Saturday, 23 February 2013

Congratulations to World Congress of Families for withdrawing invitation to Iain Duncan Smith

I was heartened earlier this week to receive the email below from the World Congress of Famililes, announcing that it has withdrawn its invitation to Iain Duncan Smith, the British Cabinet minister, to address the next Congress in Sydney this May, following his vote in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:
Decision to Withdraw Invitation to Hon. Iain Duncan Smith to Speak at WCFVII Sydney 2013

Dear Friends of the Natural Family, World Congress of Families, and the International Pro-Family Movement,

In a little over three months, we will convene the 7th World Congress of Families (WCF) in Sydney, Australia, May 15-18.  This Congress, with the theme “Happy Families, Healthy Economy: A New Vision for National Prosperity and Social Progress”, will be an historic event as the first Congress in the southern hemisphere, the first in the Asia-Pacific region and the first in an English speaking country.  Arrangements for the Congress are going very well and we hope you will make plans to join us and the delegates from more than 70 countries, in Sydney to affirm and defend the Natural Family (www.wcfsydney2013.com.au).

I feel obliged to inform you, however, that the Local Organizing Committee of WCF VII, with the backing of WCF Management Committee and the International Planning Committee, has withdrawn the invitation to the Hon Iain Duncan Smith, MP, UK Secretary of State, to be one of our keynote speakers at WCF VII.

In an unfortunate change of position, Mr Duncan Smith voted last week in favor of “same-sex marriage,” despite his many years of support for the natural family and traditional marriage as the first Roman Catholic to serve as the Conservative Party leader. The letter to Mr Duncan Smith from the Local Organizing Committee and Mary Louise Fowler (Chairperson) is quoted here for your reference:

“The World Congress of Families Organizing Committee has watched the debate in the United Kingdom regarding the government recognition of “same-sex marriage” with considerable interest and growing apprehension.

Regrettably, you cast your vote in support of the Marriage (Same-Sex) Bill last week, a bill which is at odds with the World Congress of Families’ definition of the natural family, marriage, and a child’s right to be raised by its mother and father. As a consequence of your vote, it is the decision of the Organizing Committees (Australia, New Zealand and International) that the invitation extended to you to be a Keynote speaker at the upcoming World Congress of Families 7, to be held in Sydney 15-18th May this year, be withdrawn.”

The WCF exists to affirm and defend the natural family as the fundamental unit of society necessary to renew a stable, free and prosperous  civilization.  The definition of natural family comes from a working group of the World Congress of Families, crafted in May, 1998, in a Second Century B.C. room in the ancient city of Rome. It is informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), by the findings of science, by the wisdom of human nature through the ages and is consistent with the beliefs of the Abrahamic religions.  This definition reads:

The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered around the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage, for the purposes of:
  • satisfying the longings of the human heart to give and receive love;
  • welcoming and ensuring the full physical and emotional development of children;
  • sharing a home that serves as the center for social, educational, economic, and spiritual life;
  • building strong bonds among the generations to pass on a way of life that has transcendent meaning
  • extending a hand of compassion to individuals and households whose circumstances fall short of these ideals.
Thanks to you, the leaders and supporters of the international pro-family movement, we will continue to stand strong for the natural family and for the children of the world!.

Blessings to you and your family,

Larry (Jacobs)

The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an international network of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders and inter-faith people of goodwill from more than 80 countries that seek to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the 'seedbed' of civil society (as found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). The WCF was founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson and is a project of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois. To date, there have been five World Congresses of Families – Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw, Poland (2007) and Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2009), and Madrid (2012.)
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Friday, 22 February 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 22 Feb

Top story:

Irish pro-lifers shouldn't be misled by false histories of the 2002 abortion referendum
Some people are being misled into believing that the current threat of abortion legalisation in the Republic of Ireland is due to the defeat of the proposals put to the Irish people regarding abortion in the 2002 referendum. The 2002 proposals were in fact similar to those being proposed in Ireland right now. Pat Buckley, SPUC's man in the Republic of Ireland, has produced the following brief review of what was at stake in 2002. You can read Pat's review on the blog of John Smeaton, SPUC director

Other stories:

Euthanasia
  • Claims that man left to die alone after appalling care had been put on Liverpool Care Pathway [Chad, 22 February]
Sexual ethics
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"Abortionists would have leapt through open door" provided by Ireland's 2002 abortion referendum

11 years ago SPUC responded to pro-life groups in Ireland who requested our support in opposing a constitutional amendment which, they saw, would give the green light to the abortion industry.

As Pat Buckley reported on my blog earlier this week, some people are being misled into believing that the current threat of abortion legalisation in the Republic of Ireland is due to the defeat of the proposals put to the Irish people regarding abortion in the 2002 referendum. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here's an analysis of what was at stake written in March 2003 by Robin Haig, the chairman of SPUC, and former chairman of the Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn (ALDU), a body which enjoyed a membership of around three thousand lawyers. For a footnoted version of the original paper, do write to me at the address below.
Irish Referendum 2002: Proposed 25th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Comment from Robin Haig, Chairman of SPUC and ALDU

It has become clear that the proposed 25th Amendment to the Irish Constitution and SPUC’s reasons for supporting the “No” campaign in the referendum have not been explained adequately.

The referendum proposed the introduction into Irish law of the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill 2002 (the Bill). Almost before the “Yes” and “No” campaigns got under way SPUC began to be contacted by individuals and groups from both the North and South of Ireland deeply concerned by the way the proposed amendment would if accepted, damage Ireland’s Constitutional protection for human life from the time of conception. I was contacted by members of ALDU who were similarly concerned.

SPUC’s Constitution, approved by Council many years ago, makes it quite clear that the Republic of Ireland is one of SPUC’s principal areas of activity. SPUC has worked in Ireland in the past and to very good effect. It was proper that on this occasion SPUC should respond to the requests it was receiving and that it should lend what assistance it could.

The amount of information and authoritative advice available to SPUC was voluminous and continued to grow as the campaign progressed. All of it has confirmed the rightness of SPUC’s support for a “No” result. Among the Irish people there was a difference of political opinion about the referendum proposal with some well-intentioned pro-life people and groups on the “No” side, some on the “Yes”. This difference of opinion has led to attacks on SPUC’s stand but SPUC has not cast any such aspersions on those supporting the “Yes” campaign. However SPUC remains convinced of the rightness of its case. There was a long and informed debate about the referendum and SPUC’s involvement in it, at the March 2002 National Council meeting when the action in Ireland was approved with acclaim.

The support in Ireland for the referendum proposal was not surprising. The main declared aim of this proposal was to close a loophole in Irish abortion law resulting from an earlier court decision which appeared to allow abortion to be carried out if the pregnant mother threatened to commit suicide. But the question remains, “Why did the new law contain so many concessions?” For example:

The new law would have introduced into Irish law a definition of abortion as the intentional killing of unborn children “after implantation”. As a purely factual definition, this is untrue. No one should be asked to vote for an untruth.

This false definition was preceded in the Bill by the words “In this Act” and it was claimed, therefore, that this definition was limited to be used within the narrow confines of this particular law alone. In practice, however, what this law would have done, had it been approved in the referendum, would have been to enshrine this false definition of abortion at the heart of the Irish Constitution. It is no coincidence that in September and October 2001, just as the referendum proposals were being published, the Irish Medicines Board was considering an application to licence the morning-after pill in Ireland. Approval was given to the m.a.p. on the mendacious ground that the m.a.p. is a contraceptive not an abortifacient. In connection with the application the Medical Director of the Irish Medicine’s Board advised the Board that, “The proposed referendum on abortion helps to clarify the issue in that it proposes to define an abortion as occurring after implantation of a fertilised egg”. There is no acknowledgement here that this definition was intended only to be applied to that specific law. And yet, this statement was made on 24th October 2001, only weeks after the draft law was published, months before the referendum was due to take place, long before the law might come into force, a law which will not now even come into force at all. This definition was never intended to be limited to the circumstances “In this Act” but had been introduced to be used, as here, to legitimise the killing of and experimentation upon human embryos.

The new law would have repealed the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which is the underlying law (subject to the Irish Constitution) which prohibits abortion in Ireland. Much was said to down-play the significance of this change – the 1861 Act was said to be an anachronism and it was said that the Constitution contains other protective measures. The same 1861 Act still applies also in the United Kingdom and especially in Northern Ireland where the Abortion Act 1967 does not apply at all. The Abortion Act has largely undermined the 1861 Act in the remainder of the UK but not in Northern Ireland and pro-lifers in Northern Ireland were rightly concerned at proposals to repeal the Act in the Irish Republic. The repeal of the Act would have had symbolic connotations in the whole of the U.K. and indeed in many parts of the former British Empire where laws based upon the 1861 Act still apply.

The law would have allowed abortion to be carried out by doctors where “in the reasonable opinion of the practitioner [it is] necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of loss of the woman’s life other than by self destruction.” It was established in English law as long ago as 1939 that saving a woman’s life was (in the context of abortion) interpreted by the Courts to mean preventing her from becoming “a physical or mental wreck”, in other words a much wider interpretation than simply preventing her death. There is every reason to suspect that a similar interpretation would be given in Ireland.

What is more, the new law would have required the medical practitioner to form his opinion acting “in good faith”. That phrase, which occurs in the UK Abortion Act, is the reason, above almost all other reasons, why we have abortion on demand in the UK. However stupid, foolish, even negligent the doctor may be shown to have been in reaching his opinion, it is almost impossible to challenge the doctor’s assertion that it was given in good faith. This provision in the proposed new law, would have given Irish doctors wide powers of interpretation to decide whether or not, in their opinion, an abortion was justified. Abortionists would have leapt through this open door with glee.

The Bill would have underlined in Irish statute law the right for Irish women to travel abroad to have abortions. Whether or not this provision would have made any practical difference to what is actually happening (Irish women are already travelling abroad for abortions) there seems to be no good reason why this provision should have been included in the Bill nor why any pro-lifer should be expected to vote for it.

The proposed new law was extremely complex. One legal journalist described the language of the proposed law as “complex to the point of obscurity” with one 125 word sentence being “incomprehensible to everyone except legal experts.” Even the supporters of the new law admitted its complexity. The Chairman of the Pro-Life Campaign wrote, in a letter to the press “the proposal was complex, easy to misrepresent, took time to digest, even with the best legal advisers, requiring knowledge of the Irish Constitution and Gaelic”. And yet the Irish people (only a tiny percentage of whom speak Gaelic) were expected to vote for it with a simple “Yes”.

It is true that the Irish Catholic Bishops had recommended that the people should vote for the referendum and it was no easy matter for SPUC to disagree with that recommendation. The Bishops took the view that closing the “X case loophole” was worth the compromises that they believed had to be made. Many other people shared that view and neither I nor SPUC criticise that for one moment. No one has a monopoly of insight. Nevertheless, the referendum was a political, not a religious issue. The Bishops themselves made it clear that the referendum proposal was not perfect and that further measures would be required to secure better protection for unborn children. They also made it clear that a decision how to vote in the referendum was a matter of personal conscience. There was room for difference of opinion and it was entirely proper for SPUC and many other influential pro-life people to hold a contrary view. This is not a question of disloyalty to the Church on the part of those pro-lifers who are Catholics and SPUC would have no part in encouraging disloyalty on the part of Catholics or anyone else.

There was no more loyal servant of the Catholic Church than Mr Justice Rory O’Hanlon, a former Irish High Court judge and a very well known and experienced pro-lifer in Ireland, who died in the Spring of 2002. He was reported as having said that he “would not support a measure which was contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.” When he saw the referendum proposal he described it as, “the most serious attack yet witnessed on the integrity of our Constitution” which he argued would “definitely liberalise Irish abortion law greatly so as to increase abortions in Ireland.” He said, “The proposal is intrinsically evil.”

Although I do not agree with the assessment made by the supporters of the referendum proposal of its likely effect I do not criticise them nor do I bear them the slightest ill will – neither does anyone else in SPUC. We maintain that now more than ever before, all people of goodwill must work together to promote the culture of life.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Peter Stanford, former Catholic Herald editor, misrepresents Pope Benedict on gays, the unmarried and contraception

Last week, the Daily Telegraph featured an article on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation by Peter Stanford (right) in which he misrepresented the Pope's teaching on the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

He wrote:
"[Pope Benedict's] inaugural encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), in December 2005 broke new ground, first in being written in such a way that non‑theologians could follow it, and second in celebrating human love without the standard Catholic exemptions for gays, the unmarried and those using contraception. 'Sex please, we’re Catholics' was the reaction of the influential Catholic weekly, the Tablet."
What Peter Stanford overlooks or fails to mention is that, for example, in Caritas in Veritate, his third encyclical, Pope Benedict wrote: "The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life[27]. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II's Encyclical Evangelium Vitae [28].”

There were many other allusions, in Pope Benedict XVI’s body of teaching, to homosexual relationships, married love and contraception, which restated the Church’s unchanging position on these matters - as has been universally reported, and as some simple searches on my blog will confirm for Mr Stanford's future reference.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Irish pro-lifers shouldn't be misled by false histories of the 2002 abortion referendum

Some people are being misled into believing that the current threat of abortion legalisation in the Republic of Ireland is due to the defeat of the proposals put to the Irish people regarding abortion in the 2002 referendum. The 2002 proposals were in fact similar to those being proposed in Ireland right now. Pat Buckley, SPUC's man in the Republic of Ireland, has produced the following brief review of what was at stake in 2002:

The proposed amendment was called the "Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2001"

Introduction
This was one of the most divisive referendums ever to be presented to the Irish public. The proposals said little about saving the life of both the mother and the child, and much about the 'destruction' and 'ending' of unborn human life. The following is a brief analysis of the implications of the various elements.

An outline of the proposals
There were five main elements to the Government's proposals:
1. The apparent prohibition on suicide as a ground for abortion.
2. The acceptance of "medical" grounds for abortion.
3. The legalization of early (pre implantation) abortions.
4. The endorsement of the right to travel for the purpose of abortion.
5. The repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861

It was claimed for the proposals that they would reverse the 'X' case judgement. In our opinion, the 'X' case judgement may have been narrowed in one respect (relating to suicide), but it would have been widened in other respects; and the balance was overwhelmingly to the detriment of the unborn child.

Apparent prohibition on suicide as a ground for abortion
Expert evidence given to the All Party Oireachtas Committee suggested that it would require corrupt complicity of medical and legal professionals to make extensive use of suicide as a ground for abortion and this has been repeated many times since.

The acceptance of "medical" grounds for abortion
The Government proposals asserted that:
"… abortion does not include the carrying out of a medical procedure by a medical practitioner at an approved place in the course of which or as a result of which unborn human life is ended where that procedure is, in the reasonable opinion of the practitioner, necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of loss of the woman's life other than by self-destruction."
This clause represented legislation for the 'X' case, (excluding suicide), and is a liberal interpretation at that. The crucial distinction between ‘directness of action’ and ‘unintended and indirect consequence’ is not made. The Government proposals would have allowed direct killing had they been approved. The risk to the life of the mother need not have been immediate and the medical practitioner was not obliged to obtain another opinion . The Taoiseach at the time stated that the procedures covered all conditions raised by medical practitioners ‘of whatever opinion’, and he was arranging for the designation of 30 hospitals for the ‘carrying out of medical procedures’. The then Minister for health had actually named the hospitals where terminations would take place

NOTE 1: It is significant that the phrase, ‘unborn human life is ended’ was used instead of ‘unborn human life is Lost’. Ended in this context signifies a deliberate action whereas lost would have signified an unintended consequence.

If the Government in 2002 genuinely intended to refer only to life saving medical interventions, which would have had an unintended but indirect side effect resulting in the death of an unborn baby, the wording would have been along the following lines:
"Abortion shall not include the carrying out of a medical procedure by a qualified (registered) medical practitioner in the course of which or as a result of which, unborn human life is lost as an unavoidable side effect or secondary consequence of standard medical procedure necessary to save a mother’s life."
NOTE 2: Whilst wording along these lines may have resolved this particular issue the other significant defects still remained in the legislation.

The legalization of early abortions
The Government proposals would have repealed sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861 (OAPA). Together with Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, this Act protects the unborn from the time of its conception. The repeal would have decriminalised early abortion and the sale of abortifacient chemicals and devices, and also have permitted destructive embryonic experimentation.

This issue was at the heart of these proposals. By criminalizing abortion from implantation only, the Government was seeking to give legitimacy to the notion that life begins only at implantation, a notion that has attractions for a commercial, as well as an EU agenda together with international pro-abortion interests.

But everyone knows that life begins at conception [fertilization], not implantation

In addition to the foregoing the 2002 proposal had another major defect:

The endorsement of a right to travel for the purpose of abortion
The Government proposals effectively claimed a right to travel for a purpose that would, "if it occurred in the State, constitute the offence" of abortion. This would have taken the 1992 travel amendment a stage further, to declare in our Constitution that the killing of an Irish person is acceptable outside the State and would have conceded that we do not really have a problem with abortion, only with location. This was then, and still is, completely unacceptable.

What was the truly pro-life position in 2002?
The Government proposal asked us to allow the direct and intentional destruction of unborn human life, to remove all legal protection for embryonic life at its earliest stages, and to put into our Constitution an effective right to travel for the specific purpose of abortion, setting aside our moral objection to abortion. Despite the fact that many pro-life organizations accepted the Government proposals the truly pro-life position lay in their outright rejection.

In his written legal opinion, former judge, Mr. Rory O'Hanlon, said the proposals were ‘clearly intrinsically evil’ and would ‘greatly worsen the legal protection afforded unborn human life’.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 18 Feb

Top stories:

Free IVF for gays and over-40s is nonsensical waste
Giving free IVF to same-sex couples and to women over 40 is a "nonsensical waste", says SPUC. SPUC was responding to newspaper reports regarding the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on fertility. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, commented: "Same-sex couples, career-women who consciously delayed childbearing, and women who chose to remain single, chose a naturally non-fertile lifestyle. The money would be better spent on younger heterosexual couples with genuine fertility problems, and on the more successful, natural and ethical alternatives to IVF. [SPUC, 16 February]
Related stories - featuring videos of interviews with Anthony Ozimic:
Education secretary challenged to be honest about gay marriage bill
SPUC has challenged Education Secretary Michael Gove to be honest that teachers will be in trouble if they claim that gay marriage is not real or true or valid marriage. SPUC, which argues that the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill will undermine the pro-life institution of real (i.e. heterosexual) marriage, was responding to Mr Gove's answers to the Commons committee scrutinising the bill. [SPUC, 12 February]

SPUC thanks Pope for linking protecting life with defending marriage
SPUC has thanked His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for linking the protection of human life with the defence of marriage. SPUC was responding to the announcement that Pope Benedict is abdicating the papal throne due to infirmity. John Smeaton, SPUC's director, commented: “On behalf of SPUC, I wish to express our gratitude to Pope Benedict for the many times in which he linked the protection of human life with defending the family based on authentic marriage and with the proper use of sexuality. Pope Benedict’s statements were wake-up calls to the whole pro-life movement to campaign against same-sex marriage and similar threats to the life-giving meaning of sexuality.” [SPUC, 11 February]

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics

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