John Westen

Personhood founder’s home attacked at night, children terrorized

John Westen
John Westen
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DENVER, CO, July 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - From the gunning down of a pro-life picketer in Michigan in 2009, to the filmed attack on pro-lifers in New Mexico in 2011, to another filmed attack in Washington last week, violent assault against pro-life Americans are on the rise. 

Another pro-lifer was attacked last Tuesday, but this time at his home, with his wife and children terrorized in the middle of the night.

Personhood USA Founder and President Keith Mason and his wife Jennifer have three young children from eight years old on down, and a fourth child due next month.  That didn’t stop pro-abortion vandals from throwing a heavy rock through his front door window at 1:30 am, or from spraypainting his house with vulgarities and images of coat hangers.

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The attack likely stemmed from an article featuring the couple in Newsweek magazine which hit the stands last Monday.  The article related the successes of the Personhood movement, noting that related measures have been introduced 22 times in the campaign’s four-year history, and quoted pro-abortion leaders who note that the movement presents a “formidable” problem.

“They’re saying out loud what many anti-choice activists believe but don’t say upfront—they want to ban abortion in all circumstances,” Donna Crane, a policy director at the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Newsweek. “In some ways, it’s the more honest conversation to have.”

Mason told LifeSiteNews in a phone interview this morning that just after the Newsweek piece went online, the comment board – which is now closed -  “went crazy.” 

“One of the early comments,” recalled Mason, “was that my wife should be raped and forced to carry the baby.” Another he remembered, called for him to be neutered and killed.

The comments continued to get more and more bizarre. And then someone posted the couple’s home address in the comment section of the story.

“The article does state that we have three small children, and that my wife is due to deliver our fourth child very soon,” said Mason. “It is shocking to consider that someone would be so cruel and heartless to attack a home with a pregnant woman and small children inside.  Apparently, the pro-choice crowd has no more compassion for born children than they do for the preborn.”

At 1:30 am, as the rest of his family slept, Mason was in his basement when he heard a huge crash. He raced upstairs thinking that perhaps one of the children had fallen down the stairs.

As he crossed the front hall he found himself walking through shattered glass. Glass was scattered everywhere throughout their living room and across the front porch, covering their children’s toys and items for the new baby, he said.

When he saw the large rock that had caused the damage, he ran upstairs to check on his distraught family.  He then headed for the door and found the front and side walls of his house full of vulgar graffiti, but no perpetrators.

Police responded immediately with four squad cars, and an investigation continues.

Mason said he could not share his ordeal until today, since he had to move his family to a safe-house, having been warned by security that their lives may be in danger.  He is currently looking for a new home for his young family.

Rather than making him re-think his activism, he said, the incident has left him more committed than ever.  “Things like this are intended to discourage,” he said. “We’re not going to quit. I think it’s strengthened my resolve and to me it’s an indication that we’re winning.”

Asked point blank if he were willing to lose his life for the cause, the father of four replied, “I’m not hoping it goes there, man. Yeah, I don’t want to, but I’m willing.”

“There are some pretty intense times, the world is at a critical moment,” he said.

 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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By Hilary White
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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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A protester at New York's Foley Square on Feb. 26, 2011 opposes funding cuts to Planned Parenthood in the GOP's budget. Dave Bledsoe / Flickr
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Teacher fired for protesting Planned Parenthood files $390K lawsuit

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By Kirsten Anderson

A pro-life teacher who was fired from his job at a Portland high school after protesting Planned Parenthood is now suing the school district for wrongful termination.

Bill Diss, who worked for eleven years as a math teacher at Benson High School, was escorted off campus in 2013 by a police officer and told not to return.  The school board later voted to fire him.  Diss alleges he was targeted by pro-abortion administrators for his pro-life views, and that his firing was the culmination of six years of progressively increasing tension over the matter.

After five years of positive reviews by administrators, Diss’ relationship with school officials began to deteriorate in 2007, when he protested the proposed opening of a Planned Parenthood headquarters in Portland.  Although the protests happened on his own time, away from school grounds, administrators confronted him after seeing him on television speaking out against the pro-abortion group.

“As the attention mounted, [Diss] was summoned for questioning by Benson High School administrators,” the lawsuit reads. “He was interrogated about his activities by the principal and by an attorney for the District. The activities in question occurred on his own time, not at school, nonetheless he was specifically instructed not to mention the fact that he was a teacher or where he worked when making public statements.”

Five years later, things took a turn for the worse when school officials tried to force Diss to allow Planned Parenthood to make a presentation to his class.  In late 2012, presenters with the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) – a teen pregnancy prevention program run by Planned Parenthood and funded by a federal government grant – showed up at Diss’ classroom unannounced to give a recruitment pitch to students.  No one had told Diss they were coming, so he followed district policy and requested identification.

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When the presenters identified themselves as employees of Planned Parenthood, Diss was surprised and upset. At first, he refused them access, but Principal Carol Campbell demanded they be let in, and told him that the organization would be visiting his classroom throughout the year. Diss, a Roman Catholic, felt that he could not in good conscience participate in these presentations, during which students would discuss their sexual activities and methods of contraception.  He asked to be excused, but Campbell denied his request and told him he had to stay and “facilitate [Planned Parenthood’s] interactions with students,” according to the suit.

“Because (Diss) expressed his opposition to the activities of Planned Parenthood at Benson High School, he became a target of” the administration, the suit reads. “They launched a full-scale assault on the plaintiff as a teacher. He was observed and evaluated on the most minute aspects of his teaching.”  He was ordered to stop drilling deficient students on their multiplication tables and factors, calling it “repetitive,” and one administrator demanded he stop using the words “God Bless” in all of his communications with staff, students and parents.

He was later accused of “unprofessional, intimidating and/or harassing behavior” by school officials over comments students said he made in opposition to Planned Parenthood, including his assertion that “they kill over a million babies every three years.” It was this allegation that district officials would ultimately use to justify his firing.

Diss is seeking $90,000 in backpay and benefits, and an additional $300,000 for emotional distress.  He is being represented by attorney Rebekah Millard of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

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