Saturday, 26 June 2010

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Calls for an upper limit bill on abortion remind me of Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I hope and pray that Jim Dobbin MP can be swiftly persuaded to back off from comments he's reported to have made yesterday that he is seeking an MP to table a private member's Bill to push for another vote in Parliament on the abortion time limit.

Jim Dobbin should be reminded that it's less than two years since the last push for an upper limit bill was stopped at the last ditch, after a united pro-life campaign, from resulting in a massive expansion of the abortion law. At that time a number of pro-life groups joined SPUC's campaign against proposed extreme pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

We must remind Members of Parliament that the main threat of creating in Britain a legal "right" to an abortion comes, perversely, from abortion time limit bills, often misguidedly promoted by sincere pro-life individuals and groups. The threat consists in that such proposals give the pro-abortion lobby the chance to argue that “early abortions are better than late abortions.” They argue that in order to ensure that women can get early “safe” abortions the obstacles must be removed, i.e. the medical grounds required for a legal abortion must be abolished. This would achieve a major objective of the pro-abortion lobby, arguably creating a right to abortion not currently in English (or Scottish) abortion law.

SPUC has written to MPs urging them not to support upper limit legislation. Here's why:

It was pro-lifers who pressed for the 1990 Act to contain provisions relating to abortion, in the hope of being able to insert some restrictions, particularly early time limits. Sadly this tactic backfired, resulting in a less, not more, restrictive abortion law.

SPUC said at the time: “… Kenneth Clarke [the secretary of state for health] was … responsible for giving MPs a misleading concept of the clause allowing abortion up to birth when it was debated at the Report Stage of the Bill on 21st June [1990] … He informed the House ‘the doctor will terminate a pregnancy while attempting to save the life of the baby if he can’. However, termination in such circumstances has always been allowed but previously it has been described as ‘induced birth’. For the first time it can be legally categorised as abortion, and, whatever the claims of Mr Clarke, there is now no law compelling a doctor to save the life of the child.” (Human Concern, summer 1990)

Both David Cameron, the prime minister, and Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, have made clear that they support wider access to abortion in various ways. If there is a free vote by MPs, as was promised by Mr Cameron, it will provide the pro-abortion lobby with an opportunity to increase the numbers of abortions, as happened under the Conservative administration under Margaret Thatcher.

It's therefore all the more perplexing that Jim Dobbin should be reported to be saying: “David Cameron's leadership on this issue is important and could help to sway opinion.”

Finally, David Cameron supports the genocidal treatment of disabled children in the womb. He confirmed during a "Cameron-Direct" session in Barrow-in-Furness that he would not vote to reverse the current discrimination against unborn disabled babies who can be aborted right up to birth since the law was changed by Parliament in 1990.  He made a similar comment in a Daily Mail interview on which I blogged at the time. Tragically, at this point in history, there is every sign that Parliament would confirm this genocidal treatment of the disabled before birth in any vote on the upper limit to abortion - which serves to underline this gravely ethically flawed and totally discredited approach to reform of the British abortion law.

For a fuller history of this whole issue, read my previous posts.



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Friday, 25 June 2010

RCOG supports killing 570 babies a day

SPUC has responded to claims made today about foetal pain and disability by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier this morning:
"The RCOG supports the killing of 570 babies every day in Britain, at all stages of pregnancy, through the abortion policies it pursues and the lucrative activities of its members.

"The RCOG knows better than most people how marvellous, sensitive, complex and beautiful these babies are at every stage of development from conception onwards. Life does not start halfway through a pregnancy, it starts at conception.

"The RCOG suggests that its doctors don’t inflict pain on the babies they kill, but this is just a way of denying that what they are doing is evil and they know it. The RCOG is trying to find a comfort zone for its members. It is not concerned about the rights and the lives of the babies killed.

"The issue of the 24-week time-limit on social abortions is a red herring. The RCOG’s claim about babies not feeling pain before 24 weeks begs the question: Why do abortion doctors keep making this point when they support the abortion of babies up till birth?

"The government should act to recognise the rights of children at all stages before birth. It could begin today by asking why the Department of Health actively promotes abortion, which has no proven health benefits."

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sperm donation study is an "extremely valuable contribution to debate on reproductive technology"

Pat Buckley - European Life Network drew attention earlier this month to a new major comparative study of adults conceived by means of "donor". It's entitled My Daddy’s name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation, and it's published under the auspices of the Commission on Parenthood’s Future in New York.

An executive summary from the study states:
"In 1884, a Philadelphia physician put his female patient to sleep and inseminated her with sperm from a man who was not her husband. The patient became pregnant and bore a child she believed was the couple’s biological offspring.

"Today, this event occurs every day around the world with the willing consent of women and with the involvement of millions of physicians, technicians, cryoscientists, and accountants. The United States alone has a fertility industry that brings in $3.3 billion annually. Meanwhile, 'fertility tourism' has taken off as a booming global trade. A number of nations bill themselves as destinations for couples who wish to circumvent stricter laws and greater expense in their own countries in order to become pregnant using reproductive technologies. The largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos, is in Denmark and ships three-quarters of its sperm overseas.

"In the U.S., an estimated 30,000-60,000 children are born each year through sperm donation, but this number is only an educated guess. Neither the industry nor any other entity in the U.S. is required to report on these vital statistics. Most strikingly, there is almost no reliable evidence, in any nation, about the experience of young adults who were conceived in this way.

"This study is the first effort to learn about the identity, kinship, wellbeing, and social justice experiences of young adults who were conceived through sperm donation. The survey research firm Abt SRBI of New York City fielded our survey through a web-based panel that includes more than a million households across the United States. Through this method we assembled a representative sample of 485 adults between the ages of 18 and 45 years old who said their mother used a sperm donor to conceive them. We also assembled comparison groups of 562 young adults who were adopted as infants and 563 young adults who were raised by their biological parents.

"We learned that, on average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Nearly two-thirds agree, “My sperm donor is half of who I am.”

"Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception.

"More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them they wonder if they are related. Almost as many say they have feared being attracted to or having sexual relations with someone to whom they are unknowingly related. Approximately two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins. And about half of donor offspring have concerns about or serious objections to donor conception itself, even when parents tell their children the truth.

"The title of this report, My Daddy’s Name is Donor, comes from a t-shirt marketed to parents of babies who were donor conceived. The designers of the shirt say it’s just meant to be funny. But we wondered how the children feel when they grow up.

"This unprecedented, large, comparative, and very nearly representative study of young adults conceived through sperm donation responds to that question. The extraordinary findings reported in the stories, tables and figures that follow will be of concern to any policy maker, health professional, civic leader, parent, would-be parent, and young or grown donor conceived person, anywhere in the world. An extensive list of recommendations is found at the conclusion.

"We aim for nothing less than to launch a national and international debate on the ethics, meaning, and practice of donor conception, starting now."
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, consultants to SPUC, have sent me the following comment on the study:
"This study is a valuable contribution to the issue of human conception using donated sperm, focusing on the experiences of donor-conceived adults themselves.  (Some minor studies suffering from low numbers, possible recruitment/self-selection bias, lack of control, and other variables nevertheless tend to support elements of this major study.  See:
Turner A.J. & Coyle  A. What does it mean to be a donor offspring? The identity experiences of adults conceived by donor insemination and the implications for counselling and therapy. Human Reproduction, Vol. 15, No. 9, 2041-2051, September 2000; 
Hewitt, G.  Missing links: Identity issues of donor-conceived people. Journal of Fertility Counselling,9(3),2002. 14-20.
Jadva, V. et al. 'Age of disclosure and donor offspring’s feelings about finding out they were donor conceived.' 2008
"The study has received some minor criticism for not being peer-reviewed, the implication being that its standards are inferior to peer-reviewed publications. However, there do not appear to be any other studies of this magnitude – peer-reviewed or otherwise – to either confirm or contradict the results of this study ...

" ... On its own terms, this study confirms what ought to be common sense to most people: that the intentional conception of a child with the use of sperm from an anonymous donor will necessarily have practical and personal consequences for that child. This study illuminates these consequences, through the experience of the donor offspring themselves.

"It should therefore be regarded as an extremely valuable contribution to the debate on reproductive technology, at least for the raw data it provides, and the issues it raises. While the interpretation offered by the authors may be open to allegations of bias, this goes to more fundamental questions of how we weigh the various factors uncovered by their study, and certainly to the deeper issue of the value we ascribe to human life and human rights. After all, the debate over donor conception and reproductive technologies would never have emerged if members of society did not hold different degrees of tolerance for the existential confusion inflicted upon others."
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Newman, Clifford Longley, conscience, contraception - and abortion

Fr John Fleming has some interesting comments to make about Cardinal Newman (right), contraception and about Clifford Longley's assertion in The Tablet (29th May 2010) "that we just do not know what Newman would have said about ... the standing of Catholics who dissented" from Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of birth, published on 25th July 1968.

Fr Fleming's article should be read in full on The Anglo-Catholic blogpost. Here are some extracts:
" ... Well known writer on Catholic affairs and doyen of the liberal party in the Catholic Church, Clifford Longley, seems to have recognised the foolishness of calling John Henry Newman as a witness to the liberal account of ‘conscience’ where contraception is concerned (The Tablet, 29 May 2010). He acknowledges the obvious, that no one knows 'what Newman [died 1890] would have said about Humanae vitae [published 1968]'. But his assertion that no one knows what Newman would have said about the standing of Catholics who dissent from long-standing authentic Church teaching on contraception is by no means so obvious ... "

" ... The Pope was faced with the need to consider traditional Catholic teaching in the light of new developments in contraceptives, specifically the oral contraceptive pill. In the light of the Church’s constant moral tradition the Pope provided that teaching having first sought and taken advice. To suggest, as Longley does, that the Pope was governed by a desire to protect the Church’s teaching authority even though he knew better, represents detraction at its worst. And it is none the better for it having been so self-righteously asserted without a skerrick of evidence cited in support of it.

"What lies behind the Longley piece is the ineffable sense of the infallibility of the liberal ‘intelligentsia’. 'We are right and the Successor of St Peter has got it wrong!' And this in 2010 when we have abundant evidence that the prophecies of social misery that Pope Paul VI (Humanae vitae n 17) warned about have come to pass!

"Indeed contemporary attempts in the UK to impose contraception and abortion based sex education on the young are a graphic reminder of the Pope’s warnings:

"'Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favouring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.' (Humanae vitae n 17) ...

"At the beginning of his article, Longley indulges in a remarkable piece of intellectual sophistry. Both progressives and conservatives are guilty of what he calls the 'fundamentalist fallacy'. This 'fallacy' he describes as 'an assumption that a sort of infallible magic belongs to the words on the page'. But nowhere does Longley provide any evidence at all that the various interpretations of Newman are based on any such assumption. Both sides are attempting to understand what Newman meant when he said what he said. But Longley smugly positions himself as intellectually above all the 'others', although he singularly fails to tell us what is his preferred hermeneutic and why it is better than everyone else’s. Is it that Longley believes that since the author is dead his words can be made to mean whatever we would like them to mean in our present time? He doesn’t say.

"So why not let Newman be allowed to speak for himself on the matter of conscience:

"'Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a licence to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be an impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.' (Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, section 5 on Conscience)

"Newman may well have been writing in the nineteenth century, but his words are even more apt in the twentieth century. Humanae vitae may not have been around for Newman to have been able to consider it. But the fundamental teaching of the Church on contraception certainly was, and was widely accepted throughout the Christian world. It was not until 1930 when the Anglicans proposed a weakening of that teaching that the Catholic moral position on contraception was seriously challenged. So Newman would undoubtedly have supported the Catholic moral teaching and would have been surprised that anyone would have thought to associate his name with dissent from it.

"Finally, Longley attributes cowardice to the English bishops who settled, he says, for an easy life by allowing people to make their own decisions in the matter. He sort of excuses their alleged moral cowardice by saying they really didn’t have much choice. 'Sackings of hundreds of dissenting priests and the excommunication of thousands of dissenting laity would have been a disaster for the Church.' A disaster? Really? Why so? Did not hundreds of dissenting priests and thousands of dissenting laity leave anyway? And despite the moral failings of Mediaeval Christians at the time of the Reformation, the Church still continues her faithful witness to the truth ... "
I have often commented on the links between contraception and the culture of death in which are living and, just yesterday I posted a review of an interview with Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, the scientific director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the interrelationship between certain forms of contraception and abortion.

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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Pregnancy counselling group launches life-saving project on London Underground

The Good Counsel Network, a London-based pregnancy counselling organisation, are planning to take out advertising on the London Underground. On their blog, they say:
We would like to increase our outreach to women in trouble in a pregnancy which maybe wasn’t planned or where they suddenly find themselves in crisis. Using the title Maria Stops Abortion, we plan to reach out to women who would otherwise only see adverts for the ‘help’ offered by abortion providers. Tube and rail adverts are extremely expensive, but we feel the need to launch out into the deep and experiment with this type of outreach with the hope that any woman seeking an escape from abortion will find us.
I applaud this excellent venture and hope that it will save many lives.

The Good Counsel Network are a wonderful organisation who offer women considering an abortion real information, real support and real hope during a pregnancy.

They also hold a day of prayer and fasting each month. The intention for these days is to bring an end to abortion and euthanasia. They encourage those whose faith prompts them to do so to fast from all food except bread and water for the day, or simply to give up anything that would involve a personal sacrifice, such as eating chocolate or watching television.

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Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life shows how the various contraceptive techniques are in reality frequently abortive

Father John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant, has shared with me his reflections on a recently-published interview with Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau , the Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the links between contraception and abortion. The interview was conducted by the Dialogue Dynamics team who comment: "The technical precision of the text is matched by its doctrinal accuracy".In a scientifically and ethically sophisticated interview (21st of April 2010), "Contraception and abortion" Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life, sets out the interrelationship between certain forms of contraception and abortion.

The Suaudeau interview is extremely important because it discusses the link between contraception in terms which are scrupulously rigorous, not making more of the evidence than the evidence would allow and not minimising the implications of what the evidence clearly suggests.

In answer to the question,
“So contraceptives prevent the conception of a child?”
Monsignor Suaudeau immediately responds with the observation that that is not all that contraceptives do. Other technical methods gathered under the rubric of “contraceptives” include what are more properly known as “interceptives”, techniques which prevent the embryo from implanting. Added to that are techniques known as “contragestives”, so-called because “they cause the elimination of a newly-implanted embryo”.

Monsignor Suaudeau notes that contraceptive proponents have always argued that contraceptive use would “contribute to a reduction in the number of intentional abortions” among adolescents.

But, says, Monsignor Suaudeau:
"Fifty years after the introduction of the first contraceptive pill, the reality is that, far from reducing the number of abortions, contraception has itself become increasingly abortive. Indeed, it is in the functioning itself of the “pill” that abortion gains an entry."
Monsignor Suaudeau then goes on to rehearse the scientific evidence which backs up his melancholy summation of where we are now at. In doing this he identifies all of the various modern contraceptives techniques, describing in detail how they actually work, and laying bare for all to see the necessary connection between contraception and abortion.

In returning to an earlier question,
“has the generalised use of contraception allowed the practice of abortion to decline?"
Monsignor Suaudeau brings all of his scientific expertise to bear in a well articulated philosophical and moral response:
"Contraception and abortion are in fact closely linked. They are linked in their biological reality. They are linked in the mentality which presupposes them. Abortion directly refuses and destroys the baby. Contraception also refuses the baby and uses any means at its disposal to counter the arrival of baby. In both cases, the baby is the enemy. He or she becomes the accidental product of genital activity reduced to mere pleasure or irresponsible futility based on a corrupt notion of human sexuality. 'Sex' takes priority over the baby. If the baby arrives in spite of the use of contraception, it is no longer, as previously, accepted, but rejected and aborted. This is why it was logical for abortion to be liberalized once contraception had been made generally available, to remedy foreseeable failures of contraception.

"Far from curbing abortion, contraception may even lead to it. It is always easy to proceed from one to the other."
Harnessing the social research data to hand in Scandinavia and Europe, Monsignor Suaudeau is able to show the truth of his conclusion that contraception leads to abortion. Monsignor Suaudeau concludes with a devastating series of observations. Here is a sample:
  • Far from reducing the number of abortions, contraception to some extent finds in abortion a natural unfolding. Given that the contraceptive mentality is in fact close to the abortive mentality, large-scale use of contraception in the developed nations has contributed to the routine use of abortion.
  • Scientific research today is oriented towards the development of increasingly “effective” contraceptive techniques to prevent conception and the continuation of pregnancy, with increasingly less risk to the woman, resulting in increasingly abortifacient contraception. This is a further demonstration of the close link, not only cultural but also scientific, between the use of contraception and the demand for abortion.
  • To avoid uttering the word “abortion”, people talk about the pharmacological “prevention” of implantation, “interception” or “contragestion”. It is also asserted that the embryo is not an embryo as long as it is not implanted in the lining of the uterus, but simply a “pre-embryo”, a mass of cells which does not call for any particular respect. However, a play on words cannot change the reality of the facts.
  • ... pastors, theologians and spiritual advisers who, verbally or in writing, endorse the use of contraception, must know that, in so doing, they are endorsing all the abortions thereby caused and to be caused, which will amount to millions of individuals.
  • Today there is nothing heroic, exceptional or disingenuous in resorting, within the framework of responsible parenthood, to “natural” methods of controlling female fertility, whose scientific basis, efficacy and benefits to couples in terms of deeper conjugal communion, are known ...
This is a paper which deserves the widest possible readership and should have an honoured place, as a key reference tool, on the desks of all prolifers.



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Monday, 21 June 2010

Thank God for the pro-life movement's vigilance throughout Ireland

Last week I mentioned the extreme, pro-abortion report bounced through the Human Rights Council in Geneva, produced by Navenethem Pillay, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General.  Pat Buckley, lobbying for SPUC in Geneva, reported that this was "the latest in international political manoeuvres to declare a "human right" to abortion, something which has eluded the pro-abortion lobby since their defeat at the 1994 UN conference on population and development, in Cairo".

It's a telling sign of the political times in Ireland that Navenethem Pillay has been busy recently in Ireland promoting human rights. Lelia O'Flaherty, one of that country's sharpest observers on life and family matters, sent me this morning the following information:

The Tenth Department of Foreign Affairs NGO Forum on Human Rights was held at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Friday 20 November 2009. For a full programme of the event please click here (Word 50kb) The keynote speaker at the Forum was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay  . The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Miche├íl Martin, T.D.  delivered the opening address welcoming the High Commissioner. 

Thank God for the vigilance of the pro-life movement throughout Ireland which is working so hard to resist the international pressures being brought to bear to legalise the killing of Ireland's unborn.  This vigilance includes the fourth all-Ireland rally for life takes place next Saturday in Belfast and Lelia tells me that buses will be travelling there from the following points:

Antrim [07980967994]; Armagh [07599489499]; Ballymena [07980967994]; West Belfast [07593914535]; Buncrana [0749361625]; Carnlough [07900883319]; Castlewellan [07766259933];           Cork [0876576568]; Craigavon [07771965059]; Derry (Creggan) [07814067471];  Derry (Shantallow) [07724791252];  Derry (Southway) [07779265415]; Downpatrick [02844843381]; Dublin (City Centre) [01-8730463]; Dublin (Tallaght) [0876729393]; Dunloy [02829541360];  Enniskillen [07787437914];  Galway [0876217702]; Kilrea [02829541360]; Louth [0877671657]; Lurgan [07708537242];                    Newry [02830252414 & 04830838783]; Omagh [02882259541]; Portadown [02838343091];                
Rasharkin 02829541360]; Strabane [ 02871883453]; Warrenpoint [07756897856]; Westport [0861785160]: Other information from: 02890278484 (Belfast); 01-8730463 (Dublin)


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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Beauty shines out in the midst of the culture of death

An article in World Magazine tells five moving stories of mothers informed by doctors that their unborn child's condition was 'incompatible with life'.

Cody Holt, the author, says that every day, parents hear dire news about their unborn baby which is couched in clinical terms like "incompatible with life," "no quality of life," and "termination of pregnancy." Many mothers choose to abort but some don't, despite the uncertainty of not knowing whether their children will lead fairly normal lives, live with serious conditions, or die soon after birth.

Kim Illion, for example, despite doctors' advice, refused to abort her son Cole after he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Kim says it took her four months to grasp that her unborn son had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus—water on the brain—at 20 weeks. "I cried every single day," said the mother from Iselin, N.J, USA.

Kim and her husband ignored the advice of every doctor they saw who pressured them to abort. Doctors said their son would be a vegetable, disfigured, never talk or walk, on a respirator. Doctors even called the Illions selfish for refusing to abort or, as they put it, "explore other options."

The Illions were given hope when a neurosurgeon told them that there was no reason why Cole wouldn't lead a normal life. In the end, Kim Illion says, "He was born, and he was perfect." Cole went through brain surgery at 1 day old and has had 12 surgeries since.

Today, Cole (pictured with mum) is a healthy and happy 5-year-old. "Even when he's in the hospital getting surgery he smiles when he wakes up. You look at him smile and everything is ok," Illion said. Although he lags behind in areas like speech and potty training, he is otherwise a normal child. The Illions later started an organization, Hydrocephalus Kids, to raise awareness of the condition.

Do take time to read the rest of the article which provides a beautiful witness in the midst of the culture of death in which we are living.  And thank God that Cole's mum's idea of "perfection" differs from the idea of some of the doctors putting her under such cruel pressure. 

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