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Current Events End of life Ink Slingers Michelle Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Respect Life Month Spiritual Growth

Faith in Suffering; Kristi’s Gift to All of Us

I crawled into the bed with Kristi and we lay together all afternoon talking and laughing. We talked about everything under the sun- our childhoods, our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, homeschooling, our faith, our husbands, our children, and her cancer. It’s been a year ago already and I can remember everything about that day.

I felt awkward at first climbing into the bed with my dear friend. It’s not what most adult friends do. We weren’t childhood friends so we didn’t grow up having slumber parties where sat huddled in a bed together talking about which boys we thought were cute at school. But, she insisted I sit in the bed and talk as I stayed with her for the day before she left for a few days for her chemo treatments.

kristi and me 2While we were not childhood friends, we had a very special relationship. We became friends years ago as Kristi was entering the Catholic Church and I was helping in the RCIA classes. That year we became fast friends; and as she and her husband stood before the Church and became new Catholics, she asked that I hold their newborn son John Paul in my arms. I was so honored! I would be honored again to hold him as his Godmother when he was baptized shortly thereafter. She would later become my son Jake’s Godmother as well.

Our friendship grew as we found we had many things common. We both homeschooled our kids and we were both open to life. We shared a love of our Catholic faith and could talk for hours about the beauty and responsibility that being a Catholic Christian brought to our lives. We shared secret hopes and dreams with one another. We shared the ups and downs of raising children and she was one of the few I knew I could trust with the heartaches or disappointments I might have been going through. She was also there for me as I faced many losses. It was my privilege to be there when she sadly faced her own. Our hearts cried together and together we healed.

We sat for hours in her bed just talking. The awkwardness that I felt when I first climbed into the bed quickly faded away as I focused on sharing time with my friend. Cancer was ravaging her body and yet she remained hopeful and joyful. We laughed and smiled and I came away that day feeling blessed that God had brought this woman into my life so many years ago.

Many months later I would climb into the bed again with Kristi. This time it was not her own bed but one at her parents’ home as they were helping to take care of her while her husband worked two hours away. The room was small and Kristi looked tiny in the big bed that filled the room. She was wearing a pretty pink nightgown. She had previously lost all her hair with her chemo treatments but it was beginning to grow back. However, instead of her thick dark hair, beautiful silver curls had grown in its place.

I sat on the side of the bed, worried that I might hurt her if I lay beside her. She smiled at me and asked me if I would get in the bed with her instead. I did. We lay beside one another talking in hushed voices. We talked about everything under the sun, but mostly we talked about what she hoped for her family. She said she wasn’t scared of dying but that she was scared of leaving her family. What would happen to her five children? What would happen to Russ? What would happen to her parents? I asked her what she wanted me to do for her- for her family. “Pray,” she said.

KristiShe was so tired. She began to fall asleep. I watched her as her eyes finally closed and she fell into a peaceful sleep. For the moment, she didn’t feel any pain. She was simply beautiful. I wanted to take a picture of her as she slept so I could remember her this way, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful. Instead, I memorized the lines of her face, the curling of her hair, the way her eyelashes intertwined with one another, and the way her skin glowed as the sun shone on her through the lone window. I held her hand and I prayed.

It wouldn’t be long until she was in hospice care. She would eventually be transferred to a hospice facility where they could take care of her in her final days. As I sat beside her there, Russ and I would talk about just how amazing she was. Her heart, her strength, her gentle nature, and her faith were something to aspire to.

I didn’t want to leave her side. I would feel guilty for sitting beside her so long. I worried that I was taking from Russ’s time with her and yet he encouraged me to be with her as much as I needed to. It was comforting to hold her hand even when she could no longer speak to me. Still, she knew we were there and she did her best to move her fingers and her lips when I prayed the rosary with her.

I was blessed to be visiting her the day she died. I was able to be with her in those very last hours and I am so grateful for that gift. I lost one of the best friends I have ever known the day Kristi died. My heart felt shattered. It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she was no longer here but instead headed to our Father. While I was overjoyed that her suffering and pain were gone and that she was healed, I was devastated for her family and for myself. The finality of it all was just too much.

However, even in my pain I could see the gift that Kristi gave to all of us.

