All articles from November 13, 2017


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Actress Sandra Bullock
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Sandra Bullock may portray pro-abortion activist politician Wendy Davis in upcoming film

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

HOLLYWOOD, California, November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “Miss Congeniality” actress Sandra Bullock is interested in portraying pro-abortion activist Wendy Davis in an upcoming movie.

Davis is the former Texas state senator most famous for an 11th-hour abortion filibuster in Texas.

In 2013, she filibustered Senate Bill 5, a sweeping pro-life bill that sought to protect pain-capable 20-week-old preborns, ensure that abortionists had hospital contracts for emergencies, require abortion businesses to have the same safety standards as legitimate surgical facilities, and provide better care to women taking the dangerous abortion drug RU-486.

The blonde state senator famously donned pink sneakers, had a catheter put in her bladder, and wore a back brace for her filibuster. Her stunt didn’t stop the pro-life legislation, but it gained her fame with abortion supporters and earned her the nickname “Abortion Barbie.” The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned parts of Senate Bill 5.

Mario Correa wrote a screenplay, “Let Her Speak,” based on Davis’ self-penned biography.  

Correa, who is openly gay, is most famous as the playwright of “Tail! Spin!” a “sexually charged” play ridiculing politicians’ sex scandals. He was a political aide to Congresswoman Connie Morella in the 1990s who stood out among Republicans as pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality. Morella voted for tax-paid contraceptives and medical marijuana, and voted against making English the country’s official language and legislation to stem illegal immigration.

Shortly after the abortion filibuster, Davis came out in support of a pain-capable 20-week abortion cutoff. After gaining fame as the quintessential obstructionist, she later condemned Republicans delaying Obama judicial nominee confirmations as wrong and harmful to the nation.

Buoyed by her time in the limelight, Davis ran for governor but lost in a landslide to pro-life Greg Abbott.

Undaunted, Davis has become a popular abortion apologist, even speaking at Notre Dame to Catholic college students about her abortion as “made out of love.” The Notre Dame Gender Studies website advertisement for the event called Davis “a modern-day Texas heroine.”

Davis publicly supported Barack Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate, which threatened public schools with losing funds unless they allowed boys in the girls’ toilets, showers, and changing rooms. In last year’s election, she campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

In 2015, Davis was asked at a Planned Parenthood rally why it was “love” to abort a seven-pound baby. “That never happens. It never happens. It really never happens,” Davis replied. She then about-faced, admitting late-term abortions happen but only “either the mother’s life is in danger or the child’s life is in a very precarious situation.”  Her bottom line is to stand for abortion because “we can’t ever know … what people are dealing with when they make those personal choices.”

Bullock has an adopted 7 1/2 year-old son. When she won an Oscar for "The Blind Side," she thanked “moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from.”

She told Vogue magazine, “If all of a sudden someone said, ‘You have five more kids,’ I’d be totally OK with it.”

Bullock is waiting to see who else will join the cast before officially signing on to the Davis biopic.

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Rodrigo Maia is the president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. Jefferson Rudy/Agência Senado
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

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Brazilian amendment to protect life from conception receives overwhelming support

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A special commission of Brazil’s lower legislative house has approved a constitutional amendment that would protect the right to life from conception by an overwhelming margin that analysts say will be difficult to overcome.

The Special Commission of the Chamber of Deputies voted last Wednesday to recognize the “dignity of the human person from his conception,” adding the language to a constitutional amendment that would extend paid maternity leave to women who give birth prematurely.

The amendment was approved by a 19-1 vote, making it unlikely that the legislation will be modified before passing to the full Chamber of Deputies for a vote.

“It is appropriate to note that if we protect, in a just manner, those who were already living and have prematurely left the womb, granting an extension of maternal leave to their mothers, we cannot fail to explicitly establish, even more, their protection in the uterus, from their beginning, that is from conception,” said the legislator who authored the pro-life language, Jorge Tadeu Mudalen.

The measure comes in response to a recent decision by a subdivision of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal that would decriminalize first-trimester abortions if it were adopted by the full Tribunal. The decision followed another blow to the right to life delivered by the Tribunal in 2012, when its full session nullified laws prohibiting abortions in cases of anencephaly (a condition in which the brain of the infant does not develop completely).

During the debate over the amendment, a pro-life deputy held up a model of a human fetus and asked of opponents, “Where is the love for women? Where is the love for children? This doesn’t have to do with religion, it’s a (political) position! We are against this mass murder of innocents.”

It’s incredible how they use issues of importance to women without respecting them, retorted Feminist deputy Luiza Erundina. “They don’t decide for us, they don’t speak for us, they don’t legislate for us.”

According to current legislation, abortion is illegal in Brazil but is decriminalized in cases of rape and danger to the life of the mother, to which the Supreme Federal Tribunal has added cases of anencephaly. The proposed amendment would eliminate all of those exceptions.

The amendment must still pass two votes of the whole Chamber of Deputies, and then be approved by the Senate before being signed by the country’s president.

Chamber of Deputies president Rodrigo Maia has told the press that the amendment, should it pass, will not be understood as imposing criminal penalties on women who abort in cases of rape.

“A prohibition of abortion in cases of rape won’t pass the Chamber,” Maia wrote on his Facebook page. “We’re going to hear from jurists so that, if (the amendment) comes to a general vote, it will be with a full clarification that this case (of abortions for rape-induced pregnancies) there will in no way be any prohibition.”

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Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

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Ontario midwives want to do abortions, pro-lifers outraged

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

TORONTO, November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Leadership of the Association of Ontario Midwives is lobbying the Liberal government to change provincial laws so midwives can kill babies in utero as well as delivering them.

AOM president Elizabeth Brandeis told the CBC there’s “burgeoning interest” in midwives providing abortion “services.”

The idea has been on the association’s “radar” since the AOM was consulted by the attorney general’s office and health ministry on the Liberal bill banning pro-life witness outside abortion centers, Brandeis said.

The 800-member Association of Ontario Midwives has a “pro-choice position,” she said.

“We believe very strongly that reproductive rights, including a spectrum of choices around birthing, also encompass safe access to abortion care.”

And midwives all across Canada, not just in Ontario, want to be able to kill babies in utero, according to the CBC, which also gave Brandeis a platform on its national morning news show.

Katrina Kilroy, president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, said  midwives already have the knowledge base to do medical abortions and could be trained to do vacuum aspirator abortions.

“This is not a contentious issue in the midwifery community,” she told CBC.

Abortion contentious, says pro-life midwives’ group

But that’s simply not true, says Canadian Midwives for Life.

“The only conceivable reason that abortion was not considered a contentious issue in midwifery is because those who have an objection have felt silenced,” CML said in a statement to LifeSiteNews.

“There are many pro-life midwives who will feel their conscience rights threatened if abortion is added to their scope of practice,” it stated. “The difference of ideologies among midwives will likely never reach consensus, but for true respect and safety it needs to be acknowledged.”

And the data show a wide divergence of views, CML stated.

According to a 2011 study of Ontario midwives and abortion published in the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice in 2017, a significant majority either opposed or were ambivalent about adding abortion to their scope of practice: 32 percent disagreed, 31 percent were unsure, and 37 percent agreed.

Moreover, 53 percent disagreed abortion is acceptable at any point in pregnancy, 24 percent were unsure, and 23 percent agreed.

Fifty-one percent agreed that it would be “emotionally difficult” to provide abortion “services;” 24 percent had “moral objections” to doing so, and 14 percent opposed abortion.

No Canadian midwives, who number more than 1,500, are allowed to do abortions, the CBC reported.

They are licensed to provide care during pregnancy, labour and birth, and postnatal care of up to six weeks. Midwives are governed by provincial statutes and regulatory colleges.

Ministry says it’s not on … yet …

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins told the CBC that his ministry is working with the midwives’ association to expand their scope of practice, including providing laboratory tests and prescribing more drugs.

But the ministry is “not currently considering expanding the scope to include abortion services," which would require amending the Midwifery Act, he said.

"This would require a significant amount of work, and although we are open to all discussions, it's not currently an activity that the ministry is undertaking,” Hoskins said.

These responses “remain accurate,” the minister’s press secretary, Laura Gallant, told LifeSiteNews.

“We continue to work with our partners and remain in ongoing dialogue.”

But less than a week after Hoskins made his remarks, Health Canada announced drastic reductions in standards governing medical abortions.

It nixed the requirement that doctors must dispense the abortion drug and so pharmacists can now provide medical abortions.

It also dropped mandatory training for those who will be giving out the abortion pill and increased the limit for medical abortions from seven weeks’ gestation to nine.

Midwives’ rep say it’s coming

AMO’s Juana Berinstein told the committee during public hearings, on Bill 163, the abortion “bubble zone” law, that “(l)everaging midwives as abortion care providers in Ontario is close on the horizon.”

While midwives “do not currently provide abortion services in Ontario, we are working to change that,” Berinstein said.

The College of Midwives of Ontario supports this, and the AMO recently signed a “new funding agreement” with the health ministry “that includes the creation of a funding stream for expanded midwifery care models which can include abortion care.”

The government “already funds 90 midwifery clinics across Ontario, including in many rural and remote communities where abortion services may not currently be accessible close to home,” Berinstein told the committee.

Brandeis told the CBC that midwives could prop up a “fragile” abortion “system” by being the go-to people in rural areas where access to abortion is limited.

Offer help for both mother and baby

But Canadian Midwives for Life says midwives regard both mother and child as their clients, and are in a unique position to help pregnant women in difficult circumstances.

“If ‘access to abortion’ is considered an issue, why isn’t ‘need for abortion’ considered an issue? Though many are quick to say that some women don’t regret their abortions, it still holds true that many women do, and their abortions were choices made from desperation, fear, or simply lack,” CML pointed out.

“As midwives, we have the time, relationship and resources to respond to a woman considering abortion with questions, compassion, and real support,” it stated.

“We will be seriously failing these women and their children if we don’t consider a request for abortion as a concern, but simply a health service for well women and well babies.”

The “pro-life view is not about shaming women or condemning abortion providers; it’s about believing that every human life has dignity and a right to live,” CML said.

“This move of disregarding the health and life of the child will cast an entirely different light on ‘holistic’ midwifery care, removing the baby from the ‘whole.’”

The AMO did not respond to LifeSite’s requests for comment.

“Given that pro-abortion midwives and the abortion industry is lobbying hard for this with the support of the ‘fake news’ media, it’s important that pro-lifers to write Minister Hoskins and encourage him to stay the course and not open up abortion to midwives,” says Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist with Campaign Life Coalition.

“We don’t need to make it easier to kill children or increase the risk of maternal death.”

Contact Minister Eric Hoskins here:

Hon. Eric Hoskins
Minister of Health and Long Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4
416-327-4300
Email: ehoskins.mpp@liberal.ola.org

To send a copy of your letter to your own MPP, you can find addresses here.

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Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

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Automatic prenatal test likely to increase abortions of babies with Down’s syndrome

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

November 13, 2017 (SPUC) — Ethicists and Down's syndrome advocates have raised concerns about a new process for prenatally screening for chromosomal conditions, which, they say, removes the opportunity for families to receive proper counselling.

'Transformational'

Newspapers such as the Independent have been talking about a new, "far more accurate" test, which researchers have hailed as "transformational." The test is in fact the non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPT) which the Government announced it was rolling out last year, despite campaigners concerns. However, the "reflex" DNA system, trialled by researchers at Queen Mary University of London across five NHS maternity wards, involves taking the pregnant woman’s blood at the initial screening stage and automatically sending it to be analysed using NIPT if the woman is found to have at least a 1 in 800 chance of having a baby with Down's, Edward's or Patau's syndromes. 

According to the Nuffield Bioethics Centre, "this contrasts with the system that Public Health England will be rolling out across the NHS next year, in which women found to have a 'high chance' initial screening result will be given the opportunity to discuss NIPT with a specially trained healthcare professional and decide if they would like to have NIPT or not."

Informed choices?

Catherine Joynson, Assistant Director at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics raised concerns about the reflex system, saying: "The reflex study authors believe that recalling women for a discussion before ordering the NIPT test to be a weakness, but we think this step could be an important opportunity to give women and couples information and support."

A report on the ethics of NIPT published by the Council earlier this year concluded that NIPT should only be offered in a way that enables women and couples to make informed choices. Joynson added: "Information should be provided on the optional nature of testing, the implications of a positive or negative result, the choices that testing may lead to, and up-to-date, balanced information about what it is like to have a child with the condition being tested for. This is unlikely to be covered adequately at the initial booking appointment."

Serious consent issues

Other voices have also been raised against the idea that screening be done automatically. Actress Sally Phillips, who was inspired by her son Ollie to make the documentary A World Without Down's Syndrome, tweeted: "This test is not new - it’s #NIPT with even more consent issues. Travelling in opposite direction to good, ethical prenatal care."

Insulting to the Down's syndrome community

Lynn Murray, spokesperson for Don’t Screen Us Out, told the Huffington Post: "The researchers are claiming this approach is going to lead to more babies with Down’s syndrome being identified, so it is likely to result in an increase in the number of children with Down’s syndrome screened out by termination."

"This is likely to have a profound long-term effect on the population of the Down’s syndrome community, and further enable a kind of informal eugenics in which certain kinds of disabled people are effectively 'screened out' of the population before they are even born." Lynn, whose daughter Rachel has Down's syndrome, added: "It’s insulting to the community of people with Down’s syndrome and our families to call this 'transformational.'"

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

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Donald Vander Boon
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Gov’t agency reverses Obama guidelines, allows pro-marriage speech at work

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Trump administration’s Department of Agriculture dealt a blow to the previous Obama administration’s silencing of pro-marriage views in the workplace.

Last week, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a strong policy emphasizing latitude for believers to express their views at work.  

“Opinions about same-sex marriage, gender identity, and sexual morality are all matters of public importance,” the policy states. “USDA respects the First Amendment rights of USDA personnel, as well as non-USDA personnel working at facilities inspected by USDA, to share their varying viewpoints on these topics, whether through oral discussion, the display or distribution of literature, or other means.”

The document makes official a wide definition of sincerely held beliefs. “Under federal regulations, religious beliefs include theistic beliefs (such as those that include a belief in God) as well as non-theistic ‘moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.’”

“We are pleased that the USDA is as committed to respecting the First Amendment as it is to food quality,” Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, wrote in a press release. “We thank President Trump who signed the executive order on religious freedom making clear that Americans, like the Vander Boons, don’t lose their religious freedoms upon entering the public square.”

“We are also grateful for Attorney General Jeff Sessions … putting federal government agencies on notice: You will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs,” Weber added.

The free speech guidelines were made necessary because of the Obama government’s threat to run a Christian meat packer out of business over a pro-marriage pamphlet on a break-room table.

“I never would have imagined that the federal government would threaten to put me and my employees out of work because of religious literature on a break-room table,” West Michigan Beef Company owner Donald Vander Boon said. He and his wife Ellen employ 45 people at their facility.

It all stems from a July 2015 Obama administration “anti-harassment” policy restricting workplace speech that could be construed as offensive. Issued just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled homosexual “marriage” constitutional, its wording expressed “zero tolerance” for any “harassment” on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “marital status” or “gender identity” by employers or employees.

The Obama policy used vague “No Nos” that could be interpreted to apply widely, such as “disrespectful comments,” “negative stereotyping,” and “insult(ing) an individual or protected group.”

