Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Pro-life victory at Rio ‘sustainable development’ conference: ‘reproductive rights’ excised

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, June 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – International pro-life advocates are claiming victory at a UN-sponsored meeting on the environment in Rio de Janeiro this week. The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has angered abortion lobbyists by excluding any mention of abortion, either explicitly or in coded language, in the conference’s outcome document.

Among the parties attending the meeting was the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a UN-recognized NGO that trail-blazed the international pro-life effort at these kinds of gatherings when it participated in the 1994 meeting on population and development in Cairo. SPUC director John Smeaton told LifeSiteNews.com the defeat of the abortion-pushers at Rio will give strength to governments, churches and the pro-life movement when it comes time to fight at the local level.

“Each brick in the dam or resistance to this tidal wave is crucial,” he said.

Smeaton cited the situation in Ireland as a case in point, saying the country “is under colossal pressure” to legalize abortion from the UN and EU. “Holding the line is exceptionally difficult for pro-life politicians and pro-life groups – resisting the tidal wave of abortions in entire countries such as we continue to do in Ireland and in Northern Ireland is a battle which is constant struggle,” Smeaton said.

Touted as a follow-up to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN-sponsored Earth Summit, the Rio meeting is already being called a failure by those who were hoping for a clear declaration making population control, including abortion and sterilization, a key component of efforts to preserve the natural environment.

Pro-life advocates and government representatives have spent months fighting efforts to include code words such as “reproductive rights” or “reproductive health services” in the final document. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Catholics for Choice and the International Planned Parenthood Federation were among the powerful lobby interests attempting to force the UNFPA’s new term “population dynamics” into the document’s language on sexual and reproductive health. The final document, titled “The Future We Want,” which will be signed by 52 heads of state on Friday, has completely excised this language.

Countries supporting the UNFPA included Norway, Iceland, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the EU and Australia. Among the parties fighting the language of abortion were the UN delegation of the Holy See, the Russian Federation and a group of nations known as the G77 that promote the interests of the nations of the developing world against exploitation.

Timothy Herrmann of CFAM, a key player in the pro-life movement at the UN, noted that the African nations have been intimidated into silence on these issues, saying, “African delegations for one, are afraid that if they speak up that the funding they desperately depend on from organizations like the UNFPA will be cut.”

Various pro-abortion and pro-population control groups blasted the Rio document. Zonibel Woods, of the Women and Climate Change Foundation, lamented in an article published on the pro-abortion website RH Reality Check that the document, “falls short by failing to recognize that reproductive rights are also critical to the achievement of sustainable development.” Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch related how her organization and Amnesty International fought for “reproductive rights” language, lamenting, “It’s hard to understand why language on reproductive health and rights could cause such problems at a conference dedicated to seeking solutions for the earth’s currently unsustainable development.”

Other pro-abortion organizations were less specific in their criticisms, but expressed their disappointment as well. “Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology, and failed on economy,” a Greenpeace statement said on Tuesday. The World Wildlife Fund, which has also supported population control, called it “less than satisfactory from any point of view” and the European Union denounced the document for its “lack of ambition.”

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Smeaton told LSN the work of the pro-life movement at such international gatherings is crucial. He noted the significance of the victory at the Council of Europe when that body voted down a resolution which would have called for the abolition of conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia in all 47 member nations.

“The more that related resolutions and language are defeated at the UN, the more easily we will repeat our success. Such success – or failure – has a direct impact on the professional lives of doctors, nurses and those seeking their professional help,” Smeaton added.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, told LSN that the result at Rio would have significant impact on the actual working of health care on the ground.

UN-affiliated NGOs who run health care facilities and international aid programs, he said, will be guided by the policies decided at Rio. Such groups depend for their funding and permission to operate on the good will of domestic governments as well as the international agencies and charitable foundations.

“When they send out the next round of grant applications, fundraising letters and requests for planning permissions, any assertion linking abortion to sustainable development can be dismissed on the grounds that the link was discussed at Rio and voted down,” Ozimic said.

“When a regional health clinic run by a UN-affiliated group asks for money for abortion equipment, when in fact the local people need clean drinking water, the Rio document gives the minister and grant-dispensing benefactors a reason to say: ‘Abortion no, water yes’.

“And so when the local women come to regional health clinics, hopefully they will get desalination tablets instead of RU486.”

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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. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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