Friday, 14 October 2011

The infertility industry's "dirty little secret"

Fiorella Nash, an SPUC political researcher, has reviewed an important documentary focusing on the artificial reproduction industry. The film Eggsploitation focuses on the impact that selling their ova has on the lives of individual women. The makers of the film say:
The infertility industry in the United States has grown to a multi-billion dollar business. What is its main commodity? Human eggs. Young women all over the world are solicited by ads—via college campus bulletin boards, social media, online classifieds—offering up to $100,000 for their “donated” eggs, to “help make someone’s dream come true.” But who is this egg donor? Is she treated justly? What are the short- and long-term risks to her health? The answers to these questions will disturb you . . .
Produced by The Center for Bioethics and Culture (Lines That Divide, 2009), Eggsploitation spotlights the booming business of human eggs told through the tragic and revealing stories of real women who became involved and whose lives have been changed forever.
You can watch the trailer below.




The Infertility Industry’s Dirty Little Secret – a review of Eggsploitation
by Fiorella Nash (SPUC)

One of the most neglected ethical issues both in this country and abroad is also one which arguably involves the greatest threat to human life and the most blatant exploitation of women. Like the abortion industry, it treats early human life as property to be used or destroyed, it is highly lucrative for the professionals involved and it quietly abuses and manipulates the very women it claims to be helping. I am talking of course about the multi-million dollar IVF industry, which cashes in on the desperation of infertile couples by promising to make their dream of having a child come true. In a world where thousands of unwanted children are killed through abortion every day, the abortion industry’s alter ego is creating, screening and destroying thousands of embryos in the name of supplying other women with ‘wanted’ children.

In many ways, the IVF industry has been a great deal more successful than the abortion industry in terms of its public image. Associated as it is with smiling couples holding beautiful babies, IVF has become mainstream and people talk openly and positively about IVF in a way that they would never talk about abortion. This is partly because the destructive aspect of IVF is less obvious and many people do not appreciate the amount of embryo wastage that occurs as a result of artificial procreation. It is also easier for scientists to provoke confusion and doubt about the humanity of an embryo under fourteen days than that of a baby of much later gestation. However, whereas pro-abortion forces try to ridicule, trivialise or silence the stories of the many women who regret their abortions, those involved with the fertility industry have not even bothered to acknowledge the existence of women who have been hurt and indeed killed by the risky procedures involved in the harvesting of eggs.

Eggsploitation exposes the manipulation of young women – usually students – by a fertility industry reliant upon a continuous supply of eggs from ‘suitable’ donors and the callous disregard shown to donors when their health is severely compromised. The women interviewed had all had a desire to help an infertile couple to have their dream baby and they were notably all struggling financially at the time, meaning that their decision to go through with the egg-harvesting process was heavily influenced by promises of thousands of dollars in remuneration. The documentary charts the brutal process egg donation involves; the self-administration of powerful drugs to block normal menstrual cycles, yet more drugs to hyper-stimulate ovulation and the final operation to extract the eggs when they have matured.

The women interviewed included one woman who suffered a stroke following the egg extraction surgery which left her paralysed and unable to have children of her own, and a PhD student who was repeatedly instructed to carry on injecting herself with drugs in spite of her concerns for her well-being and who went on to suffer a pierced artery and severe internal bleeding. The saddest story of all was from another former student named Alexandra who collapsed in excruciating pain following egg extraction. She was sent home from the fertility clinic twice before her condition was taken seriously and her life was saved with the loss of an ovary. A risk I had not come across before but which was mentioned almost in passing was that in her early thirties, Alexandra was diagnosed with breast cancer and, she noted, two of the other young women in her breast cancer help group had been an egg donor or undergone IVF treatment, with her doctor acknowledging that a disproportionate number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer had been exposed to high doses of hormones that way.

Almost as appalling as the descriptions of serious medical emergencies (and I warn you that this documentary is not for the squeamish) were the women’s accounts of the way they were treated by their fertility clinics/agencies when they suspected problems or became ill. One woman had her concerns about an underlying health problem dismissed by fertility specialists keen to stop her backing out of donating her eggs and she only refused to go ahead when her own doctor warned her that she was at risk of seizures if she took the prescribed drugs. Another spoke of being contacted by the fertility clinic when she was seriously ill in hospital recovering from a stroke, to be told that she had not produced enough eggs and would be paid less than originally agreed.

Most heartbreaking of all were the interviews with the mothers of two young women who did not live to tell their own story and the video footage of one of them dancing in front of the camera, the picture of health, was almost unbearable to watch. The fertility industry has a serious case to answer. As one of the interviewees said towards the end of the programme: “My case does not show up in any statistics.” It is astonishing that these procedures should be being carried out on women when the studies to gauge the serious long and short term risks have not been carried out. The exploitation of women and the terrible suffering they have endured needs to be publicly recognised and this grotesque industry stopped from doing any further harm.

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Quiet champion of the pro-life movement dies

I am saddened to hear of the death of John Damian O’Callaghan, the inaugural chairman of the Board of the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI).

For many years, SCBI has provided the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children with bioethical advice. It is an independent, non-sectarian, autonomous institution committed to research into important bioethical issues. Based in Adelaide, Australia, it adheres to universal human values, human rights, and the laws of humanity, including the inviolable and inalienable right to life of every member of the human family, whatever the age, status or ability of that member, from conception to natural death.

Fr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant and a founding director of SCBI has sent me the obituary which I am pleased to publish.
John Damian O’Callaghan (1930-2011)
Quiet champion of the pro-life movement dies
John Damian O’Callaghan was the inaugural chairman of the Board of Southern Cross Bioethics Institute from the 28th of March 1988 until his resignation on the 8th December 2009.

For 21 and a half years, his leadership of the Board was a key factor in the Institute’s development from a new and unknown entity to one which has achieved recognition nationally and internationally. He championed the cause of the Institute to the Board of Southern Cross Care, the parent body, to secure its ongoing funding and professional development.

Through the best of times and through the most difficult of times he promoted the work of the Institute as a vital contribution to the Australian community - and to the international community - in the development of public policy in a way that would show the utmost respect for human life from conception to natural death.

When we think of the heroes of the prolife movement we often think of those outstanding personalities whose intellectual or charismatic abilities are so publicly obvious to all. But crucial to the workings of an academic institute with its prolife orientation are those who may not have a high public profile but who steadily maintain the viability of the institute.

Where John O’Callaghan was concerned, no demands on his time were too much for the Institute of whose Board he was the Chairman. He was outstanding in his intuitive appreciation of the need for a bioethics which was based on the natural law, respected fundamental human rights, and which fostered an ethically proper relationship between the medical profession, the nursing profession, academic scientists, and the community that these professions seek to serve.

Cheerful, honest, steadfast, mature in judgment, wise in the ways of the world, friendly, giving, gifted, humble, self-effacing, and faithful are just some of the words to describe this great man.

John O’Callaghan is an unsung hero of the prolife movement. His hard work over many years, quietly achieved, lives on after him.

The righteous live for ever,
and their reward is with the Lord;
the Most High takes care of them.
(Wisdom 5:15)
Dr John I Fleming
Founding Director (1987-2004)
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute
13th October 2011
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Thursday, 13 October 2011

From abortionist to pro-life activist - Nathanson's story

I am grateful to Dr Peter Saunders for highlighting a new review of Dr Bernard Nathanson's (pictured) book The Hand of God, which recounts Dr Nathanson's conversion from being both an abortionist and a member of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws to becoming a pro-life activist. Dr Nathanson eventually went on to become a Catholic. I have posted before on Dr Nathanson's invaluable insights for the whole pro-life movement. Dr Nathanson sadly passed away earlier this year.

Trevor Stammers, programme director in bioethics and medical law at St Mary’s University College, London, has reviewed Dr Nathanson's book in this week's edition of the British Medical Journal. In his post Dr Saunders covers the essential elements of Dr Nathanson's heroic story:
He [Trevor Stammers] describes how Nathanson ‘found the tensions of the “moral whipsaw” of both aborting and delivering babies were becoming intolerable’ and later ‘became seized by “an unremitting black despair”’ which led eventually to his Christian conversion'.

I will leave you to read the review for yourself but I was interested also to find Nathanson’s ‘confession’ on line which gives insights into how he and others worked to legalise and popularise abortion in the United States:

‘I am personally responsible for 75,000 abortions. This legitimises my credentials to speak to you with some authority on the issue. I was one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the U.S. in 1968. A truthful poll of opinion then would have found that most Americans were against permissive abortion. Yet within five years we had convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to issue the decision which legalised abortion throughout America in 1973 and produced virtual abortion on demand up to birth. How did we do this? It is important to understand the tactics involved because these tactics have been used throughout the western world with one permutation or another, in order to change abortion law.’

What were these tactics? Essentially three:

1.Lie to the media about the true number of illegal abortions
2.Pretend that all opposition was Catholic
3.Denigrate and suppress all scientific evidence that life begins at conception

For more detail see Nathanson’s confession.
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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 13 Oct


Population Research Institute will celebrate birth of seven billionth child
Steven Mosher (pictured), President of the Population Research Institute, has suggested that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is coordinating a scare campaign focused on the global population reaching seven billion people. Mosher cited the recent statement by Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters', where he said "Where people have choices, such as the UK, we are asking them to have 'two or fewer' children as part of a sustainable lifestyle.” Mr Mosher said that Population Matters' were "[t]urning a blind eye to the lengthening life spans and soaring per capita incomes that have accompanied this growth" and that "Population Matters wants a world where childbearing is restricted and there are a lot fewer human beings". Steve Mosher will publicly debate Chris Packham of Population Matters this Friday, October 14th on the BBC. [Steven Mosher, October 2011http://goo.gl/F3mz8

English Catholic bishop to pray outside London abortuary

Catholic Bishop Alan Hopes will lead 40 days for Life London in prayer for an end to abortion on 4 November between 7pm - 8pm. 40 Days for Life London is running a daily vigil outside the bpas abortion facility in Bedford Square, which began on 28th September and concludes 6th November. Earlier this year Bishop Hopes led the Helpers of God's Precious Infants pro-life vigil in Twickenham. [40 Days for Life London, 12 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/9zxhv

Indian Catholic bishops celebrate large families in response to two-child policy
The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), India, has announced a day to recognize and celebrate large families, in response to a recently proposed state bill that would penalize families with more that two children. The new bill recommends fines or jail sentences for couples who have more than two children. Fr. Stephen Alathara, spokesman for the KCBC, said "It is the right of a couple to decide how many children they need, not the state’s". [LifeSiteNews.com, 11 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/S7BVc

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
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Bishop Hopes to lead 40 Days for Life vigil in London


40 Days for Life London send out daily email alerts reminding people to sign up for the vigil and encouraging those who have committed to forty days of prayer and fasting in defence of human life. These emails are replicated on their blog.

Each email contains a pro-life quote for the day. I thought this quote from day 13 was particularly good.

"Science teaches that human life begins at conception. If it is also true that it is affirmed by religion, it does not for that reason cease to be a strictly scientific truth, to be transformed into a religious opinion. He who denies that human life begins with conception does not need to contend with religion, but science. To deny this certainty of biology is not to express a lack of faith, but a lack of basic knowledge of human genetics, something that is even known by the general public."

~ Ecuadorian Federation of Societies of Gynecology and Obstetrics, April 17, 2008

SPUC London region are attending the ongoing vigil as a group on Saturday 15 October.

It is also very encouraging to see that Bishop Alan Hopes (pictured) will be leading the vigil on 4 November, 7pm to 8pm. I strongly encourage as many of you who can to go along and support Bishop Hopes and all those at the vigil praying for an end to abortion.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Primary schools are under no obligation to teach sex education

Tomorrow evening Antonia Tully (pictured), coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, will address a public meeting in Bournemouth to warn parents about the explicit materials being used in primary school sex education classes. One of the local Bournemouth newspapers, the Bournemouth Echo has reported on the scheduled meeting.
CAMPAIGNERS will arrive in Bournemouth this week to protest about sex education programmes in primary schools.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which is behind the Safe at School nationwide campaign, is calling for a ban on what it says is “explicit sex education”.
Co-ordinator Antonia Tully will say at a public meeting on Thursday that children as young as seven are “exposed” in the classroom to cartoons showing sexual intercourse. She is asking parents of primary school age children to attend.
The cartoon forms part of the living and growing sex education scheme which the campaign says is the most widely used sex education resource in schools.
“Parents don’t realise this is being used in schools until afterwards. So many parents were getting in touch with us after their children had seen it and were affected by it. The parents came to us looking for support,” she said.
Anne Crossland, Bournemouth council’s strategy leader for primary schools, said: “Current legislation requires all maintained schools to teach some aspects of sex education.
“It is the responsibility of each school’s governing body to develop their policy for this and to make sure it is available to all parents.
“If sex and relationships Education is taught outside the statutory science national curriculum, parents have a right to withdraw their children.”
She added a sample sex and relationships education policy is provided to school governors and the borough works jointly with Poole and Dorset to develop the local Rainbow programme to support the personal social and health education curriculum.
“This includes guidance for each year group on relevant DVD material.
“Schools have been advised to prepare carefully before delivering any sex and relationships education lessons and to be sure to watch any DVD material first to ensure it is suitable, in accordance with their agreed school policy,” she added.
The meeting will be held at the Durley Dean Hotel, West Cliff Road in Bournemouth on Thursday at 7pm.
No-one involved in education at the Borough of Poole or Dorset County Council was available for comment.
Antonia has said in response: "I disagree with much of Anne Crossland's explanation of what schools are required to do. Primary schools are under no obligation to teach sex education. Primary schools are free to decide not to teach sex and relationships education (SRE). Sex education should not be taught in science lessons at primary school. There is nothing in the national curriculum for science at Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 which requires primary schools to teach children about sexual issues, sex organs or sexual intercourse.

"I would like to know what DVD material Poole and Dorset suggests is suitable for its primary schools.

"A key point Ms Crossland fails to make is that the headteacher and the governing body should consult with parents on both the schools policy and on the materials used to deliver SRE. Parents should 'watch any DVD material first to ensure it is suitable' as well as schools."

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tue 11 Oct

Leading UK Catholic newspaper to host pro-abortion speaker
John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, has reported that his latest edition of The Catholic Herald was accompanied by inserts for Médecins Sans Frontières ("Doctors Without Borders") and the Alzheimer's Society. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) both performs and defends abortion and The Alzheimer's Society has lobbied for embryonic stem cell research and the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Act. On the front page of the paper was an advert for a talk, organised by The Catholic Herald, to be given by Nadine Dorries MP. Ms Dorries is on record as saying she supports a woman's 'right' to abortion. [John Smeaton, 11 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/aaehN


Italian woman flown to London for late-term abortion
Over the weekend The Sunday Times published the news that an Italian woman had been sent to London to have an abortion. The woman was 28 weeks pregnant with a child with a non-threatening brain abnormality. Abortion is illegal in Italy after the first trimester except when the mother’s life is in danger. The woman then flew home from London, her baby having been killed by injection, to give birth back in Italy. Leading obstetricians have decried the incident as irresponsible and dangerous and the Italian gynaecologist who sent the woman to England has been sacked. [ProLife.org.uk, 10 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/IGJwv


Other stories:


Abortion
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Catholic newspapers should not host pro-abortion speakers or advertise anti-life groups

SPUC's copy of last weekend's edition (7 October) of The Catholic Herald (Britain's main Catholic newspaper) arrived at SPUC HQ, wrapped as usual in cellophane and containing advertising inserts. The larger of the two inserts was from Médecins Sans Frontières ("Doctors Without Borders") and the smaller insert was from the Alzheimer's Society.

As I have blogged in July 2008, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) both performs and defends abortion. And in 2007, Jose Maria Simon, president of the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Doctors, claimed that an MSF internal protocol advises MSF doctors how to get away with performing illegal abortions.

The Alzheimer's Society has lobbied for embryonic stem cell research and the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Act.

If that wasn't bad enough, the top banner of The Catholic Herald's front-page read:
Nadine Dorries
The MP launches our new series of talks
The advertisement inside read:
"The Friary Talks ... [Speakers] will engage you in Catholic subjects ... Chairing the talks is Cristina Odone"
As readers of this blog and the SPUC website will know, Nadine Dorries is pro-abortion. In her own words:
"I support a woman’s right to abortion—to faster, safer and quicker abortion than is available at the moment, particularly in the first trimester ... [Also] I would like the morning-after pill to be available from every school nurse and in every supermarket pharmacy—and it should be free for young girls..." (Hansard, 20 May 2008) "I can ensure [sic] you that if a Catholic group said they were going to set up and offer advice [to pregnant women considering abortion] I would be as against them offering advice as I am the abortion advisor.” (Independent, 30 August 2011)
Many readers will also know that Cristina Odone dissents from Catholic teaching on homosexuality, including attacking Pope Benedict over his approach to the issue. Catholic newspapers should not give platforms to, or accepting advertising from, organisations, politicians or individuals who oppose Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life or the truth about human sexuality. In 2004 the U.S. bishops approved a policy stating, in part:
“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
"[P]latforms which would suggest support for their actions" has been interpreted to mean "speaking invitations, as these invitations would suggest support for their actions." In February 2008 a number of prominent US Catholic leaders signed a joint letter which:
"urge[d] our fellow leaders of Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, charitable organizations, advocacy groups, media and other institutions to refrain from all activities that provide a public platform to, or imply support or even neutrality toward, political leaders and candidates who advocate positions on serious moral issues that are clearly contrary to Catholic teaching, most especially the Church’s reverence for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death."
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Monday, 10 October 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 10 Oct


British Lord says abortion is a form of eugenics
Lord Nicholas Windsor (pictured with his family) has described abortion as a form of eugenics. Writing in the The Telegraph Lord Windsor said that his commitment to opposing abortion originated in his realisation that terminating a pregnancy means the destruction of a human being. Summarising the pro-life position Lord Windsor said "the cost [of abortion] is too high because the cost is paid in innocent human life". [Telegraph, 10 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/lHQbf

Northern Irish Health Minister plans presumed consent system for organ donations
Edwin Poots, the Northern Irish Health Minister, has said he will raise the possibility of introducing presumed consent for organ donation. Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, said "It is worrying that the minister is opening the door to the idea that the state, ultimately, owns people’s bodies after death.  Such an oppressive attitude undermines the idea that human body parts are not like any other exchangeable commodity but are only to be donated, where appropriate, as a free act of self-giving from one person to another.  For a state to ignore this language of giving and instrumentalise the human body, effectively reducing it to mere property, is an affront to human dignity which undermines us all.  Even those who explicitly consent to be organ donors are often unaware of the state their body will be in when their organs are harvested after 'brain death' or 'cardiac death'.   Given that there is serious doubt as to whether those described as 'beating heart cadavers', for example, are actually dead, it is irresponsible in the extreme to further empower the state to remove the organs of those unable to speak for themselves". Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said "this is a worrying development and SPUC will be writing to the Minister and the Attorney General regarding the ethical concerns which would arise from a change in the law to facilitate the presumed consent of potential organ donors". [Belfast Telegraph, 10 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/kU8cH

Barack Obama lauds regulation forcing employers to fund abortifacient contraception
 American President Barack Obama has celebrated a mandate which will force religious employers to fund health insurance packages which cover abortifacient contraceptives. 18 Catholic colleges and universities have written a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services protesting the mandate and the United States Catholic Bishops Conference urged Catholics to object to the mandate online. Catholics are now being urged to write to their members of congress and urge them to support conscience protection legislation. [LifeSiteNews.com, 7 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/z79lw


Other stories:


Abortion
Sexual ethics
General
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Listen to SPUC's Antonia Tully speak out against explicit sex education in primary schools

Antonia Tully, coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, is speaking at public meetings across the country to inform parents about how primary school children are being subjected to explicit sex education. On Tuesday Antonia was speaking in Wakefield, West Yorkshire; and you can listen to Antonia being interviewed last week on BBC Radio Leeds, by clicking on the play button in the box below or by listening on YouTube. This Thursday Antonia will speaking in Bournemouth.



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Sunday, 9 October 2011

I'm praying for God's mercy on the late Madeleine Simms, promoter of eugenic abortion

Thalidomide child: survived Simms' campaign
This week it was reported that Madeleine Simms had died. She was one of Britain's leading campaigners for eugenics via abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Alison Davis of SPUC's No Less Human group, which defends disabled persons' right to life, tells me that:
"Her campaign against allowing disabled babies (both unborn and newborn) to see the light of day and, in later years against allowing disabled adults to continue living was central to her whole ideology."
Madeleine Simms joined the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) (founded in 1936) in 1961. She was also a founding Trustee of the Birth Control Trust and one-time chair of the Family Planning Association (FPA). She was also involved in a short-lived organisation, founded around 1983, called “Prospect”, which campaigned for the direct killing of newborn disabled babies.

In 1971 Simms wrote:
“An abnormal foetus is not aborted because it would die, but on the contrary because it would be healthy enough to live a sub-human existence. Essentially it is for social, ethical and aesthetic reasons that some people recoil from the survival of such sub-humans and prefer to see them aborted."
(M Simms and Keith Hindell, Abortion Law Reformed, London: Peter Owen, 1971)
Simms also said:
"I became really active [in the abortion lobby] when the Thalidomide tragedy occurred ... The drug thalidomide was the motor that reinvigorated the Abortion Law Reform Association and paved the way for reform."
So I'm praying for God to be merciful to her and to all involved in promoting the killing of the unborn and the disabled.

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