Christine Dhanagom

Pro-life youth arrested outside school and held in jail for 24 hours

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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JACKSON, March 8, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two pro-life advocates who were arrested and held in jail for 24 hours while peacefully demonstrating outside a high school in Mississippi say they were told by police that they were detained simply because they were talking about abortion.

The two women, Kristina Garza and Brianna Baxter, were demonstrating peacefully Monday afternoon outside Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Members of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust Campus Life Team, they were attempting to educate students about abortion using pro-life literature and graphic signs that depict aborted babies at various gestational stages, beginning at nine weeks.

The group, which is composed of seven members including Baxter and Garza, was confronted by campus police officers and told they couldn’t stand on the sidewalk outside the school.

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Garza told LifeSiteNews that the group was given inconsistent information by different officers. While some asserted that the sidewalk belonged to the school, others did not want to say that the pro-life activists were actually breaking the law.

“We could not get a straight story whatsoever,” she said. “It was obvious it was a public sidewalk. There was a fire hydrant. There were city sewers.”

Students were sequestered into the school and apparently prohibited from talking to the pro-lifers. As they walked by to board their bus, several students reportedly told the group that they could not speak with them because they were afraid of being suspended.

When Garza and her team members eventually left, they were told by police that if they came back, they would be arrested. “We asked him what law we would be breaking, and he said, ‘just don’t come back,’” she related.

An attorney contacted the school the following day to ask what law the pro-lifers would be breaking if they returned. School officials acknowledged that the sidewalk was public property, but reiterated, without citing any law, that the demonstrators could not return.

The group returned the following day to attempt to speak with the students who they couldn’t reach the day before, but found school officials and police officers waiting for them on the sidewalk.

According to Garza, five officers surrounded Baxter and attempted to pick her up and move her to the other side of the street. They then grabbed pro-life literature out of her hand, and cuffed her, reportedly without reading her rights or telling her why she was being arrested.

Garza was also handcuffed and taken to a police car. She says she repeatedly asked why she was being arrested, but received no answer.

The two women were taken to a holding cell at the Hinds County jail, where they waited about eight hours before being booked. The pair says that during that time they were not told why they were being held. They were eventually charged with interfering with a bus driver, trespassing, and causing a disturbance.

Garza says that while none of the charges make any sense, the first one is particularly puzzling.

“We had no interactions with any bus drivers,” she said. “We were on the sidewalks. We were not standing in front of buses. We were not blocking buses from passing. We were not standing in front of the entrance of buses. Students were walking on the buses freely.”

The real reason they were arrested, she says, was explained by police officers at the women’s jail they were transferred to later that night. The officers at the second jail had not been involved in the arrest, and were confused as to why the booking process had been delayed.

When Garza and Baxter explained that they were pro-life demonstrators, they were told, she says, that “you don’t talk about abortion in Mississippi,” and that this was the reason they had been arrested.

Garza says that this was the “overwhelming reaction” both from the officers at the jail and from the booking officers: they were arrested because they were talking about abortion.

But the pair says that the silver lining is that that their arrest galvanized the pro-life movement.

“People from all over the nation were calling to find out where we were and to try and get us out,” relates Garza. A legal team worked through the night to obtain a court date for the following day. After appearing before a judge yesterday afternoon, they were released and given a hearing date of April 6th.

Undaunted, the team proceeded to Alabama today, continuing to educate college and high school students about the harsh reality of abortion. 

High school students, says Garza, are being “marketed for abortions,” and so have the right to know what it means.

“Planned Parenthood has already been in their schools since they were in junior high. For them to see the images is absolutely necessary. They need to know what an abortion is. They’re hearing about it from one side, they need to hear the truth as well,” she said.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, denounced the arrests, saying: “Those who are persecuting these brave young pro-life activists are cowards, and a good example of what is wrong in our culture today.

“I consider the Survivors to be a movement within the pro-life movement, inspiring all of us to give ourselves more generously for the unborn. Sometimes that means arrest and prison, not for doing wrong, but for standing up against wrongdoing.”

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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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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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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, 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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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

South African mom files ‘wrongful life’ lawsuit on behalf of Downs son

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A South African woman has launched a "wrongful life" lawsuit against the Cape Town-based Foetal Assessment Centre, claiming a failure to inform her that the child she was carrying was at risk of having Down Syndrome prevented her from aborting her baby.

A twist in this lawsuit is that, unlike other "wrongful birth" lawsuits, the mother in this case missed the time limit to file the claim on her own behalf, so she is asking the South African Constitutional Court to allow her to sue the center for “wrongful life” on behalf of her now-born son.

“You have a duty to tell my mother carrying me that I'm malformed so that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to carry me to term,” the statement of claim against the Foetal Assessment Centre reads, according to SABC News.

“It is not as if the foetus is sort of putting up its hand and saying why you didn’t destroy me," the mother's lawyer, Paul Hoffman, explained to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. "The foetus is complaining that its malformation, its development is the result of the bad advice that was given.”

The SABC report did not say what compensation the woman is seeking.

The scope of the case is similar to that of a New Zealand couple who won a lawsuit claiming monetary compensation after a routine 20 week ultrasound scan failed to discover that their daughter had spina bifida.

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The mother, whose name has not been released, claimed that the continuance of the pregnancy was a “personal injury,” and, had she been given the correct diagnosis after that scan, she would have aborted her daughter.

"We consider that the continued pregnancy of the appellant following a misdiagnosis in the 20 week scan is capable of being an injury suffered by the appellant,” the court ruled, and directed the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to make the woman eligible for compensation for the ongoing surgical and physiotherapy expenses incurred by their child.

New Zealand disability advocate Mike Sullivan said the underpinning attitude behind the decision is that those with disability, both born and unborn, are seen as a burden on society.

“This is what happens,” Sullivan said, when “the children become reduced to nothing – wrong even to exist.”

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