Thaddeus Baklinski

UN sponsors first World Down Syndrome Day: greatest threat is abortion

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski
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NEW YORK, February 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life activists say they are thrilled that the UN is sponsoring its first World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), which will be celebrated at the UN Headquarters in New York on March 21 2012, with the focal point of the day being a conference titled “Building Our Future.”

Monica Rafie, the co-founder of Be Not Afraid, an online pro-life ministry that supports parents who are grappling with a poor prenatal diagnosis, including Down syndrome, told LifeSiteNews that the event “presents a beautiful opportunity to showcase the genuine solidarity shared among organizations and families everywhere.”

Diane Grover, co-founder of the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life, pointed out that the greatest challenge facing people with Down syndrome “is actually being born.” She said that she hopes the international celebration will draw attention to the extremely high abortion rate for Down’s children.

World Down Syndrome Day was established by Down Syndrome International and has been celebrated without UN-sponsorship since 2006. Over 60 countries in the world observe the day, which is held on March 21st (21/3) to signify the three copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to people with Down syndrome.

A resolution to designate 21/3 as “World Down Syndrome Day,” to be observed every year beginning in 2012, was adopted by consensus by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. The resolution was proposed and promoted by Brazil, and co-sponsored by 78 UN Member States. The resolution states that from 2012 onwards, the date will be celebrated by all 192 UN countries.

“When families learn that they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome (or any other prenatally diagnosable condition), they need to know that they and their child will be supported and accepted within their own community,” Rafie of Be Not Afraid told LifeSiteNews.com. “WDSD is meant to foster that sense of community on a macro scale.”

Rafie pointed out in an article previously published by LifeSiteNews that the primary threat to persons with Down syndrome is abortion.

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Diane Grover agreed. “We believe that taking a life because the child has an extra chromosome is a form of eugenics. By far, this is the most discriminating act that is happening to individuals with Down syndrome today! We believe that dignity for a person begins at conception.”

Grover’s organization not only advocates for the dignity and respect for all individuals with Down syndrome, from conception and throughout life, but also extends compassion and hope for healing to the families who lost their children when they had an abortion.

“The IDSC for Life was formed when a small group of mothers learned of the pressure put on women to terminate their pregnancy,” Grover said, “and the unfortunate numbers that followed through and did end their pregnancies. This broke our hearts. So we came together to advocate for our children, telling the world that ALL life is precious, including the lives of our children.”

“It has been reported that up to 90% of women with a confirmed prenatal diagnosis will terminate their pregnancy. Often times it is reported that women are given the gloomiest prognosis for their child, instead of up to date information and support.”

“However,” Grover remarked, “today, more than ever, people with Down syndrome are breaking barriers.”

The Down syndrome activist pointed to a research paper released by Dr. Brian Skotko which found that 99% of people with Down syndrome said that they are happy. The paper also found that “their parents and siblings say that their family member with Ds has made them better people.”

“We hope that World Down syndrome Day will bring attention to these incredible statistics.”

When asked what support parents with Down syndrome children need most, Grover responded enthusiastically, “The very first thing the parents need is to be told congratulations! They are expecting a child, and to say you are sorry, or to infer that they should end the pregnancy, lowers the dignity of the life of their child.”

“After the birth of their child, they need support and encouragement. In time, they will see that their child with Down syndrome is just that, a child. They need and deserve up-to-date information to help give their child the best they can. And they need respect. When a mother says she does not want to end her pregnancy, in light of a Ds diagnosis, that decision needs to be respected, by professionals, family members and anyone surrounding her.”

Grover said that her organization is producing a video that will be shared at the WDSD, and that they need the support of families with children with Down’s.

“We hope that anyone who has a child with Ds will write us to find out how they can participate in this. For this video, we are asking parents to write on a poster board advice they would give to themselves, prior to experiencing having a child with Down syndrome, and take a picture with that advice to your self, and send it to us at idscforlife@gmail.com.”

Organizers of World Down Syndrome Day say that participants from all around the world are welcome, especially those with Down Syndrome, and that there is no cost for registration. Space is limited so those interested in attending should register early as only participants with their names on the list and proper ID will be allowed in the building.

The event is sponsored by the Missions of Brazil and Poland to the UN and co-organized by Down Syndrome International, the UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UNICEF, with the collaboration of the Brazilian Federation of Associations of Down Syndrome (FBASD), Down España, the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation (DSRTF), the National Down Syndrome Center (NDSC),  the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), and the Special Olympics.

The aim of the day is to raise awareness and understanding about Down syndrome, and to promote the inherent rights of persons with Down syndrome to enjoy full and dignified lives and be active and valuable participants in their communities

More information is available from the Down Syndrome International website.

For more information on Be Not Afraid Ministry visit their website here.

For information on the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life and their WDSD video project visit their website here.

 

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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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