Dustin Siggins

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GOP candidate for NY governor blasts Cuomo for telling pro-lifers they’re not welcome

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY, April 23, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Rob Astorino is in his fifth year as county executive of Westchester County, New York. And he says he's the right man for the job of governor of New York State, a position currently held by Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Astorino, who was recently in Washington to solicit support and fundraising dollars from the Susan B. Anthony List, defended the right to life in an interview with LifeSiteNews. He also criticized Cuomo, who said in January that conservatives "who are right to life [and] anti-gay" are "extreme" and "have no place in the state of New York."

The GOP candidate says he opposes abortion in all cases except for rape, incest, and life of the mother.

"I respect everyone's religious beliefs, or non-beliefs," said Astorino. "I respect everyone's point of view, even though I may not agree with it. The last thing I would do is, as County Executive of Westchester, or as governor of the state, is to tell them to leave. To tell them they are not welcome."

"If, for some reason, they disagree with me on political philosophy or on life -- it's so outrageous. He's never apologized, and it's beyond what any governor should ever say," continued the GOP candidate.

Astorino, who is the only Republican running for his party's nomination, said that "tolerance" is required. "We need tolerance, we need to understand each other, respect each other.”

He noted that "there are probably no issues I agree with ... on abortion" with abortion giant Planned Parenthood, but that he "understand[s] they have a right to be here under the law."

The Republican said that he is "going to try and change hearts and minds, but for anyone who's pro-choice would I sit there and say 'Get out of New York, you don't belong here?'"

"Come on, that's ridiculous."

Describing himself as "Catholic, pro-life," and "attend[ing] weekly church services with my family," Astorino said that he doesn't "impose those views on others." He said that he believes "what is happening today is religion is being chased away, and I also believe that with abortion apparently, this has become the new politics for the Democratic Party." Astorino said that "and unless you go all the way, to the moment of birth, you're not going to get the endorsements of NOW, or NARAL, or Planned Parenthood."

"I respect views, viewpoints, and all different religions," he stated.

One of Cuomo's most controversial legislative efforts is the "Women's Equality Act," which includes a platform position to "Protect a Woman’s Freedom of Choice." Astorino said that while "I think most of us can support most points in the Women's Equality Act," the abortion component "is so radical, and so out of touch that even New Yorkers who consider themselves pro-choice" oppose it.

"Governor Cuomo refused to negotiate" on this part of the bill, according to Astorino, and "refused to separate [it] from the rest of the bill." Calling it "abortion on demand up to birth," Astorino said that "the last thing we should be doing, and what I vehemently would oppose, and would veto in a second, is any expansion of our abortion laws here in New York. We should all be working together with what President Clinton said, right? We should be making it rare, and safe. I don't see how this makes it safer for women who can go in somewhat unregulated clinics, and have non-physicians perform abortions in the third trimester."

While Astorino says he opposes abortion except for rape, incest, and life of the mother, he also "recognize[s] the political atmosphere in New York, and what it is, and Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, this state made their abortion laws before Roe v. Wade. So, abortion is the law in New York State, and it's probably not going backwards too much in the near future."

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The abortions Astorino does support being legal are "a tough issue, too, because all life should be sacred. And that's an area where there can be a legitimate public policy debate on, certainly always in the life of the mother, which generally never happens, but certainly that should always be there. For me, that's even in Catholic doctrine, too, so I think we're pretty consistent with that."

"But nobody can argue that -- in New York, especially -- that it's not easy to get an abortion. We are the abortion capital of the world. Nobody can claim it's difficult, that there's an abortion battle here to abolish abortion -- that's just not happening in New York," said Astorino.

"To continuously try to expand [abortion], I don't know how that helps teenagers," says Astorino. "I don't know how that helps women in any way. And we need to have a frank discussion about this, and there does need to be alternatives."

"We should be promoting adoption. I don't know why promoting adoption would be controversial."

Democrats have a voter registration advantage in New York, but Astorino -- who said at a recent campaign event that enrollment in Westchester County gives Democrats a two-to-one advantage -- believes "of course we can win." At the campaign event, he said that building coalitions is important, and "you've ... got to offer something" to non-traditional Republican voters.

Astorino faces a tough battle in his effort to reach voters who don't already stand behind him. Cuomo and his allies -- including pro-abortion groups and environmental organizations -- are planning a series of attack ads that could cost as much as $10 million. The goal is to make Astorino look like a "right wing nut."

However, a major backer of Astorino, New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told LifeSiteNews in March that "Cuomo is the extremist. He's already said there is no room for people in New York State who are pro-life and are in favor of traditional marriage.”

In early March, Long told Newsday.com that he didn't think social issues would be a major factor in the gubernatorial race. Astorino also told LifeSiteNews that "the most important thing" in the race is "what's on everyone's mind -- jobs, taxes."

"People are leaving New York, they are throwing in the towel, in droves," he said. "400,000 people have left New York in the last four years. We are dead last, 50th, in all the wrong categories. We have the highest taxes in America, the most corrupt government, the worst business climate, one of the highest electricity rates in America, the greatest population loss. [And] things have not gotten any better under Andrew Cuomo."

"We need to reverse course. We were able to do that in Westchester County, where I've been County Executive now for my fifth year. Where we prioritized, we reduced spending, we reduced taxes, yet we're committed to those most in need."

Astorino has previously said that since he became county executive, Westchester County has reduced the property tax levy or kept it the same, and spending has gone down from $1.8 million to $1.7 million.

Some of those "most in need" are black Americans. "I read somewhere that the most dangerous place to be for an African-American child is in the womb," said Astorino. "And that's really sad, because the abortion rate is through the roof for African-American women, and 60% of pregnancies end in termination."

"There are a lot of reasons for that, and we've got to start addressing those," says Astorino, who sees a connection between economic and social issues. "The breakdown of families in society, economic conditions -- clearly, we want everyone to have a good-paying job, and an education. We don't want people to feel hopeless, that pregnancy should be a burden. And those are the kinds of things that we have to address in a real way."

With seven months until the general election, Astorino is largely an unknown to state voters less than two months after declaring his candidacy. He has seven months to close a thirty-point margin between himself and Cuomo.


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LifeSiteNews staff

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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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