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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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Protecting marriage isn’t enough – we must oppose gay ‘civil unions’ too

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Philippe Ariño, one of the original initiators of the French “Manif pour tous” rallies against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in November 2012, is suggesting that opposition to the law and its probable developments needs to be coherent and complete if it hopes to be efficient. In a recent and widely-circulated article published on his blog, he writes that the objective must be to put an end to legalized “civil unions” as well.

Ariño, a non-practicing homosexual, left the “Manif pour tous” by March 2013, criticizing the movement’s figurehead, Frigide Barjot, for her stands on “homosexual love” and her insistence that civil unions were not only acceptable, but should benefit from a more favorable legal framework. Barjot herself was to be ousted from the organization for the same reason, but the “Manif pour tous” still takes care not to antagonize and avoids clear-cut condemnation of certain “homosexual rights” so as not to appear radical.

At the “Manif pour tous” summer university this weekend, leader Ludovine de La Rochère underscored the fact that the socialist government would certainly not reverse the same-sex “marriage” law, adding that it would be useless to demand its abrogation as long as Hollande and his government is in power.

"‘Marriage for all’ and [civil unions] form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love."

Not so, argues Ariño. His warning in view of the group’s upcoming rally against “familyphobia,” gender ideology, surrogate motherhood, and artificial procreation for homosexuals on October 5 in Paris pleads for consistency. He gave permission to LifeSite to translate his text and publish its most significant passages.

“Why should we not limit ourselves to demanding the abrogation of the ‘same-sex marriage’ law – the few of us, that is, who are beginning to realize that we should demand it! – and why must we demand what is most necessary: the abrogation of the ‘PACS’?” he writes.

The PACS, or French “civil solidarity pact” is a civil union open to all, including homosexuals. It is slowly replacing normal marriage as it includes less obligations and can be dissolved unilaterally at any time through a bailiff’s letter.

Ariño calls it “totally illogical, unrealistic and useless, when opposing gender ideology, surrogate motherhood and even ‘marriage for all’ to do so without demanding the abrogation of the PACS, even if many will argue that “when asking too much you get nothing at all.”

“I would say on the contrary that it is because we did not make this minimal demand that we will find that everything will be imposed upon us one small step at a time! I’m telling them that it is they who are exaggerating and that they have not taken the full measure of the gravity of the PACS, and the 180° turn it is imposing on the whole world,” he answers.

Opposing civil unions mentally and in private is not enough, says Ariño, and remains a form of “cant”: “They have simply not understood the PACS and its symbolic impact; deep down they have justified it because they have found its ‘excrescence’ – same-sex ‘marriage’ – a ‘great deal worse’. ‘Marriage for all’ and PACS form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love.”

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Ariño goes on to criticize the principle of public recognition of homosexual couples: “Civil union is the first-ever law in the world to have been based on people’s sexual orientation, it is the first homophobic law which reduces men and women to their so-called homosexual identity or practice, the first law to have established homosexuality as a society’s operating model. That is why it is extremely serious, perhaps even more serious than ‘marriage for all’, despite appearances and the invisibility of its ramifications (concerning parentage and marriage). It does no less harm than ‘marriage for all’ as its aim is symbolically identical: recognition/social justification of homosexual as a universal model of love, equal to any other.”

The “Manif pour tous” is often too “lukewarm,” he adds, more intent on defending a political standpoint than fully assuming its opposition to “marriage for all” in a non-partisan manner, and failing to understand the “symbolic and ideological relationship between civil union and ‘marriage for all,’”, or even the link between legalized same-sex “marriage” and surrogate motherhood.  For fear of being taxed with political extremism or homophobia, “these militants refuse visibly to appear as Catholics” and try to find “scapegoats” on their right or on their left. Ariño accuses them of fooling themselves into believing that politicians (like Nicolas Sarkozy) who are in favor of civil union will one day abrogate same-sex “marriage” or even oppose surrogate motherhood.

The figureheads of the “Manif pour tous,” whatever their “courage” and “goodwill,” and their “hopes of changing things gradually, from the inside,” do not understand the “gravity of civil unions,” thus abstaining from clear demands in the name of “realism, patience, political strategy, Hope, humility.” “It is better to make progress little by little than to ask for the impossible, they say – but who apart from them and their gay-friendly opponents is saying something is impossible?”

“Their method of ‘advancing step by step’ is not good in itself; besides, it is precisely the technique of our adversaries, showing that we are imitating them and losing sight of the realities of civil union, ‘marriage for all’ and homosexuality”, writes Ariño, accusing proponents of the method of a “lack of courage” and of “playing into their adversaries’ hands by artificially dissociating marriage from fertility, laws from those laws’ intentions, laws from their consequences.” “The PACS is but a piece of paper, a rubber check signed less than 15 years ago. But the majority of opponents to ‘marriage for all’ tremble like fledglings at the idea of being too radical – while it is precisely their lack of radicalism that doesn’t pay,” he concludes.

Philippe Ariño is a non-practising homosexual. As a Catholic, he advocates chastity, denouncing both homosexualist activism and the modern concept of “heterosexuality,” insofar as sexual union should only take place between a man and a woman in accordance with God’s plan for life-long marriage.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Belgium approves euthanasia for rapist serving life sentence

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Belgium’s Minister of Justice approved a euthanasia request Monday from a convicted rapist serving a life sentence.

The Brussels court of appeal will review the case September 29, but Belgian media report it is expected simply to record the existence of the agreement between the man and the government.

This would not be the first euthanasia of a Belgian prisoner – a terminally ill man who had already spent 27 years in jail was legally killed two years ago – but in the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, the euthanasia request is being linked to the conditions of his imprisonment.

Van Den Bleeken, 50, has spent close to 30 years in prison. He was sentenced to life-long imprisonment for several counts of rape, one of them followed by murder. He has been declared irresponsible for these acts because of psychiatric disorders and does not want to be released from prison, considering himself to be “a danger for society.” Despite having repeatedly asked for psychiatric treatment, none has been forthcoming in the absence of any Belgian institution prepared to take up this sort of patient.

The convicted rapist says his psychological suffering is “intolerable” and it is on these grounds that three doctors decided last May that Van Den Bleeken should be entitled to euthanasia – even though he has also asked for a transfer to a Dutch institution where psychiatrically ill criminals receive adequate treatment and care.

He presented both demands to the minister of Justice via an emergency procedure. The Brussels appeal court decided that the minister, Maggie De Block, was not competent to order a transfer to the Netherlands but that she could decide to grant his request for euthanasia. The decision is being called a purely “medical” one by the minister who told the press that she confined herself to following the doctors’ opinion.

A previous euthanasia request made by Van Den Bleeken three years ago was rejected on the grounds that all had not been done to ensure that he would suffer less and that other options than death were available.

Now, even though it is clear that the prisoner would find more humane conditions of detention in nearby Holland, that he is conscious of the gravity of the acts he commits under the pressure of his mental illness, and that he is in need of medical care, the decision to make him die reads as a further trivialization of euthanasia in a country where an ever-increasing amount of psychological motives are being accepted to justify “mercy-killing.”

As in all the states of the European Union, the death penalty does not exist; it was abolished in Belgium in 1996. Rapists and murderers can find themselves sentenced to life-long sentences with no hope at all of ever being freed, a perspective which some find worse than death.

Since Van Den Bleeken’s story received media coverage, including a televised interview at the end of 2013, fifteen other prisoners have contacted the “UL-Team,” an information center for end-of-life questions, euthanasia expert Wim Distelmans told the media this Tuesday. He said those numbers are expected to rise. Distelmans is known for his support and active participation in cases of euthanasia for psychological reasons.

No date has been fixed for Van Den Bleeken’s death but his family has indicated that a doctor willing to perform the act has been found. Once the appeals court has given its ruling the prisoner will be allowed to leave the Turnhout prison where he is interned at present, and will be transferred to an unnamed hospital where he will be able to say goodbye to his family before receiving a lethal injection.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH http://portman.senate.gov
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First GOP senator to back marriage redefinition may run for president in 2016

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By Ben Johnson

The first Republican U.S. senator to support same-sex “marriage” is considering running for president in 2016 – if he is re-elected this year.

Sen. Rob Portman, the junior senator from Ohio, told reporters he would decide about campaigning for the GOP presidential nod during a recent visit to New Hampshire, home of the first in the nation primary.

“I’m focused, as you can tell, on 2014 and on doing my job as a senator,” he said, according to The Daily Caller. “After the election, I'll take a look at it.”

Portman became the first Republican senator to support same-sex “marriage” last March, citing a two-year “evolution” that took place after he learned his son, Will, is homosexual. He announced his change of heart shortly after he “held a dozen meetings with big New York donors” who did not believe the GOP sufficiently championed the cause of redefining marriage, in his capacity as vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to Politico.

That provoked a backlash from pro-family leaders in the state, who warned Portman's move – which is at odds with the Republican Party platform – would splinter the Republican Party.”

That splintering could be seen on the pages of Ohio newspapers this month.

Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right to Life, wrote a column entitled, “Why Conservatives Are Dumping Portman.” She recounted asking then-Congressman Rob Portman if he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the 1990s.

“I thought he'd give me a quick yes and that I'd be on my way in search of air conditioning. But Portman would not answer my question. I pressed him, and again he deflected,” she wrote. “On my third (more emphatic) try, he got angry with me. He clearly did not want to take a position on DOMA. At the time, his son would have been in preschool.”

“Whatever his reason, Portman's flip-flop puts his presidential ambition at a disadvantage,” Viars wrote.

That garnered a ripping riposte from Mike Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life, which was published as a letter to the editor. He accused Viars of “recklessly question[ing] Sen. Rob Portman's commitment to the pro-life cause.” Portman has a zero percent vote rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and, while representing his conservative southwestern Ohio district voted against taxpayer funding for abortion at home and overseas, in favor of the partial birth abortion ban and protecting babies who are born alive during botched abortions, and against human cloning.

Still, Viars is not alone in distancing herself from the senator. Ohio's social conservative group, Citizens for Community Values, now lists Portman as an "unacceptable candidate."

In August 2013, Cleveland Right to Life criticized Rob Portman's stance. National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) President Carol Tobias sent a letter to CRTL, saying it had chosen to “disaffiliate” itself with NRLC because it had “issued public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position on every vote that has come before the Senate, and who is a sponsor of major NRLC-backed bills – because the chapter disagrees with his position on a non-right-to-life issue.”

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Aside from his stint in the U.S. Senate, the 58-year-old served 12 years in the House of Representatives and acted as U.S. Trade Representative and Director of Management and Budget under the George W. Bush administration, holding each office for one year, respectively. He largely favored free trade and voted for the 2002 authorization for the use of force against Iraq.

He has prepared presidential and vice presidential candidates for debates and has twice been considered for the vice presidential nomination, in 2008 and 2012.

Polls show Portman a virtual lock for re-election to the Senate. But the largely unknown, not especially charismatic senator does not register in polls for the presidential nomination of a party that is still committed to the traditional concept of marriage and family. 

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