Adam Cassandra

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South Korean FDA drops prescriptions for emergency contraception

Adam Cassandra
By Adam Cassandra
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June 8, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - The Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) announced Thursday that the purchase of emergency contraceptives, known as morning-after pills, will no longer be regulated by medical doctors, and the drugs will now be available over-the-counter (OTC).

The KFDA also reversed its policy on non-emergency oral contraceptives, announcing that purchase will require a doctor’s prescription beginning as early as next year. The pills are currently available OTC except for Bayer’s Yasmin and Yaz brands, which have been under investigation by the U.S. FDA for elevated risk of blood clots. A prescription for emergency contraceptives will still be required for teenagers.

“According to our panel of experts, the main mechanism behind the emergency pills is the interference of hormonal action, linked to interference of implantation. It is not an abortion,” said Cho Ki-ho, a KFDA official.

The Korea Herald reported that Catholics in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, held a protest in front of the KFDA headquarters prior to Thursday’s announcement urging authorities to maintain the current classification of the drug.

Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun of Cheongju, president of the Committee for Bioethics of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) argued fiercely against reclassifying emergency contraceptives as OTC drugs in a May 6, 2012 letter:

“The Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and some NGOs have argued recently that the morning-after pill should fall under the category of an over-the-counter drug because it can cut the abortion rate. … For the last thirty years the government in promoting a policy to curb overpopulation has played a decided role in the diffusion of contempt for life and the infringement upon the dignity of human life, because it has overlooked and even encouraged the practice of unethical artificial contraception and abortion. As a result, our society is now facing a serious low birth rate.”

The bishop called the use of artificial contraception “an ethically unjustifiable act” and argued that the morning-after pill “is also a kind of contraceptive infringing upon human life.”

“Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said that abortion is the most severe violence against the peace of the world,” he said. “Just as we cannot tolerate visible school violence, so we cannot tolerate the invisible violence of abortion and the morning-after pill.”

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The Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) issued a statement last week urging the government to list emergency contraceptives as OTC drugs, and claimed deregulation would decrease the number of illegal abortions in South Korea.

“Emergency pills are effective when taken within 12 hours of sexual intercourse and 72 hours utmost. Finding and visiting a doctor in that limited time is very difficult,” the KPA said.

“In a way, conventional pills are much riskier,” said Kim Koo, head of the KPA. “Long-term exposure to oral contraceptives is much more harmful. Think of it, your hormone secretion is being manipulated regularly for years. But many of them are sold without doctors’ prescription.”

The KFDA recognizes that the side effects of oral contraceptives can include thrombosis, thromboembolism, thrombo puerperalis, myocardial infarction, cerebral hemorrhage and cerebral thrombosis, among others, and bans the pills from being administered to women with breast cancer, endometrial cancer, hepatitis and thromboembolism. Women who are over 40 years old, obese, have headaches, depression or other related conditions are also restricted from obtaining the pills.

“In order to prevent pregnancy, women are advised to take the pills for 21 days a month then take a seven-day break. This pattern goes on forever. It affects the hormonal activities of the body. We need a careful approach to the issue,” the KFDA’s Kim Sung-ho said.

But when it comes to emergency contraceptives, KFDA authorities do not appear to be concerned about harmful side effects. The cited reason for the lack of concern was that health officials have not observed many of the more serious side effects in Korean women: “The most commonly reported side effects of the drug, including irregular menstruation, headache, nausea and vomiting, are reported to cease within 48 hours. Thromboembolism and other serious adverse effects have not yet been reported in Korea.”

The Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology warned of the harmful side effects of emergency contraception in a statement released prior to the KFDA ruling in which the group argued to keep the current restrictions in place.

“Emergency pills shift the hormonal action of the body to an extreme level since it should be able to prevent conception. The hormone contained in the drug is 10-15 times stronger than regular pills. Then how critical can that be? It naturally requires doctors’ consideration and monitoring,” said Chung Ho-jin of the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The group also did not agree with claims that greater access to emergency contraceptives would curb the number of abortions: “In Sweden, the morning-after pills were reclassified as OTC from 2001. By 2007, the abortion rate increased by 17 percent. The more important thing is that the failure rate of the abortion pills is more than 15 percent, which shows that the drug is not a cure to irresponsible sex.”

The Catholic Church in South Korea is not likely to relent in its opposition to the government’s action on contraceptives. In an effort to strengthen the clergy’s understanding of life and family issues, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun recently commissioned the translation of Human Life International’s A Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook, and sent copies to every priest in South Korea. The publication was specifically designed to help priests, seminarians and other religious and lay teachers of the Catholic faith examine questions about contraception, abortion, end of life issues, assisted reproductive technologies, and the Sacrament of Marriage.

“The KPA and pharmaceutical companies must have deep concern for health and sound sexual morals of the youth and not just focus on their profits,” said the bishop in May. “[T]hough it is a long and difficult way, we have to walk together towards respect for life and sound sexual morality.”

Reprinted with permission from HLIWorldWatch.org

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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 more than $400 million 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.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

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

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
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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