Category Archives: ethics

Personhood: Why All Human Beings Qualify

by Marissa Poisson

 

From our neighbours to the south at Abort73:

There have been at least two other instances in American history in which specific groups of human beings were stripped of their rights of personhood as a means of justifying horrific mistreatment. African-Americans and Native-Americans both felt the brunt of a system which tried to create the artificial classification: human, non-person. This distinction wasn’t based on an honest evaluation of the evidence, but with an eye towards justifying a specific action. In the case of Native-Americans, they had land. In the case of African-Americans, they had labor. Classifying them as non-persons (even property) provided a moral framework for those in power to forcefully take what they wanted without compensation. Today, “unwanted,” unborn children don’t hold anything as tangible as land or labor, but their claims on those who would eliminate them are no less significant. They stand in the way of an unencumbered, more self-absorbed lifestyle. Once again, this notion that human beings can be classified as “non-persons” is not built on an objective assessment of the facts, but with an eye towards justifying abortion.

Check out the poster on the right about the denial of personhood from NCLN.

Coldhearted Calculus

by Marissa Poisson

One week ago, two major American newspapers published two very different stories. The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy examines the phenomenon of parents who select to “reduce” twins to singletons for mainly lifestyle considerations while How a D.C. area family with 11 children, ages 12 through 1, makes it work describes just that. The former features “Jenny” and her husband, who are “choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion,” though you can no more have half an abortion than you can be a little bit pregnant. (“Coin-toss abortion” is a more apt description, unless of course the parents are choosing one child over another based on their sex.) In the latter, we read about Jen and Larry Kilmer, who have welcomed their children one after another with open arms.

In reading one article after the other, I was struck by how it all came down to a matter of perspective. The parents electing to have a shot of potassium chloride injected into one or more of their healthy babies’ hearts in the article are financially stable, married and often did everything they could to become pregnant in the first place, but they want precisely one child to be born. Still, on one level they know what they are doing is wrong. “This is bad, but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have,” says Jenny. But what does it mean to give everything you can to your children? “I feel very strongly that the best gift you can give a child is a sibling,” says Jen.

The first article states, “Whatever the particulars, these patients concluded that they lacked the resources to deal with the chaos, stereophonic screaming and exhaustion of raising twins.” Jen, on the other hand, says, “People are always asking, ‘How do you have time for yourself?’ But when you realize there’s more to life than yourself. . . I think time to yourself is overrated.” Even the author of the “reduction” piece, referring to her own situation, says, “There’s no doubt that life with twins and a third child so close in age has often felt all-consuming and out of control. And yet the thought of not having any one of them is unbearable now, because they are no longer shadowy fetuses but full-fledged human beings whom I love in a huge and aching way.” The crux of it is not the specific number of children in a family but rather that those “shadowy fetuses” are already fully human; they are the same individuals who elicit that huge and aching love.

Now that Jenny has subtracted one of her twins, she will be able to set aside twice as much money for the child who emerges from her womb alive, and it’s true that the Kilmers don’t have college funds for their children. But I have no doubt as to which family is richer. As Mother Theresa said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

More articles on “selective reductions” here, here, here and here. To read them is to weep.

*New, heartbreaking article by a father who recently lost two of his triplets: The New Scar on My Soul

Half Body, Whole Life

by Dante De Luca

Today’s story is about a woman named Rose Siggins; I am sure many of you are familiar with her story. Siggins was born with a medical condition called sacral agenesis, which means that she is missing the lower part of her spinal column. Her useless legs were amputated when she was a child in order to increase her mobility. Despite all this, she has lived a full and fairly normal life. She appeared in the 2005 documentary The Woman with Half a Body by the British Channel 5 in their series Extraordinary People and in the documentary Born Different: Unbelievable Medical Conditions on E! Entertainment Television in 2010.

What is all this doing on our pro-life blog, you ask? Well, not only is Siggins remarkable for the many obstacles she’s overcome due to her medical condition, but she is also a shining example of a woman who chose life despite overwhelming circumstances:

 “Two years into their relationship, Rose discovered that she was pregnant. Rose’s pregnancy was extraordinary and ground-breaking, no-one with Sacral Agenesis had ever given birth. The only doctor who didn’t advise Rose to have an abortion was Dr. Wilson who says “This couple have committed themselves to a pregnancy and she is, basically, laying her life on the line because nobody knows what this means, no-one has lived this experience before. With the first counselling with Rose and David I was very specific and told them that they have to know that if they move forward with this that she could die.” The main concerns were with her lungs being compressed, as the baby was likely to grow up the way because of her short stature. The other concern was how she would tolerate a caesarean delivery, because the baby was lying transversely she would have to be opened across the top, a true 19th century caesarean delivery. Rose told her mum that if there were any complications and there was a choice between her life and the baby’s, she should choose the baby.”

For the rest of her story, I present you with this article: part one and part two. You can also watch what I think is the Channel 5 documentary The Woman with Half a Body here.

Save Baby Joseph!

by Elizabeth Tanguay

Joseph Maraachli is a one-year-old baby who depends on a ventilator to live. He is dying of an undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder. His parents, who lost a previous child to a similar disease, want the doctors to perform a tracheotomy, like they did for their daughter, to enable them to care for their dying son at home. The hospital refused and has instead tried to force the parents to consent to removing the ventilator. The family has fought back courageously, and right now they are trying to get baby Joseph transferred to another hospital where he will get the treatment he needs.

As a nursing student, it seems to me that the parents shouldn’t have to fight to try and provide comfort care for their baby so he can die with them at home. The doctor said that the tracheotomy would be risky and that Joseph would suffer; however, in front of the tribunal, the doctor stated that Joseph couldn’t feel pain and was in a permanent vegetative state; he didn’t respond to stimuli. However, as this video shows, Joseph is not vegetative, as he is moving to his parents’ stimuli. I can’t help asking myself: what is the hidden agenda here? Why can’t the relatively simple and humane request of the parents be granted? They are, after all, the first decision-makers for treatment for this baby. While I don’t have all the medical facts of the case, as a sister, if my little brother were dying and there was nothing more the hospital could do for him, and there was a way to make him comfortable at home, I would want that. The Maraachlis aren’t asking for a miracle: they are asking for good palliative care. If you are interested in supporting the Maraachlis as they go through this ordeal, please join the “Save Baby Joseph” Facebook group or go to any of the articles linked to here and scroll down to see how you can help.

Follow the rest of story here, here and here.

Another Side of the Abortion Industry

by Anastasia Chvedova

Imagine opening a newspaper one day and finding a horrifying story about hundreds of people being killed each week and their bodies being sold for research and product manufacturing. Such stories often belong only in science fiction novels or movies. We know something similar happened in the Holocaust, but we don’t really expect it to happen today. However, recently I came across news that is perhaps not very far off. If anything, this information shows the lack of respect our society has for the unborn and the prevalence of the idea that they are not living persons. Prior to doing this research, I had no idea of this side of the abortion industry, and I am guessing that it is not extremely well known. Specifically, I am talking about the ways aborted fetuses are used in research, industry, and medicine.

An article recently published on LifeSiteNews.com describes the use of fetal body parts such as eyes, ears, limbs, brain and skin. Shockingly, these body parts are now an “indispensable commodity for many U.S. researchers and scientists.” They are used by the government, universities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology laboratories to produce cosmetics, food additives, and other products.

How do we know about this now? Dr. Theresa Deisher, a well-known molecular and cellular physiologist with years of experience in top pharmaceutical companies, recently gave a talk in Washington, DC, at a pro-life conference. She spoke of the “commoditizing” and “dehumanizing” treatment of unborn human beings that has occurred over the past few decades, changing the popular perception of them by suggesting they are not in fact human “like the rest of us.” I was surprised to learn that the more grown an unborn child is, the more valuable their body parts are for research – which suggests just how deeply this “dehumanization” has in fact taken root in our society.

Just how many fetuses are we talking about here? For example, “Puget Sound Business Journal discovered that the University of Washington filled out more than 4,400 requests for fresh fetal body parts from fetal tissue for the purpose of biomedical research in 2009.”

That is just one part of the story. There is another way in which fetuses are used: in vaccines. A few months ago, I (unknowingly) got vaccinated for the chickenpox. Later, I learned that viruses used in the Varivax vaccine are typically grown in cell lines derived from deliberately aborted babies! Upon learning this I was appalled and in a way felt violated, because if I had known this information, I would not have chosen to receive this vaccine. (Perhaps in this way, people should be given the “right to choose”?)

