Ben Johnson

After record-breaking pro-life year, pro-life group releases model legislation for 2012

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the nation’s most effective pro-life advocacy groups is topping off a year of legislative triumphs by unveiling this year’s agenda.

On Thursday, Americans United for Life (AUL) pre-released the seven top proposals from the forthcoming Defending Life 2012. The publication, issued annually since 2005, contains proposals to move beyond defunding Planned Parenthood to tighten the regulation of abortionists, require parental consent, and assure the president’s health care reform cannot fund abortion.

“Many of these initiatives simultaneously lay the groundwork for the ultimate reversal of Roe v. Wade,” while “eliminating taxpayer funding of abortion providers,” and protecting women and girls from “the increasingly predatory practices of the scandal-ridden abortion industry,” the publication says.

The seven bills AUL will promote in the upcoming year include:

  • The “Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act of 2012.” The model legislation not only defunds abortion “but also eliminates the manipulation and misuse of other state funding sources by abortion providers.” A joint report issued by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Susan B. Anthony List discovered nearly $99 million of potential fraud at Planned Parenthood affiliates, often through “unbundling” services performed as part of an abortion.
  • The “Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act.” Although Barack Obama signed an executive order on March 24, 2010, about funding abortion as part of ObamaCare, AUL notes the order could allow funding of abortion providers after states establish their local insurance exchanges. Twelve states have already passed opt-out bills based on AUL’s statutory language, assuring their states comply with the Hyde Amendment. Another 18 have introduced or plan to introduce similar legislation.
  • The “Women’s Health Defense Act,” bans abortions conducted on babies at 20 weeks of development or beyond, based on the harm those abortions cause to mothers, as well as the child’s ability to feel pain. Five Supreme Court justices upheld a challenge to Roe on the grounds that women had come to rely on abortion as part of their health care. “AUL’s model is the only one to directly attack the Supreme Court’s primary rationale for affirming Roe v. Wade – the ‘reliance interest,’” the press release states.
  • The “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act” would end “telemed” prescription of the abortion pill. Often doctors only confer with women seeking a pharmaceutical abortion remotely; this bill will require the doctor to respond in person. 
  • The “Parental Consent Act” requires notarized, written parental consent before an abortion clinic can perform an abortion on a minor girl.
  • The “Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act,” requires abortion clinics – which often bill themselves as “medical facilities” – to “meet exacting and medically appropriate standards of patient care” and would mandate “regular inspections by state health inspectors.” Abortion mills such as Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors” are the true “back alley abortion clinics,” AUL writes.
  • The “Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act” is bill as the “most comprehensive and protective legislation of its kind,” protecting “all individuals, institutions, and health care payers.”

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of AUL, says her organization is offering this first-ever preview of its agenda “because the time is right for building on a foundation of success.”

“Last year we saw unprecedented levels of pro-life activity in state legislatures across the country,” she said in a statement sent to LifeSiteNews.com. “AUL’s model legislation provides the tools to address these challenges effectively and pursue defending life in law.”

Last year, 86 bills were introduced in 32 states that were based on AUL’s model language, with the organization’s active advice and consultation.

“The passage of 28 pieces of pro-life legislation based on AUL’s models was a significant pro-life victory, and represents increasing strength in the pro-life movement,” said Dr. Yoest.

2011 was a record year for pro-life legislation. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 83 pro-life laws passed last year, more than triple the previous record. 

The final Defending Life 2012 report will include a section demonstrating the physical harm and substandard conditions of abortion clinics, a comprehensive ranking of all 50 states’ protection of the unborn, a thorough discussion of the legislative issues facing the pro-life movement, and 42 pieces of model legislation.

Model legislation is available upon request to lawmakers now.  The extended releases include a ban on coerced or sex-selective abortions, ending assisted suicide, and protection of health care workers’ conscience rights.

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Lisa Bourne

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

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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.”

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

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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.

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

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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.”

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