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Grassroots protest petition and letters halt Estonian homosexual civil unions bill

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By Hilary White
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TALLINN, May 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A small group of family campaigners has for the moment turned back an internationally-backed effort to create “civil union” legislation in Estonia. In a surprising turnaround, within 24 hours of the launch of a petition the bill has been withdrawn for further consideration and is not expected to be reintroduced until the autumn. The signature drive was a re-play of a similar outcome a year ago when 38,000 people said no to a bill that proposed to create “gay marriage” in Estonia.

In April this year, a group of forty parliamentarians tried again, bringing forward their Civil Partnership Act, the most recent of several efforts since 2005, that proposed to confer legal recognition on homosexual relationships, establishing that children can have “two mothers” or “two fathers.” Its supporters argued both that the bill was not exclusively aimed at same-sex partners and that it was in no way a prelude to the introduction of “gay marriage.”

Opponents, however, said that the bill was specifically intended to “undermine the concept of family and the meaning of the basic values of our society.” They launched a website asking concerned Estonians to send an email to parliamentarians “categorically” rejecting the bill. Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition had “gone viral” throughout the country and collected over 44,000 signatures and by today has sent over 200,000 letters to all 101 members of Parliament.

The petition’s author told LifeSiteNews.com that the success this week built on last year’s. Varro Vooglaid, a pro-family activist in the capital Tallinn, said that when they were contacted the signatories from the last petition drive not only sent letters of protest to MPs, they added 6,000 more names who did the same.

Vooglaid is the director of Perekonna ja Traditsiooni Kaitseks (Foundation for the Defence of Life and Family). He said, “We sent an e-mail to people whose contacts we had from last year and suggested to them to send protest e-mails to all members of Parliamant. This is what they did and by now more than 215,938 protest emails have been sent.”

“There would be many more, but the parliament has now blocked these letters classifying them as spam. naturally, we strongly object and protest, stating that this goes against elementary principles of democracy.” He added that his group has also collected “thousands of protest cards on paper and will start delivering these pretty soon.”

Vooglaid added, “We started the protest campaign on 19 May and on that same day the first news came that the bill might not be passed before autumn. The message was repeated during the week.” The bill’s sponsors had originally intended to see the bill passed June 23 before Parliament’s summer break.

Responding to reports that some lawmakers were sending the emails directly to their trash files, Vooglaid said it is a “glimpse of the understanding of democracy of the kind of people who govern us. This is how much they actually care about the views and voice of the people.”

The letter read, “I categorically protest against the Civil Partnership Act!” It pointed to Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that says lawmakers are obliged to “protect the institution of the family as the foundation of the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society.”

“And the family, according to the meaning of constitution, is founded upon the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, all members of the parliament who have sworn fidelity to the constitutional order are obliged to protect the institution of the family from ideologically motivated attempts of subversion and radical redefinition.”

The letter warned parliamentarians that their support for changing the definition of the family would have political repercussions in upcoming elections. “Should parliament, however, decide to proceed with the Civil Partnership Act, it has to be put on a referendum, because adopting this law would mean the redefinition of the foundation of the society – something that only the people are entitled to do.”

A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Estonian Orthodox Church supported the initiative, saying that instead of same-sex recognition parliament should enact legislation to support the “flagging institution of marriage and the traditional family." The Orthodox statement called for strong state guarantees to protect “the whole family, consisting of husband, wife and the family, with the children born.”

The Orthodox Plenary said they “think it is extremely unfortunate that our country’s laws will directly contradict the laws of God, which are based upon the revelation to mankind in the Ten Commandments.” 

“Really, our church does not see reason why the Estonian government needs to take such a step, which threatens to weaken our country and may cause us to lose respect for the country by a huge number of citizens.”

Vooglaid said that his group had communicated with the members of parliament “on numerous occasions the message that should they support the bill we will do all we can to mobilize tens of thousands of people not to vote for them.” Parliamentary elections are set for March 1, 2015.

This week, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups held their annual meeting this year on a cruise ship making stops at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. This year’s theme, the group said, is “Sailing with Hope,” taken from a popular Estonian myth of a “white ship” that “brings freedom or takes people away to a better land.” During the conference a representative of Geikristlaste Kogu (the Estonian Association of Gay Christians) gave a featured presentation on “our hopes for the future.”

Asked why such a group would take such an interest in tiny Estonia, with a population of only 1.2 million and very few active Christians, Vooglaid said that Estonia is seen as an ideal “gateway” to Eastern Europe by homosexualist activists.

“Due to its almost completely destroyed Christian culture,” he said, the formerly majority Lutheran Estonia will be the means of “breaking down Eastern European cultural resistance” to the homosexual and gender ideology.

Estonia is regularly described as one of the “least religious” countries in the world. The most recent statistics from the country found that 54 per cent of the population say they have no religion and 16.7 per cent are “unspecified.” 9.9 per cent are still Lutheran; 16.2 per cent of residents, mainly ethnic Russians, are Orthodox and 2.2 per cent are listed as “other Christian.”

