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Irish gvmt ‘torn apart’ over abortion legalisation: leaders desperate to quash cross-party revolt

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By Hilary White
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DUBLIN, Ireland July 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Leading party insiders are expressing fears that the fragile coalition government will be “torn apart” if it continues to insist on liberalising the abortion law. Signs are increasing of growing tensions across party boundaries over demands from the left for legalisation.

The chairman of the ruling party, Fine Gael’s Charles Flanagan, told the heavily left-leaning Irish Independent last weekend that the government is running the risk of getting “bogged down in a liberal crusade during a time of high unemployment and economic difficulties.”

He said the party fears strife and division and “ultimate defeat” over it. “The parallels between last week and the eighties, or the errors of the Greens in the last government, are not going un-noticed.”

The Independent’s John Drennan reports that “the Government will face a large-scale, cross-party revolt of Fine Gael and Labour TDs and senators should they attempt to liberalise Ireland’s abortion regime via the legislative route.” The report follows revelations last week that the ruling party is in turmoil over abortion, with 15 backbenchers threatening a full-scale revolt.

Drennan says, however, that opposition “is far more widespread,” in the government ranks, and “far more than two” coalition TDs will resign over it should legislation be put forward. Opposition is reportedly so widespread that the government would have to secure support across parties, an outcome that is growing increasingly unlikely.

The Independent quoted an unnamed source in closed-door meetings who said, “The Taoiseach’s [Prime Minister’s] handlers are very paranoid. The usual suspects were on the phones, quelling dissent and warning people.”

Sources have revealed that even in the Labour party, whose leader Eamon Gilmore has stated that the country must legalise abortion, support is far from unanimous. The Independent quotes one Labour TD complaining of “the excessive influence of a pro-choice wing led by a Dublin elite.”  A letter signed by a group of Labour TDs said, “The attitudes of a Dublin liberal elite are not representative of the complex and diverse stance on this issue that is contained within the Labour Party.” Another party source said that should Gilmore attempt to force the issue, “it will take a fair man to bring us all to heel on a matter involving our personal consciences.”

While the coalition government is struggling under the pressure of the unpopular abortion issue, added to the country’s growing economic distress, the former leading party, Fianna Fáil, is waiting in the wings. Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil’s leader, has strongly reiterated their opposition to legislating for abortion. He told the Irish Examiner on the 23rd that he “remains to be convinced that it’s a doable proposition” to bring in a new abortion law based on the 1992 X case.

Such legislation, he said, could open the door to abortion in more widespread circumstances than the Supreme Court intended. The court ruled that abortion is allowable in cases where the woman’s life is at risk, including in cases where she has threatened suicide. The decision was condemned by abortion opponents as a major breach in the country’s legal protections for the unborn.

Martin’s comments follow those of Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, who told RTÉ radio this weekend that she believes the government will “have no choice” but to bring forward legislation. “Clearly, there will be differences [of opinion] but, in terms of legislation, in this particular instance, we won’t have a choice,” Lynch said.

Asked whether the Health Minister, Dr. James Reilly, should go forward with legislation, Martin said, “It’s not as black and white as is being portrayed, and I’m not so sure that that route necessarily is going to lead to a significant improvement for anybody.

“I’m not absolutist in terms of being judgmental on people. But… I think we should do everything we possibly can to preserve the life of the unborn and preserve the life of the mother. And I think we do that in Ireland, actually.”

All parties are waiting for the findings of an “expert group” on the question, but the group has had to fight heavy criticism that the government has “stacked” it with abortion supporters. Currently, abortion is outlawed in the country by a constitutional amendment, which can only be changed by a public referendum. Abortion-promoters have been working to find a way around the referendum requirement since polls continue to show that the public desire to see abortion legalised remains negligible. 

Fianna Fáil are waiting with everyone else for the outcome of the expert group’s report, but Martin reiterated the party’s opposition to abortion, saying it “hasn’t changed” and “is not going to change.” “The right to life is something we believe in as a political party,” he said.

At the same time, pro-life observers have called the government’s bluff, calling the “no choice” claim “disingenuous”. Patrick Buckley, the European Union and Dublin representative of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “This statement is clearly disingenuous since the Expert Group is tasked with producing a range of options for consideration by the government not to recommend one particular course of action.”
 
Moreover, Buckley said, the ECHR ruling said nothing about requiring legalisation, but only that there should be “clarity” on the current law.

“Those seeking to introduce abortion in Ireland are intentionally distorting the A, B and C judgment to support their own agenda while ignoring another important fact, namely, that Ireland, without abortion, is the safest place in the world for pregnant women,” Buckley added.

In a 2002 referendum then-ruling Fianna Fáil unsuccessfully proposed removing suicide as a legal ground for abortion. Martin said, “We felt the suicide option — if you legislate for that, you’re essentially creating an open-door situation, and it will be very difficult to hold back.”

While it is thought to be impossible to change the law through a referendum, activists have been hammering on the issue by the “back door,” through the courts and medical practice guidelines in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. The most successful wedge so far was the case brought by abortion lobby groups to the European Court of Human Rights, the A, B and C case, in which three women complained that they had been denied abortions.

The ECHR ruled in 2010 that although there was no requirement for legalisation of abortion, the Irish government had violated women’s rights to privacy and must issue legislation to clarify under what circumstances exactly abortion could be allowed with regards to the notorious X case.

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

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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 millions 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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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.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

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
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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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