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Center Intern Update: Jessica Rigsbee

“It is passivity that dulls feeling.”—Susan Sontag

“Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.”—Noam Chomsky

Palais De L’Europe
It’s an easy trap to fall into being just morally and ethically against an injustice, but not actively trying to take steps to prevent that injustice, or put an end to it. Thinking that something is wrong and complaining about it is the easy part; actually taking steps to end that injustice is more difficult. This is the place that I found myself when confronted with the graphic reality of millions of children who are aborted every year; both in Europe and the United States. 

Flags at Palais De L’Europe
I have always been pro-life and against abortions of any kind; and yet, besides voting on certain pro-life legislation/representatives, I have never taken steps to be fully informed on the state of abortion around the world, nor taken steps to fight against it. I remained on the sidelines, strongly disagreeing with the practice of abortion, but at the same time not being actively engaged in the issue.

Front of Parliament Building
Working with the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), I had the opportunity to research abortion legislation in the United States and compare it to what currently exists in Europe in order to contribute to a report to be submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I specifically researched medical evidence demonstrating that an unborn child has the ability to feel pain by 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

Parliament Building
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would prevent abortions after 20 weeks, and provide care for those babies born alive after an attempted abortion. The Bill is to be heard by the Senate, and many states have already passed legislation recognizing and attempting to prevent the pain experienced by unborn children. However, in Europe, the topic of abortion and, in particular, babies surviving their abortion and their ability to feel pain is not discussed and rarely given weight.

I also translated many testimonies from French doctors and nurses that the ECLJ collected in order to demonstrate that it is not rare for children to be born alive after an attempted abortion. I was confronted with the reality that extremely premature babies are often born alive and either left to slowly and painfully die, or they are killed by the doctors and/or nurses. 
Strasbourg La Petite France

Many doctors as well as nurses wanted to share their experiences of seeing such horrific things happen in the course of an abortion procedure. Reading the first-hand experiences from those in the medical field revealed the extent to which injustice is occurring in Western, developed countries that claim to honor and uphold human rights.

Being able to contribute, even in a small way, to a report on an important subject that has never been widely discussed in Europe before was a great experience for me. On a personal level, the research and the testimonies I read were a vital reminder that knowing and acknowledging an injustice (such as abortion) is occurring is good, but not enough. Passivity is a trap that we all can easily fall into, but the Lord used this internship and the work I did to remind me that He is never passive when it comes to those facing injustice in this world. 

As a follower of Christ, He calls me to avoid the trap of passivity. So as my internship with the ECLJ draws to a close, I can see how the Lord has encouraged and strengthened my desire to use this opportunity to study and eventually practice law in order to be active in the fight against injustice. I will return to the United States with a new awareness, and a renewed desire to be more than a spectator in the advancement of human rights.