Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform - See it. Believe it. End it. en Meet the interns: Tikvah Gilman <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>What motivated you to join the pro-life movement? What continues to motivate you?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>In the summer of 2014 there was a war between Hamas and Israel. Protests were being done all over the world by people who wanted peace. One day I was reading an article about a particular protest in Calgary, Alberta. The protest was peaceful until the anti-protesters came to the scene. They started chanting, “Death to the Jews,” and they were doing the Hitler salute, pushing the Jewish people down to the ground, and spitting on them. It was painful realizing that there were people in my own country who wanted me and my family to be dead just because we were Jewish. I felt so small. So angry. I didn’t get it. A couple of days later I was going to the GTA to volunteer with CCBR doing activism. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel like stepping outside of my comfort zone. I never enjoyed speaking to people about controversial subjects. As I sat thinking about my people, the Jewish people, I couldn’t help but think of the 300 pre-born babies who were being killed that day and who would be killed the next day, and the next. Then this thought came to me, “If people were coming to kill me and my family, wouldn’t I want someone to get in the way between us and them? This is what I need to do for the pre-born. I need to get in the way between the pre-born children and those who want to end their life.” That is what motivated me that week of activism and that thought continues to motivate me.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>When did you first come into contact with CCBR?</b></span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4122" title="" width="415" height="416" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I first heard of CCBR through my sister in 2012 when she did the summer internship.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>What made you choose this organization?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>CCBR gives excellent training and their projects are very effective. I also must say their staff are pretty great people.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>If you had to name your greatest challenge in joining the pro-life movement, what would it be?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Probably the fact that I don’t really like controversy. :)&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>What do you hope you will learn from CCBR this summer?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I hope to become a more effective and compassionate pro-life ambassador, and learn how to train others to do the same.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>What has been your best experience in the pro-life movement so far? Why?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I have had some pretty great experiences with the pro-life movement but hands down my best experience would have been last summer when I did CCBR’s high-school internship! Every day I got to witness hearts and minds being changed and lives being saved. And I got to do it alongside some of the most selfless, loving, wonderful people out there.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>Who in history inspires you to believe you can make a change? Why?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>So many people inspire me! However, the first one that comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr. He was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He stood up and took action for what is right even though it wasn’t going to be safe or easy. I want to be like him.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>If you were a coloured animal, what would you be?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I would be a Pink Pony.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span><b>You'll be doing activism outside all summer, so this one's important: ice cream or slushies?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I am going to have to go with slushies because a slushie is happiness in a cup.</span></p> Abortion Activism intern Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tikvah Gilman Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:25:06 +0000 jcvanmaren 5523 at Tomi Lahren defended abortion. She's wrong, and it matters. <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>Tomi Lahren styles herself a “young, conservative woman”—and her sharp rise as a TV show host, she says, is an indication that there is an audience hungry for her message, which she’s described in the past as “anti-feminist.” Her show <em>Tomi</em> on The Blaze is wildly popular, mainly for her consistent defences of Donald Trump, and her young audience loves her for her willingness to face off with left-wing commentators like Trevor Noah of the <em>Daily Show</em>.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4117" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>Considering her growing influence in conservative circles, especially women, it was very disappointing to hear Lahren defend abortion during her debut appearance on <em>The View</em>. “I’m pro-choice and here is why,” she said. “I am&nbsp;someone that loves the Constitution, I am someone that is for limited government, so I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies. Stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.”</p><p>Lahren may be a fresh voice on many issues, but on abortion she trots out the same stale, debunked talking points the abortion movement has been using out for years. For starters, <a href="" rel="nofollow">there is no constitutional right to abortion</a>. The creators of Roe v. Wade produced a ruling so terrible—even from the legal perspective—that even many abortion supporters have <a href="" rel="nofollow">admitted</a> it. Legal scholar John Hart Ely, a supporter of abortion, wrote in the Yale Law Journal that Roe v. Wade is “bad constitutional law, or rather…it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”</p><p>Lahren’s appeal to limited government is also ridiculous. Whatever one’s opinion on government, from the left end of the spectrum to the right, the one thing we should all be able to agree on is that the government’s duty is to protect people from one another. At a bare minimum, the government should uphold the simple right of human beings not to be killed by other human beings. Even the smallest of governments have an obligation to defend fundamental human rights, the right to life being first among them.</p><p>Which brings us to Lahren’s final point on abortion, the assertion that women should have the right to do what they want with their bodies. Well, sure. But that’s not the point. The human being developing in the womb is <em>not</em> part of the mother’s body. This is a simple scientific fact. What Tomi Lahren is advocating for here is a procedure in which someone actually has to force open the woman’s cervix in order to use tools to either suction the tiny girl or boy into bloody slurry, or actually dismember the baby piece by piece, reassembling the shattered child on a tray afterwards to ensure that all body parts have been evicted from the uterus.</p><p>It's a shame when young commentators with growing audiences choose to use their influence this way. It’s a shame when the same tired but still lethally dangerous ideas are promoted to huge numbers of people who need to know the truth about abortion. I can only hope that Tomi Lahren will realize that her point of view has nothing to do with limited government or women’s rights, and everything to do with the threatened lives of human beings in the womb.&nbsp;</p> Abortion Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Choice Pro-Life The View Tomi Lahren News Commentary Fri, 17 Mar 2017 21:04:18 +0000 jvanmaren 5521 at Meet the interns: Ewa Lasota <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>What motivated you to join the pro-life movement? What continues to motivate you?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>The prospective of changing minds and hearts on the issue of abortion motivated me to join the pro-life movement. Every day pre-born children are dismembered and decapitated. Every person can make a difference.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>When did you first come into contact with CCBR?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>My friend Oriyana Hrycyshyn, a summer intern, told me about CCBR.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4114" title="" width="266" height="425" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>What made you choose this organization?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>CCBR’s strategy and use of abortion victim photography is extremely effective and compelling. Furthermore, the organization is made up of people whose dedication and passion are truly inspirational and whose loving and compassionate hearts make all the difference.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>If you had to name your greatest challenge in joining the pro-life movement, what would it be?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>It’s not easy to talk to strangers, let alone talk to strangers about abortion. The greatest challenge of joining the pro-life movement has probably been the necessity to step out of my comfort zone to engage people in conversation.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>What do you hope you will learn from CCBR this summer?&nbsp;</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I hope to learn how to effectively communicate the pro-life message and to do so with compassion and understanding. I would also like to learn how to equip others to do the same.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>What has been your best experience in the pro-life movement so far? Why?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Participating in the Human Rights Project in Florida has definitely been my best experience in the pro-life movement! The opportunity to engage in conversations about abortion with university students has opened my eyes to the pain and suffering present in todays society and has thus allowed me to grow in love and compassion, and also to reach out and be loving to others. Seeing somebody’s eyes light up because they realize they are loved is such a humbling and rewarding experience!</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>Who in history inspires you to believe you can make a change? Why?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“ On August 17, 1948, Mother Teresa – a European nun alone in newly independent India – set out to begin life as a Missionary of Charity. ” What started out with one woman’s desire to answer a call from God became a lifelong work of service to the poorest of the poor that spread all around the world. The humility and love with which Mother Teresa served the poor inspires me to step out of my comfort zone and share the truth with those who have not yet seen it or have hardened their hearts to it. We don’t have to do great things; all it takes is little things done with great love.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>If you were a coloured animal, what would you be?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I would be a sea otter because they hold paws when they sleep and baby otters get to sleep directly on their mothers’ bellies!&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>You'll be doing activism outside all summer, so this one's important: ice cream or slushies?</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Ice cream!</span></p> Abortion Activism Ewa Lasota intern Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tue, 14 Mar 2017 12:48:28 +0000 jcvanmaren 5519 at Miracles <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:13px">By Gerrit Van Dorland</p><p>I put the van in drive and turned my left signal on. Checking my blind spot before merging into traffic, I catch one last glimpse of the red brick building with white pillars. There is nothing unordinary about the building. It could pass for a typical American bungalow. To the right side of the building, a small green, rectangular sign reads: Orlando Women’s Center. I forced my attention back to the road. The rain patters lightly on the windshield and music plays softly in the background. I look in my rear-view mirror—everyone is lost in thought, deeply affected by what we had just seen. I drive on, supressing the emotions that well up. I turn the music up somewhat.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4100" title="" width="415" height="277" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p><em>In this time of fear</em></p><p><em>When prayer so often proved in vain</em></p><p><em>Hope seemed like the summer birds</em></p><p><em>Too swiftly flown away…</em></p><p>A song called “When you Believe” is playing.&nbsp;The lyrics resonate with me. <em>In this time of fear . . . </em>Fear. Fear for humanity. Fear for the mothers who were inside the women’s center that morning. Fear for the choice they had made—or fear for what they had been forced into by their “friends.” Fear for the little boy with brown curly hair and big brown eyes, who was holding his father’s hand tightly as they exited the clinic. Fear, for his precious sibling, along with the other children at the abortion clinic, because that morning, on February 22, 2017, they had been scheduled to die: scheduled to be torn apart, piece by piece, by an abortion doctor.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Hope seemed like the summer birds, too swiftly flown away. </em>Hopelessness. Helplessness. The slaughter was taking place just a few feet away from me, behind that ordinary red brick wall, and there was nothing I could do about it. Someone should have reached these women long before they ever considered the thought of having an abortion. Someone should have talked to them about real options long before they were scared. Someone should have told them the truth before they were left feeling helpless, before they believed the lie that abortion was their only option. These women were the victim of many lies—lies of the left, lies of the Devil.</p><p>“It’s just tissue,” they were told. “It’s not killing. It’s not human. You can’t take care of your child. No one wants to help you with your child. No one really cares. You deserve the right to an abortion. Do with your body what you want—after all it’s your body, your choice.” Truth and love had not reached these women on time, and that is why we found them there at the Orlando Women’s Center that morning. These women thought this was their only way out. Society had failed them. We have failed them. Now, all there was left to do was pray.</p><p><em>God can still perform a miracle, </em>I thought. He could still incline the women to exit the clinic. And so, hanging onto that feeble hope, we prayed that the slaughter would end. We begged God that these little boys and girls would be protected—that they would live to see the light of day. We pleaded with the women at the clinic that they would change their minds and allow us to help them.</p><p><em>In our hearts a hopeful song</em></p><p><em>We barely understood . . .</em></p><p>As we prayed, we heard the door open. A young mother, visibly pregnant, stepped outside. She stood for a moment, looking at us as we sat to the side, and then slowly made her way towards John Barros. John stands outside the Orlando abortion clinic every day, showing love and compassion to the women and their children, offering his help to them and pleading that they will spare their tiny child. This woman had heard his pleading, and God had heard our prayers. By His divine will, her twenty-two week old child would live. He would get a name for his own. He would get to take first steps. He would get to laugh, play, stare at the many stars, and wonder at the magnificence of the universe.</p><p>The rain came down a little harder, and I flipped the wipers up a notch. The chorus started. I turned the volume up again:</p><p><em>There can be miracles</em></p><p><em>When you believe</em></p><p><em>Though hope is frail</em></p><p><em>It's hard to kill</em></p><p><em>Who knows what miracles</em></p><p><em>You can achieve</em></p><p><em>When you believe</em></p><p><em>Somehow you will</em></p><p><em>You will when you believe</em></p><p>The lyrics sank deep into my heart, and an overwhelming feeling swept over me. Indeed, there can be miracles—we had witnessed two that morning—two mothers chose life. Two beautiful babies would be spared the sharp forceps of death. There can be miracles, when you believe—when you believe.</p><p>Yes, we live in a dark world. The remaining children still died at the Orlando Women’s Center that day. Thousands of other children still fall victim to abortion every single day. Thousands of boys and girls will never see the light of day. They will never get to soak up the warm embrace of their mother on a cold winter morning.&nbsp; They will never feel the strength of their father as he scoops them off their feet when he comes home after a long day of work. They will never wake up to the smell of blueberry muffins wafting in from the kitchen. They will never get to laugh, cry, sing, or dance—because they were deprived of life in their very first stages of development. Their mothers were lied to because we as fellow member of the human race weren’t there, showing truth and love when we needed to. I wonder, has the universe ever faced a night this dark? A night where the youngest, most vulnerable of our human race are deprived of life, and their remains disposed of in a dumpster?</p><p>And yet, there can be miracles. There has never been a night that was dark enough to withstand the rising of the sun. It’s miracles like the two I witnessed that morning that give me faith. I believe the killing will end. The tide is shifting against abortion: I witnessed it this past week as I saw many young pro-life activists stand up for life and compassionately combat the culture of death. I witnessed this as hundreds of students changed their minds about abortion, receiving the truth long before they’d ever find themselves in a situation where they might consider terminating a pregnancy. I witnessed this as two mothers chose life. I witnessed God’s Almighty hand working miracles in our dark, dark world.</p><p>I loosen my grip on the steering wheel, no longer supressing my emotions.</p><p><em>…now I'm standing here&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>With heart so full I can't explain</em></p><p><em>Seeking faith and speaking words</em></p><p><em>I never thought I'd say</em></p><p>I’ve never felt such assurance, such faith, or such hope that this dark night will end. All we need is faith—faith in God, faith in our ability to effect change with His help. Faith, that as members of the pro-life movement, we can change this culture of death. We are the light bearers, shining on this dark, dark night. If we continue to stand for life, and head out on the streets and university campuses to reach society with truth and love, and if we continue to oppose the forces of evil, and if we pray unceasingly, we shall overcome. There <em>can </em>be miracles.</p><p>Morning will come—when you believe.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Abortion Activism GAP Gerrit Van Dorland Pro-Choice Pro-Life Wed, 01 Mar 2017 20:52:54 +0000 jcvanmaren 5513 at Rebuilding the pro-life consensus isn't nearly as hard as you think it is <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>We are currently in Week Two of our annual tour of Florida campuses, bringing our large display of abortion victim photography to face thousands of students with the truth about what goes on inside clinics and hospitals every day. Thousands of pamphlets explaining the development of the baby in the womb and the reality of what abortion does to that baby are being passed out, and hundreds of conversations are happening. We are watching the pro-life consensus on campuses grow in real-time.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4096" title="" width="415" height="307" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>I could share so many different stories with you, stories of students who saw the truth, talked to our team members, and became pro-life as the result. For example, I just talked to a young man who wasn’t sure what he thought about abortion, but after a fifteen-minute conversation in front of the display, agreed that killing a baby in the womb was always wrong. “This display is very graphic,” he told me, “but ultimately effective.” We keep notebooks behind the display, and it’s exhilarating to watch them fill up with dozens of similar stories before lunchtime even arrives.</p><p>But the encouragement I want to share is the simple fact that so many of our volunteers have been realizing: <em>The abortion activists don’t have any good arguments</em>. One of the things that often holds people back from doing pro-life outreach is that they think it’s difficult, and perhaps even a bit scary. Considering that the media usually only covers conflict or controversy, many people believe that they have to be a veteran debater or long-time activist to start conversations about abortion with their peers or their neighbors. But the reality is different: Once you start talking to people, and once you show them the truth, many of their arguments fall away. It’s shockingly easy to disarm many people with compassion and compelling arguments. Yes, we meet with hurting people, and then we have to reach out to them heart to heart rather than mind to mind. But still: Reaching out in compassion, armed with the truth, consistently produces extraordinary results.</p><p>Many pro-lifers have been persuaded by the arrogance of the pro-abortion politicians and the media that this debate is settled due to the inferiority of pro-life arguments. The opposite is true: They’re bluffing. They don’t have any good arguments for violently ending the life of a human being in the womb, and showing people what that violence looks like makes the feeble assertion that abortion is humane response to a crisis pregnancy look downright indefensible. We live in a visual culture, and reaching out to people with powerful visuals makes a generation distracted by everything but truth stop in their tracks. To use a different analogy, we are defence lawyers for pre-born children in the court of public opinion, and we are utilizing the most powerful evidence we have: photographic evidence of what is taking place behind closed doors.</p><p>For the past week and a half, I’ve watched campuses turn into a buzzing hotbed of abortion conversations, I’ve seen our volunteers engage with hurting students, offer help to those who needed it, hug those who asked for one, and transform the worldviews of dozens. So from our activist team on the road: Be encouraged. The pro-life consensus is growing, and that is because the truth has the power to make the reality of abortion obvious, and change minds as a result.</p> Abortion florida Human Rights Project Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:37:26 +0000 jvanmaren 5511 at A note to Maryam Monsef: Abortion is the number one weapon against girls worldwide <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>The last time cabinet minister Maryam Monsef made the news, the occasion was her bungled handling of the Liberals’ short-lived plan to enact electoral reform. Now, Monsef has appeared in headlines across the country saying that denying someone access to the violence of abortion is itself violence. <a href="" rel="nofollow">From Maclean’s</a>:</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4092" title="" width="415" height="277" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p><em>Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef says denying access to the full range of reproductive services — including abortion — is a form of violence against women.</em></p><p><em>“Reproductive health rights in Canada and around the world are critical to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls,” Monsef said Thursday in an interview with The Canadian Press.</em></p><p><em>“We’re committed to making sure that women and girls have that choice, because otherwise, this is a form of gender-based violence.”</em></p><p>Considering that Monsef was born in Iran and grew up in Afghanistan, one would think she might be inclined to use her influence alleviating the genuine oppression of women that occurs in much of the Islamic world. Instead, the abortion dogmatism of the Trudeau gang has resulted in a focus on something much more important: the ability of women to have fetal exterminators empty their uteruses.</p><p>The irony becomes sicker when you consider the fact that abortion is not the tool of women’s liberation trumpeted by the Western feminists, but has been used worldwide as a lethal weapon against the tiniest and weakest group of females on earth: girls in the womb. Dr. Anna Higgins lays out the appalling reality in her paper <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sex-Selection Abortion: The Real War on Women</a>:</p><p><em>Sex-selective abortion is a well-known problem in China and India, where a cultural preference for sons, coupled with political and economic influences, has severely skewed sex ratios at birth (SRBs).&nbsp; Instances of sex discrimination perpetrated via abortion and infanticide are well documented and have resulted in millions of “missing” girls in some societies.&nbsp;In China, for example, men outnumber women to the tune of 33 million. More than 20 years ago, Amartya Sen (1990) documented that 100 million girls and women were “missing” from the global population as a consequence of neglect, infanticide, and inequalities in care. The figure is now estimated to be in excess of 160 million, with sex-selective abortion playing a major role (Hvistendahl 2011).&nbsp; Such practices constitute a real “war on women” and have been widely condemned. Those who claim to be concerned with women’s rights can no longer ignore the need to ban sex-selective abortion in order to protect girls from “gendercide.”</em></p><p>This problem is present in the Western world, as well. Sex-selection abortion is now practiced by some communities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and right here at home in Canada. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed through a hidden-camera investigation that the abortion industry was more than happy to target baby girls for abortion on request, and their resulting report “<a href="" rel="nofollow">Unnatural Selection</a>” prompted journalists to ask Justin Trudeau to condemn the practice. The self-proclaimed <a href="" rel="nofollow">feminist</a> prime minister, of course, responded by <a href="" rel="nofollow">saying that his party</a> considered sex-selection abortion a right. In Trudeau’s world, nothing trumps abortion—not even a devastating rise in female feticide.</p><p>I’m fully aware that there is no statistic terrifying enough, no story awful enough, and no abortion senseless enough to force Trudeau, Monsef, and the rest of the feticide fanatics to question their rigid ideology. But for those willing to reconsider, I’ll leave you with an anecdote first published by <em><a href="" rel="nofollow">The Economist</a></em> in their 2010 report “The worldwide war on baby girls”:</p><p><em>XINRAN XUE, a Chinese writer, describes visiting a peasant family in the Yimeng area of Shandong province. The wife was giving birth. “We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen”, she writes (see&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">article</a>), “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man's gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!'</em></p><p><em>“Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but the two policemen [who had accompanied me] held my shoulders in a firm grip. ‘Don't move, you can't save it, it's too late.'</em></p><p><em>“‘But that's...murder...and you're the police!' The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. ‘Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here,' [an] older woman said comfortingly. ‘That's a living child,' I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. ‘It's not a child,' she corrected me. ‘It's a girl baby, and we can't keep it. Around these parts, you can't get by without a son. Girl babies don't count.'”</em></p><p>Liberals may recoil at such stories, but the sad fact is that it is the same here in Canada: Our abortion clinics “do baby girls,” too—because in Canada’s current abortion regime, overseen by our feminist leaders, “girl babies don’t count.”</p> Jonathon Van Maren Justin Trudeau Maclean's Maryam Monsef sex-selection abortion unnatural selection News Commentary Sat, 18 Feb 2017 02:25:07 +0000 jvanmaren 5509 at The abortion pill has arrived <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:15px">By Justina Van Manen</p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>It’s here. The </span><a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>arrival</span></a><span> of the abortion pill Mifegymiso in several Canadian clinics has been greeted with cries of “at long last!” from the abortion industry and its ardent supporters. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page has been posting about it for ages, hailing its virtues and cursing any cautionary measures Health Canada put in place. The restrictions on the drug were called “humiliating” and “degrading,” coupled, of course, with the oh-so-tiring accusation that no one “trusts women.”&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4077" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>What I found slightly crazy—even from Joyce Arthur—were the adamant claims that Mifegymiso needs to be made readily available and over the counter, particularly for women in rural communities without good access to health care. This is crucial to Ms. Arthur, as it appears that to her and her ilk, the most important thing to think about when considering women’s health is how they can best interfere with a completely natural, healthy process that shows you your body is working the way it’s supposed to. (As a side note, I can’t understand why many abortion advocates won’t just admit that abortion is an unnatural process. As Jonathon mentioned </span><a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>i</span></a><span><a href="" rel="nofollow">n a recent article</a></span><span>, if animals acted this way in terminating their young, we would all be very concerned). Anyway, Arthur claims that the pill is needed for women without easy access to a doctor, because this new DIY abortion kit practically makes doctors obsolete. A woman simply pops a pill, waits a bit, pops another one, and her pregnancy problems are over. At least, that’s the unicorn and rainbow version of the story. If we actually look at the abortion pill, it isn’t always that simple.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>So how does it work</span></a><span>? Mifegymiso is a two-step drug regimen and is recommended until the 49th day of pregnancy. Mifepristone, which blocks the production of progesterone, is taken first. Without adequate progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and the baby dies. This process can be reversed in its beginning stages if progesterone is administered. Between 48-72 hours after taking Mifepristone, Misoprostol is taken, which together with Mifepristone creates severe cramping and contractions, often accompanied by heavy bleeding, to expel the baby from her uterus.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>I’m not going to argue that Mifegymiso is dangerous for the woman taking it, though obviously it’s always dangerous for her pre-born child. Like all ‘medical’ procedures that interfere with natural processes, it has its risks. The abortion pill has been around in Europe for over a quarter of a century and it has been legal in the States since 2000, and while there have definitely been complications, it’s kind of comparable to the complications involving birth control. I don’t find Arthur more crazy than normal when she proclaims her excitement about the pill. What I find crazy is how readily available she wants it to be.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Health Canada advised that Mifegymiso be prescribed only by a doctor, and that the patient should actually take the first pill, Mifepristone, in the doctor’s office. The reason it’s important that a doctor be involved is because women can’t take the pill if they have an ectopic pregnancy, ovarian mass, IUD, use corticosteroid, adrenal failure, anemia, bleeding disorders or use of blood thinners, asthma, lier or kidney problems, heart disease, or high blood pressure, some of which can only be determined by doctoral examination. This means that if you have any of these things and buy the abortion pill over the counter, your risk rises dramatically, and in fact, the Federal Drug Association has received reports of one case of pill use during an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in death for the woman as well as her child, and several cases of blood infections that were also fatal.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Further, this procedure fails 8-10% of the time. That’s not a particularly high failure rate, but if we look at the statistics, it’s still a significant number. In 2014 81897 abortions were reported. Considering that not all abortion have to be reported legally, an estimated number of unreported abortions brings the number of abortions per day in Canada to about 300. In the States, where Mifegymiso has been available for over a decade and a half, one in four abortions are medical. Since Canada usually has similar numbers, that means that if Mifegymiso is made more available around 75 women a day will be using the drug. Since the drug fails approximately 8-10% of the time with the potential for requiring surgical abortion to finish the procedure, approximately 6 of the 75 women will need some type of medical care. That’s over 2000 women a year, and if even just 1% of those women are the women in rural locations that Arthur mentions, that means the lives of 20 women will be put seriously at risk.</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>It’s hard to understand how people can be so fanatically pro-abortion, so set on dismembering pre-born children, that they’re willing to put women under such a risk. As for the mantra: “trust women,” I think it’s not only clear that Joyce Arthur and her cronies can’t be trusted with the lives of pre-born children, they can’t be trusted with the health of the mothers either.</span></p> Abortion Justina Van Manen Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tue, 07 Feb 2017 18:06:31 +0000 jcvanmaren 5507 at The media's attack on the ultrasound fails the test of both history and science <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>It is common knowledge in the pro-life movement that the “pro-choice” media is, for the most part, “pro-abortion.” This is not an attempt to demonize their motives, but simply the only rational conclusion that observation can produce. Consistently, the media and their abortion industry allies portray legislation that would give women more information—informed consent, information concerning the baby’s development in the womb, ultrasounds—as “anti-choice,” when in in fact these policies simply allow women to make their irreversible, permanent decision with <em>more facts</em>. That those facts often prove persuasive in swaying women to choose for life is evidence that providing them with these facts is not only useful, but should be, if “pro-choice” meant anything at all, imperative.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4074" title="" width="415" height="385" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>The most recent example of the media’s pro-abortion bias is an essay released in <em>The Atlantic</em> by Moira Weigel titled “<a href="" rel="nofollow">How Ultrasound Became Political</a>.” The essay is intended to be a hatchet job on pro-life legislation and the lawmakers who seek to pass it, but instead reveals something ugly about the writer and the abortion mindset. Not only that, but the entire essay is coated with a patchy veneer of scientific terminology while being scientifically incoherent. An example:</p><p><em>Doctors do not even call this rapidly dividing cell mass a “fetus” until nine weeks into pregnancy. Yet, the current debate shows how effectively politicians have used visual technology to redefine what counts as “life.”</em></p><p>The ignorance in that statement is cringeworthy. First, “fetus” is simple an age categorization (Latin for “young one”), just like zygote, embryo, newborn, toddler, and adolescent. Second, politicians have not defined—or “redefined”—what counts as “life.” The fact that a unique, new human life begins at fertilization is an established scientific fact taught in embryology textbooks in medical schools across the continent, and is contested by no credible expert in the field. Weigel is simply trying to pretend that we do not know things about when human life begins that we do in fact know, and for explicitly ideological purposes.</p><p>Weigel goes on to claim that the ultrasound (being, of course, a photo of the baby in the womb) removes women from the picture entirely. This sentence, for example, clearly shows her attempt to frame a medical tool as an anti-feminist attack on abortion rights: “Ultrasound made it possible for the male doctor to evaluate the fetus without female interference.” Who says the doctor is male? Does this scenario change if the doctor is a female? And how does examining a photograph of the developing human being in the womb involve doing an end run around the woman? Weigel’s words are loaded with innuendo that betray her inability to see the abortion debate outside of her feminist framework.</p><p>Even when citing stories of women who changed their minds about having an abortion after seeing an ultrasound, Weigel deliberately selects stories that subjectivize what happened, quoting women who announce that they now “believe” that what they saw was a human. Of course, what they believe isn’t particularly relevant to the scientific reality: the human being developing in the womb <em>is</em> a human being. Weigel wants that fact ignored, and performs all sorts of rhetorical gymnastics to ensure that it is.</p><p>Later, she writes, footage of the abortion procedure as well as photos of the baby in the womb are being used to “redefine fetuses as persons.” Here, again, her statements fail the test of both history and science. Roe v. Wade toppled abortion laws that were championed in the 1800s by doctors as their knowledge of life in the womb increased. Roe v. Wade was not a recognition of established science, but a <em>war</em> on laws that were passed to reflect an increased knowledge of human life in the womb. This history is inconvenient for the science-deniers of the abortion movement, but easily discoverable to anyone operating outside the confines of abortion ideology.</p><p>One final point: As I’ve written before, the fact that abortion advocates like Weigel dislike the idea that an ultrasound photograph could dissuade a woman from having an abortion reveals, starkly, their dedication to the abortion industry. This essay fails to accurately reflect—or even consult—established science. It misrepresents history by ignoring the fact that doctors pioneered abortion legislation prior to Roe v. Wade in the first place. And it presents attempts by the pro-life movement to provide women with more information in the hopes that they choose not to end the lives of their children as draconian attempts to control women. Weigel’s worldview is a sad one—when abortion rates decline, we should all be able to celebrate. Some, unfortunately, see it is cause for complaint.&nbsp;</p> Abortion Jonathon Van Maren Moira Weigel Pro-Choice Pro-Life The Atlantic ultrasound News Commentary Wed, 25 Jan 2017 21:54:26 +0000 jvanmaren 5503 at Consciousness and human rights <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Christine De Baets</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Depending on people’s backgrounds, some like to challenge the pro-life position on scientific grounds, others on philosophical grounds. A particular point of intersection of the two perspectives – and one that comes up often – is the topic of consciousness. The term carries with it a lot of interesting intellectual tradition. However, most either only consider a narrow portion of it, or make use of it simply to serve pre-established purposes.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>In conversations, I’ve often encountered the sentiment that once we’ve come up with a morally significant definition of consciousness, we need only couple that with the precision of modern scientific knowledge to establish when exactly this ability starts to occur. From there, we can separate the humans it would be morally inconsequential to kill from those who have earned their “humanity” in the complete sense of the word.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>First, utilizing consciousness for this purpose misrepresents the philosophical interest in the concept, which does not intend the victimization of human beings. That some people use it that way is what I mean by serving pre-established purposes.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Secondly, because of the complex nature of consciousness, pinpointing a part of the brain or a time where it begins is not like determining when we can develop motor skills or which part of the brain controls speech. Moreover, because of the way science works, new findings are constantly challenging us and making us readjust our theories especially in regards to our most intriguing organ.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>For instance, in the past year, an article entitled <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>A man who lives without 90% of his brain is challenging our concept of 'consciousness'</span></a> tells of a very curious case. A father of two who leads a normal life found out most of his brain had eroded due to a condition called hydrocephalus. Yet he hasn’t lost his functions and definitely hasn’t lost his consciousness.&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4069" title="" width="251" height="201" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>What does this mean for the plasticity of the brain? I’m sure a lot can be explored in this respect. One breakthrough often leads to many others. Also, how has this affected our understanding of consciousness? According to the cognitive psychologist cited in the article, the man’s consciousness was ensured by the fact that his remaining brain cells could still generate theories about themselves. So it seems consciousness is not related to how much of a brain you have, but rather is a capacity that is above and beyond mere brain activity and the basic performance of neurons.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>All in all, it’s fascinating stuff, but the fact that we can analyze and discuss this highlights another important point: consciousness remains a capacity. It is all well to understand what abilities are particular to human life, but we must remember that an ability like consciousness or “knowing that you know” is displayed <i>because we are human beings. </i>The same is true for the pre-born: they do not become human once this capacity is developed, but instead, because they belong to the human species they eventually develop this capacity. &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>If we had before us something that looked like either a tortoise or a turtle, but we didn’t know which it was, we might take a guess. How will we verify our theory? Let’s say we put the animal in water. Tortoises do not live underwater while turtles do. If we see it swimming, we can rightly confirm that it was a turtle. It has performed a distinctly turtle-like behaviour. However, it is not a turtle because it could swim. While it was<i> confirmed </i>to be a turtle because it could swim, it can swim because it is a turtle. It would still be a turtle, even if, for some reason, it would (currently) be unable to swim. &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>However, if we had been able to know that the shelled reptile was the offspring of two turtles, we wouldn’t have needed to look at how he’d react to water at all. We simply know turtles make turtles. In the same way, humans make humans and while exhibiting consciousness can confirm a living being is human, it does not turn him or her into a human.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>To say that a certain function like consciousness grants or denies human rights is arbitrary. First, it is arbitrary because it depends on the age of the person, something they cannot change about themselves. It is all the more arbitrary because, as the case mentioned earlier shows, consciousness is not as rigidly tied to brain growth as many people make it out to be. You could have someone with physically more brain than the man with hydrocephalus yet be unconscious. A brain’s non-conceptual theory about itself cannot be measured like some might expect. Lastly, it is arbitrary because it is imposing a performance exam on human beings to see if they deserve human rights, when in actuality those rights are intrinsic and unalienable.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>We don’t get basic human rights because of what we can do. If we did, whose authority is it to decide which function over another will qualify? To be consistent, our human rights should begin when the human begins. After all, “human being” is not a title we work toward, and the accompanying human rights are not something to be granted – they are either denied or recognized. Deferring to the biologists or the philosophers to clarify questions of consciousness avoids answering the issue with what we know already, and certainly doesn’t help the children whose lives are at stake.</span></p> Abortion Abortion Christine De Baets human rights Pro-Choice Pro-Life Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:47:50 +0000 jcvanmaren 5493 at I can still picture it <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:15px">By Christine De Baets</p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Within a two hour “Choice” Chain, you can converse with a wide variety of people. Whenever I set up, taking my stack of literature and turning my sign depicting an abortion victim to face approaching pedestrians and onlookers, I never know what to expect. By the time we pack up, though, it’s sometimes hard to recall conversations in detail. That’s why I try to write down significant ones as soon as possible while they are still fresh in my mind.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>The other day, I stumbled upon notes about a brief encounter from two years ago. I had completely forgotten about it until then, but it came back to me like it had happened yesterday. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4067" title="" width="415" height="553" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>It was July, and we were out in a busy square at the hottest hour of the day. A young woman had approached me, and when I spoke to her, instead of answering my question “What do you think about abortion?” she asked, “Can I please take a picture of your sign?” I agreed, and while she pulled out her phone, she explained: “I’m pregnant, and my family wants me to get an abortion. I’m going to show them this – so they know why I don’t want one.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>We proceeded to talk about her pregnancy situation. She was around four weeks along, I believe, and she assured me she was in a good situation in terms of support, that she didn’t need any help. All she needed was something to convince her family. She said it was such a coincidence we met at that moment because she had just been talking to them. I gave her some brochures. She thanked me, and went on her way.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Reflecting on our exchange, two things stand out to me. First, I’m reminded that when it comes to the discussion on abortion, what’s often missing is the truth. What I mean by that is, there’s a noticeable difference between talking about abortion like it’s an idea or a concept, weighing a list of pros and cons and bringing the brutal reality of what abortion really is back into consideration.