Saturday, 19 February 2011

The pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Act undermines professional judgement and patient care

Michael Wendell Thomas, a veteran SPUC activist from Wales, provides an insightful perspective in a letter to The Telegraph about the Mental Capacity Act. The Telegraph neglected to publish it, but the author has kindly given me permission to publish it here:
"Dear Sir,

Tim Montgomerie (ST 6th Feb) says that Andrew Lansley’s reform of the NHS is based on the principle of 'no decision about me without me'. I think there are significant drawbacks to making this a predominant principle of medicine. Doctors are trained and experienced professionals, who should always operate to high ethical standards. (It‘s unfortunate that most of them no longer swear an equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath.) The passing of the Mental Capacity Act has introduced the primacy of the wishes of the patient as the highest consideration for treatment, irrespective of the ethical principles of those who have to carry them out. The 'best interests of the patient' which used to be the predominant principle of all medicine and based on the interpretation of the professional doctor, are now simply and simplistically defined as the wishes of patient, carried out if necessary through the instructions of a third party on his behalf. Such an arrangement can override the ethics of those on whom we rely to be ethical professionals; we don’t want them to be forced to carry out euthanasia because the patient is suicidal, for example, or made his decision on refusal of treatment when medicine was less able to cope with his condition. Medical professionals are not simply private operatives to do as they are told.

From professionals we expect a high degree of training, experience and judgement; is it sensible to encourage patients to override that judgement? I was asked by a doctor what I wanted, from a choice of two options; I naturally chose home treatment as the more convenient one for me. The result was that four days later I was taken to hospital as an emergency. The next time I was asked to choose I said 'you’re the doctor; you tell me what I should do.' I wish I’d done that in the first case. It took me four days on a drip and two weeks in bed to recover from that mischoice of mine.

Michael Wendell Thomas"
Tragically, the British government, parliament, courts and medical establishment have all undermined protection for the sick, elderly and disabled through:
These changes, combined with the influence of pro-euthanasia advocates in academia and the media, has contributed to a mentality which acquiesces in neglecting certain categories of people to death.

In the light of this serious threat to our lives, visitors to this blog should consider joining Patients First Network (PFN). PFN helps you to let doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers know how you expect to be treated in hospital if you are mentally incapacitated. PFN fights against euthanasia.

If you join the Network, we give you a card and a medallion which alert medical staff, along with your family and carers, that you wish to receive appropriate medical treatment and care. Nothing should be done deliberately to end your life, nor should your health care team withdraw treatment with the deliberate intention of causing your death. You can also read and use PFN's Statement of Medical Care Principles.

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Friday, 18 February 2011

Ireland United for Life calls for absolute protection for unborn children in election appeal

Ireland United for Life is an alliance of over thirty cross-community groups, together with Dana Rosemary Scallon and Kathy Sinnott, both former members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Today the alliance held a press conference in Dublin at which they said:
"[W]e can and will only vote for parties and individual candidates who publicly pledge commitment to defend human life at all stages and we urge all concerned voters to do likewise."
To that end, they have called upon all political parties, party leaders and election candidates to sign the following pledge:
"to defend human life at all stages, from conception until natural death and that if elected - :
  • They will not dismantle Ireland’s Constitution and will maintain the people’s sovereign and democratic right, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy according to the requirements of the common good.
  • They will respect and uphold the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on Ireland’s unique pro-life status.
  • They will not legislate for abortion and will absolutely oppose any attempt by unelected judges from the European Court of Human Rights, (ECHR) to usurp the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on abortion."
Ireland United for Life
"urges all voters to vote only for candidates and parties who support this pledge"
Liam Gibson, representing SPUC Northern Ireland development officer, and Patrick Buckley, representing European Life Network, participated in the press conference and endorsed the message from Ireland United for Life. Pictured are (left to right):
  • Pat Buckley
  • Bernadette Smyth (director, Precious Life, Northern Ireland)
  • Kathy Sinnott
  • Dana Rosemary Scallon
  • Liam Gibson.
Among the speakers at the press conference were:
The moderator was Dr Eimear Thornton.

Grave concern was expressed at the Labour Party threat to introduce abortion if it forms part of a future government.

I totally endorse the message of Ireland United for Life. I also urge readers to scrutinise closely any election-time messages on pro-life issues - especially any emanating from the Catholic bishops of Ireland - for any deviations from the upholding of the absolute protection for all unborn children, inside or outside the womb, guaranteed by the Irish Constitution.

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

French pro-lifers are striving wonderfully to defend the most vulnerable human beings

Genethique, the online information website of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, has reported on a range of distinct yet related initiatives to defend embryonic children, especially disabled ones, from lethal discrimination via a revision of France's bioethics laws, currently being debated in the National Assembly:
  • 35 deputies of the assembly launched an appeal, saying that the first duty of a bioethics law is to:
"protect the fundamental rights of people, above all the most vulnerable ... [H]uman procreation is not an industrial process that should aim for 'zero defect’ ... 96% of mothers whose test comes out as positive are led to abort today. This is eugenics ... The embryo cannot be a laboratory material serving economic and financial interests ... [Human procreation cannot be regarded as an] industrial process whose effectiveness is in the hands of a ‘qualified engineer’"
  • A group of organisations representing the disabled published an appeal against:
"the eugenic abuse of which people suffering from Down’s syndrome are victims ... The exclusion that victimises the people with Down’s syndrome is clearly expressed in the immense difficulties they have in gaining access to school and the labour market. But, long before then, it is manifested firstly in the refusal to welcome them, which starts before their birth".
  • The same group of organisations have placed full-page advertisements in Le Figaro, a leading French mainstream newspaper, and elsewhere, denouncing the arguments for prenatal screening as:
"arguments that kill ... [T]his massive screening amounts today to selecting the members of a group on the basis of their genome in order to eliminate them."
I congratulate the French deputies and organisations involved in this vigorous and clear-speaking pro-life campaign. Conducting such solid defences of the right to life is our duty towards most vulnerable human beings among us.

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

SPUC defended successfully medics' rights to conscientious objection in high court

Monday's high court judgment, in which SPUC played a significant part, was not only important for the defence of women and unborn children but also for the defence of doctors and nurses who object in conscience to participation in abortion. I reproduce below a key extract from the judgment on conscientious objection (with some terms explained in square brackets).

BPAS wants to be allowed to give abortion drugs to women to take away and use elsewhere - so they don't have to take them in a clinic. But the law says that abortion "treatment" must be given at a hospital or clinic, so BPAS argued that administering abortion drugs was not part of the abortion treatment - only prescribing the drugs was 'treatment'. That is a radical argument, and SPUC pointed out to the court that if BPAS was right, and the law should be read in that way, then doctors, nurses and midwives who are sometimes asked to administer abortion drugs, especially in later abortions, would lose the right to opt out - because their conscientious objection (protected in the Abortion Act) is a right not to engage in "treatment" authorised in the Act. If administering drugs (whether oral drugs, pessaries, drips, etc) is not 'treatment' then medical staff have no right to object.

In the judgment, Mr Justice Supperstone, rejected the argument put forward by Ms Lieven the barrister for BPAS (the "Claimant") in these terms:
"Ms Lieven does not accept that the Claimant's interpretation of section 1 [treatment] of the Act is inconsistent with section 4 [conscientious objection] of the Act. Ms Gemma White, for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, intervening, submits that it is, as there will continue to be many situations in which medical professionals, in particular nurses and midwives, are asked to administer abortifacient drugs; if this claim is successful they will not be entitled to the protection of section 4 ... [BPAS' argument] is no answer, in my view, to Ms White's submission that Parliament clearly did not intend that an action which directly causes the termination of pregnancy should be outside the scope of section 4."
SPUC also provided the court with a crucial quotation from Hansard, as cited by the judge:
"It is to be noted that even in 1967 when terminations were normally by a surgical method, during a debate in Parliament on a clause which became section 4 of the Act, Mr Braine MP, the mover of the Amendment said "It is designed to take account of the fact that the termination of a pregnancy is not always and certainly may not in the future, be a surgical operation" (Hansard, 13 July 1967 at 1314). He added, "I am told that probably in the next decade, a safe chemical method of inducing therapeutic abortion may be developed and may be accepted by the medical profession." (at 1315)"
SPUC's research and legal advocacy work is absolutely vital in holding the line against attacks by the anti-life lobby. That is why we need you to donate, join, and/or leave a legacy to cover the considerable costs of that work. By supporting our work you are supporting the unborn, the disabled, the sick and the elderly and medical staff.

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Abortion recovery group welcomes high court ruling against bedroom abortion

SPUC's sister organisation ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) has welcomed yesterday's high court ruling against bedroom abortions. Margaret Cuthill, ARCH's national co-ordinator, told the media this morning:
"As a support group working in the area of abortion recovery and post-abortion trauma education for 20 years, we are encouraged by the high court judgment not to alter the provision of the Abortion Act 1967 to allow early medical abortion to occur in women’s homes.

Abortion is not good medicine for women, and does damage the emotional and psychological lives of those in crisis that make this decision. Every woman is impacted by the pregnancy loss, but this procedure adds another mentally-traumatic dimension to the abortion process.

Women in crisis pregnancy are vulnerable and will react from fear and panic, wanting to be un-pregnant. To be offered a bedroom abortion is an emotional get-out clause many in ignorance will choose. It is really an abuse too far and will add to the trauma of guilt and grief they may experience at some future stage in life.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) say it is concerned for the woman whose symptoms may begin on the journey back from the clinic. There is no substance to this concern or reliable studies to back up this statement. I am appalled that BPAS is not concerned for the woman who is in her home, in pain, bleeding and struggling with the choice she has made. Where is the concern then for not only women’s physical safety but their psychological health and well-being?"
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Monday, 14 February 2011

Pro-life doctor exposes bias of RCOG's latest abortion consultation

“The faster they come, the less they are publicised and the shorter the deadlines – meaning that it is less and less possible to make an intelligent response within the specified time frame. Is this some kind of plot to wave through controversial policy quietly whilst appearing take notice of stakeholders’ opinions? That is certainly the impression created.”
This is how Dr. Peter Saunders (pictured) of the Christian Medical Fellowship has described the latest consultation of the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) which is revising its controversial document ‘The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion’, first published in 2000, revised in 2004, and now undergoing its current revision.

The consultation is open to every person and organisation with an interest in this topic. The closing date for submissions is 18 February. Details here. There is more information about the consultation document(s) on the RCOG website.

Dr. Saunders notes the ubiquitous presence of BPAS and Marie Stopes International, in collaboration with their pro-abortion colleagues within the RCOG and its faculty of sexual and reproductive health.

Dr. Saunders also notes the further inadequacy of the review panel by its failure to include any psychiatrist in its composition. Perhaps the recent change of position by The Royal College of Psychiatrists over the issue of abortion and mental illness, which it now recognises, has something to do with it?

Among the draft document’s recommendations, or rather ideological tenets, are the following:
"Women should be informed that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer; Women should be informed that there are no proven associations between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia or infertility; Women should be informed that induced abortion is associated with a small increase in risk of subsequent preterm birth, which increases with the number of abortions; Women should be informed that most women who have abortions do not experience adverse psychological sequelae."
These claims are an egregious attempt to dismiss or ignore the significant body of evidence that contradicts each of the points made by the RCOG. Dr. Saunders provides one pertinent example offered by the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists on the link between abortion and pre-term birth.

The last word on the RCOG goes to Dr. Saunders:
“Asking this group to comment objectively and honestly about the physical and psychological consequences of abortion for women is like asking Philip Morris or BAT to review the health consequences of smoking or Macdonald’s to outline the adverse effects of fast food consumption. There are simply too many financial and ideological vested interests at stake that threaten a fair assessment.”
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High court rejection of bedroom abortions is a victory for women

Today's high court judgment on bedroom abortions is a victory for women. SPUC intervened in the case, and evidence we submitted played a prominent part in Mr Justice Supperstone's judgment.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), one of the UK's largest abortion providers and promoters, had asked the court to reinterpret the Abortion Act 1967 to allow women to take misoprostol, used in conjunction with the chemical abortion drug RU486, at home rather than in hospital.

Commenting on the verdict, SPUC's Katherine Hampton, told the media this morning:
“Today's judgment is a victory for women. If BPAS had won this case, it would send out the false signal that there is a ‘safe’ route to abortion. That could lead to more abortions, and more dead babies and more suffering for women. It would also have led to further restrictions on conscientious objection to abortion by doctors and nurses.

"The significance of this case is important internationally too, as chemical abortions are widely promoted in poorer countries, and any move to widen the practice here may adversely affect unborn babies and women around the world.

"We will continue to fight any similar moves to trivialise abortion."
Here is a video of Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, interviewed by Sky outside the court:

Also, Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications, can be heard here speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live (about 1hr21mins into the programme) and to Premier Christian Radio here.

Some facts about RU486 and misoprostol:
- The woman is directly involved in the abortion by having to take the pills herself.
- The nature of the drug means that the woman must live with her abortion over the course of a number of days. The president of Roussel Uclaf, the original makers of RU486, said “The woman must live with this for a full week. This is an appalling psychological ordeal”. (Edouard Sakiz, chairman, Roussel-Uclaf, August 1990)
- The woman may abort at home and suffer the distress of seeing the expelled embryo/foetus, which she is required to keep and return to the hospital or clinic to help determine if the abortion is complete. If BPAS's challenge had been successful, women taking misoprostol would go into labour at home. This can be very distressing as labour, usually associated with child-birth, now becomes associated with the delivery of a dead child.
- Use of RU486/misoprostol may cause any of the following: haemmorrhage requiring blood transfusion, severe pain requiring strong pain killers, incomplete abortion, rupture of the uterus, vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, muscle weakness, dizziness, flushing, chills, backache, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, palpitations, rise in temperature and fall in blood pressure. The number and diverse nature of the side effects of RU486/misoprostol point to the fact that these are powerful chemicals.

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