Saturday 28 February 2009

Abortion: there's no alternative according to British Government

In the British Government's dictionary "options" appears to mean "the complete lack of any other alternatives on offer" when it comes to abortion.

My thanks to Pauline Gateley for drawing my attention to a National Health Service webpage entitled: "Abortion: know your options" (complete with the perfectly-crafted image of the caring doctor pictured above). The sub-heading is "If you're pregnant and considering an abortion, here are some facts you need to know".

To "consider", according to my on-line dictionary, means "to think carefully about", whereas the Government's dictionary appears to define "considering" as "planning on" in the context of abortion. Judge for yourself:

The NHS webpage begins: "How do I get an abortion?". Then, with no reference whatsoever to counselling, never mind the possible alternatives to abortion, the government replies "Either your GP or a community contraceptive clinic can refer you for an abortion that’s free on the NHS ... Or if you’re a teenager, there are teenage drop-in clinics and Connexions centres that can put you in touch with the right services." It goes on to recommend the FPA, Brook Advisory Centres, the British Pregnancy Advisory Centres, and Marie Stopes - which have a record of making misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements about what abortion involves or of denying the right of pro-life doctors to refuse to refer women to another doctor who will help them to get an abortion.

Under another headline "What are my options?" the government webpage continues: "It largely depends on how far into the pregnancy you are. A doctor can talk you through the different methods available" - Again, there's not the slightest reference to the option of keeping the baby. "Options" here means the different methods available for killing the baby.

The possibility that a mother-to-be might encounter a doctor who considers she has no grounds for abortion is, for the government, simply an obstacle to be overcome in favour of an abortion. The webpage reads: "A doctor may have moral objections to abortion, but if that’s the case they should refer you to another doctor who can help."

And just in case children are worried that their "option" for abortion might be hindered by a concerned parent, the Government says: " ... all information is kept confidential and nobody else will know about it, not even your partner or parents. You can also ask the hospital or clinic not to inform your GP. And if you’re under 16, your doctor doesn’t have to mention it to your parents".

At the very bottom of the webpage we read: "Can I get any counselling before or afterwards?" Note that the government's response takes it for granted that the only option being considered is abortion:

"Most abortion services offer counselling if you feel you need help with any worries or feelings you're having. It's normal to experience a range of emotions after an abortion, such as relief, sadness, happiness or feelings of loss. Each woman is unique. Ask your GP or family planning doctor, or ask the doctor at the hospital or clinic, to find out what support is available in your area."

As Pauline Gateley said to me - it's a disgrace. Why not write to your MP about it? Let me know what your MP says. The Government is pushing worried mothers-to-be, including young teenage girls, on to the abortion conveyor belt. Abortion is a tragedy in which a woman loses her child in a procedure which puts her health, both physical and mental, at risk. But any facts about abortion which might point in the direction of keeping the baby are being denied to women and young girls on an NHS abortion webpage insultingly headlined: " ... here are some facts you need to know".

For a paper on the effects of abortion, prepared by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, , write to me at

Friday 27 February 2009

Obama régime is deferential to China

Just at the time when the US State Department reports that China's human rights abuses are worsening, citing
"repression last year in Tibet and Xinjiang, restricting dissent and religious freedom"
Barack Obama's brave new world has shown where its priorities lie - and they are not with the victims of repression.

Hillary Clinton, Obama's secretary of state, says:
“We have to continue to press them, but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate-change crisis and the security crises. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and co-operation on each of those.”
US Congressman Chris Smith (right) puts it well when he says that Hillary Clinton's comments are
“a shocking display of pandering”
and that the Obama administration
“has chosen to peddle U.S. debt to the largest dictatorship in the world over combating torture, forced abortion, forced labor, religious persecution, human sex trafficking, gendercide, and genocide” according to EWTN news.

“Secretary Clinton said concern for the protection of human rights of the Chinese people can’t ‘interfere’ with the economic crisis, climate change, and security – as if human rights were somehow disconnected and irrelevant to those issues,” Congressman Chris Smith said.

Congressman Smith reminds us that, when Colin Powell (a supporter of abortion) was Secretary of State, the US State Department verified the pro-life Population Research Institute’s allegations that the UNFPA was cooperating with coercive abortion programme in China.

“UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion,” Powell said in a July 21, 2002 letter to Congress.

As I write this, I read that the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives is blocking debate of Mr Smith's pro-life amendments to President Obama's economic package. Mr Smith's proposals would stop government money from going overseas to pay for abortion (including forced abortion) and forced sterilisation.

Thursday 26 February 2009

"More cash for contraception" not the answer says teenage mum

Kizzy Neal from Devon (pictured with her son Kaylib) became pregnant just before her fourteenth birthday. Her son Kaylib is now 22 months old. Kizzy and her parents feel strongly that the sex education at Paignton Community College, which she attended at the time, did not help her to resist becoming sexually active at such a young age.

So what does Kizzy think about the announcement* today headlined "More Cash for Contraception", which is the Government's response to the rising rate of teenage pregnancies - to 41.9 conceptions per 1,000 15 to 17 year-olds, from 40.9 the year before (also announced today)? (*An extra £20.5 million will help young people get better access to contraception and support for teenagers and raise the awareness of the risks of unprotected sex, according to Dawn Primarolo MP, Public Health Minister, and Beverley Hughes MP, Young People’s Minister.)

Kizzy said, " ... As soon as I got into Year 7 we had this big introduction to sex education and it just went on from there. They told us not to have sex, but were pushing condoms and contraception at us."

Kizzy's school also has a sexual health clinic, called Tic-Tac (Teenage information centre - Teenage advice centre). Both Kizzy and her parents blame the clinic for creating a culture of sexual activity in the school.

Kizzy said, "With the sex education and Tic-Tac you just got caught up in the whole thing of having sex. We got used to it. We thought it was just a joke really."

The government's announcement of a further £20.5 million pounds in support of their failed teenage pregnancy strategy follows their announcement two weeks ago to give bonuses to doctors to give contraceptive implants and jabs to teenage girls.

Sadly, the government will ignore Kizzy's eloquent testimony just as they ignore the soaring rate of sexually transmitted infections and the clear published evidence that "family planning" drugs and devices, and increased access to it, increases the likelihood that teenagers will indulge in sexual activity. (Professor David Paton's paper "The economics of family planning and underage conceptions" is not available free online, but if you would like a copy please contact me.) The Government cares no more about young people than it does about their unborn children.

Enough's enough. To join SPUC's leafleting and petition campaign against the government's sex education strategy - establishing school based health and sex clinics in all secondary schools - contact

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Discrimination in favour of physical beauty and economics are driving eugenics

Pope Benedict, speaking over the weekend to the assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, provides an interesting analysis of modern eugenics - an analysis which finds support in a paper in the latest edition of Quadrant magazine, the "leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia", as the magazine describes itself.

