Charlie Gard and difficult medical decisions

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably seen someone post about Charlie Gard, the 10 month old London resident who will most likely die soon due to infantile onset encephalomyopathy mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). For us non-medical professionals, it’s a genetic disease where muscles and the brain progressively deteriorate and lose function, leading to death.

It’s tragic.

There’s only so much you can do in a situation like this. So Charlie’s parent’s wanted to bring him to the US to undergo an experimental treatment. They made a treatment plan with a leading expert and raised over a million pounds to cover expenses. Under their socialized medicine, though, Charlie’s specialists decided it would be in Charlie’s best interest to not pursue the experimental treatment and remove life support.

Charlie’s parents appealed, but lost their legal battle. They cannot take Charlie to the US or home to die naturally. The State has the final say.

Understandably so, many people are enraged at the State’s usurping of parental rights. I am too. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to receive such a diagnosis for your child, and then to be prevented from pursuing your last hope of treatment. So what’s the point in writing about this?

The Pontifical Academy for Life recently released a statement on this, and some people are losing their minds over it. So let’s clear a few things up:

The issue here is not the removal of life support – in this case, a ventilator. The issue is the State (using that term generally to refer to various local and national legal entities) usurping the parental right to pursue a treatment plan and decide, in consultation with specialists, if and when life support becomes burdensome and should be removed.

Removing life support is not always (though can be) equal to murder. Some of the headlines are absolutely ridiculous on this. Catholic bioethical standards are clear on ordinary versus extraordinary means of keeping individuals alive. We must take advantage of ordinary means of maintaining life. But we are not obligated to pursue extraordinary means of prolonging life when they “do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit, do entail an excessive burden, or do impose excessive expense on the family or the community”.

This is not something we as the public can decide for Charlie, as it’s a delicate line the medical professionals involved need to determine with the parents.

So when The Academy says: “we do . . . have to recognize the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs” – they’re absolutely right. Charlie’s doctors and parents seem to disagree about those limitations, unfortunately, which is where the problem exists.

It’s true that parents “must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation”, as The Academy says. That doesn’t mean in this particular case the specialists or State were correct. It doesn’t mean the Vatican “sided with the State” as irresponsible journalists are titling their pieces. But I think we can all recognize that parents naturally would fight for their children. In some cases, they may fight beyond the time when a reasonable chance of recovery exists, which I think the Academy is making a point to recognize as a possibility in cases like this.

What can we gather from this?

Bioethics are extremely complicated. We know that any “act or omission that of itself or by intention causes death to alleviate suffering” is always morally wrong. So no, we shouldn’t advocate for “pulling the plug” to get it over with already. Life support should not be removed to hasten death.

From what I’ve read, that seems to be the problem here. The State seems to be hastening death when Charlie’s parents were prepared to pursue one last treatment that might have been able to reasonably help and improve Charlie’s life. The State is dead wrong to usurp parental rights, that’s for sure. But that’s the problem, not the removal of life support – which is a difficult decision we’re not qualified to make.

We need to be clear in our language, and try to understand this as best we can if we’re going to talk about it.

To learn more about issues like this, The National Catholic Bioethics Center is the best resource I know of to explore these kinds of bioethical issues. You can even email or call one of their ethicists for a consultation if you are facing an ethical dilemma or difficult medical decision.

If you’re left with questions still, let’s talk. And during this extremely difficult and tragic time, let’s pray for Charlie’s family and medical professionals.

To Life,

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7QT, Vol. 66: Jury duty, summer, and adulting

Time for some quick takes on this Friday afternoon! Head over to Kelly’s place for more.

1. This week I served jury duty. I was on standby the night before. Then when I checked back, I had 1:30 to report downtown. We all sat in a giant room (at least 200 people), and then I was one of 84 people called into a courtroom to start the jury selection process. The charge was read to us, and we filled out a questionnaire about related past experiences of ours. The next day, I was one of 24 called up to the jury box to begin questioning. It was a loooooong day. And I was SHOCKED at the number of people who had difficulty following instructions. I had to come in for a third day, and was thankful to be excused then. It was fascinating to see part of the process, but I have a trip coming up and it would have been too much time away from work.

2. Speaking of, I’ve officially been at my job for a year! It was quite the experience ending up where I am, but it’s good to be here. It’s not what I expected, and who knows what the future holds. But I’m thankful to be gainfully employed.

3. In other adulting news, my sister and I have been thinking of starting an Etsy shop with greeting cards and prints. We’re experimenting with watercolor and calligraphy. Anyone have a favorite quote or type of card you’d like but can’t find?

4. Have any favorite summer recipes? This salad is the bomb diggity. This lemon ice is refreshing and light and originally from an American Girl cookbook.

5. Did you see that video preview yesterday from The Center for Medical Progress? Well, a judge ordered it to be removed from YouTube. Ask me more about it if you want to hear a rant/rage. I have no patience or tolerance for killing babies, profiting off of it, and then people trying to cover their butts. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

6. In better news, this is an interesting article about the boom in young Catholic women starting initiatives and organizations. I’ve noticed this trend, and am grateful for so many fellow young Catholic women living out their faith and fulfilling needs of our world hungering for our authentic witness. I do honestly wonder if guys have the same wealth of resources, though. Hmm. Any thoughts on that?

7. Lastly, Happy Memorial Day. Let’s give special thanks this weekend for those who have given their lives for our country.

That’s it for now! What have you been up to lately? Have any thoughts on my takes?

To Life,

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On defunding Planned Parenthood

Leading up to the nationwide Protest Planned Parenthood rallies (which occurred last Saturday), I spoke with a reporter about why I am one of many people who support stripping the group of federal funding. I appreciated being able discuss my position, one that many people in my local vicinity would consider ridiculous. And I truly respect journalists who take time to listen and include both sides of the issues they cover. But when the article came out, the pro-life position was sorely misrepresented and under-represented.

So here’s my response.

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There seems to be this prevailing mindset in America that Planned Parenthood is the primary healthcare provider for low-income women. It’s true that according to PP, 60% of their patients rely on programs such as Medicaid to receive services. And I want to be clear that my goal is not to take away ethical and needed medical care from anyone. Quite the opposite, I am in full support of resources such as the developing app Help Assist Her, which will make affordable healthcare resources more easily accessible. But most of the arguments, if you can call them that, coming from Planned Parenthood supporters center on this point.

There are several problems with this narrative:

Relatively speaking, Planned Parenthood sees a minuscule number of Americans. Out of ~320 million citizens, they see about 2.5 million/year, so about .7%. Saying millions of women will lose their healthcare is at best a gross exaggeration. Of course some people have had cancer detected and STD’s caught at PP clinics. That’s not what I’m talking about though.

People need far more comprehensive healthcare than what Planned Parenthood offers. We know from recent videos released from Live Action that Planned Parenthood is dishonest about many of their services. Most recently, we’ve realized how they’ve exaggerated the prenatal care only a few of their clinics offer. Most facilities will only see pregnant women who are seeking an abortion. It’s no surprise, then, that abortion equals about 94% of pregnancy outcomes for PP patients.

We also know that Planned Parenthood has been involved in extensive Medicaid fraud. See results of recent audits starting on page 311 of this document. Shouldn’t this be part of the conversation? Especially since a LOT of their funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, I think we need to be honest about how the funding they receive is billed and used.

One of THE most important parts of this conversation, I think, is that while abortion, sterilization, and contraceptive services have been increasing in number over the last several years, PP’s other (less controversial) services such as prenatal care, STD tests, breast exams, etc.) have steadily been decreasing (details). If we want to have a logical conversation about policy and federal funding, then I need to know why our government should fund an organization so focused on a limited number of controversial services.

And finally, if serving women and families and impoverished individuals is a priority for Planned Parenthood, wouldn’t they find a way to do so without federal funding? This is how many non-profits work. They depend on people who believe in their mission to keep the doors open. So why is PP an exception? Why would federal funding being taken away from PP stop them from seeing the patients they care so much about? You see, it wouldn’t. They’d just have to do it on their own dime, not mine. That’s obviously a scary thought to an entity whose budget is funded over 40% by our government.

This issue is about so much more than abortion. Yes, Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider. But this is also about people being able to find good healthcare from ethical and responsible providers. It’s about being able to voice where my tax money should and shouldn’t be spent.

There are a number of perfectly reasonable reasons I support redirecting federal funding from Planned Parenthood to Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers. My voice matters. Yours does too. And it’s time reporters and the media started listening to people like me and including us in the conversation.

To LIFE,

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Why Planned Parenthood Shouldn’t be Federally Funded

Planned Parenthood is at risk of loosing their federal funding, and people are losing their minds. People with lower incomes won’t be able to access healthcare, right? I agree that we shouldn’t take healthcare away from people. But I also think Planned Parenthood’s impact is thoroughly overrated. So, in no particular order, here’s why I think it’s a sensible decision to redirect PP’d federal funding to other healthcare providers.

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1. The healthcare they provide is extremely limited. They’ll provide a pregnancy test, pap smear, morning after pill, STD test, abortion, sterilization, manual breast exam (which you can do yourself), and contraception. As far as healthcare goes, that’s a small scope of care. Saying people will lose “healthcare” without PP is grossly inaccurate, because PP doesn’t provide a comprehensive scope of care.

2. They aren’t actually the primary healthcare provider for many people. The self-reported number of patients they see in a year? 2.5 million. Out of somewhere near 320 million Americans, that’s . . . not very many. If you want to know the exact number, that’s .7% of Americans who go to PP in a given year. So will “millions” of people lose their care? No.

3. According to their annual reports, their abortion, sterilization, and contraceptive services have consistently been increasing over the last 10 years. All of their non-controversial services (STD tests, breast exams, etc.) have been steadily decreasing. [see info] I think this shows a significant bias. And I think taxpayers have every right to demand our hard earned money isn’t going toward biased and controversial organizations.

4. As they’ve proven recently, PP supporters are quite capable of financially supporting the organization themselves. Why force taxpayers to fund a controversial organization when they have supporters to keep doors open? I think if they tightened their budget a little and didn’t spend $30 million on trying to get Hillary Clinton elected, they might be able to survive just like any other nonprofit: with private donations.

5. They’ve over billed Medicaid and financially benefited from the program by over $8.5 MILLION. And that’s a conservative estimate. See section starting on page 311 of this report. Since much of their government funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, I think we need to get real about how much they’ve abused that program.

6. There are thousands of federally qualified healthcare centers to help people facing low incomes. Actually, there are 20 for every PP facility. If funds are redirected from Planned Parenthood to these centers, lower income individuals will have more access to more comprehensive care. So to say people will not have access to healthcare is a blatant lie.  Take a look at this map from the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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But what is a Federally Qualified Health Center? It’s a healthcare provider that “must serve an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors”. By meeting these requirements, the center qualifies for federal funding. Is that what everyone wants?

Looking at this information, I don’t see a logical objection to redirecting money from Planned Parenthood to Federally Qualified Health Centers. There are thousands more FQHC’s, which makes them more accessible. They provide a much more comprehensive scope of care, so we’re giving people better care. And they come without the controversy of being America’s #1 abortion provider (who’s been referred to the FBI for possible prosecution and found to be guilty of many crimes). This looks like a win-win situation to me.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s talk in the comments!

To LIFE,

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Planned Parenthood officially a criminal organization

It’s January – which means the anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up. So let’s talk about abortion. Let me preface this by saying that if you or someone you know is considering abortion, you can get immediate help by texting “HELPLINE” to 313131, calling 1-800-712-4357 (they’ll connect you to a local center), or live chatting here. If you or someone you know has experienced abortion in the past, you can find healing through Project Rachel (for women), Project Joseph (for men – availability depends on location), or by connecting with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

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The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which has been investigating the industry of fetal tissue procurement and research for over a year, concluded their investigation recently  with a grisly final report.

Congressman Diane Black said: “Over the last year, the Select Panel’s relentless fact-finding investigation has laid bare the grisly reality of an abortion industry that is driven by profit, unconcerned by matters of basic ethics and, too often, noncompliant with the few laws we have to protect the safety of women and their unborn children . . . the findings of this panel should incense all people of conscience”.

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According to the Panel’s findings, Planned Parenthood is guilty of (among much more):

  • profiting from the sale of fetal tissue
  • failure to ensure compliance of affiliates with legal billing practices
  • using “back-of-the-envelope-type” calculations to create prices for fetal body parts, unsupported by an independent auditor or any formal calculation process
  • violating federal guidelines on patient consent with forms found to be “inadequate” and “legally insufficient”
  • committing systemic violations of HIPPA
  • over-billing Medicaid services by over $8.5MILLION (which is a modest estimate from a fairly small sample)

In addition, a Planned Parenthood executive affirms in this report that abortion doctors may change the abortion procedure to “increase the success of fetal tissue donation”. This was a concern raised in one of the Center for Medical Progress’ original videos, in which Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, said:

“Some of our doctors in the past have projects and they’re collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens” and “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It’s all just a matter of line items.”

The report also outlines the exaggerated benefits and sometimes false claims made by Planned Parenthood and other organizations in regard to fetal tissue research. For example, we learn that fetal tissue was never used to make a vaccine for Polio, Measels, or Mumps. The topic of fetal tissue being used in vaccines is highly debated, and, we can see, not as integral as what we were led to believe by Planned Parenthood.

The Panel found that “in over 100 years of unrestricted research, fetal tissue has not proven to be useful for treating human disease. In contrast, although stem and progenitor cells from non-fetal tissues have only recently been discovered, they have rapidly yielded clinical treatments with proven benefit to patients. The alarmist claims that restrictions on human fetal tissue research would somehow delay or prevent the development of cures are entirely unfounded.”

This isn’t made-up pro-life propaganda. This is a factual, over 300 page, legal report. The media is failing miserably at reporting this (surprise!). But I think we deserve to know the facts. The extensive document, which outlines specific cases, further details, and final recommendations, can be found here.

AND if you didn’t already know, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary recently referred Planned Parenthood to the FBI and Department of Justice for possible prosecution. Planned Parenthood recognizes this is a dangerous moment in their history, as their dirty laundry and illegal activities are coming to light.

My next post on the topic: Why We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood (and Why Poor Women Won’t Die Without Them)

To LIFE,

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7 Quick Takes, Vol. 62: Late term abortion and doing hard things

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It’s been a while since abortion made me cry. Perhaps it’s because I talk about it often. But this week (after Hillary Clinton defended partial birth abortion) has brought up stories that I simply cannot ignore. This is a hard topic, but one I think we need to talk openly and honestly about. I’m linking up with Kelly and sharing seven points about this topic.

1. Contrary to what liberal media will tell you, the majority of Americans think abortion in the last trimester should be illegal. Please note that I did not link to a biased pro-life source. This is Gallup. And I think their numbers represent the American people more accurately than Hillary Clinton or Planned Parenthood. Most people are simply not okay with abortion being free for all without limitations.

2. Let’s be very clear: late term abortions do happen in America. Yes, it’s a small percentage of all abortions. But there are abortion doctors who are very proud of this work. Just watch the documentary After Tiller. So, you might say: what actually happens during a late term abortion? In some cases, they inject digoxin into the amniotic fluid so the baby will overdose and die. Then they induce labor or surgically remove the baby. Other times, the baby will be partially delivered. They will deliver feet first and sever the spinal cord while the head is still inside and remove brain tissue through the hole to ensure success. This is what partial birth abortion is. This method, as far as we know, is rarely used (except for people like Gosnell).

3. These procedures are never necessary to save the life of the mother. If a mother is faced with a crisis situation which puts her life at risk by continuing pregnancy (preeclampsia or eclampsia, for example), doctors will deliver the baby early, probably by c-section, and do everything they can to save both the mother and child. When we’re talking about late term abortion, we’re talking about when the baby is beyond the viability point. This means even if chances are slim, they have a chance of living if they’re born early.

4. Most stories I’m seeing about parents choosing late term abortion happened because the baby had a problematic diagnosis. This, I think, is what got to me the most this week. It’s dangerous territory to deny someone a chance at life simply because their life would be hard. Yes, sometimes you know a baby will only live a short time after birth. But sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes serious problems can be fixed. And if they can’t? A short life is still worth living. A short life can change hearts forever. Here’s a beautiful example. We honor heroes who go through hard things, and I think parents who lose their children or raise kids with severe medical issues are some of the most powerful quiet heroes we know.

5. There are options for palliative care when babies are given an adverse diagnosis. Ending their life is not the only option. When a baby is given an adverse diagnosis, it is the medical professional’s job to do everything possible for their patient. And thankfully, there are high quality NICU’s around the country who will. In the event that there’s no way to prolong life for babies with grave medical conditions, there are ministries like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep who help parents treasure the few moments they have together.

