Saturday, 1 August 2009

Powerful letters on assisted suicide appear in today's Telegraph

A pithy letter from Alison Davis (pictured) who has "many disabling conditions" is the first of three powerful letters in the Telegraph today on the implications of Thursday's Law Lords' judgment in favour of assisted suicide in the case of Debbie Purdy. Alison Davis writes:

" ... I once wanted to die and at that time doctors thought I did not have long to live. It took 10 years for me to change my mind. If the Purdy judgment had been in place then, I would have chosen the Dignitas route. No one would have known that the doctors were wrong in thinking my life expectancy short. I would have missed the best years of my life."
A long-serving healthcare manager from London writes: " ... Policies and procedures will be drawn up to 'structure' the decision to say goodbye to granny, and 'pathways' will be designed to provide a 'template' for the gruesome mechanics of her killing ... "

And the Revd Dr Lida Ellsworth, a hospital chaplain from Derbyshire writes, referring to the Royal College of Nursing's new "neutral"on assisted suicide: "To allow a situation in which people are implicitly encouraged to end their own lives prematurely is both cruel to them and corrupting to us."

Last Thursday all five law Lords agreed to Ms Purdy's demand that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should publish a policy setting out the factors that will be taken into account when deciding whether to prosecute people for assisting suicide. SPUC intervened in the case and we intend to make a representation to the DPP on this policy. SPUC will also be lending support to conscientious doctors and nurses who oppose assisted suicide.


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Friday, 31 July 2009

The media's dance of death with the euthanasia lobby

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has let me have his reflections on yesterday's press conference following the Law Lords' judgment in the Purdy assisted suicide case:
"The scene late afternoon yesterday on College Green (the lawn over the road from Parliament where the media often interview MPs) was extraordinary. TV and radio crews from the mainstream media (MSM) had gathered in force to interview Debbie Purdy, who had just won her assisted suicide legal challenge in the House of Lords. For two hours they interviewed Ms Purdy, collectively and separately. She was given as much time as she wanted to say whatever she wanted. A one-on-one interview with Nina Nannar from ITN seemed to last forever. Most noticeable was the entirely undisguised joy of many of the journalists, who freely exchanged warm banter - and even embraces - with Ms Purdy and the staff of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) (now sinisterly repackaged as Dignity in Dying). The VES and one of its barristers added to the sense of fiesta with a bottle of champagne.

"I don't doubt for one moment that both individuals and even whole agencies in the MSM are genuinely in favour of assisted suicide, hence their joy - and hence the relatively little coverage given to the judgment's critics. Yet there was a sense of studied artifice about yesterday's highly-organised media scrum and the mutually-imparted exuberance, as if it was manufactured. In that way yesterday's occasion was a species of Obamania and Blairmania. The MSM knows it's onto a good thing in promoting radical social change via telegenic front-persons like Ms Purdy, providing them with an almost endless supply of stories. The House of Lords judicial committee (known as the Law Lords, the judges in the case) was also of great assistance to the MSM-VES operation, not just in totally endorsing the pro-euthanasia cause, but also in providing a high-profile historic occasion, delivering the judgment as its very last judgment before its abolition.

"To the casual observer, yesterday's press conference would have appeared as a very normal human event, people celebrating the victory of a joint cause. Yet step back a moment and reflect on what was being celebrated - assisted suicide: killing, poisoning, elimination of those who lives are deemed no longer worth living - and the celebration is revealed as danse macabre, a dance of death. Ms Purdy, who is really just as much a campaigner as a ordinary citizen - is the secular patron saint of this cult of death, the VES her acolytes and the MSM her willing hagiographers."
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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Law Lords rule in favour of assisted suicide

This afternoon the House of Lords judicial committee (also known as the Law Lords), Britain's highest court, ruled in favour of Debbie Purdy's assisted suicide legal challenge. In brief, the court said that the authorities should say more precisely in what circumstances they will or will not prosecute someone who assists another person's suicide. The judges also suggested what the policy should contain. The judges made a distinction between people in one broad category of circumstances - terminally ill, chronically sick, bereaved, depressed, distressed, mentally competent, consenting - and those in the opposite circumstances. They also made a distinction between the motives (either supposedly altruistic or ulterior) of those assisting others to commit suicide. SPUC's full press release on the judgment is available here.

In SPUC's view the judgment is dangerous. It sacrifices the value of human life in the name of choice; it fails to balance sympathy for the relatives of a suicidal person with the need to affirm the worth of people with disability; and it discriminates against certain categories of vulnerable people.

One of the judges, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, made his support for allowing assisted suicide in some circumstances quite clear:
"What to my mind is needed is a custom-built policy statement indicating the various factors for and against prosecution, many but not all of which are touched on in the James case, factors designed to distinguish between those situations in which, however tempted to assist, the prospective aider and abettor should refrain from doing so, and those situations in which he or she may fairly hope to be, if not commended, at the very least forgiven, rather than condemned, for giving assistance."
In response to the judgment, SPUC will be making representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) about his prosecuting policy. Also, SPUC will be lending support to conscientious doctors and nurses to oppose assisted suicide.

Assisting suicide is dangerous, unethical, and unnecessary. It's dangerous because it sends out a signal to disabled people that they have less value than others. It's unethical because it is always wrong intentionally to kill an innocent human being. And it's unnecessary because medical treatment, good palliative care and/or personal support can overcome suicidal tendencies.

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Nurses oppose college's neutrality on assisted suicide

Two nurses wrote in yesterday's Daily Telegraph about the lack of rationale behind the Royal College of Nursing's adoption of a neutral stance on assisted suicide. Vicky Robinson and Ray Greenwood are calling on nurses to speak up before it is too late. I urge you to spread the article far and wide.

The authors ask: "How on earth can [the college] possibly have come to this conclusion? The sample on which it is based is not only tiny but also unfair. It is not as though the College has asked a random cross section of nurses what they think about legalising assisted suicide. Instead it has received responses from a sample of nurses who have clearly defined views on the subject and who almost certainly include committed supporters of campaigning organisations on both sides of the debate. To suggest that the College’s existing stance should be changed on the evidence of views expressed by less than three out of every thousand nurses is nonsensical."

They add: "So, what exactly is going on in the Royal College of Nursing? To attempt to represent the views of a tiny fraction of nurses as those of the whole profession is egregiously unjust and unfair. To suggest that the views expressed by 0.3% of nurses represent a fair picture of what the other 99.7% think is stretching the limits of credibility too far. If the College is to shift is position on such an important issue affecting nurses, it needs far more robust evidence than this."

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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Protests against nursing college's "neutrality" on assisted suicide continue

Today's Scottish Herald features an important letter from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Palliative Nursing Forum, protesting against the RCN Council's adoption of a self-styled "neutral" position on assisted suicide. Elaine Stevens, the forum's chairman, writes:
"AS THE experts in the field of end of life care, The RCN Palliative Nursing Forum has always openly opposed the introduction of assisted suicide in the UK for a number of reasons, which we are happy to discuss in more detail.

"We are therefore absolutely astounded that the Royal College of Nursing, which "represents nurses and nursing" in the UK, has decided to take a neutral stance on this matter, based on the opinion of 588 nurses from a total membership of around 390,000."
The letter follows from similar protests by SPUC, by disability rights group No Less Human (NLH) and by the Christian Nurses and Midwives group. Also published today is an excellent op-ed in The Telegraph by two nurses also attacking the way the RCN has misled the public about opinion within the nursing profession:
"To suggest that the College’s existing stance should be changed on the evidence of views expressed by less than three out of every thousand nurses is so nonsensical that one cannot help wondering what other motivation might lie behind the decision."
Indeed!

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Early days for any sea-change among population controllers

The government in the Chinese city of Shanghai is to encourage some parents to have a second child, according to reports. My initial reaction is to be sceptical about whatever the Chinese authorities are saying. Reports in the Western media of alleged relaxations of the one-child policy are usually propaganda by, or on behalf of, the Chinese Communist regime. In any case, even a two-child policy is a gross violation of fundamental human rights. Apart from the brutal way in which the Chinese authorities enforce population policy - forced abortions, forced sterilisations, punitive fines etc - couples have the right to have as many children as they want.

Also, just because the population controllers in one Chinese city may (I stress, may) have made a concession, doesn't mean they are repentant for the crimes they and other population controllers have committed under the 30-year one-child policy and are continuing to commit. The reported concession is for prudential, pragmatic reasons - averting a socio-economic collapse - rather than principles of human rights. The head of IPPF's affiliate in Korea is now encouraging Koreans to have more children, but has said nothing repenting of the pressure placed on Koreans in previous decades not to have children; in fact he justifies it. I pray that these population controllers will one day concede that population control is wrong and the danger of over-population is a myth - see the Population Research Institute's new website on the latter.

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Monday, 27 July 2009

Disabled people alarmed at nurses organisation new stance on assisted suicide

No Less Human (NLH), a disability rights group within SPUC, has expressed great alarm at the news that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has moved from opposing assisted suicide to taking a neutral stance on the issue.

Alison Davis, national coordinator of NLH, who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and other disabling conditions, and is a full time wheelchair user told the media this past weekend:
"As a group for disabled people, their families and carers, many of us have reason to remember with gratitude and affection the care and treatment given us from nurses, both in the past and currently.

"However, the RCN's shift from opposition to neutrality on assisted suicide sends out to disabled people and their supporters a very subtle but worrying message that we are not now as safe in the care of our nurses as we once were.

"This is true for me personally. In the past I felt able to implicitly trust my nurses, particularly at a time I remember well some years ago when I had a settled wish to die that lasted over ten years.

"Then I recall with much gratitude the care I received from one particular nurse who refused to accept my view that I was 'better off dead' and encouraged me to regain a will to live.

"Now I will no longer be able to trust my nurses so implicitly. I will have to wonder what his/her view is on the 'worth' and 'benefit' of my life, and whether they would support any decision I might make to ask for their 'assistance' in committing suicide.

"It is a terrifying thought, made worse by the knowledge that if Debbie Purdy were to win her case (asking clarification from the Director of Public Prosecutions to publish a policy of when he will or will not prosecute suicide 'assistants') it would be but a short step to allowing nurses to 'assist' suicides in this country.

"NLH strongly urges the RCN to revert to its position, held since 2004, of opposition to assisted suicide. If the RCN does not revert to its former position, it will work against the right of sick and disabled people to equal treatment."
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Cameron says government responsible for quangos' actions

The battle continues over abortion advertising on TV and radio. The Advertising Standards Authority's public consultation is closed, but Ofcom, the statutory regulator for broadcasting, makes the final decision – or does it?
In another context, David Cameron, the Conservative leader (who’s no friend of the pro-life movement), says that Ofcom “shouldn’t be making policy”. He adds:
"Too many state actions, services and decisions are carried out by people who cannot be voted out by the public, by organisations that feel no pressure to answer for what happens – in a way that is completely unaccountable.”
Mr Cameron concludes:
“Even when power is delegated to a quango, the minister remains responsible for the outcome.”
In other words, according to David Cameron’s theory, the government will be responsible if Ofcom authorises abortion agencies to advertise on radio and TV. Lord Carter, the Government’s broadcasting minister, in a letter received by an SPUC supporter, has written in a way that seems sympathetic to abortion advertising on the broadcast media.

SPUC is non party-political and no-one knows where the Tories or other parties stand on this issue, the outcome of which will have a profound impact on the welfare of women and on unborn children. Let’s not forget:
  • The Advertising Standards Authority’s proposal threatens to further commercialise the killing of unborn children.
  • It would completely disregard the adverse effect of abortion on women's health.
  • Abortion remains a criminal offence on the statute book. Advertising of illegal procedures is contrary to the public interest, advertising codes, and the law.
  • Only those agencies with sufficient financial resources would be able to advertise. Abortion providers can generate financial resources for advertising by charging more for abortions, whereas most pro-life advice services do not charge clients (or the NHS) for their services. Thus there will be a disproportionate opportunity for abortion providers to advance their cause.
  • The predominant wish in the community is for the numbers of abortions to decrease, not increase. However, advertising of abortion services would promote abortion, increase its incidence and thereby increase the harm to all involved.
Please join me in writing now to our MPs, to the prime minister and to party political leaders to oppose lifting the ban on abortion agencies advertising through the broadcast media. You can email your MP from here and contact Mr Brown here. SPUC's submission on the proposed changes in relation to abortion is here.

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Book now for SPUC's national conference, 4 to 6 September

It's important to come to this year's SPUC's national conference, 4 to 6 September, in beautiful Derbyshire. You can download the full programme here and the booking form here. Come and bring the family!
Conference topics include:
  • youth pro-life activism;
  • the dangers of the Obama presidency;
  • how to combat the British government's sex and relationships education proposals (including their drive to provide children under the age of sixteen with abortion and birth control drugs and devices without parental knowledge or consent)
  • the history and the growth of medical killing - for example, euthanasia by neglect - in Britain; and
  • SPUC's pro-life general election campaign.
The battle against abortion in Northern Ireland takes centre-stage at the conference with leading Northern Irish politicians speaking on Saturday.

Also speaking will be Bobby Schindler from the US, about his sister Terry Schiavo, who died in March 2005, from severe dehydration, allowed by the courts. This case mirrors the landmark decision in the case of Tony Bland who, like Terry Schiavo, was said to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) (better described as a persistent non-responsive state). The judges let doctors stop giving him food and fluids by tube, and thus allowed intentional killing by neglect for the first time in English law.

The Reverend Arnold Culbreath, a Baptist minister, who runs Protecting Black Life in Cincinnatti, is speaking at SPUC's conference about the dangers of the Obama presidency. As Monsignor Michel Schooyans put it recently at a Vatican conference, under President Obama, racism has been restored to the US in its pre-natal version.

Also speaking in Derbyshire at SPUC's conference will be Dr Jack Willke, the father of the US pro-life movement, on signs of hope in the worldwide pro-life movement. There's much else besides, including good fun for the young and the not-quite so young.

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