Argentina house votes to legalise abortion

Originally published in Life Site News

Lawmakers in one chamber of Argentina’s legislature voted on Thursday to legalise abortion.

By a vote of 129 to 123, the chamber of deputies, the lower chamber of the country’s Congress, approved a bill to legalise abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, as well as late-term abortions in cases of fetal deformity or to protect mothers’ “psychological” health. The result brings the country one step closer to erasing its constitutional protection for preborn babies except in cases of rape or threats to a mother’s life.

The vote was so close that a majority was prepared to reject it as late as three hours before it happened, until La Pampa province lawmaker Sergio Ziliotto announced a last-minute change of heart for himself and two colleagues.

Today’s vote sends the measure to the Argentinian Senate, where it is expected to fail, according to The Economist.

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri claims to be pro-life, but has said he will not veto the bill if it reaches his desk, in deference to the will of the legislature.

The vote follows a contentious public debate both domestically and worldwide, with more than 3 million Argentinians marching to protest repeal and international “human rights” watchdogs shaming Argentina for protecting the rights of preborn humans. Polls have shown the public narrowly divided on the question in the run-up to the vote.

The legislature heard emotional testimony on both sides of the debate, including a man who could have been aborted and a woman who had a secret abortion in a doctor’s apartment kitchen in the 1990s.

“All my life I knew I was adopted: My last name is ‘Walter’ — German — and you’ll notice I’m not that German,” 43-year-old engineer Javier Walter testified, the Washington Times reports. “[My grandmother] told me, ‘I have to ask you for forgiveness … because I wanted for you not to be born.’ And the first thing I did [was] to hug her.”

Actress and singer Muriel Santa Ana, meanwhile, claimed the real choice was not whether abortions will happen, but between “secret abortion or legal abortion.”

Pro-abortion activists claim Argentina’s abortion laws fail to prevent half a million abortions a year, many of which lead to fatal complications and other life-altering harm to women. Therefore, they argue, banning abortion does nothing but make abortions happening anyway more dangerous.

Americans United for Life addressed these arguments in a 2012 report on the state of abortion in Latin America. Citing statistics from Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, it found that illegal abortions represent a small percentage of maternal deaths, 74 out of 306 in 2007.

Further, the report quoted the World Health Organization as acknowledging that “hospital structure” was the “most important variable” to determining maternal deaths. “The availability of essential obstetric care, active emergencies and experts” must be addressed to save women’s lives, AUL concluded, rather than legalising abortion.

Regardless of whether the bill itself ultimately prevails, the vote serves as a marker of a shifting culture, with pro-abortion activists certain it’s just a matter of time before Argentina legalises abortion. If so, it would follow Ireland as another predominantly Catholic nation abandoning the faith’s traditional protection of human life.




Cheers, prayers for Israel as 2-million take part in March for Jesus in Brazil

Israel’s counsul Dori Goren, center, joined Evangelical Christians, who waved Israeli flags and prayed for the Jewish state during the March for Jesus on May 31 in Sao Paulo. (PHOTO: Courtesy/Israel’s consulate in Sao Paulo)

About two million Christians took to the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, last Thursday, for the annual March for Jesus.

The crowd cheered for Israel, waved Israeli flags and prayed for the Jewish state and for the first time in nearly 20 years, Jewish officials were invited to attend the event, including Israel’s consul Dori Goren and the president of the local B’nai B’rith branch, Zeila Sliozbergas.

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“Attending the march is our way to express our gratitude for the evangelical people and the Brazilian people,” said Goren, addressing the gathering from the stage. “The people of Israel bless Brazil and the evangelical people of Brazil.”

The consul received applause for saying that he expected to see the Brazilian embassy transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem soon. He recalled the role of Brazilian diplomat Osvaldo Aranha, who presided over the United Nations vote in 1947 in favor of the resolution that partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab.

“There is a very important alliance between Brazilian Christians and the State of Israel,” Gorel told the Gospel Prime news website. “It was a blessing to be able to see the affection of Brazilians for their country and that it was a great celebration of friendship between the two peoples.”

Pilgrims from Argentina, Mexico, the United States and some African countries joined the event, a 4km parade surrounded by sound trucks playing gospel music.

Global evangelist Andrew Palau, son of Luis Palau, was the featured speaker. Focusing his message on John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” – Palau ended his message with a clear call to faith and repentance. The sea of hands that raised in affirmation to his call was evidence of the impact of the Word. He went on to imploring those who had publicly confessed Jesus Christ to dig into Scripture, get their roots deep into a local church, and pursue God daily. The local participating churches will work over the next several weeks to connect with and disciple those who made decisions.

Established in 1993, Sao Paulo’s March for Jesus is among the biggest religious events in Brazil, the country with the world’s largest Catholic population and second-largest Christian population after the United States.

Sao Paulo is home to half of Brazil’s 120 000-strong Jewish community.




Millions march for life in Argentina as abortion vote looms in national

Argentina March For Life.

Originally published in Life Site News

An estimated 3.6 million Argentinians came together in over 200 different cities in a national “March for Life” to manifest their support for the right to life on Sunday.

The massive show of support for life comes as Argentinian legislators prepare to vote on a bill that would legalize the killing of unborn children under almost any circumstances during the first 14 months of pregnancy.

Demonstrators chanted slogans like “I vote for life,” and carried signs saying, “I want to be born. I am eight weeks old. My life is in your hands,” according to the Argentinian newspaper La Nación. One protester told the newspaper, “We want to demonstrate to the deputies (of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house) that the people doesn’t want abortion to be permitted. It brings two lives to an end: the child’s and the woman’s.”

The precise estimate of 3.6 million demonstrators was provided by the organizers of the march and conveyed by the major media, which for its own part merely recognized that “thousands” had participated.

The estimated number dwarfs the figure of 350 000 demonstrators in a recent “Women’s Day” march in March of this year which supported the abortion legalization bill.

The event is the second mass demonstration against the legalization of abortion in Argentina in recent months. A previous demonstration on March 25 reportedly brought hundreds of thousands of Argentinians to the streets in over 200 cities nationwide.

The bill would allow anyone to claim they were raped, without having to offer proof, or to show that their “physical, psychological, or social health” was threatened by their pregnancy, and thereby to obtain an abortion without any legal penalty. It also permits abortions carried out to kill unborn children who suffer “grave fetal malformations.”

Under current law in Argentina, abortion is classified as “non-punishable” by the law in only two circumstances: pregnancy in cases of rape, and pregnancies in which the health or life of the mother is gravely threatened.

In practice, abortion is seldom approved under these standards in comparison to more liberal regimes. For example, the city of Rosario, which has a population of about 1.3 million inhabitants, had 450 non-punishable abortions in 2016, and the city of Buenos Aires, with a population of almost 2.9 million, allowed 563 non-punishable abortions. Those numbers would be likely to skyrocket if abortion were legalized under the more liberal regime proposed by pro-abortion legislators.

Legislators in the national congress are scheduled to vote on the bill on June 13. A majority in the Chamber of Deputies seems to oppose it, while the Senate reportedly has a solid pro-life majority.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation has reportedly spent more than five million dollars in the last decade funding the organizations that are now pushing for the approval of the abortion legalization bill in Argentina, a fact that has been decried by pro-life groups in the country. However, the IPPF’s expenditures seem not to be paying off.

Although a spate of early polls indicated that a majority of Argentinians were in favor of legalizing abortion, a recent poll commissioned by the government indicates that the number of those who support the pro-life side is now virtually equal to the number who approach the pro-abortion side: 46% to 45%.




Thousands march for life in London

The march for life in London, United Kingdom.

Originally published in The Christian Institute

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to share a pro-life message.

The fifth annual UK March for Life reportedly attracted 4 000 supporters, with pro-lifers marching through Westminster.

The attendance is a record high for the event, which was held in the capital for the first time.

Roman Catholic Bishop John Keenan urged pro-lifers in attendance to continue taking a stand in public.

“You have no idea of the galvanising effect your courage will have if you stand up before the British media courageously, even under attack, and be pro-life. You’re setting the seeds of the next generation.”

“We will win this battle by truth, but we will win it even more by courage”, he added.

Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network and Rachel McKenzie of post-abortive support group Rachel’s Vineyard spoke at the event.

In total, there have been nearly 9 million abortions in Great Britain since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.

Significantly, mothers who had been helped to choose life stood on the platform alongside their children.

On the other side of the world, over one million people marched for life across several countries in Latin America.

In Peru, a reported 800 000 attended a pro-life march in the capital city of Lima, while in Colombia, 400 000 people took part in marches in 53 cities around the country.




Doctor who went to Heaven says God’s love changed her

Dr Mary Neal (PHOTO: CBN News)

Originally published in CBN News

Dr Mary Neal is an orthopedic surgeon who shares her medical practice and her love for outdoor adventure with her husband Bill.

In 1999 they planned an adventure that took Mary on a spiritual journey few have taken and returned to talk about.

“My husband and I really enjoy kayaking. We enjoy traveling. We speak Spanish. We’ve traveled internationally a number of times. So for my husband’s birthday I said, ‘OK this is the year we are going to do it.’ So we went to Chili for a vacation to kayak.”

After a week of kayaking, Bill sat out the final day with a sore back. Mary and the rest of their group kayaked through a treacherous stretch of the river.

“This is a section of river that is very well known for its waterfalls. These are drops of 10 to 15 feet, 20 feet maybe, which for an experienced kayaker is not a crazy thing. I went over the main drop and as I crested over the drop I could see the tremendous turbulence and tremendous volume.”

“As I hit the bottom of the drop, the front end of my boat became pinned. I and my boat were immediately and completely submerged. The volume and the force of the water was such that I was absolutely pressed to the front deck of the boat and I couldn’t move my arms far enough back to reach my spray skirt let alone push myself out.”

Mary was stuck. The only thing she could do was pray.

“I very sincerely asked that God’s will be done, and I meant it. I didn’t say ‘Oh please come and save me.’ I really meant it. I asked for God’s will to be done and at the moment I asked that, I was overcome by a very physical sensation of being held and comforted and reassured that everything was fine; that my husband would be fine, my four young children would be fine regardless of whether I lived or died. And I believe that Christ was holding me while I was still on the boat and was the One reassuring me.”

After several minutes of searching, the group leaders realized Mary was trapped under the falls. They came out on the rocks and they kept trying to get to the boat but the force and the volume of the water was such that they kept being flushed through.

“They just couldn’t get to me. At one point they sort of recognized that it was really turning into body recovery, not so much of a rescue.”

“My body was being slowly sucked over the front deck. So what that meant was when it got to my knees, my knees bent back on themselves and I could feel that. I’m an orthopedic surgeon. I analytically was thinking, ‘Well, feels like my tibia probably broke.'”

“But I wasn’t screaming. I didn’t have pain. I didn’t have fear. I didn’t have that sense of air hunger. I know that I’ve been under water too long to be alive, yet I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. This is more real than anything I’ve ever experienced. As my body broke free from my boat, I felt my spirit break free from my body and I rose up and out of the river.”

Mary looked down on the river as she left her body. Then, she was met by a group of heavenly beings.

“They were absolutely overjoyed to see me and greet me, and I them. I knew that they had known me and loved me as long as I existed and I knew that I had known them and loved them. I knew that they had been sent by God.”

“They began taking me down this exceptionally beautiful path that was brilliant and they were taking me toward this great domed structure of sorts that was not only was exploding with beauty and color, but it was exploding with this absolute love of God.”

“(It) was beyond anything that I could ever describe or ever truly explain and I could hardly wait. I was absolutely overwhelmed with this sensation of being home, of being where I belonged. But just as quickly, there was this sense of disappointment that descended on everyone. The spirits who had taken me there told me that it wasn’t my time and I had more work to do on earth and I had to go back to my body.”

After what seemed like hours with her heavenly hosts, Neal returned to the river and watched as her friends recovered her body.

“I could see my body being pulled to the shore and I could see the guys start CPR. I felt like he was looking right at me and begging me to come back and take a breath. I lay down and I was reunited, in the middle of a very remote part of South America.”

Neal had been gone for over 15 minutes, perhaps as long as 25 minutes – certainly longer than medical science can explain her survival.

She was flown back to the United States where she slowly recovered from her injuries. In her book, To Heaven and Back, she talks about how the reality of God’s love has changed her for eternity.

“All of the promises of God are true. God loves each and every one of us and really is there and is working in each and every one of our lives. That love is everything. If we truly could accept that, it changes everything. It changes the way you view every moment of every day. The fact that there really is life after death profoundly changes the way you approach every moment.”




Woman gave birth in coma, woke up months later to meet baby

Coma

Amelia Bannan with her son Santino. (PHOTO: Caesar Bannan)

Originally published in God Reports

A female police officer in Argentina delivered a baby while she was in a coma, then woke up and held her three-month-old for the first time.

Many are calling it a miracle of God.

Amelia Bannan was nearly six months pregnant when she suffered a serious brain injury in a car accident November 1 2016.

Premonition of accident
She had a premonition about traveling that day. “Let’s not travel, if we get into that car it will just roll over,” she told a friend, according to El Pais.

When the car was hit from behind, Bannan suffered a skull fracture, but the baby survived. The other occupants of the vehicle were unharmed, according to El Pais.

Since the accident, the baby developed normally in the womb while Amelia lapsed into a coma caused by a blood clot in her brain.

In late December 2016, Amelia opened her eyes, moved her hands and although she was not able to speak, began contractions.

Since she did not dilate, she underwent an emergency C-section on Christmas Eve. “He was born on Christmas Eve, it was a miracle,” her brother, Caesar, told El Pais.

Little Santino weighed 4.16 pounds and stayed a month in a neonatal care unit. “He was born and grows well, he does not have a complication of anything. He is a total warrior,” Caesar said.

God answered their prayers
Every day the family brought the baby close to Amanda, but there was no response. Then a week before Easter, God answered their prayers in an amazing way.

“We were in the clinic with Norma, my other sister,” Caesar told El Pais. They were speaking to Amelia without any response, but suddenly they heard a very faint ‘yes.’

“Amelia are you listening?” Caesar asked, incredulously.

“Yes,” she said weakly.

“Amelia, if you understand me, stick out your tongue,” Caesar instructed.

Amelia stuck out her tongue!

Their prayers were answered! “It was a total transformation. Norma lay on Amelia’s body, embraced her, and wept tears of joy,” Caesar told El Pais. “It transformed our hearts.”

Amelia is improving quickly, according to the physiotherapist who supervises her rehabilitation, Roberto Gisin.

“At first she only said ‘yes’ and ‘no’, now she is managing to answer questions and understand commands,” he told El Pais.

Surprising improvements
Dr Gisin said Amelia can already turn around by herself, move all four limbs and he believes that if there are no setbacks she’ll be walking in a few months.

“She keeps surprising us,” neurosurgeon Marcelo Ferreira says. “We hope that at some point, we will be able to see her walking holding her son’s hand.”

Her family knows her full recovery will take time, but they celebrate every little improvement.

Amelia’s greatest joy is the baby, who she kisses and caresses when she can have him on her chest, twice a day. At first she did not recognise him and thought he was her nephew. “She remembers more and more things from her childhood, but not pregnancy,” her brother told El Pais.

It is still too early to know if Amelia’s accident will leave lasting impairment, but the family prays it will not.

Caesar believes his sister’s story will inspire others: “We have hope and we want to spread it to those who are in a similar situation.”

Just as Moses’ upraised arms signalled victory in battle, Caesar gives credit where credit is due. “We have already seen that miracles are possible, we should never lower our arms.”




Missionary honoured for bringing armed rebels to Christ

missionary honoured

A Colombian Guambiano indigenous woman votes in the referendum on a peace deal between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. (PHOTO: Reuters).

Originally published in Christian Today

A Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to attempting to convert Colombian rebels to Christ has been honoured with an award.

Russell Stendal, from the United States, has spent decades witnessing to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after arriving in the country with his missionary parents more than 50 years ago, the persecution charity World Watch Monitor reports.

His work was a significant part of the influential Christian evangelism that took place throughout the 50-year war between the FARC rebels and the government. Church leaders and Christians were crucial to the talks that led to last August’s peace agreement, finally ending the world’s longest-running civil war.

During his work, Stendal was even at one point kidnapped by FARC.

He set up Colombia for Christ, based in Bogota, believing if that the rebels could only learn about Jesus, their hearts and minds would be changed for good.

The organisation First Step Forum, which builds bridges between faiths, governments and other agencies in countries where it is invited to do so, decided to honour Stendal for his work with the Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award.

The award is named after Pakistan’s first Christian cabinet minister, who was murdered five years ago for criticising the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and for trying to defend the Christian woman Asia Bibi, currently in prison and facing the death penalty for blasphemy.

First Step Forum founder Johan Candelin, from Finland, said in his speech Stendal deserved the award for his “extraordinary peace work for 32 years”, according to World Watch Monitor. Candelin said Stendal’s work had led to a change of heart in many FARC leaders, and also in Colombian Army leaders:

He said: “Many have been healed as a result of prayer. I have never seen anything like this. God’s hand has been on Russ Stendal’s work in a unique way.”

Previous recipients of the award include Pope Francis, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Dr Hany Hanna in Egypt and Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili in Georgia.




Colombian soccer player survives plane crash with bible in hand

plane-crash-neto-bible

Journalist Roberto Cabrini found Helio Neto’s (top left insert) bible (bottom right insert) amidst the plane crash. (PHOTO: Daily Post)

Originally published in CBN News

Helio Neto was traveling with the Colombian soccer team and other passengers when the plane crashed, killing 71 people. Although Neto is still in the hospital recovering from serious injuries, he thanks God for keeping him safe.

What happened minutes before the crash has shocked everyone.

Neto was reading Psalm 63, which says: On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night; Because you have been my help; Then I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.

Neto is known as being a man of faith who constantly carries his Bible.

plane-crash

The LaMia airlines charter plane carrying members of the Chapecoense Real football team crashed in the mountains, November 28 2016(PHOTO: Raul Arboleda)

“It’s the first thing he takes when he travels,” Neto’s wife Simone told the Daily Mail after she retrieved the Bible from the crash site.

The tattered Bible was sprawled open in the middle of the mangled remains of the plane. Neto’s bookmark was still at Psalm 63 — the last words he read before impact.

Doctors still describe Neto’s condition as ‘delicate’ and he must undergo surgery on his lungs, knees, skull, and wrists.

His family is praying for a full recovery.




100 000 Chileans protest pending abortion law

marchphoto_810_500_s_c1

Pro-life protests took place last Saturday in downtown Santiago

Originally published in Life site news.

In a massive rejection of the government’s insistence on pushing through legislation to open the country to “legal abortion,” Chileans from all walks of life, social status and religions amassed this past Saturday in downtown Santiago for a “Celebrate Life” rally.

Evangelical Christians along with Catholics and others, denounced the legislative push by President Michele Bachelet and other elected officials which calls for legalizing abortion of unborn children conceived in rape, or who are determined to have a medical condition incompatible with life, or where there is danger to the mother’s life.

Many of those present at the rally are particularly concerned with members of the Christian Democratic Party who are supporting the pro-abortion legislation.

“It is a mockery that members of a party that calls itself ‘Christian’ dare to legalize the killing of the innocent,” lamented Carmen Croxatto of Chile’s Pro-Life Pro-Family Network.

Senator Carolina Goic, the president of the Christian Democratic Party and chair of the Senate Heath Committee, is reportedly ready to push the legislation to the next step.

“She needs to work to defeat this legislation now, and not approve it moving forward to the full Senate,” said Croxatto.

Pro-life leaders promise to make this the key determinant in the upcoming elections, declaring that any candidate or party who supports this legislation will not get their vote.

“We do not want to follow the other countries of the world which have abandoned the protection of the weakest members of the human family, starting first with so-called “only limited abortion” and ending up with even more horrific consequences and all the damage that comes in the wake of abortion to society in general,” according to Elizabeth Bunster of Chile es Vida.”

Chile has had no legal abortion for decades and is an example for the world, not only for its exemplary legal protection of mother and child, but also for its very low maternal mortality rates.

Members of the UDI and RN parties are generally very supportive of the right to life, while the Socialists and Communists support abortion. The Christian Democrat Party, a part of the current government coalition with the Socialists and Communists, holds the key to stopping this legislation, or facilitating its passage.

“The Christian Democrats need to understand that if they don’t stop this legislation, they will be responsible for the resulting deaths of the innocent, the suffering for women and the destruction which follows in abortion’s path” said Bunster.




Thiago Silava, the Brazilian soccer superstar who was nearly aborted, but lived

thiago

Originally published in Life Site News

Thiago Silva is one of the top stars in Brazil’s national soccer team.  So important was he to this year’s team that many sports commentators blamed the country’s first and only loss in the semifinals of this year’s world cup to the fact that Thiago was prevented from playing that game.  But what people just recently learned in this mini-documentary about Thiago’s life, is that abortion nearly took Thiago’s life before he ever had a chance to take a breath, much less kick a soccer ball.

Thiago Silva now lives the gilded life a soccer star playing in the big leagues in Europe.  He lives in Paris and plays for the French champions, Paris Saint Germaine.  In addition to his great skill as a defensive back, Thiago Silva’s deep Christian faith before and after the matches, when he is often seen praying, is evident. 

As CS Lewis wrote “there are no ordinary people” and Thiago Silva is a great example.

Although Thiago Silva was born to a desperately poor family that lived near a dangerous shantytown in the city of Rio de Janeiro, he was able to overcome these hardships and achieve great success in the eyes of the world.

As a professional soccer player, Thiago Silva has won many prizes, including being named as one of the top 11 players in Europe for three consecutive years.  But surely none of his professional achievements would have meant anything without the most amazing gift of all, the respect that his mother and grandfather had for Thiago’s God given right to life.

A report made by Globo TV Channel, the largest TV station in Brazil, revealed that Thiego’s mother, Angela, already had two children – a boy and a girl – when she became pregnant with Thiago.  She was convinced she couldn’t afford to raise another child, and despite feeling terrible pain at the thought of aborting her baby, she was convinced she had no other option.

I was sitting on my father’s lap and I cried a lot. I didn’t want to have an abortion but I couldn’t bear another child,” she said. Angela’s father, however, convinced her not to abort the baby. “My father did not allow me to commit this sin,” recalled Angela.

Poverty and illness loomed large in Thiago’s childhood.  When he was 14, he suffered from tuberculosis. “It was the greatest battle of my life. I had to stay in the hospital for 6 months until I recovered.”

Living a mere 50 meters away from one of Rio’s infamous shantytowns, the famous soccer center back could have easily turned to a life of crime. “We would always hear shootings. The cops would come to the borough where I lived often. When I got home I would thank God for getting home safe.” But instead, Thiago chose to follow God and pursue his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

Life had never been easy for Thiago and his professional life was no different.  Thiago failed to get onto local Brazilian teams at first and ended up in a second rate local team from a poor area of Rio de Janeiro.  But with hard work and discipline his initial failures soon turned to success.  He finally got his chance to be seen in Europe when he was signed by a Russian team. He was eventually signed to play for the French powerhouse Paris Saint German. He now earns annual salary of $16 million/year.

Thiago’s story of courage and determination is an example of why we should never give in to the temptation of determining another human being’s potential in life, especially that of an unborn child. Thiago could have been aborted, but he wasn’t. He could have chosen a life of crime, but he didn’t. He could have given up his dream, but he persevered.  Now, he is one of the best center backs in the world and an inspiring reminder that every life is worth living. 

A person’s worth should never be measured by what they achieve, and therein lies the greatness of Thiago’s mother’s decision.  She knew the chances that the world would give a child from a poor family growing up in the Brazilian slums surrounded by disease and crime.  The fact that Thiago didn’t succumb to his environment is as much a credit to God as it is to Thiago and his family.  This is the miracle of a Christian life which allows God the opportunity to transform every single person from the lowest depths to the greatest heights.