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Fifteen years ago, whenever I would attempt to discuss embryonic stem cells, I would get that "deer in the headlights" look. Huh? What's a stem cell, people would ask? The Clinton administration had recently put this issue in the limelight by proposing federal funding that would involve the deliberate destruction of human embryos for research purposes. And yet the enormity of this depravity was just not sinking in with the prolife movement.
I knew my work was cut out for me and I didn't like it one bit, but I also knew it was what God was calling me to do: "You don't have to change the world Debi, just tell them the truth."
Who, me? I don't even like science, I whined in reply. I remember mumbling something about how this was really going to mess up my perfectly well-ordered life but I humbly complied. And so, Children of God for Life was born as a prolife organization that would educate the public on these issues that no one else seemed to want to touch at the time.
Now, ignorance breeds fear and so I began giving talks on the differences between adult and embryonic stem cells. I ran full page ads in secular newspapers, encouraging people to write and voice their concerns during the time period for public response.
So when the Clinton administration tabled the issue, I thought it was over and I happily settled back into my normal routine. But less than two weeks later I would read an article that was about to change my life forever: "Vaccines from abortion judged morally acceptable". I was shocked, stunned and horrified on many levels, particularly by the nonchalant acceptance of a Catholic bioethicist quoted in the article.
Now in fairness, this bioethicist knew nothing about the history of the abortions or the ensuing research. What we did know is that these tiny martyrs had been reduced to nothing more than biological numbers, patents and product ingredients. I was nauseated to realize that my own children had received some of these vaccines. I felt deceived, angry, violated. How many other moms felt the same, I wondered? And while I knew something had to be done, I also knew that I didn't want to be the one to do it.
Now, I like to think of myself as a faithful willing servant if God calls upon me, but I am also not stupid. The pharmaceutical industry is huge, powerful, rich. Talk about David and Goliath!
So I chalked it up as yet one more nasty attack on the culture of life, sighed and tried to move on with my life. But there was this constant tugging at my heart that wouldn’t go away. And I knew that once again, God was leading me somewhere I didn't want to go.
That place would begin with exhaustive research into the past and what I would uncover aged me beyond my years, broke my heart, and shattered my soul. There were science reports and patents dating into the early 1900's, detailing forced abortions, sterilizations, intact babies removed from their mothers, hearts still beating, live dissections, experiments with various fetal organs - all in the name of science and the almighty dollar.
Somehow we have been lulled into believing that this barbaric, utilitarian practice is the right thing to do – alas, we have no choice – we must protect society from infectious disease at all costs – unfortunate, but so very necessary.
I can only respond in a word that would not be permissible in this writing, so suffice it to say that using aborted babies as products to help those children fortunate enough to be born is akin to the most vile form of cannibalism imaginable. Yet we are asked to accept it for every polite reason except one that begs the question:
What kind of a civilization have we really progressed to when we can find no better way to protect ourselves than by using the remains of murdered children?
Despite the seemingly insurmountable barriers, Children of God for Life has made progress. We expanded our education efforts to over two dozen foreign countries; we launched a successful campaign to ensure moral vaccine options in the event of a bio-terrorist attack; we exposed the use of aborted fetal cells in cosmetics and as testing material for the food and beverage industry; we mounted a victorious boycott of Pepsi which convinced them to change their research and development and last but not least, we have partnered with a prolife biotech firm that is working to provide moral alternatives for all vaccines and medicines that utilize aborted fetal material.
There is great hope as we move forward. And I have no doubt we will win this battle with God on our side, just as He gave David the strength to defeat Goliath. For with Him, all things are possible.
Debi Vinnedge is the founder and Executive Director of Children of God for Life. For more information on their work visit www.cogforlife.org
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This is the third installment of a series where pro-LIFE leaders are asked to share their journey with us. See the first two posts here and here.