Thursday, March 27, 2014

Aborted babies bodies burned to heat hospitals

One of the most startling stories of the week appeared in the Telegraph which reported that the bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals.
According to the report ten NHS trusts have admitted burning the bodies of the aborted and miscarried babies, which are described simply as ‘foetal remains’, alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.

The UK Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which was described by health minister Poulter as being ‘totally unacceptable.’

According to the article which was published in advance of a Channel 4 dispatches programme on the issue, at least 15,500 'foetal remains' were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

The programme a Channel 4 Dispatches programme aired on Monday also found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
Paul Tully, General Secretary of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) issued the following statement on the revelations in the programme.
    “We welcome the efforts of those who have highlighted these appalling practices, but we insist that the answer is not as simple as having a new code of practice or better ways of treating babies’ remains. We must stop killing babies like these by abortion and then we will know how to respect the dead.

    “The way we treat those who have died is important, yet parents who lose a baby by miscarriage or abortion are rarely consulted over the disposal of the baby’s remains.

    “The reluctance to consult families in these situations is undoubtedly linked to our barbaric abortion policies, even if sometimes after late abortions everyone admits that the baby is a baby and tries at least to respect his or her remains.

    “There are two issues at stake here. One is the feelings of the parents, and the other is the respect due to the dead – in this case a dead unborn child, killed by abortion or who has died as a result of spontaneous miscarriage.

    “Some argue that because very early spontaneous miscarriage is not marked by social ceremony, and may be unrecognised by the mother herself, this indicates that the human embryo is not a person. This approach is used to argue for an arbitrary time before which the unborn are treated as non-persons.

    “In fact the unborn has all the essential attributes of a person from conception, even though some characteristics take months or years to develop fully. If we feel differently about the unborn, it is simply because he or she is a stranger – someone we have not yet met or developed affection for.

    “Until we reject the abortion culture and learn to honour all mothers – including expectant mothers and bereaved mothers - the sickening consequences of aborting over 500 babies every day will continue to resurface and unsettle us.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

African, Caribbean and Pacific States condemn western sanctions against Uganda and Nigeria

Following the enactment of recent anti homosexual legislation in Uganda and Nigeria, the response of the European Parliament to isolate them from the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the response of Member States of the European Union, the United States of America and Norway in deciding to either withhold aid directed to the Ugandan Government or redirect aid away from the government to civil society organizations, the Parliamentary Assembly of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States has issued a strongly worded declaration condemning the actions of the countries involved and expressing support for both Uganda and Nigeria.

The Parliamentary Assembly during its 35th Session in Strasbourg on 14 and 19 March 2014 point out in their declaration that 76 countries consider homosexuality a crime, and it continues by pointing out that one of the universally held cardinal principles of democracy is acceptance of differing opinions on matters of principle and that democracy and human rights do not allow forceful imposition of unilateral points of view by one country over another sovereign country.

The declaration states that the new laws in Uganda and Nigeria were enacted by democratically elected Parliaments following widespread consultation in each case, and reiterates the right of sovereign governments and their democratic institutions to reflect and respect the will of their people. Interestingly the declaration points out that the former British colonial governments in Uganda and Nigeria had enacted legislation to punish homosexuality with a 14-year prison sentence under section 145 of the Uganda Penal Code Act and with a 7-year sentence under section 214 of the Nigerian Criminal Code respectively.

The declaration asserts the right of a society to determine its own moral values and norms and accuses the European Parliament of double standards in addressing democracy and human rights issues as manifested in the reaction to the issue of sexual orientation and homosexuality in ACP Countries.

