Thursday, February 28, 2013

New abortion law in Northern Ireland reflects alarm about Marie Stopes, says SPUC

The announcement last Friday of an amendment in the Northern Ireland Assembly aimed at stopping private abortion ‘clinics’ from operating in Northern Ireland has sent shock waves through the pro-abortion forces. The amendment, to the Criminal Justice Bill, tabled jointly by Lagan Valley DUP Assembly Member Paul Givan and North Belfast SDLP Assembly Member Alban Maginness, shows a significant measure of cross party support however it has been reported that Sinn Fein will vote against it.

SPUC the UK's leading pro-life organisation has said that new legislation on abortion introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly is a response to the level of public concern aroused by the arrival in Northern Ireland of Marie Stopes International (MSI).

Liam Gibson, the development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland, believes that the opening of the MSI abortion facility in Belfast in October last year left the Assembly with no choice but to address the threat posed by abortion businesses determined to defy the existing law.

Mr Gibson said: "MSI has long campaigned to make the Abortion Act in Britain even more liberal and then have the amended Act extended to Northern Ireland.

"There are also serious safety concerns regarding MSI. The drugs used to procure medical abortions are extremely dangerous and are known to have caused the deaths of 15 women worldwide, including Manon Jones, an 18 year-old from Bristol and Jesse-Maye Barlow, a 19 year-old from Staines.

Mr Gibson continued: "When questioned before the Assembly's Justice Committee in January, representatives from MSI said that there was nothing to stop them from aborting babies at 18 weeks, 24 weeks or even older. They also admitted that the location of the centre, close to the Europa bus and train station, was chosen to facilitate clients travelling from the Republic to have abortions in Northern Ireland.

"At the same time they made it clear that MSI simply would not tolerate any official oversight of its activities by the government authorities in Northern Ireland. That is a position which the Assembly can't allow to continue and made the introduction of new legislation inevitable", concluded Mr Gibson.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, can be contacted on:
mobile: 07535 756005
landline: 028 9077 8018

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SPUC 6th International Pro-Life Youth Conference

The SPUC International Youth Conference is the only pro-life conference of its kind in the UK. This conference has proven a huge success every year and without doubt made an important contribution to renewed pro-life efforts by young people around the country. This weekend conference has been a place where the seed for new pro-life groups has been sown and new friendships forged. SPUC has ensured an exciting line-up of expert speakers in their respective fields, along with fun evening entertainment. This is an event not to be missed!

What: SPUC 6th International Pro-Life Youth Conference 2013

Where: Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU

When: Friday 22 - Sunday 24 March 2013

Time: registration from 4pm on Friday. The conference ends at 2pm on Sunday

Who: students and young people aged 16 upwards

Cost: £100 (price includes accommodation, meals, conference pack, access to all talks and evening entertainments). ***Branch sponsorship is available*** Please contact a member of staff in the London or Glasgow office for more info.

Booking: 1) Book and pay via the SPUC website. Please click on this link 2) Once we receive your payment a registration form will be emailed to you. Please fill it in and email it to: or post it back to: SPUC Youth Conference, 3 Whitacre Mews, Stannary Street, London, SE11 4AB.

Contact us: If you have a query about the conference please email:

Speakers & topics
Professor Patrick Pullicino: Liverpool Care Pathway
Dr Lisa Nolland: Sex Education
John Smeaton: Prolife Campaigns
Ira Winter: Natural Family Planning
Fiorella Nash: Maternal Mortality
Dr Helen Watt: Pregnancy
Anthony Ozimic: Political Campaigning
Katherine Hampton: SPUC pro-life School’s Talk

Full conference programme coming soon

Entertainment: Friday night film, Saturday night ceilidh with guest band Jigabit, and of course drinks in the bar (over 18s only) on Friday and Saturday evening.

Abortion on Demand and the European Convention on Human Rights

The European Journal of International Law has just published an article by Dr. Grégor Puppinck PhD Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice

The article says, inter alia :
Through its various rulings, the Court explicitly declared that abortion is not a right under the Convention: there is no right to have an abortion (Silva MonteiroMartins Ribeiro v. Portugal) or to practice it (Jean-Jacques Amy v. Belgium). The prohibition per se of abortion by a State does not violate the Convention, (Silva Monteiro Martins Ribeiro v. Portugal see also the case of the first two applicants who unsuccessfully complained of the prohibition of abortion on demand in A. B. and C. v. Ireland), but States can allow it for the sake of competing rights guaranteed by the Convention.[...]
Consequently, abortion on demand violates the Convention, although it represents the vast majority of all abortions performed. This violation by the State is even more flagrant when we do not only consider the negative obligations of States under the Convention not to take life, but also the positive obligations to protect and support life, the pregnant women and family life.
We have reprinted the article below but the original with links to all the references can be accessed on this link
The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has issued several judgments on abortion, especially in recent years since the fundamental ruling of the Grand Chamber in A. B. and C. v. Ireland of 2010. In those cases, the Court found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) in specific situations where the life or the health of the pregnant woman was endangered, or when the pregnancy was the consequence of a rape. The purpose of this article is firstly to identify the rationale of the Court on the matter of abortion, and secondly to observe how it applies to the vast majority of abortions practiced, i.e. “abortion on demand”, also called on request:  abortions that are not justified by a matter of health, life or rape, but by the free will of the woman.

Through its various rulings, the Court explicitly declared that abortion is not a right under the Convention: there is no right to have an abortion (Silva Monteiro Martins Ribeiro v. Portugal) or to practice it (Jean-Jacques Amy v. Belgium). The prohibition per se of abortion by a State does not violate the Convention, (Silva Monteiro Martins Ribeiro v. Portugal see also the case of the first two applicants who unsuccessfully complained of the prohibition of abortion on demand in A. B. and C. v. Ireland), but States can allow it for the sake of competing rights guaranteed by the Convention, i.e. the life and the health of the pregnant woman. In other words, it can be said that the Court tolerates an abortion if it is justified by a proportionate motive protected by the Convention.

