Saturday, 22 August 2009

Anencephalic babies need an amnesty

In Brazil, the government's attorney-general has argued in an opinion before the supreme court that women should be allowed to abort anencephalic babies - babies without an upper brain. The Catholic Church and pro-life groups are of course opposing the government's move. SPUC is consulting with colleagues in the region to see what British pro-lifers can do to protect such babies in Brazil. In 1988 Alison Davis of No Less Human wrote a paper for the Journal of Medical Ethics upholding the right to life of anencephalic babies (please email me if you would like a copy). Here are some key extracts from Alison's paper:
  • "Sadly, anencephalics have few people to speak out in defence of their short lives."
  • "I believe that each human life is of infinite value, and since infinity cannot be multiplied or divided, remaining always implicit in its infinity, so too is all human life precious and worthy of protection, no matter how long or short it may be."
  • "Length of life is quite irrelevant to this, and the law on homicide is definite on this point"
  • "If brain stem death is the criterion for other human beings to be accepted as organ donors, anencephalics are being regarded as exceptions to the rule only because they are weaker, which is clearly a political rather than a moral decision. Until their brain stem ceases to function they are no more dead than anyone else in this condition. They are genetically human children"
  • "If human rights depend only on the size of our brains, or whether certain nerves and muscles work, we cross the line very definitely from individual worth to an inevitable and irrevocable linking between 'rights' and 'utility'."
SPUC has been sent the unpublished testimony of a mother of an anencephalic child. Here are some extracts from that testimony:
"[W]hat I would really like to tell is the preciousness of the months that followed up to and including the birth and death of our son.

"We named him immediately [after diagnosis in the womb] and spent the next few months giving him as much love as we could. From day to day, we had no guarantee of how much longer we had with him, so I found myself enjoying the pregnancy in a way I never had before. Where normally I would be counting down the days towards the due date, each day of this pregnancy was a bonus.

"Our son was born on 2 Nov 07 at 10.43pm. He lived for 17 mins. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw him first. Two things struck me overwhelmingly: Love and compassion - love for this little boy who was perfect to me, and compassion at seeing his brokenness. I was grateful to have known of [our son’s] anencaphaly in advance because there was no shock at the time of birth, just the knowledge that this is my limited window of opportunity to love my son.

"The mother is the giver of life to the child in every way. That is what makes being a mother such a dignity. Here is an opportunity to give a child all the love and all the care he or she will ever know in the space of a few months and then let the child move on. For me as a parent there is no greater reward than knowing I gave all I could to [our son] in the short months I had him."
The strength of these arguments and testimony provides yet another reason why SPUC is calling for an Amnesty for Babies before birth - please see and act on my blog-post yesterday.

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Friday, 21 August 2009

New petition launched by Amnesty for Babies

At present the unborn are facing an unprecedented number of threats to their right to life:
What is unknown, or misunderstood, or ignored in all this, is that international law in fact upholds the equal right to life of all unborn children. Interpreted correctly, the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments, either explicitly include, or do not exclude, the unborn from the same full protection given to all other members of the human family.

Considering the growing menace of abortion worldwide, it is time for a new response which aims to ensure that international law is applied correctly in protecting the unborn. Amnesty for Babies is a pro-life initiative to petition to the international community to:
  • ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child before as well as after birth
  • adopt all measures necessary to protect adequately human life and dignity in the application of life sciences.
Please visit the Amnesty for Babies website, download the petition and start gathering signatures. I hope that people in various countries will gather signatures in public places (e.g. high streets, squares), outside houses of worship, among friends etc. National and regional organisations around the world are invited to become co-sponsors of the petition - contact Amnesty for Babies to find out how. The aim is to present the petition to the UN General Assembly next year.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mrs Clinton, it's Lockerbie and worse every day for the unborn

Hillary Clinton, the pro-abortion American secretary of state, is opposing the release from prison of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan convicted of the bombing of an American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Mr Megrahi is dying of cancer. In a press conference (see YouTube video below), Mrs Clinton said:
"I just think it is absolutely wrong to release someone who has been imprisoned based on the evidence about his involvement in such a horrendous crime."
The Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people, was indeed a horrendous crime. Yet more than 3,000 people are killed every day in America in the horrendous crime of abortion, which Mrs Clinton ardently promotes. Because of clever pro-abortion lawyer-politicians like Mrs Clinton, her husband Bill and her boss President Obama, it remains not just Lockerbie but 9/11 for unborn babies in America every day.

(The photo above is from a witness by Oregon State University Right to Life. On the 35th annniversay of Roe v Wade, the group planted 3,000 crosses to highlight the number of unborn babies aborted daily in America.)



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Monday, 17 August 2009

The battle over assisted suicide continues apace

Today's news headlines confirms that there is a battle royal being waged over assisted suicide  across the world. For example , the Wisconsin Medical Society has voted against a motion to move to a neutral position on assisted suicide, at the same time as an Australian with quadraplegia has won the right to starve himself to death. Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff has urged Catholics to opposed moves to allow assisted suicide, and Terry Waite, the former British hostage, has used his experience to explain his opposition to the practice. Proponents of legalised assisted suicide used the example of the American state of Oregon to back up their arguments. They claim that the law in Oregon allowing assisted suicide works well and that palliative care has improved there since the law was passed. Dr David Jeffrey, a British palliative care specialist, has written a new article rejecting those claims. Dr Jeffrey says:
  • "[In Oregon, T]here is no method of investigating any complications which may arise during the process."
  • "[T]here is evidence of patients finding doctors who are willing to participate — ‘doctor shopping’ is the term which has been used to describe this practice."
  • "The experience in Oregon proves that palliative care cannot flourish alongside PAS. The lack of specialised palliative care in Oregon is due in part to their PAS law"
  • "Although PAS is legal in Oregon, there is a deep sense of unease about it within the medical profession, and the practice is not permitted within any hospital in Oregon."
  • "The provision of end-of-life care in Oregon is different from that experienced by patients in the UK. The Oregon experience cannot be claimed to be a valid basis for any change in existing law in the UK."
The ongoing debate about assisted suicide confirms to me that, as long as society remains conflicted about such issues, we have a countless opportunities to uphold the value of human life. It is our duty to take advantage of those opportunities, speaking out before it's too late.

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Sunday, 16 August 2009

Spiritual leaders, human rights campaigners, local pastors of the world please wake up!

Francisco Caamano (pictured right) is Spain's Justice Minister. Last Thursday he said that when it comes to abortion "there is no room for conscientious objection". His words are a wake-up call to the world's spiritual leaders, pastors and human rights campaigners.

Medical leaders and human rights groups in Spain have already spoken out boldly and there's little doubt that the Spanish bishops will follow suit. The Spanish bishops are well known in Europe for their strong defence of the sanctity of human life, saying last year "no Catholic, either in private or public life, can support practices such as abortion, euthanasia or the creation, freezing and manipulation of human embryos in any case".

Francisco Caamano's declaration about conscientious objection to abortion in Spain is chilling. At the same time, it's being reported in the US that the Alliance Defence Fund is taking action on behalf of a nurse whose conscientious objection to abortion was, allegedly, overruled. It's alleged that last May she was "forced by the Mount Sinai Hospital to assist in the abortion of 22-week preborn child despite her longstanding religious objection to participating in lethal abortions". We also know of pressures on nurses occurring in Britain.

These developments are the logical consequence of the anti-life, anti-family policies steadfastly promoted and pursued by Barack Obama, the US president, Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and his wife Cherie Booth (Blair) - as Monsignor Michel Schooyans, one of the Vatican's leading scholars, pointed out earlier this year at a conference in Rome. Monsignor Schooyans, in a masterly analysis, said that we are witnessing "an unprecedented form of political-legal terrorism".

It's not enough to congratulate brave religious and medical leaders for speaking out in defence of human life. In order to withstand the Obama/Blair "political/legal terrorism" described by Monsignor Schooyans, they must be joined by spiritual leaders, local pastors, pro-life leaders and human rights campaigners worldwide.

Thank God, last month, the Vatican came to the rescue of a brave archbishop in Brazil who was looking dangerously isolated following his courageous pastoral work in opposing a universally publicised direct abortion in his diocese.

Church-going pharmacists, doctors and nurses, should be hearing from their local pastors that they have a right and a duty to object in conscience to participating in the provision of abortion, (including "contraceptives" which, according to the manufacturers can cause an early abortion), euthanasia and assisted suicide, and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) which involves the intended death and destruction of countless embryonic human lives.

The greatest pro-life champion of the 20th century was, arguably, Pope John Paul II. He said: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection." (Evangelium Vitae, 73)

The Obama/Blair threat to human life, to natural law, conscientious objection and religious freedom, needs to be met by a worldwide campaign of conscientious objection and resistance to anti-life and anti-family laws policies, led by the spiritual leaders of all denominations, human rights campaigners and local pastors. Pro-life groups simply cannot do it on their own.

Everyone can play a part in building that campaign. And as well as using professional, intellectual and practical gifts, those who believe in God should, I believe, also use their spiritual resources.

A close friend of mine in the pro-life movement loves eating cakes - but he's given up eating them as long as the threat of widening his country's abortion law remains. I propose that others, who share that sort of spiritual outlook, should do something similar.

Spiritual leaders, human rights campaigners, local pastors of the world please wake up!


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