The declaration continues by calling on the EU to respect the democratic processes of sovereign States and to refrain from taking action which could undermine partnership with the ACP Group, and to desist from tying sexual orientation and homosexuality to development aid and cooperation. It also reaffirms its rejection of any attempt to pressure the ACP countries into accepting values contrary to the wishes and aspirations of their peoples.
The declaration also expresses regret that some ACP countries are being punished for observing and upholding the generally acceptable norms in their societies and urges the EU to accept that there is no common ground between it and Uganda and Nigeria on the question of sexual orientation and homosexuality.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Row breaks out over availability of abortifacients in Irish Pharmacies

Human Life International Ireland (HLII) came under attack in the pharmacist’s magazine, the ‘Irish Pharmacist’, following its recent survey of Irish Pharmacies on the issue of dispensing abortifacients such as the morning after pill. 
The HLI executive director Patrick Mc Crystal has responded to the criticism in the ‘Irish Pharmacist’ and has issued a press release which is set out below.
Having just surveyed 3000 pharmacies on dispensing abortifacient "morning-after" pills, Human Life International Ireland has rebutted accusations of "Catholic militancy", "fundamentalism" and "totalitarianism" and "extreme" in the March edition of "Irish Pharmacist" magazine.   ( See rebuttal here.
Responding to criticism in February's edition of "Irish Pharmacist" , Patrick McCrystal, Executive Director of Human Life International (Ireland) outlined that many of their supporters want to know what pharmacies do not dispense abortifacients. See criticism article here.
In his article, Mr McCrystal described how he ceased dispensing abortifacients as a pharmacist when he realised the implications of the loss of human life through the dispensing of these life destroying drugs.
He stated: "As a pharmacist, I held that if a woman conceived and presented in my pharmacy, I had two patients to consider not one. There is a silent holocaust countrywide despite the clean clinical image projected."
"Whilst many pharmacists I know are consciencious and hard-working, if human life is sacred there were uncomfortable realities as a pharmacist I simply had to face, realities that transcended mere professional ethics."  As a result, Mr McCrystal was unemployed for three years due to his ethical stance.
Further clinical and ethical considerations are our dedicated website at, which is attracting international attention. This is a big issue for pharmacist's way beyond our Irish shores.

Of the 40 pharmacy responses, only two indicated they did not dispense the abortifacient morning after pill.   All dispensed the everyday oral contraceptive pill. However, several pharmacies indicated their willingness to explore the matter further.

"If even one pharmacist considers taking a different path, it will have been worth it." said Mr McCrystal.

Pharmacists and all healthcare professionals are thrust into the frontline of a moral quagmire that university clinical training does not equip them to deal with.
For more information Contact: Patrick Mc Crystal (BSc Pharmacy) tel 087 2305709
Human Life International Ireland

Monday, March 24, 2014

Controversy at 58th Commission on the Status of Women brings the United Nations into disrepute

This year’s annual Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58), held during the past two weeks at the UN Headquarters in New York ended in controversy when the 45-member Commission adopted an outcome document entitled “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. These negotiations are supposed to be based on consensus and the outcome document or agreed conclusions is meant to represent just that, genuine agreement.

Following two weeks of negotiations that had become deadlocked, the Chair produced a new text just before midnight on Friday, which still contained some of the more controversial paragraphs on which there was no agreement. Given the lateness of the hour, Member States were given less than a minute to voice any last minute objections before the Chair adopted the 24 page text in its entirety.  This type of farce is precisely what brings the UN into disrepute.

Twenty - two, (22) Member States, some of which represented large groups of member states, made reservations to the text, the implication being that around half the countries in the world were unhappy and do not support the outcome. The rich countries lamented the fact that the document included a reference to " the family " as they wanted a reference to "various forms of the family". They were also upset that there was no reference to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)

The controversial document includes references to “comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality”, so called emergency contraception and “safe abortion” where such services are permitted by national law. It also includes “reproductive health care services, commodities, information and education.”

Abortifacients and abortion are not health care, and the fact that they are included in the document says more about ideology than any genuine effort to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

The term “reproductive rights” which appears in three places has been qualified by referencing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which is intended to protect countries’ sovereign rights to determine their own national laws on reproductive health.

