Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

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Experts testify to trauma experienced by Isabella Miller in sworn testimony now published online

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

June 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LifeSiteNews.com is publishing sworn affidavits by two experts and another eyewitness who testify to evidence of trauma suffered by ex-lesbian Lisa Miller’s daughter, Isabella Miller, following court-ordered visits to Miller’s former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins.

The documents, available for the first time on the internet, also include court testimony by Isabella Miller’s court-appointed advocate, who expressed concern that transferring custody from Miller to Jenkins would “turn her world upside down.”

Links to all four documents can be found at the conclusion of this article. Three of the four were originally quoted by LifeSiteNews in March of 2010, but were not published in their entirety until now.

The documents illustrate the concerns that presumably led Miller, who had repudiated the lesbian lifestyle and converted to Evangelical Christianity, to flee the United States to avoid further contact between her daughter and Jenkins, with whom she had shared a civil union in the state of Vermont.

Disturbing testimony

Among them is testimony by clinical therapist Sylvia Haydash, who had two clinical sessions with Isabella and observed her for an hour on another occasion. She concluded that the visits were doing serious harm to the child, causing anxiety, renewed bed-wetting, and general psychological regression.

“Isabella appears to have been traumatized by the limited visitation thus far, a serious consequence, taking Isabella in a negative direction as compared to Isabella’s condition before the recent visitations where she was a child that was well-adjusted, flourishing, above-the-curve developmentally, verbally gifted, and readily able to separate from Lisa and meet with other people,” wrote Haydash in 2007.

“At this point, after only two supervised two-hour visits, and the resulting regressive behaviors, it is my clinical opinion that leaving Isabella unsupervised with Janet for visitations would needlessly exacerbate Isabella’s trauma,” Haydash also stated. She added, “I further believe that unsupervised visits would be detrimental to Isabella at this time and could cause permanent damage to normal development.”

Gwen Corley, a social worker who also observed Isabella, noted the traumatic effects of Isabella’s relationship with Jenkins

“Isabella suffers from sleep disturbance and nightmares, having difficulty sleeping through the night,” she told the court in 2007, adding that “Isabella also talks about death, and has expressed fear that if her mother Lisa dies she will be at risk.  Without prompting, Isabella has said she is afraid that Janet Jenkins may take her away from Lisa.”

Corley added that “the distance from Virginia to Vermont, and the time it takes to travel back in forth, coupled with these emotional concerns, are simply too great to require a five year old to make the trip during the school year ... in my professional opinion it would be detrimental to Isabella’s emotional well-being for her to travel back and forth to Vermont during the school year.”

A final witness, a friend who sometimes cared for Isabella, also expressed her “great concern” at the child’s reactions to her visits with Jenkins in her November 2007 testimony.

Tammara Canfield told the court that Isabella had become “withdrawn” and “unhappy,” despite her normally cheerful demeanor. She also said that she didn’t want to talk about her visits with Janet because “it makes her cry.” She testified that pictures drawn by Isabella also “cause me concern.”

Similar concerns expressed by Miller

The concerns expressed in the affidavits reflect Lisa Miller’s own testimony. Miller told the court that her child had referred to being forced to bathe naked with Jenkins, had begun to touch herself sexually, and appeared disturbed and unhappy following visits. She elaborated on the troubling situation in an extensive interview with LifeSiteNews (LSN) in 2008.

“Last year, Isabella put a comb up to her neck and said she wanted to kill herself after one of the visits,” Miller told LSN.  “She took a comb and pressed it into her neck and said, “I want to kill myself.”  I don’t know where she got that.  It was immediately after a visit.  Other people have seen huge changes.  She also started openly masturbating which is not something that my child has done.”

“She is 6 now but this started when she was 5 – after visits.  The very first time that Janet ever saw Isabella after the two and a half years, her very first over-night visit – the court ordered it and I allowed it because it was in Virginia and she was supposed to have been supervised by her parents, Isabella came home and said, ‘Mommy, will you please tell Janet that I don’t have to take a bath anymore at her house.’”

“I asked her what happened.  She said, ‘Janet took a bath with me.’  I asked her if she had a bathing suit on.  ‘No, Mommy.’  She had no clothes on and it totally scared Isabella.  She had never seen this woman except once in 2 ½ years and she takes a bath with her.”

Court appointed legal advocate warns against ‘turning her world upside down’

Michelle Kenny, Isabella’s personal legal advocate appointed by the Vermont court, agreed in 2009 that transferring custody might be harmful to Isabella, and acknowledged that “the position of my client [Isabella] is that Virginia is her home and she wants to stay there” and that she is a “thriving and happy go lucky kid.”

Although Kenny claimed that Jenkins had “a right to a relationship” with Isabella, she told the court that “I certainly can extend to the Court that Isabella’s doing well, that she does want to stay where she’s at” and expressed concern that moving Isabella to Jenkins’ custody could cause an “adverse reaction” in the child.

“And I think that’s probably a concern of the Court, and I would certainly hope it’s a concern of all parties that this doesn’t go as well as the parties may otherwise be suggesting. I mean, we are talking about a complete change in Isabella’s life, and she’s seven years old,” Kenny stated.

She added that there was “a real risk that we have, turning her world upside down and changing, you know Virginia to Vermont.”

However, the Vermont court under judge Richard Cohen was not persuaded by Miller’s expert witnesses, nor Miller herself, and ruled that the visits were to continue.  When Miller refused, he attempted to remove her daughter from her custody and transfer it to Jenkins, discarding the concerns expressed by Isabella’s own attorney.

By the time Cohen issued his ruling transferring custody in January 2010, Miller had already fled the United States with her daughter.  As LifeSiteNews reported earlier this week, domestic and foreign police services are now hunting for the two in Nicaragua, where Miller reportedly took refuge from a government that is now determined to take her child from her.

The four documents appear below:

Testimony by clinical therapist Sylvia Haydash

Testimony by social worker Gwen Corley

Testimony by day care worker Tammara Canfield

Testimony by attorney Michelle Kenny, court-appointed advocate for Isabella Miller

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South African mom files ‘wrongful life’ lawsuit on behalf of Downs son

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A South African woman has launched a "wrongful life" lawsuit against the Cape Town-based Foetal Assessment Centre, claiming a failure to inform her that the child she was carrying was at risk of having Down Syndrome prevented her from aborting her baby.

A twist in this lawsuit is that, unlike other "wrongful birth" lawsuits, the mother in this case missed the time limit to file the claim on her own behalf, so she is asking the South African Constitutional Court to allow her to sue the center for “wrongful life” on behalf of her now-born son.

“You have a duty to tell my mother carrying me that I'm malformed so that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to carry me to term,” the statement of claim against the Foetal Assessment Centre reads, according to SABC News.

“It is not as if the foetus is sort of putting up its hand and saying why you didn’t destroy me," the mother's lawyer, Paul Hoffman, explained to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. "The foetus is complaining that its malformation, its development is the result of the bad advice that was given.”

The SABC report did not say what compensation the woman is seeking.

The scope of the case is similar to that of a New Zealand couple who won a lawsuit claiming monetary compensation after a routine 20 week ultrasound scan failed to discover that their daughter had spina bifida.

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The mother, whose name has not been released, claimed that the continuance of the pregnancy was a “personal injury,” and, had she been given the correct diagnosis after that scan, she would have aborted her daughter.

"We consider that the continued pregnancy of the appellant following a misdiagnosis in the 20 week scan is capable of being an injury suffered by the appellant,” the court ruled, and directed the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to make the woman eligible for compensation for the ongoing surgical and physiotherapy expenses incurred by their child.

New Zealand disability advocate Mike Sullivan said the underpinning attitude behind the decision is that those with disability, both born and unborn, are seen as a burden on society.

“This is what happens,” Sullivan said, when “the children become reduced to nothing – wrong even to exist.”

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

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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 millions 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."

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"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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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.

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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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