NewsMon Jan 23, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST
More Details on Conservative Candidate’s Harassment of Pro-Life Family
By John-Henry Westen
SCARBOROUGH, ON, January 23, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Today LifeSiteNews.com spoke with anÂindependent eye-witness of the events that took place yesterday outside a Scarborough Catholic Church where Conservative candidate Vincent Veerasuntharam and his campaign workers physically threatened and harassed a family handing out a pro-life candidates evaluation sheet.
LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday that the candidate took a swing at LifeSiteNews.com director Steve Jalsevac and laterÂcampaign workers attempted to steal from him the audio recording device with which Jalsevac was taping the threats. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jan/06012301.html )
John Corcoran, a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine where the incident occurred told LifeSiteNews.com that he witnessed harassment of the family and said that the family did not provoke the attack.Â“Nobody that were handing out brochures were harassing anybody, they were taking all of this harassment I thought very well, because they weren’t striking back in any way that I could see, they were just refusing to give up the brochures that these people were trying to take,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran said he witnessed Jalsevac’s 16-year-old son Joseph being harassed.Â“One chap was harassing a young lad there something fierce, he was trying to get the brochures from him, he was speaking quite loudly right into his face,” said Corcoran.Â
For his part, Joseph Jalsevac recounts that the large, over six foot Conservative candidate Veerasuntharam threatened him saying, “I’m F….n going to punch you in the face”, simply because Joseph refused to leave as orderedÂby the CPC candidate.ÂÂHe recalls also that as things began getting violent,Âhis sisters on the street began crying and screaming.
According to Corcoran, Joseph was later physically assaulted by one of Veerasuntharam’s co-workers.Â“When I looked upstairs after a few minutes, somebody pushed the young lad, and he had nearly fallen down the stairs, he had to grab the banister otherwise he would have fallen down the stairs,” he said.
LifeSiteNews.com has learned that this was not the first intimidating confrontation staged by Veerasuntharam’s campaign workers.Â
Wayne Copeland, a local pro-lifer who had paid for the CLC evaluations to be printed, received what he called a “very intimidating” visit by three “pretty big guys” who knocked on his door in the wee hours of the morning at 1:45am Sunday.Â The men presented Copeland with a letter from Veerasuntharam’s lawyer claiming that the evaluation sheet defamed Veerasuntharam and demanding an apology before 8am that morning. CopelandÂstated that there were also at least two more men with them in a car parked on his street.
Another set of pro-life volunteers, this time at St. Dunstan’s Church in the riding,Âreported that they also were very aggressively harassed by Vincent V and his supporters. Michael Schaub reports that at three of the masses the Conservative candidate and his helpers were constantly “intimidating and trying to physically obstruct” the pro-life volunteers. SchaubÂtold LifeSiteNews that a young women yelled at the pro-lifers calling them names such as “fascists” and pulled allÂthe flyers out of his hands. Photos were taken of the pro-life people andÂthey were yelled at by the candidate and threatened with legal action for misrepresenting Veerasuntharam.ÂSchaub says heÂobserved the candidate harassingÂand talking loudly to another pro-life volunteer who was theÂvice-president of the parish CWL. ÂShe wasÂfrom Sri Lanka and knew of Vincent from his days at St. Andrew’s school in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She told LifeSiteNews she rebuffed Vincent’s demandsÂat the ChurchÂto support him because they came from the same country since sheÂwas not happy with his previous responsesÂon theÂissues.
Beyond that, LifeSiteNews.com spoke with two pro-lifers who handed out the election sheet at the Saturday-night Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church. TheyÂwere also intimidated by Veerasuntharam and his campaign workers and wereÂvery concerned about going back the next day.
After hearing about the Saturday night incidents,ÂSteve Jalsevac decided he should bring his small LifeSiteNews recorder toÂtakeÂevidence in case anything occurred while he and his family was handing out theÂevaluationsÂsheet at the church. However, he related to this reporter he did not expect that things would get as violent as they did. In 25Âyears of doing this work, he said, he has never encountered such a situation at a church during an election.
Jalsevac relates that after Vincent and his first assistant were joined by at least four more also very large East Asian men,ÂwhoÂall confronted himÂat once, he felt that he wasÂfaced with a group ofÂenforcers or thugs and that he was right to have called 911 after Veerasuntheram had earlier physically threatened him. Unfortunately, he says, police did not come right away and only responded after a second call was made by a church employee after Steve and his son were attacked on the church steps.
Calls to Mr. Veerasuntharam’s office for comment were not returned.
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) about the candidate’s accusations that they had misrepresented him, and that the evaluation sheet was grounds for legal action,
CLC President Jim Hughes contacted a litigation lawyer early Sunday morning who assured him there were no grounds for legal action from the one paragraph evaluation of theÂConservative candidate.
CLC workers told LifeSiteNew.com they had repeatedly contacted and spoken to staff at Veerasuntharam’s campaign office about the questionnaire questions without success. CLC was not able to obtain any other information on the candidate beyond a Scarborough Mirror article which noted Veerasuntharam’s responses at an all-candidates’ meeting.
The Mirror reported that the Conservative candidate attacked Tom Wappel stating, “I’m not a MP who is going to go around with his personal Catholic values hiding in Ottawa.” To a same-sex marriage issue question, Wappel responded he has long opposed the redefinition of marriage. The CPC candidate, however, was reported to take a non-position stating, “I will consult with you the constituents and I will do what you want.”
Vincent Veerasuntharam, a member of St. Bonaventure’s Catholic parish in Toronto, serves as a director with the Sri Lanka Business Council and is well known within the Toronto Tamil community. He has been President of Suvara Travels Canada Inc., Scarborough for the past 18 years.
See previous report on this incident
Conservative Candidate Physically Threatens, Harasses Family Handing Out Pro-Life Election Sheet at Church - Updated
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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