Johanna Dasteel

50,000 join jubilant West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco (Updated 50 PHOTOS)

Johanna Dasteel
Johanna Dasteel

Flickr photo slideshow courtesy Ray Dinkha and Jong Arcega photos

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Organizers estimate that over 50,000 people walked, sang, chanted and prayed in the 9th annual Walk for Life West Coast Saturday. The air was jubilant as the crowd of pro-lifers from as far away as Maine walked the two miles from City Hall to the Ferry building, passing through neighborhoods dotted alternately with large banks and government, and strip clubs, homeless people and old men crowded around chess boards.

It was beautiful and sunny day, with very little of the infamous San Francisco winds.  The crowd was mostly comprised of youth, the survivors of the now 40 years of abortion on demand, ushered in by the 1973 Roe v Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Anyone spending the day downtown was aware that something was going on, since streets were jammed with traffic for hours. City-bound traffic on the 101 Freeway was backed up for over a mile well past 3:30 pm.

Nearing the rally point, chanting and music wafted through the air.  Young people were playing percussion instruments and Native American women were performing traditional dances.

Before the main rally began, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign stage hosted 26 post-abortive women from around the U.S.  They shared their stories of regret while holding signs that said, “I regret my abortion.”  Men held signs that said, “I regret lost fatherhood.”

Georgette Forney, president of the campaign, stood by each woman as they took the microphone, comforting and supporting them while the crowd of tearful faces stood silent.

Deborah Schneider was one of those women.  She traveled with a group of Silent No More women from Phoenix.  Speaking to the crowd, she explained that her abortion happened in the “earlier days” when abortionists didn’t care to hide the fruit of their labor. The “jars of body parts” of the dead children of women who had walked into that room before her were on display around the room.  She said, “I felt like I had just experienced the worst form of sexual assault I could ever imagine, with the private parts of my body grossly violated and my baby dead.” 

(For more photos click here.) 

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Through her tearful testimony, Ms. Schneider delivered a hopeful message of healing and said that by giving her testimony, she is “silent no more about the false claims of the abortion industry.”  She added, “Since abortion fails to deliver on its promises, abortion should be recalled.”

Transitioning from the pain of abortion into hope for its end, the main rally started with a good old-fashioned chant - “West Coast! West Coast!” - and an invocation from San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J Cordileon at the Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall.  Bishop Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano delivered a message and blessing from Pope Benedict expressing his gratefulness to “all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and most defenseless of our brothers and sisters.”

The hour-long rally included rousing speeches and inspiring testimonies, including that of Lacy Buchanan, whose son was diagnosed with disabilities in utero and whose YouTube video sharing her pro-life witness has reached 11 million viewers.   She was met with cheers when she said of her son, “His disability does not devalue his life and does not define his worth.” 

Elaine Riddick, victim of North Carolina’s eugenics project, shared her story of becoming pregnant by rape and being forcibly sterilized at the age of 14 for being deemed “feebleminded” and “promiscuous” by the state.  Her son stood with her as she fired up the crowd to rise up in defense of the vulnerable.

Then, Kelly Clinger, a former Britney Spears back-up singer, took the stage with her husband to represent the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  Together, Kelly and her husband, Matt, shared their story of regret and healing after abortion.  They named Kelly’s aborted children “Goodness” and “Mercy,” quoting the scripture passage, “For surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”  Then Kelly added, “And until abortion is ended, I will be silent no more.”

Rounding off a refreshingly diverse portrait of the pro-life movement, Rev. Peter Irving, pastor of Holy Innocents Parish in Long Beach, California, was presented with the St. Giana Molla award for rallying an entire parish to adopt an abortion facility.  His parishioners are all involved in saving children from abortion.  They serve the women and children in any needs they might have throughout pregnancy and after birth.  As of the Saturday, Fr. Irving could report 556 confirmed “saves” – children rescued from abortion – since he started his parish’s activities in February of 2006.

Then, the crowds were sent off by Rev. Clenard Childress, who implored those present to keep advocating on behalf of preborn children “until every child in the womb is free.”

The crowd departed cheering and chanting, crowding the streets.  Less than twenty counter-protesters were present at the rally site.   The rally and event were  a powerful peaceful demonstration in defense of the human rights of the preborn and the dignity of women.


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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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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.”

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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.


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Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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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.

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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.


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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?

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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. 

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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.

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