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

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By Jonathon van Maren

November 24, 2011 ( - 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

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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