Friday, 7 March 2008

MP's muddled thinking on abortion

In an article calling for a lower upper limit for abortion, Mrs Nadine Dorries MP speaks movingly about the killings of babies at 19, 24 and 28 weeks. However, pro-lifers must be wary of her proposal for reasons I explain, in a different context, in a letter published in the Catholic Herald this weekend. (Since I cannot link to the letters’ pages of the Herald, I reprint it below.)

The dangers of Nadine Dorries’s proposal are clearly illustrated in her own position on abortion. She endorses a woman’s right to choose abortion. She introduced a 10-minute rule bill in 2006 which included a provision to fast-track abortion once the final consent had been given. This provision, if the Bill had succeeded, could have led to even more resources being spent on killing the unborn.

Her revulsion at late abortion is wholly appropriate, but her tactics in trying to curb it are wrong, dangerous and likely to make matters worse, not better.

Her inconsistent stance politically is perhaps a reflection of her muddled thinking on abortion, best expressed by Ms Dorries herself in today’s Daily Mail: “What got me was the total lack of regard for human life. I have no issue with abortion at the right time. But this is murder."

My letter in this weekend’s Catholic Herald:

It’s misleading to describe SPUC’s approach to abortion law reform as “all or nothing”. (Catholic Herald, Interview, 21st December 2007)

For many years SPUC has pointed out that the Abortion Act 1967, terrible as it is, could be made significantly worse. A careful examination of the recent votes on abortion in the current Parliament shows many more MPs supporting the pro-abortion lobby than the pro-life lobby.

With the numbers stacked against us, it makes no sense at all to add to the calls of the pro-abortion lobby for Parliament to amend the abortion law.

When Parliament last voted on the upper limit for abortion (in 1990), exceptions were included which resulted in the legalisation of abortion up to birth. Leading pro-abortion politicians have since indicated that want abortion to be more widely available. Negotiating any lower limit is likely to involve a trade-off with more exceptions being allowed beyond the limit – up to birth – thus resulting in more abortions taking place.

The beginning of political influence for the pro-life movement in the UK both inside and outside Parliament must be a candidly honest assessment of our political strength. Only after such an assessment, can prudent decisions be made about how to limit the harm of Britain’s abortion legislation.

Thus, along with other pro-life groups, SPUC is working closely with leading pro-life politicians in Northern Ireland who are calling on Gordon Brown to seek to prevent a House of Commons vote extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

It is wrong to say that SPUC does not communicate with other groups.

SPUC has always acknowledged that our lobbying and educational work is not the whole of the pro-life battle. We have encouraged and supported the work of other groups especially in the field of pro-life counselling. We continue to liaise with other organisations through the London-based ‘Choose Life’ committee and in several areas, particularly Scotland, SPUC collaborates with LIFE on education work. Although the national Pro-life Umbrella Committee is not meeting at present, we support its revival.

SPUC fights for the right to life of all unborn children, and works on the basis of a realistic political strategy. It is not an “all or nothing” approach. It’s one which takes into account the real danger of making things worse, as well as the urgent need to devise strategies that will enable us to make progress despite the hostile political climate.

Yours sincerely,

John Smeaton

SPUC national director

Thursday, 6 March 2008

retirement of Rev Dr Ian Paisley

There have been many tributes paid and comments made on the occasion of the announcement of Dr Ian Paisley's retirement as DUP leader and Northern Ireland first minister. Here are my observations:

  • In February 1984 he co-sponsored a motion (along with Rev Ivan Foster) in the Northern Ireland Assembly rejecting the extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. The motion was approved by 20 votes to 1.
  • In autumn 1992 he led a rally in Belfast to oppose the opening of a Brook Advisory Centre in the city. Brook refers for abortions and provides girls under the age of consent with abortifacient birth control drugs and devices.
  • On 20 June 2000 he spoke in the New Northern Ireland Assembly in favour of a motion reiterating the rejection of the Abortion Act saying: "As a public representative, I shall speak for the child today, the child who feels, who can recognise its mother's voice and know pain, who is a member of the human family and who has been given the unique gift of human life. We cannot get away from that."
  • As a member of the House of Commons and an MEP, Dr Paisley has consistently supported the pro-life cause, working with other elected representatives regardless of religious or political differences.
  • He is expected to lead his party's opposition to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

You can read the rest of Dr Paisley's speech quoted above in this transcript of a Northern Ireland Assembly debate. Scroll down a few screens till you reach it.

SPUC's briefing on the
Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill is here as a PDF.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Chinese regime: no end to one child policy

China has denied reports circulated last week in the Western media (Reuters and the Guardian, among others) that China is considering scrapping the one-child policy, according to a domestic newspaper. Beijing News has reported that "[n]ews of abandoning the one-child policy is inconsistent with the facts", quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission describing the reports as “incorrect”. Beijing News, and the Yangcheng Evening News, another state-run newspaper, said that "China will continue to pursue even better its population and family planning policy." [Reuters, 2 March] SPUC warned last week that Western media outlets had misinterpreted misleading comments by Zhao Baige, China's minister in charge of the policy. [SPUC, 28 February] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, comments: "The Chinese Communist regime has played its old trick of soft-talking to the Western media, whilst tough-talking to its oppressed citizens, and yet again the Western media fell for it. Journalists should question the words of a regime that has ordered the killing of millions of unborn children and the torture of their mothers."

Chimp or person?

Mexico's former attorney general and ex-chairman of that country's human rights commission has reportedly said that early unborn children are chimpanzees. Dr Jorge Carpizo McGregor cited scientific discovery as a reason for his opinion. Dr Carpizo's apparent view reminds me of something said by the late Professor Jérôme Lejeune (pictured), the world-renowned geneticist who discovered the cause of Down's syndrome. In testimony to the US senate's judiciary subcommittee, he said: "[I]f at the beginning, just after conception, days before implantation, a single cell was removed from the little berry-looking individual, we could cultivate that cell and examine its chromosomes. If a student, looking at it under the microscope, could not recognize the number, the shape and the banding pattern of these chromosomes, if he was not able to tell safely whether it comes from a chimpanzee being or from a human being, he would fail in his examination." [California Prolife, 2000]

Monday, 3 March 2008

The child’s life which does not haunt Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown spoke movingly the other day about child poverty. Watch him here as he says: “When we allow just one life to be degraded or derailed by early poverty it represents a cost that can never be fully counted. What difference could that child have made? What song will not be written? What flourishing business will not be founded? What classroom will miss out on a teacher who could awaken aspiration? Because just one child’s life wasted haunts us with the thought of what might have been. So this government must end child poverty in this generation.”

You may like to write to him to tell him that exactly the same sentiments could be applied to the unborn and to abortion.

Check here for Gordon Brown’s voting record on abortion. In 1988 and 1990, he voted with the pro-abortion lobby no fewer than 16 times, including three times for abortion up to birth.