Category Archives: guest blogger

People Deserve Better

by Fr. Matthew Wertin

Whatever anyone thinks about it politically, ethically, morally, or even religiously, one thing is certain – abortion does serious damage.  Women still die from abortion, abortion creates physical, emotional, spiritual, and behavioral problems for women, abortion is a form of racism against poor and ethnic women, abortion has lead to increased violence against pregnant women, women are pressured and coerced by family, friends, employers, institutions of learning, and sexual predators into having abortions, abortion is a band-aid that allows society to abandon women, and abortion negatively affects future relationships.  (To confirm these findings and to learn more, please go to www.silentnomoreawareness.org, or get a copy of their work, “What’s So Bad About Abortion?”)

The voices of women who have had abortions are resoundingly clear – “abortion hurts women.”  One woman, Sabrina, said, “My life just started spiraling down in destruction, and I attempted suicide three times.”  Another, Shelly, said, “Abortion did not end my pain; it began it.”  Now men are even coming forward saying, “We regret lost fatherhood through abortion.”  One man, Scott, said, “I didn’t defend the life of my own daughter.  Based on misinformation, selfishness, fear, shame, I let her die to an abortionist’s knife and I died the same day.”  The list of negative emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual effects of abortion is hauntingly grave and long.

Just as every community, big and small, has women who are experiencing or will experience an unplanned pregnancy and need alternatives to abortion, so too every community has women and men, families, who are suffering from the effects of an abortion and need healing.  The fear, the pain, the confusion, as well as the need for guidance, help, and compassion are real and present in each of these situations and in each of these people.  It should be a priority of every community, therefore, in striving to meet the needs of others in their community, to do what they can, by offering resources, compassionate care, and social action, to bring about an end to abortion, give help to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, and extend healing, forgiveness, and mercy to those suffering from the wounds of abortion.  Abortion hurts everyone and helps no one, which is why we can and should join together in making it unnecessary, unthinkable, and unused as an option for anyone in any circumstance.  Women deserve better than abortion.  Men deserve better than abortion.  Every member of the human family deserves better than abortion.  Will we help those in need?

For opportunities for confidential care and healing, please go to http://www.newwine.ca/post-abortion-healing-recovery.htm or PROJECT RACHEL: Post-abortion healing and reconciliation. Project Rachel is a sensitive, private and confidential experience; it is for women or men who have been hurt by an abortion. Info: 416-629-8264; info@stmarysrefuge.org. All calls/emails are private and confidential.

Choosing Love on Valentine’s Day

Head on over to NCLN for a great post on Valentine’s Day by uOSFL alumnus Rebecca Richmond!

Love wants the highest good for the other person. As such, love is not self-serving, but is oriented towards the other. It is more than a onetime proclamation or commitment, but rather is revealed in our daily actions as we serve others.

How Much Does a Baby Really Cost? Reflections After the First Year

by Naomi Charles

I was pregnant for the first time, and feeling a bit anxious, so I asked my brother whose wife had a baby the previous year, “How much does it cost to have a baby on a monthly basis?” David said, “If you can afford a coffee a day, you can afford to have a baby.”

Well, my baby girl turned a year old yesterday, and I have kept track of all the money we spent on her and guess what? David was right. All told, we spent $641.00. That is $52.41 a month and $1.75 a day! (Isn’t that the price of a coffee these days?)

Now what does $1.75 a day include? Well, everything: diapers, baby food, clothes, presents, toiletries, official documents, medicine, and even her birthday party expenses.

So why did I bother to do this? I wanted to prove something. Many people say they can’t afford children unless they have all the education they want, a good career and a double-income family. Also, my research could save lives! Just last week I read that a father dropped a cinderblock on his newborn baby (born to his girlfriend in a car) because they already had a one year old and couldn’t afford another baby.

