Jonathon van Maren

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Abortion has robbed us of so many who might have given so much to humanity

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Did you know that John F. Kennedy had more than four children? That writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens had two other siblings? That Marilyn Monroe actually had a large number of children?

I’m not particularly fond of the argument that I’ve heard many pro-lifers use: “Abortion is wrong because of all the amazing people we’ve aborted. One of them could have had the cure to cancer!” Abortion is fundamentally wrong because it ends the life of a developing human being, whether that human being would turn out to be a drug addict or the president of the United States. However, it is an interesting thought experiment—not least of all because so many people considered heroes by the Left have aborted their children or had their children aborted.

For example, I think of liberal icon President John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy Family is probably the closest thing America had to a royal family, although revelations over the last several decades have rather firmly repudiated the idea of an impossibly happy Camelot, as historians reveal anecdote after sordid anecdote of relentless philandering.

Anecdotes of President Kennedy’s devastation at the 1963 death of his two-day old son, Patrick, are well-documented. The Kennedys also lost a daughter in 1956—Arabella, as her parents intended to name her, was stillborn.

Revolutions famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different.

But there are also stories of JFK’s affairs ending in abortions. Though she herself didn't ultimately have an abortion, Mimi Alford, a White House intern that JFK had a relationship with for over a year, reported that when she told the president she believed she was pregnant, he “took the news in his stride.” Shortly afterward, she was contacted by a White House staffer named Dave Powers, often assigned to protect the president’s reputation.

“An hour later,” Alford recalls, “Dave called the dorm and told me to call a woman who could put me in touch with a doctor in New Jersey. The intermediary was a necessary precaution, because abortion was illegal. That was pure Dave Powers: he handled the problem immediately, and with brute practicality. There was no talk about what I wanted, or how I felt, or what the medical risks might be.”

In that case, Alford wrote in a memoir, the pregnancy turned out to be a "false alarm" and "neither Dave nor the President referred to the subject again."*

However, another of JFK’s famous mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, reported having an abortion in 1963 after becoming pregnant by the president, reportedly even providing the receipts from the procedure. Other, less substantiated accounts of abortions involving JFK and his mistresses have also circulated. 

Another icon of the Left that comes to mind when I think of the human cost of abortion is the late author and columnist Christopher Hitchens. Fans of the Hitch are fierce in their devotion, with his brother Peter, a well-known conservative author, noting that his brother’s fans often burn with fanatical hatred against him, furious that a conservative Christian (who wrote his brilliant book The Rage Against God partially in response to his brother’s philosophically feeble atheist tome God Is Not Great) could bear the same last name as their hero. Both brothers are extraordinary writers and journalists, having collectively written dozens of books and published essays and columns in the most prestigious publications.

What many people don’t realize is that there were originally four Hitchens siblings, not two. As Christopher relates in his Vanity Fair essay “Fetal Distraction”:

I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh.

Christopher noted further that at least two children of his own had their lives ended by abortion, recalling sombrely that, “at least once I found myself in a clinic while ‘products of conception’ were efficiently vacuumed away. I can distinctly remember thinking, on the last such occasion, that under no persuasion of any kind would I ever allow myself to be present at such a moment again.”

Perhaps this was because Christopher Hitchens allowed himself no illusion, writing that, “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that emotions are not the deciding factor. In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain, and, whatever the method, break some bones and rupture some organs.”

Although to my knowledge Peter Hitchens has never addressed the fact of his aborted siblings in print, on abortion he has much to say. “Those who wonder what they would have done had they lived at the time of some terrible injustice now know the answer,” he has said. “We do live in such a time. And we do nothing.”

When considering the lives and careers of the Hitchens brothers we know, we cannot help but wonder what the lives of the two that we do not would have been like.

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The list of politicians, writers, and cultural figures who have discarded their own children are myriad. Comedian Chelsea Handler has talked openly about having an abortion. Sharon Osbourne calls having an abortion at seventeen the mistake of her life. According to author Norman Mailer, the tragic Marilyn Monroe had twelve abortions by her late-twenties. Whoopi Goldberg of The View, Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy, Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz all aborted children. Ava Gardner reportedly aborted two of Frank Sinatra’s children, while the smut-peddling rapper ‘Lil Kim aborted the Notorious B.I.G’s child, which they conceived during an affair. Famed singer Sinead O’Connor had an abortion while on tour in Minneapolis.

