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The Pulse


News

M4L Youth Rally brings over a thousand teens together for pro-life message

'Don't hand this down to the next generation. ... Let's stop fighting abortion and end abortion!'
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 6:34 pm EST
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

The 42nd annual March for Life kicked off Wednesday with a full schedule of pre-rally events at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.  One of the highlights was the well-attended Youth Rally, which brought more than a thousand teens from all over the nation together to learn from pro-life leaders.

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One of the event’s most powerful moments was when the teens heard from one of their own – a young girl named Zoe who told the story of how her mother’s abortion in 1998 has impacted her own life.

Speaking on behalf of Silent No More’s Shockwave Initiative – which seeks to bring awareness to how each and every abortion touches many more lives than just abortionist, mother and child – Zoe told the emotional story of how her mother took her aside before Faith Formation class one day and confessed that she had aborted her first child, conceived with a boyfriend before she got married.  Zoe was stunned.  Her mother had been her pro-life hero for as long as she could remember.  But slowly, things started to make sense.  She had always felt like she should have had an older brother.  Now, she knew she had, and that his name was David.

That night, her mother revealed her secret to Zoe’s siblings.  Zoe’s younger brother Jackson took it the hardest, running to his room and hiding under the covers, where he sobbed with grief.  Eventually, all four siblings and their mother ended up in Jackson’s bed, holding him and praying together for the lost member of their family.

Today, Zoe says her brother’s loss motivates her to dedicate her time and energy to the pro-life movement.  “I want to say that I've avenged David by abolishing abortion, and I'm very confident that our generation is going to be the one that does that,” Zoe said.

Kevin Burke, also speaking for Silent No More, shared his stories about working with incarcerated men in Florida.  He said one of the most common denominators between men in prison was having an abortion in their past.

Burke said that the violence and power dynamic involved with facilitating a woman’s abortion stays with a man, and can often make him callous.

“Abortion brings out the worst in men,” Burke said, “the very worst.”  But he said that by seeking help from a post-abortive healing ministry, many men are able to come to terms with their past and move forward in a healthier and more productive direction.

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LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen, blogger Matt Walsh, and Americans United for Life's Andy Moore lead a panel on social media. SOURCE: Kirsten Andersen / LifeSiteNews

Save the Storks, a coalition of pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), gave the mainly high school- and college-aged audience a welcome message – an opportunity for employment in this struggling economy.  The group told the young crowd about their mobile CPCs, pregnancy centers on wheels that park near abortion clinics to offer an alternative to the 84 percent of women who report they felt they had “no other choice” than to procure an abortion when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and encouraged them to seek jobs at these mobile centers.  They said they hope to find the manpower to open 2.2 million of them in the coming years.

A major theme of the Youth Rally was the importance of social media.  Almost every speaker made a point to take “selfies” with the crowd and post them to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram on the spot.  Meanwhile, they urged the youth to “like” or follow their organization’s pages and share their content with their online friends and acquaintances. 

Andy Moore, Matt Walsh, and LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen held a panel on social media strategy, each hitting a different area of online engagement. Moore, the director of online communications for Americans United for Life, urged young people to share pro-life media reports and blog posts with their online contacts.

Noting the overwhelming flood of viral content from the mainstream, pro-abortion media, he said it was important to counter that content with the real facts about fetal development, the negative consequences of abortion, and other under-exposed points in the abortion debate. But he cautioned the crowd to “have balance” in their social media presence.  “If all you talk about is abortion, people will tune you out,” he said.  He said that on his own Facebook page, he makes an effort to maintain about a 50-50 ratio of pro-life content to everyday content like personal updates, jokes, memes, and interesting news stories; and said that with his pro-life content, he tries to make sure it’s a mix of hard-hitting and uplifting stories so he doesn’t burn his followers out with doom and gloom.

Popular blogger Matt Walsh echoed Moore’s sentiments, telling the crowd that the key to finding an audience for your message is to “write stuff that people want to read.”  But he encouraged them to disregard conventional wisdom when it comes to attracting readers.  “When I started blogging, all the experts said to avoid controversial issues” like abortion and same-sex “marriage” in order to attract a wide audience, Walsh said.  But it wasn’t until he wrote an open letter to Wendy Davis attacking her for her filibuster of a pro-life bill in Texas that his first post “went viral.”

The key to going viral, according to Walsh, who has 5-6 million readers every month, is to: 1. Be convincing; 2. Be blunt; and 3. Be real.

“Forget diplomacy,” Walsh said of online debate.  He said the current trend toward trying to write persuasive pieces that don’t offend anyone was started by “people who aren’t very good at making arguments.”  He warned the crowd not to try and anticipate every complaint that might be made against their writing, and instead focus on making clear and compelling arguments.  He also warned them against treating online content like a college term paper.  “Be human, not robotic,” Walsh said.  “Let your emotions and personality and experiences shine through.”

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Walsh told the teens that even though many of them have left blogs and Facebook behind as newer social media platforms are emerging, they have an obligation to use whatever social media platform on which they’re currently active to spread the pro-life message and defend the unborn. “I don’t know how you can have that platform and not use it” to save lives, Walsh said.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Westen challenged youth to engage with other kids on life issues, and urged them to use LifeSiteNews as a resource. He said the news website’s in-depth coverage of issues of concern to pro-lifers is designed to be a one-stop shop for soundbites, facts, and stories that can help activists of all ages and backgrounds bolster their arguments.  “We collect the information, and you can use it to start conversations and win arguments,” Westen said. 

Westen told the crowd not to be intimidated by the depth and breadth of content available at LifeSiteNews, and encouraged them to use the site like a smorgasbord of facts. “You don't have to read 25 stories a day,” he assured them. “Scan the headlines and find what you're interested in.”   Added Westen, “We deal with the hardest issues because we know you're going to be asked the hardest questions. We post the answers to those questions every day.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, reminded the teens that they are living in a culture where youth is king.  “Whether right or not, youth is currency,” Hawkins said.  “Hollywood, the media, and culture take [their] cues from us. And it’s time for us to lead by courageously illuminating the truth and hope. “

“We must show our peers, family members, and neighbors that we can be a nation that respects all human life,” Hawkins said.  “We need to talk all the time about our vision and hope for the future, eliminating the scariness that people feel sometimes when they hear our words, thinking we want women to die horrible deaths for illegal abortions.”

“We need to correct their thinking,” Hawkins said, “show them our vision, and ask them to join us in this fight.”

Bryan Kemper of Stand True Ministries took to the stage to encourage the audience to use their youth and energy to their advantage to bring new intensity to the fight against abortion.  He illustrated his point by offering a free pro-life t-shirt to the crowd, then rewarding the loudest, most enthusiastic audience member with the prize.

“Today's youth have so many advantages when spreading the pro-life message,” Kemper said, referring to the ease and worldwide reach of social media.  “Don't hand this down to the next generation.  Don't let your children sit in this room twenty years from now listening to my children tell them how to end abortion.  Let's stop fighting abortion and end abortion!”


  abortion, march for life

News

Bikers for Life rev up the March for Life

'We get together and ride. We pray the rosary and try to save babies,' said Rob Westenberger.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 5:38 pm EST
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Thomas Upshur of New York City, founder of Pro Bikers for Life. Ben Johnson / LifeSiteNews
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

Not many biker clubs can say they were inspired by a nun and exist to stamp out violence – but then Pro Bikers for Life is not any ordinary group of bikers.

“Basically, we ride to save the unborn,” Lou Fielack, a member from New York state, told LifeSiteNews. “We do sidewalk counseling in front of abortion clinics. We get young men and women to turn around and embrace life, and direct them to the Sisters of Life or the nearest crisis pregnancy center.”

The leather-clad contingent stuck out, even among the diversifying March for Life crowd in 2015. But they draw their strength from the same source as many in the pro-life movement.

“We get together and ride. We pray the rosary and try to save babies,” said Rob Westenberger, a motorcycle enthusiast from southern New Jersey.

The members commit to pray the rosary in their homes and go to Eucharistic adoration, either alone or as a team. 

“It's a union of many people praying as we counsel” at abortion facilities across the nation, explained Thomas Upshur of New York City, who founded the organization in 2009.

Upshur says that Sister Loretta of the Sisters of Life invited him to go to Washington and asked him an unexpected question. “She said, 'Why don't you start something pro-life for bikers, especially at the clinics, to talk to guys?'” Upshur said. Despite his burly frame and tall stature, he found he could not tell the sister no.

Having bikers peacefully standing outside abortion facilities “makes a big difference” in counselors' ability “to talk to the men,” whether in a sidewalk counseling situation or otherwise. Boyfriends or husbands who might never speak to a woman or an elderly man might find a pro-life biker more approachable.

Upshur remembered bonding with a bus driver in Brooklyn over their common love of motorcycles.

“I looked at the bus driver and said, 'You look like a biker to me.' He said, 'I am a biker. How could you tell?' I said, 'You're the personification of a biker.'”

Thomas told the driver tales of riding on his Roadmaster to see his father in Detroit, who has since passed away. The driver said he had also lost his father in South Carolina the previous year. Then Upshur mentioned his stand for life.

The driver “kinda dropped his head, and he said, 'I'm in a lot of pain.' He said, 'Can I talk to you'?” The driver revealed that he had been part of an abortion 30 years earlier, saying, “I have been in pain everyday since then.”

“I said, 'Your child in Heaven knows your pain, and your pain is love.' He stopped the bus and said, 'Can I hug you?' I said, 'Sure you can.' So we hug, and he said, 'I'm free.'”

After praying together, he thanked Upshur and gave himself a bit of biker advice: “You've gotta keep the shiny side up and the rubber to the road.'

“We run into this all the time,” Upshur said.

Outside abortion facilities, too, men gravitate toward masculine men.

“We tell them to step up to the plate and protect their child,” Upshur said. “And many guys will get up, go into the clinic,” and walk back out after convincing their girlfriends not to go through with the abortion – often a procedure the men talked the women into in the first place.

The bikers counseled at South Wind Women's Center in Wichita, Kansas – the abortion facility housed in the same building as Dr. George Tiller's former late-term abortion office. Its abortionist, Dr. Cheryl Chastine, has compared her detractors to terrorists.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

One of their members let slip the bikers' secret: Their hard exteriors contain tender hearts. “You have to be in prayer to do this work,” Fielack told LifeSiteNews. “And no matter what they throw at you, you have to accept the cursing, spitting – whatever they might say and do. If you're going to be a member, you have to be able to renounce violence.”

Young people also responded – more than 150,000 of them at the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, where the bikers had a table, according to Upshur.

Africans in particular, were appalled to learn of the number of abortions in the United States. “I thought America was civilized,” they told Upshur. “How can it be civilized when they're aborting so many of their babies, and especially in the black community?”

The bikers are also committed to protecting the safety of other pro-lifers, escorting Life Runners through the streets of New York City during a run.

The group has dozens of members in states as far removed as Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, and New York. And they continue to spread the world through their website, ProBikersForLife.us, and Facebook page – recruiting more bikers to pray for one another and counsel together when they have the opportunity.

“There's no one person” who embodies the group, Upshur said. “It's a team effort.”


  abortion, march for life, pro bikers for life, thomas upshur

News

Youth Mass at D.C.’s Verizon Center attracts 15,000 young Catholics before March for Life

In a special message, Pope Francis told the youth he was 'pleased' to be with them in spirit.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 4:49 pm EST
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Thousands of youth take part in the Archdiocese of Washington's Youth Rally and Mass for Life before the March for Life on January 22, 2015. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Approximately 15,000 young Roman Catholics packed the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C., for the annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life in advance of the 42nd annual March for Life to end abortion.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington presided over the Mass, alongside bishops from around the nation including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.  The American bishops were joined by the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who brought a special message from Pope Francis to the young pro-lifers.

As thousands of teens filed into the arena, they were welcomed by a rock band, and many of them took to social media to post their appreciation for the music. 

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Archbishop Viganò, then papal nuncio to the United States, reads a message from Pope Francis at the 2015 March for Life. SOURCE: Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
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Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl processes in for Mass at a March for Life Youth Rally, 2015. SOURCE: Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
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New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan processes in for Mass. SOURCE: Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
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“Just did some crazy dancing,” attendee Ben Sweedyk wrote on Twitter. 

“I stand for life! Crazy dance central!!!” wrote another, Maleah Smith.

Once the stadium was packed, Cardinal Wuerl took to the stage to welcome the crowd and introduce the many bishops in attendance at the Mass.  The teens gave the bishops a rock star’s welcome, letting loose with cheers and thunderous applause as each was called by name.

After the introductions were made, Abp. Viganò went to the podium and read a special message from Pope Francis to the young marchers.  He received a standing ovation from the crowd.  Pope Francis said he was “pleased” to be present in spirit with the young people standing up for life.

Finally, five teens led thousands of their peers in the Rosary with the intention of ending abortion. One attendee said the power of the teens’ prayers was palpable, and called it “awesome.”

Pete Baklinski contributed to this report. 


  abortion, catholic, march for life

News

‘The largest human rights march in the world’: Hundreds of thousands join D.C. March for Life: More photos added

Sunny skies and surprisingly warm temperatures greeted the pro-life marchers as they heard speeches from pro-life politicians and prominent movement leaders.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 2:53 pm EST
Featured Image
Slide show has been updated with more photos
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

Editor's note: Click on the above image for a slideshow of now more added photos from the March for Life taken by LifeSiteNews journalists.

The 42nd annual March for Life kicked off Thursday with an hour-long rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists gathered beneath sunny skies and surprisingly warm temperatures to hear speeches from pro-life politicians and prominent movement leaders.

The rally opened with a benediction from Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, KY, who was flanked by both Catholic and Orthodox clerics as he led the crowd in prayer and asked God’s blessing on the March.

After the benediction, March for Life Chairman Patrick Kelly took the podium to welcome the marchers, taking special notice of their overwhelming youth. “When I look out on this enormous crowd, I see a tide turning in America,” Kelly said. “The March for Life is getting bigger and younger every year.”  

“History is on our side,” said Kelly, “because history is always on the side of those who fight for human dignity and human life.”  He said that after four decades, the March for Life “has become the largest human rights march in the world.”

March for Life President Jeanne Monahan Mancini elicited happy cheers from the crowd as she took the stage and asked, “What do y’all think about this weather?”  Thursday’s mild conditions stood in marked contrast to the weather during last year’s march, which took place in near-zero temperatures with biting winds, putting marchers at risk of frostbite and causing electronics to fail due to the extreme cold.

“I’m so grateful” for all the pilgrims who traveled from around the country and around the world to join the march, Mancini said. She explained that this year’s theme, “Every Life is a Gift,” refers especially to babies with prenatal diagnoses of potentially disabling conditions like Down syndrome who are aborted at a much higher rate than the general population.

“1.1 million babies per year, or one-fifth of babies in America are aborted every year.  For babies with poor prenatal diagnosis, the abortion rate jumps to 85 percent,” Mancini said.  “That’s just wrong, isn’t it?”

"The truth of the matter is that every life is a gift, regardless of if we have a disability or not … and let’s be honest – we all have disabilities," she said. "Some of them are more obvious than others, but none of us are perfect.”  

Echoing a theme that has been present at many events related to the march, Mancini highlighted the importance of social media, and urged the crowd to take out their cellphones and subscribe to the March for Life text service on the spot by texting GIVELIFE to 99000.  “Social media is a huge part of getting the pro-life message out,” Mancini said. She asked the marchers to take photos throughout today’s events and “let the world know” about the March for Life and all the issues involved by posting them to social media with the hashtag #whywemarch. 

“Speaking of social media,” Mancini added, “Apparently [Pope Francis] likes the March for Life!”  She shared a tweet the Roman Catholic pontiff posted earlier in the day which read: “Every life is a gift.  #MarchForLife,” and urged the crowd to reply to him with their thanks.

Mancini then introduced a number of politicians who took a quick break from debating a bill to bar taxpayer funds for abortion to show their appreciation for the pro-life marchers.  Rep. Kathy McMorris-Rogers, R-WA, started things off.  McMorris-Rogers heads the House Down syndrome caucus and is herself the proud mother of a seven-year-old son named Cole who has Down syndrome. “That extra chromosome has brought my family a whole bunch of joy,” McMorris-Rogers said. “Cole has reminded me anew of the value of every human life.”  

“I’m proud to be a pro-life leader and a pro-life mom,” McMorris-Rogers said, to cheers. “Later on today in the House of Representatives, we will be passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  We are holding the federal government accountable to protect your taxpayer dollars from funding abortion.”  Any taxpayer subsidies for abortion providers, she added, are “a violation of the public trust.”  

McMorris-Rogers promised that despite the GOP leadership’s eleventh-hour decision to refrain from voting on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, she and her pro-life colleagues are committed to its passage, along with the passage of a healthcare conscience rights act.  “The Unborn Child Protection Act is so important because it shifts the debate” over abortion, and makes sure that people know the pain that unborn children feel is “very real and very wrong,” said McMorris-Rogers.

Senator Tim Scott, R-SC, told McMorris-Rogers, “The Senate will stand shoulder to shoulder with the House as you move forward legislation that protects life.”  Taking on the tone and volume of a Southern preacher, Scott told the crowd that it was his conversion to Christianity that first made him realize the value of all human life.  He then shared the story of how, while he was a small business owner, one of his employees became unexpectedly pregnant. “I did what I thought would be the right thing and took her to a Crisis Pregnancy Center,” Scott said.  He said the love and guidance she was shown there inspired her to forego the abortion she’d planned on and have her daughter.

Chris Smith, R-NJ, co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, told the crowd: “We have a compelling duty to protect the weakest and the most vulnerable from the violence of abortion.” He admonished those who recommend abortion for babies with defects or disabilities.

“A prenatal diagnosis of disability should mean empathy, concern for the child and love,” Smith said, “not a death sentence.”  

He praised the crowd of mostly millennials for their enthusiasm and called them “the next Greatest Generation.”  He told them that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would be voted on “within an hour or so.”  

“That legislation is historic,” Smith said. “It will end our forced complicity, our funding of abortion.”  He said President Barack Obama lied when he said his federal healthcare plan wouldn’t require taxpayer support for abortions.  “We will not quit until we take abortion out of ObamaCare and make the Hyde Amendment permanent,” Smith pledged.  He also vowed to do everything possible to ensure the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is brought up in the House for a vote, lamenting that babies who die during late-term abortions endure “agony beyond our wildest belief.”

Dan Lipinski, D-IL, was distinctive as the only Democratic elected official to take the stage.  “I’m from Chicago, I’m a Bears fan, I’m a Democrat, and I’m pro-life,” Lipinski said, to wild applause.  Lipinski said that the defense of human life is an issue that people of all political and religious persuasions should be able to agree on.  “Everyone needs to come together to protect life,” Lipinski said.  “Women deserve better than abortion.”

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, reminded the crowd that the unborn are not the only ones whose lives hang in the balance with the rise of the Culture of Death.  “This year we face a lot of new threats,” Anderson said, citing in particular doctor-assisted suicide, which several states have taken moves toward legalizing. “We will stand up for those at the end of life just as we have for those at the beginning of life,” Anderson promised.  As for abortion, Anderson said the momentum is on the side of protecting life. “According to the latest Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, 84 percent of Americans want significant restrictions on abortion,” Anderson said, “two-thirds of Americans say the nation’s abortion rate is too high, and a majority of Americans believe abortion is immoral.”  

“No amount of propaganda can cover up or change the pain that women who have undergone abortions feel every day,” Anderson added.  He concluded by announcing the Knights’ plan to provide ultrasound machines to Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  “Almost every woman who sees her child in an ultrasound chooses life,” he said.  

Mancini then introduced Kathleen Wilson, who operates Mary’s Shelter, a chain of maternity homes in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was received with deafening cheers by the audience.  “I’m proud to represent the nearly 400 maternity homes in this nation,” Wilson said.  “We exist to help women in desperate need.  Women who have low self esteem, who have lost hope.”  

Wilson said that many women who seek help from maternity homes have boyfriends or family members who are trying to force them to abort.  She shared the story of one woman, Angela, who became pregnant via a horrific rape.  Her friends and family urged her to get rid of the baby via abortion, but she had the baby with the help of Mary’s Shelter, and her child has brought her “absolute joy.”  Wilson said Angela often asks, “If not for Mary’s Shelter, what would I have done?” She said that many women who come to the shelter cry after the birth, not because they are sad about the baby, but because they are thinking about what might have been, and realizing that the people in their lives didn’t want their precious children to be born.

Dr. Gracie Christie, a radiologist who specializes in ultrasound, said her favorite part of the job is working with expectant parents. “I get to be there for that awesome moment when a mother and father see their baby for the first time,” Christie said.  “Ultrasound opens a window into the womb to see that moment when we are very tiny, but very much human and very much alive.”  

But Christie said that ultrasound also has a dark side:  We can now see telltale signs of defects that lead parents to abort.  “This is the world we are living in: Children are choices, commodities, and those that are deemed defective are eradicated before birth,” Christie said.  She said that when she sees signs of Down syndrome on the ultrasound screen, she feels sick, because she knows that ninety percent of them will be killed by abortion. Of disabled children, Christie said: “They have a heart made for joy, a soul to cherish, and a right to simply exist.”

After Christie’s somber speech, the mood turned more lighthearted as the focus shifted to the march’s younger attendees. The crowd cheered as March for Life organizers announced the winners of the annual student contest, themed “Every Selfie has a Story.”  They then introduced this year’s march leaders, the entire student body and faculty of Shanley High School in Fargo, ND.  The entire school -- 400 people in total, filled eight buses and drove 24 hours straight to carry the banner at the front of the march.  Senior Julia Johnson said, “As a school, we are humbled and honored to have been selected to hold the banner for this year’s March for Life.”  

“Our cause in defending life is a noble one,” Johnson told the crowd in a brief speech, showing poise and passion that belied her age. “We are living in a modern-day holocaust … that takes the lives of 3,000 babies each day, more than one million babies each year.”  

Said Johnson, “It is our job to protect our brothers and sisters in the womb and their right to life.  It is our obligation to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for value is not determined by size or age.”

“We are willing to fight for [life in the womb],” Johnson said.  “We march to stop an injustice that has taken the lives of a third of our generation.  This pro-life movement was not born out of hatred for our neighbors, but of love.”

Nancy Cruzer, Chicago regional director of Silent No More, shared an emotional story of being 5.5 months pregnant and informed that her baby had hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.”  Her doctor advised an abortion, and she complied.  

“At the abortion clinic, no one asked how I was or explained what was happening,” Cruzer said.  “I left the clinic with no body to bury, no grave, no funeral. ...  No one brought meals, sent cards, no one called, because I was too ashamed to tell anyone what I had done.”   

For years, Cruzer thought she had put the abortion behind her, but she was plagued by horrible nightmares.  Finally, she became a Christian and joined a Bible Study for post-abortive women.  She found peace, and the nightmares stopped.  She named her baby Melanie.  “I deeply regret my abortion and that is why I am silent no more,” Cruzer said.

In keeping with the theme of “Every Life is a Gift,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, then took the stage to recount the story of her son Gunner’s diagnosis with cystic fibrosis.  

“In the last 6 years, my life has changed dramatically by Gunner’s entry into the world,” Hawkins said. She and her husband now make significant financial sacrifices to provide his costly medications, and they had to leave family and friends behind to move closer to his special doctors, but Hawkins said, “It’s worth it.”  Now, she is pregnant with her fourth child and first daughter, Gracie.  While she prays that Gracie will be healthy, she says she knows that if she has cystic fibrosis, she will have a big brother to help her through it and a family who loves her unconditionally.  

Hawkins said she knows from experience how hard it is to raise a disabled child, and how intense the pressure can be to have a perfect baby.  “But abortion and IVF don’t make these babies more perfect,” said Hawkins, “they destroy them.”  

Hawkins concluded her speech with a question: Do you believe we will end abortion in this generation?  Thousands of young marchers screamed, “Yes!”  

