Category Archives: In Memoriam

On the passing of an abortion provider

My local paper this morning carried the obituary of a physician who seems to have lived a long and happy life, who had a large and loving family, who was engaged in his community, and who had no regrets. He died peacefully in his sleep.

I noticed the name at the top of the obituary, and I was immediately carried back twenty-nine years, when the remains of aborted children were found in the Concord dump. It turned out that those remains had come from the medical practice of the physician whose death was reported today. The upshot of the appalling discovery was that the physician promised to arrange for disposal of future remains in a manner befitting medical waste.

Understandably, that incident went unmentioned in the formal obituary.  Continue reading On the passing of an abortion provider

Norma McCorvey, R.I.P.

A few days ago, Abby Johnson on her Facebook page called for prayers for Norma McCorvey, who was very ill. I am now hearing that McCorvey has died at age 69, having lived for 44 years in the shadow of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that bore her pseudonym.

McCorvey went public, affirming her real identity and refusing to embrace being “Jane Roe.” Eventually, in the midst of a tumultuous life, she repudiated the Court decision and became pro-life.

On a visit to Texas last year, I went to Mass at a small chapel  in downtown Dallas. The pastor turned out to be the man who had ministered to McCorvey when she professed the Catholic faith. Rather than talk about her, he demurred: “Leave her alone. She’s been too much used.”

Too much used. The attorneys who represented her in Roe can take some credit for that. For the briefest of overviews about McCorvey and the court case that thrust her into American history, read Live Action’s post from earlier this year, 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade.

I think of her as one of the voices to trust whenever I hear an abortion advocate say “trust women.”

“I realized that my case, which legalized abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of my life….but now I’m dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death.”

“[I]t doesn’t make any difference what religion you are, or how young you are or how old you are, I think if they get up and go to these abortion mills, and stand there – and they don’t have to do anything, they can just stand there and pray, I think that would make a lot of difference. We have to be seen in numbers.”

May she rest in peace.

 

Remembering Russell Pond

A mentor and neighbor and friend has died, and I feel his passing keenly because we go back so far. Russell Pond was one of the first people I met when I moved to New Hampshire many years ago. He was a fearless pro-life ambassador, and he would walk up to anyone to start a conversation about respecting the right to life.

I was lucky enough to be one of the people he approached. The circumstances were downright odd, in my opinion – but not in Russ’s. To him, there were no odd circumstances, only new opportunities to share his message.

Continue reading Remembering Russell Pond

Communication, Mother Angelica style

An Alabama nun died on Easter Sunday, and honoring her life and work in the service of God is a much more edifying way to spend time than parsing the latest outrageous remark by a presidential wannabe. So here we go: May Mother Angelica rest in peace – and I hope I can learn as she did how to use media to communicate the truth in love and charity.

The television network she founded, EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), is well-known. I wonder how many people who watch it remember what preceded it.


I was a college freshman in Florida in 1977.  One day in the back of the church I attended, I found a little free booklet by someone named Mother Angelica. I can’t remember the title, but it was about prayer. The brochure was a low-budget production, which didn’t surprise me when I saw that it came from an Alabama monastery. When I started reading, though, the quality of the printing didn’t matter. Here was sane and sound and sensible counsel.

As time went on, more Mother Angelica brochures appeared in the literature rack. The topics varied, but there were repeating themes: love of God, His infinite mercy, the value of human life at all stages, the need to keep growing in faith. The writing was always clear, good-humored, and down-to-earth.

That was a time in my life when by imperceptible steps I was moving from a personally-opposed-but view of abortion towards a pro-life commitment. The Alabama nun’s brochures that looked as though they’d been cranked out on a high school’s mimeograph machine were to play a subtle, indispensable role in changing my life.

I couldn’t anticipate in 1977 what kind of reach EWTN would eventually achieve. All I had were those simple little booklets. They were tiny masterpieces of communication and evangelization and pro-life coaching. They were like the snack food whose tagline was “betcha can’t eat just one” – I couldn’t read just one. I kept looking for more. And thus that Alabama nun with a gift for communication became one of the many influences that set me on the path I’ve been trying to follow for many years now.

Mother Angelica didn’t need fancy equipment to communicate. She used the tools at hand, however sophisticated or humble.

In her own words, “You see, God expects His people to do the ridiculous so He can do the miraculous.”

By the way, it turned out that the man responsible for the supply of brochures back in my college days was Father Bob, pastor of the church I attended. Father Bob is now Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama – the diocese where Mother Angelica lived and prayed and worked with her sisters in faith at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

Rep. Robert Luther, RIP

Rep. Robert Luther. Photo from his biography at gencourt.state.nh.us.
Rep. Robert Luther. Photo from his biography at gencourt.state.nh.us.

I note with respect and regret the passing of New Hampshire state representative Robert Luther, who died February 20 at his home in Laconia.

When I reviewed major bills at the close of the 2015 session, I noted that Rep. Luther was among those who supported bills on personhood, fetal homicide, keeping public funds away from abortion providers, conscience rights for medical professionals, and repealing the buffer zone law. This year, he was on the right side of the House votes on dismemberment abortion and protecting children born alive after attempted abortion.

In 2014, when he was serving on the Judiciary Committee, he voted in committee and on the House floor against the buffer zone bill, which has been enjoined by a federal court since its misbegotten passage.

According to Rep. Luther’s obituary, his family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.