These Practical Pro-Life Programs Help Moms Finish School

The story of a high school senior whose pregnancy has barred her from walking at her graduation and removed her from her student leadership positions has sparked a debate within the pro-life community.

A story at the New York Times spells out how a spokesman for 18-year-old Maddi Runkles’ Christian high school – Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md. – stood by the decision, calling it an internal matter. The original story concedes that the internal debate is a difficult one between policies that affirm life and policies that affirm traditional moral teachings on premarital sex.

Over the past few days, two camps have arisen in pro-life circles about the incident. One sides with Students for Life of America (SFLA) – who supported Runkles in the NYT story – saying that the school shouldn’t have penalized her for choosing to keep her baby. The other includes The Blaze’s Matt Walsh, who took to Facebook to defend Heritage Academy’s decisions.

Regardless of where you are in the debate, one inescapable fact is that Runkles – a young woman of an age to start college – is a member of a demographic extremely vulnerable to the temptation of abortion.

Statistics from the Guttmacher institute – a research arm of Planned Parenthood – show that young women of high school and college age account for over 45 percent of all abortions performed. Furthermore, a 2009 study also found that girls at private religious schools were more likely to have abortions than their counterparts at public schools, statistically speaking.

Ergo, for every Maddi Runkles, there are scores of other girls whose children will never see the light of day in large part because of the multitude of pressures these young women face.

How could the school have responded? And what are other institutions doing to affirm the lifesaving choices that girls like Maddi have made in the face of this kind of pressure and uncertainty?

Debbie Capen was once in Runkles’ shoes and made the choice to abort – a choice she deeply regrets. Now she helps other young women in the same tough situation make the choice for life in her role as the executive director of Mira Via, a maternity home in the Charlotte, N.C., area geared toward helping young single moms choose life and college at the same time.

Historically affiliated with Catholic Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in the area, Mira Via – Latin for “miraculous way” — is a program that offers pregnant women and young moms in college the resources, instructions, shelter, and childcare they need for up to two years in order to finish a degree.

For Debbie Capen, programs like this are simply part of being consistently pro-life in an institution’s beliefs as well as its policies, especially when the choice for life is as counter-cultural as it is today.

“Society has taught that being burdened with a child is some sort of a punishment,” Capen tells me over the phone, with the baby in her lap audibly cooing in the background. “We live in a culture where everything is supposed to be as easy as possible and as pain-free as possible. So when young women come to us, it’s like they have a cloud over their head with all these worries and concerns and that it is the end of their lives and they don’t know where to go.”

However, the staff at Mira Via work to lift this cloud through education, assistance, and time to sort out those issues. Once those worries are dispelled, Capen says, the moms typically experience a sense of not only relief, but joy. This allows them “not to see the child as a punishment, but as a gift,” she adds. And she loves seeing that change take place.

“It’s one of the most amazing transformations,” Capen says. “To witness that moment where they realize that they don’t have to feel this pressure, that it’s up to them to choose the fate of this child, then they can welcome the child with joy. By the time they leave our program, they all can’t believe that they were so afraid of this.”

When asked about situations like the one described by the New York Times, Capen says that adding consequences to a situation that already has enough of them is unfair, unnecessary, and unhelpful.

“[The mother] cannot escape the visible consequence [of her actions], whereas the father of the child does not have a visible consequence that everyone can see,” she explains. “Consequences are natural. The child is the natural consequence to her situation that does not need to be added to with the component of shame.”

“This young woman may have fallen down in her own personal walk,” Capen concludes, “but now she has gotten up and chosen to take the next good step, and she should not be punished for taking the next good step.”

And while women staying at Mira Via can go to any school they wish, BAC also offers them assistance in the form of two years of free tuition to help them finish their degrees.

“For us as a college, we were put in a position to figure out how we could help,” explains BAC spokesman Rolando Rivas. “So, it was important for us to step up and do equally to what the monastery had done and try to find a way to help support these young ladies at this critical time.”

Mira Via was the first program of its kind in the U.S., but it is no longer alone. One of several other such programs is located at the College of St. Mary in Omaha (CSM). CSM’s Mother’s Living and Learning program is currently ranked number one in the nation for student residential maternity homes, according to the Cardinal Newman Society.

Lacy Dodd Miske got pregnant during her senior year at the University of Notre Dame in 1999. She was able to keep her child and her future career thanks to the support of pregnancy resource centers in the local community and her hometown, as well as a delayed active duty start date in the U.S. Army.

After a five-year stint in the military, she moved to Charlotte with her daughter, where she started her civilian career. She felt called to give back and worked at Mira Via. She served on the board of directors for six years, until a military assignment for her husband – whom she met and married after the birth of her daughter, now 17 – moved her away.

She too says that piling on to a young woman’s situation when she has chosen life is unnecessary.

“If a student becomes pregnant, a Christian school and community should show support for the young woman’s decision to have the baby and not create a stigma around it, whether at the high school or college level,” says Lacy. “It is a lack of resources which is a huge cause of abortion. Schools need to show more openness and support for the choice for life.”

Capen also shares some personal experience with the girls she helps. She herself had an abortion as a young woman because “she had no other choice.” Now she works with several young moms who have found themselves in the same place.

