Friday, 8 October 2010

My address on human rights to this week's pro-life congress in Rome

Below is an abridged version of the address I gave on Thursday at the World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome, organised by Human Life International (HLI). The full version can be found on SPUC's website in the original English, plus translations into German, Italian and Spanish.
Human rights: truth and illusion in Europe

Rights which are incompatible with natural law are not only invalid, but their promotion demands the subjugation of some human beings in order to advance the interests of others. Almost on a weekly basis we see such alleged rights invoked to justify public policies which threaten the most vulnerable in society or used to silence those who speak out in defence of Christian values and natural law. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than with the attempts to separate the right to life from the principles of natural law.

Despite attempts to distort them, international agreements like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognise the right to life of all members of the human family “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” This also includes the distinction of personhood and non-personhood held by some, including thus far, European courts, to apply to the unborn child.

We must call upon governments and human rights institutions to return to the original meaning of these documents which were drafted in response to the atrocities revealed by the Nuremburg Tribunals. To do this, we must become more familiar with the international agreements which were intended to protect all human beings at every stage of life. We must resist injustice and continue to speak out for those who cannot defend themselves.

Tragically, abortion is legal in the vast majority of the Council of Europe member states. For many years in Britain, our government has been pursuing a policy of providing access to abortion and birth control drugs and devices for children under the age of sixteen without parental knowledge or consent. Similar policies are being pursued by the Spanish government. Tragically, over 60 years on from the Universal Declaration and the Second World War, it seems that the lessons have not been learned, not in Britain by the British government, not in Spain, by the Spanish government, and the same pressures are developing in Ireland and, without doubt, in other countries in Europe.

Europe is under intense attack and the pro-life and pro-family movement and Catholic Church leaders must be in the front line of resistance. This is World War Three and it's primarily a war on the unborn and on parents as the primary educators of their children. There is in fact a worldwide attack on unborn children, on marriage and the family, and on parents as the primary educators of their children. It's being led by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world's largest abortion-promoting agency, which has its headquarters in London. This attack is also promoted by the pro-abortion lobby in the European institutions, including the European Commission which is the world's largest multilateral donor to International Planned Parenthood Federation.

This attack on the unborn and on families is also supported by leading international pro-abortion figures such as Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, who is clearly exploiting his entry into the Catholic Church in order to undermine Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, on marriage and on human sexuality, together with his wife Cherie Blair, who is also a Catholic; and by US President Barack Obama's administration. In Britain, this attack on unborn children, marriage and the family is also being supported by the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales.

Sadly, the situation is made even worse by church leaders who appear to have imbibed the spirit of the age. 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.

Disunity continues to grow in the Church throughout Europe because its leaders persist in failing to teach the doctrine and prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the transmission of human life. The use of contraceptive drugs and devices by so many Catholics, which may, according to the manufacturers, cause an early abortion, is draining the pro-life movement of the support of the community most likely to support the battle against abortion. Couples who may be turning a blind eye to the practice of abortifacient birth control in the intimacy of their married lives may well find it difficult to support our unequivocal campaigns against abortion, IVF, human embryo research and euthanasia.

I believe that the values of Nobel Prize Winner Mother Teresa who said in her acceptance speech: ""[T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion" will prevail over the values of Nobel Prize Winner, Barack Obama who has called for abortion on demand to be legalized throughout the world. Through our work in the years ahead, the dignity and inviolability of every human life will once again be reflected in people's consciences and national law, just as it's deeply entrenched in universally-binding human rights agreements. On the other hand, the values of the pro-abortion, pro-human embryo research lobby, reflected in the callous rhetoric of choice which tramples on human lives, born and unborn, will be consigned in the not so very distant future to a tragic chapter of human history.

The acceptance and implementation of the prophetic teaching of Humanae Vitae will only be possible if there is a radical change in the nomination policy of Bishops throughout Europe. The nominations of bishops who do not have a sustained and genuine track record of fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium on the transmission of human life (Humanae Vitae) must stop. Such nominations must stop because the cost in babies' lives is simply too great.
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Thursday, 7 October 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Pro-abortion lobby routed at Council of Europe in debate on conscientious objection

An attack on the right of conscientious objection to abortion was defeated this evening in the Council of Europe.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted on a report, the original text of which recommended a crack-down on medical personnel who refuse to be complicit in the provision of abortion and other unethical procedures.

Ronan Mullen (pictured), the Irish senator, and Luca Volonte of Italy, led the assembly in passing amendments which totally reversed the report, from a pro-abortion attack on conscientious objection to a defence of conscientious objection. Christine McCafferty, the report's British author and her fellow pro-abortion assembly-members were therefore forced to vote against their own report.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, told the media earlier this evening:
"This evening witnessed an incredible victory for the right of staff in medical institutions to refuse to be complicit in the killing of unborn children and other unethical practices.

"SPUC is immensely grateful to the large number of our supporters who lobbied the assembly in recent months, as well as to Senator Mullen, Mr Volonte and the assembly-members who supported them."
In the debate Senator Mullen pointed out that:
  • the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the rights of unborn children;
  • there is no human right to abortion, whereas conscientious objection is a basic principle of human rights;
  • the report's original text was in reality a furtherance of pro-abortion agenda.
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Help us protect children against TV condom adverts

SPUC is taking up the fight against TV condom adverts targeted at children, to protect all children and promote a culture of life.

Your children or grandchildren are being targeted. These are the dangers they face:
  • Showing condom advertisements at times when most children watch TV is priming them for teenage sex. This is wrong and harmful.
  • Condom campaigns don’t protect teenagers. Promoting condoms over the past 20 years has proved to be ineffective in reducing abortion, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV among teens.
  • We have shamefully high rates of teenage STIs and abortions, leaving our children with long-term physical and mental health problems. For example, the rate of chlamydia, which can cause infertility in girls, doubled among 16–19 year olds between 2000 and 2008.
  • Condoms create a false sense of security among teenagers. Studies show that greater access to contraceptives and abortion leads to increased risk-taking behaviour among some teenagers.
  • Children watch TV. They talk about TV. They copy behaviour on TV. They want what’s on TV. Please support our campaign to stop TV condom adverts.
Please:
  • order copies of SPUC's new flyer "Protect children against condom TV adverts" (sample image) The flyer's reverse side contains a mini-petition, as well as suggestions for other ways to support SPUC's campaign.
  • order copies of our full-length petition to Ofcom, the official regulator for broadcast advertising (sample image)
  • read (and order copies of) SPUC's briefing on condom TV adverts. Among other things, this will help you write to your MP about the issue.
You can order this material by contacting SPUC:
  • by email to orders@spuc.org.uk
  • by telephone to (020) 7091 7091
  • by post to SPUC HQ, 3 Whitacre Mews, Stannary Street, London, SE11 4AB.
Can you promote the petition in local churches, or on the high street, or door to door? If you would like the help of other SPUC supporters in your area to do this, please let us know where you live, and we will put you in touch with others.

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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Health minister should end public funding of abortion advocates

SPUC in Northern Ireland is urging the health minister to end the public funding of the Northern Ireland Family Planning Association (NI FPA). The call comes on the eve of a conference organised by the FPA and which is aimed at training doctors in the medical and surgical techniques of abortion.

Speaking about the conference in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Co. Down, later this week, Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, told the media earlier today:
“This conference is not merely part of the FPA’s campaign to overturn legal restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland, it is principally intended to instruct doctors here in the actual procedures used to kill children before they are born. Many of the speakers are themselves experienced abortionists working for Marie Stopes International or the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

“While this conference presents abortion as a medical procedure it is, in fact, an elective procedure and presumptively illegal in Northern Ireland. It is also illegal to help procure an abortion here. In Britain, it is almost always carried out for social reasons and actually endangers the health of women. Abortion is identified with numerous risks but has no documented health benefits. Research shows that a high percentage of women are likely to have some symptoms of post-traumatic stress after abortion, with at least a six times higher risk of death from suicide compared to women who carried their children to term.

“It is not the job of the FPA to tell doctors in Northern Ireland how to perform abortions. The Northern Ireland health department is presently drawing-up guidance for doctors on abortion law and clinical practice here. It is outrageous that abortion providers, such as the FPA, should disregard the consultation process by promoting abortion practices which are incompatible with the law in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Gibson.

“The FPA receives a substantial amount of funding from the Northern Ireland health budget. It is therefore, reasonable to ask if public money should be used to support a group that organises an event of this kind. In light of the difficult financial climate we face in Northern Ireland, it is time the funding of the FPA was re-examined. We are calling on Minister of Health to end the funding of a group that has shown nothing but contempt for the law.”
The First All-Ireland Conference on Abortion and Clinical Practice organised by FPA will take place Friday 8 October 2010 at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle, County Down BT33 0AH.

Notes:

1) For figures relating to suicide after abortion, see Gissler M, Hemminki E, Lonnqvist J. Suicides after pregnancy in Finland: 1987-1994: register linkage study. British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 1431-4.

2) Numerous studies have linked abortion with preterm delivery (less than 37 weeks) in subsequent pregnancies. The largest European study of this subject showed an even greater risk of early preterm birth (less than 32 weeks). Martius JA, Steck T, Oehler MK, Wulf K-H. Risk factors associated with preterm (<37+0 weeks) and early preterm (<32+0 weeks): univariate and multi-variate analysis of 106,345 singleton births from 1994 statewide perinatal survey of Bavaria. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1998;80:183-189

3) Early preterm infants constitute the majority of those children born with serious physical and mental disabilities, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, lung infections, and cerebral palsy. Escobar GJ, Littenberg B, Petitti DB. Outcome among surviving very low birthweight infants; a meta-analysis. Arch Dis Child 1991;66:204-211.

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SPUC's bioethical consultant publishes important new book on reproductive ethics

Fr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has published a new book entitled: "Dignitas Personae Explained: The Church's teaching on reproductive and related technologies". In December Fr Fleming had provided me with a brief review of Dignitas Personae, an Instruction issued by the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith. Here is the blurb of Fr Fleming's book courtesy of the publishers:
"Infertility and the suffering associated with it has always been a tragic part of the human experience. This is especially true today. Various medical remedies have been developed to deal with human infertility, with artificial reproductive technologies being widely used. There are many treatments for infertility which are approved by the Catholic Church. But the use of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and related technologies have been condemned as contrary to the natural moral law. This book provides both an account of Church teaching and why the Church teaches what she does in a way that is accessible to the interested layperson.
'Dr John Fleming reflects on, and amplifies, this new teaching document of the Church to make it all the more accessible to those who ought to benefit from it: not only those in the pew but also those in the laboratory who are not even religious.' Dr John Hass, from the Foreword.
Dr John Fleming is an internationally renowned expert in bioethics with a past career in the mainstream media. He is Adjunct Professor of Bioethics at Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (Adelaide, South Australia), and a Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Vatican). Dr Fleming was a foundation member of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee which worked on producing international law in relation to human rights and the human genome."
The book is available via Connor Court Publishing and priced at Aus$18.95. Do please buy a copy and recommend it widely.

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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Norman Wisdom, my boyhood hero, dies

I was saddened to hear today that Norman Wisdom, my boyhood hero, has died. Some of my happiest memories are laughing till I cried with my dad, Jack Smeaton, watching Norman Wisdom's latest film at the cinema. (My late mum and dad are my lifetime heros. Their example, lobbying against the Abortion Act 1967, led me into the pro-life movement.)

I don't know what youtube video gives me more pleasure - the first, below, from Trouble in Store, made in 1953, or the second, below, showing him still entertaining audiences in 2007 in the care home where he lived.




Thanks Norman for all the pleasure you gave to so many during your life. Rest in peace!

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Nobel prize for IVF is wrong

The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to Professor Robert Edwards (pictured) for co-inventing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is wrong.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, told the media earlier today:
"IVF is possible because of one simple fact: human life begins at fertilisation/conception. But IVF is an abuse of this knowledge. IVF puts human embryos at a vast disadvantage - they are subject to testing and discrimination, freezing and storage, disability and death. Countless human embryos have perished in the development and practice of IVF. Since the birth of 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.*

"While opposing the IVF process, we insist that IVF embryos and babies must be accorded all the rights and dignity that any human person deserves.

“IVF has made it possible to search out and destroy disabled embryonic children. Our society should not be applauding legal and scientific advancements in the targeting and killing of disabled human beings.

“IVF doesn't actually treat infertility problems, it merely bypasses them. IVF is in reality a large-scale experiment abusing and destroying early human life. Recent studies suggests that babies born through IVF are more likely to have genetic and congenital disabilities.**

"Giving Professor Edwards a prize for promoting the abuse of human embryos by IVF is an effront to mankind, and especially to disabled people."
The Billings Ovulation Method and NaProTech (Natural Procreative Technology) are ethical, healthy and far more successful alternatives to IVF. Unlike IVF, in Billings and NaProTech no embryonic children are killed or exposed to harm in the laboratory, and couples' relationships are strengthened.

* 2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469. BioNews, 9 January 2008

** Independent, 14 June 2010 ; Telegraph, 8 February 2010 ; Independent, 22 March 2009

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