Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Matercare challenge to Bill and Melinda Gates

Strathmore University Nairobi  reports that Prof Robert Walley, Founder and Director of Mater care International, challenged the recent reproductive health initiatives of the founder of Microsoft, as irrelevant to the causes of maternal mortality in the world, as expressed by the statistics of the World Health Organisation itself.

The Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of St Johns in Newfoundland, Canada was speaking at the 9th Ethics Conference at Strathmore University, Nairobi, which this year is focusing on Bioethics.

Speaking to the topic of "Mothers Matter, but Who Cares?", he spoke of how 330,000 mothers die in pregnancy every year, the vast majority of the causes are easily preventable and 91% occur in the last three months of pregnancy (Lancet 2009).

He described how often mothers die alone, in agony, and exhausted. The maternal mortality rate , which is the number of mother dying in pregnancy each year in the developed world is 1:15,000, whereas in the developing world it is 1:15. This is one of the scandals of modern medicine. Nobody is asking : what happens to mothers? He noted in particular the lack of maternal care in refugee camps. In his own personal professional experience he has never experienced a maternal death.

Mothers are politically unimportant, they have no voice. There is a lot of violence done against women and children, often through a lack of communication of truth in relation to the side effects of contraceptives and abortion. One of the first rights of women is the right to know the truth. Mothers are being ground to the dust.

He presented The Charter of Maternal Rights, based on the Social Doctrine of the Church and the dignity of women. We need a Marshall plan to help mothers and so do something about the most neglected of the millennium goals.

It will take 275 years to reach the millennium goal of a reduction in maternal mortality if we keep going at the present rate, because mothers don’t matter to governments and international aid organisations.

He accused womens groups of doing nothing for these problems. They talk of women, women, women, but say nothing of mothers, mothers, mothers. We need to restore the dignity of mothers.

He spoke of the barbarism of partial birth abortion promoted by the Clinton administration. The Year of Faith has to be a year to evangelise doctors and midwives. It is also the 25th anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem of John Paul II.

He described the Isiolo project, the 91% solution, a maternal health facility, that has been built to help rural women in that area of Kenya.

Prof Anne Muigai spoke of how 30% of cases of IVF have birth defects. Prof Seamus Grimes of National University of Ireland, Galway delivered  a presentation  on "Understanding Sub Saharan African Fertility Transition".

Monday, October 29, 2012

Children's rights amendment is radically anti family

The proposed amendment is radically anti-family, indeed, in two ways it changes the very NATURE of the family.

1. The proposed amendment makes the State the defender of the rights of all children and teenagers, even against their parents. And the radical rights in question here are basically set out in the UN Convention.
This changes the very nature of the family unit from parents and children to teenagers backed by the State against parents. This makes the State a part of the family unit, and the family becomes, in principle, not a place of unity but a locus for conflict.

2. Section 3 of the proposed amendment will provide for “the voluntary placement for adoption of any child”.

In other words, the State will no longer officially expect parents to bear responsibility for the care of their children, will no longer see it as part of the natural duty of parents to do so. Rather it turns parenting into an optional choice.
This means that even for those parents who do opt to care for their children, actual parenting will be seen by the State as a lifestyle choice.
In this way, the State is undermining or changing the very nature of the family as referred to in other articles of the Constitution. This utterly devalues those articles.

Moreover, does a child not have a natural and imprescriptible right to be brought up by his/her own parents? What will happen to this right?

Call for Independent Enquiry into IFPA and HSE pregnancy counselling services

European Life Network (ELN) adds its voice with those who seek an independent inquiry into the shocking revelations about pregnancy counselling practices at Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and Health Services Executive (HSE) run clinics in Ireland. See previous ELN article dated 27.10.2012 which reports on the background.

The revelations from an undercover investigation into taxpayer funded crisis pregnancy agencies, published in Saturday’s Irish Independent, reveal a callous indifference to Ireland pro-life laws and a widespread culture of disregard for women’s lives and health.

Dr Ruth Cullen in a statement called for “an independent public inquiry into how such professional malpractice has been allowed to go unnoticed and uncorrected by the agencies legally tasked with monitoring them.

Dr Cullen said: “Regardless of where one stands on abortion, the findings raise huge issues about women’s lives and safety. They also raise very serious questions about lax governance in the agencies.”

ELN are in full agreement with Dr Cullen who pointed out that since the HSE and the Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP) are themselves implicated in the failure of proper governance of the crisis pregnancy agencies funded by them, they are part of the problem and obviously cannot be allowed to supervise the investigation.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Illegal advice given to pregnant women in pro-abortion counselling agencies in Ireland

The Irish Independent reports 27th October that an undercover probe of pregnancy counselling agencies in Ireland found that staff in some of the tax funded agencies such as the IFPA are putting women's lives at risk and breaking the law by advising women to withold critical information from their doctors, information which could have life or death implications for the women in question. 

