Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Abortion giant Marie Stopes threatens leading pro-life pregnancy centre with lawsuit

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, July 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Britain’s most prominent pro-life pregnancy counseling centre, the Good Counsel Network, has been threatened with legal action by the international abortion giant Marie Stopes International. At the same time as abortion facilities across the country are feeling the pressure of a government investigation into their illegal practices, MSI has accused the Good Counsel Network of “intimidating” women going into their abortion facility in London.

The GCN is one of the few organizations in Britain dedicated to providing advice and support for women contemplating abortion or who are suffering psychological trauma following an abortion. The centre is run according to the pro-life precepts of the Catholic Church, but is independent and funded privately by donations of cash, maternity clothes and baby items.

But it is their daily prayer vigil outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility in Whitfield Street, London that continues to infuriate the abortion industry. The group says these “abortuary vigils” give volunteers the opportunity to talk to women who are in crisis pregnancies, but insist that they would not attempt to directly prevent any woman from entering the facility.

Neil Addison, an expert in anti-discrimination law, told LifeSiteNews.com that the Good Counsel Network has received legal notice that Marie Stopes intends to pursue an injunction, under the Protection from Harassment Act and the Data Protection Act, if they do not stop the prayer vigils. Marie Stopes has also threatened to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. Among Marie Stopes’ complaints is that during their prayer vigils the GCN display rosary beads in “baby pink and blue”.

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Addison, head of the Thomas More Legal Centre that defends the increasingly proscribed public expression of Christianity, is representing GCN. He released to LSN a copy of the letter from Kirkland & Ellis International law firm dated July 16th. In his response, Addison says that MSI is itself indulging in a campaign of intimidation using its vastly superior financial resources to rid itself of a group that is becoming increasingly embarrassing to the abortion giant. He called the threat “legally fatuous,”

“Let us be blunt,” Addison wrote. “Marie Stopes International makes a great deal of money by persuading women to kill their unborn babies and makes no money if women decide to keep their babies.” They are “by no stretch of the imagination a neutral and impartial voice” and have a “substantial financial interest in trying to silence” opposition.

“That is very clearly what they are trying to do with regard to the work of the Good Counsel Network.”

In their letter, Marie Stopes complains that “protesters” affiliated with GCN have “shouted ‘Don’t apologise just leave!’ or used similar vocabulary at MSI’s clients, have approached clients with plastic foetus’ asking the client to pray for the foetus, have attempted to intimidate clients by running up to them, have handed out baby pink and blue rosary beads, and have handed out leaflets containing graphic images.”

Marie Stopes also accuses the demonstrators of trying “to ‘cuddle’ the client,” which they say has caused some clients “immense distress”. One client, they said, was injured “whilst being pursued by a protestor”.

The letter complains that “protesters have filmed clients entering and leaving MSI’s centres” and, because clients give their names over the intercom, this constitutes “processing of personal data.”

The abortion organization also observes that leaflets handed out by the demonstrators claim that “abortion can result in breast cancer, disruption of the menstrual cycle and the inability to become pregnant in the future”.

“These claims are wholly unfounded. Likewise, the possible psychological implications of abortion set out in the leaflet are also misleading,” says MSI. The group says it can make a complaint to the ASA that these leaflets are “misleading, unsubstantiated and in some circumstances untrue”.

But Addison says that GCN is ready to defend all their activities and that the information in the leaflets on the effects of abortion is “based on solid scientific study and on the testimony and experience of many women who have had abortions,” effects which MSI “attempts to ignore”.

As MSI lashes out at GCN, the abortion industry in Britain is currently under heavy public pressure after a government probe revealed routine flouting of the rules governing abortion. Violations include performing abortions for sex-selection and providing forged permission forms from doctors who never speak to or examine clients. Britain’s Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, has called the practice of sex-selective abortion, which is being revealed to be rampant at Britain’s abortion facilities, “morally repugnant” and has ordered an investigation by the Quality Care Commission.

On their website, GCN says, “we aim to approach each woman offering her help and support to continue her pregnancy”. Only “one or two” trained volunteers are designated to talk to the women, while “all the others attending remain in constant prayer for the women, their children, the abortuary staff and the other people involved in her decision”.

Addison calls the threat about the Advertising Standards Authority “bizarre,” but the abortion industry has been shown to be in a close partnership with the government advertising regulators. In 2010,  the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) received over 5000 complaints after they approved commercial “post-conception advice services” – in reality abortion businesses – to be advertised on television and radio. The decision of BCAP and CAP was later ratified by the ASA who said the ads would not cause widespread offence, despite the outpouring of public anger.

Officially a charity, MSI is one of the largest and richest abortion industrialists and lobbyists in the world, running abortion, sterilization and artificial contraceptive operations in much of the developing world. It is funded heavily by the UK government. Along with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), MSI is one of the busiest abortion organizations in the UK, conducting thousands of abortions across the country, largely funded by the National Health Service.

The British abortion industry has recently become increasingly agitated by opponents who are garnering public attention with their use of large graphic photographs of aborted children and who are skilled in making the case against abortion in public.

In March, BPAS expressed outrage that a Catholic bishop, Alan Hopes, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, had dared to take a stand against abortion by attending the 40 Days for Life event, that drew huge media attention, in London. A BPAS spokesman said there is “no moral justification” for Bishop Hopes’ presence, because the women coming into their facilities had “already made up their minds”.

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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
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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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