Saturday, 5 June 2010

Furious Polish diplomats are fighting to defend Poland's restrictive abortion legislation

A huge attack on Poland's restrictive abortion legislation has been launched by United Nations officials at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

"Polish diplomats in Geneva are furious," Pat Buckley (pictured) tells me. (Pat is in Geneva lobbying in Geneva on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children at the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council.) "Monday's session promises to be lively," he says.

Pat reports:
"The 14th session of the Human Rights Council currently meeting in Geneva considered (on Friday, 4th June) the report submitted by Mr. Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

"Annexe 3 of Mr. Grover’s report consists of a report on his visit to Poland and in the main consists of a radical and comprehensive attack on Poland’s pro-life position on access to abortion, conscientious objection, contraception and sex education."
Mr Grover complained in his report that Poland remains one of the few European countries that significantly restrict women’s access to abortion, citing Malta and Ireland where the law also provides protection for unborn children.

Typically of pro-abortion officials, Mr Grover sought, mendaciously, to advance his attack on Polish legislation by suggesting that expert, specialized, bodies of international opinion were worried about the consequences of Poland's restrictive abortion law - when these bodies are, in reality, the most powerful pro-abortion campaigning groups in the world. Pat reports:
"Mr Grover said that in 2007 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) voiced concern in relation to Poland’s obligations under article 12 of the Convention (on women’s equal right to access health-care services) and specifically called for 'concrete measures to enhance women’s access to health care, in particular to sexual and reproductive health services, including: research on the scope, causes and consequences of illegal abortion and its impact on women’s health and life; measures to ensure women’s access to legal abortion services and against limitation of such access by the use of the conscientious objection clause'.

"Mr Grover then asserted that in 2009, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its Concluding Observations, called upon Poland to “take all effective measures to ensure that women enjoy their right ... by enforcing the legislation on abortion and implementing a mechanism of timely and systematic referral in cases of conscientious objection”
In reality, The CEDAW convention and the committee which implements it are the vehicles for one of the most radical pro-abortion campaigns ever whilst, only last month, Northern Irish pro-life leaders had occasion to criticise the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for calling for Britain's liberal abortion law to be extended to Northern Ireland.

Pat reports that Mr Grover did not fail to extend his attack to the Catholic Church in Poland, following the growing trend in international politics not to allow freedom of conscience for those who oppose abortion. Pat tells me:
"Mr. Grover in an attack on the Catholic Church noted with regret that women in Poland face numerous obstacles in accessing abortion services, even when according to him they are legally entitled to an abortion. He is concerned that non-State actors, such as priests, interfere with access to legal and safe abortions and sets out instances in which he claims this occurred."
The ugly face of the culture of death was seen yesterday at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in the following section of Mr Grover's chilling report. Freedom of religion, conscience and thought is to be swept aside in favour of the alleged right to kill unborn children. Here is one small sample:
"Health-care providers’ conscientious objection to involvement in certain health-
related procedures is grounded in the right to freedom of religion, conscience and thought. However, the exercise of conscientious objection should not entail interference with sexual and reproductive health rights, which are fundamental. However, the Special Rapporteur notes with concern that these conditions for invoking conscientious objection are not being met in Poland. Numerous reports indicate that some doctors, hospital directors, anaesthesiologists and auxiliary medical personnel such as midwives and nurses invoke the conscientious objection clause in refusing to perform abortions, and do not comply with their legal obligations under the Act of 5 December 1996 on the profession of physician and dentist, to refer women to other providers who will perform the termination of pregnancy."
As Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, pointed out last week when the UN turned its pro-abortion fire on Northern Ireland:
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family, including children before birth. It is disturbing, therefore, to see how far the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has departed from the UN's founding principles.

"Abortion not only denies the fundamental human rights of children but it is deeply damaging to women. It is clear that the committee has no real concern for either women or children and knows nothing about Northern Ireland. If it did, then it would know that there is no evidence of so-called backstreet abortion in Northern Ireland and that in fact we have the best maternal mortality record in the UK.

"UN committees must be told to stop promoting abortion. It is time for pro-life politicians everywhere to call on the UN to return to its founding principles and protect the human rights of all members of the human family from the first moments of life until its natural end."
Finally, I am glad to tell you that Pat Buckley, SPUC's man in Geneva, reports that Poland stoutly defended its laws:
"The Polish delegate Mr. Branislav Lysák told the meeting that in the last 20 years infant mortality had dropped by 71% and maternal mortality in Poland was down by 82% in the same period. These figures according to Mr. Lysák contradict the assumption that liberalization of abortion improves maternal mortality.

"Abortion access according to Mr Lysák was available on social and economic grounds in Poland between 1956 and 1993 and Polish experience proves that there is no simple correlation between liberalization of abortion and improvement of maternal health except that the relationship could be inversely proportionate. Improvement of maternal health he said depends on overallmedical conditions.

"Mr Lysák told the meeting that there is no universal right to abortion and regulation of that issue is the exclusive competence of States as set out in various international documents such as the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)"
All power to Poland's elbow as it strugges to prevent universal human rights being trampled on in the very place designated by world powers to uphold them. They will I'm sure be mindful of that greatest of 20th century Polish figures, Pope John Paul II, who said in Evangelium Vitae(18):
"On the one hand, the various declarations of human rights and the many initiatives inspired by these declarations show that at the global level there is a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class.

"On the other hand, these noble proclamations are unfortunately contradicted by a tragic repudiation of them in practice. This denial is still more distressing, indeed more scandalous, precisely because it is occurring in a society which makes the affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. How can these repeated affirmations of principle be reconciled with the continual increase and widespread justification of attacks on human life? How can we reconcile these declarations with the refusal to accept those who are weak and needy, or elderly, or those who have just been conceived? These attacks go directly against respect for life and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. It is a threat capable, in the end, of jeopardizing the very meaning of democratic coexistence: rather than societies of "people living together", our cities risk becoming societies of people who are rejected, marginalized, uprooted and oppressed."



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Friday, 4 June 2010

Catholic Church must move decisively against dissent on direct abortion

This weekend's edition of The Tablet has three articles and several letters on the stand taken by the Catholic bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, against a direct abortion performed in a Catholic hospital in his diocese. Sister Margaret McBride (pictured), a hospital administrator, had authorised the killing of an unborn child through direct abortion. Sr Margaret and fellow members of the hospital's ethics board claimed that the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother, who had pulmonary hypertension. Bishop Olmsted confirmed that what Sr Margaret did -co-operate formally in procuring an abortion - was subject to an automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church. LifeSiteNews.com did a full report on the case, including an interview with a neo-natologist who says that pulmonary hypertension isn't a threat to the life of a pregnant mother.

Predictably, yet no less scandalously, The Tablet is - both slyly and not-so-slyly - working to undermine Bishop Olmsted's witness to the sanctity of human life. Two of the articles it carries are written by notorious dissenters from Catholic teaching on pro-life/pro-family, Charles E. Curran and Tina Beattie. Charles Curran's article, "Catholics are not utilitarians", is the more intelligent and sly of the two. Most of his article is a reasonably accurate account of the facts and history of the Church's teaching on abortion. Curran, however, calls upon the Church to re-think previous rulings on whether certain procedures were direct or indirect abortions. This tactic by Curran is sly in that it seeks to confuse an issue where no confusion exists. No one denies that the abortion which took place in Phoenix was a direct abortion. And it is abundantly clear that the Catholic Church has taught definitively that all direct abortions are impermissible:
"[B]y the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium."
John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (1985), para.58
Tina Beattie's article, "In the balance", is replete with canards invented by the pro-abortion movement:
  • ensoulment: unborn children only become persons some weeks or months after conception, and the Church's opposition to early abortion is a modern aberration. This canard was well debunked in a joint statement by Christian theologians in 2001.
  • relationship: an unborn child isn't a person until his/her mother can have a relationship with him/her. On that basis, people whose mothers are deceased or unknown to them aren't persons either!
  • spontaneous abortions: human embryos can't be persons because too many of them die naturally. On that basis, all children born before the 20th century (when advances in medicine lowered hitherto universally high child mortality rates) aren't persons either!
  • contraception: "ready access to contraception" keeps abortion rates lower than would otherwise have been the case. So why has the number of legal abortions in Britain (200,000) increased four-fold (1969: c.50,000) since modern contraception techniques became widely available (late 1960s)?
  • illegal abortions: there are more abortions (mostly illegal) in Latin America than in western Europe (mostly legal): therefore abortion bans are (at best) ineffectual and (at worst) endanger women. This is straight out of the pro-abortion movement's book of lies. Time and time again the pro-abortion movement has been exposed for massively exaggerating and even inventing statistics about illegal abortions.
  • war: abortion is occasionally OK because war is occasionally OK, and war also entails intentional killing of innocent people. She confuses the question of whether a war is just (e.g. was Britain morally right to have declared war on Nazi Germany?) with the question of whether certain actions in war are just (e.g. aerial bombing of open cities). Her argument also confirms her dismissive misunderstanding of the principle of double effect.
  • martyrdom: the Church forces the pregnant woman to sacrifice their lives for their children. In fact, the responsibility for the lives of both mother and child in the operating theatre lies with the treating doctor, whose role it is treat illness, not kill children.
The third article, Sister of Mercy, is written by Michael Sean Winters, who does his best to disguise his agenda of pitting what he calls the Catholic Left (which he supports) against what he calls the Catholic Right, meaning Catholics who oppose Barack Obama's presidency because of Obama's support for abortion. Yet labels such as "Left" and "Right" have no place when considering the issue of abortion. All Catholics, regardless of political or ideological leanings, must recognise the wrongness of abortion. Even religious adherence has a limited applicability to the morality of abortion. No religious or political value-set can evade the truth that the intentional killing of an innocent human being is always the greatest wrong. The Catholic Church's teaching that unborn children must always be protected from direct abortion is a gift to a misguided and selfish world.

The Tablet's freedom to publish and distribute its pro-abortion message is a direct result of the failure of key Church authorities to implement fully the Gospel of Life. Another, related example of the same failure is the failure to deal adequately with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He remains in post despite refusing to retract an article which undermined the Church's stand against abortion. This situation continues, not least because the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not deal thoroughly with the archbishop and his article. The Congregation issued a clarification which read:
“As for the responsibility of medical workers, the words of Pope John Paul II must be recalled: 'Their profession ... which requires every doctor to commit himself to absolute respect for human life and its sacredness.'
At this point the Congregation's clarification stop abruptly, when in fact para.89 of Evangelium Vitae continues:
“Absolute respect for every innocent human life also requires the exercise of conscientious objection in relation to procured abortion and euthanasia. 'Causing death' can never be considered a form of medical treatment, even when the intention is solely to comply with the patient's request. Rather, it runs completely counter to the health-care profession, which is meant to be an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life."
Had the Congregation's clarification not omitted this sentence, the core error of Fisichella’s article would have been corrected.

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Thursday, 3 June 2010

One woman's choice was a gift to us all

I was sent this very moving clip today by my daughter. Andrea Bocelli (below) is the biggest selling singer in the history of classical music.



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New anti-euthanasia campaign launched in London today

A campaign was launched today in central London, pleading with MPs to resist pressures to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The campaign was launched by Not Dead Yet, a group of disabled and terminally ill people whose concerns have been heightened by the current economic climate and calls from politicians from all parties for cuts in public services.

The group are asking MPs to sign a seven-point charter, which can be read on the campaign website. The key points of the charter are
  • a recognition that disabled and terminally ill people should have the same legal protection as everyone else.
  • a commitment to support disabled and terminally ill constituents to access the health, social and other services that they need.
  • a commitment to oppose any change to the current law, which would make assisted suicide legal in the UK.
The group's media briefeing points out that:
Not one organisation of, or for, disabled and terminally ill people has campaigned for any change to current legislation [ie to make assisted suicide legal]. This includes organisations that advocate on behalf of people with multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease; two disabling conditions that are often referred to when describing who would benefit most from a change in legislation.
Disabled people should be offered help, not encouraged to end their lives prematurely.

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Pregnant women in northern Italy given support, not abortion

I was interested to read this morning in an article in the Daily Telegraph, that pregnant women in the north of Italy, living in difficult economic situations, will receive financial support from the government. The policy was initiated by Roberto Formignoni (pictured), governonr of the Lombardy region.

The initiative reminds me of the words and work of my friend Sr Roseann Reddy, of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life. Sr Roseanne says that when pregnant women are living in poverty we should be working to get rid of the poverty, not the baby.

It is heartening to see a politician breaking from the popular trend in this crucial area of maternal care. For the most part, pregnant women are left to fend for themselves, while governments promote, encourage and fund abortions. The latest example of this in the UK occurred last week as the governement allowed the airing of a TV advertisement by Marie Stopes, the international abortion group. But abortion doesn't help anybody - it simply kills children, harms women and lines the pockets of the multi-billion dollar abortion industry.

It was sad, but predictable, to read in the Telegraph's article that pro-abortion activists have criticised the new policy. Pro-abortion groups do not offer women real help. Instead they falsely claim to stand for choice, while constantly trying to convince women that abortion is their only option.

In the UK it is only small groups, such as The Good Counsel Network and their supporters, that offer women real help and alternatives to abortion.

It is my hope that more politicians across the world will promote such measures to offer women real help, instead of simply funding abortion providers.

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Petition against euthanasia by neglect launched

SPUC has launched a UK petition against euthanasia by neglect. We are calling on all people of good will to help us prevent this horrific abuse of vulnerable patients in our hospitals.

Vulnerable people are being put at risk every day in hospitals of being killed by the withdrawal of ordinary care, including food and water. Food and water, whether given by mouth or by means of tube feeding, are essential for everyone's survival.

Elderly people are being made to feel that society will not care for them. We have to show them that we care and that we will not abandon them when they are most vulnerable. Elderly people should not be made to feel as though receiving proper, ordinary care is a burden either on their families or on the NHS.

This petition is also about the need to protect doctors. The situation is now so bad that doctors who refuse to starve patients, when asked to do so, can be banned.

A small, but vocal minority of doctors want the power to end life. Our doctors are supposed to care for, not help to kill us. Euthanasia by neglect gravely undermines vulnerable people and destroys everyone's confidence in doctors.

Signatories to SPUC's petition are calling upon the Secretary of State for Health and the General Medical Council to ensure that no patient is deliberately killed by the withdrawal of ordinary treatment and care, including food and water.

Please order a copy of the petition by contacting SPUC HQ

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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Irish doctor highlights increasing attacks on pro-life doctors

Dr Ruairi Hanley (pictured) wrote recently in the Irish Medical Times about anti-Catholic intolerance directed at Catholic doctors.

Dr Hanley, a non-practising Catholic, says that in modern Ireland everyone is treated with tolerance, except practising Catholics.

Reading Dr Hanley's article, The Crime of being Catholic, it will be obvious for regular readers of this blog to see that he and I do not agree on a number of ethical issues. However, the importance of Dr Hanley's article comes from his recognition that today, in an age that lauds individual liberty, the rights of pro-life doctors are coming under increasing attack.

The intolerance highlighted by Dr Hanley is just one episode in a global attack on conscientious objection. Locally this can be witnessed in the abortion guidance published by the Northern Ireland health department (rejected by the Northern Ireland High Court). Internationally we see the most serious threat to conscientious objection in the push for universal sexual and reproductive rights by Barack Obama's pro-abortion administration.

In the state of Victoria, Australia, there already exists a law that forces medical practicioners with a conscientious objection to supply the names of other health professionals willing to perform, direct, authorise or supervise an abortion.

I applaud Dr Hanley's clear-mindedness in highlighting this gross hypocrisy, which poses such a danger to pro-life health professionals.

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Persistent pro-lifer forces newspaper to retract pro-abortion stance

I have received word of an excellent recent campaign in Ireland.

Two weeks ago the Athlone/Mullingar Advertiser published an editorial welcoming the new pro-abortion TV advertisements, prior to their showing on Channel 4. Ray McIntyre, of Midland Life Network, responded to the article and began a campaign to have the editorial removed. Ray wrote to the Galway Advertiser Group, who control the Athlone/Mullingar Advertiser. Ray asked:
I would ask you to clarify whether this editorial in your Mullingar/Athlone edition is supported by the Galway Advertiser group? I would also ask you to clarify whether the future editorial direction of the Galway Advertiser Group is to promote and support abortion and the killing of more and more innocent Irish babies in the womb by UK based commercial interests?
Ray also organised a campaign through email alerts and social networking sites encouraging people to bombard the Galway Advertiser Group with complaints. Their efforts were rewarded with this response:
The Advertiser Newspaper Group is happy to clarify that it does not take any stance on the matter of abortion and accepts that the views expressed in last week's article (editorial ) should not have been published.They do not in any way reflect the editorial or community policy of our newspapers.

Declan Varley, Group Editor, Galway Advertiser Group
The Galway Advertiser Group also agreed to publish Ray's letter of complaint in three times the space afforded to the original editorial. This letter has now been deleted from the Athlone/Mullingar Advertiser website, but can be read in full here.

It is very encouraging to see this well earned victory. It is people such as Ray and those who supported his campaign who are so crucial to keeping abortion out of Ireland.

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