Ben Johnson

Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in case striking down 20-week abortion ban

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Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 13, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to review a lower court ruling that struck down an Arizona law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

Justices announced this morning they would not hear the state's appeal of Horne v. Isaacson. In that case the lower court declared that the 20-week abortion ban violated a woman's right to abortion until the point of viability, at 24 weeks.

Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2036, “The Mother’s Health and Safety Act,” into law on April 12, 2012. The act restricted abortions performed 20 weeks after the mother's last menstruation or later on the grounds that such abortions are more likely to injure the mother and that an unborn baby at 20 weeks' gestation is able to feel pain. The ACLU promptly filed suit.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg upheld the law in July 2012, ruling that the notion that children can feel pain by 20 weeks was “uncontradicted.”

But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the law that August. The following May, a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that the legislation violated Supreme Court rulings that confer a “right” to abortion before the point of viability. The landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling defined viability as 28 weeks, but the court later revised this date to 24 weeks in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The state argued that since the bill allowed abortions if a pregnancy posed the “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” it was not a full ban but a regulation, permitted by Supreme Court rulings. Appeals judges rejected that notion.

Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, wrote, “Were the statute limited to protecting fetuses from unnecessary infliction of excruciating pain before their death, Arizona might regulate abortions at or after 20 weeks by requiring anesthetization of the fetuses about to be killed, much as it requires anesthetization of prisoners prior to killing them when the death penalty is carried out.”

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The Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, is considered the nation's most liberal appeals court and is among the most likely to have its rulings reversed. One of the judges on the court, Andrew D. Hurwitz, claimed to play a role in paving the way for the original Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin filed an amicus curiae brief, signed by 30 female pro-life legislators and pro-life women's groups, urging the Supreme Court to take up the case.

The justices did not explain their decision not to hear the case, which is normal when rejecting appeals.

Governor Brewer's spokesman Andrew Wilder told the press the high court's decision “is wrong and is a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws.”

National pro-life leaders shared those sentiments. “The Ninth Circuit Court clearly erred. The law should reflect our natural recoil from this type of brutality,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Arizona legislators, led by pro-life State Rep. Kimberly Yee, were acting on the will of the people when they enacted this compassionate, common sense legislation to protect babies at 20 weeks.”

Ten states ban abortions after 20 weeks. Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a national ban on abortion at 20 weeks by a 228-196 vote. Last week the bill's senate sponsor, Lindsey Graham, told LifeSiteNews.com exclusively he hoped pro-life activists would introduce 20-week bans “in every state possible” to build momentum for the national bill.

Polls have consistently found a majority of Americans oppose abortion after 20 weeks, and polls also find women and young people are the most likely to support a 20-week abortion ban.

“Twenty weeks is more than halfway through pregnancy and the point at which babies have all their organs, hear and respond to their mother’s voices, and can even feel pain,” Dannenfelser said today. “A growing number of Americans simply reject the horror of late abortion and believe a reasonable line should be draw.”

The pro-life movement has promised not to give up at the state or national level. "Governor Brewer will continue to fight to protect Arizona women, families and our most vulnerable population: unborn children,” Wilder said.

The Supreme Court's last decision on abortion was seven years ago in 2007's Gonzales v. Carhart, a 5-4 ruling that upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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