Kristen Hatten

Atheists, agnostics, pagans, and more: do they have a place in the pro-life movement?

Kristen Hatten
By Kristen Hatten
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August 13, 2013 (LiveActionNews) - Lately I’ve been noticing a new pro-life trend. Quite active on Facebook are groups and individuals who condemn any attempt to convert an abortion advocate without taking a religious approach.

What I can glean of their message from social media and blog posts is that unless you lead with Jesus, you are denying His power to change that person’s mind. In other words, taking any approach other than “here’s what the Bible has to say about abortion” is irreligious folly.

I have several issues with this, but let’s start with my own personal experience.

I’ve shared my conversion story with Live Action readers and in The American Feminist, the magazine of Feminists for Life of America, so I won’t rehash it again. But allow me to reiterate that had my lovely friend, with whom I chose to debate abortion one fateful night, used religion as a basis for her argument, I not only would not have been convinced, I would have dismissed her entire thesis outright and probably ended the conversation.

Would I have been, frankly, an idiot for doing so? That is debatable. (By which I mean: yeah, kind of.) But I would also not have become, that very night, a pro-life advocate.

I was converted on the basis of human rights, science, and reason. Was God behind it? In my opinion, yes, He was. He is always behind Truth. I believe God created human rights, science, and reason. So using these to argue is not terribly different from mentioning Him by name.

Because my friend was, to get Biblical, “wise as serpents,” I became pro-life that night. A year later, I was no longer an agnostic but a Catholic. Coincidence? I guess. If you believe in that sort of thing.

I spent the first few months of my uncomfortable pro-lifeness (after initially trying desperately to become pro-choice again, and failing) splashing around in the shallow but welcoming online pool of the non-religious pro-life. There were pro-life pagans, agnostics, atheists, humanists, homosexuals, and so on. They, like I, had found the argument for the sanctity of unborn human life compelling enough without believing in a Christian God.

For me, this new belief in the unborn led me directly – eventually – to that same Christian God. I doubt I am the only one for whom this has been the case. It has given me an even deeper love for the fetal among us: they saved my soul.

So not only does a Bible-first approach to explaining the evil of abortion not work on everyone, it outright excludes a small but important faction of the pro-life community, whom I believe we should welcome.

Craig Gross, pastor of XXXchurch, devotes his ministry to helping porn stars leave the sex industry. In explaining his controversial personal friendship with porno legend Ron Jeremy, he explained to “Nightline:” “To me, the message of Jesus unites and doesn’t divide. You know what we’re all against, but you never know what we’re all for. Like, to me, I’m for Ron.”

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There might be a very profound message in that simple statement.

If I care deeply about the soul of a pro-life pagan – and I do! – is it for me to tell her she has no place in our movement? Will that endear her to my religion? Will it go any way at all towards bringing her to understand the love of Christ?

No, of course not.

My goal as a Christian should be to bring Christ to everyone I meet. How best should I do that? By yelling Bible verses through a megaphone? By handing out pamphlets? By excluding them from the Godly work of protecting Life?

I recall encountering, for the first time, the priest who would become my first pastor. I attended a tragic funeral for a young man at his parish. It was the second time in my life I had been in a Catholic church, and this happened one month after I became pro-life. (Again, “coincidence.”) Normally quite hostile to Christianity, I felt peace and – indeed – holiness in the sanctuary. I also felt what I would later come to know as the Holy Spirit emanating from Monsignor Donald Fischer. I would feel it every time I was in his presence. I would feel it in that same sanctuary when he confirmed me a Catholic, one year later.

All this – all this Godliness – because my friend didn’t mention God.

God has His ways. I believe they have been called “mysterious.” Perhaps we should be humble enough to accept they don’t always involve us being loudly right at everyone’s face. Are you right to say God is the number one reason to oppose abortion? In my opinion, yes. But being right is not always how you win an advocate for Life – or a soul for Jesus.

It is a difficult thing to humbly submit to the will of God when nothing makes sense. Maybe pro-life paganism or agnosticism or atheism or homosexuality don’t make sense to you. Maybe they are an affront to you. But just like Craig Gross and his friend Ron Jeremy are both “for Ron,” aren’t we all working towards the same goal? Don’t we all want to protect life in the womb? Does God frown on you when you embrace a pro-life atheist or does He say, in the immortal words of Dire Straits, “That’s the way you do it”?

I’m thinking it’s (something like) the latter, and I personally welcome – and rejoice in – all the pro-lifers. We may disagree about graphic signs, the death penalty, politics, and more, but any friend of the unborn deserves a seat at our table.

Kristen is Vice President of New Wave Feminists. She tweets as @walkertxkristen and can be found on Facebook if you know where to look.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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