Peter Baklinski

New woman’s magazine celebrates beauty of 'Christ-centered femininity'

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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GREENVILLE, SC, October 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two Catholic sisters fed-up with the mainstream expectation that women must “expose themselves” to be culturally relevant have teamed together to start a magazine that celebrates what they call the beauty of a “Christ-centered femininity.”

Dignitas Magazine — polar opposite to the how-to sex and fashion manual Seventeen — does not present women as orgasm-seeking sex dolls, but as God’s masterpieces of beauty endowed with great dignity.

Catherine and Abby Pelicano, both in their early 20s, told LifeSiteNews in an interview that they wanted to start a magazine that spoke to women about “owning their God-given value.” They wanted to present a counter-cultural, Christian perspective on the value and dignity of women.

“We were reading about the value of the human person in the eyes of God,” Abby said. “But looking around at the culture, we did not see that played out. We didn’t see people, especially women, owning their God-given value.”

Catherine said that she became interested in “human dignity” during her high school years. Her interest exploded into a passion after she attended a Theology of the Body youth conference and heard about “God’s plan” for how men and women are to live as men and women.

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The two sisters started reading and dialoguing with each other on the concepts of dignity, value, true beauty, femininity, and what it means to be a woman created in the image and likeness of God. They asked one another what these concepts meant for women.

“Our discussions were so powerful,” said Abby. “It was life changing for us to take-on these thoughts and questions about the dignity of womanhood, what it would mean to be a Christ-centered woman.”

The longer the sisters read and talked, the more they wanted to share what they discovered with other women.

“We wanted to shout out: ‘Hey ladies, we have dignity that comes from God.’”

The sisters decided that the best way to share their ideas was to start a new kind of magazine. Catherine possessed writing and editing skills. Abby was a graphic designer and photographer by trade. The sisters teamed up, pooled their resources, and produced the 68-page premier issue of Dignitas Magazine’ last April with a trail-blazing statement on the inside flap:

A stroll through the mall or a glance at the magazines in the check-out line will give you a clear idea of what our culture promotes as the ideal image of womanhood. The plunging necklines and disappearing hemlines of clothing in store windows tell you that to be a woman you must expose yourself to the world. Mainstream women’s magazines encourage this message by upholding edgy and provocative women celebrities as images to aspire to. These messages combine with hundreds of others to portray an ideal of womanhood that when tested proves unfulfilling, unattractive, and ultimately untrue.

“Our Catholic faith presents a nobler image of womanhood.

“The truth about our dignity from God gives us a powerful incentive to say ‘no’ to fashion trends that expose our bodies, and the beauty of Christ’s call to holiness motivates us to abandon the ugly provocativeness of our culture’s ideal womanhood. In their place, we discover the joyful challenge of dressing attractively yet modestly so as to affirm the worth of our bodies, as well as the fulfilling pursuit of an authentic life of virtue, especially the virtue of chastity.

The sisters stated that the the purpose of Dignitas Magazine is to “seek the truth about womanhood as God intended it to be, to encourage Catholic women to authentically live this truth, and to promote it in the world.

The sisters strive in their magazine to cultivate what they call a “very holistic approach” to the dignity of women, showcasing the beauty of authentic femininity, both inward and outward. Flipping through Dignitas, the casual reader will find articles on pro-life matters, a section on fashion, articles on the beauty of fertility, stories from the saints, and stories of real woman living out a Christ-centered femininity.

“If we have dignity that comes from God,” said Abby, “then that should impact how we dress, how we talk, how we present ourselves to the world.”

The pages of the first two issues of the online magazine have been viewed over 40 thousand times by people from every continent.

“It’s been so amazing to see how universal the theme of dignity is and how women from very different walks of life have been able to latch onto it and identify with it,” said Abby.

“A fifty year old woman told us that she ‘just loves’ that our magazine is out there and that she wants to share it with her daughters and nieces.”

The sisters hope one day to bring Dignitas to print if they can raise the money. They say that if enough people showed interest in supporting the magazine, they would have it printed “in a heartbeat”.

Nneka Bosland, a big fan of the magazine, told LifeSiteNews.com that God-fearing women “who are under so much pressure to be ‘sexy,’ immodest, immoral, and promiscuous” need a magazine like Dignitas to encourage them to “try to live a virtuous life and ‘enter through the narrow gate.’”

Dignitas showcases the beautiful life of purity, chastity and modesty that Christ has to offer,” she said.

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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