Saturday, November 22, 2014

Love is the Solution

     In June there was a free vote in Quebec for bill 52 titled “An Act respecting end-of-life care.” The bill states the specific requirements for one to receive “aid in dying”—permission for a physician to administer life-ending drugs to an “end of life” patient. Votes were in favour. The bill was deemed a matter of criminal code (federal level) instead of health care (provincial) and so could not take effect. But the conversation is thick in the air and the Supreme Court is now hearing cases for the legalization of assisted suicide. End of life matters are so much more visible than unborn matters. People are sympathetic because they can see the pain individuals are in. With the same mentality as those who would advise a woman to abort a child with a positive Down Syndrome diagnosis, so too people wish the sick, the dying, the suffering to be able to escape the pain into death. It seems that there is much fear in suffering, in aging. There will always be suffering in the world. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be good in that suffering. I want to live in a world where we solve problems instead of killing people.

     In our pursuit for the protection of life from conception to natural death it seems difficult to discuss “assisted dying.” Seeing someone at the end of their life—suffering—causes much emotional pain. But killing to end pain is such a heart breaking ‘solution.’ To those of us who have had pain in our lives we know that it isn’t about ending our life to stop the pain but receiving love and support from loved ones and health care professionals. Improving how people are treated and viewed is the solution. Love is the solution.

     We know there is hope. We know that as we improve palliative care, as we seek to comfort and love the sick and dying, that fewer people desire euthanasia. If people who are treated properly don’t desire euthanasia then the problem can’t be that ‘aid in dying’ isn’t available but that people feel useless, unloved, and burdensome. As we seek to uphold the dignity of life from conception to natural death we must not forget those on the other side of the spectrum. Their lives are being threatened. Instead of killing people let us seek to heal them with all the love and respect we can give. 

- by Ashley Vandermeer

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Best Gift the Giver Could Give

       Imagine a world without pain, a world without fear, hunger, worry, or illness - a seemingly perfect world. This is the society of "The Giver"... So, how can we reach this “ideal” in our own society? It seems we've begun to apply the same methods referenced in the book and movie. They take out pain, choice, fear and illness, along with dignity, love and a full life.

       First and foremost, there is the problem of pain. So many things cause pain, but we can hide or avoid them, at least until we pass that pain onto someone else. For the pain we can't displace to others, we can keep it hidden so that we don't have to deal with that bothersome "compassion" that makes us feel others’ pain as if it were our own. We have gotten pretty good at this already: hiding the blood from abortions so that mothers are numb to the reality that their children are dead, hiding the truth of post-abortion effects and hiding graphic images - all like the Elders, who hid the community from the true nature of things. Through the manipulation of language, it is quite easy to be indifferent to injustices; for example, using "product of conception", "fetus", and "abortion" instead of "baby" and "murder". We just can't let people like Jonas realize that "[our society] hadn’t eliminated murder, [we] had brought it home. [We] had just called it by a different name.”
Another issue is choice. We all value the ability to choose. To get rid of the responsibility that comes along with choice, we first have to get rid of that notion of 'wrong' that's so objective. Therefore the assumption is made that all choices are good choices. Sometimes this means the freedom to choose is valued more than life itself. But what could be more valuable than life itself?

       The other task we must accomplish if we want a world like that in “The Giver” is to take away fear - that unpleasant emotion indicating that we could experience pain. We have become experts in suppressing and ignoring fear instead of sharing that burden with others. In the film, the Giver must take on all the painful memories, just as we leave the post-abortion mothers to hold all her suffering without support. For instance, imagine a mother who wants to keep her baby but has run out of savings, lost her job, and is homeless. Of course she wants what is good for her child, but she is afraid…and left alone in her fear (adapted real examples from http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/09/my-year-as-an-abortion-doula.html). We need to get rid of this fear, so we get rid of the pregnancy.

       Difference causes discrimination, envy, abnormalities - so the end goal is to get to Sameness, as they do in the story. Illness, one cause of difference, is quite easy to eliminate: just don't allow fetal abnormalities to reach birth. The defective old and young are just removed in the book. This would be much more difficult if love existed in “The Giver”. Blood families are separated to prevent the mother from loving her child, or seeing that the child loves her back – just as mothers in our society are told to abort before they meet their babies. Society avoids the risk of realizing that the pain is worth the "love" that is being removed. That raw, true love that means you must feel fear and pain for someone else. That love that accepts no lies - society's widespread lies regarding the "products of conception" as opposed to a human being, and the lies of philosophy that strip that human of dignity.

