The Value of Human Life
Conscience Rights defense attorney Albertos Polizogopoulos speaking at 20th annual Focus On Life Gala Dinner
by Jenny Schweyer
When Alberto Polizogopoulos decided to go to law school, he was dreaming of the same thing many law students dream of: a lucrative career and making a name for himself. What he didn’t see himself doing back then was becoming a champion of religious freedom for little or no pay and with considerable personal and professional criticism.
Polizogopoulos was a staunch atheist when he began law school. Then he met Faye Sonier. She was beautiful, brilliant…. and a born-again Christian. Motivated by a desire to impress her, he accepted her challenge to take an objective look at the Bible’s stories and claims.
What he expected to do was poke holes in the case for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, he couldn’t refute a single claim of the Bible. He became a Christian, and later married Sonier.
He also developed a passion for “conscience rights.” Although he has become conspicuously associated with defending faith-based organizations and causes, like the Trinity Western University law school case, conscience rights reaches beyond the realm of any one religion. In fact, it extends beyond the borders of religion and to all Canadians, even those who don’t adhere to a particular faith or religious practice.
Conscience is a broad term that includes religious views,” Polizogopoulos stated. “Not all people subscribe to a religious worldview or have a set of religious beliefs by which they live, but all people have a conscience. Conscience is where one finds their morals and ethics.”
While a person of faith would most likely have a conscience that is guided by their religious beliefs, even a non-religious person still adheres to a particular set of ethics and moral standards. Any law or government ruling that threatens a person’s conscience rights, therefore, applies to religious and non-religious people equally. This is why, for Polizogopoulos, this issue of conscience rights is equally relevant to all Canadians.
Polizogopoulos cited the Trinity Western law school case as a prime example, and called it “the most important religious freedom case the Supreme Court has heard since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was introduced in 1982.” The outcome of this case will determine whether or not graduates of TWU law school will be allowed to practice law in some parts of Canada.
The opposition that has been raised hinges on TWU’s views on the Biblical definition of marriage. Certain governing bodies of the practice of law in Canada, including the Law Society of British Columbia, have said they will refuse to admit TWU law school graduates to the practice of law because they believe that TWU law grads do not have an inclusive view of marriage.
“Win or lose [this case], it will set the course for religious freedom in Canada for the next 20 years. The implications of a loss are wide and far reaching,” Polizogopoulos declared.
In recent years, Polizogopoulos has made a name for himself as an advocate for medical professionals who do not want to be compelled to perform, or even refer patients for, assisted suicide procedures. It is a deeply polarizing issue, and people either love or hate Polizogopoulos for his stand against compelled assisted suicide.
It is just one of the life-affirming issues that Polizogopoulos is passionate about. He and his wife, Faye Sonier, will be appearing at the 20th annual Focus on Life Gala Dinner, sponsored by Focus on Life, a consortium of Signal Hill, the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Christian Advocacy Society. The yearly event raises funds for life-affirming media initiatives in the Greater Vancouver region. Here, Polizogopoulos will share his experiences working on the assisted-suicide issue as well as his heart for the pro-life movement.
This year’s Gala Dinner is being held on Monday, May 28 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre located at 1088 Burrard Street in Vancouver. Tickets are $85 each, or $800 for a table of ten. Tickets can be obtained by calling the Signal Hill office at 604-532-0023, or by emailing email@example.com.
By Gerhard Herwig
As the “culture of death” is expanding in Canada, what is our response going to be when electing lawmakers at different levels of government?
Is it not time for us to make a candidate’s and their party’s position on Life, Marriage and the Natural Family a deciding factor when voting?
All political parties represented in parliament now are unwilling to legislate on the protection of innocent human life from conception to natural death, and they all have abandoned the Natural definition of Marriage as between one women and one man. We need Christian voices in parliament speaking and legislating boldly and unashamedly for truth and justice for all, in conformance with natural law as designed by our Creator.
Maybe the time has come to support and build up a party that is founded on the Christian Heritage of our country Canada.
Gerhard Herwig, Surrey
Who comes to a CPC?
Many people probably have a preconceived idea of who goes to a pregnancy centre – a teenage girl who has a “risky” lifestyle. In reality, the scope of clientele is much broader. Unplanned pregnancy crosses all boundaries, there is no demographic that is not affected in some way.
What do CPCs do to help?
Regardless of a client’s beliefs or back-ground, CPCs offer the practical help and hope many are looking for. This includes medically accurate information on the options available when facing a pregnancy decision: abortion, adoption and parenting.
Knowing that none of the options is an easy solution, centres provide support in relation to each option.
In addition, many CPCs provide referrals for financial aids and housing, sexual health information and school presentations, and material supports such as baby supplies and maternity clothing for clients.
Beyond these tangible means of help and support, pregnancy care centre staff and volunteers offer unconditional love.
Suggestions for Christians to be of help?
