Patrick Craine

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Pro-life film ‘Doonby’ hits ground running with top-tier endorsements

Patrick Craine

March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The mainstream pro-life movie ‘Doonby’ has hit the ground running in its initial release in Mississippi and Dallas – with plans to expand to the wider North American and international markets – and is winning some high-level endorsements.

After the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family praised the movie in a glowing review last month, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, hosted a screening last Saturday in Glasgow where he called the film a rallying call and pledged his full active support when it is released in Scotland and the UK.

“I say that if this film assists in helping people in our society to take more seriously their responsibility in weighing up their moral choices, then it will have served an important purpose,” he said at the event, which took place at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“There is more than ever a great need for films like ‘Doonby’ to continue to arouse the interest and concerns of our peoples,” he wrote in an e-mail to the producers.

The movie features Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider as Sam Doonby, a mysterious drifter whose appearance in a small Texas town changes the lives of its residents. Its surprising ending showcases the good that one life can accomplish and the devastating hole left when a life is lost.

Though the treatment of abortion could be described as a sub-plot, it undergirds and informs the broader theme, which is, in the words of writer and director Peter MacKenzie: “Every life is important.”

Mackenzie told LifeSiteNews that the film sold out two screens on its first night in Dallas on Feb. 24th.

“We were asked by the theatres to hold the film over for a second week in two cinemas and we performed very well in this test launch with small funding up against big Studio pictures in the multi-screen cinema complexes,” said Mackenzie. “We are now talking with investors to provide the funds to roll out the movie across the States and then internationally.”

Asked about the film’s inspiration, the Irish citizen said it goes all the way back to 1967 when the U.K. Parliament passed its Abortion Act, legalizing the deadly procedure up to 28 weeks.

“I became aware right away that this would very shortly become abortion-on-demand, which it was,” he said.

But he stressed that it was important to him to make a mainstream film to bring the message beyond a merely pro-life audience.

“Faith groups are a core audience, but it’s a mainstream movie. We really want to provoke debate, give people something to talk about and think about,” he said.

“The film isn’t judgmental in any way, it’s asking questions,” he said. “Obviously I have a view on the life issue, but I don’t want to preach or hit somebody over the head with it. But what I want to do is make people think and go ‘wait a minute, this is a very serious issue.’”

It would be “an absolute disaster,” he said, if the film came across as preachy.

If that happened, “the very people I want to talk to, these people are not going to go and watch it,” he explained. “It’s all very well preaching to the choir. You can get everybody behind it and it makes you feel good, but it’s not what I really want it to be.”

The director said that, if portrayed well, the Christian message can appeal to a broader audience, but he also insisted that a pro-life stand is not strictly Christian.

“For me it’s a basic moral issue, an ethical issue. It’s about mankind, ourselves as a breed or a species,” he explained. “You’re not going to go around killing your young. It’s not a good idea. I mean, particularly for convenience.”

“The other thing is when people decide when it is a life,” he added. “Is it 24 weeks, is it 28 weeks, 22 weeks? I mean, when is it? How dare we. … Based on what? It’s totally arbitrary.”

The film made headlines last year over a strange coincidence – what many might call providence – that led to “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade playing a key role as a character trying to convince a young woman not to have an abortion.

MacKenzie said someone had suggested the idea of casting Norma McCorvey, who has since become a strong pro-life activist, but he dismissed it because they did not know where to find her. But her name was brought up again while they were beginning to film in Smithville, Texas, and Mackenzie was shocked when local townspeople told him she lived just around the corner from the set.

McCorvey, who moved to Smithville in 2009 without any particular ties to the community, says the role made the reason for her move clear.

“I guess you could say the project chose me. God told me to move there two years before but didn’t really tell me why. So I obeyed. I had no family there, no friends. I just obeyed,” McCorvey told the Hollywood Reporter.

MacKenzie told the news service that McCorvey’s role was significant because she “encapsulated American thinking on the issue.”

The film has earned high praise from pro-life, pro-family, and religious leaders.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, calls it “engrossing.” Lord David Alton says it is “thought-provoking,” “clever,” and “brilliant.” And Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women For America, calls it “riveting.”

The film got an added boost late last month as it went into its first release when it earned the endorsement of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. MacKenzie had screened it at the Vatican in the summer of 2011.

Father Gianfranco Grieco, O.F.M. Conv., the Council’s office head, wrote Feb. 12th in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official paper, that the film is a “moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller.”

The priest says the “haunting finale … will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness as you tackle a puzzle that will challenge each and every perception or conviction, while you experience forlorn feelings of speechlessness and shock, but ultimately of liberation.”

MacKenzie said he was “humbled” by the glowing review.

The film has no sex scenes or other racy material and is recommended by the Dove Foundation, a popular site of family-focused reviews, for those aged 12 and over. One scene involves a woman lying naked in bed, but she is covered and portrayed tastefully and the scene’s message is actually a testament to moral virtue.

In addition to Schneider, Doonby’s co-stars include Jenn Gotzon, Joe Estevez, pro-life activist Jennifer O’Neill, Will Wallace and Robert Davi.

Mackenzie says once they have their investors in place they plan to release the film on 100 screens in cities like Houston, Austin, Phoenix, LA, Denver, Nashville, Washington, and New York, and then shortly afterwards expand to 500 screens.

Once the investors have recouped their costs, ten percent of all net profits will be donated to the pro-life cause.

Find more information on Doonby.



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Planned Parenthood closes rural Iowa abortion facility because of low business

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DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.

Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”

The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.

“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.

As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.

“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.

American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.

“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”

That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.

Be loving and compassionate, he said.

Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”

Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.

Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.



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Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers

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MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.

Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.

DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.

DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.

She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.

“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”

Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.

“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.

After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.

“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”

Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.

"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.

DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.

Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.

Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.

When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:

Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”

DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary. 



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This year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an honor on Vice President Joe Biden, the silence from the Catholic hierarchy is deafening. Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com
Phil Lawler

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The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage

Phil Lawler

Ask Notre Dame not to honor pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden. Sign the petition!

May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.

Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.

These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.

This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.

Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.

Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.

“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:

In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.

By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”

That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”

Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.

And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.



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