Bradley Miller

Same-sex ‘marriage’ ten years on: lessons from Canada

Bradley Miller
By Bradley Miller

November 14, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse) - Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture?

There has been no shortage of speculation on these questions. But the limited American experience with same-sex marriage to date gives us few concrete answers. So it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.

Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.

The Impact on Human Rights

The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.

A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.

The Right to Freedom of Expression

The new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.

Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’s affair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”

But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.

Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.

Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.

Parental Rights in Public Education

Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.

Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.

The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely. Courts have been unsympathetic to parental objections: if parents are clinging to outdated bigotries, then children must bear the burden of “cognitive dissonance”—they must absorb conflicting things from home and school while school tries to win out.

The reforms, of course, were not sold to the public as a matter of enforcing the new orthodoxy. Instead, the stated rationale was to prevent bullying; that is, to promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian youth and the children of same-sex households.

It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.

Religious Institutions’ Right to Autonomy

At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.

It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.

Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.

Changes to the Public Conception of Marriage

It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them? I will not here evaluate this claim, but simply report how this scenario has played out in Canada.

One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.

The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

The Impact on the Practice of Marriage

As for the practice of marriage, it is too soon to say much. The 2011 census data establish that, first, marriage is in decline in Canada, as it is in much of the West; second, same-sex marriage is a statistically minor phenomenon; and third, there are very few same-sex couples (married or not) with children in the home.

There are approximately 21,000 married same-sex couples in Canada, out of 6.29 million married couples. Same-sex couples (married and unmarried) constitute 0.8% of all couples in Canada; 9.4% of the 64,575 same-sex couples (including common-law and married) have children in the home, and 80% of these are lesbian couples. By contrast, 47.2% of heterosexual couples have children in the home. Canada stopped tracking divorce after 2008, and has never provided data on same-sex divorce.

What we can gather from these data is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.

Without empirical data on divorce rates (which are not forthcoming in Canada), we are left with conceptual arguments that must be evaluated on their merits. Here, the Canadian experience cannot provide much information. We are left with the question, does the institutionalization of same-sex marriage rest on a conception of marriage that places a premium on stability, as does the conjugal conception? If it does not, then we can reasonably believe same-sex marriage will speed up cultural acceptance of a conception of marriage—the adult companionate model—that has done much social damage over the past fifty years.

Bradley W. Miller is an associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario and a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. This article reprinted with permission from thePublicDiscourse.com.

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Professor fails student because she won’t denounce Christian faith and morality

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

Polk County, FL, May 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A sixteen-year-old, dual-enrolled student, “G.L.,” is the subject of religious intolerance by humanities professor Lance "L.J." Russum at Polk State College in Lakeland, Florida. Liberty Counsel has asked the dean to investigate the professor and his curriculum.

G.L. and her parents reached out to Liberty Counsel when Russum gave her four (4) straight zeros because she refused to conform to his personal worldviews of Marxism, Atheism, Feminism, and homosexuality. Professor Russum expressed blatant and pervasive anti-Christian bias throughout the class, such as the following essay question: “Why did Christianity, and its male gods, seek to silence these women [the nuns]?”

In other essays where G.L. refused to concede that Christianity was false, violent, or oppressive to women; that Martin Luther’s motivations for the Reformation were wholly secular; and that Michaelangelo’s sculptures and paintings communicated that “same-sex relationship is NOT A SIN,” Mr. Russum gave her a total of four straight zeros.

Russum’s classroom behavior is a reflection of his personal biases. Mr. Russum's Facebook profile pictures include Fidel Castro and Jesus Christ making an obscene gesture. The website “Rate my Professor” shows that G.L. is not the first student to be subjected to the professor’s viewpoint discrimination. His college email signature line includes a quote from a Marxist who praises Lenin, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and Adolf Hitler. These, along with the inappropriate course content, show that Professor Russum is seeking to impose his own values on students, in violation of the Constitution.

Liberty Counsel has demanded (1) a full and independent review of Mr. Russum’s behavior and course content; (2) appropriate grading of G.L’s four “zero” assignments by a different professor; (3) a written apology; and (4) assurances that future courses taught by Mr. Russum, if any, will be free from such unlawful discrimination.

“Mr. Russum should not be permitted to use his position to punish students who do not conform to his anti-Christian views,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “G.L.’s parents asked Polk State College to review this matter, but it refused, so Liberty Counsel is stepping in to help. According to its website, the college’s core values are service, integrity, knowledge, diversity, and leadership. No student should be subjected to such outrageous bias and outright hostility to their values by a professor. Being a professor is not open season to belittle and punish students merely because they do not subscribe to the professor's radical opinions.” 

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Carl H. Esbeck

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How forcing gay ‘marriage’ on America would provoke hostility to religion and limit free speech

Carl H. Esbeck
By

May 6, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- Among the many friends-of-the-court briefs in support of the states in the current same-sex marriage litigation, three especially noteworthy briefs have been filed by religious organizations, public speakers, and scholars concerned about religious liberty and free speech. The ecumenical breadth and numerical strength they represent is impressive. One expresses the combined views of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons” or LDS), the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, the Christian Legal Society, and several denominations affiliated with Evangelical Protestantism. A second brief was filed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Together, these groups represent the religious affiliations of more than 130 million Americans—approximately 40 percent of the country.

The Protestant/LDS brief (which I worked on) and the Catholic bishops’ brief raise similar themes. The signers of both briefs reject the notion that support for man-woman marriage is founded on animus and that the marriage laws can be struck down on that basis. They also warn that elevating sexual orientation to a protected class or same-sex marriage to a fundamental right would impede religious liberty.

third brief, filed by religious organizations, public speakers, and scholars concerned about free speech, explains the ways in which those who do not agree with same-sex marriage have been actively silenced or chilled in speaking their views. Given the importance of the freedom of speech to political and religious minorities, this is especially disturbing.

Religious Support for Man-Woman Marriage Is Not Based on Animus

Support for marriage is not founded on bigotry, hatred, or irrational prejudice.

The Protestant/LDS brief explains that their support for man-woman marriage is based on affirming the importance of traditional marriage (as opposed to vilifying homosexuals), combined with centuries of practical experience counseling with and ministering to intact and broken families, single mothers, and functionally fatherless children. Man-woman marriage is central to the history of the church, personal identity, and lived faith of millions of religious Americans.

Similarly, the Catholic bishops’ brief declares that their support for the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is based upon love, justice, and concern for the common good. No other institution joins together persons with the natural ability to have children and unite any children of the union with their own mother and father.

Ultimately, the briefs argue that convictions supporting traditional marriage express truths that religious believers and faith communities have held for centuries about the positive value of man-woman marriage. These beliefs predate any conception of homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority, much less same-sex marriage. The notion that traditional marriage laws exist for the purpose of harming gays and lesbians is empirically false.

Further, state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman are not invalid simply because they overlap with, or are informed by, religious or moral viewpoints. Many of the most significant social and political movements in our nation’s history were motivated by religious and moral considerations. Indeed, advocacy to redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex is itself motivated by arguments that, however flawed in our view, have religious and moral roots.

Traditional Marriage Laws Cannot Be Struck Down on the Basis of Animus

Marriage laws cannot be held invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment, and particularly not on the basis of animus.

As the Protestant/LDS brief explains, the animus doctrine is extremely limited in scope. It is applicable only when the sole purpose of a statute is to harm a group, as evinced by an unprecedented departure from ordinary governing standards. Marriage amendments and statutes—which merely codify the definition of marriage that until a decade ago existed continuously and ubiquitously since before the Founding, and which advance many governmental interests unrelated to anti-gay animus—do not qualify as such a departure under Supreme Court precedent.