Needless to say UNFPA, The pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund, welcomed the so called agreement claiming that it clearly reaffirms the international community’s commitments to gender equality and the empowerment and human rights of women and girls and the Commission’s reaffirmation of the importance of the ICPD Programme of Action.

The Commission also negotiated a resolution on “Women, the girl child, and HIV/AIDS.” Presented by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Malawi, to bring to the attention of the international community the challenges of realizing MDG 6 on HIV/AIDS.

The draft resolution on HIV/AIDS as proposed supported the idea of fidelity and delay of sexual debut. The Netherlands during the debate in the plenary presented controversial oral amendments, which included deletion of the term “early sexual debut” and adding “comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality,” The amendments also referenced controversial references from outcome documents of regional conferences organized by pro-abortion organizations
 The amendments proposed by the Netherlands were supported by Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, Norway, Australia, Iceland, and Paraguay.

Because of the fact that resolution had been arbitrarily changed the African Member States withdrew co-sponsorship of the resolution, followed by Russia and China. Malawi then called for the withdrawal of its sponsorship.
Despite the fact that there were no sponsors remaining the amended resolution was brought to a vote. The results of the vote were 22 in favor and 16 abstentions, while 7 did not vote.

The African Member States expressed disbelief and disappointment at the fact that the resolution they had proposed had been hijacked, and it was significant that in the final analysis none of them accepted the amended resolution as it ran counter to their experience in how best to tackle HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WHO concedes that making abortion legal does not make it safe

The pro-life movement has always rejected the rhetoric put forward by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) the World Health Organization (WHO) and many others in favour of so called ‘safe and legal abortion’. 
Hillary Clinton is on the record for making statements such as the following (Toronto Star 2010)
“You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions,” 
The implication in this statement and many other similar expressions, is that all legal abortions are safe and illegal abortions are unsafe.
A standard response to this claim from pro-lifers has always been that irrespective of whether the terms ‘safe and legal’ are used it is never safe for the baby and regularly unsafe for the mother.

The World Health Organization should have known better than to blindly follow  pro-abortion propaganda but it seems that they have had a late conversion to the fact that making abortion legal does not make it safe judging by an editorial in their latest Bulletin.
The editorial with the title, ‘From concept to measurement: operationalizing WHO’s definition of unsafe abortion’, considers the definition of “unsafe abortion” and distinguishes the safety of abortion from its legality. This is a reversal of a policy that has been in place since the early 1990s and a step in the right direction.
The article acknowledges, “WHO has historically used a pragmatic operational construct that measures safety in terms of only one dimension—legality—in developing its regional and global estimates of rates of unsafe abortions.”
Thus, illegal abortion is not synonymous with unsafe abortion, as indicated by the original definition: “... legality or illegality of services, however, may not be the defining factor of their safety [...] the safety of abortion must be considered within both the legal and legally restricted contexts.”
Rates of induced abortion are difficult to measure because of frequent underreporting or misclassification in surveys, hospital records and health statistics.
In light of this, WHO has historically used a pragmatic operational construct that measures safety in terms of only one dimension – legality.
Clearly this methodology distorts the number of so called “unsafe abortions” in countries that prohibit abortion, and has been a useful tool in the hands of pro-abortionists in persuading Governments to legalize abortion.
In point of fact legalizing abortion has never made it safe. It only makes it more common. Evidence from around the world clearly demonstrates that legalizing abortion is not necessary to reduce maternal mortality and protect the lives and health of women.

The article concludes, 
“This emphasizes that the termination of pregnancy is neither as simple nor as safe as some advocates of abortion would have the public believe. Moreover, the incidence of such complications as infertility, recurrent miscarriages, premature labor, ruptured uterus or emotional manifestations cannot be assessed at this stage.“
It is to be hoped that the WHO conversion to the truth in respect of this one issue will continue and that they will revise their entire approach to motherhood and childcare by recognizing the humanity of the unborn, the injustice of terminating the lives of unborn babies and that they will genuinely research the physical, psychological and emotional consequences of abortion for women. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New family focus recommended by a group of Member States the Human Rights Council.

Delegates from 112 UN Member States came together to form a new cross regional group, in support of the family, prior to the 25th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Group arranged a panel discussion on Thursday last pointing out that the International Community has spectacularly failed to support the family, the fundamental group unit of society as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The panel discussion focused on the 20th anniversary of the Year of the Family and looked at the potential for a goal on the family now that the international community is negotiating Sustainable Development Goals or SDG’s.
The panel focused in particular on strengthening the Family in its role as stimulator for autonomous economic activities, and as a factor for social integration, intergenerational solidarity and as an engine for development all of which are important components in the development of the post 2015 development agenda.

A statement in support of the family was also presented to the Human Rights Council on Friday by Namibia on behalf of the majority of the group members and it was expected that others would follow.
The Namibian statement follows:
Draft Cross Regional Statement
“Protection of the Family”
General Debate Item 3

Mr. President,
I am delivering this statement on behalf of 96 delegations…
According to the International Bill of Human Rights, the family, as the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is entitled to widest possible protection and assistance by the state and the society.
At the time this year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 44/82 of the 9th of December 1989, and followed-up most recently by General Assembly resolution 68/136 adopted on 18 December 2013, which provided a useful opportunity to draw further attention to the objectives of the International Year for increasing cooperation at all levels on family issues. However, the international community still fails to pay sufficient attention to the responsibilities of states under international law to provide protection for the family. The family unit around the world continues to face considerable challenges and difficulties that compromise the human rights of its members, and until this moment some families face particularly difficult circumstances, especially migrant families, families of indigenous descent, and families supported by one parent only.
We commend the efforts exerted by the United Nations’ Secretary General, and the member states of the UN in the context of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and the Commission of Social Development in fostering research and exchange of good practices in the areas of family policy, work-family balance, family support programs, data collection and processing, and empowering intergenerational solidarity through strengthening of the family unit.
In this regard, our countries are of the view that the Human Rights Council should undertake its role in addressing the means and ways of protection entitled to the family as underlined by international human rights law, and to contribute to exploring the link between family’s well-being and better protection and promotion of the internationally agreed and recognized human rights, including in relation to women’s right, protection of the rights of the child and ensuring their full and harmonious development, realizing the right to adequate standard of living, and promoting the right to education.
To this effect, we invite the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Treaty Bodies, the Special Procedures Mandate Holders, as well as the member states in their engagement with the UPR process, to consider paying attention to the challenges and the best practices related to fulfilling States’ responsibilities to provide the protection and assistance entitled to the family unit as prescribed by respective obligations under International Human Rights Law.
The countries supporting this statement are committed to take advantage of the observance of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family to continue ensuring the visibility of family issues in the work of the Human Rights Council.

I thank you.

Friday, March 14, 2014

New Attack on Ireland by the Centre for Reproductive Rights

We reported last November on a new attempt to broaden the basis on which terminations of pregnancy may be obtained in Ireland following reports that a group of Irish women who each decided to abort their babies following a diagnosis of fetal abnormality were taking a case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee with the assistance of an international pro-abortion law firm the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR).
It has now become clear that the CRR decided to arrange to have this done in a drip, drip method by lodging a petition to have only one of the cases considered by the committee.

We now understand that the CRR filed a second challenge against Ireland on March 13th 2014 before the same Committee. The Center filed this case on behalf of Siobhán Whelan, who was they falsely claim ‘forced by Ireland’s harsh restrictions on abortion’, to travel to the United Kingdom to obtain a so called ‘safe and legal abortion services’ after she learned that she was carrying a baby with a fatal anomaly.
The Center filed a petition before the United Nations Human Rights Committee to hold Ireland accountable for violating Ms Whelan’s basic human rights by subjecting her to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, interfering with her privacy, and discriminating against her on the basis of her gender.

There is no such right as a so called 'right' to abortion in any International UN Treaty, quite the reverse in fact, the right to life of all members of the human family is protected in the Universal declaration of human rights and its associated covenants.
There has however been much criticism of treaty monitoring committees, such as the committee in question, that they bring the United Nations into disrepute by reinterpreting the texts to find so-called non-existent rights.
It must be stated, whist one has every sympathy with a woman who finds herself in this appalling predicament abortion is not the answer. Despite the pressure placed on women in this difficult situation to abort their babies and the tendency to describe the unfortunate children as monsters, abortion is not the way forward, there is a better way, a caring way of dealing with the devastating news that an unborn baby has not developed fully and is suffering from a terminal condition.
It is essential for women in this awful predicament to have support such as that which can be provided by perinatal hospice care.
The perinatal hospice approach is one that walks with families on their journey through pregnancy, birth, and death, honoring the baby as well as the baby's family. Perinatal hospice is not a place; it is more a frame of mind. It is a way of caring for the pregnant mother, the baby, the father, and all involved with dignity and love. Even in areas without a formal program, parents can create a loving experience for themselves and their baby, and health professionals and family and friends can offer support in the spirit of hospice care.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Death of another baby in Portlaoise

We reported last week that one of the results of the collapse in Ireland’s economy in 2008 was a drastic reduction in hospital patient care due to a moratorium on recruitment and that nowhere is that more evident that in maternity hospitals. We also commented that unless immediate steps are taken to rectify the situation Ireland's proud record of having one of the lowest levels of maternal mortality would come to an end.
The result of this policy has so far been more detrimental to babies than to mothers but there has also been major criticism of the way bereaved families were treated by the hospital resulting in calls for proper peri-natal to be given to all families suffering such a bereavement.
A recent report of the loss of four newborn babies in a six-year period in the Portlaoise maternity unit was sadly overtaken by a new report of the loss of yet another baby last weekend.

See report from the Irish Independent
The HSE has confirmed it is investigating another baby death in Portlaoise maternity unit over the weekend.

The baby died on Saturday and a post mortem is to take place to determine the cause of death, a spokeswoman said.

The tragedy has led the hospital to trigger its incident management response which is standard following a baby death.

The spokeswoman said the hospital offered its condolences to the family at this tragice time.

The latest death follows the announcement by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) last week that it is conducting a full investigation into the standards of patient care across the hospital.

A recent report by the chief medical officer of the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan said the families of four babies who died over six years had been treated in an appalling manner.

The babies died between 2006 and 2012 after they suffered a fall in oxygen.The baby’s foetal distress in the womb was not identified or acted upon while their mothers were given a drug to quicken labour which led to a further drop in oxygen.

 A number of other baby deaths are also to be examined by HIQA which will also look at the treatment given to parents at the hospital.

Phelim Quinn, HIQA’s Director of Regulation said the investigation will will include an assessment of the patient safety culture at Portlaoise.

He added:“The investigation team will review the arrangements for providing safe, quality clinical care which will include how the Hospital focuses on the needs of patients, the management and leadership at the hospital.”

It will also  review the systems and processes that support safety and quality and the communication between staff and patients, particularly when patient safety incidents occur and when complaints are made

Health Minister James Reilly  said he could not give an assurance that some fo the failings found in the Portlaoise unit were not happening in maternity centres around the country.

“It is not good enough for hospitals to tell us they are doing something. We need outside monitoring of hospitals,” he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.

“This report  Report shows that the planned patient safety agency has a vital place in our health service.The agency will be established shortly and applications for a chief executive will be invited.It will be a patients' champion supporting patients to ensure that they receive an appropriate response to safety issues.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Assault on Conscientious Objection to Abortion

International Planned Parenthood (IPPF) has claimed that a milestone decision on conscientious objection and abortion, has been delivered by the Council of Europe (COE) Committee on Social Rights, against Italy. The decision upholds the claim made by IPPF that, regulations relating to health personnel’s conscientious objection violate the right to health protection.

According to an IPPF statement the Committee’s decision supports their view that conscientious objection cannot stand in the way of women receiving the reproductive healthcare services guaranteed by Italian law. The Italian State  they say is obliged to make sure women get access to abortion services – as and when required.

The COE Parliamentary Assembley voted down a report and resolution in 2010 known as the Mc’Cafferty report that attacked Conscientious objection and thereby affirmed that:
 “no person and no hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion [...]”.
This new initiative by IPPF and the decision of the Committee, in addition to placing pressure on Italy to change its laws, appears to be their response to the Council of Europe Parliamentary decision on the Mc Cafferty report which had halted their plans for forcing medical personnel to carry out and participate in, the killing of unborn babies regardless of their strongly held convictions.

We are investigating the legal implications of the Committee’s decision and will report further on this in due course.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ireland's maternity hospitals dangerously understaffed

One of the results of the collapse in Ireland’s economy in 2008 has been a drastic reduction in hospital patient care due to a moratorium on recruitment and nowhere is it more evident that in maternity hospitals. Unless immediate steps are taken to rectify the situation Ireland's proud record of having one of the lowest levels of maternal mortality in the world will come to a tragic end.
According to a survey carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation INMO mothers and babies are being put at risk in Ireland’s maternity units which are at breaking point as they struggle with a severe lack of midwives.
Worryingly the survey found that no maternity unit has the recommended safe ratio of midwives to births – and Portlaoise hospital, where four babies died over a six year period, is the worst hit.
According to an article in the Irish Independent on March 7th;
The moratorium on recruitment has led to a shortage of 621 midwives across the country, despite a predicted birth rate of nearly 69,000 this year.

The figures emerged in a survey by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which described the shortage in several of the 19 hospitals as "critical".

The survey measured staffing levels against the internationally recommended ratio of one midwife to 29.5 births.

INMO president Claire Mahon warned: "It is quite clear that cuts in midwifery staffing has a direct consequence upon the standard of midwifery care available to mothers and babies."

It found the ratio in Irish hospitals varied from 1:39 in Holles St in Dublin to 1:55 in Portlaoise, which needs an additional 33 midwives. The overall national ratio is one midwife to 40 births.

Other units which are under strain include University Hospital Galway, where Savita Halappanavar died in 2012. It has a ratio of 1:41 births and needs another 32 midwives.

The maternity unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, which has been at the centre of major controversy in the last decade, has a ratio of 1:37 births.

"This level of understaffing is very disturbing in view of previous serious incidents which were the subject of external investigation along with pledges to implement a range of recommendations," said the report.

The ratio in Limerick Regional Hospital is 1:32 births and it is even higher in Cork University Hospital at 1:37. The Rotunda in Dublin has 188 midwives, but the ratio to births is 1:48. The report pointed out that the Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dublin, which has supplied staff to Portlaoise in the last week after the Midlands unit was deemed unsafe, is itself coping with a ratio of 1:40.

It points out that in Northern Ireland, where there were 25,269 births in 2012, there are 1,040 midwives, with a ratio of 1:24.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Catholic schools are not entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality according to former HSE regional manager

A former Health Services Executive (HSE), regional manager of health promotion, Dr Jackie Jones in an article in the Irish Times March 5th unbelievably claims Catholic schools are not entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality.
According to Dr Jones ‘Schools funded by taxpayers cannot include abstinence as part of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). The R in RSE stands for relationships, not religion.’ She also claims that, ‘access to sex education is a right for students under the terms of Article 11.2 of the European Social Charter.’ Other views expressed by Dr Jones in her article include describing abstinence until marriage as an, ‘unachievable objective’, and despite convincing evidence to the contrary she claims that abstinence programmes do not delay sexual activity.

