Ben Johnson

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Congressman moves 20-week abortion ban forward, opens new ‘rape’ controversy for GOP

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just as Trent Franks' bill banning late-term abortions was moving forward, the Arizona congressman inadvertently reopened a divisive battle on the subject of rape and pregnancy.

Franks' Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797) passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20-12 today.

The measure passed the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on a party line vote, 6-4 last week. Next week, the full, Republican-controlled House will vote on the bill.

However, the vote may be overshadowed by a new media feeding frenzy attacking the pro-life congressman, as reporters did Todd Akin, over comments about the relationship between rape and pregnancy.

On the floor, House Republicans turned back numerous attempts by Democrats to water down the bill or add amendments to slow its passage. In rejecting an amendment to allow abortion in the case of rape or incest, Franks told New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

"The incidences where pregnancy results from rape that results in abortion at the six month or after are very rare," he clarified.

Franks stated that he was pointing out the incongruence of the Democrats' amendment with this, or any, late-term abortion bill.

“When you make that exception, there's usually the requirement to report the rape within 48 hours,” he said. “And in this case, that's impossible, because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that's what completely negates – vitiates the purpose for such an amendment."

Congressman Franks issued a statement Wednesday afternoon further explaining, “Pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare. This bill does not address unborn children in earlier gestations. Indeed, the bill does nothing to restrict abortions performed before the beginning of the 6th month.” (Emphasis added.)

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Although his statement clearly does not mention the link between rape and pregnancy, Stephanie Haven of CBS News erroneously reported, “Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stands by comment that pregnancy rate 'very low' from rape.”

Some in his own party have seized the opportunity to bash Franks and, by proxy, the party's social conservative base.

Massachusetts Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez called Franks a “moron” this afternoon. “He proves that stupid has no specific political affiliation,” said Gomez, who defeated the pro-life community's preferred candidate, Michael Sullivan, in the GOP primary in April.

Gomez says he would vote against a 24-hour waiting period but remains in hot water in Massachusetts for saying he would consider voting for a pro-life Supreme Court justice. He added that he may vote for a justice who favors abortion-on-demand, as well.

Franks' statement that very few abortions stem from rape, especially late in pregnancy, are verified by pro-life advocates and cold, hard statistics.

Abortions due to rape account for around one percent of all abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights, abortions due to rape or incest combined account for slightly less than 1.5 percent of all abortions.

Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation, who was conceived by rape, introduces himself by saying, “I am the one percent of all abortions that are used to justify the other 99 percent.”

Alternately, abortions performed for convenience amount to at least 74 percent, or at least 895,400 abortions each year.

Further, studies show the vast majority of women who are raped carry their babies to term.

Rebecca Kiessling, who was herself conceived by rape, told LifeSiteNews.com that “only about 15 to 25 percent” of women who become pregnant through rape choose to abort. Other estimates range as high as 30 percent. However, they also found 70 percent of rape victims who aborted children came to believe they made the wrong decision.

The atrocities of late-term abortionists like Gosnell and Douglas Karpen are also causing Americans to rethink the “pro-choice” argument.

"Because of publicity surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell and subsequent revelations about other abortionists, many Americans are becoming aware for the first time that abortions are frequently performed late in pregnancy on babies who are capable of being born alive, and on babies who will experience great pain while being killed," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

Although Planned Parenthood portrays Gosnell as an outlier, Franks' bill could affect hundreds of abortionists.

Based on a 2008 study from the Guttmacher Institute, the National Right to Life Committee estimated there are at least 300 abortion providers who will perform abortions after 20 weeks and around 140 willing to perform abortions at 24 weeks or later.

But Terry O’Neill, president National Organization for Women, said that by invoking Gosnell Congressional Republicans are “demonizing the fight for reproductive rights.”

The NOW chief urged feminists to rise up to oppose this bill.

“The stakes couldn't be higher,” O'Neill wrote.

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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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