Pro-life more than anti-abortion
Being pro-life means more than just being anti-abortion.
That was the message brought by the co-founder of the Planned Parenthood-watchdog organization Life Decisions International to the National Pro-Life Conference. In her closing, keynote address, Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge said a pro-lifer’s attitudes, words, and actions must reflect a consistent ethic.
“Pro-life means different things to different people. I have witnessed very odd inconsistencies among those who call themselves pro-life, over my 20 years in the pro-life movement,” she said. “Many sincere activists have not spent time thinking (about) what it means to be pro-life … Pro-life means setting a good example, not just by our words, but by our actions.”
Bainbridge said being pro-life means being opposed to abortion for any
one at any time for any reason. “One is not pro-life … if one approves of abortions under exceptions.”
If the pro-life movement is to become more effective, it is imperative that name-calling and undermining of efforts that frequently plague the movement cease. “Let’s oppose the evil, not one another. We need pro-life people respecting each other and treating each other in ethical ways.”
She noted differences often occur between so-called “total protectionists” and “incrementalists,” who differ over the best strategy to achieve pro-life goals.
Being pro-life also means “being there” for our families, loving both the woman and her preborn child, caring for the elderly, promoting adoption, and providing compassionate care for the disabled and dying, she said.
“Being pro-life also means not using abortifacient birth control—the “morning-after pill,” Depo-Provera, Norplant and so on,” she said. “Being pro-life means being against reproductive technologies that destroy tiny, unborn human beings.”
A pro-life person should also be concerned with issues relating to organ and tissue transplantation. “Medical experts today are predicting the use of neo-morts … Beating-heart cadavers are being used throughout the world. 60 Minutes ran a story on the removal of organs from not-yet-dead patients.”
Other aspects of being pro-life include not using fetal tissue, rejecting comprehensive sex education, teaching and modelling chastity, and rejecting racism, she said.
“What we need is sincere people with proper motives … We don’t want to be pro-life by conviction, but pro-choice by default.”
Bainbridge noted that God is the Creator and sustainer of human life, and that human beings have value because they are created by God. “This has served as my motivation to evaluate my pro-life beliefs,” she said. ‘Being there’
“We must strive to drown evil with an abundance of God,” she said. Referring to our obligation to care for those in need right around us, especially in our own families, she concluded,
“Pro-life, sometimes, means just being there.”
Truth, honour needed in politics
The moral, social, and cultural dilemmas facing Canada are so enormous as to leave one “wretching and incapable of response,” says Senator Anne Cools.
“The most enormous problem facing us today is discerning that which is true, honourable, and just,” she said, after quoting the Biblical passage Philippians 4:8, which speaks of the importance of dwelling on such things. She added that because there is a “deconstruction” of Judeo-Christian principles taking place in Canada today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to apply needed discernment to important issues. Also, those concerned about bringing truth, honour, and justice to the public square are marginalized in debates and discussions.
Cools spoke at the plenary session, “Canada: Who’s in Charge?” at the National Pro-Life Conference. She has been a Liberal senator from Ontario since 1984. Noted as a leader in the creation of social services to help battered women, families in crisis, and families troubled by domestic violence, in recent years Cools has gained notoriety for not following politically-correct lines, and for often being at odds with her Liberal colleagues.
She currently serves on the special Senate-Commons committee on child custody and access, as well as the Senate standing committee on social affairs, science, and technology.
In her address, Cools noted that her refusal to kowtow to party or politically-correct dictates has often left her as marginalized as others concerned about truth, honour, and justice in public debate.
She said the primary question in politics concerns the issue of which authority is to command the loyalty of the citizenry. “I’m a strong parliamentary sovereigntist … (I favour) legislatures that are accountable and answerable.” She added that the Supreme Court has been manipulated into playing a political role, thanks in part to Pierre Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There’s been a coup d’etat. We’re looking at courts as organs of raw political power.”
