Saturday, 1 November 2008

Embryo bill passes parliament, ethics abandoned

This week the British parliament finally passed the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, following a House of Lords (pictured) debate on changes made to the bill by the House of Commons.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, who was at the debate, reported:

"A number of Lords were particularly concerned by the denial of legal fatherhood as a means of giving equal parental rights to lesbians. They were also concerned by the bill's permission to use, without consent, archived genetic material in research, including for the creation of embryos.
The government, however, used its majority to crush even the most modest attempts to restrict some of the bill's most radical proposals."

Anthony commented further:

"The whole bill and the way it has been passed through parliament represent a suppression of ethics and human nature by utilitarian extremists among the science lobby. This is why concerned scientists and physicians have acted to try to stop such a suppression happening again, by presenting
a declaration to UNESCO." (I blogged earlier this week about this declaration.)

Intervener SPUC relieved at defeat of Purdy assisted suicide legal challenge

Debbie Purdy's legal challenge thankfully was rejected on Wednesday by the High Court.

SPUC was an intervener in the case, submitting written evidence to the court.

Mrs Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis and is backed by the pro-euthanasia group "Dignity in Dying", challenged the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) regarding his approach to assisted suicides by Britons at the Dignitas centre in Zurich, Switzerland. Mrs Purdy has said that she may wish to commit suicide in Switzerland and wishes to know whether her husband is likely to be prosecuted if he assists her. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK.

Mrs Purdy is pictured above with her husband Omar, with Sarah Wootton and another representative of Dignity in Dignity standing behind them.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said outside the High Court:

"Firstly, we extend our compassion to Mrs Purdy and her husband and hope that instead of assisted suicide, she will receive all the palliative care and other assistance she requires. Mrs Purdy's life is worth living to its natural end. She is not better off dead.

"Secondly, we are relieved that the court has rejected the claims made by Mrs Purdy's lawyers. The underlying objective of the case, brought by the pro-euthanasia lobby, was to undermine the law on assisted suicide. The ban on assisted suicide protects the value and dignity of human life.

"The death-for-disability lobby are a lethal threat to vulnerable individuals. Allowing assisted suicide would create pressure, either real or perceived, upon the vulnerable. Allowing suicide does nothing to address the medical, psychological or other needs of the terminally-ill."

Fellow MS sufferer, SPUC member Mary Corrigan said: "MS is a terrible disease, and major depression and suicide are more common among MS people than most other groups. It is important that the court got the full picture of what this case could have lead to, and that is why SPUC intervened."

In May 2006 Parliament rejected a bill to allow assisted suicide.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Cherie Blair endorses radical pro-abortion UN agenda

A quick visit to Cherie Blair's website reveals that she endorses a radical pro-abortion agenda by the United Nations.

In the section About this site, Mrs Blair writes:

"This website is dedicated to the issues that concern me, to helping improve the position of women throughout the world by sharing information and by safeguarding and promoting human rights. At the heart of the website is the Women of the World section."

On a page in the Women of the World section, Mrs Blair says:

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

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

The page ends by linking to the CEDAW committee, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW convention. 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. Most recently, the CEDAW committee issued a report calling upon the UK government to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

Elsewhere on her website, Mrs Blair lists Human Rights Watch as one of the charities she supports. It should be noted that Human Rights Watch is one of the most radically pro-abortion international NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

Mrs Blair, like her husband Tony, is often listed as a Catholic. Yet like her husband, Mrs Blair has a long track-record of promoting anti-life and anti-family causes, in opposition to Catholic teaching. In July 2003, Mrs Blair endorsed the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world’s leading promoter and provider of abortion, by hosting a private reception at 10 Downing Street (the prime minister’s residence) for IPPF’s “Lust for Life” fundraising campaign. At the annual Labour party conference in September 2005, Mrs Blair celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Family Planning Association (fpa), the UK branch of IPPF, helping to cut a special birthday cake (and pictured here jokingly offering a condom to the camera-man.) Both IPPF and FPA endorsed the failed campaign to remove the Holy See from the United Nations.

It is therefore deplorable that an abortion-promoter like Mrs Blair was invited to speak last week at the Dominican University of California. The university describes itself as a "university of Catholic heritage", which "seeks to embody Dominican educational ideals" such as "deep respect for the dignity and worth of the individual" and "respect for the human person, with a concern for individual human rights". What about the unborn, whom Mrs Blair is conspiring against?

Organisations associated with the Catholic Church (or indeed any group, religious or secular, opposed to abortion) should not invite Mrs Blair to their events - or her husband, as I blogged recently.

Scientists and physicians defend embryonic children as UNESCO committee meets

Scientists and physicians from around the world have presented a declaration on human rights for nascent human beings.

The signatories include human-biology research scientists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, professors of a range of disciplines, doctors in general practice and nurses. They have joined together to declare the truth about the human embryo.

The signatories' action is a collective response to this week's meeting in Paris of UNESCO's international bioethics committee, which is discussing whether so-called therapeutic cloning should be banned worldwide.

The declaration among other things, says:

"We, in our capacity as members of society who undertake scientific discovery and deliberate on scientific knowledge, herein pledge to respect the inherent rights of human embryos and foetuses during our quest for beneficial knowledge, just as we respect the inviolable and inalienable rights of children and adults."

It also says: "We request the removal of all existing permissions and practices that enable negative discrimination against human embryos and foetuses. Chief among these are the legalisation of abortion and approval for research that harms or destroys human embryos."

The declaration adds: "We declare that every stage in the developmental continuum of human life has the same right to life and right to protection from harm as all others."

The full text and current list of signatories is on the web at The declaration remains open there for signing, and scientists and physicians are invited to sign it.

