Hilary White

Irish Children’s Rights Referendum will make children property of the state: U.S. legal expert

Hilary White
Hilary White

DUBLIN, November 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.comt) – A proposed “Children’s Rights” amendment to the Irish constitution will make children “creatures” of the Irish state, totally subject to the whims of state officers, who can order them adopted out to strangers without even judicial review, an American legal expert has warned.

The public is set to vote on the wording, which was described by the expert as “frightening,” on November 10th. Michael Vacca, a lawyer with the group Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-governmental organization focusing on religious freedom and family law issues, says the language places the rights of children at odds with the rights of their parents and the family, a move that is in direct contradiction to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Ireland is signatory.

“The Children’s Rights Referendum gives Ireland absolute control over children in Ireland, who are subjected to the fancies of the State and can be deprived of loving and caring parents without a clear showing of parental neglect or abuse.”

Vacca has written a comprehensive analysis of the proposed new wording to Ireland’s constitution in response to questions by LifeSiteNews.com. He told LSN that he hopes it will help to educate the Irish public on the threat to the family and to children posed by the government’s amendment. Recent polls show that, with millions of public and private funds being spent on the Yes campaign, and the No side coming late and underfunded to the fight, the referendum is likely to overwhelmingly pass the new wording.

Read: Why You Must Vote “No” on Ireland’s Children’s Rights Referendum on November 10th

“If this Referendum passes, Irish children will belong to the State, and parents will be powerless to protect their own children from the State,” Vacca warned.

“Ireland is legally obligated to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Children’s Rights Referendum will place Ireland out of step with the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.”

In the proposal, “The child is viewed as an isolated individual rather than as a part of the family,” Vacca said. “As a result, the child becomes a creature of the State of Ireland. Ironically, by claiming the authority of Ireland to safeguard the best interests of the child independent of parental rights, Ireland would thus violate the right of children not to have their families interfered with through the dismissal of parental rights.”

Ominously, given the current government’s growing antipathy towards the Catholic Church, Vacca warns that the ambiguity of the new wording could be used to impose a secularist interpretation of “best interests” and remove children from homes based on anti-religious prejudice.

“Whether, for example, a child’s safety or welfare is ‘likely to be prejudicially affected’ may very well depend upon the religion or culture of that child’s parents, or rather, the perception which an agent of the State has about that religion or culture,” he said.

The Irish state has claimed that the referendum will bolster protections for children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But Vacca has found that it is precisely the rights defined by that document that will be threatened by the proposed amendment. He points out that the Convention on the Rights of the Child “explicitly and implicitly protects parental rights” as the best means of protecting children. Despite it being the Convention’s foundational principle, any mention of protections for the family is glaringly omitted from the wording.

The Convention’s Preamble states that the family, is “the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children,” and as such “should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community”.

But far from protecting families, Vacca says, the government’s Committee on the Rights of the Child has “so contorted the express language used in the Convention that it has effectively interpreted [it] as a means for the State to usurp parental rights”.

The amendment’s wording grants the state the right to dissolve the family. It asserts that in undefined “exceptional cases” the “State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents.” It allows children to be seized by the state and adopted out to others against the will of their natural parents “where the best interests of the child so require,” with “best interests” also remaining undefined.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, is quite specific about the meaning of “best interests” and defines it clearly as being “intrinsically connected with the protection of parental rights based on the family,” Vacca says.

Article 3(2) of the Convention says, “States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her…”

Vacca writes, “Lest States are tempted to think that they are the primary guarantors of the ‘best interests of the child,’ Article 3(2) makes clear that the best interests of the child standard necessarily involves the protection of parental rights.”

Further, the Convention repeats the priority of the rights of parents, saying in Article 5, “States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents”. According to the Convention, Vacca says, “Implicit in every child’s right, to education, to healthcare, to clothing and shelter, etc, is the right of children to exercise such rights within their family, that is, within the context of parental rights and duties.”

“There are no children’s rights which of their nature exclude parental rights because all the rights of a child should be exercised, if possible, within their respective families.”

The Convention also prohibits states from arbitrarily and unilaterally removing children from their parents’ supervision, even in “exceptional cases” where the child is subject to abuse. The determination of the State to remove children from their parents must be subject to judicial review, and courts must have the authority to return a child to his parents if that is in the “best interests” of the child. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child presumes that parents act in the ‘best interests’ of their children,” Vacca said.

Vacca says it is the proposal’s blanket permission to adopt children out without their parents’ consent that is “most frightening” because the grounds for this extreme action are left entirely to the discretion of the state to define.

The state can adopt out children when parents fail in their “duty” but this is undefined, and “in practice means …whatever the State of Ireland wants it to mean”.

“Secondly, since the ‘best interests of the child’ is determined without regard to parental rights, it is the State which unilaterally determines the ‘best interests of the child.’

“Thirdly, the period of time that parents must fail in their duty towards their child to have their child taken away from them without their consent is unspecified, and could theoretically be a very short period of time.”

Many of the amendment’s critics have pointed out that the scandals involving abuse of children in various institutions, that prompted the proposal for the referendum, occurred in state-funded and supervised institutions, not within private families. Moreover, the amendment includes no language to create a mechanism or structure to supervise state officials in their dealings with children.

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BREAKING: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

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By John Jalsevac

Nov. 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Five hours after a single male shooter reportedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, chatter on police radio is indicating that the suspect has now been "detained."

"We have our suspect and he says he is alone," said police on the police radio channel. 

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also confirmed via Twitter shortly after 7:00 pm EST that the suspect was in custody.

The news comes almost exactly an hour after the start of a 6:00 pm. press conference in which Lt. Catherine Buckley had confirmed that a single shooter was still at large, and had exchanged gunfire with police moments before.

According to Lt. Buckley, four, and possibly five police officers have been shot since the first 911 call was received at 11:38 am local time today. An unknown number of civilians have also been shot.

Although initial reports had suggested that the shooting began outside the Planned Parenthood, possibly outside a nearby bank, Lt. Buckley said that in fact the incident began at the Planned Parenthood itself.

She said that the suspect had also brought unknown "items" with him to the Planned Parenthood. 

Pro-life groups have started responding to the news, urging caution in jumping to conclusions about the motivations of the shooter, while also condemning the use of violence in promoting the pro-life cause. 

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Pavone. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion.

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


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Rubio says SCOTUS didn’t ‘settle’ marriage issue: ‘God’s rules always win’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Surging GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, says that "God's law" trumps the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision imposing same-sex “marriage” nationwide.

The senator also told Christian Broadcast Network's David Brody that the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage is not "settled," but instead "current law."

“No law is settled,” said Rubio. “Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called to participate in that process to try to change it,” he explained, and "the proper place for that to be defined is at the state level, where marriage has always been regulated — not by the Supreme Court and not by the federal government.”

However, when laws conflict with religious beliefs, "God's rules always win," said Rubio.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio expounded. “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

“I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman," said the senator, who earlier in the fall was backed by billionaire GOP donor and same-sex "marriage" supporter Paul Singer.

Singer, who also backs looser immigration laws and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, has long pushed for the GOP to change its position on marriage in part due to the sexual orientation of his son.

Despite Singer's support, Rubio's marriage stance has largely been consistent. He told Brody earlier in the year that "there isn't such a right" to same-sex "marriage."

"You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex."

Rubio also said religious liberty should be defended against LGBT activists he says "want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters."

"I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman," he said.

Rubio also hired social conservative leader Eric Teetsel as his director of faith outreach this month.

However, things have not been entirely smooth for Rubio on marriage. Social conservatives were concerned when the executive director of the LGBT-focused Log Cabin Republicans told Reuters in the spring that the Catholic senator is "not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest."

The LGBT activist group had meetings with Rubio's office "going back some time," though the senator himself never attended those meetings. Rubio has publicly said that he would attend the homosexual "wedding" of a gay loved one, and also that he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with," as opposed to being a choice.

Additionally, days after the Supreme Court redefined marriage, Rubio said that he disagreed with the decision but that "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."

"I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman," he said. "People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

Rubio also said at the time that "it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood…"

“I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.”

The Florida senator said in July that he opposed a constitutional marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution to leave marriage up to the states because that would involve the federal government in state marriage policies.

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Former The View star Sherri Shepherd and then-husband Lamar Sally in 2010 s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Steve Weatherbe

Court orders Sherri Shepherd to pay child support for surrogate son she abandoned

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Sherri Shepherd, a Hollywood celebrity who co-hosted the popular talk show The View for seven years, has lost a maternity suit launched by her ex-husband Lamar Sally, forcing her to pay him alimony and child support for their one-year surrogate son LJ. The decision follows an unseemly fight which pro-life blogger Cassy Fiano says has exposed how surrogacy results in “commodifying” the unborn.

Shepherd, a co-host of the View from 2007 to 2014, met Sally, a screenwriter, in 2010 and they married a year later. Because her eggs were not viable, they arranged a surrogate mother in Pennsylvania to bear them a baby conceived in vitro using Sally’s sperm and a donated egg.

But the marriage soured in mid-term about the time Shepherd lost her job with The View. According to one tabloid explanation, she was worried he would contribute little to parenting responsibilities.  Sally filed for separation in 2014, Shepherd filed for divorce a few days, then Sally sued for sole custody, then alimony and child support.

Earlier this year she told PEOPLE she had gone along with the surrogacy to prevent the breakup of the marriage and had not really wanted the child.

Shepherd, an avowed Christian who once denied evolution on The View and a successful comic actor on Broadway, TV, and in film since the mid-90s, didn’t want anything to do with LJ, as Lamar named the boy, who after all carried none of her genes. She refused to be at bedside for the birth, and refused to let her name be put on the birth certificate and to shoulder any responsibility for LJ’s support.

But in April the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, and now the state’s Superior Court, ruled that Shepherd’s name must go on the birth certificate and she must pay Sally alimony and child support.

“The ultimate outcome is that this baby has two parents and the parents are Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd,” Shepherd’s lawyer Tiffany Palmer said.

As for the father, Sally told PEOPLE, “I'm glad it's finally over. I'm glad the judges saw through all the lies that she put out there, and the negative media attention. If she won't be there for L.J. emotionally, I'll be parent enough for the both of us.”

But Shepherd said, “I am appealing the ruling that happened,” though in the meantime, Sally will “get his settlement every month. There’s nothing I can do.”

Commented Fiano in Live Action News, “What’s so sickening about this case is that this little boy, whose life was created in a test tube, was treated as nothing more than a commodity…Saying that you don’t want a baby but will engineer one to get something you want is horrific.” As for trying to get out from child support payments now that the marriage had failed, that was “despicable.”

Fiano went on to characterize the Shepherd-Sally affair as a “notable example” of commodification of children, and “by no means an anomaly.” She cited a British report than over the past five years 123 babies conceived in vitro were callously aborted when they turned out to have Down Syndrome.

“When we’re not ready for babies, we have an abortion,” she added. “But then when we decide we are ready we manufacture them in a laboratory and destroy any extras. Children exist when we want them to exist, to fill the holes in us that we want them to fill, instead of being independent lives with their own inherent value and dignity.”

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