Saturday, 15 May 2010

Rome symposium will celebrate 20 years of killing "imperfect" human beings

Alison Davis (pictured), the leader of No Less Human, has drawn my attention to a symposium to be held in Rome in July entitled PGD: A Celebration of 20 years.

PGD stands for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis on which Alison has written a most useful question and answer paper for those wishing to know more.

Alison, who has spina bifida, tells me:
"The title of the symposium, organized by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), speaks volumes about ESHRE's attitude to killing what they regard as 'imperfect' human beings. There seems to be no consideration at all of the case against, or the effect upon a new and rapidly developing human embryo of having cells removed for PGD examination."
Alison explains:
"PGD is a way of examining in the laboratory human embryos produced by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technology (i.e. in a test-tube).

"If a genetic disabling condition is detected, the embryo is thrown away. If not, the embryo is implanted in the woman, and allowed to grow and develop and eventually to be born. Pre-implantation diagnosis means that the embryo is examined before implantation in a woman's womb. PGD has also been used to identify an embryo that can serve as a tissue match for a sick child - and in some IVF programmes in other countries, PGD has been used to select the sex of an embryo for the purposes of family balancing ...

"The philosophy behind the day is I think summed up by the title of one of the sessions: "PND or PGD - which one to choose?" by Joe Leigh Simpson. (PND stands for pre-natal diagnosis). This presupposes that couples have only two options if they have chance of having a genetically/chromosomally disabled child (ie PND or PGD) and both those options are destructive if the child is found to be disabled.

"It is clear from ESHRE statements and policy documents that it strongly supports PGD and PND testing. The 'patient' always refers to the woman seeking embryo screening rather than to the embryo, and no consideration is given to the welfare of the embryos, other than those found to be 'unaffected' for whom they recommend freezing.
Alison concludes:
"There is nothing at all to celebrate in 20 years of human embryo testing which is designed primarily to eliminate disabled individuals. Although it's often claimed that IVF + PGD is "preferable" to PND + abortion, in fact both are pure eugenics, and there is nothing ethical or preferable about killing a human being at a younger age."



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Friday, 14 May 2010

People should not be misled about abortion law reform

Andrew Lansley, the new health secretary, has given an interview to The Daily Mail, which reports:
"The Health Secretary also said he supported a reduction in the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 22, having voted unsuccessfully for a change in the law in the past.

"'I felt that there was increasing evidence that a small reduction in that time limit was consistent with the potential for life, and sustainable life, in a baby born very prematurely at that point,' he said.

"The Health Secretary stressed that any further move to change the law would have to be initiated by a backbench MP and would be subject to a free vote in the Commons.
The Pro-Life Alliance has commented on The Daily Mail report in a press release:
“It is reassuring to hear that the new Health Secretary has put abortion law reform at the forefront of the agenda so early on in the new administration. While we should not get carried away about the significance of a two week reduction, it is certainly a step towards our final aim of bringing abortion to an end in the United Kingdom. We expect abortion law reform to come up at some point in this parliament and are confident that a tightening of the current regulations will result.”
That is exactly the sort of irresponsible commentary on the new government that is dangerous for unborn children and unhelpful to the pro-life movement. The Pro-Life Alliance makes no mention whatsoever of Mr Lansley’s support for:

• making abortion more widely available. On 12 May 2008 he told the House of Commons:
“[I]f a woman needs an abortion in terms sanctioned by the Abortion Act 1967, it must surely be better for it to be an early, medical abortion than a later, surgical one. I therefore hope that the House will consider whether the requirement for two doctors to consent to an abortion being performed, and the restrictions on nurses providing medical abortions, need to be maintained”

and

“I would personally be lo[a]th to move from the principle of linking the time limit for abortion to the viability of the foetus.”
• his endorsement of the 2003 report by the Commons health select committee, which called for open access to abortion services through a national advice line and for non-hospital nurses to be allowed to perform early non-surgical abortions, such as with RU486/prostaglandin

• the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, a radical entrenching and expansion of destructive and abusive embryo research. Mr Lansley voted the Act at third reading.

It is simply absurd for the Pro-Life Alliance to claim that:

• Mr Lansley “has put abortion law reform at the forefront of the agenda”. All that’s happened is that Mr Lansley has answered a question about it, in an wide-ranging interview with the main newspaper group supporting an upper limit reduction. Similar hype was whipped up by the same newspaper group and by the Pro-Life Alliance after Michael Howard, the then Conservative leader, answered the same question in the same way prior to the 2005 election. In any case, Mr Lansley “stressed that any further move to change the law would have to be initiated by a backbench MP and would be subject to a free vote in the Commons.” Reducing the upper time-limit for social abortions simply isn’t on the new government’s agenda, let alone “at the forefront”. If there is a free vote by MPs, it will provide the pro-abortion lobby with an opportunity to increase the numbers of abortions, as happened under the Conservative administration under Margaret Thatcher.

• a reduction in the upper time limit “is certainly a step towards our final aim of bringing abortion to an end in the United Kingdom”. Even if such a reduction were passed, it will not ensure a reduction in the numbers of late-term abortions (let alone of abortions generally), as I’ve blogged before. Pro-lifers made the same mistake in 1990.*

• “[w]e…are confident that a tightening of the current regulations will result”. The Pro-Life Alliance said the same thing before the votes on abortion in 2008, when all the amendments to reduce the upper time limit for social abortions were defeated by comfortable margins (as SPUC predicted). Only a last-ditch concerted effort by SPUC and other pro-life groups resulted in a government decision, effectively, not to provide time for pro-abortion amendments to be debated.

The Pro-Life Alliance’s release also claims that:
“new Liberal Democrat health minister Paul Burstow … voted against any measures to introduce euthanasia or assisted suicide”.
Yet Mr Burstow’s voting record on euthanasia was mixed. He voted for the Mental Capacity Act at second and third readings. The Mental Capacity Act enshrined euthanasia by neglect into English statute law. Mr Burstow voted against an anti-euthanasia amendment on advance directives (so-called “living wills”), whilst voting for anti-euthanasia amendments at other points.

Pro-lifers should instead be focusing on ensuring that the new government does not take up the previous government's plans to impose anti-life sex education on schools – plans that would result in an increase in abortions.

*It was also under a Conservative government that the upper limit for abortions was raised for abortions generally. People mistakenly claim that the time limit was reduced from 28 weeks to 24 weeks by the Conservative government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. However, because of amendments to the law made by the 1990 Act, the previous limit, which was based on the capability of the baby to be born alive – not a fixed number of weeks (28) – was abolished and a 24 week time limit was introduced but only for certain cases. In other cases (including where the abortion is carried out on the grounds of disability) abortions can be and are now carried out right up to the time of birth. Every child who had reached the stage of development of being “capable of being born alive” was protected by the pre-1990 law. Since 1990 that protection has been removed. So the effect of the 1990 Act was to increase the time limit for abortion in most instances and in many cases right up to birth. It was pro-lifers who pressed for the 1990 Act to contain provisions relating to abortion, in the hope of being able to insert some restrictions, particularly early time limits. Sadly this tactic backfired, resulting in a less, not more, restrictive abortion law.

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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cameron's cabinet should be viewed realistically

David Cameron, the new prime minister, has announced a number of new cabinet and other ministerial appointments. SPUC's initial assessment is as follows:

More likely than not to obstruct the pro-life cause:
  • David Cameron, prime minister
  • Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister
  • George Osborne, chancellor
  • Chris Huhne, energy secretary
  • Andrew Lansley, health secretary
  • Andrew Mitchell, international development secretary
  • Ken Clarke, justice secretary (as health minister in the Thatcher government, he helped ensure the success of pro-abortion amendments and the defeat of anti-abortion amendments to the HFE Act 1990)
  • Danny Alexander, Scottish secretary
  • David Laws, chief secretary to the treasury (cf. House of Commons, 28 Jan 2010)
  • Cheryl Gillan, Welsh secretary
  • Sir George Young, leader of the Commons
More likely that not to be helpful or unobstructive to the pro-life cause:
  • Theresa May, home secretary
  • William Hague, foreign secretary
  • Eric Pickles, communities secretary
  • Baroness Warsi, Conservative party co-chairman
  • Dr Liam Fox, defence secretary
  • Michael Gove, education secretary
  • Caroline Spelman, environment secretary
  • Owen Paterson, Northern Ireland secretary
  • Philip Hammond, transport secretary
  • Iain Duncan Smith, work and pensions secretary
  • Damian Green, immigration minister
  • David Willetts, university, science and skills minister
Could go either way, depending on the issue:
  • Vince Cable, business secretary
  • Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary
  • Lord Strathclyde, leader of the Lords
  • Francis Maude, cabinet office minister
  • Nick Herbert, policing reform minister
  • Oliver Letwin, cabinet office minister
  • Greg Clark, communities minister
  • Grant Shapps, housing minister
David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, the new health secretary, have made clear their support for wider access to abortion, under their guise of support for reducing the upper time-limit for social abortions. Now is the time, not for some headlong rush at abortion law reform, but rather for strong representations to ministers and MPs not to take up the previous government's plans to impose anti-life sex education on schools.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The new government and the Catholic bishops' policy spell dangers for both born and unborn children

After 13 years of anti-life laws and policies being enacted by the Labour government, we face a renewal of such laws and policies under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. David Cameron has made clear that faith schools should not be free to teach that abortion is wrong. Andrew Lansley, who is expected to be named health secretary, has made clear his support for easier access to abortion. Nick Clegg has confirmed his support for an anti-life approach to sex education.

However, as a Catholic parent, I consider that a greater threat than the coalition government is the policy of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. The Catholic Church in this country has responsibility for over 2,000 schools and for over 5,000 parishes. It is estimated that there are between 900,000 and 1 million practising Catholics in the UK, more than the membership of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties put together. The Catholic Church is a major body in this country which clearly has the size and potential influence to provide truly significant resistance to the culture of death emanating from parliament. Yet the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales supports laws and policies which extends the culture of death already at work in our hospitals and schools.

Archbishop Peter Smith, on behalf of the bishops' conference, issued a statement this morning, saying:
"In wishing the new government well, it is good for us all to recall that many of the deep seated problems of our society can only be addressed through a renewal of shared values. Change for the better cannot be left to politicians alone to bring about. It needs all of us."
Yet Archbishop Smith's way of addressing "problems", renewing "shared values" and "change for the better" has the appearance of endorsing pro-assisted suicide policy. Also, as I have mentioned before, Archbishop Smith, on behalf of the bishops' conference, publicly opposed SPUC's campaign on the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity bill (now Act), welcomed the bill, accepted the Blair government's assurances on the bill, and co-operated with the government in ensuring its passage through parliament. The Act enshrines in statute law euthanasia by neglect.

The Catholic Education Service (CES), which represents the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, worked closely with the Labour government to promote the government's anti-life plans for compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE). It has appointed Greg Pope, a former Labour MP with a lengthy anti-life and anti-family records, as its new deputy director. Also, the CES welcomes into Catholic schools Connexions, whose job it is to make abortion and contraception available to children, without parental knowledge or consent. Connexions is a government agency which is committed to giving schoolchildren, under the age of 16, access to abortion and abortifacients without parental knowledge or permission. Connexions' advisers are trained to tell young people that they can obtain abortion and abortifacients without parental knowledge or consent.

Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, said last week:
"I...wish to signal unambiguously the Church’s readiness to work with whoever is forming the Government."
Yet we know that Archbishop Nichols' idea of working with government is to go along with prevailing ideas on sex and relationships education.

Our children and grandchildren will never be safe from the culture of death emanating from government and parliament until and unless Catholic episcopal policy in this country is reversed.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Raquel Welch's concerns about the pill echo Pope Paul VI's warning in Humanae Vitae.

Simon Caldwell reports in the Telegraph today that Raquel Welch (pictured) has said:
"the widespread use of oral contraceptives had led to a breakdown in norms of sexual morality and fuelled the growth of rampant promiscuity among the young".
It would be interesting, I think, for students and scholars to compare and contrast Raquel Welch's concerns with the prophetic warning of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae. He wrote:
"Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection." (HV17)
Only last week I suggested that the pro-life should start a counter-revolution on the oral contraceptive pill. I said that symposia need to be organized by the pro-life movement worldwide and suggested four topics to be addressed at such symposia. A fifth topic could be the concerns raised this week by Raquel Welch.

Simon Caldwell concludes his report with these interesting comments from the worldwide star who shot to fame in the 1960s:
She said that in spite of her own three failed marriages she still believed that marriage is the "cornerstone of civilisation, an essential institution that stabilises society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy".

Miss Welch, 69, said: "Seriously folks, if an ageing sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it's gotta be pretty bad."


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Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sex selection abortion is the skeleton in pro-abortion feminism's closet

The Washington Times has published an insightful commentary on pro-abortion "feminism" by Joseph Meaney (pictured with Therese-Marie his daughter), one of the world's most experienced international pro-life activists.

Joseph tells me:
"It is truly incredible to read Mary Anne Warren's 'Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection.' She invents the term gendercide and then has no problem with sex selection abortion as long as they are not late-term abortions."
Joseph is director of International Co-ordination for Human Life International.

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