the place in our body. One valuable source of stem cells is umbilical cord blood.

Embryonic stem cell research was first viewed as the miracle cure for all kinds of diseases, such as Parkinson’s and cancer. But the promise of this research has not yielded a single cure. Embryonic stem cells are too unstable, and they can cause tumours. There is also a greater risk of it being rejected by the recipient’s body. It’s mostly politicians who are trying to put more money into it.

 However, adult stem cells, which doesn’t require the destruction of a human life, have saved hundreds of lives and been found to cure sickle cell anemia, systemic scleroderma, and quadriplegia, just to name a few.

Also, it makes more scientific sense than embryonic stem cells. As they say, there is no controversy in taking cells from your own body. There are stem cells found everywhere in your tissues. No need to worry about tissue rejection or tumours from fast growing cells. And the list of the conditions they treat is staggering.  Everything from cancers to autoimmune diseases to some neural degenerative disorders have been successfully treated or cured with adult stem cells, often taken from the patient’s own body.

This is clearly an area where political agendas are getting the way of scientific advancement. Up to last year, embryonic stem cell research in the US wasn’t getting any funding from the government. But now the Obama administration have lifted that ban and given millions to fund something that doesn’t even work.

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Crossing Canada with a Message for All to See

by Amanda Hennessey

On Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting two men who have been walking across Canada with a group called “Crossroads” (previously written about on July 30th). They were visiting my parish in order to speak about their walk from Vancouver to Quebec City in the name of life. They finished their walk last Saturday on Parliament Hill. These journeys go on all around North America; take a look at their website to learn more.

To me these men, and woman, are heroes. They possessed the courage, and the will power, to bear all physical and emotional pains of an amazing journey in order to share the pro-life message. All who would have seen them would have noticed their t-shirts which bore the black capitalized words “PRO LIFE.”  I am encouraged by their witness and bravery.

According to them, a few weeks into their walk they met a man in a church. After he learned about their mission, he decided to drop everything and join them- what courage! They also shared how amazed they were that none of their members were injured or got sick even though they were pushing their bodies to extremes and walking through all varieties of weather. I encourage you all to check out their official blog, as well as one of the walker’s blogs .

Struggle for Free Speech

[Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of our first guest-blogger, Anastasia Pierce, from University of Victoria’s pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth. We encourage you to visit their site.]

by Anastasia Pierce

As university students we are in the very environment that should encourage freedom of expression as students search for truth and knowledge. To quote one free speech advocate, “In order to get the truth, conflicting arguments and expression must be allowed. There can be no freedom without choice, no choice without knowledge.” We should be respectful of other’s ideas, and free to debate them. Unfortunately these concepts were recently overlooked at the University of Victoria (UVic).

Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), UVic’s pro-life club, has experienced two years of discrimination and censorship because some students felt offended by our message. During this time we were repeatedly denied club funding. This past spring the situation escalated to a point where we were denied club status and policy modifications were made that specifically targeted pro-life advocacy.

The controversy was triggered in spring 2008 when we posted some posters from an organization called Feminists for Life. We continued to distribute the posters, and have been denied funding ever since for having displayed them.

Because of the controversy we decided to host a debate where both sides could present their views on the abortion issue. In fall 2009 Stephanie Gray from the Canadian Centre of Bioethical Reform debated UVic’s philosophy professor, Dr. Eike Kluge. However, this debate stimulated further controversy, leading to a denial of club funding that fall and withdrawal of club status in Spring 2010. Despite multiple appeals to our student society, no changes were made. Therefore, this past May YPY filed a lawsuit against the UVic Student Society.

We are happy to say that after  two months of legal consultation, the case was recently settled out of court. The UVic Student’s Society now recognizes YPY as a club, has granted us funding for the summer semester, has repaid all funds wrongly withheld since fall 2008, and has eliminated the discriminatory policy. They have also agreed to an unusual condition that allows YPY to hold the petition in abeyance indefinitely, making the process required to reinitiate legal proceedings quicker and easier, should it become necessary.

This resolution is a great step forward for pro-life students. We are pleased that UVic once again recognizes the importance of free speech, and respects the varying ideologies that should be welcomed on a university campus. We hope this will set an example for other universities as they encourage dialogue amongst students in the pursuit of truth and knowledge.

YPY will continue to encourage respectful discussion on the abortion issue, and boldly proclaim our message. Inevitably there will be further challenges, but it will not stop us from proclaiming the truth.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

The truth we must share on our university campuses is that 300 innocent human beings die every day in our country from abortion, and many women and men are hurt by it. This unfortunate truth will not change unless we speak up and educate students about the reality of abortion, and support pregnant women with other life-affirming options.

No matter how much people dislike our message, and penalize us for sharing it, we must continue to proclaim the truth as we share our message with students and protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our society:  unborn children.

“A Woman Wants an Abortion Like She Wants…”

by Marissa Poisson

A couple of days ago, the topic of abortion came up in conversation and I decided to reveal my pro-life views. The acquaintance I was speaking with shared with me that someone she knows had an abortion last week. As I listened to her describe the woman’s circumstances, I could certainly agree that they were less than ideal for welcoming a child. Apparently, the woman didn’t want to have an abortion but, among other things, didn’t feel she could afford a newborn. There are as many different situations as there are women facing an unplanned pregnancy but, really, what woman wants to have an abortion? As Frederica Mathewes-Green wrote:

“For the question remains, do women want abortion? Not like she wants a Porsche or an ice cream cone. Like an animal caught in a trap, trying to gnaw off its own leg, a woman who seeks an abortion is trying to escape a desperate situation by an act of violence and self-loss. Abortion is not a sign that women are free, but a sign that they are desperate.” (http://www.feministsforlife.org/FFL_topics/after/rtnwrfmg.htm)

The conversation left me saddened and outraged. I am saddened because of the loss of life, of course, and for this woman, who will never be able to terminate her memories of the abortion. I also find it outrageous that abortion seems to be the only clear choice that caring, compassionate Canada has to offer desperate women. A choice is not a choice if you only have one option. A woman who says she’d like to have her baby but feels overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable challenges needs help, not an abortion. We need to eliminate the obstacles the mother faces, not her child.

