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.

When 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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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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