Tuesday 31 March 2009

Mr Ed Balls wants young people to distinguish right from wrong

Ed Balls (pictured, left), the secretary of state for children, schools and young people, has asked Ofsted, the school inspection office
"to carry out a survey of independent faith schools to examine how they are meeting the Independent Schools Standards relating to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils."
The press release from Mr Balls goes on to say that
"The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at the school meets the standard if the school promotes principles which [inter alia] enable pupils to distinguish right from wrong."
Are you, like me, somewhat struck by the irony here? Mr Balls last month issued a document which means, inter alia, that:
  • further education colleges will be flooded with birth control
  • doctors will be paid to facilitate increased sexual activity and abortion
  • parents will be continue to be marginalised from their children's moral development by the government and its ideological cronies.
Isn't it Mr Balls and his government colleagues who should be surveyed for their capacity to distinguish right from wrong? Such as the differences between:
  • welcoming newly-conceived human life on the one hand, and on the other hand killing an innocent human being on the ?
  • serving the well-being of young women on the one hand, and on the other hand permanently damaging their physical and/or psychological health?
  • upholding young persons' dignity on the one hand, and on the other hand giving them the wherewithal to degrade themselves sexually?
The next generation's ability to distinguish right from wrong is being damaged massively by the policies of Mr Balls and his government.

Monday 30 March 2009

Human embryos rather than animals must be used in testing says EU draft directive

Tomorrow (31 March) a committee of the European Parliament will vote on the issue of experiments using animals.

The Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) committee will consider a draft directive which has the potential to force European Union (EU) member-states to use human embryos and embryonic tissue (e.g. stem cells) instead of animals in testing. Although the draft directive does not at present explicitly mention human embryos, it could be used to force countries to demand that researchers use human embryos rather than animals.

SPUC is gravely concerned by the draft directive's potential to reduce the status of human embryos to below that of laboratory animals, and the abuse and destruction of innocent human life which would follow. It is essential for the protection of vulnerable human beings and the upholding of scientific ethics that the committee ensures that the draft directive is fully scrutinised according to the right to life and the dignity of the human person. Please express your concerns by emailing the following members and substitutes of the committee:

Neil Parish (UK), committee chairman, email neil.parish@europarl.europa.eu
James Nicholson (UK), member, email jnicholson@europarl.eu.int
Alyn Smith (UK), member, email alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu
Jeffrey Titford (UK), member, email jtitford@ukip.org
Mairead McGuinness (Ireland), member, email mairead.mcguinness@europarl.europa.eu
Liam Aylward (Ireland), substitute, email liam.aylward@europarl.europa.eu
Jim Allister (UK), substitute, email jim.allister@europarl.europa.eu
Brian Simpson (UK), substitute, email briansimpson.labour@virgin.net
Struan Stevenson (UK), substitute, email struanmep@aol.com
Robert Sturdy (UK), substitute, email rwsturdy@btconnect.com

Please remember to copy any replies you receive to Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, at political@spuc.org.uk

Saturday 28 March 2009

IVF: bad ethics, bad healthcare

The Independent newspaper has reported that a new study suggests that babies born following IVF have a 30 percent higher of certain genetic defects than babies conceived naturally. The report lists heart abnormalities, cleft lips, bowel problems and digestive tract disorders among the problems. The Independent quotes a father of IVF triplets, who explains that couples going through IVF are too desperate for a child to care much about risks.

SPUC and colleagues in other pro-life groups have been warning about the health risks of IVF to both babies and mothers for a long time. We have also been warning about the pressures that IVF imposes upon a couple's relationship. The risks of IVF are far more extensive that those highlighed in the Independent's report.

The double standards and inconsistency are hard to stomach. Doctors anguish over the increased risk of a baby with a heart defect or intestinal obstruction, and discuss the figures intently with desperate would-be parents. But what thought do they give to the dominant risk: that most IVF embryos die in the laboratory or are frozen and will never get to be born? Does that matter to the doctors?

The important truth behind all this is that if a so-called medical treatment (IVF doesn't actually treat infertility problems, it merely gets around them) has serious side-effects, the risks may make it unethical to use; and that if a procedure is unethical, the ethical judgement of those who practise it may be impaired. Even those who don't see inherent moral problems with IVF ought to recognise this problem.

NaProTech (Natural Procreative Technology) is an ethical, healthy and far more successful alternative to IVF. Unlike IVF, in NaProTech no embryonic children are killed or exposed to harm in the laboratory, and couples' relationships are strengthened. Spread the good news!

Friday 27 March 2009

David Paton on government's teenage pregnancy strategy

David Paton (pictured), chair of industrial economics at Nottingham University Business School, has written an article for the latest edition of the Nursing Times. I suggest reading it in full, though below are a few key quotations. Professor Paton's article, published before the proposal to allow advertising abortion and contraception on television hit the headlines, certainly helps reinforce the widespread feeling that advertising abortion on TV will do nothing to reduce the numbers.