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>When this young woman was talking about her ‘options’ with people who were probably well intentioned, she needed to make her case for why she would not consider abortion. The broken body of an innocent child was the evidence she was looking for. With that, she would be able to withstand pressure, confident that she was doing the right thing in protecting the life of her child.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:15px"><span>Secondly, I was humbled by the role I was given to play in the situation. Pro-life activism is, at its core, witnessing to the truth, and it is said that the truth defends itself. The pre-born child I met that day might be a crawling baby by now, but I have no way of knowing. I know she has a determined mother though, and I’m grateful I could be of help to her that day.&nbsp;</span></p><div>&nbsp;</div> Abortion Christine De Baets Pro-Choice Pro-Life Street Activism Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:32:43 +0000 jcvanmaren 5470 at From an ultrasound technologist: the side I see <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:12px"><em><span style="font-size:16px">Author anonymous due to workplace/patient confidentiality</span></em></p><p><span>I put my&nbsp;probe&nbsp;down, find the head, then slide down to the bum.&nbsp;Fortunately, the&nbsp;baby&nbsp;is in a good&nbsp;position. "It's definitely a boy!" I&nbsp;tell&nbsp;the mom and dad, as they peer over my shoulder at the&nbsp;screen. I point out the very obviously displayed male anatomy. The dad's face drops. "That sucks!"&nbsp;he&nbsp;exclaims. "I wanted to have a girl." He continues to express his&nbsp;displeasure&nbsp;as I show them their child and take a couple more pictures for them to take home with them. He is still unhappy as I tell them I'm done and they can get the results from their doctor.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>"Can we just end this and start over?" he says to his wife as they&nbsp;leave&nbsp;the room. She laughs nervously. He's joking . . . I hope.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>This is my both my least and most favourite part of my job as an ultrasound technologist. There is something&nbsp;indescribably&nbsp;beautiful about watching human life develop&nbsp;and grow at all of its stages. From the&nbsp;tiny flicker of the heartbeat at just six weeks’&nbsp;gestation, to seeing the little bouncing&nbsp; 8-9 week old peanuts which (given a good scan) wave tiny little arms and legs. It only gets better from there on out as the baby gets bigger and is easier to see with my ultrasound equipment.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4059" title="" width="415" height="311" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p><span>There are also the fun opportunities of telling good news and watching mothers’ faces beam as they get to see their child for the first time. Then there are the good news&nbsp;stories&nbsp;that warm your heart and put a smile on your face. There is nothing quite like telling the mother who thought she had a miscarriage several weeks ago that she is&nbsp;in fact still pregnant and has a&nbsp;bouncing, healthy twelve-week gestation baby. Not to mention finding live twins in a patient who had just had an ectopic pregnancy removed.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>But this is only the happy side of the story. There is a sad side too. Like the countless miscarriages that we see day after day. Nothing is quite so&nbsp;disappointing&nbsp;as finding no heart heat and then trying&nbsp;to keep a&nbsp;neutral&nbsp;expression for the rest of the scan,&nbsp;knowing&nbsp;that when they get the results from their doctor their dreams and hopes will be&nbsp;disappointed.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Even that is still not the worst part of scanning pregnant females. The absolute worst is the unwanted children that you see. There is nothing so heart wrenching as the feeling of scanning and seeing&nbsp;little&nbsp;miracles&nbsp;that have&nbsp;been sentenced to die by the ones who are&nbsp;supposed to support and love them.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Scanning early&nbsp;pregnancies&nbsp;only so that some abortion provider knows how to best stop that little heart beat is one example. Another is guiding&nbsp;the&nbsp;needle&nbsp;in an amniocentesis procedure, knowing that the results of the test will be the&nbsp;determining&nbsp;factor of life or death for the&nbsp;baby whose heart rate is carefully recorded to see that they don't show adverse effects from the procedure.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Then there was the&nbsp;young&nbsp;woman&nbsp;who was already more&nbsp;than&nbsp;twenty weeks&nbsp;pregnant&nbsp;but had decided not to continue the pregnancy. I had to scan&nbsp;her&nbsp;that same day so her doctor could still send her to a&nbsp;hospital&nbsp;that would do abortions up to twenty-four weeks (in the same building where NICU teams fight to save babies born earlier&nbsp;than&nbsp;that). Her&nbsp;baby&nbsp;was a little&nbsp;girl.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>I have no words that I can say to my patients. I am not allowed to share my views or offer support. I can't suggest pregnancy&nbsp;resource&nbsp;centres or tell them how wonderful adoption is. I am not allowed to explain to them exactly what abortion is or tell them about the struggles that other patients have told me that they have had afterwards.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>I am not allowed to be a voice for the silent ones. I only have my machine. I can turn my screen and show them that little beating heart and those tiny little arms and legs, fingers and toes. I can show them and hope that they are seeing the same baby, the same human, the same life that I do.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Scanning pregnant ladies has taught me that children in our culture are conditionally loved and conditionally valued. If they are planned and expected or wanted, then I see excited&nbsp;parents and smiling faces. When things don't go according to plan then I hear&nbsp;disappointment. There are still those that will face the unexpected and make it work, but there are so many who just get rid of the problem instead of accepting and working with it.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>That's why we need people on the streets. We need people to hear and see the truth of what abortion is and what it does. We need to show our culture that abortion does stop a beating heart and that it ends a life. I can only show one side of the story, but people need to know both.&nbsp;</span></p> Abortion Abortion Pro-Choice Pro-Life ultrasound Mon, 19 Dec 2016 15:12:28 +0000 jcvanmaren 5467 at I'll never know <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Gerrit Van Dorland</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Doing “Choice” Chain outside the gates of your own university campus is different. I spent the last two summers doing full-time pro-life activism on busy street corners all over the GTA, knocking on people’s doors and discussing abortion and human rights with them, and dropping thousands of postcards into people’s mailboxes. Throughout this time, I rarely felt intimidated—the truth is on our side. Yet, when I “Choice” Chain on my own campus, I feel apprehensive. Perhaps it’s the thought of classmates seeing me with abortion victim photography that makes me uncomfortable, or maybe it’s because confronting the banality of evil in a place that has become your second home is tragic and jarring. This, after all, is <i>my </i>university. Whatever the cause is, the anxiety I feel is unique to doing activism at Western University.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4052" title="" width="415" height="235" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Last week however, on a windy Tuesday afternoon, I felt no anxiety. Instead, my usual&nbsp; anxiety was replaced with a sense of urgency that grew as I made the ten minute hike from our University Library to Richmond Street, where we would be&nbsp; “Choice” Chaining. I wasn’t sure why I felt that way, but it felt good. I wanted to be there. No, I knew I <i>had</i> to be there. I whispered a prayer, and held up my sign confidently. I caught the attention of the first student who walked by, asking her “What do you think about abortion?” Her name was Hannah and we had a great conversation that ended with her joining our pro-life club. The conversations continued, some successful and others not so much. &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>As I finished a conversation with a student, I noticed a young woman at my side, waiting to cross the street. She was in her early twenties, wearing a beige jacket. She had dark brown hair and wore equally dark sunglasses. She wasn’t looking at my sign. Her head was faced decisively forward, as she waited for the cross-walk signal to change. I sensed that she was ignoring me intentionally, but I decided to approach her anyway. “What do you think about abortion?” I asked, handing her a pamphlet. She took the pamphlet, but gave no reply. She continued to look ahead of her, pamphlet in her hand resting at her side. I waited a few seconds, and tried again. “Have you ever seen images like this before?”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I watched as she swallowed and pushed back loose strands of hair behind her ear. She was silent for a few moments, and then responded. “No I haven’t,” she said softly, shaking her head. “And I think abortion is awful.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I heard pain in her voice.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“I agree,” I said, “abortion is awful. Do you think there are any situations where it may be justified?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>She continued to look ahead of her, still waiting for a change in lights. “Rape,” she whispered.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>My thoughts began to race. Hours of practice in dealing with various situations while doing activism had taught me the cues to look out for in recognizing a victim. I didn’t want to get personal right away. If there was something she wanted to tell me, it would have to come from her. “Do you know someone who has been in that situation?” I asked.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>She nodded.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“I’m sorry to hear that,” I offered. “How is she doing?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“Not good.”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>And then, at the worst possible moment—before I could reply, before I could offer her support and connect her with resources, before I could show her that there is hope and healing, that she is not alone in her situation—the light changed, and she hurried off. As she moved past me, I caught a quick glimpse of her eyes behind her sunglasses. I saw pain. I saw hurt. I saw despair.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I watched helplessly, as she walked off. I wanted to run after her, but knew I shouldn’t. It wasn’t my place to assume she was a victim, though intuition told me that the person she was referring to was herself. It’s a mechanism we all use to protect ourselves. When we don’t want to openly speak about something with someone, we tell our story in third-person narrative.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>There was only one more thing I could do—pray.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>This story is a disheartening one. I was disheartened. But the reality is, we will not always be the healer or the valiant hero that saves the day. Sometimes we are called to a place and never learn why.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Did I need to be there for the woman with the beige jacket and long brown hair? Had I completely misread the situation? Perhaps someone drove by who was considering an abortion, but after seeing our sign, changed their mind. While I wish I knew why I felt urgency to “Choice” Chain at Western University Gates at Richmond Street at 3:00 p.m., I don’t, and likely never will.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>It’s a broken, hurting world we live in, but this is how we bring light. We plant the seeds, we show love, and trust God to give the increase. Sometimes we can stand back and watch as He works to soften the hearts of people, watch as they change their minds, find hope and courage, and choose life. Often however, we don’t get to watch. In those times we can only stand in awe at God’s omnipotence. I hope and pray that the girl with the beige jacket and long brown hair, the girl who seemed to be in so much pain, will find healing. Maybe she will connect with the resources listed in the pamphlet I handed her. Maybe she just needed to see that I cared. But all I can do is hope and pray.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>With the humble mindset of a servant, a sower of seeds, we head to the streets again, and show truth with love again. The world is still hurting—we live in a broken world, and it needs<i> </i>insignificant persons like you and me to continue to sow the seeds. Row by row, seed by seed, all the while hoping, praying, and trusting that God will give the increase.</span></p> Abortion Activism Gerrit Van Dorland Pro-Choice Pro-Life Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:38:01 +0000 jcvanmaren 5464 at Use your game sense <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Cameron Côté</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Last week I was speaking to a couple of agitated pro-abortion advocates while doing “Choice” Chain at Mount Royal University. One of them randomly blurted out, “I bet you love Donald Trump,” before smiling smugly to her friend and staring at me as though she’d just given the most cogent argument possible for why abortion should be allowed throughout all nine months of pregnancy. While I was sorely tempted to simply ask her how much she wanted to bet, I decided not to escalate things, and instead calmly explain to her that abortion directly and intentionally killed an innocent human being, and that regardless of what a politician in a jurisdiction that I was prohibited from voting in said about the issue, all humans deserved human rights, regardless of how old they were.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4046" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>While this response certainly wiped the grin off of her face, she soon realized that she was either going to have to come to terms with the fact that embryologists universally acknowledge that human life begins at fertilization, or else walk away from the conversation, and unfortunately she decided that the high road was to walk away from the conversation and tell me that I “didn’t [] know anything.”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Her bet regarding my love of Donald Trump got me thinking though, as this is simply the last in a long line of bets that people have suggested I take regarding my position on a wide variety of topics. I’ve had people say to me: “I bet you hate gay people,” “I bet you hate women who have abortions,” “I bet you loved it when the guy tried to shoot up the abortion clinic in Colorado,” and even: “I bet you kick puppies when you aren’t doing this.” Though this form of betting could supplement CCBR’s fundraising plan (though I highly doubt it ever will), it’s worth saying that the people who make these bets can rarely ever collect on their gambles, and regardless of how they fare, these bets have no bearing on the abortion debate.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I can confidently say that not a single person working or volunteering with CCBR hates people who identify as gay, hates women who have abortions, loves it when people engage in abortion related violence, or kick puppies for thrills in their spare time. With that said though, if a pro-life advocate did support someone like Donald Trump, did grow up in a Christian household, or did own a firearms license, that would in no way invalidate their understanding that abortion directly and intentionally kills a living member of the human species. As such, instead of explaining myself every time someone places a bet on my character, my voting history, my religious convictions, or anything else about me, I simply explain to them that none of that changes the facts of what abortion does, and this is something that I would encourage anyone who advocates for the protection of pre-born children to adopt.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Instead of taking the bait and proving why being Christian doesn’t mean that you’ve been brainwashed to the point of believing anything and everything your pastor or priest tells you, ask the person how that would change the fact that abortion decapitates, dismembers, and disembowels a living member of the human species. Instead of explaining why Donald Trump was a better Presidential option than Hillary Clinton, ask the person how political allegiances impact an action that snuffs out the life of the youngest and most vulnerable members of our human family. Instead of detailing just how much you support women in crisis pregnancy situations, ask whether your support, or lack thereof, changes the fact that every year in Canada more than 100,000 pre-born children are killed in the name of choice. Because at the end of the day, whether you are a model citizen or not, abortion kills, and we need people to realize that that is a fact, regardless of who is saying it.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4050" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>Rachel’s Volunteer Spotlight</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>One of our Calgary volunteers, Nelson, has shown a lot of dedication and commitment. He realizes that although speaking with men and women on the issue of abortion is not necessarily the most fun way to spend his spare time, it is important work and must be done.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Nelson began to join our team for activism on his campus quite recently, and clearly sees abortion for what it is. He takes his role very seriously and comes out nearly every week to be a voice for the pre-born, in spite of the fact that he has a very heavy course load, he’s involved in a number of other clubs and initiatives on campus, and has a lengthy commute to and from school. It is obvious that many people have begun to consider the pro-life position because he has treated them with kindness and respect, and for that and everything else that you have done to help advance the pro-life cause, we’d like to thank you for your hard work, Nelson!</span></p> Abortion Activism Cameron Cote Pro-Choice Pro-Life Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:29:16 +0000 jcvanmaren 5462 at France banned a video of kids with Down Syndrome--so parents who aborted such children won't feel guilty <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>Time and again, people tell pro-life activists that they dislike abortion victim photography because it is “graphic” and “disturbing,” and time and again, we respond that yes, it is—but that the real reason people want to cover up the reality of what is happening to pre-born children every day is that it makes them feel uncomfortable, and it makes them feel guilty. This is why pro-“choice” activists respond violently to all types of pro-life outreach, from sidewalk chalking to signs that simply read “Adoption: The Loving Option.” A culture that kills its children does not like to be reminded of this fact in any fashion.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4041" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>Thus, the <a href="" rel="nofollow">recent news from France</a> that <a href="" rel="nofollow">video footage of happy children with Down Syndrome was considered offensive</a> was unfortunately not surprising:</p><p><em>France’s Conseil d’État (State Council) has confirmed its ban of the award-winning “Dear Future Mom” video from French television, declaring that the “inappropriate” images of happy Down syndrome children might bother women who had chosen to abort their babies.</em></p><p><em>The Council&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">stated</a>&nbsp;that the video in question could not be shown since it was “likely to trouble the conscience of women who had made different personal life choices in compliance with the law.”</em></p><p><em>According to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">studies</a>, in France more than 80 per cent of all mothers pregnant with babies diagnosed with Down syndrome end up aborting their children.</em></p><p><em>“The law stipulates that only advertising messages or ‘messages of general interest’ be shown during commercial breaks. The Council determined that this film does not constitute a ‘message of general interest’,” the governing body said in a statement on its&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">website</a>.</em></p><p><em>Rather, it is “likely to disturb women who have had recourse to a medical termination of pregnancy and thus is inappropriate for airing during commercial breaks,” the statement added.</em></p><p>In other words, women who chose to have their son or daughter suctioned into bloody slurry or dismembered limb by limb may feel guilty when they see the smiling faces of children who look just as their children would have, and perhaps may even realize that their feeble excuses concerning the “quality of life” the child would have had nothing to do with the child’s quality of life, and everything to do with their own. Anything, <em>anything</em> that makes people feel guilty about their ableism, their selfishness, and their eugenicist beliefs that disabled children are not worthy of life must be removed from the public eye—at least so France seems to believe.</p><p>Abortion is ravaging the Down Syndrome community, and disability activists have warned that these lovely people may be rendered extinct by abortionists. Photos and videos of such people remind many that they are becoming endangered, and show many others that abortion is a horrifying and selfish choice. That is why abortion activists seek to have any form of pro-life outreach banned: Because their worldview is fundamentally indefensible.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Abortion Dear Future Mom France Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Life World Down Syndrome Day News Commentary Fri, 25 Nov 2016 17:20:05 +0000 jvanmaren 5458 at Cosmopolitan Magazine: We could see the end of legal abortion <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>As a rule, I’m happy when the folks over at <em>Cosmopolitan</em> are unhappy. And their post-Trump election headline was a pretty lovely one: “<a href="" rel="nofollow">The Impact of this Election on Abortion Access will be Devastating</a>.” The column was written by Robin Marty, who I’ve tangled with a few times on Twitter and is, in all fairness, one of the more reasonable members of the abortion cartel. But with the defeat of Hillary Clinton—a defeat that cost Planned Parenthood well over thirty million dollars in one swoop—Marty is not feeling very well:</p><p><em>I</em><em>n order to win over a social conservative movement that had doubts about the sincerity of his newly minted pro-life beliefs, Trump made a number of promises for his first term — promises that converted leaders like Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser over from “anyone but Trump” to leading&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">his pro-life coalition</a>.&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">First on the list</a>&nbsp;were pledges to defund Planned Parenthood, to make the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">Hyde Amendment</a>&nbsp;— a rule that forbids any taxpayer funds to be used to cover abortion, even for Medicaid patients — a permanent rule rather than something that must be renewed every year, and sign a federal ban on abortion at 22 weeks gestation into law.</em></p><p><em>It’s the federal “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” — a bill that would ban abortions nationally after 20 weeks post-fertilization or 22 weeks gestation — that very well could be the nail in the coffin of&nbsp;Roe.&nbsp;Since the first “20 week” abortion ban was&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">introduced in Nebraska</a>&nbsp;in 2010, abortion opponents have been hoping for a favorable lower court ruling that would potentially be challenged at the Supreme Court. They never got that chance — the 20-week ban passed in Texas was not included in the other restrictions challenged in&nbsp;Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. If Trump follows through on his pledge to sign such a bill, which the Republican Party now has the majorities in the House and Senate to pass, abortion providers will have to go to court or else the right to end a pregnancy will stop at just 22 weeks. That’s a period that is still considered prior to viability by most doctors and where not all fetal anomalies may have yet been identified. It’s also a direct conflict with&nbsp;Roe, which forbids any total bans on abortion prior to viability.</em></p><p><img src="" alt="File 4037" title="" width="415" height="237" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p><em>There was already a reasonable suspicion that despite that violation, Justice Kennedy would be willing to consider allowing states to ban abortion prior to viability if they justify it as ending it at the point where the anti-abortion community (but&nbsp;not most doctors or scientists) claim that “a fetus feels pain.” And getting more opportunities to put a “fetal pain”-based ban in front of the Supreme Court was already a priority even before anti-abortion activists knew that they had a federal sweep on their hands…</em></p><p><em>When the Tea Party rode a conservative wave into office in 2010, states passed hundreds of bills restricting access to abortion and birth control. While the Republican-led House tried to do the same on a federal level, having a Democrat in the White House blocked most of that agenda, keeping it constrained primarily to red states.</em></p><p><em>With President Trump, a Republican Congress, and at least 33 Republican governors working together, there may not be anyone who can stop them, and no state that will not be affected.</em></p><p>During the afternoon on Election Day, I wrote a column on what pro-lifers should do with Hillary Clinton as president, and the answer was a simple one: Push onwards. The hundreds of pro-life bills passed on the state level, resulting in the lowest abortion rate in the United States since Roe v. Wade passed—and all with the most pro-abortion president in American history occupying the White House—laid out a pretty good roadmap for resistance. But now, with Hillary Clinton finally pushed out of public life for good, the number of paths that open up on the road map are myriad. It will be interesting to see if Trump delivers on his promises. For the moment, we can simply be glad that Planned Parenthood’s best friend has been sent packing.</p> Abortion Cosmopolitan Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Choice Pro-Life Robin Marty News Commentary Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:41:00 +0000 jvanmaren 5441 at Another 'choice': the right to life or the right to die? <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:13px">By Justina Van Manen</p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I like to think that I don’t have a one track mind, but when it comes to social issues I might be just a little bit guilty. When at least a few hours of your day are focused on engaging the abortion issue in some way it’s pretty much inevitable that any connections that can be drawn between it and other issues will be drawn. Awhile ago, euthanasia was one of the issues I was thinking about, and other than the idea of the value and inherent dignity of human life at all stages, I wasn’t drawing any connections. And then suddenly it struck me. What about pregnant women? What if pregnant women request euthanasia?</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>It could happen. In fact, if we keep going in the direction that we’re going it probably will. On one hand, I don’t see how our ‘liberated’ country could have a problem with it. In our free world, pre-born children dying is about as mundane as it gets: another day, another 300 babies in the trash. But I can’t help but think that there may be some niggling feelings of discomfort if such an issue should arise. After all, many Canadians are willing to support bills such as Cassie and Molly’s law, focused on justice for pre-born victims of crime and their families. Why? While the death penalty is illegal in Canada, in the 92 countries that use the death penalty, in all but one—Saint Kitts and Nevis—it is illegal to perform it on a pregnant woman. Why? There are posters in most restaurants saying that pregnant women should not drink, because doing so could harm their baby. Why? If abortion is so important, if pre-born children are clumps of cells, parasitically feeding off of their human hosts, why would any of these issues matter?</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4034" title="" width="415" height="537" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>It’s because we know. We know that a whole, distinct, living human being is present at the moment of fertilization. We’ve known it for a long time and as science continues to advance we know it even more now than we ever have. The problem is, if we want to celebrate abortion, we need to continue to ignore facts, and human rights, and anything else that may interfere with what we want. It means we can’t think about pre-born children in any way, because thinking is dangerous, particularly when it comes to abortion. You might start thinking about tiny hands and tiny feet, little faces and beating hearts. And then you might start feeling uncomfortable about the idea of tiny hands and feet being torn from tiny limbs, little skulls being crushed, and beating hearts silenced forever. So we shouldn’t think about it.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>It’s why pro-choice advocates are uncomfortable with the only situation that can be somewhat compared to a pregnant woman requesting euthanasia. There have been a few cases in North America where brain-dead mothers were kept alive artificially in order to allow their pre-born children a chance to develop past viability. In 2013 Robyn Benson of Victoria, BC, was 22 weeks pregnant when she suffered a brain cerebral hemorrhage and was declared brain dead. She was kept on life support until February, when her son Iver was delivered via C-section. In Alaska, Jessie Ayagalria was kept on life support after collapsing while three months pregnant. Baby Faith was delivered by C-section when she was 35 weeks old. In both cases the mothers were then removed from life support. In these tragic situations, the women’s families made the decision to keep them on life support in order to give the child the best chance at survival. Respect for the mother was preserved in respecting the life of her child.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>This situation was reversed in the case of Marlise Muñoz, a Texan woman who collapsed and was declared braindead while 14 weeks pregnant. Her chances of delivering a healthy child were far lower than in the previous two cases as her child was farther from the age of viability. Her family fought a Texas law demanding that medical care be given to a pregnant woman, declaring that Marlise’s wishes were that she not be kept alive artificially. They won the battle, and Marilise was removed from life support. Her daughter, whom her father named Nicole, passed away that same day. This situation quickly became a pro-life vs. pro-choice battle. The pro-choice claiming that in order to treat Marlise with dignity her wish to die had to be respected, while pro-lifers declared that her pre-born child deserved a chance at life, no matter how small that chance may be.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>In the end, that is the question that would be debated should a pregnant woman request euthanasia. Is a woman’s so-called right to die more important than a pre-born child’s right to life? Just reading that question over gives us a picture of how bizarre things are getting.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px">&nbsp;</p> Abortion Abortion euthanasia Justina Van Manen Pro-Choice Pro-Life Mon, 07 Nov 2016 12:46:21 +0000 jcvanmaren 5439 at One woman's abortion story: what I learned <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Maaike Rosendal</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“I was happily married with kids. Here’s why I had an abortion.” It’s the title of an <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>article published by Chatelaine magazine</span></a> earlier this year and sent to me by a friend last week. I was intrigued, though not surprised. For sometime now pro-choice advocates have been encouraging women to share their experiences to remove the stigma that, even after 40 years of legalized abortion, still exists. Laura Stradiotto, the article’s author, has come to the same conclusion: “We’ve held our collective breath for too long,” she writes. “Let’s begin to let it out together.”</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4029" title="" width="415" height="318" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>This approach resonates well with a culture that in many ways values feelings above anything else. “It may be wrong for you,” countless students say, “but I still feel that it’s right,” and with that they dismiss the pro-life position as one person’s opinion.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“Would you agree that some things are always wrong?” I’ll inquire. “Sure,” most reply. When asked for an example, many mention sexual assault. I agree, of course, but always ask why. “Simple,” a student said recently, “because it violates another person’s dignity, their body, their human rights.” “Exactly,” I responded, “So we <i>do </i>agree that some things are objectively wrong, all the time, regardless of one’s subjective opinion.” “For sure,” he said, “you just can’t do that.” I nodded, then asked, “Since it’s always wrong to inflict violence upon another innocent human, and abortion inflicts violence upon an innocent <i>pre-born</i> human, isn’t that also always wrong?”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Laura Stradiotto refers to the girls in her Catholic high school who “couldn’t imagine killing their unborn baby” while her rationale, she claims, was based on logic: “Was my life not valuable? What if I had other children to take care of?” But does it logically follow from those questions that we may deny another human being his or her right to life? A woman’s life is undoubtedly valuable, in the same way that a child’s life is valuable, yet neither of them negate each other’s human rights. In fact, Laura’s second question implies that the pre-born is a human <i>child</i>; otherwise we wouldn’t speak of <i>other </i>children.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>So why <i>did </i>Laura and her husband choose abortion? In a nutshell: they faced an unexpected pregnancy while already parents to a two-year old and six-month old. Without EI, unable to pay for day care and with the mental strain of one parent having to care for three children under three while the other worked 70 hours a week, Laura and her husband “decided, together, to terminate the pregnancy.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Being a parent to little children myself, I can well imagine how overwhelmed they felt. My kids are restless sleepers so I can probably count the uninterrupted nights in the past six years on one hand. Our laundry pile seems surmountable for the first time <i>ever</i> only due to a friend who has recently started ironing for me. Yet, fingerprints seem to be part of the décor these days and our limited collection of toys somehow still sneak into every space in the house.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Life with little children can be hard: an all-consuming, bone-tiring kind of hard, especially when two-year olds have meltdowns because (who knows?) their lunch probably looked funny on their plate, newborns need to be fed non-stop and, just when they’re successfully rocked to sleep, an older child barrels down the stairs and the process starts all over again.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>That’s why the responsibility of another little human can feel like an enormous burden. That’s why some moms have shared with me how their first response to the pink line on the pregnancy test wasn’t excitement but a big sigh. That’s why I can imagine the dread that Laura Stradiotto describes to be very real. Those feelings are valid, even justified.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>The question remains: does this validate <i>abortion</i>? Does feeling emotionally and physically drained justify the direct and intentional killing of another vulnerable human being?</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>That would be the case if the pro-life position is a preference claim, but it isn't. It's not that pro-lifers don’t <i>prefer</i> abortion just like some people don’t prefer pumpkin pie. Instead, pro-lifers make a <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>truth claim</span></a>: we <i>reject</i> abortion because human beings have human rights and since <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>science proves that human life begins at fertilization</span></a>, pre-born human beings have human rights as well. That’s why abortion is always objectively wrong.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Additionally, if the Stradiottos’ decision was the right one, why was the week that they had to wait for the abortion “the longest week of [Laura’s] life”? Why did she want “it to be over”? Why did she think about the abortion constantly, remembering “the miraculous feeling of a tiny life growing inside of [her]” and estimating how far along the fetus would have been?</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4031" title="" width="303" height="216" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“For strength,” Laura writes, “I reminded myself why I’d had the abortion in the first place: to be a better mother. It became a mantra.” But if the moral dilemma of abortion is settled by one’s personal opinion, why would there be a need to publicly defend this choice after convincing oneself that it truly was the right decision?</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>The author describes how over time, her born children became less dependent, she felt closer to her husband, and finances improved. “So when I learned in early 2013 that I was expecting, there was no sense of doom. It was different this time around. We welcomed our third child, a boy, in late 2013.”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I can’t help but wonder: what about that “tiny life”? What about the little boy or girl, already with a heart beat, who grew until his or her little body was suddenly suctioned to pieces through a procedure <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>described by previous abortion provider Dr. Levatino</span></a>? Was his or her short existence as the third child, and his or her membership in the human family, rendered irrelevant by the mother’s experiences?</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Abortion stories like this one us teach us many things, but there are three that stand out for me.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>First, difficult circumstances exist. If parenting is sometimes overwhelming even while having a support network, imagine how insurmountable this task may seem without such support, especially in an environment where abortion is encouraged. Imagine the much harder situations of women who are poor, pressured, on the street, or have experienced sexual assault. As pro-lifers, we must do everything we can to alleviate these circumstances, offer support, and walk with women who otherwise will feel like abortion is their best option. How about we all regularly do something for a busy mom or dad, friend or neighbor?&nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Secondly, all choices are not created equal. Laura Stradiotto offered unconditional support to her sister during an unwanted pregnancy and told her that she had “options.” Doesn’t this imply that those options were equal? Yet, none of us would say to a struggling friend with little children that one of her options is to drown one of the kids in the bathtub—we know that’s not a moral solution to a difficult situation.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>That’s why, no matter how supportive pro-lifers are, abortion will continue as long as our society doesn’t recognize the pre-born’s humanity from the moment they come into existence. Many people I know have promised pregnant women to provide everything they needed, even offered to adopt the children, but to no avail: abortion was considered a valid option and the weeks-old child merely a bunch of cells. Notice how Laura refers to her aborted child as a fetus: while this is a medically correct, Latin-derived term meaning “young one,” its widespread use today allows us to ignore that the child was a human being, a young member of our species deserving of human rights. That’s why we must use and create opportunities to highlight the humanity of the pre-born, also in the way we ourselves speak about and regard children before birth.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Will it make a difference? Without a doubt. I’ve witnessed pro-choice protesters rip up their signs after listening to the scientific case for life. Intellectually honest university students have messaged me that they’ve come to respect the pro-life position because of its objectivity. And high school students constantly tell my colleagues that it makes complete sense to advocate for human rights for all human beings.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Thirdly, moral dilemmas are solved, not with subjective feelings but rather, with objective truths. Laura describes initial ambivalence towards her abortion, which gradually changed to a positive perspective that now propels her forward in proudly speaking out about it. So for every woman who says she regrets her abortion (and I deeply respect those who publicly take this stance and honour their child's life) there will be many others who say they don’t. Remarkably almost none of them—in all my years of pro-life work I haven’t met one—show what the abortion looked like. That’s why the most powerful argument in this debate is the photographic evidence of what abortion does to pre-born children: not only is it the victims’ story, it is also objectively true. It cannot be argued with, changes the most minds, and saves the most lives.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>How do we know? I’ve literally seen lives saved, not in the first place because someone offered support, but as a result of seeing what abortion would do to the child. A university student told us this year that because her friend couldn’t get the images out of her mind, she couldn’t choose abortion. Another mom, amidst incredibly difficult circumstances, said “she couldn’t do <i>that </i>to her baby.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>That’s why we’re able to walk with women who have peace about a decision they truly know was right. Sure, their lives are still crazy, even (very) hard sometimes, yet filled with a joy that “choice” can’t bring.&nbsp;</span><span>As one of the moms who cancelled her abortion told us sometime ago: “Now I have reason to sing again.”</span></p> Abortion Abortion Maaike Rosendal Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tue, 01 Nov 2016 18:43:34 +0000 jcvanmaren 5437 at If you want to see where the pro-life movement is winning, stop looking at politics <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>With a wave of bloody skirmishes between social conservatives and the rest of the so-called conservative coalition happening in virtually every political party across Canada, pro-lifers have become increasingly disenchanted and increasingly convinced that there is nothing we can do. Years of fighting in the abortion wars have left many worn out, and many have ceded defeat. Questions crop up again and again: <em>How do we keep going? Where do we find encouragement?</em></p><p>I have some advice that may strike many of you as strange: Don’t focus so much on politics.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4024" title="" width="415" height="234" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>Let me follow that up immediately with a long list of provisos. I am <em>not</em> saying that we should disengage from politics, and have spilled a lot of ink urging social conservatives to <a href="" rel="nofollow">do precisely the opposite</a>. The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Association for Reformed Political Action</a>, for example, fights to ensure Christian voices are heard in the public square, and organizations like <a href="" rel="nofollow">We Need A Law</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow">Right Now</a> exist to facilitate pro-life involvement in politics. This work is essential. We need to fight harder and we need to fight smarter, and there are many victories that we can attain--and if we don't like the way political parties are going, we should get involved in the process.</p><p>But many pro-lifers are feeling a deep malaise because they have forgotten that politics is <em>downstream</em> from culture. Justin Trudeau gets elected, Patrick Brown sticks a knife in the back of the so-cons who gave him his job, Brian Gallant pushes for more abortion access, Rachel Notley starts to shove homeschoolers around—there’s plenty of reasons for social conservatives to politically mobilize. But while we work to ensure our rights are protected in the halls of power, it’s important that we don’t forget our primary responsibility: Reaching out to our neighbors. Shifting the culture, by tiny degrees, one person at a time.</p><p>I was asked often in the last few weeks as I did a short speaking tour in the Maritimes why I feel there is so much <a href="" rel="nofollow">hope for the pro-life movement</a>. The answer for me is a simple one: I see it all the time. Our staff and volunteers at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform see people change their mind on abortion every day. We see girls cancel their abortions when we take the truth to the streets. We see people respond to our message wherever we go—public high schools, college campuses, universities, and wherever else we can reach the public. We see <em>real change</em> happening not in slogans on lawn signs, but in the minds of the men and women and boys and girls we talk to.</p><p><strong>We have to stop buying into the lie that we need the politicians to reopen the abortion debate. When our leaders tell us the abortion debate is closed, our answer should be simple: “Sorry. We started without you.”</strong></p><p>When we’re talking to a college student who is stunned by what abortion looks like and wants to know more, we don’t have to wait for Justin Trudeau to tell us the debate is open before having a conversation with her. When we talk to a pedestrian who walks past our display and says she no longer wants to have an abortion because her eyes have been opened, we don’t need legislation to reach out to her and walk with her. When politicians refuse to tell the truth about abortion in schools across the country, that doesn’t mean we can’t set up displays and reach those same students with that same life-saving truth.</p><p><strong>We don’t need politicians to change the culture.</strong></p><p>Social conservatives are often trapped in a false dichotomy: Sympathetic politicians coming to power is the goal, or silent resignation and political martyrdom are the answer. That is why when Stephen Harper turned out to be an active opponent of the social conservative movement, many activists were struck with despair. Getting a Conservative™ elected prime minister was the goal, and that turned out to be a dead end, so where do we go next? We too often harness our hopes to men who seek power, and find out that in a culture hostile to many of our beliefs we are abruptly cut loose just as political victory seems in sight. We should be using political parties as vehicles to further our goals rather than seeing them as objects of our loyalty, especially since it is crystal clear that most politicians are happy to use social conservatives as a vehicle towards, for example, <a href="" rel="nofollow">gaining leadership of a party</a>, before promptly offloading the onetime loyalists immediately afterwards.</p><p>Too often, pro-lifers seem to think that if the politicians won’t listen to them, nobody else will, either. My colleagues and I have found the precise opposite to be true. We are facing the first generation that did not choose abortion or fight for abortion, but arrived with a quarter of their peers missing into a nation that accepted the practice as standard. They are often ready and willing to hear the truth. <em>They</em> are the ones we should be talking to. If we can impact the culture, the reverberations will reach the politicians. In the meantime, boots on the ground save lives where laws do not protect them. Activists reach the young minds the schools refuse to infuse with the truth. And <a href="" rel="nofollow">door to door, we discuss issues</a> that the local candidates will not.</p><p>That is why I have so much hope for the pro-life movement: Because I <em>see</em> movement. I <em>see</em> change. The simple reality is that we do not have to wait for the politicians to create the country we want to live in. We simply have to walk out our front door, and talk to our neighbors. With each mind that changes, with each life that is saved, we see glimmers of a new culture of life. Each of those lives is infinitely valuable, and each child that arrives safely into the arms of her mother is a child not discarded in bloody shards to cool in a trash can. Each child that is saved is a symbol of hope.</p><p>Many of those who walk the halls of power may be determined to ignore the fate of pre-born children. But the good news is that we don’t have to wait for them to do something about it.</p> Abortion Brian Gallant Jonathon Van Maren Justin Trudeau Patrick Brown Pro-Life Rachel Notley Stephen Harper Mon, 31 Oct 2016 21:25:56 +0000 jvanmaren 5434 at One teen's courageous response to sexual assault: "I couldn't hurt a baby." <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have heard hundreds of stories of sexual assault from high school and university students. It was for that reason, primarily, that I began my research on rape culture, and discovered the contributions of violent pornography to the sorts of things that are now playing out in the lives of teenagers across the continent. And because of these stories, answering the often-tearful question: “Shouldn’t abortion be legal in the case of rape?” is by far the most emotionally fraught. Even many pro-lifers, as anti-abortion as they may be, feel emotionally inclined to make exceptions for sexual assault, even though they recognize that this simply answers violence with violence.</p><p>Because suggesting that a child conceived through sexual assault is considered anathema on the pro-abortion “side,” I was stunned to read a story in the National Post this week titled “<a href="" rel="nofollow">Girl who was sexually assaulted for two years and gave birth shares her story to empower other&nbsp;victims</a>.” Her story is simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. An excerpt:</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4021" title="" width="400" height="224" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p><em>The abuse [that began at age 11] continued for more than two years. The man forced her to have sexual intercourse multiple times. Then she became pregnant. She was just 14.</em></p><p><em>He told her if she told anyone it would tear the family apart and they would never forgive her. He threatened to kill himself.</em></p><p><em>So the girl kept the secret as a baby grew inside her.</em></p><p><em>The girl was slender and small. She couldn’t hide the pregnancy for long. When her parents questioned her she said she had slept with a boy from school.</em></p><p><em>It was only after she gave birth in hospital that she felt she could tell her mom what really happened.</em></p><p><em>“I saw her wanting to cry, I saw her eyes shut with tears, I said, ‘Mom, I was raped,’” she said. “Then she was on the phone with the cops, CAS came and that’s when I thought, it’s finally over, I can tell them everything.”</em></p><p><em>The girl’s mother said learning the source of her daughter’s pregnancy nearly broke her. She recalled crying as she racked her brain, trying to understand how it could have happened.</em></p><p><em>“My heart was ripped out. My baby was having a baby. It was like, this cannot be true,” she said. “I wanted to go over there and hurt him, but in reality my kids are more important than going to hurt somebody.”</em></p><p><em>The girl said she considered getting an abortion, but couldn’t bring herself to kill something so small.</em></p><p><em>“I wouldn’t hurt an animal and I wouldn’t hurt a baby and without that baby I would probably be dead,” she said.</em></p><p><em>The girl cries herself to sleep each night and when she does finally drift off it is to memories of the man and what he did.</em></p><p><em>“It’s like a nightmare you never get out of,” she said.</em></p><p><em>During the pregnancy and since, the girl said she’s considered taking her own life, but her family has helped her stay strong.</em></p><p><em>She shares a message to anyone who has been hurt by someone close to them. It’s a message she hopes they’ll take to heart.</em></p><p><em>“No matter how close you are to that person, no matter what they tell you, you have to tell somebody because you can’t let that eat you,” the girl said. “If you let it sit there and build up you’re not going to be the same person.”</em></p><p><em>Back at her Windsor home after her abuser had been sentenced, the girl said she is hoping she can start living a more normal life. Her mother fears for her future and questions whether she’ll ever be able to have a romantic relationship.</em></p><p><em>She mourns the loss of her daughter’s youth.</em></p><p><em>“She says, ‘Mom, it’s a hard job to be a mom,’ but I tell her it’s not a tough job, you just have to live with being a mom at your age,” she said. “You’re not a teenager, you’re an adult now.”</em></p><p><em>As they talk about what happened in court, the baby wakes up. He pushes his long, blond hair off of his face and opens one big blue eye.</em></p><p><em>The girl’s mother coos about her little angel, the grandson she never expected so soon.</em></p><p><em>“He’s beautiful, he makes everybody smile and you could be having a rough day and you come home and he’s just there to make him laugh,” she explained.</em></p><p><em>“For all three of my kids, and I count her son as one of my own, I just look at them and say, ‘Nobody is going to hurt you, you’re home, you’re safe.’”</em></p><p><em>The girl is still hurting, still not sure what her future holds, but when she looks at her little boy she sees something good — something to live for.</em></p><p><em>“I hope for a lot of things for my son,” she said. “One day, when he’s old enough and asks, ‘Mommy, why don’t I have a dad?’ I’ll tell him, ‘I kept you for a reason, you saved me and you’re a big part of my life.’”</em></p><p>If only our media reported on more stories like this—on hope and life found in despair and loss.&nbsp;</p> Abortion Pro-Choice Pro-Life rape exception Fri, 28 Oct 2016 15:54:40 +0000 jvanmaren 5432 at Dear Samantha Bee: Unfortunately, skull-stabbing is "a thing" <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>If there’s one thing you can count on from the media, it’s that when a pseudo-celebrity says something stupid that celebrates abortion, it will be lauded from the deserts of the Huffington Post to the wastelands of as one of the most brilliant, prescient, and also hilarious monologues ever uttered by a kind-of-famous alleged comedian. Just lately, it’s been <a href="" rel="nofollow">Bill Nye the Science Guy</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow">Trevor Noah</a>—he’s the guy at the <em>Daily Show</em> in charge of creating waves of nostalgia for Jon Stewart—and now, Samantha Bee, who hosts a charming show called “Full Frontal.”</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4014" title="" width="415" height="233" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>Bee took umbrage at Donald Trump’s <a href="" rel="nofollow">rather blunt description</a> of partial-birth abortion as “ripping a baby out of the womb of its mother.” Bee and the rest of the media hive immediately went in to full damage control, lest anyone realize the gruesome truth about the procedure Hillary has spent her life promoting. Bee’s resulting monologue immediately garnered quite the buzz, as her friends in the media cackled with relief over her apparent “takedown” of Trump’s abortion comments.</p><p>First, Samantha Bee informed us lazily, nobody wants to hear a discussion on abortion. Which isn’t quite true. People who believe what Bee believes don’t want at discussion on abortion, because even buffoons like Donald Trump can articulate how savage the procedure is. Also, why was the Democratic National Convention this year basically a feticide infomercial if “nobody wants to hear about it?”</p><p>She then grabbed a bullhorn from her producer and bellowed at the screen: “Partial-birth abortions <em>aren’t a thing!”</em></p><p>Well, except that they are. And nobody argues that they don’t happen. Except perhaps Samantha Bee, who has not yet been informed that her fellow feminists have moved on from this particular hill to kill on and are now insisting that nobody should care about brainless babies and disabled deadbeats, anyway. As <em><a href="///C:/Users/Jonathon/Documents/The%20reasons%20partial-birth%20abortions%20are%20done:%20Clinton%20made%20it%20sound%20as%20though%20partial-birth%20abortions%20are%20usually%20done%20for%20health%20reasons.%20This%20claim%20was%20frequently%20advanced%20during%20the%20early%20days%20of%20the%20debate%20over%20partial-birth%20abortion.%20It%20is%20untrue.%20Check%20out%20this%201997%20New%20York%20Times%20story,%20or%20just%20read%20the%20opening%20line:%20%E2%80%9CA%20prominent%20member%20of%20the%20abortion%20rights%20movement%20said%20today%20that%20he%20lied%20in%20earlier%20statements%20when%20he%20said%20a%20controversial%20form%20of%20late-term%20abortion%20is%20rare%20and%20performed%20primarily%20to%20save%20the%20lives%20or%20fertility%20of%20women%20bearing%20severely%20malformed%20babies.%E2%80%9D" rel="nofollow">National Review reported</a></em> just after the media flew into a frenzy trying to claim that procedure Hillary had literally just affirmed her support for didn’t exist:</p><p><em>The reasons partial-birth abortions are done: Clinton made it sound as though partial-birth abortions are usually done for health reasons. This claim was frequently advanced during the early days of the debate over partial-birth abortion. It is untrue. Check out this 1997 New York Times story, or just read the opening line: “A prominent member of the abortion rights movement said today that he lied in earlier statements when he said a controversial form of late-term abortion is rare and performed primarily to save the lives or fertility of women bearing severely malformed babies.”&nbsp;<br /> </em><br /> Samantha Bee then seamlessly slithers onto and promptly slips on her next point: “Partial-birth abortion is a non-medical term [made up by pro-lifers]—and was made illegal by the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.”</p><p>Got that? <a href="" rel="nofollow">Partial-birth abortion</a> isn’t a thing. It was made up by pro-lifers, <em>not</em> invented by abortionists. And also, this non-existent thing that Hillary felt compelled to defend has been illegal since 2003, when George W. Bush signed legislation banning it. If none of those sentences seem to correlate, it’s because Bee seems to be cognitively incapable of forming a rational argument.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4018" title="" width="415" height="230" class="ibimage ibimage_left"/></p><p>Newsflash, by the way, on why Bee is babbling on in such a distracted fashion: It’s because she doesn’t want to explain what the scientific term for partial-birth abortion—“intact dilation and extraction”—<em>is</em> all about. When utilized to complete a late-term abortion, it involves the nearly-full term baby girl or boy being pulled out of the womb and through the birth canal feet first—thus, the informal term “partial birth.” Then, the doctor inserts a sharp instrument into the living baby’s head, punctures the skull, uses a suction aspirator to suck the brains out, and then delivers the baby dead. The head has to remain in the birth canal during this procedure, by the way, or the doctor might meet the fate of Kermit Gosnell and end up in jail for infanticide. If you’re going to suck a baby’s brains out, it’s really all about location, location, location. In the birth canal: Hillary Clinton defends your compassionate skull-smashing with every ounce of ice water in her veins. Outside the birth canal: You might get prosecuted. Might.</p><p>In case you’re wondering why Bee so desperately wants you to think that partial-birth abortions are not a thing, here’s the <a href="" rel="nofollow">gruesome Senate testimony</a> of one nurse who witnessed the thing:</p><p><em>Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse from Dayton, Ohio, assisted Dr. Haskell in a Partial Birth Abortion on a 26-1/2 week (over 6 months) pre-born baby boy. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (on 11/17/95) about what she witnessed.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>According to nurse Shafer, the baby was alive and moving as the abortionist “delivered the baby’s body and arms - everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus. The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.”</em></p><p>And surprise! Hillary Clinton thought the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was “extreme.” She voted against it. That’s right, not the act itself—but the legislation that <em>sought to restrict</em> the baby-skull-stabbing. No wonder Bee says “nobody wants to talk about this.”</p><p>Bee then seeks to change the subject, insisting that it’s really late-term abortion that the debate moderator meant, and that since late-term abortion doesn’t happen nearly as often as other abortions, then who cares, anyway? Also, late-term abortions don’t happen because women are “selfish sluts” who want abortions for frivolous reasons, Bee yells.</p><p>Again, Bee is simply tragically misinformed to the point that the media should be embarrassed for celebrating her little abortion tirade, if the media was still capable of getting embarrassed about things. Anyone in the pro-life movement and any honest abortion activist will admit that while late-term abortions are indeed rare, they do sometimes happen for what Bee might call “selfish reasons.” As—no friend of the pro-life movement—<a href="" rel="nofollow">reported</a>:</p><p><em>Martin Haskell, the Ohio doctor who developed the procedure, asserted in one paper that 80 percent of his patients choose it because it is safer and more convenient than the alternatives. There was no medical necessity. The other leading late-term abortionist, the now-deceased Dr. James McMahon, presented similar statistics before a congressional committee two years ago. These two doctors together performed 500 late-term abortions in one year, and there are at least eight other doctors who administer it–obviously, this adds up to more than 500 IDEs a year nationwide.</em></p><p>Bee, of course, ignores what the actual people in the abortion industry are saying about this and claims that abortions are only done for threats to the mother’s health—which, as the “father of Planned Parenthood” <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alan Guttmacher has told us</a>, is “not a thing”—and fetal abnormality. Which, of course, means that over 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted. Which, of course, means that Clinton and Bee and the rest of these ghouls are appallingly ableist.</p><p>None of this is reported by the mainstream media, of course. Bee is the hero of the moment because she ran cover for Hillary Clinton and the abortion industry—just like Bill Nye the Science Guy, the guy at the <em>Daily Show</em>, the <em>New York Times</em>, the Huffington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and nearly every other major news outlet. Because if everyone was to be truly honest about what late-term abortion actually is, everyone would have to stop pretending that Hillary Clinton was the civilized candidate.</p> Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jonathon Van Maren partial-birth abortion Samantha Bee Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:35:15 +0000 jvanmaren 5426 at Truth, tears, and tyranny on campus <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:13px">By Maaike Rosendal</p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Earlier this week pro-lifers in the Greater Toronto Area joined forces in order to show the truth about abortion near Ryerson University. Due to its downtown location we could exercise our Charter rights on public sidewalks while reaching hundreds of people. “This is the third time now,” lamented a pro-choice student. “Don’t they have better things to do?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Many university students and staff apparently didn’t as they sought to block our signs and interrupt conversations. Tents, property of the Students Union and CESAR (Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson), were brought out to block CCBR’s banners. “Shame! Shame! Shame on you!” a woman yelled while recording our volunteers. “Please don’t touch me,” one of the guys asked politely, repeatedly. Off she went to shove her phone in the next pro-lifer’s face.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>To most people it must have looked like a gong show. Yet, surveying the scene from my corner, I felt privileged. Whichever direction I looked, there were friendly faces—I could pick out almost 20—fully engaged with the person in front of them, fighting for children whose pictures we held.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4008" title="" width="415" height="272" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>A throng of students came around the corner, stopping in their tracks. I gently tilted the sign in my left hand towards them. They looked just before a protester positioned herself in front of it. She introduced herself to the girl covering the sign in my right hand. “Who <i>are</i> these people even?” they wondered. “I can answer that,” I offered. “We come from different groups but all care about the fact that young, vulnerable human beings are deprived of the right to life, like the pictures show.” &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>The student on the left turned her back towards me. The other student was intrigued: “But why come to Ryerson?” I explained that we seek to educate the Canadian public, and that any campus is a good place to visit since university students are in the age category most likely to have abortions. “Why do you think that is?” she demanded. “Could it have anything to do with the prevalence of sexual assault on campus?”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I weighed my words carefully. “I think it could have something to do with the lifestyle choices of university students, with the fact that universities often have policies that penalize students for being pregnant but yes, also with the fact that sexual assault is rampant.”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>She nodded, but her eyes flickered. “So what would you say to someone who’s pregnant as a result?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I noticed she’d only zeroed in on the last part of my response. “I think that sexual assault is a horrific crime no one should ever have to go through. I also believe we should do more to help girls and women who <i>are</i> going through that, and that the person who did it should be thrown in the jail for the rest of…”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>She interrupted. “You think women who have abortions should go to jail?” “Wow," I responded. "I’m glad you’re clarifying that! I was talking about the men who sexually assault women.” She briefly smiled. “Good. Then what <i>is</i> your position on abortion in that situation?” &nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>“I can’t help but wonder,” I replied, “if we don’t even give the death penalty to the guilty rapist, why would we give it to an innocent child?” She stayed silent so I continued. “It seems to me that there are two people who were victimized: the pregnant woman and the pre-born child. Shouldn’t we help both?”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I held her gaze, hoping she could tell how much I cared. Tiny tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “Do none of you understand?” she finally asked. “Do you really not understand why a woman would have an abortion?”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>“I can’t claim to know what it’s like,” I said gently, “but from all the conversations I’ve had with women who had one and told me about the horrific circumstances they were in, yes, I honestly understand why some women choose abortion.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Before she could reply, I was tapped on my left arm by a young man. “Excuse me. Can you tell me why you’re holding this sign?” I quickly made the case for the humanity of the pre-born, pointed to my sign and explained the inhumanity of abortion. He turned to a young lady a few feet away. “That’s what I was talking about!” The protester on my left took her chance. “Did you know doctors don’t even like to call it an unborn child? Because it’s not. It’s a fetus inside someone else’s body.” The young woman poked her boyfriend. “That’s what <i>I</i> mean. If I were to get pregnant, it’s about <i>my</i> choice.”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I was tapped on the shoulder again, this time by a team member letting me know it was time to go. “I’ll be right there,” I said, wanting to wrap up these conversations. We engaged in a brief discussion about bodily autonomy and difficult circumstances when suddenly, I was surrounded by pro-choice protesters.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>“You have to go,” a girl with piercing eyes insisted. “You’re no longer allowed to stand here.” I smiled at her. “I believe it’s my Charter right to stand on public property as long as I want to.” Another student pushed my signs and yelled, “It’s not! The police said you have to go. So go!” I looked at her. “If the police tell me to go, I will, but for now I’m just finishing up a conversation.” The couple, however, started to back away. “It’s okay,” the girl said. “You better go,” the guy nodded. “Leave, leave, leave,” the protesters screeched. A police officer hurried over and asked everyone to leave. “This event is over. Yes, everyone leave.” I packed up my signs and walked after the team. “Don’t come back,” the pro-choicers yelled.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>The police escorted our team down the street. We debriefed in a nearby building and I rushed to my vehicle, knowing Toronto traffic was getting more congested with each passing minute. Two hours to your destination, my GPS announced, helpful as ever. I called home, chatted for awhile, and merged onto the Expressway. That’s when it hit me.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>The girl! The girl I’d been talking to . . . where’d she go? I racked my brain, then remembered her saying to a fellow protester that she had a midterm. She must’ve left while I was talking to the couple. Oh, why didn’t I see her leave?&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Suddenly my heart felt heavy. The afternoon’s scenes played in front of my eyes. The broken bodies of little children. The angry chants of broken students. The shocked faces of those whose eyes were opened. And the silent tears of a young woman whom I didn’t even offer help.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Traffic crawled onwards, then slowly but surely sped up as the CN Tower disappeared in my rear-view mirror. Dark clouds covered the sky in front of me. I accelerated up a hill. At the top, just off to the right, something caught my eye. Several sunbeams broke through the cloud cover and, for several minutes, illuminated the gorgeous fall colours of the forest below. Then, unannounced, Dr. Martin Luther King’s magnificent voice resounded through my mind: <i>Because no lie can live forever.</i></span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>My van sped on, the road curved, and the view was gone. I couldn’t help but smile. Suddenly I also remembered the warm words and hugs exchanged between those who held abortion images and those who sought help and healing. I thought of the student who'd said, “If that’s what it means to be pro-choice, I’d rather be on your side.” And I prayed that a hurting young woman may learn that the truth truly sets free.&nbsp;</span></p> Abortion Campus Activism Maaike Rosendal Pro-Choice Pro-Life Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:13:16 +0000 jcvanmaren 5418 at You're pro-life; that doesn't mean your children are <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Cameron Côté</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>A couple of weeks ago I was doing “Choice” Chain outside of a public high school in Calgary. While I was talking to a group of guys, all of whom had told me they were pro-choice, a mother of a student at the school pulled up in a silver SUV, rolled down her window, and told me that I was wasting my time because all of the students were already pro-life. I quickly explained to her that while there were many students who had said they were pro-life, the group of students I was currently talking to didn’t fit into that category, and many others had told me very plainly they were pro-choice. Clearly flustered, she muttered something to the effect of, “well my son is certainly pro-life” and drove away. I returned to my conversation, which resulted in all of the boys admitting that abortion was a human rights violation.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Though I was thankful that these students had come to understand and accept the logic of the pro-life position, I couldn’t help but think about that mother. I wondered whether or not her son was indeed one of the students who had walked past earlier and told me he was pro-life, or if he was actually one of the many guys who had scoffed and shouted profanities at me on his way past to show his support of abortion.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 4006" title="" width="415" height="233" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>While some parents may know for a fact that their child is pro-life because of candid conversations and family discussions, it must be stated: <b>Just because you are pro-life doesn’t mean that your son or daughter is too.</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Countless times I’ve asked families with teenage children what they think about abortion, and while the parents tell me how pro-life they are their sons and daughters roll their eyes or silently slink away. I’ve talked to hundreds of high school and college students who have told me that they “grew up pro-life, but now [they] believe that abortion could be okay in some situations.” Once, while doing a “Choice” Chain display in Victoria, I asked a mother and daughter what they thought about abortion, and at the exact moment the mother responded, “I’m pro-life,” the daughter said, “I’m pro-choice.” This is exactly why I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for mothers and fathers to have conversations with their children about their position on abortion, and why abortion is a human rights violation.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Just because your son or daughter attends church doesn’t mean that they understand or accept the pro-life position. High school is when many people first encounter abortion and it’s rarely an abstract idea taught in health class. Whether it’s your daughter, your son’s girlfriend, or one of their close friends, experience is a powerful teacher, and years of you flirting around the subject without actually sitting down and explaining why abortion is not an appropriate response to a crisis pregnancy may not be enough for them to make the courageous decision to choose life for their child when they find themselves faced with that decision.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Hundreds of high school students have told me that they, or someone close to them, have had an abortion. If you are truly committed to ensuring that your son or daughter is not one of the many who walk away from their pro-life convictions in high school or, more tragically, choose abortion for their own son or daughter during these formational years, then sit down with them tonight and talk with them openly and lovingly about abortion. Tell them about why abortion is wrong, and about how you would support them, or one of their friends, if ever they found themselves faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Trust me; these conversations can be the most powerful factor when it comes to saving a child’s life.&nbsp;</span></p> Abortion Cameron Cote Choice Pro-Choice Pro-Life Tue, 18 Oct 2016 21:22:17 +0000 jcvanmaren 5416 at There's no such thing as a "safe space" for bad ideas <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>The reporter from the Sheridan College newspaper stopped me as we were making our way out the door. He gestured back at the hallway full of irate protestors with their armloads of fabric and hastily scrawled signs. “You guys know that some people are going to be angry when you come here,” he said, sticking a tape recorder in my face. “So why do you come back?”</p><p><img src="" alt="File 4002" title="" width="415" height="311" class="ibimage ibimage_left"/></p><p>The staff and volunteers at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform have been touring colleges across Ontario this fall doing pro-life outreach, and of course this has triggered much conversation on the concept of “safe spaces” by the students and staff who expect colleges to be free of discourse that they find uncomfortable. Today, we were engaging students and having interesting conversations when a clique of protestors with signs showed up and began to position themselves around us.</p><p>It’s always interesting to me that on a campus, of all places, students feel it reasonable to complain about the “graphic nature” of our displays, especially considering that campuses host all sorts of graphic displays highlighting all sorts of different issues. I always wonder how many complaints are received by those who hang up promo posters for <em>The Walking Dead</em> or protests put on by PETA. The question answers itself, obviously. These students are not protesting “graphic pictures.” They are protesting photographs of abortion victims, because they don’t want people to see what happens to abortion victims.</p><p>Example? I checked out the Twitter feed for Sheridan College, and saw one of the protestors tweeting out her opposition to us with a photo of her holding a sign that read “Our body, our choice.” The tweet just below it, which she had sent out just the day before, showed a picture of a chicken with a punctured neck and featured the caption: “There is no way to humanely kill someone who if given the choice would choose to live!” It takes some staggering cognitive dissonance to justify the dismembering of a developing human being—<em>one of our own sons or daughters</em>—while protesting the savagery of eating chicken. But as G.K. Chesterton once noted, “Where there is animal worship, there will be human sacrifice.”</p><p>One girl stopped in front of my sign and peered past the two protestors in front of it. “Wow. Wow. Is that what happens to the baby during an abortion?” I told her yes, and handed her a pamphlet. She stared a while longer, and then nodded. “This is seriously educational. Thank you for being here.” The protestors flinched. Conversations were still happening. People were still seeing the truth. How could they stop it? One of them had the answer.</p><p>She began handing out huge white bedsheets, and instructed her minions to spread the sheets out in front of the signs so that no one could see them, even if they wanted to. I’ve seen this tactic used on other campuses, too—some protestors going so far as to actually attach the sheets to sticks and hoist them high. I wasn’t surprised, really. The slogans on their signs were nearly identical to the slogans used forty years ago by the abortion activists—they’ve come up with nothing new since then, although the “Hail Satan—Abort Everyone” sign was a bit raw, and the “Being Evil Makes Me Happy” pin on one girl’s backpack was a bit too honest. That, and for some reason people who seek to discriminate against another group of people for arbitrary reasons seem to have penchant for using white bedsheets. At least, the tactic certainly <em>seems</em> somewhat familiar…</p><p>My wife Charmaine was standing across from the signs, chatting with a group of students who were buying coffee. One student asked her if she was pro-life, and began asking her questions. He was shocked to find out that nearly three hundred babies are aborted every single day in Canada. Another student took a pamphlet, flipped through it, and thanked her for being willing to come to the campus. One student called out to a girl walking nearby, “Hey, you should take more information for that girl who’s thinking about having an abortion!” Charmaine soon ran out of pamphlets.</p><p>An red-haired student marched up to my sign, looking quite irate. “You’re pro-life, right?” she demanded. “Yes,” I responded, preparing a for hostile discussion. To my surprise, the girl pointed at the protestors trying to cover my sign with a bedsheet. “Are they allowed to do this? This isn’t allowed, right?” I told her we were talking to security about it, and she nodded. “Thanks for being here. I’m with you guys. I had my little boy when I was eighteen.”</p><p>Up and down the halls of Sheridan College, in spite of the protestors, my colleagues were still having good conversations, showing people the truth, and connecting with them. Many students were not fooled by the flapping and chanting of those who showed up to silence debate rather than engage in it, and many students actually thanked us for being there. Those students, of course, will not be interviewed by the school newspaper, and will be ignored by those loudly calling for censorship. After all, some are now realizing that there is no such thing as a “safe space” for bad ideas, no matter how hard college faculties try to create them.</p><p>That’s why we come back.</p> Abortion Campus Activism Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Choice Pro-Life Sheridan College Mon, 17 Oct 2016 19:47:27 +0000 jvanmaren 5414 at Here's why our politicians won't do anything about abortion <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>There’s been much debate recently concerning politicians who claim to be pro-life but yet promise, hand-on-heart, that they will not do anything about the abortion issue whatsoever should those ex-utero voters they are appealing to decide to propel them to power. I am not making sweeping accusations of hypocrisy here. Many of these politicians are actually sincere in their pro-life beliefs: They have voted for motions and legislation when the opportunities arose, they are willing (to some degree or another) to articulate their pro-life position, and they genuinely sympathize with the pro-life cause. But in spite of all of this, whenever they begin to tread the path towards power, they suddenly begin to assure everyone that they are only personally pro-life, but that they would <em>never</em> do anything so insane or unthinkable as to actually broach this issue politically.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 3998" title="" width="415" height="276" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>Now, I understand why politicians do this. The majority of Canadians support abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, and the dwindling abortion movement has waged a scorched-earth campaign against anyone who so much as mentions that babies in the womb kick. Stephen Harper was not wrong when he stated that it is the task of the pro-life movement to shift the culture on this issue before politicians have a mandate to begin legislating on that emerging consensus. That responsibility lies on us, not on the politicians. But that being said, there are a few reasons I am suspicious of claims that they will follow the culture once it begins heading in the right direction.</p><p>The first reason is that the majority of Canadians already want some protection for children in the womb. A public consensus already exists, for example, on third-trimester abortion: Canadians are against it and would be supportive of legislation restricting it. According to the lobby group We Need A Law:</p><p><em>According to a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">June 2012 survey</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV as well as several Abacus Data polls taken in 2011, the majority of Canadians (60%) believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at some point during the pregnancy. Also, an Environics poll in 2011, found that when asked specifically when they’d like to see abortion illegal, 77% of respondents answered with, “in the last three months.” As for sex-selective abortions, a 2011 Environics poll indicated that 92% of Canadians think it should be illegal. Clearly Canadians want a law restricting abortion.</em></p><p>If the argument that politicians can only legislate where a consensus exists is being made by such politicians in good faith, then why are they not making any attempts to legislate where that consensus <em>does</em> exist? Over 90% of Canadians would support legislation against sex-selective abortion. Is there <em>anything</em> else that such a massive plurality of Canadians is in agreement on? If pro-life politicians will not even consider legislation that an overwhelming majority of Canadians would support, why should we believe them when they tell us that we simply need more Canadians on board? Would tipping the percentage of Canadians who support a late-term abortion ban from 77% to 80% do the trick? Or increasing the number of Canadians who oppose sex-selection abortion from 92% to 95% of the population?</p><p>Obviously, fear of touching the issue altogether plays a significant role in the feeble excuses we hear for inaction. But that brings us to another point: politicians generally seem either incapable or unwilling to seize the moral high ground on this issue. They will not point out, for example, that restricting abortion in the third-trimester is not the purview of crazy right-wing radicals. It would simply be following the example of nearly <em>every other nation on earth</em>—and not doing so continues to ensure that our abortion-at-any-time feticide free-for-all places us in the distinguished company of North Korea and China. Proposing legislation on abortion is not “unCanadian” or “religious extremism.” It is taking the British, or French, or German, or Israeli approach to the issue. The fact that pro-life politicians consistently allow Canada’s abortion fringe radicals to define the parameters of this issue is one of the reasons that the abortion issue only remains toxic for the pro-life side rather than the pro-choice side, and why those pushing for restrictions are portrayed as the extremists in defiance of international reality. Until politicians are willing to counter the lies and misrepresentations pumped out by Canada’s withering pro-choice movement, abortion activists will continue to own this issue politically.</p><p>Imagine if a pro-life politician were to respond to the hysterical fearmongering by pro-abortion politicians by describing a late-term abortion procedure—in London, Ontario, for example, Dr. Fraser Fellows kills late-term babies past 20 weeks’ gestation by clamping tools on their limbs and twisting them off so they hemorrhage to death prior to exiting the womb—and asking them to defend it. Suddenly, the language of human rights would be put into battle against the suddenly feeble-sounding appeals to “reproductive rights,” and it would be the abortion activists who are on the defensive. It is not surprising to me that abortion activists consistently lie about the procedure they champion, but it is staggering to me that pro-life politicians almost universally let them get away with it. We are not losing the abortion debate in political circles, we are forfeiting it.</p><p>The second reason that pro-life politicians consistently do damage to the pro-life cause is that they almost always characterize their pro-life views as subjective ones. For example, politicians often make statements such as: “I am pro-life because I believe life begins at conception.” But the simple fact is that whether or not you <em>believe</em> life begins at conception is irrelevant. Life <em>does</em> begin at conception, and there is an iron-clad scientific consensus to back this up. To cite only one of many examples, Keith L. Moore’s embryology textbook&nbsp;<em>The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology</em>&nbsp;states that, “Human development begins at fertilization, when a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”&nbsp;</p><p>Imagine if pro-life politicians highlighted the scientific evidence rather than appealing to their ethical or religious beliefs, and proposed abortion legislation as science-based public policy. So far, that hasn’t been attempted in any significant way, which allows the abortion activists to insist that pro-life politicians would like to force their religious beliefs on women, rather than attempting to restrict the barbarism inflicted by the abortion industry on real human beings who are being ignored by our political class. The pro-life case has not been articulated and rejected, it has simply not been articulated. This has to change before we can reasonably expect the nature of the debate to change.</p><p>A final thought: Pro-life Canadians should not expect much from our pro-life politicians. To get results, we will need to demand them. Even those politicians who are genuinely pro-life will, when faced with the inevitable conflict that will arise from bringing up the issue, decide that this is an issue for another day. Pro-lifers must realize that there is <em>never</em> going to be a “right time” to bring up abortion legislation, because there is never a “right time” for a politician to ignite a firestorm of opposition over a controversial issue. Barring a pro-life politician who embraces the example of William Wilberforce, we will have to recognize that the political arm of the pro-life movement needs to function like a lobby group that demands results, rather than simply elects those politicians who have the right values in hopes that they will exercise them.</p> Abortion Abortion Jonathon Van Maren Pro-Choice Pro-Life We Need A Law Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:29:39 +0000 jvanmaren 5412 at Sometimes we forget to close our eyes <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:13px">By Justina Van Manen</p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>“Perspective is so important,” said me at the intern training at the beginning of the summer. “Without perspective, we lose sight of our goals, we forget what we’re fighting for . . .”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>At least, I think that was me. As Lewis Caroll declared in his classic <i>Alice in Wonderland, </i>“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.” Sometimes, you don’t change for the better. Sometimes you can say something quite powerful, and not believe a word of it. And sometimes, no matter how small the pieces of your shattered window are, you still try to sweep up the shards and remake the window.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 3991" title="" width="415" height="621" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>My beautiful, rose coloured window, protecting my safe and cozy world of handsome knights that were so courageous and returned home so triumphantly, that you could easily forget they had had to fight a battle at all, was shattered first at GAP. There was a battle, it was real, it was hard, and a victorious homecoming could not be guaranteed. Even though my window was shattered, letting cold bursts of wind blow through it, and even though the sudden clarity strained my eyes, the CCBR internship taught me perspective. What I didn’t totally realize is that once you’ve got perspective you’ve got to hold on to it, and hold on tight or it can slip away. C.S. Lewis seemed to understand, when he said: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back, everything is different?” I looked back one day, back, back, back before CCBR, back to a time of stories, and imaginative games, and small battles that were easily won. I looked back, and I lost perspective, and I tried to rebuild my window.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>The thing is, it had been shattered so thoroughly that by the time I was finished it was more glue than glass and I could hardly see through it anymore. The little bits of light filtering through it made a weird sort of mosaic pattern, the shapes I saw were distorted. And suddenly, activism didn’t feel the same anymore. Sure, there was testimonies. That young man became pro-life after I used the human rights argument, that girl said that I had really given her something to think about. But even though the stories ended the way we want them to, there was more to them than that. The young man’s siblings had been aborted. The young girl’s parents had split up, and her mom had told her that she had tried to abort her.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I tried to look through my window. I tried to see the beautiful, rose tinted white picket fences, edged flower beds, and lush green lawns mowed in straight lines. I tried to see the pretty princesses being stolen from their ermine-trimmed cradles to be rescued by handsome princes a short eighteen years later. I tried to see just how I’d seen before. But the problem was, I knew. I knew there was no ermine trimmed cradles. Just cold, dark towers with only a few small windows, or at least, that’s how it looked to me. And I realized that these people hadn’t lost everything—because they hadn’t had everything in the first place.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Their families were broken. Their childhood wasn’t a childhood at all, not really. And I couldn’t give them what I’d had, their chance was gone forever. And I didn’t want to do “Choice” Chain anymore because I hated how I felt when I heard their stories and I was afraid seeing what I saw in their eyes. At least, I thought it was fear, and maybe it was, but as C.S. Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>The rose-coloured shards of glass pasted together wasn’t anything like the window I’d had, though I desperately wanted it to be. I began to see, though, that going back to yesterday—or rather, the day before yesterday—wasn’t going to work, because, like Alice, “I was a different person then.” So I decided to try go back to the person I was just yesterday, the pro-life activist with a clear, balanced, healthy perspective.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Whenever I’d lost sight of the babies before I’d looked at abortion victim photography, really looked at it, and reminded myself that that happened three hundred times every day. And then I would be filled again with a sense of urgency, a righteous indignation if you will, and I would be driven back out onto the streets where I knew I could make a difference.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>So I looked up pictures of the babies. Mangled arms, tiny legs, tiny baby faces twisted in horrifying expressions of agony. I was filled with horror, my stomach twisted, and inside I felt empty. That’s all. No new sense of purpose. Just empty. Looking back, I’m reminded of what Aslan gently reminded Lucy: “Things never happen the same way twice, dear one.”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I hadn't lost faith in CCBR, but when I saw the carnage littering the battlefield, eerily silent after the raucous cries of those leading the battle for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I didn’t see how we could go back to how things were. I said with Alice, “This is impossible,” and the Mad Hatter’s rebuke, “Only if you believe it is,” fell on deaf ears. I decided to keep trudging by myself, to do what I felt I had to do and not tell anyone how I’d changed. Now I see that, as C.S. Lewis explained, “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>We’re allowed to hurt. We’re <i>supposed</i> to hurt. After all, those who see the world as it should be are, as was explained to Alice, “a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I needed to be reminded that while it’s true that teenagers cannot be whisked back in time to a beautiful country house with a loving family, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for their future. And not only that, feeling defeated over a battle lost that you weren’t even given the opportunity to fight in is a horrendous excuse for giving up the opportunity to win the next one. Because we can win, I really and truly believe that with God’s help, we can.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 3993" title="" width="415" height="440" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I needed to be reminded that even though I had what others did not and that I can’t give them what I had, there is more than one kind of happy ending. The people I spoke to didn’t feel the same kind of grief I did over their childhoods, because they really had no idea what they were missing. They couldn’t go back, back to homes with loving parents, back to a place with no homelessness and drug addictions, back to a place where sex was about love and not about instant gratification that leaves you empty. But they could go forward. Forward to a place where they looked for someone to love them, not just use them. Forward to a place where they weren’t crippled by the guilt of abortion because they’d chosen not to have one. Forward to a place of peace in the knowledge that their child filled a couple’s empty arms. A place of love, comfort, and safety. Not exactly childhood, but the next best thing.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>I did not believe in fairy-tales for nothing. CS Lewis really put it best: “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” I didn’t meet the dragons early in life, but I did have the examples to go by if and when I indeed met one. I just forgot what that looked like for awhile.</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>Maybe you’ve forgotten, too. I think we all probably forget sometimes, though hopefully not for as long as I did. But if you have, C.S. Lewis encourages us to take heart, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again,” and when you do, you may hear Aslan’s encouraging whisper, “Courage, dear heart.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>And then you will remember the children that have been saved and will be saved. And you will not only see the pain in the eyes of the people in front of you, but the spark of hope that appears when you explain that there is another, a better way open to them. You will be able to see that, even though we can’t go back, even though we can’t rebuild shattered windows, that if we stand up and speak out we will gain ground, step by step. And best of all, you will be able to imagine, to see in your mind’s eye, a glorious, free, abortion-less Canada.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:13px"><span>You’ll be able to imagine it, if you take Carroll’s gentle reminder: “But, I nearly forgot. You must close your eyes, otherwise you won’t see anything.”</span></p> Abortion Activism Justina Van Manen Pro-Choice Pro-Life Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:04:54 +0000 jcvanmaren 5410 at Thomas Clarkson's question--and the answer that changed the world <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>There are moments in the lives of men and women that, in retrospect, shift the course of human history in ways too enormous and too wonderful to even imagine at the time. In those moments, often against their will, their hearts are set ablaze for something much bigger than themselves. One of those moments was in the year 1785, when a twenty-five-year old aspiring English clergyman named Thomas Clarkson decided to enter an essay competition. He chose the topic of the slave trade—not, as he said, because he had strong feelings on the matter, but for the purpose of “obtaining literary honour.”</p><p><img src="" alt="File 3984" title="" width="400" height="300" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>It was what Clarkson discovered that horrified him. His eyes ran across descriptions of filthy slave ships with bellies full of suffering humanity and belching the stench of death. He read of slaves being tortured and then burned like used farm equipment. The sheer scale of the tragedy he had uncovered hiding in plain sight gripped him. “In the daytime I was uneasy,” he wrote. “I had little rest. I sometimes never closed my eyelids for grief…I always slept with a candle in my room, that I might rise out of bed and put down such thoughts as might occur to me in the night…conceiving that no arguments of any moment should be lost in so great a cause.”</p><p>The essay, which became the stuff of his nightmares, won first prize. The literary honor he had sought was his—but the victory was empty. Already a deacon in the Anglican church, he headed off to London to begin a promising career in the Church of England. It was on the road to London that everything changed. As historian Adam Hochschild writes in <em>Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves</em>:</p><p><em>Over six feet tall, Clarkson had thick red hair and large, intense blue eyes that looked whomever he spoke to directly in the face. Riding to the capital in the black garb of a clergyman-to-be, he found himself, to his surprise, thinking neither of his prospects in the church nor of the pleasure of winning the prize. It was slavery itself that “wholly engrossed my thoughts. I became at times very seriously affected while upon the road. I stopped my horse occasionally, dismounted, and walked. I frequently tried to persuade myself in these intervals that the contents of my Essay could not be true. The more however I reflected on them, or rather upon the authorities on which they were founded, the more I gave them credit.” These feelings grew more intense at the midpoint of his journey, as he was riding down a long hill towards a coach station where the road crossed the River Rib. “Coming in sight of Wades Mill in Hertfordshire, I sat down disconsolate on the turf by the roadside and held my horse. Here a thought came into my mind, that if the contents of the Essay were true, it was time some person should see these calamities to their end.” If there is a single moment at which the antislavery movement became inevitable, it was the day in June 1785 when Thomas Clarkson sat down by the side of the road at Wades Mill. </em></p><p>That thought stands out starkly, defining a man of moral clarity: “If the contents of the Essay were true, <em>it was time some person should see these calamities to their end</em>.” Clarkson could not unsee what he had seen, and he could not forget what he had learned. The weight of this knowledge pressed down on his conscience, demanding a response. He did not know what that response could be, he only knew that one was demanded of him. Hochschild recalls Clarkson’s turmoil:</p><p><em>Long months of doubt followed his roadside moment of revelation. Could a lone, inexperienced young man have “that solid judgement…to qualify him to undertake a task of such magnitude and importance; --and with whom was I to unite?” But each time he doubted, the result was the same: “I walked frequently into the woods, that I might think on the subject in solitude, and find relief in my mind there. But there the question still recurred, ‘Are these things true?’—Still the answer followed as instantaneously ‘They are.’—Still the result accompanied it, ‘Then surely some person should interfere.’” </em></p><p>It was one question, asked and answered over and over again, that eventually drove Thomas Clarkson to devote his life to freeing the slaves: <em>Are these things true?</em> If they were—and he <em>knew</em> they were—<em>Then surely some person should interfere.</em> That person would be Clarkson himself.</p><p>Thomas Clarkson is one of those great men who becomes a victim of his own success: he and his fellow activists at the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade did such an effective job at transforming the British Empire into a Commonwealth that despised slavery that many forgot Clarkson had even existed, so distant was the memory of an England where men stood up in Parliament and defended the barbarisms of West Indies plantation owners and ships loaded with murder and mayhem. Clarkson’s colleague William Wilberforce is somewhat better remembered, but he, too, is not given the credit he deserves for functioning as the conscience of the British Empire for tireless decades.</p><p>Wilberforce was the politician, and Clarkson was the agitator. His journeys in search of new evidence to bring before the eyes of the British people and Parliament were breathtaking in their enormity and tenacity. He travelled more than 35,000 miles on horseback through England, Scotland, and Wales, tracking down witnesses and spreading the word of the slave trade’s horrors, using handcuffs, shackles, and thumbscrews he had obtained to highlight the brutality taking place in the realms of the King. He was consumed by his desire to bring the slave trade to an end. “I seldom got home till two,” he wrote, “and into bed till three. &nbsp;My clothes, also, were frequently wet through with the rains. The cruel accounts I was daily in the habit of hearing…often broke my sleep in the night, and occasioned me to awake in an agitated state.”</p><p>One can almost imagine Clarkson during these dark, rain-swept nights, riding on horseback down deserted roads, the shackles of slaves clanking in his saddlebags and water running in rivulets from his fiery red hair down his face. Through these days and weeks of ceaseless toil and often disappointment, the question probably sprang to his mind time and again, driving him forward: <em>Are these things true?</em></p><p>They were. And the perpetrators faced an absolutely formidable foe in Clarkson, a foe who fought them relentlessly, until the slave trade collapsed in 1807 under the weight of the damning evidence Clarkson had compiled. In 1833, slavery itself was banished in the British Empire. The movement that saw the wretched trade’s demise began when a twenty-five-year old man read of the horrors, and asked himself one question, over and over<em>: Are these things true?</em> That movement truly began when Thomas Clarkson realized that answering <em>yes</em> to that question gave him a unique responsibility. His answer made him one of history’s truly unique heroes.</p><p>That’s why when I found a three-page letter in tiny, scrawled handwriting at a rare Bibles dealer a few months ago, I was thrilled to purchase it. The letter was handwritten by Thomas Clarkson in 1841 five years before his death, to an abolitionist and suffragette, Elizabeth Pease. It was sealed in black wax, with the initials <em>TC</em> stamped into it. In the letter, Clarkson relates to Pease his recent meeting with two black abolitionists, Charles Remond and John Collins, in which they discussed the American anti-slavery movement and Clarkson wrote with some concern about William Lloyd Garrison’s radical approaches to Christianity. “Were the Sabbath and a Ministry to be abolished,” Clarkson wrote to Pease, “in less than a Century Men would forget that there was a God &amp; Religious Principle would be done away, and we should fall into Heathenism far worse than the ancients, because from the great external knowledge we possess, we should be capable of doing greater Mischief. Were America to adopt these…Fancies as a Nation, she would be totally without any moral Principle, and civilized Europe would have no commercial Dealings with her because it could not trust to her Word.”</p><p>There are prophetic echoes in the 175-year-old words written by a man who was by then the elder statesman of the global abolitionist movement. I photographed the letter and sent the pictures to Dr. John Oldfield, the Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull (Hull being Wilberforce’s boyhood home.) He responded to me several days later, after completing the transcription: “This is an interesting letter, not least because of [Clarkson’s] assessment of Garrison. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before…I was also intrigued by [Clarkson’s] own self-awareness as the leader of the anti-slavery cause. “</p><p>Heroes like Thomas Clarkson need to be remembered, because examples like Clarkson’s need to be followed. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of a cause that was extraordinarily unpopular at the time—at one point he was nearly flung off a Liverpool dock by slave traders intent on drowning him. But he pushed on, because he knew that the horrors he had discovered were truly happening, and that “surely some person should interfere.” Five years after penning the letter that lies on my desk next to me, Thomas Clarkson passed away on September 2, 1846. His work battling the slave trade can be summed up best, perhaps, in Clarkson’s own words: “It has furnished us also with important lessons. It has proved what a creature man is! how devoted he is to his own interest! to what a length of atrocity he can go, unless fortified by religious principle! But as if this part of the prospect would be too afflicting, it has proved to us, on the other hand, what a glorious instrument he may become in the hands of his Maker; and that a little virtue, when properly leavened, is made capable of counteracting the effects of a mass of vice!”</p><p>If everyone who lays his or her eyes on an injustice and asks, “Is it true?” and answers the affirmative with the question, “then surely some person should interfere!” will, as Clarkson did, make the world around them a better place—but only if, as Clarkson did, they realize that the person they are thinking of must be themselves. So look around, and ask yourselves a dangerous question: <em>What is true?</em></p> abolitionist Abortion Elizabeth Pease Jonathon Van Maren Thomas Clarkson William Lloyd Garrison William Wilberforce Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:45:17 +0000 jvanmaren 5406 at Uniting for life in Alberta <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Cameron Côté</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>When my colleague Alex and I pulled out of Calgary around 6:45am on Saturday morning for the first ever Unite Life Conference, we really didn’t know what to expect. The Wilberforce Project (formerly Alberta Pro-life) had organized this one day conference where pro-life groups from across Alberta could come together to network and brainstorm about a common vision. We had already met up with Jeremy, leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party, who was catching a ride with us out to the Fairmont Hotel in Banff where the event was being held, and we knew that there would be representation from all three arms of the pro-life movement; we just didn’t know how well a day full of discussions and networking would go with a room full of people who had never met and likely had very different ideas when it came to the direction that we as a movement should be going.&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 3982" title="" width="415" height="553" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>We couldn’t help but smile about our venue, a picturesque hotel nestled in the Rocky Mountains, and those smiles only grew as we walked into the conference room and saw a couple of familiar faces. Cam, the political coordinator for The Wilberforce Project (TWP) and a man that both Alex and I had spent many late nights strategizing and brainstorming with, was there. We also saw Jessica, the executive director ALIES and The Back Porch—an eleventh hour pregnancy support ministry located across the street from the abortion facility in Edmonton—,who had spoken at our Activating Alberta conference last year in Edmonton. Soon Jairo, the director of Calgary’s 40 Days for Life campaigns, had arrived, and I chatted with him for a couple of minutes before the program officially started about how this fall’s campaign had gone so far, as well as the possibility of CCBR doing a conversation training workshop for participants later this fall.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>The conference formally started with a brief introduction from Stephanie, the executive director for TWP, who gave time for all of the attendees to give a brief introduction of themselves and their group. It was amazing to see the mix of local and national groups that were represented, as well as groups representing the political, educational, and pastoral arms of the movement. Rae-Lynn and her mom Jacqueline had made the five and a half hour trip from Neerlandia to represent their local chapter of ARPA, Dale and Lorraine came from Edson to represent Edson Right to Life, and Brenda and Sue had trekked all the way up from Lethbridge to represent Lethbridge Right to Life, not to mention the countless groups from Calgary, Edmonton, and elsewhere in Alberta.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Following the introductions, we had a time for small group discussions (also referred to as “Speed Dating”) where we could chat with representatives from other groups that we’d just heard from. As Alex started chatting with Miriam and David from Lutherans for Life, I made my way over to talk to Rae-Lynn about our Florida GAP trip and summer internships. After handing her a stack of applications for both and encouraging her to get all of her friends from high school to apply for them, I talked with Lisa from Life Canada about having more of the young people who have completed CCBR’s internships get involved with and take on leadership within Life Canada. I finished up by talking with Jeff, constituency assistant to Member of Parliament Tom Kmiec, about ways to get the pro-life message more actively represented on the constituency board in Calgary Shepherd.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>We wrapped up the morning by talking about the highlights from this session before heading off to lunch in the beautiful town of Banff, where I chatted with Dale and Lorraine from Edson, Cam from TWP, Melissa, leader of the Doctors Initiative that was being spearheaded by TWP, as well as Jonathon and Travis from Concordia University. We came back together around 1:30pm, and we began talking about some group goal setting. Alex and I talked with Jonathon, Travis, David, and Miriam about the Love Life Conference that they had been running for the previous ten years in Edmonton that had regularly been attracting 50-80 youth and young adults, and how they were taking a break this year to take stock of their plan going forward. We told them that CCBR would not only love to speak at such a conference, but that we’d be willing to help in the organizing as well. We talked with McKenzie and Kevin from Save the Storks, and Jojo from Faith Beyond Belief about doing some talks to the youth groups that they are involved with as well as getting some of their members involved in our trip to Florida.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>We ended the day with some brainstorming about a common vision that could be boiled down to three concrete steps going forward. We agreed that first, we needed to have a seminar that all of our groups could attend that focused on messaging and how to effectively use social media, second, we need to have some kind of forum where people could go to read about what has happened and what will be happening on the political side of things so that we can encourage and thank our pro-life politicians, and lastly that we need to get involved in the curriculum re-write that is currently happening for all grades in Alberta.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>It was so encouraging to have tangible steps going forward that everyone was on board with, and as I drove back to Calgary with Alex and Jeremy it was nice to be reminded of this by the large stack of business cards now filling my wallet. Before I’d left I’d talked with Patrice from the Knights of Columbus and the March for Life committee about an idea for the theme of the upcoming March for Life, and while the March may be the next time that I see many of these wonderful people together again, I know that going forward we’ll be working much closer than ever before. We’re already starting to line up talks and workshops with other groups, and I can’t wait to see all of the other projects that come from this day of networking.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>In closing I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stephanie Fennelly and the team at The Wilberforce Project for putting together such an amazing event, as well as to all of the groups that participated this year. Not only do we have a clear vision to go forward with, but with the contacts that were made I am confident that we’ll be able to work more effectively towards ending the killing of pre-born children in Alberta, and in Canada as a whole.</span></p> Abortion Abortion Alberta Cameron Cote Pro-Choice Pro-Life Thu, 06 Oct 2016 17:48:33 +0000 jcvanmaren 5404 at How horrifying photographs forced a king to give up his colony <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p>By Jonathon Van Maren</p><p>It was near the turn of the century, after abolitionism had swept through Europe and seemingly conquered every defender of slavery, that a young shipping clerk named Edmund Dene Morel noticed something strange while going about his business at the harbor in Antwerp, Belgium. Ships were arriving filled to the brim with rubber—that was to be expected. But they were leaving again for the colony of Belgium’s King Leopold II not with goods to be used in payment, but with guns and ammunition. This was strange, Morel thought. The profits scraped out of the so-called free state of the Congo were gargantuan, but the only investment heading back towards the African continent was soldiers, guns, shackles, and bayonets. This could only mean one thing: regardless of the Belgian king’s flowery philanthropic descriptions of his African endeavors, Leopold must actually be running a slave state in the Congo.</p><p>This discovery, much like Thomas Clarkson’s discovery of the horrors of the slave trade a century before, was to change the course of history. “Brought face to face with evil,” historian Adam Hochschild writes in his magnificent history <em>King Leopold’s Ghost</em>, “Morel does not turn away. Instead, what he sees determines the course of his life and the course of an extraordinary movement, the first great international human rights movement of the twentieth century. [Leopold’s Congo slave state] was the first major atrocity scandal in the age of the telegraph and the camera.” At the age of twenty-eight, Morel quit his job, refused attempts by Leopold and his employers to bribe him, and launched what came to be known as the Congo reform movement. Like the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade before it, the Congo reform movement was driven by a man who would not give up, and powerful, gripping, and graphic evidence of what was taking place in jungles far from the eyes of the Europeans.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 3956" title="" width="280" height="313" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>But we must back up in our story. The fate of the Congo, which was to become the subject of Morel’s passion for justice, was first shaped by another man’s insatiable lust for wealth and power: Leopold II, King of the Belgians. A monarch with enormous ambitions and a very small country, he spent decades searching for a colony that he could call his very own. When the so-called Scramble for Africa began, Leopold was already ahead of the game. He had hired the world-famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley—who uttered the famous phrase “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”—to begin staking his claim in the Congo territories, and sent ambassadors throughout Europe and the United States to persuade other nations to recognize his claim to vast swathes of African territory.</p><p>In an insidious irony, he actually took advantage of the anti-slavery sentiment fanned into a wildfire by William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, and legions of abolitionists as a way of achieving a foothold in Africa in the first place. He described himself sanctimoniously as an abolitionist, and launched a pious public relations campaign to present himself as a philanthropist with the abolition of the Arab slave trade and the Christianization of the African peoples as his two great objects. The United States recognized Leopold’s claim to the Congo first. Other nations soon followed. <em>Leopold’s</em> claim, mind you—the Congo was not Belgium’s colony, it was Leopold’s personal fiefdom.</p><p>In spite of his claims of being an ardent abolitionist, the Leopoldian wolf in sheep’s clothing was actually one of the most prolific slavers of his time. Not only was his African mercenary army the <em>Force Publique</em> comprised of men who were in essence slaves, but the entire Congo territory was turned into slave state—many of the slaves directly supplied by Tippu Tip, the most prominent slave-dealer on the African continent, and precisely the sort of man Leopold had promised to root out. Tip, of course, was happy to do business with a man whose capacity for inflicting human misery matched and possibly surpassed his own.</p><p>It is hard to exaggerate the misery inflicted by the iron regime of Leopold as he used bullets, whips, starvation and destruction to extract first ivory and then rubber from the jungles of his private African plantation. His agents and mercenaries were give quotas, and told to fill them even if they had to carve them out of the flesh of the Congolese people. Almost immediately, ivory was stolen from the people at gunpoint. Unable to bushwhack their way through the dense African jungle on their own, Belgian agents conscripted thousands of Congolese as porters, forcing them to carry heavy loads of wine, food, guns and ammunition to be fired into the bodies of their countrymen. These marches were accompanied by whippings of savage ferocity, and the African captives made many of these jungle marches with chains wrapped tightly around their necks. No one was too young to be beaten, either—one Belgian magistrate in Congo recalled little children, many of them around the ages of seven or eight years old, being flogged 25 lashes with the infamous <em>chicotte</em> whip (made of hippopotamus rawhide) for the crime of laughing in front of a white man. Whippings of over one hundred lashes were not uncommon, and were generally fatal. These could be doled out for the most nonsensical offenses.</p><p><img src="" alt="File 3961" title="" width="415" height="302" class="ibimage ibimage_left"/></p><p>In the Belgian colonizers as in the West Indies plantation owners and the slave ship captains, we see how evil corrodes and destroys the soul, eating away at any sense of humanity or empathy until only a black void remains. Women were kidnapped to be used as sex slaves, and sold into prostitution or used as field hands when the white officials were done with them. Even young girls at missionary schools were not safe, and could be snatched by white officers with virtual impunity. In one particularly horrific instance, a Belgian officers shot sixty soldiers consecutively for refusing to work on Sunday. Even if killings were frowned upon, the punishment was a slap on the wrist, if anything at all. Joseph Conrad himself wrote <em>Heart of Darkness</em> about the horrors he saw in Leopold’s Congo, describing scenes he witnessed his diary: slave columns chained together by iron collars, black bodies along the roadside with bullet-holes indicating summary executions, and even a skeleton still tied to a post.</p><p>The one exception to European barbarism was the Protestant missionaries, and as such they were usually left alone or even specifically provided for during rebellions against the Belgians by the Africans who respected their devotion to the Gospel and their genuine love towards their African neighbors. Later, reports and photographs from missionaries would be one of Morel’s prime avenues for evidence against the Leopold regime.</p><p>When the demand for ivory gave way to a demand for rubber, the killing in the Congo reached near-genocidal levels. In order to force the Africans to disperse in the forest and harvest the rubber, the traders would raid the villages, loot them, and hold the women hostage until their desperate husbands and family members had produced the demanded amount of rubber. Village elders, chiefs, or children would also do for hostages in a pinch. The conditions of their imprisonment were so harsh that death was not uncommon, and the rape of women by the guards was frequent. When reprisals and executions were deemed necessary, officers demanded the severed right hands of the victims be brought back to them so that each bullet allotted to their soldiers could be proven to have been used to kill someone rather than frittered away on hunting. When soldiers wanted to use their ammunition for recreational purposes but did not feel like shooting anyone, they would often simply chop an African child’s hand off and submit that as proof that the bullet had been put to good use. Sometimes entire villages were slaughtered for a refusal or inability to provide rubber.</p><p>Throughout the 1890s, accounts of atrocities in the Congo had trickled out to the press via visitors and Protestant missionaries, and for years they had been skillfully parried by Leopold, who always professed that he was shocked, horrified, and would be addressing the situation immediately. His public relations resembled that of the campaign launched by the slave traders against the abolitionists, and one wonders if he actually studied it: He lied, he deflected, he pointed to where other atrocities took place, he attempted to undermine and discredit his opponents, he appealed to the so-called greater good, he dehumanized the victims and appealed to European racism, and he simply ignored accusations. But when former shipping clerk Edmund Morel set to work to expose Leopold, his responses would inevitably fail.</p><p>After his discovery at the Antwerp harbor, Morel set to work. He soon produced a staggering body of meticulously researched work detailing the inner workings of the Congo slave state, relying on dozens of sources. The beleaguered missionaries of the Congo were thrilled. “Suddenly,” Hochschild writes, “here was someone not only eager to publish their testimony, but to put it in the hands of the British parliament. Morel barraged the missionaries with requests for more information. They gladly complied, and also began sending what turned out to be powerful tools for Morel’s campaign: photographs—of devastated villages, severed hands, children with missing hands and feet.” These images shocked and horrified men and women across Europe, and an outcry against Leopold’s private reign of terror began. “The Congo was a special and extraordinary evil calling for special means of attack,” wrote Morel. “If the British people could really be roused, the world might be roused…Britain had played that part before [in the campaign against slavery] …could we raise a throbbing in that great heart of hers?”</p><p><img src="" alt="File 3965" title="" width="415" height="589" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></p><p>They could. Sir Roger Casement, a British consul, went on an investigative trip and was horrified by the rape of the Congo. Morel, who was writing a weekly newspaper as well as producing an enormous amount of material relentlessly attacking an increasingly frustrated and flailing Leopold, launched the Congo Reform Association and obtained the endorsement of the great-grandson of William Wilberforce to place themselves as heirs and successors to the abolitionist movement. And just as horrific images of tortured Africans and packed slave ship holds seething with desperate and dying humanity inflamed the people of Great Britain against the slave trade, history repeated itself as Morel and allies such as Alice Harris Seeley set out across Europe with the graphic evidence of Leopold’s atrocities.</p><p>“A master of the media of his day,” Hochschild writes, “Morel made particularly effective use of photography. A central part of almost every Congo protest meeting was a slide show, comprising some sixty vivid photos of life under Leopold’s rule; half a dozen of them showed mutilated Africans or their cut-off hands. The pictures, ultimately seen in meetings and the press by millions of people, provided evidence that no propaganda could refute.” Across Europe, imagery held the imaginations of the people hostage. In Switzerland, for example, “men grew pale and tears collected in women’s eyes when Alice Harris’s pictures of maimed children were shown.” Artists added their own graphic satire: savage cartoons were published showing Leopold dining on a meal of severed African heads, his gigantic white beard dripping with blood, his claw-like hands grasping the shrunken heads of murdered natives. In the United States, Congo reformers showed more slides, again with “photographs of adults and children with their hands cut off, forced laborers at work as porters, a devastated village.”</p><p>Morel’s campaigning and Alice Harris’s photographs, according to Dr. Richard Benjamin of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, created a “groundswell in public opinion.” That groundswell forced Leopold in 1908 to turn over his private fiefdom to Belgium, who felt that his colony was becoming an international disgrace. He extracted millions of francs from the Belgian government in the negotiation process, and left to live in one of the many residences he’d built with Congo blood money with his mistress, a former prostitute nearly fifty years younger than himself. Historians estimate that nearly ten million Africans died during his reign of terror.</p><p>While abuses did continue in the Congo—Morel declared Leopold’s relinquishing of the Congo a “partial victory”—what is exceptional about the Congo reform movement is that in barely a decade, using vivid visuals and horrifying testimonies, an incredible human rights movement successfully inflamed thousands of people across two continents against injustice, and forced a monarch to give up his private colony. Although the Congolese were still denied self-government and still suffered, although to a lesser extent, under colonial rule, Hochschild notes that “the Congo reformers for roughly a decade were spectacularly successful in keeping the territory in the spotlight.” When hidden injustices were revealed, those injustices came under attack.</p><p>For human rights to be restored, two things were necessary: people like Edmund Morel and Alice Harris, who would not give up, and visual evidence of the atrocities that were taking place, that could not be ignored.</p> Adam Hochschild Alice Harris Alice Harris Seeley Edmund Morel Jonathon Van Maren King Leopold King Leopold II King Leopold's Ghost The Congo Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:20:50 +0000 jvanmaren 5393 at The off-season <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Cameron Côté</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I’ve played baseball for 20 out of the 26 summers of my life, and while some of you may think of it as a stretch, I can’t help but think of some of the similarities between an average baseball season and working for CCBR in the Calgary office.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 3952" title="" width="415" height="233" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Having just finished co-leading this summer’s internship program with my colleague and friend Alex Vande Bruinhorst, I think first of the incredible team that I’ve had the privilege to work with for these past four months. With so many amazing people filling the different positions necessary to get the job done, it was truly special to see the well oiled machine that the Calgary office became, especially towards the end of the internship programs. Instead of games and tournaments we had events and campaigns that we worked towards, and it is clear now that though it was by no means a perfect season, it was a very successful season by anyone’s standards. We accomplished more activism than any Calgary internship had before, and over 500,000 people were reached through our projects, with hundreds of thousands shifting towards feeling more negatively about abortion.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Now that the interns have returned home though, there’s also an eerie similarity to the offseason for baseball, which has always been a time to reflect on the season, evaluate our team’s performance, and prepare for the coming season. Instead of watching game tapes and honing skills in a gym, Alex and I are developing our vision for next summer, incorporating the feedback that we received from this past summer, and working on ways to improve our leadership so as to lead another strong team next year.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>Baseball season may be done for the year but there’s still lots of work to be done to get ready for next season, and with volunteer activism ramping up at universities and high school, who can forget about soccer season? While it may be a summer sport in most of Canada, from September to April for 16 years of my life I was playing soccer in balmy Victoria, BC, so now is the time to team up with Rachel and work more with the volunteers, something that she gets to do all year round!</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span><b>Rachel’s Volunteer Spotlight</b></span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>One of the most committed pro-life families that I have encountered is Maria, her husband Dwight, and their incredible children. Whenever I finish doing activism with them I am left feeling inspired. I think the biggest reason for this is that whether they are dropping off postcards or doing “Choice” Chain, they do it joyfully. What I mean by this is that they express such joy in the changed hearts and minds and even just the ability that they have to do this. For this family, activism is not a burden and they don’t get weighed down by the complexity of getting all of the family members out all the time; they see what works for their family and make it happen accordingly. It is not that each family member has perfectly formed arguments and only the highest caliber of skill in conversation, but it’s that they do this work with passion for the pre-born babies that need them. We all need this passion. Why? Because you and I ARE the pro-life movement, and as somber as the situation truly is, it should be our joy that we can serve, and like so many committed members of this team, bring real change for our country. &nbsp;</span></p> Abortion Activism Cameron Cote Pro-Choice Pro-Life Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:08:36 +0000 jcvanmaren 5389 at Brimming over with pain and hurt <div class="fb-social-like-widget"><fb:like href="" send="false" layout="box_count" show_faces="false" width="50" action="like" font="verdana" colorscheme="light"></fb:like></div><p style="font-size:14px">By Meagan Nijenhuis</p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>In a country where there is no protection for pre-born children and nearly 300 little boys and girls are walked to their death every single day, there is a lot of devastation. Nearly 600 parents, 1200 grandparents, countless siblings, and innumerable friends suffer a loss each day anew. I’ve heard before that people are like buckets. All too often people are brimming over with a lot of pain and hurt. When these are the people standing in front of us on the street, there is no room for logical arguments in their bucket. Before anything else can be added, some of the pain needs to be poured out.</span></p><p><a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="File 3949" title="" width="360" height="640" class="ibimage ibimage_right"/></a></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>When they are standing in front of us, we have an opportunity to truly love these people by listening. They can begin to pour out the pain and hurt if we are willing to listen.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>This past summer I was privileged to be a part of the CCBR summer internship program in Calgary. It was the very last “Choice” Chain of the summer. We were standing along the C-train line downtown and I was engaged in active, fast-paced conversations the whole time. People were recognizing the inhumanity of abortion and I had the opportunity to let them know about the lack of protection for pre-born children in Canada. One person after the next was saying, “Yes, I need to do something!” But my last conversation didn’t follow the same pattern.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I caught a young man’s eye and asked, “What do you think about abortion?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“I don’t think I can tell a woman what to do with her body. She needs to be able to make that choice.”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>We talked about human rights, agreeing that human rights should be for all humans, and worked through defining when a human being comes into existence. We discussed how difficult it would be for a woman to raise her child when she is poor or when her child has a mental disability.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He said, “Sometimes it’s just better if a woman has an abortion."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I agreed that it would be difficult to be pregnant and then raise a child in either of these situations. I followed this with a question: “What if I told you that I have a little 2-year-old girl with Down’s Syndrome and I just lost my job so I can no longer provide for her. Can I kill her?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He responded, “Well, I don't think you should. But you could."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"Wait, so then if your friend was going to take her 2-year-old to a clinic to have her dismembered—to have her killed—you would be ok with that?"&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"No, no, of course not!"&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>So I asked him, “Then if something is wrong, shouldn’t we do everything possible that we can to stop it?” I let that sit a minute before asking, “Can you think of something that is always wrong?" When he didn't answer I offered, "Would you say rape is always wrong?”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"Yes, of course."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“Now, what if someone at the C-train station over there was sexually assaulting someone. What would you do? Shouldn’t we try to do everything we possibly can to stop that from happening?" He was nodding along with me. "Ultimately, whether or not the wrong is done isn’t in our control, but we have to at least try to stop it.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He agreed that we should, and I asked him, “If killing children is wrong, then isn’t abortion wrong? Because this is a child (motioning to my sign), and isn't the difference between her and a toddler simply her age?"&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He switched topics and said, "If we make abortion illegal as it is in 3</span><span style="font-size:9.3px"><sup>rd</sup></span><span> world countries, women will die because of abortion."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>A crazy analogy popped into my head. I asked him to forgive me because I knew it was going to sound ridiculous: “Imagine this, what if women were taking their toddlers to a clinic to have them killed, but the clinic was on an island, surrounded by a lava flow with only a stepping stone path to get across. It is extremely treacherous and if they try to cross, they could be seriously harmed. They may even die. Now should we build a bridge for them so that they can get across safely to kill their children?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He looked at me with wide eyes, “No! Of course not.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>So I asked him why we should keep abortion legal to protect women if abortion is killing their children. Again it was as if there was a block. Something was there that I didn't understand because he responded again, "No, women need to be able to have abortions."</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He kept calling it that: “abortion.” Whenever I said “killing a pre-born child,” he thought I was being extreme. I realized that we needed to define abortion so I asked him, “But what is abortion?” He looked like he really didn't want to answer. So I said, “This is what it looks like (highlighting my picture). It’s killing a baby. Before she was alive, but the doctor tore her limb from limb, took off her head and now she’s dead. That is what abortion does to little boys and girls.”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"I don't know . . . I’m just indifferent."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I couldn’t believe that. He was a genuine young man but his eyes were pleading with me to believe him. I asked him if he has any children, nephews, maybe nieces.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"A little brother."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>I asked him how he would feel if it was his little brother who looked like this. He told me that it isn’t what he’d want, but it would have to be up to his mother. She ultimately gets the final say. I asked him, "What if your brother was dismembered like this when he’d been in his crib?" His face fell and he didn't answer. My mind was searching desperately for how to reach him.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>“Have you always had the view that you have now?”&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"No, it shifts with different people I've met . . . My ex-girlfriend . . . we had an abortion. It was so hard to see her come out of the clinic room crying.”</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>My heart broke. I told him I was sorry for his loss and asked him how he was doing. I told him about the website for post-abortive help on the back of the brochure.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"Have you been able to tell anyone about it?"&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"Only a few close friends . . . not my parents. We were so young. We didn't think we could raise a baby."&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>"What would you do if the person you are now was back in that situation?” I asked him. “What would you do?"&nbsp;</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>He said, "I wouldn't do it." He kept looking at the 10-week fetus, lying in pieces in the picture on my sign. He was silent for a long time and then, "That is horrible." He was no longer indifferent. He had been protecting himself for so long that at first he couldn’t process what was on my sign. But after talking about his experience and acknowledging his abortion as a loss, he recognized what had happened behind that door his girlfriend had walked through. He thanked me before he walked away.</span></p><p style="font-size:14px"><span>It’s a beautiful thing to be given the opportunity to listen, to allow people to pour out some of their pain and hurt. Every person on the street has stories that have made them who they are now. We can’t possibly begin to understand it all in our short interaction with them but we must be willing to listen. Only then can their bucket be emptied of some of the hurting and filled with love instead.</span></p> Abortion Meagan Nijenhuis Pro-Choice Pro-Life Street Activism Thu, 22 Sep 2016 19:24:12 +0000 jcvanmaren 5387 at