Saturday, 2 May 2009

False claims in mercy-killer's case

Supporters of euthanasia make an untrue assertion as they advance their arguments, Pat Buckley (left) of European Life Network writes. They use the lack of palliative care as grounds for killing people. Pat is writing in the context of an article in the Irish Times by Professor Len Doyal, the British-based bioethicist. The latter is quoted as writing: “Why allow any vulnerable patient to suffer a slow death when a quick and painless one could easily be provided were non-voluntary euthanasia to be legalised?”

Note here the non-voluntary aspect: Professor Doyal would appear to want it to be possible for people (medics, family, hospital managers, social workers?) to decide that patients can be killed. Pat replies to the professor: “Where palliative care is unavailable, the focus of any humane campaign must be to make it available, not to promote killing as an alternative.”

Friday, 1 May 2009

Please sponsor a young man's pro-life walk

Many of you will know the Good Counsel Network. They are one of the few entirely Catholic pro-life groups in Britain. They work with women who have decided to have an abortion. Instead of abortion, they offer counselling, advice and support. This includes housing, childcare, regular financial support, baby goods such as clothes, food, baby milk, prams and toys. The network helps the girls and women to get their life back on track which, in turn, benefits the baby before and after birth. Approximately 70% of the women and girls whom Good Counsel see choose life for their babies.

Mr Conor Carroll, (pictured right, 21), who works for the network, will soon be taking part in a 75-mile, two-day religious walk across France known as the Chartres Pilgrimage. He is seeking sponsorship for his part in the walk (from Paris to Chartres) and he promises to pray for those who sponsor him.

There is an online way of sponsoring him at www.justgiving.com/conorcarroll

Thursday, 30 April 2009

SPUC goes on Twitter

SPUC has launched a Twitter service whose homepage is http://twitter.com/spucprolife. Today we've tweeted on:
  • an archbishop's dire warning about the new US secretary of health
  • Irish taxpayers' money indirectly supports a pro-abortion FPA lawsuit
  • how parents are suing the NHS for their son's "wrongful birth".

British PM's wife at conference where abortion is promoted

I'm very sorry to see that Sarah Brown (right), the wife of Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, has been speaking at a conference in Los Angeles at which the legalization of abortion is being promoted for African nations. The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (whose email address is info@pncius.org) reported: "The Vice President for the Africa Alliance of pro-abortion NGO IPAS, Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah, former Minister of Health, Ghana, spoke on the Maternal Health Panel and advocated for the legalization of abortion as part of a comprehensive health strategy."

Dr Brookman-Amissah is quoted as saying elsewhere: "Women tend to seek abortions when pregnancies are not supported by their partners, families or communities, when the pregnancy may threaten the woman’s health or survival or when the foetus has abnormalities. It’s not for immoral reasons ... Induced abortion is one of the safest medical procedures."

All too often maternal mortality is advanced as a reason for legalising abortion. In 2oo4, an article was published that had been written by Jeanne E. Head, a retired labor and delivery nurse, and vice president for international affairs and UN representative for the National Right to Life Committee, and by Laura Hussey, a Ph.D. student and research assistant for the National Right to Life Committee. The piece was called Does Abortion Access Protect Women's Health?.

They say: "... the main factor that has dramatically diminished abortion-related fatalities since the 1930s and '40s until today is not legalizing the procedure so much as improving the overall quality of national health-care systems."

They also write: "UN publications provide several examples in which legal abortion and lower maternal mortality rates do not coincide. Consider Britain, where abortion has been broadly legal for decades, and the nearby Republic of Ireland, which has long banned the practice. According to the 1990 UN Demographic Handbook, Ireland's maternal mortality rate for 1988 was some three and a half times lower than Britain's."

They conclude: "... the facts suggest that maternal mortality can be reduced in the developing world the same way it has been done in the developed world since 1941--by improving basic and maternal health care and the general health status of women, not by legalizing abortion."

They dragged me in and injected my belly with a needle: Reuters report on China

Today, Reuters reports on forced abortions in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

By way of complete contrast, a couple of months ago, the British government decided to send more than a hundred paintings by the English Romantic artist J M W Turner to be exhibited in Beijing – after the successful visit of the Terracotta Army to London – as part of a "wider approach to building understanding between the two countries".

