Thaddeus Baklinski

‘Shining light’: politicians, pro-life leaders mourn passing of Nellie Gray, March for Life founder

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski
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WASHINGTON, DC, August 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The news of the passing of Nellie Gray, founder of the U.S. March for Life, has produced a huge outpouring of glowing tributes to the indomitable defender of the lives of the unborn.

Gray was no stranger to Washington politics, having been an employee of the federal government for 28 years. John Boehner, the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, posted a Tweet this morning saying he is “Deeply saddened by the death of Nellie Gray, an indefatigable defender of human life. Our prayers are with Nellie’s family.”

Former U.S. presidential candidate and President of American Values Gary Bauer called Nellie Gray “a tireless defender of women and the unborn and a clear voice for a pro-life America” in a press release this morning.

“I send my condolences to the family of Nellie Gray, who served as a clarion call for a pro-life America that valued all its citizens, born and unborn,” said Bauer. “In sometimes daunting January weather, Nellie stood firm and brought hundreds of thousands together for the hope of restored civil rights protections for the unborn and for the protection of women and girls who are also victims of abortion. She will be greatly missed, but she set an example for us all to follow of determination and conviction for a pro-life America.”

Judie Brown, President of American Life League, expressed her deep admiration for a “shining light” who “set the standard” for pro-life leadership.

“Nellie Gray, founder of the March for Life, was a shining light in my life from the first moment I heard her speak at the 1976 March for Life,” Brown recalled. “The subjects of her talk were human personhood and her hero at the time, Senator Jesse Helms, who led the fight for a personhood amendment to the Constitution from 1975 until his departure from the Senate. Nellie was a consistently strong opponent of any compromise measures proposed by pro-lifers, such as gestational legislation which she held was wrong and not genuinely pro-life.

“Nellie never wavered from principle and set a standard for every one of us in pro-life leadership.  We will miss her, but we thank her for showing us the way to true, meaningful victory for every human being, born and preborn,” Brown said.

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Monica Migliorino Miller, Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, described Gray as a “pro-life giant” who “showed the rest of us the way … to ending the slaughter of the unborn.”

“May angels guide her into Paradise. Let us not forget to pray for the repose of her soul. If you are Catholic it is our duty, and undoubtedly Nellie would want us to pray,” Miller added.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said that Nellie’s “purity of intention” produced the fruit of hundreds of thousands of participants joining in the March for Life every year.

“She relied upon one power to guide her: the power of the Holy Spirit. She revealed it to be more effective than all the political strategy this world could formulate,” said Dannenfelser.

“Now Nellie is prepared for the glory she did not experience on Earth and that pro-life Rep. Henry Hyde described vividly: ‘When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God - and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world - and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him, because he loved us!’”

Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called Nellie Gray “a visionary woman who understood the importance of a national memorial event to commemorate the significance of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Like the majority of women, she understood the power of women’s voices in the debate over the importance of a life-affirming society.”

Nellie “had a fierce heart that valued all people – born and unborn – fearlessly working to create a picture worth a thousand words – the sight of hundreds of thousands of peaceful Americans calling on their courts and their legislators to defend life in law,” said Yoest.

“When we march this January in solemn commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Roe, we will miss Nellie and her unflagging determination to press on toward the goal. But march we will, with deep gratitude for the example she set of sacrifice and commitment to the human rights struggle of our day.”

The president of Care Net pregnancy centres, Melinda Delahoyde, said Nellie was an inspiration to pro-life leaders through her personal example of enthusiasm and hard work for the cause of life.

“Nellie has been an inspiration to me and so many pro-life leaders,” Delahoyde said. “Her tireless advocacy for women and their preborn babies began when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand in the United States and Nellie never stopped for an end to the brutality of abortion.

“Nellie brought her experience as a World War II Women’s Army Corps corporal and attorney to bear on the entire pro-life movement. She founded and led the annual March for Life. The March – and Nellie’s personal example - motivated, energized and inspired generations of life-affirming leaders and local activists.

“The Care Net family extends heartfelt condolences Nellie’s family and dear friends. We pray for their comfort in this season of grief,” Delahoyde said.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said that not only was Nellie Gray a “tireless warrior for the unborn,” but that her founding of the March for Life led to his own vocation to the priesthood and commitment to the pro-life cause.

“Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life,” said Father Pavone. He explained that in 1976 when he was a senior in high school, he went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, Fr. Pavone said the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues.

“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’ “

Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More Awareness Campaign recalled that every year Nellie invited the women of the Silent No More to stand on the rally stage holding signs that said, “I Regret My Abortion,” and arranged for a larger group of post-abortive men and women from Silent No More to be in the vanguard of the March.

“We are so grateful that Nellie Gray shared our vision of Silent No More, and recognized that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice,” said Morana. “Every year more women and men come to march and to share their testimony. Nellie Gray helped make that possible for us.”

Nellie Gray is also credited for realizing that African-American pro-life leaders had to become more vocal and visible in the fight for life.

“Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. “She was a visionary.”

Fr. Pavone has offered the use of his blog for anyone wishing to share memories of Nellie and to offer spiritual bouquets and promises of prayers.

A Prayer for Nellie Gray is posted on the site.

Father of Life,
You have created each human being

To reflect your glory
From the moment of fertilization.

You have also planted in our hearts
The awareness that no human power
Can authorize the taking
Of a single human life.

You have stirred the hearts of your people

To respond to evils like the holocaust
And you have awakened their consciences
To likewise battle the evil of abortion.

We thank you for the pro-life movement
And for all its leaders.
We thank you for the life and example
Of Miss Nellie Gray

And for the work she did

In leading the Annual March for Life

And reminding us all
About the Life Principles which shape our movement.

Lord, give us new strength.
Bring us together in greater unity.
Give success to the work of our hands
As we defend every preborn child.

May we speak and pray,

May we write and march,

May we lobby and vote,

And may we see the victory of life!

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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TLC pulls ‘19 Kids and Counting’ from schedule following Duggar molestation allegations

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGDALE, AR, May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The television network TLC has removed the Duggar family's reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” from its schedule, at least temporarily.

Multiple news outlets have confirmed that the show, featuring the large and expanding evangelical Christian family, will not be on the air until the network makes a final decision about the program's fate.

The network had previously removed “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” from its network after “Mama June” Shannon had been seen associating with convicted child molester Mark McDaniel, possibly exposing her children to a sexual predator. Shannon has told the entertainment news outlet TMZ that she would sue the network for unfair and inconsistent treatment.

TLC has not made a final determination as of yet and aired a Duggar marathon Thursday evening as the controversy brewed.

Friday's move comes after media outlets obtained police records showing Josh Duggar, as a young teenager 12 years ago, inappropriately touched as many as five girls, often while they were sleeping. The police records show the incidents began in March 2002, the month the oldest Duggar child turned 14. He admitted the incident to his parents that July, but another incident took place in March 2003. At that time, the family sent him to a program that required counseling and hard physical labor.

Three years later, a letter containing details of the molestation was found, and its recipient notified police, who launched an investigation.

One of his victims told police, after Josh returned in July 2003, he had clearly “turned back to God.” No further incidents have been alleged.

Duggar's wife of six-and-a-half years, Anna, said Josh revealed the painful episode to her two years before they got engaged.

Since the allegations have been made public, Josh Duggar admitted his long ago wrongdoing, calling his teenage actions “inexcusable.” He also resigned his job at FRC Action, a pro-family lobbying organization.

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Some figures have offered the Duggars their reassurance that, whatever sins Josh committed as a teen, he can be – perhaps has been – forgiven by God.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a presidential hopeful, said that Josh “and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

He said those who leaked the story were motivated by “insensitive bloodlust” to destroy the Duggar family. “There was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past, and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”

God, Huckabee said, forgives all sins.

“In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption,” Josh wrote.

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Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 - United States Steve Jalsevac/Vatican City
Rebecca Kiessling

I told her I was conceived in rape. She told me to prove I shouldn’t have been aborted.

Rebecca Kiessling
By Rebecca Kiessling

(Savethe1) - Why should I have to prove my worth and my right to life? When I first learned at the age of 18 that I was conceived in rape, I instantly felt targeted and devalued by our society because I’d heard what people said about pregnancy “in cases of rape.” Right away, I felt I was in a position where I would have to justify my own existence – that I would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living.

I’ve since found my own value, identity and purpose in Christ, being created by God, in His image, and for a purpose, so I no longer feel I need to prove my worth to others in order to feel worthy. Instead, I share my worth out of gratitude for my own life being spared and in order that others may see the value of those who are still at risk – those who are in harm’s way as yet unborn and being targeted for abortion in the clinics, in legislation, and in people’s hearts and minds.

Whenever I speak, I share this aspect of my journey, but people are shocked to hear that I actually do get challenged to prove my value, to demonstrate my positive contribution to society and to justify my right not to have been aborted. This recent e-mail is a case in point. It was a tough inquiry to receive, but you’ll see my hopefully patient (and prayerful) responses below, and the ultimate outcome of the exchange:

I’m feeling sad and skeptical about rape babies.  I’d love to consider myself pro-life due to biblical reasons, but I just don’t really see what good can ever come out of a rape baby. I still think that it sometimes furthers the victimization of a rape victim. And it’s also because I’m very sad and disturbed by your blog.

I just think sometimes that it would be better if these babies never existed -- that every single one would naturally be miscarried by God’s will, so no one could bully them for their skeleton in their closet. Like I said, the subject manner disturbs me to the point where I vomit. I wish that every child was conceived in love and not violence because that's the way it should be. And I'm sad to say that the only way I could fully believe all of you rape mothers and children is if you were to pray for the peace of God that transcends all my futile understanding and my volatile, overly-sensitive emotions. 

There is no story in the whole world that can fully change my mind. The only way I could ever is if I were to befriend a victim or become the Bride of a man whom was the product of abuse. I'm so sorry to be brutally honest; it's just that my heart grieves to the point where I feel the struggle to overcome the sin of prejudice. I'm so angry at God that he allows this to occur.

Dear __, I appreciate you going to our blog and taking the time to reach out to us.  Your concerns are the most common, but research shows that rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion vs. giving birth. Dr. David Reardon's book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault explains this.  So it's a myth which gets perpetuated -- that a rape victim would be better off after an abortion, that her child would be a reminder of the rape, and that she would even see her child as a "rape baby," as you put it.

I understand a lot of what you're saying.  You would definitely feel differently if you knew someone personally.  I wished I wasn’t conceived in rape, but I do believe now that God definitely brings good out of evil, and uses tragic situations to bring healing.  He doesn't intend the evil of course, but his trademark is redeeming really awful situations.

-- Rebecca

Her reply (again, challenging for me to read, but I think she candidly articulates a lot of what most people really wonder or think):

What has God done in your life personally besides this blog that has made your tragic family life worth the pain? Tell me what you have been doing: like marriage, dating, children, jobs, friendship, volunteer work; any of that. I am curious to see how God has given your life joy and purpose. I'm sorry if I have ever been difficult to handle. I'm emotionally impulsive when I hear something sad.

First of all, my birthmother and her husband legally adopted me 3-1/2 years ago because my adoptive family was really screwed up (long story of abuse and abandonment.) My own adoption by my birthmother was our fairy-tale ending.  She says I'm a blessing to her, I honor her and I bring her healing! I love adoption -- my two oldest are adopted (very open adoption,) and we adopted a baby with special needs -- Cassie -- who died in our arms at 33 days old. It was an honor to take care of her and was definitely one of the most important things I'd ever done in my life. She died because of medical malpractice.

Married for nearly 17 years, we have 5 children now – two adopted sons and our three biological daughters.  Here's my son's story. He wrote it last September at 12 years old.

Besides being the president and founder of Save The 1, I also co-founded Hope After Rape Conception. I'm a family law attorney, though I closed my law practice to have my children and to home school until 2-1/2 years ago.

I make baby quilts which I donate to pregnancy resource centers and I give to moms in unplanned pregnancies. My birthmother taught me to sew! I also taught my children to quilt, as well as many of my friends and their children. I've volunteered with orphan care, Sunday school, feeding the disadvantaged, free legal work, volunteer work for a maternity home, and helping in various ways with pregnancy resource centers. I changed the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich on this issue during their presidential campaigns!

A large part of what I do is helping others to understand their value, identity and worth because lots of people struggle with these issues -- not just those conceived in rape. I hope this helps!  -- Rebecca

Her final response – from someone who said “there is no story in the world that can fully change my mind”: 

Dear Rebecca, thank you so much for your time to straighten out my emotional acting out -- I'm really glad you told me about your life. I really think I'll be okay now. I still wish that men wouldn't rape, but at least the world knows a lot more than they used to and I can say that I'm pro-life to my college professors without paranoia or anxiety. I even talked about helping people like you with my mom and dad. They told me I'm too sensitive in personality to be involved directly in domestic politics; yet, I'm praying about being a free English tutor for troubled families as well as being an anti-pornography informant or activist. After all, the porn industry has been statistically linked to the sexual violence pandemic. I'm so glad that you are living life well and to the best of your ability; keep telling people that just because your birth father was an evil scumbag doesn't mean that you are. Thanks Rebecca, you have really touched and strengthened my heart. With much sincerity.

 

BIO: Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted, but legally protected by law in Michigan pre-Roe v Wade.  She's an attorney, pro-life speaker and blogger, and President of Save The 1. Her own website is www.rebeccakiessling.com

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Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders.

Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, said in a speech at the 2015 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Annual Meeting Thursday that the Boy Scouts would have to adjust to "the social, political, and juridicial changes taking place in our country -- changes taking place a pace this past year no one anticipated."

According to Gates, the way to balance the religious affiliations of "some 70% of our scout units" and avoid "a broad [court] ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard" is to offer individual troops a flexible membership policy. 

"For me, I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations -- based on First Amendment protections of religious freedom -- to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever."

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," said Gates, who said that BSA should "seize control of our own future, set our own course, and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

This is not the first time that Gates, who led the military to end its two decades-long Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, has supported gay Scout leaders. Last year, he said that he "would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country."

In 2013, BSA allowed openly homosexual scouts for the first time. That policy reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” and took effect on January 1, 2014.

A year ago, Gates said he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made" to allow gay Scout members, but decided that "to try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement - with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own."

This week, though, Gates said that "events during the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

"We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy, from some councils... in open defiance of the policy," said Gates. 

However, Gates' remarks may have come too late to prevent internal challenges from splitting BSA. Due to the 2013 vote, a number of Scouting alternatives launched, including the organization Trail Life USA. The latter group says it aims "to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens." 

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In January, Trail Life USA said it has "over 540 Troops in 48 states and the registration of nearly 20,000 adults and boys..."

Furthermore, the decision by BSA to allow gay scouts has led to criticism from people on both sides of the debate. Homosexual activists say the group did not go far enough, whereas many Christian parents and organizations say BSA is bowing to public pressure from homosexual advocates to affect its membership, despite its Christian roots.

Corporate pressure has also been aggressive. Last year, Walt Disney World threatened to not allow employees to volunteer for BSA as part of its VoluntEARS program in 2015 if the organization does not allow gay Scout leaders. Diversity Inc. reports that Merck & Co., Ernst & Young, Major League Baseball, and AT&T are just some of the other companies that have pressured BSA to further change its policies.

LifeSiteNews asked BSA whether Gates' comments indicated support for a totally flexible scout leadership policy, or just related to gay scout leaders, as well as whether BSA would take a stand against state and local laws that deny First Amendment rights to people who oppose same-sex "marriage."

BSA declined to comment, telling LifeSiteNews in a statement: "Dr. Gates’s remarks speak for themselves. ... It is important to note that no decisions were made during the National Annual Meeting. A decision is expected no later than the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board meeting in October."

A video of Gates' remarks is below. The comments about membership standards begin at 8:40.

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