Capen recalls one instance at a pro-life rally where she was confronted by the director of an abortion clinic. Capen was holding a sign: “I regret my abortion.” She recalls how the director of the clinic came out and “stuck a finger in my face,” informing her that pro-lifers were, in her own view, “shaming women through the front door.”

“As someone who was post-abortive, I understood because I got it,” she says. “I did not want to disappoint anybody. I did not want to hurt anyone in my family.”

“By providing organizations like Mira Via,” she explains, “it alleviates all of those fears and shame factors” that drive women through the doors in the first place. (For more from the author of “These Practical Pro-Life Programs Help Moms Finish School” please click HERE)

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Are Gays and Lesbians Throwing One of Their Own Under the Bus?

Gay and lesbian websites have jumped all over recent research supposedly showing that Dan Savage’s immensely popular “It Gets Better” anti-gay bullying campaign — strongly endorsed by everyone from Hollywood celebrities to then-President Obama and Vice President Biden — does more harm than good.

Two things stand out about this. First, gays, lesbians, and their allies have a history of battling science that doesn’t support their agenda. Their usual claim is that the research is “flawed.” (George Yancey wrote on this recently for The Stream.) For some reason they didn’t do that this time. Instead they’re practically throwing Savage under the bus.

Second, this research — unlike many other studies that gay activists have objected to — really is hopelessly flawed. Or at least there’s nothing in it to support the conclusion that “It Gets Better” is bad for young gays and lesbians.

Now, I’m no fan of Dan Savage. You’ll see why in a moment. But I find it odd that these gays and lesbians seem so willing to steamroll him. I can’t help wondering whether it’s because they know he’s wrong, and he’s embarrassing them besides.

The story has many twists. I’ll start with Dan Savage himself.

Dan Savage, The Anti-Bullying Bully Who Wants to Say “It Gets Better”

Savage is a gay sex columnist and (in his own words) “potty-mouthed political pundit” who founded “It Gets Better” to reduce anti-gay bullying. He’s a bully himself (potty mouth warning ), so it’s clear he’s okay with that sort of behavior, just as long as it isn’t directed against his people. The hypocrisy is absolutely staggering.

He launched “It Gets Better” in 2010 with one video he co-produced along with his “partner” Terry Miller. It grew into a website featuring thousands of like-minded videos. President Obama, Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden all contributed videos to the project, along with many celebrities.

Savage summarized “It Gets Better” in a 2011 interview with NPR: “A bullied gay teenager who ends his life is saying that he can’t picture a future with enough joy in it to compensate for the pain he’s in now.” That’s true enough, and well worth working on. There’s no need to say “gay” in there, though. It’s the same for any bullied teen.

He added,

Things didn’t just get better for me. All of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults I knew were leading rich and rewarding lives. … People pursue happiness in different ways — but we all had so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to. Our lives weren’t perfect; there was pain, heartbreak and struggle. But our lives were better. Our lives were joyful.

That’s doubtful. It might even be dreaming on his part. I don’t know all the people Dan Savage knows, but I do know that solid research reported last fall in The New Atlantis shows that LGBT people are, on average, more emotionally troubled than the rest of the population. Their distress can’t be explained just by their being an “embattled minority” or any such thing. There’s something inherently distressing about homosexuality. From a biblical and natural law perspective, that something is easy to identify: homosexuality runs contrary to the way God designed us.

Gay Media and the University of Arizona Research

So young LGBT people have a lot to cope with. Of course that includes bullying. Their coping mechanisms were the subject of the research in question here. Gay media jumped all over its purported finding on “It Gets Better.”

Queerty said, “But new research finds the project [“It Gets Better”] might actually be doing more harm than good.” (Link not included because of objectionable content on the page.) The Washington Blade’s headline read, “‘It Gets Better’ may be harmful: study.” NewNowNext came right out and called it “bad advice.”

What the Study Really Shows

But that’s not what the study says. It didn’t examine “It Gets Better” at all. It did look into the effects of “imagining a better future,” which is only distantly related to the whole “It Gets Better” idea. “Imagining a better future” was just one item on a questionnaire, lumped together with three others: “Spending more time by yourself to figure things out,” “Just trying to put it all out of your mind” and “Avoiding other people.”

Because it was combined with these other items, all of which have something to do with pulling away, withdrawing or escaping, “Imagining a better future” in this case had very little to do with the active hope promoted by the “It Gets Better” project. Most survey respondents probably thought of it in terms of daydreaming: imagining that they would somehow magically turn straight, for example, or imagining the U.S. had a gay president.

That sort of impossible imagining doesn’t help people who are hurting — which is no news, by the way: social scientists have known it for decades. It’s not, however, what “It Gets Better” promotes.

Granted, the study’s lead researcher, Russell Toomey of the University of Arizona, told NewNowNext, “Our findings question the ’It Gets Better’ narrative that’s been given to LGB youth.” Scientists speak that way all the time, and what they generally mean by it is that here’s something unknown there, a question that calls for further study. Nothing more: there are no conclusions to be drawn, just a question. The study was a small one, by the way, and limited to the San Francisco Bay area. The report’s authors noted that it wasn’t strong enough to draw sweeping new conclusions.

It’s a long leap from “questioning the narrative” to the conclusion, “it’s bad advice,” but that’s where these gay websites took it.

Do They Know It Doesn’t Get That Much Better?

Thus we have one of gay activism’s most heavily promoted projects coming under some slight question; it doesn’t even amount to criticism. Gay websites haven’t denounced it as they usually do. They’re promoting it instead. Why?

Two possible explanations come to mind. I can’t prove either one is true, so I have to frame them as questions.

First, have they decided Dan Savage has been wrong all along? Have they realized it really doesn’t get that much better? Bullying may decrease as gays and lesbians get older, with the world celebrating homosexuality more and more these days. But bullying isn’t their only problem. Homosexuality really is strongly associated with depression and other emotional stresses, not all of which can be blamed on other people’s anti-gay attitudes. So I wonder whether they’re losing hope, as they find they’re still not experiencing the “rich” and “joyful” life Savage promised them.

Maybe They’re Embarrassed

And then there’s Dan Savage’s potty mouth and his non-stop bullying. Have they perhaps noticed his extreme profanity and his blatant hypocrisy, along with his failed promises of life getting better? Are they embarrassed by Dan Savage? They certainly should be.

Throw him under the bus? I don’t know, but this might be the excuse some of them have been waiting for. (For more from the author of “Are Gays and Lesbians Throwing One of Their Own Under the Bus?” please click HERE)

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A Sanctuary City … for Abortion?!

Sanctuary city jurisdictions are local governments that seek to trample upon and undermine the federal government’s constitutional role in enforcing immigration law by offering cover to illegal aliens. However, another sort of “sanctuary” legislation in the U.S. seeks to continually and legally trample the human conscience to protect abortion.

Religious groups in Missouri are now suing to overturn a St. Louis “abortion sanctuary” city ordinance that would have disastrous effects on the freedoms of religion, speech, and association. The AP reports:

A group of St. Louis Catholics filed a lawsuit against the city Monday over a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on “reproductive health decisions,” saying the law could force employers or landlords to go against their religious beliefs. The law, enacted in February, bars employers from hiring or firing people based on whether they have had an abortion, get pregnant outside of marriage, or use contraceptives or artificial insemination. Landlords also can’t refuse to rent to someone based on those criteria. Opponents say they law makes St. Louis a sanctuary city for abortion. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Roman Catholic grade schools operating under the Archdiocese of St. Louis; Our Lady’s Inn, a home for pregnant homeless women; and a private company whose owner is Catholic. It seeks to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.

“The passage of this bill is not a milestone of our city’s success,” said St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson at a public press conference after filing the lawsuit on Monday. “It is rather a marker of our city’s embrace of the culture of death.”

Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th ward, who originally sponsored the legislation, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

“We know that discrimination does exist. (The ordinance) was done to make sure we are protecting women in making their own medical choices,” Green said Monday, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

This is pure pro-abortion politician-ese.

Brushing past Alderwoman Green’s too-commonly-held assumption that abortion is simply just another “medical choice” — rather than a willful taking of human life (dressed up in a lab coat) — the ordinance does nothing to affect any St. Louisan’s ability to procure an abortion or means of contraception (aside from forcing employers to pay for the latter).

Rather, it seeks to elevate actions that just happen to be in concert with their worldview to a protected class (over the First Amendment rights of all else in the city who disagree with them), draping it all in the language of “anti-discrimination.”

And the measure goes far beyond just freedom of religion, but also freedom of speech as well. The law prohibits any housing or job listing “which expresses directly or indirectly any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination because of reproductive health decisions.”

At the same press conference on Monday in St. Louis, Thomas More Society special counsel Sarah Pitlyk said: “It’s like a page right out of George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ in which people could be prosecuted for ‘thought crimes.’

One has to wonder: Was there really an epidemic of landlords asking women for their medical history in the city? Are these sorts of questions commonplace, across the board, in St. Louis job interviews? If not, what other ends would this serve (aside from creating a means to punish those who disagree with the abortion lobby’s established orthodoxy)?

This is several steps past the contraception mandate that brought the owners of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Instead of making nonprofits violate their deeply held beliefs in order to merely remain operational, such abortion-sanctuary measures would actively undermine conservative groups’ own goals by forcing them to hire people whose worldviews fundamentally contradict the mission of pro-life organizations.

What this law implicitly teaches is that the killing of preborn children – and one’s support of the procedure – are in effect more important to the St. Louis government than the fundamental rights of conscience of anyone who dares disagree. It is not enough to be able to do so legally, but nobody may dissent to that action in any meaningful way, even with their own property.

The fundamental right of conscience are a sanctuary for the human soul. Now the federal courts will consider whether that ancient, inalienable refuge should even still exist in the city of St. Louis. (For more from the author of “A Sanctuary City … for Abortion?!” please click HERE)

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Promoting Islam in Our Schools

Memorizing the Islamic conversion prayer. Reciting the Five Pillars of Islam. Affirming that Christians are not as strong in their faith as Muslims. Several school districts across the nation are requiring their students to study Islam. And parents aren’t happy about it.

A 1963 Supreme Court decision allows for historical instruction about religions. But it seems that Islam is the only religion that is okay to promote. Some parents believe the Islamic teaching has gone too far. And now there’s a lawsuit.

The Court Opens the Door

The Supreme Court in Abington v. Schempp ruled that organized religious events violated the First Amendment. Schools could not require Bible reading or praying in class. But they could offer courses on the Bible or religion as a secular subject. The Court said that “education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization.”

Those who know Abington know it as the case that kicked Bible reading out of public education. But it left the door open for a historical study of the Christianity — or any other religion. Now the study of Islam is making its way into the school systems nationwide.

Islamic teaching in public schools has alarmed several parents. They believe it has crossed the line from a historical study to indoctrination. They believe that school districts are promoting Islam over other religions.

The Problem with Teaching Islam

A La Plata, California, High School parent brought a lawsuit against the school. John Kevin Wood and his wife said that his daughter’s school required her to complete assignments that endorsed Islam.

The school required her to affirm that “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.” The school required all students to recite the Islamic conversion prayer. The prayer, called the Shahada, states that “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” The school also required students to profess the Five Pillars of Islam.

Wood said his daughter’s school forced her to write statements that offended and denied her Christian beliefs. When she refused to complete the assignments, she received failing grades. Her teacher sent her to the school library away from her classmates. As a result, she felt ostracized because of her Christian beliefs.

Wood contacted the school and asked for alternative assignments. The school’s principal refused. Wood informed the principal that he would contact an attorney and the media. The school then reportedly responded by obtaining a restraining order against Wood. He could no longer pick up his daughter on school property or attend parent-teacher meetings.

La Plata High School did not teach Christianity the same way as Islam, according to Wood. Christianity was taught for one day—disparagingly. Islam was taught for two weeks—sympathetically. The lesson did not require students to learn any of Christianity’s tenets, faith statements or creeds. Nor were the students required to learn any of Judaism’s.

It Happens in Other Schools Too

It happens in other schools, too. Parents across the country have complained that their child’s school required them to:

Dress up as a Muslim, learn prayers and scriptures from the Quran;

Memorize the Five Pillars of Islam and listen to a Muslim prayer;

Memorize and recite the Shahada, or the conversion prayer; and

Write the Shahada in Arabic as part of a calligraphy lesson.

Parents of students at several schools complain that teachers do not teach non-Muslim religions. And that is the crux of the issue for many parents.

The Ten Commandments would never be a lesson requirement, said one New Jersey mom. “If Islam is taught, teach Christianity, too. [My son] couldn’t even put a Bible verse in his presentation that was student-initiated. So they’re not only teaching Islam, but they’re not allowing students to be free in expressing their [Christian] religious beliefs.”

Many school districts indoctrinate students in Islam, said Thomas More Law Center President Richard Thompson. “This is happening in public schools across the country. And [parents] must take action to stop it.”

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause

The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from establishing a religion. The Supreme Court decided in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) that a three-part test would govern what constitutes “establishment of a religion.” Under the “Lemon test,” government can make laws or policy about religion if the reason for the law is secular, it neither promotes nor inhibits religion, and it doesn’t excessively entangle church and state.

Teaching about Islam in schools may not seem at first glance to be a problem. But the law is clear that the government may not adhere to, promote or inhibit a particular religion. This includes public school districts. Teaching Islam as a secular subject along with other religions equally is lawful. When the teaching of Islam promotes the religion above others, that is against the law. This is found in the Establishment Clause of our First Amendment.

The First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University stated these lessons can go too far. In particular, some “hands-on” activities border on unconstitutional endorsement of religion. They added, “Would any of these schools dream of acting out the Catholic Mass or inviting a Protestant minister to give a sermon in the gym?”

Even if school districts have good intentions, they can still cross the line, the Center noted. “However well-intentioned, including religions and cultures by violating the Constitution doesn’t help anyone. … All of us have an important stake in making sure that First Amendment principles are applied fairly and justly to each and every individual and group in the United States.” (For more from the author of “Promoting Islam in Our Schools” please click HERE)

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Charges: Sex Traffickers Took Hundreds From Thailand to US

Hundreds of women were brought from Thailand to the U.S. and forced to be “modern day sex slaves,” according to an indictment unsealed Thursday that charges high-level members of what authorities called a sophisticated sex-trafficking ring that concealed millions of dollars in earnings.

The indictment brings the total number of people charged to 38, making it one of the largest sex-trafficking prosecutions in the U.S., said Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker. Authorities say the operation lured Thai women to the U.S. with promises of a better life, then forced them to work as prostitutes until they could pay off often insurmountable bondage debts.

Women were rotated through several prostitution houses around the U.S., forced to work long hours, and “forced to have sex with strangers, even if the men were abusive,” Brooker said. (Read more from “Charges: Sex Traffickers Took Hundreds From Thailand to US” HERE)

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Harvard Law Journal: Unborn Babies Are Constitutional Persons

“Harvard law journal: unborn babies are constitutional persons.” So reads the surprising headline on the press release from the student-run Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. In a provocative article, law student Joshua Craddock fires a challenge not only at pro-choice orthodoxy but at mainstream pro-life thinking. He declares both “constitutionally unsound.”

Edited by Harvard Law School students, the journal describes itself as “the nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship.” New Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch’s article on assisted suicide first appeared there. Ted Cruz was an executive editor.

Before he went to law school, Craddock worked for Personhood USA, a United Nations NGO. A recent graduate of King’s College in New York City, he has written for The Stream.

The Article’s Challenge

Craddock’s article challenges the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decisions. The majority of the Court since 1973’s Roe v. Wade refuses to decide whether an unborn child is a human being with human rights. The court basically says, “Who knows? So we’ll say no.”

The justices think other matters are more important than the answer. One of them is the belief found in the majority decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” A definition of personhood “formed under compulsion of the State” would keep people from exercising this liberty. So the justices believe.

The article also challenges the broad agreement among pro-life legal scholars that the Constitution doesn’t say anything on the issue. Most speak as “originalists,” people who try to find what the Constitution meant to those who wrote and approved it.

Most conservative legal scholars claim that the Constitution doesn’t deal with the nature of the unborn at all. Conservative judicial hero Antonin Scalia declared that the Constitution says “absolutely nothing” about abortion. It assumes only “walking-around persons” are real human beings, he once said.

These scholars would leave the decision to the political process. That means the state governments. This allows what Scalia called “regional differences.” In their idea of the Constitution, an unborn child might be protected in one state and killed at any moment until birth in the next one. Craddock calls this “the states’ rights view.”

They’re Both Wrong

Craddock thinks they’re both wrong. Pro-choicers and pro-lifers both misinterpret the Constitution. The “original” meaning includes the unborn child’s right to life.

He focuses on the Fourteenth Amendment, passed in 1868. No state, it declares, shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Whatever the original Constitution may have to say on abortion, Craddock argues that amendment includes the unborn among the “persons” whose rights it protects. They can’t be deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” They, just as much as born persons, have the Constitution right to “the equal protection of the laws.”

Craddock provides three arguments: What the word person meant then, the anti-abortion laws of the time, and what the people who wrote the amendment said about it, all show that the amendment includes the unborn.

Take the state anti-abortion laws in place before the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted. Almost every state had laws against abortion, he notes. Most of these laws were part of the law covering “offenses against the person.” In addition, 23 of the 37 states explicitly called the unborn child a “child” in their laws. Six of the 11 territories did so as well.

Craddock offers other evidence. In 1859, the American Medical Association demanded the government protect the “independent and actual existence of the child before birth.” Eight years later, the Medical Society of New York called abortion at any stage of the child’s life “murder.”

This and much other evidence shows that “a general consensus treated preborn human beings as ‘persons.’ … [T]he preborn were included within the public meaning of the term ‘person’ at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.” Therefore the amendment itself considers the unborn to be persons with the right to life.

A New Birth of Freedom

States that allow abortions violate the Constitution, Craddock declares in his conclusion. “Congress or the courts must intervene.” For example, if a state allows the unborn to be killed but prosecutes the murderers of other groups of people, it denies the unborn the equal protection of the laws. A higher authority must act to protect the lives of the unborn.

If Craddock is right, the Supreme Court may finally base its rulings on what the Constitution assumes about the unborn. “The Fourteenth Amendment,” Craddock concludes, “was to be a new birth of freedom for all human beings.” (For more from the author of “Harvard Law Journal: Unborn Babies Are Constitutional Persons” please click HERE)

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Horrifying Video From Abortion Conference Shows Utter Disregard for Human Life

Lawyers for Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden released a new video on Thursday that exposed horrifying statements from leaders within the abortion industry. The video footage was obtained at National Abortion Federation conventions that took place in California in 2014 and 2015.

The National Abortion Federation describes itself as “the professional association of abortion providers.” It “exhibits and presents at numerous conferences … about topics related to abortion care.”

The video notes that “Planned Parenthood makes up about 50 percent of [the National Abortion Federation’s] members and leadership.”

The video opens with a Planned Parenthood medical director speaking on a panel about “heads that get stuck” and the “hemorrhages that we manage.”

She is later seen telling a panel: “Given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here, ask me why I come to work every day. Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.”

A Planned Parenthood abortionist then complains about how an unborn child “is a tough little object” and is “very difficult” to take apart.

A lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union is heard remarking, “When the skull is broken, that’s really sharp!” as the crowd laughs about the difficulty of “getting that skull out.”

Another Planned Parenthood official is seen speaking on a panel recalling that an “eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!” as the crowd laughs.

A procurement manager from StemExpress is seen commenting that there are “a lot of clinics that we work with that, I mean, it helps them out significantly.”

A Planned Parenthood official later says that “[t]he truth is that some might want to do it … to increase their revenues. And we can’t stop them.”

One would think the state of California would be concerned about what was said at these conferences.

But instead of looking into potential illegal profits from the transfer of fetal tissue, California is charging Center for Medical Progress journalists with 15 felonies for bringing these troubling questions to light in the first place.

California argues that the Center for Medical Progress unlawfully recorded the subjects of undercover videos without their consent.

When the charges were announced, Casey Mattox, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Signal that even in two-party consent states like California, “It’s well understood as a matter of First Amendment law that people have a right to be able to record their own conversations.”

He added:

These were publicly recorded conversations, they were recorded in restaurants and other places where Planned Parenthood officials should not have expected they had any privacy at all. I find it fascinating that the state of California is apparently very concerned about the privacy of Planned Parenthood officials, and much less concerned about getting to the truth of Planned Parenthood actually engaging in violations of the law by selling baby body parts.

As this concerning case makes its way through court, Americans should remember that Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year.

Today’s video once again demonstrates the urgent need for policymakers to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, and other abortion providers once and for all.

Funding could instead be redirected to centers that provide health care for women without entanglement in on-demand abortion.

Congress has the opportunity to deny Planned Parenthood certain federal funds in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare by ensuring the language includes a provision (just as the 2015 version of the bill did) that would disqualify Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill.

Ultimately, Congress should send the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which passed in the House of Representatives in January, to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature. (For more from the author of “Horrifying Video From Abortion Conference Shows Utter Disregard for Human Life” please click HERE)

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Exposing the Lies: Continuing the Legacy of America’s ‘Abortion King’

“A medical education is not a philosophical education,” writes Charles K. Bellinger at Public Discourse. It’s the first line of his article about the new book by “Christian” abortion doctor Willie Parker, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.

Christian abortion doctor? Sure, why not? I’m told there are Christian porn stars too and goodness only knows what else.

Parker, let it be said, has moved on from his Bible-believing past to the liberal mainline Christianity he now practices. And since most Protestant Mainline churches today believe little more than the platform of the left wing of the Democratic Party — including support abortion or get out — I’m sure he fits right in.

Despite the title, Parker’s book, according to Bellinger is a philosophical and theological wasteland. It brims, he writes, with clichés, contradictions and outright lies. Bellinger sites, for example, this bit of nonsense: “As a Christian and as a scientist, I can authoritatively attest that life does not begin at conception.” That’s genuine anti-science.

Bellinger concludes, “In sum, the pro-choice worldview is fully on display in this book, with all of its ignorance, arrogance, and violence.” And why not? Abortion in America was founded on lies designed to encourage ignorance, arrogance and violence.

America’s ‘Abortion King’

That’s the message of the new book by Terry Beatley, What If We’ve Been Wrong?: Keeping My Promise to America’s “Abortion King.” The book is the result of an interview she conducted with Dr. Bernard Nathanson shortly before his death in 2011.

In the 1960s, Nathanson co-founded the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He aggressively lobbied and propagandized for unrestricted abortion. He convinced Planned Parenthood to get into the abortion business. And he grew rich performing abortions and instructing others to do the same.

But ultrasound imaging emerged in the 1970s. Nathanson suddenly had the ability to see what was going on in an abortion. He began to rethink his position. As a result, he reversed not just his view of abortion, but the entire course of his life.

Nathanson left NARAL. He left his abortion practice. And he left the abortion movement to become a passionate pro-life advocate. He worked to expose what he called “the dishonest beginnings of the abortion movement.” Dishonest beginnings that he created by crafting deceitful public relations campaigns based on slogans, invented statistics, personal attacks and outright lies.

Nathanson also forsook his “atheistic Judaism” and was baptized into the Catholic Church in 1996.

The ‘Facts’ Behind the Abortion Industry

In his own writings, Nathanson admitted that even NARAL’s board minutes included “nonsensical medical and scientific claims.” Those claims included the widely reported “statistic” that, prior to 1973, sixty percent of Americans favored unrestricted abortion. It was, Beatley notes, probably closer to half a percent.

Beatley writes that Nathanson “acknowledged that the bigger the lies, the more likely Americans would believe them … By simply repeating the slogans and false data, the media created its own narrative and the doctor’s lies became the marketed ‘truth,’” concluding, “It was propaganda and it worked.” It worked in the court of public opinion and it worked in the Supreme Court’s misbegotten Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

And as Willie Parker’s book indicates, it’s still working.

Unexamined assumptions, entrenched worldviews, and the “facts everybody knows” continue to empower abortion advocacy. They help fund the abortion industry. They sear consciences. They poison our politics. And they result in the deaths of millions of unborn children.

Telling the Truth in the Face of Old Lies

In her book, Terry Beatley weaves her own story of pro-life advocacy with Nathanson’s. Hence the subtitle of the book: Keeping My Promise to America’s “Abortion King.”

Her promise wasn’t to write a book. Nathanson told most of the story himself in his book Aborting America and the film The Silent Scream. Her promise was to continue Nathanson’s legacy of telling the truth in the face of lies. These are the popular old lies Nathanson created.

Willie Parker’s book is a clear indication that many in America have not tired of those old lies. Perhaps Terry Beately’s book can act as an antidote for the American’s who have had quite enough of the lies by now.

As Fr. Paul Scalia wrote about the book, “Terry was tasked by the cofounder of NARAL … to teach the truth of how he used propaganda to deceive Supreme Courts justices, legislators and the American public. He equipped Terry with the truth. Now it’s our turn to listen, learn, and respond to the truth.” (For more from the author of “Exposing the Lies: Continuing the Legacy of America’s ‘Abortion King'” please click HERE)

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Christian School Bans Pregnant Senior From Graduation, Pro-Lifers Respond

Maddi Runkles is an excellent student. She attends the small Christian school Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland. She was the student council president and an officer in the Key Club at her school. But she won’t get the chance to walk across the stage at graduation next month. Maddi is pregnant.

Maddi found out that she was pregnant in January. She briefly considered an abortion but soon rejected that idea. Her parents supported her decision to choose life for her baby.

Maddi’s Unique Consequences

Maddi’s father and then-school board president, Scott Runkles, broke the news to Heritage Academy that his daughter was pregnant. Maddi was removed from her leadership positions in the student council and Key Club. Then she served a two-day suspension.

Maddi knew there would be other consequences, “because I did break the school code.” Students are required to sign a contract stating that they will not have sex outside of marriage. Heritage’s statement of faith requrires that “no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of the marriage commitment between a man and a woman.”

Maddi said she is being treated differently than other students. Other students have broken the contract, but only faced suspension. “I told on myself,” she said. “I asked for forgiveness. I asked for help.”

Principal Dave Hobbs was going to tell the school about Maddi’s pregnancy, but Maddi decided to do it herself. Her dad read half of her prepared statement while Maddi composed herself. She admitted her mistake but also said she chose life for her child. “It was embarrassing, but I wanted my peers and my friends to hear it from me.”

No Graduation

Scott said that some board members and staff thought Maddi should be allowed to participate in graduation. Others, including Hobbs, did not.

Hobbs did not respond to The Stream’s request for a statement prior to publication. However, Hobbs told The New York Times that Maddi’s pregnancy is “an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place.”

Some are concerned about the message other students will get if the school allows Maddi to participate in the graduation ceremony. Rick Kempton, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Christian Schools International, addressed the issue. “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

Christian Grace?

Others wonder where grace is in all of this. Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, told The Stream in a statement that Maddi needs encouragement and support, not shaming. “Very often when a young woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy, shame is a factor in her decision to choose to carry her child to term, or not,” she said.

Shame can be the difference between a woman choosing life or death. I can certainly appreciate the code of conduct at the school, but what this young woman needs now is encouragement and real, tangible help and support. What will happen to another young woman at this school who gets pregnant? The precedent set forth in this situation is not life-affirming.”

Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins said, “She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed. Hawkins unsuccessfully petitioned the principal to let Maddi graduate. “There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way.”

Scott resigned as school board president because of how his daughter was treated. “[I]n situations where you have a genuinely repentant student like Maddi,” he said, “grace and love should always have prominence over discipline.”

In a separate statement on Heritage Academy’s website, Hobbs said it concerned him that Heritage folks thought that he and the Board were “harsh, cruel, hard-hearted men.” Yet he said that the kind of grace he could offer Maddi was discipline in the “application of love.” He added, “The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her immorality that began this situation.”

Maddi’s Struggles

Maddi struggles with the seeming contradiction of a pro-life Christian school that shames a pregnant young woman. “Some pro-life people are against the killing of unborn babies, but they won’t speak out in support of the girl who chooses to keep her baby,” she said. “Honestly, that makes me feel like maybe the abortion would have been better. Then they would have just forgiven me, rather than deal with this visible consequence.”

But Students for Life stepped in and provided the support that Maddi needed. Last month Maddi spoke at Students for Life’s #Sockit2PP on Capitol Hill when pro-life leaders asked Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

Surrounded by a mountain of baby socks representing abortions Planned Parenthood performed, Maddi talked about her unexpected pregnancy. “I look at all these socks, and that could have been my baby,” she said. “But I choose to let my baby wear these socks. I know it’s going to be hard, I know it’s going to be really hard, to still accomplish all my goals and all my dreams. But I get to have a little guy following right next to me. And we get to do it together.” (For more from the author of “Christian School Bans Pregnant Senior From Graduation, Pro-Lifers Respond” please click HERE)

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Faux Life? Why a Texas ‘Pro-Life’ Org Fought a Dismemberment Ban

A proposed law to stop a gruesome abortion procedure has made its way through the Texas state legislature, but it is running into some surprising opposition from an organization that bills itself as pro-life.

A provision to ban the performance of dismemberment (also known as D&E and D&X) abortions, except in the case of a “medical emergency,” passed the state senate back in March and the House on Friday.

However, some of the opposition to the bill’s passage might surprise anyone not familiar with abortion politics in the Lone Star State. While pushback from major pro-abortion groups is to be expected, one pro-life group has been actively campaigning against the measure. Texas Alliance for Life, and its executive director, Joe Pojman, spent months leading up to the final House vote, recommending that the legislature reject the ban on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

For reference, this is exactly what happens during a dismemberment abortion:

During one of these procedures, the preborn child is ripped apart in utero before being pulled out through the birth canal piece-by-piece.

But efforts to ban the practice have been thus far opposed by Pojman’s group, which sent out a letter to state legislators urging them to vote against the measure.

Furthermore, for an organization that is dedicated to “protect[ing] innocent human life from conception through natural death through peaceful, legal means,” Texas Alliance for Life stood alone in its opposition to the bill, as several other pro-life organizations lined up behind the legislation.

If the measure were to become law, the letter speculates to lawmakers, “it would not survive a federal court challenge” because of rulings in previous cases, even though the ruling would occur in the 5th Circuit (which is perhaps the most friendly court in the federal system because of its makeup).

Empower Texans, a conservative state-level grassroots organization, explains on its website that Texas Alliance for Life’s Joe Pojman testified on the bill before the committee in February, and recommended that the legislature not pass it, alongside activists from the National Abortion Rights Action League, better known as NARAL.

“Pojman’s remarks today plant dangerous land mines in the way of any legal strategy to defend SB 415 if it passes and is challenged in court,” said Tony McDonald, Empower Texans’ general counsel, at the time. “Abortion groups will use Pojman’s testimony as a ‘confession’ that SB 415 is so ‘extreme’ that even pro-life groups are opposing it.”

And that very thing happened at the 11th hour.

Prior to the vote on Friday, Jessica Farrar, a staunchly pro-abortion Democrat state representative, invoked Pojman’s testimony while speaking in against the provision, which was attached as an amendment to a larger legislative package, on the House floor.

“Are you aware that Texas Alliance for Life testified against this bill in the senate committee?” Farrar publicly asked of Republican Representative Stephanie Klick, contending that the measure was “unconstitutional.”

Pojman responded to Empower Texans’ claims, calling them inaccurate and saying that his testimony was “on” the bill and that he did not take a side (before diving into his reasons for not supporting the bill).

Texas Right to Life Legislative Director John Seago disputes the assertions, however, saying that they are based on what he calls a “fundamental flaw their assessment of the policy” that runs parallel to many pro-abortion criticism of the legislation.

Counter to such judicial concerns, the prevailing reasoning among many pro-life advocates in favor of outlawing the procedure argues that – since the legislation bans a procedure outright – it would fall in line with the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that upheld the 2003 national partial-birth abortion ban, off of which Seago says the current language in Austin is based.

“[Opponents] have read the bill and understand the bill to be prohibiting all D+E abortions,” Seago told Conservative Review. “That is a gross mischaracterization of the bill, just like the partial birth abortion ban doesn’t prohibit all late abortions; it prohibits one specific procedure.”

“Some pro-lifers are worried about going to court,” he says, admitting that any such litigation is a gamble on some level. “But we understand, the pro-life movement lives in the shadow of Roe v. Wade and the only way we’re going to take down this legal edifice is by working in the courts,” like it did with the partial-birth ban.

“That doesn’t worry us,” Seago said. “That’s how the movement has to move forward.”

“I can’t understand TAL’s objections to a dismemberment ban — I don’t get it at all,” says JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America, who has been a conservative activist in Texas for over 20 years.

“I’ve seen the objection about how the court will unravel it and this, that and the other, that and the other,” she adds, but “If we have to fight for life in the courts, then we simply take the fight to the courts. We don’t withdraw from that fight just because we might have to do battle in court.”

To Pojman’s assertions that the current legislation will not save any lives in effect, Seago points to similar criticisms made about the partial birth debate and of pain-capable bills, which have both proven to decrease abortion rates.

However, critics say aren’t surprised by TAL’s opposition to the ban, as they say the group has previously fought to either dilute or otherwise obfuscate pro-life legislation in the state. Republican Representative and Texas Freedom Caucus member Matt Rinaldi claims that the group has sought to water down other legislation before, such as the original version of a 2011 sonogram bill.

“They’ll pick bills [to support] that don’t really accomplish much,” explains Rinaldi. “They act as a cover group for leadership in killing pro-life reforms.”

Rinaldi tells Conservative Review that he views Texas Alliance’s efforts to weaken or oppose stronger pro-life bills as “disgusting,” mainly because they are supported by funds from pro-life donors.

“Their donors and supports don’t realize that they’re being had,” Rinaldi said. “I think it’s despicable.”

Responding to Rinaldi’s statements, Pojman put forward TAL’s list of legislative priorities this session, calling the agenda both “aggressive and substantive.”

“Our goal is to protect unborn children from abortions throughout pregnancy,” reads an emailed statement from Pojman to Conservative Review. “However, we do not recommend that the Legislature pass the dismemberment ban this session because it will not sustain an inevitable court challenge. There are not sufficient votes on the US Supreme Court to uphold it.”

Meanwhile, the group’s critics say, the organization also provides cover for establishment Republicans who would rather not take the heat for voting in favor of stronger pro-life legislation, but still want to don a pro-life mantle come election time.

Chronicling documented financial exchange between House leadership and TAL, Empower Texans’ executive director Michael Q. Sullivan wrote in a 2015 op-ed at Breitbart News that the group’s rhetoric about the pro-life bona fides of certain members of the legislative leadership – most notably state Speaker Joe Straus – did an “about face” following a large influx of cash to the nonprofit’s political action committee. Pojman responded to Sullivan, calling the assertions “misinformation.”

Disagreements over how to best protect the unborn, however, are not specific to a few policy groups in the Lone Star State nor a single dismemberment bill, Seago told CR. Rather, they are endemic of a tactical split in the pro-life movement as a whole.

Whereas some pro-life organizations develop their political priorities based on where the movement needs to go, he says, “Unfortunately, all I’ve seen some pro-life groups in Texas and other states do is show up and see what the politicians give them” and then tout those items as priorities.

“You can’t just give [elected officials] cover,” Seago says against this approach. “The pro-life movement really has to objectively determine where we need to go and then hold our politicians accountable.” (For more from the author of “Faux Life? Why a Texas ‘Pro-Life’ Org Fought a Dismemberment Ban” please click HERE)

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