Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Pro-life groups issue joint leaflet against abortion amendments

A number of pro-life groups have joined with SPUC to issue a joint version (pictured) of SPUC's "Under pressure" leaflet against the proposed extreme pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. The groups are:
If you would like to order a supply of the leaflet to distribute, you can do so via SPUC (email lizfoody@spuc.org.uk , tel. 020 7820 3122) or via any of the groups listed above. It's important that we all work together in seeking to meet and to overcome the shocking threats we are facing.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Catholic Education Service steers Catholic schoolchildren in England to “neutral” sexual values and abortion clinics

Witness to Love has recently published two important posts: “Lifetracks, ‘values clarification’ and how not to teach morality” and “Lifetracks: Inaccurate, misleading and ill-informed”. The author of Witness to Love teaches English in a Catholic High School in the UK and has been an English teacher for over twenty years. Lifetracks is an educational/personal development programme used in the author’s school.

The first of the posts above perceptively analyses the relativistic educational approach of the Lifetracks’ personal development programme, for school key stages 3 and 4. “Most worrying of all”, it says, “are statements for year 11 students (15-16 year olds) under the heading ‘Sexual Responsibility, Attitudes & Lifestyles’ that relativise all types of sexual behaviour, as if they were morally equivalent. For example, ‘different people have different preferences where sex is concerned … The important thing to remember is that every human being is a unique individual who deserves to feel good about themselves, regardless of their sexual preferences’.”

The second post above, on which I have previously blogged, shows how Lifetracks grooms young people “for participation in a culture that has lost sight of the truth about the human person and about human sexuality … Parental authority over children is … deliberately undermined in the Lifetracks material by quoting and endorsing the Gillick (1986) ruling about prescribing contraception to under-16 year olds without parental consent (Lifetracks Year 9, p. 131) … Although 'adoption' is suggested as one way of dealing with an 'unwanted pregnancy', and there are two links to groups that offer this support, this is given along with material (Hints & Tips) that also lists the main abortion providers such as Marie Stopes.”

Lifetracks is promoted by Connexions, a government agency which provides careers advice to young people from 13 - 19 years old and which promotes access to abortion and abortifacient birth control amongst children under the age of consent without parental knowledge or consent, on which I have been publishing a series of posts.

The Connexions service, is welcomed into Catholic schools in England by the Catholic Education Service, as my previous posts show. Given that Lifetracks is supported by Connexions and is a programme known to be used in at least one Catholic school, the Catholic Education Service is effectively steering Catholic schoolchildren, under the age of consent, to “neutral” sexual values and to abortion clinics.

Citizens whose children attend non-faith schools must resist the wicked government policy which robs our children of their innocence and which kills our grandchildren. Catholic citizens must also fight against the wicked policy of the Catholic authorities in England which co-operates with government policy in this area. Please write to me, especially if you are a parent or a teacher, if you want help in developing your personal resistance to this government policy: at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Recycled "Medical News Today" story reports on using left-over tiny persons in fertility clinics

Medical News Today reports this week on “using left-over embryos” in the US, in much the same way as we talk about recycling rubbish these days. Indeed, that’s how an “unwanted” or “surplus” embryo of the human species in many parts of the world, not least in the UK, is now regarded – rubbish to be recycled for the benefit of the adult human community and their (born) children.

Without the kind permission of Medical News Today, I am recycling their story so that every time the word “embryo” appears, I change it to read “tiny person”. When you’ve been through the scientific evidence with them about the beginning of human life, try giving this blog to friends who are unsure about, or who accept, IVF practices to see if it helps them to stop and think:

Using Leftover Tiny Persons in Fertility Clinics

The majority of infertility patients are in favour of using left-over tiny persons for stem cell research and would also support selling left-over tiny persons to other couples, according to a recent survey.

The survey is published in two related studies in the September issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility.

The researchers surveyed 1,350 women who presented for infertility at a large, university hospital-based fertility center in Illinois. The survey included 24 questions on patient demographics, obstetric and infertility history, and opinions about using extra tiny persons for stem cell research and selling extra tiny persons to other couples.

Assisted reproductive technology has resulted in the creation and cryopreservation of extra tiny persons at fertility centers across the country. It was estimated in 2002 that 396,526 tiny persons were in storage at U.S. fertility clinics, according to previously published research.

These tiny persons may be used for future pregnancy attempts, donated to other couples or agencies, given to researchers, or discarded.

Because infertility patients are the gatekeepers of these leftover tiny persons, it is important to understand their opinions, according to Dr. Tarun Jain, University of Illinois at Chicago assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, clinical IVF director, and lead author of the study.

When asked if using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research should be allowed, 73 percent of the 636 respondents who stated a definitive opinion answered yes.

"Infertility patients, in general, are altruistic, and it makes sense that they would try to advance medicine and help others," said Jain.

African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to approve of using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research, compared with Caucasians. Patients younger than 30, Protestant, less wealthy and single were also less likely to support using leftover tiny persons for stem cell research.

The researchers also asked infertility patients if they would be willing to sell their extra tiny persons to other couples, a practice that is considered ethically unacceptable by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

There is an emerging demand from infertility patients who cannot conceive using their own oocytes, or eggs, to purchase left-over, pre-existing tiny persons because it is a more cost-effective option than using an egg donor, according to the authors.

When asked if selling leftover tiny persons to other couples should be allowed, 56 percent of the 588 respondents who stated a definitive opinion answered yes.

Hispanics were less likely to approve of selling extra tiny persons when compared with Caucasians, but all East Indian respondents approved of the practice. Women who had never been pregnant were also less likely to approve, according to the study.

The authors say this is the first survey to examine the opinions of a general infertility population related to the use of leftover tiny persons and to analyze the results based on the patients' sociodemographic and reproductive backgrounds.

"Given the potential for a significant increase in the commoditizing of spare tiny persons, medical societies and policy makers may need to pay close attention to this controversial area," conclude Jain and co-author Stacey Missmer from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The majority of our fellow-citizens, including fellow church-goers, let’s face it, speak about IVF as though it’s a great benefit for humanity. As I’ve mentioned before, 2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469. What happened to the other 2,028,455 human embryos? Again, according to BioNews:

“Unused embryos in clinics under UK law may by consent be discarded, frozen, donated to research or donated to other infertile couples…” and, of course, many embryos are transferred to the womb only to miscarry or to be selectively aborted. If the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, now before Parliament, becomes law – it will be lawful to create human embryos for training purposes, for embryologists to practise on them in destructive experiments.

The greatest challenge facing the pro-life movement remains what it’s always been: to convince our fellow-citizens of the dignity and inviolability of the human person from conception. However, through lifestyles which include the use of abortifacient “contraceptive” drugs and devices and the acceptance of IVF procedures for infertile couples and for other purposes, such respect appears to be vanishing fast. This is an issue of huge significance for the future of the pro-life campaign worldwide and pro-life groups worldwide must address it head-on as a matter of urgency.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Schools and parishes must "protect our young people from cultures of death": Read and act on Bishop O'Donoghue's clarion call

"I encourage all our schools and parishes to continue to take steps to protect our young people from cultures of death, that seek to corrupt and exploit them" said Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue in "Fit for Mission? Church".

His clarion call to Catholics in his diocese is hugely significant for the future of pro-life work in the UK. I strongly urge readers to obtain copies of the new, expanded edition of this document from the Catholic Truth Society at £8.95.

The bishop's "Fit for Mission? Schools" can also be obtained from the CTS: check here. (£6.95)

They are must-reads for anyone who cares about the sanctity of human life and the primary rights and duties of parents to protect and to educate their children.

It's time stand up to the government, it's time for parents to assert their parental rights, and to to stand up to all authorities who seek to usurp those rights - whether it's the government, school authorities, or the Catholic Education Service. SPUC's Safe at School campaign is designed to enable parents to do just that.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

European Court of Human Rights and the international campaign to legalize abortion in Ireland

Earlier this month I referred to the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling in the case of Tysiac v Poland and the danger of a human right to abortion being created. Next year the ECHR is expected to hear a case of aimed at overturning Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. Lawyers for three women known only as A,B and C, claim that the Irish prohibition on abortion is a violation of human rights. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), along with a number of other international pro-life groups, has been given leave to intervene in the proceedings. We believe the case is inadmissible, unfounded and we will be calling on the court to throw it out.

The decision to allow the UK's SPUC, the US's Family Research Council and the European Centre for Law and Justice, based in Strasbourg, to intervene after the deadline for interventions had passed, is thought to reflect the importance the ECHR attaches to this case. Ireland’s Pro-life Campaign had previously been given permission make a submission and abortion advocates the Irish Family Planning Association and the New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are supporting the complainants.

This case has emerged at a time of mounting pressure on Ireland to legalise abortion. It's merely part of a much wider international campaign to force the Irish people to accept abortion on demand. While pro-abortion extremists in the House of Commons are determined to impose the Abortion Act on Northern Ireland against the will of the devolved Assembly, the ABC case is intended to undermine the Republic’s legal protection for unborn children. The fact that abortion advocates must resort to the courts further underlines their lack of support among the Irish people.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, has been working with the Society's lawyers on the case and has sent me the following observations:

"This is not the first time the abortion lobby has tried to use the human rights court in Strasbourg to attack Ireland’s abortion ban. Two years ago, in a similar case, a woman claimed she had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment because she was unable to have an abortion in Ireland. However since she hadn’t take her case to the Irish courts before bringing it to ECHR , it was considered inadmissible. There is a good chance that this case will be dismissed for the same reason.

"Until the recent Tysiac case the ECHR had been reluctant to get involved in abortion law, insisting that it was a matter for individual states to decide. Last year, however, the court ruled that Polish law, which only allows abortions on strictly medical grounds, violated the European Convention on Human Rights on the pretext that it lacked a procedure for resolving disputes over when an abortion might be permitted. The court said ‘Once the legislature decides to allow abortion, it must not structure its legal framework in a way which would limit real possibilities to obtain it.’ (Tysiac v Poland, Application no 5410/03 para 116)

"Bringing Ireland before an international court is an attempt to intimidate the Irish people and put pressure on their government to legislate for abortion, even in very limited circumstances. This will provide the opening the international abortion lobby wants. The CRR argued in the Tysiac case that wherever abortion is legalised it must be made accessible. Legalising abortion, even in extreme cases, could result in demands for the Irish health service to put in place arrangements and procedures to facilitate abortion. Hospitals would be required to employ doctors trained and willing to perform abortions. Anyone refused abortion would have a right to appeal that decision and there would be a continual legal battle to widen the scope of the law. Doctors unwilling to approve abortions would be required to refer women to doctors who would. This is part of the strategy to use human rights agencies to create a human right to abortion.

"At present Ireland has a much better defence against the arguments of the CRR than Poland had. Ireland’s law leaves no room for doubt or disputes. Both women and unborn children have an equal right to life, abortion is only lawful when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. The lives of the three women in the ABC case were never at risk nor were they denied appropriate medical treatment. In fact according to World Health Organisation statistics Ireland has the lowest maternal death rate is in world. The death rate in the Britain, which has the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, is over three times higher.

"Even if the court ignores its own criteria for admissibility it is still unlikely that it will uphold the claims of the abortion lobby but it is important that the Irish people are not intimidated.

"In 2004 the ECHR considered the case of Vo -v- France (Application no. 53924/00 para 84). Dealing with the rights of the unborn child rather than directly with abortion it concluded that ‘the embryo/foetus belongs to the human race.’ In the belief that belonging to the human race is the basis of human rights, the people of Ireland have established within their laws and constitution legal protection for the child in the womb. The Convention on the Rights of the Child also recognises that a child needs appropriate legal protection before, as well as after birth. If the ECHR is no longer determined to avoid questions about abortion law then it must accept that everyone who belongs to the human race shares the same fundamental human right to life."

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Attacking the sacred in the name of abortion and sexual “freedom”

Today I am going to take a look at deliberate acts of sacrilege committed in the name of abortion. This will make for disturbing reading but it is important to expose the depths to which the abortion lobby is prepared to sink in order to forward the culture of death. It says a great deal for the nature of their business that the pro-abortion lobby feels the need to attack everyone, including God, in the course of their work.

A runner-up this week is the self-publicist Danish artist who built sculptures of pregnant teenagers nailed to crosses in a parody of the crucifixion entitled "In the Name of God". It is being used as part of a crusade (the press release’s word not mine) against “the extreme Bible fundamentalists – with Bush and the Pope at the head” – in other words against an understanding of human sexuality to which the artist is opposed. The artist claims that the stunt “is not a global accusation against Christianity” and says he likes “progressive Christians” whom he says he speaks for. The artist claims furthermore that the stunt is an analogy not a caricature, with the teenager being a symbol of innocence subjected to "the ultimate punishment" like Jesus the lamb, but this is simply nonsense. The artist’s theological musings don’t disguise the reality that he has degraded a symbol sacred to Christianity and is causing maximum hurt and offence to Christians in order to make a statement. He apparently intends to parade his creations in various Catholic countries as well as Vatican city. The artist says his sculptures should not be seen as “a comment on the issue of abortion”; but, the fact is that the sculpture has been used in Nicaragua as part of the campaign to legalise abortion in that country. Mockery of Christ’s sacrifice for the whole of humanity and attacks on the sanctity of human life are, for Christians like myself, inseperably linked.

Moving across the globe to Argentina comes another contender for the Orwell Prize - the members of a pro-abortion rally who attacked a group of young people stationed outside a cathedral to protect it from desecration. According to European Life Network, which ran the story:

“The video clearly shows the pro-abortion protesters screaming insults and spitting in their faces, whilst the young people calmly pray and refuse to retaliate. This is the sort of despicable action the abortion lobby seems to revel in - an unprovoked attack on innocent people at prayer- and then place blame on the pro-lifers.”

Also featured in the video are men mocking the actions of priests and, according to Spanish speakers, members of the crowd screaming comments about Mary being a whore.

But in first place this week is a man who had himself filmed taking a consecrated host "hostage" during a Catholic Mass. It was then filmed next to a condom (the whole stunt was apparently supposed to be a protest against the Church’s teaching on sexuality). After that, it was sent to a Dr P. Z. Myers at the University of Minnesota, who filmed himself mistreating the host, piercing it with a rusty nail and throwing it into the dustbin.

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

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Tony Blair is undermining the faith of the church into which he has been received

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is holding an “exciting event” in Los Angeles tomorrow to mark the midway point for the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 – a panel discussion including Tony Blair and significant Islamic figures.

The blurb says: “Recorded live, this will be a great chance for you, and countless others around the world, to discuss your thoughts and ideas on issues of faith and combating poverty - as well as encouraging understanding of and between faiths.”

The Mission Statement of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation is at pains to emphasize: “ … the Foundation will use its profile and resources to encourage people of faith to work together more closely to tackle global poverty and conflict … ”

The trouble is that Tony Blair has refused to repudiate the position his government promoted in words and action during his premiership – the promotion of abortion on demand in developing countries as central to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. This was also emphasized by Baroness Amos, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Blair’s government, in answers to questions in January 2003.

As I’ve said before, Tony Blair has reportedly got his eye on becoming president of the EU Council and he is using his “Faith Foundation” to promote his influence worldwide.

While there’s a possibility of him running for public office in any part of the world, citizens have a right and a duty to challenge him on his political record on pro-life matters. As a Catholic myself, I do not believe that politicians should be protected from public scrutiny simply by being received into the Catholic church.

I have no wish for Tony Blair to don sackcloth and ashes. I’ll do that for my own sins before I judge anyone else.However, Tony Blair’s position on abortion, abortifacient birth control, IVF and euthanasia by neglect is a matter of public record. As prime minister he was in the forefront of championing the culture of death not only in Britain but also, on abortion, around the world through the UK’s foreign policy. As long as he fails to repudiate his appalling legacy, Tony Blair is undermining the faith of the church into which he has been received.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Conflicting sex education policies in Catholic schools

The Vatican has just warmly endorsed two documents by an English diocese which support Catholic church teaching on life issues. Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary to the Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy has written supportively to Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, about his Fit For Mission? Church and Fit for Mission? Schools.

The congregation expresses surprise at the reaction to the document on schools, which it says was simply an instance of Bishop O'Donoghue doing his duty as a bishop to proclaim Catholic faith.

The schools document says that abortion and similar subjects should not be taught about as if the church were neutral on them. It says that sex education is a basic right of parents, and must be carried out under their close supervision and states: "Parents, schools and colleges must reject secularized and anti-life sex education, which puts God at the margin of life and regards the birth of a child as a threat."

The document on the church refers to the state-sponsored culture of death. The bishop suggests that legalised abortion in Britain may have led to widespread violence. He writes: "I encourage all our schools and parishes to continue to take steps to protect our young people from cultures of death, that seek to corrupt and exploit them."

Archbishop Piacenza says to Bishop O'Donoghue that the Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy: "… again lauds you for your courageous action."

Such a ringing endorsement stands in stark contrast to my post of yesterday on Lifetracks, a so-called personal development programme used in at least one Catholic school. This scheme includes references to a website which could help girls obtain abortions and fails to make clear the abortifacient nature of some birth control drugs and devices. Connexions, a government advice service for young people, is supporting and promoting the programme, according to Witness to Love, a teacher at the school. The Catholic Education Service says of Connexions in Catholic schools: "It is a service to be welcomed."

While Bishop O'Donoghue's policy has been approved by the church's highest authorities, the church's education body for England and Wales is encouraging the involvement of an organisation whose policies conflict with Catholic teaching and throws Catholic schoolchildren to the wolves, as I blogged recently. Something's got to give.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Delivering them into evil

I strongly urge my visitors to read Witness to Love's superb analysis of "Lifetracks", a personal development programme supported and promoted by Connexions in schools.

As you may know from my previous posts, Connexions is a government agency which provides careers advice to young people from 13 - 19 years old and which promotes access to abortion and abortifacient birth control amongst children under the age of consent without parental knowledge or consent.

Our Witness to Love is a Catholic English teacher working in Catholic High School. His PhD thesis, completed at the University of Nottingham, was on children's reading and the moral imagination - and he has a background in Psychology, English and Education. He and Martha, his wife, have six children. As an academic, a teacher and a father, he is uniquely well-qualified to comment on "Lifetracks" as his analysis shows.

"Lifetracks", despite Witness to Love's objections, has been used for several years in his Catholic school. He describes how the programmes marginalizes the family, and how its misleading and factually inaccurate "information" strips authentic Catholic teachers and parents of their authority, promotes the idea that there are no solid norms regarding human life, human love and lifestyles, and prepares children from 13 years old for sexual activity.

Witness to Love tells us that "Worksheets for children in years 9 and 11 contain 'information' about contraceptives which fail to mention the medical risks to women of taking the pill, nor the abortifacient properties of the 'morning after pill' or certain IUDs." He tells us that the programme contains "plenty of suggestions of where to obtain an abortion through the Connexions website".

Witness to Love suspects the "Lifetracks" programme is used in many schools, including Catholic schools in the UK. Please will you check if it's being used in schools attended by your children, grandchildren, or the children of your friends, neighbours or fellow-parishioners? Please let me know - at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

I have said it before and I will say it again. The government's providing access to children with abortion and abortifacient birth control and preparing them for sexual activity is the worst development in Britain since the passing of the Abortion Act. And as a Catholic, I say that Catholic authorities delivering our children into evil is the worst betrayal of their sacred trust that I can imagine. We cannot rest until the Catholic Education Service has been instructed by its chairman, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, to reverse its wicked policy of welcoming Connexions' advisers into Catholic schools in England.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Bedford's pro-life fighter

At an SPUC meeting on Wednesday in Bedford, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Dudley Orman, aged 87, who has lived much of his life in the town. He has a track-record of more than 40 years in campaigning for the pro-life cause.

When abortion looked likely to be legalised in the 1960s, Mr Orman put pro-life placards on his bicycle and motorcycle. He recalls an SPUC rally in Hyde Park, London, which was attended by 100,000 people, including himself and his sister. The meeting was addressed by members of parliament and, afterwards, he was among those carrying a banner in a march. Mr Orman later became a member of the committee of the Bedford branch of Life.

Mr Orman has been secretary of the Bedfordshire group of Amnesty International, and raised the matter of abortion and human rights at a major meeting of the organisation some 30 years ago. He says that half of the audience supported his pro-life position while half disagreed. He regrets recent moves to change Amnesty's neutral policy on abortion to one which supports it, saying that abortion is a human rights issue just as much as false imprisonment.

Mr Orman says his pro-life views are motivated by his religious beliefs. He converted aged 17, initially attending the Catholic church and Jehovah's Witnesses, and currently going to Seventh Day Adventist and Pentecostal services.

He is a keen and frequently published correspondent with the county's local newspapers and says it is important to keep the abortion issue in the public eye. He has also often written Mr Patrick Hall, his town's MP. Sadly, Mr Hall does not agree with the pro-life position. "He won't budge," says Mr Orman, "but I'll keep trying to persuade him."

Mr Orman has taken part in most of the Pro-Life Chains held in Bedford over the past 12 years. SPUC supporters stand alongside a main road holding placards which remind passers-by of the tragedy of abortion and publicise a helpline for people affected by abortion.

After last year's demonstration, he put his placard in an upstairs window. It says: "Abortion hurts women and kills children." Sadly, someone threw a stone at the window and broke it, though no-one was hurt. Mr Orman says: "I feel sorry for the person who threw that stone. I'm not bitter. I just hope they come one day to see that abortion is wrong."

Although the local press did not take a picture of the damage, the house, with Mr Orman's placard, featured on an auctioneer's website and was thus visible worldwide. He recalled the words of William Cowper's hymn: "God moves in a mysterious way/His wonders to perform."

Mr Orman says he intends to carry on fighting the pro-life fight for as long as he is able, hopefully attending next year's Pro-Life Chain and keeping the issue otherwise in the public eye. It is on such dedication that SPUC was founded and it is thanks to campaigners like Mr Dudley Orman of Bedford that we shall be able to continue our work.

Baroness Warnock and a "duty to die"

Today's Telegraph reports that Baroness (Mary) Warnock, the anti-life philosopher, has continued her promotion of the idea that people with disabling conditions have a duty to die prematurely. In an interview with the Church of Scotland's Life and Work magazine, Lady Warnock says:

"If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives – your family's lives – and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service.

"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself."

One wonders why the Church of Scotland gave Lady Warnock a platform for her unChristian views, especially considering the Church of Scotland's position:

"The Church of Scotland is opposed to all forms of euthanasia. Doctor-assisted dying may currently be seen as one option for the terminally ill, but we are concerned that it may come to be regarded as a duty in future.

"The situation must never arise where the terminally-ill or the very elderly feel pressurised by society to end their lives."

Some people will regard Lady Warnock's opinions as progressive. Her opinions are, in fact, a regression to the brutal ancient world, when enforced suicide as a punishment was commonplace. She implies that some patients should, like Socrates, accept death so as not to inconvenience the state, society and themselves with a troublesome existence.

Lady Warnock is considerably more honest than the government about the pro-euthanasia nature and agenda of the Mental Capacity Act:

"If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die.

"I think that's the way the future will go, putting it rather brutally, you'd be licensing people to put others down."

Interestingly, according to Melanie Philips, the commentator, Lady Warnock "was fully aware that her incurably ill husband, Geoffrey [pictured with Lady Warnock], accepted the help of a family doctor to take lethal doses of morphine in order to end his life."

Even more interestingly, the Wikipedia entry on Lady Warnock says:

"She never knew her eldest sibling, Malcolm, who was severely mentally handicapped with autism and cared for in a nursing home, spending his last days in a Dorset Hospital."

Perhaps if she had known Malcolm, she would have been exposed at a formative age to the humanity of caring for the disabled, and the disabled of today would not be burdened by her inhuman ideas.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The threat to fundamental human rights in Europe

Following the atrocities of World War II, the international community attempted to restore peace and justice to the world. Not only did they bring the sword of justice on the heads of those who attacked the dignity of the human person, but they also articulated fundamental shared values, which would serve as a basis for the future protection of every member of the human family. The United Nations was assembled and produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which assured individuals of their fundamental rights regardless of age, sex, race or disability. Western countries were unanimous in their adoption of the declaration, and breathed a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they were united in defence of, amongst other things, their inherent right to life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

In his article entitled ‘Human Rights Pitted Against Man,’ author Jakob Cornides (who spoke at SPUC's national conference earlier this month) indicates that a new era of rights is dawning upon us. The rights articulated in the UDHR and most fundamentally known to us are under threat. Jakob Cornides devotes this paper to examining the nature and extent of that threat.

Cornides identifies the current threat to human rights as the result of a subtle power shift to unelected international bodies seeking to advance a new doctrine of human rights. His article addresses two examples of this emerging ideology through reference to: (1) a Legal Opinion published by a Network of Experts on Fundamental Rights set up by the European Union (EU), and (2) a decision handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Tysiac v Poland. While the Legal Opinion challenges the freedom of those in the medical profession to conscientiously object to certain practices like abortion, both examples take unfounded steps towards establishing abortion as a new 'human right.'

However, according to a classical conception of rights, which Cornides upholds, it is not possible to advance a new doctrine of human rights. On this view, basic human rights have to hold in all times and places. There can be no such a thing as a basic human right that thwarts a natural human function, as occurs in abortion – especially when a right to abortion would so directly undermine the right to life. Nor can our list of human rights expand. Cornides draws on ancient authors such as Cicero in defence of this assertion. His current concern is that we are witnessing a concerted attempt on the international stage to elicit a twofold shift in the conception of rights: first, a shift in the criteria for what constitutes a right, which means that the list of rights is ever-expanding and changing; and second, an abandonment of a natural hierarchy of rights, which weakens, amongst other things, the logical primacy of the right to life.

An example of this shifting doctrine of human rights is present in the Network's Legal Opinion, which raises concerns about the role of conscientious objection clauses in concordats. (The Opinion is solely responding to conscientious objection clauses in concordats with the Holy See, specifically a draft concordat between Slovakia and the Holy See). The Opinion asserts that clauses which grant a subjective right to medical practitioners to abstain from medical procedures (such as abortion) would: (1) deny women lawful access to abortions, and (2) discriminate between medical practitioners according to their religious faith, or lack thereof. Cornides explains the genesis of the Network’s Opinion and responds to its concerns, which he considers to be pre-emptive and replete with numerous contradictions. He also exposes the Network's manipulation of basic terms, its omission of important facts, its inadequacies in research and misdiagnosis of the issue. Cornides reveals the Network’s Opinion to be anything but a reliable exposition of the truth of the matter. While recognising that this Opinion has no legal force, Cornides argues that documents such as this have significant political influence on the international stage.

The case of Tysiac v Poland (Application 5410/03), hailed by pro-abortion activists as a breakthrough, is a somewhat different example of an attempt to force the recognition of a right to abortion. It is an attempt, Cornides says, “… not openly, but through the back door.” The decision of the ECHR is serious, because unlike the Network of Experts, it is harder to ignore.

In this case, the plaintiff sought an abortion fearing that the strain of her pregnancy would further deteriorate her already severely impaired eyesight. Despite these risks, the plaintiff was denied access to the procedure by several doctors because there were other ways to avoid the risk – such as delivery by caesarean section. However, when Tysiac's child was born and her eyesight rapidly deteriorated some six weeks later, she took action against her medical practitioners. The Polish courts decided that the doctors involved had no case to answer, but unsatisfied, Tysiac went to the ECHR. In the end, the ECHR effectively disciplined Poland for failing to ensure access to legal abortion services. The fact that the abortion was not lawful under Polish law was disregarded. As was the fact that “eight specialists had unanimously declared that they had not found any threat or any link between the pregnancy and delivery and the deterioration of the applicant’s eyesight” (Dissenting opinion of Judge Borrego Borrego, para 10). Cornides explores a whole range of issues with regard to this case, including the attempt by an international court to trump domestic law. He also shows how, through failing to apply the law to the facts in question, the courts of law which once brought the sword of justice on the heads of those who demeaned the dignity of the human person are now bringing it to fall on the heads of those who uphold human dignity and seek to protect human life.

Cornides shows how this recent attack on human rights has been launched by highly influential international bodies, who assume authority that they do not have. He does so in a context where abortion is still considered a crime in most countries and is fundamentally contrary to the doctrines of major world religions. Pulling no punches, Cornides is scathing: “Today’s innovators … use obscure and dishonest strategies to attain their objective. They have a habit of using manipulative and misleading language, obfuscating and denying reality, inventing and distorting statistics, putting subjective sentiments in the place of objective facts. Their talking and writing is not characterized by transparency, but by falsehood, mimicry and waffle …”

While the new language of rights may seem persuasive, in reality it is nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing. In the words of Pope John Paul II, Cornides warns us to beware the “new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden than its predecessors which attempts to pit even human rights against the family and against man.”

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Taking the pro-life battle around the country

Rt Rev Ambrose Griffiths OSB, former Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, attended a meeting at which I spoke in Lancashire on Monday evening. He was joined by several other clergy, both Catholic and Anglican, in an enthusiastic audience of 65 people.

Last night was the second in a series of public meetings about how we must strengthen the pro-life battle in Britain and Northern Ireland. We were at the Fox Lane Sports Club, Leyland, and the event was masterfully organised by Mr David Newton who lives in the town. We hope to found an SPUC branch there.

My hour-long talk, after which I took questions, included dire warnings about the abortion-related amendments to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which returns to the House of Commons next month. These measures would further liberalise Britain's abortion regime, perhaps even extending it to Northern Ireland.

I urged those present to write to their MPs and to Mr Gordon Brown, the prime minister, to oppose these amendments. If they are debated, we want MPs to oppose them (and in fact the whole bill) because they could produce the worst development of the Abortion Act since 1990.

Last Wednesday (10 September) I gave a similar talk to around 100 people (again including clergy) at St Patrick's Catholic parish, Newport, Gwent. A coachload of people had come down from the valleys and others came from Cardiff. Fr Brian Cuddihy IC, parish priest, attended the meeting which was convened by Norman Plaisted, chairman of the town's SPUC branch.

These meetings are well-attended, I think, because people are worried that something terribly wrong is happening in the country. I hear concerns at how, through the Connexions scheme, schools in England have become part of the abortion-establishment. Children in England under the age of consent can be referred for abortion and given abortifacient drugs and devices, even in faith schools. Parents aren't even told, let alone asked for their agreement.

My next meeting in the series will be in Rotherham at 7.30 pm tomorrow-week (Wednesday 24 September) in Blessed Trinity church hall, Northfield Lane, Wickersley, S66 2HF. The organisers are Michael and Sally Hill, our keen supporters in that South Yorkshire town, and they can be called on (01709) 547307.

As I was preparing in an ante-room for the Newport meeting, I overheard a conversation between two local ladies. One of them was about to visit an elderly woman who needed help with some sewing she was doing. It struck me as remarkable that, while some members of our society are engaged in practical works of charity for others, there are people intent on bringing abortion to children in schools.

Conscientious objection to supplying birth control

A pharmacy in Michigan has stopped selling birth control drugs and devices because of the abortifacient threat they can pose. Mike Koelzer, the pharmacist (pictured) explained how some birth control makes the womb hostile to newly-conceived embryonic children: "It would be similar to taking a field, putting an asphalt parking lot on top of it, and then trying to grow a lawn on it".

Here in Britain Dr Evan Harris, the extreme anti-life MP, has tabled an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill aimed at removing protection from such pharmacists. If passed the amendment would prevent anyone using the conscience clause in the 1967 Abortion Act to defend their decision not to supply (or to be complicit in supplying) birth control. The amendment basically denies that killing an embryo before his or her implantation in the womb is an abortion. The amendment seems to be designed to force all doctors, nurses and pharmacists to prescribe, provide, dispense or administer birth control when requested to do so.

Dr Harris is a front-bench spokesman of the Liberal Democrat party. Let me hasten to add that SPUC is neutral in terms of political parties. The party's constitution claims that Liberal Democrats "champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals", "acknowledge and respect [individuals'] right to freedom of conscience" and "reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon [inter alia] religion". (It should be noted that many conscientious objectors to embryo killing, while basing their objection on the scientific fact that life begins at fertilisation/conception, are also motivated to object by their religious beliefs.)

Perhaps Dr Harris might like to explain to his party why he feels he has permission to dissent from its core principles, by promoting amendments which violate them?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Abortion on demand leads to abortion by coercion

Our colleagues at LifeNews report that a man in Massachusetts has been charged with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend because she refused to have an abortion.

Pregnant women are often put under intense pressure and abortion can seem to be the only option. Our colleagues at the Elliot Institute have found that 64% of abortions involve coercion. They also point out that the leading cause of death among pregnant women is homicide, and in many cases it is known that the violence happened solely to prevent birth.

As abortion has been declared to be a constitutional right in the United States, abortion is almost totally unrestricted. In Britain, pro-abortion MPs are seeking to move the law as far as possible towards the American situation, through amendments to the Abortion Act 1967 via the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill. We owe it to women to act now to stop those amendments, because easier access to abortion places women under pressure to have abortions.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Celebrate International Day of Peace in the Womb on Sunday, 21st September 2008

Pat Buckley, one of the world’s foremost pro-life lobbyists at the UN, has called for governments throughout the world to declare an amnesty for babies starting on Sunday week, 21st September, the day designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Peace. He cites Mother Teresa who called abortion “the greatest destroyer of peace” in her unforgettable Nobel lecture when she received the Nobel Peace Prize, on 11th December 1979.

Let’s respond to Pat’s call and to Mother Teresa’s prophetic lecture, and make Sunday week, 21st September, the International Day of Peace in the Womb. Mother Teresa began her lecture saying: “As we have gathered here together to thank God for the Nobel Peace Prize I think it will be beautiful that we pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi … ”

I suggest that Christian pro-lifers write to their pastors this week, enclosing a copy of Mother Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture and asking them, if possible, to draw attention to the following words and to lead the faithful in the prayer of St. Francis:

“As soon as he [Jesus] came in her life - immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child - the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child, was the first messenger of peace. He recognised the Prince of Peace, he recognised that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me … but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing … And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child - I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me - there is nothing between …”

The UN website suggests: “A Peace Day event can be as simple as lighting a candle or meditate on Peace on September 21”.

Christians and non-Christians alike might like to celebrate the International Day of Peace by meditating on Mother Teresa’s words – and saying the prayer of St. Francis which you can find at the foot of Mother Teresa’s lecture to which I link above.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The false dichotomy behind assisted suicide

Today's Independent features an interview with Debbie Purdy (pictured with her husband Omar, outside the high court), a lady with multiple sclerosis who is pursuing a legal challenge relating to assisted suicide. SPUC is seeking to intervene in the case so I can't comment here on the case itself. I can say, however, that The Independent's interview is at best biased and at worst seriously factually misleading.

