Dustin Siggins

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Catholic Congressional candidate in Virginia pushing for over-the-counter birth control

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic Republican woman who hopes to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives has led a group of 13 state delegates in asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make birth control available over the counter to women 18 and older.

Barbara Comstock is a three-term Republican delegate in Virginia. In January, she joined a crowded Republican field running for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf.

Comstock is a long-time GOP insider, with experience in the George W. Bush administration and both of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns. Her campaign has the backing of the state party chairman, more than a dozen of Wolf's former staffers, and talk show host Mark Levin. She enjoys deep ties to influential national Republicans and has the support of numerous influential Catholics, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. 

That support raises the question of why Comstock is asking the Obama administration to further promote the availability of birth control, which poses health dangers to women and potentially act as abortifacients.

On her delegate campaign website, Comstock states she “spearheaded a request and letter from House of Delegates members to" Sebelius in order “to make birth control pills available over the counter without a prescription for adult women.”

Comstock wrote that “allowing over the counter sales of oral contraceptives for adult women would enhance women’s access, put decisions in their hands, modernize the health care system, and lower birth control costs.” Such a change, she wrote, would be “a bipartisan solution that could bring people together and help in ending birth control politics.”

The letter urged Secretary Sebelius to institute the recommendations of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for birth control medication. The letter, signed by 12 fellow delegates, won plaudits from a columnist at a regional newspaper in Virginia last month.

Comstock campaigned on the position as well, something that earned her the praise of conservative columnist Mona Charen in National Review, who said, “it's hard to paint her as someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant when she advocates making birth-control pills easier to obtain.”

“She is not a sell-out, a squish, or a RINO," Charen wrote. "She’s something all Republicans should aspire to be — a winner.”

But medical experts and pro-life observers say that making contraception more readily available endangers the lives of women and unborn babies.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, told LifeSiteNews that “making these drugs over-the-counter would only increase women's risk of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and lethal infections."

“The pill is responsible for a significant percentage of pre-menopausal breast cancer, [and] women have the right to know that oral contraceptives are Group 1 carcinogens for breast, cervical, and liver cancer," Dr. Lanfranchi said. "Group 1 is the same group that lists cigarettes causing lung cancer, and asbestos, causing mesothelioma.”

"This is why doctors should be involved in any decision about contraception, and would eliminate doctors screening for things like clotting disorders or other medical problems that put women at very high risk for lethal outcomes from the pill," she said.

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The oral contraceptive pill may also induce an early abortion by preventing a newly conceived baby from implanting in a woman's uterus. American Life League Vice President Jim Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that “the birth control pill, the morning-after pill, and Plan B all have the same chemical make-up. They all work by preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization, and preventing implantation.”

“Not requiring prescriptions will result in more women taking the pill, and more women will die, and more human beings will die in the womb as a result,” he said.

The Comstock campaign repeatedly refused to answer LifeSiteNews' questions about the pill's potential health risks to women and its ability to induce abortion.

The campaign did answer questions raised by critics about why Comstock, who was described to LifeSiteNews by a GOP operative in Virginia as “a very hard-working establishment conservative,” opposed a pro-life amendment to Virginia's Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange – a vote that gave her a 100 percent voting record from NARAL in 2013.

The amendment was proposed by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion under ObamaCare. The amendment contained exceptions for the life of the mother and pregnancy after being raped. NARAL described it as an “extreme amendment” that “prohibits Virginians from purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan that includes abortion coverage.”

The amendment passed the House 55-37, with Comstock's vote in opposition. Fellow pro-life advocate Bob Marshall voted “present,” making clear his opposition to the exceptions in the amendment.

Campaign manager Susan Falconer defended Comstock in an e-mail, telling LifeSiteNews that Comstock has earned ire from pro-abortion groups and support from pro-life organizations and individuals. Falconer specifically defended Comstock's vote from what she called “false attacks” on Comstock's pro-life credentials “being promoted by some fellow Republicans” over the ACA vote.

The vote was the only one NARAL ranked in 2013, which is why Comstock received a 100 percent ranking from the same organization that in 2009 called her “a zealous pro-life politician who won’t hesitate to enact laws restricting a woman’s right to choose if given the opportunity.” At the time, Comstock was in her first race for delegate.

Comstock received a total score of 20 percent from NARAL for the 2012/2013 legislative session, including a “0” in 2012 for several votes against NARAL's positions.

Comstock has been defended by the Family Foundation, which ranks votes in favor of, or opposed to, its pro-family positions.

The Foundation's 2012/2013 Scorecard ranked Comstock at 89 percent, with the opposition to the pro-life amendment and support for an openly homosexual judge the only marks against her out of 19 votes scored by the Foundation.

However, the Foundation has since qualified its score on Comstock's vote against the amendment. Last week, Chris Freund wrote on the organization's website that Comstock and another delegate “made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn’t about the amendment; it was about the overall policy.”

Not everyone agrees with Comstock's reasoning. Deal Hudson, senior editor of Catholic Online, told LifeSiteNews he believes the vote was “an imprudent choice.”

Comstock has been a figure in national politics for more than 20 years. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia highlighted her background for criticism, noting in 2009 that she “served as a senior aide to Congressman Frank Wolf” in the 1990s. She was also “a minor figure” during the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton.

During the George W. Bush administration, Comstock was the Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice, spent time with the Republican National Committee and a GOP-associated lobbying firm, and worked for the 2008 Romney presidential campaign. In 2005, a column at Slate tied her to the defense of Scooter Libby, the former Bush official who was indicted on several charges in 2007, including lying under oath and obstructing justice.

She briefly came to fame in conservative political media in 2012 after she mocked MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell in a discussion about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and equal pay for women. Comstock was a senior Romney advisor at the time. She also served as the co-chairman of the Republican National Convention in 2012.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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