All charges dropped against UK pro-life group using graphic images
BRIGHTON, September 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – All charges were dropped today against pro-life campaigners in Brighton who were charged with a “public order” offence for showing graphic images of aborted children outside a local branch of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of Britain’s busiest abortion facilities.
Andrew Stephenson, head of the pro-life campaign group Abort 67, told LifeSiteNews.com today that they hope the Brighton Magistrate court’s decision means that their growing pro-life campaign, which is spreading all over England, will now be able to function without the constant fear of police harassment participants have faced up until now.
“We’ve said all along that the police are creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression in this country. So now we hope that this court decision will have a chilling effect on the police.”
Although more and more groups are springing up around Britain who want to use the highly effective posters and banners in their pro-life work, the actions of police in June 2011, when Stephenson and his colleague Kathryn Sloane were arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act, created an atmosphere of unease.
“The trouble is that up until now it’s been unpredictable whether we would be able to carry on with our displays or not. Certainly the fact that those banners could be taken down and people arrested was preventing people’s access to information,” said Stephenson.
“But common sense prevailed today. We had a very strong case so it was very difficult for the judge to do anything but throw the case out.”
The case has generated much public interest. When the charges against Kathryn Sloane were thrown out on Friday, the story was the lead on the BBC Southeast’s evening television news broadcast, and today’s decision again topped the program. Despite the BBC’s demonstrated pro-abortion bias, the broadcaster emphasized the importance of the case as a freedom of speech test case in the midst of a tense political atmosphere where more and more Christians are complaining their views are being suppressed.
Stephenson said, “There is a sense of outrage that the police believe they have the power to shut down a message that’s true if someone else doesn’t like it. It’s as if they feel that if Person A dislikes Person B, or anything they’re saying, then Person A just has to complain to the police and it’s job done.” The case, he said, has illuminated “what’s been going on right under our noses.”
Perhaps paradoxically, the pro-lifers say the arrest and court proceedings have actually highlighted the need for demonstrations that show the graphic truth about the nature of abortion. Stephenson told LSN that the use of the photos, controversial even within the pro-life movement, can now be shown using court documents to be an effective vehicle for public education and the photos themselves unassailably true.
What the prosecution was trying to prove, he said, “was something unprovable, that a photo of an aborted baby can be ‘abusive or insulting’. But a true photograph can’t be abusive.”
He cited the testimony of one of the witnesses for the prosecution, Robert Wyatt, who said that when he and his wife had gone into the BPAS facility, they had been offered no counselling, despite the claims made by the organisation. Wyatt testified that he found the images on the posters “offensive,” but more crucially, he had no idea what the images were of.
While BPAS continues to claim that they offer full information on fetal development and all medical aspects of abortion, Wyatt confirmed that he had been offered no counselling of any kind, and that he thought the pro-lifers’ photos were of much older children. The images in the photos clearly show arms, legs and facial features, even though the posters typically carry only photos of early term abortions, usually before 12 weeks gestation.
“He thought there can’t be facial features; that this had to be a much older baby,” Stephenson said. “Then he was cross-examined, and asked did you receive any counselling? Because if he had, he was being led to believe that an 11-week-old baby was actually a six-month-old baby.
“But it turned out they received no counseling at all from BPAS, pre-abortion. They just didn’t have those questions answered.”
The exchange, Stephenson said, “certainly justified our reason for being there, exposing a huge misunderstanding about pregnancy, and about how much the abortion industry is covering up the facts.”
Throughout the western world, these graphic images displays, popularized by the highly organised Genocide Awareness Campaign, (GAP) are stirring controversy. In many pro-life circles, they are regarded as harsh and frightening, and therefore counterproductive. But the people who use them say that they have seen nearly miraculous results from showing the truth of abortion in a way that no one can deny.
“People say we are misleading and are wrong. They argue that for women abortion is the last resort and they have thought long and hard about it. But the truth is that they don’t have any real information,” said Stephenson.
“This means they’re vulnerable to the lies of the abortion industry. In a way, our work is simply about consumer protection. About giving women full disclosure about abortion so they can make a truly informed decision.”
Stephenson and the many young GAP enthusiasts say that the pictures belong right where abortion-minded women can see them.
“We believe that outside an abortion clinic is exactly the right place to be doing this. We are there because this is where the killing is going on. We’re there to empower the women with the facts. To help them come to a better decision.”
“We feel vindicated and pleased that justice is being done. But this is a bit of cold comfort to the unborn babies being killed all the time when we’ve been prevented from showing the pictures.”
LifeSiteNews.com also spoke with Gregg Cunningham, an American who flew to Britain to testify on behalf of Abort 67. Cunningham developed the GAP campaign in the late 1990s and since then it has spread throughout the US, Canada and now to Britain and Ireland. In the course of this work, Cunningham has faced opposition of all imaginable kinds.
He told LSN that this case in Britain is a landmark for the pro-life movement.
“I helped design the defence for Abort 67 because the US has been litigating these kinds of cases for decades. And even though this was just a magistrate’s court, it sends a powerful message to the police all over England. If our people are arrested we will simply show them the proof.”
Referring to another lawsuit being threatened by another abortion industry giant, Marie Stopes International, against a crisis pregnancy centre for handing out information on abortion, Cunningham said that he hopes the outcome of this court case will give them pause.
“I certainly hope that the crisis pregnancy centres will fight back and I will say we will be glad to help them defend that lawsuit.”
He compared the abortion industry’s tactics to that of the tobacco industry when they were confronted with studies showing cigarettes cause lung cancer. In the end, the litigation forced the tobacco industry to release their documents showing they were covering up information.
“The parallels are very strong. We’ve got the abortion industry attacking the validity and the methodology of studies showing the link to breast cancer and abortion. It’s always a big part of the strategy of these big industries.
In the course of developing Abort 67’s defence, Cunningham found that the National Health Service formally requires that patients be given full information on the risks of medical procedures, even if the patient does not want to hear.
“They say that it’s unethical to not impose that information over the patient’s objection. That it is a requirement of informed consent.” But the abortion the industry is attempting to suppress and withhold this vital health information, he said.
“It’s the same tactic of every powerful industry. They attempt to stifle dissent, crush the opposition, and end the debate about the welfare of women.
“It’s abusive and manipulative. We want to empower women. These crisis pregnancy centres and pro-life organisations are about empowerment of women with true information.”
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.