Saturday, February 28, 2009

Man wakes from coma


Fifty-six-year-old Mike Connolly's heart stopped in late January. For four days he was comatose and his family were warned by doctors that he would never recover. Shortly before his life support was removed, he did the impossible, woke up and began communicating, even though his brain had been starved of oxygen for over thirty minutes when his heart stopped. The very same doctors who predicted he would never recover are now saying that he will make a full recovery in time. To quote one of his doctors precisely: "It's almost like a miracle."

Friday, February 27, 2009

I am the exception



Say NO to the Status Quo

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wesley Smith on Assisted Dying


Wesley Smith was in London earlier this week speaking at a parliamentary meeting organised by ALERT, a group that campaigns against the legalisation of euthanasia.

His excellent article on assisted suicide in Oregon was published in The Telegraph and argues that the 'right' to die can very quickly become the duty to die, a fact of which many of us who are involved with the pro-life campaign are all too aware. He cites the examples of two terminally ill patients in Oregon who were denied chemotherapy but promised help with assisted dying.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

50 Million Red Envelopes


Readers may be interested to know about a simple but brilliant idea to draw attention to the estimated 50 million babies aborted in the United States since the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. In a new red envelope campaign pro-lifers are sending empty red envelopes to President Obama, the idea being that each red envelope represents one lost life.

The idea is reported to be the brainchild of Christ (rhymes with mist) Otto. The idea came to him during a time of prayer. He wants to send President Obama a message of moral outrage regarding his support of abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy. Mr. Otto says the red envelope message would be "quiet but clear"

This afternoon I was praying about a number of things, and my mind began to wander. I was deeply distressed at the symbolic actions that President Obama took as he began his presidency. Namely, that he signed executive orders releasing funds to pay for abortions, permission to fund human stem cell research, and federal funding for contraception. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for nearly 20 years, and it pained my heart to see a man and a political party committed to the shedding of innocent blood. This man, and this party lead our country, but they do not represent me or the 54% of Americans who believe that abortion is wrong and should no longer be legal.

As I was praying, I believe that God gave me an interesting idea. Out in the garage I have a box of red envelopes. Like the powerful image of the red LIFE tape, an empty red envelope will send a message to Barack Obama that there is moral outrage in this country over this issue. It will be quiet, but clear.

Here is what I would like you to do:
Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores. On the front, address it to

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington , D.C.

On the back, write the following message. This envelope represents one child who died in abortion.It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.
Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this email to every one of your friends who you think would send one too or post it on your FB profile. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president.

See also BLOG post by SPUC director John Smeaton

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More about Pelosi


I have previously reported on the widely different press releases made by both the Holy See press office, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, and that released by Nancy Pelosi. The issue continues to draw attention and some of the recent commentaries are worth noting.

Comparing the two releases, Catholic commentator and author George Weigel responded saying that the statement from the office of Pelosi makes it obvious that there is more to the story: “that Pelosi, who shamelessly trumpets her ‘ardent’ Catholicism while leading congressional Democrats in a continuing assault on what the Catholic Church regards as the inalienable human rights of the unborn, was trying to recruit Benedict XVI to Team Nancy.”

In contrast Professor Douglas Kmiec, attacked Pope Benedict. (CNA Report) Professor Kmiec, who during the US Presidential election provided a justification for allowing Catholics to vote for Barack Obama, despite the president's consistent pro-abortion track record, wrote last week on Time Magazine's website that Pope Benedict XVI's words to Nancy Pelosi were "intrusive" in legal matters, because they put the whole judicial system in an impossible moral dilemma.

Professor Kmiec according to the article, implied that the Pope exaggerated or at least did not measure the consequences of his words when he told Nancy Pelosi that "jurists," in addition to legislators, must work "in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development." According to Kmiec, such a statement “has the potential, at least theoretically, to empty the U.S. Supreme Court of all five of its Catholic jurists, and perhaps all other Catholics who sit on the bench in the lower federal and state courts.”

Needless to say Kmiec’s viewpoint is not widely shared by others. Edward Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and director of its program on The Constitution, the Courts, and the Culture, questioned "whether Kmiec’s reading (of the Vatican statement) is actually a careful one." "For starters, Kmiec assumes that the term 'jurists' is equivalent to 'judges'," Whelan explains, when actually the terms applies to "any person who possesses a degree in law."

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver commenting on the incident said "Every Catholic, whether you're famous or anonymous ... has a responsibility to be faithful to what our Church believes about human life, and we believe human life is sacred and precious from the moment of conception," He also said he was happy that the Pope "took the occasion to remind her of something very important."

During this interview which took place on Fox News(reported by Lifesite News) Interviewer Neil Cavuto then asked Archbishop Chaput: "Would you grant her [Pelosi] Communion in your church?" Archbishop Chaput responded,
"I would like to talk to her if she were coming to a church in the Archdiocese of Denver. I would say to her what I would say to anyone: again, if you don't accept what the Church teaches, you shouldn't present yourself for Communion, because Communion means you're in agreement with what the Church teaches".


I suspect this is not the final word on the affair.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI warns of the Dangers of Eugenics


Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Life on Saturday 21st February welcomed progress in the area of genetics which he said has “truly taken giant steps in understanding the basic language of biological information, which determines the development of a living being.” This knowledge according to the Holy Father makes it possible to more easily arrive at earlier and more effective diagnosis of genetic maladies, but also to create therapies to alleviate illnesses and, in some cases, to restore, the hope of regaining health.

Pope Benedict said that in addition to the challenges of genetics there is a danger of the re-emergence of eugenics which, in the past humiliated man and provoked immense suffering. The Pope acknowledged that while the terrible practices of former regimes were not being proposed he told his audience, that a new mentality is creeping in that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights.

There is thus he said "a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable". In this way, “ the respect that is due to every human being -- even in the presence of a defect in his development or a genetic illness that could manifest itself in the course of his life -- is weakened, and those children whose life is judged unworthy of being lived are punished from the moment of conception”.

Pope Benedict also told his audience that, “it is necessary to re-emphasize that every discrimination exercised by any power in regard to persons, peoples or ethnic groups on the basis of differences that stem from real or presumed genetic factors is an act of violence against all of humanity". What must be forcefully re-emphasized he said, "is the equal dignity of every human being according to the fact itself of having life.”

The Holy Father during the course of his address also said that “if man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the first stage of development, that would mean that biotechnologies would surrender to the will of the stronger”. Confidence in science he told his audience “cannot forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake”.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

CNN bans Obama ad



Some time ago, I posted this pro-life video depicting President Obama as an unborn baby. I posted it because I felt that it was both hard-hitting and very positive about the sanctity of human life. I gather from Lifenews that CNN has banned the ad on the spurious grounds that “CNN doesn't accept advocacy ads that portray personal decisions in a manner that suggests a position in favor of the advocacy message, without having permission of the persons involved. CNN is not accepting this particular advocacy ad because it deals with a highly personal and private matter and does so without the consent of those involved.”

The president of Fidelis, which sponsored the ad, answered: “This is absurd. Our ad does not suggest that Barack Obama is pro-life. Instead, we make the obvious point that Obama’s mother gave birth to a child that ultimately became the 1st African American President. This is a fact, not an opinion. There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We never mention the word abortion."

And yes, CNN has broadcast pro-abortion advertisements in the past, but let us not be unreasonable and expect a level playing field from these people.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Disgusting Video Game Pulled from Amazon

This is one of the most disgusting news stories I have ever read. The Belfast Telegraph reports that Amazon has finally agreed to withdraw a video game it was selling on its site which involved the player stalking and raping women.

The details of the game were so graphic and offensive that the newspaper was not allowed to report parts of it in a public forum. The game apparently also contained modes in which players could involve other male players in acts of rape and 'special features' such as forcing the woman to get an abortion if she became pregnant.

Keith Vaz, MP, stated:

“It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape.

"To know that this was widely available through a major online retailer is utterly shocking, I do not see how this can be allowed.

“I am pleased that this game has been withdrawn, however, questions must be asked about how this shocking game was ever on sale. There should be harsher restrictions on games such as these being available on the market.”


I cannot find words to describe how appalled I feel about a game like this being created in the first place. As a husband and father, it sickens me that such a terrible crime against women could be glorified and encouraged in this way. It is a positive step that Amazon has withdrawn the game but they should apologise to customers for ever offering it for sale.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pelosi and the Pope


Pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi met the Holy Father at the end of a General Audience. Fr Ray Blake reports on the entertainingly different accounts of the meeting given by the Vatican Press Office and Pelosi herself. I thought this comment from the Vatican press office was particularly encouraging:

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hope from the young


Twelve-year-old Lia already knows that standing firm on the sanctity of life is hard. When she decided to give a speech for a school competition on abortion, she faced opposition and threats that she would be disqualified because of the 'controversial' message of her talk. She refused to back down and after a heated discussion among members of the judging panel, she was declared the winner.

Lia's speech was posted on YouTube and attracted 100,000 viewers. It is deeply shameful that a child should have faced open persecution because she chose to give a speech on a subject about which she felt strongly, but it is a great cause for hope that she had the courage to stand firm and speak the truth. Well done, Lia.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chinese Lawyer denied early release


Chen Guancheng, the blind lawyer who was imprisoned on spurious grounds for exposing thousands of atrocities connected with the One Child Policy, has been denied early release on medical grounds. Chen has been denied visits from his wife and has reportedly been subjected to severe beatings whilst in gaol. He has been ill for a number of months but pleas for early release so that he can access appropriate medical treatment have been ignored by the authorities.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Catholic Church under attack


As the Catholic Church marked the 80th anniversary of the Vatican State the dissident pro-abortion group "Catholics" for a Free Choice (CFFC) has once again used the opportunity to renew its attacks on the Church even claiming falsely that the Holy See is duplicitous and that when it participates as a state in the international system, religious freedom is endangered, women's lives are placed at risk and public health efforts are hampered.

In reality the truth is the exact opposite, not only does the Catholic Church uphold religious freedom and the value of all human life, it provides practical support through its many agencies for women whose lives would otherwise be endangered.

Jon O’Brien of CFFC in a statement says that the Vatican’s claims to statehood can change depending on the circumstances and recently it “claimed statehood to ask for diplomatic immunity from sex abuse cases in the US while denying statehood to refuse co-operation with the International Criminal Court”.

The statement also says the Holy See is represented at these meetings by the hierarchy and blatently claims their views are in no way reflective of the views of the one billion-plus Catholics the world over. What nonsense.

The statement directly attacks the status of the Holy See at the UN and seeks to have it treated as a religious institution not a state.

This is not the first time the dissident group sought to have the international community review the position of the Holy See and appears to be a revival of its earlier "See Change" campaign to have the Holy See expelled from the United Nations.

The use of the name Catholic as a platform for promoting the taking of innocent human life and to ridicule the Church is offensive to all Catholics and the actions of CFFC prompted the US Bishops conference (NCCB) in 2000 to issue the following statement,
a group calling itself Catholics for a Free Choice has been publicly supporting abortion while claiming it speaks as an authentic Catholic voice. That claim is false. In fact, the group's activity is directed to rejection and distortion of Catholic teaching about the respect and protection due to defenseless unborn human life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God Doesn't Make Mistakes

Take a look at this beautiful video about Down's Syndrome on Fr Ray Blake's blog

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rape victim accuses clinic of forced abortion


A woman who became pregnant at the age of fifteen as a result of statutory rape, has spoken out against abortionist Alberto Hodari, accusing him of subjecting her to a forced abortion. She describes being told that she was going to the clinic for a medical examination, only to be subjected to a forced suction abortion.

The story jogged my memory about a video I came across recently by Students For Life, showing Dr Hodari giving a talk to medical students in which he admitted lying to patients, joked about doctors having 'a licence to lie' and said that he never 'worries about doing abortions' or 'feels bad' about them.

Do radical feminists honestly believe their own rhetoric when they claim that men like Hodari actually care about women?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heroic Midwife


The Hermeneutic of Continuity tells the story of Stanislawa Leszczynska, a heroic midwife in Auschwitz who tried to care for pregnant women and refused to participate in infanticide. This truly pro-life heroine who stood up to the evil of Dr Mengele and his associates, has recently had her cause for canonisation introduced.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on Planned Parenthood and Sex Abuse



This is the third video to be released by the Mona Lisa Project, an undercover investigation by students into the illegal activities of Planned Parenthood. In Arizona, intercourse between a minor and an adult is illegal and PP was under a legal obligation to report the felony. They failed to do so.

These videos make it quite clear that Planned Parenthood routinely flouts laws designed to protect minors from sexual abuse and should not be funded by taxpayers money.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Courageous Pro-Life Lawyer

In Argentina, a young lawyer has offered to adopt a child at risk of being aborted. Dr Lucian Pavo, who is married and has children of her own, told journalists:

"I am moved by the necessity of being honest with ourselves about life. I want to prevent someone from being killed. We cannot use contradictory language and say that we defend life and human rights, while simultaneously denying life and its rights to a new living person.

"I am capable of taking care of the baby regardless of the circumstances and the physical and mental state this baby might be in after birth. We must not discriminate against someone because they are born with a handicap. We must accept them as they come. Its condition doesn't matter to me."


Every person who calls themselves pro-life and is in a position to do so should be prepared to offer a home to a child at risk of abortion. Mother Teresa famously said that there were no unwanted children - she wanted them. We should all be ready to say the same thing, or, like Dr Pavo, to say: "I want to prevent someone from being killed".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Death of Eluana Englaro


It is with great sadness that we report on the death of Eluana Englaro. Eluana the 38 year-old Italian comatose woman whose father had obtained permission in the courts to withdraw her nutrition and hydration, died just four days after their withdrawal. (CNA report) The decision to allow Eluana’s death by dehydration was met with protests throughout Italy and the Italian government under Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attempted to pass emergency legislation to save her life after an earlier attempt was blocked by the country's president. The legislation was still in under discussion when Eluana's death was announced.

Although no cause of death has been announced, earlier news reports indicated that Eluana's intake of nutrients was being replaced with a heavy dose of sedatives. Palliative medication in high doses can cause a patient to die prematurely.

The news follows public statements by Englaro's physician that she has enjoyed almost perfect physical health during the 16 years following her car accident in 1992which left her with a serious brain injury but she was not brain dead. In an (CNA)interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the neurologist of the Englaro family, Carlo Alberto Defanti, who was overseeing the withdrawal of food and water from Eluana declared her to be "healthy." "She has never had any diseases and has no need for antibiotics," he said.

Eluana has been called the Terri Schiavo of Italy and Terri's brother Bobby Schindler,commenting on Eluana’s death said,(LifesiteNews.com) “I’m very sad to hear about Eluana. Our family grieves for her.” He added that he was “surprised at how quickly she has passed away.”

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the President of the Pontifical Council of Health Care, reacted to the news of Eluana's death, praying, "May the Lord welcome her and forgive those who led her there (to her death)." He also said that the circumstances under which her death occurred requires scrutiny, “whether it was because of the suspension of food and hydration, or by various causes. CNA report

Big Girls Do Cry


This excellent article by Dr Martha Shuping and Chris Gacek looks at the psychological effects of abortion on women and the refusal by the abortion industry to warn women of the risk of Post Abortion Trauma.

Dr Shuping's work in this area is particularly valuable as she is a psychiatrist and worked as a counsellor for an abortion facility when she was a medical student. She says of her time there:

In just one evening of training, I learned to tell women that the fetus was nothing more than a clump of cells and that the procedure was akin to having one’s tonsils removed. There were no side effects or complications to consider with this “simple, safe procedure.

Thirty-five years later, abortion clinic staff still recite the same clich├ęs, but I would not give the same advice today. I know better. As a psychiatrist, I have helped women heal from the effects of their abortions for more than 20 years through individual psychotherapy and group programs for abortion recovery. Having been
entrusted with the intimate details of hundreds of abortions, I now could not truthfully say there are no risks: Women’s hearts are at risk with abortion, and peer-reviewed research increasingly confi rms the risks to women’s mental health.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mexico City Policy


Obama's decision to reverse the Mexico City Policy is his most unpopular move yet, according to a Gallup Poll. Only 35% respondents approved of the move, which will result in millions of US dollars being spent promoting and providing abortion overseas.

Fr. David M. O’Connell, President of Catholic University of America, described the decision as a 'betrayal'. Fr O'Connell told Fox News:

The Church holds these issues as very significant and very consequential and the church is going after the president, not because he’s the president or because it’s the United States, but because it believes any government system that support issues that are contrary to its core beliefs are dangerous. Because the beliefs are rooted in good for all of humanity, not just the Catholic Church.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I know I'll be hated for saying it...


"I’m going to say what millions know in the front of their brains, and many, many more millions know in the depths of their hearts … but won’t allow themselves to think it, much less feel it. And believe me, I know I’ll be hated for saying it, I’ll be hated by people who don’t know me, have never worked with me, have never golfed with me, had a drink with me.

"I’m going to say it anyway: Abortion is murder."


So wrote Gary Graham, the Star Trek actor who in his youth paid for countless abortions for girlfriends so that the babies he fathered would not get in his way.

We should not underestimate the courage it will have taken for Graham to write about abortion in such a frank manner. The unborn have very few friends among the darlings of Hollywood and Graham is likely to become the target of some pretty vitriolic attacks. It would not hurt to visit his blog and offer a few words of encouragement to redress the balance.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In God We Trust


This column is not directly about pro-life campaigning, though in many ways it captures with devestating clarity how many of us within the campaign understand the mystery of suffering and death in our world. Amy Welborn's husband was a Catholic writer and journalist. He collapsed and died earlier this week, leaving behind a grieving widow and young children. This column was the last he wrote for his diocesan newspaper before his unexpected death and I was so touched by his words that I felt moved to share it with you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

More on Eluana

As the battle for Eluana's life continues, Cardinal Carlo Caffara made the following comments in a recent homily:

"Her martyred body, has become the question addressed to every conscience that reflects on man's destiny: To whom does man belong? Who has dominion over man's life and death? Who owns man? In the body of this woman, and in her fate, there is an image of the fate of the West."



h/t to My Heart was Restless for this link to Pope Benedict's observations on the meaning of suffering.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Right to Life of the Human Embryo


A serious challenge has arisen in an appeal to the Irish Supreme Court in respect of the right to life of three unimplanted human embryos. Irish Times article

In a statement to the Supreme court considering the fate of the three embryos Mr Donal O’Donnell SC representing the Attorney General and the Irish State, told the court that an embryo is not an “unborn” within the meaning of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and that, in his opinion, the destruction of fertilised embryos prior to implantation in a woman’s womb is permitted under law. He also expressed the opinion that it was not the wish of the people, when passing the 1983 pro-life amendment, to protect the pre-implanted embryo.

Ironically Mr O’Donnell is supposed to be representing the interests of the unborn child for the state in a case involving a separated mother of two who was refused leave by the High Court to have the three frozen embryos released to her against the wishes of her estranged husband.

Despite the attempt by Mr O’Donnell to limit the scope of article 40.3.3 to embryos existing “in vivo”, the Irish constitution does not limit the term “unborn” in this way. The State therefore should not introduce limitations or try to create artificial divisions between one kind of human embryo and another. To do so constitutes a form of unjust discrimination. Once an embryo is brought into existence in whatever way this occurs a new human being exists and must be protected by law from that time.

It is also hard to understand why Mr. O’Donnell saw fit to make this statement on behalf of the Attorney General and the Irish State, when the Irish people by referendum rejected an amendment to the Constitution to limit legal protection to the child implanted in the womb, in 2002. Mr O’Donnell’s statement smacks more of an attempt at political compromise than a statement of fact.

The appeal, which is being heard by a panel of 5 Judges, The Hon. Mr. Justice John L. Murray, Chief Justice, The Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, The Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Hardiman. The Hon. Mr. Justice Hugh Geoghegan. The Hon. Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly, has been adjourned and will be revisited later this month.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Population in the news again


In Britain, the chairman of the government's Sustainable Development Commission has said that people who have more than two children are 'irresponsible'. John Porritt feels very strongly about this and would like lowering the population to become the priority for green groups. As a campaigner, I would respectfully suggest that Mr Porritt read Steve Mosher's book Population Control which challenges the Malthusian myths that are still being spread by UN agencies - with disastrous consequences.

As the thoroughly unembarrassed father of seven children, I would respectfully ask Mr Porritt to mind his own business. Couples are perfectly capable of determining how many chidlren they can sensibly bring into the world without resort to contraception and abortion (advocated by Jonathan Porritt) and most definitely without his admonitions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jabrilla's story


Jabrilla English was 24 years old and heavily pregnant when the mother of her half-brother told her to have an abortion or leave her house. She left and gave birth two weeks later after seeking refuge in a homeless shelter in New York. Five years on, life is starting to look up for Jabrilla and she has hope for her future and that of her son, Elijah.

In spite of going through what Jabrilla describes as a 'nightmare' in order to bring her son into the world, she is refreshingly down-to-earth about the whole experience: "I’m not going to play victim and say that this or that is the reason why I am in the position I am in. You have to take responsibility," she told a reporter for the New York Times, "There were some things that I could not control. But I’m a mother, I have a son, and I’m no good to him if I’m not together mentally."

As the article points out, Jabrilla's struggle to raise her son is by no means over and she is receiving support through a New York Times charitable fund, which has enabled her to buy her son a bed so that they do not have to share a futon. But I can think of a certain powerful person in the U.S. whose mother struggled single-handedly to raise him and who did rather well for himself. Unfortunately, his policies will not allow other children like Elijah to live long enough to realise their potential.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Go Home! Make Babies!


I couldn't suppress a smile, reading this CNN story about a laudable project in Japan to encourage couples to have more children. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, well below replacement level and unlike most other countries with a looming underpopulation crisis, the authorities are attempting to turn things around. Workers at Canon are being encouraged to go home early twice a week to spend more time with their familes and, well, make babies. Well done, Japan.

Among the comments on the article I found this gem tagged Lionel
Think of it! Every baby is born a consumer: milk, wipes, diapers, clothing, toys---- and becomes a producer and a tax-payer. Where would our economy be today if had the 40 Million+ babies that have been aborted. Hats off to Japan!


h/t Standing on my Head

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Pro-life Resource



This new pro-life website produced and updated by EWTN looks set to be an excellent resource for campaigners and all those interested in the pro-life movement. It includes articles, video and sound clips, interviews and other excerpts from EWTN'S Pro-life broadcasts.