Subsequently, a USDA official inspecting the Grand Rapids’ West Michigan Beef Company noticed a Christian article on the break-room table that defended the Biblical belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Following the Obama anti-harassment policy, the government inspector confiscated the article and threatened to shut down the privately-owned meat packer by removing all inspectors from the business if any such literature is allowed in the workplace.

“Obama-era government thugs have threatened to shut down a private business and put dozens of individuals out of work simply because Christian business owner Donald Vander Boon operates his family meatpacking plant according to biblical principles,” Family Research Council vice president Jerry Boykin summarized.

President Trump has steadily turned the tide toward liberty.

In May, he signed a “Religious Liberty Executive Order.” Days later, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a policy statement on employee First Amendment rights, committing “to safeguarding every American’s First Amendment rights, particularly the right to free speech and the right to free religious exercise.”

Upholding free speech and free religious exercise “is not optional, and it is not discretionary,” Perdue wrote. “It is one of the crucial reasons why we exist.”

“Secretary Perdue’s action to resolve this issue is another good sign that the Trump administration is taking free speech and religious freedom seriously,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs critiqued at the time.

Food Safety and Inspection Service Deputy Under Secretary Alfred Almanza expanded and clarified the policy.  

“The First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause prohibits federal employees from unduly burdening citizens’ free exercise of religion,”Almanza instructed all food inspectors. “Employees are permitted to engage in religious expression directed at fellow employees and may attempt to persuade other employees of the correctness of their views.”

Significantly, Almanza explained, “Proselytizing is as entitled to constitutional protection as any other form of free speech.”

“While supervisors may not impose unfair work conditions on employees who do not share their religious beliefs, their personal views concerning religious are still protected by the First Amendment,” Almanza wrote. “As a result, supervisors may also express their sincere religious views without fear of sanctions.”

Furthermore, USDA-inspected businesses may display “religious icons, religious pamphlets, or faith-based messages in publicly available work areas.”

“I commend Secretary Perdue for correcting an injustice committed under the Obama administration against this family-owned meat packing business,” Weber concluded.

Vander Boon is grateful for the government’s about-face to support his freedoms. “My family and I seek to share God’s love and truth with others, and we’re thankful that the USDA is now recognizing our right and the right of other Americans to speak freely without facing government persecution,” the beleaguered business owner said.

In October, Sessions issued government-wide protections of religious liberty. “Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government,” he said.

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Galveston Houston's Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews
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US bishops’ president blasts abortion: ‘Civility begins in the womb’

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), blasted abortion this morning while also lamenting the “divisions” in America over issues like immigration and healthcare.

“There are many challenges in the contemporary Church and society,” said DiNardo. “Our response must be civility and love. My friends, civility begins in the womb.”

“If we cannot come to love and protect innocent life from the moment God creates it, how can we properly care for each other as we come of age?” asked DiNardo. “Or when we come to old age?”

“Hospitals and healthcare workers deserve conscience protections so that they never have to participate in the taking of a human life,” DiNardo proclaimed. Another problem is that “even though there are alternatives to abortion, children yet to be born still lose their lives before they even have a chance.”

DiNardo also insisted that the bishops “must continue to proclaim that the poor have a right to good and affordable healthcare, which has still not been met.”

He mentioned the opioid epidemic and “the plague of drug abuse our country has been wrestling with for years.”

DiNardo said the U.S. bishops “join our Holy Father in declaring that a pro-life immigration policy is one that does not tear families apart; it protects families.”

The U.S. immigration system is “broken,” said DiNardo and even though “comprehensive reform is needed...fear tempts us with false choices.”

“Providing for the common defense and the general welfare is a basic responsibility of government,” he continued. “We have a moral responsibility to improve border security in a humane way.”

DiNardo defended the liberal immigration-related DACA and endorsed gun control.

“The time is long past due to end the madness of outrageous weapons – be they stockpiled on a continent or in a hotel room,” he said to applause. It’s important to show the virtues of faith, hope, and love “especially in light of the violence from what is a growing list of mass shootings in our schools, offices, churches, and places of recreation.”

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the pope’s representative in the U.S., praised the bishops for their defense of human life and also their defense of the whole “human person” as related to the defense of “migrants and refugees.”

Pierre and DiNardo both said that racism is a growing problem in America to which the bishops must respond.

Some people “take pride in this grave sin” of racism, said DiNardo. “Sometimes it is shocking and violent, such as in Charlottesville; more often it is subtle and systematic.”

“A bold national dialogue on racism is needed,” he said.

DiNardo and Pierre urged their fellow bishops to follow the example of Blessed Father Stanley Rother, the first-ever beatified American-born priest. Rother was recently beatified.

Pierre used language distinctly associated with both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He talked about a “culture of encounter,” a phrase often used by Pope Francis. This culture “encourages groups to break down walls and build bridges,” Pierre said, quoting Pope Francis.

Pierre blasted castigated the “dictatorship of relativism,” one of Pope Benedict’s signature phrases, which the nuncio said makes it hard to live as a Christian in today’s world.

Pierre discussed using beauty, truth, and goodness to bring non-religious people – especially former Catholics – to the Catholic faith.

In a presentation on the work of the USCCB’s pro-life committee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked about “throwaway culture” and “ideological colonization,” two more signature Pope Francis phrases.

He promoted national and local celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical upholding the Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception.

Humanae Vitae expressed the Church’s “prophetic, positive vision of love and life” and also gave a “sober warning of where we were heading if we choose a different path,” said Dolan.

There’s “no question” the late pope’s predictions about what the breakdown of morality thanks to the embracing of contraception and the “contraceptive mentality” have come true, said Dolan.

This includes the “general demeaning of women” that comes from men using women as objects rather than loving them, he said.

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BREAKING: Supreme Court to hear case against California law forcing pro-life centers to advertise abortion

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The U.S. Supreme Court today decided to hear a pro-life challenge against a California law that forces pro-life centers, such as pregnancy medical clinics, to advertise abortion. The decision marks the first time the country's highest court will hear an abortion-related case during the Trump administration. 

Pro-life advocates who have opposed the law, including The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), praised the Supreme Court for deciding to hear what it called a “critical free speech case.”

"California's threat to pro-life pregnancy care centers and medical clinics counts among the most flagrant violations of constitutional religious and free speech rights in the nation,” said NIFLA founder and president Thomas Glessner, J.D, in a statement. 

“The implications of the Supreme Court's decision in this case will reverberate nationwide, to similar unconstitutional laws in Illinois and Hawaii," he added. 

California’s 2015 “Reproductive FACT Act” (AB 775) requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post signage notifying their patients where and how they can receive state taxpayer-funded abortions. The law applied to hundreds of privately funded pregnancy centers. 

The pro-life centers asked the Supreme Court to hear their case after the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them last year. The court sided with the state in a 3-0 ruling, saying that the state was acting within its power of regulating medical providers. The appeals court also said that abortion advertisements in pro-life centers did not violate free speech rights because such signage stated facts without encouraging women to actually seek abortion

Earlier this year Pacific Justice Institute filed a request for the Supreme Court to review the law, arguing that the state had effectively stripped pro-life centers and the people who run them of their right to free speech. 

In March, Alliance Defending Freedom petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the law, arguing that it forced the pro-life centers to act contrary to their core mission and violated their constitutionally protected freedoms.

Last month a California Superior Court Justice put a halt to the law with a permanent injunction, ruling that the state cannot force pro-life pregnancy centers to post signage promoting state-covered abortions to their clients.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is defending the contested law.  

Alliance Defending Freedom's  Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case.  

“Forcing anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry is unthinkable—especially when it’s the government doing the forcing. This is even more true when it comes to pregnancy care centers, which exist specifically to care for women who want to have their babies,” he said in a statement.

“The state should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech. Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn’t need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can’t promote,” he added.  

Kevin T. Snider, a lawyer for A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic and Alternative Women's Center, argued in court papers that his clients cannot be compelled to post notifications in their centers against their religious convictions.

"Based on religious convictions, these clinics strongly object to being compelled to speak the messages required by the Act's disclosure," he wrote. 

Pro-life groups across the country praised the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case. 

Ashley McGuire, Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, said that she hopes the Supreme Court will "put an end to these unwarranted free speech assaults so that the centers and their staff can go on helping women without harassment from the abortion industry ."

"Recent efforts to force America's pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion isn't just an attack on free speech, it's an attack on the vulnerable women who find help and healing in them. These centers offer pregnant women in crisis a true choice in addition to dignified care and do so with no profit motive and no political agenda, unlike their abortion clinic alternatives," she said.

Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, also praised the decision.  

"These benevolent centers, which exist solely to provide love and support for women facing unexpected pregnancies and have no financial interest at stake, should not be forced to violate their first amendment right to freedom of speech and conscience.  March for Life will showcase the heroic work of the pregnancy care movement at the 2018 March for Life with the theme 'Love Saves Lives,'" she said. 

Catherine Glenn Foste of Americans United for Life​ said she was "pleased" to hear the decision. 

"Pregnancy Care Centers provide holistic care, resources, and hope for vulnerable women who are facing unplanned pregnancies, and they should not be compelled to promote the abortion industry’s agenda by posting signs that violate their mission and core values," she said. 

Glessner said that California pro-life centers should not be penalized for doing their job in suggesting to women alternatives to abortion. 

"The price of non-compliance with the so-called 'FACT Act' is severe: pregnancy resource centers face fines and the loss of medical licenses for noncompliance," he said. "This punishment would harm these centers as well as the vulnerable pregnant women to whom these pro-life groups provide free counseling and care."

It is expected that the high court will hear arguments in the case NIFLA vs. Becerra next year and issues a ruling before the end of June. 

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Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington
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Cardinal says Pope Francis inspired him to get ‘creative’ in liturgy, lets lay people read Gospel

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The cardinal archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, ordered a change in the Mass recently that is “completely contrary” to the governing document for all celebrations of the Catholic Mass in the Ordinary Form, a “creative initiative” the cardinal said was inspired by Pope Francis.

Cardinal John Dew called for churches to divert from liturgical protocol of the Gospel reading conducted by ordained clergy with a Lectio Divina reading of the day’s Gospel performed by a layperson.

Lectio Divina — Latin for divine reading — is an ancient Benedictine practice of prayer involving reading and reflection of Scripture, followed by prayer and contemplation. It’s generally done individually, but can be done in a group, and it is not included in the Mass rubrics.

Cardinal Dew said, “This Lectio Divina initiative is a way the Archdiocese is responding to the plea of Pope Francis to make the sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused.”

“He has reminded us that we can take creative initiatives in our parishes so that we can become ‘living vessels for the transmission of God’s word,’” the cardinal said. “Lectio Divina is a wonderful way for us to become these living vessels.”

Instead of two readings and a responsorial psalm before the Gospel at Sunday Mass on October 29, there was to be only one reading (the Gospel), CathNews New Zealand reported, read by a lay reader.

“The lay reader – called the Lectio Divina Leader – will also guide the congregation through the Lectio Divina process,” said Cardinal Dew, “which involves both listening to and reflecting on the Gospel. The process is something all of us can do at home.”

Dew then provided specifics.

“What will happen is the reader will invite the congregation to close their eyes and listen prayerfully while the Gospel is being read,” he said. “While they are listening, each person will be listening for a word, image or phrase that strikes them in some way.”

This was to be followed by a 30-second period of silence.

The lay leader was to then re-read the Gospel and invite the congregation again to listen for this word, image or phrase.

The process was to continue, with the lay leader directing Catholics in the pews to reflect on the scripture and rest alternately with short periods of silence.

“The Leader will end the Lectio Divina process with a short prayer of thanksgiving,” said Cardinal Dew.

Liturgy experts reacted to this handling of the Gospel reading during Mass, saying it contradicted established norms for the Mass.

“What this bishop has ordered is completely contrary to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the governing document for all celebrations of the Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” said Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a well-known liturgical theologian and commentator.

“What he is proposing to do violates two separate rules,” Kwasniewski said, “one, that all the readings specified for the day should be read, and not merely one reading — the Gospel; second, that the Gospel should always be proclaimed by an ordained man -- be it bishop, priest, or deacon.”

Dr. Joseph Shaw, Oxford University Philosophy professor and research fellow, and chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, also confirmed for LifeSiteNews that the Gospel reading at Mass is to be read by ordained clergy.

“The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, section 59, makes it clear that only a priest may read the Gospel at Mass,” Shaw told LifeSiteNews. “The reading of the non-Gospel readings as well as the Gospel is also part of the rubrics of Mass, which I believe can only be suspended by the Holy See, not a local Ordinary.” 

He affirmed as well the Lectio Divina process called for by the cardinal is not appropriate for Mass.

“What is described, though it does not correspond with the ‘lectio divina’ described by the spiritual masters of the past, may be beneficial to some people in the context, as the Cardinal notes,” Shaw said, “of private devotion at home.” 

“However it is very different from a liturgical reading of Scripture,” he continued, “which is offered to God as part of a single act of worship with the rest of Mass.” 

“This is indicated by the honor given to the Gospel, being incensed before being read and kissed afterwards,” said Shaw. “These ceremonies underline why it is appropriate for a priest or deacon to read the Gospel.” 

Shaw said section 60 of the General Instruction also adds regarding the Gospel:

“The Liturgy itself teaches that great reverence is to be shown to it by setting it off from the other readings with special marks of honor: whether on the part of the minister appointed to proclaim it, who prepares himself by a blessing or prayer; or on the part of the faithful, who stand as they listen to it being read and through their acclamations acknowledge and confess Christ present and speaking to them; or by the very marks of reverence that are given to the Book of the Gospels.”

Kwasniewski pointed out that number 357 in the GIRM states: "Sundays and Solemnities have assigned to them three readings, that is, from a Prophet, an Apostle, and a Gospel, by which the Christian people are instructed in the continuity of the work of salvation according to God’s wonderful design. These readings should be followed strictly."

He further cited sections 61-66 of Redemptionis Sacramentum, issued in 2004 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to address liturgical abuses, all underscoring specifically that reading the Gospel at Mass is reserved to an ordained minister.

Cardinal Dew had spoken against euthanasia last December before New Zealand’s Parliament on behalf of New Zealand’s bishops.

However, the cardinal has made statements conflicting with Church principle on worthiness to receive Communion.

He has spoken favorably of the pope’s contentious exhortation Amoris Laetitia a number of times, and had supported admission to Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics long before to the two Synods on the Family.

Regarding his intervention at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, he’d said, “I basically said that we have to change the language which is used in various Church documents so that people do not see and hear the Church judging or condemning, passing out rules and laws, but rather showing concern and compassion and reaching out to help people discover God in their lives.”

During the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, Dew remarked: “Our Church would be enriched if we were able to invite dedicated Catholics, currently excluded from the Eucharist, to return to the Lord’s table. There are those whose first marriages ended in sadness; they have never abandoned the Church, but are currently excluded from the Eucharist.”

“No one in the Church has the authority to violate the rubrics in this manner,” Kwasniewski told LifeSiteNews regarding Dew’s Lectio Divina initiative. “However, given that the Pope himself set such a bad example by first violating the rubrics about the washing of men's feet on Holy Thursday, then by changing the rubric and violating it again by washing the feet of non-Christians, it is hardly surprising that we see such flagrant abuse.”

He noted that Novus Ordo liturgy in most places is marked by constant abuses of one kind or another, so this is not a new phenomenon for Catholics.

“Yet it is particularly disturbing when it comes from high-ranking churchmen who ought to know better, given that their example is far more obvious and likely to be imitated,” Kwasniewski said. “This bishop deserves to be soundly disciplined for this action, and his faithful should protest to him and to the Vatican.”

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Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life says pro-life groups are being attacked more than ever on college campuses because 'our opponents know we're winning.' Emma Brockway / Twitter
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

News

College prof tweets desire to ‘beat the ****’ out of pro-life witnesses

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
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SAN DIEGO, California, November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Matthew Kapell, a part-time lecturer at San Jose State University, posted a desire to “beat the ****” out of peaceful pro-life witnesses on Twitter last month.

The tweet reads, “Amy Kapell and I were both in a “Grr, we should just go find someone to beat the **** out of” mood. Then we found planned parenthood protestors (sic). Who’s gonna bail us out?”

His photograph shows a dozen pro-life witnesses standing on a sidewalk with placards and a banner asking onlookers to pray the rosary. 

According to Co-ed.com, a group called “Pro-Life Libertarians” posted his bellicose tweet on their Facebook page. Patricia Harris, a spokeswoman for San Jose State University, told web magazine The College Fix, that SJSU would “respond appropriately” to Kappel’s tweet.  

A spokeswoman for the San Jose State University told LifeSiteNews that the school’s response to Kapell's publication was "a personnel matter" and made no further comment.

Kappel, a native of Detroit, holds a Ph.D in American Studies from Swansea University, Wales. 

His tweet represents only one of several violent threats or actions against pro-lifers on American campuses, says Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life America. “But after seeing this threatening post (along with dozens of others on social media from pro-abortion activists), I’m more afraid than ever that one of these threats of violence will turn into much worse,” she told LifeSiteNews. 

Hawkins noted that pro-abortion “Antifa” radicals in the U.S. have resorted to violent tactics: “setting campus buildings on fire, smashing windows, and beating up political opponents.”

“But instead of facing consequences for their actions, pro-abortion college administrators, faculty, and staff just look the other way,” she wrote. 

On October 19, thieves destroyed a pro-life display called “The Cemetery of Innocents” at the Jesuit St. Louis University by stealing its crosses under cover of darkness. Earlier that month, almost 200 pro-life, pro-immigration posters were torn from the walls of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. According to the campus newspaper, one of the vandals bragged about her group’s actions. Loyola Marymount is also a Catholic college. 

Pro-lifers at other heritage-Christian institutions have also been silenced.

“At a Methodist College in Ohio, our Students for Life group was prohibited from being able to participate in the LGBTQ-sponsored “Sex Week” because we wanted to talk about the mental and physical effects of abortion,” Kristan Hawkins told LifeSiteNews. “They told our group they were banned from the event because being pro-life isn’t ‘sex positive.’”

Meanwhile, she reported that Students for Life groups at other colleges in Ohio, Kentucky,  and South Carolina have had their displays stolen and/or destroyed.

“I keep telling our student leaders we’re being attacked like never before because our opponents know we’re winning,” she wrote.

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U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore WKRG
Gualberto Garcia Jones, Esq.

Opinion

We deserve to know just who is behind the allegations against Judge Roy Moore

Gualberto Garcia Jones, Esq.

November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Last Thursday, The Washington Post published an article accusing Judge Roy Moore of systematically targeting very young women and one girl for intimate relationships. Although only one of the accusers’ testimony would have constituted a crime, all of them are deeply troubling. Judge Roy Moore has unequivocally denied the allegations and has announced that he will sue The Washington Post for defamation.

I recently wrote an article for LifeSiteNews extolling the fruits of Judge Roy Moore’s public and professional career and predicted that, if elected, Roy Moore would be the nation’s most ardent defender of the right to life, family and religious liberty.

As I mentioned in that article, Judge Moore makes cosmopolitan elites of both parties very uncomfortable. If anyone running for office has a target on his back, it is Judge Roy Moore. In the eyes of most elites, Judge Roy Moore was already guilty before these allegations came out.  Guilty of defying “the law” as decreed by five unelected judges and guilty of trying to “suppress (the) civil rights” of fellow Americans. It should come as no surprise that people like the editors of National Review and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would publicly convict Judge Roy Moore in less than 12 hours solely on one article published by a politically partisan publication.

The Washington Post's political motivations to destroy the reputation of Judge Roy Moore are evident and the tactics used against him uncannily resemble those used against President Donald Trump. A month before the presidential election of 2016, The Washington Post published accusations of sexual misconduct against candidate Donald Trump while endorsing his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.  

Now, only weeks prior to the special election in Alabama, The Washington Post has published the same type of allegations against Republican Judge Moore while endorsing his Democratic opponent. The Washington Post's endorsement of Judge Roy Moore's opponent, which was published while The Washington Post's reporters were writing their exposé of the judge, was a specially mean-spirited editorial that characterized the judge as "unfit to serve."

Additionally, it has now come to light that the alleged victim was convinced to go public only after The Washington Post reporter urged her to do it. Some important details of the alleged victim's story have also began to contradict each other upon further questioning of the victim's mother.

Notwithstanding the increasingly questionable reliability of the allegations, as a committed Christian Conservative and a father of five children I cannot ignore the dangers posed by actual sexual predators, and if the allegation against Judge Moore was true, it would be absolutely disqualifying.  

However, as a pro-life activist I also understand that for those who hate morality, there is nothing out of bounds to destroy those that seek to uphold the moral order.  

I have had my life and the life of my family directly threatened because of a pro-life campaign I was directing. I have been called an American Taliban for advocating for the right to life of preborn babies. I have been accused of wanting to kill women for being pro-life. I have been called a fascist bigot for standing up for traditional marriage. I would not wish to be tried by a jury in San Francisco, New York, or Washington D.C.

That is why it is so important to ask probing questions to get to the truth of this matter, and while I do not have inside information, there is much that we can learn from the article itself.

In the key passage of the article, The Washington Post attempts to bolster the credibility of its reporting by stating:

Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don’t know one another.

Several facts are critically important from this passage:

The Washington Post first learned of the allegations when they were in Alabama and “heard that Moore had sought relationships with teenage girls.”  

The women did not go to The Washington Post, but somehow The Washington Post reporters were able to locate them.

The women did not know each other.

The obvious question is who informed The Washington Post of the allegations? And who located the women and put them in touch with Washington Post reporters?

It is common in cases of serial sexual abuse for victims to come out publicly against a person who is in a position of power, but only after the first victim shows that it is possible. But in this case the four women decided to go public independently at the exact same time and with the same publication before any information about any allegation of abuse was public. It is simply impossible to believe that their simultaneous allegations happened organically after nearly 40 years of silence.

Instead, the only logical explanation is that someone, probably a political enemy, heard a rumor and went looking for potential accusers. When they felt that they had enough evidence to make a damaging case against Judge Moore they went to the biggest media outlet they could find, and there was The Washington Post looking for ways to expose Judge Moore’s supporters or even better to expose Judge Moore himself.

None of this automatically exculpates Judge Moore, but it certainly would damage the credibility of the accusers if on top of the fact that the reporters were on the payroll of an outspoken opponent of Judge Roy Moore, the person or organization coordinating the alleged victims with the media was also a political operative or someone with a reason to damage the reputation of Judge Moore.

It is very curious that the story exposes the alleged victims in great detail, including numerous photographs of the young women, but then fails to disclose the source that led the reporters to the information. Why?

Could it be that while the women were not political (The Washington Post article is careful to note that none of the women were related to the campaign of the Democratic candidate) the source who identified and coordinated the accusers was politically motivated? Either way, Roy Moore and the people of Alabama have a right to know who is truly behind this story.  

Only Judge Moore and the accusers know if the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him are true. If they are, he should step down and repent. If they are not, he needs to fight them with every ounce of strength in his body.

Either way, the first step must be to find out who coordinated the accusers with The Washington Post reporters.

Judge Moore has acquitted himself with great distinction as a judge. Now it is his time to shine as an advocate for truth, no matter where that leads.

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Phil Lawler

Opinion

For Pope Francis, the focus is on the journey not the destination

Phil Lawler

November 13, 2017 (Catholic Culture) — Two perceptive essays that appear on the First Things site, each offering a different sort of insight into the pastoral approach of Pope Francis, help the reader to understand this frequently puzzling papacy.

In the “Public Square” section of the magazine’s December issue, editor R.R. Reno argues: “Pope Francis and his associates want to sign a peace treaty with the sexual revolution.” At the heart of his essay (which can be found under the subhead “Bourgeois religion,” Reno provides the background for this charge:

Catholicism and other forms of establishment Christianity in the West tend to take the form of bourgeois religion. That term denotes the fusion of church culture with the moral consensus held by the good, respectable people who set the tone for society as a whole.

The views of “good respectable people” have been shifting steadily, Reno observes, and Church leaders have hustled to stay in step, trimming their principles to fit the latest fashions. With Pope Francis the retreat from principle has become unmistakable; the Pontiff regularly derides the “doctors of the law" who upheld old truths in the face of new fads. Reno concludes this remarkable essay by remarking that it is “politically inept” for Church leaders to ally themselves with popular wisdom, particularly at a time when the liberal consensus that feeds that popular wisdom is breaking down.

In a separate piece, with the intriguing title “The Principled Ambivalence of Pope Francis,” Father Robert Imbelli takes a different approach to the Pontiff’s evident distaste for hard-and-fast moral judgments. Father Imbelli analyzes Evangelii Gaudium, concentrating on the principles that the Pope sets forth as critical to his thought, especially the koan-like maxim: “Time is greater than space.”

The meaning of that sentence is far from clear. But what it means to Pope Francis becomes a bit easier to understand, Father Imbelli notes, when one reads #223 of Evangelii Gaudium: “Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces.” (Italics in original) Here the “spaces” to which the Pope refers might be moral conclusions or doctrinal certainties, and his reference to “possessing” is a hint (if any further hint is needed) that he sees the desire for these spaces as suspect.

In other words, the consistent desire of Pope Francis is not to bring people to a particular conclusion, but — as he so often says — to accompany them on the journey. Father Imbelli’s analysis meshes neatly with Reno’s. The Pope is committed to dialogue with the secular world. In practice that means, as Reno puts it, leading a hierarchy that is ready to serve as “happy chaplains of the bourgeois,” because any direct questioning of the secular consensus might imperil the congenial dialogue. So the role of the Church, as Pope Francis sees it, is to serve the world’s people by accompanying them on their spiritual journeys. The question of where those journeys might end is not raised. The process is more important than the outcome.

​Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.

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