Georgia Catholic bishops withhold support from non-binding Personhood ballot question
ATLANTA, July 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As Georgia Republicans prepare for a primary ballot question on whether human life begins at conception, Catholic Church leaders are withholding key support for the measure, a move that one state pro-life leader says is based on a misguided argument.
Ballot Question 5 will appear before voters in all 159 counties in Georgia’s GOP primary on July 31. The question, essentially a survey of GOP voters, reads: “Do you support an amendment to the Georgia state constitution so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each human being from the earliest biological beginning until natural death?”
Supporters say the non-binding question is designed to act as a weathervane showing state politicians the depth of pro-life conviction among Georgia voters in hopes of impacting the future of legislative policy. Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) reports that polls show support for the question as high as 70 percent.
“Imagine what our state polticians are going to see when their own constituents say they’re pro-life overwhelmingly and that life begins at conception - how that would promote pro-life legislation at all levels,” GRTL president Dan Becker told LifeSiteNews (LSN) this week. “It’s a tremendous tool to be able to move public opinion and impact public policy.”
Unlike the personhood question on general election ballots in states like Colorado and Mississippi, Ballot Question 5 has no legal weight to change the state Constitution or other law.
The state Catholic bishops’ conference, led by the Archdiocese of Atlanta under Archbishop Wilton Gregory, has said it is against supporting the Personhood bid. It is basing its argument against Ballot Question 5 on litigation concerns surrounding HR 536, a 2008 personhood question for Georgia’s general election ballot that had the power to change the state Constitution.
In a July 19 op-ed in the archdiocesan paper Georgia Bulletin, Rev. Douglas Clark described Ballot Question 5 as “tilting at windmills,” and cited the bishops’ conclusion about HR 536 four years ago. “It will do nothing to curb abortions in Georgia and, moreover, may prove a distracting windmill in Atlanta, just when our attention needs to be focused on the ‘ferocious giants’ in Washington,” wrote Clark.
An internal memo to clergy, religious, seminarians, and other diocesan leaders dated July 23 from the Respect Life office and the Georgia Catholic Conference indicated the position of non-support was in line with the policy goals of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, because the national conference has focused on a federal Constitutional amendment. The memo, which the archdiocese provided to LSN, said Georgia bishops, like prelates in other states, would not support Ballot Question 5 because they would not back an amendment “which does not provide a realistic opportunity to end or reduce abortion.” “It is important to clarify that our position is not a disagreement about the fundamental teachings on the right to life. We will continue to work for positive alternatives and solutions that will actually save lives in Georgia,” it concluded.
The memo directs readers to a longer document regarding HR 536, listing constitutional concerns as well as several points under “Potential for Serious Negative Consequences.” One such point states that, should the Personhood amendment be declared unconstitutional, “a void provision does not legally exist, so if Roe were later overturned, the amendment would not spring back into existence and Georgia would have to begin the constitutional amendment process all over again.”
GRTL president Dan Becker told LifeSiteNews.com in a telephone interview this week that the bishops’ arguments against supporting HR 536 don’t apply to Ballot Question 5.
“It only talks about the futility of the Supreme Court challenge. That has nothing to do with a question on a ballot that has a political impact,” said Becker, referring to the Bulletin article. “There’s nothing binding about a political question on a primary ballot.”
“From the standpoint of wanting to communicate to our elected officials how the pro-life voters of the state of Georgia are ... [the bishops] are coming out against that, against the ability to speak to our legislature,” he said. “They’re really aiming at a legal outcome that is years down the road, so they misconstrued the whole exercise here.”
Becker said that he has met frequently since January with archdiocesan officials, among whom are “friends of long standing,” yet still failed to reach common ground. “Obviously we disagree on strategy and on what’s most effective. We’d love to continue to work with them towards common goals legislatively and policy-wise,” he said. Becker, who is a non-denominational Christian, said about half the members of GRTL are Catholics.
When asked for a response to Becker’s comments, the archdiocese provided LifeSiteNews a statement by Respect Life Director Mary Boyert. “Advocates for the state personhood amendment are pursuing their agenda despite being fully informed of the serious concerns raised by the Catholic bishops of Georgia,” it said.
Georgia Catholic Conference executive director Frank Mulcahy added that the state bishops’ conference “remains committed to working on state and federal initiatives that will truly lead to the protection of all human life.”
Meanwhile, Becker says that the enthusiastically pro-life position of GOP leaders in Georgia can be attributed to the sometimes-controversial Personhood approach, which he called “a return to first principles” of the pro-life movement.
Unlike previous points in the movement’s history, he said, this is the first time enthusiasm for Personhood “has gone beyond the Catholic leadership.” “Both Catholic faithful and evangelicals are joining forces for the first time, and this is where I see the sticking power,” he said.
“The archbishops will be won over by the sheer pragmatism of the outcome. And then once again well have a single voice and a solid voice representing the sanctity of human life.”
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.