Ben Johnson

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Planned Parenthood sues over notification laws, CA midwives’ abortion bill moves forward, and more

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Kermit Gosnell trial has led to a renewed surge in pro-life regulations, the abortion lobby and its allies on the political Left are suing to overturn the will of the people, on often confusing grounds. And California leads the way with multiple laws to expand abortion, punish those who object to homosexuality, and distribute condoms more widely.

Montana

Planned Parenthood of Montana has filed a lawsuit to strike down two parental notification laws – one of which was passed by more than 70 percent of state voters during a ballot referendum. Montana voters overwhelmingly backed Legislative Referendum 120 in 2011, when Republicans in the state legislature put the question to them rather than see then-Governor Brian Schweitzer veto their own bill. It required parental notification if a minor girl sought an abortion. House Bill 521, which would take effect on July 1, required parents to consent. Planned Parenthood says the bills violate the constitutional rights of unemancipated minors. 

Arizona

The NAACP and an Asian women's group have sued to block Arizona's law banning women from having abortions because of a baby's race or sex – on the grounds that the 2011 law is racist and sexist. The ACLU filed the case, which left many puzzled, on behalf of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and Maricopa County's chapter of the NAACP. Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, told the media, "We hope the judgment in this case will expose the true intentions of the politicians behind these abortion bans and show unequivocally that they discriminate against women of color, Asian-American and African-American in particular." Arizona is the only state to bar women from aborting babies because of the baby's race. Five other states -- Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, -- have passed bans on sex-selective abortions. Arizona Congressman Trent Franks introduced a similar bill in U.S. Congress last year, but it could not clear the legislative hurdle House leadership placed in front of it.

California

The California Assembly has approved a bill to allow non-physicians to perform abortions. The bill, introduced by Toni Aktins, D-San Diego, would allow midwives and nurses to carry out early abortions without the supervision or participation of a trained physician. Its sponsors note the bill is inspired by the lack of medical professionals willing to terminate the unborn. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

The State Senate on Tuesday passed S.B. 323, a bill intended to revoke the tax-exempt status of youth organizations like the Boy Scouts that “discrimiante” against homosexuals. Legislators made clear the BSA's decision to admit homosexual scouts while barring adult homosexuals from serving as scoutmasters was not enough State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said, “We’ve given the Boy Scouts ample time to solve their discrimination problem and they have chosen a path that still leads to discrimination.” But critics like Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute, said the bill echoes the Obama administration's use of the IRS to punish its political enemies. “This bill is about government vilifying our values and abusing its power to penalize, through taxation, those who hold different beliefs and values,” she said. “SB 323 is an unprecedented intrusion by the government and a far reaching assault on freedoms of association, speech, and religion.”

A bill that would have required pornographers to use condoms in all films shot in the state of California died in the Appropriations Committee last Friday. The measure would extend a local L.A. County ordinance, passed after numerous STD and AIDS outbreaks within the adult film industry, statewide. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who represents the heart of the nation's porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, said, "A legislator has about as much right telling a performer to use condoms as we have telling Rush Limbaugh to wear a dunce cap during his radio shows."

Meanwhile, Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland had better luck with his bill to distribute condoms in state prisons. The Appropriations Committee gave his AB 999 unanimous approval.

Illinois

Illinois has one day left in its legislative session to pass a bill redefining marriage. The Assembly's African-American Caucus has demonstrated strong opposition to the Orwellian-named "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act." Attorneys from the Thomas More Society warn “Senate Bill 10 provides the worst religious liberty protections of any same-sex marriage bill in the country." S.B. 10 “would make Illinois the most hostile state in the country to the religious freedoms of people of faith," said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Chicago-based society. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has a different view. He has weighed in on the bill numerous times, including at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held Wednesday night at the home of his friends Bettylu and Paul Saltzman. “I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply support,” Obama said. “I am absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do.”

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Louisiana

Telemed abortions may have a limited future in the Pelican State. The state House passed a ban on the procedure by an overwhelming vote of 99-3. S.B. 90, introduced by Republican State Senator Fred Mills of Breaux Bridge, is intended to assure that women who swallow the cocktail of pills that lead to forceful contractions – and often result in an incomplete expulsion of the unborn baby – have adequate supervision. It now goes to the State Senate for final passage.

Wisconsin

Lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering three pro-life bills introduced by one state representative. The measures would respect the consciences of religious employers not to cover abortifacient drugs or contraction in their insurance plans; ban sex-selective abortions; and end taxpayer funding of elective abortion in state employees' insurance plans. Rep. André Jacque, R-De Pere, introduced all three bills last week. The Assembly Committee on Health held a hearing on the bills Wednesday. In response to an objection from Rep. Erik Severson, R-Star Prarie, Jacque said he would be willing to discuss adding an exception for birth control that was prescribed for non-contraceptive reasons. Many religious employers already have such an exception. 


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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