Saturday, 7 February 2009

Catholic universities in US and Rome place African bishops in impossible position

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, (pictured), the archbishop of Johannesburg, has denounced biological colonialism whereby "Harvesting ovarian human eggs in Africa will help meet the needs of embryonic stem cell research in industrialised countries" in his presidential address to the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference who met last week.

In the same address, in a clear reference to the
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) he refers to "unscrupulous campaigners" intending to legalize abortion. The CEDAW committee is notorious among pro-lifers for using the CEDAW convention to bully countries into allowing abortion, even though the convention doesn't mention abortion.

As I have mentioned before, I am very sorry to say that Cherie Blair, a fellow Catholic, endorses the work of CEDAW committee (as well as other radical pro-abortion groups) - and specifically its work on "reproductive rights". On a page in the Women of the World section of her website, Mrs Blair says:

"The [United Nations] Convention [on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ... is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women".

"Reproductive rights" is a term commonly used to include abortion on demand.

The page on Mrs Blair's website ends by linking to the CEDAW committee, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW convention.

With Catholic universities in the US and Rome inviting Cherie Blair, a leading promoter of radical pro-abortion campaigning groups, to speak on subjects such as human rights and family life, it places African bishops seeking to protect their countries from "unscrupulous campaigners" in a well-nigh impossible situation.

Irish Government's deceit on right to life of unimplanted human embryo

Pat Buckley (pictured) has an excellent post on the right to life of the human embryo in Ireland. He provides the legal background to a case in the Irish Supreme Court in respect of the right to life of three unimplanted embryos.

Pat Buckley tells us that Mr Donal O’Donnell SC representing the Attorney General and the Irish State, told the court that an embryo is not an “unborn” within the meaning of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and that, in his opinion, the destruction of fertilised embryos prior to implantation in a woman’s womb is permitted under law.

Then why, Pat suggests, did the Irish Government ask the Irish people in 2002 to vote in a referendum on an amendment to the Constitution to limit legal protection to the child implanted in the womb?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Why I won't be giving to the second collection for the Catholic Education Service

There's a second collection this weekend in many Catholic parishes in support of the Catholic Education Service (of England and Wales). I will not be making a contribution since I have a conscientious objection to doing so.

As a Catholic parent I am very concerned about the ambiguous policy of the Catholic Education Service which welcomes the presence in Catholic schools of Connexions. Connexions is a government agency which is committed to giving schoolchildren, under the age of 16, access to abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices without parental knowledge or permission. As a result of this policy, it's clear that children in Catholic schools are being given such access, in spite of Connexions' undertaking to respect the Catholic ethos of the schools.

Furthermore, The Telegraph reported in November that the National Children bureau and Sex Education Forum have called for every 11 to 18-year-old in England to be able to receive advice on contraception, pregnancy tests and screening for sexually transmitted diseases between lessons. Such advice can include confidential access to abortion.

The thinking behind the conclusions of the NCB/SEF reports is clearly set out in the Sex and Relationships Education Framework, the “core document” of the Sex Education Forum of which the Catholic Education Service is a member. It is a document to which all Forum members agree in order to meet membership criteria as it makes clear on page 4 of that document.

Surely the Catholic Education Service should dissasociate itself publicly from the NCB/SEF reports and begin actively and publicly to resist, and encourage parents, teachers and boards of governors to resist, the government's anti-life, anti-parent, pressures being brought to bear on schoolchildren?

Doctors must resist crime of euthanasia despite court decision, say bishops

A powerful statement from the Archbishop of Udine on the case of Eluana Englaro (pictured), who is facing death by starvation in the city of Udine, is part of a significant pattern. One Catholic bishop after another is appealing to health professionals to resist pressure to kill Eluana, despite last November's court decision granting her father permission to kill her by removing her feeding tube.

Like other outspoken comments by bishops, the Archbishop Pietro Brollo of Udine could not be more clear about the need for health professionals to resist the decision of the court that she can be starved to death. He says:
“Udine is ready to embrace Eluana Englaro, a daughter of this land. Upon learning of her arrival, I ask first of all that this woman be guaranteed care, hydration, nutrition and every means that someone who is sick, particularly someone who is very incapacitated, is due by those who have the professional duty in conscience to provide a cure.”
Last week I reported that Cardinal Severino Poletto, the archbishop of Turin, was reported to be urging Italian doctors to resort to conscientious objection if they are ordered to let Eluana Englaro—known as the Terri Schiavo of Italy—die of starvation.

And earlier this week, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, said in a newspaper interview that removing Eluana's feeding tube "is tantamount to an abominable assassination and the Church will always say that out loud."

Last weekend the archbishop of Bologna said in his homily: "In the body of this woman, and in her fate, there is an image of the fate of the West ... ".

These bishops are doing their pastoral duty to care for one vulnerable human being. Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae: "Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church". (EV, 3)

Their call for resistance also reflects papal teaching. Again Pope John Paul II wrote:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10)." (EV, 73)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Ethical issues concerning the Californian octuplets

All children are equally entitled to be welcomed and loved whatever the circumstances in which they came into this world. This truth, however, does not absolve us of the obligation to reflect on the rights and wrongs relating to the circumstances in which new people are conceived. I was therefore pleased to receive this response on the recent report about octuplets who have been born in California. It was sent by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, professional advisers on bioethics to SPUC.

The Californian Octuplets

The recent report that octuplets had been born in California is replete with uncertainties. The initial report simply stated that infertility treatment was used, possibly meaning that drugs were taken which increase the number of eggs released. However, a subsequent report in which the grandmother of the octuplets was interviewed, raised the possibility that the children resulted from the transfer of embryos left over from previous infertility treatment. In the same report, it has also become apparent that the existing six children of the woman were also conceived using IVF. The woman is single and it is unclear how the expensive treatments were funded. The family circumstances, in which the mother lives with her parents and her six existing children, appear very modest.

Presuming the reports to be accurate, there are a number of significant ethical issues that arise.

First, the intentional conception of children who will not have a father is unethical regardless of whether infertility treatment is used. There is a considerable consensus among experts that the best developmental circumstances for children exist when they are raised with their natural mother and father. Circumstances may arise following conception in which that is not possible, in which case options exists which are directed to protecting children and providing the best alternate circumstances. But to set out with the intention to deny children a father or mother shows disregard for their well-being.

Second, IVF clinics act irresponsibly by participating in such conceptions. The report that a sperm donor was used raises all of the ethical problems associated with sperm donors, in particular whether the children will ever get to know who their biological father is.

Third, if fertility drugs were used to increase the chance of multiple pregnancies when the health risks to children and mother are so well known and documented, the medical professionals involved have acted unethically by contributing to the initiation of such a high risk pregnancy. If multiple embryos were transferred, the clinics involved have also acted unethically, but with even greater irresponsibility given the apparent direct intention to cause a high risk pregnancy. A high order multiple pregnancy like this present serious risks to the life and health of the mother and the children in both the short term and long term.

Fourth, depending upon which IVF processes were used, numerous embryos may have been discarded as part of the ‘normal’ course of infertility treatment. This is one of the present realities of IVF treatment, regardless of the number of embryos transferred to the woman. Calls for infertility treatment to involve the transfer of just one embryo do minimize the chances of multiple pregnancies; however, even the transfer of a single embryo involves a range of ethical problems (see single embryo transfer document).

Fifth, both reports carry with them the implication that it would have been appropriate to abort some of the children once the high number was known. Such ‘selective reduction’ is a particularly horrible process that, if followed, would have meant the surviving children would eventually become aware of their chance survival whilst there brothers and sisters died at the abortionists hand. What psychological damage that would produce is unknown but potentially profound. It is to the mother of the octuplets credit that she refused to have any of the children’s lives terminated.

