Northern Ireland bishops say ‘unjust’ abortion law requires ‘conscientious objection’

Northern Ireland bishops say ‘unjust’ abortion law requires ‘conscientious objection’

Pro-life supporters stand with signs outside the High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jan. 30, 2019. (Credit: Brian Lawless/Reuters via CNS.)

LEICESTER, United Kingdom – No one is obliged to cooperate with Northern Ireland’s new abortion legislation, according to the Catholic bishops of the province.

In July, the pro-life protections in Northern Ireland were removed in a series of amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, that had the primary function of dealing with the exercise of government functions in Northern Ireland, since the power-sharing agreement collapsed in January 2017. The amendments also imposed same-sex marriage in the North, which is already legal in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The law went into effect in October, and although it removed the pro-life protections in Northern Ireland, it didn’t impose the restrictions on abortion that exist in England, Wales, and Scotland, meaning Northern Ireland currently has the most liberal abortion laws in the United Kingdom.

However, the Executive Formation Act mandated the creation of a new framework to provide lawful access to abortion services in Northern Ireland by March 31, 2020. The consultations on this framework closed on Dec. 16.

In response to the consultation, the bishops declared the new abortion law was “unjust,” and said that everyone “is morally obliged to oppose this law by conscientious objection.”

“A civil law which legitimizes the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings by means of abortion disregards their inviolable right to life. By seeking to establish regulations and procedures to facilitate the killing of unborn children, which society exists to protect and care for, such a law undermines the common good and the equality of all persons before the law,” the bishops wrote. “Therefore, this law cannot be regarded as possessing any authentic juridical validity or any morally binding force.”

That being said, the bishops called on the new regulatory framework to provide all healthcare professionals to be given the “right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself.”

They also called for pharmacists working in hospitals and pharmacies in the wider community to be able to exercise conscientious objection when asked to provide or stock medications designed to assist another person in carrying out an abortion.

“Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected from legal penalties, disciplinary proceedings, discrimination or any adverse impact on career prospects. Obstetrics and gynecology must not become the domain of only those doctors and other medical staff who are willing to participate in abortion services,” the bishops wrote.

In addition, they are “completely opposed” to any attempt to include abortion services of any kind in the schools of Northern Ireland, the majority of which are sectarian.

“With regard to Catholic schools, central to our school ethos is the promotion of the dignity and life of every human being. The provision of abortion services in our schools would be contrary to everything a Catholic school stands for with regard to respect for all citizens and the promotion of the common good. Similarly, any inclusion within the school curriculum of information about how to access abortion services would fundamentally undermine the Catholic ethos of our schools,” the bishops said.

The bishops also called on any legislation to include “appropriate counselling services and a significant time period be provided for careful reflection on the serious nature of a decision to abort the unborn child” for women considering abortion.

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome


Europe needs a “climate change on religious freedom,” says EU Special Envoy

Jan Figel during a speech - credit: Jan Figel
Jan Figel during a speech – credit: Jan Figel

According to the latest report of the Observatory on Intolerance and discrimination Against Christians in Europe, there have been in the last year about 500 cases of anti-Christian discrimination on European soil.

Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.

In Europe, the persecution might be subtle or take place in the form of attacks on  sites of worship. The situation in the world is different. This is the reason why the exiting European Commission looked attentively at the religious persecutions and established the office of the EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom outside  the European Union.

EU announced the establishment of the office on the very day Pope Francis was given the Charlemagne Prize in the Vatican.

Jan Figel was chosen as the EU special envoy for religious freedom. In that capacity, Figel was able to carry out some remarkable successes, as the liberation of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. The woman won her final appeal, but she was in danger in her country. It was thanks to Jan Figel that she and her family were able to leave Pakistan and find a haven in Canada.

The new European Commission, along with the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, will have to decide whether to renew the mandate to Figel or not.

On Oct. 15-16, an event about the “Inventory of religious freedom” took place in Brussels. The event’s goal was to summarize the step forward in terms of religious freedom and assess how religious freedom is important for the future.

Jan Figel took the floor at the end of the meeting, wrapping up the discussion. In his intervention, he stressed that “Freedom of religion and belief is a condition of good governance, important for believers and non-believers,” and it is “a civilizational objective and criterion, representing freedom of thought, conscience, religion.”

Figel then stressed that “we need a climate change on religious freedom.”

Figel underscored that “religious freedom for decades was a neglected, abandoned, misinterpreted human right.”

Mentioning Pew Forum figures, Figel said that “today, 79% of the global population lives in countries with high or very high obstacles against freedom of religion or belief.”

Figel distinguishes four levels of problems and crises, based on Pew Forum’s 2019 book “A Closer Look at How religious restrictions have risen around the world,” which analyses figures on religious freedom in the decade from 2007 to 2017: intolerance, discrimination, persecution, and genocide.

Figel notes that “government restrictions on religion – laws, policies, and actions by state officials – increased markedly around the world. Indeed, 52 governments – including some in very populous countries like China, Indonesia, and Russia – impose either ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of restrictions on religion (up from 40 in 2007)”.

The figures also show that “social hostilities involving religion – including violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations or groups – also have risen since 2007. The number of countries where people are experiencing the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion has risen from 39 to 56 throughout the study”.

Figel also mentioned the UK Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ special report on religious freedom. The report said that religious persecution against Christian is “almost at the level of genocide.”

Figel also stressed that there is also good news on the religious freedom side.

Among the good news are items such as the EU Guidelines of 28 Member States, adopted in 2013; the establishment in the European parliament of first Intergroup for freedom of religion and belief and religious tolerance, with 38 members so far; the International Contact Group of Freedom of Religion and Belief diplomats, set up in 2015 and joined by a growing number of countries; and, finally, the establishment of the EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion Outside EU.

Figel finally advanced five recommendations: work on the freedom of religion and belief within a human rights framework; boost the freedom of religion and belief literacy; support the engagement with religious actors and inter-religious dialogue; implement a more strategic and contextualized approach at the country level; step up coordination among member States and European Union on religious freedom.

During his five-year mandate, Figel also launched the Declaration for Human Dignity for everyone and everywhere, signed by politicians and members of the academy.

As mentioned, Figel was also involved in the Asia Bibi case. The case was an evident abuse of religious freedom, and Figel could, in his capacity, shed light on the issues of religious freedom. Figel was able to go to Pakistan for the first time in December 2017 and paid a second visit in 2018.

“During the talks – Figel recalled – I spoke about the importance of dignity and justice for every Pakistani citizen, especially minorities. I tirelessly spoke with my high-level interlocutors about the importance of having clear signs that the Pakistani authorities are moving toward the rule of law and justice for all. Delayed justice is denied justice.”

Figel’s involvement in Asia Bibi’s case was decisive for the Asia Bibi released. According to Figel, this showed that “European Union is a soft power that can facilitate positive changes in the world on justice, sustainable development, human rights protection and more effective promotion of religious freedom.”

It is not yet known whether the office of the Special Envoy for Religious Freedom outside the EU will be renewed. The outcomes, however, showed that religious freedom is a crucial factor and that EU commitment in advancing religious freedom in the world might be of benefit for the same EU.


Thousands of Christians murdered in Nigeria

More than 1,000 Christians have been murdered by Islamic extremists in Nigeria in the last year.

Fulani tribesmen have been carrying out attacks on Christians for several years. The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) estimates more than 6,000 have been killed since 2015.

Baroness Caroline Cox, founder of HART, said the nomadic Fulani herdsmen “seek to replace diversity and difference with an Islamist ideology which is imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply. It is – according to the Nigerian House of Representatives – genocide.”


Baroness Cox reported the testimonies of some of the survivors of the attacks, with one woman saying: “I heard gunshots and the attack started. My seven-year-old was too heavy to carry.

She added: “The hospital was burnt. They tried to burn the roof of the church by piling up chairs, like a bonfire.”

A pastor said: “Every day we carry new corpses to the cemetery. They kill farmers. They destroy our homes and churches. They kidnap and rape women.”

Lady Cox, a patron of The Christian Institute, called on the Foreign Office to “ensure the Nigerian government takes effective action to protect all its citizens and call to account those who perpetrate atrocities”.


Children’s transgender clinic hit by 35 resignations in three years as psychologists warn of gender dysphoria ‘over-diagnoses’

A transgender clinic has been hit by 35 resignations in three years, as psychologists warn of “overdiagnoses” of gender dysphoria among children.

The whistleblowers said too many children were being put on puberty-blocking drugs when they should not have been given the diagnosis.

Former staff said they were unable to properly assess patients over fears they will be branded “transphobic”.

The concerns were raised by six psychologists who have resigned from London’s children’s gender-identity service in the past three years.

One psychologist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Our fears are that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalised.

“We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people… For those of us who previously worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal.”

Thirty-five psychologists have resigned from London’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust since 2016, the investigation by Sky News reveals.

One psychologist said: “The alarm started ringing for me… I didn’t feel able to voice my concerns, or when I did I was often shut down by other affirmative clinicians. Looking back there are young people who I now wouldn’t necessarily put on medication.”

Data shows the number of children treated at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) has risen more than thirty-fold in a decade – from 77 to 2,590

The GODS in Camden, north London, is where children with gender dysphoria are treated on the NHS.

The service had 2,590 young patients referred to them last year, compared with just 77 patients a decade ago.

It sees children under the age of 18 and, in rare cases, some as young as three.

In a statement, the GODS said it supports every young person on a case-by-case basis, as an individual.

“GIDS takes a considered and thoughtful approach, and supports clinicians to engage openly and supportively with patients and parents.

‘We have conducted exit interviews with all departing staff to understand their motivations and identify any areas of concern.

‘The work is demanding and the pressures of operating in a busy service facing a high level of unfair criticism are intense, their motivations are as individual as they are.”

People with gender dysphoria experience discomfort or distress because they feel there is mismatch between their biological sex and identity.

Almost half of children treated at the GIDS are prescribed hormone-blockers that halt puberty, which resumes when the patient stops taking the drugs.

This gives children the time to consider whether they truly want to make the transition to the opposite sex.

But the drugs interfere with natural hormone production and can cause mood swings.

The next stage is hormone therapy. It sees youngsters take testosterone, if transitioning to a male, or oestrogen, if switching to female. This is normally not given to people under 16 because it is irreversible and can eventually make patients infertile.

Gender-reassignment surgery, the final step in transitioning from one sex to another, is reserved for patients over 18.

Thomasin, who spent most of her teen years identifying as male, switched back to being a female this year at the age of 19.

She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by the Tavistock at 17 but was never prescribed medication.

Thomasin de-transitioned this year after realising she was struggling with her sexuality as a lesbian.

She said she was glad she never took irreversible steps to become male.

She said: “Mainly the thing that was fueling me was that I didn’t fit in and then I was slowly drip fed this idea that you could change sex.”


Exclusive photos: Witness the breathtaking Mass of the Americas in Washington, DC

The first-ever performance of the new musical setting adapted for Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Click here to launch the slideshow

As the sun cast its first rays on the Capitol dome, thousands of faithful descended on the unofficial parish church of the United States’ capital, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, just outside the gates of the corridors of power, to raise their hearts to Christ in a prayer for the nation and a return to the sacred.At a time when our great nation suffers an identity crisis beyond measure, devolving it to a nation divided against itself, and the Church in America is suffering in tandem a period marked by scandal and loss of the sense of the sacred, the Mass of the Americas plants its flag on the frontline in the nation’s capital as a beacon of hope and a call to a return to a deep sense of the sacred through beauty.

The Solemn Pontifical High Mass honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary under her titles of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (the Patroness of Mexico and all of the Americas, and the Patroness of the United States) was celebrated in Latin by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. The Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form immediately recalled a sense of the sacred through its very rich and complex symbolism, each implement and motion having profound meaning. But what really raised this Mass to new heights was the music.

Under the patronage of Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, composer Frank LaRocca’s  new composition, “Mass of the Americas,” debuted in its first-ever performance as an integral part of the Extraordinary Form liturgy, having been adapted from the original which is intended for use in the Ordinary Form. The work was performed by the Benedict XVI Choir and conducted by Richard Sparks.

This truly breathtaking confluence of the highest form of prayer and high art transcends consciousness and enables one to be raised to a place of unfathomable contemplation of Christ and His True Presence in the Eucharist.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone echoed the words of Servant of God Dorothy Day, “The absence of beauty and the prevalence of the ugly eventually corrupts a soul leading to spiritual misery,” he said. “Goodness feeds the body, truth feeds the mind, and beauty feeds the soul … perhaps it is the absence of beauty which most lacking in the world today, which explains the spiritual malaise in which we find ourselves.”

Beauty indeed is a powerful means of attracting a soul to Christ, and perhaps this new initiative, and others to follow, will touch and inspire a generation to have a renewed sense of awe, the same awe that is evoked when one brushes against the Divine.

The Mass will be touring the country with stops in San Francisco, Houston, Dallas and Tijuana. To learn more, visit the Benedict XVI Institute website


Amazing Image of Unborn Baby at 18 Weeks is Called the Photograph of the Century


MICAIAH BILGER   NOV 18, 2019   |   3:54PM    WASHINGTON, DC

The image of an 18-week unborn baby from Life magazine’s stunning 1965 photo-spread is being hailed as the photograph of the century.

The description comes as a surprise from The Guardian, a left-wing British publication that supports abortion on demand. Its article celebrating the photograph tried to make excuses for abortion even as the images openly displayed the inherent humanity of babies in the womb.

The celebrated photograph was taken by Swedish photojournalist Lennart Nilsson and published in the April 1965 edition of Life under the title “Drama of Life Before Birth.” That issue became the “fastest-selling copy” of the magazine in the history of its publication, according to the report.

“In full colour and crystal clear detail, the picture showed a foetus in its amniotic sac, with its umbilical cord winding off to the placenta. The unborn child, floating in a seemingly cosmic backdrop, appears vulnerable yet serene. Its eyes are closed and its tiny, perfectly formed fists are clutched to its chest,” the report described.

The photo is one of several showing unborn babies in the famous magazine layout. They were published at a time when the abortion debate was beginning to boil and ultrasound technology was still extremely limited.

Most of the babies who Nilsson photographed had been miscarried or aborted. According to the report: “Nilsson was only able to photograph one living foetus, though, using an endoscopic camera that travelled into a womb. This picture was included in Life and is distinct from the others – being taken inside the uterus means it can’t capture the foetus in its entirety.”

His photos captured the humanity of unborn babies in amazing detail, in both black and white and color. Another photo of a 20-week unborn baby shows vivid details of the baby’s face, including the tiny veins in his/her eyelids and feathery hair growing across the forehead. Another photo of a 13-week unborn baby shows the amniotic sac and placenta surrounding a tiny baby with already distinguishable fingers and toes, eyes, ears and ribs.

The celebrated photographer died in 2017 at age 94. According to the report, he began limiting the use of his photos after seeing one of his images on a pro-life poster in the 1980s because he did not want them to be political.

Recently, however, the Paris Photo art fair began displaying Nilsson’s famous photos again, and other venues in Europe may follow, according to the report.

“The images caused a stir in Paris and it’s easy to see why: their quiet beauty has a powerful emotional pull,” the report described.

Though The Guardian still tried to justify abortion, its commentary seemed so hypocritical when juxtaposed with the photos of babies in the womb. Nilsson may not have wanted his photos to be political, but they became so because of the abortion industry’s attempts to deny the humanity of the unborn. His photos left an immense legacy because they show the powerful truth: Unborn babies are unique, living, valuable human beings, and the pro-life movement is on the side of science and truth.


China’s religion chiefs to double down on bringing doctrine in line with socialist dogma

  • Reinterpretation of texts the latest effort in four-year old push to establish ‘theology with Chinese characteristics’

China is seeking to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism. Photo: Reuters

China is seeking to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism. Photo: Reuters

China’s religious leaders met in Beijing on Tuesday to work on ways to reinterpret religious doctrine to bring it in line with socialism, as the ruling Communist Party presses on with its campaign to



The meeting, convened by Wang Yang, the country’s top official overseeing religious affairs, focused on how to ensure that religious dogma “meets the requirements of the progressing times” and fits “core socialist values”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Wang, who is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s inner circle of power, said the goal was to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism, the report said.

The meeting comes after the party’s powerful Central Committee met last month to map out China’s policy directions for the coming years.

It also comes four years after President Xi Jinping launched the “sinicisation” campaign to bring religions into line with Chinese culture and the party’s absolute authority.

But the ultimate goal, in Xi’s own words, was to keep believers away from “Western ideology” and “religious extremism”.

Pastor stabbed to death in Diyarbakir

26 Nov 2019

A church leader from South Korea was stabbed to death on Friday 22 November 2019 in Southeast Turkey. Pastor Jinwook Kim had been living in Turkey for the last 5 years, and moved to Diyarbakir city last year, where he led a small congregation.

A 16-year-old male has been arrested in connection with Pastor Kim’s murder. The motive for the killing is thought to have been robbery, as the pastor’s telephone was missing.  However, several local sources have suggested he was targeted because of his faith. Pastor Kim’s pregnant wife is due to give birth in the next few days; they also have a 4-year-old son.

The situation for Turkey’s small Christian community has become increasingly precarious, particularly following the foiled coup of 2016. Recent years have seen an increase in animosity, hate speech and anti-Christian sentiments. In October 2019 billboards encouraging Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians were erected in the conservative city of Konya, sparking outrage and condemnation by rights groups both inside and outside Turkey.

For several in the Christian community the murder of Pastor Kim is uncomfortably reminiscent of the 2007 torture murders of three Christians at the Zirve publishing house in the city of Malatya by five young men, who were apprehended as they fled the scene of the crime. All five eventually received three aggravated life sentences each for premeditated murder in 2016.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, congregation and loved ones of Pastor Kim. We urge the Turkish government to fully investigate this murder, and hold those found to have been involved in it accountable. The government must also crack down on hate speech targeting Christians and other religious minorities, as it facilitates an atmosphere in which these communities are at increased risk. We call on the international community to press the Turkish government to end all forms of discrimination against religious minorities, and respect its constitutional obligations to protect and respect the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic background.”


Activists Attack Key Religious Freedom Precedent To Control What Parents Teach Kids

Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder would have ramifications far beyond Amish schoolhouses, opening the door to increased regulation and government oversight of homeschooling and religious schools’ curricula.
Jeff DitzlerBy

The Amish might be the most quiescent religious group in America. They don’t proselytize, they don’t lobby or run for office, and most don’t even vote. Yet a little-known, almost 50-year-old Supreme Court decision involving them could be the next front in the battle for religious liberty.

In 1972, the Supreme Court handed down the decision Wisconsin v. Yoder, holding that the Amish community’s right to the free exercise of religion — specifically, eschewing formal education past eighth grade — trumped state laws mandating school attendance.

Enter Torah Bontrager. She left an Amish community in Iowa at age 15, later earned an Ivy League degree, and established the Amish Heritage Foundation to alter Amish communities. To her, this starts with overturning Yoder, the focus of a conference the foundation held last week at Bontrager’s alma mater, Columbia University. The foundation has planned a 30-state media tour but has not yet set its dates.

This movement is not limited to the Amish or even Christianity. Speakers at the conference decried a lack of preparation for the secular world in Islamic and Jewish schools, and the foundation has ties to the “ex-vangelical” movement. The biggest news from the conference was that the foundation has found three plaintiffs to sue to overturn Yoder. It didn’t give any names, but it described one as a minor who had left the Amish faith, began working in construction, and wanted to attend high school.

The State’s Interest and Power in Education

Education has traditionally been considered a state power, and the word “education” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments. On what grounds, then, does the Amish Heritage Foundation claim “education [as] a federal right for all children”?

As a precedent, it cites a lawsuit filed against the state of Rhode Island by Michael Rebell, a Columbia professor, alleging that the rights to vote, speak freely, and serve on a jury imply that the government has a duty to provide adequate civic education and that by not having a civics education requirement, Rhode Island is violating students’ rights. By extension, according to the Amish Heritage Foundation, the rights of those raised in the Amish church to vote and speak freely imply that the government has a responsibility to make sure they attend high school.

The implications of imposing mainstream education requirements on the Amish would be profound. In most states, teachers are required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, so the Amish would not be able to recruit teachers from their own ranks. They would have to rely on the local public schools or other denominations’ private schools.

Nor is civics the only aspect of secular education the Amish Heritage Foundation thinks Amish schoolchildren should be exposed to. One of the speakers at Columbia detailed horrific cases of sexual abuse within the Amish community, which the foundation linked to its cause, claiming secular sex education could prevent such abuse.

The Amish Heritage Foundation has some legitimate concerns, such as education conducted in languages (such as Yiddish or Pennsylvania German) that leaves students unprepared to deal with the English-speaking world, and a lack of instruction in subjects such as math or geography that no religion would find objectionable. The moral case for holding sexual abusers accountable should be obvious, especially to religious leaders, and by now, itshouldbeobvious that trying to cover up such abuse, or attempting to deal with it internally, doesn’t work in the long run. The movement to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder should remind leaders in religious education that if they don’t reform themselves, others will be only too happy to impose reforms on them.

Overturning Yoder Would Have Serious Consequences

Far from being an imposition of a right-wing, traditionalist court, Wisconsin v. Yoder came near the high tide of Supreme Court liberalism. Yoder was decided in May 1972. The court imposed a national moratorium on the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia the next month and handed down the Roe v. Wade decision less than a year later. The court may have seen itself as sticking up for minority rights against overweening local government then, but a more aggressively individualistic and secular left, concerned with rooting out religion, especially Christianity, might be more open to overturning it.

So how much danger is Wisconsin v. Yoderin? Although the Amish Heritage Foundation is obscure, with fewer than 200 Twitter followers and just over 1,000 likes and followers on Facebook, Bontrager has attractedpressattention. If the case made it to the Supreme Court today, it’s likely the five conservative justices would uphold Yoder.

Among the court’s liberals, Justice Elena Kagan, who has shown a reluctance to overturn precedent, and Justice Stephen Breyer, who has been sympathetic to some religious liberty claims, might join them. In the longer term, however, if the activists can persuade public and legal opinion that Yoder is an unjustified privilege instead of a natural application of the First Amendment, a more left-wing court might someday overturn it.

Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder would have ramifications far beyond Amish schoolhouses, opening the door to increased regulation and scrutiny of homeschooling and even government oversight of religious schools’ curricula. Overturning Yoder would make it harder for religious parents to control what ideas schools teach their children, as the explicit right to free exercise of religion becomes subordinate to a nebulous right to an “adequate education,” as defined by the government under activist influence.

Whatever you think of the Amish Heritage Foundation’s cause, it is absolutely right that the Yoder decision affects all Americans, not just the Amish.

Jeff Ditzler is a freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. You can follow him on Twitter @JeffDitzler.

‘It’s a game’: the travesty of the Daleiden case

‘This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country’

Amid the twists and turns of the plethora of lawsuits against David Daleiden, the pro-life advocate who went undercover to record abortion industry executives talking about procuring fetal body parts, a one-liner sticks out.

‘So you know, it’s a game.’

The off-the-cuff remark was made by Ruth Arick, a former abortion clinic administrator turned owner of the abortion consulting firm Choice Pursuits, as she described how abortionists obtain intact fetuses for researchers who request them.

‘Some researchers are looking for whole fetuses in the earlier stages, so you over-dilate, you try to be able to extract an entire fetus through your cannula,’ Arick says in the surreptitiously recorded audio, recorded several years ago when Daleiden and his associate were posing undercover as fetal tissue procurers.

‘But then again, the over-dilation can be a risk to the woman, so you know, it’s a game,’ Arick adds.

The insouciance of the abortion industry veteran’s remarks contrasted with their jarring subject matter has the potential to scandalize the consciences of even some who generally support the right to choose. However, the judge and grand jury in the federal civil trial against Daleiden were ultimately successful in not letting lurid background information phase them and ended the case with a thud on Friday in a win for Planned Parenthood.

The audio recording was used as evidence in San Francisco’s US District Court, which saw the jury award Planned Parenthood over $2.2 million in its verdict against Daleiden under federal racketeering statutes. The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood and ten of its abortion affiliates, who accused Daleiden and his pro-life organization, the Center for Medical Progress, of fraud, trespassing, and making illegal secret recordings.

‘The First Amendment is not a defense to the claims in this case for the jury to consider,’ Judge William Orrick wrote before the trial began. ‘Defendants’ argument that they were citizen journalists was admissible as context for the defendants’ case, not as a legal defense.’

After the ruling, abortion advocates rejoiced.

‘The jury recognized today that those behind the campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us,’ said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, adding that the activists spearheaded a ‘malicious campaign’ against the nation’s largest abortion provider.

On the other side, the heartbreak was almost palpable.

March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said her group was ‘saddened’ by the ‘profoundly unjust decision’ and lambasted Orrick for having a conflict of interest stemming from his ties to Planned Parenthood, which she claimed ‘greatly biased the jury’.

Orrick has received thousands of dollars from Planned Parenthood for his previous congressional campaigns.

Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, also criticized Orrick’s ties to the plaintiff, saying he was ‘clearly incapable of seeing the true criminals here’.

‘It is a sad day when the justice system is manipulated by the rich and powerful to protect the guilty and punish the innocent,’ she lamented.

Daleiden himself did not mince words in his reaction to the legal blow, accusing Orrick of being a ‘biased judge’ who had decided the ruling before the trial began as well as suppressed video evidence instrumental to the case.

‘This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country, sending a message that speaking truth and facts to criticize the powerful is no longer protected by our institutions,’ Daleiden said.

Daleiden’s lawyers plan to appeal Friday’s decision, saying their client used ‘standard investigative journalism techniques’ to investigate the ‘criminal activity’ of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

‘This is what so outraged the public. The true words of Planned Parenthood’s top abortion doctors and other personnel,’ lead counsel Peter Breen said in his closing argument. ‘They wanted to protect the brand. But what is it that hurt the brand? The very words spoken by Planned Parenthood personnel on those videos is what hurt the brand.’

Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha added that the verdict has also sunk its teeth into the ‘sacred tenet of freedom of the press’.

‘Planned Parenthood decided that it was above the law. Planned Parenthood was wrong,’ Brejcha stated.

Daleiden’s challenges are far from over. A separate California state criminal trial over the same undercover videos is ongoing in the Superior Court of California County of San Francisco, presided over by Judge Christopher Hite.

The prosecutor in that case is California attorney general Xavier Becerra, who took over the case from current Democratic 2020 candidate Kamala Harris. Both have wholeheartedly supported Planned Parenthood and received perks and laurels from the mammoth abortion provider for their trouble.

Perhaps the most telling moment of all the lawsuits occurred in that case, when longtime California abortionist Dr Forrest Smith testified, shockingly, on behalf of Daleiden, saying that even he cannot support Planned Parenthood’s reckless modus operandi when it comes to procuring fetal body parts.

‘There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births,’ Smith told the court when asked whether the controversial, more aggressive abortion procedure Planned Parenthood executives describe in one of the undercover videos could result in the delivery of a live infant. ‘Very few people in abortion, outside of Planned Parenthood, do that.’

In other words, beyond the legal weeds and the rhetoric coming out of both sides, the grisly considerations backdropping these lawsuits extend far beyond a simple abortion debate to practices that managed to raise the eyebrow of even the most seasoned abortionist.