We hear so much about the right to die and how advocates for this movement want to allow people the right to kill themselves or be euthanized when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness or have other reasons for not wanting to live. Kristi’s journey reinforced to me why this is wrong and it showed me the beauty that comes with living out our lives until the very end.

Kristi taught us that even in the face of adversity we must continue to fight. We can’t give up! She had stage 4 cancer and yet she fought until the very last day. She showed her children, and all of us, what strength and fortitude really meant. They can always look to her example when they feel like giving up.

kristi and russShe reminded us that we shouldn’t take the small things for granted. I remember when she was at the hospital and wanting to go home; she told me that she longed to stand at her kitchen sink and do the dishes. She smiled a sad smile and said, “I miss the little things. I miss the ordinary things.” She reminded us all that there is comfort in doing the ordinary and that each task we are set to do is an important one, so we should put our heart into everything we do.

Kristi showed us how to suffer gracefully. She was in so much pain for such a long time, but especially in those last months. Still, she smiled through it all. She never complained and was always so thankful for anything anyone did for her. She viewed suffering as a way to draw closer to our Lord. She placed herself in His hands and asked that He would purify her through her suffering. She showed us each that we can take our own sufferings and bear them with quiet strength and love.

Kristi also gave us the gift of taking care of her when her body began to fail her. It takes great humility to allow others the opportunity to see you and care for you at your most vulnerable and weakest points. Kristi gave many of us this gift. We knew we were being blessed to get to participate in her care and comfort, but we could never imagine to what extent that would be. Oh the blessings of bringing her Communion or of helping her eat or drink! My heart rejoices that I could do this for her in her last days.

My dear friend showed each of us what it means to truly walk with the Lord. She modeled her faith while she was alive and as she was dying. She prayed and trusted in God’s plan for her at all times. She spoke of His goodness up to the very last time she could speak. His name was on her lips and she praised Him even in her weakness. Her witness to faith touched all our hearts.

There are some who may say that there is no dignity in a death that strips you of the life you had or that causes you so much suffering. Kristi showed us differently. She longed to live the life God blessed her with up until her very last breath. She taught us all that even in suffering there can be hope and peace.

October is Respect Life month. We often think of only babies during this time as the month also coincides with Pregnancy and Infant Loss day. However, we have to remember that all life needs to be respected from the moment of conception all the way to the moment of natural death. Kristi’s life and death was dignified, graceful, and beautiful even amid the suffering she encountered. It was not only through her life, but also her death, that we learned so much.

I am forever thankful that Kristi chose to allow us each to walk with her on her journey home. Her selflessness allowed us each to experience God’s love in a new way. I can never thank her enough for that gift.

kristi's family

Categories
Allison Pope Respect Life Respect Life Month

Life is Good

life is goodI like Life is Good T-shirts. A little expensive, but so charmingly simple and cheerfully fashionable; I find their designs irresistible (Sorry for buying so many, Honey.). The company, run by two brothers, has a great story, stemming from a mother who asked her children each evening at the dinner table, “What’s something good that happened today?” and hearing from real-life consumers who bought the brothers’ shirts because of the reminder through heartbreaking situations that life is still good. The slogan on their Purpose page reads: Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is good.

October is a month set aside to “Respect Life.” The 2015 statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is as follows, copied in its entirety because it is so perfect:

“One of the deepest desires of the human heart is to discover our identity. So often, as a society and as individuals, we identify ourselves by what we do. We base our worth on how productive we are at work or at home, and we determine our lives to be more or less good depending on the degree of independence or pleasure. We may even begin to believe that if our lives, or those of others, don’t “measure up” to a certain standard, they are somehow less valuable or less worth living.

Respect Life Month is a fitting time to reflect on the truth of who we are.

Our worth is based not on our skills or levels of productivity. Rather, we discover our worth when we discover our true identity found in the unchangeable, permanent fact that we are created in God’s image and likeness and called to an eternal destiny with him.

Because of this, absolutely nothing can diminish our God-given dignity, and therefore, nothing can diminish the immeasurable worth of our lives. Others may fail to respect that dignity—may even try to undermine it—but in doing so, they only distance themselves from God’s loving embrace. Human dignity is forever.

Whether it lasts for a brief moment or for a hundred years, each of our lives is a good and perfect gift. At every stage and in every circumstance, we are held in existence by God’s love.

An elderly man whose health is quickly deteriorating; an unborn baby girl whose diagnosis indicates she may not live long; a little boy with Down syndrome; a mother facing terminal cancer—each may have great difficulties and need our assistance, but each of their lives is worth living.

life2When we encounter the suffering of another, let us reach out and embrace them in love, allowing God to work through us. This might mean slowing down and taking the time to listen. It might mean providing respite care or preparing meals for a family facing serious illness. It might mean simply being present and available. And of course, it always means prayer–bringing their needs before the Father and asking Him to work in their lives.

Experiencing suffering—or watching another suffer—is one of the hardest human experiences. Fear of the unknown can lead us into the temptation of taking control in ways that offend our dignity and disregard the reverence due to each person.

But we are not alone. Christ experienced suffering more deeply than we can comprehend, and our own suffering can be meaningful when we unite it with His. Especially in the midst of trials, we are invited to hold fast to the hope of the Resurrection. God is with us every step of the way, giving us the grace we need.

In times of suffering, let us have the courage to accept help that others genuinely want to give, and give the help that others need. We were made to love and be loved; we are meant to depend on one another, serving each other in humility and walking together in times of suffering. Our relationships are meant to help us grow in perfect love.

Let us learn to let go of our own standards of perfection and instead learn more deeply how to live according to God’s standards. He does not call us to perfect efficiency or material success; He calls us to self-sacrificial love. He invites us to embrace each life for as long as it is given—our own lives and the lives of those He has placed in our paths.

“Every life is worth living.”

Jane Eyre2When my husband read this, he remarked, “I could read this as my devotional every morning for a year and every morning I would be convicted, encouraged, blessed, or changed. It is powerful and beautiful.” It is also soothing to me, as a mother of children with cystic fibrosis. I am surrounded by women who, due to the same diagnosis, kill their babies in utero, thwart their own bodies of life-giving properties, or purchase designer embryos while discarding their little ones with CF. It is disheartening. I often want to throw up or throw away my computer. It is hard to honestly, lovingly witness to this other way.

Self-sacrificial love and embrace can change the world. Pope Francis calls for a culture of encounter. Our Holy Faith has changed our family as we care for all our children with and without cystic fibrosis and worry about a neurologically ill elderly grandmother on the East Coast. It takes courage, interdependence, and humility. Life is not perfect. Or easy. But life is good.

Categories
7 Quick Takes Abortion Current Events End of life Ink Slingers Kerri Loss Respect Life Respect Life Month

7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 19: Respect Life Month

October is set aside by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as Respect Life month. This coming Sunday is Respect Life Sunday; read the Bishops’ Statement for Respect Life Sunday. So the question is, what can you do during this Respect Life Month? We have seven suggestions for you.

–1–

Pray, pray, pray. Pray for an end to abortion. Pray for respect for all stages of life from conception to natural death. You can pray the pro-life novena which began on September 29. Jump in now or start it on your own. You can pray a daily rosary this month for the respect of all life, you can spiritually adopt a baby at risk of abortion, or pray a Memorare for life and add your prayers to the Memorare Meter on Relevant Radio’s website (look for the meter at the top of the main page). Prayer is one of the most important things we can do.

–2–

Are you familiar with 40 Days for Life? Check out their website for information on prayer vigils in your area. This fall’s 40 Days started in September and goes through early November, so there is plenty of time to participate. If there is not a 40 Days for Life in your area, look into setting one up in your area for the next campaign. In addition, pray along with those who are attending prayer vigils. Again, pray, pray, pray.

–3–

Staying in the prayer theme (hard to ignore it’s importance, isn’t it?), October 12 is the Public Square Rosary Campaign. Over 10,000 cities across the country are participating. Is your city? Check the website to find out. And then attend.

–4–

Respect life extends to all aspects of life, including the end of life. Take some time this month to visit a nursing home. Get the kids involved, contact a nursing home ahead of time to find out if there are any activities you and your kids can do with or for the residents. Just going to visit is also an incredible gift to the residents of the home. I go to one in my area on occasion to visit a friend there. While there we also go into other residents’ rooms to say hi. They always love seeing the kids!

–5–

October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Approximately 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This is an incredibly sad figure. The National Down Syndrome Society hosts a Buddy Walk every year around this time. Most are in October, but depending on where you live it could have been in late-September or could be coming up in early-November. Consider participating in the 2013 Buddy Walk to help raise funds for the Society and their mission of “promoting the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.”

–6–

A great way to promote Respect Life month is by using social media. We are all aware of the downfalls of social media, how about putting it to good use, instead! Share links to pro-life posts, articles, websites, and blogs (you can start with this post, no pressure 😉 ). Share pictures, stories, and more. You never know what might plant a seed in someone else’s mind from something they see you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever else you might use.

–7–

Finally, we want your participation in this last suggestion. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This year, like we have in the past, we will be posting stories from our writers throughout the day. In addition, we hope you’ll share your own stories on your blog (if you have one). Our first post of the day will include a link-up where you can link up your stories from your blog. This will be a great way to share our stories with each other. We hope you’ll participate. Put your post up on October 15 and then come visit us to link it up. Our post will go up at 5:00 A.M. central time that day.

There is so much more that we can do during Respect Life Month. Have any suggestions to add? Let us know in the comments.

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes posts at Conversion Diary.

Categories
Abortion Current Events Erika Ink Slingers NFP and contraceptives Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Respect Life Month

It’s Breast Cancer “Awareness” Month Again

three generations of breast cancer survivors
Three generations of Breast Cancer survivors!

It’s October again… Everything is swathed in pink. Please take the following as advice before you cover yourself in pink for the “cause”… Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a euphemism for “Give us money so we can pay our salaries”! Forgive me if I sound bitter or snide, but I was diagnosed at 28 years old and 20 weeks pregnant and Komen, American Cancer Society, and most (if not all)
big name “Awareness” groups offered me two choices when I was diagnosed: 1) hope that I didn’t die before I had my baby without treatment or 2) kill my baby to seek treatment. However, MD Anderson had (has) been doing chemo on pregnant women for more than 20 years with better results than on similar post-abortive mothers. No thanks to those big-name organizations, not only did I survive, but my almost 3 year old daughter survived as well! We are the fifth and sixth generation of survivors, but only the last three of us have actually survived (my mother is now a 7 year survivor, but her mother died at 58 and her grandmother and great grandmother died in their 40’s).

How did those big organizations “support” me in my time of need? How do those big name organizations further the “cure” by not only killing future generations but also condemning those women who fall for their lies to worse survival rates? Who gains by the continued denials of links or causation of breast cancer by hormonal contraceptives and abortions? Where’s the “cure” there? “Awareness” means less than nothing if erring on the side of caution – for instance publicly admitting possible links/causation between hormonal contraceptives and abortions and breast cancer — and other cancers. It should be called “Brea$t Cancer Awarene$$” because all it does is line the pockets of the organizers while presenting false hope to victims and supporters!

Even if the scientific link between abortion and hormonal contraceptives is weak (it isn’t), women deserve to be told the WHOLE truth about these “necessary” parts of “reproductive rights”. For instance, the link between BPA and the ills it causes aren’t much (if any) stronger than the links between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer, yet everyone avoids BPA to err on the side of caution. To be perfectly honest, I actually didn’t realize until looking at the journal articles while writing this post, that the type of carcinogenic chemical of BPA is actually VERY similar to hormonal contraceptives (estradiol, estratone, estrogen-like chemicals). Why shouldn’t the big organizations advocate the same type of caution for abortion and hormonal contraceptives? The WHO (World Health Organization) has ranked contraceptives as Level 1 carcinogens. If the purpose of these organizations was truly to reduce breast cancer (and other cancers) wouldn’t they advise women to avoid hormonal contraceptives? Instead, the supposed “benefits” of these “reproductive rights” are said to “outweigh” the risks… as a survivor, if I thought there was something I could do that was completely choice oriented to prevent my daughter from getting breast cancer, you’d better believe I’d do everything in my power to see that she made the right choice!

Where’s the benefit of that type of false “awareness”? T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. with cutesy “Feel your Boobies” or “Save the Tatas” slogans* don’t actually further the cause of finding a cure or providing real life support for victims. Instead all they do is demean the victims of this horrible disease. Don’t get me wrong, I own a few t-shirts with similar slogans, but I AM a survivor. Plus, most of them (except the “Fight like a Girl” one) were given to me by friends in an effort to lift my spirits by letting me know they were supporting me in my struggle. The friends who gave me those t-shirts didn’t just plunk down $20 for a shirt and consider themselves as supporting me in my struggle. No, they actually DID things to help me: sent notes of care/support, listened while I cried or whined, helped me with a real task in life, prayed for me, spoke to me of courage and strength, etc. The t-shirt was just the physical and remaining reminder that they DID something that actually helped me–even if it was just emotional or mental help. That is the way true supporters can lend a hand to victims of this horrible disease.
Some of the newer more popular slogans are actually innuendos that over-sexualize the disease and body parts involved. The “boobies” I lost during my mastectomy weren’t playthings or frivolous slightly naughty bits–they were nutrition for my son for his first year of life. They were a visible representation of my gender. Sadly, they were also linked, in ways I did not and still do not understand, to my self esteem and self image. Yes, I can laugh about cutting them off because they were trying to kill me, but you don’t know the feelings I hide behind that laugh. I have numerous very real physical scars from the three surgeries to remove and “replace” those body parts, but worse than the physical scars are the emotional ones that no one–not even other survivors necessarily–can understand. Every women (or man, since they get breast cancer too) has different breasts, and her “relationship” (for lack of a better word) is unique to her, so her response to these traitorous body parts and the subsequent removal or alteration of them is different too. Often, women are evaluated by their breasts because we live in a highly sexualized world. So losing or altering this most visible sign of womanhood can be highly traumatic. It’s really only something some of us laugh about because the alternative is crying. When you add the other losses (loss of ovaries, tubes, uterus, cervix, etc) some of us face because of related cancers, the emotional toll rises and hearing or seeing such jocular interpretations of our loss(es) can be devastating.

If you’re aware of breast cancer and want to help 1) find a struggling victim in your neighborhood or area to support, 2) thoroughly research any organization BEFORE donating, 3) don’t play meaningless “games” for awareness sake, 4) open your eyes to the truth of breast cancer (and other cancers) and let others know it, and/or 5) pray for a cure, better survivability, and more real world support for victims. Those are things that really help real people who are victims!

    *I don’t mean to pick on just these two slogans, but they were the first ones to come to mind… I have no affiliation or hatred of any of these slogans except as explained above. If it makes you feel better about yourself, by all means wear or buy products with these types of slogans on them. However, don’t expect me (or other victims/survivors) to appreciate it if that’s all you do.
Find more of my story at Erika’s Miracle Journey.

 

Categories
Abortion Mary P. Respect Life

“America, defend life!”

The month of October is designated by the pro-life community as Respect Life month. This is a time for us as Catholics and pro-life people to focus our efforts on promoting respect for all persons at all stages of life—from conception until death— and spreading the message that all human life has intrinsic dignity (after all, we are the only creatures that God made in His image).

Traditionally the primary focus of the month is on promoting respect for life in the womb. There are a few reasons that the issue of abortion seems to take priority above other facets of the Respect Life theme. First, it has to do with sheer numbers. Over one million innocent lives are lost through abortion every single year in the United States alone. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, when abortion was enshrined in national law and States were forbidden to ban it, there have been over 50,000,000 abortions. That number is staggering when you think about it.

Second, respect for life begins with life in the womb. The baby in the womb is the most defenseless of human beings, and the womb should be the safest place on Earth. If we as a culture cannot respect life in the womb, then there is no reason that we should be expected to respect any other life at any stage in development. The arguments that are put forward in defense of abortion have scary implications for the rest of society when they are carried to their logical conclusions. For example, if abortion is okay because some babies are “unwanted,” or will be too difficult to care for, then what about children whose mothers decide after birth that they don’t want them or can’t care for them? What about the the elderly who are unloved and unable to care for themselves? If abortion is okay because ‘fetuses’ don’t have sophisticated mental capacity, then what about already-born people who are brain-damaged or severely developmentally handicapped? If abortion is okay because some unborn babies have diseases or deformities that may doom them to a very short life or a life filled with suffering, then what about people who develop a debilitating or terminal disease or physical handicap after birth? If we can take some human lives–the most innocent among us–why not others? (In answer to this question, pro-choice people will start throwing out words like “personhood” and “sentience,” which are arbitrary and subjective standards… but that is a post for another day).

