John Westen

Baby Joseph: The story behind the story

John Westen
John Westen
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As we reported on Monday, it looks like Baby Joseph will finally be able to go home!

Earlier this week little Joseph finally received the tracheotomy that his parents have been requesting for so long. And now the U.S. hospital where he was recently flown, thanks to Priests for Life, says that after spending some time in a special pediatric hospital, Joseph will be able to go home with his parents!

I want to tell you the amazing story of how this all this came about, some of which you probably haven’t read anywhere else.

It’s incredible to think that just one month ago things looked hopeless. Baby Joseph was scheduled to die sometime soon after February 21st at 10 a.m. when his doctors at the Canadian hospital where he was being kept decided to remove his ventilator against his parents’ wishes.

“Monday at 10 am they will kill my baby,” Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, told LifeSiteNews in heartbreaking comments on the Friday before that fateful Monday.  “There’s no more humanity.  There’s no more chance.  I’ve tried everything for him.  No more appeals, nothing.”

But everything changed completely when an international firestorm erupted after LifeSiteNews (LSN) ran a wildly popular piece on February 17th, announcing the court ruling upholding the doctors’ decision. 

Immediately following that article, individuals and families all across Canada and then the United States leapt into hyper-drive, launching an all-out effort to avert Baby Joseph’s death.

The article, because we included in the headline Alex Schadenberg’s ‘death panels’ comment to us, also caught the attention of Fox News in the States, which immediately took up the story as an on-going top feature item, spreading it far and wide.

Most pro-life leaders first learned of Baby Joseph’s plight through LifeSiteNews.

A person who proved most instrumental from the very beginning was Alex Schadenberg of the Canadian and International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Alex quickly got in touch with the family and hired and paid for top lawyer Mark Handelman. It was thanks only to Handelman’s last-minute intervention that the hospital stepped back from their decision, and Joseph’s life was saved allowing further actions to be undertaken to complete the rescue. Schadenberg was finalizing a promising follow up plan when Priests for Life also came up with their response of flying Joseph to a US hospital that thankfully did the desperately needed tracheotomy.

Schadenberg himself explicitly credits LifeSiteNews.com with giving the story the legs it needed to draw massive international attention. Without LSN’s reporting, “the baby Joseph story would not have gone anywhere,” he said.

The anti-euthanasia leader says that our Feb. 17 article “launched the world-wide concern for baby Joseph.” After that, he says, “LifeSiteNews continued to publish daily articles that were accurate and they led the world-wide media in covering the baby Joseph story.”

Indeed, perhaps none of our recent stories illustrates better just what kind of impact LSN can have - literally saving lives - by simply by publishing the truth.

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At no point did LSN directly intervene in the case; we’re a news service, not an activist organization. The people who did the real hands-on work were Joseph’s family and the awesome groups such as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Priests for Life, the Christian Defense Coalition and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

In the end it was Fr. Frank Pavone who arranged for the flight of Baby Joseph and his care at the U.S. hospital.

But most importantly it was you, the pro-life faithful who prayed, wrote, called, and clamoured about Baby Joseph- it was you that created the overwhelming pressure on the powers that be to get things done.

All we did was publish the facts that no one else was willing to publish. But it was those facts that made all the difference.

The family trusted LSN to help them, and we did what we knew to be the right and good thing to do.

Only at LSN did readers find the original interview with expert and pioneer neonatologist Dr. Paul Byrne, a champion for families fighting for appropriate care, who insisted that Joseph should have had the tracheotomy all along. Dr. Byrne pointed out that in 40 years of neonatology he has “never seen a time to turn off a ventilator.”

“If a baby has a disease process that’s so bad that they’re going to die, then they die on the ventilator anyway,” he said.

The last month has been a complete whirlwind, but at last Baby Joseph is safe in the care of a hospital that is willing to respect the wishes of his parents.

Even though Joseph’s long-term prognosis is poor, this is a major victory. Joseph’s family finally has the peace of knowing that he can die at home, in their arms and surrounded by their loving care.

Indeed, this case has put in place a crucial precedent, one that will give Canadian and U.S. hospitals alike a strong new reason for pause before they take key life and death decisions into their own hands, ignoring the wishes of family members.

At LSN it is our duty to spread the word as quickly as possible to motivate our readers to take a stand when life is threatened, particularly the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable. Experience has shown that difficult or desperate situations can undergo dramatic change, simply because the facts have been made public.

LifeSiteNews.com truly is the information arm of the pro-life and pro-family movements. We know that leaders in these movements, because they so often tell us, absolutely rely on us for the information that we unearth and report every day.

If the Baby Joseph story has shown anything, it’s that promoting the culture of life is a team effort. And you, our supporters, are absolutely necessary members of that team.

We need your support in order to continue to be the leading source of international pro-life and pro-family news! Please make a donation to our spring campaign today!

Thank you, and God bless.

Sincerely,
John-Henry Westen

P.S. We are extremely grateful for the work that Alex Schadenberg, Fr. Pavone, and other supportive organizations and individuals accomplished throughout this struggle for the rights of Baby Joseph and his parents, and for other families who find themselves in similar situations. And we also thank for you, our readers, who through your response and support have also played a major role in this success.

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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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