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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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

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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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