Dustin Siggins

Obama admin. doubles down, demands nuns violate their conscience on abortion-inducing drugs

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a reply filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Obama administration is arguing that a group of nuns that has objected to the HHS birth control and abortifacient mandate has no grounds to challenge the mandate since they are already exempt from it as a religious organization.

However, lawyers for the nuns have pointed out that in order to claim their exemption, the administration is requiring the nuns to sign a “permission slip” that would allow their insurance company to offer coverage of contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization over the nuns' objections.

The Sisters argue that participating in the process in any way would make them party to mortal sin. Even the fact that the government would pay the insurer for the coverage, and so costs would not fall on the Sisters, fails to address this concern, they say.

On Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) responded to Justice Sonia Sotomayor's injunction protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious organizations from the HHS mandate. According to its response, the Little Sisters of the Poor have “no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement or to complain that it involves them in the process of providing contraceptive coverage.”

The DOJ also cited lower court decisions against the Little Sisters, saying that “both of the lower courts recognized this case involves a church plan that is exempt from regulation.” The Obama administration stated that the Sisters need only sign paperwork opting out of the mandate and that while this would then open up their insurance company to covering what the Sisters believe are sinful measure, the Sisters themselves would not be paying for anything they object to.

The mandate, which went into effect in January 2012 and has gone through several revisions, has caused a backlash among religiously affiliated non-profits and some business owners, because they say the government is forcing them to violate their beliefs against abortifacients and contraception.

In all, 91 lawsuits have been filed by religious and non-religious organizations.

In a public statement, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Senior Counsel and Lead Counsel for Little Sisters Mark Rienzi decried the administration's defense of the mandate.

“The government demands that the Little Sisters of the Poor sign a permission slip for drugs and contraceptives, or pay...millions in fines,” he said.

“The government now asks the Supreme Court to believe that the very thing it is forcing the nuns to do—signing the permission slip—is a meaningless act," Rienzi continued. "But why on earth would the government be fighting the Little Sisters all the way to the Supreme Court if it did not think its own form had any effect?”

The Supreme Court is hearing two challenges to the mandate in March from for-profit organizations. The government's response to the injunction gives Sotomayor and the Supreme Court the ability to keep the injunction in place until the cases are decided, or suspend it until the case is decided.

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Reuters reports that many organizations have concerns that the administration intends to push the mandate regardless of what is decided at the Supreme Court. In November, the government said it intended to “continue to consider potential options to fully and appropriately extend the consumer protections provided by the preventive services coverage regulations to self-insured church plans.”

The Supreme Courts decision to grant the Little Sisters an injunction came after a federal judge denied their request for an injunction on December 27, 2013 – just four days before the mandate went into effect on January 1. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals also denied their request for an injunction on December 31, which led to the last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court.

While religious organizations and individuals across the country have sued the government over the mandate – with a great deal of success, according to the Becket Fund, with 52 injunctions granted to plaintiffs and only seven decisions going in favor of the government – Catholic-affiliated groups have led against the mandate. This is partially because of the Church's enormous influence in American culture and politics – one-sixth of hospital beds in America are Catholic, and six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic, as are the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader.

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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, 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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South African mom files ‘wrongful life’ lawsuit on behalf of Downs son

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

A South African woman has launched a "wrongful life" lawsuit against the Cape Town-based Foetal Assessment Centre, claiming a failure to inform her that the child she was carrying was at risk of having Down Syndrome prevented her from aborting her baby.

A twist in this lawsuit is that, unlike other "wrongful birth" lawsuits, the mother in this case missed the time limit to file the claim on her own behalf, so she is asking the South African Constitutional Court to allow her to sue the center for “wrongful life” on behalf of her now-born son.

“You have a duty to tell my mother carrying me that I'm malformed so that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to carry me to term,” the statement of claim against the Foetal Assessment Centre reads, according to SABC News.

“It is not as if the foetus is sort of putting up its hand and saying why you didn’t destroy me," the mother's lawyer, Paul Hoffman, explained to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. "The foetus is complaining that its malformation, its development is the result of the bad advice that was given.”

The SABC report did not say what compensation the woman is seeking.

The scope of the case is similar to that of a New Zealand couple who won a lawsuit claiming monetary compensation after a routine 20 week ultrasound scan failed to discover that their daughter had spina bifida.

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The mother, whose name has not been released, claimed that the continuance of the pregnancy was a “personal injury,” and, had she been given the correct diagnosis after that scan, she would have aborted her daughter.

"We consider that the continued pregnancy of the appellant following a misdiagnosis in the 20 week scan is capable of being an injury suffered by the appellant,” the court ruled, and directed the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to make the woman eligible for compensation for the ongoing surgical and physiotherapy expenses incurred by their child.

New Zealand disability advocate Mike Sullivan said the underpinning attitude behind the decision is that those with disability, both born and unborn, are seen as a burden on society.

“This is what happens,” Sullivan said, when “the children become reduced to nothing – wrong even to exist.”

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