The Irish Times article follows and can be found on thislink
Unbelievably, talks on sexual abstinence are still delivered to post-primary school students by external agencies. A spokeswoman for an organisation called Pure in Heart was interviewed last week on RTÉ ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Her message was it’s good to be pure and abstaining from sexual activity until marriage is the best option. Listeners, who texted in their views, were largely in favour of chastity education, thought teaching about purity was “refreshing”, and Catholic schools were entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality. They are not.
Schools funded by taxpayers cannot include abstinence as part of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). The R in RSE stands for relationships, not religion.
A Department of Education and Skills (DES) circular (0037/2010) issued to post-primary schools says that access to sex education is a right for students under the terms of Article 11.2 of the European Social Charter.
This must be “objective, based on contemporary scientific evidence and does not involve censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting information”.
All aspects of the RSE programme must be taught, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections and sexual orientation. “Elements of the programme cannot be omitted on the grounds of school ethos.” Each school must have an RSE policy, including how invited external agencies fit into the overall plan.
Circular 0023/2010 about RSE, Best Practice Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools , spells out the precise criteria that apply to classroom visitors.
“All programmes and events delivered by visitors and external agencies must use appropriate, evidence-based methodologies with clear educational outcomes.”
What might these be for abstinence programmes? Students will abstain from sexual activity until marriage? An unachievable objective.

Convincing evidence
There is convincing evidence that abstinence programmes do not delay sexual activity, have no impact on frequency of sexual activity or number of partners.
Perhaps the objective is that students will understand they can choose not to have sex? Surely they know this already. That is the whole purpose of the RSE programme.
Anyone over 17 years of age, married or single, gay or straight, can choose to have, or not have, consensual sex at any time.
The guidelines also spell out teaching approaches that should not be used.
Schools are advised to avoid the following methods: use of scare tactics (masturbation causes depression); sensationalist interventions (showing teenagers unconscious from alcohol use); testimonials (inviting in an ex-addict, alcoholic or sex abstainer); information-only interventions (a talk from a health specialist on sexually transmitted infections); once-off/short- term interventions (talks on hygiene by nurses or any other health topic); normalising risky behaviour (giving the impression that most teenagers get drunk, have sex and take drugs) and didactic methods (Powerpoint presentations).
Teenagers need comprehensive sexuality education which, theoretically, is delivered by the RSE programme. Unfortunately, whatever they are learning, it is not good enough.

Not working
The messages about choice, sexual rights, consent, and using negotiation skills are not getting through.
A January 2014 study, commissioned by Rape Crisis Network Ireland, found that university students, who would have taken the RSE programme just a few years before, see consent as a tacit unspoken process.
“The male gender role was to push the progression onward through successive stages, while the female role was described as acquiescing, showing willingness, or acting as gatekeepers to halt progression.
“It was seen as weird or amusing to consider consent as something that would be explicitly negotiated.”
Part of the problem is that while schools tick the boxes to say RSE is covered, there is no evidence about the quality of classes. A report published in January 2014, Results of Department of Education and Skills ‘Lifeskills’ Survey, 2012, showed that available data “do not provide any insight into the quality of RSE provision within schools”.
No one knows what contribution external agencies and visiting speakers make to learning outcomes even though they are used to support RSE programmes in 95 per cent of post-primary schools.
In most schools the input of the external facilitators is not effectively integrated into the relevant programme plan.
Programmes linking abstinence to purity, implying that anyone who engages in sex outside marriage is contaminated, have no place in schools.
Marriage does not confer special wisdom about sex, or any other important human experience, which magically descends on a couple on the day of the ceremony. Abstinence education is like trying to teach someone to ride a bike with the brakes permanently on. It can’t be done.
The DES needs to stop these nonsense interventions now and start measuring the quality of RSE classes.

Dr Jacky Jones is a former HSE regional manager of health promotion

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Despite the many requests for him to refuse to sign the new and controversial Bill recently passed by Parliament, Belgium’s King Philippe has signed into law the right of minors to seek euthanasia.

 Many organizations and petitions were made to the King to refuse to sign the measure including a petition, launched by an Austrian couple, the parents of a large family which was signed by more than 200,000 people from all over Europe.

In the intervening period between the passing of the new law by the parliament and its signing by King Philippe last Sunday, there was speculation that he may have followed in the footsteps of his uncle, the late King Baudouin, who in the 1990s refused to sign an abortion law.

Article from RT news reprinted below
Belgium’s king has signed into law a controversial bill that will allow for chronically ill children to be euthanized, local media reports. The bill, while widely opposed by religious groups, has broadly support among the public.

Belgian newspapers reported that King Philippe signed the bill into law Sunday, putting to rest weeks of speculation on whether he would approve the law amid strong opposition from Catholic organizations throughout Europe.

The legislation, which grants children the right to request euthanasia if they are “in great pain” and there is no available treatment, makes Belgium the first country in the world where the age of the child is not taken into consideration. Similar legislation exists in the Netherlands, though only for children over the age of 12. In both countries, children are required to receive the consent of parents, doctors and psychiatrists.

The Belgian Catholic Church opposes the law, earlier describing it as a “step too far.” European Catholics also petitioned the king to veto the bill.

In late February, a Spanish conservative lobby delivered more than 200,000 signatures to King Philippe in Brussels, demanding that he not sign the bill. One of the petition’s organizers, Alvaro Zulueta, says more than 5,000 of the signatures came from concerned Belgians, although Italians made up the largest number of respondents, AFP reported.

Although King Philippe’s signature was technically necessary for the bill to pass, it would have been highly unusual for the constitutional monarch not to approve the legislation.

The bill passed the Belgium House of Representatives 86-44 with 12 abstentions February 13, following approval by the Senate last December. Some lawmakers strongly contested the bill, which was proposed by the ruling Socialist Party. The bill was opposed by the Christian Democratic and Flemish parties, which earlier threatened to take the proposal before the European Court of Human Rights.

Belgium became the second country in the world after its neighbor, The Netherlands, to legalize euthanasia following the 2002 Belgium Act on Euthanasia.

Since that time, the number of reported cases of euthanasia in Belgium has reached 1,400 per year.

Critics say it has fundamentally changed Belgium society. In one case in December 2012, Doctors announced that they had euthanized 45-year-old deaf identical twins who were going blind and believed they had nothing left to live for.

Critics said the brothers were not terminally ill nor suffering physical pain, and it took them two years before they found doctors who would perform the procedure. According to Bioedge, a doctor at their local hospital said, “I do not think this was what the legislation meant by 'unbearable suffering.’"

In another case, a 44-year-old woman with chronic anorexia nervosa was euthanized. A 64-year-old woman suffering from chronic depression was also euthanized without informing her relatives. The doctors involved claimed the cases were exceptional, saying all legal obligations were met.

Despite more extreme cases which have gathered worldwide media attention, a recent public survey earlier found that 75 percent of Belgians supported the child euthanasia measure.

Monday, March 3, 2014

National Vigil for Life Merrion Square Dublin Saturday May 3rd

The Fine Gael Party promised voters they would not legalise abortion. They broke that promise. The pro-life movement gave a commitment that it would not sit back and accept this new law. The National Vigil for Life on 3rd May is a clear sign that we will not be breaking our promise.

On 3rd May, we will have an opportunity to show that, far from losing heart, we are more committed than ever. This is, truly, a moment in which we have to persevere for what is right. In introducing abortion the Government knew exactly what it was doing and that there was no medical or legal necessity for it.

Each one of us has to decide whether to sit this one out or step up to the mark and join the pro-life fightback. Political promise-breaking and groupthink in politics and the media are two of the most damaging aspects of public life in Ireland today. They have to be challenged.

To organise a bus or to find buses in your area, phone: Maria 086 406 9660, Denise 087 266 8702 or Katie 085 871 1100
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