Peter Baklinski

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Supreme Court muzzles free speech in Canada, rules against Christian pro-family activist

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

OTTAWA, Ontario, 27 February, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canada’s top court has released a unanimous decision today that critics say has struck a monumental blow against freedom of speech, opinion, and religion across the country. The court ordered the defendant, a Christian pro-family activist with a reputation for intense activism, not only to pay a fine, but also to pay court costs which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s a bad day,” said Bill Whatcott to LifeSiteNews.com in an interview. “The ruling and the reasoning [behind it] is terrible. They actually used the concept that truth is not a defense.”

“It’s worse than I expected. What it means is that my life is over, as I know it. It means that the Christian Church is going to be libel for speaking the truth,” he said.

In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, the Supreme Court decided that born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech for distributing flyers to neighborhoods in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. While the flyers used vehement language against homosexual practices and the homosexual agenda, they did not directly attack homosexual persons. (The flyers are appended to the end of the decision linked above)

The Court focused on Whatcott’s main argument, namely that he loves homosexuals with a brotherly Christian love, and it is only their sexual activity that he denounces.

But the Supreme Court found that with regards to hate speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies.

“I agree that sexual orientation and sexual behaviour can be differentiated for certain purposes,” the Court stated. “However, in instances where hate speech is directed toward behaviour in an effort to mask the true target, the vulnerable group, this distinction should not serve to avoid s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-crime clause of the Code].”

“Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the Court stated.

The Court ordered Whatcott to pay the Human Rights Commission’s legal fees and to pay $7,500 in compensation to two homosexuals who were offended by his flyers.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, called the ruling “very depressing” and “bad news”.

Landolt accused the Supreme Court of “dancing on hot coals, one foot here and one foot there, trying to pretend that they’re doing one thing, but doing another.”

“On the one hand they’re saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no, we’re not really infringing on freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom of opinion’, but in fact, what they say is not what they’ve done,” she said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

“In effect, what they’ve done is they’ve hit-out at religious beliefs and promoted again, as is constantly happening, homosexual rights.”

“They’ve picked up ‘sexual orientation’ and slammed ‘religious freedom’ with it and given it a big wallop as with a baseball bat,” she said.

Landolt said that the Court has damaged freedom of religion by “manipulating and twisting” the whole intent of this freedom “to serve their own objective which is to protect homosexuals.”

She said that Christians had better take the ruling as a “warning sign” that they are going to be “pounced on” if they decide to speak about Christian sexual morality in the public square.

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) said it is concerned over the Court’s equating homosexual activity with homosexual persons.

“A key teaching of Christianity is to hate the sin, but love the sinner,” said CCRL president Phil Horgan, pointing out that as a society, “we incarcerate convicted persons for their crimes, not out of hate for the individual.”

“But with Whatcott, the SCC has stated that criticism of behaviour(s) can be treated as potentially hateful speech against the minority. Will criticism of activities at gay pride parades be treated similarly? Will criticism of certain homosexual sexual activities be now conflated as an example of hate speech of an individual or minority? This conflation of behaviour with the person or group, is a proposition at odds with most religious teachings, and of concern coming from our highest court.”

Chris Schafer, Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) executive director and lawyer, said that the “Supreme Court missed an excellent opportunity to rein in the power of various human rights commissions and tribunals to censor the expression of unpopular beliefs and opinions.”

“Free expression is the lifeblood of democracies and all forms of expression, especially the offensive kind, needs to be protected. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court disagrees,” he said.

André Schutten, legal counsel for the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), said he was disappointed with the ruling since the Court decided to “keep as constitutional” the ambiguous hate-crimes language of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, which prohibits any representation “that exposes or tends to expose to hatred” persons on the basis of a prohibited ground.

Schutten told LifeSiteNews.com that upholding such language is “problematic” since “hatred is an emotion that cannot be easily and objectively measured.”

Schutten said that the ruling means that Christians will now be “less likely to engage in political debate from their viewpoint, which means that Christians are kept out of the political process”. He said that the ruling will also hamper Christians in preaching the “full Gospel”.

“The preaching of the Gospel requires that we know what the Good News is. And the Good News is that we’re saved. But in order to understand that we are saved, we have to know what we are saved from. So, when we are preaching the Gospel, that includes preaching about sin. And sin is always going to be offensive to some people. When we talk about sin, some people will interpret that as hateful.”

Schutten said that the ruling “puts a chill on religious expression and any expression.”

Ezra Levant from Sun News has predicted that the ruling will inundate Human Rights Commissions with hate-speech based complaints.

“You will see a boom in the Human Rights Commission business because the law is so vague and the Supreme Court is saying: ‘Yeah, you can go after someone if they say something hateful’. We are going to see an explosion of hate-speech complaints out there,” he said.

Whatcott agrees. He told LifeSiteNews.com that the ruling will embolden homosexual activists to file complaints against those who raise a voice against sexual anarchy.

Despite the ruling, Whatcott said that he will continue to “publicly witness against homosexuality” since he sees it has “God’s will” in his life. The Christian activist is soliciting prayers from people of faith so that he will receive the spiritual support needed to get through this time.


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
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Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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