John Westen

Baby Joseph: The story behind the story

John Westen
John Westen

As we reported on Monday, it looks like Baby Joseph will finally be able to go home!

Earlier this week little Joseph finally received the tracheotomy that his parents have been requesting for so long. And now the U.S. hospital where he was recently flown, thanks to Priests for Life, says that after spending some time in a special pediatric hospital, Joseph will be able to go home with his parents!

I want to tell you the amazing story of how this all this came about, some of which you probably haven’t read anywhere else.

It’s incredible to think that just one month ago things looked hopeless. Baby Joseph was scheduled to die sometime soon after February 21st at 10 a.m. when his doctors at the Canadian hospital where he was being kept decided to remove his ventilator against his parents’ wishes.

“Monday at 10 am they will kill my baby,” Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, told LifeSiteNews in heartbreaking comments on the Friday before that fateful Monday.  “There’s no more humanity.  There’s no more chance.  I’ve tried everything for him.  No more appeals, nothing.”

But everything changed completely when an international firestorm erupted after LifeSiteNews (LSN) ran a wildly popular piece on February 17th, announcing the court ruling upholding the doctors’ decision. 

Immediately following that article, individuals and families all across Canada and then the United States leapt into hyper-drive, launching an all-out effort to avert Baby Joseph’s death.

The article, because we included in the headline Alex Schadenberg’s ‘death panels’ comment to us, also caught the attention of Fox News in the States, which immediately took up the story as an on-going top feature item, spreading it far and wide.

Most pro-life leaders first learned of Baby Joseph’s plight through LifeSiteNews.

A person who proved most instrumental from the very beginning was Alex Schadenberg of the Canadian and International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Alex quickly got in touch with the family and hired and paid for top lawyer Mark Handelman. It was thanks only to Handelman’s last-minute intervention that the hospital stepped back from their decision, and Joseph’s life was saved allowing further actions to be undertaken to complete the rescue. Schadenberg was finalizing a promising follow up plan when Priests for Life also came up with their response of flying Joseph to a US hospital that thankfully did the desperately needed tracheotomy.

Schadenberg himself explicitly credits with giving the story the legs it needed to draw massive international attention. Without LSN’s reporting, “the baby Joseph story would not have gone anywhere,” he said.

The anti-euthanasia leader says that our Feb. 17 article “launched the world-wide concern for baby Joseph.” After that, he says, “LifeSiteNews continued to publish daily articles that were accurate and they led the world-wide media in covering the baby Joseph story.”

Indeed, perhaps none of our recent stories illustrates better just what kind of impact LSN can have - literally saving lives - by simply by publishing the truth.

Will you help us continue to publish the truth by making a contribution to our Spring Campaign?
Click here to donate.

At no point did LSN directly intervene in the case; we’re a news service, not an activist organization. The people who did the real hands-on work were Joseph’s family and the awesome groups such as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Priests for Life, the Christian Defense Coalition and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

In the end it was Fr. Frank Pavone who arranged for the flight of Baby Joseph and his care at the U.S. hospital.

But most importantly it was you, the pro-life faithful who prayed, wrote, called, and clamoured about Baby Joseph- it was you that created the overwhelming pressure on the powers that be to get things done.

All we did was publish the facts that no one else was willing to publish. But it was those facts that made all the difference.

The family trusted LSN to help them, and we did what we knew to be the right and good thing to do.

Only at LSN did readers find the original interview with expert and pioneer neonatologist Dr. Paul Byrne, a champion for families fighting for appropriate care, who insisted that Joseph should have had the tracheotomy all along. Dr. Byrne pointed out that in 40 years of neonatology he has “never seen a time to turn off a ventilator.”

“If a baby has a disease process that’s so bad that they’re going to die, then they die on the ventilator anyway,” he said.

The last month has been a complete whirlwind, but at last Baby Joseph is safe in the care of a hospital that is willing to respect the wishes of his parents.

Even though Joseph’s long-term prognosis is poor, this is a major victory. Joseph’s family finally has the peace of knowing that he can die at home, in their arms and surrounded by their loving care.

Indeed, this case has put in place a crucial precedent, one that will give Canadian and U.S. hospitals alike a strong new reason for pause before they take key life and death decisions into their own hands, ignoring the wishes of family members.

At LSN it is our duty to spread the word as quickly as possible to motivate our readers to take a stand when life is threatened, particularly the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable. Experience has shown that difficult or desperate situations can undergo dramatic change, simply because the facts have been made public. truly is the information arm of the pro-life and pro-family movements. We know that leaders in these movements, because they so often tell us, absolutely rely on us for the information that we unearth and report every day.

If the Baby Joseph story has shown anything, it’s that promoting the culture of life is a team effort. And you, our supporters, are absolutely necessary members of that team.

We need your support in order to continue to be the leading source of international pro-life and pro-family news! Please make a donation to our spring campaign today!

Thank you, and God bless.

John-Henry Westen

P.S. We are extremely grateful for the work that Alex Schadenberg, Fr. Pavone, and other supportive organizations and individuals accomplished throughout this struggle for the rights of Baby Joseph and his parents, and for other families who find themselves in similar situations. And we also thank for you, our readers, who through your response and support have also played a major role in this success.

U.S. and International Donors

Click here to donate online.

Call our office at (888) 678-6008 x. 923 between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

To donate by mail, print out and fill in one of our Adobe Acrobat PDF format mail-in forms (Click here). Then mail it with your check, money order, or credit card information to the address below. Please note that you can set up an automatic recurring donation using your bank account or credit card by indicating your intention to do so on the check or mail-in form., Inc.
4 Family Life Lane
Front Royal, VA 22630

Canadian donors

Click here to donate online.

Call our office at (888) 678-6008 x. 923 between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

To donate by mail, print out and fill in one of our Adobe Acrobat PDF format mail-in forms (Click here). Then mail it with your check, money order, or credit card information to the address below. Please note that you can set up an automatic recurring donation using your bank account or credit card by indicating your intention to do so on the check or mail-in form.
104 Bond St.
Toronto, ON
M5B 1X9

*If the donation is towards a certain promotion or campaign, (i.e. Spring Campaign 2011) please indicate this on the mail-in form and check.


Share this article

Featured Image
giulio napolitano /
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry


Pope Francis attacks ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics, dismisses condom ban as unimportant

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- On the plane returning from his journey to Africa today Pope Francis made his clearest remarks in condemnation of ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics.

"Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions," Francis said, as reported by the National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee, and similarly by other journalists on the plane.  "We Catholics have some -- and not some, many -- who believe in the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil."

"They do evil," said the pope. "I say this because it is my church."

"We have to combat it," he said. "Religious fundamentalism is not religious, because it lacks God. It is idolatry, like the idolatry of money."

Turning to Islam, the pope spoke of his friendship with a Muslim, adding, “You cannot cancel out a religion because there are some groups, or many groups in a certain point of history, of fundamentalists.”

"Like everything, there are religious people with values and those without," he said. "But how many wars … have Christians made? The sacking of Rome was not done by Muslims, eh?"

STORY: Vatican’s liturgy chief contradicts Pope Francis on Communion for non-Catholics

On the same flight a journalist asked about the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS and if it was time for the Church to change its position.

The pope acknowledged that condoms are one method of prevention, saying that the Church was faced with a perplexity of whether to follow the fifth commandment (Thou shalt not kill) “or that sexual relations are open to life.” 

He dismissed this however as ‘not the problem’ and said it reminded him of the question asked Jesus, “Tell me, teacher, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Is it obligatory to heal?’

Catholic News Agency carries the fullest rendition of the pope’s quotes on the matter, relating his words thus:

“Let’s not talk about if one can use this type of patch or that for a small wound, the serious wound is social injustice, environmental injustice,” Pope Francis continued. “I don’t like to go down to reflections on such case studies when people die due to a lack of water, hunger, environment...when all are cured, when there aren’t these illnesses, tragedies, that man makes, whether for social injustice or to earn more money – I think of the trafficking of arms – when these problems are no longer there, I think we can ask the question ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”

 “Because, if the trafficking of arms continues, wars are the biggest cause of mortality...I would say not to think about whether it’s lawful or not to heal on the Sabbath, I would say to humanity: ‘make justice,’ and when all are cured, when there is no more injustice, we can talk about the Sabbath.”

While in Africa the pope used very strong language to promote the climate change agreement at the Paris climate summit that started today. He said it would be a “catastrophe” if it did not achieve acceptance in Paris in the coming days and added that the decision came down to the choice “either to improve or to destroy the environment.”

Speaking at the United Nations center in Nairobi on November 26, Pope Francis said, “In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues. It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.”

Share this article

Featured Image
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben


Ben Carson on Colorado shooting: pro-lifers need to ‘tone down’ ‘hateful rhetoric’

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - After a string of verbal gaffes and controversies over the depth of his pro-life convictions, Dr. Ben Carson has implied that the pro-life movement needs to "tone down" its "hateful rhetoric" and "become more mature."

The doctor was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about abortion supporters' claims that pro-life speech led to Robert Lewis Dear's shooting inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society," Dr. Carson said. "This has been a big problem."

"No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation," Carson affirmed.

Lamenting that social discourse had become less civil, he said modern political "rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful."

“I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion," Dr. Carson said.

Pro-life leaders were quick to rebut his charges that they engage in extreme or immature rhetoric. (See related story.)

After briefly leading rival Donald Trump in a series of national polls, Carson's presidential hopes have crumpled amidst a series of misstatements and retractions that have led national commentators to question whether the political novice is ready to be president of the United States. Last Sunday, talk show host Rush Limbaugh told Fox News that Ben Carson is "probably not" fully "equipped to be president."

The statement apparently condemning pro-life rhetoric comes after Carson, a famed neurosurgeon, told a Florida reporter that attempts to save the life of Terri Schiavo were "much ado about nothing."

Dr. Carson told LifeSiteNews exclusively that his remarks had been taken out of context by a Tampa Bay Times reporter. The reporter later posted the full transcript of his question, and Dr. Carson's answer to provide context.

Full transcript of the "Face the Nation" segment:

Dickerson: OK. I would like to ask you about a domestic political event or what some people see has a political element to it, and that's the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs.

Some abortion rights supporters have said that the rhetoric has led to that kind of violence. What's your view on that?

Carson: There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society.

This has been a big problem. Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity. And we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other. And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful.

When you have outside forces, global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us, why would we be doing that to ourselves? We, at some point, have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation, and we should be doing all we can to engage an intelligence, civil discussion about our differences.

That's how we solve problems. We don't ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.

Dickerson: Should abortion rights -- excuse me -- should those who oppose abortion rights tone down their rhetoric?

Carson: I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion.

Featured Image
Robert Lewis Dear
John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

Everything we know about the Planned Parenthood shooter

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John
By John Jalsevac
Robert Dear's shanty in North Carolina where he spent part of his time.

November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Planned Parenthood, and supporters of abortion rights, have pointed to Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility as evidence that the pro-life movement is responsible for encouraging violence through its "hateful rhetoric." Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains has declared that the shooter himself "was motivated by opposition to Planned Parenthood and access to abortion," although police have not officially released any information about his motives.

Meanwhile, the picture emerging of the man who allegedly opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility Friday is one of a deeply disturbed recluse who, though opposed to abortion, had little interest in and no known history of active involvement in the abortion debate, with a long spate of run-ins with the law and a pattern of bizarre behavior that left some of those who encountered him fearful for their safety, and many convinced that he wasn't in his right mind.

On Saturday morning Colorado Springs police identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina, as the suspect in the shooting that left three dead, and another nine injured. Dear allegedly began shooting outside the Planned Parenthood facility just before noon, Mountain Time, Friday, before retreating into the facility for a five hour stand-off with police.

Planned Parenthood has confirmed that none of its staff were injured in the shooting. Both of the civilians killed were reportedly accompanying friends to appointments.

The New York Daily News reports that an online dating profile that appears to have been posted by Dear in the early 2000s has Dear asking for "discreet" sadomasochistic sex, as well as pot-smoking companions. Other posts on by someone with a username associated with Dear, include what the Daily News describes as "paranoid Biblical rants." reports that Dear was arrested and charged in 2002 on "animal cruelty," eavesdropping and "peeping tom" charges. He was acquitted of the animal cruelty charges after a bench trial, while the latter charges were dismissed.

The animal cruelty charge was apparently related to an incident in which Dear allegedly shot a neighbor's dog in the leg with a pellet gun.

USA Today reports that a 2004 police report shows Dear threatened to "do bodily harm" to a neighbor.

He also has numerous previous convictions for various traffic violations. These include seat belt violations, driver’s license violations, operating a vehicle in an unsafe mechanical condition and driving a non-registered vehicle.

ABC reports that Dear spent some of his time living in a cabin in the woods in North Carolina, without running water or electricity. Neighbors say he was a quiet man who seemed "off." They said that when he did speak, he tended to ramble on a disconnected series of topics.

One neighbor, James Russell, said that two topics they never heard Dear speak about were religion and abortion. Russell also said that Dear tended to avoid eye contact. "Nothing with him was very cognitive," said Russell about Dear.

RELATED: Police officer killed at Planned Parenthood was pro-life, Christian pastor

James Howie, who lived close to one of Dear's remote properties in North Carolina, told USA Today that Dear once asked him to do some foundation work on his shack. After accompanying Dear to the job site, Howie declined the job. "I was just glad to get home," he said about the experience, adding that in his view Dear seemed crazy, although not dangerous.

Another neighbor told the Washington Post that Dear "was the kind of person you had to watch out for. He was a very weird individual. It's hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time."

Another neighbor told the Post, "He complained about everything. He said he worked with the government, and everybody was out to get him, and he knew the secrets of the USA. He said, 'Nobody touch me, because I've got enough information to put the whole U.S. of A in danger.' It was very crazy."

Another neighbor said that she and her family "kept out of his way." "He wouldn't really speak to anybody, he wouldn't wave," Mallory Nicoletti, 29, told the Citizen-Times.

John Hood, another neighbor, told NBCNews that Dear rarely spoke with him, but when he did, it was to offer bizarre advice. On one occasion, said Hood, Dear urged him to get a metal roof installed on his house, so the US government couldn't spy on him. Hood also said he erected a fence between their properties, because Dear had a habit of skinny dipping. 

RELATED: This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

Those living in the North Carolina community where Dear had his shack said they were frustrated by the fact that Dear would leave for days at a time, leaving behind two dogs with no food or water, who would start to get aggressive.

“We’re not isolationists,” one resident said. “You know how whenever someone goes crazy, the neighbors say he was so quiet and normal. That wasn’t the case here. He was weird. Everyone kept an eye on him.”

"He was really tightly wound," said another resident. "You could see that from the stress on his face, from the way he acted.”

Still another went even further, telling the Post, "He was just always saying, ‘I know the U.S. is trying to kill everybody’ and do this and do that. He [said he] was an undercover [agent]. Just craziness. Just pure, right-out craziness all the time.

“I’m kind of glad he’s put away now."

The Gateway Pundit also reports that, bizarrely, Dear was registered to vote as a woman, although it is unclear whether this is simply a clerical error or has any deeper significance. His party was listed as "unaffiliated."

One anonymous source, reportedly with the police, told the Washington Post that in a confusing rant following his arrest Dear did make mention of "baby body parts," suggesting some connection with the recent series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

However, the source added that this was but one topic among many mentioned by Dear in a speech that left investigators unclear as to his specific motivation.

Planned Parenthood has issued a statement saying that based upon eyewitnesses they believe Dear "was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion." 

Dear's ex-wife, Pamela Ross, told the New York Times he was a Bible-believing Christian, and that he opposed abortion, but that it "was never really a topic of conversation" in their house.

RELATED: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

Ross and Dear divorced in 2000. The picture that Ross paints of her ex-husband as a physically healthy man who lifted weights, took good care of himself, enjoyed listening to U2 and riding motorcycles, clashes markedly with the accounts of those who lived near him in the years since their parting. 

Ross said she was shocked at the man she saw on TV following his arrest this weekend.

“Something must have happened to him when he moved away, that’s all I know," she said. “Me and our whole family are extremely devastated and heartbroken by the victims of these families, and we have no words that can ever comfort them other than to say we’re sorry for what he did.”

However, Ross admits that she did call police on Dear in 1997, after a case of domestic violence. She didn't press charges at the time.

Dear reportedly brought several "items" with him into the Planned Parenthood facility, which police had said they were concerned could be explosives. Early Saturday morning police tweeted that those items have been "secured" and are "no longer a threat."

Subsequent reports have suggested those items were propane tanks that Dear may have been trying to shoot in order to cause an explosion.

After a five-hour standoff with police, during which Dear repeatedly exchanged gunfire with them, police were able to establish voice contact with the suspect by shouting. At that point they were able to convince him to surrender.

While some reports have indicated that the shooting actually began outside a nearby Chase Bank, and may have been related to a robbery, Springfield police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said at a press conference Friday evening that the shooting appears to have begun at the Planned Parenthood. 

While Dear's motive is still unknown, pro-life groups have issued statements condemning the violence, and urging caution in jumping to conclusions.

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion."

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook