Kathleen Gilbert

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Pro-life leaders weigh in on Sebelius’ Plan B call

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the days after Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put the kibosh on the FDA’s plans to give minors over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill, numerous speculations have arisen as to how one of the most pro-abortion politicians in the United States - as well as Barack Obama himself - found themselves at odds with the nation’s top abortion lobbies.

The FDA on Wednesday responded to a request from the drug’s manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, to consider eliminating the need for a prescription.

But in announcing the final decision, FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg noted that, while Sebelius had struck down the change, Hamburg herself felt the pill should be free for use by “all females of child-bearing potential,” hinting at a a clash at the highest levels of the administration. Sebelius later explained in her own letter that, especially as such a move would expose the powerful drug to girls as young as 11, the lack of data on Plan B’s effects on younger girls prevented her approval.

While claiming no involvement in the actual decision, President Obama agreed that “the reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able - alongside bubble gum or batteries - be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect.”

Abortion advocates such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and NARAL Pro-Choice America were aghast at the news: NARAL president Nancy Keenan complained that “we expected this kind of action from the Bush administration.” The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) responded several hours later in a press release that it was “extremely disapointed.” PPFA president Cecile Richards followed up on Thursday with a public letter requesting a meeting with Sebelius, and on Friday with a critical editorial in the Huffington Post.

But abortion leaders were only as shocked as opponents of the industry, with both scratching their heads at such statements from a president renowned for his tight-knit relationship with the population control industry.

In addition, as governor of Kansas, Sebelius was especially well known as a strong defender of abortion, including the business of Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Sebelius, who vetoed countless bills to regulate abortion clinics or strengthen parental rights, was heavily funded by Kansas abortions through Tiller’s political PAC and has been tightly connected to the industry in other ways, including being feted on her birthday alongside Cecile Richards at a local Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 2007.

Sebelius’ administration was even implicated in October after a years-long case alleging 23 felonies and 26 misdemeanors against the local Planned Parenthood hit a wall because key evidence had been shredded by Sebelius’ attorney general, Steve Six. Obama nominated Six for a Federal Appeals Court opening this summer.

Even as pro-life leaders praised the decision, speculation continues as to exactly how the decision came about. Several commentators have concluded that the move sought to remove ammunition from Obama’s conservative political opponents in the upcoming election year. Meanwhile, others say that the move to restrict Plan B access actually benefits Planned Parenthood.

“It is a huge financial boon for Planned Parenthood because it requires the teens to come into their facilities,” HLI America fellow Bob Laird, formerly of Tepeyac Family Center, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). 

“Not only that, it further establishes themselves as the ‘go-to place for teen health care,’” said Laird. “I believe that the Administration was thinking of two things when they made this decision: it solidifies their alliance with Planned Parenthood, and it also allowed them to keep their voting base of over-18-year-old sexually active women happy by allowing them free sex knowing that they can stop in to the 24-hour drug store after its over for their Plan B.”

However, Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) didn’t believe Planned Parenthood’s outrage was facetious.

“From what I’ve seen over the years of Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood is foremost, philosophically, a population control organization,” Sedlak told LSN on Friday. It’s for this reason, he said, that the organization has advocated for over-the-counter birth control of all types in the United States for “a long time.”

“I’ve read a lot of people saying, well, Planned Parenthood was not sincere when it issued its condemnation yesterday ... I don’t wholly buy into that,” he said. “I think that they really do want to have this, and I think their plan is to get Plan B available without a prescription because if they did that, there’s no argument left as to why regular birth control pills shouldn’t be available without a prescription.”

While Planned Parenthood clearly makes “millions” off their current arrangement distributing Plan B - “they sell it for 33-35 dollars and they pay 4 or 5 dollars for it, and they do over a million a year,” said Sedlak - the pro-life leader thinks that may not be Planned Parenthood’s only venue for profit.

“Planned Parenthood was part of the investment group that invested in [developing] Plan B ... so I am not sure they won’t make money if the sales go up dramatically from their initial investment in it,” he said.

In addition, Sebelius’ decision is far from the end of the story for Plan B among minors: a lawsuit is still pending against the FDA by the Center for Reproductive Rights demanding that younger girls be given over-the-counter access to the drug. A hearing on that case is scheduled for Dec. 13 on a contempt of court motion against the FDA for failing to lower the standards.

Troy Newman, whose organization followed Sebelius’ involvement with the abortion industry for years, said that in any event, he remained convinced Sebelius has “skin in the game.” “She’s going to do everything to benefit Planned Parenthood,” said Newman. “She can say she wants to protect women and children all she wants, but her track record is the exact opposite.”

Whichever the case, the move was patently in the best interest of young girls, said Mary Davenport, President of the American Association of Prolife OB-GYNs. Besides its abortifacient qualities, Plan B has been shown in several studies to increase STDs, while increasing risk of dangerous ectopic pregnancies, and remaining a popular “date rape” drug for use by sexual predators, Davenport told LSN.

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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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