The value of accepting suffering

Alison Davis and Colin Harte
Alison Davis and Colin Harte


One of the most inspirational people I have ever met came in the form of a very fragile woman, Alison Davis.

What a grace and wonderful moment to meet her and her devoted caregiver of more than twenty years, Colin Harte.   Motivational speakers and leaders of all manner and kind can speak eloquent words and bring societal change about through their social and verbal skills.  They can take thousands and even millions of people on a journey in their life that brings a perceived hope and bring change to the world in which they live.  BUT this lady, reached to the very soul of my being.   The only other person in my life having this profound effect was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The very moment I first met Alison, I knew deep within my soul that I was in the presence of a very holy and very grace-filled woman.  Alison suffered with many illnesses in her life including Spina Bifida and being confined to a wheel chair all her life. She required a caregiver – a companion – twenty four hours, seven days a week to assist her with her personal cares.

Alison’s story is a testament to the real value of accepting suffering in our lives.  Alison was always a very joyful and thoughtful woman, full of love and compassion for all those she met. Despite being in constant pain and discomfort a lot of the time and despite not having any physical independence in her life, Alison championed the rights of the disabled and handicapped to be respected and assisted where needed.  Above all she fought for the rights of her fellow disabled community to have the right to life.  She founded the UK Disability Rights group, No less Human and travelled internationally (including New Zealand), to speak on disability rights and against voluntary euthanasia.

Alison grew up as an atheist.  She wanted to die on several occasions and almost succeeded. It was the care and determination of a true lady friend who helped her break the cycle of wanting to die. She would sit with Alison, removing all instruments within reach that she could use to harm herself.  It was this friend who persisted and who remained a faithful and true advocate for Alison’s life, that eventually gave her the hope and trust and a desire to live her life in a happy and meaningful way.

Then Alison was blessed with a new caregiver, who was destined for the priesthood.  He was to take care of Alison for just a few weeks, but continued on, staying at Alison’s home and providing her with the most loving an devoted care imaginable until Alison died in 2013.  She was 58 years old.

In the midst of intense suffering, Alison discovered the existence of God and His great love for her. She became a Catholic.  She accepted completely the Catholic Church as the repository of truth and the giver of life.  With the integrity of much experience she spoke of suffering with Christ as “the greatest privilege possible in the world.”

We had become good friends from the start, and the absolute love and joy given out from Alison to our own three special needs children surpassed any eloquent inspiring preacher or speaker I have ever heard.

From a wretched, unhappy, pain ridden young woman, who had despaired and had so much wanted to die… to a woman of hope, joy, and expectation and simplicity of heart.  Alison had a very intelligent and great mind, and spent her life writing and  speaking to advocate for the most vulnerable, in particular those in danger of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

I will always remember Alison for her amazing capacity to love – always with a gentle smile, regardless of the suffering she was enduring internally.  In her weakness she was very strong.


Graces are received when you pray outside an abortion facility

Praying HandsWho on earth would want to spend an hour or so standing outside across the road from an abortion facility praying for the mothers the fathers and the babies and also the people who perform this dreadful act?

Well I did today, and I must say it was a sheer act of the will.   I did not want to be there – I have many things to do and places to go, but the graces abound for those who somehow find an hour to pray at this place of Calvary.

I was standing with friends praying, and a lady came up to me and bent her head and said hello and started to say my name.  I looked up and she said “Thank you Colleen.  My son Harry is 14-years-old now and he is amazing and has grown up very well.  He has a younger brother and we are all very happy.”

She spent some time telling me about her life since our last encounter and wants to come and visit us at our John Paul II Centre for Life.   I was awestruck that she would recognise me after all these years.  I had been praying outside that same abortion facility well over fourteen years ago when I met Yuki.  Our Centre supported her throughout the pregnancy and beyond.   Today she could not thank me enough for saving her son’s life.

So I plead with you, if you are able, please join Mark and his team in Auckland, or Clare and her team in Wellington, between now and Palm Sunday which is the close of this 40 Days for Life vigil.  I promise you that your presence does make a difference.  Lives are saved.  People are given hope.  The light of Christ shines in the darkness.

Please know that each one of you is always in our prayers and on our hearts.

Sign up for the Auckland vigil.
Sign up for the Wellington vigil.

Why are the Greens withholding information about their proposed law to decriminalise abortion?

The following article is written by Ken Orr of Right to Life New Zealand.  He raises some very important questions about the Greens abortion policy.

Right to Life is disappointed that the Green Party is refusing to provide a response to the seven very important questions that have been addressed to  Jan Logie, spokesperson for the Green Party on Women’s and rainbow issues. On the Green’s web site, Jan Logie, describes herself as a” lefty feminist lesbian”. Supporting this destructive policy is not an authentic feminist position. She says this about herself. ” I am passionate about reducing inequality, eliminating violence and promoting participation in society, locally and globally.” She states that she:

believes in public engagement and greater transparency which are central to trust in both the system and politicians.

To promote participation in society locally it is necessary to be provided with information. Why then is she refusing to provide the requested information which the electorate are entitled to have, to assist them to make an informed decision about the controversial policy of decriminalization of abortion…Women in particular have a need for this information as the decriminalization of abortion would  have a catastrophic and degrading affect on the status of women as mothers and child bearers.

1  Why are the Greens seeking to establish 20 weeks as a cut off point. What happens at 20 weeks in the development of the child that requires this limit?

2  Are you planning a restrictive bubble around abortion clinics where no one may enter to pray, protest or to offer women seeking an abortion assistance?

3  What action will the law require when doctors refuse to refer a woman seeking an abortion to another doctor who will perform the abortion?

4  You require neutral counsellors what constitutes neutrality?

5  Would you permit abortions after 20 weeks for Down syndrome and Spina Bifida?

6  Would you permit sex selection abortions up to 20 weeks and beyond?

7  Is there any requirement for informed consent with women being give information about the alternatives to abortion such as adoption or parenting. The potential complications that might follow an abortion and information about the development of the child?

Those who govern do so with the consent of the governed. Those who are elected to Parliament should have a firm commitment to pursue the common good and to seek a just society. The foundation of the common good is recognition of the right to life of every member of the community from conception to natural death. There is no place in our Parliament for any person who is not committed to upholding the common good.

A functioning democracy requires a properly informed electorate to enable it to elect wise and prudent men and women to govern them. Right to Life requests that in order to promote an informed electorate that Ms Jan Logie provides answers to the seven important questions presented to her.

Doctors may refuse to prescribe contraceptives

Right to Life NZ

Right to Life congratulates Dr Joseph Lee, a doctor at the Wairau Community Clinic for refusing to prescribe contraceptives to a young woman.

There is enshrined in law, protection for the conscience of doctors and others who on conscience grounds refuse to prescribe contraceptives. Parliament passed the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act in 1977, included section 46 which states that no registered medical practitioner, registered nurse, or other person shall be under any obligation to;

perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or any operation undertaken for the purpose of rendering the patient sterile or assist in the fitting, or supply or administer or assist in the supply or administering, of any contraceptive, or to give any advice relating to contraception.

It is of the utmost importance that for the practice of medicine that we uphold the primacy of conscience. A doctor who does not practice medicine according to his informed conscience becomes the most dangerous man in the land. It was the subjugation of conscience that allowed doctors in Nazi Germany to murder disabled children in Germany and to conduct inhumane experiments on prisoners in concentration camps. John H Newman wrote,

In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love well and avoid evil, the voice of conscience, when necessary, speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is his very dignity: according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.

Doctor Lee also has legal protection for his conscience provided by the Health Practitioners Competency Act, 2003, section 174. Under that statute a doctor who refuses to prescribe contraceptives is obligated to advise the patient that they may make their request to another doctor or a Family Planning Clinic. Protection is also provided by the NZ Bill of Rights 1990, section 13, freedom of conscience.

Right to Life requests that the Medical Council steadfastly upholds the legal protection afforded to the conscience of medical practitioners. It is disturbing that the pro-abortion Women’s Health Action Trust falsely claim that “contraception is a basic health right for women, that should take precedence over a doctor’s personal beliefs.” This is an unwarranted challenge to the right of doctors to follow their conscience in the practice of medicine.

Contraception is not good medicine. It has no place in our health services and constitutes an assault on women’s reproductive faculties. Why does society continue to encourage women to fill their bodies with powerful and dangerous drugs? The fruit of contraception is an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, ex-nuptial pregnancies and abortions. The solution is abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage. The contraceptive pill is also abortifacient and may destroy a new human being before it is implanted in its mother’s womb. Contraception is part of a culture of death. Natural family planning, part of a culture of life, allows for the spacing of children in marriage and is 98 per cent effective.

Right to Life encourages other doctors to join the growing number of doctors who promote a culture of life by refusing to prescribe contraceptives.

World-wide novena to keep Ireland pro-life

Keep Ireland Abortion FreePeople throughout the world have been asked by the group “Irish Pro Life USA” to participate in a novena prayer to stop the passage of abortion laws in Ireland.

Ireland has always been a pro-life country.  Today, those values of life and family are being tested.  The people are standing firm though with 60,000 turning out for the Rally for Life on Saturday 6th July.

The bill is set to come before the Dáil again this week with a vote scheduled to be held at 10 pm on Wednesday.

Family Life International NZ are participating in this Novena for Ireland and encourage every one of good will to join in.  The Novena began on Monday 8th July and finishes on Tuesday 16th July, although it can be started at any time.  The Novena Prayers can be found here.

“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world… Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.”
~ Blessed John Paul II – The Gospel of Life #100

Our 19-week son lived only minutes after birth, but has touched thousands

Walter 19 weeks 3 daysRe-posted from

Friday June 14th did not turn out as I expected.

I started the day enjoying a pedicure with the bride to be and very good friend Megan along with her mom Cathy and all of her bridesmaids. We had an enjoyable lunch and ran a few errands and then were headed home to start preparing for the rehearsal. Starting on the Tuesday before I had some mild spotting. It was never anything much and dark brown, a normal pregnancy occurence. I never had any pain at any point. On Friday I noticed that the spotting started to turn a little more pink. When I returned home to gather all of my camera equipment for the rehearsal I decided to call my midwife to see what she thought of the spotting just for my own peace of mind. I knew I was going to be on my feet a lot the next day, probably about 12 hours. She decided it would be best to head to the ER to be checked, again more for my own peace of mind then anything else. I did have a complete placenta previa with Michayla, so we were both a little concerned that it could be a placenta issue again. I called Josh who had just gotten to the park with the girls and he grabbed the girls and headed back to the house.

We left Flora around three and headed to a recommended hospital in Kokomo, which was about 45 minutes away. On the way we called our parents just to give them a heads up. We arrived at the ER and checked in. I could tell that the nurse really wanted me to be over 20 weeks. The policy is that anyone under 20 weeks of pregnancy stays in the ER, otherwise they head straight to OB. I was 19 weeks and 3 days. As we sat in the waiting area there were several pregnant women that came and went because they were over 20 weeks, and there I sat, waiting. We were finally taken back around five and after I changed we found a heartbeat right away. I believe it was in the high 160′s. Hearing the heartbeat immediately put me at ease and I just sat waiting on the doctor to show up. Finally a PA or NP, I can’t remember what she was, showed up and said that the doctor would be back and do a vaginal exam and send me for an ultrasound. Then we sat and waited some more… finally the doctor showed up and said he wasn’t doing a vaginal exam and I would be going to ultrasound, then he left. At this point, it was past 5:30 and Josh had to leave to run the rehearsal since he was officiating the wedding the next day. We were both a little excited that there was going to be an ultrasound and hoping we could find out what we were having. We were scheduled for our 20 week ultrasound when we returned home on Wednesday.

At 6 PM, a new nurse came in and gave me three glasses of water and told me to drink up for the ultrasound and then she left. I put on the tv and started watching ‘House Hunters.’ I was assuming I wouldn’t be able to finish the 30 minute episode because they would come get me for my ultrasound, but I was very wrong. A few minutes after six I started to feel a few twinges of pain. By the end of the half hour show I knew I was in labor. There was no doubt in my mind, I’ve been through it before.

I couldn’t sit in the bed anymore because the pain was too intense. I called for my nurse and she didn’t come. Ten minutes later I called again and she finally showed up. I was bawling my eyes out at this point because of the pain and all of the emotions streaming though me. I was not mentally prepared to go through labor and everything in me was fighting it every step of the way. I did not want this labor to happen yet. When she finally showed up she didn’t seem to believe that I was in labor and said she’d let the doctor know, then left. I have no idea how long until he came back, but all he said was that he would push the ultrasound up and left. I felt like I was put in the back corner of the ER and left to my own. No help, no sympathy, nothing. I was not able to call my mom because there was no cell reception. I could text Joshua because we are both on iphones and I had a wireless signal, but I didn’t want to worry him because I knew he had to get through the rehearsal.

A little after seven Josh left the church, which was about 20 minutes away. I was taken to ultrasound at around the same time. The ultrasound technician was the first person that I felt actually cared about me and was nice to me. Not that the others were mean, but they didn’t give me any more time than they had to. Right away she found the heartbeat for me, which was encouraging. She wasn’t able to tell me anything else. She was very quick with her ultrasound and when she left to talk to the radiologist, she found another lady to come sit with me. We didn’t talk, but it was comforting to know someone else was there. When I went to the bathroom to clean myself up from the ultrasound there was a lot more blood and I completely fell apart at that point. Joshua arrived just as they were wheeling me back to my room. They had someone waiting for him so that he could be brought to me right away. The ultrasound technician made sure he could find me. When we got back to the ER room I had to use the restroom again and when I went in the technician turned to Josh and said, “I’m sorry, and I don’t want her to see me crying, but I will be praying for you” and she gave him a hug and left. It was about 7:20 when I got back to my room.

At this point there was no break between the contractions. They were so intense and just as one finished another would start. I’ve been through labor and I grew up hearing a lot about it from my mother who helped with home births and is now a L&D nurse. I’ve also been in a few births for my photography, so I knew listening to myself that I was at the end. I wouldn’t give up hope yet, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that I was losing my baby. At some point the PA or whatever she was came in and said “your fetus is still viable.” I seriously wanted to slap her. She was at least a little more sympathetic than the doctor who I never saw again. They told me that they were going to send me upstairs and do a cervical cerclage which did raise my hopes some.

At this point everything started becoming a blur, I was finally taken upstairs to OB around 8 PM. I was in so much pain I couldn’t tell what was going on around me. Anyone that knows me knows how much I hate needles and have a tendency to pass out. It took them three tries and a lot of blood on my arms before they finally got an IV in. I didn’t care one bit. The doctor checked me and then sat down beside me on the bed and told me that we were going to be delivering our baby. This was the first that anyone had called him a baby.

I immediately started bawling and asking if there was any other option. She was so very kind and very upset that the ER had told me they were going to perform a cerclage. In order for a cerclage to be performed you cannot be in active labor, which I was at that point. I was also fully dilated and my water was bulging. There was no other option at this point. She apologized over and over and was so kind as were all of the nurses. I can’t even tell you how many people were in our room and doing things to me, but I was never left alone and always had someone with me. I was offered some pain medicine which I accepted and the pain started to ease some. It was still very strong during contractions but I was able to relax in between. Joshua left the room to deliver the horrible news to my parents and sisters who were all on vacation in the Outer Banks and his parents back in PA. Our friends Kip & Cathy came from the rehearsal to see if we needed anything and to be with us. Then sweet Megan who should have been focusing on her wedding the next day came to check on us. She was there talking and crying with me when my water broke.

Walter was breech so we were waiting on my water to break on it’s own and let nature progress at its own pace. I don’t remember what time I started pushing, but I was not feeling the contractions anymore after my water broke, so I did have to push several times to get his tiny body out. He was born at 9:42 PM and he was handed up to me as soon as his cord was clamped.

