Swimsuit season is upon us! Everyone is ready to shed the pale, lumpy body of winter for a tan, toned, bikini-ready one. You can hardly scroll through the internet or peruse a magazine rack without finding a million ways to attain this perfect bikini body. While a bikini is just an example of a perhaps skimpier outfit, attention to dress modestly is important. Immodest clothing can change how we see its wearer and in turn, how the wearer sees herself. Immodest clothes may encourage the wearer, and those around her, to view her as less than herself, rather than affirming her beauty and dignity as a person. Knowing the importance of appearance and its effects, we ought to strive to wear clothes that enhance our dignity as persons.
In Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla discusses that man cannot be used, and must be loved. With a particular dignity as human beings, man deserves to be valued as a person. In valuing each other, we must act with charity towards one another, always viewing others with love, rather than use. We must steer away from anything that will encourage use, not love, of another human being. Bikinis, or a wardrobe of similarly skimpy items, come perilously close to encouraging the use of a person.
According to a study at Princeton University, wearing little clothing seems to dehumanize a person. In the study, twenty-one men were shown different pictures of fully clothed men and women and scantily clad men and women. The men associated the scantily clad women with first person action verbs, such as, "I push, I grasp, I handle." When looking at scantily clad women, the man's part of the brain that reacts to seeing a tool lit up, instead of social cognition area, which tries to discern another's thoughts or intentions and typically lights up upon seeing another person. Associating under-clothed women with first person verbs and tools suggests that immodest dress encourages others to objectify or use its wearer.
The study also shows that while looks aren't everything, they are something. What we wear is often the first opportunity we have to communicate something about ourselves. Not only does wearing immodest clothing encourage the viewer to see us as an object, but a skimpy outfit also conveys how we perceive ourselves and want ourselves to be seen. While bodies are not bad, we must be careful to dress in a manner that does not allow our body to distract others from our true value as a person. Through modest dress, and a realization that dressing modestly accords with our dignity, we help others to also see us as human persons with whom to interact, not an object of use.
Clothes that encourage seeing a person as a tool rather than another human dismantle efforts to create a culture of life. A culture of life respects the dignity of every person. Especially in the pro-life movement, we must remember the little things we can do to help change the culture. Josemaria Escriva once said, "Culture, culture! Good! Don't let anyone get ahead of us in striving for it and possessing it. But remember that culture is a means, not an end." Just as Josemaria Escriva says, we cannot neglect our duty to own the culture. We must own the culture in order that all individuals flourish. Dressing modestly is a small action that can have profound effects in building a culture of life. By helping to reveal the true value every person, modesty cultivates an atmosphere for all lives to be fulfilled and for the dignity of all to be realized.
Yesterday: the hearings at the State House on the proposed new Buffer Zone, the Judiciary committee reported it out favorably, and the Senate passed it!
For the first four hours we heard:
Places that do abortions are "health centers."
"Reproductive rights" are a primary constitutional right.
All pro-lifers are violent and threatening.
The lovely counselors who spoke are aberrations.
Planned Parenthood employs a huge number of people in the state who all drone on about their abuse by pro-lifers. No legislator picked up on the pro-lifers' demands for pictures or videos of the alleged incidents.
When the pro-lifers had a chance to speak:
Eleanor McCullen - and all the counselors who were there - did an outstanding job, explaining that it would be counter-productive for her to behave badly. Other impressive counselors were on Bill Cotter's panel. Rod Murphy, Nancy Clark, and Lee Crowley all from Worcester, Jean Healey, and Eric Anthony all spoke eloquently about counseling. Faith Tendo also came from Worcester to tell about her experience being helped by Problem Pregnancy. Maureen Vacca and Rita Russo testified.
Phil Moran, the local lawyer for the McCullen win, compared the new zone to the penalty box where the counselors would always be. State Representatives Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo spoke. Jim pointed out that these same people say "The Supreme court has spoken" about Roe v Wade. Now they have no use for the Court. Marc stated that this proposed law is so outrageous that it will definitely be appealed and cited the costs in time and money that will be associated with the appeal - the McCullen case has already cost many millions.
Pat Stewart, MCFL Executive Director, gave impressive testimony citing 20 actual laws that already cover blockading, harassing, etc.
Committee Members Keiko Orrall and Sheila Harrington asked excellent questions. They and Colleen Garry were the only committee members who voted against sending the proposed legislation to the Senate.
As fast as they can get it through the House and signed, Massachusetts will have a law which is worse than the old Buffer Zone. It effectively creates a 25-foot zone and the penalties are scary - $50,000 and three years in jail. The legislature is in the process of disrespecting the Supreme Court and penalizing law-abiding citizens. I do think all the other places that have suspended their Buffer Zones will pass laws like this one. At least Massachusetts will have company in its foolishness.
Thank goodness I got to go to our Summer Academy afterwards (more in another email). The wonderful speakers and students restored me.
"Can I have an onion ring?" Bill Dill, speaker and Marriage Preparation and Youth Ministry event coordinator, started his talk by asking a listener for food. As she replied yes, Dill asked if the onion ring was good. As most fried things are, she replied it was. "This is the first level of happiness," he returned. According to Fr. Robert Spitzer, there are four levels of happiness. The first, as with the onion ring, involves happiness from something external and material. The second level derives happiness from personal achievement and ego gratification. The third level gains happiness from doing good to others, and the final and fourth level, from fulfillment of the longing for transcendence and perfection. Dill asked us to consider on what level we resided, on what level our culture resided. The nearly fast-paced and often self-centered nature of how we communicate, how we move, and how we live, makes us a culture living largely on the first two levels. Is this a culture of life?
Dill would argue no. A culture of life is one in which the culture brings men to the fullness of what they are meant to be. We need a culture that not only respects all life, but nurtures life, allowing us to gain all levels of happiness. Catherine of Siena said, "If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world ablaze." Does our culture lead us to be people who set fire to the world? Or are we ones who merely sit in the ashes? In order for the culture to become a culture of life, if must encourage the fulfillment of our need for transcendence, for contact with the transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Why, though, is culture such an important vehicle for helping us become fulfilled? Culture is essential to our formation as human beings. Culture provides a supra-utilitarian purpose for us, going beyond the necessities of food, water, and shelter, culture helps us fulfill the reason we live. The importance of culture is apparent. Were culture not important, Hitler, when waging a war on Europe, would not have gone to such lengths to steal art. Were culture not important, others would not have gone to greater lengths to rescue the art. While just one example, this shows the importance of culture in human history.
Culture is intimately connected with leisure, the way which we spend our non-working hours, our free time. In our culture, this often involves a screen. Dill recited alarming statistics about how much time we sit in front of a screen-including that we spend three to four hours a day on average. Most people check their phone within minutes of waking up, in the minutes before bed. People spend entire weekends catching up on TV; we Netflix and DVR so we never miss an episode, as if knowing everything about some character's life or some reality family is so important. A culture of screens does not promote helping others, and does not encourage us to encounter the transcendentals-to fill the longing for something outside our self and achieve the highest happiness.
In order to create a culture of life, a culture where all flourish, there must be a connection to reality, to the actual. Pope John Paul II called a culture a culture of life that develops a "sense of discerning true values and authentic needs." Screens remove us from our authentic needs. We watch someone else's reality, someone else playing soccer, someone else singing or eating or cooking. How much more fulfilling would it be to play soccer, to sing, to eat, or to cook? We are meant to do, to create, not to merely be observers of what another does. Of course, we're not all the Cake Bosses or American idol winners, but we can all cook and we can all sing.
While any cultural change is difficult to produce, it is possible. Often we hear, people lament the state of society, of the culture. But the culture is not against us-- we are the culture. We choose the culture in which we live. By talking to someone in line instead of looking at your phone, by singing around a campfire instead of watching a show, you can create a culture of life. Creating a culture of life begins with us, moves to our families, our communities, and will precipitate to reach around the globe.
Late afternoon yesterday, Planned Parenthood's new Buffer Zone bill, (SD) 2106, was filed. The Judiciary Committee will take testimony tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10 am in Gardner Auditorium. We expect testimony will not go much past three. Obviously, they will vote to report it out as soon as the testimony is over.
We need to prepare to testify. This bill is worse than the one just overturned. Our lawyers say that, in order to appeal successfully, we need a lot of testimony on the record. That is where we come in.
We need to say the law is not needed, that Massachusetts has not arrested anyone outside a clinic in at least 20 years. Most of all we need to say that this new law is so scary we would be afraid to go near a clinic to try to help a woman. You can read the law at http://masscitizensforlife.org...
If I "detain" a woman to give her literature, I could face big fines and jail. Who decides if I am detaining? It looks as though the people in PP could decide. The state looked dumb when it passed the unconstitutional Buffer Zone. It will look totally deranged when it passes this new one.
Please plan on 10 am in Gardner Auditorium. For once it will be okay to arrive a bit late. Individuals have three minutes to speak and members of panels (3 or 4 people) have two minutes each. I will let you know any new developments. If you are not able to testify in person, please prepare something written to email to the House Committee Chair before 9 am in the morning, Christopher.Markey@mahouse.gov
My family loves to talk about birth order. With six kids, we can do a lot of "field research" on the subject. While no set description perfectly fits any child, each sibling exhibits characteristics determined by order. As the oldest, I take charge far more than I should, and, a classic youngest, my littlest brother willingly takes the spotlight. I find middle children most interesting for they do not fit a category as well as oldest and youngest children. In my home, the middle children are the most outgoing and flexible. In a world with smaller and smaller families, though, what will be the fate of the middle child? I can only imagine how different our family would be if, were it possible, we were all oldest, all middle, or all youngest. Oreos wouldn't taste as good without their middle, so too do families and society also need middle children.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, America's birthrate has been in fairly steady decline since the baby boom. Many factors influence this statistic. According to Jessica Dickler, who writes for CNN, the cause is largely financial. With less job security, more college debt, and a general fear of the cost of children, parents hesitate to have large families. While financial worries contribute to the declining birthrate, there seem to be other factors at work. In recent decades, the use of birth control has skyrocketed and abortion was legalized-both means to reduce family size. According to the World Bank, the 2011 fertility rate was 1.89 per woman, less than the 2.1 needed to maintain a population. As fertility rates drop, families will be smaller, and with only two children, there is no middle born.
With less middle children, the many oldest and youngest children will ever compete for approval and authority. Linda Blair, author of Birth Order, writes that first borns take charge, and last borns challenge authority. Without middle children, who will mediate for the common ground? Ambitious and seeking attention, oldest and youngest children will create an increasingly competitive world. The middle child does not exhaust himself trying to win, but enjoys playing the game. Less middle children could mean more competition for colleges, public office and in daily life. Such competition lends itself to less contentedness.
