Peter Baklinski

Abortion debate jeopardizes 900-year-old Liechtenstein dynasty

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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LIECHTENSTEIN, May 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein has threatened to step down from his royal duties if a citizen-led initiative to limit his vetoing power proves successful. The citizens’ initiative gained momentum last year when the 43 year-old prince threatened to veto the results of a referendum should the majority opt to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in cases of fetal deformity.

Speaking to parliament in March, the prince, a devout Catholic and father of four, made it clear that for the Royal Family to continue its vision for the country, it must retain the royal power to veto legislation contrary to that vision.

“The royal family is not willing to undertake its political responsibilities unless the prince… has the necessary tools at his disposal,” said Prince Alois as reported by Agence France-Presse. “But if the people are no longer open to that, then the royal family will not want to undertake its political responsibilities and ... will completely withdraw from political life.”

Liechtenstein, with a population of 36,000 and a land area of 160 square kilometers, has a constitution that empowers the hereditary prince with the royal right of veto. The royal family and their princes have ruled the tiny country as an autonomous monarchy since the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806.

Abortion in Liechtenstein is illegal under current law. According to the Penal Code of 1987, whoever performs an abortion can be punished with up to one year in prison. If an abortion is performed for profit, the sentence is elevated to three years in prison. Abortions are permitted, however, when deemed necessary to prevent serious danger to the life of the pregnant woman or serious harm to her health, when the pregnant woman is under the age of fourteen and has not at any time been married to the man who impregnated her, or when performed to save the pregnant woman from immediate danger to her life that cannot otherwise be prevented.

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Spokeswoman for Prince Alois, Silvia Hassler-De Vos told the Associated Press last year that the prince’s vow to veto the September 2011 abortion bill should its support reach a majority in the referendum was his way of sending a “clear signal that abortion isn’t an acceptable solution for an unwanted pregnancy.”

The abortion bill, which had previously been voted down by the nation’s parliament in a 25-7 vote earlier last year, failed in the referendum, with 52% of the vote affirming article 27 of the nation’s constitution which states that “everyone has the right to life.”

“I am proud of our Prince of course!” said Dr. Josef Seifert, Professor of Philosophy at the International Academy for Philosophy in Liechtenstein to LifeSiteNews when asked to comment on the prince’s refusal to compromise with abortion.

The prince’s pro-life position runs contrary to a socially liberal trend in Liechtenstein that recently led to the creation of same-sex civil unions, a measure that was approved by referendum despite the fact that as much as 80% of the country identifies itself as Catholic.

In the aftermath of the abortion referendum’s failure, political activists formed a citizens’ committee to revoke the prince’s right of veto. Under the Liechtenstein constitution, the committee had to gather 1,500 signatures by the middle of May to call a referendum.

Sigvard Wohlwend, a spokesperson for the citizens’ committee, told LifeSiteNews that 1732 signatures were submitted to Parliament on May 10. Wohlwend said that Parliament will debate the initiative today and suspects that a popular vote on a newly proposed bill to limit the prince’s power will happen in the near future.

“As we understand, the government will set the date for July 1, 2012,” he said.

Wohlwend clarified that the citizens’ initiative “does not strive to abolish the princely right to veto bills. But it wants to restrain it, so in future the Prince shall not have the power to veto bills passed by the Liechtenstein electorate.”

“He will keep his veto right against bills passed by the parliament. So the princely veto right will remain as it has been in 98%+ of the cases,” he said.

While the catalyst for the citizens’ initiative was the prince’s announcement to veto abortion legislation, Wohlwend emphasized that “this initiative to restrain the princely veto right is not a question of pro or contra abortion: It is only a matter of how much power the Prince of Liechtenstein shall have in future.”

Despite the optimism of the citizens’ group, even if the proposed referendum this summer proves successful, the prince of Liechtenstein nonetheless retains the power to veto it. Analysts suspect however that it is more likely that the prince would resign his duties and retire from politics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Prince Alois refrained from granting an interview with LifeSiteNews, saying through his spokesperson that the “interview topic concerns mainly issues of domestic policy” that he did not wish to divulge to “foreign media.”

Francis Phillips of the U.K.’s Catholic Herald commented that Prince Alois is a role model for political leaders since he does not let politics trump his own faith convictions.

“Prince Alois, as a practising Catholic – and unlike some American high-profile, supposedly Catholic politicians who I have blogged about recently – does not believe he can separate his faith from his public duties over a matter of such fundamental importance,” wrote Phillips.

“I think he is right. He is exercising his right of veto, not because of a personal whim but to uphold natural justice against the threat of an unjust law.”

“As the custodian of justice towards unborn future citizens of Liechtenstein, he is acting more responsibly than the activists,” she said.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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