Calvin Freiburger

Lesbians sue to force Catholic hospital to provide same-sex benefits, undermine DOMA

Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A New York lesbian couple has sued to force a Catholic hospital to provide them with insurance benefits by challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The same-sex couple has filed a lawsuit against Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and St. Joseph’s Medical Center because one of St. Joseph’s divisions, St. Vincent’s Westchester, denied them spousal benefits.

The plaintiffs, who have chosen to remain anonymous, are seeking past and future benefits and a declaration that they are entitled to receive them.

Though New York recognizes same-sex marriage, self-insured employers such as St. Joseph’s may still refuse to recognize them because they are governed by federal regulations, rather than state regulations.

The lawsuit alleges that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal regulations, is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and therefore cannot justify the hospital’s policy. “It’s just not socially fair,” the employee told the New York Times.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue strongly condemned the lawsuit on Wednesday in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, calling it an infringement on the hospital’s rights made possible by “sleuth, deception, and a wholesale disregard for the democratic process” and suggesting homosexual activists were the ones trampling on diversity.

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“It is not the Catholic Church that is seeking to impose its agenda on others” Donohue said. “It is homosexual activists who voluntarily join a Catholic institution and then seek to upend its strictures.” He noted the employee “surely knew all along…the teachings of Catholicism” on the issues of marriage and homosexuality before coming to the hospital.

DOMA has long been a high-priority target for advocates of redefining marriage. The federal Department of Justice has come under fire for refusing to defend the law in court throughout President Barack Obama’s time in office.

In July 2011, the administration called for the law to be overturned, arguing that the bill signed by President Bill Clinton was “motivated in large part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals.”

Last month, the First Circuit Court of Appeals struck down DOMA’s federal marriage definition, ruling that benefits could not be denied to gay couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage. However, the court upheld the section of the law protecting states’ right to define marriage for themselves.

The opinion, written by a judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush, specifically denied the bill was motivated by prejudice.

Critics told LifeSiteNews at the time that the rest of his ruling was severely flawed. Liberty Counsel senior counsel Harry Mihet noted the inconsistency of ruling that “states remain free to decide the meaning of marriage for themselves and to ban homosexual ‘marriage,’ as 31 states have already done, but somehow the federal government does not have that same freedom to decide for itself…what marriage means.”

Alliance Defense Fund legal counsel Dale Schowengerdt observed that the federal government’s authority to exclude polygamy from marriage’s definition has historically been recognized, while Family Research Council President Tony Perkins argued that DOMA should be subjected to the “rational basis test,” a commonly-accepted legal standard that would recognize government’s rational interest in fostering unions that provide children with a mother and a father.

The assault on DOMA raises serious concerns for religious liberty, as well. A ruling against DOMA and St. Joseph would mean that not even religious employers who bear full financial responsibility for their own services have the right to conform those services to their religious convictions.

In October 2011, Bishop William Lori testified before a the House Judiciary subcommittee that the rhetoric used by the Justice Department against DOMA also pose a deeper threat to religious freedom.

“If the label of ‘bigot’ sticks to our Church and many other churches – especially in court, under the Constitution – because of their teaching on marriage,” he argued, “the result will be church-state conflicts for many years to come.”


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

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Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

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On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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