Abortion is typically presented by its advocates as a women’s issue, but pro-lifers know better. As Vicki Thorn, who founded Project Rachel, has taught: unborn children will only be protected when both men and women come together on their behalf. In this month of Father’s Day, The Interim salutes a few good men who are boldly defending life and family.
In the mountains of British Columbia, Dr. Philip Ney is teaching others to facilitate the healing of abortion through his Mount Joy College and Hope Alive training. Ney, a psychiatrist and psychologist, is married to Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, a pediatrician. Together, they are the parents of one child. “Having a child keeps us from being too theoretical. It reminds us that little people … are real people. Even very young children are people, no matter how far you go back!”
Ney has been the mentor and adviser for many children, directly and indirectly: patients and clients of himself and his trainees, and children whom he will never meet and for whose right to life he has advocated. He says that men in this country should study the Canada gander: “There is a very good example of what men should do: they stand guard over the nest and if any threat comes their way, they’re the first to get it!” Ney recently observed a flock of geese swimming near his home. The little ones followed the gander, not the goose. “Men ought to know that if they support their partner who’s pregnant, the partner is able to support the baby … The church or community supports the father … Unless you support the father to support his partner, you actually increase the chances she will have an abortion.”
In Winnipeg, Scott Miller is the pastor of Assiniboine Pentecostal Church, as well as director of a soup kitchen and the local Rachel’s Vineyard site. He has lost one child to abortion and with his wife, lost two more to miscarriage. Now, the couple have adopted a child.
Miller, who has apologized to the nation for the abortion, wants men to know that God is willing to forgive all sins. He sees abortion not as a women’s issue, but as “a family issue, a cultural issue.” Expectant men “need support, they need help and they need encouragement and affirmation that they are worthy of bringing that child to term and that they can do it.” Assisting others with reconciliation and conversion to God goes hand in hand with his own ongoing learning. “As you minister to other people, God ministers to you,” as in showing a man his blindspots and healing him more and more.
In Ottawa, David MacDonald is offering his performance talent back to the Lord. MacDonald, who once was an ambitious Broadway star, lost his voice completely at age 24, following the first of two abortions in which he was involved. After three years, he regained his voice, but did not return to musicianship for another seven years. He is now committed to celibacy and works exclusively for God as a sign of his obedience and healing. “I’m doing now what the Lord appointed me for, probably before I was born,” he says. He sees his secular success as only a preparation for his service of the Gospel and his defence of life.
MacDonald’s first major CD release, The Pro-Life Pro Family Collection, came out in time for this year’s March for Life (see www.DavidMacD.com). It includes 11 songs, as well as his testimony. He has composed the March for Life theme songs for the past five years and has recently become the host of “Bridging the Gap,” a weekly Catholic show on CHRI, an Ottawa Christian station. MacDonald, who is active in the recovery movement, mentors others while helping his family to care for two orphaned nephews.
He advocates strong masculinity for all men in response to abortion. “Men need to know that it’s okay to feel responsible” if they have been actively involved in abortion, rather than just blaming the mother. In his experience, the grieving process for a man “is every bit as dynamic as the woman’s experience.” MacDonald tells men who are not post-abortive “they need to get involved in this issue … As Christian men, we’re called to take a certain level of leadership, and … that’s just the way the Scripture lays it out for us. We’re called to that and we’ve been beaten down by a radical feminist society that is really abusive to women by neutering men! … Men need to be spiritual fathers to the unborn.”
In Whitby, Ont., Walter Steenstra has spiritually adopted three unborn children: two that his wife, Angelina, lost to abortion, and one they lost together to a subsequent ectopic pregnancy. The couple maintains relationships with the unborn children they have mourned.
The first step in the spiritual adoption process was for Steenstra to accept the blessing of fatherhood. “I need to realize that I have a family and I am a father to three children that are with God, two of whom were fathered by another man.” The second step was to “own” the children as his, to keep them before himself and a third was to name them and commend them to God. “In the words of John Paul II, nothing is definitively lost.”
Steenstra, who is Catholic, asks the children to intercede for the family on earth during times of need. “My need is to have children and it is empty without (them), so spiritually adopting the children makes me aware that I’m a father, even though I don’t have children on earth … I am always aware of them. This helps me to know my life has a meaning and a value … It makes me less self-centred.” Steenstra receives from the relationships a motivation to be of service and to be connected to his nieces and nephews. “It moves my life toward the other,” integrates the marital union and ensures he shares all aspects of life with his wife. Thus, he is involved with her in apostolates like Second Chance Ministry and Silent No More. Steenstra recommends the spiritual adoption process to all men open to claiming unborn children, “because all men are fathers.”