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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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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