Saturday, 8 January 2011

More evidence is emerging that the EU's human rights agency is anti-family

More evidence is emerging that the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is actively undermining the protection of life and family in Europe. Dr Jakob Cornides, a lawyer-author who spoke at SPUC's 2008 national conference, has written a paper entitled "Human rights pitted against man (II) – the network is back", which follows his 2008 paper on the same theme and which exposes the FRA's agenda. In September 2009 SPUC's Pat Buckley warned how the European Parliament was using the FRA to put pressure on EU member-states to change laws which protect children. Now the FRA is moving to undermine the institution of the family by seeking to entrench support for same-sex unions.* The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) has kindly provided SPUC with the following review below of Dr Cornides' paper:

1. This paper by Jakob Cornides follows an earlier paper he wrote in 2008. That paper was prompted by an opinion provided by an EU network of experts who, relying on work by radical pro-abortion groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), argued for a right to abortion and the ceding of the right to conscientious objection to abortion. Cornides's main point was that radical lobby groups, coupled with like-minded EU appointed ‘experts’, are undermining genuine human rights and thereby subverting the common good.
2. The present paper is essentially a response to the same sort of subversion, in this case to extend throughout the European Union the legal benefits of marriage to all same sex couples.
3. The newly formed EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) recently published a study entitled “Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States”. Expertise for the study was provided by FRALEX (Fundamental Rights Agency Legal Experts), a significant number of whom were also members of the now defunct network of experts who argued for a right to abortion.
4. The strategy used by both the expounders for a right to abortion and by those for the right to marriage status for same sex couples is essentially the same – pretend that the rights already exist and thereby avoid real public debate and democratic decision-making.
5. FRALEX holds a position of considerable power. Cornides notes that it is funded to the tune of at least 10 million Euros over 4 years, likely involves 100 staff, “receives broad media coverage”, and has “unique access to political institutions”. “FRALEX is now in an exclusive and very powerful position to feed its ideology into the law-making process of the EU and the member states.”
6. FRALEX’s study on Homophobia makes the claim that “International human rights law requires that same-sex couples either have access to an institution … which provides them with the same advantages as ... marriage”, and if states don’t provide such an institution, they must nevertheless extend the advantages to all same-sex relationships which have “a sufficient degree of permanency”. Cornides exposes the nonsense in any claim that international human rights law requires any such thing, and furthermore, argues that FRALEX’s findings are intrinsically flawed and ironically would in fact curtail the rights of same-sex couples in some EU states if implemented.
7. Typical of the tactics used by the FRALEX experts is their reference to the case of Joslin v. New Zealand by the UN Human Rights Committee. In that case all 15 members agreed that there is no treaty obligation on states parties to provide for same-sex marriage, yet FRALEX focuses on opinions given by two members rather than the committee's actual decision, which was unanimous.
8. Cornides argues (convincingly) that FRALEX has a ‘creative’ approach to statistics. There have been few successful complaints about discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; for example, in the UK, 1324 complaints were made for 2003-6 and 35 succeeded. FRALEX argue that “fewer registered complaints clearly does not mean that there is less discrimination”. They provide no evidence to back up such an important statement. Even so, believing the problem to exist, FRALEX proposes the establishment of ‘equality bodies’ which could act on their own initiative, or from anonymous complaints, using trained lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff. Cornides’ concern is that there is a real risk that “the creation of specialized agencies could be tantamount to creating, or at least considerably inflating, the problem that such agencies purport to counter, and for which, so far, any evidence of its magnitude or very existence is lacking.”
9. The term homophobia, central to the FRALEX study, is itself problematic. Cornides discusses the nature of real phobias and how the term homophobia is often used in a “defamatory and totalitarian way” to imply that anyone opposed to the equivalence of all sexual orientations is either “mentally disordered” (possesses a phobia) or “intrinsically evil” (akin to racist).
10. The central issue that should really have been addressed by a study such as that conducted by FRALEX concerns the nature of marriage itself, and whether there really can be equivalence between opposite and same sex relationships. Cornides notes that it is telling that “not a single organization representing the interests, or benefits to society, of traditional families, attended a roundtable meeting organized to discuss follow-up to the FRALEX study.” How can something so fundamental to society receive such biased input?
11. In summary, Cornides's concerns are really twofold. First, that radical groups are attempting to redefine human rights by subversive means, thereby foisting on sovereign countries something to which they have not democratically agreed. And second, that in the FRALEX study sexuality is portrayed and promoted in a particular manner that is detached from its broader meaning. This narrow conception of sexuality has the potential to damage marriage and therefore the stability of families and communities.

*The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught (Evangelium Vitae, 1995, para.97) it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Friday, 7 January 2011

Eminent Vatican theologian provides useful perspective on AIDS and condoms

Mgr Michael Schooyans is a philosopher and theologian, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Life, and a Consultant of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In a 2005 paper entitled "AIDS and condoms", he set out to address the moral argument in statements made by prominent individuals from the academic and/or ecclesiastical world who attack the church and demand it change its position on the teachings on condoms and AIDS. In the light of the recent attacks upon the Catholic Church's perennial prohibition of all condom use, readers might find Mgr Schooyans' paper useful.


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Thursday, 6 January 2011

There is a paradox in society's attitude to infertility and child destruction

Wesley Smith (pictured right) has picked up on an interesting article by Ross Douthat of the New York Times called The Unborn Paradox. Douthat explores the tragedy of human life being readily discarded through abortion, but Smith rightly extends the discussion to account for those lives destroyed in IVF procedures. However, at the same time there remains a desperate longing for human life in society. Douthat insightfully comments that:
In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.
It is natural for human beings to long to raise children. However, there's an important distinction to be made between the exercising of that longing through applying for adoption and between undergoing IVF treatment. IVF procedures lead to the destruction of innocent human life. 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. IVF treatment disregards the worth of numerous lives while desperately seeking babies for couples unable to conceive. The disregard for life inherent to IVF procedures was made all the more evident last year when it was reported that many women choose to abort their children after conceiving through IVF.

I have said before that 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.

Douthat offers a powerful perspective into the plight of unborn children today. He says:
"This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed."
We must continue to work for a society where all human life is respected and legally protected.

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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Abortion follows in the wake of contraception

There have been two important stories in recent days linking abortion and contraception. Firstly, a study of women in Spain has found that abortion rates and contraception rates rose in parallel between 1997 and 2007. Secondly, among a large number of British women whose contraceptive implants failed, some went on to have abortions. Both stories need to be examined closely regarding the data used and the individual circumstances involved, but both stories provide evidence of the close association between contraception and abortion. The provision of contraception not only fails to prevent unplanned pregnancies but results in unborn children being victimised to death as the unwelcome consequences of so-called contraceptive failure.

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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

UK government should not be spending tax-payers' money on aborting the babies of poor people in the developing world

SPUC has responded to the recent announcement by the Department for International Development (DFID) that plans to spend an extra £2.1 billion on programmes including abortion and contraception. It is reported that adolescent girls in poor countries will be a target for UK interventions.

Peter Smith, SPUC’s specialist in international affairs, told the media today:
"It is farcical for the government to talk about safe abortions in situations without sterile surgical facilities, safe blood transfusion or emergency back-up. Running abortion clinics in slums, shanty towns and the bush will harm or kill women as well as killing babies.

"Among the abortion organisations that the UK government currently funds, one runs 30 clinics in South Africa, with 10 so-called mini-clinics in poor townships. The organisation says they are cheap to run, relying on pre-fab buildings, basic equipment and minimal levels of staffing. Since this group started working in South Africa, the maternal death rate, according to the UN, has increased over four-fold. If this kind of intervention is multiplied, the deaths of unborn children and maternal deaths can be expected to increase, not decrease.

“And what is the UK doing bankrolling illegal child sex around the world by promoting contraception for minors? We should learn the lesson of the disastrous government-funded attempts to reduce teenage abortions in the UK, which have focused on providing contraception. There has been a 13% increase in abortions among under 18s in the past 10 years, and a spiralling incidence of sexually-transmitted infections".
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Sunday, 2 January 2011

There is an amazing flourishing of pro-life work in Belarus

I am very happy to report that there is a flourishing pro-life movement in the former Soviet republic of Belarus. Vladislav Volohovich, a leading pro-life activist in Belarus, has kindly sent me the latest newsletter of the Open Hearts Foundation. Among other things the newsletter explains:
"During the long years of Soviet power we were instilled [with] a strange fear of pregnancy and childbirth, so women and men today simply do not know what to do with children, and do not want for themselves this "burden", and selfishness more and more captures young people. Fear of childbirth, negative attitude[s] of medical staff and many other [things] stop modern moms and dads [from child-bearing]."
The newsletter also details pro-life activity in Belarus' main cities: conferences, vigils, pilgrimages. Both the Orthodox Church, Belarus' majority denomination, and the Catholic Church are active in pro-life activity. So congratulations to Belarus' pro-lifers for starting to turn the historical and contemporary tide, and giving us in the West a great example.

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