HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Pro-Life
Federation has sent a direct message to the U.S. Supreme Court: Overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Federation has filed an amicus
brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson
Women’s Health Organization. The case involves Mississippi’s protective
law banning abortion at 15 weeks.
In this well-reasoned brief, the
Federation “seeks an overturn of Roe
v. Wade, so that States may once again provide protection for
vulnerable unborn human life.”
The brief further states, “Roe was a radical decision that
overrode the legislative judgments of all 50 states. It was based on a flawed
understanding of the humanity of the unborn child and views of obstetrical
practice that are outdated because they fail to treat unborn children as second
patients in pregnancy.”
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which
legalized abortion throughout the country. It is estimated that more than 62
million Americans have died from legal abortion since the decision went into
effect. Countless numbers of women have also been forced to grieve children
lost to abortion.
While pro-lifers may be
adept at debating the abortion issue, some may feel less confident arguing
against another threat to life: assisted suicide. That is why Stephanie Gray
Connors’ latest offering is a treasure that all of us should delve into.
Start with What: 10 Principles for Thinking About Assisted Suicide is relatively short but highly engaging. Those who know the author from her previous book, Love Unleashes Life, or her many debates with pro-abortion advocates, or her famous talk at Google, will rediscover in this book her gifts of clear thinking and illuminating storytelling. Those reading her for the first time will find a fresh yet experienced pro-life voice. Although dealing with the heavy topics of suffering and death, Gray Connors adroitly leaves the reader feeling uplifted by showcasing the strength of the human spirit.
The title of the book comes from the very first principle offered: when bad things happen, such as illness, an accident, or any event that causes suffering, we should not ask “Why?” but rather “What?” What can I do in light of this situation? What good can be brought out of it? When we change the question, we change our perspective, and discover possibilities to grow and to love in ways previously unknown.
Gray Connors says that if a loved one desires assisted suicide, those around him should not act on that disordered wish, but instead help the person discover their “What?”
“Perhaps their what is to empathize with another suffering soul, to become a writer, to be a listener, to teach people to how to slow down and enter into the present moment, to become an advocate for finding a cure for a disease…their what could simply be to teach others, by their need and total dependence, the life-changing power of vulnerability and love.”
Another principle Gray Connors offers is that we should strive to alleviate suffering without eliminating the sufferer. While putting down a sick pet can be regarded as a merciful act, “putting down” a human is not the same. We possess an inherent dignity that animals do not, and ending human life prematurely as a response to suffering is not only wrong, it puts us on a very slippery slope as to whose life is worth living.
The truly merciful choice is to seek palliative care, assessing and treating the pain that a person faces when encountering a life-threatening illness. Such pain management allows people to live fully and comfortably until the natural end of their lives. Gray Connors reminds us that those last weeks, days, and hours leading up to death provide conversations and opportunities between loved ones that are priceless. Assisted suicide stunts all of that.
A third principle to consider is that suffering unleashes love. Suffering elicits a response in others and within ourselves, changing the way we relate, altering the way we live. Through several heartening real-life stories, the author highlights the human flourishing that arises from difficult, often tragic, circumstances. While none of us desire suffering, she acknowledges the transformative power it can have.
“Suffering is part of the human experience. It cannot be avoided. But it can be shared. And it is when we share it, when we enter into it, when we wrestle and do battle with it, when we respond to it with creativity, it is then we begin to discover the power of suffering not just in the crushing but also in the re-building, the drawing-in, and the uniting.”
Through several additional principles, Gray Connors conveys even more wisdom. In many ways, Start with What is as much about intentional, purposeful living as much as anything else. Anyone who is alive, anyone who suffers, or anyone who will someday die should read it and ponder the truths within. If they do, they will be much more equipped to not just effectively make the case for life, but to find their own “what?” when faced with hardship.
The older I get, the more I value freedom and the more
I desire others to know true freedom.
I desire it particularly for women who find themselves
facing an unexpected pregnancy.
Those who do not feel free to choose life. Those who
feel coerced by the baby’s father, or parents, or friends.
Those who feel stifled by society’s lingering
stigma regarding unplanned pregnancies and adoption.
Those who feel imprisoned by fear of an unknown
Those held hostage by an abusive relationship.
And those whose vulnerability is preyed upon
and exploited, trapped into ending their own child’s life.
Two-thirds of post-abortive women report feeling
explicitly or implicitly forced into abortion.
That is not freedom.
We must set them free.
We must embrace every opportunity to help women be free to choose life.
Free to protect the child within their womb, even those deemed “imperfect,” or not perfectly timed.
Free to parent a child or free to lovingly place him for adoption.
Free to pursue their dreams, even in the midst of pregnancy or parenting.
When we empower women, whether through our laws, our words, our material support, or whatever is needed to walk with them on their journey, we offer them true freedom. We give them what they need to make the best choice possible for themselves and their child. That choice can never be death.
I am so grateful that my own family gave me the freedom to choose life when I was just 18 years old.
My mother, relieved that I did not have a terminal
illness, assured me we could deal with a baby.
My oldest brother, a new father himself, told me that
all babies, at all times, are a blessing.
My youngest brother embraced me and thanked me for not
getting an abortion.
Does not every young woman deserve such support so
that they have the freedom to choose life?
As we celebrate our many freedoms, let us renew our
commitment to giving every human being, without qualification, the freedom to
live first and foremost, for without life, no other freedoms can exist.