Since 1983, the Washington-based Human Life International (HLI) has sponsored a yearly gathering of pro-life scholars, leaders and activists from around the world. This year, 650 people from 27 countries came to Toronto, October 28 to 30, to talk about sex education, in-vitro fertilization, daycarism and other topics.
Some did not than talk. About 50 joined local pro-lifers October 28 in Canada’s first rescue of pre-born children at Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto ‘clinic.’ Police charged Fr. Paul Marx, HLI’s president and founder with assaulting the abortuary’s security guard. The charge was dropped two days later.
Founded in 1981, HLI today fights against the global disrespect for human life in 105 countries. Over 500,000 receive HLI’s English, Spanish and French newsletter.
Belgian doctor Philippe Scheppens, president of the 250,000 member World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life, spoke on the threat in-vitro fertilization (IVF), poses to the survival of mankind itself. IVF researchers are intoxicated with their power to do “better than God” in the transmission of life itself, Scheppens told a shaken audience.
In theory, IVF is the scientific solution to infertile marriages. The egg a woman produces is surgically removed and fertilized in a laboratory dish. If a zygote results, it is implanted in the mother’s womb, there to follow the natural course of development.
Dr. Donald DeMarco, an authority on bio-ethical issues, described this technique for circumventing infertility as the wrong way for a person to repair a leak. Instead of repairing the leak itself, he devises an evermore complex way to evade repairing it. Similarly, the IVF doctor takes a technological shortcut to avoid restoring a woman’s fertility to its natural function, observed DeMarco.
One technological innovation follows another – embryo freezing and superovulation to name two of them – but infertility remains the stubborn reality.
Those who promote in-vitro fertilization defend it on the principle of compassion. But that is not so, DeMarco told The Interim. Its basic principle is a boundless optimism that through technology man can remake man. “My philosophy has always been to try everything humanly possible,” said an IVG scientists in California.”
This is a bad principle, concluded DeMarco. “I see bad principles put into practice as potentially more pernicious and more dangerous than isolated bad experiences…There’s something essentially wrong with IVF in that it honours a principle that alienates parents from their own progeny.”
Dr. William Marra, philosophy professor at Fordham University, defended the essential message of Pope Paul VI’s twenty year old but timely encyclical Humane Vitae.
When husband and wife united in love, God may stir and a new human being arises from that union where one did not exist before. But, Marra explained, husband and wife may push God aside and themselves become lords of the procreative power: “We have this awesome faculty, we understand the possibility, if not the certainty that God…creates an immortal soul, and we simply disrupt that link created by God.” And that is the heart of the moral problem of contraception.
Prof. Marra – 1988’s Right to Life Party candidate for president – is pessimistic about the plague of abortion and contraception infecting civilization. He believes the pro-life movement has the “unique opportunity” to waken consciousness “now with [operation rescue] going on and with the fact that abortions are still bloody.”
Before the turn of the century, Marra predicts, “surgical abortions will almost disappear because of all these chemical abortifacients, and the new impact will be euthanasia.” Then a “more difficult and disheartening” phase in the pro-life movement will have begun in a hedonistic world of ‘invisible’ abortion and ‘death with dignity,’ he said.
Sharing the Right to Life Party ticket with William Marra was Joan Andrews. At the time of her nomination, August 20, the prisoner of conscience was entering her third year in a Florida jail for attempting to disable the suction machine of a Pensacola abortuary.
On October 18, in a Philadelphia-area courtroom, Judge Raymond Novak released Joan Andrews on three-years probation. A week later – to the surprise and joy of the delegates – she was in Toronto, talking about the rescue of children at an HLI conference workshop.
The editor of HLI Reports, John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, spoke first at the same workshop. He began by admitting the tragic fact that for the most part this generation has tolerated legalized child killing.” “Our response with adults and men placing themselves between the executioner and his victim, placing themselves there in order to protect pregnant women and their children, that response has been slow.”
Cavanaugh-O’Keefe then traced the history of non-violent action to save the pre-born from a mustard seek-like beginning in 1975, when a handful of people were arrested at a Maryland abortion mill, to this year when thousands have blocked abortuary doors to protect children by the force of self-sacrificing love.
Joe Schiedler spoke next. The director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League singled out today’s saints – those who obey the Giver of Life by confronting the destroyers of life. He wondered aloud why today’s saints are called uncivil and full of hate. It is, he said, because they have gone down into the basement of our time, and seen the evil:
“We have seen the holocaust. We have been to the dumpsters. We have opened them up and we have seen the babies – our little boys and girls, our little brothers and sisters, cut to pieces…But nobody wants to see the holocaust, nobody wants to see the victims,” he told his hushed audience.
“Our job,” he declared, “whether we rescue, whether we sidewalk counsel, whether we put out publications and leaflets, whatever we do, we must make American, and we must make Canada, and we must make the world see the victim.
Joan Andrews saw the victim. She told the crowd she pictured herself as the baby about to be killed and asked: ‘Why did this child have to die for her?’ Her answer was to identify with the suffering and death of the victim – at the abortuary, in the courts and in prison.
It is her example, said Schiedler, which has raised up the rescue movement, and which, in the near future, will produce such numbers of God-fearing citizens blockading abortuaries that police will make no arrests.
Andrews herself hopes for this: “We’re praying for numbers,” she told The Interim: “We’re recruiting numbers and they’re growing in the thousands. But even if the numbers were to drop, and we were totally abandoned and we only had one left, we have to continue to do what is faithful and rescue the babies.
“Now, if everyone had the same attitude, then we would see that [the rescue movement] won’t become a once-in-the year thing. It won’t become a fad; it will become something of the heart and the soul.”