Hilary White

All charges dropped against UK pro-life group using graphic images

Hilary White
Hilary White
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BRIGHTON, September 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – All charges were dropped today against pro-life campaigners in Brighton who were charged with a “public order” offence for showing graphic images of aborted children outside a local branch of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of Britain’s busiest abortion facilities.

Andrew Stephenson, head of the pro-life campaign group Abort 67, told LifeSiteNews.com today that they hope the Brighton Magistrate court’s decision means that their growing pro-life campaign, which is spreading all over England, will now be able to function without the constant fear of police harassment participants have faced up until now.

“We’ve said all along that the police are creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression in this country. So now we hope that this court decision will have a chilling effect on the police.”

Although more and more groups are springing up around Britain who want to use the highly effective posters and banners in their pro-life work, the actions of police in June 2011, when Stephenson and his colleague Kathryn Sloane were arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act, created an atmosphere of unease.

“The trouble is that up until now it’s been unpredictable whether we would be able to carry on with our displays or not. Certainly the fact that those banners could be taken down and people arrested was preventing people’s access to information,” said Stephenson.

“But common sense prevailed today. We had a very strong case so it was very difficult for the judge to do anything but throw the case out.”

The case has generated much public interest. When the charges against Kathryn Sloane were thrown out on Friday, the story was the lead on the BBC Southeast’s evening television news broadcast, and today’s decision again topped the program. Despite the BBC’s demonstrated pro-abortion bias, the broadcaster emphasized the importance of the case as a freedom of speech test case in the midst of a tense political atmosphere where more and more Christians are complaining their views are being suppressed.

Stephenson said, “There is a sense of outrage that the police believe they have the power to shut down a message that’s true if someone else doesn’t like it. It’s as if they feel that if Person A dislikes Person B, or anything they’re saying, then Person A just has to complain to the police and it’s job done.” The case, he said, has illuminated “what’s been going on right under our noses.”

Perhaps paradoxically, the pro-lifers say the arrest and court proceedings have actually highlighted the need for demonstrations that show the graphic truth about the nature of abortion. Stephenson told LSN that the use of the photos, controversial even within the pro-life movement, can now be shown using court documents to be an effective vehicle for public education and the photos themselves unassailably true.

What the prosecution was trying to prove, he said, “was something unprovable, that a photo of an aborted baby can be ‘abusive or insulting’. But a true photograph can’t be abusive.”

He cited the testimony of one of the witnesses for the prosecution, Robert Wyatt, who said that when he and his wife had gone into the BPAS facility, they had been offered no counselling, despite the claims made by the organisation. Wyatt testified that he found the images on the posters “offensive,” but more crucially, he had no idea what the images were of.

While BPAS continues to claim that they offer full information on fetal development and all medical aspects of abortion, Wyatt confirmed that he had been offered no counselling of any kind, and that he thought the pro-lifers’ photos were of much older children. The images in the photos clearly show arms, legs and facial features, even though the posters typically carry only photos of early term abortions, usually before 12 weeks gestation.

“He thought there can’t be facial features; that this had to be a much older baby,” Stephenson said. “Then he was cross-examined, and asked did you receive any counselling? Because if he had, he was being led to believe that an 11-week-old baby was actually a six-month-old baby.

“But it turned out they received no counseling at all from BPAS, pre-abortion. They just didn’t have those questions answered.”

The exchange, Stephenson said, “certainly justified our reason for being there, exposing a huge misunderstanding about pregnancy, and about how much the abortion industry is covering up the facts.”

Throughout the western world, these graphic images displays, popularized by the highly organised Genocide Awareness Campaign, (GAP) are stirring controversy. In many pro-life circles, they are regarded as harsh and frightening, and therefore counterproductive. But the people who use them say that they have seen nearly miraculous results from showing the truth of abortion in a way that no one can deny.

“People say we are misleading and are wrong. They argue that for women abortion is the last resort and they have thought long and hard about it. But the truth is that they don’t have any real information,” said Stephenson.

“This means they’re vulnerable to the lies of the abortion industry. In a way, our work is simply about consumer protection. About giving women full disclosure about abortion so they can make a truly informed decision.”

Stephenson and the many young GAP enthusiasts say that the pictures belong right where abortion-minded women can see them.

“We believe that outside an abortion clinic is exactly the right place to be doing this. We are there because this is where the killing is going on. We’re there to empower the women with the facts. To help them come to a better decision.”

“We feel vindicated and pleased that justice is being done. But this is a bit of cold comfort to the unborn babies being killed all the time when we’ve been prevented from showing the pictures.”

LifeSiteNews.com also spoke with Gregg Cunningham, an American who flew to Britain to testify on behalf of Abort 67. Cunningham developed the GAP campaign in the late 1990s and since then it has spread throughout the US, Canada and now to Britain and Ireland. In the course of this work, Cunningham has faced opposition of all imaginable kinds.

He told LSN that this case in Britain is a landmark for the pro-life movement.

“I helped design the defence for Abort 67 because the US has been litigating these kinds of cases for decades. And even though this was just a magistrate’s court, it sends a powerful message to the police all over England. If our people are arrested we will simply show them the proof.”

Referring to another lawsuit being threatened by another abortion industry giant, Marie Stopes International, against a crisis pregnancy centre for handing out information on abortion, Cunningham said that he hopes the outcome of this court case will give them pause. 

“I certainly hope that the crisis pregnancy centres will fight back and I will say we will be glad to help them defend that lawsuit.”

He compared the abortion industry’s tactics to that of the tobacco industry when they were confronted with studies showing cigarettes cause lung cancer. In the end, the litigation forced the tobacco industry to release their documents showing they were covering up information.

“The parallels are very strong. We’ve got the abortion industry attacking the validity and the methodology of studies showing the link to breast cancer and abortion. It’s always a big part of the strategy of these big industries.

In the course of developing Abort 67’s defence, Cunningham found that the National Health Service formally requires that patients be given full information on the risks of medical procedures, even if the patient does not want to hear.

“They say that it’s unethical to not impose that information over the patient’s objection. That it is a requirement of informed consent.” But the abortion the industry is attempting to suppress and withhold this vital health information, he said.

“It’s the same tactic of every powerful industry. They attempt to stifle dissent, crush the opposition, and end the debate about the welfare of women.

“It’s abusive and manipulative. We want to empower women. These crisis pregnancy centres and pro-life organisations are about empowerment of women with true information.”


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Émile Bayard's classic illustration of Cosette in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony

Tracts and sermons alone won’t form pro-life children. Here’s what will.

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions.  That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it's wrong to steal someone's car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.  Where is the great moral insight?  What's remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women's Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever.

How have we come to this pass?  Our imaginations are stunted or diseased, that's how.
 Let churchgoers beware.  You cannot spread pro-life icing on a cake made of flour and rat poison.  Our children meet with rat poison everywhere.  Do they watch Friends on television, that un-funny amoral “comedy” about nihilist young urbanites trading depressions in the mattress with one another?  Rat poison.  Do they watch movies like – well, the moronic Titanic, wherein a shrewish girl and a pouty boy fornicate before they are swallowed by the deep blue sea?  Rat poison.  Do their school teachers feed them such exalted lyric poetry as that of Sylvia Plath, imagining what it would be like to smash her sleeping husband's head like a rotten pumpkin?  Or the bogus Laramie Project, making a hero out of a deeply disturbed young man, killed in a meth deal?  Or Toni Morrison's maudlin obsessions with race and adultery?  Is it an endless cafeteria of ghouls, vampires, girl-murderers – Lord of the Flies, without the severe moral imagination and the talent of William Golding?  Lord of the Flies, Lady of the Flies, Cheerleaders of the Flies, Lifeguard of the Flies, Mr. Goodbar of the Flies, Fight Club of the Flies, Hunger of the Flies?  Rat poison, with that peculiar character of rat poison, that the more the critter consumes, the thirstier it grows.  Vice is the addiction that mimics the habit of virtue.  One hour a week on Sunday does not flush out the strychnine.  Theology lessons are band-aids when your arteries are porous inside.  The forming of a moral imagination is not something additional in the education of a child.  It is the education of a child. 

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Your child sees a commercial for Planned Predators.  The commercial baldly states that it doesn't matter who your “partners” are, how many you have, or what you do – because you are the only one who has any say in the matter, and nobody has the right to judge you.  This is not the morality of a cad or a tramp.  Cads and tramps have attacks of conscience.  It is the bland oh-so-self-assured anti-morality of a demon.  It is one hundred proof grain stupidity.  It is distilled evil.  Now, we want to raise children who will do more than say, “I don't agree with that.”  Wonderful enlightenment!  We want to raise children who would look upon anyone who uttered such a thing as they would look upon someone who would fish his food out of a septic tank: incomprehensible, base, inhuman, insane.  That's the negative.  Let me give the positive.  We want to raise children who will understand and cherish the virtues of love and purity.  Those virtues must not remain mere terms or notions.  We must clothe them with flesh and blood.  Consider the following scene from Victor Hugo's masterpiece, Les Miserables.  Two pure young people, Marius and Cosette, have long beheld one another from a distance.  They have fallen in love, and finally, after many months and much seeking, the youth and the maiden meet and speak.  Here is how Hugo describes what they do every evening:

Throughout the month of May . . . in that poor, wild garden, under that shrubbery each day more perfumed and dense, two human beings composed of every chastity and every innocence, overflowing with all the felicities of Heaven, closer to archangels than men, pure, honest, intoxicated, radiant, glowed for each other in the darkness.  It seemed to Cosette that Marius had a crown, and to Marius that Cosette had a halo.  They touched, they gazed at each other, they clasped hands, they pressed close together; but there was a distance they did not pass.  Not that they respected it; they were ignorant of it.  Marius felt a barrier, Cosette's purity, and Cosette had a support, Marius' loyalty.  The first kiss was also the last.  Since then, Marius had not gone beyond touching Cosette's hand, or her scarf, or her curls, with his lips.  Cosette was to him a perfume, and not a woman.  He breathed her.  She refused nothing and he asked nothing.  Cosette was happy, and Marius was satisfied.  They were living in that ravishing condition that might be called the dazzling of one soul by another.  It was that ineffable first embrace of two virginities within the ideal.

Victor Hugo was a man well acquainted with the squalor of the streets, and the wicked things that people do to themselves and one another.  His blood ran hot, not cold – hot with indignation against the wickedness, and hot with greathearted love for what is noblest in man; with what he would call the work of God in man.  Our purveyors of rat poison have not witnessed one hundredth of the miseries and the sins that he witnessed!  But they turn our children's vision to what is dark and dead, and he raises our eyes to the everlasting hills, whence cometh our help.
 We want to raise boys like Marius and girls like Cosette.  We cannot do it with tracts in church teaching and a sermon on Sunday, as needful as those things are.  They may give us the moral, but they do not nourish the imagination.  Without story, without flesh and blood, they flare in the ear but do not ring in the conscience.  Hence the need for art and song, for stories and poetry.  Jesus taught in parables.  These are not just instruments.  They are of the essence.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Medical staff arrested in India after accidentally aborting baby at 8 months

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

A doctor and a nurse at a prominent private hospital in India have been arrested after they allegedly administered abortion drugs to a eight-months pregnant woman accidentally, resulting in the death of her unborn child.

"We have immediately registered a case and arrested the doctor, whose negligent act has caused this," said South Jammu Superintendent of Police Rahul Malik, according to the Hindustan Times.

The woman's husband, Rakesh Sharma, told the paper that the doctor mistook Shruti Sharma for another patient who was scheduled for an abortion at the JK Medicity Hospital in Jammu on Friday afternoon.

Shruti had gone to the hospital after her gynecologist advised a routine medical examination to safeguard her and her baby's health.

Rakesh alleged that the doctor gave his wife the abortion pills without consulting her medical records. “Doctors and paramedical staff instead of administering glucose, gave her abortion medicine, which was actually meant for another patient,” he said.

"It is the worst case of negligence. I feel strongly that such hospitals should be closed. If this has happened to me today, tomorrow it can happen to any body else," Rakesh said.

While the JK Medicity's administration said it has launched an inquiry into the incident, a report from the Jagran Post stated that the district government has revoked the hospital's license.

"Jammu and Kashmir Government has ordered sealing of the private clinic after suspension of its license to operate in the wake of the incident," said Minister for Health and Medical Education Taj Mohiuddin according to the report.

National media have reported that the incident has brought illegal abortion practices in India to the attention of both the public and government officials.

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According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, abortion is legal in India up to 20 weeks. However, the opinion of a second doctor is required if the pregnancy is past its 12th week, and abortion-inducing drugs such as mifepristone and misoprostol are allowed only by prescription up until the seventh week of pregnancy.

Moreover, abortions can be performed only in government licensed medical institutions by registered abortionists.

Indian Express reported that the accused in the incident, Dr Amarjeet Singh, practices ayurvedic medicine (traditional Hindu medicine) and is "unsuitable for carrying out abortions."

A video posted by IndiaTV shows the parents surrounded by family members and relatives at a protest outside the JK Medicity hospital where the group is demanding punishment for those involved in the death of the child.


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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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News editor fired for criticizing ‘gay Bible’, files complaint

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By Kirsten Anderson

The former editor-in-chief of Iowa’s Newton Daily News has filed a religious discrimination complaint after he was fired over a post on his private blog criticizing the pro-gay Queen James Bible.

The Bible revision was produced by homosexual activists who claim to have edited the eight most commonly cited verses against homosexual behavior “in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”

On his private blog, which has since been deactivated, Bob Eschliman wrote in April that “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo” are trying to reword the Bible “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”

After public outcry from homosexual activists, Shaw Media, which owns the paper, fired him on May 6.

In a statement the day of his firing, Shaw Media President John Rung said Eschliman’s “airing of [his opinion] compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”

“There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly cite Mr. Eschliman’s First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as editor of the Newton Daily News,” Rung said.  “As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.”

Rung said the company has a duty “to advocate for the communities we serve” and that “to be effective advocates, we must be able to represent the entire community fairly.”

Eschliman, who has been writing professionally since 1998 and became editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News in 2012, says that the company was aware of his personal blog when he was hired and never indicated it would be a problem for him to continue sharing his personal political and religious views.

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In his religious discrimination complaint against the company, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he says that he believes he was singled out for termination because of his Christian views concerning homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.”

“As a lifelong writer, I have maintained a personal blog on the Internet with some personal thoughts and writings,” Eschliman wrote. “Newton Daily News, my employer, never had a policy prohibiting personal blogging, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media. In fact, my employer encouraged us to engage in social media on a personal level and I am aware of several employees of Newton Daily News who continue to blog and are still employed with Shaw Media.”

“There is no question that I was fired for holding and talking about my sincerely held religious beliefs on my personal blog during my off-duty time from the comfort of my own home,” Eschliman wrote. “Shaw Media directly discriminated against me because of my religious beliefs and my identity as an evangelical Christian who believes in Holy Scripture and the Biblical view of marriage.

“Moreover, Shaw Media announced that not only were they firing me based upon my religious beliefs, but that they would not hire or allow anyone to work at Shaw Media who holds religious beliefs similar to mine, which would include an automatic denial of any accommodation of those who share my sincerely held religious beliefs,” he added.

Neither Shaw Media nor the Newton Daily News have been willing to provide further comment to the press on the matter, citing pending litigation.

Matthew Whitaker, an attorney with Liberty Institute who is assisting Eschliman with his complaint, said the law is on his client’s side.

“No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs,” Whitaker said in a statement. “In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public.  This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today’s welcoming workforce.”

According to Whitaker, if the EEOC rules in Eschliman’s favor, Shaw Media could be forced to give him back pay, front pay, and a monetary settlement.


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