Friday, 2 August 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 1 Aug

Top stories:

Nicklinson-Lamb euthanasia ruling welcomed but 'Martin' assisted suicide ruling carries danger for disabled people
SPUC Pro-Life has welcomed the fact that the murder law has been upheld in today’s judgment in the Nicklinson and Lamb euthanasia cases. However, the majority judgment in the case of the anonymous third man, 'Martin', is deeply disturbing. Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, said: "If implemented it could encourage the pro-euthanasia lobby to recruit paid medical and legal professionals to organise the suicides of suffering and disabled people. [SPUC, 31 July]

Ethical campaigners saddened by final approval of Wales opt-out organ bill
Ethical campaigners have expressed their sadness following final approval of a bill in Wales to create an opt-out system for organ transplantation. Members of the Wales region of SPUC are saddened that the Secretary of State for Wales has decided not to use his powers to block the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill from being sent to Her Majesty the Queen for Royal Assent. Michael Wendell Thomas, vice-chairman of SPUC's Wales region, said: "A collective weight of opinion has demonstrated that implementation of the Bill will be fraught with risk. "Members of SPUC's Wales region will remain vigilant regarding this ill-considered piece of legislation. We will campaign wherever possible to mitigate the effects that it may have on the weak and vulnerable in our midst. [SPUC, 31 July]

Family campaigners worldwide must protest against Cameron’s plan to export same-sex marriage
SPUC is calling upon family campaigners worldwide to protest against the British prime minister’s plan to export same-sex marriage, following David Cameron’s speech last night at a reception at No. 10 Downing Street, the prime ministerial residence, to thank those who had engineered the rail-roading of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act through Parliament. John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, called for international resistance to the British prime minister’s global plans to impose sexual licence on children and poor families. He said: “SPUC will be contacting church leaders, politicians and family campaigners worldwide to alert them to this threat by the British government, asking them to protest to the British embassies in their countries. Same-sex marriage is a counterfeit version of marriage and thus undermines real marriage, which is the best protector of children, both born and unborn. [SPUC, 25 July]

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology and stem cells
Population
Sexual ethics
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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Nicklinson-Lamb euthanasia ruling welcomed but 'Martin' assisted suicide ruling carries danger for disabled people

SPUC Pro-Life www.spuc.org.uk has welcomed the fact that the murder law has been upheld in today’s judgment in the Nicklinson and Lamb euthanasia cases.

However, the majority judgment in the case of the anonymous third man, 'Martin', is deeply disturbing. Commenting on this, Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
"If implemented it could encourage the pro-euthanasia lobby to recruit paid medical and legal professionals to organise the suicides of suffering and disabled people. The majority judges have done a disservice to disabled people by suggesting that the DPP’s prosecution guidance for assisted suicide should be amended based on Martin’s situation. 

This is the kind of outcome that pro-euthanasia campaigners were seeking, and it is clear that if it is put into effect, many more disabled people could be channelled towards assisted suicide.

The present prosecution guidance has been criticised by disability rights groups for being too lax. Low prosecution statistics suggest that it is in need of tightening, rather than further relaxation. However, despite the DPP’s reluctance to bring prosecutions for criminally assisted suicide in recent years, the number of cases, mainly abroad, has remained low. There is little to show for the huge media support and vast legal expenses incurred by the pro-euthanasia lobby.

The DPP’s published guidance omitted a highly contentious point, which had been included in a draft version, saying that disability in the victim would be a factor tending against prosecution of someone trying to help that person commit suicide. Many disability rights groups had objected to being singled out in this way.

The guidance also holds that if any individual is involved in assisting suicide in a professional or paid capacity it should weigh in favour of prosecution. 

In the 'Martin' judgment, the court appears to challenge these elements of the policy, calling Martin a 'paradigm' instance of why this should be allowed. 

Care and support for severely disabled or paralysed people who express a wish to die should be shown in the same way as for those without disability – by practical expressions of solidarity with them, such as working to improve pain control. The truly compassionate response to people with severe disability means helping them overcome any sense of worthlessness, not confirming such feelings by unethically (and illegally) helping to kill them."
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Ethical campaigners saddened by final approval of Wales opt-out organ bill

Ethical campaigners have expressed their sadness following final approval of a bill in Wales to create an opt-out system for organ transplantation.

Members of SPUC's Wales region are saddened that the Secretary of State for Wales has decided not to use his powers to block the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill from being sent to Her Majesty the Queen for Royal Assent (see note below). 

Michael Wendell Thomas, vice-chairman of SPUC's Wales region, told the media earlier today:
"A collective weight of opinion has demonstrated that implementation of the Bill will be fraught with risk. This opinion has been presented by medical and ethical professionals, faith communities (Christian, Muslim and Jewish), patient care organisations, plus the vast number of people who made individual submissions to the Welsh Government during three years of consultations.

"The case for 'deemed consent' as a valid form of consent was not investigated by the Welsh Assembly's Health or Legislative Committees. The only basis for this kind of law is that the Welsh Government has deemed it so. This is probably the most important law that the Welsh Assembly has ever passed, seeing that it deals with the rights and lives and health of every Welsh resident. It therefore reflects very severely on the reputation of Wales, of devolution, and of all Welsh Assembly members, as well as the current Wales Government. To the ordinary non-lawyer, 'deemed consent' is a meaningless idea; to many eminent or expert people, such as the Archbishop of Wales, it is a "fiction". True consent is explicit and voluntary, and is the only sound basis for laws concerning personal autonomy and permission to remove someone’s organs.

The Bill as described by successive Assembly Health Ministers and the First Minister was for a 'soft' opt-out option, with a family veto on 'deemed consent' cases, as supported by the First Minister (see note 2 below). However, the version of the bill passed by the Assembly on 2 July is for a 'hard' opt-out system. Public and expert submissions had therefore been made on a false premise.

Evidence has shown the current voluntary organ donation system to be successful. However, the number of organs available for transfer has fallen recently. Some feared that the new legislation could lead to more patients on the waiting-list dying before organs became available. It is highly unlikely that, even if the bill does produce more organs, it will save the lives of those Welsh people on the waiting-list.

There is also a myriad of cross-border and human rights issues which will arise once the legislation is implemented.

Members of SPUC's Wales region will remain vigilant regarding this ill-considered piece of legislation. We will campaign wherever possible to mitigate the effects that it may have on the weak and vulnerable in our midst. We shall also seek to ensure that the professional standards of clinicians involved in organ removal are not eroded by pressures from unscrupulous people to produce ever-more organs for transplant, irrespective of the dangers to those dying. We remain committed to real, voluntary and informed organ donation by the individual dying patient."
Notes:

1. Powers granted under section 114 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, under which, after receiving legal advice, the Secretary of State can make an order prohibiting the Clerk from submitting the bill for Royal Assent.

2. "We have decided on soft presumed consent, where relatives can veto organ donation", Observer, 9 May 2010.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Fantastic pro-life/pro-family conference and march in Nigeria

Last month Archbishop Obinna, the Catholic archbishop of Owerri in Nigeria, initiated a pro-life/pro-family conference and a march in his archdiocese. See below some photos from the events, and following the photos the full text of a very strong statement issued after the conference.

SPUC supported these events, by donating foetal models and literature, and a letter from me appeared on the second page of the conference programme. In particular, SPUC is supporting the work of Obianuju ("Uju") Ekeocha of Culture of Life Africa, who helped organise the events. Do visit Culture of Life Africa's:
Uju has written recently a very important article about the promotion of the homosexual agenda in Africa by Barack Obama, the US president. This article is very timely, considering that David Cameron, the British prime minister, has announced his intention to export same-sex marriage around the world.

 
  
UNITED IN GOD FOR LIFE

A Declaration issued at the end of the Pro-life Conference/ Rally at the Obiri Odenigbo, Villa Assumpta, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, June 3rd – 4th, 2013.

