Patrick Craine

Pro-life film ‘Doonby’ hits ground running with top-tier endorsements

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The mainstream pro-life movie ‘Doonby’ has hit the ground running in its initial release in Mississippi and Dallas – with plans to expand to the wider North American and international markets – and is winning some high-level endorsements.

After the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family praised the movie in a glowing review last month, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, hosted a screening last Saturday in Glasgow where he called the film a rallying call and pledged his full active support when it is released in Scotland and the UK.

“I say that if this film assists in helping people in our society to take more seriously their responsibility in weighing up their moral choices, then it will have served an important purpose,” he said at the event, which took place at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“There is more than ever a great need for films like ‘Doonby’ to continue to arouse the interest and concerns of our peoples,” he wrote in an e-mail to the producers.

The movie features Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider as Sam Doonby, a mysterious drifter whose appearance in a small Texas town changes the lives of its residents. Its surprising ending showcases the good that one life can accomplish and the devastating hole left when a life is lost.

Though the treatment of abortion could be described as a sub-plot, it undergirds and informs the broader theme, which is, in the words of writer and director Peter MacKenzie: “Every life is important.”

Mackenzie told LifeSiteNews that the film sold out two screens on its first night in Dallas on Feb. 24th.

“We were asked by the theatres to hold the film over for a second week in two cinemas and we performed very well in this test launch with small funding up against big Studio pictures in the multi-screen cinema complexes,” said Mackenzie. “We are now talking with investors to provide the funds to roll out the movie across the States and then internationally.”

Asked about the film’s inspiration, the Irish citizen said it goes all the way back to 1967 when the U.K. Parliament passed its Abortion Act, legalizing the deadly procedure up to 28 weeks.

“I became aware right away that this would very shortly become abortion-on-demand, which it was,” he said.

But he stressed that it was important to him to make a mainstream film to bring the message beyond a merely pro-life audience.

“Faith groups are a core audience, but it’s a mainstream movie. We really want to provoke debate, give people something to talk about and think about,” he said.

“The film isn’t judgmental in any way, it’s asking questions,” he said. “Obviously I have a view on the life issue, but I don’t want to preach or hit somebody over the head with it. But what I want to do is make people think and go ‘wait a minute, this is a very serious issue.’”

It would be “an absolute disaster,” he said, if the film came across as preachy.

If that happened, “the very people I want to talk to, these people are not going to go and watch it,” he explained. “It’s all very well preaching to the choir. You can get everybody behind it and it makes you feel good, but it’s not what I really want it to be.”

The director said that, if portrayed well, the Christian message can appeal to a broader audience, but he also insisted that a pro-life stand is not strictly Christian.

“For me it’s a basic moral issue, an ethical issue. It’s about mankind, ourselves as a breed or a species,” he explained. “You’re not going to go around killing your young. It’s not a good idea. I mean, particularly for convenience.”

“The other thing is when people decide when it is a life,” he added. “Is it 24 weeks, is it 28 weeks, 22 weeks? I mean, when is it? How dare we. … Based on what? It’s totally arbitrary.”

The film made headlines last year over a strange coincidence – what many might call providence – that led to “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade playing a key role as a character trying to convince a young woman not to have an abortion.

MacKenzie said someone had suggested the idea of casting Norma McCorvey, who has since become a strong pro-life activist, but he dismissed it because they did not know where to find her. But her name was brought up again while they were beginning to film in Smithville, Texas, and Mackenzie was shocked when local townspeople told him she lived just around the corner from the set.

McCorvey, who moved to Smithville in 2009 without any particular ties to the community, says the role made the reason for her move clear.

“I guess you could say the project chose me. God told me to move there two years before but didn’t really tell me why. So I obeyed. I had no family there, no friends. I just obeyed,” McCorvey told the Hollywood Reporter.

MacKenzie told the news service that McCorvey’s role was significant because she “encapsulated American thinking on the issue.”

The film has earned high praise from pro-life, pro-family, and religious leaders.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, calls it “engrossing.” Lord David Alton says it is “thought-provoking,” “clever,” and “brilliant.” And Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women For America, calls it “riveting.”

The film got an added boost late last month as it went into its first release when it earned the endorsement of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. MacKenzie had screened it at the Vatican in the summer of 2011.

Father Gianfranco Grieco, O.F.M. Conv., the Council’s office head, wrote Feb. 12th in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official paper, that the film is a “moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller.”

The priest says the “haunting finale … will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness as you tackle a puzzle that will challenge each and every perception or conviction, while you experience forlorn feelings of speechlessness and shock, but ultimately of liberation.”

MacKenzie said he was “humbled” by the glowing review.

The film has no sex scenes or other racy material and is recommended by the Dove Foundation, a popular site of family-focused reviews, for those aged 12 and over. One scene involves a woman lying naked in bed, but she is covered and portrayed tastefully and the scene’s message is actually a testament to moral virtue.

In addition to Schneider, Doonby’s co-stars include Jenn Gotzon, Joe Estevez, pro-life activist Jennifer O’Neill, Will Wallace and Robert Davi.

Mackenzie says once they have their investors in place they plan to release the film on 100 screens in cities like Houston, Austin, Phoenix, LA, Denver, Nashville, Washington, and New York, and then shortly afterwards expand to 500 screens.

Once the investors have recouped their costs, ten percent of all net profits will be donated to the pro-life cause.

Find more information on Doonby.

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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