In addition to withholding of information illegal advice was given to women at IFPA branches in Tallaght and Cork where  women were told how to obtain abortifacients, which are illegal in Ireland, by smuggling them into the State through Northern Ireland.

These agencies whilst breaking the law themselves have targeted, and done their best to shut down the pro-life agencies.  

The independent has two articles on this issue, the actual report by Gemma O’Doherty and an interview with Sam Coulter Smith, Master of the Rotunda and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Royal College of Surgeons.

The articles can be accessed on the above links and one of them is reprinted in full below

STAFF at some taxpayer-funded pregnancy counselling services are putting women's lives at risk and breaking the law, an undercover probe has revealed.

The investigation was carried out over several months by a team of women, some from the pro-life movement, who secretly recorded counsellors at 11 locations around the country.

Some of the advice they gave about abortion was illegal, according to a leading lawyer, and some was medically dangerous, a top doctor says.

In several instances, women were told to hide their abortions from their doctors, a course of action that could endanger life if post-surgery abortion complications remain undiagnosed.

A small percentage of women suffer perforation of the womb following terminations, which can remain undetected but can cause problems in later pregnancies.

The Irish Independent has viewed and listened to the investigation tapes.

Following a five-hour examination of the material, the HSE has launched an investigation.

A spokesperson said that any potential breaches of the legislation will be pursued.

Gardai at Dublin's Store Street station are also looking into the findings of the probe.

At the Dundalk office of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), a client was told she could lie to her doctor about having had an abortion, advice that could put a woman's life at risk, Professor Sam Coulter Smith, the master of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, has warned.


He said he was aware of cases where women have died because they did not tell their doctors they'd had a termination.

At two Dublin branches of the IFPA in Tallaght and Cathal Brugha Street, women were also told they could conceal their abortions from doctors.

The same advice was given by a HSE employee at Ballinasloe Crisis Pregnancy Support Service in Galway.

In response, Dr Simon Mills, a barrister and medical doctor, said: "It is definitely reckless and probably negligent advice to tell a woman to conceal from doctors something that may be a vital part of her medical history.

"This is especially the case if she presented unwell in the immediate aftermath of a termination and felt that she shouldn't tell her doctor about it when it could be the key piece of information to deliver prompt and life-saving treatment.

"If somebody turned around and said the reason I didn't tell my doctor was because a counsellor told me it wasn't necessary, civil liability would almost certainly arise and I think it is possible that criminal liability could too."

The revelations come a week after the first private abortion clinic on the island of Ireland opened its doors in Belfast.

The investigation was carried out by a group of women posing as pregnant clients. The research team, made up of 30 people, included teachers, lawyers and doctors. Some of them come from the pro-life movement.

They instigated the probe after receiving information that some pregnancy advice centres may be breaking the law.

The clinics involved are overseen and funded by the HSE's Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP).

This state body was set up to cut the number of unplanned pregnancies and the number of Irish women travelling for abortions by making the other two options of parenting and adoption more 'attractive'.

At the Tallaght and Cork branches of the IFPA, women were told how to get an abortion pill, which is illegal here, by smuggling it into the State through Northern Ireland.

The HSE has confirmed that crisis pregnancy counsellors should not provide information on how to get the abortion pill.


The pills induce an abortion by causing a miscarriage. They should only be taken under medical supervision because they can cause bleeding, severe infection or, in rare instances, death.

A leading constitutional lawyer, Paul Anthony McDermott, has said that telling somebody how to access and take an illegal drug could be seen as "aiding and abetting a crime".

Some of the results of the undercover recording show:

- At Dundalk IFPA, a woman was told: "Now when you go for medical attention they have no way of knowing that you have had an abortion. You need to say that you had a miscarriage. They will know you were pregnant but you need to say that you had a miscarriage."

- A counsellor at Tallaght IFPA told a woman how to import the abortion pill illegally. She said: "If you have an address in the North or you can buy a PO box number, and get them to send it . . . You can. . . then go and collect the tablets in the North and take them down here."

- At the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, another woman was told how to get an abortion pill. Her counsellor said: "I suppose I'm not encouraging you to break the law or get into trouble . . . but it can be done."

She also admitted that giving this sort of advice could get her arrested.

According to the HSE's CPP, information given by counselling services about abortion must be truthful, objective and must not involve the 'promotion or advocacy' of it.

Last year, more than €3.1m of public money was spent on crisis pregnancy services overseen by the HSE.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said the CPP would "agree whatever measures necessary with these agencies to ensure that the highest possible standard in crisis pregnancy counselling is provided within the existing legal framework".

In a statement, the IFPA said that "all of its counsellors set out to work in adherence with the law" and that its services operate "under protocols and procedures which take into account all legislative requirements".

An offer to review the audio and video evidence from the probe was declined by the organisation.

It was furnished with the transcripts of the investigation by the Irish Independent three weeks ago.

Eilis Mulroy, a Galway-based solicitor who was part of the research team and is a member of the pro-life movement, said: "We had heard that questionable practices were going on.

"The 1995 Abortion Information Act is very clear when it comes to the obligations of counsellors and the information they are allowed to give.

"But our investigation found that this legislation is being breached on a wide scale and that Irish women in crisis pregnancies are getting dangerous medical advice.

"This reflects a high level of contempt for their health and well-being, not to mention the law."

Last night, the Irish Medicines Board expressed "grave concern and disappointment" that healthcare professionals would give advice on how to source illegal medicines.

A spokesperson said: "This contradicts our consistent warnings against such practices. We would additionally be concerned in relation to abortifacients in that self-medication is not appropriate for such products."

The most recent statistics show that 4,149 Irish women had terminations in Britain in 2011.

The revelations come as an expert group set up by Health Minister James Reilly prepares to publish a report on whether abortion should be legalised in Ireland under limited circumstances.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Major uncertainty about the text of the Children's Rights Referendum

It has been revealed that a major error occurred in the publication of the details of the Children’s referendum. The text of the proposed 31st amendment was issued in both official languages under the heading of  the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill, as being an amendment to Article 40 of the Constitution rather than Article 42 as indicated in the rest of the text.  This error immediately raised alarm bells because Article 40 is the one that protects the Right to Life of the unborn.

European Life  Network brought the matter to the attention of a number of TD’s and Senators who investigated it further. The Bills Office, attempting to play significance of the problem down, responded that the content page contained the error and therefore is currently being reprinted. They also claimed that this page has no effect on the ratified text of the bill which was not changed or amended in any way. They also claim that this error does not effect the referendum. The Bills office spokesperson also said that the incorrect document was being withdrawn from circulation and removed from the various websites to be replaced with the corrected version.

The result of this problem is that there are now two texts designated as the “Thirty-First Amendment” to the Constitution. One called The Children’s Bill and the other the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill. What a mess!  two weeeks before a significant referendum which will make major changes to the Irish Constitution and two versions of the text are still in circulation.

A  printing error could be accepted on a non-official document.  But this is an official document carrying the sovereign seal – the seal of official Government documents.  And it was also on the official Oireachtas website.

A Constitutional Referendum is too important to accept such bungling. This referendum should be abandoned now.

The other issue which arises from this is the qusetion of what  alterations were going to be proposed to the electorate in the other version of the 31st amendment to the Irish Constitution. It has emerged that the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill that proposed amending article 40 was a private Members Bill by a Labour TD Kevin Humphries, which has best been described by Family Solidarity as 'pernicious' and 'nasty'.
The other pernicious bill Thirty-First Amendment of the constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2012)  if it ever sees the light of day, is a nasty bit of goods.
as a result of this bungling the Christian Democrat Party have issued a press release calling on the Irish people to VOTE NO unless the government to abandons the referendum forthwith.


Christian Democrats HAS DISCOVERED a major problem with the referendum due to be held on 10th November next.  We have put out a public call to have the Referendum stopped, but, if it cannot be stopped, we are advising every citizen to vote NO because: 

1.  There are two Thirty-First Amendment to the Constitution bills.  One calls for an amendment to Article 40 – the personal rights of every Citizen in the country,  and one calls for deletion of Art. 42.5 and adding a new Article 42A. 

2.  Both Bills have been in circulation in print version through Post offices on Government official headed paper, and both have been and still are available on the Government official web-site, www.oireachtas.ie. 

Which one are we really voting for? 

We don't know, and as we don't know, WE  MUST  VOTE  NO!

We now calling on everyone to go out and vote no on November 10th next.

Christian Democrats is a registered political party and an approved body for the purposes of the Referendum.  Mrs. Nora Bennis is the Authorised Officer for the purposes of the Referendum and can be contacted at 061-325532 or 061326599 or 0876486679.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Challenge to Government for presentation of one-sided material for the Children's Rights Referendum

The Irish Times reported Oct 24 that a challenge made by engineer Mark McCrystal to the alleged use of “one-sided” material in the Government’s information campaign about the children’s referendum will be heard by the High Court early next week. It is claimed €1.1 million of public money is being spent on the campaign.

Mark McCrystal, an engineer from Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, claims the Government has been using information that is not neutral but rather designed, intended and likely to promote a Yes vote in the November 10th referendum.

He has brought proceedings over the matter against the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Government of Ireland, Ireland and the Attorney General.

He was given permission last Friday to serve short notice of the proceedings on the State parties and, when the matter returned to court yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy agreed it was urgent and fixed a hearing date for next Tuesday.

The judge said that would be enough time for both sides to prepare their cases, given that polling day is November 10th.

The State, represented by David Hardiman SC, had asked for time to respond to Mr McCrystal’s claims, which include allegations concerning material being published via the internet.

An independent expert would be required to give an opinion on the material about which complaints were made, counsel said.

Ruadhán Mac Aodháin, for Mr McCrystal, said the action arises from his client’s concerns that one-sided material about the referendum has been used on a Government website. A total of €1.1 million was to be spent on the information campaign, he said.

In his action, Mr McCrystal claims the State is in breach of the 1995 judgment by the Supreme Court in the McKenna case to the effect that referendums should be explained to the public in an impartial manner. He says he has no objection to the State arguing for a Yes vote but contends it cannot use public money to do so. He is seeking various injunctions, including one restraining the State from spending public money on websites and booklets for the purpose of promoting a particular result in the referendum.

He also wants the court to stop the State representing or distributing information to the public which, he claims, is designed to promote a particular result.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Mayo Life Network have announced the holding of a Rally for Life in Castlebar Co Mayo to be held on Saturday November 3rd.

Castlebar was chosen as the venue for the rally because it is in the constituency of Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, to remind him and the Fine Gael party, of the promises made prior to the last election that they would not allow abortion to be legalised in Ireland.
It has also been arranged to express grave concern at the pronouncements of Health Minister James Reilly who falsely claimed that the European Court ruling in the A, B and C case called for abortion legislation and it needed to be implemented as expeditiously as possible.

Despite the fact that many Fine Gael TD's have spoken out against abortion others in their party together with the majority of Labour party  deputies are determined to use the report of the Government's expert group to introduce abortion in ireland

The venue will be the Mall in Castlebar and the rally will commence at 1pm

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top bioethicist gives opinion on the implications of the Children's Rights referendum

The following opinion on Ireland’s Children’s Rights Referendum was prepared by Father John I Fleming PhD, Adjunct Professor of Bioethics, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Proposed Amendment to the Irish Constitution
Article 42A
An Opinion

The Irish Constitution as it currently stands
The Irish Constitution is exemplary in its recognition of the rights of the family as first educators of the children of the family.  This is an explicit recognition of the family as the fundamental group unit of society which preceded the formation of the state.
Admirably, the Constitution provides a parens patriae role for the state in exceptional circumstances where the child is at serious risk because of parental neglect.  This role is carefully circumscribed in the Constitution such that the natural and imprescriptable (inalienable) rights of the child are safeguarded.  Those rights include the natural right of the child to be brought up by his or her own parents in the context of their family life.
Here the opinions of experts and others cannot be held to override the rights of parents to bring up their own children.  It is only when the rights of the child are, objectively, being violated that the state has a role.  Those exceptional cases occur, for example, when the child’s life and health are at risk, or the parents fail in their duty to provide an adequate education for their child.  It is manifestly not when, in the opinion of some, children are to be free to use freedom of speech, freedom of association, or freedom of religion in ways that are not in keeping with the standards of the family.

The need for change
It is difficult to see how the present Constitutional arrangements are not fit for purpose.  The rights of the family and the child are already safeguarded.  The need for such an amendment should be more clearly stated and more adequately explained and justified.

The Proposed Constitutional Amendment Article 42A
The draft proposal, while on the surface appearing to be a fuller iteration of the existing provisions, in fact represents a dramatic ideological shift in both emphasis and practice. 
1.            The shift is away from the prior rights of the family, of parents, to bring up their children as they see fit (subject only to the “exceptional cases” already referred to), to a more general application of the principle of the best interests of the child (undefined) to be supervised by the state.
In short, the state becomes the arbiter of what constitutes “best interests” and how “best interests” are to be applied.
2.            This is achieved by the requirement that the state legislates to protect the “best interests” of the child according to its own lights.
3.            The only point of supervision of the state is through the courts where an unelected group of individuals will be encouraged to move well beyond the black letter requirements of the law to impose their own personal preferences and opinions as to what constitutes “best interests” in the light, no doubt, of a plethora of “experts”.
4.            The caveat “but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptable rights of the child” is no safeguard at all.  What is “due regard” and who determines what it means?  The reality is that we will be left with state bureaucrats, politicians, and judges “balancing” the different opinions in some kind of utilitarian calculus, a calculus which has been aptly described as a “smokescreen for arbitrary preferences and desires” on the part of those who will have the power to judge and enforce.
5.            The state may be a “guardian of the common good” but it is not the only “guardian of the common good”.  The people approve a Constitution and only the people may amend it.  But if the wording is “elastic” then the one with power may usurp from the people what constitutes the “common good”.
6.            It is important to note also that the amendment provides no independent supervision of the state’s behaviour when it exercises its parens patriae role.
At the very least, this amendment provides a beachhead by the state into what has traditionally been the preserve of the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children.

Relevant Catholic Teaching
Part Three, Chapter Two, Article I of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the Catechism) sets out the fundamental understanding of the relationship between the family and the state that ought to obtain if human beings are to attain their full potential.
Particularly relevant here is what is necessary if the family and the state are to correspond more directly to the nature of man:
To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged "on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs."  This "socialization" also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.1
Having said that the Catechism then immediately gives us a warning:
Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. the teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."2
God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence. 3
The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order. 4

The Catholic Church and the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Holy See has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (20 Apr 1990).  But it is a signatory subject to certain expressed reservations:

Holy See Reservations:
"a) [The Holy See] interprets the phrase `Family planning education and services' in article 24.2, to mean only those methods of family planning which it considers morally acceptable, that is, the natural methods of family planning.
"b) [The Holy See] interprets the articles of the Convention in a way which safeguards the primary and inalienable rights of parents, in particular insofar as these rights concern education (articles 13 and 28), religion (article 14), association with others (article 15) and privacy (article 16).
"c) [The Holy See declares] that the application of the Convention be compatible in practice with the particular nature of the Vatican City State and of the sources of its objective law (art. 1, Law of 7 June 1929, n. 11) and, in consideration of its limited extent, with its legislation in the matters of citizenship, access and residence."
"The Holy See regards the present Convention as a proper and laudable instrument aimed at protecting the rights and interests of children, who are 'that precious treasure given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity' (Pope John Paul II, 26 April 1984).
"The Holy See recognizes that the Convention represents an enactment of principles previously adopted by the United Nations, and once effective as a ratified instrument, will safeguard the rights of the child before as well as after birth, as expressly affirmed in the `Declaration of the Rights of the Child' [Res. 136 (XIV)] and restated in the ninth preambular paragraph of the Convention.  The Holy See remains confident that the ninth preambular paragraph will serve as the perspective through which the rest of the Convention will be interpreted, in conformity with article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969.
"By acceding to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See intends to give renewed expression to its constant concern for the well-being of children and families.  In consideration of its singular nature and position, the Holy See, in acceding to this Convention, does not intend to prescind in any way from its specific mission which is of a religious and moral character."
The reservation b) "b) [The Holy See] interprets the articles of the Convention in a way which safeguards the primary and inalienable rights of parents, in particular insofar as these rights concern education (articles 13 and 28), religion (article 14), association with others (article 15) and privacy (article 16)” is of particular importance in the context of the Irish Constitution which is, as it stands and unamended, is in line with the position adopted by the Holy See.  The amendment would not, in my opinion, be in line with the position of the Holy See.

There is much more that could be said about the proposed amendment, Catholic teaching, the natural law and the common good.  Time, however, does not permit.  Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, this amendment, if passed, could potentially be a disaster for Irish families.  It is by no means clear as to why such an amendment is held to be necessary given the current provisions of the Constitution.  What is clear, though, is the effect of such an amendment in assisting excessive intervention by the state in the rights of parents to care for their children as they see fit and subject to the qualification of “exceptional cases” where the state may intervene for the protection of children.
The Catholic Church should not be blind-sided by the clever manipulation of language evident in the proposed amendment nor by the current problems afflicting the Church in Ireland and her reputation.  The fact of the matter is that the Church has a crucial role to play in the protection of the “common good” and that sometimes means standing up to the bullying tactics of professional politicians and other power elites who have their own agendas.  That role is exercised by teaching and persuasion to explain to people the connection between the common good and the natural law.
In my opinion the bishops of the Church in Ireland should do all they can to persuade the Irish people that such a constitutional change is not in the best interests of Irish families, does not support the common good, will provide a smorgasbord of opportunities for the secularist left to pursue its long held policy of state involvement in the private affairs of the family, and is consistent with the secularist determination to use state power to exercise control over the personal lives of citizens.

1 CCC 1882
2 CCC 1883
3 CCC1884
4 CCC 1885
5 http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en  

Father John I Fleming PhD
Adjunct Professor of Bioethics, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia
Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life
23 October 2012

27% of all human deaths in England and Wales are due to abortion

Dr Peter Saunders writing in his BLOG 'Christian Medical Comment' comments on the full listing of ‘all’ deaths in England and Wales in 2010 set out on the Guardian website in an interesting article titled ‘Mortality statistics: everycause of death in England and Wales, visualised’.
Essentially when the numbers of deaths due to abortion are added to the figures the appalling vista which becomes clear is that in excess of 27% of all deaths in England and Wales are due to abortion.

