Friday, 3 May 2013

Irish Catholic bishops make strong response to abortion bill

The Catholic bishops of Ireland have just published a strong preliminary response to the Irish government's abortion bill - see full text below. Pat Buckley, who represents SPUC in Ireland, commented on the bill on Wednesday (see "Irish abortion bill worse than Britain's 1967 Abortion Act").

The Catholic bishops of Ireland stress once again the importance of continuing to provide a health care service in Ireland which ensures complete respect for the sacredness of the life both of the mother and her unborn baby.  The bishops express their appreciation of the work carried out day by day in this ethos by doctors, nurses, midwives and other health personnel. Through Cura, the Church’s crisis pregnancy agency, help is available to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy.

The Heads of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 published by the Government on Wednesday would, if approved, make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful in Ireland.  The Bill as outlined represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law and is unnecessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy.

The Gospel of Life is at the heart of the message of Jesus; the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong. We uphold the right to life as the foundation of every other human right. We encourage a deeper understanding of the inviolability of the right to life of both a mother and her unborn child, in all circumstances.  Accordingly, at this crucial time, it is essential that all who share these beliefs make them clear to their legislators.

The Bill also appears to impose a duty on Catholic hospitals to provide abortions. This would be totally unacceptable and has serious implications for the existing legal and Constitutional arrangements that respect the legitimate autonomy and religious ethos of faith-based institutions. It would also pose serious difficulties for the conscientious beliefs of many citizens.

Abortion, in the sense of directly killing the unborn child, is never a     remedy for suicidal ideation and therefore should never be cited as a justification for the direct killing of an innocent human being. It is a tragic moment for Irish society when we regard the deliberate destruction of a completely innocent person as an acceptable response to the threat of the preventable death of another person.

We invite all who cherish human life to support the Vigil for Life which is taking place in Knock tomorrow -  see below.  We encourage everyone who can attend the Vigil to do so or to join in prayer with us.  Cherish both mother and baby! Choose life!

Special national Vigil of Prayer for Mothers and their Unborn Babies to take place in Knock
Tomorrow Saturday 4 May will see a national Vigil of Prayer for Mothers and their Unborn Babies taking place at Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock, Co Mayo.  The theme of this Vigil will be ’Choose Life: We Cherish Them Both’ and it is supported by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

This special liturgical event will begin at 1:00pm with a Rosary Procession and will conclude with Mass in the Basilica at 3.00pm.  The main celebrant for the Mass will be Cardinal Se├ín Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and the homilist will be Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick.   A blessing for expectant mothers who are present will be given during the Mass.

Parishioners from around the country have been invited to attend the Rosary and Mass.  For further details on the ‘Choose Life: We Cherish Them Both’ national Vigil of prayer, pilgrims can view the pro-life website which contains personal video testimonies and special prayers dedicated to protecting the unborn.  The attached mother and baby image and flyer content can be used for publication


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678
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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Disability rights campaigner challenges euthanasia lobby to public debate

Nikki Kenward
Earlier today I received the bold press release below, announcing that Nikki Kenward (pictured), disability rights campaigner, has challenged Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now slyly rebranded 'Dignity in Dying') to a public debate. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, debated Sarah Wootton in November 2009 at University College London. You can also read Anthony's reflections from June 2009 on Ms Wootton's euphemisms of euthanasia.


Thursday 2nd May 2013

For immediate release:

Disability rights campaigner challenges Dignity in Dying chief to a public debate

A disability rights campaigner is challenging the head of a group fighting for the legalisation of assisted suicide to a public debate.

Nikki Kenward of Aston on Clun, Shropshire, has written an open letter to Sarah Wootton, the chief executive of Dignity in Dying, inviting her to speak together before a live audience.

Mrs Kenward, who was “locked-in” for almost a year following an attack of Guillan Barre syndrome in 1990 and who still uses a wheelchair, says in her letter that the campaign for assisted suicide may be putting the lives of disabled and other vulnerable people at risk, partly by generating “visceral fear and hatred of the unknown”. She argues that not a single organisation representing the disabled supports the abolition of laws forbidding assisted suicide.

If the law was changed, she predicted, the future would be “full of greedy relatives, dodgy doctors, grabbing insurance brokers, mealy-mouthed horrors of parliamentary rogues, whose present careless and ‘care-less’ attitude will bring children, old people and the vulnerable” to a premature death.

In her letter Mrs Kenward says: “I invite you to meet with me - I suggest a public debate, me, you, and maybe one or two of my ‘supporters’, instead of yours, just for a change. Prove to me that your blue world exists and that I am just one of those disabled people cynical with the world and closed to the kindness you offer me. Go on, talk to me, Sarah, talk to us. We could be ‘dying’ to listen.”

The open letter in full continues below

For further information

Please contact either Nikki Kenward of Distant Voices on 01588 660528, email:, or Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of ALERT on 020 7730 2800.

Nikki’s story can be read here:


The open letter in full:


A meme is "an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.
Sarah, I would like to begin by asking a simple question. Is your world full of lovely, caring, sensible people who only want the best for others and see, in that glistening blue sky, that is their future, a sure and meaningful death should they ever succumb to terminal or disabling illness? In your recent publication you state that “80 per cent of the British population” support euthanasia (although you seem strangely reticent to use the term too often).

So that’s 80 per cent saying they don’t want to be disabled, they would rather be dead than be me. You’re hooking in to people’s worst fears and using them for a campaign that will generate only more hatred and visceral fear of the unknown. We who live with disability every day have first-hand knowledge of such attitudes and it is even more significant that you fail to notice that not one organisation for “us” has backed your campaign. Doesn’t that say something to you?

Despite saying that you only work for those with a terminal illness you’ve been quick enough to take up people who are not imminently facing death, such as the Deborah Purdys and, heaven forfend, the Christopher Woodheads of this world, who are ready to be your groupies, whatever the cost to the rest of us. Think deeply, Ms Wooton you are creating a meme, an idea, a practice, that people like them, will, in their last sad days, lick around you for. They fail to realise that the lick contains a future full of greedy relatives, dodgy doctors, grabbing insurance brokers, mealy mouthed horrors of parliamentary rogues, whose present careless and care - less attitude will bring children, old people and the vulnerable to your door.

So, before you open your door I invite you to meet with me, I suggest a public debate, me, you, and maybe one or two of my “supporters”, instead of yours, just for a change. Prove to me that your blue world exists and that I am just one of those disabled people cynical with the world and closed to the kindness you offer me. Go on talk to me Sarah, talk to us. We could be “dying” to listen.

Nikki Kenward

Notes to Editors:

ALERT aims to warn people of the dangers of any type of euthanasia legislation and pro-death initiatives. These have included the promotions of living wills and advance directives, which create a climate for the acceptance of euthanasia.

ALERT was founded in December 1991 to provide well-documented information on these and related issues, and to defend the lives and rights of the medically vulnerable, recognising that all human beings are of equal value.

ALERT defines euthanasia as “any action or omission which is intended to end the life of a patient”. The law in every country until recent years protected all citizens against being killed, regardless of their status or condition and the first infamous exception to this rule was in Nazi Germany. Such laws change the attitude of society towards its members.

It has never been part of doctors’ duty to prolong the dying process by extraordinary interventions.

But they should never deliberately harm those in their care. ALERT is calling for the restoration of the law against homicide, which has served our citizens well for centuries.

ALERT is a campaigning organisation, not a charity, and is funded solely by donations from our supporters.

Distant Voices was launched in 2009 with a declaration about the human rights of disabled people, read by Nikki Kenward the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, during Anthony Gormley’s rolling display of art.

Distant Voices campaigns against euthanasia using a variety of creative media, including art, sculpture, music, demonstrations, flash mobbing, photography


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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Irish abortion bill worse than Britain's 1967 Abortion Act

Irish govt launches abortion bill
The draft bill on abortion published today by the Irish government is worse that Britain's 1967 Abortion Act.

Pat Buckley, who represents SPUC in Ireland, said in Dublin today:
"Far from being restrictive as the government claims, the bill has the potential to lead to widespread availability of abortion.

The Irish bill proposes to abolish sections 58 & 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, under which abortion in general remains a criminal offence. That provision is retained even in Britain. The vast majority of abortions in Britain are in fact unlawful under the 1861 Act if the Abortion Act was interpreted honestly (instead of being widely flouted).

Regarding abortion for suicidal mothers, the bill goes beyond both the mental health grounds of Britain's 1967 Abortion Act and of British case-law such as the 1938 Bourne judgment. Unlike British law, the bill makes suicide an explicit, statute-level ground for abortion.

The bill explicitly removes protection for unborn children before implantation in the womb, thus ensuring that they can be aborted legally by drugs and devices such as the morning-after pill.

Even the name of the bill "Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013" is misleading and hypocritical, as it does not protect unborn life in a wide variety of circumstances and is contrary to the equal protection for mothers and their unborn children under the Irish Constitution.

We call upon all Irishmen and women to unite to ensure that this bill is thrown out of the Oireachtas at the first vote. There must be absolute and unequivocal opposition to all abortion expressed loud and clear by church leaders, pro-life groups and politicians. Today must mark the end, not the beginning, of abortion in Ireland."
Robin Haig, solicitor, SPUC 's chairman, and a leading figure in the Assocation of Lawyers in Defence of the Unborn (ALDU), added:
"The 1861 Act did not appear out of the ether in 1861; it was the distillation of centuries of Common Law cases, discussion, thought and application plus several decades of previous statutes which were refined to end in the 1861 Act which has stood the test of time for 150 years. They discard it at their peril. Sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Act have the great benefit of being simple and clear whereas this new law requires pages and pages of provisions and explanations, all of which will provide ample room for smart lawyers and abortion campaigners to find loopholes and demands for improvement and updating in years to come."
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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Leaders of Britain's black-majority Christian denominations speak out against same-sex marriage

Rev Yemi Adedeji
Yesterday The Telegraph published a letter (see full text below) from the leaders of Britain's black-majority Christian denominations, in which they spoke out against the government's bill to enact same-sex marriage (see The Telegraph's report). The letter is also signed by the leaders of Chinese and south Asian Christian denominations. Among other things, they say:
"By changing marriage from its historic foundation they would be creating a legal fiction, and consequently devaluing this vitally important social institution."
This sentence from the black-majority Christian leaders reminds of Martin Luther King Jnr's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" about which I blogged in January last year. He wrote:
"[T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of Harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.. [and] ends up relegating persons to the status of things."
I pray that many people will rise up and join the Christian leaders in speaking out against the unjust law of same-sex marriage which the government is moving to enact. Please email me today at to find out how you can help.

Vote on gay marriage

SIR – The Government is forcing through fundamental changes to the nature of marriage, and has failed to think through the consequences properly. We are leaders of large, ethnically diverse denominations in Britain – growing churches. Instead of hearing our concerns, the Government is taking direction from tiny faith groups to infer backing for its plans.

If the Government gets its way, it will not be a victory for equality. Equality requires diversity, and diversity requires distinctiveness, and marriage is and always will be distinctively a union between a man and a woman. By changing marriage from its historic foundation it would be creating a legal fiction, and consequently devaluing this vitally important social institution. The Government is not respecting difference, and it is not promoting a plural society.

The people of Britain need to have their say. These plans were not in any party’s manifesto, and if the Government had any respect for democracy it would allow a referendum before making fundamental changes to the nature of marriage.

Rev Yemi Adedeji
Director, One People Commission

Rev Kingsley Appiagyei
Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church

Bishop Eric Brown
National Overseer, New Testament Church of God

Rev Dr Daniel Chae
Executive Director, Amnos Ministries

John Glass
General Superintendent, Elim Pentecostal Church

Pastor Agu Irukwu
Senior Pastor, Jesus House

Dr Tani Omideyi
Senior Minister, Love & Joy Ministries

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Monday, 29 April 2013

Pro-life lobbyists appalled by bullying of Africans at UN meeting

Pro-life lobbyists supporting African delegates at the United Nations Commission on Population and Development meeting in New York have been appalled at the veiled threats directed by Doris Mpoumou, a Planned Parenthood lobbyist, against Joy Ogwu, Nigeria's Permanent Representative at the UN and the First Chair of the UN Women committee. Ambassador Ogwu's delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, had objected to references to the terms 'sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights' in the commission's draft document. (Please see below the full text of a letter from Ms Mpoumou to Ambassador Ogwu.)

Sharon Slater, President of Family Watch International, a pro-life/pro-family organisation, said:
"Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, as well as in other parts of Africa, so Nigerian delegates are entirely right to tell the UN that they cannot agree to documents that espouse concepts such as 'reproductive health services' and 'reproductive rights' which are interpreted by many as including abortion."
These terms are also interpretated by radical lobbyists to include same-sex marriage, explicit sex education and legalised prostitution.

Killing the unborn is never a justifiable act, let alone a human right. Besides, Nigeria's high maternal mortality rate will not be curbed by promoting abortion, as many western countries and organisations demand. Effective action to reduce maternal mortality requires better pre-natal care, more midwives and trained birth attendants, and improved access to emergency obstetric care when problems arise in labour.  This is why mothers and babies die, and promoting abortion will not save lives.

Threatening delegates from developing countries who resist the western anti-life agenda, promoted by elitist western governments and their pet groups, is a contemptible strategy - against democracy and all the values of the UN."
Letter from Doris Mpoumou, International Advocacy Officer, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), to Ambassador Joy Ogwu, 25 April 2013:
Dear Ambassador Ogwu,

We commend you for the leadership role that Nigeria has taken in advancing women's rights within the United Nations.  We are particularly proud of your efforts, as the first chair of UN Women, to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.  As you know, achieving gender equality and empowerment of women depend on the full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

As a result, we are writing to express our concern about the position taken by Nigeria during the 46th Session of the Commission on Population and Development.  We are particularly concerned about the fact that Nigeria has called for the bracketing of all language around sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The government of Nigeria has reported to CRC that the maternal mortality rate is estimated to be 800/100,000 live births (2009).  According to a recent Lancet study (2010), Nigeria has the second highest number of maternal deaths in the world, accounting for more than 10% of maternal deaths worldwide. The study further showed that Nigeria's maternal mortality ratio has substantially increased between 1990 and 2008. (2010) Also, the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey found that among women aged 15 to 49, girls between 15 and 19 were the least likely to know of a contraceptive method.

As a signatory to Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of women in Africa, we trust that your government will commit to a positive resolution that reaffirm women's rights, gender equality and women's empowerment. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that Nigeria continues to serve as leader in advancing sexual and reproductive rights and health within the United Nations.


Doris Mpoumou | International Advocacy Officer International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR)
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