Ben Johnson

Armenian women still have average of 8 and as high as 20 abortions in lifetime

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

YEREVAN, ARMENIA, December 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The practice of sex-selective abortion has become so deeply ingrained in the former Soviet republic of Armenia - where the median number of abortions obtained by women over 40 is a staggering eight - that the nation will soon face “a deficit of women,” according to a United Nations health official.

A new report produced by the United Nations Population Fund, the Armenian ministry of health, and the Institute of Perinatology found that 7,000 Armenian women - or 0.8 percent of all Armenian women of child-bearing age - had elected to have sex-selective abortions since 2006. Armenia has the world’s second worst ratio of boys-to-girls in the world,  second only to China, according to a World Economic Forum report. The average nation has a ratio of 106 boys to 100 girls; Armenia’s average is 112 to 100.

The study, “Prevalence and Reasons of Sex-Selective Abortions in Armenia,” estimated a loss of 1,400 future mothers. UNFPA Armenia Assistant Representative Garik Hayrapetyan told reporters Monday, “In ten to 20 years,” he said,” we will face a deficit of women.”

He was surprised to learn that “highly educated women” with a comfortable salary were the most likely to choose to abort unborn female children.

Dr. Vigen Guroian, professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia told LifeSiteNews.com, “I cannot understand why the Armenian people are committing genocide against themselves now, when they’ve endured it.” During the Armenian genocide (1915-1923), 1.5 million of the Ottoman Empire’s 2 million Armenian Christians were exterminated by Muslim Turks.

“What’s even more sad is that the news comes out at this time of the year, at Advent and at the time of the birth of the Lord,” he said.

“If the Virgin Mary had been in Armenia at this time, she probably would have been encouraged to have an abortion.” 

Dr. Guroian, who is of Armenian descent, said the debate became personal for him after the birth of his granddaughter five months ago, when he realized she may never have been born in her family’s homeland.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, (PACE) passed a resolution in October stating that aborting unborn girls “reinforces a climate of violence against women,” and the coercion young mothers undergo constitutes “a form of psychological violence.” It particularly highlighted Armenia’s situation. However, the resolution deemed the practice “justified for the prevention of serious sex-linked genetic diseases.” Its author, Doris Stump, instructed, “We should be careful, however, not to use prenatal sex selection as a pretext to limit legal abortion.”

Armenia’s abortion rate, although lower than it was in the 1990s and only one-third the rate of the 1980s, remains staggeringly high. The median number of abortions for women over 40 is eight, and some women have as many as 20 abortions in a lifetime. 

Experts attribute this to the lingering influence of the Soviet Union, when abortion became the nation’s primary means of birth control. Similar rates persist in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. “This is now a deeply culturally set pattern. I don’t think the church could solve the problem tomorrow by speaking up,” Dr. Guroian said.

“I’ve voiced my anguish at the church’s reticence to address this in the past,” he said. “Perhaps it had an excuse during the period of Soviet rule, but it’s had no excuse for the past 20 years.”

A spokesperson for the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America declined to comment on this story. Representatives from the Eastern Diocese were not immediately available by deadline.

However, some voices within Armenia have articulated the Christian Church’s opposition to abortion. Fr. Kyuregh Talyan, a parish priest in the Kotayk Diocese, held a press conference last month to say, “A human being begins life from the moment of conception. To me, an emotionless concept like ‘artificial termination of pregnancy’ is nothing more than homicide.” Its widespread tolerance “comes from a new religion prevailing in Europe - the religion of ‘human rights.’”

The conscious decision to abort unborn girls now pervades the globe. The British medical journal The Lancet estimated some 12 million sex-selection abortions had taken place in India from 1980 to 2010. The shortage of women has become so acute it has led to “wife-sharing.” A study of the sex imbalance in India, China, and South Korea links the absence of potential wives to increased aggression, violence, and criminal behavior among men. The Parental Non-Discrimination Act aims to end the practice in the United States.

Armenian legislators have proposed a law forbidding doctors from disclosing the child’s sex until after the cut-off time when abortions are forbidden under law. Like much of Europe, Armenia restricts abortions to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, many later abortions take place, often chemical abortions induced at home without a doctor’s supervision.

Yet some within Armenia emphasize the real danger is not “gendercide,” but abortion itself. The head of the Department of Gynecology at the Armenian-American Wellness Center, Dr. Marina Voskanyan, warned, “Women have to know that discontinuing any pregnancy…will lead to serious health issues. An abortion is a very negative phenomenon.”

Dr. Vahe Ter-Minasyan, an ob-gyn in Armenia, agreed: “To opt for an abortion is merely a question of ignorance. If women and their husbands knew how much damage an abortion causes to a woman’s health, they would never choose it.”

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Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

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11-year-old in Uruguay refuses to abort after rape

Sofia Vazquez-Mellado
By Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, May 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An 11-year-old girl in Uruguay is making headlines for refusing to abort after being raped by a 41-year-old relative. Pro-abortion organizations in the country are using the case to ask for a broadening in the law, which allows for abortion up until 12 weeks gestation, 14 weeks in cases of rape, and up to 9 months when the life or health of the mother are at risk or when the baby is “unviable.”

Local media report that the girl, who is 18 weeks pregnant, lived with her abuser for over a year prior to the pregnancy. Her mother is now asking authorities to make her abort, but according to the local newspaper La Diaria, a team of psychiatrists from Uruguay’s Child and Adolescent Institute (INAU) has said that “the girl’s position has been confirmed without a doubt: she wishes to be a mother.”

According to her relatives, the girl suffers from a mild mental incapacity, although she is not considered handicapped.

In a press conference, Susana Muñiz, president for the Association of State Health Services and former minister of health, said: “An 11-year-old girl obviously has a body not prepared to be pregnant, with a very small uterus.”

However, according to Monica Silva, head of the INAU’s Health Division, “There is no risk to the life of the girl nor that of the baby. We cannot force her to abort.”

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“Even if her mother wants it, it would be inhuman to force her to abort,” continued Silva. “The fact that there was a rape doesn’t allow me to force her to abort. This [aborting] may seem like a protection of her rights but it is against the girl’s will.”

Nevertheless, a press release “demanding” that the girl abort “immediately” was issued by several pro-abortion NGOs soon after, on May 12. “The hypocritical and bureaucratic system allows for her rights to be undermined without considering the cost this will bring to the girl,” it read.

“Who will take charge now to stop the undermining of her rights and protect her health and her life? How much longer do we need to wait before somebody decides responsibly on the interruption of that pregnancy?” it concluded.

In her interview, Silva also said the girl’s parents “never visited, with exception of one of the six siblings she has.”

 “The best that could happen would be to ensure that she has a ‘welcoming family,’ that would receive the girl with her baby,” continued Silva. “I doubt we can achieve that because it’s hard to find families who want this challenge.”

The girl remains under INAU’s care and her abuser has been imprisoned.

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Steve Weatherbe

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Christian jeweller made gay couples’ rings but still got targeted by gay lobby

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

MOUNT PEARL, Newfoundland, May 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) –While North Americans are used to reading about Christian business people being fined and excoriated for refusing to cater to homosexual weddings, Newfoundland has added a novel twist: there a Christian jeweller has been punished financially and deluged with hate mail even though he did do business with a homosexual couple.

Nicole White and Pam Renouf liked the service they got from Esau Jardon of Today’s Jewellers in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, who took their deposit and proceeded to design and build them two engagement rings. They even recommended the store to friends.

But by the time one friend went there, the Mexican-born Jardon had put up a sign in his shop window marking Mother’s Day—and his strong, traditional Christian beliefs: “The Sanctity of Marriage IS UNDER ATTACK; Help Keep Marriage Between Man & Woman,” it read.

The friend went ballistic. Her picture of the sign went viral. The couple went back on their deal and back to the store, demanding their deposit. Today’s Jewellers’ Facebook page was so deluged with hundreds of hateful emails and many threats that Jardon and his brother, who is his business partner, have to shut it down.

LifeSiteNews asked White if Jardon had been punished enough. “Omigod, yes,” she responded. “Way, way too much.” But earlier she explained to a local newspaper why the couple cancelled their order. “The ring symbolizes love, and just knowing that that’s the sign that they have up there — every time I look at my ring, yes, I’ll think of us, clearly, but also everything we went through. So I don’t want my ring from there anymore. I just want my refund.”

At first, she reported, “They just said that that's their beliefs, and they think they can put up whatever they want. I just said it was very disrespectful, it's very unprofessional and I wanted a refund,” White said. “I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But I don't think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business.”

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Jardon, at first, was loath to return it, lest this be seen as an apology for his beliefs. Reached in Toronto, he told the St. John’s Telegram, “When I walk on Church Street in Toronto, where I am right now, and I see [LGBT rainbow flags], and I see a lot of signs and a lot of things on public property, I don't have a problem with them. I accept it. I chose to come to Canada... and we accept the whole package... I don't discriminate against that, nor do I come and tell them to take them down. For the same reason, I ask to have the same respect in return, especially when it's in my own business.”

But what is sauce for the gander is not sauce for the geese, or for the LGBT community that crowded onto the bandwagon, or for the CBC which was all too ready to label the jeweller’s sign “homophobic.”

However, some have offered support and sympathy. Rod Dreher, blogging at The American Conservative, observed that only so-called sexual minorities expected this kind of treatment. “Is a fundamentalist Christian permitted to send her osso buco back to the kitchen if she discovers that homosexual hands cooked it? Of course not. Some delicate snowflakes are more delicate than others.”

Referring to recent decisions by courts and human rights tribunals against Christian vendors who refused to serve homosexuals, Dreher concluded on an ironic note. The pressure on Jardon to return the deposit marked “the next phase in the March of Progress. You must not only bake the cake, or arrange the flowers, or make the ring, you must hold the correct opinion when you do it.”

Jardon defends his right to his own opinion. “One of the reasons my family chose to move to Canada was the rights that it offered, the freedom of religion and freedom of speech, both of which at the time seemed to be very limited in Mexico,” he said.

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Canadians headed to the ballot box for the fall federal election should remember the right to life is 'the most basic thing in society,' the archbishop tells LifeSiteNews. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
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Exclusive: Clinging to Christ will help those struggling with sexual identity, says Montreal’s archbishop

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By Pete Baklinski

OTTAWA, May 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Montreal’s archbishop, Christian Lépine, weighed in on what the Catholic Church actually has to offer people struggling with the biological sex they were born with, telling LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview that it’s no mistake that God creates the human person as male or female and that every person must look for their identity within a “view of God.”

“The teachings of the Church as such, its most basic one, is that we’re made in the image of God. That's always the starting point. And when you lose track of that — that you're made in the image of God — then somehow you come to lose trust in who you are as a human being, and you know less of who you are, and you don't know anymore who you are, and you [find yourself] looking for your own identity outside of a view of God,” Lépine told LifeSiteNews last week one day prior to the annual National March for Life that drew an estimated 25,000 pro-life advocates.

Following the first book of the Bible, where it is stated that God created human beings as “male and female,” the Catholic Church has always taught, and continues to teach, that the male/female binary is God’s plan for mankind.

As the book of Genesis (1:27) states: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses that recognizing and preserving the male/female sexual difference is necessary for a healthy society.

“Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out,” the Catechism states.

Lépine said that anytime questions about sexual identity arise for the faithful, “we must go back to the basics,” namely that “every human is created in the image of God, and of course, biblically, every human being exists as a woman or as a man.”

The archbishop’s words are foreign to mainstream notions of so-called ‘gender fluidity’ where male/female difference is construed as a social construct and ultimately as a personal choice.

Lépine acknowledged that some people suffer when it comes to accepting their own sexual identity as either a male or female based on biological characteristics.

“Sometimes people have sufferings about their own desires, or about their own sense of identity, or about the fact that masculinity and femininity exists, or about the fact that you as ‘human being’ [exist] as a male or female, as a man or as a woman.”

He called the male/female binary “a reality that is part of the [human] experience,” adding that it is also “taught in the Bible.”

Lépine stressed that the Church does not leave people “looking for a meaning in their lives and their own sense of identity” to struggle on their own, but offers them many helps and aids, including a clear anthropology on the nature of the human person.

“As Christians, we have the Bible to help people. We have Jesus Christ to help people. We have faith in God to help people. So, going back, [we must be] conscious that we are made in the image of God. And our own sexuality — what is the meaning of being a man or woman — is related to our vocation to love. And, every human being as such, made in the image of God — being a man or woman — is called to love.”

“So, how [are we] to help [such] people? You can talk about things theoretically, which is one thing. But also, we have to be conscious of people who live through situations where they're looking for their own identity and we need, I think, the Bible and faith to help them.”

Fluid notions of gender have been criticized by Pope Francis on at least three occasions, and prior to this, by Pope Benedict XVI.

“Gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion," Pope Francis told young people during his voyage to Naples, Italy last March.

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In his 2012 Christmas greeting, Pope Benedict condemned gender theory as a “profound falsehood” since it denies the male and female sex as a “given element of nature.” According to Benedict, instead of acknowledging that God created people male and female, gender theory posits the existence of sexual social constructions that people can decide to conform to or not.

“The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

“When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being,” Benedict concluded. “The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears,” he said.

Earlier in the interview, Lépine spoke about the need to “promote relentlessly life and respect for life” in the face of the country’s top court setting the legal stage for allowing doctors to end the lives of their patients under the pretext of compassion and mercy.

“You don't take care of someone when you suppress the life of someone, because you're not solving a problem. You're suppressing the person. It doesn't work,” he said.

Referring to the upcoming federal election this fall, the archbishop called “life and the right-to-life and dignity of the person” an “important subject, because it's the most basic thing in society.” 

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