I was crying so hard at this point but he was perfect. He was fully formed and everything was there. I could see his heart beating in his tiny chest. Joshua and I both held him and cried over him and looked over our perfect, tiny son. The nurses and doctor left us to have some private time alone with him. Unfortunately, my IV alarm kept going off so my nurse had to keep coming in to check on that, but she was very gracious and apologetic the entire time. Cathy and my sister-in-law Rachel returned to the hospital to bring the items that I needed and were able to hold Walter. We were so thankful that Rachel was also there for the wedding since she took care of our girls so that Cathy and Megan did not need to worry about having two preschoolers on top of everything else that was going on. Sometime between midnight and 1, I had to be taken to the OR to have a D&C because the placenta would not release on its own. There were two ladies that came to be with me and were with me the entire time so I would never be alone. The first thing they did was pray with me, which was so amazing. The D&C went well and I was soon back in my room and sleeping from the medicines and anesthesia.

I cannot say enough good things about my doctor and the nurses that were there with me. They never once mentioned the word fetus. They prayed with me, cried with me and were there for my every need. Even in a time of so much pain I felt loved by them all. They took such absolute wonderful care of us. They contacted the local funeral home and were going to take care of all of the forms and make all of the calls for us to take him home to PA if we wanted. A gentleman from the funeral home came and talked with us about our options and he was so very kind. In the end we did decide to have him cremated. It was the easiest and best option for us. My doctor made every effort to make sure I had all of my questions answered. She even took the time to talk to my midwife personally and gave me her number in case my mom, an OB nurse, had any questions. She didn’t have to do any of that, and I truly appreciated it. We left the hospital with many books and trinkets to remember our son by. They made sure that the girls each had a few mementos to remember their brother by. Shortly after returning home we had a wonderful card that had notes from all of the nurses and doctor that took care of me during our stay. So while I felt abandoned and alone in the ER, the OB area was amazing. They encouraged us to hold and bond with our son. In fact he left our room while I had the D&C and then was back with us until the funeral home came to take him.

I’m heartbroken by the stories I’ve been hearing from people who weren’t allowed to see their child. That would be so absolutely devastating! I held him, cuddled him, while his heart was beating. I held him to my heart, I counted his toes and kissed his tiny head. I will always cherish those memories that I have of him.

The next morning, Rachel brought our daughters to the hospital. There wasn’t ever any doubt in my mind that I needed to have the girls in to see their brother. Michayla especially has been so excited about the baby and really wanting a brother. She knew something wasn’t right and kept asking Rachel and then her daddy as he brought them to our room about the baby. She kept asking if the baby was ok and if we could take him home. It took Emma a little bit to comprehend what I was telling her when I told her that Jesus took their baby to Heaven with Him, but she did understand as well. She has bounced back pretty quick though, and besides randomly telling people that our baby died, doesn’t talk about it too much. Michayla on the other hand is a completely different story. She was absolutely devastated and cried and cried. She has been asking so many questions and it’s hard for her when we have to tell her that we don’t know. Joshua still went and performed the ceremony. If I had been able to, I would have still done the photos. On top of everything that happened that was also hard for me, not fulfilling a commitment. I know I had no control and in no way are they upset with me, but it still bothers me.

We still do not know why or how this happened. My midwife has talked personally with the OB doctor that treated me in Indiana. We’ll be getting all of the records and reports as they finish up the dictations and receive pathology reports back. It could have been a cervix issue, maybe a result of some of the damage from Emma’s birth. It could be preterm labor or a world of other things and we may never know why or how. There will be extra precautions taken if we can ever get pregnant again. That is another area that is unknown. We went through so much and many trips to the specialist in Frederick to conceive Walter. So much still to think about…

I am so very glad that Joshua went to our vehicle and got my camera. At first I did not want any photos, but they are the only thing I have to look back on now. I’m still in shock at how much his photos have been shared and commented on. In his short life of just a few minutes he has touched more lives then I ever could have imagined. I have gotten messages from people all around the country who have experienced a loss or were just touched by his story. I’ve even had a few people tell me that they were able to use his photos to reach out to a hurting woman who was contemplating an abortion. Just because the child within cannot be seen by us does not mean that he is a blob of cells. Walter was perfectly formed and very active in the womb. If he had just a few short more weeks he would have had a fighting chance at life. I don’t understand why the Lord took him home, but I have to trust in his perfect timing. I may never know why, but it is a comfort to know where he is and that I will see him again. For now, he’s with his heavenly father who loves him unmeasurably more than I, as his earthly mother ever could.

If you would like to see some more of Walter’s photos, please visit my website here.

Please feel free to share our photos. In all our hurt, I am glad that some good can come out of this. I pray that the Lord will continue to use Walter’s photos to impact many.

If anyone would like to contact me directly, you can find me on facebook or email me directly at

New Zealand abortions decline for the 5th consecutive year

AUCKLAND, 19 June, 2013 ( – The downward trend for induced abortions in New Zealand has continued for the 5th consecutive year and numbers have now have dropped to their lowest since 1995.

Figures released today reveal that there were 14,745 induced abortions in the year ended December 2012. This is 1,118 less than the previous year, where 15,863 induced abortions were recorded.

While abortions in most of the age categories have declined, there has been a small rise in women having abortions in the 30-34 and 45 years-plus brackets.

The highest numbers of abortions occurred in the 20-24 year old age group (4,560) a trend that is consistent year on year. The abortion rate in general is 16.1 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, but for the 20-24 age group the rate is 29 per 1,000 women.

The average age of a woman receiving an abortion was 25.

Just over half (55%) of all abortions were performed by 10 weeks of pregnancy. When more detailed information is released later this year by the Abortion Supervisory Committee it is expected that the number of medical abortions will have increased significantly from the 1,000 performed in 2011.

The majority (62%) were first time abortions, although 24.7% had had one previous abortion and 13.1% had had two or more previous abortions.

Abortion is legal in New Zealand throughout pregnancy under the grounds of mental and physical health or when there is a serious threat to the life of the mother. There are further grounds for abortion if under 20 weeks, which include rape and incest, intellectual disability of the mother, physical or intellectual disability of the unborn child. 97.6% of all abortions performed in 2011 were solely on the grounds of “danger to mental health.”

Numerous studies have linked abortion to a greater incidence of anxiety, illicit drug use, suicidal behaviour and other mental health issues. One of the most recent studies from New Zealand concluded, “The growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence”.

The decline in abortion numbers is being credited to some degree to the rising use among New Zealand women of long-acting reversible contraception such as Jadelle and IUDs. Jadelle, a contraceptive implant, has been funded by Pharmac since 2010. Since then, the number of Jadelle implants inserted had risen from 0 to 13,600 in 2012.

Annabel Henderson Morrell, National Secretary of the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) declared that “spending money on funding contraception and improving contraceptive access was both fiscally smart and socially responsible.”

Family Life International NZ’s National Director, Dame Colleen Bayer, noted that the long-acting contraceptives actually work, at least in part, by preventing newly conceived human life from implanting in the womb. In this way they can cause chemical abortions.

“No one knows the true figure of human lives lost from the moment of conception in New Zealand. Let us not forget the ones whose lives will never be recorded” she said.

In 2011 almost 48% of women presenting for an abortion had been recorded as using contraception.

ProLife NZ’s spokesperson Mary-Anne Evers attributes the decline in abortions to “a greater awareness of the development of the child in the womb, and the ongoing work of pro-life groups around New Zealand”. She noted that “there is still much work to be done.”

Right to Life NZ’s spokesperson Ken Orr commended “those brave and courageous women who, when faced with an unplanned pregnancy chose life for their child.”

The news has encouraged pro-life groups to continue working to promote the sanctity of the unborn child and to “care for the woman, her present need and her future health and well-being,” Dame Colleen said.

“Our vision is for a country where no woman needs to choose abortion, where every woman feels supported to be able to choose life for their child.” A vision echoed by all the pro-life groups in New Zealand.


This article has been reposted from