“You just don’t throw children out like that”

by Dante De Luca

Perhaps some of you may recall a story that was in the news recently, the story of a lady in the small village of Villers-au-Tertre, France, who suffocated eight of her newborn children and hid their bodies in her garage in plastic bags, simply because she “didn’t want any more children” and did not want to get doctors involved.

This story has aroused the horror of the local populace, and rightly so. The lady in question’s next door neighbour has called the events “revolting” and “monstrous”. A lady down the street stated that “We’re really in a state of shock”. Another asked, “How could anyone do something like that?”

These sentiments have been echoed by people around the globe. You can see a slice of the online discussion here — notable comments include “I wanted to throw up a little bit” and “This goes beyond the inconceivable”… not to mention those which are too vulgar to quote on our blog.

What has me confused is that I thought the general populace approved of this sort of thing. Whatever happened to the right of a mother to choose whether or not to bring up her children?  Whatever happened to the right of a mother to kill her offspring if she doesn’t want them? After all, it’s just a baby; it can’t think or do anything on its own. Right?

Right?

Admittedly, the laws on abortion are more strict in France than they are in Canada. But the fact is, I have yet to hear a reasonable defense of abortion of any sort that does not also allow for infanticide. If you can kill someone immediately before birth, why can’t you kill someone immediately after? And if the death of eight newborn children causes such horror, why does the death of three hundred unborn go unnoticed?

So in the end, I have to agree with Fr Robert Meignotte, the curé of Villers-au-Tertre: “I’m thinking of all the children in the world… you just don’t throw children out like that in a garbage bag. It’s inconceivable.”

Save the Babies!… but only sometimes

by Amanda Hennessey

At the beginning of the summer I had to renew my First Aid and CPR training. Those who have taken these courses know that when someone needs first aid you have to take into different factors. For instance, if someone is choking and cannot make any noise (full blockage) you should administer abdominal thrusts (formally known as the Heimlich maneuver). This is when you scope your hands, in a J-motion, into the person’s abdomen in order to dislodge the object. The factors which change how you should do this are: if the person is very short or a child (get on your knees), if the person is taller than you (get them to go down on their knees), or the person is obese or pregnant. In this last instance what you are supposed to do is do chest compressions, but what if the person has an open wound on their chest and it is impossible to do chest compressions? The instructor gently put it that, “without the mom there can be no baby” or rather that the child cannot survive if the mother does not survive. We would just have to do the best we could. The pregnant situation came up a few other times in CPR as well as in using the defibrillator. Ever time without fail someone would ask questions about the unborn child: if the treatment would hurt the baby, where should we compress so as not to hurt the child, etc… The instructor had an alternative places where we could do compressions or place the pads of the deliberator, but she would also reiterate the phrase, “no mom, no baby.”

I completely agree with what the instructor had to say; it is true that in situations like these we should do our best. I am also happy that those in my class were so concerned about these hypothetical babies. What did get me thinking is: would their points of view change if they knew that this hypothetical mother got into her accident on her way to an abortion clinic?

What makes some babies worth worrying for and others not? Is it just that some are wanted versus others that are not? Or that we are not sure that they are wanted? Or that we are afraid to get sued if we save the mom and kill the baby…?

My CPR class made me frustrated in this regard because to me in seems so illogical that many can care about saving these hypothetical babies and yet in reality these same people support the “freedom of choice” enabling mothers to terminate their children.

What’s the Difference?

by Reita S.

We live in a mixed up world. We always have. There has always been evil in this world. There always will be. But it seems to me that a large part of this evil comes from losing track of the important things in this life.

When people begin to think that their own socio-economic betterment comes above justice for their fellows, then oppression follows. When people forget that religion is meant to bring a message of peace and love, they force it on others with threats and violence. When people forget they were not destined to be kings of all the rest of the earth, then colonialism and slavery result.

Today, we think we have learned those lessons. Today, we don’t believe that anymore. (Or so we tell ourselves.) In Utah, a man faces years in prison over the (accidental) death of a kitten. Animal activist leagues are pushing for a jail term. One activist said, “I think people tend to not think of them [cats] as beings that have a soul and a nervous system. They can still feel.”

So, tell me what kind of society we are that wants to send a man to jail for the accidental death of a cat, but will applaud at the ‘woman’s right to choose’? Don’t people realise that the woman has the right to choose whether or not to kill her child?

How is it that the demonstrated living nature, genetic uniqueness, and ability to feel pain of the unborn child is brushed aside, yet the cat’s ‘soul and nervous system’ should be a compelling argument?

I don’t know why there are thousands of children languishing in inadequate foster homes and orphanages, but people will leave billions of dollars to dog shelters.

I believe strongly in responsible pet ownership. I believe in caring for animals. But at the end of the day, why is it okay to kill a human child at any point of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, but a criminal act to harm a cat or dog? Why is the human child of such little significance? Can someone tell me the difference?