Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent

From ‘adult’ bookstore to pregnancy resource center: Melbourne welcomes pro-life oasis

Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent
Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent
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March 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The city of Melbourne - usually the source of Australia’s most depressing anti-life news - was recently the happy scene of the crowded launch of a new centre to support pregnant women.

On Valentines Day, more than 80 people turned out for the opening of The Babe’s Project Pregnancy Support Centre, in a shop front that was previously, of all things, an adult bookshop.

Within days of the opening, a young teenager and her boyfriend entered seeking help - and just two weeks later, the centre ran out of its pregnancy support packs, turning to pro-life advocates for support to keep the critical pro-life facility running.

Helen Parker is the visionary woman behind the project. In between her hectic schedule, she took some time to speak to LifeSiteNews.com. 

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LifeSiteNews.com: Congratulations on the opening! How did you feel to see a long-held dream become a reality?

Helen Parker:
Thank you! It was overwhelming to see a community come together and say, “it is not okay for women to be unsupported, so let’s do this together.” I knew there was a need. I knew we had support, but to see it eventuate into something tangible is amazing.

LSN: Tell us the story of how you first got the inspiration to create The Babes Project.

HP: I found out I was pregnant when I was 20 and studying at university. With very little support, I was confused and didn’t know where to turn and subsequently the doctor booked me in for a termination.

This was not at all what I wanted to do and I was alarmed at how easy this had been made available.

I proceeded with my pregnancy and soon after Ariel was born I started volunteering in the maternity ward of the local hospital. It was here that I heard recurring themes of how simply abortion was promoted, together with much experience of grief and loss.

When the abortion legislation changed here in Victoria in 2008, I knew it was time to go further, doing something practical addressing the needs of women terminating pregnancies because the felt they had no other option.

It was time to actively promote parenting and adoption as positive alternatives to abortion and to do whatever it took to see that reflected in the choices made by women in our communities.

LSN: Have you been able to help many women in your Pregnancy Support Centre since it opened on Valentines Day? What kind of things do the women who come through your doors say?

HP: We have already had women and families engage with The Pregnancy Support Centre looking for a variety of support. Most are looking for a safe place to chat and to begin talking through their circumstances. Some are still in shock after a positive pregnancy test, some are able to articulate further their own thoughts about possible options, but what we see from all women is a need for hope and reassurance about how their life might look in the future.

They want to see women doing life well who may have faced similar circumstances. They want to see that they still have value and that they can make great choices not only for their child, but also for themselves long term.

LSN: How much support is there for pregnant women in Australia? Are there many other centres like yours?

HP: We have been surprised to find very little support for women which works toward positive outcomes long term.

There certainly are a handful of pregnancy centres throughout Australia, some working effectively at reaching their community whilst others just aren’t being fully utilized. 

Whilst we are aware of some centres which seem to be reaching a number of women, most are battling a nation where pregnancy centres outside abortion clinics or family planning aren’t common, and as a result they don’t seem to be accessed as we would hope.

LSN: What needs to change in Australia’s culture, government policy and law regarding adoption?

HP: Australia is a country with deep wounds from past adoption practices. 

At a government level we need to engage in discussion about what adoption can look like and be committed to lobbying for reasonable change.

Once we see adoption working well, it is our hope that it can be embraced by women who might have alternatively chosen abortion. 

There is an uphill battle ahead to bring change to Australian attitudes and legislation regarding abortion.

One thing we cannot underestimate is the value of connecting with local MPs and asking them to put positive adoption legislation on their agenda.

LSN: You produced a very moving video for the launch of the new centre. At the end of it you said that the pro-life movement in Australia needs to change. In what ways would you like to see it change?

HP: The Babes Project highly values the work and perseverance of the pro-life movement; we have met some wonderful people who have taught us much.

I do, however, think we could all go further in ensuring there are excellent services available for women and their families toward long-term positive outcomes. 

She must have access to high quality assistance as she proceeds with her pregnancy in a loving, compassionate and non-judgmental environment.

It is up to us to see this become a reality.

LSN: What are the best ways to provide practical help for women in our own personal lives?

HP: Be engaged. Listen to her, encourage her and show compassion. Be willing to hear what you don’t like and learn from her. I think we could all challenge ourselves to take down the “us and them” walls. 

The best way I learned about adoption was to spend time with a friend who once claimed “I hate adoption.” It was the best way for me to learn what needs to be addressed.

Then you do whatever it takes to ensure she has great support long term.

LSN: What kind of support have you received from people around the country as the word has spread about your project?

HP: We have received a wonderful outpouring of generosity and encouragement from many.

To open a centre and to make sure it is sustainable takes much time, finances, and a great team of people willing to get their hands dirty.

The most significant, however, has been from locals who are passionate about seeing positive alternatives to abortion promoted in their community.

We simply created a space for them to express their passion, which has seen many take part and build walls, install the kitchen, donate funds, lay carpet, and see this Centre transform into a safe, lovely space.

LSN: Finally, would it be okay to ask your daughter a question? Ariel, what do you think about your mum?

Ariel: My mum is cool, sweet, kind and funny. She can always make you laugh no matter how grumpy you are. She cares about others a lot, and is very understanding. I love what she is doing with The Babes Project and I hope our story will benefit lots of people.


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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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