       In the end there is no way to completely rid our society of fighters and defenders of life over choice. There will always be people like Jonas who know deep down that "for Gabriel there would have been no life at all. So there had not really been a choice." (pg. 174) There will always be people like Fiona (in the movie) who know something is "stolen", not lost…"something more" - more than the poverty, pain, fear, and fleeting pleasures that were eliminated in “The Giver”. It seems a society like this cannot exist for long, so life-advocates just have to fight and wait like the Giver. We need to wait until people experience love themselves, remember or learn the truth, remember that death isn't simply Elsewhere, and that people and pain can't simply be forgotten…these ideas weren't accepted "back and back and back".

       Jonas learned to love by seeing and experiencing love himself. Then he was compelled to sacrifice himself, accepting the pain he and others would feel so that the community could know the happiness and goodness that a full life brings. You need pain to appreciate pleasure. Death is only tragic if life is precious and full. A full life is one that respects the dignity of others' lives as really "something more". The moral of the story is that a full life - dignity and love and life - is the best gift the Giver could give.

- by Jonathan Conte

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Apologetics Tips

At one of our recent meetings we discussed many different road blocks you meet in a conversation about abortion and how to work through them. The following is a list of things you might hear while discussing abortion and some responses that might be useful. Keep in mind that you should always find common ground before challenging someone on their beliefs about abortion. Why? People are not pro-choice because they want to kill babies – they’re usually pro-choice because they are compassionate towards women. We need to show them that their compassion for the mother is beautiful and good, and then encourage them to extend that compassion to the fetus being carried by the mother! 

1)   Statement: It’s just a clump of cells.
Response: I am too! I’m just a bigger clump of cells than a fetus.

2)   Statement: Abortion should be allowed if the mother was raped.
Response: I believe the rapist should be punished for his crime with a severe sentence...but should the child be given the death sentence for the actions of his/her father?

3)   Statement: The fetus is part of the mother.
Response: Scientifically the fetus is not actually a part of the mother, but a separate entity from the mother. Certainly the mother is carrying the fetus inside her body, but the fetus is not part of her. For example, the mother could be carrying a male fetus in her womb (which is determined from the moment of conception). The child is male and she is female – they cannot be the same individual. This is also clear if you look at the other components of a woman’s body. Her organs service her body: her lungs allow her to breathe…her kidneys filter her blood. The baby is not just another organ in her body but instead a separate human organism in her womb that is not present to service her body.

4)   Statement: I cannot have an opinion about abortion because I am a man.
Response: If I had my two year old beside me and I was going to kill her, would you stop me? (Of course) Why? (Because it’s wrong to kill her) Why is it wrong? (Because you’re killing a human being) Why would you protect a two year old and not the child in my womb? You are a human being and therefore you have every right to protect all other human beings from being killed, including those still unborn.

5)   Statement: If the pregnancy could kill the mother, she should be able to have an abortion.
Response: I believe any woman with health concerns in pregnancy should have access to necessary treatment. For example, I believe a woman with cancer should be able to receive chemotherapy or radiation to treat her cancer even though this will likely kill the child in her womb. Cancer therapy aims to treat the woman’s medical condition; abortion aims to kill a human being. These are fundamentally different options even though the fetus may die when the woman receives the appropriate therapy for her health condition. A therapeutic abortion is never necessary for women with health conditions.  

6)   Statement: It’s not a person.
Response: Do you believe in human rights? Do you believe in human rights for all human beings? Human life begins at the moment of conception, therefore the unborn should receive the same human right to life that we have. Also, women were not considered persons until 1929…the law has been wrong before and the status of personhood has been denied to millions around the world in the past.

7)   Statement: It’s not even human…it’s a ‘potential human’.
Response: Science tells us that human life begins at the moment of conception when a new individual is formed with a unique set of DNA with forty six chromosomes distinct from its parents. (Check out the science in any reputable biology or embryology textbook or at: https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html)

8)   Statement: It’s a parasite.
Response: If something has human parents, is it human offspring?

9)   Statement: It doesn’t look like us.
Response: We must judge appearance based on a human’s level of development. You do not judge a newborn by the standard appearance of a two year old, so why would you judge a fetus by the standard appearance of a newborn? The fetus looks like what it’s supposed to look like for its level of development.



         I have one other tip to offer you today for conversations about abortion: be as loving as you can be! Many people have been personally wounded by abortions and are not ready to speak about abortion from a solely scientific or logical perspective. Let them know that you are pro-life, pro-dignity, and pro-respect for them as well as every other human being.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Apologetics Night

       The following is a review of our apologetics meeting on September 24th. Most of the information comes directly from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (see #7 for link).

          1)      To engage in pro-life apologetics means to defend the pro-life position effectively
            in conversation.
2)      The choice to have an abortion or not to have an abortion should not be based on subjective opinions; it should be based on the objective truth that human life begins at fertilization.
3)      We are all pro-choice and anti-choice depending on the choices that are presented to us. For example, we are anti-choice as a nation towards stealing because the choice to steal is recognized as an objectively bad choice. We are pro-choice as a nation towards different colours of clothing because wearing a red shirt is not objectively better or worse than a blue shirt.
4)      A discussion is not a lecture. You need to be genuinely interested in what this person believes about abortion. Both verbal and non-verbal communication are important for this…just watch this video and you’ll understand:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmA2ClUvUY
5)      One way to engage someone in dialogue is to use the following three steps:
a.       Find common ground
b.      Tell a story (‘trot out a toddler’)
c.       Ask a question
6)    Many people are unaware that human life begins at conception. The following three questions can help them come to this conclusion for themselves:
             a.     If something is growing, is it living?
             b.     If something has human parents, is it human offspring?
             c.     Humans have human rights, don't they?
7)      SLED is a good tool to use when explaining the differences between the fetus and us, and why these differences don’t give us grounds to abort:
a.       Size
b.      Level of Development
c.       Environment
d.      Dependency
8)      An EXCELLENT resource to learn more apologetics (WARNING: graphic images on this website): http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/classroom

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Weekend You'll Remember

Last year I attended the National Campus Life Network Symposium, which was not only extremely informative, but also very fun. It was the best use of a weekend I can remember. The days were filled with speakers, workshops and opportunities to network with other participants. I was thoroughly impressed by how much I learned. I have attended many retreats and conferences in the past, and can honestly say that few have been as rewarding as the NCLN Symposium.

NCLN Symposium 2013/2014 Attendees from left to right:
Kasia Lach, Mark Dumbrique,
Christine Helferty, Daniel Cumming, Evan Cassidy
We were taught how to defend the pro-life position, and effectively communicate it to others. I learned about the rights individuals and clubs have on campus. I also learned about things I did not expect, such as human psychology and the history of the pro-life movement. We learned about different pro-life groups, the work that they do, and the different opportunities that are available to share the pro-life message. It was at the symposium where I first heard about a trip to Florida for the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) that I ended up attending last February.

It was not all presentations either. Ever played a game of giant Dutch Blitz? Throughout the weekend there were social opportunities where you could meet other pro-lifers from across the country.  To this day, I have kept in touch with friends I met there.

            I would highly recommend the NCLN symposium to anyone looking to learn more.  It is a great way to become better equipped to defend the pro-life position, meet some amazing people, enjoy good food and have fun while you are at it. What better way to spend a weekend?

By: Evan Cassidy, Attendee of the NCLN Symposium 2013/2014


Friday, May 16, 2014

End the Protest

May 8th marked the annual March for Life. Canadians across the country marched through many cities including Victoria, Edmonton, St. John’s, and of course, outside the steps of Parliament Hill to be voices for those who have not been given the opportunity to speak. Queen’s Alive members and alumni were among the thousands in Ottawa. I was one of the privileged members to be witnessing on the hill too. The day had perfect weather for the march – no mud, no rain, just sun. In fact, it seemed much like a big family reunion. Many people from across Canada travel to Ottawa and look forward to the march as an opportunity to see pro-lifers they have met over the years. Looking around, it wasn’t difficult to see that most people were enjoying the opportunity to reconnect. I found myself similarly enjoying the smiles of pro-life advocates I have met in the past such as CCBR (Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform) worker Stephanie Grey and NCLN (National Campus Life Network) staff members Rebecca Richmond and Kathleen Dunn as the day came to a close. But I was soon reminded that this shouldn’t be how it is.

Why do we have the March for Life? Why are we all meeting on Parliament Hill and stopping traffic and upsetting public transit systems? I was reminded at the NCLN banquet on Thursday evening that the only reason we are all joined together on the hill is because women are being traumatized and babies are being killed in this nation that we call ‘free’. How many more children will our country sacrifice to abortion? How many more men and women will we subject to lost fatherhood and motherhood? The protest exists because the injustice exists. I have often told people that the March for Life is one of my favourite events of the year. It is – and I hope I never have to attend it again as a protest, but rather as a celebration of our country’s decision to eradicate the injustice.



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014-2015 Executive Council



Welcome to our new Queen's Alive Executive!
From left to right:
Maggie McMahon - Treasurer
Ashley Vandermeer - Events Coordinator
Christine Helferty - President
Jonathan Conte - Vice-President
Alessia Dolcetti - Secretary