Saturday, 17 September 2011

I propose the 9 Million Children campaign

I began my address to SPUC's 2011 national conference by reminding delegates that next month is the 44th anniversary of the Abortion Act.

I said that these anniversaries are not just an opportunity to commemorate these tragic events, but to use them as springboards to turn the cultural tide that sees that at least five hundred and seventy abortions in the UK every day.

SPUC's recent successes show we can make a difference. Last February the High Court rejected BPAS's application that it be decreed lawful that women be allowed to take abortion pills in their own home. SPUC's intervention, cited by the judge, was vital in halting the abortion lobby's attempt to normalise abortion.

I also reminded the conference of SPUC's success in halting abortion in Northern Ireland last year.

We have to pursue our campaigns with a determined belief that we can make a difference. We urgently need to increase public awareness of the facts about unborn children and abortion. We need to get the pro-life message to ordinary people. We must aim to build up a grassroots campaign that will awake the sleeping giant of the pro-life movement.

The cheapest and most effective way of educating the public is through leafleting. That's why I will be proposing to SPUC's national council that the Society launches a nine million children campaign. We estimate that by the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act coming into effect (27 April 2018) nine million unborn children will have been killed by abortion. By April 2018, we must aim to build a campaign enabling us to deliver nine million leaflets to nine million homes in one leaflet drop in order to convince the British public that abortion is a tragedy that they must help to bring to an end.

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SPUC calls on students to stand up for life in freshers' week

SPUC is committed to educating the general public about the reality of abortion and its consequences. To do this we need your help. That's why I'm delighted to announce our 2012 university freshers' week campaign, as reported on our new youth activism blog, RSVP Pro-life Youth UK:
SPUC is calling on students to stand up for life in universities around the country when the academic year begins. Last year students in thirteen universities handed out SPUC's Abortion - your right to know leaflet.


With more than five hundred and seventy abortions a day in the UK few remain untouched by this great tragedy. Your peers deserve to know the truth about abortion and some might desperately need to be reminded that there are alternatives to abortion and people who can help them make the choice to keep their child.

Unborn children deserve protection. Women deserve better than abortion and our generation urgently need to know the truth about abortion.

Will you help?

Email Daniel Blackman danielblackman@spuc.org.uk and request your leaflets for freshers' week today.
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My sister's killing was the Roe v Wade of euthanasia, says Bobby Schindler

Donna Nicholson, director of SPUC Scotland, has kindly sent me her report (below) of Bobby Schindler's keynote address to the SPUC 2011 annual national conference this morning:

Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, said his sister's death was the "Roe v Wade of the euthanasia movement in the States." Bobby talked of his family's battle to keep Terri alive after a court ruled that her food and hydration be withdrawn back in 2000.

The high profile case hit the headlines around the world at the time but despite huge international support Terri's family lost their battle for her life and were forced to watch her starve and dehydrate to death.

Bobby recalled his sister's plight for delegates stating that in the first 2 years following her collapse her medical records noted that her rehabilitation treatment was working and she was starting to speak. "We were very hopeful about these tiny steps," he recalled.

Following a malpractice lawsuit in 1992 Terri was awarded $1.5m for her treatment and her husband Michael was awarded $600,000. Bobby said it was after this ruling and receiving the monies that things changed for Terri: the relationship between Terri's husband Michael and the Schindler family broke down and all communications stopped in 1993.

Shortly after this the family learned Michael had requested nurses not to provide Terri with antiobiotics for an infection. They refused. He then moved her to another facility with the same request. Those nurses also refused. By 1998 he had engaged a pro-euthanasia attorney and the family received a letter stating that they would seek to have Terri's food and fluids removed and that Terri had wanted this. In 1999 legislation was changed in the state to define food and fluids as medical treatment.

Terri's case went to trial in 2000 and the judge ruled in favour of Michael Schiavo despite the serious questions about her living will or that Michael was set to inherit the money from her death. Bobby said:
"I'm still to this day amazed at the publicity Terri's case received specifically because it was already happening every day. Before the case Terri was very much alive, but the media protrayed her as as someone whose quality of life was so poor that this action was in her best interests. Even medics were surprised at how responsive she was despite being neglected for so long. My sister wasn't brain dead. They call this an end of life issue but it isn't. Terri was very much alive. It became an end of life discussion when she wasn't at the end of her life."
According to Bobby Schindler what happened to Terri is now ordinary practice across America. It has even been argued that the definition of articifical feeding should be expanded to include more than a feeding tube but also spoon feeding and that even bringing a tray to patients as diet must receive medical approval. Bobby told the conference he estimates hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are now directly affected by the sort of thing that happened to Terri, and that's not even looking at terminal sedation cases or other ways of putting people to death. Bobby said:
"We now decide who lives and who dies on a quality of life judgement."
He also said some vulnerable people are now being described as 'non-persons' by many academics in the States. He added:
"The biggest thing we're up against is apathy, people don't care until it happens to someone they know."
He also said the pro-euthanasia lobby is now very powerful and has the backing of a media willing to distort the truth and a growing insensitivity towards people like my Terri, compounded by the language people use to refer to the vulnerable. Language like 'vegetable' should be abolished from our vocabulary, he said, as it serves no purpose but it's entrenched in our mentality and is validated by our mainstream media.

Bobby ended by recalling the experience of his family as they watched over Terri in her final weeks. He said:
"Our family had to watch Terri die of dehydration, watch her deteriorate."
When people ask what she looked like at that time he says he can only compare her to victims of Auschwitz. Her appearance, he said, was horrific. She had blood pouring in her eyes in the last days. It was disturbing to watch and not a peaceful way to die. And for Bobby the most heart wrenching thing was watching my parents.

To compound the family's grief George Philos, Michael's attorney, gave a press conference after Terri's death and said she'd never looked so beautiful as in the last week of her death.

Since Terri's death her family has formed the Life and Hope Network to help other families in the same situation in the US and around the world. Bobby ended:
"We're all in this battle together. If we can't have regard for life how can we have it for anything else."
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SPUC's youth activists are creating a bright future for the pro-life movement

SPUC's 2011 annual national conference started yesterday evening with inspiring and impressive presentations by SPUC's youth activists, who are creating a bright future for the pro-life movement.

Anne Howard (pictured) told us that she was inspired by the SPUC international youth conference to begin a pro-life society at her university. Anne spoke about how a confrontation with the feminist society strenghtened their resolve to continue their pro-life work.Students for Life plan to launch an online pro-life resources with video answers to difficult pro-life questions and are beginning to compile these videos at this weekend's conference. Bristol Students for Life have had a very busy year: organising several excellent pro-life talks in the past year and attended two pro-life conferences in the past year.

This year SPUC has had three full time interns working with us over the summer months: Daniel, Anna, and Frances. The interns told the conference about their work with SPUC defending life.

Daniel spoke about SPUC's pro-life Outreach at Lewisham People's Day this July. Lewisham People's Day is London's biggest free festival and attracts 25,000 people a year. Lewisham has one of the highest abortion rates in the UK. As far as we know, this was the first time there has been a pro-life presence at the festival. Daniel spoke about how intelligent people at the day seemed to know very little about child development in the womb. Many people came to ask for more information. Daniel told us about the criticism the group received from a feminist group. On the same day Diane Abbott MP gave support to the abortion rights protest outside parliament.

Daniel told the conference that despite the work being difficult and the issues being of the utmost urgency, there was a happy light-hearted atmosphere within the group running the outreach. Daniel spoke about the surprise other young people displayed that people under thirty-five were opposed to abortion. Daniel said he feels as though there is a danger of complacency within the generation who have grown up with abortion as a norm. He said that while many people of his generation consider abortion to be wrong, they cannot imagine a world without it. Daniel said that despite never knowing a society without abortion he is confident we can return to being one without this evil.