Why should it be acceptable to make such a gesture towards modern China, as if the Chinese government runs some sort of civilised regime, when it has legislation in force which permits savage brutality to women and their babies? (See my answer below.) Can you imagine such a gesture being made to Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, or, come to think of it, Adolf Hitler's Germany?

Reuters reports:

" ... three young surrogate first-time mothers were discovered by authorities hiding in a communal flat. Soon afterwards, district family planning and security officers broke into the flat, bundled them into a van and drove them to a district hospital where they were manhandled into a maternity ward, the mothers recounted to Reuters.

"'I was crying 'I don't want to do this'," said a young woman called Xiao Hong, who was pregnant with four-month-old twins.

"'But they still dragged me in and injected my belly with a needle," the 20-year-old told Reuters of her ordeal which happened in late February.

"The woman, who declined to give her full name for fear of reprisals, said the men had forced her thumbprint onto a consent form before carrying out the abortion ... "

Reuters goes on to report that Zhang Minan, a law professor at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University and an expert on the issue, says:

"'They (the authorities) do have the right (to force abortions) ... "

In answer to the question I pose above: It's OK for Britain to deal with the Chinese government as if they run some sort of civilized regime, because, as I reported last year, the UK government, (along with Obama's administration and virtually all Western governments) are complicit in China's policy of forced abortions. The UK is the fourth highest funder of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), according to their annual report, and UNFPA's involvement in China's one child-policy is very well-documented.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

States must beware of self-styled experts who manipulate human rights

I have mentioned before the infamous Yokyakarta principles which, amongst other things, called on States to "ensure that all sexual and reproductive health, education, prevention, care and treatment programmes and services respect the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities, and are equally available to all without discrimination"; according to the World Health Organisation's definition "sexual and reproductive health" services includes the provision of abortion on demand.

In "A brief commentary on the Yogyakarta Principles", Jakob Cornides (pictured), a lawyer and writer on human rights, explains that the Yogyakarta Principles were adopted in 2007 by a self-styled ‘International Panel of Experts in International Human Rights Law and on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’.

An abstract summarising Mr Cornides' paper warns: "While the comments presented in [Mr Cornides'] paper mainly concern the substance of the Yogyakarta Principles, it should be noted that the way in which these Principles came into being provides even greater reason for concern: this is a deliberate attempt to manipulate our understanding of ‘Human Rights’ in order to promote the self-serving social agenda of a small cluster of vociferous and politically well-connected advocacy groups. States should beware of such manipulations, which, purporting to impose on them obligations and values to which they never have signed up, have the potential of undermining not only the credibility of the self-styled ‘experts’ who put their names under this document, but of ‘Human Rights’ and, ultimately, of international law as a whole."

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The trouble with the Catholic Education Service position on sex education

Ms Oonagh Stannard, the chief executive and director of the Catholic Education Service (CES), said today that the CES supports the principle of making sex education lessons compulsory, providing that what was taught was in line with parents' wishes and upholds the ethos of the particular school. (Schools must teach pupils about babies, Aids and sex, The Independent)

There are a number of problems with the Catholic Education Service's position to which SPUC is urgently seeking answers.

Arguably the biggest problem is summed up in the Catholic Education Service's letter to the Government on 26th August, 2008, in which Ms Stannard (pictured with Mr Edward Balls MP, the children's and schools minister) writes: "I support the concept of encouraging more schools to draw on the support of external professionals and on having a cadre of well trained, skilful people tooled up to delver SRE [sex and relationships education]. I would suggest, however, that there is some anxiety, certainly in Catholic schools about the role of external professionals in SRE. Sometimes this is because of the one day visit/hit approach to the SRE curriculum and at other times it is because [of] a lack of clarity about the role of the school nurse. Much could be done to assuage concerns by introducing the expectation that schools develop a protocol/written agreement of collaborative working etc to cover such external professionals working in schools, accompanied by strategies to ensure that it is implemented. This could be a powerful weapon in building parental confidence and ensuring that partners from other agencies and visitors are appropriately backed and supported in their work."

The trouble is that the CES used strikingly similar language in their document on the pro-abortion government advisory body, Connexions. They say: "the work of the Connexions Service is making an increasing impact on young people in Catholic schools and colleges. It is a service to be welcomed".

The CES document continues: "[Connexions] has also caused some concern in our Catholic community because its wide remit to provide advice and guidance to young people includes matters of personal development, and by implication, sex and relationships (SRE) education. These are, of course, the responsibility of the governing bodies of our schools and colleges and there will usually be robust policies to accompany SRE. Colleagues in dioceses, schools and colleges have been rightly concerned to ensure that the work of personal advisers within the Connexions Service should not compromise our Catholic rights and the particular ethos of our schools and colleges."

Now, 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. Connexions' advisers are trained to tell young people that they can obtain birth control drugs and devices, and abortion, without parental knowledge or consent - as can be seen in Young People and Sexual Health, a reader for those participating in the Connexions training programme, a copy of which I can provide to readers (write to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk).

Tragically, it's all too clear that Connexions are promoting access to abortion and abortifacient birth control among Catholic schoolchildren in spite of their undertaking to respect the Catholic ethos of the schools.

As a Catholic parent who has been working in the pro-life movement for 35 years, I regard the CES policy of welcoming Connexions advisers into Catholic schools as possibly the greatest ever betrayal of the sanctity of life and families in Britain.

Will the Catholic Education Service, in the light of their concern not to compromise "Catholic rights", be reversing its position on welcoming Connexions into Catholic schools? Will they also insist, in the light of their letter to the government (see above), that external professionals visiting Catholic schools must not include representatives from pro-abortion groups or anyone trained to advise children of their alleged legal right of access to abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices without parental knowledge or consent?

Monday, 27 April 2009

SPUC holds nationwide pro-life witness

On Saturday, SPUC supporters took part in nearly 60 Pro-Life Chains throughout the UK. Christine Hudson, organiser of the event in Plymouth, Devon, writes: "These pictures are to prove that we did hold pro-life chains along Exeter Street in Plymouth and that it was freezing cold, blustery and raining at times – a heroic effort all in all! I have taken all [Saturday] afternoon to warm through. This time last year we got sunburnt!" Windswept participants in the Plymouth chain are pictured above. We also put together (mainly for the media) a page with links to photographs of various chains.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Defeating the myth of the right to abortion

Last year the Human Rights Law Review published Abortion as a Human Right – International and Regional Standards by Christina Zampas and Jaime Gher of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. In a review of this article, Dr Jakob Cornides (right) points out that its authors, though writing in a scholarly journal, work for an organisation with a pro-abortion agenda.

The authors of the article describe how the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa calls on countries to "protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the other or the foetus." Disturbing though this is, Dr Cornides points out that this protocol is unique among human rights treaties in describing abortion as a right. He also questions whether the African nations which signed it were sincere in doing so, particularly since development aid can be conditional upon following donor countries' social agendas.

Zampas and Gher concede that, even in liberal western countries, abortion is not enshrined as a right; Dr Cornides points out that no nation's law actually permits totally unrestricted abortion.

The authors of the article claim that UN conferences on population and women that were held in Cairo in 1994 and in Beijing the year after brought so-called reproductive health into the realm of social justice. However, that term was not intended to include abortion, as has been clarified by the European Commission and the USA.

Dr Cornides' review undermines the credibility of what is claimed to be a growing consensus in favour of abortion as a right, as well as questioning the mandate of various experts who pronounce on the issue.

Turning to how abortion might be justified in terms of natural law, he writes: "[I]t is uncontested that the human fetus is human from the very moment of its conception, as it comes into existence through the union of a human sperm and a human ovum. It is [at] this moment that the unique genetic identity of a child is created. From that moment, the fetus does not pass through different stages of evolution - from amoeba to homo sapiens – but is and remains human throughout gestation." This is the pure, stark truth which our pro-abortion opponents must constantly obfuscate and flee.

Zampas and Gher actually make no reasoned case for abortion. Rather, they appeal to UN documents, as if the United Nations somehow conferred humanity on the world's people.

Crushingly, Dr Cornides writes of the authors: " They speak of ‘human rights’, but do not appear to know who is human, nor what corresponds to … human nature, nor what a right is. The ‘rights’ they are advocating float around freely; they are neither grounded in positive law, nor in natural law, nor is there, despite claims made by the authors, a true political or social ‘consensus’ to support these purported rights."