Young and Old meet to defend life from fertilization to natural death on PEI. 

On Sunday, May 27th the residents of Charlottetown were witness to over 250 people participating in the Provincial March for Life hosted by the PEI Right to Life Association (PEI RTL) and the Knights of Columbus. The many supporters of the right to life for all humans from fertilization to natural death carried signs with life affirming messages and pink and blue balloons with the number 195. This was to commemorate the 195 deaths of children of Island residents lost to abortion in 2017. The March went from St Pius X Church to the Coles building.

This annual Provincial March for Life has been taking place since 1998 in the same month as the National March for Life in Ottawa. The purpose is to increase awareness for protection of the vulnerable at all stages of life, be that the child in the womb, those afflicted by drug addictions, or suffering long-term illnesses. Pat Wiedemer, Executive Director of the PEI Right to Life Association told the crowd gathered at the Coles Building that: “The human heart knows that life has meaning. Because we live, we love. And, when love or life is violated we must speak out. This is why we are here today, why we are pro-life, why we uphold the dignity of every human person from fertilization until natural death.”

Keynote speaker Kevin Arsenault drew attention to the use of euphemisms in pro-choice language which degrade the humanity of the child. “They shy away from truth by speaking not of a baby or a child, but rather of a fetus, which is correct in the scientific realm yet is more of a classification term, or the ultimate low is by making reference to a blob of cells.” Other speakers Barb MacFarlane, President of the PEI RTL Association, Emily Roberts, Youth Outreach Director for the PEI RTL, and Mike White, Culture of Life State Coordinator for Knights of the Columbus, called upon Islanders to speak out in defense of life and create a true culture of life where all may live without having death offered as health care. Wiedemer’s closing words were: “A culture of death is spreading its poison.  Let us be different.  Let us love one another. Let us love the mother and the baby, let us love the young person in trouble, let us love the sick and aged. This is what pro-life means. We must love and support and be that hope for the one who is in crisis. Let us restore in them a vision of the future for good.” The event was also delighted to hear the music of Dan and Katie Currie and team, plus the prayerful words of Rev. Dr. Mike Ghiz, and PEI Catholic Women's League, President Shirley Price for opening and closing prayers, respectively. 

Please read below a selection of the speeches offered at the Rally. 

Mike White Coordinator for the Culture of Life Office Knights of Columbus Welcome and Opening Comments March for Life Rally 27 May 2018

Good afternoon.  My name is Mike White and I am the Culture of Life Coordinator for the PEI Knights of Columbus.  On behalf of our State Deputy James Poirier, and all my brother Knights I would like to welcome all of you on this very important day of the pro-life movement on PEI when we come together and march to show our support and solidarity for the sanctity of human life in all of its stages and our opposition to abortion, assisted suicide,  and euthanasia! 

And what a beautiful day it is to celebrate life, to appreciate this gift that has been given to us, to enjoy and marvel at the wonder of life that begins in the womb.  Today, as we marched to affirm life and mourn its loss we reinforced in one another and hopefully in those who watched, the ideal of creating a better world by embracing a culture of life.  The promise and realization of a culture of life must and does begin in the womb with the conception of a child – a human being - as both a symbol and the actual creation of our love and hope for a better world full of promise and hope.  We marched to protest the killing of life, to defend life because we know that all lives matter- from the pre-born to the most aged and debilitated.  Abortion and unnatural death dehumanizes and devalues us individually and as a society.  We marched to show our love for humanity and our most vulnerable and what unity, inclusiveness and tolerance really mean. 

As proponents of the culture of life, the Knights of Columbus believe that the life of each and every human -whether rich or poor, perfect or imperfect – is equally important and that human life right from conception to natural death - is sacred in nature being that we are all the creation of God.  Therefore, nobody other than God Himself, possesses any kind of moral right to destroy or harm life.  As humans are the greatest creations of God, the life and existence of each and every human should be respected and treasured.

Contrast this to a culture of death which now surrounds us encouraged by those who no longer hold life sacred and who measure the worth of a life in terms of whether a life is wanted or whether physical or mental limitations exist.  We are now a narcistic society fueled by materialism and the worship of self-gratification and pleasure.  We can see the danger in this especially when the culture of death becomes widely accepted in a society such as our own leading to the violation and/or complete denial of basic human rights of the weaker and most vulnerable members of society.  Indeed, we can see this happening within our own country now as we speak and as you will hear from other speakers later. 

Few seem to realize as St Mother Theresa did that the greatest destroyer of peace today is 'Abortion', because it is a war against the child... A direct killing of the innocent child and a murder by the mother herself regardless of the circumstances.  Tragically, few are able to make the connection that if you can be violent to the most vulnerable how can you be otherwise peaceful to the rest of the world.  Hatred abounds where violence is sown!

We must look to change this attitude in society.  How can we end or reduce violence in the world when we are violent to our most vulnerable?  How can we treat others with human dignity when we fail to treat the pre-born with human dignity.  A person filled with love and mercy to all and for all including those in the womb does not offer violence to others no matter what the circumstances.

But adopting a culture of life will only come about by changing the opinions and attitudes of those around us - our neighbors, our youth, our families and, most importantly, ourselves through education, understanding, compassion and love.  But we must additionally demand that the attitudes of our leaders - our politicians and political parties also change.  We are far too accommodating in allowing ourselves to be convinced that it is OK to elect pro-abortion candidates because of the promise of action that they offer on an array of other social justice issues.  We are often rebuked for being “One Issue” voters if our primary criteria is electing a pro-life candidate.  However, as Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, bluntly stated in 2016 this is a grave error in thinking and pointed out clearly that in contrast to other social justice issues like poverty etc “What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation” of nearly 50 million abortion deaths in the US since 1973? A figure he pointed out that was much larger than the population of Canada and where we have experienced our own devastation by allowing over 3 million abortion deaths to have occurred since 1989. 

The answer, of course, is that there is no issue that outweighs abortion!

While his remarks were directed to Catholic voters, his remarks apply equally to all pro-life voters whether they be Catholics or from other faiths or no particular faith at all - that we must stop supporting pro-abortion politicians who woo us by offering us an array of other social justice remedies.  To paraphrase Anderson, we must end the political manipulation of pro-life voters by abortion advocates and stop creating excuses for them!  We as pro-lifers should no longer either be asked to be partners in the abortion regime or allow ourselves to compromise our integrity or pro-life beliefs regardless of the politician or Party!

Moreover, the issue of the sanctity of life has been and always must be the first among equals when it comes to social justice issues whether it be anti-poverty, environmentalism, education, health or other aspect of social justice.  If you cannot offer security, love and human dignity for the most vulnerable then you cannot truly love or dignify anything else because God’s most important work was the very creation of life and us in his image.  Everything else becomes secondary to that very act.

Failure to create a culture of life will continue us down the path of increasing worthlessness and destruction. It was rather prescient of St John Paul II and he was certainly well ahead of others at the time in forecasting the devastation of abortion on humankind and society we are now starting to see when he wrote back in 1995 that the erosion of respect for human life could be attributed to our exaggerated individualism, materialism, hedonism and the moral relativism it fosters.  In his blunt assessment, abortion and euthanasia are crimes and societies where such killing is allowed will invariably revert to barbarianism and gravitate toward totalitarianism.   I would suggest that given recent political developments provincially and especially federally, we have already begun to see the emergence of these two dangers as our freedoms and democratic rights are under full assault! 

In closing, while we have witnessed abortion continue to make inroads here and now in Ireland, we do not give up the fight even for a second.  The battle has only begun and it will be won one saved life at a time.  Thank you and God bless!

Barb MacFarlane, President of PEI RTL speaks out on Euthanasia Awareness

Welcome Greetings

A Word from our President Barbara MacFarlane

Good afternoon and thank you for coming out to be with us today. My name is Barb MacFarlane and the focus of my talk will be euthanasia and assisted suicide.

 It was Jan. 9th, 2008 and my mom lay dying at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after taking a heart attack earlier that day. As her family waited to hear the prognosis, the doctor came out and asked us if our mom had ever mentioned what she would want at the end of life. The answer, not surprisingly, was “No”. Fast forward ten years, and this question is most likely at least thought about, if not actually verbalized. If there is anything good that came from the bill that legalized assisted suicide in Canada in 2016, it is the likelihood that a discussion around end-of-life care would be much more acceptable and much more likely to be approached. In a study released this month by the Vanier Institute of the Family, they found exactly that. Prior to 2016, death and dying was still pretty much a taboo topic.

 A recent statistic says that only ten percent or less of the population die suddenly “with their boots on so to speak” or die in their sleep. No doubt you have often heard people say that that is how they would want to go, or, when speaking of someone else, that “it was a great way to go”. But since only 10% or less actually do go that way, that leaves the other 90% of the population that die, and I quote, “on a continuum of aging”. That means most of us will go through a period of slow deterioration in our health and physical abilities. Naturally, this induces fear - fear of being a burden to our families, fear of being a vegetable, or fear of losing what we once had. This leaves us very vulnerable to the proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Reinforcing the value of each human being, because they are human, and not what they can or can not do, is the duty and indeed the privilege of each of us in our individual communities.

