Sunday 31 August 2008

The Philippines and backstreet abortion claims published today by AFP in Manila

In a news story today, AFP (Agence France-Presse) promotes the extraordinary claim that there are between 473,000 illegal abortions and 800,000 illegal abortions annually in the Philippines, a country which has a constitutional ban on abortion (and a strong bishops’ conference constantly speaking out against abortion). That would mean that the Philippines has something approaching three times the abortion rate of the UK where virtual abortion on demand has been lawful for over 40 years. (The AFP report appears to be a blatant media effort to promote a "reproductive health" bill which, I reported recently, has totalitarian and coercive elements)

Anyone who’s travelled to the Philippines, as I have on several occasions, and has witnessed first hand the love of the family and the natural abhorrence of abortion in that country, would immediately recognize here the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels [pictured] principle at work: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

Similar outrageous claims about backstreet abortion have recently been made about Northern Ireland, as I’ve blogged recently.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the reported AFP source for the figure of 800,000 illegal abortions, routinely makes unsubstantiated claims about illegal abortions, as Dr Susan Yoshihara has pointed out.

It should be noted that the WHO is one of the world’s major pro-abortion bodies. For example, it encourages the provision of abortion facilities in refugee camps. A document produced by the WHO states that camps should:

“where elective abortion is legal, establish links with an appropriate health care facility (Type II health centre for first trimester, district hospital for first and second trimesters). If no such facility is available, consider training staff on-site in the provision of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) for first-trimester abortion (however, see footnote*) …

“* … Given the particularly sensitive nature of this aspect of reproductive health, it is vital to be aware not only of the legal position within the host country, but also whether there is likely to be violent opposition from within the refugee or displaced community. Opposition to services is looked at in Section A, Chapter 3, and Section C, Chapter 9.”

The source for AFP’s reference to 473,000 induced abortions in the Philippines is the Guttmacher Institute, a body supported by the World Health Organization, the UNFPA, Planned Parenthood of America – and many other major pro-abortion institutions. [The AFP report gives the source as UNFPA]

A more accurate appraisal of the number of abortions in the Philippines can be found in a paper, by Dr. Roberto De Vera of the University of Asia and the Pacific, entitled "An Analysis of the Estimated Figure of induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 as published in a 2006 Guttmacher Institute* report by Susheela Singh et al".

He says:

“In the 2006 Guttmacher Institute report "Unintended Pregnancies and Induced Abortions in the Philippines: Causes and Consequences", Susheela Singh et al estimated that there were 473,000 induced abortions completed in the Philippines in 2000 using a method consisting of three steps. First, based on reports gathered from 2,039 hospitals which contained the top ten leading causes of admission in the 1999-2001 period, they arrived at an estimate of the number of women in 2000 who were hospitalized due to complications from both induced and spontaneous abortions. Second, they calculated the number of women hospitalized for induced abortions by subtracting the estimated number of women hospitalized for spontaneous abortions (or miscarriages) from the estimated number of women hospitalized for induced and spontaneous abortions. Finally, they arrived at the estimated number of women who had induced abortions by multiplying the estimated number of women hospitalized for complications due to induced abortions by 6 to account for the women who had induced abortions who didn't go to the hospital.

“We find that their method overestimates the figure of induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 because of three flaws. These flaws had the effect of 1) overestimating the figure for women hospitalized for spontaneous and induced abortions due to an assumption that is weakly supported by statistical data; 2) underestimating the number of women hospitalized for complications due to spontaneous abortions (or miscarriages) because it mistakenly covers only those women with spontaneous abortions occurring in 12th to 22nd week of pregnancy who were hospitalized for complications; and 3) using a multiplier which most likely is higher than the ratio of the number of women who have induced abortions to the number of women who are hospitalized for complications due to induced abortions.

“Using modified version of the Singh et al methodology (corrected to account for the above flaws), we arrived at an alternative estimate of 25,924 induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 (1.3 abortions per 1,000 women in the reproductive age). Using a second method, we multiplied 0.0117, the share of induced abortions to live births by the number of live births in 2000, to arrive at second estimate of 20,831 induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 (1.1 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age). We consider these two estimates of induced abortion in the Philippines in 2000 to be more reasonable than the 473,000 estimate (24.5 induced abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age) published in the 2006 Guttmacher Institute report.”

Former abortionist Bernard Nathanson, recently repeated the admission made in his book "Aborting America": "We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions," he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

The deceptions once practiced, but now renounced, by Bernard Nathanson are alive and well in the work of the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization and in today’s AFP report on the Philippines.

Saturday 30 August 2008

The puzzling saintly air of certain strongly pro-abortion politicians

One of the puzzling things for voters, who oppose abortion and other attacks on the sanctity of human life, is the saintly air of certain strongly anti-life politicians such as Barack Obama and, closer to home, Tony Blair (who has repeatedly refused to repudiate the strongly pro-abortion, pro-human embryo research and pro-euthanasia by neglect policies he and his government pursued). Tony Blair has even established a "Faith" foundation under his own name!

The puzzle has been solved by Michelle Obama! According to CNA, yesterday in Denver she said that Barack Obama's pro-abortion stand "respects the sacred responsibility of parenthood" ... so who could be more holy than Barack and Tony?

Friday 29 August 2008

The abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England, Part One: Catholic Education Service at the root of the problem

In previous posts, I have referred to the government’s policy of providing children at school with access to secret abortions and abortifacient birth control without parental knowledge or consent. (The document to which I link, above, states, amongst other things: “Deliberate breaches of confidentiality … should be serious disciplinary matters.”) I have also referred to the fact that the Catholic authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with this policy.

I’ve spoken publicly about the abortion scandal in Catholic schools at many meetings in England and Wales and at international meetings, in Warsaw, Kracow and Manila, with bishops, cardinals and representatives of the Vatican and the Holy See listening to my talks. I’ve been interviewed about the situation in Zenit, the Catholic news agency which, according to its mission statement, aims to view the modern world through the messages of the Pope and the Holy See.

No-one has ever sought to deny the evidence I’ve put forward. No-one has ever written to Robin Haig, SPUC’s national chairman, to ask him: Why is SPUC’s national director saying these things about the Catholic authorities in England and Wales? On the contrary, Catholic priests and parents have approached the Society to confirm that what I am repeatedly and publicly saying is true. Occasionally, SPUC is given the facts about an abortion agency being promoted, with the consent of the school, and SPUC takes up the matter with the Catholic authorities.

But still the abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England and Wales continues.

As a pro-life campaigner I consider that the government’s policy of providing secret abortions to children is the worst development since the passing of the Abortion Act 1967. As a Catholic father, I consider that the policy of the Catholic authorities in this respect is the worst imaginable betrayal of the sacred trust given to the church by her founder. Jesus’s words could not be more relevant and appropriate: “It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than you to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17,2)

The “little ones” concerned are the families betrayed by the policy of the Catholic authorities in England and Wales – parents and children of whom Pope John Paul II said:

“Following Christ who ‘came’ into the world "to serve" (Mt 20:28), the Church considers serving the family to be one of her essential duties. In this sense both man and the family constitute ‘the way of the Church.’"

It’s clear to me that at the root of the problem is the policy of the Catholic Education Service (CES). I’ve decided to write to the CES as a Catholic father whose children recently attended Catholic schools, and as national director of SPUC … but I would appreciate help from the readers of this blog. My letter not only needs to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” – the CES policy must be reversed. The CES must understand, above all, from the Catholic laity and all concerned citizens, its responsibility to protect (not expose) children from the government’s policy of encouraging children to access to abortifacient birth control services and abortion.

If this is an issue which concerns you, please look at the links I provide in my posts on this topic and let me know what you think. This will be the first of several posts.

Let me start by looking at the CES remit which begins:

“The CES negotiates, on behalf of all bishops, with Government, and other national bodies on legal, administrative, and religious education matters in order to: promote Catholic interests in education; safeguard Catholic interests in education; contribute to Christian perspectives within educational debate at national level…”.

We’re told then that the CES negotiates on behalf “of all bishops”. The Catholic Directory tells us that the CES chairman is Archbishop Vincent Nichols and it was established in 1988 as an agency of the bishops’ conference [of England and Wales]. The CES chief executive is Ms Oonagh Stannard.

The CES document “The Connexions Service working in Catholic schools in England” tells us: “The Connexions Service is making an increasing impact on young people in Catholic schools and colleges. It is a service to be welcomed.”

Connexions is the Government's support service for all young people aged 13 to 19 in England. Prominent on the homepage of Connexions’ website is a link and contact details of Connexions Direct advisers – a major aspect of their work to which I will return in later posts.

Another link, centre-stage on the homepage, entitled “Relationships”. Various routes on the Connexions website lead to information about how to obtain an abortion and just a few clicks away on this page you find the following advice:

“I'm pregnant, what are my options? ... There are four main options ...

“ ... Terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion ...

“ ... Remember, ultimately the choice to keep the pregnancy or terminate it is yours. Listen to other peoples' advice and consider financial, physical and emotional support networks that you will need whatever your decision, but the choice is ultimately yours.”

In my letter to the Catholic Education Service, the first question I will be asking is: Why is Connexions ‘a service to be welcomed’ when it’s clearly a government agency which, amongst other things, refers young people to abortion agencies?

Please let me know your views – and any comments you may have on the documents to which I’ve linked. Write to me at

I will return to this matter very soon. With many schools starting back it really is time the CES policy was more widely understood and reversed. As parents and responsible citizens we must resist the government’s pro-abortion policy and, as a Catholic, I am particularly concerned about my church authorities’ co-operation with that policy.

How can the dream survive if we murder the children?

Barack Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention overnight was given on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech. Indeed, Mr Obama, the first African-American nominee for US president, ended his own speech referring to Martin Luther King's speech.

Dr Alveda King, Martin Luther King's niece, has led protests outside the convention against Mr Obama's extreme pro-abortion positions (see my 31 July blog about Mr Obama). Alveda has said:

“Senator Obama’s answer to the ills of society, such as continued tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, are diametrically opposed to everything African Americans truly believe and an anathema to the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." [JS: Planned Parenthood is the American branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world's largest abortion provider and promoter.]

Alveda continued: "Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.

"In the shadow of the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by my uncle in 1963, as Barack Obama makes his speech in 2008, how can the Dream survive if we murder the children?”

John McCain, Mr Obama's Republican rival, has referred to Mr Obama's position on abortion:

"For a man who talks so often about 'hope,' Senator Obama doesn't offer much of it in meeting this great challenge to the conscience of America".

Also in contrast to Mr Obama and his Democratic party, the Republican party has approved a strikingly pro-life manifesto:

"Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.

"We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

This approach mirrors the Amnesty for Babies campaign.

So we should warn people, especially those sympathetic to the other messages of Mr Obama and the Democratic party, not to get swept away by "Obamania".

Thursday 28 August 2008

By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign: Book Review

Mr Leon Menzies Racionzer, a seasoned pro-life campaigner, has been reading Ann Farmer's newly-published By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign*, and this post is based on his kind examination of this important book.

By Their Fruits
reveals the abortion campaign's true origins and motives, beginning with Thomas Malthus' 18th-century warnings that population growth would outstrip increases in food supply. Malthus has of course been proven wrong: as a 2001 report by the United Nations Population Division put it,

"Even though population increased more rapidly during the twentieth century than ever before, economic output grew even faster, owing to the accelerating tempo of technological progress…while world population increased close to 4 times, world real gross domestic product increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world to not only sustain a four-fold population increase, but also to do so at vastly higher standards of living."

Mrs Farmer tells of a plot by a nucleus of politicians and other influential people. The plan is to manage national and global economies by controlling the breeding habits of the poor and non-white, and eradicating the disabled.

She describes the Eugenics Society's Machiavellian activities and includes references to previously unpublished personal files of more than 40 of its members. The eugenicists saw the poor, infirm and non-white as a national burden. They feared such people's breeding habits would alter society so that the elite would be over-run by a sub-class. The lower orders were therefore best limited in number or eradicated.

The eugenicists portrayed a bleak view to legislators of 19th and early 20th-century family life among the poor. Women were described as being oppressed in the home, virtual sex slaves. Mrs Farmer, a member of the Labour Life Group, traces her own working-class family's history to Victorian times. She finds that wives and mothers were actually stabilising forces in families, with a strong moral sense and pride in their offspring. There were also economic advantages to having large families.

Suffragettes and early feminists campaigned for poor mothers' welfare and condemned demands for legalised abortion. By contrast, proponents of the 1967 Abortion Act, including feminists, exaggerated the number of back-street abortions, manipulating statistics on natural miscarriages. The pro-abortion movement constantly refuels this myth.

The eugenicists' birth control policies have actually led to promiscuity and more abortions. Reductions in the size of poorer families have led to an ageing population and a shrinking workforce, which strains the retirement pension system.

The book also describes current proposed changes to British embryology law. It warns of a future with continuing negative attitudes to the poor and disabled. Medical science could become more concerned with the eradication of defective genes than with the search for cures or alleviating pain.

* Catholic University of America Press, ISBN 978-0-8132-1530-3

Wednesday 27 August 2008

"Mistaken reasoning" of those who say Catholic church should drop its opposition to contraception: Bishop O'Donoghue

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue’sFit For Mission? Church, Being Catholic Today” provides a major commentary on the Catholic church in England and Wales, including in relation to pro-life issues.

It represents a significant response to the call made by Pope John Paul II: “With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses” (Evangelium Vitae, 95)

“Fit For Mission? Church” follows in the style of Bishop O’Donoghue’s “Fit for Mission? Schools” in which he calls on parents, schools and colleges to reject anti-life sex education.

I began reading “Fit For Mission? Church” because I knew it would contain a robust challenge to the culture of death – and I was not disappointed.

On pro-life issues, I would single out the importance of Bishop O’Donoghue’s understanding of the prophetic significance and authority of Humanae Vitae. Indeed, I think it’s important for all believers in God to hear the first thing that Bishop O’Donoghue says about the authority of that document:

“I have heard it expressed many times that the obvious rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraception by many Catholic couples is an apparent expression of the sensus fidelium [what the Catholic faithful sense to be the Catholic faith] and, consequently the Church should drop its opposition to it and adopt a more permissive attitude. This mistaken reasoning forgets three elements essential to the authentic sensus fidelium: Firstly, the sense of the faith must be founded on the Word of God and not secular opinion. Scripture is clear that there is an inseparable bond between sexual love, procreation and God’s creative power and lordship over life…”

Bishop O’Donoghue’s highlights the key point: God’s creative power and lordship over life. And, when this teaching is rejected, mankind and its governments assume arbitrary power over life and death. Whatever a person’s position on Bishop O’Donoghue’s theological perspective (and SPUC includes people of all faiths and none) even those who don’t believe in God can observe the consequences.

Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, so derided by the liberal “intelligentsia”, accurately forecast that once contraception became “regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty” (HV, 17), brute power which would be used by governments to impose birth control policies on their populations. We now have coercive abortion in China and secret abortions for schoolchildren in the UK – and we have legislative proposals, which include coercive and totalitarian elements, in Kenya and in the Philippines.

Moreover, to my own mind it’s quite clear* that countless human lives have been destroyed as a result of the rejection of Humanae Vitae and its teaching on the wrongfulness of the separation of the unitive significance and procreative significance of the conjugal act, not least through birth control and IVF practices, including amongst Catholics (*albeit on the question of the separation of the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the marital act SPUC itself has no policy. The Society is made up of people of all faiths and none and SPUC’s remit is solely concerned with defending the right to life from conception till natural death.)

As Southern Cross Bioethics Institute put it in their commentary on the Philippines Reproductive Health Bill: “A ‘contraceptive’ is abortifacient (literally ‘causing abortion’) when one of its modes of action is to precipitate the destruction of the developing embryo. For example, intrauterine devices prevent the implantation of the embryo in the uterine lining and hence cause its destruction”. This is something which should concern everyone.

And as I mentioned last month on my blog (in a post about “The Tablet’s” ill-informed campaign against Humanae Vitae) IVF – which gave birth to the first IVF child thirty years ago – has led in the UK to over two million embryos discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments. (2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469.)

On a positive note Bishop O’Donoghue observes in his diocese of Lancaster that “the Church has richly developed her doctrine on marital love, seen in Pope John Paul II’s comprehensive theology of the body, the deepening understanding of marriage as a covenant and the Billings Ovulation Method”.

And I love the passion with which the bishop proclaims the truth about human life when he says:

“The advocates and apologists for the culture of death dismissively accuse Catholics of being ‘indoctrinated’ or ‘brain washed’. They are wrong. The one thing we have in common is that we value human life, because we know how much God values every human life. The value of every human life is at the heart of the Gospel, ‘But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us’. (Romans 5:8).

“Every crucifix in church and home proclaims the victory of life over the culture of death. The paschal mystery of Christ, (Eucharist, passion, death and resurrection) are the ultimate expression of the Law of Self Gift:

“At every opportunity proclaim the right to Life – the most fundamental human right that underpins authentic work for justice and peace…“

Pray, Protest and Petition the institutions that promote the culture of death – Parliament, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nurses, Brook Advisory Centres, broadcasters, the tabloids and broadsheets.“

I also ask all parishes to support Catholic organisations, such as Life groups, that provide counselling, advice, support and hospitality to women considering abortions.

“Also consider actively supporting the following groups promoting the Gospel of Life: The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children; Sisters of the Gospel of Life, Life and other pro-life organisations.

Finally, I note Bishop O’Donoghue’s concern, expressed in a note circulated by his secretary that “the section [9.9] on the Bishops' Conference is but a very small part of the document. There are far more important parts … .” I’ve no doubt that’s true and I am looking forward to re-reading and to studying the document in greater depth.

However, what he says about the bishops’ conference is important: “We must keep it clearly in mind that the Bishop is not the manager of his local branch of the Catholic Church, who reports to the board of the national Episcopal Conference…” It’s important because, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the Catholic authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with the government in providing our children and grandchildren with secret abortions in Catholic schools. Bishop O’Donoghue headlines this section of his document “The Need for Confident and Courageous Bishops” and he highlights the following extract from the Catholic church’s teaching in Lumen Gentium: [Bishops] are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice... Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be revered by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth.” (LG 25).

I do not believe that the policy of the Catholic authorities in England and Wales regarding secret abortions in Catholic schools is one which is in tune with teaching “endowed the authority of Christ” or with “teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff”. It’s important to be reminded that individual Catholic bishops in England and Wales are free to reject such a policy – as Bishop O’Donoghue, a confident and courageous bishop, has done. He calls on parishes to “Review the parish’s co-operation with schools to challenge the culture of death among young people” and much else besides.

SPUC Scotland investing in young people

Last Saturday I attended the Scottish Board meeting of SPUC Scotland in their new Glasgow office at 75 Bothwell Street, close to Glasgow Central Station.

SPUC Scotland is committed to building a new pro-life generation. SPUC's contributes towards the joint SPUC/Life Education4Life project which was launched in Scotland - making pro-life presentations in schools on the beginning of life, abortion, assisted conception, post-abortion trauma and many other topics; and Lucy McCully, youth and university officer will be speaking about youth activism at SPUC's conference next week (5th - 7th September, Swanwick Derbyshire).

Other speakers at SPUC's conference include Dr Jerónima Teixeira, a professor and consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, who will speak on foetal sentience; Dr James Sherley, senior scientist, and leader of human adult stem cell research laboratory in the Programs in Cancer and Regenerative Biology, at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, will give a talk entitled: "From abortion to human embryonic stem cell research: a vacation of reason"; and human rights expert, Jakob Cornides, who will be examining the question: "Conscientious objection – is it a right or a duty?" Paul Tully, Antonia Tully and I are speaking on "After the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill – building resistance to abortion and other anti-life practices at local level and in Parliament". Some conference places are still available. You can find out about booking here.

In the picture, above, you can see (L to R): Liz McGachey, Andrew Jackson (partly obscured), Mike Meenan, Jon Galloway, Agnes Girvan (Treasurer), Marysia O'Sullivan (Chairman), James Scanlan, John Paul Cecil and Ian Murray.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Ethicists (sic) propose killing patients for their organs

A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine has argued that it is ethical to remove vital organs from certain patients even if those patients are still alive, thereby causing death. The essential line taken by the paper's authors is that it really doesn’t matter whether the patient is dead or not. Instead what really counts is whether informed consent has been given. A report of the paper came to SPUC's attention via LifeSite. The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) has written, on behalf of SPUC, a commentary on the paper, which can be read here.

Very few people realise that the pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia lobby believes it can be right intentionally to kill innocent human beings, even in cases where little or no dispute exists that the victim is a person. Dr Peter Singer, a bioethics professor at Princeton University, New Jersey, is the world's leading utilitarian. Peter Singer has been quoted as saying: ''I do not think it is always wrong to kill an innocent human being." Now, the vast majority of people, even those who support in some way abortion and/or euthanasia, believe that a born infant is a person and that killing a born infant is one of, if not the, worst of crimes. Yet Peter Singer says: "Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person.''

As SCBI points out, the authors of the NEJM paper on organ removal are also utilitarians, but do not deny that the patients who would be killed under their proposal are persons. This new, further slide down the slippery slope of anti-life thinking is truly disturbing.

Monday 25 August 2008

Classic pro-abortion lies being used to justify legalised abortion in Kenya

Exactly the same arguments, based on lies, are being aired in Kenya to justify legalised abortion as were used in the the UK, the US and other western nations.

According to Kenya's "Daily Nation" last Friday, the federation of women's lawyers (FIDA) which drafted a draconian abortion bill on which I blogged last week have said: “It is not a matter of giving women the permission to decide whether to abort or not, it is about legalising abortion to improve their physical and mental health” and "the Bill will reduce the number of abortion-related deaths occurring in Kenya".

These are classic pro-abortion lies. And pro-life Kenyan MPs must resist the temptation they will be offered to agree to an amended "compromise" version of the extreme Reproductive Health and Rights Bill.

Kenyan politicians and church leaders need look no further than the Republic of Ireland which has a constitutional ban on abortion. It has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world, according to figures published by the World Health Organization in 2007. These figures, for the year 2005, reflect Ireland's position over many years as, arguably, the safest place in the world to have a baby. And they vindicate the statement, in 1992, of Ireland's foremost obstetricans and gynaecologists: “As obstetricians and gynaecologists, we affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother
may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child.” (Letter to Irish Times, 1st April 1992, signed by Professor John Bonnar, Head of the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Trinity College, Dublin; Kieran O’Driscoll, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University College, Dublin; Eamonn O’Dwyer, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University College, Galway; and Julia Vaughan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.)

As I said last month, exactly the same kind of false arguments are being used by British MPs to justify the extension of the British Abortion Act to Northern Ireland - and Northern Ireland has the lowest rate of maternal deaths in the UK - and the BBC appears to be promoting these falsehoods, which are such a favourite of the pro-abortion lobby, in the run-up to a possible vote on this matter in Westminster in October.

I've no doubt that Kenya will be told by politicians that it's important to legalise some abortions in order to stop more extreme measures being put forward. Kenya needs to follow the courageous example of the Irish people who stood firm against legalized abortion in spite of blackmail tactics of politicians.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Help SPUC alert people to the most damaging extension of the Abortion Act for over 40 years

SPUC’s new leaflet is now available explaining the latest amendments to the Abortion Act, due to be considered by MPs in October at the Report Stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (if selected for debate by the Speaker).

October’s parliamentary debate on these amendments could lead to the most damaging extension of the Abortion Act for over 40 years.

Please help us alert people to this threat by ordering a supply of leaflets to give to them. The leaflets are designed for distribution to the general public, so please encourage anyone you can to circulate them widely – and order as many as you - and they - can distribute.

As our leaflet states: pro-abortion MPs want to abolish even the minimal constraints in the Act, like needing a second doctor to authorise an abortion. They want nurses and midwives to perform abortions (which makes it cheaper, but not safer). They want the Abortion Act extended to Northern Ireland against the wishes of the vast majority of people living there. Pro-abortion MPs also want punitive restrictions on pregnancy counsellors who don’t refer women for abortions. If these amendments are passed it is likely to mean more abortions than ever before: more babies will die. Reluctant women will face more pressure than ever to submit to abortions.

To order flyers write to

Saturday 23 August 2008

Kenyan Cabinet Minister opposes abortion bill

Esther Murugi (pictured), a Kenyan Cabinet Minster, has strongly opposed the Reproductive Health Bill that will soon be tabled in Parliament, according to Kenya's "Standard".

The Gender and Children Affairs minister is reported as saying: “If that Bill is passed, we are going to see mayhem in this country. We should educate our children on the importance of abstinence and not to legalise abortion, which is murder”.

I blogged earlier this week on the bill. It contains coercive elements, legalises virtual abortion on demand and leaves virtually no safeguards whatsoever for unborn children.

The Minister complained that the bill borrows from western culture saying that it would ensure the provision of contraceptives to children as young as ten.

Friday 22 August 2008

The second George Orwell Prize: the way pro-life people are portrayed

Readers may recall that I’ve started awarding regular George Orwell Prizes to abortion promoters and/or providers who make the most misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements.

I began my search for a winner this time by taking a little excursion across the Atlantic, to see how American pro-abortionists portray their opponents. Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire makes for interesting reading in the way it misleads women about issues such as post-abortion trauma, particularly since the most important evidence of its reality is women who’ve had abortions themselves.

However, far more damning was what Teenwire had to say about crisis pregnancy centres that offer women alternatives to abortion and which give women the information about the development of the unborn child that abortion facilities don’t tend to be too forthcoming about.

“Women are often lured into CPCs only to find that the staff members usually have no professional training and the environment is filled with inaccurate, anti-choice information.”

It is ironic to see pro-life organisations being accused of inaccuracy by an organisation which claims on its website that the unborn child does not become a baby until birth, but it is the word "lured" that is most insidious, implying criminal activity, manipulation and entirely sinister motives. It goes on:

“It's common for CPCs to use misleading films, ultrasound pictures, and written materials to scare and emotionally manipulate women into continuing their pregnancies. By presenting women with false information about abortion and the development of the fetus, CPCs threaten women's abilities to make informed choices.”

The sight of a tiny baby on an ultrasound scan does indeed have a tendency to make a big emotional impression on a woman but the pro-life movement did not create the reality of an unborn child’s humanity in order to irritate the abortion lobby. The facts speak for themselves.

Back in Britain, the Family Planning Association (FPA) very nearly scooped this issue’s Orwell Prize for its blatant attempts at manipulating young people in its ‘Abortion: Just so you know’ cartoon leaflet. Needless to say, abortion is portrayed as an entirely sensible and morally acceptable option and backstreet abortion is used as the major reason why abortion should be legal, even though this argument has long been shown to have no foundation. In the FPA leaflet, people who oppose abortion are portrayed as uniformly male, spouting quasi-religious clichés. Pro-life doctors who courageously refuse to involve themselves with abortion are depicted as heartless. “Most NHS doctors are sympathetic to women considering abortion” but, we are informed, “doctors who oppose abortion can refuse to help.” The fact that an increasing number of doctors do not regard themselves as "helping" anyone by signing an abortion form is not mentioned. Incidentally, the Brook Advisory Service uses the same emotive approach to doctors who object to abortion:

“Doctors who have a moral objection to abortion should make this clear to any patient who asks them for help. They should also arrange for them to see someone else who would be prepared to help.”

But once again, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) pips the others to the post… well, almost. Ann Furedi (pictured), the chief executive of BPAS, wins the Orwell Prize in a personal capacity, for a hysterical and insulting outburst against the ProLife Alliance in 2001 which remains unrivalled in spite of the best attempts by other pro-abortion fundamentalists to stoop a little lower. According to Furedi, prolifers are "vile scum", not to mention "dishonest, manipulative, irrational, ignorant fanatics who patronise women." When questioned about the article she wrote for Spiked online magazine, she told the BBC that she stood by "every word" and thought she had been "quite moderate". Oh well, why engage in rational debate when you can just spit poison at your opponents?

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell

Thursday 21 August 2008

Eugenics and coercion in Kenyan abortion bill

In a recent blog I reported on the draft Reproductive Health and Rights bill in Kenya, denounced by John Cardinal Njue as "an affront… to the integrity of the human being" as well as a socio-economic threat to Kenya’s future; and on Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki saying “he saw no reason, now, or in the future, why anyone would want to legalize abortion in Kenya”.

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) has prepared on SPUC's behalf a commentary on the new bill which you can find here.

The bill, if passed, will promote and allow easy access to abortion on demand, with virtually no safeguards to protect unborn children.

Under the subtle guise of "reproductive rights" language, the bill declares "safe and accessible abortion-related care" as a reproductive right. Abortion can be permitted provided that “the continued pregnancy would pose a risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health”. This will, in effect, allow abortions on demand. Notably, this clause avoids using the term "substantial risk" (common to abortion legislation) and consequently may be used as grounds for abortion in any circumstance, given that all pregnancies carry at least a minor risk of harm.

The bill goes on to list specific circumstances where an abortion is easily available, discriminating against unborn children conceived in specific circumstances. These include:
  • those conceived through sexual violence or incest (a statement from the mother alone will be taken as proof of sexual assault);
  • those at risk of "severe physical or mental abnormality" (thus deepening worldwide lethal prejudice against the disabled whom the state has a special duty to protect);
  • those facing "extreme social deprivation" (a term which is not defined, which could be interpreted very broadly within Kenya and which will increase eugenic discrimination against those living and attempting to raise children in poverty);
  • those resulting from contraceptive failure (which deems unborn human life disposable and discards any notion of individual responsibility for sexual behaviour. It is utterly implausible that the courts could or would determine whether contraception had actually been used in a specific instance.)
Access to abortion would also be made easily available to minors without any legal requirement of parental knowledge or consent. This would be a clear abuse of power by the state, overriding parental rights despite their primary responsibility and input into the child’s welfare.

Further evidence of potential state abuse can be seen in a clause permitting abortion for “mentally disordered” persons. Such women would lack the capacity to consent and, while consultation with the woman’s guardian is required, the bill leaves open the dangerous possibility that the state may be able to enforce an abortion without the consent of the mother or her family.

The bill, if passed, will comprehensively undermine the sanctity of human life from conception, as well as neglect the interests of those in Kenya who seek to uphold the value and dignity of human life. Like the reproductive health bill in the Philippines, the bill aims to prevent true conscientious objection among health care service providers, by ensuring that those who object are legally required immediately to refer a patient to another practitioner who will provide an abortion. Conscientious objectors will thus be forced to be complicit with the unethical practice of others.

The draft bill, like in the Philippines, has worryingly totalitarian overtones that will deny freedom of conscience to those who oppose its obviously pro-abortion agenda.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Prayer and fasting initiative begins today

Earlier this month I blogged about an initiative launched in Northern Ireland - praying and fasting for 40 days to protect Northern Ireland from the British Abortion Act. The proposed period for this intiative is from today and it finishes on 4th October (excluding Sundays).

It was Liam Gibson’s idea (SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer) and he wrote a paper on the biblical background to the project making a number of practical suggestions about both fasting and praying.

For example, he points out that fasting can include: Abstaining from certain foods, such as meat or a favourite food; Going without milk or sugar in tea and coffee, or giving up tea or coffee themselves; Fasting from all food and drink (except water) for a 24 hour period (This may be more demanding but is not difficult for anyone in good health, providing it does not conflict with work or family commitments); Going without television etc

And Liam has many simple, practical suggestions about prayer in the above paper.

I'm a campaigner but I also believe in prayer. I believe that the dangers of the evils proposed in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - and now the terrible threat posed by extreme pro-abortion amendments at report stage in October - are so great, all believers should be begging God to spare both Northern Ireland and Britain. Let those who believe like me that there are certain evils which are so great they can only be overcome by fasting and prayer consider joining in this initiative in a way that is appropriate and achievable in the light of our work and family commitments.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

The Times and blatant bias on life issues

The Times was once regarded as the UK's newspaper of record, a serious publication with high standards of journalism ... but those standards, in recent years, have slipped .

As a daily reader I could give many examples, but the newspaper's blatant bias on life issues is one of the most flagrant.

Yesterday, a full-page, public-opinion-forming, spread of reportage and commentary, headlined "Abortion does not harm mental health, says study" presented an American Psychological Association review as significant, authoritative research into the effects of abortion. The fact that this study has been shown (see my post yesterday), on the basis of good evidence, to be fundamentally flawed, is completely ignored. To add insult to injury, Nigel Hawkes writes dismissively in a short commentary piece : "Anti-abortionists would like us to believe that women who have abortions suffer lifelong regrets ... The bulk of the best available evidence suggests that a single abortion does not carry psychological hazards greater than does a single pregnancy ... " - again completely ignoring evidence to the contrary.

The Times report makes great play of the fact that there are impending votes in Parliament on abortion and that the American Psychological Association review [and their spin on it!] will influence "uncommitted" MPs.

Pro-life lobbyists and readers of this blog may recall that there was a similar situation back in June . Evan Harris MP had tabled extremely damaging amendments to the Abortion Act via the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - to de-restrict abortions up to 24 weeks, and to empower midwives and nurses to perform abortion. Everyone expected the debate on these amendments to take place in July - until the government suddenly postponed the report stage of the Bill.

Lo and behold: The Times, on Friday, 20th June and Saturday, 21st June, carried no less than six stories on abortion, all of them clearly presenting a pro-abortion position with little or no comment from anyone who disagreed.

They included 'Rise in teen abortions prompts calls for reform of sex education' a story about the latest abortion statistics which completely ignored evidence that the government's style of sex education has completely failed, as Professor David Paton has shown.

Then there was "The ones I worry about are those who have the baby", featuring an interview with abortionist John Parsons, a director of BPAS. Not only does the story present abortion as an inviolable moral right which has no consequences worth mentioning, but Mr Parsons says, completely unchallenged: "It is not in the interests of any child to have a 16-year-old mother." (This is another way of saying that it is better to be dead than have a teenage mother, something which feminist author Germaine Greer, amongst many others, disagree with.)

Another article called secret abortions 'common sense'.

Then there was a particularly callous article from Caitlin Moran who showed no concern for the future mental health of the mother, let alone the unborn child. Whilst acknowledging that abortion causes problems that are, "emotional, social and [a] risk to future reproductive health", she says this "has an impact solely on the women having these abortions". What kind of editorial policy at The Times allows this kind of assertion to go unchallenged when there is so much important research to the contrary?

For my part, I acknowledge that in today's Times there's a sincere piece by their columnist Melanie McDonagh who makes a plea for women to be told that their baby is human and about the risks of abortion to their mental health. But, sadly, her column has far less impact than yesterday's full-page news reportage - because of its relative size, its positioning on a page headlined "Opinion", compared with yesterday's story which is written by the newspaper's science editor, and finally, because Melanie McDonagh suggests that objective research on the effects of abortion does not exist - which is saying to Times readers ... "This is my opinion - pure and simple - but it's by no means authoritative" - which is definitely not the message sent to the readers by the writers of yesterday's report on the American Psychological Association's review.

Monday 18 August 2008

Mental health risk of abortion wrongly denied

A member of the American Psychological Association has criticised that organisation's survey of the effects of abortion on women's mental health, saying it is politically motivated and bad science. The project concluded that early abortion did not increase the likelihood of significant mental problems.

Dr Rachel M MacNair, research director for Consistent Life, Missouri, and an official reviewer of the report, points out that the task force's conclusion was based on a single British study. Furthermore, that research actually found a higher incidence of drug overdose among women who had had abortions.

Dr MacNair writes: "'[S]cience' means what the [association] says it means, rather than what those of us trained in a university might have been taught. … [C]iting only one study in support of a politically-desired conclusion cannot be explained in any other way than a politically-motivated exercise."

Dr MacNair and Consistent Life wrote to leading association members expressing concern, as did others. She was also allowed briefly to address a meeting of the association's council earlier this month, voicing her concerns about the flimsy basis for the report's conclusion. She received no response then or since.

She makes the point that, if the association can base its view on a single study, it would only take another solitary piece of research to reverse it. She says, however: "[T]hat would be [making] the assumption that [the association] was actually interested in keeping up with real science, an assumption for which at this point I have no evidence."

During the review process, at least some of Dr MacNair's input on some matters was omitted. Professor David Fergusson of Otago University, New Zealand, who was also a reviewer of the report, agreed with Dr MacNair about the poor quality of science. He reportedly calls himself an "atheist pro-choicer". Dr Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, Ohio, also broadly concurred about the poor science.

Dr MacNair says there was no general call for nominations to the task force. Instead, the division responsible for women's psychology simply had their choices for membership approved by the council. By the time Dr MacNair was aware of who was in the group, it was too late for nominations.

Consistent Life wrote to the council pointing out that three members of the task force were outspoken defenders of abortion while the other three had made no statements of positions. There was no reply received from any members of the council.

What Dr MacNair described as a "grotesque caricature of pro-lifers" was removed at draft stage.

Sunday 17 August 2008

The pro-life movement needs a clear direction

How can we move forward in the pro-life movement? This is a key question. A clear direction is needed and we must make the very best use of our resources – that is, pro-life people.

Two specific areas on which SPUC is focusing are schools and hospitals. In schools, every time parents voice their concern to schools authorities about explicit sex education and sexual health clinics on the schools premises they are resisting government policy. Every teacher, who refuses to participate in anti-life lessons, is striking a blow against the government.

In hospitals, every time a friend or relative questions doctors carefully about the treatment of a loved one, they are challenging the culture of euthanasia.

SPUC has developed two campaigns to push forward the resistance movement on which I’ve blogged in the last couple of days. Safe at School supports and advises a parents and teachers. Patients First Network supports and advises those trying to defend a loved one at risk from euthanasia.

SPUC’s biggest resource in this great undertaking is pro-life people. Will you order two or three copies of our new Safe at School leaflet and of our new Patients First Network leaflet. You will know someone you can give these to and help spread the resistance movement. We also need you to organise a group – no matter how large or small - to whom we can come and talk about these campaigns.

Next month I’m speaking about building a pro-life resistance movement and about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in Uxbridge (1st September), Newport (10th September), Leyland (15th September), Bedford (17th September), and Rotherham (24th September).

And at the SPUC national conference in Derbyshire from 5th – 7th (Friday to Sunday) next month, building the pro-life resistance movement will be a major theme. You can find a booking-form here.

To order leaflets contact and for help in organising a local meeting telephone Tony Mullett on 01772 258580

Saturday 16 August 2008

SPUC's Safe at School campaign

A new leaflet has been developed to encourage parents to get to grips with what is happening in their children's schools. This is part of our campaign to raise awareness about what is happening in schools and to identify those people who will take action and start working for change within their own child's school.
Please order copies to hand to mothers and fathers whom you know - either in your locality or to send to friends and acquaintances further afield.

Parents need to check on what is happening in their children's schools. The leaflet lists 17 questions to put to the school authorities - and provides a helpline on the issues the leaflet raises. Questions include: "Are you aware of your child filling out questionnaires at school with leading questions on their knowledge of sexual matters and local availability of the morning-after pill?...Are you aware of websites advertising abortion facilitate and confidential advice which may be promoted at your child’s school often on plastic cards which may also offer help on careers advice?...Are you aware that school governors have to consult with parents over sex education and that they have the power to veto anything they feel is detrimental to the child?..."

The Safe at School campaign, run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, is raising awareness about the ways in which children and young people at school are exposed to anti-life classroom materials and agencies through which they can get abortion referrals, abortion-inducing contraception and the morning-after pill. This includes faith schools (including Catholic schools).

Order the leaflets you need from

Friday 15 August 2008

SPUC's frontline resistance to euthanasia - at the bedside of vulnerable people

Please order copies of this leaflet to give to everyone you know.

Euthanasia threatens us all - anyone could be at risk through an accident, illness or old age. The leaflet has been specially designed for people to carry with them or keep in their homes for reference.

The confidential telephone support service is available to everyone. This is our frontline resistance to euthanasia - at the bedside of vulnerable people.

The front of the leaflet (pictured) reads: "Worried about the way a friend or relative is being treated in hospital? Supported about the way you may be treated at the end of your life? For advice and support call Patients First Network on 0800 169 1719. Euthanasia by neglect is a painful, distressing way to die. Don’t let it happen to you or someone you love."

Order copies of the leaflet from SPUC. Email

Thursday 14 August 2008

Interviewing prospective parliamentary candidates on abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

As well as lobbying sitting MPs to oppose the pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, we urge people to contact prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) in their constituencies to find out how they would vote on the amendments proposed.

We don’t normally ask people to contact their PPCs until an election is approaching but this is a good way of increasing the “political temperature” on the abortion amendments. We have the opportunity to do this because many local constituency parties selected their prospective candidates last year, in the expectation of an election last October. This means we have the opportunity to approach those prospective candidates now and ask how they would vote if elected.

Bear in mind that unless your MP has announced that he/she is stepping down at the next election, only the parties “in opposition” in your constituency will have appointed a PPC.

You can Google for the party headquarters – which vary in their efficiency in providing details of prospective parliamentary candidates; or just look up the local party headquarters in your phone book.

A list of questions to put to your local candidate/s is available from SPUC here. The SPUC website has a page about this campaign here.

Contact Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s political secretary, for advice if you need it. Please let us have information on the responses you receive. Write to

Abortion amendments threat - briefing

Pro-abortion MPs have tabled a raft of amendments aimed at widening the Abortion Act. With abortions climbing to over 200,000 in recent years. These amendments aim to ensure that abortions can be done:
  • by less qualified operators
  • with less medical oversight
  • in less well-equipped premises
  • on poorly informed women
  • for no medical or psychological benefit.
There are also amendments that weaken the conscience clause, and seek to criminalise pro-life counsellors if women claim their advertisements suggest that they can tell them where to get an abortion.

We are asking people to write to their MPs asking them if they will oppose any such amendments that are debated in the HFE bill report stage. People should also contact the Prime Minister pointing out that, as these amendments would be attachments to a government bill, he will be held accountable for the harm to women and deaths of babies that they would lead to.

A summary briefing on these abortion amendments is available here.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

David Cameron confirms he backs discrimination against unborn disabled babies (and Brown voted for it in 1990)

David Cameron confirmed this evening that he would not vote to reverse current discrimination against unborn disabled babies who can be aborted right up to birth since the law was changed by Parliament in 1990. Mr Cameron made a similar commitment in a Daily Mail interview earlier this year on which I blogged at the time.

I heard this news from Rachel and Bill Peck who attended a "Cameron Direct" Question and Answer Session this evening in Barrow-in-Furness. Rachel asked David Cameron. the Conservative leader, the following question: "In 1990 when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act discriminated against the disabled by allowing disabled babies for the very first time to be aborted right up to full term. My question is: If in power would you favour measures to reverse this discrimination by giving unborn children who are disabled the same protection under the law as currently enjoyed by all other children?"

David Cameron answered: "A short answer first then a longer one. My personal view about that is no. I think abortion votes, and votes on embryology, and votes on all of those things should be free votes. They are matters of conscience and on the last embryology bill we’ve just had I pushed very hard (if you remember, the Prime Minister wanted to have whipped votes like they had whipped votes in the House of Lords) and I said this is wrong; this is a conscience issue; this is one where MP’s have got to examine their consciences, listen to their constituents, and explain their positions and it should always be a free vote. So it should always be a free vote. My own view is yes, I think that we should change the abortion limit down from 24 towards 20 weeks; I voted that way and I think it would be right to do that. But in the case of parents who have medical evidence that they may have a very disabled child, I would not want to change that. And I speak as someone, I mean, I’ve got a six year old boy who is severely disabled has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic and he’s a sweet boy, he’s a lovely boy Ivan, and, you know, it is though incredibly tough bringing up disabled children and I don’t want to kind of put myself in the position of saying to other parents you’ve got to go ahead and have that child or you can’t have an abortion or you can do this or you can’t do that. Personally Ivan, he’s brought incredible things to my life but it is an enormous challenge and I don’t think it’s right to sort of tell other parents if you hear that you’ve got a very disabled child on the way, that actually doing something about it isn’t an option. That’s my view.”

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, of course, voted three times for this discriminatory legislation in 1990. David Cameron was first elected to Parliament in June 2001.

Praying and fasting to protect Northern Ireland from the British Abortion Act

SPUC is not a religious organization but many of our supporters are religious.

One of them, Liam Gibson, is SPUC’s development officer in Northern Ireland. He has published and distributed widely in Northern Ireland a paper entitled “Prayer and Fasting to prevent the extension of the Abortion Act [to Northern Ireland]” which calls for a 40-day fast from Wednesday, 20th August, until Saturday, 4th October (excluding Sundays).

In his paper he points out biblical examples of prayer and fasting and to Jewish tradition which “associates fasting with mourning for terrible events; wars, disasters, the destruction of the Temple, the Holocaust, or the death of loved ones”.

On a personal note, I think it is entirely appropriate for a UK-based human rights organization, like SPUC, to promote prayer in defence of human life and in the face of the potential catastrophe of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill completing its passage through Parliament. After all, both Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom begin their proceedings every day with prayer.

Moreover, on 6th June, 1944, at a time of national peril, King George VI called his people “to prayer and dedication” for the D-day allied forces landing in Normandy.

This is a time of national peril. MPs are proposing to impose the 1967 Abortion Act on Northern Ireland and to extend enormously the killing of unborn children under that law through various amendments at report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in early October.

You may like to look at Liam’s paper and to consider joining in some modest way in the 40 days of prayer and fasting.

You may also like to join in a world day of prayer and fasting tomorrow, on which I have previously blogged.

Tuesday 12 August 2008

International media, ignorance and the morning-after pill

Reuters in New York reported yesterday that “Urban-living minority girls appear to lack general knowledge about emergency contraceptive pills” but evidently those girls aren’t the only ones who lack knowledge!

The Reuters report goes on to say “Morning-after pills … consist of hormones that prevent a pregnancy from occurring” but Reuters is telling only part of the truth. The morning-after pill manufacturers say that they can prevent or delay ovulation which prevents conception. However, the makers also concede that these drugs can affect the lining of the womb so that embryos can't implant. This may be a death sentence for young human lives.

Seven years ago, SPUC took a case to the High Court to defend these lives.

In December 2000, UK drug licensing law was amended to allow morning-after pills to be sold without prescription in pharmacies. The following year and in 2002, we in SPUC went to the English high court to try to stop it. Our case was based on section 58 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which prohibits the use of means with intent to procure miscarriage.

Mr Justice Munby held that the act wasn't contravened by the administration of morning-after pills with intent to prevent the implantation in the uterus of any embryo conceived as a result of sexual intercourse. Mr Munby decided that a mother is not pregnant until the embryo implants in her womb. Although an embryonic child is present before implantation, the judge said, the mother is not legally pregnant.

Justice Munby’s decision has been strongly challenged in the academic press and elsewhere. In a careful analysis of the evidence considered by Justice Munby, Drs Fleming, Neville and Pike concluded that the substantial majority of dictionaries uphold the proposition:
  • that conception is to be equated with fertilisation
  • and that a woman is pregnant from fertilisation/conception onwards
  • and that miscarriage, being synonymous with abortion, refers to loss of the preimplantation embryo, potentially caused by the morning after pill.

Professor John Keown of Georgetown University, Washington, DC, also found that the Justice Munby’s judgment was deeply unsatisfactory. Writing in the 27 April 2007 edition of Legal Studies, Dr Keown, Rose F Kennedy professor of Christian ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, questioned the judgment made by High Court Justice Munby that preventing the implantation of an embryo in the uterus by administration of the ‘morning after pill’, does not constitute the procurement of a ‘miscarriage’. Dr Keown’s paper provides an excellent analysis of the relevant legal precedents, expert evidence, and legislative intentions. More importantly, it critiques Munby’s weighing of this evidence and shows how the judgment is ultimately unjustified. Details of how to obtain Dr Keown’s article can be found here.

Whatever the legal judgements upholding the political status quo on the morning-after pill, urban-living minority girls in the US and women and men everywhere are entitled to the full truth about the abortifacient nature of the morning-after pill.

The Reuters New York piece was about research by Dr Cynthia J Mollen of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and colleagues, is reported on in this month's Paediatrics. There are serious questions to be asked about this research. I intend to return to it in a future post.

Monday 11 August 2008

Media blackout as Kenyan Head of State rules out legalised abortion

A statement last weekend by President Mwai Kibaki ruling out legalized abortion was virtually ignored by the Kenyan media. He was speaking at the installation of a new bishop in eastern Nigeria.

I heard this news over the phone today from Dr Stephen Karanja, a retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and former secretary of the Kenya Medical Association. He told me: “Last Saturday, 9th August, Bishop Anthony Muheria, was installed as the Bishop of Kitui, in eastern Kenya, in a ceremony at the Kitui High School grounds.

“The installation was graced by the presence of Mwai Kibaki, the President of Kenya, two ministers, and at least five members of the Kenyan Parliament.

“During the inauguration, His Eminence John Cardinal Njue addressed all men and women of goodwill about the position of the church on the draft Reproductive Health and Rights Bill. This bill was publicly launched last month but has not yet been introduced to the Kenyan Parliament.

“The Cardinal said that the Bill was unacceptable. It was an affront to humanity of everybody and, especially, to the integrity of the human being.

“Cardinal Njue said that a country [is going mad] if it starts killing its youth – because in children the country has the seed for its future. He said that if any government, including President Kibaki’s government, were to enact such a law, they would be acting against the people of Kenya.

“Mwai Kibaki, the President of Kenya, responded to the Cardinal’s comments. He said he saw no reason, now, or in the future, why anyone would want to legalize abortion in Kenya.”

Mutula Kilonzo, Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development, also spoke the draft Bill, saying that, if it reached Parliament, he would marshal the parliamentary forces to shoot the bill down.

The installation ceremony was conducted by the papal nuncio, Bishop Allan Paul Lebeaupin.

Earlier last week, Cardinal Njue said of those promoting the draft Reproductive Health and Rights Bill, that they are “slaves of foreign ideologies and policies that are devoid of Christianity.” He said that life begins after conception and was sacred and “so nobody has authority to terminate it” and called on Christian parliamentarians to reject the proposed draft bill.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Naprotechnology: a natural and realistic alternative to IVF

The 25th of last month was the 40th Anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. According to the Catholic Church (see, for example, Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae) the sanctity of human life from its natural beginning to its natural end is central to the gospel message. From this knowledge stems the understanding, set out in Humanae Vitae, that to separate the nuptial act from its procreative potential is profoundly wrong, leading to disastrous adverse consequences for individuals, especially young people, for married couples, especially in men's attitude to women, and for society generally.* (See Note below)

For the best part of the last forty years, one of the world's leading health professionals who has dedicated his career and life to bringing this teaching of the Catholic Church to the practice of medicine is an American obsetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Thomas Hilgers who was inspired by Humanae Vitae as a young medical student.

With a team of nursing staff in St Louis, Missouri he pioneered the Creighton Model System of natural fertility appreciation (FertilityCare), which in turn has given birth to Natural Procreative Technology (or Napro). Now running the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska, and operating at the Creighton University School of Medicine, Dr Hilgers continues to explore the and develop this fascinating and growing arm of medicine.

On 9 -14 June 2008 in Rome, over 200 FertilityCare Practitioners and NaProTechnology physicians and gynaecologists gathered for the annual meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Practitioners. SPUC was represented there by Dr Lisa McCready, from whose report I now quote:

"Usually held in the States, Rome was chosen for this gathering because of the anniversary, but also to facilitate attendance by a growing number of trained or interested healthcare professionals from Europe. The conference addressed all aspects of NaProTechnology ranging from surgical restorative techniques to treat endometriosis, (a common cause of infertility) to discussion of the secularization of bioethics.

"NaPro is the medical extension of the Creighton model fertilitycare system, a natural fertility awareness program has been running in the USA for almost forty years. The medical applications of NaPro have grown during that time to become a comprehensive branch of women’s health medicine, which respects both the natural fertility cycle and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Working cooperatively with the woman’s body, NaPro has been shown to treat many gynaecological conditions including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, miscarriage and other causes of infertility.

"Presentations at the conference included case reports of the successful use of NaPro for a wide range of conditions. This included very significant data from Dr Phil Boyle’s clinic in Ireland, showing his success in achieving pregnancies in women who have had previously unsuccessful attempts at IVF, some of them multiple. Statistics from the USA suggest that in treating infertility, NaPro has between a 40-60% success rate in achieving pregnancy. This compares to a maximum success rate of 30% for IVF (UK average raw data “take-home-baby” rate).

"There is a profound depth to the ethos of NaPro, which somehow reveals the truth of human life and the fertility cycle. It is natural, holistic and at the same time sacred...

"Bringing NaProTechnology to the UK is and will be an uphill struggle, but one that will be worth fighting... The desire to give life and the compassion that causes people to seek and work in the IVF industry are forces for good that have become twisted. We are inadvertently allowing the destruction of thousands of embryos to give life to a few, and this is morally ignorant at best, and utilitarian at worst. NaProTechnology has the potential in this country to provide a realistic and successful alternative to most couples struggling to conceive, and this is precisely where the battle must be fought."

*Note: "Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife." (Humanae Vitae, 17)

The history of the last 40 years has demonstrated the prophetic nature of the encyclical, not least the imposition on famlies by governments of birth control policies. In the UK, for example, even the Catholic authorities are co-operating with the government to provide Catholic schoolchildren secret access to abortion and contraception; and the UK government is one of 180 governments worldwide which are funding UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, which participates in China's forced abortion one-child policy. And the catastrophic decline in respect for human life which these policies involve is also reflected in IVF practice. As I blogged last month, IVF – which gave birth to the first IVF child thirty years ago – has led to over two million embryos discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments. (2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469.)