Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Standing up for the pre-born while sitting in a wheelchair

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren
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November 24, 2011 (Unmaskingchoice.ca) - Over the last several months, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has been training and activating young people across Canada to EndtheKilling. From British Columbia to Alberta to Ontario, young people are responding to the call and lending their voices to the ever-growing chorus demanding an end to the slaughter of one third of our generation. Each of these young people should be commended for what they are doing, and should be encouraged by the fact that they are part of a rising movement. They should also be encouraged by the story of Taylor Hyatt.

Taylor is a 19-year-old girl who has been engaging the public on abortion through “Choice” Chain, working as a part of both Carleton Lifeline and the youth activist group “Ottawa Against Abortion.” However, she faces difficulties that most pro-life activists do not: she has the spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. She uses a computer to write, uses a wheelchair, and can only walk short distances with a walker. Yet, no obstacle is strong enough to deter Taylor from speaking out on behalf of those that are more vulnerable than her. It was my honour and privilege to interview her recently.

Q: How did you become convicted about the pro-life cause?

A: I was three months away from turning 13 when the story of Terri Schindler-Schiavo (and her eventual euthanasia by dehydration/starvation) made headlines around the world. News sources said she was comatose. To make a long story short, I saw instead a woman with challenges similar to the ones faced by many young people I grew up with, or even what I could have had if my CP were any more severe. Disability rights activists were working alongside pro-lifers to spread the message that Terri was a human worthy of life. When she died, I swore I would do everything I could to prevent such things from happening again.

Soon after, I did a bit more research on that situation online. I began to read pro-life blogs, and discovered arguments against abortion quite by accident.

The Principle of Biogenesis and any other scientific arguments are the ones that appeal most to me to this day.  Also, being a premature baby (born 3 months early), I knew that one did not have to have all the “features” or abilities that a full-term baby has in order to be considered worthy of life. Having seen pictures of myself, I would have had to somehow deny my own humanity! 

Q: What made you decide to do “Choice” Chain in spite of all difficulties?

A: Involvement with Carleton Lifeline, including Choice Chain is the first chance I’ve had to act on my convictions and I’m going to go for it! So many lives have been lost in the seven years I’ve had to hold off on being involved, and I don’t want to wait another second to do something about it.

Q: How do you feel your circumstances affect your pro-life work?

A: If I said that my disability does not affect my activism, I’d be lying. At events with Carleton Lifeline, some people I hope to talk to on the street have walked around me and ignored me, in order to challenge one of my friends. I am spreading the same message…how am I different? I feel like they are saying “She has a disability – she can’t stand having her feelings hurt if I tear her position to shreds!” Or even worse – “She has a disability, therefore she can’t possibly be smart enough to understand pro-choice arguments. She’s too stupid to bother engaging with.” The worst part is when they avoid me and then ask my friends seconds later why aborting a child with a disability is not okay…that has to be the most painful.

Is my disability my biggest challenge? No! My family, at this time, does not support my involvement in this movement and they refuse to drive me to the few events in my small hometown. Combine this with an awful accessible public transit system back home…and you see why I’m jumping right in while in Ottawa!

Q: How do you deal with opposition to what you do?

A: Community opposition (e.g. from police and the public) no longer scares me. Knowing that my friends are nearby helps, especially the strong gentlemen, as well as knowing that those with a lot of experience in pro-life work who are used to such things are there to help. The more I face it, the easier it is to deal with.

Q: How do you deal with physical limitations in what you do?

A: As strange as this might sound, there aren’t too many physical limitations. I am unable to stand and hold a sign. I can’t stand without my walker – using the walker requires two hands. Whether I am sitting on my walker’s built-in seat or in my wheelchair (which I use most of the time), the signs are about as tall and wide as me! On very windy days, the sign moves a lot. Usually, a friend stands close by in order to catch it. When I went to the Rideau Centre earlier this month, I was able to lean my sign against a decorative post where we were standing. That saved a lot of energy.

If we are handing out pamphlets, I still have to deal with crowds avoiding me, as well as short arms. Sometimes I let them pass, and other times I may drive my chair the tiniest bit closer in order to make contact.

Q: What message would you personally give to other people who are struggling with circumstances, but are pro-life?

A: I would tell them that facing their personal obstacles, whatever they may be, is worth it in order to defend life. Knowing that you are impacting – and possibly saving – the lives of others around you, is a beautiful thing. A word of caution – build up a strong emotional support network, even if it only consists of friends and acquaintances in your local pro-life organization, before doing anything in the public realm.

Q: How has doing “Choice” Chain affected you?

A: Doing “Choice” Chain has opened my eyes to the necessity of speaking out against abortion and the urgency with which we must act. Saying that I am pro-life and debating my family is one thing. Holding up a sign in order to show the physical effects of the procedure on the child, and attempting to engage the public, is completely different.

It’s easier because you don’t have a previous relationship with the Average Joe who reacts negatively – I probably won’t see them again for a long time. Yet it is also tougher. My wheelchair makes it much easier to pick me out in a crowd. I have yet to truly see if this allows for faster recognition in a second debate encounter as I think it does, and what effect this will have.

Many of us are probably often tempted to make excuses to avoid activism: It’s too cold, I’m nervous, I’m not capable of this work. Examples like Taylor inspire us: as she says, defending life is always worth it. We can no longer ignore the children dying while we remain silent. We all have a duty to do what is right, not what is easy. I hope that many will be inspired by Taylor as I have, to do more, to face our own obstacles, and to do so while always keeping those more vulnerable and weaker in the forefront. This generation is standing up to EndtheKilling—even if they have to do it sitting in a wheelchair. 

Reprinted with permission from Unmaskingchoice.ca

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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