Friday, July 29, 2011

Towards a new Civilisation of Love: Parents the Primary Educators and Protectors of their children.

I blogged previously on the Moscow Demographic Summit but I want to return to it to publicise a wonderful Paper given at the Summit by Dr Thomas Ward, founder and currently Vice-President of the National Association of Catholic Families (NACF). Dr Ward spoke at the conference as a representative of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) 
Towards a new Civilisation of Love: Parents the Primary Educators and Protectors of their children.
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Civilisation of Love based on our families beckons us.
The Culture of Death is, of its nature, moribund. Its geopolitical epicentre is England where, increasingly, it is being resisted. 
Since 1967 our Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the largest pro-life organisation in Europe has shown that, even in England, pro-life lobbying and legal interventions work.
·      SPUC prevented the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
·      and has stopped Parliament from greatly extending it in England .
·      SPUC stopped the introduction of compulsory sex 'education' from the age of five…
·      SPUC led a successful campaign throughout the 47 nations of the Council of Europe to overturto then a report aimed at abolishing conscientious objection on abortion, euthanasia, IVF and contraception.
English liberalism
With Malthus's hostility to population growth, Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' and Galton's formulation of eugenics English liberalism [h]as been the seedbed of the eugenics movement.
Crucially, in 1930, without precedent in the history of Christianity the Church of England permitted the use of contraceptives at the discretion of married couples. The present Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that therefore the validity of non-procreative sex must be acknowledged and intimate same-sex relations could not be absolutely condemned.
When the BBC asked the current Catholic Archbishop of Westminster if the Catholic Church would not have to sanction 'gay unions' he replied that he did not know!
This unopposed moral relativism has consequences:
·      The premature sexualisation of children is widespread but is being increasingly opposed by parents.
·      40% of girls aged 15 or younger have sexual intercourse- the highest in Europe as is our teenage pregnancy and abortion rate.
·      45% of children are illegitimate
·      In spite of high quality studies which show that parental notification reduces under-age abortion government agencies which provide children under 16 with access to abortion and contraceptives without parental knowledge go into many schools, including Christian schools with the knowledge of Church authorities but opposed by parents.
·      The mean number of sexual partners nationally is 9
·      Marriages down by 50%.
·      Abortions 7 million since 1967 and legal up to birth
·      Since the first IVF child born in England 2,000,000 embryos have been destroyed
·      400,000 human beings, equal to the total populations of Cambridge, Oxford and York are annually destroyed by abortion and in the course of IVF.
·      We were the first to legalise the creation of and experimentation on human/animal hybrids.
·      Hospital staff who called patients who resist euthanasia 'coffin dodgers' have been denounced by an English Russian Orthodox priest.
·      In the Sexual Orientation Regulations a legal infrastructure has been laid down for a massive attack on the authentic Christian teaching on human sexuality, marriage and the family. Draconian penalties have removed the civil rights of millions of Christians e.g. Catholic adoption agencies have been legally suppressed because they refuse to sanction homosexual adoptions.
·      Family breakdown costs £20 billion per year only 14 billion less than defence.
·      Our Abortion Law was the model for the quarter of the world, our former Empire, which share Common Law.
·      The Headquarters of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International are in London.
·      Our Foreign Office promotes world-wide homosexual law reform which will inevitably penalize parental opposition to homosexual indoctrination of children in schools and silence many Churches.

In1922 Lenin called a meeting of Marxist intellectuals to study why the Bolshevik Revolution had not spread to the West. Under Stalin they fled first to Frankfurt, the Frankfurt School and later to the US where they used its vast commercial, academic and media resources to spread their quiet worldwide revolution.
·      To impose the dictatorship of the proletariat they proposed that sexual instinct should be used as an instrument of destruction and that, intellectuals should be organised and used to make Western civilisation 'stink'.
·      Our culture had to be destroyed through the use of negative destructive criticism in all spheres of life.
·      Hope based on the belief in God was to be destroyed.
·      Our Judaeo-Christian legacy, our culture and our families including the right of Primary Educator had to be destroyed.
This cocktail of 'Cultural Marxism' and 'Eugenic liberalism, the Culture of Death is not only a culture of physical death but, more profoundly, through the eroticisation and moral corruption of children it is a culture of spiritual death.
We Christians, East and West must replace it with a civilisation of love.
The first step is to restore to parents their right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions. Parents are the primary educators of their children.
This God given right is fundamental, inalienable and irreplaceable. It is founded upon their transmission of life to and their love for their child.
·      Homes where children learn to love by knowing that their parents love them are the schools of this Civilisation.
·      A mother who values her maternal vocation and her importance in the home nurtures the femininity and future motherhood in her daughters. She sets a clear, strong and attractive example of womanhood for her sons.
·      The dignified and masculine behaviour of fathers is a model for their sons. It inspires respect, admiration and security in their daughters.
·      Children naturally absorb sound attitudes on love, marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality from their parents.
·      Each child has his or her own rate of maturation.
·      Children should be individually taught the truth about sexuality by their parents who alone are in the position to know what, when and how.
·      Teaching modesty and chastity will help them to build their own beautiful families.
The artificial separation of the unitive and procreative, aspects of the conjugal act in contraception, in vitro-fertilisation and homosexual acts damages the deepest truth of sexual intercourse itself. This and the evil of abortion should be sensitively taught.
·      Pray together and encourage your children to intensify their Christian lives. Only then will they will have the necessary courage to give witness to their faith and morals.
·      Forbid any instruction on sexuality, which may damage your child's innocence.
·      Form associations of families.
·      Encourage your clergy to see the vital relationship between the family and the Church.
In conclusion.
There is no alternative to the Civilisation of Life.
It is possible to build this civilisation.
The Civilisation of Love is God's civilization
It is your civilisation.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

To pray or not to pray, that is the question

While the atheist member of the Irish Seanad (upper house of parliament) is calling for the removal of the prayer with which each day’s session of the Irish parliament debates begins, it is interesting to read of another politician calling for a day of prayer for his nation.     

The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry (he is also a presidential contender), has called for a Day of Prayer for the United States of America, to take place on 6 August next.   He has stated that he made this call because of the following, 

‘[G]iven the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel.  I urge all Americans of faith to pray on that day for the healing of our country, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of enduring values as our guiding force.’

Whether or not one accepts his sincerity (and who can legitimately question that), at least he had the guts to make his call publicly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DANA for President?

According to recent media reports we may see the name Dana Rosemary Scallon on the ballot paper as a candidate in the Presidential Election next November.
TV3 Report that Dana is currently considering her position with regards to this election

Miriam Lord writing in the Irish Times had this to say;

Meanwhile, strong but unconfirmed reports are reaching us about Dana Rosemary Scallon, who polled well when she ran for the presidency 14 years ago.

She was also one of the two politicians who tried but failed to challenge Mary McAleese’s uncontested return to the Áras last time out, the other being the former Green Party minister Eamon Ryan.

We hear that her supporters have been taking soundings about her prospects. Apparently she fared well in a private poll they conducted, so don’t be surprised if she throws her hat into the ring again.

 In1997 Dana made history by receiving the nominations of five county councils. While this was a constitutionally legitimate means of gaining nomination to compete for the presidency, the approach was unprecedented before her campaign. In the election she campaigned for family values, protecting the Irish Constitution and on Pro-Life issues.

In the election Dana came 3rd beating the Labour, Democratic Left and Green candidate Adi Roche with 13.8 % of the vote, 175,458. Our current President Mary McAleese won that election.

In the 1999 European Elections she become an MEP for Connacht–Ulster,
She continued the fight for Ireland and the impoverished West coast of Ireland over in Europe, as her record showed.

Dana narrowly lost her European Parliament seat in 2004. In both Lisbon Treaty debates she supported the No side of the debates. She knew exactly what Lisbon would mean for Ireland in terms of loss of sovereignty on many fronts

Dana's record speaks for itself. She's not afraid to stand up for what is right and she is certainly not afraid to stand up for her country her believes or the disenfranchised

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Abortion advertising must include a government health warning in Russia

 It appears that the Russian Government has enacted a law that will require health warnings about abortion to be incorporated in all advertising for abortion.   The warnings, about such aspects of abortion as the loss of fertility, etc., must occupy a minimum ten percent of every advertisement.   

Russia has one of the world’s highest abortion rates, and this contributes in no small way to the worsening demographic crisis in that country.   This is despite the efforts of the Russian government in encouraging women to have more children.  

It is reported that the Russian parliament might soon, too, pass a bill the result of which would restrict access to abortion and increase punishments for those who carry out ‘illegal abortions’.  The proposed law would also make it easier for mothers to have their babies adopted in an anonymous environment.

