Saturday, 13 August 2011

Equality legislation is used to defend conscientious objection to abortion

Congratulations to the Thomas More Legal Centre who successfully backed two nurses when they refused to work in a weekly abortion clinic in their hospital.  As a result of their representations, the hospital backed down without the matter going to court.

Last February I reported that the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) had successfully defended health professionals' right to conscientious objection in the high court. SPUC raised the issue in a case brought by the British Pregnancy Advisory Centre (BPAS) which had wanted to be allowed to give abortion drugs to women to take away and use elsewhere. BPAS lost their case.  Mr Justice Supperstone, rejected the argument (relating to conscientious objection) put forward by the barrister for BPAS (the "Claimant") in these terms:

"Ms Lieven does not accept that the Claimant's interpretation of section 1 [treatment] of the Act is inconsistent with section 4 [conscientious objection] of the Act. Ms Gemma White, for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, intervening, submits that it is, as there will continue to be many situations in which medical professionals, in particular nurses and midwives, are asked to administer abortifacient drugs; if this claim is successful they will not be entitled to the protection of section 4 ... [BPAS' argument] is no answer, in my view, to Ms White's submission that Parliament clearly did not intend that an action which directly causes the termination of pregnancy should be outside the scope of section 4."
The two nurses backed by the Thomas More Legal Centre were employed at a hospital for ordinary nursing duties. They were then allocated to work once a week at an abortion clinic in the hospital. The abortion process did not involve surgical abortion but the increasingly common process of "early medical abortion" - which was also the subject of the BPAS case in which SPUC intervened earlier this year. It involves killing the unborn baby  by means of a combination of drugs rather than surgery. Women are issued with the drug mifepristone followed some days later by administration of the drug misoprostol which then helps to expel the embryo from the uterus.

When they became aware that they were participating in abortion they told their management that they did not want to continue but were then told that they had no choice in the matter. One manager in fact commented "What would happen if we allowed all the Christian nurses to refuse?"

The nurses approached the hospital's Catholic chaplain who contacted the Thomas More Legal Centre (TMLC). From the facts it was clear that the hospital had not recognised or accepted that the nurses had a legal right to refuse to participate.

Early medical abortion has been held by the High Court in the BPAS case (above) to be an abortion procedure under the Abortion Act 1967 and as such the nurses had an absolute right to refuse to particpate under the conscientious objection provisions of section 4 of the Abortion Act. TMLC wrote to the hospital stating that the nurses were refusing to work in the clinic and quoting their rights under section 4 of the Abortion Act.

The letter also stated that their belief in the sanctity of life from conception onwards was a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act and therefore any attempt to pressure them into participating in the abortion clinic or to suggest that their refusal would affect their career would be illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

According to the Thomas More Legal Centre, this particular interpretation of the Equality Act had never, to their knowledge, been argued before. However, since the courts had accepted that the philosphical belief in global warming is protected under equality legislation, TMLC could see no reason why belief that human life begins at conception should not be equally protected.

The hospital attempted to tell the nurses that they could be excused from actually administering the abortion inducing drugs but would otherwise have to work in the clinic. TMLC again wrote making it clear that this proposal was unacceptable because the nurses would still be morally complicit in abortion if they worked as nurses in the abortion clinic even if they did not actually administer the pills and again relying on section 4 of the Abortion Act and the Equality Act. The hospital eventually backed down and the nurses were allocated to other duties.

Neil Addison (pictured above), the national director of The Thomas More Legal Centre, says: "I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to represent these brave nurses. Taking the stand they did took immense moral courage and I am delighted that they have been successful."

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Friday, 12 August 2011

Research into impact of abortion on abortionists is needed

Dr Sharma is facing charges for
misconduct while assisting with an abortion.
The Daily Mail has reported that Dr. Narendra Sharma (pictured), an anesthetist at a Marie Stopes abortion facility in Manchester, has been accused of using the hands of sedated women to perform sexual acts on himself as they underwent abortions. Dr. Sharma, is reportedly facing allegations of misconduct for a second time having been cleared of similar charges in 2009.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is bringing the case against Dr. Sharma. Tim Smith, the GMC’s lawyer, has said: "It is the GMC’s case that Dr Sharma was using the hand of this semi-conscious patient undertaking this procedure for his own sexual stimulation and gratification”. Two members of staff at the abortion facility have claimed they witnessed the incident.

