Kirsten Andersen

2,000+ youth learn the nuts and bolts of pro-life activism at Students for Life conference

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
Image

BETHESDA, MD, January 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 2,000 high school and college students packed the Montgomery County Conference Center in Bethesda on Saturday to attend the Students for Life of America annual conference.  The conference, held just one day after the March for Life, featured dozens of speakers and educational sessions aimed at helping students become leaders in the pro-life movement.

Ten high schools and 86 colleges from around the nation were represented at the daylong event, including Stanley Catholic High School from Fargo, ND, whose students traveled 31 hours by bus to attend both the conference and the March for Life. 

Matthew Fulkes, 17, is a senior at Stanley.  He told LifeSiteNews that it was his first time attending the march.  “It was amazing,” said Fulkes.  “Cold, but amazing.” 

Another Stanley student said he was learning a lot at the conference workshops. 

“I learned how to talk to women in crisis pregnancies, and how to talk to women who have had abortions,” said Gunnar Bossart, also 17, “and I just got done with an apologetics workshop.”

Craig Needham, 18, said he attended a workshop on Theology of the Body.  “It’s interesting to get a different perspective on the things we’ve learned in school,” he said. 

Fulkes agreed.  “In high school,” he said, “we actually learn about a lot of the same stuff, so it’s cool to correlate our ideas with what the professors here are talking about.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

All three boys said they were looking forward to trying to use the lessons they learned at the conference in their everyday lives back home.

“Growing up in a Catholic school,” Needham said, “a lot of kids, I feel, take it for granted.  But when you come on, like, the march, and take the opportunity to go to these workshops, it makes these things that you’re learning tangible, and it helps you apply it to your life.”

Workshops were available for a wide-ranging array of topics.  Students could take lessons in how to sidewalk counsel women entering abortion clinics.  They could participate in a social media strategy session.  There were workshops targeted specifically to high school students, and specifically toward undergrads.  One workshop aimed at pre-med students featured a doctor, Bryan Calhoun, who gave the young would-be physicians an overview of life issues in the medical field and taught them how to help patients facing poor prenatal diagnoses or other worrisome prognoses work through their fears and choose life instead of abortion.

“You never have to kill a baby to save the life of the mother,” said Dr. Calhoun.  He repeated the statement often during his presentation, as he progressed through a list of test results and diagnoses that often end in abortion.

At the end of his talk, he took questions and comments from the students.  One young woman stood up and tearfully addressed the crowd – her mother had been told by a doctor that she would have severe birth defects and either die at birth or “not have a life worth living,” she said.  The doctor pressured her mother to abort, but her mother refused.  She was born perfectly healthy.  “Miracles do happen,” she said.

While the day’s offerings focused on serious topics, the evening brought a bit of levity.  At the evening general session, Students for Life awarded Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life with their “Defender of Life” award.  He gave the keynote speech, then delighted the crowd by joining the staff of Students for Life on stage to sing and dance to a pro-life rendition of Korean pop artist PSY’s viral hit “Gangnam Style.”  After that, the group held a pep rally featuring Christian rock band Revely and Tyler and Catelynn from MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.”

Kandace Landreneau, president of Louisiana State University’s Students for Life chapter, said it was her third year at the conference.  “It’s been amazing every year,” she said.  “We brought all of our new members from our LSU pro-life club because I think they need to see this.”  Landreneau said the LSU group brought a total of 55 students to the conference.

Landrenaeu praised the high quality of the workshops.  “Earlier I was in a session about Planned Parenthood and how to defund them.  That was phenomenal and really equipped me,” she said.  “They came well-prepared, you know.  I feel like the conference isn’t something to just have fun or mess around with.  This is too important.”

Asked what she hopes her fellow LSU students would take away from the experience, Landreneau said she hoped “that they see the unity in the pro-life movement, and that the majority – the largest pro-life conference on the planet – is college age, you know?  I want them to see that and I want them to realize that [ending abortion] is our job, and that we’re the ones capable of doing it, so we’re responsible to do it.”

“Over fifty percent of abortions are done on women between the ages of 18 and 24,” Landreneau added.  “The people in this room are between 18 and 24.  That’s us.  So, it’s our job.”


Advertisement
Featured Image
Gilles Paire / Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

,

African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


Advertisement
UN flag waving on the wind
Shutterstock.com
Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

Guilherme Ferreira Araújo
By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


Advertisement
Featured Image
People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
Abby Johnson Abby Johnson Follow Abby

I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

Abby Johnson Abby Johnson Follow Abby
By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

Follow Abby Johnson on Facebook

One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

Follow Abby Johnson on Facebook


Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook