A Saskatchewan family has not let hardship and loss get in the way of their longstanding commitment to pro-life ideals.
Ken and Rita Wolfe of Saskatoon are the parents of four children, the oldest of whom suffers from Nieman-Pick Type C disease, an extremely rare disorder that obstructs the body’s ability to break down cholesterol. Eventually, the individual affected loses control of most of his or her muscle movements.
There are only about nine known cases of the disease in Canada.
The Wolfes lost a daughter, Meghan, 15, last year. Meghan was diagnosed with the disease at age seven. And now, their next oldest daughter, Shivawn, is in failing health due to the disease.
Before her children were discovered to have the disease, Rita Wolfe was extensively involved with pro-life activities in the province of Saskatchewan.
She now is a frequent guest on radio talk show programs expressing the pro-life position, and speaking out against the growing culture of death in North American society.
Her husband Ken has also been active on the Saskatchewan pro-life scene. He has been a supporter of the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Society, as well as Teen-Aid, a local chastity program for teenagers.
Despite the hardship of losing one daughter and seeing a second afflicted with a terminal illness, the Wolfes continue to stand up for the sanctity of all human life.
During the second trial for Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer, the Wolfes argued against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Latimer was originally charged with murder for the killing of his 12-year-old daughter Tracy, who suffered from a severe form of cerebral palsy.
Latimer placed his daughter in the family truck and attached a hose from the exhaust pipe to the interior. The girl died within minutes of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Despite some premeditation, Latimer was depicted as a compassionate father who took action to put an end his daughter’s suffering. He was found guilty after protracted trials, but in December was given an extremely lenient sentence.
The light sentence was given on the grounds that Latimer’s action was a “compassionate homicide.”
In an interview with The Interim, Rita Wolfe said the initial media coverage of the Latimer case made it difficult for parents of disabled children.
“I saw one newspaper headline suggesting that for Mr. Latimer, killing his daughter was an act of love,” she said. “I wondered how other parents with handicapped children would react to that statement. We simply couldn’t allow him to get away with that definition of love.”
The Wolfes’ struggles to deal with disabilty stood in marked contrast to Robert Latimer’s course of action. To Rita Wolfe, faith backed by the special love for people with disabilities allowed the family to cope with the additional burdens.
The Wolfes’ experience was made into a 10-minute documentary, Shivawn Wolfe – The Other Side of Mercy, which was broadcast on the 100 Huntley Street television program.