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Counterculture clash

"Counterculture clash" Continued...

Issue: "What women want," Jan. 21, 2006

In 1971, his military service complete, he moved to Chicago, where he worked at the inception of the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly that is today among the nation's top 10. In 1972, he moved to San Diego to study philosophy at the University of California. That year, he and a friend, Alex Farnsley, founded San Diego's Reader, working out of Mr. Holman's Mission Beach apartment.

In 1981, Mr. Holman married his wife Claudia, who stayed home to raise a family that grew to include seven kids. Through working and studying abroad with his family, Mr. Holman learned four foreign languages (German, French, Spanish, and Italian), forgot two (Vietnamese and Japanese), and now homeschools his children in Greek and Latin.

It was seeing his unborn children on sonograms in combination with a visit from a local pro-life organization that first opened Mr. Holman's eyes to the abortion holocaust unfolding around him. In 1989, a group of pro-life women asked to buy a full-page ad in the Reader publicizing "the Weisberg incident," after a storage box containing the bodies of 17,000 aborted babies was found in Woodland Hills, Calif. The grisly photos from the incident-many of late-term babies, mutilated but largely intact-are infamous.

"The photos awoke me to the horror," Mr. Holman said. He published them for four straight weeks, sparking an open staff rebellion that surprised him: "One writer said he didn't want his stories on any pages facing the ad. I found it strange, this disconnect. 'Why aren't they outraged?' I wondered. It's not as though we were a prissy paper."

The incident galvanized Mr. Holman to action. That same year, he participated in a clinic "rescue," a peaceful sit-in. In 1990, he went to jail for two weeks after trespassing on the property of California abortion kingpin Edward Allred.

"It wasn't an unpleasant experience," he says now, clearly enjoying the memory. When black gang members who ran the 51-bed cell learned that Mr. Holman was fighting abortion, which kills more blacks than whites, they protected him, even brought him extra blankets. Since he spoke fluent Spanish, he also got on well with the Latino inmates, who by and large despised abortion.

In the 1990s, Mr. Holman launched four lay Catholic weeklies, in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tijuana, Mexico, where he had long worked and supported faith-based programs for the poor. The papers highlight the positive in the Catholic Church but criticize what Mr. Holman sees as its weak opposition to abortion and "any moral issue that requires backbone."

Mr. Holman and fellow pro-life activists are hoping to better organize Catholics and Protestants in their next run at parental notification in California. In November, Parents' Right to Know submitted to the Secretary of State the paperwork for the new proposition. Signature gathering should begin later this month and include a four-Sunday February signature drive in churches up and down the state.

"Our gerrymandered legislature in California gags discussion of social conservative issues, so initiatives are the proper, and only realistic, political answer in California," Mr. Holman said. This time, when it comes to changing abortion law in the state, "we hope to do everything better."

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