Saturday, 14 January 2012

Congratulations to the Good Counsel Network, now 15 years old

Yesterday the Good Counsel Network (GCN) (website and blog) celebrated its 15th anniversary. Clare and Stuart McCullough (blog) have, through their prayer, fasting, counselling, support and witness, saved countless lives from abortion and served countless women in need. SPUC is proud to support Good Counsel Network and SPUC staff and supporters were well-represented at last night's Mass marking the anniversary.

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Friday, 13 January 2012

US religious leaders issue joint letter against gay marriage

Yesterday, religious leaders in the United States issued a joint open letter to all Americans entitled: "Marriage and religious freedom: fundamental goods that stand or fall together". The signatories include:
  • Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York; president, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Nathan J. Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
  • Rev. Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
  • The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
  • Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, Chair, Board of General Superintendents, The Wesleyan Church
  • Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander, The Salvation Army
  • Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God
  • Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The letter says, among other things:
"The promotion and protection of marriage—the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife—is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people. The meaning and value of marriage precedes and transcends any particular society, government, or religious community. It is a universal good and the foundational institution of all societies. It is bound up with the nature of the human person as male and female, and with the essential task of bearing and nurturing children.

As religious leaders across a wide variety of faith communities, we join together to affirm that marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake and for the good of society. We also recognize the grave consequences of altering this definition.
...
[W]e believe the most urgent peril is this: forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct. There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.

These conflicts bear serious consequences. They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of “marriage” does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once.
...
Therefore, we encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman... We especially urge those entrusted with the public good to support laws that uphold the time-honored definition of marriage..."
Unfortunately, the joint letter omits to:
  • say that the signatories actually "will resist the compulsion of the law" if gay marriage is legalised
  • refer (at least directly) to the "family"
  • refer to parents as the primary educators of their children.
The letter is, however, a sign that opposition within US faith communities to gay marriage is strong and that different religions can come together to uphold the natural moral law.

Another sign of similar opposition to gay marriage has come in recent months from the Scottish Catholic bishops:

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, 11 Sept. 2011:
"[R]edefining marriage will have huge implications for what is taught in our schools and for wider society ... This proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right [to marry] ... [M]arriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father ... All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father, the evidence in favour of the stability and well being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal ... If the Scottish Government attempt to demolish a universally recognised human right [the right to marry], they will have forfeited the trust which the nation, including people of all faiths and none, have placed in them and their intolerance will shame Scotland in the eyes of the world."
Mario Conti, archbishop of Glasgow, 9 Oct. 2011:
"Those in Government need to be respectfully reminded that a mandate to govern does not include a mandate to reconstruct society on ideological grounds, nor to undermine the very institution which, from the beginning, has been universally acknowledged as of the natural order and the bedrock of society, namely marriage and the family. In terms of law, its support and defence have been on a par with the defence of life itself. We weaken it at our peril."
Philip Tartaglia, Bishop of Paisley, 12 Sept. 2011:
"Governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry ... Marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father. For that reason, same sex unions cannot fulfil the nature and purpose of marriage ... A Government which favours and allows for same sex ‘marriage’...commits an act of cultural vandalism. Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it  ...[W]ith the introduction a few years ago of civil partnerships for same sex unions, people of the same sex do not need marriage to live as civilly recognised couples who enjoy the same legal protections as married couples."
Such arguments and strength of opposition (including from Pope Benedict, who this week warned that gay marriage" inter alia "threatens the future of humanity") gives SPUC inspiration in our campaign against the Westminster government's proposals for gay marriage - see SPUC's position paper and background paper

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 12 Jan

Eugenics victim
Top stories:

Please pray for SPUC on our 45th anniversary
45 years ago yesterday (11 January), the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was established at a meeting in central London. The meeting was held at the Wig and Pen Club in the Strand. Alan Smith, who remains a member of SPUC's executive committee and on its national council, was elected joint honorary secretary of the Society at that meeting in the Strand. Alan said: "It's an important landmark in the pro-life movement of which I'm pleased to be part." [John Smeaton, 11 January]

Hundreds of forcibly-sterilised North Carolina women set to receive $50k compensation
Hundreds of women (one pictured) forcibly sterilised under a now-defunct North Carolina eugenics programme are set to receive US$50,000 each in compensation. The state task-force which determined the sum said it was not seeking to place a value on people's lives. [Mail, 10 January] Such programmes were promoted by Margaret Sanger, the founder of the worldwide abortion movement.

Jersey's health minister against assisted suicide
Anne Pryke, the health minister of the UK island of Jersey, says she will not support the legalisation of assisted suicide. The BBC reported that Mrs Pryke said that life was a privilege and should be protected. Her comments come after a widely-publicised report by a pro-suicide lobbying group. [BBC, 8 January]

Other stories:

Abortions
Embryology
  • NHS cutting back on IVF to save money, stats suggest [Telegraph, 12 January]
  • UK researchers claim two is best number of embryos to implant in IVF [Telegraph, 12 January]
  • UK study claims IVF babies born from frozen embryos are "healthier" than those from fresh ones [Mail, 6 January]
  • 'Chimeric' monkeys made from cells of six different 'parents' [Mail, 6 January]
Euthanasia
Population
  • Profile of China's "Precious Snowflakes", 2nd generation of one-child policy children [Telegraph, 8 January]
Sexual ethics
General
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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Please pray for SPUC on our 45th anniversary

45 years ago today, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was established at a meeting in central London. The meeting was held at the Wig and Pen Club (pictured) in the Strand.

Alan Smith, who remains a member of SPUC's executive committee and on its national council, was elected joint honorary secretary of the Society at that meeting in the Strand. Speaking to me about today's anniversary, Alan said:
"It's an important landmark in the pro-life movement of which I'm pleased to be part."
According to the faded, yellowing, copy of the minutes on my desk those present were (in the chair) The Rt. Hon. the Viscount Barrington, Miss Phyllis Court (my predecessor as SPUC national director, Phyllis Bowman), Miss E. Rhys-Williams (now Mrs Elspeth Chowdharay-Best), Professor J.S. Scott and Mr Alan Smith.

Alan Smith and Elspeth Chowdharay-Best first discussed the formation of SPUC, he tells me, in July 1966. Elspeth had suggested that Alan Smith write to The Spectator opposing the passage of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill (later the Abortion Act 1967) which was then going through Parliament. When The Spectator failed to publish his letter, they felt "something more formal should be done" so he and Elspeth Rhys-Williams wrote round to academics, political and religious leaders with a view to forming an organization which became the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Phyllis Bowman played a major role in the Society's successful launch. She and Elspeth knew each other through their work for the National Birthday Trust.

It was the first specifically pro-life group to be formed in the world, said Alan.

One of the fifteen people elected on that occasion to serve on the executive committee was Mr Aleck Bourne.

In 1938, Dr. Alec Bourne had performed an abortion on a 14-year-old girl who claimed to have been raped by soldiers. He gave himself up to the police, was charged with performing an illegal abortion, put on trial and acquitted on the grounds that the girl would have become 'a mental wreck' if she had not had the abortion. As a result of the Bourne case, more and more abortions began to be practised in Britain in cases where the woman's physical or mental health was thought to be in danger, a loophole in the law that was interpreted increasingly loosely. Dr Bourne became so concerned about the results of his action that he became a founder member of the SPUC.

Those also elected were The Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, Mr Owen Barfield, Professor Sir Andrew Claye, Mrs Christopher Davson, Professor Ian Donald (who pioneered the use of diagnostic ultrasound in medicine), Lady Glyn, Dr C.B. Goodhart, Mr Joseph Hiley MP, Professor Peter Huntingford (who sadly went on to join the pro-abortion lobby), Mrs K Irvine, Mr Alasdair MacKenzie MP, Professor J.C. McClure Browne, Dr. R.A. Newton, Mr Gordon Oakes MP.

Please pray for SPUC on our 45th anniversary.

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Education for Choice fails to debunk pro-life campaign against gay marriage

Education For Choice, a pro-abortion propaganda outfit, has today tried (but failed) to debunk SPUC's campaign against so-called gay marriage, a campaign launched in the context of protecting unborn children. EFC deny that there is any particular link between abortion rates and the marital status of women.

Here's a response from Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager:
"If younger women are more likely to have abortions, that is at least partly because they're less likely to have the protective effect of marriage. This effect is not 'magical' but very practical: lack of male support is cited as a reason by so many women wanting abortions. Men who won’t commit publicly to the mothers of their unborn children are likely to be less supportive towards them when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. Our society constantly tells women that conceiving a child does not make you morally responsible for that child - and all too many men sadly take that attitude too.

Yes, older married women do have abortions (though still not as often as unmarried women) - sometimes because of marital problems, or worries about foetal disability. Women in this situation need real, life-affirming support - not the 'quick fix' of abortion which does not heal but destroys. At the same time, we need to protect and strengthen marriage in the interests of children and their natural parents - not dilute and distort marriage in the supposed interests of freewheeling adults. When people get the message that it doesn't matter what they choose - providing only that they choose it - everyone suffers, beginning with the vulnerable offspring marriage exists to serve.

Those interested in comparisons between cohabiters and married couples should look at the paper "Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities" by Finer and Zolna (in the journal Contraception, funded by the very anti-life Guttmacher Institute), which clearly shows a big disparity in abortion between cohabiting couples and married ones (almost twice as likely).

The relation between same-sex marriage and the abolition of conjugal marriage (and the need for conjugal marriage to protect children born and unborn) is clear to anyone able to understand simple logic - readers can examine it here: http://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/papers/ssmbackground20120103

EFC's new relationship with Brook is unsurprising, considering that both EFC and Brook (in common with the rest of the pro-abortion lobby) have signally failed to reduce unintended conceptions and sexually-transmitted infections among the young people they falsely claim to serve."
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SPUC right to campaign against gay marriage, as Pope says threats to the family "threaten the future of humanity"

Pope Benedict XVI, in an address to the world's ambassadors to the Holy See, said:
"In addition to a clear goal, that of leading young people to a full knowledge of reality and thus of truth, education needs settings. Among these, pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and States; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue. It is in the family that we become open to the world and to life..."
Within this quotation I wish to emphasise the phrases:
  • "the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman"
  • "policies which undermine the family threaten...the future of humanity itself."
  • "It is in the family that we become open to...life".
This complements what the late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae:
  • [responsibility for abortion, among others] "lies...with those who should have ensured — but did not — effective family and social policies in support of families"
  • "The underlying causes of attacks on life have to be eliminated, especially by ensuring proper support for families and motherhood."
  • "Within the 'people of life and the people for life', the family has a decisive responsibility ... the role of the family in building a culture of life is decisive and irreplaceable."
  • "Only a true love is able to protect life."
Pope Benedict's teaching is also complemented by Cardinal Burke, who gave it a concrete form when he said in September 2009:
"The respect for the integrity of the conjugal act is essential to the context for the advancement of the culture of life". [my emphasis]
And As Dale O'Leary, an expert on the gay agenda, has written:
“Purposefully conceiving a permanently fatherless or motherless child is an act of violence against the child ... Opposition to ‘gay rights’ is rooted in a deep understanding of the truth about the human person, and cannot therefore be cast aside without undermining the very concept of human rights. The promotion of fake ‘rights’ will necessarily undermine support for real human rights.” [my emphasis]
Marriage is a fundamental good of human beings and a natural institution. While different religions honour marriage and some raise it to a sacrament, they do not thereby deny that it is an institution natural to human beings – a basic human good. People of faith and those of no faith can and do agree on this.

The necessity of the family based on marriage, the wrongness of so-called gay marriage and the close link between pro-life and pro-family issues are not only Catholic/Christian/religious beliefs, accessible only to theists and only of concern to them. These beliefs are immutable truths of the natural moral law, accessible by the light of reason to all and of concern to all. As Pope Benedict said in September 2010:
"Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life ... the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society." [my emphasis]
To defend the nature of marriage is also to re-emphasise the evil of abortion, by grounding our morality in the idea that human persons are essentially bodily beings, whose flourishing has an objective bodily dimension. Sex, procreation, marriage and human life itself are all cheapened by ignoring or downplaying this basic fact. It is for these reasons that it is necessary to speak out on issues surrounding same-sex marriage and civil unions.

SPUC cannot stand by as marriage, which exists precisely because new life stands in need of parental love and nurture, is radically undermined by political bodies which should instead defend this natural institution.

Gay marriage is a pro-family issue and therefore a pro-life issue, squarely within SPUC's constitution and democratically-decided remit. SPUC, for the sake of the future of humanity and the protection of all children, born and unborn, will continue to campaign against gay marriage - see SPUC's position paper and background paper.

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Tablet editor jettisons the truth about pro-abortion MP Jon Cruddas

Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet (the anti-life and anti-family house-journal of British Catholic dissent), has written a column (second page; requires signing-in) in this week's edition about relations between the Labour party and Christianity. She writes, among other things:
"The suspicion [within the Labour party] of Catholic MPs and their agenda has also not been helped by pro-life groups who were vociferous in criticising the placing of an intern within Jon Cruddas' office because the MP in their eyes had failed to speak out on abortion."
Mrs Pepinster is referring to a move by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to reverse a decision to provide Dr Cruddas with an intern, as part of its parliamentary internship scheme. The move followed criticism by myself and other pro-lifers of invitations to Dr Cruddas to speak at two Catholic conferences (National Justice & Peace Network and Blackfriars).
 
Mrs Pepinster takes no account of the truth about Dr Cruddas's record on abortion. Dr Cruddas has not merely "failed to speak out on abortion", and not merely "in [the] eyes" of pro-lifers - Dr Cruddas is on record defending legal abortion, thus:
"[Abortion] should be safe, legal and rare"
and
“I'm perfectly happy with the current situation”. [My comment: i.e. a situation which provides legal sanction for the killing of 550 unborn babies daily.]
Futhermore, since 2000, Dr Cruddas voted 18 times with the anti-life lobby, for example voting in favour of the anti-life Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act at second reading (which denotes approval for the bill's principles) - a law designed to kill millions of innocent human beings deliberately created never to be born. He also voted for the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill (now Act) at second reading and third reading (which denotes approval of the bill as a whole). Also, Dr Cruddas has expressed his pride in his voting record in support of the homosexual agenda.

Mrs Pepinster's evasion and obscuring of the truth is typical of The Tablet's narrative about life and family issues, which attempts to provide cover for its dissenting ideological allies. Tabula delenda est.

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