Peter J. Smith

$600,000 awarded to pro-life heroes at ‘perfect’ Life Prizes ceremony

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

See also the LifeSiteNews photo journal of this event

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That was the message of the 2nd Life Prizes Awards ceremony, which presented six pro-life heroes awards totaling $600,000 dollars, in recognition of their efforts to establish a culture of life in the United States and all over the world.

The Gerard Health Foundation, an organization set up by pro-life philanthropist Ray Ruddy and his wife, invited more than 500 guests – many of them leaders and activists from all quarters of the pro-life movement – to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the heart of Washington, D.C. on Saturday, for the ceremony.

“The purpose of Life Prizes is to honor those in the pro-life movement who have worked tirelessly to advance pro-life causes,” said Gerald Health’s Vice President Claude Allen. “Through Life Prizes, we are placing funds in the hands of a few who have done much to advance and defend life, because they know best where those funds are needed to save lives.”

Allen announced that Life Prizes 2008 award winner Lila Rose had been offered an additional $125,000 matching grant for her investigative work exposing the practices of other abortionists.

“Lila has met that match,” he announced, which the audience met with loud applause.

Laura Ingraham, a nationally syndicated talk show radio host and FOX News contributor, was master of ceremonies for the event, her second time in that role.

“Tonight we are able to celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said Ingraham.

“These people we honor tonight heard the call of the most helpless of human beings: unborn children, and disabled patients abandoned by the medical profession, the legal profession, and sometimes unfortunately by their own families,” she continued. “Our honorees put aside their life plans to fight for people whom they never met. It’s the most important work in the world.”

Honoree Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America (SFLA), was first. She was recognized for her tireless efforts to make SFLA the largest student pro-life organization in the world, expanding the pro-life movement’s reach among U.S. students through nearly 600 chapters on college and university campuses.

“Talk about a revolution!” Ingraham said, noting that the 25-year-old pro-life leader and married mom of two would sometimes get up at 2 am. to visit college campuses all over the nation and then get back home at the same time the next day.

Marie Smith, Director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, was also honored for her efforts to unite lawmakers and religious leaders to advance pro-life laws and policies on the international stage.

Smith, however, deflected attention from herself, and instead said she wanted to thank her husband U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), whom she met in their college years when most of their “dates” were going to pro-life events, for his tireless support.

After the event, LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) met up with Rep. Smith, who said that while he tried to persuade Marie to change her speech, in reality she is very much the rock that has sustained his own life. “I couldn’t do anything I do without her.”

“She is the wisest woman I have ever met. She writes well, she thinks clearly, is very logical, and she provides the insights, the ideas,” he said. “Now what she is doing internationally is just extraordinary.”

Also honored was Jeanne Head of International Right to Life Federation. Ingraham noted that Head had actually trained to be an actress on the stage, but instead found herself on the world stage, speaking and lobbying on behalf of life at the United Nations General Assembly.

The next awardee was the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, an organization founded and administered by the Schindler family, whose daughter and sister Terri Schindler-Schiavo was starved to death by court order obtained by her philandering husband.

Ingraham told the audience that the family had been just ordinary people – Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother, was a schoolteacher – before they dedicated themselves to bringing good out of Terri’s “brutal death” by establishing the Network. Their organization seeks to help save the lives of other incapacitated persons in life-threatening situations.

“It’s thanks to our good Lord above that their work has already helped, get this, one thousand families,” said Ingraham to an applauding audience.

Ingraham noted that the next awardee, Doug Johnson, NRLC’s legislative director, once trained to become a journalist, and ended up the most effective lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He has spent the past 30 years securing some of the greatest legislative victories of the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade.

“I am deeply appreciative for this honor. I accept it with gratitude,” said Johnson, who thanked his family for their support and sacrifices, in particular his wife Caroline, without whom, he said, “I would not be able to do this work for thirty days let alone thirty years.”

Johnson also praised the pro-life grassroots, the countless, selfless citizen activists, who he said “deserve the ultimate credit for every successful effort that I’ve been involved in.”

Johnson said “pundits wrote the obituary for our movement” when President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, but after two years on the defensive, the pro-life movement struck back with the partial-birth abortion debate, “the positive effects of which continue to reverberate.”

“Each human person is created by God, and thus each has intrinsic worth and rights. No human life is devoid of value. No innocent life should be taken by another,” Johnson said, noting that the next two years fighting legislative battles in Washington would be “critical to the future of our cause and humanity.”

Other honorees included Reverend Alveda King, the niece of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. She is founder of King for America and has become the public face of the pro-life movement in the black community.

“The gift will enable me to plant seeds for life. This gift will further advance the message for life and civil rights for the smallest and weakest of our brothers and sisters,” said King. “My uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. was a champion for civil rights, and as you know, he had a vision. His niece also has a vision that abortion will be outlawed in her lifetime.”

The awards ceremony began with live musical performance by vocalist Caitlin Jane, and had an intermission by the Christian pop band BarlowGirl.

“It’s an honor to be with all of you tonight, celebrating something that us girls absolutely love, and that is the right to life,” said BarlowGirl lead singer, Alyssa Barlow.

The BarlowGirls also hosted a post-concert to which 300 students had been invited, in addition to those attending guests.

“Tonight was an opportunity to see people who truly deserved the recognition they got, receive it in abundance, be a part of that room, feel that love, and know that it was earned with hard won blood, sweat, and tears. It was a moment of absolute sheer delight for me,” Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, told LSN. Gans said that many of those honored had been personal colleagues in the pro-life movement.

“If anybody applauded louder than me, I’d like to challenge them, because I was on my feet every single time with joy and admiration. It was a perfect evening.”

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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