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EXCLUSIVE: Young mother with cancer sacrifices life for unborn child

John Jalsevac
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April 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) –  In August of last year Jessica Council – a beautiful, 30-year-old mother of one – noticed that she had a sore throat. At around the same time, she also began to suspect that she was pregnant.

When after two weeks the sore throat had not gone away, Jessica decided to have it checked out. Her doctor told her that it was probably a thyroid goiter, and ultimately nothing to be too concerned about. Just to be sure, however, he had a test done, which he said confirmed his initial suspicions. Everything would be ok, he said.

But everything was not ok. The doctor had misread the test. 

Around November 15th, Jessica began having trouble breathing. On November 21st she landed in the emergency room. Then, on November 22nd, her throat closed up so tightly that she could not breathe, at which point doctors managed to insert a tube down her throat, and put her on a ventilator. 

The following day, November 23rd, Jessica was informed that she had cancer. By then, she also knew for certain that she was with child.

Thus began a journey that would put the faith and pro-life convictions of Jessica and her husband, Clint, to the ultimate test.

“It was worth every day”

Jessica and Clint met at Greenville College School. In a lengthy interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Clint said that he had spotted the gorgeous redhead sitting one day in the university dining hall, and asked if he could join her. She refused. But Clint didn’t give up. 

(Read the complete interview with Clint here)

In fact, it took Clint a year and a half of pestering before Jessica agreed to go on a date; the couple married two and a half years after that. “I guess when you know you know,” he said. “I had to work really hard for her, but it was worth every day.”

The pair moved to Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina, where they had a son and worked at a Christian charity as youth mentors. Life was good: they were young, in love, healthy, and enjoying life. 

Clint points out that his wife always took meticulous care of herself. “She’s always been extremely, extremely healthy,” he said. “Watched what she ate very carefully. Tried to honor God with her body. Exercised regularly.” 

For this reason, the last thing either of them expected was the cancer that struck last August.

No more options

Clint describes his wife’s reaction to the news of the cancer in her throat as “a mixture of fear and surprise.” As for himself, he says he felt “just every emotion you can think of … except for joy. I was a basket case.”

But, of course, Jessica wasn’t the only one threatened by the cancer: she was pregnant, and any treatments she underwent would almost certainly harm, and possibly even kill her unborn child.

On November 25th, the hospital’s OB/GYN offered the couple an abortion. Clint says Jessica never hesitated. “That was never an option,” he said. “That is black and white.”

But what was less black and white was whether or not to accept treatments: while the oncologist said chemotherapy would likely kill the baby, the OB/GYN disagreed, saying the baby would probably survive, but suffer brain damage.

“Jessica looked at me, and it took her a few seconds,” says Clint, “and she shook her head ‘no.’” She also refused radiation therapy because of its similar risks.

“We really didn’t have a lot of treatment options after that,” said Clint, pointing out that surgery was never an option because of where the cancer was.

“She did not wake up”

The treatment question came up again when the baby reached the third trimester. At that point, says Clint, the decision was much more difficult, with the doctors claiming that the risks were minimal because the baby was almost fully developed.

However, Jessica still refused the treatments for the sake of her unborn child – a decision that Clint says left her doctors “very confused.” 

Clint confides that neither he nor his wife felt doctors were being completely straightforward about the risks. But he also says that his wife had another reason for refusing the treatments.

“She knew she was going to die anyway,” he says. “She didn’t share that with me until almost when she died. ... But I think she knew, and she was thinking she was going to give this baby every chance she could.”

Although the couple found some success with alternative methods to stem the cancer’s growth, including a strict diet of organic vegetable juices and supplements, without more aggressive treatments it was only a matter of time before the cancer got the upper hand.

A 23-week miracle

On the night of February 5, Jessica went to sleep with a headache and nausea. “She did not wake up,” says Clint.

The following day Jessica was near death, and Clint gave the doctors the go-ahead to deliver by C-section. On February 6, little “Jessi” was born, weighing only 1 lb 3 oz. 

Doctors had thought that Jessica was 25 weeks pregnant, but after they delivered the baby they realized that she was likely only about 23 and a half weeks along – the absolute threshold of viability. 

“I can only testify to God’s grace on that, because Jessica died right when the baby was viable for life outside the womb,” says Clint. Doctors say baby Jessi is doing well.

“Emotionally brutal”

Clint describes the whole experience as “emotionally brutal,” and admits that despite his firm Christian and pro-life convictions, it was the farthest thing from easy to take the path that he and his wife did.

“Yes, I did struggle,” he says, “because in the Bible the one person that we’re commanded to love more than myself, this was her. I did struggle.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to be selfless as far as whatever happens to you,” he points out, “but when it comes down to losing the one you love more than anything else, it’s very difficult.”

It was also difficult for their two-and-a-half-year-old son. Clint recounts that after Jessica went into the hospital, his son was unable to see her for about a month, and during that time he wouldn’t even look at or speak to his father. But after he got to visit his mother, “he started doing better,” says Clint.

After Jessica’s death the boy suffered a period of acute “separation anxiety,” although his father says he has begun to adjust.

As for Clint himself, barely two months after his wife’s death, he says that he is operating on autopilot, staying busy with work and caring for his two children.

At this point he pauses.  “I’m going to be very open,” he says, remarking that he wants to do whatever he can to help others who might be in a similar situation. “For about the first month, I could not - and I mean that as in a literal inability - I could not read my Bible, I could not pray.”

He describes the feeling as akin to that of a child being disciplined by a parent: “Even though I knew cognitively that the relationship was there, I knew [God] loved me, I accepted all these things from a mental standpoint. I felt nothing, spiritually.

“And it’s not about the feelings, but the delight in God was completely gone for about a month. I was functioning solely on what I knew to be true from a mental standpoint.”

Now, however, he says he has moved beyond that first stage, and has begun to pray again, including for other people.

Nevertheless, he says there will probably come a time when he will have to drop everything, and properly mourn the loss of his wife.

“God be praised”

Even though the weariness and the suffering is palpable in Clint’s voice, in speaking to him one detects something else as well – a deep resignation born not of despair, but of an authentic, rooted faith that accepts that this suffering was ultimately meaningful, and that there are worse tragedies even than death. 

In a note penned less than two weeks after Jessica’s death, and posted to a blog about her struggle with cancer, Clint wrote the last words many would expect to hear from a man who has just lost a young wife whom he dearly loved. 

“God is to be praised, my Friends,” he said. “Do not doubt God; do not be angry with Him for me. 

“I am privileged to have had a Wife who was so full of the love of the Father. Rejoice with me, Brothers and Sisters. God has blessed Jessica in taking her to place of perfect peace and no pain. I must be thankful for the time that I had with her rather than ungrateful for all the things we never got to do together. We must give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ.

“Grace and Peace to all.”

(Read the complete interview with Clint here)

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Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

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Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.” 

“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”

“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.

More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.  Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms. 

Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.” 

“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target.  This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott. 

“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena.  “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”

On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room.  Police are searching for the man. 

There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.  



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Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against a katz / Shutterstock.com
Albert Mohler

Opinion,

Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

Albert Mohler

May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? 

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.

By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.

The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.

But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.

As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.

This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.

To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.

Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.

Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.



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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.

Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.

The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”

Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.

“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”

Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.

“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”

“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”

Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.

“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”

Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”



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