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Americorps members illegally used tax funds to act as abortion ‘doulas’: federal report

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – For two years, Americorps “volunteers” illegally used taxpayer dollars to take part in or aid abortions, according to a federal watchdog agency.

“Between 2013 and 2015, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)…allowed a few AmeriCorps members to provide emotional support (doula care) to women during abortion procedures at three New York City clinics operated by the Institute for Family Health (IFH),” according to a new report released today by the Office of Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service (OIG-CNCS). The report notes, “The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (the Serve America Act), the Federal statute authorizing the AmeriCorps program, expressly prohibits the use of AmeriCorps resources to 'provid[e] abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.'”

Yet a major Americorps grant recipient, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) authorized six Americorps “volunteers” to carry out their work with the abortion facilities, the report says.

The OIG found that NACHC's “senior management” covered up multiple “instances of waste, fraud and abuse” within the program.

The CNCS issued a statement saying it is “deeply disappointed” that the NACHC “authorized national service participants to perform prohibited activities…The grantee broke the law and violated the spirit of national service.”

However, this is not the first time Americorps, the national service initiative created by President Bill Clinton, has seen its members illegally take part in abortion-related activities.

The report notes that the NACHC had always played fast-and-loose with the rules. It “disregarded the direction of CNCS’s General Counsel in 2010 to include in its training materials and member agreements the abortion prohibition precisely as stated in the Serve America Act,” the report states. “Instead, NACHC adopted a narrower restriction.”

In 2011, investigators discovered that two Americorps members had completed nine months of “service” at a Planned Parenthood in New York City. Their actions allegedly violated federal laws prohibiting Americorps volunteers from "attempting to influence legislation" and "organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes."

Following the incident, then-acting CEO of CNCS, Robert Velasco II, testified before Congress that CNCS would “continuously improve our accountability” by “instituting new practices in the prevention, detection, and enforcement of prohibited activities.”

Critics say the latest incident proves that more needs to be done.

“I am outraged by the terrible misuse of taxpayer dollars under the direction of the National Association of Community Health Centers,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK. “Abortion-related procedures should never be funded by taxpayers. Given these disturbing developments, I believe this grantee should be immediately terminated from the HealthCorps program.”

Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, said she was personally hurt by today's revelation that the abortions took place in federally qualified health centers, another potential violation of the law.

“I have long highlighted the work of our nation’s community health centers as an alternative to the big-abortion business of Planned Parenthood and its related groups,” Congresswoman Black said. She said she is “heartbroken” to learn that the NACHC “allowed AmeriCorps volunteers to promote abortion in violation of federal law. NACHC didn’t just break the rules; they broke trust with the American people.”

After multiple breaches of federal law relating to abortion over several years, “extraordinary measures would be required to restore confidence in NACHC’s ability to manage the substantial federal funds entrusted to them,” the new OIG report says.

Others say the problem is not restricted to one grant recipient. Americorps pays participants an annual stipend of approximately $13,000 plus health care insurance to “volunteer” in government-approved causes for up to a year. Afterwards, they receive a scholarship for the full amount of the Pell Grant.

Critics say the volunteers are little more than politically active bureaucrats, paid at taxpayer expense. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) called for “a complete re-examination – if not the elimination – of the AmeriCorps program” and, two years later, charged its activists with “mimicking the work of lobbyists and political organizers for agenda-driven community organizations."

Nonetheless, the most recent $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, passed by Republican legislators last December, increased funding for Americorps by $50.58 million and added another $10.382 million for the National Service Trust, which funds scholarships for Americorps “volunteers.”

It also fully funded Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Black is demanding the CNCS take action at once. “Our laws protecting the unborn today are tragically minimal, but they must mean something,” she said, “and when they are not followed, consequences must be enforced.”

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Over 750,000 pledge to boycott Target for giving men access to women’s bathrooms

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By Claire Chretien

April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—Over 750,000 people have pledged to boycott Target over the company’s new policy allowing men to use women’s bathrooms.

The American Family Association, which launched the petition, says the fact that it’s generated such a large response in only five days shows how outraged Americans are.

“American families are concerned about their wives and daughters being harmed by predators or voyeurs who will now have more freedom to enter women’s bathrooms,” AFA president Tim Wildmon.

“There are many more sex offenders in America than transgender people, so we believe that Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the transgender community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided, as AFA has proposed.”

Target announced its new policy last week, writing in a statement that it would allow people to use bathrooms based on their self-determined “gender identity” and not biological reality.

“Everyone deserves to feel like they belong.  And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target,” the company wrote in its statement announcing the new policy.

Clearly, the more than 759,000 people who have promised to boycott Target over this issue don’t feel that the company respects or welcomes them and their views on men in women’s bathrooms and vice versa.

Target spokeswoman Molly Synder defended the new policy as “inclusive,” despite the fact that many Target stores already offer “single-stall, family bathrooms for those who may be more comfortable with that option.”

Pro-family leaders have repeatedly warned that policies allowing men unrestricted access to women’s restrooms facilitate predatory behavior toward vulnerable women and children.

“Target's policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims,” AFA’s petition says.  “And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?”

Over the past several years, there have been numerous cases of men using transgender bathroom policies as an excuse to enter women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities like locker rooms. 

For example, in February, a Seattle man entered a swimming pool changing room and undressed in front of a young girls’ swim team, claiming he had the right to do so under transgender policies.

In 2014, a man was jailed after entering Ontario women’s shelters posing as a woman and subsequently committing sexual assault.  He was a convicted rapist and had a history of criminal sexual abuse.

Nearly a year ago at a Missouri Target, a man was arrested for illegally filming women in a dressing room.

Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania man was charged with invasion of privacy for spying on a 10-year-old girl in the bathroom.  He allegedly spent an hour in the women’s restroom viewing pornography and was later charged for possession of child pornography.

Unisex bathrooms are a “common-sense approach” and “reasonable solution” to the issue of transgendered customers, the petition suggests.  “Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided.”

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Sandra Merritt with Harry Mihet, Chief Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel (L), and Mat Staver is on the left and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver (R) Courtesy of Liberty Counsel
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Pro-lifers launch campaign to support Center for Medical Progress journalist Sandra Merritt

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By Claire Chretien

April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Supporters of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) have launched a campaign to assist CMP journalist Sandra Merritt, who is facing legal action for exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of fetal body parts. 

The crowdfunding campaign on WonderWe seeks to raise $25,000 for Merritt, who was indicted for falsifying IDs and offering to purchase fetal organs.  Planned Parenthood has not been indicted despite CMP capturing its executives on camera discussing the sales of aborted baby parts, an apparent violation of federal law.

Merritt has received hate mail, threats, and media scrutiny and faced heavy financial losses, according to the campaign.

“The indictment and lawsuits have put both emotional and monetary strain on Sandra,” the campaign says.  “As someone who is self-employed, this has taken a heavy toll on Sandra’s finances.”

“Media outfits and reporters were staked outside Sandra’s home for periods of time, which adversely impacted her home-based business,” Merritt’s attorney Harry Mihet, the Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, told LifeSiteNews.  “She has been denounced as a ‘criminal,’ ‘crook’ and ‘thug’ by Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice blogosphere.  She is now required to routinely fly half-way across [the] country to Houston for various hearings” and status conferences, Mihet said.

On Tuesday, Liberty Counsel filed two separate motions asking a federal court to dismiss the retaliatory lawsuit against Merritt and punish Planned Parenthood for attempting to silence Merritt’s First Amendment rights.  The court is currently scheduled to hear both motions in San Francisco on July 6, 2016.

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Mihet said that Merritt also “has to attend court proceedings in San Francisco, and submit to intrusive ‘discovery requests’ from Planned Parenthood regarding her pro-life work and advocacy.  Planned Parenthood has indicated that it seeks at least $10 to $16 million in ‘damages’ from [Merritt] and the other defendants.”

Mihet asked that pro-lifers pray for Merritt and Liberty Counsel. 

“Ask the Lord to strengthen her and to make His presence felt to her during the tough times that lie ahead,” said Mihet.

Mihet noted that Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit isn’t scheduled to take place until December 2017 and until then, Merritt will be required to submit to intrusive discovery requests, depositions, and hearings.

“Undoubtedly, the process itself is a punishment that Planned Parenthood seeks to visit upon [Merritt],” said Mihet.

Numerous pro-life leaders have endorsed the campaign, including Live Action President Lila Rose, Operation Rescue President and Founding Board Member of the Center for Medical Progress Troy Newman, Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life, Brian Schardt of Catholic Funder, and former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson.

“Sandra Merritt is a courageous woman who revealed to the world the butchery of children that occurs every day inside Planned Parenthood abortion clinics,” Johnson wrote in her endorsement of the campaign.  “Now America’s largest abortion provider is suing Sandra to silence her.  And Sandra faces a bogus criminal charge in Houston for common journalistic investigative reporting.  Sandra will not be silenced.  She has risked everything in order to shine a light on Planned Parenthood’s illegal harvesting and sale of baby body parts.  We must stand with Sandra and stand against the bullies who seek to destroy and silence her.”

“Sandra Merritt may be the most courageous woman in the United States,” author and radio host Jennifer Fulwiler wrote in an endorsement of the campaign.  “Sandra’s expose has crippled Planned Parenthood.  But now Planned Parenthood is firing both barrels in Sandra’s face and she needs our help more than ever.  My friend, Sandra, was there for the unborn babies. Now we need to be there for her!”

Terri Johannessen, the Florida State Director of Concerned Women for America, wrote that Merritt “was an ordinary woman who is now in an extraordinary situation.”  Merritt wasn’t a pro-life activist or a part of the pro-life movement before her involvement with CMP, Johannessen wrote, and didn’t realize the potential legal ramifications of exposing Planned Parenthood’s baby parts trafficking. 

“Sandra is a courageous Christian who answered the call to step out of her comfort zone and to do what she can to expose the evil work and practices of Planned Parenthood,” Mihet said.  “She will not be intimidated by Planned Parenthood or anyone else seeking to punish her for exercising her First Amendment freedoms…she will stand strong.”

Donate here to support Sandra Merritt against Planned Parenthood!

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Obama in the UK: ‘Some’ people who support bathroom privacy laws are ‘good people’

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By Ben Johnson

CHARLOTTE, April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – President Obama denounced laws in North Carolina and Mississippi during a trip to Great Britain, adding that “some” of the people who support those laws are good people.

The UK Foreign Office has issued a travel advisory to LGBT British citizens visiting North Carolina and Mississippi after those states passed new laws - one restricting restrooms and shower facilities to members of the same biological sex and another respecting religious freedom.

During a press conference last Friday with Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said the two are “beautiful states” full of “wonderful people,” where visitors from Great Britain would be treated with "extraordinary hospitality."

However, “the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.”

The laws, he said, had been passed only “in response to politics in part, and part some strong emotions that are generated by people, some of whom are good people.”

Supporters of the two popular measures took umbrage at the president striking out against “commonsense” state laws while on foreign soil.

“You'd think President Obama would understand the importance of this protection having two young girls, but clearly he doesn't prioritize their or any other girls safety in the country,” Kami Mueller of the North Carolina Values Coalition told LifeSiteNews. “Our leaders in North Carolina passed H.B. 2 to address this harmful Charlotte bathroom ordinance, because nearly 70 percent of North Carolinians see the real danger in allowing grown men to share bathrooms and showers with little girls. It's just common sense.”

State residents are concerned that predators could take advantage of new “civil rights” ordinances by pretending to be transgender and gain access to females in private settings.

“Abuse and harm is not mere speculation,” Mueller told LifeSiteNews. “There are documented cases around the country where men are using laws like the former Charlotte ordinance to gain access to women's restrooms to harm and even sexually assault young girls.”

In Washington state, biological males have repeatedly stripped in front of young girls as young as six years old inside women's locker rooms.

In Canada, where similar policies have been in effect for years, men have been arrested for posing as “transgender” to sexually assault women.

“The president should keep his hands out of the internal affairs of North Carolina,” Mueller added.

The last time President Obama weighed in on a North Carolina issue in 2012, he said that state voters should reject Amendment One, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Voters approved it by a landslide margin of 61 to 39 percent in May 2012.

The president is practiced at mounting foreign platforms to denounce U.S. laws of which he disapproves. In 2010, he used the first-ever U.S. report to the UN Human Rights Council to denounce an Arizona law that allowed local officials to help the federal government enforce existing immigration laws.

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Minnesota parents sue school for refusing to teach 5-year-olds about transgenderism

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By Claire Chretien

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—The parents of a kindergartener are suing his former charter school for refusing to teach about transgenderism, which they say violated their son’s rights. 

David and Hannah Edwards partnered with an organization called Gender Justice to file a complaint with the city’s Department of Human Rights.  The complaint alleges that Nova Classical Academy denied their son’s “right to undergo a gender transition in a safe and timely way” and “failed to protect students from gender-based bullying and hostility” by not “conduct[ing] gender education,” allowing families to opt-out of classroom instruction on transgenderism, refusing to inform their son’s classmates of his “preferred” gender pronouns, and not allowing a pro-transgender book to be part of the kindergarteners’ classroom instruction.

The Edwards parents allege that when their five-year-old son “expressed a consistent, persistent, and insistent desire to socially transition from male to female,” they met with Nova Classical administrators and the school attorney and devised a plan to implement the boy’s “transition” to a girl in the classroom.

Yet other parents expressed concerns about their kindergarteners learning about transgenderism, which caused the school to withdraw its plans to send a letter “home to kindergarten families notifying them of the transition,” use the book I am Jazz in each kindergarten classroom, and provide “communications for any families who asked about opting out of the classroom education, to direct them to equivalent content and to outline behavior expectations.”

The school’s existing anti-bullying policy was not enough, according to the parents.  Because of Nova Classical’s refusal to implement the gender confusion-confirming curriculum, the Edwards parents withdrew their son from the school and are now pursuing legal action against it.  The school’s actions amounted to discrimination “on the basis of her gender identity and expression,” the complaint claims. 

Many on the left have long advocated for children to be instructed that biological reality is irrelevant when it comes to gender.  A lobbying group in the UK has advocated that children as young as three be taught about transgenderism, and school districts across the U.S. have faced pressure to include lessons about “gender identity” and homosexuality in their sex ed curriculums. 

“The depth of the confusion regarding this issue is revealed in the comment by Dave Edwards in reference to his son, who was born a healthy male,” wrote D.C. McAllister at The Federalist. “‘We don’t label him. He’s not anything.’ The fact is, he is ‘something.’ The child is a male who is confused about his gender. To play along with this psychological confusion instead of helping the child in a supportive and loving way to bring his thinking into alignment with reality is a form of child neglect, something no school should support.”

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Woman convicted of faking cancer to have state pay for late-term abortion

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By Dave Andrusko
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Chalice Renee Zeitner

April 26, 2016 (National Right to Life News) -- A jury in Arizona has convicted Chalice Renee Zeitner of faking a cancer diagnosis in a scheme to get the state to pay for the 2010 abortion of her 22-week-old unborn baby.

Zeitner was arrested in Georgia in May 2015 where authorities said she was using the alias Al Serkez. All told the 30-year-old Zeitner was convicted on 11 counts, including fraudulent schemes, identity theft, theft, attempted theft, and forgery.

“Investigators say the scheme was discovered a year after the April 2010 abortion when a doctor who performed a C-section during Zeitner’s subsequent pregnancy found no signs of cancer,” according to the Associated Press. “Another doctor who was listed on medical records as having treated Zeitner for cancer later said he never treated her.”

Zeitner was enrolled in an Arizona health care program which would pay for abortion in very limited conditions, such as when the mother’s life is endangered. She did not mention cancer when she applied, prosecutors said.

Zeitner tried her scam twice. She first told her doctor in 2010 

that her fetus had been exposed to radiation. After a specialist found her fetus was healthy, they say Zeitner didn’t give up the alleged scheme and forged a letter from another doctor that stated her pregnancy had to be terminated to save her life.

Undeterred, she forged a letter from another doctor which read that the abortion was necessary to save her life.

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“Zeitner allegedly claimed before her abortion that she had stage IV cancer in her abdomen and lower spine and told her obstetrician that she was scheduled to resume cancer treatment at a hospital in Boston,” the AP reported.

The other many charges she was convicted of included defrauding charities for military vets and “using a fake identity on social media to convince her boyfriend to set up a fundraising website for her cancer treatments,” according to the AP.

Reprinted with permission from National Right to Life News.

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Aaron and Melissa Klein, the former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, argue in a brief to the Oregon Court of Appeals that the ruling against them was biased and unconstitutional. Daily Signal/Patchbay Media
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Oregon Christian bakers file appeal over $135,000 ‘gag order’ for refusing gay ‘marriage’ cake

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April 26, 2016 (DailySignal) -- The Oregon bakers who were ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding filed a brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals on Monday, arguing the ruling against them was biased and violates both the Oregon and U.S. constitutions.

“In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, the group representing Aaron and Melissa Klein in their legal fight. “Commissioner Brad Avakian decided the Kleins were guilty before he even heard their case. This is an egregious violation of the Kleins’ rights to due process. We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will remedy this by dismissing the government’s case against the Kleins.”

Brad Avakian, commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, was responsible for issuing the final ruling on the case. On July 2, 2015, he ruled that in declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding due to their religious beliefs, the Kleins violated an Oregon law that prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation against people based on their sexual orientation.

Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in mental, physical, and emotional damages to the couple whom they denied service.

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer (who have since married) filed a complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore., in February 2013, a month after the Kleins refused to make a cake for the same-sex couple’s wedding.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries opened its investigation into Sweet Cakes by Melissa in August 2013, six months after the agency received the initial complaint from Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer alleging the bakery owners discriminated against them.

Yet, in the appeal brief filed Monday, lawyers for the Kleins argued that Avakian had publicly declared the Kleins guilty before even waiting for an investigation to take place, citing a Feb. 5, 2013, Facebook post.

In that post, Avakian writes, “Everyone has a right to their religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean they can disobey laws that are already in place. Having one set of rules for everybody ensures that people are treated fairly as they go about their daily lives.”

In August 2013, after the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced it was opening an investigation to determine whether the Kleins had discriminated against the same-sex couple, Avakian also commented about the case, suggesting he had already decided that the Kleins were guilty. “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs,” he said in an interview with The Oregonian, “but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate.”

“The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate,” Avakian added.

Ken Klukowski, an attorney at First Liberty, told The Daily Signal that “it’s clear” Avakian demonstrated bias “that rises to the level of violating due process.”

In addition to ruling the Kleins must pay $135,000, Avakian also ordered the former bakery owners to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.

“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication … to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Avakian wrote in the final order.

The justification for this part of his final order originates from an interview Aaron and Melissa Klein participated in with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins in 2014. During the interview, Aaron said that they, “don’t do same-sex weddings,” and “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”

Avakian wrote those statements demonstrate a “prospective intent to discriminate.”

“This gag order that they’re under right now, where they have been ordered by the government that they can’t even discuss these things with the media,” Klukowski said, “is shockingly overbroad.”

“There are aspects of their beliefs and of this case, including aspects of their religious beliefs about marriage, that if they were to share these things publicly, that the government could punish them, saying that it amounts to the equivalent of advertising their intention to continue engaging in illegal discrimination,” Klukowski said.

“That censors so much protected speech.”

The punishment for violating the order is “notoriously unspecific,” Klukowski added. Because of that, lawyers for the Kleins are treading carefully on what they allow their clients to do and say in public.

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“This is a couple with young children and where the law does not specify what the most severe penalty could be where as far as we know, the sky could be the limit, that’s where we owe it to our clients to err on the side of caution and try to shield them from additional exposure that could have consequences of unspecified severity,” he said.

In reviewing the appeal, the Oregon Appeal Court will determine whether or not the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries violated the Kleins’ constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process.

The Kleins maintain that they did not decline the same-sex couple due to their sexual orientation—stating in the brief that they have served one of the women who filed the complaint against them in the past. Instead, they maintain they were only declining to participate in an event that they disagree with because of their Christian beliefs about marriage.

Avakian ruled there is “no distinction” between the two situations.

Klukowski said he expects oral arguments to take place later this year. If the Oregon Court of Appeals rules against the Kleins, the next step would be appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Signal.

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Planned Parenthood should pay pro-life investigator’s costs, all charges should be dismissed: new complaint

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By Ben Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Not only are Planned Parenthood's charges against the journalist who exposed its fetal organ harvesting practices baseless, but the abortion provider should pay her court costs as punishment for trying to squelch her free speech, her attorneys said today.

Liberty Counsel represents Sandra Merritt, who posed as “Susan Tennenbaum, CEO of Biomax,” to capture undercover footage of Planned Parenthood representatives discussing how they alter the abortion procedure to obtain the specific aborted babies' organs requested by researchers, as well as haggling over the price for rendering such services.

The attorneys filed two motions to dismiss Planned Parenthood's case against her and demand that Planned Parenthood pay Merritt's costs yesterday with federal Judge William Orrick, who was named to the bench in 2013 by President Obama.

One legal complaint calls Planned Parenthood's lawsuit “a meritless claim aimed...at chilling expression and bedrock First Amendment liberties.”

As a result, “she should be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs” directly from Planned Parenthood's bank account.

"Sandra has bravely stood up to a heavily funded corporation and exposed the truth of their brutal practices. She should be rewarded, not punished by our legal system,” said Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver.

A separate motion asks Judge Orrick to dismiss Planned Parenthood's lawsuit, saying the nation's largest abortion chain lacks standing to bring the case and has failed to establish any of its legal allegations.

Much of Planned Parenthood's involvement can be dismissed, it says, because any of Merritt and David Daleiden's purported crimes involved their recording of the National Abortion Federation's annual convention in April 2014. That may allow NAF to object, but not Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood cannot claim an “invasion of privacy” because, as a business, it has no such expectation, it says. “Plaintiffs here are not seeking to vindicate their patients’ rights to obtain an abortion,” the complaint says, “but to vindicate a purported right of privacy in their own corporate business transactions.”

Claims that Merritt and Daleiden engaged in unfair business practices are erroneous, the complaint states, because their meetings with Planned Parenthood officials “did not yield any agreements or transactions.”

Planned Parenthood has said that, by using a false name and identification, the pair of investigative journalists gained fraudulent access to their premises, where they videotaped dissections of unborn children and discussions of the amount of money Planned Parenthood receives, seemingly without incurring any expense, a possible federal felony.

The attorneys quoted a previous court ruling that stated, “in a case where consent was fraudulently induced, but consent was nonetheless given, plaintiff has no claim for trespass.”

Finally, they say Merritt and Daleiden cannot be held responsible for any alleged damage the revelations caused to Planned Parenthood's bottom line, because it is the abortion provider's own fault.

“It is the discussions of altering abortion procedures and harvesting and selling baby body parts revealed in the videos, not Ms. Merritt’s identification of herself as Susan Tennenbaum of BioMax, that caused any purported business injuries alleged by” Planned Parenthood, including numerous state and federal investigations that the organization's national officers teach affiliates how to skirt the law, they wrote.

The case is scheduled to be heard on July 6. But whatever happens, the Center for Medical Progress will not relent.

"Sandra is not intimidated by Planned Parenthood's bullies,” said Harry Mihet, chief litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel. “Their efforts to hide the truth and chill free speech will fail."

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16 ‘pro-LGBT’ businesses that operate in countries with poor human rights records

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April 26, 2016 (DailySignal) -- Big corporations have come out to criticize state religious liberty measures in Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina as discriminating against those who aren’t heterosexual, some going as far as to propose boycotting states that enact such laws.

However, several of the most vocal companies that say they stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans also operate in countries with troubling human rights records, including places where homosexuality can result in a death sentence, a review by The Daily Signal shows.

Details on the fate of the measures in Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina are below. The following is a list of 16 corporations that publicly attacked religious liberty measures in one or more of the three states, yet do business in countries that blatantly and sometimes brutally discriminate against LGBT citizens or otherwise have a poor record of defending human rights:

1. Unilever

Unilever CEO Paul Polman tweeted that many businesses would boycott Georgia if its HB 757 religious liberty bill were signed by the governor:

The multinational corporation earned top marks by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s most influential gay rights groups, in what it calls its 2016 Corporate Equality Index for LGBT Workplace Equality.

However, Unilever North Africa Middle East has production facilities in countries such as Tunisia and Algeria. A 2015 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association indicates that those countries make homosexual activity illegal.

Unilever did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

2. Microsoft

Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith tweeted that he supported opposition to Georgia’s HB 757.

The tech giant complies with government search engine censorship policies in China, according to Human Rights Watch. Microsoft and other search engine companies argue that just by operating within the borders of the communist state, they make China freer.

A corporate document describes freedom of expression as a fundamental right, but states “restrictions on free expression and privacy should only be imposed where necessary, narrowly tailored and provided for by law—and we are opposed to restrictions on peaceful political expression.”

Microsoft did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

3. Intel

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich tweeted in opposition to the Georgia bill:

Intel has partnered with the Vietnamese government to develop education, environment, and “digital inclusion programs.” Human Rights Watch describes Vietnam as a one-party communist state that “bans all independent political parties, labor unions, and human rights organizations.”

Like Microsoft, Intel says it bases its human rights policies on United Nations standards to “avoid complicity in human right violations related to our own operations, our supply chain, and our products.”

Intel did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

4. Live Nation

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino voiced his opposition to the Georgia bill on Twitter.

After rock musicians Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams canceled shows in protest of recently enacted religious liberty laws, Live Nation said in a statement regarding the North Carolina legislation that it “supports our artists’ efforts to take a stand against this exclusionary and unfair law.”

Live Nation’s corporate website says it celebrates diversity, “ensuring all our work environments are those in which people are free to be themselves and celebrate what makes them great.” However, the international conglomerate hosts events and manages venues in countries, including the United Arab Emirates, which prohibit homosexual behavior. 

Live Nation did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

5. The Weinstein Co.

The big film studio threatened to move production of its Richard Pryor biopic out of Georgia if HB 757 were enacted.

A Weinstein Co. movie, “Shanghai,” was set to be filmed in China, which is accused of hostile policies toward LGBT citizens, before production was moved to London and Thailand.

The company’s 2015 film “No Escape” also was  filmed in Thailand, a country that Human Rights Watch argues is in the midst of a “deepening human rights crisis” after a military coup in 2014. “No Escape” was released there only after censorship boards were put into place to approve all films shown in Thailand. 

Human Rights Watch says Thailand’s current government has “banned political activity and peaceful public gatherings; criminalized freedom of expression; made hundreds of arbitrary arrests; and held detainees in incommunicado military detention without safeguards against abuses.”

The Weinstein Co. did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

6. AMC Networks Inc.

AMC Networks Inc., which films the hit television show “The Walking Dead” in Georgia, opposed HB 757. A spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that “discrimination of any kind is reprehensible.”

“We applaud Governor [Nathan] Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well,”  the spokesman said.

AMC broadcasts in Russia, which drew international attention after it enacted a gay “propaganda” law in 2013. A Human Rights report noted an increase in violence and harassment against LGBT citizens in Russia.

AMC Networks Inc. did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

7. Time Warner

Time Warner opposed Georgia’s religious liberty bill, arguing in a statement that the measure “violates the values and principles of inclusion and the ability of all people to live and work free from discrimination.”

Time Warner has expanded its entertainment empire into Singapore, a country that bans homosexual activity, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association report.

Time Warner did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

8. The Walt Disney Co.

The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Marvel Entertainment proposed to boycott Georgia over HB 757.

A company spokesman said, “Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.”

The Walt Disney Co. continues to expand into China—including investing $5.5 billion for a theme park in Shanghai. Human Rights Watch says the communist state has “no law protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Walt Disney Co. did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

9. General Electric Co.

Alex Dimitrief, General Electric’s senior vice president and general counsel, signed an open letter to Mississippi lawmakers urging repeal of the state’s Religious Liberty Accommodations Act.

The letter claims the law’s use of “religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians” does not reflect the “values of our companies.”

GE does business in Saudi Arabia, a country that criminalizes homosexual behavior. In 2014, a Saudi Arabian man was sentenced to three years in jail and 450 lashes for using Twitter to arrange to meet other men.

A GE corporate spokeswoman told The Daily Signal that the company has “zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and oppose laws permitting discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

10. The Coca-Cola Co.

The Coca-Cola Co., based in Atlanta, opposed the state’s religious liberty legislation.

Coca-Cola North America President Sandy Douglas signed a letter condemning the bill proposed in the company’s home state. Douglas then signed another one to Mississippi political leaders, arguing that the state’s recently enacted bill, HB 1523, did not reflect the “values of our companies” by using “religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians.”

In 2006, Coca-Cola’s bottling plants were accused of  interfering with irrigation in regions in India and Latin America experiencing water scarcity. More recently, Coca-Cola reevaluated its sugar supply chain after accusations it was benefiting from unethical land seizures. Its website lists diversity, protecting local land rights, and sustainability as core values.

Coca-Cola did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

11. PayPal

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that the online-payments firm would abandon plans for a new global operations center in Charlotte, N.C.

North Carolina’s “bathroom law,” known as HB2, “perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Schulman said.

The decision, he said, “reflects PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect.”

PayPal continues to offer services in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries where homosexuality may be punished with the death penalty, and in Nigeria, where homosexual conduct may be punished with caning, imprisonment, or death by stoning.

PayPal did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

12. Salesforce

Software firm Salesforce said it would reduce investments in Georgia. “Once again, Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted.

After Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the legislation, Salesforce said it looks forward to “growing both our team and investments in Georgia—including hosting thousands of customers, partners, and employees at our Salesforce Connections event in Atlanta on May 10-12th.”

Salesforce maintains an office in India, where a 15-year-old boy was teased and harassed to the point of lighting himself on fire because he was seen with a male partner.

Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch’s South Asia director, wrote that India’s penal code section 377 “reinforced the idea that discrimination and other mistreatment of LGBT people was acceptable in Indian society.”

The United Nations’ Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization reported that in India, “students who do not conform to gender norms were more likely to suffer from violence in education settings than other ‘sexual minorities.’”  

Salesforce did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

13. Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. opposed Mississippi’s religious liberty bill. The technology giant said the measure, titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, “empowers discrimination.”

Apple also opposed North Carolina’s bill. The company said: “Our future as Americans should be focused on inclusion and prosperity, and not discrimination and division. We were disappointed to see Governor [Pat] McCrory sign this legislation.”

An Apple subsidiary, Apple Computer Trading (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., is located in China—where the government in its Xinjiang region justifies “pervasive ethnic discrimination, severe religious repression, and increasing cultural suppression” in the name of the “‘fight against separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism,’” according to Human Rights Watch.

Apple did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

14. The National Basketball Association

The NBA said it isn’t sure the effect North Carolina’s religious freedom measure will have on its plans to host next year’s All-Star Game in the state.

“We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte,” the NBA said, adding: “The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events.”

In August, the NBA hosted an exhibition game in South Africa.

The U.N. Committee on Human Rights wrote in a report of its concern about South Africa because of “numerous manifestations of racism and xenophobia, including violent attacks against foreign nationals and migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, resulting in deaths, injuries, displacement and property destruction” and other human rights violations.

The NBA did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

15. Netflix

Netflix, the world’s leading Internet television network, threatened to move production if Georgia’s governor signed the bill.

“Netflix is an inclusive company,” a Netflix spokeswoman said, Deadline reported.

“We recently completed two films and a series in Georgia and had planned on filming two series there in the coming months,” Netflix said. “Should any legislation allowing discriminatory practice be signed into state law, we will move our productions elsewhere.”

The Netflix website says it offers services to every country except China, North Korea, Syria, and Crimea.

Libya, home to violations of international law that “may amount to war crimes and other international crimes under international law” is among the many nations that do receive Netflix.

Netflix did not respond to The Daily Signal’s  request for comment.

16. Sony

Sony called the Georgia bill “anathema to our studio and to all those who value diversity and inclusion” and added: “We strongly urge Governor Deal to exercise his veto.”

Breitbart News reported that Sony signed a pledge to boycott Georgia over the measure there.

The media giant has an office in Kazakhstan, where Amnesty International reports that “impunity for torture and other ill-treatment [remain] largely unchallenged” and “freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly [continue] to be restricted.”

Human Rights Watch reports that LGBT citizens in Kazakhstan face a climate of fear “stoked both by the abuses and discrimination they face directly, as well as abuse and discrimination when they try to report rights violations to authorities.”

Sony did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

***

Drawing the most attention in recent weeks were religious liberty bills in Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant early this month signed a bill into law to protect “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” allowing businesses to decline participation in same-sex marriages and to determine who gets access to facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms.

Bryant, a Republican, said in a statement that the law—known as HB 1523—”does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizens of this state,” The Washington Post reported.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory last month signed a measure, known as HB2, requiring individuals to use public restrooms that correspond to their biological sex. McCrory, a Republican, later issued a clarifying executive order “to protect privacy and equality” after receiving a national backlash from some quarters.

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” McCrory said, according to CNN. “But based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal last month vetoed a religious liberty bill, HB 757, arguing that the measure does not reflect Georgia’s image.

Deal, a Republican, also resisted a previous version of the law, saying he would reject any measure that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.”

A summary of the final version states it was designed to ensure the protection of religious liberty, including a provision that allowed faith-based organizations to choose not to employ those who hold contrary beliefs.

Deal said in an April 12 interview that supporters of reviving the legislation must carefully consider whether they wish the state to become embroiled again in national controversy.

“It’s time to take another deep breath. I see what’s happening in North Carolina. I see what’s happening in Mississippi,” he said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And I would hope that many of the ones that are pushing for it would not want the state of Georgia to go through that kind of scenario.”

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Signal.

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Polish doctors deliver baby two months after mom declared ‘brain dead’

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By Natalia Dueholm
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Dr. Andrzej Kűbler, head of the anesthesiology unit at the University Clinic Hospital

Wrocław, Poland, April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Preserving the mother's life is so often used to justify abortion, but one Polish woman wouldn't even let apparent death stop her from giving life to her child.

The woman had an incurable brain tumor and ended up in the University Clinical Hospital in Wrocław. According to media reports, she was 41 years old, 17 weeks pregnant and had known about her disease for ten years. She had decided not to treat it for fear of the complications. Her brain cancer grew, cutting the blood supply to the brain. The doctors diagnosed her as brain dead, but her heart was beating. Along with her husband, they decided to maintain her vital functions to save the unborn baby.

While at that time, the boy was given no chance to survive outside the womb, he is now three-months old, out of the hospital, and safe in his father’s care.

“It was a fight for the baby’s life,” Andrzej Kűbler, the head of the anesthesiology unit at the University Clinic Hospital, said in an interview with RMF FM radio station.

And this victorious battle lasted 55 days before the baby’s birth, and three months after. Doctors delivered the baby by C-section when they thought he could no longer safely remain in his mother’s womb.

Krzysztof Kunert of wpolityce.pl writes that the medical personnel emphasized the father’s role and support in this ordeal. He moved close to the hospital, keeping watch and looking after his family. He also read books to his unborn baby.

The baby was born on January 9, 2016, and had to spend three months in the intensive care unit. The boy, born at the 26th week of pregnancy, weighed just 1kg (2.2 lbs). When he left the hospital, he had grown to 3 kg (6.6 lbs). Now he can eat by himself and is with his father, Barbara Królak Olejnik from the neonatology unit told radio RMF FM.

Professor Bogdan Chazan, a renowned pro-life doctor, praised the mother, who provided oxygen and food to the baby, and the father, for the decision to save the baby’s life. He told Niezależna.pl that the whole process of sustaining the mother’s vital functions was very difficult. Even momentary oxygen deficiency in the baby’s brain could have resulted in his death, he said. Chazan praised the work of the medical staff involved, and optimistically added that, “I have been recently observing more respect for life among obstetricians and gynecologists, and in society in general.”

Cases of keeping mothers artificially alive for the sake of unborn babies rarely happen, and then only with more advanced pregnancies.

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Mary Wagner, still in prison garb, walks down the steps of Old City Hall Court in April 2016 with some of her supporters after being freed following 135 days in jail for a previous arrest. Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews
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Mary Wagner walks free after 135 days in jail for pro-life witness

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Mary Wagner surrounded by pro-life supporters outside Old City Hall April 25 after being released after 135 days in jail. Long time pro-life prisoner of conscience Linda Gibbons is on Mary's right, on her left, Mary Burnie, long time pro-life activist. Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews

Editor's Note: LifeSiteNews has replaced the abortion "doctor's" name below with an asterisk as a result of a court-ordered publication ban. See here for further explanation.

TORONTO, April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner walked out of Old City Hall courtroom Monday after 135 days, or four-and-a-half months, in jail.

Wagner was charged with two counts of breaching a probation order and one of mischief following her December 12, 2015 arrest at the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic, where she had been attempting to counsel women in the waiting room against having an abortion, and handing them red roses.

Following a one-and-a-half day trial on March 10 and 16, Justice Katrina Mulligan convicted Wagner of mischief, but dropped the two charges of breaching a probation order.

Mulligan said on Monday that Wagner had served the maximum time of six months for her mischief conviction at an enhanced credit of 1.5 days to one, and so “you have served the time that I can legally impose on you.”

She placed Wagner on a three-year probation order prohibiting her from being within 100 meters of not only the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic, but all abortion facilities in Ontario.

Mulligan further ordered Wagner to stay away from abortionist Ninia Lupovici, who, with business partner*, operates Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic, an abortion facility housed in the fourth floor of an medical center at 2524 Bloor Street West.

According a Toronto Catholic Witness report, Mulligan dropped the breach of probation charges because, as she told Crown counsel Tania Monteiro March 16, she was not satisfied Wagner’s probation officer had adequately identified Wagner in court.

Moreover, Wagner had not entered a plea, and Mulligan did not have “any evidence that Wagner’s date of birth came from her.”

Therefore, there was “no admissible evidence to compare [Mary Wagner’s] date of birth to the probation orders,” Mulligan concluded. “I find her not guilty of these two charges.”

Wagner had remained silent during the March trial after declaring at the outset she would not be communicating with the court, in solidarity with the voiceless unborn victims of abortion.

Mulligan deferred sentencing until April 25, as Crown lawyer Monteiro stated she would “seek to tender Miss Wagner’s prior record” and provide evidence that Wagner was under two probation orders that she not go within 100 meters of the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic nor within 100 meters of any abortion facility in Ontario.

The majority of time of the Monday’s sentencing hearing was devoted to Monteiro questioning probation officer Liana Mischianti, who testified that Wagner was aware of the two probation orders of June 12, 2014 and May 5, 2015, the conditions of those orders, that she was bound by them, and the consequences of breaching them.

Mulligan noted that she was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Wagner was under two probation orders at the time of her arrest on December 12, 2015.

“I did find your actions in this case to be extremely selfish and narrow minded,” Mulligan told Wagner, and that “you knew exactly what you were doing.”

After Wagner walked out of the courtroom, she thanked the approximately 30 pro-life supporters who attended the hearing, and which included long-time pro-life activists Linda Gibbons and Mary Burnie.

“Linda’s been going to jail for the last 30 years, and Mary has never missed a court day,” Wagner said.

“It’s important to show a message that we’re not just lone zealots, that we believe in life, we believe in the dignity of life,” she told supporters. “To see that in court is a very important witness.”

“It’s not wasted time in court, we pray,” Wagner said.

“The court system is on trial, not us,” noted Gibbons, who has spent 11 years in jail for pro-life witness similar to that of Mary Wagner.

Including this last stint at Milton’s Vanier Centre for Women, Wagner has spent nearly four years in jail for her peaceful attempts to save women and their unborn children from the violence of abortion.

Wagner told Catholic Register reporter Evan Boudreau she will be praying to know what to do next in her pro-life apostolate.

“I'm going to go on a five-day retreat and pray about it and discern how best to respond,” she said.

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Abortionist testifies against Mary Wagner, admits she tried to push Wagner out of clinic
‘I’ve done nothing wrong’: Pro-life prisoner Mary Wagner tells court
Pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner arrested on Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Correction: Justice Mulligan's order included prohibiting Wagner from being within 100 meters of all Ontario abortion facilities, not just Bloor West Village Women's Clinic.

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Health minister reveals how many NHS staff have complained about pro-life ‘protesters’

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By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

April 26, 2016 (SPUC) -- The abortion industry likes to complain about pro-life 'protesters' harassing women outside their clinics.

In fact, they've been using this line of argument to lobby the government to introduce draconian 'buffer-zones' - which would prevent pro-life volunteers from being able to offer peaceful support and life-saving alternatives to mothers in crisis. Key figures in the abortion industry, such as Ann Furedi, argue that this is a necessary restriction on freedom in response to women being harassed routinely on their way to have abortions.

Of course, the reality is very different. Pro-life pavement counsellors are there to offer help, not harassment, to expectant mothers. Many pro-life groups go so far as to require any volunteer to sign a 'statement of peace', committing them to peaceful and compassionate actions alone.

Government admits truth

Last week, a government minister confirmed how many complaints have been received from NHS staff about so-called 'protests' by pro-lifers outside NHS hospitals.

The answer? Zero.

That's right, the Department of Health has received absolutely no complaints from NHS staff on this matter. Not one!

"No representations"

Ben Gummer, a junior health minister, confirmed the fact in a parliamentary answer to a question tabled by Cat Smith MP. Ms Smith asked whether the Secretary of State for Health "has received any representations from NHS staff who feel they are being harassed outside NHS buildings by protesters."

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

Mr Gummer replied: "There have been no representations from National Health Service staff who feel they are being harassed outside NHS buildings by protesters. Although protesters are democratically entitled to make their views known on abortion and other issues and can do so outside NHS hospitals and other NHS buildings, we would condemn any harassment of NHS staff, patients and others."

Suicide vs support

In the last few weeks, SPUC has reported multiple cases where young women have taken their own lives shortly after having an abortion. There is evidence that some, if not all of them, felt pressured into the decision. What might have happened if someone had been there that day to offer them support - would they and their babies still be alive?

We may never know, but certainly we do know that there are women who were given the strength to reject abortion and choose life because of the support offered by pro-life volunteers. In the video below, one such mother explains how pro-life pavement counsellors enabled her to continue her pregnancy:

"Ruthless pursuit of financial goals"

Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, has drawn attention to the financial motivations behind the false rhetoric of abortion leaders:

"The abortion industry's allegations of harassment against peaceful pro-life pavement counsellors indicate how ruthless they are in pursuit of their financial goals - they want to do as many abortions as possible, and they want the NHS to fund them. Many commercial abortion agencies now operate 'abortion franchises' within NHS premises.

"This campaign against pro-life help for mothers was started by commercial abortion companies. They lose substantial fees every time an anxious young woman chooses to give her baby the gift of life, instead of going ahead with an abortion. Abortion agencies offer no alternatives to pregnant mothers - only abortion.

"By contrast, pro-life pavement counsellors offer women free help, motivated by love of mothers and babies. They reach out to women in a lawful and quiet manner."

Click here to sign our petition against Buffer Zones.

Reprinted with permission from Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

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Boycott launched against Game of Thrones over graphic sexual violence

By Claire Chretien

April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has launched a campaign condemning the HBO series Game of Thrones for “normalizing sexual violence” and making graphic depictions of rape and torture sex into “mass entertainment.”

Their Shame of Thrones effort includes a petition, launched on LifePetitions, which says, “Instead of choosing to deal with subjects like rape with sensitivity and gravity, Game of Thrones has consistently portrayed these scenes with salacious detail.”

Proponents of Game of Thrones say that the popular fantasy show’s depictions of sexual violence “are intended to reflect harsh reality,” the petition says, but “there is nothing educational about feeding an audience obscene and degrading images of abuse, or empowering about the relentless presentation of women as sexual objects.”

According to Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the NCSE, Game of Thrones "has consistently crossed the line of decency by grotesquely depicting rape, incest, prostitution, and sexual violence in a manner that turns viewers into vicarious participants. For its incessant themes of sexual violence, Game of Thrones would be more aptly named Shame of Thrones.”

This isn't the first time Game of Thrones has come under threat of boycott for its graphic sexual violence. In 2015, the show included a scene involving the rape of popular character Sansa Stark. After the episode aired US Senator Claire McCaskill issued a call for a boycott. 

"Ok, I’m done with Game of Thrones," she tweeted at the time. "Gratuitous rape scene disgusting and unacceptable. It was a rocky ride that just ended."

The show is also well-known for its gruesome battle scenes and graphic fight scenes.

Game of Throne’s sixth season premiered on Sunday. Hawkins acknowledged that the premiere did not show explicit sexual violence ("One episode does not constitute a trend," she noted), but said the show’s creators must work to ensure that Game of Thrones ceases to normalize sexual violence.

The petition seeks to weaken the show’s ratings by discouraging people from viewing it. 

Say 'no' to normalizing sexual violence. Sign the petition here.

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Official English translation of Bishop Schneider’s reflection on Amoris Laetitia

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Voice of the Family, with the kind permission of His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, is delighted to share with our readers his approved translation of his reflection on Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

“Amoris laetitia”: a need for clarification in order to avoid a general confusion

The paradox of the contradictory interpretations of “Amoris laetitia”

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate.

There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence. In their opinion, it is this aspect of sacramental practice, which, according to them, is now to undergo a significant change that gives AL its truly revolutionary character. Interpreting AL with reference to irregular couples, a president of a Bishops’ Conference has stated, in a text published on the website of the same Bishops’ Conference: “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting.  It can and should happen immediately”.

This opinion was further confirmed by the recent declarations of Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., after the Synod of Bishops in 2015, that the Synod had established the “foundations” for the access of divorced and remarried couples to communion by “opening a door” that had still been closed during the previous Synod in 2014. Now, as Father Spadaro alleges in his commentary on AL, his prediction has been confirmed. There are rumours that Father Spadaro was a member of the editorial group behind AL.

The way to abusive interpretations appears to have been paved by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who said, during the official presentation of AL in Rome, with regard to irregular unions, that: “My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular'”. Such a statement suggests that there is no clear difference between a valid, sacramental marriage and an irregular union, between venial and mortal sin.

On the other hand, there are bishops who claim that AL ought to be read in the light of the perennial magisterium of the Church and that AL does not permit access to communion for divorced and remarried couples, not even in exceptional cases. This statement is fundamentally correct and desirable. In fact, the content of every Magisterial text must, as a rule, be in its content consistent with the former teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, without any break.

It is no secret, however, that divorced and remarried couples are admitted to Holy Communion in a number of churches, without their being required to practice continence. It must be admitted that certain statements in AL could be used to justify an abusive practice that has already been going on for some time in various places and circumstances in the life of the Church.

Certain statements of AL are objectively vulnerable to misinterpretations

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has invited us all to make a contribution to reflection and dialogue on the sensitive issues surrounding marriage and the family. “The thinking of pastors and theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest, realistic and creative, will help us to achieve greater clarity” (AL, 2).

If we analyze certain statements of AL with intellectual honesty within their proper context, we find ourselves faced with difficulties when trying to interpret them in accordance with the traditional doctrine of the Church. This is due to the absence of the concrete and explicit affirmation of the doctrine and constant practice of the Church, founded on the Word of God and reiterated by Pope John Paul II, who said, “However the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who … are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that … they take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (Familiaris Consortio, 84).

Pope Francis had not established “a new general norm of Canon Law, applicable to all cases” (AL n. 300). He says, however, in note 336: “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists”. Obviously referring to the divorced and remarried, the Pope says in AL, no. 305 that, “because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” In note 351, the Pope clarifies his statement by saying that “in some cases, this may include the help of the sacraments”.

In the same chapter VIII of AL, n. 298, the Pope speaks of the divorced involved in “a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins. The Church acknowledges situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate””. In note 329, the Pope cites the document Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council; unfortunately, he does so in an incorrect fashion, because in the passage in question, the council refers only to valid Christian marriage. The application of this statement to divorced persons may cause the impression that a valid marriage is to be equated to the union of divorced persons, if not in theory, then in practice.

The admission of divorced and remarried persons to Holy Communion and its consequences

Unfortunately, AL contains no verbal quotes of the principles underlying the moral teaching of the Church in the form in which they are formulated in no. 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio and in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor of Pope John Paul II, particularly on the following topics of paramount importance: “fundamental choice” (Veritatis splendor, nos. 67-68), “mortal and venial sin” (ibid., n. 69-70), “proportionalism, consequentialism” (ibid., no. 75), “martyrdom and universal and unchanging moral norms” (ibid., no. 91 et seq.). However, a verbal quote from Familiaris Consortio n. 84 and of some of the most significant affirmations in Veritatis splendor would render AL unassailable by heterodox interpretations. General allusions to moral principles and to the doctrine of the Church are certainly insufficient in a controversial matter that is both sensitive and of fundamental importance.

Representatives of the clergy and even of the Episcopate are already affirming that according to the spirit of Chapter VIII of AL, the possibility that in exceptional cases, the divorced and remarried may be admitted to Holy Communion without being required to live in perfect continence cannot be excluded.

If we accept such an interpretation of the wording and spirit of AL, we must, if we want to be intellectually honest and respect the law of non-contradiction, also accept the following logical conclusions:

  • The sixth Divine Commandment, which prohibits any sexual act that does not take place within a valid marriage, would no longer be universally valid, but would admit exceptions. In the present case, this would mean that the divorced could practice the conjugal act and even be encouraged to do so to help them maintain “mutual fidelity”, cf. AL, 298. There could therefore be “fidelity” in a lifestyle that directly contradicts the express will of God. However, to encourage and legitimize acts that are and will always be, as such, contrary to the will of God, would mean to contradict Divine Revelation.
  • The words of Christ himself: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) would no longer apply always and to all spouses, without exception.
  • It would be possible, in a special case, to receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion while intending to continue one’s direct violations of God’s commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex 20, 14) and “What therefore God has joined togetherlet not man put asunder” (Mt 19, 6; Gen 2, 24).
  • The observance of these commandments and of the word of God would, in such a case, be a matter of theory rather than of practice, and would, therefore, lead the divorced and remarried into “deceiving themselves” (James 1:22). It would, therefore, be possible to believe perfectly in the divine nature of the sixth Commandment and in the indissolubility of marriage without however acting accordingly.
  • The divine word of Christ: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if a wife divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10, 12) would no longer be universally valid, but would be subject to exceptions.
  • A permanent, deliberate and free violation of God’s sixth Commandment and of the sacredness and indissolubility of true and valid marriage (in the case of divorced and remarried couples) would no longer be always a grave sin, that is to say, a direct opposition to the will of God.
  • There could be cases of serious, permanent deliberate and free violation of one of the other commandments of God (e.g. in the case of a lifestyle of financial corruption) in which the person concerned could be granted access to the sacraments due to mitigating circumstances, without such access being made contingent upon a sincere resolution henceforth to abstain from such acts of sin and scandal.
  • The permanent and infallible teaching of the Church would no longer be universally valid, particularly the teaching confirmed by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, n. 84 and by Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, 29, according to which the precondition for admission to the sacraments of the divorced and remarried is perfect continence.
  • The observance of the sixth Commandment of God and of the indissolubility of marriage would become an ideal that is not attainable by all, but only by a kind of elite.
  • The uncompromising words of Christ commanding men to observe the commandments of God always and in all circumstances, and even to take upon themselves considerable suffering in order to do so, in other words, to accept the Cross, would no longer be valid as absolute truth: “And if your right hand causes you to sincut it off and throw it away. For it is better that youlose one of your members than that your whole body be cast into hell” (Mt 5, 30).

Admitting couples living in “irregular unions” to Holy Communion and allowing them to practice acts that are reserved for spouses in a valid marriage would be tantamount to the usurpation of a power that does not belong to any human authority, because to do so would be a pretension to correct the Word of God himself.

The danger of the Church’s collaboration in spreading the “plague of divorce”

Professing the eternal doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church teaches: “The Church, since she is faithful to her Lord, cannot recognize the union of people who are civilly divorced and remarried. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). The Church manifests an attentive solicitude toward such people and encourages them to a life of faith, prayer, works of charity and the Christian education of their children. However, they cannot receive sacramental absolution, take Holy Communion, or exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities as long as their situation, which objectively contravenes God’s law, persists” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 349)

Living in an invalid marital union and constantly contradicting the commandment of God and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage signifies not to live in the truth. To declare that the deliberate, free and habitual practice of sexual acts in an invalid marital union could, in individual cases, no longer constitute a grave sin is not the truth, but a serious lie, and will therefore never bring genuine joy in love. Consequently, to grant permission to such persons to receive Holy Communion would be a bluffing, a hypocrisy and a lie. The Word of God in Scripture is still valid: “He who says ‘I know him’, but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(1 John 2: 4).

The Magisterium of the Church teaches us about the universal validity of the Ten Commandments: “Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2072). Those who claimed that God’s commandments, including the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” admit of exceptions and that, in some cases, people should not be held accountable for the fault of divorce were the Pharisees and, later, the Christian Gnostics of the second and third centuries.

The following statements of the Magisterium are still valid because they are part of the infallible Magisterium as expressed by the universal and ordinary Magisterium: “The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception. … are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response. … The Church has always taught that one may never choose kinds of behaviour prohibited by the moral commandments expressed in negative form in the Old and New Testaments. As we have seen, Jesus himself reaffirms that these prohibitions allow no exceptions: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments… You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness” (Mt 19:17-18)” (St. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, 52).

The Magisterium of the Church teaches us even more clearly: “A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1 Tim 1: 5; cf. 3: 9; 2 Timothy 1: 3; 1 Peter 3 21; Acts 24, 16)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1794).

In the event of a person committing objectively sinful moral acts in full awareness of the sinfulness of such acts, freely and deliberately, and with the intention of repeating such acts in the future, it is impossible to apply the principle of imputability for a fault because of mitigating circumstances. The application of the principle of imputability to such divorced and remarried couples would constitute hypocrisy and a Gnostic sophism. If the Church were to admit such people to Holy Communion even in a single case, it would contradict its own doctrine, give public testimony against the indissolubility of marriage and thus contribute to the spreading of the “plague of divorce” (II Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, 47).

In order to avoid such an intolerable and scandalous contradiction, the Church, in its infallible interpretation of the divine truth of moral law and of the indissolubility of marriage, has, for two thousand years, steadfastly observed the practice of admitting to Holy Communion only those divorced who live in perfect continence and “remoto scandalo”, without any exception or exceptional privilege.

The first pastoral task that the Lord entrusted to His Church was to teaching, the doctrine (cf. Mt 28, 20). The observance of the commandments of God is intrinsically linked to doctrine. For this reason the Church has always rejected any contradiction between doctrine and practical life, referring to such contradictions as “gnostic” or as the heretical Lutheran theory of “simul iustus and peccator”. There should be no contradictions between the faith and the daily life of the children of the Church.

When dealing with the observance of the express commands of God and the indissolubility of marriage, we cannot speak of opposing theological interpretations. If God says, “thou shalt not commit adultery”, no human authority could say “in some exceptional cases or for a good purpose you can commit adultery”.

The following assertions of Pope Francis are very important; the Pope speaks about the integration of the divorced and remarried in the life of the Church: “This discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. … The following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching. … There can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard” (AL, 300). These laudable statements in AL, however, remain without concrete specifications on the question of the obligation of the divorced and remarried to separate or at least to live in perfect continence.

When it is a question of the life or death of the body, no physician would express his opinions in an ambiguous manner. The doctor cannot tell the patient: “You have to decide whether or not to take the medicine in accordance with your conscience, while at the same time respecting the laws of medicine”. Such behaviour on the part of a doctor would very likely be considered irresponsible. And yet, the life of our immortal soul is more important, since it is on the health of the soul that its fate for eternity depends.

The liberating truth of penance and of the mystery of the Cross

To say that remarried divorcees are not public sinners in the Church is a pretense of wrong facts. The true condition of all members of the Church militant on earth, moreover, is that of sinners. If the divorced and remarried say that their voluntary and deliberate acts against the sixth commandment of God are not always sinful or, at least, do not constitute major sins, they are deceiving themselves and the truth will not be in them, as St. John says: “If we say,’We have no sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”(1 John 1: 8-10).

The acceptance on the part of the divorced and remarried of the truth that they are sinners and even public sinners will not deprive them of their Christian hope. Only the acceptance of reality and truth will enable them to take the path of a fruitful penitence according to the words of Jesus Christ.

It would be very beneficial to restore the spirit of the early Christians and of the time of the Fathers of the Church, when there was a living solidarity with public sinners on the part of the faithful; however, this solidarity was based on the truth. There was nothing discriminatory in such solidarity; on the contrary, the whole Church participated in the penitential progress of public sinners by prayers of intercession, tears, acts of expiation and acts of charity for their benefit.

The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio teaches that “even those who have strayed from the Lord’s command and are still living in this state (divorced and remarried) may obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, if they persevere in prayer, penance and charity “(n. 84).

During the first centuries, public sinners were integrated into the praying community of the faithful and were instructed to kneel, with arms raised, to implore the intercession of their brothers. Tertullian gives us this moving testimony: “The body cannot rejoice when one of its members is suffering. It must suffer and strive for recovery in its entirety. When you stretch out your hands towards the knees of your brothers, it is Christ that you touch, it is Christ that you implore. Similarly, when they weep over you, it is Christ who sympathizes” (De paenitentia, 10, 5-6). St. Ambrose of Milan found similar words: “The whole church took upon herself the burden of the public sinner, suffering with him through tears, prayers and pain” (De paenitentia 1, 81).

It is true, of course, that the forms of the penitential discipline of the Church have changed. However, the spirit of this discipline must remain alive in the Church at all times. Today, priests and bishops relying on certain statements of AL are beginning to imply to the divorced and remarried that their condition does not render them public sinners from an objective point of view. They tranquillize them by stating that their sexual relations are not a grave sin. Such an attitude does not correspond to the truth. They are depriving the divorced and remarried of the possibility of a radical conversion to the obedience of God, letting these souls live in an illusion. Such a pastoral approach is very easy, cheap and costs nothing. There are no tears, prayers and intercessory works inspired by brotherly love to be offered for the benefit of the divorced and remarried.

In admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, even in exceptional cases, without asking them to stop performing acts contrary to the sixth commandment of God, and also presumptuously declaring that their manner of life is not a serious sin, we take the easy way out by pushing aside the scandal of the cross. Such pastoral care of the divorced and remarried is ephemeral and misleading. To all those who advocate this cheap and easy way out for the divorced and remarried, Jesus is still addressing the words, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan! Thou art an offence unto me because your thoughts are not those of God, but of men!’ What Jesus said to his disciples was that “If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16: 24-25).

Regarding the pastoral care of divorced and remarried couples, we must rekindle in our day the spirit of following Christ through the truth of the cross and of penance, which alone can bring lasting joy, avoiding ephemeral pleasures that are ultimately misleading. The following words of Pope Gregory the Great are not only truly applicable to our current situation, but also shine a bright light on it: “We must not become too attached to our earthly exile, the conveniences of this life must not make us forget our true homeland lest our spirit become drowsy in the midst of these amenities. For this reason, God combines his gifts with visitations or punishments, to ensure that everything that delights us in this world becomes bitter for us and the soul is filled with the fire that always rekindles in us the desire of heavenly things and enables us to progress. This fire makes us suffer with pleasure, crucifies us gently and fills us with a joyful sadness” (In Hez., 2, 4, 3).

The spirit of the genuine penitential discipline of the early Church always remained alive in the Church at all times, until today. We have a shining example of it in the Blessed Laura Vicuna del Carmen, born in 1891 in Chile. Sister Azocar, who took care of Laura, recalled: “I remember that the first time I explained the sacrament of marriage, Laura fainted, probably because she understood from my words that her mother was living in mortal sin as long as she remained with that gentleman. During that time in Junín, only one family lived in accordance with God’s will.” Therefore, Laura multiplied her prayers and penances for her mother. She received her first communion on June 2, 1901 with great fervour; she wrote the following resolutions: “1. I want to love and serve you all my life, oh my Jesus; for this, I offer you my soul, my heart and my whole being. – 2. I prefer to die rather than offend you by sin; so I want to distance myself from anything that could separate me from you. – 3. I promise to do my best, even if I have to offer great sacrifices, that you may be ever more known and loved, and to repair the offences inflicted upon you daily by men who do not love you, especially the ones you receive from those who are close to me. – Oh, my God, grant me a life of love, mortification and sacrifice!” But her great joy was clouded by seeing her mother, present at the ceremony, not receiving communion. In 1902, Laura offered her life for her mother who was living with a man in an irregular union in Argentina. Laura multiplied her prayers and sacrifices for the true conversion of her mother. A few hours before she died, she called her mother to her bedside and said to her, “Mother, I am going to die. I have asked Jesus for this and my prayers have been heard. Almost two years ago, I offered my life for the grace of your conversion. Mother, will I not have the joy of seeing you repent before I die?” Her mother, shocked and overwhelmed, made the promise: “Tomorrow morning I will go to the church and I will go to confession.” Laura caught the eye of the priest attending her and said: “Father, my mother has just promised to abandon this man; bear witness to her promise!” Then she added: “Now I can die happy!” With these words, she expired on 22 January 1904 in Junin de los Andes (Argentina), at the age of 13, in the arms of her mother, who rediscovered her faith and put an end to the irregular union in which she had been living.

The admirable example of the life of the young girl now known as Blessed Laura is a demonstration of the seriousness with which a true Catholic treats the sixth commandment of God and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage. Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to avoid even the appearance of approving an irregular or adulterous union. The Church has always faithfully preserved and transmitted this divine command in its doctrine and practice, without any ambiguity. With the offering of her young life, Blessed Laura certainly did not intend to represent one of several possible different doctrinal or pastoral interpretations. One does not offer one’s life for a possible doctrinal or pastoral interpretation, but for an immutable and universally valid Divine truth. This truth has been demonstrated by a large number of saints who offered their lives, beginning with Saint John the Baptist to the simple faithful today whose name only God knows.

The need for “Veritatis laetitia”

Fortunately, there can be no doubt that AL contains theological affirmations, as well as spiritual and pastoral guidelines of great value. However, realistically speaking, it is insufficient to say that AL should be interpreted according to the traditional doctrine and practice of the Church. If an ecclesiastical document – which, in our case, is neither definitive nor infallible – is found to contain elements likely to give rise to interpretations and applications that could have dangerous spiritual consequences, all members of the Church, and especially the bishops, as the fraternal collaborators of the Supreme Pontiff in effective collegiality, have a duty to report this and respectfully request an authentic interpretation.

In questions concerning Divine Faith, the Divine commandments and the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage, all members of the Church, from the simple faithful to the highest representative of the Magisterium, must join in the effort to keep intact the treasure of faith and practice. In fact, it was the Second Vatican Council that taught: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One (cf. 1 Jn 2: 20.27), cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (St. Augustine, De Praed. Sanct. 14 27), they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Thess 2: 13). Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints (cf. Jude 3) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life” (Lumen gentium, 12). The Magisterium, for its part, is “not above the Word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been transmitted” (II Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, 10).

It was the Second Vatican Council that encouraged all the faithful and especially the bishops to express their concerns and observations without fear, for the good of the Church as a whole. Servility and political correctness have introduced a pernicious evil into the life of the Church. The famous bishop and theologian of the Council of Trent, Melchior Cano O.P., said these memorable words: “Peter does not need our lies or flattery. Those who close their eyes to the facts and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are those who contribute most to undermining the authority of the Holy See. They destroy its foundations instead of strengthening them.”

Our Lord has taught us clearly what constitutes true love and the true joy of love: “He that has my commandments and keeps themhe it is that loves me” (John 14, 21). When he gave man the sixth commandment and ordered him to observe the indissolubility of marriage, God gave it to all men without exception, not just to an elite. Already in the Old Testament, God said: “This commandment which I have given you today is certainly not beyond your strength and reach” (Deuteronomy 30, 11) and “If you want to, you shall keep the commandments to remain faithful to his will” (Ecclesiasticus 15, 15). And Jesus said to all, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Which commandments? And Jesus answered, thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery” (Mt 19: 17-18). From the teaching of the apostles, we have received the same doctrine: “For to love God is to keep His commandments. And His commandments do not weigh heavily upon us” (1 John 5: 4).

There is no true, supernatural and eternal life without keeping the commandments of God: “I command you to observe his commandments. I have set before you life and death. Choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30, 16.19). There is therefore no real life and no real, genuine joy of love without truth. “Love consists in living according to his commandments” (2 John 6). The joy of love is the joy of the truth. The authentically Christian life consists in the life and in the joy of truth: “Learning that my children live in the truth, there is nothing that brings me greater joy” (3 John 4).

St. Augustine explains the intimate connection between joy and truth: “I ask them all whether they do not prefer the joy of truth to that obtained by lies. And they do not hesitate over this question any more than over the question of happiness. For the happy life is the joy of the truth, we all want the joy of the truth” (Confessions, X, 23).

The danger of general confusion with regard to the indissolubility of marriage

For some time already, we have seen, in some places and environments of the life of the Church, the tacit abuse of the admission of divorced and remarried couples to Holy Communion without requiring them to live in perfect continence. The unclear statements in Chapter VIII of AL have given a new dynamism to the declared advocates of the admission of divorced and remarried couples to Holy Communion in special cases.

We now observe the phenomenon of the abuse beginning to spread even more in practice, since those in favour of it are now feeling justified to some extent. There is also obviously some confusion with respect to the interpretation of the relevant assertions in Chapter VIII of the AL. This confusion is increased by the fact that everyone, both supporters of the admission of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion and their opponents, are saying that “The doctrine of the Church concerning this issue has not changed”.

Taking due account of historical and doctrinal differences, our situation shows some parallels and analogies with the general confusion caused by the Arian crisis in the 4th century. At that time, the apostolic and traditional faith in the true divinity of the Son of God was secured by means of the term “consubstantial” (“homoousios”), dogmatically proclaimed by the universal Magisterium of the Council of Nicaea I. The profound crisis of faith, accompanied by an almost universal confusion, was caused mainly by the refusal or avoidance strategies to use and profess the word “consubstantial” (“homoousios”). Instead, the clergy and mainly the episcopate began to propose alternative expressions that were ambiguous and imprecise, such as, for instance, “similar in substance” (“homoiousios”) or simply “similar” (“homoios”). The formula “homoousios” adopted by the universal Magisterium of that time expressed the full and true divinity of the WORD with so much precision that it left no space for equivocal interpretation.

In the years 357-360, almost the entire episcopate had become Arian or Semi-Arian as a result of the following events: in 357, Pope Liberius signed one of the ambiguous formulations of Sirmium, in which the term “homoousios” was eliminated. Furthermore, the pope, in a scandalous move, excommunicated St. Athanasius. St. Hilary of Poitiers was the only bishop who dared to rebuke Pope Liberius severely for these ambiguous acts. In 359, the parallel synods of the Western episcopate in Rimini and that of the Eastern episcopate in Seuleukia had accepted fully Arian formulas that were even worse than the ambiguous formula signed by Pope Liberius. Describing the confusion of those times, St. Jerome said: “Everyone was surprised to realize that they had become Arians” (“Ingemuit totus orbis, et arianum se esse miratus est”: Adv Lucif, 19).

Arguably, in our time, confusion is already spreading with regard to the sacramental discipline for divorced and remarried couples. There is therefore a very real basis for the assumption that the confusion may reach truly vast proportions, if one fail to propose and proclaim the following formula of the universal and infallible Magisterium: “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (S. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84). This formula is unfortunately and incomprehensibly missing in AL. However, the apostolic exhortation inexplicably contains the following statement: “In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters” which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers” (AL, 298, n. 329). Such a statement leaves the impression of a contradiction with regard to the perennial teaching of the universal Magisterium, as formulated in the cited passage from Familiaris Consortio 84.

There is an urgent necessity for the Holy See to confirm and re-proclaim the cited formula ofFamiliaris Consortio 84, perhaps in the form of an authentic interpretation of AL. This formula may be seen, to some extent, the “homoousios” of our days. The lack of such a formal and explicit confirmation of the formula of Familiaris Consortio 84 from the Apostolic See could contribute to major confusion with regard to sacramental discipline, with the subsequent gradual and inevitable repercussions on doctrinal questions. This would lead to a situation to which it would be possible, in the future, to apply the following statement: “Everyone was surprised to find that divorce had been accepted in practice” (“Ingemuit totus orbis, et divortium in praxi se accepisse miratus est”).

Confusion in sacramental discipline with regard to divorced and remarried couples, with its inevitable doctrinal implications, would contradict the nature of the Catholic Church, such as it was described by St. Irenaeus in the second century: “The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered around the world, keeps them carefully as though inhabiting a single house, and she believes in an identical manner, as though she had only one soul and one heart, and she preaches, teaches and transmits in a unanimous voice, as though having only one mouth” (Adversus haereses, I, 10, 2).

The See of Peter, that is, the sovereign Pontiff, is the guarantor of the unity of the faith and of apostolic sacramental discipline. Considering the confusion regarding sacramental practice in respect of the divorced and remarried, and the many differing interpretations of AL amongst priests and bishops, one may consider justified the call on our beloved Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, the “sweet Christ on earth” (St. Catherine of Siena), to order the publication of an authentic interpretation of AL, which must necessarily contain the explicit proclamation of the disciplinary principle of the universal and infallible Magisterium concerning the admission of divorced and remarried couples to the sacraments, according to the formulation in Familiaris Consortio 84.

In the great Arian confusion of the 4th century, St. Basil the Great made an urgent appeal to the pope of Rome, asking him to give through his word a clear direction, so as finally to ensure unity in the thought of faith and charity (cf.. Ep. 70).

An authentic interpretation of AL by the Apostolic See would bring to the entire Church (“claritatis laetitia”) the joy in clarity. Such clarity will ensure the joy in love (“amoris laetitia”), a love and a joy that would not be “according to the minds of men, but to the mind of God” (Mt 16, 23). And this is what counts for the joy, the life and the eternal salvation of the divorced and remarried, and of all men.

+ Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan

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Timothy T. O’Donnell

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Encourage, enact and enforce: Witnessing to the Church’s teachings on chastity during the college years

Timothy T. O’Donnell
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April 26, 2016 (Cardinal Newman Society) -- The Church has always taught the beauty of human sexuality and that each person, made in the image and likeness of God, should live chastely, according to his vocation. Although not a recent phenomenon, our society has in many ways become blind to these beautiful teachings of the Church and has espoused a radically new, secular view of the human person. This new philosophy has affected all aspects of the moral life, not only those that involve human sexuality.

The sexual revolution, heralded as liberation in the 1960s, eventually took its toll even in our Catholic institutions of higher learning.

Out of a desire to meet the needs of their ever-growing non-Catholic student population, and to keep up with their secular counterparts, Catholic universities began to abandon the various student life policies that reflected the teachings of the Church, particularly in the area of human sexuality.

When I was a sophomore at a large Catholic university in the early 1970s, I distinctly remember when the university administration instituted 24-hour inter-visitation in the residence halls. Up to this point, all the living arrangements were single-sex, with visitation policies prohibiting members of the opposite sex to spend time in each other’s residence halls. But then it all changed. From my own, first-hand experience, I can attest that these new policies had a devastating effect on campus residential life. I personally witnessed many friends and acquaintances who were deeply, adversely affected by what was perceived as the institution’s approval of promiscuity. The adults/administration seemed to be saying, “You are old enough to make up your own mind about sexual morality.”

After a number of years of inter-visitation, Catholic colleges and universities began to allow co-ed dormitories. Not surprisingly, there are now many Catholic institutions of higher learning whose dormitories house both sexes; in some cases men and women are separated by floors, others by wings, and even others, simply by rooms. It is not too difficult to ponder the consequences of such a policy.

One of the reasons I was attracted to come to Christendom College was the fact that, since its founding, Christendom has been faithful to the commitment to encourage and bear witness to all of the Church’s teachings, including the beautiful teaching on chastity. Let me explain the reasoning behind this stance.

The rules and policies that a college enforces must truly reflect the institution’s beliefs — her mission and integrity. If a college is genuinely committed to being Catholic, then every facet of the college, including the rules and regulations governing student life, must reflect Church teachings, bringing those teachings to life and incarnating them for the students.

The Catholic Church has always taught that unmarried people of the opposite sex need to exercise a prudent reserve in relationships, especially because of the goodness, indeed the holiness, of intimacy within marriage. Anyone of maturity and good sense knows that permissive rules allowing young men and women to spend hours upon hours inside each other’s dormitory rooms not only contradict the Church’s teachings on prudence and chastity, but also seriously jeopardize the purity of these young people. When students perceive the disconnect between exhortations by college administrators to live a virtuous life and residential policies that are not conducive to that calling, they not only lose their trust in the institution, but they also become seriously confused about what is right and what is wrong. When this happens, the institution fails in its mission to teach the whole truth about the human person.

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Some voices in both secular and Catholic academia believe, since the students are generally over the age of 18, and therefore, in the eyes of the law, adults, that there is no need to implement policies affirming and encouraging chastity. Some insist that these young adults are mature and should not be told what to do in this regard. Others maintain that the students need only encouragement and good example, that these will be sufficient inducements to their becoming virtuous men and women who live a chaste life. Clearly this reasoning is deficient as evidenced by rules governing consumption of alcoholic beverages. Rules are meant to reinforce morals and foster virtuous behavior, just as they do in the home life; they are meant to complement, not contradict each other.

Given the brutal collapse of our secular culture, we need to have the courage to embrace a “contra mundum” stance. An authentically Catholic college, one striving to do the will of the Church, as faithful disciples, should not only adopt residential policies that separate and respect the dignity of the opposite sexes, but it should also provide many examples and events that promote and illustrate the joy of virtuous living, such as pro-chastity speakers or a course devoted to St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. This two-pronged attack offers a greater chance of success in bearing witness to the power and truth of Catholic teaching.

Our Catholic institutions of higher learning need to foster virtue and be counter cultural as a corrective to our nation’s secular universities, many of which are floundering and debasing human dignity in this sensitive area. We need to bear witness to the truth and convince our beloved young people that they have a dignity and a calling far greater than that which is promoted by the secular world.

Timothy T. O’Donnell, STD, KGCHS, is President of Christendom College in Front Royal,Virginia, and a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family. He received both his licentiate and doctoral degrees in Ascetical and Mystical Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.

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Cheryl Sullenger

Opinion,

Couple sues abortionist Warren Hern for malpractice in late-term nightmare

Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger
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BOULDER, Colorado, April 26, 2016 (Operation Rescue) — Jennifer and Jason found out sometime in early 2013 that they were having a baby.

The expectancy of a new son or daughter can be a joyous time for couples, but for them, that joy was cut short after their baby boy was prenatally diagnosed with “severe cerebral abnormalities” near the end of Jennifer’s second trimester of pregnancy. She was told that her son would have a life expectancy of less than one year, if he survived delivery.

After consulting with a number of physicians, Jennifer and Jason made the “difficult” and fateful decision to abort their baby in “the best interest of Jennifer’s health.” They scheduled an appointment at Warren Hern’s Boulder Abortion Clinic, in Boulder, Colorado, the nearest facility where very late-term abortions were available.

They probably wish they could take back that decision.

According to a Federal Court lawsuit filed by them in Colorado, Jennifer suffered a horrific late-term abortion complication that she says has caused her physical pain, mental suffering, and the loss of her ability to bear children. The couple is seeking upwards of $75,000 in medical costs, in addition to attorney fees and any punitive damages that might be awarded by the Court.

The lawsuit alleges four causes of action:

1. Medical malpractice.
2. Failure to warn.
3. Negligent misrepresentation.
4. Loss of consortium.

Warren Hern is a well-known late-term abortionist who founded the Boulder Abortion Clinic in 1973. He was featured in the independent film “After Tiller,” which profiled Hern and three others who openly conduct abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

Hern literally wrote the book on abortion. His Abortion Practice was published in 1984, but by 1989, the original publisher had withdrawn the book from the market and destroyed the remaining copies. He invented a number of surgical abortion tools, including the Hern forceps, scissor-like grasping instruments now commonly used in dismemberment abortions. In all, Hern is considered a leading authority on abortion, especially in the later terms of pregnancy.

In fact, in 1985 and again 1994, when medical experts published the authoritative manual on Fertility Control, they had Warren Hern pen the chapter about “Pregnancy Termination.” There Hern warned,”Abortion complication rates are sometimes higher than they should be.”

He talked about inadequate training, poor technique, and the “commonly held view that some complications are inevitable.” To which he retorts, “Maybe they are, but the best attitude is ALL COMPLICATIONS ARE POTENTIALLY PREVENTABLE.” (emphasis added)

But now, at 77-years old, he appears to becoming sloppy at it.

Jennifer was scheduled for a four-day abortion procedure that was set to begin on December 3, 2013. As instructed by Hern’s staff, she checked into a hotel the evening before her appointment and expected to stay until December 7. She was accompanied by Jason and her mother for support during the late-term abortion process. However, once at the clinic, she was told for the first time that she could only have one support person, so her mother was sent away.

Before Jennifer could been seen, she was required to wire $7,500 in advance to the Boulder Abortion Clinic.

Once the money was received, Jennifer was given an ultrasound and blood work. The clinic staff gave Jennifer and Jason “reading material” and required that they watch an instructional video “produced by Dr. Hern’s office” that described the abortion procedure.

