#Stand4Life in Austin

Thursday at 5:30 am, after a 10 hour greyhound bus ride to meet Students For Life in Austin, I was unsure of what to expect from the many pro-abortion supporters I knew had gathered at the Texas state capitol.

The first day was great- the Students for Life group got to meet Rick Santorum, who encouraged us in our fight for the unborn. I definitely consider him to be one of my personal heros, so having him speak to us was amazing! We also met with Texas Representatives Bryan Hughes and Steve Toth, who welcomed us to the Capitol with open arms and lots of prayers. Later on, these two fine gentlemen would provide our group with hotel rooms just for us to shower in, after the YMCA kicked SFLA out.

After lunch, we headed down to San Antonio to meet the Planned Parenthood bus tour for a silent protest. There are pictures of some of the signs below, although several of them were simply too vulgar to post. While the people that showed up for that event weren’t as bad as the ones we would see the next day, there was still some vitriol hurled our way. But most horrifying to me was that when people read the sign the girl next to me was holding, that said “Wendy Stands With Gosnell”, they had no idea who Gosnell is.

Friday morning we arrived at the Capitol around 10 am and got to work. Some of us, like me, were passing out red “LIFE” tape; others were going around getting our fellow pro-lifers to sign the Statement of Peace, vowing to remain a peaceful presence; still others handed out snacks and water to ALL of those standing in line waiting to enter the gallery, pro-life or not.

At lunch, we walked to a park near the Capitol, where the Austin Knights of Columbus were nice enough to provide us with burgers, chips, cookies and drinks. Earlier in the week they had provided SFLA with many inflatable mattresses so that we didn’t have to sleep on the floors of the churches we were staying at.

When we returned from lunch, Representative Bob Duell provided us with blue shirts to pass out, along with water for anyone that needed it. Once back inside, things had taken a turn for the ugly- as we prayed, we were yelled at repeatedly (See videos below) and we began to hear the reports of DPS confiscating bricks and bottles of urine and feces, that pro-aborts had planned to throw at the senators after voting. At one point, a member of our group was violently shoved by the protesters as he recorded the scene in the Rotunda. We had heard other rumors about potential violence planned by the protesters, and had been warned that we might be asked to evacuate at any moment.

Keeping this in mind, a friend and I got in line for the gallery, hoping to be there when the historic vote finally went down. As we snaked through the line, things continued to get louder and louder as the majority of the pro-abortion crowd gathered in the rotunda, chanting, and strangely bouncing tampons off an orange flag. As we neared the gallery, the roar grew so loud that we could hardly hear each other talk, we later found out that this is when the group of women tried to padlock themselves to the gallery railing, one of which succeeded and had to be cut free. Shortly after this, we were informed that DPS had determined that the atmosphere was too dangerous for those wearing blue, and pro-lifers were being escorted out of the public parts of the Capitol, and into various offices. Our group gathered in Representative Hughes office, where we were locked in for our own safety and guarded by DPS officers.

As more than fifty people sat in the office, we were able to watch the live feed of the vote, and saw history in the making. When the final session started in the wee hours of Saturday morning, our group stood in a cramped office and prayed along with the Senate, while the pro-abortion advocates outside the gallery booed the same prayer. Minutes later, cheers rang out all around me and tears of joy were shed, as the final vote count was announced and the bill officially passed. A victory for the unborn had been achieved, and I was glad I had been on the right side of history. But history was not the only thing I had experienced in Austin. As I knelt in prayer in the rotunda, and was surrounded by hundreds of pro-abortion protesters angrily mocking my faith, I became convinced that I also experienced spiritual warfare. As a Christian, I felt secure that God would keep me safe, and I knew there were people all over the nation praying for our safety, but in my heart I knew fear.

I am so thankful for the Texas DPS who worked hard to ensure our safety, and to Representative Hughes for providing us a safe harbor in this storm. I am also grateful to the many people who donated food and supplies to the SFLA group, so that we could focus on supporting the bill, and saving babies!

Below I have compiled pictures and videos of the sights and sounds from this weekend. WARNING- some of the signs are very vulgar and may contain foul language. Unless otherwise noted, they are my personal photos and videos.

“Pray you’ll need it” Chant

“You Don’t Care if Women Die” Chant

“Pro-Lifers Only Care About Fetuses”

Every time I hear this one, I cringe. It’s so patently and obviously false that it took me awhile to realize that it needed an article. But with the recent events in D.C., Texas, and now North Carolina, I’ve been seeing meme after meme on social media touting this argument as a fact. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

 1. Pro-life legislation is leading the charge to protect women.

After the shocking discoveries at the disgusting Gosnell clinic, pro-life leaders have been leading the fight to make sure that Gosnell will never happen again. For instance, in Texas now, proposed legislation would require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other outpatient surgical clinics. Other states, like Louisiana, have passed legislation banning the dangerous practice of webcam chemical abortions, where no actual doctor examines the patient. Some states, learning from Gosnell, have passed new laws or have begun to reinforce their existing abortion clinic regulations, ensuring that dangerous practices are not slipping through the cracks. All of these measures will make abortion safer for women by holding the people who perform them responsible for maintaining the same standards of basic care that other medical professionals a required to uphold.

2. Crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes help women and children in need.

I had the privilege of visiting an amazing Woman’s Care Center in Indiana recently, and there are many similar centers all over the country. Not only do they provide counseling to women experiencing crisis pregnancies, but they also continue to care for the woman once she chooses life. Some centers have the resources to provide prenatal medical care and have employee or volunteer doctors and nurses; others help women apply for state benefits to ensure they get the care and nutrition they need. Many of them have a points system, where expectant mothers attend classes that teach them about parenting issues such as lactation techniques, proper discipline, nutrition, and basic care standards. When they attend classes, they earn points, which they can use to “buy” the things they need for their babies – food, cribs, clothes, toys, and more. They also help set up adoption for those women who are not ready or able to be mothers. Similarly, Maternity Homes house women in need and give them the resources they need to become good mothers.

march-for-life33. Data appears to indicate that pro-life people are more generous.

According to Gallup, 66% of those who consider themselves “conservative” are also pro-life. This comes into the argument when you look at studies that show that conservatives are more likely than their liberal counterparts (73% of which are pro-choice) to give to charities, donate a larger percent of their income to charity, volunteer more often, and give blood more. Since a large majority of conservatives are pro-life, it is safe to assume that most pro-life people donate or volunteer at elevated ranks as well.

 4. Personal examples

There are many other ways that many continue their pro-life ministry, including personally adopting children, or being foster parents like President Ronald ReaganGovernor Sam Brownback, and Representatives Michele Bachmann and Tim Huelskamp, among others. Some may volunteer or donate to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes, and many other charities.

The bottom line is that this claim is completely false. Despite being a commonly repeated accusation against the pro-life community, it isn’t backed up by social science research. Don’t be discouraged when you hear this smear repeated, as this is just a desperate attempt by the pro-abortion lobby to paint us as the morally deficient side of the argument. It’s like Margaret Thatcher once said: “If they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Adoption Myths

1. Your baby will end up in foster care

Many abortion advocates will claim that there are not enough people willing to adopt and point to the fact that there are an estimated 400,540 children in the American foster care system. While this number is sobering, and steps should definitely be taken to reduce it as soon as possible, it is not a number that affects adoption as a viable alternative to abortion for women who are not ready for parenthood.

Let’s look at the facts: according to a 2011 study by the Health and Human Services Department, an estimated 2.6 million Americans have taken concrete step towards adoption, and an estimated 18.5 million Americans have at least considered adopting a child. The HHS study additionally states that those seeking to adopt showed a preference for children under two – a criterion that newborns certainly would meet.

When a birth mother decides on adoption, she can seek out any number of private adoption companies that will help her connect with a family who desperately wants to adopt her baby. Foster care is not even in the picture.

This brings us to the next myth:

2. You will never know if your child is being taken care of

A 2012 study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that 95% of private adoptions in American are “open adoptions.” An open adoption means that the birth mother chooses the family for her baby, and both parties agree to the sharing of information, and to maintain a certain level of ongoing contact throughout the years. In an open adoption, a child grows up knowing where he came from, his medical history, and that the decision to place him for adoption was a decision made out of love.

While there are varying levels of openness, it is the choice of the birth mother, not the adoptive parents, and the birth mother is able to choose a family based on the degree of openness they are willing to agree to.

A 2007 Health and Human Services study looked at the effects of adoption on children and found the following:

  • Adopted children are less likely to live in households where the income is below the poverty line
  • 85% of adopted children are in excellent or very good health
  • 91% of adopted children in the survey had been consistently insured for the past year
  • Only a small minority of adopted children are diagnosed with disorders such as attachment disorder, depression, ADD/ADHD, or behavior or conduct disorders.
  • Over half of adopted school-age children have excellent or very good perform ace in reading and math
  • Adopted children are more likely to be read to every day by their parents, or to be sung to or told stories every day
  • 81% of adoptive parents report their relationship as being very warm and close.

3. Adoption is abandoning your baby

Far from being abandonment, adoption is amazing and admirable. It takes a remarkable amount of selflessness and courage to place a child up for adoption. It means recognizing that you are not able to be the parent your child deserves, and making sacrifices to ensure that she is taken care of the way she should be.

Attitudes on adoption have also changed over the years, with two thirds of Americans having a favorable opinion of adoption. Additionally, two-thirds of Americans have a personal connection with adoption, be it through being an adoptive parent, sibling, or adopted child, or knowing someone who is one of those things.

There are many stories available online detailing how adopted children feel about their adoption, and I personally can attest to my gratefulness to my birth mother.

My birth mother was only 19 when she had me, and she already had 3 other children. Those in the pro-abortion lobby would say that my mother would have been totally justified in aborting me, but she chose life. While I was not adopted at birth, but later placed in foster care with my siblings, I still have a deep respect for the choice my birth mother made in relinquishing her parental rights so that I could be adopted along with my brother and sister (another brother was adopted by a different family). I always knew that I was adopted, and my parents made sure to explain that I was placed for adoption not because I wasn’t loved, but because I was loved very much both by them and by my birth mother.

I am very aware of the different path my life could have taken, and when I look at where I have ended up, I feel a great sense of being blessed beyond what I deserve. My parents are amazing, selfless people (although when I tell them this, they assure me that they are just normal people), who took three children who needed a family and gave them love and stability.

Adoption is a truly amazing thing, and it should be encouraged for those women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. While they might not be ready to be parents, they can still be amazing mothers by giving their children the gift of a family, of love, of security – the gift of hope and a future.

Seauxing LSU

I decided in seventh grade that one day I was going to attend Louisiana State University’s law school, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I’ve bled purple and gold ever since. So when I finally got there last fall, I never expected that in a few short months I would be involved in a lawsuit against the school.

It started in September, when I was gearing up for the 2012 Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, which I’ve participated in for five years now. As part of the silent protest, participants hand out small cards explaining our silence and listing fetal development facts. I had never had any issues with this before, but LSU was different – it had Free Speech Alley. I had spoken to some of my friends who attend the undergraduate campus, and the general consensus was that students were allowed to pass out materials only in Free Speech Alley.

This concerned me, and I wanted to verify it, so I looked up the policy: “Distribution of Printed Material on Campus,” on page 28 of the Student Organization Policy Handbook, which listed the office in charge, strangely, as the Finance and Administration Office. I called and spoke to the assistant to our vice chancellor and chief financial officer. I gave her the details of my event, “Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity,” and told her I was concerned with where I was allowed to pass out my small informational flyers.

She asked me if I was doing this event with a student organization, and told her I was participating on my own, and I was told that I still had to follow the same rules as a student organization.

 LSU’s Free Speech Alley
LSU’s Free Speech Alley.

I was then told that those policies dictated that I could pass out the flyers only if I was in the area known as “Free Speech Alley,” which is a small stretch (about 24 yards) of sidewalk near the LSU Student Union. Also, if I wanted to pass flyers out in Free Speech Alley, I would need to register my event with Campus Life (pg. 19 of Student Org. Policy Manual), as Free Speech Alley has limited space available each day. When I asked if there was an exception if someone asked for one of my flyers, I was told that in that circumstance, I could hand it to him – but only if he asked. I then confirmed all this in a separate phone call with the coordinator for the LSU Finance and Administrative Services office.

The summer before I came to LSU, I was privileged to have attended ADF’s initial Collegiate Academy, where I was first introduced to their Speak Up program that provides university students with resources and legal help with unconstitutional, restrictive speech codes on their campuses. With this in mind, I decided to contact attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, who advised me that this was an unconstitutional violation of my First Amendment rights.

The big decision came next – should I file a lawsuit? On one hand, I would be standing up for my constitutional rights, and making the campus a better place for my fellow students; on the other hand, I might be targeted by unwelcome attention, or punished in some way. I sought the advice of my parents, husband, and in-laws, and did a lot of praying before finally deciding that a lawsuit was the right thing to do.

The lawsuit never went to court. Instead, LSU agreed to revise its speech policy, and the new policy was released last week. Under the newly clarified speech policy, my fellow LSU students are free to distribute literature almost anywhere on campus, and they do not have to obtain prior approval!

I am extremely humbled that I was able to help make this change happen, and I’m thrilled that the new policy will ensure that I and my fellow LSU students are able to freely exercise our freedom of speech. It was a hard decision, but I know that it was the right one, and the attorneys at ADF were so patient and helpful, making sure that I understood exactly what was going on at all times.

If your university has a Free Speech Alley or a restrictive speech policy, I would encourage you to contact ADF and make a stand for free speech on your campus!