Saturday, 22 January 2011

Germany must not forget the lessons of history by legalising embryo research

I am very disturbed to read that Germany's National Academy of Sciences (known as the Leopoldina) has recommended the explicit legalisation of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which embryonic children are tested for genetic anomalies and destroyed if deemed unworthy of life. Although IVF is permitted in Germany, embryo research per se is banned, though last July the federal supreme court ruled that PGD did not fall under the ban. A main reason for the ban is a desire to prevent any repetition of Nazi eugenics, which so corrupted German science and medicine and which caused the deaths of millions, including the sick and disabled. (Another, newer reason to maintain the ban would be the development of ethical alternatives.)

Eugenics is not something of the Nazi past: it is being increasingly promoted and practised around the world under a variety of approved guises. The very foundation of human rights is at risk once members of the human family have their right to life negated because they are labelled as disposable. I am therefore very glad to announce that Dr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant, will be visiting Britain in March to address clergy around the country on the subject of eugenics.

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Friday, 21 January 2011

Martin Amis wants the old to be killed for the sake of the young

Martin Amis, the British novelist, has continued the celebrity-driven campaign for assisted suicide in a broadcast on Channel Four on Tuesday evening. Prior to the broadcast, Mr Amis was reported as saying that assisted suicide is:
"an evolutionary inevitability. We are living too long. It's not viable. I can't think of any reason to stay alive once the mind goes. It is an existential nightmare that you can't get out of life. Medical science got us into this and medical science will have to get us out. Of course, there are legal difficulties, but people are ahead of the Government on this. It is a residue of Christian feeling – this idea of the sanctity of life – that is holding things back, but we have to get rid of this primitive feeling."
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, gave me his reaction to Mr Amis's reported comments:
“Mr Amis’ idea of evolution is bizarrely contradictory. He says that euthanasia is ‘an evolutionary inevitability’ because human beings ‘are living too long’. He blames ‘medical science’ for what he regards as an unviable excess of longevity. Yet many of his fellow atheists would regard the recent advances in medical science as evidence that the human race is evolving into a higher state of understanding, beyond the Christian sanctity-of-life idea which Amis dismisses as a 'primitive feeling'. Mr Amis should also revise his understanding of history. Societies which lack or reject the Christian sanctity-of-life idea descend frequently into primitive atavism. The logical conclusion of Mr Amis’ comment that he 'can't think of any reason to stay alive once the mind goes' is approval of the murder of the mentally incapable, such as under the Nazi euthanasia programme.”
As I noted last January (after Mr Amis proposed the establishment of death booths), when opposition by the Catholic Church put a halt to the adult euthanasia programme within Nazi Germany, the technology was sent to Eastern Europe for use in the Jewish extermination programme. This included mobile gas vans and then the infamous gas chambers

In last night's broadcast, Mr Amis said:
"I imagined that, in the future, there would be something like a civil war between the young and the old."
Mr Amis is partly right. As the Pontifical Council for the Family said in 1994:
"One of the more serious consequences of the ageing of the population is the risk of damage to solidarity between generations. This could lead to real struggles between the generations for a share in economic resources. Perhaps discussions about euthanasia are not extraneous to these conflicting trends."
The "ageing of the population" means not simply an increase in the total number of people living past working age. Before the mid-20th century, most countries had a significantly larger number of people under 16 than over 60. Since the mid-20th century, all developed countries and an increasing number of developing countries have been gradually inverting that population pyramid. That inversion is not only or even primarily due to increased longevity, but to fertility rates in the West having been below replacement level for decades, which in turn is mainly the result of contraception and abortion. Mr Amis wants to hand victory in the civil war to the young by promoting the death of the old. Thus we can see how contraception, abortion and euthanasia really do form a culture of death, where people turn in on each other. How different from the culture of life, centred on the family, where both young and old are welcomed, cherished and protected.

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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Irish voters must use their general election vote for life and family

Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, has announced 11 March as the date of the Irish general election. My colleague Pat Buckley of European Life Network (pictured) has written some important guidance on his blog, which I encourage all my Irish readers to follow. Pat writes:
"I would encourage all my Irish colleagues to contact representatives of all parties to clarify their position on the critical social issues such as the right to life of the unborn and to vote only for pro-life, pro-family candidates. It would be a grave error for political parties to focus only on economic policies when there are equally disastrous social policies that require urgent attention

...

I am convinced that strong statements now by all parties on the importance of the natural family based on marriage, the right to life from conception to natural death, the rights of parents in respect of their children's development and education together with real commitments to improve their position in the future administration, will attract real support from the electorate particularly if these issues are held sacred and and are non-negotiable and without compromise.

I would also ask colleagues to contact me when and if you succeed in getting real commitments from potential candidates so that we can make a strategic list of candidates who are willing to make firm commitments on critical issues such as the right to life of the unborn."
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The pro-abortion lobby's own data shows that more contraception is counter-productive

Earlier this week the Guttmacher Institute released its abortion figures which revealed that, after years of decline, the abortion rate in the United States rose very slightly between 2005 and 2008.

Sharon Camp, President and Ceo of the Guttmacher Institute, said that this increase indicated an urgent need to make contraceptives more widely available:
"our stalled progress should be an urgent message to policymakers that we need to do more to increase access to contraceptive services to prevent unintended pregnancy, while ensuring access to abortion".
This sentiment was echoed in a press release by Planned Parenthood, one of the world's major abortion providers, which said that:
"[t]he first step we can take as a nation is to increase access to affordable contraception".
However, according to the report 54% of the women who had abortions had used contraception in the month that they became pregnant and only 8% of women had never used any form of contraception.

This is an all too familiar script. In the UK we know that abortion rates for under-16s are higher now than when the British government's strategy to cut abortion rates was introduced in 1999. A major focus of that strategy was to inform children about contraception and to make contraception easily available to school children. Professor David Paton of Nottingham University has studied in detail the depth of the strategy's failure.

That contraception does not prevent either unintended pregnancies or abortion is evident from the Guttmacher report. As I blogged earlier this month, there is growing evidence of the close association between contraception and abortion. Abortion follows in the wake of contraception. The provision of contraception not only fails to prevent unplanned pregnancies but results in unborn children being victimised to death as the unwelcome consequences of so-called contraceptive failure.

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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

It's good news that the over-population myth is crumbling

Dominic Lawson of The Independent newspaper has written an excellent article using the latest information to debunk the over-population myth (about which I blogged several times in 2009: 15 Jan, 30 May, 1 June, 28 Aug, 20 Nov, 29 Dec). Do read his article in full. Mr Lawson writes:
"the experts are coming round to the view that it has all been one giant false alarm".
He cites a number of useful new sources, including:
  • Dr Tim Fox, Institution of Mechanical Engineers: 'We can meet the challenge of feeding a planet of 9 billion people through the application of existing technologies'
  • "[D]etailed report on "sustainability" published last week by the French national agricultural and development research agencies came up with the same answer."
  • "Joel Cohen, the professor of populations at Columbia University's Earth Institute, told National Geographic: Those who say the whole problem [of climate change] is population are wrong. It's not even the dominant factor.'"
Mr Lawson argues cogently that fear of the earth being over-populated is based on misanthropy and hype. This is good news, because that misanthropy and hype will eventually crumble, giving way to what Lawson calls "rational optimism" and thus to protection of the unborn, the disabled and the elderly. The culture of death is narrow, negative and dangerously foolish. The culture of life is open, positive and confidently real. The pro-life movement, the planet and its peope have a bright future - however dark the passing cloud of the over-population myth.


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Monday, 17 January 2011

Pope Benedict is calling our bishops to obedience on pro-life/pro-family issues

On Friday Pope Benedict gave an important pro-life and pro-family address to civic officials in Rome and its surrounding region. Pope Benedict, describing the family as the
"the primary cell of society...founded on marriage between a man and a woman"
insisted that
"the family must, then, be supported by policies ... which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts".
later adding that:
"[L]arge families...are too often penalised".
Pope Benedict continued:
"The approval of forms of union which pervert the essence and goal of the family ends up penalising those people who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognised. In this context, the Church looks with favour upon all initiatives which seek to educate young people to experience love as a giving of self, with an exalted and oblational view of sexuality. To this end the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal".
Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, must therefore explain to married couples why he stands by his approval of "gay civil partnerships" in the light of numerous condemnations of such unions made by Pope Benedict and other Church authorities.* He must also explain why the Catholic Education Service (CES) welcomed and helped draft anti-life and anti-family objectives of education.

Pope Benedict also spoke about abortion:
"Since 'openness to life is at the centre of true development' the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent. The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centres and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life. Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy".
SPUC's sister organisation ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline), formerly British Victims of Abortion (BVA), and SPUC's friends at the Good Counsel Network, are among the leading organisations helping women in those difficult situations.

Pope Benedict did not fail to omit the threat of euthanasia:
"[T]he ageing population raises new problems. ... Although many old people can reply on the support and care of their own families, growing numbers are alone and have need of medical and healthcare assistance"
expressing a hope that Catholic healthcare institutions will:
"renew[] my call to promote a culture of respect for life until its natural end".
Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the Department for Citizenship and Christian Responsbility of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, therefore needs to explain to older people why he endorses the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the new prosecutorial guidelines on assisted suicide, thereby endangering their lives?

I have read that the attitude of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to papal and Vatican texts is often to claim that "This is England, things are different here, this text doesn't apply here". Such an attitude simply does not wash. The natural moral law and the Catholic Church's teaching on it are universal. The moral milieu in England is very similar to Rome today and its region, to most of the rest of the developed world, and to parts of the developing world, i.e. abortion, euthanasia, contraception and homosexuality are prevalent.

Last Sunday's Gospel was St John's testimony of the wedding feast at Cana. Mary told the servants to: "Do whatever He tells you." Pope Benedict is speaking with the voice and authority of Christ when he upholds Catholic natural law teaching on pro-life/pro-family issues. The Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales must therefore choose whether or not they are the obedient servants of Christ.

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught (Evangelium Vitae, 1995, para.97) 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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