Meaghen Hale

Record-breaking 50,000 attend Walk for Life West Coast

Meaghen Hale
By Meaghen Hale

Updated: 01/24/2011, at 12:45 pm.

January 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tens of thousands of pro-life activists filled Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s downtown this weekend, and then walked 2.5 miles along the waterfront in a record-breaking turnout for the 7th Annual Walk for Life West Coast.

The day began at 11 am., as Walk for Life West Coast founder Eva Muntean welcomed the crowd as it gathered in the plaza: “When I look out at you, all I see is hope.”

Hope was the prevailing theme of the Walk: hope for change. “We are here to break the chains of the culture of death,” said Dolores Meehan, also a founder of the walk.

Organizers estimated that at least 40,000 people participated in the event, which was held on the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. One local TV station, KTVU, reported the crowd at an estimated 50,000, and said that police confirmed to them that it was the largest Walk for Life yet.

Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who walked away from her job at a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic on October 6, 2009, told the crowd, “For eight years January 22 was a special day for me, because it was a day that I honored choice.”

But, she added, “Today on January 22nd, I do not honor choice any more, I mourn choice.”

In a spirited address, Johnson, who had quit her job after assisting in an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old unborn child,  said that change relies on the willingness of young people to fight for life. “You are the movement. You are the new generation of the pro-life movement and I can tell you Planned Parenthood is shaking in their boots.”

“Get out there and do something about it!”

Johnson urged people to “get uncomfortable for life.”

“For so many years we have been comfortable,” she said. “It is time to go where we have never gone, to reach out to people we would never reach out to. Almost 4,000 babies die every day just in this country. Are we going to sit at home or are we going to do something about it? Today is not the end of our activism. Today is not the end of our advocacy. Today is the beginning.”

There was also a message of hope for forgiveness. Mary Poirier of Holy Family Apostolate told the crowd she felt called to speak about God’s mercy. “How could God forgive my three abortions?” she asked. “Abortion is wrong. Abortion hurts women. But if you have been through it, it is never too late to ask for forgiveness. God is so powerful; nothing is too big for God to forgive.”

The enigmatic Rev. Denise Walker of Everlasting Light Ministries echoed this statement. “God can forgive you because he forgave me!”

Denise and her husband Brian had chosen to abort their child four months before their wedding. Denise later founded Everlasting Light Ministries with her husband, to bring hope and healing to those who have lost children through abortion.

Rev. Brian Walker emphasized that “it is as much about this child as it is about us: everybody suffers from abortion.” Rev. Brian spoke particularly to the men in the crowd, saying “respect for life starts with you.” He called men to be courageous, to honor women, to live in the footsteps of Christ. “At four weeks the heart is beating,” he said. “Why can’t it beat in a grown man?”

The story of speaker Kathleen Eaton proved not only that forgiveness is possible, but that great things can come of an apparent evil. After an abortion in 1980, Kathleen asked God for forgiveness and told Him that the only way she could forgive herself was if she could save at least one woman and child from the same fate.

“If you say ‘God, use me,’” laughed Kathleen, “he will!” In 1981, she started a small pregnancy resource center which then expanded to half a dozen Birth Choice Health Clinics. According to an abortionist in her community, the spread of Birth Choice clinics across America would cause a “seventy-five percent decrease in abortion without overturning one law.”

As the Ferry Building clock tower struck noon, the walk began to make its way along the Embarcadero past such famous landmarks as Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square to Marina Green Park.

Blessed with sunshine and highs of 70°F, the spirits of the walkers were soaring. Several groups sang and chanted, and a large group of young people played drums, guitars, and tambourines, singing and dancing throughout.

“The people walking are reflections of the healing power of God for life and the protection of life,” said Bishop Blair of Stockton. “We are bearing witness to the Gospel of Life.”

Auxiliary Bishop of San Bernardino Rutilio del Riego said, “It is a gift and a blessing to witness to the sanctity of life. It is an opportunity for many people to hear the message in a positive way, to show that the pro-life movement is one of peace and non-violence.”

A small group of pro-abortion protesters, who gathered along the sidewalks in garish costumes, disrupted the walk with raucous shouts of “You don’t care about women!” and other slogans.

In his opening blessing, Bishop Walsh of Santa Rosa said God “did not spare his own Son and his Mother from a vulnerable beginning. We must care for the unborn, care for all mothers, protect all life, and change the hearts of our fellow citizens.”

For the first time in the history of the Walk for Life, the walkers were accompanied off shore by a sailing ship manned by thirty-three men, which followed the walk as it wound around the bay.

After passing Ghirardelli Square, the endless river of people could be seen streaming along the coast towards the Maritime National Historical Park. The almost 3 mile Walk ended just past the park at Marina Greens, where testimonies were shared at a Silent No More gathering, and numerous vendors provided resources at an Info Fair.

For sale by Ignatius Press was “Unplanned,” Abby Johnson’s best-selling book detailing her experience with Planned Parenthood and her conversion of heart. Abby signed books for a seemingly endless line of admirers, her husband Doug at her side. When asked how she had been most blessed since leaving Planned Parenthood, Abby laughed that it was coming into the Catholic Church. But both she and Doug agreed that in addition to faith, the best blessing was new-found “family time.”

“Without God’s will and without faith, we wouldn’t have the family structure, and the time we spent together wouldn’t have meaning.”

The walk was followed by a Walk for Life Youth Rally that brought together the teenagers and young adults who attended the walk for praise and worship, networking, and advice for further involvement in the pro-life movement.

The 2011 Walk for Life West Coast was attended by a variety of pro-life groups spanning all cultures and faiths, including Silent No More, Priests for Life, Students for Life of America, Lutherans for Life and Anglicans for Life. Next year, the Walk hopes to rally in the AT&T Park, as the numbers of participants have quickly outgrown the plazas downtown.


Meaghen Hale attended the Walk for Life as a member of the Media Team, tweeting her experience as a participant from @bayareacatholic. A video and photo record of the Walk can be found at the Walk for Life Media Blog here. To order Unplanned and for more pro-life resources, go to the book’s website.

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Kermit Gosnell considers himself a ‘martyr’: Gosnell filmmakers

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By Ben Johnson

HUNGTINGDON, PA, May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Spending life in prison without parole for murdering several newborn babies, Kermit Gosnell spends his days listening to music and thinking of himself as a “martyr,” according to the makers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell film.

Producers Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segeida interviewed Gosnell for hours at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – and they came away saying the doctor is remorseless, self-pitying, and enjoying far more liberty than they thought would be granted to a mass murderer.

The producers visited the central Pennsylvania penitentiary and spoke to the the late-term abortionist up-close – a little too close, they say. McElhinney said Gosnell sat uncomfortably close to her throughout the multihour session.

“We have just come back from Pennsylvania where we were the first journalists to sit down in prison to interview Gosnell,” the producers said in a mass email to their supporters. “The two hours we spent interviewing the former abortion doctor were two of the most disturbing hours of our journalistic careers.”

“The interview was one of the creepiest we have ever conducted,” the mass email continued.

Gosnell, they recounted, “is thought to have murdered hundreds if not thousands of babies in a 30 year killing spree.” Yet he has access to music, a subject he discussed at length. At one point, McElhinney said, Gosnell burst out into song.

Ann McElhinney told The Daily Signal, “I’m amazed at how pleasant his life is, the freedoms he has.”

Far from having repented of his crimes, Gosnell continues to justify his actions, they said.

“In his own version of the story, he’s a martyr – he’s part of a hounded class,” McElhinney said.

That assessment corroborates the views of others who interviewed the onetime proprietor of the “house of horrors,” where newborn babies had their spines severed, untrained staff administered fatal doses of drugs to poor women, and aborted fetal remains were found stuffed into every available crevice.

In September 2013, Steve Volk interviewed Gosnell for Philadelphia Magazine. Gosnell, he wrote, “sees himself as having performed a noble function in society.”

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did,” Volk said. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.”

By plying his trade in poverty-stricken West Philadelphia, in a majority minority neighborhood, Gosnell believed he helped reduce the city's low income population.

“In this larger spiritual sense, he believes he was performing a service for people,” Volk said.

After his conviction, Gosnell sought to work with Hillary Clinton's embattled charity, the Clinton Global Initiative or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues of "prison and justice reform.”

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.

Gosnell's self-confidence has seldom been questioned, from the dismissive way he treated police who searched his home – playing Chopin on the piano as they searched his flea-ridden basement – to the way he carried himself in court. Defense attorney Jack McMahon had also told reporters after the guilty verdict that the mass murderer “truly believes in himself.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The filmmakers, who have produced several right-of-center documentaries, plan to make a big budget, big screen film about Gosnell's life. They continue to raise funds for their efforts at GosnellMovie.com.

But they may need a breather after encountering Gosnell himself.

“I’m still recovering, actually,” McElhinney told the Signal.

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Josh Duggar apologizes, admits ‘wrongdoing’ as young teen amid molestation accusations; resigns from FRC

By John-Henry Westen

Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

Update (May 22 9:54 a.m.): The Family Research Council's statement has been added below.

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to allegations in the media that he molested minor girls when he was in his early teens, Josh Duggar has admitted in a public statement that he acted "inexcusably" at the time, and has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

A 2006 police report leaked to the media states that Josh was investigated for sex offenses, including "forcible fondling" against five minors.

According to the report, the first allegations surfaced in March 2002, the same month he turned 14. At the time the family dealt with the allegations internally. A year later, however, when further allegations were made, the family sent Josh to work with a family friend for three months, after which his father took Josh to see a state trooper.

According to the report, the trooper gave Josh a "stern talk" about what would happen if he "continued such behavior," but no formal action was taken at the time.

The issue emerged again in 2006, after a family friend had written details about the allegations in letter and placed it in a book, which was subsequently loaned out. This resulted in a call being placed to a child abuse hotline, which in turn led to a formal investigation being opened. By this point, however, the statute of limitations had expired, and as there had been no new allegations or evidence that the abuse was ongoing, the case was dropped.

Although Josh was never charged, his now-wife, Anna, says that he confessed his actions to her and her parents two years before he asked her to marry him.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," he said in a statement today. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."

Anna said she was "surprised" when Josh had voluntarily admitted what he had done to her and her parents two years before proposing to her. "I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she wrote today. "For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes."

"I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis," she added. "If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right."

LifeSiteNews is continuing to investigate this developing story. Following are the Duggar family’s statements responding to media reports about the incidents.

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday.

It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. 

We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him.

When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes.

At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.

I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

Family Research Council statement:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement regarding the resignation of Josh Duggar:

"Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years.

"Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work.  We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time.  We will be praying for everyone involved," concluded Perkins.

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Albert Heringa's sense of duty ‘justly’ carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, the Dutch appeals court said. VARA video screenshot
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Dutch court acquits man who euthanized his mother after doctor refused

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Dutch appeals court acquitted a 74-year-old man earlier this month of the murder of his mother in 2008, because he acted in an “emergency situation”: the woman wanted euthanasia and had not obtained it from her family doctor.

The decision is a surprising one, even in the Netherlands, and will probably be followed by an appeal from the public prosecutor, who has already published a communiqué reminding the public that euthanasia and assisted suicide “are and remain, in the eyes of the prosecutor, exclusively to be performed by a doctor.”

As it stands, the decision marks a new step down the slippery slope of euthanasia. The decision justifies an act of euthanasia contrary to the letter of the law on the grounds that the accused, Albert Heringa, was careful to act in compliance with the law’s provisions.

Albert Heringa acted in accordance with his conscience of his own duty and he was right to do so, ruled the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court, because his sense of duty “justly” carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, which in theory can only be decriminalized when performed by a medical doctor under strict conditions.

The accused said he was “very happy” about the decision. The Netherlands Right to Die Society (NVVE) hailed it as “a step in the direction we want to follow.” “Many people who consider their life complete wish to be helped by loved ones,” said its spokeswoman, Fiona Zonneveld.

The judges did not take into account the fact that Albert Heringa’s mother, “Moek,” was deemed ineligible for euthanasia by her doctor.

In 2008, Moek was 99. She had no grave illness; she was just old and blind and did not feel like living any longer, calling her suffering “unbearable” and “without hope of improvement.” When her doctor refused euthanasia on those grounds, she turned to her son who decided to help his mother die.

He was later to explain that his mother started hoarding her medication in order to kill herself through an overdose. The pills she was taking would not have been able to bring about her death, he argued, but would have made her health much worse. This was confirmed during the subsequent judicial enquiry.

Heringa decided to go to work “transparently,” filming his every gesture in view of the killing of his mother. He used an overdose of his own malaria pills together with sleeping pills and anti-emetics to poison her. The films were later used to illustrate a documentary on “Moek’s last wish,” which was aired in 2010 on Dutch TV. The appeals court judges took this “transparency” into account in their decision to acquit him.

The public prosecution was not so lax. Despite the “rectitude” of Heringa’s intention, it accused the man of not having acted in compliance with the law. In 2013, he was judged guilty but exempted from punishment. The prosecution appealed that decision, demanding a three months suspended prison sentence in order to underscore the illegality of his actions. But the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court went even further than the first judges in exonerating him completely.

They invoked the euthanasia law, which decriminalizes euthanasia when no other “reasonable solution” is available to alleviate a patient’s suffering and thus avoid euthanasia, but in this case they equated the potential “reasonable solution” with the ability to find a doctor who would be willing to perform the act, as if euthanasia were a patient right. Heringa could not find one, therefore he was justified in taking the law in his own hands, the judgment says in substance.

This marks a double revolution. Firstly, the court overlooked the legal requirement that a doctor should perform euthanasia, and no one else. Secondly, it justified euthanasia on a woman who was simply “tired of living,” a situation for which the euthanasia law definitely does not provide.

But this is just another element of the Pandora’s box that was opened when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002. Increasingly, regional control commissions, which verify all declared acts of euthanasia retrospectively, have cleared “mercy-killings” of elderly people who had multiple complaints but no single life-threatening disease. “Intolerable suffering” is being interpreted more and more widely. In Heringa’s case, it is simply his mother’s plea for euthanasia that justified the act in the eyes of the court.

The court even went so far as to say that Heringa would have had to live with a “sense of guilt until the end of his life” had he not taken measures to end his mother’s life.

In 2011, the Dutch medical association KNMG changed its position on “intolerable suffering,” declaring that “unbearable and hopeless” suffering can result from other causes than physical illness. Also, the End of Life Clinic founded in 2012 caters to euthanasia requests that have been refused by patients’ family doctors on conscientious or medical grounds. Would Heringa have found a doctor willing to perform euthanasia on his mother in this new situation?

Whatever the answer to that question – and no one will ever know – the fact of his acquittal is a definite sign that euthanasia is being treated more and more as a right and an acceptable option in the Netherlands. It is also good news for unscrupulous family members who might find it expedient to push their relatives towards the grave.

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