Friday, 28 May 2010

Education bill imminent: urge new government not to revive sex ed plan

The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has launched a new education bill, aimed at reforming the school system. One of the stated aims of the bill is to give individual schools more control over the curriculum. We hope this means the previous government’s plan to force state-funded schools to provide sex and relationships education will not be revived by the new government. We know, however, that the pro-abortion lobby will attempt to revive that plan. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has taken up the anti-life agenda through new draft guidance which recommends that teenagers are given comprehensive, confidential access to so-called ‘sexual health services’ (i.e. abortion and abortifacient birth control), including through schools.

Please write to the government and to your MP, urging them to resist pressure to revive the previous government’s plan to force state-funded schools to provide sex and relationships education. Please write to:
  • Rt Hon Michael Gove MP (pictured), secretary of state for education, and Nick Gibb MP, minister of state for schools, both at the Department for Education, Castle View House, East Lane, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 2GJ You can also email Mr Gove and Mr Gibb via a web-form on the department’s website 
  • your own MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. You can also email your MP via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps (where you can also find out who your MP is if you are not sure).
Please read SPUC's critique "Sexual health in schoolsfor facts and arguments about sex education in schools that you can use in your letters.

Please remember to forward any replies you receive to SPUC by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by post to SPUC HQ.

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Belfast court gives green light to abortion guidance challenge

The high court in Belfast has granted leave to SPUC for a full legal challenge of the decision to re-issue controversial guidance on abortion, despite a last-minute attempt by the Northern Ireland health department to have the case adjourned.

We argued that the publication of the guidance in its current form was perverse, and contravened a 30 November court order for the document’s withdrawal. Following the success of our previous judicial review, the department sought permission to withdraw only the sections of the guidance dealing with counselling and the rights of medical staff to non-participation in abortion. Those sections were heavily criticised by Lord Justice Girvan on 30 November. He ruled that the issues in the guidance were inter-related, that the guidance must therefore be withdrawn in its entirety and reconsidered.

James Dingemans QC, representing SPUC at today's hearing, argued that the department’s decision effectively ignoring last year’s ruling was “simply impermissible and irrational”. Mr Justice Treacy said that our application had more than exceeded the threshold necessary for the challenge to go to the next stage of a full judicial review.

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland, speaking outside the high court yesterday, told the media:
“Today’s events are yet more evidence of the bitter and irrational approach taken by the department of health to the issue of abortion guidance. At the very last minute the department asked the judge for an adjournment but refused to give any reasons for a four-week delay. Sadly, this is the way the department has behaved all along. It has disregarded public opinion, the will of the Assembly, the Stormont health committee and even the high court, in order to pursue an agenda of widening the scope for abortion in Northern Ireland.

“We don’t believe that the department has given any serious consideration to the ruling made by Lord Justice Girvan last year. A document that says nothing about counselling of women or the rights of medical staff cannot possibly provide adequate guidance to doctors. Naturally, we’re pleased that Mr Justice Treacy has granted leave for the case to proceed.”

On 30 November Lord Justice Girvan ruled against the department’s guidance on two grounds:
(1) 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.
(2) the guidance was wrong regarding the rights of health professionals to non-participation in abortion (conscientious objection).
On 14 December Lord Justice Girvan confirmed that the guidance should be withdrawn in whole and not merely in part.

Also yesterday, the Family Planning Association (FPA) published an opinion poll of Northern Ireland’s obstetricians and gynaecologists, which the FPA claims shows a groundswell of support for a more liberal abortion law. Liam Gibson says it is disgraceful that the FPA, which receives funding from the Northern Ireland health department, should be conducting a campaign to overturn the Province’s legal protection for children before birth. Liam rejects the significance of the poll and told the media yesterday:
“The FPA is considered to be a charity but its number one aim is to promote abortion on demand. Yet it has consistently failed to persuade the people of Northern Ireland to accept the killing of unborn children.
“While the FPA claims that this latest survey represents the opinions of obstetricians and gynaecologists, the survey only deals with abortion for social reasons. Medical grounds for abortion are never mentioned, because there is not one medical benefit associated with abortion. There are, however, hundreds of scientific studies showing the damage effects abortion has on women and their subsequent children. Abortion is not healthcare, but a fatal form of child abuse. It is never justified. Northern Ireland has the best maternal mortality rate in the United Kingdom because our law protects both women and children.

"The FPA's suggestion that so-called 'abortion charities' should be licensed to carry out abortions in Northern Ireland demonstrates that the FPA’s real concern is its financial interests in the abortion industry.”

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Assisted suicide non-prosecution threatens vulnerable

Alison Davis, who represents disabled people as national co-ordinator of No Less Human, a group within SPUC Pro-Life, has responded to the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute Michael Bateman (pictured) who assisted his wife Margaret to commit suicide.

