Youth Protecting Youth: YPY Member Interviewed on “The Koala Bear Writer”

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

As part of National Sanctity of Life month, Youth Protecting Youth’s current vice-president, Catherine Shenton, was interviewed by Bonnie Way, writer of the Koala Bear Writer blog. In the interview, Catherine shared some of her experiences from working in the pro-life field, as well as gives some insight into what YPY does on the campus of UVic. The interview can be read here.

Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Latimer granted full parole

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Robert Latimer, who killed his daughter Tracy in 1993, has been granted full parole. Tracy had cerebral palsy. Here is a reflection from Rebecca Richmond of NCLN on the matter, pointing out that while cerebral palsy made Tracy’s life more difficult, it did not make her life any less valuable:

“The headline of the CBC article jumped out at me this morning, bringing with it many memories and a good deal of anger.  I was only 6 when Robert Latimer killed his daughter Tracy, who was 12 years old at the time.  I recall my mother’s fury and the letter-writing campaign she helped organize to inform politicians of the significance of this issue.  When I was a bit older and Latimer was appealing his sentence at the Supreme Court, I joined her efforts.  The leniency shown towards Latimer angered me then, and angers me now.  Yet what concerns me even more is the absence of condemnation of his actions on the part of the general public.

Consider the reaction to the murder of Karissa Boudreau, strangled to death by her own mother Penny.  Public outrage was enormous and the judge who ruled on the case told Penny, “You can never call yourself mother.”

Yet, if you read the comments posted on today’s article with news of Latimer’s full parole, you will see an entirely different reaction: Latimer is welcomed back, called a hero, and even suggested as a Member of Parliament because of his ‘integrity’.  It seems to me that the only thing more horrific than a father killing his daughter and calling it “love” is having the general public sympathize and support that father.

Growing up, I knew a young man with cerebral palsy.  The doctors said he would never walk or communicate.  Well, he proved those doctors wrong.  Life was difficult for his family and for him, yet his value was no less.  And as we grew up with him at school, we were taught that love meant sacrificing a bit of ourselves.  We took turns spending lunch hours with him.  We started learning sign language to better communicate with him.  Eventually the rest of the class moved ahead in grades, we moved into a different wing of the school and eventually to a different school.  But I don’t think we’ll ever forget our time with him, the wide smiles he gave us and the laughter that we shared.  He enriched our lives and made us better people.

I don’t doubt that life was difficult for Tracy and difficult for her parents, who struggled to see her suffer.  But how do we measure and quantify suffering?  Tracy was described as a generally cheerful girl who loved music and visits to the circus.  I’ve known people – with no physical pain – whose suffering was so deep they could not even smile.  Yet their right to life was never questioned.  So why is it that shooting a severely depressed teenage daughter, for example, would outrage the public while gassing Tracy, a cheerful 12 year old with cerebral palsy, is considered compassionate?

Tracy did not have the same capabilities as many of us.  She lived her life differently and was quite vulnerable, vulnerability her father took advantage of.  Her dependence and her simple mental state do not give us, however, any special right to determine her life’s value and whether or not we will care for her or kill her.

The reality is that love involves sacrifice and it means suffering alongside those we love.  And no matter how we spin the story, it never means killing.

For more background, see the Lifesitenews article here.”


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Reflection on support for mothers

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

An article recently appeared on Fox News, reporting on an organization called Students for Life of America investigating the University of North Carolina’s student health plan. Another organization known as Feminists for Life also offered its reflection on the UNC health plan and the actions of Students for Life of America. In their reflection, Feminists for Life president, Serrin Foster, points out that “the issue is not just the school’s insurance coverage”, but that “it is also common for students to have no maternity coverage in their health insurance” In other words, not only is it a sad reality that abortion is covered by many student health care plans and health packages offered by employers in both the United States and Canada, but there is also commonly very little support for student mothers in general, such as no maternity coverage for students in the health insurance plans. In British Columbia, all abortions are tax-funded. According to the University of Victoria’s Housing website, there are 181 housing units designated as “Family Housing Units” with reasonable rent costs, although in order to be eligible, parents must be taking a full load of courses. In addition, it is recommended that mothers apply a year in advance due to the high demand for these units. The reality for many women is that the prospect of no health insurance coverage and minimal financial support services to help off-set the cost of raising a child can be a significant factor in pushing a woman to decide to abort her child. Women who are pregnant should feel that they have the support to be able to give birth to and raise a child while still being able to pursue her education. As a society, we need to better support women in this regard. Women need to know that there are services and support available to help them to choose life for their child, rather than feeling that abortion is the only option.

 In the meantime, we are very excited to announce that Youth Protecting Youth will be offering an annual bursary for single mothers on campus. This bursary exists to support mothers and help enable them to pursue a university education while still supporting a child.  This bursary can be applied for by completing a General Bursary Application. We hope that this bursary will be a building block in the effort to change the culture and the way society views children in the context of education. It can never be acceptable to kill a born child for the reason that the child would interfere with the education of the parents. We will continue to work towards the day when this will also be true for the pre-born child. For more information about services in the Victoria area, see the “Need Help” section of the YPY blog.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Compassion and Choices

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Compassion and Choices is an American organization dedicated to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life.

Dying with Dignity is a similar organization based in Canada, and is dedicated to improving the quality of dying and to expanding end of life choices in Canada. They declare themselves to be “Canadians’ voice for choice at the end of life.”

Better care, increased choices, and dying a dignified death – these are things we all want in our old age. But words can be misleading. Both of these organizations maintain that end of life choices must include physician assisted suicide (PAS), an option they define as a “compassionate choice”.

But what does true compassion entail? Is PAS really a compassionate choice that upholds a person’s dignity?

In April 2010, 74% of the Canadian Parliament voted against legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. Soon after the vote, the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (PCPCC) was created, a committee that is “dedicated to promoting awareness of, fostering substantive research and constructive dialogue on palliative and compassionate care in Canada.”

This past Tuesday, November 9th, the committee held a hearing in Victoria which featured multiple presenters speaking on elder abuse and the need to change our current medical framework to provide better care for the elderly. All the speakers had a passion for building a better health care system to support our aging population.

One of the most pressing questions to be answered was: should this system include euthanasia or physician assisted suicide (PAS)? Many speakers saw a potential need for PAS, but “not yet”: we must first build a better palliative care system, and then assess the need for PAS down the road. We must note the difference between euthanasia and PAS. Euthanasia is defined as when one person, usually a medical professional, directly and intentionally ends the life of individual. Assisted suicide is defined as the aiding, abating, or encouraging by an individual to another individual such that the victim is able to end their own life.

According to Wanda Morris, a spokesperson for Dying with Dignity, compassionate care must include PAS, and ensuring this choice is available is the fundamental principle in providing a person with a dignified death.  Let us look to see what this compassionate choice really involves before we succumb to this deceptive use of “choice” and “compassion”.

Organizations that advocate for legalizing PAS state that end of life decisions are a matter of autonomy, and “the only way that every person can be assured of [their] dignity is through legally protected choice.” But our autonomy and dignity is not solely dependent on our ability to make choices. If this were the case, then any request to die would have to be respected, including ones from people who are close to death, and ones based on momentary feelings or clinical depression. Therefore those who are not terminally ill would have to be allowed to choose to die. What then would stop a teenager from making the legally protected choice to have assistance in ending their life when they are depressed after a bad break up? Would we call it compassion that allowed that individual to be killed and not counselled? 

If such actions are justified merely because one must be allowed to exercise their autonomy in making a choice, who then will have the authority to draw the line and say that some choices are wrong? Under the illusion of “choice” we would be creating a society that legally allows individuals to harm themselves or other human beings.

And does the power to make these choices reside solely with the patient, or will outside influences affect the decision made? Whether intentionally or subconsciously, pressure may be placed on those who are ill, disabled, or elderly, influencing their choice on whether or not to further burden their family or health care system. Studies reveal that where euthanasia and PAS are legal there have been abuses, and people have not been cared for appropriately.

A recent study [i]regarding euthanasia practice in Belgium found that 66 of 208 euthanasia deaths were performed without explicit request or consent. Is this compassionate? None of these people had a choice in their premature death.

In Oregon in 2007, 49 people[ii] were reported to have died by assisted suicide. None of these people were offered a psychological or psychiatric assessment. Furthermore, a study[iii] published in October 2008 showed that 26% of people requesting assisted suicide were depressed or experiencing feelings of hopelessness. Is society showing these people compassion by allowing them complete access to death, or would it be more compassionate to give them life-affirming options that reveal their dignity is not dependant solely on their choices?

One of the principal precepts of medical ethics is, first, do no harm.” The majority of society adheres to this principle, and agrees that intentionally killing is wrong. But when the killing is disguised with terms such as “choice”, “dignity”, and even “compassion,” people lose sight of the tragic reality of the deed being done.  True autonomy is an essential component of human dignity, but it does not include the freedom to do harm.

Dignity can only be affirmed, realized, and answered through true compassion. This compassion recognizes and instils the beauty and inherent value of life in those who have forgotten it, or who have been otherwise convinced that their lives no longer possess it. True compassion must include better palliative care for the dying; this is something all the speakers wanted, as do Canadians.

In a recent Environics group survey[iv] , 71% of the respondents stated that the government needs to place a greater priority on improving palliative care rather than legalizing euthanasia. In addition the study found that support of legalized euthanasia is decreasing.  63% of the respondents were afraid that the elderly would feel pressured into being euthanized in order to avoid health care costs, and 78% were afraid that individuals would be euthanized without giving their consent.  As we can see by the studies in Belgium, these abuses can easily turn into a reality.

Is physician assisted suicide a compassionate choice? I would conclude that it is not. We must not get caught up in the euphemistic terms of “choice” and “compassion”. People who kill themselves or have others do so in order to gain a “dignified” death have in fact lost their sense of dignity and self worth. The dignity of a human being is not dependent on our state of pain or level of ability. Dignity is something that is inherent to all people, and the only way to affirm it is not to kill the sufferer, but rather to support and protect the individual by providing life-giving, compassionate choices, and doing our best to alleviate their suffering. A society that kills the most vulnerable in our society, the frail, suffering, and lonely, effectively confirms these people’s thoughts that their life is no longer worth living; such a society shows itself to be uncompassionate.


[i] Kenneth, C., et al (2010). Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 182 (9).

[ii] Oregon`s Death with Dignity Act- 2007. Death with Dignity Act. http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/docs/year10.pdf

[iii] BMJ-British Medical Journal (2008). Assisted Suicide Laws May Overlook Depressed Patients. ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/10/081007192534.htm

[iv] Environics group (2010). Canadians’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia.  http://www.lifecanada.org/html/resources/polling/2010_Environics_Report-Euthanasia_Eng.pdf


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Overheard at UVic

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Who: Students like YOU.

What: Quotes from Club’s Day

Where: Youth Protecting Youth’s information/sign-up booth

Why (you should read this article):

(a) If you are one of the many who claim to be “undecided,” prepare to be reassured. You are not the only one who is unsure of what you think about abortion.

(b) If you are a pro-lifer like me, you may be surprised!

Clubs Day was a major success. YPY gained many new members and plenty of valuable experience dialoguing with students on important life issues. You may, however, be surprised by the responses we received when we posed the questions “When do you think life begins?” and “Have you ever discussed life issues?” to curious students who stopped by our table. The majority of our audience was, as you may have already guessed, undecided on the issue of abortion. Some conversation-opening quotes we wrote down in response to the questions above were “I guess I’m undecided” and “No, I guess I’ve never really talked about it before.”

With Canada’s abortion laws as they currently are (non-existent), it is difficult not to wonder if the reason is that the majority of our country simply does not care about abortion. Upon reading a poster that stated Canada’s current (lack of a) law: “Abortion is legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy,” one abortion advocate confidently exclaimed “That’s not true!” and said she would go look it up herself. Other passers-by conveyed similar notions of disbelief.

The real problem, then, is NOT that people do not care. The problem is that people do not know what abortion really is and what it does to a pre-born child. Specific statements we heard confirming this were “I guess I can’t really take a side because I don’t know much about it,” and “I’m not sure really, but I don’t think an egg is a person.”

In response to the last one, we agree with you. A haploid egg is not a person. However, a newly formed zygote, genetically complete, unique, living and growing, is. Life begins at conception. This scientifically accepted fact is seldom socially accepted.

Comments such as the one above spurred discussions that, on some occasions led from “I guess I’ve never thought about it” to “I want to learn more” to “That makes sense” (actual quotes from a lengthy conversation I had with one young man who shall remain unnamed).

So although we may come across those who, upon hearing our message, mumble “Oh, you’re pro-life?!” there are also many students out there who are thirsting for the truth, but who are afraid to go out of their way to receive it.

I want to end on a happy note. I encountered one beautiful girl named Elisa (permission given to mention) who told me how she had become pregnant in her first semester at UVic, and decided to keep her baby. She said that her parents supported her in her decision and reassured her saying that “It’s not a problem, it’s a baby.” She told me it was the best decision she ever made.

I think we can all be inspired by Elisa’s story, knowing there are beautifully strong heroines out there like her, who, despite unexpected circumstances, are bravely and shamelessly choosing life for their children.

In closing, I am glad you were born.

Loving Life,

Lauren


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Pro-Lifers Connect Across Borders

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by YPY Secretary. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Dedicated pro-life activists in Ireland are doing good work, trying to keep Irish women and their unborn children safe from the devastating hurt of abortion. Government data released recently shows that in Britain, where Irish women sometimes go to have abortions, dozens of teenage girls aged 17 or under who had an abortion last year had had at least two abortions previously. The statistics follow controversy last month about Britain’s first television advertisement for abortion services.

We of Youth Protecting Youth like to raise awareness of the challenges advocates for life across the country and around the world are bravely facing, so we are responding to the Irish pro-life group Youth Defence, which has asked us to tell our club members and online followers about their pro-life efforts.

Check out their facebook page and get aquainted with the group. We can always do more to protect and defend life, and today we are connecting across borders to transform hearts.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Who inspires you?

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyvicepresident. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

I was recently given a wonderful opportunity: I got to meet Nick Vujicic, a 27-year-old motivational speaker from Australia. To date, he has traveled to 32 countries and spoken to millions of people about his story and his faith.

What makes this man so inspirational? He was born without arms or legs. His parents didn’t expect this while his mother was pregnant – they found out when he was born. I encourage you to learn more about his story. This man has overcome so many obstacles and has dedicated his life to helping others.

But what is this doing on the pro-life club’s blog? The unfortunate reality of our society is that when a woman is pregnant and prenatal testing reveals that the baby may have some sort of disability, there is significant pressure for her to choose abortion. After meeting Nick Vujicic we met a woman whose young daughter was born without arms. Doctors encouraged her to have an abortion, but she chose not to. Her daughter is two years old now, and she’s a wonderful little girl.

Many times in discussions of abortion people have said to me “What about babies that are going to be born with disabilities? Isn’t it better to spare them from such a difficult life?” I ask you: Would someone be justified in killing Nick Vujicic because he has no arms or legs and faces many challenges in his life because of this? Of course not! Would someone be justified in killing a toddler born without arms because she will face many obstacles as she grows up? Of course not! Would someone be justified in killing a newborn baby because of his or her differences or disabilities? Of course not! So why would we kill an unborn human being for these reasons?

This brings us back to the fundamental question in the abortion debate: what are the unborn? As American apologist Gregory Koukl says, “If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.” Biologically, from the moment of fertilization, there exists a unique individual of the human species – a human being.

Our value is determined by what we are (human beings), not by what our capabilities are. We don’t have to look too hard to find examples of people who inspire us precisely because they have overcome significant challenges in their life. Who inspires you?


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Celebrating and Defending Life

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by YPY Secretary. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

“We are here to celebrate life.” These words were spoken by Pope John Paul II in one of his visits to Canada, and were repeated by Bishop Monroe from the Diocese of Kamloops at this year’s March for Life. Over 2000 participants walked through the streets of Victoria to the legislative buildings, bearing witness to their love and respect for life from conception until natural death. Our celebration of the beauty of life is tainted by forty years of unlimited access to abortion in Canada, but we are not without hope that we can make a change.

The march united people of all ages, representing a variety of religious beliefs from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and other communities. It was encouraging to see so many enthusiastic youth lead the way to the legislative buildings, carrying the pro-life banners, and cheering loudly whenever they received positive comments from bystanders. As Rev. Rob Fitterer from Emmanuel Baptist Church noted in his address to the marchers, the younger generation has noticed the devastating effects of abortion and the lifestyles that lead to it and is embracing an authentic vision of life. Nowhere is this more evident than on university campuses, where Youth Protecting Youth and other pro-life clubs across Canada are bearing witness to the truth despite facing censorship. Minerva Macapagal from Capilano College reminded those gathered that although pro-life advocacy on university and college campuses may make us unpopular, it is essential; we who understand the reality of abortion have a responsibility to tell the truth.

Rachel Daniels told the truth as she described an authentic feminism to march participants: “True feminism bears witness to life. True feminism chooses life.” We must be compassionate towards women who are contemplating abortion or who have had one, and reach out to them so they too can understand their dignity as women.

“Give up, you lost.” As Rev. Rob Fitterer pointed out, these words have been thrown in the faces of many pro-life advocates in the past four decades. Since Canada abolished its laws on abortion, over three million unborn babies have died, and countless women and men have been hurt; this is abortion’s legacy. But pro-life advocates are not going to sit back and watch as the children of our nation are killed.

Drawing a confident comparison to VE day, Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform spoke of a new day – a day coming soon – when we will celebrate victory over abortion. Jeff Charleson expressed a beautiful foreshadowing of the joy we will feel when this day comes, as he sang his uncle’s traditional First Nations song for the marchers. Each of us needs to work in our own way to save the unborn, and someday soon we will celebrate VA day.

Anastasia Pearse, Eric Kyfiuk, & Catherine Shenton, of Youth Protecting Youth






Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.