Saturday, 3 October 2009

"Never give up!" Vote postponed on pro-abortion report in Council of Europe

Earlier this week SPUC called on pro-lifers throughout Europe to lobby their delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Yesterday they were due to debate a radical pro-abortion report promoting abortion as a means of family planning and population control in developing countries.

According to the European Centre for Law Justice, (ECLJ) which produced a masterly briefing rebutting the pro-abortion report, "the vote was put off because it was believed the resolution would not have had a majority of support".

They say:
"Mrs McCafferty, Rapporteur of a pro-abortion recommendation, has delayed in presenting her text to a vote of the Parliamentary Assembly of PACE. She asked for a delay, after being surprised by the sudden and growing opposition within the public and the members of the Assembly."
Congratulations to the European Centre for Law and Justice, to our supporters and to all pro-life lobbyists throughout Europe who worked together on this matter. No doubt Mrs McCafferty will try again and we must all be ever-vigilant. But as I have said before: Pro-life lobbying works. Never give up!

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Order SPUC's new mini-petition flyer on proposed TV abortion adverts

SPUC was encouraged last month by the delay to the consultation on allowing abortion adverts on TV because of the massive public opposition to the proposals.

We are encouraged but we're not complacent! The abortion industry worldwide demands constant vigilance on the part of everyone who cares about civilised values - such as respect for the right to life, enshrined in international law, and care and compassion for women harmed by abortion.

The battle against these dangerous proposals continues. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has produced a new leaflet (pictured) with the purpose of boosting the petition. The leaflet contains a mini petition so that people who support our stance can join the campaign and collect signatures from their family and friends, if they wish. You can order our new leaflet - 50, 100, 200 etc - and copies of the petition, by writing to me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Lifting the ban on abortion adverts on TV would have a profound impact on the welfare of women and on unborn children:
• The proposals threaten to further commercialise the killing of unborn children.
• It could suggest that there were no serious adverse effect of abortion on women's physical and mental 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. Most pro-life advice services charge nothing. Thus there will be a disproportionate opportunity for abortion providers to advance their cause.
• Most people want the numbers of abortions to decrease, not increase. However, adverts for abortion services would promote abortion, and thereby increase its incidence.

SPUC's petition to the Prime Minister provides an important opportunity to demonstrate to him, in the run-up to a general election, the strength of public feeling against such a change to advertising regulation. The closing date for the petition has been extended to 30 November to give supporters more time to gather signatures. Please do all you can to gather signatures at churches, on the high street, at retail parks and at popular bus and train stations. The more signatures we gather, the greater are our chances of stopping this dreadful proposal.

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Friday, 2 October 2009

Mahatma Gandhi opposed abortion and contraception

Today is the 140th birthday of the late Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian civil rights leader. President Barack Obama has said today that: "We must renew our commitment to live his ideals and to celebrate the dignity of all human beings." The Telegraph reports that Mr Obama "has been given a book of Gandhi quotes to mark the anniversary."

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, reminds me that at the pro-abortion Women Deliver conference in London in 2007, one of the Indian speakers offered the thought of Gandhi as an inspiration for the anti-life lobby's work. Anthony asks rhetorically: "Surely this man was aware that Gandhi condemned both abortion and contraception?" The anti-life lobby don't let facts get in the way of a good story!

Although Gandhi was, sad to say, in favour of euthanasia (and voluntary sterilisation), Gandhi wrote extensively against contraception* - in fact, he debated against Margaret Sanger, the founder of the worldwide abortion movement. Here are some of his best quotes:
  • "It seems to me clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime." (quoted in Krishna Kripalani's "All Men Are Brothers: The Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi")
  • "If it is contended that birth–control is necessary for the nation because of over-population, I dispute the proposition. It has never been proved. In my opinion, by a proper land system, better agriculture and a supplementary industry, this country is capable of supporting twice as many people as there are in it today."
  • "Population...regulation or restriction by artificial methods is a calamity of the first grade, whether we know it or not."
  • "This little globe of ours is not a toy of yesterday. It has not suffered from the weight of over-population through its age of countless millions. How can it be that the truth has suddenly dawned upon some people that it is in danger of perishing of shortage of food unless the birth-rate is checked through the use of contraceptives."
  • "Artificial methods are like putting a premium upon vice. They make man and woman reckless."
  • "Man easily capitulates when sin is presented in the garb of virtue, and that is what Marie Stopes and others are doing."
  • "In my opinion, it is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth–control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her."
  • "I urge the advocates of artificial methods to consider the consequences."
  • "I know what havoc secret vice has played among school boys and school girls. The introduction of contraceptives under the name of science and the imprimatur of known leaders of society has intensified the complication and made the task of reformers who work for purity of social life well-nigh impossible."
  • "Contraceptives are an insult to womanhood."
*The manufacturers of contraceptive drugs and devices acknowledge that their products may, as one of their modes of action, kill a developing embryo by preventing him or her from implanting in the lining of the womb. The population control movement and western governments promote contraception claiming that it reduces the incidence of abortion. Professor David Paton, who holds a chair in Economics at Nottingham University, has said: "I find no evidence that greater access to family planning has reduced underage conceptions or abortions. Indeed, there is some evidence that greater access is associated with an increase in underage conceptions..."

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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Suicidal and vulnerable people abandoned because of Mental Capacity Act

SPUC Pro-Life has commented on the tragic death of Kerrie Wooltorton (pictured) and warned that vulnerable, suicidal patients like her are being abandoned because of the Mental Capacity Act.

Anthony Ozimic of SPUC Pro-Life commented: "If Kerrie Wooltorton's doctors decided not to treat her because her intention was suicide, they assisted her suicide. Assisting suicide is still a crime, and a prosecution should be considered in this case to highlight the perverse state of the law. It appears from press reports that doctors either did not have regard for the concerns of M/s Wooltorton's relatives, or that they ignored their wishes. Her death occurred before the Mental Capacity Act came into force, yet it is being used to justify denying her right to live.

"The coroner's verdict in this case is disgraceful. It sends out the message that if you are depressed and attempt suicide, doctor's need not treat you. Depressed people are being officially treated as worthless. It is clear that M/s Wooltorton's relatives regarded her as having committed suicide while suffering from depression.

"At the time the Mental Capacity Act was passed, SPUC Pro-Life said Parliament should reject it because suicidal patients would be abandoned. The government dismissed our concerns and Kerrie Wooltorton is dead as a result. The Mental Capacity Act is a charter for euthanasia by neglect. Gordon Brown and David Cameron claim they're against assisted suicide. They should now agree to scrap the Mental Capacity Act before more vulnerable people die."

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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

SPUC defends vulnerable lives on BBC Politics Show

Earlier this week Chris Brennan of SPUC Bristol branch was interviewed for BBC 1's Politics Show on the subject of assisted suicide. Chris was opposed by Sir Terry Pratchett, the author, who has a form of Alzheimer's. Sir Terry emphasised individual choice and the terrible nature of Alzheimer's. Chris responded that all human life is precious and should be protected. He said that the availability of assisted suicide will make sick people more vulnerable and afraid of being a burden on others. He added that the law against assisted suicide is being changed by stealth. Well done Chris!

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Major battle on wording of HIV/AIDS resolution in Geneva

Pat Buckley, who has this week been representing SPUC at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, has just sent me the following report:
"The 12th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva is currently considering a draft resolution on HIV/AIDS. This resolution contains many good proposals but has also generated considerable debate and controversy.

"There have been sustained attempts by Brazil, the US, Canada and the European Union to retain references in the draft resolution to the 'UN International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights'. Whilst the 12 guidelines in themselves are uncontroversial, they have been inserted into a very controversial document containing an explanatory text and commentary.

"The international community rejected this document during the 2001 special session on HIV/AIDS, because the commentary
  • seeks to overturn all laws that limit sexual activity, including laws against 'adultery, sodomy, fornication, and commercial sexual encounters' i.e. prostitution
  • calls for nations to legalize homosexual marriage
  • seeks to impose explicit sexual and homosexual education on children, as well as other public information programmes that (according to the explanatory text) should 'not be inappropriately subject to censorship or other broadcasting standards'
  • seeks to impose 'penalties on anyone who vilifies people who engage in same-sex relationships'. Although it is unclear what 'vilification' means in this context, and what 'penalties' would be sought, there is concern that religious leaders may be held criminally liable for upholding the biblical teaching that homosexual acts are sinful. Islamic countries consider the document to be offensive.
"The current draft resolution seeks to reference the document in a way that separates the 12 basic guidelines from the commentary and explanatory text. This approach was used previously in a resolution on violence against women in the 2005 Human Rights Commission. There is, however, strong opposition to this. Many countries wish to return to the 2001 solution where all references to the document were removed from the outcome document.

