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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Screen Time: Grandma Finds Covid-19 Affects More than Jobs & Health

It Also Affects Relationships: A Poem

by Phoebe Wise

(One month into the Covid-19 quarantine, April 20,2020, in Southern California. It’s technically against the law right now to meet with another household, even if they are family.)

Peter, I cannot see you.
On the screen, yes.
But not you.

A streaking form,
Shrieking your babble,
"Bad lion, dinosaur,
Bite you!” 
Your mommy’s leg
Gets the real bite.

I’m left laughing, 
Holding my screen.
Image upside down now;
Your phone, Peter, I mean
Your Mommy’s phone,
Dropped on the floor,
Camera staring at
The ceiling fan, 
Twirling around.

You, unheedful,
Off to chase
Your big brother
Through the tunnel
Of a safari tent, 
Set up in your bedroom
To amuse a three- 
And a five-year-old.

Outside the virus blows.
Smaller than a prowling dinosaur
But real, more deadly.  

Deadly for grandmas.
You, the dangerous carrier,
Locked in your house, to keep me “safe".

But how can I live without my heart?
My.  Sweet.  Heart.  
Just turned three.
Still a baby.  
Little man.  All boy.
Roars like a lion,
Big as Tyrannosaurus,
But wants his diapers
And his nursies.  

Peter, you can’t see me.
Me--who once was
Your preferred diaper changer.
Mom you pushed away,
Chose me to deal
With the smelly mess.  
Privilege unparalleled-- 
If you’re a Grandma.
And know how to reckon
In baby coin.  

Coin I have 
But none to spend.
I can't trade up,
Can’t take you to the park
Or mall, to ride the little cars
That go nowhere, everywhere
You can go in your baby mind:
Legoland.  The county fair.  Outer space.

Just out.  Space.  The playground.
Places you can’t go.  Grandma’s house.

Oh, you came once.  One time.
Your mommy brought you with her
In her car when she was
Dropping something off.
I knew you were coming,
And left.  Escaped in my car.

I knew how it would be--
You would want the full ritual:
Come inside, shoes off,
Straight to the play kitchen,
That becomes our pretend Starbucks,
Make a mocha for grandma,
In a plastic cup,
Accept intangible payment
On your delicate, upturned palm.
Then onto the carpet
To play with trains and blocks.
Finally, outside, 
bubbles to chase,
Balls to kick
On the lawn, with Granddad.

Time to go.  Shoes back on.
Into your car seat.  
A Hershey’s Kiss for your baby hand,
A bribe from Grandma—don’t make a fuss--
Think of me as you ride back home,
Not just me, but all of it--the whole shebang
That happens at Grandma’s house.
I wait patiently as you sit in your car seat,
peeling the foil away, 
Neatly handing me each tiny piece,
Until you pop the Kiss in your mouth,
And give me five.

Car doors slam and you drive away 
With your mom and your brother.

“Goodbye, Grandma!”  he yells.
You wave goodbye, too,
your mouth full of chocolate.

"Goodbye.  Goodbye till next time,
My pride and joy boys!”

That’s it.  That’s all there is
To this precious ritual
that looms so large
in the three year old brain.

All there was.

Peter, you won’t understand
Why you have to forego
The beloved rite,
The pleasant routine:
Pretend Starbacks greeting,
Hershey’s Kiss farewell."

I fled.

Granddad stayed on bravely
To face the happy greeting,
Peter waving “Hi, Granddad!”
From his car seat.  
Then the disappointment
And wailing
When there was no 
Getting out
And going inside to play--
A mocha for Grandma,
Bubbles for Peter.
Just a long ride back home,
Tears, exhausted sleep.

I’m a coward.  I can’t face it.
The tears.  The incomprehension.

His brother is bigger.  James understands.
Knows it’s a germ.
A tiny thing you cannot see.
But it can kill you. Me.  Mostly me,
One of the “vulnerable”, 
Because I am old, a grandma.
He misses me but understands.
He must protect me.

But Peter, you're three.
You cannot see me.
Except on a screen.
And screens are not real.
Babies know.  Know better than we do.
Screens cannot change diapers 
Or draw bubble baths.
Screens have no kisses,
Chocolate or otherwise.
Drop the screen,
Run away laughing,
Leave Grandma 
To stare at the ceiling fan,
Twirling above.

Sometimes at night
I come to visit you.
Drive the few miles
That divide us.  
Come bearing gifts 
That are just the excuse
To be near, even though
I can’t touch,
Can't see.  

I go when you are sleeping, 
upstairs, safe in your room,
Safe in the safari tent
That at night becomes your bed.
Curled up together,
With your brother, 
Breathing as heavily
As baby dinosaurs,
Or so I imagine.
I cannot hear you.  

I put my offering on the doormat:
A loaf of homemade bread
For mom and dad,
Toys for my grandsons.

I see there is something for me:
A sack of geranium stems
For starting new plants.
I pick it up with gloved hand
And back away.

Taking out my phone 
I ring the parents.  
Mom comes to the door,
Screen in hand,
My baby, once, my own, 
Her face all grown up
In the porch light. 
Behind her Dad, 
Face in the shadows,
My son-in-law.
The last time I saw them,
A month ago?  I’ve lost track.

They are smiling, funny,
Charming as ever,
Standing warily behind their screen door.
Me at a good distance,
Six feet minimum.

Why this mandated measure, six feet?
That’s how far down we put our dead!

Is this forever, I wonder?
Or is it just till the memories fade
In a baby man’s brain,
Of bubbles and chocolate and Grandma’s lap.
And screen time is all that remains,
Cold, flat, odorless, tasteless.  Empty.  

“I love you,” I whisper
And drive back home.

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020, making it one of the first states to issue mandatory social distancing policies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Search for a "Perfect Baby" Leads to Lethal Discrimination

#Savethe8th Poster Child Asks Society to Step Back from "Heartless" Choice 

by Susan Fox

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  (Isaiah 49:15)  

It’s important to remember that quote from Isaiah because the story I am about to tell you will rip your heart out. 

Imagine you are a beautiful young woman from England, a convert to Catholicism, a college student, an excellent writer and a fiery and outspoken speaker. But you have some extra baggage, a small handicap — an extra chromosome, creating a condition known as Trisomy 21 (T21) or Down Syndrome. It is associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability  and characteristic facial features. 

On the internet you come across a website, “What to expect,”  full of happy mothers learning what to expect when they become pregnant. 

The website has this proud disclaimer: “The educational health content on What To Expect is reviewed by our team of experts to be up-to-date and in line with the latest evidence-based medical information and accepted health guidelines, including the medically reviewed What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.”

But then you come across the web site’s discussion on “Termination for Medical Reasons.”  This is a group of heartbroken mothers discussing their reasons for aborting their “longed for” child for the “good of the family” and for the good of the child — because they deem his or her medical condition makes its life not worth living. Each child discussed has been exhaustedly diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb using prenatal testing. 

“In our hearts I think we are leaning towards terminating but I feel like such a monster for even thinking that. This baby was wanted so much and I feel like we’re giving up on it just because he/she’s not perfect,” One mother, “BecciDC,” opined on Sept. 13, 2019. 

People in this group are struggling with their consciences: “I’m Christian and really struggled with this. How could God forgive me for such a sin? How could God forgive me if I”m truly not repentant, meaning I think I did the best thing for our family?  I struggled and still struggle with this,” “whitelilyofthevalley” wrote on Jan. 26, 2019.

But this “Christian” mother protected herself from those who would try and change her mind before the abortion. She didn’t confide in her true Christians friends. She confided instead in this lethal group of pro-abortionists called, “Termination for Medical Reasons.” 

When  someone told her, “Jesus died on the cross for our sins — for all of them,” she shrugged her shoulders and accepted the abortion choice. But I assure you, Mother,  Jesus did not die on the cross so that you — or I — can commit an abomination without compunction.

And once the decision to abort is made, love dies.

“On the day of the scan, all the medical opinions were that this was probably not a viable pregnancy …we cried and grieved for our baby before we even had the results. And since then I’ve become so disconnected from my pregnancy, we’ve stopped talking to belly and rubbing belly, and I can’t bear to put maternity clothes on,” “BecciDC” added in her Sept. 13 comments.

