Hilary White

N. Ireland Health Minister reveals plans to shut down Marie Stopes abortion facility

Hilary White
Hilary White
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BELFAST, December 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has moved to create new rules on abortion aimed at shutting down the Marie Stopes private abortion facility that opened illegally in Belfast in October. Meanwhile, a poll has shown that despite much propaganda in the secular media, there remains strong public opposition to liberalising the current law that allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is in serious danger from continuing the pregnancy.

Poots said that his department is considering making “legal terminations” available only in hospitals at any stage in pregnancy. This would firmly bar Marie Stopes from offering “medical” or chemical, early term abortions at their private, freestanding facility. “It may be that we only permit abortions to be carried out in a health service facility,” he said, adding that several options on regulations are being considered.

Poots said that his department is dedicated to saving, not taking lives, and that they will never bring in a regime of “social abortion” such as is available elsewhere in the UK.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on November 26th, Poots was asked “when he will publish guidelines on the medical termination of pregnancy in light of the tragedy reported in Galway.” He responded that it “would be inappropriate” to comment on the case of Savita Halappanavar, whose death has sparked demands by the international abortion lobby for the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to legalise abortion.

Asked whether he will “do all in his power to protect the life of the unborn child,” Poots replied, “The first and foremost rule in the Department on the provision of healthcare: it is about saving lives, not taking life. I believe that that applies to those who are born and to the unborn, because we seek to save and protect life.”

He added, “We are very clear that the life of the mother has a priority here, but that is purely in those instances in which the life of the mother is under threat. 

“Some form of social abortion is not something that I will ever be bringing before the House or seeking the support of Members for, and I do not believe that if I were inclined to do so, it would receive the support of the House because it is not something that is publicly supported.”

Poots said his department is in discussion with the Royal College of Midwives to develop “a maternity strategy” which has not included discussion of abortion.

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“I know that there are people from the Royal College of Midwives who are advisers to Marie Stopes. I am of the opinion that the role of midwives is largely to ensure quality care for expectant mothers and the babies whom those expectant mothers are carrying; to ensure that they receive the best possible support throughout that pregnancy; to ensure the safe delivery of that baby; and to provide considerable support thereafter to ensure that the baby gets the best start in life, as opposed to being involved with something that is, in fact, taking the life of the unborn child.”

Marie Stopes has made the claim that abortions are legal in N. Ireland if they are committed before nine weeks of pregnancy, but Poots was forceful on the subject of the law, saying it “is clear”. The law makes no mention of abortion being legal in early stages of pregnancy.

“Abortion in Northern Ireland is regulated by criminal law, and termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland is illegal, unless there is a real and serious threat to the life of the woman, or if there is a real and serious threat to the physical or mental health of the woman that is either long term or permanent in its nature. 

“In any other circumstances, it would be unlawful to perform a procedure that terminates a pregnancy.”

Although the Belfast Telegraph claimed that a poll they commissioned showed the opposition in Stormont to liberalization of the abortion law was leaving legislators “out of step” with the public, the numbers actually suggest otherwise. The survey of 1130 adults found that 55.4 percent want the law to stay the same or be strengthened even further to protect the unborn, while a total of about 45 percent wanted some liberalization.

25.9 percent agreed with the proposal for abortion on demand, with the numbers about evenly split between Catholics (27.8%) and Protestants (28.3%). 18.6 percent believed abortion should be available in cases of pregnancy due to rape or incest.

The largest groups were strongly against abortion being liberalized, with 26.9 percent believing the law should be unchanged and 26.5 per cent saying abortion should only be allowed “if the mother is likely to die if the pregnancy continues,” a position somewhat stronger than the current law states. Two percent, all of them men, agreed with the statement, “Abortion is no better than shooting a child in the head and should be treated as murder.” This was the opinion given by John Larkin, the Attorney General, shortly before he was appointed to the post.

The Belfast Telegraph noted that all of the province’s leading political parties except Alliance, which allows a free vote on the issue, have policies strongly against changing the laws.

In the Assembly at Stormont, Poots said that his department can produce guidelines that will “help to provide clarity for obstetricians in particular situations,” but insisted that these will not change the current legal situation.

“This House is the only thing that can change the law, and, as I indicated, I will not be bringing anything before the House to change that law.” He added that he is personally glad that the law for Northern Ireland is separate from that of the rest of the UK, and that the independence of Northern Ireland’s legislature from Westminster and the full legalization of abortion are “not compatible”.

Meanwhile, the Marie Stopes facility has all but refused to participate in a legal inquiry by the Justice Committee over their appearance in October. In a letter to the committee Tracey McNeill, Marie Stopes’ UK director, issued a list of demands before agreeing to appear and give evidence. Once these demands are met, McNeill wrote, “We can arrange a mutually convenient time and place to meet.”

Justice Committee members, however called the letter “arrogant” and “impertinent” and noted that the Committee has the right to demand the presence of anyone, and refusal can be punished with up to three months in prison. 

MLA Jim Allister said, “I think it’s the height of impertinence for the Marie Stopes organisation to try and tell the committee how they should conduct whatever it is they are going to conduct.

“I think they’re showing themselves very arrogant.”

MLA Patsy McGlone, another member of the committee, said, “I would have thought first and foremost it is for the committee to determine who it calls and when they call them.

“No external body determines that. So I think they might well have started on the wrong foot there. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re new to the place.

“They should be advised that it’s for the committee to decide who it calls to give evidence.”

“The position they’re in at the moment, it’s in their best interests to cooperate with a committee of the Northern Ireland assembly,” he added.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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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.

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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
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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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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