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Standing up for the pre-born while sitting in a wheelchair

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By Jonathon van Maren
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November 24, 2011 (Unmaskingchoice.ca) - Over the last several months, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has been training and activating young people across Canada to EndtheKilling. From British Columbia to Alberta to Ontario, young people are responding to the call and lending their voices to the ever-growing chorus demanding an end to the slaughter of one third of our generation. Each of these young people should be commended for what they are doing, and should be encouraged by the fact that they are part of a rising movement. They should also be encouraged by the story of Taylor Hyatt.

Taylor is a 19-year-old girl who has been engaging the public on abortion through “Choice” Chain, working as a part of both Carleton Lifeline and the youth activist group “Ottawa Against Abortion.” However, she faces difficulties that most pro-life activists do not: she has the spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. She uses a computer to write, uses a wheelchair, and can only walk short distances with a walker. Yet, no obstacle is strong enough to deter Taylor from speaking out on behalf of those that are more vulnerable than her. It was my honour and privilege to interview her recently.

Q: How did you become convicted about the pro-life cause?

A: I was three months away from turning 13 when the story of Terri Schindler-Schiavo (and her eventual euthanasia by dehydration/starvation) made headlines around the world. News sources said she was comatose. To make a long story short, I saw instead a woman with challenges similar to the ones faced by many young people I grew up with, or even what I could have had if my CP were any more severe. Disability rights activists were working alongside pro-lifers to spread the message that Terri was a human worthy of life. When she died, I swore I would do everything I could to prevent such things from happening again.

Soon after, I did a bit more research on that situation online. I began to read pro-life blogs, and discovered arguments against abortion quite by accident.

The Principle of Biogenesis and any other scientific arguments are the ones that appeal most to me to this day.  Also, being a premature baby (born 3 months early), I knew that one did not have to have all the “features” or abilities that a full-term baby has in order to be considered worthy of life. Having seen pictures of myself, I would have had to somehow deny my own humanity! 

Q: What made you decide to do “Choice” Chain in spite of all difficulties?

A: Involvement with Carleton Lifeline, including Choice Chain is the first chance I’ve had to act on my convictions and I’m going to go for it! So many lives have been lost in the seven years I’ve had to hold off on being involved, and I don’t want to wait another second to do something about it.

Q: How do you feel your circumstances affect your pro-life work?

A: If I said that my disability does not affect my activism, I’d be lying. At events with Carleton Lifeline, some people I hope to talk to on the street have walked around me and ignored me, in order to challenge one of my friends. I am spreading the same message…how am I different? I feel like they are saying “She has a disability – she can’t stand having her feelings hurt if I tear her position to shreds!” Or even worse – “She has a disability, therefore she can’t possibly be smart enough to understand pro-choice arguments. She’s too stupid to bother engaging with.” The worst part is when they avoid me and then ask my friends seconds later why aborting a child with a disability is not okay…that has to be the most painful.

Is my disability my biggest challenge? No! My family, at this time, does not support my involvement in this movement and they refuse to drive me to the few events in my small hometown. Combine this with an awful accessible public transit system back home…and you see why I’m jumping right in while in Ottawa!

Q: How do you deal with opposition to what you do?

A: Community opposition (e.g. from police and the public) no longer scares me. Knowing that my friends are nearby helps, especially the strong gentlemen, as well as knowing that those with a lot of experience in pro-life work who are used to such things are there to help. The more I face it, the easier it is to deal with.

Q: How do you deal with physical limitations in what you do?

A: As strange as this might sound, there aren’t too many physical limitations. I am unable to stand and hold a sign. I can’t stand without my walker – using the walker requires two hands. Whether I am sitting on my walker’s built-in seat or in my wheelchair (which I use most of the time), the signs are about as tall and wide as me! On very windy days, the sign moves a lot. Usually, a friend stands close by in order to catch it. When I went to the Rideau Centre earlier this month, I was able to lean my sign against a decorative post where we were standing. That saved a lot of energy.

If we are handing out pamphlets, I still have to deal with crowds avoiding me, as well as short arms. Sometimes I let them pass, and other times I may drive my chair the tiniest bit closer in order to make contact.

Q: What message would you personally give to other people who are struggling with circumstances, but are pro-life?

A: I would tell them that facing their personal obstacles, whatever they may be, is worth it in order to defend life. Knowing that you are impacting – and possibly saving – the lives of others around you, is a beautiful thing. A word of caution – build up a strong emotional support network, even if it only consists of friends and acquaintances in your local pro-life organization, before doing anything in the public realm.

Q: How has doing “Choice” Chain affected you?

A: Doing “Choice” Chain has opened my eyes to the necessity of speaking out against abortion and the urgency with which we must act. Saying that I am pro-life and debating my family is one thing. Holding up a sign in order to show the physical effects of the procedure on the child, and attempting to engage the public, is completely different.

It’s easier because you don’t have a previous relationship with the Average Joe who reacts negatively – I probably won’t see them again for a long time. Yet it is also tougher. My wheelchair makes it much easier to pick me out in a crowd. I have yet to truly see if this allows for faster recognition in a second debate encounter as I think it does, and what effect this will have.

Many of us are probably often tempted to make excuses to avoid activism: It’s too cold, I’m nervous, I’m not capable of this work. Examples like Taylor inspire us: as she says, defending life is always worth it. We can no longer ignore the children dying while we remain silent. We all have a duty to do what is right, not what is easy. I hope that many will be inspired by Taylor as I have, to do more, to face our own obstacles, and to do so while always keeping those more vulnerable and weaker in the forefront. This generation is standing up to EndtheKilling—even if they have to do it sitting in a wheelchair. 

Reprinted with permission from Unmaskingchoice.ca

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David Bereit of 40 Days for Life, on the right.
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All one fight: Why the leader of 40 Days for Life says he may become active in the fight for marriage

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just eight years ago, 40 Days for Life was founded as a pro-life Christian ministry. This year, it reached 252 cities in 19 countries.

Now, says founder and National Director David Bereit, he's discerning whether to expand his personal activism to marriage.

"The various moral issues we confront in our culture today are all intrinsically connected," Bereit told LifeSiteNews at Saturday's March for Marriage. “When you look at the various factors that lead to the breakdown of nations and civilizations, they are moral factors," Bereit said. "It's the devaluing of human life, it's the abandonment of religious belief and practice, it's immorality -- the increase thereof – and it's the breakdown of the family."

"They're all tied into this moving away from God, and America was founded as a nation with Christian principles and ideals that used to say 'In God We Trust.' And the further we've turned away from that, the more we have fallen,” he said. "I believe that with man, turning the tide in our culture is not possible, but with God, all things are possible."

Bereit stressed that his attendance at the March for Marriage, as well as his ongoing process of discernment, was representative only of his own circumstances -- not those of 40 Days for Life, which remains an abortion-focused ministry.

Bereit did not shy away from questions that are often raised about what President Barack Obama called America's “tragic” history.

"America was built on Judeo-Christians principles,“ he said. “There are still fallen people that make up our churches and our communities."

"The question is, will people of faith and conscience turn back to God and do their very best to align themselves with the principles that formed our nation and made our nation such a great place in history?"

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The third annual March for Marriage, which was organized by the National Organization for Marriage and exclusively livestreamed by LifeSiteNews, drew thousands of people, mostly minorities, just three days before what is being billed as the definitive U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the issue of same-sex "marriage."  

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‘Persecution plain and simple’:  Franklin Graham fundraises for Oregon bakers after GoFundMe shuts them down

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By Ben Johnson

BOONE, NC, April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – First, they were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual “marriage” ceremony. Then, a rival business owner convinced GoFundMe.com to stop Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein from raising money to pay the fine on the grounds that, since their religious beliefs violate state law, they are common criminals.

Now, one of the nation's most well-known Christian ministers and philanthropists is coming to their aid.

An administrative law judge fined the Oregon bakers, proprietors of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, $135,000 to pay for the emotional suffering of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer – a lesbian couple who say they feel the Kleins “mentally raped” them.

The Kleins have since closed their Portland-area business and lost substantial income. After hearing of the fine on Friday, Melissa said the amount would financially crush them.

The family opened a GoFundMe page and, within hours, they collected more than $109,000.

Then Lisa Watson, the co-owner of Cupcake Jones in Portland, began lobbying the website to banish the couple's appeal.

“The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,” Watson wrote on Facebook. She added that the website's “terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity, and sexism among other things in their campaign.”

GoFundMe then suspended the Kleins' fundraising.

“While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live,” GoFundMe said in a statement. “However, the subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”

The day after the announcement Watson, who operates her business with husband Peter Shanky, posted a photo of her 2015 Equality Advocate Award “for outstanding leadership to advanced lived equality for all LGBTQ Oregonians.”

The Kleins hope the website will reconsider. “We have told GoFundMe that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions,” the Kleins wrote on Facebook.

That's when the Reverend Franklin Graham and his ministry Samaritan's Purse stepped in, allowing those who wish to alleviate the couple's suffering to donate on its website.

"The fund was created to help persecuted Christians in the U.S., including Aaron and Melissa Klein,” an employee at Samaritan's Purse told LifeSiteNews today. “It was only activated over the weekend and the organization has not yet announced any numbers. Currently, Samaritan's Purse is focused on the earthquake in Nepal and providing relief supplies to people impacted by the disaster.”

Graham praised the Kleins' steadfastness in the face of legal challenges. “They have taken a stand for the Word of God, and they should not have to stand alone,” the ministry's founder and president Franklin Graham said. “I believe that Christians across our nation will rally around Aaron and Melissa and their five children. Please pray for Aaron and Melissa, and pray for our nation. When our judges are punishing Christians for practicing what they believe, that’s persecution, plain and simple.”

“God bless Reverend Franklin Graham,” AFR Talk radio host Bryan Fischer said today. 

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The Kleins will still receive the money raised by GoFundMe, in addition to any supplemental funds raised by Graham's international charitable ministry.

Conservative author Dan Calabrese wrote that “Melissa's Sweet Cakes will not have to go into bankruptcy and the family won't personally be ruined. And what a disappointment that must be to the gay mafia, whose agenda is to intimidate all gay marriage opponents into not just silence but compliance, for fear of just such” an outcome.

Christians have risen to the challenge before. Memories Pizza raised more than $840,000 after the Indiana pizzeria was harassed into closing its doors for saying it would cater a same-sex “wedding.”

Calabrese warns that these victories may lead to more intense anti-Christian persecution.

“When put in an untenable position like this, Christians and others who support their right to operate their business as they see fit will come to their aid. So the gay mafia will take it up a notch, attempting to intimidate the fundraising organizations from cooperating with the effort,” he said.

If that fails, “Maybe they can persuade friendly Democrat lawmakers (or terrified Republicans) to legislate them out of business.”

Readers can donate to the Klein family here.

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Opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ – a deeper love

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By John-Henry Westen

April 27, 2015 (CNSNews.com) -- Same-sex “marriage” – the legal recognition of same-sex relationships – is one of the most contentious issues in America. Laws, constitutional interpretation, and the future of religious liberty may well rest on what nine justices decide two months from now.

Many observers seem to believe that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of redefining marriage. And while many on all sides of the debate, especially those who are undecided, believe this will bring cultural peace, evidence around the world points in the exact opposite direction.

Rather than settle animosity and ease cultural tensions, the advent of same-sex “marriage” will lead to the repression of religious freedom and determination to root out dissent to the gay rights doctrine. At LifeSiteNews, we have watched this play out for nearly two decades in 17 countries around the world – and America is next.

A prime example is Canada. Same-sex “marriage” passed in 2005. Similar to European countries which have done so, there has been a relentless pursuit of the minds of children against the wishes of their parents. Schools, both public and private, were first mandated by law to have gay-straight alliance clubs under the auspices of anti-bullying. Then, sex-education, teaching the normalcy of homosexual sex, was given to children without parents being permitted to opt their children out of the classes.

We have arrived at this state of affairs because of the silence of Christian pulpits on sexual matters, and the concomitant shouting from every secular pulpit, screen and book. Even the current discussion around same-sex “marriage” in the United States reveals a grave reluctance to speak about the heart of the issue – homosexual sex. Rather, arguments are made about the goodness of natural marriage, about its benefit to children, and its unchangeable character.

From reporting on the subject every day for so many years, we knew that the struggle for same-sex “marriage” has very little to do with marriage. In fact, until just recently, gay activists didn’t even want to be “married” to each other. Most had no interest in the constraints that such a formalized union would entail in terms of exclusive partnership.

However, the leaders among the activists convinced the movement that they must attain marriage as a societal stamp of approval to homosexual behavior. And, frankly, they have largely succeeded.

Today, in many of the nations where same-sex “marriage” is law, opposition to it is seen as akin to racism. It is seen falsely as an animosity against someone for who they are—an unwillingness to recognize the human dignity of a class of persons due to an immutable characteristic.

However, that false perception is due to a purposeful agenda to conflate animosity against homosexual sex acts with animosity against persons who experience same-sex attraction. The ancient Christian teaching to “love the sinner and hate the sin” is an impermissible distinction in the minds of some. It is, however, the key to understanding the majority of the opposition to same-sex “marriage.”

The plain truth of the matter is that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is rooted not in hatred and bigotry, but just the opposite – in love. Like parents who do not allow children to behave dangerously without lovingly correcting them, opponents of same-sex relationships are hoping to save people with same-sex attractions from severe physical, psychological, and spiritual harm.

Just as, out of love and concern for their children’s welfare, parents must correct and discipline, despite the protests they may get in return, any true believer in marriage, natural law and science must lovingly correct their fellow man.

In other nations, the perception that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is based upon bigotry has led to laws that violate religious liberty, parental rights and freedom of speech. This is why those who oppose same-sex “marriage” must present their reasoning as based on love and concern for the welfare of those in homosexual relationships, in addition to concerns for children and society itself. And there is ample evidence on which to base that concern in the numerous studies showing the grave harm of homosexual sex to both body and psyche.

When I’ve spoken of these findings at conferences around the world, some have questioned if the researchers who showed these harms weren’t themselves biased by anti-gay sentiment. And so I’ve taken to carrying with me on my phone the quotes of the late Canadian gay activist Gens Hellquist, whose testimony proves the harms of gay sex better than any study ever could.

Speaking a year after the passage of same-sex “marriage” into law, Hellquist was seeking more healthcare dollars for the LGBT community. "We have one of the poorest health statuses in this country,” he said. “Health issues affecting queer Canadians include lower life expectancy than the average Canadian, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care and HIV/AIDS."

"There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic to our community,” he added. “We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male community, lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer.”

He concluded: “Now that we can get married everyone assumes that we don't have any issues any more. A lot of the deaths that occur in our community are hidden, we don't see them. Those of us who are working on the front lines see them and I'm tired of watching my community die."

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Pastors and preachers must take up this call to speak the truth in love, for without this approach, the public will be led to believe that those opposed to same-sex “marriage” are indeed haters needing to be stopped with the force of law. Love is the most powerful force in any argument, and gay “marriage” pushers have used it very effectively. As Hilary Clinton tweeted as she fought religious freedom laws in Indiana: “We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT”

The truth is that those who oppose same-sex “marriage” are showing a deeper love, as any parent does when instilling difficult discipline. We have enough love and concern for those with same-sex attraction to warn them not to engage in behaviors proven to be very harmful. We won’t encourage people to enter into such harmful behaviors by redefining marriage to encourage it, nor will we allow our children to be indoctrinated into regarding it as a healthy and safe alternative lifestyle.

We have failed so far to get this message of love out to the public. I will not be surprised if the Supreme Court approves of same-sex “marriage” – and I will be even less surprised to see a subsequent  crackdown on religious freedom, as already seen in states like California and Colorado.

Pope Benedict XVI predicted it a decade ago. Observing the international trends, the then-Cardinal said “very soon it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence.”

Reprinted with permission from CNS News

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