"The draft resolution was initiated by Brazil which has made it clear that they wish to retain the references but also wish to have a consensus text. Egypt on the other hand has warned that if the references remain they will not join consensus and will push for a vote on the text when it comes before the plenary later this week. The Holy See would also prefer that the references to the guidelines are deleted."
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Dana tells Ireland: Don't be afraid to vote no to Lisbon

Dana Rosemary Scallon (pictured), the pro-life former MEP, has just issued the following statement, "Don't be afraid to vote no says Dana", regarding Friday's vote in Ireland on the Lisbon treaty:
"I am not afraid to vote No to Lisbon, said Dana Rosemary Scallon today. The people must know the truth, that the guarantees are worthless and that the EU will have primacy over Ireland's Constitution. Lisbon is not about tidying up the democratic process - it is about tying up the democratic process.

"As former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing stated, when he welcomed the Lisbon Treaty wording: 'Public opinion will be led - without knowing it - to adopt the policies we would never present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text - but will be hidden or disguised in some way.'

"I cannot be bought. I have always told the truth about what I saw happening in Europe, especially when it threatened our Constitution and our democratic rights as citizens of Ireland. I have no axe to grind, I am not seeking political office and as I don't run a budget airline I don't have to tread carefully and change my mind for the sake of a few euros.

"During my time in office from 1999-2004, the building of an EU Constitution and the move towards an EU Superstate was clearly set out. I stated this publicly many times and urged our political leaders and public representatives to uphold our Irish Constitution - they all refused to do so.

"A simple name change will not change the fact that adopting the Lisbon Treaty will undermine our sovereignty and political independence and profoundly weaken Ireland's position in Europe and is the path to a European Constitution, having primacy over Ireland's Constitution.

"Former Irish Taoiseach, Dr Garett Fitzgerald also stated on June 30, 2007, that proposed changes to the Constitutional Treaty 'had no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum.' Chancellor Merkel of Germany and Jose Zapatero, Prime minister of Spain confirmed that 'The substance of the constitution is preserved' and that 'not a single substantial point' of the constitutional Treaty has been let go. Even former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern noted that there had been 'no dramatic change to the substance of what had been agreed in 2004'.

"We have already rejected this Lisbon Treaty and in response our political leaders apologised to Brussels.

"The Lisbon Treaty will give the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights primacy and a legally binding status. The fact is that in the case of conflict between the rights contained in the EU Charter and those rights contained in our Irish constitution, the Lisbon Treaty will give the final say to the EU Court of Justice over our Irish Supreme Court.

"Voting NO will protect Ireland's Constitution in matters such as the definition and protection of the family; Children's rights; Parent's rights; the protection of life and the child embryo; the right to a fair trial; the right to strike etc. Any so-called 'guarantees' and protection of our Irish Constitutional position on these points are not part of the Lisbon Treaty, they therefore have no legal weight what-so-ever and cannot be relied upon. They are, as we have been told many times, worthless.

"This is no longer about the politics of right and left, it is about right and wrong. I can no longer stay silent about the wilful betrayal of Ireland's Constitution.

"Just as in Article 12.8 of Ireland's Constitution the President states 'In the presence of Almighty God I do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution...."; Article 9.2 calls upon everyone stating: "Fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the state are fundamental political duties of all citizens".

"People should not be afraid to vote no, proclaim loyalty to the State and fidelity to the nation. Our Constitution should be upheld not diluted for political and personal gain.

"Many decent members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens know that the parties are not listening to their grass roots. The electorate know in their hearts that the democratic will of the people is being ignored. As a nation we cannot return to the years of the begging bowl. All of Europe is waiting for the Irish people to once again defend, speak up for and protect those who have no voice. Only the people can protect democracy and people must not be afraid to vote NO."
Ireland For Life has also just issued a statement making similar points to those made by Dana.

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Monday, 28 September 2009

Help defend Europeans born and unborn against radical anti-life report

As I blogged recently, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will debate this Friday (2 October) a radical pro-abortion report. Help defend Europeans, born and unborn, against the report. Please contact the UK delegates to the assembly (contact details) to urge them to reject the report.

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has produced a masterly briefing rebutting the report, promoted by Christine McCafferty, the veteran anti-life British MP. Here are some of the best points from the ECLJ's briefing:
  • "The ECLJ is particularly concerned about the [report's] underlying promotion of abortion as a means of family planning and population control."
  • "The Council of Europe has no authority or competency to promote abortion."
  • "[T]he [report is] based upon unsupportable concerns regarding the need for greater population control in developing countries."
  • "Promoting abortion violates the core values upon which the Council of Europe was built by greatly offending the protection of human life and dignity, and respect for national sovereignty."
  • "International law does not provide a so called 'right' to abortion … Only the right to life is recognized."
  • "The European Convention on Human Rights explicitly contains a provision guaranteeing the right to life. The Parliamentary Assembly cannot infer from the Convention that the right to life does not extend to the unborn, and cannot lower the degree of protection afforded by the State to human life."
  • "Attacking the legitimacy of any country’s abortion laws is not within the competency of the Council of Europe."
  • "The Explanatory Memorandum’s recommendations are premised in large part on unfounded assertions about the need for population control and advance the cause of the neomalthusianism philosophy."
  • "[I]improving agricultural technology has allowed food production to more than keep pace with population growth."
  • "Indeed, in 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that by fully employing present agricultural technology, the world could feed 30 to 35 billion people."
  • "Malthus’s theories eventually gave rise to the eugenics movement of the late 19th and 20th Centuries that divided human beings into 'superior' and 'inferior' races and called for the segregation or elimination of the 'inferior' races
  • "[T]he population control movement has also been used as an instrument of imperialism against less-developed countries."
  • "The money to be spent on population control in less developed countries can be better spent on basic health care needs and economic development in those countries."
  • "[T]he availability of abortion as a component of population control programs coupled with the widespread availability of technology that allows parents to learn the sex of their unborn child has led to a disproportionate number of abortions of unborn girls."
Pictured is Charlemagne, commonly known as the Father of Europe.

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Pro-life day of prayer and fasting tomorrow

Tomorrow is a national day of prayer and fasting for life, organized by the Good Counsel Network. See my post of earlier this month which explains the religious background to this important project and how people can take part.

Do remind others who may be interested in joining in this initiative.

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Slovakia also standing up for life at UN Human Rights Council

More from Pat Buckley, who has this week been representing SPUC at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. As well as Malta, Slovakia is standing up for life. Pat has just sent me the following report:
"The United Nations Human Rights Council reviews periodically the situation on human rights in UN member-states. The council has just released the report of its review of Slovakia. In the review process, one of the recommendations made by the Holy See calls on Slovakia to 'defend the right to life, based on article 15 of the Constitution'. The Slovakian response to this is:

'Article 15(1) of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic clearly states that everyone has the right to life and that human life is worth protecting even before birth. In the spirit of these principles, the amendment to the act on healthcare of September 2009 contains details on mandatory instructions given to women preceding the written informed consent of the woman, as a precondition for carrying out abortions and introduces the obligation to advise on other alternatives. The law also provides women who want to give up their newborn child with the possibility of anonymous birth, as well as the possibility to place a newborn in a publicly accessible incubator- a so-called baby hatch.'"
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Sunday, 27 September 2009

Cambridge research reminds us why we must never give up in our battle for life

It's been reported in a Cambridge University study published last week that people in a so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS) (or more correctly, persistent non-responsive state) still learn. It provides a welcome reminder that we should never give up in our battle for life and for the right to life, however disappointing and tough that battle may seem at times. Whatever may be the personal views of the Cambridge University researchers, their study is a reminder of the mystery and worth of every human being and that there's no such thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This view of humanity is reflected in universal human rights instruments.

As director of SPUC, like anyone else in the pro-life struggle, I certainly value such reminders from time to time.

SPUC was granted intervener status in Debbie Purdy's legal challenge on assisted suicide. During the past year the Society spent over £50,000 in seeking to defend the value and inviolability of every human life in that particular matter.

Disastrously, two months ago, senior judges in the House of Lords gave a judgement supporting assisted suicide. Earlier this month, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the senior Law Lord who handed down the Purdy judgement, expressed his personal support for assisted suicide, according to The Daily Telegraph. Last week, Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in response to the Law Lords' judgement, issued guidelines which will be a useful guide to anyone who wants to promote the suicide of their troublesome relatives with impunity.

So did SPUC waste its supporters' money as the only intervener in the Debbie Purdy case? In my opinion, no.

One of the fundamental reasons why legal tolerance of assisted suicide is wrong is that it promotes the idea, already so prevalent in society, that there's such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. It's one thing for a person to want to commit suicide. It's another thing for another person to agree that it's right for you, in your circumstances, to do so and to help you to do so. It's even more dangerous when society moves towards legal tolerance of assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide rightly remains a serious statutory offence. As Professor John Keown pointed out yesterday in The Daily Telegraph, the Law Lords' recent ruling which helps to minimize someone's risk of prosecution for this offence, is "surely unprecedented, unsound and unconstitutional".

Whether SPUC and our fellow pro-life groups succeed or fail in our battles for the value and inviolability of every human life, we must continue in that fight.

The Cambridge University study on people in persistent vegetative state is particularly poignant, as it was a Law Lords' ruling which resulted in the death by dehydration of Tony Bland, who was in a persistent non-responsive state, in 1992. The growing practice of silent euthanasia in Britain stems from that decision, as does too, I'm sure, the Law Lords' latest ruling in the Debbie Purdy case.

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