Saturday, 25 June 2011

SPUC is disturbed by government discussions on abortion counselling

Frank Field MP
SPUC is disturbed by a report that the Department of Health is in discussions with Labour MP Frank Field about how to change the law on counselling for women considering abortion.

An exclusive report in yesterday's Liverpool Daily Post revealed that Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, has invited Mr Field to talk to departmental officials about changing the law through regulations, rather than via amendments to primary legislation. Mr Field and Nadine Dorries MP have tabled amendments to the government's Health and Social Care Bill (see SPUC's comment on those amendments)

As Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
"We are extremely disturbed at this news. We said when Mr Field and Mrs Dorries first announced their initiative that their efforts to try to stop women being exploited by pro-abortion counsellors could be twisted to have the opposite effect by Department of Health regulations. This is what we suspect is happening here. The high abortion rate in this country is driven by senior officials in the Department of Health who are strongly committed to abortion on demand - contrary to the 1967 Abortion Act. The Department of Health has no target for reducing abortions and rejects strategies that could help to drive down the rate.

On the contrary the teenage pregnancy strategy, which was supposed to halve under-18 births by 2010, is being continued by officials. The strategy promotes abortion, and the number of abortions among under-18s in the past 10 years has grown significantly."
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Friday, 24 June 2011

This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Friday 24 June

Jamaican pro-life missionaries
Abortion
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Thursday, 23 June 2011

The best of the commentary on the Pratchett assisted suicide programme

Sir Terry Pratchett
I thought it would be useful to look back and highlight some of the best commentary regarding Sir Terry Pratchett's BBC documentary on assisted suicide (below in chronological order). Many thanks to all those SPUC supporters who responded to our alert calling for complaints to be made to the BBC.

Peter Saunders, "Why I told the Daily Mail that the BBC was acting as the ‘cheerleader’ for assisted suicide", Christian Medical Comment, 16 April 2011:
"This programme will be the fifth produced by the BBC in just three years, presented by a pro-euthanasia campaigner or sympathiser, which has been specifically designed to portray taking one’s own life in a positive light."
Geoff Morris, "This saccharine portrayal of assisted suicide appals me", Daily Mail, 11 June 2011:
"As a piece of shameless propaganda, Terry Pratchett’s film is brilliant. But as an analysis of the truth behind so-called ‘assisted suicide’, it is grossly misleading and unbalanced ... For me, a disabled man with multiple sclerosis, this approach is profoundly troubling ... What has been inflicted on viewers is a repellent exercise in deceit. So untrue and distorted is Sir Terry’s film that it should really be classified as fictional drama rather than documentary."
William Rees-Mogg, "Why assisted suicide can never be right", Daily Mail, 11 June 2011:
"Death itself has a certain fascination which can be fatally attractive, particularly to depressives and adolescents. If people who already have a hankering to end their own lives are exposed to pro-suicide propaganda on television, some of them are likely to commit the final act."
Francis Phillips, "The BBC is drip-feeding assisted dying propaganda into our living rooms", Catholic Herald, 14 June 2011:
"This was consummate propaganda on the part of the BBC. The quick visit to a hospice, and the few words allowed to a carer there, did not remotely present the alternative case. The programme was weighted entirely on the seemingly reasonable and unanswerable notion that just as we have choice in other areas of our lives, we should have the choice to die when and how we want (and not have to pay £10,000 for the privilege)."
Dominic Lawson, "Why the disabled fear assisted suicide", Independent, 14 June 2011:
"[A]ssisted suicide for the severely physically disabled could so insidiously turn from being a liberating option into something more like an oppressive social obligation. I have no doubt that Terry Pratchett's campaign has good intentions; but for the very people he most means to help, they could pave the road to Hell."
Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican bishop of Rochester, Daily Mail, 15 June 2011:
"I think an opportunity has been bypassed of having a balanced programme – the thousands of people who use the hospice movement and who have a good and peaceful death, there was very little about them. This was really propaganda on one side."
Tim Lott, "The top of a slippery moral slope", Independent, 15 June 2011:
"I am instinctually in favour of assisted suicide. But the programme left me feeling uncomfortable. I have no time for the religious argument. And yet, I hesitate to fully sign up for the cause – simply because I wanted to die once, and have been enormously relieved that I never did anything about it. Admittedly I was suffering mental rather than physical illness – in my case acute depression. I had been suffering agony for four years and saw no end in sight. But with hindsight it is plain to me that you can be very serious about your wanting to die, having taken all matters into account – and most of those around me thought I was absolutely in my right mind – then later discover that you very nearly made a literally fatal mistake."
Dr William Oddie,"I agree: the BBC favours ‘the right to die’. But watch out. That’s a phrase with a sinister history", Catholic Herald, 16 June 2011:
"...[w]hat Sir Terry called in a contribution to the Newsnight discussion his “right to death”. When I heard him use that phrase, however, I shuddered, for it has a sinister history: it recalls vividly the entire reasonableness of the successful campaign in Germany during the 1910s through to the 20s and 30s to convince the medical profession that “assisted dying” or “sterbehilfe” for those with an impaired “quality of life” (to use a modern expression which also has sinister historical overtones) as morally acceptable"
David Sweetman, who helped take his partner's mother-in-law to Dignitas in 2009, Daily Mail, 18 June 2011:
"That vision of [the Dignitas builiding, ] what was little more than a blue tin shed will stay with me for the rest of my life. It reminded me of a gas chamber. I felt like I was taking Rona to her execution."
Peter Hitchens, "This man in black is leading us to a very dark place", Daily Mail, 18 June 2011:
"Couldn’t you see the unspoken thought – that it might be more convenient for the old and ill to be hurried into the grave – lurking behind the black-clad figure of Sir Terence Pratchett as he presented his pro-death programme at the licence-payers’ expense last week?"
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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Please support SPUC's summer campaign to help keep children safe at school

SPUC is conducting a major campaign this summer to help keep children safe at school. The key elements of the campaign are below. When ordering from SPUC HQ, please email orders@spuc.org.uk or telephone (020) 7091 7091.

Petition
  • Child protection petition entitled "Give children back their childhood": I blogged about this on 6 May. This Saturday (25 June) is SPUC's National Petition Day, though the petition will continue over the summer. Please download the petition and order the accompanying petition guidelines.
Leaflets
  • Child protection leaflet entitled "Give children back their childhood" (mildly-phrased version): see a sample and contact SPUC HQ to order
  • Child protection leaflet entitled "Give children back their childhood" (strongly-phrased version): see a sample and contact SPUC HQ to order.
Bulletin
  • Campaign bulletin, summer 2011: "Fighting sex DVDs in schools": read the bulletin and contact SPUC HQ to order extra copies.
Briefing
  • Briefing on sex and relationships education (SRE): comprehensive facts and arguments, of particular relevance to the ongoing discussions within government and in Parliament. Please order from SPUC HQ.
Meetings
  • Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at Schools campaign is addressing public meetings around the country, supporting local parents who want to protect their children from explicit SRE lessons in their schools. The next meeting on Wednesday 29 June - see my blog-post yesterday for full details.
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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Wednesday 22 June

Abortion
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Yorkshire walkers brave rough conditions to raise funds for SPUC

A hardy team of walkers braved rough Yorkshire terrain and wet weather last weekend to raise money for unborn children.

Seven local SPUC supporters completed the Lyke Wake Walk, trekking 44 miles across the North Yorkshire Moors, some of the most inhospitable moorland terrain in Britain. Traditionally, the challenge is to complete the walk within 24 hours, but the team of both young and older adults completed it in 17 hours. The walk began at 3am in Osmotherly, North Yorkshire, on Saturday (18 June), and finished at Ravenscar on the Yorkshire coast at 8.10pm.

Michael Hill of Rotherham, SPUC's vice-chairman and one of the walkers, said:
"The wet weather conditions made the walk significantly more difficult. There were tears of joy and tears of pain along the way, but what made the day special was the dedication of everyone involved, not just to the work of SPUC, but for one another too."
The Lyke Wake Walk is 43 miles long, but the walkers added an extra mile to mark 44 years since the passing of the Abortion Act 1967. The money raised will be spent on SPUC's campaigns to get the truth about abortion to doctors, encourage a pro-life ethic in medicine and drive down the abortion rate. There are around 600 abortions in Britain every day.

People wishing to donate in honour of the sponsored event should:
High-resolution images suitable for publication are downloadable at:
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Emergency public meeting called as parents fear schools are manipulating sex ed curriculum

An emergency public meeting has been called in Tower Hamlets on 29 June in response to parents' fears that local primary schools are manipulating sex education classes, resulting in parents being deprived of their legal right to withdraw their children from the classes.

Parents from at least one local school are concerned that sexually-explicit DVDs are being shown in statutory science lessons. It is illegal for parents to take their children out of national curriculum subjects, whereas they are permitted to withdraw their children from sex and relationships education (SRE).

An open letter has been sent to all state-maintained primary schools in Tower Hamlets, setting out concerns both about the content of the materials used to teach young children about sex and the manner in which schools are sidelining parents.

The letter is from four organisations who state that they are “committed to defending the rights of parents and opposing the premature sexualisation of young children through explicit SRE.”

Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, one of the letters signatories, said: "We are hoping that parents with primary-age children will come to the meeting to find out what their children are being taught, their rights as parents, schools' responsibilities and the local authority's role."

Antonia Tully of Safe at School can be contacted on (020) 8407 3463 or safeatschool@spuc.org.uk

When: Wednesday 29 June 2011, 7pm - 9pm.
Where: London Muslim Centre, 82-92 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1 JQ.
Speakers: Antonia Tully of Safe at School and Yusuf Patel of SRE Islamic
Organised by: Safe at School (a campaign on behalf of parents by SPUC) in conjunction with East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre.
Open letter to headteachers, school governors and local authorities

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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tuesday 21 June

Cardinal Pell
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics
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Monday, 20 June 2011

This afternoon's must-read pro-life news-stories, Monday 20 June

Andrew Mitchell, UK aid minister
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Andrew Mitchell, UK aid minister, is stuck in the era of anti-birth dinosaurs

SPUC has responded to just-published parliamentary answers in which Andrew Mitchell, the secretary of state for international development, said that the UK government backs so-called "family planning" to "help reduce unwanted fertility and reduce population growth" (see below).

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
"Andrew Mitchell is stuck in the era of anti-birth dinosaurs. He blames environmental degradation on poor people who have more children than he thinks they should. This kind of thinking should be consigned to the history books, along with the attitude that the poor are to blame for their own existence. The reality is that development can only happen with sufficient concentration of human resources – of people – to enable infrastructure to be built and maintained. Waste recycling, flood defences and sewage treatment are examples of systems that are beyond the means of poor, sparsely-populated areas.

Mr Mitchell claims that current levels of growth are unsustainable, but that is not the case. Populations in many western countries would already be shrinking but for immigration from poorer countries. In the developing world, an increasing number of countries have birthrates below replacement level, and all the factors affecting fertility are moving in an anti-natal direction. Factors like age at marriage, age at first child-bearing, educational levels, etc., are all tending to reduce fertility rates. Birthrates are falling everywhere, and falling faster than anyone anticipated in the 1970s.

Mr Mitchell needs to wake up to the fact that the era of the so-called population bomb is history. The danger now is that developing countries will go into premature population decline and stunt their educational, economic and cultural development.

Mr Mitchell cites the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development as grounds for promoting family planning, but ICPD said that abortion should never be promoted as a means for family planning. In its May 2011 spending review, DfID announced that it will spend nearly half a billion pounds on projects that include reproductive health which covers both abortion and contraception. DfID won’t say how much of this goes on abortion, but we know it funds lobbying, infrastructure and services for abortion. Tax payers have a right to know how DfID is spending their money, and how many babies are dying as a result."
House of Commons, 16 June 2011, column 955W http://bit.ly/maSAA5

Developing Countries: Family Planning

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make it his policy to press his counterparts at the Rio Earth Summit preparatory meetings to (a) invest in and (b) prioritise family planning services for the purposes of population stabilisation, poverty eradication and sustainable development. [59748]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK Government recognise the links between population, environmental degradation and stresses on natural resources. DFID will continue to work closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which leads the British Government’s preparations for Rio2012, to ensure that critical factors in encouraging more sustainable trajectories of growth are addressed.

Meeting the need for family planning, together with wider investment in girls’ education and empowerment, will help reduce unwanted fertility and reduce population growth. DFID is committed to enabling at least 10 million more women in developing countries to use modern methods of family planning by 2015 and, in doing so, prevent more than 5 million unintended pregnancies.

House of Commons, 16 June 2011, column 956W http://bit.ly/kWuq3s

Developing Countries: Poverty

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will (a) attend the Rio Earth Summit preparatory meetings and (b) press his counterparts at such meetings to recommit to the Programme of Action on eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable development agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. [59749]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Decisions regarding ministerial attendance at Rio2012 will be taken in due course. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has overall responsibility for coordinating the British Government's preparations for Rio2012, The Secretary of State for DEFRA will attend meetings in preparation for Rio2012.

The UK supports the Programme of Action from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which agreed that population and development are inextricably linked, and that empowering women, advancing gender equality, eliminating violence against women and ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility were essential elements of development policies. We continue to seek appropriate opportunities to advance the ICPD agenda.

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