It’s especially bizarre, I think, when those on the Left turn out to enthusiastically celebrate any new revelation of a cultural figure having an abortion. The more they admire the person, it seems the happier they are at the “courage” of said person having had an abortion. A bit unintentionally insulting, don’t you think? I admire you so much! I’m so glad you terminated a child that might have had your talent or been a lot like you!

Revolutions, however, famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different, even though we’ve replaced guillotines with Planned Parenthood clinics. The crowds cheered both, and the similarity between a howling mob and a pro-choice rally is striking to say the least. Perhaps it is Peter Hitchens who has the best explanation: “I think that abortion is much beloved by revolutionaries,” he noted gravely, “because they always like the mob to get their hands in blood and commit some sort of crime of their own.”

Abortion is evil because it violently destroys a human being. But one of the reasons abortion is tragic is that it has robbed us of so many who might have given so much to humanity.

*This article originally unintentionally appeared to imply that Alford actually had the abortion. It has been corrected to clarify that, as she herself explains, her pregnancy was a "false alarm."



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Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.

I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:

Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.

Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.

After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.

The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.

So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.

When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.



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Euthanasia activists: 'Depressed? Here, we can help you kill yourself.'

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Canadian euthanasia activists are mad…for the most insane reason possible

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

April 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Last week Thursday, I was driving to a speaking engagement I was doing on euthanasia—its roots, its dangers, and its resurgence across the West. I turned the radio on, and flipped the dial to the CBC. One of the hosts was speaking to a panel on the Liberal government’s proposed euthanasia law.

“My guests,” the host was saying, “are very disappointed in the proposed legislation.” I nodded to myself, and turned it louder. I was disappointed, too.

But then the host continued: “I’d like to welcome two representatives from Dying With Dignity Canada to the program.”

A society that permits, even pays for, suicide for those with mental illness, reduces them to the level of second-class citizens.

That, apparently, is what qualifies as “dissent” for the Canadian mainstream media. Canada becomes one of only a handful of countries to legalize a procedure that actively ends the lives of human beings and fundamentally transforms the purpose of medical practice, and the two guests invited to speak about it both want to complain that the legislation doesn’t go far enough.

It takes a lot to make me angry. But the two suicide advocates on the CBC did it. They were outraged—outraged!—that those under the age of 18 and those suffering from mental illness could not qualify for assisted suicide.

In fact, they actually had the nerve to claim that to deny people suffering from mental illnesses like depression access to easy suicide made these sufferers “less equal.” Less equal, because the medical system would recognize that they were in need of treatment, not a lethal injection.

"Political language,” George Orwell once wrote, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

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So many people are being sucked in by the smooth deceits being offered on mainstream radio programs and TV shows by the exit strategists advocating for a hasty and “dignified” death.

So let me explain something very important. Denying “assisted suicide” to those with mental illnesses like depression is the precise opposite of denying them a “right” (death cannot be a right, anyway). Instead, a society that permits, even pays for, suicide for those with mental illness, reduces them to the level of second-class citizens.

In such a society, I could walk into a hospital, and demand that a medical professional assist me in killing myself. The attending doctors would ask me a series of questions to determine if I qualified for this “treatment.” After discerning that I have no terminal illness, and do not suffer from depression, they could shrug and tell me that sorry, I do not qualify for a lethal injection. I’m too healthy. My life is worth too much.

But another person my age, suffering the black despairs of depression, could walk through those same doors, and request the same service. Once upon a time, our medical community would spring into action to ensure that this person could not harm himself. In the society desired by the suicide activists, however, this would no longer be the case. Instead, it would be discovered that the ravages of mental illness qualified this person for the final solution to their problem: death.

How can a system that can deny suicide to someone who simply wants to die, but offer it to someone who has mental illness and wants to die, claim that these two people are equal? When a society recognizes, in the most grotesque way, that mental illness in fact makes life not worth living and as a result will offer suicide, they are creating a second class of citizen, one in which many people are worth less. They, after all, are granted the “right to die.” Their condition qualifies them to be killed.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the church I was speaking at and I shut my radio off, one Bible verse, Proverbs 12:10,  popped into my head: “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

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Be encouraged: There is some surprisingly good news about porn

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April 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - I’ve written hundreds of pages on the porn crisis, and the number one complaint I get from readers is that my columns are too depressing. This is a fair accusation, since I cover a lot of depressing topics. But today, I’d like to share good news with you: There is light at the end of the tunnel.

For starters, The Washington Post just published a full exposé of the porn industry, titling their article, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis.” This is perhaps one of the most resoundingly anti-porn pieces published in a mainstream newspaper in years, replete with quotes like this:

The thing is, no matter what you think of pornography (whether it’s harmful or harmless fantasy), the science is there. After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse.…

Extensive scientific research reveals that exposure to and consumption of porn threaten the social, emotional and physical health of individuals, families and communities, and highlights the degree to which porn is a public health crisis rather than a private matter. But just as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, so, too, has the porn industry, with the help of a well-oiled public relations machine, denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products.

The Post is not the only mainstream publication finally acknowledging the scientific consensus on pornography. TIME Magazine, too, published a front page story called “Porn and the threat to virility,” detailing the widespread evidence that compulsive porn use can lean to erectile dysfunction. “Porn,” the cover of the magazine announces, “Why young men who grew up with Internet porn are becoming advocates for turning it off.”

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It is encouraging to see that increasingly, pornography is not being treated as a “free speech” issue or a “sexual freedom” issue, but a health crisis. It is a very positive sign that publications which generally cheer on any new manifestation of the Sexual Revolution are beginning to recognize pornography for the cultural cancer it is. I was shocked when Utah recently decided to declare compulsive porn use a “health crisis,” and much of the media coverage was not scornful. Some was even thoughtful.

From FOX13, for example:

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 9, which declares that pornography is creating a “public health crisis.” The resolution states that pornography is leading to hypersexualization of teens, addiction, prostitution and other problems.

“WHEREAS, because pornography treats women as objects and commodities for the viewer’s use, it teaches girls they are to be used and teaches boys to be users,” Weiler wrote. “Pornography normalizes violence and abuse of women and children; WHEREAS, pornography treats women and children as objects and often depicts rape and abuse as if they are harmless.”

“Whereas pornography use is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity,” the resolution states.

SCR9 asks the “Legislature and the Governor recognize the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation.”

It’s not just Utah, either. Canadian Member of Parliament Arnold Viersen recently put forward Motion M-47, which would ask the House of Commons standing committee “to examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women, and men.”

The Toronto Sun reported:

Statistics suggest the average age of first exposure to Internet porn is between 10 and 12 in Canada. This makes Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen worry about how it could affect his children. "They are growing up in a world that's completely different than the one I grew up in," he said…

Health professionals have been warning about the harmful effects of violent media on children and adolescents for decades. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of studies have "associated exposure to media violence with a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents, including aggressive and violent behaviour, bullying (and) desensitization."

And before you scoff and point out that Canada has a Liberal government that is sure to ignore such a motion, remember that when he was asked about violence against women, even Justin Trudeau pointed a finger at pornography, noting, “I think there’s probably an awful lot of factors that come together to shape societal behaviour — whether it’s certain types of music? There’s a lot of misogyny in, you know, certain types of music. There’s issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which is something I’m really wrapping my head around as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years. And there’s also just the shifting parental roles as well. There’s a lot of communities in which fathers are less present than they have been or they might be in the past, and there’s more need to have engaged positive role models.”

Great Britain has made moves against pornography, too, with some sources accusing Prime Minister David Cameron of a “war on porn.” From Fight the New Drug:

The UK government is proposing new legislation that will require all sites containing pornographic content to request age verification of visitors to their sites. Rather than porn sites putting an “18+ to enter” button that can be clicked just as easily by an 8-year old as a 28-year old, internet providers will access public information that will help to identify the age of the visitor. This is a huge step forward in protecting kids from the harmful effects of pornography.

The motivation behind this effort, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, is to keep children safe on the internet, preventing them from viewing material which is proven to be damaging to children. A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office states, “Viewing pornography at a young age can cause distress and can have a harmful effect on sexual development, beliefs, and relationships.”

A “war on porn”? Bring it on!

So to those readers who review the statistics on porn use and despair, take heart. There are some in our culture who are waking up to the reality of what pornography has done to our culture, and how many have been swept away by the avalanche of sleaze that the Internet has unleashed. There are now editors and journalists willing to cover this health crisis, and even politicians willing to call it that. We have a long way to go, but for today, at least, be encouraged.

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Justin Trudeau: So, so much worse than you thought he would be

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April 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Justin Trudeau has now been Canada’s prime minister for five months. Those Christians who told me that Trudeau’s term would come and go with no real damage to our country’s moral fabric—whatever’s left of it, anyway—were very, very wrong.

Things have started off rather ominously. For those who like to turn up their noses at warnings that a growing government always crowds into the space of Christians who want to raise their children in peace, consider this fact: The Liberal government has pledged to repeal Canada’s law allowing spanking.

Canada’s Criminal Code, Article 43, states, “Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” Now, for all those who were ever physically disciplined but feel as if they had loving parents rather than abusive ones, Canadian law could soon disagree.

Then there was the committee appointed by the Liberal government to offer recommendations on ushering in Canada’s new euthanasia regime. While this was ostensibly an “all-party” committee with an aura of neutrality, inside sources have made it quite clear that it was stacked with euthanasia advocates from day one. The recommendations made by this committee shocked even the most pessimistic opponents of legalized suicide, adding further credence to these rumours.

From LifeSiteNews:

The committee effectively ignored conscience rights by recommending that publicly funded healthcare institutions be mandated to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide, and that objecting doctors must “at minimum” provide their patients with an “effective referral.”

It also recommends that nurses and nurse practitioners, as well as doctors, be called upon to euthanize their patients, or assist them in committing suicide.

But the report also suggests that children, or “mature minors,” be eligible for euthanasia in the second of a recommended two-stage legislative rollout over two to three years…

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Recommendation 4 notes that “physical or psychological suffering that is enduring and intolerable to the person in the circumstances of his or her condition should be recognized as a criterion to access medical assistance in dying.”

In other words, we’re not talking about a carefully regulated, narrow, and guarded path towards so-called “doctor-assisted-suicide.” We’re talking about a four-lane highway with no speed limit. The committee recommends that doctors be forced into an accomplice role, that minors be permitted to opt for suicide, and that those suffering from depression or other mental illnesses qualify for death. I can only assume that this will be funded by a rerouting of money that was once allocated to suicide prevention services. After all, who needs them now?

I’m sure we’ll get used to odd new phrases in medical waiting rooms. “Come on in Billy, the doctor will kill you now.”

Canada’s already-radical abortion regime is being reinforced by Justin Trudeau, as well. Prince Edward Island Premier Wade McLauchlan announced last week that his government would be reversing PEI’s longstanding policy of not offering abortions on the island, and that this would be rectified by the end of the year. Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada rejoiced on Facebook, referencing a source that had informed her of Justin Trudeau’s direct involvement in this development. Trudeau also tweeted out his approval, announcing, “A woman’s right to choose is fundamental in Canada.”

And now, I’m sure, eager fathers can wait anxiously in the waiting rooms of PEI hospitals for the moment when a doctor leans into the room: “Congratulations, it’s dead!”

Finally, of course, there is the killing of the Office of Religious Freedom by the Liberal government, who did not see why such a thing would be necessary. The secular Left, as we have seen since the implementation of gay “marriage” in the United States, does not acknowledge that any such concept as “religious freedom” exists in the first place. An office dedicated to protecting this non-existent liberty, then, is in the Liberal mind rather like a conservation area set aside for unicorns.

Justin Trudeau has only been the prime minister for five months. If social conservatives thought things couldn’t get worse, they were wrong. They can, and in all likelihood, they will. But over the next four years, social conservatives should be rebuilding. We should be involving ourselves in nomination races. We should be paying close attention to the Conservative leadership race, where the Red Tory faction of the party will be determined to send so-cons back to the political Siberia Stephen Harper cleverly created for us. We should be reaching the culture with the truth wherever opportunity presents itself, and we should be creating opportunities daily.

For decades, the response of Christian communities to the Culture of Death and the erosion of religious liberty has been, for the most part, pitiful. The rise of Justin Trudeau’s Canada is going to demand much more of us. This time, we don’t have a choice. 

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a writer and pro-life speaker who has given presentations across North America on abortion and pro-life strategy.

Jonathon first got involved in the pro-life movement after viewing a graphic abortion video in 2007, which convicted him to get active. He ran Simon Fraser University Students for Life as president from 2009-2010, while speaking in both the United States and Canada on pro-life issues.

Jonathon graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. He is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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