By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.
This is my new interview column. Once a month, I will feature some of my personal heroes. These are men and women who are addressing some of the most important challenges of our time.
My first interviewee is Alissa Golob. She is originally from Peterborough, Ontario. As the Youth Coordinator at Campaign Life Coalition, she has travelled across Ontario, addressing Canada’s youth, and motivating them to become active in the pro-life movement. She has been featured on various radio and television programs such as ByLine with Brian Lilley, The Arena with Michael Coren, Global Television, as well as in a recent documentary called The 12 Biggest Lies, where she spoke about the myth of overpopulation and the humanization of a fetus. She recently organized the Defund Abortion Rally at Queens Park, Toronto, which had over 2,000 people in attendance. She is also one of the main organizers of the March for Life, the largest pro-life event in Canada to date, which consists of a pro-life rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a Youth Banquet dinner and a Youth Conference.
Santiago Rodriguez: What inspired you to do the type of work you do today?
Alissa Golob: When I was 13 years old, I saw my first image of an aborted baby and it really drove me to become more involved in pro-life activism. I grew up praying to end abortion, but when I actually saw what it did to a baby, it was something I just couldn’t ignore. My parents were always very encouraging and supportive, and helped me grow in knowledge and strength, which helped me continue on in pro-life activism throughout my teenage years. Since then, it has always been something I’ve been very passionate about, which is why, I believe, God led me to do this work full-time.
SR: How does your faith inform your work with the Campaign Life Coalition?
AG: The pro-life issue is fundamentally a spiritual battle, which means that it’s essential to have a strong prayer life when working full-time in the movement. Without God giving us strength everyday to face the evil of abortion, it would be too much to handle. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his first papal homily in 2005, “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” My faith informs me on the dignity, beauty and value of each human life, but also gives me the strength to continue in this fight.
SR: How is the pro-life movement building the Kingdom of God?
AG: Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life once wrote, “To put God’s Kingdom first means that choosing what is right is more important and central to us than calculating how much material security we will gain or lose. It means the readiness to sacrifice to make room for God and for others, including those who are unplanned or inconvenient. It means always saying yes to life.” God is the creator of life and is incapable of making mistakes. The very purpose of the pro-life movement is to spread this message in a relatable way to people of all beliefs. This is building the Kingdom of God in the process.
SR: Most pro-choice arguments out there revolve around the ideas of bodily autonomy and personal privacy, that a woman should be entitled to decide for herself whether or not to continue the pregnancy, and the government should have no legal power to compel her to continue the pregnancy against her will. How do you deal with such arguments?
AG: A catch phrase I like to use is as follows: if the fetus IS a human person, then all pro-choice arguments are irrelevant. If the fetus is not a human person, all pro-choice arguments are unnecessary.
Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. There is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency cannot determine one's humanity.
Laws already limit what we can choose to do with our bodies, especially if what we do hurts someone else’s body. This is why you won’t be arrested for having an intoxicated body when you’re home alone, but you will be arrested if you use your intoxicated body to drive—because in doing so you could hurt someone else’s body.
And so, abortion advocates need to prove the unborn child is part of the woman's body and not simply assume it. After all, if the unborn are separate human beings just like us—and biology says they are—then a pregnant woman may control her own body only to the extent that she doesn’t hurt that child’s body.
Given the biological fact that the unborn are living human beings, the question is not whether the government has the right to prohibit abortion, but whether it has the right not to.
SR: The Canadian government is currently facing pressure to push towards the legalization of euthanasia and legally-assisted suicide. What would be the consequences of these legalizations?
AG: I think that what would begin as “voluntary” would soon become involuntary. What begins as the right-to-die becomes the duty to die, and the duty to die quickly becomes the obligation to die.
Life and death decisions in a financially-strapped health care system (such as ours) will have little to do with the patient’s wishes; they will be decided by the individual provinces on the basis of cost. The dying, the elderly, sick and disabled will be too expensive to support. Death will become the treatment of choice.
If legalized euthanasia requires a physician’s involvement, it will have profoundly damaging effects on the medical profession and society’s confidence in doctors, by allowing doctors to act as executioners.
Killing in countries that have legalized euthanasia have been allowed for depressed teenagers; hospitalized seniors are routinely visited by an organization that offers to oversee their case to prevent their doctor from killing them. As Richard Lamerton says: “If we fail in this duty to care for the elderly, let us not turn to the politicians asking them to extricate us from the mess.”
SR: In general, pro-choice arguments assume that the lack of consensus about when life begins means that abortion should be legal until birth. Why is this the case? If, according to the pro-choice argument, there is a possibility that life begins at conception, does it not make more sense to ban abortion?
AG: I think that for the first time in my life I would agree with Christopher Hitchens who once said, “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or has spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that the emotions are not the deciding factor. In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain, and, whatever the method, break some bones and rupture some organs.”
Since there is confusion over when human life or personhood begins, this provides a crystal clear reason to oppose abortion. Defending abortion when there’s even a remote possibility human life begins at conception is like a hunter shooting into rustling bushes without first identifying his target. If you’re willing to engage in an act where you know there’s at least a 50/50 chance of killing a human person, that means you’re willing to kill a human person.
SR: Education helps us to think and to understand ourselves, others and the world around us. When it comes to the sex education our children are receiving in Canadian schools, the curricula of these classes tends to be a source of controversy. It goes beyond what the Canadian Bishops envisioned as instruction in morals as pertaining to sexual matters. How does sex education today affect the youth's understanding of sexuality, chastity, and contraception?
AG: Sex education that promotes contraception, inevitably promotes promiscuity and abortion. Former abortionist Carol Everett said in the documentary Blood Money, “We had a whole plan to sell abortions and it was called “sex education”. Break down their natural modesty, separate them from their parents and their values, and become the sex expert in their lives so they turn to us. We would give them a low dosage birth control pill they would get pregnant on, or a defective condom. Our goal was three to five abortions from every girl between the ages of 13 and 19.”
Furthermore, a study done in 1999 by the British Journal Education and Health found that government policies that focus on providing “family planning,” or contraception and abortion, have failed to have any impact on teenage pregnancy rates. Despite the millions of pounds spent in government initiatives over the last four decades pregnancy rates among teenaged girls aged 13-16 have remained steady, while abortion rates have gone up.