Wednesday, May 2, 2012

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LifeSiteNews editor to address global pro-life summit in Portugal May 4, 5

by The Editors Wed May 02 18:07 EST Comments (0)

 
Looking out over Lisbon at night.

Lisbon, Portugal, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Global Pro-life Unity Summit, sponsored by Personhood USA, Human Life International, and LifeSiteNews.com and featuring pro-life representatives from countries around the world, will take place on May 4th and 5th in Lisbon, Portugal.

Countries represented include Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Romania, and Ireland. Recent additions to the itinerary include representatives from the nations of Poland and Colombia.

The event’s sponsors, including Pro Referendo Vida campaign founders Luis Botelho and Rodrigo de Castro Faria, will host a press conference at 1pm on Friday, May 4 at the VIP Grand Lisboa Hotel in Lisbon Portugal.

Poland’s Fundacja Pro has endorsed the summit and has submitted a report of strategic recommendations to summit organizers. Last year, in just two weeks, they collected over 600,000 signatures in support of a personhood bill put before the national Congress. The bill was voted down by a mere handful of votes, but their campaign continues as they organize hundreds of pro-life exhibitions around the country.

Colombia’s Unidos Por La Vida will also participate in the Summit sessions via video-conferencing. Last year, they circulated a petition to add an amendment to the nation’s constitution protecting the right to life of all people “from conception to natural death.” In just two months, the group garnered a total of 5 million signatures.

Presenters to be featured at the Global Pro-life Unity Summit include:

Dr. Judith F. Szigeti, PhD represents Hungary’s Alfa Association for the Protection of Life, which is associated with Human Life International. Alfa is a non-denominational and non-partisan organization for people who defend the right to life of all human beings. Dr. Szigeti will speak about legal and cultural issues surrounding the new Hungarian Constitution which enshrines the right to life from conception to natural death. She will also relate the success of public awareness campaigns underway to promote the dignity of human life in Hungary.

Rodrigo de Castro Faria is the former president and founder of University Life Association. He joined the pro-life movement during the campaign against Portugal’s 1998 referendum which liberalized abortion laws. Since then, he has led collaborations with various Catholic associations for the defense of life. Today, he represents the national Pro Referendo Vida initiative that is calling a referendum to recognize personhood in Portugal.

Luis Botelho is a professor at the University of Minho who has campaigned for life since the first national referendum in 1998. He was in the “founding fathers” of Portugal pro Vida in 2009, one of the first explicitly pro-life political parties in Europe. He also represents the Pro Referendo Vida campaign.

Dr. Daniela Păun, MD is the coordinator of the incipient team from Bucharest of the Darul Vieţii (“The Gift of Life”) Association in Timisoara, Romania. The association was founded in 2003 and is affiliated with Human Life International. The Gift of Life seeks to change and save lives through prayer, public awareness and information campaigns, crisis counseling for women, and a chastity campaign for youth. The Gift of Life was the first organizer of the Romanian March for Life five years ago. This year, the largest Romanian March for Life on record took place in 20 major cities across Romania.

Father Nuno Serras Pereira made international headlines when he took out an advertisement in a leading Portuguese newspaper declaring his intent to refuse Holy Communion to Catholic politicians that publicly support abortion. To defend the integrity of the Eucharist and hold Catholic politicians accountable, he encourages his flock to adhere to teachings about respect for the human person, including opposition to abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.

Dr. Eoghan de Faoite has been the Chairman of Youth Defence, Ireland’s largest and most active pro-life organization, since 2002. He has directed highly effective political lobbying campaigns, organized and led nationwide pro-life information projects, and galvanized the youth of Ireland to speak out against abortion. Youth Defence aims to provide real information about abortion, to find new ways of getting that information to the public, and to keep Ireland abortion-free through constant public engagement.

Stephen Phelan is the director of communications for Human Life International, the world’s largest international pro-life organization. HLI educates, trains and equips our partners around the world in an attempt to enable them to defend life and family in their own language and cultures. With affiliates and associates in over 80 nations worldwide, HLI’s mission is “For the greater glory of God, in defense of life, faith and family.”

John-Henry Westen is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews.com. He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout North America, Europe and Asia.  Westen also serves on the executive of the Canadian National March for Life Committee, and the annual National Pro-Life Youth Conference.

Vicente L. Segu is the General Director of Fundacion Incluyendo Mexico and an influential leader in the Mexican conservative movement. He has worked with a number of organizations that promote Catholic values, respect for the life from the conception, and the rights of the unborn.  As an RC member, he has participated in several ministries including the promotion of one of 18 Mexican state constitutional amendments defending life from conception.

Keith Mason is the President of Personhood USA, an organization focused on establishing new personhood efforts, and impacting the movement through key media driven events. Mason has served several different political campaigns to protect the preborn around the country, including assisting in the 2006 campaign to outlaw abortion in South Dakota, and helping to lead the 2008 and 2010 personhood amendments in Colorado.

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D. is Legal Analyst for Personhood USA. Garcia Jones was born in Spain and emigrated to the United States as a child. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with a double major in history and political science. After clerking for a Denver District Court judge, he attended The George Washington University Law School where he received his Juris Doctor in 2004. Gualberto has served as the Director of Legislative Analysis at the American Life League and Personhood USA. He is also the founder of Catholics for Personhood, The 2270 Society, and Personhood Education.

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Protecting unborn children from pain

by Teresa Collett Wed May 02 17:51 EST Comments (7)

 

May 2, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - The United States Congress and the state legislatures of Michigan and New Hampshire are considering Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts. These acts would prohibit almost all abortions at twenty weeks post-fertilization and beyond. Five states—Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Idaho—already have such laws on the books. These laws are premised on the idea that an unborn child’s capacity to feel pain, independent of fetal viability, is sufficient to establish the humanity of the child and to sustain a limited prohibition on abortion. Like partial-birth abortion bans, these laws advance public recognition of the unborn child’s humanity and should be supported.

Objections to Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts generally fall into two categories. First, some philosophers and doctors dispute that the unborn child can “feel” pain prior to birth. Second, many abortion-rights advocates argue that, even if fetal pain exists, the Constitution does not permit states to limit access to abortions merely to prevent inflicting pain on a pre-viable fetus. Upon close examination, neither of these objections is persuasive.

Can Unborn Children Feel Pain?

At the heart of the debate over whether the unborn child feels pain is the definition of “feels.” Some physicians and philosophers restrictively define “feels” to mean only those responses that reflect some self-awareness or “conscious appreciation of pain.” If consciousness is absent, they argue, researchers can at best conclude that the human fetus “reacts to physical stimulation.”

Years ago similar arguments persuaded doctors that newborn children could not feel pain because they evidence no self-consciousness. It was common practice to perform early post-natal surgeries such as circumcision with no pain relief, notwithstanding the child’s screams and struggles. Thankfully, the medical profession now recognizes the capacity of newborns to feel pain, and newborns are regularly anesthetized prior to surgery.

A second group of doctors and scientists supports recognition of fetal pain on the basis of physiological and behavioral responses to painful stimuli. They argue that self-awareness is not the standard used to determine whether comatose or profoundly disabled individuals feel pain. In these cases observed physiological and behavioral responses to stimuli are accepted as reliable indicators of pain. Similarly, physiological and behavioral responses to noxious stimuli observed in the unborn should be accepted as evidence that they feel pain.

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Unborn children have been observed to move away from needles and other sharp objects inserted into the womb, as stress hormones flood their tiny bodies. Scientists have also discovered that prolonged intrauterine exposure to painful stimuli is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects, such as altered pain sensitivity and increased risk of emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities later in life. For these reasons use of fetal anesthetic is now routine for perinatal surgeries. Use of fetal anesthetic renders the unborn child more compliant during surgery and facilitates post-operative healing.

A third group of physicians and scientists answers the question whether the unborn feel pain by pointing to the nervous system’s development. From this perspective, the development and function of various brain regions is the key to determining whether the unborn experience pain. While simple reflex responses can be observed as early as nine weeks of gestation (or seven weeks post-fertilization), most scientists believe that the brain is too immature at this early time to detect and respond to pain. But just a few weeks later, at fourteen weeks of gestation or twelve weeks post-fertilization, physicians argue that pain perception begins when the lower brain stem and thalamus have developed. These scientists point to evidence that children born without the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain.

Other physicians assert that there must be a cortex-thalamus connection to experience pain, placing fetal pain perception at somewhere between twenty and twenty-four weeks of gestation or eighteen to twenty-two weeks post-fertilization. The Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts are premised on this last and more conservative theory, which means that the first objection noted above—that these acts are based on inconclusive scientific evidence—is not compelling. These acts seek to limit abortions only at or after twenty weeks post-fertilization, based on brain development, and not at earlier stages of development when physicians can observe fetuses’ physiological reactions to painful stimuli but can question the involvement of the brain.

Is it Constitutional to Protect Unborn Children from Pain?

Now to the second objection: opponents of Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts routinely assert that even if an unborn child can feel pain, it is unconstitutional to limit abortion prior to the child becoming capable of living independently outside the womb for any reason other than protection of the woman’s health. Even if fetal pain exists, they argue that the pain is constitutionally irrelevant, and point to the absence of any case to the contrary.

Opponents are correct when they say that the Supreme Court has never upheld an abortion ban on the basis of an unborn child’s pain while being aborted. Yet it is equally true that the Court has never been asked whether the state’s interest in protecting unborn children who can feel pain is sufficiently compelling to support a limited ban on abortion.

The Court has always recognized the state’s compelling interest in protecting viable unborn children. In Webster v. Reproductive Services the Court identified viability as occurring at twenty-three to twenty-four weeks of gestation. In Roe v. Wade the Court explained why the state could prohibit abortion of viable unborn children:

This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

This viability rule remains the law today.

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts do not seek to challenge this holding in any way. Rather these acts seek to establish a separate and independent state interest in preserving the lives of unborn children at the point when they are capable of feeling pain. While the outcome of potential litigation is by no means certain, there is reason to believe that limited protection of pain-capable unborn children may be constitutional.

The Case of Justice Kennedy

Abortion cases typically divide the Court, with many of the most significant rulings being 5–4 or plurality opinions with no single opinion endorsed by a majority of the justices. In recent abortion cases such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upholding informed consent and mandatory reporting laws, and Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban, Justice Kennedy’s views determined the outcomes of the cases. This suggests that whether fetal pain is accepted as an independent developmental marker of the humanity of the child may turn on Justice Kennedy’s position on the issue.

Justice Kennedy’s opinions in the two cases involving partial-birth abortion bans provide valuable insight into his possible ruling on the constitutionality of Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts. In Stenberg v. Carhart, the first partial-birth abortion case, Justice Kennedy emphasized that it was “inappropriate for the Judicial Branch to provide an exhaustive list of state interests implicated by abortion,” and that “Casey is premised on the States having an important constitutional role in defining their interests in the abortion debate.” Justice Kennedy described the state’s interest in protection of fetal life as substantial at all points. He wrote, “Casey struck a balance that was central to its holding, and the Court applies Casey’s standard here. A central premise of Casey’s joint opinion . . . is that the government has a legitimate, substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life …”

In Gonzales v. Carhart, the second partial-birth abortion ban case, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the Court, upholding the federal law banning partial-birth abortions in both the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The law made no distinction based on viability. “The Act does apply both previability and postviability because, by common understanding and scientific terminology, a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.” Justice Kennedy again emphasized the state’s interest in the fetus, repeating his earlier statement in Stenberg v. Carhart that “A central premise of Casey’s joint opinion . . . is that the government has a legitimate, substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life.”

Even Justice Stevens, who during his tenure on the Court repeatedly voted to strike down abortion regulations, listed the “organism’s capacity to feel pain” as a reason why “the State’s interest in the protection of an embryo increases progressively and dramatically.” He noted that “the development of a fetus—and pregnancy itself—are not static conditions, and the assertion that the government’s interest is static simply ignores this reality.”

Activists argue that it is unconstitutional for legislatures to limit abortion in the absence of unanimimous scientific opinion on whether the unborn child feels pain. Even though (as suggested above) there is a growing body of research that unborn children can feel pain at twenty weeks of gestation, scientists’ disputes about whether this is true do not imply the correctness of abortion activists’ claim that this disagreement makes the Pain Capable Child Protection Acts unconstitutional. Their second objection to these acts also turns out to be a weak one.

As Justice Kennedy observed in Gonzales v. Carhart, laws can stand even if medical or scientific uncertainty prevents consensus about when the unborn feel pain:

The question becomes whether the Act can stand when this medical uncertainty persists. The Court’s precedents instruct that the Act can survive this facial attack. The Court has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.

This traditional rule is consistent with Casey, which confirms the State’s interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy.

There is a substantial body of scientific and medical evidence that an unborn child feels pain at twenty weeks post-fertilization. The fact that the existence of fetal pain is disputed does not preclude legislative action. As Justice Kennedy noted, “Medical uncertainty does not foreclose the exercise of legislative power in the abortion context any more than it does in other contexts.”

Anaesthetize or Protect from Killing?

Defenders of abortion argue that even if the previable child can feel pain, the proper response is to anaesthetize the fetus, not ban the abortion. They maintain that this response to fetal pain eliminates the harm of unnecessary suffering while preserving the woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. This response by abortion activists reveals the fundamental conflict that underlies abortion jurisprudence—the conflict that the Court was unwilling to resolve in Roe and has avoided resolving in each case since—the question of which characteristics necessarily compel recognition of the unborn as members of the human family.

Is the pain that the unborn child may endure during abortion similar in nature to the pain a dog or horse or some other domesticated animal feels when it is put down at the will of the owner? If so, then we must surely act to mitigate that pain, but merely mitigating that pain need not limit the woman’s ability to kill her unborn child.

But if we consider human pain unique and something of greater moral import than the pain of animals, even the pain of a beloved family pet, we may, in fact must, seek to eliminate the pain through limiting the action that causes that pain. Opponents of the death penalty commonly argue that executing a convicted criminal is unnecessary and cruel given the capacity of society to protect itself in other ways. If our common capacity to suffer is a moral underpinning of our prohibition of torture and cruel forms of deadly punishments, we must at least extend similar protections to the unborn members of the human family.

Recognition of a compelling state interest in the protection of pain-capable unborn children does not require the Court to reject a woman’s liberty interest in obtaining an abortion or the balancing framework of Casey.  It only asks the Court to recognize the legislature’s ability to use new scientific evidence that supports a strong state interest in regulating abortions at twenty weeks after fertilization. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts modestly expand upon the states’ interests in the protection of fetal life and affirm the value of unborn life as recognized in the latest Supreme Court cases addressing abortion.

Teresa Collett is professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. This article reprinted with permission from thePublicDiscourse.com

Tags: fetal pain

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Barefoot and blind: how one Chinese peasant exposed China’s abuses to the whole world

by Michael Cook Wed May 02 17:08 EST Comments (7)

 
Chen Guangcheng and his family.

Click “like” to join a Facebook page in support of Chen!

May 2, 2012 (MercatorNet.com) A blind Chinese peasant has given the whole world a lesson in the power of one. Chen Guangcheng became one of China’s best-known civil rights activists after defending women in his province who had forced abortions under the one-child policy.

Now, after a dramatic escape from house arrest, he appears to have taken refuge in the US embassy in Beijing. His flight is perfectly timed to coincide with weighty discussions between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and their Chinese counterparts.

No doubt “barefoot lawyer” Chen realises that he has put both governments in a cleft stick. He has exposed one of China’s most hideous human rights abuses and he has challenged the Obama administration to truly make human rights – in the President’s words—“a core national security interest and core moral responsibility.”

Chen may be blind; he may be poorly educated; he may be a peasant – but he has outsmarted the world’s two most powerful governments. Neither of them wanted the one-child policy exposed to the glare of the world media. But now it is being discussed around the globe.

Forty-year-old Chen is a man of remarkable courage and intelligence. Blind almost from birth, he was raised on classic tales of courageous heroes fighting corrupt officials. He came from a poor family and only began school when he was 17. 

In 1996 he began to lobby for rights for the disabled in Shandong Province, about 500 kilometres south of Beijing. He was so successful as a “barefoot lawyer” that local people took their grievances to him. He gained a national reputation by leading protests against illegal taxes, polluters, and discrimination against the disabled.

Click “like” to join a Facebook page in support of Chen!

Local officials had already started harassing him when he launched a protest against illegal implementation of the one-child policy. He documented abuses and worked with victims and lawyers to organise a class-action suit against family planning officials in 2005. This failed, but his reputation grew.

Then local officials revenged themselves. They charged him with “wilfully damaging public property and organising a mob to disturb traffic”. In 2006 he was sentenced to jail for four years.

In 2010 Chen was released but, together with his wife and son, he remained under illegal and sometimes brutal house arrest. Making his guards look like a bunch of Keystone Cops, Chen escaped on the night of April 22. Supporters drove him to Beijing.

From his hiding place Chen has released a YouTube appeal to Premier Wen Jiabao asking that officials who attacked his family be prosecuted and that the government prosecute corruption cases according to the law. Appealing to the law may seem quixotic, but if the draconian family planning laws had just been obeyed to the letter, women would have been spared some of the horror of forced abortions and sterilizations.

Horror is not too strong a word. Activist Annie Jing Zhang, of Women’s Rights in China, told a US Congressional hearing in 2009 that some towns display slogans like “Pregnancy with permit”, “When you are required by policy to get abortion, but if you don’t, your house will be destroyed, your buffalo will be confiscated”, “Abort it, kill it, terminate it.  You just cannot give birth to it” or “We would rather to have blood flow like a river than to allow one extra baby to be born”.

Chen ends his YouTube appeal by saying:

“Premier Wen, many people don’t understand these illegal actions. Is it the local Party officials who are disobeying the laws, or do they have the support of the central government? I think that in the near future, you must give the public a clear answer. If we have a thorough investigation and tell the truth to the public, the results will be self-evident. If you continue to ignore this, what will the public think?”

Chen’s audacious ploy discomfits the US as well. Although President Obama recently set up an Atrocities Prevention Board, his administration has been reluctant to question the notorious one-child policy of its biggest trading partner. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in 2009 that human rights shouldn’t interfere with practical concerns:

“Successive administrations and Chinese governments have been poised back and forth on these issues, and we have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.”

And Vice-President Joe Biden gave a speech at Sichuan University last year in which he spoke so diplomatically about the one-child policy that he seemed to be endorsing it: “Your policy has been one which I fully understand—I’m not second-guessing—of one child per family”.

Now it’s time for the Obama Administration to show some courage of its own in standing up for Chen and his family. Essentially his demands are modest. All he wants is the protection of Chinese law. Even his activism against the one-child policy has been focused on getting officials to observe the informed consent enshrined in the law, not to overturn it.

Besides, it is possible that reformers in the upper echelons of the Communist Party like Wen Jiabao actually welcome Chen’s move. The hardline chief of security, Zhou Yongkang, who orchestrated the persecution of Chen, has already been rattled by the purging of party princeling Bo Xilai. Sympathy for Chen weakens his own position.

In any case, it is becoming increasingly clear that the one-child has been a disaster for China, as The Economist recently pointed out. China’s burden of elderly is growing, and the proportion of younger tax-payers is shrinking. Already there are labour shortages. Notwithstanding its current strength, China is a country which will grow old before it grows rich. Chen is a reminder not only of his government’s brutality but its folly in defying the laws of economic growth.

Chen Guangcheng’s fate now depends upon negotiations between two governments who both wish that he would step under a truck. But there is a way to support him. Nominate him for the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Population Award “outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness of population questions”.

In the past the prize has been given to odious family planning apparatchiks and to dictators like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Indonesian President Suharto. Its inaugural recipients, in 1983, were Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, after her notorious campaign for forced sterilization in the 1970s, and Qian Xinzhong, an architect of China’s one-child policy. 

An avalanche of nominations for Chen Guangcheng would show that the world has finally repudiated one of the most despicable, senseless violations of human rights ever implemented by a government against its own people. Click on this link to download an official nomination form.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. This article first appeared on MercatorNet and is reprinted under a Creative Commons license.

Tags: abortion, chen guangcheng, china, one-child policy

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McGuinty Liberals fast track anti-bullying Bill 13, final vote in late May

by Patrick B. Craine Wed May 02 17:01 EST Comments (7)

TORONTO, Ontario, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After a weekend protest outside his constituency office over the government’s controversial “anti-bullying” legislation, Liberal House Leader John Milloy moved Tuesday to fast track the bill so it will pass by the summer.

Angered over the Tories’ efforts to filibuster debate on the bill, which has sparked a huge backlash by parents and religious leaders over concerns that it threatens parental rights and religious freedom, Milloy invoked a time allocation order to push the bill into committee after only 40 minutes debate from each party.

The bill could move to committee as quickly as next week and face a final vote by the end of May.

Both the Opposition Progressive Conservatives and the New Democratic Party are upset over the rare move.

“This is anti-democratic at its core. We never support time allocation,” New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo told Xtra.

The Tories have been promoting their own anti-bullying bill, Bill 14, that does not include Bill 13’s focus on homosexuality. According to Xtra, the Tories and the NDP had been working out a compromise before the Liberals decided to push their bill through.

Premier Dalton McGuinty told Xtra the move is simply about “ensuring we can move ahead with the bill.”

“Otherwise, the bell ringing will go on forever. This is something the government is called upon to use from time to time. We want to move ahead with the bill and this is the way to get it done,” he explained.

But pro-family activist Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition says McGuinty is “fast tracking the bill due to the uprising of parents breaking out across Ontario.”

“He hopes to cut it off by passing the bill quickly before the uprising grows,” said Fonseca, adding that “McGuinty is showing his true colors with this undemocratic move.”

“Parents and supporters ought to flood Dalton McGuinty with a firestorm of complaints, contact their local MPP, and spread the word to everybody they know,” he said.

Contact Information:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
416-325-1941

Contact info for individual Members of Provincial Parliament.

Tags: education, homosexuality, ontario bill 13

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New production company aims to bring culture of life to the music video genre

by Thaddeus Baklinski Wed May 02 16:53 EST Comments (0)

 

ROME, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An international team of professionals who are passionate about music and motivated by a desire to promote the culture of life have successfully launched a new music video production initiative that will offer a positive message of faith, joy and hope to youth, by producing videos to entertain and inspire the next generations.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, video production director and Music Visions founder Manuel de Teffé explained the inspiration behind the initiative.

“We chose this field because music video is by far the most popular content on the Internet. Of YouTube’s global top 20 most watched content of all time, in all categories, 16 are music videos. We are talking about more than four billion viewers,” de Teffé said.

“The social impact of music video via YouTube and other channels is undeniable and yet sadly today’s music video culture no longer respects the dignity of the human person,” de Teffé observed.

“Hundreds of millions of young people spend the most formative years of their lives watching music videos which often promote an openly destructive lifestyle.”

Music Visions’ initiative will also give a springboard to young pro-life artists who are eager to share their message and music but are excluded by the mainstream entertainment industry, which disparages a culture of life message.

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“We know that there many extremely talented artists forgotten by the mainstream simply because of a lack of a well produced music video, so Music Visions would like to change that, to give visibility to these artists trying to make the internet a better place via well crafted music videos,” de Teffé said.

Music Visions marked its official debut with the release of “Beside You,” a music video celebrating the joy of motherhood.

“We feel that the first music video of the series had to celebrate life. Particularly motherhood,” de Teffé told LifeSiteNews.

“We wanted to hint at a universal story: when a baby is not expected the news generates a sense of amazement ... if the baby arrives out of wedlock the surprise is double and strange thoughts occur. Some men flee and some women get desperate.

“What is more, society does not help at all. It’s a battle between good and evil. Well, in this video we simply wanted to portray this battle allowing the good to win. The storyline is pretty basic, with some twists.”

Filmed in Rome, and written and performed by Mario Maneri, “Beside You” is directed by Manuel de Teffé and features Giulia Perelli and Gian Marco Tavani.  Watch it here.

De Teffé gave LifeSiteNews a peek at videos currently in production, that include “Brand New Day” featuring English singer Roseanna, that deals with a teenager who, when her teenage love story falls apart, feels the need to go back to her family and start a brand new day: a feminine version of the “Prodigal son.”

“God’s plan” by Irish singer Derek Ryan, is a beautiful ballad on marriage according to God’s plan.

“We also made a contemporary version of the super classic ‘Amazing grace,’ sung by American recording artist Angelina,” de Teffé says. This video is set in the boxing world with a prizefighter as the protagonist..

Asked about criticisms of Music Visions’ work promoting the culture of life from those within the entertainment industry, de Teffé said the group not only welcomes criticisms but sees them as a “providential measure.”

“I need criticisms,” de Teffé remarked. “And I’m not being ironic whatsoever. I have come to the conclusion that criticisms are really a providential measure.

“So, even if we produce a masterpiece, there will be always a part of our audience unable to appreciate it. And guess what, it’s ok ... if everyone liked the outcome of every action of ours ... in the long run we would develop an unbearable kind of pride, we would feel like gods. So, I healthily welcome criticisms and I do listen to them.”

De Teffé said that Music Visions is looking for talented artists with as yet unreleased songs, for sponsors who understand the importance of this cultural challenge, and for broadcasters interested in taking a chance on something bold and new.

“We are receiving many songs from international artists and now we have to study our next moves,” de Teffé explained.

“So we still keep inviting artists to get in touch with Music Visions and send us songs. But they must have patience, it’s a new project and it needs sponsorship.”

Music Visions was initially made possible with the cooperation of the Catholic Radio and Television Network and the sponsorship of Aid to the Church in Need.

“These organizations saw in the project the potential to present the Culture of Life through the new communications channels in which young people today find their values,” de Teffé pointed out.

“As a father of one daughter,” de Teffé concluded, “I just feel the need to participate in the creation of an environment where my children can have the alternative to watch and enjoy music videos with normal artists and real stories of joy, hope and faith.

“It’s as simple as that.”

Watch Music Visions’ premier music video “Beside You” here.

For more information visit Music Visions’ website.

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Not with a bang… Newt Gingrich formally ends his presidential campaign

by Ben Johnson Wed May 02 16:39 EST Comments (0)

 
Newt Gingrich

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, May 2, 2012, LifeSiteNews.com) – Newt Gingrich bowed to the inevitable this afternoon, telling a gathering of supporters at a northern Virginia hotel he was suspending his presidential campaign.

In a 23-minute address, Gingrich vowed he would remain politically active, as he had since 1958. “Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship,”  he said.

The former House Speaker promised to spend his days in the private sector highlighting issues like religious liberty, American exceptionalism, energy independence, health care freedom, workfare, national security, and space exploration.

Flanked by grandchildren Maggie and Robert, Gingrich said the campaign had been “truly a wild ride.”

He bolted into the Republican primary’s volatile lead twice, once before the Iowa caucuses, then again after a series of strong debate performances that culminated with him winning the South Carolina primary.

During the primaries, Gingrich ripped Barack Obama for voting “in favor of legalizing” infanticide in the Illinois state senate, suggested more strenuous regulation of in vitro fertilization clinics, and regularly faulted the “elite” media for its skewed coverage of conservatives.

“Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry?” he asked in one debate. “The bigotry question goes both ways and there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side, and none of it gets covered by the media.”

He created a problem for himself with his pro-life base by telling ABC’s Jake Tapper he believed life began at implantation, only to reverse himself and say it began at conception.

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His rival Mitt Romney spent $14 million on negative ads in Florida alone, and tens of millions more nationwide, much of it aimed at squashing Gingrich’s candidacy. By Super Tuesday, the author of 1994’s “Contract with America” won only his home state of Georgia.

The negative campaigning embittered Gingrich, who resisted calls to drop out of the race for months, arguing that he and Rick Santorum could amass enough delegates to deny Romney the nomination at the Republican convention in August.

But Gingrich said he had to reassess his campaign after losing Delaware last week.

He leaves the race $4.3 million in debt, even after casino industry exec Sheldon Adelson kept the campaign kept afloat by pumping in $16 million to Newt’s Winning Our Future super PAC.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond verified that representatives of the Gingrich and Romney campaigns had struck an agreement for Newt to act as a campaign surrogate in return for access to Romney’s fundraising circles. 

However, Gingrich left the campaign Wednesday afternoon without endorsing Romney outright. Instead, he said Romney was “conservative enough…compared to Barack Obama.”

“This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan,” he said. “This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history.”

 

Tags: newt gingrich, republicans, richard viguerie

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Chen says U.S. abandoned him after threats to family forced him out of Embassy: report

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed May 02 16:04 EST Comments (28)

 
Channel 4 news video report frame
Chen in Beijing hospital
Crowd keeping vigil outside for Chen outside Beijing hospital

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BEIJING, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Chen Guangcheng has confirmed that he was forced to leave the Embassy because Chinese officials are threatening his family members, and says that although U.S. officials promised to accompany him at his departure, they failed to follow through on their promises, according to one British news source.

Channel 4 News reported Wednesday that it spoke directly with Chen, the forced abortion opponent who escaped abuse by the Chinese government after fleeing to the U.S. Embassy last week, who says he went to a Beijing hospital for reasons unrelated to his health.

“No. I came because of an agreement. I was worried about the safety of my family,” said Chen regarding his departure, according to Channel 4. “A gang of them have taken over our house, sitting in our room and eating at our table, waving thick sticks around.

“They’ve turned our home into a prison, with seven cameras and electric fence all around.”

Chen expressed his dismay that no one from the U.S. embassy had accompanied him. “Nobody from the (US) Embassy is here. I don’t understand why. They promised to be here,” he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose arrival for talks in Beijing Wednesday had been overshadowed by Chen’s escape to the Embassy, said in a statement she was pleased to facilitate Chen’s “stay and departure” in a way that “reflected his choices and our values.” China’s government-run news source Xinhua similarly reported that Chen left “of his own volition.”

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Bob Fu, head of ChinaAid, said that the U.S. Assistant Secretary had personally assured Fu that he was accompanying Chen to the hospital, and Chen’s lawyer Li Jinsong said the activist was “very happy,” according to the Associated Press.

In another AP report Wednesday, a U.S. official speaking anonymously told reporters that Chen had received assurances from the Chinese government that the maltreatment would cease, and that he escaped from house arrest in order to receive medical care and did not request asylum in America.

But Fu and another friend of Chen’s in Beijing, Zeng Jinyan, separately said that they had learned that news of Chen leaving freely was false, and that he left in order to save his family and was still calling for help.

Channel 4 News producer Bessie Du described a weeping Chen, who spoke to her Wednesday of his confusion and dismay over being forced to leave the Embassy as well as the apparent broken promises from both the U.S. and China.

“He sounded firm in the beginning when I ask him what he wanted to tell the world,” wrote Du. “I asked him if he told the embassy that he wanted to leave China, he said: ‘no, because I didn’t have enough information (to make a decision)’. Later he got more anxious and started crying: ‘I’m very sad’ ...

“I think he really doesn’t know what to do now, especially after he heard about the threat his wife and children have received. His friends also tell him that he cannot rely on the ‘assurance’ from the Chinese authority.. This confuses him even more.”

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers told LifeSiteNews.com that the exchange described by Channel 4 appeared consistent with the emerging picture of Chen’s situation, but that conflicting reports have yet to be pieced together for certain.

Chen reportedly now says he wants to leave the country with his family, despite earlier saying he wished to stay and continue his advocacy. Chen has a wife and one child.

Channel 4 reports that attorney Teng Biao, a close friend of Chen, has tweeted that the latter is “obviously not feeling safe now.”

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Colombian Constitutional Court redefines ‘family’ to include homosexual unions

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Wed May 02 15:40 EST Comments (1)

May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Colombia’s Constitutional Court, the nation’s top judicial body, has decreed that the word ‘family’ is no longer to be applied exclusively to those united by blood kinship or marriage.

“The family bond is achieved through the reality of diverse situations, among them the free will to form a family, apart from the sex or orientation of its members,” wrote the judges their verdict, issued on April 20.

“Therefore, it is clear that heterosexuality or differences of sex within the couple, and even the existence of one, is not a definitive aspect of the family, much less a requirement for its constitutional recognition,” they added.

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The Court used the existence of single-parent families, which are most often created by out-of-wedlock sexual activity or divorce, to argue in favor of admitting homosexual unions into the definition of “family.”

“The extent of superior protection of family relationships are circumscribed by different options of biological or social formation of the same, within which monoparental or biparental models are incorporated, or simply that which is derived from simple relationships of childrearing,” the judges wrote. “Therefore, insofar as the existence of a couple isn’t consubstantial with the institution of the family, neither can the sexual orientation of its member be so.”

The Court is now in the process of considering the legalization of homosexual adoption, sparking protests from pro-family organizations in Colombia.

“The Court is taking steps like a cascade, in which one step brings another and [the judges] are doing what they want,” said the Catholic bishop of the city of Fontibón, who complained that “from one moment to the next the Court pulled out an ace from its sleeve and by magic it is saying that it changed the concept of family because it seemed to it to be a two or a three.”

The Constitutional Court has issued several verdicts in recent years overriding government protections for the right to life and family. It has depenalized abortion in cases of rape and incest, and has ordered the government to produce legislation recognizing homosexual unions.

The decree on the definition of a “family” accompanied a verdict by the Court granting retirement benefits to the partner of a lesbian.

Tags: adoption, colombia, homosexuality, sexual orientation

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Brain dead mother delivers twins before dying

by Peter Baklinski Wed May 02 15:26 EST Comments (8)

 
One of the twins carried by Christine Bolden.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Michigan, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 26-year-old mother who was pregnant with twins was declared brain dead after suffering two serious brain aneurysms. The mother was kept on life support until high blood pressure forced the doctors to deliver the twins through an emergency cesarean section, according to 24 Hours News 8.

Christine Bolden was leaving a building with her boyfriend and young daughter in March when she suddenly experienced an excruciating pain in her head, said Christine’s aunt Danielle Bolden. The pregnant mother immediately collapsed and appeared to have entered into a deep sleep.

Once at the hospital, Christine’s family members said they struggled to accept that two ruptured arteries in Christine’s brain had left her permanently brain dead, especially when an ultrasound revealed that the twins where alive and healthy inside the mother’s womb.

“It was a hurting feeling, going [to the hospital] seeing her lying there,” recalled Danielle Bolden.

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While the family grieved over Christine and her dire situation, they held onto the hope that the twins would somehow make it through.

“We used to rub on her belly and talk to the babies,” recalled Danielle.

Doctors told the family that Christine would be kept on life support for as long as the babies were safe in their mother’s womb.

Danielle recalled that it was difficult knowing that the birth of the babies would signal the end of Christine’s life.

After weeks on life support, Christine’s blood pressure was excessively high and doctors rushed to save the twins. The twin boys entered the world at only 25 weeks, while their mother peacefully passed away.

Alexander and Nicholas each weighed about a pound and a half and each measured only about six inches.

As the family joyfully greeted the newest members of their family, they said a tearful farewell to the boys’ mother.

The twins are in critical condition in the neonatal intensive care unit of Spectrum Health hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan where doctors work around the clock to help the youngsters gain weight and develop.

“God, he could have took her and the boys,” said Danielle. “But he left the boys. That’s a miracle.”

Editors Note: Christine Bolden’s family has set up an account at Fifth Third Bank in Christine’s name for anyone who would like to support the family.

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Paralysed man ‘wins’ court battle to end life by having respirator removed

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Wed May 02 14:10 EST Comments (2)

LONDON, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Euthanasia campaigners are jubilant today as a landmark high court ruling will allow a man with motor neuron disease to commit suicide. The 67-year-old, who is not being named in the press, cannot write or speak because of the effects of motor neuron disease. Justice Theis of the Court of Protection, ruled that his indication that he wanted to die, made by blinking a message to his wife, was legally acceptable.

The decision was praised by ‘right-to-die’ campaigner Debbie Purdy, who told the Daily Mail that it is “a victory for humanity because it recognises that irrespective of our disabilities we should still have our rights”.

The man, identified in court documents only as “XB,” has suffered from motor neuron disease for ten years. In 2010, the court was told, in discussions over what life-sustaining treatment he wanted after becoming incapacitated, XB said he would want treatment to be withdrawn.

In November last year, he indicated before witnesses, including a social worker and a physician, that he consented to the removal of a respirator.

The 2005 Mental Capacity Act, which has been denounced repeatedly as a license for euthanising helpless and depressed patients, allows doctors to remove life-sustaining medical treatment, including food and hydration, at a patient’s request. Guidelines issued in 2006 under the Blair Labour government, said that doctors may face prison sentences for assault if they refuse to starve and dehydrate patients to death.

Despite assisted suicide remaining in the criminal code, with a possible penalty of 14 years in prison, pro-life advocates have long maintained that Britain has effectively decriminalised both assisted suicide and euthanasia by omission.

Anthony Ozimic, communications director for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, commented to LifeSiteNews.com, “It is not unethical for a non-dying patient to refuse futile or disproportionately burdensome medical treatment, as long as their intention is not suicidal.

“In this case, however, what is being withdrawn is standard care appropriate for the condition, with the intention of ending life based on the person’s quality of life. We warned for years that the Mental Capacity Act is based on the inhuman notion that disabled people’s lives may not be worth living. It is sanitised barbarism.”

Tags: assisted suicide, euthanasia

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Pope orders reform of straying Vatican international charities org Caritas Internationalis

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Wed May 02 13:56 EST Comments (7)

 

VATICAN CITY, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a carefully worded diplomatic document, the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s highest authority under the pope himself, announced this afternoon that Caritas International, is receiving a new set of rules and statutes which place direct governance in the hands of the Vatican. Today, all was smiles for the cameras, but relations between the Holy See and Caritas, the umbrella organisation that oversees the scandal-plagued Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), have been strained for some time.

The Cardinal President of Caritas, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, received the new Statutes and Rules and Bertone’s General Decree at a morning meeting with Vatican officials. The governing structures of Caritas Internationalis will come under direct control and supervision of Vatican officials, who will work to ensure that the organisation’s works and programmes are in accord with Catholic moral and social teaching.

The Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, wrote that Caritas “carries out with exemplary professionalism and competence” its charitable works around the world. The organisation’s “public nature” and its “participation in the Holy Father’s munus pastorale (pastoral office) require it at all times, not least in its documents, to express transparently the charity and solicitude of the Church”.

Last year, citing the need to strengthen the organization’s “Catholic identity,” the Vatican took the highly unusual step of blocking Caritas secretary general Lesley-Anne Knight from running for a second four-year term. Apparently at issue was the desire of Knight to distance the organisation from the Holy See, saying the association could hurt fundraising. At the time she was dismissed, Vatican officials who asked to remain anonymous, said that there are serious concerns over the moral drift away from Catholic teaching of several charitable organisations associated with various national bishops’ conferences.

More rumblings were heard in May last year, when the Vatican cancelled a speech sponsored by Caritas by the radical English Dominican priest, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, who has publicly promoted ideas at odds with Church teaching on homosexuality.

In his recent encyclical, Caritas et Veritate, Pope Benedict said that material aid to human development cannot be separated from the demands of truth: “Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value.” In several recent decisions, Pope Benedict is moving to reform other groups with official ties to the Catholic Church who have become, in the eyes of the Vatican, overly secularised.

Caritas, Bertone wrote, “carries out its specific task in the name of the Church,” which means that it must be run according to the moral and social teaching of the Catholic Church.

One major change is that under the new statutes, “in order to underline the close bond between the organization in question and the Successor of Peter as well as the Pope’s particular attention towards it,” requires that at least three members of the Executive Board be direct papal appointments. Moreover, a “Support Commission” is to be established whose role will be to “ensure that it follows the new norms”.

Bertone noted that the impetus for the changes comes directly from Pope Benedict, who “gave precise instructions” on the drafting of the new governing statutes.

The role of the Holy See in Caritas’s structures, is to exercise “vigilance in order that both its humanitarian and charitable action and the content of the documents that it disseminates may be in harmony with the Apostolic See and with the Church’s Magisterium.” To ensure this, “the general competences of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for doctrinal oversight obviously remain in force.”

He notes that the new rules remind Caritas that “significant canonical and Vatican legislation is binding upon those who are employed in entities situated within Vatican City and institutionally linked to the Holy See”.

Robert Cardinal Sarah, the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, that oversees the Church’s charitable works and who will now have oversight of Caritas, said, “The Pontifical Council promotes the identity and ecclesial spirit within the Confederation.”

“In particular, it must ensure that the activities of its members -coordinated internationally - are carried out in collaboration and in communion with the local Churches, including with the involvement of their pastors.”

Cor Unum has “the duty to follow the activities of Caritas to ensure that its activities and the documents it puts out are in full harmony with the Church magisterium.”

Caritas a confederation of 164 of the Catholic Church’s relief aid, economic development and social service organisations, is one of the largest charities in the world, operating in over 200 countries and territories around the world. 24 million people around the world at any given moment, employing a total of one million people, including 600,000 volunteers.

Tags: catholic charities, pope benedict xvi, vatican

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Young Chinese heroine kidnapped for helping Chen flee: advocate

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed May 02 12:54 EST Comments (14)

 
He Peirong

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BEIJING, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - He Peirong is a beautiful, petite Chinese woman friends describe as having a “spine of steel” - one that proved an immense benefit to her friend, human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, whose bid for freedom she spearheaded.

But the young woman’s fate is now dangerously unknown, as she disappeared immediately after the last leg of her effort to get the forced-abortion opponent out of the government’s reach and into the U.S. Embassy last week.

Advocates say she has likely been kidnapped by Chinese officials, who are infamous for their brutal torture methods against those who defy the Communist regime.

Telling from Chen’s own treatment - which involved severe beatings, starvation, and imprisonment in his home for the past 19 months despite being officially charged with no crime - the lack of contact from He Peirong is highly alarming to advocates overseas.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a U.S.-based advocacy group against forced abortions in China with deep connections to Chen’s community, said that Peirong has already suffered beatings and jailing for her efforts several times. But the success of the Embassy escape is likely to especially anger Chinese officials, as Littlejohn says it came about even while the Communisty Party was “clamp[ing] down on him as hard as it could.”

Somehow, Peirong managed to get Chen past 66 guards working in three shifts - 22 guards every eight hours - outside his house.  The village itself was sealed by another set of guards, and Chen, on top of being blind, seriously sick, and injured from beatings, had his phone, computer and television confiscated, cutting him off from the outside world.

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“According to Peirong, Chen spent months on his back, pretending to be near death, so that his guards would relax their vigilance,” Littlejohn said. “Then on April 22, with exquisite timing, he scaled a wall and ran for his life, taking several wrong turns and falling into a river because of his blindness.

“Peirong drove 20 hours to meet Chen and fooled the village guards into letting her in.  She disguised herself as a courier. Then she drove Chen another eight hours - still wet from his fall in the river - to safety in Beijing.

“Their plan was so masterfully executed that the authorities did not realize Chen was gone for four days.”

But as soon as the plan was realized, Littlejohn said the reprisals began: the Communists violently detained Chen’s older brother and nephew, and his wife, children and mother are also considered at risk.

Meanwhile, Littlejohn says as news broke of the escape she contacted Peirong, who said she was worried for her own safety. Hours later, she had vanished.

“At about 5:00 a.m. Dublin time, I skyped Peirong one last time and she did not answer. She had been detained, and no one has heard from her since,” said Littlejohn.

“We don’t know if Peirong is being tortured or whether her detention will last days, months or years.”

Littlejohn urged those concerned for Chen’s fate not to forget his rescuer.

“In pressing for Chen’s freedom, let us also press for the freedom of his rescuer, He Peirong, a hero in her own right,” said Littlejohn.

“She stood up for Chen during his time of greatest need.  The least we can do is stand by her as she pays a terrible price for her courage.”


Click here to contact the U.S. Embassy in China.

Click here to sign a petition to free Chen Guangcheng.

Tags: chen guangcheng, china, forced abortion

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LifeSiteNews’ role in the culture war is ‘irreplaceable’: Novelist Michael O’Brien

by Patrick B. Craine Wed May 02 12:47 EST Comments (3)

 
Michael O'Brien giving his introductory remarks at the LifeSiteNews 15th anniversary gala

HERNDON, Virginia, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Famed Catholic author Michael D. O’Brien told the 175 pro-life leaders and supporters gathered at LifeSiteNews’ 15th anniversary gala on Saturday that the pro-life and pro-family news agency plays an “irreplaceable” role in the ongoing war between good and evil facing our culture.

“It is a commonplace that we are involved in a great war, … a war that will last until the end of time,” O’Brien said in an invocation as the evening opened. The native of Combermere, Ontario, has authored numerous popular Catholic novels, including Father Elijah and Island of the World.

“Our work, based in a deeper and higher and broader understanding of the nature of reality, entails a great deal of sacrifice, always,” he observed. “Many tests will try our faith in God. But at every moment we must keep in mind that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the victor.”

At the same time, though, he said there are still “battles to come … in the final stages of this war” and at this stage “LifeSiteNews’ portion of the war is irreplaceable.”

O’Brien noted that he has been a regular reader of LifeSiteNews for ten years, knows many of the journalists personally, and is a close friend of Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen.

“I am constantly marveling over the particular grace that has been given to [the LifeSiteNews team],” he said.

Generating much laughter O’Brien said, dramatically placing his face down in his hands, “My temperament, being of the melancholic Irish sort … tends to say, ‘Oh, I don’t think I can read everything on LifeSite today’.” His audience understood his gesture very well given the often heavy nature of LifeSiteNews stories.

But, he said, LifeSiteNews’ journalists “have a grace to look at the configuration of the struggle for life, on many levels, the many dimensions of this struggle.”

“LifeSiteNews is able to present the truth on a number of these dimensions, not just the purely political, not just the social, cultural, but many, many aspects,” he continued. “Of what it is to be alive in this age and this time. And they do it with courage. And they do it with something in their hearts that I believe could only be a gift from God.”

“I’m very impressed by the LifeSite team and their dedication to real research—really, really taking extreme pains to get to the truth of things, not for the sake of scandal, but in that spirit that says the truth shall set us free,” he added.

“LifeSite wishes to inform in a way that does not violate the dignity, not only of the most vulnerable in society, but even the dignity of our enemies, those who declare themselves at war with us,” he said. “This is the measure of their greatness, the measure of their commitment to praying before they act. This is the measure of the authenticity of their mission.”

The author ended by asking the leaders and supporters who were gathered to pray for LifeSite as the news agency continues its mission of truth.

“I ask you above all things - of course, of course, of course, we always need to ask for money, that goes without saying - but above all, above all, we are not just about an activist enterprise here,” he said. “Above all is the need for you to be praying for those who bring the truth integrated with love … to the public forum, where people may hear the truth that sets us free, a portion of the truth which is being denied to the mass of human beings in our times.”

“Pray for them. Pray for these people who are on the front lines. This is our greatest need from you. Your prayer and if possible your sacrifice,” he added.

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Video: Dan Savage says the Pope is gay, homosexuals beaten ‘because of religion’

by Ben Johnson Wed May 02 12:11 EST Comments (39)

 

ELMHURST, ILLINOIS, May 2, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the heels of saying the Bible is full of “bulls**t” and berating teenagers who walked out of a talk at a journalism conference for high school students, new video has surfaced of homosexual activist Dan Savage saying Pope Benedict XVI is homosexual and that LGBT children are beaten “because of religion.”

“The Pope recently said that gay marriage is a threat to the survival of the human race, because once gay marriage is legal, everybody’s gonna get married,” he said. “What the Pope is saying is there is no such thing as a straight person.”

“The Pope is projecting in saying nobody’s straight – not the Pope, not anybody else,” Savage told a gathering of 1,300 college students. 

“What the Pope is saying is the only thing that stands between my d**k and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper,” he said.  “I love that thought,” he added.

Savage made his comments Sunday inside Elmhurst College‘s historic Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.

He claimed the beatings of LGBT minors stemmed from the political, moral, and religious views of their parents. Students “watch their parents beat up gay people from afar with their checkbooks and their votes,” he said. “They feel entitled to beat up that gay kid in that school, because the adults in their lives are doing and giving their blessing to it, because of religion.”

He mocked the idea that “once we’re all gay married, we’re gonna go extinct in a generation, because once we’re all married, we’re gonna forget which hole s**ts babies.”

Savage’s remarks are a distortion of Pope Benedict XVI’s statement in January that the nuclear family “is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” 

Students of Hinsdale Central High School gave Savage a check for $300 before the speech.

During the speech Savage also boasted: “University health departments usually bring me in to undo years of abstinence-only education – which I do in two hours.”

The video of his speech is featured on the new website, SavageHate.com, operated by Americans for Truth. The group’s president, Peter LaBarbera, was in attendance.

The new speech comes shortly after the gay sex columnist told students at a high school journalism convention to “ignore the bulls**t in the Bible” and called Christian teenagers who walked out of his talk “pansy-a**ed.”

Dan Savage – whose trendy “It Gets Better Project” campaign has been endorsed by a host of Hollywood celebrities and President Barack Obama – has a long history of hateful, anti-Christian rhetoric that has sometimes included attempts to harm pro-family leaders.

In 2000, Savage wrote of how he volunteered at the Gary Bauer presidential campaign headquarters – licking pens and doorknobs, coughing on computers – in an attempt to infect the candidate with the flu. “I decide that if it’s terrorism Bauer wants, it’s terrorism Bauer is going to get,” he wrote. A court convicted Savage of illegally participating in the Iowa caucuses, saddling him with $750 fine, a year’s probation, and 50 hours of community service. He performed the service in his home state of Washington, saying, “I don’t want to go to jail in Iowa.  That’s redundant.”

Last July, Savage told HBO’s Bill Maher he wished Republicans were “all fu**king dead” and that he would like to “f**k the s**t out of Rick Santorum.”

Savage responded to a Christian whose feelings were hurt by one of Savage’s tirades: “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments. No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: F**k your feelings. ”

Elmhurst College, a 141-year-old private liberal arts college affiliated with the United Church of Christ, became the first college in the nation to ask whether prospective students consider themselves homosexual or transgender.

Tags: dan savage, elmhurst college, hinsdale central high school, peter labarbera

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Ruling forcing Texas to fund Planned Parenthood overturned

by Ben Johnson Wed May 02 11:51 EST Comments (23)

 
Gov. Rick Perry.
Gov. Rick Perry.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, May 2, 2012, LifeSiteNews.com) –  The embattled state of Texas won a legal battle in its fight to defund Planned Parenthood Tuesday, when an appeals court ruled the state could withholds funds from the abortion provider’s affiliates.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith’s ruling overturned an order from U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday, which forced the state to continue financing Planned Parenthood during its pending court case.

Planned Parenthood is suing since Governor Rick Perry began enforcing a law allowing the state’s Women’s Health Program to deny Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates, a law that had been on the books since 2007.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who represented the state, told Judge Smith, “Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies—even if ‘earmarked’ for non-abortion activities – free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions.”

Abbott said the state would end the program before funding an abortion provider or its affiliates.

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“Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have every right to hold that belief and advocate for elective abortion, but they are not entitled to receive taxpayer subsidies from a government program that is designed to encourage preventative birth control and discourage abortion,” the state’s attorneys argued.

Pro-life litigators applauded the ruling.

“Texas very carefully constructed a statutory plan designed to provide women with comprehensive health services, including those that reflect a culture of life,” Stephen Casey, chief counsel of Texas Center for Defense of Life (TCDL), said in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. “Health care for Texas women is improving, and we are defining, in Texas, the importance of fostering a culture of life.”

This state’s decision will deprive Planned Parenthood and its partners of $13 million annually. Last December, the Obama administration retaliated by cutting off federal Medicaid funds, which account for 90 percent of the $40 million program’s budget. Texas has since filed a countersuit.

The new cash crunch has caused numerous Texas clinics to close their doors.

Texas Planned Parenthood offices have fallen on hard times statewide. Abby Johnson, a former manager, filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming her affiliate alone defrauded the Women’s Health Program of $5.7 million.  Karen Reynolds, a decade-long employee of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), filed a separate lawsuit stating she regularly witnessed Planned Parenthood bilk Medicaid by “billing for medical services not rendered, billing for for unwarranted medical services, billing for services not covered by Medicaid, and creating false information in medical records which was material to billing for medical services.” 

In March, Tony Thornton, CEO and president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Lubbock, was arrested for indecent exposure.

Tuesday’s ruling means the state will not have to fund the organization while its case moves forward.

The appeals court judge is no stranger to controversy. Judge Smith, a Reagan appointee, made headlines last month when he asked the Justice Department to clarify President Obama’s remarks that it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to overturn his health care reform law if they find it is unconstitutional.

Tags: greg abbott, texas

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UPDATED: Clinton ‘pleased’ at Chen’s departure, but advocates say Chen still calling for help

by Kathleen Gilbert Wed May 02 11:36 EST Comments (23)

 
US Embassy in Beijing

Updated 3:15pm EST

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BEIJING, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Reports on the true condition of Chen Guangcheng following his departure from the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday continued to conflict as Chinese and U.S. officials say the human rights activist is “very happy” and pleased with the outcome, while international advocates and Chen’s close friends in China say he has only acted under duress and is still calling for help.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement this afternoon that she had spoken with Chen, and that she and her officials were “pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng’s stay and departure from the U.S. Embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values.”

“Mr. Chen has a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment,” said Clinton. “Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task. The United States Government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Mr. Chen and his family in the days, weeks, and years ahead.”

Chen’s lawyer Li Jinsong said the activist told him he was “very happy and wants to hug all his friends,” according to AP.

Yet Zeng Jinyan, a Beijing activist, is backing up reports from other human rights activists that Chen did not leave the Embassy of his own volition, as U.S. and China both report, but had been threatened with harm to his wife and child if he did not comply.

“It’s impossible, he couldn’t do anything. He said, ‘please help me’,” Zeng told the Associated Press. Zeng’s account backs up the report of ChinaAid president Bob Fu, who says he also heard from reliable sources that Chen’s departure was under duress.

Click “like” to join a Facebook page in support of Chen!

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Possibly due to a secret deal between China and the U.S., ailing human rights activist Chen Guangcheng entered a Beijing hospital Wednesday after leaving the U.S. Embassy where he had fled from his brutalized house arrest. One report from a reliable source says Chen has been “abandoned” by the Obama administration whereas the US government insists it is keeping Chen and his family safe.

The human rights activist has reportedly been escorted to a local hospital to treat his ailments, which were caused or exacerbated during his four-year prison term and 19 months of house arrest, and which according to U.S. advocacy groups brought him close to death at least once.

“‘I’m free. I’ve received clear assurances,”’ Chen told his lawyer in a phone call, according to the Associated Press. The Chinese government’s news service, Xinhua, reported that Chen left the Embassy “of his own volition.”

However the U.S. group ChinaAid said it received reports from reliable source that Chen’s departure was under duress, as “serious threat to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government” if he refused to accept their offer.

And although ChinaAid says the U.S. Assistant Secretary called to reassure the group of America’s commitment to keeping Chen and his family safe, the group says it has also received reports from reliable sources that the United States has “abandoned Mr. Chen.”

“We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the reports about Chen’s involuntary departure (from US Embassy) is true,” said Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid, who called upon both countries to reveal the details of the negotiation.

Chen’s escape came at a sensitive time for U.S.-China relations as U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were due for a visit to the Communist country this week, and the Obama administration had declined to state whether it would stand up for the refugee. President Obama had refused to comment Tuesday when asked about helping Chen, a leading advocate for Chinese women against forced abortions under the one-child policy.

Chen will be able to reunite with his wife and family at the hospital, according to one U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity. Chen’s wife and family members had also been subject to severe beatings, starvation, and maltreatment during Chen’s captivity but didn’t escape with him onto American territory,

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is demanding an “apology” from the U.S. for harboring the maltreated human rights activist for six days, according to its news service.

Tags: abortion, china, forced abortion, one-child policy

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Georgia Governor signs ban on assisted suicide

by Patrick B. Craine Wed May 02 10:05 EST Comments (6)

NORCROSS, Georgia, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill banning assisted suicide that will now take effect immediately.

The bill, HB 1114 sponsored by Rep. Ed Setzler (District 35), was passed in response to last February’s decision by the Georgia Supreme Court that struck down the state’s previous law that pro-lifers considered weak and ineffective. It had only prevented advertising assisted suicide services, but did not prohibit the procedure itself.

“Stopping the immoral and barbaric practice of killing in the name of compassion is the right thing to do,” said Dan Becker of Georgia Right to Life. “Governor Deal deserves credit for endorsing this measure.”

“Any society that claims to value life cannot justify taking a life lest we risk establishing a public policy with its attendant expectation of a ‘duty to die,’” Becker said. “The Hippocratic Oath says, ‘I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel ...’”

“We should instead devote our knowledge and resources to helping people in desperate situations,” he added.

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Protests erupt across Ontario against Liberal gvmt ‘anti-bullying’ Bill 13

by Thaddeus Baklinski Wed May 02 08:49 EST Comments (4)

 
Concerned citizens collect signatures against McGuinty's Bill 13 at a gathering of 60,000 Punjabs in Toronto.

KITCHENER, Ontario, May 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Protests against the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial anti-bullying legislation erupted across the province over the weekend as more and more people become aware of the threat it poses to parental rights and religious freedom.

On Saturday, about 60 parents from a variety of faith traditions and ethnicities held a protest rally at the constituency office of MPP John Milloy (Kitchener-Centre), who serves as Dalton McGuinty’s Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Rally organizer Kim Galvao, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ontario (CCPO), said McGuinty’s Bill 13 is a “Trojan Horse piece of legislation which pretends to be about bullying in order to sneak a homosexual agenda into the classroom.”

“This proposed legislation by Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario government will subvert parental rights and freedom of religion. It will cause schools to teach children controversial sex ed theories that violate the religious and moral convictions of many parents about human sexuality,” said Mrs. Galvao.

About 16 people gathered with children for another protest in Toronto on Friday at the riding office of Eric Hoskins (Liberal, St. Paul’s). They gathered to deliver a petition from constituents demanding that Hoskins oppose Bill 13.

Also, during this Sunday’s Khalsa Day Celebration held at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds by Ontario’s Punjabi community—attended by a reported minimum 60,000 people—an announcement was made by religious leaders informing participants about the dangers of Bill 13 to their parental rights, and cultural, religious and ethnic traditions.

The leaders encouraged participants to sign a petition to be delivered to Ontario MPPs which states that the Punjabi citizens of Ontario object to the lack of consultation with them about the legislation, and that they believe the bill “will undermine parental rights and obligations by forcing all cultural, religious and ethnic groups in Ontario to allow their children to explore same sex attraction through schooling - even if this teaching conflicts with our beliefs or customs.”

“Our faith and culture teach us to be tolerant of others and we expect to be respected for our differences also,” the Punjabi petition states. “Bill 13 threatens basic freedoms in Canada & would set many children against their traditional parents.”

An organizer of the Punjabi petition told LifeSiteNews they gathered 500 signatures during the day. “People wanted to get a deep understanding of the Bill before they signed - this is important so that when they go to their MPPs they can discuss the issue without being shot down,” the organizer said.

Although MPP John Milloy was not himself present as they rallied in Kitchener, Mrs. Galvao read a statement that was videotaped and sent to the politician to encourage him to vote against the controversial bill.

“Milloy is said to be a regular, church-going Catholic, therefore the decision to vote against Bill 13 should be easy enough for him, although he has maintained support for this freedom-destroying legislation which is certain to confuse young children,” Mrs. Galvao said.

“I am alarmed to see a sexual agenda imposed on our schools by the Liberal government. ... As a mom I do not want my children taught that there are seven different genders. As a mom, I do no want my young children taught the disputed theory that a person’s gender is not connected to their physical anatomy,” Galvao said to the parents gathered at the rally.

She also encouraged Milloy to support Bill 14, an alternate anti-bullying bill written by former Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer.

“If you wish to vote in favour of genuine anti-bullying legislation, we urge you to support Progressive Conservative Bill 14. That bill, unlike Bill 13, does not have a sexual agenda,” Mrs. Galvao said.

“We hope that this protest will inspire other ordinary parents and Canadians to take action,” Mrs. Galvao told LifeSiteNews. “The biggest mistake we make is that we make excuses that we are too busy, and deceive ourselves and think that “my kids will not be affected” or we take the “Lets wait and see what happens attitude.”

“I want every parent, grandparent and youth to know what Bill 13 is all about. I want every person to educate themselves and take action because this both a moral and political issue.”

“Will you join me and take a stand and speak up?” Mrs. Galvao urged, “because together we are a powerful voice.”

At the Toronto protest outside Hoskins’ office, the politician reportedly stepped out to receive the petitions and was respectful towards the protesters.

“MPP’s know that one person taking time to do something likely represents at least 100 other voters who are also upset but just don’t bother to show up ... however they might show up on election day!” a rally participant told LifeSiteNews. “So in political math - just sixteen adults that showed up here equals potentially 1600 voters!”

LifeSiteNews has learned that many other protests against Bill 13 are planned for numerous constituency offices throughout the province in the near future and that the rallies will be announced as plans are finalized.

To express concerns over Bill 13, contact:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
416-325-1941

Find contact info for your Member of Provincial Parliament.


Video from the rally outside MPP John Milloy’s Kitchener constituency office:

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