Ben Johnson

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Pro-life leaders: Obama’s FBI is gathering intelligence on the pro-life movement

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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Andy Moore, with the bullhorn that inspired a federal investigation.

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The federal government appears to be making a concerted effort to to gain intelligence on the pro-life movement, according to some of the movement’s most prominent leaders. 

Jill Stanek has revealed that on July 13, FBI agents Conrad Rodriguez and William Sivley paid a visit to her son-in-law, Andy Moore, reportedly pressuring him to expose the inner workings of the right-to-life movement and making veiled threats to separate him from his wife and family through imprisonment or deportation.

The feds questioned Moore after the Southwest Women’s Surgery Center, a Dallas abortion clinic, complained that Moore used a bullhorn on one occasion during a peaceful protest. Upon learning this violated a local noise ordinance, Moore stopped using the bullhorn.

The abortion mill also claimed Moore was “too aggressive” and had trespassed on its property – something Moore denies and which he says the clinic made no attempt to prove. 

Stanek wrote that the agents – who said their department also investigates hate crimes such as those committed by white supremacists – asked “inappropriate questions clearly aimed at intimidating Andy, while also launching into a  fishing expedition about me.”  Agents reportedly asked her son-in-law whether Stanek had inspired his activism, whether she trained him, and if he got his ideas from her.

They also asked, “What affiliations do you have including church groups?”

Stanek said the agents were most interested in getting him to name other pro-lifers who he believes are overly “abrasive or aggressive.”

Moore, who hails from New Zealand and is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported if successfully prosecuted. FBI agents reportedly told him, “You wouldn’t want to be apart from your wife and newborn.”

Stanek questioned why the FBI was involved in the first place, since, “the charges rose to the level of nada to begin with, certainly not above local law enforcement’s pay grade.”

Others in the pro-life movement have received similar visits and probing questions.

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Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told LifesiteNews.com that during the Clinton-era Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy (VAAPCON) program, federal agents harassed pro-lifers in an attempt to uncover a conspiracy to kill abortionists. “Our mail was rifled through. Our phone lines were tapped. We were followed. I have an FBI file,” Newman told LifeSiteNews. “At the end of the day, they could not find any instance of conspiracy to commit violence against abortion providers. If anything we saw the exact opposite: there’s a conspiracy to commit violence against pro-lifers. That’s never talked about.”

Under Obama, he said the pressure is beginning again.

“I think it’s a lot more subversive with the advent of…warrantless wiretapping of our phones, and our cell phones can be cloned so easily,” he said.

Newman said a source has given him reason to believe the Obama administration is engaging in surveillance of pro-life leaders and organizations.

“It would not be a stretch to believe that every single pro-life leader has his unique ID code for their cell phone tapped into a government computer, and they know where we are and who we’re talking to at every moment,” Newman told LifeSiteNews.

Newman is perplexed why Operation Rescue’s 25 years of non-violent protest landed them as targets of an investigation. “We’re in the process of doing a Freedom of Information Act [request] to get this information directly from them, and we’ll be following that up with possible litigation,” he said.

“The Obama administration is essentially engaging in a witch hunt,” wrote Life Legal Defense Foundation Senior Staff Counsel Allison Aranda. “From the moment the new administration took office, the DOJ has been targeting peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors.”

In February U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp dismissed a federal lawsuit against Mary Susan Pine for violating the FACE Act, ruling, “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place…The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government” and the local abortion clinic.

“It’s not everyday that a federal judge accuses the Justice Department of a full-blown conspiracy,” Pine’s counsel, Harry Mihet, told LifeSiteNews.com. 

A spate of federal studies have painted pro-life, pro-family leaders as potential “domestic terrorism” threats.

The most recent, “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008” written by Gary LaFree and Bianca Bersani, concluded that organizations dedicated to a single issue – such as “anti-abortion groups” – posed the most enduring threat to American safety and well-being

An April 2009 DHS report on “Rightwing [sic.] Extremism” identified “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration” and opposition to same-sex “marriage” as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The DHS later pulled the report.

Yet DHS and FBI agents subsequently attended a terrorism training seminar on alleged pro-life terrorism, hosted by Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Feminist Majority Foundation. After equating free speech with violence, organizers distributed a resource guide listing three pages of purportedly extremist websites such as Priests for Life, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Civil libertarians, constitutionalists, and those who defend the unborn have also expressed concern that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could be used to permanently detain pro-lifers, if the president deems them a terrorist threat. A federal judge suspended the implementation of NDAA in May.

The organizations the feds targeted in the most recent sweep say they will not be deterred by the pressure.

“We will continue to pursue peaceful, non-violent intervention on behalf of the pre-born,” Newman said. “We will continue to investigate these abortionists who are providing substandard care to their patients and exposing them when they botch their abortions.” 

He said, while he was disappointed by the administration’s behavior, he had expected a pro-abortion backlash.

“This is nothing new when you consider how this particular administration operates,” Newman told LifeSiteNews. “All you have to do is look at the patterns of history. Despots and tyrants oppress their foes.”


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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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