In conclusion, whilst the natural healthy birth of octuplets understandably raises awe and respect for medical staff who use their skill and expertise to ensure a safe arrival, the use of such skill in IVF treatment which deliberately places children and mother at such high risk cannot be met with the same admiration. Neither can admiration be held for medical professionals who so readily discard embryos as a normal part of infertility treatment. Even less can any admiration be held for some of the same medical personnel who would be ready to ‘selectively reduce’ - that is terminate - the lives of some of those children, whilst they grow alongside their siblings.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

UK Government depicts unborn as fully human and alive in anti-smoking campaign

I welcome and congratulate the government on their new campaign aimed at expectant mothers who find it tough to stop smoking. This has got to make sense, as research shows. The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths point out in their research factfile on reducing the risk of cot death:
"Evidence from a very large number of studies worldwide consistently demonstrates that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS."
According to PA News:
"The ad campaign, from NHS Smokefree, will highlight how every smoked cigarette restricts essential oxygen to the baby. A baby's heart has to beat harder every time a pregnant woman smokes, it will show."
The NHS Smokefree website and its pregnancy calendar makes fascinating reading. Whilst it's account of the development of the baby in the womb is not entirely accurate (eg the baby's heart starts to beat between 21 - 25 days from fertilisation and not between week 6 - 7 as the NHS calendar indicates), nevertheless the text is full of references which are clearly intended to bond mothers to babies who are depicted as fully human and fully alive. For example, under week 3 - 4, it states:
"Well done! Quitting smoking is the best decision you can make for you and your growing baby."
And under Week 8 - 12, it states:
"The baby is now called a foetus meaning 'young one'". SPUC could have written that!
Now does anyone mind if I say something blindingly obvious? Exactly the same Government which focuses on the humanity of unborn babies, starting with fertilisation, in order to target mothers who find it tough to stop smoking, is also targeting mothers in order to offer to have their babies killed. Here's the language that's used about unborn babies by organizations funded by the government to do its dirty work:

In describing abortions, Marie Stopes claims that “gentle suction is used to remove the pregnancy from the uterus” when describing surgical abortion, FPA talks about “taking pills to expel the pregnancy” and BPAS, when describing a late term dilation and evacuation, states: “Forceps are used to remove the pregnancy.” You can find more examples here of what I'm saying.

This is government-funded propaganda at its worst. As George Orwell put it: “Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

I do hope - for the sake of children and their parents - that the government campaign to stop expectant mothers from smoking is successful. I also hope that the public will recognize more and more the government's inconsistency and treachery in promoting the killing of unborn children - even seeking to target every secondary school in the country, including church schools, providing access to abortion clinics for children as young as eleven without parental knowledge or consent - through the use of misleading language by their pro-abortion partners as they seek to cover up their crimes against humanity.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Purdy assisted suicide appeal is misguided

SPUC has been granted status as an intervenor in the case brought by Mrs Debbie Purdy (pictured) against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who has declined to publish a prosecuting policy specific to assisted suicide. The case is being heard today by the Court of Appeal.

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said:

"We have great sympathy for Mrs Purdy because of her medical condition, but her legal case is misguided and dangerous. Suicide is a course of action which everyone in society, from individuals to parliament naturally discourages. If we favour suicide for individuals who are suffering, we send a message to all those who are sick or disabled that their lives are not worthwhile."Naturally, those who are sick and disabled often feel they are a burden on others. That is a burden that society must carry willingly and with love, not an excuse for helping them express their sadness by self-destruction.

"We welcome the involvement of the DPP in this case and we commend his legal arguments. His firm resistance to this attack on the law is vital to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone.

"We are appalled by the continuing attacks on the right to life of those who are elderly or disabled or suffering from progressive degenerative disease. These attacks which would be firmly resisted by public bodies like the BBC if they were directed against young offenders, victims of abuse, or other high suicide-risk groups, are promoted by those who regard disabled people as a burden to be disposed of if the individual loses a sense of their own worth.

"The recent case brought before the GMC against Dr Iain Kerr, the Glasgow doctor to gave lethal drugs to a suicidal patient, indicates the importance of having well-enforced systems to stop doctors becoming the arbiters of life and death over vulnerable patients."

Father's right to kill his daughter will result in countless other killings

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the chief of Human Life International's Rome office, told me this morning that the fate of Eluana Englaro (pictured), granting the right of a father to kill his daughter, would lead directly to the killings of countless other Italian patients.

Early yesterday Eluana was transferred from a clinic near Milan to a hospital in Udine where her feeding tube will be removed resulting in her death by starvation and dehydration.

"Eluana's father is legally responsible for her killing" Monsignor Barreiro said. "He has been fighting for years to have her feeding tube removed and now he has decided to move her to a hospital where this will be done."

Monsignor Barreiro said that he completely agreed with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, the archbishop of Bologna, who said in his homily last weekend: "In the body of this woman, and in her fate, there is an image of the fate of the West ... ".

"Eluana is highly symbolic of the struggle with the culture of death" Monsignor Barreiro told me. It would create a precedent whereby judges, against the law, can decide it's right to kill patients. We are not fighting for Eluana's life because she has limited signs of consciousness but because of her dignity as a human being."

As I pointed out last week in relation to Cardinal Poletto's comments on Eluana's fate, Monsignor Barreiro's position reflects the constant teaching of the Catholic Church re-stated on 1st August 2007 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in "Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration" and further explained in the CDF's helpful commentary on their responses to the US bishops.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Christian nurse reportedly suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery

In a country in which Dame Joan Bakewell, who has made several pro-euthanasia statements, is appointed by the government to represent elderly people ... in a country in which one of the most quoted philosophers on pro-life issues, Baroness Mary Warnock, says that that people with disabling conditions have a duty to die prematurely ... in a continent in which the European Commission requested the EU Network of Independent Experts to publish a legal opinion promoting, without any foundation, the right to abortion and the right to euthanasia ... I get very worried when I read today that a Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has reportedly been suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

Obama’s order to abort world’s poor: Pro-abortion lobbyists target Kenya

Watch out very carefully, particularly if you live in a developing country … The international pro-abortion lobby is going into overdrive to create a completely false image of reaction in the developing world following Obama’s executive order to abort babies in developing countries.

Under the headline “American abortion debate reaches into Nairobi slums” the Associated Press have put out a story saying: “Aid workers and experts say President Barack Obama's decision to allow aid money to flow again to international groups that offer abortion counseling will help restart programs desperately needed in Africa, the continent hardest hit by a so-called ‘gag rule’.” Read on – and you will find one pro-abortion professional after another being quoted, working for groups like Marie Stopes International, Population Action International, Family Health Options Kenya (which was legally registered in Kenya and affiliated to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), in 1962); all of them purporting to speak for the poor in Kenya, in support of legalized abortion. They’re virtually an international professional army of pro-abortion lobbyists – and the weapons they use (principally the weapon of misrepresentation) are aimed at the unborn and their mothers.

Unfortunately for this army of international pro-abortion professionals, today’s Sunday Nation reports that the vast majority of ordinary Kenyans, belonging to one of the world’s poorest nations, are opposed to proposed legislation (most of them totally opposed) which would promote and allow easy access to abortion on demand, with virtually no safeguards to protect unborn children. The Sunday Nation story says:
“Fifty six per cent of Kenyans totally oppose such a law, with a majority of them living in rural areas, according to research by the Steadman Group conducted last month.

“However, it is not that the remaining 44 per cent support abortion. Of these, 30 per cent sit on the fence, saying abortion should be legalised only if the life of the mother is in danger.”
And, unfortunately for this international professional army of pro-abortion lobbyists, there are good men in Kenya prepared to speak the truth – like Cardinal Njue, who called on Kenyan Catholics to "Stand firm against this evil of abortion" in a powerfully worded message; and Dr Stephen Karanja, the head of the Kenyan Catholic Doctors Association, who said about the result of the US election: “They have no business electing a person who is going to destroy our countries. And that is what they have done. This is something that a lot of people don’t realise, that what these Americans do affects innocent people thousands and thousands of miles away.”

If you want to do something practical to oppose Obama’s appalling decision, one of his first actions as US President, to abort the world’s poor: take the time to write now to President Mwai Kibaki, the Kenyan President, and to Vice-President Stephene Kalonzo Musyoka of Kenya, calling on them to resist US and other financial and political pressures, and, in particular, to oppose the Reproductive Health Bill drafted for Kenya by the pro-abortion lobby. Take time, if you can, to read here a clear analysis of this eugenic and coercive bill. You can write to them by post at: Office of the President, P.O. Box 30510, Nairobi, Kenya and Office of the Vice President; Jogoo House Wing A, Taifa Road, PO Box 30478, NAIROBI, Kenya, 00100 (As far as I can see, email addresses for the Kenyan President and vice-President are not publicly available, unless someone can enlighten me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk