A Different Standard for Life

“Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God, to receive glory and honor and power. You alone created all things, and through Your will and by Your design, they exist and were created,” Revelation 4:11, The Voice.

Through God’s will and by His design, we exist. All of us. In all conditions. With seemingly much to offer. And with seemingly nothing.

God wills. He designs. He creates. And He loves what He creates–especially the ones He made in His own image–human beings.

Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness,” Genesis 1:31, IBID.

Justin Hawkins retells the story of a mother who denied her child a safe, uncomplicated surgery that would save his life.

She could not see the beauty within nor savor the goodness of a child she considered imperfect. One with an extra chromosome. One with Down syndrome.

It took eleven days for the child to die. He starved to death for lack of a procedure any “normal” child would have received without question.

You might be surprised to learn that the account Hawkins gives is from 1963–ten years before Roe v. Wade legalized the killing of such children in the womb.

This child’s killing wasn’t in the womb. His death happened in a small room in a sanitized hospital. In America.

Legal justice came to no one for the crime. No justice on this side of eternity.

The 1973 accounting that Hawkins quotes, written by James Gustafson, quotes a doctor who explains that, even in 1963, “a different standard” applied to the disabled.

“That is, there is a different standard. . . . There is this tendency to value life on the basis of intelligence. . . . [It’s] a part of the American ethic.”

A great irony is that many medical personnel, who excel through their intelligence, seem unable to empathize with those who will lack academic abilities in life.

On the other hand, as Hawkins explains, “researchers found that when placed into an experiment in which a researcher feigned pain to study the responses of children, children with Down Syndrome were more likely than other children to attend and attempt to comfort the researcher than did typically-developing children.” 

It seems these children have something to offer after all. Kindness and compassion, so often missing today. In rejecting them, we have missed what they can show us and give us.

But Hawkins has seen what so many of us haven’t. He peppers his article with anecdotes from the life of his sister Jenna who has Down syndrome. Jenna came to be after the capability to diagnose disorders such as hers before birth.

He notes, ” [I]t would likely come as little surprise to any family that has decided to carry a child with Down Syndrome to term that the BBC reported in October 2020 that women were offered abortions up to fifteen times over the course of their pregnancies, even after repeatedly signaling that they did not want the procedure (my own mother [Hawkins and Jenna’s mother] recalls being asked five times over the course of fifteen minutes).” 

Entrenched in the minds of medical overseers is the conviction that the death of the imperfect is necessary for the lives of the rest of us to contain beauty and goodness.

Through that way of thinking, we have lost so much goodness and beauty.

America is now 48 years since Roe and Doe, the SCOTUS decisions that decreed such deaths legal.

If we gave a moment of silence to every child (62.5 million) who has died in the womb since those decisions, we would stand silent for nearly twelve years.

How much longer would we have to stand for the many innocents who have died outside the womb for the crime of imperfection?

God wills. He designs. He creates children. All of us imperfect in some way.

He stamps His image on each of us.

He stamps His image on all of us.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Golden Mean Between Galt and Gone

Aristotle wrote his Nicomachean Ethics 340 years before Christ was born. Within that text, we find the Golden Mean–a call to virtue, the mean between two extremes, a deficiency of a virtuous quality, and an excess of the quality.

For example, if courage is the mean, rashness would be the excess, and cowardice would be the deficiency.

Today in America, we struggle to find a mean between Galt–a reference to Ayn Rand’s objectivism–and Gone–absolute rejection of American tradition.

Galt refers to a character in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. John Galt attended Patrick Henry University, a fictional institution of higher learning.

Galt’s philosophy, the mirror of Rand’s, exalts the human spirit, capitalism, and atheism.

In alluding to Patrick Henry, Rand lauds his revolutionary quest for independence but rejects his faith.

And she wasn’t neutral in her renunciation of faith. She was virulently atheistic.

Not so Patrick Henry. When he argued that the colonists must go to war against the British, he declared that “An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!” Henry built his argument on a foundation of faith.

Many in the Galt camp today are gearing up for arms without God. A 2013 study claimed that 30 percent of those surveyed believed an armed revolution may be necessary to secure our constitutional rights.

We are no less divided now than we were then.

The Galt faction professes an excess of American bravado, absent the balancing influence of faith. It has moved beyond deficiency in faith to hostility.

The Galt excesses of bravado and hostility to faith eliminate the effects of faith: “Objectivism rejects the altruistic premise of self-sacrifice”–a pillar principle of Christianity.

The Gone faction in America is also hostile toward Christianity. But unlike the Galt perspective, this deficiency (of faith) and excess (of hatred for it) includes a rejection of American values. It equates Christianity, a conservative moral code, and a capitalist economy, with all the evils of slavery.

Gone urges deficiencies in order and faith and an excess of chaos. It preaches the message of critical theory–that society is comprised only of oppressed and oppressors. Every person is one or the other. There is none else.

Neither of these extremes can ever bring us to a peaceful, virtuous mean.

F.H. Buckley has written American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup. Here’s part of what goodreads.com says about the book:

“Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we’re tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that’s what its voters wanted.

“But if that isn’t what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans.”

Secession Lite would require a live and let live mentality. I’ve written before about the divide between city and country–the demarcation of much of our disagreement over faith, economics, and morality.

Perhaps Buckley has found a philosophical mean that could ensure freedom of conscience. For example, freedom for municipalities to respect life, if they choose. Freedom for pharmacists to refuse to provide the means for abortion. Freedom for children to openly pray in government-run schools.

Localities could be free to democratically decide what to do about crime, immigration, and education.

The idea of secession today sounds crazy. He tells us it’s not. It’s real and on the way.

Crazy is what we’re experiencing in 2020. Our divided house hovers over a chasm of chaos. And crazy will continue until we find a Golden Mean of citizenship we can agree on.

Or see our nation destroyed for its lack.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Little Sisters Win–Again–But . . .

Last week, in a 7-2 decision the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of the Little Sisters of the Poor to avoid paying for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees.

The Little Sisters in America are 300 women running 27 homes for indigent elderly.

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled just four years ago that the nuns would not have to pay a $70 million fine for refusing to obey the Obamacare mandates on birth control and abortion–even though corporate giants like Exxon and Visa and others are exempt from the regulations.

Despite the Supreme Court having already upheld their freedom of conscience, Josh Shapiro, Attorney General of Pennsylvania followed along after Xavier Becerra, California’s AG, sued to force the nuns to provide contraceptives– those preventing conception and those abortive in nature. These men sued in an attempt to get the court to say states can force the nuns to do what the federal government cannot force them to do.

The nuns have spent nearly a decade in court.

Life Site News reports that “[Justice Clarence] Thomas wrote in his majority opinion[,] ‘We hold that the [federal government’s] Departments had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.'”

But having the authority to exempt the nuns isn’t the same as having an obligation to exempt them. It leaves the question hanging like a door swinging in the wind with the change of administrations.

Lifesite points out that two justices made the argument for an obligation on the government’s part:

“In a concurring opinion, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch went a step further and argued that not only were the Departments allowed to exempt the Little Sisters, but the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) actually ‘compels an exemption for the Little Sisters and any other employer with a similar objection to what has been called the  accommodation to the contraceptive mandate.'” (emphasis mine)

That view is commendable (and constitutional) and shows why SCOTUS appointments are crucial. If the winds of a new administration blow in a different direction, we will see new appointments and the door will swing again in the direction of oppression over freedom of conscience.

“While ultimately voting with the majority, [Justice Elena] Kagan explained in a concurring opinion that while she believed the relevant departments did have ‘statutory authority to exempt certain employers from the mandate,’ she also believes the accommodation made for the Little Sisters was broad enough that it could still be invalidated under the federal Administrative Procedure Act. So while the ruling is a major victory the Little Sisters and other opponents of compulsory birth control coverage, Kagan’s opinion also provides ammo to a potential future challenge.”

Sadly, we can expect to see the sisters in court yet again.

And last week’s decision affects more than a small sect of nuns, their employees, and their homes’ residents. These cases mark, not a turning point, but another stepping stone on our nation’s pathway (perhaps a circular one) between freedom and religious suppression.

Abolitionist Wendell Phillips said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. . . . The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten,”

Gather fresh manna daily. Be vigilant.

And in this season of turmoil and uncertainty, be especially vigilant in prayer.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Those Who Love Death

“But he who misses me or sins against me wrongs and injures himself; all who hate me love and court death.” (Proverbs 8:36 AMP)

Coming soon to a state near you? Euthanasia for terminally ill people is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. So far.

In The American Spectator, Wesley J. Smith says that limiting euthanasia to the terminally ill is “philosophically unsustainable.”

“If the point of allowing suicide by doctor is to eliminate suffering — and if eliminating suffering can include eliminating the sufferer — how can facilitated death be forbidden to patients, such as those with dementia and mental illness, who may suffer far more extremely and for a much longer time than the already dying?”

That might sound reasonable. After all, who wants anyone to suffer? Who wants someone else to suffer?

Or is there an alternative–like treatment and compassionate care? Is death the only option?

Part of the discussion surrounding the argument over abortion is whether the unborn child suffers as he or she is torn apart via suction or dismemberment, receives a shot of digoxin to stop his/her heart, or is crushed to death by instruments.

Deniers of unborn pain deny because they understand that only a cruel person doesn’t care whether others suffer.

So before we embrace an idea intended to alleviate suffering, let’s consider what follows.

And what follows is what’s happening now in Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and perhaps soon, in Canada. The first three nations allow euthanasia for mental illness, and, Smith tells us, “Such procedures are not rare.”

The Swiss high court determined “several years ago that the mentally ill have a constitutional right to access death.” Switzerland has assisted suicide clinics. (See Soylent Green.)

Canada is considering expanding the “right to die,” now available only to the terminally ill, to include the mentally ill as well.

But a right implies choice. And Smith provides two accounts of euthanasia implemented involuntarily. In one case, over the objections of the patient, and in the other case, when the patient’s death was not “foreseeable” (a requirement of the law) and over the objections of the family.

You might expect that the respective governments would intervene or prosecute, but ultimately in these cases, the physician’s decisions were lauded.

And lest you think those cases are aberrations, 20 percent of “assisted suicides” in the Netherlands happen without “explicit consent.”

Voluntary euthanasia leads us to involuntary euthanasia. Every time.

Nancy Pearcey: ““It is a tragedy to see the medical profession move from suicide prevention to suicide facilitation. The right-to-die movement presents euthanasia as compassionate. But disparaging human life as expendable is not compassionate. The term ‘compassion’ literally means ‘to suffer with’ (com=with, passion=suffer). True compassion means being willing to suffer on behalf of others, loving them enough to bear the burden of caring for them.”

Those who make money from abortion say they support choice, but are quick to find only one “solution” for a crisis pregnancy.

And those who make money from euthanasia–and thus save the expense of caring for those in crisis–are quick to present the same “solution”.

Seldom today does anyone suffer without an available form of treatment or help. We can do more than death promoters acknowledge.

They present euthanasia, as they did abortion, as an easy out. But like abortion, euthanasia will prove to be not so easy and just as harmful to the cultures it touches.

As these proponents love and court death, they wrong and injure themselves.

And all of us with them.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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When Work Gives You Nightmares

I remember the dream I sometimes had when I was in college. I had to take a test. But I couldn’t get there. Something kept happening to keep me from leaving home.

We dream about what is important or challenging. Through our dreams, we see our fears.

Sarita used to dream about her job. She couldn’t escape what she did during the day.

It’s a vast understatement to say she didn’t know what she was getting into when she went to work for Planned Parenthood.

But among her fellow new employees that first day, she was the most qualified to work at a clinic. She was a certified medical assistant. The other two had no related experience or training.

She had to trained these other employees to do basic medical tasks she already knew. “Unprofessional” is a minimal way to describe that.

Her job involved “secrecy and dishonesty” and distrust. Security personnel searched her as she entered work to make sure she wasn’t carrying a recording device.

Supervisors told her those on the other side wanted to harm her. She would never get another job because no one else wants anyone who comes from this industry. She was part of this group, and there could never be another group for her.

That’s what cults do.

But the worst part of her job entailed “putting the puzzle pieces together–reconstructing the pulled apart body parts of unborn children.” It’s a necessary step to ensure the person performing the abortion got it all.

That’s what gave her nightmares. And depression.

“Some babies that had been destroyed had fingernails, eyelashes and genitals. They were the loveless, discarded, tiny parts of a human that I had to gather and make into a baby—something that should be reserved for God.”

And that wasn’t all there was to her job. The person doing sonograms trained Sarita to do them too.

Sarita found out that the person training her only received two weeks of training herself. After two weeks, Sarita’s supervisors gave her a certificate for completing her training. Sarita knew that certification from a university required two years of training. Her certificate, she says, was “bogus”.  

Finally, she became physically ill, and “walked out the back” of the clinic after someone in middle management chastised her for coughing too much. She spent more than a month in the hospital with pneumonia.

While still in the hospital, she learned that the police were looking for her. Upon discharge, she presented herself to clear up what she knew must be a mistake. Police arrested her for the theft of a sonogram machine.

Sonogram machines are not portable. But just as cults often do, PP accused the departing Sarita of wrongdoing. Any background check for a new job would show her arrest record.

Leaving PP restored her health, but cost her $1500 for a lawyer to clear up the invalid charges (eventually dropped) and four years of job searching.

The PP folks were right about it being hard to find a new job after leaving the abortion business, but not for the reasons we might assume.

They were wrong about the intentions of those on the other side. The pro-life community was there to walk with Sarita toward a productive life that would not include nightmares.

Sarita’s story is incredible. You can find it and others like it on the Abortion Industry Quitter page by And Then There Were None–the non-profit group that helps former abortion industry workers sustain themselves and prepare for new employment.

Pray that the name will come true soon–that the day will come when there will be none willing to work in abortion.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Red Parts of Blue States Looking to Split

The two teens stood across from me at the March for Life Expo in January. They weren’t yet old enough to vote. But perhaps when they are, they’ll cast their ballots to excise their part of Virginia to make it part of West Virginia–a harkening back to our Civil War. (Or our first Civil War?)

They are frustrated by legislators from the northern part of the state threatening to limit gun ownership and having voted to expand “abortion rights” more broadly than all but a few places around the world.

They are not alone in that way of thinking. Those hoping for Southern Virginia’s secession to West Virginia have company in Oregon, some of whose voters want to become part of Idaho. California also has its own initiative brewing. But that effort isn’t pushing to become part of an existing state. The plan calls for the establishment of the 51st state–New California.

Imagine what these efforts–if successful–might lead to.

Political pundits speak of the conservative part of my own Pennsylvania in terms of the T across the north and through the center with Philadelphia in the east and Pittsburgh in the west–although Pittsburgh sometimes joins the T.

The T carried our Keystone State for Trump in 2016–even the heavily Democratic Cambria County–coal country.

If voters in the T decided to follow suit with southern Virginia voters, the bulk of Pennsylvania might also join West Virginia–or ally with rural voters in New York to form a 52nd state.

Even the bluing state of Texas could end up splitting over voter ideology.

It sounds far-fetched. But perhaps we are closer to making such dividing lines than we realize.

Rural voters want to keep their guns. On farms or in nearby forests, guns have practical purposes completely unrelated to crime and unfathomable to many city-dwellers.

Conservative and liberal voters can only remain at an impasse over abortion. Room for compromise on this issue is scant because the unborn one either lives or dies. There is no state of in-between.

While these proposals for state-splitting are still in their infancy–or perhaps in their early childhood–it seems a good time to consider some of the ramifications.

For example, would Philadelphia decide to become part of New Jersey? Could Jersey support the costs of the City of Brotherly Love that rural PA taxpayers have helped to bear for decades?

What if the rural/conservative voters of every state thought it best to cut themselves free from every city that wanted to limit guns and fund abortions at any time during gestation?

Would cities’ leaders moderate some of their views to stem the traffic moving to a new place? Would rural folks bend? Can both sides occupy a middle ground for long?

Beyond the disputes over abortion, gun control, and other divisive pursuits, both city and countryside struggle with opioid addiction, isolation, loss of purpose.

The answer is the same whether in unity or division. Shining light into the darkness. The darker the night, the easier it is to perceive the light.

Shine your light while you can. Where you can. All you can.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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The Choices that Shape Us

I remember sitting in a college classroom, a criminology class, and hearing the instructor discuss “victimless” crimes, the encounters society frowned upon (more then, less now) but that “didn’t hurt anyone.”

The instructor suffered from the disillusionment that “consenting adults” could engage each other, agree to exploit each other, walk away, and remain unchanged, unharmed, perhaps even happier or better off for having had the experience.

Somehow when one eternal soul encounters another, both change. Loving choices produce good–satisfaction in our purpose fulfilled.

Exploiting choices, unrepented and left to themselves, never produce happiness or anything else we can call “better”.

We human beings shape and reshape ourselves and each other–all through the power of our choices.

We cannot, of course, ignore the work God does in shaping us. Our circumstances–not all resulting from our choices–shape us. But always, always, we choose how we react to every situation.

There is a calling, a mandate, on our lives. That calling demands a response. A false response refuses to acknowledge the harm sin causes. A true response resists evil, evil that has power to do great harm.

In his discussion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s various works, Joseph Loconte presents this universal calling:

“One may answer the Call–or refuse it, turn away, and walk into Darkness. But indifference to the Call to struggle against evil is not an option; one must take sides. Thus, set before our imagination in the works of Tolkien and Lewis is one of the great paradoxes of our mortal lives: the mysterious intersection of providence and free will” (152).

Every day, we choose to answer the call or neglect it. We choose the good way or our own way.

As our choices shape us, so do they shape our society.

And the shifts in society manifest themselves in changed language. Unborn humans have not just become fetuses. Clinic workers must never say the word baby. They call the child tissue, a blob.

Prostitutes are sex workers now. That’s a very clinical sounding term for something that sounds like an innocuous business. That innocuous business has grown into sex trafficking, even of children, even in America.

Porn is not victimless. It turns its viewers into addicts.

And it abuses and entraps those who produce it. In the meantime, the audience for porn becomes younger and seeks “ever harsher and more violent, degrading images.”

Abortion obviously harms the child, and less obviously, but still profoundly, harms the mother. Even less obvious, but perhaps as profound, is the damage to fathers, surviving siblings, and other family and friends.

And let’s not neglect the harm done to those within the abortion industry. Many within pro-life ranks today left clinic work to stand for life. They have answered the call. But healing is a long road.

Many wounded remain behind and cause more harm.

Loconte: “It is through their own decisions . . . that they invite a spiritual crisis into their lives. The result is not the freedom they imagined, but the deepest slavery of heart and mind” (163).

God bids us to answer His call–to be instruments of healing–to make choices that will shape us, others, and our society for good.

He calls us to speak the truth in love. Our refusal to do so can only bring more hurt.

It’s our choice.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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HEADlines: Abortion and the Church

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, January 25, 2020~

I don’t know who she sat next to in church that week—or if she even went to church then. And for a long time after I met her, I had no idea what had happened in her life.

It all looked great from my viewpoint.

Then we went on a bus trip to the March for Life. That’s the annual Washington, DC, commemoration of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in all 50 states. I don’t know the moment that made a difference for her. I just know that she lived that moment and her life changed. She made a connection with someone she felt she could trust with her secret. And when she did, she found healing.

And I might not have ever known but for a chance meeting.

One Sunday morning, we were visiting a church in a neighboring community. And when we got out of our car, she got out of hers.

She was the guest speaker. She had come to tell us the secret she had carried for years. She had had an abortion.

And she told us about the someone who helped her. And the God who healed her.

Now she helps others. And those others are all around us. We just don’t know who they are or what they are living.

Perhaps one such person sat next to you last Sunday.

One in five women who reported that they’ve had an abortion were attending church weekly at the time. Four in ten said they attended church regularly when they aborted. Seven in ten aborting women identify themselves as Christians.

Only seven of 100 such women said they discussed their decision to abort with someone at their church.

Roland C. Warren of CareNet says, because the issue of abortion has been politicized, many pastors shy away from addressing it. So many women sit in the pews feeling that they cannot speak of their crisis pregnancies.

“[A]s a result of pastors’ withdrawal, there have not been broad-scale ministry on-ramps built around helping women and men make pregnancy decisions,” he writes.

It’s not about politicizing our churches. It’s about providing compassion to people who may hold pro-life convictions in their hearts even when they perceive that their desperate situation has no solution other than abortion. So we also must offer compassion for men who have made abortion decisions. Consider this story:

There is a Planned Parenthood facility in Montgomery County, Texas, that was the special focus of prisoners in the local jail during a 40 Days for Life campaign.

Forty Days for Life was meeting outside the PP at that location from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily during those 40 days. One of the participants also volunteered in the chaplaincy program at the local jail. He went to see whether the inmates of faith would be willing to cover the other 12 hours of each day in prayer.

A few days later he “returned to the Wynne unit and the offender heading up the unit prayer vigil gave me the sign-up list. It turned out to be 12 pages full of names. As I examined the list in semi-shock and asked several questions, I realized that each man on the list had agreed to pray for one hour each day for the whole 40 days. For example, 16 men are praying every day from 7 PM – 8 PM for the whole 40 days. Again, 16 different men from 8 PM – 9 PM. 15 men signed up for 3 AM – 4 AM and so it goes. Every hour is covered with at least 10 men who signed up to pray.”

I don’t know how abortion touched the lives of each of these inmates.

But Donna Gardner knows that abortion has touched the lives of many men incarcerated today. Gardner became involved in ministry to post-abortive, incarcerated men after an inmate spoke to a prison ministry about his guilt over participating in abortions.

“The inmate was feeling haunted because he had pressured three different women he had gotten pregnant into having abortions. Surprised that a man was talking about abortions, Lawlor invited Gardner to speak at the annual prison ministry meeting in 2011.”

Gardner believed many prisoners suffered from PTSD because of their involvement in abortions. Her research and instincts found support when “an anonymous survey issued to the inmates at both of the prisons [Martin and Okeechobee in Florida] indicated that 90 percent had been involved in an abortion experience that hurt them.”

She says, “It’s not what you think about men in prison. They longed for their children and somehow recognized that life went wrong after their abortion experience.”

It doesn’t seem like a natural progression of logic that men would find themselves in prison as a result of abortions in their lives. After all, these men had histories before and after their abortion experiences that may also have contributed to their incarceration.

It didn’t seem like a logical connection to the men either—at first. “Many men are unaware that their emotions are the direct result of an abortion experience,” according to Gardner.

Emotional wounding comes from all sorts of trauma. But with nearly 62 million abortions happening in the US since Roe, it’s time to acknowledge that the wounding is widespread.

Gardner’s program includes multiple classes. Men learn how to deal with the pain of the past. They find healing. They experience, she says, “the healing power of God.”

The men are building “this beautiful brotherhood of life . . . behind the wall.”

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Credit: Tim Marshall

Only God can form such a brotherhood. And only God can place a healing helper in our path after we’ve wounded ourselves in a way that seems insurmountable.

Whether the place of ministry is a prison or a church, it must be a place of transparent compassion that says, “We will love you no matter what you face, no matter what you’ve done because there is a great God who loved us and you too,” Gardner says.

That’s the same love that my friend found. And the love she now offers. That’s the love the men suffering after abortion offer.

That love is the Gospel.

And the Gospel is the message of Christ. The message of the Church—if we can be bold enough to share it.

Top Photo Credit: Maria Oswalt

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Stacked Deck Against the Champions of Life

“This is a case of shooting the proverbial messenger who had the courage to document the business model of the nation’s number one abortion vendor. It was clear during the hearing that Planned Parenthood did harvest and sell infant body parts. What a miscarriage of justice to punish those who documented the disgusting practices.” Kristen Hawkins~

A San Francisco jury has found that undercover journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are liable for damages to Planned Parenthood. The two went undercover to show the world that PP was selling unborn children’s body parts for profit.

Daleiden and Merritt planned to base their defense on the Bill of Rights. But the presiding judge prohibited a first amendment defense.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Judge Orrick to back off from his insistence that the jury be instructed that the First Amendment … does not state any kind of defense to the charges in this case,” said Thomas Brejcha, founder of the Thomas More Society, in an update on the case last week.

But perhaps the judge wasn’t the unbiased authority our judicial system calls for. After the trial, Daleiden said Judge Orrick “is actually the founder of a Planned Parenthood of Northern California clinic in San Francisco. . . . 

“We tried to get him recused from this case several times a couple of years ago, and each time he or his peers in the federal judicial system looked the other way and kept him on, and Judge Orrick basically predetermined the outcome of this case from the very beginning of the trial.”

The Daleiden/Merritt case is about punishing those who would speak the truth about what Planned Parenthood’s henchmen and women did (and may still do) to turn a few extra bucks. It’s about silencing any others who may dare to speak truth about what happens behind the doors of PP.

For Planned Parenthood, it’s also about trying to reverse a public relations disaster–the truth.

And it’s about money.

Of course, Daleiden and Merritt’s attorneys plan an appeal.

In the meantime, the Little Sisters of the Poor and 30 other religious non-profit organizations await a ruling from the US Supreme Court regarding their exemption from Obamacare requirements that they provide contraception and abortion for those whom they employ.

That despite an HHS rule that exempts them from the Obamacare mandate.

Yet Obamacare excluded some corporations and government entities (the United States military, VISA, Chevron, and Pepsi, and Exxon). Will those entities provide those services out of their own surpluses–or will the employees pay them out of pocket?

This fight is clearly not about universal coverage.

Maybe these fights over the filming of truth and the sanctity of life are not just about money.

Maybe they’re not just about abortion. Maybe they’re also about power.

J.D. Mullane says it’s not the first time Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro (one of only two AG’s pursuing the Little Sisters) has gone after a “little guy.”

” The AG seems to like picking on little guys like the Little Sisters. Recall how he used the full force of the state to go after a mom-and-pop lawnmower repair biz in Lower Southampton in May, alerting the media with a full-blown press conference with state police, state consumer protection officials, and ‘victims’ who, frankly, should have sought relief at a small claims hearing in district court.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor run nursing homes for abandoned elderly in poverty. They care for those with no one else to care for them at the end of their lives. At the same time, they stand up for the smallest humans at the beginning of life.

In these court cases, religious and journalistic freedom sit in the crosshairs of a weapon aimed at the champions of life–to eradicate their voices and silent witness–to take away their freedom to speak and our freedom to know.

The stakes are high. Get into the game. It’s the only way to overcome a stacked deck.

Photo Credit: Jack Hamilton, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Then Pennsylvania Came for the Nuns

Martin Niemoller’s famous quote listing the Nazi victims comes to mind today.

This week the Little Sisters of the Poor are back in court–before the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)–defending their right to follow their religious convictions against abortion and contraception.

This might sound like a rerun of the evening news, but it’s not.

It was just in 2016 that the Little Sisters successfully defended themselves against an Obamacare mandate requiring them to provide abortions, abortifacients (contraception that works after conception–i.e. medication or device abortion), and contraception as part of their employee medical insurance coverage.

The sisters faced the option of shutting down all their facilities or paying millions in fines.

Then they won.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro–presumed by many to be the next governor–wouldn’t let the issue die–despite a Health and Human Services (HHS) rule (at the federal level) that says otherwise. (California’s AG is also pursuing the case.)

A news release from Becket, defending the nuns, explains:

“HHS issued a new rule that protects religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor from providing services like the week-after pill in their healthcare plans in violation of their faith. This meant their four-year legal ordeal was close to an end. But shortly after, the state of Pennsylvania sued to take away the Little Sisters’ religious exemption.”

According to Becket, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe Shapiro has it in for the sisters:

“Pennsylvania admits that it already has and already uses many government programs to provide contraceptives to women who need them.  Pennsylvania never challenged the Obama Administration for creating much larger exceptions for secular corporations—exceptions that covered tens of millions more people than the religious exemption.  Pennsylvania does not even have its own contraceptive mandate at all.”

We of the Keystone Commonwealth should be asking how many of our tax dollars Shapiro has wasted on his persecution of the sisters.

We should realize that electing Shapiro as governor will open the door for more Kermit Gosnells. And we should consider whether that door has already opened.

Anyone concerned about freedom of religion in America should be watching closely for SCOTUS’s ruling on this case.

Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Newscom

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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