John Jalsevac

Holy smoke: check out the disparity in abortion rate between cohabiting and married couples

John Jalsevac

Pro-life activists have long pointed out that in order to end the great human rights tragedy of abortion, it isn’t enough simply to fight abortion in the courts or the legislatures: it’s necessary to build a “culture of life” where abortion is unthinkable, and where the social structures actively encourage protecting life.

In many respects the central fight in this battle is the fight over the family and marriage. Studies have consistently shown that stable families built upon life-long, committed marriages between a man and a woman are by far the best for protecting life - and it isn’t hard to see why: a woman is more likely to go through with a pregnancy when she knows she’ll have a husband around to help her care for and raise the child, and a man is less likely to pressure the mother of his child to abort (even when the pregnancy is unintended) when he has committed to spending his life with her.

In the case of less stable relationships, however, when an unintended pregnancy occurs, the man and the woman are more likely to want to “get rid of the problem,” “just in case” the relationship breaks down in the future.

Now comes a recent study reaffirming this fact in a powerful way. Just take a look at this chart.

Can there be any doubt?: fighting abortion also means fighting for marriage, and against the culture of “anything goes” sexual promiscuity that has lead to the deaths of millions of our children. We need to build a culture of life.

The chart was made up by David Schmidt of Live Action based upon data from a recent study: Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006


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Unfortunately, I meet so many young men and women who have rarely ever heard the word “modesty” and have never understood they are a great mystery and the need to protect that mystery.

A modest proposal

Melanie Pritchard Melanie Pritchard Follow Melanie
By Melanie Pritchard

“Brady, Meghan is sick; we should pray and ask Jesus to go be with her. Will you lead the prayer?”

This is the simple question I asked my then three-year-old son one morning while we were sitting at breakfast. He took a breath, contemplated for a moment (he was in deep thought apparently coming up with a plan for how Jesus would literally “go be with” Meghan).  He folded his hands and said, “Jesus, get off the cross…(pause)….get modest…(pause)…and go be with Meghan.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at his innocence and call one of my mom friends. I told her the story and said, “What kid says this?” She laughed and replied, “Well, the kid of a mom who speaks about modesty!”

This was a proud moment in my life knowing that what I am trying to instill in my son was working!  

Brady knows that Jesus isn’t modest on the cross, so Jesus would need to put some clothes on before He left the house. At the time, I couldn’t really explain to Brady the circumstances of his wise observation of Jesus not wearing very many clothes. Now that he is six, I have been able to share that Jesus isn’t wearing clothes, not because he chose to be immodest, but it was done to Jesus in order to humiliate Him and to strip Him of his dignity.

Interesting how this was such a punishment in Jesus’ time, but in this day and age, people do it to themselves—not realizing how it compromises their own dignity and their own mystery.

Modesty means to refuse to unveil the mystery of who you are. Unfortunately, I meet so many young men and women who have rarely ever heard the word “modesty” and have never understood they are a great mystery and the need to protect that mystery.

I always want my son and daughter to look at others and themselves in the most authentic way - as bodies with a mind, a heart, and a soul. I am realizing as a mother just how hard that is, even at their young ages. 

Since I started speaking to teenagers on moral issues 20 years ago, I have heard so many stories of pain over being used, abused, and bullied. I have heard so many stories from distraught and broken teenagers who chose to have sex before marriage and those who became addicted to pornography. Many of the girls I have spoken with have shared how they used their bodies by dressing scandalously to get a guy to like them. They were so desperate for love, they settled for use, pretending it was love.

I firmly believe that modesty protects. It protects the one who dresses in a way that discourages another from viewing them as an object for self-gratification. And it protects those who see a person dressed modestly against impure thoughts and the desire to lust. Modesty builds strength by protecting a person’s chastity and helping one to speak a language with their own body and clothing.

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I meet tons of young people and married couples who feel duped because they were never told about the importance of who they are. They say that they would have understood their value and the beauty of their mystery, they would not have made some of the troubling choices they did.

Before marriage, I decided that when I had children, I was going to teach them about important words and concepts from the beginning, hoping that one day when challenges arose like a desire to dress skimpy or use their body to attract someone, that they would know their worth.

I still want my son, who may not struggle with modesty as much as my daughter (being a girl in the USA), to know the beauty of modesty. I hope when he one day encounters overly-sized Victoria Secret models on billboards while walking through a mall, or when a girl he likes dresses too sexy, that he will know that there is something wrong. As he grows, I will teach him why modesty is important and why desiring others to dress modestly is important to his own virtue and theirs as well.

If my son or daughter is tempted or pressured to view pornography, I will share with them what I heard Saint John Paul II say once. He said, “Pornography is not wrong because it shows too much, it’s wrong because it shows too little. It shows a body without a soul and that is counterfeit.”

I always want my son and daughter to look at others and themselves in the most authentic way - as bodies with a mind, a heart, and a soul. I am realizing as a mother just how hard that is, even at their young ages. All I can do is keep trying to help them form their consciences to know why certain things are wrong - wrong because they attack the dignity of souls. It is incredibly difficult to shield my children’s eyes from immodesty when we are surrounded by it, from magazines in the grocery stores, girls at the local coffee shop, and even kids’ books.

One day when Brady was younger, he opened a book a friend sent us from Australia as a gift. It was about a girl whose family kept giving her all these clothes, so by the end of the book, she had layers of clothes on. On the last page she is in a tank top and underwear, all the clothes are on the floor, and she says, “Can I just get a pair of jeans.”  I was shocked to find the girl in the children’s book was so revealing.

Brady noticed it too and spoke up about it, saying, “Momma, she is not modest.” I said, “Well Brady, maybe she doesn’t know about her mystery; what do you say we draw some clothes on her and help her to be modest?” His eyes lit up, he ran and got me a black marker because he wanted her new outfit to be all black. We decided what kind of outfit we would draw on her, and so I drew right there on the book! I loved the teamwork Brady and I had in doing this project. I also like that he saw that there isn’t anything we shouldn’t do to help others protect their dignity—even if it means drawing on a book. For weeks, when people came over, he would show them our great artwork and how we made “Jesse” (the main character) modest.

About a year later, a friend gave Ella a few Barbie dolls for her 3rd birthday; I cringed a little. I didn’t want a bunch of naked Barbies lying around the house to tempt my son’s curiosity. Since I had already been speaking about modesty and using markers to draw clothes on characters in a children’s book, it only seemed fitting I draw modest bathing suits on the Barbies or any small doll that showed up at our house without proper attire. This time I used colored nail polish. Problem solved! And, in doing it, it provided a great teaching moment as I explained that I was covering up the Barbie to protect her virtue.

Now, some of you may be thinking that I’m crazy talking about a doll’s virtue; it’s not that I believe she has virtue…that is reserved for real humans. But when my children play with dolls, they play with them as if they are real people as most children do. I want their playtime to reflect the morals and values we are trying to instill at home.

Modesty is a virtue. Some virtues can be given by God (i.e. faith, hope, and charity (love)), others must be cultivated, mature, and allowed to flourish in order to attain and maintain. Modesty falls into the second category and therefore requires much work, sacrifice, and perseverance in order to overcome the constant temptation to swim with the current cultural tide instead of against it.

We are trying to help our children to keep their eyes on the prize. The prize is fulfilling and loving relationships with others, which are never self-centered, objectifying, or based on their usefulness. This is the ideal, and I know that sadly it is more the exception than the rule today, but without seeking the ideal, we lose hope.

My children will have far more temptation and pressure to abandon this quest for virtue than either me or my husband had, which requires us to be constant examples, models, and mentors for them. We must continue to encourage them in their trials, support them in their defense of virtue, and give them all the tools necessary to help cultivate the great virtue of modesty for them and for everyone they encounter.

My prayer and hope is that this simple teaching will expand the minds and hearts of my children to be an automatic thought as they grow older. I pray they will never view another human being - another human soul! - as an object or thing to use. I pray they will always protect their modesty in order to protect their dignity and that they will do the same for others! And finally, I pray they will never judge those who are immodest, but seek to teach them about their beautiful and special mystery.

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Pornography is eating our world alive, and it seems as if our youth are the hardest hit.

‘Help! I can’t sleep, go to school or even the bathroom without watching porn’

Donny Pauling Donny Pauling Follow Donny
By Donny Pauling

Last week I spoke before the 800 students of an all-boys Catholic school in Houston, Texas. Projected on a screen behind me, I had an anonymous number.  I do this so that students who don’t wish to ask questions aloud can instead text me without anyone knowing their identity.   

Here is a word-for-word copy-and-paste of a message I received:

“I have been addicted to porn for the last 5 years. I can't go to school without watching porn. I can't go to the bathroom without watching it. I most definitely can't sleep without watching it. It is a sickness. What should I do? It's almost like I get sick and don't feel good if I don't watch porn. Fill me in with some help if you could.”  

I set a personal record last week, speaking 20 times on the topic of pornography.  I’ve never felt more exhausted yet incredibly fulfilled in my life.  

Of all the young people I’ve spoken with who are over the age of 12, I can think of only ONE who has told me that he’s never seen porn. 

Replacing the fantasy of porn with the reality of what porn really is, is what I do.  I speak before churches, universities, youth groups, men’s retreats, women’s gatherings, on television and radio shows, and have even addressed members of the Australian parliament.  

More than 6 million people have listened so far, so I can tell you from personal experience that the sentiments of this text message are not unique: pornography is eating our world alive, and it seems as if our youth are the hardest hit.  

Of all the young people I’ve spoken with who are over the age of 12, I can think of only one who has told me that he’s never seen porn.  

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To illustrate what pornography is to the young men of that Houston school, I shared the following parable:

I’m pretty sure that each of you, by now, has had at least a crush on a girl.  Some of you probably feel as if you are or have been in love.  If not, for a moment imagine that you are deeply in love with a girl.  You’d do anything for her.  She is the light of your world.  

Now imagine that, in this very school, there is another young man with whom you cannot get along; he is an enemy who hates you.  To get to you, he decides he is going to seduce the girl you love, use her, abuse her, break her down until she is nothing and then kick her to the curb.  He tells you he is going to do all of this, making sure you know it has nothing to do with the girl and everything to do with you.  He is simply using her as a tool to cause you pain.  He assures you that he will appear to be sincere, and he’ll be very convincing.

You go to your beloved and warn her of this other guy’s plans.  You tell her of all the ways he wants to hurt her.  You give her a heads-up that he will pretend to care for her, only to crush her.  But no matter how much you try to warn her and plead with her not to listen to him, she does indeed fall for his seductions, and things play out exactly as your enemy told you they would.  She ends up crushed and used.

That is exactly what Satan does when it comes to porn and sexuality.  God intended sex to be a bonding, beautiful experience.  One way Satan twists and perverts it is through pornography.  Imagine him spouting off and bragging about how God made mankind to be sexual beings, and how he is going to use that natural drive to twist us up and lead us down paths we shouldn’t follow. 

He sneers to God that the sex drive given to us makes us the easiest targets ever, and that no matter how much we’ve been warned, we won’t listen, but will instead buy into the lie that pornography presents regarding sexuality.  We foolishly allow Satan to do exactly what he has set out to do: destroy the beautiful gift that sex was intended to be, replace it with a disgusting counterfeit, and throw into God’s face the fact that he is so easily able to lead us astray.  

As it would break your heart to see the girl in my example destroyed, so too it breaks God’s heart to watch us allow the beauty of His gift of sexual intimacy be perverted so horribly through pornography.

As Christians, we are called to fight for the downtrodden.  We are called to fight for those who are unwilling to fight for themselves, which would definitely include those people who allow themselves to act in porn.  

But we are also called to have a relationship with our Creator. Pornography holds us back. We sell ourselves out far too cheaply, buying into the lies told by the enemy of the One who so dearly loves us.  

The good news is this:  there is nothing that we can ever do that would make God’s love for us diminish.  

I’m certain we’ve all witnessed a child learning to walk.  When that first step is taken, proud parents post about it to social media, call friends and family and generally act as if man has finally stepped foot onto the surface of Mars.  But have you ever heard of any parent who, when their toddler is reaching to be picked up off the floor after having fallen yet again, says in response, “You know… that’s the third or fourth time you’ve fallen today.  I don’t think this walking thing is for you.  You should just stay down there on the ground!”?  

Of course not!  How absurd.  

And yet when it comes to God, so many of us seem to think that’s exactly what happens, when in fact He is just like that parent, willing to pick us up and put us back on our feet any time we reach back up to him.  No matter what we’ve done, He wants to set us right, telling us to walk again.  And when we stumble, he picks us back up and tells us to walk.  And when we fall yet again, He picks us back up… well, you get the picture.

That being the case, don’t ever allow anything to separate you from the love He has for you. Reach back up. Get back on your feet. Walk again.

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Porn is 'empowering' and 'freeing' and 'the way the world should be,' swears Miriam Weeks. Except she forgot a few important details.

Porn is super-empowering: just ask the Duke University porn star

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

She looks young, younger than her 18 years. Sitting on a bed in a hotel room wearing baggy pajamas, glasses, and a far-away look, she looks at the camera and says bluntly, “A lot of s**t in my life has been ruined because of sex.”

It is then that you see her eyes. They look somehow old.

Hundreds of thousands of fans know her as Belle Knox, one of the most popular names in porn. The media often refers to her as the “Duke University porn star,” after a classmate revealed that she was paying her tuition by starring in porn shoots. We later discovered that the name her friends and family know her by is Miriam Weeks.

She has been touted far and wide as proof that porn can be empowering and evidence that feminists can sell their bodies as objects and still be, well, “feminist.” Here, porn supporters told us with satisfaction, is a nice girl from a Catholic home who loves to do porn just because she loves sex. Porn is, as Weeks told the cameras, “empowering” and “freeing” and “the way the world should be.”

And then, recently, Weeks did a series of interviews for an upcoming documentary. In them, she paints a much different picture than the freeing, empowering, sex-fueled fantasy world her fans and porn supporters claim she inhabits.

Is it any wonder that many fathers have a harder time connecting with their daughters, when they spend countless hours watching girls their daughters’ age being beaten up, raped, and subjected to every imaginable type of sexual degradation?

“The sex industry has a way of making you very cynical and very bitter,” a tired-looking Weeks tells an off-camera interviewer, “In a way I’ve started to become kind of a bit bitter and a bit cynical.”

Why? “It teaches you to be street smart and not to trust people…I’m so used to being on the lookout for scammers, people who are going to try pimp me out or traffic me. I think my experiences have aged me. I don’t have the mind of an eighteen-year-old. I have the emotional baggage of someone much, much older than me.”

Some of this baggage is what propelled her into the porn industry in the first place.

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In many interviews, Weeks talks obsessively about how porn gives her control over her own sexual destiny: “In porn, everything is on my terms. I can say no whenever I want to. I am in control.” Later on, we discover why this is so important to her: Weeks reveals that she had been raped. “What porn has done for me,” she says firmly, “is it has given me back my agency.”

Even amidst the perverted adulation of porn-addicted fans, however, she still bears the scars of self-loathing. In some cases, literal scars. One day looking in the mirror, she became so overcome with self-hatred that she smashed the mirror and cut herself, slicing the jagged letters “FAT” into the flesh of her thigh. Thus, the reactions of many who found out that she had done porn shoots – who called her “ugly” and “a dumb whore” and said that she “should die” - proved devastating to Miriam. It is this ugly misogyny that increasingly fuels many porn viewers, and gives delusional publications like Salon the excuse they need to claim that working in porn has not hurt Miriam Weeks, but only opponents of porn who try to “shame” her.

Listening to Miriam tell her story, it boggles my mind that people can still defend the porn industry, or call it “empowering” or “the way the world should be.”

Miriam herself admits that her first scene, shot for a company she refers to as “Facial Abuse,” was “a really, really rough scene. I wasn’t prepared for how rough it was. It was weird having some random photographer watch me have my a** kicked on camera.” She talks about getting literally torn up during porn shoots. She admits that porn shoots in which she was physically beaten up until she sobbed were probably shoots she should have refused. Yet she didn’t.

The control is a myth too, of course. The porn industry has many ways of coercing the human beings they market into doing what they want. For one shoot, Miriam recalls almost tearfully, her agent wouldn’t tell her who she had to “work with.” When she arrived at the set, she realized he was fifty years old. She wanted to leave, but then she’d have to pay a 300 dollar “kill fee,” the director would have been furious, and, she says, she could never have worked for that company again. So she did it.

“I felt like crying during the entire scene and afterwards I was really, really upset,” Miriam says tearfully to the camera, looking like nothing more than the hurting 18-year-old girl she is. “I just thought of my mom, who was always there for me and always protected me…I think about my mom a lot when I do porn scenes. Just how sad she would be that her little daughter was doing this.”

And Mrs. Weeks’ little daughter does these things in part because of the demand. The demand of creepy grey-haired men twice her age or more who line up to get her photo autographed at porn conventions. Is it any wonder that many fathers have a harder time connecting with their daughters, when they spend countless hours watching girls their daughters’ age being beaten up, raped, and subjected to every imaginable type of sexual degradation?

Miriam Weeks, we see in her heart-breaking interviews, is just a hurting 18-year-old girl being used by an industry that takes girls like her, exploits their insecurities, promises them empowerment, and then subjects them to abuse and degradation until they can’t handle it any more. Then the carnivorous recruiters simply go out looking for fresh flesh to feed the baying cannibalistic mob, burning with insatiable lust and shouting their demands for new girls, new girls to degrade and discard.

A new day, a new human sacrifice at the altar of Eros.

The more fortunate girls realize they need to leave the industry. One of Miriam’s friends has told her that when she can no longer distinguish between her porn alter-ego and herself, it’s time to leave. Miriam is not quite sure what this means, she tells the interviewer, but she finds it interesting.

“People see Belle, but they don’t see Miriam,” she says sadly, “I think I’m…Miriam right now?”

And for all the world, she sounds as lost as our morally bankrupt culture.

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