by Robert Randall (reprinted)
It is not OK to kill people because you don’t like them.
It is not OK to kill people because they don’t like you.
It is not OK to kill people because they are different from you.
It is not OK to kill people because of what they believe.
Or because of what they don’t believe.
Or because they believe differently than you do.
It is not OK to kill people because they are wrong.
It is not OK to kill people because of who or what they are.
It is not OK to kill people because they are male.
It is not OK to kill people because they are female.
Or because they are any other gender or genders or gender-less.
It is not OK to kill people because they are straight.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people before they are born.
It is not OK to kill people after they are born.
It is not OK to kill children. Or young people. Or middle-aged people. Or old people.
It is not OK to kill people because they are disabled in any way.
It is not OK to kill people because they are a different race.
It is not OK to kill people because they are aboriginal.
Or because they are white.
Or because they are black. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Or because they are yellow.
Or because they are brown.
Or because they are red.
Or because they are any other color or shade or race or ethnicity.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because they were born in a different place than you.
It is not OK to kill people because they are from a different country.
It is not OK to kill people because they are Chinese.
Or from any of 190 other countries.
Or without a country.
It is not OK to kill people by refusing them asylum or refugee status.
It is not OK to kill people by deporting them.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because they are a different ethnicity than you.
It is not OK to kill people because they are native people.
Or any of thousands of ethnic groups or tribes or cultures.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because they have a different religion than you do.
It is not OK to kill people because they are Hindu.
Or because they are not Hindu.
It is not OK to kill people because they are Muslim.
Or because they are not Muslim.
It is not OK to kill people because they are Christian.
Or because they are not Christian.
It is not OK to kill people because they are Jewish.
Or any brand or subset of any of those things.
Or any of hundreds of other faiths and religions.
Or because they are not any particular one of those.
Or because they are none of those.
It is not OK to kill people for any “religious” reason whatsoever.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people even if God tells you to kill people.
That is never the voice of God.
It is not OK to kill people if some religious leader tells you to do so.
That is not the voice of God, either.
It is not OK to kill people if some political leader tells you to do so.
That is not the voice of God, either.
It is not OK to kill people if your country tells you to do so.
Your country is not God, either.
It is not OK to kill people even if you are ordered to do so.
It is not OK to kill people even if you are in a uniform.
It is not OK to kill people who are in a uniform which is different from yours.
It is not OK to kill people even if it’s your job. Leave that job.
It is not OK to kill people because they are targeted.
It is not OK to kill people even if they are “collateral damage.”
It is not OK to kill people because their politics are different than yours.
Or their economics.
It is not OK to kill people because they are liberal. Or conservative.
It is not OK to kill people because they are capitalists.
Or one worlders.
Or anything else you may describe them as.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because they are rich.
It is not OK to kill people because they are poor.
It is not OK to kill people by making them poor.
It is not OK to kill people who are nationalists.
It is not OK to kill people who renounce nationalism.
It is not OK to kill people who are patriots, no matter to which country.
And it is not OK to kill people who are citizens only of the world.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because of what they do. Or did.
Or because of what they might do.
Or because of what they didn’t do.
Or because of what they won’t do.
It is not OK to kill people even if you think they deserve it.
It is not OK to kill bad people.
It is not OK to kill people who kill people.
It is not OK to kill people who won’t kill people.
It is not OK to kill people because they are in a gang.
Or not in a gang.
Or in the wrong gang.
It is not OK to kill people while breaking the law.
It is not OK to kill people while enforcing the law.
It is not OK to kill people because they are terrorists.
It is not OK to kill people, because we become the thing we are trying to kill.
It is not OK to kill people no matter who you are.
It is not OK to kill people if you are a “regular guy”.
It is not OK to kill people if you are a “big man”.
It is not OK to kill people if you are a warlord.
It is not OK to kill people if you are a religious leader.
It is not OK to kill people if you head a large corporation.
It is not OK to kill people if you head a country.
It is not OK to kill people even if you head the most powerful country on earth.
It is not OK to kill people even if you are a great international statesman.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people with your bare hands.
It is not OK to kill people with sticks and stones.
It is not OK to kill people with knives and swords.
It is not OK to kill people with guns.
It is not OK to kill people with poison.
It is not OK to kill people by medical procedure.
It is not OK to kill people with tanks.
It is not OK to kill people with lethal injections.
It is not OK to kill people with pathogens.
It is not OK to kill people with airplanes and bombs.
It is not OK to kill people with missiles.
It is not OK to kill people with drones.
It is not OK to kill people with nuclear weapons.
It is not OK to kill people with anything, no matter how creative you may be.
And it is not OK to build things to kill people.
Nor is it OK to kill people by denying them the things needed for life:
It is not OK to kill people by denying them adequate food.
It is not OK to kill people by denying them adequate health care.
It is not OK to kill people by denying them adequate shelter.
It is simply not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people for fun.
It is not OK to kill people for entertainment.
It is not OK to kill people to stand your ground.
It is not OK to kill people for revenge.
It is not OK to kill people for justice.
It is not OK to kill people for democracy.
It is not OK to kill people because you are at war.
It is not OK to kill people to keep the peace.
It is not OK to kill people in a revolution.
It is not OK to kill people for the greater good.
It is not OK to kill people.
It is not OK to kill people for profit.
It is not OK to kill people for business purposes.
It is not OK to kill people because they have something you want.
It is not OK to kill people for their land.
It is not OK to kill people for their resources.
And it is not OK to kill people because of what you have that they want, either.
It is not OK to kill people with pollution.
It is not OK to kill people by environmental destruction.
It is not OK to kill people by changing the climate.
It is not OK to kill people by killing the planet.
It is not OK to kill people. Or to kill the web of life on which people depend.
It is not OK to kill people for your own honor.
It is not OK to kill people for family honor.
It is not OK to kill people for national honor.
There is no honor in killing people.
It is not OK to kill people because of some great wrong done in the past.
It is not OK to kill people yourself.
And it is not OK to have someone else do the killing for you.
It is not OK to kill by gang.
It is not OK to kill by mob.
It is not OK to kill by thugs.
Or death squads.
Or people’s revolutionary army.
Or air force.
Or space force.
It is not OK to kill people using other groups of people.
And it is not OK to tell them it’s OK to do it.
And it is not OK to train them to do it.
And it is not OK to tell them to do it.
And it is not OK to pay them to do it.
It is not OK to pay them directly to kill.
It is not OK to pay them indirectly to kill.
It is not OK to pay taxes to kill.
It is not OK to invest in killing people.
Because it is not OK to kill people.
It is simply not OK to kill people.
Let us all agree on this one simple thing: It is not OK to kill people.
Revision Date Nov. 1, 2020. This work is not copyrighted. It may be used and abridged as needed to promote its ethic that IT IS NOT OK TO KILL PEOPLE. It may NOT be changed in any way to indicate that it might ever be OK to kill people. For more information or electronic copies contact Robert Randall, 275 Andy Tostensen Road, Brunswick, GA 31523-6204 USA; 912-399-4862; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Fr. Jim Hewes
In 1978, Frank Staropoli and I founded the Diocesan Human Life Commission, with our charter clearly being what was later called a “consistent life ethic” or a “seamless garment.”
During those years, when we tried to reach out to pro-life groups, we ordinarily didn’t find the warmest reception because of our willingness to not be just anti-abortion but also concerned about that life outside the womb. Abortion was still our paramount concern, because if one doesn’t exist, the other human rights will not come into play. Nor will people be able to promote a consistent ethic of life, or live out the non-violent teachings of Jesus, if they aren’t allowed to exist.
In addition, the pre-born were our main priority because of the magnitude of the loss of life (over one million abortions a year at that time), and because their killing was legally sanctioned.
Yet we also knew that once you stop abortions and these children are able to enter the world, we can’t allow their dignity to be compromised or their lives to be then destroyed by wars, other forms of violence, and poverty. Unfortunately, we didn’t find much receptivity with the social justice groups because of our emphasis and priority on the abortion issue.
We had many talented pro-life people come on the Human Life Commission, but they eventually left because of our spending time on other issues about life after birth. For example, we co-sponsored Fr. Dan Berrigan, who came to Rochester. Fr. Berrigan protested about nuclear concerns outside the gates of the Seneca Army Depot in a county in the Diocese, and he also stood in protest in front of Planned Parenthood in the city of Rochester.
On the other hand, we had many gifted people who worked in the social justice/peace area, who came on the Commission but also eventually left because they felt we put too much emphasis on abortion.
So one side felt that the consistent ethic of life weakens or “waters down” the importance of abortion. The other side felt there was too much emphasis on abortion, to the detriment of other important issues of life.
We believed either of these positions were misconceptions of what a consistent life ethic really meant. I find myself 40 years later still dealing with these same misconceptions and inconsistencies.
The problem is both sides have misunderstood or misused the “consistent ethic of life.”
One side, at times, misuses the consistent ethic of life by de-emphasizing the priority and paramount importance of abortion by trying to make all issues have the same importance.
The lives of 900,000 preborn children end every year in the United States from abortions. What would we think if 900,000 toddlers or 900,000 immigrants or 900,000 African American men were killed every single year? In addition, the UN estimates between 45-50 million abortions, that many pre-born children’s lives ended every year world-wide. This translates into 900,000 human individuals terminated each week. That means over 125,000 human beings are destroyed every day (plus millions of women whose lives are devastated by their abortions). How can the magnitude of that violence not dwarf every other issue by a mile, unless one holds that preborn children aren’t really human beings?
The other side emphasizes the priority and paramount importance of abortion but tends to neglect other issues. For example, what about the Iraq War, where between 100,000 to 600,000 civilians, noncombatants, were killed in acts of this war, including pregnant women and their pre-born children? What about the executive act to allow $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia to continue to bomb and kill those in Yemen, especially innocent women (some of whom may be pregnant) and children? What is really the meaning of us as pro-life people, if we help women, so they won’t have abortions but choose life, yet support a candidate who later fails to fully respond to them in their great need? Or who sends these same un-aborted lives after they grow up to be killed or kill others through violent conflicts and wars, or die because of poverty and neglect?
I’m not saying pro-life people have to be involved in every issue of life, but how much time does it take to send a letter? Or for peace and justice people to support pro-life initiatives like supporting the states to stop funding Planned Parenthood and to withhold Medicaid and other federal money from organizations that perform abortions, to cut taxpayer funding under the Title X program from any facility that performs or refers for abortions, such as Planned Parenthood; to keep in place the “Mexico City Policy,” ensuring that tax dollars will not fund the abortion industry overseas; to back a rule requiring insurers to specify which health insurance plans cover abortion; to support the conscientious objector protections for those who refuse to participate in abortion; to support that section that ended the Obamacare mandate, which forced employers to cover abortion in health insurance they offered to their employees; to push hard for the Senate to pass key legislation to protect babies (like the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born Alive Act)?
The problem is pro-life people too often give politicians a free pass on other issues of life, if they’re against abortion. Then other social justice people give a free pass to politicians who support immigration reform or health care, but vote against any legislation which would protect the pre-born.
People are inconsistent if they think that they can defend a person who takes a pro-life position on certain life issues like abortion but refuses to even acknowledge other life issues and their proper importance; or on the other hand, supports issues of peace and justice but doesn’t see the inconsistency of not offering justice and peace to the pre-born.
Later on the US Bishops would state: “This focus [on abortion] and the Church’s firm commitment to a consistent ethic of life complement each other. A consistent ethic of life, far from diminishing a concern for abortion or equating all issues touching on the dignity of human life, recognizes the distinctive character of each issue while giving each its proper role within a context of a coherent vision.” (Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, A Reaffirmation 1985 p.3-4)
Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who popularized the consistent ethic of life, in a statement entitled “Deciding for Life” on October 1, 1989, stated: “Not all values, however, are of equal weight. Some are more fundamental than others. On this Respect Life Sunday, I wish to emphasize that no earthly value is more fundamental than human life itself. Human life is the condition for enjoying freedom and all other values. Consequently, if one must choose between protecting or serving lesser human values that depend upon life for their existence and life itself, human life must take precedence.”
Cardinal Bernardin would state in one of his other presentations: “The fundamental human right is to life – from the moment of conception until death. It is the source of all other rights.” Cardinal Bernardin told the National Catholic Register in 1988, “I don’t see how you can subscribe to the consistent ethic and then vote for someone who feels that abortion is a ‘basic right’ of the individual. The consequence of that position would be an absence of legal protection for the unborn.”
Later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in their 1998 document, “Living the Gospel of Life” would affirm our approach by stating:
Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. … But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.”
Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation.
The US Bishops in “Faithful Citizenship-Forming Consciences” in 2019 would also mirror this approach by stating that all issues of life are important, but abortion is the issue of “preeminent priority.”
The members of the Diocesan Human Life Commission who eventually remained were solidly for the consistent ethic of life, with a priority on the abortion issue. I saw those that stayed become more consistent in how they viewed all issues concerning life, not just abortion.
For more of our posts from Fr. Jim Hewes, see:
For more of our posts answering criticisms of the Consistent Life Ethic, see:
by John Whitehead
While nuclear weapons haven’t been used in war for over 75 years, they’ve still killed and hurt people. Testing of nuclear weapons exposed many to radiation, with terrible health consequences. The people harmed have frequently been from different, far less powerful, ethnic groups. Nuclear weapons’ deadly effects have combined with racial injustice. Two threats to life reinforce each other.
Global Nuclear Testing: An Overview
Since the original “Trinity” test in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, nuclear weapons have been tested 2,056 times, generally to develop “effectiveness” in war.
Most tests were underground. Above-ground tests were more common in the early decades; more than 500 weapons were tested in the atmosphere. The 1963 Limited Test-Ban Treaty, which many nuclear-armed nations agreed to, banned above-ground tests. Such tests therefore fell dramatically. Above-ground testing is more likely to spread radioactive fallout, but underground testing can also.
How many people died or otherwise suffered is unknown. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, estimates hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths because of testing. While we lack exact figures, a few historical cases illustrate the harm done—and which groups were most directly harmed.
Historical Examples of Nuclear Testing
American Testing, the Marshall Islands.
The first nation to obtain nuclear weapons, the United States, is also the most frequent tester of such weapons. The U.S. conducted 1,030 nuclear tests.
Many American nuclear tests were held within the U.S., but the land of non-American, non-white people has also been used; for example, the Marshall Islands.
The Marshalls are two chains of islands in the Pacific, covering an area roughly the size of Mexico. In 1947, the United Nations made the U.S. responsible for administering the Marshalls, home to about 52,000 people. Even before this, though, the U.S. used the Marshalls as a nuclear test site.
The U.S. conducted its first test there on July 1, 1946, at Bikini Atoll. Bikini’s 167 residents were removed from their homes and were relocated repeatedly over the following years. The Bikini test was the first of 67 American nuclear tests in the Marshalls from 1946 to 1958.
The most infamous test was “Castle Bravo” on March 1, 1954. The bomb had 1,000 times the explosive force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The fallout spread over 100 miles.
Nerje Joseph, then 7, remembered witnessing the test from her home. Shortly after dawn, Joseph saw a sudden “sunrise” in the west, followed hours later by a snow-like substance falling from the sky: the bomb’s fallout.
Days after Castle Bravo, U.S. personnel began evacuating people. By that time, residents suffered from burns, vomiting, and hair falling out: symptoms of radiation poisoning.
The Castle Bravo test’s effects weren’t limited to the Marshallese. Fallout covered a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, almost 100 miles away. Many crew members became sick and one died.
Later in 1954, the Marshallese filed a protest with the United Nations, calling for an end to testing. They explained they were “not only fearful of the danger to their persons from these deadly weapons” but “also concerned for the increasing number of people removed from their land.” They filed a follow-up petition in 1956.
The American reply was “as long as there is a threat of . . . aggression, elementary prudence requires the United States to continue its tests” and assured the Marshallese “further tests are absolutely necessary for the eventual well-being of all the people of this world.” The U.N. ultimately denied the Marshallese’s petitions. Tests continued.
The Marshalls became independent in 1990, although the U.S. retains access for military purposes. The U.S. also agreed to pay compensation for the nuclear testing.
The tests’ legacy for the Marshallese include health problems such as radiation poisoning and cancer. The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimated 170 “excess” cancers, above what one would expect, could be attributed to the tests. Women reported miscarriages, stillbirths, and infertility. Almost all the children under 10 in one community exposed to Castle Bravo, including Nerje Joseph, developed thyroid problems. One child died of leukemia.
Beyond health problems, the Marshallese must cope with environmental pollution, displacement, and disruptions of their traditional way of life. Joseph comments, “We had a oneness . . . We worked together, we ate together, we played together. That has been lost.”
Soviet Testing in Kazakhstan.
The other leading nuclear power, the Soviet Union, conducted the second-most tests: 715 from 1949 to 1990. Over 400 Soviet tests were conducted in eastern Kazakhstan. While Kazakhs are ethnically distinct from the Russians who dominated Soviet politics, Kazakhstan had been under Russian control since pre-Soviet times.
Soviet testing included an August 1956 test that caused 600 people in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk, about 250 miles away, to be hospitalized for radiation sickness. Soviet authorities set up a clinic to treat test-affected people. Those treated weren’t told what ailed them. After the U.S.S.R collapsed and Kazakhstan became independent, some clinic records were destroyed or taken back to Russia.
Kazakhs struggled with a multitude of health problems in the decades since nuclear testing ended. In the 1990s, one in three children in the testing region had physical or mental problems. The Children’s Hospital in Almaty, a major Kazakh city, treated 50 to 100 children a month with ailments that could have been caused by radiation.
Valentina Nikonchik remembers playing outside when the military tested a thermonuclear device on August 12, 1953. She heard a deafening sound and fainted. Years later, she developed thyroid and heart problems.
Eliugazy Nurgaliev was among 43 men in his village exposed. “Suddenly the sky turned red and a big red storm gathered above our village. We lost our minds,” he recalls. Some men died not long after. Others developed radiation-related illnesses. Nurgaliev survived but his parents died of cancer and three of his children were stillborn or died in infancy.
Yevmagbetova Sandigul comments, “I remember as a child being out alone in the street once when the sky turned purple-gray and there was a strange wind. Later, people complained of headaches. Everyone said it was a bomb.” Sandigul later suffered from weak heart walls, which doctors attributed to genetic damage. “Everyone had someone in the family with problems,” she says. “Babies were born in our village with tails.”
Identifying precisely which illnesses resulted from testing is complicated. Diseases such as cancer are common; not every case is caused by radiation. Also, the sheer number of environmental problems in Kazakhstan make causes of health problems hard to pinpoint.
Yet scientific studies suggest testing’s health effects. A 2002 study analyzed DNA from multiple generations in Beskaragai, a town with significant radiation doses. Those directly exposed to tests had double the rate of mutation in their germ lines—DNA in sperm and eggs—compared to controls. In 2018, researchers reported the risk of hypertension among people whose parents had lived in areas exposed to radiation increased according to how much radiation their parents received.
French Tests in Polynesia and Algeria.
France conducted 210 tests from 1960 to 1996.
Most were in French Polynesia, archipelagoes in the south-central Pacific. A former French colony, the Polynesian islands gained domestic political autonomy by the mid-20th century but remained affiliated with France. In the 1960s, France began a nuclear testing program there , centered on the uninhabited, relatively isolated islands of Moruroa and Fangataufa.
The test sites’ isolation didn’t contain the nuclear blasts’ effects. Declassified French government documents later revealed a July 17, 1974 test spread fallout across the whole of French Polynesia. It exposed Tahiti to 500 times the maximum accepted radiation level.
Jean-Claude Hervieux, an electrician who worked on the French nuclear tests, saw the tests’ impact on Polynesians. Hervieux remembers, “A local teacher said children were sick and vomiting. . . Mothers were asking why their children’s hair was falling out.”
Later research pointed to health damage. A study of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 1984 and 2002 found a “significant statistical relationship” between cancer and exposure to the nuclear tests. In 2006, a French medical research group found an increase in cancer among those close to the tests. Bruno Barillot, who investigated the tests for the French Polynesian government, identified them as causing high levels of thyroid cancers and leukemia.
Another set of nuclear tests took place before the Polynesian tests. The first French nuclear weapon detonated, four times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, was tested on February 1, 1960, in the Algerian desert. Algeria was then a French colony, but tests continued after Algerian independence. From 1960 to 1962, France conducted 17 nuclear tests in Algeria.
One notable incident was the underground “Beryl” test in May 1962, which went wrong and spread radiation above ground. Hussein Dakhal, from a nearby village, remembers “I heard the explosion. Since then, life has changed for us . . . unknown diseases and health problems started to emerge.”
Algerians suffered from radioactive debris left at the test sites. Remains of equipment such as remote-controlled towers for detonating the bombs or trucks left in the blast area to test the bombs’ power became sources of scrap metal for locals. They used this for building materials, jewelry, or even kitchen utensils, unaware of the danger.
The French Ministry of Defense estimates 27,000 Algerians were affected. Abdul Kadhim al-Aboudi, an Algerian professor of nuclear physics, estimates test-affected people at 60,000.
In 2010, France passed a law to provide compensation to people harmed by French nuclear testing. Compensation has been paid out slowly and sparingly.
British Tests in Australia.
Britain conducted 45 tests from 1952 to 1991.
In 1950, the British government reached an agreement with Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies to conduct nuclear tests there; Australia’s parliament wasn’t consulted. The British conducted 12 nuclear tests from 1952 to 1957. Most were held at two South Australia sites called Maralinga and Emu Field.
Tests were conducted with little regard for the indigenous communities. A single “native patrol officer” was to inform locals, across an almost 39,000 square mile area, about the tests’ dangers. Another officer wrote his superiors to complain this officer was “placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”
A test of a 9.1 kiloton bomb, on October 15, 1953, sent radioactive debris 15,000 feet into the air, spreading fallout over a wide area. This reached Walatina camp, an indigenous community. Lalli Lennon recalls, “It rumbled, the ground shook, it was frightening.” Her husband Stan remember the fallout as “sort of hazy, like a fog or something.” Lalli and her children later developed fevers, headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When the British finished their Australian testing, they assured the Australian government all plutonium had been buried. Australian authorities later discovered huge numbers of plutonium-contaminated materials were still there.
An Australian Institute of Criminology report concluded: “In addition to British scientific and military personnel, thousands of Australians were exposed to radiation produced by the tests . . . These included not only those involved in supporting the British testing program, but also Aboriginal people living downwind of the test sites, and other Australians more distant who came into contact with airborne radioactivity.”
Britain eventually paid compensation to the Australian government and indigenous people. The Australian authorities also paid compensation to indigenous communities.
Chinese Testing in Xinjiang.
China conducted 45 tests from 1964 to 1996. All were held at Lop Nur, in Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province. Xinjiang is home to ethnic groups other than China’s Han majority, such as Uighurs and Kazakhs.
Publicly available information about Chinese nuclear testing is limited. In 2008, the Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs made the cryptic announcement that government payments to veterans and families of dead military personnel would include money for “some military personnel and civilians” involved in nuclear tests. Japanese physicist Jun Takada, who wrote a book on Chinese nuclear testing, calculated the peak radiation dose generated by testing exceeded that measured on the roof of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor after its 1986 meltdown.
We can’t draw conclusions on Chinese nuclear testing’s effects. However, the pattern of testing elsewhere has been to harm people close to the testing sites. The tests’ location in a region with a large ethnic minority population (whom Chinese authorities have often treated brutally) suggests how testing may have unfolded.
Harming the Vulnerable
Various nuclear-armed nations tested their weapons in places far removed from their homelands or centers of political power. Nuclear weapons’ deadly effects fell on the some of the least powerful people within those nations’ spheres of influence. Nuclear testing reinforced and worsened existing racial and ethnic inequalities.
Nuclear-armed nations can take specific steps to make amends for their past actions. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which prohibits any nuclear weapons testing, has already been signed and ratified by 168 nations, including Russia, France, and Britain. The U.S. and China have signed but not ratified it. Ratifying the CTBT and encouraging others to is a good goal for the new Biden administration.
Nuclear-armed nations can take steps to repair the damage, including providing full information on the tests’ effects. An independent agency or tribunal, perhaps with the United Nations, should evaluate this information and decide what full and adequate compensation might be. Certainly part of appropriate compensation is cleaning up any remaining environmental contamination.
Nuclear weapons ultimately threaten all humanity. However, over the past 75 years, they’ve disproportionately harmed those already vulnerable because of larger inequalities. Threats to human life connect in insidious ways.
For more of our posts on nuclear weapons, see:
Nukes and the Pro-Life Christian: A Conservative Takes a Second Look at the Morality of Nuclear Weapons
by Rachel MacNair
My great-grandfather was born a Quaker, but when he married my great-grandmother, he converted to being Methodist for her sake. His parents were Quakers, and once I took an interest in genealogy, I found that, through them I had Quaker ancestors (that is, members of the Religious Society of Friends) going all the way back to the 1600s. The line got broken, and I picked it up again when I was 14.
My great-grandfather’s father, Hiram Bennet Matthews, was one of those Quakers who thought during the U.S. Civil War that he had to choose between conflicting values: being against war or against slavery. He was one of many Friends who felt this as a quandary at the time. A more famous one was William Jackson Palmer, who became a general and later founded Colorado Springs.
I say to my great-great grandfather: we’ve now traveled in the time machine to see what ended up happening. It’s over 150 years later.
The first few decades after the Civil War, we had sharecropping, plus loitering laws – being imprisoned for being unemployed, and then put to involuntary labor. We had terrorizing and Jim Crow laws. Lynchings were done as public spectacles.
The Civil Rights Movement was an outburst of nonviolence after many decades of nonviolent resistance. It had many great achievements. But it didn’t solve the problem entirely.
Now it’s over 150 years later, and we had an event that brought these points to mind for me: the flag of the Confederacy unfurled through the halls of the U.S. Congress during a riot there – January 6, 2021.
Hiram, your great-great granddaughter still needs to go to protests of police officers killing Black Americans and otherwise targeting them with intense brutality. Along with many other struggles against racism. Over 150 years later.
The violence of the Civil War, including the intense destructiveness of Sherman’s March to the Sea, and all the hatred this generated has been transmitted through many, many generations. Nonviolent action has blunted much of it, but the amount of violence was so overwhelming that the task of genuine freedom for those whose ancestors were enslaved is still not entirely achieved.
Though the war brought about an official government-ordered end to slavery, in the form of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, more quickly than the slow action of nonviolence would have, the historical evidence is more consistent with the idea that genuine freedom for African Americans might actually have been delayed by that war.
Indeed, the 13th Amendment didn’t even abolish slavery, since it made an exception for those convicted of a crime. Just in 2020, voters in Nebraska and Utah finally got rid of that exception in their state constitutions, but it’s still in several other state constitutions.
We can’t run history over again to see how things might have turned out had those Quakers stuck to pacifism and put their lives on the line in nonviolent actions instead of military ones. History is complicated.
But what we do know is that the sense of a quandary was badly over-simplified. The idea that a war would end slavery didn’t pan out.
For more of our posts on nonviolence against war, see:
For more of our posts on police brutality, see:
For more of our posts on consequences of war, see:
by Katharine Gilchrist
Consistent ethic advocate Angela Kennedy has died at the age of 57 (November 26, 2020). She was the editor of the anthology Swimming against the Tide: Feminist Dissent on the Issue of Abortion (1997), which covered the topic of the consistent life ethic. Angela leaves behind her daughter Stevie and son Sean.
Her passion for many of the issues closest to her heart was informed by a succession of difficult life experiences. She faced many challenges and fought them with a fierceness that was an inspiration.
Her background in nursing informed her opposition to abortion. She also experienced two unplanned pregnancies – her two children could not have had a better mother. From nursing she went on to a career in health and safety, ending up as a sociologist before having to give up paid work because of her failing health and family responsibilities.
Angela was very aware of unfashionable issues. She made connections that other people sometimes missed. Back in the 1990s, people who raised the issue of discrimination against fat people were not always taken seriously. Too often, it was seen as a joke. Angela, however, knew that such discrimination had real effects on the lives of people who deserved better.
A long-term vegetarian, she campaigned vociferously against breed specific legislation. Some dogs who never attacked anyone are sentenced to death because of vague legislation about their supposed ancestry. This is cruel and absurd.
The long-term illness of Angela’s beloved daughter Stevie was the inspiration behind her work on ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). To put it simply, the supposed experts were suggesting that ME/CFS patients would respond to treatments that would work for depressed people, such as therapy and exercise. Those experts did not take kindly to criticism from the likes of Angela. They would often brand all their critics as shrill and abusive, which was both untrue and unfair. This led Angela to write the book, Authors of Our Own Misfortune? The Problems with Psychogenic Explanations for Physical Illnesses (2012).
Recent developments in clinical guidelines very much suggest that Angela and her fellow campaigners will be fully vindicated.
For many years, Angela was an active member of the Labour Party. Unfortunately, her commitment to fairness was not matched by that of the party as a whole. Angela’s health deteriorated and her landlord evicted her and her adult children.
This led to a dreadful couple of years, in which Angela, Stevie, and Sean were placed in temporary accommodation whilst their local council (led by Labour politicians) refused to help them. The council repeatedly refused to provide even basic accommodation that was suitable for Angela and Stevie’s disabilities, whilst trying to trap them in a bureaucratic nightmare of endless form-filling and bombarding them with hostile comments. Their council was supposed to provide vulnerable people with suitable accommodation.
Their local Member of Parliament, also representing the Labour Party, refused to help. Even their local branch of the Labour Party ignored their plight. This suggests to me that not everyone who claims to want a better world is sincere. Angela, however, really did want to make things better.
Despite her dire situation, Angela tried to keep her spirits up and completed many lovely cross-stitch patterns. She simply never gave up.
Unfortunately, the medical profession gave up on her. Angela ended up in hospital, seriously ill, where she contracted Covid-19. Against her wishes and those of Stevie and Sean, her life support was switched off.
This is, of course, a scenario that many disabled people fear. The UK government will not guarantee a “right to live” for those who those who fear being written off by biased able-bodied people.
This is not the ending to Angela’s story that any of her friends could have anticipated a few years ago. We would prefer to remember her as lively and healthy and full of plans.
by Tara Zoe Roshe (pen name), republished with permission from her Medium blog
I am a disabled woman with rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that attacks the joints. I use a walker or a wheelchair in my daily life but was able-bodied a short 10 years ago. Over the past few years, my physical condition has gotten progressively worse.
Assisted suicide has become legal in many parts of the United States. This makes me worry about where the medical field is heading.
Legalized assisted suicide and killing the disabled
My home state of New Jersey has legalized assisted suicide. The law is limited, but as we know, over time, the government tends to expand the rules about who qualifies for assisted suicide.
Canada has a law providing the option of euthanasia to those with terminal illnesses. Over 78% of euthanasia victims gave “loss of ability” as their reason for wanting to die. The 2019 report on Canadian euthanasia supports my statement that the loss of physical ability to do things, not pain or other symptoms, was the most common reason cited.
Under the law, a disabled person wanting to die only has to go through an approval process and request that a doctor kill them.
Now, a bill has been put forward in Canada, which will, if passed, make it even easier. Doctors would be allowed to perform euthanasia on disabled or chronically ill people upon request.
The only requirement is that the illness or disability be progressive. Under the bill, if I lived in Canada, I would be eligible to be killed by a doctor upon my request.
In the Netherlands, assisted suicide was first legalized for only the terminally ill, but it is now legal for those with disabilities and mental illnesses who are physically healthy. For example, this 29-year old who suffered from depression just died by assisted suicide.
Is the United States going to travel down the same road as Canada and the Netherlands? Will assisted suicide be legalized for those with disabilities in the future?
Disabled people sometimes seek mental health care for depression or other mental illnesses. How will the legalization of assisted suicide affect this mental health care? How will doctors’ willingness to help end lives that they assume are “not worth living” affect the way they care for disabled people?
Doctors and the value of disabled peoples’ lives
We already know that many doctors don’t see the value of disabled people’s lives. This is evident in how disabled people with COVID were denied care in Oregon, with some dying as a result.
In hospitals in Oregon, disabled people were denied respirators. They were refused admission to intensive care units. They were pressured into signing DNR (do not resuscitate) orders, even when they were cognitively disabled and didn’t understand what the forms meant.
One disabled woman died of COVID after the hospital refused to treat her, even though she had a legal directive saying that she wanted to receive intensive care. Her caregiver tried to intervene, but the hospital still refused to treat the woman. And she died.
Caregivers brought a paralyzed man to the hospital, only to have hospital workers say (in front of him) that they didn’t want to waste a COVID test on him. They wanted the caregivers to take him home to die. The doctors told the caregivers that the man had no “quality of life.”
The caregivers successfully got the hospital to admit the man, but the hospital discharged him with orders to his nursing home to stop feeding him and to let him starve to death. Fortunately, the workers at the nursing home ignored this order.
Why do doctors see such little value in disabled peoples’ lives? Author, researcher, and doctor John Wyatt wrote in his book Matters of Life & Death: Human Dilemmas in the Light of the Christian Faith that most doctors:
have little first-hand experience of the lives of children and adults with disability. Hence, their understanding of the lives of disabled people is mainly drawn from the medical literature, especially standard medical textbooks.
There is a strong tendency for health professionals to list and emphasize the precise medical and functional impairments associated with a particular diagnosis, without counterbalancing emphasis on the abilities and positive features of the lives of people with the condition…
There is accumulating evidence that health professionals consistently undervalue the quality of life of the disabled . . ..compared with parents and with the individuals themselves.
Wyatt cites a study that backs up his claims.
Legalized assisted suicide only reinforces doctors’ beliefs that disabled people have lives that aren’t worth living.
What type of medical care will I get?
RA is a progressive disease, and I wonder what type of health care I will receive as I get older and become more severely disabled.
RA can, in fact, become terminal if it attacks the heart or other organs. I wonder if I will ever be pressured to accept assisted suicide. Even more so, I wonder whether I will get the same suicide prevention services as an able-bodied person if I need them.
A disabled person is given suicide advice, not suicide prevention
Recently in New Zealand, there was a case where a young woman named Claire Freeman, who was wheelchair-bound and in chronic pain, in a similar situation as mine, attempted suicide. She went into a mental hospital. She told the psychologist who was assigned to her that she wanted to die.
Instead of treating Freeman’s depression and counseling her against suicide, the doctor suggested she travel to Switzerland to a suicide clinic and kill herself there.
Every able-bodied patient in that hospital was being told not to kill themselves and receiving therapy and medication to treat their suicidal feelings. But a person in a wheelchair was encouraged, by her own doctor, to kill herself.
I realized that a lot of the advice I had been given, like from the psychologist and from a psychiatrist who saw me after an earlier suicide attempt, was because they were looking at me and just seeing the disability.
“They were not saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on in your life? Are you working too much? Are you in too much pain?’
None of those questions were asked, it was just, ‘Of course she wants to die, she’s in a wheelchair, she’s in pain.’
Freeman changed her mind about suicide and is now glad to be alive.
My own struggles with suicide
Due to my bipolar disorder, I have sometimes struggled with suicidal feelings. In my 20s, I spent time in a mental hospital. I was young and physically able-bodied then. I didn’t develop RA until I was in my 30s.
The doctors were determined to prevent my suicide and worked with me to overcome those thoughts and feelings. I can’t help but wonder if I ever need to go into the hospital again, will I be treated the same way now that I am in a wheelchair?
Maybe I would today, but what about 10 years from now, when my disability is even more severe? What about 20 years from now?
Now, if someone is actively suicidal, they can be placed in a mental hospital, even against their will, and given treatment. A person can also voluntarily seek treatment for suicidal feelings.
If I seek treatment in the future, will doctors encourage me to live or help me die?
The existence of euthanasia and assisted suicide makes my struggles harder.
Every time I read a story about a disabled person who was euthanized in another country, it hurts me on a personal level. It makes me angry that people didn’t see the value in their life.
It makes me afraid that others won’t see the value of mine.
Sometimes it makes me wonder if my life really does have value. If so many people believe that a person like me isn’t worth keeping alive, maybe I’m not.
The sanction given to disabled people’s suicides confirms my deepest fears- that I’m not valuable or important, that I’m not worthy of life. Resisting these dark feelings can be hard when I’m in the depths of depression.
Depression lies to you.
It distorts your thinking. It tells you you aren’t deserving of help or love. It tells you, you are worthless. It tells you no one cares.
The existence of assisted suicide reinforces these lies.
When I’m already struggling with suicidal feelings and consider killing myself through assisted suicide, it feels like society has given me permission to do so. It sends the message that suicide is a reasonable answer to my depression, physical condition, and pain.
This makes my suicidal feelings stronger.
Assisted suicide affects disabled people just by being available to other disabled people.
I am now a disability rights activist in the fight against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Not Dead Yet is an organization of disabled people that sees the threat inherent in legalizing assisted suicide.
I found supportive people when I became involved in the pro-life movement. Specifically, the wing that holds to the consistent life ethic.
The consistent life ethic is a philosophy that all human life is valuable, and that killing, unless (some woul add) in extreme cases of self-defense, is always wrong. Those who adhere to this ethic oppose war, the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion.
Any threat to human life is something to oppose.
The people I’ve met through my activism value the lives of disabled people. They value my life. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had among my fellow activists. They are (peaceful) warriors who fight alongside me against the ethic that devalues lives like mine.
I am grateful to have found a community of friends who value all lives, even disabled ones, and grateful that so many people are with me when I speak up for the value of my life and other disabled people’s.
We deserve suicide prevention, not suicide assistance.
We deserve to be treated the same way as able-bodied people by the medical community.
We need to continue advocating for ourselves and others.
For more of our posts on this topic, see:
Figuring out Euthanasia: What Does it Really Mean?
by John Whitehead
Among the many challenges Joseph Biden will face as the new president of the United States is how to handle the American relationship with Russia. US-Russian relations have now deteriorated to a level of mutual hostility comparable to that during the Cold War. Hostility between nations is always a serious concern for peace activists, and hostility between the nations with the largest nuclear weapons arsenals on the planet is cause for special concern. Failure to manage US-Russian relations properly could lead, at best, to a waste of resources on a costly rivalry, and, at worst, to global catastrophe.
In the past, I have argued for pursuing various diplomatic solutions to some of the issues underlying the US-Russian conflict. These underlying issues include provocative American military policies and the Ukrainian civil war. However, after more than 20 years of worsening relations brought about variously by NATO expansion and other hawkish American policies, as well as Russian policies such as military intervention in Ukraine and cyber espionage in the United States, I am afraid that such major diplomatic achievements are improbable today. I think peace activists must set more modest, realistic goals for US-Russian relations.
While the two nations’ relationship is unlikely to improve significantly soon, the Biden administration can at least take some steps to prevent the relationship from deteriorating further. Such steps could lay the foundation for future diplomatic resolutions. Peace activists should lobby the Biden administration to pursue these measures while also pursuing at least one of them independently of government action.
I would identify at least four broad, important but achievable, goals that the Biden administration and peace activists should work toward in the weeks and months ahead.
Arms control. The New START Treaty, which places limits on American and Russian nuclear weapons, will expire on February 5, 2021. Following the United States’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (during George W. Bush’s administration) and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (during Donald Trump’s administration), START remains the last nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia still in effect. The Trump administration has consistently delayed renewing START.
START I signed 1991; Start II signed 2010
If the START Treaty collapses, Russia and the United States will each have new opportunities to build up their nuclear weapons stockpiles, a situation that could lead to a costly and dangerous new nuclear arms race.
START can be renewed for up to five years. Biden may well plan to renew the START Treaty for at least part of that period, and the Russians would likely also agree to an extension. These signs are encouraging, and the new administration should make renewing the treaty for the full five years a top priority during their first weeks in office. Peace activists should raise their voices in favor of full renewal.
Also, as Joseph Cirincione of the Quincy Institute and Yuval Weber of the Marine Corps University have each pointed out, renewing START not only can head off an arms race but might also serve as part of a larger process of the United States re-committing to other international agreements in which Russia also has an interest. The Open Skies Treaty, which allowed the United States and Russia (among other nations) to fly over each other’s territory for intelligence-gathering purposes, is one such agreement. Others are the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and the Paris Climate Accords, both of which Biden is likely to seek to re-join.
Rules for cyberspace. Nations have spied on each other from time immemorial. This has been the case with the United States and Russia and will presumably continue to be so for the foreseeable future. What is crucial is that each side expects the other side’s espionage and that at least unofficial procedures exist for responding to such espionage without dangerously escalating hostilities.
All these principles for dealing with espionage similarly apply to the comparatively new practice of one nation hacking another’s information technology systems, whether to gain information or to commit sabotage. Hacking has been a particularly charged issue in US-Russian relations, given the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee by Russian intelligence officers and the more recent hacking of US government agencies and private businesses that was also attributed to Russia.
That Russia and the United States would mutually agree never to hack into each other’s institutions is too much to hope for. We can, however, hope that each side will continue to invest in its own cybersecurity to guard against future hacking and will develop appropriate practices for responding to successful hacking by the other side. The response should ideally be some measured penalty—condemnation, symbolic sanctions against offending individuals, even limited expulsion of the offending side’s officials—that signals the injured nation’s discontent with the hacking but doesn’t unduly ratchet up tensions.
The Biden administration should seek to improve US government cybersecurity and to establish procedures to govern the inevitable back-and-forth of international espionage and sabotage in cyberspace. One measure recommended by George Beebe, of the Center for the National Interest, is to invest in non-digital backups for crucial systems, such as those for power generation, vote tabulation, or weapons command and control. Such backups will not only reduce the risk of cyber-sabotage but also reduce the risk of the United States responding to such sabotage in a dangerously disproportionate way. Biden and his team should reject proposals to retaliate to Russian hacking with measures that could cause serious harm to Russia or Russian interests and are likely to invite further retaliation in turn.
Routine governmental communication. While some major US-Russian diplomatic breakthrough might be far off, that is no reason for the two nations not to have regular communication. Matthew Rojansky of the Kennan Institute and Michael Kimmage of the Catholic University of America recommend promoting mid-level communication between the Russian and American governments. Officials within the US State Department and Russian Foreign Ministry should stay in touch with each other, as should those within the US Defense Department and Russian Defense Ministry. Routine communication ensures that each nation is better informed on what the other is doing.
This is especially important when it comes to the behavior of each nation’s military. Regular communication avoids surprises and accidents and makes military exercises or other activities less likely to be interpreted as hostile actions. Such communication also builds working relationships among government officials on both sides.
Building relationships. In addition to communication between American and Russian officials, communication among private citizens in both nations can contribute to a more stable relationship. This is another approach recommended by Rojansky and Kimmage. Building relationships among a variety of civil society organizations—artistic, professional, religious, scientific—in each nation can help foster understanding and remove negative attitudes between Americans and Russians. Some of this international cooperation at the civil society-level might have a positive influence on policy at the governmental level.
Once the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control, this kind of relationship building can involve visits by Americans and Russians to each other’s nations. Until then, the necessary communication can take place virtually. The Biden administration should encourage cultural exchanges of this kind, but such exchanges need not wait on government initiative. Private American and Russian organizations should pursue relationship building on their own—and peace groups should be at the forefront of such efforts.
The Future Peace Agenda
To these relatively specific goals, I would add a broader one for peace activists to bear in mind: avoiding US-Russian conflict and promoting stable relations between these two nations must be a top priority. Peace and social justice activists should regard this cause as being as important and worthy of attention, time, and energy as preventing war between the United States and Iran, ending the war in Yemen, reducing military spending, or countering climate change. We should always be on the lookout for new ways to promote peaceful coexistence between the two nations.
Future US-Russia relations will have a crucial impact on the peace and even survival of the world. Preventing escalating hostilities between the United States and Russia is imperative. The steps I have outlined above offer a way to begin this vital work.
For more of our posts relating to nuclear weapons, see:
Nukes and the Pro-Life Christian: A Conservative Takes a Second Look at the Morality of Nuclear Weapons
by Sarah Terzo
Lindsey and April Woods lost their daughter Remy to a miscarriage in the second trimester. Remy was diagnosed in utero with 45x/46xy, a rare disorder that can cause severe disabilities. April and Lindsey refused abortion.
April recalls a conversation with the doctors:
At one point I asked “What’s worst-case scenario here” because prior to speaking to them we did not know the actual condition, so we did not realize how serious it could be. The genetic counselor said, “It depends on what you consider worst-case” which is something that sticks with me because I thought the answer was obvious – not having our child survive – but still had to say it as they waited for an answer.
April and Lindsey were devastated to learn in a subsequent appointment that Remy’s heart had stopped beating. Lindsey had to be induced. The couple decided they wanted to bury Remy and hold a funeral.
Doctors dehumanized their daughter by calling her “tissue” repeatedly. April writes:
I heard the word tissue many times that day. When we said we wanted to bury Remy we were told that they had to send the tissue to the lab to confirm they took out what they said they did. Every time I asked about the policy, they kept referring to her as tissue despite me continuously saying “baby.” Every time I said baby in a sentence, they responded with the word tissue in its place.
The couple’s grief was made worse by the hospital’s attitude:
It made us disgusted that they could refer to our baby, who we just learned we lost a couple of hours prior, as tissue. Their care lacked basic human decency as they refused to acknowledge our loss of our child. We were crying and trying to wrap our minds around how we were going to tell our sons there was no longer a baby sibling in mommy’s belly, and to hear the hospital employees say tissue over and over again like we had not lost our hopes and dreams made us feel like they were almost judging us for wanting to bury our daughter. It made the worst day of our lives ever worse because in that moment, every time they said tissue, it felt like we were completely alone in our grief.
But the worst was yet to come.
While Lindsey was still asleep from anesthesia, April prepared to take Remy’s body to the funeral home. The hospital forced her to carry the remains of her child away in a bright orange biohazard bucket. April says:
A nurse approached me while I was in the waiting room. She looked like a deer in headlights and was doing her best to look me in the eye while she asked: Did anyone explain to you what exactly you’ll be taking home with you today? She told me that our baby was in a bucket. A bio-hazard bucket. I could not picture what they were about to hand me, but I didn’t want to walk down the hall with my dead child in a bucket that said BIOHAZARD and asked if there was anything else to put our baby in so I wasn’t carrying my dead baby in a bucket down their hall . . . It seemed so off – so horrid it seemed unreal that they would hand someone a bucket with their dead child and expect them to carry the bucket the entire distance of their long hallway that I really could not fully grasp the situation. She said she talked to a supervisor who said it had to be this way.
I asked to at least put the bucket in a bag, or something, because I couldn’t bear the thought of carrying a marked bucket down the hall.
The hospital gave April a Home Goods plastic bag, and April carried Remy to her car, in the bucket, with the plastic bag wrapped around it.
April, a newly bereaved parent, was forced to cope with the hospital’s refusal to acknowledge the humanity of her child. The hospital viewed Remy not as the precious, unique, and valuable human being she was, but as medical waste.
Because preborn children are so dehumanized in our society, where thousands of them die daily in abortion, we should not be surprised that hospital staff members consider them only medical waste and not people. This grieving couple had their pain greatly magnified by hospital staff.
The story illustrates how abortion can hurt even those who don’t choose it. The dehumanization of April and Lindsey’s baby may well be a result of the way our society views preborn babies, which is a result of legalized abortion. Staff members at the hospital dehumanized Remy because to them, she was just tissue, like the 3,000 preborn babies who are aborted daily.
They didn’t acknowledge Remy’s humanity, or the fact that she was a unique, precious human being – a human being who was greatly loved.
When April arrived at the funeral home, the staff there treated Remy’s body with respect and dignity. Remy was buried in Reidy Cemetery in Wallaceton, PA, and the Woods are now doing a GoFundMe to raise funds for a headstone.
We love you Remy, and I’m so, so sorry that I couldn’t stop this from happening to you. I can only hope that by sharing how you were treated we can change how others are treated.
We can hope that those who read this story will try to influence medical providers to be more sensitive, and that any medical workers who read this article will realize how hurtful their attitudes toward preborn babies can be to bereaved parents. By going public, April and Lindsey hope to raise awareness of the despicable way miscarried babies are treated. But in a culture that dehumanizes preborn babies on a massive scale, changing the way these babies are viewed by doctors and hospital workers will be difficult.
For our posts on similar topics, see:
The 117th U.S. Congress started on January 3, 2021.
Reminder: Opinions are those of the author and aren’t official for the Consistent Life Network as an organization.
by Rachel MacNair
My mind isn’t of the lobbying sort; my mind is of the conflict-resolution sort. This mainly means looking at the interests people have, rather than merely butting up against their hardened positions. The ideal is to then come up with creative solutions that address everyone’s interests. Failing that, we can at least have a good horse-trade in which each side gets what it most cherishes and isn’t quite as concerned about what it was that they gave up.
Some of these ideas don’t really have a chance, and I offer them to speak in a moral prophet’s voice. Others might be quite workable or could be developed into something workable.
U.S. Congressional Legislation
Title X Funding
Title X provides funding for family planning. A rule that recipients couldn’t do or refer for abortions finally went into effect a couple of years ago, and Planned Parenthood has accordingly turned down Title X money for its own program.
Democrats have never liked this rule. Since it was put in place by executive order, it can be taken out the same way. Rescinding the rule will probably be among the earlier acts of a Biden administration.
But since the family planning funding is what’s most dear to most Democrats, and the rule that it not go to abortion is most important to many Republicans, how about this: triple the amount of funding for Title X, in exchange for having the rule about no abortions in the legislation.
This solidifies the rule, rather than having it go back and forth depending on which party is in power. Will Democrats give up a chance to triple the family planning funds for the sake of abortion?
Community Health Centers
Both Republicans and Democrats support Community Health Centers, and it’s already in the CHC’s legal definition that they don’t do abortions. Funding more of them is therefore a workable way to increase healthcare access, one that a gridlocked Congress may be able to do.
Republicans can be further incentivized if some CHC locations can be near to the 69 Planned Parenthood locations that currently have no CHCs within five miles. This provides competition for PP. It also takes away from them the argument that they need tax dollars because they serve in under-served areas, since the areas wouldn’t be under-served any more.
Making Hyde Permanent
The Hyde Amendment bars federal Medicaid dollars from paying for most abortions. It’s a rider every year. It’s a life-saving measure, as shown in studies. It’s helpful to low-income women as well, since it removes some of the pressures to abort.
While Joseph Biden used to support it, he changed his mind last year when running for president. The 2020 Democratic platform calls for repealing it. Election results show this unlikely in the Senate. Still, it’s quite close, and far more precarious than it’s ever been since it first passed.
We really need a permanent Hyde provision, in legislation that doesn’t require annual renewal. Dealing with Medicaid, Hyde is in the health care realm, and Democrats may be keener on passing something toward health care reform than they are on dispensing with the Hyde principle. They could try to pass something Republicans could tolerate – say, lowering the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.
I put that in terms of what Democrats and Republicans could tolerate for a bargain, but of course there are plenty of us that would see both sides of the bargain as progress and a delight.
The International Community
Members of the U.S. Congress and the new president are unlikely to consider these, but we should be aware these are out there, with many nations having ratified:
United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty has already been ratified by more than 50 nations, and is therefore going into effect this coming January 22. Nations that actually have nuclear weapons are, unfortunately, ignoring it.
OHCHR | Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This aims for the abolition of the death penalty. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly December 15, 1989. The Republic of Kazakhstan was the 88th nation to sign, and did so September 23, 2020.
A New Anti-Coercion Constitutional Amendment
We need to abolish slavery entirely by removing the exception for those convicted of a crime. Last November, Nebraskans voted to remove it from their state constitution by 63%, and Utahans did so by 80%. Back in 2018, Coloradoans did so by 66%. Ten states still have this exception to outright slavery in their constitutions.
But the exception is also in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Meanwhile, there are two horrendous court decisions that, unlike Roe v. Wade, everyone pretty much agrees now were horrendous: Buck v. Bell, and Korematsu.
The ruling in Buck v. Bell essentially said it was fine to coerce eugenic sterilizations. Laws allowing for this are all gone now, and the ruling is currently widely held in disdain. But this and other forms of reproductive violence against those with disabilities, and targeted to certain ethnic groups, are still not countered by constitutional protection.
Korematsu allowed the U.S. government to intern Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during World War II. In a remark in another case, Chief Justice John Roberts said it was “gravely wrong on the day it was decided” and that it has been “overruled in the court of history.” Many people interpreted this as overruling the case, but this is ambiguous. Roberts’ point was to say that neither Korematsu nor the revulsion against it applied to the case at hand.
Neither of these two cases is as firmly overturned as needed. There are only indications they’re no longer regarded as precedent. The court can’t just overturn a ruling because it takes a notion to, but has to do so based on a case in front of it.
The cases aren’t coming because no one takes those rulings seriously any more. Overturning them isn’t controversial. It just can’t be done without a pertinent case – or a constitutional amendment.
What all three problems have in common is that they’re forms of coercion – slavery for those committed of a crime, involuntary sterilization, incarceration because the government decides an entire ethnic group is a war-time threat. They all have racism in their very foundations. Buck v. Bell also includes bigotry against people with disabilities (or, in this particular case, working-class people sloppily understood to have disabilities).
Therefore, all three could fit in one theme. There was already a a joint resolution which was introduced last December, calling on the U.S. Senate and House to craft an amendment saying “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude may be imposed as a punishment for a crime.” This is likely to be introduced again this coming session. Therefore, it’s realistic to think that at least there may be legislation on the first problem alone that we can advocate on, and that in itself would be good. Whether adding on ways of overturning the two court decisions, when there’s pretty much a consensus that they should be overturned, is something to think about.
As you can see above, these are generated under brainstorming rules. The ideas may be followed up on. They may generate other ideas to be followed up on. Or they may serve as nothing more than social commentary on what our legislators could do but won’t. Anyone who has any other ideas, please put them below in the comments, and/or send them to: email@example.com.
For related posts, see:
by Rachel MacNair
Widespread plagues have been a part of the human condition throughout history. Therefore, it stands to reason traces of them can be found in a holiday season often used to help people cope and be resilient.
It’s a Wonderful Life
When George Bailey was still a boy, one of the ways he made a difference was in helping his employer, the pharmacist Mr. Gower, by keeping him from sending poison rather than medicine.
Why was Mr. Gower so frazzled? He’d just received a telegram that his son had died of influenza. Since that was in 1919, that would be the pandemic that killed over 50 million people; his son was one of them.
Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 270-343) was a bishop whose legendary secret gift-giving to people stuck in poverty developed into the model of Santa Claus. His was one of the legends promoting the idea of children as real people, an idea crucial to stopping feticide and infanticide.
Among other legends about him: Nicholas forced Governor Eustathius to admit he was bribed to condemn three innocent men to death. He appeared in Emperor Constantine’s dream to say three imperial officers, condemned to death at Constantinople, were innocent. Constantine freed them the next morning. So Nicholas became, among many other things, a patron saint of prisoners.
His parents were wealthy, which is why he had the wherewithal to be so generous. But legend has it he inherited the money quite young, because his parents died of the plague; the timing was not long after the height of the Plague of Cyprian (perhaps similar to Ebola or maybe smallpox).
From “Christianity Has Been Handling Epidemics for 2000 Years: Practical theology says care, sacrifice, and community are as vital as ever”:
During plague periods in the Roman Empire, Christians made a name for themselves. Historians have suggested that the terrible Antonine Plague of the 2nd century [165-180 C.E.], which might have killed off a quarter of the Roman Empire, led to the spread of Christianity, as Christians cared for the sick and offered a spiritual model whereby plagues were not the work of angry and capricious deities but the product of a broken Creation in revolt against a loving God.
This is a list of holiday editions of our weekly e-newsletter, Peace & Life Connections.
In 2010, we showed “It’s a Wonderful Movement” by using the theme of what would happen if the peace movement and the pro-life movement hadn’t arisen. We also had quotes from Scrooge (against respect for life) and a Martin Luther King Christmas sermon.
In 2011, we covered the materialism-reducing “Advent Conspiracy” and offered two pieces of children’s literature: a 1938 anti-war cartoon called “Peace on Earth,” and the anti-war origins of “Horton Hears a Who,” whose tagline – “a person’s a person, no matter how small” – is irresistible to pro-lifers.
In 2012, we had a couple of quotes showing the pro-life aspects of two prominent Christmas tales: A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge, and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We also quote from John Dear about Jesus as peacemaker and Rand Paul about the 1914 spontaneous Christmas Truce; he then related it to the culture of life.
In 2013, we shared several quotations reflecting on Christmas.
In 2014, we offered a quotation from a lesser-known Christmas novella of Charles Dickens and cited the treatment of abortion in the Zoroastrian scriptures.
In 2015, we had a list of good holiday movies with consistent-life themes – check it out for what you might want to see this season. We also had information on Muslim nonviolent perspectives.
In 2016, we discussed how “The Magi were Zoroastrians” and detailed how good the Zoroastrians were on consistent-life issues. The ancient roots of the consistent life ethic run deep!
In 2017, we covered Interfaith Peace in the Womb.
In 2018, we detailed Strong Women against Violence – Connected to the Holidays.
In 2019, we showed Christmas as a Nonviolent Alternative to Imperialism.