Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Abortion Lobby's Massive Deception

It says something for the desperation of the abortion lobby that they are - yet again - resorting to lies as part of their campaign to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. According to a post on John Smeaton's blog, Diane Abbott has claimed to the British press that women in Northern Ireland are “facing conditions more reminiscent of the 19th century,” and that “[m]ost working-class women must take their chances with the backstreet abortionist.”

She offers no evidence to back up her comments, presumably because there is no evidence to support her position. Indeed, if the British media cared to challenge her comments, they would discover that the 'conditions more reminiscent of the 19th century' Ms Abbott speaks of include a health system which boasts of the lowest maternal mortality rate in the UK.

As Liam Gibson, SPUC, is quoted as saying:
“No-one in Northern Ireland voted for Diane Abbott, Evan Harris or any of the other pro-abortion extremists in Parliament and yet these MPs seem to think they are our colonial masters and that we must do as they say."

Ironically, Bernard Nathanson, the former abortion practitioner and co-founder of NARAL, has just been interviewed on the very subject of backstreet abortion. Nathanson oversaw 75,000 abortions at his U.S. clinic before the advent of ultrasound forced him to accept the horrific reality of abortion. Now a pro-life campaigner, Nathanson is quoted as saying:
"We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions. The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

This massive deception by the abortion lobby continues and must be challenged in the media and at government level. Voters in England, Scotland and Wales need to write to their MPs to expose this lie once and for all and to ask politicians such as Diane Abbott to leave Northern Ireland alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Guardian doesn't get it

Another article in The Guardian on George W. Bush’s policies on sex education, contraception and abortion, particularly with regard to foreign policy. As usual, it dusts down the all too well-rehearsed arguments in favour of sex education, contraception and abortion, using a fair amount of emotion and very little in the way of hard evidence. One particular complaint from the abortion-promoting agency IPAS came to my attention as it is such a common accusation posing as a question that pro-abortionists fire at pro-lifers. ‘Why do people who oppose abortion tend not to support contraception?’

Here are a few things to consider. Britain has unrestricted contraceptive use: it is available from doctors, nurses, family planning clinics, vending machines, chemists, supermarkets, almost every place I could care to mention. Contraception is thrown at young people via the classroom, advertising, magazines, youth groups, websites and various other forms of targeted campaigning too numerous to list. Britain also has some 600 abortions every day with no signs anywhere that the abortion rate in our contraceptive culture is likely to plummet any time soon.

Besides the fact that many contraceptive methods are abortifacient, i.e. induce a very early abortion rather than actually preventing conception, the pro-contraception lobby – for all its sound and fury on the subject – has been consistently unable to provide concrete evidence that contraception prevents abortion. On the contrary, the evidence from UK abortion statistics and contraception user rates overwhelmingly suggest that countries where contraception is widely available are likely to have higher not lower abortion rates than countries that do not. It is surely a little disingenuous for a western government to promote contraception as an abortion preventative in developing countries when it has clearly failed to prevent abortion among its own people.

As Humanae Vitae warned 40 years ago, contraception attempts to eliminate the procreative aspect of sexuality, meaning that when pregnancy does occur, it becomes a mistake to be rubbed out – by abortion. Rather than writing endless ‘why oh why’ articles lamenting the attitudes of pro-lifers to contraception, perhaps The Guardian ought to consider allowing a pro-life campaigner to pen an article answering that very question. They can contact me any time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Court Battle over Abortion in Ireland

Three Irish women who claim that their human rights were breached by their inability to undergo an abortion in Ireland are to have their case heard at the European Court of Human Rights. The Irish Family Planning Association is supporting the case, hoping the Irish government will be forced to change the law on abortion.

A case such as this highlights all too clearly the tactics the abortion lobby are prepared to resort to in their determination to impose abortion on Ireland. The unborn are protected by Ireland's constitution and should not be endangered by a court that is set up to defend human rights. If it were to be used as an instrument to attack the right to life, the European Court of Human Rights may lose all credibility when it comes to considering genuine human rights cases.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking the Taboo of Post-Natal Depression

Earlier this month, a 41-year-old woman committed suicide four months after the birth of her second child. Kate Chetwynd was a successful woman with a supportive family and, as The Scotsman put it ‘everything to live for’ – she also had post-natal depression. Her tragic death has left a family devastated and two young children without a mother. It also raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which mothers suffering from post-natal depression are given the care and support they need to overcome this debilitating condition.

Kate Chetwynd had been diagnosed with post-natal depression and her family appear to have done everything possible to help her. For many women, however, post-natal depression is a burden they feel forced to carry alone, afraid to tell even family members for fear of being labelled ‘bad mothers.’

Some women fear that if health professionals such as doctors or health visitors realise they are depressed, their babies will be taken from them. Midwives need to reassure women, both individually and as part of ante-natal classes, that they will receive non-judgemental medical support if they report symptoms of depression after birth.

Mental illness in general carries an unjust social stigma, none more so than post-natal depression, which is sometimes called ‘smiling depression’ as sufferers struggle to conceal the symptoms and live up to the expectations of friends and family. One correspondent who wished to remain anonymous, told me:

“Never in my life have I felt so alone. I was very unwell after a traumatic birth experience and developed childbed fever afterwards, but I was so desperate to be a perfect mother that I wouldn’t even let the doctor call an ambulance when I started fitting with the high temperature. I just didn’t understand what was happening to me. I had this beautiful baby I adored, but for months I felt so depressed there were times when I didn’t think I could go on much longer.

“Instead of trying to help, some of my relatives seemed shocked and angry that I wasn’t coping as well as they had expected. I found myself being excluded, criticised and treated to a steady flow of put-downs and insulting lectures that took me to breaking point. My lowest moment was being asked, as I held my baby in my arms: ‘You don’t regret having a baby, do you?’ I eventually pulled through thanks to the support of my husband, but the experience did lasting harm to my relationship with my extended family and made me realise how important it is to respond compassionately and intelligently to women in such a state.”

The need to respond ‘compassionately and intelligently’ is of utmost importance in reaching out to mothers who are suffering from or at risk of post-natal depression. A booklet on PND produced by MIND makes an interesting observation about the indifference with which mothers are treated in western cultures. It states: “Mothers do not enjoy high status in the West, and there are hardly any rituals to honour them, or celebrate their new role.”

If we value motherhood, we should be prepared to go out of our way to support mothers and to celebrate the fundamentally important role mothers play in our society. It is as vital a part of building a culture of life as lobbying an MP.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Coercive Population Control proposed for Philippines

A major confrontation is developing in the Philippines where the Catholic Bishop’s Commission is opposing anti life legislation currently being pushed through Parliament.

The proposed legislation, “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and For Other Purposes”, would create a new agency called the Commission on Population that would institutionalize artificial birth control, implement sex education for students as early as the fifth grade and pave the way for legalized abortion. It also recommends that a two child policy should be adopted and obliges all health providers to provide for male and female sterilization regardless of conscientious objection.

The bill requires collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s) between employers and employees to provide reproductive health care services. Where there are no CBAs, employers are compelled to provide the same. It is also a direct attack on parents as the primary educators of minor children

The Bill provides for the use of abortifacient hormonal contraceptives and injectables, intrauterine devices and other allied reproductive health service products and supplies, which will be considered essential medicines and made available for free by all national and local hospitals and other government health units.

The legislation also proposes dismissal, imprisonment and heavy fines for anyone who fails to comply with the measure. This Bill is a direct attack on human life, the family, marriage, the freedom to found a family and to decide on the number and spacing of children, freedom of conscience, and parent’s rights in respect of minor children.

This bill is a completely unacceptable totalitarian measure bordering on the coercive population control methods used in China’s one child policy

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sarkozy in Dublin

EU President Nikolas Sarkozy has taken a rather more moderate tone on Ireland's 'No' vote during his visit to Dublin than expected, promising not to try to force Irish voters into anything. Whilst this approach is more acceptable to the Irish people than thinly veiled threats, it does not alter the fact that the Lisbon Treaty is dead and President Sarkozy simply cannot accept this.

To continue the ratification process when the treaty has been rejected in a fair referendum is an unacceptable insult to democracy and can only add to the disillusionment and fear felt by so many voters across Europe. It will take more than a charm offensive by the European President to reassure people. We need to know that our concerns are being heard.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Celebrating Humanae Vitae

In preparation for the 40th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae, Human Life International, Fr Tom Euteneuer has launched a website offering resources to priests including research on Humanae Vitae and related issues and notes for preaching on the encyclical.

Forty years ago, the pulpits of the world fell silent on the subject of human sexuality. Let there be a few voices in the wilderness speaking out loud and clear, this weekend and beyond.

UN Committee Exceeds Mandate

Ireland last week appeared before the UN Human Rights Committee which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The committee acknowledged in its third progress report on Ireland that much progress has been made, however it identifies about 19 areas where compliance should be improved reiterated its concern regarding the highly restrictive circumstances under which women can lawfully have an abortion in the State party. While noting the establishment of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, the committee regrets that the progress in this regard is slow. Irish Times report

This is yet another example of an ‘out of control’ UN committee operating beyond its mandate and instructing nations to adhere to its own agenda rather than the Covenant it is supposed to be monitoring. There is no reference to abortion anywhere in the ICCPR or any other legally binding international treaty. This is the type of action brings the UN and its agencies into disrepute

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Proposals to Impose Abortion on Northern Ireland

A group of MPs headed by Diane Abbott (Labour) have tabled an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to extend Britain's Abortion laws to Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland have consistently voiced their opposition to any change in the province's abortion law but some Westminster MPs would rather impose their agendas on people than respect democracy. Betty Gibson of SPUC stated:

"This attempt to impose abortion on Northern Ireland is extremist, anti-democratic and arrogant. The leaders of all four major political parties and the four main Churches right across Northern Ireland's traditional divide have written to the government and all Westminster MPs calling on them to allow the issue of abortion law to be decided by the Province's devolved government."

SPUC is offering free Little Feet badges (the international symbol of the pro-life movement) to the people of Northern Ireland to show their opposition to the amendment. It is time and gone time for Westminster to take the people of Northern Ireland seriously.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Notes on Humanae Vitae from the JPII Generation

I came across a talk recently, entitled A Catholic Vision of Love and Sex given at the Catholic Chaplaincy of St Andrew's University in Scotland by a member of the JPII Generation(i.e. born and grew up during John Paul II's pontificate). This generation of young people were strongly influenced by the late pope's clarity of vision and have embraced the Church's teachings, largely to the surprise and disguiet of the older generation. Having grown up in the brutal moral turmoil predicted by Humanae Vitae, the JPII Generation is now defending this prophetic encyclical in the public sphere with enthusiasm, making use of the new media to get the message across. Facebook, the social networking website so popular with young people, currently contains no fewer than 19 groups about Humanae Vitae, none of them negative.

One has to be realistic about the numbers of young people who disregard the Church's teaching but, 40 years on, it is possible for a generation who were born long after the encyclical was published, to consider the message of Humanae Vitae without the hang-ups and prejudices their parents may have had.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Judge tipped for High-profile UN position

A New York Times article, Friday July 19th reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is planning to name a judge from South Africa, Navanethem Pillay, to the key post of high commissioner for human rights. The nomination, which requires the approval of the UN General Assembly, is expected to be announced this week according to an official briefed by the Secretary General’s office.

The NY Times article and South Africa News 24, both claim that the United States has privately raised concerns about Judge Pillay, including her strong support for women's access to abortion, contraception and other reproductive rights, and how she might handle next year's follow up to the 2001 UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which drew controversy due to anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli stands.

The article also claims that, Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was not reappointed for a second term as she was seen by the Human Rights Council to have a “Western” and a “white” agenda.

Pro-life groups are concerned that yet another incumbent of the office of High Commissioner for Human Rights is a strong supporter of a so called right to abortion when the most abused human right is the right to life of the unborn baby.

Humanae Vitae 40 Years On

The landmark Papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) which was published by Pope Paul VI, 40 years ago this week has claims to being the most controversial encyclical of modern times.

The encyclical which reaffirmed the Church’s constant teaching on the regulation of births is perhaps the most misunderstood papal
encyclical. It simply teaches the truth about human sexuality, a truth which was (and still is) unpaletable, a truth that became the spark which led to decades of doubt and dissent among many Catholics, plunging us into what Pope John Paul II so aptly called the “culture of Death.” Denounced by critics inside and outside the Church, Humanae Vitae has nevertheless proved to be chillingly prophetic in its warnings. Forty years later this encyclical is more relevant than ever

The Encyclical warned of four trends which would occur if the use of artificial contraception became widespread. First it claimed there would be a general lowering of moral standards throughout society. The second claim was that there would be a rise in infidelity. The third claim was that there would be a lessening of respect for women by men, and finally that it would lead to the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments. Any truthful analysis of modern society will clearly show that all of these predictions have come to pass, each with its own drastic consequences, the moral destruction of society Paul VI warned about in his encyclical can be seen all around us.
A new website set up to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Humamae Vitae contains a wealth of information on the issues and is well worth a visit


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pope Speaks out for Life

The hermeneutic of continuity reports on a speech Benedict XVI gave from Sydney, where he is celebrating World Youth Day with hundreds of thousands of young people. Of particular importance are his comments surrounding the sanctity of life:

The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.

International aid agencies, including some that claim to be Catholic, that promote and impose abortion in developing countries in the name of 'sustainable development' should take note.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pro-Abortionists targeting Northern Ireland

There seems to be determination on the part of the pro-abortionists to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland and several attempts have been made to do so within the past year. The most recent attempts coincide with the debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill in Britain which has now been postponed until the next parliamentary session. The Daily Telegraph reported last Saturday that the decision to postpone the bill was related to proposed amendment by Emily Thornberry to extend the Act to Northern Ireland but was prevented by Gordon Brown due to the unprecedented level of unity across the North's political divide which believes the question of abortion law should be decided in Stormont and not Westminster. Just prior to the postponement of the bill the Family Planning Association (FPA) began a publicity campaign on the import of RU 486 and called for the liberalisation of the law in Northern Ireland, which was probably intended to coincide with the debate on the extension of the Act since they would have been aware of Emily Thornberry's motion and would not have expected Gordon Brown to postpone the bill.

At the same time Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched yet another consultation on proposed guidelines for the termination of pregnancy in the province. The consultation has been launched during the holiday season when the Assembly is in recess and the closing date for submissions is mid-September, giving politicians very little time to respond. As Betty Gibson, SPUC’s chairwoman in Northern Ireland, noted, this is a ploy with which pro-life campaigners are all too familiar. By introducing the consultation at a time when the minimun number of people will be aware of it until it is too late, the hope is that it will slip under the radar unchallenged.

Fortunately, the pro-life movement is a step ahead of the game and may have the chance to act. Betty Gibson warns: "These draft guidelines contain some very serious flaws, not least the failure to acknowledge the suffering frequently experienced by women after abortion. We are determined that the final version of the guidelines should warn of the terrible psychological damage associated with abortion."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beijing Boycott Coalition

European Life Network has joined the Beijing Boycott Coalition. As members of the coalition, we are dedicated to speaking out against the hosting of the Olympic Games in a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world.

As I stated in a recent post, millions of women are being abused and millions of babies are being killed on a daily basis in China in the name of the one-child policy whilst the world turns a blind eye and a UN agency co-operates with this crime against humanity. Those brave activists who dare to criticise the Chinese government on this and other human rights' issues, face imprisonment, torture and even death. I therefore urge all organisations with an interest in upholding human rights to join the coalition as a show of solidarity with the people of China. Together we must break the silence.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Abortion 'service' preying on women in pro-life countries

A Maltese newspaper has uncovered a website that is prepared to send abortion drugs to pregnant women living in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted for a 'donation' of 70 Euros. A journalist from the Sunday Times posed as a pregnant woman and filled out the online questionnaire. At no point did anyone speak with her in peson and the serious risk of complications associated with a DIY abortion were not mentioned on the site. The president of the Malta College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Donald Felice, warned: "There is no way of verifying that the buyer is telling the truth. What if the woman is more than nine weeks' pregnant? That would trigger off massive complications, like haemorrhage... even death."

His fears are well-founded. A recent study of women who had used the website found that some 11% had required surgical intervention after taking the Mifepristone pills - and yet the website claims to help women to procure 'safe medical abortion (with the pills mifepristone and misoprostol) in order to reduce the number of deaths due to unsafe abortions.' The website declares 'Protect your health and life!' in large letters whilst at the same time it is peddling drugs to women that could well cost them their health and their lives.

This is yet another example of the hypocrisy of abortion providers and their callous disregard for the women they claim to want to help. It does not matter to them that these women will have to bear the lonely, frightening experience of aborting a baby, it does not matter that they will be left to deal with the substantial risk of psychological and physical complications following the abortion, it does not matter to the people behind these websites if women die as a result of this unethical and illegal practice. Like the Women on Waves abortion boat (run by the same people who run this website), this is a cruel stunt that exploits and endangers the lives of women around the world.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UNFPA and China

Activist, lawyer and prisoner of conscience, Chen Guangcheng

I posted recently on UNFPA and its involvement with China’s One-Child Policy. The one-child policy must rank among the most appalling human rights abuses of our age and yet in spite of some high profile cases hitting the headlines, the West remains largely indifferent to the suffering and degradation of millions of women across China in the name of population control.

The one-child policy, which began in 1979 and was formally codified into Chinese national law in 2002, denies women the basic human right to have children. Couples who choose to have a second child face crippling fines or ‘social compensation fees’ that can amount to 10 times the average annual household income. They are also subjected to ‘disciplinary’ and ‘administrative’ punishments, demotion, dismissal from work, expulsion from the Party (a requirement for certain jobs), the destruction of property and loss of education and health care for the child. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned the subjection of women to forced abortion and sterilisation and the active persecution of activists campaigning against the one-child policy.

Two such activists are Mao Hengfeng and Chen Guangcheng. Chen Guangcheng is a blind lawyer and activist who was placed under house arrest in 2005 after talking to reporters from Time magazine about thousands of forced abortion and sterilisation cases he had uncovered. Whilst under house arrest he was repeatedly beaten, as were lawyers who tried to talk with him. He was then formally arrested, his lawyers were detained shortly before his trial and he was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment during a trial that lasted under two hours. In January 2007, Chen’s final appeal was thrown out.

Mao Hengfeng
Mao Hengfeng speaks for a generation of women in China who have been abused and silenced in the name of the one-child policy. A mother of twin girls, Mao refused an abortion when she became pregnant with her third child, was detained in a psychiatric hospital and dismissed from her job. When pregnant with her fourth child she was coerced into an abortion and, as a result, began campaigning for justice for herself and others.

Her outspoken protests led to her being sentenced to eighteen months ‘re-education through labour’ without trial. During that time she was denied medical treatment and subjected to torture because she refused to acknowledge wrongdoing. Following her release, Mao and her husband continued campaigning and were repeatedly beaten, harassed, abused and detained by the authorities. In 2006, Mao was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for allegedly breaking lamps in the guesthouse where she was being detained.

Congressman Chris Smith, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, warned: “Her [Mao’s] case is among the most egregious examples of China’s mistreatment of women who do not comply with China’s draconian policies, but in addition to Mao, there are thousands more.”

UNFPA and China
In 2004, the Director of UNFPA’s Asia and Pacific Division, Sultana Aziz, wrote to the US Department of State and made the following claims:

“UNFPA does not support China’s one-child policy and has proactively engaged in serious dialogue with the Chinese government on this issue.”

This claim lacks any credibility in the face of the facts. Not only has UNFPA provided Chinese Family Planning officials with the technical and medical equipment necessary to facilitate the one-child policy, but Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the executive director of UNFPA has publicly praised China’s population control policy, claiming that “China, having adopted practical measures in accordance with her current situation, has scored remarkable achievements in population control.” Earlier in 2001, the UNFPA representative in China, Sven Burmester, told British reporters: "For all the bad press, China has achieved the impossible. The country has solved its population problem." This was in the same year one county in China was ordered to perform 20,000 abortions and sterilisations before the end of the year, many of them performed by force to meet the quota.

Mr Aziz also claims:
“China is committed to the ICPD [International Conference on Population and Development] and is steadily, incrementally and firmly moving beyond demographic targets towards a voluntary and client-oriented FP [family planning] approach. UNFPA has been catalytic in fostering, supporting and guiding the transition.”

As the Congress report in which these claims are cited goes on to state, UNFPA’s efforts simply “miss the mark” as “they are narrowly tailored to expand access to reproductive health information and to allow couples and individuals to select their contraceptive methods in compliance with the national and provincial regulations. Their end result is not that couples and individuals may freely make decisions as to the number and spacing of their children. Rather in counties where the UNFPA operates, China continues to implement its coercive laws and practices.” Moreover, whereas the UNFPA-China agreement requires counties involved with the scheme to end targets and quotas, it “does not require them to eliminate coercive ‘administrative’ or ‘disciplinary’ punishments – thus continuing to reflect UNFPA’s support for China’s coercive program.”

Four years on, with activists still being imprisoned and terrorised for exposing cases of forced abortion and sterilisation, it is difficult to see any evidence of the steady, incremental and firm move towards ‘a voluntary and client-oriented FP approach’ the UNFPA speaks of with such determination.

In the words of Harry Wu, a human rights campaigner who spent 12 years in China’s labour camps before seeking refuge in the United States:

“To give birth is a basic human right. No government, organisation, or individual should, based on political, economic, cultural, religious and racial reasons, deprive a human being's right to give birth. To give birth is also an act of nature, and try as we might, we cannot always control a human being's reproductive system. To violently punish a woman and her unborn child for natural consequences often beyond their control is the epitome of cruelty. And, to hold such power in the hands of a central totalitarian regime invites far too many human rights abuses to terrify the masses.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Abortion and Northern Ireland

Gordon Brown has allegedly stopped Labour MP Emily Thornberry from attempting to extend the UK’s Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland have made it repeatedly clear to Westminster that they do not support a change in the law on abortion and resent the repeated attempts of some MPs to impose abortion on Northern Ireland.

The news article in The Daily Telegraph reported fears that Harriet Harman, Emily Thornberry and other MPs intend to campaign on this issue over the summer. It might be worth reminding democratically elected MPs of the comments made by the late Mo Mowlam on abortion. When complaining about opposition to abortion in Northern Ireland, she conceded: “It’s called democracy.” This point is well taken, however I have a major concern about this. The right to life is antecedent to, and superior to, all positive law. Politicians deal in compromise but when the issue is the taking of human life there can be no compromise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

GP cleared of Professional Misconduct

I was relieved to hear the news earlier this week that a pro-life doctor has been cleared of professional misconduct after admitting in a newspaper interview that she encourages women seeking abortion to consider alternatives. This was a blatant case of bullying on the part of pro-abortion doctors, who reported her to the General Medical Council for giving her patients the very 'choice' the abortion lobby claims to champion. It is to be hoped that the courage shown by Dr Tammie Downes will encourage other pro-life doctors who are struggling to defend life in surgeries and hospitals around the UK.

Friday, July 11, 2008

World Population Day

The United Nations has declared July 11th this year “World Population Day”. Rather than celebrating population however the emphasis, as ever, is on depopulation and consists of a cynical exercise in scare-mongering. UNFPA, the United Nations population fund is calling for more investment in family planning which they claim will reduce poverty, slow population growth and ease pressure on the environment. The UN estimates that the number of people on the planet will grow from 6.7bn today to 9.2bn by the year 2050 resulting in greater demand for food, water and fuel. Such growth is unsustainable, the UN says, as climate change degrades arable land and reduces water supplies. More than 200 million women, many in the developing world they say, do not have access to contraceptives. Hundreds of thousands of women they claim die in childbirth each year or from botched illegal abortions.

Population control programs have always been based on the ideologically-motivated scare-tactics of “overpopulation”. The projected population explosion however never actually materialised. Unfortunately vast amounts of money have been spent on intrusive methods of achieving population reduction, monies which could have been expended to alleviate poverty. Wise provision of economic assistance based on authentic development goals would have produced very different results for poor countries had there not been the knee-jerk reaction of the overpopulation lobbyists. The blatant falsehood that maternal mortality will be reduced by the introduction of legalized abortion is responsible for the killing of countless babies and the needless deaths of women through the misdirection of scarce resources. The major factors in reducing maternal mortality include ante and post-natal care, the availability of midwives and birth attendants, medical interventions such as assisted delivery and Caesarean section, decent sanitation, clean water and the ability to provide powerful antibiotics and blood transfusions where necessary.

What is needed is an urgent reassessment of the ideologically based population control doctrine in order to forestall the negative results of almost four decades of mismanagement. Unfortunately, evidence of the needed change of priorities or mindset is not forthcoming. Even with the growing international concern that fertility decline has become a precipitous problem UN agencies are blindly marching to the incessant beat of the overpopulation drum.

Japan and most European industrialized nations are facing significant population declines. Falling fertility levels and aging populations are contributory factors to the overall decline. As more young adults decide to have fewer children and wait until later in life to begin families, and as the prevalence of abortion and birth control reduce the number of babies born, many countries are faced with the challenge of under-population rather than overpopulation. The most telling statement I have heard on the issue was delivered at a joint session of the Economic Commission for Europe, (ECE) and UNFPA in Geneva in January 2004 when Mr. Kalev Katus. director of the Population Research Centre at the Interuniversity in Tallinn Estonia. told the assembly, “Estonia’s population is 1.4 million and medium term projections are that it will drop to 1 million or even as low as 700,000. Population is the highest priority in Estonia and new policies are needed to increase birth levels...Policies need to be radical”, he said. “A logical approach is needed rather than an ideological one”.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kathy Sinnott's Speech on Lisbon

Kathy Sinnott gave an excellent speech earlier in the week entitled Why Ireland voted NO to Lisbon.

She focused on two major issues. The first was the well-founded fear of many Irish voters about the eroding of Ireland’s hard won democracy, an all too reasonable fear it seemed, when certain voices within Europe started trying to influence the outcome of the referendum by threatening the electorate.

The second issue was that of Ireland’s Christian values and the danger of Europe imposing unethical legislation regarding abortion, euthanasia and embryo research.

She warns that Ireland will vote NO a second time if their concerns are not heard – I wonder if anyone in the European Commission is listening?

US refuses to fund UNFPA over Forced Abortions

The United States has refused the UN Population Fund nearly $40 million for the 7th year running. The US began withholding funding from the agency after the Population Research Institute uncovered evidence that the UNFPA was involved in forced abortion and sterilisation in China as part of the country’s one-child policy. As PRI president Steven Mosher stated in a news report: “The evidence demonstrates that the UNFPA continues to aid and abet China’s barbaric one-child policy. It doesn’t deserve one penny of US money.”

A UN agency that is involved in such an appalling abuse of human rights does not deserve a penny of any country’s money, but it is still being funded by Ireland, a country that protects its own unborn citizens but does not seem to mind funding the forcible killing of babies abroad. Ireland is in fact listed as one of the top 20 donors of 2006. Other countries that offer partial or total protection for the unborn but fund the UNFPA include every country in Latin America, virtually every country in the Middle East, Malta, Poland and the Philippines.

Pro-life and human rights groups in these countries need to call their governments to account for the evil they are funding and to call on them to follow the US government’s lead. To continue to fund an agency that colludes in the abuse of women and the killing of unborn babies is inhumane and hypocritical.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gardai Investigating Euthanasia Claim

Police have begun investigations after a woman identified as ‘Jane’ called a radio show and claimed to have given her terminally ill father a lethal injection ten years ago. The woman’s harrowing description of the misery her father apparently suffered, highlights the need for decent palliative care to be more readily available so that those nearing the end of life can receive the physical, emotional and spiritual care necessary to live out their final days with dignity.

What it should not do is precipitate any change in the law. There are sound ethical and legal reasons why euthanasia is not permitted by the overwhelming majority of countries. The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute produced an excellent briefing in 2001, clarifying many areas of confusion surrounding the euthanasia debate such as the right to refuse treatment, and analysing the effects of legal euthanasia on countries such as the Netherlands.

The pro-euthanasia movement persistently claim that a carefully-worded law on assisted suicide which was subject to strict guidelines would be sufficient to prevent abuse, with the Netherlands being used as a showcase for euthanasia. However, as the SCBI analysis so clearly reveals, the situation in the Netherlands is, if anything, an object lesson on the dangers of legalising euthanasia not its perceived benefits. Indeed, it is impossible to imagine a situation in which legal euthanasia would not cause the deaths of vulnerable people through coercion (real or imagined), the underlying assumption that some lives are ‘not worth living’ and that, by extension, some people have a duty to die.

Euthanasia is often described as ‘mercy-killing’, but a truly merciful response to suffering ensures that the person involved receives a high standard of care and is treated with the dignity he or she deserves as a member of the human family. Killing - whatever the motives - is an affront to the inherent value and dignity of the human person.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ireland's Crisis Pregnancy Agency: Part of the Problem not the Solution

Ireland’s Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) was set up to reduce the numbers of crisis pregnancies in Ireland. This agency lists thirteen organisations under what it describes as its “positive options” campaign two of which are pro-life agencies. The remainder all offer to provide information on abortion services which far from being a positive option is to most negative option possible. The CPA in 2007 set out a 4 year strategy to lead to an “integrated approach to reducing crisis pregnancy”. European Life Network will over the coming weeks consider different aspects of the CPA and its remit.

This week we focus on the CPA Think Contraception Website which claims to be “a practical guide to reproductive health” with the promise that “each method is presented in a clear and simple format.” The format is certainly simple and instructions such as ‘get comfortable with condoms’ is clear enough. However, a brief look at the information provided about some methods made me wonder precisely how this site is supposed to educate anyone. For example, the section on Natural Methods is clearly out of date. It gives very little actual information about the different kinds of Natural Family Planning available and falsely claims that it is ‘only suitable for women with regular menstrual cycles.’ Whilst this may be true of some methods, Billings Ovulation Method and the Sympto-thermal Method (to name just two) can be used by women with both regular and irregular cycles. Likewise the commentary on, “lack of knowledge and events which they say can disturb the woman’s cycle make the method less reliable” is a false generalisation. Most modern methods of Natural Family Planning make allowances for disturbances in a woman’s cycle and will in fact alert the woman to potential problems. For example, if a woman is not ovulating regularly, this will become apparent.

The section on abstinence is more honest, pointing out that it is “the most effective way of preventing pregnancy, STIs and HIV” though why “requires good communication” is listed as a drawback is a little puzzling. It is also hard to understand, given this admission, why the approach the CPA is making towards the education of young people is based on systems that have already failed in other countries.

Then there is the whole section on ‘emergency contraception’ which falsely claims it "does not cause abortion" because, it is claimed "abortion can only take place after a fertilised egg has implanted in the womb". This ignores the fact that a new human life with its own DNA exists from the moment of fertilisation and that this new life can be terminated by so called emergency contraception. It concedes however that "people who believe that life begins when the egg is fertilised may not wish to use this method." The basic message seems to be: ‘the morning after pill is fine, it isn’t an abortifacient, but if you have this irrational idea that it might be, don’t take it.’

The other major problem with this approach to contraception is that it gives the impression that contraception is more reliable than it is in practice, by using theoretical failure rates rather than the more realistic user failure rate that many of these methods have. The effectiveness of individual methods will be stated on the site as very high, typically over 90% with the qualification of ‘with very careful use’, ‘higher failure rate with less careful use’ and ‘with careful and consistent use’. Whereas the Fertility Awareness section can’t emphasise enough the fallibility of natural methods (unfairly in some places), the fact that no method of contraception is 100% reliable goes - as ever - almost unnoticed.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

HPV Vaccine Deaths running at one per month

Health boards in the UK and Ireland urgently need to rethink plans to introduce the controversial human papilomavirus (HPV) vaccine for young girls following publication of a report based on freedom of information obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Judicial Watch, detailing adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.

The adverse reactions include 10 deaths since September, 2007. The FDA also produced 140 “serious” reports (27 of which were categorized as “life threatening”), 10 spontaneous abortions and six cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome – all since January 2008. The watchdog group says the number of deaths associated with the vaccine is at least 18 and possibly as many as 20. The serious adverse events include anaphylactic shock, grand mal convulsion, foaming at mouth, coma, paralysis, and death.

The human papilloma viruses (HPVs) are a group of approximately 100 sexually transmitted viruses some of which can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer.

Judicial Watch also found 8,864 Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) records associated with Gardasil. Eleven deaths occurred less than a week after receiving the vaccine. Seven women died in less than two days. The most common diagnosed cause was blood clotting. One woman died from a clot within 3 hours of the vaccine. One 20-year-old woman, with no medical history reported, died April 4, 2008 just four days after receiving Gardasil.

Use of this vaccine raises major moral questions, which must also be taken into account by parents, such as, the condoning of pre-marital sex rather than teaching children the value of chastity. Moral issues aside, though, very few parents would be willing to risk their daughters’ lives or health if the safety of the vaccine is in doubt.

The British Government plans that all girls aged 12 to 13 will be routinely offered HPV vaccination from September 2008, with a 'catch up' programme starting in Autumn 2009, to vaccinate girls under the age of 18. The Scottish Executive also plans to commence their vaccination programme in September 2008 and Irish health Minister Mary Harney in a recent statement said that girls in Ireland as young as 12 could be vaccinated from next year. The Gardasil vaccine was licensed for use within the European Union in September 2006.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Co-Chair of Ugandan HIV-AIDS Prevention Committee slams profiteering

A thought provoking article by The Rev. Sam L. Ruteikara co-chair of Uganda’s National AIDS-Prevention Programme, appeared in the Washington Post on Monday last June 30th.

Rev. Ruteikara points out that the Ugandan success in reducing the proportion of Ugandans infected by AIDS from 21% in 1991 to 6% in 2002 was substantially due to the message “stick to one partner’. The main thrust of the Ugandan programme, known as the ABC programme, was that people should abstain from sexual activity before marriage and be faithful to their spouse when they marry. Condoms were only promoted in the Ugandan programme as a last resort. Unfortunately this successful approach has been subverted by so-called experts whose approach rejects both abstinence and faithfulness and pushes condom use as the main preventative measure. This has resulted in a rise in HIV infection rates.

The Rev. Ruteikara make a heartfelt plea for the international community to respect traditional African values and makes a plea to those who seek to profit from the misery of others “Let my people go”

Having attended UN Human Rights Commission sessions in Geneva over the years I sympathise with the Rev. Ruteikara. I have witnessed serious proposals based on the Ugandan model of abstinence and faithfulness being sneered at and rejected by many of the western countries, basically because words such as 'abstinence' and 'fidelity' are anathema to the ideology prevalant in most western nations. But as Rev. Ruteikara states in his article:
We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Polish President refuses to sign Lisbon Treaty

The Polish President, Lech Kaczynski has said that it would be ‘pointless’ to sign the Lisbon Treaty after Ireland voted against ratification last month. The German President, Horst Koehler, has delayed ratification until legal challenges have been concluded in the country’s high court. In the apt words of Nikolas Sarkozy: “Something isn’t right. Something isn’t right at all.’ In his capacity as new European President, Mr Sarkozy will be coming to Dublin, giving Irish voters another valuable opportunity to voice their concerns over Lisbon and the future of Europe.