“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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Internal Voice: A Forever Moment

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog "An Internal Voice: A Forever Moment" at http://markpickup.org

Monday, December 21, 2009

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog "Taking care of our bodies" at http://markpickup.org


Monday, November 30, 2009

Jesus is the reason for Christmas Season

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog "Jesus is the reason for the Christmas Season" at http://markpickup.org


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A case study

I was recently cleaning out old files from my filing cabinet and came across the following. I don't remember where it came from or the source. MP

Dr. Paul Ruskin of Baltimore (MD) is a geriatric psychiatrist. He presented the following case to a group of nursing students:

"The patient I will discuss is a white female. She neither speaks or comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented as to person, place and time. She shows disregard for her physical appearance and has to be assisted in her own care. She must be fed and bathed by others. She is incontinent and has to be changed and bathed. Her sleep pattern is erratic. She awakens in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she seems friendly and happy. However, several times a day she becomes agitated without any apparent cause and screams loudly until someone comes to comfort her."

Dr. Ruskin asked the nursing students their feelings about caring for such a patient. He heard words like "hopeless," "depressed," and "frustrated." He told the nurses he cared for this patient and thought they would enjoy it too. Then Dr. Ruskin passed around a photograph of his six month-old daughter. After the laughter subsided he asked why it is so much more difficult to care for a 90 year old female with the same symptoms than for a 6 month old female.

The central issue is how we perceive the value of all human life. It’s easy to care for a cute little baby but not a frail aged person. One life has the promise of a future while the other does not but both are just as needy of love and care. A truly enlightened society holds both in high esteem and protects both lives equally.

There are many reasons modern bioethics can find to abandon or kill the 90 year old woman  ... but only one to cherish her: She too is a worthy member of the human family.  Our humanity calls us to a higher standard of love. Pro-Life people understand this. We must never tire of proclaiming this message ― especially to a society that seems to have forgotten it. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog "A GRANDPARENT'S ROLE" AT HTTP://MARKPICKUP.ORG

Monday, November 9, 2009


To read Mark Pickup's latest post SEARCHING FOR THE MEANING OF SUFFERING: A Christian Perspective, go to http://markpickup.org

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

25th Anniversary for a Pregnancy Care Centre!

This column is boastful on my part. I confess my infernal Pride and will confess this sin after I post my blog.

My wife and I recently attended the 25th anniversary of Edmonton’s Pregnancy Care Centre. It was a moving experience for me because I co-founded this Christian pro-Life ministry to women in crisis pregnancies.* All evening I was close to tears to see what they have accomplished throughout two and a half decades. A few years after the ministry was established, back in the 1980s, I was forced to leave because my health was deteriorating due to multiple sclerosis.

Today, the Pregnancy Care Centre serves more than 1,800 women a year. Since its beginning, the Centre has helped an estimated 20,000 women!

At one point during the anniversary banquet a woman and her 15 year old daughter introduced themselves to my wife and me. The mother was helped by the Pregnancy Care Centre in 1993 when she was in a crisis pregnancy. She chose to give birth to her baby rather than abort her. Apparently at the banquet the mother pointed me out to her daughter as the person who co-founded the ministry. Her daughter wanted to thank me.

After their introductions and explanations were completed, I nearly wept. If it hadn’t been for the Pregnancy Care Centre the young girl standing in front of me might have been aborted. This occurred years after I was forced by poor health to step down from the ministry's Board.

There are very rare occasions in a person’s life when they realize that they made a life or death difference in the lives of others. It was one of those occasions for me and I am indebted to that mother and her daughter for letting me know that.

The day after the banquet, my wife decided it was time to clean our home’s basement of its clutter. She brought box after box of my papers upstairs for me to go through and throw away. All day long and into the night I sat in front of the backyard fire-pit burning papers, thinking about the millions of Canadian children whose mothers did not choose life for their babies. At one point in the paper purging process I came across my files pertaining to the establishment of the organization that eventually became the Pregnancy Care Centre. I had not seen them in years and found some speaking notes for an address I delivered to an evangelical church in 1984. I was asking them to get involved with the fledging ministry. This is part of what I said:

“We stand at edge of a precipice of a great and terrible day. Abortion is a package deal: Euthanasia and infanticide are the other parts of the deadly package. It is a slow walk from the abortion chamber to the nursery and the nursing home. The same arguments can be used for killing the severely disabled adult as the unwanted child in the womb: The life in question would be a burden on their family; the life in question is not even wanted by anyone; the quality of life for the individual in question will not be good.”

I continued: “Brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot just sit back while this silent holocaust of abortion continues, and worsens, as it surely will. We must understand and believe in the sanctity of all human life ─ born or preborn, sick or well. We are all made in the image of God.”

Thinking I was on a roll, I concluded with these words: “Do you not see that the hour is dark? Do you not sense that Almighty God is grieved at the insult of abortion? I tell you this: Abortion is a denial of the God’s sovereignty. It is tantamount to telling the Giver of life that He doesn’t know what He’s doing. Abortion throws the gift of life back in God’s face unwanted, unopened, stamped Return to Sender.”

Christians did support the ministry not only with their financial gifts but
personal volunteerism. Many churches supported the Pregnancy Care Centre within their yearly budgets, and continue to do so.

The Centre expanded into public education, school programs about abstinence and prenatal development, post-abortion counselling, pregnancy care and support, mentoring, life-skills training and educational supports that enable young mothers to complete their education. At the Pregnancy Care Centre the operative word is love: love for people that is rooted in love for God. It’s shoe-leather Christianity at its best. Check out their website at http://www.pregnancycarecentre.ca/ .

The slow trains of infanticide and euthanasia have arrived. Disabled newborns are routinely killed in hospitals across North America. Neonatologists refer to the child they are about to kill as a ‘neonate’ in an apparent attempt to distance the baby from its humanity. Euthanasia is legal in Oregon and the state of Washington and other jurisdiction in Europe. Canada’s Parliament has been asked to consider a euthanasia bill under the guise of “death with dignity.” Much of the public has erroneously bought into accepting that euthanasia and assisted suicide are merciful.

Christians once again face a stark reality: We have entered a great and terrible day where vulnerable human life is now at risk outside the womb. We must again respond with love and compassion yet refusing to acquiesce to those who want help taking their own lives or the lives of sick or dying loved-ones. Let us take a cue from the Pregnancy Care Centre and reach out in life affirming Christian ministry to vulnerable populations at the other end of the life spectrum.

Mark Pickup

*The parent organization for Edmonton's Pregnacy Care Centre is the charitable Outreach For Life. It was based upon the U.S. based Christian Action Council, now called CareNet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

St. Augustine

"Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy. Act in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart, Holy Spirit, tat I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy." -- St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years

To see blog entry about the book series The Christians: Their first two thousand years. Go to http://markpickup.org


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New York Times and abortion photography

Well, well, well, -- the New York Times actually posted on its blog photographs of bodies of aborted children. A charter member of the liberal establishment peeked out from behind the "blob of tissue" myth so tenaciously held by abortion ideologues. See http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/behind-19/?scp=2&sq=damien%20cave&st=cse

For a brief moment the NYT apparently gave a passing nod to the holocaust of abortion as the slaughter of the youngest members of the human family. They could not, however, bring themselves refer to the unborn child as any more than a "fetus". Abortion must stop or North America will face judgement of the Almighty.

Mark Pickup

Monday, October 5, 2009

LaRee & Mark Pickup to give keynote address to US National Right to Life Prayer Breakfast

LaRee and Mark Pickup will give the keynote address to the 2010 US National Right to Life Prayer Breakfast in Pittsburgh, PA. They will share their life experiences that have closely followed the major Life issues of our time.


As teenagers, LaRee became pregnant with Mark’s baby. They chose abortion and grieved that terrible decision for decades. Their case was a classic abortion scenario repeated millions of times each year across North America. They present the perspectives of both a woman and a man involved in an abortion. This presentation confirms that post-abortion trauma and grief does exist and can last for decades.

But their experience with critical Life issues of our time does not just involve abortion and post-abortion grief.


In 1984, Mark was diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis. He went from being a healthy and athletic thirty year old man to being triplegic and wheelchair dependent. (Only his left
arm is unaffected by disease.) Throughout their grief journey, they confronted fundamental issues revolving around the profound sorrow and grief that often comes with acquired catastrophic disability ― and can draw people to question the value and purpose of life.

LaRee and Mark will explore reasons why people choose assisted suicide and family dynamics that contribute to such a terrible decision or deciding to euthanize a terminally/chronically ill loved one.

They will illustrate parallels between a mindset that sanctions abortion at the beginning of life and the acceptance of euthanasia consciousness at the other end of life.

LaRee and Mark will conclude with a challenge and plan to counter the prevailing culture of death.

To find out more about the 2010 National Right to Life Conference in Pittsburgh June 24-26, and the Prayer Breakfast contact the National Right to Life Office in Washington, DC., at:
Tel:(202) 626-8800, or by email at NRLC@nrlc.org Also see: http://stoptheabortionagenda.com/convention/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/nrlc2010-1pg-091009.pdf


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Truth or Comfort

"Seekers of truth may eventually find comfort but seekers of comfort will not find truth." -- taken from Mark Pickup's personal blog for 01 October 2009 entitled Truth or Comfort.

Read the rest at http://markpickup.org


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Prolific writer and bio-ethical thinker Wesley J. Smith commented on Mark Pickup's tribute to Bob Schindler at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2009/09/12/mark-pickups-moving-tribute-to-terri-schiavos-dad-bob-schindler/

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog called "Bob Schindler: a Pro-Life hero", at http://markpickup.org

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Canada and euthanasia/assisted suicide

The euthanasia/assisted suicide debate is heating up again in anticipation of the autumn session of Canada’s Parliament. Quebec MP Francine Lalonde’s latest Private Member’s Bill (C-384) to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide awaits debate.

The Executive Director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg, has analysed this dangerous Bill. C-384 does not limit assisted suicide to the terminally ill. Sick individuals can refuse appropriate treatments and still have an assisted suicide. The bill requires a medical practitioner to inform the person of all alternatives to euthanasia/assisted suicide but no requirement to try effective treatments. C-384 would allow the killing of people suffering from depression or other mental conditions. People receiving an assisted suicide only need to appear lucid not actually be lucid.

This is not the first time a euthanasia/assisted suicide bill has been presented to Parliament. All the previous bills have been unsuccessful. But things seem different now; the public seems more open to euthanasia. National Post newspaper columnist Barbara Kay recently wrote: “Have you noticed that the subject of euthanasia/assisted suicide is picking up momentum – that it is, so to speak, taking on a life of its own?” She went on to suggest that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide can easily create an environment hostile to incurably ill people who choose to live. In a society that offers a cheap and easy solution to suffering, people who choose to live rather than be euthanized may become relegated to the sidelines. They would be viewed as causing unnecessary burdens the state or caregivers. Ms. Kay has a good point.

If a family chooses to seek life with dignity for an incurably ill loved one instead of death with dignity, ... well, that’s their choice. Why should the state pay for it?

Such callousness is not so far-fetched. People have actually asked my wife why she would choose to stay with a man who has an incurable, degenerative disease and is unable to work. “Leave him,” they advised. “You can find someone else,” they said. When my wife talked about old fashioned, illogical and sentimental ideas like marital love and commitment to solemn vows, the baffled questioners turned cold as though to say “You’re crazy!”


The right to assisted suicide implies a right to be alienated from life. The person seeking assisted suicide asks for help from the society from which he wishes to be alienated. His final adieu is the middle finger salute to the Common Good. His personal autonomy trumps the greater interests of the community. His final action coarsens and hardens others.

There will always be suicidal people, but a civilized society does not acquiesce to the darkness of the abyss by participating in anyone’s suicide. By definition civilized people have rejected barbarism of killing their weak and sick. They alleviate suffering rather than eliminate the sufferer.

The word compassion has its origin in the Latin word ‘compati’ meaning to “suffer with.” That is what compassionate people do. They come along-side those who are suffering or dying and journey with them. True compassion requires us to invest ourselves in suffering people. As Christians, we must be willing to enter their world and suffer with them, just like Jesus would do. Christ is our example. We are called to show Christ-like love to those who are in pain; and they will learn that we refuse to abandon them ─ even if they abandon themselves. We willingly identify with their pain and offer to cover them with a blanket of love ― even if the sufferer rejects it.


Euthanasia is cheap compassion. It requires so little of us. Euthanasia is a form of murder masquerading as mercy. It reduces people to their lowest and basest natures. Euthanasia is a grave crime against proper morality, against our collective humanity, and is contrary natural law that has existed from the beginning.

Catholic teaching is unequivocal in its condemnation of euthanasia. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2276-2279). It says euthanasia is “morally unacceptable”; it constitutes a murder that is “gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due the living God,”.

Knowing when to discontinue medical procedure that is burdensome to a dying patient and disproportionate to the expected outcome can be acceptable, as long as one is not trying to cause death. When death is thought to be imminent, ordinary care must not be stopped or interrupted. The Catechism says, “The use of painkillers to alleviate suffering of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity IF DEATH IS NOT WILLED AS EITHER AN END OR A MEANS, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable.” (My emphasis added.)

It’s a matter of motive and intent.

Euthanasia is not a legitimate part of palliative care. It has no place in a civilized society.

Mark Pickup

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Crime against humanity in Ashraf, Iraq

I was sent the following email from international human rights activist and retired Canadian MP, David Kilgour. David is a trusted pro-Life ally who has a long history working for the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. He is my friend.

The text of David Kilgour's message asks us to see a youtube video chronicling the murder of Amir Kheiri in Iraq. David writes:

"What happened at Ashraf in Iraq to the clearly unarmed Amir Kheiri on July 28th--as shown on the youtube below-- is so outrageous that the more persons around the world who can see it the more likely are governments to stop the violence at Ashraf quickly. If you agree, let's all try to get it to as many opinion leaders and others as possible."


Please spread this youtube video to everyone you know. Crimes against humanity must be brought into the glaring light of public view, whether they be in Iraq, China, or the abortion clinics of North America.

Mark Pickup

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog, God's presence can become "very real and quite continual" at http://markpickup.org

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pro-active population control and Roe v. Wade

WorldNetDaily, 8 July 2009, "Ginsburg: I thought Roe was to rid undesirables: Justice discusses 'growth in populations we don't want to many of."

"Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion." -- Justice Ruth Ginsburg in interview with New York Times Magazine apparently to be published this weekend. (see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/magazine/12ginsburg-t.html)

Justice Ginsburg revealed that she thought abortion in America would have the effect of weeding out less desirable people from society. It made me think of the Nazi vision of creating a superior race which would be achieved, in part, by exterminating undesirable or inferior populations (minderwertigen) from the volk.

Mark Pickup

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Intimidation and violence of the liberal left

Tiller, Terror and TV Tilt, American Life League

In the weeks after the George Tiller murder, so much of the mainstream media tried to blanket all the pro-Life community as terrorists. In truth the murderer of George Tiller was the work of a deranged loner unconnected with any legitimate pro-Life organization. Intimidation and violence toward pro-Life advocates by the liberal left is common.

Please view the American Life League's production Tiller, Terror and TV Tilt at the Youtube link above. Very enlightening.

Mark Pickup

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pain and the path to spiritual healing

"Only in surrender do we become pliable in the hands of God. He is the potter, we are the clay. Only in surrender to the will of God can we discover the reason for which we were created." taken from Mark Pickup's blog entry for 3 July 2009 under the title Pain and the path to spiritual healing.

Read the rest at http://markpickup.org

Saturday, June 13, 2009

All life is sacred

On May 31st, America’s most notorious late-term abortionist was murdered. Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, performed second and third trimester abortions and even performed the horrible partial birth abortion procedure. Partial birth abortion is done by inducing labour prematurely in the mother and the baby is partially delivered breech but stopped with its head still in the birth canal. The abortionist kills the child in a way that is too grisly to mention to civilized readers. The abortionist then completes the delivery of the dead baby.

The man charged with George Tiller’s murder is Scott Roeder (51). At the time of writing this column very little is known about him, other than he was associated with an obscure anti-government militia group known as the Freeman movement. He also has a history of mental illness.

Pro-Life advocates across North America (including me) were quick to condemn the murder of George Tiller, although mainstream media have been trying hard to connect the pro-Life movement to the crime. They are not right.

I have been active with the pro-Life movement in Canada and the United States for more than twenty-five years. I’ve spoken to innumerable conferences and prolife gatherings and met countless pro-Life advocates. Not one advocated violence.

By definition, those who kill or advocate violence are not pro-Life. The shedding of blood, or promoting it, draws the clearest line of delineation and definition about who is pro-Life and who is not.


Being truly pro-Life involves holding the sanctity and dignity of all human life as something dear and worth cherishing ― even the life of a mass murderer like late-term abortionist George Tiller. We deplore what he did and work in non-violent ways to stop people like him. We reach out with love and support to mothers considering abortion. Our humanity demands it.

As a Christian, I mourn the death of George Tiller just as I mourn the thousands of children he killed. He (and they) were part of the human community. Our common bond is the image of God stamped indelibly upon us all. From conception on we are part of Mankind. The Seventeenth Century poet John Donne said, “Any Man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind."

Being pro-Life is more than decrying the shedding of innocent (or guilty) blood. It also entails working to create a cultural climate that is welcoming to the unwanted, the unloved, the deranged and the derelect.

.Being pro-Life means extending Christ-like love to the woman in crisis pregnancy and her baby. Being pro-Life means tenderly guiding post-abortive women toward Christ’s forgiveness and healing. Pro-Life advocates have the high and sacred honour of being Christ’s emissaries to hurting people. Whether they accept our overtures on Christ’s behalf is not within our power. Our task is point the way toward life and love, not death and despair. We align ourselves with Christ’s way. Having done this, we remember that not everyone accepted Christ’s way when he himself offered it.

The love and mercy that occupied Jesus’ heart brought healing to the sick, returned sanity to the deranged and forgiveness to the adulteress woman, but never did it include killing as an answer to life’s problems.

Peter drew a sword and cut off a man’s ear in defence of the personification of all that is sacred and good. Jesus rebuked his violence and healed the man’s ear. Men need ears to hear the Good News and renounce their inner violence. Interior violence precedes all outer violence to which Jesus relies, “Stop, no more of this.”

The assault on the sanctity and dignity of human life is the great struggle of the 21st Century. It is the spiritual battle for the hearts, minds and souls of humanity; it is manifested in the physical world by violence against the weakest and most vulnerable, the defeated, and the unloved in our midst. It is evil because it is the antithesis of Christ’s love.

Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide and euthanasia are all expressions of this evil. How you and I respond to it will help define our humanity and may even help to save the humanity of other people. The stark choice of the 21st Century is this: barbarity or beauty. Our individual choices about life will contribute to one or the other.

It is a daunting prospect, I know. But we have not been left without resources. We can take solace knowing that in Jesus Christ is life and the light of Mankind (John 1.4-5). We have the Word of God to assure us, the teachings of the Church and the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus told us he would not leave us orphans. He told us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Mark Pickup

(This blog also appears in Canada's Western Catholic Reporter for the week of 15 June
2007, under the title "Pro-Life supporters never adevocate murder of anyone."
See http://www.wcr.ab.ca/columns/markpickup/2009/markpickup061509.shtml )

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One night on the Michael Coren Show

The Michael Coren Show on Canada's CTS television network airs three times a week across the nation. It's a panel talk show covering various subjects ranging from current affairs to religion. I like the Michael Coren show: It's a guarantee of lively debate with a slightly intellectual but not snooty quality.

The casual viewer can not tell whether Coreh is right or left on the political spectrum. Michael Coren has both left and right, liberal and conservative representation on his panels. He's demanding but fair with his guests and demands fair and thoughtful responses and is quick to challenge pat answers, slogans or Newspeak. For example, last evening his conservative guest was columnist and author Clare Hoy. The liberal guest was Marianne Meed Ward. The token representation from western Canada was broadcaster Rob Brackenridge.

One story they covered was out of Swaziland. Member of Parliament, Timothy Myeni, for a solution to the AIDS epidemic in his country: compulsory HIV testing of the population. HIV-positive people with receive a tattoo on their buttocks.

Marianne Meed Ward objected to the idea. At one point she used the phrase "sex trade
workers." Michael Coren interrupted her liberal diatribe with something to this effect:

MC: "You mean whores?"
MMW: "Yes."
MC: "Why do to try to dignify prostitution? Dignify the person but but the activity."

Well done Michael.

My view of the Swaziland proposal is one of support for the MP's idea. Desperate measures are sometimes required for desperate times. HIV has made these are desperate times for Swaziland (and other African countries). It's a reasonable requirement to save a population threatened by the AIDS epidemic. If the choice is privacy versus public health of life threatening disease, I side with public health. My only concern was placing a tattoo on the buttocks of an HIV-positive individual may not give a prospective sexual partner enough warning. A tattoo should be placed discreetly in view such as the palm of the hand or in the scalp.

Mr. Coren then changed the topic to the recent assisted suicide in the state of Washington of a woman suffering from pancreatic cancer. Predictably, Marianne Meed tried to defend assisted suicide with the outdated argument of dying people living in a drug induced stupor from pain medications. Obviously she had not done adequate research or she did the research and did not like what she found. It doesn't play well for euthanasia supporters.

After the show ended, I sent Email to Michael Coren saying that
Marianne Meed Ward made a weak case for assisted suicide in musing that pain management causes confusion. Not necessary.

If pain medications are properly administered by medical professionals with current and up-to-date understanding of pain management medications and techniques -- complete pain relief can be achieved without the loss of lucidity or confusion to the patient.

Ward (and Rob Brackenridge) tried to reverse the argument for assisted suicide by asserting the state does not have a right to force people to live. (?) Talk about confusion! Ward and Brackenridge did not even have medication to blame!

The point is this: The state must never support suicide or assisting suicide. Legalized assisted suicide, such as in the states of Oregon and Washington, are striking deviations from Anglo-American historical legal traditions and law. I spoke about this in my previous blog. For more than 7 hundred years common law has discouraged or punished assisting suicide.

Because Canada no longer punishes people who attempt suicide is not an an endorsement of it. It simply acknowledges that prosecution an inappropriate response to a suicidal person. They need psychologically help not prison. Ward alluded to the argument of a disabled person who can not kill themselves. So what! If Canada does not support suicide, why would they support assisted suicide.

I said to Michael Coren in my email: "I have suffered from aggressive multiple sclerosis for more than 25 years. My condition has degenerated significantly since you interviewed me in 1995. I am now triplegic and in a full electric wheelchair. My brain and CNS are riddled with lesions; only my left arm remains unaffected by MS."

"I do not need a community or society that assists me in my suicide. I need a society that holds up my value even when I cease to believe in it. And I have an obligation to the Common Good not to seek assistance or support of my suicide. For me to ask that society or other people to assist me in my suicide would be to support the notion that there is such a thing as a life unworthy to be lived. The ramifications of accepting that notion would have a detrimental effect on others with disabilities, the incurably ill, those who have sunk beneath the waves of depression or circumstances, ... and posterity."

I told Mr. Coren that it is better to live in my state of degenerative disease and disability that to compromise my own humanity (or my responsibility to humanity) for the sake of my personal relief.

Contrary to the popular slogan it's NOT all about me. Autonomy is a myth.

Mark Pickup

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alberta's 2009 March for Life

Last Thursday (May 7th) the second annual March for Life was held in Alberta's Capital city of Edmonton. It was supported by all Alberta's Catholic bishops, and attended by clergy from Eastern Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic denominations. Sadly representation from evangelical denominations were conspicuous in their absence. Still, hundreds of people from throughout the province showed up at the steps of the provincial legislature to hear speakers of which I was one. My speaking notes are at the end of this post for information of readers.

The crowd marched through the streets of downtown Edmonton. It stretched three and a half blocks long, four and five marchers deep, and required police escort as traffic and the hustle of commerce was disrupted while we snaked through the streets with placards and banners declaring the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Bystanders watched respectfully from the sidelines at the striking witness for Life before their eyes.

It was interesting but expected to note that Edmonton's major daily newspaper, The Edmonton Journal,did not report the event at all. According to their censorship of ideas the event did not occur. It was reminiscent of another pro-Life march that occurred in the city of Toronto in 1984. Twenty-five thousand people (police estimate of crowd size) silently march past the Morgentaler abortuary. Participants said it was eery to hear feet walking in silent protest of the killing of innocents occurring inside that terrible place. The silence was complete: The Globe and Mail, the CBC and other media did not report it. It was as though the massive protest of citizenry didn't happen. Shhh!

(Yet if a dozen abortion advocates, homosexuals or transvestites hold a demonstration and its news for days.)

When the marchers arrived back at the steps of the provincial legislature, I delivered the following short address:

We have entered a moral storm that’s breaking the ancient western moral code that governed the moral ethos of generations. Although people may have occasionally failed to behave the way they instinctively knew to be right, there was a consensus that the most vulnerable and weak of society must be protected.

For centuries, abortion was considered a serious crime. The Hippocratic Oath for doctors dating back thousands of years forbade abortion (and euthanasia). The Catholic Church has maintained the moral evil of abortion since the 1st Century. Ancient and persistent Common Law traditions dating back into the Middle Ages treated abortion as a “grave crime.” In 1802, England codified in to law what had been considered a criminal offence by custom, and made abortion a criminal act. What I am trying to illustrate to you is that considering abortion on demand as a right (as Canada and the US do) is a recent development and an aberration from the course of human history.

As I speak these words to you there are preborn children being slaughtered not more than 10 blocks away from us. These children are being killed because they are unwanted or inconvenient to their parents. All across Canada abortion can be obtained for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever.

Now Canada is about to consider decriminalizing assisted suicide. It has already been embraced by Oregon, Washington state, Holland and elsewhere. This, too, is a deviation from centuries of Common law that discouraged, prohibited or punished assisting in the suicide of a person. Civilized and compassion societies did not kill their weakest or those who had sunk beneath the waves of circumstance.

Canada has abandoned its Christian roots. It has abandoned the ideal that there is something sacred to human life. The nation of my birth has coarsened to the point that I can scarcely recognize it. I feel like an alien in my own country. Public opinion polls consistently reveal that 70 % of Canadians agree with euthanizing (or helping the suicides) of the terminally or chronically ill people and the severely handicapped (people like me). That means that 7 out of 10 of my fellow Canadian citizens I pass on the street agree with helping me to kill myself if I despair of my situation. Apparently they believe it’s my freedom to choose.

But choices made from the perspective of abandonment, depression or desperation are not free at all. Do not talk to me about the freedom to choose unless all my choices are equally weighted and people have access to good supportive services and feel included within a tender embrace of community. There is no freedom of choice for the incurably ill person who feels the cold winds of abandonment or sees the world from beneath the dark veil of depression. There is no freedom to choose for a desperate woman is crisis pregnancy who is being pressured to have an abortion.

If Canadians really are “pro-choice”, why is only one choice so heavily funded? I propose a balanced approach. Provide equal funding for women who choose life for their babies. Provide funding to homes for unwed mothers where they can finish their education and receive prenatal care and life skills training. Provide funding for community and faith based partnerships with government for shepherding homes where women in crisis pregnancies can be mentored and establish or re-establish community connections. Give women positive choices not just negative choices.

Ensure modern techniques of palliation, pain management are strengthen in medical schools. Create government and community based hospice options where the dying and incurably sick are loved and included within their communities.

Until the choices for desperate people have equal attention, the idea of the freedom to choose is a hollow lie.

You are a critical minority who still believe in the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Stand firm in the present Dark Age. Make your witness matter for a culture of life in a prevail culture of death. Do not tire or flag. Do not succumb to intimidation. You can turn the tide! I believe this with all my heart. I have to, the alternative is unthinkable.

Mark Pickup

Thursday, April 30, 2009

To read Mark's latest blog about children and afternoon naps, go to http://markpickup.org

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I have a dream too

I have spoken across North America for the sanctity, dignity and equality of every human life and against abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. There are so many people who have faithfully served the cause of Life issues for decades. Their names and faces are familiar to me. It’s hard not to notice the greying of the pro-Life movement.


Year after year, these people work to defend vulnerable human life at every state and stage, from conception to natural death. Defending the right to life is a holy cause: A holy cause they think they are losing. Yes, Pro-Life stalwarts are greying and I wonder who will stand up for life when they retire or are gone?


If the pro-Life stalwarts like Linda Gibbons were prepared to endure harassment, mockery and even years in jail because she witnessed for the right to life of every unborn child, who will dare to take her place? The culture coarsens by the day, yet I take heart to meet young people who want to live for a purpose.
Abortion on demand is now the way of the land after centuries when it was considered barbaric and criminal. Previous generations understood that killing defenceless and innocent human beings was a wrong, not a right. Abortion was and still is anathema to God and all decent people.

New pro-Life activists will be unusually strong in character and determined in purpose. The ground they inherit is polluted with the blood of millions of children who never saw the light of day because they were inconvenient or unwanted. Euthanasia and assisted suicide is creeping into the public consciousness of North America.

Holy causes are rarely popular or easy. Read the book of Jeremiah. Consider the life and death of John the Baptist, Stephen and countless Christian martyrs throughout the ages. Think of the newer struggle for the idea of inalienable human rights and self-evident truth that all men are created equal by their Creator, ... then consider the fate of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Junior who worked so tirelessly for human equality regardless of skin colour.


I have a dream too. I dream that one day every human life will be valued and protected for no other reason than it exists. The Right to Life is the great and holy cause of the twenty-first century.

We are faced with daunting struggle for the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Universal human rights begin when human life begins. This is a self-evident truth. Human life produced sexually begins at conception. This is a biological fact. Therefore, universal human rights must begin at conception -- that’s what makes them universal ― they apply to everyone. Anything else is bigotry and sophistry.

This is the uncompromising message a new generation of pro-Life activists must take to their communities, their nation and to the world. Take heart, things are not as dire as they may appear.

Those courageous young people who take up the struggle for every life’s right to exist, will know that truth is on their side.

Abraham Lincoln said, “We will win more converts each day. We will
grow strong by the violence and the injustice of our adversaries and unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the majority.” The great man was right and his words apply to the pro-Life cause. The general public is slowly turning around and becoming more pro-Life.

A recent poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus revealed that 84 percent of Americans agree that abortion should be significantly restricted. The poll surveyed 1,733 people across the nation (less than half of respondents were Roman Catholic). In Canada, a 2007 Life Canada/Environics poll documented that 60 percent of Canadians think abortion should be significantly restricted. This is a dramatic turn from the 1970s.

A new generation of pro-Life activist can rely upon the continued support and partnership of the Catholic Church. The Church has always been against abortion since the first Century. This fact has never changed and is unchangeable (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2271-2275.)


I happen to believe that a next generation of pro-Life activists will eventually enjoy success that eluded the older generation which includes people like me. Little by little, bit by bit, the victory to make abortion unthinkable has been slow, but I believe it is within sight.

Those who take up the pro-Life mantle for the 21st Century must temper their activism with love for women in crisis pregnancy.

My wife, LaRee, knows that activism must be motivated by love, to be effective. She is the provincial director of the Alberta Pro-Life Association (Canada). LaRee believes in positive pro-Life action that welcomes women in crisis pregnancies and their unborn babies into our communities.

LaRee has often said to me that abortion is evidence that society has failed women. She believes that if women receive life-affirming answers to crisis pregnancies, and if their unborn children are truly accepted as persons, most women will turn away from abortion. Each day LaRee works toward that goal. She may not see the day when abortion is morally and culturally unthinkable, but those who follow her may.

Mark Pickup

This article also appeared in the 27 April 2009 edition of Canada's Western Catholic Reporter under the title "New Pro-Life activists will carry the sword of truth". (See http://www.wcr.ab.ca/columns/markpickup/2009/markpickup042709.shtml)