Dustin Siggins

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Catholic Congressional candidate in Virginia pushing for over-the-counter birth control

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic Republican woman who hopes to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives has led a group of 13 state delegates in asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make birth control available over the counter to women 18 and older.

Barbara Comstock is a three-term Republican delegate in Virginia. In January, she joined a crowded Republican field running for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf.

Comstock is a long-time GOP insider, with experience in the George W. Bush administration and both of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns. Her campaign has the backing of the state party chairman, more than a dozen of Wolf's former staffers, and talk show host Mark Levin. She enjoys deep ties to influential national Republicans and has the support of numerous influential Catholics, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. 

That support raises the question of why Comstock is asking the Obama administration to further promote the availability of birth control, which poses health dangers to women and potentially act as abortifacients.

On her delegate campaign website, Comstock states she “spearheaded a request and letter from House of Delegates members to" Sebelius in order “to make birth control pills available over the counter without a prescription for adult women.”

Comstock wrote that “allowing over the counter sales of oral contraceptives for adult women would enhance women’s access, put decisions in their hands, modernize the health care system, and lower birth control costs.” Such a change, she wrote, would be “a bipartisan solution that could bring people together and help in ending birth control politics.”

The letter urged Secretary Sebelius to institute the recommendations of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for birth control medication. The letter, signed by 12 fellow delegates, won plaudits from a columnist at a regional newspaper in Virginia last month.

Comstock campaigned on the position as well, something that earned her the praise of conservative columnist Mona Charen in National Review, who said, “it's hard to paint her as someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant when she advocates making birth-control pills easier to obtain.”

“She is not a sell-out, a squish, or a RINO," Charen wrote. "She’s something all Republicans should aspire to be — a winner.”

But medical experts and pro-life observers say that making contraception more readily available endangers the lives of women and unborn babies.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, told LifeSiteNews that “making these drugs over-the-counter would only increase women's risk of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and lethal infections."

“The pill is responsible for a significant percentage of pre-menopausal breast cancer, [and] women have the right to know that oral contraceptives are Group 1 carcinogens for breast, cervical, and liver cancer," Dr. Lanfranchi said. "Group 1 is the same group that lists cigarettes causing lung cancer, and asbestos, causing mesothelioma.”

"This is why doctors should be involved in any decision about contraception, and would eliminate doctors screening for things like clotting disorders or other medical problems that put women at very high risk for lethal outcomes from the pill," she said.

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The oral contraceptive pill may also induce an early abortion by preventing a newly conceived baby from implanting in a woman's uterus. American Life League Vice President Jim Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that “the birth control pill, the morning-after pill, and Plan B all have the same chemical make-up. They all work by preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization, and preventing implantation.”

“Not requiring prescriptions will result in more women taking the pill, and more women will die, and more human beings will die in the womb as a result,” he said.

The Comstock campaign repeatedly refused to answer LifeSiteNews' questions about the pill's potential health risks to women and its ability to induce abortion.

The campaign did answer questions raised by critics about why Comstock, who was described to LifeSiteNews by a GOP operative in Virginia as “a very hard-working establishment conservative,” opposed a pro-life amendment to Virginia's Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange – a vote that gave her a 100 percent voting record from NARAL in 2013.

The amendment was proposed by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion under ObamaCare. The amendment contained exceptions for the life of the mother and pregnancy after being raped. NARAL described it as an “extreme amendment” that “prohibits Virginians from purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan that includes abortion coverage.”

The amendment passed the House 55-37, with Comstock's vote in opposition. Fellow pro-life advocate Bob Marshall voted “present,” making clear his opposition to the exceptions in the amendment.

Campaign manager Susan Falconer defended Comstock in an e-mail, telling LifeSiteNews that Comstock has earned ire from pro-abortion groups and support from pro-life organizations and individuals. Falconer specifically defended Comstock's vote from what she called “false attacks” on Comstock's pro-life credentials “being promoted by some fellow Republicans” over the ACA vote.

The vote was the only one NARAL ranked in 2013, which is why Comstock received a 100 percent ranking from the same organization that in 2009 called her “a zealous pro-life politician who won’t hesitate to enact laws restricting a woman’s right to choose if given the opportunity.” At the time, Comstock was in her first race for delegate.

Comstock received a total score of 20 percent from NARAL for the 2012/2013 legislative session, including a “0” in 2012 for several votes against NARAL's positions.

Comstock has been defended by the Family Foundation, which ranks votes in favor of, or opposed to, its pro-family positions.

The Foundation's 2012/2013 Scorecard ranked Comstock at 89 percent, with the opposition to the pro-life amendment and support for an openly homosexual judge the only marks against her out of 19 votes scored by the Foundation.

However, the Foundation has since qualified its score on Comstock's vote against the amendment. Last week, Chris Freund wrote on the organization's website that Comstock and another delegate “made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn’t about the amendment; it was about the overall policy.”

Not everyone agrees with Comstock's reasoning. Deal Hudson, senior editor of Catholic Online, told LifeSiteNews he believes the vote was “an imprudent choice.”

Comstock has been a figure in national politics for more than 20 years. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia highlighted her background for criticism, noting in 2009 that she “served as a senior aide to Congressman Frank Wolf” in the 1990s. She was also “a minor figure” during the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton.

During the George W. Bush administration, Comstock was the Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice, spent time with the Republican National Committee and a GOP-associated lobbying firm, and worked for the 2008 Romney presidential campaign. In 2005, a column at Slate tied her to the defense of Scooter Libby, the former Bush official who was indicted on several charges in 2007, including lying under oath and obstructing justice.

She briefly came to fame in conservative political media in 2012 after she mocked MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell in a discussion about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and equal pay for women. Comstock was a senior Romney advisor at the time. She also served as the co-chairman of the Republican National Convention in 2012.

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

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
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

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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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