Last month, without much fanfare, a new research paper disclosed that 94 percent of Belgian physicians support the killing of new-born babies after birth if they are diagnosed with a disability.
A shocking revelation indeed that did not receive the attention it demanded. Consider this along with parents who believe that if their unborn babies are pre-diagnosed with a disability, they would choose to abort their child. Upwards of 70 percent of mothers whose children are given a prenatal disability diagnosis, such as Down Syndrome, abort to avoid the possibility of being burdened with caring for a disabled child.
This disdain for the disabled hits close to home for me. In 1997, my family received a letter from Michael Schiavo, the husband of my sister, Terri Schiavo, informing us that he intended to petition a court to withdraw Terri's feeding tube.
For those who do not remember, in 1990, at the age of 26, Terri experienced a still-unexplained collapse while at home with Michael, who subsequently became her legal guardian. Terri required only love and care, food and water via feeding tube since she had difficulty swallowing as a result of her brain injury. Nonetheless, Michael's petition was successful, and Terri's life was intentionally ended in 2005 by depriving her of food and water, causing her to die from dehydration and starvation. It took almost two excruciating weeks.
Prior to my sister's predicament, the biases that existed towards persons with disabilities had been invisible to me. Since then, I have come to learn the dark history of deadly discrimination towards persons with disabilities.
Indeed, some 20 years prior to Germany's T4 eugenics movement, where upwards of 200,000 German citizens were targeted and killed because of their physical or mental disability, the United States was experiencing its own eugenics movement.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas documented some of this history in his concurring opinion in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., Justice Thomas describes how eugenics became part of the academic curriculum being taught in upwards of 400 American universities and colleges.
It was not solely race that was the target of the U.S. eugenics movement. Eugenicists also targeted the institutionalized due to incurable illness, the physically and cognitively disabled, the elderly, and those with medical dependency.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, which wiped out pro-life laws in nearly every state and opened the floodgates to abortion throughout the entirety of pregnancy. Since then, 60 million children have been killed. Abortion as we know it today has become a vehicle for a modern-day eugenics program.
Since the Catholic Church was established, the Truth of Christ was the greatest shield against these types of attacks on the human person and the best weapon in the fight for equality and justice. Tragically, however, for several decades, the Church has been infiltrated by modernist clergy, creating disorder and confusion among the laity, perverting the teachings of the Church and pushing a reckless supposed “social justice" agenda.
My family witnessed this firsthand during Terri's case. Church teaching is clear: it is our moral obligation to provide care for the cognitively disabled like Terri. However, Bishop Robert Lynch, who was the bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, during Terri's case, offered no support and was derelict in his duties during the fight for Terri's life.
Bishop Lynch had an obligation to use his position to protect Terri from the people trying to kill her and to uphold Church teaching. Indeed, it was not only the silence of Bishop Lynch but that of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which also remained silent despite my family's pleas for help, that contributed to Terri being needlessly starved and dehydrated to death.
My family's experience, sadly, has turned out to be more of the rule than the exception. Consider what happened to Michael Hickson. Hickson was a 36-year-old, brain-injured person admitted to a Texas hospital after contracting COVID-19. Incredibly—and against the wishes of Michael's wife—the hospital decided not to treat Michael because they arbitrarily decided that his “quality of life" was “unacceptably low" due to his pre-existing disability. Michael died within a week once the decision not to treat him was imposed upon him despite the efforts of his wife to obtain basic care for her husband.
During my sister's case and our advocacy work with patients and their families, it would have been helpful to have a unified voice coming from our clergy consistently supporting the lives of our medically vulnerable. We desperately need to see faithful Catholic pastoral witness that confounds the expectations of the elite by pointing to Jesus Christ and the moral law.
A Church that appears more concerned with baptizing the latest social and political movements is a Church that may appear to be “relevant," but one that may also find itself swallowed up by the preoccupations of our time.
As Catholics, we know all too well the reluctance of priests to preach on issues of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other pro-life issues. We have heard that the Church cannot risk becoming too political.
At the same time, some within the Church are now openly supporting Black Lives Matter, an organization that openly declares itself hostile to the family, to moral norms as taught by the Church, and whose founders embrace the deadly ideology of Marxism.
For example, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, knelt in prayer with a cardboard sign asserting his support for this ideology.
Recently, during an online liturgy of the mass, Fr. Kenneth Boller at The Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York, led the congregation with what appears to sound like questions affirming the BLM agenda. Moreover, while reading these questions, pictures of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, assumed victims of racial injustice, were placed on the altar of St. Francis Xavier Church, a place typically reserved for Saints of the Catholic Church.
Contrast these two stories with what happened in the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana, where Rev. Theodore Rothrock of St. Elizabeth Seton Church fell victim to the ire of Bishop Timothy Doherty. Fr. Rothrock used strong language in his weekly church bulletin criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and its organizers. Consequently, Bishop Doherty suspended Fr. Rothrock from public ministry.
In 1972, Pope Pius VI said, “The smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God." It seems that too many of our clergy today are enjoying the smell.
I encourage all who are concerned about the human right to life and about Christ-centered reforms in our culture and our Church to raise your voices for pastoral leadership in every area of our shared lives as Christian people.
Bobby Schindler is a Senior Fellow with Americans United for Life, Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.