Christine Dhanagom

Former jailed pro-life activist founds Tijauna orphanage

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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TIJUANA, Mexico, October 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - It’s an accusation that most pro-life activists have heard at one time or another: “You’re only concerned about children before they’re born!”

Connie Youngkin is a living refutation of the charge. A dedicated pro-lifer who has seen jail time for her witness to the dignity of human life, Connie’s activism has led her in an unusual direction. She and her husband, Tyler, now live in Tijuana, Mexico, where they house, feed, clothe, and educate 80 children they rescued from the city’s streets.

Their young charges, who range in age from five to their early twenties, are the children of drug addicts and prostitutes. They were living in the city’s notorious red light district before they took refuge at Niños de la Promesa, Children of Promise, the children’s home founded by the Youngkins.

Whether from the streets of Tijuana or the forceps of an abortion doctor, Connie and Tyler have been rescuing children for three decades. It started in 1982, when Connie made a comment to a pro-life neighbor about Margaret Sanger being a “nice person.”

“Connie, you better sit down!” the neighbor exclaimed.

The conversation that ensued was an eye-opener for Connie, who knew almost nothing about the millions of children whose lives had been claimed by abortion only nine years since the passage of Roe v. Wade.

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Although busy raising three children of their own, the Youngkins dedicated themselves to the pro-life cause: they prayed and demonstrated at abortion clinics near their hometown of Toway, California, and helped found a Crisis Pregnancy Center that is still running today.

Then Connie heard about Operation Rescue, an organization that was mobilizing pro-lifers to peacefully block clinic doors in an attempt to physically prevent women seeking abortions from entering the clinic.

“I knew without a doubt that I was to be part of it. God put this desire very strongly on my heart right away,” she says. “It was never to me a sacrifice. I knew the Lord would take care of my family.”

Her husband, a doctor, held back from this form of activism so that he could continue supporting the family with his work and take care of their now teenage children.

Connie was arrested for the first time at her third rescue, an event that she says saved the lives of several babies. These “turn arounds” were confirmed by sidewalk counselors who spoke to the women attempting to enter the clinic, and gave them information about abortion alternatives.

Connie saw the trial itself as an important aspect of her mission, and decided to represent herself. This way, she would not have the interference of a lawyer in her choice to ignore the judge’s gag order that prohibited the defendants from sharing their views about abortion.

The judge pounded on the gavel as she ploughed through her defense, demanding that she stop using the word “baby.” When she refused, the jury was sent out of the room. They found her guilty of trespassing and she received a 40 day jail sentence in a maximum security prison.

“If it is criminal to rescue babies sentenced to death, then I am a criminal,” she told the press.

The experience, she says, was a formative one for her. She had been separated from other pro-lifers, and found herself surrounded by murderers, thieves, and drug addicts.

Determined to treat this as her new mission field, Connie set about forming friendships with her fellow inmates with the goal of evangelizing them.

On one occasion, she brought a pocket Bible into a holding cell of 40 women, and by the time she left her fellow inmates were singing Sunday school songs with her, marching around the cell to the tune of “When the Saints go Marching In.”

“The policemen were just looking at us like we were nuts!” she remembers with a laugh. “They were all really sweet girls.”

It’s an experience she now draws from as she walks the streets of Tijuana’s red light district, where she is seemingly as out of place as a mild-mannered Christian housewife in a maximum security prison.

The children she and Tyler rescue have come, like her fellow inmates, from a life of crime, violence, abuse and neglect. They are often the children of prostitutes, left to run wild in the streets while their mothers are out plying their trade. These are children who, out of sheer boredom, have seized alcohol from drunks on the street, dumped it over them, and lit them on fire.

Some have come only temporarily, residing there while their parents go through rehab programs, but others spend their entire childhood in the home.

The Youngkins have accepted unflinchingly all the challenges that come with welcoming such children into their home. “Once you’ve been in jail, you’re not afraid of much,” says Connie. 

Twelve years after coming to the country, their success is now evident in the lives of the children they have raised. Seven of the kids are now studying at the university, a destination they might never have dreamed possible from their previous life on the streets. One of them, a student of photography, has some of her work on exhibit at the Tijuana Cecut Museum.

The Youngkins make sure that all of the children receive basic instruction in academic subjects, as well as in the Christian faith. They have also imparted to them their own spirit of Christian service. Three times a week, all the children take to the streets with 500 burritos to distribute to the hungry.

The boys have built houses for the homeless, and three young women who once lived in the home as children are now working there as staff.

Some of the older children have also, by their own initiative, joined Connie and Tyler in local pro-life activism. Abortion is still illegal in Tijuana, but some pregnant women travel to other parts of the country where it is permitted. The Youngkins regularly lead some of their charges out to the streets with pro-life signs and literature to educate others about the sanctity of human life.

All of the children, it seems, have imbibed a lesson borrowed from Connie’s pro-life activism and her time in prison. “If we just give people a chance and just love them with God’s love, it’s amazing the change that can happen,” she says.

 


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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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