“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, October 26, 2007

Euthanasia in Catholic hospitals?

I write a column for Canada’s Western Catholic Reporter newspaper. One of my recent articles was published under the title “Withholding water and nutrition means murder” (see http://www.wcr.ab.ca/columns/markpickup/2007/markpickup100807.shtml). It dealt with the subject of euthanasia by withholding food and water from dying or disabled people.

My Column concluded by saying,

“no matter how far my aggressive, degenerative multiple sclerosis goes, my Church and Catholic health care providers (or Muslim health care providers for that matter) will stand for my inherent human dignity and my right to proper, caring and humane medical care. They will not let my humanity be diminished or stripped from me. Or to use the words of Pope John Paul, "A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his higher functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a "vegetable" or an "animal."

Shortly after publication, I received a letter in an envelope with no return address. I was led to believe the author was a priest. He was wary – for whatever reason -- of identifying himself. I will call him Father X.

He corrected me by saying said that “it is not a given thing that hydration etc. is given to a person inside an R.C. run institution.” Father X said he knows of a Canadian Catholic hospital where a nun was denied any hydration because she was dying; he informed me that the Sister’s “lips were cracked, etc.. It was appalling.”

Apparently another Roman Catholic facility encourages families not to hydrate dying family members. The case manager of that facility says that patients die quicker without water. No kidding. Euthanasia tends to do that. Withholding food and hydration is nothing short of torture and murder.

Assuming Father X is legitimate should I believe the letter?

I don’t know, but after the Vatican recently cleared any confusion that may have existed about withholding food and water from patients, we must demand adherence to Church teaching in Catholic health care institutions. The Vatican said unequivocally (as they have before) that maintaining that providing nutrition and hydration to dying people is morally obligatory. I am inclined to think that there may have been occasions where some Catholic health care facilities may have played loose with their understanding of Catholic teaching on withholding food and water from dying people to in order to hasten their deaths, and feigned moral confusion. After all, hospital beds are at a premium.
Pursuing the deaths of patients must stop.

Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the letter is cowardly. What am I supposed to do with it? I can’t approach the case manager of the facility the mystery priest identified. I do not even know if he is actually a priest: the letter was signed Fr. ── .

It may be a lie. That’s why I am not identifying the facility that was named. If the accusation is not true and I identify the facility, I would have brought discredit upon a reputable Catholic health institution.

I invite Fr. X to write to me at my personal Email address MarkPickup@shaw.ca so we can discuss the substance of his letter more.

Until then, I must file it under ‘hearsay’ and invite all Catholic health acute care hospitals, nursing homes and auxiliary health facilities to take the high road and behave according to the direction of Catholic moral teaching and not participate or advocate any practice designed to hasten a patient’s death.

See Catechism of the Catholic Church (Nos 2276-2279).
Vatican document about nutrition and hydration (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070801_risposte-usa_en.html)
Mark Pickup

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

To read Mark Pickup's blog posting for October 17yh 2007, "Longings from the Land of Nod." go to http://markpickup.blogspot.com/
Thank you.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Including children with disabilities in life

It was a beautiful sunny day for a man to be at a playground with his preschool grandchildren. That’s exactly where I was. I took my grandson and grand-daughter to a playground at a nearby elementary school; one child sat on my lap while the other stood on the back of my electric wheelchair as we whizzed our way to the playground.

The place was packed with children of various ages having fun at afternoon recess. I had to watch from the safety of the grass because my wheelchair would get bogged down in the soft sand.

“Look at me!” cried my grandson as he hung upside down from the monkey-bars. My wee grand-daughter stood at the top of a slide waiting for me to look at her before she slid down laughing. Zoom! It was so good to be alive and breathe in the fresh October air; it was good to feel the sun’s warmth on my back before a long Canadian winter. To be surrounded by such childhood joy warmed my heart too. Joie de vivre!

Sweet inclusion

Something else made my heart soar. I noticed four children with visible disabilities in the middle of playful mayhem. One child had a withered arm, a second had cerebral palsy, a third with Down’s while a fourth child was deaf. It was good not to see a “program” or “strategy” to include them. It just happened. The children simply took each others’ differences in stride and played together.

