Fr. Peter West

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Fighting the culture of contraception in Uganda

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West
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December 21, 2012, (HLI Worldwatch)—In Uganda, as in most parts of Africa, the culture is one in which life is respected and family is at the center. But like most of Africa, the culture is under constant attack from outside forces pressuring the government to embrace the “reproductive health” agenda of abortion and contraception. Billboards, television commercials, and radio ads pushing contraceptives are very common. I experienced firsthand the propaganda effort underway in Uganda during a missionary trip this past November.

Uganda used to be a model in the fight against HIV/AIDS because President Yoweri Museveni implemented a policy throughout the country which focused on the only real way to stem the spread of the deadly virus: asking people to change their risky sexual behavior by abstaining from sex before marriage and by being faithful to their partner.

When President Museveni’s ABC policy (Abstain before marriage, Be faithful after, and use condoms only when absolutely necessary) was implemented in 1992, the adult HIV/AIDS infection rate was 30 percent in the capital of Kampala and other large urban areas, and the national life expectancy for the entire country was only 44 years. But in the next decade, the adult HIV/AIDS infection rate dropped 80 percent in just 10 years, to six percent in 2002, and the life expectancy rose by eight years. Unfortunately, Western governments and NGOs have been successful in their attempts to destroy the ABC program by forcing an acceptance of greater condom use, leading to more risky sexual behavior, and the HIV/AIDS rate is again on the rise.

Shortly after I arrived in Uganda, Human Life International (HLI) country director Father Jonathan Opio took me to Namugongo, also known as the Shrine of the Ugandan Martyrs, in Kampala where St. Charles Lwanga was martyred for the faith and the virtue of chastity.  At Namugongo, we prayed for the people of Africa to resist the contraceptive mentality that is destroying their country and to embrace the culture of life.

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Fr. Opio and I met with a group of women in the city of Tororo who were victims of the push for greater access to contraceptives in Uganda. The women told story after story in about the health problems they were experiencing because of IUDs, Norplant and Depo Provera. Each one of these long-term hormonal contraceptives carries great risks to women’s health that is not often discussed in public. Depo Provera for instance has been shown to double the risk of HIV but is still heavily promoted across Africa.

A local government health official was in attendance and heard the women’s stories, but his response to the women was that they were suffering side effects from the contraception because they had been unfaithful to their husbands! The women began shouting at him as a group and blamed him for the pain they were now experiencing.

I was astounded that he seemed not to have grasped what the women were saying, and that as a government health official he didn’t understand the negative side effects of the contraceptives he was determined to promote. As we spoke more with the women not only about the health risks of contraception, but also about the moral teachings of the Catholic Church against their use, the government official seemed to imply that Fr. Opio and I could find ourselves in trouble with the authorities if we continued to spread our message without first seeking approval from the government. Needless to say, the thinly veiled threat did not have its intended effect.

At another meeting I was able to address a group of about 50 political and community leaders including the Mayor of Tororo, representatives of President Museveni and administrators of two local hospitals. Fr. Opio and I gave a presentation about the population control agenda in Africa and how Western governments and NGOs are using great sums of money and influence to destroy the traditionally life-loving African culture.  Not everyone in the room was pro-life and they asked some challenging questions, but the dialogue was very respectful and we ate dinner together afterwards.

A highlight of this trip was hearing the stories of a group of women whose children were saved from abortion by the HLI Uganda team. The mothers gave moving testimonies on how they chose life instead of abortion, and how their beautiful bouncing babies are sources of hope and consolation. While the laws in Uganda are mostly respectful of life, there is still widespread immorality and illegal abortions. In October of 2011, HLI Uganda was involved in a case that led to the arrest of a medic who performed an illegal abortion on his girlfriend, and in the process almost killed her. I had the chance to meet one of the police officers who was instrumental in bringing the young woman’s assailant to justice.

As a Catholic apostolate, HLI endeavors to work closely with the Church in every country in which we operate. Fr. Opio was able to arrange for us to give a special presentation to the Ugandan bishops during my trip. A number of topics were discussed, but there was a heavy focus on the influence of population control groups in Africa and what these groups are doing to undermine the moral authority of the bishops. We advised the bishops on some strategies they could undertake to combat this deadly influence. I had the impression that the bishops were very supportive of our message, and there was great optimism about what we could achieve together for the protection of life in the future.

As HLI Founder Father Paul Marx said many times, “In every country, contraception always leads to massive abortion.” While the West is falling into decay, we have in Uganda and other parts of Africa people hungering for the Gospel of Life who have so far been able to stop the tidal wave of legalized abortion. But the increased push for contraception is a continual threat. I hope HLI and the Catholic Church in Uganda can work even more closely together in defeating the contraceptive mentality to get Uganda back on the right track to saving lives from HIV/AIDS, and to stop abortion from ever being legalized.

Father Peter West is the vice president for missions at Human Life International.

Reprinted from HLI Worldwatch.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

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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