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Gingrich, Romney spar over abortion records in leadup to South Carolina primary

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

GREER, SOUTH CAROLINA, January 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Abortion has become the key point of contention between Republican candidates as the presidential race turns from New Hampshire to heavily evangelical South Carolina.

Newt Gingrich has highlighted Romney’s abortion stances in an ad entitled “Changed.” The narrator asks:

What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro- abortion to pro-life? He governed pro-abortion. Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. And Romney signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer-funded abortion.

Gingrich introduced the abortion ad after a series of attacks on Romney’s history with Bain Capital failed to win him wider support.

Romney’s “Restore Our Future PAC” responded with a piece of direct mail in Florida, stating, “Newt Gingrich co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi to give $60 million annually to the UN Population Fund,” and that, as Speaker of the House, Gingrich “backed even more legislation that provided taxpayer-funded abortions.”

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“Obviously it’s important for me to remind people that I’m pro-life,” Romney told a crowd in Greer, South Carolina, where his history of shifting views on the issue continues to cost him support in the overwhelmingly pro-life state.

FactCheck.org has countered both campaigns by stating both men changed their views on the issue over the years, although the organization failed to specifically refute the factual claims about Romney’s history.

- FactCheck defended Romney from the charge that he allowed greater access to the abortion pill by noting he liberalized the distribution of “emergency contraception, or ‘the morning-after pill.’” However, Plan B can act as an abortifacient, preventing an already fertilized embryo from implanting in the uterus.

- The health care bill Romney signed resulted in subsidized abortions, allowing women to pay only $50 for the procedure. FactCheck notes the Massachusetts Supreme Court mandated the coverage decades earlier; however, Romney did nothing to oppose the provisions. Romney later called his plan, “the ultimate pro-life effort.”

- It affirms that Romney did not veto a provision in the health care bill appointing a member of Planned Parenthood to the MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board, but quotes Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) President Anne Fox that: “It was not something that right to lifers were concerned about at the time. It was a minor thing.” Yet MCFL’s executive director, Marie Sturgis, said the failure to veto Planned Parenthood’s participation on the board “deeply disturbed” her. Ann Romney served as MCFL co-chairman, and Mitt donated $15,000 to the group in 2005.

- Criticisms of Romney’s pro-abortion judicial record was well-founded, the fact-checking organization agreed. Months after his pro-life conversion, Romney named Matthew J. Nestor, who described himself as a “pro-choice” Democrat, to a lifetime post on the Somerville District Court. Romney said he appointed Nestor because of his tough record on crime. 

FactCheck defended Gingrich from distortions of his record while noting his changing record on aspects of the abortion debate over his career.

It dispels the notion that Gingrich supported taxpayer-funding for China’s one-child policy. The bill in question, the “Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989,” never came before Congress for a vote. While the bill would have provided $60 million for the United Nations Population Fund, which has been found to be complicit in China’s one-child policy, it barred funds for “involuntary sterilization or abortion” and “the coercion of any person to accept family planning services.” President Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which forbade taxpayer funding of foreign abortions, was also in effect at the time. President Clinton repealed the policy in 1993. However, there remained concerns about the fungibility of the funds to UNFPA. Gingrich’s website states, “Newt supported a very limited aspect of the 1989 bill that promoted hydrogen energy research.”

However, Newt did support taxpayer-funded abortion while he was Speaker of the House. In 1995, Gingrich publicly supported “funding in the case of rape or incest, or [to save the] life of the mother,” backed funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and later offered his endorsement to Republicans who supported partial-birth abortion. The Des Moines Register reported in November, “Gingrich has switched his position on federal funding. He now thinks the government should not ask taxpayers to pay for any abortions.”

Gingrich caused a stir in December, before the Iowa caucuses, when he said life begins at “implantation,” then backpedaled to say life begins at “conception.” 

Texas Governor Rick Perry has changed his views on allowing abortion in the case of rape or incest after meeting with Rebecca Kiessling, a pro-life activist who was conceived through rape.

Republican rivals Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman are also touting their consistently pro-life records ahead of the election.

The South Carolina primary will be held January 21, ten days before the Florida primary.

 

Red alert! Only 4 days left.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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