Wednesday, 30 June 2010

New blood test to promote genocide of the disabled is applauded in today's press

story in today's Telegraph about "a cheap blood test that could allow doctors to check unborn children for Down's syndrome" is arguably the most significant news of the 21st century. This is not hyperbole. It's arguably the most significant news this century because it illustrates the culture of death in which we are living at its very worst.

Consider the following:

Dr Suzanna Frints, of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, who carried out the research on the new test, said that she hoped all women in the world [my emphasis] would be offered this test, according to the Telegraph report.

Dr Frints and her colleagues were reporting on their findings at the 26th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome.

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News reports Dr Frints as saying: “This is innovative translational research, and when we succeed in developing the MLPA procedure for use in maternal blood, we will be able to offer a safe, cheap, fast, reliable, and accurate noninvasive test, which will be of immediate benefit to pregnant women [my emphasis].”

The significance of a "non-invasive test" is explained by the Telegraph's report that amniocentesis, an invasive process which involves taking a sample of fluid from around the foetus, "can, in some cases, cause a miscarriage even if the woman is carrying a healthy foetus [my emphasis]".

Given that there's no cure for Down's Syndrome, it's crystal clear that the "immediate benefit to pregnant women" is that they will know they are carrying a child with Down's syndrome who can be killed by abortion without the prior risk of a test which may accidentally kill a child without Down's syndrome.

In summary: A story appeared today on the front page of the Telegraph in the UK and in scores of other news outlets throughout the world which, with a terrifying lack of irony, reports on scientific researchers publicly applauding as a possible breakthrough a new test for mothers-to-be throughout the world which will target the killing of some of the sweetest, most innocent, most vulnerable, most loving human beings on earth.  To add insult to fatal injury, these loving children are dismissed with the inaccurate, contemptuous, term "unhealthy foetuses".

Tragically, in Britain, abortion up to birth for disabled babies was legalised by Parliament in 1990. Those who support such selective killings include David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, whose support for abortion of the disabled up to birth he has made quite clear. He is, in my view, supporting genocide. If I might plagiarize Fr Fleming's paper "Developing a global understanding of the inviolability of life from conception to natural death in and through the international institutions":

The questions David Cameron and others need to address are these: How is it not genocide to define some members of the human family as non-persons, thereby allowing them to be directly and intentionally killed by induced abortion? How is it not genocide to legally prescribe and actively promote the induced abortion of human beings on the grounds of their actual or perceived disability? If it could be shown that homosexuality was genetically influenced, and homosexuality was thought of as a disability, would the routine abortion of homosexuals be considered the crime of genocide against homosexuals?

You might like to read Fr Fleming's paper and his full section on the Genocide Convention here.

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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Archbishop Smith's account of the pro-life battle is flawed

Most. Rev. Peter Smith, the new Catholic archbishop of Southwark, London, gave an interview recently to Anna Arco of The Catholic Herald. She writes:
"When I ask [Abp. Smith] about what he considers the greatest success and the greatest disappointment in terms of his parliamentary work, he cites the Mental Capacity Act for the former and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act for the latter. In both cases, Archbishop Smith was heavily involved in consultations with the Government and civil servants, pointing out weaknesses in the Government’s legislation and getting MPs to table amendments. He says the Government wasn’t aware of the loopholes left in the Mental Capacity Act, because of its definition of euthanasia as a positive act – a needle injecting a fateful dose – rather than euthanasia by omission, by inappropriate withdrawal of care or withholding of treatment. After 18 months of discussions the Church managed to persuade the Government to close the loopholes and include a clause, drafted by Professor John Finnis of Oxford University, which stated that whatever was done, it should never be done motivated by a desire to kill someone."
The truth of the matter is:
  • none of the bill's loopholes were closed
  • the government's amendments were cosmetic changes designed to make legalised euthanasia by omission respectable
  • the Finnis amendment was (at best) defective and (at worst) helped defuse opposition to the bill
  • it is sadly a matter of public record that Abp. Smith publicly opposed SPUC’s campaign on the Mental Capacity Bill. He welcomed the Bill, accepted the Government’s assurances that the Bill would not enshrine in law euthanasia by neglect, and co-operated with the Government in ensuring its passage through Parliament.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 enshrines deliberate killing by omission in statute. It does this in a number of ways:
  • by re-drawing (or removing) crucial medical and legal principles and distinctions, including the presumption in favour of life, liability/negligence, patient consent, the medical treatment/basic care distinction;
  • by extending, in statute, the possible scope to a much wider range of incapacitated patients of the Law Lords' Bland judgment (a judgement which permitted Tony Bland, a PVS patient, to be dehydrated to death);
  • by establishing a new test for patients' "best interests", with no reference to existing criteria;
  • by giving overriding force to advance refusals of treatment, including suicidal ones;
  • by allowing proxy decision-makers to make deliberately life-ending decisions for incapacitated patients.
The Finnis amendment crucially referred only to excluding decisions only where the decision-maker is motivated by a desire to kill, rather than simply having an intention to kill. If challenged, those complicit in the patient's death can claim that they were simply motivated by a desire to end the patient’s suffering, fulfil the patient’s living will, act in the patient's "best interests", etc. Thus, the Finnis amendment would only possibly detect people with pronounced homicidal tendencies such as mass murderer Dr Harold Shipman - and even then only after such killers may have been brought to court. The Finnis amendment was no substitute for real amendments prohibiting any act or omission which of itself and by intention causes death. The Finnis amendment does not prevent the Act's key mechanisms from being used and abused to kill vulnerable patients.

On the issue of assisted suicide, Abp. Smith's account to Anna Arco leaves the impression that his lobbying was successful in putting to rights draft policy on the prosecution of assisted suicide cases. Indeed, sadly, Abp Smith welcomed the director of public prosecutions (DPP)'s final policy, which blunts the ban on assisted suicide.

Abp. Smith also told Anna Arco:
"I don’t understand why they want to liberalise abortion law because it is as liberal as it could get."
This is simply wrong. There are many ways in which the Abortion Act 1967 continues to restrict abortion, both in law and in practice. Abortion remains in general a criminal offence in English law, under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861. There is thus no right to abortion in English law - a crucial bulwark against the international pro-abortion lobby's incesssant attempts to have abortion declared a fundamental human right in international law. Abortion is not, both in English law and in practice, treated as any other medical procedure. Two doctors must attest that at least one of the several grounds for abortion in the Abortion Act 1967 have been satisfied before authorising an abortion. Doctors can - and sometimes do - decline to authorise an abortion. In addition, the Act's conscience clause helps keep pro-life doctors within the medical profession. These safeguards, whilst flawed and often abused, both save lives and send negative messages about abortion.

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Sunday, 27 June 2010

Urge government to resist SRE amendment to Academies Bill

Amendments to the Academies Bill currently in the House of Lords raise the possibility of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) becoming an issue in the forthcoming Education Bill.

Crossbench Peer, Lord Northbourne, has tabled amendment number 70 to the Bill which states that, “Academy arrangements must include terms imposed for the purpose of securing that—
(a) every pupil in the Academy has the benefit of age-appropriate Personal, Social and Health Education; and
(b) every pupil over the age of 14 has the benefit of age appropriate education about relationships including sex and sexual relationships and also with special emphasis on the needs of young children and the responsibilities and challenges of parenthood.”

This amendment will be moved when the Committee stage resumes on Monday 28 June.
Please e-mail one or more of the peers below, asking them to oppose Amendment 70.

There is a danger that peers will be using this amendment to attempt to put pressure on the new Coalition Government to reassert the claim that comprehensive SRE helps cut abortion.

The Academies Bill would enable more schools in England to become academies. The Government expects a significant number of academies to open in September 2010, and for the number to grow each year.

Government peers:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Chief Whip), Lord Shutt of Greetland (Deputy Chief Whip), Lord Hill of Oareford (Bill Minister), Lord De Mauley, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Baroness Verma, Earl Attlee, Lord Bates, Lord Marland, Baroness Warsi, Earl Howe, Lord McColl of Dulwich
Opposition peers:
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Leader of the Opposition), Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Deputy Leader), Lord Bassam of Brighton (Opposition Chief Whip), Crossbench peers: Baroness Cox, Lord Alton

You can find email addresses for Lords via (Please SPUC know if you experience any problems using this list).

Please forward any replies you receive to
More information can be found in:
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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Calls for an upper limit bill on abortion remind me of Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I hope and pray that Jim Dobbin MP can be swiftly persuaded to back off from comments he's reported to have made yesterday that he is seeking an MP to table a private member's Bill to push for another vote in Parliament on the abortion time limit.

Jim Dobbin should be reminded that it's less than two years since the last push for an upper limit bill was stopped at the last ditch, after a united pro-life campaign, from resulting in a massive expansion of the abortion law. At that time a number of pro-life groups joined SPUC's campaign against proposed extreme pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

We must remind Members of Parliament that the main threat of creating in Britain a legal "right" to an abortion comes, perversely, from abortion time limit bills, often misguidedly promoted by sincere pro-life individuals and groups. The threat consists in that such proposals give the pro-abortion lobby the chance to argue that “early abortions are better than late abortions.” They argue that in order to ensure that women can get early “safe” abortions the obstacles must be removed, i.e. the medical grounds required for a legal abortion must be abolished. This would achieve a major objective of the pro-abortion lobby, arguably creating a right to abortion not currently in English (or Scottish) abortion law.

SPUC has written to MPs urging them not to support upper limit legislation. Here's why:

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.

SPUC said at the time: “… Kenneth Clarke [the secretary of state for health] was … responsible for giving MPs a misleading concept of the clause allowing abortion up to birth when it was debated at the Report Stage of the Bill on 21st June [1990] … He informed the House ‘the doctor will terminate a pregnancy while attempting to save the life of the baby if he can’. However, termination in such circumstances has always been allowed but previously it has been described as ‘induced birth’. For the first time it can be legally categorised as abortion, and, whatever the claims of Mr Clarke, there is now no law compelling a doctor to save the life of the child.” (Human Concern, summer 1990)

Both David Cameron, the prime minister, and Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, have made clear that they support wider access to abortion in various ways. If there is a free vote by MPs, as was promised by Mr Cameron, 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.

It's therefore all the more perplexing that Jim Dobbin should be reported to be saying: “David Cameron's leadership on this issue is important and could help to sway opinion.”

Finally, David Cameron supports the genocidal treatment of disabled children in the womb. He confirmed during a "Cameron-Direct" session in Barrow-in-Furness that he would not vote to reverse the current discrimination against unborn disabled babies who can be aborted right up to birth since the law was changed by Parliament in 1990.  He made a similar comment in a Daily Mail interview on which I blogged at the time. Tragically, at this point in history, there is every sign that Parliament would confirm this genocidal treatment of the disabled before birth in any vote on the upper limit to abortion - which serves to underline this gravely ethically flawed and totally discredited approach to reform of the British abortion law.

For a fuller history of this whole issue, read my previous posts.

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Friday, 25 June 2010

RCOG supports killing 570 babies a day

SPUC has responded to claims made today about foetal pain and disability by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier this morning:
"The RCOG supports the killing of 570 babies every day in Britain, at all stages of pregnancy, through the abortion policies it pursues and the lucrative activities of its members.

"The RCOG knows better than most people how marvellous, sensitive, complex and beautiful these babies are at every stage of development from conception onwards. Life does not start halfway through a pregnancy, it starts at conception.

"The RCOG suggests that its doctors don’t inflict pain on the babies they kill, but this is just a way of denying that what they are doing is evil and they know it. The RCOG is trying to find a comfort zone for its members. It is not concerned about the rights and the lives of the babies killed.

"The issue of the 24-week time-limit on social abortions is a red herring. The RCOG’s claim about babies not feeling pain before 24 weeks begs the question: Why do abortion doctors keep making this point when they support the abortion of babies up till birth?

"The government should act to recognise the rights of children at all stages before birth. It could begin today by asking why the Department of Health actively promotes abortion, which has no proven health benefits."

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sperm donation study is an "extremely valuable contribution to debate on reproductive technology"

Pat Buckley - European Life Network drew attention earlier this month to a new major comparative study of adults conceived by means of "donor". It's entitled My Daddy’s name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation, and it's published under the auspices of the Commission on Parenthood’s Future in New York.

An executive summary from the study states:
"In 1884, a Philadelphia physician put his female patient to sleep and inseminated her with sperm from a man who was not her husband. The patient became pregnant and bore a child she believed was the couple’s biological offspring.

"Today, this event occurs every day around the world with the willing consent of women and with the involvement of millions of physicians, technicians, cryoscientists, and accountants. The United States alone has a fertility industry that brings in $3.3 billion annually. Meanwhile, 'fertility tourism' has taken off as a booming global trade. A number of nations bill themselves as destinations for couples who wish to circumvent stricter laws and greater expense in their own countries in order to become pregnant using reproductive technologies. The largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos, is in Denmark and ships three-quarters of its sperm overseas.

"In the U.S., an estimated 30,000-60,000 children are born each year through sperm donation, but this number is only an educated guess. Neither the industry nor any other entity in the U.S. is required to report on these vital statistics. Most strikingly, there is almost no reliable evidence, in any nation, about the experience of young adults who were conceived in this way.

"This study is the first effort to learn about the identity, kinship, wellbeing, and social justice experiences of young adults who were conceived through sperm donation. The survey research firm Abt SRBI of New York City fielded our survey through a web-based panel that includes more than a million households across the United States. Through this method we assembled a representative sample of 485 adults between the ages of 18 and 45 years old who said their mother used a sperm donor to conceive them. We also assembled comparison groups of 562 young adults who were adopted as infants and 563 young adults who were raised by their biological parents.

"We learned that, on average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Nearly two-thirds agree, “My sperm donor is half of who I am.”

"Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception.

"More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them they wonder if they are related. Almost as many say they have feared being attracted to or having sexual relations with someone to whom they are unknowingly related. Approximately two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins. And about half of donor offspring have concerns about or serious objections to donor conception itself, even when parents tell their children the truth.

"The title of this report, My Daddy’s Name is Donor, comes from a t-shirt marketed to parents of babies who were donor conceived. The designers of the shirt say it’s just meant to be funny. But we wondered how the children feel when they grow up.

"This unprecedented, large, comparative, and very nearly representative study of young adults conceived through sperm donation responds to that question. The extraordinary findings reported in the stories, tables and figures that follow will be of concern to any policy maker, health professional, civic leader, parent, would-be parent, and young or grown donor conceived person, anywhere in the world. An extensive list of recommendations is found at the conclusion.

"We aim for nothing less than to launch a national and international debate on the ethics, meaning, and practice of donor conception, starting now."
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, consultants to SPUC, have sent me the following comment on the study:
"This study is a valuable contribution to the issue of human conception using donated sperm, focusing on the experiences of donor-conceived adults themselves.  (Some minor studies suffering from low numbers, possible recruitment/self-selection bias, lack of control, and other variables nevertheless tend to support elements of this major study.  See:
Turner A.J. & Coyle  A. What does it mean to be a donor offspring? The identity experiences of adults conceived by donor insemination and the implications for counselling and therapy. Human Reproduction, Vol. 15, No. 9, 2041-2051, September 2000; 
Hewitt, G.  Missing links: Identity issues of donor-conceived people. Journal of Fertility Counselling,9(3),2002. 14-20.
Jadva, V. et al. 'Age of disclosure and donor offspring’s feelings about finding out they were donor conceived.' 2008
"The study has received some minor criticism for not being peer-reviewed, the implication being that its standards are inferior to peer-reviewed publications. However, there do not appear to be any other studies of this magnitude – peer-reviewed or otherwise – to either confirm or contradict the results of this study ...

" ... On its own terms, this study confirms what ought to be common sense to most people: that the intentional conception of a child with the use of sperm from an anonymous donor will necessarily have practical and personal consequences for that child. This study illuminates these consequences, through the experience of the donor offspring themselves.

"It should therefore be regarded as an extremely valuable contribution to the debate on reproductive technology, at least for the raw data it provides, and the issues it raises. While the interpretation offered by the authors may be open to allegations of bias, this goes to more fundamental questions of how we weigh the various factors uncovered by their study, and certainly to the deeper issue of the value we ascribe to human life and human rights. After all, the debate over donor conception and reproductive technologies would never have emerged if members of society did not hold different degrees of tolerance for the existential confusion inflicted upon others."
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Newman, Clifford Longley, conscience, contraception - and abortion

Fr John Fleming has some interesting comments to make about Cardinal Newman (right), contraception and about Clifford Longley's assertion in The Tablet (29th May 2010) "that we just do not know what Newman would have said about ... the standing of Catholics who dissented" from Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of birth, published on 25th July 1968.

Fr Fleming's article should be read in full on The Anglo-Catholic blogpost. Here are some extracts:
" ... Well known writer on Catholic affairs and doyen of the liberal party in the Catholic Church, Clifford Longley, seems to have recognised the foolishness of calling John Henry Newman as a witness to the liberal account of ‘conscience’ where contraception is concerned (The Tablet, 29 May 2010). He acknowledges the obvious, that no one knows 'what Newman [died 1890] would have said about Humanae vitae [published 1968]'. But his assertion that no one knows what Newman would have said about the standing of Catholics who dissent from long-standing authentic Church teaching on contraception is by no means so obvious ... "

" ... The Pope was faced with the need to consider traditional Catholic teaching in the light of new developments in contraceptives, specifically the oral contraceptive pill. In the light of the Church’s constant moral tradition the Pope provided that teaching having first sought and taken advice. To suggest, as Longley does, that the Pope was governed by a desire to protect the Church’s teaching authority even though he knew better, represents detraction at its worst. And it is none the better for it having been so self-righteously asserted without a skerrick of evidence cited in support of it.

"What lies behind the Longley piece is the ineffable sense of the infallibility of the liberal ‘intelligentsia’. 'We are right and the Successor of St Peter has got it wrong!' And this in 2010 when we have abundant evidence that the prophecies of social misery that Pope Paul VI (Humanae vitae n 17) warned about have come to pass!

"Indeed contemporary attempts in the UK to impose contraception and abortion based sex education on the young are a graphic reminder of the Pope’s warnings:

"'Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favouring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.' (Humanae vitae n 17) ...

"At the beginning of his article, Longley indulges in a remarkable piece of intellectual sophistry. Both progressives and conservatives are guilty of what he calls the 'fundamentalist fallacy'. This 'fallacy' he describes as 'an assumption that a sort of infallible magic belongs to the words on the page'. But nowhere does Longley provide any evidence at all that the various interpretations of Newman are based on any such assumption. Both sides are attempting to understand what Newman meant when he said what he said. But Longley smugly positions himself as intellectually above all the 'others', although he singularly fails to tell us what is his preferred hermeneutic and why it is better than everyone else’s. Is it that Longley believes that since the author is dead his words can be made to mean whatever we would like them to mean in our present time? He doesn’t say.

"So why not let Newman be allowed to speak for himself on the matter of conscience:

"'Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a licence to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be an impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.' (Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, section 5 on Conscience)

"Newman may well have been writing in the nineteenth century, but his words are even more apt in the twentieth century. Humanae vitae may not have been around for Newman to have been able to consider it. But the fundamental teaching of the Church on contraception certainly was, and was widely accepted throughout the Christian world. It was not until 1930 when the Anglicans proposed a weakening of that teaching that the Catholic moral position on contraception was seriously challenged. So Newman would undoubtedly have supported the Catholic moral teaching and would have been surprised that anyone would have thought to associate his name with dissent from it.

"Finally, Longley attributes cowardice to the English bishops who settled, he says, for an easy life by allowing people to make their own decisions in the matter. He sort of excuses their alleged moral cowardice by saying they really didn’t have much choice. 'Sackings of hundreds of dissenting priests and the excommunication of thousands of dissenting laity would have been a disaster for the Church.' A disaster? Really? Why so? Did not hundreds of dissenting priests and thousands of dissenting laity leave anyway? And despite the moral failings of Mediaeval Christians at the time of the Reformation, the Church still continues her faithful witness to the truth ... "
I have often commented on the links between contraception and the culture of death in which are living and, just yesterday I posted a review of an interview with Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, the scientific director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the interrelationship between certain forms of contraception and abortion.

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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Pregnancy counselling group launches life-saving project on London Underground

The Good Counsel Network, a London-based pregnancy counselling organisation, are planning to take out advertising on the London Underground. On their blog, they say:
We would like to increase our outreach to women in trouble in a pregnancy which maybe wasn’t planned or where they suddenly find themselves in crisis. Using the title Maria Stops Abortion, we plan to reach out to women who would otherwise only see adverts for the ‘help’ offered by abortion providers. Tube and rail adverts are extremely expensive, but we feel the need to launch out into the deep and experiment with this type of outreach with the hope that any woman seeking an escape from abortion will find us.
I applaud this excellent venture and hope that it will save many lives.

The Good Counsel Network are a wonderful organisation who offer women considering an abortion real information, real support and real hope during a pregnancy.

They also hold a day of prayer and fasting each month. The intention for these days is to bring an end to abortion and euthanasia. They encourage those whose faith prompts them to do so to fast from all food except bread and water for the day, or simply to give up anything that would involve a personal sacrifice, such as eating chocolate or watching television.

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Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life shows how the various contraceptive techniques are in reality frequently abortive

Father John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant, has shared with me his reflections on a recently-published interview with Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau , the Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the links between contraception and abortion. The interview was conducted by the Dialogue Dynamics team who comment: "The technical precision of the text is matched by its doctrinal accuracy".In a scientifically and ethically sophisticated interview (21st of April 2010), "Contraception and abortion" Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, sets out the interrelationship between certain forms of contraception and abortion.

The Suaudeau interview is extremely important because it discusses the link between contraception in terms which are scrupulously rigorous, not making more of the evidence than the evidence would allow and not minimising the implications of what the evidence clearly suggests.

In answer to the question,
“So contraceptives prevent the conception of a child?”
Monsignor Suaudeau immediately responds with the observation that that is not all that contraceptives do. Other technical methods gathered under the rubric of “contraceptives” include what are more properly known as “interceptives”, techniques which prevent the embryo from implanting. Added to that are techniques known as “contragestives”, so-called because “they cause the elimination of a newly-implanted embryo”.

Monsignor Suaudeau notes that contraceptive proponents have always argued that contraceptive use would “contribute to a reduction in the number of intentional abortions” among adolescents.

But, says, Monsignor Suaudeau:
"Fifty years after the introduction of the first contraceptive pill, the reality is that, far from reducing the number of abortions, contraception has itself become increasingly abortive. Indeed, it is in the functioning itself of the “pill” that abortion gains an entry."
Monsignor Suaudeau then goes on to rehearse the scientific evidence which backs up his melancholy summation of where we are now at. In doing this he identifies all of the various modern contraceptives techniques, describing in detail how they actually work, and laying bare for all to see the necessary connection between contraception and abortion.

In returning to an earlier question,
“has the generalised use of contraception allowed the practice of abortion to decline?"
Monsignor Suaudeau brings all of his scientific expertise to bear in a well articulated philosophical and moral response:
"Contraception and abortion are in fact closely linked. They are linked in their biological reality. They are linked in the mentality which presupposes them. Abortion directly refuses and destroys the baby. Contraception also refuses the baby and uses any means at its disposal to counter the arrival of baby. In both cases, the baby is the enemy. He or she becomes the accidental product of genital activity reduced to mere pleasure or irresponsible futility based on a corrupt notion of human sexuality. 'Sex' takes priority over the baby. If the baby arrives in spite of the use of contraception, it is no longer, as previously, accepted, but rejected and aborted. This is why it was logical for abortion to be liberalized once contraception had been made generally available, to remedy foreseeable failures of contraception.

"Far from curbing abortion, contraception may even lead to it. It is always easy to proceed from one to the other."
Harnessing the social research data to hand in Scandinavia and Europe, Monsignor Suaudeau is able to show the truth of his conclusion that contraception leads to abortion. Monsignor Suaudeau concludes with a devastating series of observations. Here is a sample:
  • Far from reducing the number of abortions, contraception to some extent finds in abortion a natural unfolding. Given that the contraceptive mentality is in fact close to the abortive mentality, large-scale use of contraception in the developed nations has contributed to the routine use of abortion.
  • Scientific research today is oriented towards the development of increasingly “effective” contraceptive techniques to prevent conception and the continuation of pregnancy, with increasingly less risk to the woman, resulting in increasingly abortifacient contraception. This is a further demonstration of the close link, not only cultural but also scientific, between the use of contraception and the demand for abortion.
  • To avoid uttering the word “abortion”, people talk about the pharmacological “prevention” of implantation, “interception” or “contragestion”. It is also asserted that the embryo is not an embryo as long as it is not implanted in the lining of the uterus, but simply a “pre-embryo”, a mass of cells which does not call for any particular respect. However, a play on words cannot change the reality of the facts.
  • ... pastors, theologians and spiritual advisers who, verbally or in writing, endorse the use of contraception, must know that, in so doing, they are endorsing all the abortions thereby caused and to be caused, which will amount to millions of individuals.
  • Today there is nothing heroic, exceptional or disingenuous in resorting, within the framework of responsible parenthood, to “natural” methods of controlling female fertility, whose scientific basis, efficacy and benefits to couples in terms of deeper conjugal communion, are known ...
This is a paper which deserves the widest possible readership and should have an honoured place, as a key reference tool, on the desks of all prolifers.

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Monday, 21 June 2010

Thank God for the pro-life movement's vigilance throughout Ireland

Last week I mentioned the extreme, pro-abortion report bounced through the Human Rights Council in Geneva, produced by Navenethem Pillay, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General.  Pat Buckley, lobbying for SPUC in Geneva, reported that this was "the latest in international political manoeuvres to declare a "human right" to abortion, something which has eluded the pro-abortion lobby since their defeat at the 1994 UN conference on population and development, in Cairo".

It's a telling sign of the political times in Ireland that Navenethem Pillay has been busy recently in Ireland promoting human rights. Lelia O'Flaherty, one of that country's sharpest observers on life and family matters, sent me this morning the following information:

The Tenth Department of Foreign Affairs NGO Forum on Human Rights was held at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Friday 20 November 2009. For a full programme of the event please click here (Word 50kb) The keynote speaker at the Forum was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay  . The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D.  delivered the opening address welcoming the High Commissioner. 

Thank God for the vigilance of the pro-life movement throughout Ireland which is working so hard to resist the international pressures being brought to bear to legalise the killing of Ireland's unborn.  This vigilance includes the fourth all-Ireland rally for life takes place next Saturday in Belfast and Lelia tells me that buses will be travelling there from the following points:

Antrim [07980967994]; Armagh [07599489499]; Ballymena [07980967994]; West Belfast [07593914535]; Buncrana [0749361625]; Carnlough [07900883319]; Castlewellan [07766259933];           Cork [0876576568]; Craigavon [07771965059]; Derry (Creggan) [07814067471];  Derry (Shantallow) [07724791252];  Derry (Southway) [07779265415]; Downpatrick [02844843381]; Dublin (City Centre) [01-8730463]; Dublin (Tallaght) [0876729393]; Dunloy [02829541360];  Enniskillen [07787437914];  Galway [0876217702]; Kilrea [02829541360]; Louth [0877671657]; Lurgan [07708537242];                    Newry [02830252414 & 04830838783]; Omagh [02882259541]; Portadown [02838343091];                
Rasharkin 02829541360]; Strabane [ 02871883453]; Warrenpoint [07756897856]; Westport [0861785160]: Other information from: 02890278484 (Belfast); 01-8730463 (Dublin)

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Beauty shines out in the midst of the culture of death

An article in World Magazine tells five moving stories of mothers informed by doctors that their unborn child's condition was 'incompatible with life'.

Cody Holt, the author, says that every day, parents hear dire news about their unborn baby which is couched in clinical terms like "incompatible with life," "no quality of life," and "termination of pregnancy." Many mothers choose to abort but some don't, despite the uncertainty of not knowing whether their children will lead fairly normal lives, live with serious conditions, or die soon after birth.

Kim Illion, for example, despite doctors' advice, refused to abort her son Cole after he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Kim says it took her four months to grasp that her unborn son had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus—water on the brain—at 20 weeks. "I cried every single day," said the mother from Iselin, N.J, USA.

Kim and her husband ignored the advice of every doctor they saw who pressured them to abort. Doctors said their son would be a vegetable, disfigured, never talk or walk, on a respirator. Doctors even called the Illions selfish for refusing to abort or, as they put it, "explore other options."

The Illions were given hope when a neurosurgeon told them that there was no reason why Cole wouldn't lead a normal life. In the end, Kim Illion says, "He was born, and he was perfect." Cole went through brain surgery at 1 day old and has had 12 surgeries since.

Today, Cole (pictured with mum) is a healthy and happy 5-year-old. "Even when he's in the hospital getting surgery he smiles when he wakes up. You look at him smile and everything is ok," Illion said. Although he lags behind in areas like speech and potty training, he is otherwise a normal child. The Illions later started an organization, Hydrocephalus Kids, to raise awareness of the condition.

Do take time to read the rest of the article which provides a beautiful witness in the midst of the culture of death in which we are living.  And thank God that Cole's mum's idea of "perfection" differs from the idea of some of the doctors putting her under such cruel pressure. 

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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Responsible Catholics cannot turn a blind eye to the rumoured promotion of Archbishop Fisichella

In a small inside story of yesterday's Corriere della Sera, it's mentioned that Archbishop Rino Fisichella (pictured) is shortly to be appointed president of a new pontifical council - a pontifical council for the new evangelization. Last month, when this appointment was being rumoured, I said that Archbishop Fisichella should be sacked, not promoted. The rumour mill is turning strongly again in Rome this weekend and my opinion about the archbishop remains unchanged.

National Catholic Register tells us that John Paul II coined the term “the New Evangelization” to mean a reawakening of the faith in long-established Christian parts of the world, particularly Europe, but which have since fallen away from the faith.

