Peter J. Smith

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Who is Rick Perry? - Part II: A Texas governor’s pro-life legacy

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith
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Edited 8.22.2011

This continues from Part One of LSN’s special report: Who is Rick Perry? See Part III,  The case against Rick Perry - pro-life and pro-family concerns

AUSTIN, Texas, August 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Texas governor Rick Perry has stepped onto the national stage, officially announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on Saturday. Perry’s move means that he will face scrutiny on his record, especially from social conservatives looking to see if he will be an asset or a liability on their issues.

When it comes to the life issues, however, Perry has a clear record of promoting the pro-life cause, and is supported by many pro-life leaders, particularly from his own state.

Strong working relationship with pro-life movement

As governor, Rick Perry signed Texas’s informed consent law, the Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2003, and legislation giving unborn children at any point in gestation separate victim status in a crime (the Prenatal Protection Act 2003).

Perry also signed into law a 2005 measure to reorganize the Texas medical board that included two anti-abortion amendments. One amendment included a parental consent consent law, the other included a measure restricting abortion after 26 weeks gestation. The law against very late term abortions allows exceptions in the cases where the mother faces substantial risk of death, “imminent, severe, irreversible brain damage or paralysis,” or if her unborn child has “severe, irreversible brain impairment.”

Perry also made Texas the 10th U.S. state to fund abortion alternatives beginning in 2005.

During the most recent legislative session, Perry declared a new sonogram bill an “emergency” priority, allowing the legislature to swiftly enact the law that requires abortionists to provide women an ultrasound of their unborn child and an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat before making a decision on abortion.

Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life says that the pro-life community in Texas has enjoyed a “productive and successful relationship with Gov. Perry” for more than a decade, ever since he was elected the state’s Lieutenant Governor in 1998. That position made him president of the state Senate, and Graham said Perry first acted to “restructure the committees in the state Senate so pro-life bills could pass.”

The move, according to Graham, allowed pro-life advocates to bypass hostile Senate leaders and finally get pro-life legislation to the desk of then-Gov. George W. Bush, beginning with a bill requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

“He is very sympathetic, he’s been a very proactive leader in Texas for the [pro-life] cause,” said Graham.

She added that Perry “recognizes that human life begins at fertilization” and is an outspoken defender of human life. Graham added that she was not aware of a time that Perry supported legal abortion; he has been an evangelical Christian since his youth.

She added that Perry has “personally intervened” to help move pro-life legislation forward, and remove legislative obstacles. In the case of one bill, SB 7, Graham said Perry stepped in to give pro-life advocates time to close a loophole in the bill that would have permitted Medicaid funding for abortion in cases of fetal abnormality.

Tenth Amendment, states’ rights, and judges

Perry adheres to a strong 10th amendment, or states rights philosophy, especially on abortion. The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution iterates that either the states or the people retain governmental powers not explicitly given to the federal government in the Constitution.

Perry has made the case that the states would be in a better position to defend the unborn than the federal government, which has been a prime donor to the abortion industry at home, through subsidizing Planned Parenthood, or funding abortion groups overseas.

The U.S. Supreme Court curtailed the power of the states to restrict or regulate abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, making abortion a constitutional right, and therefore a federal issue. This has prevented states from passing pro-life laws that would greatly restrict or ban abortion.

Perry, however, has said that while he believes abortion is a matter for the states, he would support a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Such an amendment would be consistent with his states-based approach, because it would require the common consent of three-quarters of the States and supermajorities in both chambers of Congress.

Graham said that based on her experience, Perry “would be supportive of any measures that Congress sent to his desk that would protect the sanctity of innocent human life.”

She added that Perry also has a proven record of appointing state judges and state Supreme Court justices who interpret the laws and state constitution with a strict constructionist view. Graham said that Perry’s “important legacy” is the mark he has made in shaping the state’s judiciary, making pro-life legislation less susceptible to being struck down by activist judges. 

Pro-life efforts on behalf of stem-cell research

Perry has supported adult stem-cell research, touting its effectiveness over embryonic stem-cell research, which he has opposed. Recently he highlighted the successful medical application of adult stem cells with his own July 1 back surgery. Perry spokesman Mark Miner called told the Texas Tribune in a statement that doctors made “innovative use of [Perry’s] own adult stem cells” to aid the healing process.

Perry has lobbied adult stem cell companies to make their home in Texas.

The Tribune reports Perry wrote the Texas Medical Board that he wanted Texas to “become the world’s leader in the research and use of adult stem cells” and that the board should consider when they write their new rules on stem cell treatments “the revolutionary potential that adult stem cell research and therapies have on our nation’s health, quality of life and economy.”

According to the Tribune, Perry called on state leaders to invest in adult stem cell companies in his 2009 State of the State address, and that same year he awarded grants totaling $7.5 million to adult stem cell pioneers Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Regenerative Medicine and America Stem Cell through Texas’s Emerging Technology Fund.

The governor has also advocated banning human cloning, and has pledged to veto any measure that would provide state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

Perry’s high-profile pro-life leadership

Perry has made personal appearances at rallies and events to promote the pro-life cause.

Perry spoke before 5,000 Hispanic pro-life advocates at Eduardo Verástegui’s recent United for Life (Unidos por la Vida) event in Los Angeles. There he condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, saying “50 million children have lost their chance at life—a tragic legacy of judicial activism and a stark reminder that our culture and our country are still in peril.”

The Texas governor spoke at a Heroic Media fundraiser along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2010, lamenting that the United States “is in the business of exporting abortion.”

“I’m not happy about that,” said Perry. Tying in his 10th amendment philosophy to the pro-life agenda, he added, “Too bad we can’t protect [unborn children] from the federal government.”

Perry also spoke at Texas’s Rally for Life on January 22, and praised the state for having “taken great strides in protecting the unborn.”

The governor also issued a proclamation naming April as “Abortion Recovery Awareness Month,” making him one of the few U.S. governors to do so.

Next in Part Three: The case against Rick Perry - pro-life and pro-family concerns


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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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