Candle Lighters and abortion


If you live in Fremont and bother to read this blog you probably know all about the Candle Lighters. They’re the most prolific volunteer group in the Tri-Cities, having raised more than $2 million for local nonprofits through operating the Ghost House every Halloween since 1969.

So it was a little uncomfortable for me to write a story that would be critical of them the one one time they gave money to a group that could stir up a little controversy. You can read the story here.

I was surprised to see Pregnancy Choices Clinic of Union City on the list of nine organizations funded by the Candle Lighters this year. I had spent a morning at the clinic in 2007 in preparation for a feature story that never ran, so I knew that it was a part of the anti-abortion movement. Afterward I called several people around town and returned to the clinic, where the folks again were very nice in showing me around.

A couple of items that got cut from the story. The clinic, and others like it, offer free ultra sounds in part because they say studies show that women are less likely to have an abortion when they see images of the fetus. Anti-abortion groups donate the machines to clinics, and the Union City clinic’s ultrasound came from the group, Focus on the Family.
Also, the clinic continues to provide supplies and support to women for two years after there child is born. And it offers counseling to women who become despondent after having an abortion.

Matt Artz


  1. I’ve been in a Planned Parenthood using some of their less controversial services and I can say from the feeling I got from my visits is that Planned Parenthood really, really likes giving abortions.

    I support Planned Parenthood’s existence, but they are far more controversial than a group who among other things, encourages despondent women to bond with their unborn child, gives supplies to new mothers and councils women after having an abortion.

  2. I will no longer be supporting the Candle Lighters and I and my family, plan on boycotting the Ghost House. I do not want my contribution going to Anti Abortion Clinics.
    Candle Lighters you have really blown it!

  3. Has Candle Lighters ever made a similar type donation to Planned Parenthood?

    My problem with this donation is the connection to the Heritage House.

    From your article:
    The Union City clinic’s educational materials, which are rooted in scripture, were produced by the anti-abortion organization, Heritage House. Lesson Three, titled “What does God Say,” advises troubled students to “consider having a relationship that lasts with Jesus.”

  4. This shows how careful organizations have to be about who they support. Whoever at the Candle Lighters was responsible for this decision has really stepped in it this time. They had a long run, but this will, in all probability, hamper their ability to raise cash in the future, which will also negatively impact the less controversial organizations that they have supported.

  5. Can I ask those who take issue with the Pregnancy Choices Clinic – is there any acceptable organization who advocated for carrying a fetus to term?

    I’m trying to understand the complaint (which seems universal) that this clinic is in the wrong. Because from my vantage this group is merely a proponent of one of the many choices, which is what the Pro-Choice movement is about …isn’t it?

  6. If you have a problem with a group that Candle Lighters chooses to support, why didn’t you speak with Candle Lighters about it? Keep in mind that Pregnancy Choices applied for a community grant that is available to ALL community agencies. They just happened to be selected out of the current applicants. I think the question one must ask is, Has Planned Parenthood applied for a grant from Candle Lighters in the past? If they have, was it granted or denied?

    So, for all open-minded American citizens, are we suggesting that only those organizations which support liberal causes deserve community support? What has our country come to when we must all agree on any one issue?

  7. Apparently, the words pro-choice do not mean “you choose” after being informed of “all” the alternatives.

  8. This article did not make a lot of sense. Anti-abortion was mentioned throughout the article, but Candlelighters supported a parenting curriculum. Once a couple has decided to parent their child abortion is a moot point isn’t it? Is the Argus suggesting that we don’t need parenting education?
    I feel that this was an article to promote the pro-choice agenda, but it isn’t fair to those who are truly free to make their choice.

  9. Someone did not stop to take notice that Candlelighters does not give money directly to organizations, but pays the vendors directly. That way no money is given to an organization to do what they want with it. Candlelighters give dollars for very specific things that will benefit the community. Matthew Artz did not mention that Candlelighters did not want to give money to this curriculum unless persons could choose for themselves whether they wanted faith-based information or not. He also failed to mention that much of the curriculum deals with life skills that young parents need, such as how to feed a baby, how to change a diaper, how to take its temperature, how to shop, how to budget, etc., etc.
    This is information is what parents need, and whether the curriculum comes from Heritage House or some other, it does not pertain to abortion, or pro-choice political issues. I wonder why Mr. Artz, though, interviewed the President of Candlelighters, but did not choose to quote her? Not good journalism, my friend.

  10. The issue at hand with Pregnancy Choices is that they lure people into thinking the information they are giving is correct.

    The information on the website misrepresents the risks abortion, without comparing the risks of carrying a baby to term (MUCH riskier). There is no evidence that breast cancer is more common in women who’ve had abortions. There is nothing on their website that says that it’s religiously based. It’s out and out LYING.

    I think that it’s great if people who don’t want abortions don’t have them. But people who want balanced and correct information are getting lured into these types of “clinics” and pressured into continuing their pregnancies.

    I will NEVER donate to Candle Lighters after this.

  11. Grumygirl, there is a slough of misinformation given to expecting parents. I was told that if my children weren’t breastfed they’d have immunoresponsive problems. I was told that skin-to-skin was essential to bonding, and to ignore modern diagnostics immediately after birth, etc, etc…

    I think it’s fine that you have issues with the underworkings of this group. But, unless someone else is willing to step up and fulfill the role of anti-abortion advocate, we will have to take what we can get.