6. If you or someone you know has been involved in an abortion or a difficult prenatal diagnosis, I want you to know there are resources out there for you. I’ve heard good things about Project Rachel and Bethesda Healing Ministry for post-abortion healing. I’ve also heard of Faith’s Lodge being an incredible place for families who have lost children. You can also call 1-800-712-4357 or text “HELPLINE” to 313131 to find a center near you that might be able to help find local resources.

7. Do you know of other resources that might be helpful? I just want the world to know there’s hope in such difficult circumstances. And I also want people to know that even though these situations are some people’s worst nightmares, we’re capable of getting stronger and living through our worst fears. And every person, no matter how long or short their life is, can make an impact on this world.

To Life,

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20 Tips when considering abortion

Dear women considering abortion,

I know there’s a lot going through your mind and heart right now. And I know there are lots of opinions out there about what you should do. When Madeleine Roe recently shared 20 Tips for Your First Abortion, she offered ways for you to (at times lightheartedly) cope with the reality of going through an abortion procedure. Here are my own tips, in no particular order, for you:20 Tips When Considering an Abortion by Laura @ A Drop in the Ocean1. Know that you are not alone. If your support system of family and friends have deserted you, know that there are workers and volunteers around the country who dedicate their time to walking with women during this critical time. You can connect with a center where there are people to support you by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

2. There are many sources of information about abortion and pregnancy, but not all sources are created equal. You can view scientific-based information regarding your health and prenatal development at the Endowment for Human Development. Here are side effects and risks of abortion from the American Pregnancy Association, something to consider for any surgical procedure. Allow yourself to explore the reality of what is happening inside you, and what abortion does. Here are different types of procedures explained by the American Pregnancy Association.

3. You have time to be fully informed and educated decision. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you must make a decision quickly. Nobody should coerce you into making a decision. You have a lot of information to process, and many details to work out. You need time to talk to different people and look at the risks of each option.

4. Speaking of options, you have three: parenting, adoption, or abortion. Not all options are equal. Take a critical look and the pros and cons and consequences each option has for you and your baby. Parenting gives a child the gift of their biological parents, but sometimes the situation at home means it’s not the best environment for raising a child. In that case, making the courageous and sacrificial decision to give a child the gift of an adoptive family might be something to look into. You can reach out to organizations like this one to learn more about adoption.

5. Adoption might be the last thing on your mind and that’s okay. Any decision you make at this point will be hard on some level. And making the decision of adoption is not always the best decision for everyone. I know it might feel like a betrayal to your child to carry them and then give them to an adoptive family to love and raise. So know that I look up to biological moms who make the courageous and sacrificial choice of adoption. They give their babies an intact family when their situation makes parenting unrealistic. How courageous is that?

6. People do care about you, and this choice matters. Choosing what to do when you’re pregnant in a difficult situation takes time and support from other people. It will affect many lives, not just yours. So take time to lean on supportive people in your life, whether it’s your family or local people you found from #1.

7. Take care of yourself. Your life has drastically changed since getting that positive test. Whether this was planned or not, you’re now a mother! Contrary to what Madeleine suggested, binge drinking is not a great way to cope. Take some deep breaths and connect with people who can help. A massage might be a better option. Or treat yourself to a girl’s day and go get your nails done. Take a walk. Start a journal. Find a way to process your emotions in a constructive way instead of masking them.

8. Don’t assume the worst of your friends who are against abortion. Some of them might be jerks about it. If they are, they should read this to better understand what you could be going through. But anyone who truly cares about you and your baby will be there for you no matter what.

9. When weighing the prospect of raising a child during a difficult time, remember the joys of being a parent. Instead of just thinking about the snotty noses, costs of schooling, lost sleep, and inevitable back talk, remember the smiles and laughter of children. Think of holding your very own baby in your arms – the one you made sacrifices for to bring into the world. What an honor to be given this opportunity! So don’t don’t forget the costs. But also remember the benefits. Remember it’s worth it. Every person deserves to be loved in the way only you as a mother can love this baby.

10. Be honest with yourself and your support system. Parenting might seem ridiculously unrealistic to you. Say that. You might be scared as heck about adoption. Say that. You might only be considering abortion because it seems like your only option. That’s why it’s a good thing you have time to talk with other people and come to a conclusion. Get to the heart of why you’re considering abortion, and let’s see if there’s another way to solve that.

11. Science and technology are so advanced that you can actually see what’s going on inside you. But I bet you already knew that, because you’re smart. A heartbeat starts at around 21 days after conception, shortly after you found out you were pregnant. Isn’t science truly stunning?! Check out the Endowment for Human Development for an interactive prenatal development timeline.

12. In some states, you are required to be given the option of seeing your ultrasound. This is not a political agenda being forced at you, but science. There is a living embryo or fetus (depending on your stage of pregnancy) inside of you, and you deserve to know the facts. In fact, those are just scientific names referring to the little human that started off as a single cell. All that will change about them is their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency on you.

13. Pay attention to the little things. Does seeing babies inflict feelings of guilt or shame? Are you noticing families while you are out? There are so many emotions going on right now. Recognize them and own them. Little things matter as well as the big picture.

14. Some ordinary things will never feel the same. Whether it’s the metal bowl Madeleine mentioned or something else, many women will experience symptoms of PTSD after going through the sometimes scarring or traumatic experience of having an abortion. And that’s not just my opinion. Lots of women have shared their stories. You can go through all sorts of testimonies here.

15. Think long-term. Often times when parenting seems scary, it’s because your resources or support systems are limited. But depending on where you live, there should be resources to alleviate any difficulty you’re experiencing. Find a place by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

16. The fact that we have articles telling us abortion is normal tells us it’s not normal. We don’t have articles giving us 20 tips for a hit and run or tips for your first rape. We intuitively know that some things don’t need to be justified.

17. Some abortion clinics could endanger your health. A couple summers ago, Planned Parenthood protested a bill that would make their clinics (where they perform surgical abortions) meet the same medical standards of ambulatory surgical centers. They didn’t want to be legally compelled to meet medical and safety standards. If I was having surgery, I’d want to be at a safe clinic. I don’t know about you.

18. If you end up going to an abortion clinic, there might be people on the sidewalk to support you. There might be rude people who yell at you too (and I would ignore them if I were you). But I’m talking about the nice ones. They have information about the best local resources. If I were there, I would have a flower for you and give you this letter I wrote.

19. This is a roller coaster. Stifling your emotions or refusing to confront the hardness of your situation won’t help. Allow your tears to fall. It’s okay to be mad and scared. It’s okay to not have everything perfectly figured out. That’s the beauty of people who love you. They’re there no matter what.

20. You deserve better than abortion. I’ve seen too many women hurt by abortion to consider for a moment that it’s just another routine medical procedure. You deserve to be loved by people who will see you through this. And you can do this. An unexpected pregnancy is that: unexpected. But people have gotten through the hardest of times and thrived. And you can too. Because you’re stronger than you think.

You are braver than you believe

And if you haven’t found a support system yet, you can always contact me. I am more than happy to walk with you for those first scary steps and help you find that support system. You deserve only the best.

To Life,

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Courage, dear heart

Courage Dear Heart by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

Let’s be real, folks. Our world is a molten hot mess of depravity right now.

I’ve kind of wanted to go cry in a corner at various times over the last couple months and ignore the world. I did actually get off of the internet for a couple days because I had just had enough. It’s exhausting to see this all going on, and frustrating at times having little control to change it. Sometimes it feels like talking to a brick wall because the conversation has lulled. Either people have spoken their minds, or people choose to remain removed from the issue.

Now the waters seem to have settled after the initial shock. We’ve written about the Planned Parenthood videos and gay marriage being legalized, shared our disgust, and now mostly gone back to our everyday lives of getting by.

We have become accustomed to evil.

At the same time, we know this all is horrible.

But it’s also the norm.

So what in the world are we supposed to do?

If you think back to the holocaust or slavery or the civil rights movement – all social issues of their times – society didn’t change when people got sad. Society didn’t change because people found out about bad stuff happening. Plenty of people had to have known about those atrocities.

The world changed because a brave few had enough guts to stand up, expose evil, and demand the atrocity that was going on be stopped.

No one person is probably going to change the world (#RealityCheck). But what if instead of allowing ourselves to hide in a corner and go back to our ordinary lives, we let the gravity of this time sink in and radically change us?

What we if we actually decided that enough is enough?

That the truth we believe in is worth defending at all cost?

That our reputation doesn’t matter when it comes to defending the life and dignity of the vulnerable?

Now THAT would stir things up.

Many of us who believe in truth and morals are used to being the minority. Obviously. We expect to be told we’re wrong. We expect the media to misinterpret us and belittle us. We know our religious liberty is at stake. We know Christian morals are no longer the law of the land.

But you know what? We’re not victims here.

I am not a victim.

You are not a victim.

Certainly we’re affected by our life circumstances. But life is how we respond to whatever is thrown at us. Though we may want to hide in a corner sometimes, we can’t. Too much is at stake. And if we did, who would be changing the world?

I think we keep things quiet because we are more scared of standing up for ourselves than we are of bad things happening to other people.

And that just won’t do.

We are called out of comfort to stand witness to the beauty, truth, and goodness that is our faith. We are equipped by our Mother Church who gives us the foundation to articulate the dignity of life and love as God intended. We are called to profess the goodness of every human person, not to simply go on living our own isolated lives. Life is about more than our little lives.

In these moments when we tire of “the issues”, we have to remember that it’s not people we’re fighting. It’s principalities and evil (Ephesians 6:12). And God’s go our back, guys! It’s not just us against big, bad people who are out to get us. We are facing deep-seated evil, and moral relativism unlike the world has seen in a while. This is our opportunity to do more than talk, to substantially make changes in our communities and families to support the dignity of the human person.

This is where we show the world who we are.

This is where we have to radically put our trust God, because we cannot fight evil with our littleness. But love conquers all. Love has already won thousands of years ago on the cross. Do you believe that? Do you trust in him who created you for such a time as this? Because he created you for a purpose. Living at this time is part of the plan.

We have to trust HIM, because we cannot do this ourselves. It simply can’t be done. And that is frustrating. We are troubled because these atrocities are terrifying and we can’t control everything going on. But we can rest peacefully knowing God has it under control.

If we allow God to use us to create a better world, and give him all of our weaknesses to transform, there’s no telling what he will do through us.

As Aslan would say, take courage, dear heart. You are on the side of love and life. You belong to a people of God that evil is in the midst of a reckoning with. The battle is rough and the soldiers are few. But we are mighty. We serve God who loves and equips each of his children for the purpose we were created for. And spoiler: truth always wins.

To Life,

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Photo courtesy of Lori Branham on Flickr and is used in accord with it’s license without necessarily representing the views of the photographer.

A Day to Remember

On that day back when I was 11, I cried in my favorite teal butterfly dress during the memorial Mass for Robert. Why I didn’t bring more tissues, I’ll never know. For a while after that day, I didn’t think back to it very often.But now I remember it every year.

When you lose a brother, I hardly imagine it’s possible to forget.

When we found out another sibling was on the way, I was ecstatic. What a happy day to be a big sister again! When we found out Robert probably had Down Syndrome, I didn’t know what to think. We looked at a brief summary in one of our biology textbooks, but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant at the time. I just knew our lives would be much different than expected once he was born. When we later found out that Robert had already been born into heaven (we can hope), it was a sad day.

Today is the anniversary of that day.

My life was changed by Robert, just not in the way I might have expected. And I appreciate that more as I get older. I didn’t get to hold him or watch him grow up. I didn’t read books with him, teach him how to play in the mud, or build a city of blocks on our living room floor. His life was so short that we didn’t have time to create those memories together. My memories from those days are a bit vague, but they are still there:

I remember Mom and Dad walking in from that doctor’s appointment and knowing instantly that something was not right.

I remember crying the hardest I had ever cried up to that point in my life.

And I remember writing this poem for my mom, which became part of the program for that memorial Mass (just don’t examine my 11-year-old theology or grammar too deeply):

Life is such a precious thing,
A thing it hurts to lose.
Life is a gift God gives to every being
The purpose and length of their life He will choose.
How short or long your life may be
is a thing you cannot know.
Be ready all you wanderers
wherever you may go.
For God will take your life
at a time He decides is right.
Some day soon or far away
He will lead you to the light.
Each life is treasured by ones who would love you
Even if they never had the chance to say coochy-coochy-coo.
For every soul that has been taken
is awaiting you in heaven

Today I am reminded of the phrase the Sisters of Life have on the back of the medals they wear (taken from this poem):

Nothing again would be casual and small

 

No life is too small or casual to make an impact on the world: your life, my life, Robert’s life. We’re all these teeny tiny people in a big world given the wildly precious gift of our lives with a purpose only we are capable of fulfilling. And some just accomplish that faster than others.

Thank you, Robert, for helping me to remember that no life is too small to matter. If your short life can impact people, all of us can. Pray for us, will you?

Please join me today in remembering families who have lost a child/sibling/relative to miscarriage in your prayers. And remember: no feet are too tiny to leave an imprint in this world. It might be a big act of heroism, the quiet witness of your life, or simply the fact that you existed that makes all the difference – even if it’s for just 18 short weeks.

To Life,

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Marching doesn’t save babies. You do.

We’re back from the March for Life and different blog posts have been going through my mind for the last day. I could talk about . . .

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  • how inspiring it was to leave campus with a few hundred people who were PUMPED about being pro-life
  • how discouraging it is that far less than a quarter of those people will stay engaged in pro-life activities this semester
  • the awesomeness of ecumenism at the March
  • blatant misrepresentation of the March by the media
  • the need to be careful to not make life an issue only for religious people
  • how so many people check “pro-life” off their to-do list after marching but don’t do anything else
  • the pro-“choice” people who tried to stop the March and refused to comply with the police
  • the civil right movement parallels
  • politicians who are not practicing what they preach
  • the new brand of feminism making waves in pro-life circles
  • the ridiculous fact that people can’t agree a 20 week abortion ban makes sense

There’s so, so much to be said. I’ve been reading, looking at all the pictures and soaking it all in – trying to figure out what I want to say. And obviously from the list, you can see there are plenty of thoughts that could be developed more. But so much of them are negative. So much of my thoughts after the March are disappointing.

Because I know the march is only one day.

Marching is one day – one battle. But our victory over the culture of death depends on winning the overall war, not just a single battle each year.

Being in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people reminds me that I am not alone in my beliefs. It also reminds me that when it does feel lonely and things get frustrating, I have to persevere. I cannot let this war happen in our world without putting on some armor and doing my part. Lives depend on it.

God has called each of us in our own way to be part of challenging the powers that be who tell us abortion and other attacks on human life are okay. We are not called to chill on our iPads or spend hours on Facebook. We are freaking meant to

CHANGE

THE

WORLD.

Maybe it’s just smiling at a stranger today, volunteering somewhere each month, or sending a note home to your momma. Maybe it’s getting back to church. Or standing up for the truth in everyday conversations. Or taking time to educate yourself. Or making a plan for how to integrate your pro-life beliefs into your job. Or just striving to be really, really good at whatever you’ve been given talent in.

Whatever it is, just do it.

Please don’t wait until next year’s march. Because guess what? If we all just rolled up our sleeves, did the dirty work, and stopped making excuses it would be amazing.

During a recent homily, a priest talked about how we try to fit God into our daily schedules. But in reality, true peace only comes when we abandon ourselves to His will. We have to ask and pursue what He made us for, because nothing else will quench our thirst.

Are you with me? Yes, it makes me slightly squeamish too. That’s part of why “abandon” is my theme of the year. I need the challenge. I need to work on asking God to use me to accomplish his plan for the world, not trying to figure out how I can fix ALL the things.

I can’t. You can’t.

This frustrates me to no end because being pro-life is simple. Every life is a gift. That’s it. That people can not or refuse to recognize that makes me sad for those who have not seen the beauty of it. Seeing life as a beautiful gift changes how I live, and knowing people have not encountered this beauty makes me want to cry. There are people making traumatic choices because they are broken and lost and hurt and we need to help them.

Please will you try to not forget about this?

Don’t forget the united power of hundreds of thousands of people.

Don’t forget that people are dying.

Don’t forget that people who don’t know better depend on us to give them the new message.

Our world is crying for lack of love and hope – the two most basic things the pro-life movement is all about. The good news is that evil has been conquered by love. Love always wins. And each of us is given the tools to be part of history by simply standing up.

So stand up.

Know what you believe.

Talk about it.

Fight for it.

Walk the walk.

Because simply moving our feet doesn’t save babies. But we can. We can touch hearts. We can be good friends to our brothers and sisters in a broken world. We can show people the beauty of life through our witness. God can use any of us to do great things. We can join together and tell our society we’ve had enough of its lies. We can give people hope. We can love people we come in contact with.

A single march isn’t going to change the world. But you can do something. You are capable of being a witness to the beauty of life. Your first step – our first steps – are just the beginning of the end of death.

So let’s start today.

To Life,

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