On Saturday, April 28th, in Washington, DC, the White House correspondents’ dinner became the talk of the town after comedian Michelle Wolf’s jaw-dropping diatribe left even the most desensitized media members in the room squirming in their seats. In attendance was Chris Cillizza, CNN’s editor-at-large, who recorded his personal real-time responses to the scenario in his Sunday article. One of his takeaways regarded Wolf’s blast of Vice President Pence’s stance on abortion, in which she stated, “He thinks abortion is murder which, first of all, don’t knock it ’til you try it — and when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” Cillizza responds in his article, “You can hate abortion and think it is murder. You can feel as though it’s not the government’s business what you do with your body and how you handle your own life. But, does anyone celebrate abortion — even jokingly?” Cillizza’s rhetorical question can have only one answer: No. Respect life.
On this same Saturday, April 28th, in Liverpool, England, a 23-month old boy named Alfie breathed his last breath, his parents by his side. A chest infection brought Alfie to the hospital in December of 2016. Further medical complications followed, leading to a diagnosis of a degenerative brain condition which was considered incurable. Much controversy surrounded this situation as Alfie’s parents first sought permission to take him to another hospital for treatment and then sought permission to take him home. Both requests were denied. As reported by the Washington Post, Alfie’s father appealed to Pope Francis for assistance, which was granted by the Pope but denied by the British court system. Pope Francis responded with these words: “Let us pray that every sick person might always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a manner adapted to their condition, with the concordant input of their families and loved ones, of the doctors and of other health care workers, with great respect for life.” Later, the Pope shared these comments to a general audience: “The only author of life, from its beginning to its natural end, is God,” he said. “It is our duty to do all that is possible to safeguard life.” Safeguard life.
On March 4th, in Cleveland, Ohio, a disaster occurred at a renown medical facility. A storage tank at a fertility clinic malfunctioned, causing 4,000 frozen embryos from 950 patients to be no longer viable. This disaster created heartbreak for so many who had hopes of one day bringing their children into the world. It is not surprising that multiple lawsuits have followed, resulting in a judge ordering the cases be consolidated to expedite the process. One case has been granted an exception from the consolidation because it is an action for “declaratory judgment”. In other words, this couple is not seeking any award for damages.
An April 24th article posted on cleveland.com explains: “Bruce Taubman, the Pennimans’ lawyer, filed a separate lawsuit with a different judge asking the court to determine whether their embryos were human lives. The Pennimans maintain that UH treated their embryos as chattel, or property, and has only offered to reimburse them for the production of the embryos, not for the loss of a potential son or daughter. The Pennimans ‘view the embryos as patients of UH who should have been protected as such,’ their lawsuit says. ‘They contend that life begins at conception, meaning the embryos have the legal status of a person,’ according to the lawsuit.” The Pennimans have asked the judge to define life. The Ohio State Supreme Court ruled in a 1985 case that a viable fetus is a person and that a fetus begins at conception. It seems that, at least in Ohio, the beginning of life has already been defined, and, as such, provides the underlying argument for the Penniman case. Protect Life.
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision may have been a benchmark moment in the cultural landscape of this century, but the issues go much deeper than that. If anything, the 1973 US Supreme Court decision moved us out of the relatively calm waters of casual considerations regarding life and catapulted us over a cavernous waterfall into a whirlpool of chaos with its rippling repercussions. And I think we are drowning. Only when we renew our commitment to protect life from conception to death, only when we choose to respect life and to safeguard life, will we find the anchor we need to survive this cultural storm.