To my mind, the alleged appalling abuse of this mother also brings home the horrific nature of the professional task of the co-perpetrator - that is, killing this mother's unborn child. It's like a scene from the holocaust but this is a holocaust taking place right now in the heart of Britain. The agents of this holocaust work for legally recognized charities funded by the British government. Moreover, research into the effects of abortion on the behaviour of the health professionals who carry out the killing urgently needs to be commissioned and conducted.

Every abortion is a tragedy. Personally, I find the story of this alleged incident particularly tragic because it highlights the vulnerable position into which women seeking abortions put themselves. Those who counsel women and offer them alternatives to abortion will often tell you that most women do not want abortions, but choose them because of pressure coming from third parties. Let's pray and continue to work so that abortion is recognised for what it is - a crime that kills babies and violates women. 

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Pro-abortion Jon Cruddas MP reappears on Catholic speaking circuit

I recently blogged about the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) which held its 33rd annual conference last month.  I explained that one of the people invited to speak at the NJPN's conference was pro-abortion Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham.

In December Mr Cruddas told The Catholic Herald that abortion:
"should be safe, legal and rare".
Since 2000, Jon Cruddas MP voted 18 times with the anti-life lobby, for example voting in favour of the anti-life Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act at second reading (which denotes approval for the bill's principles) - a law designed to kill millions of innocent human beings deliberately created never to be born. He also voted for the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill (now Act) at second reading and third reading (which denotes approval of the bill as a whole). Mr Cruddas has expressed his pride in his voting record in support of the homosexual agenda.* In this connection I draw attention to the June 2004 US bishops' document Catholics in Political Life which says:
"the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
I now hear that Jon Cruddas is due to speak at Blackfriars Hall, the Dominican permanent private hall of the University of Oxford. Organization for this event is led by the Las Casas Institute Halley-Stewart scholars Robert Heimburger and Marcos Medina. The event is entitled ‘The Modern State and the Kingdom of God’. Jon Cruddas is giving talk five Building Democracy.

It is appalling that a "Catholic" politician who holds pro-abortion opinions has been invited to speak at this event and on this topic. Blessed John Paul II wrote the following about democracy, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (20):
If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus society becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail. Still, in the face of other people's analogous interests, some kind of compromise must be found, if one wants a society in which the maximum possible freedom is guaranteed to each individual. In this way, any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost, and social life ventures on to the shifting sands of complete relativism. At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life. This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people-even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part. The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: "How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practised: some individuals are held to be deserving of defence and others are denied that dignity?" When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.
In his 2006 interview for Compass Youth, Jon Cruddas MP responds to his interviewer as follows:
Q. Like Ruth Kelly, you are a Catholic - and some people have suggested you are not progressive enough on important issues like gay rights and abortion. What do you think of these issues?
A. I sometimes feel like starting these sorts of responses with “my name is Jon Cruddas and I am a Roman Catholic!” It’s not something I particularly feel should be a big issue. I am more than happy to debate the real issues though. I don’t know what progressive “enough” means, but I can give the facts from my votes in Parliament. Since 2001, there have been 14 votes in the Commons to extend equal rights for gay people. I made sure I attended every single one, and I voted in favour of extending rights for gay people in every vote. On abortion, there is a vote on Tuesday next week [31st October] in Parliament. A Tory MP has proposed strict restrictions on a woman’s access to abortion services. I will vote against that Bill on Tuesday and would vote the same way on similar legislation in future. As Bill Clinton put it, I think abortion should be safe, legal but rare.
Q. So Jon, do you believe in a woman's right to choose?
A. Yes.
MPs who hold such views constitute a danger to the most vulnerable people in society. Jon Cruddas MP shows himself to be dismissive of the right to life, a self-evident right founded on natural law and ascertained by right reason He is also dismissive of the Catholic faith which has consistently taught and upheld the sanctity of human life from conception [Evangelium Vitae 57]. Both his political and his Catholic credentials show Jon Cruddas MP to be unqualified to speak on building democracy.