I sensed that what was unfolding before my eyes is the way God wants life to be—and children were leading the way! They didn’t need behavioral psychologists or "experts" to show them how to include children with disabilities. They just played.

I also sensed that adults and experts needed the children’s example more than the other way around. We all do.

Some people are very good at ensuring special needs children are part of their communities and included within normal childhood. The school I just mentioned is a shining example. Integrated schools are valuable vehicles to teach acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. The able-bodied children of that particular school seem to have incorporated this important life lesson into their daily lives.

Why are so many adults such slow learners? Why do I still hear resistance to integration of children with disabilities into public schools?

Dichotomy of the age

At the same time as some children with disabilities were frolicking with my grandchildren at the playground, other children were dying at the hands of experts. That’s the dichotomy of the age. We can be so enlightened yet so savage toward children with disabilities.

Nearly fifty percent of pregnancies involving babies with spina bifida end with the baby never seeing the light of day. They are aborted. Why are eighty-percent of pregnancies involving Down’s children aborted? Why is that? Why are pregnancies scrutinized -- with a search and destroy mindset -- for the slightest anatomical or genetic anomaly or imperfection? Disabled newborns are routinely denied nutrition and hydration in hospitals across North America. Why does modern medicine and bioethics believe disabled children are worthless—so worthless they do not deserve life itself?

Tell that to the four children with disabilities I mentioned playing happily in the schoolyard.

I have actually heard some people say it’s unfair to bring a profoundly disabled child into the world. Late feminist icon, Betty Frieden, referred to disabled children in utero as “monstrosities.” She was wrong, so utterly, terribly wrong.

People are not monstrous, ideas are. Deformity or disability can cripple a person’s body or cognitive function. But it is ideas, stone hearted and brutal ideas, that cripple human hearts. It is the logic of darkness and ignorance that stunts the development of character and denies any embrace of love and acceptance to the disabled, the handicapped or the genetically flawed. That may be the way of the world but it is not the way for followers of Jesus. Those who have encountered the living Christ know that all humanity is imperfect, yet still loved by God. God cares about each individual’s development within a larger common good.


Real inclusion is concerned about the development of each individual as an integral and indispensable part of a community. Real community understands that every person has something to contribute to the common good. Sometimes that contribution takes the form of simply being present and being welcome.

We must take care never to judge the worth of another human being! That is not our right. Humanity’s social nature calls each of us to take care never to close the door of inclusion on any human life, regardless of their physical or mental state.

Pray for God’s help to transcend beyond a self-focus to become other-focused. Seek to understand more than being understood. Embrace even when your natural inclination is to repel. Be equally concerned about the common good as individual fulfillment. Do this and you will begin to see, unfolding before your very eyes, the way God wants life to be. I’m convinced of it.
Mark Pickup

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Whoopi gets it wrong again

On the October 3rd edition of ABC’s talkshow “The View”, liberal icon and stalwart Whoopi Goldberg took the network’s token non-liberal to task for saying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s proposal to give $5,000 'Baby Bond' program might help reduce abortions in America.[1] How dare Hasselbeck, or anyone else for that matter, suggest a reduction in abortions in America!

Whoopi took the opportunity to challenge Hasselbeck, asking if her was ever in a position to consider having an abortion. Hasselbeck said “Never.” Whoopi took this as a queue to lecture the much younger Hasselbeck:

GOLDBERG: Elisabeth, Elisabeth, can I ask you one question–can I ask you a question? I just have to ask you this question since you opened this door.
GOLDBERG: Have you ever been in a position to have to make that decision?
HASSELBECK: Never, never.
GOLDBERG: Okay, then back off a little bit. Back off a little bit. Very few people want to have abortions.
HASSELBECK: I'm sure they don't.
GOLDBERG: See, I was listening.
HASSELBECK: I was just affirming what you said.
GOLDBERG: Most people do not want to have abortions. Most women do not have them with some sort of party going on. It is the hardest decision that a woman ever- wait- ever has to make. So, when you talk about it, a little bit of reverence to the women out there who have had to make this horrible decision. And one of the reasons that, that we have had to make this decision is because so many women were found bleeding, dead, with hangers in their bodies because they were doing it themselves. The idea of this was to make it safe and clean. That was the reason the law came into effect. That was why it was done.

Goldberg’s pro-abortion tirade was met with enthusiastic applause.

It should be noted that WG’s “very few people want to have abortions” means little when 50 million preborn children are dead in the 34 years since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land.

I agree with Whoopi that most women do not want to have an abortion. It is a horrible option. It is a terrible thing to kill one's offspring. Granted, there is the odd woman who takes abortion casually, and may have had five or six abortions and even made jokes about it, but they are rare and hard-hearted birds.

Graphic but inaccurate mental imagery

Goldberg’s coathanger reference harkens back to the late 1960s fictitious claims by abortion advocates -- based on zero statistics – that at least a million or so illegal abortions occurred annually in America. The actual average number of illegal abortions from 1940-1967 was 98,000. Groups like the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) were over-estimating the abortion numbers by over 1,000 percent!

They said that 5,00 to 10,000 deaths annually resulted from illegal abortions. Was this true? No. For the 8 years prior to and including the year of the infamous Roe V. Wade, the actual numbers were:
  • 235 in 1965,
  • 189 in 1966,
  • 160 in 1967,
  • 133 in 1968,
  • 132 in 1969,
  • 128 in 1970,
  • 99 in 1971,
  • 70 in 1972,
  • 36 in 1973,[3]

This was an average of 131 maternal deaths annually. This was a tragedy to be sure but a far cry from the 5,000 – 10,000 maternal death NARAL fed to public and the media eager to report anything promoting abortion.

We must understand that making abortion legal does not make it safe. In the years after Roe v. Wade, 1.5 million abortions occurred annually. Over 50 million American children have been aborted before they ever saw the light of day.

It would be interesting to know how many women have died after Roe v. Wade. Although it’s difficult to ascertain, the American Life League in Stafford Virginia has amassed a long and exhaustive list of women who have died because of complications from abortions. Absolutely tragic!

Canada's abortion king

After Canada's king of abortion, Henry Morgentaler, set up one of his lucrative abortion clinics in Edmonton, an local Obstetrician/Gynecologist shared with me that local hospital Emergency departments experienced a sharp increase in abortion-related complications. I asked why this had not come out into the open. He retreated back into his shell. Apparently the Gynecological community is a timid lot who would rather have quietly continued repairing damaged women than face the wrath of local pro-abortion press like the Edmonton Journal.

In a strange and perverted way, many local doctors were glad to see Henry come to town and do the dirty business of an abortionist (oops, "abortion provider") and let real doctors be healers rather than baby killers.

Abortionists with lowest criminals

Abortionists are society’s scum. They prey on desperate women and kill their children for money. At a different time they would considered amongst amongst the lowest of criminals. The women are left to deal with the guilt of having sacrificed their children in a desperate and terrible moment.

No, Whoopi, we should neither “revere” women who abort their children, or the abortionist who does the despicable deed. Civilized societies must view abortion with disdain not reverence. It kills a child in utero and scars the mother – sometimes physically, often emotionally, always spiritually.

Civilized societies must have pity and compassion for women victimized by abortion, but never revere what they have done in an irrational and desperate moment. Love the victimized mother, mourn the death of her child that the abortionist has destroyed. Work to make abortion a crime that it once was so abortionist (not their victims) can be jailed.

Abortion is an evil in society, and an attack on individual human dignity, the common good and our collective humanity.

Mark Pickup
[1]Peter J. Smith, "First Barry Manilow, Now Whoopi Goldberg Hassle The View's Hasselbeck over Conservative/Pro-Life Views: Goldberg, who is said to have had at least 6 abortions, says, “Americans ought to ‘revere’ women who have had abortions,” October 4th 2007, LifeSite News.com, (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07100410.html ) For story on Clinton Baby Bond see “Hillary Clinton proposes $5,000 ‘Baby Bond’”, Associated Press September 28th 2007, (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298504,00.html)
[2] Transcript courtesy of LifeSite News (http://www.lifenews.com/nat3364.html ). See video of exchange at(See video of this exchange at (http://ianschwartz.com/2007/10/03/video-whoopi-teaches-elizabeth-about-the-necessity-of-abortion/)

[3] Horan & Mall, New Perspectives on Human Abortion 80 (1981) (abortion-related maternal deaths).