Sarah Terzo

Ultrasound images save lives, change hearts: here’s the proof

Sarah Terzo
By Sarah Terzo
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February 7, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - Ultrasounds before abortions are routine in some abortion clinics. In others, they are performed only under certain circumstances.

Former Planned Parenthood worker Catherine Anthony Adair said the following in an interview:

At the time I worked for Planned Parenthood ultrasounds were only done if the woman was unsure of the dates of her last menstrual period, or if the doctor ordered one.

Women were not given the option of viewing the ultrasound.

In reality, ultrasounds before abortions are good medical practice. Besides verifying the length of the pregnancy, which determines what technique of abortion and what instruments are used, an ultrasound is one way to verify that a woman does not have a tubal or ectopic pregnancy. A woman may test positive for pregnancy, but really have a situation where the unborn baby is developing in the fallopian tubes and not in the womb. If this is not discovered, the tube can rupture, which is a major medical complication that can end in death. There have been a number of instances over the past several decades of women who have gone to abortion clinics, left thinking they were no longer pregnant, and then later died from a burst ectopic pregnancy. Some victims of this type of tragedy include Gladyss Delanoche Estanislao, 28; Sherry Emry and Yvette Poteat, both 26, and Angela Satterfield, 23. These women all died when abortion providers failed to diagnose their ectopic pregnancies.

In most cases, when ultrasounds are performed, women are not shown the images unless they specifically ask to see them, and sometimes not even then. Numerous former abortion providers have attested to this, including Dr. Joseph Randall, who was quoted saying:

They [the women] are never allowed to look at the ultrasound because we knew that if they so much as heard the heart beat, they wouldn’t want to have an abortion. (1)

The fact that Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups oppose any legislation that would allow a woman the option of seeing the ultrasound screen further attests to this pattern. Even in cases where the law states that the woman does not need to look at the ultrasound but must merely be given the option, Planned Parenthood has been contentious.

One pro-choice author, commenting on a proposed law in Louisiana which required a woman to see an ultrasound image of her baby before aborting it, called the ultrasound a “torture weapon” (2).

Referring to a bill supported by Rick Perry that would allow women who choose a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before going through with an abortion, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said the following:

Why is Rick Perry so cruel to women? … Rick Perry is running for president, and if he wins, you can bet he’ll force this dangerous agenda on every woman in every state. If we don’t stand up to him now, women may suffer the consequences for years to come. (3)

In Planned Parenthood’s world, allowing a woman to see an image of her baby on the ultrasound screen is a “dangerous agenda.” Many women who have abortions do not know the truth about fetal development. To quote Catherine Anthony Adair again:

We never discussed fetal development. The baby was referred to as the ”contents of the uterus” or a “clump of cells.” on the rare occasion a woman asked about the size of the baby, I would tell her it was about the size of the tip of my pencil, regardless of how many weeks into her pregnancy she was.

Jewels Green, another former clinic worker, said:

When explaining the abortion, the word ‘baby’ was never used, rather ‘contents of the uterus’, ‘the pregnancy’, or “products of conception” were the preferred terms to refer to the fetus.

The language of abortion counselors is often crafted carefully to avoid any reference to the baby. Even the term “fetus” is not always used. A 2012 NPR radio program interviewed abortion workers at a facility in England. In the interviews, the clinic workers never mention the word “abortion.” Rather, abortions were referred to as “treatments” – e.g., “the treatment room,” “treatment counseling,” etc.

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Ultrasounds cut through all this evasive rhetoric. They show the reality of the unborn baby. As for abortion providers’ statements that ultrasounds are “cruel” and “torture weapons,” anyone who has listened to women who regret their abortions has heard, over and over again, “I wish I’d had more information.” “If I’d known what abortion would really do to my baby, I wouldn’t have had one.”

Sometimes a woman who has had a past abortion gets pregnant again and is confronted with a picture of her new baby on an ultrasound screen. Then the lies are exposed, and she has to bear the full brunt of the knowledge of what she has consented to. Abortion providers may be able to avoid the truth when counseling women, but they will not be there to shield the woman from the truth for the rest of her life. Eventually, many of the women who are lied to in abortion clinics will learn the facts about fetal development, and the abortion providers will not be there to help them when this happens. Many times, the experience leads to depression and self-loathing.

So why do abortion providers avoid showing ultrasound images to women? Perhaps this is because up to 78% of women to see an ultrasound of their babies choose not to have abortions (4).

When abortion-minded women see ultrasounds of their babies at crisis pregnancy centers, amazing things happen. Here’s a story from one crisis pregnancy center worker in New Jersey. A woman (we’ll call her Gina) had been in the waiting room of the crisis pregnancy center while several of her friends encouraged her to keep the baby. When she came in for the appointment, however, she said:

No one can change my mind about getting an abortion! Not my friends in the waiting room and not that girl who just came in, and definitely not you.

The worker relates:

“I let Gina know that was not my intention to force her not to abort but rather to present her with her options so she could make the best, most well-informed decision.”

Gina and I met for about an hour and it was such a pleasant time. I got to know her and her family dynamics, life objectives, and relationship with the father of her baby. I reviewed information on abortion with her and invited her to listen as I discussed the options of parenting and adoption so that she could truly make the best decision for herself. She welcomed the opportunity and afterwards thanked me for helping her to think about the pregnancy from other perspectives. But even after our time together, Gina was firm in decision to abort.

Then Gina had an ultrasound, and it was life changing!

Immediately after looking at the monitor, Gina looked at our nurse and me and said, “Yo, that’s it! That’s my baby!” (This was the first time she identified “it” as a baby.) “I can do this!” It was such a turn of events…” (5)

Gina carried the pregnancy to term and kept her child.

The Woman’s Choice Network is a pro-life organization that helps women who are facing unplanned pregnancies and encourages them to choose life.

In 2011, the network assisted more than 1,500 women. Of the 172 who saw their sonogram when considering abortion, 123 continued the pregnancy.

“The sonogram is just the first step. It’s day one of a two-year journey. Most of the work we will do comes after the sonogram,” Ms. Scheuring said, citing baby supplies, mentoring, assistance finding child care and other help.”

“We really leave it up to them, and we do have an occasional woman who doesn’t want to look,” she said. “But almost every woman, most every boyfriend and almost every weepy grandma in the room looks at that screen. They want to see. And the most common response we hear is ‘We had no idea.’” (6)

It should be noted that this pro-life facility, like most pro-life facilities, offers women ongoing help after they decide to continue their pregnancies. This is in contrast to abortion clinics, which take the woman’s money, do the abortion, and send her home.

In another article, a married woman who became pregnant at age 39 after she had already had all the children she wanted weighed abortion and decided she would probably keep the baby. But:

Unfortunately, she says, her maternal instincts did not respond to reason: when a young friend placed her baby in her arms, she found herself looking with distaste into “a little scrunched face inspiring no tenderness, only intense tedium at the thought of tending him. What was I going to do with the baby I couldn’t return to his mother?” ….she was not sure – despite her reservations – what it would cost her emotionally to have an abortion if something were wrong. When told she had as much chance of having a miscarriage from the amniocentesis as she did, at her age, of having a Down syndrome child, she hoped for the miscarriage: “That is until, lying on the table where the procedure was to take place, I saw the ultrasound scan on a television monitor above me reveal the perfectly shaped head of the child I carried. I wanted that baby!” (7)

Pro-life author Randy Alcorn recounts the following story, told to him by pregnancy center workers, in his book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments:

Barb came to Cobb Pregnancy Services Tuesday wanting a verification of pregnancy so she could get an abortion. She was 16 weeks pregnant. Janet, her counselor, put in a video [The Eclipse of Reason] that showed the abortion procedure for a baby of this age. When Janet returned to the room, Barb was looking down and said “I can’t have no baby.”

Janet shared her regret concerning an abortion she’s lived with for more than 25 years. She then got permission to call me to do an ultrasound and show Barb her baby. The little girl was most cooperative to show even her mom’s untrained eye that she was alive, very active and doing well insider. She opened and closed her mouth, had hiccups, laid-back as if in a beach chair, stretching her little legs. She even held up hands so Barb could count her fingers

Barb was visibly touched. When the scan was over, I asked Barb what her plans were. She replied “I am going to have my baby.” I asked if the scan had made a difference, she said, “Big time. I just came in here to get a pregnancy verification so I could go have an abortion.” (8)

A woman who was considering abortion after a pregnancy resulting from rape agreed to a free ultrasound at a pregnancy center:

She was blinking. She was just hanging out, looking around, sucking on her thumb. … It was so realistic, so lifelike. It looks like you can just reach right in there and pick up the baby.

I know they have a heartbeat at 4 to 6 weeks, but it still doesn’t feel as real to you until you see a human. It amazed me.

She kept her baby.

“I never thought I could love or bond with a child [who] was conceived under such horrible circumstances, but that’s where we don’t give God enough credit,” Oliver said. “I look at her, and I don’t even see him. She’s beautiful and perfect.” (9)

Another crisis pregnancy center worker recalls a woman who came running into the pro-life center sobbing after a Planned Parenthood worker accidentally allowed her to see the ultrasound screen before her abortion. Immediately upon seeing her baby on the screen, the woman knew she could not go through with the abortion and sought refuge in the pro-life clinic (10).

On November 2, 2012 the organization 40 Days for Life, which arranges prayer campaigns and protests outside abortion clinics, told the following story:

A woman had made the long drive from another county for an abortion appointment. She was one of the first to arrive that day, walking past the vigil participants and into the building.

As she was leaving, the volunteers noted that she might have been inside long enough for the abortion. They also noted that she was crying, so one of them asked her, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“I couldn’t do it,” the woman said. “They were doing an ultrasound, so I asked if I could see it. At first they refused, telling me ‘you don’t really want to see it.’ But I insisted ‘yeah, I do want to see it, because if I can see it … maybe I won’t do it.’”

She was right. Once she saw her nine week baby on the ultrasound screen, she knew that she couldn’t go through with the abortion. (11)

Ultrasounds are a liability to abortion clinics in another way as well. Clinic staff can be disturbed by the picture of the baby on the ultrasound screen. By now, many people in the pro-life movement have heard the story of Abby Johnson, the Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after watching the abortion of a 13-week-old unborn baby on the ultrasound. A lesser-known story is that of Joan Appleton, who had a similar experience. When talking during a conference in Chicago, Illinois sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League about the reason she left her abortion clinic, she said:

And I too had seen an ultrasound abortion. It was, we did first trimester, this was late first trimester, probably early second trimester, really we could look to 13.7 weeks. Give or take. I can’t remember offhand what the specific problem was, but we wanted to do the abortion by ultrasound, to make sure that we did indeed get the entire, all the baby. The terminology was that we wanted to make sure we had the entire pregnancy. I handled the ultrasound while the doctor performed the procedure, and I directed him while I was watching the screen. I saw the baby pull away. I saw the baby open his mouth. I had seen Silent Scream a number of times, but it didn’t affect me – to me it was just more pro-life propaganda. But I couldn’t deny what I saw on the screen. After that procedure, I was shaking, literally, but managed to pull it together, and continue on with the day.

Unlike Abby Johnson, Appleton did not leave her job immediately – but this incident was pivotal in convincing her that abortion was wrong.

Dr. Stuart Campbell performed abortions for years, but the new, vivid, 3-D ultrasound images changed his mind:

Even a fetus lying there dead doesn’t convey the horror that one experiences seeing a baby moving its arms and legs, opening its mouth, sucking its thumb, and then thinking, gosh, somebody wants to, you know… It looks so vital. It has changed my view. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. (12)

Dr. Campbell no longer performs abortions.

Dr. Randall, quoted before, testified to the following:

I think the greatest thing that got to us was the ultrasound. At that time, the ultrasound, or soundwave picture which was moving, called a “real-time ultrasound,” showed the baby on TV. The baby really came alive on TV and was moving. And that picture, that picture of the baby on ultrasound bothered me more than anything else[.] … We lost two nurses. They couldn’t take looking[.]

He said this at the “Meet the Abortion Providers” conference sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League.

The phenomenon of abortion clinic workers leaving after seeing ultrasounds has been so prevalent over the past several decades that major medical publications have addressed the problem.

According to an article in ObGyn News:

[Abortion clinic] Staff members also may be affected by sonographic images and may need opportunities for venting their feelings and reconfirming their priorities[.] (13)

Alison Herwitt, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s director of government relations, told a reporter the following while discussing a bill that would allow government grants to crisis pregnancy centers to purchase ultrasound machines:

They don’t want them to go to Planned Parenthood, where they’ll get their full range of options. They just want them to go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women will be exposed to this weapon at taxpayers’ expense. (14)

Perhaps inadvertently, Herwitt has spoken the truth. Ultrasounds are a powerful weapon against the lies and deceit of the abortion industry.

1. “Pro-Choice 1990: Skeletons in the Closet” New Dimensions October 1990
2. Janet Hadley “Abortion: between Freedom and Necessity” (Great Britain: Virago Press, 1996) 150
3. Maggie Haberman “ Richards: Perry ‘so cruel’ to women” Politico, Sept 1, 2011
4. Adam Cohen“The Next Abortion Battleground: Fetal Heartbeats” Time Ideas October 17, 2011
5. Melissa Fischer “Gina’s Decision” Heartbeat Newsletter (First Choice Women’s Resource Centers, New Jersey) Summer 2012, p2
6. Ann Rodgers “Women’s center in Pittsburgh’s North Side welcomes ultrasound machine” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 18, 2012
7. Faith Abbott “a Tale of Two Women” Human Life Review, Spring 1993 in Tamara L Roleff. Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints (San Diego, Greenhaven Press, 1997) 111 to 112
8. Audrey Stout, Marietta Georgia, e-mail to Randy Alcorn February 12, 2000 Randy Alcorn “Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments” (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2000) 199
9. Karla Dial “Bringing Good Things to Life”Citizen June 2003
10. Roderick P Murphy. Stopping Abortions at Death’s Door (Southbridge, Massachusetts: Taig Publishing 2009) P194
11. 40 Days For Life Blog http://40daysforlife.com/blog/?p=3755
12. Stuart Campbell “The Hidden Wonders of New Life” The Tablet October 7 2004
13. ObGyn News, Quoted in Rachel M MacNair, PhD. Achieving Peace in the Abortion War (New York: iUniverse, 2009) page 59
14. Karla Dial “Bringing Good Things to Life

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org. Sarah Terzo is a pro-life author and creator of the clinicquotes.com website. She is a member of Secular Pro-Life and Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.

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Drew Belsky

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ACLU sues Kentucky clerk for refusing marriage licenses to all couples

Drew Belsky
By Drew Belsky

July 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Four Kentucky couples are suing a clerk of the court in their county for refusing to grant them marriage licenses.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan (pronounced "rah-win") County, declared that her faith prevents her from complying with the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, issued in late June, which legally redefined marriage to include same-sex couples.  She is withholding licenses not only to same-sex couples, but to everyone – in fact, two of the couples suing Davis, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), are sexually complementary.

"It is my deep conviction and belief that God ordained marriage between a man and a woman," Davis told Kentucky station WYKT.  "I can't be a part of this."

"My Kentucky Constitution that I took the oath to uphold in January stated that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that is the constitution that I have vowed to uphold."

Laura Landenwich, an attorney with the ACLU, said that "Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion.  But as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who[m] she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs."

The ACLU's complaint avers that "Plaintiff and Plaintiff Class have suffered and continue to suffer irreparable harms, including harms to their dignity and autonomy, family security, and access to the full spectrum of benefits conferred by the state upon others."

Davis, a Democrat, is appealing to Kentucky's Bill of Rights, which states that "no human authority shall, in any case whatsoever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience."  Moreover, she told WSAZ reporter Kaitlynn LeBeau, "My Kentucky Constitution that I took the oath to uphold in January stated that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that is the constitution that I have vowed to uphold."

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, has ordered all clerks in the Bluegrass State to comply with the Supreme Court's decision.

"Each clerk vowed to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal beliefs," Beshear said in a statement.  "I appreciate the clerks who are fulfilling their duties, issuing licenses to all couples, and I would expect others to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians."

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Davis's decision brought protesters to her office in Morehead last Tuesday.  The crowd comprised both opposition and supporters, bearing signs with messages including "Morehead = Equality," "Leave Religion out of your GOVERNMENT job!," and "We stand with you Kim."

Davis refuses to speak on camera because of an intensifying tide of threatening hate mail.  One man told her by e-mail that she needed to be killed.  She has received gratitude and support as well, including from states outside Kentucky.

"This is a battle," Davis told one reporter by phone, "nationwide, that I think is vital to every person who holds near and dear to their heart the word of God."

Resistance to Obergefell is not limited to one Kentucky county.  All three staffers at the county clerk's office in Decatur County, Tennessee resigned following the decision.  Decatur County commissioner David Boroughs told a local paper that he is "proud of them that their faith is so strong and well-rounded that they feel they can do that."

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Matthew J. Franck

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Obergefell is so awful that it makes Dred Scott look like a piece of lawyerly precision

Matthew J. Franck
By Matthew Franck

July 6, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse) -- When the blow finally fell, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges—holding 5-4 that every state in the Union must license same-sex marriages—seemed somehow less crushing in its impact, less hurtful and wounding, than one might have expected from a decision that is so thoroughly a defeat for the truth about marriage and the truth about the Constitution.

Make no mistake, the harms from the Court’s appallingly illegitimate decision are many, and gravely serious. But the good news for a cockeyed optimist like me is that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion is so incompetent, so gossamer-thin as an exercise in legal or constitutional reasoning, so unpersuasive even in political terms, that it renews my zest for carrying on the battle of persuading my fellow citizens and turning the country around on this issue.

I should have known he would do this for us, as well as to us. For Kennedy began to travel this road nearly twenty years ago in Romer v. Evans (1996), in which a 6-3 Court denied to the people of Colorado the authority to amend their state constitution to prevent their elected state and local legislators from adding “sexual orientation” to the list of “identities” on the grounds of which discrimination by public and private actors alike is forbidden.

Is Anyone "Demeaning" Others' "Dignity"?

Yet at least in Romer, the word “dignity” had not yet appeared in Kennedy’s reasoning. In Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which overturned state laws that criminalized homosexual sodomy, Kennedy turned away from the equal protection clause and to the textually and historically ungrounded jurisprudence of “substantive due process.” This meant, in Kennedy’s hands, the judicial protection of a free-ranging, judicially defined notion of “liberty” invoked to overturn any conduct-regulating statute that trenched on the “dignity” of persons whose wishes and desires tugged at the judges’ heartstrings.

In Romer, at least, Justice Kennedy had labored to produce something that resembled a competent account of the equal protection clause—though his attempt failed. But Lawrence was something else. Lawrence was a moment of real self-liberation for Kennedy. That can be seen in his quotation of what were probably his own words from the joint opinion he co-authored with Justices O’Connor and Souter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” This “mystery passage” was already in 2003, and remains, the most widely lampooned bit of pseudo-reasoning of the last half century, but Kennedy sensed the cultural and political power that it represented, and in Lawrence he set it on course to colonize our constitutional law entirely. His opinion was also liberally salted with references to “dignity” (three times, including another line quoted from Casey), and to the idea that laws resting on negative judgments of homosexual conduct “demean” those who engage in it (four times).

United States v. Windsor, the Defense of Marriage Act case from two years ago, gave us more of Kennedy’s free-floating jurisprudence of “dignity” (ten mentions including “indignity”), condemning laws that “demean” (three mentions). Obergefell rests explicitly on this fragile, groundless rationale, with Kennedy mentioning the connection of marriage to “dignity” nine times, while three times saying that it “demeans” same-sex couples when a state limits marriage to one man and one woman, and twice invoking the matter of “identity.”

But there is something else quite new in Obergefell. Kennedy, somewhat defensively, mentions twice that defenders of conjugal marriage might believe redefining the institution to include same-sex couples “demeans” marriage itself. Since no one opposed to same-sex marriage actually speaks this way, this is a curious characterization, but perhaps an important one. In Kennedy’s mind, the Constitution has been converted into a great Dignity Document. The role of the Supreme Court is to adjudicate whose version of Dignity it embodies, which can be decided by pondering who is made to feel worse by having his strongest convictions “demeaned.” Victory will go to the one who can appeal successfully to strong feelings about his “identity.” As Chief Justice Roberts said in dissent, “The majority’s driving themes are that marriage is desirable and petitioners desire it.”

A Constitutional Crisis

Confronted by such a string of sentiments masquerading as constitutional principles, why then should I feel heartened by the new phase of the struggle into which the Obergefell ruling has just pitched us? The reason is that Kennedy is so terribly bad at his chosen profession of judge that he has now unmasked himself, and his four silent colleagues who joined his opinion for the Court, as imperial rulers with no regard for the Constitution, for the forms of reasoning that give the law its real vitality, or for the rightful authority of the people to govern themselves within the bounds of a Constitution they understand and respect.

Moreover, while noting all the manifold ways in which the marriage debate has been played out over the last two decades—just as he was attempting to shut that debate down—Kennedy evinced no understanding of what the arguments about marriage really are, not even grasping the arguments on the side he favored. In so doing, he showed himself to be, if not one of the least intellectually honest persons ever to come to that debate, then one of the least well-informed. His opinion is an act of the most breathtaking argumentative carelessness in the history of the Supreme Court. Roe v. WadeLochner v. New York, and Dred Scott v. Sandford—all rightly invoked by the dissenters in Obergefell as the true models for Kennedy’s reasoning—are closely reasoned works of lawyerly precision by comparison.

As a legal opinion, Obergefell is an utter failure. What the late John Hart Ely, who was politically in favor of abortion, said of Roe v. Wade, we can say of Obergefell: “It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” But Obergefell is also embarrassingly bad as a contribution to the political and social debate on marriage. From this I take heart that the battle can be rejoined, with the making of better arguments—each side offering its best against the other’s best—in a struggle that will continue for years to come.

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But wait. Isn’t the debate over? Isn’t that what a Supreme Court decision on the Constitution means? Well, frankly, no. The movement for rescuing and restoring marriage in our country will not be made to vanish by so transparently political a holding of five justices of the Supreme Court. The movement for defending the sanctity of life in our law, forty-two years after Roe v. Wade, waxes rather than wanes in strength. As the pro-life movement was joined, so the marriage movement will be joined, by defenders of the authentic Constitution so blithely traduced by the Court’s majority. The Roe decision has often made pro-life converts out of people who actually read it—I know, because I was one of them—and the Obergefell ruling, in time, will do similar work in adding strength to the ranks of marriage’s defenders.

A constitutional ruling so shoddily reasoned, so completely and, one may say, easily dismantled by the four justices who dissent from it, must paper over a cause that cannot ultimately win in an open democratic debate, and that therefore seeks the shelter of powerful friends in the judiciary. This is just what many young people will come to see for themselves simply by reading the decision, just as many have done by reading Roe. The twin discoveries, that a great constitutional wrong has been committed to give cover to a great moral wrong, will come together.

We may take heart, then, from Justice Alito’s observation that “even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.” Indeed they should, for the debate is not over; it has only entered a new phase. That phase will necessarily include some sober deliberations regarding what can be done about a Supreme Court with (at least) five members who believe that they can rewrite the Constitution at will in order to transform fundamental institutions of our society. For Alito’s very next sentence is, “Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of authority have failed.” Indeed, they have, and so it is back to the drawing board. When even the chief justice complains of “the majority’s extravagant conception of judicial supremacy,” it is time to do some hard thinking about meaningful institutional reform of the federal judiciary.

In the Meantime

While we prepare for hard work on many fronts in the battles for marriage and for the Constitution, we should recognize and immediately try to mitigate the great harm the Court has done. Despite Kennedy’s pat denials, marriage has been grievously wounded as an institution, and we must do what we can to bind up its wounds, in our own families, communities, and churches. After all, every future generation is at stake. We must never tire of saying: every child deserves a mother and a father—preferably his or her own biological parents. That, as the dissenting justices recognized, is what marriage has always been about, in every age and culture, and it is why marriage has always been understood as the union of a man and a woman.

And we must do all that we can to institute safeguards for religious freedom in our country, which will now come under attack as never before. It was strangely gratifying to see Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas, in their dissents, give this matter their lengthy and considered attention. Thomas foresees “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty” in this invention of a new “right” of same-sex marriage, and Roberts noted how telling was the way in which Kennedy shrugged off such potentials:

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. . . . The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

The protection of religious freedom may rapidly become our most urgent legislative business, both in Congress and in state legislatures. But win or lose in legislative assemblies, the faithful and their pastoral leaders in the many religious communities devoted to the truth about marriage must prayerfully muster the courage to act, and to live as their faith informs their consciences, as well as to “advocate” and “teach.” As Alito notes, “those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent” on the marriage question will be ready to exploit the Court’s decision. Look at your social media feeds: That is already happening.

In our response to our counterparts in this great constitutional, political, and moral debate that now begins anew, we can start by preaching and practicing a truer, fuller understanding of dignity, in our families and churches, than the one about which Kennedy so vainly prattles. And we can fix our eyes on the prize of restoring, through real democratic debate and persuasion, the great goods of constitutional self-government and justice to individuals and families.

Thank you, Justice Kennedy, for giving us this opportunity. I know you didn’t mean it, but thank you nonetheless.

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute

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Lisa Bourne

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US Episcopal Church faces backlash after approving gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church gave the green light last week for clergy to perform same-sex “weddings,” in a heavily-debated fundamental change set to come in the door incrementally.  

As of November 1 of this year homosexual couples will have the right to be “married” in the church, the result of new liturgies for same-sex couples approved Wednesday at the denomination’s General Convention in Salt Lake City.

The bishops also accepted changing the church’s canons (rules) governing marriage, to make them gender neutral, thus replacing the terms “man and woman” with “couple.”

Episcopal clergy however, will be allowed to refuse to perform a homosexual “marriage” with the promise they would not be penalized, and individual bishops were also given the right to refuse to allow same-sex ceremonies to take place in their diocese.

The compromise is angering Episcopalians on both sides of the issue, with liberal factions potentially trying to block the plan and insist on the immediate introduction of same-sex “marriage” with no way for dioceses to opt out, and conservatives likely to reach out to overseas leaders in the wider Anglican Communion for help in getting the church to stop.

The leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church, released a statement expressing his “deep concern” over the U.S. Episcopal Church’s resolution to change the definition of marriage.

“Its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.”

Blessings for homosexual unions were first approved at the denomination’s 2012 convention, along with acceptance of transgender clergy. The Episcopal Church still maintained at the time that marriage was an exclusive life-long covenant of one man and one woman, as held in the church’s Book of Common Prayer.

While several Episcopal bishops defended the Biblical definition of marriage at this year’s convention, the majority of bishops argued that the provisional and trial rites would expand the traditional teaching about marriage, without changing the church’s underlying text or doctrine of marriage.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, was among those at the convention who said homosexual sexual intimacy was morally acceptable and should be blessed in faithful covenanted relationships, stating, “I think it is time for us to do this.”

Robinson, whose 2003 elevation to bishop was a key factor in the denomination’s later split, said, “Gays and lesbians are living out their lives in holy ways,” and changing the church’s rules on marriage “allows us to recognize this,” to “declare how far we have come.”

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In response to an inquiry for comment on the Episcopal bishops’ resolution accepting homosexual “marriage,” the Anglican Church in North America directed LifeSiteNews to the church’s recent response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual “marriage,” which said in part, “The Anglican Church in North America only authorizes and only performs marriages between one man and one woman.” 

Leaders of the Anglican Global South, a grouping of 24 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, issued a statement criticizing the U.S. Episcopal Church’s resolution as another unilateral decision taken without consideration for the Anglican Communion, ecumenical and interfaith relations and the mission of the church worldwide.

“This Resolution clearly contradicts the Holy Scriptures and God’s plan for creation as He created humankind as man and woman to complement each other physically and emotionally,” the Global South statement said.

“The church is intended by its Lord to be the holy leaven to shape society by its spiritual and moral values in line with God’s design,” it continued. “But sadly, by this action of (The Episcopal Church), the church gives way to the society to alter and shape its values. In other words the church is losing its distinctiveness as salt and light in this world.”

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