Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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Opinion: What’s the difference? Media, The Koran Burning, and the Pope’s U.K. Visit

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

Commentary by Matthew Anderson

September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One can’t help but notice that religion is all the rage in the news these days. First there was the planned burning of the Koran on September 11 by a Florida pastor, and second, the visceral reactions by some British against the Pope’s visit.

Interestingly (but perhaps unsurprisingly) the reaction from the mainstream media has been rather different regarding these two stories: One is decried as an outrage, while the other is protected under freedom of speech.

This gives rise to an important question: What is the difference between Islam and Christianity? Why are journalists, and the majority of people for that matter, ready to rush to the aid of Islam, but they allow Christianity to be openly attacked?

It goes without saying that burning the Koran was a terrible idea, and there should have been an outcry against it. I may not believe the Koran is inspired, but many people do; and destroying something that many people love (though that love may be misguided) for no constructive purpose, is against charity. For the same reason, non-Catholics should be disturbed by the treatment the pope has received at the hands of certain members of British society. It is extremely offensive to Catholics when the Holy Father is abused so viciously by such as British scholar Claire Rayner, who recently referred to the pope as “this creature,” and said that she has “never felt such animus against any individual” (See previous LSN Coverage here)

Yet, despite the similarities between the two situations, they haven’t been treated alike at all.

For instance, after the burning of the Koran didn’t happen, CNN posted a story on its blog called, “Lessons from the Whole Quran Episode.” For the large part, the comments from the CNN writers who contributed to the post were dead-on.

Akbar Ahmed, a contributing writer and professor at the American University in Washington said, “We … learned how Jews, Christians and people of other or no faiths all categorically rejected the idea of burning the Quran as disrespectful and even harmful. In that sense, Jones' story had a happy ending, showing that there is such a thing as reason and compassion in the hearts of the high and mighty and the ordinary folk, which trumped hatred and bigotry.”

But last week CNN posted a story under a picture of the pope entitled, “Opinion: Why I Oppose the Pope’s Visit,” that does anything but advocate for “reason and compassion in the hearts of the high and mighty.”

The author, Peter Tatchell, the UK’s most prominent gay activist, says, “As a democrat, I defend the right of Pope Benedict XVI to visit Britain and to express his opinions. But people who disagree with him also have a right to protest against his often harsh, intolerant views.” But Tatchell’s defense of the remarks of Rayner, or Richard Dawkins (who has been hurling an endless stream of abusive epithets at the pope for months now) is a far cry from the media’s reaction to the burning of the Koran. When the abuse is aimed at a Christian figure, the media is happy to allow it in the name of free speech.

So again I ask, what’s the difference between Islam and Christianity that leads to this disparate treatment? The primary difference may be found at the very root of each religion: man’s relationship with God. One believes God can never be subject to anything outside himself, the other believes God’s willingness to be a servant to man and humiliated by him is what defines His identity as Love itself.

In Islam, God is all powerful. He is far beyond man’s grasp, and thus to attack him strikes against his nature. He is incapable of being subject to anything. Even depicting God is forbidden. This “untouchable” aspect of God is transmitted to Islam as a whole, making any offense against Islam, such as drawing the prophet or burning the Koran, incompatible with God’s nature.

The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, expressed the Islamic view of God recently when he said, in reference to the planned Koran burning, “Humiliation of the holy book represents the humiliation of our people.” It is humiliation that cannot be tolerated. An all-powerful God cannot be humiliated; any attempt at humiliating him must be rejected.

Christianity, however, is built upon the greatest humiliation God could ever endure. No one sums this up better than St. Paul who describes Christ as he “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2: 6-11)

In Christianity, unlike Islam, God allows himself to be attacked. It is a religion where God allows all to touch him, in love or in hate.  Those who approach Him out of love are invited deeper; those who approach Him out of hate only advance His will and face judgment in the end. But all are allowed to approach Him.

The media takes advantage of God’s humility and allows any and all to attack Christianity. Because he won’t come down from the Cross, the media is not afraid of the Christian God, not realizing they will one day face judgment for their silence in the face of such attacks, or, indeed, their complicity in them.

More importantly, they do not realize the attacks they are allowing only further the mission of the Church they often criticize. They forget that the Crucifixion comes before the Resurrection. The Pharisees wanted to get rid of Christ so they had him murdered, but this only advanced his mission. By aiding those who attack Christianity, the media does not realize it has taken the place of the Pharisees in furthering Christ’s mission in our day. It still has not learned the lesson of the Cross: that God brings redemption out of suffering, and victory out of defeat.

The view of God as one who “humbles himself and becomes obedient unto death” and the view of God as “unapproachable” are polar opposites.  Surely, the religions that espouse each view will be treated differently by outsiders. One will be accepted as the target of criticism while the other will remain untouchable. However, as Christians we must have faith. Good Friday always comes before Easter Sunday.

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No-Fault Divorce a Greater threat to Marriage than Gay ‘Marriage’: Expert

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By James Tillman

September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - According to Dr. Stephen Baskerville, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College and author of “Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family,” the government "is engaged in a direct assault on the family" that is causing family breakdown - which in turn allows government to reach into yet more areas of civil society under the pretext of solving the problems that the breakdown of the family creates.

"I would go so far as to say that family breakdown is the major engine driving domestic government expansion and spending: crime, substance abuse, educational failure, law enforcement," Dr. Baskerville told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). "All these costs are attributable to single-parent homes more than any other single factor."

(To read the complete interview, including many things not contained in this summary, click here.)

Dr. Baskerville claimed that the government promotes family breakdown through “a panoply of destructive laws” linked to divorce.

"Unlike cultural threats to the family, divorce is a government regime," he stated. "It is not eroding the family; it is quite deliberately dismantling it."

For instance, he said that no-fault divorce laws are a more serious threat to the family than same-sex “marriage,” which he called “a symptom of how debased marriage has already become, not a cause of it."

No-fault divorce was signed into law in New York State by Governor David Paterson last month; New York was the last U.S. state to pass such a law. 

No-fault divorce, explained Dr. Baskerville, codifies "unilateral and involuntary divorce" and thereby permits the spouse breaking up the marriage and the divorce court to "force the innocent spouse to shoulder the burden of the consequences."

"The innocent spouse generally loses his children, his home and property, and his freedom for literally 'no fault' of his own and for any failure to cooperate with the divorce."

Other laws are also connected with the “divorce-regime,” he continued.  False accusations of domestic violence are now common, he said, nearly all of which are “generated to secure custody of children in divorce cases."

"The same is largely true of the hysteria over 'child abuse,'" he continued. "Child abuse is certainly real, but almost all of it takes place in single-parent homes, not intact families."

Thus, he continued, "by encouraging false accusations of child abuse to facilitate divorce and single-parent homes, the child abuse industry actually creates more child abuse.”

Finally, he said that although feminist and government propaganda promotes the idea that “child support is to provide for children who have been abandoned” by their fathers, it is instead “mostly extorted from fathers that have been evicted, again through ‘no fault’ of their own.”

“It is a subsidy on divorce and single-parent homes,” he explained. “If you pay people to divorce, they will do it more.  That is precisely what child support does.”

For all these reasons, he continued, conservatives who wish to ignore social issues and instead focus on fiscal issues are at best misguided.

"What even most conservatives do not realize," he said, "is how [crime, substance abuse, and educational failure] themselves are created not by impersonal social forces or cultural decay alone but by government itself."

"In other words, government is not simply responding to problems created by the culture.  By attacking the family, government is creating the very problems it claims to be solving.”

He recommended that conservatives widen "their focus from just same-sex marriage to the larger threats to marriage and the family."

"Divorce laws and practices are by far the greatest neglect.  Unless this machinery is brought under control it will continue spreading abuses elsewhere to threaten the rights of intact parents such as homeschoolers and others accused of 'abuse' and 'neglect.'"

(To read the complete interview, containing many things not found in this summary, click here.)

Stephen Baskerville, an assistant professor of political science at Patrick Henry College, is the author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family, a book that Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, called a "tremenous and much-needed report on how family courts and government policies are harming children." He served as the president of the American Coalitions for Fathers and Children from 2004 to 2007, and has written articles for a wide variety of publications, both scholarly and popular, including the Washington Times, the Washington Post, Chronicles, The American Conservative, and National Review.

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Negative Psychological Impact of Abortion Results from ‘Hard-Wiring’ in Women’s Brains: Scholars

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

NEW YORK, September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - "Women are hard-wired for relationships—and a woman’s relationship to her baby is one of the most powerful of all, whether she realizes it or not. The hard-wiring of the brain may explain many women’s disturbing post-abortion feelings," write Evelyn Birge Vitz and Paul C. Vitz in an article published in the September 20 issue of Public Discourse.

Evelyn Vitz is Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. Paul C. Vitz is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University and Senior Scholar at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

In the article the authors relate spending a semester with students studying the stories of women who shared their experiences after an abortion.

The authors found that "many of these women are in acute pain; some are almost totally incapacitated" by their post-abortion feelings.

"What is particularly striking is that most of the women who have these powerful emotional reactions to their abortion are stunned by them. They were not opposed to abortion; many were actively pro-choice. They were blind-sided by their own reaction. One woman lamented—and thousands of others echo her mystified anguish—‘If this was the right decision, why do I feel so terrible?’”

Noting that "this disturbing phenomenon is so widespread, and found among women from varied backgrounds and different parts of the world," the authors postulate that "it seems likely that the brain itself—in particular, the nature of women’s brains—may shed some particularly useful light on this unexpected negative emotional reaction."

The authors cite research into the differences between women's and men's brains, especially as these differences relate to the realms of emotion, stress, and memory.

"A few of these differences can make a very large difference with regard to decision-making and its emotional consequences," the authors say, pointing out that "the part of the brain that processes emotion, generally called the limbic system, of women functions differently than that of men.

"Women experience emotions largely in relation to other people: what moves women most is relationships. Females are more personal and interpersonal than men."

On the handling of stress, the authors note that research has found that "men’s behavior under stress is generally characterized by what is called “fight or flight,” whereas women respond to stress by turning toward nurturing behavior, nicknamed “tend and befriend.”

In post-abortion stress disorder this "tend and befriend" response may manifest itself as depression and anxiety due to the lack of a focal point for the response.

"When responding to the stress of the abortion, she may well be drawn to nurturing, to ‘tending and befriending’ behavior: this is, we saw, characteristic of women. But one of the key persons she might have tended and befriended—her unborn child—she has just terminated. She therefore has no ready outlet to cope with this significant stress."

"Add to this already toxic mix the very power of the memories involved in most unwanted pregnancies and abortion experiences," the authors write, "such as the nausea or other physical symptoms, often exacerbated by hormonal instability and mood swings; the anxiety over the unwanted pregnancy; the drama of the pregnancy test; often, the difficulty of making the decision, then the waiting before the abortion can take place; perhaps protesters in front of the clinic; the abortion clinic waiting room, crowded perhaps with other emotional women and men; the abortion itself—the doctors and nurses, the stirrups, the vacuum or other machinery—then the recovery room; the pain and bleeding afterward.

"All these dramatic experiences are likely to provide her with indelible memories. A woman may return to them and relive them over and over."

The authors conclude that "though a woman can decide rationally to have an abortion ... a terrible and shocking reaction sets in after their abortion. Often what lasts is not the relief or the power of the logical arguments: these may prove very short-lived. It is, rather, the failed, betrayed relationship between the woman and her fetus—now, in her mind, her dead baby—that has staying power."

The authors call for a greater honesty from the medical profession toward women contemplating abortion "to prevent at least some women from having to experience this painful surprise."

"Women need to be told the truth. They need to be prepared for what may be the consequences of this major life decision. This is what informed choice means."

The full text of Vitz's article, titled, "Women, Abortion, and the Brain" is available here. (http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/09/1657)

See related LSN articles:

Study Finds Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Abortions

Study: Rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Increased 61% After Abortion

Talented British Artist Hangs Herself Due To Grief After Abortion

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U.K. Pro-Life Advocates Arrested over Graphic Abortion Photo

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Hilary White

September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two pro-life activists were arrested this month in Brighton for displaying an allegedly “distressing” graphic sign of abortion outside a publicly-funded abortion facility.

The two were held for 15 hours by police after staff in the British Pregnancy Advisory Service facility claimed patients were “traumatised and upset” by the pictures. The 7ft by 5ft banner showed an aborted eight-week-old embryo. The group has previously demonstrated without incident in Brixton, south London.

Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane are the leading members of Abort '67, an organisation, named after Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act, affiliated with the Center for Bioethical Reform in the U.S. and the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR), based in Calgary. These groups maintain that the use of graphic images of abortion, even if they are deemed offensive or frightening, are essential to bring the realities of abortion into the debate.

Stephenson told British media, “We went to the clinic because we know what women are going in there for and it seems the obvious place to hold a protest."

The two were arrested about noon and were taken to the local police station and held until being interviewed at midnight. “They took our fingerprints and put us in cells – they didn’t interview us until midnight and we weren’t let out until three in the morning,” Stephenson said.

“It seems very arbitrary what is allowed and what is not allowed,” he added. “All we are doing is campaigning to make abortion unthinkable. Most pro-life groups are working to change the abortion laws - we’re working to change public opinion.”

Stephenson also said that, "The women who go to these clinics are simply not told the full story as to what abortion involves and the damage that it causes women. We always stand in complete silence and let the pictures do the talking.”

Ann Furedi, the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which runs the Wistons facility, said she supports the right of pro-life activists to demonstrate against abortion facilities, up to a point. Furedi also told the Daily Telegraph, “There is a distinction between freedom of expression and actions that are designed to distress people who are accessing legal, medical services.”

But Stephanie Gray, the founder of CCBR told LifeSiteNews.com that although the arrests are upsetting, they may serve to bring the issue into the public debate in Britain, which has earned the nickname “abortion capital of Europe” after reporting upwards of 200,000 abortions last year.

“As disheartening as their arrest is, it is forcing the abortion debate – and the free-speech debate – into the public square,” she said.

Gray, who has had legal battles of her own at the University of British Columbia, continued, “Now, people are talking and thinking about what abortion looks like in a way they haven't before, thanks to the courage of Andy and Kathryn. And it's interesting that an abortion advocate responded to their protest by calling it distressing. If abortion is such a good idea, why would a picture of it be distressing?”

The Crown Prosecution Service has said it will decide next month whether to press charges under the Public Order Act. The photo of aborted children were alleged to have caused “harassment, alarm or distress,” according to complainants.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the case, said: "This is a test case for their democratic right to reveal what abortion really is like. This case raises important questions about whether our society will allow robust and rigorous debate about what remains a highly controversial issue.”

“Many people in the UK remain horrified at the nature and scale of abortion in this country,” she continued. “There have been 7 million abortions in England and Wales since abortion was legalised in 1967. Obviously there are a range of ways in which people will choose to engage in this important debate depending on what they judge to be the most effective in each situation. However, the freedom to engage and provoke public debate on this matter of life and death must be safeguarded."

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Moral Truth “Accessible by Reason,” Should Guide Political Process: Pope Benedict to British Civil L

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Hilary White

ROME, September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Basing political and civil life on moral relativism and the shifting sands of popular opinion will lead ultimately to totalitarian ideologies and anti-human practices, Pope Benedict told a gathering of politicians, intellectuals, businessmen and ex-Prime Ministers on Friday.

Standing on the spot in Westminster Hall where St. Thomas More was condemned to death by Henry VIII’s government, Pope Benedict took up his longstanding theme of warning against the “dictatorship of relativism.”

He again voiced his concern “at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.” This relativistic “tolerance,” the pope warned, has led paradoxically to the suppression of the rights of religious believers.

He pointed to the move to suppress “the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas…in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”

“And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience.”

As an alternative to subjectivist and relativistic approaches, Benedict offered the answer found in the tradition of Catholic social teaching that “maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason” and not only through biblical revelation. Religion in the political debate, he said, can help “purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.”

The pope took More, whom the Catholic Church holds up as a martyr and model for politicians, as his starting point in a call for objective morality in politics. Without the “corrective” role of religion in the public sphere, “reason too can fall prey to distortions,” that can lead to evil institutions like the 18th century slave trade.

It was the “misuse of reason,” he said, that “gave rise to the slave trade…and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century.” The pope held up the British political campaign to end the slave trade as an example of legislation “built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.”

“This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.”

“Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation,” the pope said.

Thomas More – the statesman and Chancellor of England who refused to capitulate to the king’s insistence that he, not the pope, was the head of the Church in England – is revered by believers and non-believers “for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign.”

More, he said, faced the “perennial question” faced by all modern secular governments: by what fundamental moral principles should society be organized and governed? “Each generation,” Benedict said, “as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend?”

In answer, the pontiff warned, “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.”

Many commentators have seen the Pope’s Westminster Hall speech as the keynote of his state visit to Britain and the summation of the core themes of his political doctrine. Speaking to LifeSiteNews.com before the visit, Fr. Timothy Finigan, the popular clerical blogger and pro-life activist predicted that the Westminster Hall speech would be the most important of the pope’s year, in which he would “address in a courteous and gentle way the West’s problems.”

The Vatican’s assessment of the British trip has been positive. On Sunday just before departing for Rome, papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi referred to the “spiritual success” of the pope’s visit. “We’re all convinced that this has been a huge success, not so much from the viewpoint of the numbers which there were, mind you, but from the very real and strong sense that people were listening and that the pope’s message had been received with joy and respect by the faithful.”

“This was a marvelous trip during which hundreds of thousands of people saw, heard and met the pope.”

In his parting message, standing next to Prime Minister David Cameron on the tarmac at Birmingham airport, the pope said that in his contacts with thousands of British people, he had sensed their “yearning” for Christianity and for objective truth, in a Britain that has become a “highly secularized environment.”

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School Trustees Slam “Homosexualized” Ontario “Equity Strategy”

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, September 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The McGuinty government’s equity and inclusive education strategy “represents a violation of parental rights and religious freedom,” according to a trustee candidate for the York Region District School Board who is demanding the strategy be repealed.  At the same time, a Catholic trustee in the Toronto Catholic District School Board says he believes the strategy is designed with the aim of “sweeping away our Christian and Catholic values of the family.”

Allan Tam, a public school board candidate from Markham running in the upcoming province-wide municipal elections on October 25th, came out swinging against the government’s “equity” agenda in a press release earlier this week.  He says the “over-reaching” Ministry of Education is “abusing its power by imposing a homosexualized curriculum in the name of equity and inclusivity.”

“It will lead to children being taught that homosexual unions are the moral equivalent of heterosexual marriage,” he warned, saying this “is something that the majority of parents do not want.”

The strategy, which was launched by McGuinty’s government in April 2009, requires every school board in the province to develop an equity policy by this month that outlines their commitment to inclusion based on the grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, including “sexual orientation.”  The boards are then expected to revise all policies and practices to align with this commitment to “equity.”

Critics point out that the Ministry’s documents recommend, for example, that schools celebrate the Gay Pride Parades, use texts by homosexual authors, and promote homosexual clubs such as gay-straight alliances.

Tam says that the controversial new sex-ed curriculum pulled by McGuinty’s government in April, which had eight-year-olds learning about “sexual orientation” and twelve-year-olds discussing oral and anal intercourse, was simply one component of the broader equity strategy.  This strategy, he says, is “aimed at promoting a new sexual revolution via the classroom.”

Tam believes that the government’s “unjust power grab” springs from a 1997 change to the school funding formula, known as Bill 160, that made it so that all school funds are now dispensed by the province.

“This method of funding allocation has had the unfortunate consequence of making it easy for the provincial government to take into their own hands, the authority to make educational policies,” he says.

John Del Grande, a trustee for the Toronto Catholic board running for election, says he believes the strategy seeks to “erode Catholic teaching” in the separate schools.

“I think we as Catholics and school trustees need to be more cautious with these documents because we got burned the last time,” he said, referring to the recently-pulled sex-ed curriculum.  “Although we got on board later, we should have been the ones raising the flags upfront.”

Del Grande said he is concerned that the Ministry is using the strategy to promote openness to homosexuality in the schools, noting that it began under former Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, an open lesbian.  “My understanding is that it is driving the homosexual agenda into our schools and through our children,” he said.

“This document is really about putting the government’s spin on [equity] and limiting us later,” he added.  “It’s almost anti-Christian and anti-Catholic.  I’m sure that’s where this came from.”

Many Catholics have rebuffed criticism against the strategy by emphasizing the fact that it includes lines indicating it should be implemented with respect to the denominational rights of the Catholic schools.

“I think we’ve been fooled by this before,” said Del Grande, however.  “If we’re not diligent, just because we say we reserve the right to keep consistent with our teaching and religion, it’s just not enough.  We have to be diligent to make sure that we totally ingrain [our faith] in everything we do, in all of our policies, not just a preamble statement.”

“You’re going to have a lot of parents objecting to some of the materials that could be brought in, because the Ministry drives all the curriculum and materials,” he warned.  “I think they’ll start to slowly insert [objectionable material] in there under the guise of this policy.  They’ll do it really subtly to start and it will get worse as time goes on.”

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Parents Must Unite to Scrap Ontario Equity Strategy, Says Pro-Family Group

Ontario Equity Strategy Threatens to Embed Religious Discrimination: CLC

Catholics’ Constitutional Rights No Safeguard Under Ontario Equity Strategy: CLC

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No Funding for IVF…Yet, Says Cash-Strapped Ontario Gvmt

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ontario government is not yet prepared to fund in vitro fertilization (IVF), as recommended in August 2009 by a government-appointed panel, because it would be too expensive, reports the Ottawa Citizen.

“There are some pretty compelling reasons why we should [do it],” Health Minister Deb Matthews told reporters.  “But at this time in our economy, we have to weigh all the pros and cons very carefully.”

Yet Premier Dalton McGuinty indicated that the proposal is still on the table.  “I know that, for young families in particular, this is a very important issue and it’s something we’ll continue to look at,” he said.  “We have 12 months between now and the election. We’ll see how things develop. There is time for us to carefully consider the requests that are before us.”

In a report last August, a panel on infertility and adoption appointed by the McGuinty government in June 2008 called on them to begin funding up to three rounds of in vitro fertilization for women up to 42 years old, estimated at $10,000 per cycle.

Currently, Ontario only covers IVF for women with both fallopian tubes either blocked or missing.

The panel, led by incoming Governor General of Canada David Johnston, also called on the government to fund the freezing of embryos created during the process of ‘assisted reproduction,’ on the basis that it would “reduce costs.”

The process of IVF has been heavily criticized by pro-life advocates in large part because in each round, while numerous children are conceived to improve the chances of implantation, those remaining are simply “discarded” or frozen.

Critics of assisted reproduction maintain that children are meant to be conceived through the mutual love of husband and wife in the conjugal act, saying that it violates the child’s dignity for him or her to be conceived in a laboratory.

Further, they warn that it reduces newly-formed human life to the status of a commodity.  Interestingly, the panel’s report criticized the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act because it restricts the commercialization of human sperm, eggs, and embryos.

Additionally, research has shown that babies born from IVF have a much higher chance of birth defects, including heart valve defects, cleft lip and palate, and digestive system abnormalities.  In 2009, the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority warned that IVF babies have a 30% higher risk of genetic abnormality. 

In the meantime, the Ontario government pays the full cost for many thousands of Ontario women to abort their unwanted babies each year. Consequently, the number of babies available for adoption is very low and it is very difficult, if not impossible, for childless Ontario couples to find a child to adopt.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Ontario Gov't Panel Urges Funding In Vitro Fertilization for all, Including Singles  

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Louisiana Abortion Clinic Cited for Danger to Health and Safety to Remain Open

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Peter J. Smith

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, September 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has been denied again the opportunity to keep closed an abortion facility cited for substandard medical protocols. A state judge has ruled that the abortion business, which performs between 200-300 abortions per month, can remain open while it appeals the DHH decision to shut it down.

Judge Mike Caldwell of the 19th Judicial District Court ruled that Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport could continue to remain open and operating while the DHH's case against the abortion facility made its way through the court system. Caldwell's decision reinforces the temporary restraining order he issued a week ago to re-open the Shreveport clinic after the DHH had closed it.

The Hope Medical Group for Women is the first abortion clinic that was shut down under a state law passed in June. The law empowers the DHH to shut down the operation of an abortion facility if DHH investigators find the facility is violating the law and poses "an immediate threat to the health and safety of a patient or client." The law, passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the legislature, declared that the DHH would have the same authority over abortion facilities as it already has over hospitals.

On September 3, the DHH revoked the operating license of Hope Medical after DHH agents found the abortion facility's staff failed to provide women a physical examination prior to abortions. Physicals are necessary to screen for and prevent devastating health reactions to anesthesia.

DHH agents found that in 14 cases of abortion they reviewed, the abortion facility did not have a trained professional monitor its clients respiratory, cardiovascular, and consciousness levels after the administration of intravenous and gaseous anesthesia.

The danger of such lapses to women's lives was highlighted by last week's sentencing of a Massachusetts abortionist to six months in prison over the anesthesia-related death of a client, who went into cardiac arrest on the operating table. Dr. Rapin Osathanondh was found criminally negligent in the death of Laura Hope Smith, 22, because he failed to have her vital signs monitored while he aborted her unborn child. (see coverage)

"We are shocked that a state court judge would order that the Shreveport abortion facility can remain open awaiting appeal even though it was found to have 'significant health and safety risks' to women," said Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation. "The Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly authorized the state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to immediately suspend the licenses of abortion facilities that exhibit this behavior, and in his ruling, Judge Caldwell has spurned this legislation and the work of the DHH in favor of an unsafe abortion facility. 

"Our state should have the right to keep citizens safe by closing abortion facilities that cross the line."

The Shreveport Times reports the Hope Medical Group is fighting back against the law. In addition to challenges to the DHH closure, they also filed suit on Monday challenging the constitutionality of the law.

See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:

Judge Orders Louisiana Abortion Clinic Back in Business - For Now  

Abortionist Pleads 'Guilty' to Manslaughter - Sentenced to 6 Months in Jail  

Louisiana Abortion Clinic Shut Down for Ignoring "Most Basic" Medical Practices  


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Congressman: U.N. Abortion Agenda Undermines Fight against Maternal Mortality

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In this Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith warned that an abortion agenda at the United Nations threatens to derail Millennium Development Goal number 5 of sharply reducing global maternal mortality, by diverting life-saving resources away from mothers and into legalizing abortion.

Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and global health, said that while health activists and world leaders were convening this week at the UN to discuss the eight Millennium Development Goals and the targets to achieve by 2015, “the most compelling and achievable objectives - huge reductions in maternal and child mortality worldwide - will be severely undermined if the Obama administration either directly or covertly integrates abortion into the final outcome document.”

The pro-life human rights leader said that if abortion proponents get their way and make abortion included as a part of “reproductive health” then the “robust resolve required at national levels to deploy the funds needed to achieve the internationally agreed targets will be compromised.”

He pointed out that at least 125 sovereign nations have laws or constitutions prohibiting or restricting abortion, and so re-defining “reproductive health” to include abortion would risk their wholly committed financial support to ending maternal mortality.

Smith also pointed out that a Lancet study underscored the point, contrary to what pro-abortion advocates contend, that nations with laws prohibiting abortion “have some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world – Ireland, Chile and Poland among them.”

“We have known for more than 60 years what actually saves women's lives: skilled attendance at birth, treatment to stop hemorrhages, access to safe blood, emergency obstetric care, antibiotics, repair of fistulas, adequate nutrition, and pre- and post-natal care,” said Smith. “The goal of the upcoming summit should be a world free of abortion, not free abortion to the world.”

Read the rest of Rep. Chris Smith’s op-ed in the Sunday’s Washington Post here.

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Archdiocese Disavows any Connection with Liberal ‘Synod’

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Matthew Anderson

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has officially stated that a liberal “synod” held over the weekend was not sanctioned in any way by the Church.

In a statement released on Friday, the archdiocese explained that the synod, “Claiming Our Place at the Table,” scheduled for Saturday and sponsored by the group Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), was being put on without the support of the archdiocese.

During the synod’s keynote address, given by Paul Lakeland, Professor of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University and contributing writer to the Huffington Post, Lakeland openly questioned several doctrines of the church, including on the issue of homosexuality.

“Whether we are concerned for the roles of women in the Church, or our inclusiveness with the respect to the Catholic LGBTQ population, or our openness to the divorced and remarried, we have to challenge our leaders to explain and defend their often negative and unwelcoming positions,” he said.

CCCR also used the opportunity to honor several of its members with their “Adsum Award,” which is meant to recognize individuals who are present to the Holy Spirit. According to The Progressive Catholic Voice, a liberal Catholic news site, one of the recipients of the award was David McCaffrey, who was honored particularly for his role in founding and supporting the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities.

The Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities is a member organization of CCCR, and seeks to “foster safe and affirming spaces for GLBT youths, adults, families, and their friends as we help them to integrate their sexual identities with their Catholic heritage,” according to its website.

Additionally, several groups listed as members of CCCR openly dissent from the Church’s teaching on women’s ordination.

According to the archdiocese’s statement, the synod was held without “the auspices of the Archdiocese, the universal Roman Catholic Church, or any entity or organization affiliated with the Archdiocese or the universal Roman Catholic Church.”

The archdiocese went on to warn the faithful attending the event to be aware that certain teachings the CCCR was seeking to reform are matters of doctrine and thus demand the assent of faith. It also reminded the faithful of their obligation to “shun any contrary doctrines, and instead to embrace and retain, to safeguard reverently and expound faithfully, the doctrine of faith and morals proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church.”

According to The Progressive Catholic Voice, over 400 people attended the synod despite the archdiocese’s warning. 

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Midwest Catholic Bishops Exhort Flocks to Fight for Marriage

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Peter J. Smith

DES MOINES, Iowa, September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic bishops of Iowa and Minnesota are sending Catholics a strong message this year: get out of the pews and into the political arena to protect marriage in their state constitutions.

“This is our time to stand up and defend marriage as a unique institution that, from the beginning of human history and in every culture, is the union of one man and one woman for the propagation of the human family and the upbringing of children,” said Rev. John Quinn, Bishop of Winona, a diocese of 130,000 Catholics, in the diocesan paper, The Courier.

The Minnesota Catholic Bishops are launching an aggressive six week campaign to remind or re-catechize Catholics about the truth of marriage, and urge them to contact their legislators, become informed about the candidates, and vote in the November 2 elections to defend marriage.

Minnesotans go to elect a new governor and legislature November 2, and the issue of marriage and same-sex “marriage” is at the forefront.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner support same-sex “marriage,” while GOP candidate Tom Emmer does not.

Local KSTP-TV reports the campaign effort involves sending a DVD on marriage to every single parishioner in the diocese – approximately 800,000 Minnesota Catholics – with an eight-minute message that also features Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Neinstedt. The video was prepared by the Knights of Columbus and is expected to be mailed out Wednesday.

"Our target is basically our Catholic people," Nienstedt told ABC 5 Eyewitness News. "To remind them of what we believe and why we believe it and why it's so important that they believe it."

Right now a lawsuit is underway to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex “marriage” and does not recognize the validity of same-sex “marriages” contracted outside of the state.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against same-sex marriage in 1971 and four out of the seven sitting jurists on the high court were appointed by pro-family GOP governor Tim Pawlenty, making it more likely the court will uphold the law.

Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota law professor and advocate for same-sex “marriage” noted that the lawsuit by homosexual advocates was a “very risky roll of the dice.” Given the political climate, he said, it could fuel further “dissatisfaction with the incumbents and anyone else supportive of gay marriage.”

Just last week, Nienstedt repeated his call that Minnesota must pass a constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a pastoral message for Catechetical Sunday, September 19.

He also reminded them that same sex unions were among the four “contemporary challenges” to the meaning and purpose of marriage identified by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in a 2009 document, “Marriage Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” The other challenges were divorce, contraception, and co-habitation. 
Meanwhile, in the state of Iowa the Catholic Conference has signed on to an effort to get voter approval for a state constitutional convention that would enable Iowans to amend the constitution. The amendment, they see, is the quickest way to respond to a 7-0 ruling by state Supreme Court justices that struck down Iowa’s 1998 Defense of Marriage Act.

Every 10 years Iowans have the opportunity to vote on holding a state constitutional convention, and the question is coming up for vote in 2010. If approved, then a convention would be scheduled and delegates elected according to a process established by the legislature. Any amendments or even a new constitution created by the convention would then have to be put on the ballot for voter approval in order to take effect.

Early voting in Iowa starts September 23, and the Iowa Catholic Conference has already begun circulating an educational flyer, encouraging Catholics to vote “yes” on a constitutional convention.

“A ‘yes’ vote on this measure will allow Catholics and others to work for a marriage amendment to the Iowa constitution. This amendment would affirm the traditional understanding that marriage is a union of one man and one woman,” it stated.

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Republicans Block Repeal of Military Gay, Abortion Bans

by LifeSiteNews.com Tue Sep 21 11:15 EST Comments (0)

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republicans were successful in their efforts Tuesday to block debate on a defense authorization bill that would have repealed both the law prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the military and the law banning abortion on military bases.

Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed for cloture as all members of the GOP caucus held together, and two Arkansas Democrats, Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, also crossed party lines to join the Republican-led filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also voted against the bill, but only as a procedural tactic. Under the Senate rules, this gives him the opportunity to bring up the matter at a later time. It is anticipated that Reid will reintroduce the measure sometime during the Congressional lame-duck session in December.

The $726 billion Defense Authorization Bill has one amendment, originally sponsored by Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), that strikes a section of the U.S. Code, which has prohibited Department of Defense facilities from being used to perform abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the life of the mother.

Top conservative groups including the Family Research Council (FRC), the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, and the American Family Association are warning that the FY2011 Defense Authorization bill, if passed, would "turn every U.S. military hospital in the world into an abortion clinic."

FRC president Tony Perkins noted that, because it is not an appropriations bill, the controversial authorization measure is "not necessary to fund our military.”

Also at stake was the 1993 law banning homosexuals from military service, a law that is commonly, but erroneously identified as the Pentagon policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) led the charge to block the repeal of the 1993 law and DADT.

Heavy pressure was put on Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to buck the GOP filibuster and vote for cloture. However Collins, who supports a repeal of the 1993 law, and voted for it in committee, said she would not help advance the bill unless Reid would allow the GOP to submit their own amendments, adding they “deserve to have a civil, fair and open debate.”

“I will defend the right of my colleagues to offer amendments on this issue, and other issues that are being brought up in connection with the defense authorization bill,” Collins said on the Senate floor.

Snowe expressed similar reservations, but added that since DADT had been in place for 17 years, Congress deserved a chance to review the Defense Department’s upcoming December report on the issue first.

Earlier today, Marine Gen. James Amos, President Obama’s nominee to replace Gen. James Conway as Marine Corps Commandant, testified before the Senate that most Marines oppose repeal of DADT.

“I've heard at the Marine bases and the Marine input for the online survey has been predominantly negative,” Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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