So Charlotte Helene Fien aka Charlie, the beautiful 24-year-old
Charlie Fien and her fiancee Riley Petterson at college
college student  I mentioned earlier, who has spoken twice before the United Nations to save the lives of unborn children with Down Syndrome, entered the discussion kindly and patiently on Aug. 8, 2019 under the pseudonym “T21isawesome.” This was her testimony:

“You are correct there are medical problems. I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when I was little. I don’t remember it. But I’ve seen pictures of me bald. I had congenital cataracts and had surgery on both my eyes. I can see well now. Professor Sue Buckley — world expert on Down Syndrome  — says 80 percent of us read, write and can live independently with some support. I was potty trained before my brothers, who don’t have DS. As far as burdens go, your child with 46 chromosomes could end up a being a drug addict or have mental health problems. I know 1000s of people like me all over the world. All of them, speak, read, write, don’t wear diapers. They live happy lives.” 

But Charlotte Fien was thrown out of the mother’s group and labeled a “troll.” 

But who really is the troll? The young woman who gives her life repeatedly for justice or the young mother prepared to commit an injustice?

“Abortion is such a cruel, barbaric and selfish thing. I feel angry and sad when mums kill babies with Down syndrome. Lots of people use the word ‘troll’ wrong,” Ms. Fien told me in a written interview. “They use troll to describe anyone who disagrees with them or contradicts them. It is frustrating dealing with parents who won’t listen to the truth.”

“Discrimination starts before birth and lasts our entire lives,” Ms. Fien said before a Human Rights panel of the United Nations in Geneva on March 15, 2018. “Around the world, more than 90 percent of babies found to have Down’s Syndrome are aborted up to birth. Governments and health ministers are keen to get rid of us. Some countries like Netherlands have put a price tag on our heads. They think the world will be better without people like me,” she sadly admitted.

On Oct. 14, 2019, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed her assessment when it voted to block Ohio’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act from going into effect. If it were allowed into law, it would be illegal to abort a child based on the diagnosis of Down Syndrome. 

So, she asks, why. Why is the world determined to eliminate people with Down Syndrome? “Because eugenics is becoming a thing to admire. A perfect baby, a perfect family, a perfect society are now possible.”

But is such perfection real? “No, there is no such thing as perfection. You can try and kill off everyone with Down’s Syndrome by using abortion but you won’t be any closer to a perfect society. You will just be closer to a cruel, heartless one in my opinion,” she told the UN Human Rights Panel. 

“Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of the human population by excluding certain genetic groups judged to be inferior, and promoting other genetic groups judged to be superior,” according to Wikipedia:

Eugenics was practiced by the Nazi Regime in World War II. The German Third Reich set up death camps for Jews, whom they deemed to be an inferior race. 

Eugenics was also encouraged and practiced by the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who said, “Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives… If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman.”

Sanger’s eugenic poison has now permeated society to the point that ordinary mothers — someone you would never suspect of murder — are discussing killing their handicapped child brazenly online in public chat rooms. 

Abortion is never a solution for unborn children with disabilities, Pope Francis told people at a Vatican conference titled, Yes to Life! Caring for the precious gift of life in its frailness” on May 25, 2019. “On a social level, the fear and hostility towards disability often lead to the choice of abortion, configuring it as a practice of ‘prevention.’ But the Church’s teaching on this point is clear: human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes should be discouraged with strength, because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality, which takes away the possibility of families welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children,” Pope Francis said. 

Eugenics is raising its ugly head in the world now during the current Coronavirus crisis. Hospitals in UK and the U.S. are preparing to restrict health care treatments for those who are elderly or already ill to prevent the health care system from being overloaded. Italy already had to do so, choosing to give a ventilator to a relatively younger man (age 40), allowing an elderly lady to die. However, President Trump tweeted that all Americans will be given equal care regardless of age or preexisting health conditions. 

“We need laws that protect us from eugenic abortions,” Ms Fien told members of the UN Human Rights Panel. “People like human rights expert Ben-Achour says women should be made or forced to abort if the baby has Down’s Syndrome. How is that not Eugenics? How is that acceptable to target a group of human beings for extinction? Is that not genocide? If the UN is to be taken seriously then they will create sanctions against countries practicing eugenics. They need to start with Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They need to put an end to the genocide against people with Down’s Syndrome.”

Charlotte herself has an amazing record of pushing back when public figures speak out for abortion of handicapped children. I ran across this article on Church Militant, “Woman with Down Syndrome Rips Into Pro-Abortion UN Speaker.” The author, David Nussman, seemed very impressed that a woman with Down Syndrome — identified only as “Charlotte” — was ready to battle human rights “expert” Yadh Ben Achour, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee.

In November, 2017, Ben Achour went on video to support abortion for children with Down Syndrome as a “preventative measure” to “avoid the handicap.” 

Ms. Fien shot back with a video of her own: “Mr. Ben Achour your comments about people with Down Syndrome deeply offend me. I felt you attacked me for being who I am. Who am I, Mr. Ben Achour? I’m a human being just like you. Our only difference is an extra chromosome.” Then she concludes that her extra chromosome makes her “far more tolerant” than he is.

While Ben Achour described himself as “an ardent defender of the handicapped,” he coldly suggested that the State do everything possible to prevent a “disabled fetus” from being born. 
Charlotte poignantly rebuked him: “If any other heritable traits like skin colour were used to eradicate a group of people, the world would cry out!” 

“I have a brilliant life. I have a family that loves me. I have great friends. I have an active social life...What you are suggesting is eugenics. It’s…evil. You need to apologise for your horrible comments,” Ms Fien said.  And then she recommended that he be removed from the Human Rights Committee. “The Human Rights Committee needs people who will genuinely fight for the rights of others,” she said

As for herself, Ms. Fien said “I will fight for our right to exist for the rest of my life!”

It sounded like a promise. Ms Fien’s life is falling into that pattern. She became the poster child for #Savethe8th, the pro-life movement that swept Ireland in 2018 to try and protect the country's 8th Amendment, which offered constitutional protections equally for the life of the Irish mother and her unborn child.

On March 10, 2018, Charlotte addressed a loud and excited crowd of 100,000 pro-life Irish in Dublin City Centre. This took great courage. “I was really surprised to see so many posters of me with quotes of things I’ve said in the past,” Charlotte told me. “I loved speaking in Dublin, [but] it was very scary because 100,000 screaming people is a lot to deal with when speaking in public. I was nervous and scared of the noise because of my autism, but I did it! When the audience screamed out I paused my speech and let them calm down then I started speaking again.” 

Charlie Fien in the cockpit with the pilot  
on the way to Dublin in 2018 
“The death penalty was abolished in the U.K. because it’s cruel and barbaric. If killing a murderer is cruel …then surely killing your own innocent baby is the epitome of evil,” Charlotte told the crowd on that historic day in Dublin. “Ireland is not like the U.K., Iceland and Denmark [countries attempting to eradicate Down Syndrome]. Ireland is a moral country that values life. Does Ireland want to …allow up-to-birth abortions?”  The crowd roared, “No!” She responded, “No, I don’t believe you do! I beg you to Save the 8th!”  

But her heroic message fell largely on deaf ears. On May 25, 2018, two thirds of that country’s electorate removed the 8th Amendment, allowing the government to pass unrestricted abortion laws. Overnight the Irish were stripped of free speech, the right to assembly and the sanctity of a doctor’s conscience because of these new abortion bills.      

While Irish children in the womb now face possible extinction, Ms. Fien has not been deterred from her mission. This past summer of 2019, she came to the United States to save American lives. And she saved one, while witnessing outside abortion clinics in New York City for a group called EMC Frontline

New York is the abortion capital of the United States. More than 70,000 children lose their lives there every year, victims of abortion and infanticide — their little bodies sold for parts sometimes while their hearts still beat.

“I know that one out of thousands doesn’t seem like much but it was very important to me,” Ms. Fien told me in her  written interview. “Sidewalk counselling is  challenging hard work! You try to save a life and when you don’t succeed it hurts your heart and soul! But don’t give up. Sometimes, I just prayed the rosary outside Planned Parenthood on Bleecker Street in Manhattan.”

And that seems to be the key to understanding the heart of Miss Charlotte Helene Fien aka “Charlie” — her Catholic faith. She does not give up. She sees injustice and she speaks up.  “My faith plays a big part in what I’m doing. I always feel God’s guidance in every step I take. I always ask God to lead me in the right direction,” she told me.

In fact she regularly prays Dr. Martin Luther King’s prayer: "Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for
Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist like
Charlotte Fien
a purpose greater than myself.”

But Ms Fien was not always religious. She was born into a non-Christian home. Her father is an atheist and her mother a non-practicing Jew. But when she was little she spent time with her French Catholic grandmother, whom she noticed “was never afraid or angry.” Her “Granny” had her baptised Catholic in France, and then “I did my first communion at 14 and my confirmation at 16-years-old in London,” she said. Now she  has found a treasure in the Catholic Mass, which “makes you calm, peaceful and takes your fear away.” 

“My parents were okay with me being Catholic but they never took me to Mass. I now go to Mass once or twice a week. I love mass and the Virgin Mary. I love doing the Rosary. I like being able to confess my sins to my priest every Saturday,” Charlotte told me. 

Whenever she is upset and lost, she’s found this passage from Proverbs 3:5-6 comforting: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Already hers is a very full life.  She entered Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, U.S.A. in the fall of 2019, planning a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in French. She went there to join her fiancee, Riley Petterson, who is studying Special Education at the college. Now, they have both been accepted at the College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, for the Fall of 2020. 

“Riley and I met through my UN work. He saw my first speech at the UN in 2017. Riley’s Mum, Audrey, told him he should chat to me. He contacted me in April 2017. We did FaceTime for nearly a year every day. He had been living near Portland, Oregon. We finally met in person on the 4th of April, 2018,” Ms Fien said.

Blissfully happy, Charlie & Riley
plan to marry in 2021
Then on Oct. 23, 2018, he proposed by the river in her home town of Guildford, England. “I cried when Riley proposed. My Mum, Dad and family love Riley,” Ms. Fien said. It seems a match made in heaven — they are both on the same path of advocacy for the handicapped. Riley, who has Aspergers, is an advocate for people with Autism.  They plan to be married on July 24, 2021, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina.

“We are great together. He’s kind, intelligent, handsome, tall and [has a] great sense of humour. He is also a devout Christian!” she told me. 

But there are countless other little persons with Down Syndrome, who will never grow up and know the joy that Charlie Fien and Riley Petterson share. 

In September, 2019, Nurse Jill Stanek testified before a U.S. congressional committee on the proposed 2019 Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that has been proposed and rejected numerous times in the House and the Senate because of Republican support and Democrat opposition. 

Nurse Stanek told the story of working in a Chicago hospital 20 years ago when she found a newborn infant left to die in a soiled utility room. He was a survivor of a late term abortion procedure. “I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone, so I rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived,” Stanek told members of the House. The child, of course, had Down Syndrome.  

“Genocide of my community is very real. Countries like Iceland boast they abort nearly 100% of babies with Down Syndrome. Denmark says they will be Down Syndrome free in 20 years time. My country, England, has a 92% abortion rate for DS. The UN’s definition of genocide is when no further births occur within a group. That means what’s happening to us is genocide,” Ms Fien said. 

“I am not suffering,” Fien declared in her first UN Human Rights hearing in 2017. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s Syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives,” she said, adding, “We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. Please don’t try to kill us all off.”

Susan Fox publishes this blog, Christ's Faithful Witness, with almost 4 million page views and climbing. She graduated June 8, 2019 Magne Cum Laude with a Master’s in Marriage and Family from the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria, a pontifical school, faithful to the Catholic Magisterium. She is a former award winning investigative business reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, The San Diego Union, The Spokesmen Review in Spokane, Wash. and a newswire in Washington, D.C. where she wrote under her maiden name, Susan Burkhardt. 

Charlotte Fien can be found on Twitter at @fien_charlie and on Facebook 

She also has a Facebook Group, “Stop Trying to Eradicate Downs Syndrome.” 

If you would like to read more about the failed #Savethe8th campaign to prevent the legalisation of abortion in Ireland in 2018, read: "Pro-Life Irish Grieve for their Country as Abortion Sinks Its Teeth Into Ireland"

They are letting the elderly Coronavirus patients with Down Syndrome die: GRIM FEARS People with Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy ‘could be left to die from coronavirus under new guidance