Friday, July 29, 2011

It's Not A Sprint

My first article as an HLI America Young Scholar:


When I joined the pro-life movement a few years ago as a high school senior, I thought the task at hand was clear, but daunting: overturn Roe v. Wade.  What I didn’t realize is that the movement to end abortion is just that – a movement, a shift, a gradual realignment of our society’s priorities.  This shift not only includes our laws, but the culture we live in – a culture that accepts and promotes acts of violence against the most vulnerable and innocent.  I quickly learned that overturning the unconstitutional Supreme Court ruling would not instantly create a life-respecting utopia where every child, planned or unplanned, would be seen as a blessing.  I realized that conquering the culture of death is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Continue reading here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

oh today

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, July 24, 2011

if only my heart could yawn

Emotional exhaustion is the worst, y'all.
My heart feels like this baby right now, only a lot less cute and cuddly:

The National Right to Life Academy has been such a great experience which I will further explain another day, but the experience is, nonetheless, exhausting. Emotion wise, I have been disadvantaged since conception- females are just more emotional. Added to that, I am just pretty sensitive and it really doesn't take much to make me cry... so spending all day everyday learning about abortion and death and dying and sad things has taken its toll on my heart.
energized spirit
When I'm feeling super energized and motivated and inspired, like maybe I'm at the March for Life or getting a text saying "4 women turned around and chose life today," it's like my heart is a pizza... much like this one that some girls and I ate late Friday night:

tired spirit
Then... there's those days when you hear about the sad cases and kind of don't even have the spirit left in you to move an inch. Those days make me feel like this pizza... greasy (kidding), alone, and cold:

Last week I was definitely feeling like the leftover pizza. On Saturday morning, some of the girls went to pray outside the Planned Parenthood here and I just slept in; I don't think I could've handled that situation very well given my worn out corazon. Also, I just haven't felt like going to pray at PP in DC. I had expected that I'd go at least once, but I just really haven't felt called to that. In Austin it feels like most everyone is so unified thanks to the really wonderful peaceful example that the Austin Coalition for Life has set, but I just don't know what the atmosphere on the sidewalks is like elsewhere.

Anyways, I took the weekend to kind of just unwind and try my best not to feel sad. I think I was successful! I spent some time with myself, I spent some time with the girls, I watched some episodes of "The Office," I bought a new maxi-dress (long dress), and I planned out some activities for my favorite boy in the world who is coming to visit me next weekend. I'm kind of really excited. Trying really hard not to use 1,000 exclamation points while talking about his visit.

I got what I asked for AND he's coming to visit me!
Ironic to post this picture today because the first reading at Mass was about asking God for your heart's desires, or something along those lines, and apparently God wasn't joking when he said "ask and it shall be added unto you" and neither does Santa...

Hopefully a more thought provoking and mature post will be coming this week... there's really nowhere to go but up from here, ha ha.

Friday, July 22, 2011

a few photos

we are sho sweepy from studying sho hard

we are sho tech savvy
i am sho wired from coffee

Thursday, July 21, 2011

toughen up

band aid for my soul?
I have not been feeling super awesome lately so I decided to venture out this evening to look for cheesecake because everyone knows that the best way to deal with your problems is to cover them in chocolate sauce or anything ending in "-cake." Yeah, turns out that theory is false.

Ended up in a shady little- emphasis on the word little - restaurant and ordered my cheesecake and chicken fingers (I'm like 5 years old) and while I waited for the food, the guy at the counter struck up conversation with me. We started with the weather, told him I'm from TX & here with the Nat'l Right to Life Academy, and then I opened a great can of emotional worms.
Side note: if you are a visual person, the man at the restaurant looked a lot like Tom McGowan who plays Ray's friend Bernie on "Everybody Loves Raymond." 

me: You know, I've been really shocked by the number of homeless people in D.C.
man: Oh, well they choose to be homeless, you know. I've been workin' here about 20 years and see the same people in the same places. They aren't out there trying to get jobs, but they're doing just fine for themselves.


He went on to tell me stories about homeless folks who have turned out to be frauds or have been found sleeping with huge rolls of cash in their hands and other shady stories. I'm not naive enough to think that everyone in the world is honest or that everyone living on the streets is truly in a desperate state of need, but I tend to try to give them the benefit of the doubt... but I hate finding out the sad & messed up stories. Sometimes I like to pretend that everyone is good and nice and stuff... but I'm not ignorant enough to believe it, just too emotionally exhausted to dwell on the bad things all the time. So, even after I got my food we kept chatting...

me: I've just gotten really upset lately having to see all the people on the streets, regardless of who is truly needy and who is scamming.
man: you know what, after living in the city for a while you just gotta learn to look the other way.


I HATE THAT, OKAY! I really didn't like that! This man honestly was pretty nice and seemed like he had good intentions, but, I'm sorry, looking the other way isn't going to make anyone's problems go away, sir. I just really thought that was a sad sentiment.

me: well, I'd rather be gypped by 5 people and help 1 person than not help anyone at all... ya know... it just makes me really sad lately having to pass them everywhere and not know what to do.
man: I know you're from Texas and you've got Christ on the front of your shirt, but you've gotta toughen up.
feeling so happy, omgah
I left pretty soon after that. As I walked away, the man yelled "Toughen up! You'll be fine!" but that didn't really offer me much comfort. I enjoyed the conversation, but it did leave me feeling kind of crappy and really sad. The man had some valid points and made me face some things that suck, but I probably needed to hear them. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to look the other way all the time. I've been talking to the other girls in the Academy about this a lot lately and we've all been pretty frustrated with knowing when to give to the "homeless" (I really hate using quotes on that...). It's so hard because you pass by them and you have like this tiny window to make this huge judgment and assessment of this person's life, situation, need, and the extent of their need.

where my dinner ended up.
Also, after weeks of speculation about a lady who begs in the metro station, we have "cracked that case" and know she is scamming. It's a long story, but the girls and I have been keeping track of all of our sightings of this woman and her accomplices and we've figured out that they are gypping people... honestly, like, I think they might be gypsies. Not sure if that is a politically correct thing to say or not, but it is what it is.

I wish people would just be real because the scammers out there are only further hurting those who are truly hurting already by causing skepticism towards people on the streets. I should probably stop thinking about this because it's making me frustrated even more.

Oh and to top it all off... the food from the restaurant was not enjoyable... not even the cheesecake.

black & white

peace and blessings, peace and blessings!
wise words from my esteemed colleague, Albert.


Vietnam Memorial. it's shocking to walk by all the names... there's just so many.
heartbreaking to see how many lives were lost.
saw this at Arlington National Cemetery. ain't it the truth!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

let me live

video
I wish I had my guitar with me here in DC! All I have with me is this rough video from last fall. Hmmph. This is a song I wrote last November. I had just been thinking a lot about the unborn and how helpless they are. I started wondering how different things might be if they could speak up, if somehow they could express themselves other than kicking and swimming around. I sometimes joke that I wish that God could text or Skype so that my life would be a lot "easier" but what if the unborn could communicate with us- is there any unborn child that would say abortion is the way to go, mom? I'm also reminded of a saying my freshman year roomie Michelle liked- given a choice, they'd want a chance

If she spoke her first words today, could you still go through with it?
Would you listen to what she'd say?
If you could ask her what to do, what advice would she give?
Something like love me, let me live.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

last thought of the day, forreal

I've been writing so much about homelessness lately. I didn't realize how long it had been since I wrote about abortion. The next few weeks will likely be filled with abortion related posts as we are delving into that topic in class.

Passion? Check.
Motivation? Check.
Emotional stability to be able to talk about abortion all day without getting sad? I plead the 5th.
Kleenex? Check.

rando factz

If you are a stranger I've met on the street twice and you are reading this, please watch this video: Zachary's Thoughts On Abortion or actually if you are anyone that is anywhere you should watch it! 
look at this picture but instead of the
label "fetus" imagine the label "Gianna." 


I've been lucky enough to meet some really wonderful people in the past 2 years of my involvement in the Pro-Life movement.  These are their stories. *cue dramatic Law & Order- bumbum- sound*


Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor
Gianna's mother was 17 and in her third trimester when she had a saline abortion. This was completely legal. Until last year, I personally was unaware that a woman could have an abortion up until the time of birth. Roe v. Wade secures a woman's right to have an abortion in the first trimester and the states' rights to regulate after that point, but Doe v. Bolton ruled simultaneously and granted women the right to have an abortion at any time if the child would be a risk to her health. However, the definition of the word "health" is so broad that any woman could argue that an unwanted child would be a risk to her "health" even up to birth. According to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life:
Doe v. Bolton was meant to be read in conjunction with its more famous counterpart. In Doe, the Court ruled that a woman's right to an abortion could not be limited by the state if abortion was sought for reasons of maternal health. The Court defined health as "all factors physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age relevant to the well-being of the patient." This health exception expanded the right to abortion for any reason through all three trimesters of pregnancy.
This definition is so broad and encompassing that it allows for wrong timing, marital status, fear of pain, too many children, weight gain, etc., as "health" reasons. Because of Doe, any reason for abortion can be construed as a health reason. Together with Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton allows abortion for any reason and at any time during the pregnancy.

Me, Jacob, and Rebecca surrounding Gianna
In a saline abortion, the abortionist injects concentrated salt into the amniotic sac so the baby swallows the poison and the baby's skin is also burned away. The baby is being burned alive in her mother's womb and struggles to escape the poison but, errbody knows that the uterus doesn't have an escape route if the baby feels threatened or is in pain (aka 5 weeks into pregnancy). After injecting the solution, the mother leaves the clinic and enters into labor about 1.5 days later. The baby is delivered usually around 72 hours of injection, but the baby is delivered dead... except in Gianna's case.


Gianna was born alive. A nurse in the abortionist's office had Gianna taken to the hospital and luckily Gianna survived and was adopted. She has "the gift of cerebral palsy" and when she speaks- people listen. She is truly one of the most amazing people I've ever met. One of my favorite things she said was "Just because I walk with a limp doesn't mean I want to marry an ugly guy." How she managed to bring up dating standards as the keynote speaker at a Pro-Life benefit in Austin last year is beyond me... but I loved it. If you want to hear her tell her story click here. It's a 2 part video but it is TOTES worth it. She's pretty amazing.


first time I met Abby... I was really giddy.
Abby Johnson, PP director turned Pro-Life activist
Abby became involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer in 2001, but by 2008 she was named Planned Parenthood's employee of the year. After years of doing everything she could to do what she thought was helping women, Abby realized what she was really doing. Assisting in an ultrasound guided abortion, where the abortionist locates the baby using a sonogram machine rather than just poking around a woman's uterus and risking perforation, Abby watched as a baby at 13 weeks fought for his life in his mother's womb and struggled to escape the abortionist's tool but ultimately, lost his life. Realizing that this baby at only 13 weeks was actively trying to escape, Abby knew she had to get out of Planned Parenthood. 



After leaving, Abby exposed some of the lies Planned Parenthood feeds its employees and patients. One lie PP was telling women was that their babies couldn't feel pain which, as Abby witnessed, wasn't true. Fetal pain is real. Babies shouldn't have to endure the pains of abortion. Abby also shed light on the financial motives of PP regarding abortions. PP advocates will jump at the chance to tell you that abortions only account for 3% of their services, but will be reluctant to let you know that abortion accounts for more than a third of their revenue (great facts here). Read her article here that exposes PP's warped business model. Abby states in the article that even the 3% claim is false:
Planned Parenthood’s claim that abortions make up just 3 percent of its services is also a gimmick. That number is actually closer to 12 percent, but strategically skewed by unbundling family planning services so that each patient shows anywhere from five to 20 “visits” per appointment (i.e., 12 packs of birth control equals 12 visits) and doing the opposite with abortion visits, bundling them together so that each appointment equals one visit. The resulting difference between family planning and abortion “visits” is striking.
She goes on to mention that by 2013  all of its affiliates provide abortions. I thought the goal was to reduce abortions? Apparently not so much. And without abortion, where would PP be financially? I'm all for helping women, I kiiinnd of am one and all, but abortion isn't helping women and the cost of an unborn life is too great to cover the cost of their other services (including non-existent mammograms... shammograms).


To hear more about Abby's story and incredible journey- which includes having to deal with some freaking crazy Pro-Lifers - read her book Unplanned. So good. Also, she is just a cool person to talk to. She says what she thinks and she has a good time doing what she does. She has me lol-ing everytime I hear her speak!


Didn't have my camera when I met Lila #fail
but I have the Live Action card #notascoolasapicture.
Lila Rose, founder/president of Live Action
Not only is Lila incredibly beautiful and has great hair, she is a Pro-Life superstar. I got to meet her at the FOCUS conference in Nashville in January and she was so endearing! Live Action works to expose the abuses of the abortion industry and recently has been in the news for a series of investigations of Planned Parenthood locations across the country. Their blog has great content.



One thing Lila inspired me to do this year was call Planned Parenthood just to see what they say on the phone. The Pro-Life community has created this huge dark cloud of an idea of Planned Parenthood and I was just curious how true that is, so I started calling. Initially I would call clinics in TX and ask about emergency contraception which was pretty true to their standards; it's not hard to get. Over the next few weeks I started calling Colorado, Michigan, and California. Kind of a random group of states, haha. The thing I found most interesting was that despite Planned Parenthood's claim to be Pro-Woman and Pro-Choice, you can't get a sonogram there UNLESS it is preceding an abortion... which is weird. Pregnancy is a part of the lives of many women, so shouldn't an organization that is so keen on helping women be eager to perform sonograms?


My favorite phone call was to a PP in California. They were friendly (unlike the one in Flint, MI- uh, RUDE!). I asked to have a sonogram done to determine the sex of my baby since I was at 22 weeks. I was out of town so I couldn't go to my doctor. PP said they don't perform sonograms. I asked if they did before abortions. She said yes. I said that I already had a daughter so I wanted the sonogram done to determine the baby's sex and if the sonogram said my baby was a girl I wanted to abort, so I asked if I could just schedule an abortion as if I were going to go through with it and then if it ended up being a boy I could just "spontaneously" back out. She put me on hold. A few minutes later she came back and gave me the number to another Planned Parenthood and wished me luck. Something about that was just eerie to me. Her reaction was as if my request was very commonplace... frightening.


Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life 
I wrote about Fr. Frank pretty recently after the National Right to Life Convention, but in case you are reading this, my new friend, I'd like you to take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/user/FrFrankPavone. It's Father Frank's YouTube channel and this guy tells it like it is. For me, it took learning about the methods of abortion and watching videos like the ones on Father Frank's YouTube (specifically under the playlist "This Is Abortion"). The word "abortion" or what some Pro-Choicers will call "termination of pregnancy" seems simple, while in reality- the process of burning a child alive, of dismembering a baby limb by limb, of crushing a baby's skull, of vacuuming a child up - is a big deal, a freaking big injustice, and ought to be treated as such.



Okay, I really want to write about Melissa Ohden and DAN COMPTON and Carrie Holland but I should get to work on some other things. This post didn't seem to have much of an objective or structure other than if you are reading this, P, I hope that something in this made you agree/disagree with me more.



my journey into the pro-life movement

I know I've talked about this with people but I'm not sure if I've ever put it in writing, so now seems like a good time.

Confirmation of my Catholic faith!
my sweet sponsor, Esther.
After voluntarily getting into my faith (wassup, Catholicism?!) in 2006, I hadn't really given abortion any thought. If someone had asked me about my stance on the issue I probably would've told them that I only found abortion acceptable if the mother was raped or if she was going to die. 

In 2008 at a youth group event, we were shown a video about how precious life is. It was a cutesy video with pictures of giggling babies and cute families and toddlers at the park. However, in the "related videos" section on the website I saw a video titled something to the effect of "WARNING!!! DO NOT WATCH! HIGHLY GRAPHIC CONTENT!" so naturally, I went home that night and watched it. That's when I realized that I am Pro-Life and that abortion is wrong.
*I cannot personally vouch for the video's authenticity. I haven't done any searching regarding who filmed it but I consider the website to be credible and, EVEN IF it weren't actual footage, from the research I've done since I can say that the video depicts the procedure I have read about and know to be in existence. This is the video if you are interested. Warning though, seriously, it is disturbing. Click at your own risk, but I really recommend against it unless you really want to see.

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see in the video and I'm not sure what exactly I thought abortion was before that night, but what I saw in the video scared the crap out of me, broke my heart, and left me speechless. I remember crying in my room for hours that night just feeling sick about it, about what happened to the baby in the video. The next day at school I asked people in my class if they knew about this procedure, about what abortion really was, and about partial birth abortion. No one seemed to know. That freaked me out.

At the time, I wasn't necessarily passionate about respecting life. I knew abortion was wrong but I didn't feel any urge to get involved, or maybe I just didn't feel like I had the time (what a lie). Once I got to college in the fall of 2009 I was thrown into the movement and I haven't looked back since.

The day I moved into my dorm I headed to the Catholic Student Center to see how I could get involved with music ministry or a Bible study or the Pro-Life group that had been mentioned on their website. After being informed that there was no longer leadership in the group I volunteered to help out however I could, lucky for me the director took that as meaning I would lead the group, which was one of the best things that has happened to me so far, I think.

Hello, DC! March for Life 2011
So now, I'm President of Bobcats for Life. Only problem is that leading this group required more than just saying "abortion is wrong." That was a huge learning experience for me: not only learning the facts, but relaying what I learned to the (few) people who came to the meetings initially. I didn't feel qualified for the job really, but a few trusty members was all it took to get it off the ground. The rest is history... or at least history in the making.


Fall of 2009 I was clueless and reactivating an old organization, January 2011 I was marching with hundreds of thousands of people in D.C. for protection of all human life. I sometimes laugh when I think about how I end up where I do.

Another sidenote, although I am Catholic I did not become passionate about life issues because I was Catholic, which is unfortunate. Within the Catholic Church there are some who are not Pro-Life, even though the Catholic Church has a very specific (and beautiful) teaching on abortion. I sometimes feel like I lose credibility in the eyes of people who are not Pro-Life because I am Catholic. I feel that they assume I was born and raised going to Church every Sunday and I've blindly accepted anything that has been taught to me, which isn't the case. For the record, I am a practicing Catholic and I am Pro-Life on my own accord. I was told recently regarding a quick speech I had to give that, aside from fidgeting with my hands, I have a "relatable quality" so people hear me and think "oh yeah, she's just like me" which was cool to hear... I think.

I know many beautiful and wonderful and saintly people who have never had a thought contrary to Pro-Life beliefs in their life, and I admire them very much. Likewise I know, and can identify with, people who have been converted on the issue. I am glad that I have become informed and have come to the truth regarding respect for life, but I am also glad that I was raised by parents who encouraged an open mind and tolerance and let me think for myself- which, though it may not have generated Pro-Life thoughts in my mind my entire life- has blessed me with a different perspective and ability to empathize and relate.

Friday, July 15, 2011

pictures from class





just some pictures from the National Right to Life Academy to give y'all an idea of the environment where the class takes place.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

not society, not we, but ME

Love isn't something you can just say or pray,
loving is serving and giving away.

Nighttime rant! I hate the word SOCIETY. I hate it because it is thrown into generalizations all the time and it is blamed for everything. The problem with that is that most of these people, myself included, are making these statements without taking a step back and remembering- oh, hey, I'm a part of this society I'm talking about. This society is a 'we' and I am included. Oops. We, I, have to stop hiding the ME behind the WE and accept culpability for the problems we, you, I see.

I'm going to bold the blame that we need to face rather than reassign to a vague group, a society, a larger "we."


We, I, can sit around and talk about getting healthcare for everyone all day, but when we- when I - pass the amputee asking for change on the street because he can't get a job, we, I, don't give him change and talk to him and ask him if he is receiving the treatment he needs or whether there is ramp access for him to whatever buildings he needs to go to.

We, I, can talk about Jesus and His love for us and the Bible all day long, but when we- when I - don't put into practice the instructions we have been given by this Man we, I, claim to love and when we, I, are not following the instructions of this Book we claim to be fueled by... what do we become? what do I become
Maybe a resounding gong... maybe a clanging cymbal...

We, I, have to be the answers to our own- to my own - prayers. Pray for the needy, feed the needy. Pray for the naked, clothe the naked. Pray for the hopeless, offer them hope. Pray for the unloved, love them.

Accept that YOU are the problem sometimes. I am the problem when I fail to love, as I do often.

An American soldier, after liberating the Jews, said:
How could we [the world] have stood by and let that happen to them?


so how can we, the world, stand by and let the injustices, the poverty, the horrors afflicted on the "lowliest" of our population happen? how can you stand by and let the injustices, the poverty, the horrors afflicted on the "lowliest" of our population happen? how can I stand by and let the injustices, the poverty, the horrors afflicted on the "lowliest" of our population happen?

Likewise, as it is wrong to assign one's own failures to love to a society, it is also wrong to assign a group's failure to love to its individuals... an example: Planned Parenthood. Clearly I am not a supporter of theirs, but to say that people who support PP are bad is wrong; it's not the people that are bad, it's the misguided compassion/misinformation. Granted, I do think there are a couple people who might not exactly know their stuff and might be too stubborn to acknowledge hard facts that prove the negative effects of abortion on women and PP's large financial gains from abortion, but not everyone is bad overall. I feel like this paragraph is "another post for another day."

I don't know if this will make sense when I reread in the morning, but I refuse to pass by another person on the streets without giving love. Mother Teresa said: "Peace begins with a smile" and sometimes, as a "broke college student" a smile is all I can afford, but maybe sometimes it could be all that a person needs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

James

"Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them."

-Blessed Mother Teresa 

James.
He sits on the curb on the way to the grocery store. I met him when it was raining though I'd passed him before. Turns out he used to struggle with alcohol and substance abuse problems and went to prison but now he is clean and trying to find work. He's moved around from D.C. to North Carolina and back, but now he's struggling because social services have his records mixed up and the man he needs to talk to about it is on vacation for another week. Really nice man with beautiful blue eyes. He talked about getting clean and how you have to get clean before you can expect to do anything else. Now, he's living on the streets and looking for a job and trying to make it by utilizing the showers in shelters, asking for spare change on the streets to buy clean socks & underwear etc, and waiting to hear back from social services. I asked him if he wanted any groceries and he seemed surprised, "Sure, I'll take anything, maybe a sandwich or something" and later when I brought him the sandwich and some fruits he seemed surprised that I had returned. When I walked up to him with the food he called out Hey there, Sarah! as if he were greeting an old friend. I loved that.

I hated that I passed James by the first 2 times I saw him and that it took a third time to actually stop and look into his eyes and see his humanity, his heart. This city, this world is so fast paced that sometimes I don't even know how I end up where I end up because it's all such a rush. I can't help but wonder who else I have passed or what other opportunities to learn from others or to share what I have with others or chances to feed the hungry with a granola bar (chewy bars=nom nom nom) I have in my purse or just listen to someone who needs to be heard, like, how many of those opportunities have I sped past in order to beat the line at Starbucks (veinte iced white mocha lite ice no whip half pump = sigh) or to get back to the dorm to take a nap? I don't know why the homeless & impoverished are on my mind and heart so much lately, (other than the fact that I've seen more in the past few weeks than I have in my whole life...) but I just want to do something about it and it sucks that I can't get them all sandwiches... and assistance... and employment opportunities... and access to healthcare... and homes.

Another note: One thing that breaks my heart is when I feel like I am being scammed. Another day I will write about the 2 women whose authenticity I really want to believe in... but I can't. I've talked to them multiple times and asked questions and just circumstances and different factors considered... it doesn't add up. I hate that there are scammers out there because approaching strangers is a big step for some in and of itself, let alone having to judge a person's genuine need for charity in the brief window of time you have with them. I hope very much that those 2 women are sincere, or that they are being insincere about their poverty and that they are actually doing well- but I wish that, if the latter were the case, they would stop what they're doing. When I meet people who live on the streets I like to ask them questions to get an idea of where they're coming from, what their heart's context is, and get an idea of their sincerity or openness and maybe I'm naive to trust the stories of some of these people I have met, but I feel like I'm being careful with what I believe. So far I haven't encountered anyone that sent up a fishy flag except those 2 women... and a banjo player... but that's another story. Just a disclaimer that I'm not just blindly believing everything and I'm aware that people lie. I don't know why I felt like adding this.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

quote for justice

"It can be argued that rapists deserve to be raped, that mutilators deserve to be mutilated. Most societies, however, refrain from responding in this way because the punishment is not only degrading to those on whom it is imposed, but it is also degrading to the society that engages in the same behavior as the criminals."
  -Stephen Bright, human rights attorney

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

execution in Texas tomorrow :(

Unless granted a stay by Governor Perry or granted clemency through the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Humberto Leal will die tomorrow.

Aside from whether Leal is guilty of the kidnap, rape, and murder, Texas has apparently broken an agreement (the "Vienna Convention") that would have allowed Mr. Leal the right and access to the Mexican Consulate. The case  seems to have a lot of legal issues regarding consular access and the fact that the court appointed attorneys assigned to Mr. Leal did not defend him as well as attorneys that would have been appointed by his consulate would have, but regardless- he shouldn't die tomorrow.

As some food for thought on the issue of capital punishment that has been bothering me the past few days, here's what Pope John Paul II has to say on the matter (I bolded parts that I particularly liked):

The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offense." Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behavior and be rehabilitated.
It is clear that for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: In other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare if not practically nonexistent.
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae


Just really hoping that the execution isn't carried out tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

a person's a person no matter how innocent

seriously can't believe this #whattheheck
Today the verdict was read in the Casey Anthony case and I couldn't have been more surprised than I was when I read Vinnie Politan's tweet. Seriously I thought his Twitter had been hacked and someone was pulling a prank. Then the Facebook statuses started rolling in with everyone sharing in my surprise. For the past few years I, in my infinite young adult wisdom, have been so convinced of Casey Anthony's obvious guilt and even more so after watching weeks of coverage on Headline News... I'm wondering what it was that I missed that so blatantly claims her innocence. I guess this is what "innocent until proven guilty means," in which case, if she is innocent I'm glad that she is free and I really, really hope she'll seek some intensive therapy and not get a reality show.

Even though I was so set on her guilt, I never wanted her sentence to be the death penalty. For that reason, I was somewhat pleased, yet confused at first, with Cindy Anthony's alleged cover up regarding the search history on the computer ("chloroform"). This scenario sparked an interesting discussion today in class about whether it would be acceptable to lie to ensure your child would not be sentenced to death- which I would do 100%. I heard on HLN that Cindy Anthony assumed just enough responsibility for the searches so that Casey  would not necessarily be off the hook from the internet history evidence but rather she would not be convicted of a more serious crime that would result in the death penalty. Not absolutely positive if I got those facts straight but either way, I would have done the same thing to spare my child from the death penalty.