Alison told the media earlier today:
"This case makes clear what I suspected when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)'s guidelines were first announced: that the killing of disabled or ill people would continue to go unpunished, but that the situation would further threaten the lives of sick and disabled people.

"The killing of Mrs Margaret Bateman by her husband Michael had particular personal resonance for me. Some years ago I too had a settled wish to die, and actually took steps to end my life. I was saved by my friends who, unlike Mr Bateman, refused to accept that I was right to think my life had no value and was better ended.  And in turn, my friends were helped in refusing to accede to my request for help to die by the fact that such an action was then against the law.

"In the Bateman case, punishment was ruled "against the public interest" because Mrs Bateman had had 'chronic pain for decades' and 'a clear and settled wish to die'. At the time when I wanted to end my life, I also had chronic pain such that it was close to being unbearable, and I wanted to die for over ten years. I also had severe disabling conditions and used a wheelchair full-time. These factors combined would have served to ensure that, had the DPP's guidelines been in place then, anyone aiding my death would have gone unpunished.

"Today I still have severe disabling conditions, and continue to be a full-time wheelchair user. I still have extremely severe pain, which is not well controlled, even with morphine. I changed my mind about wanting to die because my friends helped  me, over a long period of time, to realise that my life did have value, and that I could help others despite, or perhaps because, of my own suffering. They were assisted and encouraged by a law that was on the side of life.

"The Bateman case shows that the DPP's guidelines, and the actions of the CPS with his approval, will in fact have the effect of encouraging families or friends to kill so-called 'loved ones' and ensuring that suffering people like Mrs Bateman don't get the kind of help and support I had to continue living. It will mean that more disabled people will be killed out of misplaced 'compassion' and it will continue the pretence that 'courage' lies in killing suffering people, rather than in helping them to live."
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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Britain’s high abortion stats mean doctors need reality check on abortion

Britain’s continuing high abortion statistics mean that many doctors need to be more aware about the damage abortion does. I've been responding today to the publication of the figures for abortion in 2009 in England and Wales and Scotland.

Although the figures indicate a slight fall in the incidence of abortion, the equivalent of 20 classrooms of children a day are still being killed by abortion in Britain.

SPUC is therefore reaching out to doctors, to provide them with better-quality information about the reality of abortion. Abortion not only kills children, it hurts women too. Disability in unborn children is often put forward as one of the main arguments in favour of legal abortion. Doctors and the public generally are unaware, however, that there is a solid body of evidence showing that the psychological after-effects on women can be particularly traumatic when an abortion is undertaken for reasons of foetal disability.

SPUC will be sending doctors evidence compiled by Dr Greg Pike, an Australian specialist in neurobiology and bioethics, on the damage abortion may cause to women’s health. We hope that this evidence will help doctors understand that women deserve better than abortion. Please read "Abortion and Women's Health" by Dr Greg Pike, May 2010

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Monday, 24 May 2010

Marie Stopes TV ad is deceptive and deceitful

The television advertisement by Marie Stopes International (see below), released this morning via The Guardian newspaper’s website, is deceptive and deceitful.

The advertisement says:
“If you miss your period, you could be pregnant. If you’re pregnant and don’t know what to do, Marie Stopes International can help.”
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, told the media earlier today:
“The advertisement is deceptive, in that it doesn’t explain what Marie Stopes is and what Marie Stopes does. Marie Stopes' main business is the killing of unborn children. Its telephone consultation line is an abortion booking service which puts women on a fast-track to abortion. 90% of the so-called services Marie Stopes provides in England and Wales are abortions. In 2008 they performed almost 600,000 abortions overseas. Most of its £100 million annual income comes from abortion and is spent on abortion, including campaigning for a right to abortion. (Marie Stopes International’s Charity Commission return 2008)

“Marie Stopes advertises itself as an abortion provider on the London Underground but has soft-soaped its image in this Channel 4 advertisement. We can only conclude that this is a way for Marie Stopes to evade restrictions on advertising. We have written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, urging him to use his powers and instruct Ofcom to block this advertisement. Women deserve better than abortion. We want the government to ensure that women are not misled by this kind of deceitful propaganda.”
Please act immediately to help stop the ad, by:
  • contacting Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Secretary of State has the power to stop the ad through his powers relating to Ofcom - please urge him to use that power. The department's email address is enquiries@culture.gov.uk (alternatively enquiries@culture.gsi.gov.uk )  and the department's telephone number is (020) 7211 6000.
  • contact your MP, asking him/her to urge the Secretary of State to stop the ad. You can email your MP via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps You can also telephone your MP via the parliamentary switchboard on (020) 7219 3000.
See my previous blog about this for more information.


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