Monday, October 31, 2011

Ireland must report to yet another UN Committee

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) is just one of a whole range of like UN covenants and documents that countries – known as ‘states parties’ – sign up to and subsequently ratify.     It sounds fine, and there is no disputing the fact that many good proposals and commitments are contained in these documents.      But the involvement of so-called states parties doesn’t end there.   Each signatory country or state is obliged to submit a report regularly to the committees attached to the covenants.    This means that, every four or so years, each participating state must report to the committee of the relevant covenant as to how that state is putting into place changes laid down by a specific committee with regard to a number of areas of legislation where it – the committee – considers that change should be effected.

If such interference were directed at, say, China, in the horrific matter of its notorious ‘one child’ policy, then one could understand and legitimately applaud such action.    However, the policies of some United Nations agencies – for instance the UNFPA – are actually in support of the ‘one child’ policy.   So, one can well ask – what is the agenda of, say, the committee of the ICESCR when it drags the promotion of abortion into its area of interest?    And why does Ireland, in its Draft Third Periodic Report to the Committee of the ICESCR, kowtow to the peddlers of death by including the following:

‘Abortion is illegal in Ireland except when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.  The European Court of Human Rights heard in December 2009 an application by three women that it is a breach of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights for the Irish State not to provide abortion in circumstances where a woman wishes to undergo an abortion …  On 16th December 2010, the Court dismissed the application of the first and second applicants, Ms A and Ms B.  The Court found that Ireland had failed to respect the third applicant’s (Ms C) private life contrary to Article 8 of the Convention, as there was no accessible and effective procedure to enable her to establish whether she qualified for a lawful termination of pregnancy in accordance with Irish law.  The Department of Health and Children – in conjunction with its legal advisors is currently examining options for implementing the judgment concerned. …’

The item concludes by directing the reader to the website of an agency the vast majority of whose members offer abortion as a ‘positive option’ to pregnant women and girls.
Abortion has nothing to do with economic, social or cultural rights, and it must have no place in Ireland’s Report.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Students for Life in the US

This video is well worth watching and gives great hope for the future.
The young people are on fire for life and as they say themselves the tide is turning, there are more and more young people taking the pro-life message to heart leading to the availability of more and more young activists so there is hope.

It is vital that this new awakening becomes really international and there is fresh evidence that it is beginning to be judging by increasing numbers. Huge numbers of young people on both sides of the Atlantic attend pro-life marches and rallies wherever and whenever they are held and nowadays often outnumber the older generation, giving lie to the media perception that young people are "pro-choice" which of course is a euphamism for being pro abortion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Archbishop Dolan challenges Obama on DOMA

With attacks on marriage and the family growing day by day, worldwide, it is good to read about any ‘fight back’ on the part of Catholic bishops, in particular.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to President Barack Obama last month, calling on him to stop the undermining of DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  The Archbishop told President Obama that his (the President’s) Administration will undermine marriage and create a serious breach of Church-State relations if it continues to whittle away at DOMA.  The letter to President Obama was accompanied by an analysis of the Administration’s threats to marriage.
Archbishop Dolan wrote:

‘Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. […] While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good that marriage between husband and wife provides.   The law should reflect this reality. […] Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman.  Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense – but this will happen if the Justice Department’s latest constitutional theory prevails in court.’
Let us pray, and hope, that the Archbishop’s admonition may have some impact on the President of the U.S., and that the Bishops’ Conferences in other countries around the world will follow in the footsteps of Archbishop Dolan by challenging their own national governments in a similar manner

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The human dignity of aborted babies

Although this story relates to an event that took place in 2007 perhaps it is worth re-telling – it is not an old story. The story captures in a very important way the humanity and dignity not only of the 10 babies referred to here but of every unborn baby whose human life is ended by abortion. But there is another reality their immortal souls live on and it is therefore a holy and a wholesome deed to have recognised this and acted upon it.  This action is to be admired.

‘I have been on the front lines of the battle to restore respect for human life for over 24 years, and I thought I had seen just about everything.  There is not much that can shake me up any more.  But on June 11, I did one of the hardest things I have ever done.
‘After I left Schooler Funeral Home, it was a couple of hours before I could focus enough to begin to write what I had seen and experienced: A child-size casket containing 10 preborn babies.  The babies varied in age from 25 days to apparently full term.  The full term baby has flowing brown hair and the most beautiful little face. …
‘I went to my car and got a Blessing Blanket for these little ones, and back in I went, with Jim [the funeral director] leading the way to the room where the babies lay in state.  These babies had been dead for at least 35 years but were preserved by a scientific research firm.  Each was encased in an acrylic block, something like a paper weight with a baby inside.  I could have been just another curious onlooker.  But the babies had been entrusted to us for burial, and it was my job to sign the papers; ten papers for ten babies.  Ten babies encased in ten cubes, in one casket.
‘It is impossible to wrap your mind around the cold reality that these children had been deprived of the most basic human dignity for over 35 years, and I wondered if anyone had ever hugged them or loved them.  So I did.  I picked each one up individually and walked across the room, holding the babies close to my heart.  I put each one on the pink baby blanket that says “Wrapped in Jesus’ Love” and I took a picture of these precious little ones.
‘I spiritually adopted them, so that they would have an earthly mother who knows where their bodies will be buried and who loves them, and I signed each of their committal papers. …
‘Tuesday evening, June 12, Bishop John W. Yanta presided at the rosary for the babies at Schooler Funeral Home, assisted by Msgr. CalStalter.  More than 75 people came to pray for the souls of the babies and for their parents.  Then on Wed., June 13, Bishop Yanta presided at their burial at the Hour of Mercy in Memory Gardens, near the statue of the Holy Family….
‘Msgr. Harold Waldow will celebrate the Mass of the Holy Innocents for the babies on July 7 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s in Amarillo [Texas, USA].  Please join us in remembering these little children who never celebrated a birthday, never felt a mother’s hug, and who waited so long for a Christian burial.’   May they rest in peace.

[from the blog of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Controversial UN Health report debated in General Assembly

Special Rapporteur on Health Anand Grover On Monday Oct 24th presented his controversial report, demanding removal of all restrictions on the availability of abortion, to the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.
We blogged recently on this Report pointing out that it links the availability of abortion on demand with the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Grover in presenting his report told the meeting,
“Criminal laws penalizing and restricting abortion provide examples of State interference with women’s right to health. Such laws restrict women’s control over their bodies and require that they continue unplanned pregnancies and give birth when it is not their choice to do so. Criminal restrictions undermine women’s dignity and infringe their autonomy. At the same time, criminalization generates and perpetuates the stigmatization and marginalization of women. As such these laws should be eliminated”
Grover also claimed that decriminalization saves lives and that his report details 14 recommendations towards applying a right to health approach and includes the following
· Decriminalize the provision of information relating to sexual and reproductive health, including evidence-based sexual and reproductive education

· Decriminalize the supply and use of all forms of contraception and voluntary sterilization for fertility control and remove requirements for spousal and/or parental consent

· Suspend or abolish the application of criminal laws to various forms of conduct during pregnancy, such as conduct related to treatment of the fetus, most notably early miscarriage, alcohol and drug consumption and HIV transmission

· Decriminalize abortion, including related laws, such as those concerning abetment of abortion; and 
· Ensure that accurate, evidence-based information concerning abortion and its legal availability is publicly available and that health-care providers are fully aware of the law related to abortion and its exceptions
The report was supported by the US and the EU together with a number of individual states such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa.

The report was opposed by, the Holy See, Egypt, Chile Swaziland and Honduras

The Holy See delegate Fr Bené told the meeting;
“No right to abortion exists under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law and no international treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion. It is instructive to point out in this regard that nowhere in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is reference made to abortion.
Confronted with the misstatement of the Special Rapporteur, namely, that legal restrictions of abortions constitute a violation of the right to health, my delegation points out that the very opposite is in fact the case: abortion is itself a violation of the right to health both of the unborn child and of the mother. Abortion kills the unborn child. It also inflicts physical, spiritual and sometimes psychological harm on the mother and can bring about her death. As a matter of scientific fact, a new human life begins at conception. For this reason, laws must be enacted and upheld that criminalize all induced abortions.”
Fr Bené also told the meeting,
"States are called upon always to respect the primary right and duty of parents in the upbringing and development of their children. It follows logically that parental consent is required for all matters related to the health and wellbeing of their children. The proposal of the Special Rapporteur to circumvent spousal and/or parental consent for the implementation of contraceptive and sterilizing techniques stands in stark contravention of the very nature of marriage and parenthood."
Despite the strongly pro-abortion and controversial nature of this report none of the European pro-life governments, Ireland, Poland and Malta, either demurred from the EU statement welcoming the report or made any intervention during the debate.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Irish Presidential Election Thursay 27th Oct

For whom do we vote?

On Thursday, 27 October, the Irish electorate will vote to elect a new President of Ireland, who will take office for the next seven years.
The Constitution of Ireland proclaims that the President ‘shall take precedence over all other persons in the State and … shall exercise and perform the powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution and by law.’  The Constitution further states that the President shall enter that office ‘by taking and subscribing publicly, in the presence of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas [parliament], of Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Court, and other public personages, the following declaration:
‘ “In the presence of Almighty God I ……  do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities in the service and welfare of the people of Ireland.  May God direct and sustain me.” ’
That’s a serious declaration for anyone to make.
There are seven people who have put themselves forward in the upcoming election as a possible president.   But how do we decide who is the person most suitable to represent the Irish people and to guard the Constitution of Ireland?   The Constitution deals with many aspects of life in a State but, in particular, it deals in detail with the rights of the citizens.   These basic rights include the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life, which, of course, includes the right to life of the unborn child.  Another most important right is that recognition given by the Constitution to the family founded on marriage, and the pledge of the State to protect the family founded on marriage against attack.  The State guarantees to protect the family in its constitution and authority as the necessary basis of social order, and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.
Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Note on the participation of Catholics in political life [2002] warns that we cannot close our eyes to ‘the real dangers which certain tendencies in society are promoting through legislation, nor can one ignore the effects this will have on future generations.’ 
Now, who of all the seven candidates can truthfully (and the President must be truthful) say that he or she subscribes to the requirements of the presidency to uphold the Constitution?   Only one person comes to mind, and that person is Dana. All of the others want to change it in various degrees.
A Number 1 vote for Dana on Thursday next will show that we still have a conscience, and that we still respect the important things in life.

The right to life of unborn babies in international law

The San Jose Articles which were launched on 6th October 2011 at the UN in New York and subsequently in London and Madrid are available in English Spanish German and French. The articles are a declaration on the rights of the unborn child and they are designed as a challenge to claims by UN officials that there exists in international law a right to abortion. 
According to the website 

The San Jose articles were created to help governments and civil society promote human rights through a proper understanding of how the rights of the unborn child are protected in international law. The articles should be used to counter false assertions, such as the erroneous notion that abortion is a human right.

LEGISLATORS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS should use the San Jose Articles to help channel international aid to maternal and child health care programs which ensure a healthy outcome of pregnancy for both mother and child and to justify the withholding of funds which violate the right to life of the unborn child from conception.
John Smeaton in his BLOG points out that the declaration 
is the latest in a series of initiatives by various organizations over recent years – including the Amnesty for Babies’ initiatives and others – which insist that international human rights agreements uphold the right to life of unborn children.

The signatories include Professor Robert George of Princeton, former US Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, Professor John Finnis of Oxford, Professor John Haldane of the University of St. Andrews, Francisco Tatad, the former majority leader of the Philippine Senate, Javier Borrego, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and Professor Carter Snead of UNESCO’s international committee on bioethics.

As Professor George pointed out, they can be used to oppose the work of UN officials “who say falsely that governments are required by international law to repeal domestic laws protecting human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development against the violence of abortion”.

Like the Amnesty for Babies’ launch at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2006, the San Jose Articles were launched in the presence of representatives of the Holy See. The Holy See’s presence at such events witnesses to the fundamental importance of the Catholic Church – with its unequivocal defence of the value and inviolability of human life – for the pro-life movement worldwide.

History will judge the strength or otherwise of this or of that initiative. For example, the San Jose Articles can be used, with its list of distinguished signatories, to oppose the work of UN compliance committees which are seeking to put pressure on developing countries to legalize abortion by falsely representing the meaning of international agreements.

Equally, the World scientists' and physicians' declaration on human rights for nascent human beings, launched in October 2008, can be used to develop support for ethical scientific research which respects, in the words of the declaration “the inherent rights of human embryos and foetuses during our quest for beneficial knowledge, just as we respect the inviolable and inalienable rights of children and adults."

And the Amnesty for Babies petition, launched in June 2006, provides legislators with the opportunity of signing a petition to members of the United Nations general assembly. The petition calls on nations to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child before as well as after birth; and to adopt all measures necessary to protect adequately human life and dignity in the application of life sciences.

On the other hand, reasonable disappointment has been expressed that, after three years, more scientists and physicians have not been found to support the world scientists’ and physicians’ declaration, and that, after five years, more legislators have not been found to support the unequivocal defence of the right to life expressed by the legislators’ Amnesty for Babies’ petition.

Equally, reasonable disappointment has been expressed by pro-life observers, myself included, that the San Jose articles contain a conclusion which needs to be stronger. In Article 8, it’s not sufficient to declare that laws “may and should [my emphasis] invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion”.

Analogy helps in such cases. It would have been wholly inadequate for the world to have told South Africa 30 years ago that “it may and should end apartheid”. It was rightly warned by world’s nations that it must do so. "Should" is ambiguous, expressing either an obligation or an aspiration.

Proponents of the culture of death are not so inhibited. In September 2010 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ban Ki Moon the UN Secretary General, and Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, launched a report “on discrimination against women, in law and practice, and how the issue is addressed throughout the United Nations human rights system”. In that report they called for the policing of nations worldwide to “address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions”.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the professional body in the UK governing pharmacists, rules that health professionals, with a conscientious objection to, say, abortifacient products, must refer patients seeking them to health professionals with no such objection.

The truth is that the obligation is exactly the other way round: the right to life must be upheld and abortions must not be facilitated. If we fail to insist on that obligation the pro-life movement will, ultimately, complete succumb to the superior force (force majeure) being used against us.

Friday, October 21, 2011


The following is the text of a letter by Jim Clair on the reasons he will vote for Dana Rosemary Scallon as the next president of Ireland

This Presidential election is the last chance the people will have to retain the right of self-determination. For that very reason we need a President who will put the people first, someone without political allegiance, someone who knows what is happening in the world of politics and someone who will not turn away from the task of protecting our values, families, right to life, the right to matters of faith, belief in God and the people’s sovereign right of self determination and having the final say in all matters.

Only Dana has warned where the country is going. Only Dana will stop the ebb of power from the people to the political system and the political elite. The night before Dana was elected MEP she was told by D4 media she would lose her deposit. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. A vote for Dana is a vote for YOUR future.

Dana is a successful entrepreneur, a mother and wife who has managed a very successful career across the globe, including countries such as Japan, USA, Mexico, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Austria, France, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Nigeria,  Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and many more. Throughout her career she has been in an ambassadorial role and is one of the few people instantly recognised by her first name - Dana, as is Bono and Elvis,

Transient politicians promise many things that they neither can nor will deliver. We are at a time of change, with many questions remaining unanswered. Where are we going as a nation? Why is there such a rush to abandon the values that have sustained us throughout the dark ages?  Why should we put our trust in media that wants to decide for us or in political parties who are governed by spin-doctors and financial institutions such as the banks, ECB and IMF?

Our biggest problem is the breakdown in support for the traditional family, which leaves many looking to a false value system. As a result this can lead to hopelessness and depression, emigration of our young people and social ills which drug and alcohol abuse or even the worst of all - suicides. Many would rather not think about some of these problems but sooner or later these problems impact on all of the community.

Secularism is a real and present danger, which will lead to a society which will crumble and decay from within.  Euthanasia is already accepted in Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland for the old, sick, infirm and handicapped. Ireland is unique in its protection of life. The Christian principles and values, as contained in Ireland’s Constitution, ensures everyone is valued at every stage in life.

Six of the candidates are supportive of “modernizing” our constitution to bring it into line with UN and European laws. This will mean removing God from our constitution. Only one candidate will resist this to the point of resignation as President. Please be absolutely clear therefore that this is your last chance to vote in favour or against a Christian based constitution for Ireland. What do you want for your children and grandchildren? Dana is not for turning when it comes to protecting your rights as President

Family Planning groups Spreading HIV/AIDS in Africa through hormonal contraception?

According to recent reports the most widely used contraceptive in sub Saharan Africa doubles the risk of transmission of HIV. This result is clearly indicated in a scientific research study, conducted by an international team, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was published on October 4th in the "The Lancet".  

The study, which related to 3,790 couples in which one partner was HIV positive, was conducted over a two-year period with quarterly clinical trials.  The couples were selected from 8 African countries with high HIV rates, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The results of this scientific study are clear: where one partner in a couple is HIV positive, the use by the woman of the hormonal contraceptive Depo-Provera - produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and administered by injection, doubles the risk of infection of the healthy partner: the percentage of women infected rose from 3.78 to 6.61% in a year, while for men the probability of infection is raised from 1.51 to 2.61%.

This study is not the first to make the connection between Depo-Provera and increased HIV rates. A 2004 study by the National Institutes of Health, University of North Carolina and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (Morrison et al) found that the use of injected hormonal contraceptives increases the risk of STD’s. see report
Depo-Provera use is widespread in Africa, due to its convenience: it is taken quarterly and does not need the assistance of a doctor. It is estimated that about 12 million African women between 15 and 49 years (6 percent) use this method of contraception.

Shockingly despite the earlier studies WHO and other associated groups including UNFPA, UNDP and the World Bank issued the following statement. 

WHO's systematic review of the evidence on whether use of hormonal contraception modifies the risk of acquiring a STI was updated.  It was reviewed by the WHO Family Planning Guideline Steering Group who concluded that this new evidence does not modify the current guidance, namely: there are no restrictions on the use of COCs and DMPA by women at high risk of acquiring a STI 

Once again despite tthe clarity the results in the current research it appears that for ideological reasons international organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are once again failing in their duty to take this into account and continue to allow the drug to be administered to African women, despite the apparent risks. Women's health in third world countries appears to be secondary to ideology in the priorities of these organisations, under the pretence of reducing maternal mortality the priority of international organizations is to reduce the number of children women bear rather than making pregnancy and childbearing safer for women.

The WHO instead of acting immediately to save lives by issuing a statement for women to cease using hormonal contraception it has instead issued a statement, which casts doubt on the results of the study and has arranged a meeting to discuss the issues early next year. The WHO statement reads:

“Currently, systematic reviews conclude that the weight of evidence does not indicate that use of hormonal contraception increases the risk of HIV acquisition, transmission or disease progression among the general population, but may have an impact on women at high risk of HIV infection, such as sex workers."

The statement continues 

"[…] WHO and partners have urged for more research to resolve key gaps in our understanding of the topic.  In light of the study by Heffron and colleagues, as well as the public health concerns it raises, WHO is convening a Technical Consultation on 31 January - 1 February 2012 to re-examine the totality of evidence on potential effects of hormonal contraception on HIV acquisition, disease progression, and infectivity/transmission to sexual partners.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marie Stopes report concedes lack of availability of abortion in Ireland does not endanger women's lives

Family & Life report Oct.20, that Marie Stopes own figures prove that lack of availability of abortion in Ireland does not endanger women's lives
In its annual report, British abortion provider Marie Stopes International (MSI) admits that its activities in Ireland will prevent no maternal deaths nor will they prevent any “unsafe” abortions taking place. The information is contained in an annex to the organisation’s Global Impact Report 2010. The 70-page glossy publication is intended to appeal to its main funders and supporters, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the UK Department for International Development.

MSI gets few individual donations, so it has designed its annual report to appeal to big funders who are familiar with what it does. The group operates in forty countries and claims that its activities prevent 13,640 maternal deaths internationally and 1.34 million “unsafe” abortions (mainly in developing countries). In addition to grants from large donors, MSI activities in developing countries are subsidised by profits from its abortion clinics. The group admits to sterilising over half a million women in 2010.
Ireland has long been recognised as having the lowest level of maternal mortality in the world and it is significant that other western countries including the UK and the US have higher levels of maternal mortality. It has been suggested that the higher level of maternal mortality in those countries relates to the availability of so called "safe legal abortion". Unfortunately this cannot be confirmed because these statistics are not presently separated out from the general maternal mortality figures in those countries but clearly this should be done.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reconstructing society on ideological grounds

I referred last week (October 11th and October 14th) to a number of areas in which the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Committee of the Human Rights Council draft report indicates that certain member states of the UN demanded that Ireland should change her laws.  
It is acknowledged that the representatives of Ireland stood fairly firm on the question of abortion, but it is disturbing to see that in other areas Ireland appears to be taking on board some of the other recommendations, inimical to family and life, put forward by member states.   One such area is that of homosexual unions.
It is interesting to see, and know, that Scottish bishops are speaking out against any redefinition of marriage.   The Scottish Catholic Observer reports as follows:

‘Two senior members of the Scottish hierarchy have added their voices this week to growing opposition to the Scottish Government’s plans to legalise same-sex “marriage” as the Church backed calls for a referendum on the issue.
‘Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow and Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell both released powerful statements condemning what the archbishop said was an attempt to “reconstruct society on ideological grounds.”
‘ “The Catholic Church, for one, will not accept it, and indeed will actively campaign against it,” Archbishop Conti said, encouraging Scotland’s Catholics to make their opposition known.
‘The Church also backed a call on Tuesday from former SNP leader Gordon Wilson for a national referendum on the issue of same-sex “marriage.” '

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Victory in ECJ patenting case: Human embryos or cells derived from human embryos must not be patented

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice has today, October 18, 2011, released its judgment in a landmark case about the patenting of human embryos
The Court decided that human embryos and cells generated from them must not be patented and defined the embryo as followsany human ovum after fertilisation, any non-fertilised human ovum into which the cell nucleus from a mature human cell has been transplanted, and any non-fertilised human ovum whose division and further development have been stimulated by parthenogenesis constitute a ‘human embryo’”

The ruling has the effect of setting clearly defined ethical boundaries for research and development in biotechnology in Europe. From now on it will not be possible to get a European patent on any research, which involves embryos and embryonic stem cells and it is likely that future research will focus on adult stem cells, as opposed to embryonic research

The European Center for Law and Justice (ELCJ) has issued the following statement on the implications of the judgment.

Strasbourg, 18 October 2011 
In an important and closely-monitored judgment, the Court of Luxembourg has decided, in the case C-34/10 “Oliver Brüstle v Greenpeace e.V.”, that an invention is excluded from being patented where the process requires either the prior destruction of human embryos or their use as a base material. This is applicable even if, in the patent application, the description of that process as in the present case does not refer to the use of human embryos. In other words, a process which involves the removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.
The case originally concerns a patent held by Mr Oliver Brüstle since 1997[1], in relation to a process using embryonic stem cells in order to treat neurological diseases. The German Federal Court of Justice, (Bundesgerichtshof), hearing the case introduced by Greenpeace against Mr Oliver Brüstle’s patent, referred the question to the Court of Justice concerning the interpretation of the “human embryo” mentioned in Article 6(2)(c) of the EU Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions[1].
According to this article, an invention is excluded from patentability "where the technical teaching which is the subject matter of the patent application requires the prior destruction of human embryos or their use as base material, whatever the stage at which that takes place and even if the description of the technical teaching claimed does not refer to the use of human embryos. (...) Any human ovum after fertilisation constitutes a 'human embryo'".
The question in the Brüstle case was whether the exclusion from patentability of the human embryo expressed in the Directive covers all stages of life from fertilisation of the ovum or whether other conditions must be met, for example that a certain stage of development must be reached.
In response to this question, the Court has decided that the Directive covers all stages of life. It provides an appropriate definition for the human embryo, as an organism “capable of commencing the process of development of a human being” whether they are the result of fecundation, or the product of cloning. Therefore, for the Court, “a non-fertilised human ovum into which the cell nucleus from a mature human cell has been transplanted and a non-fertilised human ovum whose division and further development have been stimulated by parthenogenesis must also be classified as a ‘human embryo’.[2]
The ECLJ welcomes this decision; the proper protection of the human embryo requires that the human embryo is given a broad definition. This decision protects life and the human dignity in its early development. But still, the ECJ ruled that it is for the national court to ascertain, in the light of scientific developments, whether a stem cell obtained from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage constitutes a ‘human embryo’ within the meaning of the Directive.
One of its consequences will be to promote the more ethical fields of researches, mainly the research on adult stem cells. Financially, the research on embryos and embryonic stem cells will be less attractive without the ability to get patents in Europe.
Here is the central ruling of the Grand Chamber of the Court :
« 1.      Article 6(2)(c) of Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions must be interpreted as meaning that:
–        any human ovum after fertilisation, any non-fertilised human ovum into which the cell nucleus from a mature human cell has been transplanted, and any non-fertilised human ovum whose division and further development have been stimulated by parthenogenesis constitute a ‘human embryo’;
–        it is for the referring court to ascertain, in the light of scientific developments, whether a stem cell obtained from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage constitutes a ‘human embryo’ within the meaning of Article 6(2)(c) of Directive 98/44.
2.      The exclusion from patentability concerning the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes set out in Article 6(2)(c) of Directive 98/44 also covers the use of human embryos for purposes of scientific research, only use for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it being patentable.
3.      Article 6(2)(c) of Directive 98/44 excludes an invention from patentability where the technical teaching which is the subject-matter of the patent application requires the prior destruction of human embryos or their use as base material, whatever the stage at which that takes place and even if the description of the technical teaching claimed does not refer to the use of human embryos. »

Are some of Spain's Socialists turning against the "Zapatero Project"?

The following piece appears on the Iona Catholic blog, and bearing in mind the anti life and family agenda of the current Zapatero project which is being imposed on Spanish society it makes for very interesting reading:
Left wing Spanish political group, Solidarity, has issued a press release explaining that its ideology has led it to defend the right to life of the unborn from conception to natural death, in clear opposition to abortion.
In its statement, Solidarity said, ‘We are socialists and we oppose abortion and its legalisation.  We oppose all attacks on life: the death penalty, torture, hunger, the arms race, war, slavery,’ Catholic News Agency reports.
The group called abortion ‘an odious act of violence carried out against the unborn and against mothers.’
‘With such a “pseudo-progressive” measure as abortion advocacy a so-called socialist party, headed by Zapatero, has explicitly put forward a neoliberal political and economic capitalist program,’ the statement said.
The statement later indicated that ‘the womb of the mother should be the most protected place in nature.  Society must also protect children and mothers before and after birth.’
One of the members of the group, Jesus Berenger, 41, explained, ‘I am part of the left and the left before used to defend life, the weakest, but now the parties are driven by their interests.  I defend the dignity of the person.  I am against hunger, exploitation and abortion, which is murder.’

A very important book was published in 2010 by Ignacio Arsuaga and Miguel Vidal Santos, titled
"The Zapatero Project. Chronicle of an Assault on Society". The book deals with the New Spanish Revolution: How socialists under Zapatero are reshaping Spain.

Zapatero’s originally hidden agenda was aimed at profoundly changing Spain in the ideological, cultural, legislative, social and political fields. “The change we invoke,” Zapatero acknowledged, “goes far beyond a mere change in government. The change is the transformation of society.”

The Zapatero Project shows that this transformation represents a new totalitarianism involving the brainwashing of children, the destruction of the family, the denial of the right to life, the eviction of the Catholic Church from the public square and the deconstruction of the nation.
However the elements of this project are not limited to Spain. The same secularist program is being pushed by many European governments and by many elected and non-elected bodies of the European Union.

Like Mr Zapatero, they aim at a legal and social order “inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Forum 2011 on End of Life issues in Ireland

The Forum 2011 on End of Life in Ireland, held in Dublin on 12 October, was the culmination of two years of public consultation and meetings.   During this meeting, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched a new initiative called ‘Think Ahead’, which is aimed at encouraging people to write down arrangements and decisions with regard to their future life and health – a type of ‘Advance Care Directive’?    
(For further information on the Forum in general please see my previous blogs on the subject, e.g., 14 September 2011).

One contributor to the proceedings was a woman, three of whose children had been stillborn.  The theme of her talk was ‘Let us remember how once we dealt with death’, and she spoke of the way in which mothers, and their babies who died before, during or shortly after birth, were treated in maternity hospitals in the not too distant past.   She spoke, also, of the attitude of many – albeit not being intentionally hurtful – towards mothers, like herself, who had lost their babies.   Some people, thinking they were being helpful, would sympathise with her that she had not been able to hold her babies in her arms, as the hospital staff would spirit them away secretly and quietly.   The lady made a lovely statement about this.  She said that she did indeed hold her babies – ‘I held them in my womb for nine months.’  

Four workshop sessions were held during the afternoon.   One of these, ‘The Medicalisation of Dying’, was led by Professor Aidan Halligan, a former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.    In his introductory remarks, Professor Halligan spoke of the necessity to be personally present to patients – for instance, to hold their hands, to listen to what they had to say, rather than treating them as a number on a list.  A good doctor helps people to rediscover their lost values, and looks after someone because of who they are, with no discrimination.  ‘Do the right thing well on a difficult day’, Professor Halligan said.   A worrying note arose from his presentation, however, when he spoke of a project for the homeless in London that used the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ in its operation.   John Smeaton has written extensively on this  rather suspect programme.
Except for some implications arising from the references that were made to the advantages of ‘Advance Care Directives’, the general tone of the day appeared to be a positive one.    

However, when a query on assisted suicide was put by one of the attendees, the Chairman of the National Council of the Forum on End of Life, Mrs. Justice McGuinness (she chaired the meeting) replied that as assisted suicide is illegal in Ireland it is the policy of the Forum not to discuss the subject.    We sincerely hope that it will remain that way. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Some issues of concern, which arose during Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Our initial review of Ireland’s UPR concentrated on the issue of abortion, however there are a number of additional issues in the draft report, which are a cause for concern.
The draft report outlined 126 recommendations in total, 62 of which were accepted by the Irish Government. The Government also made a commitment that it would "study carefully" a further 49 recommendations before the next Human Rights Council session in March 2012.
One of the issues recommended by Mexico and set out in the Irish Government list of accepted recommendations related to making contraceptive information “available and accessible” to “boys, girls and adolescents”.

“Ensure the national availability and accessibility to contraceptive services and methods including through the dissemination of information and education to boys, girls and adolescents taking into account prevention of discrimination based on geographic (sic), status, disability or migrant status”. 

The Government has also agreed to consider the following recommendations made by Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay
The Spanish recommendation  called on the Irish Government to, 
“Deepen the Reform of the law on same-sex marriage and change the concept of traditional family as enshrined in the Constitution”
The fact that the Government are prepared to consider this recommendation it is a cause for grave concern
The Government also agreed to consider Switzerland’s recommendation to “amend Article (sic) 37 of the 1998 Employment Equality Act in order to prevent such discrimination against homosexual and unmarried parents”.
Again this is a cause for concern in that section 37 of the act allows religious institutions, such as schools or hospitals, to hire or to refuse to hire in accordance with their ethos.

The Irish Government also agreed to consider a recommendation by Uruguay to explicitly prohibit “any form of corporal punishment in the family”.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fr. Simon O’Byrne, OFM

Fr. Simon O’Byrne, OFM, died earlier this month, Requiescat in Pace. 
Fr. O’Byrne was an unstinting defender of life from conception to natural death, and he is greatly missed.   Known as ‘the teenagers’ priest’, he was a staunch supporter of young people, and in the 1960s he was largely responsible for the successes of the Catholic Youth Crusade which attracted crowds of nearly 20,000 young people to rallies at Knock Shrine in Co. Mayo. Fr. O’Byrne constantly promoted and upheld traditional Catholic values and he was a strong opponent of the permissive and so-called liberal society that was starting to manifest itself in Ireland at that time.    
He spoke at Knock in 1979, where he criticised the ‘advocates of the permissive society’ for promoting abortion, euthanasia, divorce, drug-pushing, pornography, etc.  
Fr. O’Byrne was also the author of a number of books and booklets on many aspects of life.  A number of the booklets that he wrote are still available in religious bookshops at very reasonable prices, although one of his books, Fatima in Focus, is described as being ‘an extremely rare publication’, attracting asking prices of £130, and £395, on internet bookselling sites!
Long live priests like Fr. O’Byrne

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dilemmas: Post Abortion counselling

The London Independent newspaper carries a regular feature entitled ‘Dilemmas’.  The dilemmas are presented in such form as to pose questions requesting answers or suggestions from readers of the paper.    It is assumed that the dilemmas are genuine ones.    The following is the text of the most recent problem presented under the name Judith:
‘Ten years ago I had an abortion.  I never thought that I wouldn’t one day get pregnant in the future and now I find that I regret bitterly what I did.
‘At the time I thought I wouldn’t be able to look after a child, and the father was a violent man and the prospect of having to put up with him for the rest of my life, even only as a visiting father, made me scared.  But now I find that I can’t stop myself thinking about “what might have been”.  It’s too late now, at 42, for me to have a child – I’ve had tests and they showed it’s unlikely I would be able to conceive – and anyway I haven’t got a man in my life at the moment.  How can I ever get over the agonising feeling of having made such a big mistake in my past?’
Sadly the advice offered by the columnist, and the letters published in the column, is appalling, it fails to recognise or take into account the reality that Judith expresses in the last sentence of her sharing.

Real help is available from groups such as Rachael's Vineyard and Silent no More 

These organisations reach out to women hurt by abortion, encouraging them to actively seek healing by attending special abortion after-care programs. The programmes encourage women to face the truth that they have terminated a life, the life of a baby and that until they face and accept this reality it will be hard for them to obtain the healing they so urgently need. In due course those women who are ready to do so, are Invited to speak out, to tell the truth about abortion's negative consequences in a similar way to that which has been expressed by Judith in the published dilemma

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ireland rejects demands to legalise abortion

European Life Network is pleased to report that the Draft report of the working group on Ireland's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was issued yesterday October 10th at the United Nations offices in Geneva, shows that Ireland has once again stood firm in its protection of unborn life and has rejected the calls made by six countries for the introduction of abortion. 

We reported last Friday on Ireland's  UPR and that Ireland’s, pro-life laws were questioned by delegates from the following countries. Holland, Slovenia, Norway, Spain, Denmark and the UK called on Ireland to legislate for abortion. 

The draft report showed that there were a large number of recommendations apart from abortion and included, racial discrimination,  gender equality, the travelling community, poor sanitation and over-crowding in prisons, a children's rights referendum, torture prevention and gender equality. In all the report outlined 126 recommendations, 62 of which the Irish Government accepted with a commitment that it would "study carefully" a further 49 before the next Human Rights Council session in March 2012.
In all 15 recommendations were rejected, six of which related to abortion. 
The rejected recommendations included a call from the United Kingdom to introduce legislation to implement the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the A, B and C v Ireland case and a request from Slovenia to allow abortion "at least when pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the pregnant woman." Recommendations on abortion from Norway, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands were also rejected. Denmark's recommendations were the most radical and called for abortion on demand.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Death of Dr. Margaret Ogola

‘Unless we recognise that each individual is valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights.’

This is just one quotation from a great Kenyan lady, Dr. Margaret Ogola – author, humanitarian and medical doctor – who died on 22 September 2011.  Requiescat in Pace. 
John Smeaton’s blog  carried a lovely tribute to Dr. Ogola on 27 September last.

Every human being, from the moment of conception, has been given his or her own Guardian Angel.    The Feast-day of the Guardian Angels, which occurs in October, was not celebrated this year because it fell on a Sunday but this in no way detracts from the honour and recognition that we owe to our Guardian Angels, and to the Guardian Angels of the countless millions of babies killed by abortion

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ireland's Universal Periodic Review

Ireland’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place yesterday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Ireland’s Justice Minister, Alan Shatter who represented the Irish Government was questioned on a wide range of issues including Ireland’s pro-life laws. The report of the UPR session will be adopted on Monday next and will be considered by the full council next March. 
In his presentation Minister Shatter told the UN UPR Working Group that the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B & C case found that there was an absence of effective procedures to establish a right to termination in Ireland and that as stated in the national report 

“Ireland is committed to expeditious implementation of the judgment and an expert group will be appointed in November, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.”

