Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Twenty cases of assisted suicide not prosecuted in Britain

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, December 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Twenty people in Britain who have admitted to assisting suicides, a criminal offense, will not be prosecuted, the Director of Public Prosecutions told a private committee investigating the “laws and issues” surrounding assisted suicide this week. Since the new policy on prosecuting assisted suicide cases was put in place early this year, “there have been no prosecutions for assisted suicide,” said DPP Keir Starmer.

Starmer called the cases “difficult,” since they involved families in which relatives were accused of assisting in the suicides of loved ones. Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, in theory punishable by up to 14 years in prison. But this February, Starmer issued new guidelines that said persons who had assisted suicides would not be prosecuted if it were believed that they had acted without a motive of personal gain .

Starmer was speaking at a private “independent” inquiry into the “laws and issues” surrounding assisted suicide launched last month by one of the House of Lords’ most enthusiastic promoters of legalised assisted suicide. Charles Lord Falconer was Lord Chancellor under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, and is the leader of a cadre in Parliament who are ardently campaigning to legalise assisted suicide.

According to Starmer, in 2009-10, there were 19 cases where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was asked to make a decision whether to prosecute. In 17 of those cases it was decided there should be no further action. One of those cases is on-going and one was withdrawn by the police. In 2010-11 there have been 14 cases so far. 11 are on-going and with a decision for no further action in 3.

Starmer added, “We did have discussion about whether we should use the word ‘victim’ or not in the policy. We used it because when you’re talking about the
criminal law it works well in describing the parties, but I know that not everybody would agree with that.”

Explaining the genesis of the new policy, Starmer said that it was put in place in advance of a public consultation on the law. The CPS, he said, knew that there would “be a number of individuals who might find themselves in a difficult circumstance during the currency of the consultation and we didn’t want them to have no guidance”. 

“Parliament it seemed to us had signaled that not every act that technically comes within the terms of the offence need necessarily be prosecuted,” he added.

Falconer’s Commission has been heavily criticised for its pro-legalisation bias. The Commission, that is not a work of the House of Lords, was launched late last month after two attempts to legalise assisted suicide through democratic processes failed by large voting margins -  148-100 and 194-141 in the House of Lords in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

Last year, Falconer and his supporters failed to weaken the current law with an amendment to the Coroners and Justice bill that would have made it legal for family members to help relatives go to Switzerland to end their lives at the Dignitas euthanasia “clinic” .

Falconer said that his “independent” Commission would be a “serious and dispassionate investigation” into the need for a change in the law. The Commission intends to publish a report in October 2011 which it hopes will be discussed in Parliament.

Countering the “dispassionate” claim is the revelation that of the 12 members of the Commission, at least eight are on record as favouring legalising assisted suicide. The Commission is being conducted under the supervision of the campaign group ‘Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and is funded by novelist Sir Terry Pratchett, who has himself called for legalisation of assisted suicide for people suffering from dementia.

It has been heavily criticised for bias by disability rights campaigners. Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said, “[W]e are deeply concerned that this pseudo ‘commission’ will not reflect the concerns and fears of many disabled people. When it is funded by supporters of legalising assisted suicide, and without a formal remit from government, we would question how independent this commission really can be.”

Dr. Peter Saunders, campaign director of the Care Not Killing alliance, said, “This so-called independent commission has all the appearances of a stitch-up and serious questions have already been raised about transparency and objectivity.”

George Pitcher, a liberal Anglican minister who has written a book against legalisation of assisted suicide, was asked by Falconer to give evidence to the Commission. In an open letter to Falconer in the Daily Telegraph, Pitcher called the inquiry a “sham,” saying it is nothing more than a naked publicity campaign to legalise euthanasia.

Pitcher said it is “difficult to see” how the Commission could be “interpreted as anything even approaching ‘independent’ or ‘dispassionate’”. He asks Falconer to reveal how many members of the House of Lords refused to give evidence and whether any of the Lords who oppose legalisation of assisted suicide were approached for membership.

To contact the Commission on Assisted Dying:
Louise Bazalgette
Secretary to the Commission and Researcher
[email protected]
+020 7367 6334

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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.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

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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