Saturday, 11 July 2009

Vatican condemns grave "crime" of abortion as Obama meets Pope Benedict

"In the designs of Providence there are no mere coincidences," according to Pope John Paul II.

How fitting then that the Vatican should choose the day, when news of the meeting of Barack Obama (the USA's abortion president) with Pope Benedict is flashing around the world, to clarify Catholic teaching on the "grave sin" of "formal co-operation with abortion".

In an article in Osservatore Romano, released yesterday, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made a point of praising the role of His Excellency Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho, the former archbishop of Olinda and Recife, for giving every pastoral care to a nine year old girl who had an abortion when it was found she was expecting twins, and her family. Last March I wrote about the courage and compassion of the greatly vilified Archbishop Sobrinho who announced publicly that all those involved in the abortion have incurred in excommunication latae sententiae (automatically) "except for the little girl, who is not morally responsible for this tragic act."

The article in Osservatore Romano explains the inappropriateness of the term "therapeutic" abortion, saying: "As for the problem of certain medical treatments with the end of preserving the health of the mother, two different cases should be distinguished: on one hand, a procedure which directly causes the death of the fetus, often called inappropriately a 'therapeutic' abortion, cannot be any more licit than the direct murder of an innocent human being; on the other hand, a procedure which is not itself abortive may have, as a collateral consequence, the death of the child: 'If, for instance, saving the life of the future mother, regardless of her state of pregnancy, would urgently demand a surgical procedure, or other therapeutic measure, which could have, as an accessory consequence, in no way willed by itself, but unavoidably, the death of the fetus, such act could not be called a direct attack against innocent life. In such conditions, the procedure may be considered licit, as other similar medical interventions, as long as a good of great worth, such as life, is involved, and it is not possible to postpone it until after the birth of the child, nor to resort to another efficacious remedy' (Pius XII, Address to the 'Fronte alla Famiglia' and the Associazione Famiglie Numerose, November 27, 1951)."

Finally, in a paragraph which may well be taken to refer to the strongly pro-abortion doctor who carried out the abortion on the nine-year old Brazilian girl, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminds the world:

"Regarding the responsibility of health-care personnel, the words of Pope John Paul II should be recalled: 'Their profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life. In today's cultural and social context, in which science and the practice of medicine risk losing sight of their inherent ethical dimension, health-care professionals can be strongly tempted at times to become manipulators of life, or even agents of death. In the face of this temptation their responsibility today is greatly increased. Its deepest inspiration and strongest support lie in the intrinsic and undeniable ethical dimension of the health-care profession, something already recognized by the ancient and still relevant Hippocratic Oath, which requires every doctor to commit himself to absolute respect for human life and its sacredness' (Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, n. 89)."

Like millions of other pro-lifers around the world, I am delighted that the Vatican has vindicated the pastoral actions of the great Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho in the tragic case of the nine year old Brazilian girl - and I am grateful for the providential timing of the publication of this article in light of yesterday's meeting between Pope Benedict, and the US president who is so assiduously promoting abortion around the world as well as in the US.

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Anglican leader speaks out on abortion

Fr John Fleming has drawn my attention to a letter on abortion by Archbishop John Hepworth (pictured), the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in The Messenger Journal.

It powerfully states both Christian opposition to abortion and Christian love for those who have had an abortion. Amongst other things, the archbishop says:
"Let us be quite clear about this. To procure the death of an unborn child is a heinous crime against the most defenceless person. It is of its very nature so deeply sinful that is severs the relationship with God. Like the first humans, who turned their backs on the source of goodness and truth, and chose to hide from God, it is a sin that drives a person from the Garden of God. As of old, the gates of Paradise are shut, and we are powerless to open them and let ourselves in. Only the Son of God had that power, and He only succeeded after a titanic and brutal battle with the powers of darkness, in which the Cross was his weapon. In so many parts of today's Church, the awesome reality of sin has been lost. In almost every part of the world, the destruction of unborn life is argued over as if it were a policy debate of government. But it is a matter with consequences in eternity, as well as brutal consequences for our own world, as the once Christian nations depopulate an entire generation.

"In new ways, in the artificial creation of embryos for research and pharmaceutical manufacturing, we are extending the frontiers of risk to the unborn. And Christians are losing the battle in our parliaments and bureaucracies in almost every place. And from the Holy Father down to the merest person who dares to stand in defiance, ridicule is heaped on the defenders of life.

"Our task is made more difficult by the love we owe to those who are driven to abortion. Jesus clearly told those who stood with stones ready to only begin the execution of the woman before Him if they were without sin. They dropped their stones, one by one, and slunk off. The woman He commanded to 'sin no more'. So must we drop the stones, and show the love of a Christian people to those who have been driven to do evil by a world that puts a higher value on convenience and appearances and finances than on life. For men whose power forces women to abortion, a deeper alienation from God lies in wait."
You can read the full letter here.

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Friday, 10 July 2009

Interesting article series against the population control agenda

Spiked is an online magazine and the successor to Living Marxism. One would therefore expect the editorial line of a magazine of the political left to be solidly against pro-life concerns, in the same way as The Guardian. In fact, some of the main contributors to Spiked have over the years published a number of articles arguing cogently against the population control agenda, especially its promotion by environmentalists such as Jonathan Porritt. Do visit Spiked here for a list of some of those articles (additional relevant articles can be found web-linked at the bottom of each article).

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Thursday, 9 July 2009

Pro-life nations resist pro-abortion assault at UN ministerial meeting in Geneva

European states with laws against abortion have resisted successfully an attempt by other EU member-states to introduce abortion into a UN declaration.

Ministers of UN member-states, concluding the high-level segment of the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva this week, have agreed on a declaration on global public health following tough negotiations which involved two late-night sessions.

Some EU member-states, collaborating with the international pro-abortion lobby, attempted to include a right to abortion in the declaration. Malta, Poland and Ireland, assisted by pro-life experts, resisted the attempt and the final declaration contained no new abortion rights language.

Pat Buckley, who represented SPUC at the meeting, said from Geneva:

"The outcome was a victory for life and for the family. States with a pro-abortion agenda should realise and accept that there is no agreement among either EU or UN member-states to recognise a right to abortion. In fact, such a right is impossible, as the right to life of unborn children is upheld in international human rights law, which needs to be interpreted correctly by nation-states."

Malta made a statement in the plenary session on Thursday which reiterated the nation's ongoing commitment to supporting the life of the unborn:

"[W]e wish to reiterate our strong opposition to the use of abortion as a means through which issues relating to sexual and reproductive health may be dealt with. Any discussion of rights in connection with reproductive health cannot take place outside the framework of one of the most fundamental human rights - the right to life. Malta strongly believes that the right to life extends to the unborn child from the moment of conception, and that therefore the use of abortion as a means of resolving health or social problems was a denial of that right. Termination of pregnancy through induced abortion is illegal in Malta. Consequently we consistently disassociate ourselves from, and consider invalid, all statements or decisions that use references to sexual and reproductive health, directly or indirectly, to impose obligations on anyone to accept abortion as a right, a service or a commodity that may exist outside the ambit of national legislation. We do so again at this meeting."
* The full title of the declaration is: "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health", ministerial declaration, 2009 high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council presented by the President of the Council.

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Beautiful video "99 balloons" about disabled children

Alison Davis, the leader of No Less Human (a group which works to promote a positive view of disability) has sent me this message about the powerful film "99 balloons" (click on the image below to view it):

"The video about the life and death of Eliot Hartman Mooney, who had Trisomy 18 (Edward's syndrome) is very beautiful and moving and I think it would be an excellent idea for religious audiences (of any kind) to watch it, and realise that God's love can (and is) shown through the births and deaths of very disabled children."



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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

URGENT call to lobby today to stop infanticide in Brazil

Firstly, many heartfelt thanks to all those who lobbied members of the House of Lords against assisted suicide, resulting in last night's victory for the right to life and for the vulnerable.

Secondly, pro-life leaders active in Latin America urgently request pro-life supporters worldwide to lobby in support of a bill (the Muwaji Law) to stop the practice of infanticide among indigenous people in Brazil. This bill will be considered today (8 July). Please email a brief message to the representatives of Brazil's Human Rights Commission listed below, urging them to support the Muwaji Law. You might like to draw upon and add to the following points:
  • Infanticide, in common with every intentional killing of an innocent human being, is contrary both to ethics and to international human rights law.
  • This norm is legally binding, and applicable regardless of race, nation, class, sex or religion.
  • If certain cultural traditions threaten life - a basic right for every human being, regardless of race - then culture must yield.
  • Muwaji's Law does not threaten native cultures; it simply promotes the idea of educating the tribes about options for the family other than infanticide.
  • This is an effort called for and supported by hundreds of indigenous families all over Brazil.
  • Permission for infanticide would mark a regression in society to the low ethical standards of the ancient world, in which human life was regarded as disposable and the weak treated with contempt.
  • Allowing infanticide in one case will result in intolerable pressure for it to be allowed in other cases, possibly extending to the euthanasia of older children and disabled adults.
Please email:

Mr. Dom Dimas Lara Barbosa
President of CNBB
secgeral@cnbb.org.br

Congressman Luiz Couto
President of the Human Rights Commission
dep.luizcouto@camara.gov.br

Congressman Chico Alencar
Representative from Rio de Janeiro
dep.chicoalencar@camara.gov.br

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Assisted suicide amendment defeat welcome

The House of Lords this evening rejected Lord Falconer’s pro-assisted suicide amendment to the government's Coroners and Justice bill. The vote was 194 to 141, a majority of 53.

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, has this evening told the media that:

“This was a significant victory for the right to life. Time and again Parliament has blocked attempts to undermine the protective ban on assisted suicide. It’s time for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society – now repackaged as Dignity in Dying – to drop its parliamentary campaign, a campaign which is offensive to very many people who live with, or care for those with, disability or terminal illness.”

Paul and Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, have filed the following report about this evening's debate:

The Falconer amendment was opposed powerfully by Baroness Campbell, the disability rights advocate who has spinal muscular atrophy. In a moving speech, she argued that the amendment would send a signal of despair to the disabled and the terminally-ill. She said that the Falconer amendment would change the “traffic-signal” from red to green for ending the lives of disabled people. This would be a major change in the way our culture regards people who are disabled. She noted that no major disability organisation supported the amendment – only a minority of vocal disabled individuals supported the measure.

Baroness Finlay, a palliative care specialist, pointed to the inadequacies of the amendment’s medical provisions. The second doctor’s signature requirement was ineffective in protecting the patients of the serial-killer Dr Harold Shipman. Several hundred of their falsified death certificates were signed by other doctors without raising any serious questions.

Lord Carlile QC, in a passionate demolition of the detail of Falconer suicide amendment, argued that the amendment would create a slippery slope. Lord Joffe claimed there was no slippery slope in Oregon, where assisted suicide is allowed. (Pro-life experts have shown that official information about assisted suicide deaths in Oregon is massively and sinisterly deficient.)

Lord Neill of Bladen said that, if Lord Falconer’s amendment was passed, it would be "inevitable that people will be pressured to signing up for death".

Baroness Kennedy QC, contrary to expectation, opposed the amendment. Although generally favouring personal choice, she argued that in the situation of offering assisted suicide to the terminally ill, the offer of choice would result in an erosion of choice.

The Bishop of Exeter, who has an adult daughter with Down’s Syndrome, pointed out that the “compassionate liberalism” advocated by the proponents of the Falconer amendment might be empowering for people like the articulate and self-assured members of the House of Lords. But for people who were less able to assert themselves – and many who are disabled are sometimes heavily dependent on others for assistance in making decisions – such empowerment is illusory or worse. Disabled people may internalise the notion that others know best, leaving them severely disadvantaged by such so-called choices.

Lord Walton of Detchant, an eminent physician, described Ludwig Minelli, the director of Dignitas Swiss suicide centre, as "something of a fanatic" He added that palliative care in The Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, was in decline.

Lord (William) Waldegrave said allowing assisted suicide could lead to discriminatory healthcare rationing.
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BREAKING NEWS Lords vote against assisted suicide amendment 194 to 141

This evening (7 July) the House of Lords voted against Lord Falconer's very damaging amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill. More soon.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

URGENT Contact Lords immediately, assisted suicide debate today

This afternoon or this evening, Lord Falconer's very damaging amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill is expected to come up for debate (see SPUC's previous campaign alert for in-detail information about the amendment). Please contact peers NOW and ask them to oppose Lord Falconer's proposal.

Some excellent resources, which can be forwarded as weblinks to Lords, are:

This blog also has many posts about assisted suicide and the Falconer amendment.

If you have been in correspondence with any Lords over the C&J bill, please consider forwarding one of these links to them, perhaps quoting whatever snippets of the articles are most telling. If you haven't been corresponding with Lords, please contact one or more of them now: you could simply select a Lord or Lords to write to who has the same initial as your surname: Lords are listed in alphabetical order on SPUC's website campaign page http://www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Many thanks for your help.

(For information - please note that other threatening amendments tabled by Lord Alderdice and Lord Joffe have been withdrawn in the past day or so.)

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How Henry Kissinger ruined my Wimbledon final

Seeing Henry Kissinger at Wimbledon for the tennis (pictured) last Sunday prompted reflections which quite put me off the final.

Richard Ehrman, director of Policy Exchange, a non-party-political think-tank, had written in The Times last Saturday about how shifts in the world population give a military advantage to "underdeveloped" countries. The problem, he said, is that “even for a power as mighty and sophisticated as the US, occupying a Third World country with a fast-growing population means putting an uncomfortably large number of boots on the ground”.

Curbing the growing population of third world countries was very much on the mind of Henry Kissinger back in 1974, the man of whom we caught a glimpse on TV last Sunday as he sat in the crowd at centre court to watch the Wimbledon final. As I mentioned in my post on abortion and racism two weeks ago Henry Kissinger, Nixon's Secretary of State, was the author of the infamous NSSM 200 (National Security Study Memorandum 200), which recommended that the United States should promote population control in the developing world in order to secure American interests.

Kissinger’s study set the stage for the Chinese to adopt a strict population control policy in co-operation with UN agencies in 1979. The belief that population growth, at home and/or or abroad, is bad for a country's economic and security interests rapidly became official dogma in America, China, the UK and many other countries.

How disturbing, then, to read in The Times on Sunday that Dr Baige Zhao, head of the national population and family planning commission of China, spoke at a conference in London last week about how 400 million fewer births in China saved 1.6 billion tones of carbon emissions. He argued: “The same principles of population management that have been applied in China can be applied in the UK. The UK could learn from the Chinese experience.”

This is the China where only two months ago, Zhang Minan, a law professor at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University and an expert on the the government’s population policy, told Reuters: "'They (the authorities) do have the right (to force abortions) ... " The same report interviewed a young Chinese woman, pregnant with four-month-old twins, who last February had been dragged into a maternity ward and had her belly injected with a needle in forced abortion. This is the China whose forced abortion policy was backed by Barack Obama in one of his first actions as President by restoring funding to UNFPA (and other organisations promoting abortion overseas), whose involvement in the forced abortion regime in China and elsewhere is all too well documented.

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Monday, 6 July 2009

Lord Lester's particularly weak article promoting assisted suicide

Lord Lester QC (pictured), the Liberal Democrat peer, has written a particularly weak article in favour of assisted suicide in today's Independent newspaper. I comment below in square brackets on a few of Lord Lester's points. You may like to draw upon my comments when you contact members of the House of Lords about amendments to undermine the law against assisted suicide. Time is running out, as the Lords will debate the amendments tomorrow, Tuesday, 7 July. Please read and respond to SPUC's action alert.

Lord Lester wrote:

"We all hope that, as our lives come to an end, we will be well cared for and will die peacefully and with dignity. We all hope – but many know of others who have had "bad deaths" and fear a similar fate for themselves." [JS: Lord Lester does not define a "bad death". There is a false presumption here that the possibility or probability of a "bad death" justifies an intentionally premature one i.e. assisted suicide/euthanasia.]

"We should celebrate life [JS: That's a bit rich coming from a supporter of abortion and embryo destruction!], and when death comes we should help the dying to end their lives as they wish [JS: But the very point of making assisted suicide legal is to allow the killing of people who are not dying i.e. not yet in the last hours, days or fortnight of life. There is a confusion here between dying and terminal illness, which is a disease likely to cause death within six to 12 months. Also, a patient's wish to be killed does not justify killing them.], and with respect for their dignity. [JS: But assisted suicide undermines people's dignity by sending the message that some people are better off dead.]

"The wonders of modern science have greatly prolonged the normal span of human life, but modern medicine has also created difficult ethical problems about how to balance the right to life and the patient's right to choose to accept or refuse medical treatment when life has become unbearable and death is imminent." [JS: But there is no difficulty here: it is ethical, and has always been lawful, for a patient to refuse to accept treatment where death is imminent. Lord Lester speaks of when 'life has become unbearable', yet what should weighed is not whether life is unbearable but whether the patient's treatment is unbearable.]

"[N]ot everyone wants to die in a hospice and not everyone wants doctors and nurses to strive to keep them alive." [JS: But no one is forced to die in a hospice. Palliative care can be delivered at home or in other settings, and hospice patients sometimes leave hospice to die at home. Treatment which is futile, burdensome disproportionate to benefit or where the patient's death is imminent may ethically and legally be withdrawn. There is no justification for assisted suicide or euthanasia.]

"Like many others, I believe that we need a legal framework which would allow doctors and nurses to be able lawfully to treat terminally ill patients to relieve their suffering as well as pain, even though it would be a virtual certainty that the treatment would shorten their lives." [JS: In fact, correct medical treatment, such as correct doses of painkillers, actually lengthens rather than shortens life. Doctors and nurses treat to relieve suffering every day. Poisoning a patient to death with an overdose is not medical treatment but intentional killing.]

"The Coroners and Justice Bill currently before the House of Lords modernises the language of the Suicide Act 1961, but the Bill does not address the current failure of the law to distinguish between those who maliciously encourage suicide and those who compassionately assist the death of a terminally ill, mentally competent adult." [JS: But assisted suicide is in itself malicious. The intentional killing of an innocent human being is recognised in international human rights law as intrinsically -and therefore always - wrong, and as the worst of crimes.]

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Sunday, 5 July 2009

A rebuke to society's double-standards around ability and disability

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has this evening sent me his reflection after watching today's marathon Wimbledon men's final:
"Today and for the last fortnight millions around the world have been watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament. All the players have, of course, above-average physical powers, and many are regarded as attractive enough to be fashion models.

"Yet, in its wonder at the players' powers and beauty, is not our society in danger of ignoring the daily victories of countless unknown people over the challenges of disability? Many people rejoice at the endurance involved in a five-set Grand Slam final, a round-the-world yacht race or the conquering of Everest. Yet the same people recoil when it is suggested a disabled child should be allowed to be born, or an injured rugby player stopped from an assisted suicide, or an elderly stroke victim given continued treatment and care.

"A rebuke to society's double-standards around ability and disability is the inspiring story of Nick Vujicic. Nick was born without limbs, except for one foot attached to his left thigh. He is now a motivational speaker, preacher and sportsman. Do visit Nick's website Life Without Limbs. As a child, Nick overcame suicidal thoughts when he realised the courage of disabled people was an inspiration to others. Assisted suicide, in contrast, is a counsel of despair to the disabled."
Please use this blog-post when you contact members of the House of Lords about amendments to undermine the law against assisted suicide. Time is running out, as the Lords will debate the amendments as early as this Tuesday, 7 July. Please read and respond to SPUC's action alert.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk