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.
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Kirsten Andersen
Washington D.C. Correspondent
LifeSiteNews.com

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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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