According to Blair, "Middle borns are able to get along with most people and to restore social harmony when conflict arises." Natural peacemakers would benefit the world not only in daily life, but also in politics, and other diplomatic positions. Middle borns, according to Blair, excel more in creative, or less academic, endeavors. Middle borns become athletes, artists, and musicians. Furthermore, stereotypically deprived of attention, middle children learn to fend for themselves. Being more independent, middle children often know what they want and know how to get it. With a realistic drive to accomplish goals, and a more balanced array of talents, middle children have the tools to succeed.
A middle child is content, peacemaking, and resourceful. Just watching my own family, the middle children are the most outgoing, fun, and social. Middle children tend to be the coolest kids on the block, and contrast the nerdy oldest children and often-babied youngest children. My middle born friends are consistently the funniest, most flexible people I know.
My father, a fifth of six, likes to recite a Spanish saying, which translates, "of the fifth, there are no bad." Let us always remember the value of the fifth (and second, third, fourth, etc.). With smaller families, we do not just lose numbers, but we also lose the valuable personalities and the gifts they add to society.
Don't you feel like saying, "What about 9-0 don't you understand?"
As you know, the AG, the Governor, and Planned Parenthood (or the other way round) plan to pass new laws. The fact that the Supreme Court said there are already laws on the books, that Massachusetts was forced to admit at SCOTUS testimony that they have not had to enforce these laws; that new laws will probably end up at the Court again wasting much time and taxpayer money, doesn't seem to matter because these people are demagoging.
Each of us must call our State Senator and our State Representative ASAP! The message is:
The Supreme Court ruled against the Buffer Zone 9-0
There are already laws on the books to keep driveway, sidewalks, and entrances clear.
If a person defies the laws, an injunction can already be brought against him or her.
There is no need for any new laws.
Please do not spend your time and our taxes on unnecessary laws that will most likely just end up before the Supreme Court again
To make the calls:
After you are on: http://masscitizensforlife.org... If you know the names of your State Senator and State Rep, click onto State Senate and State Representatives for their phone numbers
It you do not know the names of your legislators click onto Look Up Your Legislator and Contact Information.
We have bowled them over with calls before. We can do it again!
NB: When you call, be sure to give your name and the fact that you are a constituent!
Calls or personal visits are the way to go - emails can be ignored
Having spent last fall abroad, I learned to love the life of the downtown. Without a car or home, for every trip, I had to stay in the heart of the city. Every place seemed different. Paris breathed beauty and art on every street corner, and Krakow's building told the stories of the city's deep history. As I travelled from city to city, I marveled at how different these places seemed from home, with new foods, new shops, new people. Now that I am home, I realize that while the cities are indeed different, European cities bear more similarity to American ones. Each downtown has staples-public transportation, busy workers, people selling food and wares-an array of splendors to busy all the senses. This morning, I ventured downtown for the first time in a long while, but after the familiar business of a city greeted me, an imposing building reminded me of another downtown staple-the abortion clinic.
The tower didn't look like an abortion facility, and I probably would've passed ignorantly, had I not been going to observe a sidewalk counselor. My friend and I visited a woman standing at a street corner with her bag of pamphlets. She came over excitedly once she saw us, and readily began to tell us about a save! While the young woman had already decided not to abort her child, the counselor had lovingly told her about many places that could help her pay rent, on which she was behind, and support her after she had the child. We had started the morning on a joyous note! Being a sidewalk counselor, while joyous and rewarding, requires a great deal of virtue. As I observed her work, I realized the calling involves three main virtues: hard work, dedication, and hope.
Sidewalk counseling is nothing to scoff at. I assumed the hardest part would be talking to strangers, but quickly learned I was mistaken. Hard work sets the foundation of this calling. This counselor had been waiting on the sidewalk since 6:45 a.m. (it was then 10:00). How did she arrive so early? Not in an air-conditioned, comfortable car, but by bike. She biked to fill a job where she would then stand for hours. Embarrassingly, I was tired after only having to stand outside in the heat for an hour. This lady, though, had been standing for hours, talking to others, enduring the heat, and continuing to walk with us to our car after her day was done. Needless to say, she impressed me. Such hard work though, requires inspiration, a reason to work with such intensity.
Dedication is the second virtue a sidewalk counselor must develop. This woman had been sidewalk counseling for over twenty years. She spend almost the entirety of her adulthood working as a sidewalk counselor. Not only has she worked this long, but she also became bilingual to do a better job. Realizing the benefit speaking Spanish would have in her position, she began to learn the language. She tried high school classes, and dissatisfied there, tried other methods, before ultimately learning the language. Now, as I witnessed, she is fluent and can hold conversations with the women on the sidewalk. Dedicated and passionate, she used her talents, and even developed more, to complete her job in the best possible way.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a sidewalk counselor needs hope. We were lucky to witness a save, for some, even as sidewalk counselors never see a baby saved. While sometimes there is no tangible evidence of the fruits of the labor, a sidewalk counselor cannot give up. The work is both necessary and worthwhile. We do of many lives that were saved, and imagine the lives that were saved with no sidewalk counselor knowing the effect he or she had. The sidewalk counselor we shadowed spoke of the blessing it was in her life to have witnessed the fruits of her work. In completely coincidental situations, she has met four of the children she helped to save. The mothers expressed gratitude and she was able to see the fruits of her labor, giving her future hope to continue such an important ministry. She has even kept in contact with mothers. Even without such a wonderful connection to remind one of the life-saving value of his work, a sidewalk counselor must remain hopeful of the good of his beautiful service.
