Saturday, 28 February 2009

Abortion: there's no alternative according to British Government

In the British Government's dictionary "options" appears to mean "the complete lack of any other alternatives on offer" when it comes to abortion.

My thanks to Pauline Gateley for drawing my attention to a National Health Service webpage entitled: "Abortion: know your options" (complete with the perfectly-crafted image of the caring doctor pictured above). The sub-heading is "If you're pregnant and considering an abortion, here are some facts you need to know".

To "consider", according to my on-line dictionary, means "to think carefully about", whereas the Government's dictionary appears to define "considering" as "planning on" in the context of abortion. Judge for yourself:

The NHS webpage begins: "How do I get an abortion?". Then, with no reference whatsoever to counselling, never mind the possible alternatives to abortion, the government replies "Either your GP or a community contraceptive clinic can refer you for an abortion that’s free on the NHS ... Or if you’re a teenager, there are teenage drop-in clinics and Connexions centres that can put you in touch with the right services." It goes on to recommend the FPA, Brook Advisory Centres, the British Pregnancy Advisory Centres, and Marie Stopes - which have a record of making misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements about what abortion involves or of denying the right of pro-life doctors to refuse to refer women to another doctor who will help them to get an abortion.

Under another headline "What are my options?" the government webpage continues: "It largely depends on how far into the pregnancy you are. A doctor can talk you through the different methods available" - Again, there's not the slightest reference to the option of keeping the baby. "Options" here means the different methods available for killing the baby.

The possibility that a mother-to-be might encounter a doctor who considers she has no grounds for abortion is, for the government, simply an obstacle to be overcome in favour of an abortion. The webpage reads: "A doctor may have moral objections to abortion, but if that’s the case they should refer you to another doctor who can help."

And just in case children are worried that their "option" for abortion might be hindered by a concerned parent, the Government says: " ... all information is kept confidential and nobody else will know about it, not even your partner or parents. You can also ask the hospital or clinic not to inform your GP. And if you’re under 16, your doctor doesn’t have to mention it to your parents".

At the very bottom of the webpage we read: "Can I get any counselling before or afterwards?" Note that the government's response takes it for granted that the only option being considered is abortion:

"Most abortion services offer counselling if you feel you need help with any worries or feelings you're having. It's normal to experience a range of emotions after an abortion, such as relief, sadness, happiness or feelings of loss. Each woman is unique. Ask your GP or family planning doctor, or ask the doctor at the hospital or clinic, to find out what support is available in your area."

As Pauline Gateley said to me - it's a disgrace. Why not write to your MP about it? Let me know what your MP says. The Government is pushing worried mothers-to-be, including young teenage girls, on to the abortion conveyor belt. Abortion is a tragedy in which a woman loses her child in a procedure which puts her health, both physical and mental, at risk. But any facts about abortion which might point in the direction of keeping the baby are being denied to women and young girls on an NHS abortion webpage insultingly headlined: " ... here are some facts you need to know".

For a paper on the effects of abortion, prepared by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, , write to me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Friday, 27 February 2009

Obama régime is deferential to China

Just at the time when the US State Department reports that China's human rights abuses are worsening, citing
"repression last year in Tibet and Xinjiang, restricting dissent and religious freedom"
Barack Obama's brave new world has shown where its priorities lie - and they are not with the victims of repression.

Hillary Clinton, Obama's secretary of state, says:
“We have to continue to press them, but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate-change crisis and the security crises. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and co-operation on each of those.”
US Congressman Chris Smith (right) puts it well when he says that Hillary Clinton's comments are
“a shocking display of pandering”
and that the Obama administration
“has chosen to peddle U.S. debt to the largest dictatorship in the world over combating torture, forced abortion, forced labor, religious persecution, human sex trafficking, gendercide, and genocide” according to EWTN news.

“Secretary Clinton said concern for the protection of human rights of the Chinese people can’t ‘interfere’ with the economic crisis, climate change, and security – as if human rights were somehow disconnected and irrelevant to those issues,” Congressman Chris Smith said.

Congressman Smith reminds us that, when Colin Powell (a supporter of abortion) was Secretary of State, the US State Department verified the pro-life Population Research Institute’s allegations that the UNFPA was cooperating with coercive abortion programme in China.

“UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion,” Powell said in a July 21, 2002 letter to Congress.

As I write this, I read that the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives is blocking debate of Mr Smith's pro-life amendments to President Obama's economic package. Mr Smith's proposals would stop government money from going overseas to pay for abortion (including forced abortion) and forced sterilisation.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

"More cash for contraception" not the answer says teenage mum

Kizzy Neal from Devon (pictured with her son Kaylib) became pregnant just before her fourteenth birthday. Her son Kaylib is now 22 months old. Kizzy and her parents feel strongly that the sex education at Paignton Community College, which she attended at the time, did not help her to resist becoming sexually active at such a young age.

So what does Kizzy think about the announcement* today headlined "More Cash for Contraception", which is the Government's response to the rising rate of teenage pregnancies - to 41.9 conceptions per 1,000 15 to 17 year-olds, from 40.9 the year before (also announced today)? (*An extra £20.5 million will help young people get better access to contraception and support for teenagers and raise the awareness of the risks of unprotected sex, according to Dawn Primarolo MP, Public Health Minister, and Beverley Hughes MP, Young People’s Minister.)

Kizzy said, " ... As soon as I got into Year 7 we had this big introduction to sex education and it just went on from there. They told us not to have sex, but were pushing condoms and contraception at us."

Kizzy's school also has a sexual health clinic, called Tic-Tac (Teenage information centre - Teenage advice centre). Both Kizzy and her parents blame the clinic for creating a culture of sexual activity in the school.

Kizzy said, "With the sex education and Tic-Tac you just got caught up in the whole thing of having sex. We got used to it. We thought it was just a joke really."

The government's announcement of a further £20.5 million pounds in support of their failed teenage pregnancy strategy follows their announcement two weeks ago to give bonuses to doctors to give contraceptive implants and jabs to teenage girls.

Sadly, the government will ignore Kizzy's eloquent testimony just as they ignore the soaring rate of sexually transmitted infections and the clear published evidence that "family planning" drugs and devices, and increased access to it, increases the likelihood that teenagers will indulge in sexual activity. (Professor David Paton's paper "The economics of family planning and underage conceptions" is not available free online, but if you would like a copy please contact me.) The Government cares no more about young people than it does about their unborn children.

Enough's enough. To join SPUC's leafleting and petition campaign against the government's sex education strategy - establishing school based health and sex clinics in all secondary schools - contact johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Discrimination in favour of physical beauty and economics are driving eugenics

Pope Benedict, speaking over the weekend to the assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, provides an interesting analysis of modern eugenics - an analysis which finds support in a paper in the latest edition of Quadrant magazine, the "leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia", as the magazine describes itself.

Pope Benedict said:
" ... The disapproval of eugenics used with violence by a regime, as the fruit of the hatred of a race or group, is so rooted in consciences that it found a formal expression in the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights.' Despite this, there are appearing in our days troubling manifestations of this hateful practice, which present themselves with different traits. Certainly ideological and racist eugenics, which in the past humiliated man and provoked untold suffering, are not again being proposed. But a new mentality is insinuating itself that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights. There is thus a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable ...

" ... It is necessary, on the contrary, to consolidate a culture of hospitality and love that concretely testifies to solidarity with those who suffer, razing the barriers that society often erects, discriminating against those who are disabled and affected by pathologies, or worse - selecting and rejecting in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection. If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the first stage of development, that would mean that biotechnologies would surrender to the will of the stronger. Confidence in science cannot forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake."
Pope Benedict's thesis - that notions of physical perfection and beauty are factors driving medical killings of disabled babies - finds support in a paper entitled "Prenatal Diagnosis - Benefit or Betrayal" in the current edition of The Quadrant, by Dr Deirdre Therese Little, MBBS, DRANZCOG, FACRRM, the President of the organisation Obstetricians Who Respect the Hippocratic Oath. Dr Little writes:
"White pearls and white clothing, a genteel face softly made up, a thoughtful expression and fashionably controlled hair were the images chosen in 2000 to promote prenatal testing for 'Down Syndrome and other Chromosomal Abnormalities' to pregnant mothers. Representations of respectability and good order, maturity and beauty with a hint of purity adorn he promotional pamphlet. The desirability and acceptability of combining prenatal screening programs with antenatal care would seem beyond doubt in a well-ordered society, since they are investigations purchased by the socially responsible and respectable gentlefolk. Advertisers know how to wrap merchandise. No untoward displays of colour here, certainly no tattoos, no nose piercings—nothing unseemly disturbs the suitability of what this pamphlet is proposing to mothers—and yet, the murkiest tattoo, the ugliest nose ring would be less distorting than what this portrait of motherhood is selling ... "
Dr Little's paper also provides clear evidence of another theme explored at the Pontifical Academy for Life Conference last weekend, highlighted by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy - namely the economic forces which lie behind the killing of the disabled. Dr Little writes:
"A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on March 5, 2007, reported on declining rates of Down syndrome births in the private and urban sector but not in the public or rural sectors, according to Queensland researchers. Immediate indignation followed. A senior lecturer in maternal-foetal medicine at the University of New South Wales likened the findings to a disparity in the quality of cancer care. The Medical Journal ofAustralia concluded that recent economic analyses have shown that population-based screening probably represents value for money. When the costs of screening are offset against the life-time costs of caring for a person with Down syndrome, screening is less costly than no screening at all regardless of which screening strategy is used."
Exactly the same kind of arguments have been used in Britain to justify killing the disabled before birth, as Alison Davis, the leader of No Less Human, the UK disability rights' group, has pointed out.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Abortion: the tragedy disguised as a woman's right

I reported last week on how the majority of GPs are reported to oppose early medical abortions.

The tragic story of Manon Jones in today's Daily Mail suggests, perhaps, why doctors take such a view.

Is the apparent increase in the proportion of doctors opposing abortion an indication that society is reawakening to the fact that abortion is a horror both for mothers and for their unborn babies? The irony is that RU486 used away from a hospital or clinic will focus the horror upon women in the usually safe haven that is home.

For example, the mother of Manon Jones [Manon completed her abortion in hospital] made the following statement: "She was scared and I tried to reassure her. It was a very emotional experience for us both to witness her pass her baby and my grandchild into the bedpan."

The story of Manon Jones is also a reminder of the well-researched and well-referenced report of the US House of Representatives which showed how the approval process for RU486 in the US and the standard of care for women who may use it is lower than that for other pharmaceuticals. The report also highlights significant uncertainty surrounding the actual extent of adverse events occurring with RU486. If anything, the likelihood is that adverse events are significantly under-reported.

The comments from Dr Trevor Stammers, the chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship, in today’s Daily Mail story raises exactly the sames questions regarding the situation in Britain.

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, advisers to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, sent me the following comment on the questions behind Manon Jones's tragic story:
"One question that must be considered is this: why is a lower standard of care apparently being accepted in the case of RU486? Perhaps pregnant women seeking abortion are themselves prepared to accept higher risks in order to attempt to return life back to how it was before pregnancy.

"It is critical to recognise the desperation of women who are shocked by a pregnancy in adverse circumstances, and the attraction of the idea of a simple pill to make it all go away must not be underestimated. Such an idea is likely to be the vision that RU486 advocates have – that eventually the medical community will succeed in finding the right way to administer this magic pill, and then women will have control over their lives. This, of course, is wildly erroneous for a host of reasons.

"The zeal for RU486, despite its dangers, hints also at the dissatisfaction with surgical abortion which is often a traumatic experience. As some pro-life feminists like to say, 'been there, done that, hated it.' There are many aspects of surgical abortion that are horrible and many women will probably accept higher risk to avoid such an invasive, humiliating procedure. But it will be replaced by other traumatic experiences, perhaps even more so."
Pro-abortion advocates may argue that such experiences are a necessary part of the journey towards women’s liberation from the tyranny of fertility. Such a utilitarian perspective accepts the ‘collateral damage’ to women’s lives and health for the eventual progress of the whole.

So the real questions that bubble away under the surface are these:
  • Why are government authorities willing to accept sub-standard care for women in the case of abortion?
  • Why are an increasing number of doctors reported to be opposing abortion?
The answers to these questions have their roots in the reality that abortion is a moral and personal tragedy disguised as a woman’s right and privilege. The simple yet harsh reality of that tragedy is that the woman loses her own child in a procedure which puts her health, both physical and mental, at risk. For a paper, prepared by Southern Cross Bioethics Institute for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, on the effects of abortion, write to me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

I give the last word to Margaret Cuthill, a post-abortion counsellor of 20 years' experience, national co-ordinator of British Victims of Abortion, who has frequently spoken out about her own abortion experiences.
"The nature of the RU486 procedure allows the medics to step back from performing abortions. This opens the way to allow specialist nurses to process the women, although the medics must prescribe the drugs. RU486 is a brutal procedure, from the perspective that vulnerable women are ignorant of the risks and the emotional trauma they may experience. They don’t know the questions to ask and believe they are being given all the information they need.

"As a counsellor, I have had to counsel the RU486 women over the trauma of the procedure before we could begin looking at the impact of the loss of the child. One woman thought she was bleeding to death but had been told the blood loss would be similar to a heavy period; another bled for 8 weeks after the procedure. Another was told that, because the tissue left after the procedure was small, they would let her bleed until it came away by itself. The other area where medics are ignorant of the risks of RU486, are those in the emergency departments of local hospitals, as highlighted in the death of Manon Jones."

Euthanasia and assisted suicide represent a culture of abandonment

Last night Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, attended a meeting held by ALERT, headed by Elspeth Chowdharay-Best, a redoubtable pro-life veteran who was one of the founders of SPUC. The meeting's guest speaker was Wesley J. Smith (pictured), one of the world's leading anti-euthanasia experts. Anthony draws attention to the following points in Wesley's talk:
  • it is ironic that the euthanasia and assisted suicide are being promoted at a time in history when palliative care is highly advanced
  • the anti-euthanasia activism of disability rights campaigners gives the lie to the accusation that the anti-euthanasia campaign is really a religious agenda
  • euthanasia and assisted suicide represent "a culture of abandoment"
  • it is noticeable that there are fewer suicide prevention hotlines
  • cited pro-euthanasia broadcaster Jenni Murray who is reported to have said that she "does not want to look after her sick and aging mother"; Mr Smith labelled this an example of today's "abandonment society"
  • most of the people whose suicide was assisted by Jack Kevorkian had no physical ailment
  • there is "suicide tourism to Switzerland"
  • doctors who agree to assist suicide generally don't care if patient can be treated.
  • the film Million Dollar Baby sends a message that people like Daniel James were right to kill themselves, a message of abandonment.
  • the concept of a right to choose the time, manner and place of one's death is ideological, not a real human or civil right
  • the two premises of euthanasia and assisted suicide are (1) radical individualism and (2) killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering
  • there is "doctor-shopping" and "Kevorkianism" in Oregon
  • 70%-80% of assised suicides in Oregon are facilitated by the Hemlock Society.
  • the supposed safeguards on the assisted suicide law in Oregon are violated with impunity, and the safeguards are in reality all smoke-and-mirrors
  • there are 900 cases of euthanasia without request or consent in the Netherlands every year, plus 80-90 cases of infanticide (eight percent of all deaths of born children)

Monday, 23 February 2009

SPUC petitions against access to abortion through schools

British government advice reportedly tells parents not to say to their teenage children that having sex is wrong. Ms Beverley Hughes MP, children's minister (pictured right with some condoms), says parents should advocate birth control to their sons and daughters, and the government explained she included 13-year-olds (who are under the age of consent). Such advice will be in Talking to your Teenager About Sex and Relationships, a pamphlet available from pharmacists from Thursday-week (5 March). Dr Patricia Morgan, the British-based social researcher, says young people do heed their parents when they say they disapprove of underage sex.

The government's teenage pregnancy strategy is failing yet here we have ministers telling parents to give value-free sex education and even to go with their under-age daughters to the GP's surgery to get birth control. Even worse, schools are being used to promote access to abortion without parental involvement.

SPUC is launching a petition to the prime minister on such access to abortion through schools. The preamble to the petition points out that the government is:
  • establishing school based health and sex clinics in all secondary schools

  • giving school nurses and advisors (such as Connexions ‘personal advisors’) a clear remit to refer for abortions without informing parents

  • insisting that information on how to get an abortion is included in sex education lessons – and making these lessons compulsory for all children.
The main message of the petition is: "We the undersigned call upon the Prime Minister to stop schools being used to promote or facilitate abortion."

SPUC has produced a flyer about the petition and you can request a copy of the petition to sign by emailing johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk.