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.

CLICK ‘LIKE’ IF YOU ARE PRO-LIFE!

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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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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