 So, what exactly is euthanasia? Euthanasia is an action or an omission of medical treatment that directly and intentionally causes the death of another person with the intention of relieving suffering. To refuse treatment and let “nature take its course” is not suicide. “The withdrawal of treatment to permit someone to die naturally is not euthanasia.” It’s all about intention.

 At a recent Campaign Life Provincial conference in Saskatoon, Alex Schadenberg, Director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition stressed the importance of consistent and clear communication in our opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Those who are advocating for widespread liberalizing of the rules concerning those who can and who cannot receive assisted suicide are not stopping, and neither should we. New challenges will be brought before the courts and new legislation will be proposed.

 Schadenberg goes on to say, “An often-mistaken perception is that those who are ill or disabled are suffering when in fact they are not ‘suffering from’, but ‘living with’ their condition”. I think each one of us here can think of at least one person who is living with, not suffering from, their disability. These people are a great inspiration for all of us.

 When we think about the role the medical profession plays, I refer to two separate cases in Oregon. A doctor in one case tried to talk his sick patient into assisted suicide, not only for the patient’s own sake, but out of consideration for his wife with no consultation whatsoever with the man’s wife. Imagine what would have happened had she not overheard this conversation. In another case, again in Oregon, a doctor talked his patient out of assisted suicide when she was diagnosed with cancer and told she had 6 months to a year to live. Fearing pain and depression, she was ready to give up. Twelve years later, she is so happy the doctor in that case talked her into “living with dignity”. Both these cases illustrate the power doctors have over life and death once assisted suicide is legalized.

 Now back to Canada, in one year - 2016-2017, the number of euthanasia deaths in Quebec increased by 67% from 454 in 2016 to 757 in 2017. On a weekly basis, it went from 9 in 2016 to 29 in 2017 - (a three-fold increase), and that is each week! But that is Quebec, so why should we in PEI care about what happens in Quebec? Two reasons - 1) that same rapid rate of increase was not reached in Belgium until about 9 - 10 years after legalization, and 2) in some of those cases, the requirements for assisted suicide were not followed. We should be concerned. These statistics show that irreversible decisions for death are being made far too quickly and without due process.

 As you no doubt already know, PEI had 12 requests for doctor assisted death in 2017, with 6 requests being granted. I say this, not to make people afraid of their health care provider, but to emphasize the importance of that conversation and being very clear about what you want.

 So back to my mom, when should we, her family, have had this conversation with her? Even though she lived independently in her own home up until the night before she died, it would not have been the most opportune time in the few months before her death to discuss this with her because she was already in declining health. Ideally, it should have happened a few years earlier when she was well. That, of course, did not happen.

 So, what can we do?

Be armed with facts. Know about palliative care. PEI can be very proud of our palliative care services. Palliative care can be provided at home, in a hospital setting, or at a palliative care facility such as our Provincial Palliative Care Centre  in Charlottetown. Receiving palliative care in a facility does not mean you can’t go home again. Sometimes, it is simply a time for pain control and once regulated, the person goes back home. Another common misconception is that palliative care is only for cancer patients. That is not true. Palliative care can be for any life-limiting illness.

 Most importantly, have a health care directive that states your wishes in clear, unemotional language that clearly states that you do not want doctor-assisted suicide or euthanasia, leaving out emotional language such as “pain and suffering”. It’s hard to believe that we have come to this point in our country, but that is the reality we are living with. Let your doctor and your family or other support system know what is in your health-care directive and where it is.

 So, what are you waiting for? What I should be saying is, “What am I waiting for?”, as my papers are still sitting at home waiting to be filled out.

 Thank you.

Pat Wiedemer, Executive Director PEI RTL calls for a Culture of Life 

A Year in Review - Be Pro-life, Be Pro-Hope!

A Word from the Executive Director, Pat Wiedemer

2017-2018 has been a year like many other years. We got up, we went about our business, we fed the dog and watered the lawn, or in our case, shoveled the driveway! Yet again, it was a year like no other year. New jobs were accepted, people moved away, and new friends were made and we all grew a little older and, hopefully, wiser. New babies were born, and we said good bye to loved ones.  In the case of a new baby or the death of a loved one, the world was completely changed. It will never be the same again after such an event. We readily acknowledge the emotional upheaval in the life of someone who experiences the death of a loved one, particularly so when it was someone who died unexpectedly. It is indeed a crisis. Families come together, friends offer support and society has groups and ways to help those mourning to adjust to the new circumstances. Who would deny care to such a family in need?

 I ask you then, if the death of a loved one moves us to such care, why does not the announcement of new life move us to the same lengths? Should we not immediately understand that the beginning of new life is the precondition, or “lynchpin of meaning” for the death of that very same loved one later in life? It is because of the inherent and inviolable meaning of life that we can say that death has such importance to us.  Because we loved someone does the death of that person has such intrinsic and personal meaning. The human heart knows that life has meaning. Because we live, we love. And, when love or life is violated we must speak out. This is why we are here today, why we are pro-life, why we uphold the dignity of every human person from fertilization until natural death.  

 In the past year we have had some upsetting events. Upsetting because of what the act itself was and upsetting because of what it means for us as a society. The first I will speak of is that in January of 2018 we marked the first year of the Prince County Hospital Women’s Wellness Center performing abortions in Summerside. Here there were 143 surgical abortions performed. 32 further off-Island abortions and 20 medical abortions. 195 children of PEI Residents died because their mothers felt they has no choice but to seek the death of their child. This is why you have a balloon in your hand today. We wish to commemorate those children lost to abortion. The pink and blue balloons with the number 195 are for each and every one of those children.

 The next upsetting event I need to point out is the fact that since its legalization there have been over 2000 deaths by euthanasia in Canada. Our president, Barbara MacFarlane just spoke on this tragic circumstance. The release of the film FatalFlaws this May by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will detail many of these very sad stories. Six of these deaths were on PEI.

 Our civilization is also suffering what we call the opioid crisis. In Canada about 3000 drug addicts have died of an overdose and/or of drugs laced with fentanyl since 2016. In PEI we have had four deaths in this year from Jan-March alone. These are young people in the prime of their lives who should be starting careers, families and wanting to change the world for good.

 Lastly, there have been over 1500 organizations rejected for federal funding for their summer interns because the employers did not “check the box”. The criteria for the funding this year was arbitrarily coupled with the forced acceptance of abortion and LGBT agenda as an alleged Charter right. There is no such right in the Canadian Charter. This stipulation is flat out wrong and a coercive action on part of the government to force a lie to become a truth. A lie remains a lie no matter how long we speak it. Checking the box placed these organizations not only in a serious ethical crisis but also mandated that no Canadian, who dares to hold a different opinion than the present government, will be eligible for receiving the benefits of the taxes he/she has dutifully paid.  This is an action against freedom of speech, thought and religion and will result in untold lost opportunities for young people to acquire job experience and an even greater loss for those children and communities these summer interns would have served in camps, work projects and community service.

 The deaths of the preborn, the deaths of the aged and suffering, the deaths of the lost and forsaken, the death of truth in our society are not causes of a disease. They are symptoms. These and many other such atrocities are symptoms of our failure to love. Our society suffers the disease of selfish individualism and callousness to our neighbor. The woman in crisis feels alone, abandoned and perhaps violated, the sick and suffering are fearful of being a burden, he or she does not understand their individual worth and dignity far outweighs any inconvenience of the caregivers, the lost and forsaken drug addict is hope -less, they are without hope, they do not see beyond the moment and cannot envision a future.

 Do you realize that the ability to envision a future is a defining characteristic of the human person? When we lose hope, which is the ability to see beyond one’s own self, to see a future or to know and trust that love can conquer all, - when we lose the ability or will to love-  we fall to the level of the animalistic. Animals only see the here and now but not a future. This is not the proper place of mankind!  A woman in crisis cannot envision a future of when she and her child in the womb will be happy and thriving. Those so afflicted do not see a future of happiness or cannot muster the strength to endure. They cannot understand that the endurance of and overcoming of suffering dignifies the human person above and beyond. It is however this very witness of strength of the human person to endure that sets us above the animals.

 Ladies and gentlemen, last week the world was held rapt by the Royal Wedding and in particular, by the sermon given by the Episcopalian Bishop Curry.  This was because what he said resonated in all human hearts. He spoke of love; that love is a fire that spreads and enlivens all relationships, most keenly between man and woman, child and parent, self and neighbor, mankind and God. We must live like we know we are worth loving! I am and you are. We are always worth love; most especially those in crisis.

 These symptoms our society suffers are symptoms of a lack of love. A culture of death is spreading its poison.  Let us be different.  Let us love one another. Let us love the mother and the baby, let us love the young person in trouble, let us love the sick and aged. This is what pro-life means. Until they can on their own, we need to provide that vision of their future. We must love and support and be that hope for the one who is in crisis. Let us restore in them a vision of the future for good. And, as Canadians let us stand up for the right to live in love and speak the truth of love. We cannot accept that anyone force us to accept death in a world that was meant for love.

 As we move forward to another year in life, I ask that you take this task upon you. We were made for love by love, we are all deserving of love because we are human. We are capable of living this love. Rise to your dignity and love one another, be pro-life, be pro-love, be the hope.