UNESCO is the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee (IBC) was founded in 1993.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The teaching of the Catholic Church is the same in England and Spain

There's a big contrast between the position adopted by the Catholic authorities in England and Wales and the Catholic authorities in Spain on government-imposed courses relating to human sexuality.

In England, the Catholic Education Service (CES), on behalf of the bishops, makes it clear that that it will collaborate with the government’s plans and that it hopes that parents will not choose to opt out by withdrawing their children from sex education.

In sharp contrast, Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente of Segorbe , the president of the Spanish Bishops’ Committee on Education, said last week that said last week parents have the right to conscientiously object to the controversial material included in the Education for Citizenship course which the government is imposing on all schools.

It's time that Catholic families in England and Wales were defended and encouraged by the Catholic authorities, as they are in Spain, rather than exposed to the insidious and determined agenda of the British government on matters relating to human sexuality and abortion, as I have said before on this blog. The teaching of the Catholic Church is, after all, the same in England and in Spain.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Government is behaving like the Nazis says Cardinal O'Brien

Cardinal O'Brien has just released an open letter to Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister. It is characteristically forceful and prophetic.

If you've not already done so, visit SPUC's latest lobbying alert on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, take the action recommended and lend support to Cardinal O'Brien's splendid open letter:


28 October 2008

Dear Gordon

I write this open letter to you on a matter of immediate urgency, namely tomorrow’s debate in the Lords on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Although I was relieved that last week’s debate in the Commons on the Bill did not address the issue of abortion, I remain convinced that the Bill is misguided and certain sections are potentially most harmful.

Among these is Schedule 3 which has never been properly discussed in Parliament. It provides for taking tissue from incapacitated adults and children without their consent for the express purpose of creating embryos for research. It will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow (Wednesday 29 October) with Government support.

The Bill could allow for the derivation and use of human eggs from the ovarian tissue of aborted baby girls, a proposal which was first aired by the HFEA in 1994. The HFEA public consultation at that time showed that 83.2% of the 9,000 respondents opposed the practice, and even the few in favour underlined the necessity of consent.

Should this Bill become law, removing tissue from incapacitated adults or children, without their specific consent in order to create animal-human hybrid or other embryos would be permissible, as would creating artificial sperm or artificial eggs from bone marrow or even cord blood.
The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying. The proposals in this Bill represent a breach of 50 years of ethical medical research. They by-pass the Declaration of Helsinki, the Human Tissue Act, the Mental Capacity Act and the Human Rights Act. Removing parts of people’s bodies without their consent, utterly flies in the face of all BMA and GMC guidance on consent to research.

Such behaviour was last seen under the Nazis. Following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, the full horrors of the Nazi’s atrocities were revealed to a shocked world. The hideous savagery of their experiments convinced the civilized world that such practices must be outlawed forever. I am appalled that you are promoting a Bill which seeks, by stealth, to create a regime where extracting tissue and cells from human beings no longer requires their consent or involvement.

I am staggered that you would endorse legislation, which describes the creation of embryos from a person without their consent as 'non-invasive' and which enshrines the concept of ‘presumed consent’ in UK law. This legislation would set a nightmarish precedent, by allowing scientists to experiment on those lacking capacity - in the absence of explicit consent - largely as they see fit.

I urge you to amend Schedule 3 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as a matter of great urgency and human decency.

Yours sincerely in Christ

+ Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Monday, 27 October 2008

Philippines statesman challenges academics using Catholic status to promote population bill

In a measured and authoritative article on his blog, Francisco "Kit" Tatad, disposes of the pretensions of a group of academics from Ateneo university purporting to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church. They support a bill before the Philippines parliament, entitled An Act Providing For A National Policy On Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood And Population Development, And For Other Purposes.

I have blogged on the bill (Philippines reproductive health bill has totalitarian elements) and SPUC commissioned and published a commentary on it prepared by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute.

Kit Tatad, a former cabinet minister, senator, publisher, editor and newspaper columnist has been at the forefront of Philippines politics for over 40 years. When he was just 29, he was the youngest person ever to be appointed to the cabinet.

A Reading from 14 Ateneo Professors, Kit Tatad's article, begins: "Fouteen 'Ateneo professors' argue that the highly controversial reproductive health bill 'adheres to Catholic social teaching' and that 'Catholics can support it in good conscience.' They ask 'our bishops and fellow Catholics' not to block passage of House Bill 5043.

"How should a 'fellow Catholic' respond? With profound humility, I suppose, but with a firm resolve not to be misled. The 'professors' identify themselves as 'individual faculty' whose opinions 'do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ateneo de Manila University nor the Society of Jesus.'

"It is a crafty disclaimer. If they truly wanted to speak as individual Catholics, they could have done so without using the Ateneo label. But they clearly did not mind cashing in on Ateneo’s Catholic reputation.

"Opposition to House Bill 5043 arises mainly from the fact that it seeks, among other things, to legalize a State program of contraception and sterilization that will require married couples to contracept or sterilize themselves before engaging in marital sex, and make available contraceptives and sterilization devices as 'essential medicines' even to unmarried individuals. It also seeks to impose a 'mandatory sex education' on all children, from Grade V up to high school, without parental consent, to prepare them for 'a safe and satisfying sex life' ... "

Read on here. It's important for Catholics to be alert to the growing phenomenon of those who use their membership of the Catholic Church, or their official position within it, to undermine the teaching of the Church on the sanctity of human life and to impose anti-life policies on Catholic families. Regular readers of my posts about the situation of Catholics in England will recognise this trend. Former Senator Kit Tatad provides a good example of how to challenge their deceptive work.