Kristi Burton Brown

‘At eight months, my doctor said he would ‘absolutely’ abort my disabled son’

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown
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March 16, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - When you walk into Nicole and Steven’s house, you get the sense that they are parents who thoroughly enjoy their three kids.  You’ll find Steven running down the narrow hallway while all the kids scream in delight, chasing each other and him.  Nicole patiently fixes healthy meals for them while explaining to the youngest that she can’t climb up on the counter to help because the crockpot is just too hot for little hands.  You’ll see Titus, their only son proudly popping wheelies in his special wheelchair while the family cheers.  They are a family who seems to enjoy the little moments; the precious memories that the years have brought.

Entering their house, you’d never guess the ordeal they went through almost four years ago.  Four years ago, Nicole was eight months pregnant with Titus, their second child.  Since she was planning for a home birth, Nicole doesn’t remember exactly why she went in for an ultrasound that fateful—and miraculous—day.

As the routine ultrasound was being performed, Nicole could tell that something was definitely up.  The doctor said nothing, but quickly called in another doctor.  They consulted together while watching the screen and leaving Nicole clueless and helpless.  For some reason, spina bifida popped into Nicole’s mind.  “Is it spina bifida?” she asked.  But the doctor couldn’t tell her anything; he just showed her what he saw on the screen.  And it wasn’t good.  Nicole and Steven were sent to a specialist, immediately.

The specialist had a huge ultrasound screen for Nicole and Steven to stare at.  While they watched their eight-month-old son move his arms and head; while they saw his little heart beat quickly, the specialist diagnosed spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and put it all out there:

He said it was the biggest lesion he had ever seen; that our son would probably never go to the bathroom on his own.  He’d never walk, never talk.  He said this based on a 30 second ultrasound.  He said, ‘I will absolutely perform the abortion for you.’  I could see Titus’ arms and head moving and his heart beating at the time the doctor said this.  He was emphatic that Titus would be basically a vegetable and mentally retarded.  And that it would be unfair to him for me to give birth.

At that moment, Nicole and Steven realized that their role in Titus’ life would be so much more than “parent.”  Their role was now “advocate”, too.  Without a word shared between them, both Nicole and Steven knew they would never accept abortion as an answer—no matter what the truth about Titus was.

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Nicole explains:  “From our faith, we believe that every life is precious—a gift from God—whether ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ or not.”  She also realized that it was divine intervention that the ultrasound had even taken place at all.  A medical professional assured Nicole that, had she gone ahead with the planned home birth, either her or Titus would have certainly died from infection.  “Nothing was left to chance,” Nicole says.  “It was all orchestrated.”

When Titus was born by c-section, Nicole was only allowed to see his face.  She couldn’t touch her son for at least two days, as he was recovering from immediate surgery for the softball-sized lesion on his back.  Though she couldn’t touch him, Nicole refused to leave Titus’ side, even sleeping on the floor of the NICU to be beside him.

Nicole firmly believes that God has defied human knowledge and wisdom through Titus’s life.  Her strong Christian faith leads her to believe that God is not controlled by the predictions of men.  She will confidently tell you that the Lord has given their family everything they need to endure Titus’ difficulties.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is there pain?  Yes.  But, Titus’ courage and preciousness overwhelms everything else.  He continues to prove the “specialist” wrong:

Every milestone, he has hit either before or right on.  He is very intelligent and able.  Titus doesn’t complain and fuss about why his legs don’t work or about anything else.  He loves to do what little boys do.  He knows his letters, numbers, and shapes—has known them since he was 2 ½.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  Titus is definitely a huge addition to our family.  This is how God made him—I fully believe this.

Nicole credits two things for helping her get through the shock of Titus’ diagnosis and giving her the strength to give him life:  her strong faith in Christ and the year she spent working at a crisis pregnancy center in California.  There, she grew in her confidence that each baby was indeed a precious individual, deserving of an equal chance at life.  She believes parents often take the words of doctors too far and begin to question, “Can I really handle this?  Is it really fair to my child?”

When I asked Nicole what she would say to other parents facing a similar diagnosis, she said:

I would say that for me, immediately, it was always either the Lord knows me or he doesn’t.  And He either knows I need this or I don’t.  Whatever happens in my life is His will for me at this time.  This means I can move mountains.  If this baby having issues or conditions is His will for me, it means I can get through it.  If you think that someone tells you from a human perspective what you can or can’t handle, you don’t know God as the great Physician.  We shouldn’t try to alter things in our own humanness or do something without knowing all the facts.

Even Nicole’s doctor didn’t have all the facts right.  You can never know all the facts about your unborn child before they’re born.  As Nicole believes, there’s no way you should make a decision to abort a child at all, but certainly not based off an ultrasound or a test.

Off an ultrasound, you cannot know a baby or everything about them or what they’re really like.  There was no way the doctor knew all he said he knew about my son from that screen.  Lots of times, the ultrasounds or tests are wrong anyway:  when the mother says, ‘I don’t care,’ and the baby’s born, and nothing is wrong at all.  How would you feel if someone could show you what your five year old would look like and you could see them face to face—would you be happy you ended their life?

About Titus, Nicole shares,

Right away, his life was a testimony.  He’s so much fun—everyone that meets him loves him.  He’s a really special kid.  And almost everything the doctor said [besides the actual diagnosis of spina bifida and hydrocephalus] is completely wrong.

Nicole believes that more parents should educate themselves because knowledge is power.  Doctors are important, she says, and they have a purpose, but you are the parent.  The more you understand about anything you may have to go through, the more strength you’ll have for an arrow you’d otherwise not be prepared for.  Things have changed so drastically over the years for babies born with spina bifida and other conditions, and they can truly lead almost normal lives.

Of course, normality (whatever that is!) is not the measure of a person’s worth, but it’s true that people have a very wrong perception of what individuals with Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and other “disabilities” can achieve in their lives.

In the end, Nicole says, “I wouldn’t have it any other way….It doesn’t matter what the child is or isn’t—they’re a gift!”

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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