But the printed material and video neglected to mention known risks. In fact, according to the lawsuit, she was never informed or warned of any risks to the planned Dilation and Evacuation dismemberment abortion procedure by Hern or his staff.

After the video concluded, the first step of the abortion procedure began. Hern used ultrasound to locate her baby’s heart then inserted a needle through Jennifer’s abdomen and into her baby’s heart. The drug Hern injected was meant to stop the baby’s heart in advance of the actual abortion procedure that was expected to occur three days later. Once the injection was completed, Jennifer was released and told to return the next day.

On Day Two of the abortion process, a member of Hern’s “staff” inserted 1-3 laminaria sticks and packing through the vagina. Laminaria are thin sticks of seaweed about the width of a pencil lead that expand, gently forcing open the cervix or neck of the womb.

She returned on Day Three, when “clinic staff” removed the laminara and inserted six new sticks. She was told to return to her hotel room and come back the next day for completion of her abortion.

Jennifer woke up early on Day Four suffering from “stomach cramps and discomfort.” Then she began to vomit. She felt the laminaria and packing begin to fall out of place.

Jennifer called the Boulder Abortion Clinic and was told to report to the clinic ahead of schedule. There, she was given an IV and suppository that was supposed to halt the vomiting, but it took “several hours” before the vomiting finally stopped.

Nurses prepared Jennifer for the final step of her late-term abortion, but found that they were unable to get her dilated beyond 1-2 centimeters, which is too small of an opening for a dismemberment abortion at her late stage of pregnancy.

Nevertheless, Hern proceeded with the “evacuation,” in which he would remove her son piece by piece until her womb was completely empty.

At least, that was the plan.

A “numbing cream” was applied to Jennifer’s cervix and Hern began to remove the dismembered parts of her baby. During the process, Jennifer felt “a lot of pulling from the lower half of her body all the way up to her chest,” according to the legal complaint.

The pain was intense – so much so that at some point in the process, she passed out.

“It seems completely barbaric to conduct such an abortion process on a woman without providing adequate pain relief, but this is a complaint we hear all too often from women who have experienced abortions,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Denying pain relief during surgical abortions really illustrates how little concern Hern and other abortionists really have for their patients. It is tantamount to torture.”

Hern finally finished the procedure, and Jennifer was sent to a recovery area for a couple of hours. After a visual examination only, Hern announced that her abortion was a success. She was released to go back home to Nebraska.

Jennifer likely thought the worst was over and probably tried to put the unpleasant experience behind her.

But soon, Jennifer began to experience break-through bleeding. She sought help from her hometown doctor, who changed her birth control prescription twice in an attempt to resolve the bleeding issue. Still, Jennifer continued to experience the unexplained bleeding.

Finally, she was referred to a gynecologist who ordered an ultrasound. What he discovered caused him to schedule Jennifer for surgery.

Once in surgery, the doctor tried but failed to remove a mysterious four-centimeter-long object that was cutting into Jennifer’s uterus. He determined that this object was the cause of Jennifer’s months of bleeding. He had no choice but to perform a hysterectomy, permanently ending Jennifer’s ability to bear children.

When the object was finally analyzed, it was determined to be a four-centimeter slightly curved section of bone from her aborted baby’s skull.

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“I can’t imagine what if felt like to hear that news. It must have been horrendous,” said Newman. “How ironic that her decision to abortion was ‘in the best interest of her health.’ Would she really have been physically and mentally worse off if she had delivered her baby? Probably not.”

Jennifer insists in her suit against Hern and the Boulder Abortion Clinic that she never was told that there was a possibility that parts of her baby could be left inside. Because Hern had wrongly declared the abortion a “success,” her doctors spent months trying to find other reasons to explain Jennifer’s complication.

Jennifer and Jason’s lawsuit claims that Hern was negligent in seven ways:

1. Hern conducted a Dilation and Evacuation abortion procedure on her nearly third-trimester baby through an inadequately dilated cervix.
2. Hern failed to remove all of the baby’s remains from the uterus.
3. Hern failed to inspect the remains to ensure everything had been removed and accounted for.
4. Hern failed to detect the chunk of bone that he had missed during the dismemberment process.
5. Hern failed to order appropriate postoperative care and tests, which would have discovered the skull fragment.
6. Hern failed to exercise supervision and control over his staff to ensure they provided adequate medical care.
7. Hern failed to provide diagnostic, operative, and postoperative care and treatment “consistent with the applicable standard of care for a physician practicing in Dr. Hern’s specialized area of medicine.”

“From the legal complaint, it looks like there was more effort put into making sure the couple’s money was received by Hern’s bank account than there was in determining whether the abortion was complete,” said Newman. “These were careless, sloppy practices that led to months of suffering and could have cost this lady her life.”

Incomplete abortions are potentially serious complications to abortions and can lead to hemorrhaging, infection, and death, if left untreated.

This case raises an important issue that deserves attention. It is true that many physicians who see patients with complicated pregnancies find it easier to refer the women for an abortion than take the extra time and effort to help her work through her health issues. Sidewalk counselors who have spent anytime offering help to abortion-bound women understand this problem in the medical profession.

“Often, women just need a good doctor who will support them with sound medical treatment and encouragement through their complicated pregnancies,” said Newman. “That can be hard to find in a world where ‘getting rid of the problem’ through abortion is easier than dealing with complicated health concerns. Aborting the baby didn’t work to avoid physical and mental health issues in this case and it probably doesn’t work in the majority of cases.”

If Jennifer and Jason’s suit against Hern and his Boulder abortion clinic is successful, it could serve as the basis for disciplinary action against his medical license.

“If it can be proved that Hern acted negligently, this is a case that should be taken to the Colorado medical board,” said Newman. “Hern’s insurance will probably cover any monetary judgement, but the medical board has the authority to make sure he can never practice medicine again. One can hope and pray to that end.”

Read the Complaint in USDC Colorado Case Number 15-cv-02613.

Reprinted with permission from Operation Rescue.

Melissa Jacobs

Opinion, ,

Number crunching the costs—and untold benefits—of adoption

Melissa Jacobs
By Melissa Jacobs
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Melissa and her husband recently welcomed a new baby girl into their family Photo Courtesy of Jacobs Family
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Friends gather to pray over the family’s new adopted baby girl Photo Courtesy of Jacobs Family
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As Bound4LIFE leaders, Melissa and her family pray constantly for the ending of abortion Aaron Wong

April 26, 2016 (Bound4Life) -- Today we’re going to talk numbers. My friend Randy Bohlender, who oversees an adoption agency, says questions about the costs of adoption are some of the most common their team receives.

Adoption is costly. There are many reasons for this that I will not get into—but the bottom line is, valuable things cost something.

When we speak about adoption, we are literally speaking about lives. Many times these are lives that either would not even have a chance at life if not for adoption; or lives who would be tossed about from home to home, never finding a permanent family.  

Yes, it is going to be costly. Redemption is costly. On average, a late first-trimester abortion costs between $300 to $500. An average domestic adoption costs between $25,000 to $50,000, depending on many factors. When we look at the costs associated with adoption, we really need to be asking: how valuable is human life?

Abortion says life is disposable. The fees to get rid of the “problem” are low compared to what a family pays to save that life. We need a perspective change. Instead of looking at what it will cost in the end, there’s a bigger question to consider. What is wrong with a society where a mother can pay $300 to have the life of her child snuffed out… when there are waiting lists of families ready to adopt that child?

All over the nation, families have declared through their personal sacrifice that every child has boundless worthWe are willing and ready to be a family for that child.

The cost of adoption doesn’t shock me; maybe it should. But in comparison to the cost of an abortion, my only thought is: what better way? What better way to live out the Gospel… what better way to be Jesus with skin on to a world in need… what better way to show a mother in a desperate situation that, not only is the baby in her womb valuable, butshe is valuable! She is worth the sacrifice.

As a family, we know the costs firsthand. One month ago, we got the call from our agency saying, A birth mother has chosen your family; do you have the funds ready to wire to cover the agency fees? Only a few days later, we received another call: The expectant mom will be having a C-section in just a few days, you need to make travel plans.

Because we were ready, we had prepared, we had saved, we had done some fundraising—and God had set the whole thing up—when that call came, we were able to jump into action and say yes. Today, we have our daughter in our arms because we didn’t let the costs deter us.  

We could have given up hope in all those months of waiting. Looking at the funds just sitting there, setting aside money never knowing when the call would come, we could have said, It’s too costly. We could have spent that money on other things, on home improvements or vacations—but adoption is all about counting the cost.

When Jesus adopted us, did He decide that hanging on a cross was too costly—that He would rather spend the day in comfort, on the shores of the Mediterranean? He could have; He is God, after all. He could have said, Yeah, no thanks, the price is too high. But He didn’t. Instead, Jesus chose us over His own personal comfort.

Do I wish adoption cost less? Yes, I do. You may be surprised at why though. If it were less costly, all that would mean for us is the ability to adopt more. Simply put, we have been called to adopt—to care for the widow and the orphan. This is true religion. This is true compassion, when you are grieved over an injustice and you can no longer sit idly by and watch from the sidelines.  

Our compassion for mothers in difficult circumstances has drawn us to action. The cost is a limiting factor for so many families who feel called to adopt; it holds them back, tests their faith and even results in asking the question, God, do you really want me to do this? 

I believe a day is coming soon when every life will be valued—when abortion will be a thing of the past, an artifact of a bygone era. When that happens, there will be children whose mothers either don’t want to or cannot care for them. Where will those children go? 

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It’s time for us to grow in faith. If cost is a limiting factor for your family—yet you feel called and have a heart desire to be a mother or father to the orphan—I challenge you to say yes to God in the area of adoption. If God has called you to become an adoptive family and you’ve set it aside because of the cost, maybe God is simply waiting for your yes before He releases the finances? 

Oftentimes, when God calls me to do something, He only shows me one step at a time. Usually there is not breakthrough until I’ve set aside all my excuses and said yes! Will you join me in asking God to release finances for families who are called to adopt? If you personally don’t feel called, then maybe God is asking you to be the one to provide in the area of finances for a family that does?  

It’s time for the church to get ready to take in the children who have no homes. It’s time for an adoption movement to arise.

Melissa Jacobs and her husband Jeremy serve as local chapter leaders of Bound4LIFE and regional coordinators for Missouri. She earned a degree in early childhood education from the University of Missouri and writes regularly for their Bound4LIFE blog. Melissa and Jeremy raise their seven children in Missouri. Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.

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Jennifer Roback Morse

Opinion,

In an industry that makes people, what could possibly go wrong?

Jennifer Roback Morse
By Jennifer Roback Morse

April 26, 2016 (TheBlaze) -- Sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy: Third party reproduction seems to be a “done deal” in Western society. Even ardently pro-life people do not seem to see the problems. Hey, these techniques are making babies, not killing them. So what could possibly go wrong? A lot of things can go very wrong. Let me describe just one: making the choice of your child’s other parent into a commercial transaction.

A recent story from Canada in The Star illustrates the problem. The profile for Donor #9632 from the Xytex Corporation seemed particularly attractive to many women. His sperm has been used to create 36 children: 19 boys and 17 girls from 26 families. But through an inadvertant breach of confidentiality, one mother discovered the identity of Mr. 9632, and did some internet sleuthing:

The donor was nothing like the perfectly healthy man — aside from some color blindness on his dad’s side — touted on the sperm bank’s website. Nor was he working on a PhD in neuroscience engineering en route to becoming a professor of biomedical robotics at a medical school.

Instead, Chris Aggeles, a now 39-year-old man from Georgia, has struggled with serious mental illness for much of his adult life. In addition to schizophrenia, court documents show he has had diagnoses of bipolar and narcissistic personality disorders, and has described himself as having schizoaffective disorder.

He has a history of run-ins with the law, has done time in jail, dropped out of college and struggled in the past to hold down jobs.

When confronted, the company referred the distraught mothers to the fine print in their agreement:

The donor underwent a standard medical exam and provided extensive personal and health information. He reported a good health history and stated in his application that he had no physical or medical impairments. This information was passed on to the couple, who were clearly informed the representations were reported by the donor and were not verified by Xytex.

Think of it: A man can get paid to masturbate into a jar. He can sire children for whom he has no legal responsibility whatsoever. He can write up his own advertising copy for the catalogue given to prospective mothers, with no verification whatsoever of his self-description.

What could possibly go wrong?

Let me spell it out: This arrangement attracts people with a narcissistic personality disorder. I have talked personally with a number of donor-conceived persons who, as adults, found their biological fathers. Narcissism is not an unusual component of the personality profile.

What about the mothers?

Some of the aggrieved mothers, understandably upset, have a whole list of things they want the industry to do, in order to be more accountable, such as requiring the company to verify the information and requiring the company to keep up with the donors and report any changes in their health status to the customers, I mean, mothers. They want them to establish a fund to help the mothers of the children of Donor #9632. And so on.

But anonymous sperm donation separates a child from his or her genetic origins, and the parents from each other. This is so wrong you cannot paste enough band aids over it to make it right.

One of the mothers said she feels cheated: “I felt like I was duped by Xytex and I failed my son for having chosen Xytex. In hindsight, a hitchhiker on the side of the road would have been a far more responsible option for conceiving a child.”

I agree with her: She was cheated. But not just by the corporation. She was duped by Modern Family and The Kids Are Alright and all the other Hollywood propaganda for “alternative family forms.”

She was duped by the legal system that declares anonymous gamete donors to be “legal strangers” to their children. The state gives unambiguous parental rights to the “commissioning parents.” Yes, that is what the adults who may or may not be biologically related to the child are called: “commissioning parents.”

She was duped by the social scientists who have been whitewashing the fact that children need both of their parents. Divorce and single-parenthood are tough on kids. Data shows this beyond doubt. Widespread experience confirms it. Some social scientists try to explain it away.

She was duped by the culture that says that we can do anything we want sexually, and the kids will be fine. As a society, we disregard the impact on children, their health, their relationships, and their sense of identity. Adults get the sex lives they want: kids have to accept whatever the adults choose to give them.

What could possibly go wrong?

As for the mothers’ suit against the sperm bank, I don’t know what to say. Suing a commercial entity is the logical response to a situation in which the entity does not perform in a satisfactory manner. But a child is a human being, not a product. Donor #9632 is not an abstraction: He is the biological father of these children, genetically, half of who they are.

The aggrieved mother continued: “Who would have thought that an industry that makes people would be like this?”

On the contrary: this is exactly what I thought an industry that makes people would be like.

We don’t need an industry that makes people.

Because a whole lot can go wrong.

Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. is Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization, dedicated to creating a Christ-like solution to family breakdown.Visit at www.ruthinstitute.org or facebook.com/TheRuthInstitute/. Reprinted with permission from The Blaze.

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From the famous frontispiece of the original edition of Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes
Michael Cook

Opinion, ,

Who are euthanasia activists citing to justify their attack on conscience? Oh, just the patron of modern totalitarianism

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook

April 26, 2016 (MercatorNet) -- Canada is soon to have legislation permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide, as decreed by its Supreme Court last year. One question, however, over which some uncertainty hovers is how much wriggle room should be left for doctors who have ethical objections to the new regime.

For one of the country’s most influential bioethicists, Udo Schuklenk, the answer is straightforward: none.

In an article published last weekend, he wrote that “conscientious objection has no place in the practice of medicine”. If doctors feel that they cannot practice euthanasia or refer patients to another doctor for euthanasia, they should find another job.

Dr Schuklenk is worth listening to. He is the co-editor of Bioethics, one of the world’s leading journals in the field, and a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, in Ontario, Canada. He was one of the authors of an influential white paper commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada for the debate which eventually led to legalisation.

His stand on conscientious objection is not new, but the timing is significant. Bill C-14 was introduced into the Canadian parliament last week implementing the Supreme Court ruling.

Only doctors will be allowed to perform euthanasia, but it is still not clear whether they will have the option of conscientious objection. Dr Schuklenk’s essay in the Journal of Medical Ethics (written with a colleague, Ricardo Smalling, also from Queen’s University), is sure to influence the debate in the weeks before the Supreme Court’s June 6 deadline for passing legislation.

Some Canadian doctors already fear that they will be forced to perform the procedures or refer patients to more compliant doctors. Writing in the Canadian Family Physician, one general practitioner, Dr Nancy Naylor, declared that she was throwing in the towel:

"I refuse to let anyone or any organization dictate my moral code. For this reason I am not renewing my licence to practice medicine. I have practiced full scope family medicine, including palliative care for the past 37 years and solely palliative care for the past 3 years. I have no wish to stop. But I will not be told that I must go against my moral conscience to provide standard of care."

Such words will not move Schuklenk and Smalling. In a nutshell, they contend that medical professionals have made a contract with society. In return for a lucrative monopoly on the provision of an essential service, patients have a right to demand that they provide them with legal and socially acceptable services. “Forcing patients to live by the conscientious objectors' values constitutes an unacceptable infringement on the rights of patients.”

By withholding their services, doctors are also are exploiting the power differential between them and patients. They cite approvingly American bioethicist R. Alta Charo, who has said:

“claiming an unfettered right to personal autonomy while holding monopolistic control over a public good constitutes an abuse of the public trust—all the worse if it is not in fact a personal act of conscience but, rather, an attempt at cultural conquest”.

And finally, they believe that conscientious objection, based as it is on indemonstrable premises, is arbitrary and fickle. “Today it might be abortion and assisted dying, tomorrow it might be the use of the tools of personalised medicine or something else altogether.”

Now here’s the interesting part: the writers cite Leviathan, a pioneering political tract by the 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, in support of their attack on the rights of conscience. It’s a tell-tale reference, for Hobbes is generally regarded as intellectual patron of the modern totalitarian state.

Hobbes was writing in a time of bitter religious conflict. A civil war in the middle of the 17th century divided England between royalist Cavaliers, mostly Anglican, and parliamentarian Roundheads, mostly Puritans and Presbyterians. For a decade armies crisscrossed Britain and Ireland. A hundred thousand people or more died in England; in Ireland, 40 percent of the population may have perished.

Hobbes had a gutful of pointless disputes by the king’s subjects over religion. Disagreement led to slaughter and anarchy; peace depended on obedience to the sovereign, or the government, which was, in his words, “that mortal god to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace and defence”. Unanimity is the hallmark of Hobbes’s state: “seeing a Commonwealth is but one person, it ought also to exhibit to God but one worship”. In these words are the seeds of both the Nazi Leviathan and the Communist Leviathan.

With this in mind, it is astonishing that Schuklenk and Smalling open their argument by citing Hobbes on the question of freedom of conscience. They point out that the subject of Hobbes’s sovereign has no need of an individual conscience, for “the law is the public conscience by which he hath already undertaken to be guided”. Doctors and other healthcare workers in Canada ought to heed this ominous allusion. The euthanasia Leviathan will brook no opposition. And they admit quite candidly their admiration for Hobbes:

"Of course, Hobbes is not quite our archetypical defender of liberal democracies, but the point he is making here is valid, it applies to the case of conscientious objectors in liberal democracies, too."

Yes, there will be problems in trying to accommodate conscientious objectors to euthanasia, but the answer is not a new totalitarianism.

The problem with an ethical framework in which conscience has no rights is that it works too well – not just in Canada, but in, say, Saudi Arabia. If a doctor there refused to amputate the hand of a thief, would Professor Schuklenk argue that he should to get another job? If he shrank from female genital mutilation, would Professor Schuklenk write a white paper suggesting that refusniks be fired?

When William and Mary came to the throne in 1688, England faced much the same problem as Canada does today. Britain was a patchwork of antipathetic religions: Anglicans, Presbyterians, Catholics, Puritans, and a bewildering variety of non-conformists such as Quakers, Baptists, Socinians, Muggletonians, Ranters, Philadelphians, Levellers and Diggers. England’s great achievement was to repudiate the idea of the all-powerful sovereign and accommodate these opposing beliefs without too much friction.

In their call for the abolition of conscientious objection Schuklenk and Smalling are effectively turning the clock back to 1651, the year Hobbes published Leviathan. If Canadian MPs listen to them, 300 years of liberal democracy are at risk.

Reprinted with permission from MercatorNet.

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HLI’s Joannes Bucher (left) at the 2016 March for Life in Brussels, Belgium.
Joannes Bucher

Opinion,

Brussels’ March for Life highlights the state-sanctioned terror everyone wants to ignore

Joannes Bucher
By Joannes Bucher
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April 26, 2016 (HLI) -- The terrible Brussels bombings were rightly given a great deal of coverage in the mass media and they were strongly denounced by all who had a voice. What was strange was that these opinion-makers and personalities don’t seem to perceive or don’t want to perceive the diabolical ideology that motivated the attacks.

If the attacks are evil, shouldn’t the motivations behind them be understood as evil as well?

These same opinion-makers and politicians have not only missed this evil, but they are missing another terror has been spreading. This terror is protected by state law and happens every day behind closed doors: the legal killing of unborn children.

When leaders refuse to understand an obvious evil and actively participate in other evils, the question arises: Are we reigned by a “totalitarian democracy”?

With such questions begging answers, it was of utmost importance that the March for Life 2016 was held again in Brussels. It has been and will be a necessary counterpoint to this gruesome farce of “democracy.” The organizers and participants deserve our praise for speaking out on behalf of the most vulnerable in the womb.

More than one person mentioned the disconnect: there is a high priority placed on immigrants’ rights without concern for responsibilities, while the rights of the unborn are trampled by those who have the responsibility to defend them. Europe is undergoing mass immigration while at the same time millions of innocent Europeans lose their lives because of widespread abortion.

Every human person, regardless of race or religion, has a right to flee terror or seek opportunity within the bounds of just laws of the nation. But no rights make sense without the first right: the right to life. If this right can be taken away, every right is precarious.

Over 1,000 people, mostly young students, came to give witness for the dignity of each unborn child as we marched to the Palais des Justice on Sunday, April 17.

Before the March even began, police police arrested many pro-abortion activists who tried to violently disturb the rally at the Montes des Arts. This happens every year, though the police have gotten better about understanding the source of the threat and acting accordingly.

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That the march proceeded despite threats and political pressure is a success in itself, given the anti-life circumstances. But we should not underestimate the courageous commitment of those who fight for life. HLI and other participants showed their solidarity with the victims of the Brussels bombings and with the victims of abortion. HLI members marched in the crowd and called for an immediate stop of the murder of innocent children.

Europe is dying. Opinion-leaders and politicians should be clever enough to find new ways to support mothers – especially to promote virtue, responsibility and opportunity for men and women – so that they don’t kill their own babies.

All humans, unborn and born, should be protected by law! “STOP ABORTUS NU – Pour la Vie!” It is our fundamental right. Or as was written in the 1948 International Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act in a spirit of brotherhood today.”

We pray and act so that those in power will return to these words and their original intent.

Reprinted with permission from Human Life International.

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Monica Miller

Opinion,

Planned Parenthood protest disrupted by satanists in bizarre street theatre spectacle

Monica Miller
By Monica Miller
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April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The third nationwide protest of Planned Parenthood took place Saturday, April 23.  It was also the first annual day of Planned Parenthood protests organized by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal and the Pro-Life Action League. 228 Planned Parenthood abortion clinics and facilities were covered with nearly 10,000  participating in these public demonstrations all over the United States.

It is certainly not unusual for pro-life demonstrations to be counter-picketed by abortion supporters. Even the annual March for Life in D.C. has attracted over the years its share of those who seek to defend and advocate legalized abortion as noisy picketers stake out their protest territory in front of the United States Supreme Court within feet of pro-lifers assembled to listen to the testimony of women who regret their abortions as part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. However, more recently these pro-abortion counter demonstrations have taken on a militancy not seen in previous years as well as the employment of grotesque imagery.  This year’s D. C. supporters of Roe v. Wade, both men as well as women, sported white pants with bright red paint streaming down between their legs to simulate blood flow, symbolizing the life-threatening aftermath of illegal abortions women would be forced to endure should Roe ever be reversed.

However, even this outrageous display pales in comparison to the tactics of the Satanic Temple. Its Satanist members have now counter-demonstrated against two ProtestPP pickets that were organized by me as director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society at the Planned Parenthood on Cass Avenue in Detroit, as well as at a sister demonstration at the Planned Parenthood in Ferndale. The first time took place August 22, 2015 and the second on April 23 of this year.   While we were not visited by Satanists at the October 10, 2015 ProtestPP, nonetheless 20 pro-abortion picketers did show up, many of them lesbians. Their signs read “May the fetus you save be fabulously gay.”  Of course, I told them: “We don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Gay or straight, we hope to save them all!” 

This time, on April 23rd , the Satanic Temple put out a press release announcing their intent to disrupt our pro-life picket of the Cass corridor Planned Parenthood. This promo piece appeared in that morning’s MetroTimes with the headline: The Satanic Temple will interrupt Planned Parenthood protests in classic Satanic Temple fashion.”  The intention of the Satanists “will be to interrupt two anti-Planned Parenthood protests this morning with ‘radical political theatre’ where they will ‘expose the anti-choice protest as an act of fetal idolatry, highlighting the fetishization and abstraction of the 'baby.'”

“The group sent out a press release late last night where they detailed their stance against the anti-choice groups protesting at Planned Parenthood. The highly politicized anti­-choice movement advocates for the abolition of Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides critical preventive and primary reproductive health care services to low ­income women. The current cornerstone of their argument stems from a fabricated, fictional story that clinics ‘sell baby parts for profit’. Organizers of the April 23rd protest, entitled #ProtestPP, directly intended to irresponsibly perpetuate this contrived story in an attempt to leverage misunderstanding for political gain and impose the moral opinions of some upon a diverse community.”

The Satanists are out to promote the usual Planned Parenthood line that this group is simply a needed philanthropic organization providing services to poor women and that David Daleiden’s Center for Medical Progress videos showing that Planned Parenthood harvests and sells aborted baby body parts—we’ll they’re just lies!

Members of the Satanic Temple first descended on the ProtestPP event in Ferndale, MI.  There they were confronted by indeed, a Eucharistic procession and the recitation of the Divine Mercy Caplet. Barb Yagley, one of the pro-life organizers observed:

“The Satanists endured 10 minutes of the Eucharistic Presence, brought by Fr. Roman, while we prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  Their street theatre was delayed until the Eucharistic procession ended at Planned Parenthood at 9:43am.

The public in Ferndale did not get to see this stunt. The whole troupe left after about 5 minutes of their theatre as we prayed the sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.”

When the Satanic Temple performance was completed in Ferndale they dashed off to our pro-life protest at the Planned Parenthood in Detroit. Their arrival however was preceded by a contingent of their fellow demonstrators who lined up in a row; curbside near the abortion clinic’s gated parking lot entrance. Many of them held signs with the message: “The Future of Baby is Now.”  We wondered at first if they were pro-lifers—after all what is the meaning of such a message? Indeed, the entire messaging and imagery employed by the Satanists was oddly convoluted and ambiguous and speaks to their inability to rationally communicate their position. Fresh from Ferndale the Satanists’ main event arrived. A black van pulled up across the street and a menagerie of hideously-costumes actors tumbled out. They assembled themselves in an open parking space on the street right in from of our pink banner that read: “Planned Parenthood harvests aborted baby body parts” held up Larry and Isaac. Many of the Satanist performers wore full baby-face rubber masks and were naked except for Pampers diapering. They flung talcum powder into the air, from baby bottles they squirted formula at each other and on themselves—flailing about on the pavement with baby cries and whimpers. Others were dressed in mock religious garb—very poorly conceived. For example it appeared that one demonstrator attempted to look like a nun as she wore something that simulated a long black veil and a white habit. Another Satanist wore a black suit and silver cross, perhaps hoping to look like a priest. The fake nun whipped the babies, other babies whipped themselves,  the priest figure knelt on the ground and acted as if praying, sometimes shoving a pacifier into one of the wailing baby’s mouth. Then someone else brushed the bodies of the babies with gold paint.  The spectacle lasted about 10 minutes.

If the Satanists sought to provide repulsive street entertainment they certainly succeeded.  But if this was a message in support of abortion and aimed to deride the pro-life cause, the message was essentially incoherent.  One of the concerns of this group is that respect for the right to life of the unborn is religiously-based ideology illegitimately imposed upon those who don’t agree with it. But if that’s the concern they wished to express, the message never got though. If a nun is whipping babies this seems to communicate that it is the Church and those who believe in God who persecute the unborn which does not comport with the actual facts.

Also depicting babies crying, wailing and suffering pain seems to convey sympathy for the plight of unborn children which is of course completely contrary to what these Satanists believe.  I reached out to one of the Satanist demonstrators and asked her to explain the meaning of the street theater as their imagery was “lost on me.”  Our conversation is at the very end of the You Tube video.  She obliged by stating that they were showing their objection to what they believe is a pro-life fetish with the fetus, that the pro-life movement objectifies the fetus, making what is no more than simply another organ in the body of the woman into the subject of rights, thus exalting the fetus over the existence of the woman and her right to self-determination.  

If this was their point—no one observing the performance got it.  And perhaps that’s just as well.  However, the question may be asked why those who place themselves on the side of Satan seem unable to clearly articulate their beliefs?  The communication they attempted to make was marred by confusion, incoherency, images that are tortured, twisted, distorted, and illogical—a street theatre that only made sense to the initiated—and even that may be doubted.  After all, what on earth does a picket sign mean which says: “The future of the fetus is now” held by those who don’t believe fetuses should have a future? 

The Satanists’ lack of coherency may actually itself stem from their allegiance to the Father of Lies. Symbols and images are things of the earth that express an objective meaning, indeed they are created by God who imbued them with an order, truth and beauty—but in the hands of the enemies of God they become convoluted, twisted and distorted—those symbols of communication lose their sense.  Compare the use of Satanist imagery with Christian symbols, most especially the signs used in Christian sacramental worship. The symbols water, oil, bread, wine and so forth are elegant, sublime; they create an instant reference between what the symbol is in itself and the truth that is communicated, mediated by them.  But when imagery is placed into the hands of those opposed to God’s order, chaos ensues, as if the Satanists simply are unable to apply symbolic imagery to the service of communication.  In the end, it’s all convoluted. All that’s left is the hideous shock value—and not much else.

Unfortunately, we probably have not seen the last of the Satanic Temple. Perhaps they will burn-out eventually, but I fully expect the next time we are out on Cass Avenue in Detroit protesting child slaughter, the Satanists will be there to again feed off our demonstration. 

The Satanic Temple feels the need to counter-act pro-life demonstrations. In some ways this is a testimony to the effectiveness of the pro-life cause. They must react to us in our actions that seek to end the injustice of abortion. They recognize our efforts as a threat to legalized abortion and the abortion industry, and this is what motivates the obvious elaborate effort that goes into their street theater—however poorly conceived.  

In addition, when Satanists—and not merely atheists, are on the side of Planned Parenthood and the killing of the unborn, this speaks volumes regarding the evil and injustice of the abortion practice. Satan is a murderer and a liar.  Planned Parenthood clinics are his temples where his demonic rituals take place. The fact that Satanists ally themselves with Planned Parenthood should at least be an embarrassment to this organization—and if they really understood what it meant—members of Planned Parenthood would get out now! Pray that they do.

Also see here video taken by activist pro-life leader Lynn Mills.  “The Angry Man”—another example of how some reacted to the pro-life demonstration in Detroit. He lives in an apartment in the same building as the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic—yet his anger was aimed at those who protest abortion. 

 

 

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Robert Colquhoun

Opinion, ,

7 basic steps to understanding the pro-life movement

Robert Colquhoun
By Robert Colquhoun

April 26, 2016 (RobertCoquhoun) -- What does it mean to be pro-life? Why are some people so passionate about a cause that on the surface does not seem so important? Do the rights of babies override the rights of mothers? These questions will be addressed in this article to help understand some of the basic premises of the pro-life arguments about the dignity and value of all human life.

1. The legalisation of abortion

In 1973, abortion was legalised through all 9 months of pregnancy in the United States for any reason through the Roe vs Wade decision by the Supreme Court. A woman could obtain an abortion right up to birth for any reason whatsoever. As a paradigm shift, the decision had a monumental cultural, spiritual and philosophical legacy for the country as the practice of abortion increased substantially after the decision. Other Western Countries such as the United Kingdom saw the partial decriminalisation of abortion through the Abortion Act of 1967.

Since that time, many individuals have tried to change the laws, culture and practice of abortion by highlighting the invaluable dignity of not only women but also the lives of unborn children that are at the risk of a violent death as a result of abortion. Pro-life advocates have used a variety of methods pastorally, politically and prophetically to describe the injustice of abortion and help to change hearts and minds to understanding problems and inconsistencies of abortion.

2. The development of the child

Modern Science has helped us to understand the development of unborn children in the womb. Ultrasound has helped us to see clear photographs of how a child develops in the womb. 7 to 10 days after fertilisation foundations of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system are already established. By day 21 the heart begins to beat in a regular fashion with a blood type that is often different from the mothers. Even in the first month since fertilisation, muscles, arms, legs, eyes and ears have begun to show. By 6 weeks brain waves can be detected and the baby begins to swallow amniotic fluid. By the third month (9-12 weeks) unique fingerprints are evident and never change. The baby now sleeps, and even though the mother cannot feel movement, the baby is active. The gender can be visually determined. By the end of the month all the organs and systems of the her body are functioning. By the 4th month (13-16 weeks) the baby’s ears are functioning and a mother’s heartbeat can be heard. The movement of the baby is often felt by the moth. During the 5th month (17-20 weeks) thumb sucking can be observed and by the 6th month sweat glands are functioning. By the 7th month the baby can recognise her mothers voice while the baby stretches and kicks. In the 8th month, movement can be limited due to cramped quarters, and baby’s kicks are stronger. By the 9th month the baby is getting reach for birth. 90% of a persons development happens in the womb.

The argument from a pro-life perspective might be that unborn children are human, every person has the right to life and therefore it is a grave injustice that unborn children are denied the right to life and this tragedy needs to change so that no more babies die and no more women suffer from the wounds of abortion.

3. The untold story from the perspective of the silent

Unborn children cannot speak to defend themselves in the womb and therefore none of the 40 million children that are aborted annually are able to have a conversation to dissuade the mother or abortionist from having an abortion. It has been know for unborn children to avoid the instruments of an abortionist of an ultrasound guided abortion. One example was the film the silent scream by Dr Bernard Nathanson. At times the pain that an unborn child will experience as a result of an abortion is not something that has been considered by abortion legislation. Some pro-life advocates argue that they need to be a voice for the voiceless and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Furthermore, many woman who have suffered after an abortion have done so silently. Guilt, shame and trauma are some of the reasons why many women have suffered in silence and chosen not to speak about their abortion. In some countries, there is little medical recognition for somebody suffering after a negative abortion experience. For this reason, many people may be suffering in silence after an abortion decision. Negative post abortion experiences are something that affect both men and women.

4. Understanding how to build a culture of life

Abortions happen because a person finds themselves pregnant when they do not want to be pregnant. Abortion is sought after, usually by an abortion provider, to rectify the situation. There are a variety of strategies and techniques that pro-lifers have used to change the status quo. Some people have focused on overturning unjust laws. Others have adopted a more pastoral response, reaching out to those in crisis pregnancies, seeking to change hearts and minds and help abortion minded individuals reconsider their position. Some have sought a more prophetic approach – by using prayer and public witness as methods to decrease the number of abortions. Some groups have used public education campaigns to help educate individuals about the reality of abortion. Regardless of the style of pro-life activism, the goals of such activity have either to make abortion illegal, unthinkable or to change hearts and minds and save lives from abortion. Pro-life groups are passionate about not only the women involved in abortion decisions but also the children who are scheduled for an abortion.

5. Philosophy and Logic

The pro life position holds that it is always wrong to deliberately kill an innocent person. An unborn human being, the product of human conception is an innocent human person. And abortion is the deliberate killing of that person. As abortion deliberately kills an innocent person, then abortion is always wrong. Some people argue that we can’t be totally sure of these assertions – but if we cannot be 100% sure, it is an argument for not having an abortion, because such a person does not know if the unborn are human for certain and therefore caution should be advised.

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Some pro-abortion advocates would argue that there are no universal moral rules and therefore there is nothing that can be intrinsically wrong. Others would deny the moral premise or the legal premise. The legal premise of abortion is simple. It is wrong to kill innocent people. Your children are human, like you. Law should protect those who want a violent death on others who don’t deserve it.

6. Transparency and awareness through informed consent

Many abortion minded individuals have not been provided with full and impartial information about abortion prior to and during any abortion decision. Abortion providers with vested financial and ideological reasons to provide abortions often do not tell women about the full medical risks involved with abortion or the development of the unborn child within the womb. Some providers will deliberately not show a woman a scan and image of their unborn child if they do an ultrasound. Other abortion providers will separate a woman from their partner inside an abortion facility because it means they will be more likely to have an abortion.

Abortion providers cannot give impartial counselling if they financially benefit from abortion. Informed consent is a given assumption for almost every medical procedure, yet for some strange reason, many women are denied informed consent when it comes to abortion. When men and women are given all the information about abortion, including the full medical information about what abortion is and what will happen to the child before, during and after an abortion, they are in a position of informed consent. Women should be fully informed about the emotional and psychological impact of abortion. Women who abort have a six times higher rate of suicide than those who carry their babies to term. In addition to psychological problems, women are susceptible to serious physical complications due to the nature of the procedures used to abort children. The physical and psychological consequences of abortion are devastating.

7. What you can do to make a difference

What is most exciting about being actively pro-life is that you can transform the lives of people around you. You can save lives from abortion, you can change hearts and minds to find hope and healing after an abortion experience and you can encourage young people to be pro-life and never be in a position wanting abortion in the first place. You can reach out to others who are wounded by an abortion experience and help them find proven healing programs. You can reach out to those who are abortion minded by joining a local pro-life group. You can educate people in school or create a public awareness program. You can help change hearts and minds one person at a time. Your witness can not only save the live of an unborn child, but change the destiny of a family for generations to come. First, think of the one person who you can impact – visualise helping them and then go out and make a difference.

You voice might be the only voice that somebody hears before aborting their unborn child. There are some lives that only you can save from abortion. Do not be afraid, but have confidence that your witness can make a profound difference for your community. Pray to God to ask him to bless your efforts abundantly.

Reprinted with permission from Robert Colquhoun.

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Steven Mosher Steven Mosher

Opinion, ,

State department human rights report condemns forced abortions in China

Steven Mosher Steven Mosher
By Steven Mosher

April 26, 2016 (POP) -- In the mid-eighties I met with Elliot Abrams, who was then serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, to call his attention to the victims of China’s one-child policy. I told him that massive numbers of forced abortions and forced sterilizations had occurred in China over the past few years as the Communist Party sought to control childbearing under a state plan. Abrams included my evidence in his next annual State Department Report on Human Rights, and subsequent reports down to the present day have never failed to include a section on such abuses.

Last year the Party leadership announced an end to the one-child-per-family restriction. Some observers naïvely thought that the move to a two-child-per-family policy would spell an end to coercion and put China’s millions of population control police out of work. In fact, Stanford University has even proudly announced an ambitious program to retrain these now “superfluous” population police as “child development experts.”

They should have asked me first. This is a very bad idea on several accounts.

First of all, the men and women of China’s population police are roundly hated in China. These are the shock troops of the one-child policy after all, the ones who for decades have been harassing and arresting, imprisoning and aborting the babies of mothers pregnant without government permission.

To think that couples would voluntarily invite these thugs into their homes, offering them tea and almond cookies while politely listening to them dispense advice on how to raise little Ah Ling is ludicrous. Not to mention that these same posers many have been responsible for the untimely death of Ah Ling’s younger brother or sister a few days before. They would be about as welcome as a businessman at a Bernie Sanders rally.

Second, as everyone in China knows, these same thugs are still storming the homes of couples suspected of conceiving an illegal third child. As this year’s State Department report confirms, China is still enforcing “a coercive birth-limitation policy that, despite the lifting of one-child-per-family restrictions, in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy)."1

The number of abortions performed each year in China may be more than even I had thought. China’s National Health Population and Planned Birth Commission reports that 13 million unplanned pregnancies are terminated annually. But this year’s State Department report adds that “at least an additional 10 million chemically induced abortions were performed in nongovernment facilities.” This brings the total number of unborn children killed annually in China to 23 million, a truly staggering number.2

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How many of these abortions were forced on women? “Government statistics on the percentage of all abortions that were non-elective was not available,” reports the State Department.3 I doubt if the humorless bureaucrats who drafted the report intended this sentence to be read tongue in cheek, but it made me laugh out loud anyway. Of course that Chinese government is not going to admit to committing even one forced abortion, much less to the millions that it actually carried out.

On a more sobering note, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 40-50 million abortions performed worldwide each year. With 23 million of these abortions occurring in China, it would seem that the PRC, with only 20 percent of the world’s population, accounts for roughly 50 percent of the world’s abortions.

Such reckless disregard for the sanctity of human life, such wanton destruction of tens of millions of unborn children, must be counted as one of the costs of China’s continuing Planned Birth policy. Even if they didn't force each and every one of those 23 million women to have an abortion, they certainly encouraged them to.

[1] U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) 2015 Human Rights Report,” in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, (U.S. Department of State, 2016), 54.

[2] Ibid. , 55.

[3] Ibid.

Reprinted with permission from Population Research Institute.

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John Smeaton

The Pulse,

Please pray! Northern Ireland’s election on May 5 will be ‘most important’ in history for the unborn

John Smeaton
By John Smeaton

April 26, 2016 (SPUC-Director) -- Statistically an unborn baby in Northern Ireland is safer than anywhere else in the UK. SPUC's success, in union with our sister pro-life groups in Northern Ireland, in preventing the extension of the Abortion Act has meant that the law in Northern Ireland still provides a safeguard for the lives of unborn children as well as protecting women from the terrible damage which abortion can cause.

Two months ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected an attempt to make it lawful to abort children diagnosed with a life limiting condition by 59 votes to 40, and also voted 64 to 30 against an amendment which would have made it lawful to abort those said to have been conceived through criminal sexual activity. There is more unity in Northern Ireland on abortion between people of different faiths than in any other part of the world in which I’ve worked.

However, all of this is now under threat as never before. Please read Liam Gibson's message below to SPUC supporters in Northern Ireland spelling out the very immediate dangers to unborn children. 

  • If you do not live in Northern Ireland and if you know no-one there - please play your part by praying every day in the run-up to next week's election, in nine days, on 5th May.
  • If you do live in Northern Ireland or know people there - please contact Liam Gibson at [email protected] to find out what you can - and pray, of course, especially during the next 9 days.

Unborn lives depend on our prayers and action.

Liam writes: 

It is no exaggeration to say that, in terms of the right to life of unborn children, this year’s election is probably the most important there has been since the Assembly was established. How you cast your vote could help to decide whether our unborn children will continue to be protected or if abortion will be introduced to Northern Ireland. 

The political atmosphere in Northern Ireland is growing increasingly hostile to children before birth. In the last six months alone the attacks on the rights of unborn babies have been on an unprecedented level:

  • 30 November 2015, the Human Rights Commission convinced the High Court that our laws violate the European Convention on Human Rights
  • 10 February 2016 pro-abortion MLAs (Sinn Fein, Alliance and some Ulster Unionists) attempted to introduce legislation which would have led to widespread abortion
  • in April 2016 abortion advocates used the case of a woman from south Belfast who aborted her baby with drugs she bought online to pressure public authorities into ignoring DIY abortions

A group of civil servants currently examining the issue of legalising abortion for babies diagnosed before birth with a terminal illness will deliver a report to the health minister later this year. There are very serious concerns over the membership of this group. If, as seems likely, it recommends a change in the law then it will be crucial that there is a majority of solidly pro-life Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) committed to defending the lives of all children.

Sadly both the Sinn Fein and the Alliance parties are now solidly pro-abortion, as are an increasing number of the Ulster Unionists. 

Next year sees the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the (British) Abortion Act 1967. In that time at least 8,400,000 babies in Britain have been killed before they could be born. Until now Northern Ireland has rejected every attempt to introduce similar legislation. The MLAs of the next Assembly will decide whether this continues to be the case.

Election time is the only occasion when politicians can’t ignore what the people have to say.

Please encourage your friends and families to vote only for candidates committed to protecting ALL unborn children, regardless of their disabilities or circumstances of conception.

If you cannot find a candidate you wish to vote for, then mark your ballot with a pro-life slogan, such as ‘Pro-Life Republican’ or ‘Pro-Life Alliance.’ Candidates will be shown spoilt ballots and will see the message

Please ask for prayers at your church for the safe delivery of all unborn babies, especially those in danger of abortion

Finally, on 5 May, please use your vote to speak up for those children who have no voice of their own.

Reprinted with permission from John Smeaton, SPUC Director.

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Wesley J. Smith

The Pulse,

U.S. suicides are increasing at alarming rates: assisted suicide advocacy is at least partly to blame

Wesley J. Smith
By Wesley Smith

April 26, 2016 (NationalReview) -- There has been a huge and alarming increase in the U.S. suicide rate. From the CDC announcement:

From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24%, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population, with the pace of increase greater after 2006…

Suicide is increasing against the backdrop of generally declining mortality, and is currently one of the 10 leading causes of death overall and within each age group 10–64…

This report highlights increases in suicide mortality from 1999 through 2014 and shows that while the rate increased almost steadily over the period, the average annual percent increase was greater for the second half of this period (2006–2014) than for the first half (1999–2006).

Color me decidedly not surprised. We are becoming a pro-suicide culture.

I believe the assisted suicide movement bears partial responsibility. Suicides have increased at the very time the assisted suicide movement has been vigorously and prominently promoting self-killing as a proper means to alleviate suffering.

Moreover, assisted suicide is often portrayed sympathetically in popular entertainment and the media is completely on board the assisted suicide bandwagon. Don’t tell me that doesn’t give despairing people lethal ideas.

At the same time, suicide prevention campaigns usually ignore this toxic elephant in the room.

It is also noteworthy that the suicide rate increased faster after 2006–the very time when the assisted suicide movement has become the most vigorous and made its most dramatic advances.

There is no question that assisted suicide advocacy is not the only factor causing this alarming increase in suicides. But I am convinced that the correlation could also be at least a partial causation.

Look at it this way: If we say that suicide is okay in some circumstances–but not others–at best we are sending a mixed message, making it more difficult for the anti-suicide message to sink in.

In this regard it is like telling someone, “Don’t smoke, but if you do, use filter cigarettes.”

One study has already found a weak linkage. I would like to see a more concerted investigations that aren’t afraid of making a controversial connection.

Reprinted with permission from National Review.

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