Ben Johnson

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Hundreds of thousands join record-breaking U.S. March for Life (93 PHOTOS: Updated)

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Huddled under winter coats and hats and scarves, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists gathered on the Mall in Washington D.C. this morning to send a clear message to politicians in the Capitol, and the whole country: 40 years is too long, abortion must end! But despite the frigid January temperatures, the crowd, made up largely of teens and young adults, was boisterous, with many groups chanting pro-life slogans and singing hymns as they walked.

This year's March marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, since which an estimated 55 million babies have been killed by abortion in America.

While accurate estimates of the number of attendees at the march are hard to come by, organizers had said in the days leading up to the event that all signs pointed to a record-breaking crowd. Hotels in the D.C area sold out far in advance of when they normally do, and organizers installed two jumbotrons just to ensure that all marchers could get a glimpse of what was happening on the stage.

Last year's march was estimated at around 400,000 participants, likely putting this year's at the half million mark, or even beyond. The popularity of the event could be seen on social media, with the March for Life trending on Twitter for a time in the early afternoon, and Facebook exploding with photos and status updates from attendees. 

Before opening the march rally with an opening prayer, Cardinal Sean O'Malley announced to cheers that Pope Benedict had just tweeted his support for the marchers. "I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," the pontiff tweeted from his @Pontifex account.

And while the chances of a national pro-life political victory seem as bleak as the weather on the overcast winter day, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul and the other activist and political leaders who addressed the crowd were certain they are on the right side of history.

“One day, we will be here and triumph, because love and truth always triumph,” said former Pennsylvania senator Santorum, who made a strong showing for the Republican presidential nomination last year.

Santorum spoke alongside his wife, Karen, and four of their children – but his speech revolved around his absent daughter Bella, who was born with Trisomy-18. “The response to this little girl and the struggles she was going through and who she was...was just amazing to us, and affirmed to us the goodness of the people in this country,” he said.

“We were encouraged to abort, because she would be saddled with disabilities and it would be better for her – but we all know death is never better,” he said, “What it's about is it would be easier for us.” “Bella is better for us, and we are better because of Bella.”

He asked anyone faced with the prospect of special needs children to “give them a chance. Welcome them in to your home.”

After leaving the campaign trail, Santorum founded the advocacy group Patriot Voices, which carried an enormous banner in today's march.

“This country is in search of truth, and they're not finding much of it in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Those who love the unborn are instead making the world a better place through their own initiative. “Everyday [they] go out and open up their arms...and reach out their hands in love for little children,” Santorum observed.

The highest ranking public servant to address the crowd – Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY – had some philosophical questions about how our policies affect the soul of our country.

“Can a nation long endure that does not respect the sanctity of life? Can a nation conceived in liberty carry its head high if its denies protection the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens?” he asked.

“I believe great nations and great civilizations spring from a people who have a moral compass. Our nation is adrift, adrift in a wilderness where right and wrong have become subservient to the hedonism of the moment,” he stated.

Polls show the vast majority of abortions occur – not for rape, incest, or maternal health – but out of personal convenience.

“I believe our country is in need of a revival,” Senator Paul said. “I believe our country is in need of a spiritual cleansing.”

The senator, like his father, credits his medical career with influencing his pro-life worldview, remembering days when he held one-pound babies in the palm of his hand.

“I defy [pro-abortion ideologues] to come to the neonatal nursery with me and look at these tiny little miracles and say, 'We're not going to protect that,'” he said.

Four other members of Congress addressed the crowd, a significantly lower number than in years past.

Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, promised to reintroduce H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would bar U.S. family planning dollars from financing any organization that performs abortions. Former Congressman Mike Pence, who was elected governor of Indiana in November, encouraged her to take up the charge.

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House Speaker John Boehner addressed the gathering by video, promising he was busy at work “putting together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work. In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”

The March featured a bipartisan moment, as Congressman Dan Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat, spoke to the crowd in a recorded message.

“We mourn the 40th anniversary of a talking away of a most basic and essential right to our most vulnerable sisters and brothers,” he said. “There are legislative battles to be fought, and I will continue to fight them as a pro-life Democrat, because life should not be a partisan issue.”

Lipinski was the only Illinois Democrat to vote against ObamaCare in March 2010.

Democrats for Life of America had a breakfast Friday morning before the march, as well.

However, the March's close proximity to Barack Obama's second inauguration drew sometimes heated remarks on the part of speakers – and marchers.

The chairman of the House Pro-life Caucus, Chris Smith, R-NJ, gave a stirring speech that commemroated the “horrific legacy” of Roe v. Wade 40 years and 55 million abortions later – “a death toll that equates with the entire population of England.”

His speech directly challenged President Obama.

“Know this,” he said, addressing the president, “the pro-life movement is comprised of noble, caring, smart and selfless people. It is an extraordinarily powerful, non-violent, faith-filled human rights struggle that is growing in public support, intensity, commitment and hope.”

“And know this Mr. President: The pro-life movement is not only on the side of compassion, justice, and inclusion; we are on the right side of responsible science and of history.”

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

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That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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