25 February 2009

Self Denial

The Ash Wednesday homily I heard today focused on self denial (appropriate given that today marks the beginning of Lent, but that's besides the point). It got me thinking, and it ties in nicely with yesterday's post about entitlement.

I believe that Western society is very much an entitlement based society. We are also a society that very rarely denies ourselves anything (as the current state of the economy demonstrates all too well.) And I think those two things go hand in hand; I don't think we would feel entitled if we practiced some self denial. We are so used to getting everything we want, as soon as we want, and we rarely wait for anything, and I think that attitude is hurting us all.

So many problems would be avoided if we just practiced a little self denial: the credit "crisis", the obesity epidemic, the genocide of the unborn etc. All of these problems have arisen in our society because we are never told no. If we lived within our means, people wouldn't be having their homes foreclosed upon and our major corporations wouldn't be collapsing. If we said no to that piece of chocolate cake (or my own personal craving, iced tea) we wouldn't be endangering our health by overindulging. If we practiced self denial and saved sex for a committed married relationship, we wouldn't be murdering our children. There are many other examples, but I don't want to belabor the point.

Self denial is a good thing. It's not an easy thing, and I know it's something I can never accomplish without God's grace, but it is important. If we learn to practice self-denial with the little things, we will have the ability to say no to the big things, but it does take practice.

The season of Lent is a penitential one, preparing ourselves for Easter and seeking to deepen our relationship with God. My earnest prayer for us all is that we will practice self-denial in some way this Lenten season, and use that self denial to allow God to move deeper into our lives, because that's the only way the major problems of our world will be solved.

Welcome to Lent, and God Bless.

24 February 2009

Personhood Amendments

Good news today. 7 American States have introduced personhood amendments. (See story here) A personhood amendment would establish conception as the point where life begins and when human beings become persons under the law. If passed these amendments would make the abortion of the unborn a murder under the law. North Dakota, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon and South Carolina all have the amendment drives under way. A similar initiative failed on the Colorado ballot this year.

I think it's awesome that the pro-life movements in those states have managed to keep life issues on the political radar, and I hope and pray that these amendments will pass. Its issues like this that remind me why I went into law in the first place. I went into law because I think law has power. If these amendments pass, it wipes out the effect of pro-abortion decisions like Roe v. Wade and R v. Morgentaler in an instant. Abortion, instead of being legal, becomes illegal; it becomes murder. That would change everything; and that's power, real power. To protect the unborn we need the law.

Though I know these amendments face an uphill battle and have very little likelihood of passing, the fact that they are even up is a huge step forward for the rights of the unborn. The more that we keep life issues in the news and in our legislatures, the better our chances to protect the unborn. While the law doesn't currently protect the unborn, it is the most powerful tool we have to protect them, if we can only get our legislatures and judges to use it.

Personhood amendments go a long way in this area because they identify the unborn, not as a clump of cells, but as a person, equal in rights to any born human being. As we enter Lent tomorrow, let's keep the unborn and our politicians, lawmakers and judges in our prayers, and maybe some of these amendments will pass.

23 February 2009


Another sad story demonstrating the culture of death that permeates our world can be found here. A Japanese woman was successfully implanted with a fertilized egg following IVF. However, the clinic made a mistake and implanted her with the egg of another woman. When she found out, she aborted the pregnancy and sued the clinic. By all accounts, she was delighted with the pregnancy, but finding out it was another woman's egg was too much. There is some suggestion that there is a cultural taboo against having another person's child, but that is beside the point.

The woman wanted to become pregnant.

She did.

She was happy about it.

She found out it was another women's and was upset.

She aborted.

That's the bottom line. There is a problem with society when a woman who is desperate to have a child aborts it because the child is not genetically hers. It points to an entitlement mentality and it points out that people view children not as a responsibility, but a right. It also points out that children are simply objects to be created and disposed of at a whim.

Let's change the scenario slightly. If the woman had purchased a dog, and later found out it wasn't the purebred she expected and put it down, people would be outraged at her action. Because it was just a child, no one bats an eye.

Even without going to that comparison, this incident points out some of the dangers of IVF. People lose respect for life when it is created and destroyed on a whim in a petrie dish. In this case, only on child was aborted. Often, women are implanted with 4 or 5 embryos. If they all implant, "seletive reductions" (aka abortions) are performed and the woman has one or two children. How does she explain that to her children later on in life- you had 3 other brothers and sisters, but I aborted them. By sheer luck you weren't the child that the abortionist dismembered and sucked out. But don't worry, I lvoe you very much.

