Saturday, 29 January 2011

Surrogacy objectifies women and commodifies children

Melinda Tankard-Reist (pictured), an Australian pro-life bioethicist, has written an excellent article analysing the wrongness of surrogacy. I've posted some choice quotes from Melinda's article below.

From "Gestational carrier is an ugly term" by Melinda Tankard-Reist, The Australian, 19 January:
  • "The objectification of women's bodies and commodification of childbirth came together yesterday in a single antiseptic phrase contained in the announcement of a second child for actress Nicole Kidman and her musician husband Keith Urban:
'Our family is truly blessed . . . to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret. No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier.'
  • "In those last two words, the woman whose body nurtured this child for nine months is stripped of humanity. The phrase is reminiscent of other terms popular in the global baby-production industry, such as suitcase, baby capsule, oven and incubator. The detached language views women as disposable uteruses. This dismantling of motherhood denies the psychological and physiological bonds at the heart of pregnancy."
  • "Of course the birth of any baby is worthy of celebration. But that doesn't mean we should avoid hard questions about the fragmentation of motherhood, about a child who may wonder about their birth mother and why she is not raising them."
  • "In the US commodification of a child knows few limits. Journalist Bill Wyndham, pretending to be a single, HIV-positive gay man, was told by a surrogacy company he'd make a perfect dad. He was, however, not allowed to adopt a puppy from the dog pound."
  • "The process of pregnancy, labour and delivery followed by summoning extraordinary reserves of strength to surrender that baby, cannot be reduced to the science fiction that the woman who does all this is merely a 'gestational carrier'."
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Friday, 28 January 2011

Bedroom abortions court hearing to go in second day

The High Court hearing into bedroom abortions (see 13 January SPUC release), being held this afternoon, will not conclude today but will continue next Friday (4 February). This is due to delays in the court's schedule today. SPUC is being represented by legal counsel at the hearing.

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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pro-life youth should book now for this year's International Youth Pro-Life Conference

The fourth International Youth Pro-Life Conference, organised by SPUC, will be held between Friday 18 and Sunday 20 March this year at the Loch Lomond Youth Hostel, north-west of Glasgow, Scotland. This conference is an excellent opportunity for young people from across the globe to network, socialise, make friends and empower one another to spread the pro-life message. This year's conference will be building on the last 3 years’ conferences that have seen hundreds of young people from all over the world come together to learn about pro-life issues, get ideas of how to actively defend and promote life and meet with fellow pro-lifers.

This year’s conference has the theme No Less Human. The focus will be on the value and need to defend all human life, regardless of the physical or mental characteristics of that life or particular stage of life development.

Speakers will include:
  • Fr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant and world-renowned bioethicist
  • Andy Pollard, well-known within the pro-life movement as an energetic and dynamic speaker on population issues
  • John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
  • Lynn Murray, a pro-life activist and disability rights campaigner
  • Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager
If you are aged between 16-35 years of age and would like to attend this amazing weekend, please visit the conference website http://spucconference.org.uk or contact Joe Lee in the SPUC Scotland office on (0141) 221 2094 or email at joe@spucscotland.org

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Abortion is the euthanasia lobby’s road-map

Monday's Independent newspaper featured an interview with Dr Ann McPherson, who is a spokesman and activist for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) (now all-too-conveniently repackaged as "Dignity in Dying") and its offshoot, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying - which should more accurately be named "Killing Not Care". The end of the inteview reads:
"McPherson acknowledges that people may be depressed, or feel a burden, or come under pressure from relatives. But these issues are not peculiar to dying – they apply in other areas such as abortion.

Like the Abortion Act, an Assisted Dying Act would be about giving people – in this case the terminally ill – the right to choose. And as with abortion 'you would probably need two doctors to approve it.'"
This is not the first time that the pro-death lobby has argued for assisted suicide using a comparison with the Abortion Act. Debbie Purdy, the disabled woman whose VES-backed court case led to the undermining of protection for the disabled, said:
"Since the 1961 Suicide Act was introduced we have legalised homosexuality and abortion without making them compulsory. We need to look at the law on assisted suicide again and think about how that could be legalised too with proper safeguards in place."
Indeed, Sarah Wootton, the VES's head, used to work for the pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA) and was a founding trustee of Abortion Rights.

So it's unsurprising that Dr McPherson doesn't sound particularly bothered about assisted suicides requested under duress. After all, most legal abortions are unwanted or coerced. McPherson's and Wooton's support for assisted suicide is, like their support for abortion, based more on ideology than patient welfare. Should assisted suicide be enshrined in law, the VES will soon be working to undermine the very safeguards they claim to support - just as the pro-abortion organisations which Sarah Wootton used to work for are now lobbying to remove the two-doctors requirement.

So the VES has very helpfully set out their road-map for assisted suicide and euthanasia, based on abortion law. If that road-map is followed, we will thefore see:
  • permission in so-called 'hard cases' lead to killing on demand and killing under duress
  • so-called safeguards ignored, falsely interpreted and undermined
  • medics and others with a conscientious objection persecuted
  • taxpayers' money diverted
and many of the other evils attendant upon the practices of the culture of death.

In 1925 a certain Austrian politician set out his own road-map for changing societal norms, including a rejection of the sanctity of life. Many people dismissed the road-map, and labelled the people warning about it as scaremongers. 20 years later over 50 million people lay dead, including millions killed through the author's openness to suicide, euthanasia and abortion. It's high time for a road-block, so I'm greatly relieved by last night's vote by the French Senate to reject assisted suicide and euthanasia.

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French Senate's rejection of assisted suicide and euthanasia is welcome

Overnight the French Senate rejected proposals to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia, by 170 votes to 142. Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, had spoken out strongly against the proposals.

As I told the media earlier today, I hope that this victory for life will help people in the UK understand the strong opposition elsewhere to assisted suicide and euthanasia. The UK will do irreparable damage to its international reputation if it continues down the path of killing patients. The French vote is a wake-up call to UK politicians to start overturning laws, policies and court judgments which enshrine euthanasia by dehydration and which tolerate assisted suicide. I express our congratulations and admiration for the French pro-life movement in securing this victory for the sick, the disabled and the elderly.

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

We need pro-life bishops who are not respecters of persons

Today Catholics celebrate the Conversion of St Paul. In his Epistle to the Romans, St Paul says (2:11):
"For there is no respect of persons with God"
Respecting persons is rejected in numerous other places in Sacred Scripture. It means that God's law applies equally to all persons, rich or poor, strong or weak, famous or obscure. God is not impressed with flowery words, studied artifice or manufactured sentiments, but with loving obedience to His commandments, not least "Thou shalt not kill".

That's why I am very grateful to Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island, America, who has punctured the balloon of President Barack Obama's rhetoric. In his local Catholic newspaper, Bishop Tobin wrote about Mr Obama's words in response to the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona:
"[T]here was something that left me cold, unimpressed and unmoved ... President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous ... As he stood on the stage in Tucson, he was a prophet without credentials; his speech, a song without a soul."
Bishop Tobin's cutting criticism of Mr Obama is in stark contrast to the silence of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in response to British pro-abortion leaders. For example, none of the bishops are on record as pointing out the hypocrisy of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or David Cameron. I believe this is because the policy of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales is to respect persons in government and officialdom. This is evidenced by:
Rather, we need more bishops like Thomas Tobin who, like St Thomas More, are "the King's good servant, but God's first".

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Let's pray for Dr Gosnell's conversion to life

The worldwide pro-life movement is reflecting and commenting on the reports regarding Dr Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist accused of running the most bloody and sordid abortion business perhaps ever recorded. Dr Gosnell and his staff are accused, among many other things, of:
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, wrote in 2005 a dissertation on the subject of abortion centre staff. Anthony has sent me his reaction to Dr Gosnell's case:
"Firstly, it is important that, in commenting on Dr Gosnell's case, pro-lifers are careful to uphold the principle that a man is innocent until proven guilty, however overwhelming the evidence in this case. Dr Gosnell must receive a fair trial, for the sake of truth, justice and mercy. My comments on his case are dependent upon Dr Gosnell actually being proved guilty in a court of law.

Secondly, Dr Gosnell's alleged crimes constitute but one case among many - though perhaps the worst recorded one - of gross moral degradation among abortionists. The details of Dr Gosnell's alleged degradation are indications that abortion is wrong, as those details mirror very closely the details of other cases of mass killing. For example, Dr Gosnell's alleged collection of baby feet is similar to the eyeballs collected by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. (It should be noted that after the second world war Mengele was an abortionist and was at one point detained by the authorities following the death of one of his women patients.)

Lastly, many abortionists will, like Mengele, remain morally asleep until death, but there is a growing number of abortion centre staff whose consciences reawaken. The prosecutor in Dr Gosnell's case has been reported as saying that he may ask the courts to impose the death penalty on Dr Gosnell. It is therefore vitally important that religious believers pray for Dr Gosnell, that his current ignominy will became the occasion of his conversion. I will be praying in union with Human Life International's prayer campaign for the conversion of abortionists."
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Sunday, 23 January 2011

DNA blood test for Down's sends out lethal message to the disabled

Scientists in Hong Kong are reported to have developed a blood test for Down's syndrome, using DNA. Janet Thomas of No Less Human, a group within SPUC representing disabled people, gave me her response to the news:
"This article refers to the underlying assumption by the medical profession and the national pre-natal testing programme that it is acceptable to kill on the grounds of disability. The most common disability sought and detected is that of Down’s syndrome (or more properly Trisomy 21). It was noted in an article in the BMJ many years ago that '..studies show that detecting and eliminating two babies with Down’s syndrome by screening programmes costs one ‘normal’ baby who succumbs as a result of the programme. The loss of one ‘normal’ baby is thought to be a price worth paying.' (Venn-Treloar, J. “Nuchal Translucency – screening without consent” British Medical Journal 12 September 1998)

This new blood test only seeks to ensure that as few ‘normal’ babies are lost in the attempt to detect and eliminate all Down’s syndrome babies. However, the vast majority of pre-natal tests aim to detect disabled babies with the aim of aborting them and this so–called 'accurate new DNA test' is specifically aimed at Down’s syndrome babies.

Economic arguments are sometimes presented to women, to justify pre-natal detection of disability. These claim that as disabled people 'cost society a lot of money' it is preferable to detect disabled babies in the womb. They can then be aborted and save the country the money it would have spent in caring for them. (“Hidden cost of testing for Down’s” by Dr. Kieran Sweeney. The Times 5 April 1994; White Page, C. “Screening for Fragile X is cost effective and accurate.” British Medical Journal 26 July 1997; “Reducing the Risk: Safer Pregnancy and Childbirth. HMSO. London. 1977)

Pre-natal testing sends out a strong message to adult disabled people that society would very much rather that they did not exist.

No Less Human campaigns to protect the most vulnerable of human beings from harm because it holds as the foundational principle of a civilised society that every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

Pre-natal testing in order to eliminate those found to have a disability, in this case Down’s syndrome, can never be ethical, because it involves denying to disabled babies their infinite human worth, and their absolute right to life."
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