Many modern sources you look to will not give you the impression that having a baby is affordable. For example, babycenter.com indicates that, “You’ll spend almost $10,000 on your baby’s first year, according to the thousands of moms who took BabyCenter’s exclusive survey.” The CanadianFinanceBlog.com provides a “reasonable expectation” of the costs of the first year as $11, 025. The breakdown is Food: $1646, Clothing: $1879, Health Care: $154, Child Care: $4,990, Shelter, Furnishings, Household Operations: $2,356.

So how did I manage to spend so little on her first year? First, I was committed to being as economical as possible because I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Today, this is rare because many mothers feel they cannot manage the family finances without going back to work. There is also societal pressure to feel inadequate if you are not contributing a cheque each month. It’s the “just a mom” syndrome.

One thing many new moms don’t account for (and how can you?) is the generosity of everyone around you when you’re going to have a baby! Often babies in the womb and out seem to emit some sort of compulsion field that causes everyone around them to want to give something. I cried at my baby shower because I was so overwhelmed and I prayed that every baby would be so welcomed. If you are part of a community, whether it is your family, a church, your workplace or circle of friends, they will want to share with you when baby comes.

Another big money saver is cloth diapers. I know, you may be thinking, a lot of work, a lot of mess and rashes too. Well, I researched a good kind by talking to other moms who used  them, and when asked at my baby shower what I needed, I said Motherease cloth diapers. They have snaps, not pins! They were about $12 each and many women bought them, so I had a whole collection of one-size-fits-all and a few newborn ones, plus two covers of each size. I use them when we are at home and use disposable ones when we are out and for overnight.

I didn’t buy a bunch of baby equipment. The only thing I bought was a car seat for $50. I was given a high chair, a stroller and a play pen which she uses as a bed. It travels well. That’s all. I didn’t want a change table, (the floor is safer) or an exersaucer, but I was given a jolly jumper. I didn’t buy any toys. The funny thing is, toys are nice, but what babies really want to play with is real stuff, like Tupperware, car keys, books, and the baby wipe container. Why buy toys that will just add clutter? Plus, if you are home with your baby, you don’t need many toys to entertain them because YOU get to play with them!

I’m not sure who spends $1879 on baby clothing! Thrift stores are great and secondhand baby things often look brand new because the little tykes grow out of them so quickly. A person can also sew clothing to save money. It takes some time and energy during baby’s nap but if you can sew, go for it!

Okay, breastfeeding is key! Not only is it the BEST food for baby, but it’s a lot cheaper than formula. Not that it is easy, especially at the beginning when you are getting the hang of it, but don’t give up and get some good advice from nurses or experienced mothers. As you go on, it is comfortable and convenient, and your milk is ready to go whenever and wherever your baby needs it.

Also, after 6 months, as much as you can, have baby eat what you eat. Those jars of baby food must add up. Get a manual baby food grinder and when you sit down for supper, grind whatever they can eat. Gradually baby will transition to eating everything with the family.

I would budget $100 per month for baby and at the end of the month put what is left in a savings account for her. It’s been adding up. And guess what? The government gives you $100 a month for the Universal Child Care benefit plus there is family allowance. So how can we not afford a baby?

Every baby and situation is unique. One friend was not able to nurse and her baby required special expensive formula. But this mother is excellent at making the most of coupons so when she buys groceries, she can save up to $45 at a time. Each family finds their own money-saving skills.

A simple life, without too much stuff, can be very enjoyable. My daughter certainly isn’t deprived. She’s very happy, always looks cute, enjoys her food, her library books, going outside and playing with Mommy and Daddy. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much we enjoy her. Everyday she does something new and her smiles and laughter lift us up like nothing else. I look forward to spending these years with her discovering the whole world and the One who made it, for about the price of a coffee a day.

By the way, my little girl is going to be a big sister in a few months and I’m not worried about having 10,000 dollars in my pocket!

The Pain of Abortion

by Kate Larson

If, like me, you were unable to attend the Silent No More event on Feb. 2, I direct you to their website where you can listen to or read stories from women who have regretted their abortions and found healing. The stories are short, but there is a lot of pain in them, pain in the circumstances leading up to the abortions, pain in the procedures themselves, pain in the fear, self-loathing, depression and other negative emotions many women experienced before, during and after the abortions, pain in their regret at the decision, and pain in the healing process. The stories, however, end hopefully. While the regret at choosing abortion does not go away and has led these women to speak out, the stories describe finding forgiveness both from others and from themselves, and experiencing a sense of being set free from the past.

The latter cannot be said of the comparatively few testimonies I have come across from women who apparently do not regret their abortions. They may genuinely feel this way, or genuinely believe they feel this way. They are entitled to their opinion. What strikes me about these stories, however, is how much more negative they are than the stories of regret, despite being considered “positive” experiences of abortion. I don’t just mean negative in the obvious sense of considering that there is nothing regrettable in ending a human life. I mean negative in the sense that they detail all the pain of the stories of regret without the redemption.

Many of the “no regrets” stories describe women being in the same situations and experiencing the same fear, anger, shame, and pressure upon discovering they were pregnant as they do in the stories of regret. Both types of stories describe women having similar reactions during and after their abortions, such as crying, hatred of themselves and those around them, initial relief, and emptiness. The main difference is in how most of the stories conclude. The stories on the Silent No More website end with the admission that, though the hurt caused by abortion never goes away, healing is possible. Many of the so-called “positive” stories of abortion conclude that the author has no regrets because she considers herself undeserving or unfit to be a parent, because she has made and sees herself continuing to make bad decisions, or simply because she did not know of, or wish to know of, any other option at the time. Far from proving that the negative consequences of abortion are either non-existent or inconsequential, the “no regrets” stories show women in pain and as in need of healing as the women of Silent No More. The real difference is that the women of Silent No More have found healing and want to help others begin that long process.

Life is Wonderful

by Kate Larson

 As Christmas approaches, many people will make time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life at least once. Having seen it again recently myself, I was struck by some parallels between the pro-life movement and George’s story.

First, here is a brief synopsis for those unfamiliar with the movie. (Those who have been eagerly anticipating seeing it again since the credits rolled last year are invited to skip to the next paragraph.) George Bailey has big dreams. He wants to travel the world and then become a great architect. Every time he’s about to leave Bedford Falls, however, something comes up that requires him to choose between what he ought to do and what he saw himself doing. He ends up taking over the family business, providing loans to ordinary working people who would otherwise be swindled by the town mogul, Henry Potter. Thanks to him, his neighbours start successful businesses and own their own homes. Time and again he stands up to consummate businessman Potter, and just manages to keep operating. Then, thanks to his uncle and business partner accidently misplacing $8,000 that was meant for the business’s otherwise empty bank account, George faces the closure of his business and a prison sentence. There seems to be no solution and, in despair, he considers drowning himself. Fortunately, his family prays for him and an angel, Clarence, is sent to earth to convince him of the value of his life. Clarence shows George what the world would have been like if he had never been born and thus enables him to appreciate what he has and to see that his integrity has been rewarded. Rather than not achieving his dreams, he has achieved them in a more profound and fulfilling way than he could have envisioned.

I see three parallels between George’s experience and the pro-life movement. The first is that we too have a big dream, one of the biggest anyone could have, to render abortion and euthanasia unthinkable. It is so big that it may take more than your or my lifetime to achieve it. We may carry on, standing up for life at every opportunity, but feel that the world around us hasn’t changed. Yet we don’t know how our actions affect others. Aside from loaning the residents of Bedford Falls the money to have houses and businesses, George did three vital things. He saved his brother’s life, he prevented a child’s death by pointing out a mistake made by his first boss, Mr. Gower, and he married and had children. Yet, when he was shown what life would’ve been like without him, he was shocked to see that his brother had died, that Mr. Gower was homeless after serving twenty years in prison, that his wife had never married and that his children did not exist. He measured his actions against his dreams and was, therefore, blind to their good. Just because we have not achieved our big dream does not mean we are not getting there. When we are protesting, it is easier to hear the insults shouted at us than to see the person who takes quiet note of our signs. Meanwhile, that person’s life could have been profoundly affected and they could, in turn, profoundly affect, even save, the life of someone else. We may not always be able to see it, but that does not mean that change is not being wrought and that that change may not be deeper and last longer than we could imagine.

The second parallel is that it is not easy fighting for our cause. Like George, we are the underdogs. Henry Potter is the pro-choice status quo of our university campuses and our society-at-large. He believes that there are no vulnerable people, only problems. He proposes solutions that seem reasonable but are cruel. He seems to be helpful, but only hurts. No, being pro-life is not easy, but nothing of such importance can be.

This brings us to the third parallel. Like George, we in the pro-life movement can get discouraged to the point where we consider stopping our work. At the moment, some campus pro-life clubs are having to go to court for the right to exist. Talks are being shouted down and protests prevented. We may seem to be, as George seemed to be, in an untenable position. Fortunately, we already know two major things that George learned, that life is wonderful and that everyone should have the chance to be born and contribute to their world. When Clarence was fighting to save George’s life, it seemed at first like a losing battle. However, he didn’t give up and neither should we.

A Pro-life Hero Passes Away

By Alana Beddoe

On Dec 3rd, pro-life leader Heather Stilwell passed away with her family by her side. Stilwell was recently honoured at the International Pro-life Conference in Ottawa with the Mother Theresa award. At that event she declared, “I will fight abortion until the day I die.”

Heather Stilwell worked as a school trustee for 15 years and was a founding member of the Christian Heritage Party. She also served as the president of the Pro-life Society of BC. Even in her illness, she taught about the value of life and dying with dignity. I have the pleasure of knowing one of Heather’s daughters, who spoke of the wonderful opportunity to hold her hand, pray and listen to music with her in the last few weeks of her life.

More information about Heather Stilwell and the award she received can be found here.

What’s Wrong With an Emotional Response?

by Kate Larson

The October 4th arrest of students at Carleton University about to take part in the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), the display of graphic posters comparing abortion to the Holocaust and similar atrocities, made me think about the use of images in discussions of abortion. At both this year’s and last year’s abortion debates hosted by Ottawa Students for Life, the pro-choice speakers re-iterated the common argument that the use of images of abortion in discussions of the subject is intellectually dishonest and emotionally manipulative. This implies a number of things: firstly that images are being used in place of logical arguments, rather than to enhance them or to promote discussion of them, secondly that words are somehow neutral and have no manipulative power of their own, and lastly that emotions have no place in just decision-making.

            The National Campus Life Network website is just one place where rational arguments against abortion are laid out clearly and compellingly. No images are used to fill logical holes. There are no holes to fill. As for the OSFL debates, full logical justification of the pro-life position was given. A short video was shown of an abortion being performed, and the audience was warned that it might be disturbing and that they were welcome to cover their eyes or turn away if they wished. The video did not substitute for any argument, but only served to remind the audience, if they chose to view it, of the reality of something that is too horrifying for words to adequately convey.

            This brings us to the emotional resonance of words. Words can be carefully chosen to increase or decrease the emotional impact of what a person is saying. They are certainly not mere servants of fact. One has only to consider how abortion is often referred to in society to see that. Terms such as “a woman’s right to choose” or umbrella terms such as “reproductive rights”, “reproductive freedom”, “reproductive choice”, and “body rights” are not factual references, they are names chosen to make the killing of babies sound positive, desirable, and even necessary. It seems to me there can be no intellectual honesty and lack of emotional manipulation in a position that doesn’t even properly name what it attempts to justify.

            Why do we debate issues such as abortion? We do so because we do not live by logic alone. The desire to make just decisions is motivated not by statistics or cost-benefit analysis but by love and compassion for others and hope that our society will be better for everyone if we do what is right and oppose what is wrong. Logical argument is important, but it is this love and compassion and hope that makes us more than automatons and ought to help ensure that we do not blithely allow innocent human beings to be killed. Of course people will have an emotional response to images of abortion: the images are awful. They are also real and no amount of rhetoric is going to make them seem positive, desirable, or necessary.