There have been many stories about IVF in the news lately- the 8 children born to a single mom and the twins born to a 60 year old woman and people are talking about needing legal restrictions on IVF. They are partially correct. We need legal restrictions against IVF- it shouldn't be permitted in any case, ever. IVF kills children every day. The sooner we all realize that, the better for everyone, especially the children.

12 February 2009

Happy Reading!

I want to thank all my readers for reading this blog. I hope you find it informative, helpful and thought provoking. My Reading Week begins tonight, and as a result, I am heading to my parents for the next week.

This unfortunately puts me back in the land of dial-up internet, so no new posts until Monday, February 23. I hope you all enjoy this break as much as I am going to. And, in case you are wondering, I will be doing reading; some school and some for fun. I hope you have a chance to do some reading too.

Until later, God bless you all.

11 February 2009

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

It took the University of Calgary Students Union just 10 minutes today to remove official club status from the U of C Pro-life Club. They removed the status in a "hearing" on the club's future today. (See story here) Their reason? The club violated university policy.

Hold on.

This is the group that hosted a Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) last November. Last week 3 members of the club were charged with trespass for that display. Note that- they were charged, not convicted. In Canada, that is a huge difference. In Canada, the Charter guarantees that you are innocent until proven guilty.

The members of Campus Pro-life have not been convicted of anything. The U of C administration has so far refused to tell the club what policy they have violated. The Student's Union has also refused tell them what policy was violated.

Ok, let's look at this.

Their club status was revoked because they broke university policy.

The university has not told them what policy they broke.

The only action taken against them is a charge of trespass which has yet to be proven.

As far as I can see, club status was only removed because the Student's Union has decided they are guilty of trespass.

That is a violation of their s. 11(d) Charter right to be innocent until proven guilty.


Way to go U of C Student's Union! Thank you for violating your student's rights when you should have been helping them. If the situation was opposite and the university had charges laid against members of the Women's Center for showing graphic pictures of what happens to women who try to self abort, would the Student's Union be pulling their status? I doubt it. I'm sure they would be fighting for them not hanging them out to dry.

And I haven't even gotten into the apparent conflict of interest by the chairman of the hearing who served for three years as the head of the feminist organization that opposes the Campus Pro-life. I hope the club appeals the ruling as high as they can, because if they ever get out of the university and to a real court, this decision will be thrown out so fast your head will spin. The obvious bias in this case is mind boggling, and unfortunately all too prevalent on university campuses in Canada. God help us all.

10 February 2009

A Wonderful First Step

The Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) announced today that they are giving the Canadian March for Life their full support. This is the first time in the 11 year history of the March that the CCCB has given it a nod of approval. (See story here)

I am very, very happy that the CCCB has officially noted, and supported the March for Life. Last year when the American Bishop's were speaking out for life during the election campaign, I admired them. I couldn't help but wonder where the CCCB was. As far as I am aware, they have NEVER, as a council, stated their unequivocal support for life. This surprises me, especially considering the Church's extremely pro-life position. It is the duty of each Bishop to ensure that their diocese teaches the truth to every Catholic in the diocese. There are far too many Catholics who are pro-choice today. Some are pro-choice because they don't know any better, and some are pro-choice despite knowing the Church's position. The CCCB has never addressed this issue.

I'm not naïve enough to think that this one pronouncement is indicative of a change in the CCCB's policy, but I do think it is a great first step. The CCCB has now recognized the importance of combating the culture of death. That is huge and fills me with great hope for the future of Canadian Catholics. It has been too long since the CCCB has given good, orthodox direction to Canada's Catholics. Canada has drifted to the left in terms of where it stands on life issues, and the CCCB has done nothing to stop it. Don't get me wrong; I in no way am condemning the Bishops; just trying to show my appreciation for their position today.

I believe the only way to save the unborn and the vulnerable is for Canadian society to fundamentally change how it perceives pregnancy and suffering. We do view pregnancy as a punishment or a disease instead of the joyful creation of a new life. Until we manage to shift our understanding, we will not beat the culture of death. The clergy have a huge role to play in this. Today, I am very proud of the CCCB because this announcement signals that they understand how important combating the culture of death is. God bless them and all clergy and religious.

09 February 2009

Mob Rule

Last Friday night, St. Mary's University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) pro-life club hosted pro-life speaker Jojo Ruba from the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform. Just after his presentation began, a mob of angry abortion activists disrupted his lecture. You can see video footage from the event in the above video. (They enter about 1 minute in).

Mr. Ruba kept his cool and tried to dialogue with the mob, but instead of answering his questions, they fell back on chants like "not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate," "women's bodies, women's lives, women won't be terrorized" and "Pro-life men have got to go! When you get pregnant, let us know!" According to media coverage, (here, and here) it looks like campus security showed up half an hour after the protestors, followed by Halifax police. The protesters were told to disband or face possible charges or arrest. At this point, coverage of the incident becomes unclear (I'm piecing it together from about a dozen blog posts, and some of them contradict each other)- I'm not sure if the protestors did disband, or if they remained outside the presentation shouting their rhetoric, but we do know that the speaker was ordered off campus by St. Mary's officials. He went to a nearby Catholic Church and finished his presentation.

This is absolutely ridiculous- the presentation had all the appropriate permissions, and did nothing wrong, but it was thrown off campus because a mob didn't like what it had to say? Huh? How does that make any sense? It seems there were fears that the mob might turn violent- an e-mail allegedly circulated earlier that day to pro-abortion supporters said they had to do whatever was necessary to prevent the presentation from going forward- but that is no excuse for shutting down the presentation.

What is happening on universities across Canada? What is happening to free speech? Are we no longer going to even pretend to claim we have free speech, because that's what seems to be happening. If the presentation had permission to occur (which it did) why was it forced to leave? The protesters should have been arrested. I believe strongly that everyone has a right to present their opinion, but that does not include the right to act as part of a violent mob. Had those protesters sat down to hear the presentation and then asked questions, I would have no problem with their behavior. However, instead of being respectful and engaging in meaningful dialogue, they engaged in mob activity and tried to suppress someone else's right to express their own opinion.

I hope St. Mary's administration realizes what they did was wrong and apologizes for it. Not only did they censor a valid academic debate, they gave into the will of a mob which sets a dangerous precedent. They should apologize to Mr. Ruba and take action against the members of the mob. At the very least, they should invite Mr. Ruba back, and pay all his expenses to have him give his talk again- this time without interruptions.

A quote from Gandhi has been going around the campus pro-life world lately- I thought I'd share it with all of you. "First they ignore us, then they ridicule us, then they fight us, then we win."

Update: To see the rest of the presentation, go here.

06 February 2009

Baby Shanice

A story broke yesterday about a baby born alive just prior to the baby being aborted. The baby's mother was 23 weeks pregnant and went for a late term abortion just outside of Miami. After she'd been given drugs to dilate her cervix and while she was waiting for the doctor to arrive, she went into labor and delivered a healthy baby girl. The baby's umbilical cord was cut, the baby placed in a biohazard bag and tossed out into the garbage. Her remains were found a week later by police after receiving anonymous tips. An autopsy determined that the baby girl breathed after birth. Legally this means she was born alive, which mean prosecutors can file murder charges. Today, the doctor who was performing the abortion had his license to practice medicine revoked.

Many people, both pro-life and pro-choice have declared their outrage over this. State Rep. Anitere Flores (equivalent of a MLA) has declared that murder charges should be filed. What I find terribly ironic about this whole situation is that had the abortion been properly performed, no one would have made a fuss about this. Its cases like this that reveal the hypocrisy of the pro-abortion position. The unborn are human beings deserving of full legal protections. I hope that the Miami DA decides to pursue a murder indictment for this. I wish the DA could for every abortion, but I'll take what we can get.

I'd be interested in hearing from President Obama about this. After all, while in the Illinois State Senate he voted against a bill that would protect infants born alive in the same way as this baby girl. I'd assume that means he thinks nothing wrong happened here.


Gotta love the world we live in.

The only good thing to come out of this tragedy is that the baby's mother- an 18 year-old named Sycloria Williams- came face to face with her baby and she says that changed everything for her. I'm sorry it took this tragedy for her to see the true horror of abortion, but that is the fault of the society in which we live. She didn't realize baby Shanice (as she named the baby girl) was human because that's what society has taught her. And unfortunately, many other women have been duped into believing the same thing.

Rest in peace Shanice. I'm sorry your life was so short, but I pray that it can be a powerful witness to the world.

05 February 2009

My apologies

No substantive post tonight. We had our "resolution" meeting for the pro-life club tonight, and I'm in no state to say anything respectfully, rationally or charitably, so I won't.

Don't worry- it went fine; we weren't obliged to concede anything. The problem is that they are not happy with it and I think it means we will go to a formal complaint process.

Please pray.

04 February 2009

Framing the debate

Reading the paper today (The Sheaf), I had a bit of a revelation. The crux of the abortion debate seems to be in ensuring that we know where all parties to the debate stand. The reason our discussion seems so fruitless at times, I think, is because pro-lifers and pro-choicers are arguing from completely different perspectives. Pro-choicers presuppose that there is nothing wrong with abortion, and pro-lifers presuppose that there is everything wrong with abortion. I know- that doesn't seem like a big revelation, but when you think it through, it becomes much more.

There is no way we can dialogue with pro-choicers unless we recognize where they are coming from. If law has taught me anything, it's taught me that we need to use precise language and we need to frame the debate clearly before it even begins. I don't think we do a good job of that when we start conversations with pro-choicers. It's not easy to frame the debate, but if we are going to succeed in our debate and change hearts and minds, we MUST frame the debate.

This is especially important now, because historically the pro-choice movement has done a better job than pro-lifers in framing the debate- they have convinced the majority (the people who've never really thought about the issue) that abortion is perfectly acceptable. When most people start discussing their opinion on abortion they don't even realize that they've already accepted, subconsciously, that abortion is a valid option. Before we can ever convince them to be pro-life, we have to make them see that they are presupposing the acceptability of abortion.

It's not easy- I can't give you a step by step method to do it because every person is different and will respond differently to different questions. All I can advise is to ask short, simple yes or no questions. Make them realize that they are assuming abortion is correct. Once you've established that is their perspective, you can begin the dialogue- and you have to begin the dialogue around that issue. You have to convince them first that abortion is never acceptable. We do that by proving the humanity and personhood of the unborn child.

I am convinced that this is the only way we can win this debate. Abortion has been legal for so long people (generally) don't stop to question it. And to succeed that's what we need to do- we need to make people question what they have been fed for so long. The pro-choicers have framed the debate in terms of women's rights, and reproductive choice for so long. We need to change that in order to win.

And win we must. Lives depend on it.

03 February 2009

Praise God!

I just got home from a pro-life fundraiser, and all I can say is God is absolutely amazing. Our club put on the fundraiser to raise funds to continue our work on campus- to pay club fees, buy materials and supplies to distribute, make posters, host speakers and other events etc. The club was worried that we wouldn't sell (well, maybe not the club- I was worried) the minimum tickets needed to pay for the event. I shouldn't have worried- we sold double the minimum tickets!!! (In other words the fundraising was a smashing success) Not only that, but everyone had (or at least seemed to have) a great time. (In other words the social aspect of the evening was a smashing success)

It's things like this that remind me that I shouldn't worry- I should trust in God, because He will supply whatever we need and more. He provides abundantly for all- we just need to ask. The same thing happened over 4 years ago when the club started- we had no money, no resources, just a few people committed to educating our fellow university students about life. As soon as we committed to starting the club, resources, money, an entire fetal model set essentially fell into our laps. Things like this tell me a couple of things. First, and foremost, this is work God obviously wants us to be doing, since he supplied everything in abundance. Secondly, I should have faith and remember that minor things like finances shouldn't prevent me from doing the work I feel called to do. We should follow our calls and do whatever it is God is calling us to do. The concerns we have don't matter- God will provide. (I feel like I should repeat that mantra over and over so I don't forget it.)

This also reminded me that the work we do on campus is not our work. We cannot take credit for the good that is being done- the credit, glory and praise all belong to God, without whom we are nothing. All good that I accomplish in my life is a direct result of God's actions in my life, and my joyful obedience to His will.

I will close this post just by saying a great big Thank-you again to all those who supported the fundraiser tonight (I think some of you read this blog). Your generosity enables the club to continue the work it does on campus to educate on life issues, and hopefully save a few lives as well. The work we do is directed at building the Kingdom of God up here on earth. We don't say that in the work we do, but we do say it in our prayers. Rather than just praise God in my prayers tonight (which I will do) I wanted to praise him in as public a manner as I can. He is amazing and he does provide abundantly.

Thank-you God for your involvement in my life, for the gifts you have blessed me with, for the family and friends I have and for the ability I have to publicly express my faith. You are good, and I am so very grateful.

02 February 2009

Freedom isn’t Free

And I was worried about attacks on my pro-life club! If you remember, I blogged (here and here) about the controversy at the University of Calgary when their pro-life club decided to hold a GAP (Genocide Awareness Project). Well, today 3 members of the club were served with summons to appear in court to speak to the charge of trespass.

That's right; the U of C has formally charged 3 of their students with the crime of trespass. 3 others are expecting to be charged. Read the story here or here. I have a few questions, so here they are in no particular order.

  1. How can students who've paid their tuition and been invited to attend the university be trespassing? (Oh right, because they don't like their opinion)

  2. Why do all of the headlines on this story use anti-choice instead of pro-life (especially when the club is called prolife)? (Oh wait, I know because we've all bought the semantic arguments)

  3. Where does a public institution, funded with tax dollars, get off claiming that the University is not a public institution? (Seriously, study some 1st year Constitutional Law people)

  4. Why did the U of C take 2 months to lay charges? (I have no snarky comment to make here- I would genuinely like to know)

  5. Is the U of C charging them because they truly believed they trespassed illegally or because they don't like the message- would they charge Falun Gong protestors? (I think we all know the answer to that one)

I spent all day following this story and reading people's responses to it. The negative responses all seem to argue one of the following things:

  1. They assume the club is religiously based and criticize the club for "pushing their beliefs on others"- This is a silly argument and demonstrates a lack of knowledge on the part of the person arguing. They are assuming that because the club members are pro-life, they are also religious. While the members might be religious, it does not change the scientific and intellectual nature of their arguments. Calling them religious and dismissing them is an ad hominum (personal) attack and ignores the merits of their arguments.

  2. They take exception to comparing abortion to the Holocaust or Rwanda- again, they misunderstand the point of the protest. Abortion is compared to genocide because it IS genocide. Pro-lifers believe that life begins at conception. That means that every abortion is a murder, and that systematic, government funded abortion is genocide.

  3. They complain about the graphic nature of the images- Yes, the images are graphic. I hate seeing them, and almost inevitably cry after seeing a number of them. But that reaction doesn't mean showing the pictures is wrong. Historically, disturbing graphic images are almost always the impetus that drives change. For example, it was the diagram showing how crammed into the hold of a ship slaves were that drove the first abolitionists to act. It was images of black people being shot with high pressure fire hoses, and the pictures of Emmett Till's beaten and broken body that gave Rosa Parks and other civil rights activists the courage to act. It was the pictures of thin, emaciated Jews in concentration camps after liberation by Allies that made people truly believe genocide had occurred. At the time all these pictures were shown they were called graphic, and denounced in the same way that GAP is denounced. That doesn't make it wrong, it makes it important. Especially today, we live in a very visual culture. Pictures can change hearts and minds. After all, a "picture is worth a thousand words."

  4. They also argue that all the students had to do was turn the signs inward and the U of C would have allowed them to be displayed- This argument ignores the fact that the request by the university amounts to discrimination. The U of C Pro-life club is a club like every other club, and yet no other club is forced to turn their displays inward. Why should the U of C club submit to discrimination?

  5. The other argument is that the students were warned they would be charged with trespass- That cannot be denied. But the students aren't complaining that they were charged; they are complaining that people are trying to censor them. Censorship is wrong. The students knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and they did it anyway because they knew what they were doing was right. Instead of condemning them, we should be congratulating them for their courage. People who stand up for liberty against tyranny should be hailed as heroes. Where would we be if the suffragettes had refused to speak out? If the abolitionists had been cowed by slave owner's threats? If civil rights activists had agreed jail was too high a price to pay? The world would be a much different place.

The U of C students were not violent; they merely put up some signs outside. Those pictures showed graphic images- of that there can be no doubt, but these students deserve our praise. Not only have they brought attention to abortion (which people try to ignore if they can) but they have brought attention to lack of tolerance at Canadian Universities. Freedom isn't free people. It comes at a cost, as these young Canadians are showing us all. God Bless them.

They will all be in my prayers; and I hope in yours too. But beyond prayers, please take a minute to right a polite, respectful letter to the U of C. Contact information is below. Send a copy of your letter to the two Calgary papers- the Sun and the Herald.

Dr. Harvey P. Weingarten, President
Administration Building, Room 100
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
Phone: (403) 220-5460
Fax: (403) 289-6800
Email: president@ucalgary.ca