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Planned Parenthood sues over notification laws, CA midwives’ abortion bill moves forward, and more

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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Kermit Gosnell trial has led to a renewed surge in pro-life regulations, the abortion lobby and its allies on the political Left are suing to overturn the will of the people, on often confusing grounds. And California leads the way with multiple laws to expand abortion, punish those who object to homosexuality, and distribute condoms more widely.

Montana

Planned Parenthood of Montana has filed a lawsuit to strike down two parental notification laws – one of which was passed by more than 70 percent of state voters during a ballot referendum. Montana voters overwhelmingly backed Legislative Referendum 120 in 2011, when Republicans in the state legislature put the question to them rather than see then-Governor Brian Schweitzer veto their own bill. It required parental notification if a minor girl sought an abortion. House Bill 521, which would take effect on July 1, required parents to consent. Planned Parenthood says the bills violate the constitutional rights of unemancipated minors. 

Arizona

The NAACP and an Asian women's group have sued to block Arizona's law banning women from having abortions because of a baby's race or sex – on the grounds that the 2011 law is racist and sexist. The ACLU filed the case, which left many puzzled, on behalf of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and Maricopa County's chapter of the NAACP. Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, told the media, "We hope the judgment in this case will expose the true intentions of the politicians behind these abortion bans and show unequivocally that they discriminate against women of color, Asian-American and African-American in particular." Arizona is the only state to bar women from aborting babies because of the baby's race. Five other states -- Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, -- have passed bans on sex-selective abortions. Arizona Congressman Trent Franks introduced a similar bill in U.S. Congress last year, but it could not clear the legislative hurdle House leadership placed in front of it.

California

The California Assembly has approved a bill to allow non-physicians to perform abortions. The bill, introduced by Toni Aktins, D-San Diego, would allow midwives and nurses to carry out early abortions without the supervision or participation of a trained physician. Its sponsors note the bill is inspired by the lack of medical professionals willing to terminate the unborn. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

The State Senate on Tuesday passed S.B. 323, a bill intended to revoke the tax-exempt status of youth organizations like the Boy Scouts that “discrimiante” against homosexuals. Legislators made clear the BSA's decision to admit homosexual scouts while barring adult homosexuals from serving as scoutmasters was not enough State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said, “We’ve given the Boy Scouts ample time to solve their discrimination problem and they have chosen a path that still leads to discrimination.” But critics like Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute, said the bill echoes the Obama administration's use of the IRS to punish its political enemies. “This bill is about government vilifying our values and abusing its power to penalize, through taxation, those who hold different beliefs and values,” she said. “SB 323 is an unprecedented intrusion by the government and a far reaching assault on freedoms of association, speech, and religion.”

A bill that would have required pornographers to use condoms in all films shot in the state of California died in the Appropriations Committee last Friday. The measure would extend a local L.A. County ordinance, passed after numerous STD and AIDS outbreaks within the adult film industry, statewide. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who represents the heart of the nation's porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, said, "A legislator has about as much right telling a performer to use condoms as we have telling Rush Limbaugh to wear a dunce cap during his radio shows."

Meanwhile, Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland had better luck with his bill to distribute condoms in state prisons. The Appropriations Committee gave his AB 999 unanimous approval.

Illinois

Illinois has one day left in its legislative session to pass a bill redefining marriage. The Assembly's African-American Caucus has demonstrated strong opposition to the Orwellian-named "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act." Attorneys from the Thomas More Society warn “Senate Bill 10 provides the worst religious liberty protections of any same-sex marriage bill in the country." S.B. 10 “would make Illinois the most hostile state in the country to the religious freedoms of people of faith," said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Chicago-based society. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has a different view. He has weighed in on the bill numerous times, including at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held Wednesday night at the home of his friends Bettylu and Paul Saltzman. “I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply support,” Obama said. “I am absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do.”

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Louisiana

Telemed abortions may have a limited future in the Pelican State. The state House passed a ban on the procedure by an overwhelming vote of 99-3. S.B. 90, introduced by Republican State Senator Fred Mills of Breaux Bridge, is intended to assure that women who swallow the cocktail of pills that lead to forceful contractions – and often result in an incomplete expulsion of the unborn baby – have adequate supervision. It now goes to the State Senate for final passage.

Wisconsin

Lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering three pro-life bills introduced by one state representative. The measures would respect the consciences of religious employers not to cover abortifacient drugs or contraction in their insurance plans; ban sex-selective abortions; and end taxpayer funding of elective abortion in state employees' insurance plans. Rep. André Jacque, R-De Pere, introduced all three bills last week. The Assembly Committee on Health held a hearing on the bills Wednesday. In response to an objection from Rep. Erik Severson, R-Star Prarie, Jacque said he would be willing to discuss adding an exception for birth control that was prescribed for non-contraceptive reasons. Many religious employers already have such an exception. 

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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.
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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. 

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