Guest Speaker Transcripts

2024 Guest Speaker Deacon Len Tetreault - March for Life & Silent Vigil

In case you missed the event!! WERTL March for Life & Silent Vigil -

Guest Speaker Deacon Len Tetreault - transcript

“As I was thinking about this talk for you today, I wondered if there was anything I could say that you may not have heard before. You are all here because we have at least one thing in common and that is we all wish to “Defend the right to life for our smallest citizens”.  I don’t think I have to convince you that a person's right to life is negotiable once conception has occurred. Once the process has started, it would seem logical to most people that life has begun. Sadly, we are dealing with a lot of people who for whatever reason seem to think otherwise. Some of the misunderstandings may come from a lack of information which tends to shape a person's decisions about what is truly right. For some... in order to avoid knowing the consequences they will be in denial about what life really means.

There may be people out there who are convinced and will try to change your way of thinking by claiming, we have been brainwashed into thinking the way we do-that life begins at conception. This can make life very interesting especially when it comes to having a conversation with someone with an opposing view.  Here is where the problem lies, having a calm rational discussion with someone who has an opposing view and allowing the conversation to move forward with respect -  to listen to both sides of the conversation without being judgmental. Sometimes this is where things get sticky.

Being a Pro-Life Advocate can be a scary prospect because you never know who you will be up against. But over the years the whole movement has been growing, not only with increasing numbers of women, but with men and now some college and university students are starting to embrace the teachings that all life is worth living. So before we go too far, I just want to say on behalf of the Windsor-Essex County Right to Life Association, we are extremely happy you are here today as we will show a very public visual display when we walk to the hospital in solidarity for all who will never get the opportunity to walk with us.

But before we depart, there are a few different things I would like to share with you. Some of the things I will be talking about may be things you have already heard. Some may be new and some may be a surprise. There are a couple of directions to go in because I didn’t want to speak from a strictly Catholic point of view because Catholics are not the only ones represented today. I didn’t want to just drop facts and figures on you because you can read them anywhere. So I hope some of the topics that I have chosen are things that will help you to think, they are not to convince you of anything, they are just food for thought.

If we go back in time and look into the history of abortion we can start to get a picture about the uphill battle that we are in at this present time. Long before Roe vs. Wade, long before the sexual revolution of the sixties, long before the beginnings of Planned Parenthood in 1916, we have to look back, way back. Just to give you some context we can trace abortion methods and their earliest roots back to a document called the “Ebers Papyrus”, an ancient Egyptian papyrus written some 3600 years ago around the year 1550 BC that described how to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. One thing that is not included in the writing is how effective this procedure was, or how often it was used.

So, not much has changed because even today it is difficult to find accurate information about how many actual abortions are performed. As documentation slowly took form over the years, the ancient Greeks and Romans also had texts written about what specific plants and methods could be used. Even in these documents it was not widely known how frequently they were used and how effective they were. There is one small piece of information that can be helpful and that is during the Roman ages, there was a specific plant that was known to be widely sought after by women because of the toxic effect it had and the ability to terminate a pregnancy.

This plant, known as “Silphium” became so popular that the plant essentially was exterminated from the face of the earth. Yet once again there are no statistics on how often it was used. But it was popular enough to eradicate the plant from the earth. So historically, the numbers are not there for us to review and there is no real way to determine accurately just how many pregnancies have been terminated throughout the centuries.

Then came a ray of hope, in the year 1588 A.D., when Pope Sixtus V officially classified abortion, regardless of the stage of fetal development, as homicide. Unfortunately, after Pope Sixtus died in 1590, two years after his decree, Pope Gregory XIV quickly rolled back the document limiting it to ensouled fetuses.  In case you are wondering, before 1588, Catholic teachings suggested that a fetus becomes a ‘person’ weeks, if not months, later -  once it receives a rational soul — known as “ensoulment.” This is often associated with “quickening,” when the mother feels the fetus move for the first time, generally in the fifth month of pregnancy.  Just like that, it was one step forward and two steps back.

There have been a few interesting reasons discovered about the history of Abortion, according to author Mary Fissell who is a professor of the history of Medicine at John Hopkins University. In her book entitled “Long Before Roe” which is scheduled to be published in 2025, she was able to uncover how and why the practice of abortion and the attitudes of society have changed over the centuries.

For example, in ancient Rome, abortion was only an issue for elite women, who were thought to be covering up adulterous relationships. In the Renaissance Era, abortion was linked to witchcraft. For most of history, abortion has not been an issue about the fetus, like it is today, but rather about women’s behaviour. Even then, the discussion didn’t surround the life of the fetus or even take the life of the fetus into consideration  - it was only about the behaviour of women.

As we fast forward through the centuries, the circumstances may have changed. It is not about the elite, or witchcraft, it is about a woman’s right to choose. There may be some truth to this theory but there is also another side to the story. While by law it is a woman’s right to choose, who questions the fetus to see if he or she would like the opportunity to live? If asked, it is safe to say the answer would be a resounding “Yes”! Does the father have any say, or get to express his desire to have the child in question? So it really becomes a one-way street and the procedure is screaming toward the fetus in question.

If we remove the previous circumstances, if it is not about the elite or witchcraft or the right to choose, what is it that drives this procedure today? We can make up any number of reasons to justify what we are doing. But each individual reason that a woman makes can be challenged with a legitimate solution to what she considers her problem. Somehow the decision has been streamlined to become the option of only the woman involved. The burden of this decision may fall on the women, but for all of the men out there, we don’t get a free pass in this.

Accepting your responsibility will help in some situations. Now without laying blame on any of the parties involved, we need to drill down to the issue we can maybe take control over and that is an increasing lack of respect for life itself. Every plant, animal and person who has ever lived on this earth since time began should have been given the opportunity to live the life that is provided for them.

If we can just go back to the basics and think about the lack of respect that is involved here. All women have been given a special gift and that is the ability to grow another life inside them. They are the protectors of the human race. They have the natural, maternal instincts to foster a bond between themselves and their children. Being connected and sharing a life-giving environment, is truly awe-inspiring and miraculous. You are an elite group, as only half of the population of the world has this ability. You need to respect that gift you have been given. The gift of creating and carrying human life.

Once again, men, we don’t get off easy here without any responsibilities. We need to have respect for ourselves knowing that this creation is part of our responsibility. We need to respect the women in our lives knowing they can and are the only ones who can keep humanity from collapsing. Men and women were not placed here for entertainment purposes, we have been given the task of taking care of each other and that includes the ability to reproduce. If we stop respecting life, what have we reduced it to? All we are doing is turning life into a temporary inconvenience that interferes in your own way of thinking and living.

What is the best way we can rediscover, “respect for life”? First, it begins by respecting ourselves. We are all individual people who have been given life from our parents and should be able to admire what they did for us. We should be teaching respect to our sons and daughters so they are aware of the different roles that we are meant to play, and that no one is an object to someone else. Our doctors and health-care providers need to have respect for life emphasized more fully into their training because the life they are ending had potential to change the world. The government needs to learn respect for life, so instead of trying to eliminate they should be trying to celebrate. If we cannot respect a person’s right to live, then everything else is up for grabs.

Some of you may have heard this before but this is how science celebrates the humble beginnings of human life. Back in 2011, Dr. Eva Feinberg and her team from Northwestern University in Illinois (who is not affiliated with any major religion) made a startling scientific discovery when they saw what they call “zinc sparks” at the point of conception in mice. In 2014, they figured a way to capture these images of this event. In 2017, they achieved what we can call the holy grail of biological research when they observed the same thing in human conception.

Here is a science geek moment ---- egg cells rely on zinc for their most vital functions, from maturing into a healthy egg to developing into an embryo. The 2014 research showed that each human egg cell comprises around 8,000 zinc compartments, each of which contain a million zinc atoms. Imagine this, one tiny human egg contains 8,000 zinc compartments with a million zinc atoms which equates to 8 billion zinc atoms. That is the equivalent to the number of people on earth today contained in one egg. When sperm meets egg, the egg releases a flurry of zinc atoms all at once. Under the researcher's fluorescent sensor, it appears like a microscopic fireworks show, studded with explosion after tiny explosion. The spectacle lasts for up to two hours after conception. In the beginning, in the moment of human conception not only is light created, but life is created as well. God celebrates our individual creation with a fireworks display that is verified by science. 

Our lives begin in a spectacular fashion, with a mother and a father, a fireworks display and what should be a respect for the life that has been formed. Nothing else should stand in the way of that process once it has begun. Ladies -  have respect for yourselves and the gifts you have been given. Gentlemen - have respect for yourselves and the women in your lives; they are not here for your entertainment. Teach your sons and daughters to respect themselves so they can grow up knowing that life is precious and sacred. Life begins with a flash and a spark of light. Respect it because the process has begun. Let the fireworks show begin!! “