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Florida would ban abortion post-viability, Ohio moves to ban abortion insurance, and more

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By Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Senate voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new HHS Secretary to oversee the implementation of ObamaCare, states around the country were voting to protect the unborn, fighting for marriage, and wrestling with a wave of transgender “anti-discrimination” proposals that would allow biological men to use women's restroom and shower facilities.

Florida

The state of Florida is poised to protect children from abortion if they have the capacity to survive outside the womb. H.B. 1047, which would bar abortions after viability, passed the Senate by a party line 24-15 vote. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, told the Miami Herald if a woman wishes to abort, she should “make that choice before the baby is able to live on its own outside of the womb.” The bill previously passed the House 70-45 and is now on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, a pro-life Republican. He is expected to sign the measure, which would penalize abortionists who abort a child after that point unless they certify, in writing, that an abortion is necessary to save the mother's life or physical health. The move comes as the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC has launched a voter campaign designed, in the words of CEO Lillian Tamayo, to focus on “the wave of anti-women’s health legislation.”

State Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional marriage protection amendment, saying redefining marriage would "impose significant public harm" on society. More than 61 percent of Florida voters approved Florida's Amendment 2 in 2008, with surveys finding the state's black population among those most likely to approve. The ACLU is suing to overturn the measure, which was intended to protect an ancient institution that fosters child-rearing. "Florida's marriage laws, she said in her court brief, “have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”

Ohio

An Ohio bill would bar all insurance companies statewide from covering abortion except in the case of ectopic or tubal pregnancies. The legislature had the first hearing on H.B. 351, introduced by Cincinnati Rep. John Becker, on Tuesday. It would also prevent taxpayers from subsidizing abortifacient contraception such as the IUD for state employees through their insurance plans. Democratic Rep. John Carney said it is "just a fact" that the IUD is not an abortifacient; however, health agencies and the device's manufacturer agree the IUD may prevent the implantation of a newly conceived child. The insurance provision follows the lead of neighboring Michigan, which is traditionally more liberal on abortion. The Ohio bill does not allow anyone who receives state funds to purchase the separate “abortion rider.”

New York

Senate Democrats have reintroduced the Women's Equality Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point bill that contains a plank allowing a massive expansion of abortion statewide. Just weeks earlier, the Senate Health Committee voted down the abortion provision as a stand-alone measure dubbed the “Reproductive Health Act,” by a 9-7 party line vote. The WEA would formally extend legal sanction to late-term abortion and open the door to non-physicians performing abortions. Cuomo first introduced the omnibus bill allegedly advancing women's rights in June 2013, likening it to the Bill of Rights. Although it passed the Assembly that month, it was defeated in the Senate. Some see Cuomo as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, challenging Hillary Clinton from the left. According to People's World, the official publication of the Communist Party USA, Cuomo was recently endorsed for re-election as governor by the Working Families Party, a coalition of former ACORN affiliates and labor unions.

Illinois

Illinois right to life supporters have expressed concern that the Republican candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, skipped the 45th anniversary dinner of Illinois Right to Life but two days later showed up at a pro-abortion event hosted by the ACLU. The ACLU Bill of Rights event, hosted in part by Democratic congresswoman and Democratic Socialists of America member Jan Schakowsky, celebrated the “right to choose.” Illinois Right to Life Committee Executive Director Emily Zender told Illinois Review, a state conservative publication, “It is disgusting that Mr. Rauner would give money to, and celebrate with, an organization that brags about its support of partial birth abortion, a gruesome procedure involving the severing of the spinal cords of fully developed unborn children.” David E. Smith of the Illinois Family Institute asked, "When is Mr. Rauner going to reach out to conservatives in Illinois?” According to the Huffington Post, Rauner has said that “the right for a woman to choose is a national law. That’s not going to change in Illinois.” However, he said he supports parental notification laws and bans on late-term abortion.

Rauner is also experiencing trouble for his position on redefining marriage. Rauner said that the state's voters should have decided whether the state would legalize gay “marriage,” rather than having a bill pass the legislature. But he told CBS in Chicago that he is not opposed to redefining marriage, and now that the law has changed, “I don’t have any agenda to change it.” The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election, took effect on Sunday, June 1. On Monday, Quinn attended a homosexual “wedding,” where he called the new law “a great civil rights measure." According to the Northwest Herald, Quinn added, "I didn't need a referendum to tell me what was the right thing to do."

Illinois voters will be consulted on whether insurance plans should have to offer contraception – but their decision will not have any effect on the law. The state Senate and House voted to place a non-binding question on the fall ballot asking, “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?” However, state law has mandated such coverage since 2003. Republicans say the initiative is an attempt to increase Democratic turnout during the election. "It's a stunt. It's a game, and everybody down here knows it," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.

New Hampshire

The senior policy advisor of Planned Parenthood of New England, Jennifer Frizzell, is considering running for the New Hampshire state Senate. WMUR reports that the abortion industry tactician is one of five potential candidates for the seat being vacated by long-serving Concord Democrat Sylvia Larsen.

Maryland

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill barring “discrimination” against transgender people, a bill that would require public facilities to allow biological males to use the women's restroom. Businesses also believe they open the door to costly but baseless discrimination lawsuits. O'Malley, a Democrat who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, signed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 in mid-May. Maryland became the 18th state to enact such a law.

Michigan

Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, says he supports a law banning what he terms "discrimination" against homosexuals and transgender people, similar to the one signed by Maryland Gov. O'Malley. The bill is largely supported by the Chamber of Commerce. The city of Saginaw unanimously rejected such a “bathroom bill” around the time Gov. Snyder made his remarks. The self-described "nerd," who was swept into office in the Tea Party landslide year of 2010, is up for re-election this November. The GOP-controlled House may move forward on his suggestion. "If we can find a way to do that, he's ready to move on this,” according to Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that support for marriage redefinition is falling in Michigan. The EPIC-MRA poll finds the public evenly divided on the issue. In a hypothetical vote to legalize gay "marriage," voters split 47-46 in favor, with seven percent undecided. That's down from last year, when voters supported gay "marriage" by a 10-point margin of 51-41.


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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

LifeSiteNews staff
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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