Kirsten Andersen

The story of how a life was saved from forced abortion

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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Editor’s Note: Kirsten Anderson joined LifeSitenews only a few months ago. Her narrative below is a fascinating and moving telling of her personal experiences in helping to save the life of a U.S. child threatened by a forced abortion on her mother.

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, December 14, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) I was hired as LifeSiteNews’s Washington Correspondent in September, I knew I would have my work cut out for me.  It was fall of an election year, and a big part of my job would be covering what was happening in U.S. politics. 

I expected long hours, an avalanche of deadlines, and endless games of phone tag with beleaguered public relations professionals tasked with explaining away their bosses’ latest gaffes.

The job delivered as promised.  Big issues were debated.  Promises were made and broken.  Good people said dumb things, and dangerous people told slick lies.

We wrote about it all.

Our U.S. Bureau Chief Ben Johnson, got the unenviable night shift, staying up all night after the presidential and vice presidential debates to cover every angle.  As expected, I spent my days on the phone with all manner of “spokesmen.” Communications Directors, Vice Presidents for Public Relations, Community Liasions, Public Affairs Officers … they go by a dozen titles of varying unwieldiness, but in print, they’re always “spokesmen.”  I took notes, and quoted them in stories.

I liked my new job a lot.  I knew our work was important; getting the truth out always is.  Still, the fall of 2012 was shaping up to be just another election season in Washington – important, yes, but probably not life-changing.

Then I received a tip that would come to fundamentally change the way I view our work at LSN.

Let me first say that we get a lot of news tips at LSN.  Some of them are worth covering; some of them, not so much.  The first and biggest question we have to ask ourselves when considering any news tip, though, is, “Is this true?”

So that was the first question I asked myself upon receiving in my inbox what amounted to a cry for help from a lawyer in Reno, Nevada.  He told an unbelievable story: a woman in her early thirties, mentally disabled and suffering from epilepsy, had become pregnant under questionable circumstances.  Her adoptive parents, still her legal guardians now that she is an adult, had decided with her that she would carry the pregnancy to term and place her baby with an adoptive family.  They took her to the doctor to adjust her medications to reduce the risk of harm to the child growing within her.

The doctor called adult protective services.  The court stepped in.

I read on, horrified, as the attorney for the woman’s parents claimed a District Court judge, acting well outside the normal bounds of his judicial authority, was attempting to force the woman to undergo an abortion – against her will, and against the wishes of her family.  His reason?  He thought it might be “best for her.”  When her Catholic parents objected, he told them their religion was “irrelevant” inside his courtroom and that, as court-appointed guardians, they were ultimately subject to his authority.  He referred to the parents dismissively as mere “agents of the court.”

At this point, I admit I was ready to call bovine scatology on the lawyer’s story.  My reaction echoed the ones I saw over and over again in the LSN comment boxes as this story unfolded over the next three weeks: What is this, China?  We don’t force people to have abortions in America.  Not yet, anyway.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.

Ben Johnson and I agreed that we had to try and confirm the situation with the Court before taking any action on such a potentially explosive story.  Luckily, Washoe County has a searchable database of cases online.  That made my initial fact check easy to do.

My stomach sank as I entered the details the lawyer had given me into the search function and it came back with the results.  The case existed.  The facts checked out. I called the lawyer back.

Thus marked the beginning of a three-week journey that ended in tears of joy last month as I hit ‘submit’ on my final story about the case, reporting that the judge had spared the baby’s life.  Both the lawyer for the family and the president of Nevada Right to Life partly credited LSN’s coverage with making the difference, the latter saying unequivocally, “New media saved this little baby’s life.”

Here, to the best of my recollection, is the way it went down.

On the day we broke the story, I spoke for an hour each with Amy Bauer and her attorney Jason Guinasso, who had first given us the tip.  I spoke to Dania Reid, the District Attorney representing Washoe County’s public guardian, which had been tasked with investigating Amy’s daughter Elisa’s condition to help the judge decide whether to order an abortion to be performed.  I read through old court documents and statements from medical professionals.  Then I wrote the story and we posted it online.

Our coverage was strong enough to gain the attention of local and national mainstream media.  In the following days, my story was referenced in the Washington Times, the Las Vegas Review Journal, and other outlets.

Other outlets used and reused quotes, often without citation, until I lost track of how many newspapers I’d done research for un-credited.  There’s an old saying President Ronald Reagan was fond of: “There is no limit to what a man can accomplish if he does not care who gets the credit.”

Credited or not, LSN’s coverage was having a massive impact.

The stories we posted about the case spread like wildfire around Facebook and Twitter.  Readers were understandably horrified that something like this could happen in America.  They wanted to know what they could do to stop it.

Rebekah O’Brien, our social media coordinator, suggested they call the judge’s office and make their voices heard.  She provided his contact information.  Our readers filled his voicemail box with messages until the system couldn’t store any more.  After that, they called the governor.

That was about the time the court started changing its tone.

It was exhilarating to witness.  I kept in close contact with Jason Guinasso as I kept our readers up-to-date on developments in the case. During our first phone call, he sounded overwhelmed and anxious.  Everyone involved on the government’s side of the case seemed to want to force Elisa to abort her child.  During the first hearing, the court-summoned doctor recommended abortion and sterilization in stark terms, saying, “End this pregnancy and tie her tubes.”

By the next week, the heat was on.  Petitions were being signed, voicemail boxes were full, and the judge, Egan Walker, banned cameras from the courtroom, although he allowed the press to stay. The government was looking less sure of itself.  The doctor who originally reported Elisa’s pregnancy to the court and caused the trial in the first place backpedaled furiously once he was put on the stand and in front of the news media, refusing to recommend an abortion.  On the phone that night, Guinasso sounded hopeful.

Week three brought a miracle.

Judge Walker called everyone in for a private meeting.  Behind closed doors, he said he wanted to take abortion off the table.  He said he wanted to continue the hearings in a less confrontational manner, focusing on how best to care for Elisa and her baby both before and after the birth.  All he needed was for everyone to agree … which they did.  Walker announced his decision at the next scheduled hearing, at which point I received an e-mail sent from Jason Guinasso’s cell phone.  It began: “Call me!  We won!!”

Thirty frantic minutes of typing later, I hit “send” on my last news story about the Bauer case and immediately burst into tears.  The full import of what we had accomplished hit me in that moment.  By shining the light of truth on that courtroom, I wasn’t just covering a shocking story or generating hits for a website.

I was giving our readers the information they needed to help save a life. Make no mistake – LSN shaped the national narrative on this story. 

We covered it for what it was – a forced abortion story in the process of unfolding.  Because we were there from the beginning, and we were there in-depth, the mainstream media was forced to not only cover the case, but acknowledge the truth of it. 

It would have been easy for them to contact the district attorney who told me, “This investigation is not designed to force Elisa to have an abortion,” and leave that quote unchallenged. 

Our coverage didn’t leave them room to do so.  We kept the pressure on and, in the end, it saved a little baby’s life.

Later, Jason Guinasso would write to me:

“You and LifeSitenews were a huge part of what we were able to accomplish.  We were able to tell our story through you to the public.  The result was a national discussion on the power of the judiciary, the rights of the disabled, the rights of parents/guardians, and the rights of the unborn.  More importantly, you mobilized an army of people to begin praying for us.  I know that the prayers of the saints caused the hearts and minds of the judge and our adversaries to change 180 degrees.” 

“Suffice to say,” he wrote, “I will forever be grateful for your support.  You should know that I especially appreciated how you applied what I recognized as basic standards of journalism to your interviews of me and in your fact gathering generally.  It is so incredibly important to maintain your integrity as a journalist.  As far as I am concerned, you are a journalist of the highest quality in both work product and character.”

I cried again, reading that.  But glowing words of praise aside, he’s right.  LSN has incredibly high standards of excellence for both our research and our writing.

If it’s not the truth, we don’t print it, and we dig deep to make sure we have the facts you won’t find anywhere else. When you read an LSN story, you can share it and act on it with absolute confidence, knowing that everything has been verified.

Next time you do, you just might save a life. 

Your support saves lives.  Help us reach our campaign goal with a donation today.
(Click Here to Donate)


Kirsten Andersen
Washington D.C. Correspondent
LifeSiteNews.com

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Newsbusters Staff

,

Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
By

March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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Only 3 Days Left!
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Only 3 Days Left!

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

I can’t believe how quickly our annual Spring campaign has flown by. Now,with only 3 days remaining, we still have $96,000 left to raise to meet our absolute minimum goal.

That’s why I must challenge you to stop everything, right now, and make a donation of whatever amount you can afford to support the pro-life and pro-family investigative reporting of LifeSite!

I simply cannot overemphasize how important your donation, no matter how large or small, is to the continued existence of LifeSite. 

For 17 years, we have relied almost exclusively on the donations of our growing army of everyday readers like you: readers who are tired of the anti-life and anti-family bias of the mainstream media, and who are looking for a different kind of news agency.

We at LifeSite have always striven to be that news agency, and your ever-faithful support has encouraged us to forge ahead fearlessly in this mission to promote the Culture of Life through investigative news reporting.

You will find our donation page is incredibly simple and easy to use. Making your donation will take less than two minutes, and then you can get back to the pressing duties scheduled for your day. But those two minutes means the world to us!

If you have not had the opportunity to see the video message from the Benham Brothers to all of our readers, I encourage you to do so (click here to view).

The Benham Brothers are only one of many, many pro-life and family leaders, media personalities, politicians, and activists around the world who rely on LifeSite on a daily basis!

Since our humble beginnings in the late 90s, LifeSite has gone from a small non-profit to an international force in the battle for life and family, read by over 5 million people every month

This is thanks only to the leaders, activists, and ordinary readers just like you who have recognized the importance truth plays in turning the tides of the Culture.

I want to thank the many readers who helped bring us within striking distance of our minimum goal with their donations over the weekend. 

But though we have made great strides in the past few days, we still need many more donations if we are going to have any hope of making it all the way by April 1st.

In these final, anxious days of our quarterly campaigns, I am always tempted to give in to fear, imagining what will happen if we don’t reach our goal.

In these moments, however, I instead turn to prayer, remembering that God in his providence has never yet let us down. With His help we have always been given precisely what we need to carry on!

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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