Please have a look at my blogs for 2 and 6 June 2011, and 12 July 2011, for related material on the Russian approach to the problem of the falling population. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission appointment

The Iona Institute reports that Michael O’Flaherty – ‘who is still formally a Catholic priest’ – has been appointed as head of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.  Mr. O’Flaherty (he has not yet been officially laicised) was to the fore in the drafting of the Yogyakarta Principles which promote and advocate, among other things, the legalising of homosexual adoption.    In taking over control of the NIHRC he is following in the footsteps of another notorious person who disregarded the whole notion of human rights with regard to the protection of human beings from the moment of conception until natural death.  That other person is Monica McWilliams. 

Michael O’Flaherty currently serves on the UN Human Rights Committee as Ireland’s representative, and he is also Professor of Applied Human Rights at the University of Nottingham.   Following reported Irish Government lobbying, O’Flaherty was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Committee once again.   He is a strong and vocal advocator for ‘rights’ for homosexuals and others of like agenda.

The Iona Institute says that, ‘Currently, the [Yogyakarta] Principles have no legal status’, but that lobbying on the part of homosexual groups would allow them to argue that domestic legislation could lead to soft-law international norms – ‘despite the absence of reference to such “norms” in actual hard-law treaties ratified by sovereign nations.’

Michael O’Flaherty was one of the invited speakers at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs NGO Human Rights Forum in 2006 and again in 2007, in Dublin.  At the 2007 Forum he spoke on ‘the work of the human rights treaty bodies’, and what he saw as ‘resistance problems’ in that ‘some states will not play with the system at all; they will not ratify the treaties and the whole framework therefore just passes them gloriously by.’  However, he said, there is ‘a movement towards universal ratification of these treaties’, and mentioned the Convention on the Rights of the Child as an example in this regard.
As is well known, the liberal Fine Gael/Labour government in Ireland is making huge efforts to ensure that a ‘children’s rights’ referendum takes place in the very near future.  The terms of the referendum – which would, if carried, ensure that an amendment inimical to the true rights of families and children would be inserted into the Constitution of Ireland – have yet to be finalised, but it is feared that the final wording will not be in the best interests of society

Friday, July 22, 2011


 Ireland United for Life PRO John Brown has issued the following press release:

“Ireland’s new Fine Gael-Labour government has agreed to establish a Constitutional Convention to consider same-sex marriage among other things. Both parties support same sex marriage and this is a real and present danger. It is unmistakable that they are determined to go all the way in granting full marriage rights to same sex partners,” said John Brown of Ireland United for Life. 

At the end of last week the Fine Gael-Labour coalition continued their attack when they passed amendments to the Finance and Social Welfare Bills. This was scarcely reported and occurred as they, according to news reports, “Declared War on the Vatican” over the Cloyne abuse report.

The “Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010” came into force on 1st January 2011. The Act will dramatically alter the landscape of family law in Ireland. It deals with civil partnership for same sex partners and with cohabitants, which includes both same sex and heterosexual relationships.
Fine Gael party Chairman, Charlie Flanagan, now director of elections for Gay Mitchell’s 2011 Irish Presidency bid, speaking as Justice Spokesperson on the first day of the debate on the Civil Partnership Bill in 2009, proclaimed a wish that civil partnership would be a step towards equality. Crucially Fine Gael’s Flanagan said, “While many welcome [the civil partnership bill], others believe it does not go far enough. To those people I would say that change is incremental  and I hope that full equality is not far away.”

The bill passed all stages on 1 July 2010 with cross-party support resulting in it passing without a vote and was signed into law by President Mary Mc Aleese on 19th July 2010.  
Marriage in Ireland is currently regulated by the Civil Registration Act 2004, Section 2 restates the Common Law definition of marriage and according to section 2(2)(e) a marriage would be invalid if both parties to a marriage are of the same sex. However, the “Bill” grants same sex partners several rights now only granted to married couples. Irish Law allows same sex people to adopt children as individuals while allowing same sex partners to jointly foster.
The Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform was founded in the 1970s , its founding members including Senator David Norris, now seeking nomination for President of Ireland; and current and former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, both outspoken defenders of same sex rights. Coincidentally, the task of signing an Irish Bill decriminalising homosexual acts fell to the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson who as a barrister and Senior Counsel had represented Norris in a European Court of Human Rights case, in the case of Norris V Ireland, which ruled that the criminalisation of homosexuality in the Republic violated Article 8 of the Convention, which guarantees the right to privacy in personal affairs.  Norris introduced a Private Members Bill entitled Civil Partnership Bill, in 2004, which led to the current Bill.

Ireland does not allow same-sex marriage however progressive liberals are determined to brush aside the family as we know it. People must wake up and understand that unless we give the ultimatum of political annihilation, starting with the race for the Irish Presidency, then Ireland’s government is determined to go all the way, setting aside Irelands Constitutional protection for husband and wife, including the rights of parents as primary educators;  and grant full marriage rights to same sex partners”, concluded John Brown.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Courage Conference

Courage, the counselling service for homosexuals and lesbians who struggle to live a chaste life, is holding a conference in Illinois, from 4 to 7 August next.    The conference is dedicated to the memory of Fr. John Harvey, the founder of the organisation.  Among those taking part in the conference, and who will address the participants, are Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Fr. Jeffrey Keefe, Fr. Paul Scalia, Sean Stevens, Ph.D., and others.

During the year, Courage holds clergy study conference days.  At these study days the question of same-sex attraction is addressed from four perspectives – theological anthropology (the natural moral law and Church teaching on homosexuality); psychological sciences (presented by an MD or PhD who works with Courage); a witness talk (a testimonial by a Courage member); and a talk specifically about the Courage organisation itself.

Fr. Paul Check, the Director of Courage, says that he believes,  
 ‘as Fr. Harvey did, that the testimonials of our members are among the most powerful means the Church has to engage the world in a complex, controversial but very personal discussion, and to bring the light of truth and the grace of peace to many minds and hearts.  Please pray for Our Lord’s guidance and Our Lady’s mantle of charity, purity, and humility.’

In Europe, too, we urgently need such action, and prayer, to counteract the proliferation and the spread of the homosexual movement’s many activities.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cardinal DiNardo expresses strong opposition to inclusion of anti life measures in US mandatory health insurance plans

PR Newswire report that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, strongly opposed the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved birth control in private health insurance plans nationwide.
The full text of the statement follows:
I strongly oppose the Institute of Medicine's recommendation today that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of three particular practices in almost all private health plans: surgical sterilization; all FDA-approved birth control (including the IUD, "morning-after" pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella); and "education and counseling" promoting these among all "women of reproductive capacity."
Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.  The IOM report claims it would have good reason to recommend mandatory coverage for surgical abortions as well, if such a mandate were not prevented by law.  But most Americans surely see that abortion is not healthy or therapeutic for unborn children, and has physical and mental health risks for women which can be extremely serious.  I can only conclude that there is an ideology at work in these recommendations that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children.
The single largest abortion provider in the United States, Planned Parenthood, is celebrating the IOM's report. If the HHS does likewise and implements its recommendations, these controversial practices will be mandated for all insurance plans – public and private – without co-pay from anyone receiving them. The considerable cost of these practices will be paid by all who participate in health coverage, employers and employees alike, including those who conscientiously object to Planned Parenthood's agenda.
Without sufficient legal protection for rights of conscience, such a mandate would force all men, women and children to carry health coverage that violates the deeply-held moral and religious convictions of many.  This new threat to conscience makes it especially critical for Congress to pass the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Dan Boren (HR 1179). I am writing to all members of Congress to urge their co-sponsorship.
The IOM missed an opportunity to promote better health care for women that is life-affirming and truly compassionate.  I once again urge the Department of Health and Human Services to focus on the need of all Americans, including immigrants and the poor, for basic life-saving health coverage – not on mandating controversial elective practices in ways that undermine the good of women and children, the consciences of employers, employees and health plan providers, and the common good.

"Safe Passages": Reducing Maternal Mortality

I recently came across an article published by the Linacre quarterly on the subject of maternal mortality which represents a major step forward in the global effort to ensure that every mother and every baby receive targeted life sustaining healthcare. The Article entitled "Safe Passages Pro-Life Response to the Tragedy of Maternal Deaths" was written by George Mulcaire-Jones, M.D., and Robert Scanlon, M.D., and describes an initiative of Maternal Life International
The following passages highlight the major international disagreement on how best to go about reducing Maternal mortality, pointing out the pitfalls of the current UN/WHO approach and highlighting the real solution, which they have called "a better way." This “better way” to reduce maternal mortality according to the report, lies in a different paradigm—a paradigm founded on respect for the life and dignity of the human person. The approach is known as  The Safe Passages Premise, which says that every mother and baby should be entitled to a safe passage: to a pregnancy and birth free of death, free of serious injury, and free of the HIV virus

"While there is almost universal agreement on the need to reach this goal, the question of how to do so is not only elusive, but extraordinarily divisive. There remains a chasm between the villages of Africa and the cities of Geneva, Stockholm, London, and Washington, D.C. It is the chasm representing the distance between a woman dying in a birthing hut with out sanitation, running water, or hope, and the carpeted board rooms where strategies are developed and priorities assigned. Vast resources,
which should have been directed to funding improvements in essential obstetrical care, have gone to a different agenda—so called “reproductive health.” Rather than focus on the real causes and solutions to maternal mortality, Safe Motherhood has become entangled within a “reproductive rights” agenda, which emphasizes access to contraception and promotes abortion." [...]
 The article continues 

[...] "Tragically, the prevailing reproductive-health paradigm has not only ignored this data, it has betrayed the basic premise of obstetrical care: obstetrics is the care of two persons: a mother and her fetus. How is it that Safe Motherhood became invested primarily in preventing women from becoming pregnant, rather than caring for women who are expecting a baby and the baby itself? In the extreme, advocates for Safe Motherhood have been advocates of expansive medical and surgical abortion, regardless of its safety and the lack of facility-based care for post-abortion complications. In an Orwellian way, an abortion-driven agenda has become more important than the lives of African mothers: In addition to the direct effects of induced abortion on women, there is the dangerous diversion of financial resources from interventions known to reduce maternal mortality: skilled birth attendants, antibiotics, blood banking, and uterotonics. Abortion, spontaneous and induced, accounts for less than 5 percent of maternal mortality. It is scientifically, medically, and morally unacceptable to divert resources from interventions proven to reduce maternal mortality to the provision of abortion, under the guise of “decreasing unsafe abortion.” The better way to reduce the human rights dimension of maternal mortality is to provide resources targeting the causes of 90 percent of maternal mortality."
The Safe Passages premise according to the article

"[...] is based upon accumulated historical and evidence-based data that clearly demonstrate when women and babies die in childbirth: from the onset of labor until seven days postpartum.7We call this time frame the “window of vulnerability” The window exposes the futility of antenatal care as a primary strategy in reducing maternal deaths—women generally do not die before going into labor. And the window further exposes the exaggeration of abortion-related deaths. If women were really dying in these kinds of numbers from so-called “unsafe abortions,” would not the statistical numbers show a clear spike early in pregnancy? Exaggeration of abortion-related deaths is used to promote “safe,” legal abortions. What saves the lives of mothers and babies during this window of
vulnerability is the presence of skilled birth attendants. A skilled birth attendant can recognize complications and initiate appropriate interventions."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poland: A Complete Ban on Abortion Would Comply with International and European law.

I BLOGGED on June 29th about a new pro-life initiative in Poland (see this link)  Clearly there are implications for Ireland emanating from this initiative, bearing in mind that the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in respect of the A,B and C case is based on similar premises to the two pro-abortion judgements handed down by the ECtHR in respect Polish legislation. The Polish approach to opposing the judgements while still ensuring that Poland is in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights is a model that could also be made to work in Ireland and it is urgent.

The European Centre for law and Justice have published a very important article on the Polish situation which I have included below in full.

Poland: A Complete Ban on Abortion Would Comply with International and European law.

Grégor Puppinck

STRASBOURG, July 18th, 2011.

In Poland, a nation-wide grassroots effort has lead to the proposal of bold, new legislation aimed at removing all exceptions to the country’s abortion laws thus protecting children from the moment of conception.  The proposed bill is the product of an effort led by Warsaw’s PRO Foundation.  Under Poland’s political system, organizers needed to collect 100,000 signatures within three months to place the bill before Parliament.  They succeeded, however, in obtaining 600,000 signatures in just two weeks.  On Friday, July 1, 2011, the lower house of Poland’s parliament voted 254-151 to support the bill.  It now requires two more votes in the lower chamber before it moves to the Senate.

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) is of the opinion that though Poland’s ban on abortion contradicts the dominant opinion in the Western world, it would not constitute a breach of International and European law.

Current Polish law provides three exceptions for abortions: abortion is legal until the twelfth week of pregnancy where the pregnancy endangers the mother's life or health (medical abortion); when prenatal tests or other medical findings indicate a high risk that the foetus would be severely and irreversibly damaged or suffering from an incurable life-threatening disease (eugenic abortion); or there are strong grounds for believing that the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. These exceptions are known for being routinely abused, not only in a restrictive way – creating extra difficulties of access to legal abortion - as reported in several cases before the ECHR, but also (and more often) in a broad way, such as aborting children for a non life-threatening disease.

Indeed, Poland has been recently convicted twice before the ECHR for not having a “coherent legal framework” on abortion. In the most recent judgment, R R v Poland (n°. 27617/04), the Court reiterated its finding made previously in Tysiąc v. Poland (n° 5410/03) and in A, B and C v. Ireland that if a State decides to permit abortion, 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 [GC], § 249).