It is uncontested, even by the promoters of a right to abortion, that there is no direct or indirect right to abortion on demand or for socio-economic reasons in any international or regional treaty, including the European Convention on Human Rights (Ch. Zampas and J. Gher, “Abortion as a Human Right…” p. 287). Abortion on demand is illegal in three out of four countries in the world. When the Convention was drafted, abortion on demand was widely recognised as a crime (Brüggemann and Scheuten v. Federal Republic of Germany § 64). It is true that the absence of right does not creates a prohibition and vice versa, but legal arguments supporting that abortion on demand does not hurt the Convention do not resist the analysis. When applying the reasoning and the case-law of the Court to such claims of abortions, they fail to find any justification under the Convention.

In cases where abortion is legal, the Court has established that its legal framework shall adequately take into account the different legitimate interests involved. The Court has stressed several times that if and:

“once the state, acting within its limits of appreciation, adopts statutory regulations allowing abortion in some situations”, “the legal framework devised for this purpose should be shaped in a coherent manner which allows the different legitimate interests involved to be taken into account adequately and in accordance with the obligations deriving from the Convention” (A. B. and C. v. Ireland § 249; R. R. v. Poland § 187; P. and S. v. Poland § 99; see also Tysiac v. Poland, § 116).

This wording became the principle underpinning the regulation of abortion by the Court. Therefore, States are free as to decide to allow or not abortion, but once the national legislator decides to legalise it, the Court can assess its legal framework by looking whether in the specific situation at stake a fair balance was struck between the various rights and interests involved in the issue. As the Grand Chamber said simply, “It is also clear from an examination of these cases [of the Commission and Court] that the issue has always been determined by weighing up various, and sometimes conflicting, rights or freedoms” (Vo v France § 80). In synthesis, once a State decides to allow abortion, its “margin of appreciation is not unlimited” “as to how it balances the conflicting rights”; then “the Court must supervise whether the interference constitutes a proportionate balancing of the competing interests involved” (A. B. and C. v. Ireland §§ 238; 237).

The Court has already identified a number of those “different legitimate interests involved” such as the legitimate interest of society in limiting the number of abortions (Odièvre v. France § 45), the interests of society in relation to the protection of morals (Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v. Ireland § 63; A. B. and C. v. Ireland  §§ 222-227). The Court has also identified a number of rights guaranteed by the Convention that can be curtailed by an abortion, in addition to the right to life of the unborn which status is still not clearly defined.  One may think that the only Convention right affected by an abortion is the right to life of the unborn child. This is not the case, otherwise, how could be justified the limitations of access to abortion, such as the prohibition of sexist or late-term abortions? Those rights are article 3 and 8. The Court applied to the unborn the prohibition of torture in Boso v. Italy, and the right to respect for family life to the “potential father” in X. v. the United Kingdom and to the potential grand-mother in P. and S. v. Poland. There are also other rights curtailed in specific situations, in particular the freedom of conscience of health professionals (Tysiac v. Poland § 121; R. R. v. Poland § 206) and of medical institutions (Rommelfanger v. FRG). The matter of the rights of disabled people in regard to wrongful birth (K. v. Latvia) and wrongful life cases (M. P. v. Romania) is also currently before the Court.

As shown in its case-law, for the Court, abortion should have (at least apparently) an objective motive that may outweigh the various competing rights and interests affected by the procedure and guaranteed and recognised by the Convention, namely the protection of the life and of the health of the pregnant woman.

Examining the Court’s case-law, it appears that the Court has never admitted that the free-will or the autonomy of the woman could, on its own, suffice to justify an abortion. No right to abortion stems from the right to personal autonomy; as it was reaffirmed recently in the P. and S. v. Poland, case, the Grand Chamber of the Court “has held that Article 8 [guaranteeing personal autonomy] cannot be interpreted as conferring a right to abortion” in A. B. and C. v. Ireland (§ 214). Therefore, while abortion on demand finds no justification under the Convention, it affects rights guaranteed by the Convention and interests recognized by it. The curtailment of those rights and interests by abortion on demand is not balanced with, and justified by any competing right guaranteed by the Convention. Consequently, abortion on demand violates the Convention, although it represents the vast majority of all abortions performed. This violation by the State is even more flagrant when we do not only consider the negative obligations of States under the Convention not to take life, but also the positive obligations to protect and support life, the pregnant women and family life.

Logically, regarding abortions that are not on demand, their necessity and proportionality with their cause and aim should be established in order to respect the Convention (A. B. and C. v. Ireland § 249; R. R. v. Poland § 187; P. and S. v. Poland § 99).

The only way for the Court to conclude that abortion on demand would not violate the Convention would be to declare that the unborn child is not a person, and, in addition, to renounce to offer protection to the other rights and interests affected by the abortion. For that the Court would have to push the unborn into a legal gap. If, on the one hand, the Court allows States, within their margin of appreciation, to determine in their internal order “when the right to life begins” (Vo v France § 82), on the other hand, the Court since Brüggemann and Scheuten v FRG  (§ 60) and R. H. v. Norway (p. 167) has always refused to exclude the unborn from the field of application of the Convention and to declare that he/she is not a person within the meaning of the Convention. In Vo v France, the Grand Chamber said “that it is neither desirable, nor even possible as matters stand, to answer in the abstract the question whether the unborn child is a person for the purposes of Article 2 of the Convention”, and added that “it may be regarded as common ground between States that the embryo/foetus belongs to the human race” and that he/she “require[s] protection in the name of human dignity” (§ 85). As Judge Jean-Paul Costa explained “Had Article 2 been considered to be entirely inapplicable, there would have been no point – and this applies to the present case also – in examining the question of foetal protection and the possible violation of Article 2, or in using this reasoning to find that there had been no violation of that provision” (Separate Opinion in Vo v France §11).

At first glance, people may think that abortion on demand is acceptable under the Convention because the Court has not yet condemned a State for permitting it. It is so only because of the general toleration of abortion in Europe, because the direct victims of abortion never had the chance to survive and to complain before the Court, and because the opponents to abortion have not been recognised as victim (Borre Arnold Knudsen v. Norway and X. v. Austria). Until now, only the pregnant women have been able to successfully complain, as victims, for difficulties in access to legal abortion, for malpractice or physical complications of abortion (Csoma v. Romania). Regarding the father, the Court has recognized that “as a potential father… he could claim to be a victim” of the abortion practiced on his unborn child (Boso v. Italy, see also X. v. the United Kingdom). The reason why the Court found no violation of the father’s rights is only because in those cases, abortions were declared aimed at preserving the mothers’ health, and therefore justified and proportionate in the eyes of the Court. Judge Jean-Paul Costa noticed a contrario: “It would have had to reach the opposite conclusion had the legislation been different and not struck a fair balance between the protection of the foetus and the mother’s interests. Potentially, therefore, the Court reviews compliance with Article 2 in all cases in which the “life” of the foetus is destroyed” (Separate opinion in Vo v France § 13). The Court also recognized under article 8 that “the interests and life prospects of the mother of a pregnant minor girl are also involved in the decision whether to carry the pregnancy to term or not” (P. and S. v. Poland § 109), therefore, a potential grand-parent can also have locus standi.

Possibly, one day a father or grand-parent of an unborn child will complain before the Court and succeed to save the life of their child. All that such a father or grandparent has to do is to fax a letter to the Court under article 39 of the Rules of the Court, requesting it to take urgent and interim measures in order to avoid the realization of a serious and imminent risk of breach of a fundamental right. All they have to do is to request that the rights to life (art. 2) and to physical integrity and dignity (art. 3) of their unborn child or grand-child be preserved, and that their right to family life (art. 8) be protected. The relatives of the unborn child could successfully obtain from the Court an order to suspend the procedure of abortion, if they demonstrate that this abortion is not justified by a proportionate motives guaranteed by the Convention; they may also inform the Court that they are ready to rear the child. This procedure has never been used yet to stop an abortion, but it could be an effective way to save lives. It would be in continuity with the original meaning of the Convention and with the Court’s own case-law.

So far, the Court has stayed on the edge, refusing to throw the unborn child out of the scope of the Convention, and refusing to let him “naked”, without any legal protection. So far, the Court has gone as far as it could to tolerate abortion without nullifying the human beings before their birth. Currently, abortion advocates are repeatedly demanding the Court to jump this gap and to throw the unborn out, in the name of human rights.

It is still time for the Court to hold its mission to protect every human being, especially the weakest. It is true that people, at least in Western countries, do not really care for the life of the child before birth; maybe simply because we are out of danger: we do not face anymore the risk of being aborted. We care much more for the human rights that we may be deprived of. However, abortion on demand is nothing else than the domination of the born over the not-yet-born. One can say that it has its own legitimacy, but this legitimacy is only one of violence, even if we call this violence freedom; it should not be covered up with the legitimacy of human rights.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Listen to top bioethicist John Fleming address issue of pre-viability inductions

The following very timely video consists of the content of a talk by Dr (Fr) John I Fleming who is a top bioethicist and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Fr Fleming explains Catholic teaching on abortion carefully.

You can listen to Fr Fleming's presentation on the issue recorded in Dublin, the video consists of an audio recording accompanied by slides.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cardinal Arinze: Being ‘Personally’ Against Abortion Is Like Saying ‘Personally’ Against Shooting Members of Congress

Catholic News Service ( reported on Feb 18 that Cardinal Arinze had equated people who say they are ‘personally’ against abortion as being like saying ‘personally’ they are against shooting members of Congress.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is among some of the favored candidates to be the next Pope, remarked that Catholic politicians who say they are “personally” opposed to abortion but believe it is okay to be “pro-choice” is akin to saying one is “personally” against shooting members of Congress but others can do so because “it’s just pro-choice for that.”

During a question-and-answer session at a conference held at Familyland USA in Bloomington, Ohio in 2007, Cardinal Arinze was asked about Catholic U.S. politicians who vote for abortion and then present themselves for Holy Communion and what could the Church do about the issue.

Arinze said,  “The question of voting [for] abortion is not Catholic law, but Divine law. So, those who kill unborn babies are breaking not the law of the Church but the law of God. … They have gone against Divine law: Thou shall not kill.”

He continued, “To the person who says, ‘Personally I am against abortion but then, if people want to do it, and let them free,’ you could say, ‘You are a member of the Senate or the Congress -- personally I am not in favor of shooting the whole lot of you, but if somebody else wants to shoot all of you in the Senate or all of you in Congress, it’s just pro-choice for that. But personally, personally I’m not in favor.’ That is what he is saying.”

“He is saying that, ‘Personally,’ he’s not in favor killing these millions of children in the womb, but if others want to do it, its pro-choice. That’s what he is saying,” said the cardinal.

As for those pro-abortion Catholic politicians who present themselves for Holy Communion at Mass, Cardinal Arinze said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

He continued, “Get the children for first communion and say to them, somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time -- and these babies are killed, not one or two, but in millions, and that person says I am a practicing Catholic -- should that person receive communion next Sunday?”

“The children for First Communion will answer that at the drop of a hat.  You don’t need a cardinal to answer that,” he said.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is from Nigeria, is the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He is also the Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni (near Rome, Italy), a position that was previously held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict announced his resignation from the papacy on Feb. 11, a position he will leave at month’s end.  On March 1,  117 cardinal-electors will meet in the Sistine Chapel to vote for the next pope. Cardinal Arinze, because he is 80, cannot vote in the conclave but he is eligible for the papacy.  According to news reports, he is among the favored candidates.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Abortion is NEVER a treatment for suicide ideation

The Life Institute has published an excellent video on the subject of the threat of suicide, which puts together all of the evidence presented on the issue, to the recent Irish Government Oireachtas (Parliamentary) hearings.