My reasons for continuing to say that Archbishop Fisichella should be sacked not promoted include:
  • he stands by the original wording of his article in L'Osservatore Romano, last year, which implied that there are difficult situations in which doctors enjoy scope for the autonomous exercise of conscience in deciding whether to carry out a direct abortion
  • Frances Kissling, of Catholics for a Free Choice said of the archbishop's article in L'Osservatore Romano that it "has opened a crack, through which women, doctors and political decision-makers can slip in"
  • during the past week, as Pat Buckley, SPUC's lobbyist at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, has reported, that the United Nations Secretary General and the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, have jointly been leading international political manoeuvres to declare a "human right to abortion"; I believe that the United Nations will sense that their moment has come with the Catholic leadership's witness on the inviolability and dignity of every human life appearing to weaken
  • US President Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, his pro-abortion, secretary of state - who are bankrolling abortion worldwide - will recognize the significance of Archbishop Fisichella's appointment and will step up their efforts accordingly
  • Archbishop Fisichella's appointment will send the wrong signal to the Catholic bishops Conference of England and Wales whose policy, through the Catholic Education Service, is to co-operate with the British government's arrangements which have sought to ensure that schoolchildren, including Catholic schoolchildren, get access to abortion and birth control services
Responsible Catholics and pro-life leaders cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the damage to the common good, which includes the good of Archbishop Fisichella, by his appointment to such a post. If there is something one can do to speak up, to raise the alarm, to communicate our concerns, and to pray, we have a serious responsibility to present and to future generations to do so. As Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae, number 95:
"We need to begin with the renewal of a culture of life within Christian communities themselves. Too often it happens that believers, even those who take an active part in the life of the Church, end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements concerning life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting. With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth."

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Friday, 18 June 2010

University pro-life group leader calls for Irish resistance to abortion

Maria Mahoney, of the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Life Society, in a letter to the Irish Independent today, has said everything that needs to be said about the international anti-life political pressures on Ireland right now and about the case against legalizing abortion. Maria writes:
Poll after poll confirms that women who 'chose' abortion felt that they had no choice.

In reaction to this fear and panic, it is vital to respond with love for the gifts of motherhood and human life. Often, this is even more important than the practical, material help that we provide to women in a crisis pregnancy.

Legalising abortion, on the other hand, is a heartless and morally repugnant response that is essentially an act of aggression against women as well as their unborn children.

The abortion industry is a huge and extremely lucrative business with a grisly product to sell. So far, Ireland has resisted its deceptive and manipulative marketing.

If the European Court of Human Rights (backed by ideological scare-mongering from bureaucratic international NGOs) attempts to impose its pro-abortion agenda on Ireland at the conclusion of the ABC case, I hope the Irish will have the courage to resist this attack on human life.
SPUC joined other pro-life international organizations in filing a joint brief in the ABC case - seeking to defend Ireland's historic protection of the unborn. The case was heard on 8th December last year and judgement is awaited.

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Robert Colquhoun publishes treasure-store of eloquent pro-life witness

Robert Colquhoun has kindly made me aware of a wonderful resource for pro-lifers. The document 'A voice for the Voiceless' is a rich collection of quotes and images defending the life of the unborn child.

As a sample, here is one that caught my eye:
we will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life. When a child is described as a burden or is looked upon only as a means to satisfy an emotional need, we will stand up and insist that every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God, with the right to a loving and united family
Pope John Paul II's homily at Mass on the Washington Mall, October 7, 1979

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

It's not possible to practise IVF and respect human life

The mainstream media has noted a recent large scale study that suggests that babies born through IVF are more likely to have congenital disabilities. In particular the study suggests that children conceived thanks to IVF are more likely to experience heart problems and malformations of the uro-genital system.

This is the latest in a stream of negative reports about IVF. Earlier in the year the Telegraph reported on a study that suggested IVF may lead to infertility problems.

On Monday, Bhateri Devi (pictured above), a 66 year old woman, become the oldest woman in the world to give birth to triplets. On the same day a 72 year old woman, who gave birth thanks to IVF treatment at 70, revealed she is dying and criticised her IVF centre for not explaining the risks to women about having babies later in life.

In the UK this week Amanda Ross, a TV producer, said that she would not recommend IVF to anyone after numerous failed procedures left her stomach purple from injections.
This all comes after last week the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority statistics showed that many women choose to have abortions after having conceived through IVF.

In response to this Wesley Smith has suggested that IVF has led to the objectification of unborn human life.

Amidst all the challenges faced by the pro-life movement, we must continue to work openly and courageously for a ban on all IVF procedures. Opposing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) does not imply denying babies, conceived by IVF, their humanity. However, it's vital to oppose IVF as a way of conceiving children since it turns human beings into commodities to be brought to birth or discarded at will.

IVF amounts to the manufacture of human beings. The practice of IVF assumes that our offspring may be produced in the laboratory, and that the role of the natural mother, in safeguarding with her own body the welfare of the embryo from conception, may legitimately be transferred to other people. IVF thus makes embryos vulnerable, exposing them to the risks of being discarded, frozen or experimented upon. Countless human embryos have perished in the development and practice of IVF. Since the birth to the first IVF child over thirty years ago – well over two million embryos have been discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments. (2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469.)

As Dr John Fleming, SPUC's consultant on bioethics, puts it:
"There is no such thing as a form of IVF which respects life. Human life is disrespected in the embryos and in their parents by virtue of the process itself, namely the gestation of a human being outside of his natural environment."
In this connection, the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute has prepared a paper for SPUC regarding the “Creation and Transfer of Single Embryo in Reproductive Technology” which can be found here.

Catholic teaching on the matter, of course, is crystal clear: that it's not possible to practise IVF and to protect human life. The instruction Dignitas Personae, from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF) at number 14, explains:
"The fact that the process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos was already noted in the Instruction Donum vitae.[26] There were some who maintained that this was due to techniques which were still somewhat imperfect. Subsequent experience has shown, however, that all techniques of in vitro fertilization proceed as if the human embryo were simply a mass of cells to be used, selected and discarded.

"It is true that approximately a third of women who have recourse to artificial procreation succeed in having a baby. It should be recognized, however, that given the proportion between the total number of embryos produced and those eventually born, the number of embryos sacrificed is extremely high.[27] These losses are accepted by the practitioners of in vitro fertilization as the price to be paid for positive results. In reality, it is deeply disturbing that research in this area aims principally at obtaining better results in terms of the percentage of babies born to women who begin the process, but does not manifest a concrete interest in the right to life of each individual embryo."
And the SCDF instruction Donum Vitae, on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation says:
"The one conceived must be the fruit of his parents' love. He cannot be desired or conceived as the product of an intervention of medical or biological techniques; that would be equivalent to reducing him to an object of scientific technology. No one may subject the coming of a child into the world to conditions of technical efficiency which are to be evaluated according to standards of control and dominion. The moral relevance of the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and between the goods of marriage, as well as the unity of the human being and the dignity of his origin, demand that the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses. The link between procreation and the conjugal act is thus shown to be of great importance on the anthropological and moral planes, and it throws light on the positions of the Magisterium with regard to homologous artificial fertilization." (DV, II, B, 4c)
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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

UN officials promote "right to abortion" this week at Human Rights Council

Pat Buckley, SPUC's chief lobbyist at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, is appealing to church leaders and pro-life groups worldwide to oppose an extreme, "ideologically driven" pro-abortion report produced by Navanethem Pillay (pictured), the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and "bounced through" the HRC this week. Pat warns:
"This report is being bounced through the United Nations forums, blatantly ignoring any evidence which disputes its conclusions and deliberately avoiding debate. The clear intention of the powers-that be is to use this ideologically-driven report's findings to influence the Millennium Development Goals Review later this year at the UN in New York."
In a carefully stage-managed and one-sided debate in Geneva this week, both the Holy See and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the only pro-life NGO present at the Session, were excluded from making an intervention. SPUC's planned intervention can be found here. Pat explains:
"The preparation of the report and the subsequent debate were meticulously stage-managed this week in Geneva, to the exclusion of myself, on behalf of SPUC, and, more significantly, to the exclusion of the Holy See.

"The debate was carefully handled by limiting the time available for it. This resulted in the Holy See being excluded from making an intervention and it eliminated the only pro-life NGO voice present at the session, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Nevertheless two pro-abortion NGO’s, Amnesty International and the Centre for Reproductive Rights, representing a large group of pro abortion organizations such as International Planned Parenthood (IPPF) and IPAS, were given space to be heard.

"In the end, the lone opposition to the anti-life agenda, the Egyptian delegate, was very criticical of the inaccurate statistics and the push for the creation of a 'right' to abortion.

"Events in Geneva this week are the latest in international political manoeuvres to declare a human right to abortion, something which has eluded the pro-abortion lobby since their defeat at the 1994 UN conference on population and development, in Cairo.

"This week's pro-abortion report arose from a resolution approved in 2009, which called for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare 'a thematic study on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights'. Following approval of the resolution the thematic study was then elevated to be a joint report of both the High Commissioner and the UN Secretary General. The subsequent report and Monday’s one-sided debate are a prelude to the review of the Millennium Development Goals due to take place in September in New York - when, I've no doubt, this report will be back on the agenda."
Prior to preparation of her report the High Commissioner invited submissions from interested parties. However, despite the fact that a number of pro-life organizations made detailed submissions setting out the real causes of maternal death (and how high levels of maternal mortality in developing countries can be reduced without recourse to abortion) the High Commissioner's report cites so called “unsafe abortion” as one of the major causes of maternal mortality. It was based on the World Health Organisation statistics, which have been shown to be wildly inaccurate; and, once prepared, the report was carefully handled to sidestep any possibility of the flawed statistics being exposed or criticized in a resolution, thus undermining the report's credibility.  See the link above to Pat Buckley's planned intervention which exposes the evidential flaws in Navanethem Pillay's report.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

National Secular Society finds ultrasound image of unborn child "horrifying"

Last week I blogged on the new advertising campaign being launched this year by a coalition of Protestant Churches. The adverts will show an ultrasound image of an unborn baby with a halo around his head, with the accompanying words: “He’s on His way. Christmas starts with Christ.”

I was asked by Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent for The Times, to provide a comment. I said: “This advertisement sends a powerful message to everyone in Britain where 570 babies are killed every day in the womb, 365 days a year, under the Abortion Act. Whenever we kill an unborn child in an abortion, we are killing Jesus."

Ruth Gledhill's article also included a comment from Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society, who criticised the image. Mr Sanderson said: "At first glance it looks like a poster for a horror film — perhaps The Omen VI: He’s Coming to Get You."

Mr Sanderson's comments are particularly puzzling because this is an ultrasound image, much like those shown to the majority of expectant parents. These images are now an ordinary part of our lives and I am reliably informed that they are even sometimes posted on social networking sites such as 'facebook'.

I am inclined to ask Mr Sanderson: what is it about the image of an unborn child that you find so horrifying?

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Monday, 14 June 2010

Michael Gove scales back initiatives on personal social, health and economic education

In a little-reported letter, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, has written to Ed Balls, his predecessor in this role under the previous government, to say he is "scaling back initiatives" on personal social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

I do hope that this sounds the death knell of the legislative attempts made by Ed Balls a few months ago to include sex and relationships education, as part of PSHE education, within the national curriculum.

The previous government's legislation included: sex and relationships education for all state schoolchildren between the ages of 5 and 16; early explicit lessons at primary school; schools being told they must "signpost" or provide access to abortion and other sexual health services as part of sex education; access to abortion - for example through school nurses - must be on a confidential basis with parents having no right to be informed of their young teenage children receiving sexual health procedures such as abortion, long-term birth control implants, STD/HIV tests and treatment; parents being able to withdraw their children from SRE lessons up to the age of 15, after which all pupils would have had to attend all SRE lessons (as a parent I know that withdrawal of children from SRE lessons is supremely difficult to carry through).

Michael Gove says in his letter to Ed Balls: " ... the Department will make savings of £359 million from efficiencies, cutting waste, and stopping or scaling back lower priority spending ... " and he attaches "a full list of how the £359 million savings will be made" in an Annex to his letter.

The £359 million list of savings is entitled "Making efficiencies, reducing waste and making savings to lower priority programmes" and I am encouraged to see that Michael Gove's list includes, under Curriculum, "scaling back initiatives on PSHE".

It's certainly encouraging, as I say, if the previous government's legislative proposals are now dead in the water as a result of Michael Gove's spending decisions.

However, my very experienced colleague of the past 30 years, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary urges caution. He wants to remind us that sex and relationships education (SRE) is a hydra with many heads:
"Previous governments have been advancing their sex and relationships agenda in State schools, including Catholic schools, for many years through numerous interventions - and there is no guarantee that such interventions will not continue apace under the present government. These interventions are being used to promote links between sex and relationships education and sexual health services, including abortion: So we have:
  • the healthy schools initiative
  • Ofsted inspections
  • school-based drop-in clinics
  • Local teenage pregnancy co-ordinators in each education authority
  • school nurses
  • leaflets posters websites advertising sexual health services
  • Connexions personal advisers offering to discuss relationships, sexuality etc with teenagers"
I share Paul's caution entirely. Nevertheless, the legislative machinery to be established by the previous Government's bill, would have greatly increased the pressures on headteachers, including Catholic headteachers. Its effective defeat prior to the general election was a huge victory for the pro-life movement. If Michael Gove's letter to Ed Balls signifies the demise of this legislation that's very good news. We must maintain the pressure.

And whilst I think of it the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales could save the Catholic faithful a lot of money by folding up the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the bishops' conference.  We should recall that when the British government announced its intention to make sex and relationships education compulsory throughout both primary and secondary schools, in a simultaneous announcement, the Catholic Education Service shamefully made it clear, that not only would it collaborate with the government’s plans, but that it hoped parents would not choose to opt out by withdrawing their children from sex education.  In addition, the CES helped in the drafting of the previous government's draft guidance on sex and relationships education - guidance which is an anti-life/anti-family corncupia, including the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception, homosexuality and a "wide range of [sexual] practices".

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Saturday, 12 June 2010

"If my children come to harm I will hold the Catholic Bishops' Conference personally responsible" says mother of three

The Knights of Our Lady met in Braga, Portugal on the 4th - 6th June, to discuss the state of family life in the different European countries where the Order is represented. Fiorella Nash (pictured), mother of three young children, was invited to speak. Here is a shortened version of her address. She provides an eloquent, personal, summary of the previous government's sex education proposals and the pro-life's movement response to this.

The bold text is my emphasis - and I have taken the liberty of linking Fiorella's words to previous posts of mine etc.
I am going to focus on what, to me, is the greatest threat to family life in Britain today.
For many years now, governments have pursued a policy of imposing ever more explicit sex education on school children around Britain, including children at Catholic schools. Just to clarify, in case there is any doubt, sex education in this context does not mean – it has never meant – teaching children the facts of life, though it is sold as merely a way in which to give young people necessary, accurate information.

Sex education in Britain, as in many other countries, means the aggressive promotion of an ideology about human sexuality which is entirely at odds with Catholic teaching. This includes, to quote Ed Balls, our previous Education Minister, teaching that “homosexuality is healthy and normal”[*], teaching children how to access and use contraception on the understanding that contraceptive use is not just morally acceptable, but a positive and responsible step to take, and providing access to abortion for children under the age of sixteen without parental knowledge or consent.

Debates in Parliament about sex education tend to assume that there is a neutral position on sexuality, simply providing information, but there is no such thing. Simply talking about abortion, for example, as though it were morally neutral is in itself to take a pro-abortion position, in the same way that talking about the child porn industry as though producing and purchasing such material were simply a matter of personal choice would involve the inherent assumption there is nothing wrong with child pornography.

The dangerous clauses on sex education in the Children, Schools and Families bill as it was laughably called were finally deleted by the Government. This was a huge victory for families and for the pro-life movement. Tribute should be paid to the thousands of concerned people who lobbied the Government, including the 100 Catholic headteachers and governors, three bishops and over 300 Christian clergy who signed a letter published in the Telegraph opposing the bill.

I should say that during our campaign, we focused on ordinary clergy whom we found to be far more responsive and supportive than the bishops and we remain very grateful to the courageous witness of many priests.

However, we would be naïve if we thought that the threat to children and families will go away easily. A considerable proportion of schools in England, including Catholic schools, provide information on how to access contraception and abortion without parental knowledge or consent. This is happening with the co-operation of the Catholic authorities.

Sadly, more and more Catholic parents are telling us at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children about terrible experiences in Catholic schools, both at secondary and primary school level. At my own prestigious Catholic school, founded and run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we were handed condoms and told to 'get comfortable with them' on the grounds that 'we all know you're not going to stay virgins until you're married.' Protests on the part of Catholic parents and teachers seeking to protect young people do not appear to be heard. I would very much encourage your organisation to join with us in our campaign.

Tragically, when the Children, Schools and Families bill was being debated in Parliament, the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales not only failed to offer any opposition to a bill that would have promoted access to abortion and contraception in Catholic as well as non-Catholic schools, but Archbishop Vincent Nichols painted the Government's intentions in an entirely positive light. The Catholic Education Service helped in the drafting of the draft guidance on Sex and relationships education (which it welcomed as a positive step forward), which states:

"Information provided by schools should reflect the latest medical evidence available on topics such as: the efficacy of different contraceptive methods in preventing unplanned pregnancies and STIs; and pregnancy choices."


“Sex and relationships education should also increase pupils' knowledge and understanding at appropriate stages by
  • learning how to avoid unplanned pregnancy and STIs including
  • learning about contraception and infection avoidance
  • learning about pregnancy and the choices available learning about the range of local and national sexual health advice, contraception and support services available"
The collusion by an agency of the Bishops' Conference with the anti-life policies of the [then] Government was a wicked dereliction of duty that has left many Catholic parents feeling disillusioned and betrayed by the CES which was founded to protect and promote Catholic education. Incidentally, the Catholic Education Service, at the same time as stating that Catholics 'need to pull together' has appointed Greg Pope as its deputy director, a former MP with an appalling anti-life and anti-family voting record.

As a Catholic parent, I feel betrayed by the failure of the Catholic hierarchy to protect my children from this state-sponsored abuse. Parents are the primary educators of their children and any attempt to deny parents that fundamental right, upheld by Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be strenuously opposed. I can say without hesitation that if any of my children comes to harm as a result of these evil policies, I will hold the Catholic Bishops' Conference personally responsible because of its failure to take a strong stand against our government.

I cannot stress enough how fundamental the right of parents as primary educators is to the well-being of the family. As Mary Ann Glendon put it in her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights A World Made New:

“In the article on education [26]…[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime’s efforts to turn Germany’s renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government’s program…. [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’”

[*] Pope John Paul II taught that it was an illusion to think that we could build a true culture of human life if we did 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. However, with the bishops of England and Wales lending its support to legislation that obliges Catholic schools to provide information on contraception and abortion, is it not completely unrealistic to expect that Catholic sexual morality will be taught in these schools?

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