Last night, I attended a special exhibit in Redpath Hall at McGill University and the place was packed.
The draw on this evening was the work of the French geneticist Jérome Lejeune (1926-1994).
Lejeune, the father of modern genetics, is known for his discovery of the genetic anomaly that is the root cause of Trisomy 21. Yet, the exhibit - which consists of a series of seven-foot high panels and presented by resourceful hostesses, presents not only his scientific accomplishments but also his humanitarian qualities.
The latter cannot be sufficiently emphasized. Upon discovering the genetic marker for trisomy, he became more than a physician to persons with this condition and their families. He also became a supporter of their very livelihood, as many of his peers wished to use his discoveries to practice eugenic beliefs, aborting the unborn who had tested positive with trisomy.
In an outspokenness speech about the ethical role of the scientist given in 1969, he was immediately shunned by his peers. At the end of his talk, he was greeted with dead silence, something unheard of in scientific circles. Further the silence and aloofness perdured for the rest of his life, as he was denied research grants and research students stayed away for a reference letter from Dr. Lejeune had little value.
His solace became his family and his patients.
The exhibit runs through Monday.
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Complimentary Québec Life Coalition Air Miles (tm) card
The Quebec Life Coalition proudly presents its Air Miles (tm) card, available free of charge. Every time you use it, points will accumulate permitting us to save on travel expenditures. These points may be redeemed for purchasing airline tickets – either for our own use or that of an invited guest. A partial list of participating vendors appears below. To receive your card, simply tick the square on the response stub and return it to us or call us at 1-855-996-2686 and we will gladly mail you one!
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Dear Friends of Life,
September 2013 is shaping up to be a busy month.
Bill 52, the charter of values, and our 40 Days for Life prayer vigil for the end of abortion will keep us busy battling the forces that seek to tear our society asunder.
The legislative initiative, Bill 52 – “An Act respecting end-of-life care,” was tabled this past June 12, 2013, in the National Assembly. This bill will permit the euthanizing of Quebecers under the auspices of “end of life health care.”
Ten Reasons to Oppose Bill 52
Many professional bodies have stated their opposition to euthanasia. The World Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association, as well as fifteen (15) states and international organizations, like the European Human Rights Commission, are all categorically against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Why might that be?
Isabelle & Ward O’Connor of the palliative care group Albatros Mont- Laurier note ten reasons to oppose bill 52. These are the following:
- States should never have the right or the power to induce the death of their citizens: It is far too great and dangerous a power to concede to them;
- Provoking death dehumanizes care givers;
- Inducing death depersonalises patients, debasing them to the level of things, machines, or animals;
- Induced death fosters the mentality that “dignity depends on autonomy”;
- Manipulated, substituted, imposed, or presumed consent threatens the elderly, the sick, the physically or mentally handicapped and the otherwise weak and vulnerable;
- Induced death is the polar opposite of palliative care, and therefore at odds, and competing with, palliative care;
- Once the door is open to “medically assisted dying”, even ever so slightly, the categories of people who become candidates for euthanasia never cease to increase;
- Euthanasia is unnecessary, as the right to refuse treatment is now entrenched in legal precedent;
- It is preferable to invest in hope rather than in despair;
- Dangerous confusion still lingers on concerning what constitutes euthanasia and what does not.
As for the charter of values, which the provincial government seeks to formulate and implement, it aims at violating the right to wear religious symbols. Affecting persons working in the civil service, educational institutions, and health care settings, the legislation is misguided as it will undermine values that form the foundation of society – religious expression.
Finally, the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil for the end of abortion is about to begin its tenth peaceful edition here in Montreal this September 25, 2013. The setting for this public gathering remains unchanged: the Morgentaler mill on Saint-Joseph Blvd, East. Join us in prayer and to express your opposition to how the lowliest of our society, the unborn child, is treated and how women are exploited by this so-called “right.”
On this latter matter, we need persons of strong faith willing to peacefully express themselves by their presence for one-hour blocks of time, in the spirit of Christ’s words to his apostles – “could you not watch one hour?” We can be reached by calling either (514) 344-2686 or (438) 930-8643.
Brian A. Jenkins
Complimentary Quebec Life Coalition Air Miles card
The Quebec Life Coalition proudly presents its Air Miles card, available free of charge.
Every time you use it, points will accumulate permitting us to save on travel expenditures.
These points may be redeemed for purchasing airline tickets – either for our own use or that of an invited guest.
A partial list of participating vendors appears below.
To receive your card, simply tick the square on the response stub and return it to us or call us at 1-855-996-2686 and we will gladly mail you one!
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We are preparing for our tenth (twice per year) 40 Days for Life prayer vigil for the end of abortion. This year it is set to begin September 25. For 40 consecutive days we will pray peacefully across the street from the Morgentaler abortuary on Saint Joseph Blvd, East.
In today's emails, I received a letter from Steve Lopez (pictured below) of Spiritus Films on the topic of praying outside abortion mills. I reproduce it here below as a run up for our vigil.
Yesterday, I accompanied Yolande as she left the hospital after having given birth to her fourth child and third daughter. Born this past Saturday afternoon, the little one weighed in at 1.310 kg, after spending 26 weeks growing inside of mommy.
Yolande came to our attention a couple of months ago as someone thinking about aborting her child. Over that period we supported her by accompanying her to her medical appointments and in other ways.
Her newborn like her other children was pretermed; her brother delivered at 31 weeks, while the two sisters at 24 and 25 weeks.
As we left the hospital room and travelled the corridors and down the elevator, Yolande's mood was not quite what I had become familiar with; she was more pensive, more introverted than usual.
My perplexity was allayed this morning on perusing my emails. I came across an article written by Lauren Enriquez (seen here) entitled "Postpartum Women: How Our Pro-Life Values Can Help Us Help Them." This article helped me contextualize yesterday's experience.
The author writes about the "physical demands and trauma of labour and delivery."
Also, she is critical of the American culture that ignores these demands, unlike many others which give women plenty of time to adjust and be cared for after a birth, "up to a month or more."
Fortunately, Yolande will be receiving some nurturing. Here in Quebec, paid paternity leave exists and on speaking with her husband, I learned that he was prescient of Saturday's delivery. Last week, he approached his employer in order to inform him of the impending delivery and requesting time off.
Returnng to the article, the author concludes her entry by noting how persons with pro-life values can aid postpartum women, citing four suggestions. These are the following:
1. Just show up. Postpartum recovery is not a time to be texting the new mother saying “Hey, let me know if you need anything.” Go to the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruits and veggies (pre-sliced, if possible) as well as a high-fat soup or comfort food, and show up on her doorstep. If invited inside, ask how, not whether, you can help: laundry? Watching older kids so mom can take a nap? Chances are, the last thing she needs help with is sitting on the couch holding her cute little newborn, so let her do that while you pitch in with the more physically-demanding tasks, if she’s comfortable with it. Offer to make her coffee or tea, ask if she needs to take a shower, or a nap, and adjust accordingly.
2. If you don’t live nearby, send her a gift, or at least a card (but please, not an e-card). Moms love getting cute little things for their new babies like bibs and toys. But it is also very touching to consider the new mom herself: how about a gift card to a coffee shop that has a drive-thru (because nothing is more wonderful than to be able to put your infant in the car seat and head out for drive-thru coffee and a pastry in your pajamas). Or a comfy new pair of pajamas and nail polish, to encourage her to take it easy but also to feel like she’s still a beautiful woman.
3. Initiate a “dinner tree.” Don’t wait to get invited to the one that someone else is ‘surely’ going to start, because chances are, no one will. Email her friends, co-workers, and relatives, and ask them to choose a day in the two-three week period after her birth when they will volunteer to bring her a complete meal, packaged for freezer storage in case that is the most convenient place for it upon arrival. Waiting until she is in labor to choose the dates is a good way to guarantee that if she has the baby early or late, it doesn’t throw off the dates that everyone has signed up for.
4. Call her to tell her that you’re thinking of her, and ask her what she needs, what you can do for her (again, not whether she needs anything). It may just be giving her company, in which case you could try to come by sooner than later.
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Dear friends of life,
What a wonderful weekend!
Eight Crossroads walkers hiked into town this past Friday, bringing their faith and joy for life along with them, and shared many great moments with them.
On Friday, the five young ladies and three men arrived to attend the monthly pro-life prayer group at Saint-Sylvain parish in Duvernay, Laval. After adoration and mass, we got to know each other in the rectory over pizza and fruit.
The next day was filled with activities. I met the group after an early morning mass at Saint-Joseph oratory and we proceded from there to walk to the Morgentaler mill via the Mont-Royal Cross.
The walk lasted about 90 minutes - following Côte-des-Neiges to Remembrance road and then the trail that runs atop the mountain until we arrived at the cross. After a little break, we continued along a series of trails in the woods on the east side of the park. In short time we arrived at the mill on Saint-Joseph Blvd. East and for about an hour the group prayed.
In time, pro-life supporters arrived and joined in. Afterwards a picnic was set up and games played and conversation shared.
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, the eight visited parish in both Montreal and Laval. Five parishes had agreed to invite them to share their experience about walking across Canada for the cause of the unborn. At Holy Name of Jesus parish in Laval, pastor Peter Sabbath welcomed Lucy and Mariana. After the mass, they presented a message about the importance of prayer as well as supporting and participating in pro-life activities such the bi-annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigils for the end of abortion.
Finally, their stay here ended with a festive evening at their host families. Three homes welcomed the eight walkers - 2 in Laval and 1 in N.D.G. In the photo below, we see the three men and on this evening Lucy and Mariana at the home of the Cacchiones, hosts for the men. Seen below with Mariana and Lucy are walkers Daniel, Kelly, and Ian (from left to right) along with Michel and his wife Lise.
Crossroads walks have been organized in five countries worldwide. In addition to Canada and the United States, there have been walks in Ireland, Spain, and Australia. Clic here for more information.Be the first to comment.
The following letter came to my attention from one of our faithful QLC readers. The author, David Benrimoha, a McGill medical student, (pictured left) argues against the proposed legislation permitting the practice of euthanasia in the province - bill 52. He argues that our ability to form meaning is central to human beings and to deny this is not right. Euthanasia denies this right and an important time of one's life.
I have never experienced what it is like to see a terminally ill family member in pain, and so I do not for one moment pretend to judge or criticize the choices or beliefs of patients or their families. Instead, I want to offer a philosophical argument against euthanasia and in favour of alternative practices, such as expanded access to palliative care.
There is a character in Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird called Mrs. Dubose, an old woman who is terminally ill and addicted to the morphine that she takes for her terrible, fitful pain. As a punishment for misbehaving, Jem (the narrator’s brother and the son of lawyer Atticus Finch) is made to read to her every day. At the end of every reading session a bell is rung and Mrs. Dubose receives her dose of morphine. But every day the bell is rung a little later, and in this way, even though she faces the return of her pain, Mrs. Dubose weans herself off the morphine and dies free of the mind-clouding painkillers.
It has taken me a long time, but I now realize why I find this story so powerful. It is because it is an expression of what I consider to be the most human of all desires: the desire to create and hold onto meaning in one’s life. Mrs. Dubose could probably have convinced her servants to give her a lethal dose of morphine — a common practice in assisted suicide — but instead chose a course of suffering that led to her final, though short-lived, victory over her addiction. Outwardly this may seem pointless: Why, if she was going to die anyway, should she have suffered so much?
In my opinion, our society has become preoccupied with pain and suffering and preventing it at all costs. It is of course logical and just to prevent and ease pain and suffering when we can, and to develop and use medications and technologies that can do this. But is death preferable to pain? In a video that was shown to us in class (not directly related to euthanasia) Viktor Frankl — philosopher, neurologist, psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor — speaks of the extreme suffering he and his fellow inmates were subject to in the concentration camp, and of how, even in the midst of all that suffering, he was able to find meaning in choosing his own attitude to his situation, and in thinking of his love for his wife, who had been sent to another camp. He is far from the only example of a person who, through extreme suffering such as that caused by the Holocaust, has been able to create and find meaning.
In Quebec, euthanasia is being considered for persons suffering from a terminal illness who are still able to make competent decisions. Yet these are the very people who are most likely to be able, with the right support, to find or create meaning at the end of their lives. This is why I am against euthanasia: because allowing it is saying that we are willing to sacrifice our potential to find meaning in order to end suffering; that we have allowed pain to conquer the pursuit that most defines our humanity.
The best counter-argument to all this is that we as a society have no right to demand that people keep on living in terrible pain when they, as competent adults, would prefer a quick death. My response is that this choice is not the one we are faced with. We have, as has been pointed out by many doctors, technologies and medications that can allow us to manage pain; we have psychologists, chaplains and other guides who can help people find and create meaning in their final days. All of this is brought together in the discipline of palliative care, which aims to help patients find the peace and dignity they want at the end of life, on their own terms. These technologies and approaches are not perfect, of course; they cannot prevent all suffering. But I have seen them work, seen that despite their suffering patients continue to love, to reconcile with estranged family members, to play music, to eat favourite foods, to reflect, and to find meaning in life.
As a society we should be putting our efforts into improving end-of-life care. Palliative care in situations where an illness cannot be cured has proven to be less resource-intensive compared to aggressive treatment, or repeated stays in an intensive-care unit — both of which entail expensive medications and procedures, and the time of large numbers of specialized staff. As such, palliative care is a sustainable option, a responsible use of our health-care resources that ensures patients are able to die with dignity. Even though the process may be painful and draining for patients, families, doctors, nurses and other health professionals, I believe that the beauty and power of the human experience of creating, finding and holding onto meaning is worth it.
David Benrimoh is a first-year medical student at McGill University. He lives in Côte-St-Luc.Be the first to comment.
Dear Friends of Life,
I trust you and your loved ones are enjoying this blessed summer.
It is a blessed summer, magnificent in its splendour. The weather, the fresh produce, the time for solitary walks, gatherings with friends and family, all contribute to making this season memorable. The harshness of winter and spring has rapidly been forgotten.
We at the Quebec Life Coalition are enjoying this time of year as well and doing so in a pro-life manner.
Our summer fundraiser exceeded our expectations, surpassing the goal we had established. Thank you for believing in our efforts and in the manner by which we are working to rid our society of the scourge of abortion. At the end of this letter, I share more concrete details about the fundraiser.
In terms of pro-life activities, our efforts reflect the tenor of the season – welcoming pilgrims and an outdoor social.
The pilgrims we are welcoming are the Crossroads Walkers. This is a group of college-age men and women who decided to spend their summer walking across our country for the cause of life. Six women and three men left Vancouver this past May and ever since have been slowly making their way eastward on foot. They will end their trek in Ottawa on August 9th. By the end of their walk, they will have travelled close to 6000 km.
This weekend they will be our guests here in Montreal. This will be the third consecutive year that we have hosted them. It begins this evening at Saint-Sylvain parish. The parish`s pro-life group has invited them to partake of their once per month gathering – adoration and mass.
On Saturday, their schedule will take them around town. They begin the day visiting Saint Joseph Oratory for Mass and taking in some of the sights. Afterwards they will walk to the Morgentaler mill via the Mont-Royal cross. On arriving at the mill, time with be spent in silent prayer followed by a picnic in Lahaie Park.
A brief period of free time follows the picnic after which the nine will split up in order to visit different faith communities. Six churches have opened their doors to them while here and these will get to her the group share what it has been like walking across our country. These talks will be given both Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
Once the speaking engagements are over on Sunday, more free-time is available to them. They can visit the shrines on and off the island or just laze around. Monday will then have arrived and before we know it they are leaving for Ste. Anne de Beaupré shrine outside Quebec City.
The outdoor social I noted above concerns yet another activity that we at the Quebec Life Coalition have integrated in our summers – our annual corn roast. This third edition of the outdoor classic will be held on the grounds of St-Émile church - 3330 rue Rivier, Montreal. Last year, under sunny skies, upwards of fifty people attended the afternoon event of corn and conversation.
This year we have added something new – an invited speaker. Father René Larochelle will provide some intellectual substance to accompany the material substance. The corn will be ready for serving at noon and the talk will begin at 2 p.m. and will last about an hour.
Finally, an activity not noted above but one that goes without saying is prayer. We know that the battles for establishing and fostering a culture of life are on-going even during the leisure months of summer. It is important to give thanks to God for the countless blessings he showers upon us and ask for his on-going support in our daily work.
Particularly important is the battle for life in regards to Bill 52, the provincial government’s euthanasia legislation. Little seems to be preventing it from becoming law of the land. Yet as believers we know that there is an even greater power than that of the men and women in our legislative houses who decide upon the outcome of this legislation.
Brian A. Jenkins
Quebec Life Coalition
p.s. As noted above, we are particularly buoyed by your response both materially and in prayer for the work we are doing. Many of you have been inspired to participate in our summer fundraiser to pledge in an unprecedented manner. Several became monthly donors. Others contributed substantial one-time amounts. I am deeply heartened by these responses. We had fixed our goal at $8500 and at month’s end, about $9500 has been received, representing over 110% response! Thank you.Be the first to comment.
Little over a week ago, Catholic Ireland passed legislation permitting abortions.
In "Conscience, a last bulwark against totalitarianism", Vincent Twomey argues that failure within the clergy educational system lead many within the priestly class to remain silent or acquiesce to this shift in values.
The kind of fundamental moral theology taught in seminaries in recent decades is one that, contrary to church teaching, denies there are any moral actions, even abortion, that are intrinsically wrong. The moral evaluation of an action depends rather on motive and circumstance. Such a theology also distinguishes between the moral and legal/political spheres, allowing Catholic politicians to put politics above their “private” moral convictions. This theology, though widespread, is radically at variance with church teaching.
For a background article about these events in Ireland, click here.Be the first to comment.
Does it ever seem to you that animals enjoy more protection than the unborn child?
As I go through the daily email offerings and surf the world wide web, I get this impression quite regularly.
The same seems to be the case for a Finnish medical doctor turned politician who raised the question in a public forum resulting in much turmoil.
Paivi Rasanen, Finish Interior Minister and leader of the nordic country's Christian Democratic Party, made some audacious comments, including referring to abortion as "butchery."
Also, she stated that "animals may not be slaughtered in a painful manner, but it’s not permitted to even discuss the painfulness of abortion."
A full story may be read here.
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