The definition of marriage distinguishes and specially supports certain forms of conduct that further society’s interests. Both briefs affirm, based on long experience, that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that state law properly encourages and promotes. Given the unique capacity for reproduction of the male-female couple and the unique value of homes with a mother and a father, it is reasonable and just for a state to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate sexual relationships.

The Catholic bishops’ brief points out that more than a quarter of the nation’s children currently live with only one birth parent. Government support for a marital bond between the biological mother and father of a child reduces, or prevents further increases in, the incidence of single parenthood and the consequent burdens it places on the custodial parent (usually the mother) and government welfare programs.

While the law may not draw classifications based on mere thoughts, beliefs, or inclinations, it can and routinely does distinguish between types of conduct and aids those it finds most in need of protection and support. Confining marriage to man-woman unions does not imply hatred toward the many other intimate arrangements that the law permits but does not endorse. The right to be left alone does not entail a right to public affirmation and support for one’s intimate relationships.

Recognizing a Right to Same-Sex Marriage Would Impede Religious Liberty

A Supreme Court ruling declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would have a disastrous impact on religious liberty.

As the Protestant/LDS brief explains, a decision declaring state marriage laws void for animus would disparage those religious organizations and persons who believe deeply in marriage. Such a decision would stigmatize them as bigots akin to racists. That stigma would impede their full participation in democratic life, as their beliefs concerning marriage, family, and sexuality are placed beyond the constitutional pale. Because religious people cannot renounce their scriptural beliefs, a finding of animus would consign believers to second-class status as citizens whose doctrines about vital aspects of society are deemed presumptively illegitimate. The misattribution of animus would deprive believers and faith communities of their rights to the free exercise of religion, free speech, and democratic participation. Assaults on religious liberty, already under pressure, would intensify.

Likewise, a ruling that sexual orientation is a suspect class entitled to heightened scrutiny would harm religious liberty. Judicial suspicion would quickly follow, directed at laws but also at the religious beliefs and practices of religious organizations and believers themselves. If the Court were to declare sexual orientation a suspect class, claims soon would arise urging that the government has a compelling interest in barring sexual orientation discrimination so as to justify the suppression of religious practices in the private sector concerning employment and charitable services. Because scriptural beliefs regarding marriage, family, and sexuality are central to religious institutions and the religious way of life, recognizing sexual orientation as a suspect class would generate countless new conflicts.

Indeed, a constitutional right to same-sex marriage under any theory would generate tensions with religious freedom and related interests across a wide array of religious, educational, charitable, and cultural fronts. As the Catholic bishops’ brief warns, because marriage so pervades civil and social life, redefining marriage as a matter of constitutional law would soon create extensive church-state conflicts. Where states have redefined marriage, conflicts between new claims of equal treatment with claims of religious liberty have already arisen. A Supreme Court ruling imposing same-sex marriage on the country would needlessly embroil the judiciary in conflicts between church and state for generations to come.

Directly or not, a Court ruling creating a right to same-sex marriage would convey what Justice Kennedy has decried as “hostility toward religion . . . inconsistent with our history and our precedents.”

Constitutionalizing Same-Sex Marriage Would Weaken Free Speech

Religious freedom aside, the ability to speak freely is fundamental to both personal dignity and the strength of a self-governing republic. As Justice Kennedy has observed:

At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for him or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence. Our political system and cultural life rest upon this ideal.

Often, speech, religion, and political issues are intertwined. Where would the nation be if the abolitionists, deeply convicted by their faith, had been silenced in their quest to change hearts and minds over slavery? Where would we be if the Reverend Martin Luther King, and others like him, had not been able to speak freely from Black Church heritage on human dignity and liberty?

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It is commonplace for there to be a moral dimension to issues in the public square. To countenance politically correct moral views but to dismiss less popular moral views as being driven by animus simply because they stem from religious principles is a double standard. Free speech protections are all the more crucial for those willing to dissent from the views most dominant in our culture.

This concern is not just abstract worry. It stems from real-life events:

  • 19-year Marine Corps and Navy veteran chaplain was removed from the promotion list and detached for cause (essentially terminated) for privately expressing support for traditional marriage.
  • An Atlanta Fire Chief authored a book in which he briefly stated his religious view that marriage should only be between one man and woman, for which he was suspended and then terminated despite no evidence of discrimination by him while at work.
  • District Health Director for the State of Georgia was fired after state officials reviewed his sermons as a lay pastor that marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman.
  • A Missouri university student who refused on religious grounds to complete a class assignment requiring her to write a letter to her state legislator lobbying for same-sex adoption rights was charged by the university with misconduct, questioned by the Departmental Ethics Committee at length, and informed that her degree may be withheld.

And there are more such stories. Thus, it is not surprising that fifty-eight supporters of same-sex marriage as a matter of policy released a public statement expressing their concern for the free speech rights of those opposed to same-sex marriage. A ruling that same-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution will exponentially magnify the current pressure by federal agencies through policies, manuals, and training materials that will impose speech codes on employees, silencing or chilling those who are out of step.

The Constitution marks a wiser course—that is, leaving the people free to decide the great marriage debate through their state democratic institutions. Allowing all citizens an equal voice in shaping their common destiny is the only way the diverse views of a highly diverse people can be respected on this matter of political, social, and religious importance. Respect for the principle of equal citizenship and equal participation in the democratic process is the only way that the contemporary controversy over same-sex marriage can be resolved without inflicting harm on millions of religious believers and their institutions.

Carl H. Esbeck is the R.B. Price Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Missouri. Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute

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Andrea Rodil

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Activists exploit 10-year-old pregnant rape victim to legalize abortion in Paraguay

Andrea Rodil
By Andrea Rodil

ASUNCION, Paraguay, May 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- "10 Year Old Paraguayan Girl Pregnant by Rape": A headline like this will undoubtedly shock and paralyze most people. As the mother of a girl of 12 who lives in Paraguay I cannot even begin to imagine what I would feel in my heart if something like this happened to my daughter.

A few days ago, the media in Paraguay reported headlines just like this.  A 10 year old girl had been taken to the emergency room of a hospital in Asuncion complaining of abdominal pain and an unexplained increase in the size of her belly.  After several tests, the doctors came to a conclusion: the girl was pregnant.

In 2014, the girl's mother had reported the man she lived with to the police, accusing him of 'groping' her daughter who was then only nine years old. Police began investigating the case, but soon the mother withdrew the accusation, assuring the police that it was all a misunderstanding. The mother continued to live with the man, and now a year later, her little daughter is 23 weeks pregnant. It is now believed that the girl was subjected to constant abuse and that her mother knew, or at least suspected what was happening.

In this terrible case there are two victims and many culprits.  Obviously, the victims are the young girl and her baby.  I have mixed feelings about the mother of the little girl.  As a woman, I would not put all the blame upon the girl's mother, for I am convinced that the violence experienced by the girl was probably also suffered and feared by the girl's mother.  However, as a mother myself, I also know that I would fight tooth and nail against anyone who tried to hurt one of my children. I would in fact gladly give my life to defend them.

One cannot forgive the actions -- or in this case -- the inaction of the mother who failed to protect her daughter - and the mother is currently imprisoned for her complicity in the abuse.  The police stated that for more than a year the girl's mother knew her daughter was abused by her partner and she let it continue. 

Meanwhile, the principal perpetrator, the man who raped and impregnated the 10-year-old girl, is on the run, having absconded the moment the case became public.

Faced with such tragedies, our society is nevertheless left to deal with a situation that is more common than one can imagine.  According to the Paraguayan Ministry of Health, in 2014 there were 684 cases of pregnancies of girls between 10 and 14 years. This data reveals the magnitude of the problem.

Now, what is to be done with the pregnant young girl?

Amnesty International is using this case to call for the legalization of abortion and it has mounted an intense lobbying campaign with the Paraguayan government to pressure them into aborting the 27 week old child.  They are calling for "the legal interruption of pregnancy" in order to protect the health of the little girl.

The abortion advocates' campaign repeats the mantra that the state must act "as soon as possible to protect all human rights of girls, starting with the right to life, health and physical and psychological integrity, in the short, medium and long term.” They say that they defend the "right to choose".

I wonder if Amnesty International activists are really concerned with the little girl? For it seems that they what they are really doing is using her, using her tragic circumstance to advance their own agenda. 

Do they not realize what they propose as a solution is simply to commit a further injustice? Do they not perceive that two wrongs don't make a right? Do they not realize that the one they are punishing with death is the weakest and most innocent of the parties involved?

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Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Paraguay is clear in stating that the state must protect life from the moment of conception. In this case, both the 10-year-old girl who has been abused, and the baby she carries in her womb, have the right to demand that the State act to protect their lives.  Both should have access to all the necessary medical efforts needed to attend to them; both are victims and deserve all the support of society and the state. 

The value of a life is not defined by age, stage of development, or the circumstances under which one was conceived.  All life is valuable in itself. The authorities have a moral obligation and a constitutional duty to protect them and give them the care necessary to save both.

Although Amnesty international states that abortion is necessary in order to save the life and health of the little girl, at this moment, thankfully, her life is not in danger. The doctor who is monitoring the little girl, Dolores Castellanos, has confirmed that the pregnancy is developing without affecting the health of the infant or the little girl.  However, media propaganda unleashed around the case insists that the young girl will die if she is allowed to reach full term.

To their great credit, the government has been cautious and resilient, and Health Minister Antonio Barrios has not succumbed to the international abortion lobby's pressure. He has stated that the government has applied strict measures to protect the child and the baby.

Moreover, many Paraguayan non-profit organizations and other institutions have stepped up and offered to help with comprehensive care such as counseling, material and financial short and long-term support, continual support, but most importantly with support that takes into consideration the life of both children, the young mother and her baby.  Yet others, like Amnesty International, are not offering comprehensive care for the victims, and instead are just taking advantage of the situation to try to establish a precedent for the legalization of abortion in order to eventually enact laws that violate the right to life.

While comprehensive and compassionate care for the young girl and her baby are laudable, it is only putting out one fire which unfortunately will break out again. More must be done to address the roots of the tragedy that this girl and so many other children like her have to suffer.

Instead of abortion, it is time for the government to enact substantive solutions to child abuse. It should legislate to promote comprehensive educational programs to prevent child abuse in the first place; it should promote a culture of appreciation and care for children, not create an even more calloused society that tolerates the murder of children as a solution.  We have to protect all of our children, born and preborn, for they are the future face of society.

But above all, we must realize that the best answer we have to child abuse has always been right in front of our eyes.  It is such an obvious solution that it seems unbelievable that so many 'experts' would not see it: we must strengthen the family headed by a father and a mother.  The family is the most basic non-profit organization, and the one with the greatest public purposes.  It is focused on the health of the individual and is the only true foundation of society.

The little girl who is pregnant today comes from a family that is the picture of dysfunction. The mother, who had a low-income job, had three children by three different fathers: a 13 year old, the little girl of 10 who is pregnant, and an 8-year-old boy.  Let's tackle the underlying roots of the problem.

There is no better investment for the government than public policies that strengthen, protect, and promote marriage and the family as irreplaceable social capital, especially when there are young children involved.  Society at large must embrace a culture that recognizes and values the family and all its members as a treasure to be cared for and preserved.

What this little girl and others like her have experienced is impossible to erase. They were robbed of their childhood innocence.  The abuse to which she was subjected will leave an indelible imprint in her memory and on her soul.  It requires our support and care.  But thinking that killing the baby in her womb is somehow going to help her is a grave mistake.  It will not ease, but on the contrary, will increase the harmful aftermath of the experience.  Violence cannot be erased with more violence.

As my grandmother told me: "As much as it may anger me when a nice plate is chipped, I will never think that the solution is to smash the rest of the china."

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