Rally for Life focuses on end-of-life issues


By Kelly Mescher Collins
The Catholic Mirror
The Rally for Life generated support from pro-life supporters across the state on Feb. 17.
Nearly 100 people gathered at St. Anthony Parish in Des Moines for the pro-life education seminar. The day started with an opening prayer by Father Chris Reising, pastor at Our Lady of the Americas Parish in Des Moines, followed by the keynote address, given by Wesley Smith, speaker and author of many books, including “Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the New Duty to Die.”
Smith said he all too often hears stories about the aging or elderly in failing health. But  what surprises him most is that the dying are most concerned about being a burden or inconvenience to their families, so they would prefer to have assisted suicide or euthanasia.
“How did we make it so that our fathers and mothers, our aunts and our uncles think they can possibly be a burden on us?” he said. “We need to look very hard in the mirror and look to find out what it is that we are doing to make people feel unwelcome if they are ill, if they are disabled, if they are elderly or if they are dying.”
Some European countries, especially Belgium, are embracing and promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia, he said, warning that if Americans do not take a stand, the same things could happen here in the United States and in Iowa.
The keynote was followed by a panel discussion featuring Smith, Tom Moreland, executive director of Saint Jude Hospice, and Mercy Medical Center staff persons Laura Wenman, director and vice-president of mission integration, and Deacon Dave O’Brien, director of pastoral care.
Moreland said the elderly and dying are those “most in need of love and assistance.”
“Show them love, compassion and mercy,” he said. “We take care of Jesus and the dying every day.”
Attendees were provided lunch and given training on how to lobby legislators at the Iowa State Capitol building later that afternoon.
Students from Beckman Catholic School in Dyersville traveled the long distance that snowy morning to learn how to make a positive impact on the lives of the unborn. They wanted to know more about the lobbying process.
“I wanted to gain further knowledge on the pro-life movement and how politics come into play,” said Beckman freshman Justin Wolfe of St. Francis of Xavier Parish in Dyersville.
Sophomore Emily Koetz said she, too, wanted to learn more about the role politics has in the pro-life debate.
“I went to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. [for two years] and I really enjoyed it,” Koetz said. “I know it is something I could do to stand up for life. I wanted to learn more about the politics side.”
After lunch and training on lobbying legislators, the group went to the Iowa State Capitol building, where a rally at the Capitol was held.  Bishop Richard Pates, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed the crowd.
“I have always been a supporter of pro-life policies and I always will be,” Gov. Branstad said.
Lt. Gov. Reynolds said “I truly believe the pro-life movement is a pro-women movement.”
Keynote speaker Wesley Smith closed the Pro-Life Rally with a second talk at the state capitol.

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