I’m rambling a bit here, but all these disjointed thoughts about some life issues seem to be drifting together.

There’s nothing new under the sun, says the book of Ecclesiastes. What’s strange to me is old news to someone in a different place or situation.

I’m thinking in particular of two women from Canada whom I recently met, and of the parents of Charlie Gard, whose story you may already know (see Pete’s reflection on Charlie’s death).

Charlie Gard is at rest now, and his parents in their grief are at least spared further attention from the European Commission on Human Rights, which denied them custody of their critically-ill son. When they started seeking treatment for their baby – AND raising money for it, so the National Health Service in their country (Britain) couldn’t plead lack of resources – I’m sure they were shocked to find out that a hospital could deny them custody. The “experts” knew better. The “experts” were going to ration care, since the parents wouldn’t ration it themselves.

It can’t happen here, I thought. We don’t have a single-payer system for health care (at least not yet). I ventured to say as much to a few people. Two of them gave me a where-have-you-been look and reminded me about Justina Pelletier. Shame on me for needing to be reminded.

Nothing new.

The Canadian women I mentioned were attending a pro-life conference with me, and we chatted over coffee as we waited for the day’s work to begin. They told me about their province where a “bubble zone” law is in effect and where doctors who don’t do abortions are obliged to refer abortion-minded patients to more accommodating providers.

I was surprised at what they said, until I reflected that my own state has a buffer zone law, although no abortion provider will use it for fear of litigation which will result in the law being thrown out. (Our law is modeled on the one the Supreme Court threw out in the McCullen case from Massachusetts.) Likewise, conscience protections for health care providers have been defeated again and again in my state legislature, although so far no statute requires abortion referrals.

Nothing new. The details are different between my state and their province, but the issues are the same.

My Canadian companions weren’t complaining, though. They spoke in matter-of-fact tones, without hand-wringing. They go out to witness near abortion facilities anyway. They support physicians and other providers whose conscience rights are at risk. They refuse to shrug and go home, thinking “game over.”

What a witness they were to me, in their quiet way.

For that matter, there was no “game over” for women at that pro-life conference who spoke about “adverse prenatal diagnosis.” Those moms we listened to were all told during pregnancy that they had defective babies. The language varied, but the message was the same. All were told they could abort. All said no (and I’m sure a few said “hell, no”).

The outcomes: some of the children died in infancy – but they died in the arms of their parents, not in the custody of the state. Other children were born and, lo and behold, had none of the maladies that had been diagnosed or predicted prenatally by the “experts.” Still others were born with complex conditions that proved manageable and treatable.

Among the lessons: doctors don’t know everything. Nothing new there.

That brings me back to the family of Charlie Gard. I’m sure that neither of his parents woke up one day and said, “Gee, I think I’ll be pro-life today!” They weren’t pursuing a cause. They were defending their son. They weren’t denying the reality of their son’s condition, but they defended their own right to be parents and Charlie’s rights as well, first to receive treatment and then to die in their loving arms.

One unexpected situation at a time, one appalling governmental policy at a time, all the people I’m thinking about refused to say game over. The family of Charlie Gard, the Canadian women who refused to be discouraged, the mothers who were told their kids were hopelessly imperfect: I have things to learn from each of them.

And that’s nothing new.

“It’s important to build community in a culture that wants to silence pro-life women and their beliefs.” — Melissa Ohden.

Challenge accepted.

In a time of handmaids who don’t want to see Planned Parenthood privatized and states that want to gag pro-life documentarians, there’s more pro-life work going on than will ever be documented by trending hashtags. Good to know, when encouragement can seem hard to come by.

I just returned from Orlando and the second annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference. The conference is the brainchild of Abby Johnson, a woman who puts the “active” in activist: former Planned Parenthood manager, now pro-life, and founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry to abortion workers who want to leave the industry.

She and her team gathered a unique array of speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to inform and challenge the women who came from all over the country to attend the conference. People whose work doesn’t get much coverage in conventional media told their stories. Women whose choices aren’t celebrated by today’s “progressives” (sic) were there to encourage other women who may yet face something like an adverse prenatal diagnosis.

This wasn’t a political event, yet it was unmistakably a boost to anyone like me who’s an advocate for pro-life public policy. The atmosphere was dynamic, not defensive. The women I met there were positive without being saccharine. The things they’re doing, quietly and under the radar, are making people’s lives better. St. John Paul II would call it building a culture of life.

And there was some attitude in the room. Call it joyful and defiant determination. Heady stuff.

Here are a few observations and links from the conference, when you’re ready to turn away from everyday headlines for awhile. There’s good news out there.

  • The women who took the stage first had all heard the same thing from doctors during their pregnancies: something’s wrong with your pregnancy; it’s OK to abort. Some of the diagnoses proved to be accurate, others not. These mothers talked about where they found support, and where they didn’t. Some brought their children with them, so we could see what an “adverse diagnosis” looks like: a person, not a concept or a sentence. Lacey Buchanan: “I get the privilege of raising an exception.”
  • And speaking of exceptions and the right to life, I love Rebecca Kiessling. I’d heard her speak before, but she’s absolutely worth hearing again. Hear her, and you’ll never look at rape-and-incest exceptions the same way again. She’s one of those exceptions.
  • Exhibitors included Democrats for Life (yes!), Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and Secular Pro-Life. You never know when someone will share your commitment to defending human dignity. Secular Pro-Life can take credit for one of the best stickers in sight: Call Me an Extremist, But I Think Dismemberment is Wrong.
  • Are there pro-life doctors, who won’t do abortions, or refer for them? Yes, and I saw three of them in one place at the conference. Asked if she worked in a hostile environment, one of the physicians answered, “Not since moving to a pro-life practice.” May their number increase. Check out the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs site, just because it’s good to know they’re out there.

I could go on, and I probably will, on other sites. You get the idea, though: dynamic and committed women, without a handmaid in sight. That’s life beyond the hashtags.

Hulu got some free publicity last week when several costumed “handmaids” showed up in the New Hampshire House gallery to protest a fetal homicide bill, which would allow prosecution for acts of violence causing the death of a preborn child.

“Handmaids” in the N.H. House gallery. Photo by Beth Scaer; used with permission, all rights reserved.

The bonneted “handmaids” were inspired by the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. The story is about “handmaids” used by men for sex and surrogate childbearing in a society where fertility is at a premium. In the story, women are used, sex is coerced, and the government is fine with that: bad situations all around.

So what does The Handmaid’s Tale have to do with a fetal homicide bill?

Following the lead of the ACLU, abortion lobbyists, and perhaps UltraViolet, the bonneted protesters in the House gallery apparently believed that a bill recognizing unborn victims of violence was somehow an attack on women’s rights. New Hampshire’s bill specifies that it would not apply to any decision made by a pregnant woman, including abortion; the protesters nonetheless objected to the bill. The “handmaids” were silent right up to the point when the House passed the bill anyway. That was enough to provoke a handmaid or two to call out “shame!”

I wonder how that “shame” sounded to the man sitting nearby in the gallery whose pregnant daughter had been injured in an auto collision and whose injuries had led to the death of her preborn child, a boy named Griffin. The child was delivered in the aftermath of the crash, but died shortly thereafter. Because his injuries had been sustained in utero, his death could not be considered a homicide under law, regardless of any culpability that the driver may have had for the mother’s injuries. Since then, Griffin’s grandfather has fought for fetal homicide legislation.

In the 2009 Lamy decision, the New Hampshire Supreme Court had to overturn a drunk driver’s homicide conviction. That driver had slammed into a taxi at 100 miles per hour. The taxi driver’s son was delivered by emergency c-section but died two weeks later from injuries sustained in utero as a result of the crash. That was no homicide, ruled the Court, with obvious regret.

The unanimous Lamy decision included this nudge to legislators: “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.” Now, in 2017, that nudge just might yield a fetal homicide law. Might. Abortion advocates are fiercely lobbying the Governor to veto the bill, in spite of the Governor’s previously-announced support for the measure. They successfully beat back another fetal homicide bill five years ago when a previous Governor cast a veto.

The women whose losses I’ve described sustained serious physical injuries themselves, and prosecutors had the option (which in the Lamy case was exercised) of filing criminal charges against the party responsible for those injuries. The deaths of their children, though, were not crimes under current New Hampshire law. The women’s childbearing choices were thwarted. Their reproductive rights were compromised in deadly ways, and the law could not recognize that.

Apparently, women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term aren’t exercising the kind of reproductive rights the costumed “handmaids” wanted to promote. Go figure.

The main impact of the bonneted protesters was to bring Hulu’s program to the attention of many people in the State House who hadn’t been aware of it. I hope Hulu appreciated the free promotion.

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com

On this anniversary of Roe v Wade there is one aspect of the abortion debate that people do their best to shy away from, the “rape & incest” exception.

Despite being statistically insignificant in terms of abortion This tends to come up any time one defends life because it plays the shock and horror card and attempts to size the moral high ground away from the subject of life. In fact in a discussion today it was played on me.

And the answer to that question comes to us via the Classic Star Trek TNG episode Sins of the Father

In the episode a Klingon Officer is assigned to the enterprise as part of an officer exchange program & does all he can to provoke Worf. He eventually reveals why

Worf: So you asked to serve aboard the Enterprise to watch me?
Kern: It was an excellent opportunity to see what kind of Klingon you were.
Or if you were a Klingon at all!
Worf: Your deception offends me, Brother.
Kern: It should. But it was required.
Worf: To satisfy your curiosity.
Kern: No. Much more. You are the eldest son. The challenge is yours to make.
Worf:Challenge?
Kern:The Klingon High Council has judged our father a traitor to the Empire.

Worf goes to Picard explains the charges against his father, asks for a leave and explains the stakes:

Worf: Our family name will be disgraced for seven generations. It is my responsibility to clear his name or answer for his crimes.
Capt Picard: Answer for them?
Worf: The family of a Klingon warrior is responsible for his actions and he is responsible for theirs. If I fail in my challenge, I will be executed.

So the standard for the Klingon is your father commits the crime, you oughta die.

Under klingon law Worf is expected to die for the sins of his father.

Worf: I am Worf, son of Mogh. I have come to challenge the lies that have been spoken of my father.
K’Mpec: Worf, son of Mogh,you have challenged the judgement of the Council. Are you prepared to answer for this if you fail?
Worf: Yes! With my life.

That his father is dead has no bearing, that he has lived a useful and honorable life doesn’t matter. His father committed a terrible crime so by Klingon law he must die.

Sound familiar? It sure did to me.

I don’t accept the an abortion exception for rape any more than I’d support the execution of the children of the cologne attackers for their father’s acts.

When you say you’ll accept exceptions for rape & incest you’re saying “unborn life matters unless one or both parents are evil”

I won’t

But that’s only half the comparison applying to a tiny minority of cases, the Klingon law comparison applies even to abortion in general as this episode further illustrates.

But that’s the 2nd post

Oh one last thought, while Worf was willing to risk death if his father was condemned, the unborn doesn’t get that option.

Update: Part two is now up and there is an interesting epilogue to a later episode worth noting as well.

At the end the episode Redemption Part 2 (a two parter worth watching) The new head of the Klingon Empire has just convicted Torval, the son of Duras who killed Worf’s wife, and as a reward for Worf’s faithful service does this:

Gowron: …Worf. This child’s family wrongly took your name and your honour from you. In return, I give his life to you.

Worf takes the dagger offered him and Everyone including Toral, waits for him to deliver the killing blow. He does not. Finally his brother approaches him.

Kurn: What’s wrong? Kill him!
Worf: No.
Kurn: But it’s our way. It is the Klingon way.
Worf: I know. But it is not my way. Turning to the assembly he loudly declares This boy has done me no harm and I will not kill him for the crimes of his family.
Gowron: Then it falls to Kurn.
Worf: No. No, you gave me his life, and I have spared it.

When a woman chooses to defy convention and spare her child, a child completely innocent (unlike the above mentioned Torval who was the figurehead of the rebellion) of the crime of it’s father. They are like Worf bravely defying the pressure of our modern and often unjust culture.

Such a woman should be honored and celebrated.

***********

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday a doctors visit for IV antibiotics for the illness that kept me from work this week turned into a hospital admission for the first time in decades.

As I’m apparently contagious I may miss a few more days of work and given the wonderful effect that Obamacare has had on my medical coverage (like your plan keep your plan my ass) I find myself in fear of what the bill from the Hospital will be. (fyi they did a good job so whatever it is they earned it)

Given those facts I would I ask you to please consider hitting DaTipJar.




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If you need a smile today here’s a story that provides it:

A Florida boy given just days to live when he was born missing most of his brain and skull celebrated his 1st birthday last month as his father looked back on the family’s unbelievable journey.

Jaxon Emmett Buell, who has an extremely rare brain malformation called microhydranencephaly, was born on Aug. 17, 2014. A year later, the Tavares toddler is teething and learning to say “mama” and “daddy” — and his parents, Brandon and Brittany Buell, relish every moment with their boy.

This the part of the story planned parenthood hates:

Doctors first detected some kind of malformation during Brittany Buell’s pregnancy, and gave the couple the option to terminate, Brandon Buell said.

Experts assured the Buells that their baby wasn’t in pain and there were no added risks to Brittany Buell’s health, so the couple decided to carry their baby to full term — even if he’d only have a few days to live after birth.

Remember conventional wisdom, even medical conventional wisdom is always right, right up until it isn’t.