Please don’t assume. If we really want to help, we need to watch our conversations and our language. We can never know for certain who in our midst has experienced an unplanned pregnancy or abortion. One in three women have an unplanned pregnancy and one in four women have had an abortion.
Please don’t judge. Whether it’s an un-planned pregnancy or a woman who has had an abortion, there is no way we can fully understand their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical circumstances. Only God knows, and He always chooses love and forgiveness first.
Please listen. Each and every person has a story to tell, if there is someone who cares enough to listen. There is usually a place for us in their story, but we only see it when we pause and listen with our hearts.
Please believe. Believe in them and believe for them. So many are without hope. We have an incredible opportunity to be the light that directs them to the hope we have, and they can find, in Jesus.
Dr. Laura Lewis is a physician and executive director of the national best practice organization, Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services.
All adoptions are special, but there are some unique characteristics to an adoption from Thailand. On a level not seen in many other countries, the Government of Thailand is dedicated to its orphaned and abandoned children. That also applies to the business community, where it is common practice for businesses to shut for one day each year and the employees all go to a local orphanage for the day.
Every four years the Government of Thailand sponsors a homecoming trip and visit for Thai children adopted around the world. No other country in the world does this. Families and children return to Thailand and are treated to cultural and tourist events and orphanage visits.
Thailand is a signatory to the Hague International Adoption Convention. Sunrise is accredited under the Hague Convention in both British Columbia and Thailand to assist in the adoption of Thailand’s vulnerable children. If you know of someone who would like to adopt a child from Thailand, please have them contact us. The qualifications to become adopting parents are set out on the Thailand page of our website.
People often view abortion as a woman’s choice, but it is a choice that also impacts men. John (not his real name) said he felt angry and powerless when he heard about the abortion a few years after it happened. Since then he has had difficulty committing to relationships because he fears being hurt and betrayed again. He struggles with feelings of poor self-worth saying that he often feels his opinions are not important enough to be expressed. Although John has not spoken of his abortion with many people, he said he often thinks about the child and what his life might have been like. He has looked at his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, acknowledging his role in it, and how his actions affected her decision. At Post Abortion Community Services, we had the privilege of walking alongside John while working through his grief. During his grief journey, John has been able to acknowlege the walls he has built up to protect himself from being hurt again. He sees how his abortion has impacted his current relationships with family and friends. John has been able to grieve, in a healthy way, the loss of his child.
Other men play a more active role in their abortion. When Mark’s (not his real name) wife told him she was pregnant with their fourth child, family and financial pressure started this Christian couple thinking about abortion. He said he pressured his wife to abort and remembers taking her to the clinic. Over the next few years, Mark stopped attending church, and they started having problems in their marriage.
When Mark came to our office, he said he felt numb. He was afraid to feel. He feared losing control and being intimate. During our after-abortion care program, Mark was able to start looking at those fears. Through this process, Mark now says he feels the presence and healing grace of God in his life.
After-abortion grief is real for men, just as it is for women. At Post Abortion Community Services, it is a privilege to listen and be present with both men and women as they tread into a sacred part of their hearts and lives.
Karen Stafford is the Client Services Coordinator for Post Abortion Community Services. For twelve years, she has been peer counselling both women and men in after-abortion grief.
By Lisa Block, peer-counsellor at Hope for Women Pregnancy Services
If you stood at the base of a large building and pushed against it with all your might, could you move it? If I give everything I have, I might be able to uproot a young tree, but how about the big one in my front yard? Would it budge at all?
Sometimes, working in a pregnancy care center can feel like that. Occasionally, we can uproot a young tree without established roots, but most of the time, it feels like we’re standing at the base of a house-worth of mindsets, pushing with all our might, with no visible effect.
Every day, we see beautiful women who have been given precious gifts. Many would like to label and condemn these women; we can’t help but see them, listen to them and love them. We long for them to recognize and accept the incredible gift that they have been given, yet an Empire State Building’s worth of deception stands in our way:
“You can’t do it.”
“Pregnancy Centres are anti-choice.”
“It’s just a clump of cells.”
These lies are so cemented into our culture that they seem insurmountable at times.
In moments like this, when the reality of my inability to move a building, or even a tree can make me feel hopeless, I see how much I need God. This is not a battle we can fight apart from Him. And it is definitely not one that we can win. I cannot penetrate the deception that convinces pregnant women that abortion is their “choice” and their “right”. My words will have little affect when every other voice they hear agrees with them. Those roots and that foundation go deep.
But we have a God who can move mountains! When the battle feels impossible and I can’t fathom how things will ever shift, though I want that with all my heart, I need Him to give me strategy. It needs to be divine to have the kind of impact that will not only move a mountain, but will demolish the deception that stands in our way.
I ask you to pray for those of us that are engaged in this battle. And I would encourage you to engage in it with us… even if it’s just in your prayers. Our enemy may be crafty, but I believe that God is just waiting to give us strategy to win.