“The homosexual movement knows that they have almost no chance whatsoever of succeeding in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia, and therefore they are trying to break a hole by attacking the moral foundations of the society in Estonia,” Vooglaid said.

A 2009 poll found that only 32 per cent of the population were supportive of same-sex “marriage”. 40 per cent of younger people approved, but only 6 per cent of their parents were in favor. By 2012 that number had dropped to 34 per cent overall. 51 per cent of ethnic Estonians and only 35 percent of Russians supported same-sex civil unions. Vooglaid confirmed that the homosexualist movement wants to create the impression of being a “grassroots movement.” “The reality, however, is that the homosexual movement has almost zero popular support in Estonia,” he said. “Everything they are able to do is because of extensive support and funding from the European Union, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundation) and other interest groups that originate from outside our country.”

He added that the movement did not expect such strong and ongoing popular resistance. At least five attempts have been made since 2005 to introduce some form of same-sex recognition and all have failed.  

Vooglaid pointed to the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the fact that Estonia’s second largest ethnic population group is Russian, sent as settlers during the Soviet era. He said that representatives of religious organizations have warned parliamentarians that giving a legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle could “bring about a serious security risk to the country.” It would “alienate a huge portion of the society from our legal and political system” and prompt them to look towards a possible alliance with the Russian Federation, “where respect for family values is gradually being restored.”

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Kermit Gosnell considers himself a ‘martyr’: Gosnell filmmakers

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By Ben Johnson

HUNGTINGDON, PA, May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Spending life in prison without parole for murdering several newborn babies, Kermit Gosnell spends his days listening to music and thinking of himself as a “martyr,” according to the makers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell film.

Producers Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segeida interviewed Gosnell for hours at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – and they came away saying the doctor is remorseless, self-pitying, and enjoying far more liberty than they thought would be granted to a mass murderer.

The producers visited the central Pennsylvania penitentiary and spoke to the the late-term abortionist up-close – a little too close, they say. McElhinney said Gosnell sat uncomfortably close to her throughout the multihour session.

“We have just come back from Pennsylvania where we were the first journalists to sit down in prison to interview Gosnell,” the producers said in a mass e-mail to their supporters. “The two hours we spent interviewing the former abortion doctor were two of the most disturbing hours of our journalistic careers.”

“The interview was one of the creepiest we have ever conducted,” the mass e-mail continued.

Gosnell, they recounted, “is thought to have murdered hundreds if not thousands of babies in a 30 year killing spree.” Yet he has access to music, a subject he discussed at length. At one point, McElhinney said, Gosnell burst out into song.

Ann McElhinney told The Daily Signal, “I’m amazed at how pleasant his life is, the freedoms he has.”

Far from having repented of his crimes, Gosnell continues to justify his actions, they said.

“In his own version of the story, he’s a martyr – he’s part of a hounded class,” McElhinney said.

That assessment corroborates the views of others who interviewed the onetime proprietor of the “house of horrors,” where newborn babies had their spines severed, untrained staff administered fatal doses of drugs to poor women, and aborted fetal remains were found stuffed into every available crevice.

In September 2013, Steve Volk interviewed Gosnell for Philadelphia Magazine. Gosnell, he wrote, “sees himself as having performed a noble function in society.”

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did,” Volk said. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.”

By plying his trade in poverty-stricken West Philadelphia, in a majority minority neighborhood, Gosnell believed he helped reduce the city's low income population.

“In this larger spiritual sense, he believes he was performing a service for people,” Volk said.

After his conviction, Gosnell sought to work with Hillary Clinton's embattled charity, the Clinton Global Initiative or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues of "prison and justice reform.”

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.

Gosnell's self-confidence has seldom been questioned, from the dismissive way he treated police who searched his home – playing Chopin on the piano as they searched his flea-ridden basement – to the way he carried himself in court. Defense attorney Jack McMahon had also told reporters after the guilty verdict that the mass murderer “truly believes in himself.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The filmmakers, who have produced several right-of-center documentaries, plan to make a big budget, big screen film about Gosnell's life. They continue to raise funds for their efforts at GosnellMovie.com.

But they may need a breather after encountering Gosnell himself.

“I’m still recovering, actually,” McElhinney told the Signal.

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Josh Duggar apologizes, admits ‘wrongdoing’ as young teen amid molestation accusations; resigns from FRC

By John-Henry Westen

Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to allegations in the media that he molested minor girls when he was in his early teens, Josh Duggar has admitted in a public statement that he acted "inexcusably" at the time, and has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

A 2006 police report leaked to the media states that Josh was investigated for sex offenses, including "forcible fondling" against five minors.

According to the report, the first allegations surfaced in March 2002, the same month he turned 14. At the time the family dealt with the allegations internally. A year later, however, when further allegations were made, the family sent Josh to work with a family friend for three months, after which his father took Josh to see a state trooper.

According to the report, the trooper gave Josh a "stern talk" about what would happen if he "continued such behavior," but no formal action was taken at the time.

The issue emerged again in 2006, after a family friend had written details about the allegations in letter and placed it in a book, which was subsequently loaned out. This resulted in a call being placed to a child abuse hotline, which in turn led to a formal investigation being opened. By this point, however, the statute of limitations had expired, and as there had been no new allegations or evidence that the abuse was ongoing, the case was dropped.

Although Josh was never charged, his now-wife, Anna, says that he confessed his actions to her and her parents two years before he asked her to marry him.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," he said in a statement today. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."

Anna said she was "surprised" when Josh had voluntarily admitted what he had done to her and her parents two years before proposing to her. "I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she wrote today. "For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes."

"I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis," she added. "If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right."

LifeSiteNews is continuing to investigate this developing story. Following are the Duggar family’s statements responding to media reports about the incidents.

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday.

It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. 

We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him.

When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes.

At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.

I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Dutch court acquits man who euthanized his mother after doctor refused

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Dutch appeals court acquitted a 74 year-old man earlier this month of the murder of his mother in 2008, because he acted in an “emergency situation”: the woman wanted euthanasia and had not obtained it from her family doctor.

The decision is a surprising one, even in the Netherlands, and will probably be followed by an appeal from the public prosecutor, who has already published a communiqué reminding the public that euthanasia and assisted suicide “are and remain, in the eyes of the prosecutor, exclusively to be performed by a doctor.” But as it stands, it marks a new step down the slippery slope of euthanasia in that it justifies an act of euthanasia contrary to the letter of the law on the grounds that the accused, Albert Heringa, was careful to act in compliance with the law’s provisions, the court ruled.

Albert Heringa acted in accordance with his conscience of his own duty and he was right to do so, ruled the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court, because his sense of duty “justly” carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, which in theory can only be decriminalized when performed by a medical doctor under strict conditions.

The accused said he was “very happy” about the decision. The Netherlands Right to Die Society (NVVE) hailed it as “a step in the direction we want to follow.” “Many people who consider their life complete wish to be helped by loved ones,” said its spokeswoman, Fiona Zonneveld.

The judges did not take into account the fact that Albert Heringa’s mother, “Moek,” was deemed ineligible for euthanasia by her doctor.

In 2008, Moek was 99. She had no grave illness; she was just old and blind and did not feel like living any longer, calling her suffering “unbearable” and “without hope of improvement.” When her doctor refused euthanasia on those grounds, she turned to her son who decided to help his mother die. He was later to explain that his mother started hoarding her medication in order to kill herself through an overdose. The pills she was taking would not have been able to bring about her death, he argued, but would have made her health much worse. This was confirmed during the subsequent judicial enquiry.

Heringa decided to go to work “transparently,” filming his every gesture in view of the killing of his mother. He used an overdose of his own malaria pills together with sleeping pills and anti-emetics to poison her. The films were later used to illustrate a documentary on “Moek’s last wish,” which was aired in 2010 on Dutch TV. The appeals court judges took this “transparency” into account in their decision to acquit him.

The public prosecution was not so lax. Despite the “rectitude” of Heringa’s intention, it accused the man of not having acted in compliance with the law. In 2013, he was judged guilty but exempted from punishment. The prosecution appealed that decision, demanding a three months suspended prison sentence in order to underscore the illegality of his actions. But the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court went even further than the first judges in exonerating him completely.

They invoked the euthanasia law, which decriminalizes euthanasia when no other “reasonable solution” is available to alleviate a patient’s suffering and thus avoid euthanasia, but in this case they equated the potential “reasonable solution” with the ability to find a doctor who would be willing to perform the act, as if euthanasia were a patient right. Heringa could not find one, therefore he was justified in taking the law in his own hands, the judgment says in substance.

This marks a double revolution. Firstly, the court overlooked the legal requirement that a doctor should perform euthanasia, and no one else. Secondly, it justified euthanasia on a woman who was simply “tired of living,” a situation for which the euthanasia law definitely does not provide.

But this is just another element of the Pandora’s box that was opened when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002. Increasingly, regional control commissions, which verify all declared acts of euthanasia retrospectively, have cleared “mercy-killings” of elderly people who had multiple complaints but no single life-threatening disease. “Intolerable suffering” is being interpreted more and more widely. In Heringa’s case, it is simply his mother’s plea for euthanasia that justified the act in the eyes of the court.

The court even went so far as to say that Heringa would have had to live with a “sense of guilt until the end of his life” had he not taken measures to end his mother’s life.

In 2011, the Dutch medical association KNMG changed its position on “intolerable suffering,” declaring that “unbearable and hopeless” suffering can result from other causes than physical illness. Also, the End of Life Clinic founded in 2012 caters to euthanasia requests that have been refused by patients’ family doctors on conscientious or medical grounds. Would Heringa have found a doctor willing to perform euthanasia on his mother in this new situation?

Whatever the answer to that question – and no one will ever know – the fact of his acquittal is a definite sign that euthanasia is being treated more and more as a right and an acceptable option in the Netherlands. It is also good news for unscrupulous family members who might find it expedient to push their relatives towards the grave.

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