Sunday 30 November 2008

Britain's "apartheid" is still reflected in the killing of Down's syndrome babies

There has recently been a lot of press coverage rejoicing over the supposed fact that more babies with Down's syndrome are being born now than at any time since widespread pre-natal testing began in 1989. The claim made is that the trend towards aborting increasing number of babies with the syndrome has now been reversed. The articles in various national newspapers have suggested that this is because British society's increasing acceptance of allowing such babies to be born.

While this sounds like very good news, it has to be tempered with a very large dose of caution.

Just over two years ago, the Down's Syndrome Association pointed out that 62 per cent of all Down's syndrome cases are diagnosed while still in the womb and 92 per cent these babies are aborted.

And Rosa Monckton, who (with her husband Dominic Lawson) has a daughter Domenica, aged 13, who has Down's syndrome (both pictured above) sounded a cautionary note in her article in the Daily Mail (26th November 2008). She says: "These are the figures: in 1989 there were 717 babies born with Down's syndrome, and in 2006 there were 749. This does not seem to be to be such a huge sea change ... "

Whilst well over half of babies with Down's Syndrome are sought out before birth, and then the vast majority of those are killed, British attitudes towards the disabled, including the parents and families of the disabled, born and unborn, arguably remain as enlightened as those towards the majority population in South Africa under apartheid.

Friday 28 November 2008

Sick abortion group demeans Christmas to promote more child killing

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), one of Britain's main abortion promoters and providers, will be supplying morning-after pills free of charge this Christmas and sending women a Christmas pack containing the morning-after pill, condoms and leaflets. BPAS is promoting its campaign with sexually suggestive advertising which demeans Christmas and women. It is a despicable ploy which threatens unborn children, promotes promiscuity, undermines public health and insults the child-centred meaning of Christmas. The offensive sexual innuendo linked to Santa Claus is evidence of BPAS's morally bankrupt status.

A pattern has emerged of hard-core pro-abortion groups and associated companies insulting religious and other sensitivities and thereby generating extra publicity for their child-killing, women-abusing businesses. Planned Parenthood of Indiana, United States, are also running a Christmas campaign, selling gift cards and promoting them with the message: "Why not buy a loved one a gift this holiday season that they really need?" - a reference to abortion and birth control drugs and devices. In 2004 Schering, the manufacturers of the Levonelle brand of morning-after pills, ran a pre-Christmas campaign in 2004 entitled "Immaculate Contraception", which it withdrew following pressure from SPUC supporters and others.

The offensive nature of these messages reflect the offensive nature of abortion. In contrast, pictured is a real meaning of Christmas, positive and loving; centred on a child (Jesus), his mother (Mary), their family (represented here by St John the Baptist, who leapt for joy in his mother's womb at the presence of his relative the embryonic child Jesus) and their friends (represented here by St Nicholas, the real Santa Claus).

Thursday 27 November 2008

A more hopeful vision for Ireland

Here is the second part of Anthony Ozimic's (SPUC's political secretary) report from Ireland:

"Following Monday night's debate at University College Cork, UCC Students for Life organised a meeting, hosted by Kathy Sinnott MEP. The meeting was introduced by Jacinta Daly (pictured left), who reminded the audience that unethical embryo research is restricted not only in Ireland, but also in other countries e.g. Germany. The speakers were introduced by Mary O'Regan (pictured right), who said the issue of abortion touched her even as a seven-year-old during the 1992 Irish abortion referendum.

"William Reville (pictured), associate professor of biochemistry at UCC, explained in-depth the science and the ethics of stem cell research. He pointed out how arbitrary it is to conclude that humanity only starts at some point later than conception. He also said that history of medical research suggests embryonic stem cell research may never work even after many decades and trillions of dollars are spent on it. The newly-discovered ethical alternative technology of induced pluripotent stem cells is far more promising and is already being enhanced.

"I described (pictured) the universal calling to be pro-life as positive, inclusive and in harmony with today's concerns for a better future based on human rights. (I had also spoken to students on Sunday night in Hull, northern England, where I shared the same vision from within a Catholic theological perspective.) I also encouraged the audience to sign and/or promote the scientists' and physicians' declaration promoted by Amnesty for Babies.

"Kathy Sinnott MEP (pictured) started by referring to her own miscarriage in earlier life, and that women naturally know their early or unimplanted embryos to be babies. She explained how destructive embryo research has little to do with embryology but a lot to do with vested commercial and academic interests, and gave advice on how pro-lifers could oppose UCC's decision to allow embryonic stem cell research.

"In conclusion, Tuesday's meeting presented a far more hopeful vision for Ireland than the one offered by Baroness Warnock during Monday night's debate."

Warnock tells the Irish - Destructive research on human embryos a moral duty

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, sends the following report from Ireland:

"On Monday night University College Cork (UCC) Philosophical Society held a debate on the motion "That this House supports UCC's decision to use embryonic stem cell research." The catalyst for the motion was the decision by UCC to conduct embryonic stem cell research using surplus IVF embryos. Among others, the society had invited Baroness (Mary) Warnock to speak. Prior to the debate, the projection screen (pictured) advertised a forthcoming debate about the 1916 Easter Rising, subtitled: "Wanted: for crimes against the Irish State", which I felt neatly summed what many Irish feel about the influence of British and other foreign anti-lifers in Ireland!

Baroness Warnock (pictured) said that:
  • there is an “absolute moral obligation” to conduct embryonic stem cell research, and a scientist who chose not to conduct it would be "failing in their moral duty". I think we can see in this claim a clear threat to conscientious objection.
  • UCC's decision to allow embryonic stem cell research is means Ireland is "at the beginning”. Of the slippery slope?
  • there was “no precise moment” at which a human embryo becomes a human. This is a really pathetic argument, so amateur that it would be laughed at in any other field.
  • human-animal hybrid embryos are not hybrid animals because they won’t be implanted and therefore won't develop into animals. Her claim mirrors the bizarre idea that only a human being which is viable (i.e. likely to live) constitutes human life, and therefore non-viable human beings are only potential life. This idea would justify the killing of the terminally-ill, which Baroness Warnock is notorious for promoting also.
  • embryonic stem cells are better than adult stem cells because they are able to turn into all 200 tissue-types of the human body. Such totipotency, however, is in fact a disadvantage, because it makes embryonic stem cells uncontrollable.
Also speaking in the favour of the motion was Dr Tom Moore (pictured), the scientist who is conducting embryonic stem cell research at UCC. Among other things, Dr Moore said:
  • everyone is agreed that all forms of stem cells hold enormous potential. This is a completely misleading claim, as years of human embryonic stem cell research have failed to benefit even one patient, and this absence of results may well be because it has no intrinsic potential. In fact, Dr Moore contradicted himself later when he admitted that embryonic stem cells were too dangerous to use in therapy and could only be used as a research model.
  • there is no reason why Ireland should not allow embryonic stem cell research using surplus IVF embryos, because Ireland already allows IVF and the morning-after pill (which Dr Moore pointed out was abortifacient), as well as allowing the use of cells from foetuses aborted overseas. In fact, he said that destructive experimentation upon embryos is an inevitable part of IVF.
  • the knowledge of how to reprogramme adult cells was gained, and could only have been gained, through embryonic stem cell research. What Dr Moore didn't tell the audience was that this knowledge was gained not through using human embryos but mouse embryos. In any case, as Dr James Sherley has pointed out, embryonic stem cells are not only unnecessary but not helpful for learning about adult cell reprogramming.
Dr Donal O Mathuna (pictured right), Professor Tommy McCarthy (pictured below), and others in the floor debate later, spoke valiantly in defence of embryonic children. They highlighted how anti-life bioethicists have manipulated public consultation in Ireland in order to bolster and promote the failed science of destructive embryo research. Sadly the motion was carried by about two to one."

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Family Planning Association does Government's and Connexions' dirty work

The Daily Telegraph reports today that schoolgirls as young as 14 could be forced to watch a film that teaches them they have the right to choose an abortion.

This is worrying because a review of FPA's educational material on abortion shows it to be an insult to women, particularly to women who have had an abortion.

I will get hold of a copy of the FPA's film as soon as I can and let readers know whether there's been any improvement.

However, in teaching children under the age of 16 about how to access abortion, the FPA is doing the work of the government. In its "Best Practice Guidance for doctors and other health professionals on the provision of advice and treatment to young people under 16 on contraception, sexual and reproductive health", the Department of Health says:

"Doctors and health professionals have a duty of care and a duty of confidentiality to all patients, including under 16s. This guidance applies to the provision of advice and treatment on contraception, sexual and reproductive health, including abortion ... The benefits of informing their GP and the case for discussion with a parent or carer. Any refusal should be respected. In the case of abortion, where the young woman is competent to consent but cannot be persuaded to involve a parent, every effort should be made to help them find another adult to provide support, for example another family member or specialist youth worker."

This is exactly the message that Connexions advisers are trained* to deliver in our nation's secondary schools.
*Young People and Sexual Health, A Reader for those participating in the Connexions training programme. Let me know if you want a copy. Contact me at

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Bishop prepared to sacrifice his life to end abortion

Bishop Robert Hermann of St Louis, Missouri, drew applause from his brother-bishops when he stated at a recent meeting: “I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion."

Explaining his comments to a journalist afterwards, he added: “Very simply: If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it meant putting an end to abortion.

"And if we're willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people."

I applaud this courageous stand - spoken like a true man of God and expressed in terms which merit careful attention. We should all be prepared to lay down our lives for the sake of the most innocent rather than do deals which hand over the innocent for destruction.

Monday 24 November 2008

"I drove my daughter to the abortion clinic like a lamb to the slaughterhouse ... "

Here's a story in the press which, for once, tells the unvarnished truth about abortion - and, in particular, about abortion on a girl of 12. Let's get this story to every school in Britain in the light of the government's abortion policy for the under-16s which is likely to stepped up in the months ahead.

It begins:

"TEARS FLOWED freely in Gordon House yesterday during a gripping presentation by a foreigner, now living in Jamaica, who recounted a tale of how she forced her daughter to carry out an abortion.

"She has been haunted by the grave decision more than two decades later. Members of the public seated in the gallery and even parliamentary staff were moved to tears following the touching submission to the joint select committee considering the report of the Abortion Policy Review Group.

"Anne Arthur, a grief counsellor, was overcome with emotion as she shared the story with the committee of how her instructions to abort her then '12-week-old granddaughter' had left an indelible scar on her mind.

"'I drove my daughter to the abortion clinic like a lamb to the slaughterhouse, against her will', she lamented ... " Read the full story here. We need to get this tragic story to every school in the country, including faith schools which are also hit by the government's abortion policy, as the government & sex education establishment intensify their efforts to provide confidential abortion and birth control advice and services to schoolchildren under the age of 16.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Vultures gather for America's new dawn

Barack Obama announced a new dawn for America. It's a dawn that millions of Americans and countless millions around the world may never be born to see - as a direct result of his policies. Check out the following stories - which represent a small sample of the news emerging in recent weeks:

Activists hope Obama acts on abortion rights

Obama selects vocal pro-abortion leader as Communications Director

Condoms trump abstinence in Obama global AIDS policy

Obama Names Pro-Abortion Lawyer, Ex-NARAL Staffer to Judicial Team

Obama picks abortion supporter Daschle to head HHS

Pro-life resistance must be strong as Obama appoints anti-lifers

The vultures are gathering for America's new dawn.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Zero tolerance for pro-life dissent is on the cards in Europe and must be resisted

These are very dangerous times for families, unborn children and other vulnerable people in Europe. I blogged in September on how the rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are under threat in the continent. Pro-life and pro-family campaigners must expect to see the publication of documents, funded by the European Union, which promote abortion, euthanasia and other anti-life and anti-family practices - with a special emphasis on zero tolerance for dissent.
  • Last week the United Nations published a report promoting the legalization worldwide of immediate access to abortion services
  • Prominent Catholic figures such as Cherie Blair, the wife of Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, endorses the radical pro-abortion agenda of the United Nations - and Tony Blair, who refuses to repudiate his political record on pro-life matters despite his reception into the Catholic Church, has founded the Tony Blair Faith Foundation which has deep pro-abortion roots as I reported in October; strongly pro-abortion US vice-president, Joe Biden, is also a Catholic who uses his position to misrepresent church teaching on abortion as "a personal and private matter" of religious faith
  • Morten Kjaerum, the first director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Human Rights, was a member of the EU Network of Independent Experts which published a Legal Opinion challenging the right of medical professionals to conscientiously object to certain practices such as abortion and seeking, without any foundation, to promote the "right" to abortion. The objective of the Agency is to provide EU member states and institutions assistance and expertise on fundamental rights.
  • The EU Network's Legal Opinion (to which I refer above), prepared at the request of the EU Commission on the right to conscientious objection, links rights relating to sexual orientation to other supposed rights, including the “right” to abortion and the “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The document quotes, in part, the Diversity and Equality Guidelines of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in a generally approving way. The bishops’ guidelines and the EU experts’ document clearly agree that, subject to limited and narrow exceptions, Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • UK Fundamental Rights Reports (FRALEX) has won a contract to advise the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. According to Public Interest Law Network (PILN), in its February edition, most of the previous members of the radically pro-abortion/anti-life/anti-family EU Network of Independent Experts combined to bid successfully for the FRALEX contract.
  • Professor Michael O'Flaherty (pictured above) is joint co-director of the Human Rights Law Centre which forms part of FRALEX. He was rapporteur to the meeting which produced the infamous Yogyakarta principles which, amonst other things, called on States to "ensure that all sexual and reproductive health, education, prevention, care and treatment programmes and services respect the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities, and are equally available to all without discrimination"; according to the World Health Organisation's definition "sexual and reproductive health" services includes the provision of abortion on demand
  • EU "experts" like Professor Michael O'Flaherty and the FRALEX team will doubtless be gleefully awaiting Barack Obama keeping his pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Michael Moses, a lawyer for the American Catholic bishops, has warned that FOCA would force all Catholic hospitals and medical professionals to provide abortions, with no opt-outs or rights of conscientious objection.

As I've mentioned before, we need to build a powerful, peaceful resistance movement to anti-life policies pursued by governments. Silence, or worse still, complicity with anti-life and anti-family policies are not only not an option - they must be vigorously opposed by those most intimately concerned and most directly threatened: mothers and fathers throughout Europe and their families.

Friday 21 November 2008

Barbarous acts promoted through The Times again

A rather disturbing eugenicist article by Matthew Syed appeared in yesterday's Times newspaper. (I have blogged before about the radically anti-life agenda which The Times has been pursuing recently.) Mr Syed said, among other things, that:
  • "the belief that humanity is the ultimate expression of moral worth" is absurd;
  • "anthropocentric reasons" are not "moral reasons";
  • while "animals and humans are importantly different" (Mr Syed doesn't explain how) we humans have a "preposterously overblown sense of species pride";
  • "blurring the distinction between humans and animals [is] a positive blessing";
  • "the human genome is [not] ethically special" and that "humans are precious ... because of our capacities, not our genes".
Mr Syed's motivation for his assault on the sanctity of human is clear from some of this other comments, that:
  • through human genetic engineering "[i]t may be possible to enhance capacities such as perception, intelligence, even lifespan", and hopefully "of enjoying life free from disease";
  • genetic engineering of human beings is no morally different to natural means of improving children's exam results;
  • "we can have no principled objection to even radical genetic modifications providing that they improve lives or reduce suffering";
  • there is no moral difference between creating human-animal hybrids and transplanting animal organs into humans.
On that last point, Mr Syed has confused the adding to a whole human being of a small amount of tissue containing animal genes - an action which doesn't change the recipient's totally human genetic identity - with the creation of a new being of a genetic identity which is dubious (more or less depending on the extent of the human-animal mixing).

More generally, Mr Syed should be told that the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created three years after the second world war because "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind" (preamble). And which barbarous acts did the declaration's authors particularly have in mind? The ones which had only just ended, those perpetrated by Nazism. Those barbarous acts included medical experiments (pictured) aimed at enhancing human capacities, in which certain groups of human beings were treated worse than animals. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler argued that it is essential for human progress that some humans be treated worse than animals:

"[F]or the formation of higher cultures the existence of lower human types was one of the most essential preconditions, since they alone were able to compensate for the lack of technical aids without which a higher development is not conceivable. It is certain that the first culture of humanity was based less on the tamed animal than on the use of lower human beings ... Only pacifistic fools can regard this as a sign of human depravity."

In debates about euthanasia and assisted suicide, it is sometimes argued that it should be allowed for suffering humans to be put down, just as it is allowed for suffering animals to be put down. (I have blogged before about the danger to humans of equating humans and animals.) It is interesting to note that:
  • the German euthanasia programme, in which those deemed to lack adequate physical or mental capacities were put down, was started by eugenicists before the Nazis came to power;
  • the Nazi regime actively promoted assisted suicide e.g. through a propaganda fiction film centered on the woman with multiple sclerosis (like Debbie Purdy and her husband);
  • Hitler himself issued the first order for a so-called mercy killing on request (a father had petitioned for his disabled son to be killed);
  • the use of gas in Auschwitz was a direct import and extension of the euthanasia programme (the gassings were described as "medical matters" in one war-crimes trial).
In conclusion, if we are going to uphold human rights and avoid more repetitions of the barbarous acts of the last century, we must must everywhere condemn the transhumanism of Mr Syed and his eugenicist ilk.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Pro-life resistance must be strong as Obama appoints anti-lifers

Barack Obama is reported to have made several appointments to his forthcoming administration:
  • Tom Daschle (pictured with Obama) as secretary of health and human services. Mr Daschle is strongly anti-life, and, like all too many anti-life politicians, is a Catholic.
  • Alto Charo, a bioethicist, also to the health and human services department. Charo has described pro-life beliefs as "the endarkenment" (the opposite of the Enlightenment).
  • Rahm Emanuel, an anti-life Democrat congressman, as chief of staff.
It has been suggested that pro-lifers seek a rapprochement with anti-life governments like the future Obama administration, on the basis of those governments' alleged desire to promote better health care, welfare, adoption and other services for expectant mothers. Don't be fooled: it's a ploy to neutralise pro-life criticism of anti-life governments. It's also a way of caricaturing the pro-life movement as only being interested in moralising rather than actually helping people and changing public opinion. The pro-life movement, individual pro-lifers and the faith communities to which they belong, have been caring for decades for expectant mothers, as well as educating the public, passing laws, reforming policies and doing many other things which have served to reduce the likely numbers of abortions. The right response to anti-life governments' policies and legislation is ever-stronger resistance to the culture of death - the kind of resistance personified, for example, by the courageous politicians and people of Northern Ireland who by means of intelligent and determined opposition have succeeded, for over four decades, in stopping the imposition of the Abortion Act on the Province by the UK Parliament.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Euthanasia lobby rumbled in Lords debate

In a House of Lords debate yesterday, an attempt by the pro-euthanasia lobby to mislead people was rumbled by parliamentarians opposed to assisted suicide. "Dignity in Dying" (the euphemism which the Voluntary Euthanasia Society now uses for itself) has produced a charter, ostensibly on end-of-life care but thinly veiling its immediate objective of legalising intentional killing of the innocent. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary (pictured below), provides below a run-down of the debate:

"The debate was led by Lord Warner (pictured above), a former Labour health minister. Lord Warner started by declaring that he is a member of the British Humanist Association (BHA). That name sounds benign, even positive, but the BHA is a radical anti-life, anti-family campaigning organisation, headed by Polly Toynbee, Britain's leading pro-abortion commentator.

"Lord Warner said that assisted suicide 'should be available to us in a civilised society'. Suicide, however, is not civilised but often a hallmark of societies where human life and intrinsic human dignity have little or no value, such as ancient Rome and Nazi Germany.

"Lord Warner, and Lord Dubs later in the debate, said that it was a matter of not denying people choice. Yet some choices are wrong. Some choices are false choices, because one has no right to choose to do certain things, such as killing the innocent, including oneself. Lord Warner's rhetoric is the same empty rhetoric of choice used by the pro-abortion lobby.

"The Earl of Arran claimed that allowing assisted suicide would provide 'greater protection for the vulnerable'. Allowing assisted suicide, however, will undermine protection for everyone, both the vulnerable and those of us not currently vulnerable, by lessening the value of human life.

"Lord Lester used a well-worn tactic deployed by anti-lifers, by claiming that the law on end-of-life treatment needs clarifying.

"Lord Hameed, a Muslim, pointed out that Islam and many other world religions both prohibit suicide and require doctors to care for patients regardless of terminal illness.

"The Anglican bishop of Exeter said: 'For many—and I declare an interest as a parent of a Down’s syndrome child—the promise of more choice has so often turned out to mean pressure to choose that which suits others'. He added that a law to allow assisted suicide 'by definition, would involve the state in affirming the view of an individual life as intolerable and not worth living'.

"Baroness Jay let the euthanasia lobby’s mask slip by referring to 'medically assisted suicide', rather the 'assisted dying' euphemism.

"Baroness Murphy claimed that '[a] change in the law to allow assisted dying … would immeasurably improve the trust that patients have in their doctors'. Yet when assisted suicide was legalised briefly in the Northern Territory, Australia, aborginals feared going to doctors or hospitals for fear of being killed.

"Baroness Knight, a veteran of the pro-life movement, led the charge in rumbling the euthanasia lobby:

“'Let there be no doubt whatever about the aims of those who are trumpeting this cause today … [The Voluntary Euthanasia Society] is trying to fool us … What we are actually talking about is encouraging people to kill themselves and, worse, opening the way for relatives to get elderly and sick people out of the way … [I]t is very easy to give an old lady or old gentleman the impression that their continued existence leads to great problems and great expense for their sons and daughters … Terminally ill but mentally competent people will, if the true aims of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society are realised, submit themselves to a lethal injection or a fatal dose, when it is made clear to them in a subtle or direct way that it is time that they shuffled off this mortal coil for the general good.'

"Baroness Finlay, a palliative care professor, assisted Baroness Knight:

“'The pro-euthanasia lobby’s approach in this document is reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 and the Ministry of Truth … Why is the euphemism “assisted death” used? Midwives assist at birth and palliative care assists at death; assistance is supportive help, not accelerating death or cutting life short by months or years. Why not be honest? What are the authors of this document frightened of? What they are really proposing is aiding and abetting suicide or giving doctors a therapeutic option of killing their patients. Palliative and other end-of-life care is being used like bubble-wrap around a sharp and dangerous object in an attempt to assisted suicide by the back door.'

"Lady Finlay argued that '[p]atients die of their disease and deserve good care and support, not shortcuts in care to end life'.She also pointed out that '[i]n Oregon, one in six of those whose suicides were assisted had their depression missed by those assessing the request'.

"Lord Carlile QC asked: 'Do we not have to look at end of life with a quite different set of ethical values? If you assist a thief, the stolen goods can be returned. If you assist a suicide, only the body can be returned; there is no going back'.

"Baroness Emerton joined the assault on the euthanasia lobby, arguing that assisted suicide 'is not a health issue at all. It is one of justice and human rights—the right to life. None of us can escape death but we must have the right to have healthcare provided free from the risk of coercion to suicide.' She also pointed out the euthanasia lobby's 'sleight of hand' in trying to conceal its assisted suicide agenda within a charter on palliative care.

"Baroness Masham, president of the Spinal Injuries Association, reminded the House that '[t]here are only a few people who want to be assisted to be killed, but there are thousands of vulnerable disabled people who fear that if the law is eased, their lives will be put at risk'.

"Baroness Greengross potentially misled the House by claiming that:

“'Those who want to see, in exceptional circumstances, people openly being able to be helped to die are not seeking premature death for anyone; it should happen only at the very last stage of life when people are in intolerable pain.'

"But the whole point of assisted suicide is to bring about death prematurely. Lord Joffe's bill, which is due to be re-introduced, doesn’t just allow assisted suicide 'at the very last stage of life' but where a doctor predicts the patient has up to six months left to live. As we know, terminally-ill patients often live much longer than expected. Lady Greengross, Lord Taverne speaking before her and Lord Lester speaking earlier all misrepresented both the use of pain-relief and the principle of double-effect. Lord McColl, the Conservative health spokesman, rebutted those misrepresentations deftly later in the debate: 'The definition of a good drug such as a pain-relieving drug is that the dose required to relieve is a fraction of the dose required to kill'.

"Baroness Greengross also referred to people 'losing their dignity at the end of life'. But every human being, regardless of age or medical condition, has an inalienable and inherent dignity simply because they’re human. The effects of age or illness cannot touch that dignity, and are addressed by medical treatment and personal care.

"Baroness Howe of Idlicote argued that Baroness Warnock’s recent comments proposing a duty to die were proof of the slippery slope.

"Baroness (Jenny) Tonge described a lady in the advanced stage of motor neurone disease as 'helpless'.But no patient is helpless, even where medical treatment is no longer possible. If (as one hopes and assumes) the lady is receiving basic nursing and palliative care, pastoral attention, and the love of family and friends, then she is being helped, in ways often more important than medical treatment.

"Lord McColl presented the testimony of Alison Davis, convenor of No Less Human, a group within SPUC, whose outstanding life would have been cut short if assisted suicide had been available during her suicidal depression many years ago.

"Baroness Thornton, wrapping up the debate on behalf of the government, said:

“'[T]he Government have no plans to change the law in this area and we have it made very clear that we take a neutral stance when others seek to change the law. This means not standing in the way of such a change, but not actively pursuing it. Equally, we have no plans at present to carry out any associated research in this area.'

Thanks Anthony! As I blogged on Monday, the government's position on assisted suicide must be watched, not least considering its appointment of Joan Bakewell to represent the elderly.

In conclusion, we must be vigilant against both the euthanasia lobby and the government's dangerous self-styled neutrality, whilst remaining grateful that ethically-minded parliamentarians were able to defend the truth.

To Barack Obama enthusiasts everywhere: a message from black pro-life advocates

According to Mercatornet, black pro-life advocates in the US are warning about the black genocide in the US caused by the disprortionate numbers of abortions in African-American neighbourhoods in America.

They say: Abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community; and with president-elect Obama being so aggressively pro-abortion, it makes the work of black pro-life advocates all the more necessary. (National Catholic Register Weekly newspaper) reports the views of Reverend Johnny Hunter (pictured), president of Life Education and Resource Network in Fayetteville, N.C. : “People don’t realize that abortion has killed more blacks than the Ku Klux Klan ever lynched. Planned Parenthood is the biggest of the abortion providers. Planned Parenthood endorsed Senator Obama, and he made promises to them. Any person of color who has made a promise to a group that targets groups of color isn’t worthy of being elected.”

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Not obeying unjust laws and policies is an essential part of pro-life witness

I am very concerned that the government has appointed Dame Joan Bakewell to represent elderly people. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Dame Joan backed Lord Joffe's bill to allow assisted suicide and made several other pro-euthanasia statements, endorsing so-called living wills and confusing ordinary with extraordinary treatment. Dame Joan said: "I have a living will so that I'm not kept alive if I'm a vegetable because no doctor wants to pull the plug."

Dame Joan needs to dust off her human biology school textbook. Human beings can't become vegetables. Considering that many elderly people are or will become mentally incapacitated, what sort of representative for the elderly insults them by caling them vegetables?

Martin Beckford, who interviewed Dame Joan, made matters worse by partly misleading readers, claiming that: "There are now more pensioners than children in the country thanks to rising life expectancy linked to healthier lifestyles and better health care"

In fact, there are more pensioners than children in Britain partly, and perhaps mainly, because of four decades of contraception, sterilisation and abortion (as well an ever-rising average age of marriage, itself linked with anti-child culture).

In an equally disturbing development, Gordon Brown, the prime minister, has said he may push on with presumed consent for organ donation, despite a government-commissioned report which advised against it. Why am I not surprised that Dr Evan Harris MP, Britain's leading campaigner for euthanasia, is also Britain's leading campaigner for presumed consent? Last night Dr Harris claimed that there is "no evidence" of doctors falsely confirming death in order to remove organs before death. Perhaps Dr Harris is unaware of just such a case in Colorado, United States, earlier this year.

The ideology of Dame Joan, Mr Brown and Evan Harris treats human beings as mere machines, to be scrapped and requisitioned for parts once they cease to function according to the state's subjective desires. It is an universally accepted belief that the primary duty of governments is to defend the lives of its citizens. How can the sick, the elderly and the disabled trust a government which thinks some of them are better off dead?

The elderly should certainly have more confidence in the likes of the Italian nuns refusing to kill Eluana Englaro, choosing not to obey a court order to remove her tube-delivered food and fluids. The nuns have been caring for Eluana (pictured) for 14 years, following a car accident which left in a state of diminished consciousness. One has no duty to obey - indeed, a duty not to obey - any instruction ordering one intentionally to kill, or be complicit in killing, an innocent human being. Such a refusal is not arbitrary disobedience to the law, but obligatory non-obedience to an unjust and therefore invalid law.

SPUC joins international team to file brief in defence of Ireland's unborn

The pro-abortion lobby is determined to overturn Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion in a case before the European Court of Human Rights which will have worldwide implications, including in the US, according to American legal experts. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has joined other international pro-life organizations in filing on Friday a joint brief to defend Ireland's historic protection of the unborn.

Let me explain the background to this case.

Five years ago a confidential memorandum prepared by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a New York based group of pro-abortion lawyers, was uncovered by the pro-life lobby in the US. The memorandum outlined a detailed strategy to establish an internationally recognised human right to abortion. Key to this strategy was the distortion of existing human rights treaties in cases before international courts and in particular before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

In 2007 the CRR intervened in the case of Tysiac v Poland . This case involving a young woman who complained that her human rights were violated when she was refused an abortion. Despite its previous reluctance to become involved in the abortion laws of member states within the Council of Europe, the court ruled that the Polish law (which only permitted abortion on grounds of a serious risk to the mother's health, in cases of rape or foetal disability) breached the European Convention on Human Rights. Now the CRR is hoping that next year the Court will overturn Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion when it hears the case of three women, known only as A,B and C.

Although there are several important differences between the two cases, the decision in the Polish case has set a dangerous precedent and there can be no guarantee of what the Court will decide. In support of the three women, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) claims that by forbidding abortion in Ireland, the constitution violates the rights to life and to privacy, it discriminates against women and subjects them to inhuman and degrading treatment by forcing them to seek abortions abroad.

Leaving aside the fact that any case may be considered inadmissible if it hasn't been heard by the domestic courts, the IFPA's claims are not only unfounded, they are an attempt to pervert everything the European Convention originally set out to protect.

No treaty or convention has ever recognised access to abortion as a human right. Article 2 of the European Convention protects the right to life and while it does not specifically prohibit abortion, it would be turning the convention on its head to argue that it provides a right to kill through abortion. In fact the European Convention only sets a minimal level for human rights. By specifically recognising the right to life of the unborn the Irish Constitution goes beyond the basic protection provided by Article 2. And according to Article 53 nothing within the Convention can be used to diminish the recognition of a human right in domestic law set at a higher standard than that stipulated in the Convention.

Nor can Article 3, which protects against torture and inhuman and degrading treatment be interpreted as providing a right to abortion. Even if this article was applicable to abortion law, having to travel abroad for an abortion would fail to meet the level of seriousness necessary to be considered as a breach of Article 3 rights.

The abortion lobby has for a long time argued that abortion must be legalised to ensure the equality of women. Article 14 of the Convention protects from discrimination but again this is not applicable to the issue of abortion. This article only complements the rights protected by the rest of the Convention and only prohibits unfair, unlawful or arbitrary discrimination. The European Convention has never sought to eliminate the natural differences between men and women including their physical and reproductive differences. Every abortion discriminates against an unborn human being, so again pro-abortionists are attempting to distort the right they pretend to uphold.

It is, however, the right to privacy, protected by Article 8, where the abortion lobby has been most successful in the past. Notoriously it was the right to privacy which the US Supreme Court used in Roe v Wade as a pretext to legalise abortion in 1973. Until recently the European Court argued that the survival of an unborn child was not simply a private matter for a pregnant woman. It acknowledged that each country had a right to decide the level of protection provided for children before birth. If the Court decides that Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion violates the European Convention then it will effectively say that a right for a woman to decide privately to end the life of her unborn child is of more fundamental importance than the child's right to life.

In his dissenting opinion in the Tysiac case Judge Francisco Javier Borrego Borrego said: "Today the Court has decided that a human being was born as a result of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to this reasoning, there is a Polish child, currently six years old, whose right to be born contradicts the Convention. I would never have thought that the Convention would go so far, and I find it frightening."

If the European Court declares Ireland's protection for unborn children violates the European Convention it will have implications for the whole world which will be very frightening indeed.

Monday 17 November 2008

Teenage girls won't be forced to have birth control injection, says UK Government

I am not reassured by the Government's statement, reported in the Telegraph and elsewhere, that it won't force teenage girls to have a contraceptive injection - a form of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Do they really need to tell us that? Clearly, the Government thinks it does need to do so.

The Government's statement could not be more disturbing, not least in the context of the recent Government announcement that it intends to make sex and relationship education compulsory throughout both primary and secondary schools: it reflects a culture of governance in which pressure to contracept and pressure to abort are becoming more and more an instrument of government policy.

We see this culture at work in the imposition on British families of the government's policy of secret access to abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices to schoolchildren - without parental knowledge or consent, championed by Tony Blair and his government and continued under Gordon Brown.

The Government's outrageous statement, reported today, makes it all the more clear that their plans announced last month regarding compulsory sex education in primary and secondary schools, are all about priming children to embrace the abortion/contraceptive culture from 4 - 5 years old - as I pointed out at the time.

Northern Ireland decides on abortion, not Westminster, says British government

Shaun Woodward, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that Northern Ireland's politicians should decide on their abortion law, not Westminster.

“Successive governments have consistently said that extending the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland would need the most careful consultation there and that no change to the current arrangements should be made against the wishes of the people in Northern Ireland" he said.

“The government believes that the best forum for taking decisions on this matter is the Northern Ireland Assembly once it has taken responsibility for criminal law.”

Whilst this is an encouraging government statement, it provides absolutely no grounds for complacency, Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, said to me over the weekend.

In 1990 Gordon Brown voted to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, a move which failed because of the opposition of the then ruling Conservative government.

As Prime Minister, Gordon Brown faced the political reality that the people of Northern Ireland don't want the Abortion Act. At present ultimate legislative power remains in Westminster but political legitimacy lies with the elected representatives at Stormont. If Gordon Brown's government had allowed Parliament to impose the Act on the Province during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act last month, against the will of the devolved Assembly, it would have led to an unprecedented constitutional dilemma.

Only eight months ago, the Prime Minister refused to rule out MPs imposing the Abortion Act on Northern Ireland during the passage of the Bill. In the event, thank God, Gordon Brown climbed down and made sure that MPs made no such move.

But despite this setback for pro-abortion extremists in the House of Commons, they haven't gone away. The legislative route may be closed for the time being ... but if a pro-abortion MP is selected in the private members' ballot at the start of the next session of Parliament, then the threat of the '67 Act being extended returns once again.

There are also many other ways in which the abortion lobby can achieve its aims. Already Alliance for Choice has said it will pursue its agenda through the courts. And next year the European Court of Human Rights will hear a case supported by the Irish Family Planning Association which seeks overturn the Republic of Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion. SPUC and a number of other international groups have been given leave to intervene in the proceedings.

While the case is weak, if the court was to rule against the Republic it would have global implications and would represent a step towards access to abortion being recognised as a human right.

Earlier this year a report issued by the implementation committee for the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) called on the British government to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. Other forces within the United Nations are also determined to create a legal obligation on all nations to recognise abortion on demand a human right. The co-operation of the new US administration led by pro-abortion Barack Obama may be crucial to outcome UN attempts to promote a right to abortion internationally.

Action in the courts and international pressure from agencies like the Council of Europe, the EU and the UN do not rely upon public opinion so they can be very difficult to fight. Forty years after its became law, the pro-abortion lobby in Britain has failed to have the Abortion Act extended to Northern Ireland because of the strength of Northern Ireland's politicians on the issue and intense lobbying throughout Northern Ireland and Britain. There can be little doubt, however, that the pro-life movement will have to face many more serious threats within the next few years.

Sunday 16 November 2008

A New Act is Born - designed to kill millions of babies created not to be born

With, perhaps, unconscious irony, the British government announced last week "A New Act is Born" - a law designed to kill millions of innocent human beings deliberately created never to be born.

"A New Act is Born" is the headline given to the press release published by the Department of Health announcing that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act had received Royal Assent.

The government release goes on to explain:

"Human-admixed" embryos created from a combination of human and animal genetic material, purely for laboratory research will be allowed and strictly controlled. There will be a 14 day limit, after which the embryo must be destroyed. Sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons is banned. Sex selection is only allowed for medical reasons - for example to avoid a serious disease." [And, of course, embryos with the wrong sex will be destroyed] ... And there are many other clauses designed to harm or kill embryos created in the laboratory.
Let's not forget that Gordon Brown (pictured above), the Prime Minister and a total of 269 Labour MPs (out of 349), David Cameron (picture below), the Tory leader, and a total of 48 Conservative MPs (out of 193), and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, and a total of 30 Liberal Democrat MPs (out of 63) voted in favour of this barbaric law.
It's appalling that our country is led by a politician who voted for abortion up to birth for disabled three times, as did his predecessor Tony Blair, and that his main rival for the job of Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that disabled babies should continue to be aborted up to birth, even though he and his wife have a disabled son themselves.

Please consider joining SPUC's campaign in your area - or starting such a campaign - to alert constituents as to how your MP voted in the defining issue of the 21st century, the treatment of the most vulnerable members of our community, newly-conceived human embryos. Contact me at if you want to run or join such a campaign in your area.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Obamania is a condition linked to Tonyblairmania

I expressed concern the other day that Bishop Cripian Hollis, the bishop of Portsmouth (pictured), had posted a special message on his website rejoicing at the election of Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion and anti-life President-election in US history.

Bishop Hollis has since placed a "clarification" on his website in which he says:

"I would like to add some words to the statement that I issued last week on the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.I genuinely welcome his election because he represents such a different political profile from that of President Bush. America – and the world – needs that political change and will benefit from it.However, I am aware of what he has said about abortion and about the so-called freedom of choice and I deplore his words. There is no way in which I endorse his position on these crucial “life” matters, nor, as a Catholic bishop, could I ever do so.Perhaps it’s na├»ve to say this but I hope and pray that the realities of the political process will mean that he has to temper his personal policies on these all important life issues and pay serious attention to the outrage with which many view his “life” agenda."

With all due respect, this clarification is yet another example of Obamania, a condition linked, I think to Tonyblairmania, the symptoms being much the same: In Barack Obama's case a person welcomes his election even though he is committed to extreme pro-abortion, anti-life policies; Tonyblairmania involves welcoming Tony Blair's reception into the Catholic Church even though he refuses to repudiate his political record on pro-life matters.

I will ask Bishop Hollis whether if, instead of being required to agree to kill babies on demand, doctors were required by Barack Obama's policies to agree to kill, for example, Catholic priests, would the bishop continue to insist on welcoming his election?

Friday 14 November 2008

A "must-read" for those campaigning against decriminalization of assisted suicide

Alison Davis, the leader of No Less Human, a group within SPUC, has sent me her review of a new publication which looks like a "must-read" for those concerned about new calls from Parliamentarians for the decriminilization of assisted suicide by lethal dose, on which I have blogged recently.

Alison writes:

"I've just finished reading "Against Physician Assisted Suicide - a palliative care perspective" by David Jeffrey.

"Overall I think it's an excellent introduction to the subject. It's readable, in easy 'chunks' and introduces all the main aspects of the subject in comprehensible short chapters. He gives a good background to the history of PAS in Oregon and Switzerland, and doesn't baulk at the "difficult" subjects like that of unrelievable pain and depression.

"The book gives an excellent overview of the Joffe bill in the UK and various attempts in England & Wales & Scotland of attempts to change the law to allow PAS, noting clearly the differences and similarities between PAS and euthanasia.

"I feel that some of the examples he gives near the end of the book of "Three Patients" who represent a blend of true cases, is somewhat simplistic, but it will be news to many people, both those who are beginners to the issue and those who haven't (yet) read widely on it.

"I would thoroughly recommend it as an introduction to the subject, and for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge."

Click on the link for the book above for details on how to order.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Some human beings are more equal than others, according to MPs praising Obama

I've received a notification that Jim Dobbin MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPLG), has withdrawn his signature from a pro-Obama parliamentary motion (I blogged about this last week, pointing out the President-elect's extreme pro-abortion/anti-life political record and intentions). I'm very grateful to Mr Dobbin for withdrawing his signature.

I note with disappointment, however, that APPPLG vice-chairmen Claire Curtis-Thomas MP and Dr John Pugh MP, have signed a different pro-Obama motion, the wording of which is flawed.

Of course, it's perfectly normal and diplomatically desirable for politicians, Governments - and even for the Pope - to send messages of congratulation to new heads of state, not least the new head of state in the US. But it matters a lot what the message actually says.

Pope Benedict's message is personal and the full text is not available. CNS news reports that the Holy Father assured the President-elect of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community - and I've no doubt we all say "Amen" to that.

However, the Early Day Motion signed by Claire Curtis-Thomas and John Pugh says, among other things:

"That this House [of Commons]... notes that even a few years ago it would have been unimaginable for an African-American man to run for President let alone win; [and] identifies [Mr Obama] as a shining example of how far America has come in respect of integration and equality".

What about the integration and equality of unborn children, both black and white, who will be killed in greater numbers under President Obama? Or are some human beings more equal than others, according to British MPs?

Anthony Ozimic, back from last week's MaterCare workshop in Rome, reports a particularly apposite comment made by Nicholas Nikas (pictured), a leading pro-life lawyer from the United States. Mr Nikas said:

"The world sees the first black man as president, which is a wonderful thing: but at what price? Martin Luther King Jnr had a dream, a nation where people will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. What is the content of the character that does not see partial birth-abortion as a problem?"

Anthony reports another similarly apposite comment, made by Fr Thomas Williams of the Regina Apostolorum university. Fr Williams said that abortion was the central issue of social injustice of our time, by which individuals are oppressed in their most fundamental right; and that in the light of the American election results, Catholics may be considered unfit to work in certain areas or in certain jobs, because they hold pro-life and pro-family beliefs (as a result of the Freedom of Choice Act which Barack Obama has promised to sign as the first act of his presidency).

How do Mrs Curtis-Thomas and Dr Pugh (both Catholics) square that danger of segregation and discrimination with the "integration and equality" they claim Mr Obama's election represents?

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Obamania spreads to Catholic bishops

Bishop Crispian Hollis (pictured) has posted a special message on the Portsmouth diocese website in which he rejoices at the election of Barack Obama - the most pro-abortion and anti-life president-elect in American history. The full message reads:

“With millions of others, I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it. For me, it represents a rare moment of hope and optimism which shows American democracy at its best and it is of seismic significance and potential for the whole global community. And so, more than ever now, he deserves and needs us to keep him in our prayers.”

I am increasingly concerned by the numbers of people who have endorsed Mr Obama. I suspect many of them are caught up in an unthinking Obamania.

Has Bishop Hollis overlooked the fact that the unborn are part of the whole global community? The only "potential" for the unborn under an Obama presidency will be that more of them will be killed. What "hope and optimism" can Catholic medics have following Obama's election, who will abolish conscientious objection to abortion, thereby threatening to destroy Catholic healthcare in the US? Can Bishop Hollis explains to Stephan Karanja, the leader of Catholic doctors in Kenya, why he also should be "thrilled" by Obama's victory? Is the poor doctor labouring under a misunderstanding when he says:

“[Americans] have no business electing a person who is going to destroy our countr[y] ... The truth is that they have put a bad man in the most powerful office in the whole world ... [T]his administration of Obama, is going to be a nightmare for our people."

I will be writing to Bishop Hollis, putting these and other questions to him.

Mental Capacity Act creates impetus for lethal dose assisted suicide

I blogged yesterday about Evan Harris MP and his attempt to mislead people by inventing a false distinction between assisted suicide and the taking of lethal doses by Britons who travelled to the Dignitas centre in Zurich, Switzerland. There are other aspects of Evan Harris's disgraceful speech yesterday which demand commentary. Evan Harris said:

"Each year, a number of terminally ill people resort in desperation to violent and often botched suicides, and a number of people find that they have to refuse food and water to exercise control over their time and manner of death. They use their ability to refuse treatment because the fairest and most humane way of exercising control is not available to them ... I do not have time to go into the case of people who refuse food and water, but again it means a more protracted death than the painless one that is available through assisted dying."

Elsewhere in the debate, Evan Harris said that, because patients have a legal right to refuse medical treatment, they should also have a right to receive assistance to die (i.e. to commit suicide by lethal dose): "The end result is the same, and the wish is the same; it is only the activity or passivity that is different."

SPUC has frequently quoted Dr Helga Kuhse (pictured), the utilitarian bioethicist, who as then-president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, said in 1984:

"If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care--especially the removal of food and fluids--they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient's best interests, they will accept the lethal injection".

SPUC has also warned that the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which in certain circumstances gives legal force to killings by denial of food and fluids, will lead to calls for killings by lethal dose.

Lord Joffe has said recently that he will re-introduce his bill to decriminalise assisted suicide by lethal dose, which after several attempts was rejected by the House of Lords in 2006.

It is particularly to be lamented that the spokesman for the Conservative party in yesterday's adjournment debate, Edward Garnier, said:

"The present state of affairs is increasingly under attack, but no statutory answer to the problem has been found. ... [F]rom my party’s point of view it is a question with which we shall have to come to grips, if not today then over the next few years."

As I have warned before, pro-lifers should not put their faith in a future Conservative government on pro-life matters.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Evan Harris given a special lifetime Orwell award

In Parliament this morning Dr Evan Harris MP (pictured) led an adjournment debate (a brief ad hoc debate, not followed by voting) on the subject of so-called assisted dying. Dr Harris is one of Parliament's leading devotees of killing the innocent. Dr Harris described the situation in Britain thus:

"Assisting someone to die is punishable with 14 years of imprisonment ... and that seems to me to be inappropriate with the sort of cases that we're dealing with at the moment. We all know the examples of where people are seeking assistance to die, and that is different to assisted suicide ... What we are not talking about here clearly is assisted suicide. Assisted dying is for people who want to live, not for people who want to die in the case of assisted suicide, so I have no difficulty with the current law which criminalises assisted suicide, where people are suicidal and they are helped through websites or indirectly ...

Dr Harris went on to say that "Dignitas as we know helps people with incurable illnesses to die ... and over 100 [British citizens] have travelled to Switzerland have an assisted death since October 2002."

I invite Dr Harris to visit the website of Dignitas, where he can read a recent speech by Dignitas founder Dr Ludwig Minelli, in which he said:

"By accepting the idea of suicide in principal (sic) and by being prepared to offer professional help with suicide, DIGNITAS is recognised as a credible and trustworthy source of help for people in suicidal situations ... We must be prepared to offer professionally-supervised assisted suicide to those people whose problems cannot be solved ... As long as residents of those countries have to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide because the law of their own country does not allow them to ask for it at home, neither their freedom of choice nor their right to suicide can be said to correspond with the guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights." (my emphasis)

The pro-suicide movement championed by Dr Harris rivals the pro-abortion movement in its use of “political language ... designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orwell) And so, both for his claims in his speech this morning and for his record of other outstandingly deceptive claims, I am today giving Dr Harris a special lifetime Orwell Award.

Monday 10 November 2008

Cardinal’s approval of ethical code which fails to ban abortion referrals a “grave scandal”

I wrote recently about the approval by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, of a new ethical code at St John and St Elizabeth’s Hospital, London, which fails to ban abortion referrals, unlike the previous code approved by the hospital board in 2007.

I link again today to the new 2008 statement of ethics and to the 2007 code which, as readers can see for themselves, clearly fails to prohibit referrals for abortions and other procedures, which were so firmly prohibited by the 2007 Code.

In the light of this, I was surprised to hear from a reader of my first post on this matter that the Cardinal’s office had sent him the following message: “The Cardinal has asked me to write concerning your email about the new Code of Ethics at the Hospital of St. John & St. Elizabeth. It should be understood that there will not be any formal referrals of abortion at the hospital.”

Luke Gormally, honorary fellow of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, tells me: “The Cardinal is in no position to offer such a reassurance. Practitioners at the Hospital have been asked to sign up to a Code from which the prohibition of referrals for abortion has been deliberately omitted. Those practitioners therefore have made no commitment to refrain from referring for abortion. I know from having met the Medical Advisory Committee that they were vehemently opposed to any attempt to prevent them from referring for procedures which they deemed to be in the interests of their patients. The new Code was designed precisely to accommodate their wishes.

“The Cardinal may wish – as he surely does – that doctors practising at the Hospital do not refer for abortions, but the Code that he has approved clearly does not prohibit them from doing so. It also clearly omits the prohibition in the 2007 Code of the prescribing of contraceptives.”

Luke Gormally explained the history of what he rightly called a “grave scandal” in a comment published in full on Fr Finigan’s blog last month.

Professor Gormally takes up the issue again in the letters pages of last Friday's Catholic Herald in which he dismisses as “a PR smokescreen”, a letter to the Herald from Mark Thomas, PR consultant to St. John and St. Elizabeth, who stated that absence of any mention of referrals for abortion in the hospital’s 2008 code of ethics should not be taken to imply that they are permitted at the hospital.

Luke Gormally writes: “Comparison of the 2008 with the 2007 code makes clear that the former has deliberately deleted from the latter the prohibition of referrals for abortion and other immoral procedures, as well as the prohibition of the prescribing of contraceptives.

“The deleted prohibitions are precisely what the wholly non-Catholic Medical Advisory Committee of the hospital had objected to in the 2007 code. They have had their way.

“Physicians and surgeons at the hospital who are now invited to sign the 2008 code know that it leaves it open to them to refer for immoral procedures, including abortion, and to prescribe contraceptives.”

Luke Gormally’s letter to the Catholic Herald concludes: “A statement has been issued that the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster has approved the 2008 code, presumably exercising the role he has in the constitution of the hospital of determining the conformity of the hospital’s code with Catholic moral teaching. The Cardinal has not repudiated this claim about his approval of the code.”