On the Home Front: The March for Life 2014

Yesterday was the March for Life.

On Monday, I watched over 400 of my fellow students here at Benedictine College load into 8 buses. For part of the process, I stood on a balcony overlooking the crowd. It was a frenzy of excitement below. It took about an hour to get everyone organized, the busses loaded, and get people their warm hats, itineraries, and sack lunches. There was also a prayer led by the abbot and a blessing of all the Marchers. When they weren’t praying, music–everything from “Some Nights” to “The Circle of Life”–blasted through a sound system. I helped where I could, but mostly wandered between different vantage points watching the scene, jealous.

I wanted to go on the March. So many of my friends were going, traveling more than 24 hours to DC on those buses. Despite my initial skepticism, our pro-life club had met their goal and signed up enough people for 8 buses. Almost a quarter of the student body was going, along with professors, staff, and monks & priests from the abbey. But I wasn’t going.

I was lucky enough to be able to go last year. But this year I stayed back. And I was a little bummed. Then I saw a friend’s post on Facebook saying that those of us on the “home front” would be praying for those on the March (or something to that effect).

And we did. We had a 24 hour period of Eucharistic Adoration and I’m sure many people here sent up a prayer or two for their friends and classmates who were gone. Professors, in my experience, were mostly understanding and allowing of students being gone on the March. I’m proud of everyone who missed classes and took time away to go to DC and show the government what we believe. And I’m proud of everyone who took part in the adoration or in some other way prayed for those who were gone.

We need both action and prayer. Without prayer our actions are flat and meaningless. St. Benedict has a phrase “ora et labora”, prayer and work. Both individuals and groups need action and prayer combined. This is something that’s been brought up in my work with Campus Ministry this year. And reaffirmed this week with the March for Life.

I think, at different times we’re called to different things. Perhaps this year you were called to go on the March. Or perhaps you were called to stay back and pray. Either way, you were supporting the pro-life movement. And I hope that those who marched also prayed and that those who prayed will also being acting and working for the pro-life cause.


7 Quick Takes (Vol. 16)

— 1 —

My first Quick Takes on a Friday! It’s weird writing this on Friday…I haven’t spent all weekend thinking about this post.

— 2 —

Today in Texas the law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose higher standards on abortion clinics is being discussed, and, is scheduled to be voted on in the texas state senate. There’s been protesters there. Today some of the orange-flaunting pro-abortionist crowd planned to get a little extreme. There were rumors that they planned to throw tampons and maxipads at the state senators and in fact, this short news report details all of the various items confiscated from people entering the senate gallery. All this goes to show the extreme measures some people are willing to take. this was after all the same bill that was filibustered and couldn’t be voted on in time because of a screaming mob of abortion supporters.

— 3 —

Now time for something positive. Recently, a priest reached out to a couple considering abortion or their unborn baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He asked them to consider adoption. They agreed if he could find a family in one day. So the priest took to social media. The response was overwhelming. The parish selected 3 from the numerous families that called and emailed to offer to the baby’s parents. It’s an incredible story of people reaching out in love and offering hope to a baby and parents they’d never met. Read about this here.

— 4 —

More positive news. I came across this story as well. (Can you tell I read a lot of pro-life news?) It’s about a 13 year old girl who was raped and chose to keep her child and about the organization that reached out to her, specifically a woman who was herself the “product of rape”.

— 5 —

I’ll be going a road trip with my good friend and future roomate on my way back to college in just a few weeks. We’ve already been planning what songs to listen to on the 9 hour drive.

— 6 —

My reading has been slow. Both books that I’m working on have been going slow and honestly the St. Kateri book is throwing me off a bit with its emphasis on the Native Americans’ oneness with nature and stuff.

— 7 —

I’m not feeling like getting into too much personal stuff today. I had a pretty bad day yesterday that I don’t want to talk about on here. I went and looked at my “Inspiration and Encouragement” board on Pinterest which I actually just maybe a week ago (so just in time) and my favorite quote from that is “it’s a bad day, not a bad life.”

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Is it Moral to Shop at Walmart? ~or~ On Cooperating with Evil Through Everyday Purchases

Sometimes the number of companies I should be boycotting because of their support of abortion, contraception, or gay marriage seems overwhelming. Is there any store I can buy from without supporting something immoral? This has been something I’ve been thinking about since I got home. At school, I simply made my weekly trip to Walmart (the only superstore in our town of 10,000) and didn’t think too much of it. But does shopping there, or perhaps another store, mean I am cooperating with evil or in some other way sinning?

There are many facets to the issue of “ethical consumerism” and I probably don’t know them all. Neither do I pretend to be a theologian. These are just my thoughts and questions. I’ll be drawing a lot from this article and its discussion on immediate vs mediate material cooperation in evil.

To start, I want to talk about Walmart.
Plenty of people shop at Walmart regularly, even good Catholics, and never think anything else about it. I did. I mention this because of something obvious yet often overlooked: Walmart sells contraceptives. I don’t know this for definite fact but they do have pharmacies and no reason not to stock your basic supply of the pill, and probably Plan B as well. That is to say, they sell “medications” that can kill an unborn child. Moreover, I know for a fact that Walmart sells condoms (and other things). A quick look around the sexual health page of the pharmacy section on their website reveals that. This all leads to the question: is it morally acceptable to shop at Walmart? Aren’t we then supporting a company that supports things that we as Catholics see as immoral?

According to the above-linked article mediate material cooperation means that “[w]hile doing something that is in itself good or indifferent, a person…gives an occasion to another’s sin, or contributes something by way of assistance.” and this can only be done if the principle of double effect is met. Double effect means, among other things, that the evil is not intended and that there is “sufficient reason”.

Now, honestly, when I’m at school Walmart isn’t my only option and the prices at the other stores (there are 2 within walking distance) certainly aren’t exuberant. They could also give me most of what I need. So any argument that Walmart is my only choice or that there’s “sufficient reason” for me shop there seems invalid.

In a way this leads to my next topic.

Money vs. Support
I used to think that buying something from a company that took a pro gay marriage stance was immoral. But really, when you think about it I’m not sure if this makes sense, after all no money is going towards, say an LGBT activist group, right? But it may not be that simple. So, does shopping at a store that takes an immoral stance (but doesn’t give money in that direction) equal mediate material cooperation?  Well, are we providing an occasion for sin or contributing something that assists another in sinning? Well…if this business keeps getting customers they’ll stay in business, and if they stay in business they can continue to publicly promote immorality. Right?

Now what if the company did give money to something immoral, say Planned Parenthood (the country’s largest abortion provider), but we weren’t buying from that company directly? Let’s say they had a how-to video up on youtube. If we watched that video (and thereby gave them a view) would we be giving occasion for sin or assisting in some way? Would we be giving occasion for someone else (another consumer) to sin?

What about lesser sins?
We tend to make a big deal about what companies are supporting abortion or what TV show is featuring a set of lesbian moms. But what about the shows that constantly encourage cohabitation and the messed up hookup culture? Or just a show where people lie all the time and get away with it? Or what if we have a company that doesn’t support abortion but provides insurance benefits for contraception or unmarried couples living together? Or what about a company that in some way could be seen to support the horrible labor conditions in China?

Where do we draw the line?
Now what if we have a company that gives to an organization, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, who in turn donates to Planned Parenthood? Do we stop shopping there too? What about (follow me) a company that is partnered with a company that donates money to an organization that donates to Planned Parenthood? Odds are I’ve described most major companies. They are all interconnected right? So how can we know where we should shop, who we should buy from? If a store sells items from a company that has a connection (direct or indirect) to abortion, gay marriage etc can we shop at that store?

I don’t have all the answers. Not by a long shot. And I’ve certainly got plenty of questions. I will offer some advice my priest gave me regarding this once: not to become zealous. Also, you should know, I have a tendency to be scrupulous so please consider that in regards to what I’ve said. In fact, set what I’ve said aside for a moment and read this piece from the National Catholic Register. It’s a lot more reasonable than my rant. As the author notes “ethical consumerism is a field ripe for scrupulosity, and a miserable, hysterical, paranoid [person] can’t follow her vocation.” So where ever we shop or don’t, whatever we choose to boycott, we shouldn’t make ourselves hysterical.

I wish there was a way to wave a magic wand and change the world, to eliminate evil so we don’t have to have these dilemmas. But this is the world we live in. And, as I have been reminded recently, we are called to be in the world though not of the world. I must remember this even though my introverted and contemplative soul can kind of hate the world sometimes. The world is wrong and it’s confused. But this is where God put us, and not so we could run away and go live in a cave surrounded by no one but fellow faithful Catholics (though that sounds pretty amazing). No, we mustn’t turn our back on the world. It needs us because it needs the message we are meant to share with it. We must work to change the minds and hearts of others, while always working on perfecting our own hearts and minds. That is how we change the world…rather than with a magic wand.

Fortnight for Freedom starts Tomorrow (June 21)!

Fortnight for Freedom 2013 starts June 21st, (that’s tomorrow!) and will last two weeks until July 4th. During this time the US Bishops have called upon Catholics to pray and act regarding religious liberty in our country. Many threats exist to traditional values and religious freedom in America. The USCCB has compiled a list that you can find here. Other countries also face threats to religious liberty, for more on their stories check out these articles.

Religious liberty is not just an American issue, nor is it just a Catholic issue. All people of faith should be concerned about these developments. If issues such as abortion, the legalization of gay marriage, and discrimination against Christians concern you then please join with us during the Fortnight for Freedom. Pray and act. Pray formally, pray informally, get others to pray with you. Just pray. If you don’t know how to act, ask God to show you what you can do to stand up for religious liberty. Look over this list of 14 ideas to get involved. While the list is meant for parishes, it might give you some ideas.

Right now, one of the most prominent threats to religious freedom in our country is the HHS mandate. On August 1st almost every health plan will be legally required to cover services such as contraception, sterilization, and drugs that can cause abortions. Many religious organizations and institutions will not be exempt from compliance with this mandate, neither will private companies who may morally object to such services.

If the mandate comes into effect without any sort of additional exception for conscientious objectors, then, as my pastor noted, civil disobedience would be necessary. I know that may sound extreme, but we must recognize what is at stake. Catholic institutions, such as hospitals and universities, can not morally provide for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. Any law that requires that is unjust. To obey it would be to tolerate injustice, violate our consciences, and provide morally objectionable services which could (if not would) lead to the deaths of more unborn children. When it comes to unjust laws the catechism says this:

“If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience.” (CCC 1903)

Moreover, what this comes down to is: will we as a church obey God or the government? If this is the question, the answer is, of course, obvious. We must put God first. At the same time, let us pray, especially during this Fortnight for Freedom, that this mandate may be overturned, that our conscience rights may be respected.

There is a bill in Congress right now that promises to do just that. The USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom pages talk about HR 940 the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Congress.gov’s page for the bill can be found here. According the records the bill has been in committee since early March. That’s almost 4 months! Meanwhile, HR 1797 The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was introduced and passed in less than 2 months!

We must spread the news about this bill: tell your friends, call your representative, shout it from the rooftops. Passing this bill will make all the difference.

Perhaps things don’t have to be extreme. Perhaps civil disobedience will be unnecessary. But we must be ready to stand up for our beliefs wherever and whenever. Saturday is the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Both were martyred for standing up for what they believed in the face of an unjust government. Their feast is a great way to begin the Fortnight. You can read more about them here.

Visit Fortnight4Freedom.org or religiousliberties.org to learn more, download prayers, or get inspiration of ways to get involved. You can also check back here for more on the Fortnight in the coming days.

Pray. Act. Spread the news.


The House Passes The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act HR 1797

Today, the pro-life movement won a small victory. HR 1797 The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the House of Representatives.

The vote mostly followed party lines. But 6 republicans noted nay against the bill. 6 democrats, however, voted yea. To them, I say thank you.

The final tally was 228 yeas and 196 nays. 

from clerk.house.gov

See the full roll call here and see how your rep voted.

This was a small step. The bill must still go to the senate. And to the president, who has threatened to veto it. The veto can be overturned however, if there is a 2/3 majority in both houses. The house has just over 30 more republicans than democrats but the senate is controlled by the democrats.

Still, we must go on fighting.

As I watched the live streaming from inside the chamber, I saw attempt after attempt to derail this bill. Nancy Pelosi asked if her colleague ever wondered what people think when they tune into C-Span to see the debates going on at the House. This bill, she argued, wasn’t important. There was jobs and the economy and other more important things to debate, apparently. This bill was futile.


I guess she way saying that because of Obama’s threat to veto it should it make its way to his desk. But you know what? As long as there’s a snowball’s chance in Haiti that it will pass, we have to keep fighting for the lives of our unborn brothers and sisters. And even if there is no chance we can not sit by and be quite. We will not sit down and shut up. Because this is important. This is lives on the line. Human lives. #Theyfeelpain!

Even if this bill never becomes law, if it changes the heart and mind of one woman faced with the decision of abortion, then I think this debate was well worth it. It is the lives and souls of others that we are fighting for. If we can save just one, then we have done something great. Isn’t a human life worth more than a debate about jobs or the economy, Ms. Pelosi?

Until the other side believes in what we are fighting for, they can not understand our stubbornness, our zeal, or our commitment.

This was a step in the right direction. But there’s still a long way to go if we’re to see this bill become law.

Keep informed.
Keep praying.

The senate is up next.


*#theyfeelpain image courtesy jillstanek.com

Awaiting Vote on HR 1797–They Feel Pain

Sometime today (Tuesday, June 18th 2013) the House of Representatives will vote on HR 1797 the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. I wrote a post this act and why you should support it. You can find that here.

An emergency meeting was held last night at the House Committee on Rules, one of the bills discussed was this one. For more on that check out Live Action’s live tweets of the event here (you’ll have to scroll down to about 5 pm yesterday, June 17th).

In another development the White House has released a Statement of Administration Policy regarding the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. As this lifenews.com article makes clear, the statement suggests that President Obama will veto the bill should it reach him.

This makes me think 2 things:

1) Of Course! He’ll veto it! They don’t call him America’s most pro-abortion president for nothing. Great! Well, at least we can put up a good fight and show the world and this country the truth… But basically, we’re sunk.

2) Wait…does this mean he actually thinks it will reach him? (Honestly, I don’t know if they release one of these for every big bill or not.) But if he’s afraid of that, does that mean he’s seen our support and the polling statistics?

“In a nationwide poll of 1,003 registered voters in March, The Polling Company found that 64% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks — when an unborn baby can feel pain — unless the life of the mother is in danger.” (nationalrighttolifenews.org)

So, maybe we do have a chance…maybe the support will be so strong the president will have to sign it??

Maybe it’s a long shot. But we must still fight for what is right even when it doesn’t look as though we will win. We must show people the truth.

It will be interesting to see how the vote comes out today. The house is controlled by Republicans by a margin of 33 votes (if I’m correct). But it will come down to each individual representative. Some may not vote the party line. We’ll just have to see. If it passes then it will be off to the Senate and if they pass it off to the president.

Please pray hard about this.

The vote is about to start! Check out Live Action for the live tweets!

They Feel Pain–Spread the Truth

There are so many important political situations right now. Among them is the bill HR 1797: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which is currently making its way through the House. If the bill passes, it would be illegal to abort unborn children after 20 weeks gestation in the US. These are infants, who, science has shown, are capable of feeling pain.


This NRLC fact sheet explains how an unborn baby’s ability to sense pain develops. According to the fact sheet, at 20 weeks “all anatomical links needed for pain transmission to the brain, for feeling pain, are present.” It also quotes Dr. Paul Ranalli a neurologist at the University of Toronto:

“At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG)”

Everything that is physically needed to feel pain is there in the unborn child by 20 weeks. The same brain cells and neurons that allow us to feel pain can be found in that baby. 

Doctors On Fetal Pain also explains:

“By 20 weeks post-fertilization, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human—for example, by recoiling. Surgeons entering the womb to perform corrective procedures on unborn children have seen those babies flinch, jerk and recoil from sharp objects and incisions.”

These babies not only have all the anatomical features necessary to feel pain but they have also been seen reacting to painful stimuli. If they react like this to procedures meant to help them, how would they react to the painful stimuli of abortion? (I’ll get into this a bit more in a moment.)

Dr. Colleen Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, testified on fetal pain  on an earlier version of this bill  (HR 3803). She “confirmed that the ability of the fetus to feel pain was the ‘majority view’ of those in the field of neonatology.” (from this lifenews.com article).

These unborn babies can feel pain. They have been seen reacting to it. Yet, we abort them in methods which we might shutter to describe because of their sheer gruesomeness. Many abortions involve tearing the baby limb-from-limb. This link will take you to medically accurate drawings of such a D&E abortion at 23 weeks. WARNING: you may find these images graphic.

Dr. Levatino MD gave testimony regarding this bill before the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. His testimony includes a description of a D&E abortion from the perspective of an abortionist.

