Thursday, 3 December 2009

Book now for the 3rd Int'l Youth Pro-Life Conference, March 2010

Lucy McCully, education officer at SPUC Scotland, has sent me the information below about the 3rd International Youth Pro-Life Conference, 19-21 March, 2010, Beardmore Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland. The theme of this year's conference is: "'I exist, therefore I am': Exploring personhood and dignity".

Lucy writes:
"The 3rd International Youth Pro-Life Conference promises to be better than ever. This year we will be exploring the concept of personhood with respect to abortion, euthanasia and embryo experimentation. This residential weekend will include a programme of expert international speakers in the fields of Bioethics, Philosophy, Human Rights, Post Abortion Trauma and much more. As well as listening to excellent speakers, the delegates will be able to converse with pro-life organisations from all over the world.

"This conference is an excellent opportunity for young people from across the globe to network and socialise, make friends and empower one another to spread the pro- life message. The cost for the weekend is only £80 which includes food, accommodation and conference fees.

"If you are aged between 16 and 35 years and would like to attend this fun-filled weekend, please contact Lucy McCully on lucy@spucconference.org.uk or + 44(0)141 221 2094. Please also visit www.spucconference.org.uk where you will be able to book via PayPal shortly.

"To see a glimpse of last year's conference, see the video report and look us up on Facebook"
Programme:
(please note that this programme is subject to change. Regular updates on speakers and programme will be posted on www.spucconference.org.uk)

Friday:
  • 4pm registration
  • dinner
  • introduction and welcome
  • informal ice breaker: movie and popcorn
Saturday:
Session 1 The Embryo
  • "Establishing life from conception" Stephen Barrie MA, Linacre Centre
  • "When does personhood begin?" Dr Clare McGraw MA
  • "NaPro technplogy - a pro-life alternative to IVF" Dr Eileen Reilly MD, consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist
Session 2: Abortion
  • "Personhood of the unborn child" Stephen Barrie MA, Linacre Centre
  • "Abortion as a racial issue" Rev. Arnold Culbreath, Protecting Black Life, US
Session 3: Euthanasia
  • "What is dignity?" Dr Clare McGraw MA
  • "Personhood of the sick and elderly"
  • "Euthanasia – a personal story"
  • workshops
Dinner and party

Sunday:
Session 1: What can we do?
  • "Crisis Pregnancy Help" Sr Rosannne Reddy, Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative
  • "Post Abortion Help" Margaret Cuthill, British Victims of Abortion (BVA)
  • international pro-life groups
Session 2: panel

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Paralysed rugby player offers encouraging example

Yesterday's Daily Mail reports on the story of Matt King, 22, who was left paralysed after a spinal injury during a rugby match. The story reads:
"[F]ive years on, the 22-year-old has graduated with a first-class law degree and won a training contract with a top London firm of solicitors ... Mr King's injuries are even more severe than those of Daniel James, 23, who ended his life at the Swiss Dignitas clinic after being paralysed in a rugby training session ... In 2007 he became the first quadraplegic to complete the New York Marathon in 2007, using an electric wheelchair controlled by a joystick device that he moved with his chin. He took six and a half hours to complete the course and raised £10,000 for charity."
Janet Thomas of No Less Human, a group within SPUC which represents people with disabilities, gave me her reaction to Matt's story:
"This story gives a most encouraging alternative to the other story of Daniel James, a paralysed rugby player who found life so hopeless that he went to Switzerland to commit suicide. It is a joy to read that Matt King has found a career, which is not only a positive outcome for him but in which his experience of disability will be a positive help to others in his professional work.

"At this period the director of public prosecutions (DPP) is consulting the public on assisted suicide. The implication of his interim policy is that people with severe disabilities are among those who may be more likely than non-disabled people to wish to take up an offer of help to kill themselves.

"Matt King’s story shows that society should offer positive help to live to those who have severe, or terminal, illnesses, disabling accidents and genetic disabilities. Life can still be sweet even under the most severe difficulties. There is light at the end of the longest tunnel. Compassion does not go hand-in-hand with offering to kill a person whatever their condition. Deliberate killing of innocent people, whether or not they have asked to die, is always wrong. Once killing is seen as an acceptable response to human suffering, there will be no end to the number of potential victims."
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Pro-lifer wins leadership of Australian opposition

Tony Abbott, former Australian health minister, has just become leader of the opposition.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager and an expatriate Australian, told LifeSiteNews.com yesterday:
"Tony Abbott has come to international attention as a Catholic whose political record is regarded as reflective of Catholic pro-life teaching. He replaces Malcolm Turnbull, also a Catholic politician but one who has voted against Catholic pro-life teaching. With unborn children increasingly under threat worldwide, the advancement of pro-lifers to the highest ranks of political leadership is greatly to be welcomed."
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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Pro-woman message sent by SPUC to UN

SPUC has responded to a call from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for submissions on the subject of maternal mortality. The introduction to SPUC's submission reads:
"The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) strongly supports the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 5 to improve maternal health. The number of women who die from complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries is unacceptably high and needs to be urgently addressed. The evidence suggests that the best way to achieve better maternal health is by improving access to antibiotics, drugs to prevent haemorrhage, blood transfusions, clean facilities and properly trained health professionals. Access to legal abortion in countries where abortion is currently illegal does not achieve the desired goals and may lead to an overall increase in maternal mortality and morbidity. Furthermore, legal access to abortion conflicts with the existing international legal framework. Upholding the rights of women and of their unborn children is a consistent and complimentary approach to dealing with existing weaknesses in health care systems."
Do read SPUC's submission in full for essential facts and arguments about why being pro-life and not pro-abortion is to be truly pro-woman.

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Vigil at European court next Wednesday

Next Wednesday 9 December, SPUC supporters will be holding a vigil outside the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France between 9am and 12 noon. Anyone who wishes to join the vigil should be near the main entrance of the court by 9am. The vigil is being held as the court considers the A, B and C v Ireland case. A decision by the court could result in all member-states of the Council of Europe being forced to review their laws. The effect could be similar to the Roe v Wade judgment in America, which struck down all restrictive laws on abortion in the United States by recognising a right to abortion.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

SPUC Northern Ireland never gives up in the marathon for life

I want to congratulate SPUC Northern Ireland for all its hard work which made SPUC's court challenge successful yesterday. Pictured is Aaron Doherty of SPUC Northern Ireland, who ran the Dublin Marathon on 26 October to raise funds for our case. Aaron, 44, from Portstewart, is married to Helen, and they are blessed with three children. He is a swimming instructor, an events officer with Coleraine borough coucil and a part-time photographer. Aaron typifies SPUC Northern Ireland: never giving up, straining to finish and win the race, using every effort to stop the pro-abortion lobby from extending the culture of death to Northern Ireland.

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland has explained to me the significance of yesterday's court judgment:
"While yesterday's ruling will require careful consideration, it is already clear that it is a significant victory for the pro-life cause. The judge's comments on the questionable legality of so-called non-directive counselling will have serious implications for agencies which act as conduits to abortion centres in England. Helping to procure an abortion that would be considered criminal in Northern Ireland may well now lead to a prosecution.

"However, it is in the area of freedom of conscience, protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, where this ruling may be most widely influential. Lord Justice Girvan considered that the Department of Health was wrong to tell doctors that they had no legal right to refuse to take part in the termination of pregnancy.

"He concluded that there were a number of circumstances in which medical personnel may have a legal right to refuse to take part in abortion procedures. He said:
'[I]t may be that a member of staff could succeed in a particular case in establishing that to require him to assist in the procedure would infringe his Article 9 rights. This may depend on the express terms of his contract which may require him to participate. If it does a question may arise as to whether the imposition of such an obligation itself infringes the Article 9 rights of a member of staff.'
"This may well strengthen the case of doctors and nurses in the rest of the UK who are coming under increasing pressure to facilitate abortions.

"The fight against this guidance has taken a considerable effort on the part of the whole pro-life lobby in Northern Ireland but it could not have been achieved without the help of the pro-life movement in the rest of the UK and Ireland and as well as medical and legal experts in the US and Australia. Hopefully this success will encourage those fighting abortion far beyond Northern Ireland. The next task facing the pro-life movement within Northern Ireland is to consolidate this victory so we can continue to build a culture where every human life is respected and protected."
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Major abortion case goes to European court next Tuesday

The A, B and C v Ireland case will go to the European Court of Human Rights on 8 December. The case has been brought by three women at the instigation of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA). The IFPA is affiliated to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the largest abortion provider in the world. The Irish constitution protects the right to life of the unborn, and the case seeks to change this.

If it is successful, countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world will be affected. The effect could be similar to the Roe v Wade judgment in America, which struck down all restrictive laws on abortion in the United States by recognising a right to abortion.

The Irish Constitution says:
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
In effect the Irish Constitution is being put on trial and the principles of democracy are under threat. A decision by the court would result in all member-states of the Council of Europe being forced to review their laws. This would include Poland and Malta, both of which recognise the rights of the unborn from conception.

Please see SPUC's briefing about the case. In his most recent encyclical, Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict warns of the dangers of allowing the culture of death to engrain itself in our communities:
“When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good.”
International pro-abortion organisations are attempting to make abortion a universal human right. All countries that have laws giving protection to the unborn child are under threat. Thankfully the High Court in Northern Ireland ruled yesterday against government guidance which implied that abortion is a right.

Please keep Ireland and the whole of Europe in your prayers as this case goes to court. Please pray especially for pro-life nations, that they may continue to act as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world in upholding the right to life of the unborn.

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Monday, 30 November 2009

Cardinal Newman's reputation is safeguarded from prominent Catholic dissenter

I referred on Saturday to Reverend Jack Sullivan's meeting with Cherie Blair (pictured).

Jack, who was healed through Cardinal Newman's intercession in 2001,  requested that references to the meeting be removed from the published recollections of his recent visit to England.

I am pleased to note that news of Jack's request is spreading. It was reported in both the Telegraph and the Mail today.  I've also heard that reference to the meeting has also been graciously removed from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales website and from the website of the archdiocese of Birmingham.

"Unfortunately, Jack had not been made aware of Mrs Blair’s public opposition to the teaching of the Church,’ said a spokesman for Birmingham Oratory which was founded by John Henry Cardinal Newman. "He undertook the visit in good faith, believing Mrs Blair to be simply a prominent Catholic. As soon as he was made aware of Mrs Blair’s record of public dissent from the Church’s teaching, Jack requested that all reference to meeting her be removed from the published recollections of his visit."

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SPUC victory in Northern Ireland abortion case

The Belfast high court has this morning ruled in favour of SPUC's challenge of government abortion guidance in Northern Ireland.

Lord Justice Girvan ruled in favour of SPUC's challenge on two grounds. SPUC argued that because abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, it was wrong to expect medical providers to give non-directive counselling to women who might be considering abortion. SPUC also argued that the government's guidance was wrong regarding non-participation in abortion (conscientious objection). The judge ruled in favour of SPUC on these points. The judge awarded costs against the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Speaking from outside the court, Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland told the media:
"We are very pleased that the court has highlighted some of the problems with the health department’s abortion guidance. We hope that the department will now take seriously many of the concerns which were largely disregarded when the guidelines were being drafted.

"Abortion is not health care. In Northern Ireland it is a criminal offence. It is simply extraordinary that a government department should have issued guidance on criminal legislation and not have once mentioned the victim of the crime. In illegal abortion the primary victim is the unborn child and any new guidance that the department brings forward needs to take fully into account the duty of care and the legal protection owed to the child before birth.

"Abortion doesn’t only kill children it also hurts women. There is a huge amount of evidence that abortion can damage the physical and mental health of women. If the department is serious about providing aftercare for women hurt by abortion then health officials cannot continue to ignore the evidence of post-abortion trauma. More needs to be done to warn women of the consequences of abortion but there has to be more help for women facing a crisis pregnancy as well.

"The law in Northern Ireland protects both women and children and new guidance must reflect that."
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