Frances and Anna spoke about SPUC's new campaign in a London area particularly affected by abortion. This situation has been made worse as a major abortion provider has recently opened a new clinic in which they are already performing abortions. The first stage of the campaign began with an educational outreach similar to that conducted at the Lewisham People's Day. The general public were informed about the reality of abortion through leaflets, foetal models and conversations with the volunteers distributing the information.

During the outreach the public was made aware that a new abortion facility had opened. Prior to the outreach two members of the campaign team went to talk with a local councillor to raise their concern about the new abortion facility. He told them that he wouldn't speak to them because they were not constituents. This encouraged them to make sure they made an impression on local constituents!

During the outreach the group were struck by the fact that nobody to whom the group spoke knew about the new abortion centre. They had many positive conversations with members of the public, a number of whom signed up to receive more information.

Following the outreach campaign the SPUC interns turned their mind to what political action they could take. Their aim was to encourage residents sharing a building to oppose the opening of the abortion centre. Before they did that they wanted to learn how much the residents already knew. The new centre is located in proximity to a block of residential flats and had previously been used as offices.

The group discovered that the residents had been sent a single letter notifying them that the offices were being converted into an abortion facility. However, the letter sent from the Council did not inform residents that the facility was an abortion clinic - it was simply described as a clinic. In fact there was no mention of the word abortion on the letter.


They did a door to door campaign speaking to residents at the clinic. Of all the residents only one of them was aware what was being opened next to them, thanks to the letter the SPUC campaign team sent to the residents. Every person they spoke to objected to an abortion clinic in their building. Some for pro-life reasons, some for practical reasons.

Anna told us that having obtained the planning permission documents they identified that there was a good chance they would be storing their waste in the same bins as residents at their shared tower block. SPUC wrote to thirty two churches in the surrounding area. One of them was Alan Craig, a former councillor and Party Leader of Christian People's Alliance. He has generated more support within the church, media, and political community.

SPUC called all the residents in the tower block, encouraging them to write to their MP, their councillors and the council planning department. They brought a ready-made letter to be sent to their local MPs. Eight residents signed it on the spot. Planning permission strongly suggests that waste from the abortion clinic
would be stored in the same waste as is used by the local residents.

An examination of the Care Quality Commission reports indicate that two major abortion providers fail to meet the mininum requirements for 'care'. Despite being registered to perform abortions on girls as young as twelve, these providers frequently fail to meet minimum standards for child protection and fail to train their staff in child protection awareness.

The interns explained that their experience of running the campaigns has helped them to realise both the scope of the pro-life battle and the possibility of making a real difference through careful, strategic political action.

The presentations were followed by some well-deserved socialising in the bar. This morning we've heard from Joe Lee of SPUC Scotland, who detailed SPUC's busy schedule of youth activism in recent years; and Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, on the background to euthanasia in the UK. Right now we are listening to Bobby Schindler about the euthanasia death of his sister Terri Schiavo. Do stay posted to this blog - I'll be posting throughout the day.

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Lobby your MEP to stop pro-abortion power-grab

Wanda Nowicka, pro-abortion lobbyist
Just before the close of the European Parliament session in July, the pro-abortion lobby held a meeting on sexual and reproductive rights. Wanda Nowicka (pictured), one of the speakers at the meeting, said: “We don’t need hard law [legislation]; we only need a movement for EU [European Union] competency [on abortion].”

The pro-abortion lobby has now put this plan into action, by proposing amendments to a report called “Situation of fundamental rights in the European Union”. The amendments have been proposed via FEMM, the European Parliament's women's rights and gender equality committee. The report and these amendments are due to be debated by the whole parliament in its plenary session on 14 November in Strasbourg.

The amendments are aimed at giving the European Commission competency over abortion, by tying it to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and by decreasing the autonomy of EU member-states. The amendments are listed below for your information.

Please contact the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) for your region and urge them to oppose the amendments. If you are resident in the UK, you can find the contact-details for your region's MEPs at http://www.europarl.org.uk/section/your-meps/your-meps If you are resident elsewhere in the European Union, you can find the contact-details for MEPs at http://bit.ly/pFXrT4 Please don't forget to copy any replies you receive from MEPs to SPUC either by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by post to SPUC HQ. SPUC will keep you updated with further information on this debate.

Please ask MEPs to oppose the following pro-abortion FEMM amendments to the report “Situation of fundamental rights in the European Union”:
  • "Whereas the judicial authorities of Member States are independent and may determine their own interpretation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (DELETED)"
  • "Whereas the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon created a new situation in the EU in the field of human rights by making the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding (Article 6 TEU), (INSERTED)"
  • "Calls on the Commission to control thoroughly the implementation of European legislation related to gender equality in the Member States (INSERTED)"
  • "Invites the European Commission in the following years to consider a proposal for a legal framework on the issue of multiple and intersectional discrimination (INSERTED)"
  • "Is concerned about women's sexual and reproductive rights and health in some Member State; calls especially on the Member States to respect the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children, and to have information and the means to do so, including access to health care, legal and safe abortion and reliable, safe and affordable contraception (INSERTED)"
  • "considers that the Commission should more effectively use all available means, including, where appropriate, infringement procedures, in order to ensure that Charter provisions are applied when implementing the EU law.(INSERTED)"
  • "Calls on the Commission to find effective ways to follow up breaches of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, outstanding issues and specific cases of violations of fundamental rights and to carry out occasional audits in all Member States to identify unfulfilled Commitments. (INSERTED)"
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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SPUC Pro-Life supports Thérèse Coffey MP in bid to guarantee food and fluids for patients

SPUC Pro-Life has welcomed the move by Dr Thérèse Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal to ensure that everyone receives appropriate food and fluids, particularly those who need assistance because they are very elderly or severely disabled.

Dr Coffey was given leave by the house to introduce a private member’s bill to ensure that everyone has a right to such provision.

Commenting on the debate, Paul Tully of SPUC Pro-Life said:
“Dr Coffey drew attention to the late Tony Bland, the young man who died of thirst after a court-sanctioned decision by his doctor to end his life by dehydration/starvation. This was the legal turning point where the House of Lords first defined food and fluids given by tube as medical treatment. This definition has led to thousands of people being denied vital food and water.

“It is critical that Parliament should pass legislation to reverse this lethal ruling.

“A small proportion of cases have subsequently gone to court to confirm that doctors can stop giving a patient food and fluids in order to kill him or her. In many other cases, no legal process has been used, but patients have been left to die without food or fluids. Our experience suggests that many stroke, dementia and learning-disabled people are vulnerable to this kind of regime.

“As Dr Coffey pointed out, water is absolutely essential for life - without it patients die. She also stressed quite rightly that end of life care requires great skill, and that decisions to withdraw treatment, though difficult, could be legitimate.

“SPUC Pro-Life, which has intervened in several major legal cases in this area in recent years, has offered Dr Coffey support and advice on the drafting of her bill.”
Dr Coffey was given leave to introduce the bill by the House of Commons without a division.

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Bishop John Sherrington made Westminster archdiocese's chair of education

Bishop John Sherrington
At today's episcopal consecration of Bishop John Sherrington, at which I represented SPUC, it was announced that he has been appointed chair of Westminster archdiocese's education department. This is a particularly important and sensitive role relevant to pro-life and pro-family concerns. The influence - for good or ill - of curricula, resources and services related to sexual ethics and child formation will come under Bishop Sherrington's remit. He will be responsible for the archdiocese's policy on sex and relationships education (SRE), as well as the interaction between the archdiocese, its schools and parents. These issues have been particularly controversial over recent years, especially the Catholic Church's response to the previous government's sex education proposals and the dispute between Westminster archdiocese and the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.

I, along with many of my colleagues at SPUC, will be praying for Bishop Sherrington that, in his new role, the Holy Ghost will strengthen and guide him to defend the sanctity of human life and the vocation of parents as the first and foremost educators of their children.

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Brother of famous euthanasia victim to address major pro-life conference this weekend

Bobby Schindler
Bobby Schindler, brother of the late Terri Schiavo, will address SPUC's annual national conference this weekend in Derbyshire (Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, DE55 1AU) (full conference programme)

The conference starts on Friday (16 Sep.) evening with a presentation by young adults about their pro-life activities at university and in the street.

On Saturday (17 Sep.) Bobby Schindler will recount how his sister Terri Schiavo was starved and dehydated to death at her husband's behest, a case which made international headlines. Also on Saturday, delegates will hear about government policy on abortion in developing countries, and be introduced to SPUC's new talk for schools. Workshops will include pro-life lobbying in Europe and at the United Nations. The day's business will be followed by a ceilidh and socialising.

The conference will conclude on Sun (18 Sep.) morning with addresses by Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship, and by Antonia Tully on the graphic reality of what young children are shown in the classroom.

Live reports from the conference will appear throughout the weekend on this blog with additional reportage on SPUC's website http://www.spuc.org.uk

Media interested in covering the conference are welcome and should contact Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, mobile (0)7939 177683, email: news@spuc.org.uk

To register for the conference or for other conference enquiries please telephone SPUC on (020) 7091 7091 or e-mail conference@spuc.org.uk

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Pray for Father John Sherrington who's to be ordained bishop today

I have the privilege today of attending, on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the episcopal ordinaltion of Father John Sherrington (pictured), a priest from the Nottingham diocese.  He will be ordained at Westminster Cathedral as an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Westminster, my family's archdiocese.

For my visitors who believe in prayer, please pray for our new bishop.

As Pope John Paul II put it in Evangelium Vitae - "bishops are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of Life. We are also entrusted with the task of ensuring that the doctrine which is once again being set forth in this Encyclical is faithfully handed on in its integrity. We must use appropriate means to defend the faithful from all teaching which is contrary to it." (EV, 82).

Father Sherrington has professional experience in dealing with life issues. He was a member of the Bishops' Conference (of England and Wales) Working Party writing Cherishing Life in 2005. He was chair of the Marriage and Family Life Commission of the Nottingham diocese; and since 2004 he was a member of various hospital ethics committees, boards of school governors, and the University of Derby Research Ethics Committee; and a member of the Bishops' conference healthcare reference group.


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Monday, 12 September 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 12 Sep

Anne Marie Dust, pro-life nurse
Top stories:

SPUC comments on Dorries abortion debate
SPUC said the defeat of Nadine Dorries’ amendments in Parliament was a relief. SPUC had expressed serious reservations about the amendments, especially in light of Mrs Dorries’ previous attacks on pro-life counselling organisations, services which have done so much over the past 40 years to help women. The amendment was defeated by 368 votes to 118. [SPUC, 7 September] http://bit.ly/osryEy Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, has written an in-depth explanation of what was wrong with Nadine Dorries's pregnancy counselling proposal [John Smeaton, 9 September] http://bit.ly/rh851n

Alison Davis's powerful response to euthanasia campaigner Tony Nicklinson
Alison Davis, the coordinator of No Less Human, a group within SPUC representing disabled people, has written a powerful response to a BBC interview with Tony Nicklinson, a paralysed Englishman campaigning for a so-called 'right to die'. Mrs Davis said: "From my own personal perspective, what stands out most from this interview is Mr Nicklinson's opinion that his situation 'causes anguish the pro-life campaigners could not possibly understand'. One has to assume that he has not the slightest idea of who 'pro-life campaigners' are, and what they may have personally experienced." [John Smeaton, 8 September] http://bit.ly/oPPFLj

Head of UN women's agency calls for so-called 'family planning' to deal with so-called 'over-population'
Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women, has called for so-called 'family planning' to be promoted in order to deal with a supposed global over-population crisis. Mrs Bachelet said: "When we are 9, 10 billion people, what are we going to do? Go to Mars? Go to the moon?" [Global Post, 8 September] http://bit.ly/p0soeS In contrast, pro-life demographers have argued that the world is increasingly under-populated.

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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