Saturday, 12 July 2008

Dr Tom Ward on Ruth Kelly's "evasion" of moral duty

I blogged recently on Ruth Kelly, a UK cabinet minister, and Clare Curtis Thomas, both of them Catholic MPs, avoiding their responsibility to the unborn.

Dr Tom Ward, a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, provides a balanced and penetrating analysis of Ruth Kelly's apparent position on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (NACF news, 6th July), the report stage of which has now been postponed by the government till the autumn. His letter appears in

Dr Ward writes: " A Catholic does not have the moral right to abstain from voting because such a grave omission is to refuse to protect human life at its most vulnerable. It is grave matter. Furthermore she is now the best known Catholic Member of Parliament in the country and the scandal of her evasion of her moral duty as a legislator will do great damage to the Church."

video of SPUC skydive

Last month I blogged on how Siobhan Fearon, a medical student from Merseyside, did a sponsored 14,000 feet parachute jump for SPUC, both to raise funds and to highlight threats to medics' freedom of conscience. Now, you can see her jump on this YouTube video.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Frank Dobson's astonishing attitude to women and mothers-to-be

Mr Frank Dobson, a former Labour health secretary, made a revealing observation this week when expressing his support for pro-abortion amendments to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. He said: "These amendments would make it easier for not very well informed women to have an abortion."

I asked Margaret Cuthill, a post-abortion counsellor of 20 years' experience, to comment on this and she writes: "The proposed amendments are tantamount to abandoning emotionally vulnerable women at a point of crisis in their lives.

"One amendment would allow the first pill in a chemical abortion to be administered in a doctor's surgery and the woman would then take the other pill at home. This is fraught with danger. The mother would be faced with going through a painful labour and with the possibility of an incomplete abortion. This could require surgery or heavy loss of blood, and could even lead to death. Ms Manon Jones, aged 18, from Caernarfon died after a doctor did not recognise the seriousness of the haemorrhage that the abortion drug had caused.

"Many chemical abortions are performed on girls and women aged under 26, often with their first pregnancy. Such young women will have no idea of what to expect and are not fully informed of the physical risks associated with this procedure. Others are faced with the psychological impact of giving birth to a small but perfectly formed baby.

"I recently had a call from a woman who had used drugs to kill her unborn child and then to cause a miscarriage. She had kept her 14-week baby's tiny body in her fridge for weeks after the abortion. She could not bear to part with it. She had been alone in her hospital room when the baby came away. She was devastated and still is. This lady is just one example of how psychologically damaging this type of abortion experience can be.

"This amendment to the bill presents a dark picture of back street abortion by another name. A woman in a crisis pregnancy, on her own, faces the trauma of the death of her child by her hand. Women deserve better than abortion as the answer to her crisis pregnancy.

"Mr Dobson says: 'These amendments would make it easier for not very well informed women to have an abortion.' Is he suggesting that we keep these women in ignorance? In his own ignorance, he has no idea of the effects of abortion. I would suggest that his concern is definitely not for the woman or her child but for a political agenda that lets down women in a crisis. Politicians like him seem to have no interest in finding out about the plight of women or their families. They seem just to go along with the abortion industry fundamentalists. Their propaganda is that abortion is good for women when, in fact, quite the reverse is true. I know this from the experience of my counselling work."

From despair to hope: The euthanasia petitioner who changed her mind

The story of Seema Sood, who petitioned the president of India for euthanasia, provides evidence of why euthanasia must be unceasingly resisted both politically and, sadly with increasing frequency, by the bedside. See my earlier post Resisting euthanasia at the bedside.

Alison Davis, who has spina bifida, and leads No Less Human, a division within SPUC, says:

"The story of Mrs. Seema Sood explains in a nutshell why allowing legalised killing of vulnerable people by euthanasia is wrong. Mrs. Sood, who is now 37, longed for death two years ago, and even petitioned the President of India for euthanasia. She had lost all movement of her limbs for 15 years following a severe attack of rheumatoid arthritis, and was in despair. Now two years later, after surgery paid for by the Government of her state and her university alumni association, she says 'I regret the letter to the President. Everything was so dark for me ealier, but I'm excited about my mobility now and I'm confident I will improve.'

"Euthanasia would have robbed Mrs. Sood of the chance to recover her love of life, and to benefit from the surgery which revolutionised her life, and no one would have known that life held something better for her in the future. She is not the only vulnerable person who has changed her mind about wanting to die. I've been through the same experience myself.

"But euthanasia allows for no changes of mind. It is the philosophy of despair. What sick and disabled people who want to die really need is the sort of help and support which Mrs. Sood received both from politicians and her friends. Note well, politicians. Your actions could save a life like Mrs. Sood's rather than condemning her and others to death."

And, readers, note also SPUC's service to those who want to protect their loved ones from euthanasia: Patients First Network. By supporting and advising the friends and relatives of patients who are at risk of euthanasia by neglect, Patients First Network is enabling ordinary people to mount a bedside resistance to a premature and distressing death for their loved ones.

Happy Population Day!

The United Nations has declared today to be World Population Day. An organisation which respected the gift of human life and the dignity of the family would celebrate such a day by welcoming the report that Britain's birth rate is at its highest (1.91 children per woman of child-bearing age) since 1973. But the United Nations, in particular the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has created World Population Day as an opportunity to promote abortion and contraception as a means of population control. The organisers of World Population Day should have the honesty to re-name today World Anti-Population Day!

Steve Mosher, an expert colleague of SPUC and the president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), has written a very information piece about World Population Day here. PRI has also written:

"Some will find population decline a cause for celebration. But keep this in mind: The world's population will age rapidly in that time, due to the few births. Most of the world, including its poor nations, will develop the same massive social security and health care problems that increasingly plague fast-aging First World nations in Western Europe and North America as well as Japan. The UNDP [United Nations Development Program] projects the median age of the world will go from 28 today to 38 by 2050. The proportion of the population over 65 will go from 7.4% to 16.1%, the oldest old - those over 80, who cannot work and usually require daily if not constant care from others - will more than triple from 1.3% to 4.3%. That's a big bill for any society. At the same time, the proportion of the population of productive working age, defined as between ages 15 and 64, will go from 64.5% to 63.7%, while the next generation - those under 4 - will go from 9.5% to a crippling 6.7%."

But it's not all doom-and-gloom. Naturally, pro-lifers have, and continue to have, more children than anti-lifers, passing on their message to the next generation. So, population controllers, in the end we will outsmart you by outbreeding you.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Embryo bill postponement gives more time to lobby

Harriet Harman (pictured), the (pro-abortion) Leader of the House of Commons, announced this morning that the report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill will now be postponed until after the summer recess. Speculation about the delay has featured in reports in the Guardian, the Telegraph and in the BBC news.

This delay gives us more time to lobby MPs on the pro-abortion amendments which have been tabled.

The effects of these amendments would include:
  • reducing medical scrutiny of abortion from two doctors to one;

  • abolishing the need for any legal grounds for abortion up to 24 weeks;

  • allowing nurses and midwives to carry out an abortion;

  • extending locations where abortion can take place to include doctors’ surgeries, local health centres, school sick rooms etc.;

  • up to a 2 year prison sentence for any pro-life counselling group which “misled” expectant mothers by its adverts.
Over the summer months SPUC intends to initiate widespread action highlighting the plight of unborn children and their mothers. We will continue to build our campaign against the bill and against the pro-abortion amendments to the bill. SPUC will be urging its supporters and local clergy to contact prospective parliamentary candidates in their constituencies to ask them how they would vote on the pro-abortion amendments if they were in Parliament.

Such amendments, if approved by Parliament, will greatly increase the numbers of abortions, increase the growing number of women harmed by abortion, and place even greater pressure on women to submit to abortion – often under pressure from boyfriends or other parties motivated by self-interest. It is important to make this Bill, and the proposed pro-abortion amendments, an issue for parliamentary candidates at the next general election.

Contact me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk for further information on how to participate in SPUC's vital summer campaign against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. This legislation will have catastrophic consequences in Britain and, without doubt, in other parts of the English-speaking, common-law world.

Progressio - listed as an international/third world Catholic agency - and its pro-abortion partner


Following my post on Progressio, a Catholic aid agency, one of my readers pointed out that Progressio’s partner in El Salvador, Las Dignas, is one of a number of organizations to put its name to a document entitled Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central America. The document takes a somewhat surprising position on the Church’s teachings. (I find I get "You are not authorised to link to this page" message but I have the document for anyone interested and you can find it by googling '"Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central America" Las Dignas')

Its ‘agenda for action’ includes:

“Defence of the Secular State. By persuading the region's governments to stop following the dictates of the most conservative sectors of the [Catholic] church, one of the principal obstacles to more progressive laws and policies would be removed.”

“Abortion. The right of each woman to take decisions about her own body should be a fundamental aspect of advocacy on this issue, in addition to arguments for decriminalisation based on public health and social justice. This includes the possibility of seeking that, in the first place, therapeutic abortion be decriminalised in those places where it is prohibited and that women are guaranteed access to this procedure where it is still legal.”

The document goes on to present a caricature of the Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality: “The churches, especially the Catholic Church, teach that sexuality is something bad, that it should only be exercised in limited circumstances, and that it must be related to reproduction…Women are taught to equate the exercise of sexuality with love and with reproduction, and even to believe that 'sexuality is something dirty and impure, only allowed for men, not for we women who should be clean and pure'. Women, but not men are obliged to accept a formula in which love = sexuality = reproduction = the maximum expression of love. Pleasure has no place in this equation.”

A little further on it states: “It should be emphasised that the church's opposition to abortion is not only due to its much trumpeted position that life begins with conception but also derives from its vision of motherhood as the destiny of all women."

Well, yes, the Church does teach that sexual activity should be loving and open to life. How Las Dignas works out that this renders it ‘something bad’ that should not involve pleasure is rather puzzling. It goes on: “sexual health includes 'the absence of feelings of shame and guilt, of unfounded beliefs and of other psychological factors which inhibit sexual activity or disrupt sexual relations'.” Furthermore, “to enjoy this right, women require information and access to high quality, dignified and efficient medical attention so as to be able to enjoy maternity without risks or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy safely, as well as for the prevention and treatment of infertility.”

The Catholic Church emerges as the enemy in a later discussion of the Millennium Development Goals: “Turning to the effects of religious fundamentalists and conservatives, their influence in international political forums has significantly increased. An important example of their success is how pressure from the Vatican and a small number of conservative governments led to the elimination from the Millennium Development Goals of a goal that would have established that 'all people of appropriate age should have access to reproductive health services by the year 2015 at the latest' even though it was supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and had been adopted in 1996 by the 21 governments that participate in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)." "Reproductive health services" is a term used by UN bodies such as the UNFPA and CEDAW to promote legal access to abortion on demand – and to put pressure on developing countries worldwide to legalise abortion.

It is not just the Catholic Church that is attacked for being pro-life. The document warns: “It should also be noted that the differences between evangelicals and the Catholic Church on these issues are more a question of form than substance. Evangelicals are also very conservative and equally opposed to the decriminalisation of abortion and the recognition of diversity in sexual orientation.”

I repeat what I said in my post last Saturday, how can Progressio canvass for support within the Catholic Church? Indeed why should it continue to be listed as a Catholic organization in the Catholic directory? This scandal must be addressed.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Resisting euthanasia at the bedside

I was very moved to read about a religious brother in the US who describes his experience and insights gained from caring for a brain-damaged member of his community for over 12 years. Brother Paul O'Donnell rejected both medical and church authorities' advice that he should allow Brother Michael to be dehydrated and starved to death.

Brother Paul effectively resisted euthanasia at the bedside of his fellow brother where it was most effective. This is where we need to resist euthanasia. And Patients First Network (logo, right) is doing exactly that. By supporting and advising the friends and relatives of patients who are at risk of euthanasia by neglect, Patients First Network is enabling ordinary people to mount a bedside resistance to a premature and distressing death for their loved ones.

A "coma stimulation programme" was developed by Brother Paul to help Brother Michael, although the doctors poured scorn on this loving care. It is a reality here too, that sick and disabled people are likely only to receive such dignified and individual treatment from friends or relatives, because hospitals have lost sight of this.

Alison Davis of No Less Human (NLH) can testify to this. NLH is a group within SPUC of disabled people and their carers which upholds the right to life and dignity of disabled people. Members of NLH show us all that the critical ingredients needed to look after vulnerable people are love and compassion. Sadly these are in very short supply in our hospitals.

We are going through a difficult time in our country's history with euthanasia by neglect enshrined in law through the Mental Capacity Act. My colleagues and I at SPUC's London headquarters want to speak in localities around Britain to explain how we can re-establish and re-build a campaigning movement which defends the sanctity of human life from conception to the grave. Resisting euthanasia at the bedside and how to go about it through Patients First Network will be one of our most important messages.

Please contact me by emailing johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk to arrange a meeting in your area.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

More abortion won't mend our "broken society"

In the past 6 days, pro-abortion MPs have tabled about a dozen new amendments to the Abortion Act 1967 via the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, to be debated on Monday. More amendments may be tabled in the next few days. Among the latest amendments, one tabled by Labour MP Frank Field would produce a sliding scale for the number of doctors who must authorise any abortion: one doctor for less than 13 weeks, two doctors for between 13 and 24 weeks, and three doctors for greater than 24 weeks. Given that over 90% of abortions occur before 13 weeks, most abortions will no longer be subject to the two-doctor rule. The effect of the amendment is primarily to streamline the majority of abortions taking place under 13 weeks gestation, possibly leading to more abortions.

The Telegraph reports that the amendment has the support of David Cameron, the leader of the Opposition.

David Cameron has been in the headlines today, calling for firm action to mend our "broken society". Mr Cameron said in a speech:

"[W]e're going to be uncompromising in taking on any vested interests or establishment cultural attitudes that stand in our way. ... Social problems are often the consequence of the choices that people make. ... [C]hildren are growing up without boundaries, thinking they can do as they please, and why no adult will intervene to stop them."

So Mr Cameron, why are you compromising with the vested interests and establishment cultural attitudes which promote easy abortion? What about the social problems which are the consequence of abortion - psychological and emotional trauma, relationship breakdowns, suicide and substance abuse? What are you doing to stop secret abortions for children as young as eleven, which parents are powerless to stop?

Catholic MPs avoiding their responsibilities to the unborn

Sometimes it's right and necessary for constituents to remind MPs, not least Catholic MPs, of their responsibilities to the unborn. That's exactly what Mrs Pat MacDonald, a SPUC supporter in Crosby, Liverpool, did recently when she wrote to her MP, Claire Curtis-Thomas (pictured), a Catholic. Mrs MacDonald wrote:

"Dear Claire Curtis-Thomas,

I again urge you to vote against the pro-abortion amendments that are expected to be placed before Parliament on Monday, 14th July. Your comments on May, 20th expressed during the debate are not acceptable for any member, and particularly not for the Vice-Chair Person of the "All Parliamentary Pro-Life Group" - "I am not opposed to abortion. ... I would be happier with 12 weeks - and that's where I stand, let women have the choice". The unborn child has no voice except ours. It is therefore imperative that you vote against any amendments which will make abortion easier to obtain.

The right to life is not for you or I to decide. It is a God-given right that only He can give and take.

Your comments and continued support and membership of "Emily's List" are a major cause of concern. They are a contradiction of the position you hold. If you do not oppose any pro-abortion amendments then you will be culpable and held responsible for your actions, or lack of them.

Yours sincerely, P.E. MacDonald - Mrs"

Mrs Curtis-Thomas replied:

"Thank you for your very rude E Mail. As the vice chair of the Parliamentary Pro Life group I take my responsibilities very seriously! Regards, Claire Curtis-Thomas MP"

Mrs MacDonald has commented to SPUC HQ: "I do not see why Claire Curtis-Thomas considers the truth rude; she persistently refuses to respond to my queries re 'Emily's List'.".

Mrs Curtis-Thomas received a grant from "Emily's List", which helps elect female Labour candidates to Parliament, but only if they are pro-choice i.e. pro-abortion.

If Mrs Curtis-Thomas really took her responsibilities as a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group seriously, she would not have taken offence at Mrs MacDonald's points.

Similarly, another north-west Catholic MP, cabinet minister Ruth Kelly (pictured), is avoiding her responsibility to the unborn, by reportedly arranging with the Prime Minister to be absent on Monday when Parliament again votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

Mrs Curtis-Thomas and Mrs Kelly should be reminded that the Catholic Church teaches that:
  • "Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good." (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Catholics in Political Life", 2004)
What is it about "obligation" and "any law" that Mrs Curtis-Thomas & Mrs Kelly don't understand?

Mrs Curtis-Thomas should resign as a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, and not rejoin the group until she is prepared to take her responsibilities to the unborn seriously, by stating a total opposition to access to legal abortion at any point of pregnancy. Also, Mrs Kelly should resign from the government and campaign against the HFE bill (as well as the government's stem cell research policy, which she endorsed in 2005). The unborn deserve no less. Indeed they are entitled to a lot better.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Top stem cell scientist analyses US presidential candidates' position on the unborn

Dr James L. Sherley, a stem cell biologist in Boston, Massachusetts, examines here the positions of John McCain and Barack Obama on the right to life of the unborn. He concludes: "The clarion credo of the Abolitionists who upended slavery in our great nation must be applied to the unborn: 'None of us are truly free, unless we are all free.' This transformative ideal of human beings must apply to us at all stages of our existence, including embryonic and prenatal, if we want to become the nation of truly free women and truly free men. Hence, we should vote to elect a president who puts principle before political expediency. Now is the time for all Americans to demand that our presidential candidates are men and women of integrity. Now is the time to demand that our presidential candidates make patriotic declarations of independence for everyone by vowing to protect the fundamental right to life of one and all: born, unborn and embryonic."

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Catholic authorities in England and Wales co-operating with government in providing schoolchildren secret access to abortion and contraception

It’s good to see another international conference in Rome coming up on the 40th annversary of Humanae Vitae, entitled "Humanae Vitae, A Topical and Prophetical (sic) Encyclical". It is badly needed, particularly for countries like Britain.

This international congress is important for Catholics and for everybody. It's especially important for the pro-life movement. As I have mentioned before on this blog, the prophecy of Pope Paul VI regarding artificial birth control has been fulfilled in ways that even he did not predict. He wrote:

"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.” (Humanae Vitae 17)

Nowadays in Britain and elsewhere, the Government is "imposing" the use of birth control, including abortion, on families; and the Catholic Church authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with the government in imposing it in England - by welcoming into its schools Connexions whose job it is to make abortion and contraception available to children, without parental knowledge or consent, a point I made last year in an interview with Zenit.

As a father and a grandfather and as a Catholic I can say, without reservation, this is the worst thing that's happened since I got involved in the pro-life fight 34 years ago. By what right do Government and Church authorities rob parents of their God-given right to protect their children from such grave moral harm and from such serious risks to their health? By what right do their rob parents of the right to protect their grandchildren from being aborted?

The "lectio magistralis" is being given by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna (pictured above). Cardinal Caffara is a contributing author to Why Humanae Vitae Was Right, edited by Janet E. Smith, which reproduced, as an article, his keynote address for a conference held in Rome to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. In her introduction to his article, Janet E. Smith writes: "He demonstrates that the use of contraceptives violates the dignity of man since it entails a rejection of the goodness of being...".

Elsewhere, Cardinal Caffara writes about the "intrinsic illicitness" of in-vitro fertilisation since it "establishes between the one performing the fertilisation and the one to be born a relationship of 'production of an object'".

The international congress is also being addressed by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the newly appointed president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.