*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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Human Life International announce new leadership team

Fr. Shenan Boquet, the new HLI president 
I am delighted to hear that Human Life International (HLI) has appointed a new leadership team with Father Shenan Boquet (pictured) becoming the organization’s president and Father Peter West as vice president for missions. HLI has announced:
“After an extensive search in the US and abroad, and much prayerful discernment, the board of directors is pleased to announce that they have selected the team of Fr. Shenan Boquet and Fr. Peter West to carry on the legacy of HLI’s founder, the late Fr. Paul Marx. Fr. Boquet brings a great breadth of leadership and pastoral experience and passion for the defense of life and family to the position as president. Fr. West has a long and distinguished record of advocacy for life and family both in parish life and with Priests for Life, and was uniquely suited to head up HLI’s missionary work as vice president for missions. 
“Both Fr. Boquet and Fr. West come to HLI with the full support of their respective bishops, and we are grateful to both bishops for allowing them to serve HLI. We are confident that under the leadership of Fr. Boquet and the strategic guidance of Fr. West, HLI will continue to be the leading international pro-life organization. “Further, HLI is truly blessed to have had Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Car├ímbula at the helm during a year of transition. We are deeply grateful for all Monsignor was able to accomplish in his short time as interim president, and while he’ll be missed at HLI headquarters, we are pleased that he will continue to serve HLI’s mission as he resumes leadership of the Rome office.”
I wish Fr Boquet and the new team all the best in their vital work defending life in 105 countries around the world.

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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

SPUC tells BCAP why weakening restrictions on abortion ads is wrong

The Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) consultation has proposed, among other things, that rules barring commercial abortion providers from advertising on TV be relaxed. SPUC has made a submission to BCAP to point out why its proposals must be completely rejected.

Allowing abortion providers to advertise their ‘services’ on TV means treating abortion as though it is any other 'service', even though this purportedly medical service is, in fact, nearly always performed for social reasons and is not a normal service.

Such advertising will be socially harmful, not least because it has “the effect of normalising the treatment of children as wanted or unwanted products”.

While abortion providers offer little or no practical help to women who choose not to have an abortion, and in a number of cases campaign for an extreme liberalisation of current abortion laws, those organisations which refuse to refer for abortion and which do offer genuine practical assistance to pregnant women are not benefitted in any way, while abortion-providers are.

Of the requirement that any PCAS services must state if they do not refer for abortion, SPUC has noted that those organisations which are not directly or indirectly part of the abortion industry will be singled out as “the assumption [of the BCAP Consultation] is that abortion is so normal a procedure that those groups wishing to assist women in bringing their babies to term are required to warn women explicitly that they will not ‘assist’ them in doing the reverse. Such a requirement would not be made of other counsellors.”

BCAP have returned in their quest to weaken restrictions on abortion advertising. Their latest consultation discriminates against prolife charities and seeks to treat abortion as no different from any other commercial service. Allowing such advertising will further betray women who have already been let down by our society.

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Monday, 8 August 2011

The Good Counsel Network purchase ultrasound scanning service

I was very pleased this morning to hear some excellent news from The Good Counsel Network. Stuart McCullough writes:
The Good Counsel Network now has London's first pro-woman, pro-life ultrasound scanning service, aimed at offering women who are considering abortion a free scan of their baby. As you may remember from our Christmas Newsletter we were looking at more ways of saving babies from abortion. As we stated then:
One Pregnancy Centre in the USA reported that 90% of their clients kept their babies after seeing them on ultrasound. Another found women choosing to keep their baby rose from 33.7% to 63.5% after ultrasound was introduced at their Centre. We already can show women video footage of babies being scanned at different stages of pregnancy – but showing them their own baby is an even more profound experience, they can see that their baby is alive and kicking and that he or she is by no means a “blob of tissue”. 
I have written previously about the pro-life work of the The Good Counsel Network. They have already raised most of the costs to pay for the ultrasound machine, but they still need to raise £5,500.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, you can do so through their website.

Those readers who pray for the pro-life movement may also like to keep this new initiative in their intentions.

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