    From my perspective, this group is as passionate about preventing abortions as Planned Parenthood is about giving them.

  12. You’re so right, Grumpy, and thanks for pointing that out. Isn’t it easy for men to make decisions for women when they don’t have to carry and deliver? Aren’t there a lot of people, women included, who want to remove choice and force everyone to believe the “right” way?

    Prediction – a tough year money-wise for the Candle Lighters. Also, a tough year for the responsible organizations that they have previously supported or that they might have supported in the future. No money, no donations. Can they be trusted not to continue to make choices based on their support of one side of a controversial issue?

    Prediction – this will still be enough of an issue to have both pro and con protests at the Halloween events. That’s not what I want, just what will probably happen now that it’s made the papers. Not great for the kids or for attendance. Would you want to walk your kids through a crowd of people yelling at eachother? Police to keep order? This is an issue that doesn’t always bring out the best behavior, sad to say.

    If their donations fall off, what will happen to the carriage house? Do the Candle Lighters own it or does it belong to Fremont?

  13. So what we are saying, then, is that we shouldn’t really give people a choice. The only option that should be made available is pro-abortion, not pro-choice. Anyone who really wants an option must find it on their own. Any group or organization that sponsors alternative choices is wrong and should not be supported.

    I’m not sure what specifically what the reference was to “their website”. Whose website? Also, it is easy to comment on someone else’s opinion regarding breast cancer statistics, but are you basing that comment on information that you have researched or are you basing it on the opinion of the journalist who wrote the article. Keep in mind, we can all find research to support our opinion. That doesn’t make it accurate.

    There are religious organizations that support lots of things. Pregnancy Choices Clinic is not sponsored by any one church or organization. It is independent. So as a community, we now cannot support any organization that is supported by any (several many) religious group?

    Folks, let’s be honest. What is at issue here are our freedoms. Choice, speech, journalism and religion.

  14. Misrepresentation of information…that is a heavy charge…the Union City pregnancy center is a primary health care facility in the State of California and is licensed by the California Department of Health. It is run by licensed medical professionals who are credible people working in our community. It is sad when those who have opposing views have to stoop to defamation, and slanderous talk. It reminds me of our political system today…The pregnancy center is about helping ALL women who are in crisis with unplanned pregnancies and providing ALL of the information that will help them make informed decisions. They are met with compassion and care, and left to make their own decisions. The Center is pro-woman and truly pro-choice, as these women can make their own decisions without persuasion to terminate their pregnancy, even when they are not sure that is what they want to do.

  15. to me it’s taxes that I fork out on a regularly bases that is at issue WIK think about it……no ajenda just education and being informed. …..give the money our schools! Think pink!
    who’s your baby daddy?

  16. #13, Lou, the carriage house is part of the Burdette Williams Historical Park and is owned by the City of Fremont. I think part of the cost of restoration was a donation from the Candlelighters. They have done so much good over the many years that they ought to be given a pass on this one.

  17. Thanks for the info, Gus. I know that the Candle Lighters have done good work, but one fly can ruin the whole bowl of potato salad. If there is one issue that gets people fired up, it’s abortion, and the Lighters would have been well advised to steer way clear of it if they wanted to be able to continue doing that good work.

    Unless, of course, the Lighters feel that they have a good reason for their decision. I’m sure we’d all like to hear it.

  18. former fremont resident-
    really quite shameful that some of you want to boycott candlelighters and the ghost house over this. That organization is one of the best things fremont has to offer to itself.

    I will make a special trip back to fremont in october and show candlelighters my support.

  19. Ultrasound is one word, not two…..

    And will someone please tell me why it is a bad thing that women don’t abort their babies (or fetuses, depending upon your political leaning) when they have seen their ‘being’ on an ultrasound screen?

    How can children being allowed to be born be a bad thing?

  20. Kathleen,
    we just want to know where our money is going to especially when we donate our money. . It’s a waste of money to me. Bottom line for me is it could be better spent!

  21. This is such a ridiculous conversation. As a former Candlelighter(who only wishes they had the time to devote to this wonderful organization) Candlelighters members vote on what to sponsor – and they are not blanket $ requests for specific groups – they sponsor specific ITEM requests. If you are offended by this, then review Candlelighters history and you should find something to counter-balance this. These requests are brought in by members, who often only get together to put the Ghost House together. They are NOT an PAC. One year they bought an item for SAVE – they were not “weighing in” on whether wife-beating was politically correct or not.The group of women in this group are not united behind some political or social position – they just want to provide a FUN, FAMILY social event at Halloween and share their proceeds amongst many different organizations that support our diverse community.
    deni caster

  22. As someone strongly pro-choice, I can cut the CL’s some slack. They do a ton of good. Since they vote on who to give money to, anyone with a problem can join and volunteer then vote for what they think is right. I would have a problem if this became an annual donation. Somehow I doubt it will be.

  23. As a former Candlelighter, and as someone pretty hardcore pro-choice, I’d want to see the line item before I get my panties in a twist over this. As has been mentioned upthread, CL donations are *very* specific; it’s not just a blanket donation to an organization to do with it what they will.

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