Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Inglis appeal judgment is a fascinating revelation into how euthanasia works

Frances Inglis, who murdered her brain-damaged son Thomas, yesterday lost her appeal against her conviction and life sentence (though the Court of Appeal did reduce the minimum period before eligibility to apply for parole). Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has reviewed the judgment and he tells me that its details contain a fascinating revelation into how euthanasia works in practice. Anthony highlights Mrs Inglis' firm belief that it was her son Thomas should be killed because (according to her):
  • "she knew what Thomas's wishes would have been"
  • "he did not have the quality of life he wanted"
  • "it would be better if he were dead"
  • he was now "a vegetable"; and
  • he had in fact "died" in the accident which left him brain-damaged.
Anthony also highlights the idea, raised by Thomas' doctors, that the hospital could approach the courts for permission to kill Thomas by euthanasia by omission ("withhold[ing] treatment, and nutrition and hydration", an idea which Mrs Inglis rejected as "barbaric".

Anthony highlighted, as others did, the following statement by the presiding judge as perhaps the most significant:
"We must also emphasise that the law does not recognise the concept implicit in the defence statement that Thomas Inglis was "already dead in all but a small physical degree". The fact is that he was alive, a person in being. However brief the time left for him, that life could not lawfully be extinguished. Similarly, however disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person. Thomas's condition made him especially vulnerable, and for that among other reasons, whether or not he might have died within a few months anyway, his life was protected by the law, and no one, not even his mother, could lawfully step in and bring it to a premature conclusion."
SPUC's bioethical experts will analyse and comment further on this fascinating judgment.

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Friday, 12 November 2010

SPUC is saving lives in Tanzania

I have just received the message below from my pro-life colleague, Scott Fischbach, the executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life:
"I am in the middle of a four-country visit to East Africa and just finished up a 3 day conference in Dar Es Salaam.  At our conference there was one set of fetal models as seen below, sent by SPUC years ago.  The lady who brought them told me many lives have been saved by women looking at them.  Notice the box is a real mess after all these years, but the models are pristine.  SPUC is saving lives in Tanzania -- good on ya!   Scott".
Yes Scott! As you say, the box (photograph from Scott, above) is a mess. If you're reading this post, please send me the lady's address  and we'll send her a new set with our compliments*.

MCCL is a US pro-life group which, in my experience, has often been in the vanguard of important developments in the pro-life movement. I learned a great deal from them for SPUC's work when I visited their offices over 25 years ago.

Scott is now leading a pro-life speaking tour in Africa which, MCCL notes "is under siege from pro-abortion forces from all corners of the world". He and his team are meeting African leaders to discuss what can be done to resist the "enormous pressure on African countries to abandon the protections they have in place for the unborn and their mothers" - not least pressures from the US Obama administration which is committing to promoting legalized abortion on demand in every country of the world; and pressures from the UK, where David Cameron and his government have made the promotion of abortion a fundamental plank of the government's overseas development policy.

And congratulations are due to the Fischbach family. Michelle, Scott's wife, has just assumed the presidency of the Minnesota Senate.

*"How You Began", produced by the SPUC educational research trust, is an anatomically accurate teaching aid that allows students to see, feel and touch the unborn child. It comprises five extremely realistic models designed and manufactured under the expert guidance of a team of leading foetal authorities including obstetricians and gynaecologists, pathologists and other experts in anatomy and embryology. In the classroom, the models are an ideal teaching aid for use at all Key stages. The models can be used in GPs' surgeries and ante-natal classes to enable pregnant women to understand what physical changes are taking place. They are also ideal for use in teaching embryology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and anatomy. They can be ordered here.

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pope Benedict makes major new statements defending families against (bishop-backed) sex ed

Pope Benedict has today published a new document, Verbum Domini ("The Word of the Lord"), an "apostolic exhortation" on the importance of Sacred Scripture. Pope Benedict has used this major document to underline the prior right of parents to educate their children (my emphases in bold):
85. ... Fidelity to God’s word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution [marriage] is in many ways under attack from the current mentality[,] the rise of ways of thinking which trivialize the human body ... The great mystery of marriage is the source of the essential responsibility of parents towards their children. Part of authentic parenthood is to pass on and bear witness to the meaning of life in Christ: through their fidelity and the unity of family life, spouses are the first to proclaim God’s word to their children.
On Monday, Pope Benedict told the Italian bishops' conference:
“The moral sphere has been confined to the subjective field...In order to invert this tendency, a generic call to values is not enough ... [Y]our decision to remind everyone who cares about the city of man and the welfare of new generations of their education responsibilities seems particularly appropriate. This vital alliance can only start with a renewed closeness to families, recognising and supporting their primary role in education. It is in families that the face of a people is forged".
And yesterday, Pope Benedict recalled his visit to Spain last weekend (where he made a series of strong pro-life/pro-family statements):
"I prayed intensely for families, the vital cells and the hope of society and of the Church ... My thoughts also went to the young, ... that they may discover the beauty, value and commitment of marriage in which a man and a woman form a family which generously accepts life and accompanies it from conception until natural end. Everything done to support marriage and the family, to help people in need, everything that serves to enhance man's greatness and his inviolable dignity, also helps to perfect society".
The statements are yet further major indications from the summit of the Catholic Church that the Catholic bishops of England and Wales' policy of co-operating with the government in the provision of access to abortion to children in Catholic schools seriously deviates from Catholic teaching. Today I've been helping host in Preston, Lancs. one of SPUC's Clergy Information Days. A retired Catholic headteacher there said to me that such a government policy is evil. Nothing is more evil than the corruption of children.

Thank God the Holy Father is praying intensely for us. In the circumstances, we need such prayers.

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Holy See at the UN stands up for mothers and their children

Peter Smith who, along with Pat Buckley represents SPUC at the United Nations (UN), has sent me the following encouraging report from New York:
"On the morning of 9 November, at the plenary meeting of the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly, Fr Philip Bene, representing the Holy See, gave the following Explanation of Position on the resolution to 'Support efforts to end obstetric fistula':
'On the adoption of this resolution, my delegation affirms its support of maternal and emergency obstetric care, skilled attendants at birth, and prenatal and postnatal care. Respecting the dignity of women is key to overcoming the problem of obstetric fistula and this entails addressing poverty and providing health care for them.

However, terms like “sexual and reproductive health”, which appear in the resolution, when misconstrued as constituting a right to abortion, do not help women. For this reason, my delegation once again reaffirms the reservations it has made in reference to this and other similar terms, that they do not create any abortion rights, and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, promotion or funding of abortion.

Finally, attempts to prevent obstetric fistula by pushing to developing countries reproductive health commodities does nothing for the overall wellbeing of women, for they treat women not as persons who must be respected and cared for but as objects of agendas of aid giving countries. Instead, what is needed is an approach which takes into account the overall wellbeing of women which necessarily includes sufficient health care for them.'
This medical condition was eradicated in developed countries some 80 years ago. When women have obstructed labour, without proper medical care, their bodies can be damaged and they are then incontinent. These poor women, who smell as a result of the condition, are then treated as social outcasts. Obstetric fistula is easily reparable with surgery.

This excellent "explanation of position" from the Holy See is just the start of our hopes for Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See's new Nuncio to UN headquarters in New York. If you would like to encourage Archbishop Chullikatt for the excellent statement on this subject, please e-mail him at office@holyseemission.org "
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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Euthanasia advocates don't look past the suffering to see the person, says disabled leader

Euthanasia victim Terri Schiavo
Alison Davis, the co-ordinator of No Less Human, a group within SPUC defending the right to life of the disabled, wrote a very powerful letter published recently in The Herald. Do read her letter in full on The Herald website, but I leave you with some key quotes, which speak for themselves:
  • "Mary Warnock [JS: the pro-euthanasia philosopher] makes a fundamental mistake when she suggests that so long as a bill legalising euthanasia/assisted suicide has sufficient “safeguards”, sick and disabled people need not worry that they will be first in the line of candidates for the lethal dose."
  • "Would the Warnocks of this world agree to add a waiting time – 10 or 20 years – to any bill they draw up, in case of a change of mind? Because human beings are fallible, because life can be good even with great pain, because nobody knows when doctors’ prognoses will be wrong, it is sheer folly to legalise assisted suicide for one group of people because they suffer in certain ways, while spending large amounts of money on “suicide prevention programmes” to prevent the suicides of others who suffer in a different way."
  • "Mary Warnock’s mistake is that she seems unable to look past the suffering to see the person, a sad affliction indeed."
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Monday, 8 November 2010