Pope Benedict said:
" ... The disapproval of eugenics used with violence by a regime, as the fruit of the hatred of a race or group, is so rooted in consciences that it found a formal expression in the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights.' Despite this, there are appearing in our days troubling manifestations of this hateful practice, which present themselves with different traits. Certainly ideological and racist eugenics, which in the past humiliated man and provoked untold suffering, are not again being proposed. But a new mentality is insinuating itself that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights. There is thus a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable ...

" ... It is necessary, on the contrary, to consolidate a culture of hospitality and love that concretely testifies to solidarity with those who suffer, razing the barriers that society often erects, discriminating against those who are disabled and affected by pathologies, or worse - selecting and rejecting in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection. If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the first stage of development, that would mean that biotechnologies would surrender to the will of the stronger. Confidence in science cannot forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake."
Pope Benedict's thesis - that notions of physical perfection and beauty are factors driving medical killings of disabled babies - finds support in a paper entitled "Prenatal Diagnosis - Benefit or Betrayal" in the current edition of The Quadrant, by Dr Deirdre Therese Little, MBBS, DRANZCOG, FACRRM, the President of the organisation Obstetricians Who Respect the Hippocratic Oath. Dr Little writes:
"White pearls and white clothing, a genteel face softly made up, a thoughtful expression and fashionably controlled hair were the images chosen in 2000 to promote prenatal testing for 'Down Syndrome and other Chromosomal Abnormalities' to pregnant mothers. Representations of respectability and good order, maturity and beauty with a hint of purity adorn he promotional pamphlet. The desirability and acceptability of combining prenatal screening programs with antenatal care would seem beyond doubt in a well-ordered society, since they are investigations purchased by the socially responsible and respectable gentlefolk. Advertisers know how to wrap merchandise. No untoward displays of colour here, certainly no tattoos, no nose piercings—nothing unseemly disturbs the suitability of what this pamphlet is proposing to mothers—and yet, the murkiest tattoo, the ugliest nose ring would be less distorting than what this portrait of motherhood is selling ... "
Dr Little's paper also provides clear evidence of another theme explored at the Pontifical Academy for Life Conference last weekend, highlighted by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy - namely the economic forces which lie behind the killing of the disabled. Dr Little writes:
"A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on March 5, 2007, reported on declining rates of Down syndrome births in the private and urban sector but not in the public or rural sectors, according to Queensland researchers. Immediate indignation followed. A senior lecturer in maternal-foetal medicine at the University of New South Wales likened the findings to a disparity in the quality of cancer care. The Medical Journal ofAustralia concluded that recent economic analyses have shown that population-based screening probably represents value for money. When the costs of screening are offset against the life-time costs of caring for a person with Down syndrome, screening is less costly than no screening at all regardless of which screening strategy is used."
Exactly the same kind of arguments have been used in Britain to justify killing the disabled before birth, as Alison Davis, the leader of No Less Human, the UK disability rights' group, has pointed out.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Abortion: the tragedy disguised as a woman's right

I reported last week on how the majority of GPs are reported to oppose early medical abortions.

The tragic story of Manon Jones in today's Daily Mail suggests, perhaps, why doctors take such a view.

Is the apparent increase in the proportion of doctors opposing abortion an indication that society is reawakening to the fact that abortion is a horror both for mothers and for their unborn babies? The irony is that RU486 used away from a hospital or clinic will focus the horror upon women in the usually safe haven that is home.

For example, the mother of Manon Jones [Manon completed her abortion in hospital] made the following statement: "She was scared and I tried to reassure her. It was a very emotional experience for us both to witness her pass her baby and my grandchild into the bedpan."

The story of Manon Jones is also a reminder of the well-researched and well-referenced report of the US House of Representatives which showed how the approval process for RU486 in the US and the standard of care for women who may use it is lower than that for other pharmaceuticals. The report also highlights significant uncertainty surrounding the actual extent of adverse events occurring with RU486. If anything, the likelihood is that adverse events are significantly under-reported.

The comments from Dr Trevor Stammers, the chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship, in today’s Daily Mail story raises exactly the sames questions regarding the situation in Britain.

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, advisers to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, sent me the following comment on the questions behind Manon Jones's tragic story:
"One question that must be considered is this: why is a lower standard of care apparently being accepted in the case of RU486? Perhaps pregnant women seeking abortion are themselves prepared to accept higher risks in order to attempt to return life back to how it was before pregnancy.

"It is critical to recognise the desperation of women who are shocked by a pregnancy in adverse circumstances, and the attraction of the idea of a simple pill to make it all go away must not be underestimated. Such an idea is likely to be the vision that RU486 advocates have – that eventually the medical community will succeed in finding the right way to administer this magic pill, and then women will have control over their lives. This, of course, is wildly erroneous for a host of reasons.

"The zeal for RU486, despite its dangers, hints also at the dissatisfaction with surgical abortion which is often a traumatic experience. As some pro-life feminists like to say, 'been there, done that, hated it.' There are many aspects of surgical abortion that are horrible and many women will probably accept higher risk to avoid such an invasive, humiliating procedure. But it will be replaced by other traumatic experiences, perhaps even more so."
Pro-abortion advocates may argue that such experiences are a necessary part of the journey towards women’s liberation from the tyranny of fertility. Such a utilitarian perspective accepts the ‘collateral damage’ to women’s lives and health for the eventual progress of the whole.

So the real questions that bubble away under the surface are these:
  • Why are government authorities willing to accept sub-standard care for women in the case of abortion?
  • Why are an increasing number of doctors reported to be opposing abortion?
The answers to these questions have their roots in the reality that abortion is a moral and personal tragedy disguised as a woman’s right and privilege. The simple yet harsh reality of that tragedy is that the woman loses her own child in a procedure which puts her health, both physical and mental, at risk. For a paper, prepared by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, on the effects of abortion, write to me at

I give the last word to Margaret Cuthill, a post-abortion counsellor of 20 years' experience, national co-ordinator of British Victims of Abortion, who has frequently spoken out about her own abortion experiences.
"The nature of the RU486 procedure allows the medics to step back from performing abortions. This opens the way to allow specialist nurses to process the women, although the medics must prescribe the drugs. RU486 is a brutal procedure, from the perspective that vulnerable women are ignorant of the risks and the emotional trauma they may experience. They don’t know the questions to ask and believe they are being given all the information they need.

"As a counsellor, I have had to counsel the RU486 women over the trauma of the procedure before we could begin looking at the impact of the loss of the child. One woman thought she was bleeding to death but had been told the blood loss would be similar to a heavy period; another bled for 8 weeks after the procedure. Another was told that, because the tissue left after the procedure was small, they would let her bleed until it came away by itself. The other area where medics are ignorant of the risks of RU486, are those in the emergency departments of local hospitals, as highlighted in the death of Manon Jones."