Prof. Paton (among other things) says:
  • "[T]he latest data shows that pregnancy and abortion rates for under-16s are higher now than when the [government's teenage pregnancy] strategy was published [in 1999]."
  • "Many contraceptive methods offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Research published in Sex Education suggests that increased access to emergency contraception may be associated with higher teenage STI rates."
  • "On the positive side, the academic evidence is clear that involving parents in decision-making is crucial."
  • "[A]ll health professionals – and, indeed, taxpayers – should question the wisdom of PCTs spending scarce resources on measures such as school-based provision of emergency contraception that, at best, are ineffective and, at worst, may actually be contributing to poor sexual health among teenagers."

Thursday 26 March 2009

Broadcast advertising of abortion a "hammer blow" says bishop

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is considering lifting its ban on abortion agencies advertising through the broadcast media.

It's good to see Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue's timely comments on this latest development. He calls it "another hammer blow to the sanctity of life in this country" which comes "from the heart of the abortion industry" and he calls on society to offer "practical and compassionate support to women facing crisis pregnancies".

The ASA's proposal threatens to further commercialise the killing of unborn children. It would completely disregard the adverse effect of abortion on women's health. Agencies with a financial interest in abortion will be in a position to buy expensive broadcast advertising, whereas groups which provide objective information about abortion and its impact on women's health will be unlikely to afford to advertise.

Abortion agencies mislead women, by telling them that their unborn babies are just products of conception, and that abortion is not killing but simply ending a pregnancy.

The ASA has said that its move has been made in repsonse to government requests. That's because the government's sexual health strategy is failing and the government is now desperate.

I note the proposed requirement that any group advertising counselling services for pregnant women must make clear if the group does not refer women for abortion. SPUC will be scrutinising the ASA's proposals closely for any similar signs of potential discrimination against pro-life groups. The ASA already demonstrated a bias against pro-life groups when it attempted to ban advertisements which stated correctly that morning-after pills may cause early abortions.

SPUC's also concerned about the proposal to allow advertisements on television for condoms before the 9pm watershed. Such a move would only serve to sexualise young people, and the resulting promiscuity would lead to more abortions, more teenage pregnancies and more sexually transmitted infections.

What sort of culture are we handing on the next generation, where condoms and killing babies are offered alongside cornflakes and washing powder? We should try to be a culture of life and responsibility, not a culture of death and promiscuity. The ASA's reported move is going in totally the wrong direction: a "hammer blow" as the good bishop of Lancaster says.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Battle joined over life-issues at the UN

A great battle was joined at the UN early this month. Pro-life and pro-family non-governmental organisations were concerned that the US Obama administration would be well prepared to promote an anti-life agenda at the Commission on the Status of Women. The US delegation was actually ill-prepared and achieved little. SPUC's Peter Smith was there and his report is on the SPUC website. Our picture shows Ms Jeanne Head, the experienced pro-life lobbyist representing the US's National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), with SPUC's Patrick Buckley at the meeting.

Medics in Britain regularly hasten the deaths of long-term sick patients

Although time ran out on Monday for the House of Commons to debate Ms Hewitt's measure on assisting suicide, the issue could re-emerge in parliament. Furthermore, a study has found that medics in Britain regularly hasten the deaths of the long-term ill. The Guardian tries to minimise the fact that some hospitals are places where doctors kill patients by saying that it is very rare, yet the practice reportedly accounts for 2,500 deaths annually.

Responding to the Queen Mary University study on euthanasia, Dignity in Dying, the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society, says it wants assisted suicide and euthanasia, but with safeguards.

My colleague, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, says: "In fact, the evidence from the Netherlands shows that, even with safeguards, around 900 patients a year are being killed by doctors without request or consent, besides those who volunteer for death. In order to truly safeguard patients what is needed in the UK is wider understanding of the pain control available, and the rewriting of recent pro-euthanasia legislation and protocols to make clear that intentional killing is not acceptable.

"The 2005 Mental Capacity Act made it legal for doctors to kill incapacitated patients deliberately, and medical guidance on withholding treatment says that patients can be killed by starvation and dehydration. It is no wonder that cases like the deaths of six disabled people highlighted by Mencap have been blamed on discrimination. That is what the BMA guidance and recent legislation - for all their safeguards - encourage."

SPUC's Patients First Network (whose symbol is on the right) helps people let doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers know how they expect to be treated in hospital if they are mentally incapacitated. It also fights against euthanasia. It has a confidential phone service which you can call if you have any concerns in this area, whether you are a patient, relative or healthcare worker.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Flawed abortion guidance for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) has issued guidance on the circumstances in which abortion can be performed, and it is fundamentally flawed. My colleagues in the province warn that the policy could face a judicial review if it is not amended to reflect the true state of affairs.

Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "Abortion is a criminal offence in Northern Ireland not a medical procedure. A medical intervention to save the life of a pregnant woman is lawful, even if it risks the death of her unborn child. However, it is never lawful to perform any operation solely aimed at taking the life of a child. This remains the law and the guidance published by the department of health cannot change that.

"The guidelines are incorrect in relation to a medical professional's refusal to facilitate an abortion. The DHSSPS guidance cites advice from the General Medical Council in an attempt to convince objecting doctors that they should refer women to a colleague who will approve the abortion. However, no-one can be forced to co-operate in the performance of a criminal offence.

"Doctors should remember that GMC advice also states: 'Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health. To justify that trust you must show respect for human life and you must: Make the care of your patient your first concern.'

