Ben Johnson

Tens of thousands flock to regional Marches for Life

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 21, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although the national March for Life is still days away, tens of thousands of pro-life activists across the nation protested the killing of the unborn this weekend.

State and local marches drew crowds from the hundreds to more than 10,000 at capitol buildings, public venues, and courthouses in virtually every metropolis and hamlet in the United States.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 pro-lifers gathered in Dallas on Saturday in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973.

“Abortion’s days are numbered,” said David Bereit, 40 Days for Life founder, at the Missouri Capitol. “There won’t be an 80th anniversary, or a 60th anniversary.”

Some 5,000 rallied in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday – a cohort that included Governor Dave Heineman, Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, and Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry.

Another 4,000 met at the Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge – including U.S. Senator David Vitter.

Members of Congress like Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Rep. Diane Black spoke at the Tennessee Capitol.

Pastor Jim Garlow organized a March for Life in San Diego that was 3,000-strong. (Note: Watch for LifeSiteNews' firsthand coverage.)

Thousands more marched through the streets of Little Rock, as pedestrians carrying signs silently spooled out over endless city blocks.

“Twenty-five years ago, this could have been the city that was the death of me,” said Angela Martinez-Balderaz, a 25-year-old woman at the Dallas event.

"It's very encouraging to know that we are young and we can still make an impact, and I just want to go out and spread love," said Angie Schreiner of the Flagler College Catholic Fellowship, as she met with fellow Floridians.

The reasons for attending were as wide-ranging as the number of people participating.

“When you look at the ultrasound and see that baby from the very beginning of conception, what can you do? You can't kill. You know it's against God's law,” said Sally Horner in St. Augustine.

Not every participant cited religion as a motivation. Tom Healey, 78, was a professor of biology who has worked at SUNY Plattsburgh. “I understand when life begins — life begins at conception, that’s a matter of certainty,” he told Pittsburgh media.

Others cited their own personal – and often heartbreaking – stories of abortion.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, Lisa Morris remembered an abortion she had 33 years ago, before the ubiquitous use of ultrasounds. “There's not a day that goes by that I don't regret that decision," she said. "It's not that I have not felt forgiveness, but the consequence remains.” She is now active in 40 Days for Life and Silent No More.

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Carol Rybacki had an abortion 43 years ago. “My problem didn't end with an abortion; it was only the beginning,” she told a crowd of 400 in Palatine, Illinois – an event headlined by Joe Scheidler, national director of the Pro-Life Action League.

Their stories were “a challenge to me as a man to think about more how I can protect my sisters and friends that I have around me as a man,” said Russ Polhemus.

They challenged large and growing crowds – of 600 in Cheyenne, Wyoming; 500 in Cincinnati; 300 in Yakima, Washington. One of the Washingtonians said the Holocaust of 70 years ago is still remembered. “Don’t let this modern-day Holocaust continue,” she implored.

In tiny Putnam County, Ohio, more than 100 people showed up. Last year, the Diocese of Toledo took 13 buses of Ohioans to the national march in Washington, D.C.

In Santa Cruz, a pro-abortion rally drew 60 people. Keynote speaker Lupe Rodriguez, the public affairs director of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte said the $850 fee is too low. “We have less and less providers, and they're getting reimbursed at the rates of the 1980s. This is potentially really devastating.”

Jeanne Monahan, who is organizing the national March for Life, told OneNewsNow she expects this year's march to set another attendance record. Some expect the participants to exceed the number of people who attended President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

“The pro-life movement is a movement of love,” Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Everything we do is to help people who we don't know and we won't meet.”  

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
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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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, 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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