Like most downtowns, this one was busy when I came. Like most downtowns, this one had stores and buses. Unlike most, this one had a lifesaving sidewalk counselor on the corner. She literally brings life to the downtown. As we work to make our downtowns, our world, free of abortion facilities, may those working as dedicated sidewalk counselors, become a staple in the downtown, saving lives person by person in the heart of the city.
For Immediate Release Contact Patricia Stewart, Esq. 617-242-4199
Charlestown, July 8, 2014
Massachusetts Citizens for Life has sent the following letter to every member of the Massachusetts Legislature urging them to respect the First Amendment rights of people outside abortion facilities.
Dear Representative, Senator:
Seven years ago, at the urging of the Attorney General, the Legislature passed the so-called Buffer Zone Act, and the Governor signed it into law despite warnings that it violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and would not withstand a challenge to its constitutionality.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous 9-0 decision vindicated critics of the act (which included the ACLU) and ruled that the law violated the First Amendment and, therefore, was unconstitutional. McCullen, et al v. Coakley Attorney General of Massachusetts, et al, 573 U.S. ___ (2014).
Now in a rush to judgment, the same Attorney General and Governor are asking you to support new legislation that in all likelihood will lead to more litigation due to infringement on the right of citizens to use the public sidewalk for the two primary methods of communicating their message to persons entering abortion clinics: close personal conversation and distribution of literature. As the Court noted, those forms of expression have historically been closely associated with the transmission of ideas. It stated, "[c]onsistent with the traditionally open character of public streets and sidewalks, we have held that the government's ability to restrict speech in such locations is 'very limited.'" McCullen, at __. Pointing to its decision in Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N.Y., 519 U.S. 357, 377 (1997), it reminded us that "[l]eafletting [sic] and commenting on matters of public concern are classic forms of speech that lie at the heart of the First Amendment." The Court then cautioned, "[w]hen the government makes it more difficult to engage in these modes of communication, it imposes an especially significant First Amendment burden." McCullen, at __.
As you consider voting on the Attorney General's new proposal, please think carefully as to whether or not the latest version will pass constitutional muster. Remember, she convinced you before that her bill would do so, and she was dead wrong.
Thank you for any consideration you may give these matters.
Very truly yours,
Anne C. Fox Patricia D. Stewart Eva Murphy
President Executive Director Legislative Director
Nearly twenty years ago, a young, Colombian woman was pregnant. She already had a toddler and lived in near third-world poverty. Despite these conditions, she made a bold choice. The mother chose life.
The young mother couldn't see the consequences of her choice. Giving her child up for adoption, she could not foresee the blessings to blossom from her choice. This woman was the mother of one of my best friends.
My friend has changed my life and, I know, the lives of many others. In just one decision, the young woman not only gave my friend the gift of life, but also gave to so many others the gift of a daughter, sister, and friend. Recently, I talked to my friend about the blessing of her adoption.
Understanding the gift she has been given, my friend feels "immensely blessed" and grateful to her mother. With this gratitude, though, comes another feeling-guilt. At first, the combination seems odd, but as my friend explains, I begin to understand this seeming contradiction. Knowing the hardship her mother experienced, my friend finds it hard to enjoy the manifold blessings of her life, without feeling sorry her mother doesn't enjoy them as well. As my friend explains, "It was a flip of a coin, that I won and she didn't." Especially on holidays, like Christmas, she can't help but think, for at least a second, of how different their situations might be, for while my friend celebrates with delicious food and presents, her mother may experience an entirely different holiday. Her mother made the beautiful, life-giving decision, but won't share or see the goods this choice has brought into her daughter's life.
While guilt may be a bittersweet edge to gratitude, more sweet blessings flowed from my friend's adoption. As we talked, she described how lucky she has been, especially to have such a loving family. She quoted her father, who says, "Some adopted kids lose the lottery, you kids won it." She couldn't agree more, listing what she was thankful for, she included, "stable parents who love each other, and in today's world-that's huge!" These parents continued to bless her, giving her three siblings, also adopted from Colombia. My friend cannot imagine life without her siblings, or even with biological siblings. As the topic of chance found frequent mention in our conversation, she discussed the immense difference in her life each sibling has made. How different life would be, had a brother been a sister, or vice versa, or had any other combination of siblings occurred. When the entertainment of hypotheticals subsides, though, she, as we all ought, realizes how blessed she is that life took the specific, unique path it chose.
Just as George Bailey does in It's a Wonderful Life, I find myself enchanted by wondering about the world had I never been born. In the case of my friend, she finds herself wandering to this same question, though often regarding her adoption. Shortly before she entered high school, her father started a high school founded on promoting a culture of life. Had he no daughter to attend high school, the school might never have opened. This school has now changed the lives of its many students and families who have joined its unique mission. Following her father's entrepreneurial spirit, my friend has started summer camps, led fundraisers, and strives in all her actions to serve and love everyone she meets, friend or stranger. No George Bailey film is needed to see the many effects one life has had on so many others.
As just one of the lives she has changed, I cannot imagine life without this dear friend. Throughout high school, she kindly listened to any crazy idea or sad news or ridiculous new discovery I had to share. Even after we graduated, her door was always open if I needed to discuss the latest boy drama or even just to steal her guacamole. Seldom do friends enter our lives and never walk out, but here I know I have found a friend with whom I will share the rest of my life's adventures. I am just one person whose life has changed, from her family to her many friends, her life has truly been a blessing. As with so many actions, the young mother did not see the lives she would change by her choice. The mother chose life, and in giving the gift of adoption, she changed not only one life, but many lives.
New York Times accepts a full-page ad today using a picture of Margaret Sanger to viciously attack the Roman Catholic bishops over a Supreme Court case involving a family of Evangelical Christians. Disgusting birthday present for our country!
At the Walk, we celebrated "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; we celebrated the Buffer Zone decision. Most of all we celebrated our greatest resource: our children. We have kept the Walk website through this weekend, July 7th, so that you may sponsor the beneficiary group of your choice. If you were not able to attend the Walk and have not yet participated, please take a moment now.
Just think, with the Buffer Zone gone, there may be more women going to the Pregnancy Resource Centers so the Centers will need your help more than ever!
Walking into an action movie, I often expect a complicated plot, nearly constant explosion, and a handsome hero. Captain America satisfied all three. Not only, though, was the hero handsome, he was wholesome as well. Whether due to his old-school morals (being frozen in the 1950's) or just a desire to live righteously, Captain America proved to be a superhero worthy of imitation from all in the pro-life movement. As the movie progressed, I realized the central theme of the movie was fundamentally pro-life. Captain America fought to save lives, to ensure that innocent lives weren't lost-the same fight we fight in America.
The action of the movie involved Captain America defeating "Hydra" an organization hoping to restore order and security to the globe. Universally, societies seek order and security. Each society must choose how to best secure its citizens. Philosophers have also wondered: what must we give up in order to attain this security? Some political philosophers, such as Hobbes, suggest a full surrendering of rights to the state, in exchange for security. Others suggest a milder and friendlier, such as Rousseau's social contract, wherein the people hold more power. Even more extreme than Hobbes, Hydra believed that in order to achieve its security, it must kill all those seemingly against its organization. Not only did Hydra seek to kill those against it, but also those it predicted would be against it, that is, any present or future threat to its order.
But the ends do not justify the means, and Hydra has forgotten that order itself ought not be the end of a society. Security and order in a society exist that its citizens may flourish. Spending less time on defense and mere self-preservation, people can pursue art, literature, and innovation-leisure pursuits otherwise not possible. In killing innocent citizens, Hydra destroys those for whom the order would benefit. No consequent flourishing culture will appear, for no citizens will exist to pursue such a culture.
Order, though, is not the only reason for which some justify killing innocent life. Mother Teresa once said, "it's the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." Here in our nation, we have decided that "living as you wish" justifies taking an innocent life, that in order to "improve" one life, we can disregard another.
With clever rhetoric, Hydra attempts to color their plan virtuous. The leader, Alexander Pierce, defending his operation, says, "I would protect the life of seven billion people, at the cost of twenty million. It takes courage to do that." How far this is from true courage! Pierce's opposite, Nick Fury, correctly responds, "And it takes courage not to."
In defending truth, and fighting for those who cannot, there is courage. There is courage in admitting that the seemingly harder road may be the better road, the right road. While these arguments may seem convincing, when Hydra loses, chaos may run a little wilder, but lives will be saved and permitted to flourish. So too, a mother may have to endure a nine-month pregnancy, but how worth the wait for the beautiful baby and a live saved! It seems cheaper, more efficient perhaps, to end lives before their natural end, removing hospital care, but we lose a life, and in doing so, deny ourselves the wisdom and joy of the elderly and those with disabilities. Just as Captain America, we must fight fearlessly and without ceasing for those lives.
Captain America understood the duty to defend life and freedom. While everyone cannot be a powerful soldier, everyone can, and has a duty to, defend life. In every action we can defend life by affirming the dignity of everyone we encounter. The pro-life movement needs all gifts, from the singers at nursing homes to the planners of huge fundraisers, to those helping pregnant mothers, to the pro-life legislators and doctors. By virtue of our humanity, we are called to protect each other. Being pro-life is not just a Catholic issue, it is not just a Christian issue, it is not just a woman's issue-it is a human issue. Just as Captain America, we must all strive to fulfill our duty and defend human life.
Yesterday on the Common were the nicest people, the best weather, and all good things. We were so fortunate to have Ryleigh's mother, Courtney Silvani and Fr. Eric Cadin, one of the plaintiffs in the Buffer Zone case, speak to us. You can read about it in the Boston Globe. The three reporters were very respectful and the picture is beautiful. /story.html?utm_source=14%2F06%2F30+%28ACLU+%2B+Choose+to+Be+Nice+%2B+FL+Pol+Almanac%29&utm_campaign=20140630ML&utm_medium=email
You will notice that the Globe missed the point of the Walk (being fixated on the Buffer Zone decision as almost-the-end-of-the-world). I sent the following Letter to the Editor because it is important that we have had this Walk for many years to aid mothers and their precious children:
Letter to the Editor,
I write to thank the Globe and to point out a serious omission in your article, "Anti-abortion activists march on Common" (June 30, 2014).
This was the 27th Annual Walk to Aid Mothers and Children.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life sponsors the Walk whose purpose is to allow groups like pregnancy resource centers to raise money for their work. Besides the people who are there walking, many, many others across the state support the Walk financially. Mass. Citizens is proud to be able to provide this opportunity for the beneficiaries.
Of course, the win at the Supreme Court in McCullen vs. Coakley, the "Buffer Zone," is exciting, but the purpose of the Walk remains to provide the opportunity for these helping groups to raise much needed finds for their vital work.
Anne Fox, President, Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
I was at National Right to Life last week. I just learned that Bridget Fay, one of our Mass. Citizens Board members and a lawyer appeared last Thursday on Greater Boston to discuss the Buffer Zone win. She was great. Here is the link http://wgbhnews.org/post/why-f...
That makes at least two Suffolk Law professors who are on the Planned Parenthood Board!
Today is the 50th anniversary of Civil Rights. Dr Alveda King has spoken a number of times in Massachusetts and last week at the National Right to Life Convention. This is what she has to say, " When we said we would no longer sit at the back of the bus, a place was being reserved for us down at the abortion clinic."
The numbers in Massachusetts bear out her statement. According to the 2010 Census, Blacks make up 7.02 % of the population in the Commonwealth yet 30% of abortions are perpetrated on black non-hispanic women. That is somewhat higher than the national average.
We know that Margaret Sanger intentionally set up her clinics in minority areas to wipe out those she considered undesirable. Her evil influence still pervades the industry.
Vermont Right to Life just informed us that the Burlington City Council has lifted the ordinance requiring a 35-foot Buffer Zone around Planned Parenthood. More good fruits of McCullen vs. Coakley!
We are working on a very exciting project. Expect some amazing pictures tomorrow.
We are running the Summer Academy again this year. It is a wonderful, free opportunity for students. Thomas, who was a student in '12, is an intern with us this summer. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 617-242-4199 ext. 230. Please encourage your children, grandchildren, neighbors to come.
2014 Massachusetts Citizens for Life Summer Academy, 2014
Rising High School Students - Methuen
The goal of the sessions is to form and engage high school students as workers in the pro-life movement. More specifically and immediately, we intend these students to become Ambassadors of MCFL in their respective schools, churches, or homeschooling communities during the 2014-2015 school year, as both leaven and liaison in their respective pro-life clubs.
So that we may provide a thorough formation, our preference is for students who can and will commit to attending all, or at least most, of the sessions.
An award certificate will be conferred during the last session, which will also serve as a "commissioning ceremony" for these MCFL Ambassadors.
In order to present a thorough overview of the main life issues, the pro-life movement, and the various ways that these students can and should get involved, we will hold six weekly sessions. With the exception of the last, sessions will normally consist of an expert presentation of content, and interactive workshop, with 30 minutes allotted at the beginning for informal fraternizing over pizza and soft drinks.
Dates: St. Monica School, Methuen, Wednesdays, July 9 - Aug 13
Time: 6:00 p.m. To 8:00 p.m. (6:00 - 8:30 p.m. for last session)
Tuition: Free for pro-life high school students
SUMMER ACADEMY, 2014
July 9, Fetal development and how to discuss the issue with your friends, Linda Thayer
Scientist and Educator
July 16, Post Abortion Problems, Cori Connor Morse, Post-Abortion Survivor
Help available at Pregnancy Resource Centers, Anne Magnus, Pregnancy Care
July 23, Representative Jim Lyons and
What Roe really did, Helen Cross, Editor of the MCFL Quarterly Magazine
July 30, End of Life Issues: current scientific, legislative developments, Patricia Stewart, Esq,
end-of-life expert and Executive Director, MCFL
Aug. 6, Student Presentations
Moral and scientific questions in the area of life and reproduction, Dianne Hunt,
Humanae Vitae Family Healthcare
Aug. 13, Commissioning Ceremony and showing of October Baby - open to families and the
The experts at National Right to Life have produced this analysis of the Hobby-Lobby decision. It is the most comprehensive, accurate and pertinent to us that I have seen. See why it is a "moderate victory."
National Right to Life Analysis:
Narrow Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby
underscores deeper abortion-expanding aspects of Obamacare
The National Right to Life Committee, the nation's oldest and largest pro-life organization, today released the following analysis of yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Any part of the following analysis may be attributed to National Right to Life.
The ruling provides a modest victory for religious conscience rights. However, as explained further below, the ruling does not truly correct any of the major abortion-expanding problems created by Obamacare.
The five-justice majority rejected the Obama Administration's attempt to force family-owned for-profit corporations to directly purchase health insurance covering certain drugs and devices that violate the employer's religious and moral beliefs. The Court held that this application of a provision of Obamacare violates a federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Court's majority recognized the gravity of the moral and religious objections raised by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in this case.
However, the Court left open the possibility that those objections might be satisfactorily resolved by a government mandate ("accommodation") that these employers' insurance carriers pay directly for the same drugs and devices. This leaves unresolved the status of many entities (including religiously affiliated schools, charities, and hospitals) with sincere religiously based objections to providing specific drugs and devices, who regard a federal mandate that requires them to take action to require their insurance carrier to carry out the same ends as differing only in form and not in substance from the original mandate.
Moreover, regardless of how the scope of the "accommodation" is defined by future rulemaking and litigation, it is difficult to discern what would prevent HHS from issuing a further expansion of its "preventive services" mandate to require that most employers also provide coverage for surgical abortions, or for doctor-prescribed suicide, that would be just as expansive as the contraceptive mandate.
In short, even with respect only to the "preventive services" component of Obamacare, the Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby comes nowhere near to correcting the heart of the problem, which is the overly expansive authority that the Obamacare law itself provides to HHS to define "preventive services." The other major abortion-expanding provisions of Obamacare, including the massive tax subsidies that will assist millions of Americans to purchase health plans that cover elective abortion, were not even issues in the cases just decided.
Only comprehensive legislative reform can cure the multiple abortion-expanding components of Obamacare - and such reform can only be accomplished with new leadership in the U.S. Senate and in the White House.
During the congressional debate over Obamacare, National Right to Life continuously warned against the abortion-expanding and health care rationing provisions of the bill. An archive of documents related to the abortion-expanding provisions of Obamacare is available here: http://www.nrlc.org/federal/ah... In March, National Right to Life's Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics issued a report on how Obamacare is rationing access to life-preserving medical treatment, "The Affordable Care Act and Health Care Access in the United States" which is available here (with other supporting materials): http://www.nrlc.org/communicat...
The Supreme Court saved the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood case for the very last and the ruling was 5-4. It is scary that basic religious, speech rights should have been such a squeaker. The court ruled that companies do not have to pay for contraception/abortion coverage. It is assumed that the Obama administration will step in to pay, so now we'll all be paying! Anyway, it would have been an historic blow if the case had gone against our side.
I think MCFL's amicus brief, citing the history of religious liberty in the colonies, which was the basis for the views of our founding fathers, helped to win this case. Again, we are very grateful to Dwight Duncan and the law students who helped him write the brief!
Now what will we do with ourselves on Monday and Thursday mornings?
We are very fortunate to have some of the plaintiffs in the Buffer Zone win coming on Sunday. There's still time to register yourself or sponsor a walker. Click the image below to bring you to the Respect Life Walk website.
On Tuesday (24th), pro-lifers across the country won all five U.S. Senate and Congressional primaries, one special election and one runoff! Also, National Right to Life (NRLC) is making calls to members. They say it sounds like 2010 - very encouraging!
Yesterday the New Jersey Assembly (House) was supposed to vote on DPSuicide. The proponents did not have the votes, so it appears to be off the table for now.
For Immediate Release Contact Janet Callahan: 617-242-4199 ext. 230
Boston, June 26, 2014
Massachusetts Citizens for Life welcomes the Supreme Court unanimous decision, McCullen v. Coakley, which strikes down the Massachusetts so-called Buffer Zone as a violation of the First Amendment.
The court reiterates tradition in this country that the sidewalk is the vehicle for free speech. There are already laws on the books which prohibit blocking entrances, harassing people, etc.
The McCullen decision makes it clear that more restrictive laws may be written only if the current laws are not working - something that the state of Massachusetts failed to prove.
"This is a victory for all citizens who value their First Amendment rights and for clinic-bound women who might need someone to talk to," says Anne Fox, President.
Mark Rienzi, the lead counsel said, "Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks. That includes peaceful pro-lifers like Eleanor McCullen, who just wants to offer information and help to women who would like it. The Supreme Court has affirmed a critical freedom that has been an essential part of American life since the nation's founding."
Massachusetts Citizens for Life is the oldest and largest pro-life organization in the state. Founded in 1973, it works to restore legal protection to all human life.
SCOTUS reversed the Massachusetts Buffer Zone unanimously!
We don't know yet whether it applies to other states.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online (NRO) is speaking right now at the National Right to Life Convention. I have heard that NRO will have in-depth articles on the decision. Please check in with them: http://www.nationalreview.com/
Congratulations to Eleanor McCullen and her fellow plaintiffs!
Living in the north, the long-awaited sun brings us from hibernating indoors to finally enjoying the outdoor sunshine. For me, this change means taking my transportation from four wheels to two. I started to bike not only to enjoy the sun, but to take advantage of the many trails around my home and perhaps save some gas. Little did I know the many things biking would change. Physically, biking has already given me a sore bottom and sunburnt arms. Not only, though, has the sun colored my Irish skin, but it has started to color the way I see the world. I know it seems wild that pedaling around town could do anything to change my perspective, but the slow pedaling has slowed my thoughts. While my initial reasons to bike centered on relatively shallow goals, I began to realize there were much better reasons to bike. In biking, we encounter people more, we slow down, and we share in a journey-actions that call us to focus on the person, the dignified individual, which we are pedaling past.
It seems silly, at first, to imagine "traffic" on bike trails, but I have recently learned that this phenomenon does in fact exist. At "rush hour," rules on speed and merging arise and the oft-ignored stop signs must now be heeded. While this traffic bears some similarity to the nearby highway, there is one key difference: you look at the other commuters. The traffic occurs between people, not minivans and trucks. While, of course, there are people inside these metal boxes, seldom when cursing the car that cuts us off, do we think of that driver. With biking, you cannot avoid it. With each passing traveler, you must exchange at least a glance. While this seems perhaps a trivial difference in my commute versus that of the crowded car-I consider it to be of great importance. The importance lies in that this traffic calls us to remember the person, not the car. When focusing on the person, we lean less to rudeness, and instead act in kindness and consideration. Biking forces this attention, but we must remember the persons throughout our days, always acting with kindness. With the speeding internet and interstates, any attention to the person, not the car or twitter handle, is beneficial. This personal attention reinforces the dignity of the person. It is far easier to slander another from behind a computer screen or windshield than when passing on a bicycle. Focus on the person is central to a culture of life. When building a culture of life, we must respect life from conception to natural death-remembering life at the entirety of stages in between-from the slow tricycle rider to the whizzing racer to old man on his recumbent bicycle.
Biking also slows me down-the ten-minute drive turns into a half hour bike ride. By taking time, I notice the flowers, the clouds, the crunching leaves-- I must involve myself in the environment, with those around me. As a teacher of mine would say, I try to become, "someone on whom nothing is lost." When biking, we have the time to notice everything around, to soak in beauty we might otherwise speed past. With nothing lost on us, we live life more fully, realizing more the value of each moment. Not only does biking connect us more intimately with the environment, but biking connects us to other people.
Each driver has his own radio, his own temperature, but bikers share the same sounds, the same air, and the same trail. With much today that can isolate (phones, cars, cubicles, etc.), bike trails unite. The shared trail reminds us of our shared nature. This solidarity forces us to realize our similarities and the dignity that we know each of us to possess.
Through focusing on this shared nature and attending to the individual person, biking helps to create a culture of life, which is essential to the pro-life movement. Mother Teresa said, "We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love." The pro-life movement centers on small things of great love, from kindly letting someone pass on a bike trail to the gentle words of a sidewalk counselor to the pro-life med student studying during finals week. Big or small, all our actions either work for or against a culture of life. Through small acts of love, we can create a culture of life, in our homes, at work, and on the bike trails.
One of my favorite facts about the world is that boys like to mow the lawn and don't like to do laundry. This difference allows me to make a fair trade with my brother, should I ever draw the short stick and be stuck with mowing the lawn, wherein we are both pleased with the swap. It seems absurd to me, and perhaps when flipped, equally absurd to him, that anyone should prefer mowing the lawn to folding laundry. These differences keep us both satisfied in our work, not to mention my mother's satisfaction in a well mowed lawn and clean towels.
Not only do differences help keep my mother happy, but differences add a beauty and order to the world. We can find joy and friendship in each other-something we all desire to share, despite the differences we do not. Beyond my daily chores, this idea applies also to those with disabilities- the different perspective, experience, and talents they have are unique, necessary, and lead to much joy for those they encounter.
Differences allow us to learn from one another, especially from those with disabilities. A friend of mine once said that all the kindest people she knew had someone with a disability in their life. Looking to my own life, I found this statement to be true as well. Why does this one factor seem to predicate such kindness? While I have had little opportunity to spend time with those with disabilities, I think the answer may come from what they are able to share with others. Those with disabilities seem to radiate a kind of joy, a joy, which, I would guess, comes from a knowledge that many of us fail to realize-that one does not need to be the strongest, or smartest, or prettiest to have life and have it to the full. Those with disabilities radiate joy because, whether consciously or unconsciously, they realize an intrinsic goodness in life, for it is wonderful simply to be alive!
This past year, I had the chance to visit a community where those with disabilities live and work. Here, joy was immediately apparent, and many details of the community reminded me that we could all share in this joy. Each placemat in the dining hall had small pictures of that person's interests-something each knew he could share with us and we with him. The pictures showed everything from favorite sports' teams to board games to recent movies, interests we all share. These placemat pictures remind us that, despite differences, we share in the same joys, the same interests and same desire for friendship. Indeed, friendship came easy during those meals, as did the consequent joy. While friendship is just one shared characteristic, countless other similarities serve to remind us of our shared dignity, that each of us, by our human nature, is valuable.
While each life is valuable, each is also necessary. We need each other: we need CEO's and Olympians, but we also need the one who works for the CEO and the one who trains the Olympian. Albert Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." This quote bluntly calls us to remember that we differ, but all have value, for "everybody is a genius." In working with those with disabilities, we must remember not to the judge "the fish" by its climbing ability, but by how well it swims, and only then do we see its merit. Those with disabilities have different skills, but they have many skills! In friendship with those with disabilities, we can each learn from each other.
In the times I have spent with those with disabilities, I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and the joy that inevitably flows from such a friendship. Those with disabilities have no less "quality of life," rather they can enjoy lives of the highest quality. We must protect these lives, these lives both beautiful and necessary. In protecting every life, we must share with others the value of those with disabilities. In doing so, and working with those with disabilities, we, too, may hope to be filled with their joy.
The MCFL Respect Life Walk to Aid Mothers and Children is 10 days away. You still have time to sign up as a walker, member of a team, or sponsor. Please check out to see what you would like, http://respectlifewalk.org/. We have just celebrated Mother's Day and Father's Day. Just think about the needs of these mothers and their precious children. Think how much you can help by supporting the beneficiary organizations that care for them!
Today is Thursday but neither of our decisions came down from SCOTUS.
For Immediate Release Contact Madeline McComish: 617-387-7820
Statement by Madeline McComish, Chairman, MCFL State PAC, June 19, 2014, Boston
"Today the MCFL State PAC announces its endorsement of Mark Fisher in his quest for Governor.
"MCFL PAC believes that all voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of those on the edges of life should vote for Mark Fisher because he will support vital pro-life public policies.
"Mark Fisher is a strong supporter of pro-life measures, including A Woman's Right to Know, a Massachusetts Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, a ban on sex-selection abortions, and the licensing of abortion facilities in the state. He opposes tax funding of abortion and doctor-prescribed suicide.
"This endorsement reflects Mark's commitment to strengthening a culture of life throughout the Commonwealth. We look forward to working with him to protect the most vulnerable members of the human family.
"In the Republican Primary, Mark is opposed by Charlie Baker, who favors tax funding of abortion and opposes A Woman's Right to Know. All of the Democratic contenders for Governor take positions strongly in favor of abortion."
Ryleigh is the Walk baby. Christine Williams interviewed her mother, Courtney Mayo-Silvani. You'll love what she has to say about the beauty of life in general and Ryleigh in particular: http://www.thebostonpilot.com/...
I think these links will also brighten your day as they did mine.