Saturday, 19 December 2009

Please pray Spanish abortion law won't succeed

Sadly the lower house of the Spanish parliament has passed the government's radical pro-abortion bill. The bill now goes to the Senate. If it passes the senate, it will return to the lower house for final approval, and then to the King for him to sign. It is reported that the Senate will agree to the law. This is despite the warning by Spain's bishops that those who vote for the law risk excommunication.

The position of the king is especially poignant from a Catholic perspective. Among his historic titles is "His Catholic Majesty" and "King of Jerusalem". He was born in exile in Rome during the pro-abortion regime which deposed his grandfather. Prominent Catholics are calling for him to withhold his assent from the law or abdicate temporarily, but this is regarded as unlikely.

Please pray for Spain, for Spanish unborn children and for Spain's governing class, that a miracle will stop this most unChristian law.

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Thursday, 17 December 2009

We should welcome the Pope to Britain by first defeating compulsory sex education

Pope Benedict, in his regular Wednesday audience at St Peter's, has said:
"[I]n our own time, and especially in certain countries, we are witnessing a disquieting fracture between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values associated with human dignity, and freedom, which has the responsibility of accepting and promoting those values ... [T]he only 'equitable' laws are those that defend the sacredness of human life and reject the legitimacy of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experimentation; the laws that respect the dignity of marriage between a man and a woman..."
An authentic education in human sexuality and the role of parents as the primary providers of that education are essential to establishing a pro-life social and legal culture. In contrast, the British government's plans for compulsory sex education would introduce children to a distorted view of sexuality and an adult culture of abortion. I'm sure that Pope Benedict's heart will be greatly warmed if the government's plans, contained in the Children, Schools and Families bill, are defeated before his visit to Britain in September The bill's second reading (first main debate) is scheduled provisionally for 11 January. Time is running out, so please read and respond to SPUC's campaign alert today.

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

European countries must resist Gordon Brown's campaign to normalise homosexual relationships

Gordon Brown (pictured), the British prime minister, has told a homosexual magazine that the British government is working to have British same-sex civil partnerships recognised by the legal systems of all European countries. Mr Brown made the comments in an interview with Attitude magazine - the same magazine in which Tony Blair said that the Catholic Church should change its teaching on homosexuality.

European countries must resist Mr Brown's campaign to normalise homosexual relationships, if they wish to retain the right to set their own laws protecting the family. The campaign for homosexuality and for sexually explicit anti-life sex education is becoming more oppressive:
  • In January, Spain's supreme court ruled that parents do not have the right to opt out of "Education for Citizenship", the government's militantly pro-homosexual and anti-family schools programme. 
  • In September, the European Parliament passed a resolution against a new Lithuanian law seeking to protect minors from sexualisation by society.
  • Last week, eight fathers have been jailed after refusing to send their children to sex education classes
As the late Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (para. 97), it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection. The normalisation of homosexual relationships through legal recognition of same-sex civil partnerships serves to break that close interconnection. Such 'normalisation' leads directly to placing pressures on educationalists to give young people a distorted education in human sexuality and thus entrenches a culture of death, according to Pope John Paul II, in a new generation.

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Irish ruling on embryo status contrary to human rights

The Irish Supreme Court today rejected a request by a woman, Mary Roche, to be implanted with frozen embryos created during IVF. Thomas Roche, her estranged husband, had refused permission for the implantation. Mrs Roche's lawyers argued that the embryos were protected by article 40.3.3. of the Irish Constitution. The court rejected that argument.

Pat Buckley, Ireland spokesman for SPUC, told the media today that the court's interpretation was wrong and contrary to international human rights law:.
"The judges' interpretation of article 40.3.3 excluding human embryos from protection is wrong. This decision treats human embryos as if they are mere property, when in fact they are equal members of the human family. International human rights law does not exclude human embryos from the equal right to life upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments. There is no genetic difference between an embryo inside or outside the body. The right to life, which is inalienable, does not change according to location.

"Although it would be unethical for embryos outside the body to be implanted, it is permission for IVF, and not the Roches' estrangement, which has created this tragedy in which their children will never be born. Any legislation, therefore, which may be passed following this case should ban IVF."
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Monday, 14 December 2009

Cherie Blair is working to undermine Catholic pro-life values

Cherie Blair has given an interview to Tatler, the society magazine, in which she has again attacked the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics. Mrs Blair told Tatler:
"The Church says that sex is not just for procreation and does allow the natural form of contraception. Personally, I think it is better to go for contraception that works, which is quite different from abortion. Controlling our fertility has been one of the key reasons why women have been able to progress and in Africa it can mean the difference between life and death, in preventing the spread of HIV. I hope the position of the Church will change on this." 
Mrs Blair's comments are wrong in so many ways. Mrs Blair says that: "The Church says that sex is not just for procreation". Yes, the Church teaches sex is not just for procreation but it also teaches that every conjugal act must be open to the transmission of life.

Mrs Blair claims that: "The Church...allow[s] the natural form of contraception". In fact, the Church does not allow any form of contraception. Natural fertility awareness (e.g. the Billings Ovulation Method) is not contraception because, unlike contraception, nothing is done to close the conjugal act to the transmission of life.

Mrs Blair says that: "It is better to go for contraception that works." In fact, the practice of natural fertility awareness (e.g. the Billings Ovulation Method) is more effective than contraception in spacing births (better than 99%, according to clinical trials listed on the Billings Centre Canada website).

Mrs Blair claims that: "Contraception...is quite different from abortion." The Church teaches that contraception and abortion are chained together. As the late Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (13):
"[T]he negative values inherent in the "contraceptive mentality" which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation [to abortion] when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected ... The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious."
Is Mrs Blair trying to persuade us that she is unaware of the consequential relationship of surgical abortion to so-called contraception? Also, most birth control drugs and devices can also act abortifaciently - contraception with abortifacient back-up. If she is against surgical abortion, as distinct from chemical abortion, where is the evidence of her campaigning against surgical abortion? In fact, Mrs Blair has supported of some of the world's major pro-abortion forces:
  • in July 2003, Mrs Blair endorsed the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world’s leading promoter and provider of abortion, by hosting a private reception at 10 Downing Street (the prime minister’s residence) for IPPF’s “Lust for Life” fundraising campaign.
  • At the annual Labour party conference in September 2005, Mrs Blair celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Family Planning Association (fpa), the UK branch of IPPF, helping to cut a special birthday cake (and pictured here offering a condom to the camera-man.) Both IPPF and FPA endorsed the failed campaign to remove the Holy See from the United Nations. 
  • on her website, Mrs Blair lists Human Rights Watch as one of the charities she supports. Human Rights Watch is one of the most radically pro-abortion international NGOs (non-governmental organisations).
  • On a page in the Women of the World section of her website, Mrs Blair says: "The [United Nations] Convention [on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ... is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women". "Reproductive rights" is a term commonly used to include abortion on demand. Is Mrs Blair seriously trying to tell us to believe that she is unaware of that very well-known fact?
Mrs Blair claims that: "Controlling our fertility [through contraception] has been one of the key reasons why women have been able to progress." In contrast, Pope Benedict, in his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate, has emphasised that the message of Humanae vitae:
  • is fundamental to achieving authentic human development
  • "delineat[es] the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes"
  • "indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics"
  • "essential to the context for the advancement of the culture of life."
Mrs Blair claims that: "[I]n Africa [contraception] can mean the difference between life and death, in preventing the spread of HIV". Indeed - those countries where condom use is promoted have higher rates of HIV than those countries where abstinence and fidelity are promoted, such as Uganda and The Philippines.

Mrs Blair says: "I hope the position of the Church will change on this [contraception]." Mrs Blair is being disingenuous here. She is not waiting for the Church's position to change - she is working to change the Church's position, by her own admission. In her chapter for the book "Why I am still a Catholic", Mrs Blair writes:
"Of course, like many Catholics in this country, I have doubts about some of the positions taken by the Church as an institution - for example, on contraception or the role of women. But I am not one of those who believe that the only response is to walk away because you have a different viewpoint. I have been taught that you should stay and try to change things. It’s like the Labour party in the 1980s. I wasn’t happy with the way it was going, so I tried to help change it from within. Thankfully, we won that battle.  And though the pace of change in the Catholic Church can seem slow, I believe that there are very many people in this country - and not just in the laity - who are convinced of the need for it. That message, however, is not yet fully accepted in the Vatican ... Women still do not get due respect in the Church which is why, in the opinion of many people, it get some things wrong, like its teaching on contraception."
In fact, a big, absolute "yes" to the genuine rights, health and fertility of women is behind the Church's "no" to contraception. Many of the women reformers of social standards in the 19th century pointed out that contraception results in the objectification and exploitation of women by men. One would be forgiven for thinking that Mrs Blair is more interested in promoting the culture of death than the Catholic Church's culture of life.

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Belfast court again rejects pro-abortion guidance

The High Court in Belfast has again ruled against government guidance on abortion. Last month, Lord Justice Girvan ordered Northern Ireland's health department to withdraw its guidance on abortion because it was misleading in two key areas. In a subsequent hearing this morning, Lord Justice Girvan not only confirmed his original judgment, but explained that the guidance should be withdrawn in full and not just in part. The case had been brought by SPUC.

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland, who was at this morning's hearing, told the media today:
"Despite the arguments against the complete withdrawal of the guidance, the department itself made it clear when it was published in March, that its purpose was to explain the law on abortion in Northern Ireland and how it relates to clinical practice. It would make no sense to re-issue the same document and simply leave out two major sections, on counselling and the right of medical personnel not to participate in abortions. Allowing the document to remain in part would have been seriously misleading and may have resulted in grave injustices taking place. We are very glad that will not happen.

"Both counselling and the right to non-participation are central to clinical practice and the implementation of the law. It's extraordinary that the department should have taken the unusual step of asking a judge to reconsider his order and an award of costs once a decision had been reached. It was no surprise, therefore, that Lord Justice Girvan did not change his original decision to order the withdrawal of the whole guidance document. It was because of the significance of these issues and seriousness of the flaws in the guidance that he awarded the costs SPUC incurred in bringing the case. This vindicates our initial criticism of the guidance.

"The department's response to the ruling has been disappointing, but I'm sure that both the Northern Ireland Assembly's all-party pro-life group and the Stormont health committee will now be eager to work with the department to address the deficiencies in the guidance identified by this case."
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Sydney pro-lifers pray and give witness at abortion clinic

Beth Kendrick (pictured) is a pro-life counsellor for Helpers of God's Precious Infants (HGPI) in Sydney.  Whilst she seeks to counsel clients of Preterm Foundation, Sydney's oldest abortion clinic, her colleagues pray continuously across the street.  Their prayer and witness began ten years ago - every Saturday morning throughout the year.  As Christmas approaches this week, HGPI will keep daily vigil, hoping for and achieving from time to time the occasional "turn-around" on the part of a client.

I had the privilege of joining the Helpers of God's Precious Infants over the weekend (see picture right).  I am in Sydney with Josephine, my wife, to attend our son's graduation (Paul) at Campion College.  Paul has been a regular attender of the Saturday vigils and it was great to be able to join with him, especially as we approach Christ's birthday. As a Catholic, I wonder how many images of the unborn Christ can be saved by the courageous witness of groups like HGPI in Sydney and their counterparts in Britain and across the world.  It's important, I believe, for members of pro-life groups to join with each other in our various work and respective projects.  As Pope John Paul II famously said in his pro-life encyclical Evangelium Vitae, what is urgently call for is a "united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life" (EV 95)

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Sunday, 13 December 2009

More photos from Strasbourg youth vigil

You will recall (see my blog-post) that SPUC organised a youth vigil on Wednesday outside the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, as the court considered a challenge to Ireland's constitutional protection of unborn children. Young people representing Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Romania held placards outside the court reading in different European languages: "Europe needs children not abortion", "Hands off Ireland's pro-life laws" and "Abortion kills children". The vigil was organised by Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland. Here are some more photos of the vigil:






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