Dr Saunders writes
A full listing of ‘all’ deaths in England and Wales in 2010 is available on the Guardian website in an interesting article titled ‘Mortality statistics: every cause of death in England and Wales, visualised’.

In all there were 493,242 deaths in England and Wales from ‘all causes’.

This includes 224 babies ‘dying before, during or after birth’. However this total of 224 does not include 189,574 human deaths in 2010 from abortion in England and Wales.

Abortion has for some years now been the leading cause of human death in Britain.

If we add the pre-born babies who died as a result of abortion in 2010 the total number of human deaths in England and Wales comes to 682,816.

In other words, 189,574 out of 682,816 deaths, or 27.76% were due to abortion.

The other main causes of human death in England and Wales in 2010 (apart from abortion) were as follows:

Circulatory diseases – 158,084 deaths
Cancers and Neoplasms – 141,446
Respiratory diseases - 67,276
Digestive diseases - 25,662
Mental disorders - 19,916
Diseases of the nervous system - 18,483
Accidents and external – 17,201
Genitourinary diseases – 12,406

Abortion is against the Hippocratic Oath, against the Declaration of Geneva, against the International Code of Medical Ethics and against the Judeo-Christian ethic on which the laws of our country were originally based.

In 1947 the British Medical Association called abortion 'the greatest crime'.

But it is now so commonplace in Britain that we don’t even bother to mention it as a cause of human death despite the fact that every abortion stops a human heart beating.

The fact that abortion deaths are excluded from official death statistics is a symptom of how far we have fallen since abortion was effectively legalised in Britain 45 years ago this week on 27 October 1967.

There is no one in Britain more innocent, more vulnerable and killed in greater numbers than the pre-born baby.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Legal analysis of wording and implications of the text of the Referendum on Children

Proposed Article 42A
1. The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.

2. 1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.

3. Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

4. 1°Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings- ibrought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child,
the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

There follows a provision-by-provision analysis of this amendment. The analysis is conducted on the basis of an investigation into what the wordings of the various provisions could and would likely be interpreted to mean. Ultimately, it will be for the Supreme Court to make this determination.

1. The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.

· At first glance, this seems to be merely a rhetorical elaboration on the wording in (the current, to be deleted) Article 42.5 and affirmed by SC in case law. However, it is significant that the positioning of the Article has changed. In Article 42.5, the natural and imprescriptible rights of children are mentioned only in the context of parental failure because until such failure exists – necessitating the protection of the rights of children outside of the family unit – the rights of children are guaranteed through the protection of the “Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law” (Article 41.1). Therefore, the amendment introduces a new dimension to law in that it provides explicitly and for the first time that children’s rights are justiciable even when the family unit is intact and fully functioning.

· How might this provision be interpreted? What are the specific rights of children that could be read into this provision? The UNCRC outlines the rights of children as follows: the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, the right to freedom of association, the right to privacy, and the right to free access to information. (See Appendix 1). These rights are to be vindicated not only against the state, but also against third parties, including parents. If a child wishes to express themselves by posting pornographic pictures of themselves on the internet, or if a child wishes to become a scientologist, or if a child wishes to have access to information on how to commit suicide would these rights to freedom of expression, to freedom of association, and to free access to information, respectively, be protected as natural and imprescriptible rights, and against the countervailing judgment and wishes of the child’s parents?

· It is important to note that there are no corollary rights of parents recognised by the Constitution that could counterbalance these rights of children. Instead the rights of children would be weighed against the rights of the family (if they are weighed at all) and therefore the courts could be routinely intervening between parents and children in order to determine what parents must allow their children to do – even when the parents have not failed according to the test laid down in Article 42A.2.1. (Again, the point is that under the current Constitution, rights are given to the family, and only in the exceptional cases when parents fail does the state intervene between parents and children in order to protect the rights of children.)

4. 1°Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings-
i brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child,
the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

· Please note that this Section 4 of the Article is being dealt with out of sequence because it provides that “the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration” in the proceedings that arise under Section 2. Therefore in order to understand what Section 2 means, it is necessary first to understand the implications of Section 4.

· This clause provides that the best interests of the child (BIC) is the paramount consideration. A view has been expressed that this clause merely affirms the current position that the BIC is a statutory principle, which is outranked by the constitutional protection for the position of the family under Article 41. This argument seems to be unfounded since the constitutional provision here proposed requires that the BIC shall be the paramount consideration. If legislation is not forthcoming this constitutional imperative would be justiciable, and in any case, the legislature is compelled to legislate (“Provision shall be made by law...”) rather than invited to legislate (if for example the wording was ‘provision may be made by law...’)
· The BIC test comes from the UNCRC but Article 3 of the UNCRC does not state that the BIC should be ‘the paramount consideration’. It states, rather in Article 3.1 that “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
· The BIC test, in principle, undermines the position of parents, because, in principle, it removes the presumption that parents are better placed to advance the welfare of the child than the stranger who is an expert (professionally) employed in a field of childcare studies and, instead, espouses a presumption that the welfare of children is something that can legitimately be determined by a court on the basis of expert testimony. This hugely increases the importance that would be attached to the evidence of psychologists and social workers who are strangers to the child and have at most a temporary professional interest in the child’s welfare.
· It also means that parents would have to re-cast their arguments as arguments that could be supported by expert testimony, and, at best, this would mean that they would have to argue, from a psychological point of view, why their position is a position that the experts could acknowledge as being in the best interest of the child.

· Then, faced with these two sets of opposing testimonies by experts who are not the parents of the child, the judge, who is neither a parent nor an expert in childcare would make the final call.

· Necessarily, this decision-making process objectifies the child, since the decision-making process necessarily artificially removes him or her from his or her family and their fundamental commitments, from the traditions and customs and social networks into which he or she was born, rendering all those considerations irrelevant in comparison to the BIC which clinically establishes what is ‘best’ for an isolated minor.

· These decisions will be made in camera, so that it will not be possible for the public to see how well justice is being administered. Moreover, these decisions will not be recorded, so that the reasons why the judge reached the conclusion that he did will never be known and may never be scrutinised or criticised.

· It is impossible to make a determination about BIC without making a value decision. Reasonable people disagree about whether to raise children unilingually or multilingually, framing that discussion in terms of the best interests of the child. Reasonable people disagree about when and how to teach their children about human reproduction and frame that discussion in terms of the best interests of the child. More than that, people have fundamentally different and conflicting visions of how they want to raise their children. Some parents wish to raise their children as Catholics, some parents wish to raise their children as Muslims, some parents wish to raise their children as Jews, and so on, and these fundamental commitments will have implications on many discrete decisions that they make on behalf of their children. It may be, particularly in the cases of Catholics and Muslims and Jews and other minority groups, that these choices will be out of line with contemporary social consensus, and even perceived by experts to be not in the BIC of the child. The proposal here is that these fundamental commitments of parents who wish to raise their children in their own culture and language and tradition and religion could be overridden in principle by a single decision of a judge who is not a parent or an expert and who is unaccountable to the public for his decision.

· The UNCRC outlines some fundamental rights of the child – to freedom of expression, to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, to freedom of association, to privacy, and to free access to information. (See Appendix 1). According to the UNCRC, these rights should be guaranteed against the state, but also against individuals, including parents. Could these be used to flesh out what is meant by the BIC, given that the BIC is a foundational principle in the UNCRC?

· Finally, and anomalously, this clause explicitly excludes proceedings brought against the state from the list of proceedings that are to have the BIC as the paramount consideration. In fact, the state is one of the primary offenders in relation to the welfare of children. This clause seeks to insulate them from litigation that could otherwise be taken in order to compel them to implement Children First, or to seek remedies on behalf of children who have died, or been raped and abused and/or neglected in state care. If this is not merely a drafting oversight, it tends to indicate that the state is not primarily interested in securing the BIC, but only in doing so when it will not have to bear the responsibility for doing so. It seems to be quite a hypocritical position.

2. 1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

· This is a re-wording of (the current, and to be deleted) Article 42.5.

· This clause introduces, for the first time into Irish constitutional law, the idea that marital families and non-marital families are to be considered as if they are the same, by virtue of the short phrase: ‘regardless of their marital status’. This is a revolution, since until now, the marital family has been given great deference by the constitution and in the caselaw of the courts. It also flies in the face of all the sociological evidence which shows that the welfare of children (across all indicators: health, propensity to do well in education, propensity to be employed, propensity to not suffer mental health problems or suicidal tendencies, projected future income, etc, etc) is much more likely to be secured in a family where the parents are the married mother and father of the child. It is, as Aristotle would say, the ‘greatest form of inequality’ to treat these two very different situations as if they are the same.

· The threshold test is that “parents ... [should] fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected”. This requires the judges – in their interpretation of the clause – to guess at the potential effect that the parents’ failure will have on the safety or welfare of their children. It looks at the extent of the potential effect on the child rather than the extent of the failure of the parent. Compare for example a threshold test which would be stated as: “parents should fail in their duty to such an extent that they intentionally or recklessly endanger the life, health, safety, or security of their child or children”.

· The State shall “by proportionate means, as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents”. ‘Supply’ was chosen instead of ‘supply or supplement’ (which phrasing appeared in previous wordings), meaning that this provision does not countenance the State taking responsibility for a supportive role in the protection of the natural family. (Despite Article 41.1.2)

· The impact of Article 42A.4 on this clause is that when the state wishes to institute proceedings against parents (but not the other way around), the BIC will be the paramount consideration. There is no way to tell how these provisions could be harmoniously interpreted. It seems very strange indeed to establish a detailed test (in 42A.2.1) and then to overlay the blanket statement that ‘the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration’ (42A.4.1.i). If the BIC is the paramount consideration why is it not written into the test? How does the BIC interact with ‘the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child’ which is expressly mentioned by 42A.2.1 and would otherwise appear to be the principle to be applied?

· It is not unlikely that the BIC will become the test of failure, by reference to the ‘welfare’ element (“parents ... fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the ... welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected”). If the parents fail to achieve what is determined by the BIC, or if their behaviour makes it likely that the BIC will be ‘prejudicially affected’, then the State will supply the place of the parents. Then all the problems connected with the determination of the BIC become heightened by the fact that they can also be used to determine what constitutes parental failure.

2. 2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.

· This clause provides, for the first time in Irish constitutional law, for compulsory adoption or forced adoption i.e. where the child may be permanently removed from their parents and placed with adoptive parents.

· Here, the threshold is simply ‘failure ... in duty’ and the BIC test. There is again no requirement that the parent or parents should have intentionally or recklessly jeopardised the life, health, safety or security of their children. There is not even a test such as that in Article 42A.2.1 whereby there must be a determination that the safety and welfare of the child is “likely to be prejudicially affected”.

· This is despite the fact that in Article 42A.4.2 the consequence is the permanent removal of the child from his or her parents and natural family, and the breaking of all legal ties between the parents and their child, whereas Article 42A.2.1 does not necessarily entail the permanent removal of the child from the care of the family. Why is it that the threshold of failure is set higher in Article 42A.2.1 when the consequences are less significant and the threshold is placed lower in Article 42A.2.2 when the consequences are much more significant?

· Moreover, the required period of failure is undetermined by the Constitution and may be laid down in legislation. Hypothetically, the Oireachtas could decide to make this time period extremely short.

· In this provision, although the BIC is the ‘paramount consideration’ according to Article 42A.4.1.ii, the BIC is also included in the text of the clause itself. This, together with the extremely low threshold for failure, underlines the fact that the BIC will be the determining factor in these cases. Therefore, parents are extremely vulnerable to having their children forcibly adopted against their will and with permanent effect. Again, it is parents whose fundamental commitments endorse minority values who will be most likely to suffer unjustly on the basis of this provision.

· This provision also goes much further than the UNCRC in undermining the rights of parents. Article 9.1 of the UNCRC states that: “States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.” Furthermore, the UNCRC states that parents still have residual rights to “be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known” (Article 9.2) and children who are “separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests” (Article 9.3)

3. Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

· Here the idea is that parents can voluntarily place their child or children for adoption. At first glance, this seems to be unproblematic, although it does directly conflict with Article 41.1.1 which declares the rights of the family to be imprescriptible. On the basis of this provision, parents can alienate their imprescriptible rights and children can lose their imprescriptible rights.
· Moreover, and in line with the general trend of the amendment as a whole, this provision confirms that, from a constitutional point of view, that there is nothing legally inviolable about the natural connection between a child and his or her natural parents.

· What happens, in terms of voluntary adoption, if one part consents but another refuses consent to place a child for adoption? What happens if the parents consent, but the child does not wish to be placed for adoption? Presumably the child’s view can be heard (according to Article 42A.4.1.ii) but how will this interact with the parents’ preference to place the child for adoption?

· Again, this provision goes further than the UNCRC in respect of undermining the rights of parents. Article 21.1 of the UNCRC states that: “States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall: (a) Ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is permissible in view of the child’s status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary...”

4. 2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

· This is a very popular idea, and it appears at some level to be unproblematic but it is difficult to see how it truly respects the dignity of the child, since it potentially requires the child to testify against his or her parents and potentially against other adults who have been involved in his or her care.

· One obvious feature that is missing here is the consent of the child to giving “his or her views” in these proceedings; although the child has natural and imprescriptible rights, here a statute could compel the child to give views in respect of very personal and private family matters, and potentially against the child’s own will.
· Traditionally, the law of evidence includes spousal privilege (communications privilege and testimonial privilege) which protects the contents of communications between spouses during their marriage from being disclosed in court proceedings in order to respect the marital bond and encourage marital harmony. Why is it that, if we consider that adults would have difficulty disclosing information against another family member, that we put children in the position where they may do so?

Appendix 1.
The fundamental rights guaranteed directly to children (to be exercised against the state, but also against ‘third parties’ (i.e. the parents).
Article 13
1. “The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.”
2 “The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.”
Article 14
1 “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
2 “States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.”
3 “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
Article 15
1 “States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
2 “No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Article 16
1 “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.”
2 “The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 17
States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral wellbeing and physical and mental health.