Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent

From ‘adult’ bookstore to pregnancy resource center: Melbourne welcomes pro-life oasis

Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent
Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent
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March 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The city of Melbourne - usually the source of Australia’s most depressing anti-life news - was recently the happy scene of the crowded launch of a new centre to support pregnant women.

On Valentines Day, more than 80 people turned out for the opening of The Babe’s Project Pregnancy Support Centre, in a shop front that was previously, of all things, an adult bookshop.

Within days of the opening, a young teenager and her boyfriend entered seeking help - and just two weeks later, the centre ran out of its pregnancy support packs, turning to pro-life advocates for support to keep the critical pro-life facility running.

Helen Parker is the visionary woman behind the project. In between her hectic schedule, she took some time to speak to LifeSiteNews.com. 

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LifeSiteNews.com: Congratulations on the opening! How did you feel to see a long-held dream become a reality?

Helen Parker:
Thank you! It was overwhelming to see a community come together and say, “it is not okay for women to be unsupported, so let’s do this together.” I knew there was a need. I knew we had support, but to see it eventuate into something tangible is amazing.

LSN: Tell us the story of how you first got the inspiration to create The Babes Project.

HP: I found out I was pregnant when I was 20 and studying at university. With very little support, I was confused and didn’t know where to turn and subsequently the doctor booked me in for a termination.

This was not at all what I wanted to do and I was alarmed at how easy this had been made available.

I proceeded with my pregnancy and soon after Ariel was born I started volunteering in the maternity ward of the local hospital. It was here that I heard recurring themes of how simply abortion was promoted, together with much experience of grief and loss.

When the abortion legislation changed here in Victoria in 2008, I knew it was time to go further, doing something practical addressing the needs of women terminating pregnancies because the felt they had no other option.

It was time to actively promote parenting and adoption as positive alternatives to abortion and to do whatever it took to see that reflected in the choices made by women in our communities.

LSN: Have you been able to help many women in your Pregnancy Support Centre since it opened on Valentines Day? What kind of things do the women who come through your doors say?

HP: We have already had women and families engage with The Pregnancy Support Centre looking for a variety of support. Most are looking for a safe place to chat and to begin talking through their circumstances. Some are still in shock after a positive pregnancy test, some are able to articulate further their own thoughts about possible options, but what we see from all women is a need for hope and reassurance about how their life might look in the future.

They want to see women doing life well who may have faced similar circumstances. They want to see that they still have value and that they can make great choices not only for their child, but also for themselves long term.

LSN: How much support is there for pregnant women in Australia? Are there many other centres like yours?

HP: We have been surprised to find very little support for women which works toward positive outcomes long term.

There certainly are a handful of pregnancy centres throughout Australia, some working effectively at reaching their community whilst others just aren’t being fully utilized. 

Whilst we are aware of some centres which seem to be reaching a number of women, most are battling a nation where pregnancy centres outside abortion clinics or family planning aren’t common, and as a result they don’t seem to be accessed as we would hope.

LSN: What needs to change in Australia’s culture, government policy and law regarding adoption?

HP: Australia is a country with deep wounds from past adoption practices. 

At a government level we need to engage in discussion about what adoption can look like and be committed to lobbying for reasonable change.

Once we see adoption working well, it is our hope that it can be embraced by women who might have alternatively chosen abortion. 

There is an uphill battle ahead to bring change to Australian attitudes and legislation regarding abortion.

One thing we cannot underestimate is the value of connecting with local MPs and asking them to put positive adoption legislation on their agenda.

LSN: You produced a very moving video for the launch of the new centre. At the end of it you said that the pro-life movement in Australia needs to change. In what ways would you like to see it change?

HP: The Babes Project highly values the work and perseverance of the pro-life movement; we have met some wonderful people who have taught us much.

I do, however, think we could all go further in ensuring there are excellent services available for women and their families toward long-term positive outcomes. 

She must have access to high quality assistance as she proceeds with her pregnancy in a loving, compassionate and non-judgmental environment.

It is up to us to see this become a reality.

LSN: What are the best ways to provide practical help for women in our own personal lives?

HP: Be engaged. Listen to her, encourage her and show compassion. Be willing to hear what you don’t like and learn from her. I think we could all challenge ourselves to take down the “us and them” walls. 

The best way I learned about adoption was to spend time with a friend who once claimed “I hate adoption.” It was the best way for me to learn what needs to be addressed.

Then you do whatever it takes to ensure she has great support long term.

LSN: What kind of support have you received from people around the country as the word has spread about your project?

HP: We have received a wonderful outpouring of generosity and encouragement from many.

To open a centre and to make sure it is sustainable takes much time, finances, and a great team of people willing to get their hands dirty.

The most significant, however, has been from locals who are passionate about seeing positive alternatives to abortion promoted in their community.

We simply created a space for them to express their passion, which has seen many take part and build walls, install the kitchen, donate funds, lay carpet, and see this Centre transform into a safe, lovely space.

LSN: Finally, would it be okay to ask your daughter a question? Ariel, what do you think about your mum?

Ariel: My mum is cool, sweet, kind and funny. She can always make you laugh no matter how grumpy you are. She cares about others a lot, and is very understanding. I love what she is doing with The Babes Project and I hope our story will benefit lots of people.

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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.

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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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