Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
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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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

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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.

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

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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