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79% of SC GOP backs personhood, pro-life Republican tops pro-abortion GOP foe, Cuccinelli’s new gig

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While Tuesday night's primary results left the political class reeling and Republican grassroots activists claiming victory, numerous races related to the pro-life and pro-family cause have received less media attention.

South Carolina

Tuesday night's election results show that South Carolina's Republican primary voters overwhelmingly support the concept of personhood. The state party asked whether Article I, Section 3 of the South Carolina state Constitution should be amended to say that “no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law,” and that these “rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception." A whopping 79 percent of GOP voters responded yes. The vote was not open to all voters and was not seriously contested. “The sweeping success of this Personhood resolution means congressional Republicans in South Carolina just received a mandate for Personhood from the grassroots,” wrote Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, after the election. “And if any 2016 Republican Presidential candidate expects to do well in the crucial South Carolina primaries, that candidate cannot forget that 79 percent of the base believes preborn children deserve full Personhood protections!” GOP primary voters also backed a measure to eliminate the state income tax. The state's Democrats approved questions supporting online gambling and medical marijuana.

Elsewhere in the state, pro-life U.S. Sen. Tim Scott may be on his way to making history as the first elected black senator in South Carolina history. Unofficial results showed Scott steamrolling over his primary competitor, Randall Young, by a margin of nine-to-one. Scott already made history as the first black person to serve in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to fulfill the Senate term left by incumbent Jim DeMint. Scott has not shied away from confronting the Obama administration in either capacity. In 2011, after Obama threatened to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, then-Congressman Scott called the proposal “an impeachable act.” Days later, Obama backed down.

Sen. Lindsey Graham managed to avoid a runoff election Tuesday night, picking up 59 percent of the vote as of this writing. He needed only pass 50 percent. His closest rival, pro-life conservative Lee Bright, garnered 15 percent of the vote. Graham never looked truly vulnerable, collecting more than $12 million in campaign funds, while none of his six challengers collected even one million dollars. His decision to introduce the national ban on abortions after 20-weeks into the Senate last year helped solidify his standing in the socially conservative state, something that had been called into question over his support for left-wing Obama administration appointees and high-profile backing of amnesty for illegal aliens.

Maine

David Brat was not the only pro-life Tea Party candidate to pull off an unexpected win last night. Former Maine state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin defeated pro-abortion Republican Kevin Raye in a primary to run for the vacant second district seat. Poliquin spoke frequently of his Catholic faith and his belief in the rights of the unborn, as he had in previous elections. “It's clear to me that at conception, a life has begun, and that is a life that should be protected,” he said at a candidate's forum in 2012. Raye, who had lost two previous runs for Congress, called himself “pro-choice.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Poliquin “made his opposition to abortion rights a central issue in the race," as he did not vow not to raise taxes. (Raye declined to make such a pledge.) At Poliquin's victory party Tuesday night, former Maine lawmaker Harry Rideout told Maine Public Broadcasting, “I would say pro-life has quite a bit to do with it right now.” This fall, Poliquin will battle pro-abortion Democrat Emily Cain. The National Republican Congressional Committee is pitching the race as “a self-made businessman who managed companies that created thousands of jobs” vs. a career politician.

The congressional seat is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Michael H. Michaud, who is running against pro-life Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage recently signed a state budget that defunded Planned Parenthood.

Virginia

The upset of the night was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's lopsided defeat by the little known and underfunded Tea Party candidate David Brat. Brat bested Cantor, who had been seen as a future Speaker of the House, by a 56-44 percent margin. Cantor had introduced rape and incest exceptions into the national 20-week abortion ban. More recently, as a featured speaker at the 2014 March for Life, Cantor promised that he would see to it that “the House will stand for life” by reintroducing the 20-week ban and measures to end taxpayer funding of abortion until they become law. Cantor had the unified support of the Republican leadership and collected more than $5 million to Brat's $200,000, spending more than $1 million in the last two months alone. But it was Cantor's continual plea to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants that proved a critical component in his surprise upset defeat, particularly as the news featured young immigrants streaming across the southern border without their parents in order to get in line for U.S. citizenship. Cantor, Brat said, had lost touch with his district's voters.

The results startled some in the Republican leadership. Congressman Peter King, R-NY, told MSNBC's Morning Joe that he and other moderate Republicans would not allow the “Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over" the GOP. King has considered running for president in 2016 on a platform promoting a hawkish foreign policy.

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The last Virginia Republican to beat an establishment favorite, former Virginia state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has a new job. He will be taking over the Senate Conservatives Fund, the group founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint to support conservative Republicans during the primaries. The abortion industry said deafeating Cuccinelli in his hotly contested race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe was its top priority. Many believed Republicans did not do enough to support the conservative favorite, who had won several races in the Democrat-dominated northern Virginia area.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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