Friday, 5 September 2008

Bishops preaching the gospel of life

The Catholic bishops of the United States have released a fact-sheet, seeking to correct some common misunderstandings and mispresentations of the Catholic church's teaching on abortion. The fact-sheet has been written specifically "[i]n response to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin". Nancy Pelosi (pictured), the US senate majority leader, has sought to justify her support for legal permission to kill the unborn on the basis of that error. In Britain, Professor Lisa Jardine, the recently-appointed head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has misrepresented Catholic thinking on life, as I blogged recently.

The US bishops' fact-sheet says:

"[M]odern science has not changed the Church’s constant teaching against abortion, but has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo ... [T]o claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights."

It is very heartening for Catholics like myself to know that the US bishops are preaching the gospel of life, and in such such a helpfully factual way.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England, Part Two: Throwing children and families to the wolves

I wrote last week about the terrible betrayal of families and children by the Catholic authorities of England and Wales in relation to their co-operation with British government policy of providing schoolchildren with secret abortions and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices.

I said that it was clear to me that the Catholic Education Service (CES), chaired by Archbishop Vincent Nicols, the archbishop of Birmingham, is at the root of the problem. I said that I would be writing to the CES, as a Catholic father and as national director of SPUC, to raise a number of questions and I asked concerned readers to help me draft my letter – by checking out the links I provided on my post and letting me know their views. (If you’ve not done so, you may like to read what I wrote last week.)

My first question to the CES, quoting from the CES document “The Connexions Service working in Catholic schools in England”, was:

“Why is Connexions ‘a service to be welcomed’ [in Catholic schools and colleges] when it’s clearly a government agency which, amongst other things, refers young people to abortion agencies?”

I have some further questions to include in my letter to the CES in relation to their above document which goes on to state:

“[The Connexions Service] has also caused some concern in our Catholic community because its wide remit to provide advice and guidance to young people includes matters of personal development, and by implication, sex and relationships (SRE) education”.

My question on this is:

“Why do you use the term ‘by implication’ in the statement above in view of Connexions’ absolutely explicit demonstration of their commitment to anti-life sex and relationships education on their website?”

The CES document, above, continues: “These [matters of personal development including sex and relationship education] are the responsibility of the governing bodies of our schools and colleges and there will usually be robust policies to accompany SRE.”

My questions to the CES on this are:

“How robust do you think such policies have to be in order to prevent Connexions advisers from telling schoolchildren that they have a right to access secret abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices – and other services which are contrary to the health and moral welfare of children?

“What form of words does the CES recommend that governing bodies use to ensure that Connexions advisers never advise children about such services?

“Given that Connexions is being welcomed and, thereby, promoted in Catholic schools and colleges, is the CES aware of any robust policies which have been framed so as to ensure that Catholic schoolchildren do not regard the Connexions website – which openly refers to children’s option to choose confidential abortion services – as a useful source of information on such matters?

“The CES says that governing boides of Catholic schools and colleges will “usually” have ‘robust' policies to accompany SRE. This clearly implies that there are some Catholic schools which don’t have ‘robust’ policies in place. Are not the children and families of such schools being thrown to the wolves by the Catholic authorities of England and Wales?”

A friend in high places for the disabled

In her acceptance speech at the Republican national convention, Sarah Palin, the party's nominee for US vice-president, said:

"[I]n April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical. That's how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other... the same challenges and the same joys. Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House."

Considering that in America, as in many other countries, the overwhelming majority of unborn children diagnosed with Down's syndrome are aborted, the totally pro-life Sarah Palin would be a much-needed friend and advocate for them in the White House.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

In Britain, unborn children are treated worse than unwanted dogs

The Telegraph reports that a dog is put down every 80 minutes "for want of a home or because they were ill or aggressive". Clarissa Baldwin, head of the Dog's Trust charity, said that dogs were being treated as "throwaway commodities", adding that "dog ownership is a privilege, not a right."

We should all have a general oncern for animal welfare, and the Dog's Trust concerns are valid. The issue of human abortion is of course outside the remit of the Dog's Trust, but we should remind people that Britain treats unborn children in general far worse than dogs. Whereas one dog is killed every 80 minutes, 30 unborn children are killed in the same period. (What's more, that figure doesn't include the unrecorded abortions caused by abortifacient birth control or those IVF embryos destroyed in laboratory experiments.)

Many of those killings of unborn children occur "for want of a home" - unborn children abandoned by their mothers, often under pressure from others who regard an unexpected child as an undesirable burden. Some of those killings, however, are also on the grounds that certain babies are considered unhealthy or even perceived as aggressors (the idea that an unplanned pregnancy is an attack upon the mother).

No child need be killed for want of a home or because they are disabled, or can be regarded as an aggressor against his or her mother.

It has often been said that the English prefer their dogs to people. Abortion is a sad reflection on humans, who often behave worse towards each other than some of the most aggressive and neglected of animals.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Let's rally around Sarah Palin's family

Sarah Palin, the Republican party's proposed nominee for US vice-president, has announced that Bristol, her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, is pregnant. Sarah Palin is regarded as having a strong and total committment to the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family. Some anti-life commentators have been quick to rush to condemnation. Sarah Sand, an American columnist, has written:

"I have utter contempt for [Bristol's] mother [Sarah] ... Bristol is one year away from legally being an adult, and unfortunately for her she’s fair game ... Bristol has absolutely no choice about having a baby ... But this isn’t about Bristol. It’s about her mother, her mother’s parenting skills, judgment ... Palin is one-hundred percent responsible for putting her nearly adult daughter in the limelight and is to be condemned for it, not us who will talk about it..."

For the anti-life/anti-family lobby, sexual activity is primarily about personal pleasure, and the natural consequence of sex - a child - is such an intolerable imposition that it justifies even homicide. As Ann Furedi (a recent recipient of my George Orwell Prize) of BPAS has written:

"Sex is an accepted part of an adult relationship for which we do not expect to suffer unwanted consequences. Pregnancy is seen by an increasing number of women as an unwanted consequence that they are not prepared to adapt to ... [I]t may be time to understand that, for women, abortion is an essential method of family planning and accept it as such."

I blogged recently about how The Times has been openly promoting abortion as a good solution for teenage pregnancy.

One suspects that the controversy about Bristol Palin's pregnancy is being whipped up by the anti-life lobby via their friends in the media. They believe that having an abortion is the right thing for a teenage mother to do and they don’t want Sarah Palin and her family setting a very different example to the world – including their joyful acceptance of Trig, their Down’s Syndrome son.

I hope that reasonable-minded citizens will continue to rally around the Palin family.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Nothing honourable about Professor Robert Edwards

Alastair MacDonald, the second-ever child to be born by IVF, has called for Professor Robert Edwards, the IVF pioneer, to receive an honour for his work. There is, however, nothing honourable about IVF, which is not treatment for infertiliy but a large-scale experiment abusing and destroying early human life. Prof. Edwards revealed the true nature of IVF in his evidence to a parliamentary committee in 2004. Prof. Edwards said:

"[O]nly 15% of all human eggs will implant. We are in a disaster area here so you have to select the embryos, and we now know how to select them—just to find the 15%." (JS: By "eggs" Prof. Edwards means fertilised eggs i.e. embryos)

As SPUC has pointed out repeatedly, the vast majority of human beings conceived in the laboratory are discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments.

Prof. Edwards also commented about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD):

"When people say PGD is expensive, I always say what is the price of a disabled baby who is born. What is the cost for anyone to bear? That is a terrible price for anybody to bear, and the financial cost is immense. A PGD by comparison is a very small sum of money."

IVF is therefore the route by which the disabled
are killed because they are deemed to cost too much money.

Prof. Edwards revealed more of his true colours when he was asked whether a line can be drawn between embryo experimentation and eugenics. Prof. Edwards replied:

"Again, it depends what we mean by eugenics. Eugenics was started in the 1870s by an English geneticist [Francis Galton] who had the welfare of mankind in his mind. The work became degraded after 1930 caused by the Nazis ...".

Yet it was the work of Francis Galton which was the inspiration for Nazi eugenics. (Wesley J. Smith, a leading American pro-life bioethicist, has commented about Galton's eugenics on his blog Secondhand Smoke).

Prof. Edwards showed the slippery slope in action:

"One of my ambitions is to take a sample of blood and take a white cell in place of a gamete for patients who do not have their own gametes. That would be wonderful and, by the way, that would involve cloning and that is why I do not agree with abandoning cloning either. I think you have to leave your mind open on all these questions. You never know where you are going to be next week! We may find that cloning helps infertile patients.

In response to the committee request to define "embryo", Prof. Edwards said variously:

"[Y]ou have to define human life and I would not like to do that ... I would say that most scientists I know would be very unwilling to define too hard because we understand what we are doing and I can understand what all my colleagues are doing in the advance of research. I am not trying to be unhelpful ... I think the answer is to make your own definition."

This sort of evasive, hazy and self-serving approach would be unacceptable in any other professional field. Imagine a reconnaissance officer who would observe an enemy position and report back: "Well, I wouldn't want to say what type of things I saw ... most of us reconnaissance officers don't like to describe too clearly what we see, we just know instinctively ... I think we should just make it up as we feel." Imagine the general's anger and the subsequent court-martial!

Yet the committee - dominated by some of parliament's most notorious anti-lifers - agreed with Prof. Edwards's approach, which is now reflected in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill! Indeed, this approach is a stock-in-trade tactic of the anti-life movement. Among other times, this tactic was successfully deployed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey case; against SPUC's court challenge on the morning-after pill; and more recently by Barack Obama.

Returning to Prof. Edwards, he is both a deeply disturbing and deeply unimpressive promoter of unethical science, and deserves no honour.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Philippines and backstreet abortion claims published today by AFP in Manila

In a news story today, AFP (Agence France-Presse) promotes the extraordinary claim that there are between 473,000 illegal abortions and 800,000 illegal abortions annually in the Philippines, a country which has a constitutional ban on abortion (and a strong bishops’ conference constantly speaking out against abortion). That would mean that the Philippines has something approaching three times the abortion rate of the UK where virtual abortion on demand has been lawful for over 40 years. (The AFP report appears to be a blatant media effort to promote a "reproductive health" bill which, I reported recently, has totalitarian and coercive elements)

Anyone who’s travelled to the Philippines, as I have on several occasions, and has witnessed first hand the love of the family and the natural abhorrence of abortion in that country, would immediately recognize here the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels [pictured] principle at work: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

Similar outrageous claims about backstreet abortion have recently been made about Northern Ireland, as I’ve blogged recently.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the reported AFP source for the figure of 800,000 illegal abortions, routinely makes unsubstantiated claims about illegal abortions, as Dr Susan Yoshihara has pointed out.

It should be noted that the WHO is one of the world’s major pro-abortion bodies. For example, it encourages the provision of abortion facilities in refugee camps. A document produced by the WHO states that camps should:

“where elective abortion is legal, establish links with an appropriate health care facility (Type II health centre for first trimester, district hospital for first and second trimesters). If no such facility is available, consider training staff on-site in the provision of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) for first-trimester abortion (however, see footnote*) …

“* … Given the particularly sensitive nature of this aspect of reproductive health, it is vital to be aware not only of the legal position within the host country, but also whether there is likely to be violent opposition from within the refugee or displaced community. Opposition to services is looked at in Section A, Chapter 3, and Section C, Chapter 9.”

The source for AFP’s reference to 473,000 induced abortions in the Philippines is the Guttmacher Institute, a body supported by the World Health Organization, the UNFPA, Planned Parenthood of America – and many other major pro-abortion institutions. [The AFP report gives the source as UNFPA]

A more accurate appraisal of the number of abortions in the Philippines can be found in a paper, by Dr. Roberto De Vera of the University of Asia and the Pacific, entitled "An Analysis of the Estimated Figure of induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 as published in a 2006 Guttmacher Institute* report by Susheela Singh et al".

He says:

“In the 2006 Guttmacher Institute report "Unintended Pregnancies and Induced Abortions in the Philippines: Causes and Consequences", Susheela Singh et al estimated that there were 473,000 induced abortions completed in the Philippines in 2000 using a method consisting of three steps. First, based on reports gathered from 2,039 hospitals which contained the top ten leading causes of admission in the 1999-2001 period, they arrived at an estimate of the number of women in 2000 who were hospitalized due to complications from both induced and spontaneous abortions. Second, they calculated the number of women hospitalized for induced abortions by subtracting the estimated number of women hospitalized for spontaneous abortions (or miscarriages) from the estimated number of women hospitalized for induced and spontaneous abortions. Finally, they arrived at the estimated number of women who had induced abortions by multiplying the estimated number of women hospitalized for complications due to induced abortions by 6 to account for the women who had induced abortions who didn't go to the hospital.

“We find that their method overestimates the figure of induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 because of three flaws. These flaws had the effect of 1) overestimating the figure for women hospitalized for spontaneous and induced abortions due to an assumption that is weakly supported by statistical data; 2) underestimating the number of women hospitalized for complications due to spontaneous abortions (or miscarriages) because it mistakenly covers only those women with spontaneous abortions occurring in 12th to 22nd week of pregnancy who were hospitalized for complications; and 3) using a multiplier which most likely is higher than the ratio of the number of women who have induced abortions to the number of women who are hospitalized for complications due to induced abortions.

“Using modified version of the Singh et al methodology (corrected to account for the above flaws), we arrived at an alternative estimate of 25,924 induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 (1.3 abortions per 1,000 women in the reproductive age). Using a second method, we multiplied 0.0117, the share of induced abortions to live births by the number of live births in 2000, to arrive at second estimate of 20,831 induced abortions in the Philippines in 2000 (1.1 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age). We consider these two estimates of induced abortion in the Philippines in 2000 to be more reasonable than the 473,000 estimate (24.5 induced abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age) published in the 2006 Guttmacher Institute report.”

Former abortionist Bernard Nathanson, recently repeated the admission made in his book "Aborting America": "We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions," he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

The deceptions once practiced, but now renounced, by Bernard Nathanson are alive and well in the work of the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization and in today’s AFP report on the Philippines.