John Westen

Baby Joseph: The story behind the story

John Westen
John Westen
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As we reported on Monday, it looks like Baby Joseph will finally be able to go home!

Earlier this week little Joseph finally received the tracheotomy that his parents have been requesting for so long. And now the U.S. hospital where he was recently flown, thanks to Priests for Life, says that after spending some time in a special pediatric hospital, Joseph will be able to go home with his parents!

I want to tell you the amazing story of how this all this came about, some of which you probably haven’t read anywhere else.

It’s incredible to think that just one month ago things looked hopeless. Baby Joseph was scheduled to die sometime soon after February 21st at 10 a.m. when his doctors at the Canadian hospital where he was being kept decided to remove his ventilator against his parents’ wishes.

“Monday at 10 am they will kill my baby,” Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, told LifeSiteNews in heartbreaking comments on the Friday before that fateful Monday.  “There’s no more humanity.  There’s no more chance.  I’ve tried everything for him.  No more appeals, nothing.”

But everything changed completely when an international firestorm erupted after LifeSiteNews (LSN) ran a wildly popular piece on February 17th, announcing the court ruling upholding the doctors’ decision. 

Immediately following that article, individuals and families all across Canada and then the United States leapt into hyper-drive, launching an all-out effort to avert Baby Joseph’s death.

The article, because we included in the headline Alex Schadenberg’s ‘death panels’ comment to us, also caught the attention of Fox News in the States, which immediately took up the story as an on-going top feature item, spreading it far and wide.

Most pro-life leaders first learned of Baby Joseph’s plight through LifeSiteNews.

A person who proved most instrumental from the very beginning was Alex Schadenberg of the Canadian and International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Alex quickly got in touch with the family and hired and paid for top lawyer Mark Handelman. It was thanks only to Handelman’s last-minute intervention that the hospital stepped back from their decision, and Joseph’s life was saved allowing further actions to be undertaken to complete the rescue. Schadenberg was finalizing a promising follow up plan when Priests for Life also came up with their response of flying Joseph to a US hospital that thankfully did the desperately needed tracheotomy.

Schadenberg himself explicitly credits LifeSiteNews.com with giving the story the legs it needed to draw massive international attention. Without LSN’s reporting, “the baby Joseph story would not have gone anywhere,” he said.

The anti-euthanasia leader says that our Feb. 17 article “launched the world-wide concern for baby Joseph.” After that, he says, “LifeSiteNews continued to publish daily articles that were accurate and they led the world-wide media in covering the baby Joseph story.”

Indeed, perhaps none of our recent stories illustrates better just what kind of impact LSN can have - literally saving lives - by simply by publishing the truth.

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At no point did LSN directly intervene in the case; we’re a news service, not an activist organization. The people who did the real hands-on work were Joseph’s family and the awesome groups such as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Priests for Life, the Christian Defense Coalition and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

In the end it was Fr. Frank Pavone who arranged for the flight of Baby Joseph and his care at the U.S. hospital.

But most importantly it was you, the pro-life faithful who prayed, wrote, called, and clamoured about Baby Joseph- it was you that created the overwhelming pressure on the powers that be to get things done.

All we did was publish the facts that no one else was willing to publish. But it was those facts that made all the difference.

The family trusted LSN to help them, and we did what we knew to be the right and good thing to do.

Only at LSN did readers find the original interview with expert and pioneer neonatologist Dr. Paul Byrne, a champion for families fighting for appropriate care, who insisted that Joseph should have had the tracheotomy all along. Dr. Byrne pointed out that in 40 years of neonatology he has “never seen a time to turn off a ventilator.”

“If a baby has a disease process that’s so bad that they’re going to die, then they die on the ventilator anyway,” he said.

The last month has been a complete whirlwind, but at last Baby Joseph is safe in the care of a hospital that is willing to respect the wishes of his parents.

Even though Joseph’s long-term prognosis is poor, this is a major victory. Joseph’s family finally has the peace of knowing that he can die at home, in their arms and surrounded by their loving care.

Indeed, this case has put in place a crucial precedent, one that will give Canadian and U.S. hospitals alike a strong new reason for pause before they take key life and death decisions into their own hands, ignoring the wishes of family members.

At LSN it is our duty to spread the word as quickly as possible to motivate our readers to take a stand when life is threatened, particularly the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable. Experience has shown that difficult or desperate situations can undergo dramatic change, simply because the facts have been made public.

LifeSiteNews.com truly is the information arm of the pro-life and pro-family movements. We know that leaders in these movements, because they so often tell us, absolutely rely on us for the information that we unearth and report every day.

If the Baby Joseph story has shown anything, it’s that promoting the culture of life is a team effort. And you, our supporters, are absolutely necessary members of that team.

We need your support in order to continue to be the leading source of international pro-life and pro-family news! Please make a donation to our spring campaign today!

Thank you, and God bless.

Sincerely,
John-Henry Westen

P.S. We are extremely grateful for the work that Alex Schadenberg, Fr. Pavone, and other supportive organizations and individuals accomplished throughout this struggle for the rights of Baby Joseph and his parents, and for other families who find themselves in similar situations. And we also thank for you, our readers, who through your response and support have also played a major role in this success.

U.S. and International Donors

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Call our office at (888) 678-6008 x. 923 between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

To donate by mail, print out and fill in one of our Adobe Acrobat PDF format mail-in forms (Click here). Then mail it with your check, money order, or credit card information to the address below. Please note that you can set up an automatic recurring donation using your bank account or credit card by indicating your intention to do so on the check or mail-in form.

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Canadian donors

Click here to donate online.

Call our office at (888) 678-6008 x. 923 between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

To donate by mail, print out and fill in one of our Adobe Acrobat PDF format mail-in forms (Click here). Then mail it with your check, money order, or credit card information to the address below. Please note that you can set up an automatic recurring donation using your bank account or credit card by indicating your intention to do so on the check or mail-in form.

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*If the donation is towards a certain promotion or campaign, (i.e. Spring Campaign 2011) please indicate this on the mail-in form and check.

 

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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