Hilary White

Pro-life group’s graphic display censored by foes, attacked by friends

Hilary White
Hilary White
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ROME, November 9, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pioneering pro-life demonstration group Abort67 is making waves all over Britain with its photographic displays of aborted children, and they are being attacked by friend and foe alike for their troubles.

Fresh from their resounding court victories after being arrested last year for displaying the images in Brighton, Abort67 has moved on to a national platform with new groups forming around the country. Organisers have said that the publicity surrounding their case, including close coverage from the BBC and several national newspapers, was worth the trouble of the arrest and court case.

But not everyone in the pro-life community is pleased with the success of the graphic images strategy. After Abort67’s appearance at their campus, Bristol University Students for Life published an op-ed condemning and distancing themselves from the other group and the use of graphic images. The Students for Life mandate, they say, is the correct way to address the life issues, “from a secular and non-judgemental perspective”.

“Abort 67 and Bristol Students for Life both oppose abortion. That is where the similarities end,” the Bristol students’ group wrote.

“We shall be respectful, accepting and acting with the utmost tolerance towards both the society members, and members of the public regardless of background, opinion and creed”. The group says they have “unanimously rejected” the use of graphic images, saying they “do not feel it is appropriate or useful to cause great distress or alarm to others”.

Bristol Students for Life say they make the case with debate and argument and that they are willing to “engage with” opponents, so that “emotive and graphic pictures are not needed.” The group, however, condemned the arrest of Abort67 activists last year, saying they are “dismayed at the attitude of some British police officers” and that “protest cannot be a criminal offence in a liberal society”.

The Students for Life are thought to be reacting defensively to demonstrate their liberal credentials in the face of a counter-demonstration staged by the University’s students’ union (UBU). While Abort67 brought their graphic image display to campus the officially “pro-choice” UBU set up a banner in front of the graphic abortion display that read, “This union is pro choice”. University student’s unions around the Western world have a long track record of acting against campus pro-life groups and individuals who step out of line and make a strong case against abortion.

But Student’s for Life’s desire to distance themselves from such a high profile and highly successful activist group is not being well received by everyone associated with them. Rhoslyn Thomas, a former Bristol University student and organiser of Bristol Students for Life, told LifeSiteNews.com, “We were much more tolerant and sensible when I was there.” She was on the group’s organising committee for the academic year 2011-2012.

She responded to the accusations of her former classmates that the use of graphic images is counterproductive, saying that before Abort67 started using them, no one in Britain was giving abortion a second thought.

“If it upsets people then they are thinking about what abortion is, aren’t they? We’re upset by a lot of images, things that have happened in the past, like the Hiroshima bombing. Those are horrific pictures, but no one says we shouldn’t see them because it’s upsetting. But we know from that picture that it was wrong and how many people were hurt and killed by it.

“For some reason [the Bristol pro-life students] think people shouldn’t be forcefully reminded of abortion. But if you do nothing but talk about it, people might think it was just one issue among many. But when you see it, it’s much harder to say that it is just a ‘woman’s right to choose,’ because it’s such a horrible reality.”

She added a plea for civility and tolerance to her former classmates, saying that there needs to be a united front among the pro-life movement, or at least one of mutual respect. “Even if they disagree with Abort67, you can always find a way to disagree respectfully,” she said.

“Particularly other pro-life people whom you know have good intentions, and who have saved women from abortions. They’re not breaking the law, and they’re not hurting anyone, in fact they’re helping people.”

Pro-abortion groups have also reacted with outrage at the presence of Abort67 on Monday at historic King’s College, Cambridge. A group of students there brought home-made placards and stood in front of the Abort67 photos. Later King’s students brought out a flower pattern sheet to cover the photo display and disrupt conversations with passersby.

Similar actions were taken by pro-abortion counter-protesters at Abort67 demonstrations in Nottingham and Sussex.

The Huffington Post reported that students at Sussex University felt “distressed and intimidated” by the presence of the photo images and complained to each other on Twitter. The Student Rights group at Sussex said Abort67’s demonstration, held in late October, was “deeply concerning”.

“Students have a right to express pro-life views, but the detrimental impact that Abort67’s intrusive demonstrations have on students wellbeing, as well as on campus cohesion, should mean that they have no place on our campuses.”

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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