Being condemned for having an incoherent legal framework on abortion, Poland has the duty, under the diplomatic mechanism of follow up of the ECHR rulings, to take positive measures to make its legal framework coherent. The same obligation applies to Ireland following A, B and C v. Ireland. Most observers believed that such measures would lead to a broader liberalisation of abortion; in fact, the current popular initiative may clarify the Polish regulation on abortion in a utmost clear way: striking down all three exceptions, implementing a complete ban on abortion.

The European Centre for Law and Justice is of the opinion that though Poland’s ban on abortion contradicts the dominant opinion in the Western world, it would not constitute a breach of International and European law. Indeed, Poland’s proposed bill, which would protect human life from the moment of conception, is fully compatible with international law, obligations within the European Union (“EU”), and obligations pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights.  Simply put, there is no “right to abortion” or any other right which would include a “right to abortion” in any international or European binding instrument.  As a result, Poland has the authority to eventually enact this legislation.

No violation of the European Convention of Human Rights
Poland’s proposed law, if voted, would not violate the European Convention of Human Rights (“Convention”).  The Convention, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR” or “Court”) through its case law, does not guarantee a right to abortion.  At the contrary, it guarantees a right to life. In fact, the Grand Chamber of the Court recently affirmed in A., B. and C. v. Ireland that, “Article 8 cannot ... be interpreted as conferring a right to abortion.”  The Convention does guarantee, however, that member States are obliged to protect life, the right to private life, and the right to conscientious objection.  Poland’s attempt to ban abortion does not conflict with any of these rights.  In fact, Poland is acting within the recognized authority of member States.

As Article 2 of the Convention makes clear, member States are obligated to protect life.  As guarantors of the rights enshrined in the Convention, member States must not only refrain from the intentional and unlawful taking of life, they must take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdictions. Though required to ensure these rights, the States must only afford them a minimum standard of protection.  If they wish to do so, member States are free to adopt higher standards of respect for these rights.  For example, if Poland chooses to afford greater protection to the right to life than other member States—by protecting life from the moment of conception—it is free to do so. Likewise, according to the Court, member States may choose to afford minimum protection to the right to life—as some States have chosen to do by allowing abortions. In this area, a State’s decision holds a wide margin of appreciation.
The Court recognizes, through the margin of appreciation given to the States, that national authorities are better positioned to understand and address the needs of their respective societies. Even if there is a broad consensus among the member States in favor of abortion, it doesn’t restrict margin of appreciation because there is no consensus on when life begins, and then when the right to life begins. In addition, States margin of appreciation is wider when dealing with ethical and moral issues.
As a result, the margin of appreciation hold by Poland to safeguard the right to life is very broad.  The Court explicitly recognized this principle in the case R.R. v. Poland holding that “a broad margin of appreciation is accorded to the State as regards the circumstances in which an abortion will be permitted in a State."
However, once a State—acting within its margin of appreciation—decides to allow for abortions, the Court has held that certain obligations apply.  In this regard, in R.R. v. Poland, the Court reaffirmed its previous holding in Tysiąc v. Poland that “once the State, acting within the limits of the margin of appreciation, (…) adopts statutory regulations allowing abortions in some situations, it must not structure its legal framework in a way which would limit real possibilities to obtain it.” The Court further observed that once a State has permitted abortions, it is “under a positive obligation to create a procedural framework enabling a pregnant woman to exercise her right of access to lawful abortion.”  It is important to note that this obligation requiring a procedural framework for access to abortion does not somehow create a separate right to abortion, or a duty for the State to allow abortions. It only attaches if a member State first chooses to allow abortion. 
Acknowledging that allowing abortion in exceptional cases can be problematic, Poland’s proposed law attempts to avoid these problems by giving greater protection to the right to life rather than liberalizing abortion.  In Poland’s view, this law would better protect both the life of the mother and of the child.
Like the ECHR, the EU law, as well as International law and customary international law, do not create any duty for the State to legalize abortion. Poland’s proposed law does not violate EU law, because EU law does not recognize a right to abortion.  Moreover, the EU utterly lacks competence over the area of abortion, that is, member states of the EU have exclusive competence over whether or not abortion is illegal or legal within their territory.  The Council of the European Union explicitly recognized the EU’s lack of competence concerning abortion stating that “The European Union treaties have not bestowed on the Community or the Union the competence whereby the Union could regulate on abortion. The Member States thus have the competence to regulate on this and ensure compliance in their territory with the laws that they pass.” As well, a “right to abortion” is not explicitly or implicitly mentioned in any binding U.N. human rights treaty.  As the former executive director of the U.N. Population Fund observed, “We, UNFPA, are mandated to consider abortion within the context of public health, but never as a right, as some NGOs do. Abortion is a national issue to be decided by national laws and legislations.”
The European Centre for Law and Justice concludes that Poland’s proposed bill does not violate European and international law, while it clarifies Polish legal framework on abortion.

Patrick B. Craine, Head of Polish bishops: ‘We must ban abortion totally!,’ (June 29, 2011),
 Kathleen Gilbert, Historic Polish bill to ban all abortion clears first vote 254-151, (July 1, 2011),
 Section 4(a) of the 1993 Act reads in its relevant part:
“1. An abortion can be carried out only by a physician where
1) pregnancy endangers the mother's life or health;
2) prenatal tests or other medical findings indicate a high risk that the foetus will be severely and irreversibly damaged or suffering from an incurable life-threatening disease;
3) there are strong grounds for believing that the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act.
2. In the cases listed above under 2), an abortion can be performed until such time as the foetus is capable of surviving outside the mother's body; in cases listed under 3) above, until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy.
3. In the cases listed under 1) and 2) above the abortion shall be carried out by a physician working in a hospital. ...
5. Circumstances in which abortion is permitted under paragraph 1, sub-paragraphs 1) and 2) above shall be certified by a physician other than the one who is to perform the abortion, unless the pregnancy entails a direct threat to the woman's life.”
 A., B. and C. v. Ireland, [GC] no. 25579/05 § 214.
 See H v. Norway, no. 17004/90, Comm dec. of 19 May 1992; L.C.B. v. UK, judgment of 9th of June 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-III, p. 1403, § 36; Pretty v. UK, no. 2346/02, judgment of 29 April 2002, § 38.
 See A., B. and C. v. Ireland, [GC] no. 25579/05 § 249 and R.R. V Poland, no. 27617/04 § 187 (“Once that decision is taken, 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.”).
 See R.R. v. Poland, no. 27617/04 §187.
 A., B. and C. v. Ireland, [GC] no. 25579/05 § 237 (“Even if most Contracting Parties may in their legislation have resolved those conflicting rights and interests in favour of greater legal access to abortion, this consensus cannot be a decisive factor in the Court’s examination notwithstanding an evolutive interpretation of the Convention.”).
 See Vo v. France, no. 53924/00 §82 (“The issue of when the right to life begins comes within the margin of appreciation which the Court generally considers that States should enjoy in this sphere.”); See also A., B. and C. v. Ireland, [GC] no. 25579/05 § 241 (finding that Ireland did not exceed its margin of appreciation by prohibiting abortions for health and well-being reasons);.
 R.R. v. Poland, no. 27617/04 § 187.
 R.R. v. Poland, no. 27617/04 § 200.
 R.R. v. Poland, no. 27617/04 § 200.
Paula Lehtomaki, President-in-Office of the Council, 13 December 2006, replying to an Oral Question (H-0983/06) by Bastiaan Belder, MEP, available at,
 Neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, nor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women explicitly or implicitly provides for a so-called “right to abortion.” 
 Katherine Marshall, Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Religion and Women's Rights: An Interview with Thoraya Obaid, Huffington Post (January 15, 2011),

Monday, July 18, 2011

'UN Women' Publish Radical Strategy Document

The recently-established UN agency, ‘UN Women’, has shown its true colours in the publication of its first major publication which was issued two weeks ago.
“Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice" is the title of the publication, whose object it is to report the ‘progress’ made worldwide in advancing women’s rights ‘through changing legal norms and ending discriminatory provisions of national laws.’   

Photograph shows Ms. Michelle Bachalet, former President of Chile, who is the first UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women

The agency works to change individual nations’ laws by bringing international influence to bear through the recommendations of committees of CEDAW and other treaty monitoring bodies – probably also including the Universal Periodic Review of human rights to which Ireland is obliged to submit next October.

‘In Pursuit of Justice’ states, among other things, that the ‘criminal prohibition of abortion in all circumstances violates women’s fundamental rights’, and it talks of the need to confirm ‘women’s right to reproductive health, including safe abortion.’   So called 'achievements' of the international pro-abortion lobby throughout the world, notably in Columbia, Nepal, Kenya, etc., are praised and celebrated.

