Saturday, April 07, 2012

10TH ANNUAL NATIONAL PRO-LIFE T-SHIRT WEEK ANNOUNCED

Youth outreach expands to 4 contests and 1,000 schools April 24 through April 30

(Stafford, VA) - American Life League says the coolest national annual event for young pro-lifers (of any age!) is just around the corner-bigger and better-with new challenges and new prizes. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, NPLTW begins on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, and goes through Monday, April 30. Prizes include national exposure of the winning works.

"More and more youth are returning to family tradition, responsibility, and the teachings of their faith. This event gives young pro-lifers and their families a voice in their own communities," said Paul Rondeau, executive director at ALL. "Planned Parenthood would have us believe that every young person is uncontrollably sexual and wants access to abortion at the drop of a hat. In fact, quite the opposite is true: America is becoming more pro-life because of these young people."

This year's events include a Photo Scavenger Hunt, Video Challenge, Essay Competition, and a Poster Design Contest. The event is open to the public and all homeschoolers. In addition, over 1,000 schools and faculty have been invited to have their students to participate.

Winners will receive prizes and national exposure for their work. For example, the winner of the pro-life video contest will be hosted for three days of professional workshops by Movie to Movement in Santa Monica.

Judges and cosponsors include JillStanek.com, LIFESocal, Movie to Movement, ProLifeUnity.com, Pro Life Youth Congress, Radiance Foundation, RealCatholicTV.com, Rock for Life, Walk for Life West Coast, Brian Gale, author of Fatherless, Matt Abbott of Renew America and Teen Defenders.

Full information on events, prizes, and registration can be found at NPLTW.com.

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Media inquiries, please contact Paul E. Rondeau at 540.659.4171 or prondeau@ALL.org.

American Life League is the nation's oldest Catholic pro-life education and advocacy group with more than 120 Associates. For more information, please visit ALL.org or call 540-659-4171.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Letter to the editor: the value of life must remain paramount

By Janet Grace, Executive Director, Aloha Life Advocates 
Letter to the Editor, Hawaii Reporter

In response to the demand for Physician Assisted Suicide, I would ask that we seek Truth, address tough questions, and follow the arguments to their conclusive ends. This issue affects all levels of our society and challenges our view of charity, compassion, and empathy. The individual, his doctor, the family, and society as a whole must reach a consensus on the value of life; We must identify the proper role of individual liberty and scope of medicine within those bounds.

May we consider the following:

1. We have three possible methods of treatment: No PAS, unlimited PAS, or some threshold that meets objective criteria. Assuming the third option, who would decide what levels of pain justify the termination of life? What metric of misery proves worthy of this terminal procedure? Is this a slippery slope? How long until we – as a product of our “compassion” – recommend PAS to the mentally handicapped, elderly, and disabled? We either see life as having intrinsic value or we must assign it a value based on utility. But who, again, decides the utility of an individual? If we permit the individual to decide for himself, we accept PAS limited only by demand for the product. If we demand a threshold be crossed, we are at the mercy of elected panels, boards, doctors, or bureaucrats. Inherent in this policy is the removal of choice by a governing body. 

 2. Our society is built upon the framework and promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How, then, do we reconcile mercy killing? Under what pretense can we conflate a “right to die” with a love of life? Are all ethos and ideologies equal or compatible within the American system? Are we ready as a society to advertise the ultimate liberty as the option of self termination? If we are willing to accept the “right to die” as more important than the intrinsic value of life, we must then ask what else will qualify. Once life is no longer the most precious possession of a free man, we must necessarily struggle endlessly to define life’s final position. 

3. As a practical matter, there is no force precluding a man from taking his own life. Those prohibited from suicidal action could just as well commit suicide by inaction – not eating or refusing medical treatment. An individual in this society may – of his own free will – take his life at any time. This argument is clearly about much, much more: It is the attempt to legitimize suicide by using medical professionals. Our culture is not alone in admiring doctors and their accomplishments, but what we recognize is their adherence to a moral code. Added to their public service is a moral component: They are bound to a love of life by the Hippocratic Oath. It is that oath that earns our reverence. A doctor may do no harm and we should – as a moral society – not ask those committed to life to violate their affirmation. This is an attempt to legitimize suicide by borrowing the esteem of a noble profession. 

4. If we were to allow this termination of life, we would no doubt soon see it among our options at hospitals and clinics. How will we view those considering this option? How will we see those refusing it? Considering nearly half of us are receiving some form of public subsidy for health care, can we be assured the medical decisions made for us have our best interests in mind or will they be influenced by fiscal conservancy? Will these sick individuals be parasites? Do they have a duty to die? Should you struggle on clinging to life when a cheaper, more immediate option exists?

I present the following answers to the above mentioned questions:

It is not in the American character to value anything more precious than life itself. We may hurt and suffer, but nothing cheapens life – not lack of utility, not bleak outlook, and not our desire to end it. We cannot – if we are to remain a free society – defer life’s decisions to thresholds, metrics, and advisory boards. The value of life must remain paramount. 

We are all guaranteed a death with varying degrees of misery. This is a human condition uninterrupted throughout the millennia. Rare, however, is the people who serve life above all. Our doctors have sworn an oath to love life and care for the sick. We shouldn’t ask nor should we allow them the reduction of purveying death. Killing is not treating. Along with our devaluing of life, we will suffer great moral tragedy by forgiving them their oath.

Another day is not promised to any of us and that makes life a gift with daily affirmation. May we consider this not in terms of finance. Instead, let us view this problem in terms or treating pain and loving those without the strength to love themselves. Sick people do not have a duty to die; you and I have a duty to care. We do not value people because they are able or require fewer resources; We value them because they are our brothers and because they are alive. If our aim is compassion, let us take a stand; We must measure a man’s value not in utility or physical condition, but rather in the mere existence of life. Let our love not be misguided into treating physical pain and thereby ignoring the aching soul. We may suffer – and some of us more than others – before we die, but a greater tragedy would be to convince ourselves we are more free in death than we are as lovers of life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Absurd Results of Techno-Science

by Judie Brown

As scientific advances are made, nearly on a daily basis, scientists seem to be forgetting about the humanity inherent in people. If they can pioneer some new form of science, or "create" a person in a lab, then they are more than willing to do so----no matter the cost. Today's commentary addresses this and cautions us about the slippery slope we face when we begin to buy into this type of thinking. When people are treated as commodities, everyone suffers.

Many are the citations of late that expose a rampant increase in man's desire to deny scientific truth in favor of sham-science. This is perhaps most obvious in the matter of intrinsic human rights which, fundamentally, begin when a particular individual begins. Or not?

It depends on who is pontificating about that beginning, how the human being begins, and under what circumstances it is recognized. Is this happening because of ignorance or arrogance? You decide.

Let's begin in Jerusalem, where an American woman named Ellie Lavi recently gave birth to twin girls who were created in a fertility clinic. The two girls are very much alive and human but, according to the United States embassy in Tel Aviv, will not be recognized as United States citizens. The reason is that, according to an embassy staffer, the "children were not eligible for citizenship unless she [Ellie] could prove that the egg or sperm used to create the embryo was from an American citizen." If Ellie had adopted twin girls from Russia, for example, while in Israel, these children would have been eligible for U.S. citizenship.

The ethical questions surrounding the creation of these girls aside, it is clear that the law is not being updated in the reproductive technology arena. According to the Asian Journal's legal brief section, "One critic pointed out that Ellie has been punished for not knowing the rules and telling the truth to the embassy."

Then there's the disquieting case of California reproductive law attorneys, Theresa Erickson and Hilary Neiman, who plead guilty last year to charges involving surrogate motherhood and baby selling. The case was addressed most recently in Emily Beitiks' article, "Illegal Surrogacy Operation the 'Tip of the Iceberg.'" Beitiks comes to the conclusion that more laws are needed to regulate this industry. I disagree. The fundamental problems that result from these cases have to do with the inability of lawmakers, ethicists, and others to see that the very idea of creating a human being in an artificial setting is itself the real crime. Clearly man is creating man in his own image and according to his own plan of action.

Let's be clear, headlines such as those cited above and a recent one entitled, "Fetal Body Parts Used for Research," are but examples of a much larger problem. That is the failure of scientists, ethicists, lawyers, and others to see that procreation is reserved for the marital act for a very good reason: Children are not property, they are not laboratory mice, and they are not technologically reproduced gobs of cells. They are human beings with intrinsic human rights who have a right to be brought into being within the sanctity of marriage. Period.

Sadly, even in pro-life circles the intricacies of this truth----not to mention the rights of children who come about due to asexual reproduction in natural situations and otherwise----are not only misunderstood, but avoided. Why else would a leading Catholic bioethicist suggest that fertilization is the earliest stage of the human zygote? There are two errors in this statement.

First, the Carnegie stages----the gold standard of human embryology----prove that, before the zygote can occur, stages 1(a) and 1(b) have to occur. Only then is the zygote fully formed.

Second, a human being can begin asexually both in the mother's body (i.e., identical twins) as well as in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) or assisted reproductive technology (ART) lab. This means that the use of the word "fertilization" is also an error.

It is inaccurate language like this that leads to confusion in the public mind and the abuse of terms. For example, the use of the term "fertilized egg" is scientific nonsense.

Reproductive technology continues to create ethical challenges not only for the children, but for the family and the culture itself. The wisdom of the Church needs to become the guide for the practice of sound scientific exploration. Until that time, we will continue to see more agony such as that suffered by a mother who innocently wishes only to have her children recognized as Americans.

The techno-children of today and future generations will be confronted again and again with serious problems. God's plan for the family avoids all this. It proves one more time that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men."



Judie Brown is a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life and author of The Broken Path: How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics.