I was recently asked to speak to representatives of the Knights of Columbus in Edmonton (Canada). Below is text of my presentation.
Mark Davis Pickup
I usually speak about euthanasia and assisted suicide. As someone who has been crippled with an aggressive and degenerative disease I am deeply concerned at devaluing of human life of Canadians who are chronically ill and seriously disabled. As you may or may not know, there is currently a legal challenge to Canada’s laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide that is coming out of British Columbia, and another out of Quebec. Public opinion polls have consistently revealed that 70% of Canadians are in favour of assisted suicide for the terminally and chronically ill and severely disabled. It is hard to believe that so many of my fellow Canadian citizens hold people like me in such low regard.
Keep in mind, legal challenges to Canada’s law against assisted suicide are happening in the wake of Canada’s Parliament giving all-party support last October to the idea of a national suicide prevention strategy – yet many of those same MPs also support assisted suicide for people like me. Although unstated, I hear what is being said. There is a common view that healthy but suicidal people should be prevented from taking their lives while suicidal disabled people should be helped to take their lives. People like me are seen in many circles as having less value than the rest of the population.
I don’t know why this should surprise me. Canada aborts unwanted or inconvenient preborn babies yet will go to extraordinary measures to save a wanted unborn child. Why does being wanted or unwanted, convenient or inconvenient define human value? (I thought civilized societies move toward enlightenment, not away from it.)
Civilized societies, by proper definition, protect the weakest, the unwanted and unloved, in all circumstances and eventualities. The great statesman and American founding father Thomas Jefferson said “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” This is true.
As you know, every year in Canada there approximately 100,000 abortions. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien once said there is social peace about this issue. He was wrong. His comment showed the difference between a politician and a statesman.
There is not social peace about abortion. It continues to tatter at the social fabric of this great nation. In Alberta, there are 12,000 abortions each year and they are all paid for by the taxpayers. A woman can have an abortion for any reason at all or no reason whatsoever and she can have as many abortions as she wants at taxpayer expense. This must not continue. People of good will, such as the Knights of Columbus, have an important role to play in turning around our culture. In many ways, Canada lost its moral compass on the critical life issues of our day.
Alberta is facing a provincial election in the near future. Ask your candidates where they stand on tax funding of abortion. If they say are pro-choice, tell them that 6-8 million dollars goes to pay for abortions annually in Alberta. Are they equally committed to providing that same amount of money to provide women with life-affirming alternatives to abortion? If their answer is no then they are not pro-choice, they are pro-abortion, and are unworthy of holding public office.
Personally I am even harder lined. If someone is so-called “pro-choice” I consider them unfit for public office. This has resulted in the accusation that I'm a one issue voter over this stand. No, I am concerned about many issues but this disqualifies a candidate in the same way that an anti-Semite disqualifies himself from public office. The right to life is the first and highest human right because all other human rights depend upon the right to life. A person who is pro-choice is not committed to universal human rights -- rather selective human rights.
In May, in cities across Canada, people of will participate in the annual March for Life. On May 17th in Edmonton, it will begin at the provincial legislature and go to Churchill Square and back to the legislature. It provides an opportunity to send a message to those with the power to change things – that killing the most vulnerable Albertans is an outrage and barbaric. Paying the killers to do it is intolerable.
Beyond taking to the streets, pro-Life people have done many things to reach out to abortion-minded or post-abortive women. Pregnancy Counselling Centres in various communities reach out to women contemplating abortion. Project Rachel reaches out to post-abortive women.
Knights of Columbus have been a supportive part of the pro-Life equation. The purchase of an ultrasound for the Pregnancy Counselling Centre was a wonderful contribution.
Let me make a proposal: A few years ago, Columbus Magazine carried a story about a Knights' sponsored conference in San Francisco for men affected by abortion. If memory serves me correctly, they were not sure what kind of response they would get. They were stunned as men from across America registered for the conference. I would like to see a similar event for men in Alberta that would help them reconcile with God and themselves about something that may have bothered them for years and they kept in silence.
You see, for decades feminists told society that abortion was a women’s issue and only affects women. That is not true. For every abortion there is a man involved too. Let me tell about my experience.
When I was a teenager, my girlfriend and I found ourselves faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I pressured her to have an abortion. I did not want a baby, I wanted to party and have sex without consequences. She didn’t want to do have an abortion but I pressured her. Eventually she gave in to my pressure. She didn’t really know what an abortion was or that we were going to kill a child, not removing a blob of tissue as it was presented then (and still is). That woman later became my wife, LaRee. We have regretted our abortion for 40 years. Eventually LaRee sought counselling to help her resolve her grief. I was left to my own means.
In the years after the abortion, particularly after our next child and was born, there was the unstated remembrance that she was not my first child. Fatherhood fit me like a glove. I was the loving protector and provider for my children ― except for one. I poured myself into the pro-Life movement as penance for what I had done and to assuage my remorse.
There may be other men who have regrets about abortion. When a man is young and sowing his wild oats, so to speak, he may not care. That comes later. As he matures, his family takes on increasing importance. His careless and false start as a young man can become an underlying or private sorrow for him.
Why not sponsor a retreat/conference for men of abortion? How many men in Edmonton grieve lost fatherhood because of abortion! Are there one hundred or a thousand men? Until someone reaches out, we will not know.
In this city of a million people, even if there are only a hundred men who need to work through an abortion in their life, then a retreat or conference to help them is worth it. They need to forgive themselves and be reconciled with God.
This is one way the Knights of Columbus can contribute to the tragedy of abortion and encourage healing. Thank you.