Relying on ‘recommendations’ made by the CEDAW committee worldwide, ‘In Pursuit of Justice’ encourages extending the scope of legal advocacy and international influence in the realm of the family, which has to date been looked on as being ‘outside justice’.   Legal advocacy groups and an individual nation’s ratification of CEDAW are ‘key tools’ in ensuring that religious or other laws or practices can be brought into conformity with ‘international human rights standards’.

Oh yes – and besides advocating the provision of ‘legal abortion’ in countries where it is not already available, the UN Women’s ‘In Pursuit of Justice’ also wants ‘lesbian, transgender, and bisexual women’ to have the protection of the law and ‘access to services’.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The nine principles for Catholic social agencies: Archbishop Chaput

I’m sure that readers are aware of the activities associated with and around the preparation of the examination of Ireland under the UN Universal Periodic Review next October.
You may also be aware of the controversy surrounding the ‘Your Rights, Right Now’ Report drawn up by a coalition of ‘civil society’ groups, including many with a pro-abortion and anti-family agenda.    The coalition purported to have gained an endorsement of their Report from a number of organisations and agencies, some of them church groups, but these were unaware that their names had been included in the YRRN Report and subsequently expressed a wish (which was refused) to have their names removed from the list of endorsers.  

In this regard, I think that what Archbishop Chaput, of Denver, Colorado, had to say when he spoke recently during the Catholic Social Workers National Association Meeting in Colorado, was very telling for all of us.  Now, I am not implying that any of the Irish Catholic agencies are remiss in their outlook, but I think that this timely warning from Archbishop Chaput is of the utmost importance.
Speaking on the ‘Catholic’ identity of Catholic charities, and by extension, the identity of all Catholic social work, the Archbishop said:

‘…  Everything in Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ.   If it doesn’t, it isn’t Catholic.  And if our social work isn’t deeply, confidently and explicitly Catholic in its identity, then we should stop using the word “Catholic.”  It’s that simple. …
‘… Catholic ministries have the duty to faithfully embody Catholic beliefs on marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality, abortion and other important issues.  And if the state refuses to allow those Catholic ministries to be faithful in their services through legal or financial bullying, then as a matter of integrity, they should end their services. …
‘Individuals, on their own, have very little power in dealing with the state.  But communities, and especially religious communities, have a great deal of power in shaping attitudes and behavior.  Churches are one of those “mediating institutions,” along with voluntary associations, fraternal organizations and especially the family, that stand between the power of the state and the weakness of individuals. …
‘In the years ahead, we’re going to see more and more attempts by civil authority to interfere in the life of believing communities.  We’ll also see less and less unchallenged space for religious institutions to carry out their work in the public square. …
‘Being faithful to Catholic teaching isn’t something optional for a Catholic social worker.  It’s basic to his or her identity. …

The Archbishop proceeded to suggest nine principles for Catholic social agencies:
First, every act of Catholic social work should function faithfully within the mission and structures of the local diocese, with special respect for the role of the bishop.  All such social work should be true to Scripture, Church teaching and the Code of Canon Law.
Second, every Catholic social ministry, along with providing material aid, should allow for the possibility of verbally professing the Gospel, as prudence permits.
Third – and this should be obvious – no Catholic charitable worker should ever engage in coercive proselytization.  He or she should always embody respect for an individual’s freedom, and be governed by humility and common sense.
Fourth, every Catholic social ministry should insist on the best professional skills from its staff, and should use the best professional means at its disposal in serving others – so long as those skills and means reflect the truth of Catholic moral teaching.
Fifth, Catholic Charities and similar Catholic organizations should always provide opportunities for prayer for their employees and volunteers.  Prayer is integral to Christian charity both as the means of experiencing the love of God ourselves and of seeking God’s help – without which, none of our works can prosper.
Sixth, every Catholic social ministry – guided by charity and prudence, but also by courage – should bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ to the wider community.  This includes giving a public voice to the rights of the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the immigrant and the unborn child, consistent with the particular nature of its work.
Seventh, Every Catholic Charities organization, both through action and instruction, should seek to deepen an awareness of Catholic social teaching within the Christian community.
Eighth, Catholic social work always should involve both an effective outreach to individuals struggling with poverty, and a frank critique of the structural causes of poverty through the lens of Catholic social teaching.
 Ninth and finally, Catholic social ministries should welcome opportunities to work with other individuals, groups and social agencies in ways that are compatible with Catholic teaching. But we need to stay alert to the fact that cooperation can easily turn Catholic organizations into sub-contractors of large donors – donors with a very different anthropology and thus very different notions of authentic human development.  And that can undermine the very purpose of Catholic social work...