Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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UN Treaty System strongly criticised by governments for complexity and unauthorized power grabs

by Stefano Gennarini, J.D. Wed Apr 11 18:49 EST Comments (0)


NEW YORK, April 6, 2012 ( - The UN treaty body system may be on the verge of collapse due to a huge backlog of government reports and insufficient resources.  In additional to backlog problems, the committees have been criticized for going beyond the mandate of the treaties they monitor and imposing their own interpretations, which include unrestricted abortion and homosexual rights.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a meeting this week to hash out disagreements. On the one hand, treaty body members want more staff and time to deal with voluminous reports from governments. On the other hand, governments are annoyed at the overreach of most of the treaty bodies that take it upon themselves to reinterpret the content of treaties and to hector governments over issues not present in them in the first place!

During this week’s meeting a truly bleak picture emerged. The treaty bodies appear to be simply unable to keep up with their work. Each year, they should address 320 reports, but in the end, only 120 reports are actually reviewed. The problem is compounded by delays in governments reporting to the bodies.

Of the cumulative initial reports due, 307 have never been submitted. Only 33% of reports are presented to the treaty bodies on time. Part of the problem is the massive number of reports governments are supposed to submit. Small governments tend to have serious problems meeting the reporting requirements.

Treaty body experts who spoke during the meeting insisted on more funding and on reform that would not compromise their independence. They view the backlog as a testament to the success of the treaty body system.

Governments proposed a code of conduct for the treaty body members. The treaties that establish these committees do not flesh out how the treaty bodies should conduct their dialogue with states. Treaty bodies have used this latitude to ask countries to change their laws on issues that are not recognized in any UN treaty, like abortion and homosexuality.

Pakistan stated: “State parties need the treaty bodies to be accountable, reliable and predictable, their independence notwithstanding.” The Pakistani delegate was especially concerned that any reform must be consistent with the treaties: “Treaties are serious legal documents that are the result of years of negotiations.”

Controversial proposals included strict page limits on countries’ submissions, follow-up procedures to treaty bodies’ recommendations, optional reporting mechanisms like country visits and criteria for selecting candidates to sit on the treaty bodies.

Many of these proposals come from the Dublin Outcome Document. Released last November and signed by several treaty body members, it sets forth a number of proposals for reform. Numerous governments believe many of these proposals would require a new international treaty before they could be adopted.

China’s delegation, reflecting concerns shared by small and impoverished countries, stated: “Follow up procedure should not add to the reporting burden of states.” China also expressed concern with the view put forward by treaty body members that their opinions are authoritative: “The conclusions (of the treaty bodies) have no legal validity.”

Russia’s delegation is leading the inter-governmental process that will culminate in the UN General Assembly. They have sought to steer the conversation away from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the treaty bodies themselves to ensure that sovereign states decide how treaty body reform takes place.

Tags: united nations

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Austrian Priest resigns after overruling by cardinal on homosexual in parish council

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Wed Apr 11 18:27 EST Comments (149)

Florian Stangl

VIENNA, April 11, 2012 ( - Coming only a few days after Easter, the resignation of Father Gerhard Swierzek, the pastor of a parish in the Archdiocese of Vienna, has been hailed by homosexualist activists in the Catholic Church as a victory. Fr. Swierzek had refused to allow an active homosexual, Florian Stangl, who is living in a legal registered partnership with another man, to sit on the parish council in the town of Stützenhofen.

The Austrian Independent reported Tuesday that Fr. Swierzek has asked his superiors for another assignment. He said he was “saddened” that the cardinal archbishop of Vienna met with Stangl and his partner but had refused to meet with him about the situation.

The German language Catholic news service quoted Fr. Swierzek saying “I have a priestly conscience and I respect divine and ecclesiastical law.” He explained that he could not remain active in a parish, whose members “wanted their right at any price”.

He cited the teaching of the Church according to Pope John Paul II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexual behaviour. “Living in sin is not considered to be the norm in a Catholic Church community,” he said. “It is much more the task of a priest to bring a sinner to penance.”

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Last week, Christoph Schönborn, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna overruled his priest and his own previous position, saying that Stangl’s election to the parish council was upheld.

At first the cardinal had appeared to support his priest, but announced a few days later that, having had lunch with Stangl and his partner, he had changed his mind. Stangl, a 26 year-old social worker, had received 96 out of 142 votes in a recent parish council election. “This man is at the right place,” the cardinal said.

A statement was later posted on the cardinal’s blog, saying, “…There are many parish councilors whose lifestyle does not in every way conform to the ideals of the Church.

“In view of the life-witness that each of them gives taken as a whole, and their commitment to the attempt to live a life of faith, the Church rejoices in their efforts. She does not thereby call the validity of her ideals into question.”

After his lunch with Stangl, Schönborn said he was “deeply impressed by his faithful disposition, his humility, and the way in which he lives his commitment to service.

“I can therefore understand why the inhabitants of Stützenhofen voted so decidedly for his participation in the parish council.”

A visitor at one of the Easter Masses in the tiny town of Stützenhofen told radio station Ö1 that the cardinal’s decision was “proof of the Austrian Church’s willingness to become more modern and open,” according to the Independent.

The head of the outlawed group, New Ways Ministry appears to agree. The renegade priest, Francis DeBernardo, who directs the group, said the cardinal’s position supported their own, “that no one in the church follows all of the church’s principles, and that it is their total life commitment, not their adherence to litmus tests, which qualify them for church leadership”. 

New Ways Ministry encourages homosexual Catholics to maintain their lifestyle and attempts to convince the hierarchy of the Church to accept it.

“He is saying that he will not treat LGBT people any differently than anyone else,” DeBernardo continued. It describes itself as “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics,” that was banned by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.

The group’s two directors, Fr. DeBernardo and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, were prohibited from engaging in any ministry with homosexuals. Their support for the homosexualist movement within the Church resulted in their being declared “ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes”.

“By taking this time to meet and listen to a gay man’s experience, the Cardinal is a model for all church leaders.  Personal encounter was the way of Jesus and should be the way of Catholic leaders. It is the best way to break stereotyping and prejudices that may exist in one’s mind,” DeBernardo concluded.

Tags: catholicism, homosexuality

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Pennsylvania closes notorious abortionist’s unsanitary clinic

by Ben Johnson Wed Apr 11 17:43 EST Comments (3)


ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, April 11, 2012, ( – The Pennsylvania Department of Health has closed an abortion clinic belonging to notorious abortionist Steven Chase Brigham in Allentown, after previous inspections found violations of health and safety standards.

The department did not renew the license for Allentown Medical Services (AMS) when it expired on March 31. However, a state pro-life leader told a clerical error resulted in its license being reissued last week. After AMS lost its lease, the license was once again revoked.

Mary Paris of the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania told LifeSiteNews the lieutenant governor personally told her the abortion clinic had been closed.

Paris led protests for its closure after a state health department report found a “thick” pool of dried blood at the bottom of a freezer, fetal body parts, and such “sterile” instruments as speculums with “an accumulation of brown debris in the hinge areas.”

After the department ordered Brigham to sever all ties with abortion clinics in the state, he transferred ownership an organization called “Rose Health Services,” which was created by his mother, Judith Fitch. Paris said it was a shell game to allow profits to continue rolling in despite the law. She said the closure was “overdue” but welcome.

Brigham – who owns a string of 15 abortion clinics in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia – developed a terrible reputation after having his medical license suspended, rescinded, or surrendered in five other states. He regularly hired unqualified workers to staff his clinics.

In 1994, New York State officials found Brigham guilty of “gross negligence” and “inexcusably bad judgment” following two botched abortions. A year later, the state convicted him of tax evasion. “In 1997, Brigham employed an ob-gyn doctor who was suspended for a number of issues, including sexually abusing his clients.” 

Brigham would often begin late-term abortions in New Jersey, then complete the procedures at his office in Elkton, Maryland – where he had no license to practice.

Officials in Maryland charged Brigham and his associate, Nicola Irene Riley, with murder for aborting children after viability, the first such use of the law in the state. However, the charges were dismissed in March, because the prosecutor was not certain the abortion had taken place in Maryland.

Paris told LifeSiteNews she would remain vigilant to assure he did not reopen his offices and threaten women’s health for profit again. “The guy’s ruthless,” Paris said. “He’s going to try to do every single thing he can” to start up his dangerous business again.

(A July 2011 protest in Allentown)

Tags: pennsylvania, steven

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Jimmy Carter’s pro-life rhetoric ‘a political decision,’ Baptist leaders say

by Ben Johnson Wed Apr 11 17:30 EST Comments (7)

MP3 6

This story was updated at 10 a.m. Eastern time n April 12, 2012 to include additional quotations and embed the audio file of President Carter speaking with Dr. Albert Mohler.

PLAINS, GEORGIA, April 11, 2012, (  – Leader of former President Jimmy Carter’s longtime denomination say his calls for the Democratic Party to adopt a less radical pro-choice platform is a political calculation to help the party in the South.

“I never have believed that Jesus Christ would approve of abortions,” Carter told talk show host Laura Ingraham, while promoting his new study Bible. “I’ve signed a public letter calling for the Democratic Party at the next convention to espouse my position on abortion which is to minimize the need…and limit it only to women whose life are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.”

“I think if the Democratic Party would adopt that policy that would be acceptable to a lot of people who are now estranged from our party because of the abortion issue,” he said.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

The political context, and the shift in Carter’s views since leaving the presidency, have made Southern Baptist leaders question his sincerity.

“What he’s doing is making a political calculation,” Dr. Richard Land told “It isn’t a moral decision about abortion. This is a political decision.”

Dr. Land, who has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988, said the issue “is killing the Democrats in the South” and that “Jimmy understands this. He understands the reason they lost the South is not the civil rights movement; it’s the abortion movement.”

“I think there’s a political calculus at play here,” agreed J. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action. “Jimmy Carter, though he wasn’t much of a president, is astute enough to recognize this is a battle they’re going to lose. Those who defended abortion homicide will be viewed similarly in history as those who opposed the abolition movement and supported slavery.”

“The millenials are swinging in droves,” he said. “As science indicates when life begins, the young people are simply abandoning the euphemistic talking points [the] pro-choice…Left has been using to push its radical agenda.”

The former president’s unease may be heightened by the strong showing pro-life activist Randall Terry made in the Democratic presidential primaries, beating President Obama in 14 counties in Oklahoma. Ingraham noted Carter was the last Democrat to carry every state in the South.

(Story continues following video. Carter’s comments begin at approximately 13:17.)

President Carter made nearly identical comments in 2005, while promoting his number one New York Times bestseller,   Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. shortly after “values voters” defeated John Kerry. Carter told The Washington Times, “I’ve never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.” He hoped his party would “let the deeply religious people and the moderates on social issues like abortion feel that the Democratic Party cares about them and understands them.” The book’s seven pages on abortion, however, do not criticize Democrats but say pro-life voters “do not extend their concern to the baby who is born.”
As president, Carter appointed Sarah Weddington, the lead attorney in Roe v. Wade, as his chief adviser on women’s affairs from 1978-81. While he personally opposed abortion and vetoed government funding of abortion, he said he would not enact his views into law.

Dr. Land called that “the worst position you can have morally.”

“It’s one thing not to understand abortion is the taking of a human life and thus be for its legalization,” he said. “It’s altogether worse to understand that it is the taking of a human life but not have the gumption to stand up and say the country shouldn’t allow it.”

At the same time the 39th president has highlighted his more moderate stance on abortion, Carter has endorsed same-sex “marriage.” He told The Huffington Post, “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies” but he added he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”

Dr. Richard Land said, “I’m not surprised that he holds that view. He is hopelessly confused as a theologian.” Carter has said his favorite theologians were liberals Rienhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.

Barber told, “Jimmy Carter has made a cottage industry of twisting scripture to say the exact opposite of what it says.”

“Homosexual conduct, is listed over and over again in black-and-white as sin,” said Barber.

“There’s a word for what Jimmy Carter is doing. That’s apostasy,” Barber told “That’s a strong word to use, but Jimmy Carter is an apostate in that he is leading the least of these to sin against what Scripture clearly condemns in terms of homosexual conduct.”

“He is not just fooling himself with this,” Barber told LifeSiteNews. “Unfortunately he’s using the goodwill he has developed over the years and his history as the leader of the free world to push heretical notions.”

These views, they said, stem from Carter’s belief the Bible is not inerrant, they said.

Last month, Carter joined Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for a lengthy and cordial discussion of theology. Dr. Mohler described Carter’s view of Scriptural inerrancy as “a separation of history and theology that I believe is destructive of the Gospel.” 

Dr. Land told, “Jimmy has fallen prey to the common malady of mainline Protestantism: dalmation theology. The Bible is inspired in spots, and they individually are inspired to spot the spots. They just happen to be the spots they agree with.” 

Matt Barber agreed, “The liberal theologian is in the untenable position of having to take the Bible and say it is a really malleable text so they can take it and twist it and turn it contort is in such a way so they say it fits with their worldview.”

“They stand in judgment of Scripture instead of standing under the judgment of Scripture,” Dr. Land said.

This was Carter’s motive to create a new, more liberal Baptist church with former president Bill Clinton in 2008.

“They are people who were raised Southern Baptist in the case of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton but don’t really believe what Southern Baptists believe anymore but who want to nostalgically yearn for being called Southern Baptists,” Dr. Land said.

“I am in no position to judge Jimmy Carter’s soul or his relationship, to the extent that he may or may not have one, with Christ,” Barber said. “However, I can look at what Jimmy Carter has done in defense of the gross bastardization of a God-inspired institution, marriage, and the 55 million children who have been slaughtered since Roe v. Wade, and I can say without a doubt those [positions] are an affront to the clear, unequivocal words of Scripture.”

Tags: j matt barber, jimmy carter, laura ingraham, richard land

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Bioethicist argues PVS diagnosed patients should not be kept alive

by Peter Baklinski Wed Apr 11 17:21 EST Comments (7)

Terri Schiavo was declared to be in a PVS state and despite intense opposition from her parents and thousands of supporters, her food and water were withdrawn causing her to experience a slow, painful death.

April 11, 2012 ( - If an American bioethicist gets her way, all patients evaluated as being in a “permanent vegetative state” (PVS) would by default have artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) withdrawn unless they have made a prior wish to be kept alive.

In the March 2012 issue of Bioethics, Dr. Catherine Constable argues that “in the absence of clear evidence that the patient would opt for this existence over death, keeping him alive by any means of assistance is ethically more problematic than allowing him to die.”

Constable’s article however, does not appear to adequately confront recent research indicating that many patients have been misdiagnosed as PVS and have in fact had functioning, fully conscious brains. They have been unable to communicate their situation to caregivers and to those who in many cases made misguided decisions to end their lives. The highly respected Discover Magazine published a dramatic report on such research last year.

The term PVS itself is also being increasingly being challenged as inappropriate for human beings who it is argued can never be considered to be “vegetative”.

In her article titled Withdrawal of Artificial Nutrition and Hydration for Patients in a Permanent Vegetative State: Changing Tack, Constable suggests that the current medical presumption that favors providing nutrition and hydration to PVS patients is a “violation of autonomy” and that it “goes against the best interests of the patient”.

Constable, who teaches at New York University School of Medicine but who studied bioethics at the Ethox Centre at Oxford University, justifies her position using the philosophical premise of Peter Singer that “[whether or not] a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.” She drew heavily on Singer’s method for valuing persons in terms of consciousness that allows him to argue that “the most significant ethically relevant characteristic of human beings whose brains have ceased to function is not that they are members of our species, but that they have no prospect of regaining consciousness.”

“Without consciousness, continued life cannot benefit them [PVS patients],” Singer argued.

Constable runs with Singer’s line of reasoning, concluding that “a decision to preserve the life of a patient in a state of permanent unconsciousness based on respect for life itself is morally no more sound than a decision to take that life.”

For Constable, an individual’s autonomy is the highest human good, overriding any other good, including what she calls the “sanctity of life”. Since a PVS patient presumably no longer has consciousness and therefore lacks autonomy, her argument runs, then there is no moral reason that such a patient should be kept alive.

“In view of this conclusion, other considerations, such as the cost to the healthcare system (public, or any other kind) would seem poised to be deciding factors,” she argues.

Constable goes as far as making the case that those who provide a PVS patient who may not have wanted to be kept alive with ANH “have arguably committed a worse violation of autonomy by treating the patient than if we had not treated him against his wishes.”

Bringing in surveys that indicate that a majority of people would not want to continue living in a permanent vegetative state, Constable argues that in continuing to provide ANH to PVS patients “we are employing a treatment that most do not consider beneficial without consent.” For Constable, ANH is simply a “form of treatment” that is concomitant with all the “ethical ramifications” that would normally accompany any other kind of treatment.

Constable even argues against keeping PVS patients alive through ANH under the pretext of a chance of recovery for the reason that the new life gained would be “far less likely to resemble [the life that was] lost” and would likely resemble “some state of middle consciousness”. She suggests that the life of a recovered PVS patient would be “quite possibly, worse than non-existence”.

Renowned bioethics critic Wesley J. Smith called Constable’s position paper a “radical proposal” that would set the stage for what he called a “‘default for death’ policy [that] would establish the foundation for a veritable duty to die”.

Smith warned that Constable’s arguments for killing PVS patients are not limited to the PVS.

“Some bioethicists already claim that those with minimal consciousness have an interest in being made to die. And don’t forget Futile Care Theory and health care rationing bearing down on us.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated in 2007 that the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from PVS patients is immoral. Their statements were approved by Pope Benedict XVI.

“The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.”

The CDF clarified that even if a competent physician judges with moral certainty that a PVS patient will never recover consciousness, nonetheless, a PVS patient is “a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.”

The late John Paul II had also taught that “the administration of water and food [to a sick person], even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.”

“We had better push back on this agenda”, warned Smith on his blog.

“The lives of tens of thousands of people may be at stake.”

Tags: euthanasia, persistent vegetative state, peter singer, pvs

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San Francisco judge: DOMA ‘discriminatory’ for denying same-sex partner benefits

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed Apr 11 16:17 EST Comments (6)

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11, 2012 ( - A federal judge in San Francisco has called federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman discriminatory for preventing partner benefits from going to a federal employee’s homosexual partner.

On Tuesday, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware said that the government’s guarantee of a “discrimination-free workplace” was violated when Christopher Nathan, a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Maria Elena James, attempted but failed to obtain insurance benefits for the male lover once recognized by the state of California as his “spouse,” reports the San Francisco Gate. 

Although same-sex “marriage” is not legally recognized in California, the state has continued to treat as valid marriage licenses issued to homosexual couples during the 5-month window that the practice was legal in 2008.

Because the ruling was part of the court’s employee dispute-resolution program, Ware concluded simply by ordering a court clerk to reimburse Nathan for insurance premium costs.

This is not the first time that DOMA, which currently awaits the outcome of a challenge in a federal appeals court in Boston, has been questioned or even dismissed as irrelevant in a U.S. court

In February 2009, two judges in California’s 9th Circuit Court disregarded the 1996 federal law in resolving similar court staffer disputes, with one declaring the law “unconstitutional.”

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Pro-life veteran priest arrested protesting Obama at Notre Dame now ailing, prayers requested

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed Apr 11 16:11 EST Comments (26)


April 11, 2012 ( - Friends of longtime pro-life activist Fr. Norman Weslin are asking for prayers for the elderly priest as his health declines.

Weslin, 81, is the founder of the Lambs of Christ and estimates on his group’s website that he has been arrested 70 to 80 times in peaceful civil disobedience against abortion.

Jean and Kathy Plourde of Gabriel’s Corner on Tuesday asked for intercession for Fr. Weslin, who is expected to enter hospice care as soon as this week. The pro-lifers say that the priest currently is staying at an Alzheimer’s care facility in Michgan, where he has been for about the past two years.

Although a longtime veteran of the pro-life movement, Weslin became an icon during the Notre Dame scandal as the priest caught on amatuer video being roughly hauled off the school grounds by security personnel when he refused to end his peaceful pro-life witness.

Prior to his ordination in 1986, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. army and married to another pro-life activist, who died in a car accident in 1980. In honor of his wife, Weslin converted his Council Bluffs, Iowa home to “The Mary Weslin Homes for Pregnant, Unwed Mothers,” which has housed over 300 mothers in crisis pregnancies.

In 2007 Weslin was cleared of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act after entering the abortion facility of late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart and counseling women not to abort their children.  He was convicted of the same charge in 2001 and sentenced to five months in prison after kneeling in prayer within a 60-foot buffer zone outside a Buffalo abortuary.

Tags: fr. norman weslin, notre dame

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“Santorum’s national leadership needed by Conservatives” says Conservative leader Richard Viguerie

by LifeSiteNews staff Wed Apr 11 15:56 EST Comments (5)

(Editor’s note: The following is from Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, who pioneered political direct mail and has been called “one of the creators of the modern conservative movement” (The Nation) and one of the “conservatives of the century” (Washington Times))

MANASSAS, Va., April 10, 2012 ( - The grassroots conservative activists who powered Rick Santorum’s campaign of course respect his decision to suspend his campaign.

Conservatives are deeply in Rick’s debt for making their issues the theme of his campaign. That Rick Santorum came from the back of the pack with virtually no resources to threaten the establishment candidate speaks volumes about the power of conservative ideas to win elections.

Conservatives have been looking for a leader ever since Ronald Reagan left the public stage. Rick has been one of the few public figures to regularly unite all four legs of the winning 2010 conservative coalition: social conservatives, national defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and the small government constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party.

Party leaders must recognize that many movement conservatives believe they were denied a voice in the selection of the Republican presidential nominee because party insiders had their thumb on the scale. From ignoring their own party rules on delegate allocation, to jumping the gun on setting up joint campaign and fundraising efforts with Mitt Romney, it appears to many grassroots movement conservatives the fix for Romney was in.

Today, Rick Santorum is the only conservative who can provide the national leadership necessary to bring these conservative voters back to the fold and, most importantly, to demonstrate that conservatives are not merely some interest group to be placated—conservatives ARE the Republican Party.

Without the united and enthusiastic support of most all conservatives, Republican candidates, from President to the local level, will have an exceedingly difficult challenge winning in November.

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Leader of Alberta’s surging Wildrose Party insists she’s ‘pro-choice,’ pro-gay ‘marriage’

by Patrick B. Craine Wed Apr 11 15:32 EST Comments (20)

CALGARY, Alberta, April 11, 2012 ( – As her party dominates polls in the lead-up to Alberta’s April 23 election, the leader of the upstart right-wing party Wildrose has insisted she is ‘pro-choice’ and has no intention to ‘legislate morality.’

After criticizing Wildrose leader Danielle Smith last week over her previous support of conscience rights for doctors and marriage commissioners, the reigning Progressive Conservatives attacked a Wildrose proposal to institute a mechanism for citizen referendums, calling it a backdoor plan to repeal the ‘rights’ of women and homosexuals.

But Smith made her own views clear at an all-candidates debate in her riding of Highwood on Tuesday.

“When our members elected me they knew they were electing a candidate that was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage,” she said, according to the Canadian Press.

“The only way we’re going to be able to become a mainstream, big-tent conservative party capable of forming government is to focus on the issues that matter to Albertans,” she continued. “If I am elected premier, a Wildrose government will not be legislating in areas of morality.”

On Tuesday the PC Party’s campaign manager Susan Elliott told the Calgary Sun that women would be targeted through citizen-initiated referendums.

“Women understand who the target is,” she said. “You’re not the target. I’m the target. Ethnic minorities are targets. Gays and lesbians are targets. We’re the targets of those kinds of things.”

And Liberal Leader Raj Sherman declared: “This is Alberta, not Alabama.”

“There is no place in this province and this country for this hard right-wing Tea Party thinking,” said Sherman.

Brian Mason, the NDP Leader, claimed the debate over abortion funding was settled by the Supreme Court. “We have an obligation to provide all medically necessary services based on the Supreme Court decision in Canada, and that is what we support,” he said.

The controversy arose after a senior Wildrose staffer told a Calgary blogger that the referendums could be a mechanism for pro-life citizens to take action against abortion.

Asked the party’s view on abortion, chief administrative officer Jeffery Trynchy wrote, “The legalities of abortion fall under federal jurisdiction. We respect that Albertans view social issues differently, which is why Wildrose would immediately introduce legislation allowing citizens to put issues like abortion to a citizen initiated referendum.”

Smith herself expressed opposition to public funding for abortions in a 2000 column for the Calgary Herald, and she has not ruled out the possibility that citizens could put the issue to a vote through the referendum mechanism.

But she insists her government would not bring forward a bill to defund abortion and suggested that any potential referendum on abortion would never make it to a vote.

Under the Wildrose proposal, referendum questions would have to be vetted by a federal judge to ensure they are within the province’s jurisdiction and conform to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“I’ve spoken with a legal scholar in the past couple of days, and he indicated it would likely be offside with section 7 of the Charter,” she said. Section 7 upholds the right to “life, liberty and the security of the person.”

“This is the reason why it has to go to a judge. Because we can’t be having public referenda on things that can’t be instituted.”

Wildrose has been performing well in polls as Albertans show increasing dissatisfaction with the PCs after their 41-year reign. Last week, Wildrose looked like it was headed to a majority, though a poll this week put them only slightly ahead.

The new right-wing party has taken strong stances in support of parental freedom in education and against the controversial human rights commissions that have been used to target Christians and other conservative-leaning citizens.

Last week, Premier Alison Redford, who heads the PC Party, claimed she was “frightened” by Wildrose’s apparent support for conscience rights and argued that doctors should be forced to commit abortions and prescribe contraception even if it goes against their beliefs.

Tags: danielle smith, wildrose party

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As ‘Titanimania’ heightens, Titanic’s ‘Women and Children First’ legacy should rule

by LifeSiteNews staff Wed Apr 11 14:57 EST Comments (21)


BRANSON, Mo., April 11, 2012 ( - In a week dominated by Titanic film specials, tribute cruises, artifact auctions, music extravaganzas, and culinary recreations ofTitanic’s last meal, the organizer of Titanic 100: An International Centennial Event —to be held on April 12-15 in Branson, Missouri—has declared that Titanic’s legacy of “women and children first” should be foremost in focus as the ship’s story is remembered.

“This year, the Pentagon sanctioned sending women to the front lines of combat —a policy that would have been unthinkable in 1912 when men knew that it was their duty to sacrifice for women and children,” remarked Doug Phillips President of Vision Forum and Founder of the Christian Boy’s and Men’s Titanic Society. “The men on board Titanic embraced a principle that guided Western Civilization for centuries: that the groom dies for the bride, and men must protect women and children. They were raised in a Christian culture which implicitly embraced these ideals.

“Modern feminism has wreaked havoc on this doctrine, leaving women defenseless when they should be defended,” Phillips observed. “In the name of ‘empowering women,’ feminism has led femininity to be undermined, cheapened, and trampled upon.

 The rule of ‘women and children first’ must be restored, or we will devolve into total barbarism.”

“As Titanimania reaches its zenith, the world would do well to honor Titanic’s most important legacy —that in the midst of this great maritime tragedy, the Christian doctrine of ‘women and children first’ was firmly upheld,” noted Phillips.  Phillips founded the Christian Boy’s and Men’s Titanic Society in 1997, and each year the society hosts a gathering on the anniversary of Titanic’s sinking to commemorate the legacy of male chivalry demonstrated on board the ship when the great ocean liner foundered.

“Titanic is a testimony of God’s providence, and a reminder that even where the hubris of man may lead to judgment, there can be mercy when men respond by following the example of sacrifice patterned by Jesus Christ who died for His bride, the Church, and who reminded us that greater love hath no man than this —that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Phillips said.

“As the great ocean liner sank 100 years ago this week, men and boys on board Titanic willingly gave their lives so women and children might live. Captain E.J. Smith gave this directive, and with few exceptions, his order was carefully followed,” remarked Phillips.

“This example is in stark contrast to what occurred earlier this year when the captain of the Costa Concordia went AWOL and failed to act with manly propriety and self-sacrifice when his ship foundered —a sad sign of our times, as men today prefer to shirk responsibility rather than sacrifice for those weaker who are under their care.”

Sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries and the Christian Boy’s and Men’s Titanic Society, Titanic 100 will focus on the Christian doctrine of “women and children first” that was displayed in the midst of Titanic’s tragic sinking. The event will feature a wide range of exciting activities for the whole family, including a live play and musical performances at the Lawrence Welk Theatre, an Edwardian Ladies Tea hosted on the Chateau on the Lake, exclusive tours of the world’s largest Titanic attraction, a special film screening of A Night to Remember, a Gala Banquet and Celebration on board the Branson Belle, and the opportunity to engage with reenactors who will bring to life the passengers and crew who were on Titanic’s maiden voyage.

“Titanic’s sinking marked the darkest and brightest night in maritime history,” Phillips commented. “Though more than 1,500 people died in this international tragedy, the Darwinian notion of the ‘survival of the fittest’ was rejected in favor of the age-old Christian doctrine that the ‘strong sacrifice for the weak.’

“No event in modern history has done more to remind the world of this important bedrock of Western culture, and we look forward to showcasing this legacy in Branson this week at the Titanic 100.”

To learn more about or to register for the Titanic 100, visit:

Tags: feminism, titanic, women

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Melinda Gates: I’m Catholic and contraception is not controversial

by Patrick B. Craine Wed Apr 11 14:48 EST Comments (176)


April 11, 2012 (C-FAM) - On Holy Thursday Melinda Gates publicly professed her Catholic faith and then personally attacked her Church over its position on contraception. I could not help but be reminded of Judas and his mysterious betrayal of Christ that night, sealed with a kiss.

In fairness to Mrs. Gates, her speech wasn’t expressly about the Church. It was about her foundation’s new “NoControversy” initiative to promote universal access to contraception. Her message was simple: Contraception is not controversial.  And to convince people of this, she argued that population control, abortion, and forced sterilization have nothing to do with the international promotion of universal access to contraception. If people associate them together,  they are just “confused”.

This is a life and death crisis. Every year, 100,000 women who don’t want to be pregnant die in childbirth. About 600,000 women who don’t want to be pregnant give birth to a baby who dies in her first month of life.

I know everybody wants to save these mothers and babies.

But somewhere along the line, we got confused by our own conversations and we stopped trying to save these lives. We need to be clear about our agenda. It is not abortion. It is not population control.

But why attack the Catholic Church?  Well, because the Church isn’t confused about contraception. In fact, even if the contraceptive movement really had successfully cut ties with the population control movement and no longer had anything to do with the promotion of abortion, which is very hard to believe thanks to the work of UN agencies like the UNFPA, the Church would still refuse to change its message: Contraception is bad for people.

That is why Melinda Gates did what she did. As a Catholic, she knows contraception is controversial, and she knows that dismissing the controversy isn’t as simple as laying the blame on confused people making confused arguments about the very real dangers of contraception and its affects on human health, relationship, and society. So she knew she had to dismiss the Church’s teaching as unreasonable and to do it publicly. If she was going to prove to the world that contraception was objectively good, she had to dismiss the Church and, and particular the Church’s audacious claim that it speaks the truth.

In the tradition of the great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings. One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying that birth control is a sin.

I think one of the main reasons people are so uncomfortable talking about this issue is a lingering concern that separating sex from reproduction will encourage promiscuity. It’s a reasonable question to ask about contraception: What is its impact on sexual morality?

But like most women, my decision about birth control had nothing to do with promiscuity. I had a plan for my future. I wanted to go to college, and I studied hard. I am proud that I was one of the very few female computer science graduates in my class. I also wanted to have a career.

Judas knew Christ and was with Him everyday, even in public, and he still betrayed Him. It would be very difficult to deny that Judas wasn’t aware of his own actions. He went to see the high priests, he took their blood money, he brought their guards to Christ. But did he really know what he was doing? Or was Judas confused?

I imagine that the Apostles hardly ever understood exactly what Christ meant when he spoke about the inevitability of His impending death. All of them were used to Christ speaking beyond their comprehension. Some of them ran away from Him, one of them betrayed Him three times before the cock crowed. But not all of them handed Him over to death.

We also shouldn’t forget that for Judas it must have seemed like Christ was the one who was betraying him. Christ was the one abandoning him.  Christ’s death proclamation did not evoke images of the power, or the King, or the Kingdom that Judas has imagined. In fact it was beyond imagination and must have seemed to Judas to be an inconceivable and unnecessary sacrifice.

This was the same Christ who Judas had seen preform countless miracles and who spoke to Judas with an affection he had never encountered anywhere else. So, Judas betrayed Christ because Judas felt betrayed first. But the others did not. They did not because they belonged to Christ and his friendship, while Judas merely “participated”, unconvinced.

The others, even if they did not understand, were so caught up in wonder, so in love with Christ that they could only follow, continually convinced that what Christ had to say, even if it exceeded the confines of their imagination, was nonetheless true.

Today, most Catholics struggle with the Church’s teachings on contraception, but many are convinced by and in wonder of the person of Christ and the Church which continues to proclaim His truth. Within their struggle, they keep following, convinced by the overall attractiveness of the faith. Melinda Gates is not convinced, and so she chooses to deny its teaching, not because she hates the Church, but because she feels somewhat betrayed by it—because she can’t understand it, just like Judas couldn’t understand why Christ, instead of accepting to be turned over to the Romans, didn’t raise up an army of angels to take over and have Himself crowned King. However, we can’t forget, that those who stayed, eventually did.

In June the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the support of the British Government and the UNFPA will host a family planning summit in London. Her speech was meant to pave the way for its success and to call for the entire world to get behind what she claims is a very worthy cause.

Those who denied Christ also did so for what they considered a worthy cause, and this story, even 2,000 years later, continues dramatically today.

Timothy Herrman is the UN representative for the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Herrmann’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

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Wildrose Party: same old liberals in “conservative” costume?

by Steve Jalsevac Wed Apr 11 12:11 EST Comments (10)

So Wildrose leader Danielle Smith has no intention of legislating morality. Right. And the earth is flat and cows fly.

Let’s go through a list:

1. All governments in fact constantly legislate morality. What Smith really means is that she will not allow certain morality that she disagrees with, or just plain cowardly fears, to be protected or enforced by law. However, all else will be allowed to be legislated.

2. Smith said, “The only way we’re going to be able to become a mainstream, big-tent conservative party capable of forming government is to focus on the issues that matter to Albertans.”
What she really means, deliberately without saying so, is that she is referring to issues that matter only to SOME Albertans. The hundreds of thousands of other Albertans who are deeply concerned about abortion, homosexuality, etc. are not considered to be Albertans or to have any democratic say on these issues by Smith. She has unilaterally disenfranchised them.

3. “Gays and lesbians are targets” (PC’s Elliot)
Nope. They have more rights, privileges, protections and power out of all proportion to their numbers than in all of Canada’s history. Now, it is actually faithful Christians and all others that hold to traditional moral principles who are the “targets” of totalitarian “human rights” tribunals, “hate crime” laws, unions, courts and many other institutions.  Elliot, who seems to share Smith’s pro-homosexual sentiments, has got it all backwards.

4. “There is no place in this province and this country for this hard right-wing Tea Party thinking,” said Sherman.
Yea. Right. Wildrose is not Tea Party. Many wish they really were something like the strongly pro-life, pro-family Tea Party folks in the US. Still, likely many of the Wildrose Party members and perhaps a good number of their candidates are Tea Party type folks. However, the way politics has worked in recent decades in Canada, the good people will be squished by the party machine if they step out of line. And as has happened in other parties across the land, these squelched folks won’t stick together and fight back strong enough as they try to “quietly work from the inside and respect the leader”.

5. “we can’t be having public referenda on things that can’t be instituted.”
Translation: “I am not at all willing to stand up for real democracy. I have accepted that the people actually no longer have any power and will make sure that that situation continues.”

6. “The new right-wing party has taken strong stances in support of parental freedom in education and against the controversial human rights commissions that have been used to target Christians and other conservative-leaning citizens.”
If Smith has so totally caved under just a bit of recent pressure, you can be sure that she will not really follow through on these promises. Gaining and maintaining power is everything for these political people. Principles are put far down on the priority ladder.

If I seem overly snarly, it is because I expected far more from Alberta. I don’t expect nearly as much from Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia. Albertans, I at one time thought, were mostly tougher, more down to earth, God-fearing good folks (and of course many certainly still are, as we see from our Alberta LifeSiteNews supporters) than most other Canadians. Obviously, I am really out-of-date by decades. Alberta has fallen to the cultural influences, it appears, as much as has the rest of the nation.

I hope I will be proven totally wrong about all the above, but I don’t think so. Been around too long and seem too much of this stuff over and over again. You can fool some of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but not all of the people every time. (That’s my different version of the usual saying.)

Still, it may be worth throwing out the current PC bums and hope they really get the message. Maybe something good will come of it over the long term while we all work very hard to recover the culture. What to do? No simple answers indeed except to at least vote, not according to party lines, but only for candidates in any of the parties who are genuinely pro-life, pro-family.

Tags: abortion, democracy, freedom, homosexuality

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A childhood lost: painting China’s one child policy

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Wed Apr 11 11:10 EST Comments (8)

'Bullet Holes,' 2012
'People's Daily,' 2011
'Study for the Rise of China,' 2012

ROME, April 11, 2012 ( – He does not accuse, this little boy with the haunting expression, solemn eyed, gazing directly out from the canvas. He does not ask, as he might well ask, ‘Why am I alone?’ but merely stands still and straight, looking steadily forward at the viewer as his imaginary siblings play around him. 

The little boy’s face is that of 38 year-old Chinese painter Li Tianbing, taken from photos of himself as a child; the other little boys are his imaginary playmates, brothers and sisters who were never born, who populated his solitary life. Li’s work – huge canvases of ghostly children playing in landscapes that evoke both China’s ancient artistic tradition and its conflicted industrialised present – focuses consciously on the impact on individual lives of the country’s One Child Policy. He was five when the government issued it in 1979.

An exhibition of Li’s paintings, titled “A Game as Pretense of Being,” is currently making an impact in Paris, but could perhaps more appropriately have been titled, “A Childhood of One”. The focus of his work, Li says, is not on the large statistics whose immense scale can depersonalise, but on the policy’s impact on individual human lives. Children in China now, he says, for the first time in the country’s history, know only the life of solitude. No one is allowed to have brothers and sisters, and there are no large families in a country where for thousands of years family was all.

Li studied international relations in university, then came to Paris at the age of 22 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began painting from his memories and his tiny cache of photos. He said in a video interview that when he was a child, using these photos of himself, he created a whole other imaginary self, a life that included siblings and a large and happy family.

“My paintings are about childhood, but a childhood that is conjured up. The childhood I paint is not what happened in my real childhood,” he says.

“I think the One Child policy was a unique social phenomenon of our generation. What I want to express now is how this generation of people sees the world. The signs he carries in his body, his knowledge of the world and his experience of the world.”

When I was looking at the paintings on the internet, and I read that these children were the images of the imaginary siblings Li never had, my first response was, “Oh, he did that too?” Because I was also an only child, raised by a divorced single mother in the 1970s, and I recognised the expression, that of a child immersed in his own inner world, peopled with imaginary friends, pursuing fantasy adventures far away from lonely reality.

Li Tianbing grew up in rural China in the 1970s, the era following the Communist takeover, when the government issued a decree that no one could have more than one child. Government statistics, widely acknowledged to be unrealistically low, show that the policy has resulted in the loss of at least 400 million people, more than ten times the population of Canada.

The single-minded focus of the government at the time was forcing the country to industrialise, to prove to the world the superiority of Marxist principles. To the ruling class of the time, and up to today, the ideology takes priority over the human needs of the people. As a result, China has the world’s highest rates of capital punishment, abortion and suicide among women. In fact, it is the only country in the world where the suicide rate for women exceeds that of men.

While the policy is overt in China, it is merely a more brutalised version of the societal norm of the West. Here it is not forcibly imposed on the people from above, but it insinuated itself into the minds and hearts of the people I grew up around, where it is every bit as entrenched. To the people of my generation, born in the late 1960s to hippie parents whose rejection of the old values has infiltrated every aspect of our societies, being alone, being “only,” is our norm.

And it produces much the same result: adults whose loneliness is deeply embedded, who take solitude for granted, for whom family life is no more than a hazy fantasy gleaned from books and films, less likely to marry and have children of our own, less interested in engaging in the boisterous unpredictable arenas of the active world, always feeling vaguely like an observer rather than a participant. 

The loneliness wells up from the faces in Li’s paintings like a deep, suppressed groan.

These are the faces of children, some of them obviously very small children, but there is little evidence of innocence. These are not the sun-drenched dreams of golden-haired, apple-cheeked poppets playing sweetly in meadows and country gardens.

The children in Li’s paintings are not starveling, they are not ragged or grubby or neglected. But they are distant, perhaps envious, and a faint but persistent undertone of anger rings incessantly in the viewer’s mind when he looks back at their eyes.

These children live in another world where we are excluded. Who are we to bring our adult reality, with our macro-economic theories and their overbearing imperatives, into their private realm?

Why have we imposed ourselves in this moment, intruding and breaking their concentration? A concentration that is needed to keep reality at bay. The children wait for us to be done looking at them, so they can get back to their play, their thoughts, their world.

In some of the paintings, it is difficult to tell which is the fantasy, which the ghost, and which the reality. A grayscale little boy, holding a toy, runs down a railway track that cuts through a dimly rendered countryside, with ghostly translucent buildings looming up over him as if in a mist. A group of little boys, in bright pink chroma, follows behind him like a school of glittering fish. Which is the reality, and which is the ghost? Where does the child’s imagination end and the real world, the world of gray industrial scenes, begin?

In another, vaporous children stand before snow-covered tree branches, reading communist newspapers. Of the three, only one looks up and over his paper towards the viewer, an expression of surprise on his face, having seen us watching him, perhaps, and wondering where, what world, we have appeared from.

In nearly every painting, one little boy, Li himself, always with the same expression of surprise and disbelief, looks directly at us, as though we are the apparitions intruding into his world.

The paintings have an almost dystopian quality to them, even those showing apparently idyllic natural surroundings, their palettes largely monochromatic, the expressions of the children never joyful but mostly preoccupied and distant. Some of the faces, even those looking directly into the eyes of the viewer, seem closed, as if these children have already made up their minds, already judged the world created for them as a disappointment, and closed the door on us.

Li’s work is an attempt to highlight the reality that the policies that have shaped the macro-picture of demographics, of the economic and social realities on a grand scale in a country with over a billion human beings, have their greatest effect on the individual souls. The human world is not made up of faceless masses, but of one person at a time, living in a unity of a human society made up of other individual persons. In a sense, the existence of “society,” and “culture” and “economics” are all abstractions. Human society can never be about these intangible ideas, but about human beings, one human being at a time.

What a policy that focuses only on these abstractions does to a single, unique human being is the question with which governments never concern themselves, and academics only rarely.

But a single painting is like a single person, and its message, no matter how many see it, is always personal. The children in these paintings assert that they are not instruments or products for use in a grand socio-economic experiment.

See more of Li’s paintings here.

Tags: china, one-child policy

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Planned Parenthood launches ‘40 Days of Prayer’ for abortion

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed Apr 11 10:12 EST Comments (327)

SRPP 'Clergy for Choice'

EUREKA, California, April 11, 2012 ( - Although Planned Parenthood has frequently complained of pro-life prayer vigils - particularly the biannual 40 Days for Life Campaign - one California Planned Parenthood affiliate seems to have chosen an unusually direct way of countering such efforts.

Last month, Six Rivers Planned Parenthood (SRPP) of Eureka, California, launched a campaign called the 40 Days of Prayer: Supporting Women Everywhere. The campaign, as noticed by Liberty Counsel, lists 40 different prayers for those involved in the “sacred care” of abortions to continue protecting, providing, and embracing the procedure - including mothers, escorts, abortionists, and everyone involved except the unborn children.

Some examples include Day 14, a prayer for “Christians everywhere to embrace the loving model of Jesus in the way he refused to shame women,” and Day 38, for “a cloud of gentleness to surround every abortion facility. May everyone feel calm and loving.”


The event is scheduled from March 18 to April 27 and includes several local gatherings “in celebration of women and reproductive rights,” according to a press release.

The campaign is being advertised under SRPP’s Clergy for Choice, who bill themselves as “religious leaders who value all human life.” The prayers themselves are credited to Faith Aloud, a “religious and ethical voice for reproductive justice” based in St. Louis.

The event appears to mimic an increasingly prominent thorn in Planned Parenthood’s side.

The 40 Days for Life Campaign, an emphatically peaceful prayer and fasting event in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world, has reported saving at least 5,838 children from abortion, closing 22 abortion clinics, and prompting 69 providers to walk away from abortion work since its inception in 2007.

Planned Parenthood affiliates have derided the campaign as “40 days and nights of intimidation and harassment” and routinely encourage supporters to pledge a donation for every new pro-life witness praying outside abortion clinics during the events.

Liberty Counsel likened Planned Parenthood’s latest tactic to Nazi Germany’s attempts to use religion to dehumanize the portions of society they sought to exterminate.

“Planned Parenthood’s attempts to develop a ‘spiritual’ aspect to the pro-abortion argument can seem comparable to the religious leaders in Germany who supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was wrong then and it is wrong now,” wrote LC in a press release Tuesday.

David Bereit, National Director of 40 Days for Life, told that the counter-campaign wasn’t entirely new.

“Some say that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ but when that imitation is being used to promote the killing of innocent children, we are anything but flattered,” said Bereit.

While he has seen the same “prayers” displayed by abortion facilities outside during 40 Days for Life campaigns, he said it was the first time he had seen the invocations officially sponsored by a Planned Parenthood affiliate. 

“Planned Parenthood has stooped to a new low by exploiting pastors and churches to ‘celebrate’ the slaughter of babies made in God’s image and likeness,” he said. “They certainly wouldn’t be doing this if 40 Days for Life wasn’t having a devastating impact on their abortion business!”

Tags: 40 days, david bereit, planned parenthood, prayer

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