Stefanie Lewallen

‘My name is Julia’: young sidewalk counselor reaching out to mothers, saving lives

Stefanie Lewallen
By Stefanie Lewallen
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June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “My name is Julia.” That is what the sticky notes say that are carefully placed in each piece of literature a girl walking into an abortion clinic receives from young twenty-one year old seasoned sidewalk counselor Julia Pritchett, who is also the co-founder of Students for Life of America on the University of Arkansas campus. “I ask the girls to please take my literature even if they already have some from other sidewalk counselors because there is something special inside for them.”

Inside the girls each find their own handwritten sticky note with a short message. Julia includes her name, number and a personal message stating that she is out on the sidewalk because she cares for them and is there to help.  She tells the girls they can call or text her anytime they are inside the clinic.

“You never know where your number is going to end up,” said Julia. “One time I got a random call from a girl somewhere whose sister was going to have an abortion.” The girl told Julia she had saved her number from the sticky note inside the brochure and wanted her help in talking her sister, who was several states away, out of going through with the abortion. She also gets calls after she leaves the sidewalk from girls that have changed their minds about having their abortion, and from girls who need a ride somewhere else to get a pregnancy test.

Julia said some people see her as being brave, befriending girls and picking them up in their neighborhoods to give them rides and by giving out her personal information, but she does not worry about it. “Often times that is what means the most to the girl that you would put yourself in their neighborhood.” Her genuine approach to the girls on the sidewalk has given her a new best friend.

“I asked one girl what she did for a living, and when she said she was a hairdresser I mentioned I needed a haircut.  The next thing I knew she was playing with my ponytail and saying how much she could do with my hair. I made a deal with her. I told her I would come and get a haircut from her if she would let me talk to her the entire appointment.  She had to wait until after my appointment to make any decisions.”  Julia said the girl took her up on her offer, and the next day she headed to an all black barber shop in a rough part of town. Everyone got really quiet and turned around to stare at her because in walked a white girl with blonde hair. “I sat down and she put this grease in my hair, and I thought ‘oh no’ what is my hair going to look like,” Julia laughed. “Turns out I got the best haircut I have ever received.”

Not only does this new friend cut Julia’s hair to this day, but she had a change of heart about abortion. Her pregnancy test was negative, but she will not consider abortion in the future: one of the many perks of asking a girl to reconsider getting other services performed at an abortion clinic performed somewhere else. Julia is not your typical sidewalk counselor, as she likes to stand outside on days when abortions are not offered and offer to talk the girls who are going in for other services such as pregnancy tests to a local crisis pregnancy center.

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When Julia is home on break in Marion, Arkansas, she drives a short distance across the Mississippi river bridge to Memphis, Tennessee to counsel whenever she can at the three local abortion clinics known to Memphians and surrounding states as the abortion triangle because of their locations close together.  When she is back in Fayetteville, she is busy running the Students for Life chapter on her college campus.  She helped co-found the group her freshman year and will be entering her senior year this fall. “We have around 75 members and at least 30 attend each event,” said Julia. “We have a really diverse group including blacks, Asians, sorority girls, student government officers, atheists and student parents.  We have phenomenal members, not just people who are prolife, but people who are doing big things and using those platforms for pro-life.”

Julia said that most campus events are friendly, but occasionally there will be hostility when they least expect it. One time while just passing out drinks at a table and asking people to look them up on Facebook they had a girl throw a knitted uterus at a male Student for Life member. “The girl told him to stay out of her uterus because he did not have one.” Julia said, “but I do.”  The girl told Julia that she did not understand why a girl would be on that side of the issue, and that when a baby is aborted ‘why does it matter because they won’t know it will happen to them?’. They also had five or six pro-choice people show up with cameras to tape the conversations. “We always remain calm and loving,” said Julia.

Julia is a psychology major and holds seminars and training sessions for beginners and well as seasoned sidewalk counselors as she likes to weave some professional counseling techniques into her sidewalk experiences.  “I like to talk to people about understanding. It is hard to put yourself in the place of a woman in a crisis pregnancy. We must understand how she feels before we talk to her.”

One exercise she uses during her training is to have participants write down their deepest darkest secret on a piece of paper and pass it folded up to the person next to them.  She then asks, “What could this person do to make you feel safe enough to share with them?”  Everyone is usually very relieved when their secrets are passed back to them, and they find out no one will read their secret. 

“I had a friend give me some really good advice. She said there is so much good information out there that we can’t invent the wheel, but we can add to it.”  That is precisely what Julia is doing as she adds a lot of her master level class counseling skills to her approach on the sidewalk. She wants to teach others what she is learning.

Sharing with others comes naturally to Julia. She remembers first learning about abortion issues in a ninth grade government class where the rape exception was being discussed. “I thought about it for a few minutes and I thought ‘no, if it is not right in one circumstance then it is not right in any circumstance’. One day I didn’t know about this, and the next day I did. I knew I could tell people about something I had just learned. I figured everyone would be just as shocked as me, that they just did not know. That was the moment it clicked for me.”

Julia is obviously making a difference. Recently as she stood on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic, the clinic workers called the police and ten squad cars showed up. Julia and her fellow team members of Precious in His Sight ministry in Memphis were doing nothing wrong, so the police could do nothing and eventually left. “I was shocked and a little stunned to see that many squad cars,” said Julia.

Sidewalk counseling is where her heart lies, and she hopes to work in the pro-life field after graduation with an emphasis on helping post-abortive women. “People are scared to take this chance,” commented Julia on helping women outside the abortion clinics. “But you can have hard conversations with people if they know you care about them.”

If you would like to know more about starting a Student for Life of America please visit the National Website at www.studentsforlife.org. Stefanie Lewallen is a Pro-Life Writer and Speaker, local 40 DAYS FOR LIFE Campaign Director and a member of Precious in His Sight Sidewalk Counseling team in Memphis, Tn.

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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 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.

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
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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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