Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Abortion giant Marie Stopes threatens leading pro-life pregnancy centre with lawsuit

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, July 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Britain’s most prominent pro-life pregnancy counseling centre, the Good Counsel Network, has been threatened with legal action by the international abortion giant Marie Stopes International. At the same time as abortion facilities across the country are feeling the pressure of a government investigation into their illegal practices, MSI has accused the Good Counsel Network of “intimidating” women going into their abortion facility in London.

The GCN is one of the few organizations in Britain dedicated to providing advice and support for women contemplating abortion or who are suffering psychological trauma following an abortion. The centre is run according to the pro-life precepts of the Catholic Church, but is independent and funded privately by donations of cash, maternity clothes and baby items.

But it is their daily prayer vigil outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility in Whitfield Street, London that continues to infuriate the abortion industry. The group says these “abortuary vigils” give volunteers the opportunity to talk to women who are in crisis pregnancies, but insist that they would not attempt to directly prevent any woman from entering the facility.

Neil Addison, an expert in anti-discrimination law, told LifeSiteNews.com that the Good Counsel Network has received legal notice that Marie Stopes intends to pursue an injunction, under the Protection from Harassment Act and the Data Protection Act, if they do not stop the prayer vigils. Marie Stopes has also threatened to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. Among Marie Stopes’ complaints is that during their prayer vigils the GCN display rosary beads in “baby pink and blue”.

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Addison, head of the Thomas More Legal Centre that defends the increasingly proscribed public expression of Christianity, is representing GCN. He released to LSN a copy of the letter from Kirkland & Ellis International law firm dated July 16th. In his response, Addison says that MSI is itself indulging in a campaign of intimidation using its vastly superior financial resources to rid itself of a group that is becoming increasingly embarrassing to the abortion giant. He called the threat “legally fatuous,”

“Let us be blunt,” Addison wrote. “Marie Stopes International makes a great deal of money by persuading women to kill their unborn babies and makes no money if women decide to keep their babies.” They are “by no stretch of the imagination a neutral and impartial voice” and have a “substantial financial interest in trying to silence” opposition.

“That is very clearly what they are trying to do with regard to the work of the Good Counsel Network.”

In their letter, Marie Stopes complains that “protesters” affiliated with GCN have “shouted ‘Don’t apologise just leave!’ or used similar vocabulary at MSI’s clients, have approached clients with plastic foetus’ asking the client to pray for the foetus, have attempted to intimidate clients by running up to them, have handed out baby pink and blue rosary beads, and have handed out leaflets containing graphic images.”

Marie Stopes also accuses the demonstrators of trying “to ‘cuddle’ the client,” which they say has caused some clients “immense distress”. One client, they said, was injured “whilst being pursued by a protestor”.

The letter complains that “protesters have filmed clients entering and leaving MSI’s centres” and, because clients give their names over the intercom, this constitutes “processing of personal data.”

The abortion organization also observes that leaflets handed out by the demonstrators claim that “abortion can result in breast cancer, disruption of the menstrual cycle and the inability to become pregnant in the future”.

“These claims are wholly unfounded. Likewise, the possible psychological implications of abortion set out in the leaflet are also misleading,” says MSI. The group says it can make a complaint to the ASA that these leaflets are “misleading, unsubstantiated and in some circumstances untrue”.

But Addison says that GCN is ready to defend all their activities and that the information in the leaflets on the effects of abortion is “based on solid scientific study and on the testimony and experience of many women who have had abortions,” effects which MSI “attempts to ignore”.

As MSI lashes out at GCN, the abortion industry in Britain is currently under heavy public pressure after a government probe revealed routine flouting of the rules governing abortion. Violations include performing abortions for sex-selection and providing forged permission forms from doctors who never speak to or examine clients. Britain’s Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, has called the practice of sex-selective abortion, which is being revealed to be rampant at Britain’s abortion facilities, “morally repugnant” and has ordered an investigation by the Quality Care Commission.

On their website, GCN says, “we aim to approach each woman offering her help and support to continue her pregnancy”. Only “one or two” trained volunteers are designated to talk to the women, while “all the others attending remain in constant prayer for the women, their children, the abortuary staff and the other people involved in her decision”.

Addison calls the threat about the Advertising Standards Authority “bizarre,” but the abortion industry has been shown to be in a close partnership with the government advertising regulators. In 2010,  the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) received over 5000 complaints after they approved commercial “post-conception advice services” – in reality abortion businesses – to be advertised on television and radio. The decision of BCAP and CAP was later ratified by the ASA who said the ads would not cause widespread offence, despite the outpouring of public anger.

Officially a charity, MSI is one of the largest and richest abortion industrialists and lobbyists in the world, running abortion, sterilization and artificial contraceptive operations in much of the developing world. It is funded heavily by the UK government. Along with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), MSI is one of the busiest abortion organizations in the UK, conducting thousands of abortions across the country, largely funded by the National Health Service.

The British abortion industry has recently become increasingly agitated by opponents who are garnering public attention with their use of large graphic photographs of aborted children and who are skilled in making the case against abortion in public.

In March, BPAS expressed outrage that a Catholic bishop, Alan Hopes, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, had dared to take a stand against abortion by attending the 40 Days for Life event, that drew huge media attention, in London. A BPAS spokesman said there is “no moral justification” for Bishop Hopes’ presence, because the women coming into their facilities had “already made up their minds”.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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