By Dr. David Franks, Chairman of the Board of Massachusetts Citizens for Life
When a man joins with a woman and a new human life comes into existence, a new father is created. Nothing will ever change the fact, no matter how long the child lives. The man has become a father and, especially the first time it happens (if natural dynamisms have not been short-circuited), once he’s made aware of the fact, he begins to grow into the specific responsibility that is paternity, his soul gestating within the womb of the providential universe—unto a new form of care.
This year’s Mass. March for Life took place two weekends ago, on Father’s Day. This conjunction inspires meditation upon the necessity of paternal care to generate a culture of life.
I’ve come across no better expression of this nexus than what the great French poet Charles Péguy writes in The Portal of the Mystery of Hope. He understands that the world goes on solely because of children, and a father strains like Atlas to sustain the world—even to make it ramify beyond inertia.
“My three virtues, says God./Master of the Three Virtues./My three virtues are no different than men and women in their homes./Children are never the ones who work./But no one ever works except for children./It’s never the child who goes to the field, who tills and who sows, and who reaps and who harvests the grapes and who trims the vine and who fells the trees and who cuts the wood./For winter./To warm the house in winter./But would the father have the heart to work if he didn’t have his children./If it weren’t for the sake of his children.”
These weeks have also seen the tragic spectacle on our southern border, with children taken away from mothers and fathers. I have some sense of what a father might feel to have his children ripped away, and I tell you that no one of moral feeling, and certainly no one with a Christian conscience, should entertain the thought without being filled with zeal for justice. Unjustified state violation of the integrity of the family is transgression of one of the most basic principles of social ethics: subsidiarity. And when subsidiarity is violated with regard to families, maternal and paternal care is destroyed and new life is endangered at the root.
A few months ago, I noted (concerning the tragedy of Alfie Evans) that, regardless of the complexity of the medical issues involved, the principle of subsidiarity cannot be abrogated except under the most extreme of situations. The nation-state, the supreme artifice of modernity, is, I believe, a necessary thing, a good thing, but it is also a dangerous thing, given the chthonic pull of nationalism (not to be conflated with patriotism) and the totalitarian tendencies of the bureaucratic administration of life. Without subsidiarity, the state (and the atomized populace of such a state), forget the most basic human decencies and the most basic hedges on popular/bureaucratic overreach. These are perilous times for basic human rights, and a child’s right to live and flourish requires remembering that the modern nation is no sacrosanct god and there are rights no power on earth may violate (the right to life, the right to freedom of conscience, etc.) So, we must also bear in mind the artificiality of the nation-state when thinking about borders, because the free movement of people is an ab-original right, absolutely pre-dating the emergence of the nation.
Of course MCFL takes no position on the specifics of immigration reform. But it is every pro-lifer’s responsibility to maintain the inviolability of subsidiarity, and preeminently when it comes to the right of familial integrity over against state claims. Certainly, subsidiarity cannot be usurped by the state for something so far down the line of positive law (versus the human rights of natural law) as the maintenance of borders.
As Pope Leo XIII puts it in Rerum novarum: “Provided, therefore, the limits which are prescribed by the very purposes for which it exists be not transgressed, the family has at least equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of the things needful to its preservation and its just liberty. We say, ‘at least equal rights’; for, inasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature. If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.
“The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them. But the rulers of the commonwealth must go no further; here, nature bids them stop. Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State; for it has the same source as human life itself.”
Family integrity, and parental care, have everything to do with the sanctity of human life, its creation and its development. You can’t honor one without honoring the other.
It is also incumbent upon pro-lifers, given the actual political pathways open to us, to note that allowing the Republican Party to collapse into racism and xenophobia would be a disaster for the pro-life cause as a civic movement strictly speaking. Obviously, a pro-lifer cannot support a racist party, and given that the Democratic Party is zealously committed to the legal right to privately execute unborn children, we cannot allow demagogically fanned racism fester among Republicans.
A father’s heart keeps growing with the gestation and birth and raising of his children. It grows and grows within and towards the limitless horizons of the good Father’s love, Who looks upon all the dwellers of the earth with care. Life requires expansive and expanding love in the heart of fathers.
Sunday, June 17 was a wonderfully warm Father's Day in lots of ways. Enthusiastic pro-lifers at MCFL’s Massachusetts March enjoyed inspirational music by the Delmore Band and responded with cheers to poignant messages from leaders who represented a wide range of organizations helping to save unborn lives.
Fr. Sheehan led the March to the State House and through the streets of the city returning to the Parkman Bandstand enabling all to publicly witness their genuine respect and love for the dignity of human life.
Hospital Spent Nearly $200,000 on Lawyers to Pull Plug on Toddler Alfie Evans’ Life Support
From Life News:
The hospital in England that removed the life support of British toddler Alfie Evans in April over the objections of his parents spent more than $190,000 in lawyers’ fees in the legal battle that ended in the termination of the 23-month-old’s life support.
The actual amount spent by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, was likely much higher, because the $191,584 doesn’t include what was spent during the last week of March and four weeks in April, the BBC reported Saturday.
The financial expenditure is the latest insight into what occurred during the extensive legal battle waged by the hospital to pull the plug on Alfie’s life support. It said doing so was in the seriously ill child’s “best interests.”
Alfie, from Bootle, Merseyside, suffered from a degenerative brain condition. He had been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year, according to the BBC.
Alfie’s case drew international attention, even prompting Pope Francis to offer support to the child’s parents, who wanted to take Alfie to a hospital in Italy.
But Alder Hey ultimately won the court case and ended Alfie’s life support on April 23. He died five days later.
The revelation of the legal expenditures—resulting from a freedom of information request—drew a harsh rebuke from the toddler’s aunt, Sarah Evans.
“We had a hospital [to take Alfie to]. We had the money to take him elsewhere. We had the plane ready. We had Alfie fighting, and they paid this to kill him? Ask yourselves why,” she wrote on Facebook.
Robert Moffit, a senior fellow with the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, said that there’s a lesson to be learned from Alfie’s case for those on this side of the Atlantic.
“For Americans, this British case is a teachable moment,” Moffit said. “Government control of health care is government power over health care. In such a system, the exercise of personal freedom requires the bureaucrats’ permission slip.”
Alfie’s father, Thomas Evans, hinted that more information about the toddler’s final days would be released in the coming weeks.
“We wanted everyone to know that, in time as we grieve, we will be speaking out further to the buildup to Alfie’s death, and we will be speaking out the truth and in detail about the week that we had to go through,” Evans wrote on Facebook, referring to the final five days of Alfie’s life.
“No other parent should ever, ever go through [this],” Evans wrote.
LifeNews Note: Jeremiah Poff writes for The Daily Signal, where this column originally appeared.
By Anne Fox -
Some (many) times it is so embarrassing to live in the Commonwealth! James Antle lll, in "Ubuntu" an article in Chronicles of American Culture, lets the cat out of the bag about abortion and the Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge.
Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, another charming lady who happens to be the dean of EDS identified one apparent exception to Ubuntu: the “blessing” of abortion, whereby a woman can become a whole person by terminating her relationship with the “other” in her womb—even if it is a purely elective abortion undergone by a woman who “becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship” and “has every option open to her,” but nevertheless “decides she does not wish to bear a child.”
After all, says Ragsdale, “The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.” Perhaps fearing she might be misunderstood, Ragsdale continued:
“These are the two things I want you, please, to remember—abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.” She then repeated the second part of the sentence three times to make sure no one missed out on the gospel according to "St." Margaret Sanger.
By Anne Fox - Charles Krauthammer has announced that he has only a few weeks to live. He said, "I leave this life with no regrets...It was a wonderful life -- full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended."
During the battle leading up to passage of Obamacare, I found Krauthammer's analyses of what was wrong with the proposed policy and what should be done to be incredibly helpful. He had the best insight available and I will always be grateful.
I remembered, also, that he had made some very good points on abortion. When Clinton was elected, Krauthammer regretfully thought the abortion fight was over. This was one of the few times when he was completely wrong.
He complimented the Catholic Church for leading the fight against abortion and pointed out that it wasn't just the selling of baby parts that Planned Parenthood wanted to cover up. It was the fact of what really happens in their so-called "clinics".
Concerning abortion, he felt that what was morally right should be enshrined in law and wrote: "The role of democratic politics is to turn such moral sensibilities into law. This is a moment to press relentlessly for a national ban on late-term abortions."
Krauthammer did what any intelligent, fair-minded person would do, he came down on the side of the babies.
I'll be praying for him!
Photo by Washington Examiner
By Nancy Valko -
Surprising Twist to a Good News Story You May Have Seen
TV and social media are reporting a wonderful story about Dr. Eric Voigt and Nicole McGuinness. Dr. Voigt, an ENT physician, was watching the “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” TV show (one of my own semi-guilty pleasures) when he noticed that a woman on the show named Nicole McGuiness seemed to have a suspicious lump in her neck. Alarmed, Dr. Voigt turned to Facebook find her and urge her to get the lump checked. Nicole had her lump checked and it was thyroid cancer. She will be starting treatment soon and is very grateful to Dr. Voigt for his sharp eye.
However, this story has a surprising twist.
Nicole was diagnosed in December 2015 with a glioblastoma cancer in her brain at age 29 and was successfully treated and doing well after almost 3 years.
Ironically, Brittany Maynard was also 29 and had a glioblastoma brain cancer when she decided to move from California to Oregon, a state that legalized assisted suicide in 1997. She and her family moved to Oregon so that Brittany could commit physician-assisted suicide before her symptoms became more severe. The date she chose was November 1, 2014. Brittany also agreed to help Compassion and Choices (the former Hemlock Society) use her story to raise funds with the goal of legalizing physician-assisted suicide throughout the US.
After weeks of widespread and sympathetic media coverage, Brittany did take a doctor-prescribed lethal overdose on her planned date.
Ironically and 5 months later, CBS’s TV show “60 Minutes” reported on an innovative treatment for glioblastoma brain cancer . And, as I wrote in my blog “Could Brittany Maynard Have Been Saved?”, this innovative treatment was granted breakthrough status by the FDA in 2016.
No one will never know if Brittany could have been one of the people this treatment could help.
CALIFORNIA AND PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE
The first target state for Compassion and Choices’ campaign for legalizing assisted suicide after Brittany’s assisted suicide was her home state of California. Both Brittany’s mother and husband went to California to support a physician-assisted suicide bill. Although the bill apparently died in committee, Governor Jerry Brown called a special legislative session to deal with healthcare spending where the assisted suicide bill was resurrected and passed. Governor Brown then signed it into law in October, 2015. Over 100 people died by assisted suicide in the first six months after the law took effect.
However just last month, a California judge overturned the law stating that the California Legislature violated the law by passing it outside of the scope of health care spending which was given as the reason for a special session and thus was unconstitutional.
This decision was quickly appealed by the California attorney general to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals who upheld the judge’s decision.
Now Compassion and Choices has filed an appeal on behalf of a palliative care doctor and two terminally ill patients in California to get California’s law back into law.
Stay tuned for further developments.
As a former oncology and hospice nurse, I pray that Nicole has a speedy recovery from her thyroid cancer and I am still saddened by Brittany’s assisted suicide but assisted suicide is not a remedy for cancer.
I remember when just a few decades ago, AIDS was the poster disease for legalizing assisted suicide. Then it became terminal cancer after AIDS became treatable. Now the scary poster disease is Alzheimer’s.
And that’s how the slippery slope works.
Instead, we need realistic hope and real support for people and their families dealing with difficult situations rather than just offering the “solution” of death.
By Don Feder - Two celebrity suicides just days apart – a celebrated chef and a fashion icon. Both were said to be depressed. Big news -- like happy people kill themselves.
Both hung themselves, painfully emphasizing their sense of alienation and aloneness.
There are over 45,000 suicides a year in this country. That’s more than twice the number of homicides. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death -- the 2nd. among those 18 to 34.
The CDC tells us that over the past two decades, suicide rates have increased 25% in the United States. Why? If the rate of cancer deaths went up by 25%, scientists would be frantic to discover the cause.
Look to the culture.
The decline of faith. Church attendance is in a tailspin. In a 4-year period (between 2014 and 2017), the number of Catholics who told Gallup they went to church weekly fell from 45% to 39%. Faith and hope, without the one, you can’t have the other.
Fragmentation. The digital age makes us less and less connected. Who has time for conversations anymore? We used to talk face-to-face or on the phone. Now we e-mail or text. Instead of marrying, we have “relationships.”
Consider the movies on cable television: sadistic, nihilistic, ugly, cruel and filled with rage and despair. The last pictures I saw that offered hope were set almost 80 years in the past (“Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour”).
Increasing mental-health budgets won’t cure our sickness of our soul. Prayer, reaching out and speaking sanity to stupidity might.
Fake News: The U.S. Supreme Court, Alabama, and a "gag rule".Read more