Friday, 3 February 2012

On this day in pro-life history, 3 Feb

Caxton Hall
On this day (3 Feb) in pro-life history in 1967, the journalists C.H. Rolph (also known as C.H. Hewitt) wrote an attack on the newly-founded Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in The New Statesman. SPUC had hosted a meeting attended by around 200 consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists in Caxton Hall, London. Rolph wrote:
"[T]he Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are really too much. I don’t know how many of the 460 consultant gynaecologists in England and Wales are members of the RCOG, but last week at Caxton Hall a couple of hundred of them voted 192 to 5 against the [Abortion] Bill and one of them said they would all emigrate if it became law, apparently on the ground that it would turn them into compulsory state abortionists. I don't think even the ones at the meeting will go abroad..."
It should noted that the RCOG,  was then opposed to the Abortion Bill (later Act). In 1966, the RCOG Council commented:
“It has been repeatedly stated that as many as 100,000 criminal abortions are induced in this country each year, and a more recent estimate is 250,000. These, and an earlier figure of 50,000, are without any secure factual foundation of which we are aware.”
(“Legalised Abortion: Report by the Council of the Royal College of
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists”, British Medical Journal, 1966; 1: 850-854.)

The RCOG Council showed that, in 1962, only approximately 14,600 women in England and Wales had received hospital treatment for the consequences of criminal abortion.

Yet, as Rolph rightly predicted, not many obstetricians or gynaecologists emigrated or changed profession following the passing of the Abortion Act. Most simply conformed to the Abortion Act, and those who wouldn't conform were marginalised. In fact, today the RCOG is the de facto trade union for Britain's abortionists, and now violates the right of conscientious objection to abortion (contrary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols' claim last October). The RCOG's policy is that:
"abortion and contraception are an integral part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services."
and also that:
"Practitioners cannot claim exemption from giving advice or performing the preparatory steps to arrange an abortion where the request meets the legal requirements. Such steps include referral to another doctor, as appropriate."
This phenomenon of conformity disproves the argument made by some liberal voices within Catholic circles that the pro-life movement should not insist on legal bans on abortion being passed and upheld. The effect of the Abortion Act was not simply to increase massively the number of abortions (ten-fold within a few years of the Act being passed to over 200,000 today). The Abortion Act led to the wholesale corruption of obstetrics and gynaecology, with doctors putting conformity to an unjust law above human rights, medical ethics, proper healthcare and the welfare of women. This phenomenon has been rightly described as "the banality of evil" (for more information about it, read "The effect of abortion on moral character" by Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager).

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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Eminent legal academic offers hard-hitting challenge to Falconer assisted suicide report

Dr Jacqueline Laing
Dr Jacqueline Laing, senior lecturer in law at London Metropolitan University, has written a hard-hitting challenge in The New Law Journal to the Falconer report on assisted suicide. Here are some of her most salient points:
  • "With a steadily ageing population in Western countries and numerous political, financial and medical interests in the procedure, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that the subject should now be raised annually."
  • "Discrimination against the vulnerable, and thus Art 14 incompatibility, bedevils this ethical terrain ... Once enshrined in law, the practice invariably involves a move towards the elimination of those who have not asked to be killed, those who are unwanted, those who are lonely and low-income (KNMG Dutch Physicians Guidelines, Position paper, 23 June 2011), and those whose deaths offer some advantage to third parties controlling the process."
  • "In this environment failures of transparency, ie lies and deception, are both pragmatic and inevitable. Belgium is now well-known for its failures of transparency with only 52.8% of acts of euthanasia reported to the authorities in Flanders. (Reporting of euthanasia in medical practice in Flanders, Belgium (BMJ 2010; 341: c5174).)"
  • "[In the Netherlands] voluntary euthanasia has given way to non-voluntary euthanasia, false reporting and under-reporting."
  • "Falconer et al seriously underestimate human capacity for error and vice ... Falconer and his stacked commission with their foot-in-thedoor approach to this programme, invite, institutionalise and incentivise murder— nothing less."
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Must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 2 Feb

Glasgow centre doing egg screening
Top stories:

Pre-IVF egg-screening test criticised by SPUC
SPUC has criticised a Scottish IVF centre for introducing a technique to screen eggs for genetic abnormalities. The Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine claims that the screening will improve the outcomes of IVF treatment. SPUC Scotland said: "Even if egg-screening helps to increase the number of births following IVF, it will still be the case that the vast majority of embryos created in the laboratory will not be born. IVF demeans human dignity by reducing procreation to quality-controlled, factory-like production. Doctors should instead be pursuing the far more successful ethical alternatives to IVF." [Herald, 28 January]

New Spanish government abolishes anti-life school course
The newly-elected Spanish government has announced that it is abolishing a citizenship school course which promoted abortion and other anti-life and anti-family ideas. The previous Socialist government had imposed the Education for the Citizenry course on schools against the wishes of many parents. [CNA, 1 February] John Smeaton, SPUC director, commented: "I congratulate the many parents whose campaign to uphold their fundamental right to be their children's primary educator has been successful."

India most dangerous place in world for girl children, suggests new figures
A report by the United Nations suggests that India is the most dangerous place in the world for girl childen. Figures by the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs suggest that from 2000 to 2010 there were 56 deaths of boys aged one to five for every 100 female deaths. Campaigners cite sex-selective abortion, infanticide and deliberate neglect as part of the phenomenon. [Telegraph, 1 February]

Other stories:
  • Occupy Wall Street protesters disrupt pro-life meeting, throw condoms at Catholic schoolgirls [Fox, 31 January]
  • US breast cancer charity stops funding Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research centres [LifeNews.com, 1 February]
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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Wed 1 Feb

Top stories:

Act now to get government to block advertising by commercial abortion centres
The two bodies which draft the advertising code of practice have made changes to allow “commercial post-conception advice services” - in reality, abortion clinics which earn income from performing abortions - to advertise on television and radio, in print and elsewhere. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, said that the advertising industry's "supposed 'watchdog' is acting as the abortion industry's poodle." [SPUC, 21 January] The change will come into effect on 30 April. The government should use its powers to stop such advertising SPUC's question-and-answer briefing will give you the information you need to help make this happen.

US study used to claim that abortion is 14 times safer than giving birth
A new US study is being used to claim that abortion is 14 times safer than giving birth. The researchers drew on data from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Anthony Ozimic of SPUC told the Huffington Post: "Whatever the merits or otherwise of this study and its authors’ conclusions, the fact remains that the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is banned, has one of the world’s best records on maternal health, better than the US or the UK where abortion is available easily. The key to saving pregnant women's lives, whether in the developed or developing world, are improvements in primary healthcare and specialist pregnancy care. Abortion neither treats conditions nor cures illness." [Huffington Post, 24 January]

'Three-parent' embryo technique "unethical and macabre" says SPUC
SPUC has described as "macabre and unethical" a so-called 'three-parent' embryo technique which is due to receive £5.8 million of funding. SPUC was responding to the announcement by the Wellcome Trust that embryo research into mitochondrial disease will start at its new centre at Newcastle University. At the same time the government has launched a public consultation on whether to pass legislation to allow the 'three-parent' embryo technique to be used for medical treatment. [SPUC, 19 January]

Claim of rise in illegal abortions globally is dubious, says SPUC
A claim published in The Lancet medical journal that so-called 'unsafe' - usually illegal - abortions worldwide have risen by 5% is "dubious", says SPUC. The claim was made in a report by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organsation (WHO). John Smeaton, SPUC director, commented: "The WHO routinely makes unsubstantiated claims about so-called 'unsafe' or illegal abortion. WHO is one of the world’s major pro-abortion bodies. The Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of the worldwide pro-abortion lobby. The report is pro-abortion propaganda, and should be dismissed as such." [SPUC, 19 January]

Midwives defend right to conscientious objection in Scottish court
Two midwives from Southern General Hospital in Glasgow are challenging the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board over their right not to be involved in abortions in the hospital’s labour ward. SPUC is supporting the midwives' stance and is underwriting their legal costs. The case follows a lengthy grievance procedure that has failed to resolve the matter. [SPUC, 17 January]

Other stories:

Abortion
  • Baby-saving pro-life counsellors are under threat, so let's focus on defending them from all quarters [John Smeaton, 27 January]
Embryology
  • Skin cells turned directly into brain cells, claim US scientists [BBC, 31 January]
Euthanasia
  • Four patients die thirsty or starving every day in UK hospitals, suggest new stats [Mail, 22 January]
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Exciting news as Marian icon embarks on ocean-to-ocean pro-life pilgrimage

From the icon-blessing ceremony
Ewa Kowalewska, our pro-life colleague at Human Life International (HLI) Poland, has kindly sent me the press release below, with the exciting news that an icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will be embarking on a pro-life pilgrimage from “ocean to ocean" from Vladivostok to Fatima:
"PRESS RELEASE

Dramatic Call from Czestochowa
This icon will embark on a pro-life pilgrimage from “ocean to ocean" from Vladivostok to Fatima.

"We stand before you, Mother of Our Redeemer, fully aware that alone we are unable to win this global struggle. Stand at the forefront of the defense of pro-life movements and lead us. Protect life! Save the family! Strengthen us!”

On Saturday, January 28 in the Jasna Gora monastery leaders of the pro-life movements of 16 European and Asian countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, UK, USA and Poland came together. They made an "Act of Trust and Consecration" to the Black Madonna icon of Jasna Gora placing into Our Lady’s hands the protection of life and the civilization of love. Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions of Human Life International (HLI), the largest international pro-life organization, read the text in English. Galina Maslennikova, Head of the Family Center at the Catholic Cathedral in Moscow, read the act of Trust and Consecration in Russian. Ewa Kowalewska, representing the Club of Friends of Human Life and HLI-Poland presented the text in Polish.

This solemn celebration in the icon chapel of Jasna Gora was led by Czestochowa Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak along with two other bishops and numerous Polish and foreign priests. Also present were Orthodox priests from Ukraine and Belarus and the pro-life leaders from these countries.
During the ceremony, Archbishop Nowak blessed a copy of the icon of Czestochowa. According to an ancient tradition of the Pauline Fathers, the copy was touched to the original which the Orthodox Church also recognizes as a significant gesture. Archbishop Nowak called it the “kiss of love.” During the evening televised and radio transmitted “Jasna Gora Appeal” Fr Isidore Matuszewski, prior of the monastery, turned to the Orthodox priests present and welcomed them in the Russian language. They will be entrusted with the copy of the icon as it travels through Russia and the East.

This icon was made using traditional egg tempera and mineral pigments and 23 carat gold on wood of the same size as the original.

The celebrations at Jasna Gora were preceded by a pro-life leaders' meeting consisting mainly of HLI representatives from different countries.They discussed the planning of this ocean to ocean pilgrimage. Fr. Zacharias Jablonski explained the tradition sending icons on pilgrimages and even on the frontlines of battles, with a request to God for help, where there is the greatest threat to life. He spoke about the Polish experience of pilgrim icons of Our Lady of Czestochowa and its fruits.

Dr. Igor Beloborodov of Russia shared the experience of organizing car rallies for life in Russia and Ukraine. He also pointed out the real possibility of an icon pilgrimage from the Far East of Russia, through Central/Eastern Europe and on to Fatima-from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

An organizing committee was formed with representatives of 16 countries including Orthodox movements. Each member of the international committee will create a national committee responsible for the national pilgrimage of the icon. The exact timing and route of the pilgrimage will be determined by the Orthodox movements from Moscow.

"The number of victims already exceeds two billion human beings. Each day an additional 50 thousand children die in their mother’s womb. Many people do not want to have any children at all. Means of destroying fertility and life are becoming more and more common.”

“Infertility of married couples is increasing. The human child is a becoming a product of modern technology, a donor cells and organs.
Children ‘are produced’ with designated attributes, subject to selection. Hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos are preserved between life and death in liquid nitrogen.”

“International man-made law denies legal protection for the life of the unborn child. More and more countries are legalizing euthanasia.
There is a growing attack on marriage and family." (from the act Trust and Consecration)

Defenders of human life take note of these dramatic facts and are convinced that with God's help, through the intercession of the Mother of God, the civilization of life shall prevail. They declare that; "every effort will be made to defend human life, especially the lives of the smallest and most vulnerable.” This new icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will now begin to create its own history. On Sunday, January 29 it travels to Minsk, Belarus on her way to the East.

Ewa Kowalewska- Club of Friends of Human Life - Human Life International
- Poland."
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Sunday, 29 January 2012

British government is afraid of the homosexual lobby

Dr John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, (pictured) has told David Cameron, the prime minister, not to legalize gay marriage*. He said (in an interview in the Telegraph yesterday):
“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman ... I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are ... We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way ... "
Dr Sentamu rightly alludes to the actions of "dictators" when referring to David Cameron's plans, for the following reasons:

Firstly, consider the enormity of what the government intends to bring about. David Cameron and his government intend to re-define marriage: a fundamental good of human beings, the first and vital cell and source of human society, which is upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the following terms: “Men and women of full age ... have the right to marry and to found a family. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."

As Mario Conti, the Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, put it (in the context of the Scottish government's plans): 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."
Secondly, David Cameron and his government are intending intend to redefine marriage without even the fig leaf of an electoral mandate.

Prior to the election neither of the parties now in the Coalition Government made any reference to changing the law in this area in their manifestos.

Moreover,the coalition agreement does not make any reference to changing the law in this area. (The Coalition: our programme for government, May 2010)

Yet Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on behalf of the Government, has told Archbishop Peter Smith, the Catholic archbishop of Southwark, "that the Government intended to introduce same-sex marriage and that the consultation was merely to help with the 'nuts and bolts' of the legislation".

Clearly, the government is refusing a consultation on the principle of gay marriage because they're afraid of the homosexual lobby** and because they're afraid that public opinion is being mobilised in defence of marriage and the family.

It's essential that British citizens, of all faiths and none, show no fear in opposing the government's plans. Let's keep the following key points in mind:
  • The fundamental group unit of society is not the State; it is the family based upon the marriage of a man and a woman.
  • Marriage is not the monopoly of Christians or of any particular faith group. As SPUC puts it in our position paper on same-sex marriage: "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."
  • It's essential, in opposing the redefinition of marriage, to do so without prejudice to our opposition to civil partnerships in the UK which were in effect designed as, and are seen by many, as quasi-marriages, as leading homosexual activists have made clear (See SPUC's position paper on same-sex marriage and its accompanying background paper).
  • To defend man-woman marriage is in no way to denigrate homosexual people, as is sometimes wrongly claimed. Rather, it is simply to defend a vital social institution which protects children born and unborn - and indeed, protects society as a whole. All of us, whatever our personal background, have an interest in supporting this vital, pre-political institution. It is part of the heritage of humanity.
*SPUC's national council, which is SPUC's policy-making body, elected by its grassroots volunteers, last month passed the following resolution to defend marriage:
"That the Council of SPUC, noting the various proposals currently being made by the present Government and others in regard to the status and standing of marriage and its consequent effect upon family life; and further noting the higher proportionate incidence of abortion in unmarried women compared to married women, resolves to do its utmost to fight for the retention of the traditional understanding of marriage in the history, culture and law of the United Kingdom, namely the exclusive union of one man with one woman for life; and accordingly instructs its officers and executive committee to conduct a major campaign to this end, to co-operate with other persons and societies in so doing and specifically to target the Government's consultation period starting in March, 2012, in regard to (so-called) same sex marriage."
**Why is homosexuality (and sexual ethics generally) important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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