Many vaccines currently in use were developed using human cell lines, for example: VARIVAX (chickenpox), Havrix (Hep-A), VAQTA (Hep-A), Twinrix (Hep-A/Hep-B), POLIOVAX (polio), IMOVAX (rabies), MERUVAX II (rubella), M-R-VAX (measles/rubella), BIAVAX II (mumps/rubella), and M-M-R II (measles/mumps/rubella). One article I found suggests that each dose of the chickenpox vaccine contains “residual components…including DNA and protein of cells derived from the aborted baby”. Unfortunately, no alternative, pro-life substitutes currently exist for the chickenpox, Hepatitis A, and rubella vaccines.

A well-known quote says, “A society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members.” I think this information gives us even more reasons to educate people on the pro-life view and help society see what is being done to its most vulnerable persons, the unborn. After all, who is more dependent, more small and defenseless, than they are? They are unable to speak up for themselves, and all we have for their testimony are the many images of aborted babies. However, we are able to speak, and perhaps it has never been more important to do so than today. It says something when the bodies of these children are used to grow viruses and test new products like cosmetics and food additives. It somehow makes widespread abortion even more inhumane, when the unborn are being used as commodities in our industrial, commercialized age.  In my opinion, every life is valuable and irreplaceable. For this reason, researchers need to find new methods of developing vaccines, even if those methods are more costly. As pro­-lifers, we should remember what we are proclaiming: that these unborn babies have been made for something much greater – to live, to learn, to be known, to love and be loved.

Taboo

by Marissa Poisson

I enjoy a good game of Taboo more than the next person, but I like to be able to speak freely outside of party games. Unfortunately, it seems as if much of our society is holding a Taboo card that looks something like this:Despite all the controversy about the decision to exclude abortion from the G8 maternal and child health initiative, much of Canada has had a proxy debate, a debate about whether we should reopen a debate that has never really been settled, rather than a hard look at the reality of abortion. Is it above our pay grade to even ask when human life begins? Why not look into how women who have had abortions are faring? What about valuing the act of love it is to choose adoption and questioning the incoherence of publically funding both abortion and fertility treatments? If women are solely responsible for exercising choice, are men not free to be irresponsible? Why can we kill a fetus when it would be viable outside the womb but not a baby born prematurely?

If abortion was covered in the Canadian edition of Trivial Pursuit, a majority of Canadians wouldn’t be able to answer the most basic questions. What protection does the law offer the unborn child? (None throughout all nine months of pregnancy.) How many abortions are carried out annually in our country? (About 100,000.)  How can we begin to discuss sex‑selective or post-genetic-screening abortions without widespread awareness of basic facts like these? We need to wake up to the fact that abortion is anything but a trivial matter. Canadians need to know what it is they’re talking about and have an honest debate because we shouldn’t be playing games with human life.

Equal Rights? Lose Your Femininity.

by Theresa Stephenson

Abortion advocates say that I require an operation to be equal to a man. Apparently, a woman must have free access to abortion in order to exercise the same freedoms as a man.

But, as a young female, I ask: why do I need to divorce myself from my fertility in order to be equal to a man? Why do I need to deny the essence of my womanhood? Why do I need to destroy my natural dignity as a woman for the sake of so-called “reproductive rights”? Why should I change myself to be a man to be equal? I don’t. Functioning female anatomy intact, I am equal to a man.

My equality and my liberation are not dependent on the ability to kill my child. I don’t need that “choice.” I don’t want that “choice.” It degrades me.

This entire debate is wrapped in ambiguity and abstractions. The pro-choice world is obsessed with ideas of “reproductive rights” and “choice”. But what do those ideas represent? What concrete, physical reality do they reflect?

When you only think in such terms, it’s easy to forget that that the “choice” to “terminate” is actually stopping the beating heart of a child in the name of “reproductive rights.” But, abstractions aside, abortion – the willful termination of pregnancy – infringes on the right to life of another human being. When we discard those ambiguous terms we will see what is actually at the root of abortion: murdered babies and wronged women.

I won’t allow proponents of abortion to rob me of my personhood, my identity as a woman. I refuse to submit to the idea that my sexuality must be “reigned in” or mastered by means of a surgical procedure. I don’t need a surgical procedure to exercise my liberty as freely as a man. But a woman’s dignity will only be secure when the dignity of all human life is protected. Both mother and child are equally endowed with the inalienable right to life. And that is equality worth fighting for.