Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Claire Curtis-Thomas should resign as a vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group

In last night’s Commons debate on abortion, Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby and a vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPLG), said the following:

"For the record, and contrary to many of the statements that I have read this week which purport to know my views, I am not opposed to abortion. I believe that women should have the right to choose; I just hope that they do not choose to have an abortion."

Later in the debate, she also said:

"I would be much happier with 12 weeks—that is where I stand. Let women have the choice, but make it at 12 weeks. "

There is no defence for her comments – they are clear statements that not only should abortion be allowed in law, but that abortion is a woman’s right. She should resign immediately as a vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group.

Abortion weeks amendments rejected, attack on unborn babies expected to intensify

SPUC expresses grave concern at the large numbers of MPs who voted with the pro-abortion lobby tonight in the House of Commons. MPs were voting on proposed changes to the Abortion Act 1967 via amendments to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

None of the amendments seeking to lower the 24 week time limit, which applies to most social abortions, was passed. The number of MPs voting with the pro-abortion lobby exceeding 390. Amendments to widen access to abortion very considerably are expected to be tabled at the bill's report stage. Some pro-abortion amendments had been tabled before tonight's committee stage, but were withdrawn prior to tonight's debate.

Pro-lifers must now redouble their efforts to stop pro-abortion amendments being incorporated into the government's embryo bill at its report stage. These amendments may include removing the requirement for two doctors to certify medical grounds for an abortion, and promoting nurses as abortion practitioners. More babies will die if such amendments are passed.

SPUC has for many years warned MPs not to table amendments seeking to lower time limits on abortion, in the light of the current Parliament's overwhelming pro-abortion majority. Contary to erroneous media reports, the upper time limit for all abortions is not 24 weeks, as abortion up to birth has been allowed since 1990 where an unborn child has been deemed to be seriously handicapped or in certain other circumstances.

MPs voted to reject lowering the 24 week social abortion limit to:

12 weeks - rejected by 393 votes to 71

16 weeks - 387 to 84

20 weeks - 332 to 190

22 weeks - 304 to 233

An amendment to require information to be offered to mothers prior to the abortion of a disabled child was also defeated by 309 to 173.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

NI cross-party unity on abortion

The leaders of the four main political parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly have signed a letter to all Westminster MPs urging them to vote against any measure which would extend British abortion law to their part of the UK. The signatories are Mr Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin, Mr Mark Durkan, SDLP, Sir Reg Empey, UUP, and Dr Ian Paisley, DUP.

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland writes: "It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of the letter from the leaders of Northern Ireland’s major political parties. A joint statement of this kind, signed by all four of them, is unprecedented. Together they represent 90% of the members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which demonstrates the level of determination in the Province to resist threats to extend the Abortion Act. Although Parliament has the political power to impose the Act, the moral authority clearly rests with the Assembly. The party leaders are asking MPs to respect that.

"The leaders of Northern Ireland’s major Christian denominations have also written to MPs asking them to acknowledge that any change to abortion legislation ought be the responsibility of the Assembly.

"On 22 October 2007 Assembly members from the four parties gave overwhelming support to a motion rejecting 'any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland.'

"The people of Northern Ireland still recognise the right to life of the unborn child – a right affirmed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are also concerned by the evidence of the harm abortion does to women. While the law in Northern Ireland protects unborn children, it protects women as well."

Monday, 19 May 2008

Government hardens embryo bill stance

MPs tonight rejected proposed curbs on the expansion of embryo research law. The Commons blocked amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which sought to prevent or otherwise limit the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos and ‘saviour siblings’. This reflects the government’s resolve to allow new abuses of human embryos and human reproduction. Ethically-conscious MPs must now throw out the government’s embryo bill. We expand on this in an SPUC media release.

SPUC asks Archbishop Nichols to correct and clarify his statement on the value of embryonic human life

It is dismaying for pro-lifers, of all faiths and none, to hear the words of Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Birmingham, today on BBC Radio 4's World at One. He said: “…What we’ve been trying to say all along is ‘What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings?’ Now clearly it’s not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me…”

As a Catholic, and as a pro-life campaigner, I am naturally familiar with Pope John Paul II's presentation of church teaching on the value of pre-natal life, which is completely contrary to the position set out by Archbishop Nichols.

Pope John Paul II writes, for example, in Evangelium Vitae (61) : "Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth..."

Elsewhere, quoting Donum Vitae, the Holy Father said: "'The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life'" (Evangelium Vitae 60)

With great respect, and especially in the light of the current debate and MPs' votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, a bill which shows such complete contempt for prenatal human life, I do sincerely hope and pray that the archbishop will reconsider what he said and issue a correction and clarification.

Archbishop Nichols also said to his interviewer: “In your introduction I think you quite rightly said that these [the question of saviour siblings] are painful dilemmas and I don’t believe there are black and white answers.”

I am asking the archbishop if he will make it clear that the practice known as “saviour siblings” is opposed by the Catholic Church for a number of reasons.

According to Donum Vitae, published in 1987 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in-vitro fertilisation is in itself illicit and in opposition to the dignity of procreation and of the conjugal union, even if everything is done to avoid the death of the human embryo.

Furthermore, the creation of “saviour siblings” necessarily involves the testing and discarding of human embryos who may either carry the same genetic problem as their sibling, or they may not be a good tissue match.

Finally, creating a human embryo in order for him or her to become a tissue donor for a sibling is contrary to the human dignity of that embyo.

MPs’ amendments will increase access to abortion throughout pregnancy

Pro-abortion amendments tabled at the last moment last Friday will make abortions in Britain more easily available throughout pregnancy. The amendments have been tabled by Evan Harris (Liberal Democrat, pictured), Chris McCafferty (Labour), John Bercow (Conservative) and Katy Clark MP (Labour).

The amendments set out new circumstances under which only one doctor approves an abortion, both before and after the upper limit for most abortions. Also, medical practitioners will no longer have to form their opinion 'in good faith' which applies all situations under the current abortion law. There are other changes proposed by the MPs which reduce accountability on the part of doctors. These amendments will send the message to doctors: ‘when you decide a woman should have an abortion, you don’t need to justify your decision or worry about what other doctors will think’. If MPs vote for such amendments they will show they care as little for health and welfare of women as they do for unborn children.

It’s essential to contact your MP to ask them to vote against these and any other pro-abortion amendments tomorrow, Tuesday, 20th May. You can contact your MP via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps