Nun to Religious Freedom Rally: ‘It is our responsibility to stand brave and to shout to the world’
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, March 23, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a college town known for its liberal politics, more than 400 people gathered at noon Friday to support religious liberty and oppose the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.
Just blocks from the University of Michigan, more than 400 people formed the local meeting of the National Rally for Religious Freedom held simultaneously at 146 locations nationwide.
Joined by schoolchildren from local Catholic schools, including Spiritus Sanctus Academies, the speakers focused on the constitutional crisis unleashed by forcing a religious institution to violate its conscience.
Nick Thomm, the executive producer of the nationally syndicated radio show “Kresta in the Afternoon,” said, “At Notre Dame in 2009, President Obama promised conscience protection. It’s pretty clear he lied.” He stated current coverage is a step toward full, federally funded abortions.
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“As the bishops said, this fight is not about or contraception abortion, or a compromised Catholic Church,” Thomm said. “This is about the power of the federal government to define what is or what is not the mission of Christians” in a “voluntary institution.”
“To sixty million American Catholics the president has said that to be good Americans, we must be bad Catholics,” Thomm said.
Although churches and houses of worship are exempt, the guidelines for religiously affiliated institutions to gain a religious exemption are “impractical, impossible, and illogical.” Requiring religious institutions to “serve their own kind and hire their own kind” means “in hiring, you’re forced to ask a question that’s normally a violation of EEOC practices.”
“Must Catholics hire and feed only Catholics in their food pantries?” Thomm asked. “Until today, you did not need a baptismal certificate for soup.”
Meeting near the local Occupy Wall Street campsite, the throng of mostly young people received virtually no opposition and no organized counter-demonstration.
Instead, speakers encouraged the crowd to fight to preserve the Constitutional rights of their forebears. Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, a nun from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, said God “has given us these rights, and we must proclaim them in the streets…It is our responsibility to stand brave and to shout to the world.”
“Today is a day in which we need heroes,” the sister said. “We value our freedoms and since they do not come freely, we beg God that we will all be prepared to pay the price, if that should be in the Divine will – to stand with the countless soldiers, heroes, saints, and martyrs through the ages in union with the One Who hung on Calvary.”
Her fellow sister, Sister Martin Therese, said she is proud she became an American citizen two weeks earlier because she cherishes this nation’s founding ideals, however imperfectly they are practiced now.
Fr. Dennis Brown, O.M.V., warned those ideas are in danger. “If this HHS mandate – diktat – passes, the America we knew will be no more,” he said. “That’s not a dramatic statement. It’s not exaggerated. This essentially changes what America is.”
He called this administration’s war on religion “the worst crisis we’ve faced in our history in terms of our basic American identity.”
That assessment cut across religious lines. The president of the university’s Students for Life, Carmen Maria Allen, told the mostly Catholic crowd gathered at the federal building, “I am here to say that as a Protestant leader of Students for Life, the HHS mandate is not about the Catholic Church. And it’s not even about Christianity, and it’s not even about religion. It’s about protecting and preserving the freedoms granted in our Constitution.”
Organizers encouraged attendees to take action after the rally ended.
Everyone asked the faithful to flood Capitol Hill with calls and e-mails asking them to block or repeal the HHS mandate. Nick Thomm also directed visitors to the sign the petition at StopHHS.com. The resource director of Michigan Right to Life, asked everyone to support the state’s Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act. “to protect all those doctors and nurses who object to abortion or abortion-causing drugs.”
Several speakers noted turnout far exceeded expectations. Nick Thomm said at one point, “I don’t think anyone anticipated we would be having these numbers.”
Barb Harburg, who organized the local rally, runs Citizens for Pro-Life Society, said she wanted to inspire others who share her beliefs in the area. “Ann Arbor is a hotbed of liberalism,” Harburg said, “and I felt that we have to make a statement” that “there are a lot of faithful people who believe in religious freedom.”
“Government, by doing what it’s doing now, is already violating our First Amendment rights,” Harburg told LifeSiteNews.com. “It’s absolutely untenable. I’m not going to take that, and I’m not going to stand for that. I’m willing to go to jail, personally.
Dianne Malesko, a local resident who had never attended a pro-life or religious freedom rally before, said she was pleased by the turnout and uplifted by the atmosphere but “saddened by the fact that people don’t understand life is so important.”
“Government wanting to be involved in religion when they never want religion involved in government is unacceptable,” she said.
‘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.
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.
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.