“It is time to act like it,” Hawkins said, and led the crowd in a chant: “We are the pro-life generation!”


  abortion, march for life

News

Canada’s best kids book is an anti-Christian novel about a sex-obsessed trans teen? So say the Governor General’s judges

'We’re not in Green Gables anymore, Toto,' quipped National Post's Barbara Kay.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 1:51 pm EST
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Raziel Reid's When Everything Feels Like the Movies won the Governor General's award for children's literature.
Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

Teenage life sucks and then it gets worse—this seems to be the message judges of children’s literature are looking for these days, at least if the winners of the Governor General’s and B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s writing contests are anything to go by.

Speaking generally about the dark trend in teen lit, Greg Roper, chairman of the English department at the University of Dallas, told LifeSiteNews, “The family is now seen as the source of oppression, a place of pathology. The thesis now is that children must be prepared for a harsh world, not protected from it, and this idea is being pushed at an earlier and earlier age.”

The Governor General’s winner this year for children’s literature is Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels Like The Movies, which drew this description from a clearly complimentary review in goodreads.com written by Max Baker: “If this book is anything, it's a testament of how f****d up Generation Y is. Like, no s**t. We're a bunch of self-entitled, egotistical, a**holes who hate everything for not being exactly the way we want them.”

National Post columnist Barbara Kay took a dimmer view, noting that the protagonist is both too old—and too weird for good children’s literature. “What were they thinking of?” she asks. “When Everything Feels like the Movies is about a trans/queer teenager — Jude (or “Judy”) Rothesay—whose difference isolates him socially. But he has many other troubles besides. His mother is an alcoholic stripper, so absorbed in a mutually abusive, on-off relationship with her loutish partner that she has difficulty parenting Jude and his special-needs half-brother Keefer.”

And that’s just the cast of characters. The action happens mostly in the protagonist’s head because life is too unpleasant to handle. Jude describes everything in his life in movie terms (an approach which “grows thin” with overuse, in Kay’s view) when he isn’t describing everything in sexual terms. Thus the folds in a waitress’ flabby neck remind him of “a woman’s vagina.” Not surprisingly, the book is frequently anti-Christian. Jude’s friend Angela describes her abortion this way:  “I asked the doctor if he could suck out some fat when he took the fetus, and the nurse looked at me like I was masturbating with a crucifix.” Quips Kay: “We’re not in Green Gables anymore, Toto.”

She continues, “Adult authority figures are portrayed as weak, incompetent or hypocritical.” As for the protagonist, about all that can be said for him is that he is not hypocritical, he preaches—and lives—a life of “unapologetically absolute” narcissism. “Jude begins and ends as a liar, a thief (steals from mom and the Salvation Army), a sex-teaser of strange men, a stalker, a masochist (he deliberately incites bullying episodes) and a narcissist.” But the book’s message, in Kay’s view, is that this is all appropriate. If you are an “authentic trans/queer,” you can be Peter Pan and never mature. It is a message, in her view, not worth one cent of the $25,000-prize.

Karyn Huenemann agrees. An English instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, a book blogger and Goodreads reviewer, she commented,  “When Everything Feels Like the Movies has just won the Governor-General Award for Children's Literature for 2014. I can't think why. It is certainly FAR from the ‘best English-language ... [children's] book’ in Canada this year.”

The characters are far too knowledgeable about sex and far too alienated for typical middle schoolers, she states, zeroing in on Angela’s frequent abortions. Similarly, they don’t talk like children their age. She calls “uncanny” the author’s “inability at depicting characters of a consistent age.”

But literature judges seem to like this subject matter for children. In 2013, the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Book Prize for children’s literature went to Caroline Adderson’s Middle of Nowhere, which begins with the disappearance of the youthful hero’s mother, sending him into the bush to escape Social Services. One of the other finalists also pits its hero against Social Services, while a third features its young protagonist in psychotherapy after his brother “shatters” the home by going on a gun rampage.

The 2014 winner, Ashley Little, covers the same dark ground with the ominously titled The New Normal. The contest citation sums it up thus: “Tamar Robinson knows a lot about loss—more than any teenager should. Her younger sisters are dead, her parents are adrift in a sea of grief, and now Tamar is losing her hair.”

If this seems far-fetched, remember it is fiction, says Tula Batanchiav in an undated op-ed piece in New York University’s NYULivewire website, titled “Going Over to the Dark Side: Teen lit about suicide, anorexia and techno-torture is on the rise.” Many of the librarians she interviewed say books about youth in atypical surroundings are not new to kid-lit. Many are curious about worlds different from their own and books about “the dark side” fill the bill.

But Professor Roper told LifeSiteNews that there is more going on here than escapism. “The concept of childhood has changed. We used to believe it should be a protected time, that children needed a world of innocence to develop psychologically. Now the thesis is that children must be prepared at an earlier and earlier age for an oppressive world. But children are more stressed than they have ever been. That thesis has been an utter failure.”

Dr. Roper added that young adult literature is excessively topical. “You put in the issue of the week, and crank out young adult literature.”  Another problem is its negative take on the family. In classic young people’s stories, he said, the hero often rebels against his parents but by the end has discovered they are positive and caring. Now the family of origin is the villain the hero must escape.

“The search for freedom has always been a theme for both adult and children’s literature,” Dr. Roper said.  “But there is a difference between freedom and licence. Freedom is deeply misunderstood not just in literature but in the culture at large.”

Dr. Roper said he and his wife read all the literature assigned their children in school before they read it. Some books they have not let their children read.


  children's literature, governor general, homosexuality, transgenderism

News

Pro-euthanasia group shouldn’t have been given charitable status 33 years ago: Canadian gvmt

The group Dying with Dignity, says the Canada Revenue Agency, in fact shouldn’t have had charitable status since it’s inception 33 years ago.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 1:13 pm EST
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Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

Dying with Dignity has lost its charity status, and its main opponent in the public debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia says it’s high time.

Started in 1982 and soon granted the charity status required to bestow tax breaks on donors, Dying with Dignity has been audited by the Canada Revenue Agency as part of a general investigation of advocacy groups and found to be in violation of CRA’s requirements from day one. In effect, CRA stated in a letter Dying with Dignity got this week, the pro-death group has never been a charity.

Commented Hugh Scher of the London, Ontario-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: “It’s unfortunate when an advocacy group is effectively breaking the rules in order to promote its private goals on the backs of the taxpayers.” EPC, he noted, has also never been a charity, but it has never claimed to be.

The CRA told Dying with Dignity it had intended only to audit the group for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years but had discovered the group had been outside the bounds of charity work from its inception, with a “political purpose — to expand choice in dying, including by securing the legal right to die. … It is our view, based on our review of the organization’s objects and activities on file from 1982, the organization was registered in error and ineligible for registration under the (Income Tax) Act at the time of its registration.”

Charities, according to an ever-mounting pile of directives and explanations from the CRA, cannot be political, meaning they cannot support a political party or a specific candidate, which Dying with Dignity did not do, nor can they advocate for or against change in Canada’s laws, policies, or regulations. This was one of its functions from the outset.

The New Democratic Party Finance Critic MP Murray Rankin was quick to argue the move was politically motivated. “We need to remember that if those groups are in sync with the Conservatives –I’m thinking of the Fraser Institute and the like–they seem to be fine,” the Canadian Press reports him as saying. “If they are left-leaning or human rights or environmental or anti-poverty—and now this group Dying with Dignity—whose values aren't aligned with the Conservatives, those are the ones that appear to be most vulnerable.”

But Rebecca Rogers, a spokeswoman for Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, told CTV News, “Audits done by the Canada Revenue Agency are done at arm's length, without any political interference.”

Also, in the earlier years of the previous decade, several pro-life organizers told LifeSiteNews, the whole movement also was subjected to CRA scrutiny.  A staffer with one pro-life charity told LifeSiteNews that Revenue Canada has gradually become more demanding of organizations that they live up to their specific objectives, and not fall into direct advocacy. “They wanted a more collaborative approach from us,” she said. Her group responded by designing an educational program that “told all sides of the story. We talked about abortion but we talked about adoption and parenting.”

The CRA does allow charities to spend 10 percent of their resources on political (but non-partisan) activities, but insists that the rest of its efforts be beneficial to the public, such as counseling, material assistance to the needy, or education.

But the education must be fair, the CRA insists. “The degree of bias in an activity will determine if it can still be considered educational,” states one of its instructions to charities. “The materials of some organizations may have such a slant or predetermination that we can no longer reasonably consider them as educational.”

“Also, to be educational in the charitable sense, organizations must not rely on incomplete information or on an appeal to emotions. Even in a classroom setting, promoting a particular point of view may not be educational in the charitable sense. As a result, courses, workshops, and conferences may not be charitable if they ultimately seek to create a climate of opinion or to advocate a particular cause.”

Dying with Dignity does not plan on disputing its loss of charity status. CEO Wanda Morris said, “We won’t be opposing it, simply because it would be lengthy, time consuming, costly and a distraction from our core work.” But now that they are freed from any CRA constraints, the organization will be endorsing political candidates, something that non-charitable pro-life groups such as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Campaign Life Coalition have long done. 


  canada revenue agency, dying with dignity, euthanasia

News

Pro-life activists and clergy pray for the unborn at memorial before March for Life

The pro-life gathering also honored three of the leaders in promoting the abortion-breast cancer link.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 12:25 pm EST
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Pro-life clergy lead the National Memorial for the Pre-Born and their Mothers and Fathers in Washington, D.C., on January 22, 2015. Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews
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By Lisa Bourne

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Memorial for the Pre-Born and their Mothers and Fathers was among the many related events occurring with the 42nd annual March for Life in Washington D.C.

Several dozen pro-life leaders and clergy from various Christian faith traditions gathered for the interdenominational prayer service in its 21st year, held at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall the morning of the March. The focus of the memorial is for pro-lifers to assemble in penitence for abortion and grieve, but also to gather in hope with determination to work for its end through unity.

The event opened with a Catholic Mass celebrated by Father Frank Pavone of Priests of Life, which presented the prayer service along with the National Pro-Life Religious Council, Faith and Action, Gospel of Life Ministries, and the National Pro-Life Center on Capitol Hill. It continued with the interdenominational service, which included music from Christian artist Matthew Ward and testimony from the post-abortion ministry Silent No More.

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Father Frank Pavone offers Mass at the National Memorial for the Pre-Born and their Mothers and Fathers on January 22, 2015. SOURCE: Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

Among the pro-life leaders who joined the event were David Bereit from 40 Days for Life, Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, and Josh Duggar, FRC Action’s executive director and member of the Duggar family from TLC’s popular 19 Kids and Counting.

The National Pro-Life Recognition Award was presented to Dr. Joel Brind, professor of human biology and endocrinology at Baruch College; Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, breast cancer surgeon; and Karen Malec, president and co-founder of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

The memorial specifically prayed for intercession with leaders in government and law.

Pro-life advocate Alveda King offered the prayer for the Supreme Court.

“Lord God you alone judge the world and all those who live in it,” she said.

Co-sponsoring the memorial service were Alliance Defending Freedom, American Values, Americans United for Life, Jubilee Campaign Law of Life Project, Life Issues Institute, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. 


  abortion, march for life

News

My son with Cystic Fibrosis is ‘a profound blessing’: pro-life student leader

'If it weren't for my strong pro-life beliefs...I could have been tempted into aborting my children,' said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 11:45 am EST
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Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, shares the story of her son with Cystic Fibrosis at a March for Life event on January 21, 2015. Ben Johnson / LifeSiteNews
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By Ben Johnson

On the eve of the March for Life, one of the most visible leaders of the pro-life movement described how her son, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, proves the conference's theme that “every life is a gift.”

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, had just given birth when doctors asked for repeated blood tests on her first baby boy, Gunner. On St. Patrick's Day 2009, three months of tests culminated in what she describes as “every parent's nightmare.”

“We got the call that my first son, Gunner, did in fact have Cystic Fibrosis, an incurable, deadly disease,” Hawkins said. “It was and still is one of the most deeply felt, painful moments of my life.”

Her husband, heartbroken, lost faith in God, something he is only beginning to regain.

“At the time that Gunner was diagnosed, my husband swore up and down that he would never have another child again, that he would never pass on this deadly gene to another child,” she said.

However, by that time she was already pregnant with their second son, Bear.

“I looked at him, said, 'Oops,' and that was it,” she said with a smile.

Fear hung over the second pregnancy – but it was different another way. She had a pro-life OB/GYN during her first pregnancy, who did not pressure her to have invasive prenatal tests and screening. Her second team demanded such tests before they even confirmed that she was expecting.

She denied all testing that might put her child at greater risk, but the urging continued from all quarters.

When her family visited a Cystic Fibrosis care facility in Minnesota, a geneticist on her “care team” told her, “My job is to help families who have children with CF make sure they don't have any more children with CF.”

“I'm sitting there – I'm pregnant with my second son, my husband is an emotional wreck. ... I'm holding Gunner, this beautiful baby boy, and she's telling me he's a mistake, and no more Gunner's should be born,” Hawkins said, with evident emotion. “This is what we're talking about when we talk about this culture of death.”

Medical pressure mounted, even at her most vulnerable times.

“Moments after I delivered Bear, they were offering to put an IUD in me. Then they offered to put Norplant in me. They kept coming back trying to get me on the birth control pill right away,” she said.

“First of all, I just delivered a son. I wasn't thinking about sex ever again,” she quipped.

Even as she was struggling with the effects of sedation, she told her husband, “I was so afraid of what they were going to do even without my consent.”

Neither Bear nor her third son, Maverick, shared their brother's condition. Gunner, she said, is “a bossy big brother” to both, but they all share great fraternal affection.

In addition to his life of Tae Kwon Do, Gunner – who turns six next week – has a passion for learning. Lately, he has wanted to learn more about Cystic Fibrosis. “How's he going to take the news when he finds out the prognosis for survivors?” she asked.

Hawkins, who is endlessly caricatured in the hostile media as a pro-life diehard with a bullhorn, broke down in tears and briefly paused her speech.

The moderator of the March for Life's Culture of Life seminar, NRO editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez, interjected, “Kristan told me, 'I don't talk about myself.'”

Her dedication to her son began a new life for everyone. To be near the best health care facility, they have moved to Minnesota, 14 hours away from family, friends, and an extended support network. She is homeschooling him to avoid germs and sickness from other children.

Despite the challenges, the social pressure, and “the endless daily – and I mean daily – phone calls with the insurance company,” she would not trade a minute of her experience with him.

“Gunner's been a profound blessing on my family's life,” she said.

Even as she spoke to the crowd of hundreds, uncertainty hung over her.

“I'm pregnant with my fourth now,” she said. Her first girl, whom she has already named Gracie, is due in May. She does not know if she, too, will have CF.

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“I know that if it weren't for my strong pro-life beliefs – if my beliefs had not been cemented in high school and college – I like most people in the country, like 90 percent of CF parents when they find out the shocking news, I could have been tempted into aborting my children,” she said.

Her experience as the mother of a child others would label “disabled” only steels her commitment to assure that all life is cherished and protected. “It gives me hope,” she said. “I'm going to work even harder to abolish abortions like that, to save children like that.”

Through her work on campus, she has optimism for the future of the pro-life movement – but the integrity and dignity of children with special needs is an area that is sorely in need of support.

“We have an uphill battle,” she admitted. “This generation is pro-life. But when it comes to the question of what do you do when there is a fetal abnormality, we're losing that question.”

“We need to change that. We need to counter that and say, 'Why would you say that?'” she said.

She encouraged everyone – including many in the crowd who had children or siblings with developmental delay themselves – to post pictures of children with CF, Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, or other special needs. Personalizing and humanizing them makes aborting someone like them unthinkable.

“Talk about abortion regularly,” Hawkins said. “Talk about these children – that they are precious and that they have a right to life.”


  cystic fibrosis, kristan hawkins, march for life

News

Pope Francis tweets support to March for Life: ‘Every life is a gift’

The tweet and other messages in support of the massive U.S. march has become something of a tradition in recent years.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 9:25 am EST
Pope Francis kisses baby
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By Patrick Craine

This morning Pope Francis tweeted his support for the Washington March for Life as hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates prepare to gather on the National Mall for the annual event.

“Every Life is a Gift,” he wrote, with the hashtag #marchforlife.

The tweet and other messages in support of the massive U.S. march has become something of a tradition in recent years. Last year on the morning of the march, Pope Francis tweeted: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”

And the year before, in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI tweeted: "I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

Pope Francis has also been openly supportive of Rome’s March for Life, addressing the crowd at his Sunday general audience in St. Peter’s Square each of the last two years. 


  abortion, catholic, march for life, pope francis

News

‘Glamorization of promiscuity’ must end before abortion can, Cardinal O’Malley tells 11,000 at March for Life vigil

The annual Mass drew six cardinals, 44 bishops, 343 priests, 100 deacons, and 530 seminarians.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 7:40 am EST
By Pete Baklinski

Abortion will not end until the “glamorization of promiscuity” is reversed, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley told an overflow crowd of over 11,000 pro-life pilgrims attending the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Capitol’s Catholic Basilica Wednesday evening. 

“People who favor legal abortion claim they want to reduce the number of abortions. One of the logical ways to reduce the number of abortions would be to discourage the promiscuous behavior that is rampant in our culture,” he said in his homily to the crowd consisting largely of young people.

“The glamorization of promiscuity needs to be reversed by having people speak out against it,” he said.

O’Malley said practicing chastity, which the Church speaks about as an integration of sexuality within the person that is applicable to every state of life, is a way to be pro-life by “[protecting] the transmission of life.”

The annual Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in which Cardinal O’Malley was principal celebrant and homilist, drew six cardinals, 44 bishops, 343 priests, 100 deacons, and 530 seminarians.  

The cardinal mentioned abortion 31 times in his homily, referring to it as a “barbaric practice” that devastates the lives of women.

Unjust laws governing abortion must be changed, he said, but “we must work even harder to change hearts, to build a civilization of love.”  

The cardinal said that politicians need to be “brought up to date” on data showing that a majority of Americans favor restrictions on abortion.

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“Even a majority of so-called pro-choice Americans actually favor informed consent for mothers, abortion bans in the third trimester, bans on partial-birth abortions, required parental consent for minors, 24 hour waiting periods and even abortion bans in the second trimester. These are polls by Gallup, CBS, and the New York Times, not by EWTN, Catholic University and the Vatican,” he said.

There are many myths that are circulating and cause a lot of harm, especially since politicians often espouse them, Cardinal O’Malley said. He listed first the myth that abortion is a woman’s issue, second, that most Americans are “pro-choice,” and last, that young people are overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-abortion position.

“But you know there are some people who are using these American myths: that the majority of women, the majority of Americans, the majority of young people are pro-choice,” the cardinal said. “It is a lie that is being foisted on the American people to try to convince people to embrace abortion with the flag and apple pie.”

The cardinal mentioned in passing the necessity of “preserving the family as the sanctuary of life,” but mentioned nothing about current attacks facing the family, especially resulting from the state-by-state redefinition of marriage to include same-sex attracted persons.

He said that unmerited laws should be changed, but indicated that greater focus is needed on changing hearts.

“We must work tirelessly to change the unjust laws,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “But we must work even harder to change hearts, to build a civilization of love.”


  abortion, catholic, march for life, sean o'malley

News

About-face: House will not vote on 20 week abortion bill during March for Life

The House leadership will instead vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act during the annual pro-life event.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 5:00 am EST
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By Dustin Siggins

House Republican leadership has delayed a vote on H.R. 36, the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" after a week of controversy over its rape exception and related provisions.

Instead of voting on H.R. 36 on January 22, the day of the 42nd annual March for Life, the House will consider the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," which would prevent all federal funding of abortions except in the case of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

The delay of the vote on the 20-week ban came after a week of controversy over its rape exception. Like its counterpart in the last Congress, the bill said women impregnated after being raped could only get an abortion after 20 weeks' gestation if they reported the assault to police.

Several female House Republicans, including at least one supporter of the bill that passed the House in 2013, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, said the exception was too narrow. Specifically, Ellmers said the reporting requirement should be eliminated.  

The last minute switch left many pro-life leaders fuming. Jill Stanek told LifeSiteNews that the move was "a slap in the face of the pro-life movement, the day before the March for Life. They [Republicans] are taking the pro-life movement for granted.”

“They should pass both bills, not one or the other," she said.

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission likewise shredded Republicans, saying that he was "disgusted by this act of moral cowardice."

"If the House Republicans cannot pass something as basic as restricting the abortion of five-month, pain-capable unborn children, what can they get done?" asked Moore.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins was less blistering in his criticism, but in a public statement also expressed disappointment.

"One of Family Research Council's top legislative priorities has been the passage of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act," he noted, praising the House for taking up the defunding bill. "Americans have been forced to violate their conscience and religious convictions long enough by being made to fund President Obama's massive abortion scheme."

“We applaud the leadership for remaining committed to advancing pro-life legislation," he said.

According to NPR, leading House pro-life advocate Chris Smith of New Jersey, a Republican, demurred when asked about the bill. "The pain-capable legislation is only delayed," Smith said. "It'll be up on the floor soon. We are working through a few bits of text."

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Both the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" and "The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" are considered unlikely to become law, in light of Democratic opposition in the Senate, where they will need 60 votes to move forward, and the likelihood of being vetoed by President Obama.


  no taxpayer funding for abortion act, pain-capable unborn child protection act, rape exception, renee ellmers

Opinion

I’m attracted to men…but I feel called to marry a woman

Now, whether it be in God’s plan that I actually marry or not, is another story. It’s His story—and I am good with that.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 11:26 am EST
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Andrew
By

I’m a Catholic male and same-sex attractions are a part of my story. However, it has recently been written onto my heart that I might be called to marriage—with a woman.

What?

Let me explain…

Not About Therapy

This has nothing to do with therapy with the objective to change from “gay” to “straight.” I’ve never done that, and I have found peace in knowing that the Church is not trying to get me to pursue that. This has, however, come to be after many years of continuously striving to say “Yes” to God, and “Yes” to growing in virtue (in particular, the virtue of chastity, which I struggled with for most of my life).

I came to desire a chaste heart because I desired holiness, and I desired holiness because I desired to unite my heart with the heart of Jesus Christ. This desire came about because I first experienced the love of Christ through someone like you; someone who simply loved me where I was at in my life, and who chose to walk with me along my journey.

Along that journey, I found myself becoming more and more attracted to women of virtue—ones who would understand the foundations of a holy spousal relationship, and who I could grow with towards greater virtue—possibly even within a marriage!

The Problem

Many think that because same-sex attractions are a part of my story, it’s not possible and that I’m deceiving myself. This disheartening response reflects a closed-mindedness to what God could write on our hearts.

Others simply try to label me as “bisexual,” but this reveals in them a closed-mindedness to my story; a closed-mindedness to understanding who I am and how I got to where I am today. See, this is not as much about sexuality as it is about God, and how He can transform our hearts.

How It All Began

In 2007, I came to desire a Holy Sexuality (thank you Christopher West!) and for the first time, I opened my heart to chastity. I began the long road of breaking a near life-long pornography addiction (thank you Matt Fradd!) and opened myself to the idea of preparing my heart for my future spouse—if that be in God’s plan for me (thank you Jason Evert!).

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By the grace of God, I found the strength (and support) to make some major changes in my life.

The net effect was this: I went from considering same-sex relationships (without hope of ever being married to a woman or ever being a father) to adoring the Blessed Sacrament and offering my life to God. The more I let go of my own will, the more God was able to work on my heart (this I can now see retrospectively).

Mysterious Ways

In early 2014, God boldly wrote on my heart to pursue friendship with a particular woman. With courage that I had never before seen from my inner being, that is what I did.

In our time together and apart, there were signal graces. It was fun and inspiring, but also life-altering in holy and profoundly virtuous ways. That is how I knew (and know) it was from God. I came to truly hope that she might be my future wife.

I grew very attracted to her and knew I was called to protect her honor in all ways possible, and to pray for her. Over time, we grew together in holiness, and revealed our hearts to each other bit-by-bit amongst laughter, smiles, and appropriate affection.

I loved her in the way God was calling me to love her at that time, and I began to fall in love with her as well (romantically, that is). She brought great joy into my heart, while drawing me closer to Christ.

Hope Restored


Though we didn’t end up together as a couple, this experience showed me that I didn’t have to give up the hope of one day being a husband and father. In fact, it helped restore my hope more than ever!

Her name… actually means “Hope.” How awesome is that! 

Now, whether it be in God’s plan that I actually marry or not, is another story.  It’s His story—and I am good with that.

But today… I. Have. Hope.  :)

Andrew is a Courage member and contributor to the Pursuit Of Truth Ministries website. He is a speaker and writer, most recently co-authoring the pamphlet resource Sexuality and the Catholic Church, which has been made available for free download. He can be reached at [email protected]. This article is reprinted with permission from ChastityProject.com.


  catholic, homosexuality

Opinion

Surviving Roe v. Wade: Living abortion victims speak out

On this anniversary take a moment to rejoice that former fetuses are speaking truth to power-—loudly and clearly.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 10:33 am EST
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By Eric Metaxas

Melissa Payne—pregnant with her second child—was traveling with her family when her water broke. Her baby girl was just under nineteen weeks old—far too young to survive outside the womb.

But God was preparing to work a miracle in the Payne family.

Doctors told Melissa that she would have to deliver the baby within the next three days—which certainly meant the little girl would die. Even if they continued the pregnancy, a specialist gave the baby only a five percent chance of survival. And, Melissa was told, even if the baby did survive, she would be so handicapped that she would be a tremendous burden on the family.

But Melissa and her husband, Kevin, refused to give up on their daughter. They found an obstetrician who was willing to help them complete the pregnancy, if such a thing were possible. But even this doctor didn't offer much hope.

As Melissa told LifeSiteNews, “Every day I was on bed rest I would feel her kicking and moving, and at the same time I would go to the doctor and they'd just frown and nod.”

Friends from church bathed Melissa and her baby in prayer for seven weeks. And then came an emergency Cesarean. Graceanne Payne arrived in the outside world at just 26 weeks gestation.  She weighed one pound, twelve ounces.

Graceanne was kept on oxygen ventilation for six weeks, and spent a total of ninety-seven days in the neonatal intensive care unit. And then, her parents joyfully took her home.

Now you may be wondering: What about all those dire predictions that Graceanne would be born with a big batch of handicaps and be a burden on her family?

Well, Graceanne, who is now over a year old, is perfectly normal. Her mother says she has met all of her age-adjusted developmental milestones.

I wanted to tell Graceanne’s story today—the 42nd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision—for an important reason. Neonatal specialists keep pushing back the age of survival for babies born sooner than they should be. Many babies now survive premature births.

Other babies survive, not premature births, but efforts to abort them. I was shocked to find out recently that some 44,000 people have survived attempts to kill them through abortion—enough to populate a small city. You can read their stories on their website—The Abortion Survivors Network. One survivor, Ana Rosa Rodriguez had her arm torn off by an abortionist in 1991; she’s now a healthy teenager (except for that missing arm).

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Another survivor, Gianna Jesson, now aged 37, suffers from abortion-induced cerebral palsy. When she prepared to testify before Congress in 1996, then-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder objected. And that’s hardly surprising. As one blogger put it, “When an aborted fetus limps up to the podium and reads her prepared comments, that’s good news for fetuses, but bad news for somebody who gets campaign support from the abortion establishment.”

Well put.

Former fetuses like Graceanne and Gianna are our witnesses. They are our truth tellers. They have names and faces, friends and hobbies. And today, they’re looking abortion supporters in the face and exposing their lies: That the unborn child is nothing but a blob of tissue, and has no value.

Friends, I encourage you to do something on this terrible anniversary: Pray, march, speak out, donate time and money to a pregnancy care center. And take a moment to rejoice: Those former fetuses are speaking truth to power-—loudly and clearly.

Reprinted with permission from BreakPoint.org.


  abortion, abortion victims, roe v. wade

Opinion

Reince Priebus: We march because ‘every life is a gift’

As long we continue to speak out and to stand on the side of life, we can advance a culture of life in America.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 10:14 am EST
Featured Image
Pro-life youth at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22, 2014. John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews.com
Reince Priebus
By Reince Priebus

Today, Americans from across the country will join together in the annual March for Life. I’m grateful for the chance to join them, and I’m proud to see two great pro-life Republicans, Senator Tim Scott and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers help lead the Congressional delegation to the march.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus

This year, the theme of the March is “Every life is a gift.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement.  We must do everything we can to protect life and defend the rights of those who can’t yet defend themselves. We should speak out on behalf of those who cannot speak. That is what the March for Life is about.

As a pro-life Chairman of a pro-life party, I share the marchers’ commitment to advocating for the rights of unborn children. Last year, the March coincided with the RNC’s Winter Meeting, which happened to be in Washington, DC. Recognizing the importance of the March and the RNC’s ability to make an important statement, we delayed our meeting so that RNC members and staff could participate in the March. Business could wait. This cause was far more important. 

Despite what some in the other party and many in the media suggest, the majority of Americans actually stand with Republicans on many important pro-life issues. A majority of Americans disapprove of late term abortions, yet Democrats support the procedure. Like many people, I consider that an extreme position. 

With all this in mind, I want to applaud the dedication of the March’s organizers and those who have traveled great distances to attend. It is and will continue to be a worthy cause. As long we continue to speak out and to stand on the side of life, we can advance a culture of life in America.

Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee.


  abortion, march for life, reince priebus

Opinion

How to debate the rape exception on the streets

When sitting next to people on airplanes, getting a haircut or getting a cavity filled at the dentist, we are asked about our job as pro-life activists, which inevitably leads to the question, 'Well, what about rape?'
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 9:55 am EST
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Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Justina Van Maren
By

Whether doing “Choice” Chain, the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), dropping anti-abortion postcards, or doing a presentation, there is one question that never fails to appear and reappear: “What about rape?” When sitting next to people on airplanes, getting a haircut or getting a cavity filled at the dentist, we are asked about our job as pro-life activists, which inevitably leads to the question, “Well, what about rape?” 

It’s always there. It’s the first and last question that you need to know how to answer, intelligently and compassionately. After all, in an airplane there’s no place to go, and the hairdresser and dentist both have the advantage with sharp instruments being perilously close to main arteries. 

Before responding, you need to have an idea of how much time you have. If you know that you have minimal time to respond, you need to find common ground quickly and then jump straight to a powerful question. For example, at a High School “Choice” Chain, 

One of my colleagues was asked by an angry student, “What about rape?”, just as the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch hour, and subsequently, the end of “Choice” Chain. She found common ground by saying, “Rape is horrible, and I think that rapists should get tracked down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she paused to let that sink in, and then continued quietly, “is it fair, though, in a country that will not give the guilty rapist the death penalty, to give the death penalty to the innocent child?” It’s a powerful question, and when you don’t have time to go more in depth, it’s food for thought. 

There’s another question, too, that you can use when your time is limited and you have abortion victim photography with you. At GAP last year, someone told me that he didn’t think abortion was okay unless the child was a result of rape. I turned and pointed to the large billboards behind me and asked, “Which one of these children was conceived in rape?” He studied the pictures and looked uncomfortable. “I can’t tell,” he admitted, “they all look the same.” That was the point, of course. They are all human beings of infinite value, regardless of how they were conceived.

Other days, you may have a bit longer, and that’s when you can trot out the toddler. I was talking to a two teenage girls one day at “Choice” Chain, and they agreed after seeing the images that abortion is an act of violence. However, they both brought up the circumstance of rape as their main exception. “Well,” I began, “rape is horrible. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I was raped, and I can’t even begin to think of how I’d feel if I got pregnant from it.”

They were nodding, emphasizing to me how important it is to form common ground. I needed to show that I cared, that I recognized that women who have been victimized suffer trauma that is inconceivable to myself.

Then I continued with an analogy. “Imagine this, though. A woman is raped a day after having sex with her husband. When she discovers that she is pregnant, she is uncertain of who the child’s father is. She decides to carry through with the pregnancy, and after the child is born has a paternity test done. The father is not her husband, it’s the rapist, and she is so overcome with horror that she can’t even look at the child, so she drives to a bridge and throws the baby into the water. Do you think what she did was okay?”

The girls looked horrified. “Of course not!” One of them burst out. “She’s not allowed to just kill her baby.”

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“I agree,” I replied. “But if she shouldn’t be allowed to kill her born child because of rape, then why should she be permitted to kill her pre-born child because of rape?”

Of course, this often leads to the answer, “Well, that’s different. A fetus isn’t a human being like a baby is,” and that means you’re right where you want to be: discussing the humanity of the pre-born child

Discussing the rape question isn’t easy. I know that I, for one, have more difficulty with this question than with any other, mainly because when I try to put myself in the shoes of a woman impregnated through rape, I can see how, blinded by inconceivable pain and terror, abortion would seem like the best way out. But that’s just it, it would seem like the best way out. In the end, compounding an injustice does not provide retribution. One victim has suffered immeasurably, and abortion won’t magically take away that trauma. Her right to choose was brutally torn from her, should we compound the injustice by allowing her living, growing child to be brutally torn from her womb?

It isn’t an easy answer, because it isn’t an easy situation. There are no words powerful enough to condemn the actions of the rapist. There are no words adequate to describe the pain that a woman who has been violated suffers. There are no words sufficient to convey the urgency of the situation of their precious pre-born children. But we have to try, for the alternative is unthinkable: rapists unpunished, women unaided, and countless innocent children in the trash.

Reprinted with permission from UnmaskingChoice.ca.


Opinion

Today we sent handcuffs to every abortion clinic in America

'Could you be next? If you want to get out of the abortion business, give me a call.'
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 9:41 am EST
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Pro-Life Action League staffer Urszula and volunteer Kathy prepare the 'handcuffs' care package. John Jansen / Pro-Life Action League
Eric Scheidler
By Eric Scheidler

Today—the forty-second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision—the Pro-Life Action League sent an special care package to every abortion clinic in the United States.

Inside: a picture of Naresh Patel, the Oklahoma abortionist arrested last month, along with a pair of plastic handcuffs and a signed note from me reading, “Could you be next? If you want to get out of the abortion business, give me a call.” I also included my cell phone number.

Care Packages Inspired by Patel Arrest

This project was inspired by the arrest of abortionist Naresh Patel last month at his abortion clinic for telling women that they were pregnant when whey weren’t so he could sell them abortion drugs. Patel has been charged with fraud and racketeering, and his Oklahoma clinic remains closed.

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Patel first came to public notice in 1992 when he was investigated for burning the bodies of 55 aborted babies in a field east of Shawnee. Despite public outrage, Patel was not charged with a crime because he hadn’t violated any laws. He has also been accused by several women of sexually assaulting them during abortion procedures.

It’s no surprise that someone willing to kill unborn babies for a living would turn to crime, and Patel is not alone. Abortionists have been charged with crimes ranging from tax fraud and dealing drugs to rape and even murder. Some of the most notorious offenders include:

  • James Pendergraft, who served seven months in federal prison in 2001-2002 for extortion and was ordered to pay a malpractice settlement of over $36 million when a baby survived a botched abortion and suffered severely disabilities.
  • Steven Brigham, who has lost his medical license in four states— and yet still owns abortion clinics in those same states!
  • Brian Finkel, who is currently serving 35 years for sexually abusing patients at his abortion clinic, which he dubbed the “Vagina Vault.”

See here for a more extensive list of abortionists’ misdeeds.

Three Goals for the “Handcuffs Project”

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The League’s “Handcuffs Project” is intended to serve three purposes:

1. To call the authorities to task for dragging their feet on bringing abortionists to justice. Too often, state and local authorities refuse to take action when abortionists are accused of wrongdoing. They should be the ones bringing handcuffs out to the abortion clinics!

2. To call on abortionists to think hard about the path they’ve chosen and how it has corrupted them. It’s got to be unsettling for any abortionist when a crook like Patel is arrested. Adding a pair of plastic handcuffs pushes the issue, and may lead to a change of heart.

3. To educate the public about the dark side of the abortion industry. The abortion industry has done a great job—and in the case of Planned Parenthood, spent astonishing amounts of money—to project a positive public image. But the truth is that the practice of abortion is extremely morally corrupting, and the public needs to know.

How Will Abortionists React? Stay Tuned!

What kind response can we expect from the abortionists we’ve sent our handcuffs care packages to? The packages should begin to arrive at abortion clinics across the country within the next couple of days. Stay tuned for updates on how they respond.

Special thanks to our friends at Operation Rescue, who helped this project by connecting us with the abortion clinics across the country, upon which they keep a close eye. To learn more about how you can bring abortionists’ crimes and other misdeeds to light, check out Abortion Free by Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger.

Reprinted with permission from Pro-Life Action League.


  abortion, abortionist, pro-life action league

The Pulse

Let’s force doctors to starve Alzheimer’s patients!

The real agenda is finally coming out into the open.
Thu Jan 22, 2015 - 9:49 am EST
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Shutterstock.com
Wesley J. Smith
By Wesley Smith

Immoral bioethical policies and practices advance toward implementation through discourse–first in professional journals, and then in elite popular media columns. 

That process is now gearing up regarding what I call “VSED-by-Proxy.”  

VSED stands for “voluntary stopping eating and drinking”–suicide by self-starvationpushed for the elderly and others by those compaaaaa–ssssss–ionate death zealots at the Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices.

But what about mentally incompetent residents of nursing homes who willingly eat, but who years previously stated in an advance medical directive that they wanted to be made dead by starvation under such circumstances?

We see increasing advocacy in bioethics that nursing homes be required to starve such patients to death–even if they are then happy, even if they willingly eat, and even, one supposes, if they ask for food. In other words, the idea is that the demented patient is incompetent to decide to eat if he had earlier directed that he be starved to death!

And now VSED-by-Proxy has been validated by respectful reportage in the New York Times. From, “Complexities of Choosing an End Game for Dementia,” by Paula Span:

Jerome Medalie keeps his advance directive hanging in a plastic sleeve in his front hall closet, as his retirement community recommends. That’s where the paramedics will look if someone calls 911. Like many such documents, it declares that if he is terminally ill, he declines cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a ventilator and a feeding tube.

But Mr. Medalie’s directive also specifies something more unusual: If he develops Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, he refuses “ordinary means of nutrition and hydration.”

A retired lawyer with a proclivity for precision, he has listed 10 triggering conditions, including “I cannot recognize my loved ones” and “I cannot articulate coherent thoughts and sentences.” If any three such disabilities persist for several weeks, he wants his health care proxy — his wife, Beth Lowd — to ensure that nobody tries to keep him alive by spoon­feeding or offering him liquids

This is an extremely dangerous culture of death aggression because it would erase the boundary between medical treatment that can be refused–and basic humane care, no different ethically from turning a patient to prevent bed sores or providing hygiene–which all patients are required to receive regardless of their condition.

Just as an advance directive instructing that a patient not be kept clean should be disregarded, so too should an order to starve the patient who willingly eats.

This too is important: VSED is suicide. Legally requiring nursing homes to commit VSED-by-proxy would be forcing them to kill—and to kill cruelly. A legal regimen that forced medical personnel to assist a patient’s suicide by starvation would drive many doctors and nurses out of medicine.

After all, most doctors and nurses want to be healers, not killers.  And how safe would we be in other areas of medicine if the professions were filled with people who would willingly starve patients to death when they happily eat.

But let’s not kid ourselves. VSED-by-proxy is a stalking horse for opening the door to lethally injecting Alzheimer’s patients, and probably doing so en masse. After all, why force anyone to undergo a slow and potentially agonizing death by VSED or VSED-by-proxy when he or she can be dispatched quickly?

Euthanasia pursuant to advance directive is already practiced in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is possible that this has been the stealth goal from the time advocacy for removing feeding tubes from incompetent patients began decades ago—and that now, with the open advocacy of VSED and VSED-by-proxy, the real agenda is finally coming out into the open.

Reprinted with permission from National Review.


  euthanasia