Patrick Craine

Parents beware: ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ features disturbing treatment of abortion

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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November 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Parents with children who are thinking of watching the latest Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Part I, should be aware that it features disturbing discussions about abortion that carry ambiguous, if not openly anti-life messages, according to a professor at a Canadian college.

In this fourth film, set for release on Friday, heroes Bella and Edward get married and then are shocked to discover on the honeymoon that Bella is pregnant.  The story appears to carry a strong pro-life message, as Bella quickly realizes that her life is at risk but chooses to keep the half-vampire, half-human child despite strong pressure from Edward and other characters for her to obtain an abortion.

“All Bella wants is for that baby to survive and she’s willing to kill herself for it,” comments actress Nikki Reed in a promo video.

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In a society that largely accepts abortion-on-demand, let alone abortion to save the mother’s life, the storyline comes across as strongly counter-cultural.  Indeed, the book sparked fan protests over a perceived “anti-abortion” theme when it was released in 2008.

But Dr. Christine Schintgen, assistant professor of literature at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, argues that the pro-life angle is “superficial” and is “counter-balanced” by stronger anti-life messages that are communicated by the power of imagery.

‘The fetus is incompatible with your body’

Poignantly, as Bella’s pregnancy gets dangerous, the character Carlisle declares: “The fetus is incompatible with your body.”

Schintgen says that this is a theme that runs through the entire conflict around the pregnancy, playing into arguments by abortion advocates that pit the child against the mother.

“It creates the image of a fetus as monster,” said Schintgen.  “In this case, it’s literally true.  The fetus is portrayed as this freakish, monstrous life form.”

She noted that director Bill Condon, who is known for directing one of the gory Candyman films, has described Breaking Dawn – Part I as a combination of romance and horror.  But according to Schintgen, “There’s a way in which the fetus acts as the source of the horror.”

“It reminds me a little bit of the scenes from Alien, where you’ve got this alien life-form inside you that’s destroying you.  That’s definitely not a pro-life image,” she explained.

“Of course no woman’s going to think, ‘oh I’ve got a vampire in me.’  They know the difference intellectually.  But I’m talking about the power of imagery,” she said.

A model of chastity who advocates abortion?

Schintgen emphasized that the example of Bella’s heroic act is counter-balanced by Edward’s intense efforts to coerce her into an abortion.  She said Edward’s actions are a particularly strong counter-witness given that he is repeatedly held up for his “traditional” values, and served as the primary model of purity for those contending the books carry a chastity message.

“It kind of gets young women used to the idea that normal and admirable people would push for an abortion,” she explained.  “Yes Bella stands up to them, and in the context, super-heroically at the cost of basically her own mortal existence.  But is that really what’s going to win over in their own lives if they’re in a crisis pregnancy?”

“It certainly gives the impression that abortion would have been a legitimate and normal option,” she added.

Valuing the baby devalues the woman?

She also argues that the storyline could lend credence to claims by abortion advocates that pregnancy is dangerous and carries a real risk of maternal death if abortion is not available.

Schintgen says the story’s horrid depiction of the child’s birth, during which Bella’s spine breaks and which she survives only by becoming a vampire, sends a “troubling” message to youth about childbirth by “twisting it into something unnatural.”

She said that “for young women who are in a position of being pregnant, this scene would create negative associations in their mind surrounding birth.”

Further, because Bella would have died had she not become a vampire, the story could make it seem that death would have been the normal result of her refusing the abortion.

“It kind of resonates with that sense of the annihilation of the woman,” said Schintgen,  “the idea that if we give value to the baby, we are necessarily at the same time devaluing the woman.”

Broken headboard and beat-up woman – the “perfect honeymoon”?

The professor also expressed serious concerns regarding the story’s portrayal of sexuality, especially the fact that it seems to glorify violent sex.

The couple’s wedding night has been, by far, the most anticipated aspect of the film.  According to director Bill Condon, “These are books that have become very important to millions of people and every one of those people fantasizes about what that perfect honeymoon looks like.”

But in the course of their consummation, which is depicted on-screen, Edward breaks the headboard and sends pillow feathers flying everywhere.  In the book, Bella wakes up the next morning black and blue.

Schintgen has in the past opposed claims that the series is “pro-chastity,” arguing that it actually celebrates lustful and purely recreational sex.  While Edward and Bella abstain before marriage, she said, they have an unhealthy “obsession with sex divorced from any desire for children.”

“They both assume going into the marriage that they are not able to have children, nor would they want any if they could,” she explained.  Their union is “divorced from any sense of the purpose of marriage, which should be unitive but also open to bringing new life into the world.”

An R-rated film edited down to PG-13: ‘We didn’t hold anything back’

A Miami Herald article Wednesday revealed that the first cut of Breaking Dawn – Part I earned an R rating, as anticipated by fans because of the mature themes, but the filmmakers explain that they were able to edit it down to PG-13 without “hold[ing] anything back.”

“More than anything, I wanted to make sure that the intensity of two specific things — the first time they make love during their honeymoon and the birth scene — wasn’t watered down,” Condon, who also directed the 2004 biopic on sexologist Alfred Kinsey, told the Herald.  “It turns out that allowing the audience to use their imaginations to fill in what’s happening makes the scene even more powerful.”

“Twilight has always had the potential to be a horror movie, but it hasn’t quite embraced it until we get to this story,” he added.  “I hope it doesn’t upset the girls too much. We’ll see.”

“People assume a great deal was edited out of the movie in order to get the PG-13,” said screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. “But we didn’t hold anything back. In fact, when it came to the birth scene, I was going to cut out the, um, sort of Caesarean, if you will. [Edward rips Bella’s stomach and womb open with his fangs to deliver the baby.] I was saying ‘We don’t really need to see that.’ But Bill was like ‘No no no. It’s gotta be in there.’”

The PG-13 rating states “Parents strongly cautioned,” and warns about “sexuality” and “partial nudity.”

“What they’ve done is to take very disturbing and dark thematic material, but in terms of the actual visual presentation and language, they’ve kept it just this side of the border between PG-13 and R,” explained Schintgen.

Morally muddled treatment of fundamental issues

Schintgen said she felt a need to raise concerns about Twilight because “people might be taken in by the partially good message in it, the half-truths that are presented by a superficial exposure to the film.”

“On the surface there is a pro-life message, but that’s often how we can be fooled,” she explained.  “If there’s an element of good, we kind of take the whole package.  And I think the whole package is very problematic to say the least.”

“If you confuse young people on these fundamental issues, which is what a morally muddled treatment of the issues will do, then you’re really setting them up for a fall,” she warned.

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Lisa Bourne

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

Lisa Bourne
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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