Saturday, 23 August 2008

Kenyan Cabinet Minister opposes abortion bill

Esther Murugi (pictured), a Kenyan Cabinet Minster, has strongly opposed the Reproductive Health Bill that will soon be tabled in Parliament, according to Kenya's "Standard".

The Gender and Children Affairs minister is reported as saying: “If that Bill is passed, we are going to see mayhem in this country. We should educate our children on the importance of abstinence and not to legalise abortion, which is murder”.

I blogged earlier this week on the bill. It contains coercive elements, legalises virtual abortion on demand and leaves virtually no safeguards whatsoever for unborn children.

The Minister complained that the bill borrows from western culture saying that it would ensure the provision of contraceptives to children as young as ten.

Friday, 22 August 2008

The second George Orwell Prize: the way pro-life people are portrayed

Readers may recall that I’ve started awarding regular George Orwell Prizes to abortion promoters and/or providers who make the most misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements.

I began my search for a winner this time by taking a little excursion across the Atlantic, to see how American pro-abortionists portray their opponents. Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire makes for interesting reading in the way it misleads women about issues such as post-abortion trauma, particularly since the most important evidence of its reality is women who’ve had abortions themselves.

However, far more damning was what Teenwire had to say about crisis pregnancy centres that offer women alternatives to abortion and which give women the information about the development of the unborn child that abortion facilities don’t tend to be too forthcoming about.

“Women are often lured into CPCs only to find that the staff members usually have no professional training and the environment is filled with inaccurate, anti-choice information.”

It is ironic to see pro-life organisations being accused of inaccuracy by an organisation which claims on its website that the unborn child does not become a baby until birth, but it is the word "lured" that is most insidious, implying criminal activity, manipulation and entirely sinister motives. It goes on:

“It's common for CPCs to use misleading films, ultrasound pictures, and written materials to scare and emotionally manipulate women into continuing their pregnancies. By presenting women with false information about abortion and the development of the fetus, CPCs threaten women's abilities to make informed choices.”

The sight of a tiny baby on an ultrasound scan does indeed have a tendency to make a big emotional impression on a woman but the pro-life movement did not create the reality of an unborn child’s humanity in order to irritate the abortion lobby. The facts speak for themselves.

Back in Britain, the Family Planning Association (FPA) very nearly scooped this issue’s Orwell Prize for its blatant attempts at manipulating young people in its ‘Abortion: Just so you know’ cartoon leaflet. Needless to say, abortion is portrayed as an entirely sensible and morally acceptable option and backstreet abortion is used as the major reason why abortion should be legal, even though this argument has long been shown to have no foundation. In the FPA leaflet, people who oppose abortion are portrayed as uniformly male, spouting quasi-religious clich├ęs. Pro-life doctors who courageously refuse to involve themselves with abortion are depicted as heartless. “Most NHS doctors are sympathetic to women considering abortion” but, we are informed, “doctors who oppose abortion can refuse to help.” The fact that an increasing number of doctors do not regard themselves as "helping" anyone by signing an abortion form is not mentioned. Incidentally, the Brook Advisory Service uses the same emotive approach to doctors who object to abortion:

“Doctors who have a moral objection to abortion should make this clear to any patient who asks them for help. They should also arrange for them to see someone else who would be prepared to help.”

But once again, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) pips the others to the post… well, almost. Ann Furedi (pictured), the chief executive of BPAS, wins the Orwell Prize in a personal capacity, for a hysterical and insulting outburst against the ProLife Alliance in 2001 which remains unrivalled in spite of the best attempts by other pro-abortion fundamentalists to stoop a little lower. According to Furedi, prolifers are "vile scum", not to mention "dishonest, manipulative, irrational, ignorant fanatics who patronise women." When questioned about the article she wrote for Spiked online magazine, she told the BBC that she stood by "every word" and thought she had been "quite moderate". Oh well, why engage in rational debate when you can just spit poison at your opponents?

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Eugenics and coercion in Kenyan abortion bill

In a recent blog I reported on the draft Reproductive Health and Rights bill in Kenya, denounced by John Cardinal Njue as "an affront… to the integrity of the human being" as well as a socio-economic threat to Kenya’s future; and on Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki saying “he saw no reason, now, or in the future, why anyone would want to legalize abortion in Kenya”.

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) has prepared on SPUC's behalf a commentary on the new bill which you can find here.

The bill, if passed, will promote and allow easy access to abortion on demand, with virtually no safeguards to protect unborn children.

Under the subtle guise of "reproductive rights" language, the bill declares "safe and accessible abortion-related care" as a reproductive right. Abortion can be permitted provided that “the continued pregnancy would pose a risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health”. This will, in effect, allow abortions on demand. Notably, this clause avoids using the term "substantial risk" (common to abortion legislation) and consequently may be used as grounds for abortion in any circumstance, given that all pregnancies carry at least a minor risk of harm.

The bill goes on to list specific circumstances where an abortion is easily available, discriminating against unborn children conceived in specific circumstances. These include:
  • those conceived through sexual violence or incest (a statement from the mother alone will be taken as proof of sexual assault);
  • those at risk of "severe physical or mental abnormality" (thus deepening worldwide lethal prejudice against the disabled whom the state has a special duty to protect);
  • those facing "extreme social deprivation" (a term which is not defined, which could be interpreted very broadly within Kenya and which will increase eugenic discrimination against those living and attempting to raise children in poverty);
  • those resulting from contraceptive failure (which deems unborn human life disposable and discards any notion of individual responsibility for sexual behaviour. It is utterly implausible that the courts could or would determine whether contraception had actually been used in a specific instance.)
Access to abortion would also be made easily available to minors without any legal requirement of parental knowledge or consent. This would be a clear abuse of power by the state, overriding parental rights despite their primary responsibility and input into the child’s welfare.

Further evidence of potential state abuse can be seen in a clause permitting abortion for “mentally disordered” persons. Such women would lack the capacity to consent and, while consultation with the woman’s guardian is required, the bill leaves open the dangerous possibility that the state may be able to enforce an abortion without the consent of the mother or her family.

The bill, if passed, will comprehensively undermine the sanctity of human life from conception, as well as neglect the interests of those in Kenya who seek to uphold the value and dignity of human life. Like the reproductive health bill in the Philippines, the bill aims to prevent true conscientious objection among health care service providers, by ensuring that those who object are legally required immediately to refer a patient to another practitioner who will provide an abortion. Conscientious objectors will thus be forced to be complicit with the unethical practice of others.

The draft bill, like in the Philippines, has worryingly totalitarian overtones that will deny freedom of conscience to those who oppose its obviously pro-abortion agenda.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Prayer and fasting initiative begins today

Earlier this month I blogged about an initiative launched in Northern Ireland - praying and fasting for 40 days to protect Northern Ireland from the British Abortion Act. The proposed period for this intiative is from today and it finishes on 4th October (excluding Sundays).

It was Liam Gibson’s idea (SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer) and he wrote a paper on the biblical background to the project making a number of practical suggestions about both fasting and praying.

For example, he points out that fasting can include: Abstaining from certain foods, such as meat or a favourite food; Going without milk or sugar in tea and coffee, or giving up tea or coffee themselves; Fasting from all food and drink (except water) for a 24 hour period (This may be more demanding but is not difficult for anyone in good health, providing it does not conflict with work or family commitments); Going without television etc

And Liam has many simple, practical suggestions about prayer in the above paper.

I'm a campaigner but I also believe in prayer. I believe that the dangers of the evils proposed in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - and now the terrible threat posed by extreme pro-abortion amendments at report stage in October - are so great, all believers should be begging God to spare both Northern Ireland and Britain. Let those who believe like me that there are certain evils which are so great they can only be overcome by fasting and prayer consider joining in this initiative in a way that is appropriate and achievable in the light of our work and family commitments.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Times and blatant bias on life issues

The Times was once regarded as the UK's newspaper of record, a serious publication with high standards of journalism ... but those standards, in recent years, have slipped .

As a daily reader I could give many examples, but the newspaper's blatant bias on life issues is one of the most flagrant.

Yesterday, a full-page, public-opinion-forming, spread of reportage and commentary, headlined "Abortion does not harm mental health, says study" presented an American Psychological Association review as significant, authoritative research into the effects of abortion. The fact that this study has been shown (see my post yesterday), on the basis of good evidence, to be fundamentally flawed, is completely ignored. To add insult to injury, Nigel Hawkes writes dismissively in a short commentary piece : "Anti-abortionists would like us to believe that women who have abortions suffer lifelong regrets ... The bulk of the best available evidence suggests that a single abortion does not carry psychological hazards greater than does a single pregnancy ... " - again completely ignoring evidence to the contrary.

The Times report makes great play of the fact that there are impending votes in Parliament on abortion and that the American Psychological Association review [and their spin on it!] will influence "uncommitted" MPs.

Pro-life lobbyists and readers of this blog may recall that there was a similar situation back in June . Evan Harris MP had tabled extremely damaging amendments to the Abortion Act via the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - to de-restrict abortions up to 24 weeks, and to empower midwives and nurses to perform abortion. Everyone expected the debate on these amendments to take place in July - until the government suddenly postponed the report stage of the Bill.

Lo and behold: The Times, on Friday, 20th June and Saturday, 21st June, carried no less than six stories on abortion, all of them clearly presenting a pro-abortion position with little or no comment from anyone who disagreed.

They included 'Rise in teen abortions prompts calls for reform of sex education' a story about the latest abortion statistics which completely ignored evidence that the government's style of sex education has completely failed, as Professor David Paton has shown.