“The best interest of a child is now interpreted to mean what any judge says it is,” she said, noting that the Supreme Court has been known to refer to a parent as “an interested observer.” The solutions to Canada’s problems rest ultimately on Canadians’ ability to work together, she said.
Cools said the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the infamous Morgentaler case, the 1988 decision which left Canada lawless with regard to abortion, indicates just how convoluted our thinking has become. “It is getting too difficult to determine the principles that are being breached and the principles that need to be affirmed.”
The concept of security of the person that the Supreme Court enunciated as paramount “was never intended to apply to abortion,” she said, adding that falling back on such a concept was simply a way for the court to get away from the precepts of time-tested law.
Another problem lies in parliamentarians’ inability to keep up with the complexity of the issues that confront them daily. “So many issues become arcane and cryptic that they pass by most members of Parliament,” she said.
On another front, Canada is losing its history and heritage as a result of the same deconstructive processes that have torn at the Judeo-Christian foundations the country was built on.
“There is an agenda in this country marching swiftly and certainly forward … We are living in an era where to uphold truth, honour, and justice results in unspeakable provocation,” she said. “Any person who attempts to express concern for the unborn will find themselves under attack. It is no longer fashionable to speak on behalf of the unborn.”
Cools said that when Ottawa-area resident Brenda Drummond was charged with trying to kill her preborn child by shooting him while still in her womb, an icy silence descended on Parliament Hill, because parliamentarians were reluctant to deal with the issue.
Warnings about gene research
The start of research into a complete human gene map by the U.S. government 10 years ago has plunged us into a “totally different world,” says a psychometrist and social science researcher who works for Toronto’s deVeber Institute.
“The goal by 2005 is to have mapped and sequenced every gene in the human body,” says Elizabeth Cassidy. The project began in 1988 and is working with a generous $3 billion a year (US) in funding. In Canada, genetic research is estimated to be $181-million-a-year field.
Cassidy spoke at a workshop on the human genome project, during the National Pro-Life Conference.
“We’re looking at a change in how they’re testing for genetic defects,” she said, adding that arguments are beginning to erupt over whether it is ethical to test a child in the womb for a “defect” that may turn up at age 50.
“The human genome project at present is purely descriptive … (but) will there be an incentive to move to treatment? The ethical side of things is so far behind what is happening in medicine, it’s unreal. And their ethics are not our ethics.”
Cassidy said a study of “genetic enhancement”—otherwise known as eugenics—is currently underway. “There is already discrimination against people with genetic diseases … (Eventually) employers will expect genetic reports on their employees.”
She noted that things have progressed to the point where it is now possible to test for a wide range of factors, including schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism, nicotine dependency, anti-social behavior, and panic disorders. “It is an absolutely frightening list of possibilities.”
She added China already has an expressed policy of eugenics and, perhaps not coincidentally, this year’s international genetics congress is scheduled to be held in Beijing.
Cassidy said sex-selection abortions are already taking place on a large scale in developing countries—a phenomenon that is creating “major problems” for the feminist mentality. “They are turning themselves inside-out trying to condemn abortions for sex-selection purposes. It’s hard.”
On another front, the current environment has proven fatal for preborn children with conditions such as Down syndrome. In fact, said Cassidy, a born Down syndrome child is often looked upon as one who “slipped through,” and may well be the focal point of so-called wrongful-birth lawsuits.
Elsewhere, human-tissue banks are being developed and genes are being cloned. “If you believe in ethics as being an institutional decision, it really doesn’t matter what you do,” said Cassidy. “You’re going to have issues over patenting rights. How much do you test for? What about the ‘moral’ obligation to abort?”
“The bizarre part of the whole thing is: how do you get tested, and why? The literature says it is unethical to test for defects unless a woman is prepared to abort.”
Cassidy said the complexity of genetics is beginning to place enormous pressures on expectant couples who have not philosophically worked out these issues. Matters are made worse by medical professionals who tend to bombard couples with statistics on what could go wrong.
“In genetic counselling, couples often get the problems,” she said. “What can be done about it? Pro-life groups have to start talking about this seriously.”