All articles from May 16, 2018


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Judge overturns California’s assisted suicide law

Life Legal Defense Foundation

May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A California judge overturned the state's assisted suicide law yesterday morning, ruling that the legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the End of Life Option Act.

The Act's sponsors introduced the bill in a special session of the legislature convened by Governor Jerry Brown to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, services for the disabled, and in-home health support services.

Life Legal attorneys appeared in court Tuesday morning to argue that the End of Life Option Act, which decriminalizes physician-assisted suicide, is not related or even incidental to the stated purpose of the special session. Suicide is not health care.

Riverside Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed, holding that "the End of Life Option Act does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services," and that it "is not a matter of health care funding."

Life Legal filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in March 2018, arguing that the law should be overturned because the manner in which it was passed is unconstitutional. We have argued from the outset that suicide has nothing to do with the provision of health services.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra opposed our motion, stating that legislation passed during special sessions is presumed to be constitutional. The Attorney General also argued that Life Legal's plaintiff physicians do not have standing to challenge the End of Life Option Act.

Judge Ottolia ruled that doctors do have standing to bring challenges on behalf of their patients, especially in this case, as terminally ill patients would face significant difficulties filing their own lawsuits against the Act.

"We are thrilled by today's ruling, which reinstates critical legal protections for vulnerable patients," said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. "The court made it very clear that assisted suicide has nothing to do with increasing access to health care and that hijacking the special session to advance an unrelated agenda is impermissible."

Stephanie Packer, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, was present at the hearing. After the End of Life Option Act was implemented, Stephanie's insurance company denied coverage of life-saving chemotherapy treatment, but said it would pay for "aid-in-dying" drugs, which would cost $1.20.

Stephanie has spoken out against assisted suicide in California and other states, saying, "I am so grateful that California's assisted suicide law was overturned today. The bill's proponents tout dignity, choice, compassion, and painlessness. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Choice is really an illusion for a very few. For too many, assisted suicide will be the only affordable 'treatment' that is offered them."

It is anticipated that Attorney General Becerra will appeal the ruling.

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Missouri declares pornography harmful to individuals and society

LifeSiteNews.com

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – This week the Missouri State Senate passed Senate Concurring Resolution No. 52 recognizing "pornography as leading to individual and societal harms and recognize the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level." 

The non-binding resolution passed with 31 votes in favor and none against, with two senators absent. It declares that pornography “perpetuates a sexually toxic environment” and “may contribute to the hypersexualization of teenagers, and even prepubescent children, in our society.” 

It further warns that the internet is accelerating children’s exposure to increasingly “hardcore” material at younger ages. This “may serve as children's and youth's sex education and may shape their sexual templates,” which “can lead to low self-esteem and body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and an increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior,” as well as difficulties forming and keeping faithful relationships later in life.

The language of the bill follows suit with other states declaring pornography a public health crisis. This resolution still needs the Missouri House of Representatives to pass it, which would make Missouri the 10th state to take a similar bold stance against pornography. The most recent state to pass a similar resolution was Pennsylvania in January of this year. 

Senator Ed Emory, sponsor of the resolution, said recently, "What is unveiled by a personal moral failure may be a reflection of a disturbing and invasive social evil ― that of the proliferation of pornography and modern culture’s ambivalence toward it.” Emory was speculating that pornography may have been a factor in Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ 2015 extramarital affair, during which the woman claims he took a photo of her for blackmail.

According to Uriah Stark of National Decency Coalition, the bill is expected to travel down the House next week. 

Bev Ehlen, Missouri State Director of Concerned Women of America, and Stark are championing this effort. Stark said, "Pornography has become the cancer that nobody wishes to speak about. Almost everyone has been personally impacted by porn or knows someone who has... SCR 52 breaks the silence in Missouri by declaring to the world that pornography is a public health crisis."

With today's technology, Internet providers can block 99.98% of pornography on the Internet, according to major filtering companies. Our organization hopes these resolutions will not only continue to bring much-needed awareness but motivate the Government, states, and Internet providers to take action against the crisis of pornography, enforce related laws, and utilize today's technology and offer porn-free services to customers.

Last month, University of Missouri Health Center chaplain Art Dyer testified that his pornography addiction led him to become suicidal in 1992. “It was only through talking to [my wife], working it out and a lot of counseling, a lot of therapy, that I was able to deal with my addiction,” he said. He now counsels students struggling with sexual addiction, and supports the resolution.

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Attorney General Tom Miller
Calvin Freiburger

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Iowa attorney general refuses to defend heartbeat abortion ban

Calvin Freiburger

DES MOINES, Iowa, May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Democratic attorney general of Iowa is refusing to defend the state’s new ban on aborting babies with detectable heartbeats, citing his personal opposition to the duly-enacted law.

“Attorney General Tom Miller has disqualified himself from representing the state” in the inevitable court battle over the law, Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson announced in a letter Tuesday. “The disqualification is based on the Attorney General's determination that he could not zealously assert the state's position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.”

In Iowa, attorneys general are elected separately from governors and are not bound to pursue the same policy goals as the rest of the executive branch.

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law, which is the strongest in the United States, on May 4. It is expected to stop most abortions, starting between 6-8 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and threats to a mother’s life. Reynolds subsequently vowed to defend the law, declaring it a “fight worth having, and pro-life lawmakers see it as an opportunity to challenge Roe v. Wade.

This week, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fileda lawsuit to prevent it from taking effect on July 1, citing Roe. Thomas More Society and the Liberty Counsel have both offered to defend the law pro-bono. 

“We commend Attorney General Tom Miller for standing up for a woman’s right to control her own body, and decide for herself whether and when to become a parent,” Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laugens said in response to the news. “Not only is this ban blatantly unconstitutional, it’s also extremely harmful to women.”

But the announcement will not leave the heartbeat law defenseless. Thompson’s letter recommends that the state accept Thomas More Society’s offer to represent the state, and the pro-life law firm has agreed.

“Since the Thomas More Society’s mission is to protect women and babies from the devastating consequences of abortion, when there is a choice between life and death, the Thomas More Society is honored to be called upon to defend life,” Thomas More Society special counsel Martin Cannon said in a statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to uphold the heartbeat law and overturn Roe v. Wade under its current membership. But, pro-life leaders such as Rep. Steve King, R-IA, have argued for enacting similar laws anyway because it takes more than a year for a state law to reach the court, by which time many expect President Donald Trump to have appointed another pro-life justice, securing a clear pro-life majority.

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Maryland outlaws therapy for minors who want to overcome same-sex attraction

Calvin Freiburger

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Republican governor of Maryland signed into law a ban on licensed therapists or counselors providing minors with therapy to resolve gender confusion or unwanted homosexual attraction.

Larry Hogan signed the so-called Youth Mental Health Protection Act into law on Tuesday. The state Senate passed the bill 34-12 in March, and the state House 95-27 in April. 

“The governor was pleased to sign this bill, and believes it’s the right thing to do,” Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse told Metro Weekly.

Starting in October, it will be illegal to perform on a minor “any effort to change the behavioral expression of an individual’s sexual orientation, change gender expression, or eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” Violators will be deemed to have “engaged in unprofessional conduct” and risk a suspension or revocation of their health or child care licenses.

The ban applies to all minors regardless of whether they or their parents desire or consent to the treatment. It leaves Maryland minors struggling with such conditions and wanting to overcome them no other choice but to go to another state for treatment. By contrast, Maryland allows medical professionals to waive parental notification to perform a minor’s abortion in certain circumstances, and does not require parents to consent to an abortion.

Ban supporters note that groups such as the World Psychiatric Association condemnreparative therapy as junk science, and invoke physically harmful practices like electric shocks and induced vomiting as representative examples. 

But bill opponents called such examples red herrings. Many former homosexuals have attested to the success of various therapies that helped them overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. 

Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire criticized the bill for being an overreach as well as dangerous.

“The definition is so expansive this bill could revoke someone’s license and livelihood by a simple conversation,” said Simonaire, who introduced an amendment to forbid abusive and coercive methods but permit simple counseling aimed at helping those wanting to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. He warned that forbidding legitimate professionals from treating these issues could force young people to turn to unqualified practitioners of violent techniques.

“Not a single person testified of abusive situations in Maryland, whether physical or mental,” Simonaire pointed out last month. “I’m really wondering what the problem is if we can’t identify it.”

The lawmaker again became a focal point of the debate when his daughter Meagan, a Republican House Delegate and bisexual woman, cited her own life in support of the bill. She said her parents didn’t force her into conversion therapy and admitted they were trying to help her, but claimed the subject was still a source of depression.

The elder Simonaire responded that he and his wife had merely recommended Christian counseling to their daughter, and that he loved her despite disagreeing with her lifestyle. He also pointed out that the 27-year-old Meagan had only revealed her sexuality to her parents the year before, as an adult, making her story somewhat inapplicable to the bill at hand.

As for gender confusion, studies have found that between 80 percent and 90 percent of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence. It is unclear whether Maryland’s ban, which expressly permits providing “acceptance, support, and understanding” of homosexuality or transgenderism, would apply to merely advising minors that their unwanted feelings are likely to be temporary.

Additionally, experts such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons’ Dr. Jane Orient object that these bans take away patients’ “right to choose their therapeutic goals” as recognized in the Hippocratic Oath. Others warn that reinforcing a child’s gender confusion rather than either treating it or letting it naturally subside is dangerous to their mental and emotional stability.

Forty percent of transgender Americans have attempted suicide, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). A report last year from the University of Cambridge found that 96 percent of transgendered Scottish students attempted self-harm and 40 percent attempted suicide.

Ten other states — Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia already ban reparative therapy. New Hampshire and Hawaii are likely to follow.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass.
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250 priests join appeal asking bishops to address crisis in the Church

LifeSiteNews.com

May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On May 2, 2018, priests from around the world launched an appeal to bishops to “reaffirm Christ’s teaching” in response to a pastoral crisis facing the Catholic Church.

Following its initial release with only 15 signers, the Pastoral Appeal has rapidly obtained the support of approximately 250 priests from 39 countries on 6 continents.  The concerns expressed and the desire for the bishops’ assistance clearly resonate with priests worldwide.

This notable growth has occurred despite press coverage being effectively limited to independent Catholic media, which are primarily in the United States and Europe. (For reporting see “Appeal News” at CuraPastoralis.org.)

Some of the early coverage mistakenly cast the Pastoral Appeal as a veiled criticism of Pope Francis, especially of Amoris Laetitia. In reality, the appeal wishes to reaffirm the Gospel in order to correct a false view of Christian moral life that has taken root over the past 50 years.

The intention of the signers is described in the Background Information (see the website):

  • to witness publicly to Christ and his teachings, thereby providing counsel for those who are in doubt or misled, solidarity for those remaining faithful to the Gospel in difficult circumstances, and encouragement to their brother priests to minister with compassion, perseverance, and the authentic Gospel rather than to give way to impatience, passivity, or deliberate ambiguity;
  • to draw attention to the Church’s decades-long pastoral efforts to heal the damage by correcting these errors;
  • to request, in light of the inadequacy of those past efforts, that each bishop consider using his full apostolic authority in order to reaffirm the Gospel and refute the errors; and
  • to present their pastoral concerns and appeal in a fraternal and filial manner.

This positive, pastoral approach may account for the welcome the Pastoral Appeal is receiving among priests.  Support has also been expressed by some prelates, including:

Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee Kok Hin of Miri, Malaysia: “God bless you for providing me this opportunity to join you in upholding the principles of pastoral ministry as found in the Gospels.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke: “May [the signers’]… action inspire their bishops to dispel the confusion of the present time in the Church and thus to begin to heal the division regarding the Catholic faith and its practice.”

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