Saturday, 7 August 2010

Lord Joffe's legislative proposals alarm sick and disabled people

Last week The Guardian published an article by Lord Joel Joffe advocating a complete legalisation of assisted suicide in the UK. Regular readers of this blog will be well acquainted with Alison Davis and her incredible life-story. Alison continues to be one of the most eloquent and effective defenders of life within the pro-life movement. Alison wrote a reply to The Guardian, which has not been published. I publish her response, in full, below.
Dear Sir,

Lord Joffe's "New Proposal for Assisted Suicide" (28th July 2010) poses as many questions as it answers about the wisdom of changing the law to allow suffering people the "right to choose" their own death.

He summarily dismisses opponents of assisted suicide as "a small minority [who] should not be allowed ... to impose their beliefs and views on the majority" who he claims favour it. The truth is that a great number of sick and disabled people (including some who, like me, demonstrated against Joffe's own "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill" bill in May 2006) have this very fear - that once assisted suicide was legalised, the majority view that disabled, sick and suffering people are "better off dead" would prevail over individual concerns. I am certainly personally very afraid of what he proposes.

I have several severe disabling conditions, and, when not confined to bed, use a wheelchair full time. My spine is collapsing causing extreme pain, which cannot be well controlled, even with morphine. It is getting worse, and will inevitably continue to do so. Twenty-five years ago, when doctors thought my life expectancy was extremely short, I decided I had had enough, and developed a settled wish to die. I seriously attempted suicide several times, and was prevented only by good friends, and good doctors who worked on the principle that my life was worth saving (just as they would for any able bodied patient who had attempted suicide). If legally binding Advance Directives had been in place then, as they are now, I would have made one. Neither the ill-named "court of protection" nor the "tribunal" which Joffe envisages, would have saved me, and I would not now be writing this letter. I would have missed the best years of my life, despite continuing extreme physical pain, and no one would ever have known that the future held good things for me, and that the doctors were wrong in thinking I didn't have long to live.

Joffe speaks of only one "important safeguard" - that of "self administration" of the lethal drugs while simultaneously allowing for the authorisation of "other means of self-administration" if the patient is unable to take it him/herself. This uncharacteristic coyness in spelling out what he actually means, was also used by supporters of the bill to legalise assisted suicide in Washington State, USA, where "self-administration" was also touted as a "safeguard." Later it transpired in the smallprint of the Act that this term actually meant the "act of ingesting" the fatal dose. Thus any third party could put the lethal medication in an incapacitated patient's mouth or feeding tube and the act still be regarded as "self-administration" because the patient "ingested" it. Is it any wonder that sick and disabled people are alarmed, rather than encouraged, by Joffe's weasel words?

Finally Joffe rules that there should be a "minimum waiting period" before a patient wanting to die is allowed to "ingest" the fatal dose or change their minds. I wanted to die for ten years. I rest my case.

Yours faithfully,

Alison Davis
Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Friday, 6 August 2010

Students needed to tell freshers the truth about abortion

SPUC wants to help students who want to promote the pro-life message at university. Freshers' fairs are major opportunities to connect with other students. SPUC has devised a leaflet (pictured) that we would like students to distribute at their freshers' fairs. That way we can:
  • let new students know that we cherish life from its earliest beginnings, and
  • support vulnerable women, letting them know that they are not alone.
The leaflet contains information about the following:
  • development of the unborn child
  • various abortion procedures
  • side-effects of abortion
  • alternatives to abortion
  • helplines for women in crisis pregnancies.
If you’re interested in handing out the leaflet during freshers' week, or would like any advice or practical help in setting up a university pro-life group, then please email paulsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

As Kenyans vote to kill their children, bishops say they respect the outcome of the referendum

Tragically, it appears that Kenyans have voted for a constitution which their Catholic bishops warned last May would result in the "liberalisation" of abortion.

In a statement yesterday, the Catholic bishops of Kenya said:
"We respect the outcome of the referendum, where the larger numbers of Kenyans have voted to accept this proposed constitution. However, truth and right are not about numbers. We therefore, as the shepherds placed to give moral guidance to our people, still reiterate the need to address the flawed moral issues in this proposed constitution. That voice should never be silenced."
The Kenyan bishops have got it badly wrong here. Would they be saying ...
"We respect the outcome of the referendum"
... if the majority of Kenyans had just voted for a constitution which favoured the killing of Catholics, rather than the killing of unborn children? If not, what reasons would they give for not respecting the outcome of a referendum on a draft constitution which allows the killing of Catholics, but respecting the outcome of a referendum which allows the killing of unborn children?

After all, only last May the same Kenyan bishops rightly warned:
"A good constitution should safeguard very basic rights before conferring other rights. The Proposed Constitution of Kenya does not do that. A good constitution is judged by how it protects fundamental human rights. All the gains in the Proposed Constitution of Kenya are, as it were, cancelled by what it says about the most fundamental right, the right to life. A constitution that does not safeguard the sanctity of human life is not a good constitution."
Surely the Kenyan bishops should now be taking a leaf out of the book of Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, who, according to LifeSite, said last week in Madrid about the new abortion law in Spain:
"Whoever denies the right to life is against democracy and leads society to disaster"
and that where a law "legitimizes" abortion or euthanasia, it
"ceases to be a true morally binding civil law"?
In a veritable call to arms the Cardinal said:
"Let us refuse to support any initiative that goes against life, not give our support to individuals, institutions, works or measures to be or intended to go against life, we can not associate ourselves with those who deny something so fundamental."
Returning to the unfortunate statement of the Kenyan bishops yesterday, they say:
"We shall be giving a more comprehensive statement in the next few days."
I hope their next statement reflects the enormity of what has occurred. Kenyans have voted to kill their own children and it's every bit as bad as voting to kill Catholics, bishops, or politicians. As Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae (73):
"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. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10)."

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Advertising body approves offensive Marie Stopes abortion ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today ruled in favour of the television advertisement by Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of Britain's main abortion providers.

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, told the media today:
“Advertising abortion, whether directly or under the guise of so-called 'pregnancy advice’, is indecent and dishonest. Yet the ASA has approved showing TV ads from one of the biggest abortion-providers in the UK.

“The ASA says the ad is not offensive, thus ignoring the fundamental nature of the ad’s message which is: 'We can kill unborn babies'.  This message is just as offensive as saying 'We can kill immigrants', 'We can kill paedophiles' or targeting any other disparaged group. It is simply casuistic of the ASA to hold that the ad isn’t advertising abortion.

“As an industry-based group, it is free to reflect the views of the broadcasters and publishers who want lucrative advertising deals: it is a great shame that it has not acted more impartially in this matter. The ASA is not a statutory authority. It is not answerable democratically or judicially to anyone, nor does it have power to impose any penalties or hold anyone to account. The ASA’s approval of TV abortion ads highlights the need for Jeremy Hunt, the media secretary, to intervene, as he can, to stop these deeply offensive ads.”
SPUC has launched a nationwide leafleting campaign to put pressure on the Government to intervene.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Spanish football coach's son, who has Down's syndrome, shares Spain's glory

Vicente del Bosque, Spain's world cup winning coach, has a 21-year-old son, Álvaro, who has Down's syndrome. MercatorNet tells us that Vicente del Bosque is immensely proud of his son "even though Alvaro has been highly critical of some of his decisions"! “At first we cried a lot,” del Bosque says about the days after Álvaro’s birth, “but now when I look back I think, we were so foolish.”

Álvaro del Bosque went with the players to South Africa for the tournament, accompanying his father, the team's manager. Alvaro is pictured above, celebrating the team's victory, at the official reception. Also in the picture, left, is Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.

Mr Bill Muehlenberg, writing on Mercator.net, refers to two couples in Australia who want compensation because doctors did not detect Down's syndrome and other developmental anomalies before their children were born. The parents, in Victoria state, say they would have had abortions, and they want money for the children's upkeep and for "psychiatric injury". Other states have outlawed such claims. [Herald Sun, 21 July]

Mr Muehlenberg contrasts this depressing litigation with the joy Álvaro has given to Spain's winning World Cup team.  The Spanish team's joy might also be contrasted with the grim view of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Britain which recently described a new, more accurate, search and destroy technique for detecting Down's syndrome babies as the "Holy Grail" of Down's syndrome testing.

Mr Muehlenberg writes: "All true love is self-giving, not self-taking. To love another person is to give away part of yourself, to become vulnerable, to take risks, and to be willing to hurt. If you do not want to hurt, then do not love. A parent’s love may be among the world’s greatest love, because it may hurt the most and cost the most. But love happily embraces such hurts, sacrifices and burdens. Those born with physical or mental incapacities are obviously going to be somewhat more of a handful. But they are all still beautiful sons and daughters who deserve to be loved. They do not deserve the guilt trip put upon them by parents who complain about their very existence, their very right to life."

Mr Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University, Melbourne.


Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy