Friday, 2 December 2016

Paul Tully is a giant in British and Irish pro-life history and SPUC’s history

Paul Tully leaves SPUC’s employment for pastures new today as a giant in SPUC’s history as well as British and Irish pro-life history, alongside other giants such as Elspeth Chowdharay-Best and Alan Smith (who founded the Society in late 1966/early 1967) and Phyllis Bowman, SPUC’s first director/chief executive (who forged the grassroots educational and political movement on which all our pro-life work is based).

35 years ago almost to the day, Paul Tully started work for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children as SPUC’s membership registrar. He was responsible for managing the Society’s index-card member records from 1981 till 1983. During that period SPUC acquired a microcomputer and Paul transferred our records to a database system. Paul went on to undertake a number of important roles in SPUC’s employment, including head of research and representing SPUC in the broadcast media, until becoming SPUC’s general secretary nearly two decades ago, and deputy chief executive in more recent years.

I think that pro-life activists, especially young people in the movement, should study the work of Paul Tully – which you can begin to do by reviewing his many contributions to my blog and his appearances/contributions on the SPUC website. His knowledge and analysis of the medico-scientific, legal and political issues facing the pro-life movement are second to none – and Paul leaves a permanent legacy to Britain in the form of historic life-saving achievements in which he played a critical role, for example:

  • In 2009 SPUC successfully took the Department of Health and Public Services to court to prevent them from introducing more widespread abortion into Northern Ireland by the back door – Paul’s knowledge and experience of fighting against abortion in the courts on behalf of SPUC was crucial in this victory which has saved countless lives.
  • In 2011, in what became known as the ‘bedroom abortions’ case, legal arguments submitted by SPUC’s lawyers helped to prevent a change in the law that would have allowed abortions to take place in the home. Mr Justice Supperstone, when making his ruling, cited the argument put forward by SPUC’s lawyers on the advice of Paul Tully.

In addition, Paul Tully’s expert briefings sent to SPUC’s tens of thousands of local activists played a critical role:

  • In the overwhelming defeat of assisted suicide legislation in 2015
  • In the defeat of the (Labour) Government’s moves to make sex education compulsory throughout the school years in 2010
  • In stopping legislative proposals to remove virtually all legal protection for unborn children in Britain in 2010

And of course I must mention here Paul’s massive contribution to the Glasgow midwives’ case in which SPUC supported two brave senior midwives from Glasgow, Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, who fought to protect their right to conscientious objection to abortion. In April of 2013, Mary and Connie won a unanimous appeal court ruling which upheld that their right to conscientious objection was protected by law and Paul’s meticulous briefing of Connie and Mary and their lawyers, and his daily support of Connie and Mary, played an important role in achieving that ruling – tragically overturned by the Supreme Court in London the following year.

Katherine Hampton, Paul’s assistant, who has worked for SPUC for 23 years, reminded me of countless other lasting achievements in the work of Paul Tully which I do not have time and space to mention today – but I will return to this important subject.

On a personal level, I have worked closely with Paul every day of my working life for the past 35 years. He and Antonia, his wife, have been very good friends to me. I will miss Paul deeply and sorely. Whenever I have thought about Paul’s influence on my life I have been put in mind of the “just man” to whom the Bible refers in many places, including in Psalm 112:
Blessed the man who fears the Lord
Who greatly delights in his commands …
… It is good for the man gracious in lending
Who conducts his affairs with justice.
For he shall never be shaken;
The righteous shall be remembered forever.
He shall not fear an ill report
His heart is steadfast trusting the Lord.
His heart is tranquil, without fear
Till at last he looks down on his foes
Thank you Paul. You are a true giant in SPUC’s history and in British and Irish pro-life history. Josephine and I will be praying for you and for your family as you go on to fulfil your long-cherished career ambition in which you are so eminently (including professionally) well-qualified. Your new employers and colleagues are very fortunate – and I would bet my bottom dollar that you will remain at the heart of pro-life work, not least because of the legacy you have left us, for decades to come.

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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mother Teresa's message to SPUC's rally, Christ's love, lives on in the work of Good Counsel Network and the pro-life movement

33 years on since Mother Teresa's memorable address to SPUC's "Call to Humanity" pro-life rally in Hyde Park, London, her love - that is, Christ's love - lives on in so many aspects of the work of the pro-life movement.

It lives on, for example, in the wonderful work of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's sister organisation, Good Counsel Network.

Good Counsel Network simply never stops quietly and effectively saving babies' lives and protecting and supporting mothers every day of the week, 52 weeks of the year. They carry on doing so quietly and effectively in spite of media attacks on their life-saving work - attacks which simply ignore the countless women who benefit from the caring work of Good Counsel Network.

To give you an example of what I mean, SPUC's "oldest" volunteer (he's been volunteering at SPUC's HQ for 42 years) came into the office today (27th October, the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act being passsed by Parliament) and told me the following:
"I have over the years been involved in the pro-life cause (SPUC, LIFE and the Good Counsel Network). Many times the cause seems to progress and sometimes something knocks you back, but usually it's all done with prayer and hope.

"In my volunteering work for Good Counsel Network, we offer prayer, leafleting and education. We also offer leaflets to those going into abortion clinics explaining the start of life and development of the child. Those leaflets offer help and counselling during pregnancy and the offer of after-care.

"I was made aware of how well others in our movement get through to people when a lady walked across to me and shook me by the hand. She wanted to tham me for the work of others in the movement. Not something I did especially, any more than what we all do in praying for those in all things to do with their baby.

"She wanted to thank those of our organisation who guided and helped her through her pregnancy. She had intended not to continue with ther pregnancy. Her son encouraged her not to have an abortion.

"She shook me by the hand. Gee whizz, that's worth more than money.

"You know what else? It happened on the annviersary of the passing of the Abortion Act."
(Today, SPUC put out a statement on the 49th anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act saying "Today marks the 49th anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act. We need to make the idea of abortion being completely illegal normal- because it really is normal not to kill children.")

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Poland's Stop Abortion Citizens' Initiative sought to uphold international law

I have just returned from fact-finding trip to Poland with SPUC's international team where we were hosted by the Ordo Iuris team which led the recent Stop Abortion Citizens' Initiative supported by nearly half a million Polish citizens. Whilst in Warsaw, the SPUC team were invited to address a press conference convened in connection with our visit. This is what I said:
I am very disappointed that the Stop Abortion Citizens’ Initiative was sadly stopped in its tracks by the party leadership pressure in Poland including pressure on the Polish bishops. [The Stop Abortion Citizens’ initiative was supported by nearly half a million Polish citizens and sought to make abortion in Poland completely unlawful.]

Today is the feast day of St John Cantius who was raised up by Providence to keep alight the torch of faith and the flame of Christian charity in the 15th century in Poland. The Stop Abortion initiative has been raised by Providence to keep alight the teaching of the Church on the inviolability of the sanctity of human life from conception and Christian charity in the 21st century by proposing legislation designed to defend the lives of the weakest, most vulnerable children in the world - those who are disabled and those who are conceived as a result of a crime such as rape, as well as providing for greater support for mothers to be facing difficult pregnancies.
In launching their initiative Ordo Iuris and their pro-life allies were seeking to implement Article Three of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which upholds the right to life.
Article Two of the UNDHR states “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” And Article Six states: “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” After the tragic experience of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, the drafters of the Universal Declaration wanted to ensure that legislators could never treat a particular group of people as “non-persons”, such as unborn children.
The right to life of unborn children is also upheld in the 1959 Declaration of Human Rights and in the 1989 Convention on Human Rights which states in its preamble: “Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth".
Currently Poland permits abortion in certain circumstances. The logical outcome of legalised abortion in certain circumstances is that abortion becomes available in all or any circumstances. Imagine if in Poland you had legislation which permitted a particular racial or religious group to be killed. It's obvious that in such a situation everybody's human rights would be threatened because unequivocal respect for the dignity of human life had been removed from your statutes.
The only thing which really protects society's weakest, most vulnerable human beings, are moral absolutes. Once legislators accept that it's OK directly to kill an innocent child in the womb, the defence against killing any unborn child is torn away.
What is being done in Poland by Ordo Iuris and their pro-life allies is to make the idea of stopping abortion completely in Poland completely normal - because it really is normal not to kill children.
Future generations will take that fact for granted and will look at what is happening today with horror and utter disbelief.

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