EXCLUSIVE: Poland to vote on historic bill banning all abortions after massive grassroots campaign
WARSAW, Poland, June 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After months of shielding the initiative from English media, organizers of a massive pro-life grassroots campaign in Poland have now told LifeSiteNews.com that Parliamentarians in the country are preparing to vote this week on an historic bill that would enshrine total protection for children in the womb from the moment of conception.
The organizers told LSN that they were worried that if the news broke in the English-speaking world, pro-abortion foreign powers would have poured money into the country to oppose their popular efforts.
To bring the abortion ban before Parliament under Poland’s political system, the sponsors needed to collect 100,000 signatures within three months. They got 600,000 in two weeks.
The bill, which comes up for first reading in the ‘Sejm’ (lower house) on Thursday, is the result of a huge nation-wide grassroots initiative launched by Warsaw’s PRO Foundation and supported by the country’s bishops and a newly-formed pro-life parliamentary committee.
Abortion was first foisted on the deeply Catholic people of Poland after Hitler’s tanks stormed the country 70 years ago; but the demise of the Nazis was followed by decades of state-promoted abortion-on-demand under their Soviet successors.
“This project is a chance to finally reject the heritage of Nazism and Communism which brought ‘legal abortion’ to Poland in the first place,” Jacek Sapa of the PRO Foundation told LifeSiteNews. “It was Hitler and Stalin who imposed it on Poles and it’s high time we clearly disassociate ourselves from those deadly ideologies.”
“The Church clearly teaches that it is the obligation of Catholics not to protect the current ‘compromise’ but to aim at complete protection of life,” said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former personal assistant to Blessed John Paul II, in an interview for Gosc Niedzielny, Poland’s largest opinion weekly. “This is a solution, which the Church calls for. I support all efforts aiming at improving the protection of human life.”
The status quo on abortion: Illegal, but “not punishable” if…
Ever since the Communists were overthrown in 1989, Poland has labored to restore its cultural and religious heritage. As part of that project, in 1993 the country passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the West. Since then, abortions have fallen dramatically, with Ministry of Health data showing a drop from 82,000 abortions in 1989 to about 500 in 2008.
Under the current law, abortions can only be obtained where the child is diagnosed with a serious defect or disease, where the mother is diagnosed with a health problem, or where the pregnancy resulted from “illegal activity.”
However, the law and its exceptions are often abused by pro-abortion doctors. ‘Defect’ can be deemed to include something as minimal as cleft palate, and though abortions are only supposed to take place up to the point of viability, or about 24 weeks, in practice doctors can fudge the dates. Further, though pregnancies resulting from “illegal activity” would seem to refer to pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, it can also be applied to teen pregnancies on the basis that the law forbids sex with a person under 15 years of age.
Although abortions under the exceptions occur without penalty, a point often missed is that even under the current law, abortion is always “illegal” in Poland. The law merely states that under the exceptions abortions are “not punishable.”
Striking down the exceptions
The PRO Foundation’s citizens’ bill is the first attempt to institute a total ban on abortion since the current law passed in 1993. The bill would strike down all three exceptions in the abortion law, applying the current penalties in all cases.
Under the law, doctors caught performing illegal abortions face up to 3 years imprisonment, or up to 8 years where the child was viable. The same penalties are applied to anyone who pressures a woman into abortion, or helps her obtain one. The mother faces no penalties.
The bill will be debated in the ‘Sejm’ at first reading on Thursday, with a vote to decide its fate on Thursday or Friday. If it gets 50% plus one vote, then it will move to committee for consideration, and then back to the ‘Sejm’ for a second and then third vote. It would then go to the Senate for a vote, and, if passed, the country’s president must decide whether to sign it into law. If he does not, then the Parliament would need to give it two-thirds support in order to overturn his veto.
Sapa said the bill has a “realistic” chance of passing, noting that 90% of parliamentarians are Catholics who have an interest in appearing on side with the Church. “Politicians opposing this pro-life law risk openly defying the Church and this simply does not pay,” he explained. “Poles are still a Catholic nation, and politicians often seek to present themselves as faithful Catholics during electoral campaigns to gain popularity.
“A vote for abortion would belie their ‘Catholic’ public image,” he added.
In 2007, an effort to enshrine the “right to life from conception to natural death” in the Polish constitution won support from 60% of parliamentarians, but failed because it needed two-thirds. That amendment, however, would not have had the immediate effect of removing the exceptions for abortion.
Supported by the bishops
The Polish Bishops’ Conference has campaigned for the bill’s passage through letters to politicians, public statements, and efforts to mobilize the faithful into prayer and lobbying.
In a letter signed by Bishop Kazimierz Gorny, head of the bishops’ Council for the Family, they told politicians that “the fate of this Nation is in your hands.” “[Act] so that every conceived child - whether healthy or unwell - has the right to life, without exception, and would not be threatened by the law allowing for their killing,” they wrote.
“We must stop the wave of killing in Polish hospitals. We must formulate the law in such a way, that it will obviously imply the right to life for every child, including sick children,” said Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, archbishop metropolitan of Poznan, last week.
Mobilizing the pro-life politicians
Bogumil Lozinski of Gosc Niedzielny, the nation’s largest Catholic weekly, said that the grassroots effort has mobilized not only the populace, but pro-life politicians as well. “One of the greatest effects of the whole debate is that a group for the protection of life has been formed within the parliament,” he wrote. “The parliamentarians who formed it say openly that their main goal is to pass this bill and encourage their colleagues to vote for it.”
This pro-life parliamentary committee boasts members from nearly all the political parties, except for the pro-abortion and communist Democratic Left Alliance. One of the founding members is Jacek Zalek from the ruling Civic Platform party.
“The defense of life and dignity of people is an obligation of every society and it is not a question of religion,” Zalek wrote in the major daily paper Rzeczpospolita. “You don’t have to be a believer to be able to tell good from evil. Affirmation of the value of life results from natural law and goes beyond political competition between parties.”
Creating the conditions for success
Mariusz Dzierżawski of the PRO Foundation told LifeSiteNews that the campaign has been bolstered by a major cultural shift towards life in recent years, with Poles now strongly in favor of full protections for the unborn. The shift, he says, is thanks to the “unrelenting efforts” of pro-lifers who have organized exhibitions, rallies, and other campaigns to educate the public.
A June 3rd survey showed 65% of Poles agreeing that the law “should unconditionally protect the life of all children since conception.” Only 23% supported abortions in cases where unborn children of 24 weeks or less were diagnosed with a “serious disease.”
Significantly, 76% of those aged 15 to 24-years-old wanted total protection for the unborn – the most of any age group. The lowest level of support came from the oldest age bracket, 55 to 70 years old, but still with 57% supporting total protection.
Jaroslaw Kniolek of the PRO Foundation noted that this older generation grew up under the Communists, when abortion was widespread and forced on the culture. “Young people, on the other hand, not only have the knowledge of the facts of abortion, they also have wonderful role models, especially young Catholics of the ‘JP2 generation’,” he said.
Only six years ago, in 2005, the CBOS polling firm found that 57% of Poles would allow for early abortions, while only 36% were against it. By 2009, they found that only 31% allowed for the abortions, while 64% were against it. Then, earlier this year, their poll showed that 85% of Polish citizens identified themselves as pro-life, while only 9% supported access to abortion.
“We now have a great social basis for a change in the law, and we will change the law to make it pro-life,” Dzierżawski said. “Even if it shouldn’t happen this year, it will in the coming years.”
Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.
I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:
Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.
Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.
After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.
The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.
So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.
When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.
Target boycott climbs to over 1 million
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 1 million people have signed a pledge to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.
The American Family Association’s Boycott Target petition gained traction immediately, reaching the one million mark in only nine days.
“Corporate America must stop bullying people who disagree with the radical left agenda to remake society into their progressive image,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “#BoycottTarget has resonated with Americans. Target’s harmful policy poses a danger to women and children; nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy. Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable. And it’s clear now that over one million customers agree.”
Target defended its policy in a statement saying that it believes everyone “deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally” and earlier this week, a Target spokeswoman defended the policy as “inclusive.”
The AFA said that unisex bathrooms are a common-sense alternative to allowing men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms.
“Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided,” the petition says.
The AFA warned that Target’s new policy benefits sexual predators and poses a danger to women and children.
“With Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?” the petition asked.
There have been numerous instances of predatory men accessing women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities in the wake of “transgender” bathroom policies allowing them to do so.
“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses this danger to the wider public,” said Wildmon. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”
Amazing new video captures the flash of light the moment life begins
CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Life begins with a spark – literally.
Researchers at Northwestern University have documented the striking event in a new video that accompanies a study published this week.
At the moment of conception, the egg releases massive amounts of zinc, which creates a spark that can be seen with the aid of a microscope.
“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”
The research team had noted the zinc sparks before in mice eggs but had never observed the process in human beings.
“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization,” Woodruff said, “yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
One of the researchers, Northwestern chemistry professor Thomas O'Halloran, explained the science behind the process in 2014.
“The egg first has to stockpile zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis,” he said. “On cue, at the time of fertilization, we see the egg release thousands of packages, each dumping a million zinc atoms, and then it's quiet.”
“Each egg has four or five of these periodic sparks,” O'Halloran said. “It is beautiful to see, orchestrated much like a symphony.”
Since the amount of zinc in an egg correlates with successful implantation and birth, the Northwestern researchers are highlighting that their research may be used to assist in vitro fertilization.
But that raises concerns given the grave moral issues with IVF, which involves creating numerous embryos that are either killed or frozen. Moral theologians also emphasize that IVF is an injustice even for the children who are born as a result, as they are created in a lab rather than in the union of man and woman.
The study may have far-reaching consequences the research team did not intend, such as strengthening public belief in the longstanding scientific consensus that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.
Many of those who saw the Northwestern video said it testifies to the beauty of life and the shallow lies that buttress the argument of abortion-on-demand.
“I saw this, and I was blown away by it,” said Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio program Thursday afternoon. “For anybody in the mainstream media to openly admit that life begins at conception” defies arguments that an unborn child is only “tissue mass.”
Researchers released a separate video of the zinc spark taking place in a mammalian egg more than a year ago:
The paper, which is entitled “The Zinc Spark is an Inorganic Signature of Human Egg Activation,” was published by Scientific Reports on April 26.