Angela O’Brien

To the gestational approach and back - a top pro-life leader’s journey

Angela O’Brien
By Angela O'Brien
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Updated Aug. 23, 2012 at 9:45 EST to correct the name of Lord David Alton.

LONDON, July 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the world’s leading pro-life advocates has issued a warning about what is commonly known as the “gestational” approach to pro-life legislation at a time when Canadian pro-lifers are debating ways to tackle Canada’s legal vacuum on abortion.

John Smeaton is the director of the longest-standing pro-life group in the world — the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).  A pro-life activist since 1978, Smeaton is regarded as one of the most influential voices in the pro-life movement.  The Oxford graduate is also a vice-president of International Right to Life Federation, representing pro-life groups in 170 nations around the world.

Late-term abortion bans, also known as “upper limit” or gestational laws, have been supported by many pro-life activists in the hope that such laws will reduce the total number of abortions: but Smeaton has a different story to tell.

In the 1980s, SPUC backed an upper limit bill. Smeaton told LifeSiteNews that he now believes they had been “wrong” to support the law – that backing the late-term abortion ban was not only morally problematic, but ended up damaging the pro-life cause politically.

SPUC had initially opposed the idea of a late-term abortion ban, but a Member of Parliament, Lord David Alton, pushed to introduce a gestational bill during the ‘80s, and after a lot of pressure, SPUC got behind the bill, and it was passed in 1990.

“It was quite wrong, but we did so, and then exactly what we predicted would happen happened,” Smeaton stated. He described how, after the upper limit of 24 weeks was instated, the number of late abortions actually increased, because the majority of politicians had voted to introduce new and broad exceptions to the abortion law.

Smeaton said he is certain that in the current political climate politicians will always vote for exceptions to any abortion limit because of the “overwhelming view” that disabled babies have no right to life.

“It doesn’t work,” he says, about gestational legislation. “It hasn’t worked in Britain: we now have abortion up to birth not only for disabled babies but for other reasons too, and the number of late abortions has increased enormously.”

Smeaton said he has had to “face up” to the fact that he was the deputy chief executive of SPUC at the time. “I played my role in it and argued for it, and I was completely wrong,” he declared. But not just because of what it led to, he says, “but because you cannot vote for intrinsically unjust legislation, and you cannot campaign for it.”

Smeaton argues that “contrary to an opinion widely held by members of the pro-life movement,” legislation that aims to prevent some abortions but authorizes others, is intrinsically unjust because it still endorses the murder of the unborn. 

As a Catholic Smeaton looks to the teachings of his Church for guidance on the issue. He says that Catholic teaching is spelled out in in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (73), where the pope wrote:

In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.98

In the next paragraph of Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II goes on to explain that, in situations where it is impossible to completely overturn a permissive abortion law, “a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions” can be supported. An elected official, whose opposition to abortion is well known, can licitly support a proposal that aims to “lessen the negative consequences” of the permissive abortion law. “This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law,” the pope declared, “but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

But Smeaton argues that this does not apply to bills which explicitly allow abortion in certain circumstances, which gestational bills do, since the pope had already condemned such legislation. “Because Pope John Paul II used the word ‘never’ in the first paragraph it is irrational to suggest that the second paragraph contradicts the first,” he says.

“Such qualification in the second paragraph would amount to a preposterous contradiction,” Smeaton stated. “Whatever the legislation, limiting the harm of an existing pro-abortion law, that Pope John Paul II may have in mind in the second paragraph, it is grotesque to suggest that such legislation would include laws…which themselves legitimize or tolerate abortion.”

An example of such a law, that could licitly restrict the number of abortions, was suggested by Geoffrey Cauchi, President of Alliance for Life Ontario. Under his proposal, 24 hours before procuring an abortion, a woman must be informed of all the procedure’s risks to her, its effect upon the unborn child, and the physiological characteristics of the child at the time of the abortion. Cauchi says such a law would probably significantly limit the number of abortions, but unlike a late-term abortion ban, it would not endorse abortion at any point.

“Well-meaning pro-lifers argue that a law permitting abortion up to, for example, 16 weeks, is ‘better’ than a law permitting abortion up to 20 weeks,” Smeaton says, “and that voting for such a law would save lives.”

Nevertheless, he declared, “campaigning for, or voting for such legislation, on the basis of the argument that one is seeking to limit the harm of an existing worse pro-abortion law, or to replace a situation where there is no existing law on abortion, represents a preposterous misinterpretation of Evangelium Vitae 73.”

“Also, voting for ‘better’ intrinsically unjust legislation in order to save lives runs completely contrary to the moral principle: One may not do evil so that good may come of it.”

Smeaton concluded, “For those who find it hard to resist the temptation to support restrictive, intrinsically evil, legislation, I can tell you that from our experience in Britain and Ireland, that SPUC and the pro-life movement have made far more progress since the Society has sought to adopt an ethically correct approach to legislation.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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