"Medical professionals have a duty to have respect for life and an ethical and legal duty of care owed to an unborn child as a patient. It is unacceptable for the health department guidelines to require anyone to put in place arrangements to facilitate the intentional killing of a child through abortion. On the contrary, a doctor has a moral and legal duty not to be involved in the deliberate killing of one of his or her patients.

"We believe the department of health has not listened to the concerns expressed by the Northern Ireland Health Committee. As a result these guidelines are fundamentally flawed. At present we are considering all of the options available to us to ensure that the law is fully reflected in the guidelines. If the department wishes to avoid a judicial review of this document then it must introduce serious changes right away."

Sunday 22 March 2009

IPPF attacks Pope to protect "big business"

It's little wonder that International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has led the attacks on Pope Benedict's for declaring that condoms are not the solution for AIDS. It's bad for big business.

As long ago as 1973, IPPF highlighted "family planning" as "big business" at their Planning for the Future International Conference held at Brighton, England, October 22-27, 1973. The report of a key paper at the conference states: "It is noted that family planning is big business … the role of the IPPF is to persuade people throughout the world to accept the need of family planning."

“Family planning” for IPPF, of course, includes “contraception”. And what could be worse for the promotion of condoms than a supremely authoritative figure as the Pope suggesting that condoms may make the AIDS problem worse?

How ironic that the very IPPF press statement attacking the Pope refers to the World Health Organization statement that "consistent and correct" condom use reduces the risk of HIV infection by 90 per cent, a point made in an excellent letter in The Times from Liz Todd.

Supposing research was to indicate that children reduced the risk of injury or death by 90% when playing with fire if they have a good water supply readily available. How would society view parents who allowed their children to play with matches on such a basis? Most reasonable people might conclude that sooner or later the children would have a serious accident, with or without a readily available water supply, whereas not playing with matches would eliminate the risk completely.

As Liz Todd points out: "If one’s partner has Aids or is HIV-positive, abstinence will eliminate the risk of contagion or death completely; condom use, however, will mitigate these risks by 90 per cent at best. Even the WHO report and statistics on condom use in Aids and HIV cases acknowledge this fact." And as Cardinal Murphy O'Connor points out on the same day in The Times: "It is certainly true that the widespread distribution of condoms can run the risk of greater promiscuity and that the best way to combat the Aids epidemic is by healthcare, education and fidelity in married life."

The Cardinal's observation regarding “the risk of greater promiscuity” leads us to another reason why IPPF attacks the Pope in order to protect big business. IPPF, as the world's largest non-governmental organization working to promote and provide "reproductive health services", promotes abortions worldwide. ("Reproductive health" is a term defined by IPPF as including access to abortion on demand: See IPPF's definition of "reproductive health" which includes the right to "their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law"; and see IPPF's definition of "fertility regulation" which includes "interrupting unwanted pregnancies".

Greater promiscuity can lead to more pregnancies which, in its turn, leads to more abortions.

In a different social context, for example, 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. Prof. Paton says: "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, Professor 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."

Yesterday in Angola, Pope Benedict called on his listeners to be aware of the "adverse conditions to which many women have been -- and continue to be -- subjected, paying particular attention to ways in which the behavior and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame … This forms no part of God's plan."

It’s Pope Benedict, not IPPF, who is defending the dignity of women – by opposing condoms which he rightly says can lead to the spread of AIDS and an increase in abortions. But then, unlike IPPF, Pope Benedict does not have a “big business” to protect.

Friday 20 March 2009

URGENT Suicide amendment Monday, contact your MP now

For UK readers: Please telephone and/or email your MP and urge him/her to oppose a pro-suicide amendment tabled yesterday by Patricia Hewitt (former health minister, pictured) to the Coroners & Justice Bill.

The amendment (which is a new clause in the bill) will be debated on Monday afternoon (23 March) if selected by the Speaker. The amendment's effect would be to make it lawful to help anyone travel to a country where so-called assisted dying is legal so that they can commit suicide. Although this amendment is primarily aimed at those who are disabled or chronically ill, it applies to anyone who may be suicidal - old, young, depressed, in debt, disabled, etc. It will make all those who may be suicidal easy prey to unscrupulous people. Ask MPs to oppose and vote against the amendment.

MPs can be contacted by email via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps and/or by telephone through the House of Commons switchboard number 020 7219 3000.

Please tell your friends and pro-life contacts. Please ask clergy to encourage their congregations to telephone their MPs urgently.

For further information contact SPUC by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by telephone on 020 7820 3129.

Responding to the BBC's reportage on the amendment, and Patricia Hewitt's interview this morning on the Today programme, Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said:

"This is a reckless and dangerous amendment that could lead to the deaths of many people if MPs do not read the text of the amendment carefully and recognise that it sanctions helping anyone to die - a teenager upset after failing exams or bullied at school, a businessman in debt, or a post-natally depressed mother. The euthanasia lobby have a track record of exploiting people who have lost hope and purpose in their lives. The appropriate response in a caring and civilised society is to help such people to regain their sense of self-worth and overcome suffering, not to tell them that they are right to want to die. But the MPs who have tabled this amendment are threatening the lives of all suicidal people whatever problem they face."

Text of amendment, tabled 19 March 2009 by Patricia Hewitt, Mr Crispin Blunt, Dr Evan Harris, Kevin Barron, Richard Ottaway and James Plaskitt:

"To move the following Clause:-

' (1) The Suicide Act 1961 (c.60) is amended as follows.

(2) After Section 2, insert -

'2ZA Acts not capable of encouraging or assisting suicide

An act by D is not to be treated as capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person ("T") if the act is done solely or principally for the purpose of enabling or assisting T to travel to a country or territory in which assisted dying is lawful.'."

Thursday 19 March 2009

Doctor in abortion of nine-year old Brazilian girl strongly opposes Catholic teaching: BBC World Service interview

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, heard Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque (pictured) being interviewed on the BBC World Service yesterday. He is the doctor in the tragic case of the nine-year old girl whose twins were aborted, which I have been writing about in recent days. Anthony has transcribed the interview and I publish it below.

Do pass this on. Dr Rivaldo is strongly pro-abortion and opposes church teaching on a range of issues - which throws significant light on the furore surrounding this case.
BBC World Service “Outlook” programme, Wednesday 18 March 2009

Presenter George Arney briefly describes the background to the story, then:

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: We’ve been providing services to the women and child victims of sexual violence for 13 years now. This girl had been sexually abused by her step-father since the age of six. Normally teenagers have their first period during the ages of 11 and 13 but some ovulate and menstruate earlier, especially when subject to early sexual stimulation, which was the case with this girl.

George Arney: When she came into your hospital, did she actually realise that she was pregnant, because she was so young at the time, she can’t have known very much about it?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: This girl is nine years old, and she comes from an extremely poor vilage in a rural part of our state. At all moments she behaved like a child. She had no idea about pregnancy and that she was carrying twins. She just acted like a child, she played with her toys.

George Arney: She came in, I think, complaining of stomach pains, I think. What kind of reaction did she have when she was told she was pregnant, and pregnant with twins, what’s more?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: It was the reaction of a child who doesn’t know what it means. She was perplexed and surprised with the situation, and she wanted relief from the pain that was bothering her. She didn’t associate it with becoming a mother. She never expressed that possibility. She just wanted relief from the discomfort, and never made the connection between the pain and giving birth to two children. She never expressed that opinion. She was pregnant with twins but the number of babies didn’t make any difference to her. What was bothering her was the stomach ache, that was all.

George Arney: Did she give her consent to the abortion? She must have presumably realised that she was pregnant before the procedure was carried out?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: Yes, she wanted to be free from the discomfort she was feeling. At all times her mother was with her, and she was being informed, and agreed with the procedures. Her womb was so large because she was carrying twins, and she’s such a small girl herself. If the doctors had allowed this pregnancy to develop, we would risk losing the child and the foetuses. In cases of rape of such a young girl, this kind of decision would require the parent’s consent. As well as the risk of death, the decision is with the doctors. In this case, it was made by the mother and the medical team.

George Arney: So what went through your mind, Dr Rivaldo? You could see that this girl was very young, she was in danger, but did you have to wrestle with your conscience before going ahead with the abortion, as you yourself are a Catholic, and you know full well that abortion is not permitted by the Catholic Church?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: I’m an active Catholic, but in this case I found myself before a nine-year-old girl who risked dying for being sexually abused. From the legal point of view the Brazilian law allows us to stop pregnancy resulting from rape or where there’s a risk of death. From the moral point of view, what we did was acceptable, something I would do to anyone close to me, even a relative. And from the religious point of view, our intention was to promote good. Despite the strict codes of the Catholic Church, we didn’t feel intimidated by these codes, so we acted to save the life of the child, which was most important. The religious laws were written by the clerics, and do not translate God’s words exactly. That gave us peace of mind, and we recognised that the Catholic Church has made, and continues to make, mistakes, and especially with regards to women’s rights in Brazil and the rest of the world. The Church is meddling inappropriately into these rights, which are internationally recognised human rights.

George Arney: That’s quite a strong criticism of the Catholic Church. Did you realise that when you decided to go ahead with the procedure that you might be excommunicated?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: I didn’t, never. But in fact, it isn’t the first time we’ve been excommunicated. When we started providing services to women victims of sexual violence, and offering them abortions 13 years ago, we were excommunicated then. But being excommunicated has never made me feel distant from God, and from my moral, legal and ethical principles. It’s a hard situation, but I didn’t feel threatened by God. I felt threatened by men.

George Arney: So how has this confrontation you’ve been having with the Church over these past 13 years impacted upon your own faith? It must be very difficult being at loggerheads with the Church and with the Vatican?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: Well, as a Catholic, I believe in God and see the mistakes by men in the name of God. Some positions of the Catholic Church, on birth control, against abortion, against homosexuality, in defence of celibacy, and other examples, only reinforce that the Church seems to be out of tune with people’s thinking, and people’s will, not God’s will, for God never mentioned any of that. Men wrote about that, and said it came from God.

George Arney: This whole business has caused quite a stir internationally as well as in Brazil, and even President Lula has condemned the Church for excommunicating you. What kind of reaction from the public have you had?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: We received thousands of messages of support from Brazil and abroad, and opinions polls conducted in the last weeks shows that the Brazilian society sided with this child and with the medical team. That showed that the question of abortion is a matter of public health in Brazil, and must be considered case-by-case. Restrictive laws do not improve public health, particularly women’s health.

George Arney: In this particular case, the outcry stems, doesn’t it, from the fact that the girl who was pregnant was so young and that she was raped by her step-father allegedly?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: In this particular case, it was the bishop’s attitude, by promptly excommunicating the mother and the medical team. We would expect him to show compassion towards the child, and try to understand the reasons underpinning the doctor’s decisions to carry out the abortion. I believe this is the reason why the public sided with the child and rejected the bishop’s reaction.

George Arney: What’s happened to the girl now, Dr Rivaldo, and what sort of impact do you think this is likely to have on her future life and on the life of her family?

Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque: The child is now being assisted by social workers, doctors and psychologists. I have the impression that the psychological harm caused the sexual abuse will never be reversed. I’m very concerned that this child may return to the life of poverty in which she lived with her mother and her sister, and she may again become the victim of renewed violence.

George Arney: Dr Rivaldo Mendes de Albuquerque, firm in his faith, despite being excommunicated by the Catholic Church.


Pro-abortion "Catholic" US Health Secretary's dilemma

The Kansas State Senate has passed a bill that would require that women seeking abortions be allowed to see an ultrasound image of their baby at least 30 minutes before the abortion.

Won't it be interesting to see how Kathleen Sebelius (pictured), the Kansas State Governor and President Obama's Secretary of State for health and human services, responds to this bill? She is a professed Catholic who supports abortion - or, as the pro-abortion lobby likes to put it, she supports "the woman's right to choose".

According to ChristianNewsWire: "Sebelius vetoed a similar bill last year. However, this time the bill passed both houses with a veto-proof majority. For her to oppose the legislation is to invite a rare veto override and challenge to her political power. "

Will pro-abortion "Catholic", Kathleen Sebelius, support a bill requiring health professionals to provide women with all the information possible before having an abortion? Watch this space.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Declaration of the archdiocese of Olinda and Recife on Brazilian abortion case

I blogged earlier this week on the real issues in the tragic case of the nine-year old girl in Brazil whose twins were aborted and last week when the news broke .

Today, in Rorate Caeli, those most closely involved with the pastoral care of the little girl at the centre of this case have made a statement.

I think it's important to read it in order to obtain a more balanced picture of how the Catholic Church acted in this matter.

Monday 16 March 2009

Nine-year old's abortion: the real issue

In all the furore about the heartbreaking case of the nine-year girl whose twins were aborted, on which I blogged last week, let's remember the real issue.

The fundamental issue for humanity is that two babies have been killed: the right to life of the twins in the womb of this poor Brazilian girl has been denied by all those participating in the abortion, and all those approving of the abortion (neither of which category, of course, includes the nine-year-old mother). Once the right to life can, in certain circumstances, be swept aside, no unborn child is safe - any unborn baby can be killed. The truth of the case against abortion becomes obscured by pragmatic considerations. The pro-abortion lobby understands this as well as anybody - and better than most.

Also, as I said before, the little girl at the centre of this tragic situation has suffered not only the violence of rape but also the violence of abortion, which carries with it the risk of long-term harm including a seriously increased risk of suicide. Objectively speaking this homicide, which is never an act of compassion, is lacking in compassion to the child-mother as well as to her twins.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Human Rights Council ignores slaughter of the unborn

The Human Rights Council (HRC) marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child last week by ignoring the slaughter of the unborn which is occurring throughout the world in contravention of international law.

"The HRC panels comprehensively considered all the major issues on the topic of children’s rights except the 'elephant in the room' the abortion question which was studiously ignored by all," Pat Buckley told me from Geneva, where he was lobbying at the Human Rights Council on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

The bitter irony of the event was best summed up by the contribution of Maud de Boer-Buquichio, Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, who highlighted the Council of Europe's efforts to promote and protect children’s rights. (A resolution calling for unlimited access to abortion throughout Europe [see my blogs of 18th March and 6th April] was rushed through the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 16th April last year.)

She said: “The starting point for our work is in recognizing that children are not mini-persons with mini-human rights –- in fact they need more protection, not less,” she said, and that “adults want children to grow up and respect the world they are born in. It is high time that our adult world also respect children's rights."

Given that the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that a child needs appropriate legal protection before, as well as after birth, and given that tens of millions of unborn children are denied such legal protection by being dismembered, killed by being sucked through a tube with sharp-edged openings near the tip of the tube, or killed by being prevented from implanting in the lining of the womb by making it unreceptive to the newly-conceived embryo ... on what grounds are these children's rights being totally ignored by the Human Rights Council?

This would be an interesting question for politicians to pursue with their various governments around the world.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Be courageous in the face of repression says Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, has the measure of our political masters on their persecution of those who uphold the right to life.

In a speech to the Oxford University Newman Society he referred to the right of health care workers not to participate in abortion and the prospect of President Barack Obama signing into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which would sweep away restrictions on abortion and deny medical practitioners and hospitals the right to conscientiously object to participating in abortions.

He said that that secular liberalism had strayed from its origins of classical liberalism and now “has strong totalitarian tendencies” and spoke about repression of political opposition.

