Hilary White

All charges dropped against UK pro-life group using graphic images

Hilary White
Hilary White
Image
Image

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.”

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

Advertisement
Featured Image
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, , ,

Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook