Friday, 30 September 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 30 September

Women prisoners with post-abortion trauma
Top stories:

Contact Council of Europe urgently to protect unborn children from discrimination
This coming Tuesday (4 October) the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will consider a report which includes serious attacks on unborn children with sex-linked genetic disorders. SPUC has asked its supporters to contact their country’s delegates at PACE, asking them to to reject or amend the dangerous clauses, or vote against the report if the bad content is not removed. [SPUC, 28 September] http://goo.gl/Nfd0J

SPUC supporters encouraged to join SPUC London region at 40 Days for Life vigil
SPUC supporters are encouraged to join SPUC London region at the 40 Days for Life vigil outside a central London abortion centre. The vigil will be held on Sat 15 October, beginning at 10am and finishing at 4pm outside BPAS, 26/27 Bedford Square, WC1B 3HP. For more information, call 020 8668 7697 or email pascal.lalande@btopenworld.com

M case decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people
SPUC Pro-Life has published a summary and in-depth commentary on Wednesday's decision in the M case. Mr Justice Baker, sitting in the Court of Protection, refused an application for withdrawal of assisted food and fluids from a woman diagnosed in a so-called 'minimally conscious state'. SPUC Pro-Life welcomed the decision but warned that the judgment contains future threats to disabled people. [SPUC, 29 September] http://goo.gl/tbalv

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
General
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Praying with 40 Days for Life London for an end to abortion

I have said before how blessed we are in London to have such a fantastic pro-life initiative in 40 Days for Life London. This is the third time that the forty day vigil has been run in this city and the driving force behind it has been committed young pro-lifers. They are giving up much to run such a worthy campaign, not least their time.

This morning I joined them for the first time since the vigil was launched on Tuesday evening and began proper on Wednesday morning outside of the BPAS abortion facility in Bedford Square.

Here I am praying with Beata, one of the 40 Days for Life London organising team.

I was also very happy to be attending the vigil with my son Paul.



The the 40 Days for Life vigil itself is an event open to people of all faiths and none. Paul is organising for a group of young Catholics to go together to the vigil tomorrow morning  between 9.30am and 12.30pm and they are going to the 8am Mass at the Brompton Oratory beforehand for anyone wishing to join them. Although the organisation for this is being done by young people all are welcome to join them, as indeed they are for the entire 40 Day campaign.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

M case decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people

SPUC Pro-Life has published a summary and in-depth commentary (below) on yesterday's decision in the M case. Mr Justice Baker, sitting in the Court of Protection, refused an application for withdrawal of assisted food and fluids from a woman diagnosed in a so-called 'minimally conscious state'. Yesterday afternoon Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, debated the M case with Dr Evan Harris on Sky News, and has written the summary and commentary below.

M case judgment, Court of Protection, 28 September 2011: decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people

Summary:

On the positive side:
  • Ms M has been spared the slow and degrading process of death by dehydration/starvation;
  • The judge gave great weight to the evidence of the healthcare staff involved in Ms M’s day-to-day care – more so than expert medical witnesses, and more so than the evidence of her sister who visits her only briefly and occasionally.
On the negative side:
  • The judgment has extended the scope for the courts to dictate that other patients in a similar condition can be killed
  • This case will pave the way for future Court of Protection cases – which may be shrouded in secrecy – which may sanction death for similar patients
  • The judgment implies that poor quality of life was grounds for killing starving incapacitated patients
  • The judge said that everyone seeking to have similarly disabled relatives killed in this way should get legal aid (but not people who were trying to stop someone being killed)
  • The judgment said that the protection of life for vulnerable people was a “fundamental” principle, but not an “absolute” one – a manoeuvre by which he left scope for decisions to starve/dehydrate others in future.
  • The legal and media attention devoted to this case belies the fact that hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people with conditions like stroke or dementia, are deliberately killed by withdrawing assisted food and water every year in Britain.
Commentary:

We welcome the decision to spare Ms M[i] the horrible slow death by dehydration and starvation that was sought by Irwin Mitchell, the legal firm who, acting at their own expense[ii], asked for her to be killed by this cruel and inhuman process. Irwin Mitchell were acting for Ms M’s mother, Mrs W, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and her sister, Ms B.

Ms M is described as being in a “Minimally Conscious State”, a diagnosis one-step removed from the Non-Responsive State (also called “Vegetative State”).

The judge’s ruling hinged on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which was designed to enshrine the 1993 Bland case in law. The Bland case defined food and water given by tube as medical treatment, said that some severely disabled people were not worth keeping alive, and argued that when such disabled people died it was really their underlying disability that killed them, not the doctors or relatives who deliberately starved/dehydrated them.[iii]

In his judgment, Mr Baker cites some of the most disturbing passages of the Bland judgment, including Lord Goff’s assertions that “the very poor quality of the life” of  a patient was ground for withholding life-prolonging treatment.[iv]

The Mental Capacity Act added to this by saying that if anyone asked in advance to be starved/dehydrated in this way (by making an advance directive), then they must be left to die in this way if they become incapacitated and rely on tube-feeding.

Ironically, the Mental Capacity Act has helped prevent Ms M from being killed by dehydration and starvation in this instance, as she did not have an advance directive. Ms M can only be killed if the courts regard it as being in her “best interests.” The judge, Mr Justice Baker, has insisted that the letter of the law be observed, and that everything possible to improve Ms M’s condition should be tried before she is starved to death.

However, there are a number of very disturbing aspects about Mr Baker’s judgment:

He said that if Ms M’s condition had been slightly worse, so that she was defined as being in a “vegetative” state[v], he would automatically have agreed to killing her.[vi]

The judge gives considerable attention to evidence from M’s sister, Ms B, even though she does not visit her often or for very long, but calls briefly once every 3-4 weeks and doesn’t talk to her sister.[vii] While Mr Baker says she has shown “devotion” to her sister,  he gives more weight to the evidence of the various healthcare staff in assessing M’s current status.

On the other hand, Mr Baker gives significant weight in his judgment to the evidence of the healthcare staff, such as skills workers, physiotherapists, etc, who work with Ms M, and who said that her overall experience of life is positive. The judge gave this more weight than the evidence of the medical expert, Professor Lynne Turner-Stokes, who said that M’s overall experience was negative.[viii] While one can be thankful that this view prevailed, it is deplorable that someone’s right to life should be balanced on whether their experience of life is deemed negative or positive.

The concluding section of the judgment “Observations for future cases” is deeply disturbing.  Here, with the authority of the President of the Court of Protection, Mr Baker sets out procedures for bringing future cases of patients in the “Minimally Conscious State” to court for rulings on the withdrawal of their food and fluids. Thus he is setting the scene for widening the Bland judgment

He calls for public funding to be given to any relatives who want to make such an application. In very many cases of this type, families will be divided between those who want their relative to be killed and those who want them to continue to receive care. This proposal means public funding for the killers, but no support for relatives who oppose attempts to starve and dehydrate their relatives.[ix]

Notes:
[i] In accordance with normal standards of courtesy in journalism and elsewhere (which may not necessarily obtain in legal documents), we accord Ms M an honorific title (‘Ms’), at least when introducing her, on the basis that even if this title is not the formally correct one, it indicates the respect we accord her as a fellow human being. 
[ii] See Judgment (W(B) v M & S & an NHS Trust, [2011] EWHC 2443 (Fam)), §27
[iii] For a fuller commentary on Bland, see http://www.spuc.org.uk/about/no-less-human/Bland.pdf
[iv] Judgment, §64
[v] The term ‘vegetative’ in this context is offensive to many people with disabilities; the term ‘non-responsive’ is a non-derogatory alternative.
[vi] Judgment, §35
[vii] Judgment §115
[viii] Judgment §251
[ix] Judgment §260

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Contact Council of Europe urgently to protect unborn children from discrimination

(You can also read the alert below in French, Italian, Polish, PortugueseRussian and Spanish)

Next week the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE, not to be confused with the European Parliament of the European Union (EU)) will consider a report which includes serious attacks on unborn children with sex-linked genetic disorders. The report is called “Prenatal Sex Selection”. It is being proposed by Ms. Doris Stump, Swiss socialist PACE delegate, and it includes a Resolution and Recommendation, on which delegates will be asked to vote. We believe that both the Resolution and the Recommendation must be amended – and if this cannot be done, they should be opposed. The report comes from the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. Amendments must be submitted no later than 3 October 2011 by 4pm. The debate is scheduled for 4 October 2011 during the PACE plenary session.

The following sections (in bold) in the Resolution deny the right to life of children, especially children with inherited diseases:
(7) In line with the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (ETS No. 164), the Assembly believes that, in the context of assisted reproduction technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal sex selection should be resorted to only to avoid serious hereditary diseases linked to one sex
(8.5) encourage national ethics bodies to elaborate and introduce guidelines for medical staff, discouraging prenatal sex selection by whatever method, unless justified for the prevention of serious sex-linked genetic diseases
(8.7) introduce legislation with a view to prohibiting sex selection in the context of assisted reproduction technologies and legal abortion, except when it is justified to avoid a serious hereditary disease.
The following danger is found in the Recommendation:
(3.3) step up efforts aimed at promoting the signature, ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210) and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine
Again, the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention) denies the right to life of unborn children by approving destruction of embryos with inherited disease, and therefore the reference to it in the present Recommendation should be deleted.

Please contact your country’s delegates at PACE:
(http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/AssemblyList/AL_DelegationsList_E.asp)
asking them to:
  • to reject or amend the dangerous clauses in order to protect unborn children, particularly those who may have a sex-linked genetic disorder
  • vote against the report if the bad content is not removed.
Please don’t forget to copy any replies you receive from PACE delegates to SPUC either by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by post to SPUC HQ.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dr Margaret Ogola, the Kenyan pro-life humanitarian, has died

I have just heard the very sad news that Dr Margaret Ogola has died. On behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, I extend our deepest sympathy to George, her husband, and her six children.

I first encountered Dr Ogola in 1994 in Cairo at the United Nations Conference on Population and Development where I was lobbying on behalf of SPUC. A Kenyan paediatrician, Margaret worked at Kenyatta General Hospital in Nairobi, as a consultant paediatrician.

Margaret was speaking in Cairo at the forum for non-governmental organizations about her work at Kenyatta General Hospital.

She said that a woman in need of an antibiotic for a sick child would have to pay for the syringe, for the needle, and for the antibiotic, otherwise her child would not be treated. However, the same woman seeking contraception could get every variety under the sun at the brand new family planning clinic next to her hospital, completely free of charge, courtesy of Western nations.

As I wrote in SPUC's newspaper at the time Human Concern:
"Not one penny of the 17 billion US dollars which the Cairo Conference agreed to spend will go on treating sick children. However, a staggering 15 billion US dollars will be spent on population control."
In 1997, I travelled to Kenya with Peter Smith, an SPUC UN lobbyist, and Dr Jack Willke, known as the father of the US pro-life movement, to speak at a seminar, organized by Margaret on behalf of the Kenyan Catholic episcopal conference. The seminar was for church leaders, educationalists and health professionals on the battle against the international abortion lobby and its designs for Kenya.

In 2001, she wrote in support of SPUC's intervention in a court battle - in which the Family Planning Association was seeking to undermine the legal protection of unborn children in Northern Ireland. They were using the tactic, used by David Steel when he introduced the British Abortion Act, that the abortion law in Northern Ireland needed "clarification".

Margaret Ogola said in her letter to SPUC:
"There are very restrictive abortion laws in Kenya, as there are in the vast majority of African countries. Our abortion laws are actually based on the legal situation inherited from Britain before our independence. This certainly does not mean that the law is in need of any clarification; indeed far from it. The law is quite clear, and its implications are undisputed."

She continued:

"No government minister here in Kenya has ever sought to offer guidance as to the cases in which abortion would be allowed. It is not the place of the government or individual ministers to issue such guidance. There are many similarities between abortion law in Kenya and abortion law in Norther Ireland. Here there is no question of a minister issuing any guidelines relating to abortion.

"I wish to assure you that I am more than willing to provide any further information you may require in the course of court proceedings in Belfast ... "
Dr Ogola was not only a pro-life champion in Kenya and internationally. She was an award winning author (The River and the Source: see image above), and, in her own words in her letter to SPUC "a wife and a mother". In addition she was one of this century's and the last century's great African humanitarians as her obituary on the Strathmore University website today makes clear:
"In 1998, she became the National Executive Secretary for Health and Family Life at the Kenya Episcopal Conference until 2002. The job entailed co-ordinating the administration of over 430 health care facilities run by the Catholic Church in Kenya.

"The facilities offer about 20% of healthcare in Kenya.

"In November 2002, she became the Kenya co-ordinator of HACI (Hope for African Children Initiative), a partnership of several international NGOs – Plan, CARE, Save the Children, Society for Women and Aids, World Conference for Religion and Peace, and World Vision.

"Dr Ogola also helped found and manage the SOS HIV/AIDS Clinic (April 2004 –April 2005), which is a clinic for people living with Aids (PLWAs). The clinic offers VCT, provision of ART and nutritional support to 1000 persons from the surrounding slums: women, men and children."
Visiting the Ogolas' home in Nairobi in 1997 was humbling. The simplicity with which she and George, also a doctor, and their large family lived - and carried out their selfless humanitarian work - is something I will never forget.

And neither must we forget Kenya - and all African nations - so cruelly targeted by the worldwide population control lobby, led by Barack Obama and the US administration.

As Dr Ogola told the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing:
Unless we recognise that each individual is irrepeatable and valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights. This includes the right to be born, as all of us have enjoyed. True justice should be for each human being, visible and invisible, young and old, disabled and able, to enjoy fully their right to life. The accidental attributes that we acquire such as colour, sex intelligence, economic circumstances, physical or mental disability should not be used as an excuse to deprive a person of life.
I strongly encourage everyone to read the whole of this excellent speech entitled 'The Dignity of African Women'.

May Dr Margaret Ogola, award winning author, medical doctor, and human rights advocate, and selfless friend of unborn children and their mothers worldwide, rest in peace.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tue 27 Sep

Gillian Walnes, Anne Frank Trust UK
Top stories:

Medical director of UK abortion provider finds performing abortions gratifying
The medical director of one of the UK's largest abortion providers has said that she finds performing abortions gratifying. Dr Patricia Lohr of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) also told a meeting of the pro-abortion lobby that "It's crucial for abortionists to talk about abortion as a good thing”. John Smeaton, SPUC director, commented: "We must hope and pray that, like the late Dr Bernard Nathanson and other ex-abortionists, Dr Lohr will see that choosing life, not death, is gratifying." [John Smeaton, 26 September] http://goo.gl/7OQJD

Holocaust charity condemns BBC presenter's population control remarks
A UK charity remembering the Holocaust has condemned remarks by a BBC presenter promoting population control. Chris Packham, a BBC wildlife presenter, said: "We face horrendous hurdles in getting this message [about limiting population growth] across. The first thing is the Holocaust, because the minute you talk about this, people call you a eugenicist and they believe that you want to kill people." Gillian Walnes (pictured), of the Anne Frank Trust UK, said they were ‘bizarre. I think that Chris Packham has made an odd and shocking choice in using the Holocaust to try to justify rejection of his thoughts on population control. The lessons we take from the Holocaust are about what terrible things an enforcement ideology can lead to and of the value and sanctity of human life." [Mail, 27 September] goo.gl/a6EuV

Women who use RU486 experience more pain and distress, UK study suggests
Women who use RU486, the abortion drug, experience more pain and distress than those who have a surgical abortion, a new study suggests. Researchers at Newcastle university, UK, found that more than half of the women studied had a worse than expected experience of the drug. Psychological effects included nightmares of killing their unborn children. [Earned Media, 26 September] http://goo.gl/9PmHs

Other stories:

Embryology
Euthanasia
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Monday, 26 September 2011

Medical director of BPAS finds performing abortions gratifying

I read a report today of a pro-abortion meeting held by Voice for Choice in central London last week. The meeting was addressed by Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP, Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), and Dr Patricia Lohr, BPAS's medical director, and others from Brook.

Dr Lohr said she felt extremely fortunate to provide abortions. She said she finds performing abortion gratifying. She said Dr Lohr said that there was a need for all medical workers to be able to direct women towards an abortion even if the medical workers consider it to be morally wrong. She said:
"It's crucial for abortionists to talk about abortion as a good thing”.
But what kind of person thinks that performing abortions is gratifying; that one’s fortunate to provide them and that abortion is a good thing? Here, as a brief reminder, is a description of a suction abortion, the most common type of abortion procedure in Britain, representing 52% of the 189,574 abortions which took place last year under the Abortion Act in England and Wales:
“The cervix (the neck of the womb) must be stretched open to allow the surgeon to insert a plastic tube into the womb. Sharp-edged openings near the tip of the tube help to dismember the baby so the parts are small enough to be sucked out. The surgeon then uses the suction tube to evacuate the placenta from the womb. The remains of the baby are deposited in a jar for disposal.”
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, who has written about the effect of abortion on the moral character of abortionists, says:
"The most likely negative effect upon abortionists may be the obscuring of their innate tendency towards the natural law in failing to distinguish unjustifiable homicide from medical treatment."
but that:
"[E]ven such a vice as serial killing of the innocent does not result in absolute and irrevocable corruption of an individual’s human nature."
So we must hope and pray that, like the late Dr Bernard Nathanson and other ex-abortionists, Dr Lohr will see that choosing life, not death, is gratifying.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 26 Sep

Kandice Smith & family
UN pressuring Ireland to legalise abortion
A UN committee on torture is pressuring Ireland to legalise abortion. The Committee on the Abolition of Torture said that Ireland's total ban on abortion may breach a UN convention against torture. Pat Buckley, SPUC's representative at the UN said the committee's observations were "an example of the pro-abortion strategy to create a "right to abortion" by stating falsehoods about international law and treaties over and over again until they begin to be treated as truth." [Pat Buckley, 24 September] http://goo.gl/8VfDR

Cystic fibrosis woman refuses abortion to give birth to triplets
A young American woman with cystic fibrosis has given birth to triplets after refusing abortion. Kandice Smith, 20, was warned by doctors that she may not survive giving birth. However, Miss Smith said ‘It has been the hardest fight of my life - but it has been worth every second. I would have died for my girls if I’d had to.’ [Mail, 23 September] http://goo.gl/iC1GE

UK man given suspended sentence for wife's euthanasia death
A retired British actor has been given a 12-month suspended sentence for smothering his ill wife to death. Stuart Mungall, 71, confessed to and was convicted of the manslaughter of his wife, 69, who had a degenerative brain disease. The sentence was a reduced one due to mitigating circumstances. [Peter Saunders, 23 September] http://goo.gl/2UmEV

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Niamh Moloney is a voice for voiceless embryonic children

Niamh Moloney, an active SPUC supporter and now a natural fertility practitioner, appeared recently on Channel Four's 4thought.tv, speaking about the question: "Should embryonic stem cell research be allowed?" (video of Niamh) (Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, appeared in June, speaking on the question: "Should organ donation be made compulsory?" and I appeared in November, speaking on the question: "Is abortion even justified?")

Niamh spoke in an attractively informal and personable way, saying:
"Embryos are voiceless, they can't talk and someone's got to stand up for them."
Well done Niamh and thank you for being a voice for voiceless embryonic children.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Defending parental rights in Northern Ireland

An SPUC Northern Ireland conference entitled Defending Parental Rights will take place on Saturday 10th March 2012 at Belfast Castle in the north of the city.

Speakers will include Pat Ramsey (SDLP MLA and deputy chairman of the Stormont All-party Pro-life Group) and Jim Wells (DUP MLA, deputy chairman of the Assembly’s health committee).

Prof David Paton (Nottingham University School of Business) and Dr Patrick Fagan* (Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Washington DC), pictured, will also address the conference. It will look at the current practice of providing birth control to children under the age of consent without the knowledge of their parents and the impact of this policy on family life.
*Patrick F. Fagan
Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Research on Marriage and Religion


Patrick F. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), which examines the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America's social problems, as illustrated in the social science data. The Center has a particular emphasis on the relationship between marital stability coupled with the practice of religion and their joint impacts on our social infrastructure (issues such as happiness, health, mental health and general well being, income and savings, educational attainment and family stability as well as such negative outcomes as poverty, crime, abuse, and drug addiction).

A native of Ireland, Patrick Fagan earned his Bachelor of Social Science degree with a double major in sociology and social administration, and a professional graduate degree in psychology (Dip. Psych.) as well as a Ph.D. from University College Dublin.

Patrick Fagan started his career as a grade school teacher in Cork, Ireland, then returned to college to become a psychologist, going to Canada to practice then to Washington, D.C. to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. In 1984, Fagan moved from the clinical world into the public policy arena, to work on family issues at the Free Congress Foundation. After that he worked for Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, then was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Family and Community Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by President George H.W. Bush, before spending the next thirteen years at the Heritage Foundation where he was a senior fellow.
Contact Liam Gibson for further information at liamgibson@spuc.org.uk

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Disabled babies are killed because of a "lack of imagination"

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human a group within SPUC, has responded to an appalling story that parents in Florida have successfully sued medics for failing to inform them that their child was disabled, on the grounds that had they known they would have aborted their child.

Bryan Santana, the child of Ana Majia and Rodolfo Santana, was born with no arms and only one leg. He is now three years old.

Alison writes:
It has been reported that a Florida (USA) couple have been awarded $4.5 m to buy equipment for their son Bryan, who was born with no arms and only one leg. The "damages" suit was brought by Ana Majia and Rodolfo Santana under the Florida State "wrongful birth statute" under which parents can sue an obstetrician or hospital for "negligence" in not noticing, and/or not informing them of their child's disability. Mr & Mrs Santana claim that had they known that their son would be disabled, they would have aborted him. In other words, the fact that they were not warned in an ultrasound that their son had disabilities denied them the chance to kill him before birth.
Florida is one of 25 US states which have a "wrongful birth statutes" like this, suggesting that disabled children not only have no right to life, but actually have the contrary right - the right not to be born.
The $4.5m which Mr & Mrs Santana have been awarded is only half the $9m "an expert" claimed was necessary to aasure Bryan's future throughout his 70 year estimated lifespan. It should be noted here that some thirty years ago, when I first became involved in the pro-life movement, doctors and hospitals worldwide were claiming that abortion for disabled was necessary because the child would not live very long. It would seem that now it is being claimed that killing disabled unborn children is "necessary" because they will live a long time. Would it not be more honest to simply say "disabled people are unwanted and should be killed at any age"? Of course, this is what the infamous Australian eugenicist philosopher Peter Singer, who now teaches philosophy and ethics (sic.) and the supposedly "prestigious" Princeton Unversity USA has been saying for as long as I can remember.
This case takes me back to the very early days of my pro-life work. One of the first cases I read about, which was pivotal in my change of mind from being pro-abortion to being pro-life, was that of a baby named Louise. She was born in 1979 in High Wycombe Hospital and was immediately found to have both spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Her paediatrician, Dr. Donald Garrow, persuaded her parents that she would be "better off dead" as she would be unable to walk, and would thus compare herself unfavourably with her two able-bodied sisters. He then sedated her so she was too sleepy to cry for food, and she eventually died of starvation and dehydration. Dr. Garrow made a video of her last days which was shown on daytime TV, and which I saw. Louise's face was grey, her eyes sunken. She had stick thin arms and legs but a bloated stomach, and looked much like the victims of starvation due to famine which elicit our sympathy, and often our financial help, whenever they are seen on TV.
I wrote to Dr.Garrow at the hospital and explained that I was disabled to just the extent that Louise had been, and that I felt he had made a horribly wrong decision. In response he invited me to speak to his "team" at the hospital, which I accepted. I cannot remember exactly what I said, but I pointed out that life with spina bifida and hydrocephalus could be full and happy, and that it was in any case wrong to deliberately kill any child on grounds of his/her disability.
Dr Garrow then took me on a tour of his ill-named "Special Care Baby Unit." One cot had been pushed apart from the others and as he removed the baby girl's blanket, I saw that she had no arms or legs. Dr. Garrow pointed this out (as if it were not obvious) and told me that the baby's mother was 14 years old and the father 13 years old. He asked if I thought that this baby too would a good future. It should be noted here that both this baby's young parents wanted her to live, so he was arguing against their wishes.
I remember replying something along the lines that I could not foresee the future, but that I knew a young man named Eddie from a swimming club for disabled people I attended before I left home to go to university. Eddie also had no arms or legs, in his case due to his mother having taken the drug thalidomide during pregnancy. Eddie loved being in the water, with a rubber ring around him, and his wit and sense of fun made him a very popular member of the club. He attended a mainstream school, which was adapted not just for him but for any student who used a wheelchair and needed an accessible environment. I lost touch with Eddie when I went away to university, but only a few years ago I read in a local newspaper about another member of the same club, Ronnie, who was born with no arms, again because his mother had taken thalidomide. He had just started his own business as a mobile DJ, driving to each "gig" in his car, adapted to be driven just by his feet, and also working the equipment with his feet.

In the last few years I met a most charming young man in a remote Indian village who has no arms and only one useable leg. He has none of the advantages that Eddie or Ronnie had, and none of the huge amount of money that has now been made available to pay for Bryan's care. However, was also going to school with his peers and was accepted by them, his teacher, his family and his community.
It is lack of imagination, not pity, which causes doctors to dismiss the lives of disabled babies as "not worth living". I hesitate to comment on the reasons why parents feel they "deserve" huge sums of money, when what they need most is love and compassion from their families and communities and a realisation that their disabled children, like every other child, has the right to life. It is their loss to think that money can buy what only unconditional love can give - acceptance and the will to find solutions to problems that need not cost millions of dollars - or even hundreds of dollars.

To return to my meeting with Dr. Donald Garrow, who in a sense was the catalyst to my changing my mind on abortion, I asked him a question as I left his hospital on the day I met the limbless baby. I asked whether he would have treated me by ending my life in the same way as he had Louise. His reply was among the most chilling things I have ever heard. He said "No, because you have a pretty face."
Dr. Garrow died on 24th February 2001. Having also later changed my mind on religion and moved from being an atheist to being a Catholic, I pray daily for his soul and the souls of all doctors who think death is the answer to life's challenges.
This lawsuit and the laws which allow such a case to be successful are deeply offensive. The message is being sent to disabled people everywhere that they are not wanted.

Alison's analysis that it is a lack of imagination, rather than pity, that convinces individuals to kill rather than care for the disabled rings true. I would add that it suggests a chilling arrogance for any individual to diagnose the life of another as not worth living.

People with disabilities have an enormous amount to teach us about what it truly means to be human, as the following video makes abundantly clear.


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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 22 Sep

Paris pro-lifers attacked
Top stories:

Major pro-life conference was great success
The 2011 annual national conference of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), held this past weekend (16-18 Sep.), was a great success. Numbers of young and new delegates were up on previous years. The conference started on Friday (16 Sep.) evening with presentations by SPUC's youth activists reporting enthusiastically about the many different facets of their pro-life outreach. [SPUC, 20 September] http://bit.ly/qPS4HL

Milton Keynes public meeting to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education
A public meeting will be held next Wednesday (28 Sep.) evening in Milton Keynes to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools. Antonia Tully, coordinator of Safe at School, SPUC's nationwide campaign for parents concerned about explicit sex education, has been invited to Milton Keynes to explain how graphic sex education is priming young children for teenage sex. The meeting has been organised in response to the concerns of local families. [SPUC, 21 September] http://goo.gl/TnzqW

Peaceful pro-life demonstrators violently attacked in Paris
A group of pro-lifers holding a peaceful vigil outside a Paris hospital have been attacked violently by pro-abortion activists. The pro-lifers were pelted with eggs, their banner stolen, their car pounded and they were subjected to violent threats. Riot police were called to protect the pro-lifers. [LifeSiteNews.com, 20 September] http://goo.gl/66sC4

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Support vigils to stop abortion

Next week the 40 Days for Life London team begin their third forty day vigil for an end to abortion. The vigil consists of forty days of prayer, fasting and continuous witness outside of a London abortion facility. 40 Days for Life joins in solidarity with our unborn brother and sisters and offers women, men and all those involved with the abortion procedure genuine hope, and a better choice than abortion.

This is an absolutely vital and truly effective pro-life work. For those unfamiliar with the practice of praying and counselling outside an abortion facility, the movement was founded by Monsignor Philip Reilly, who I had the privilege to hear speak earlier this year. Monsignor Reilly founded the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, who pray and counsel outside abortion facilities throughout the year.

As a Londoner, the positive impact of these forty days vigils is very apparent to me. After the first forty day vigil in London, the Good Counsel Network established a daily vigil outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Whitfield Street.

It is also exciting to see that Birmingham is launching its own 40 Days for Life campaign.

In May Monsignor Reilly told us "Unborn children should not die alone". They need us praying for them, for their mothers, and for the abortionists, and loving them before they die - just as Mary and the others did for Jesus.

He told us that the pro-life movement was maintaining the light as the world goes into darkness - and just as a light shines clearly and brightly in the darkness, so does the pro-life movement.

He told us that the abortionists need our presence more than the unborn children do.

He tells the countless mothers who tell him how much they regret their abortion: "You're a mum forever. Your child is with God."

No evil has ever taken place in the world, he said, which did not produce a greater good. The greatest evil which has ever taken place in the history of the world was the Crucifixion of Jesus. And the Crucifixion of Jesus produced the greatest good in the history of the world: our redemption. The culture of death is so bad, Monsignor Reilly said, it's hopeful!

Monsignor Reilly believes that the primary purpose of these vigils is to save souls. There is no doubt, however, that they also save a tremendous number of lives and give great hope to the pro-life movement. Therefore I ask that you please support these events in whatever way you can.

Both the London and the Birmingham groups launch their vigils next Tuesday 27 September.

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Milton Keynes public meeting to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education

Milton Keynes
A public meeting will be held next Wednesday (28 Sep.) evening in Milton Keynes to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools.

Antonia Tully, coordinator of Safe at School, SPUC's nationwide campaign for parents concerned about explicit sex education, has been invited to Milton Keynes to explain how graphic sex education is priming young children for teenage sex. Mrs Tully, a mother of five school-age children, will be showing video clips from classroom teaching resources, aimed at seven year olds, which show sexual intercourse. The meeting has been organised in response to the concerns of local families.

The meeting is being supported by local Muslim groups. All parents (non-Muslim and Muslim) are urged to attend to find out how to uphold their rights to protect their children from sexualisation in the classroom.

The meeting will be held at Meadfurlong School, 1 Fishermead Boulevard, Fishermead, Milton Keynes, MK6 2LB, starting at 6.30pm, Wednesday 28 September.

For more information, please contact Antonia Tully on (020) 8407 3463 or safeatschool@spuc.org.uk

The meeting is being supported by:
  • Milton Keynes Tamil Forum
  • Milton Keynes Muslim Association
  • Sri Lankan Muslim Community Foundation Milton Keynes
  • Milton Keynes Islamic Society
  • Milton Keynes Islamic Arts Heritage and Culture Organisation
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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Schindlers' book on Terri Schiavo is a must-read for all pro-lifers

Bobby Schindler (2nd r-h) & SPUC activists
Alison Davis, the national co-ordinator of No Less Human, a group within SPUC defending disabled people, has kindly sent me her review and recommendation of a book by Bobby Schindler and family about their late loved one, Terri Schiavo. Bobby gave the keynote address to this past weekend's SPUC 2011 annual national conference. Alison writes:
"This book tells the whole, horrific story of the Schindler family's long drawn out battle to save Terri's life against increasingly vindictive and aggressive attempts by her husband, Michael Schiavo, to ensure that she would die. Those who had the privilege of hearing Bobby speak at the recent SPUC conference will know how incredibly tough it was for his whole family, but perhaps particularly for his parents, who were forced to watch their beloved child die a most horrible death of dehydration and starvation in the richest country in the world. One can only surmise how tough it was for Terri, who suffered and died without being able to protect herself, or protest against this barbaric treatment, and who thus relied on her family and her friends (of whom she now has millions worldwide) to save her.

I would urge anyone who wants to know more, as well as those who have not yet heard Bobby speak, to buy a copy of the book, and to read it straight away. It is searingly honest, and shows all too clearly the battle that lies ahead for us in the UK, now that the Mental Capacity Act can be invoked to allow the killing by dehydration and starvation of some vulnerable people.

On a personal note, I have some very small inkling into the horror that Terri faced. I am now using a type of external ventilator for at least 8-9 hours every night. It keeps me alive, so to complain about it too loudly would be churlish. However, despite having the "humidifier" set on "maximum" my mouth gets extremely dry, and I need to have a drink (by straw, a technique I have yet to fully master) at least every half hour. Even by that time my mouth is so dry my teeth are sticking to my gums, a sensation I find unpleasant. However, I am in the fortunate position of being able to have a drink whenever I want one, and thus alleviate the discomfort.

Terri Schiavo lived 13 days without food or water. I cannot even imagine the effect on her of this slow torture, or the extent of her suffering.

Every pro-lifer needs to read this book, in order to understand what the pro-death lobby really wants (not "choice" but death for those who cannot speak for themselves), what battles lie ahead for pro-life families of people with severe learning disabilities, and the necessity of doing all we can as long as we can, to protect vulnerable people from such torture.

Here are details of the book:

"A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo - A Lesson for Us All" by Terri's Family... Mary and Robert Schindler with Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo and Bobby Schindler. Copyright 2006 Warner Books (Time Warner Book Group) New York. The Book is available from Amazon UK at a variety of reasonable prices depending on whether you want a hardback or paperback version, and also on audio CD."
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Monday, 19 September 2011

God be with you Dana in your bid for the Irish presidency

I do hope I get some sleep tonight.

I go to bed this evening having read the worldwide news that Dana Rosemary Scallon, the international recording artist, and one of Ireland's most successful entertainers, has announced that she will be seeking a nomination for the forthcoming Irish presidential election.

Dana's was singled out prophetically a few weeks ago by one Irish columnist who said she was "politically shrewd, utterly sincere in her Christian beliefs and has a personal charm that's conspicuously lacking in some of her rivals."

Dana, a former Member of the European Parliament, has always been a defender of the Irish constitution.

At the beginning of this year, Dana joined an alliance of over thirty cross community groups calling for absolute protection for unborn children prior to the Irish general election in February. The alliance called on party leaders to sign a pledge to defend human life at all stages, from conception until natural death and that if elected:
  • They will not dismantle Ireland’s Constitution and will maintain the people’s sovereign and democratic right, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy according to the requirements of the common good.
  • They will respect and uphold the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on Ireland’s unique pro-life status.
  • They will not legislate for abortion and will absolutely oppose any attempt by unelected judges from the European Court of Human Rights, (ECHR) to usurp the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on abortion.
I pray that all Irish citizens who care about Ireland's historic defence of the sanctity of human life, and that all Irish citizens who care about defending their constitution, will get behind Dana's bid for the presidency.

God be with you Dana. 

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Peter Saunders given Pro-Life Hero 2011 award at SPUC's annual national conference

At SPUC's 2011 annual national conference yesterday, Peter Saunders, campaign director of the Care Not Killing Alliance and head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, was given the Pro-Life Hero 2011 award.

He was chosen for the award by SPUC Evangelicals, whose patrons include leading national Christian figures such as Dr Peter Forster (Anglican Bishop of Chester), Baroness Caroline Cox, Tim Montgomerie (Conservative Home) and Anne Atkins, the broadcaster.

Jan Bell of SPUC Evangelicals presented Peter with the award, saying:
"We have become particularly aware of the way in which you have been at the forefront in the defence of human life and in protecting innocent vulnerable babies. Our taxes being used to fund such dreadful practices as abortion and euthanasia, directly in opposition to God’s Word. It is part of our Christian witness to object to and campaign against such practices.

In your position as General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, you have stood firm; publishing new findings about the long term consequences for women after abortion and strengthening the position of the organisation in its ethical stand. As a leader you have been quoted by national newspapers and even been individually censored. You are targeted by anti-life commentators but are a convincing and effective spokesman for the pro-life cause in the national media. You are a key player in promoting pro-life principles in the medical profession and the BMA. You know your facts well and can be relied upon for good advice.

It is often easier to be silent on certain issues, but you have not kept silent; you have clearly stood out against anti-life legislation such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill and attempts to bring in assisted suicide. You have also been instrumental in the setting up and running of a new alliance of those opposed to euthanasia.

All this has not been easy, but we know the Lord has kept you. You have stood firm through opposition and are a valiant defender of human life.

We thank God for you and for your willingness to be used by Him in the pro-life movement, and we ask you to accept this award as a token of our esteem for you and our unity in serving God together."
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SPUC is working to stop the abortion lobby's sex education plans

Antonia Tully told SPUC's 2011 annual national conference yesterday how SPUC's Safe at School campaign is working to stop the abortion lobby's sex education plans. Antonia said:
"When I researched this programme the conclusion I came to is that it is systemically designed to prime children to have sex. Primary school is all about sex and secondary school is all about stopping pregnancies through contraception and abortion".
At five to seven the focus is on naming naming body parts. The exercises in Channel Four's 'Living and Growing' programme are designed to direct children's attention to physical differences between men and women, in particular the sexual organs. This breaks down the child's natural reticence about sexual activity and diverts their normal innocent interests.

Antonia then showed one of the video clips shown to children between the ages of seven to nine. The video is a cartoon depicting a naked couple chasing each other around a bed and engaging in sexual intercourse in numerous positions. An adult voice-over explains that sex is fun and makes people happy. A young girl's voice over exclaims that 'Yes, they do look very happy'.

Since SPUC began our campaign some of the 'Living and Growing' resources which were available on YouTube have been taken down. This shows how our campaign is cutting into the sex education's lobby's plans.

In these videos and discussions there is no question of introducing the idea of marriage into the sexual equation. Antonia said:
"Living and Growing puts sexual activity on the same plane as any activity that a seven year old might normally be involved in. How will children deal with this information: is it a game? a joke? a worry? a fear? How will this affect your child?"
The evidence suggests that boys are likely to understand the information as a game or joke, while girls are likely to become distressed.

By ages nine to 11 the focus is on getting children to talk about sex with sections on 'boy talk' and 'girl talk'. Children are told that masturbation is a normal part of growing up, is a nice feeling and that they shouldn't be worried about exploring their bodies this way.

Antonia said:
"The overall effect is to plant adult issues in children's lives. This is why we named our petition for our work in schools 'Give children back their childhood'. The sex education lobby want sex to be completely normalised for children and for children to be completely sexualised."

What is being taught in schools isn't the only thing that is sexualising children, but to overlook this massive part in the sexualisation of children would be negligent to say the least.

Antonia then tackled the issue of whether a pro-life organisation such as SPUC should be fighting the battle against sex education in schools. She said:
"Sexualisation leads to premature sex, premature contraceptive sex will lead to many abortions. If we don't tackle the issue of what's happening in schools we might as well shut up shop and go home. We won't be able to communicate the pro-life message to the next generation if they are so hardened by state-sponsored sex education. This issue has everything to do with an organisation campaigning against abortion and we ignore this at our peril. One of the great tragedies of this situation is that many parents are completely unaware of what they're children are being shown and taught."
Given the nature of what is shown it is not surprising that schools are not in a rush to tell parents about what their children are being shown. The BBC  were not prepared to show the material shown to children on national TV after the watershed. Antonia commented:
"If it can't be shown to an adult population, why on earth is it being shown to children?"
Safe at School hears on a weekly basis from parents who are appalled about what is happening and want to know what they can do about it. Antonia urged parents and teachers to take with them a copy of 'Sex education in primary schools: dispelling the myths' produced by the Family Education Trust. It is important to remember that primary schools are not obliged to teach this subject at all.

There is a danger that all these dangerous SRE materials would be shifted from the SRE classes and into the national curriculum science classes, from which parents do not have the right to withdraw their children. At this stage the law does still offer parents scope to protect their children, but many parents don't realise the reality of what's happening.

There is no evidence to suggest that sex education programmes either in primary or high school reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies. £300 million of taxpayers' money has failed to reduce teenage pregnancies. Since the big push for sex education in schools began in 1995 we have seen a dramatic rise in sexually-transmitted infections.

The promotion of graphic and inappropriate sex eudcation is so central to the plans of the abortion lobby, it must be central to our plans to oppose it. The International Planned Parenthood Federation and the pro-abortion Population Council have said: 'If we can just get this new comprehenseive sex education in every school and fully implemented around the globe, we can all stop working and go home!' ('It's all one curriculum', 2011).

Antonia concluded:
"They'll know they have won when they have destroyed our children. I'm sure you'll all agree with me that this is not going to happen. We at SPUC will not stop working until we have rid our schools of these programmes."
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Sunday, 18 September 2011

SPUC launches its new schools talk

Michael Hill, SPUC's national vice-chairman and a speaker in schools, and Eileen Brydon, SPUC's education officer, have launched the new SPUC schools talk, at this weekend's SPUC 2011 annual national conference.

The new talk:
  • has been two years in production
  • has been brought up-to-date to include the latest available audio-visual resources
  • includes a discussion of difficult issues such as pregnancies caused by rape, unborn children with disabilities and population control.
  • is aimed at educating the next generation about the truth of child development in the womb and the reality of abortion
  • presents the pro-life view in an engaging and attractive way; it is hoped that the high standard of the talk will encourage more schools to invite SPUC to speak to them and therefore reach more students with the pro-life message.
Eileen Brydon told the conference:
"Every time a SPUC speaker speaks to students they are touching the hearts and minds of future generations. That is because they are speaking the truth. A SPUC schools speaker will both change and save lives".
Michael Hill told the conference:
"Children and young people are naturally pro-life. When young people learn the truth abortion most of them are appalled. Young people desperately need to hear an adult voice assuring them that their convictions are correct before they are reached by the lies of the abortion lobby".
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Pro-abortion ideology is costing lives of women in developing countries

Fiorella Nash, one of SPUC's political researchers, has delivered a powerful and deeply personal address to this weekend's SPUC 2011 annual national conference, entitled "Maternal mortality and abortion in developing countries: the need for a pro-life response". Below are some key extracts of Fiorella's excellent speech:
"I am ashamed to admit that I did not entirely appreciate how dangerous childbirth can be for both women and their babies until I became a mother myself. My eldest son, who is now five years old, would not be alive today if it were not for a skilled obstetrics team who delivered him by emergency caesarean, following a lengthy obstructed labour. My youngest child would not be alive today if it were not for skilled midwives and paediatricians who resuscitated him when he stopped breathing, and detected and treated his chest infection in a well-equipped Special Care Baby Unit, manned 24 hours a day by dedicated nurses. And I am aware that I would not be alive today to raise my children if I had not had access to excellent hospital facilities, nurses, midwives and doctors who were able to save my life when I developed complications during two out of three labours.

How many women around the world are dying in childbirth every year? Accurate numbers are very difficult to calculate for a number of reasons. So we need to be aware that we are looking at estimates and these estimates vary from between 350,000 and 600,000 maternal deaths a year, 99% of which are believed to occur in developing countries. In Britain, the maternal mortality rate is 8.3 per 100,000 live births – and incidentally, Britain does not have the lowest maternal mortality rate by any means. Pro-life Ireland and Malta have a rather better record.

The two biggest causes of maternal death (and this is very well established) are haemorrhage and sepsis.

In many cultures around the world, the mother is the lynchpin of the family and if she goes, the entire family is shattered. We need always to be aware of the human face of this tragedy.

Maternal mortality has been rightly described as 'an international disgrace' but almost as grave a disgrace is the determination by pro-abortion groups to hijack the issue in order to promote abortion around the world. The abortion lobby has a long history of exploiting the suffering of women whilst claiming to act in their best interests. Abortion has nothing to do with saving women's lives. As far back as 1992, a group of Ireland's top obstetricians and gynaecologists signed a letter in which they wrote: "We affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child.”

Countries such as Ireland and Malta where abortion is banned have some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. Any medical procedure which involves the ending of one or both human lives involved is by definition unsafe and it is unsafe whether it occurs in Nairobi or New York. The abortion lobby has been very successful in creating a false association between ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ abortion

South Africa, which has had abortion on demand for years, has witnessed a fourfold increase in maternal mortality since a UK-funded abortion organisation set up clinics around that country. As SPUC’s Peter Smith commented: "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."

The western obsession with promoting its own vision of sexuality onto the rest of the world is not only costing the lives of the unborn; it is costing the lives of women through neglect.

Childbirth is rendered safe by a range of entirely ethical solutions. No one has a problem with making available to women such life-saving interventions as: antenatal monitoring, trained midwives, caesarean section, blood transfusion (and with it the ability to store blood safely), good sanitation and antibiotics. There is no reason why there should be this massive ideological battle going on over the bodies of dead women and babies.

Western governments spend millions providing contraception to developing countries when one in eight people around the world, the overwhelming majority in developing countries, have no access to safe drinking water.

When the state gets involved in dictating family size, it is difficult to see how such a policy will not be coercive on some level. The population controllers are saying ‘get yourself sterilised freely or the state may one day have to force you.’

In doing this, we can reach out to those who support our principles but have never considered becoming involved in our work.

As pro-life campaigners, we know that maternal mortality is a tragedy and that abortion is not the answer, but I believe that we are under an obligation to turn that knowledge into action. There is a very real need for a campaign to lobby for good maternity care for women in developing countries."
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