Most importantly, he called upon Christians to “recover their self-confidence and courage” and confront the “secular and religious intolerance of our day” - and clearly his message resonates for non-Christian pro-life citizens too.

It seems to me to be a clarion call for the kind of powerful, peaceful pro-life resistance which SPUC has said must now be developed by pro-life movements in the face of legislation and/or government policies which require doctors to kill their patients in circumstances and which promote secret abortions for our children in schools, including in Catholic schools.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

New abortion threat to EU countries: Alert

The European Women's Lobby (EWL) campaigns for free access to abortion for all women living in the European Union. It has called upon the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency to conduct research across the legal systems of the 27 countries of the European Union on 'discrimination in the area of health', 'access to abortion', 'access to/choices in and quality of sexual and reproductive health rights'.

The objective of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is to provide EU member states and institutions assistance and expertise on fundamental rights.

It is, of course, beyond the scope of FRA's powers to be commissioning research into areas which remain squarely within EU Member States' national sovereign prerogative.

However that fact won't inhibit the FRA from responding positively to the European Women's Lobby's request. Morten Kjaerum (pictured), 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. You can find more about the pro-abortion orientation of EU Agency for Fundamental Human Rights by looking at my post last November on Zero Tolerance for Pro-Life Dissent.

Please alert your Member of the European Parliament, wherever you may live in the EU, to the danger posed by this latest initiative of the pro-abortion EWL - which is fighting against the interests, health and welfare of women in Europe by promoting abortion.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Obama administration proposes pro-abortion agenda at UN meeting

President Obama's new administration has joined forces with extreme pro-abortion campaigners to push a far-reaching anti-life agenda at the United Nations this week, reports Pat Buckley, who has been lobbying in New York on behalf of SPUC.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is meeting at UN headquarters in New York (pictured) to agree on how the world should guide men and women in their respective roles at home and at work. The draft conclusion document , which has a focus on HIV/AIDs, is currently under negotiations until the end of this week. The new US administration is working to introduce pro-abortion language into the document.

The US, under its new pro-abortion president, is calling for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is likely to be interpreted to include abortion on demand. In addition, the US is also calling for a review of all national laws to ensure they comply with international human rights instruments, a process that could be misused by extreme pro-abortion campaigners to force countries to remove restrictions on abortion.

Pat Buckley commented: "The world needs to know just how extreme are the pro-abortion campaigners lobbying at the UN this week. They are demanding a universal right to kill innocent children in the womb. We call upon nation-states, religious leaders and concerned commentators to condemn the radicalised agenda of the US delegation and its extremist mentors."

Monday 9 March 2009

Obama funding for embryo research undermines rights and medicine

President Obama announced today that the US federal government will fund embryonic stem cell research, which involves the abuse and destruction of innocent human beings. busing and destroying human embryos does not help patients, nor does it advance science.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented:

"President Obama's decision comes at a time when researchers have started to conclude that embryonic stem cell research is scientifically flawed and that alternative forms of stem cell research which don't involve embryos are far more successful. Yet he is ready to provide funds for scientists who will create and destroy human embryos with no regard to their human status, their rights and their dignity as fellow members of the human family. By so doing, he reveals himself as a willing tool of a powerful lobby of vested interests among research companies and eugenicist academics. He promised a new approach to policy but embryonic stem cell research is yesterday's bad idea, not tomorrow's future."

Sunday 8 March 2009

IPPF patronizes Polish women with its anti-life lies

The International Planned Parenthood Federation - IPPF - the world's largest abortion-promoting agency, is targeting and patronizing Polish women with lies about how contraceptives drugs and devices work.

Armed with millions of US dollars promised by Barack Obama to fund the killing of unborn children overseas, they are now concentrating their anti-life propaganda on Poland.

In a statement issued worldwide this weekend backing a Women's Day march in Poland, they blatantly and falsely claim to represent all Polish women in calling for easy access to contraceptives, including abortifacient contraceptive drugs and devices, attacking the Catholic Church, and opposing doctors' right to conscientious objection to abortion.

The IPPF statement links the term "contraception" to another part of their website headlined "Contraceptive Myths and Realities". A search under "A myth/misrepresentation" finds "abortion" near the top of list. It reads:

"Some clients incorrectly believe that injectables prevent pregnancies by causing an abortion."

"Research shows that neither progestin-only nor monthly injectables will disrupt an existing pregnancy. Both types of injectables prevent pregnancy primarily by preventing ovulation. Injectables also thicken the cervical mucus which inhibits sperm penetration. These changes make fertilization extremely unlikely to occur. Injectables also make the endometrium unfavorable for implantation if fertilization does occur."

It is a tactic used by the pro-abortion lobby throughout the world - to argue that a mother is not pregnant until the embryo implants in her womb. Therefore, according to this fallacious argument, drugs which prevent implantation do not cause a miscarriage.

Polish readers of my blog might be interested in the UK experience of how this lie was used to defeat the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's (SPUC's) legal action against the abortion-inducing morning-after pill. (It's important to note that other contraceptive drugs and devices also cause early abortions.) The judgement against SPUC's action was powerfully challenged in the academic press and elsewhere, as you can see here. In summary, the overwhelming scientific and legal evidence makes clear:
that conception is to be equated with fertilisation;

that a woman is pregnant from fertilisation/conception onwards;

and that miscarriage, being synonymous with abortion, refers to loss of the preimplantation embryo, potentially caused by the morning after pill.
Fortunately, Polish women, pro-life groups, and church leaders are too well-informed and intelligent to allow this kind of patronizing, misleading propaganda to go unanswered.I have no doubt that Poland, as before, will rise to meet the challenge of IPPF. However, let the world take note from IPPF's statement on Poland this weekend : Obama's millions will not only be used to promote abortion, they will be used, and are intended to be used, to attack the largest, organized, pro-life force in the world - the Catholic Church.

Saturday 7 March 2009

The compassion and courage of Brazilian archbishop in nine-year old's abortion case

You may have read reports that Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife (pictured) excommunicated the mother and doctors of a nine year old girl who had an abortion when it was found she was expecting twins. According to reports the little girl had been raped by her stepfather.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian President, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has said "As a Christian and a Catholic I deeply regret that a bishop of the Catholic Church has such a conservative attitude."

The archbishop, of course, carried out no excommunications. What he did was to announce publicly that all those involved in the abortion have incurred in excommunication latae sententiae (automatically) "except for the little girl, who is not morally responsible for this tragic act.”

According to CNA, he said:
“All those who approved, promoted and performed the abortion, incurred automatic excommunication, according to code 1398 of the Canon Law.

“The Church usually does not announce or publicly that that is the case, but it was important for me to do it on this occasion.

“My hope is that those affected by the excommunication they brought upon themselves may change their hearts and may not wait until the proximity of death to repent.”

In other words, the archbishop's announcement is motivated by his compassion for all those involved. As a good pastor of the Church to which those involved in the abortion belong, he wants them to realise the gravity of the action they have committed and to be reconciled to God.

Thank God for Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Recife. It took enormous courage for the archbishop to make this announcement, knowing the fury that would be aroused by the media who appear to have misreported what he said worldwide. When church leaders act with such courage, countless vulnerable innocent unborn children and their young teenage mothers elsewhere in Brazil and elsewhere in the world are protected. The work of pro-life movements is also strengthened. It's also good news that the Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, one of the Vatican's most senior officials, has backed the archbishop.

Of course it's hard to imagine a more tragic and difficult situation demanding medical attention and skill of the highest order to safeguard the lives of the three children involved - a nine year old girl and her two unborn children. Now that the abortion has taken place, I hope that those, like President Lula of Brazil, who have attacked the archbishop, will continue to take an interest in the welfare of a little girl who has suffered not only the violence of rape but also the violence of abortion, which carries the risk of long-term harm including a seriously increased risk of suicide.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Blairs attack papal teaching on culture of life

This week Tony and Cherie Blair have launched a high profile attack on two fundamental aspects of papal teaching on building a culture of life.

In an interview in the Church of England newspaper, Tony Blair, received into the Catholic Church in December 2007, underlines his continued belief in "gay rights".

And Cherie Blair, a fellow Catholic, filmed in the final part of the Channel 4 series "Christianity", said: "I'm a feminist… how could I have done all the things I have done if I hadn't used contraception?" - an attack on Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of birth, recently praised in the highest terms by Pope Benedict as "guiding us along the path to the future".

According to the Christian Institute: "During Mr Blair’s premiership a raft of gay rights legislation was brought in" ensuring the promotion of homosexuality in schools and elsewhere, legalizing joint adoption by homosexual couples, giving legal recognition to homosexual relationships with the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which "extended all the legal rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples".

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.

And Pope Benedict made a similar point in his address to members of the Roman Curia last Christmas when he said:

"Since faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian creed, the Church cannot and must not limit herself to passing on to the faithful the message of salvation alone. She has a responsibility towards creation, and must also publicly assert this responsibility. In so doing, she must not only defend earth, water and air as gifts of creation belonging to all. She must also protect man from self-destruction. What is needed is something like a human ecology, correctly understood.

"If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the “language” of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work."

During this speech, Pope Benedict refers to Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae as a guide to the future. He says:

"An integral part of the Church proclamation must be a witness to the Creator Spirit present in nature as a whole, and, in a special way, in the human person, created in God’s image.

"From this perspective, we should go back to the Encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sex as a consumer good, the future against the exclusive claims of the present, and human nature against its manipulation."

And Pope Benedict’s address on 10th May last year, also underlined the unchanging teaching of the Church on birth control. He writes:
“What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change; on the contrary, precisely in the light of the new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more timely and elicits reflection on the intrinsic value it possesses.”
I have blogged before on how the prophetic teaching in Humanae Vitae has been fulfilled in the culture of death - in British laws and British government policies at home and overseas. The objective data is convincing to people of all faiths and none.

Tony Blair, who has refused to repudiate the anti-life laws and policies he steadfastly pursued throughout his political career, was received into the Catholic Church in December 2007. Cherie Blair, also a Catholic, 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.

I hope and pray, for the sake of the millions of babies and other vulnerable human beings who have been killed, and mothers and families injured, as a result of these laws and policies, and for the sake of countless young people whose health and happiness are being destroyed, as a result of these laws and policies, that there will be a spirited response on the part of leading Catholic and pastors to the Blairs' attack on papal teaching on these fundamental issues. Catholics in public life cannot be allowed continually to undermine the faith to which they belong, especially on matters relating to the sanctity of human life.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Barack Obama and US court battle over live baby thrown away after botched abortion

"The only thing more sickening than this story is the knowledge that President Obama fought to protect this sort of thing in Illinois" is the comment from the Republican National Conservative Caucus on their newly-launched website.

The story in question concerns a teenage mother, Sycloria Williams, who was reportedly 23 weeks pregnant when she made up her mind to have an abortion.

According to Associated Press, it is alleged that Sycloria gave birth to a live baby after a botched abortion procedure and that Belkiz Gonzalez, the abortion clinic owner, "threw the infant away".

"The teenage mother, Sycloria Williams, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez knocked the infant off the chair where she had given birth, and then scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag, and threw it out" the Associated Press reports.

Whatever the outcome of this court battle may be, just how sobering is it that the "free world" is now led by Barack Obama, a man who voted four times against legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would have provided care and protection for babies who are born alive after an abortion?

In no sense could the survival of a child after an abortion be considered a threat to his or her mother yet President Obama believed helping such a baby to live would undermine the legal right to abortion. Explaining his opposition to the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act he said:
"...whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – child, a 9-month-old – child that was delivered to term. …

"I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute..."
Try reading and re-reading the above two paragraphs and reflect for a while that the man whose mind put those words together is now the world's most powerful political leader.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

SPUC's 2009 national conference

SPUC's national conference will be held this year from 4 to 6 September at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire.

We are delighted to announce that Mr Bobby Schindler (brother of Mrs Terri Schiavo, right) will be speaking about his sister at the conference. Since his sister’s death, Bobby has campaigned to increase awareness to the fact that 'quality of life' has absolutely nothing to do with the 'value of life,' and that loving care, nutrition, and hydration are indeed the most basic of human needs that must be provided for all of us until the very moment of our natural death. Bobby believes that the lessons to be learned from the medical, judicial, and regulatory and criminal law-enforcement problems related to Terri Schiavo's death in America ‘by judicial fiat’ should not and must not go unheeded.

Another American, Arnold Culbreath, a director of the US Life Issues Institute, will be speaking on the dangers of the Obama presidency and what pro-life groups in the United States are doing in response to the threat it poses to unborn children and their mothers. The Reverend Arnold M Culbreath is urban outreach director of Life Issues Institute, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rev Culbreath, a Baptist, runs Protecting Black Life which takes the pro-life message to the black community. An architectural engineer and theology graduate, he produces educational literature for black people, speaks at gatherings, runs educational booths at events, and organises educational groups and events. Rev Culbreath also works with pastors and community leaders to create strategies to reduce and eventually stop abortion.

Contact me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk if you would like information about booking a place for SPUC's national conference.

Monday 2 March 2009

The right-to-choose state and the Catholic Church

This story from the Catholic News Agency is so important I'm urging you to read it in full. It's good that Joseph Naumann (pictured), the archbishop of Kansas City, has spoken out so clearly, asking Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from receiving Communion until she makes a worthy confession and publicly repudiates her stand on abortion. (You will recall in this connection my previous posts about Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. 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.)

Speaking as a Catholic, I feel that there is a very real danger for the church if it were to allow pro-abortion Catholics in public life to go unchallenged. Such inaction would imply that opposition to legalised abortion and other anti-life legislation is not terribly important, and that it's more important for the church to be, as it were, a respectable part of the "right to choose" state - expressing opposition to abortion, certainly, but not in such a way as to upset the apple cart. In this way the church's teaching, as expressed by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (73) below, would become obscured:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize ... there is a grave obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection ... In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it."

Sunday 1 March 2009

Why Comic Relief should be boycotted

Comic Relief gives massive financial support to groups which promote the legalization of abortion in Africa and worldwide.

Oxfam, according to Comic Relief's latest list (2005/2006) of International Grant Approvals, received £1,000,000. It has a long history of support for abortion, as SPUC's charity bulletin shows, and openly promotes the legalization of abortion in a number of documents on its website.

The African Women's Development fund (AWDF), according to Comic Relief, received £1,560,000. The AWDF charter of feminist principles proclaims its commitment to "Freedom of choice and autonomy regarding bodily integrity issues, including reproductive rights, abortion, sexual identity and sexual orientation".

In December 2000 Comic Relief asserted that they did “not fund, and have never funded, abortion services or the promotion of abortions” (assurance given to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales). However, their own accounts show that they have funded abortion providers and that they continue to fund leading abortion promoters. For further details on the former, see SPUC's Charity Bulletin.

"Only a small percentage of Red Nose Day goes towards abortions", it may be argued, but this argument holds no water. Supposing, in the 1940s, only a small percentage of a charity's funds went towards the killing of Jews and ethnic minorities in concentration camps, would it be OK for people to give to that charity? There is only one answer to that question. And there is only one response to Red Nose Day. Abortion hurts women and kills unborn children and Red Nose Day funds organizations which promote it. Boycott it.