Judge Clarifies Webcam Abortion Law; Nothing Changes

RU486Yesterday, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess clarified the 2012 state law that prohibited doctors from dispensing abortion-inducing drugs remotely. Immediately, Planned Parenthood—desperately grasping for positive PR after repeated defeats in the courts—claimed this as a major victory. In reality, however, the decision has no practical effect.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Thursday’s ruling doesn’t change anything.

“The decision is in accord with what the law is and what this office has always said the law is,” Van Hollen said. “No one ever tried to enforce the law differently.

“Planned Parenthood’s case was a frivolous action from the beginning. … Courts of law shouldn’t be stages for political theater funded by taxpayer dollars.”

Read the rest of Wisconsin State Journal’s coverage here.

This decision isn’t a victory for Planned Parenthood. If anything, it is a victory for pro-lifers, since the judge simply clarified that doctors must be physically present when the abortion-causing pill is dispensed—which is the entire purpose of the law in the first place. But after a series of recent clinic closures and legal setbacks, Planned Parenthood has to take what it can get.

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Youth Retreat Awakens Hope in Next Generation of Pro-Life Activists

Teens pray at the Memorial to the Unborn
Teens pray at the Memorial to the Unborn

Laughter filled the air on a beautiful summer day this past June, as dozens of pro-life teens climbed the long hill to the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Coming from as far away as Iowa, they gathered to pray and learn at Pro-Life Wisconsin’s first annual youth retreat, Awakening Hope. 

This unique, one-day retreat combined games, activities, prayer, and powerful presentations by priest Fr. Tim Oudenhoven and Pro-Life Wisconsin staff with the purpose of igniting the next generation of no-compromise pro-life activists.

Following the first talk, which focused on the power of prayer and sacrifice in the fight for life, the group headed to the Culiana Mariana cafe, where they enjoyed a delicious lunch of pizza and lemonade. Following lunch was a period of free time for attendees to explore the Shrine and buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

The second talk was given by Fr. Tim, and it centered on the hidden pro-life message contained in the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A dramatic re-enactment of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, staged by the teens, had the room erupting in laughter.

Between talks, a pro-life prayer service was held at the Shrine’s beautiful Memorial to the Unborn. After praying several pro-life prayers, teens laid flowers at Mary’s feet as a sign of their commitment to build a culture of life. Many continued praying on their knees long after the service ended.

The final talk, also given by Fr. Tim, focused on how the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe can transform our culture of death into a culture of life, just as it did for the Aztecs over 400 years ago. Fr. Tim challenged the teens to boldly and passionately go forth to build a culture of life, praying and making sacrifice to ensure that every human person has the right to live. The day ended on a prayerful note, with a reverent mass in the beautiful Shrine Church.

We can’t wait till next year’s Awakening Hope, and we look look forward to hosting more retreats in other areas of the state! Check out the Facebook post below for an album of photos. If you’d like to host a retreat in your area, contact Emma at escuglik@prolifewisconsin.org.

PS: Check out this excellent story from the La Crosse Catholic Times about the retreat!

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A Bitter Pill: Contraception and Unintended Consequences

On Friday, June 6, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb overturned Wisconsin’s marriage amendment. In doing so, she completely disrespected the will of 1.6 million Wisconsinites who voted to protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. It was a devastating blow.

But how did we get here? How did we as a nation get to the place where we can accept and embrace marriage as between two individuals of the same sex?

It didn’t happen overnight, and while many would scoff at the idea, the confusion about marriage, the family, and human sexuality has much of its roots in the denial of the procreative nature of marriage, enabled by the wholehearted embracing of contraception.

Case in point, key to Justice Crabb’s ruling was the rejection of the conjugal definition of marriage—that is, that marriage must be fundamentally oriented towards procreation. That does not mean that two people past child-bearing age cannot get married. But those entering into a marriage must have the potential to be fruitful.

Instead of fruitfulness, Justice Crabb used “loving and committed” as the definition of what constitutes a legitimate marriage. Using such logic, it would be difficult to see how Justic Crabb could object to polygamy or the child marriages so common in Muslim countries.

Still, while they would reject Justice Crabb’s ruling on marriage, many Christians and political conservatives have been buying into her definition of marriage for decades by embracing contraception—for fundamentally, contraception is an instrument used to prevent a marriage from becoming fruitful. It is a tool used to divorce the two ends of marriage—union of spouses and procreation—until children are no longer in any way part of the picture.

Those who are disturbed by the destruction of marriage must ask themselves the difficult question: What, at the most basic level, is the difference between sterile homosexual sex and sterile (due to contraception) heterosexual sex? Both reject the command to be “fruitful and multiply.” Both are incapable of bringing forth new life. If loving commitment (union) is all that is essential in the act of marriage, and children are in no way essential, then who are we to say who can and cannot enter into such fruitless marriages?

Contraception has fueled the complete redefinition of the sexual act, removing procreation from the picture and thereby enabling the redefinition of marriage.

If we are ever to return to the true definition of marriage—God’s definition—we must take a hard look at how we think about sex, love, and the value of children in God’s plan for our lives. Until then, our efforts to defend marriage, life, and the family will bear no fruit.

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PLW Victory Fund Announces 2014 Candidate Endorsements

vote

Candidate endorsements by Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund political action committee (PAC) are now available to be viewed on the web at www.ProLifeWisconsin.org. The Victory Fund PAC has endorsed a total of thirty-seven candidates for state office in the upcoming fall primary and general elections. Included on the endorsement page is a message on what it means to be “100% pro-life.”

“We are proud to endorse these candidates who recognize the personhood of the preborn baby and who hold the principled and compassionate ‘no-exceptions’ pro-life philosophy,” said Matt Sande, director of the Victory Fund PAC. “Only when we have lawmakers who will fully protect preborn children as ‘persons’ will we see an end to the scandal of legal abortion.”

Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund supports candidates for public office who demonstrate a commitment to protect each and every innocent human life – in all circumstances and at all stages of development. To be “100% pro-life” is to know that a human being begins at conception and to therefore understand that there may never be a legal exception to an innocent child’s inalienable right to life. Accordingly, it requires defending the child conceived in rape, the child whose mother’s life is perceived to be in danger, the disabled preborn baby, the tiny embryo vulnerable to experimental research, or the terminally ill patient who is viewed as a “burden” on society.

“The Victory Fund PAC stands behind the candidates who are willing to stand behind 100% of the babies,” said Sande. “2014 is an important election year, an opportunity to strengthen pro-life majorities in the State Assembly and State Senate. We are galvanizing our members to actively support these pro-life candidates and push them on to victory.”

For further information, please contact the Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund political action committee by phone: (262) 352-0890, or email: msande@prolifewisconsin.org.

Paid for by the Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund PAC, George Kriegl Treasurer
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s agent or committee

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A Note of Introduction from our New Development Director!

matt_smallIt is with great enthusiasm that I join the staff of Pro-Life Wisconsin as the new Director of Development.  The lifesaving and personhood protecting mission of PLW contains the truths and values that I hold very sacred within my own heart, so I am overwhelmed with gratitude that my day to day work now involves promoting and protecting these same values.  I first became familiar with PLW during my high school years when I attended the March for Life aboard the PLW bus.  Ever since that experience, I have continually been impressed by the unique way in which PLW stays true to its 100% pro-life stance, so as to defend all human persons from the moment of conception.  Contrary to what one might think, the political nature of the pro-life movement makes organizations such as PLW somewhat difficult to come by.  I am thrilled to be working for such a credible and principled organization.

My experience with the pro-life movement extends back to my childhood, growing up on the northwest side of Milwaukee, when I would attend events such as the Life Chain with my family.  In high school and then at Saint Louis University I became even more involved in the pro-life movement, eventually serving as the president of my college pro-life group.  We found great success developing structures of support for pregnant and parenting students on campus and even founded the first ever student initiated endowment to financially support students who chose to preserve the life of their unborn child.  After graduating from Saint Louis University with a BA in Theological Studies I decided to continue my education and earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Boston College.  This past year I spent teaching theology at a Catholic high school in Chicago.  I currently reside in Waukesha with my wife Sophia and four month old son Francis.  We are so grateful to be back in Wisconsin near friends and family.

As Development Director, I hope to be an agent of cultural change and to further the mission of PLW, to continue to develop stronger relationships, support to our affiliates, and to continue to grow this organization which is so critical to fortifying the moral framework of our local communities.  The future for PLW is bright and I am blessed to be a part of this effort to promote a Culture of Life across our entire beloved state.  Although so much great work is being done, there is still so much more we need to do.  I would be remiss if I did not ask you to carefully consider how you might contribute to PLW.  It is only through the dedication, time, talents and gifts of the friends and supporters of PLW that we will continue to see success in the promotion of the Gospel of Life.  I look forward to serving PLW and working with all of you who support PLW as we seek to defend the rights and dignity of every human person from conception to natural death.  May God bless you and your families this summer!

If you’d like to contact Matt, send him an email at mvonrueden@prolifewisconsin.org. 

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City of Madison Will Not Enforce Buffer Zone Ordinance

abortion_clinic_buffer_zone_cc_img_0In an email memo sent yesterday to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and members of the Madison Common Council, City Attorney Michael May questioned the constitutionality of the City’s recently enacted buffer zone ordinance and announced that the City of Madison and Madison Police Chief Mike Koval will not enforce it. May’s decision follows last Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley striking down a Massachusetts law requiring pro-life witnesses and sidewalk counselors in the public way to remain 35 feet from the entrance to an abortion clinic.

May writes in the email that “the reasoning of the Supreme Court raises significant concerns, in my opinion, about the continued validity of the Madison ordinance. Because of those concerns, the City will not, as of the date of the McCullen decision, enforce the provisions of [the ordinance] that contain the buffer zone restrictions. Police Chief Koval concurs in this determination.”

“With the City of Madison backing off enforcement, it’s becoming increasingly clear their buffer zone ordinance is unconstitutional,” said Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s Legislative Director. “In January Pro-Life Wisconsin cautioned the Common Council to slow down and refrain from enacting any buffer zone restriction in light of the pendingMcCullen decision. They didn’t listen, and the United States Supreme Court has now spoken, saying that buffer zones attack free speech rights in the public way. The City of Madison must act quickly to repeal this offensive ordinance before they lose in court, face substantial attorneys’ fees, and suffer a complete loss of confidence in their ability to uphold basic civil liberties.”

The Madison ordinance creates a “protective zone” within 100 feet of the entrance to health care clinics and 30 feet of the driveway entrance for a health clinic.  People on the public way or sidewalks within these zones may not approach, without consent, another person within 8 feet for the purpose of oral protest, education, counseling, passing leaflets or handbills, or displaying signs.

“These buffer zones are really about ending the peaceful conversations that trained pro-life sidewalk counselors have with abortion bound women,” said Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s State Director. “Every time a woman walks away from their Madison abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood loses money. And vague accusations of harassment and intimidation are completely unfounded. The agenda of Alderwoman Subeck, former director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, is completely transparent. Her ordinance is an aggressive attempt to stop sidewalk counseling.”

In February, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s Dane County affiliate, Madison Vigil for Life, filed suit in federal court over the buffer zone ordinance. U.S. District Judge William Conley denied their request for a temporary injunction. If their preliminary injunction is denied, Vigil for Life will appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court in Chicago. Vigil for Life is represented by the civil rights law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which recently obtained almost $500,000 in attorneys’ fees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its violations of the freedom of speech. ADF attorneys also won a lawsuit against a buffer zone law in Pittsburgh.

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Supreme Court Decision Applies to More than Just Abortifacient Contraception

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby yesterday, various media outlets have been reporting that the High Court’s decision applies only to abortifacient contraception, and that businesses like Hobby Lobby are still required to pay for other kinds of contraception required by the HHS mandate.

But this, says Matt Bowman, attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, is simply false. While it is true that the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, only objected to four kinds of abortifacient birth control, Bowman says that the Supreme Court’s decision applies to the entire HHS Mandate, meaning that owners of closely-held businesses are exempt from providing any kind of birth control required in the mandate if the owners have a conscience objection.

Some commentators are mistakenly suggesting that the decision only applies if someone objects to the same “four” early-abortion causing items that the Court said the Hahn and Green families object to.

The HHS Mandate requires more than those four items: Employers must cover emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, but also other birth-control products and sterilization methods. Catholic owners and groups have generally objected to covering all these items, while Evangelical or Protestant folks have objected only to those they consider abortifacients.

But the Supreme Court’s protections for religious freedom apply to those who object to all of the HHS Mandate, not just to those who object to some of it.

Read the rest of Bowman’s comments here.

 

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Supreme Court Upholds Religious Freedom in Hobby Lobby Case!

Supreme_Court_Birth_Control.JPEG-082cf_t607In a major victory for religious freedom, the United States Supreme Court narrowly ruled that closely held, for-profit companies are exempt from the Obamacare contraception coverage requirement. Hobby Lobby, owned by Evangelical Christians, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by a Mennonite family, argued that the HHS mandate violates their deeply held religious beliefs against abortion-causing birth control. The companies challenged the mandate under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito explained that the “contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violates RFRA.”

Peggy Hamill, State Director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, made the following comments:

Pro-Life Wisconsin welcomes the United States Supreme Court’s ruling today, upholding the religious freedom of American family business owners. Opening a family business should not require you to abandon your conscience. Government must not force businesses to either violate their religious beliefs or be punished with crushing fines.

We remain firm in our desire that the HHS Mandate be fully rescinded. The Obama administration’s decision to grant entitlement status to contraception is thoroughly ideological. It is not medical. Pregnancy is not a disease. Fertility is a natural state – it is not a health impairment to be treated medically with birth control. Birth control to prevent pregnancy is not health care – it’s a lifestyle choice. Accordingly, government should not force insurance companies, businesses and individual policy holders to cover or pay for drugs and devices that are purely elective.

Not only is contraception not health care, it can actually kill the embryonic child. Most, if not all, hormonal contraceptives can cause early chemical abortions by blocking the implantation of a newly formed human embryo in the uterine wall. This is what is termed a pre-implantation chemical abortion. Abortifacient hormonal contraceptive drugs include the birth control pill, the morning-after pill or Plan B, Ella, the patch, Depo-Provera, and the IUD.

Under the guise of ‘preventative care,’ war is being waged against religious freedom, conscience rights and God’s plan for his gift of fertility and human life. These attacks are driven by disdain for Christian moral teaching. Healthcare is supposed to prevent death, not prevent life.

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SCOTUS strikes down Massachusetts buffer zone law

300px-PersonhoodSupremeCourtIn a major victory for pro-lifers, the United States Supreme Court today struck down a Massachusetts law requiring pro-life witnesses and sidewalk counselors in the public way to remain 35 feet from the entrance to an abortion clinic.

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts explained the law violated first amendment free speech rights by restricting “access to ‘public way[s] and ‘sidewalks,’ places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled ‘traditional public fora.’” The Chief Justice explained that Massachusetts failed to apply less intrusive methods to address alleged concerns of clinic access.

Matt Sande, Legislative Director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, made the following comments:

“Pro-Life Wisconsin applauds the United States Supreme Court for upholding the free speech rights of peaceful and prayerful pro-life people who minister to vulnerable women on the public sidewalks outside America’s abortion clinics.

“Existing laws, including federal and state criminal statutes, are already in place that could be employed against demonstrators who directly impede those entering abortion facilities. The Massachusetts law, and the City of Madison buffer zone ordinance, attempt to go much further, targeting those who simply express their opinion on public property. We believe the Madison ordinance should now be struck down because it attacks free speech rights as its first method of correcting an alleged problem of access to the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

“Regardless of one’s opinion on abortion, it is imperative that the civil liberties of those engaged in the debate are protected. Buffer zone laws are yet another attempt by pro-abortion supporters to silence pro-life people who are offering what may be a mother’s only exposure to a message of love and life for her and her preborn child.”

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