All the experts agreed during the hearings that abortion is not a treatment any of them would consider appropriate for suicide ideation 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

‘FG rebels ‘in talks’ with Ganley as abortion law row escalates’

There is growing speculation about the formation of a new political party by DECLAN GANLEY who is reported as saying that the threat to our pro-life laws may bring him BACK to politics. 
The government he says has no right to authorise the taking of innocent human life by abortion. 

This story was also the basis of a speculative article in the Independent under he title ‘FG rebels ‘in talks’ with Ganley as abortion law row escalates’
The article reads,
AMID growing discontent within the ranks of Fine Gael over the abortion issue, speculation is mounting that dissident members have been in talks with former Libertas leader Declan Ganley about forming a new party.

Earlier this week Fine Gael’s former leader John Bruton broke ranks with Fine Gael by personally stating that the Government’s proposed abortion legislation is contrary to the Constitution.

Fine Gael Junior Minister Lucinda Creighton also expressed opposition to her party’s plans to legislate for the X case and was preparing an alternative legislation which would exclude suicide as reason for abortion.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ganley said the abortion debate had the potential to be the issue that drives him back into politics.

“When you see huge promises being broken on ‘not one more cent to bondholders’ or on abortion, it puts it up there in the light that this needs to be addressed,” he said.

“There isn't two weeks that go by that there isn't some type of contact with somebody.

“There would be little point in doing it if you didn't have heavy calibre individuals involved.

“I'm not interested in ever going out there and making a symbolic stand. You need top drawer people and that takes time.” Speaking at a pro-life meeting organised by the Life Institute in the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin, Mr Ganley told activists that he was considering a return to politics.

The businessman, who is staunchly pro-life, began his speech in front of around 50 Life Institute members by thanking Mr Bruton and Ms Creighton for opposing their party's stance on abortion legislation.

He said: “I would like to acknowledge the courage of John Bruton and Lucinda Creighton for taking on and tackling this issue within Fine Gael and rowing against what was becoming a little bit of a tide. I want to mark my admiration for the stand they both took.” The entrepreneur told those gathered that people cannot allow the State to begin “franchising lethal power” by putting individual life beyond the protection of due process and into the hands of private individuals and abortion clinics.

Life Institute director Niamh Ui Bhriain said her organisation had collected 30,000 pledges from members of the public who said they would never vote for Fine Gael again if the party voted through legislation for the X case.

A Fine Gael source said the party had been hearing rumours about potential parties being set up by Mr Ganley and former PD Michael McDowell for two years.

He said: “Both seem to want to get back into politics, but Ganley has never been elected and McDowell only won three out of six he contested.

Politics is harder than it looks.” Mr Ganley refused to comment on whether he was in discussion with members of any political party.

Fine Gael also said it had no comment to make.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Death of Dr Evelyn Billings

Dr Evelyn Billings, world-renowned pioneer of the ‘Billings Method’ of natural fertility regulation, died on Saturday February 16th after a short illness.
The following is an extract from a press release issued by WOOMB International the organisation founded by Doctors Evelyn and John Billings;
 Dr Lyn, as she was known, together with her husband, Dr John Billings, founded the Method of natural fertility regulation, which bears their name. Her studies on breastfeeding mothers and women approaching menopause made a major contribution to the work. For half a century they traveled the world teaching and promoting their Method in faithfulness to Pope Paul VI’s call to “men (and women) of science (and) physicians (to) be obedient to the Lord’s call and to act as faithful interpreters of His plan.”
She was the author of the best selling non-fiction book The Billings Method, first published in 1980. This book was reprinted 16 times with 7 new or revised editions. The latest completely revised edition was published in 2011. Access to this book, published in 22 languages, made the Billings Method a household name and gave hope to millions of couples throughout the world.

Personal friend of three Popes, in 2003 Lyn was made a Dame Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II and she was an active member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. She was recognized with Honorary Doctorates from universities around the world including an Honoris Causa Degree from Tor Vergata University in Rome in 2005. In 2002 Drs John and Evelyn Billings were jointly declared International Catholic Physicians of the Year by the International Catholic Federation of Medical Associations.

Couples in more than 100 countries bear testament to the wonderful work of this selfless woman and her husband. In China alone, where they trained thousands to teach their Method, a substantial drop in the abortion rate has been attributed to their work.
She is survived by 8 of her 9 children, 39 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren. We thank God for her life and work and for the privilege and joy of having known her, and we rejoice that she is now reunited with John to enjoy together their eternal reward.

Monday, February 18, 2013

UN Resolution Recognizes the Family as the Natural and Fundamental Unit group in Society

The United Nations Commission for Social Development (CSD), which held its fifty-first session in New York last week, approved a number of draft resolutions.

A resolution as a lead in to the year of the family to be held in 2014 titled, ‘Preparations for and observance of the Twentieth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family’ (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.3) urged Member State to view 2014 as a target year by which concrete efforts would be taken to improve family well-being through the implementation of effective regional policies, strategies and programmes. 

This resolution contained some good family friendly language inserted by both Indonesia and the Holy See and which was supported by Qatar. 

Paragraph PP5 (bis) reads as follows,
Recognizing that the family, as the natural and fundamental group unit of society, has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children and that children, for the full and harmonious development of their personality, should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,”
·   NOTE: this numbering will most likely change when the final version of the resolution is issued

This wording however was not to the liking of some delegations which made it clear that despite the clear intention of the paragraph to support the natural family they would interpret it to suit their own agenda

During the debate which lead to approval of the resolution Ireland on behalf of the EU told the meeting that policies to help families must be “inclusive and reflect changes in the nature of the family unit”.  Emphasizing the importance the EU place on recognizing diversity in family forms, he said the European Union recognized all the draft’s references to “the family” as reflecting that diversity.
The representative of the United States welcomed several of the text’s elements, but said he would have preferred it to have made mention of the different types of family structures, and to have been specific about the challenges faced by single-parent families.

The Commission also approved a resolution on “Policies and programmes involving youth”, by which the Economic and Social Council is urging Governments, in consultation with young people, to develop holistic and integrated policies based on the Programme of Action for Youth.  This resolution underlines the importance of consulting with young people in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, and encourages States to consider including youth representatives in all relevant discussions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

The Holy See delegate Lukas Swanepoel expressed reservations about the text because it called for full implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth.  Although it contained several positive elements, references to “sexual and reproductive health and family planning” were unacceptable.  Concerning the education of youth, Swanepoel reasserted that parents’ rights should be fully respected, as enshrined in international instruments.

Friday, February 15, 2013

No equal right to life if law embraces suicide risk: John Bruton

Former Taoiseach John Bruton writing in the Irish Times15/02/2013 about Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution argues that if the law embraces suicide risk it would actually deny the constitutional equality provided for, between the lives of mother and child, within the Constitution
Mr Bruton writes:
The Constitution, in article 40.3.3, gives a right to life to an unborn child. It says: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The underlying idea behind putting human rights in the Constitution is to ensure that they cannot be easily reduced just because a (possibly temporary) majority in public or parliamentary opinion wants to do that to meet a popular demand.

This constitutional right to life of a yet unborn child was inserted into the Constitution by the people in a referendum in 1983. In the X case in 1992,the Supreme Court decided, to the surprise of many, that this article could be construed as allowing for the life of an unborn to be ended if the mother was believed to be suicidal.

Following a recent European Court of Human Rights case, the Government is now contemplating introducing a law that would say the life of an unborn child may be ended when there is a threat of suicide by the mother-to-be.

It also proposes to clarify that where there are medical threats to the life of the mother, and an appropriate medical treatment may involve the ending of the life of the unborn child, this may be permitted.

Would a law including a provision allowing a suicide threat to be a basis for ending the life of an unborn child be consistent with the plain words of the Constitution, which require the State to “defend and vindicate” the unborn child’s “equal” right to be allowed to live? I believe the answer to the question is no.

The Irish Constitution belongs to the people. It uses language, ie words, to convey certain understandings of what the Irish people guarantee one another. Because the words in the Constitution may be changed only by the people, it follows that the words in the Constitution should be interpreted as the same words would be understood in daily usage.

They should not be reinterpreted in some arcane way that can be understood only by a priesthood of constitutional lawyers. If that were to be the standard of interpretation, how could the people be expected to make informed and intelligent decisions in constitutional referendums?

Look at the actual words in the Constitution: article 40.3.3 acknowledges an equal (my emphasis) right to life of a mother and of her unborn child. The sentence would have made have sense even if the word “equal” was not there. It would also have made sense if the sentence had said that “due regard” was to be had to a “superior right to life” of the mother. But that is not the wording of the Constitution.

The word “equal” is there, referring to the right to life of both mother and unborn child, and it was put there with the explicit approval of the people. It would be hypocritical to pretend that the Constitution is not framed as it is, and hypocrisy is not a solid basis for constitutional interpretation.

How ought the words “equal right to life” be interpreted? Many words we use in daily language have ambiguous or various meanings, but the word “equal” has only one meaning. Equal means equal, whether the word “equal” is used by lawyers or by mathematicians.

And, in any normal language, a risk is not equal to a certainty. A risk that someone might unilaterally end their life is not equal to a certainty of the ending of another person’s life by the actions of that person or of another. That, in simple terms, is the difficulty with legislation that says that a threat or an idea of suicide is a ground for ending the life of a constitutionally recognised third party, an unborn child.

A law that took away a right to life of that unborn child before the right in question could be exercised independently could hardly be interpreted as “defending and vindicating” the same right, as the Constitution requires.

Judge Hederman put it this way, in his minority judgment, in the Supreme Court on the X case. “The eighth amendment establishes beyond any dispute that the constitutional guarantee of the vindication and protection of life is not qualified by the condition that the life must be one which has achieved an independent existence after birth.

“The right of life is guaranteed to every life, born or unborn. One cannot make distinctions between individual phases of the unborn life before birth, or between unborn and born.”

The other judges in their X case judgments offered two reasons for not treating the right to life of the unborn child as equal, in practice, to that of its mother, notwithstanding the words of the Constitution.

One was that the mother’s life is to be preferred because she has wider responsibilities. Then chief justice Finlay said that the court must concern itself “with the position of the mother within a family group, with persons on whom she is dependent”.

Given that in every case a mother of an unborn child will already be a member of a family group, that interpretation could allow abortion in almost any case. In any event, how is it to be argued that the as yet unborn child is not also a member of a family group, consisting not only of its mother, but also of its father?

The other argument used in the Supreme Court was that the life of the mother was a life in being, whereas the life of the unborn child was “contingent”. The late judge McCarthy said: “The right of the girl here is a right to a life in being; the right of the unborn is to a life contingent; contingent on survival in the womb until successful delivery.”

Essentially he was arguing that once a right is contingent on the behaviour of another person, it does not enjoy the protection of the Constitution. That is a really radical doctrine, which, carried to its conclusion, would undermine almost all human rights law. All lives are “contingent” on the behaviour of others. The life of a baby after birth is certainly “contingent” on the care given to it by its mother and by others.

For these reasons, I would argue that the Oireachtas should interpret the words in the Constitution in their normal meaning, particularly the simple word “equal”.

In considering legislation, the members of the Oireachtas should read for themselves the words in the Constitution, and the X case judgment, and decide for themselves what they can or must do in respecting the Constitution.

The Supreme Court does not instruct the legislature on how to legislate, and participants in each branch of the State should interpret the words of the Constitution as they are actually written, rather than as some of them might retrospectively prefer them to have been written.Members of the Oireachtas, in particular, should read the words of the Constitution, in the same way their constituents, who are the authors of the Constitution, would read them.

That should leave them fully free to frame legislation to deal with the C case as decided by the European Court of Human Rights, and with the Savita Halappanavar case, that would be consistent with article 40 of the Constitution. Neither case involved a threat of suicide. They involved medical judgment of objective medical risks.

On the other hand, to introduce a law providing that an expression of a threat of suicide by one person would be sufficient ground for the taking away of the life of another, would not be in accord with the actual words in the Constitution. There would be no “equal” right to life in such a law, and an equal right to life is what the Constitution requires.

If the Oireachtas does not like the way article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is framed it could of course ask the people if they wished to amend it. Personally I would not favour such a change.

But, in the meantime, the Oireachtas should interpret plain language plainly, and forbear from legal sophistry. To do otherwise would be to leave the constitutional protection of the most profound of all human rights, the right to be allowed to live and breathe, resting on sand. It would institute a rule of convenience, at the expense of a rule of rights.

JOHN BRUTON  is a former taoiseach

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pope Benedict's penultimate general audience

Pope Benedict XVI during his general audience on Ash Wednesday asked for prayers for himself and the future Pope that the Lord will guide both of them.
Despite the fact that only 3500 tickets had been distributed for the Wednesday general audience, thousands more flocked to the Paul VI hall hoping to gain access to the audience.
Once again as part of his address Pope Benedict returned to the themes of the protection of the lives of the unborn and the preservation of Christian marriage and the family. The Pope also mentioned the importance of family in his address to IFAD the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The following are extracts from Pope Benedict’s address but the complete address may be found on this link.
Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. "Conversion", an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing" our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.

The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.
Pope Benedict to IFAD
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 
IFAD knows from experience that the family is at the heart of the social order, and what serves to regulate family life, prior to the laws of a State or international norms, are the moral principles inscribed in the natural patrimony of values which are immediately identifiable in the rural world as well. These principles inspire the conduct of individuals, the relationship between spouses and between generations, and the sense of shared ownership. To ignore this reality, or to fail to recognize it, would be to undermine the foundations not only of the family, but of the entire rural community, with consequences whose gravity is easily foreseeable.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Following a very successful meeting in Knock Ireland United for Life has issued a press release setting out the importance of the retention of Sections 58and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.

The crime of ‘Abortion’ is contained in the Offences Against The Person Act 1861

At a February 9th 2013 meeting in Knock, 'Ireland United For Life' groups united in their opposition to the decriminalising of abortion, and to the writing of any legislation that would supersede or result in the abandoning of sections 58 and 59 of the1861Offences against thePersonAct. All groups agreed to sign a Pro Life Declaration of Ireland affirming their unity on this vital matter.
Bishop Seamus Hegarty, spiritual director of 'Ireland United For Life', began the meeting with an opening prayer in which he consecrated Ireland and all pro-life groups to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He welcomed those in attendance, noting that all pro-life groups had been invited and that it was of the greatest importance to highlight the protection afforded to the unborn child and its mother by the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and that this protection extended throughout the island of Ireland, both North and South.

Pope Benedict XVI’s recent statement "noted with dismay that, in various countries, even those of the Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalises abortion". The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland have stated that: "The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons.”

Cardinal Burke’s recent statement warned “that abandoning our Pro Life position and decriminalising abortion will develop a culture against life. Therefore, to decriminalise abortion is a contradiction of the most fundamental principles of the legal system, the principle that human life is to be safeguarded and defended at all times. Once abortion is decriminalised it becomes an ever expanding reality in society and it generates a whole culture of death.”

Monday 11th February, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, is when Our Lady first stated "I am the Immaculate Conception".

At Saturday’s meeting a statement on the effect of losing the 1861 Offences against the Person Act, s. 58 and s. 59, was presented from Johanna Higgins LLB, of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, Inner Temple, London and Kings Inns Dublin, Barrister who said that “If the 1861 Act were to be repealed in the Republic of Ireland it would be a disastrous matter for the Unborn Child and for the country [Ireland] North and South. The 1861 Act has prevented the mutilation of Irish babies for over 150 years. This protection has resisted the greatest attacks of the pro-abortion movement through the worst years of a culture of murder, which has claimed the lives or untold millions of children worldwide. There is no exception to the Illegal abortion offence contained in the Act, notwithstanding what some may wish. It is a serious crime to take the life of an Unborn Child in Ireland, whatever the circumstances, and if we want to protect the Unborn Children of the future, we must protect the 1861 Act which protects the Unborn.”

Mrs. M. Morgan-Dupré
Secretary: Ireland United For Life

The Effect of Losing the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act sections 58 & 59

A meeting of pro-life groups under the banner of Ireland United for Life took place in Knock on Saturday 9th February. A statement from Johanna Higgins LLB, of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, Inner Temple, London and Kings Inns Dublin, Barrister, was read out during the meeting. This statement highlighted what the effect would be of losing the 1861 Act’s 58/59, which is law throughout the whole of Ireland.  
“If the 1861 Act were to be repealed in the Republic of Ireland it would be a disastrous matter for the Unborn Child and for the country [Ireland] North and South. The 1861 Act has prevented the mutilation of Irish babies for over 150 years. This protection has resisted the greatest attacks of the pro abortion movement through the worst years of a culture of murder, which has claimed the lives or untold millions of children worldwide.  There is no exception to the Illegal abortion offence contained in the Act, notwithstanding what some may wish. It is a serious crime to take the life of an Unborn Child in Ireland, whatever the circumstances, and if we want to protect the Unborn Children of the future, we must protect the 1861 Act which protects the Unborn. 
The X Case decision on the Constitutional provision directly clashes with the 1861 Act. This is why the abortionists call for "legislation for the x case", because the legislation, that is the 1861 Act, DOES NOT ALLOW FOR THE X CASE.   
If a doctor induced an Unborn Child in the Republic, causing its abortion, or killed that child in the womb and delivered it dead, it would be a jury in a criminal trial who would decide whether or not he had a defence. The X case has not legalised abortion, because the 1861 Act is still in place.
The X case is a perverse decision which resulted in the Constitutional provision, which was meant to protect the statutory prohibition against abortion (1861 Act), actually being used to undermine the statutory prohibition.
The repeal of the 1861 Act would be a resounding success for the global abortion movement. Any substitute legislation would be less than the protection which the 1861 Act has afforded our Unborn Children thus far. Any legislation which had ANY exception in its text would be an open door for liberalised abortion in Ireland. Drafting legislation is a very delicate matter. History shows us that even clauses which intend to tighten up the law have lead to the opposite happening due to liberal interpretations, as in the case of the Pro Life Constitutional Provision and the X case. 
For the North of Ireland the repeal of the 1861 Act, in the Republic, would bring great pressure to bear. The abortion providers in Britain will surely waste no time in repealing the 1861 Act, which is still in place in Britain. The 1967 Act was only introduced as medical grounds for abortion. It was later expanded to mean abortion to full term. The leading abortionists have only dreamed of the chance to repeal the 1861 Act, which would make abortion on demand a legal reality. What then for the Irish Unborn Babies in the North of Ireland?
The Irish Medical Council guidelines DO NOT accurately reflect the law. The Irish Media DO NOT accurately reflect the law, and, unfortunately, due to propaganda, many well meaning people DO NOT accurately state the law.  Abortion is a serious criminal offence, a defendant in a criminal trial before a jury may have a defence. That is not an exception to a law, just as defence to murder or rape is never described as an exception.   
Abortion must be described in a criminal context. The abortionists have expended a lot of money medicalising the terminology of abortion. The pro life movement must regain the notion that abortion is a serious criminal offence and treat the criminal law protecting the Unborn Child as seriously as we treat the criminal laws which protect us."
(Johanna Higgins LLB, of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, Inner Temple, London and  Kings Inns Dublin, Barrister. Appointed as a Senior Public Prosecutor NI in 2003. Mrs Higgins has advised the All Party Pro Life Group, Stormont, on the Criminal Law of Abortion. She has published "A Statement on the Criminal Law of Abortion and Child Destruction in Northern Ireland", which was launched in Stormont in 2011.)

Monday, February 11, 2013



POPE BENEDICT XVI said this morning that
he plans to resign the papal office on February 28th.

Full text of Pope's declaration
Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds , but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ , and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer .
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

From the Vatican, 10 XVI

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Woman dies following late term abortion

At a time when the Irish Government is contemplating the introduction of abortion, following intense international from the abortion lobby, Christian Newswire in the United States report the death of a 29-year old woman on Thursday Feb 7th as a result of fatal complications suffered during a late term abortion carried out at 33 weeks. Needless to say this abortion related death will not be reported by the Irish media, such deaths are rarely covered by mainstream media. A report on the case can be accessed on the following Operation Rescue link.
The woman, who underwent a third trimester abortion, arrived at a Maryland clinic operated by LeRoy Carhart on Sunday and was seen by pro-life activists every day through Wednesday. Witnesses said she appeared "pale and weak."

Early Thursday morning, the woman began suffering chest pain and other discomforts. Her attempts to reach the abortionist were unsuccessful. The woman was taken by her family from her hotel to a nearby hospital emergency room at approximately 5:00 a.m. Efforts by hospital staff to contact the abortionist or get informational assistance from the abortion clinic were unsuccessful.

The patient suffered massive internal bleeding into her abdominal cavity. She slipped into a Code Blue condition approximately six times before finally succumbing to her injuries at around 9:30 a.m. The case has been placed with the Medical Examiner for further investigation.

This tragic incident ironically occurred the same day that another medical emergency took place at a New Mexico abortion clinic involving long-time Carhart associate Shelley Sella. At the time of that incident, a politically motivated Medical Board in New Mexico was voting to clear Sella of negligence charges, related to a botched third trimester abortion using the same risky late-term abortion method employed by Carhart. This dangerous out-patient abortion process includes long periods of time where the patient is unmonitored while taking strong doses of a drug that causes unpredictable and sometimes violent contractions.

"The avoidable death of this young woman dramatically illustrates the dangers of third trimester abortions that are done outside of the safety of obstetrical standards," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-life Nation. "In 2005, Carhart was also involved in the death of Christin Gilbert, who died after a third trimester abortion in Wichita, Kansas. It is time for medical boards to put an end to these horrifically dangerous and barbaric third trimester abortions. If they do not, we can only expect Carhart and his associates to send more women to the morgue."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Those Catholic women who use contraception

The National Catholic Register on Feb.6th, published an excellent article on Catholic women and contraception written by Jennifer Fulwiler in her BLOG in which she says;
"In short, I see a generation of Catholic women who are poised to reject the lies of secular culture and embrace the fullness of their Church's teaching, but who will need a lot of help to get there. First, they need to hear more about this topic in their churches, whether it's through homilies or classes or other outreach ministries. They need access to thorough explanations of the why's behind the Church's stance on this issue, phrased in a way that resonates with someone coming from a totally different perspective. They need to hear the truth that throwing away their contraception is actually the key to true reproductive freedom. They need practical advice -- not only in terms of how to practice natural methods of family planning, but suggestions for what to do if their husbands are closed to the concept. They need to encounter other folks who are making or have made this journey, preferably at the local level, who can provide them with prayer support, and with the occasional shoulder to cry on."
The full article can be accessed on this link and is reprinted below;
When I was giving a talk early last year, two women in the front row caught my eye. They were about my age, nicely dressed, and seemed to be friends with one another. They attracted my attention because they radiated a certain anxiousness: They nodded politely through tense smiles, but I half suspected that there was another speaker after me whom they were waiting to see.
After the talk I chatted with some folks, then packed up my things to leave. When I reached the exit, the two women were standing there waiting for me. Let's call them "Amanda" and "Laura."
They introduced themselves and said a few kind words about my speech, which was about atheism. Then Amanda said bluntly, "We didn't really come to hear your talk. I don't even know any atheists."
Laura finished for her: "We came to talk to you about contraception."
We settled into some empty chairs at the back of the room, and they explained that they are both cradle Catholics who have gone to Mass pretty much every Sunday for their whole lives. They love their faith and are proud to be Catholic. They volunteer at the parish, fast during Lent, pray the Rosary when they can. And they both use artificial contraception.
They explained that they had not fully understood that the Church was serious about this teaching until the blowup surrounding the HHS Mandate; before then, they explained, it was easy to assure themselves that contracepting must be fine since so many other people in the pews were doing it. For example, after Amanda's second child was born, her Catholic mother warned her sternly that it would be irresponsible not to get on the Pill. Laura once had a confessor assure her that contraception was a matter of personal preference, not an objective moral issue. Neither Amanda nor Laura had heard anything about the topic in their many years of Catholic school and religious formation classes. And so for all of their married lives they'd used various forms of contraception, never questioning how it might jibe with the doctrines of their faith.
Now that the issue has been brought to the national stage, however, they understood with clarity that the Church opposes artificial contraception. There was no more room for willful ignorance, no way to avoid the topic. They now saw that, according to their own belief system, their reproductive choices were sinful. They were confused, stressed, and maybe even a little bit angry. They didn't see how this could possibly be true, or, if it were, how anyone could say it was fair. Yet they weren't willing to give up on their faith. As crazy as all of this sounded, as much as it went against everything they'd ever been taught about "responsible parenthood" and "women's freedom," they did not take the easy path and just walk away from the Church. Deep in their hearts, they knew that they had encountered something real in the sacraments, that there was something special about their Catholic faith. They wanted to live according to Church teaching; they just didn't see how it would be possible.
Amanda and Laura were the first to talk to me about this issue, but they weren't the last. In fact, I have had dozens of women come up to chat with me about this (often after I have given talks about entirely unrelated topics) and many others have contacted me by email. More and more Catholic women are awakening to what the Church actually says about this issue, even though they are currently using contraception. I've now had long conversations with a lot of ladies in this situation, and, contrary to the impression given in many of the "98%" reports, I do not see women who display a blatant disregard for what their Church teaches.
Instead, I see women who love their Catholic faith, and who genuinely desire to live in accordance with its tenets.
I see women who have been bombarded by secular wisdom on human sexuality, yet who have never heard a detailed explanation of their own Church's beliefs in this area.
I see women who have never been exposed to the idea that this teaching is an articulation of an objective moral truth, who have instead been led to believe that the Catholic stance against contraception is rooted in nothing deeper than the personal whims of men in the Vatican.
I see women who are utterly maxed out by the challenges of modern motherhood, and are terrified that making any changes to their current family planning choices could send them over a mental or financial cliff.
I see women who endure hostility and ridicule for their efforts to explore this issue further, who are surrounded by people who consider contraception to be a modern necessity akin to electricity or running water.
I see women who have asked around at their parish for resources to help them gain a better understanding of these ideas, and who have been turned away by folks who are as confused as they are.
I see women who are beginning to see that artificial methods of birth control come with their own problems, and whose gut instincts tell them that there just might be some truth to this idea that contraception has not been a good thing for us.
In short, I see a generation of Catholic women who are poised to reject the lies of secular culture and embrace the fullness of their Church's teaching, but who will need a lot of help to get there. First, they need to hear more about this topic in their churches, whether it's through homilies or classes or other outreach ministries. They need access to thorough explanations of the why's behind the Church's stance on this issue, phrased in a way that resonates with someone coming from a totally different perspective. They need to hear the truth that throwing away their contraception is actually the key to true reproductive freedom. They need practical advice -- not only in terms of how to practice natural methods of family planning, but suggestions for what to do if their husbands are closed to the concept. They need to encounter other folks who are making or have made this journey, preferably at the local level, who can provide them with prayer support, and with the occasional shoulder to cry on.
Most of all, I think it is of the utmost importance that natural family planning outreach efforts not discount the profound changes that come with switching to this method of child spacing. As effective as NFP can be, it is not as simple as popping a pill or getting an injection. Contraception is branded as a quick-fix solution that allows couples to live lives of freedom, and therefore reinforces the cultural message that being able to have sex whenever you want on whatever terms you want is a critical component of a fulfilling life. NFP, on the other hand, is a sacrifice-based system that requires that couples to re-think entirely their attitudes toward the purpose of human sexuality. The women I've talked to are right to suspect that their marriages, their lifestyles, and possibly their carefully-set family size would change if they were to embrace Catholic teaching on family planning; especially in the cases of people who have no support system, it's understandable that they'd be scared. (Which is why I've long believed that natural family planning should be pitched more as an alternative lifestyle than as just another method of birth control.)
Unfortunately, I did not get the contact information for Amanda and Laura that day that we talked in the empty auditorium, and I haven't heard from them since then. Both of them seemed frustrated, scared, and deeply torn -- yet beneath all that I sensed a thirst for truth and a love of their faith that was powerful enough to conquer their fears. I often think of them, and wish I could run into them one more time. I wish I could take each of them by the hand, look them in the eyes, and say: "You are right to be freaked out, because when you embrace this Catholic teaching, it's going to turn your life upside down. You will lose a certain amount of control -- not because it will be taken from you, but because you'll find that you didn't want it as much as you thought you did. Your relationship with your husband will change. Your relationship with your kids (both existing and future) will change. Your relationship with your own body will change. Your relationship with God will probably undergo the biggest change of all. I can't promise you that it will be easy, but I can promise that you'll never regret it, and that when you look back on your life, you'll see it as one of the best decisions you ever made."