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Florida would ban abortion post-viability, Ohio moves to ban abortion insurance, and more

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By Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Senate voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new HHS Secretary to oversee the implementation of ObamaCare, states around the country were voting to protect the unborn, fighting for marriage, and wrestling with a wave of transgender “anti-discrimination” proposals that would allow biological men to use women's restroom and shower facilities.

Florida

The state of Florida is poised to protect children from abortion if they have the capacity to survive outside the womb. H.B. 1047, which would bar abortions after viability, passed the Senate by a party line 24-15 vote. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, told the Miami Herald if a woman wishes to abort, she should “make that choice before the baby is able to live on its own outside of the womb.” The bill previously passed the House 70-45 and is now on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, a pro-life Republican. He is expected to sign the measure, which would penalize abortionists who abort a child after that point unless they certify, in writing, that an abortion is necessary to save the mother's life or physical health. The move comes as the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC has launched a voter campaign designed, in the words of CEO Lillian Tamayo, to focus on “the wave of anti-women’s health legislation.”

State Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional marriage protection amendment, saying redefining marriage would "impose significant public harm" on society. More than 61 percent of Florida voters approved Florida's Amendment 2 in 2008, with surveys finding the state's black population among those most likely to approve. The ACLU is suing to overturn the measure, which was intended to protect an ancient institution that fosters child-rearing. "Florida's marriage laws, she said in her court brief, “have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”

Ohio

An Ohio bill would bar all insurance companies statewide from covering abortion except in the case of ectopic or tubal pregnancies. The legislature had the first hearing on H.B. 351, introduced by Cincinnati Rep. John Becker, on Tuesday. It would also prevent taxpayers from subsidizing abortifacient contraception such as the IUD for state employees through their insurance plans. Democratic Rep. John Carney said it is "just a fact" that the IUD is not an abortifacient; however, health agencies and the device's manufacturer agree the IUD may prevent the implantation of a newly conceived child. The insurance provision follows the lead of neighboring Michigan, which is traditionally more liberal on abortion. The Ohio bill does not allow anyone who receives state funds to purchase the separate “abortion rider.”

New York

Senate Democrats have reintroduced the Women's Equality Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point bill that contains a plank allowing a massive expansion of abortion statewide. Just weeks earlier, the Senate Health Committee voted down the abortion provision as a stand-alone measure dubbed the “Reproductive Health Act,” by a 9-7 party line vote. The WEA would formally extend legal sanction to late-term abortion and open the door to non-physicians performing abortions. Cuomo first introduced the omnibus bill allegedly advancing women's rights in June 2013, likening it to the Bill of Rights. Although it passed the Assembly that month, it was defeated in the Senate. Some see Cuomo as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, challenging Hillary Clinton from the left. According to People's World, the official publication of the Communist Party USA, Cuomo was recently endorsed for re-election as governor by the Working Families Party, a coalition of former ACORN affiliates and labor unions.

Illinois

Illinois right to life supporters have expressed concern that the Republican candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, skipped the 45th anniversary dinner of Illinois Right to Life but two days later showed up at a pro-abortion event hosted by the ACLU. The ACLU Bill of Rights event, hosted in part by Democratic congresswoman and Democratic Socialists of America member Jan Schakowsky, celebrated the “right to choose.” Illinois Right to Life Committee Executive Director Emily Zender told Illinois Review, a state conservative publication, “It is disgusting that Mr. Rauner would give money to, and celebrate with, an organization that brags about its support of partial birth abortion, a gruesome procedure involving the severing of the spinal cords of fully developed unborn children.” David E. Smith of the Illinois Family Institute asked, "When is Mr. Rauner going to reach out to conservatives in Illinois?” According to the Huffington Post, Rauner has said that “the right for a woman to choose is a national law. That’s not going to change in Illinois.” However, he said he supports parental notification laws and bans on late-term abortion.

Rauner is also experiencing trouble for his position on redefining marriage. Rauner said that the state's voters should have decided whether the state would legalize gay “marriage,” rather than having a bill pass the legislature. But he told CBS in Chicago that he is not opposed to redefining marriage, and now that the law has changed, “I don’t have any agenda to change it.” The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election, took effect on Sunday, June 1. On Monday, Quinn attended a homosexual “wedding,” where he called the new law “a great civil rights measure." According to the Northwest Herald, Quinn added, "I didn't need a referendum to tell me what was the right thing to do."

Illinois voters will be consulted on whether insurance plans should have to offer contraception – but their decision will not have any effect on the law. The state Senate and House voted to place a non-binding question on the fall ballot asking, “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?” However, state law has mandated such coverage since 2003. Republicans say the initiative is an attempt to increase Democratic turnout during the election. "It's a stunt. It's a game, and everybody down here knows it," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.

New Hampshire

The senior policy advisor of Planned Parenthood of New England, Jennifer Frizzell, is considering running for the New Hampshire state Senate. WMUR reports that the abortion industry tactician is one of five potential candidates for the seat being vacated by long-serving Concord Democrat Sylvia Larsen.

Maryland

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill barring “discrimination” against transgender people, a bill that would require public facilities to allow biological males to use the women's restroom. Businesses also believe they open the door to costly but baseless discrimination lawsuits. O'Malley, a Democrat who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, signed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 in mid-May. Maryland became the 18th state to enact such a law.

Michigan

Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, says he supports a law banning what he terms "discrimination" against homosexuals and transgender people, similar to the one signed by Maryland Gov. O'Malley. The bill is largely supported by the Chamber of Commerce. The city of Saginaw unanimously rejected such a “bathroom bill” around the time Gov. Snyder made his remarks. The self-described "nerd," who was swept into office in the Tea Party landslide year of 2010, is up for re-election this November. The GOP-controlled House may move forward on his suggestion. "If we can find a way to do that, he's ready to move on this,” according to Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that support for marriage redefinition is falling in Michigan. The EPIC-MRA poll finds the public evenly divided on the issue. In a hypothetical vote to legalize gay "marriage," voters split 47-46 in favor, with seven percent undecided. That's down from last year, when voters supported gay "marriage" by a 10-point margin of 51-41.

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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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