Kristen Walker Hatten

How some kids with a van are changing the pro-life movement

Kristen Walker Hatten
By Kristen Walker Hatten
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March 7, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - On March 13, in Dallas, TX, an organization you’ve probably never heard of is going to revolutionize the pro-life movement.

It starts with a kid from Philly, a bus in New York, and an idea that brought him quite by accident to the city where Roe v. Wade started — the city where he hopes abortion will finally meet its match.

David Pomerantz, 23, does not look like a pro-lifer or a practicing Christian. He looks like a vegan hipster with emo hair. As a matter of fact, he sort of is a vegan hipster with emo hair. If you visit his loft apartment in an industrial section of downtown Dallas, he will offer you fermented tea with organic honey. You can lounge in a beanbag chair and talk about art while he surfs his Macbook and plays indie music and talks about Jesus.

A polite, friendly young man with a laconic kid-from-nowhere accent and a direct blue gaze, David Pomerantz — “Dave” to his friends — does not jibe with the stereotypical image of the angry activist holding signs outside a clinic. And he doesn’t mind, because that’s not the kind of pro-life activist Dave is.

He hails from Philadelphia, but he was attending Word of Life, a two-year Bible institute in New York, when he met Chris Slattery and Julie Beyel of EMC (Expectant Mother Care), a Manhattan pregnancy resource center. He was astonished to find that EMC had formulated a “new model” for approaching women outside abortion clinics.

EMC had a bus equipped with a sonogram machine. By approaching women outside the clinic with the offer of free help, with no mention of a pro-life ideology, they were able to see a staggering success rate. In fact, by their estimate, about 70% of women who got on the bus for a sonogram decided not to abort. In one day, they saw nine women decide on life for their children.

They did some simple math, and realized that if this success continued, 15 to 25 women a week, or about 800 a year, would choose life.

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Excited by the possibilities inherent in this new approach, Dave contacted his friend and mentor Joe Baker, who flew in from Philly to see the results firsthand. Equally impressed, the two began to ferment the idea that would become Save the Storks.

Dave was already planning on attending Southwestern Theological Seminary in Dallas, so he headed down south. With Joe Baker developing the art and marketing, and the generous help of Dallas-based organization Get Involved for Life and other private donors to bring to life a sleeker, smaller, more mobile ultrasound vehicle, they were off and running.

Save the Storks was born. Or, if you prefer, flown in through the window.

“We don’t want to intimidate anyone. We don’t want to force anyone. We just want to serve.” Dave is the Local Director for Save the Storks. Today, along with Daryl Harshbarger, Head Female Client Advocate, and Julie Beyel in town from New York, we are having pizza (some of it vegan) in Southeast Dallas. Dave is explaining to me why Save the Storks is a new kind of pro-life action.

“No one is offended by our activism,” he says. “We’re delivering a loving message in a strong way.”

Here’s what happens: a woman is walking up to an abortion clinic. She is approached by Dave or Daryl or another member of Save the Storks.

“Hi, how are you? Would you like a free ultrasound?”

This is the approach. There is no dangling rosary, no graphic pamphlet, no doom-and-gloom. Just an offer of free help from a non-threatening, friendly, smiling young person.

And then there is the Stork bus.

The stork was chosen as the mascot because of its comforting, unoffensive, nostalgic connection to motherhood and pregnancy. We can all remember old cartoons where a smiling stork would fly in a window and lay a swaddled baby in a crib.

What Dave and the others weren’t aware of until later is the text of Job 39:13-17.

The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but are her feathers and plumage like the stork’s?

She abandons her eggs on the ground and lets them be warmed in the sand.

She forgets that a foot may crush them or that some wild animal may trample them.

She treats her young harshly, as if they were not her own, with no fear that her labor may have been in vain.

For God has deprived her of wisdom; He has not endowed her with understanding.

This is the kind of thing that makes you whistle the Twilight Zone theme music.

The Stork bus, however, is free of all Old Testament references. It is a bright, lovely blue on the outside, and the inside is clean and free of clutter, with a welcoming but no-nonsense clinical feel. There is a little couch for the mother to sit on and speak to a counselor, and a padded bench where she can lie comfortably.

The ultrasound machine pulls out from underneath the bench. It is operated only by a licensed sonographer whose work is frequently reviewed by an OB/Gyn. In the back there is a small private toilet for pregnancy testing. It isn’t the slightest bit cramped or unpleasant; these mothers get only the best. The completed bus with the ultrasound machine was paid for by private donations to the tune of about $140,000.

The Stork bus is by no means the first mobile ultrasound vehicle — it was Chris Slattery’s mobile sonogram bus that inspired Dave and Joe in the first place — but it may be the smallest, lightest, and most practical. It doesn’t require a permit or special permission to park. It will fit in a parking space or even at a meter.

It is an abortion clinic’s worst nightmare.

So now this woman, who was going to go into an abortion clinic, is able to have a pregnancy test and a sonogram without ever reaching its doors.

But what happens now? She’s heard, “Yes, you’re pregnant! You’re this far along! There’s your baby! Here’s his heartbeat!”

So what does she hear next? “Good luck with that?”

Nope. Save the Storks is directly connected to Get Involved for Life and the two pregnancy centers it operates in Dallas, one uptown and one downtown. Also, needless to say, any expectant mother will be welcomed by whatever pregnancy center is closest to the bus at the time. The Stork team is prepared to call a cab for the mother if she needs a ride.

In other words, unlike the abortion clinic, the Storks and the pregnancy centers are in it for the long haul. They are going to get her what she needs to take care of herself and her baby, body and soul.

“The heart of this ministry is the Gospel,” says Dave, after asking for more vegan marinara sauce. “There are two causes every Christian should take up: orphans and widows. This encompasses both.”

It is part of Save the Storks’ mission that every woman who steps on the bus hears the Gospel message. While this may seem off-putting to some, to the Storks it is an essential aspect of caring for the mother that goes along with the physical support and counseling she will receive through the pregnancy center.

“She is just as important as that child,” says Dave. “We aim to improve her quality of life… The major issue here is the devaluation of life, and the answer to every injustice on earth is the church of Jesus Christ.”

“Our ministry is designed to meet all the needs of the woman,” says Daryl. At the pregnancy center, every mother will receive whatever her personal situation calls for, be it help with affordable medical care, legal aid to escape from an abusive boyfriend, life skills counseling, mental health counseling, spiritual guidance, and more.

Which of course begs the question: if the Storks’ mission is in fact successful and Dallas pregnancy centers see 800 or so more mothers every year, how will they handle the added demand for resources?

The answer is simply: us.

“The churches need to stand up and start giving to their local pregnancy centers,” says Dave.

Without the generous help of good-hearted people giving what they can, pregnancy centers can’t work, and by extension neither can the Storks.

Abortion clinic workers and management are used to seeing protesters outside their clinic. What they are not used to is a name brand.

The Save the Storks bus is slick, recognizable, welcoming, and — horror of horrors — it sits in between a mother and the abortion clinic doors. With a simple offer of no-strings-attached help — “Would you like a free ultrasound?” — and a bright, comforting image, it appeals to the desperate woman before she reaches the clinic.

She is not confronted. She is offered help. And while I firmly believe that virtually all sidewalk counselors and activists outside clinic are there for no other reason than to help women, the Storks are able to present help first. That is the key. The average clinic sidewalk approach is, of necessity, “Please don’t kill your baby. Here’s why. And here’s help.” Because they have their awesome bus, Save the Storks are able to say, “Here’s help. Now please don’t kill your baby. Here’s why.”

Because they don’t have to lead with agenda, there are no warning bells for a desperate and defensive mother. There is only a friendly face.

This new model will absolutely revolutionize the front lines of pro-life activism.

What is the battle cry of the pro-abortion movement? “Choice!” It is their mantra. What do you constantly hear from abortion advocates? “These desperate women feel like they are out of options.”

Right here, on four wheels, parked in front of the clinic, is another choice — one they might not even know they have. Inside that bus is an image of their baby waiting to be seen. Connected to that bus is a support system — in short, options.

Dave and the team have high hopes, and they should. The approach is breathtakingly simple and, if early tests are any indication, profoundly effective.

As mentioned, the Storks take to the streets of Dallas on March 13. Meanwhile their website is up and running at SaveTheStorks.com with the purpose of raising money to take the program national. A Save the Storks bus is not cheap, and it takes people to run it. While Dave and his team get things off the ground in Dallas, Joe is in charge of building a national movement.

The thought of a Stork bus in every major city in America should bring a smile to your face. Every one of these buses represents hundreds of lives saved every year.

I have met Dave and the gang. I have been on board the Stork bus. And I have never been more excited about a pro-life idea than I am about this one.

You probably are having the same reaction I did. You are probably thinking: “What can I do to help?”

First: spread the word. Use Facebook, Twitter, Twitbook, whatever, to share with people how awesome this is.

Second: go to SaveTheStorks.com now and volunteer. They need all kinds of stuff — bloggers, artists, counselors, you name it — all across the country to be part of their national team of Save the Storks volunteers. Whatever your talent is, Save the Storks can probably use it to help get Stork programs off and running across the country. You — yes, you! — can be a part of this movement from the ground up.

Third: donate if you can. Save your Starbucks money for a few days and buy a ridiculously cool Save the Storks T-shirt. Wear it and tell people about it. (I promise they’ll be curious.)

In just a few days, Dave, Daryl, and their remarkable bus hit the streets of Dallas, the city where abortion rights were born. As a native Dallasite, I hope what started here is ended here. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Save the Storks becomes a major factor in helping Dallas — and the country — see an end to abortion.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Kristen Walker is a writer and comedian who makes people mad on the Internet. She is Vice President of New Wave Feminists and enjoys taxidermy, yachting, and 19th century French poetry. Stalk her relentlessly for fun and profit. Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org

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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."

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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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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.

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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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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

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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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