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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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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