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N. Ireland Health Minister reveals plans to shut down Marie Stopes abortion facility

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BELFAST, December 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has moved to create new rules on abortion aimed at shutting down the Marie Stopes private abortion facility that opened illegally in Belfast in October. Meanwhile, a poll has shown that despite much propaganda in the secular media, there remains strong public opposition to liberalising the current law that allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is in serious danger from continuing the pregnancy.

Poots said that his department is considering making “legal terminations” available only in hospitals at any stage in pregnancy. This would firmly bar Marie Stopes from offering “medical” or chemical, early term abortions at their private, freestanding facility. “It may be that we only permit abortions to be carried out in a health service facility,” he said, adding that several options on regulations are being considered.

Poots said that his department is dedicated to saving, not taking lives, and that they will never bring in a regime of “social abortion” such as is available elsewhere in the UK.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on November 26th, Poots was asked “when he will publish guidelines on the medical termination of pregnancy in light of the tragedy reported in Galway.” He responded that it “would be inappropriate” to comment on the case of Savita Halappanavar, whose death has sparked demands by the international abortion lobby for the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to legalise abortion.

Asked whether he will “do all in his power to protect the life of the unborn child,” Poots replied, “The first and foremost rule in the Department on the provision of healthcare: it is about saving lives, not taking life. I believe that that applies to those who are born and to the unborn, because we seek to save and protect life.”

He added, “We are very clear that the life of the mother has a priority here, but that is purely in those instances in which the life of the mother is under threat. 

“Some form of social abortion is not something that I will ever be bringing before the House or seeking the support of Members for, and I do not believe that if I were inclined to do so, it would receive the support of the House because it is not something that is publicly supported.”

Poots said his department is in discussion with the Royal College of Midwives to develop “a maternity strategy” which has not included discussion of abortion.

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“I know that there are people from the Royal College of Midwives who are advisers to Marie Stopes. I am of the opinion that the role of midwives is largely to ensure quality care for expectant mothers and the babies whom those expectant mothers are carrying; to ensure that they receive the best possible support throughout that pregnancy; to ensure the safe delivery of that baby; and to provide considerable support thereafter to ensure that the baby gets the best start in life, as opposed to being involved with something that is, in fact, taking the life of the unborn child.”

Marie Stopes has made the claim that abortions are legal in N. Ireland if they are committed before nine weeks of pregnancy, but Poots was forceful on the subject of the law, saying it “is clear”. The law makes no mention of abortion being legal in early stages of pregnancy.

“Abortion in Northern Ireland is regulated by criminal law, and termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland is illegal, unless there is a real and serious threat to the life of the woman, or if there is a real and serious threat to the physical or mental health of the woman that is either long term or permanent in its nature. 

“In any other circumstances, it would be unlawful to perform a procedure that terminates a pregnancy.”

Although the Belfast Telegraph claimed that a poll they commissioned showed the opposition in Stormont to liberalization of the abortion law was leaving legislators “out of step” with the public, the numbers actually suggest otherwise. The survey of 1130 adults found that 55.4 percent want the law to stay the same or be strengthened even further to protect the unborn, while a total of about 45 percent wanted some liberalization.

25.9 percent agreed with the proposal for abortion on demand, with the numbers about evenly split between Catholics (27.8%) and Protestants (28.3%). 18.6 percent believed abortion should be available in cases of pregnancy due to rape or incest.

The largest groups were strongly against abortion being liberalized, with 26.9 percent believing the law should be unchanged and 26.5 per cent saying abortion should only be allowed “if the mother is likely to die if the pregnancy continues,” a position somewhat stronger than the current law states. Two percent, all of them men, agreed with the statement, “Abortion is no better than shooting a child in the head and should be treated as murder.” This was the opinion given by John Larkin, the Attorney General, shortly before he was appointed to the post.

The Belfast Telegraph noted that all of the province’s leading political parties except Alliance, which allows a free vote on the issue, have policies strongly against changing the laws.

In the Assembly at Stormont, Poots said that his department can produce guidelines that will “help to provide clarity for obstetricians in particular situations,” but insisted that these will not change the current legal situation.

“This House is the only thing that can change the law, and, as I indicated, I will not be bringing anything before the House to change that law.” He added that he is personally glad that the law for Northern Ireland is separate from that of the rest of the UK, and that the independence of Northern Ireland’s legislature from Westminster and the full legalization of abortion are “not compatible”.

Meanwhile, the Marie Stopes facility has all but refused to participate in a legal inquiry by the Justice Committee over their appearance in October. In a letter to the committee Tracey McNeill, Marie Stopes’ UK director, issued a list of demands before agreeing to appear and give evidence. Once these demands are met, McNeill wrote, “We can arrange a mutually convenient time and place to meet.”

Justice Committee members, however called the letter “arrogant” and “impertinent” and noted that the Committee has the right to demand the presence of anyone, and refusal can be punished with up to three months in prison. 

MLA Jim Allister said, “I think it’s the height of impertinence for the Marie Stopes organisation to try and tell the committee how they should conduct whatever it is they are going to conduct.

“I think they’re showing themselves very arrogant.”

MLA Patsy McGlone, another member of the committee, said, “I would have thought first and foremost it is for the committee to determine who it calls and when they call them.

“No external body determines that. So I think they might well have started on the wrong foot there. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re new to the place.

“They should be advised that it’s for the committee to decide who it calls to give evidence.”

“The position they’re in at the moment, it’s in their best interests to cooperate with a committee of the Northern Ireland assembly,” he added.



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Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

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Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.” 

“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”

“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.

More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.  Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms. 

Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.” 

“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target.  This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott. 

“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena.  “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”

On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room.  Police are searching for the man. 

There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.  



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Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against a katz / Shutterstock.com
Albert Mohler

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Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

Albert Mohler

May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? 

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.

By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.

The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.

But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.

As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.

This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.

To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.

Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.

Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.



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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.

Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.

The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”

Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.

“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”

Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.

“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”

“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”

Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.

“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”

Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”



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