LifeSiteNews staff

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Sweden revokes parental rights of homeschooling family after three year ordeal

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff
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This article was written by staff at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

December 12, 2012, (HSLDA.org)—On Monday, December 10, 2012, also International Human Rights Day, a Swedish appeals court reversed a lower court ruling in favor of Annie and Christer Johansson and terminated their parental rights in regard to their son, Domenic.

The boy and his parents were on board a jetliner minutes from departing Sweden for Annie’s home country of India when Domenic was seized in June 2009. The reason authorities initially gave for taking Domenic was that he had been homeschooled.

During subsequent medical evaluations, Domenic was found to have missed some vaccinations and “had cavities” in his teeth.

During the first months following his seizure the parents were only permitted to visit Domenic once every two weeks. This quickly became once every five weeks, and in 2010 all visitations were cut off.

The United States Supreme Court has written that terminating parental rights is the Family Court equivalent of the death penalty. Every party to such an action, the court wrote in Stanley v. Illinois, must be afforded every procedural and substantive due process protection. In American courts this means that clear and convincing evidence, the civil equivalent of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is necessary before parental rights are terminated.

The case of the Johanssons in Sweden demonstrates what can happen when the family is not respected as an integral unit of society.

Hopes Dashed

The parents’ hopes had risen after nearly three-and-a-half years of forced separation from their son when a district court ruled in June 2012 that they would retain their parental rights. Christer and Annie learned shortly thereafter that the Social Welfare Committee had appealed their victory.

According to the family’s attorney, the Social Welfare Committee had ignored a request to review the case for over a year. The law requires that such a request be acted on within four months. However, the agency did not schedule such a review until the appeals court seemed ready to rule on the case.

The December 19 date set for the review will likely be ignored as the social authorities have won their appeal and now have unrestricted guardianship over Domenic.

The case has attracted international attention, and two official representatives of the Indian government attended to observe the proceedings at the appeals court. In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Rakesh Misra, the Indian Embassy to Sweden’s first secretary, made a statement during a break in the hearing.

“I don’t see how they can claim that these are not good parents. My impression is that these are good parents,” he is reported to have told the family’s attorney.

“The Embassy [of India] may send a letter to the Swedish State Department and the Justice Department with our views on the case,” stated Mr. Misra after the case in an interview with a Swedish newspaper, noting that the embassy has full respect for the legal process and will not intervene in it. “However, we believe this is a case where you must carefully weigh both child’s rights and parents’ rights. One also cannot ignore the great cultural and social differences between Sweden and India.”

According to Misra, the embassy became involved in the case on Domenic during the past three months, given that the mission in Norway recently helped resolve a custody dispute concerning two Indian nationals.

“Grave Injustice”

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director for international affairs, called the decision “brutal.”

“The United States Supreme Court has called the termination of parental rights of the Family Court equivalent of the death penalty. After a district court victory we had hoped the end of this nightmare was approaching. At this point we can only hope that the Swedish Supreme Court will intervene to correct this grave injustice,” he said. “The facts have shown Annie and Christer Johansson to be good parents. It is unconscionable that a court in a democratic country like Sweden could find it is in the child’s interests to remain separated from these parents. The pain, suffering and harm done to this family are incalculable.”

Ruby Harrold-Claesson is president of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights. She says this ruling on International Human Rights Day is atrocious.

“This is a despicable act,” she said. “I don’t know how these judges can have done this. The chief judge wrote a strong dissent that I hope will make an impact on the Swedish Supreme Court. We will appeal this horrible decision.”

She added that the family is under unbearable pressure.

“Annie collapsed when she heard the news. How can anyone endure this kind of torture for so long, I don’t know. It’s unbearable to see how the pride of government officials is wrecking the lives of the Johanssons and others like them. These people have broken the law by taking this boy without justification and keeping him for three-and-a-half years. It’s uncivilized.”

Harrold-Claesson told HSLDA that she is filing extensive reports on human rights violations in the child protections systems of all the Nordic countries. As president of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, and as an active practitioner, she is appalled by the way government systems treat families in the Nordic countries.

“Something has to be done,” she said. “Families are being trampled, and the court systems virtually always side with the social workers against families. It is a terrible situation.”

Prayers Needed

Please keep the Johanssons in your thoughts and prayers as their attorneys work for justice. HSLDA is pleased to be able to work on behalf of the Johansson with their Swedish lawyer, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

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If you would like to contribute to humanitarian and legal support for the Johansson family who are under terrific strain, please consider a gift to the Home School Foundation’s International Fund. The Johanssons are in need of all types of support, and HSLDA is working with them and others to keep them going under this terrific stress.

Contact:
United States:
Embassy of Sweden
2900 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Telephone:  (202) 467-2600
Fax: (202) 467-2699
E-mail: ambassaden.washington@gov.se

Canada:
Embassy of Sweden
377 Dalhousie Street, Suite 305
Ottawa ON K1N 9N8
Canada
Telephone:  +1 613 244-8200
Fax: +1 613 241-2277
E-mail: sweden.ottawa@gov.se


Reprinted from the Home School Legal Defense Association.


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Dawkins’ abortion remarks

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
Steve Weatherbe

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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

Steve Weatherbe
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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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