Peter Baklinski

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Maltese bishops call for natural solutions to infertility as country proposes first-ever IVF law

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

VALLETTA, Malta, July 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Maltese Bishops have weighed-in heavily on the in vitro fertilization (IVF) debate that has engulfed the small nominally Catholic country.  The bishops strategically released a pastoral letter 24 hours prior to the release of the country’s first proposed law that would regulate, rather than ban, the country’s IVF-based reproductive business that has been operating for over two decades with no restrictions.

The proposed Embryo Protection Act 2012 is considered to be a very restrictive law banning cloning, freezing, experimentation, and willful destruction of embryos. However, the bishops have come out condemning all forms of IVF as a “morally wrong”, anti-personal, and inhuman solution to infertility and have suggested that laws be crafted which treat infertility using natural solutions that at the same time “respect the dignity of the human person and of the unity of marriage”.

“The statement the bishops issued last week was opportune and ought to be considered seriously by everyone involved,” said Paul Vincenti, president and founder of Gift of Life Foundation in Malta to LifeSiteNews.

Calling it their “duty as spiritual shepherd” to guide married couples, scientists, and politicians so that they may “form their consciences rightly on a subject such as human life”, Archbishop of Malta Paul Cremona and Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech reiterated three “fundamental values” in Church teaching that they say must be adhered to during fertility treatment for it to be moral.

The “value of life and the physical integrity of every person” must be “protected from the very moment of conception until the moment of natural death of the human person”. The bishops point out that “any form of discrimination” with respect to different stages of life “cannot be justified and must be upheld like any other form of discrimination”.

Furthermore, the value of a married couple’s “conjugal unity and fidelity” — whereby a “married man and woman, through their reciprocal gift of love, bring one another to perfection” — must be protected from “rupture” which is suffered when a “third party” is introduced for the sake of “artificial fertilization”.

Finally, the “value of human sexuality in marriage” must be protected whereby the “conception of a human person” is the fruit of the “mutual self-giving love of the married couple”.

The bishops conclude that “every technical method which replaces the personal conjugal act fails to respect the dignity of the human person and of the unity of marriage and so this is not acceptable.”

They point out that technical methods to aid procreation are permissible when they “aid the personal conjugal act to achieve its aim, that is to conceive human life,” such as in the case of NaPro Technology developed by Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers.

“A law which does not safe-guard these values is morally wrong” they wrote.

The act deems it unlawful with a fine up to $18,000 USD for anyone who “artificially fertilizes any egg cell for any purpose other than that of bringing about the pregnancy of the woman from whom the cell originated”. Only two eggs cells can be legally fertilized from one woman within one “treatment cycle”. The law forbids discarding embryos for “eugenic purposes”. Surrogate mothers are also not permitted.

Furthermore, the law would prohibit “all forms” of embryo preservation, including cryopreservation where ‘leftover’ embryos after a cycle of in vitro fertilization are frozen and stored at temperatures as low as −196 °C or −321 °F.

The proposed law would also prohibit sex-selective artificial fertilization, cloning, tampering with the genetic information of a human germ line cell, chimerae and hybrids, experimentation on human embryos, and willful destruction of embryos.

Regarding parenthood, the law states that “any prospective parent”, either “two persons of the opposite sex who are united in marriage, or who have attained the age of majority and are in a stable relationship with each other” shall have “access to medically assisted procreation procedures”. The law would therefore exclude people in same-sex relationships from procuring children by means of reproductive technology while at the same time allowing an unmarried man and woman to undergo the procedure.

The law also makes it clear that doctors will be “under no obligation” to participate in assisted procreation procedures “when such professional considers such participation objectionable as a matter of conscience and declares his objection beforehand”.

Maltese doctors who currently offer IVF to their patients as a solution to infertility claim that the new regulations will hamper business, some suggesting that they will have to close shop if the proposed regulations become law.

“Sur Ministru, you are telling us literally to shut down,” wrote Pawlu Sultana, head of medical services at St James Hospital, in a comment posted on Facebook as reported by MaltaToday.

Josie Muscat, owner of St James Hospital, told MaltaToday that the government is “trying to please everybody. Except patients” adding that it will be difficult for him to keep his embryologists employed.

But Malta’s bishops have pointed out that “everybody” includes humans at their “embryonic stage” and that these little ones must be afforded rights and protections by civil law.

“Human life should be safe-guarded and its integrity promoted from the very moment of conception. This obligation stems from the dignity of the human person which is at the foundation of all human rights.”

The Embryo Protection Act will be open for public consultation until September 14. The proposed act must be approved by a parliamentary majority before it becomes law.

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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!

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