Pope leads the way for bishops with pro-life/pro-family catechesis in Spain

Pope Benedict XVI, visiting Spain this past weekend, made a series of strong statements on pro-life and pro-family issues, which I list below. His statements were clearly aimed at the Spanish government and parliament, which in recent years have passed legislation extending abortion and creating homosexual* rights. Pope Benedict's prophetic message in Spain is the very same catechesis extolled by Cardinal-elect Raymond Burke in his historic address last month to the World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome:
“Catechesis is a most fundamental responsibility which the Bishop exercises on behalf of the good of the faithful entrusted to his care, ultimately, of their eternal salvation ... Pope John Paul II declared ‘It is therefore the duty of every Bishop to give real priority in his particular Church to active and effective catechesis. He must demonstrate his personal concern through direct interventions aimed at promoting and preserving an authentic passion for catechesis’”.
Pope Benedict in Spain:

Welcome ceremony, Saturday:
"Like the Servant of God John Paul II, who from Compostela exhorted the old Continent to give a new impulse to its Christian roots, I too wish to encourage Spain and Europe to build their present and to project their future on the basis of the authentic truth about man, on the basis of the freedom which respects this truth and never harms it, and on the basis of justice for all, beginning with the poorest and the most defenceless."
Mass at Santiago de Compostela, Saturday:
"Allow me here to point out the glory of man, and to indicate the threats to his dignity resulting from the privation of his essential values and richness, and the marginalization and death visited upon the weakest and the poorest. One cannot worship God without taking care of his sons and daughters"
Mass at the Sagrada Familia, Saturday:
"[T]here also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure. For this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family."
Angelus, Sunday:
"Today I had the great joy of dedicating this church to him who, being the Son of the Most High, emptied himself and became man, and who, under the watchful care of Joseph and Mary, in the silence of the home of Nazareth, taught us without words of the dignity and the primordial value of marriage and the family, the hope of humanity, in which life finds its welcome from conception to natural death."
Visit to special education school, Sunday:
"In recent decades, remarkable advances in medicine have greatly contributed to the care of those in greatest need, advances which have been accompanied by a growing conviction of the importance of dedicated and humane treatment for the positive outcome of the healing process. Therefore, it is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity, so that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs.
...
I always remember in my prayers those who are dedicated to helping the suffering, and those who work tirelessly so that the handicapped can take their rightful place in society and not be marginalized because of their limitations."
* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Young people's knowledge gap is golden opportunity for pro-life education

Last month The Mail on Sunday reported on a survey of childless Britons aged 18 to 25 on the subject of children. According to the report, of those surveyed:
  • one in five think an umbilical cord is a musical note, and that pregnancy lasts for 12 months
  • around one in ten thinks that a placenta is a vegetable; a caesarean section is a religious cult; drinking tea or coffee will influence the colour of an unborn child’s hair; and eating red meat raises the likelihood of giving birth to a boy.
  • more than half would expect a baby to be walking and talking within the first year
Such lack of  knowledge is a gap which the pro-life movement can fill. SPUC speakers often report positive experiences after being invited to speak in a school, such as genuine interest in the issues from pupils and a warm welcome by teachers. Pupils are particularly intrigued by SPUC's set of anatomically-correct foetal models.

It is also vital for scientifically accurate information about unborn children to be imparted to pupils so that they can spot pro-abortion misinformation. In this country, the pro-abortion lobby - with the active assistance of the Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales, an agency of the Catholic bishops' conference -  is working to entrench itself in schools through sex and relationships education (SRE). We must hope that the recently-elected coalition government will not force schools to teach SRE and will not resurrect the previous government's plan to impose an anti-life/anti-family curriculum upon our children and grandchildren.


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