Then there was "The ones I worry about are those who have the baby", featuring an interview with abortionist John Parsons, a director of BPAS. Not only does the story present abortion as an inviolable moral right which has no consequences worth mentioning, but Mr Parsons says, completely unchallenged: "It is not in the interests of any child to have a 16-year-old mother." (This is another way of saying that it is better to be dead than have a teenage mother, something which feminist author Germaine Greer, amongst many others, disagree with.)

Another article called secret abortions 'common sense'.

Then there was a particularly callous article from Caitlin Moran who showed no concern for the future mental health of the mother, let alone the unborn child. Whilst acknowledging that abortion causes problems that are, "emotional, social and [a] risk to future reproductive health", she says this "has an impact solely on the women having these abortions". What kind of editorial policy at The Times allows this kind of assertion to go unchallenged when there is so much important research to the contrary?

For my part, I acknowledge that in today's Times there's a sincere piece by their columnist Melanie McDonagh who makes a plea for women to be told that their baby is human and about the risks of abortion to their mental health. But, sadly, her column has far less impact than yesterday's full-page news reportage - because of its relative size, its positioning on a page headlined "Opinion", compared with yesterday's story which is written by the newspaper's science editor, and finally, because Melanie McDonagh suggests that objective research on the effects of abortion does not exist - which is saying to Times readers ... "This is my opinion - pure and simple - but it's by no means authoritative" - which is definitely not the message sent to the readers by the writers of yesterday's report on the American Psychological Association's review.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Mental health risk of abortion wrongly denied

A member of the American Psychological Association has criticised that organisation's survey of the effects of abortion on women's mental health, saying it is politically motivated and bad science. The project concluded that early abortion did not increase the likelihood of significant mental problems.

Dr Rachel M MacNair, research director for Consistent Life, Missouri, and an official reviewer of the report, points out that the task force's conclusion was based on a single British study. Furthermore, that research actually found a higher incidence of drug overdose among women who had had abortions.

Dr MacNair writes: "'[S]cience' means what the [association] says it means, rather than what those of us trained in a university might have been taught. … [C]iting only one study in support of a politically-desired conclusion cannot be explained in any other way than a politically-motivated exercise."

Dr MacNair and Consistent Life wrote to leading association members expressing concern, as did others. She was also allowed briefly to address a meeting of the association's council earlier this month, voicing her concerns about the flimsy basis for the report's conclusion. She received no response then or since.

She makes the point that, if the association can base its view on a single study, it would only take another solitary piece of research to reverse it. She says, however: "[T]hat would be [making] the assumption that [the association] was actually interested in keeping up with real science, an assumption for which at this point I have no evidence."

During the review process, at least some of Dr MacNair's input on some matters was omitted. Professor David Fergusson of Otago University, New Zealand, who was also a reviewer of the report, agreed with Dr MacNair about the poor quality of science. He reportedly calls himself an "atheist pro-choicer". Dr Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, Ohio, also broadly concurred about the poor science.

Dr MacNair says there was no general call for nominations to the task force. Instead, the division responsible for women's psychology simply had their choices for membership approved by the council. By the time Dr MacNair was aware of who was in the group, it was too late for nominations.

Consistent Life wrote to the council pointing out that three members of the task force were outspoken defenders of abortion while the other three had made no statements of positions. There was no reply received from any members of the council.

What Dr MacNair described as a "grotesque caricature of pro-lifers" was removed at draft stage.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

The pro-life movement needs a clear direction

How can we move forward in the pro-life movement? This is a key question. A clear direction is needed and we must make the very best use of our resources – that is, pro-life people.

Two specific areas on which SPUC is focusing are schools and hospitals. In schools, every time parents voice their concern to schools authorities about explicit sex education and sexual health clinics on the schools premises they are resisting government policy. Every teacher, who refuses to participate in anti-life lessons, is striking a blow against the government.

In hospitals, every time a friend or relative questions doctors carefully about the treatment of a loved one, they are challenging the culture of euthanasia.

SPUC has developed two campaigns to push forward the resistance movement on which I’ve blogged in the last couple of days. Safe at School supports and advises a parents and teachers. Patients First Network supports and advises those trying to defend a loved one at risk from euthanasia.

SPUC’s biggest resource in this great undertaking is pro-life people. Will you order two or three copies of our new Safe at School leaflet and of our new Patients First Network leaflet. You will know someone you can give these to and help spread the resistance movement. We also need you to organise a group – no matter how large or small - to whom we can come and talk about these campaigns.

Next month I’m speaking about building a pro-life resistance movement and about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in Uxbridge (1st September), Newport (10th September), Leyland (15th September), Bedford (17th September), and Rotherham (24th September).

And at the SPUC national conference in Derbyshire from 5th – 7th (Friday to Sunday) next month, building the pro-life resistance movement will be a major theme. You can find a booking-form here.

To order leaflets contact lizfoody@spuc.org.uk and for help in organising a local meeting telephone Tony Mullett on 01772 258580