Euthanasia and assisted suicide represent a culture of abandonment

Last night Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, attended a meeting held by ALERT, headed by Elspeth Chowdharay-Best, a redoubtable pro-life veteran who was one of the founders of SPUC. The meeting's guest speaker was Wesley J. Smith (pictured), one of the world's leading anti-euthanasia experts. Anthony draws attention to the following points in Wesley's talk:
  • it is ironic that the euthanasia and assisted suicide are being promoted at a time in history when palliative care is highly advanced
  • the anti-euthanasia activism of disability rights campaigners gives the lie to the accusation that the anti-euthanasia campaign is really a religious agenda
  • euthanasia and assisted suicide represent "a culture of abandoment"
  • it is noticeable that there are fewer suicide prevention hotlines
  • cited pro-euthanasia broadcaster Jenni Murray who is reported to have said that she "does not want to look after her sick and aging mother"; Mr Smith labelled this an example of today's "abandonment society"
  • most of the people whose suicide was assisted by Jack Kevorkian had no physical ailment
  • there is "suicide tourism to Switzerland"
  • doctors who agree to assist suicide generally don't care if patient can be treated.
  • the film Million Dollar Baby sends a message that people like Daniel James were right to kill themselves, a message of abandonment.
  • the concept of a right to choose the time, manner and place of one's death is ideological, not a real human or civil right
  • the two premises of euthanasia and assisted suicide are (1) radical individualism and (2) killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering
  • there is "doctor-shopping" and "Kevorkianism" in Oregon
  • 70%-80% of assised suicides in Oregon are facilitated by the Hemlock Society.
  • the supposed safeguards on the assisted suicide law in Oregon are violated with impunity, and the safeguards are in reality all smoke-and-mirrors
  • there are 900 cases of euthanasia without request or consent in the Netherlands every year, plus 80-90 cases of infanticide (eight percent of all deaths of born children)

Monday 23 February 2009

SPUC petitions against access to abortion through schools

British government advice reportedly tells parents not to say to their teenage children that having sex is wrong. Ms Beverley Hughes MP, children's minister (pictured right with some condoms), says parents should advocate birth control to their sons and daughters, and the government explained she included 13-year-olds (who are under the age of consent). Such advice will be in Talking to your Teenager About Sex and Relationships, a pamphlet available from pharmacists from Thursday-week (5 March). Dr Patricia Morgan, the British-based social researcher, says young people do heed their parents when they say they disapprove of underage sex.

The government's teenage pregnancy strategy is failing yet here we have ministers telling parents to give value-free sex education and even to go with their under-age daughters to the GP's surgery to get birth control. Even worse, schools are being used to promote access to abortion without parental involvement.

SPUC is launching a petition to the prime minister on such access to abortion through schools. The preamble to the petition points out that the government is:
  • establishing school based health and sex clinics in all secondary schools

  • giving school nurses and advisors (such as Connexions ‘personal advisors’) a clear remit to refer for abortions without informing parents

  • insisting that information on how to get an abortion is included in sex education lessons – and making these lessons compulsory for all children.
The main message of the petition is: "We the undersigned call upon the Prime Minister to stop schools being used to promote or facilitate abortion."

SPUC has produced a flyer about the petition and you can request a copy of the petition to sign by emailing

Saturday 21 February 2009

Empty red envelope campaign: to President Obama at the White House

Readers might be interested in a campaign launched in the US: the Red Envelope Project. Brad Mattes, the chief executive of Life Issues Institute, wrote to me about it. In view of the worldwide implications of Barack Obama's pro-abortion policies (see my post: The party's over: Obama signs order to abort the world's poor), this is a campaign in which citizens of other countries may wish to become involved.

Dear Mr Smeaton,

If you’re not familiar with the Red Envelope Project, allow me to fill you in. It’s catching on like wildfire.

The idea is to send an empty red envelope to President Obama at the White House. On the back is this simple message: "This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world."

The red color represents the blood of over 50 million unborn babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of "choice". The goal is to have a tidal wave of red envelopes flood the mailroom of the White House.

The brainchild behind this project is Christ (rhymes with mist) Otto. The idea came to him during a time of prayer. He wants to send President Obama a message of moral outrage regarding his support of abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy. Mr. Otto says the red envelope message would be "quiet but clear".

Life Issues Institute is proud to partner with Christ Otto to assist him in this noble and moving effort. Our goal is to streamline the process and make a terrific idea even more successful.We’re printing huge quantities of these red envelopes, complete with the President’s address on one side and the pro-life message on the other.

Purchasing them in large quantities affords everyone a better price; it eliminates the need to locate and shop for red envelopes; and they come preprinted and ready to be mailed. All participants need to do is seal the envelope, stick on a first-class stamp and mail. It’s easy!

This nonpolitical message makes it a great fit for churches. Imagine the number of red envelopes that can be inserted into Sunday bulletins in churches throughout the nation. It’s an excellent opportunity for the pastor to speak on the issue of abortion, remember the unborn and their mothers in prayer, and have the congregation participate in standing up for life. Those who don’t already know the President’s position on abortion soon will, and they can pray for his pro-life conversion.

The appeal of the Red Envelope Project is that it’s so easy and inexpensive to do!Ideas for getting others to participate are endless. In addition to churches, pro-life groups can include an envelope with newsletter and other mailings to its membership. Red envelopes can be given to neighbors, friends and coworkers.

Anyone and everyone who wants to send a message to President Obama that unborn babies should be protected from abortion should be given the opportunity to send in their envelope. Join a rapidly growing number of people who are sending an unmistakable message to President Obama.

It’s simple to order your preprinted red envelopes. Click on and follow the easy directions. I’ve also posted various ideas on how you can get others to help send more envelopes to the White House at share this message with others in your email address book. Link our ordering page with your own website, Facebook page or other presence on the Internet. Include your friends around the world. We want everyone to participate.

Be a part of this new tidal wave of individuals who are standing up for America’s unborn babies!

Sincerely for the little ones,

Bradley Mattes, Life Issues Institute

Thursday 19 February 2009

Purdy verdict welcome but judges' comments disturbing

Today the Court of Appeal rejected Debbie Purdy's case against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the subject of assisted suicide and prosecution. SPUC was an intervener before the court and readers may be interested in SPUC's comments (below) on today's judgment:

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary (pictured), said: "While the dismissal of the appeal is to be welcomed, we are disturbed about the court's approach to disabled people. The dismissal of the appeal in the Purdy case is the result that all the parties must have expected. M/s Purdy was asking the DPP to issue a policy, which, as he points out, he does not have. The legal arguments against M/s Purdy's request were conclusive.

"Today's judgment, however, is disturbing in that the judges seem to have shown support for the idea that some (disabled) people are right to want to die (see §§6-7). The judgment acknowledges the wrongfulness of giving practical assistance to people who want to die (§22), but asserts that it may be "inexpedient to take action against relatives for assisting a disabled person's suicide" (§24). The presumption underlying this thinking is that the lives of people who are enduring long-term disabilities are of low value, and should not be protected in the same way as other people.

"We have great sympathy for Mrs Purdy because of her medical condition, but her legal case is misguided and dangerous. Suicide is a course of action which every right-thinking person naturally discourages. If we favour suicide for some individuals who are suffering, we send a message to all those who are sick or disabled that their lives are not worthwhile.

"This case is not about people with terminal illness. Both M/s Purdy and the late Daniel James, whose case is also discussed extensively in the judgment, are instances of people with long-term disabilities (M/s Purdy herself - disabled through disease, and the late Mr James - disabled by an injury). They are not terminally ill people. The implications of the judges' comments may affect disabled people widely.

SPUC, which is a member of the Care not Killing alliance for promoting palliative care and upholding the right to life of the disabled and terminally ill, shares the concerns expressed by disability activists like Jane Campbell, in Community Care (15 January 2009): "Jane Campbell, chair of the disability committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, believes the [Daniel James] case sends out a dangerous signal. She says that while it may seem like a personal matter the drip, drip effect of letting such cases go has big implications for society. 'While I completely understand the family have to live with the consequences of their actions, [the Crown Prosecution Service] has got to start prosecuting otherwise it sends out a message that it's OK to help people die,' she says."

[Paul Tully continued): "The recent case brought before the GMC against Dr Iain Kerr, the Glasgow doctor who gave lethal drugs to a suicidal patient, indicates that rules to protect vulnerable patients can be enforced with effective action.

"In the Purdy case the court is being targeted by the euthanasia lobby as a forum for advancing the arguments for assisted suicide, despite the fact that the judges say that they take no side in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide. M/s Purdy's predicament is clearly being used to advance the euthanasia agenda. The fact that the judgment is trimmed with florid expressions about M/s Purdy and her husband (see §§ 8, 81) indicates strong support for the practice of assisted suicide in such cases."

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Papal rebuke to Nancy Pelosi is a message for all anti-life Catholics in public life

Mrs Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, (pictured) has been firmly rebuked by Pope Benedict when she visited him at the Vatican today, albeit in the measured, diplomatic language of the Holy See.

The papal rebuke sends a clear message to Catholics in public life who promote and support anti-life legislation. She has described herself as an ardent, practising Catholic and her views on life issues closely mirror those of Tony Blair, recently received into the Catholic Church, who has refused to repudiate the anti-life laws and policies he steadfastly pursued throughout his political career. Nancy Pelosi's appalling voting record on abortion (including coercive abortion), population control, human embryo research, human cloning and a host of other issues, can be found here.

The following terse statement appeared today on the Holy See website:

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Monsignor Barreiro told me today: "A Press Release of this importance it is always published at least with the approval of the Secretary of State. "

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Worrying news about teachers' draft code

I am very worried about news from the Christian Institute concerning a new draft code of conduct and practice by the General Teaching Council. The Christian Institute explains:
"The GTC is the professional regulatory body for teaching. No person may teach in a state school unless they are on the GTC’s register of qualified teachers. Those who wish to register must sign the declaration, 'I understand that as a registered teacher I am required to comply with the code of conduct and practice for registered teachers.'"
Colin Hart, the Christian Institute's director, has commented:
“Christians would support most of the code, but many are alarmed by the new diversity rules. Under the code, Christian teachers will be required to ‘proactively combat discrimination’ and ‘value diversity’ based on religious belief and sexual orientation. The code rightly requires that teachers should respect their colleagues and those they teach. But respect for people as people is not the same as respecting or valuing every religious belief or sexual lifestyle. Forcing this on Christian teachers is to force them to go against their conscience.”
Arguably the greatest pro-life thinker and leader of the 20th and 21st century was Pope John Paul II, as people of all faiths and none have acknowledged.

In Evangelium Vitae paragraph 97, Pope John Paul II taught that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.* Yet the GTC's draft code, according to the Christian Institute, could interfere with that authentic education and formation, in the following hypothetical examples:
  • "A university department of education asks all applicants for teacher training courses to affirm their willingness to promote gay rights"
  • "A homosexual group writes to schools claiming that [the code] means all schools must use materials designed to promote acceptance of homosexuality."
You can express your concerns about the GTC's draft code, by responding to the GTC's consultation by 27 February - click here.

*The truth of Pope John Paul II's teaching can be understood in moves to recognize marriage between homosexual couples. The achievement of such an objective necessarily involves changing the understanding of sexual intercourse, so that the conception of children through sexual intercourse becomes all the more clearly an optional add-on. In such a social environment unborn children are certain to become all the more disposable.

Monday 16 February 2009

SPUC’s general election campaign starts now

SPUC’s general election campaign starts now.

Please see pictured a copy of the Society’s general election flyer.

You’re right. The date of the next general election has not been announced. It might be as late as June 2010. But if we want to make the right to life a voting issue in your local constituency(ies) at the next general election, it’s essential to start work now.

As Cardinal O’Brien, the archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said in a message to SPUC last week: "I have supported many pro-life causes in recent years, including efforts to eradicate world poverty, opposition to euthanasia and speaking against the possible replacement of the Trident Nuclear System – but I see the most fundamental issue at this present time is that of the basic right to life itself, which must be of basic concern to us all in the next general election".

Cardinal O’Brien is right. With 4,000 babies killed by abortion every week, the right to life the most important issue facing society. There are other issues, of course, but this one is so fundamental, and the scale of the injustice is so huge, it's the top priority political issue for citizens concerned about the common good.

If we are going to convince a growing number of our fellow-citizens that the right to life is the most important issue facing Britain, we need to start work now. If we leave it too late, our last-minute efforts will simply be overwhelmed by media attention to other issues.

Please order flyers, organize a group of local volunteers, and give out the flyers as widely as possible in your local constituency(ies). It’s essential that we begin arousing public concern. You may wish to organize a team to give out leaflets door-to-door. You may wish to go out on the high street. You may have a good relationship with your local clergy. If your local clergy are supportive, ask if you can make an appeal for leafleters at church services.

Please email to order flyers or for more information.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Don't be fooled: Obama and Clinton are funding forced abortions in China

In a horrifying report in today's Times, Chinese women are said to be angry about China's policy of forced abortion, compulsory sterilisation and infanticide

It's a tragic irony that, reportedly, Chinese women (and possibly The Times) are pinning their hopes on the Obama administration - and specifically on Hillary Clinton, Obama's Secretary of State who's visiting China this week - to stand up for human rights and speak up for women on this issue.

One of Barack Obama's first actions as President was to restore funding to UNFPA (and other organisations promoting abortion overseas), whose involvement in the forced abortion regime in China and elsewhere is all too well documented.

  • In 1979, the very year that China introduced its brutal one-child policy, UNFPA signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Chinese government.
  • In 1983, the year commonly regarded as the worst year for coercion, UNFPA gave one of its first two Population Awards to the minister-in-charge of China’s State Family Planning Commission. (The other award that year was given to Indira Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, whose government enforced compulsory birth control including sterilisation.)
  • In 1985, Rafael Salas, UNFPA’s then executive director, told Premier Zhao Ziyang that "China should feel proud of the achievements made in her family planning program." (reported by The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper).
  • In 1991, UNFPA's then executive director Nafis Sadik said: "China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth.” (Xinhua, 11 April 1991) In 2002 China's State Family Planning Commission gave Nafis Sadik its own Population Award.
  • In 1999, UNFPA aided and abetted "ethnic cleansing" by indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic by assisting his regime's plan "to limit or forbid the enormous increase of the birthrate in Kosovo".
  • In 2001, Thoraya Obaid, the new UNFPA executive director, said that over the past 20 years, China had seen notable achievements made in population control by implementing the family planning policy.
  • In 2001, research by the (pro-life) Population Research Institute (PRI) found that UNFPA was complicit in population control against Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
  • In 2003, UNFPA exploited the aftermath of the war in Iraq to launch a campaign to provide "reproductive health" to Iraqi refugees. ("Reproductive health" is a euphemism which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined as including abortion on demand.

In The Times report about Chinese women's growing anger we read:

" ' ... Six days before the due date, 10 strong strangers came to my house, forced me into a truck then took me to a family planning clinic, where the doctor gave me an injection,' she said.

"'The child began struggling in my womb and one of these scum even kicked me in the abdomen. Then the baby came out and they threw it into a rubbish bin. I could even see it was still moving ... '"

The Times report continues:

" ... Clinton annoyed the Chinese regime with a speech at a 1995 women's conference in Beijing in which she said: 'It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have an abortion or sterilised against their will.'

"Now Clinton is predicted to tackle Beijing on a broader range of issues than the economics-focused approach taken by the Bush administration. She has signalled that she will take a firmer stand on human rights ... "

Whatever Hillary Clinton's human rights rhetoric, the only way Chinese women can judge her real intentions is to see whether or not she disassociates herself from Barack Obama's policy spelled out clearly last month in these words: " … I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund ... "

So I say to the women of China and to The Times - Don't be fooled: As things stand, Obama and Clinton are funding the forced abortion regime in your country.

Friday 13 February 2009

Bonuses for doctors to give contraceptive implants is financing the culture of death

The government has announced today yet another disastrous policy - bonuses for doctors to give contraceptive implants and jabs to teenage girls, in order to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate.

This has a faint echo of the global financial crisis, in which the senior management of failed banks are still being paid bonuses despite their complicity in the crisis. The government's teenage pregnancy strategy and its accompanying provision of more contraception and so-called sexual health services is an abject, manifest failure. Below are my comments (JS) on extracts from the government's document issued today.

"We are also investing £6 million over the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 to support PCTs and further education colleges to improve information and advice on contraception to young people in further education. Over time, we expect these colleges to extend the range of health advice available, to support students in developing healthy lifestyles. Further education colleges and PCTs will be expected to forge strong links, together with other providers of health and wellbeing services, including the voluntary sector." JS: This means that once further education colleges are flooded with birth control, the government will enforce access to abortion.

"Evidence demonstrates that England compares poorly with the best-performing countries in a number of key public health areas." JS: And who has been in overall charge of public health in England since 1997? Hasn't it been the Labour government, the authors of the document?

"It is important that young people have access to consistent, evidence-based advice to support them in making healthy choices, and that society supports them in those choices. " JS: The evidence shows that using birth control and having abortions are unhealthy choices. The Government’s strategy of promoting birth control, including abortion, as some sort of panacea for society’s ills is not solving any problems - as the secular media have themselves pointed out again and again.

"Since the launch of our Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, we have reversed the previous upward trend in teenage pregnancy" JS: In fact, the latest figures show that the rate of teenage pregnancies has increased. And the record shows that the number of teenage pregnancies had already started falling before the strategy began; and the rate of decrease started to slow once the strategy began to be implemented on the ground.

"[W]hile we have seen reductions in some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), young people aged 16 to 24 still account for nearly half of STIs diagnosed despite making up only 12% of the population." JS: The rate of STIs has increased massively since the start of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. This is hardly surprising. Professor David Paton, who holds a chair in Economics at Nottingham University, has shown in a paper entitled "The economics of family planning and underage conceptions" (this paper is not available free online, but if you would like a copy please contact me) that family planning, and increased access to it, increases the likelihood that teenagers will engage in sexual activity.

"We have set out clear guidance to local areas on what works to reduce teenage pregnancy, drawn from the international evidence base and learning from areas with declining rates. Critical to accelerating progress is improving young people’s knowledge and use of effective contraception. Research in the USA found that 86% of the decline in the US teenage pregnancy rate was due to improved contraceptive use." JS: As if the government would know what works! The government only really listens to abortion and contraception providers, who have a vested interest in ensuring that the "evidence base" presented to governments suggests that governments give them more money and business opportunities. This research, on which the government relies, is no exception. A report in Science Daily about this research refers to "the study by Dr. Santelli of the Mailman School in conjunction with researchers at the Guttmacher Institute". The Guttmacher Institute is a semiautonomous division of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the leading pro-abortion body in the United States.

JS: Indeed, Professor Paton points out in the paper to which I refer above: "I find no evidence that greater access to family planning has reduced underage conceptions or abortions. Indeed, there is some evidence that greater access is associated with an increase in underage conceptions..."Elsewhere, Prof. Paton discusses a principle which in the insurance industry is called “moral hazard”. The principle is that the greater the level of coverage afforded by any insurance scheme the more likely the insurance holder will be to take chances. Applying this principle to the current debate, Prof. Paton explains: "For those youngsters who are not opposed in principle to abortion, it provides a way in which, if pregnancy occurs, birth can be avoided, i.e. if pregnancy occurs either through failed or non-use of contraception, there is a possible let out clause."

"We are therefore looking for a step change in both awareness and provision of the full range of contraception, including LARC [long acting reversible methods of contraception]." JS: "A step change" means more pressure for abortion, not least because LARCs act not just contraceptively but also abortifaciently.

"From 2009-10 onwards, GPs will be given greater incentives, through the Quality and Outcomes Framework, to provide advice on sexual health – specifically advice on contraception, particularly long acting methods. To strengthen provision of contraception at abortion services, the standard NHS contract for 2009-10 includes a new clause to ensure that abortion providers improve access to contraception." JS: This means that doctors will be paid to facilitate increased sexual activity and abortion.

"Key to ensuring that all young people get the high quality support they need is for local authorities and PCTs to work together on joint needs assessments and to jointly commission contraception and sexual health services in the health, school/college and community youth settings that meet the needs of their teenage population." JS: There is nothing here at all about the role of parents. This glaring omission is yet more evidence that the government is determined to introduce children into the abortion culture - the culture of death which they work so hard to promote.

"We will shortly be publishing best practice guidance to provide specialist advice on commissioning reproductive health services." JS: The government defines "reproductive health" as including a right to abortion on demand.

"Working with the National Children’s Bureau, we will be developing a resource pack for schools..." JS: The National Children's Bureau sounds like an impartial official body. In fact, it is a radically pro-abortion and anti-family non-governmental organisation.

"To improve young people’s awareness, the Department of Health, with the Department for Children, Schools and Families, are developing a new information campaign aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge and trust in the full range of effective contraceptive methods, to be launched later this year. " JS: Trust? How can anyone trust contraception? To use contraception is to play Russian roulette with unplanned pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease - the more one uses it, the more likely those things are to happen. There is no mention in the government's document about reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse, delaying the age of first intercourse or restricting intercourse to one long-term partner, let alone anything about abstinence. Yet it is the consistent and thorough promotion of abstinence encouragement which has been proven to work safely.

One needs to ask: Cui bono? Who benefits from the government's strategy? It would seem to be abortion providers, contraceptive manufacturers, the sex industry, and those doctors and other health professionals who let down their profession by going along with the government's policy. All at the expense of young people's health and happiness and disposable unborn children.

If you are reading this in England and Wales - and if you concerned about what the Government is imposing on our children, perhaps you will organize a meeting in your area at which I, or one of the SPUC team would be happy to speak. Contact me at

Thursday 12 February 2009

Human Rights Council notes Malaysia's low maternal mortality and strict abortion law

Yesterday in Geneva, the Human Rights Council "reviewed the fulfilment of human rights obligations by Malaysia". Pat Buckley, representing the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, was present at the meeting for the presentation of Malaysia's national report which highlighted "strides made in the area of maternal health".

This is significant in view of Malaysia's comparatively strict abortion policies and the pro-abortion lobby's claim that Barack Obama's executive order to allow funding for abortion overseas is necessary in order to combat maternal mortality.

Malaysia's experience is reflected in other parts of the world with comparatively restrictive abortion legislation such as Northern Ireland where the maternal mortality rate is the lowest in the UK; and the Republic of Ireland, with its constitutional ban on abortion, which has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world, according to figures published by the World Health Organization in 2007.

Pat reports on the Holy See's intervention which praised Malaysia's achievement in these words:
"While maintaining its restrictive abortion policies, Malaysia has made great strides in achieving the [Millennium Development Goal] on maternal health. The level of maternal mortality has diminished close to that of the most developed countries, according to the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme]. A near hundred percent of births is now assisted by skilled birth attendants. Malaysia has to be commended for this achievement."
Highlighted at the Human Rights Council meeting was the World Development Report 2006, published by the World Bank, which indicated that, by making midwives widely available in rural areas, Malaysia dramatically reduced maternal mortality rates. The World Bank report states:
"Despite huge improvements in health, survival, and fertility around the world in recent decades, global maternal mortality has not declined significantly. Two exceptions are Sri Lanka and Malaysia. In Sri Lanka the maternal mortality ratio—the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births—dropped from 2,136 in 1930 to 24 in 1996. In Malaysia it dropped from 1,085 in 1933 to just 19 in 1997.

"What can account for this impressive decline? Improving access for rural and disadvantaged communities was an important part of the strategy in both countries. Sri Lanka and Malaysia made competent, professional midwives and supervisory nurse-midwives widely available in rural areas. Midwives assisted deliveries in homes and small rural hospitals and performed initial treatment in the event of complications. They were given a steady supply of appropriate drugs and equipment and supported by improved communication, transportation, and backup services. Besides reducing financial and geographic barriers, they also helped overcome cultural obstacles and allegiances to traditional practices. Because midwives were available locally and were well respected, they developed links with communities and partnerships with traditional birth attendants.

"Malaysia and Sri Lanka pursued other complementary strategies. Transportation (in Malaysia) and transportation subsidies (in Sri Lanka) were provided for emergency visits to the hospital. In Malaysia, health programs were part of integrated rural development efforts that included investment in clinics, rural roads, and rural schools. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, the government invested in free primary and secondary education, free health care, and food subsidies for all districts. The concept was that basic health care acts in synergy with education and other types of infrastructure. For example, better roads make it easier to get to rural health facilities and facilitate transportation of obstetric emergencies. By addressing the multidimensionality of equity, these countries made significant health gains. Dramatic improvements in maternal mortality are thus possible.

"Just as important, the experiences of Malaysia and Sri Lanka show that these can be attained with only modest expenditures. Since the 1950s, public expenditures on health services have hovered between 1.4 and 1.8 percent of GDP in Malaysia and averaged 1.8 percent in Sri Lanka, with spending on maternal and child health (MCH) services amounting to less than 0.4 percent of GDP in both countries. Countries with similar income levels have significantly higher health expenditures and similar, if not higher, maternal mortality ratios. Source: Pathmanathan and others (2003)." (Page 144)

Wednesday 11 February 2009

"President Blair" of Europe and President Obama - the pro-abortionists' dream team

"Tony Blair is poised to become the first President of Europe after it was confirmed that French leader Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to help him win the post", the Daily Mail reported last week.

And about this time last month the Guardian carried an interview with Tony Blair in which he suggested he wanted to be European President.

It might seem a distant prospect ... but if Blair became President of Europe during Obama's presidency of the US, it would be the pro-abortionists' dream team.

Tony Blair, the UK’s former Prime Minister is one of the world’s leading architects of the culture of death. Since being received into the Catholic Church he has refused to repudiate the anti-life laws and policies he steadfastly pursued throughout his political career. Indeed he's reportedly determined to continue his anti-life, anti-family agenda.

As for Obama - just check his record on the US National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) website "A closer look at Senator Obama's position on abortion" And last month, in one of his first Presidential actions, he signed an order "that will put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of organizations that aggressively promote abortion as a population-control tool in the developing world" according to NRLC.

Obama's executive order to abort the world's poor represents a policy pursued relentlessly by Tony Blair's government and is a policy with which he remains closely associated through the Faiths Act Fellowship, an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, on which I blogged recently. It's also a policy closely associated with Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair, also a Catholic, who endorses the work of CEDAW committee (as well as other radical pro-abortion groups) - and specifically its work on "reproductive rights". The CEDAW committee is notorious among pro-lifers for using the CEDAW convention to bully countries into allowing abortion, even though the convention doesn't mention abortion.

Earlier this week, I reported on LifeSite's interview with Archbishop Burke who said: "There's not a question that a Catholic who publicly, and after admonition, supports pro-abortion legislation is not to receive Holy Communion and is not to be given Holy Communion". I made the point that it would be good to obtain further advice from the archbishop as to what ordinary Catholics can do to assist their priests and bishops in doing "their duty", as he puts it, in this regard. With Tony Blair's interest in the European presidency reportedly powerfully backed by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French leader, that advice is now more urgently needed.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Family doctors oppose early medical abortion which politicians want

The pro-life movement in Britain and Northern Ireland will be encouraged to hear of the report in today's GP Newspaper Online about a high level of opposition to abortion amongst GPs.

The report states:
"61% of GPs who responded to this newspaper’s GP Attitudes survey did not believe that practices should be offering [early medical abortions] at all."
GP Newspaper Online goes on to say that more than half of GPs believe that offering early medical abortions will increase the overall abortion rate.

This is significant in view of the Government's recommendation to primary care trusts to "establish an early medical abortion service and also a local abortion service where there is none currently ... "

In addition, my readers may recall that David Cameron MP, the leader of the Conservative Party, and Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, are on record as supporting early medical abortions and for reviewing the (legal) restritions on nurses providing medical abortions.

All of this tells us not to lose heart. There is a lot of support in the community for pro-life values - and opposition to abortion - and we must keep up the fight, not least by reaching out to doctors and nurses with our campaigns, and keeping up the pressure on our politicians. In this connection, let me know if you want to help in SPUC's general election campaign. Contact me at

Monday 9 February 2009

The end of human cloning

"We got beautiful little hybrid embryos, but it didn't work no matter how hard we tried", said Dr. Robert Lanza of Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology, one of the authors of a study* which shows (as Reuters puts it): Animal-human clones don't work.

James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D. from the US (pictured), a leading stem cell scientist, senior scientist at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, who has travelled the world pointing out the inefficacy of embryonic stem cell research to his scientific colleagues, says:
"What should we, the people, think, when the experts disagree on an issue that affects us all deeply and in ramifying ways? And, more importantly, what should we expect from our elected representatives when they consider the cooing of their bevies of famous experts to be above the earnest contention of moral experts? Well, we could passively wait to see if either side proves to be right long after irreparable harm has been done to ourselves and to our fellows. We could resign ourselves to a condition in which many of our elected representatives rarely represent the rights of any but those who are the strongest economically and politically. Or, we could use our common sense to decry deception when we see it and reject such a state of affairs. Moreover, we should demand no less from our representatives, no matter how high their rank.

"In 2008, ignoring many voices of morality, ethics, and scientific reason, the British Parliament approved the controversial HFE bill, which included allowances for scientists to produce and destroy animal-human hybrid embryos. Approving MPs wrapped themselves tightly in the deceptive cloaks of “necessary and desirable” and dispatched underneath them the true principles at issue, ethical and sound. When experts disagree, we the people, and our representatives, must look beyond what is being said, to who is saying it, and why. Gentle UK scientists, of ethical bearing, with expert knowledge, and nothing to gain, courageously risked their station in their profession to object that making animal-human hybrid embryos was not only unethical, but also unsound scientifically. Not only did they adamantly predict that it would not work and, therefore, waste the people’s resources, but they also knew that it could not work. These scientists stepped forward to protect embryonic persons and the people’s resources from their noted colleagues, who called their protests rubbish, who misled the desperate hopes of the sick and injured, and who had everything to gain, starting with the people’s research funds. Where conflict of interest lives, there also live impropriety and dishonesty.

"So, here we are now, less than a year later, and the UK now has the benefit of a report from a prominent U.S. stem cell company announcing sheepishly that animal-human hybrid embryos are [rubbish] (Chung et al., 2009, Reprogramming of Human Somatic Cells Using Human and Animal Oocytes. Cloning and Stem Cells 11, 1-11). For those trained in the science, this is not news, but instead a completed fate that was known from the beginning. If those UK scientists and selected MPs, who insisted on this research so that they might obtain [government] funds and other gains, were in fact genuine in their stated motivation, then we know now that, at a minimum, they are not 'experts' at all.

"Those who did and who continue to speak out against HFEA-sponsored human embryo research should not overlook a much more important revelation of the new Chung report that the news media missed as the more important finding. This report also discloses the first detailed analyses of human-human cloned embryos. Difficulty obtaining sufficient human eggs to conceive these human clones was the basis for pursuing animal-human hybrid embryo cloning in the first place. The report clearly shows that, for their promised use for new human therapies, cloned human embryos are also too defective. So, the big story that needs to be reported is that the Chung report discloses that human cloning itself is dead on arrival.

"We the people must also not overlook the human tragedy of the Chung study. It reports the in vitro conception of 49 cloned human embryos and 135 animal-human hybrid embryos. Though even honorable scientific experts might debate the humanity of the 135, there is no doubt that 49 human beings died senselessly and avoidably for this research, which yielded what was already known with a high degree of certainty. In the future, we the people, and more importantly our government representatives, must do better to listen to the experts who have nothing to gain but the honorable protection of innocent human lives."
* Young Chung, Colin E. Bishop, Nathan R. Treff, Stephen J. Walker, Vladislav M. Sandler, Sandy Becker, Irina Klimanskaya, Wan-Song Wun, Randall Dunn, Rebecca M. Hall, Jing Su, Shi-Jiang Lu, Marc Maserati, Young-Ho Choi, Richard Scott, Anthony Atala, Ralph Dittman, Robert Lanza. Reprogramming of Human Somatic Cells Using Human and Animal Oocytes. Cloning and Stem Cells, February 2009 DOI: 10.1089/clo.2009.0004

Sunday 8 February 2009

More advice needed from Archbishop Burke

Archbishop Raymond Burke (pictured), the head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's top canonical court, has said regarding Catholics who support pro-abortion legislation: "There's not a question that a Catholic who publicly, and after admonition, supports pro-abortion legislation is not to receive Holy Communion and is not to be given Holy Communion" (LifeSiteNews reports).

Archbishop Burke continues:

"The Church's law is very clear. The person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion, and it [Canon Law] doesn't say that the bishop shall decide this. It's an absolute."

He says: "I don't understand the continual debate that goes on about it."

This is an interesting and important statement about church law, in my view. It reflects, after all, what an awful lot of Catholics and non-Catholics are thinking who are a considerably less qualified in canon law.

Archbishop Burke offers clear guidance as to how bishops and priests must proceed with regard to prominent Catholics who support pro-abortion legislation. The archbishop says: "There's not a question that a Catholic who publicly, and after admonition, supports pro-abortion legislation is not to receive Holy Communion and is not to be given Holy Communion" (My emphasis).

LifeSite's report continues: "When asked what the solution was, [Archbishop Burke] responded, "Individual bishops and priests simply have to do their duty. They have to confront politicians, Catholic politicians, who are sinning gravely and publicly in this regard. And that's their duty. And if they carry it out, not only can they not be reproached for that, but they should be praised for confronting this situation."

It would be good to obtain further advice from the archbishop as to what ordinary Catholics can do to assist their priests and bishops in doing "their duty" as he puts it.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Catholic universities in US and Rome place African bishops in impossible position

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, (pictured), the archbishop of Johannesburg, has denounced biological colonialism whereby "Harvesting ovarian human eggs in Africa will help meet the needs of embryonic stem cell research in industrialised countries" in his presidential address to the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference who met last week.

In the same address, in a clear reference to the
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) he refers to "unscrupulous campaigners" intending to legalize abortion. The CEDAW committee is notorious among pro-lifers for using the CEDAW convention to bully countries into allowing abortion, even though the convention doesn't mention abortion.

As I have mentioned before, I am very sorry to say that Cherie Blair, a fellow Catholic, endorses the work of CEDAW committee (as well as other radical pro-abortion groups) - and specifically its work on "reproductive rights". On a page in the Women of the World section of her website, Mrs Blair says:

"The [United Nations] Convention [on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ... is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women".

"Reproductive rights" is a term commonly used to include abortion on demand.

The page on Mrs Blair's website ends by linking to the CEDAW committee, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW convention.

With Catholic universities in the US and Rome inviting Cherie Blair, a leading promoter of radical pro-abortion campaigning groups, to speak on subjects such as human rights and family life, it places African bishops seeking to protect their countries from "unscrupulous campaigners" in a well-nigh impossible situation.

Irish Government's deceit on right to life of unimplanted human embryo

Pat Buckley (pictured) has an excellent post on the right to life of the human embryo in Ireland. He provides the legal background to a case in the Irish Supreme Court in respect of the right to life of three unimplanted embryos.

Pat Buckley tells us that Mr Donal O’Donnell SC representing the Attorney General and the Irish State, told the court that an embryo is not an “unborn” within the meaning of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and that, in his opinion, the destruction of fertilised embryos prior to implantation in a woman’s womb is permitted under law.

Then why, Pat suggests, did the Irish Government ask the Irish people in 2002 to vote in a referendum on an amendment to the Constitution to limit legal protection to the child implanted in the womb?

Friday 6 February 2009

Why I won't be giving to the second collection for the Catholic Education Service

There's a second collection this weekend in many Catholic parishes in support of the Catholic Education Service (of England and Wales). I will not be making a contribution since I have a conscientious objection to doing so.

As a Catholic parent I am very concerned about the ambiguous policy of the Catholic Education Service which welcomes the presence in Catholic schools of Connexions. Connexions is a government agency which is committed to giving schoolchildren, under the age of 16, access to abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices without parental knowledge or permission. As a result of this policy, it's clear that children in Catholic schools are being given such access, in spite of Connexions' undertaking to respect the Catholic ethos of the schools.

Furthermore, The Telegraph reported in November that the National Children bureau and Sex Education Forum have called for every 11 to 18-year-old in England to be able to receive advice on contraception, pregnancy tests and screening for sexually transmitted diseases between lessons. Such advice can include confidential access to abortion.

The thinking behind the conclusions of the NCB/SEF reports is clearly set out in the Sex and Relationships Education Framework, the “core document” of the Sex Education Forum of which the Catholic Education Service is a member. It is a document to which all Forum members agree in order to meet membership criteria as it makes clear on page 4 of that document.

Surely the Catholic Education Service should dissasociate itself publicly from the NCB/SEF reports and begin actively and publicly to resist, and encourage parents, teachers and boards of governors to resist, the government's anti-life, anti-parent, pressures being brought to bear on schoolchildren?

Doctors must resist crime of euthanasia despite court decision, say bishops

A powerful statement from the Archbishop of Udine on the case of Eluana Englaro (pictured), who is facing death by starvation in the city of Udine, is part of a significant pattern. One Catholic bishop after another is appealing to health professionals to resist pressure to kill Eluana, despite last November's court decision granting her father permission to kill her by removing her feeding tube.

Like other outspoken comments by bishops, the Archbishop Pietro Brollo of Udine could not be more clear about the need for health professionals to resist the decision of the court that she can be starved to death. He says:
“Udine is ready to embrace Eluana Englaro, a daughter of this land. Upon learning of her arrival, I ask first of all that this woman be guaranteed care, hydration, nutrition and every means that someone who is sick, particularly someone who is very incapacitated, is due by those who have the professional duty in conscience to provide a cure.”
Last week I reported that Cardinal Severino Poletto, the archbishop of Turin, was reported to be urging Italian doctors to resort to conscientious objection if they are ordered to let Eluana Englaro—known as the Terri Schiavo of Italy—die of starvation.

And earlier this week, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, said in a newspaper interview that removing Eluana's feeding tube "is tantamount to an abominable assassination and the Church will always say that out loud."

Last weekend the archbishop of Bologna said in his homily: "In the body of this woman, and in her fate, there is an image of the fate of the West ... ".

These bishops are doing their pastoral duty to care for one vulnerable human being. Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae: "Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church". (EV, 3)

Their call for resistance also reflects papal teaching. Again Pope John Paul II wrote:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10)." (EV, 73)

Thursday 5 February 2009

Ethical issues concerning the Californian octuplets

All children are equally entitled to be welcomed and loved whatever the circumstances in which they came into this world. This truth, however, does not absolve us of the obligation to reflect on the rights and wrongs relating to the circumstances in which new people are conceived. I was therefore pleased to receive this response on the recent report about octuplets who have been born in California. It was sent by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, professional advisers on bioethics to SPUC.

The Californian Octuplets

The recent report that octuplets had been born in California is replete with uncertainties. The initial report simply stated that infertility treatment was used, possibly meaning that drugs were taken which increase the number of eggs released. However, a subsequent report in which the grandmother of the octuplets was interviewed, raised the possibility that the children resulted from the transfer of embryos left over from previous infertility treatment. In the same report, it has also become apparent that the existing six children of the woman were also conceived using IVF. The woman is single and it is unclear how the expensive treatments were funded. The family circumstances, in which the mother lives with her parents and her six existing children, appear very modest.

Presuming the reports to be accurate, there are a number of significant ethical issues that arise.

First, the intentional conception of children who will not have a father is unethical regardless of whether infertility treatment is used. There is a considerable consensus among experts that the best developmental circumstances for children exist when they are raised with their natural mother and father. Circumstances may arise following conception in which that is not possible, in which case options exists which are directed to protecting children and providing the best alternate circumstances. But to set out with the intention to deny children a father or mother shows disregard for their well-being.

Second, IVF clinics act irresponsibly by participating in such conceptions. The report that a sperm donor was used raises all of the ethical problems associated with sperm donors, in particular whether the children will ever get to know who their biological father is.

Third, if fertility drugs were used to increase the chance of multiple pregnancies when the health risks to children and mother are so well known and documented, the medical professionals involved have acted unethically by contributing to the initiation of such a high risk pregnancy. If multiple embryos were transferred, the clinics involved have also acted unethically, but with even greater irresponsibility given the apparent direct intention to cause a high risk pregnancy. A high order multiple pregnancy like this present serious risks to the life and health of the mother and the children in both the short term and long term.

Fourth, depending upon which IVF processes were used, numerous embryos may have been discarded as part of the ‘normal’ course of infertility treatment. This is one of the present realities of IVF treatment, regardless of the number of embryos transferred to the woman. Calls for infertility treatment to involve the transfer of just one embryo do minimize the chances of multiple pregnancies; however, even the transfer of a single embryo involves a range of ethical problems (see single embryo transfer document).

Fifth, both reports carry with them the implication that it would have been appropriate to abort some of the children once the high number was known. Such ‘selective reduction’ is a particularly horrible process that, if followed, would have meant the surviving children would eventually become aware of their chance survival whilst there brothers and sisters died at the abortionists hand. What psychological damage that would produce is unknown but potentially profound. It is to the mother of the octuplets credit that she refused to have any of the children’s lives terminated.

In conclusion, whilst the natural healthy birth of octuplets understandably raises awe and respect for medical staff who use their skill and expertise to ensure a safe arrival, the use of such skill in IVF treatment which deliberately places children and mother at such high risk cannot be met with the same admiration. Neither can admiration be held for medical professionals who so readily discard embryos as a normal part of infertility treatment. Even less can any admiration be held for some of the same medical personnel who would be ready to ‘selectively reduce’ - that is terminate - the lives of some of those children, whilst they grow alongside their siblings.