Dignity, compassion and solidarity are all at the heart of the pro-life response to illness and disability. Protecting life and autonomy, providing good palliative care and ensuring people's psychological welfare are, and should in practice be, inseparable. It is the pro-euthanasia movement which implies or even claims that these things can be mutually contradictory. They claim that the good of life can be an obstacle to the good of autonomy, and that a patient's psychological welfare can't be ensured if palliative care can't permanently remove all pain. This is because they don't or won't realise that:
  • only if life is protected as an inalienable good will the vulnerable be protected against violations of autonomy and dignity
  • palliative care can help all patients and treat most pain
  • illness, suffering and disability are an inevitable experience of the human condition which challenges us to care, not kill.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Men are victims of abortion too

A conference was held earlier this week in Chicago to highlight the little-acknowledged fact that men are victims of abortion too. The conference, entitled "Reclaiming Fatherhood: A Multifaceted Examination of Men Dealing with Abortion", was organised by the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

SPUC, in cooperation with our sister organisation British Victims of Abortion (BVA), have also been highlighting the effect of abortion upon:
  • men who are excluded from the abortion decision
  • men who are against abortion or what one would term pro-life
  • married men whose spouses abort against their will
  • men who are ambivalent about the abortion decision.
Pictured is Mr Charles McCann of Torquay, at a Silent No More event organised by SPUC and BVA in Plymouth last year.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Pro-abortion politician says Northern Ireland is backward for opposing Abortion Act

The latest campaign for the extension of Britain's Abortion Act to Northern Ireland was launched last night at a shambolic meeting in one of Belfast's most expensive hotels. There were about 100 people there, mostly from Northern Ireland but with significant numbers from southern Ireland, England and further afield. All the usual suspects attended: the Family Planning Association, the Irish Family Planning Association, the Ulster Humanists' Association and, of course, the Socialist Workers' Party.

Only two of the 108 members of the Northern Ireland legislative assembly (MLAs) openly support the extension of the Abortion Act and both spoke at the meeting. One is the sole representative of a fringe party linked to a Loyalist terrorist group which refuses to decommission its weapons. The other MLA is from the Alliance party, which has always opposed violence.

Alliance is a small party with seven assembly members and no policy on abortion. Some Alliance MLAs are pro-life but Anna Lo, the member for South Belfast (above right), supports the extension of the 1967 act to Northern Ireland. Ms Lo told the gathering that she was not advocating abortion on demand but said she was a realist. She went on to say that women were criminalised by Northern Ireland's "ancient law" which only permits abortion on strictly medical grounds.

Northern Ireland, she said, had always been a conservative society but if the province wanted to attract people and stop the brain drain, it had to be more liberal. "How can we remain so backward?" she asked. In fact, there is no brain drain from Northern Ireland and, if a society wants to have more talented young people, then it should not kill them before they are born.

When the Olympic torch was making its way through Britain, Ms Lo's son was involved in protests against China's appalling human rights record. It is sad, therefore, that someone from a culture where abortion has been the cause of so much suffering should be blind to the injustice of British abortion law. Later when speaking to a member of SPUC who attended the meeting, Ms Lo refused to believe that it was legal in Britain to abort a child with a disability right up to birth.

It is regrettable that she implies that many of the people who elected her to the Northern Ireland Assembly are backward. While no country has a perfect human rights record, there is no comparison between the problems Northern Ireland has seen and what goes on every day in China, where women are forcibly aborted and baby girls are abandoned to die because of the traditional preference for sons.

When it comes to abortion Ms Lo is not the realist she thinks she is. She admits that, in the past, she has helped women get abortions, and she is now advocating a law which she clearly doesn't understand. Ms Lo owes the people of Northern Ireland an apology for calling them backward because they believe that unborn children have a right to life. Rather than being backward, Northern Ireland does pretty well in many ways, including having the UK's lowest maternal mortality rate.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Government spends more on failed, ethically bankrupt, anti-life, anti-family teenage pregnancy campaign

Today’s on-line edition of Sales Promotion magazine regales us with news that Iris London, the marketing agency, has won an advertising contract from the government to promote condom use.

The deal has been struck by the government’s Central Office of Information on behalf of the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), which run the government’s sexual health and teenage pregnancy initiatives.

This news is replete with tragic ironies. From past experience, Iris London’s campaign promoting condoms will
  • lead to an increase in sexual ill-health
  • lead to an increase in the numbers of unborn children being killed, and
  • may lead to an increase in the number of under-age conceptions.
So the Department of Health will effectively be promoting disease; and the Department for Children, Schools and Families will effectively be promoting
  • more killing of unborn children
  • the blighting of children’s lives, and
  • the undermining of families (as parents are barred from knowing about their children’s confidential access to birth control).
The Sales Promotion magazine article says:

“Campaigns will aim to engage the young audiences at timely and actionable moments to help reduce the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections and under-18 conception rates as well as ensuring accurate information and advice is available about sex and relationships for those under 16.”

The record over virtually a decade shows: it won’t work. We should ask our MPs to find out how much this campaign will cost – another drop in the vast ocean of money the government has spent on its failed, ethically bankrupt, anti-life, anti-family teenage pregnancy campaign.

Monday, 8 September 2008

TUC abortion policy, agreed today, plays into the hands of unscrupulous employers

This is a warning to watch out for the insidious promotion of abortion at your place of work.

This afternoon at the Trades Union Conference (TUC) conference in Brighton, the TUC voted through a motion to promote abortion. Amongst other things, Motion 19 calls on trade unions to promote abortion rights within the work place under the guise of ‘equal rights’.

There is the usual shameless promotion of abortion on demand but there are two parts of the motion to which I particularly draw attention: a call for the publication of “guidance and support for trade unions on workplace issues relating to access to abortion and time off for treatment” (section vi) and a call for the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland (section iv).

The truth is that abortion hurts women and abortion is the antithesis of equal rights. My worry is that promoting abortion in places of work will also promote an anti-woman, anti-motherhood, agenda in the workplace. Unscrupulous employers seeking to avoid key workers taking up to a year’s maternity leave might well find the TUC policy of promoting abortion within place of work very convenient. How convenient for employers to put their selfish business interests first under the guise of women’s rights!

This is also a call to people in the workplace in Northern Ireland. As I have blogged previously the pro-abortion lobby is spreading lies about backstreet abortion in Northern Ireland. Now the TUC, no doubt on the basis of such lies, is joining the campaign to impose the British Abortion Act on Northern Ireland against the wishes of the people there. Propaganda in the workplace put out by pro-abortion trade unionists in Northern Ireland should be actively challenged and resisted.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Julie Burchill wins the third George Orwell prize

Post-abortion trauma (PAT), sometimes called post-abortion syndrome, is a condition members of the pro-life movement come across a great deal. I suspect this is chiefly because we are among the few sections of society prepared to offer genuine support to women suffering after abortion. Professor Philip Ney, the psychiatrist, states: “From clinical and research observations, I have concluded that abortion is the most deeply damaging trauma that can happen to any human.”

A study conducted in New Zealand, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2006 concluded: “Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders. This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors.”

The Elliot Institute's website contains thousands of pages of research, case studies and other resources on post-abortion problems including PAT. Organisations such as BVA, Good Counsel Network, Life and Silent No More work around the clock offering help and support to women and men struggling after an abortion experience.

In spite of the overwhelming evidence that abortion hurts women, the abortion lobby continue to dismiss or ignore it, whilst at the same time letting slip from time to time that abortion does indeed carry the risk of psychological and emotional harm.

The Brook Advisory Service's website fails to mention anything at all about the emotional and psychological after-effects of abortion. It might of course be covered in the pamphlets on sale at their online shop, but the abortion page on the site simply ignores the subject. Likewise, the section on abortion on the BUPA website makes no mention of how a woman may feel after an abortion, aside of physical symptoms.

The RCOG comes within a whisker of treating PAT honestly, then uses the usual "it is probably not the fault of the abortion, you are probably just like that" argument to dismiss the problem:

“Some studies suggest that women who have had an abortion may be more likely to have psychiatric illness or to self-harm than other women who give birth or are of a similar age. However, there is no evidence that these problems are actually caused by the abortion; they are often a continuation of problems a woman has experienced before.”

Later, the RCOG states that a woman should be offered “further counselling if you experience continuing distress (this happens to a few women and is usually related to personal circumstances)".

FPA's leaflet for young people claims that "most women who choose an abortion do not regret it" and that "only a few women have any long-term psychological problems and those women who do often had similar problems before pregnancy." FPA state that women should seek help if they are "feeling upset about having had an abortion", but none of the cartoon-faces illustrating the point express regret:
  • “I just felt very relieved after the abortion. I still do!”
  • “Sometimes I wonder what having a baby would have been like. But, no, I don't regret it.”
  • “I was surprised how sad I felt, but I must admit we were both really relieved.”
The token sad girl states: “It was a difficult time for me – not just the abortion. Counselling really helped me.” So even in her case, abortion is not the primary cause of her unhappiness.

An interesting angle on the subject at Women on Web, modern-day backstreet abortionists who send abortion drugs to women in pro-life countries. As expected, Women on Web do their best to dismiss the likelihood of mental distress following an abortion since “feelings of regret after abortion are rare. Indeed, the most common emotional response after abortion is relief.” If women do feel bad, readers are told, it is likely to be the fault of “taboo and social stigma” or guilt “because they don't feel guilty about having an abortion, but think they should feel guilty.”

The confusion expressed on the website, however, only serves to highlight the conflict that exists within the abortion movement itself. For example, readers are informed that “most psychiatric experts doubt the existence of 'post-abortion syndrome' and point out that abortion is not significantly different from any other stressful life experience that might cause trauma in some people.” So, is there a risk of a trauma response after abortion or isn't there? Straight after assuring readers that “most women who have abortions experience little or no psychological harm”, the FAQ reads: “What can I do to help myself heal after an abortion?” Is this the healing that women only rarely need? Healing from an overwhelming sense of relief perhaps?

Then there are the few pro-abortion types who actually use the unhappiness women experience after abortion to promote their cause. I was browsing "Abortion changes you". I should point out immediately that it appears to be a very good site, offering women the opportunity to explore their feelings after an abortion and seek help and healing. The stories posted on the site are by no means a reflection of the site's own policy on abortion and they make heartbreaking reading, charting the journeys of women abandoned by families, boyfriends or husbands as soon as they became pregnant, very young women frightened by the prospect of raising a child alone.

“I chose to pretend like nothing happened,” wrote one. “I had a mask in place to make it look, to the outside world any way that I had it all together. No one even knew I went into deep depression every year around Easter and then again in December, when my little girl would have been born.” “Whoever is thinking about having an abortion, please THINK OVER AGAIN. It's your baby. Or else you'll regret later like me and some others.” “Every day I live with regret, shame, and sadness. I hate myself for what I've done.”

Tucked in the midst of all these stories is a "prayer" someone has posted which is supposed to help women who have had abortions. It is taken from a book entitled “Talking to God."

“A Prayer After the Termination of a Pregnancy:

“I made a decision, God, to terminate my pregnancy. This choice was not made lightly. I prayed, I meditated, I searched by soul for an answer. I knew in my heart that I should not complete this pregnancy.

“You know my heart, God. You know my pain. You know my anguish. In your infinite wisdom, I pray that You will glean the spark of potential life and plant it where it may grow and flourish.

“Help me, God. Shield me from the reproach of those who do not know my heart. Teach me how to overcome feelings of shame and guilt.

“Let me begin again, God. Lead me to new hope, to new joy. Hear me, heal me, never leave me.


It is almost blasphemous in its self-justification, basically saying: "God, I just wanted to tell you what a good, upright person I am! And it wasn't really a human life, it was a 'potential life', so that's all right then, but do please protect me against these nasty pro-life types who keep pointing out that there is a something wrong about abortion." It is a stark reminder that religion can be used to manipulate women into accepting an experience their own feelings and instincts tell them should never have happened.

But once again, the George Orwell Prize goes to an individual. Step forward Julie Burchill, for her breathtakingly ignorant and bitchy attack on women suffering after abortion, published in The Guardian no less.

“No doubt if you're the sort of lumbering, self-obsessed poltroon who believes that seeing Mommy kissing Santa Claus 30 years ago irrevocably marked your life, you wouldn't get over an abortion, as you wouldn't get over stubbing your toe without professional help. But you choose to be that way, because you are weak and vain, and you think your pain is important. Whereas the rest of us know not only that our pain is not important, but that it probably isn't even pain - just too much time on our hands.”

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

Friday, 5 September 2008

Bishops preaching the gospel of life

The Catholic bishops of the United States have released a fact-sheet, seeking to correct some common misunderstandings and mispresentations of the Catholic church's teaching on abortion. The fact-sheet has been written specifically "[i]n response to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin". Nancy Pelosi (pictured), the US senate majority leader, has sought to justify her support for legal permission to kill the unborn on the basis of that error. In Britain, Professor Lisa Jardine, the recently-appointed head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has misrepresented Catholic thinking on life, as I blogged recently.

The US bishops' fact-sheet says:

"[M]odern science has not changed the Church’s constant teaching against abortion, but has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo ... [T]o claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights."

It is very heartening for Catholics like myself to know that the US bishops are preaching the gospel of life, and in such such a helpfully factual way.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England, Part Two: Throwing children and families to the wolves

I wrote last week about the terrible betrayal of families and children by the Catholic authorities of England and Wales in relation to their co-operation with British government policy of providing schoolchildren with secret abortions and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices.

I said that it was clear to me that the Catholic Education Service (CES), chaired by Archbishop Vincent Nicols, the archbishop of Birmingham, is at the root of the problem. I said that I would be writing to the CES, as a Catholic father and as national director of SPUC, to raise a number of questions and I asked concerned readers to help me draft my letter – by checking out the links I provided on my post and letting me know their views. (If you’ve not done so, you may like to read what I wrote last week.)

My first question to the CES, quoting from the CES document “The Connexions Service working in Catholic schools in England”, was:

“Why is Connexions ‘a service to be welcomed’ [in Catholic schools and colleges] when it’s clearly a government agency which, amongst other things, refers young people to abortion agencies?”

I have some further questions to include in my letter to the CES in relation to their above document which goes on to state:

“[The Connexions Service] has also caused some concern in our Catholic community because its wide remit to provide advice and guidance to young people includes matters of personal development, and by implication, sex and relationships (SRE) education”.

My question on this is:

“Why do you use the term ‘by implication’ in the statement above in view of Connexions’ absolutely explicit demonstration of their commitment to anti-life sex and relationships education on their website?”

The CES document, above, continues: “These [matters of personal development including sex and relationship education] are the responsibility of the governing bodies of our schools and colleges and there will usually be robust policies to accompany SRE.”

My questions to the CES on this are:

“How robust do you think such policies have to be in order to prevent Connexions advisers from telling schoolchildren that they have a right to access secret abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices – and other services which are contrary to the health and moral welfare of children?

“What form of words does the CES recommend that governing bodies use to ensure that Connexions advisers never advise children about such services?

“Given that Connexions is being welcomed and, thereby, promoted in Catholic schools and colleges, is the CES aware of any robust policies which have been framed so as to ensure that Catholic schoolchildren do not regard the Connexions website – which openly refers to children’s option to choose confidential abortion services – as a useful source of information on such matters?

“The CES says that governing boides of Catholic schools and colleges will “usually” have ‘robust' policies to accompany SRE. This clearly implies that there are some Catholic schools which don’t have ‘robust’ policies in place. Are not the children and families of such schools being thrown to the wolves by the Catholic authorities of England and Wales?”

A friend in high places for the disabled

In her acceptance speech at the Republican national convention, Sarah Palin, the party's nominee for US vice-president, said:

"[I]n April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical. That's how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other... the same challenges and the same joys. Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House."

Considering that in America, as in many other countries, the overwhelming majority of unborn children diagnosed with Down's syndrome are aborted, the totally pro-life Sarah Palin would be a much-needed friend and advocate for them in the White House.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

In Britain, unborn children are treated worse than unwanted dogs

The Telegraph reports that a dog is put down every 80 minutes "for want of a home or because they were ill or aggressive". Clarissa Baldwin, head of the Dog's Trust charity, said that dogs were being treated as "throwaway commodities", adding that "dog ownership is a privilege, not a right."

We should all have a general oncern for animal welfare, and the Dog's Trust concerns are valid. The issue of human abortion is of course outside the remit of the Dog's Trust, but we should remind people that Britain treats unborn children in general far worse than dogs. Whereas one dog is killed every 80 minutes, 30 unborn children are killed in the same period. (What's more, that figure doesn't include the unrecorded abortions caused by abortifacient birth control or those IVF embryos destroyed in laboratory experiments.)

Many of those killings of unborn children occur "for want of a home" - unborn children abandoned by their mothers, often under pressure from others who regard an unexpected child as an undesirable burden. Some of those killings, however, are also on the grounds that certain babies are considered unhealthy or even perceived as aggressors (the idea that an unplanned pregnancy is an attack upon the mother).

No child need be killed for want of a home or because they are disabled, or can be regarded as an aggressor against his or her mother.

It has often been said that the English prefer their dogs to people. Abortion is a sad reflection on humans, who often behave worse towards each other than some of the most aggressive and neglected of animals.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Let's rally around Sarah Palin's family

Sarah Palin, the Republican party's proposed nominee for US vice-president, has announced that Bristol, her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, is pregnant. Sarah Palin is regarded as having a strong and total committment to the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family. Some anti-life commentators have been quick to rush to condemnation. Sarah Sand, an American columnist, has written:

"I have utter contempt for [Bristol's] mother [Sarah] ... Bristol is one year away from legally being an adult, and unfortunately for her she’s fair game ... Bristol has absolutely no choice about having a baby ... But this isn’t about Bristol. It’s about her mother, her mother’s parenting skills, judgment ... Palin is one-hundred percent responsible for putting her nearly adult daughter in the limelight and is to be condemned for it, not us who will talk about it..."

For the anti-life/anti-family lobby, sexual activity is primarily about personal pleasure, and the natural consequence of sex - a child - is such an intolerable imposition that it justifies even homicide. As Ann Furedi (a recent recipient of my George Orwell Prize) of BPAS has written:

"Sex is an accepted part of an adult relationship for which we do not expect to suffer unwanted consequences. Pregnancy is seen by an increasing number of women as an unwanted consequence that they are not prepared to adapt to ... [I]t may be time to understand that, for women, abortion is an essential method of family planning and accept it as such."

I blogged recently about how The Times has been openly promoting abortion as a good solution for teenage pregnancy.

One suspects that the controversy about Bristol Palin's pregnancy is being whipped up by the anti-life lobby via their friends in the media. They believe that having an abortion is the right thing for a teenage mother to do and they don’t want Sarah Palin and her family setting a very different example to the world – including their joyful acceptance of Trig, their Down’s Syndrome son.

I hope that reasonable-minded citizens will continue to rally around the Palin family.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Nothing honourable about Professor Robert Edwards

Alastair MacDonald, the second-ever child to be born by IVF, has called for Professor Robert Edwards, the IVF pioneer, to receive an honour for his work. There is, however, nothing honourable about IVF, which is not treatment for infertiliy but a large-scale experiment abusing and destroying early human life. Prof. Edwards revealed the true nature of IVF in his evidence to a parliamentary committee in 2004. Prof. Edwards said:

"[O]nly 15% of all human eggs will implant. We are in a disaster area here so you have to select the embryos, and we now know how to select them—just to find the 15%." (JS: By "eggs" Prof. Edwards means fertilised eggs i.e. embryos)

As SPUC has pointed out repeatedly, the vast majority of human beings conceived in the laboratory are discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments.

Prof. Edwards also commented about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD):

"When people say PGD is expensive, I always say what is the price of a disabled baby who is born. What is the cost for anyone to bear? That is a terrible price for anybody to bear, and the financial cost is immense. A PGD by comparison is a very small sum of money."

IVF is therefore the route by which the disabled
are killed because they are deemed to cost too much money.

Prof. Edwards revealed more of his true colours when he was asked whether a line can be drawn between embryo experimentation and eugenics. Prof. Edwards replied:

"Again, it depends what we mean by eugenics. Eugenics was started in the 1870s by an English geneticist [Francis Galton] who had the welfare of mankind in his mind. The work became degraded after 1930 caused by the Nazis ...".

Yet it was the work of Francis Galton which was the inspiration for Nazi eugenics. (Wesley J. Smith, a leading American pro-life bioethicist, has commented about Galton's eugenics on his blog Secondhand Smoke).

Prof. Edwards showed the slippery slope in action:

"One of my ambitions is to take a sample of blood and take a white cell in place of a gamete for patients who do not have their own gametes. That would be wonderful and, by the way, that would involve cloning and that is why I do not agree with abandoning cloning either. I think you have to leave your mind open on all these questions. You never know where you are going to be next week! We may find that cloning helps infertile patients.

In response to the committee request to define "embryo", Prof. Edwards said variously:

"[Y]ou have to define human life and I would not like to do that ... I would say that most scientists I know would be very unwilling to define too hard because we understand what we are doing and I can understand what all my colleagues are doing in the advance of research. I am not trying to be unhelpful ... I think the answer is to make your own definition."

This sort of evasive, hazy and self-serving approach would be unacceptable in any other professional field. Imagine a reconnaissance officer who would observe an enemy position and report back: "Well, I wouldn't want to say what type of things I saw ... most of us reconnaissance officers don't like to describe too clearly what we see, we just know instinctively ... I think we should just make it up as we feel." Imagine the general's anger and the subsequent court-martial!

Yet the committee - dominated by some of parliament's most notorious anti-lifers - agreed with Prof. Edwards's approach, which is now reflected in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill! Indeed, this approach is a stock-in-trade tactic of the anti-life movement. Among other times, this tactic was successfully deployed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey case; against SPUC's court challenge on the morning-after pill; and more recently by Barack Obama.

Returning to Prof. Edwards, he is both a deeply disturbing and deeply unimpressive promoter of unethical science, and deserves no honour.