Pro-Life In The Trenches.

November 21, 2013 by MallorySeverson  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, pro-life

In college, a group of students and I would pray outside an abortion clinic early Saturday mornings.  After several weeks of praying outside on my knees in the cold, I had an itch to do more, so I trained to be a sidewalk counselor to try and convince women, between the distance of the parking lot and the door of the clinic, to turn around.

My first morning as a counselor, a car parked in front of me, and a woman got out and began walking toward the clinic. The moment I got close enough to talk to her, a Pro-Choice Escort put herself between the two of us. I kept walking as closely as I could, trying to speak to the girl, but every sound I made was drowned out by the heckling of the escort trying to block my access to the girl.

Right outside the clinic door, the girl stopped and looked at me.

“Please. Come talk to me?,” I asked her.

“What do you want to tell me?” She answered. She looked kind. She looked like she could have been one of my friends.

Hearing my words escape without protest, a Pro-Choice Escort immediately stepped in front of me, so close that I could feel her breath. She carried a gun, and was a head taller than me. I was scared, and my words choked, as I tried to dodge the escort to get another view of the woman who was still  looking at me.

“What do you want to tell me?” She asked again.

“Please don’t go in! Please come and talk to me!” And with that, the doors of the locked and barred clinic were opened, and the girl went inside.

I never went back to the abortion clinic.

Ten years later, with a family of my own, I don’t live anywhere near an abortion clinic. I’m busy with my house and kids, and while I’m pro-life, it is easy for me to think that because I’m off the front lines, that my stance on life issues labels me “Pro-Life In Name Only.”

Am I a PLINO?

It’s not a difficult conclusion to make, if you think that to be pro-life means only to lobby, protest, and counsel women.

But maybe you’re like me and have a young family, or are a busy college student trying to keep your grades up and prepare for a career. You might not know anyone who’s had an abortion, considered an abortion, or live near any abortion facilities. Are you a PLINO then, too?

You don’t have to be.

There is a quote by Mother Teresa that says, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

That I can do. That you can do.

You can be Pro-Life away from the front lines, too. I call it being Pro-Life in the trenches.

Being in trenches isn’t necessarily easier than on the frontlines. These might be women and families  in your own community that you live next to, work with, or see at your child’s school. The intimacy can make it more challenging, and can blur the lines of what is appropriately Pro-Life.

In the trenches,  the lines of what is Pro-Life and what is not, is not about what you do, but equally what you don’t do.

It is not Pro-Life to ask if a pregnancy is planned, if a woman can afford a  baby (or another baby), or to press her to tell you what she’s going to “do” about it.

It is not Pro-Life to ask if this baby is going to be the last, or how many more a woman is planning on having.

It is not Pro-Life to comment on a woman’s weight during pregnancy, the size of her growing belly, or to act surprised that a woman’s due date seems further away than you expected.

It is not Pro-Life to brush off  a pregnant woman’s complaints because you think that you, or someone else, had it worse.

It is not Pro-Life to stop congratulating a woman after she’s had more children than you find worthy of congratulation. Every new life deserves excitement.

On the flip side:

It is Pro-Life to smile at a pregnant woman to show your support and understanding.

It is Pro-Life to congratulate a pregnant woman on a pregnancy and birth no matter what.

It is Pro-Life to compliment a pregnant woman on how great she looks, to take joy in her growing form. She needs this.

It is Pro-Life to donate your unused diapers, bedding, clothing, and baby equipment, either to a pregnancy resource center available in most communities, or to anyone who might benefit from your unwanted things.

It is Pro-Life to watch a pregnant or new mother’s other children to give her time for rest and recovery.

It is Pro-Life to vacuum a pregnant or new mother’s floors and do the dishes, change the bedding, carpool her other children to activities, weed her garden, and drop off groceries.

Anything and everything will be appreciated. You can be Pro-Life in your community by showing support, love, and encouragement to pregnant women and new mothers in all things. Always.

And when we do this, when we show woman the kindness and respect their bodies, babies, and children deserve, little by little a culture of life can be transformed from the inside out.

We can do small things. We can support and love woman when they need it most. Let’s all do what we can in the trenches, and when it’s no longer necessary, retreat from the frontlines and remember the war that was fought on the battleground of  the heart.

 

 

 

NaPro Technology: Hope For Women Struggling With Infertility

August 26, 2013 by Rebecca  
Filed under Fertility, Latest Thoughts, pro-life, Uncategorized

A woman’s fertility is a sacred thing- something about the ability to create and grow another human being makes us feel empowered, and is often viewed as the height of femininity.  But many women often end up facing struggles with their own fertility, making them feel like less of a woman, though in actuality it does not mean any such thing.  It can be devastating, regardless. There are many reasons why a woman might not be able to conceive.  Sometimes it is the husband, but often it is an underlying health problem within the woman’s own body.

In 1978, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was introduced in Europe as the newest way of achieving pregnancy, reaching the US by 1981, and since then has grown to be a popular form of achieving pregnancy for infertile couples.  The problem with IVF is that it bypasses any searching out of underlying causes.   Up until 1978, much of the science related to fertility care was directed at researching and addressing underlying causes that correlated to infertility.  But IVF created a shift in the focus of infertility and the approach that was once based on diagnosis and treatment became one based on the quickest possible fix.

Because IVF is such a popular choice in the world of infertility, it can be a daunting experience when a woman finds herself desiring a different route.  My sister, Kate, is one such person.  With the loss of one baby and one ovary, and with one successful natural pregnancy, problems with endometriosis and several surgeries under her belt, she faced a long six years of infertility after her son was born.  Faced with the disappointment month after month, year after year of not becoming pregnant as she desperately wanted to, she began to doubt she would ever have another child.  Unaware of the specific reasons behind her inability to become pregnant, she and her husband became hopeless.   More than wanting to achieve pregnancy, they wanted to know the cause of her inability to do so, but found their options in finding a doctor with an open mind to be few.

Like Kate, many women- when approaching the fragile topic of infertility with their doctors- are often met with indifference to their emotional struggle and are made to feel as though they are just another number; another consumer paying money for a product.  The fact that IVF is so popular plays a huge factor in the confusion and lack of understanding on the part of the doctor when a woman does not want to choose that route.  But women have good reason to feel insecure with the process of IVF as it has many pitfalls to it.  Not only does it not address underlying health issues that could be the cause of their infertility, it also presents many risks to the woman, it’s very costly (average cost per cycle is around $12,000 or more), the success rate is mostly less than 40%, it does not respect the marital relationship nor does it respect the life of the baby or babies produced when doctors join the eggs and sperm in a laboratory.  Added to all of that, many couples admit to a decrease in the quality of both their sex life and their relationship when choosing IVF as an option to conceive.

Many couples are completely unaware of a fast-growing technology for achieving pregnancy called NaPro Technology.  This innovative technology is an approach to fertility that adheres to the guidelines provided by a woman’s natural cycles.  The Creighton Model of fertility care is the foundation for this approach, monitoring the bio-markers which showcase hormonal changes in a woman’s cycle.   Coupled with natural supplements, and sometimes laparoscopic surgery, NaPro Technology has a very high success rate when used to achieve pregnancy.  Because NaPro is a fertility-care based approach and not just a fertility-control approach, many women who achieve pregnancy through this method may find it to be less stressful, more inclusive and a better option overall in catering to the needs of their entire person- mind, body and soul.

The Science behind NaPro has been developing since the Creighton Model was first being studied, over 30 years ago.  Because a woman’s body has specific tendencies and symptoms at each stage of her cycle which can be monitored by following this model, it is often easy to detect and diagnose an underlying problem by noticing a variance in the patterns of these symptoms.  If nothing seems out of the ordinary, there are several other steps to take to help a woman determine the cause of her infertility. Kate, whom I mentioned above, spent an entire summer learning how to read her body’s signs and symptoms based on Creighton, and began recording her findings on charts.  Her doctor read her charts and was able to determine that her body was actually doing what it should, suggesting they next test the actual levels of her hormones.  Kate, filled with anxiety and still not pregnant, wanted to find out if her hormonal levels were the culprit so she went every other day to get blood drawn.  When test results came back “normal” again and as she discussed pain and other symptoms she was experiencing in each cycle, her doctor suggested surgery as the next step, offering that many women became pregnant within six months of surgery.

Kate underwent surgery, finding out afterward that not only did she have endometriosis and scar tissue but that her tubes had blockages in them.  Early one morning about two months later, Kate woke up and took a pregnancy test.  She had taken them many, many times before over the previous six years.  This one, however, did not read negative as all the others had.  This one was different.  Over the next few days, several more tests including a blood test reconfirmed what those double lines told her that morning, and Kate was thrilled to announce to our family that she was finally expecting!  Thanks to the attention to her whole body through her doctors and NaPro Technology, she achieved her heart’s desire to have another baby.

It remains to be said that not all women will achieve pregnancy through NaPro, or any other means of aid.  I’d like to reiterate that this is NOT to say that any woman who cannot conceive is any less of a woman.  A woman is not just a woman because of the abilities of her reproductive parts, and not all women are called to be mothers to their own biological children.  It is the innate care and nurturing with which women are created that define their femininity.  The very idea that we wish to conceive a child, nurturing one throughout every moment of their existence, is just a small aspect of that.  If you are struggling with infertility or know someone who is, I recommend researching NaPro as an option.  You may just find the answers you are looking for.

 

To read the story of Kate’s infertility journey, click here.

 

Sources:

http://www.naprotechnology.com/

http://www.catholicinfertility.org/naprotechnology.html

http://www.fertilitycare.org/

 

Can Pro-Life Groups Work Together…A Year Later

June 20, 2013 by lauraricketts  
Filed under Collaboration, Latest Thoughts, pro-life

Last July our blog featured a post titled Can Pro-Life Groups Work Together? An excerpt:

I really don’t want to come across as mean-spirited towards some of the most passionate and (usually) loving people you’ll ever meet, but over these past five years I’ve witnessed disheartening and unnecessary passive aggressive conflict on a level of which I could not even have previously imagined possible in this movement! I’m guessing this is not something you usually see unless you dare to ask separate groups to consider working together in close proximity. When that happens, the gloves come off, let me tell you! …. It surprises me because theoretically it seems that there should not be this sort of conflict in a movement dedicated to non-violence, love, and acceptance of one another. It seems like we should be professional enough to handle our disagreements with integrity and open communication. Instead what I have witnessed has been a proverbial “Crabs in a Bucket”. It’s no wonder there’s paranoia in this movement.

So is it possible for pro-life groups to work together? How do we go about bridging the gaps that seem to somehow keep the pro-life movement from being united?

This last week it seems as though we need to be asking these questions all over again.  Just this week we saw the passage of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 1797, in the House of Representatives.  This caused a flurry of activity on the part of Pro-Life Advocates.  As the legislation was amended and tweaked, changed and “watered down.”  This caused consternation on the part of Pro-Life groups.  It also sparked some very ugly infighting.  So once again we feel compelled to ask, “Can Pro-Life Groups Work Together?”  When push comes to shove it seems that the fist response of those within the pro-life activism world to any sort of pressure or differing opinion is to circle the wagons, protect what is theirs, and guard both donors and supporters jealously.  This sort of attitude breeds bad blood between organizations and individuals that SHOULD be on the same side! Aren’t we all working towards the same goal?  Aren’t we all supposed to be concentrating on bringing about a Culture of Life? How can that be accomplished when we are sidetracked by bickering, in-fighting, and a tug-of-war mentality?  ”A House divided cannot stand.”  Those were wise words, and they apply to the Pro-Life Movement today.

Of course, it is easy to sit here and sing a verse of “Why Can’t we all Just Get Along” but we at Guiding Star actually have a solution.  Its part of who we are.  The whole idea behind a Guiding Star Center is based on collaboration between Pro-life and Pro-woman organizations, pooling resources, fundraising together, reducing the cost of overhead by sharing space within the Guiding Star Center, encouraging and supporting one another, instead of competing with one another for the same resources and donor base.  We have seen amazing results when, for example, our Duluth Affiliate collaborated and worked together with – not against the other Pro-Life and Pro-woman organizations in their area.  In fact, there was so much success from their latest joint fundraiser that one of the organizations received enough money to cover their yearly operating budget and then-some!  There is something to be said for putting aside what we perceive as differences and focusing on the goal: A Culture of Life.

As we continue on our quest towards a Culture of Life we remind ourselves that we are an unique movement.  We are actively working to “put ourselves out of business,” working towards the day when children will be safe in the womb, and women and their bodies will be respected and honored, and fatherhood a badge of dignity.  We are working for the day when Planned Parenthood will be out of business and Guiding Star Centers will be the new norm for “Women’s Health and Family Care.”  Until that day comes we at the Guiding Star Project are going to continue encouraging collaboration.  Setting aside the differences we have, and concentrating on the prize – because we truly believe that Together we CAN ”Light the Way to a Culture of Life. ”

 

 

A Disappearing Future

Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone…

“Puo”.  The elderly woman stands up from her seat as I enter the crowded bus.  ”No. No. Ecco.” A younger woman gets up from next to her and allows the elderly woman to remain seated.  I am 7 months pregnant, and accept the offer of the seat.  Keeping one’s balance on a crowded Italian bus is tough on any given day, even more so when you are great with child.  The old woman briefly places her hand on my stomach and smiles.  I smile back.  I’m not one to be bothered by strangers touching my belly and I’ve become accustom to this sort of treatment by the Italians.  It was the attention I craved and never received while pregnant with my first child here in the States.  I would show up at a crowded Mass only to stand on my feet for an hour.  My pregnant belly was rarely acknowledged.   I was not looking for hand outs and I’m not pulling an entitlement card here, but it seems like common courtesy to let a pregnant woman have your seat.
Public transportation is the norm in Europe, so it just might be the unwritten rule that one gives up their seat to an elderly or handicapped person or a pregnant woman.  But it wasn’t just the bus where I received preferential treatment.  I constantly had strangers patting my stomach.  I was offered seats in restaurants, to cut in line at the grocery store, brought right to the front of security at the airport.   It wasn’t 100 percent of the time, but enough to notice.  Is it just that Americans have no manners, or is something else going on here?
Seeing a pregnant woman in Italy was a rare occurrence.  Living there for a year, I can count the number of them that I saw, on one hand.  Being pregnant seems to raise you to celebrity status.  A sighting causes excitement.
Despite it’s deep Roman Catholic roots, the use of contraceptives in Italy is great, making it one of the most infertile countries in the industrialized world.  Women choose not to be wives and mothers; choosing instead to pursue only a career.  Many couples have moved to the city, where children are seen as an inconvenience rather than a blessing.  But treating the random pregnant women with the respect they do, makes me wonder if deep down they actually crave the presence of children.
Maybe, it’s not because we Americans are as ill mannered as I thought.  Perhaps, we are spoiled (for now) by the pregnant women that we do have. The birthrate in America is dropping below the “replacement rate” and I wonder if in the not too distant future, we too will be craving the presence of children and pregnant women.  Let’s open our eyes and see our children as blessings.  Because in so many ways, we cannot have a future without having children.

Our Alex

May 3, 2013 by amandawagner  
Filed under Fertility, Latest Thoughts, pro-life, Uncategorized

When I was in my second year of teaching, I had a co-worker come up to me in the hallway and inform me that she had had a dream that I was pregnant, that she was “usually pretty good about knowing these things,” and that I should probably take a test.  I laughed, and told her that I actually was on day 32 or something of my cycle, which was usually a solid 28 days.  Her face lit up, and she asked what on earth I was waiting for.  Laughing again, I said it honestly hadn’t occurred to me, having only been married and doing NFP for three months, coupled with a busy beginning of the school year.  Of course, I stopped by Target that very day and picked up a pregnancy test, which, to my shock, was positive.  Despite our charting and having a pretty good grasp on what we were doing (read: there are no “taking chances” with NFP!), my husband was even more shocked.  It was as though we were surprised that it had really worked.

After the initial shock had worn off, we were of course delighted and eagerly looked forward to my 12-week appointment, when we would get to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time.  My husband had just started a new job and wasn’t able to come with to that initial appointment.  We weren’t overly concerned, knowing he’d be able to come to future ones and obviously, the 20-week ultrasound.  So, on December 4th, I headed to the doctor’s office alone after school.  After a few minutes of attempting to find the heartbeat, my doctor said they weren’t able to find it, and they were going to send me to the hospital by my house to have an ultrasound.  In my naivety, I was delighted at the idea of getting an early sneak peek at our little baby.

My husband, who was home from work by this time, said he would meet me at the hospital.  As the ultrasound tech ran the wand over my belly, we noticed a tiny little baby on the screen.  She shut off the machine, told us our doctor would call us momentarily, and started to leave the room.  For the first time, it occurred to me that something might be wrong.  I asked her if there was indeed anything wrong with our sweet little baby, but she only repeated that she would be right back with our doctor on the line.  Moments later, our doctor explained that the baby had stopped growing between eight and ten weeks and that there was no heartbeat.  He went on to explain that I would likely miscarry naturally within the next week but to call the clinic if I didn’t.  I can remember thinking he may as well have been speaking Russian- nothing he was saying made sense, and I was so dumbstruck I could hardly reply.  As I hung up, the tech teared up and expressed how sorry she was for our loss.  We made it as far as the hallway before the reality of what my doctor had said started to hit home.  By the time we made it to our cars, I was inconsolable and near hysterical.  We left one of our cars there for our friend to pick up later and headed home to grieve our sweet little one.

The week that followed was one of the longest of my life; telling people that we had lost the baby and worrying that we might not ever be able to have kids.  My doctor assured us that it was not uncommon for a woman to lose her first baby, but we still wondered.  I returned to school a few days later, which turned out to be incredibly therapeutic.  Kids have a way of knowing just what to say or not to say, and my fifth graders were the most helpful during this time.  I was also utterly amazed at the number of people who approached me or wrote cards with condolences, telling me that they too had lost a baby, often their first.  Being one of the first in my circle of friends to start having kids, the very concept of miscarriage had honestly never even crossed my mind, let alone the idea that I myself might experience one.  It was so reassuring to hear from so many people their own stories of loss.  And equally as touching were the people who told us that they didn’t know what to say to express how sorry they were, but that they were praying for us.

Through prayer, we named our little one Aloysius John, and refer to him as Alex.  We were able to bury him in a special area of our church’s cemetery for miscarried babies in a beautiful ceremony with our family priest, my parents, brother and future sister-in-law, and my grandmother, which was also a very healing experience.

Within two months, we were pregnant with our daughter, Mary, and today are days away from having our fourth child.  However, it never ceases to amaze me how present Alex is in our family.  Our kids all know about their brother, and we speak of him regularly, often bringing flowers to his gravesite.  My husband and I have often commented that when we’re gathering up the kids or even just watching them play, we notice that someone is missing.  His absence is tangible, and there isn’t a day that goes by without thinking of him.

Not coincidentally, the class I had that year was one of my favorites, and I know that their experiencing our loss with me added to the bond I had with them.  It is always my hope that as they go through life, they’ll remember not only their fifth grade teacher, but also her sweet little boy, Alex.  It is my hope that his life, which has impacted so many people despite its brevity, will remind them of just how precious life is.

Accepting Help

March 26, 2013 by amandawagner  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, pro-life

As a high-energy, type-A, go-getter who comes from a family of high-energy, type-A go-getters, I have always struggled with pride and perfectionism.  Pride in the fact that I am (under normal circumstances) able to accomplish a million things in a day and perfectionism in that they will generally be done correctly and in a very particular manner.  And then I got married and started having kids- four in five years, to be exact.  You can imagine how well my perfectionism has handled this!

Our first-born was (in hindsight) an incredibly easy baby, and about four months in, we were back into a routine and for the most part thriving.  For the most part, our dog-hair-covered floors were vacuumed at least three times a week, if not daily, (who DOES that?) well-rounded meals were on the table when my husband walked in the door from work, and life really had not been disrupted much by our bubbly little chunk of happiness.  So “easy” did we find our new roles as parents that a year and a half later, her brother arrived in all his glory- undiagnosed milk allergy, literally continual ear-infections, and non-stop hysteria for about ten months.  Vacuuming?  Ha!  Survival was the new name of the game, and my poor sweet husband was lucky if there was food in the house to scrounge up a dinner most nights.  Looking back, I can see how much I really struggled with the two-kid scene.  Most days I had a healthy serving of humble pie arriving seemingly hourly.  Post partum depression that at the time seemed not bad enough to treat added to the mix.  However, upon getting tubes in his ears at 10 months and figuring out the milk allergy, he became an incredibly happy (albeit non-stop) baby, and we realized that it might someday be okay to have more kids.

So, here we are, about a month away from adding our fourth.  With each pregnancy, it has always surprised me that I haven’t been able to keep going at my normal pace, despite that fact that I’m growing a human being. This pregnancy has been more physically difficult than my previous ones, both due to chasing three other rascals around all day and a few medical concerns.  My usual get-it-done mode of operation has ground to a humbling halt over the last couple of months, due to a few factors besides the pregnancy, including a broken dishwasher (how DID our ancestors do it?!), stir-crazy-cabin-fever-stricken kids, including a resident three-year-old bound and determined to get me to heaven, and a husband trying to finish a grueling last semester of grad school in one piece.  I have had to learn to live among the mess, and to realize that the dishes truly will always be there, just like everyone says, because we are literally unable to get to it some days.

Shortly after our third child was born, I read the Duggars’ book A Love that Multiplies.  As I read Michelle’s account of how she was drowning in the laundry produced by two adults and five children under five, I found myself tearing up in empathy- no doubt hormonal-induced empathy, but empathy nonetheless.  Her story went on to recount a night when, while doing laundry in the middle of the night in a vain attempt to keep up, she cried out in anguish to God that she just couldn’t do it anymore and needed help.  The very next day, her kids’ piano teacher, I believe it was, noticed how tired she looked and asked if she was okay.  As Michelle explained her middle-of-the-night laundry habits, the woman lit up and announced, “I love laundry!  Would you like me to come help out with it a few times a week?”  For the next couple of years, this woman came and spent a few days a week doing the family’s laundry.  I can remember being so touched by this story and hoping that when I someday emerged from the trenches of raising littles that there would be a young mom in my life whom I would be able to bless with a simple yet potentially life-changing service.

Fast forward a little over a year to our current state of zoo-like living.  Our home school co-op began our spring semester after a six-week break.  This is our second year in the co-op, and my first year teaching fifth grade, which I love.  At the end of the class, my classroom monitor, whom I recently learned lives literally around the corner from us, casually mentioned that if I ever needed any help with anything- kids, house, or otherwise, she has a fifteen-year-old daughter who loves adult interaction, cooking, cleaning, and kids.  You can imagine it was all I could do not to cue the hysterical sobs of gratefulness.  As it was, I had a hard time conveying my gratefulness without coming off like a lunatic.

After calling my husband on the way home to gleefully relay this miraculous turn of events to him, it suddenly hit me that although I have always loved the idea of someone coming to help out with a, b, and c, my pride has always prevented that idea from becoming a reality.  Not that I’ve had dozens of wonderful home schooled teenagers beating down my door to help, but I know that had I expressed a need for help, there are many people in my life who would have been more than happy to help.

I began to ponder why this was so.  The obvious reason was my pride.  I take great pride in running a generally efficient household and raising our kids because it is my job. I don’t work outside of our house, and thus I view the day-to-day affairs as not only my career, but also my vocation.  It’s what I’m supposed to do.  So to ask someone to do part of my job for me, no matter how small that part may be, makes me feel lazy and unproductive, despite knowing that no one can “do it all” alone.

Even the day before this sweet girl came over for a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon, I wondered if we would be able to “justify” her coming over because I still truly felt like we should be able to function on our own.  I was absolutely FLOORED at the difference two hours of help made.  In that small time frame, my kids played game after game while my husband wrote a paper, we cleaned our catch-all bedroom, I made dinner for a guest we were having over that night, and even had time to get the dishes done before he arrived.  The kids thought it was fantastic, and we were amazed at what a difference starting the week a bit caught up made.  To say we have been humbled by the generosity of this sweet girl and her mother (who volunteered to watch my kids on her day off so I could go to my doctor’s appointments sans the crew) is an understatement.  While I have always loved making a meal for a new mother, volunteering at our church, etc., it has been overwhelming (in a good way) to be on the receiving end.  It has made me realize that no one was ever meant to survive this crazy journey of motherhood alone.  What a difference being willing to admit that I can use a little help sometimes has made!

 

 

 

Expectations

March 22, 2013 by katiemurry  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, pro-life, Uncategorized

In October 2005, my husband and I went to the doctor to see our very first baby for the very first time.  It was a routine 20 week ultrasound and we were so excited to catch a glimpse of the little person who was growing inside of me.  We watched the screen closely, not knowing exactly what the technician was measuring, but not really caring.   That was our baby and to us she looked perfect.

When the ultrasound was over, we were beaming.  The technician had captured the most perfect little profile picure of the for us to show to the world.  But, as the picture was printing, she looked at us and said “There is something wrong with this baby.” I was in shock.  What do you mean there is something wrong?  Didn’t I just see a perfect little baby right there on the screen?   Our excitement for this new little person was now overshadowed by fear.

We were brought into a room for a consultation with the doctor.  He had reviewed the ultrasound and confirmed that yes, there was something wrong with our baby.   He calmly explained that we would need to see a specialist.  He didn’t have many answers for our questions because he admittedly didn’t know much about it.  It was a rare condition, one that the hospital we were at was not equipped to handle.  Before we left he said,  “Life is about expectations and you were not expecting this. But still, your baby looks beautiful.”

In the next month, we met with a specialist.  We had settled down from the shock and we were ready to meet the doctor who was going to save our baby.  He spoke with us in detail about our child’s condition and what would happen in the coming months.  And then BAM! It came.  “Do you want to terminate the pregnancy?”  I felt sick.  I had not expected this.  I was supposed to put all my confidence in this doctor.  He was supposed to save my child but yet he did not care if I wanted to kill her.  Did he not just say this was a treatable condition?  Is there something he was not telling us?

We told the doctor that we were going to continue the pregnancy.  And even with a rocky start, everything turned out wonderfully in the end.  We gave birth to a beautiful little girl who needed surgery and a little extra time in the hospital.  Looking back, there are a few things I would like for my doctor, and all doctors in his same position to know.

Dear Doctor,

I have been told there is something wrong with my baby.  Receiving this sort of news is scary.  The fear of the unknown is intense.   I’m sure this isn’t easy news for you to relay but, please, don’t make it worse by scaring me and asking me if I want to terminate the pregnancy.

Please tell me what you know.  I would like to receive accurate information because I really do not know too much about the condition.    Many conditions which were once inoperable, can easily be fixed today and not all defects even require a surgery. Assume that I do not know this.  Give me a little hope.

Please offer me a little bit of support.  I understand that you have a lot of patients and you may not be available to hold my hand the entire way, but do tell me that someone will.  There are numerous groups out there willing to offer support to women and  families who find out their child will have a birth defect or a genetic disorder.  Please let this be known.

Allow me to trust you.  Help me know that even if the diagnosis is grim, you will do everything you can to try and save my baby.   Once again, do not ask me if I want to terminate the pregnancy.   How can I trust you to save my child if it seems as if you do not care whether the child lives or dies. Life is about expectations.   And while life doesn’t always live up to those, I hope that you will by doing everything you possibly can for this baby.

Sincerely,

A Mother who has been there

Checkmate on Choice

March 7, 2013 by Leah  
Filed under Collaboration, HHS Mandate, Latest Thoughts, pro-life

If you will, think for a moment about all the controversy and disagreement on the issue of abortion as if it were playing out on a huge chess board.  Imagine the opposing sides facing off in a battle to win the decisions of women about what to do in instances of pregnancy; pro-choice and abortion on one side, pro-life and birth on the other. Each move of the pieces shows the pro-choicers trying to turn women towards freedom from pregnancy and fertility in preference for everything else, and on the other side the pro-lifers trying to sway women towards acceptance of life and their bodies natural functions before everything else. The desired outcomes for women are opposites, yet each side is assigned pieces or players that are similar.

In the pro-choice and pro-life movements there are many players on each side.  Just like in chess some players are more powerful or useful in their ability to actualize the end goal of their team. The goal of chess is to capture the King. In real life, the goal is to capture women’s attention and popular opinion. The pieces may change in value as the game progresses and based upon the circumstances of the board positioning, but all of the chessmen are important and play some vital role in the success of their team.

Now of course no analogy is perfect, so bear with me a little bit and follow this through to see if you agree with my final premise.

In our real world “game” we first have the pawns, or the donors and volunteers to each side of the abortion debate. Pawns are like the regular people all around us who might write a check to an organization, yet still go about daily life just like everyone else. There are more pawns than any other piece in chess (eight) and often they are the first to exit the game as they make the first moves. The donors and volunteers are the easiest to fall out of these movements and much like the chess pieces, their range of motion/effect is rather small compared to the other pieces. However, just as donor money and volunteer time establishes the centers on both sides of the abortion issue pawns can change the entire direction of a game by staying in it long enough to score the win. A pawn that is able to reach the opposing side of the board can be promoted into any other piece, resulting in more powerful pieces for one team. A dedicated volunteer or a generous donor can have far-reaching effects.

Then there are the two knights, or in our larger “game” the clinic escorts and the sidewalk counselors. Both are facing off heroically in a battle for the women at the precipice of their decision.   Both in chess and in our real life “game” they are restricted in their movement to awkward patterns (governed by right-of-way and Clinic Entrance laws in most real life instances) and can only strike when the exact right opportunity arises. Their armor consists of clinic escort vests for the pro-choice team and homemade signs and pamphlets for the pro-lifers.

The bishops are pieces that are easy to see the real-world counterpart for; obviously our clergy.  There are two bishops for each team on the chess board. Each side of the abortion issue has clergy lining up to back their position. Pro-choicers have the Episcopals, the Unitarian Universalists and some more liberal Christian churches, while pro-lifers generally have the Catholics, Muslims, and Jewish faiths.  The chessmen bishops can move any number of vacant squares in a diagonal direction, which means they never leave their assigned color. Much like how we see the real-world bishops preaching within the square walls of their own churches, not often infiltrating into the public discourse outside their own color. They can move far which makes them very powerful, but can only make a strike if someone wanders into their space.

Next come the two rooks, or the abortion clinic workers and pregnancy resource and care centers workers.  Rooks are a valuable piece as they are able to move any number of vacant squares forward, backward, left or right. Our clinic and center workers are valuable in this way too as they also can reach far across the board with their messages through utilizing media, fundraising campaigns, and direct contact with women.  Rooks are more valuable because of their ability to be more places on the board. They live regular lives and interact in churches, schools, with friends and family.  Their experiences with a wide range of people make them a powerful tool. An interesting note on the rooks is that when they are protecting each other and working together they are particularly powerful pieces.

The Queen is widely regarded as the most powerful of all the chess pieces on the board. There is only one Queen on each team. Her range of motion is unmatched by another piece as she can move any number of vacant squares in any direction forwards, backwards, left, right, or diagonally. She is the greatest barrier to the opposition achieving their goal. She is the greatest threat to both teams winning the hearts and minds of women. She protects her own King piece as she also goes out and risks herself in pursuit of the opposition’s King piece.

Remember, the King is the end object for both teams. Capturing the King means access to abortions for the pro-choice team and for the pro-life side support for birth. In chess Kings can only move one square at a time. So while they can help a little bit by avoiding a possible attack they are pretty vulnerable to attacks by multiple pieces working together and are relentlessly pursued by all. Just like real women facing the abortion question.

So who are the “Queens” or the  most powerful players in our movements?

For the pro-choice team the Queen piece is clearly the abortionist, the only person capable of executing the hard fought for right to terminate a pregnancy. They move from clinic to clinic as circuit riders and are all over the board speaking with the authority that their medical degree and experience affords them.

For the pro-life side this question has not been asked, or perhaps just not answered nearly enough. Many people in the pro-life movement would have a difficult time articulating who in their own movement has the greatest ability to bring about the immediate end goal of beautiful, loving births.

Many might say the players who have switched teams mid-game are the most valuable as they can attest to the horrors of their former team, share opposing strategy, and buoy the spirits of their new team onward. While this is a very valuable gain that could possibly result in a win if enough of the opposition transferred to the opponent’s side, these pieces are still only the pieces they always were on their original team. A former abortion clinic worker may become an outspoken advocate for life, but will remain a rook on their new team too. They are valuable indeed, but no, they are not the people capable of bringing about the goal we aim for. But who is? Who is the Queen piece of the pro-life movement?

The Pro-Life Midwife or Doctor.

The Queen piece of our movement must be the people capable of bringing women through the event that has challenged them to welcome new life. Our doctors and midwives are there to joyfully catch the new child that has entered our world and are uniquely able to fulfill the goal of allowing new life to develop and blossom. They empower the mother in her decision to choose life for her child and help her on the first steps to motherhood. We must raise up and recognize those who have the most power in moving all over the board to share the truths about life and have the opportunity to work with women in their times of greatest needs.

The Queen pieces speak with authority and move with greater power than an ordinary pawn, such that a board filled with Queen pieces on one team would decimate the opposition in a few moves. This is true for the pro-choice side too. If suddenly there were hundreds more abortionists setting up clinics it would not take long to overcome the resources of the pro-life movement and abortion would appear to become an uncontested practice in our world. Pro-life doctors and midwives hold their pro-choice colleagues in line by challenging them professionally and with research as to what is best for women and families. We need as many outspokenly pro-life doctor and midwife Queen pieces as possible to capture the King, or the hearts and minds of women everywhere.

Not only must we work to honor and bring up more pro-life midwives and doctors, but we also must work to provide safe places for them to practice the type of medicine that is life-affirming and focused on the holistic whole-life view of women and families.  Many of our Queen pieces have been blocked into corners on the board by hospitals and healthcare systems that hinder their power to move and be effective. They are often required to refer for or prescribe drugs that are in opposition to their beliefs. The right for pro-life doctors and midwives to practice medicine in accordance with their conscience is being challenged today.

When this happens our strongest piece has been crippled!

We cannot allow that to continue. We need to think differently about where we ask our doctors and midwives to practice.  We must find ways to unleash their fullest potential. Why would we want to cripple their ability to serve the way we need them to by locking them into employment at restrictive places?

Abortionists practice in clinics outside of hospital and often even state oversight. They have an immense freedom to persuade and convince women in the privacy of their clinics to receive a certain type of care. Why don’t we simply follow suit?

Imagine our strong doctors and midwives free to meet the needs of their patients in private practice clinics. Imagine all the pieces of the pro-life chess team working together to create a center that truly competes with the pro-choice abortion clinic. Only when our pieces are allowed the same freedom as our opponents to aggressively pursue the goal will the game ever be a fair match.

This is exactly the premise and the goal of The Guiding Star Project. We want to make this a fair battle by creating centers that can truly compete with the abortion clinics and Planned Parenthoods.  Why should we settle for pregnancy help centers with limited medical capacity when the opposition is capable of realizing their entire goal in their facilities?  Why can’t we create centers that not only can help a women process an unexpected pregnancy, but also walk beside her through the pregnancy, delivery, and early years of raising her child? The pieces of the pro-life team currently seem to be spread across the chess board and the table and even down onto the floor. Let’s pick ourselves up and line up to face the opposition by getting onto the same board and working together as a team.

All the chessman on the board play an important role in the victory of their team. Without any one of them the battle would likely be lost. We are all called to take part in this “game” in some way. Our conscience demands of us to become a player on the board and not a passive observer. Whether we are mere pawns or powerful Queens we can trust that our gifts and talents will be used for the win if we simply give what we have and allow ourselves to be used.

When we all work together we will be able to finally declare “checkmate” on abortion.

