Ben Johnson

Court-ordered abortion, sterilization of Catholic woman in Mass. overturned by higher court

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, January 18, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Appeals Court threw out a lower court’s ruling that would have forced a mentally ill woman to undergo an abortion and be forcibly sterilized against her will.

Norfolk Family and Probate Court Judge Christina Harms had ruled on January 6 that the 32-year-old could be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed…by ruse” until she was sedated for the procedures.

The woman, who is identified only by the pseudonym “Mary Moe,” is approximately five months pregnant.

Moe, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had a previous abortion in her history. She reportedly described herself as “very Catholic,” and told the court she “wouldn’t do that (abortion)” again. However, despite the testimony of a court-appointed specialist who determined Moe would not choose abortion, and the fact that Moe herself reportedly became “agitated and emotional’’ when Judge Harms mentioned her previous abortion, the judge ruled that the specialist’s findings were inconclusive.

Instead, Harms ruled that Moe was not mentally competent to decide whether to have the baby, and said that if she were mentally competent, she would choose to have an abortion so she could resume taking medication to treat her illness. She added that Moe’s opposition to abortion stemmed from her “substantial delusional beliefs.” Although no one had sought sterilization, Harms also ordered Moe sterilized “to avoid this painful situation from recurring in the future.” The request that Moe abort originated with the state Department of Mental Health.

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Appellate Court Associate Justice Andrew R. Grainger overruled the decision, noting Harms’ orders contradicted a 1982 state Supreme Court ruling allowing all the right to procreate. He added that Harms “simply produced the [sterilization] requirement out of thin air.” Another judge in a lower court will make a final ruling.

Pro-life advocates expressed thanks at the Appeals Court’s decision and dismay at the original ruling.

Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, told LifeSiteNews.com the original ruling was “outrageous.”

“It’s barbaric to force anyone to undergo a sterilization or abortion,” constitutional expert John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute told LifeSiteNews.com. “To force someone to go against their clearly expressed religious beliefs” is a clear violation of the First Amendment, he added.

“It’s not up to the state to determine who has a child and who doesn’t,” he said. “If permitted, it’s totalitarian.”

“The nation should take note at how close we are coming to the forced abortion policy of communist China,” Troy Newman of Operation Rescue wrote in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. “Can we now dispense with the ‘pro-choice’ label?”

“The abortion cartel has never wanted choice. They exist on an insatiable diet of more and more abortion.”

Others were surprised such measures were still being performed in the name of public health. “I didn’t realize that forced sterilizations were going on anywhere,” said Howard Trachtman of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts. Daniel Pollack of Yeshiva University, said, “My guess is it happens a lot more than we know.”

The case demonstrates “the lingering shadow of eugenics, which has never left the ‘progressive’ agenda, despite its ugly history,” Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, http://hli.org told LifeSiteNews.com.

Although Harms prescribed a compulsory abortion to help stop Moe’s mental illness, abortion may have triggered her psychological issues in the first place. Court records show Moe had a “psychotic break” after her abortion and has been hospitalized numerous times for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In 2003, researchers at the Elliott Institute found women with a history of previous abortion were nearly three-times as likely to have bipolar disorder, and a 2002 study by the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry observed that post-abortive women were being hospitalized for mental illnesses including schizophrenia.

In 2011, Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University found nearly 10 percent of all mental illness in post-abortive women was “attributable to abortion.”

Brian Camenker, director of MassResistance, told LifeSiteNews.com, “this shows is just how dangerous these lower courts are.” Harms, who was appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis in 1989, retired on January 11. Camenker, who has long observed judicial trends in his home state, ranked Dukakis “probably the second worst [governor] in memory” for judicial appointments.

Fr. Boquet said he is happy the appeals court rejected “the extreme nature of the initial judge’s decision.”

“This young mother certainly needs help, not more violence in her life,” he wrote. “We pray that she is able to get the help she needs.”

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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.

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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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