Saturday, 27 September 2008

Recycled "Medical News Today" story reports on using left-over tiny persons in fertility clinics

Medical News Today reports this week on “using left-over embryos” in the US, in much the same way as we talk about recycling rubbish these days. Indeed, that’s how an “unwanted” or “surplus” embryo of the human species in many parts of the world, not least in the UK, is now regarded – rubbish to be recycled for the benefit of the adult human community and their (born) children.

Without the kind permission of Medical News Today, I am recycling their story so that every time the word “embryo” appears, I change it to read “tiny person”. When you’ve been through the scientific evidence with them about the beginning of human life, try giving this blog to friends who are unsure about, or who accept, IVF practices to see if it helps them to stop and think:

Using Leftover Tiny Persons in Fertility Clinics

The majority of infertility patients are in favour of using left-over tiny persons for stem cell research and would also support selling left-over tiny persons to other couples, according to a recent survey.

The survey is published in two related studies in the September issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility.

The researchers surveyed 1,350 women who presented for infertility at a large, university hospital-based fertility center in Illinois. The survey included 24 questions on patient demographics, obstetric and infertility history, and opinions about using extra tiny persons for stem cell research and selling extra tiny persons to other couples.

Assisted reproductive technology has resulted in the creation and cryopreservation of extra tiny persons at fertility centers across the country. It was estimated in 2002 that 396,526 tiny persons were in storage at U.S. fertility clinics, according to previously published research.

These tiny persons may be used for future pregnancy attempts, donated to other couples or agencies, given to researchers, or discarded.

Because infertility patients are the gatekeepers of these leftover tiny persons, it is important to understand their opinions, according to Dr. Tarun Jain, University of Illinois at Chicago assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, clinical IVF director, and lead author of the study.

When asked if using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research should be allowed, 73 percent of the 636 respondents who stated a definitive opinion answered yes.

"Infertility patients, in general, are altruistic, and it makes sense that they would try to advance medicine and help others," said Jain.

African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to approve of using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research, compared with Caucasians. Patients younger than 30, Protestant, less wealthy and single were also less likely to support using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research.

The researchers also asked infertility patients if they would be willing to sell their extra tiny persons to other couples, a practice that is considered ethically unacceptable by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

There is an emerging demand from infertility patients who cannot conceive using their own oocytes, or eggs, to purchase left-over, pre-existing tiny persons because it is a more cost-effective option than using an egg donor, according to the authors.

When asked if selling leftover tiny persons to other couples should be allowed, 56 percent of the 588 respondents who stated a definitive opinion answered yes.

Hispanics were less likely to approve of selling extra tiny persons when compared with Caucasians, but all East Indian respondents approved of the practice. Women who had never been pregnant were also less likely to approve, according to the study.

The authors say this is the first survey to examine the opinions of a general infertility population related to the use of leftover tiny persons and to analyze the results based on the patients' sociodemographic and reproductive backgrounds.

"Given the potential for a significant increase in the commoditizing of spare tiny persons, medical societies and policy makers may need to pay close attention to this controversial area," conclude Jain and co-author Stacey Missmer from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The majority of our fellow-citizens, including fellow church-goers, let’s face it, speak about IVF as though it’s a great benefit for humanity. As I’ve mentioned before, 2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469. What happened to the other 2,028,455 human embryos? Again, according to BioNews:

“Unused embryos in clinics under UK law may by consent be discarded, frozen, donated to research or donated to other infertile couples…” and, of course, many embryos are transferred to the womb only to miscarry or to be selectively aborted. If the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, now before Parliament, becomes law – it will be lawful to create human embryos for training purposes, for embryologists to practise on them in destructive experiments.

The greatest challenge facing the pro-life movement remains what it’s always been: to convince our fellow-citizens of the dignity and inviolability of the human person from conception. However, through lifestyles which include the use of abortifacient “contraceptive” drugs and devices and the acceptance of IVF procedures for infertile couples and for other purposes, such respect appears to be vanishing fast. This is an issue of huge significance for the future of the pro-life campaign worldwide and pro-life groups worldwide must address it head-on as a matter of urgency.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Schools and parishes must "protect our young people from cultures of death": Read and act on Bishop O'Donoghue's clarion call


"I encourage all our schools and parishes to continue to take steps to protect our young people from cultures of death, that seek to corrupt and exploit them" said Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue in "Fit for Mission? Church".

His clarion call to Catholics in his diocese is hugely significant for the future of pro-life work in the UK. I strongly urge readers to obtain copies of the new, expanded edition of this document from the Catholic Truth Society at £8.95.

The bishop's "Fit for Mission? Schools" can also be obtained from the CTS: check here. (£6.95)

They are must-reads for anyone who cares about the sanctity of human life and the primary rights and duties of parents to protect and to educate their children.

It's time stand up to the government, it's time for parents to assert their parental rights, and to to stand up to all authorities who seek to usurp those rights - whether it's the government, school authorities, or the Catholic Education Service. SPUC's Safe at School campaign is designed to enable parents to do just that.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

European Court of Human Rights and the international campaign to legalize abortion in Ireland


Earlier this month I referred to the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling in the case of Tysiac v Poland and the danger of a human right to abortion being created. Next year the ECHR is expected to hear a case of aimed at overturning Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. Lawyers for three women known only as A,B and C, claim that the Irish prohibition on abortion is a violation of human rights. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), along with a number of other international pro-life groups, has been given leave to intervene in the proceedings. We believe the case is inadmissible, unfounded and we will be calling on the court to throw it out.

The decision to allow the UK's SPUC, the US's Family Research Council and the European Centre for Law and Justice, based in Strasbourg, to intervene after the deadline for interventions had passed, is thought to reflect the importance the ECHR attaches to this case. Ireland’s Pro-life Campaign had previously been given permission make a submission and abortion advocates the Irish Family Planning Association and the New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are supporting the complainants.

This case has emerged at a time of mounting pressure on Ireland to legalise abortion. It's merely part of a much wider international campaign to force the Irish people to accept abortion on demand. While pro-abortion extremists in the House of Commons are determined to impose the Abortion Act on Northern Ireland against the will of the devolved Assembly, the ABC case is intended to undermine the Republic’s legal protection for unborn children. The fact that abortion advocates must resort to the courts further underlines their lack of support among the Irish people.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, has been working with the Society's lawyers on the case and has sent me the following observations:

"This is not the first time the abortion lobby has tried to use the human rights court in Strasbourg to attack Ireland’s abortion ban. Two years ago, in a similar case, a woman claimed she had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment because she was unable to have an abortion in Ireland. However since she hadn’t take her case to the Irish courts before bringing it to ECHR , it was considered inadmissible. There is a good chance that this case will be dismissed for the same reason.

"Until the recent Tysiac case the ECHR had been reluctant to get involved in abortion law, insisting that it was a matter for individual states to decide. Last year, however, the court ruled that Polish law, which only allows abortions on strictly medical grounds, violated the European Convention on Human Rights on the pretext that it lacked a procedure for resolving disputes over when an abortion might be permitted. The court said ‘Once the legislature decides to allow abortion, it must not structure its legal framework in a way which would limit real possibilities to obtain it.’ (Tysiac v Poland, Application no 5410/03 para 116)

"Bringing Ireland before an international court is an attempt to intimidate the Irish people and put pressure on their government to legislate for abortion, even in very limited circumstances. This will provide the opening the international abortion lobby wants. The CRR argued in the Tysiac case that wherever abortion is legalised it must be made accessible. Legalising abortion, even in extreme cases, could result in demands for the Irish health service to put in place arrangements and procedures to facilitate abortion. Hospitals would be required to employ doctors trained and willing to perform abortions. Anyone refused abortion would have a right to appeal that decision and there would be a continual legal battle to widen the scope of the law. Doctors unwilling to approve abortions would be required to refer women to doctors who would. This is part of the strategy to use human rights agencies to create a human right to abortion.

"At present Ireland has a much better defence against the arguments of the CRR than Poland had. Ireland’s law leaves no room for doubt or disputes. Both women and unborn children have an equal right to life, abortion is only lawful when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. The lives of the three women in the ABC case were never at risk nor were they denied appropriate medical treatment. In fact according to World Health Organisation statistics Ireland has the lowest maternal death rate is in world. The death rate in the Britain, which has the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, is over three times higher.

"Even if the court ignores its own criteria for admissibility it is still unlikely that it will uphold the claims of the abortion lobby but it is important that the Irish people are not intimidated.

"In 2004 the ECHR considered the case of Vo -v- France (Application no. 53924/00 para 84). Dealing with the rights of the unborn child rather than directly with abortion it concluded that ‘the embryo/foetus belongs to the human race.’ In the belief that belonging to the human race is the basis of human rights, the people of Ireland have established within their laws and constitution legal protection for the child in the womb. The Convention on the Rights of the Child also recognises that a child needs appropriate legal protection before, as well as after birth. If the ECHR is no longer determined to avoid questions about abortion law then it must accept that everyone who belongs to the human race shares the same fundamental human right to life."

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Attacking the sacred in the name of abortion and sexual “freedom”

Today I am going to take a look at deliberate acts of sacrilege committed in the name of abortion. This will make for disturbing reading but it is important to expose the depths to which the abortion lobby is prepared to sink in order to forward the culture of death. It says a great deal for the nature of their business that the pro-abortion lobby feels the need to attack everyone, including God, in the course of their work.

A runner-up this week is the self-publicist Danish artist who built sculptures of pregnant teenagers nailed to crosses in a parody of the crucifixion entitled "In the Name of God". It is being used as part of a crusade (the press release’s word not mine) against “the extreme Bible fundamentalists – with Bush and the Pope at the head” – in other words against an understanding of human sexuality to which the artist is opposed. The artist claims that the stunt “is not a global accusation against Christianity” and says he likes “progressive Christians” whom he says he speaks for. The artist claims furthermore that the stunt is an analogy not a caricature, with the teenager being a symbol of innocence subjected to "the ultimate punishment" like Jesus the lamb, but this is simply nonsense. The artist’s theological musings don’t disguise the reality that he has degraded a symbol sacred to Christianity and is causing maximum hurt and offence to Christians in order to make a statement. He apparently intends to parade his creations in various Catholic countries as well as Vatican city. The artist says his sculptures should not be seen as “a comment on the issue of abortion”; but, the fact is that the sculpture has been used in Nicaragua as part of the campaign to legalise abortion in that country. Mockery of Christ’s sacrifice for the whole of humanity and attacks on the sanctity of human life are, for Christians like myself, inseperably linked.

Moving across the globe to Argentina comes another contender for the Orwell Prize - the members of a pro-abortion rally who attacked a group of young people stationed outside a cathedral to protect it from desecration. According to European Life Network, which ran the story:

“The video clearly shows the pro-abortion protesters screaming insults and spitting in their faces, whilst the young people calmly pray and refuse to retaliate. This is the sort of despicable action the abortion lobby seems to revel in - an unprovoked attack on innocent people at prayer- and then place blame on the pro-lifers.”

Also featured in the video are men mocking the actions of priests and, according to Spanish speakers, members of the crowd screaming comments about Mary being a whore.

But in first place this week is a man who had himself filmed taking a consecrated host "hostage" during a Catholic Mass. It was then filmed next to a condom (the whole stunt was apparently supposed to be a protest against the Church’s teaching on sexuality). After that, it was sent to a Dr P. Z. Myers at the University of Minnesota, who filmed himself mistreating the host, piercing it with a rusty nail and throwing it into the dustbin.

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." George Orwell

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Tony Blair is undermining the faith of the church into which he has been received


The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is holding an “exciting event” in Los Angeles tomorrow to mark the midway point for the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 – a panel discussion including Tony Blair and significant Islamic figures.

The blurb says: “Recorded live, this will be a great chance for you, and countless others around the world, to discuss your thoughts and ideas on issues of faith and combating poverty - as well as encouraging understanding of and between faiths.”

The Mission Statement of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation is at pains to emphasize: “ … the Foundation will use its profile and resources to encourage people of faith to work together more closely to tackle global poverty and conflict … ”

The trouble is that Tony Blair has refused to repudiate the position his government promoted in words and action during his premiership – the promotion of abortion on demand in developing countries as central to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. This was also emphasized by Baroness Amos, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Blair’s government, in answers to questions in January 2003.

As I’ve said before, Tony Blair has reportedly got his eye on becoming president of the EU Council and he is using his “Faith Foundation” to promote his influence worldwide.

While there’s a possibility of him running for public office in any part of the world, citizens have a right and a duty to challenge him on his political record on pro-life matters. As a Catholic myself, I do not believe that politicians should be protected from public scrutiny simply by being received into the Catholic church.

I have no wish for Tony Blair to don sackcloth and ashes. I’ll do that for my own sins before I judge anyone else.However, Tony Blair’s position on abortion, abortifacient birth control, IVF and euthanasia by neglect is a matter of public record. As prime minister he was in the forefront of championing the culture of death not only in Britain but also, on abortion, around the world through the UK’s foreign policy. As long as he fails to repudiate his appalling legacy, Tony Blair is undermining the faith of the church into which he has been received.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Conflicting sex education policies in Catholic schools

The Vatican has just warmly endorsed two documents by an English diocese which support Catholic church teaching on life issues. Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary to the Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy has written supportively to Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, about his Fit For Mission? Church and Fit for Mission? Schools.

The congregation expresses surprise at the reaction to the document on schools, which it says was simply an instance of Bishop O'Donoghue doing his duty as a bishop to proclaim Catholic faith.

The schools document says that abortion and similar subjects should not be taught about as if the church were neutral on them. It says that sex education is a basic right of parents, and must be carried out under their close supervision and states: "Parents, schools and colleges must reject secularized and anti-life sex education, which puts God at the margin of life and regards the birth of a child as a threat."

The document on the church refers to the state-sponsored culture of death. The bishop suggests that legalised abortion in Britain may have led to widespread violence. He writes: "I encourage all our schools and parishes to continue to take steps to protect our young people from cultures of death, that seek to corrupt and exploit them."

Archbishop Piacenza says to Bishop O'Donoghue that the Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy: "… again lauds you for your courageous action."

Such a ringing endorsement stands in stark contrast to my post of yesterday on Lifetracks, a so-called personal development programme used in at least one Catholic school. This scheme includes references to a website which could help girls obtain abortions and fails to make clear the abortifacient nature of some birth control drugs and devices. Connexions, a government advice service for young people, is supporting and promoting the programme, according to Witness to Love, a teacher at the school. The Catholic Education Service says of Connexions in Catholic schools: "It is a service to be welcomed."

While Bishop O'Donoghue's policy has been approved by the church's highest authorities, the church's education body for England and Wales is encouraging the involvement of an organisation whose policies conflict with Catholic teaching and throws Catholic schoolchildren to the wolves, as I blogged recently. Something's got to give.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Delivering them into evil

I strongly urge my visitors to read Witness to Love's superb analysis of "Lifetracks", a personal development programme supported and promoted by Connexions in schools.

As you may know from my previous posts, Connexions is a government agency which provides careers advice to young people from 13 - 19 years old and which promotes access to abortion and abortifacient birth control amongst children under the age of consent without parental knowledge or consent.

Our Witness to Love is a Catholic English teacher working in Catholic High School. His PhD thesis, completed at the University of Nottingham, was on children's reading and the moral imagination - and he has a background in Psychology, English and Education. He and Martha, his wife, have six children. As an academic, a teacher and a father, he is uniquely well-qualified to comment on "Lifetracks" as his analysis shows.

"Lifetracks", despite Witness to Love's objections, has been used for several years in his Catholic school. He describes how the programmes marginalizes the family, and how its misleading and factually inaccurate "information" strips authentic Catholic teachers and parents of their authority, promotes the idea that there are no solid norms regarding human life, human love and lifestyles, and prepares children from 13 years old for sexual activity.

Witness to Love tells us that "Worksheets for children in years 9 and 11 contain 'information' about contraceptives which fail to mention the medical risks to women of taking the pill, nor the abortifacient properties of the 'morning after pill' or certain IUDs." He tells us that the programme contains "plenty of suggestions of where to obtain an abortion through the Connexions website".

Witness to Love suspects the "Lifetracks" programme is used in many schools, including Catholic schools in the UK. Please will you check if it's being used in schools attended by your children, grandchildren, or the children of your friends, neighbours or fellow-parishioners? Please let me know - at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

I have said it before and I will say it again. The government's providing access to children with abortion and abortifacient birth control and preparing them for sexual activity is the worst development in Britain since the passing of the Abortion Act. And as a Catholic, I say that Catholic authorities delivering our children into evil is the worst betrayal of their sacred trust that I can imagine. We cannot rest until the Catholic Education Service has been instructed by its chairman, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, to reverse its wicked policy of welcoming Connexions' advisers into Catholic schools in England.