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“Choice” Now Extends to Born Children, Too

Belgium's Parliament. “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.” -C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Belgium’s Parliament.
“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.”
-C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

For decades, prochoice advocates have insisted there’s no “slippery slope” to abortion, that the right to end your child’s life in the womb will never lead to your right to end it outside of the womb.

Until now.

Last week, Belgium legalized the euthanization of children. The country’s leaders passed the law despite overwhelming evidence that adult euthanasia (allowed since 2002) is widely abused, with multiple studies proving that a full third of people euthanized in Belgium don’t even request to died. The real numbers are surely even more frightening, as it’s estimated more than half of the nation’s euthanasia deaths aren’t even reported to the government. And while the adult law specifies only physicians can euthanize, a considerable number of nurses have even taken the initiative to end a patient’s life, one study showed. The country has allowed the euthanization of disabled infants for (Personally, I’d be terrified for one of my loved ones to get seriously ill in Belgium.)

The new law allowing children to be euthanized is especially grotesque. Not only may parents request their child be euthanized, but children themselves may request to be killed if the parents consent. Doctors can even override the parents if the doctor believes the child fully understands the choice he’s making.

One has to wonder how anyone could believe that a child–a child!–can possibly understand “the full implications” of having someone put them to death. This is staggering.

Belgian leaders, as well as the country’s press, seem baffled by the international backlash over its new law. Supporters of the new law insist that those who oppose it simply don’t understand the complexities involved. “I’m annoyed at hearing ‘you’ll kill children’ in the foreign media,” Bart Sturtewagen, chief editor of one of the country’s largest newspapers told Reuters. “We don’t use that kind of language anymore. It’s a very different debate on a different level.” Sturtewagen’s comments remind me of abortion advocates’ attempts to dehumanize the unborn child by calling him the “fetus,” “a product of conception,” or “uterine contents.”

Despite the outrage, it would be naive to think that the culture of death openly pursued in Belgium can’t happen here. Legal abortion, as well as reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, have laid the foundation for euthanasia to take root here, too, by making human life a commodity to be disposed of or manufactured at will. Fifty years ago, people would have been aghast at the idea of putting a sick or disabled adult to death, much less a child. But now, we have Princeton professor Peter Singer publicly advocating for the euthanization of disabled children–and he’s raked in bioethics awards for his “brilliant” utilitarian philosophy. Americans now abort 92 percent of their unborn babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, according to Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children’s Hospital, Boston. And with nearly 130 legislative initiatives to legalize physician assisted suicide and euthanasia in just the past 20 years (in 25 states), it’s only a matter of time before the “right to die” now embedded in the laws of Oregon and Washington become the “right to kill” in all 50 states, as it now is in Belgium.

“Choice” Now Extends to Born Children, Too

In the Liturgy of Hours, one of the most striking prayers is the psalm that thanks God for allowing us to “serve him without fear.” Most pagan gods, after all, demanded human sacrifice–usually in the form of children. Can there be a more grisly sacrifice than that of having your child murdered to appease a bloodthirsty, vengeful god? When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son and then had the angel stay his hand before he could kill Isaac, he sent a clear message to his people and to us: “I am a God of life, not death.” To that dark and death-obsessed world, God’s message of life and love surely explains how his people grew from a small, unknown group of nomads to a splendorous nation visited by kings and queens of other lands, who declared in awe, “Blessed be the Lord, your God.”

Is it possible to combat the coming culture of death in America? Yes, but only with God, for “all things are possible” with Our Lord, no matter how bleak the situation appears. Let us teach our children to revere all human life, not just human life that’s convenient or successful. Let’s teach them–no, show them–that love is the solution to life’s difficulties, not selfishness and death. And above all, we must pray and fast for the hearts of our citizens who don’t yet understand the great dignity of each human person, who support abortion and who will support euthanasia when that battle finds its way to our shores.

Through the bottomless mercy of our God, one born on high will visit us to give light to those who walk in darkness, who live in the shadow death. May Jesus lead our feet in the path of peace as we strive to bring His light to our very broken world, a world where our children are once again being sacrificed to false gods.

End of life Loss Mary P. Respect Life

A Child Shall Lead Them

::This story first posted on October 5, 2011 – it was *so* good, we just had to repost it!::

As you are probably aware by now, October is Respect Life month. While abortion is and should be a main focus of this month, this post will address a different aspect of the Respect Life theme – the dignity of those who are aged and infirm. These lives don’t get as much attention as the lives of the unborn when we talk about “respect for life,” but they too are under attack by our society. Assisted suicide and Euthanasia are becoming more accepted and defended by those who cannot see that all lives have dignity from conception to natural death, and that it is wrong to take any life (including our own) before God calls us home. Society is becoming more and more intolerant of lives that are “imperfect” or not “useful.” Perhaps it is because the elderly and the ill remind people of their own mortality – something that we as a culture want to think about as little as possible. Whatever the reason, it is clear that our culture’s utter disrespect for the dignity of all human beings starts with the tiniest embryo but extends through every stage of life.

In illustration of this point, televangelist Pat Robertson recently called Alzheimer’s disease a “kind of death” and basically sanctioned the divorcing of a spouse with Alzheimer’s so that the “surviving” spouse could move on with his/her life with a new partner. Pat Robertson never clarified or apologized for this comment, to my knowledge.

As ­­the granddaughter of a woman who suffered with Alzheimer’s for over ten years, I am saddened by this, to say the least. I can’t help but think of my grandfather who took care of my grandmother for their entire marriage of over fifty years (before passing away in 2000), and my mother who took care of my grandmother for nine years after my grandfather’s death (being her almost exclusive caregiver for seven of those years). I know that neither of them would ever have abandoned my grandmother because of her illness or for any other reason.

I’ve seen first-hand how Alzheimer’s can destroy a personality and lead to unspeakable suffering for those who have the disease, as well as for their loved ones. But it is not the same as death. People with Alzheimer’s are still living and breathing. They have human dignity and deserve to be loved, respected, and cared for. When someone is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his/her spouse is bound by the vow they took to be faithful in sickness and in health. “Til death do us part” means just that – DEATH. As in, the ceasing of brain and heart function and the separation of the soul from the body. Pat Robertson’s assertion to the contrary is a product of a culture that is too sick itself to see the fact that the lives of those who are ill and suffering – and all other human lives –are intrinsically valuable and worthy of respect.

But this post isn’t for the purpose of harping on the scandalous comment of a misguided televangelist (which is “old news” by now anyway). Reading about Robertson’s comment called to mind a Facebook note that I wrote in May of 2009, less than four months before my grandmother passed away. I pulled up the note, and after re-reading it I decided that I wanted to share it here during Respect Life month.

A lot has changed since I wrote this (for instance, the daughter that I talk about is now almost four years old, and I have another daughter who is 14 months), but the message of the note remains exactly the same. Here is a slightly edited version:

I love being a mother. I am humbled and awed that God has given to me the important job of caring for another human life – body and especially soul. And I am grateful for the chance not only to teach my daughter (and hoped-for future children), but to learn from her as well. After all, Jesus said that children are our role models. Unless we become like children, we have no chance at Heaven (Matthew 18:3).

What did Jesus mean by this? What can my daughter teach me, especially about getting into Heaven? At 15 months old, she does not have a lot to teach me about patience or swift obedience. She can’t model a good prayer or sacramental life. But today, I caught a glimpse of one of the ways I—and the rest of the world—should be emulating my daughter, especially in this “culture of death.”

I have an ailing grandmother who is over 90 years old. She has had many health problems, the most devastating of which has been the Alzheimer’s disease with which she has been afflicted for over a decade. My grandmother does not recognize me anymore. I don’t recognize her either. She sits in her wheelchair all day, repeating the same nonsensical phrases over and over; fighting with my mother and anyone else who is around; accusing us of trying to harm her; trying to leap out of her chair though she cannot walk; drooling, shaking, suffering.

To many of us “wise” adults, my grandmother’s life doesn’t make sense anymore. Her suffering is incomprehensible. Her continued existence on Earth may seem [almost] purposeless. She is perhaps the perfect “poster-child” for the pernicious pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide movement. And while I wholeheartedly reject this movement and all of its evil ideology, I can’t pretend that I have not been afflicted by the tendency to almost dismiss my grandmother… to not even bother trying to interact with her or search her eyes for the loving, intelligent, talented woman who raised my mom and who is still in there, somewhere. Of this, I am ashamed.

And then there’s Rose. Somehow, my daughter who is barely older than a year, has found in my grandmother’s

Rose as a little baby, with her beloved Great Grandma

life the worth and beauty that most of the rest of the world would fail to recognize at this point. Rose adores my grandmother. She has demonstrated this repeatedly when we have visited my parents’ house, where my grandmother lives. Today, she was especially interested in my grandmother; she was simply drawn to her. Rose wanted to hold her hand and give her kisses, sit in her lap and babble to her – desires which my grandmother happily obliged by kissing Rose back, gripping her hand as tightly as she could, and reaching out to pick her up (even though she is unable to do so). Though Rose often became distracted by other things, as 15 month olds will do, she kept coming back to my grandmother’s wheelchair and staring up at her with the biggest, warmest smile, reaching out to hold her hands. At one point, my mother removed Rose from my grandmother’s lap and Rose struggled and whined – she wanted to go back.

Rose doesn’t seem to notice my grandmother’s wrinkled skin and sunken features. She doesn’t realize that my grandmother often thinks that Rose is her own child, and/or that Rose’s mommy (me) is herself just a child too young to care for Rose. Rose has no idea what Alzheimer’s is, or how it has erased almost all traces of the mother and grandmother we all have loved our whole lives. She doesn’t care that grandma can’t take care of herself or that she endlessly repeats herself like a broken record . And she doesn’t know that my grandmother no longer can reason. My grandmother doesn’t have much, if any, use of that gift which is one of the distinguishing elements of humanity; and this, to some people, would mean that her life is no longer worth living. But Rose doesn’t know what “quality of life” means (I confess that I don’t really know either), or that my grandmother would be considered by many to have such low quality that we might as well just “get rid of her.” She doesn’t know what a financial or emotional or practical “burden” is.

The only thing Rose seems to know is love. She showers my grandmother with it and draws it out of my grandmother to the same degree. Though more and more people in this world are adopting the attitude that people in my grandmother’s condition are no longer of any value, it’s obvious to me that my grandmother’s life holds great value in the innocent eyes of my daughter.

This morning, I read a 2007 Washington Post article describing an interesting experiment. Staff at The Washington Post set out to see how many rush-hour metro-riders would notice the superb violin-playing of a famous violinist disguised as a run-of-the-mill musician playing for spare dollars in a D.C. metro station. Would anyone be able to look beneath the facade of a perhaps-needy generic metro musician and recognize the piercing splendor of classical masterpieces played with inexplicable passion and talent? Would anyone be able to break out of their self-centered frantic dash to work, or to focus on anything besides their naively hopeful stop at the lotto kiosk, in recognition of the Beauty five feet away from them? The answer was basically no – very few people stopped to appreciate the music or even so much as looked in the direction of the famous violin player.

No one, that is, except for children. The people conducting the study noticed that practically every child that walked by turned their attention to the musician and even tried to stop walking to listen longer. But their parents pulled them along and even purposefully blocked their view of that seemingly crazy, needy man playing in the metro station.

This story reinforces the observations I made today while watching my daughter with my grandmother. I believe– and have seen much evidence–that in their innocence, children possess the ability to recognize meaning and beauty where the rest of us “learned” people do not. They aren’t too distracted by superficiality, selfishness, or extreme busyness to notice. They see it most especially in lives of babies—wanted or not, healthy or not, perfect or not (including the unborn ones that they can only see as a bump on mommy’s belly)—and the elderly. They don’t know or care if a human life is “wanted” or if it “makes a contribution to society.” They seem to know, intuitively, only that all human life is special. And in today’s society, where human lives are only valued for their perceived usefulness instead of for their own sake, this is one of the most important lessons that we can ever learn from Rose and other children like her. If society could only become more like little children in this particular way, we just might be able to veer off this course we’re taking to hell after all.

By the time my grandma died on September 2, 2009, she was in many ways as much of a baby as Rose was. She needed to be fed, bathed, clothed, and constantly watched over. I’m sure it was not how she wanted to live her life, but I can’t help but think that she was blessed to have been returned to a state of childlike innocence and dependence — to become like a little child just as Jesus says we should do.  I can’t help but think that this was a means of her sanctification and ultimate salvation. I also think that her childlike state was a blessing and a means of sanctification for those who cared for her; Jesus also said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mark 9:37). We please the Lord and orient ourselves toward Heaven by welcoming, feeding, clothing and comforting the “least of his people” – not by selfishly abandoning them in their hour of need.



“Til death” image borrowed from http://cmcfamilylife.


Homeschool Little Sistas Respect Life

On The Topic Of Euthanasia, By A 15 Year Old High School Freshman

As my oldest closed out her first year of homeschooling with Seton last year {after attending public schools exclusively prior to} I was surprised to see she had chosen such a meaty topic to write about for her grammar and composition class. “Euthanasia” I thought to myself. Huh. That’s a topic I wouldn’t have known to choose or how to write or, to be honest, recalling how I would have responded at that age, what my take on it would have been. I mean, I knew abortion was wrong, but the other life issues were not something I knew much about.

I thought I would share her paper {with her permission, of course!} because even though it is a simple three point essay, it gives some insights that are pretty deep for the typical 15 year old my 15 year old.


Euthanasia is defined as intentionally killing a person who is suffering or whose life seems

burdensome or meaningless. It is a combination of murder and suicide. The Church teaches that

life is a sacred gift from God. Euthanasia is evil because it goes against God’s plan, society

wrongly decides who is worth living and who is not, and it robs the individual of offering up

their suffering.

     Euthanasia goes against God’s plan. God is the sovereign Master of life. He entrusts us

to take care of our bodies, although it is dangerous for the soul if we decide to take ownership of

our bodies. Our bodies are made to serve, love and praise God. Euthanasia is the grave opposite

of how we can love God.

     Society mistakenly decides the value of all life. It fails to recognize that all life has a

purpose, and God does not make mistakes. The handicapped, ill, and dying are seen as

burdensome or meaningless. Society sells “quality of life” as a good thing to people who do not

have a strong moral underpinning. Sadly, most of society falls into this category. We can see this

distortion of moral foundation in animal activist groups, such as PETA (People for the Ethical

Treatment of Animals). They place the value of animals on the same level, if not having more

worth than humans. In all this disorder and confusion, having God as the center of our life is


     Euthanasia deprives the human being from offering up their suffering. Society sees

suffering as a bad thing. Catholicism teaches that although God never wills suffering, He allows

it for our benefit. An example is a child suffering through swim lessons. The parents allow it so

the child’s fear will cease, and they will learn swim safety. We may not always understand God’s

reasons for allowing suffering, but through our Faith we can find comfort by trusting that we can

endure with His grace, by knowing there is a reason for it, and it helps us realize how dependent

we are on Him.

     Euthanasia is a misnomer because the prefix “eu” in Greek means pleasing, good, or

well. The “eu” is misleading as the three points prove. Without the Catholic Faith, we would be

caught up in society’s definition of what is good and what is bad. I think that the Church’s

definition of right and wrong is perfect, because God is perfect.

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Why age doesn’t matter in life

My sweet 'Mutti'

I used to give my sweet mother a birthday card for my birthday. I would tell her she should be the one to get credit for that day because all I had to do was show up; she did all the work! Of course, I never hesitated to accept cards, gifts, or sweets for myself either!

As a child of the late 50s, I didn’t realize the entire weight of my mother’s accomplishment of carrying me for nine months and then giving birth. It wasn’t until years later, when Roe v. Wade was handed down, that I really appreciated what my mother had done for me. As much as a hero that mothers in years past were, today’s mother may just give them a run for their money. After all, today there are “choices.” Choices which aren’t just easily obtained, but encouraged in many quarters. Motherhood is optional now. Life has become cheap–or expensive, depending on your perspective.

Motherhood is not the only aspect of life that has been greatly diminished, however. Again, I can’t help but think about my relationship with my mother. As an immigrant from Germany in her thirties, my mother was in for a bit of culture shock when we moved to the United States. Our household in Germany had consisted of both immediate and extended family: her mother, uncle, and grandfather all lived with us from time to time. We even brought her uncle Joe over to the States with us and he remained in our home until he died of asthma a few years later.

Yours truly and 'JaJa'

Back then, living with extended family reflected Europeans’ attitude of respect for their older family members. More mature family members were sought out for their wisdom and experience; it was understood that the relationship is a give and take proposition. As the younger couple maintains the household through both career and housekeeping, the elder members share in the day to day duties as well as being very good pacifiers for the children in the home. I have many happy memories of my great-uncle ‘JaJa’ and the valuable lessons he taught me under the guise of story-telling.

Fast forward to our entry into America and all of that changed. Television shows, commercials, and popular attitudes spoke of a differing value system. Youth was worshiped and the elderly cast out. I remember my mother once saying, ‘in America the children are Kings, the mothers are Queens, and the fathers are Step-Children. The older generation is the worst off, though, they have no value at all!’ In today’s American culture it’s easy to see what she picked up on so long ago. Television shows portray the children saving the day as the authority figures, whether parent, teacher or police, are rather inept. Most everyone seeks to be young and the youth, in their arrogance, think that they own the world. Beauty products, foods, entertainment, fashion – they all cater to the teens and twenty-something crowd. Both the very young and the middle-aged (or older) are caught up in the ever growing drive to retain/regain youth.

Nana and me

While it is certainly not undesirable to be the best you that you can be, there needs to be a check valve in place. Life is a series of steps – all leading to a goal. Heaven. Seeking that for which we are not yet ready or trying to go back to what once was, is not a healthy goal. We were born to grow – physically, mentally, spiritually. Embrace the progression. Be yourself – the best you, you can be – and you will have far less disappointments and failures. Give value to those who have gone before you. It is fortunate, indeed, to have the wisdom of someone who has ‘been there, done that’ as an example for our future choices. We are all in different places of our journey, but we can learn and grow together – each giving of what they themselves have to offer.