Saturday, 15 November 2008

Obamania is a condition linked to Tonyblairmania

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 14 November 2008

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

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

Alison writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 13 November 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Obamania spreads to Catholic bishops

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental Capacity Act creates impetus for lethal dose assisted suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Evan Harris given a special lifetime Orwell award

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 10 November 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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