As our society is experiencing the dangerous encroachment of the culture of death from without and within, the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri continues its Pro-life Mission by organizing a two-day Pro-life Conference with the theme: “Protecting Human Life from Conception to Natural Death.” Pro-lifers from Nigeria, Europe and America participated in the Conference and Rally. The predominant evils of same-sex union, pornography, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, baby factory, anti-life bills and laws and the negative influence of social networks were the major concerns of this conference. The destructive effects of these moral ills are quite obvious in the structural decay of families in Europe and America which have led to the systematic decline of their economy and social order. These notorious international organizations – International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stops International (MSI), Gates Foundation, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and many more, are serving as platforms for the spread of these anti-life practices.

From insights generated from the conference we declare as follows:

1. Human Life begins at conception and as such must be protected till natural death. Every conceived child is formed and perfected in the image and likeness of God.

2. All legislations for abortion, which is the intentional killing of innocent babies in the womb, should be denounced as evil and abrogated. We must remain resolved in our efforts to ensure that abortion is never legalized in our society.

3. Artificial contraception is morally unacceptable and harmful to the health of women and marriage stability. Hence, the Natural Family Planning is the ideal method of spacing of children and delay of pregnancy. It has proven to be very effective and has no side effects. The key to success is co-operation, commitment, communication and prayer.

4. Human Life is sacred and of inestimable value. The entire human person belongs to God. This means that neither the human person nor his body can be commodities for commercial purposes. We must therefore fight against these heinous crimes against humanity.

5. Same-sex union is abominable and should never be given legal status in our nation. The tolerance and promotion of same-sex union leads to the corrosion of more basic rights (conscience right, religious right), injury to children, further degradation of the family and decrease in life expectancy. It is for this reason that it should never be an integral part of our social, cultural or legal landscape. True marriage is a one-man and one-woman covenant established by God.

6. Having sex is a special preserve for the married. It is a sacred act ordained by God to be exercised only in marriage for its unitive and procreative purposes. Pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex is a deviation of this divine plan of intimate love which is rooted in chastity. Homosexuality and lesbianism are abnormal and sinful acts.

7. We should remain with God for life. If we remain with God, we will not only cherish the life of God in us, we will defend the life of everyone everywhere.

Signed By:

Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna
Archbishop of Owerri

Rev. Fr. Justin Okoro
Chaplain Pro-life Owerri

Mrs. Obianuju Ekeocha
Culture of Life Africa
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Monday, 29 July 2013

Myth exposed: that "risk of death from childbirth is 14 times higher than with abortion"

Prof. Byron Calhoun, pro-life doctor
Fr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant, has sent me kindly his review (below) of an article by Professor Byron Calhoun, a leading pro-life OB/GYN from the US:

Abortion Myth Exposed:
“Risk of death from childbirth is 14 times higher than with abortion”!

In his systematic review of the evidence for claims made by some scholars that women are much 14 times more likely to die as a consequence of childbirth as compared to abortion, Byron Calhoun (Professor & Vice Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, West Virginia University-Charleston) exposes the poverty of actual evidence to support any such claims.[1] 

Professor Calhoun draws attention to the claim, recently made in the academic literature, that “The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than abortion”.  He describes such a claim as “unsupported by the literature” and that “there is no credible scientific basis to support it.”

This robust criticism of a claim that has been made in similar form from time to time by pro-abortion advocates over the last 40 or more years, is an important reminder to us all that argument in the abortion debate has often enough strayed from an evidenced-based account to wishful thinking or mindless advocacy.

In this paper Professor makes a number of crucial points where evidence is concerned and justifies them by use of the best objective information to hand.  There are, he says “numerous and complicated methodological factors that make a valid scientific assessment of abortion mortality extremely difficult”.   

Among the problems he identifies, where the US is concerned, are these:
  1. Such abortion data that we have is unreliable with the evidence showing that up to 50% of abortions in the US is not reported;
  2. The collection of data by the two data collecting agencies is unreliable;
  3. Because abortions are underreported disease states and other consequences of abortion simply do not appear in the death records and thus are “invisible in epidemiological research”; and
  4. Most aborted women do not return to clinics for follow-up care and assessment.
Where the international stage is concerned, Professor Calhoun points out that similar problems are present “due to poor quality reporting and definitional issues”.  He identifies “maternal deaths”, “late maternal deaths”, “pregnancy-related deaths”, and “pregnancy-associated deaths” as variously defined being used to identify “abortion-related deaths”.

There is so much more he has said in this crucially important paper than this brief review can cover. However, when addressing the matter of the most recent research evidence available which has credibility, Professor Calhoun points out that comparative data between the Republic of Ireland on the one hand, and England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other, shows that the countries with legal abortion actually had a higher maternal mortality than the Republic of Ireland which has not until now, permitted legal abortion.

He concludes his review by pointing out the need for accurate data collection before any statements about abortion and maternal mortality can be sensibly made; where the US is concerned he appeals for a quality national healthcare database which includes “all reproductive outcome variables and associations: including elective abortions”.  Crucially, such a database “must also provide open access to all researchers to evaluate this critical women’s health issue.”


[1] Byron Calhoun, “The maternal mortality myth in the context of legalized abortion”, The Linacre Quarterly 80 (3) 2013, 264-276

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Bishop Egan preaches that same-sex marriage was "the inevitable outcome" of the rejection of Humanae Vitae

Philip Egan, the Catholic bishop of Portsmouth, has issued a very important statement on the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. He makes clear that same-sex marriage is "the inevitable outcome" of the rejection of the intrinsic link between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse, the link taught in Pope Paul VI's encylical "Humanae Vitae" (and taught of course by the Church throughout its history). I have blogged many times about Humanae Vitae and its importance for the pro-life/pro-family movement, for example:
 Here is the core of Bishop Egan's statement:
"The passing of this Bill is the inevitable outcome of a process that has been gathering pace since the sexual revolutions of the 1960s. Until then, the traditional (that is, the natural and Christian) understanding of marriage, sexual intercourse and family life prevailed. Sexual intercourse was seen as located exclusively within married family life and having a double end or purpose: the expression of love and the procreation of children. Since the 1960s, however, artificial contraceptives have been widely available, which split these two ends of sexual intercourse, separating the unitive and suppressing the procreative aspect. Lifted from its natural context within married love and commitment, and coupled to pleasure without responsibility, sexual intercourse could now be experienced outside marriage, and thus, in time, take on a new meaning in human relationships. This has led to the ‘contraceptive mentality’ Pope Paul VI spoke of so prophetically in his 1968 Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae and to the decline of marriage and now to its redefinition. For in the revised understanding of sexual intercourse and family life, powerful lobby groups have enabled homosexual relationships to become socially acceptable, and so the Government’s attempt to extend marriage to same-sex couples - and in time, presumeably, to other combinations and partnerships - is an inevitable development.

"As Catholics, like Israel in Egypt, we now find ourselves in an alien land that speaks a foreign language with unfamiliar customs. For what we mean by the matrimony, sexual intercourse and family life is no longer what today’s world, the government, the NHS and policy-makers understand by marriage, sex and the family. Parliament’s Orwellian attempt to redefine marriage radically changes the social context and this presents a massive challenge to the Church in England and Wales: to those who wish to marry in our churches, to Catholic parents bringing up children, to teachers in our Catholic schools, and to the clergy engaged in pastoral ministry. It may also be a legal minefield, although we will have to wait before the full implications of the new legislation take effect. We will certainly need to review our preaching, teaching and school curricula, which henceforth must recognise that our Catholic system of meanings and values is strikingly different from what secular culture now deems normal or acceptable."
As I said in a blog in October 2011, "gay marriage will be here to stay if Catholic leaders don't witness to the whole moral truth about homosexuality". Bishop Egan's clear witness will help future generations to see that, as Pope John Paul II  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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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Brilliant day of fun and pro-life outreach in London

The blogpost below is reproduced from SPUC's excellent youth blog "Why I am pro-life". You can sign up to received the youth blogposts by email - go to http://www.spuc.org.uk/em-signup and select youth (including youth blog alerts).

Brilliant day of fun and pro-life outreach in London

stall
Last Saturday a group of SPUC staff, volunteers, interns, and the leader of 40 Days for Life in the UK hosted a display stall at Lewisham Peoples Day and one of the team, Kara, did loads of free face painting for the children (the stall a few metres away were charged £2!). The day attracts over 25,000 people from Lewisham Borough and beyond. There’s a large fairground, games, artistic and musical performances, arts and crafts, and a wide variety of food from all over the world. We arrived at 12 noon and finished at 6.15pm. We decorated the display with balloons and lots of free sweets, a foetal model set, and packs of pro-life literature. We gave away every side piece of literature we had, which totalled 3000!
Lewisham has one of the worst abortion rates (27.4 per 1000 women between 15-44) in the UK, and one of the highest number of abortions (1,896 unborn children killed last year) in the UK. Neighbouring boroughs Lambeth and Southwark have even worse rates and numbers. There are countless children missing from local infant and primary schools, thanks to BPAS, Marie Stopes, and the NHS which pays for 97% of  abortions, and carries 35% of all abortions in its hospitals.
As ever, we had lots of interesting conversations. We did have a few people who went out of their way to tell us things like “I think you should be barred from being here” “it’s a woman’s right” “you’re telling women what they can do with their bodies” and even a midwife who said “I can’t believe you’re showing pictures of unborn children”. Interestingly, those with the hostile reactions were only willing to rush up, say something, and then run off so as to evade being challenged or listening to a reasoned explanation of why we were there. However, one lady began a conversation with one of our group saying “well just so you know, I’m pro-choice”. The conversation ended with her signing one of our petitions, and rejecting the “pro-choice” position as false and deceptive. This actually happended twice on the day. Perhaps that’s why those hostile to us prefer to run off; the killing of unborn children is indefensible, the “pro-choice” postion illogical and down rightnasty, the rationalisation of a guilty conscience.
However, most people were happy that we were there. Young couples, parents with children, pregnant mums, teenage boys and girls, and grandparents would stop to look at our poster display and foetal model set, ask questions, explain to their children how the baby grows in the womb. I lost count of the number of people who had no idea that abortion in the UK was legal up to birth, or that last year there were 203, 419 unborn children killed by abortionists. Some teachers asked for contact details so we could give a presentation at their schools, another lady wanted information about NaPro technology, which we were able to give.
Here are some photos from the day. I hope they give you an idea of the day and what we were doing.
stall2
new pic
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intern
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It’s been said lots of times on the blog, and it’s worth saying again: We can know all the arguments, go to all the conferences, arrange dozens of talks for pro-lifers, read all the blogs, like all the pages on facebook, follow all the accounts on Twitter etc etc, but if we’re not getting the message out to the public, if we’re not bringing the pro-life message right to the people who need to hear it, then we’re building up a pro-life cottage industry. This makes being pro-life a badge of identity and a hobby, rather than a movement with a mission.
The summer months offer us lots of opportunities to bring the pro-life message to people who’ve never heard it from pro-lifers. People are fed half-truths and lies by pro-abortion groups, politicians, journalists, and TV programmes. There’s also people out there who are opposed to abortion but haven’t thought about doing something about it. There’s also people who are against abortion, but choose to keep silent because it’s an unpopular position which entails being criticised.
  1. Find out if there’s any festivals, gigs, activity days in your area, and get a display up and running.
  2. Do some leafleting. It’s easy, simple, and means you can reach lots of people.
  3. Have a read over some of the previous posts on this blog. Get your thinking cap on, and do something.
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