That discussion led me to thinking quite a bit about capital punishment today. I don't like it when people say they are "100% Pro-Life" or when certain political candidates promote themselves as being "100% Pro-Life" or "Pro-all-Life" yet they still support capital punishment. If a politician is Pro-Life regarding abortion and/or regarding end-of-life treatment, then they should clarify that rather than falsely advertise themselves.

I do understand that many organizations within the Pro-Life movement state that they are supporters of the protection of "all INNOCENT human life from conception until natural death" and that if capital punishment were to be included in issues addressed by groups within the movement there would be a (greater) sense of disunity among groups. However, I can't help but feel as if there is a sense of hypocrisy in the movement's negligence towards the persons who are put to death- for the sake of this entry, let's limit this to the U.S.- despite health and will to live.

Some may say that these persons who are being executed by the government (even by firing squad) such as in the case of Ronnie Lee Gardner. Ronnie grew up in a broken home with an absent alcoholic father who openly doubted that he was Ronnie's father. Ronnie was introduced to drugs and alcohol as a child and was sent to a state hospital by age 11. After years of being sexually abused by siblings, removed from his mother's custody, placed into a foster home of a pedophile, and was a father at age 16. Ronnie, in and out of hospitals and state institutions, grew up without a place to call home or people to call parents. Is it any big surprise that Ronnie Lee Gardner would end up doing down the "wrong path" in life?


Although an abusive upbringing is far from justification for his adult behavior, it seems that he was almost conditioned to be a criminal by every failed authority figure that entered his life and every failed government institution, school, hospital that he spent time in. When does a person stop being a person and when does a life lose its value? When is it okay for a nation to kill its citizens? An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Ronnie Gardner's daughter. Photo: Deseret News 
Ronnie Lee Gardner committed some heinous crimes, there is no doubt about that, but his guilt cannot justify his death. Just ask his daughter or his brother or his granddaughter who were all waiting vigilantly outside In a country that has the means to imprison those convicted of crimes and potentially offer them rehabilitative and correctional treatment, why is there still a need to kill? Killing creates problems, it doesn't solve them. Just ask the families of any of Ronnie's victims... or ask Ronnie's brother, daughter, granddaughter, and other family members who held a vigil outside the prison as the murder (yes, I called it murder) was carried out. Ask them about the problems created by killing. Which family deserved the loss more? Neither. No 3 year old deserves to have his father shot to death; no young woman deserves to have her father shot by a firing squad while she stands by, helpless.

The loss of a single human life is just cause enough for the repeal of the death penalty, but according to the Death Penalty Information Center (as of June 30, 2011):
Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

What did those 130 people do to deserve to die? Nothing. Isn't our justice system setting a hypocritical example by executing the innocent in order to "bring justice" for the innocents lost? Suppose a death row inmate was murdered. Would justice be sought for the killer of the death row inmate if his execution date was set for the next day? If America can kill its citizens, what's left but for us to kill each other? Similarly is the issue of abortion, but that'll be another entry for another day...

I think I just needed to vent a little bit about my frustrations with the pro-"Life" movement. I hate putting quotes around the word "Life" like that, but as Pro-Lifers we are so eager to quote Dr. Seuss and say "a person's a person no matter how small" but you never hear anyone proclaiming that "a person's a person no matter how big" or "a person's a person no matter how innocent." I do acknowledge that there is a far greater number of life lost through abortion and I personally have focused more of my research energy into abortion, which is another unjustifiable evil, but while we are working to protect the voiceless it is as though we have forgotten to also protect those WITH voices.

As for me, I am completely Pro-Life. All life.
Conception until natural death.







Monday, July 04, 2011

self-evident truths

happy 4th of July from D.C.!


Today commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Here's a little snippet of the Declaration that has been overlooked in the past 40 years!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Sunday, July 03, 2011

small things with great love

Saturday, July 02, 2011

parallels

I've never realized how much of a connection there is from abortion to homelessness to civil rights to end of life treatment and other issues. It all comes down to value of a life... and my eyes are being opened more and more everyday. 
 

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