Yes, respect for life begins with respect for life in the womb. But, we also cannot ignore the other ways in which our culture offends against human dignity and promotes an agenda of death over life. This includes embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, the unjust use of the death penalty, and the disrespect for the ill and elderly (many of which have become much more accepted by society as abortion has become more accepted).

Elizabeth McClung, Executive Director of Austin Coalition for Life, at the 40 Days for Life kickoff in Austin, TX. Photo by Arlen Nydam.

Over the course of this month, the Catholic Sistas will be doing our part to promote respect for human life by blogging about abortion and other topics encompassed by the Respect Life theme.  Many of us will also be participating in local Respect Life month activities and engaging in personal prayer and fasting for an end to abortion and other offenses against human dignity. Some of us also will be participating in the national 40 Days for Life campaign that began on September 28 and goes until November 6. We encourage our readers to find some way to participate in the efforts of Respect Life month/40 Days for Life as well (as October is also the month of the Holy Rosary, you might consider taking up praying a daily Rosary if you do not already do so).

Amidst all of this Respect Life activity, there is something else going on during the month of October, which is especially important to some of the members of our blogging team. It’s also National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s fitting that two issues that affect women, especially, so very deeply are converging in this one month, and the goals of these two campaigns should fit together nicely. We Catholics and pro-lifers want to support and promote the dignity of those who are dealing with cancer and whose lives may no longer meet our society’s utilitarian standards of who is worthy of respect and who is not – who has dignity and who does not. It is the very ill who are the target of our culture of death’s misguided “compassion” that says that a life of suffering is not worth living. And it is women who suffer from cancer while pregnant who are told that they must choose between their own lives and those of their unborn children (and very often are pressured to abort their children).

Additionally, respect for life and concern about breast cancer are intertwined in a way that most of society chooses not to recognize. Uninterrupted pregnancy and nursing both have a protective effect against breast cancer; so, the more children you give birth to, the better your odds against breast cancer. Conversely, studies show that there is a link between breast cancer and both abortion and hormonal contraception. There is controversy over whether abortion and contraception actually increase your risk or play a part in causing breast cancer; but at the very least, the link is indisputable in that abortion and contraception obviously both prevent you from reaping the protective effects of childbearing and nursing.

Yes, you see, our Church got it right again. Her moral teachings (in this case, against the artificial prevention and destruction of pregnancy) are not just about the protection of our souls, but also the protection of our bodies.

There should be no conflict or competition between those wearing pink ribbons and those wearing precious feet pins. Yet, the most well-known and highly visible charity related to Breast Cancer Awareness, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK), contributes YOUR donor dollars to the nation’s largest abortion provider and a major dispenser of hormonal birth control (which can act as an abortifacient*) – Planned Parenthood. This is wrong from both the standpoint of respecting the unborn life routinely destroyed by Planned Parenthood through abortion and hormonal contraception, as well as the standpoint of respecting the lives of the women who are (or may be in the future) victims of breast cancer. Women deserve to know that the pregnancies they are trying to prevent or destroy could protect them against breast cancer, and that there is a possibility that their use of hormonal contraceptives or their procurement of abortions may directly increase their risk. 

So, as controversial as this may sound, we as pro-lifers should not support SGK. Unfortunately there is also a long list of other charitable organizations that we should not support because of where that money would be going, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. Some of them are also “in bed with” Planned Parenthood, but in many cases, the reason we should not support them is because they support or directly fund embryonic stem cell research as part of their effort to discover treatments and cures for various maladies . Apparently, they think that it is okay to disrespect and destroy some lives in the pursuit of caring for other lives.

Most of society seems to be on board with that concept these days. They think it’s okay to sacrifice embryos in pursuit of medical advancement. Or they think it’s okay to allow a fraction of our charitable donations given to cancer organizations to go toward supporting Planned Parenthood because of the good that may be done by the rest of the donation. But we as Catholics know that these are human lives that we are talking about, and that we do not and cannot value one innocent human life above another. This is what sets us apart from our secular society. We understand that we can never choose evil no matter what good may come from it.

Taking a stand on this principle can put us in an awkward position. I’m sure most of us have been in the situation of being asked to support SGK or other questionable organizations through donations or participating in walks. If we refuse to do so, it can make us appear as if all our talk about respecting life only applies to the unborn and that we don’t really care about anyone else, especially not women with breast cancer (it doesn’t help that Catholics are routinely accused of not caring about women in general). We can appear callous and ideologically-driven rather than compassionate.

The truth is, however, that we don’t have to choose between being compassionate and adhering to our beliefs. We as Catholics can, and do, respect both the lives of the unborn and the lives of women (and men) with cancer (and it is hard to believe that SGK or Planned Parenthood respect either).

If we are going to take a stand on this issue and refuse to compromise on our support for any vulnerable persons, it is a good idea to arm ourselves with information, and be aware of alternative charities that we can support – there are some out there that don’t force us to choose between the unborn and the born. I have a hunch that this topic will be covered more extensively by other Sistas during the month of October, but here are just a few bullet points to help you to educate and defend yourself on this topic:

  • Planned Parenthood’s main business centers around sex (consequence-free sex, as a matter of fact), and it’s safe to say that breast cancer is not high on its priority list. It doesn’t make any sense for cancer organizations to be partnered with Planned Parenthood. SGK defends this practice in part by claiming that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms. However, this is untrue. Planned Parenthood clinics do not provide mammograms. It’s unclear from their website what services they actually do provide when it comes to combating breast cancer, but whatever those services, the fact is that there are plenty of other medical establishments that provide the same ones without also making money off of taking human life.
  • Funds at Planned Parenthood are fungible. That means that when organizations like SGK give your money to Planned Parenthood, there’s no telling whether it’s going to pay for an abortion or for whatever cancer screening services they offer.
  • While most mainstream medical organizations deny the link between breast cancer and abortion, many studies have shown a relationship, and many other medical groups state that there is one. These medical groups include National Physicians Center for Family Resources, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Catholic Medical Association, Polycarp Research Institute, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Regarding the support of organizations that promote or fund embryonic stem cell research, it’s important to understand that embryonic stem cell research has produced no real-world results, whereas there have been many successes with adult stem cells. Again, we don’t have to compromise our values in order to support effective treatment options! We can care for women and men suffering from cancer (and other diseases) AND protect tiny embryos from being used and thrown out like garbage.
  • On a related note, there are many charitable organizations that respect all human life.** The American Life League provides information about many well-known charities so you can determine whether or not a particular charity is one that you can ethically support.
My oldest daughter at 20 weeks gestation.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Blessed John Paul II (taken from a farewell address given in Detroit’s airport, at the end of his 1987 pilgrimage to the United States):

 America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways […] But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native-born son and daughter […] The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones. The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person.

It is our solemn duty to defend life. All life. Life in the womb; life created in a petri dish by overzealous scientists; life that is laden with suffering; life that is nearing its end.

And we can’t let anyone persuade us away from this mission by trying to force us to pit one life against another. We can’t let anyone guilt us into believing that we can’t take a stand for the unborn without taking a stand against women with cancer. There need not be any dilemma here. When we foster respect for life in general, we foster respect for all lives in particular.

 

 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Hormonal birth control works primarily to prevent fertilization; however, the “backup mechanism” is the thinning of the uterine lining to prevent implantation of an already-fertilized egg (ie a tiny human being).

** The Sistas will be providing in future posts information about “safe” charitable organizations, especially those related to Breast Cancer. In the meantime, if you are looking for a good organization to donate to, there is a new charity called Journey 4 a Cure that raises funds for Pediatric Cancer research (which does not get a lot of attention or money). It was founded by a family that I am acquainted with, and I personally confirmed with this charity that they did not support or fund embryonic stem cell research.