11 things you can do to build a culture of life

Two brothersWe all have an obligation to be at the service of life, St John Paul II tells us in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.  Sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin, the task can seem so huge and insurmountable.

But just by choosing to do one new thing at a time, we can start making change for the better – to really build a culture of life, where each person, no matter how small or how old, is given the dignity they deserve.

Every single person can make a difference – no matter how big or seemingly small their contribution is.


Remembering our little ones who have died not yet born

People gathered throughout New Zealand on Friday night for Masses of Remembrance and a Vigil for Life.

Held in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, the Masses were poignant reminders of the tragic loss of life and pain people experience because of still birth, miscarriage, abortion and IVF.

The date of November 21st was chosen as it was the eve of one of New Zealand’s most tragic days in history.  A day where almost 2,000 embryos were given their death sentence as they reached their legal “use-by” date of ten years.

Bishop Patrick Dunn and three other priests celebrated a Mass of Remembrance in Auckland.  Remembered were all babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion as well as the embryos discarded through IVF, and their parents.
Bishop Patrick Dunn and three other priests celebrated a Mass of Remembrance in Auckland. Remembered were all babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion as well as the embryos discarded through IVF, and their parents.

The Mass of Remembrance in Auckland, celebrated by Bishop Patrick Dunn, was well attended.  Participants processed to the front of the Church after Bishop Dunn’s compassionate homily to light candles for babies lost.  The sight of so many flames a stark reminder of just how precious human life is.

Some of the candles lit to remember the little ones in Auckland.
Some of the candles lit to remember the little ones in Auckland.

A Mass of Remembrance was also held in Dunedin, with the full blessing of Bishop Colin Campbell.  This was the first Mass of its kind in the diocese.  Many of those present appreciated the opportunity to mourn and remember.

In Dunedin candles were placed at Our Lady's feet in remembrance of babies lost.
In Dunedin candles were placed at Our Lady’s feet in remembrance of babies lost.

Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centre for Life in Wellington holds a regular Vigil for Life.  This month, it was held to coincide with the Masses of Remembrance in Auckland and Dunedin.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop John Dew, and was followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a rosary pilgrimage to the front of Wellington Hospital.  Here, more than 2000 preborn babies loose their lives to abortion every year.

Archbishop John Dew in adoration at the Wellington Vigil for Life.
Archbishop John Dew in adoration at the Wellington Vigil for Life.

Close to the abortion facility, Te Mahoe, stands the fertility clinic.  Significantly many human embryos loose their lives here every week.

The Vigil for Life is a very special opportunity for locals to pray for an end to abortion and make a regular act of love for the preborn babies and their families.

Participants in the Wellington Vigil for Life process to the local abortion facility.
Participants in the Wellington Vigil for Life process to the local abortion facility.

The team at Family Life International NZ believe it is important to remember and to pray for all those who have lost in these tragic circumstances.  In the presence of Our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament, hope can be found.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.”
Psalm 33:19


“My Decision” but only if you’re pro-choice

Dr Bernard Nathanson
Dr Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL and ex-abortionist holds my first-born at a pro-life conference in Auckland, New Zealand.

On Sunday, ALRANZ launched a new website “My Decision” which aims to intimidate and bully pro-life doctors through naming them and publishing women’s stories about their experiences with “hostile or unhelpful health professionals”.

Through the website ALRANZ wants to take options away from women by publishing the names of these individuals and organisations.  By doing this, it is being inferred that they are archaic, putting their own beliefs over and above good medicine, good science.  But these pro-life health professionals and crisis pregnancy centres are being honest, not only about their beliefs, but the science and medical evidence which shows that human life begins at the moment of fertilization and that some so-called contraceptives are abortifacient.

The irony of the site has not gone unnoticed.  Somehow, in the mixed up world of  “choice” every woman is free to make their own decision regarding “her body” as long as she embraces pro-choice rhetoric.

If she suffers after her abortion – it couldn’t be possible.

If she realises the reality of her decision to abort her child and then speaks out – she must be silenced.

If she approaches a pro-life doctor or a crisis pregnancy centre for help and support – she’s been sucked in to a world of lies and deceit and has been coerced into bringing her preborn child to birth.

If she chooses Natural Fertility methods over artificial birth control and abortifacients – she is seriously backward, and brainwashed by those religious zealots.

ALRANZ says that women must be able to access “reproductive health services” as a right.  They say this because it is critical to the religion of CHOICE.

But what about those of us who are pro-life and want to make our own decisions?

For us real choice does not exist.

It’s pretty hard for the average person to find out which medical professionals are directly involved in abortion in New Zealand.  In 2012, Southlanders for Life attempted to find out which practitioners were working at the newly opened Southland Hospital abortion facility.  ALRANZ were quick to say that this was a “dangerous bullying tactic”.

I think we could use the same words to describe the “My Decision” site.

And how’s this for pro-choice bullying?

I have given birth to seven children.  Each of their births were very difficult and six of my pregnancies were deemed high risk, complicated by gestational diabetes, occasional cholestasis of pregnancy and repeat cesarean sections.

Immediately after the birth of our third child the surgeon told me never to have another child.

Each of my last four pregnancies were difficult times – partly because of my health, but mainly from the outside stress from repeatedly being told by midwives and obstetricians that I MUST have a tubal ligation.

When I say repeatedly, I mean over and over again for each of the four pregnancies.  I have heard stories of women being asked once and then that is it.  That never happened to me.

One of my worse experiences was less than 24 hours after the birth of our fifth child.  I was desperately sick.  I had cried the whole way through that first night, trying to care for my newborn daughter while constantly vomiting and being restricted in my movement because of the cesarean section.

That morning,  the lead midwife (not my LMC), who I saw from time to time, came into my hospital room with the lecture that most people would be afraid to hear while well and happy.  In that lecture she told me that next time I would DIE.  My husband was completely irresponsible – and where was he anyway?  (Um looking after four kids at home while he too was unwell)…  Forget my religion – I could get a dispensation from my Bishop… I just HAD to have a tubal ligation… didn’t I get it?  She was RIGHT and I was WRONG.

Tell me where was MY DECISION in that conversation?  This midwife wanted to strip me of MY CHOICE  because I didn’t fit her pro-choice mold of contracepting and limiting my family size to two or three children.

Had I been a weaker person – and believe me it wouldn’t have taken too much more – I would have agreed with her.  I would have signed that bit of paper and been done with it.

That was not the only time I was spoken to like that in regards to having a tubal ligation, although it was the worst experience.  There were many other times – approximately 15 in all.  Most times my request to refuse the tubal ligation was NOT written in my notes, meaning I was asked over and over again.

I was terrified that one day someone would take matters into their own hands and sterilise me anyway.  Lucky for me, tubal ligation can only be performed with a patient’s permission.

I suspect that at times I was cared for by doctors, midwives and others who were involved in abortion and sterilisation.  It goes without saying that all of them prescribed birth control.  How I wish I could have made the CHOICE not to be treated by those who disregard human life on one hand while rejoicing in it on the other.

It’s a great thing that health professionals that promote and protect life in all it’s stages can stay true to their convictions, and do so with the protection of the law.  They should be able to do it without being bullied by those who want to change the rules to suit themselves.

So as ALRANZ harp on about a woman’s right to make her own decision, maybe they would like to consider that sometimes that decision will be for LIFE.  And that is not a bad thing.

Yes, there are women out there that don’t buy the pro-choice rhetoric and will stand up to the intimidation and bullying tactics.  I am proudly one of them.





The Wrong of rights

Teenagers are often accused of thinking that the world revolves around them. This phase usually passes especially after heading out into the ‘real world’ and discovering that they are but a ‘cog’ in the enormous kaleidoscope of life.

We observe that the unspoken catch-phrase “It’s about me” is anything but limited to teens. Indeed, many adults proclaim this mantra or similar, particularly in the sexual sphere.

It never ceases to amaze at the incessant trumpeting “It’s my right” and directly linked to this, “It’s my body, my choice”, slogans which have been internalised and are hardly ever questioned today. These slogans are certainly reflective of a culture that has embraced individualism, where the ‘right’ of the individual is said to be paramount.

As part of our human condition, it is self-evident that selfishness occupies a central aspect. That is why as parents, we teach our kids to think of others, to give or simply to let go. In other words, to share. Many of us recall quite vividly, our parents repeating the phrases, “there are others worse off than you in the world” or the old favourite which invariably brings a smile to your face; “finish your food, there are people starving in Africa”. When we observe our kids or others in society giving or simply thinking of others, we feel a degree of satisfaction, a sense of warmth. We feel good. So as selfishness is looked upon negatively, giving and thoughtfulness has the opposite effect.

How is it then that many societies have retreated into an introspective mentality? One that exalts selfishness and worse, proclaims it a right!

This “rights revolution” according to Marguerite Peeters has been and still is the “main weapon used in the west to deconstruct human, cultural and religious tradition”. Under the guise of this self-proclaimed “rights”, societies have been transformed by contraception, abortion and pornography, and other practices which were once illegal, and sometimes subject to imprisonment. These practices are inward looking with the   focus largely on the individual and their self-satisfaction. Hence the expression, “It’s my right”, which is in essence, a sub-category within the broader, ‘right to choose’.

But what about the right to life? Many are opposed to capital punishment on the basis that it is inhumane, cruel or simply barbaric. Why then does this acknowledged right not extend to the un-deniability of life within the womb? How has the mothers legalized ‘right’ to abortion taken precedence over the child’s right to life?After all, it was unthinkable following World War II.

Today, a wedge has been solidly driven between a mother and her unborn child, so much so that the child is viewed as a threat. And this wedge has a name. It is called a right. But this right is wrong and we know it. We know it because instinctively, we understand that human rights are meant to uphold life and the dignity of the individual. The UN thinks so too, categorically stipulating “appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. Thus, any ‘right’ that leads to the taking of a child’s life, can never be right. In fact, it is wrong.

I would suggest then, that ideology, rather than care about women or children, as being the key driver behind the abortion industry. The “rights revolution” has made inroads to normalising what was unthinkable in the not too distant past.

Money is the primary motive.


Living and dying with faith, hope and love

Divine MercyYesterday I attended the Requiem Mass for a man whose life profoundly affected mine – Dr Peter Scanlon.

It was a beautiful Requiem – solemn, a little bit joyful at times and a reminder that our eyes must always be fixed upon God in this life, for it is God who is our final end.

I realised that this is just how Dr Scanlon would have planned  it – teaching those present, even in his death.

Because the Dr Scanlon I knew was a teacher.  His enthusiasm for medicine and the dignity of the human person was palpable.  He would take the time to explain anything asked of him.  He was always willing to give of his time to speak up for the unborn and the devastating effects contraceptives have.  One knew that if you approached Dr Scanlon with a question, you would get a well considered and truthful answer.

It is clear to me, that for Dr Scanlon, every single person mattered.  From the youngest to the eldest, with his gentle spirit, he would make time for everyone.  I am sure he saw in each the face of God.

There are three things that I have learnt from Dr Scanlon over the years:

Courage to speak up in the face of great injustice.  Courage to speak the truth in love.  Courage to correct with humility.  Courage to suffer with a deep trust and abandonment to God and His will.

To embrace the cross.
Suffering is something not to be afraid of.  In suffering we enter into the very heart of Jesus.  When I first learnt of Dr Scanlon’s illness I knew immediately that he would be offering his suffering up.  Yesterday I learnt that his great suffering was for the medical profession and for Catholic priests.  Of course!

Faith, Hope and Love
Okay, so that is three things, but they go together!  Dr Scanlon, in his life and in his death, has taught me to constantly have faith in God and His perfect plan; to hope in perfect trust; and to love God above all else.  With these virtues in place it is easy to love our neighbour.

I have been privileged to know this great man.  It has been an honour to pray for him, his beautiful wife Maria and his seven amazing children over these months.  I have been profoundly affected, as have many others by Dr Scanlon’s life and faith.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.

“This kingdom free of care and filled with joy, crowded with citizens of the Old and New turned all its love and vision to one goal.  O great delight that glittered for their view.”
~ Dante, Paradiso, 31. 25-28





Life affirming ultrasound

Ultrasound PhotoI recently had the experience of sitting in on a 19 week pregnancy scan. For my wife and I it was the first chance to see our new child and as such, we were both looking forward to it.

For many couples, the first pregnancy ultrasound is the first bonding experience they have with their new child.  Before the days of ultrasound, a mother’s first bonding to the new baby was started when she first felt the baby moving, but increasingly, the ultrasound is the first experience that mothers and fathers have with their new child.  This is recognised by medical researchers. It’s also probably been a factor in society’s increasing recognition of the humanity of the pre born child.

Forming this relationship between parents and the child is important. The strength of the bond will affect many outcomes for the child, particularly for the child’s education.

I have personally found a great deal of difference between sonographers.  I’ve had the privilege of seeing Shari Richard at work, and seen her infectious enthusiasm for the unborn child, and the positive effect it has on the child’s parents.  Few sonographers can match her enthusiasm.  I’ve seen other sonographers at work, including one working on me, although she wasn’t going to find a baby and wasn’t looking for one!  They differ greatly in the way they interact with parents about their new baby.  The most recent sonographer we had always referred to our child as ‘baby’, e.g. “This is babies head” etc.

But this isn’t always the case.  We had a scan in a previous pregnancy when the sonographer became very quiet.  Later we found out the reason – she had found a medical problem with our child.  Although it was potentially very serious, a couple of surgeries fixed the problem before it could do any serious damage, and our child now enjoys excellent health.

But why the difference in the response of the sonographer?  Our baby didn’t stop being our baby because he had a medical problem. We certainly didn’t love him any less.

But sonographers and other medical professional are influenced by abortion.  Abortion is considered a solution to many birth defects, so it’s natural for sonographers to moderate their enthusiasm for the baby during scans.

But this could affect the start of the formation of the bond between baby and parents. Crisis Pregnancy Centres have known for a long time the benefit of an expectant mother seeing her baby by ultrasound.  It encourages the bond to form between mother and child.  But ultrasound can be used in a way that doesn’t encourage this bonding.  Clinic profit motives and abortion quotas can affect the way ultrasound results are presented and interpreted.  A recent study of 15 500 women attending Planned Parenthood abortion clinics showed that viewing ultrasound images had very little effect on the mothers decision to abort her child.  It’s hard to imagine the ultrasound technicians in these abortion clinics wanted to present the humanity of the pre-born child and facilitate bonding between mother and child.

Similarly, using ultrasound as a search and destroy mission to eliminate less than perfect is not a good way to encourage bonding. It’s important for the sonographer to show the beauty and humanity of the pre-born child.  This is the start of a relationship that will last a lifetime.  It’s the most important relationship, and it deserves a good start.  Children do better when there is good bonding with their parents.  It’s here that the sensitivity to the minority that have abortions, affects the rest of us – and our children.

It is one of the ways that abortion affects us all.