March for Life – An Encouraging Picture

February 13, 2013 by lauraricketts  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, pro-life

The Guiding Star Project was very pleased to be able to participate in the March for Life this year.  It was a chilly and snowy day in Washington, D.C.  full of meetings and speakers and conventions and of course the March itself.  Conservative estimates said it was attended by over 500,00 people.  According to Eternal Word Television Network, which hired a private group to assess the numbers in attendance, the estimates were closer to 650,000.   What struck me was the number of young people.  Everywhere you turned there were throngs of young adults and teens joyfully standing up for life. These young people are the future and they are overwhelmingly pro-life.  They are so open to the message of New Feminism.  They “get it,” they can articulate it, and they aren’t intimidated.  For me this was perhaps the single most encouraging aspect of the March for Life.

This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision to legalize abortion.  Forty years of abortion on demand in this nation.  Forty years of lies and mis-truths about women, their bodies, and their babies.  While this is a sobering and heartbreaking reality, it was heartening to see that while it may at times seem we fight a stagnant or losing battle, we are making headway – we will bring about a culture of life!  The Guiding Star Project is prepared to play a big part in this cultural transition.  We met with pro-life leaders from across the country.  We made connections and forged new friendships.  The response was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.  ”This is just what we need!”  The vision and mission of the Guiding Star Project is exactly what is needed to propel our culture towards life.

We at Guiding Star are committed to using the New Feminist methodology to proclaim the dignity and beauty of femininity, birth, mothering, and natural law.  Women are entrusted with the human person in a unique and personal way, and so as we are unabashedly pro-life, we are also unabashedly “pro-woman.”  While we hope that this was the last March for Life that will ever be needed here in America, we are committed to stay the course and to boldly stand up for women and their children for as long as it takes – until we have reached our goal and truly Lit the way to a Culture of Life!

Fear: What They Mean When They Say Choice

January 21, 2013 by lauraricketts  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, pro-life

Fear is a powerful motivator.  Fear can lead us to act in ways that we never would have imagined.  It can prompt us to do good, but all too often it pushes us to things we will later regret.

There are certain types of people who prey on fear.  They know how to use fear to motivate and manipulate.  They also know that the antidotes to fear are understanding and Truth.  Perhaps one of the most insidious utilizers of fear-as-manipulator is the abortion lobby.  The industry survives by profiting off of fear.

Time again we hear statistics that tell us women choose abortion because they believe they have no other choice.  They are afraid.  Tell me, how can the same people who proclaim “choice” and “freedom of choice” also be the people who use fear to push their abortion agenda?  Simple.  Because when they say “Choice” they mean “abortion.”   And when they say they are “pro-choice” they really mean they are “pro-fear.”

Women have been used and abused by the abortion industry for decades now.  Yet, much like an abusive relationship, fear keeps women trapped in the abyss of “choice.”  Denying their own biology, women elect to kill their offspring, forever wounding themselves in the process, not because they are exercising some Rite of Liberation, but because they are scared and they feel they have no choice.  So I ask the members of the Abortion Lobby, NARAL in particular, What do you mean when you say Choice?

Do you mean you will speak gently and kindly to the scared woman who has come for your help?  Will you tell her about her amazing body, how she was made to create and nurture life?  Will you tell her about the life she carries?  How there are fingers and toes, a heartbeat and completely new and unique DNA?  Will you answer her questions without asking her to sign a form, a waiver, or be hurried along?  Will you explain to her the options she has that are affirming to her dignity and her beauty as a woman?  Will you love and support her and the life she is so afraid to give birth to?   Will you support her and affirm her if she chooses to NOT have an abortion?

No.  You will not.  You will instead play on her fears, feed her fears, and lead her further down a lonely path of uncertainty, pain, regret and more fear.  This isn’t “choice.”  Some would say it is coercion.  It is manipulation of the lowest kind and it is not “choice.”

Women deserve so much more than to have their fears played on.  An unplanned pregnancy can be a tremendously scary thing for a woman, teenager, or young adult to face alone.  She deserves a real choice, with real information.  She deserves to hear the truth about the way she is made, the dignity she has and the life she carries.  She deserves to be told that yes she has a choice, but that choice does not mean she must choose to kill her child.  Choice should not equal fear.  Women who find themselves contemplating abortion most often feel they have no where else to go, and no one to turn to.  They are alone and scared.  These women need to know that they are loved, that there is support, and there are people who want to help them make the difficult decisions that come along with bringing a new life into the world.  Women who experience support, love, and affirmation when facing an unplanned pregnancy overwhelmingly choose to either parent their child or work out an adoption plan.  They can lead a life free of the fear, the pain, and the regret that come with having no real choice – abortion.   Women who fall victim to the abortion “choice” lie are forever changed and forever wounded by the decision.  To make that fate even worse, their emotional stress and pain is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, or belittled by an industry and a culture that refuses to admit women suffer long after they have an abortion.

It is time the pro-abortion bandwagon stopped lying about their version of “choice” and instilling fear into women.  Its time that organizations like The Guiding Star Project step boldly forward and loudly proclaim, “Yes, you DO have a choice!  A beautiful, life affirming choice that will empower you as a woman, not wound you!”  It is time that NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW and the like stopped dealing in the business of lies and fear and instead embraced the beauty of womanhood and the unique gift of motherhood.  You and I know that day is very very far in the future.  So until it comes, we urge you to not be afraid to continue to expose the lie that is the abortion industry.  Keep speaking the Truth about femininity and womanhood to dispel the fear, and never be afraid to ask, “Just what Do You Mean by Choice?”

 


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