Life First

Dead birds and the true meaning of being pro-life all in one column

By Fr. Don Braukmann/St. Philip, Bemidji & St. Charles, Pennington

Someone saw a robin recently and had to share the news with whomever would listen! The birds are making their way north and for some reason that reality reminded me of a controversy dealing with birds.

Hosting the most recent Super Bowl was a big deal for Minnesota (an even bigger one if the Vikings had been in it!). Yet the new stadium in Minneapolis has had a lot of controversy attached to it because of the number of birds flying into the building and dying.

Apparently the stadium sits within a migratory bird pathway, and the reflective glass that gives the stadium a spectacular look also leads to fatal collisions for birds that mistake the glass for sky. The birds are at risk of collision while migrating from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico on a path that generally follows the Mississippi River.

One article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune just before the Super Bowl said:

“The state-of-the-art stadium, deemed worthy to host Super Bowl LII, should leave Minnesota feeling proud –  except for the dead white-throated sparrows, the dead ruby-throated hummingbirds and 20 other species of birds that have been found dead upon impact with the 200,000 square feet of exterior glass that creates a mirror-like façade.”

The problem has created a firestorm of sorts in the Twin Cities with representatives from the local Audubon Chapter and the Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary (to name just two) who have challenged decisions made on the glass since the stadium was first on the drawing table.

In a three-month period during the fall, a group of volunteers circled the stadium each day and took time-stamped photos of the casualties. There were 60 dead birds and 14 labeled as “stunned”.

Now, those who have been reading my column over the years know exactly where I am going with this.

Sure, the issue of birds flying into the stadium glass should have been caught in the planning stages; yes, bird life is important as we care for God’s creation; and, okay, the environmental groups raising the issue have a role to play in our society.

And now the word you knew was coming: BUT!

But, I am still amazed, after all these years in the pro-life movement, when I hear how priority is given in the news and in political circles to dying birds, or whales, or seals while our nation allows the killing of 4,000 children in the womb a day. It is so hard to get my brain around how that can happen in a society which claims to be civilized. Killing our own children so we can live as we wish as a nation is barbaric and shameful.

Interest groups want to save the birds … where are we, as a nation, to help those in an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy see the beauty of life within them … no matter how she got there?

As I have said a hundred times in past columns, I blame our nation for the scourge of abortion, not the women who seek it. Of course, some use abortion as a form of contraception, yet, even they deserve a challenge from a people who claim every life matters, every life is a gift. Science has made it clear the “glob of cells” at the moment of conception is a human life, not an animal and not “potential” human life as some pro-abortionists claim.

Still, we have a problem among those of us who claim to be pro-life. When those who claim to be pro-life simply give the cause lip service and out of the same mouth call opponents names, rate certain people as second-class citizens and lie to get their political way, the pro-life cause is damaged.

Just like the saying goes, “If it was illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” So too with the pro-life movement. Are we the people who make sure crisis pregnancy centers flourish in our communities? Are we the ones who demand quality health care for women and children? Are we the ones who promote adoption and help fund those services? Do we assert our political power to defend children born in this country to illegal immigrants? Do we petition for quality education and an economy which allows families to find a way out of poverty? Do we, by the way we treat others, show them respect and gratitude for the life God shares with them?

I believe the pro-life cause has been seriously hurt in recent years.

I have stated my opinion in an earlier column which prompted quite a response from all sides. But here is the question I propose to all pro-lifers: “Name a person you know who was once pro-abortion who is now pro-life because of the example of our present elected leadership in the pro-life movement.”

There was a time when elected pro-life leaders were outstanding people who, by their convictions and their compassion, made others stop and think about the abortion issue in a different way. They invited a sincere discussion of the issue, not responding with name calling, bullying or condemning women.

The converts to the pro-life cause today are because of a change of heart through the grace of God, not through the role models in Washington D.C.

So, may a solution be found for the dying birds and may those of us who claim to be pro-life show the world what it means to walk the talk and not just pay lip service to the cause.