Judge’s ruling puts polygamy on the way to legal recognition
SALT LAKE CITY, December 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge may have put polygamy on its first step to legal recognition, striking down part of a Utah law that criminalized plural marriage.
The lawsuit was brought by Kody Brown, star of the TLC reality series Sister Wives. Brown lives with Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, and their brood of 17 children. However, he is legally married only to Meri.
Utah, a majority Mormon state that had to outlaw polygamy before being admitted to the union in 1896, deems living together in the manner of a polygamous couple a felony.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled on Friday that the state could continue to ban polygamy “in the literal sense – the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses.” But it could not arrest people who voluntarily choose to live together in a common law plural marriage.
Waddoups cited Lawrence vs. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that ruled a Texas anti-sodomy law “unconstitutional.” The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, cited foreign law in its legal reasoning and played a large role in two Supreme Court cases this summer striking down bans on gay “marriage.”
The judge also used the legal framework that granted a constitutional “right” to abortion-on-demand, saying polygamy in all but name fell under the couple's right to privacy.
Waddoups said legal precedent since courts outlawed polygamy have resulted in “a significant strengthening of numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights, and a practical and morally defensible identification of 'penumbral' rights 'of privacy and repose' emanating from those key provisions of the Bill of Rights.” The “penumbral” quotation is taken from Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court precedent that created the “right to privacy” later employed as the basis for a constitutional “right” to abortion in Roe v. Wade.
In essence, he said, the couples had the right to arrange their sexual life as they wished, as long as they did not hold more than one marriage license at a time.
Critics said the ruling eroded legal protections given to children and significantly harmed society.
“This ruling confuses the private desires of individuals with the institution of marriage as a whole,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute told LifeSiteNews.com. “I have no doubt that these individual women and Mr. Brown are living this plural marriage lifestyle voluntarily. What I dispute is that they are the only ones affected by changing the law to permit plural cohabitation or plural marriage.”
“Polygamous societies look very different from monogamous societies,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews. “In polygamous societies, wealthy men are at a huge competitive advantage over men of average means. The wealthy men, in effect, take more than their share of women. This triggers a whole series of reactions. The society begins to sanction the marriage of younger and younger women, sometimes no more than girls, to satisfy the demand for brides. The men grow more and more possessive and treat women more like possessions and less like people.”
“I challenge the advocates of legalized plural marriage to find an example of a polygamous society in which these things have not happened,” she said.
Following this summer's setbacks on gay “marriage,” family advocates say society is increasingly putting adults' libidos ahead of children's health.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, asked, “Can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”
"Throughout history, marriage has been future-oriented, focused on the next generation and the best interests of children. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad,” he said. “However, redefining marriage to fulfill the desires of same-sex couples or polygamists only moves society away from this vital public interest and creates social chaos.”
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), agreed.
“This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life,” he said. “Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children.”
“Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing,” he added.
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Polygamy advocates rejoiced at the decision.
"Now that we're no longer felons, that's a huge relief," Anne Wilde, the co-founder of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices told The Associated Press. "This decision will hopefully take away the stigma of living a principle that's a strongly held religious belief."
Brown, who belongs to a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot known as the Apostolic United Brethren Church, also said his case had been founded on religious liberty.
“While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs,” Brown said in a statement. “Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs.”
Moore responded, “When reality TV scenarios drive our judicial decisions, we’ve truly reached a strange time in American life.”
Conservatives said the decision vindicated their longstanding argument that, if gay “marriage” were legalized, there would be no way to continue to forbid polygamy, or perhaps incest.
Rick Santorum said on Twitter, “Some times I hate it when what I predict comes true.” Santorum said in 2003 the Lawrence decision would lead to polygamy.
“We have warned of this slippery slope for years,” said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Same-sex 'marriage' is the abolition of marriage and will destroy the most basic foundation of family and civil society.”
Aside from pro-family groups, the shocking decision made few waves at the national level.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, made a far more restrained response, saying today that he had not yet read the decision but would “much rather see decisions on social issues” made by elected legislators instead of unelected judges.
But opponents of the ruling say it is the substance, rather than the process, of legitimizing polygamy that concerns them.
“No one is taking responsibility for the systemic changes to marriage,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews, nor thinking about “how a change in the laws that seems to protect individuals turns out to have long-term, systemic affects that harm lots of people.”
Waddoups, a well-respected private attorney, was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2008 without any previous judicial experience.
‘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.
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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.
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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.