These babies can feel pain, yet we do this to them. If someone did this to an adult can you imagine how the world would react? Or what if a mother gave birth to a preemie at say, 24 weeks. Would a doctor be allowed to tear the child apart? So why is it different inside the womb?

The unborn need protection. The bill is a step in that direction. It helps to show the humanity of the unborn. They feel pain. They are human. They deserve to be protected from abortion.



For more on the bill see here and here. The first link will take you to the house.gov page for hearing information regarding HR 1797. On the right is a column with links to witness testimonies. the other is a list of all the representatives co-sponsoring the bill. Is your rep on the list??

These children feel pain. Yet we subject them to horrors we would never tolerate for anyone else. Spread the word about HR 1797! Work to protect these unborn babies! Share on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.

Please comment below and tell me what you think of this bill or what you’re doing to support it.


*images courtesy jillstanek.com http://www.jillstanek.com/2013/06/pro-life-help-needed-to-push-fetal-pain-bill/

March for Life Coverage: Belated but Worth the Wait

Since before I went to the March for Life last week I knew I wanted to write a post about it. Sadly, it’s been a long time coming. But between classes, tests, and everything else, what’s a girl to do?

To start, the March was great. It was a peaceful, prayerful experience. It was also cold, but it was worth it.

I can’t fully comprehend just how much of an effect our marching had on our government and on our country. After 40 years we are still marching, we are still coming to D.C. every January in the cold, in the snow. We are not backing down. In fact, the estimates of the number of marchers were even higher this year than last year: about 500,000 people. It’s been 40 years since the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the Roe V. Wade decision. It’s been 39 years since the first March for Life. Every year since the very first anniversary of the decision prolifers from across the country have gathered in Washington D.C. to peacefully protest the injustice of abortion. In doing so we exercise at least 2 of our first amendment rights: the right to peaceably assemble and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But are they listening? I don’t know. I think it is a sign that the prolife position is becoming more accepted that the March was indeed covered by the media. I had been told how the March for Life was something most news outlets actually avoid. And yet, this year I personally saw 2 newspaper articles about it. Maybe things are changing…

This was my first time at the March and it was a beautiful experience. Yes it was cold. I suppose the East Coast in January generally is. But it was worth it. I gathered with what probably amounted to half a million fellow pro-life people letting the government know just where we stand on this issue. We were overall a calm and orderly bunch of people marching on the Capitol.

 People held signs, prayed, chanted pro-life sayings, and walked together in solidarity. I saw no one yelling or swearing. Graphic images were not used by a vast majority of those present. One of the signs people held was this one:


Its estimated 80% of those at the March for Life were under 20. The pro-life movement is young, alive, and not backing down. We will continue to pray, to counsel and provide help for women who are unexpectedly pregnant, to march and peacefully assemble to petition the government for the redress of the grievance of abortion.

Pro-Peace Means Pro-Life

“Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.” –Pope Benedict XVI in his Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2013: Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Normally, we tend to think of hippies and the like when someone says pro-peace but actually the Catholic Church itself is pro-peace. And so are true pro-lifers. You see, if you value peace how can you tolerate one human killing another?

Sadly, this isn’t what many people think of when they consider the pro-life movement. It’s not the face they see. Even for me it struck me as odd to call pro-lifers peaceful. Dedicated, loving, enthusiastic–yes. Peaceful?

Perhaps it’s my definition of peace though, that needs review. I suppose what I was thinking of was a utopia of tranquility, a place where everything is calm all the time. But that’s not exactly what peace is. When you ask Google “define: peace”  you get back the definition “freedom from disturbance”. This definition works two ways: globally and personally. Peace can mean tranquil individuals who are content in and of themselves, or it can mean a world without violence, injustice, or grave immorality. A peaceful world is one where no individual has any reason to not be at peace. So, in a truly peaceful world no human being would kill another. But we do not live in that world…not yet, at least.

If that is truly the world we want in the future, we should act like it and work towards it. That means ending all murders, including abortion. That is how being truly pro-peace means being pro-life. All true pro-lifers want peace: an end to the deaths, the violence, and the struggle. The simple fact is abortion causes strife, which is the opposite of peace, not just in that it kills the child but that it harms the mother and can shatter her peace, and that it harms the world by preventing it from being truly peaceful.

In the end, it seems to me the world would be a lot more peaceful without abortion.