Ben Johnson

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NY Gov. Cuomo unveils radical late-term abortion expansion bill: likens to ‘bill of rights’

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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Co-authored with John Jalsevac

ALBANY, NY, June 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a bill that would radically expand abortion-on-demand in the Empire State today.

In a press conference, Cuomo at long last revealed the text of his “Women's Equality Act,” a 10-point plan putatively aimed at strengthening women's rights. However, one plank would remove abortion from the state's penal code and affirm abortion at any point during pregnancy if the mother's “health” is in danger – a category so broad it could allow virtually any abortion at any time.

New York State Right to Life slammed the bill as "a Trojan Horse - a beautifully gift-wrapped package of death and destruction."

Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life (AUL) said that if the bill passes, "New York will be sanctioning unrestricted, virtually unregulated, and taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, making it the most radically pro-abortion state in the nation."

In a statement the state's Catholic bishops expressed concern that in addition to expanding late-term abortion, the bill also appears to be "opening the door for non-doctors to perform abortions." They added that they "find the conscience protections in the bill to be vague and insufficient" and said that they "are concerned about the religious liberty of our health facilities."

New York state law currently allows abortions past 24 weeks only to save the “life” of the mother, and only doctors may perform them legally. The state already boasts the highest abortion rate of any state in the union. According to the most recent data from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion-industry think tank, 33 percent of New York pregnancies ended in abortion in 2008.

Cuomo defended the measure in a guest blog on The Huffington Post today, stating that his proposal changes nothing but merely “codifies in state law the reproductive rights afforded by Roe.”

“I see it almost as a bill of rights,” Governor Cuomo said about the legislation, refusing to abandon the abortion plank. “We don’t believe you have to give up any of the 10.”

“It’s not a bill that extends, that takes abortion to a level that would be difficult to explain,” he said. “It affirms current rights.”

He also stated that no individual health care provider can be forced into “providing an abortion due to religious or moral beliefs.”

However, according to the Catholic bishops, the bill "is selective in its codification" of Roe.

"Nowhere does it address the portions of federal laws that limit abortion, such as the ban on taxpayer funding, the ban on partial birth abortion or protections for unborn victims of violence," said the bishops.

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One of the women Cuomo invited to introduce the bill was Sarah Weddington, the lead attorney in the Roe v. Wade case.

The bill drew strong rebuke from the state's pro-life movement and the GOP State Senate leadership.

"The Governor’s newly released abortion agenda involves enshrining a barbaric federal law from the last century," said Lori Kehoe, the executive director of NYS Right to Life. "Under Roe v. Wade, abortionists like Kermit Gosnell can kill babies with a heartbeat, babies capable of feeling pain, babies who are full term and waiting to be born. Instead of protecting these children, the governor is dragging New York in the wrong direction.

"If the governor has his way, third trimester abortion will become commonplace in New York State," she added. "This will expand abortion and increase the already staggering death toll."

Kelly Cummings, spokeswoman for GOP Senate Minority Leader Dean Skellos, called the abortion provisions in the bill “a political maneuver designed to curry favor with the extremists who want to expand late-term abortion, and open the door to non-physicians performing abortions. It’s wrong for New York.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said this afternoon that he is “profoundly distressed” by the bill. Although he supports the act's other nine points, he asked the state's Catholics to “fully oppose” the bill as long as it contains the abortion expansion language.

Cardinal Dolan raised eyebrows during a recent interview with Fred Dicker, when he said, despite the governor's push to expand abortion, he would not question Cuomo's standing as a good Catholic and was convinced Cuomo “wants to work very closely with the pro-life community to provide alternatives to abortion.”

The state's Republican leadership has stated that while it seeks common ground on the bill's other provisions, such as fighting human trafficking and domestic violence, it will oppose any broad abortion expansion.

Cuomo's bill is supported by NARAL New York Pro-Choice President Andrea Miller and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon.

The decision to make the bill's language public follows Governor Cuomor's statement in April that he would not release specific legislative language for perusal, because that would be “counterproductive.” 

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said the extreme measure may have wrecked Cuomo's national political aspirations, which are well known.

"Andrew Cuomo's lust for abortion rights has effectively killed his chances of ever becoming president of the United States," said Donohue. "Once he ventures outside the Empire State he will find out – the way his father Mario did – just how out of touch he is with public sentiment on this life and death issue.” 

Gpb #9 - Women's Equality Act - Bill

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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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