During the subsequent session Ireland’s, anti-abortion laws were questioned by delegates from the following countries, Holland, Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Spain and the UK, all of whom, called on Ireland to legislate for abortion. Denmark additionally called for abortion on demand.
Minister Shatter in response to the questions and recommendations on the abortion issue told the meeting that Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution guarantees both the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother and continued by saying that the issue therefore has a constitutional context. He the told the meeting that the Irish Supreme Court in the X case had decided that it was lawful to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland when it is necessary to preserve the life, as distinct from the health of the mother, and that the government would address the issue and meet their obligations. He also told the meeting that the Court in the A, B & C judgment had found that Irish law is in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. It was he said the lack of an identifiable procedure that a woman could avail of if her life was genuinely at risk, on which the European Court had ruled
Despite the demand of pro-abortion governments and pro-abortion groups such as  the IFPA Ireland is not obliged to legislate for abortion as a result the recent European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B & C case.
It is to be hoped that the expert group to be appointed in November will include pro-life legal and medical advice and will take into account the numerous peer reviewed studies, highlighting the negative consequences of abortion for women, rather than adopting a pro-abortion ideological stance, bearing in mind that Ireland has the lowest level of maternal mortality in the world. In fact Ireland has a much better record of safeguarding the lives of women in pregnancy than any of the countries that challenged the Irish laws on abortion.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

UN launch major attack on unborn life

Despite the fact that there is no such right as a "right" to abortion  and despite vast amounts of research that confirms its disastrous effects on women’s lives in addition to killing their babies, the ongoing attempt by pro-abortion forces to create a so called human right to abortion through the United Nations system has been ramped up significantly this year.
This is evident both in the Human Rights Council in Geneva and in the General Assembly in New York.

The focus of the UN along with the WHO and UNFPA is fatally flawed, instead of making child bearing safe for every woman it is aimed at reducing the number of children a woman bears by the provision of family planning and abortion. Sadly by re-directing millions of dollars to these areas many women are left without adequate assistance thereby slowing the reduction in the maternal mortality levels. Organizations that could make a real difference such as Matercare are being denied the funding they urgently need and if offered it will be conditional upon the inclusion of abortion.

Two major UN pro-abortion reports were issued recently one in Geneva and one in New York
In Geneva the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Navanetham Pillay, titled “Practices in adopting a human rights-based approach to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and human rights” correctly calls for urgent attention to be given to reduction of maternal mortality, however the methods being proposed include abortion on demand, eliminating laws that “stigmatise” women and addressing so called “unsafe abortion” which it is claimed is responsible for 1 in every 8 deaths
The High Commissioner in her report claims that States have an obligation to address so called unsafe abortion, which she says is one of the 5 major causes of maternal death. Of course all abortion is unsafe for the baby and in addition is never a solution for any crisis

In New York the Report of Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health, published as a report of the Secretary General will be debated during the current session of the General Assembly.
The report, written by UN Special Rapporteur Anand Grover, links the availability of abortion on demand with the fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The report calls for the removal of all Criminal laws penalizing or restricting induced abortion and calls for abortion on demand without any restrictions and calls for availability of so called medical as well as surgical abortion. According to Grover, 

“Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated.”

Grover goes on to say that legalizing abortion, alone, is not enough for states to avoid violating women’s right to health. States he says must also actively promote the procedure. 

“States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality. Safe abortions, however, will not immediately be available upon decriminalization unless States create conditions under which they may be provided. These conditions include establishing available and accessible clinics; the provision of additional training for physicians and health-care workers; enacting licensing requirements and ensuring the availability of the latest and safest medicines and equipment.” 

Grover also calls for removal of all stigmatization relating to abortion and calls for the protection of abortionists and abortion providers from so-called “harassment”. 
He also claims that lack of access to legal abortion leads to women seeking unsafe abortion and this in turn increases maternal mortality
 His report then attacks conscientious objection and requires access to information and education on all matters relative to sexual and reproductive health and the removal of all barriers thereto.

It seems that the pro-abortion forces want to get their agenda fully and finally in place before President Obama leaves the White House which suggests that they see him as a one term President.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Says Dana Rosemary Scallon

There is a real crisis of trust, a crisis of fear and a crisis of confidence in almost every home.  “Middle Ireland” is reeling from mismanagement of those who profiteer. 
Governments have failed us, politicians have failed us and banks have failed us. We are in a time of crisis for families. We need to start looking after each other first before we look after the bondholders, banks and speculators. Families are suffering as jobs are lost, house values tumble and bills soar.
I will offer a Presidency that upholds values, trust, equity and fairness; one that supports the families of Ireland and ensures the most vulnerable are listened to. I will ensure that no government will be allowed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Irish people, subject families to penal times, facilitate a bail out foreign banks, speculators and the elite, or undermine our Constitution,” concluded Dana Rosemary Scallon.
Dana appearing on the Late Late show last Friday night promised as President to uphold the Constitution which is in fact vitally important at a time when the Government is setting up a Constitutional Convention and threatening to make significant changes to it

This theme was also reflected by Dublin's Archbishop Martin over the weekend when he made the following statement.

Our Constitution, Bunreacht na hEireann, is sometimes presented just as a fossilised child of its time; within its limitations, it has proven to be a document which was ably capable of guaranteeing rights and curbing power – including the power of the State - and has fostered a valuable culture of legal interpretation which has served the people of Ireland well. 
The Constitutional Convention which is to be launched soon must be a moment of true discernment. Renewal does not always mean discontinuity. Tradition is not outdated each new day. True values are different to fashion, where the fashion of the day can tomorrow be quickly out of fashion. Values must be rooted somewhere. They must represent a constant in society and what society aspires to.